Noodlings | Symphony, Power Tools and Storage

My 6th noodling might be my longest noodling yet. It started out a bit light but then after reading I just got a bit too excited. If you want to skip to the end where I do a little self-deprecation and ignore the meat of it, that is very understandable.

The 6th Noodling can be obtained here

Linux Symphony

I took my kids to the symphony this past Sunday. It was hugely beneficial to have the kids experience a symphonic performance. It made for a pretty decent lesson about the benefits of working together. When the orchestral members were warming up before they begin the performance there is a cacophony of sounds and although individually, the instruments sound nice, together it sounds like a mess. When the performance started and the conductor did his conducting, keeping everyone on pace and on the “same sheet of music” as it were, you could listen and imagine the story of events in the mind’s eye. Everything from serious and intense melodies to whimsical light hearted tones. Although my kids could only manage to sit through an hour of the performance, there were lots of lessons to be extracted about the benefits of working together.

How this can be applied to the Linux community is as such. When we work together, in harmony with one another, we can make for some amazing results. Whether it is the latest Ubuntu MATE, the newest release of Plasma or helping someone through a tech question, by working together in a kind and respectful tone we can achieve great things. I am of the belief that all Linux is good Linux and by making any one aspect better, we make it all better, regardless of the flavor of Linux or desktop you choose.

Let’s make some beautiful music

Dell Latitude E6440 Caddy Drive Bay

My primary machine that I am using I didn’t choose lightly, I wanted a lot of flexibility in a fairly small package. Since I like to test things in VM, I wanted to have the option of a third hard drive. What I discovered is that it doesn’t seem to matter how much storage I have available, I seem to fill it up. I am starting to think that maybe I have a problem.

I do clean out my drives from time to time but I find that the more space I have, the sloppier I am about cleaning up the cruft. I am preparing to build a system with a heck of a lot more storage and after making my hard drive purchases, I realized, I may have purchased too small of drives. If this is the case, I think I have a strategy to compensate for this.

I did create a YouTube video of the ease of using the drive bay for additional storage as I knew it would be a short thing and provide me an opportunity to edit something together. A consequence of the additional drive has resulted in me rarely poping in the optical drive. Perhaps my needs for optical media is fading?

Power Tools

I recently change over all my cordless power tools to the DeWalt 20V max line. I do spend a lot of time outside of the cubicle doing non-cubicle activities and I have recorded much of it and scripted some things out to share my findings and reasoning from the perspective of a Linux Geek. Although power tools are not strictly a nerdy activity, there is a lot of nerdiness to be had. My specific high points of what I find is that the price per tool combined with the watt-hour of use per charge and number of charges per battery made it the best bang for your buck. The other main factor is the variety of tools I have available to me with this one battery platform. In an effort to simplify my life, this is what I have chosen and so far, it has exceeded my expectations.

BDLL Follow up

One of the things I like about BigDaddyLinux Live is the discussion we have on there. Some of it, I don’t have much to contribute as it is either outside my area of expertise or maybe I am still forming my opinions. There were two topics that really engaged me last Saturday. The first being developing on Linux and the second on virtual memory or in Linux called Swap.

On development, there is a lot of negativity towards Electron applications from some in the Linux community. In short, an Electron application is a cross platform thing that allows a developer to make an application for Linux, MacOS and Windows. One of those things is really cool and the other two, not as much. The benefit is, it is an easy way to maintain a single codebase and maximize the number of platforms that can reached.

The draw backs are that Electron is quite inefficient. The storage space it takes up is fairly extensive and the RAM usage is also weighty. With newer computers, this is not an issue. If you have 16 or 32 GiB of RAM this isn’t an issue, if you have 2 or 4 GiB of RAM this can be an issue.

How-To Geek on Electron Applications

A discussion that start on the Discourse and made its way into the show was about using Swap in Linux when there is so much RAM available in modern systems. The question is to Swap or not to Swap and how much Swap and what kind of Swap. I recommend watching BDLL from 05 October 2019 for the extended discussion or going to the BDLL Discourse for opinions outside of mine.

Swap reminds me a lot of the bank switching that was common on 8-bit computers of old except instead of keeping the data in a switchable bank, this is putting it on a hard drive or SSD. The issue I find with Swap is if you are really taxing your system, you can end up with having a lot of disk thrashing that can really bring your system down to a crawl.

For my primary machine, I have set aside 17 GiB of Swap space, just in case. I have used it on more than one occasion… maybe due to Electron apps and it has come in handy when I haven’t paid attention to memory usage when using Google Chrome. Swap space on the two Acer AspireOne netbooks I set up for my kids gets used pretty regularly. Whenever using the a web browser they do dip into the swap space often.

Since I’ve been using Linux now for quite some time, I have the space to spare and I do take advantage of the hibernate to disk (or SSD) function from time to time, I set my system up with a Swap partition. It is an old fashion and inflexible approach and I am okay with that. The benefits of a swap file are probably greater but since openSUSE makes it very easy set up a Swap partition and I know what I am getting with it. That is what I will stick with, for now.

openSUSE Corner

openSUSE Leap to SLE

An often forgotten bit of openSUSE that makes is rather remarkable is how closely the Leap project is with the SLE project. One of my good E-friends, Mauro, who does the Linux thing as a profession, not a hobby and home-gamer like me was telling me how easy it is to move a client from an unsupported openSUSE Leap system to a SUSE Linux Enterprise support contract without disruption.

I know that this is not possible with CentOS and Red Hat but with Canonical’s Ubuntu it is essentially the same distribution. What I find interesting is the different executions of each of the distributions of integrating community based projects with commercial offerings. My preference here is the [open]SUSE model as it seems like a cleaner approach, though I see the benefits of the Canonical method too.

Tumbleweed Snapshots 20190923 20190925 20190926 20190927

Many updates included gcc9 version 9.2.1, gcc8 version 8.3.1, gcc7 version 7.4.1, Plasma Framework 5.62.0, Plasma Workspace 5.16.5, Xorg-X11-server 1.20.5, Kernel 5.3.1 and several bug fixes around YaST and PulseAudio and a bug around not being able to duplex print with Okular.

The Tumbleweed Snapshot reviewer gives 20190923 a stable score of a 97; 20190925 a stable score of 98; 20190926 a stable score of 98; and 20190927 a moderate score of 83.

If you want to lock yourself on the latest Stable snapshot from the 26th of September:

tumbleweed switch --install 20190926

Project Name Change Vote

As of today, the polls are open for a name change on the project. I did cast my vote and after reading through the mailing list, there is a little bit if heat concerning the issue. Ultimately, the hope is that it is a clear in favor or not in favor of the name change. If it is closer to a 50-50 split, that can potentially be more problematic. I personally am hoping that we just keep the status quo. Although I do agree that some of the legal constraints with the relationship to SUSE can be problematic for end-user experience, things like codec installation and such. There are some benefits with the brand association, especially in respect to the SLE to Leap for those that are in the space of selling solutions.

Asia Summit 2019

The sixth openSUSE Asia Summit just concluded this past weekend. It took place at the Fakultas Teknik of the Universitas Udayana in Bali, Indonesia. There were a number of participants that traveled from 20 different nations around the world to join the students at the university. Students not only made their first contributions to open source technology but also volunteered with running the summit.

KDE and openSUSE

The Beta version of Plasma 5.17 was released with new features and improvements such as per-screen fractional scaling on Wayland and a new User Interface for configuring permissions of Thunderbolt devices and network statistics in KSysGuard. Due to increase in user privileges with this feature is being examined by the SUSE security team.

openQA found a few bugs with GIMP, some applications were mixing Kirigami and Qt Widgets that were breaking some keyboard shortcuts that were addressed and will be fixed in the final release of Plasma 5.17.

If you are interested in testing the 5.17 Beta of Plasma in either Leap or Tumbleweed installation, you can read how here: https://en.opensuse.org/SDB:KDE_repositories.

Leap 15.2 will see some major version upgrades of many components such as a new version of the Linux Kernel, Qt 5.12 LTS, Plasma 5.18 LTS and the latest KDE Frameworks and Applications. A full Wayland session that arrived in Tumbleweed a few weeks ago will be available in Leap 15.2. Testers are welcome to ensure the best user experience possible.

Qt 5.14 branch is still in early stages but the development teams have been busy integrating it into openSUSE builds. Bugs have been identified and most of them fixed so it is possible to build projects against Qt 5.14. One of the most user visible features is the implementation for scaling for HiDPI displays that was mostly rewritten and hardware acceleration for Qt Quick using a new abstraction layer. It can also take advantage of the Vulcan API.

Advertisements

Noodlings | Desktops and Window Managers, BDLL and openSUSE News

Another podcast and after listening to the final thing… I sound a bit like cardboard. Maybe episode 3 won’t smell like wet newspaper.

Listen here, it’s only 10 minutes and 30 seconds of cringe-worthy material.

Desktops and Window Managers

I view KDE Plasma as the pinnacle of all things that are the Desktop and portal into your digital life. This is of course my own opinion but really, what else can do as much as Plasma, in as little resources and be as flexible as it is.

Xfce is the GTK desktop that is, in my estimation, the benchmark to which all GTK desktops should be measured against. It is what I would call a “classic” Redmond style interface that is familiar to nearly everybody.

i3 is a very interesting window manager, I would still call it a desktop of sorts though the “hard core” users of it may say otherwise. It uses Gnome so it is encumbered by the Gnome limitations. If it could somehow be Xfce based, it would seemingly make more sense. I did some searching and so far as I can tell, I have not been able to find a Kwin based Window manager as opposed to i3.

11 Best Tiling Window Managers for Linux

What this lead me to was a discovery that Plasma has the capabilities of being a pretty darn decent tiling window manager. In my case, I am using some of the power of tiling with the traditional floating window desktop, so, in effect having the best of both worlds there.

BDLL Recap

There is a lot of talk about bringing new users to Linux and Adam Grubbs set up an Ubuntu Laptop similar to what you might buy from an OEM. Adam wanted to see how a new user might get along with a brand new Linux desktop.

The key bit of the conversation was the user’s experience of setting up Lutris. I have historically used Wine or Crossover to install Windows games on Linux and Lutris wasn’t quite as obvious on how to use it.

There was some difficulty of getting going with Linux, icons were a bit different and, better curation of applications could be a benefit. For example, searching for Steam doesn’t necessarily bring up Steam in an application search.

What is the solution?

I don’t think that there is any one particular solution to solve this for everyone. I am also not sure how “user friendly” Linux needs to be. Where Linux would, most certainly benefit:

  • Documentation Improvements to make it easier to become acquainted with the Linux Desktop
  • Something like Clippy as a built in guide to help you out when you are stumped
  • Ultimately, the strength of Linux is the community, be open to help people problem solve their way through Linux.

The Current BDLL Distro Challenge is Endless OS. This can be downloaded from here.

openSUSE Corner

Snapshots 20190902 20190829

Multiple YaST Packages trickled down with updates.

Libreoffice 6.3.1.1 removed some patches.

The welcome window for openSUSE received more translations for global users with an update of the opensuse-welcome 0.1.6 package.

openSUSE MicroOS, specifically the core appliance buildier Kiwi, has been further updated, it added required cryptomount coding for for EFI boot.

openSUSE MicroOS is designed for container hosts an optimized for large deployments. It benefits from the rolling of Tumbleweed and the SUSE Linux Enterprise hardening and scale of deployment. It is optimized for large deployments but is just as capable with a single container-host. Uses the BTRFS snapshots for updates and rollback.

20190902 snapshot has a very exciting change that really was a long time coming with proper PackageKit integration with Tumbleweed. Unless you have a bunch of crazy repositories, PackageKit will now handle your updates just as well as you would have it in Leap.

Snapshot 20190829 received a moderate score of 90 while 20190902 is trending at moderate 86 and 20190904 at a stable score of 93.

What I am doing with openSUSE

I am working with a Linux community member to create an openSUSE Tumbleweed based replacement for IPFire or pfSense. This is still in progress but as of today, I am real excited about it and the prospect of having an openSUSE based firewall / router with all the flexibility and modularity that it brings.

References

Best Tiling Window Managers for Linux on TecMint.com
openSUSE Tumbleweed Snapshot Review
BDLL Regolith Linux and New User Experience
Adam Grubbs Site
EndlessOS Download
CubicleNate Noodlings | Episode 02

Outside the Cubicle | Gladiator Geartrack Gardening Pack

In my quest to remove inefficiency in my life and make activities more functional, I purchased this Gladiator Geartrack Gardening Pack by Whirlpool Corporation. I want to make it understood that I do work for Whirlpool and they in no way sponsor, support or endorse any of this. I was given an opportunity to get this pack at a bit of a discount and the purpose of this kit “fit the bill” for an organizational pain-point at my house. My gardening items have been sitting in a 5 gallon bucket in the garage in the corner with several other items scattered about on the floor or haphazardly shoved on a shelf.

I am continually looking for ways to enhance efficiency. I have more tasks to do in any single day, generally more than I can effectively accomplish. Time is short when running a house, being the sole provider, home educating and wanting to give my kids as many fun or interesting memories through their childhood. Gardening is an activity that I enjoy. It doesn’t take up much time and I can teach my kids a thing or two about caring for plants.

This is another “best effort” attempt at learning Kdenlive, a video editing software package for Linux. I am running this on openSUSE Tumbleweed seemingly trouble free. Feel free to be critical of the video, I have my list of things I need to do in order to improve video content creation. Maybe… someday… it won’t be terrible. I also can evaluate all my areas for improvement on presentation of an idea or thing.

Unboxing, packaging engineering

Since spending time in the product engineering area, I have become more and more impressed with packaging engineering. So much time and effort is put into making sure that products arrive to their destination without damage and most consumers just chuck it and don’t take the time to appreciate it.

Installation

The instructions that come bundled with this pack are nicely detailed. As long as you have the least bit of knowledge and the right tools, following these instructions will be no problem.

The tools I used were a cordless drill, stud finder and a level. It is recommended that you fasten the Geartrack into the wall studs for maximum strength

Quality of Components

The quality of components is pretty clear when you handle them. The Geatrack Channel is solid and stout. It doesn’t have even the slightest bit of flimsiness to it. I think you would be hard pressed to really mess it up.

Gladiator Geartrack Gardening Pack

The hooks are all of solid steel construction with pretty generous welds. The spring retention keeps the hooks in place so they are not likely to just fall off the Geartrack.

The gardening basket is a fine piece of kit that is not only well made, it gives you more storage options than I can immediately use which is far better than the typical insufficiently featured and lacking utility designs you often find. It should also be noted, I don’t see myself ever having to handle this gingerly in fear of breaking something off of it. The chosen materials are not lacking in strength at all and looks to have many, many hard and abusive years ahead of it.

Populated with Items

After I installation, I was able to place all my gardening equipment in the provided basket as well as hang other things on this system. I ended up placing my small garden hose on one set of hooks and hanging a netted sack of outdoor fun equipment like soccer balls and things.

Final Thoughts

I am quite pleased with this purchase. It truly is a fine kit that I will happily use for many years to come. The big selling points for me is the quality of the build, ease of installation and how extensible the system is designed. There are numerous home organization products out there, many for much cheaper but the nature of this design and the time it has been on market as well as the backing of a company that has a track-record of long term product support. All this does inspire me to make more purchases of this system.

I want to note again, I am a Whirlpool employee and I have not been sponsored, or endorsed to make these remarks. These are my own statements. There are official corporate reviews, installation guides and the like. I am just a dude that happens to like what his employer makes… which frankly makes it enjoyable to work for such a company.

In my mission to further simplify and organize my life, there will be future Gladiator purchases. It is simply put, a buyer’s remorse-free purchase. A better organized and efficient life makes for a more enjoyable life.

References

Gladiator Gardening Geartrack Pack Official Video

Gladiator GaragWorks product information

Kdenlive Home

 

Outside the Cubicle | Sledgehammer Repair, Handle Replacement

Sledgehammer Repair.png

Last fall (2018) I broke my “new” sledge hammer. I had maybe gotten all of 3 months of use out of it and snapped the wooden handle right below the business end. After much consternation, I picked up a fiberglass handle instead of a wooden one mostly due to the feel and finish of the handle.

I started out by removing the remnants of the old handle out of the the sledge as to get it ready for the new handle. This was a more aggravating process than anticipated. Lots of drilling, chiseling and hammering to free the steel from the splintered wood.

Outside of working and playing in Linux, I have always enjoyed working with my hands on projects. Sometimes, my fingers need a break from the keyboard and I need to break or fix something.

This is my folly and success in fixing a sledge hammer. The installation of the handle was academically not a complicated process but the execution did have its challenges.

I am trying to learn Kdenlive in hopes that I can become effective with the software. This is a cobbling together, learning to edit video through the various features. It’s been enjoyable and this is my cobbled together result.

References

Truper Handle from Lowe’s

Kdenlive Home

YouTube Video Link

KDE Plasma 5.15.0 on openSUSE Tumbleweed

There has been quite a lot of buzz in the news about the first stable release of Plasma in 2019, version 5.15.0, released on 12 February 2019. It came to openSUSE Tumbleweed a few days later and a few days after that, I started updating my various systems running Tumbleweed. I am not going to cover all the changes and improvements, there is plenty of that available to read. Instead, this is my experience with the upgrade process on the first three Tumbleweed machines.

My primary machine isn’t generally first to get the latest updates, because I am using it nearly all the time so I will begin the updates on other machines, incidentally, all of which are Dell. The first machine that I performed the updates is a Dell Latitude E6440. There isn’t a whole lot of software on this one as it’s primary focus is for educational related activities. There aren’t any community repositories on this machine so the update required no intervention at all. The next machine, a Dell Inspiron 20 3048, does do a lot for me but doesn’t have too many community maintained repositories. It too went without incident. Lastly, my primary machine, also a Dell Latitude E6440 but with more memory, storage and a dedicated AMD GPU.

This machine has quite a bit of software on it. I do try things out but I don’t always remove the applications or community maintained repositories. It took it as an opportunity to start trimming out some additional repositories, thankfully, zypper makes that process easy. My primary machine was trimmed down to 36 repositories. Then I performed the update.

sudo zypper dup

Zypper ran through, did its thing, asked me about a couple python packages an one package I installed that I already knew was “broken” by not having a dependency. After Zypper calculated everything out and I agreed to the update. Just as every other Tumbleweed update goes, this one proceeded without incident.

All three machines had but only one small issue. They didn’t want to leave Plasma to reboot, specifically, selecting “reboot” or “halt” and even “logout” did not actually perform those actions, Instead, I ran in terminal:

sudo systemctl reboot

There may be a better way of doing a reboot, if you are aware of such, please let me know. A few moments later, the machine started up without incident and what I may be most excited about is that, everything still, just works.

KDE Plasma Upgrade 5.15.0 KInfoCenter

I did receive one pleasant surprise, my Bluetooth keyboard, for the first time communicated that it was low on power instead of just going unresponsive. I was able to see a “10% Warning” pop up notification. I thought that was pretty slick. I have been enjoying the status and warnings with wireless Logitech devices for years but this was the first for Bluetooth. Very well done.

Final Thoughts

Nothing is ever perfect but my experience with using openSUSE Tumbleweed has been pretty fantastic for the last two years. I don’t have to worry about an update breaking my system or crossing my fingers when the operating system base iterates to a new version. Not a single piece of software has broken or had any regressions. The two applications I check for issues, Kdenlive and the Open Broadcaster Studio, continue to work just the same. I experienced zero appreciable downtime with this update which is another tribute to all those involved with openSUSE, KDE Plasma and ever other application so many graciously pour their energy into and permitting me the use of this finely engineered, fantastic distribution of Linux.

Further Reading

KDE Plasma 5.15.0 Announcement

Tumbleweed Snapshots News Announcement for 21 February 2019

Just a Christmas Day Blathering | Linux Makes it Better

CubicleNate-Christmas-2018-2Christmastime is my favorite time of the year but I am not so much a fan of the cold and the darkness. Regardless, I love all that Christmas is supposed to be about along with some of the trappings of the pop culture effect on Christmas. Growing up, much of the Christmas time celebration with family didn’t take place until just after December 25th. I enjoyed the old-world twelve days of Christmas style of celebrating Christmas time. Starting December 1st we would celebrate Advent but would generally put the tree up on or near Christmas Eve. The First day of Christmas was understood as December 25th and we would keep our tree up through at least to Epiphany. Today, it seems like Christmas starts November 1st, if department stores merchandising has anything to say about it. I realize that this early debut of Christmas irritates many but I don’t mind at all. For me, when I stop passing out Halloween candy at 8pm, I turn on the Christmas music and begin that transition. It is what makes the cold, dark days of the winter so much more bearable.

There are some downsides to this time of year, the elevated levels of hustle and bustle which makes it easy in which to get lost in the chaos. Keeping everything straight and on the right course is a continual challenge. This is where Linux makes the holiday season much better, more efficient. It is kind of like a life-hack that makes doing more possible. Beyond the obvious like tracking everything in a calendar, there are other tools Linux makes easily available. Life gets real busy this time of year, and without the right tools it is real easy forego the activities for which you look most forward, the things you enjoy, like put up Christmas lights.

Christmas Lights-2018-01.jpg
They are all LED lights… except for that wreath.

Every year, I make it a point to add to my Christmas movie collection. You can’t have Christmas without the seasonally appropriate movies. I’ll pick up a DVD or two and use Handbrake to create a digital copy and use VLC to play them back throughout the Christmas season.

Another great thing about Christmastime is the baked goods. There are a number of things I like to bake, cookies, pies, pumpkin rolls… I do it as often as I can for school, church and family functions. Keeping it all straight and accessible is easy, thanks to software like Gnome-Recipes.

Dell Inspiron 20 3048-09-Gnome Recipes

Sure, you can use books, papers and sticky notes to save your recipes but utilizing technology makes it so much more efficient. Thanks to the power and efficiency of openSUSE Linux, I am able to keep my recipes at the ready on my Kitchen Command Center.

Christmas-Cookies-2018-01.jpg

I am not a fan of the cold, but I do enjoy Christmastime very much. The dark and cold of Southwestern Michigan is much more bearable when you have a joys of family, delicious food and the lights of Christmastime. All the more reason to extend the season to the right and left of December 25th.

The way I see it, today is the first day of the twelve days of Christmas, but maybe the next eleven days think about some way you can spread some Christmas kindness to the people around you. Just because the presents have been exchanged and the terrestrial radio stations stopped playing the Christmas classics doesn’t mean the season is over. There is nothing stopping you from giving the gift of Linux… The hustle of the season is over, take a little time to genuinely share some Christmas kindness with those around you.

Further Reading

https://software.opensuse.org/package/handbrake

Gnome Recipes on openSUSE Tumbleweed

openSUSE Tumbleweed on Dell Inspiron 20 3048 All-In-One Desktop

Ceiling Fan Failure | Repair Instead of Replace

ICanFixIt

Not long ago, I had a ceiling fan stop spinning and start making an ever so slight buzzing noise. I thought maybe it was as a result of switching the rotation direction of the fan. Switching it back didn’t change anything either. I just shut off the fan motor to end the buzzing and pondered about how much I dread changing ceiling fans especially since the fan in the living room match this failed dining room fan. I really wanted to repair this Hampton Bay Ceiling fan rather than replace it.

Ceiling Fan Not Spinning-02

After doing a little Internet research, searching “repair ceiling fan”, I got a lot of cruft and useless information. Next I tried to narrow it down to “ceiling fan not spinning” and “replace ceiling fan motor” to only find more non-solutions. Then I stumbled upon this site that identified the capacitor as a possible cause of failure.

Then I did nothing about it until I was gifted a broken fan.

Donor Fan

I had no idea if this donor fan had a compatible capacitor not but it was worth a try. I started out by pulling apart the ceiling fan.

Ceiling Fan Dismantle.jpg

I removed the bulbs, shades then the three screws that hold the light kit in place. Upon removing the capacitor and it was very obvious that the capacitor had failed as it had very prominent bulging on two sides of it.

Bulging Capacitor.jpg

I took note that this is a 280V 4.5µF x 6µF x 5µF capacitor and decided to do some searching on the web for prices, because, I wasn’t sure how much such a thing would cost. I’m sure you can imagine my happy surprise when I discovered that the donor fan had the exact same capacitor my ceiling fan.

Donor Fan Capacitor

This was enough for me to commit fully the project. I removed the old capacitor, marked the switch side gray wire striped the wire ends to ready it for the donor capacitor. The rest of the wires were in the exact same configuration as the original so wiring this in was trivial.

Removing Dead Capacitor.jpg

I used 16-14 AWG Vinyl Insulated Butt Splice and prepared the capacitor to be installed in the ceiling fan. I tagged the gray leg that went to the switch on the donor and checked to see it was the same leg on the crippled unit.

Donor Capacitor Prepared.jpg

I realized that I wasn’t sure if the motor was damaged or not by the failed capacitor but there was no appreciable risk in trying. After crimping the capacitor into the fan, I flipped the switch and pulled the chain to have the desired result of spinning blades.

Ceiling Fan Spinning-01.jpg

I stopped, looked at my success and had a moment of smiling from ear to ear. As much as I liked this look of the light kit hanging down from the fan. I didn’t have any interest in bumping my head into it.

Ceiling Fan Spinning-02

Since the shades were off, I took this as an opportunity to hand wash the light shades, dust the blades and body to shine the thing up before completing its reassembly.

Final Thoughts

I get a lot of satisfaction out of fixing things. I call this project a great success. No money out of pocket and only just over an hour of time invested. How much money did I save? A 52-Inch, 5-blade fan of similar design is about $80 but to have matching fans, I would have had to buy two fans and spend the time removing and installing the new fans. Now, I get to keep my 6 year old fans going just a bit longer and I saved quite a bit of time too. Now, I just have to dispose of the remains of the donor fan in an ecologically sound manner.

Further Reading

Ceiling Fan Capacitors

Replace a Ceiling Fan Motor

Ceiling Fan Capacitor on Amazon

16-14 AWG Vinyl Insulated Butt Splice

The End of Google Plus — Just Another Blathering

Google Plus Grave StoneIt never gained as much popularity as some other social media platforms but I liked Google Plus. It was (is) a social media platform whose users seemed to focus on positive things, projects and so forth. It lacked the kind of cruft that keeps me from spending much time on other social media platforms.

My primary reason for liking Google Plus was that it seemed as though it was used for productive conversation and collaboration. I have enjoyed the positive sharing and discussions on interesting topics from different Google community Groups. I wonder where a few of these Google Communities will find another home such as the “Going Linux Podcast” and some retro tech Communities for the Amiga and Commodore 64.

What I like About Google Plus

I really enjoy the tech content on Google Plus. Two of which being the Going Linux Podcast and Linux in the Hamshack. I am a regular listener to the podcasts and like to participate from time to time. I read pretty much everything posted there. It is active enough to keep me interested but not so active that I can’t keep up.

I like to keep up on the Solus Project from their Google Plus Community Page, though admittedly, it hasn’t been as active as it once was but this has been my preferred method for keeping up to date on how that project has been rolling along.

Commodore-64-Computer-sm.pngGoogle Plus has become a kind of bastion of a lot of the Retro Tech communities too. I follow Commodore and Amiga groups where I have seen some fascinating projects. I have recently learned about some other new hardware initiatives for the Amiga 1200 and 4000 or something rather fun was this Commodore 64 Paper craft that I found on one of the community pages.

Despite the somewhat clunky interface, my main reason for liking Google Plus is that it doesn’t seem to have any of the cruft you see on some other social media sites. It’s just a nice place to visit that just doesn’t have the propensity for polarizing or aggravating conversations. It is a nice place where people happily share their hobbies.

The Problem with Google Plus

I will not pretend like Google Plus was all peaches and cream. The fact is, the layout of Google Plus got a little weird and never recovered. I liked how it looked much better some 4 years ago and I never utilized the circles. I think I understand what the designers were going for but I just didn’t want to invest the time and effort in meta-tagging people and things. I knew where people belonged. I didn’t particularly care for the three column layout, although, not a horrible thing, it was just a bit more challenging to figure out what was new. It took some time to scan through to find specific posts as they would shift around.

Google Plus 3 columns.png

The interface for Google Plus was a bit cumbersome. It took a few extra clicks to get to where I wanted to go but once you got used to this quirkiness, it wasn’t so bad. I would say, it felt like Google kind of gave up on Google Plus about two years ago. They didn’t really continue to invest in it, which I think is unfortunate as it resulted in it became a bit of a social media joke.

Final Thoughts

I don’t have a replacement for Google Plus at this time. I have heard about and just started looking into Diaspora but I don’t have the mental space to figure it out. I also like Mastodon but I don’t have the WordPress auto share tie to use it.

I have enjoyed the pleasant Google Plus communities for years and they will be missed. I hope that they will find another place to land to continue to exist. Knowing that Google Plus only has about 10 months of life left, I am not going to abandon it. I will continue to use it until the bitter end.

Related Links

Diaspora Foundation

Mastodon Federated Social Network

Commodore Amiga Revitalized with New Retro Hardware

Going Linux Podcast Google Plus Community Page

Linux in the Hamshack

WordPress Mastodon Share Plugin

Commodore 64 Paper craft

Solus Project

Amiga Google Plus Community Page

Commodore 64 Google Plus Community Page

HP Touchpad with Plasma Mobile and openSUSE — Fall Time Blathering

HP_TouchPad_Title-2.png

After working with Plasma Mobile on the Nexus 5X and although it is not quite ready for prime time, it is nearly there. It is so close, I can taste it and I am very ready to see Plasma Mobile as all I see on my mobile. I am also continually seeing interest on the aging HP Touchpad. It too is a fine piece of hardware that is still very capable and now, I can’t help but wonder how much work it would be to port Plasma Mobile to that hardware. I see that there has already been work with the Halium Project for the HP Touchpad. Unfortunately, my understanding at what goes on at the base hardware level is EXTREMELY limited.

Plasma Mobile Experience

Nexus 5X-PlasmaMoble-01The look and feel of Plasma Mobile is pretty great. Like all things Plasma, it is highly customizable. What that means to me, I can make my Mobile experience exactly the way I want, not something dictated by a corporation as to how they intend for me to use my technology.

So then I thought, I know Plasma Mobile is still in early stages, many things are still being taken from Plasma Desktop but that really should only require some adjustments. Over time, Plasma Mobile, much like the Desktop Counterpart could very well end up being the nicest, cleanest and yet most customiziable interface ever.

The HP Touchpad

HP_TouchPad-12-LineageOS.pngThe Touchpad, by today’s standards is not spectacular, but it isn’t terrible either. Its CPU is a dual core Scorpion clocked at 1200 MHz. It has 1 GiB of RAM and either 16 or 32 GiB of storage. It is certainly adequate for many tasks. I can’t help but think how fantastic this Touchpad would be with proper Linux, access to the breadth of open source software.

HaliumThe good news is, the possibility of having a working Plasma Mobile interface on the HP Touchpad may be closer to reality than not. According to the Halium Project on GitHub, three have already been tests completed successfully. This is, unfortunately far outside my skill sets so there isn’t much I can offer here but I am watching the project with great interest.

How Useful Could It Be?

kontactI know multimedia is the thing… streaming Netflix, watching YouTube and GPU intensive games is the common usage for tablets but that is not what I am interested in doing with it. There are far more interesting and productive activities. Using the Touchpad as my window into my digital recipe collection, reference technical documents, access to Kontact, the KDE Personal Information Manager, or at least parts of it for time and task management.

HP Touchpad with Plasma Mobile and openSUSE

opensuse-logo2Then I did some more thinking. I have only begun dabbling in the fantastic Open Build Service, but what if that system could be used to build an openSUSE Tumbleweed distribution specific to the HP Touchpad, tested by the openSUSE openQA and released in a similar rolling snapshot to the regular openSUSE Tumbleweed. Even with a fraction of the stability, reliability of upgrades and the breadth of software, this would be a fantastic improvement as compared to what is available today. It would be a gigantic library of goodness with many the most useful tools readily available.

Now What?

Even though the HP Touchpad is far past its end of life, I continue to use it on a daily basis. I am very interested in seeing the HP Touchpad get a more genuine Linux upgrade and would like to toy with it now but I have to personally determine, do I want to take my HP Touchpad out of service? Would I even have the time test and experiment on it or do I continue to use it as it is? It is very usable today and works mostly well but a project like this might give it enough life for perhaps several more years and be more useful than it is now. For now, I will keep tabs on it but maybe in the very near future I will be able tip my toes in this arena.

Further Reading

Halium for HP Touchpad Project on GitHub

HP Touchpad Specifications

Open Build Service

Halium Project

open QA

openSUSE Tumbleweed Home

HP Touchpad in 2018

Plasma Mobile installation on Nexus 5X

KDE Kontact Personal Information Manager

Windows 95 on openSUSE Linux

As I was watching my oldest son play Minecraft, I was rather amused by the buttons and widgets for the interface, they were very Windows 95. Although I was more of an Amiga user at that time, we did have a Windows 95 machine in the house to do… Windowsy things like that whole Microsoft Office thing. Something my Dad needed for work or his community, local government involvement. Regardless, fond memories of the mid to late 90s and computers.

I told my boy, rather excitedly about Windows 95 and to my surprise, there is an electron app I can install into Linux, Windows or Mac OS.

Installation

I downloaded the RPM from here:

https://github.com/felixrieseberg/windows95

and installed it,

sudo zypper in ~/Downloads/rpms/windows95-linux-1.3.0.x86_64.rpm

Upon running it, I was greeted with a start screen. For the purposes of my level of usage, the big center button “Start Windows 95” is all I need, for now.

Win95-01

Once it is booted up… or rather the state is restored there is a nice message from the developer and a round of Solitaire ready to go.

Win95-03.png

For nostalgia sake, I played a game of FreeCell, and won.

Win95-04.png

As far as FreeCell games go, the Windows 95 version is still my favorite… for reasons I don’t exactly know. The version on the Amiga or KDE Plasma’s KPatience are absolutely better but something about this version always leaves me with a smile.

It is also somewhat noteworthy that the idea of the Control Panel is still in use on KDE Plasma. Not sure if we can thank Microsoft for this or not as I do recall a “Preferences Folder” on the Amiga Workbench.

Win95-05.png

After enthusiastically showing my boy a Windows 95 computer, he looked at it, paused and just said, “cool.” and went back to playing Minecraft.

Final Thoughts

He was right, it is cool and there is a lot you can do with this. At this time, I was not able to get network access to do any meaningful and with only 53 MB free on the C: Drive, there isn’t much I can install. BUT, if I rebuild the image… there are several old games I would like to see if I can get running in it, although, not the most efficient way to do so, it would be fun, just because.

References

Windows 95 on GitHub