Monday, 8 May 2017

Perl Panel, an amazing lightweight utility

I usually use the Mate desktop environment with Openbox as the window manager, but I've been looking for something that I can customise to the hilt. But the standard Openbox desktop can be a little bland, so I went looking for a light weight panel and found one that is amazing, in my opinion.

Enter Perl Panel, it hasn't been updated in some time but it is solid and very customisation. I will be learning how to write applets which are naturally written in Perl, a language I'd like to master even though it isn't as 'cool' as it once was. I've never been one to stick to trends, if it works then I'm happy to use it.

It can be custiomized to you liking, add as many or as little applet to your panel, even have other panels with their own configuration if you like.

Panels can be top or bottom of the screen which works great for me as I prefer panels on the top of the screen.

Perl Panel contains a lots of useful applet out of the box, the ones I rely on are:

  • Desktop pager
  • Notification area
  • Time (my setup is %A %d %b, %H:%M%)
  • Window task-list
  • Openbox menu
  • System monitor
In total there are 34 applets included, I don't have a use for all of them as I have workflow that doesn't change too much. Some of the more notable ones are:
  • Drive manager
  • Launcher
  • CPU temp
  • Battery monitor (this on needs fixing, one I'm hoping to do)
  • Bookmarks
  • Recent files
  • Command line area
  • Task-list
  • Trash
  • WiFi monitor
  • Webcam
  • Shell manager

There is room for improvement though and hopefully I can write the missing applets myself. For example, I'l like to replicate the system monitor of Mate, in my case, I always have CPU, Network activity and Hard disk activity so at a glance I can see what is happening. At the moment, the only monitor close to what I want it CPU monitor, which is the same format as what I'd like so hoping that I can use that module as a basis for networking and hard disks.

One of the issues I had was icon size in the notification area, my clipboard manager (parcellite) icon was about two times too large. All I had to do to fix it was edit the icon, which was in /usr/share/pixmaps/parcellite.png.

I'm hoping others will see the benefit of using Perl Panel because it really is great solution to solve a problem and it does that in a brilliant fashion.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Enable virtual workspaces in Windows 10

Using workspaces is an absolute necessity in my opinion. In previous versions of Windows, it was possible through third party applications or by installing Microsoft System Internals.

Well, now it's built into Windows 10, which is very handy. Here area some easy to remember key bindings to get you started.

Win + Tab                    Virtual desktop overview
Ctrl + Win + Left         Navigate to previous desktop
Ctrl + Win + Right       Navigate to next desktop
Ctrl + Win + D             Create new virtual desktop

With an application open on a desktop, you can enable full screen:

Ctrl + Win + Up           Toggle restore/full screen
Ctrl + Win + Down      Toggle minimize

Also, if you have another monitor attached, you can use the following shortcut to move windows between screens

Win + Shift + Left/Right 

If your sight is not the best, use the magnifier to zoom in and out:

Win + +                        Zoom in
Win + -                         Zoom out

Toggle transparency effects in Windows 10

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Getting my sanity back in Chrome

If you're like me, looking at a monitor all the time has taken it's toll on my eyesight. In the last several months, I've needed to 'select all' on most web pages because I can't differentiate the contrast correctly and find having any kind of colour surrounding the text helps. I've also needed to zoom most web pages to 125% just to be able to read them.

Although I am resigned to the fact that I will need glasses in the near future, these couple of Chrome plugins that I have found that have made reading far better and I don't need to strain at all. Maybe they will help you with your sight too.

Dark Reader

When I first turned Dark Reader on, I was amazed. I could read without adjusting the brightness of the monitor or selecting all. I've set my shortcuts to Ctrl+Shift+Z to toggle on a per-site basis which Dark Reader remembers each and every one and the global shortcut set to Ctrl+Z

Z Zoom

Zooming in on each and every page gets old fast. But it was necessary due to the reasons mentioned above. After installing Dark Reader, I went on the hunt for the perfect zooming plug-in.
Z Zoom remembers each page you have zoomed, there is even an option to set the default level at whatever you see fit.

I can very highly recommend both of these  plug-ins if you are having to adjust sites just to be able to read them.

Customizing the Thinkpad T430

It was time to update my laptop, so of course my first choice was the formidable Thinkpad series. I always prefer to buy refurbished corporate laptops because there is usually a huge mark down on prices and in this case, a new LCD screen and Motherboard.

My new Thinkpad T430 arrived and I tried the installed Windows 10 for all of a night, and I was not impressed. I really wanted to like it but I'm an old grump set in my ways, so off it went and installed the awesome Ubuntu Mate 16.04 LTS on it.

The laptop is FAST, probably because of the  solid stat drive, maybe the 8 gigabytes of ram or just due to the no-bullshit strategy of Mate Desktop which makes it the best desktop environment around (with Openbox as the window manager, of course)

Nothing is ever perfect and in this case it was the lack of the menu key (keycode 0x6c), usually situated right of the space-bar. I use this quite often, mostly within Chrome for context menus and in Caja file manager. The T430 has two Alt keys (left and right) and I never use Alt on the right so it is fine to be replaced.

Swap Alt-right with Menu key

This is fine for just the session you are logged in for, but to make the change permanent:

Create the file .Xmodmap and insert the following code, then save

add mod3 = Super_R
keycode 0x6c = Menu

Once you log-out or restart, you should have a working Menu key mapped to the Alt-right key

Caps lock on/off notification

Having  a simple program to indicate your caps status is very helpful, especially for hidden text-fields like passwords. My solution is to use a small program called indicator-keylock which sits in your notification area and uses the notifiy daemon to pop up a reminder if your caps lock is on or off. Once installed, it will start automatically, here's how to install it:

sudo apt-get install indicator-keylock

Albert, the best quick launch solution

Quick launchers fall into one of two categories, you either love or hate them. Albert falls into the former, it's a clean and smooth quick launcher that has loads of plugins if you need them, I prefer to keep it in it's default state except the theme. I use Numix-Rounded which ties in perfectly with my favourite desktop colour of #222222.

On my T430, I prefer the keyboard shortcut of Right-ctrl + Print-screen (for whatever reason, sits near the 
The two keys are next to each other so to me, this make perfect sense.

Albert requires a PPA, here's how to install it:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nilarimogard/webupd8

(press enter when prompted)

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install albert -y

Personal Keyboard Shortcuts

These keyboard shortcuts are just the way I like things, feel free to use them if it works for you.

Meta C     Google Chrome [insert dconf command to set]
Meta W    Emacs
Meta O     Geany
Meta P     Pluma
Meta S     Mate Search Tool

Mate Theme

I have gotten used to using the same theme, shortcuts and application on all my computers because it just makes sense. To set up the them, I firstly download the Mist theme from here


Sunday, 27 November 2016

Change Thinkpad T61 page forward/back to page up/down in Linux

The Thinkpad T61 is a formidable machine that has earned it's place in history and for me is still my go-to laptop of choice despite its' 10+ year manufacture date.

There one flaw that I have found, that the Page Up/Page Down keys are in the most awkward of places, on the very top right of the keypad.

There are two keys in prime position that are not utilized at all on Linux, so here is a quick and dirty way to remap the Page Previous/Page Next to Page Up/Page Down.

This is an easy problem to fix through the use of xmodmap in your .bashrc file.

To remap the keys all you need to do is:
  • Open your bashrc with vim/emacs/nano ~.bashrc
  • Add these two lines to the bottom of the file
  xmodmap -e 'keycode 167=Next'
  xmodmap -e 'keycode 166=Prior'
  • Either log out or source your bashrc with source ~.bashrc
Then you should have a new Page Up/Page Down in the correct placement that is the most productive spot for such keys.

Monday, 21 November 2016

How to compile micro text editor on Termux on Android

Micro is a brilliant editor that is like an enhanced version of Nano. I'm really starting to enjoy coding in it. If you want to use it on Termux on Android, like I do then here's a quick walk through on how to comile it.

In Termux we are going to need a couple of packages before we get started; git and golang:

apt insall git golang

Then we need to set the Path in your shell of choice, so open Termux and open the rc file to your shell of choice. I'm using zsh and nano in this case, so this is the command I use:

nano ~/.zshrc

So now we need to set the GoLang path so when we compile the program this is where the binary file will go. Add this line to your .zshrc/.bashrc file:

export GOPATH=$HOME/go

Save and exit, you may need to exit or just source your shell with:

source ~/.zshrc

Now it's time go get the git repo and download it:

git clone

cd into the git cloned directory

cd micro

Now we need to compile the install by invoking the make command:


It may take a little time and appear to to nothing but it is. Once the command exits, enter the final command of

make install