5 Ways to Increase Productivity And Make Your Time In Front of Computer Much More Enjoyable

If your job keeps you behind a desk for most of the day, the way mine does, chances are it is giving you a pain in the neck. Shoulder tension and bad posture contribute a lot to the pains of sitting for long periods of time in front of a computer or doing paperwork all day.

Now, having two children keeps me popping up throughout the day, and I’m lucky that I have that enforced movement periodically. Many people are basically trapped behind their desks with little chance to get up and move about which creates fatigued muscles and pain.

As a full-time freelancer and full-time mom, I am often torn between spending time with the kids and sitting at my desk and getting my work done. During the summer months, I confess I am often drawn away from work to play with the kids, and while they’re still young I want to take advantage of that as much as possible. However, when school starts I have no distractions and tend to get involved in my work, forgetting to take breaks and move around. That’s when the pain starts.

Getting Your Move On

One way I’ve found to keep myself active, and avoid the fatigue that comes from tired muscles that never move and are over-stressed from bending over my keyboard is to keep a set of Bowtech SelectTech® dumbbells next to me. I use a small kitchen timer to remind myself to take regular breaks every hour and when it goes off, I push away from the desk, and pick up the dumbbells.

I don’t even have to get up to work out my stiff, tight muscles. I just dial the proper weight level and do several repetitions of arm exercises to loosen up the muscles in my arms, shoulders and neck. I can even do my exercises late at night when I’m trying to get my work in after the kids have gone to bed since the dumbbells are not metal; they don’t make a lot of noise like old-fashioned ones do.

I also try to plan a walk during the middle of the day. When the kids are home, this is a great family activity that helps all of us stay in shape. On the weekends, everyone is included; my husband Dave and even my parents who live next door. Walking is such a great way to loosen up sore muscles, and it is something anyone at any age can do which makes it great for our multi-generational family.

More Great Ways to Loosen Up Stiff Muscles

Along with walking and using the weights at my desk, I have come up with three more ways to help get rid of those stiff muscles that cause neck pain and I want to share them with you:

  • Make “me” time: a short warm bath, or just a little quiet time locked away with a book or to rest my eyes every day is not only great for my stiff muscles, it is rejuvenating and makes me ready for anything my family and life can throw at me.
  • Start a workout regimen: besides my hourly desk weights, I also do a workout several times a week to strengthen my muscles. That way they aren’t as easily fatigued. I found the right one by reading about the ones I was most interested in, and the reviews for P90X® sold me on it.
  • Drink lots of water: I was guilty of not drinking enough water. I was a coffeeholic, and still am, but I make sure I get in at least 8 big glasses of water every day. It helps to lubricate muscles and is just generally great for your body.

All of the above tips for getting rid of that nasty pain in the neck also help you lose weight-added bonus! That’s especially important for those of us that sit behind a desk all day. Those added pounds and the dreaded “secretary spread” that is a result of sitting on your backside all day will be a lot less of a problem with these 5 tips.

Melissa Cameron lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and their two children. Her parents live right next door creating the perfect extended multi-generational family unit. She is a successful freelance writer who spends a lot of time creating helpful ways for people with busy lives to deal with the stress and difficulties they face when working and making time for family and themselves.

8 Linux Commands That Will Save Your Day

Linux is a free and open source kernel that powers a variety of operating systems for servers, desktops, laptops, netbooks, mobile phones, and many embedded devices. 

If you have your own Linux server, you have probably used SSH to access the command line on at least a few occasions when your web-based control panel simply would not suffice. The following are eight commands you can use in Linux that will save you time, energy, and maybe even money.

1. grep – While you could simply describe grep as a search tool, it is really so much more. You can filter long lists, scour documents for the most obscure detail, and make other commands behave differently according to your specifications.

ls -al | grep make

2. ps – When you need to figure out exactly what is going with your server, ps is invaluable. In its most basic functionality, it lists processes (instances of programs currently running). With a few choice flags, you can view process IDs, memory and CPU usage, command names, and even parent and child processes.

ps aux

3. locate – Lose something? There are more intricate ways to search with “find” or “grep”, but locate searches a pre-loaded database of all of your files, which makes it fast for those quick searches for misplaced files. In order to use it, you need to run updatedb to have the latest files indexed.

locate money.html

4. top – Monitoring your system is critical. The ps command gives you every running process, but top only shows the most hungry of the bunch. If your server is running slowly, top may lead you straight to the culprit. It displays CPU usage, memory usage, system load, and much more.


5. kill – Yes, this is a real command and perhaps your most powerful weapon. When a program is out of control or when an application freezes, kill will become your best friend. Using data from ps and top, you can determine which processes are causing trouble and what their PID (process ID is).

kill 23849killall pythonkill -9 23849

6. who – This is a very simple command with a very important purpose. When you are running a dedicated server, you will most likely have other users connecting to it. Even if you do not, it is a good idea to monitor user accounts in case hackers manage to penetrate your security. The simple who command will tell you which users are logged in and what time their sessions began.

7. history – You will probably repeatedly type the above-mentioned commands and many others as you manage your server. Every time you need to run them again, you could always type them, but if the command you typed was a lengthy string, that can get old very quickly. The history command shows you a list of your previous commands. In a Linux terminal, you can press the up arrow to navigate through the list or type “history” to get the full list. Use the “!” key to quickly execute a command associated with a particular history number.


8. cat – This command gives you a quick way to print the contents of a file on your console screen. It is designed for text-based files, and you can use it in combination with more, less, grep, and other commands to determine how the text is displayed. You can also use the “>” to save the output to another file.

cat testfilecat testfile | grep “important sentence”cat testfile | lesscat /proc/cpuinfo > /home/username/mycpuinfo

These Linux commands are common, and most web hosts, such as Manchester managed server company 34SP.com, provide them as part of their standard Linux server installations. The examples provided just scratch the surface of these powerful commands. To unlock their full potential, you should reference the manuals for each. You can read the manuals online or type “man” followed by the command name from your system shell (example: man grep).

Tavis J. Hampton is a librarian and writer with a decade of experience in information technology, web hosting, and Linux system administration. His freelance services include writing, editing, tech training, and information architecture.

Updating Clamav databases – Freshclam

When installing Clamav, one of the difficulties people encounters is to update the virus definitions.

The Clamav antivirus is composed of several virus signature files, the databases of viruses.

They are:
main.cvd, released on 14/11/2010 and the one that has the basis of virus signatures.
daily.cvd, which is updated daily, with the latest virus signatures.
bytecode.cvd, which is a file used to implement complex signatures of viruses, to search several variants of a virus (mutations or polymorphic)
safebrowsing.cvd, which is a signature file that implements connection with Google Safe Browsing, and is updated daily.

One of the files, main.cvd is updated when there’s the release of new versions of clamav, the most recent is version 0.97, released in November 2010.
Other files, however, are updated daily. Therefore, to have a reliable protection, you need to update the databases of clamav as often as possible.
But, in most of the cases, one can not upgrade the databases. One of the error messages: “Database not found” – WARNING: getpatch: Can not download daily.cvd / bytecode.cvd / safebrowsing.cvd.

What Happens?
It happens that the default settings of Freshclam (which is the tool to update the database) does not specify the addresses of the several mirrors of the databases of Clamav. The freshclam.conf comes with default settings, and the information regarding the databases is commented  (#).

What to Do?
As root, look for freshclam.conf file in / etc / freshclam.conf and, with your favorite text editor, add the following line:

DatabaseMirror database.clamav.net

This line may be placed below the mirror databases section of clamav. As it is the fallback database (backup database), should work well in any country in the world.

Another configuration  to be made is to enable the download of bytecode.cvd by inserting the following lines:

# This option Enables downloading of bytecode.cvd, Which includes additional
# Mechanisms detection and improvements to the ClamAV engine.
# Default: enabled

Bytecode yes

You can also download the virus definition files directly from the site of Clamav in http://www.clamav.net/lang/en/, and manually download the CVD files one by one  and then copy them (as root) to / var / lib / clamav, which is the default location of virus definitions.
Once configured, run the freshclam command in a terminal as root.
Should solve the problems of updating Clamav.

How to Reset the Root Password in MySQL

For those who have had the annoyance of losing their root password in MySQL, or  will loose it yet, here’s a tip which can save the day.

Stop or kill the MySQL service

# killall mysqld    or    # service mysqld stop

Start MySQL in safe mode:

# mysqld_safe –skip-grant-tables &

log in using the mysql client:

# mysql

Access the MySQL database

> use mysql;

Setting new MySQL root password:

> update user set password = password (‘type your new password here’) where user = ‘root’ and host = ‘localhost’;

Reload privileges by typing:

> flush privileges;

Exit MySQL:

> quit

Restart MySQL  in normal mode:

# service mysqld stop

And finally, let’s start with the new MySQL root password:

# service mysqld start

And voila, your new root password and access granted to the database again.

Load Balancing using the CUPS Print Queues

If you have more than 2-3 printers on a cups  server, you can easily make the load balancing (pooling) of print jobs using CUPS print queues.

a) First, create a class of printers. Go to the CUPS web interface to make these configurations http://server-ip:631/ or http://localhost:631/  if you are logged into the CUPS server.

b) Select the class tab to create one class.

c) Select printers for this class.

d) Select this class as the default (Default). From now on, the print jobs will be distributed evenly among all the printers in the class, through print queues. The hint is that  CUPS handles all the printers belonging to a class as if they were one, making automatically load balance between them.

Solving the Freeze Problem with APT-GET / Synaptic

Recently I experienced a problem with Synaptic / apt-get, and would like to share with you a simple way to solve this problem.

APT-GET – A Great idea
APT-GET is a very good tool for working with the installation of packages. There are others, more recent, but the robustness, reliability and ease of the apt-get tool  gives it a prominent place in the major distros.

Born in the Debian distro, it has been ported to the RPM packages distros by brazilian now defunct company Conectiva(it merged with Mandrake and formed Mandriva).

The apt-get tool fetches  the repositories for data lists on all packages of the distribution, and builds a database listing the packages, their dependencies, which new packages are in the repository, which are deprecated, and so on.

When you do an apt-get update or press the reload button in Synaptic, lists are downloaded from various repositories, and these lists are used to build a database that lists all packages.

Well, when there is a problem at that stage of the procedure, when the lists are being downloaded  or the database is being built, it can ruin everything. And it happened to me.

At the time of creating the database, there was a corruption of files. Result: Neither apt-get worked nor  Synaptic.

No Panic, the solution is simple
When this happened to me, I was worried because I was not seeing a solution: Synaptic and apt-get (command line) were frozen. Not working anymore.
I thought … Format and reinstall??

Then I started to research a little deeper on the apt-get and Synaptic (or any other graphical front end, Adept, aptitude, etc …).
And the solution is pretty simple. The steps I take here are for distros that use RPM packages, but the analogy can be done for deb based distros as well.

 1. Look for the following directory /var/lib/rpm
2. In that directory will be the files of the database of apt-get/synaptic. The files have the following nomenclature __db.000 and so on. Depending on the size of the repos, there can be several files like this.
 3. Then, delete all the  __db files that exist in that directory. Of course you must be logged in as root. And, be very careful if you do rm-f. The ideal is to use a graphical file manager here, for you to see which files you are to delete and avoid any mistakes.
4. After deleting the __db files , type the following commands: # rpm -v –rebuilddb. This will rebuild the apt-get database.
5. If all goes well you can, from now on, use the command apt-get and its graphical front-ends with no problems. And, without having to reinstall your distro.

These tips are valid for RPM-based distros: Red Hat, Mandriva, CentOS, PCLinuxOS and Fedora. But, with the due adaptations, can be done on distros with deb packages as well.

Fixing Gtalk Connection with Pidgin 2.7.*

The latest version of Pidgin, 2.7.*, is experiencing some difficulty connecting to Gtalk.
The reason for this was a change in the libs used. Prior to version 2.6 .* the SASL (Simple Autentication and Security Layer) libs were not used by Pidgin to connect to Gtalk.
Outcome: Older versions of Pidgin easily connect to Gtalk, while newer versions can not.

How to fix it ???

   1. type in the terminal: sudo apt-get install-y – force-yes cyrus-sasl libsasl2-plug-*
   2. The following libs should be installed: cyrus-sasl, libsasl2, libsasl2-plug-plain (needed to be able to connect to Gtalk network)
   3. Now set up the account:

Accounts > Add or Modify > xmpp or googletalk
User Name: your Gmail username without the @
Domain: gmail.com
Resource: Home
Password: your password

click Advanced Tab:

  • Require SSL/TLS
  • Force old (port 5223) SSL

[  ] Allow plaintext auth over unencrypted streams
Connect port: 443
Connect server: talk.google.com
File transfer proxies: proxy.eu.jabber.org

Click save and you have from now on  google-talk IM.


I have been using Ubuntu and open source software for some time and have discovered some few killer tricks to optimizing an Ubuntu system for speed and efficiency. This list is aimed at Ubuntu newbies and geeks alike.

1) Disable unessential services.
Services like Bluetooth may be running even if you don’t have the hardware installed.Go to Services window from the System>Administration menu. Be careful not to disable services you may rely on.

2)Monitor the CPU usage
Kill processes that are not essential but using up lots of resources. Go to System> Administration> System Monitor.

3)Trim the menu.
Lots of installed applications may make the Menu a bit “fat”. Trim it by right-clicking the Menu and deselecting Applications that you don’t use.

4)Add more work spaces.
If you use lots of applications and have your desktop cluttered, you may consider adding more work spaces to your desktop. Just right-click on the workspace area to see the Preferences window.

5)Move windows to work spaces.
You can press and hold Ctrl+ALT+

cursor left or right key to switch to a new work space.

If you hold down the Shift key, the active window will move to the new work space too.

6)Choose to remember running sessions when shutting down.
You can choose to let your system remember your last working session when you shut down to quickly launch into your working environment next time you power up. Just switch to Sessions Option and select “Automatically Remember.”

7)Add frequently used applications to the panel.
Add applications that you frequently use to the top panel for easy access.Just click the Menu and highlight which category you want then just drag the application you want to the panel.

8)Try XFCE
Gnome is nice and powerful but a bit cumbersome compared to XFCE, the default Xubuntu desktop. Search for the “Xubuntu-desktop” meta package in Synaptic.

Try these tips to optimize your sweet Ubuntu system and stay tuned for more. Please feel free to share your comment.