Wonderful Things...

Last Tuesday, myself and Mark drove off at the crack of dawn from Nottingham, en route to my favourite place in the Universe... Aldeburgh.

We had an appointment with someone at 1pm, which I'll get to. But I never like to leave things until the last moment, so I insisted we leave at 6AM, which meant -with a break for a cooked breakfast- we ended up arriving in Aldeburgh at 10.30, rather earlier than anticipated! [...] 

Continue Reading

First Impressions

I've now been using my "new" (i.e., second-hand and thus old!) Mac Mini for about a week, and it has been very much an enjoyable learning experience! There is much about it (and macOS) that I like a lot; there has also been much that has been mystifying or infuriating 🙂 I thought I would keep a sort-of 'diary' of things I've come across, as I came across them, so that any other Windows or Linux users out there even considering moving to the world of Apple will have at least a taste of what might be in store for them. I should emphasise that what follows is what a complete Mac neophyte (with about 40 years of Windows, Linux and Unix familiarity) is experiencing: I did once touch a G4 Mac back in about 2009, for around 20 minutes. I also once ran a drawing program for about an hour on the original Apple Mac back in 1985. Apart from those two brief brushes with the world of Apple, however, I had precisely zero familiarity with or understanding of macOS... so I came to this completely and utterly 'blind'. Long-term Mac users are probably, therefore, going to be tearing their hair out in despair at my clutzy approach to things, for which I apologise in advance: hold on to those hair follicles!

I should also perhaps explain that I have a very functional Linux PC at hand: my goal was, as far as possible, to match that experience on the Mac Mini, program for program. There may well be better programs available for the Mac than for either Windows or Linux -but learning what they are and how they work is a problem for another day. My present purposes simply require that what I do on my Linux PC I should be able to do equivalently on the Mac. Spoiler alert, however: there are already Mac-specific programs I prefer using to the open source options I've been using for years on Linux and Windows. For example, Apple Mail seems a perfectly decent alternative to Thunderbird; and Safari is a nice-enough browser that I've really cut back on the occasions when I'm running Firefox. There are probably other instances of the same sort of thing that will become apparent as I ramble on... [...] 

Continue Reading

Tentative Steps...

As regular readers will probably know, I'm a bit of a Linux fan: I first installed it in about 1997, with horrible results (no mouse, no network, no graphics, no printer... pretty typical for the time, I think!) I was using Red Hat 8 and 9 (the last desktop distros produced by that company, not the Enterprise Server version they make today) in around 1999/2000. My main laptop was using Fedora 18 or so in 2012. My main desktop used to oscillate back-and-forth between Windows and assorted Linux distros on a monotonously regular basis -but, around 2015, with the advent of Windows 8, I decided to ditch Windows completely. I then did the usual distro hop around the likes of Ubuntu, Fedora and Mint before finally settling down with Manjaro KDE, which (with occasional lapses in other directions) I've been with for years now.

I still maintain Windows virtual machines -and, indeed, the Other Half's PC is resolutely Windows 10 to this day, since there appears to be a general reluctance to ditch the likes of Adobe Photoshop for photograph management from that direction! [...] 

Continue Reading

More Pi(e)!

Giocoso has had its version number bumped again, this time to Version 1.13. The new version is not needed for anyone with an existing functioning version, but includes new software detection code allowing Giocoso to be successfully installed on the Raspberry Pi when it's running Manjaro. Giocoso was previously tested as working correctly on Raspbian (basically, Debian on Raspberry Pi and sometimes called Raspberry Pi OS), but not on the many other distros and operating systems that can be run on the Pi. I don't have the time (nor the inclination!) to test all those OS/Distro/Pi combinations, but I do run Manjaro as my main desktop (on an Intel processor), so I was naturally curious about how it would run on the Pi (OK, as it turns out!) and thus discovered by accident that Giocoso's detection of ImageMagick on that platform was faulty.

Anyway, it's fixed now. [...] 

Continue Reading

Spring Cleaning

A glance at my software downloads page will tell you that it wasn't just Giocoso which had lately developed a problem with accented characters on Manjaro+KDE. In fact, every piece of software I've written which uses the metaflac utility to read FLAC metadata tags suffered from the same problem. Accordingly, all needed to be fixed and all now have been fixed; each utility can therefore be updated whenever you're ready, using the utility name plus the --checkver run-time switch.

In other words, if you wanted to bump AES to its latest version, you'd type aes --checkver. If you needed to upgrade Niente, it would be niente --checkver. And so on. [...] 

Continue Reading

Foreign Character Woes...

As I mentioned a couple of posts back, I recently re-installed Manjaro on a new small form factor Lenovo PC. All has been running well, except that in the last couple of days I noticed that Giocoso had developed a strange habit of not displaying "accented characters" properly: that is, Giocoso suddenly didn't seem able to display letters with their correct diacritic marks, such as é, ê, ß, ö, ç and so on.

For example, this is what Giocoso displayed this morning: [...] 

Continue Reading

Geoblocking Enabled

Not that it makes much difference in the great scheme of things, but just in case you use a VPN service that has servers in either Russia or Belarus: I've blocked visitors from both those countries from accessing this website, until further notice.

Of course, any Russian or Belarusian citizen will be able to VPN their way around such a block, fairly trivially, in their turn... but maybe every little helps. [...] 

Continue Reading

Giocoso 1.10 Released ... And Ukraine Invaded

Well, it seems a bit superfluous to release a slightly-modified version of Giocoso on the day Russia decided to invade Ukraine, on zero rational, reasonable pretext.

But I'm going to do it anyway, albeit briefly: version 1.10 is out, with a new --autocolor (or --autocolour) option. This simply applies the Monopoly™ colour combinations mentioned in the post announcing version 1.09 in a sequential manner, depending on what day of the week it is. If it's a Monday, you'll get Old Kent Road colours; if it's a Tuesday, it'll be the light blues of the Angel Islington; Wednesdays will be Pall Mall purple; Thursdays will be Vine Street Orange; Fridays the scarlet of the Strand; and Saturdays will be the bright yellows of Piccadilly. Finally, on Sundays, you'll get the rich green of Bond Street. All the colours occur in sequence, as though you were traveling around the Monopoly™ board progressively. Unfortunately, because Monopoly™ has 8 colour sets and there are only 7 days in a week, the Park Lane/Mayfair colours would never ordinarily be used by the autocolor option, but I've added an extra bit of calculation: if it's the first day of a month, regardless of what day of the week it is, those Mayfair colours will be used anyway. [...] 

Continue Reading

PC Change... One More Time!

Four months in, and for some unknown reason, my Minisforum UM250 running Kubuntu decided to go all graphical-glitchy on me, as it had previously done in Manjaro and Arch. It then seemed to get better after a while, before going all wonky once more. Currently, it's in an 'OK' phase, but who knows how long that will last! I assume some software got updated somewhere along the line -maybe a driver of some sort- and this introduced instabilities where there were none before. But, frankly, at this point I don't care any more: the Minisforum is destined to be retired from desktop duties and instead will be translated to the loft, where it can run something 'server-like' that doesn't require a GUI nor day-to-day interaction with it. I haven't thought what, precisely, it might end up doing, but I'm sure I'll think of something before too long!

It's a shame (not least, because it wasn't cheap!), but I can't be having my daily driver desktop doing random things at random times. [...] 

Continue Reading

A Touch of Monopoly®

Another month, another little update to Giocoso.

This time, the version number is bumped to 1.09 because I've found that picking appropriate colours for the album art caption bar is harder than it should be! That is to say, when Giocoso starts playing a new piece of music, if album art is being displayed, it will try to display the composer and composition name in a coloured bar underneath the actual album art embedded in the FLAC file being played. [...] 

Continue Reading