Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Vista Flash Odyssey

I still maintain a Vista partition on my PC for my kids stuff or the stuff that they bring back from school to run. These would be educational CDs and stuff. Also it says in my support contract that I have to have Vista there to enjoy their 3 years on-site support (which I have BTW, 2 motherboards replaced FOC). But we use Linux 99% of the time. I figure that if I expose them now, their perception of computers would not be limited to the Microsoft World.
But recognizing the possibility of needing to use Vista for whatever reason, I maintain the partition and I maintain Vista. This means periodically log in an update windows, flash, java, openoffice and the cone / VLC media player. What prompted me this time was that I wanted to move from openoffice to libreoffice. My other Windows PCs have them already so it was more of leveling the playing field, making sure I have similar programs on all of the PCs in the house. It has been a while since I used Vista. So much so I was also installing chrome this time around.
Sometimes I wonder whether I am denying my children access to their educational software by defaulting to Mandriva. There is this great math tutorial program and a interactive language learning kit. If they ask for it, I'll boot up Vista and set things up for them. But they don't mind and I seem to be getting better mileage from Flash demos and YouTube tutorial videos on the Internet anyway.
During the update eveything went well except for updating Flash on IE. I went to the Adobe website and clicked on the button to down load the lastest version of Flash. It downloaded the Adobe downloader, installed it and executed it. It then threw up an error window said the it was unable to get the correct parameters. I figured that the downloader was facing problems with the Internet link. Checked that and it was ok. So I followed the troubleshooting link from Adobe download page.
Basically, it recommended that I stop every single program I can think of that runs flash and then run the uninstaller for Flash. Well, that's great. Even Adobe has little faith in my ability to figure out by looking in the taskbar which apps is using Adobe Flash and locking the flash files. Why? Because it recommended that if it didn't work, try again because I probably missed a program. I humored Adobe for a while and uninstalling and reinstalling the downloader didn't work.
So off to the Internet we go. I found a highly rated advices which advised me to download a file from the Windows Resource Toolkit and a command file for the toolkit to use. That removed or fixes flash related stuff. What is rich is that the command file is from Adobe. So I tried that and yet the dreaded "unable to obtain correct parameter" error came out.
This was getting ridiculous but reminded me of how lucky I am using Linux. Even with flash and it's installation instruction which divert you to the command line, that routine has worked ok for years (don't get me started on the simlar java installation). I realised that my problem wasn't with installing flash, it was the downloader. It was acting as tthe gatekeeper to getting flash. In reality it was nothing but a billboard. So after looking around I found a link to get the installers directly.
The bruhaha in recent years about flash and Apple's refusal to use it (not for technical reasons, I'm sure) seemed to me like case against progression. Not supporting flash is a deal breaker with all sorts of sites using flash to get past the home page. But with Apple's clout and the popularity of ipads amongst senior management, a lot of sites have had to provide flash-free alternatives. After this episode, good riddance to flash and let's move on to HTML5.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Letting go of old programs

As you may know I am a Mandriva user. More hardcore than I thought, I discovered today.
I am lucky because I have padawan now. Eager to learn but patient enough not to bug me all day long.
So the need was to log onto the desktop from remote. Not just access but use the desktop. Mandriva has this tool called rfbdrake. It provide a one stop interface for remote access, going to and setting up. Basically it calls on rdesktop to connect to Windows boxes, VNC for Linux boxes and uses rfb to share out the current desktop.  Not to be confused with the brilliant remote access tool on SuSe which spawns vncserver to provide remote desktop access from the point of login. This is much more pedestrian. Just share what I am seeing. Problem is, I couldn't find it on urpmi  or on the Software Installer. Now I had procrastinated over some time on fixing a problem that workstation which prevented some updates from being completed. Since both of my problem could be rpm related, I finally set aside some time to do it. The update problem was simple enough. Apparently, the Fortigate firewall triggered some false positives on the files that was being downloaded. So amending the rules slightly to allow the updates to pass thru did the trick. But in the process earlier, the various repositories were also messed up. So removed them all and redownloaded a new set. For good measure, I plunked in plf too.
But after all the updates, I still couldn't get rfbdrake. Time to hunt RPMs on the net then. But horrors, was down. RPMFind was no good either. I had given up on it to find Mandriva RPMs a long time ago. So a hunting on google we go. I finally found it on (of all places) SUNET. Nostalgia engulfed me as I remember the old days of going through SUNET looking for free/shareware software. Then followed the ensuing dependency hell. I was missing rfb itself. Hunt as I may, I could only find one from 2008. Security-wise not good.
Then it dawned to me. I was asking the wrong question. Why was I hung up on rfbdrake? The question would be, what would give me desktop access? If rfb is gone, what are their replacements? I should have learned that I should let go of old programs. The new guys were Vino and krfb. Turns out they worked fine. I miss the unified interface but if it is for the better, why not.

P/S - I am still haunted by my failure to keep a copy of a DOS IVR program (that fit on a floppy!) that ran together with a voice modem (a 33.6kbp with voice capabilites). I am that old. *sigh*

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