How to set up Compose Key on Ubuntu

Ever tried typing the characters like: ™ or ® or ½? Can be done very easily in Ubuntu using the compose key. Check this link to find out how. A list of supported sequences on Linux can be found here.

Compose key covers a subset of the Unicode characters you can type. For more Unicode characters, check this link. List of some common Unicode symbols.

Update: To enable compose key in Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise), 12.10 (Quantal) and 13.04 (Raring) go to System Settings ▸ Keyboard ▸ Layout Settings (at bottom left) ▸ Options ▸ Compose key position. As I seldom use the menu key, I am using it as my compose key now.

The Art of forgetting

coffee_comp“I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”
– Sherlock Holmes (A Study in Scarlet)

It is an Art to forget things deliberately. And the secret is not registering each and every piece of information in the brain. This is entirely different from not noticing – for example, the opening credits in a movie. We watch them roll past us but we don’t notice. Deliberate forgetting is the case where we actually respond to something for a while and then wipe it the moment we get past it. Personally I have practised this for years and have come to a point where I forget most of the “unimportant” things instantly. I could turn many of my actions and responses into regular habits so that I don’t need to think actively when doing those. But the trick that needs most practicing is recognising and filtering out the data which is “unimportant”. For example, I will forget the following as soon as they are over: the critical bug I am working on, my lunch/dinner food items, the big gossip going on in office, the name/rules of the home loan policy I discussed with the bank minutes back and the list goes on… For these cases I apply a simple rule – I can get these information back if required. Just knowing where I can get them is enough, like bookmarks! In some cases I have found that abstaining/showing lack of interest is another way to stay away from unwanted information, for example: share trading (personally I believe hard work is a better way to earn money than calculating the unpredictable whole day long).

To leave enough space for imagination and to think with a clear mind it is required to have control on the information we let enter our brains. In addition, keeping most relationship/acquaintance mumbo-jumbo, management politics at bay helps me live a happier life. Just at the cost of a little deception required to show the other end that I am paying attention.

Random Ubuntu tips

ubuntu_logo_81x81Here’s a list of common tweaks I apply on Ubuntu to handle brightness, save power, disable ipv6 etc.

  1. To save power add the following in a script and add at startup:
    $ sudo echo 1500 > /proc/sys/vm/dirty_writeback_centisecs
    $ sudo echo 5 > /proc/sys/vm/laptop_mode
    $ sudo hal-disable-polling --device /dev/scd0
    $ gconftool-2 --set --type boolean /desktop/gnome/peripherals/touchpad/touchpad_enabled true
    $ xmodmap -e "clear Lock"
  2. To set brightness in Ubuntu at login:
    $ sudo setpci -s 00:02.0 F4.B=50
  3. To enable brightness key in Acer laptops add in GRUB params*:
  4. To enable Touchpad lock in Acer laptops add in GRUB params*:
  5. To disable ipv6 at boot:
  6. To re-enable Touchpad after sleep in laptop:
    $ gconftool-2 --set --type boolean \
    /desktop/gnome/peripherals/touchpad/touchpad_enabled true

* To modify GRUB boot params, open the file /etc/default/grub as sudoer and change the list of params in the line starting with


My favourite Android apps

android_compHere’s a list of some good Android apps which I have used:

  • Color Wallpaper: Saves battery by setting just a colour as wallpaper. Numerous colours to choose from. [337 KB]
  • Droidfish: Extremely powerful chess engine with a beautiful interface. [2.0 MB]
  • FeedMe (Google Reader / RSS): Google Reader client. [265 KB]
  • Flipboard: Amazing news reader. Details here. [2.2 MB]
  • Floating Image: Aesthetic live wallpaper. Not a big fan of live wallpapers but this one is amazing. [948 KB]
  • Fo File Manager: A minimal file manager with the essential functionalities. [87 KB]
  • FTPServer: Ever need to exchange files between laptop and mobile? [76 KB]
    To connect use: # ftp IPADDRESS PORT
  • Gmail: The regular Gmail client from Google. [2.1 MB]
  • Google Gesture Search: Type in to search your mobile. [4.5 MB]
  • Hacker’s Keyboard: Can’t live without the regular keyboard! [1.7 MB]
  • JustReader: Great for reading Google Reader on tablets. [1.3 MB]
  • Kingsoft Office: Open/edit documents. Supports PDF viewing. [7.1 MB]
  • LauncherPro: Alternative for the stock launcher. [2.1 MB]
  • Maxthon Internet Browser: Powerful and fast browser. I use it for my tablet. [2.2 MB]
  • Mobialia Chess: Great app for FICS chess players. Only paid app in this list and worth the price. [3.8 MB]
  • MX Video Player: Plays most video formats. [4.6 MB]
  • NoLED: Missed notifications on screen. Didn’t want to touch my LEDs. [1.1 MB]
  • Page Turner: Excellent e-book reader for tablets. Ads are off on full-screen reading mode once you start reading. [2.2 MB]
  • Screen Filter: Lessen the minimum brightness supported by your device. [53 KB]
  • Share contacts via SMS: Send contact information via SMS or email. [21 KB]
  • Smooth Calendar: A widget showing Google calendar entries. [214 KB]
  • Wallpaper Wizardrii: Has numerous options to set an wallpaper like stretch, scale, resize etc. [601 KB]
  • Xabber: Gtalk client. [1.6 MB]

Synapse: launcher application

Try Synapse, the all-powerful <Ctrl-Alt> alternative on Ubuntu. It’s fast, lightweight and relieves you from grabbing the mouse all the time. Synapse is a semantic launcher written in Vala. It can start applications as well as find and access relevant documents and files by making use of the Zeitgeist engine. Got rid of my start menu in Ubuntu – one less gnome-applet.

Synapse works on a plugin-based design. The main plugins shipped with Synapse are:

  • Applications – searches your desktop files
  • Banshee – allows you to play/enqueue music files in Banshee (or Rhythmbox, Xnoise)
  • Commands – runs any command (ie. “sudo apt-get update”)
  • Devhelp – search documentation using Devhelp
  • Dictionary – find definitions of words
  • Directory search – allows opening of commonly used directories
  • Gnome session – log out, shut down, restart
  • Hybrid search – complete Zeitgeist results by searching for similar files
  • Imgur – share images using Imgur
  • Pastebin – upload files to pastebin
  • Rhytmbox – play/enqueue music files in Rhythmbox
  • SSH – connect to remote host using SSH
  • UPower – suspend & hibernate your computer
  • Zeitgeist – search anything logged by Zeitgeist

To install Synapse on Ubuntu:

$ sudo apt-add-repository ppa:synapse-core/testing
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install synapse

To enable the pastebin plugin, run:

$ sudo apt-get install pastebinit

Webpage: Synapse

Similar software

Update: I have started using Unity in Ubuntu 12.04 and the HUD provides all the functionality of Synapse.


Found a decent application to publish articles on WordPress from the Ubuntu desktop: gnome-blog. Not too feature-rich but OK for quick posts. Available in Synaptic Package Manager.


  • Simple to use interface
  • WYSIWYG styled text support
  • Panel popup allows entries can be written gradually over the course of a day
  • Spell checking
  • Drag and drop support for images

To install on Ubuntu:

$ sudo apt-get install gnome-blog

Webpage: gnome-blog

Social networking and India

coffee_compProsecution of social networking sites by the Indian government came as a surprise to me. If an idiot is given an axe and he chops off a limb with it, is the axe to blame? But this course of action unveiled a greater truth – Indians are irresponsible when it comes to freedom of speech. There is nothing great in social networking sites: a virtual grid which keeps people thinking they are doing something highly important. But Indians do have a taste for big fat illusions and promises! They get addicted soon enough and they misuse.

Instead of trying to erase the evidences of the nation’s e-social OOPS!es, the government should emphasize on building up a matured nation. We are far from model citizens.

I wonder, had Independence made us a better nation or reduced us to a huge, unruly, selfish and opportunist crowd? What’s the big deal in freedom when we neither know how to respect it nor to use it honestly?

Hello WordPress!

cool_penguin_smallSomehow got a pressing urge to start a blog. Ended up at WordPress. Out of social networking sites for a long time now. Facebook seemed to be a chaotic crowd full of things irrelevant to me. All those “so cute”s, likes, dislikes and megalikes turned me off. WordPress seems to be a better way to track my activities, share with people known or unknown and use as a diary of ideas, opinions, information and experiences.