Posts Tagged ‘option’

Change Skype for Business UI to Lync – Skype for Business Lync Theme / Remove Skype for Business coloroful UI and Switch to Lync simple interface

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

Revert-skype-for-business-Lync-User-Interface-change-skype-for-business-theme-skin

If you are working in a large corporation such as (HP or HPE – Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE is the new splitted company brand name for the Software and Servers division of ex-HP) / IBM / Dell or any other company with the size of top fortune companies and you Computer Domain admistrator has forced your work PC to already use Skype for Business instead of the good tested Lync Client along with the goodies and PROS of having the newer Skype for Business (S4B) as usual for old fashened users like me and the avarage employee the New S4B interface will turn into nightmare with all this circled names and more buttons and the annoying Skype Blue Theme.

For anyone who has even basic idea of design and aesthetics, I believe the default Theme of Skype For Business  will be evaluated as a serious "interface downgrade" compared to the simple looking Interface and White Skin of Lync Client.

With this said it will be logical for the end user like me to desire to customize a bit default S4B Skin to make it more elegant looking like Lync 2013 client but guess what there is a Surprise if you google around, Skype For Business just like the regular Skype client doesn't have integrated support for Skins / Themes.
To make the horror complete, many big corporations are choosing to migrate their Email infrastructure from the classical and well tested Windows Domain with Exchange Server to  Microsoft Office 365 (Cloud services),
which makes the dependency on M$ products even bigger and in the long run control and spying on people's email and information (people's data security even worsers) as you know how hackable Windows prooved to be over the years.


Well for those who remember the good old times of IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and ICQ (I seek you) 🙂 and even Jabber when chatting emerged and boomed into popularity all the chat clients nomatter whether it was a free software under GPL / BSD license or it was a Proprietary licensed software, there was always alternative on the Interface Outlook of the Chat clients and on practically all popular Chat / Audio / Video communication Standards / Protocols, there used to be some option for the users to use either a different client or to customize the outook of the program.

Well now the big surprise with Skype Protocol which was purchased by Microsoft some years ago back is this terrible already M$ program doesn't have any option for changing the Theme and even basic customization besides the ones provided by default by Microsoft. For my surprise such a trivial and everybody used program like Skype with perhaps already 1.5 or 2 Billion or even more users doesn't have even basic support for customization !!!
To make the Skype program use horror story even worser Microsoft does upgrade the Skype client agressively and for the last 3 or 4 years Skype is owned by Microsoft the interface gets changing slightly or even completely with every next release.

Now with latest Skype versions since a 1.5 year or so the agressiveness of the program even increased further as it wants you to automatically upgrade, every time you run Skype.
With this in mind and the fact, I have to spend about 8 to 10 years on the PC with Skype for Business switched on on my notebook with no option to use Lync for communication because of the Domain Exchange forcing the changes to all of the users within our EMEA.

So after some serious digging on the Internet, the only work around to change the Skype For Business Theme available by a couple of sources is to Revert Back the Skype User Interface to Lync 2013 Client by changing a value to the Windows registry and get back the good old elegant Lync interface instead of S4B.

The Windows registry value that needs to be changed is:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\Lync]


The default value there is:
 

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\Lync]
"CanSharePptInCollab"=dword:00000001
"CanAppShareInCollab"=dword:00000001
"CanShareOneNoteInCollab"=dword:00000001
"EnableSkypeUI"=hex:01,00,00,00

 

The value has to be changed to:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\Lync]
"CanSharePptInCollab"=dword:00000001
"CanAppShareInCollab"=dword:00000001
"CanShareOneNoteInCollab"=dword:00000001
"EnableSkypeUI"=hex:00,00,00,00


restart_lync_screenshot-ms-windows

The value "EnableSkypeUI"=hex:01,00,00,00 – instructs so Skype for Business UI is used:
"EnableSkypeUI"=hex:00,00,00,00 – instructs S4B to revert back to Old Lync interface

For a little bit more on the value check out also articles – Alternate Between The Microsoft Lync and Skype for Business
and Managing the Skype Client UI in Skype for Business.

To modify about registry setting you will either have to manually run regedit from Start -> Run ->  cmd.exe or use Windows button + R and type inside run box:
 

regedit


Or even better just use and Run (Click over twice) on this skype.reg (download) sciprt which will modify registry

Because the Domain administrator has forced a policy to automatically offer Change of Lync Interface to Skype for Business on every notebook boot to disable EnableSkypeUI registry value and make Skype appear in the good old Lync UI, I've created also a tiny Batch script lync_ui.bat with following content:
 

cd \
cd \Users\georgi\scripts
 regedit /s skype.reg
exit


You can download lync_ui.bat from here

Note that both skype.reg and lync_ui.bat should be existing in my case in C:\Users\georgi\scipts , change this path to whatever your username is and create scripts folder in your User Home dir.
If unsure about the home directory name you can check it from command prompt with:
 

C:\Users\georgi> echo %HOMEPATH%
\Users\georgi


To make the lync_ui.bat (script invoking skype.reg)  be executed on every PC boot, you need to add it to:

Start -> All Programs -> StartUp

http://www.pc-freak.net/images/how-to-add-script-to-windows-startup-screenshto-microsoft-windows-7

Well this is it now you will have back the Lync UI, Enjoy! 🙂

 

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Configure Linux users to see only their own user processes with Hidepid – Stop users to see what others are doing

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

configure-Linux-users-to-see-only-ther-own-processes-with-hidepid-ps-aux-stop-system-users-to-see-what-others-are-doing
If you administer a university shared free shell Linux server, have a small community of *NIX users offering free accounts for them, or responsible for Linux software company with development servers, where programmers login and use daily to program software / websites its necessery to have tightened security rules with a major goal to keep the different user accounts processes separate one from other (hide all system and user processes from single logged in user).

Preventing users to see other users processes is essential for Linux servers which are at high risk to be hacked. At earlier times to achieve hiding all processes besides own ones from a logged in user was possible by using A kernel security module Grsecurity.
In latest currenlt Linux kernel version 3.2+ (on both Debian (unstable) / Ubuntu 14.04 / RHEL/CentOS v6.5+ above) you can hide process from other user so only root (useruser) can see all running process with (ps auxwwf) with a native kernel option hidepid. 

Configuring Hidepid

To enable hidepid option you have to remount the /proc filesystem with the Linux kernel hardening hidepid option, to make it one time setting on already running server issue:
 

 mount -o remount,rw,hidepid=2 /proc


To make the hidepid setting permanently active its necessery to modify /proc filesystem settings in /etc/fstab


 

vim /etc/fstab

proc    /proc    proc    defaults,hidepid=2     0     0
 

  • hidepid=0 – Anybody may read all world-readable /proc/PID/* files (default).
  • hidepid=1 – Means users may not access any /proc/ / directories, but only ones owned by them.Important  files like cmdline, sched*, status are now protected to read from other other users.
  • hidepid=2 – Means hidepid=1 plus all /proc/PID/ will be invisible to other users besides logged in. Using this options stops Cracker's from gathering info about running processes, indication of daemon (services) which runs with elevated privileges, other user running processes (some might contain password) passed as argument or some sensitive data. Revealing such data is frequently used to get versions of local / remote running services that can be exploited.
     

Below is output of htop of a logged in user on hidepid activated server:

:htop_screenshot_on_hideid_showing-only-own-user-credentials-gnu-linux-debian

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Heroes of Might and Magic 2: Best old-school turn based strategic game to play on your Android mobile phone

Monday, June 16th, 2014

heroes-of-might-and-magic-2-for-your-mobile-smartphone-android-screenshot

Probably many people which are my age (I'm aged 30 now), spent many days and sleepless nights being totally addicted playing probably one of the most addictive (and in my view greatest strategy game of all time) – Heroes of Might and Magic II (HOMM2).
In that thoughts it will be a great news for you if you're owning smartphone that you can turn-back some nice memories and play (for free) a port of Heroes 2 for Android.

Free Heroes 2 Android port is it is made to support multiple screened devices so game  version could be played on both Android Tablet a tiny screen smart phone or a middle sized mobile. Also Free Heroes 2 mobile port allows you to choose 'The Magnifying glass' option on first game boot, so if you're on a tiny screened mobile you can still zoom by pointing on a game object. Free Heroes 2 Android port is there thanks to Gerhard Stein who is also an author of OpenTyrian mobile phone port and the amazing old computer jump-and-run arcade Commander Keen. Game pointer controls of FHeroes2 are pretty convenient and playing the game is almost as confortable as played with a PC mouse.
Free Heroes 2 is port of Free Heroes 2 engineFree implementation of Heroes of the Might and Magic II engine in SDL and because SDL is platform independent Free Heroes is also available for both Windows / Linux. Maybe here is time too mention that Heroes2 original DOS game works perfectly on any modern Linux distribution when started through DOSBOX DOS emulator.

By default Free Heroes2  has no game campaign support yet. In order to enable campaing support into Free Heroes 2, download FULL Heroes 2 gameput data files to mobile SD card to dir app-data/net.sourceforge.fheroes2 and campaign option will be there too.

heroes_of_might_and_magic_ii_play-on-android-best-strategy-old-game-for-android

Heroes of Might and Magic 2 – The succession Wars (or HEROES2, as it is widely known in Gamers communities) is a turn based strategy game  from year 1996 developed by Jon Van Caneghem by his New World Computing company it was marketed under on the market under brand of 3DO Company. Heroes II was voted the sixth-best PC game of all time by PC Gamer in May 1997. Heroes2 has also a game expansion pack called the Price of Loyalty released in 1997 as well as Heroes of Might and Magic II – Gold – from 1998. The game graphic design looks very beautiful and combined with the soundtrack makes playing it an awesome and calming experience. The game is very notable especially for soundtrack which is all of a beautiful classical music.

Heroes-of-might-and-magic-2-best-games-of-all-time-screenshot-HOMM2
(Picture taken and copyrighted by Wikipedia)

Gameplay

The titular heroes (horse) are player characters who can recruit armies, move around the map, capture resources, and engage in combat. The heroes also incorporate some role-playing game elements; they possess a set of statistics that confer bonuses to an army, artifacts that enhance their powers, and knowledge of magical spells that can be used to attack enemies or produce strategic benefits. Also, heroes gain experience levels from battle, such that veteran heroes are significantly more powerful than inexperienced ones.

On a typical map, players begin a game with one town of a chosen alignment. Each town alignment hosts a unique selection of creatures from which the player can build an army. Town alignment also determines other unique traits such as native hero classes, special bonuses or abilities, and leanings toward certain skills or kinds of magic.

heroes-of-might-and-magic-town_castle-sorceress-screenshot

Towns play a central role in the games since they are the primary source of income and new recruits. A typical objective in each game is to capture all enemy towns. Maps may also start with neutral towns, which do not send out heroes but may still be captured by any player. It is therefore possible, and common, to have more towns than players on a map. When captured, a town retains its alignment type, allowing the new owner to create a mixed army. A player or team is eliminated when no towns or heroes are left under their control. Usually the last player or team remaining is the victor.

As heroes visit special locations called obelisks, pieces are removed from a jigsaw puzzle-like map, gradually revealing 'The Ultimate Artifact location to the player. Once found, it confers immense bonuses to the player capable of breaking a stalemate: the grail can be taken back to a town and used to build a special structure, while the ultimate artifact provides the bonuses directly through possession.

heroes-of-might-and-magic-2-battle-for-castle-screenshot

Whenever a player engages in battle

The game changes from the adventure map display to a combat screen, which is based on either a hexagonal or square grid. In this mode, the game mimics the turn-based tactics genre, as the engaged armies must carry through the battle without the opportunity to reinforce or gracefully retreat. With few exceptions, combat must end with the losing army deserting, being destroyed, or paying a heavy price in gold to surrender. Surrendering allows the player to keep the remaining units intact. Battles can be led army army to army or castles / villages can be fight and (captured) occupied. Owning a town gives your hero daily an income of money later used to buy and upgrade castle buildings.

heroes-of-might-and-magic-ii-the-succession-wars-wizard-castle-building-options-screenshot

Also you your moved heroes could overtake mines producing different goods like minerals, sulfur, gold, emeralds etc. Building different buildings and building war units for army usually cost gold and some kind of resource.

Game Story

Heroes II history continues after Heroes I. Ending of Heroes I results in Lord Morglin Ironfist's victory. In the following years, he has successfully unified the continent of Enroth and secured his rule as king. Upon the king's death, his two sons, Archibald and Roland, vie for the crown. Archibald orchestrates a series of events that lead to Roland's exile. Archibald is then declared the new king, while Roland organizes a resistance. Each alignment is represented by one of the game's two campaigns. Archibald's campaign features the three "evil" town alignments, while Roland's campaign features the three "good" town alignments.

If Archibald is victorious, Roland's rebellion is crushed, and Roland himself is imprisoned in Castle Ironfist, leaving Archibald the uncontested ruler of Enroth. The  ending, however, results in Roland's victory, with Archibald being turned to stone by Roland's court wizard, Tanir.

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Bulgarian misery net sponsor of European welfare – Statistics on European Union country installments

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

european-union-fed-by-people-misery-bulgarian-misery-sponsor-of-european-welfare

Budget of European Union for 2011 is 142 billion Euro. Main source of budget income are installments from country members. Installments paid to EU consist about 1 of countries GDP – and approximately this is the amount of money paid  per EU country member.

For Bulgaria installment is about 426 million euro. The bigger GDP is the bigger the amount of money the respective country pains to the overall European Union budget. Even though payments of member countries is only 1% of GDP, this is the source for about 70% of income of EU.

Other source of money for European Union community comes from VAT taxes, and countries customs taxes (over import / export goods) collected on external border of EU community. In national budgets. Member countries give out 75% of their quotes over the custom incomes, collected in external borders of EU. In national counry budget only 25% of money made from customs control imports and imports influx. In Bulgaria's case we can be talk about the import crossing borders of Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey. Import from VAT taxes in 2011 are 3 370 billion leva and from customs 131 million leva. What percantage of this money went to European Union knows only experts.
For last year the Brussels money for Bulgaria are only 1.33 billion Euro (just to compare Poland received 16 736 billion euro). What is even more sad is that money coming from European union for so called funds influx into the pockets of well known oligarchs.

As it looks even though the glorifications with which Bulgarian government gave to the acquisition of this 1.33 billions eur-obrussel gifts during last year our coutnry still remains net sponsor of European budget. Here are not included the country econonic losses of the membership in EU, for example the closure of reactors of our Nuclear Power Plant in Kozloduy. In mean time about 1% of budget of EU community comes from installments from EU employees, unspent money from EU country members as well as receipts from fines from firms and companies for breachment of laws for protectition of competition and normative acts.
Primary supplier in European Union budget is Germany.
 

  • In 2011, Germany paid to EU 27 954 billion euro. This is about 19.7 of all the Union incomes.
  • Second to Germany by paid country member fee to EU is France with 23.273 billion euros, about 16.4% of all EU income.
  • Third is Italy with 18 447 billion euros or 13% of all EU budget.

As prior mentioned in 2011 direct installment of Bulgaria is 0.426 billion euro (without VAT quotes and incomes from taxation). Less installments paid Esthonia, Lithuania, Malta, Cyprus, Luxemburg (!!!) and Slovenia. Even though all this countries has less teritoriy and less population all this countries are much richer and has a higher GDP per capita!
 

  • Hungary (10 million people)'s installment is 1.135 billions and Romania's installment (Romania – 21.7 million people) was 1.419 billion euro.

Finally – lets take a look of EU country installments per capita of some of member countries.

  • Last year the avarage european give for Brussels burocracy 0.78 euro a day!

Question is how it is possible for everyone to pay 0.78 euro for European Adminsitration? – if there is high unemployment in Bulgaria and a lot of people doesn't receive even 0.78 a day?

European Union returned money in terms of funds does not create fabrics or industry and therefore doesn't create employment – doesn't reduce unemployment ?


Does really Bulgaria and we Bulgarians advantage of the European Union?

Avarage Bulgarian paid 0.16 euro per day – the lowest individual installment in union
 

  • average Latvian, Romanian and Lithuanian,  paid (0.17, 0, 18, 0.24 euro cents a day).

     

     

    The most paid citizens of the excessively rich principality

  • Luxemburg1.52 euro a day per person, followed by Danes, Belgians, Swedes, Dutch, Irish, French and Austrians (ranging from 1.47 euro to 0.98 euro).

As some of European Union citizens might not known,few million of Euro of this money is spend on a move of European deputies from Brussels to Strasburg every month (money given for travel costs of EU deputies and physical move of resources from Brussels to Strasburg). The exact sum spend per year for this unmeaningful move (in order to fulfil European community old legislation varies from 150 to 200 million a year!)

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Linux / BSD: Check if Apache web server is listening on port 80 and 443

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

apache_check_if_web_server_running_port-80-and-port-443-logo-linux-and-bsd-check-apache-running
If you're configuring a new Webserver or adding a new VirtualHost to an existing Apache configuration you will need to restart Apache with or without graceful option once Apache is restarted to assure Apache is continuously running on server (depending on Linux distribution) issue:

1. On Debian Linux / Ubuntu servers

# ps axuwf|grep -i apache|grep -v grep

root 23280 0.0 0.2 388744 16812 ? Ss May29 0:13 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data 10815 0.0 0.0 559560 3616 ? S May30 2:25 _ /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data 10829 0.0 0.0 561340 3600 ? S May30 2:31 _ /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data 10906 0.0 0.0 554256 3580 ? S May30 0:20 _ /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data 10913 0.0 0.0 562488 3612 ? S May30 2:32 _ /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data 10915 0.0 0.0 555524 3588 ? S May30 0:19 _ /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
www-data 10935 0.0 0.0 553760 3588 ? S May30 0:29 _ /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start

 


2. On CentOS, Fedora, RHEL and SuSE Linux and FreeBSD

ps ax | grep httpd | grep -v grep

 

7661 ? Ss 0:00 /usr/sbin/httpd
7664 ? S 0:00 /usr/sbin/httpd
7665 ? S 0:00 /usr/sbin/httpd
7666 ? S 0:00 /usr/sbin/httpd
7667 ? S 0:00 /usr/sbin/httpd
7668 ? S 0:00 /usr/sbin/httpd
7669 ? S 0:00 /usr/sbin/httpd
7670 ? S 0:00 /usr/sbin/httpd
7671 ? S 0:00 /usr/sbin/httpd

 

Whether a new Apache IP Based VirtualHosts are added to already existing Apache and you have added new

Listen 1.1.1.1:80
Listen 1.1.1.1:443

directives, after Apache is restarted to check whether Apache is listening on port :80 and :443
 

netstat -ln | grep -E ':80|443'

tcp        0      0 0.0.0.0:80              0.0.0.0:*               LISTEN
tcp        0      0 0.0.0.0:443            0.0.0.0:*               LISTEN


Meaning of 0.0.0.0 is that Apache is configured to Listen on Any Virtualhost IPs and interfaces. This output is usually returned whether in Apache config httpd.conf / apache2.conf webserver is configured with directive.

Listen *:80
 

If in netstat output there is some IP poping up for example  "192.168.1.1:http", this means that only connections to the "192.168.1.1" IP address will be accepted by Apache.

Another way to look for Apache in netstat (in case Apache is configured to listen on some non-standard port number) is with:

netstat -l |grep -E 'http|www'

tcp        0      0 *:www                   *:*                     LISTEN


As sometimes it might be possible that Apache is listening but its processes are in in defunct (Zommbie) state it is always a good idea, also to check if pages server by Apache are opening in browser (check it with elinks, lynx or curl)

To get more thorough information on Apache listened ports, protocol, user with which Apache is running nomatter of Linux distribution use lsof command:
 

/usr/bin/lsof -i|grep -E 'httpd|http|www'

httpd     6982 nobody    3u  IPv4  29388359      0t0  TCP pc-freak.net:https (LISTEN)
httpd    18071 nobody    3u  IPv4 702790659      0t0  TCP pc-freak.net:http (LISTEN)
httpd    18071 nobody    4u  IPv4 702790661      0t0  TCP pc-freak.net.net:https (LISTEN)


If Apache is not showing up even though restarted check what is going wrong in the error logs:

– on Debian standard error log is /var/log/apache2/error.log
– On RHEL, CentOS, SuSE std. error log is in /var/log/httpd/error.log
– on FeeBSD /var/log/httpd-error.log

 

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My struggles to find good substitute for old QWERTY Nokia 9300 Communicator and The Death of QWERTY Smart phones

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Nowadays having a a touch screen mobile phone has become like a standard. I'm not such a big fan of Touch screen technology, thus I've been fighting with the idea to own a touch screen phone for a year or so. Just till recently I happily lived with my old Nokia 9300i with a physical QWERTY keyboard for already 4 years.

Unfortunately lately while talking with my Nokia I started getting frequent voice interruptions missing words in my phone call conversations and need to ask person I'm talking to, to repeat his words / sentence in order to understand what is communicated .. I'm economic person and therefore don't like bying anything new if it is not absolutely necessary so I opened the phone and clean it hoping that this will solve the conversation issues but with no luck. With this half-usable mobile my only option left was to buy a new mobile phone.

I'm not very rigorious on what a mobile phone should be and I'm very much minimalist by heart so I was thinking of bying new cheapest available Nokia phone on the market and solve my "issue" quick and efficient,  only problem was  I'm quite used already of using my handy QWERTY phone as a note taking device thus I preferred to not buy a keypad mobile phone but get again a smartphone with physical QWERTY.

I have consulted with some friends who are more knowledgable on what's latest on mobile phone market with a question what will be a good substitute for my Nokia Communicator 9300i and heard comments like:
'IPhone is the most functional and superior in interface', while some friends and colleagues adviced me:
'Choose an Android based phone as Android is Linux based and gives more freedom to the user as well as has more free applications to install'

I appreaciated my friends help but I didn't like the idea to buy a Smartphone with a touchscreen display – virtual keyboard is not so confortable as having a physical one and besides this is a very slow interface compared to physical keys. Thus initially strongly rejected the idea of bying a phone without a physical keyboard. After some weeks of pondering and checking in the market – in 3 Major mobile operators shops in Bulgaria MTel, Globul and VIVACOM and HANDY store. I've find out currently on the market there is no good price / quality and functionality ratio (qwerty keyboard mobile) available. My options were limited to either by a Nokia Asha 210 or some variance or a Blackberry mobile.

nokia_asha_210_mobile_phone

In first glimpse I liked the Nokia ASHA 210 – QWERTY powered mobile  but after noticing the blue Facebook "F" button got quickly jolted.
The sales lady offered me a couple of other Nokias with Qwerty keyboard as well as a Blackberry 9320 Curve.

blackberry_curve_smart_mobile_phone
After a quick test of all QWERTY mobiles, found the intertface on both is so inferior to IPhone's IOS and Android based phones.
I asked my HP workmates for advice of a good QWERTY bundled mobile phone with Android and was referred to Motorolla Droid 3 – which seems to among the only options on the market for mobile Phone which have both Android Operating System and a Physical QWERTY keyboardMotorolla Droid 3 seemed to be exactly the mobile I was looking for but unfortunately it is not available in Mobile phones stores in Bulgaria and only in bulgaria is only offered for sale as a second hand and I had to buy it over the Internet (I prefer not to buy on the Internet). Even if I bought it as second hand  DROID 3's price is too high for my budget – 250 EUR!

Motorola-Droid-3-mobile-nokia-9300i-substitute

I wanted to buy economic phone and same time to have a good balance between price and phone modernity, same time don't tie myself with mobile operator yearly tax plan thus decided to pay my whole mobile price in cache (no credits, no binding 2 / 3 year conversation plans).

After evaluating the options on Market I stopped on two mobiles identical by price 150 EUR I could choose between Samsung Galaxy Trend Lite or ZTE Blade 3. The sales lady adviced me its better to get the ZTE Blade 3 than Samsung Galaxy Trend Lite (S7350) because ZTE has better Camera (5 Mpixels), a better Display and has much less hardware issues than Samsung Galaxy Lite.

Samsung-Galaxy-Trend-Lite-S7390-smart-mobile-phone

 

Finally I bought the ZTE Blade 3 and nowdays I'm trying to get used to it and to be honest even with a week passed I still can't get used to the Virtual Keyboard

Android interface is quite shiny but a little bit chaotic if compared to design use interface I've tested on IPhones. Android OS seems to behave very weird at times but in general is quite easy to use. Managing / installing / Removing applications from Google AppStore is done by only 2 clicks. My major concern on Android is its highly addictive. I've catch myself, since last week I spend much more time using my mobile than before with my Nokia Communicator …
ZTE-Blade-III-Black-smart-phone

To conclude it I would say living with a smartphone has its advantagous (you can easily check weather prognosis / news) and do a number of things with it, but it is addictive .. obviously its easy to  become an Android addict and spend your free time on useless stuff like installing / testing new apps and playing with phone. Having a smartphone just like I priorly suspected is a big time eater and it seems my hypothesis  that its better to live without a smart phone is true. But who knows, perhaps its just a moment addictiveness just like with any new thing posession – time will show. In meantime I believe my ZTE Blade III – purchase was a good deal as it gives me opportunity to explore Android OS. I'll stop here with my ranting and excuse myself if the article was too boring …Please drop me a comment with mobile types and names who had QWERTY keyboard and a modern OS. Very sadly it seems the QWERTY hardware keyboard mobiles will soon be dead and gone …

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How to convert OGG Vorbis .ogg to MP3 on GNU / Linux and FreeBSD

Friday, July 27th, 2012

I’ve used K3B just recently to RIP an Audio CD with music to MP3. K3b has done a great job ripping the tracks, the only problem was By default k3b RIPs songs in OGG Vorbis (.ogg) and not mp3. I personally prefer OGG Vorbis as it is a free freedom respecting audio format, however the problem was the .ogg-s cannot be read on many of the audio players and it could be a problem reading the RIPped oggs on Windows. I’ve done the RIP not for myself but for a Belarusian gfriend of mine and she is completely computer illiterate and if I pass her the songs in .OGG, there is no chance she succed in listening the oggs. I’ve seen later k3b has an option to choose to convert directly to MP3 Using linux mp3 lame library this however is time consuming and I have to wait another 10 minutes or so for the songs to be ripped to shorten the time I decided to directly convert the existing .ogg files to .mp3 on my (Debian Linux). There are probably many ways to convert .ogg to mp3 on linux and likely many GUI frontends (like SoundConverter) to use in graphic env.

SoundConverter Debian GNU Linux graphic GUI environment program for convertion of ogg to mp3 and mp3 to ogg, convert multiple sound formats on GNU / Linux.

I however am a console freak so I preferred doing it from terminal. I’ve done quick research on the net and figured out the good old ffmpeg is capable of converting .oggs to .mp3s. To convert all mp3s just ripped in the separate directory I had to run ffmpeg in a tiny bash loop.

A short bash shell script 1 liner combined with ffmpeg does it, e.g.;

for f in *.ogg; do ffmpeg -i "$f" "`basename "$f" .ogg`.mp3"; done.....

The loop example is in bash so in order to make the code work on FreeBSD it is necessery it is run in a bash shell and not in BSDs so common csh or tcsh.

Well, that’s all oggs are in mp3; Hip-hip Hooray 😉

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How to disable ACPI on productive Linux servers to decrease kernel panics and increase CPU fan lifespan

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Linux TUX ACPI logo / Tux Hates ACPI logohttp://www.pc-freak.net/images/linux_tux_acpi_logo-tux-hates-acpi.png

Why would anyone disable ACPI support on a server machine??
Well  ACPI support kernel loaded code is just another piece of code constantly being present in the memory,  that makes the probability for a fatal memory mess up leading to  a fatal bug resulting in system crash (kernel panic) more likely.

Many computers ship with buggy or out of specifications ACPI firmware which can cause a severe oddities on a brand new bought piece of comp equipment.

One such oddity related to ACPI motherboard support problems is if you notice your machine randomly powering off or failing to boot with a brand new Linux installed on it.

Another reason to switch off ACPI code will would to be prevent the CPU FAN rotation from being kernel controlled.

If the kernel controls the CPU fan on  high CPU heat up it will instruct the fan to rotate quickly and on low system loads it will bring back the fan to loose speed.
 This frequent switch of FAN from high speed to low speed  increases the probability for a short fan damage due to frequent changes of fan speed. Such a fan damage leads often to  system outage due to fan failure to rotate properly.

Therefore in my view it is better ACPI support is switched off completely on  servers. On some servers ACPI is useful as it can be used to track CPU temperature with embedded motherboard sensors with lm_sensors or any piece of hardwre vendor specific software provided. On many machines, however lm_sensors will not properly recognize the integrated CPU temperature sensors and hence ACPI is mostly useless.

There are 3 ways to disable fully or partially ACPI support.

- One is to disable it straight for BIOS (best way IMHO)
- Disable via GRUB or LILO passing a kernel parameter
- Partial ACPI off-ing - /disabling the software that controls the CPU fan/

1. Disable ACPI in BIOS level

Press DEL, F1, F2, F10 or whatever the enter bios key combination is go through all the different menus (depending on the vios BENDOR) and make sure every occurance of ACPI is set to off / disable whatever it is called.

Below is a screenshot of menus with ACPI stuff on a motherboard equipped with Phoenix AwardBIOS:

BIOS ACPI Disable power Off Phoenix BIOS

This is the in my opinon best and safest way to disable ACPI power saving, Unfortunately some newer PCs lack the functionality to disable ACPI; (probably due to the crazy "green" policy the whole world is nowdays mad of).

If that's the case with you, thanksfully there is a "software way" to disable ACPI via passing kernel options via GRUB and LILO boot loaders.

2. Disabling ACPI support on kernel boot level through GRUB boot loader config

There is a tiny difference in command to pass in order to disable  ACPI depending on the Linux installed  GRUB ver. 1.x or GRUB 2.x.

a) In GRUB 0.99 (GRUB version 1)

Edit file /etc/grub/menu.lst or /etc/grub/grub.conf (location differs across Linux distribution). Therein append:

acpi=off

to the end of kernel command line.

Here is an example of a kernel command line with ACPI not disabled (example taken from CentOS server grub.conf):

[root@centos ~]# grep -i title -A 4 /etc/grub/grub.conf
title Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server (2.6.18-36.el5)
root (hd0,0)
kernel /vmlinuz-2.6.18-36.el5 ro root=/dev/VolGroup00/LogVol00 console=ttyS0,115200n8
initrd /initrd-2.6.18-36.el5.img

The edited version of the file with acpi=off included should look like so:

title Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server (2.6.18-36.el5)
root (hd0,0)
kernel /vmlinuz-2.6.18-36.el5 ro root=/dev/VolGroup00/LogVol00 console=ttyS0,115200n8 acpi=off
initrd /initrd-2.6.18-36.el5.img

The kernel option root=/dev/VolGroup00/LogVol00 means the the server is configured to use LVM (Logical Volume Manager).

b) Disabling ACPI on GRUB version 1.99 +

This version is by default installed on newer Ubuntu and Debian Linux-es.

In grub 1.99 on latest Debian Squeeze, the file to edit is located in /boot/grub/grub.cfg. The file is more messy than with its predecessor menu.lst (grub 0.99).
Thanks God there is no need to directly edit the file (though this is possible), but on newer Linuces (as of time of writting the post), there is another simplied grub config file /etc/grub/config

Hence to add the acpi=off to 1.99 open /etc/grub/config find the line reading:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet"

and append the "acpi=off" option, e.g. the line has to change to:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet acpi=off"

On some servers it might be better to also disable APIC along with ACPI:

Just in case you don't know what is the difference between ACPI and APIC, here is a short explanation:

ACPI = Advanced Configuration and Power Interface

APIC = Advanced Programmable Interrupt Controllers

ACPI is the system that controls your dynamic speed fans, the power button behavior, sleep states, etc.

APIC is the replacement for the old PIC chip that used to come imbedded on motherboards that allowed you to setup interrupts for your soundcard, ide controllers, etc.

Hence on some machines experiencing still problems with even ACPI switched off, it is helpful  to disable the APIC support too, by using:

acpi=off noapic noacpi

Anyways, while doing the changes, be very very cautious or you might end up with un-boot-able server. Don't blame me if this happens :); be sure you have a backup option if server doesn't boot.

To assure faultless kernel boot, GRUB has ability to be configured to automatically load up a second kernel if 1st one fails to boot, if you need that read the grub documentation on that.

To load up the kernel with the new setting, give it a restart:

[root@centos ~]# shutdown -r now
....

3. Disable ACPI support on kernel boot time on Slackware or other Linuxes still booting kernel with LILO

Still, some Linux distros like Slackware, decided to keep the old way and use LILO (LInux LOader) as a default boot loader.

Disabling ACPI support in LILO is done through /etc/lilo.conf

By default in /etc/lilo.conf, there is a line:

append= acpi=on

it should be changed to:

append= acpi=off

Next to load up the new acpi disabled setting, lilo has to be reloaded:

slackware:~# /sbin/lilo -c /etc/lilo.conf
....

Finally a reboot is required:

slackware:~# reboot
....

(If you don't have a physical access or someone near the server you better not 🙂 )

4. Disable ACPI fan control support on a running Linux server without restart

This is the most secure work-around, to disabling the ACPI control over the machine CPU fan, however it has a downside that still the ACPI code will be loaded in the kernel and could cause kernel issues possibly in the long run – lets say the machine has uptime of more than 2 years…

The acpi support on a user level  is controlled by acpid or haldaemon (depending on the Linux distro), hence to disable the fan control on servers this services has to be switched off:

a) disabling ACPI on Debian and deb based Linux-es

As of time of writting on Debian Linux servers acpid (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface event daemon) is there to control how power management will be handled. To disable it stop it as a service (if running):

debian:~# /etc/init.d/acpid stop

To permanently remove acpid from boot up on system boot disable it with update-rc.d:

debian:~# update-rc.d acpid disable 2 3 4 5
update-rc.d: using dependency based boot sequencing
insserv: Script iptables is broken: incomplete LSB comment.
insserv: missing `Required-Start:' entry: please add even if empty.
insserv: warning: current start runlevel(s) (empty) of script `acpid' overwrites defaults (2 3 4 5).
insserv: warning: current stop runlevel(s) (2 3 4 5) of script `acpid' overwrites defaults (empty).
insserv: missing `Required-Start:' entry: please add even if empty.

b) disabling ACPI on RHEL, Fedora and other Redhat-s (also known as RedHacks 🙂 )

I'm not sure if this is safe,as many newer rpm based server system services,  might not work properly with haldaemon disabled.

Anyways you can give it a try if when it is stopped there are issues just bring it up again.

[root@rhel ~]# /etc/init.d/haldaemon stop

If all is fine with the haldaemon switched off (hope so), you can completely disable it to load on start up with:

[root@centos ~]# /sbin/chkconfig --level 2 3 4 5 haldaemon off

Disabling ACPI could increase a bit your server bills, but same time decrease losses from downtimes, so I guess it worths its costs 🙂

 

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Monitoring MySQL server queries and debunning performance (slow query) issues with native MySQL commands and with mtop, mytop

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

If you're a Linux server administrator running MySQL server, you need to troubleshoot performance and bottleneck issues with the SQL database every now and then. In this article, I will pinpoint few methods to debug basic issues with MySQL database servers.

1. Troubleshooting MySQL database queries with native SQL commands

a)One way to debug errors and get general statistics is by logging in with mysql cli and check the mysql server status:

# mysql -u root -p
mysql> SHOW STATUS;
+-----------------------------------+------------+
| Variable_name | Value |
+-----------------------------------+------------+
| Aborted_clients | 1132 |
| Aborted_connects | 58 |
| Binlog_cache_disk_use | 185 |
| Binlog_cache_use | 2542 |
| Bytes_received | 115 |
.....
.....
| Com_xa_start | 0 |
| Compression | OFF |
| Connections | 150000 |
| Created_tmp_disk_tables | 0 |
| Created_tmp_files | 221 |
| Created_tmp_tables | 1 |
| Delayed_errors | 0 |
| Delayed_insert_threads | 0 |
| Delayed_writes | 0 |
| Flush_commands | 1 |
.....
.....
| Handler_write | 132 |
| Innodb_page_size | 16384 |
| Innodb_pages_created | 6204 |
| Innodb_pages_read | 8859 |
| Innodb_pages_written | 21931 |
.....
.....
| Slave_running | OFF |
| Slow_launch_threads | 0 |
| Slow_queries | 0 |
| Sort_merge_passes | 0 |
| Sort_range | 0 |
| Sort_rows | 0 |
| Sort_scan | 0 |
| Table_locks_immediate | 4065218 |
| Table_locks_waited | 196 |
| Tc_log_max_pages_used | 0 |
| Tc_log_page_size | 0 |
| Tc_log_page_waits | 0 |
| Threads_cached | 51 |
| Threads_connected | 1 |
| Threads_created | 52 |
| Threads_running | 1 |
| Uptime | 334856 |
+-----------------------------------+------------+
225 rows in set (0.00 sec)

SHOW STATUS; command gives plenty of useful info, however it is not showing the exact list of queries currently processed by the SQL server. Therefore sometimes it is exactly a stucked (slow queries) execution, you need to debug in order to fix a lagging SQL. One way to track this slow queries is via enabling mysql slow-query.log. Anyways enabling the slow-query requires a MySQL server restart and some critical productive database servers are not so easy to restart and the SQL slow queries have to be tracked "on the fly" so to say.
Therefore, to check the exact (slow) queries processed by the SQL server (without restarting it), do
 

mysql> SHOW processlist;
+——+——+—————+——+———+——+————–+——————————————————————————————————+
| Id | User | Host | db | Command | Time | State | Info |
+——+——+—————+——+———+——+————–+——————————————————————————————————+
| 609 | root | localhost | blog | Sleep | 5 | | NULL |
| 1258 | root | localhost | NULL | Sleep | 85 | | NULL |
| 1308 | root | localhost | NULL | Query | 0 | NULL | show processlist |
| 1310 | blog | pcfreak:64033 | blog | Query | 0 | Sending data | SELECT comment_author, comment_author_url, comment_content, comment_post_ID, comment_ID, comment_aut |
+——+——+—————+——+———+——+————–+——————————————————————————————————+
4 rows in set (0.00 sec)
mysql>

SHOW processlist gives a good view on what is happening inside the SQL.

To get more complete information on SQL query threads use the full extra option:

mysql> SHOW full processlist;

This gives pretty full info on running threads, but unfortunately it is annoying to re-run the command again and again – constantly to press UP Arrow + Enter keys.

Hence it is useful to get the same command output, refresh periodically every few seconds. This is possible by running it through the watch command:

debian:~# watch "'show processlist' | mysql -u root -p'secret_password'"

watch will run SHOW processlist every 2 secs (this is default watch refresh time, for other timing use watch -n 1, watch -n 10 etc. etc.

The produced output will be similar to:

Every 2.0s: echo 'show processlist' | mysql -u root -p'secret_password' Thu May 10 17:24:19 2012

Id User Host db Command Time State Info
609 root localhost blog Sleep 3 NULL1258 root localhost NULL Sleep 649 NULL1542 blog pcfreak:64981 blog Query 0 Copying to tmp table \
SELECT p.ID, p.post_title, p.post_content,p.post_excerpt, p.pos
t_date, p.comment_count, count(t_r.o
1543 root localhost NULL Query 0 NULL show processlist

Though this "hack" is one of the possible ways to get some interactivity on what is happening inside SQL server databases and tables table. for administering hundred or thousand SQL servers running dozens of queries per second – monitor their behaviour few times aday using mytop or mtop is times easier.

Though, the names of the two tools are quite similar and I used to think both tools are one and the same, actually they're not but both are suitable for monitoring sql database execution in real time.

As a sys admin, I've used mytop and mtop, on almost each Linux server with MySQL server installed.
Both tools has helped me many times in debugging oddities with sql servers. Therefore my personal view is mytop and mtop should be along with the Linux sysadmin most useful command tools outfit, still I'm sure many administrators still haven't heard about this nice goodies.

1. Installing mytop on Debian, Ubuntu and other deb based GNU / Linux-es

mytop is available for easy install on Debian and across all debian / ubuntu and deb derivative distributions via apt.

Here is info obtained with apt-cache show

debian:~# apt-cache show mytop|grep -i description -A 3
Description: top like query monitor for MySQL
Mytop is a console-based tool for monitoring queries and the performance
of MySQL. It supports version 3.22.x, 3.23.x, 4.x and 5.x servers.
It's written in Perl and support connections using TCP/IP and UNIX sockets.

Installing the tool is done with the trivial:

debian:~# apt-get --yes install mytop
....

mtop used to be available for apt-get-ting in Debian Lenny and prior Debian releases but in Squeeze onwards, only mytop is included (probably due to some licensing incompitabilities with mtop??).

For those curious on how mtop / mytop works – both are perl scripts written to periodically connects to the SQL server and run commands similar to SHOW FULL PROCESSLIST;. Then, the output is parsed and displayed to the user.

Here how mytop running, looks like:

MyTOP showing queries running on Ubuntu 8.04 Linux - Debugging interactively top like MySQL

2. Installing mytop on RHEL and CentOS

By default in RHEL and CentOS and probably other RedHat based Linux-es, there is neither mtop nor mytop available in package repositories. Hence installing the tools on those is only available from 3rd parties. As of time of writting an rpm builds for RHEL and CentOS, as well as (universal rpm distros) src.rpm package is available on http://pkgs.repoforge.org/mytop/. For the sake of preservation – if in future those RPMs disappear, I made a mirror of mytop rpm's here

Mytop rpm builds depend on a package perl(Term::ReadKey), my attempt to install it on CentOS 5.6, returned following err:

[root@cenots ~]# rpm -ivh mytop-1.4-2.el5.rf.noarch.rpm
warning: mytop-1.4-2.el5.rf.noarch.rpm: Header V3 DSA signature: NOKEY, key ID 6b8d79e6
error: Failed dependencies:
perl(Term::ReadKey) is needed by mytop-1.4-2.el5.rf.noarch

The perl(Term::ReadKey package is not available in CentOS 5.6 and (probably other centos releases default repositories so I had to google perl(Term::ReadKey) I found it on http://rpm.pbone.net/ package repository, the exact url to the rpm dependency as of time of writting this post is:

ftp://ftp.pbone.net/mirror/yum.trixbox.org/centos/5/old/perl-Term-ReadKey-2.30-2.rf.i386.rpm

Quickest, way to install it is:

[root@centos ~]# rpm -ivh ftp://ftp.pbone.net/mirror/yum.trixbox.org/centos/5/old/perl-Term-ReadKey-2.30-2.rf.i386.rpmRetrieving ftp://ftp.pbone.net/mirror/yum.trixbox.org/centos/5/old/perl-Term-ReadKey-2.30-2.rf.i386.rpmPreparing... ########################################### [100%]
1:perl-Term-ReadKey ########################################### [100%]

This time mytop, install went fine:

[root@centos ~]# rpm -ivh mytop-1.4-2.el5.rf.noarch.rpm
warning: mytop-1.4-2.el5.rf.noarch.rpm: Header V3 DSA signature: NOKEY, key ID 6b8d79e6
Preparing... ########################################### [100%]
1:mytop ########################################### [100%]

To use it further, it is the usual syntax:

mytop -u username -p 'secret_password' -d database

CentOS Linux MyTOP MySQL query benchmark screenshot - vpopmail query

3. Installing mytop and mtop on FreeBSD and other BSDs

To debug the running SQL queries in a MySQL server running on FreeBSD, one could use both mytop and mtop – both are installable via ports:

a) To install mtop exec:

freebsd# cd /usr/ports/sysutils/mtop
freebsd# make install clean
....

b) To install mytop exec:

freebsd# cd /usr/ports/databases/mytop
freebsd# make install clean
....

I personally prefer to use mtop on FreeBSD, because once run it runs prompts the user to interactively type in the user/pass

freebsd# mtop

Then mtop prompts the user with "interactive" dialog screen to type in user and pass:

Mtop interactive type in username and password screenshot on FreeBSD 7.2

It is pretty annoying, same mtop like syntax don't show user/pass prompt:

freebsd# mytop
Cannot connect to MySQL server. Please check the:

* database you specified "test" (default is "test")
* username you specified "root" (default is "root")
* password you specified "" (default is "")
* hostname you specified "localhost" (default is "localhost")
* port you specified "3306" (default is 3306)
* socket you specified "" (default is "")
The options my be specified on the command-line or in a ~/.mytop
config file. See the manual (perldoc mytop) for details.
Here's the exact error from DBI. It might help you debug:
Unknown database 'test'

The correct syntax to run mytop instead is:

freebsd# mytop -u root -p 'secret_password' -d 'blog'

Or the longer more descriptive:

freebsd# mytop --user root --pass 'secret_password' --database 'blog'

By the way if you take a look at mytop's manual you will notice a tiny error in documentation, where the three options –user, –pass and –database are wrongly said to be used as -user, -pass, -database:

freebsd# mytop -user root -pass 'secret_password' -database 'blog'
Cannot connect to MySQL server. Please check the:

* database you specified "atabase" (default is "test")
* username you specified "ser" (default is "root")
* password you specified "ass" (default is "")
* hostname you specified "localhost" (default is "localhost")
* port you specified "3306" (default is 3306)
* socket you specified "" (default is "")a
...
Access denied for user 'ser'@'localhost' (using password: YES)

Actually it is interesting mytop, precededed historically mtop.
mtop was later written (probably based on mytop), to run on FreeBSD OS by a famous MySQL (IT) spec — Jeremy Zawodny .
Anyone who has to do frequent MySQL administration tasks, should already heard Zawodny's name.
For those who haven't, Jeremy used to be a head database administrators and developer in Yahoo! Inc. some few years ago.
His website contains plenty of interesting thoughts and writtings on MySQL server and database management
 

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Fix Null error in WordPress comment reply with wordpress-threaded-comments plugin enabled

Friday, April 6th, 2012

I'm running WordPress for already 3 years or so now. Since some very long time. The first wordpress install, I can hardly remember but it something like wordpress 2.5 or wordpress 2.4

Since quite a long time my wordpress blog is powered by a number of plugins, which I regularly update, whenever new plugins pops up …
I haven't noticed most of the time problems during major WordPress platform updates or the update of the installed extensions. However, today while I tried to reply back to one of my blog comments, I've been shocked that, I couldn't.
Pointing at the the Comment Reply box and typing inside was impossible and a null message was stayed filled in the form:

To catch what was causing this weird misbehaving with the reply comments functionality, I grepped through my /var/www/blog/wp-content/plugins/* for the movecfm(null,0,1,null):

# cd /var/www/blog/wp-content/plugins
# grep -rli 'movecfm(null,0,1,null)' */*.php
wordpress-thread-comment/wp-thread-comment.php

I've taken the string movecfm(null,0,1,null) from the browser page source in in my Firefox by pressing – Ctrl+U).

Once I knew of the problem, I first tried commenting the occurances of the null fields in wp-thread-comment.php, but as there, were other troubles in commenting this and I was lazy to read the whole code, checked online if some other fellows experienced the same shitty null void javascript error and already someone pointed at a solution. In the few minutes search I was unable to find anyone who reported for this bug, but what I found is some user threads on wordpress.org mentioning since WordPress 2.7+ the wordpress-threaded-comments is obsolete and the functionality provided by the plugin is already provided by default in newer WPinstalls.

Hence in order to enable the threaded comments WordPress (embedded) reply functionality from within the wp-admin panel used:

Settings -> Discussions -> Enable Threaded (nested) comments (Tick)

Enable Nested Comments WordPress default wp comments enable reply functionality screenshot

You see there is also an option to define how many nested comments subcomments, can be placed per comment, the default was 5, but I thought 5 is a bit low so increased it to 10 comments reply possible per comment.

Finally, to prevent the default threaded comments to interfere with the WordPress Threaded Comments plugin, disabled the plugin through menus:

Plugins -> Active -> WordPress Thread Comments (Deactivate)

This solved the weird javascript null "bug" caused by wordpress-threaded-comments once and for all.
Hopefully onwards, my blog readers will not have issues with threaded Reply Comments.

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