Firefox: An unknown error occurred while printing

Update 2009-03-30: Here is a more reliable (but slightly more severe) way to work around this problem.

Have you ever tried to print something from Firefox and gotten an error message telling you that an unknown error occurred while printing? I have, and I know at least a few other people have had this problem. Apparently, this is an old bug, and the-edmeister has the fix:

type about:config in the URL bar and hit Enter
Preference name = print.print_printer
Right-Click that preference and select Reset, then restart Firefox.
See if Firefox is printing any better.

I usually can print one document after that, and I have to do it again to print another document. This solution is far from perfect, but it's good enough for now.


Pocket Word: Error opening file

I keep notes in a Word document, sometimes on my PC and sometimes on my Pocket PC. I use OpenOffice.org 2.0 Writer as my editor, and ActiveSync 4.2.0 (Build 4876) to synchronize the file between the PC and the Pocket PC.

Recently, the Pocket PC had trouble opening the document. When I tapped the file name to open it in Pocket Word, an error window appeared, and Pocket Word closed the document before I could use it. The error window read:

Pocket Word        ok
Error opening file

It turned out there were two problems with my Word document. First, I had typed an email address into it. OpenOffice automatically turned it into a hyperlink with a mailto: URL. Second, I had pasted some hyperlinks from Firefox into the document. OpenOffice did the right thing, formatting them the expected way. Pocket Word was barfing on these hyperlinks. I removed them from the document, re-synced, and Pocket Word was happy again.


Java 6

Sun was nice enough to send me email announcing the release of Java SE 6 on Tuesday. Java 6 is not as exciting as Java 5, but there are a few things to get excited about right off the bat:

  • Integrated web services: JAX-WS is a new API for XML-based web services. JAXB 2.0 is included.

  • Scripting language support, with JavaScript support built-in

  • Enhanced management and serviceability to make profiling and memory leak debugging easier

  • JDBC 4.0 (JSR 221)

If you don't want to spend 27 minutes watching the WebEx Java 6 announcement, here's a summary:

  • Java 6 is free (libre, not just gratis); it is not just open source with a restrictive license. The new license is GPLv2, with a classpath exception that allows you to build commercial closed-source applications. The tools you need to build and run Java 6 applications (javac, hotspot vm, javahelp) are now completely compatible with Linux and other open source projects

  • Java 6 is defined in JSR 270.

  • The Hotspot JVM and core library include performance improvements that make them run significantly faster. One of the improvements involves GC scaling and parallelism.

  • You can now use the Java Monitoring and Management Console to attach to a JVM that is already running. (Does this mean we don't need tools like JProbe and Your Kit Java Profiler?)

  • There are improvements to Swing that improve an application's native look and feel.

  • Building and deploying XML-based web services is a lot easier. All you have to do in your code is add the right annotation, and your class can be made available as a web service or use a web service. They also included JAXB 2.0, my favorite way to convert between XML documents and Java objects. SOAP 1.2 support adds .NET compatibility

  • There are additional rich client development improvement to make a Java desktop application behave like a native app, with easy access to the platform's native security services and default helper applications.

  • JDBC4 adds XML as a SQL data type.

  • JavaDB is included. Based on Apache Derby, it is fee to use and deploy.

  • There is now support for scripting and dynamic languages. Java 6 includes JavaScript support and ships with the Mozilla Rhino JavaScript engine. There is a new framework to integration with other scripting languages and to dynamically generate code.

  • Compatibility across platforms and with previous releases continues to be excellent.

  • One early adopter observes 25%-30% performance improvements.

Based solely on the promise of better performance, it's time to download Java 6 and try it out.


MySQL hints

Here are the three most important things to get you through your MySQL day:

Invoking the mysql client: The basic syntax to invoke the client, login, and connect to a database is:

mysql -u username -p database_name


mysql -u username --password=yourPassword databaseName

For example:

$ mysql -u timmy --password=likesbikes bikes
Reading table information for completion of table and column names
You can turn off this feature to get a quicker startup with -A

Welcome to the MySQL monitor. Commands end with ; or \g.
Your MySQL connection id is 573844 to server version: 5.0.19-standard

Type 'help;' or '\h' for help. Type '\c' to clear the buffer.


Getting the list of tables: If you don't already know the schema, you'll start by using show tables to get the list of tables:

mysql> show tables;
| Tables_in_bikes |
| foo |
| bar |
| baz |
3 rows in set (0.00 sec)

Individual table information: Finally, you'll use describe articles to find out about the names, data types, and other information about the columns in a table:

mysql> describe foo;
| Field | Type | Null | Key | Default | Extra |
| id | bigint(20) | NO | PRI | | auto_increment |
| source_url | varchar(255) | YES | | | |
| title | varchar(255) | YES | | | |
| foo_date | date | YES | | | |
| author | varchar(255) | YES | | | |
| body | text | YES | | | |
| release_date | date | YES | | | |
| summary | text | YES | | | |
8 rows in set (0.00 sec)



Cool Running

I started running after 15 years of almost exclusively cycling.

I like to log my fitness activities. I built a web app that I used to use to log my cycling. Rather than generalize it for running, I now use the Cool Running Log. It does a great job helping me track my weekly mileage and how many miles I am putting on my shoes.

Another excellent Cool Running resource is this table of what to wear at different temperatures. It's like my clothing guide for cyclists, but reminds me that runners don't have to dress as warmly as cyclists.


GAIM and MSN conferencing

GAIM is great. IM conferencing is really useful. But it's difficult to remember how to initiate a conference on MSN in GAIM. From the GAIM FAQ, here's how:

Is there a way to invite more than one person to an MSN chat?

Yes. Right click a buddy on your list and choose "Initiate Chat". In the conversation window that appears, choose "Invite" from the "Conversation" menu to invite another user. When the conversation framework gets another rewrite, it is possible that this will be simplified.


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