Title photo
frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Thu, 23 Mar 2017

Coming over to the dark side

I recently received a too-expensive birthday present: a new laptop.

For the women in my life, seeing all those keys pop off was too much I guess.

The HP Pavilion g6-2210us is still kicking as it nears the 4-year mark. That's a modern record for me. My previous laptop, the Lenovo G555, died just after its second year of service. I still have a second replacement keyboard still on the way from China for the HP Pavilion.

Once I get this new laptop fully set up, at some point I'll pop a new hard drive into the old HP. The current drive has a lot of bad sectors. A lot. Then I'll run it as a full Linux system with no Windows partition.

So what about the new laptop?

It's an HP Envy 15-as133cl 15t with Intel Core i7, 1080p resolution, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB spinning hard drive.

The case is all metal, which is quite an upgrade from my previous all-plastic laptops.

It has Windows 10. The first thing I did was install the Windows Subsystem for Linux so I could have Bash in the terminal and access to thousands of console-based applications from the Ubuntu archive.

Read the rest of this post

Sun, 12 Mar 2017

Read all of Manton.org

Read all of http://manton.org. Deep thoughts on the social and personal web.

Mon, 06 Mar 2017

I install a Netgear AC750 WiFi Range Extender

I install a Netgear AC750 WiFi Range Extender http://stevenrosenberg.net/hugo/post/2017_0304_wifi_range_extender

Wed, 01 Mar 2017

Whiteboard interviews ensure biased hiring in tech, and programmers are calling them out

Whiteboard interviews ensure biased hiring in tech, and programmers are calling them out https://theoutline.com/post/1166/programmers-are-confessing-their-coding-sins-to-protest-a-broken-job-interview-process

Tue, 28 Feb 2017

WordPress WordAds revenue expectations are depressing

I've been going through the excellent WP Tavern blog on WordPress news today, and I stumbled across this post on how much bloggers can expect to earn from the Jetpack-powered WordAds platform.

tl;dr: Not very much. But the numbers are all over the map. One thing WordPress tells you: better content, more money.

Linked from the article above, a blog that makes about a month from WordAds on 2,600 to 16K page views.

WP-CLI is so very, very cool

At the moment, I only have two WordPress sites for which I have shell access, so WP-CLI shouldn't be a big deal for me. But it is.

The whole idea of managing WordPress.org sites in the console (and being able to avoid the WP Dashboard) is such genius, I wonder why nobody thought of it before now.

The possibilities, especially when WP-CLI is combined with traditional shell scripting, are many. From updating the software, installing and managing plugins, this drags WordPress into a realm where sysadmins can really get things done and save a lot of time doing it.

I still have blogs littered all over the place

I wrote into two blogs that I rarely think about:

Gathering up all of my blog entries from everywhere and putting them under one site has always been in the back of my mind. I have taken steps to do this, especially grabbing entries from WordPress sites en masse, but I have yet to write and deploy the scripts that fixes the metadata and image links to really make it happen.

My "old" WordPress blog is pretty deep in terms of content. It was active from 2005 through 2009ish. Combine that with my Daily News-hosted tech blog, active from 2006 through 2011 (with a smattering since then) and my other Daily News-hosted personal blog, active from 2006 to maybe 2009 with a trickle since then, you have a lot of blog posts.

Even though I wrote three WordPress posts today, I'm still a lot more interested in writing for the blogs that use "flat" files like this Ode system or my new, experimental Hugo site.

If and when I do get the ability to take the output from WordPress data dumps and turn it into text and image files that can work in flat-file blogging systems, then I'll have a huge archive of everything, however dubious it may be.

Mon, 27 Feb 2017

I finally replaced my HP Pavilion g6 keyboard

I had a new keyboard, and my "n" key on the old one broke again (the replacement was never as good as the original key), so I decided to pull the laptop apart and install the new keyboard.

While putting it all together, I did get one little screw wedged in a plastic hole (I'll extract that one later and replace it), but an old laptop can get along with many fewer case screws than it ships with. If you've ever had a used or otherwise repaired laptop, you know what I'm talking about.

The keyboard replacement wasn't too hard. I probably took out a lot more screws than needed to make it happen. I could have just removed the back panel, unscrewed the keyboard-retaining screw (that's the wedged-in-plastic one) and popped the keyboard out from behind/below by aggressively pushing on the proper spot with an eraser-tipped pencil.

I tried that, and it wasn't happening. I knew the keyboard was held in "tight" due to the last time I tried to replace it when I had the wrong part.

So I took out a bunch more screws and then tried again. The extra screws probably didn't need to be removed, but at that point I was more confident in the amount of pressure I was putting on that eraser-tipped pencil to push the keyboard out through the top of the laptop's plastic case.

I got the keyboard out and pulled the ribbon cable.

Inserting the new keyboard's ribbon cable wasn't instant. It took me a couple of minutes to figure out how it snapped in. But I got it done, snapped the keyboard itself into the case and closed everything up.

It all works, and now I have a new keyboard on this laptop that will be 4 years old in a couple of months.

This keyboard isn't a "springy" as the other replacement keyboard I bought a few months back that didn't quite fit, but it'll do the job and give this laptop some more useful life.

My last laptop, a low-priced Lenovo G555, only lasted 2 years before it went to sleep and never woke up. This also-cheap HP Pavilion g6-2210us is still running at nearly 4 years old, but not without effort.

It just underscores my contention that you can't really get 5 years of service out of a laptop. If they don't fail mechanically or electronically, they'll be ancient in some other way. I'm no longer saying "don't pay more than $500 for a laptop," because I see real differences between the $500 and $700-900 laptops being offered these days. But I will say that no matter how much you pay, if you're beating the hell out of it like I do, don't expect more than two trouble-free years.

* Pictured above is the new keyboard before I put it in. After removing the hatch at the bottom of the laptop and removing a retaining screw, there is a little hole on which you can push at the keyboard from below with an eraser-tipped pencil and loosen its plastic grip with the case enough to start unsnapping it the rest of the way around for replacement.

Fri, 24 Feb 2017

'Big Bang Theory's' Stuart wears Ubuntu T-shirt

Am I the only person to notice that comic book shop-owning Stuart (Kevin Sussman) on the "The Big Bang Theory" is wearing an Ubuntu T-shirt on the episode airing Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017? (It's Season 10, Episode 17, if that information helps you.)

The T-shirt appearance isn't as overt as Sheldon's mention of the Ubuntu Linux operating system way back in Season 3 (Episode 22, according to one YouTube video title), but it's an unusual return for Ubuntu to the world of "Big Bang."

What does it mean that the show's most loserly character is a Ubuntu fan?

Tue, 21 Feb 2017

Tim Buchwaldt: Rails is f*cking boring! I love it

Tim Buchwaldt: Rails is f*cking boring! I love it. https://medium.com/@timbuchwaldt/rails-is-boring-thats-great-f896e9ab2cb#.djk89skub

Mon, 20 Feb 2017

Fixing Fedora 25 upgrade issue with iptables

Are you having the same problem I've been having with Fedora 25 updates and something having to do with iptables?

I found the answer in the Fedora Forums:

You need to get rid of this old package first, then do the software upgrade:

$ sudo dnf remove system-config-firewall-base

Then do your usual upgrade, either in your favorite GUI (Whatever GNOME is using or yumex-dnf) or dnf in the terminal:

$ sudo dnf upgrade

This is very likely only an issue if you've been upgrading the same system since Fedora 21 (and I have).

.@netlify positions itself as a beast on static-site delivery

.@netlify positions itself as a beast on static-site delivery https://www.netlify.com/features/

Choosing a Hugo theme, Part 1

Choosing a Hugo theme, Part 1 http://stevenrosenberg.net/hugo/post/2017_0219_choosing_a_hugo_theme_part_1/ @golang #Hugo @gohugoio http://gohugo.io

Hugo community: Alternatives to Disqus needed more than ever

Hugo community: Alternatives to Disqus needed more than ever https://discuss.gohugo.io/t/alternative-to-disqus-needed-more-than-ever/5516

Fri, 17 Feb 2017

Aaron Patterson: I am a 'puts' debugger

Aaron Patterson: I am a 'puts' debugger https://tenderlovemaking.com/2016/02/05/i-am-a-puts-debuggerer.html

The @washingtonpost is becoming my go-to. Packed with news and intrigue, costs less than @nytimes

The @washingtonpost is becoming my go-to. Packed with news and intrigue, costs less than @nytimes.

I got 7-Eleven coffee today, it wasn't bad

I got 7-Eleven coffee today, it wasn't bad

Sat, 11 Feb 2017

Is this guitar worth $131,000?

Is this guitar worth $131,000? https://reverb.com/item/4209723-gibson-goldtop-1957-100-original

Sun, 05 Feb 2017

Free Code Camp computer science and web development pathways

Free Code Camp computer science and web development pathways https://forum.freecodecamp.com/t/computer-guide-web-development-with-computer-science-foundations-comprehensive-path/64516 https://forum.freecodecamp.com/t/computer-guide-computer-science-and-web-development-comprehensive-path/64470

How focused do you have to be to become a software developer?

How focused do you have to be to become a software developer? https://firstdevjob.com/stories/taylor-milliman/

Fri, 03 Feb 2017

At jury duty, and boy are my arms tired

It's been years since my last call for jury duty, and I find myself once again in the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles.

Except last time they sprung me by noon. And today I'm still here at 3:30 p.m. I didn't get called for any panels, and I suspect there won't be any more need for jurors today. Yet I am still here.

I took the Metro Orange Line to the Red Line to get here, and I was surprised (though I shouldn't have been) to see the refurbished Pacific Electric Train Depot at the end of the Orange Line open and serving Groundwork Coffee. Love that coffee. I smell a bike ride down the Orange Line in my future.

This was also my first time taking the fancy new underground pathway (you can call it a tunnel) on Lankershim Boulevard from the Orange Line terminus straight into the North Hollywood Red Line Station. That is slick, and I'll thank all the politicos who helped make it happen, including Rep. Brad Sherman, City Councilman Paul Krekorian and anybody else I missed. This is the kind of thing the San Fernando Valley needs, and I'm glad it now has it.

During the long lunch break they give us chickens jurors, I walked around a bit. I haven't cracked the code for this part of downtown (Music Center and Civic Center). Grand Park is nice but smaller than you think it is. Other than all the Music Center and Civic Center buildings, there's nothing here. I passed by the Colburn School and saw a sole classical-music student making her way into the building.

If you're looking for something other than huge buildings, I guess you have to truck it to Little Tokyo in one direction or Chinatown in the other.

Gadget-wise, I didn't bring my laptop, just the tablet and wireless keyboard and mouse. I can't use all three at once because there are few table- or desk-like surfaces here. Just my actual lap and a book I brought that is serving as a small table for the keyboard while I balance the tablet with its built-in magnetic stand on my knees. Weak as shit. Whatever.

I got through a few hundred Disqus comments from my day job, deleted a couple of months' worth of personal e-mail clutter and checked in with the news via Google and Twitter (Trump, Trump travel ban, Uber guy says no to Trump, Snap as in Chat gets ready to IPO, Facebook's Zuck is either clueless or crafty, Trump, Trump), and then got the keyboard out to write a bit.

A few months ago, I did a whole setup on this tablet to use my day job's CMS -- the awful Saxo Mediaware Center via Citrix -- but I soured on it like I've rarely soured before when I realized that putting Citrix in the background, as one does with everything in Android all the time, results in my losing the connect to the app's Citrix-connected server. Call it a nonstarter. I'm slated to say goodbye to Saxo and Citrix in a few months, and it couldn't be too soon.

Meanwhile, Jury Duty Lady, let us go home!!!

Update: 3:40 p.m. It's over. I'm done with jury duty for 2017.

A couple of observations: All buses and trains I was on were crowded, so Metro seems to be doing more than fine ridership-wise. And I don't recall seeing any law enforcement presence at all on either line, whereas in the past the Metro system could be thick with deputies. Might be a byproduct of Metro's wish to either scale back or end its contract with the sheriff's department. Or not ...

Wed, 01 Feb 2017

After all these years and two companies, Java still pushing crapware on Windows users

Just did a Java update on my workplace Windows desktop. From Sun to Oracle and decades in, the Java updater is still pushing crapware, this time an Amazon app.

Fri, 27 Jan 2017

George Orwell's '1984' is the No. 1 seller on Amazon

George Orwell's '1984' is the No. 1 seller on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/1984-Signet-Classics-George-Orwell/dp/0451524934 It's also sold out.

Why you might not be getting 5G data service anytime soon

Why you might not be getting 5G data service anytime soon https://www.wirelessweek.com/article/2017/01/why-carriers-are-secretly-anxious-about-leap-5g

Thu, 26 Jan 2017

Free Meteor.js hosting is back with meteor-now

Free Meteor.js hosting is back with meteor-now https://forums.meteor.com/t/super-simple-and-free-meteor-deployments-using-zeit-now/33214

Photos: Cruising Van Nuys Boulevard in the '70s

Photos: Cruising Van Nuys Boulevard in the '70s http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/25/autos/gallery/tbt-cruising-van-nuys-los-angeles

PulseAudio 10.0 now in Fedora 25

PulseAudio 10.0 now available for Fedora 25 https://fedoramagazine.org/pulseaudio-10-0-fedora-25 (And I can report that it is working)

Mon, 16 Jan 2017

There is an rsync for Windows, and it works

I've been meaning to look into backup solutions for Windows, and while there should eventually be a full Ubuntu Linux shell coming to Windows 10, it's not there yet unless you tweak things that I can't ask other users to do.

So I figured that when the Linux shell comes to Windows, I'll use rsync, the Unix/Linux backup utility I've been using for years.

I just found out that there's already an rsync port to Windows called cwRsync that you can pay for, with a free command-line-only edition available for download.

Since I use rsync on the command line in Linux, why do I need the GUI in Windows? I don't.

So I downloaded it, unzipped it all, put my rsync command into the cwrsync Windows Command Script file, and it worked right out of the box.

So far my tests have been small ones that haven't involved ssh into remote servers (I do backups to USB hard drives anyway), but I am very confident that cwRsync will work well for full Windows user-file backups. Plus it's free and nobody's going to bug you about buying anything ever.

Sun, 15 Jan 2017

Check out the Categories feature in the right column

I originally coded the categories listing as part of the overall Counter addin to Ode early last year, and Ode project leader Rob Reed lent his expertise to the addin, optimizing the code and squashing a few bugs in the process.

I had the categories listing in my right-hand column for a while, but since this Ode site has a LOT of directories/folders in it, that display made the right side of the page super long.

So I wanted the ability for readers to show/hide that listing. I didn't want to use jQuery, but I was very open to using vanilla JavaScript to make it happen.

And so I did. I looked at a lot of tutorials on how to hide the content of HTML divs (i.e. the stuff between a <div> and a </div>), and this one struck me as both simple and effective (meaning it's short and it works).

So now you can click Show / hide categories on the right to see the entire structure of the documents directory and drill down into topics that may be of interest.

Rob did a lot of work on my code, and I looked back at our e-mail thread from March 2016 and realized that I'm not even running the most recent version of the Counter addin on this site. Once I get that up and running, I will work on expanding the documentation on how to use the addin and then make it available to all.

Thanks go to Will Master for the JavaScript and Rob Reed for the Perl.

Once I figured out the concept of an addin (or, at any rate, my addin), I was off to the races. It was basically, "figure out what you want to display, figure out how to pull the information using Perl and the Ode addin structure, then drop tags into my Ode template to display the information."

Of course you can also say, "Here are things I can do in Perl, maybe it will be cool to put that on the web site." I guess I did a little of that, too.

However you slice it up, writing code and seeing results on a live web site is fun. In the Ode world, you can do that with HTML and CSS just like with any web site, and you can also write Perl addins. With this most recent hack (the show/hide), it was a matter of "appropriating" some vanilla JavaScript to add a feature I've been wanting for some time.

Wed, 11 Jan 2017

Preloaded Linux laptops are probably not encrypted

Even though preloaded Linux laptops like Dell's new Precision 3520 are a great thing -- and can save you $100 in this case, I'd probably have to reinstall because a factory image of the operating system most likely doesn't take into account one thing I want in any desktop Linux system: full disk encryption.

From the days when I ran Debian, through today's Fedora 24, I opt for full disk encryption in the installer. It's the right thing to do. If your laptop falls into the "wrong" hands, your data is encrypted and away from the prying eyes of whoever gets your gear.

Windows users can take advantage of disk encryption ... in some cases. While the Home edition of Windows 10 doesn't offer it, the Pro/Enterprise edition does have an option to encrypt your data.

It's nice that the installers of many major Linux distributions, including Debian, Fedora, CentOS/RHEL and Ubuntu (and its many flavors) offer full disk encryption (not just user files, though Ubuntu does offer a user-files encryption option) -- and any user can take advantage of that protection for the low price of $0.

Dell’s new professional-grade laptop is $100 cheaper if you buy it with Ubuntu

Dell’s new professional-grade laptop is $100 cheaper if you buy it with Ubuntu http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2017/01/dell-precision-3520-ubuntu-laptop

Thu, 05 Jan 2017

Ross Mayfield: The coming tech backlash

Ross Mayfield: The coming tech backlash https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/coming-tech-backlash-ross-mayfield

Tue, 03 Jan 2017

Adding memory to a laptop when they don't want you to add memory

When we bought my daughter a cheap Asus laptop a couple of years ago, I knew it had only 2 GB of RAM. But I also knew, or thought anyway, that I would add memory at some point in the near future. After all, upgrading memory is easy, right?

The answer is yes, I suppose, if you have the kind of Windows laptop where you can get the battery out by switching a lever. The hard drive and memory are a plastic door and a couple of screws away.

That's how it is on my 2013-purchased HP Pavilion.

But on my daughter's 2014-made Asus Aspire E15 laptop? Nope (battery access), nope (hard drive access) and nope (memory access).

To do anything -- change the hard drive, memory or even the battery, you have to remove 18 screws from the bottom of the case, crack it open with a case-cracking tool (I use a little plastic spatula from a long-dead and -gone mini food processor), and then start taking off parts.

To get to the RAM module on this Acer, you have to remove the hard drive, pull about a dozen cables of various types and then remove the entire motherboard from the case BECAUSE THE RAM IS ON THE BOTTOM.

If I hadn't pretty much torn down and rebuilt more than a couple of laptops, I wouldn't have even attempted it.

It's frustrating. Laptops traditionally allow the user to swap in new RAM and hard drives. You might want to do an upgrade, or a drive can go bad. And batteries? Mine last about a year and a half, and then I need to replace them.

So now that tablets are ubiquitous and are basically glued together, laptops, especially cheap ones, are not serviceable or upgradable?

If the hard drive dies or I need more memory, it's just tough tacos?

No. I do not accept that.

Read the rest of this post

Sun, 01 Jan 2017

JavaScript books for 2017

"Eloquent JavaScript: A Modern Introduction to Programming" by Marijn Haverbeke

"Learning JavaScript: JavaScript Essentials for Modern Application Development" by Ethan Brown

"Speaking JavaScript: An In-Depth Guide for Programmers" by Dr. Axel Rauschmayer

"Learning JavaScript Data Structures and Algorithms" by Loiane Groner

"You Don't Know JS" (series) by Kyle Simpson

"Programming JavaScript Applications: Robust Web Architecure With Node, HTML5 and Modern JS Libraries" by Eric Elliott

Sat, 31 Dec 2016

The guitar is wood and strings and fingers

I found this picture of my 1976 Gibson ES-175 in my 2016 photo folder. I now remember taking it to show my new guitar-playing friend Dave Green what the guitar's pickguard looks like so he could compare it to his Japanese-made ES-175 copy.

Here you see much of the guitar's body. What pegs it as a 1970s Gibson archtop electric? It has chrome pickup covers and a chrome tailpiece (as opposed to nickel, which tends to age, albeit gracefully) and "witch hat" volume and tone knobs. The nickel covers -- made famous on the rare and pricey PAF (Patent Applied For) humbuckers -- tend to age, albeit gracefully. I believe Gibson introduced the "witch hat" knobs in the late 1960s. Earlier Gibson electrics came with "top hat" or speed knobs.

You can't see it here, but the neck is made of three pieces of maple (as opposed to a single piece of mahogany on earlier models) and includes the thickened "volute" near the nut, meant to strengthen the neck at the point where many Gibson's suffer from catastrophic breaks.

All three of those things contribute to neck strength: maple instead of mahogany, laminated instead of one piece, volute instead of no volute. The volute was unpopular and eventually discontinued. It doesn't bother me. I kind of like the "feel" of knowing I'm at the end of the neck.

The bridge on this guitar, for this year of production (1976) is a bit of an anomaly. It's a compensated rosewood bridge, the kind that Gibson had been using for decades on its archtop guitars, both acoustic and electric. I call it an anomaly because one of the changes Gibson made on the 1976 ES-175 is switching from the traditional wooden bridge to a metal Tune-O-Matic like you would find on a Les Paul or ES-335.

Read the rest of this post

Cut down a #4 coffee filter into a #2

So you have the bigger Melita-style No. 4 paper coffee filters for 8- to 12-cup coffee makers and you need a smaller No. 2 filter for your single-cup pour-over cone filter (or 2-cup coffee maker)?

It happens more often than you think. I'm always running out of No. 2's and always have plenty of No. 4's. Mostly because Costco sells a huge pack of the larger filters.

You can just stuff the bigger paper filter into the smaller pour-over cone filter (I have both plastic and ceramic versions).

Or you can trim about an inch off of the larger filter. Use a scissors and follow the curve. It'll save you a trip to wherever coffee filters are sold and help you plow through your endless supply of No. 4's.

Wed, 28 Dec 2016

Eric Elliott on JavaScript

I am linking to these Eric Elliott articles on JavaScript programming because I don't want to forget about them.

Eric Elliott: 12 Books Every JavaScript Developer Should Read

Eric Elliott: The Software Developer’s Library: A Treasure Trove of Books for People Who Love Code

Eric Elliott: Learn to Code: 13 Tips that Could Save You Years of Effort

Eric Elliott: Native Apps are Doomed

Eric Elliott: Why Native Apps Really are Doomed: Native Apps are Doomed pt 2

Mon, 26 Dec 2016

A Chicago song I actually like

I've never been a big fan of Chicago, the band. I've heard this song before and had no idea it was by them. But I really like "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?"

Lithub.com: The last bookbinder on the Lower East Side

The last bookbinder on the Lower East Side http://lithub.com/the-last-bookbinder-on-the-lower-east-side

Sat, 17 Dec 2016

My holy grail on self-hosted blogs? Local comments

My holy grail on self-hosted blogs like this Ode system? Self-hosted comments. Disqus is far from ideal.

Fri, 16 Dec 2016

Ode is a strong performer

Ode runs Perl via CGI on the server. That doesn't mean it is slow.

Turns out it is very, very fast.

I can render an index page with previews of every post (all 900+) in about 20 seconds.

Wed, 07 Dec 2016

Text processing in node (i.e. in JavaScript)

My last text processing project started in Bash, which which I'm more familiar, and then took a turn toward Ruby before returning to Bash when deadlines got tight.

Now I'm thinking about the next election-results script, which won't be using XML from the state of California but instead the space-delimited ASCII from Los Angeles County. Another developer handled that task in November, but I want to take a crack at it for March 2017.

My goal is a "universal" script that can work on any results file that the county provides without requiring a lot of hacking for individual races in any given election.

In other words, I want to write once, run many times.

I could do it in Bash. Or Ruby. But I might want to try JavaScript and run it with Node on the server (or, if the election is "small" enough, client-side in the browser).

LA County data is not standard. It's not XML or JSON (though the county DOES use JSON in its own results, it does not share that data with the media).

Instead, the county uses what appears to be a home-grown data format that is arcane yet well-documented.

Each line begins with an alphanumeric code, and data fields are placed on those lines at predetermined character lengths and predetermined positions.

So a script would have to create substrings of the data from each line. I'm thinking that I'll use the script to either create XML that I would then convert, or to skip that step and create JSON directly from the county's data.

Doing it in JavaScript would be an opportunity to learn more about the language (just like it would be for Ruby if I used that language; and the jury is most definitely out).

What muddies the water considerably is the fact that my company is also following elections in San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties. I know that San Bernardino doesn't really provide data at all. I generally scrape their web page on Election Night. I don't know what Riverside and Orange do.

So I'm going to focus on LA County for now. Another developer wrote the front-end code for the election-results display, and all I have to do is provide the JSON. I wouldn't be opposed to writing the whole app, but for now a "smaller" bite is a more realistic one.

XML to JSON in Javascript with enkidootech's xml2json

I'm exploring my options for coverting XML to JSON, even though I don't have any new XML coming my way.

I previously used a Ruby library and considered a different JavaScript library to do the conversion.

I just tested a different JavaScript library, enkidootech's xml2json, and that worked very well right out of the box.

Well, almost.

I tried to install it globally via npm, but my resulting JavaScript file didn't seem to be able to find it.

Then I used npm to install the package locally, and that worked. I have a node_modules directory in the same directory as my script, and it outputs JSON as expected.

I just took what enidootech offers as an example and put that in my file (which I named xml_to_json.js). I ran it with node and it worked:

// From https://github.com/enkidootech/xml2json

var parser = require('xml2json-light');
var xml = '<person><name>John Doe</name></person>';
var json = parser.xml2json(xml); 

console.log(json);

You get this:

$ node xml_to_json.js 
{ person: { name: 'John Doe' } }

Nice!

If my next script won't involve XML, what will it do? That's a question for the next entry.

Tue, 06 Dec 2016

CodePen: JavaScript Basics 2: Arrays and Loops

CodePen: JavaScript Basics 2: Arrays and Loops http://codepen.io/jakealbaugh/post/js-basics-2-arrays-and-loops

CodePen: JavaScript Basics 1: Functions and Variables

CodePen: JavaScript Basics 1: Functions and Variables http://codepen.io/jakealbaugh/post/js-basics-1-functions-and-variables

Thu, 01 Dec 2016

I tried to tweak my Fedora settings in KDE Plasma, and it screwed up everything in GNOME and Xfce

The morale of this story is that the KDE Plasma settings can screw up your Xfce and GNOME settings. So if you're using multiple desktop environments on a single system -- like my Fedora 25 laptop, or any other Linux system -- you could be in for some pain.

What I was trying to do is configure a dark theme for KDE Plasma (easy) and also use dark themes when running GTK3 and GTK2 apps on the Plasma desktop.

It looked pretty good in KDE Plasma, but things went pear-shaped in GNOME 3 and Xfce. My fonts were screwed up, Menus were gray type on a gray background, and icons were messed up -- with KDE icons bleeding into Xfce.

And then I had trouble logging in with Plasma at all. Blame the Fedora 25 upgrade (and KDE Plasma in general) for that one.

I first tried using the many Xfce configuration utilities to make it right. That didn't do much. I finally was able to log into Plasma (only after a reboot) and attempt to undo the damage. I was partially successful.

In GNOME 3, I had a lot of success with the GNOME Tweak Tool (which should be preinstalled on every GNOME system). I was able to use the Xfce Adiwata Dark theme to make even my GTK2/GTK+ apps look better in GNOME. The whole dark-themed GNOME experience is pretty much better than ever. So that's a win.

And I finally got Xfce looking right. I'm still having display font issues, but everything is more than good enough, and figuring out how to make dark-themed GNOME look better than ever is a bonus.

Wed, 30 Nov 2016

My new favorite TV show is @BetterthingsFX

My new favorite TV show is @BetterthingsFX http://www.fxnetworks.com/shows/better-things/about

AdamW on Linux and more: I don’t like computers

AdamW on Linux and more: I don’t like computers https://www.happyassassin.net/2016/11/04/i-dont-like-computers

Hacker Noon: Why you shouldn’t use ‘var’ anymore in JavaScript

Hacker Noon: Why you shouldn’t use ‘var’ anymore in JavaScript https://hackernoon.com/why-you-shouldnt-use-var-anymore-f109a58b9b70

Use SmtpJS.com to send email with JavaScript

Use SmtpJS.com to send email with JavaScript http://www.smtpjs.com

Rubyland.news is a new Ruby aggregator

Rubyland.news is a new Ruby aggregator http://www.rubyland.news

Tech Beacon: Is object-oriented programming dead? Not by a long shot

Tech Beacon: Is object-oriented programming dead? Not by a long shot http://techbeacon.com/object-oriented-programming-dead-not-long-shot

Cybersecurity analyst fixes what's broken in NTP (and there was a LOT to fix)

Cybersecurity analyst fixes what's broken in NTP (and there was a LOT to fix) http://boingboing.net/2016/11/29/ntp-the-rebirth-of-ailing-fa.html

Basic operations for arrays in Ruby

From Solid Foundation Web Development: Basic operations for arrays in Ruby

Tue, 29 Nov 2016

The European Ruby Revolution

The European Ruby Revolution http://devonestes.herokuapp.com/the-european-ruby-revolution

Fri, 25 Nov 2016

Gizmodo: A Stupid Simple Router for Super Lazy People

Gizmodo: A Stupid Simple Router for Super Lazy People http://gizmodo.com/a-stupid-simple-router-for-super-lazy-people-1764670728

Thu, 24 Nov 2016

I did the Fedora 25 upgrade

I upgraded from Fedora 24 to 25 today. So far, so good.

Update: I've had periodic Google Chrome freezes. I've had to kill it and start again a few times. I just had one while writing this post with Ode's EditEdit plugin. Not sure if this is a Google Chrome thing or a Fedora thing. I do have Fedora's version of Chromium to test.

Another update, a day later: No Google Chrome freezes today. I just had my first Google Chrome freeze of the day. Before that I replaced RPM Fusion's Audacity 2.1.2 with Fedora's own Audacity 2.1.3, and my GTK3 rendering issues are now gone. And for some reason I can still output an MP3 even though this isn't the "freeworld" version.

Trying Chromium: I am trying the Fedora-packaged version of Chromium to see if I experience the same freezes that I have been getting in Google's version of the application.

Chromium update: You know what's not crashing? The Fedora-packaged Chromium browser.

So far today, I have replaced the Chrome browser hosted on Google's server and Audacity from RPM Fusion with versions of both from Fedora's own repository. I always like using as many packages as possible from a distribution's own repo (generally a point in Debian and Ubuntu's favor), and it's nice to get closer to that ideal in Fedora.

I have been meaning to write about the coming of Chromium to Fedora for a long time but never got around to it. It installed on my computer automatically as the dependency of another app, the name of which escapes me at the moment.

I also should write about MP3 support (decoding, not encoding) coming to native Fedora (i.e. without RPM Fusion). While I do have RPM Fusion repos active on my Fedora desktop installation (I'm sure there are people who don't ...), I'm not sure if that's the reason my now-Fedora-supplied (and non-"freeworld") Audacity is able to output an MP3 file. All I know is that I'm happy to have my Audacity rendering issues (which have been problematic for a couple of months) and Chrome freezing issues (only a problem since the Fedora 25 upgrade) both solved in very short order.

More info on Fedora's Chromium package: https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Chromium

Possible clue on why Google Chrome is freezing in Fedora 25: From a Fedora mailing list exchange

GNOME 3.22: As dozens of entries on this site will tell you, I periodically try GNOME 3 and usually abandon it because I get more work done in Xfce. In Fedora 25 -- for the first time -- Wayland is the default display technology for GNOME. When I try to run that on this 3-year-old AMD-running laptop (HP Pavilion g6-2210us), it freezes. The Xorg version, still available in the GDM choices, does work.

Chrome in GNOME: It seemed to be working fine. Once again, time for a GNOME test.

A ton of updates means Wayland is now working: All the video drivers updated just now in Fedora 25, and I can now run GNOME in Wayland. That was a quick fix.

Mon, 21 Nov 2016

JavaScript for Cats recommends Underscore.js

The friendly Javascript for Cats tutorial recommends the Underscore.js library, which does look pretty useful.

Sun, 20 Nov 2016

freeCodeCamp: A Gentle Introduction to Data Structures - How Linked Lists Work

freeCodeCamp: A Gentle Introduction to Data Structures - How Linked Lists Work https://medium.freecodecamp.com/a-gentle-introduction-to-data-structures-how-linked-lists-work-5adc793897dd

Gizmodo: Deleting the Facebook App Could Save Up to 20 Percent of Your Android's Battery Life

Gizmodo: Deleting the Facebook App Could Save Up to 20 Percent of Your Android's Battery Life http://gizmodo.com/deleting-the-facebook-app-could-save-up-to-20-percent-o-1789189589

Honeybadger: A Rubyist's Guide to Big-O Notation

Honeybadger: A Rubyist's Guide to Big-O Notation http://blog.honeybadger.io/a-rubyist-s-guide-to-big-o-notation/

Thu, 17 Nov 2016

Disqus -- thanks for fixing your Admin interface

I use Disqus a lot. For work. I mod HUNDREDS of comments a day on a few dozen sites, and the Disqus Admin interface had been making that task very difficult in recent months.

But sometime during the past week, Disqus updated its Admin interface on the web, and it is much easier to moderate the comments.

Things were broken and now they are fixed. Thanks, Disqus.

Sun, 06 Nov 2016

Well-used laptops don't last forever

My experience, anyway, is that heavily used laptops like mine don't last anywhere forever.

My Lenovo G555 lasted a little more than two years before it died.

And now I've had this HP Pavilion G6 2210-us for three years and six months. I'm on my third battery (luckily they're cheap), and now I'm about to replace the entire keyboard (also cheap).

I bumped up the RAM to the maximum of 8 GB a while ago. No regrets there.

The HP has had one catastrophic drop onto concrete that didn't affect it at all -- except for some nasty abrasions on the plastic case.

The drive it came with was an ample 640 GB in size. I sort of want to rebuild it as a Linux-only computer with a 1 TB drive. I generally have 100 GB of free space, and I'd have even more if I could kill out the Windows 8 instllation that I could never successfully upgrade to 8.1 and hence never even try to get Windows 10. If I don't go SSD (and I can't see doing that on this old laptop), the 1 TB would give me a lot of breathing room.

So the batteries last about a year, and the keyboard lasts 3 years. I'll replace the keyboard and hope the rest of the thing doesn't go south.

Would a more expensive laptop -- this one sold for around -- last longer? I don't think so, but you never know.

No more replacement keys, I'm just going to replace the entire keyboard

While my last key replacement was rocky yet ultimately successful, the results aren't what I'd hoped. And now the space bar is going wonky.

My "new" N key works, but it doesn't have the clicky/bouncy feel of the other keys. I'm not sure if it's the rubber cup or the hingy mechanism, but it is what it is. And it's not great.

I tried new rubber cups that I got from ReplacementLaptopKeys.com, and that didn't help.

The space bar is just generally loose and mushy, and it doesn't work on the ends all that well.

This time I'm just buying a whole new keyboard. What I didn't know is that they're cheap. For this laptop anyway.

I'm not sure if this is the case for all laptop brands, or just HP, but the market is awash with OEM replacement keyboards, and I just bought one for on eBay. Sure I'll have to take the whole damn laptop apart, but it should really have a new lease on life.

Sat, 05 Nov 2016

Can you use JavaScript and Node instead of traditional shell scripts?

One of the things that would get me using (and learning) more JavaScript would be the ability to take care of all the administrative things I do in (mostly) Bash, (occasionally) Ruby and (very occasionally) Perl using JavaScript via Node on the command line.

I have played a bit with creating and writing files in that environment, and I found the following posts to help in that effort:

This Fedora install still kicking after SIX upgrades

I started this laptop on Fedora 18 before a fairly quick upgrade to F19. I've kept it going all the way through Fedora 24.

So far that's six "major" upgrades. And it still works fine. Not that it shouldn't, but I don't remember things ever going this smoothly for this long.

Fri, 04 Nov 2016

Sacha Greif: A study plan to cure JavaScript fatigue

Sacha Greif: A study plan to cure JavaScript fatigue https://medium.com/@sachagreif/a-study-plan-to-cure-javascript-fatigue-8ad3a54f2eb1

Sun, 30 Oct 2016

The Archtop.com "sold" list - a treasure trove of guitar history

You can learn a lot about archtop guitars by going through the "sold" archive at Archtop.com. You can see descriptions and photos of hundreds of actual instruments. It's a valuable historical and educational resource that is really helping me learn about Gibson archtop guitars. What's missing? The prices. For that you need to look at the current inventory list.

What makes these Archtop.com lists so valuable is that there are so many examples of real guitars that have sold. The measurements show how the various models changed from the 1920s and '30s to the present day. They could turn the archive into a book, and I'd buy it.

Sat, 22 Oct 2016

The squeak in the plumbing

There's been a squeak in the plumbing. For about a year. When you turn the water on, "squeak." When you turn it off, "squeak."

The picture gives it away. It was the Zurn pressure-reducing valve. We have super-high water pressure, and we probably need two pressure-reducing valves in series but make due with one.

Anyhow, the squeak has been a mystery. Ilene thought it was the pressure-reducing valve all along. I agreed that we probably needed either a new one, or a rebuild on the old one (there's a kit for that).

But I wasn't sure. The sound was super loud in the shower wall.

I ventured into the spider- (and web-) filled crawlspace under the house to check the pipes while the teenager turned the water on and off. I was looking for things that moved. Things that moved enough to squeak.

I found nothing.

Read the rest of this post

Fri, 21 Oct 2016

Can I Program Yet?

Can I Program Yet? Notes as I Learn Coding and Software Development by Darga http://blog.dargacode.com and http://dargacode.com/

Twitter is broken

Twitter is broken due to a DDoS attack. The AP story I pulled downplays it quite a bit -- it's not just the East Coast, and it is continuing into the afternoon. http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-tn-dyn-attack-20161021-snap-story.html

Tue, 18 Oct 2016

Back to Xfce after a week in GNOME 3 ... again

My latest GNOME 3 experiment lasted about a week.

And I fully recognize that I pretty much wrote this same post last month.

I'm back again. GNOME wasn't really offering me anything I don't get in Xfce, and when I had to dip into my Citrix apps yesterday, GNOME was giving me trouble.

Between Xfce's Whisker menu, Catfish file finder and the fact that I can run the Nautilus or Dolphin file managers whenever I feel the need (which won't be very often), the comfort, consistency, performance and usability of Xfce drew me back.

Just like the last time.

I didn't feel more productive in GNOME. At times I felt less productive. So why keep going with it?

The Ember Weekend podcast

I just discovered the Ember Weekend podcast https://emberweekend.com

Mon, 17 Oct 2016

Creating encrypted documents in Vim

Creating encrypted documents with Vim https://linux-audit.com/using-encrypted-documents-with-vim/

Jazz Advice indeed has a lot of good jazz advice

Jazz Advice indeed has a lot of good jazz advice http://www.jazzadvice.com

Sun, 16 Oct 2016

'I’m Considering a Coding Bootcamp: Should I learn JavaScript or Ruby?'

Bloc: I’m Considering a Coding Bootcamp: Should I learn JavaScript or Ruby? https://blog.bloc.io/im-considering-a-coding-bootcamp-should-i-learn-javascript-or-ruby/

Wed, 12 Oct 2016

Don't hate me because I'm back in GNOME 3

After saying in a recent post how GNOME 3 wasn't working for me, here I am. Back in GNOME 3.

My use cases are changing, and GNOME 3 has its charms.

Briefly (and not all particularly relevant):

  • I will no longer need Citrix in a few months (or so I'm told)
  • Nautilus is nice
  • I'm considering a "clean" installation of Fedora Workstation (still love Fedora)
  • Shutter has improved my screenshot situation
  • GNOME 3 looks so nice
  • GNOME 3 seems stable
  • I now watch video on my TV with a Roku (though GNOME 3 works fine when I have the laptop plugged in via HDMI), meaning my laptop "experience" is more production and development and less video entertainment

I have way too many desktop environments on this laptop. Recently I tried LXQT, which is a nightmare (on my Fedora 24 machine, anyway), LXDE (meh) and KDE/Plasma 5 (I liked it better than I thought I would, but not enough to move to it).

Might as well try GNOME 3 again.

As I say above, I'm contemplating a fresh Fedora installation, and that would be Fedora Workstation from the get-go. If i did that, maybe GNOME Screenshot would work as advertised ...

One guy's Google interview prep can be everybody else's computer-science tutorial

One guy's Google interview prep can be everybody else's computer-science tutorial https://github.com/jwasham/google-interview-university

I am trying Shutter as my GNOME screenshot program

Since the GNOME screenshot program is very broken, at least in my installation of GNOME, I decided to try Shutter, the Linux screenshot program written in Perl and seemingly aimed at GNOME users.

Shutter has a lot of options, and so far I can get it to work.

Going back to the beginning, why is the GNOME screenshot program broken in my GNOME installation? I have no idea.

When I hit the print-screen key, nothing at all happens. If I bind it to alt-p, I get the "shutter" sound, and a PNGJPG image appears in my Photos folder. Even if I go into gconf settings to modify just about everything, calling the screenshot program from the keyboard produces the same resultwon't allow me to change the target directory.

But if I hit the super key (or mouse into the hot corner), then search for Screenshot and run it, I get the full GNOME Screenshot window to open, and it has all of my configuration options (JPG instead of PNG, choose my own directory/folder). Why can't I make this work from the keyboard -- from print-screen or any other keyboard shortcut?

I've dwelled on GNOME Screenshot enough. Now I'm going to see if Shutter can do what I need. Or I can just use Xfce, where the screenshot program works like it's supposed to -- with the print-screen key. Why is this so hard, GNOME people?

Update: After using Shutter once (I have it bound to alt-P), the icon sits in my upper panel. I can then take a screenshot by clicking the icon. Easy.

Speaking of panels in the panel-less GNOME (where not having things appears to be a "feature"), I do have a panel in the form of the TopIcons, Places Status Indicator and Applications Menu extensions. And yes, it is not a good thing that what many consider core funtionality can only be implemented through Extensions that aren't part of the GNOME 3 core.

More GNOME Extensions: I just added Frippery Panel Favorites to make the upper panel on my GNOME 3 desktop even more GNOME 2-like.

Thu, 06 Oct 2016

Converting WordPress posts to files for a static site

I'm exploring ways to take WordPress blogs and semi-automatically covert them into heaps of individual static files for use in blogging systems like Ode that take text files and convert them to HTML either on the fly or via a static-site engine.

I think it's going to take a combination of at least two existing tools plus some scripting on my part to take what those tools create and further process the files for Ode.

I tried two WordPress plugins that didn't work at all: WP Static HTML Output and Static Snapshot.

A third WordPress plugin, Really Static, did not look promising, and I didn't try it.

I tested the HTTrack Website Copier -- there's even a Fedora package for it -- and that pretty much downloaded the entire WordPress blog as a fully baked static site. But it didn't produce files or a file structure that is in any way compatible with any other blogging software.

Still, I think HTTrack will be valuable in terms of extracting the images from WordPress sites for use in other blogging systems.

I tried another method using wget (which HTTrack also uses) with a ton of command-line switches in a post titled Creating a static copy of a dynamic website.

In case the above site disappears, here is what you do:

The command line, in short…

wget -k -K -E -r -l 10 -p -N -F --restrict-file-names=windows -nH http://website.com/

…and the options explained

-k : convert links to relative
-K : keep an original versions of files without the conversions made by wget
-E : rename html files to .html (if they don’t already have an htm(l) extension)
-r : recursive… of course we want to make a recursive copy
-l 10 : the maximum level of recursion. if you have a really big website you may need to put a higher number, but 10 levels should be enough.
-p : download all necessary files for each page (css, js, images)
-N : Turn on time-stamping.
-F : When input is read from a file, force it to be treated as an HTML file.
-nH : By default, wget put files in a directory named after the site’s hostname. This will disabled creating of those hostname directories and put everything in the current directory.
–restrict-file-names=windows : may be useful if you want to copy the files to a Windows PC.

This is a cool exercise, and it pretty much produces what you get with HTTrack. Cool but not useful.

Along these lines but aiming for something that's actually useful, I could use wget and just target the images.

Here's where the good stuff stars

It's not all bad. I just tried a Ruby Gem called wp2middleman, which takes a copy of the XML that you export out of WordPress and turns it into individual static files (either HTML- or Markdown-formatted) with YAML-style title, date and tags.

You get the XML from the WordPress Dashboard (under Tools -- Export). Then you process that XML file with wp2middleman.

If you already have Ruby and Ruby Gems set up, getting the gem is as easy as:

gem install wp2middleman

Then you can produce a full filesystem with individually named files with:

wp2mm your_wordpress.xml

That gets you the files. Not the images. I'd use HTTrack or some similar tool to get those.

That I can work with. "All" I'd have to do is convert the YAML to Ode's title and Indexette date format, rewrite the image links to conform to whatever I have going on my Ode site and then convert the file suffixes from .html or .markdown to .txt.

I think I can do that.

Update: Getting the images from a WordPress blog with wget is easy. Stack Overflow has it: How do I use Wget to download all Images into a single Folder

There is enough info there to get them into a single folder, or into a directory/folder structure that could make it easier to call the images into your non-WP blog. I did both as a test:

wget -nd -r 2 -A jpg,jpeg,png,gif -e robots=off http://your-blog-here.com

wget -r -l 2 -A jpg,jpeg,png,gif -e robots=off http://your-blog-here.com

Wed, 05 Oct 2016

I bring the Blogger version of The CTRL Freak to Ode, plus a tally of what's left to move

It's low-hanging-fruit day. In my quest to archive all of my old blogs here in Ode, where I have everything on my server and in filesystem-level backups, I'm aiming to bring all of my "old" (and just plain old) blogs into this file-based Ode system that I host myself.

Today I did The CTRL Freak -- the Blogger version (there's also a WordPress version, the blog itself tells me).

It was only eight entries, I left at least one behind (because all it did was point to another blog entry), and there were no images. That made it a quick conversion, hence the low-hanging-fruit analogy.

I'm starting to get pre-2011 entries on this site. I'll expand the date links on the right when I get more vintage content on the site.

Here is what I have on Blogger:

2,000 Days in the Valley
142 posts to do

This Old Mac
61 posts to do

This Old PC
40 posts to do

My jazz guitar journey
48 posts to do

The CTRL freak
9 posts done

The status of my WordPress.com blogs is more complicated because there are backups in there from my company-owned WordPress.org sites as well as the Blogger sites mentioned above.

The WordPress.com sites are:

Steven Rosenberg
378 posts

Takectrl's Weblog (I think this is an old Click backup)
1,149 posts

The CTRL freak (WordPress version with maybe a few more entries)
27 posts

I also have:

Master and Server, which is a WordPress.org site on the devio.us OpenBSD server. It only has a few entries.
20 posts

And then there are my two big Daily News blogs that started their lives on Movable Type and which were converted to WordPress.org:

Click
1,950 posts

Come on Feel the Nuys
367 posts

Clearly these last two are going to either take a Herculean effort or some kind of scripting magic from me. I used to have access to the server and could grab the images in bulk, but I don't think I can do that any more. The hard parts of these kinds of "automatic" conversions are the internal links (WordPress uses absolute links, which are good for SEO but bad for portability) and images (and their URLs, also absolute links).

Today's mood (or mode): I could be programming, but I'm moving blog entries around instead ...

Tue, 04 Oct 2016

Blogging over the years: bringing it all together

After I started using self-hosted blogging software that wasn't WordPress in February 2011, I began with FlatPress and continued using it through October until I discovered and settled on Ode as the blogging software that best fit how I wanted to run my personal site.

As I write this post, it occurs to me that I've been running Ode just about five years.

It was always my intention to bring all of my past blog posts from Flatpress, WordPress and even Blogger to a single platform. I moved most of my Flatpress posts over some time ago but there were about a dozen or so entries from the early Flatpress months that never made it over. Over the past day and a half, I moved those entries into this Ode site.

I guess that means I can shut down the Flatpress site.

Migrating blog posts is hard. There's the formatting, the file naming (and organizing) and the images. There are ways of doing it automatically, and I might explore scripting the rest of it. But I'll probably just chip away at it manually, starting with my Blogger sites.

That's if I do it at all. The idea of having all of my blog entries in this Ode site, which means I'll have them in a local filesystem, too, is something I would like to do, but it is a lot of work.

Tue, 27 Sep 2016

Back to Xfce after screwing around with KDE/Plasma and GNOME 3

After a couple of weeks trying to make GNOME 3 and then KDE/Plasma 5 work for me, I'm back in Xfce 4.12 full time.

GNOME for sure doesn't work for me, and while I really liked KDE's Plasma desktop, it created more problems than it solved.

So I'm back to Xfce, which works like a champ and doesn't get in the way.

In terms of GNOME apps, I've been using Gedit less and less since Geany is so good and allows me to compile code that needs it and run all code without leaving the editor (and without jumping through any hoops at all to make it happen).

One thing I picked up from KDE was that I can still tap the Dolphin file manager when I need it (which won't be very often, but the split-screen mode is something that every file manager should have).

I also revisited digiKam, the photo organizing/editing software from KDE. It is much better than the last time I used it, and I am thinking about continuing to use the app even though I'm not in KDE.

Otherwise GNOME is still a problem for me. I am required to jump through a lot of configuration hoops just to get the desktop I want.

KDE is better. I like the animations (which are minimal). I like the "KDE menu." But it's just not all that stable. And KDE Wallet was continually screwing with my Google Chrome cookies and saved passwords. I didn't need that headache to continue. I mostly used Firefox just to keep from wrecking my Chrome setup more.

One problem I had with KDE: It wasn't all that stable. I killed it more than a few times. However, I love the attention to detail when it comes to configuration.

I had problems with screen-grabbing in both GNOME and KDE. It was worse in GNOME. I couldn't get the print-screen key to actually do the screen-grab. I had to settle for mapping alt-P. And then I couldn't get the format I wanted (JPG, not PNG) or the proper location. If I called the screen-capture utility from a terminal, it would work like it was supposed to. But with alt-P, it didn't.

In KDE, kscreenshot was pretty good, though it also didn't work with the print-screen. I had to call it from the menu and leave it running.

The fact that the Xfce screen-shot utility just works -- and well -- is huge for me.

And as I say above, Xfce stays out of the way and runs like a champ.

So I'm back.

Mon, 26 Sep 2016

Video: Swing expert Jonathan Stout plays 'It's Only a Paper Moon' on a 1929 Gibson L-5 at Norman's Rare Guitars, and then I keep on writing ...

Swing guitarist Jonathan Stout lays out his philosophy on swing music, the guitar, Charlie Christian, Allan Reuss, REALLY old Gibsons and Epiphones, X-bracing vs. parallel bracing and more on his Swing Guitar Blog and Campus Five YouTube channel.

His latest video was recorded on another YouTube channel because he made it at Norman's Rare Guitars in Tarzana. where Jonathan plays Harold Arlen's "It's Only a Paper Moon" on a 1929 Gibson L-5 acoustic.

Jonathan is a wonderful guitarist who explores three distinct "directions" on the guitar: swing rhythm on the acoustic archtop, swing-style chord-melody on the same instrument and Charlie Christian-style swing-to-bop soloing on the archtop electric.

They really are three different kinds of playing -- watch Jonathan's videos and see what I mean.

Read the rest of this post

Fri, 23 Sep 2016

Ford to city: drop dead

Headless body in topless bar

Sticks nix hick pix

Thu, 15 Sep 2016

I'm using the KDE Plasma desktop - and liking it

Though I'm a longtime Xfce user on the Linux desktop (and a longtime user of Fedora as my distribution), I'm open to other things.

As I've written many times, I want to like GNOME 3. Fedora Workstation is based on it. But it just doesn't work for me. I don't want to say GNOME 3 is unpolished, but it's just too stripped down until you start shoving GNOME Shell Extensions onto your system.

Plus, GNOME 3 doesn't play well at all with the Citrix applications that I've been using for the past couple of years and will continue using for maybe the next six months.

And GNOME 3 just doesn't "feel right." And "feel" is something I don't want to ignore.

On what I suppose is a bit of a whim (or maybe I did it by accident, I can't remember), I logged in to the Plasma desktop. I don't know if calling their desktop "Plasma" short-changes the KDE brand, or if that matters at all, but I had a poor grasp of what Plasma is in relation to KDE.

It turns out I like Plasma (or KDE, or whatever it's called).

The desktop works well, is faster than you'd think and has quite a bit of polish. There are lots of configuration options, and they are all built in. It's not like the comparative tragedy of the GNOME Tweak Tool and gconf.

And I am growing very dependent on the Dolphin file manager.

Things I like about Dolphin:

  • Split mode. Nautilus used to have it. Thunar never did. It's like having windows in a car that actually open. That's a bad analogy, but the ability to easily transfer files from one directory to another without opening two file manager windows is so fundamental that I wonder why every file manager doesn't have it.

  • Faster transfer to USB flash drives. Is it my imagination, or is Dolphin configured to speed up the copying of files to USB flash drives. Those operations are notoriously slow when done on my Fedora system in other file managers. I know there are ways to speed up those transfers, but I'm too lazy to figure them out. I'm happy to have Dolphin do that for me. I'm pretty sure I got this wrong. The file transfers go at the same speed in pretty much all the file managers.

  • Configuration, configuration, configuration. KDE has always been about configuration of all the things. And GNOME has been not-so-slowly offering a stripped-down, hard-to-configure experience that is low on included tools. Xfce is very configurable, KDE/Plasma even more so. The file manager is such an important part of any system, it's vital that you are able to do what you want with it.

From the "feel" perspective, as I say above, KDE's Plasma desktop is much faster than billed. The animations don't distract. It seems relatively easy on the CPU. I installed the overly complicated digiKam, which I have used in the past because it's one of a very few Linux applications that allows editing of the IPTC metadata in JPG images that the media industry uses pretty much universally. While still complicated as hell, digiKam passes the IPTC test.

I have had problems with the KDE Wallet system "eating" my Google Chrome browser cookies, and that's something I'm not terribly happy with. I lost all of my stored passwords at one point. Firefox definitely "plays" better with KDE/Plasma.

And right now I'm having issues configuring the touchpad with the KDE-supplied utility, though that's today. It worked a few days ago. GNOME is really bad at this -- as is LXDE, one of the many DEs I've sampled in the past couple of weeks.

I can't say that I will move from Xfce to KDE/Plasma because I probably won't. But I can certainly see using the Plasma Desktop as my part-time environment, with Xfce still doing the heavy lifting for my media production and software development needs.

But you never know.

Mon, 12 Sep 2016

Using Dir.glob to delete files with a pattern in Ruby

I have a bunch of files in a directory, and I want to delete all that begin their filename with the letters X16 (e.g. X16data.xml)

I used Dir.glob to select the files and iterated over what comes up in the pattern, using File.delete to get rid of what I don't want (Thanks, Stack Overflow):

Dir.glob("X16*") do |file|
 File.delete(file)
end

You can put any kind of regex in here, and it'll probably work. That's the theory anyway.

Sat, 10 Sep 2016

The rubyzip gem for creating and opening archives

On my current project, I am trying to use using rubyzip to unzip an archive.

So far it's not working, and I'll probably shell out to Bash and Linux/Unix's unzip to get it done.

I figured it out. Now I have to manage the unzipped files (deleting the unused, renaming the good, then deleting the good at the beginning of the run) and account for NOT running the program if there is no file on the other end.

Mon, 05 Sep 2016

I could almost run OpenBSD 6.0

I could almost run OpenBSD 6.0. http://www.openbsd.org/60.html. When I'm allowed to abandon Citrix on an ice floe, that is.

More on TrueOS

More on what TrueOS (ex-PC-BSD) is all about https://www.trueos.org/more-on-trueos/

PC-BSD is now TrueOS

PC-BSD has rebranded as TrueOS. Doesn't run on AMD/ATI, so I can't try it https://www.trueos.org/2016/09/01/pc-bsd-evolves-into-trueos/

Fri, 02 Sep 2016

Blogging with Markdown, Dropbox and Rails

Blogging with Markdown, Dropbox and Rails by Piotr Chmolowski http://pchm.co/posts/blogging-with-markdown-dropbox-and-rails

Thu, 01 Sep 2016

I love Sam Koblenski's tech blog

The Ruby Weekly newsletter led me to Sam Koblenski's excellent tech-heavy blog http://sam-koblenski.blogspot.com. I especially like the Tech Book Face Offs http://sam-koblenski.blogspot.com/search/label/Tech%20Book%20Face%20Off

Mon, 29 Aug 2016

Oleego is my new favorite place to eat at Westfield Fashion Square

We ate at @oleegousa twice this weekend -- it's that good. My new No. 1 at @WestfieldFS #ShermanOaks

Linus Torvalds on the GPL vs. BSD

Why Linus likes the GPL license more than the BSD

Sat, 27 Aug 2016

How can they understand?

Our 13-year-old can't wrap her head around life without the Internet and smartphones. How can I blame her?

Been thinking about the pre-web, pre-smartphone days

I've been thinking about the pre-web, pre-smartphone days. That is all.

I took Twitter and Google News off my phone about a month ago

It feels like a month since I took the Twitter and Google News apps off of my phone. Still have them on the tablet, but not the phone.

Replacement Laptop Keys comes through with a working 'n'

The great people at @laptopkeys got me typing 'n' once again

Thu, 25 Aug 2016

Do I really need your app? Do I want it? Do I have space for it?

Can you call a business a "web site" if they try to force you to use an app to access their content on a mobile device?

I guess everything these days is a "social network," "e-commerce platform," "content provider," or some other phrase or three that escape me at this particular moment.

There are two social networks -- one is an employment-based network, the other a dining-reviews network -- that won't let me see content at various times without downloading their mobile application.

Bet you can guess who I'm talking about.

The first is LinkedIn. I don't remember having much trouble accessing LinkedIn on my phone or tablet, but I get these emails from them that say, "So and So has an update." I click for the update, and it sends me to a come-on for the LinkedIn app.

I'm not getting that app. So I don't get the content.

The other one -- the dining-review app -- is worse.

That's Yelp, in case you didn't figure it out.

Every time you go to their site on a phone or tablet, the top of the page is a massive plea to download and run their app.

And then the web site wastes no time in telling you that you'll only get a few dining reviews from real people in the browser. If you want more, you'll have to get the app.

I don't want the app. So I lose out on your content -- and any ad impressions you might be offering to monetize my experience.

Why don't I want these two apps?

1) Not everybody has a 128GB iPhone. My el-cheapo Android phone is limping along with 8GB of storage, and that is double my previous phone's 4GB. Even though I have a 32GB SD card on board, there's only so much that can go on it in terms of apps (thanks for that, Android). Some apps won't go on the SD card, and most store data on the phone's memory regardless of where they are installed. So I have to be very selective in what I do have on the phone.

2) I don't need an app for a site or service I use infrequently. It's just clutter, and I'd rather use the browser. Even if I had a 64GB phone, I don't want a dozen pages of apps to swipe through.

3) Your app is not that good. Most apps don't do more than mimic a browser-delivered web experience. Maybe some users feel "safer" using an app rather than a web site. Those days are gone. Web apps (really just fancy web sites with lots of Javascript) do so much client-side that they really are apps that users don't have to download and keep on their phones.

The craziest one these days is Amazon.

Amazon will pay you $5 just to use their app.

Why?

Because, for Android anyway, their app is not in the Google Play store, and you have to download it and allow your phone to run non-Play Store apps.

Most users find this daunting and don't want to do it. But maybe $5 will change their minds.

I just discovered that the Amazon is preloaded on my Android phone, so maybe if I launch it I'll get the $5? Probably not.

But do I even need this app? It will alert me if crap I want to buy is available, on sale, or who knows what.

I use Amazon enough that maybe the app is worth it.

But most of the apps out there for things that can be taken care of with a web site? No, I don't want your app. I don't have room on the phone for it.

I sort of understand that you feel you need an app. That it's part of your business plan. But at least give me a choice. If you push to hard on making me download and run your app just to sample your service, chances are I never will. And you lose a potential customer. Or hundreds (or thousands) of them.

Shopify is huge - and they use Ruby on Rails

Shopify is a huge e-commerce web-site provider, and they use Ruby on Rails https://engineering.shopify.com

Mon, 22 Aug 2016

Keep Fedora's dnf from upgrading certain packages

Since the OpenShot video editor is pretty much broken in version 2.0.x, and I'm using a Fedora 22 package of version 1.4.3 so I can keep editing video while I contemplate learning KDEnlive.

I installed the OpenShot 1.4.3 package, and in my next run of the yumex-dnf package manager, it cheerfully offered to upgrade to 2.0.7.

No.

So how do you keep yumex-dnf and regular ol' dnf from bugging you about this every time?

Read the rest of this post

Sun, 21 Aug 2016

ReplacementLaptopKeys.com comes through again

Just like on the laptop before this one, if you bang on it and take it enough places, you end up with a busted key.

Where do you get a new one?

HP won't sell you one key.

Enter third-party individual-key sellers like ReplacementLaptopKeys.com, which attempt -- usually very well -- to send you any individual key to replace a broken one.

Read the rest of this post

Yelp, get bent

Yelp, thank you for withholding your content because I'm using a tablet and don't want your stupid app.

Fri, 19 Aug 2016

Will Fedora 22 OpenShot run on Fedora 24?

Will Fedora 22 OpenShot run on Fedora 24 and solve the "OpenShot 2.x is horrible" issue? Only one way to find out.

Tablet vs. laptop

You think you can do what you do on a laptop with a tablet if you add a keyboard and mouse. But you can't. Creating content remains a "real" computer's game.

Thu, 18 Aug 2016

Do broken apps in Fedora mean I should turn to Ubuntu?

I hadn't edited a video in a long time, and when I opened the OpenShot video editor in Fedora 24 yesterday, I found a completely updated user interface in version 2.0.7 that made the app harder to use. I could barely see the tracks at the bottom, and there appeared to be no way to make that window big enough to remedy the problem.

I could no longer change the "properties" of an item and modify the time it occupied on the video.

It wasn't recognizing linefeeds on my Inkscape-generated titles.

And then it crashed all the time.

In short, a decent, workhorse app has become totally useless.

I then tried to edit some audio. Again, I haven't done it in awhile. Audacity is very stable, so how could there be a problem?

There was. The play/pause buttons kept disappearing, as did the icons for switching modes. I was able to do a quick audio edit, but it was neither easy nor pleasant.

I think the OpenShot issues are systematic to the project and its one-man-band development situation. (I know -- I really should figure out KDEnlive and be done with it.)

Audacity's problem lies elsewhere in the system, as this Fedora bug report details.

I have a test Ubuntu 16.04 system on another drive. I loaded it up and installed Audacity (same version, 2.1.2). It worked perfectly.

I installed OpenShot, which RPM Fusion distributes for Fedora users in version 2.0.7). Ubuntu provides version 1.4.3. Which is old. But it works.

So I'm wondering if I should just make the leap and dump Fedora 24 for Ubuntu 16.04. It would do wonders for my video- and audio-editing productivity, for one thing.

And I thought that Ubuntu's HUD (heads-up display) was roughly equal to what GNOME 3 offers in its "hot corner" search. Nope. In GNOME, you can search for applications but not files. Ubuntu's HUD allows you to find applications and files. This is no deal-breaker because you can search for files in the Nautilus/Files file manager in both Ubuntu's Unity and any system running GNOME. Still, the HUD (love or hate what it CAN search for) is better than anything else out there for Linux.

So will I do it? I hate replacing systems and moving my files over. But I'm thinking.

Wed, 17 Aug 2016

Audacity having problems in Fedora 24

Audacity is having a screen-rendering issue in Fedora 24. Bug report: https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=1347053