The personal website of Scott W Harden

Fixing Slow Internet in Ubuntu

I recently swapped my two main PCs in my house. The “headless” (no monitor) media PC (whose job consists of downloading, storing, and playing movies) connected directly to my TV, and our standard desktop PC which my wife uses most of the time. I decided to do the swap because the media PC was way nicer than our desktop PC, and since the media PC is just playing movies and downloading torrents, I figured the extra processing power / ram / video acceleration could be put to better use. Anyhow, I decided (in both cases) to completely start fresh by wiping hard drives clean and reinstalling Ubuntu linux (I’m using 8.10 currently). However, after the installation I noticed a peculiar problem. I’ll quote it to emphasize it…

Browsing the internet was very slow. When I’d click a link on a website, it would take several seconds before it seemed to even try to go to the next page. The same thing would happen if I manually typed-in a new website. I tried disabling IPv6 in firefox’s about:config and in the /etc/init.d/aliases file, but it didn’t help!

The solution for me was simple, and since I spent a lot of time searching forums I know I’m not the only one with this problem. Disabling IPv6 was suggested in 99% of similar posts. My solution took a while to uncover, so I figured I’d write it here. The basic problem is that my DHCP (auto-configured IP address) settings were screwed up, and my manually setting them I fixed the problem. Here’s what I did…

Start by right-clicking your network icon (wireless in my case) and selecting connection information

Check out your current configuration. Is a local address (192.168.*.*) set for the primary DNS server? If so, that’s your problem! Note your secondary server. We’ll set it as your primary…

Continue by right-clicking your network icon (wireless in my case) and selecting __edit connections*. Open the tab corresponding to your internet connection (wired or wireless - wireless in my case), select your connection, and click __Edit

Use this screen to manually enter the information from the information screen you saw earlier, but making sure not to list any local IP addresses as the DNS servers. Save your settings, close the windows, and the problem should be immediately corrected. Leave “search domains” blank, that’s important too. Good luck!!!

Compress Strings and Store to Files in Python

Summary: The blog post describes how to compress strings and store them to files using Python's `zlib` module, with examples of how to both compress and decompress data.
This summary was generated in 60.06 seconds from an original post containing 197 words.

Is Descriptive Eloquence Inherited?

Summary: The author of the blog is proud of their writing style, which they describe as casual yet indistinctly formal, and they are grateful for having a quasi-organized account of their thoughts going back to 2001.
This summary was generated in 78.49 seconds from an original post containing 343 words.

Compress and Store Files in Python

While writing code for my graduate research thesis I came across the need to lightly compress a huge and complex variable (a massive 3D data array) and store it in a text file for later retrieval. I decided to use the zlib compression library because it’s open source and works pretty much on every platform. I ran into a snag for a while though, because whenever I loaded data from a text file it wouldn’t properly decompress. I fixed this problem by adding the “rb” to the open line, forcing python to read the text file as binary data rather than ascii data. Below is my code, written in two functions to save/load compressed string data to/from files in Python.

import zlib  
def saveIt(data,fname):  
def openIt(fname,evaluate=True):  
    if evaluate: data=eval(data)  
    return data  

Oh yeah, don’t forget the evaluate option in the openIt function. If set to True (default), the returned variable will be an evaluated object. For example, [[1,2],[3,4]] will be returned as an actual 2D list, not just a string. How convenient is that?

Run Ubuntu Live CD From a USB Drive

I accidentally nuked my laptop’s 80G hard drive this morning (D’OH!) while shuffling around partitions. Supposedly there’s a valid windows (XP) installation on there still that’s about 20G. I’d love to repair it so I can use it today while I’m in the confocal room, but I don’t have an Ubuntu CD, Windows CD, or any CD for that matter! I looked around, but I guess blank CD-Rs aren’t something that’s standard in molecular biology laboratories. Anyhow, I wanted to install the new Ubuntu 8.10 Linux distribution, and I’ve downloaded the ISO, but since I can’t find a CD to burn it to I decided to try booting from a USB drive (something I’ve never done before). I found an AWESOME program which specialized in putting ISO files onto bootable USB drives. It’s called UNetBootin and it’s free (of course), runs on Linux or Windows, and has some built-in options for various linux distributions. I can repair my PC now! Yay!