Vega Prime Viewer Hot Keys

September 26th, 2013 by ellery

bostonThumbnailI happened upon a list of the hot key functions for the Presagis Vega Prime standard viewer, which is used in the Lynx Prime Active Preview and is supported in the API by the vpApp class. Since I can never remember where to find them, I’m putting the list here.

vpApp responds to the following keyboard input:

        Esc : quit the application
          ~ : enable / disable the first stats page
          s : cycle forward through the stats for all channels
          S : cycle backward through the stats for all channels
  Backspace : reset the state vector for all observers
      Enter : capture the state vector for all observers
          c : put all observers at the center of the scene
          f : enable / disable fog for all channels
          l : enable / disable lighting for all channels
          p : print the absolute position for all observers
          t : enable / disable texture for all channels
          T : enable / disable transparency for all channels
          w : enable / disable wireframe for all channels
          a : enable / disable shaders for all channels
          x : enable / disable the position strategy for all observers
        Tab : enable / disable scene graph overlay drawing
     NumPad : pan position of the scene graph overlay
          q : scale the scene graph overlay up
          Q : scale the scene graph overlay down
         F8 : capture video stream
         F9 : capture still-image

Fix Broken Windows Boot After Installing Linux (grub)

October 8th, 2012 by ellery

When you install Linux or another OS alongside Windows in a dual-boot configuration, the installation often sets up a boot loader like grub to manage the booting alternatives. This can sometimes break the Windows boot loader, which can cause problems in certain situations.

One situation is where you have a Windows hard drive and a Linux hard drive. It works fine as long as both drives are installed, but say you remove the Linux hard drive: you would expect the Windows drive to boot up straight into Windows. But instead you might get a message like “BOOTMGR is missing”.

Another situation that I ran into was that I could not upgrade Windows 7 to SP1 in my dual-boot configuration.  Reasons why are discussed here.  I had to revert the boot loader back to booting directly into Windows before the Windows 7 SP1 update would stick.

There are also a few other situations that might cause your Windows boot loader to get corrupted, and you probably don’t want to resort to restoring your entire drive from a backup image or re-installing Windows from the ground up.  So here’s one relatively easy way to fix your boot.

Repairing the Windows boot loader

Here is one way to repair the Windows boot:  Find a Windows Full or Upgrade install disc. Boot from it. When it comes up, select your language, then at the next screen, select the Repair Windows option at the bottom of the screen. Select the Startup Repair. Indicate which version of Windows you would like to repair, if it finds more than one installation on your hard drive. It will do some checking, and should find that your BootMgr is in need of repair. Tell it to repair the problem. After that it should boot directly into Windows again.

This works with a Windows 7 Upgrade disc.  I’m not sure about Windows XP.

Setting up Cygwin

September 19th, 2012 by ellery

CygwinThis is my procedure for installing Cygwin on a Windows desktop. There are many ways to configure the Cygwin environment. This one suits my taste:

Go to
Click on the “Install or update now! (using setup.exe)”
Download setup.exe to your desktop
Run it

Use the following settings to answer the setup questions:

Root dir:  c:\cygwin
Install for:  All users
Default file type:  DOS
Package dir:  c:\cygwin_install (recommended; can be deleted later)

Be sure to install the following packages:

Section  Package
------- -------
Net     inetutils
Net     ncftp
Net     ping
Perl    perl
Perl    perl-Tk
Perl    perl-Win32-GUI
Perl    perl-libwin32
Shells  chere
Shells  rxvt
Shells  tcsh
Shells  xterm (for resize)
Utils   ncurses (for tset)
Web     wget

Set the HOME environment variable in Windows (Computer->Properties->Advanced->Environment Variables) (put your username instead of username):

Win XP:
HOME  c:\Documents and Settings\username
Win Vista/7:
HOME  c:\Users\username

Optional environment variables:

$OSG_HOME (OpenSceneGraph)

Set the PATH environment variable. Cygwin will inherit the Windows PATH, but you need to add the directories containing the Cygwin executables. This is a very minimal .cshrc file. You will probably want to add a more sophisticated one. I have a small set of “dot” files that I copy into a user’s HOME directory when setting up Cygwin. To create the minimal .cshrc file, type the following lines at a shell prompt, ending with the <Ctrl-D> (Cygwin EOF) character:

/usr/bin/cat > $HOME/.cshrc
set path=(/usr/local/bin /usr/bin /bin $path)
setenv CYGWIN nodosfilewarning

Run the following commands (put your username instead of username):

Win XP:
/usr/bin/mkdir /home
cd /home
/usr/bin/ln -s /cygdrive/c/Documents\ and\ Settings/username/My\ Documents username
Win Vista/7:
/usr/bin/mkdir /home
cd /home
/usr/bin/ln -s /cygdrive/c/Users/username username

rxvt shortcut:

C:\cygwin\bin\run.exe rxvt -sr -vb -cr red -ufbg gray95 -fn courier -sl 5000 -geometry 80x40 -e /bin/tcsh

Put rxvt in Windows Explorer folder right-mouse menu:
Create ~/.Xdefaults containing the following:

rxvt.scrollBar_right: True
rxvt.visualBell: True
rxvt.cursorColor: red
rxvt.saveLines: 5000
rxvt.geometry: 80x40
rxvt.font: courier
rxvt.foreground: black
rxvt.background: white

Run the following command to create a windows explorer context menu entry [Edit: I now prefer mintty over rxvt because it supports drag-and-drop of files and folders]:

/usr/bin/chere -i -t rxvt -s tcsh -e "Unix Shell"

/usr/bin/chere -if -t mintty -s tcsh -e "Cygwin Terminal Here" -o "-i /Cygwin-Terminal.ico"

If you get an error like this:

Error (5): Access is denied.
/usr/bin/chere Error: Hive not writable
/usr/bin/chere: Aborting.

it is a UAC (permissions) problem.  Launch the shell as Administrator and try it again.

Modify /etc/csh.login as follows, to let the chere shell start in the proper directory:
Replace the last line:



if ( ! ${?CHERE_INVOKING} ) then

KeeFox on Ubuntu

May 8th, 2012 by ellery

KeeFox is a plugin for Firefox that communicates with the KeePass2 password manager. I like KeePass2 because I can maintain a local secure password database without involving a server. It works great under Windows, and runs with Mono on Linux. However, KeeFox was complaining that the KeePassRPC.plgx plugin (in ~/.keepass/plugins) was incompatible. To fix it, I had to install the mono-complete package.

CMake Debug and Release Builds (in Eclipse)

May 1st, 2012 by ellery

While coding recently in C++ on a project that uses CMake, I needed to build my code with Debug settings in Eclipse.  It’s Eclipse, so there are probably many ways to do it.  I followed this approach.

I ran into one small problem.  I was modifying a project that I had already been working with.  So when I tried running the cmake commands to generate the Release and Debug makefiles

mkdir Release Debug
cmake -E chdir Debug/ cmake -G "Unix Makefiles" ../ -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE:STRING=Debug
cmake -E chdir Release/ cmake -G "Unix Makefiles" ../ -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE:STRING=Release

nothing was written to the Release or Debug folder.  To fix this, I had to first delete the CMakeCache.txt file from my project folder.

rm CMakeCache.txt

AppleSyncNotifier.exe – Entry Point Not Found

April 30th, 2012 by ellery

This error occurs on Windows (Win7 64-bit in my case) after an iTunes update.  I have had to fix this two or three times now.  I do the install, but on the next reboot I get a popup titled AppleSyncNotifier.exe – Entry Point Not Found.  The message in the popup is:

The procedure entry point sqlite3_clear_bindings
could not be located in the dynamic link
library SQLite3.dll.

To fix it, copy SQLite3.dll from

C:\Program Files\Common Files\Apple\Apple Application Support


C:\Program Files\Common Files\Apple\Mobile Device Support

It looks like other people might get slightly different errors, so you may need to copy other DLLs also.

My guess as to what is happening here is that putting a copy of the DLLs with the Apple software causes the Apple software to use that copy.  Otherwise it gets whichever  version of the DLL comes up first in the system search path.  Since many tools use some of these support libraries, it’s a bit of a crap shoot.

The last time I had to fix this problem, The How-To Geek blog article here helped me remember what to do.

Caffiene for Toshiba Drives

April 18th, 2012 by ellery

I'm sleepy.  Where's my cover?We have some Toshiba USB drives whose power-saving feature puts them to sleep at inconvenient times. The spinning down and spinning up can make some long-running jobs take a lot longer. Fortunately, Toshiba has a utility that will turn off the sleep function. You can download it here.

APOD Wallpaper: Fascinating!

April 5th, 2012 by ellery

If Mr. Spock had a big flat panel screen instead of being forced to look into a slot in a cereal box, he would have used APOD Wallpaper for his desktop background.  The Astronomy Picture of the Day website features a daily different collection of photons collected from the far reaches of the universe.  The awe-inspiring images from the depths of space are occasionally interspersed with space-related pictures of objects closer to home.  And each one comes with an explanation that adds to the wonderment.

You could visit the APOD website each day.  Or better,  Windows users can run the APOD Wallpaper app and receive a different breathtaking image on your desktop background each morning.  The app puts a little icon of the planet Jupiter in your Systray.  Right mousing on Jupiter pops up a menu that will bring up the APOD Wallpaper settings, show you the astronomer’s explanation of the day’s image, or take you to the APOD website.

The app is easy to install.  It comes in a Zip file.  Just unzip it into a convenient location (such as c:\Program Files\APOD), and run it.  In the Settings you can tell it to automatically run when Windows starts.  There are a couple of other Windows apps that do nearly the same thing.  Linux and Mac users have several choices, too.

Simple Popup Requester in Python

March 14th, 2012 by ellery

Sometimes I think I should change the name of this blog to Mind Like a Sieve, subtitle Straining to Remember.

I’ve built some miscellaneous one-off GUIs with various Python toolkits like Tkinter and wxPython, but this time I wanted just a simple confirmation popup.  In this case it was to pause so I could attach a debugger.

The comment on this page of the tkinterbook had exactly what I needed.  Also, there is a page showing examples of all the different simple popups you can make using this approach.  One benefit of using this approach is that Tkinter is bundled with Python, so there are no additional packages to install.

Here’s the simplest code snippet:

import Tkinter, tkMessageBox
Tkinter.Tk().withdraw() # suppress blank Tk root window in Windows
tkMessageBox.showinfo("Debugging", "Attach debugger, then click OK")

You can, of course, get much fancier with some of the popup versions, and you can capture the return value from the user interaction.

RJ45 Network Cable Connector Wire Order

February 13th, 2012 by ellery

I’ve spent so much time reciting this sequence to myself while putting connectors onto network cables that I will probably never forget it.

But just in case: the order of the color-coded conductors (from left to right when inserted up into the RJ45 connector with the contacts facing you) is:

  • Orange Stripe
  • Orange
  • Green Stripe
  • Blue
  • Blue Stripe
  • Green
  • Brown Stripe
  • Brown

…and crimp!

 Tips:  Remember to push the wires all the way up into the connector so the wires go under the contacts.  Then, push the cable’s outer insulation up into the connector, too, so that the connector’s plastic wedge will grab and hold the insulation when crimped.