I have switched from typing on a Qwerty keyboard layout to a #Colemak one

Today marks the completion of my first week in Colemak!

I needed a new keyboard and it was when I looked at what was available that I also ended up reading about alternative layouts such as Dvorak and Colemak. The advantages for speed and ergonomics were clear.

As it is such a simple matter on Ubuntu Linux to switch layouts, I had a few minutes play with Colemak thinking I might try it some day. I considered, before deciding definitely to switch, doing a speed test to see how fast I was (after over 30 years of touch typing). I forgot! Now I will never know.


After three days at a conference and not typing, I returned to the office. I printed the layout of Colemak and propped it against the monitor and slowly started to type. I intended doing it for about 15 minutes but ended up staying in Colemak all day. It was not fast but still faster than handwriting speed. And I am not a typist so did not have loads to type, just some documents and a few emails.

On day two I did some of the exercises from the Colemak in 9 Days site. I concentrated on getting a grasp of the home row layout. An advantage with Colemak is that the most used keys are on the home row. Cracking the home row moved me forward quicker than I had expected. It was then that I realised that I had done it, I had switched. There was no going back.

How to do the £ sign in Colemak? Hold down Alt Gr and Shift with the right hand and click the number 4 key.

gscan2pdf paper geometry on Fujitsu S1500 in Linux

I have been in the process of going paperless now that I have a bulk scanner, a Fujitsu S1500 (a great Ebay bargain). What a difference it has been making to my life. I have got rid of lots of paper archives and uploaded to the cloud. One document of 90 pages went through in a flash and is now uploaded to my Evernote. An old book of prayers (out of copyright) was pulled apart and is now uploaded.

I am very pleased with the Fujitsu S1500. I did download the Windows software to use on a Windows machine I have access to but as I usually work in Ubuntu I have ended up just using it in my favourite operating system. It performs very well in Linux using the gscan2pdf interface which is already part of the Ubuntu repository.

A simple problem I had was telling the scanner what paper size I was using when in gscan2pdf. I looked for answers on the web but found nothing very clear so I figured it out myself. This is my offering for anyone else who had been puzzled and is still looking for the answer.

In the picture below I have entered the numbers for an A4 sheet. Whatever odd size you want to scan, you simply measure it in millimetres and add those measurements to the bottom two fields where it says page width and page height.

You then need to add a second lot of measurements that will be only slightly less than the page width and page height. Bottom-right x is the width and bottom-right y is the height.  An easy way is to put in something in less, then using the up arrow the correct number will be chosen for you. For the example below, with a page width of 209.97 (width of an A4 page) you put in the ‘bottom-right x’ field the number 209.00 then click on the up arrow (which is to the right of the field) and the maximum number available will be chosen automatically. You then do something similar with the ‘bottom-right y’ field

Was I really the first to get the Android Bitcasa App? Infinite storage, free, what’s not to like?


I have a Pogoplug but to be able to have infinite cloud storage – free – provides a whole new range of possibilities.

The app can be set to connect with the camera so it will upload all photos and videos. It can also (like other similar apps) be set to only upload when on wifi.

Bitcasa has the usual options for synchronization and the user can decide what to have on a local machine (or phone) and what to store in the cloud.

How to install a Brother DCP7030 printer and scanner in Ubuntu

I have installed this printer and scanner a few times but this time something went wrong the last time due to me not paying attention to what I was doing. So here are the instructions and how to avoid doing what I did that resulted in an error message.

You will need to download some drivers from the Brother website.

You will need the two following files for the printer:

For the scanner you will need:

Get them from here

Download them and have them on your desktop.

First thing that I did wrong the last time was the very first step. So ENSURE PRINTER IS PLUGGED IN THE USB AND SWITCHED ON!

Place driver on desktop and open a terminal (to open a terminal just type ‘terminal’ in the box after clicking on ‘dash home’):

You need to type an instruction that has system wide authority (what is known as ‘root’ authority) so to do that the word ‘sudo’ goes in front of the command.

You will need to copy the first command below (sudo dpkg -i –force-all /home/graham/Desktop/brdcp7030lpr-2.0.2-1.i386.deb) then right click in the Terminal and paste it in, then press enter. You can paste it in in two stages.

First you can paste in
sudo dpkg -i –force-all

Then you go to the driver on your desktop and right click on it and choose Copy. This will get the full address of the driver including your user name. You then paste it into the terminal so you get a complete command like this (make sure it is your user name that appears in the command, not mine) and press Enter:

sudo dpkg -i –force-all /home/graham/Desktop/brdcp7030lpr-2.0.2-1.i386.deb

You will then be asked for your password, enter it and press Enter. Then paste this next command in (with your name, not mine) and press enter:

sudo dpkg -i –force-all /home/graham/Desktop/cupswrapperDCP7030-2.0.2-1.i386.deb

Then in the terminal check the printer has installed by pasting in the following and pressing Enter:
dpkg -l | grep Brother

You should see your printer mentioned.

Next you are going to look into a file on your machine that controls things. To do this you are going to open your text editor called Gedit, but you will do it so that it can open and save ‘read only’ files. So in the terminal you paste the following:
sudo gedit /etc/printcap

For USB Connection (Default) you will want to see that the parameter of lp is “:lp=/dev/usb/lp0”

Then restart printer by pasting in this next command and pressing enter:
sudo restart /etc/init.d/lps

To install the scanner you need to have a small hidden programme on your machine called ‘sane-utils’. To ensure you have it installed already, make sure you have a scanner programme installed from the Software Centre (the shopping bag icon in your launcher open the Software Centre) such as ‘Simple Scan’ or ‘Xsane Image Scanning’ (which I prefer).

Run in terminal (you should be good at this by now):
sudo dpkg -i –force-all /home/graham/Desktop/brscan3-0.2.11-4.i386.deb

sudo dpkg -i –force-all /home/graham/Desktop/brscan-skey-0.2.3-0.i386.deb

Then run scan-key-tool and try the test scanning.
Run scan-key-tool (The program will run as a background process). To do that you paste in:
sudo brscan-skey

Then to check if the scan-key-tool detects your scanner device by pasting in:
brscan-skey -l

Now you are going to edit a ‘read only’ file at ‘/lib/udev/rules.d/40-libsane.rules’. If you want to read a bit more about how to do this you can go to a previous post of mine here. This time we will do it the quick way.

Step 1. Paste in the following command and a text document will open. Now this is a bit of the programme that runs your machine so DO NOT DELETE ANYTHING. The command is:

sudo gedit /lib/udev/rules.d/40-libsane.rules

Step 2. You will see a long list of devices and you are going to add yours. You do this by adding the following two lines to the end of the device list. This is where I went wrong, I pasted them in the wrong place. It didn’t do any harm, but the scanner didn’t work.

The two lines must go after where is says: LABEL=”libsane_usb_rules_begin” and before the line “# The following rule will disable …”

I recommend you stick it after LABEL=”libsane_usb_rules_begin” so you don’t have to go to the bottom of the list.

The two lines to be pasted in are:

# Brother scanners
ATTRS{idVendor}==”04f9″, ENV{libsane_matched}=”yes”

THEN SAVE THE TEXT DOCUMENT or the changes you have just made will be lost and you will have to do that bit again.

Now reboot the machine and both your printer and scanner should work great.

Now you deserve cake!

Gnome in Ubuntu 11.10 Classic Gnome or Gnome Shell

I have nothing against Unity but on a least on one of my very old machines is runs too slow. There are too many delays as the machine tries to do something that should be routine. Running the Classic Gnome is quicker on that machine. I also found Classic Gnome snappier on my netbook (NC10). It was simple to do in the last release, just select Gnome as one of the options from the log in page.

So, I upgraded the netbook to 11.10 and it automatically reverted to Unity. Not a surprise, I thought. I went to the log in page and clicked on the gear wheel but there was no option to load in Gnome. It is no longer included in this latest Ubuntu release!

Adding Gnome is very simple and there are two options, the traditional Classic Gnome, or the latest Gnome Shell. Gnome Shell is great.

If you want Classic Gnome go here for excellent instructions.

I went for Gnome Shell on my NC10. All the advantages of Unity but with a look I prefer, quicker (I think) and icons that are a better size for the small netbook screen. If you want a very simply way to install Gnome Shell go here for excellent instructions. There is even a button there that you can click and the rest will happen automatically.