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Fix your goddamn computer

Fixing your computer isn’t hard and you own it to yourself to be tech-literate. That being said crippling tech errors can happen to anyone. I’m nowhere near an expert but I’ve compiled here a huge list that I’ll be updating of general advice, common problems, and how to fix them.

A lot of it is in the mindset. You wouldn’t drive around daily in a dirty car that’s half broken, slow, and unreliable. Your computer, like your car, is a complex tool and you ought to keep it well oiled. Recognize that if your car sucks, you probably don’t have a choice that doesn’t involve copious amounts of moolah. Recognize that you have a choice with your computer and that moolah is not a limiting factor. Recognize that this is awesome.

General Advice

  1. Keep your desktop clean. Use huge icon sizes if you need to force yourself.
  2. Use it.
  3. Install as little software as you possibly need.
  4. If it comes in a portable version, consider using that and a shortcut instead of installing.
  5. Learn to google. It’s keyword based, not question based.
  6. Use an antivirus like avast or ad-aware.
  7. Uninstall all of your bloatware. All of it.
  8. Unhide system files, and then never ever touch them yourself. Educate yourself on their contents.
  9. Show file extensions.
  10. Security is vigilance. Complacency is weakness. Never trust any file ever.
  11. Fear .exe.
  12. Viruses come in many forms – .docx, .pdf, not just .exes.
  13. Disable AutoRun. You should make choices for your computer, not the other way around
  14. Educate yourself on the risks
  15. Educate yourself on the possibilities
  16. Stop using IE. I hate you.
  17. If it doesn’t work, doesn’t mean it’s a virus
  18. If it’s slow, doesn’t mean it’s a virus
  19. Don’t install browser toolbars. You will never need it.
  20. DoNotTrack.
  21. Learn what a gHz, mB, GiB, SSD, and RAM are.
  22. Get pissed that you’re advertised 10^3 but get 2^10.
  23. Don’t try anything before you’ve made sure it’s safe.
  24. Use the cloud.
  25. Data redundancy is the best flavor of redundancy.
  26. Simple is better.
  27. Update. your. software.
  28. Read the update and release notes.
  29. Stop giving up so easily. Your computer isn’t going to offer to help you, so help yourself.

Virus Advice

  1. Google is your friend
  2. So are Ctrl+C and error messages.
  3. HijackThis. Learn to read its output.
  4. avast!, ad-aware, avg, bitdefender.
  5. Boot time scans. avast! does this well
  6. Safe mode scans. Mash F8 on Windows boot.
  7. If you don’t recognize it, it’s probably bad or system related.
  8. BHOs are not your friends.
  9. Double check removal worked.
  10. ComboFix, sometimes.

Fix Advice

  1. Keep a LiveCD handy. Ubuntu.
  2. Don’t trust bootsec.exe /fixmbr unless you must.
  3. gparted and ntfsfix.


Inverted scrolling and Two Finger scrolling in Linux Mint 14

Everyone loves the inverted, physics-sensitive scrolling of Macs, so why can’t Linux have that? It’s pretty simple to set up in Linux (I did this in Linux Mint 14, but it should work for Ubuntu, etc as well). Below is the script:


# inverted x+y scrolling for the touch pad
xinput set-button-map 13 1 2 3 5 4 7 6
# two finger scrolling
synclient VertTwoFingerScroll=1
synclient HorizTwoFingerScroll=1
synclient EmulateTwoFingerMinW=5
synclient EmulateTwoFingerMinZ=48

You will need to edit the xinput line. Run xinput list and find the id of the device you want to have inverted scrolling (in my case, the touchpad, which had id 13). Then test the device with xinput test <id>

# Setup

# to find which device
xinput list

# to find out which buttons to reverse mapping
xinput test <id>
# For example
xinput test 13

Scroll up and down while the test command is running to find which button id your scrolling is. For me it was 4 and 5 for vertical and 6 and 7 for horizontal. Reverse these numbers in the xinput set-button-map 13 1 2 3 4 5 6 7.

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Empty /etc/default/grub

Linux Mint 14 comes with grub2 and a strange surprise (for me anyway): the /etc/default/grub file is completely empty. Instead, /boot/grub/grub.cfg and /etc/grub.d/ contain the grub configuration. This doesn’t mean, however, that the /etc/default/grub file can’t be used. The following is a sample configuration file I made for myself after reading

This will hide grub unless the SHIFT key is held down, and will not wait until booting the first option (in my case Linux Mint 14).


Remember to run

sudo update-grub

when done, and reboot to see the change.

Just wanted to give a heads up to all of us out there wondering why /etc/default/grub is empty.

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Dual Monitors in Linux Mint 14

Dual Monitor setup in Linux Mint 14 with xrandr

So I recently began dual booting Linux Mint 14 and Windows 7 on a Lenovo Ideapad Y580 (which was not a walk in the park, but also one of the simpler *nix installs I’ve ever done). Out of the box, Mint did not detect the correct resolution on my second monitor, maxing out at 1024×768 on the 1080p display. After wrangling with the NVIDIA proprietary drivers, I ended up installing bumblebee (I’ll try to post a complete guide on getting Linux Mint 14 working on dual boot on the Y580).

In the meantime, in order to get the monitor working in 1080p, I followed this tutorial: After successfully getting the modeline, I was able to get 1080p working, but instead of having to type those commands again, I made the following script, which you can save and use to activate your dual monitors as well.


xrandr --newmode "1920x1080_60.00"  173.00  1920 2048 2248 2576  1080 1083 1088 1120 -hsync +vsync
xrandr --addmode VGA1 1920x1080_60.00
xrandr --output VGA1 --mode 1920x1080_60.00
xrandr --output VGA1 --primary

The first line would have to be replaced with the output from the cvt command for your desire resolution, and VGA1 with the name of the display you want to set up. Use

xrandr -q

to find the name of the display. The last line sets the second monitor as the primary display (with the application panels, etc). It can be commented if this is not what you want.

Simple, but I had some trouble finding a solution, so here you go.