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.

The first bit of advice is this: Maybe don’t do this.

If you have multiple monitors on one or both of the two computers you would like to share, then you are probably taking up a lot of desk space. More to the point, the two dimensional, but really, one dimensional, range over which your monitors are spread is probably so wide that you can’t really use two computers with one keyboard and mouse without have some sort of super chair, a very long neck, and an extension build onto your arm. Maybe what you really need is two desks near each other with a computer on each one.

The USB fix.

But, maybe you still want to do this, to use two computers with one keyboard. 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.

When you use Scratch, normally, you are interacting with the server at MIT via a web page. This allows you to use Scratch on any device regardless of operating system or power, as long as you have an internet connection. It also means the development environment is always up to date. And, on this site, you can interact with all the other scratch coders in the world, and borrow each other’s code, etc.

There is also a version of Scratch that can be run in stand-alone mode on a computer.

And now, there is a version of this stand alone program that is designed to run on a Raspberry Pi. 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.