Fix Blurry Icons in Ubuntu

If you’ve recently tweaked the appearance of your Ubuntu installation, and selected anything other than the default Human theme, chances are that you may find some of your icons blurry. This is because the Human theme uses 24×24 icons and (probably) all others use 22×22. Therefore, choosing anything other than Human theme would compress all remaining icons on the main menu that has no corresponding icon from the newly selected theme, making them blurry.

For example, the following image has been taken after choosing the Glossy theme:

Blurry Icons
Note the icons for Keyring Manager and Network (highlighted)

If you don’t like the Human theme, but would like to preserve the crisp icons, you have to create a GTK+ 2 settings file. Do the following steps on a per-user basis:

  1. Open your favorite text editor, and create a text file ~/.gtkrc-2.0.[1]
  2. Place the line, gtk-icon-sizes = "panel-menu=24,24".
  3. Save and exit.
  4. Log off and re-log onto your account.

But, you may want to share the crisp icons for other users, too. So, you might as well hack into the theme file. The following steps would tell you how:

  1. Open a terminal application.[2]
  2. Type in, sudo <text editor command> /usr/share/themes/<theme directory>/gtk-2.0/gtkrc.[3]
  3. Type in your password for superuser status.
  4. Place the line, gtk-icon-sizes = "panel-menu=24,24" on any line outside any brackets.
  5. Save and exit.
  6. Log off and re-log onto your account.

The menus would then use 24×24-pixel icons that retains the original crisp.

Crisp Icons
Note the icons for Keyring Manager and Network (highlighted)

I’ve used more than a couple searches and mailing list pages to figure this out, but the most unambiguous workaround source surprisingly comes from the OpenOffice.org section on the Ubuntu bug tracker on Launchpad.

Footnotes:

  1. ^ where ~ points to your home directory
  2. ^ click on: Main Menu » Applications » Accessories » Terminal
  3. ^ for example: sudo nano /usr/share/themes/Glossy/gtk-2.0/gtkrc to edit the Glossy theme on nano

P.S.:

I haven’t actually tried the per-user setting file, but the system-wide theme hack worked for me, definitely. I just included it according to the instructions I’ve read for those who cannot acquire a superuser status on their systems, thus, the permission to edit the theme files.

E-mushiness: Ham or Spam?

I have posted here interesting things I’ve received as spam, but nothing seems to get close to appear ham like this one. It was nevertheless caught by my spam filter, but its idea is so unusual, I just can’t let it pass. It even has a companion Web site that looks legitimate.

Quoting the full message (it’s quite long, by the way):

A man is trying a very unusual way to propose to his girlfriend. He wants people to forward an email to as many people as possible and he hopes that it will eventually get to his girlfriend. Details here: http://www.proposal-to-mary.com

Here is what he wants people to send by email:

You could help me a lot to spread my proposal to Mary – it is important that it is distributed as widely as possible so that it eventually reaches Mary. If you would like to support my proposal to Mary, please send the following text by email to a lot of people 🙂

————- SNIP (email text follows) —————

WHEN YOU RECEIVE THIS, PLEASE HELP TO DISTRIBUTE IT TO OTHER PEOPLE!

For a long time I have tried to find a special way to propose marriage to my girlfriend Mary, whom I know for five years now. I wanted it very special, romantic and memorable, something our grandchildren would still remember.

And here is my idea: I will send out the proposal to Mary to 50 complete strangers, people I don’t know – hoping, that they will forward my proposal to many people, which in turn forward it again etc. And some day, I hope, it will reach Mary, after it has travelled a very long way. I know, it will take a long time and I am quite nervous…

From the poem MY Mary will know immediately that the proposal is for her.

I have created a homepage (http://www.proposal-to-mary.com) where you can find the current status of my quest. You can use the homepage to check if the proposal has already reached Mary (in that case it is not necessary anymore to forward the mail).

Once the proposal has reached Mary, I will put a note on these pages. Also I will publish there how many people have read the proposal so that everybody can see how far it has spread and that it is getting closer to Mary.

And of course you will find there what I am waiting for most: Mary’s answer! I can’t tell you, how nervous I am… Will she accept my proposal? Will she like the unusual way how she got it, through the hands of thousands of messengers all over the world?

Please cross your fingers for me! And please – help me by sending the mail to your friends to help it spread, so that it eventually reaches Mary.

And here is my proposal:

Mary, please forgive me, as you know English is not my native language. And I am not a poet. But I mean it from my heart.

My angel,

Five years ago, I will always remember the day
When fate made us meet, blissful Alaskan moments in May
Earth spun around us and a journey began
Love, warmth, happiness, enough the years to span.

The longer it lasts the more grows our bond
And with 80 still – of you I will be fond
Whatever happens, I will stay at your side
Through good and bad, together let us stride

No second with you was ever wasted
You are the sweetest I have ever tasted
We have spent so many years – why not a life?
Mary, will you marry me – and become my wife?

Mary, if you have received that and have recognized me, then give me a sign so that I can continue with the romantic part of my proposal…

————- SNIP (email text end) —————

I do have one friend named Mary, though I can’t see any connections she may have with this German from the United States … or is there, Maple? Heh.

Anyway, the site claims it makes no money from this, and I could agree—it doesn’t direct emails to a central address, which may then be a harvester, nor does it serve ads on the site.

So … what do you think? Is this proposal to Mary a real case of e-mushiness, or just a publicity stunt? Or maybe just a new way of creating chain mail that people are (probably) more likely to send? Would you help this seemingly romantic man, if you think other than skepticism? Tell me on the comments below. 🙂

Show Off Your Desktop

Lexie had me tag myself for showing off her simple, albeit funny, desktop. I really want to do the meme, though I had a little difficulty picking which one out of four systems (or maybe every one) I use I should show, and from which systems I’d pick five of my favorite applications. I eventually decided to go exclusively for the best one (system).

The meme goes like this: Post a screen shot of your desktop, and list five of your favorite applications.

And, so, here’s my desktop:

My Ubuntu Desktop

The top five applications I currently can’t live without include:

  1. Mozilla Firefox: the best and most extensible Web browser there is. It even runs fast on Linux. Though Linux has inherent security features, the security Firefox gave me when I was still on Windows gave me more peace of mind while browsing the Web.

    Addons: ColorZilla, Download Statusbar, Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer, FxIF, Organize Status Bar, Screen grab!, SearchStatus, ShowIP, Web Developer

  2. GNOME Terminal: a command line interface for Ubuntu, which I use for almost anything not readily available on a GUI.

    Separate apps I run on terminal: SVN, GNU nano

  3. Rhythmbox: Ubuntu’s default music player. This app isn’t really full-featured, IMO. It lacks an equalizer and configurable global hotkeys,[1] among others. But, its readily available plugins that include a very good iPod support, and Last.fm scrobbling makes up for everything. Notably, iPods’ music content could be read and played without syncing.[2] And, it has LIRC support I am hoping to try someday.

    Plugins: Last.fm, iPod, Cover art

  4. Gaim (now Pidgin): a multi-protocol instant messenger. I usually like official IM clients more, but since I use the Yahoo! Messenger service the most often, and the official YM client for UN*X systems became abandonware,[3] and I use Google Talk as well, I opted for the default IM client on Ubuntu. Besides, Psychic Mode is bloody cool.

    Plugins: Buddy State Notification, Message Notification, Message Timestamp Formats, Psychic Mode

  5. µTorrent (with WebUI beta): OK, I cheated as this application runs on my Windows desktop. But, thanks to µTorrent’s very innovative WebUI, I could control it from my Ubuntu notebook as well. I could have used Wine (hat tip to my classmate Luis), but my high-capacity disk is on my desktop anyway.

Now, there’s some link love you don’t see here everyday. I tag everyone reading this who has a knack for showing off something. 😛

Footnotes:

  1. ^ for non-multimedia keyboards; Good thing I have multimedia playback keys on my notebook.
  2. ^ I sync with the official iTunes client on my Windows with the big hard drive, and I haven’t tried syncing on Ubuntu yet—or tried checking if it is at least possible.
  3. ^ Latest release for UN*X systems is version 1.0.4 dated September 2003, while the latest Windows release is version 8.1.0.419 dated 29 August 2007.

No Windows, No QWERTY

After more than a decade of computing experience, and being stuck with Microsoft Windows along with the QWERTY keyboard layout, my non-conforming self just wanted to be different.

I’ve learned about Linux[1] years ago (ca. late 1990s), but, even though I was interested to see one running, I was hesitant to try because I was neither a programmer, nor a techie back then. So, open-source applications you compile before you execute, command line interfaces, and gzipped tarballs, among others, were still some things I fear to tinker with.

Now that easy-to-use Linux distros, such as Ubuntu, have been available, nothing could stop me anymore. Besides, with a more secure system, a much cooler desktop environment, and a free[2] license, who could ask for more?

The transition to Ubuntu was painless, except for the loss of my favorite text editor, EditPlus, which probably is the only software besides Mozilla Firefox I’d die without. But, I’m trying to learn GNU Emacs anyway. Hopefully, I’d feel more geeky using it. I’ve also tried command line installation of some software,[3] but I must admit Synaptic Package Manager is easier even compared to Windows installers.

On the other hand, I couldn’t remember when I’ve learned about the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard layout since I love reading about a wide range of information almost anytime I am not busy with anything. I didn’t care much about it back then, because I thought I did not have the proper hardware. After reading much about health, world records, language, and technological history, as well as software developers (all those topics are related, btw), I became interested with the DSK.

When I said those topics are related, I meant it. On the subject of health and RSIs, DSK has been said to minimize, if not eliminate, hand discomfort by incorporating a layout designed to lessen hand/wrist movements, which I hopefully experience once I get used to it. World records show that the fastest typing speed of 212 wpm is being held by Barbara Blackburn on a DSK. I’ve measured my peak on a QWERTY at 59 wpm,[4] and I aim to reach higher speeds. Dr. August Dvorak, the inventor, researched letter frequency on the English language to make a more efficient keyboard layout. History proved the (almost) one and a half century old typing layout, QWERTY, difficult to displace, but two famous software developers, Matt Mullenweg and Bram Cohen, whose products I use and love,[5] use DSK.

So, I made mine DSK, as well. And, it’s hunt-and-peck all over again! Oh, I so love challenging myself.

Footnotes:

  1. ^ And, Tux, its cute penguin mascot.
  2. ^ As in freedom.
  3. ^ Just for experience, and the fun of it.
  4. ^ Measured using Typeonline Speed test without mistakes.
  5. ^ WordPress and the BitTorrent protocol, respectively.

P.S.:

I actually tried to remember my own history with computers as I write this blog entry. Though it remains unclear, I still remember using the Norton Commander text user interface to play DOS-based games probably even before I’ve been to Windows 3.1x—and that was a long, long time ago. I typed this entry using DSK within the span of 48 hours. Tedious, but I’m starting to forget QWERTY, which I don’t know whether it is a good or a bad thing. Heh.