Saturday, March 10, 2018

This adding a little eye candy... linux info and keyboard.

Friday, March 9, 2018

New Keyboard and still on Solus

Been sticking with Solus operating system (linux).  The version is up to 3.99, alllllmooostt 4!  It should be incremental and likely not very noticeable.  I believe snap will be a bigger part of the store and open additional possibilities to grab software from other repos.

The only other thing regarding Solus is that they do plan on shifting their UI code base from GTK+ to Qt+ at some point.  I believe the work has already begun.

Keyboard... I love mechanical keyboards!  I have been using an alps-like switch keyboard from Matias for awhile now.  The only problem is you cannot find backlit keys for these switches...  and my room is always so dark it is impossible to see the keys.  I can generally type without looking but sometimes I get shifted and then have a hard time resetting.  With a backlit keyboard that takes a half second and I am back on track.

So... I decided to purchase another Pok3r.  Normally I purchase mechanicals that have the Cherry Brown keys, but this time I decided to try something different.  I have heard a lot of good things about the Cherry RED keys that I went with that.

So far so good.  They  are quieter than the browns, and are linear (smooth stroke from start to finish, no catch to indicate activation).  They have about the same spring rating so the keys to have a bit of firmness to them which I like.  I am often a bottom out typist, even with the browns or alps, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of difference to me in how it has affected my typing speed (which was always abysmal anyway).

I purchased the Pok3r LE which is like the normal Pok3r but MUCH heavier and more solidly built.  Honestly I could use it as a deadly weapon it is so stiff and heavy.  The more robust packaging does cost a little extra.  Most people would probably be better off with a regular Pok3r... The LE also comes with PBT keycaps as opposed to ABS.

I don't know if most people care about the keycaps...  PBT is stiffer and heavier than ABS.  PBT also retains more color over time and does not wear as quickly.  Over time you might notice your ABS keycaps develop a shine (from your fingers smacking/rubbing them constantly).  Because PBT is heavier, it has a slightly deeper tone to it as you type (especially when you bottom out).

I BELIEVE the keycaps are also double shot and PBT for the Pok3r, which also adds to the cost.

Either way, so far it FEELS like it is worth the money and it is barely the tiniest bit louder than my matias quiet click keyboard it is replacing, and it feels pretty good to type on.

Tactile switches (like the Matias alps or Cherry browns) are generally better for typing, while linear switches are generally better for gaming.  Tactile switches often come with a sound indicator... they are called "clicky".  Cherry makes another type of switch called the Cherry Blue which is tactile AND noisy (on purpose).  This click is an audible version of the tactile part of the key press.  Many pure typists like that.

So now, at home, I am using my Cherry Red keys and at work my Cherry Browns.  In storage I have a Cherry Blue and a Matias Alp/quiet keyboard.  I like both of them, especially the Matias, and while the Cherry Blue keyboard has backlighting, the clicky sounds actually drive me a little bonkers.

That's it for now!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Continuing foray back into the linux world: Solus

So Elementary OS was fine!  Gorgeous linux.  I wanted something a little different.

Elementary OS is based on Ubuntu, all well and good as Ubuntu does excellent work to put out a version of linux that everyone can use, everyday.

So after I got ElementaryOS working juuuuuuuuust the way I wanted it to work, I scrapped it and installed Solus.

Solus is an equally pretty OS, very nice to look at and the UI is somewhat configurable/theme-able based on Gnome/GTK3+...  But Solus is not otherwise based on an existing distribution.  It is a hand-crafted linux ( that has its strong and weak points as almost any linux does.

Strong points:
1. hand crafted with love
2. attractive
3. low resource usage
4. rolling updates
5. nothing set in stone

Weak points:
1. nothing set in stone
2. uses its own packaging system
3. limited applications/libraries in software store/repositories

Solus supports multiple UIs, including Mate, Cinnamon, etc.  I chose the home-crafted UI called Budgie.  It is pretty much gnome compatible (based on GTK3+).  I have read that in the future (next year?) it will be converted to QT (of KDE underpinnings fame).  That could have some serious "native" application repercussions, it will be interesting to see how it is handled.

To date I have been able to get my computer back to where I can do everything I want to do, email (though I preferred ElementaryOS's homegrown email application over Thunderbird), browsing, gaming (Star Stable Online and Diablo 3, plus native linux games on Steam), coding (some nice syntax editors available), and office-work (excel, word, etc.).

That is pretty much all I *need* to do on this computer and I am able to do it.

It has been pretty stable, except for one update that hosed my task bar a little, but that was very easy to fix.

INSTALLING Solus gave me a bit of a headache, but in the end it turned out that it was my fault for a lack of observance.  Once I looked CLOSELY at the installation application I figured out what I was doing wrong and remedied the situation.  Also, the fancy automated disk took isn't half bad... and I was able to mount my extra disks and shove my documents, and other large data folders off onto other drives, create a gaming drive, etc.

One weird thing, the choices of disk format support that comes with Solus was different from Elementary OS and is likely very different from Ubuntu.  It was a little annoying to not have the FULL RANGE of file system types to choose from when initializing my drives.  Like... why ReiserFS (3) and not Reiser4?  Why not XFS?  I don't NEED those and, in fact in the case of some Steam games cannot USE those file systems because of their addressing, so I just ended up using venerable ext4 for everything.  It works.  I would like to have tried btrfs though...

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Elementary OS, part 2

Moving along, I found a very very simple screen capture/recording application that seems like it will meet my recording needs:  Kazam.  Very few options... you can select the output type, location and where you want sound recorded from.  Boom.

Now I just need to find a decent video editing tool.  I am tempted to see if I can install my windows tool in Wine, but... let's see if there are any super-simple drag and drop tools out there already.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Elementary OS

Well, despite my attachment to Steam on Windows, I decided to shift back to Linux.  I did a little research and, while I appreciate the efficiency of Slack, Arch or some other distro, I went with a little more flash and simplicity at the same time.

Elementary OS is an Ubuntu-based distribution.  It has a strong following and a solid development community (I donated money for the download to help keep that alive).

Elementary OS is designed to look somewhat like Mac OS X, but not quite... it borrows elements.

It had been a few years since I had last used Linux of any flavor (or BSD for that matter) but so far it has been relatively painless.  The download was quick, and I was able to push the ISO onto a small USB stick, boot into it and kick off the installation process.

Installation was simple but I wish they had a simpler process for allocating mount points; I have a pretty messed up set up, but that is all on me, not the fault of the distro.  Anyway, after several clicks the installation process plowed through and the system rebooted, I pulled out the USB stick and I had a full blown version of Elementary up and running on my PC.

The next part that took most of the day was getting it configured (read app installs) to the way I wanted it.  This included installing Wine/PlayOnLinux so I could install my favorite games:  Diablo 3 and Star Stable Online.  Believe it or not it was pretty painless and I have both games running... and in fact, SSO runs BETTER in Wine than it did on Windows 10 with all UI options checked.  Weird.  Diablo 3 is a little stuttery at times, but fully playable.

I still need to do some tweaking so I can record and such... but at the time I am writing this I am listening to Pandora, texting my daughter on Skype and earlier created a presentation for a Sunday school class...  pretty much anything I need or want to do on my PC is here... and in fact the development environment is better than Windows.

Well that is it for me for now.  I will try to update soon.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Recent Reading

So while I still hearken back to amazing old sci-fi and fantasy writers I have had a difficult task in trying to find books from modern authors that I like.

Fortunately I have kids who like to read and I have actually found that I prefer some of the stories written for older children/younger teens than a lot of the tripe out there for adult readers.

There are two series (final book in one coming out in November) that I have read in the past couple of weeks:
1) Keepers of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger...
2) ...and the Pegasus series by Kate O'Hearn

Both stories are sort of based in Mythology.  Keepers focuses on a girl who finds out she is an elf who was raised by humans and watched over by a mysterious group of "rebel" elves for a greater purpose.

The Pegasus series focuses on a girl who, through the ages, had the power of the Olympians passed on to her through her maternal line.  It is awakened at one point and a number of adventures ensue.

What I like about the stories is that they contain a certain innocence.  They focus on love, honor, friendship.  They are action stories and both feature strong female roles which tends to be a rarity.  They address current societal issues without being preachy as well, but they are very well done and enjoyable reads.  So much so that we are meeting the author for the final book in the Keepers series in November, and I have ordered/pre-ordered the new Valkyrie series from Kate O'Hearn.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Games I've Been Playing Recently

This is a fluff post.  Nothing to really see here, but here are the games I have played the most, recently:

1. Diablo III
2. Civilization VI
3. Civilization V
4. Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines
5. Bioshock 2: Remastered

I surprised myself by reinstalling VTM:B and playing it.  This is an OLD game.  While the graphics are not great, the storyline, music and other aspects of the game are so good that as an overall package it is still a great game to play.  There are still active mods out there too:

Unoffical Patch (by Wesp - which everything else is based on)
Pen and Paper (decent - re-enables histories, changes game play a bit)
Camarilla Edition (Good, changes a lot about the game, makes it more challenging)
Clan Quest (excellent mod - uses Camarilla Edition)
Antitribu (a little rough around the edges - alternate clans)

There are also lots of skin mods out there as well to try and help beautify the game... hard to do that but hey, can't fault folks for trying!