Get terminal / bash prompt to show useful info

Problem: Well it’s more of an irritation. My new hosting provider does allow SSH access, but when logged in the bash prompt looks like this, regardless of which account  I’m logged-in as, or where I am:


What I want is for it to show something like:


Solution: The bash prompt can be customised via a profile script, ideally anything that loads when you log in like ‘.bash_profile’, ‘.bashrc’ or ‘.profile’. If one of these files doesn’t already exist in your home directory (check with ls -la ~ to list the contents) then create one. Here is an example of creating, editing and loading a login script to show a better prompt.

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Edit crontab with NANO on centos (crontab -e)

Problem: I don’t know where my root users crontab file is, and this doesn’t usually matter because using the command ‘crontab -e’ opens it for editing anyway… but it opens in VI and I am too stupid / lazy / in a rush to use VI.

Solution: The -e switch makes the file open in whatever the default editor for the environment is. To override this, pass the EDITOR environment var to the command when it’s run:

sudo env EDITOR=nano crontab -e

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Using Mac Image Capture with Nikon D70 (Direct Cable connection)

Problem: Recently I dug out my old Nikon D70 to take some pics on holiday. When I connected it to my Mac (OS X v10.8.4) via the USB cable, Image Capture fired-up as expected, but when I tired to Import them I got an error stating that Image Capture was unable to import the RAW images.

Solution: It turns out that the USB mode needs to be ‘M’ now, (Mass Storage Device Mode). To set this:

  1. Press ‘Menu’ on the D70 (after disconnecting it from the Mac.
  2. On the far left of the menu, select the spanner icon to enter the ‘Settings’ sub-menu.
  3. In the Settings menu, scroll up/down to get to the ‘USB’ setting.
  4. Enter the USB setting, and set it to ‘M’ rather than ‘P’ (Picture Transfer Protocol).
  5. Reconnect the USB cable, and the images should now import ok.

Launch Google Chrome Incognito from the terminal or a shortcut in OSX

Problem: Ok not really a problem, but I want to be able to launch Google Chrome straight to Incognito mode from a shortcut. This is useful when logging into multiple bank accounts, Google Apps accounts, or testing session based websites. etc etc etc.

Fix: Thankfully the Google can be launched with the –incognito switch to do just that. The terminal command to do this, assuming the browser is sitting in /Applications/ is this:

open -a /Applications/Google --args --incognito

Note: –args has to be passed to satisfy the ‘open’ command’s arguments first.

Launching it from a shortcut: If you want to create a shortcut to do this, open AppleScript Editor and enter the following:

tell application "Terminal"
	do script "open -a /Applications/Google\ --args --incognito;"
	delay 1
end tell

Note: The space in the Google name must be double-escaped with two backslashes like that to work. Also, without the delay I found that the script exits too quickly or something like that, and it doesn’t work.

Save the above script as an Application, and call it something like ‘Incognito’. Running this app will launch Terminal, Chrome Incognito, then exit Terminal. Bingo!

Giving your Incognito app an Icon: I’ve added the app to my Dock, and given it a special icon (see below for a downloadable PNG icon). To do this:

  • Open the image you want to use as the icon – it should be a 512×512 24bit PNG if possible – and copy the image to the clipboard. If you are using Preview to view the image, do cmd+a to select all, then cmd+c to copy it… this works for most other graphics packages also.
  • Locate the app you created above in Finder, then press cmd+i to bring up the info window (alternatively right-click the app then select ‘get info’).
  • In the resulting pop-up, click on the icon at the top to highlight it like so (notice the blue halo around it):
    Original Script Icon
  • Then use cmd+v to paste the new icon from the clopboard into the icon area and it should look like this:
    New Incognito icon
  • Close the info window, and it’s done. You should now have a nice looking shortcut that opens Chrome Incognito with one or two clicks!

Feel free to use this icon. It’s just the standard one with some ‘colour replace’ work to make it blue. You could paste some tacky sun glasses over it if you wished 🙂

Batch rename file extensions from .jpg to .png in terminal

Problem: A client sent me 164 images with incorrect extensions on them. I needed to change them all from .jpg to .png.

Fix: Open up terminal, navigate to the directory containing all the images and type:

ls *.jpg | awk '{print("mv "$1" "$1)}' | sed 's/jpg/png/2' | /bin/sh

..that should do it! This one-liner makes use of sed and awk unix utilities.

Launch Google Chrome in ‘Incognito’ mode from a shortcut

Niggle: I use Google Chrome’s Incognito window mode regularly to view multiple Google Analytics accounts at the same time on one PC. It’s very useful – it means I don’t have to keep signing in and out of my primary google account – but what annoyed me each time was having to open chrome, then open a new ‘incognito’ window from there, which leaves the old ‘normal’ window open in the background.

Solution: Since Chrome came out of beta, the ‘−−incognito’ command line switch has been available.

So, to get this switch working with a short cut, do the following:

  • Copy the existing Chrome shortcut in your quicklaunch bar, desktop, or start menu.
  • Rename the shortcut to something obvious, I called mine “Chrome Incognito”.
  • Right click on the shortcut, and select ‘properties’.
  • The Properties window opens, and you can select the ‘Shortcut’ tab as shown below:
Chrome Icon Shortcut properties
Chrome Icon Shortcut properties

Note the ‘Target’ path field

  • In the ‘Target:’ field, add the switch ‘ −−incognito’ to the end of the target path, as shown below:
Chrome incognito target path
Chrome incognito target path

incognito ‘Switch’ added to target path

  • Click ‘OK’ to save your changes.

There, all done, that shortcut will now open Chrome in incognito mode window. If you have other normal chrome windows open, they will not be effected by this window. For example, you can stay logged into a google account, a live account, or any other persistent cookie/session driven system. Incognito windows are also great for logging into online banking sites if you’re a bit paranoid.

Note: If you have a 0.* version you will need to upgrade to v1.* or higher.

How to enable FLV file playback in IIS 6

Problem: This one crops up every-so-often, and a colleague just asked me again, so it’s probably worth posting. When an FLV is loaded into a Flash app, the FLV file is ‘played’ when the SWF or Projector is run. When this is done locally – i.e. you run an SWF from your hard drive, or file server – it’ll work fine. The problem comes when you upload it to your IIS web server. The server probably won’t recognise the ‘.flv’ filetype, so it’ll display nothing.

Solution: To make your IIS 6 web server aware of FLV files, do the following:

  • Open ‘IIS Manager’.
  • Right click on your site in ‘Web Sites’, and select ‘Properties’.
  • Choose the ‘HTTP Headers’ tab.
  • Click the ‘MIME Types…’  button on the bottom-right.
  • Click ‘New…’ and then add ‘.flv’ and ‘video/x-flv’ as shown below:
Setting FLV Mime type in IIS site properties
Setting FLV Mime type in IIS site properties
  • ‘Ok’ your way out, and ‘Apply’ when needed.
  • Your video should now play in a browser when embed in an SWF.
Note: You might have to stop and start ISS, but I didn’t when I added the Mime type a few hours ago.
Questions? Please leave a comment…

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Vista Driver for HP Photosmart 1215…


Yesterday my father-in-law needed to hook his old HP Photosmart 1215 Inkjet to Windows Vista Home Edition. HP don’t provide a Vista driver for the 1215…


A quick search around the web found that the driver for the Photosmart 7200 works perfectly. He tried it and says it works exactly as it should.

To install the diver use the following steps:

  1. Click the ‘Start’ Icon, and select ‘Control Panel’ in the start menu.
  2. Once the Control Panel window opens, double-click the ‘Printers’ icon.
  3. In the ‘Printers’ window, click the ‘Add a printer’ icon/link in the top menu bar.
  4. In the ‘Add Printer’ dialog window, select ‘Local Printer’ and ‘Next’.
  5. When asked to ‘Choose a Printer Port’, select ‘Use an existing port’ and click on the ‘USB001 (virtual printer port for USB)’ item in the list. Then click Next.
  6. On the following page, select ‘HP’ or ‘Hewlett Packard’ in the left pane, and find ‘Photosmart 7200′ in the list on the right.
  7. IMPORTANT: Plug in the Printer now, if it’s not already plugged in, and switch it on.
  8. Click ‘next’ and then print a test page.

That should do it…

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