HMRC Companies House Return Service PDF Filing on Ubuntu (64 bit)

Ubuntu includes a pretty good, basic PDF reader called “Document Viewer / evince”. The Return Service from Companies House uses a PDF document which needs the support offered by Adobe’s Reader. Installing Adobe Reader on the latest (14.04 LTS at the time of writing) 64-bit Ubuntu is not quite as simple as pointing and clicking.

Here are the steps I needed:

Get and install adobe reader by following the instructions from which follow the heading “For Ubuntu 14.04 (and 13.10), 32 or 64-bit”

I’m guessing that installs a 32-bit version of Adobe Reader which will start up when run from the command line but will complain about some missing modules which can be installed by

sudo apt-get install libcanberra-gtk-module:i386 libidn11:i386

and a missing theme fixed also by installing

sudo apt-get install gtk2-engines-murrine

One more complaint fixed by installing

sudo apt-get install unity-gtk2-module:i386

… left a complaint about “overlay-scrollbars” as the only outstanding error message at the command line. It’s not obvious what installing these extra modules improved in the PDF document.

The Companies House Return Service PDF opens up in evince (the default PDF viewer) with a message that says the PDF document won’t work in all viewers and to ‘Please Wait’. The wait never ends and it must be assumed that evince doesn’t support all the features the Companies House PDF requires. Opening the same file in Adobe Reader shows (for me) a blank screen for 20 seconds or so, before the introduction page appears. Navigation through the Return is by ‘Back’ and ‘Next’ buttons at the foot of each page.

One further problem is that HMRC appear to be using a self-signed certificate which you have to explicitly ‘trust’ in Adobe Reader. The instructions for this are contained in a PDF. Direct links to the PDF are all over the Web, but the person who would follow instructions to accept a self-signed certificate from a directly-linked PDF document does not deserve security.

Here’s my best attempt at a link to the document that explains how to trust the self-signed Companies House security certificate. Satisfy yourself that you’re looking at the Companies House website before downloading and following those instructions! The instructions are in the document linked as “a guide on changing settings in Adobe Reader”.

After trusting Edward Tucker’s certificate, you should be ready to start filing. Good luck!

Wouldn’t this be so much easier if they’d just made a web-based Return Filing Service?

LWJGL: No Keyboard events in Ubuntu / Linux

Running the jbullet demo just now, I noticed mouse events were handled but none of the keyboard events were handled. Stepping through the code it seemed no events were captured by LWJGL’s Keyboard class. Spotted this “Keyboard does not respond on Linux” discussion on LWJGL’s forum which has the answer (ibus isn’t handled correctly) but doesn’t provide a copy-paste solution for “do you haz teh codez” visitors (as I was just now) who just want to overcome the immediate hurdle of the non-functioning LWJGL Keyboard.

This works for me:

XMODIFIERS="@im=none"; java -Djava.library.path=../lib/lwjgl/linux/ -jar jbullet.jar

Measuring tube homework worksheet

Similar to the clock face worksheet, here’s a simple generator for a measuring tube homework worksheet. Every time you click on the link below, you will download a new randomly-generated measuring tube worksheet with 6 questions on it. The measuring tubes are drawn with vector graphics to make sure they look good when printed.

Download a PDF measuring tubes worksheet ready to print.

Clock face worksheet

With a little extra effort the clock face generator can produce a worksheet with several different clock faces on a page. The page is produced with Freemarker / LaTeX. Producing vector graphics for inclusion in the LaTeX document instead of bitmaps is done with FreeHEP.

Just in case you missed it, this link will download a PDF document for you with different times every time!


Tell the time with online clock face test

Yet another homework-inspired addition to the API – a clock face image generator. My son brought home a worksheet from school with badly-drawn clock faces on it. On some clock faces the minute hand was pointing to the “6″ (half-past) while the hour hand pointed directly at the 3, when it should have pointed either half way between 2-3 or half way between 3-4.

The clock-face image URL creates a random clock face if no arguments are present. Query arguments are ‘time’ to specify time in milliseconds since midnight. A ‘resolution’ argument controls the resolution of randomly-generated times and also to hide the seconds hand for anything greater than second. Values for ‘resolution’ are one of [second, minute, fives, quarter, half, hour]. The ‘width’ argument is a 3-digit size in pixels of the generated image.

A .json API URL returns some data useful for embedding the clock face as an interactive test:

What is the time?