Jeremy Sands

Res publica non dominetur

How to create your own custom auto-delivered newspaper every day

I had an itch for some time to create a system that would give the area’s daily news at a glance, including comics. I finally scratched that itch. Here is the result, in case anybody else has such a desire.

Required software:

Description: Command-line MIME encoding and decoding utilities


Description: PDF rendering library based on the xpdf-3.0 code base


Description: A collection of tools and libraries for many image formats


Description: Command-line tool for structural, content-preserving transformation of PDF files


And lastly Dosage, a project on GitHub specifically to download web comics. Think of it as JDownloader2 or Youtube-dl … but specifically for web comics. The easiest way to install this is with pip:


Description: Installs python packages -- replacement for easy_install


… Using the following command …


pip install --user git+


This will install dosage (at least for me on Gentoo) to ~/.local/bin/. Invoking dosage –list will display the prodigious number of comics dosage can automatically download.

So with the tools in place, here’s a very crude script to get the job done. Please read the header of the script, it explains quite a lot. But the end result is that I receive delivered via email a daily comic and newspaper digest to my Kindle. It will be trivial to expand this to include actual news articles and more via RSS feeds and other pdf command line tools, but given that the quality of print journalism is so low that I no longer read virtually anything other than a glance at local headlines, I don’t have much motivation to flush that out at this time. Note this requires your system mailer to be valid, but it is trivial to have your system mailer hook into and use your GMail account. (Google it!) (TXT file link)

Quiet Down A Loud Optical Drive In Linux

Or, for an alternate title, “How to manually set a speed on your optical drive”.

I have an aging Thinkpad T61 (maybe the last one to have shipped to North America with SuSe Linux pre-installed!), and it has an optical drive that creates quite a noise and serious vibrations when running at full tilt. So if you need to do something with your optical drive want it to run nice and quiet in Linux, try using hdparm:

hdparm -E4 /dev/sr0

The -E is for the speed. So -E4 is 4x. -E8 is 8x. Etc. The last is your device which in all recent Linux versions starts with /dev/sr0 (then /dev/sr1 and so on).

Wireless Bridge Mode on Asus RT-AC66U

So you took the plunge to get a good router instead of a flaky $40 plastic box of crap. Good choice. But if you use a wireless bridge then you probably should be aware of the following problem and fix.

There are numerous huge gaping security holes in the older (and possibly, depending on when you bought it, STOCK version) of the firmware on the routers. Now luckily Asus has patched those holes (download the latest firmware on the Asus website, as the auto-updater is a bit flaky on finding the very latest version). However, the latest patched firmware makes media bridge mode an exercise in frustration. The bridge mode Asus RT-AC66U will be very flaky. Usually in about a day it stops issuing new DHCP leases and doesn’t renew DHCP leases when they are requested. But clients with an existing good lease will still route correctly. Eventually DNS will stop resolving properly and that expensive router becomes a well designed paperweight. The solution is to keep the wireless router on the most recent firmware, but to keep the media bridge on firmware version: Note that this means your router is vulnerable to attack from those connected into it … but somebody physically wired in to your media bridge probably has more delicious (and worthwhile) things to exploit than your media bridge.

For those wondering if third party firmwares will solve this bug, I have tried RMerlin’s firmwares and they seem to suffer from the same issue. Deep deep Googling around suggests there is an actual defect in the chipset inside the Asus RT-AC66U causing the blaky bridge performance which requires detailed attention in firmware to mitigate.

Hope this helps people like me who depend upon media bridge mode on the Asus RT-AC66U but want at least their primary router to not be a gaping security hole.

How to add Folding@Home Screensaver (FAHScreensaver) to XScreenSaver

I found myself wanting to put FAHScreensaver in as a proper screensaver in Linux, partially because it looks nice but mostly because the idle detection in Linux by Folding@Home seems to be broken. So here are some steps to make that happen. These steps assume you have root or otherwise privileged access to the machine in question:

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How to squeeze the most of your ancient Thinkpad T20, T21, and T22 on Linux

If you’re like me, you just can’t bring yourself to get rid of a perfectly usable computer, particularly an old Thinkpad workhorse. However, in the case of my Thinkpad T21, even in Linux it is being forced into obsolescence, primarily by the graphics card (01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: S3 Graphics Ltd. 86C270-294 [SavageIX-MV] (rev 13)). I hope my tips in this article help others like me squeeze every last drop out of their machines.

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How to use WatchESPN / ESPN3 in Linux

So you pay for a cable/dish subscription, and want to be able to use the WatchESPN/ESPN3 website to watch live content. But for some reason it just doesn’t work on Linux. Turns out, the Adobe Flash plugin depends upon the now defunct HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) to assist in mediation of DRM protected content. The solution is to install hal-flash. Note the solution will ONLY WORK on browsers which use the official Adobe Flash plugin (Firefox, Opera, etc). This will NOT work on Google’s “Pepper” flash player in Chrome/Chromium.

Info on hal-flash:

$ eix hal-flash
[I] media-libs/hal-flash
     Available versions:  0.2.0_rc1
     Installed versions:  0.2.0_rc1(17:56:24 11/20/13)
     Description:         A libhal stub library forwarding to UDisks for www-plugins/adobe-flash to play DRM content

A ham radio operator’s guide to the 2014 SouthEast LinuxFest



Talk-In Frequency (Simplex): 147.555

Local Repeaters:

145.23- | May require Tone 118.8 MHz – Operated by Mecklenburg ARS

Located on Spencer Mountain, its antenna is at 1574 feet above sea level, which is almost 900 feet above average terrain. The Johnson CR1100 puts out about 100 watts ERP into a four bay commercial dipole, and is controlled by a Link Communications RLC-Club controller. This repeater covers North to West to South of its location particularly well. It’s the MARS “handheld rubber duck coverage” from many hiking trails in the mountains.

145.29- | May require Tone 118.8 MHz – Operated by Mecklenburg ARS

Located on top of 50 stories in uptown Charlotte, its antenna is at 1333 feet above sea level, which is about 583 feet above average terrain. The Johnson CR1100 puts out about 100 watts ERP into a Diamond tri-band vertical, which is painted Carolina blue to blend with the uptown sky. This repeater is often linked with 444.600 for use in many Charlotte public service events. It’s also the MARS emergency powered backup repeater for ARES events and nets.

224.400- | May require Tone 118.8 MHz – Operated by Mecklenburg ARS

It is located in the same cabinet along with 145.29 and 444.600, and uses the same controller and antenna. The repeater itself is a Kendecom KRP5000 and puts out about 20 watts ERP on a nice quiet band.

444.600- | Requires Tone 118.8 MHz – Operated by Mecklenburg ARS

Originally located on Independence Blvd, it was moved to the commn cabinet, controller, and antenna, along with 145.29 and 224.400 at the top of Charlotte. The repeater is a Johnson CR1010 running at about 100 watts ERP. The subaudible tone access of 118.8 Mhz is needed to keep the uptown RF out of this repeater. 444.600 has interesting surprisingly good coverage in Mecklenburg and surrounding counties. When it’s linked with 145.29 it provides handheld rubber duck coverage for many Charlotte public service events, particularly those in the big building uptown RF shadows.

146.94- | May require Tone 118.8 MHz – Operated by Mecklenburg ARS – Net 9PM every night

Located on Orr Rd in northeast Charlotte, its antenna is at 908 feet above sea level, which is almost 200 feet above average terrain. The General Electric Master II puts out about 100 watts ERP into a four bay commercial dipole, and is controlled by a Link Communications RLC-Club controller. This repeater reaches out to many surrounding counties in all directions, and is our primary repeater for most of our 2 meter activities including ARES events.

Repeaters a bit further away:

146.610- | Operated by Blue Ridge ARS – Net every night at 9:00 PM

Located atop Ceasar’s Head Mountain in extreme northern Greenville County, SC. Linked to EchoLink below.

Echolink Node 551672 (W4NYK-R)

Operated by BRARS and linked to 146.610- repeater.

145.190- | Operated by Western Carolina ARS – Net every Saturday at 9 PM

Superb signal and incredible reach across several states – Located on Mount Mitchell, Highest 2 meter repeater in Eastern America. The net is called the 6600 net, referring to the elevation of Mt. Mitchell.

The Lost Art of the Friday Work Whistle

Call it the 5 o’clock whistle. The 5 o’clock send off. The weekend blastoff. The weekend work whistle. The Friday work whistle. Whatever. The point is, hardly anybody does this anymore, and it’s a shame. Below are the ONLY specimens I can find that aren’t some lame DJ blowing a referee’s whistle… but REAL Friday work whistles. Enjoy!

[EDIT: Update:  Fixed download link and switched bitlocker so it shouldn’t be deleted again!]

It contains all the following:
1) WMXT 102.1 The Fox — Florence, SC — Better start, more music.

2) WROQ Rock 101.1 — Greenville, SC — Longer, more mixed in clips.

3) WKLS 96Rock — Atlanta, GA — The predecessor to 102.1’s version.

4) WHTZ Z-100 — New York City, NY — The version they did in 1984!

5) NEW!! Adam Curry – The Daily Source Code – Fubar Friday (short)

6) NEW!! WNKS KISS 95.1 — Charlotte, NC – Weekend Blast (short)

7) NEW!! WKLS Project 961 — Atlanta, GA — The ALL NEW version airing currently!

Mega Link — Click Here To Download Them ALL!