Category Archives: Computers

How to share keyboard and mouse between two computers?

I use two different computers, each with a different operating system, to do my stuff. Actually, I use five, but only two where I would ideally like to switch between them while I’m using them. I’ve experimented with some solutions, so I can offer some advice. Continue reading How to share keyboard and mouse between two computers?

Kids coding and technology advance

Over recent months, there has been an important advance in opportunities for kids to learn to code and mess around with technology.

The Scratch programming language is a project set at MIT. Scratch programming involves moving images, called blocks, from a pallet into a work area, hooking them together and maybe changing some values attached to them, in order to develop programs that mainly, but not exclusively, manipulate sprites. (See example of code blokcks above.) The project is located HERE. This is a full object oriented programming language with quite a few features that make it very powerful, for a kid’s toy. Continue reading Kids coding and technology advance

How to recover from a failed Linux upgrade

Ahem. I followed my own advice from yesterday, and went ahead and upgraded to Ubuntu 17.10, and it did not go well.

I can’t explain exactly what went wrong, but eventually I ended up with a dialog that required that I click “OK” followed by the same dialog, again and again, long enough that I figured it was infinity time.

I eventually followed a procedure that I’ve found to work sometimes. First, I turned the computer off and the back on again (always a last resort) and the desktop never loaded, so I knew something was pretty messed up. Continue reading How to recover from a failed Linux upgrade

Updating Ubuntu 17.04 to 17.10 the easy way

Go to Software and Updates (in your control panel or system area, depending on your flavor). Go to the tap for “updates” and set the “notify me of a new Ubuntu version” to “For any new version.”

(See picture above.)

Then, in either a terminal or in the box you get when you hit Alt-F4, type the following and hit enter:

update-manager -cd

You might get something that looks like this, and you can hit the upgrade button and follow instructions. Good luck. Have a backup. Should work fine.

If things don’t work fine, try THIS.

What is New in Ubuntu 17.10, the Artful Aardvark

The next release of Ubuntu, the most commonly used and thought of by normal people and a few others version of Linux, is set to be released on Thursday, October 19th. The exact set of changes and improvements is not known, but a few key ones are, and some can be guessed at from the multiple pre-release releases.

This is a momentous occasion because this will be the first version of Ubuntu’s main flavor that does NOT include Unity as its default desktop.

If you don’t know, Unity was a menu and control system for the desktop, your main interface when working with the computer other than, obviously, while using a particular application. It was the look and feel, the essence, of the operating system. Unity was supposed to unify things, like diverse features of a typical desktop, like Ubuntu running on a cell phone, a desktop, a laptop, a whatever.

Unity used a modus operendus that many other interfaces were shifting towards. I hear there are versions of Windows that looked a bit like this, and Gnome from version 3.0 onwards had this basic approach. Continue reading What is New in Ubuntu 17.10, the Artful Aardvark

Reset Ubuntu Mate, Unity, and Gnome

As you know (if you are reading this) Ubuntu Linux was until recently saddled with, er, came with, the Unity desktop, a system of menus and such. All along it has been possible to get a Gnome version of Ubuntu, but now, Unity has been tossed out (told you so!) and Gnome is the default desktop for this distribution now. But, for people who prefer Gnome before it too jumped the shark, there is Mate (pronounced Mah teh, like the plant), which I’m pretty sure is an increasingly preferred desktop.

Anyway, if you are messing around with any of these three “flavors” of Ubuntu, you might find yourself in a situation where you’ve not just messed around but you’ve also messed up. And, maybe you want to return the distribution to its default state.

Doing so will undo whatever customization you’ve done to panels, launchers, or docs, including indicators. It will rediscover and reset the default monitor resoution settings. It will put the fonts back to what they were by default and, for some of us most dramatically, it will reset the keyboard shortcuts. Themes will be returned to default as well, including all the details of your windows and such.

Some applications will have their settings restored to default as well.

Go see this post at OMG Ubuntu for an example of before and after for someone who had tweaked the heck out of their box and reset.

This reset only affects setting stored in dconf. You can “dconf dump” to get the current settings from that place before and maybe that will suffice as a backup. Good luck with that. This should not affect other desktops you’ve got installed, or affect drviers and other deep system level stuff. Probably.

Anyway, here’s the command:

dconf reset -f /

Good luck and may the force be with you.

You can find out what dconf is and does here.

What computer mouse is best?

I did some research on mice, and I thought I’d pass it on. First, though, let me suggest that you get some of this stuff. Use it to paint a symbol on each of your wireless mice that matches a symbol on each of your mice dongles. It will help keep you sane. You’ll still find yourself constantly in possession of mice and dongles that do not match, but at least they will have these pretty little symbols you drew all over them.

There is some interesting and exciting stuff going on with mice.

Best but most expensive small mouse for general mobile use

The Logitech MX Anywhere 2 Wireless Mobile Mouse, Long Range Wireless Mouse is over fifty bucks, but it has some excellent features. It is small and portable and normative in shape and design. It works on any surface, is highly precise, nice to use, all that. It is a Laser tracking mouse. It has an internal rechargeable battery.

This mouse uses a small USB dongle or bluetgooth (Bluetooth Smart Ready). You can pair up to three different devices. It has hyper-speed scrolling.

The Most Magical of Mice: Flow technology

There are several mice in this category ranging across price. One of them is the Logitech MX Anywhere 2S Wireless Mouse with FLOW Cross-Computer Control and File Sharing for PC and Mac – 910-005132, which is close to 80 bucks, and is like the MX Anywhere 2, but has the additional magical capability of controlling multiple devices, including managing a cross-device clipboard. You pair the mouse up with each computer, then you tie it into the same local network both computers are on. Here’s a video from Logitech:

This supposedly works on Linux, Macs and Windows.

Super Ergonomic

I am suspicious of the whole ergonomic thing. Ergonomic, in mice and similar devices, seems to be “we fit your hand so well you will only move one or two muscles ever,” which seems a bad idea. I think a mouse should require more movement and adjustment by the hand in order to Not cause repetitive motion syndrome. Note that this is entirely my non-expert opinion and I may be quite wrong.

Anyway, one of the top rated and coolest Ergonomic mice is probably the Anker 2.4G Wireless Vertical Ergonomic Optical Mouse which is extreme in its design and intended to minimize RSS. The same company makes a variety of products, and note, these are generally not expensive.

General all round mouse

The affordable Logitech M720 Triathalon Multi-Device Wireless Mouse pairs with multiple devices, has fancy buttons, has hyper fast scrolling capability, and uses a single AA battery. It uses bluetooth.

Glows in the dark


I have a keyboard that glows in the dark. Maybe I need the ASUS ROG Gladius II Aura Sync USB Wired Optical Ergonomic Gaming Mouse with DPI target button. This $100 computer critter is a high end gaming mouse, and note that the interface is a wire. Proof that new technology (in this case, wireless interface to mouse) is sometimes inferior, and the old technology gets you more.

Other mice

The Logitech M330 Silent Plus Wireless Large Mouse is a large size mouse that makes no noise and is inexpensive (and wireless, but not bluetooth)
The super accruate, wired, Corsair Gaming M65 Pro RGB FPS Gaming Mouse, Backlit RGB LED, 12000 DPI, Optical is for gamers and has lots of buttons.

The mouse I need is probably the one I hope to find over at Goodwill; I need a plug in USB mouse to allow quick access to any computer any time without needing a dongle dangling off the back of something.