Monthly Archives: May 2008

Hidden Ubuntu Gems: Window Selection, Always on Top & Password Gen

I thought it was probably a good time for another Ubuntu-related post, so here we go.

Window Selection

Window controls, selection raising etc

Something I found on one of my explorations, is this really handy feature (handy for me at least), which allows you to give a window “focus” (or selection) merely by putting your mouse over it. To activate it, click on “System”, go to “Preferences”, and then click on “Window”. Up pops a small selection window.

As you can see, I’ve ticked “Select windows when the mouse moves over them”. You can also have windows be raised to the top of the screen if you hold your mouse over them for a certain length of time. As my collegue at work found, setting the interval to “0” is not very useful…

There are a couple of other tweaks you can make here. I’ll let you explore them on your own ๐Ÿ™‚

Always on Top

“Always on Top” allows you to basically tell the system that you want a window to be the upper-most on the screen, no matter what else you do. You can’t “Raise” anything above it. I tend to use this little gem with my next tip.

Set a window to be always on top by right clicking on the title bar (the big orange bar at the top of the window, which contains the minimize, maximize and close buttons). Click the “Always on Top” option. Thatย  window will now stick on top of your screen. Undo it, by right clicking again on the title bar, and clicking “Always on Top” again.

Password Gen (pwgen)

pwgen is a small, neat, command-line program to quickly generate fairly easy-to-remember, fairly secure passwords. You can install it by clicking here, or going to whichever package manager you prefer (synaptic, Add-Remove Programs, apt-get or aptitude) and installing “pwgen”.a screenshot of pwgen with my preferred settings in use

Use it simply by typing “pwgen” in a terminal (“Applications” > “Accessories” > “Terminal”). I tend to run it with the command “pwgen 8 1”, which generates one 8 character password.

Now, if you’re adding a lot of users to a system or something (I am currently at work), using a combination of these tips will save you time… I’ll leave it up to you to work out how to combine them. (Hint: resizing a terminal window like I did above is a good starting point.)


I’ve been running around on the Train & Underground system recently for my daily commute into work. (Currently 2 1/2 hours each way… I need to move closer ;))

Firstly, I much prefer Welsh trains. They have a conductor, who’s nice. The best experience I’ve had of a train in Wales, was of the conductor holding the train a couple of seconds to allow the ticket machine to finish processing my debit card and spit out my tickets. The best experience I’ve had in England, was a train that was on time.

I’ve not had a bad experience in Wales, but in England, I was once accosted by 5 toughs, whilst on the train and told to hand them my ticket. At this point I was travelling on a “Permit to Travel”, as there’s no ticket machine or office at my starting station. From the outset, they made me feel like I was a criminal. They phased me enough that I managed to miss my stop. I was late to work that day. Thanks, Southern Trains.

Last week, I had the lovely experience on the Tube, of having a guy sitting next to me lean across/against the seat divider enough that I couldn’t avoid him touching me. I find human contact uncomfortable in the extreeme unless I’m expecting it and I know whom its from well.

The photo is one I dug out of my archive. I will upload the full-size version to my flikr account if requested.


Yay! I’ve finally finished tinkering with my photos. Unfortunately, because my camera decided to take a number of them in low resolution, I wasn’t able to make them all post worthy, so they’ve been consigned to a digital blackhole. (Some of these are on the borderline…)

I went wandering before I left Wales. This is one of the photos I took then. Click on it to see the flickr page (where you can view a bigger version by clicking “all sizes” and then “Origional”)

The Ubuntu Hardy Release party. Andrew Oakly had this brilliant idea to make name tags for us all. Shame they were a little small… And mine kept falling off. Oh well, still a good idea ๐Ÿ™‚

Ubuntu Hardy Release party

The train, after coming home from the release party. Sorry about the rubbish quality, this was the best of the lot, and my camera for some reason decided to take a number of really low resolution shots. That’s the second time its done that, and I still don’t know why it does it…


Empty street. Again, my camera being stupid. You can, if you look carefully, see the jpeg compression it used to store the image. I’d love to be able to justify buying an SLR!


Constructive critique highly appreciated ๐Ÿ™‚

Another Meme

Stolen from

1. What time did you get up this morning?
7:20 am

2. Diamonds or pearls?

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
Iron Man.

4. Favourite TV show?
Firefly, Startrek, Doctor Who.

5. What do you usually have for breakfast?

6. What is your middle name?

7. What food do you dislike?
Raw tomatoes.

8. What is your favourite CD at the moment?
ZOEgirl – room to breathe.

9. Favourite sandwich?
Chicken, sweetcorn and mayonnaise.

10. What characteristic do you despise?

11. Favourite item of clothing?

12. If you could go anywhere in the world on holiday, where would it be?

13. What colour is your bathroom?

14. Do you make friends easily?

15. Where would you retire to?
Somewhere warm.

16. What was your most recent memorable birthday?

17. Favourite sport to watch?

18. How many towns have you lived in?

19. How many do you think will send this back?

20. Whatโ€™s on your bedroom floor right now?
Books. Wires. Multigangs. Some clothes. Bag of Books. Some computer parts.

21. Favourite saying?
Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. Terry Pratchet – The Hogfather

22. When is your birthday?

23. Are you a morning person or a night person?

24. What is your shoe size?
Size seven and a half

25. Pets?

26. Any new and exciting news youโ€™d like to share with us?
I’ve managed to process one photo out of the nine I wanted to.

27. What did you want to be when you were little?
A firefighter.

28. Which talent would you most like to have?
To be able to pick up different languages quickly.

29. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

30. What is your favourite flower?

31. What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to?
Monday 19th. End of Phase 3 of a project we’re working on at work.

32. What colour are your eyes?

33. What was your favourite toy as a child?
Woofy. A teddy. Quite small and fragile. Still got it, somewhere, although its falling apart.

34. Summer or winter?
Summer. I hate the cold.

35. Hugs or kisses?

36. Chocolate or Vanilla?

37. Do you want your friends to send this back to you?
It would be nice.

38. When was the last time you cried?
A month and a bit ago. Old memories.

39. What is under your bed?
No idea.

40. Who is the friend you have had the longest in SL?
Not played in SL.

41. What did you do last night?
Ate. Read my email. Slept.

42. Favourite smell?

43. What are you afraid of?
Needles. Strangers. Lots of people in a room. Not knowing where I’ll be tomorrow.

44. Plain, sweet, or salted Popcorn?

45. How many keys on your key ring?

46. How many years at your current job?
0.1 ish.

47. Do you have any scars?
One on my cheek, and one on my tummy.

48. Favourite day of the week?

You are quite welcome to do this, and please trackback so I can see :)

Move Complete :)

My blog’s move is finally complete ๐Ÿ™‚

As I said, my new RSS feed is available from

With the move, my commenting system is now open, and does not require registration. Be patient for comments to be posted – the first time you post, your comment will be moderated. Also, I have a set of spam filters that may be a little too exacting; if a comment hasn’t gone up after a while feel free to contact me.

As well as the blog move to WordPress, had all three interviews. On the final interview I was offered the job and I accepted it. I started two days after the interview (thursday). Yay! Currently, my commuting time is a total of 5 hours a day, so I’m already thinking about moving closer to the office.

Interview – I had to take a brief test, which was interesting. The first section was grammar, one of which we had to find what was wrong with “LCD Display” and “PIN number”. Later, it turned out, that the website of the company which I’m now working at has a very similar error, with “ZDR reboot”. Fun fun.

I will be working on a theme for this blog shortly – this is a stock “K2” theme. I saw that elwoodicious is using K2, and it seems to be quite handy ๐Ÿ™‚ (Look at the footer for a link to info about K2)

Photographs – My memory card reader is ready and waiting next to my laptop for me to download another batch of photos from my camera, so the next post will be the best out of that batch.

Computer – I’m back on my laptop, because my new hard-drive has failed in a very similar way to the old one. I’m guessing that theres’ a problem with the PSU or SATA PCI control card.