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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair

Regular blog here, 'microblog' there

Many of my traditional blog post live on this site, but a great majority of my social-style posts can be found on my much-busier microbloging site at updates.passthejoe.net. It's busier because my BlogPoster "microblogging" script generates short, Twitter-style posts from the Linux or Windows (or anywhere you can run Ruby with too many Gems) command line, uploads them to the web server and send them out on my Twitter and Mastodon feeds.

I used to post to this blog via scripts and Unix/Linux utilities (curl and Unison) that helped me mirror the files locally and on the server. Since this site recently moved hosts, none of that is set up. I'm just using SFTP and SSH to write posts and manage the site.

Disqus comments are not live just yet because I'm not sure about what I'm going to do for the domain on this site. I'll probably restore the old domain at first just to have some continuity, but for now I like using the "free" domain from this site's new host, NearlyFreeSpeech.net.

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

Basic operations for arrays in Ruby

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

Wed, 23 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.

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.

Sat, 05 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.

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:

Fri, 04 Nov 2016

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.

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.