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the Debian Desktop Experience, part 1

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Posted under Other Technology at .

How long has it been since I ran Debian Desktop, rather than Server? I forget. Debian has been my go-to server environment since . . . well, it’s probably the only server OS I’ve used in serious production contexts, apart from a few stints on shared hosting and I don’t know what they all were. But as time goes by I’ve been thinking of using it as my primary environment for everything that needs internet connectivity, but never quite got round to it. Last night an opportunity arose to try it on an old-ish laptop which threatens to become unusable for its primary purpose because:

the main websites its owner uses have announced they will drop support for the installed Firefox at year end, or have already done so Ubuntu 16.04 LTS won’t upgrade the installed Firefox Ubuntu have dropped i386 support in later versions

So it looks like it’s goodbye to Ubuntu. Debian then, maybe?

As I write, after a long overnight and a lengthy sleep, my memory is just starting to get hazy on some of the details but I can note some points.

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Thunderbird Account Order

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Posted under Other Technology at .

A little note on Thunderbird configuration.

Thunderbird does not allow manual drag-drop of accounts in the folders/accounts pane, which is inconvenient if you have many accounts with clear priorities. There is a module to address this but it didn’t work for me.

As it turns out this can be done by editing in about:config. There is a setting mail.accountmanager.accounts which holds the display order (based on the order of account creation in the Thunderbird instance). By default the accounts are called account1, account2 . . .  which isn’t tremendously useful, but a look in the Profiles/<uuid>.default/prefs.js file shows a series of settings for identities like:

user_pref("mail.identity.id1.archive_folder", "mailbox://<user email & server>/Archives");
 — from which it should be possible to identify each identity’s email account. However the id is not the account, and they may have different numbers, so it is necessary to extract a list of identities and email accounts, use that to decide the preferred order, and then look earlier in the prefs file for the id/account correspondence, which is a series of lines like:
user_pref("mail.account.account<n>.identities", "id<n>");
 — where n may not be the same number. Listing these like:
ac3    id2    uname1@dom1.tld
ac4    id3    uname2@dom1.tld
ac10   id9    uname1@dom2.tld
ac11   id10   uname2@dom2.tld
 — allows a replacement prefs string to be compiled like:
account3,account4,account10,account11
 — for pasting into the about:config entry. Restart Thunderbird. That’s almost it

Occasionally it’s not quite there yet, as Thunderbird displays the default account at the top of the list no matter what you do to the order. This is independent of the order setting.


Got Me

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Posted under Other Technology at . Last updated 2022-07-24 02:52.

got U

I’m trying to work out what happened to someone’s disk. This is one of a rotating pair of external drives used to backup an Ubuntu laptop. One of the pair, Backup 2, failed to mount the other day. I confirmed the problem and ran a backup to Backup 1. I now think that may have been a mistake, but we’ll see.

I tried fsck from the administrator account with no result, but noticed along the way that Backup 2 is seen as a single exFAT partition, which seems a little odd as I’d have expected ext3 or ext4.

Switching over to an OSX laptop where I have a better range of tools to hand, I can confirm that it reads as GUID/exFAT. But a look at it with a sector editor is puzzling. I see nothing in sector 0. Moving on to the sector 1 I have what looks like an EFI header so that should be fine. Sector 2 seems to be part of the same system. And I went back to 0 but this time scrolled down. That helps.

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Maltron Keyboard Retrospective Notes
(& Related Considerations)

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Posted under Other Technology at .

Having finally worked out how to write blogging software capable of containing the Vosathenik pages, I feel able to publish my page of thoughts about why I didn’t adapt to the Maltron keyboard. (Apart from a few grammatical edits this was mostly written in late 2014.)

In their defence, I have to say it was probably more to do with the structure of my fingers than anything else. The Maltron keyboard is based on some design principles which reflect usage assumptions which may be valid for some people, but not for me.

Maltron keyboard

1. Long and Short Fingers

Some of us have longer fingers than others, some have relatively long third fingers, and some have relatively short fourth fingers. My impression is strongly that the Maltron was designed for a more even balance. I found using it less comfortable than a standard flat keyboard, partly because of the extra tendon strain involved in keeping my third fingers out of the way. Conversely, with a flat keyboard, I get on reasonably well by angling my fingers over so that they meet the keys with a similar level of tension, though the Vosathenik layout now helps with that.

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HP CP1700 Recovery

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Posted under Other Technology at . Last updated 2020-12-05 20:30.

The CP1700 PS is an A3+ CMYK inkjet printer produced by Hewlett-Packard in the early to mid noughties; which, having had some prior experience of single-cartridge colour inkjets over the previous decade or so, I decided to buy on the grounds (as I recall them) that a) PostScript, b) SRA3-capable, c) separate colour cartridges, d) separate printheads which seemed like a good idea at the time, and e) apparently more fade-resistant inks than I’d previously been able to enjoy. Oh how more than slightly wrong I was.

HP Color Inkjet CP1700 top front

Actually, out of the box, it seemed pretty good, printed very well with the PostScript 3 option, and while I thought I might like the extra tray, network connection/server module, and duplex unit, I could do without for the time being. Then as it happened I ended up not using it as much as intended since [life], so I didn’t add any of the extras. The only big issue with it initially was the big issue. It was physically rather larger than the previous (Epson iirc?) A3 colour inkjet I’d used but I managed to put it on its own trolley which at least allowed it to be moved out of wherever it was currently in the way. This is not a shelfable printer.

Then a year went by, and having used perhaps a third of the K cartridge and perhaps a quarter of CMY, suddenly it stopped working one day when I needed to print something. All cartridges supposedly needed replacement. Yet they were clearly not empty. So why? It turned out that the cartridges were time-limited. I hunted for information online, and gathered that they pack up, not on the basis of anything going wrong, but because it’s been a year since you installed them. And there was no information about options other than replacement. Worse, it seemed the print heads were also time-limited. So I found myself having to buy eight replacements. If I remember, it would have been over £200, an appreciable proportion of the cost of a replacement printer. And it would need the same again in another year? This was not and is not good.

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Photoshop modal dialogue bug

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Posted under Other Technology at .

Ridiculous bug in Photoshop (CS4). If you try to load a batch script, the default location appears to be Desktop, and if you happen to have an alias to a server volume there which you’re not currently connected to (e.g. networking’s off or you’re not at the office etc.) it has a completely modal dialogue box with no cancel button or option to change location, which halts everything and just comes up every thirty seconds or so saying this server can’t be connected to. The only solution seems to be to force-quit and move your server volume aliases. This is the kind of thing that makes me want to go back to pre-CS Photoshop and never return. Lower processor temperatures too . . . I have no idea whether it persists in later Photoshops and I don’t plan to submit to a licensing scheme to find out. So I’m using the GIMP for the purpose.


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