Fix GRUB in two easy steps

February 17th, 2014 | Tutorial

A little mini-tutorial here, brought to you by the school of Learning Things the Hard Way. I don’t know about the rest of you, but lately I’ve been having a lot of trouble with Linux installs failing to set up GRUB properly (particularly Ubuntu-based distros, for some reason). So, the following mini-tutorial is the result of a couple hours of headaches today. I’m not promising that it will work in every case, but if you’re having issues involving GRUB either not existing or not including options to boot one of your OSes, you might as well give this a shot.

  1. Use Super Grub Disk to boot into your Linux install.
  2. Run sudo update-grub from a console.

If you’re lucky, that will fix GRUB very nicely. It should be noted that this does require you to have some semblance of a working grub installation, however. In the event that you do not, I’d suggest running the Ubuntu Boot-Repair utility. In some cases, in fact, that may be all you need to do. As for me, it didn’t detect my Windows install, but it did succeed in getting GRUB installed, which is more than I can say about the original OS installer. Good luck everyone!

Using CGI in Vector Artwork

March 26th, 2012 | Artwork, Process, Tutorial

I’ve been making some vector icons for a client and one of them involved a slide carousel… not exactly something easy to draw in SVG! However, I took a quick shortcut through 3D which I’m now going to share with you. Take a look:

  1. I started by modeling a simple slide carousel in Blender, which took only a few minutes. I only needed the shapes, not the lighting, so I rendered it with some shadeless materials, thusly:CGI basis for slide carousel
  2. I then used Illustrator’s auto-tracing function to get the shapes from the render. Since the source image was very high-contrast, the tracer did a great job for once. At this stage I also drew in many of the simpler shapes, primarily circles.
  3. Finally, I imported the Illustrator file into Inkscape to apply gradient fills, because Illustrator’s gradient tools are a leading cause of brain cancer in graphic designers. (It’s true!) The slide dividers benefit nicely from some clever banded circular gradients, to give this final result:Final vector artwork, slide carousel

Not bad! Had I tried to draw this from scratch in Illustrator, I’d probably still be working… instead it took less than half an hour, and is about as photoreal as vector graphics can be.

Monitor-Switching Hotkeys for GNOME

October 25th, 2011 | Et Cetera, Tutorial

I just set up something really convenient for myself and I have to share it, though it’s somewhat outside of the normal scope of this blog. I use a laptop that’s normally connected to a full-size monitor, so I often have to switch between two different monitor configurations–kind of a hassle. But not anymore, because now I can switch using hotkeys. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Get the monitor config tool “ArandR” ($ sudo apt-get install arandr)
  2. Use it to create and save two monitor configurations, one for the laptop and one for the main screen. These configuration files are actually shell scripts.
  3. Run gconf-editor and navigate to apps/metacity/keybinding_commands. Set the values of two commands to the paths to your shell scripts. (i.e., /path/to/
  4. In apps/metacity/global_keybindings, set the hotkey combination for the commands you just set.
  5. Enjoy easy monitor configuration!

Thanks to this tutorial for showing how to set the hotkeys. Note that this uses Metacity, so it will not work if running other window managers, such as Compiz.