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popey blog: Contributing without Code

Tue, 2020-12-29 12:00 - Last checked: 1 hour 7 min ago

In the mid-90s I was an avid user of online conferencing system called CIX (Compulink Information eXchange). CIX was built using the CoSy Conferencing system from the University of Guelph, which has since been open sourced. Think of it like a dial-up or telnet-accessed forum or message board with a nerd-heavy userbase.

Each day I’d dial-up to download messages, then read & respond offline. Later in the day I’d re-connect to send my responses and download more messages. The graphical desktop application AMEOL (A Most Excellent Offline-Reader) presented the topics and threads in an easy-to-read way.

There was a...

popey blog: Notifications on Task Completion

Mon, 2020-12-28 12:00 - Last checked: 1 hour 7 min ago

Like many in development-oriented roles, I’m frequently running long-executing tasks on my workstation, while I get on with a sword fight, or making a cup of coffee.

More seriously, I do often leave a software build, or packaging script running, while I context-switch to answer support requests, proof-read a blog post, or prepare for a meeting. Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded when that long-runner finishes, otherwise I might forget it’s sat there, all lonely in another workspace somewhere on my computer.

Enter undistract-me by the ever-excellent Jonathan Lange. This solves the forgetfulness problem I have by...

popey blog: Double Your Network Speed with This One Trick

Sun, 2020-12-27 12:00 - Last checked: 1 hour 7 min ago

The trick: Read the manual.

I pay for 100Mb/s downstream Internet connection at home. For months I’ve been getting around 50Mb/s at my desk, and 100Mb/s over wifi on my phone, under optimal conditions. Here’s how I ‘fixed’ the ‘slow’ Internet (essentially LAN speed) connection at my desk.

I use a bunch of TP-LINK “Powerline” adapters around the house to get wired networking to each room.

“Well, that’s your first problem, Alan."

Yeah, yeah, I know that they’re not perfect, and I could get a faster WiFi access point, and flood the house with Cat 6 Ethernet cable. But I haven’t, I use PowerLine adapters. I am where I am.

I have a combination of this...

popey blog: My 'Must-Have' GNOME Extensions

Sat, 2020-12-26 12:00 - Last checked: 1 hour 7 min ago

I currently run Ubuntu 20.10 on my main desktop PC. GNOME Shell is the default desktop, and while it’s great, one very useful feature is the ability to supplement or alter the default behaviour with extensions and other add-ons. Ubuntu ships with a couple of extensions by default, but I’ve added a few on top, and this blog post details what they are and how to get them, in no particular order…

Sound Switcher Indicator

I have multiple input and output audio devices on my computer. A USB-attached Focusrite Scarlett Solo mixer enables my to attach an XLR-connected microphone and headphones to the PC. I have a small desktop speaker which I use when I’m tired of wearing headphones....

popey blog: Keyboards, Old and New

Fri, 2020-12-25 12:00 - Last checked: 1 hour 7 min ago

Over on r/mk you’ll find a community of mechanical keyboard enthusiasts. People who enjoy collecting, building and showing off their primary computer input device. Like any collector community, it’s a fascinating glimpse into the world of people passionate about something we all likely have used, but don’t feel especially invested in.

I’m certainly no MK afficianado, but I use keyboards all day every day, so like wine, I can appreciate a relatively good one, but I’ll also tolerate a cheap and crap one if pushed. There’s three keyboards I use on a daily basis, both old and new.

Model M

This venerable IBM Model M keyboard has been in my possession since the mid 1990’s. It...

popey blog: Deliciously Easy Chicken Wings Recipe

Thu, 2020-12-24 12:00 - Last checked: 1 hour 7 min ago

I like chicken wings. I really like chicken wings. Before The Event, when I used to travel internationally, often to the USA, I’d frequently partake of some delicious wings. On one notable occasion in California, I think I had chicken wings every day for a week, from different restaurants. I like them a lot.

Ideally I feel chicken wings should be slathered in some kind of sauce, I’m not picky, there’s room for many sauces in this world. But I prefer something sticky, sweet and often spicy. Underneath that sauce should be found a crispy coating enclosing our wing, on the bone.

I’m not going to go on and on about this lyrically like an American “recipe”. Let’s do it British-style, ingredients,...

popey blog: Snap Tips

Wed, 2020-12-23 12:00 - Last checked: 1 hour 7 min ago

As you may or may not be aware, I work for Canonical on Snapcraft and Ubuntu. I use Ubuntu as my daily driver, and spend a lot of time maintaining snap packages, and listening to developers and users talk about software packaging, publishing, delivery and use.

Over time I’ve collected a bunch of virtual notes in my head. Much of it has been turned into documentation, but often the information is rather spread out. I wanted to “brain dump” a bunch of notes, for common things people ask me about snap, snapd and snapcraft. Here’s the first set, about snap / snapd. A later post will focus on snapcraft.

The source for this page is on...

popey blog: Goodbye Pebble - Hello FitBit

Tue, 2020-12-22 12:00 - Last checked: 1 hour 7 min ago

I’ve never really been a massive watch nerd, my daily driver had been a Casio F-91W - the choice of the terrorist (apparently) - and retro classic.

I’d seen other nerds using Pebble smart watches (monochrome, more industrial looking), and absorbed their positive influences about the devices. I wasn’t super enamoured about the overall design of the watch though, and it appeared to have some limitations I wasn’t happy about.

However, in 2015 when the Pebble Time came along as a crowdfunding campaign, some of those concerns seemed to have been addressed. In May 2015...

popey blog: Blogging with Hugo

Mon, 2020-12-21 12:00 - Last checked: 1 hour 7 min ago

Some years ago I switched my blog from Wordpress to Nikola. I wrote a blog post about the move, but within a year or so, I’d pretty much stopped blogging completely.

More recently I discovered Hugo, and used it for a couple of other sites I own. popeyspades is a simple blog to promote a game server I was running at the time.

Make A Linux App is a single-serving site, which seeks to promote app development for Linux, and disuade the proliferation of Linux distributions.

Hugo is pretty...

popey blog: Counting to 100 Million

Sun, 2020-12-20 12:00 - Last checked: 1 hour 7 min ago

This article previously appeared on I’ve moved it here to consolidate my blogging

About 10-15 years ago, back in the heady days of Hampshire Linux User Group, we had a Wiki. It ran a heavily patched version of UseModWiki that we’d modified to add anti-spam and anti-abuse protection. We’d affectionately called it “AbuseMod”. It’s still kinda there, but I don’t think the content is ever touched. We...


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