October 2010

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Another fear-based Facebook meme hit today, showing up in several of my friend’s facebook status messages. There seem to be some variations, but they generally go something like:

EVERYONES PHONE NUMBER IS NOW ON FACEBOOK!! NO JOKE… Go to the top right of your screen, click Account then Edit Friends. Go to the left side of your screen and click Phonebook. Everyone’s phone numbers are now being published. Please repost to let your friends know this is happening so they can remove their numbers ……by changing their privacy settings. (Privacy Settings-Phone-Customize-Only me)

Good grief. I mean, seriously. Get over it, already; there’s only one sure-fire way to keep your personal information off of Facebook, and that is NOT PUTTING IT ON FACEBOOK. Did you read the fine print when you signed up for your “free” Facebook account? The entire point of Facebook is enticing people to share their private information for corporate gain. Facebook didn’t just suddenly start publishing all these otherwise private numbers; they just added a button that aggregates published public data that was already there, entered and shared by other users just like you.

Now listen: I like Facebook. It allows me to keep in touch with my far-flung friends around the world. Still, like everything else “free” on the internet, you have to be realistic and  govern yourself. Facebook doesn’t make it super-easy to tighten your privacy settings, but neither does it make it impossible. I’ve tightened my own sharing settings down to “Friends Only” for everything. If I did set anything to “Only Me”, wouldn’t that be defeating the entire point of having an account? Yes, my own phone number is on Facebook; so my friends can see it and call me.

Furthermore, it seems to me that the people most alarmed by these “new threats” to their “privacy” are almost always the same people who so often most publicly share nearly every aspect of their public and private selves on Facebook. This does make sense, I suppose; the people with the fullest profile pages have the most to be concerned about. Again I ask: Did you actually read the fine print?

Here’s an idea: I’m going to change my status to reflect my own privacy concerns (such as they are, ie., not much). How about something like:

EVERYONES PUBLIC PROFILE IS NOW ON FACEBOOK!! NO JOKE… Go to the search bar at the top of the screen and type in your own name, or the name of anyone else you know on Facebook. Everyone’s public profiles are now being published. Please repost this to let your friends know what is happening so they can remove their profiles…..by waking up, people! Seriously? Good grief. Get over it: Read the fine print.

I can just see it… the start of another fine Facebook meme.

I’m posting this in the hope that it will somehow greatly simplify somebody’s day. I did this the hard way, over and over, until I made it work for me; hopefully this all goes much easier for you!
The issue at hand is making the Brother QL-570 thermal label printer work as advertised on a system running Ubuntu Linux. This guide is written with the complete newbie in mind; skip over any bits that seem too obvious. The driver installation instructions provided on the Brother website can be daunting to a beginner, and contain a few subtle errors that may trip you up. I performed these steps in Ubuntu 10.04, but they should work in any version newer than 8.04. Ubuntu made a fine go of installing the required drivers all on its own, but I finally had to go through it the long way to get things working well.

First off, it’s a great help to have the nautilus-terminal application installed. Basically, it adds a command-line terminal window to the standard Nautilus file browser. This lets you navigate folders and do common tasks with the simple GUI interface, then seamlessly switch to the command line interface (already in the proper directory!) with a point and click. To install nautilus-terminal, open a standard terminal and enter the following lines, being sure to enter your administrative password when prompted:

  • sudo add-apt-repository ppa:flozz/flozz
  • sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install nautilus-terminal

Now restart nautilus by pressing ALT+F2 and entering:

  • nautilus -q

Re-open Nautilus and notice the terminal window at the top.

Now open a browser window and go to the Brother driver download page. For a typical Ubuntu install, you only need to download the .deb format drivers, in particular the LPR driver and the cupswrapper (inch) driver. While you won’t need it quite yet, you might as well grab the template file download while you’re here. Go ahead and download these (you’ll need to click through some licencing screens).

Create a new folder on your desktop, named something obvious like “Brother Drivers”. Open your Downloads folder, then drag the driver files over into the new folder you just created. This will make them simple and easy to open. Now open the new folder in Nautilus (which is the default file browser; just double-click the folder). Notice that the command-line has you already in the correct directory. Click into the terminal, and enter:

  • sudo gedit /var/lib/dpkg/info/ql570cupswrapperinch.list

This will open a text-editor. Copy the following text into the text editor window, then save and exit:


Nothing spectacular should happen here; you’ve just added a file that will prevent an error message from pestering you a few steps later. Now, back at the command line, double-check that you are still in the same directory/folder as the drivers: the two drivers and the tar.gz will be shown in the GUI portion of the window, and the command prompt in the terminal portion of the window should say “~/Desktop/Brother Drivers$”. At the command line, enter the following:

  • sudo aa-complain cupsd
  • sudo mkdir /usr/share/cups/ql570
  • sudo dpkg  -i  –force-all ql570lpr-1.0.0-1.i386.deb
  • sudo dpkg  -i  –force-all ql570cupswrapperinch-1.0.0-1.debian.i386.deb

You may have seen an error message flash past during that step. As long as nothing hangs on you, it is safe to ignore. Now, check that the drivers installed correctly. Close the file browser window, and open a straight terminal window. Enter the following:

  • sudo dpkg  -l  |  grep  Brother

You should get some confirmation of the two drivers. Now open a web browser and go to  http://localhost:631/printers to find the CUPS web-panel. Choose the QL-570 from the list. Under the Administative pull-down menu, select “Set Default Options”. Here, you may need to fiddle with the paper sizes to get best results. The recommended default for me was “62mmx4”, but this ended up printing 3 blank labels after every job. “62mmx100mm” Seems to be working well for me right now… After making any changes, return to the printer page and select “Print Test Page” from the Maintenance pull-down.

Those templates you downloaded earlier? Unzip the qt570l110.tar.gz to find a selection of template printing files for Open Office and others.