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Tech Tips

Raspberry Pi audio playback from Python

Want to play audio on your Raspberry Pi running Raspbian, while logged in to a non-root user account? Me, too!

Seems like such a simple task.

Consider the following code snippet using PyGame:

import time
import pygame
while == True:

Let's try it:

$ python
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "./", line 3, in <module>
pygame.error: No available audio device

QFind - Find text in open browser tabs

QFind - Find text in Chrome Browser tabs

Quickly find text in titles and page content in Google Chrome tabs.

This browser extension is a real lifesaver if you tend to keep dozens of tabs and multiple windows open for extended periods.

Google Chrome Hacks and Tips

How do I do the following in Google Chrome? What is this thing doing in Google Chrome?

I'm concerned about privacy. How do protect my privacy while I browse? How do I block tracking cookies and ad networks in Chrome?

Wacom Graphics Tablet Cleaning and Maintenance

Keep it clean

Very important: Keep the tablet digitizer surface and pen tips clean and smooth!

This is true of all graphics tablets, but especially important for integrated tablet/display devices like the Wacom Cintiq devices. Why? Because you don't want to scratch the display surface by dragging dirt and dust across the digitizer with your pen or eraser. Graphics tablets are very expensive; a little preventative maintenance can keep yours working like new!

Disable Windows Tablet PC Input Components

If you don't have a tablet-based PC, you should disable the Windows Tablet PC components and services. These components may interfere with the Wacom Cintiq driver software.

Open the control panel. Select Programs and Features, then Turn Windows features on or off.

Scroll down the list. Deselect Tablet PC Components. Click OK.

(Note: they may be disabled already.)
If prompted to restart the computer, do so now.

Wacom Graphics Tablet Tips

A collection of Wacom graphics tablet tips. Many apply to all graphics tablets.

Some of the topics we'll cover:

- Configuring the Wacom Cintiq
- Using the Wacom Cintiq
- Wacom Cintiq (and other graphics tablet) cleaning and maintenance, and extending the life of the drawing surface
- Wacom graphics tablet application-specific tips

Disable Google Instant Search in FireFox and Chrome

I'll show you how to disable Google Instant Search without being signed in to a Google account!

I despise (really!) Google Instant Search. I find it annoying, distracting and unnecessary. If you are a long-time Google search user, you might feel the same way.

Google, once revered for its clean, simple search interface, seems like it's doing everything in its power to alienate users, by rejecting the principles that once attracted users away from bloated, annoying search engines of the past.

How do I turn off Google Instant Search?

You can disable Google Instant search by setting your account preferences while signed in to a Google account.

But what if you aren't signed in? What if you don't have and don't want a Google account?

Easy: Just visit – bookmark that search (or set it as your home page if you like having Google's search page visible when you start your browser). It appears that you can add the complete=0 parameter to any Google search URL and it will disable the Google Instant search feature.

How do I turn off Google Instant in Chrome's OmniBox or FireFox Search Bar?

How to disable Google Instant in Chrome Omnibox

If you use Google's Chrome browser, and you like to use the Omnibox address bar you can disable the instant search feature in results pages (the page you see after you hit enter or 'go') by changing the built-in Google search engine template. Here's how:

Bring up the "Options" form (Wrench button, Options). Click the Manage Search Engines button.

Now, select the search engine's search template in the third column:

Replace the entire search URL template field with following text:

Dismiss the "Search Engines" form.

In addition, you might want to disable the Enable Instant for faster searching and browsing option, as this option is a form of Instant Search within the Omnibox address bar.

How do I turn off Google Instant in FireFox's Search Bar?

But what about FireFox? If you like to use the built-in search bar's Google OpenSearch feature, it's a bit more work.

The easy way

We've provided an OpenSearch plugin installer on this page to simplify the process. Simply drop down your FireFox Search Bar and click "Add Google NoInstant" to your search bar:

The hard(er) way

This method requires that you copy and rename FireFox's built-in Google.xml OpenSearch template, which is found in the FireFox installation folder's "searchplugins" folder, modify it to add the <Param name="complete" value="0"/> parameter entry (see below), then install the new OpenSearch definition in the FireFox profile folder's "searchplugins" folder.

Restart FireFox and click the Search Bar's dropdown button, and you should see Google NoInstant listed; make that your default search provider and you should be rid of the Google Instant curse henceforth.

What is ielowutil.exe and why is it running on my computer?

If you're anything like me, you've noticed that Internet Explorer 8 and 9 seem to be accompanied by a child process named ielowutil.exe. The file properties description for this process isn't very helpful, and, in fact, might lead you to believe that it has something to do with your computer's microphone!

The file description reads: Internet Low-Mic Utility Tool. This sure sounds like it's doing something with your microphone, doesn't it? It turns out that this is a misleading description.

Windows Disk Defragmenter - Open Source and Free Alternatives

Ever since Windows Vista, the built-in disk defragmenter seems a bit... crippled.

No graphical progress display. No visual analysis. No visual or other indication of current fragmentation status.

I suppose this is intended to hide the computer's complexity from the average user.

But: Sometimes you need to know the fragmentation status of one or more disk drives. Sometimes you need greater control over the defragmentation process. Sometimes you need the power user option. Then what?

How to install iPhone, iPad, or iPod drivers without iTunes in Windows

If you have an Apple iPhone or iPod, and you want to use it with Microsoft Windows without installing the massive iTunes application suite, you may think you are out of luck. It seems that Apple went to great lengths to force you to install their bloated iTunes software.

In order to use an iPhone or iPod without iTunes in Windows, you will need to install the following components:

  • The USBAAPL.SYS driver
  • The Apple Mobile Device Support service
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