How Do I Create a PDF?

What is a PDF?

PDF is short for Portable Document Format. In short, PDF is universal; A document that displays the same on any device that supports reading PDFs and pretty much every device from your smart phone (even some dumb phones) to your tablet and computer can display PDF files.

Content creators use PDF files to insure all text and images get displayed the same everywhere.

How Do I Create a PDF?

You can create PDF files  easily in office suites like Microsoft Office and Open Office. If you are using a Mac, OS X has a “Print to PDF” function built-in. You can using that in any application by opening the Print Dialog (command P for short)

Google’s Chrome browser has a built-in PDF “printer”. Create a PDF file of any website by simply selecting Print from the wrench menu and select “Print to PDF” as your destination printer.

There is also a way to generate a PDF from any program that can print. You do this by installing a virtual printer. This basically tricks the program into printing to a file instead of a real printer. I’ve always used Primo PDF for this functionality.

3 Easy Steps to Creating a PDF from Any Program:

  1. Download and install Primo PDF
  2. Create a PDF from any program simply by opening the print dialog (Ctrl P) and selecting Primo PDF as the printer.
  3. Save the file on your hard drive.

Your done! Have a better way? Sound off in the comments.

Mac OS X

How To Show Hidden Files in OS X

In following the tutorials here at Almost Geek, you will often need to look at your systems hidden files for copy or move things around. OS X makes showing hidden files a chore, in fact I had to search for how to do it. I found this article on how to do it and that’s how I do it on my system.

Copy this command into Terminal* (new window click to find out where Terminal is):

defaults write AppleShowAllFiles TRUE

Then restart finder by typing this command into terminal:

killall Finder

When your done working with your hidden files and folders simply reverse the command to hide hidden files again.

defaults write AppleShowAllFiles FALSE

Once again restart Finder with the following command:

killall Finder

Here is what your home directory normally looks like:

Mac OS X Home Folder
Mac OS X Home Folder

Your home folder with hidden files shown:

OS X's Home Folder with Hidden Files Shown
OS X's Home Folder with Hidden Files Shown

How to Show Hidden Files In Ubuntu

Ubuntu Logo
Ubuntu Logo

The default install of Ubuntu includes the Gnome desktop environment and the Nautilus file manager, this is the Linux equivalent to Windows Explorer or Mac OS X’s Finder. In Ubuntu and Linux in general most programs hold their settings and configuration data under a folder prefixed with a . (period) in your home folder. By default most file managers hide these folders to make using the system and finding/accessing your files easier. For this reason it’s best just show hidden files briefly and not all the time.

To show hidden folders in Ubuntu simple open a Nautilus window (your home folder) and press Ctrl H. This will show all hidden folders in and files in this window where ever you navigate to. If you would ike to rehide them simply press Ctrl H again.

Here are screen shots of Ubuntu with hidden files both shown and hidden:

Standard Ubuntu Home Folder
Standard Ubuntu Home Folder
Ubuntu Home Folder with Hidden Files
Ubuntu Home Folder with Hidden Files
Applications Ubuntu

First Installs for Ubuntu

With the release of Ubuntu 9.10 aka Karmic Koala last week it was time for me to do a fresh install of Ubuntu on my main machine which dual boots Vista and Ubuntu. For the most part I upgrade my Ubuntu install around beta 1 then roll along with the updates until final release, a few days after final release I wipe the partition and install with a fresh copy just in case any bugs are hanging around.

The default Ubuntu install has some great software out of the box but we need some multimedia stuff like the ability to play MP3s (which may or may not be legal in your country, IANAL) and flash player. From there I install a bunch of other programs I enjoy playing with. Here’s the first command I run for installs:

sudo wget$(lsb_release -cs).list \
–output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list &&
sudo apt-get -q update &&
sudo apt-get –yes -q –allow-unauthenticated install medibuntu-keyring &&
sudo apt-get -q update &&
sudo aptitude install ubuntu-restricted-extras skype googleearth kompozer keepassx pidgin pidgin-plugin-pack inkscape xaralx epiphany midori audacity djplay hydrogen hydrogen-drumkits terminator filezilla gftp abiword cowsay thunderbird banshee virtualbox-ose gnome-do gnome-do-plugins nautilus-image-converter cheese

This adds the Medibuntu repository, which distributes among other things multimedia codecs and Google Earth then updates the software sources and adds it’s keyring (for authentication of packages) then yet again updates the software sources and finally starts installing my programs with confirmation.

Let me run through the packages and what they do:

Ubuntu-restricted-extras: Installs flash, MP3, WMA, and MS Font support among other things.

Skype: The world famous video messaging client works on Linux.

Google-earth: Who doesn’t love Google Earth?

Kompozer: Fork of NVU a WYSIWYG HTML editor, good for simple webpages.

Keepassx: A great cross platform password database app to save all your passwords. I use this on Windows, Linux, and OS X.

Pidgin & pidgin-plugin-pack: Multi-protocol IM client.  In Karmic Empathy is the default IM client however I’m still happy with Pidgin. I use Pidgin on Windows & Linux

Inkscape & Xaralx: Cool graphics programs, which I haven’t dived into as much as I’d like to as they appear to have a steep learning curve.

Ephphany & Midori: Internet browsers as a webmaster you can never have to many browsers.

Audacity, Hydrogen, and DJ Play: These are all programs. Audacity is a track editor, Hydrogen is a beat maker, and DJ play lets you play DJ between two tracks. I haven’t played around with the latter two a whole lot but like to have them installed for when the mood strikes.

Terminator: Embeds multiple terminals in one window. Mainly useful for when I’m ssh’ed into more than 1 server

Filezilla & GFTP: Filezilla is my preferred cross platform FTP client. GFTP is my backup FTP client in addition to Nautilus’s capabilities.

Abiword: Lightweight cross platform word processor I use this on all 3 platforms for hammering out blog posts and replies to longer private messages on forums. I must admit I lauch Abiword before Open Office in most cases.

Cowsay: Neat little app that puts whatever your place after the command in a comic strip bulb over an ASCII cow. It’s not useful for anything just good a for a quick laugh. 😀 Check out Cowsay:

Cowsay screenshot

Thunderbird: Firefox’s sister a cross platform email client. I mostly use it just to monitor a couple of IMAP accounts

Banshee: A music manager.

Virtualbox-ose: A free virtual machine app, I use this to run Windows XP in a virtual machine both on Ubuntu & Vista

Gnome-do & Gnome-do-plugins: Gnome do is a great launcher app much like Vista’s start menu or spotlight on OS X. It can do a lot more but I don’t use for much more than the basic functionality

Nautilus-image-converter: Resize images by right clicking.

Cheese: Webcam application much like Photo Booth on OS X.

From there I head  on over to to grab Songbird and Ubuntu Tweak the go off and download Opera & Dropbox from their respective sites. Assuming Firefox is saving your downloads to ~/Downloads, I install them all with two commands.

cd Downloads/

sudo dpkg -i *.deb (this tells the Ubuntu to unpack all .deb files)


sudo apt-get install -f (to fix dependency issues with Ubuntu Tweak)

Lets run through the apps again: 😉

Songbird: Is a cross platform music manager based on Mozilla. I use it mostly for streaming Shoutcast but it has some great library features built in and is expandable with extensions just like Firefox

Ubuntu Tweak: Basically helps you install packages and if enabled set up some of Compiz’s features in additon to setting default user paths and desktop icons. It’s a nice little app, sort of the modern day Automatic

Opera: Just another web browser

Dropbox: This an awesome cross platform sync tool. I’ve got a premium account and use it to sync and files across all my computers that aren’t confidential. I really cannot say enough good about Dropbox, give it a try.

There you have it with my internet connection I normally get all this installed and have a system ready to go within less than an hour. What do you install first with Ubuntu? Leave any questions in the comments please.

Applications Opinion

Open Source Software

Here at AG you will often see me recommend open source and/or free software. There are four main reasons for this:

  • Most are cross platform. That means you can use the same programs and files on Windows, Linux, and OS X without running into problems. Additionally, you can transfer the programs preferences and stuff between platforms with a little prodding around. Often times configuration files are in easy to read XML files.
  • Data lock in isn’t an issue because the file formats are open and can easily be opened with another application or a converter can be built.
  • Price is a big factor for me at least. I operate on a shoe string budget and if I can save money on software I will. I don’t believe in pirating software so if I cannot find a free alternative I’ll gladly go without.
  • Do one thing and do it well. With few exceptions the common thread in open source software is that each application does ONE thing and does it well. Often times on the commercial side you see applications that do many things like a Swiss army knife but rarely do they do all the things they claim to do well.

There are a few other reasons why but that covers most of it. Reading around the internet the common arguments against open source software seems to be it’s insecure because you can view the source. Quite the opposite since it’s source visible anyone can audit the code and secure it. It’s free so it must be worthless, I cannot rebut that because I don’t understand the logic there.

My biggest issue with open source programs is many projects fall by the wayside some of the less popular programs I’ve used have not seen updates in a couple of years. I suppose developers loose interest or move on to bigger and better things which quite frankly sucks however commercial software also goes by the wayside too. Developers either discontinue support for older versions or stop making the application all together. I don’t have an statistics but I’ve venture to say the number of abandoned applications on both sides of the fence are similar.

In conclusion unless I win the lottery, you will see a lot of free software  recommendations here. Even if I win the lottery I’ll probably still be using many free programs because that’s what I’m used to using. 🙂  What software do you use and why?

Almost Geek Stuff


If you have followed technology blogs and forums for more than a couple of days you certainly seen the flame wars that erupt over operating systems (Linux/windows/OS X) or gaming platforms (Xbox/Playstation/Wii) some people do make good points but any of the good gets lost in rabid flaming of anyone with differing opinions.

Your editor here at Almost Geek is of the school of thought that computers are just tools to get work done and perhaps some entertainment out of them. It does not matter if you use Windows, Linux, or OS X to get your job done so long as you get your job done with as little heartache as possible with the tools at hand. I have very little patience for “X is better than Y because I say so.” or the ever present folks who cannot see the any negative attributes of their platform while they point out the other platforms negative points.  Please don’t start any of that flame war carp here. 🙂