Use Thunderbird’s addressbook to dial a Phone

March 2, 2010

Working in my home office a have a phone connected to my laptop. With a self written application I can dial this phone.

With Thunderbird 3 predecessors I used a modified version of the FireFox plugin Fritz!BoxDial to dial the phone.

With Thunderbird 3 this does no longer work.

Recently I read the feature list of the Thunderbird plugin MoreFunctionsforAddressbook see
and I found

option to have phone numbers like “callto” links

It works like a charme ( with TB 3.0.1).

Give it a try !

VDR Video Disk Recorder – my way !

June 26, 2017

After more than 11 years of fine service recently the motherboard of my VDR PC failed. This PC had always been running headless (without a screen or keyboard) in my home office attached to  a dedicated DVB-S-LNB and to my LAN. I copied the recorded files  to a USB stick which I then put in my TV downstairs. But now it was broken and no repair possible.

At first I checked the offerings on “Harddisk Recorders”. But after some time I became aware that running these headless might not be a good idea. Though controlling apps are available I could not get as much detailed information as I wanted. So after some seesaw I finally bought a used Lenovo Thinkstation S10. This is a Midi Tower which easily can hold the PCI Technotrend S2300 DVB-S, which I swapped from the broken PC (this is an active card, back in 2005 more costly than the used Thinkstation in 2017).

I have described all the details of installing and configuring the Linux VDR software on Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus and the VDR Manager App on Android here on my webpage

flowblade Movie Editor 1.2.0 on Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr

September 16, 2015

Recently I had to create a video. It was the first video in my life and I wanted to do it on Linux. So I tried out some of the recommendations found by googling a minute or two. This is what I got: Programs that got stuck for no obvious reasons, programs aborting with SIGSEGV, programs eating a lot of CPU. Finally I tried flowblade. For me this is stable and responsive. So this could be the beginning of a friendship …

As I said: It was the first video in my life. So I had a bit of a learning curve. I ended up with ca. 90 secs video, containing 5 pictures, 8 video clips and one extra sound track . The change over from one clip to the next is done with a “compositor”. I chose “dissolve” by a “wipe clip”. So far so good but problems started here. This is the structure I ended with:



I’m still wondering if this is a proper solution. What happens if I’ve got 80 clips ?

flowblade’s documentation was not a real help for me. IMHO it’s really terse and it’s perspective is definitely not a dumb users one. Most likely it’s written by a software developer, having in mind data structures and concepts.

But I would like to emphasize: flowblade Movie Editor was really stable and did the job. Thanks a lot Janne + team !

BTW, if you want to see the final video: Model Steam: Smethwick Engine James Watt 1779

syncevolution: The first tool for me to get contacts + events from thunderbird to my Nokia

November 17, 2011

syncevolution synchronizes personal information management (PIM) data via SyncML (among others, see

So it seemed to be the tool of choice for me (my Nokia E66 is a SyncML device). But syncevolution relies on the evolution mail suite.

With a lot of help from syncevolution’s main developer I finally came up with a working configuration which takes contacts and events from files exported by thunderbird and transfers the items to my Nokia. This is one way only, which is no problem for me, as I prefer to change these data in thunderbird.

I wrapped everything up in a little script. You have to have Ubuntu Oneiric to use this. I tried Natty, but this failed due to problems with the evolution-data-server.

See, if you are interested.

xfce4: xfwm4: Tune the windowmanager to switch from one workspace to another and back

May 23, 2011

As already mentionend in this blog, I use xfce4 with 10 different workspaces. Important applications run on dedicated workspaces, e.g. firefox on #3, emacs on #4 and so on.

You may switch from one workspace to another very conveniently by keyboard (per default e.g. for workspace #3).

There is one more configuration option, which is unfortunately off by default. You will find it in the xfce-config tools under “Detailed configuration of the window manager”. Select the tab Workspaces. There is a line reading similar to “Remember last workspace, use it again when changing via keyboard shortcuts”. If you check this, bring you to the workspace #n. Pressing the same shortcut again, it will you bring back where you came from.

IMHO very convenient.

Using a shell you may set this via xfconf-query:

xfconf-query -c xfwm4 -p /general/toggle_workspaces -s true

natty install crashed rendering system unbootable: Using grub-install to make it bootable

May 9, 2011

Using a dual boot system since years, I always have one partition for my productive system (currently for various reasons still Karmic 9.10) and another partition to test new releases.

Recently I upgraded an Maverick 10.10 to Natty 11.04. All went well. Today I tried to do a fresh install of Natty. This failed twice (ubiquity crashed).

It turned out that the system was no longer bootable (I got a prompt saying grub rescue, neither help nor ? gave me helpful information).

I again started from USB stick, selecting rescue mode. I then mounted my productive root partitition and then issued

grub-install –boot-directory=/mnt/boot /dev/sda

On restarting the system I luckily had a proper grub list again. After some strange error messages my productive system booted.

When it was finally up and running, I again ran grub-install, this time using

grub-install /dev/sda

The mentioned strange messages are gone – may be this is a version issue (grub-install in Natty using files from Karmic).

I will retry the Natty installation but in the first place I will make a really fine backup …

Customizing Cups Default Printer using NetworkManager

February 16, 2010

Recently I discovered the scripting abilities of NetworkManager. I
finally wrote a very small script which calls lpadmin depending on my
current network environment.

NetworkManager looks for scripts in
/etc/NetworkManager/dispatcher.d. Currently I have:

lulu:/etc/NetworkManager/dispatcher.d> ls
01ifupdown 97customize-lulu

01ifupdown came with Karmic, 97customize-lulu is my new script.
NetworkManager calls the scripts in /etc/NetworkManager/dispatcher.d
with two arguments. If I e.g. plug in a patch cable with WLAN
disabled, the scripts will be run like so:

01ifupdown eth0 up
97customize-lulu eth0 up

In my 97customize-lulu, I figure out the current IPADDRESS using the
ip-command and a bit of perl. In a simple case I call lpadmin
appropriately. Finally I call logger to get some information in my

When the script is called to unconfigure a nic, I umount all NFS and
CIFS based filesystems to avoid hanging IOs.


case "$2" in
IPADDRESS=`ip -o addr show $NIC | perl -ne 'if(/inet ([\d\.]*)\/\d\d/) {print $1, "\n";}'`
case "$IPADDRESS" in
192.168.178.*) lpadmin -d Home-HP-OfficeJet-G85
lpadmin -d Lab-X
172.18.*.*) lpadmin -d Site-Foo
logger 97customize-lulu: NIC: $NIC ACTION: $ACTION IP: $IPADDRESS
umount -a -t nfs,cifs
logger 97customize-lulu: NIC: $NIC ACTION: $ACTION IP: $IPADDRESS RC$

jaunty: Resizing mpg using tcrequant gives bad quality output with lots of artifacts

December 19, 2009

Running Hardy for a year or so I used tcrequant without any problems. I use the tool to resize mpg files so that they fit onto a dvd. My wife prefers watching our home recorded videos this way …

After upgrading to Jaunty I realized that resized records came with artifacts. It turned out that tcrequant caused it.

In Hardy, I had:

root@jojo:~# /usr/bin/tcrequant -v
tcrequant (transcode v1.0.2) (C) 2003 Antoine Missout

With Jaunty came:

root@jojo:~# /usr/bin/tcrequant -v
tcrequant (transcode v1.0.7) (C) 2003 Antoine Missout

I found no way around and finally ended up with replacing the Jaunty binary by the old Hardy tcrequant binary. Yes – this is ugly …

If you are asking: Why do you use tcrequant anyway ? It’s said to be deprecated in Transcode ! May be – but have you ever compared the run time of avidemux or mencoder with tcrequant ? The latter is far quicker. Obviously quite different algorithms are used. But I’m lucky with the output of tcrequant 1.02 …

Karmic: Happy with vmplayer, no longer searching the web for a any-any patch to get vmware-server running

December 19, 2009

For a couple of years I used vmware-server on my laptop. This was a hassle with all new kernels, as the vmware-drivers never built out of the box. It was always necessary to patch the driver sources to get them going.

I’m no kernel hacker and sometimes it was difficult to find the right patches on the web. At least once after a Ubuntu security kernel update the failed until I again managed to find a better (newer) patch.

Forget about this trouble. Use VMware Player 3.0.0. After a kernel update starting vmplayer gave me:

Hitting “Install” I got another screen informing me nicely about what was going on:

And I was done ! It simply worked !

But I forgot one important new feature of vmplayer 3.0.0: You can create new machines:

Karmic: ApacheDirectorStudio no longer usable and Workaround

December 2, 2009

I used ApacheDirectorStudio with sun-java5 without problems for at least a year. After changing to Karmic I installed sun-java6 and did a short test of ApacheDirectorStudio. I did not notice any problems.

Today I again ran ApacheDirectorStudio and this time I ran into trouble. No error message, but a button simply did not appear to work.

Being in trouble to do the real work done, I rebooted into my old Intrepid and did what had to be done.

Now I got a second to analyse the problem and finally found an hint on the Download page of ApacheDirectorStudio



and then start ApacheDirectorStudio. Now the application works as expected. So the rootcause was not java6 vs. java5, but Gnome !