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