Eye protection

There has been so much written about the dangers of blue light and how it affects us.  Until recently, I just considered that it affected the sleep rhythms and didn’t pay much attention to it, quite honestly.  I generally have no problem sleeping, and when I do, I know that I can easily attribute it to worrying about things.

That was, until this week, when I read this research article.

Blue light from phone screens accelerates blindness, study finds

To put things into perspective, I used to work with the wife of my optometrist and have had discussions about macular degeneration.  It scared the hell out of me at the time.  I do know that it’s a discussion that I have when I go in for my annual eye checkup.

Anyway, this article concludes with this advice.

For those wanting to protect their eyes from blue light, Dr Karunarathne advises wearing sunglasses that can filter both UV and blue light outside and avoiding browsing on mobile phones or tablets in the dark.

I’m a permanent eye class wearer and I always make sure that I get sunglasses clipons when I happen to get new glasses.  And, I’m good about wearing them.  In the winter time when the snow and sun make for a bright combination and certainly in the summer time.

Looking at my computers, though, I guess I do have a tendency towards having a nice white background.  As I look at the screen, it seems to do so by making the blues bluer.  I never really thought about it but so many things on the screen are shades of blue.

I went looking.

Of course, Macintosh users have had the ability to use Night Shift for some time now.  Are there other ways of handling it on the other computers I use?  Certainly.

Get Night Shift Feature In Ubuntu and Other Linux

Chromebook How-To: Enabling Night Mode

How to Enable Night Light on Windows 10

They make a big difference.  I’m writing this on my Mint machine so that’s where the screen captures come from.  It’s similar everywhere.

f.lux indicator applet preferences_007

And, of course, there are all kinds of temperatures that you might want to choose from.  Halogen is sort of mid-range.  Even at that, it’s going to take some time getting used to!

I’m not terribly concerned over this as I seldom do any computer stuff in the dark.  But, it’s nice to know that I have options should I get the urge.

Operating system mindset

My friend Lisa Noble wanted to make sure that I didn’t miss this.

Now, with the number of Linux sources that I read daily, you had to know that I was flooded with articles about this.  I read them all with interest and started wondering…

It’s interesting.  When I bought my Chromebook, I made sure that it was going to run two operating systems.  Obviously Chrome OS and, for the future, Android.  I bought the unit that had the biggest storage at the time – 48GB, it had to have a touch HD screen, etc.  This was going to be a computer and a tablet.  I never thought of anything beyond that.

For the longest time though, it didn’t become my go to machine.  I had this mentality that followed me from previous computers I’d used.  An application for everything and everything required an application.  Of course, I proved myself wrong over time and now this is indeed my go to machine for all kinds of reasons.  Chrome OS got better over time and it’s just a matter of finding the appropriate web application or download the appropriate Chrome or Android application to do the deed.

And, yes, I still have to deal with those who haven’t bought into the web application concept because “it can’t do this” which typically is one of those odd ball things you see demoed in an application smack down that’s neat but you never really need it.

So, now we might have Linux apps on the Chromebook.  My first impression was “wow” and I started thinking about OpenOffice and GIMP.  Heck, maybe even install Wine and run Windows applications.

I know that there’s a certain opinion in some people’s thoughts about working in Linux.  Actually, do any search for a topic and you’ll find answers that are generated by dropping into a terminal and running instructions from the command line.  Now, with my current installation of Linux Mint, I can’t remember the last time I ran a terminal session, if ever.  But, I do it in other operating systems all the time.  Including Chrome OS.

Screenshot 2018-05-11 at 10.09.54

So now the wondering starts.  If and when I could run Linux applications, which would I run?  As you see from above, I have a number of applications installed here already to run in addition to stock Chrome.  You’ll see that I run Opera (and I also have Firefox and a couple of other browsers installed).  That’s for specific purposes.  Read this blog and you’ll see that I like to, well, tinker.

The bottom line though is that, once I shook the mindset that I needed all kinds of applications, things really changed.  I think I started to think of Chrome OS as a real OS and not just a browser.  It changed the way I did things.  I guess …

In this light, I’m at a loss to identify what and why I would run under Linux that would be different from what I’m doing now.  Surely, Google isn’t about to drop Android – are they?

What are your thoughts?  If and when Linux becomes available on your Chromebook, is there an application that you’d install to increase your productivity?


OK, guess what I did yesterday?

Yes, I did walk the dog but also did some computer stuff.

This computer has been around for a while.  When I bought it, it was running Windows 7 and was good.  However, I was bitten by all the hype of Windows 10, I upgraded in place and liked it.

For a while anyway.

Then, like every Windows computer that I’ve ever owned and worked on, it became slower and slower and slower.  In fact, it got to the point where it was so slow that I was tempted to recycle it.  But, I didn’t.  Instead, I created a second partition on the hard drive and installed Ubuntu.  Then, I got rid of Ubuntu and installed Linux Mint.

In effect, I had two operating systems on this computer – Windows 10 and Linux Mint.  Windows was slow and painful.  Mint was fast and so enjoyable.  Without it, I might have just limped along with Windows, but I switched.  Everything was there.  Every now and again, I would boot into Windows just so that it could update and hopefully do something that would fix things.  It never did.

So, yesterday, I decided to “Dynamite” it.  Or, at least the Windows 10 equivalent – Resetting the PC.

There were two options and I opted for the seemingly easiest way – delete all the applications and settings but keep my files.  It seemed to go well.  As with Windows installations, it rebooted a couple of times and I learned that I needed to be within keyboard distance since Grub starts first and gives the option to boot into Mint or Windows, the default being Mint.  I had to override the default.  Not a biggy, and a couple of hours later, I had a refreshed version of Windows.

I decided that I would take the high road and not go whole hog and install a million applications like I had before.  After all, I’m probably the one who shot myself in the foot.

Then it starts

The very first website that I go to wouldn’t work because it required Google Chrome.  OK, I’ll indulge and install one program.  After all, you can’t have too many browsers.  I’ll probably get around to installing Firefox and Opera too.  Yeah, it’s starting.

I forced myself to work in the default Microsoft environment for the most part.  And, for the most part, I was pretty happy with the way things went.  The hard drive light keeps flashing but it’s not something new – I only have 4GB of memory so there might be a bunch of swapping happening.  However, the computer itself isn’t running hot with the fan blasting.  That’s a good thing.

I was going to conclude this blog post on a happy note.  I still hope that I can but, and I suspect it’s going to be a big but, I started the computer to see this message.

I’ll admit to being surprised.  Windows was good enough to preserve my files for me during the reset; I would have thought that it would have remembered that I had activated it when the big push to upgrade came along.  I guess it didn’t.

So, I guess my big project for today is to figure out how to get Windows to recognize that it is a legitimate version.  I shouldn’t have to go into the store, as suggested, and purchase another key.

I know that Mint is smiling noting the proximity of the message to the Recycle Bin.  I hope that it doesn’t come down to that.  I love this computer and it even came engraved with my name on it.

Changing things up …

It’s funny how things go around and come around.  

On Saturday, Tim King’s BIT conference presentation about his DIY computer lab was inspiration for my post DIY.  I really liked his approach to having students create their own computers from wherever they could get them.  If you haven’t looked through his Prezi, it’s worth the time.

Below, you’ll find a screen capture of what it partially looked like.

I’ll admit to a certain level of surprise when I saw that Windows was part of his ultimate solution.  As he notes, and I think that most people will confirm, Windows 10 is a significant improvement over previous versions.

I didn’t see that coming.  I thought that his answer would have been some variation of Linux which can breathe life into older equipment.  It can make them just scream.  I’ve done that to this computer which runs two operating systems – Windows 10 and Ubuntu.  

Well, at least it ran Ubuntu.

I think it probably was being at the conference and talking to so many inspirational people doing exciting things.  It dawned on me that I hadn’t done anything exciting myself for a while.  What better time than the present?  I’m pretty good about keeping things backed up so I was up to a new adventure.  I’d been doing a great deal of reading about Linux Mint as an operating system, so what the hey?

I’m always amazed at how easy it is to install the Linux distributions that I’ve toyed with.  The new technique is to download the operating system in an ISO file, burn it to a DVD, boot your computer from the DVD and play around with it.  So I did.

It didn’t take me long to realize that this was a very good thing.  The nice thing about a Linux distribution like Linux Mint is that you really get a starter pack of applications which, quite frankly, are probably enough for most people.  There’s an office suite, image editor, music/video player, … Try doing that with another operating system.  I decided to overwrite Ubuntu on this computer.  I still had it on another so I wouldn’t be Ubuntu-less.  

There’s always that moment when you’re doing some heavy duty lifting that gives you moment to pause.  For me, since I was overwriting a partition, it wasn’t one of the major installation options.  Once I found “Do Something Else”, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.  I wanted to format the Ubuntu partition, leave Windows and its backup in place, and install Mint.  And, it was quick.  I did the installation and the final boot in under 45 minutes.

Everything just worked.  Where have we heard that before?  I did some changes to the look and feel in the Preferences area.  I’m always impressed with how much you can tweak a computer when you’re in the driver’s seat instead of some locked down configuration.  I have to give acknowledgement to the distribution package.  There are so many high quality background images included.  

And, of course, me being me, I wanted some more applications.  This has always been the biggest complaint about Linux – there’s no software.  

Hah!  The Software Manager is a nice launchpad to the good stuff.

The default web browser is Firefox but I immediately added Chromium and Opera.  It’s nice to have options.  And, I love my extensions (like ScribeFire which I’m using to write this)  It was a piece of cake to log into my browser account and watch the browsers synch and populate everything while I watched.

And I was off.  One of the annoying things about this computer and every version of Windows that I’ve used is how intensive Windows seems to be when it’s running.  The fan is constantly on, blowing out the heat.  After the initial Mint boot, the fan noise goes away although my hand over the vent opening reveals a gentle flow of heat coming out.  

Back to Tim’s scenario, the whole thing is something that teachers and students alike can do as their own project.  Call it a maker thing if you want.  There’s always something new to be learned about configuration or software but I maintain that’s good learning and helps the user grow.  I would encourage anyone to give it a shot; find an old computer that’s about to be retired and see what you can do.  Or even better, take your existing computer and make it dual boot.  (Back up things first)

I’ll bet that you’ll be pleasantly pleased and there’s always something exciting about changing things up – especially if you learn something new.