Bookmarks

I use Firefox as my web browser. I’ve been using it for years. During that time I have accumulated a huge amount of bookmarks. In being able to migrate my Firefox profile by copying it between machines and between installs my bookmarks have migrated too.
Some I can’t remember why I even bookmarked them in the first place.

I took the step over the past few days of exporting all my bookmarks and deleting all the ones stored in my browser. I now have a new starting point for which to accumulate some more.

My bad idea has been to start trying to organise my old bookmarks into some sort of list. What struck me is what utter rubbish is stored along with the original bookmark. The useful bit is the URL, in most cases this is accompanied by the title to the article or the site I wanted to bookmark. The less useful entries have information about the author looking for job opportunities, great long strings of text about other subject matter the site covered or generally unhelpful titles that don’t actually tell you what you bookmarked.

I should have taken the time to edit the bookmark entries at the time of saving them. It is never something I want to do at the time as it breaks my train of thought. It a habit that I am unlikely to change.

Trying to sort the bookmarks by subject area I notice that quite a few span multiple areas. Looking through the bookmarks I find that I have often researched topics. I’m thinking that in future it would be easier to gather stored bookmarks around these topics. In this way I can dispense with certain collections of bookmarks once I no longer have need of the topic.

I am regretting starting this process as progress has been slow. I am working through the list, checking that the links still work, seeing if they are still relevant, renaming and finally storing under a suitable category. Once completed I should be left with a nice list of topics that I can easily refer back to.

So far I am not missing the historical bookmarks in the browser.

New Theme

Today I am going to start playing around with a modified version of the WordPress twenty-seventeen theme. I want to be able to write content in a nicer style and it is easier to do this with a clean slate. Some of the existing content will need reformatting and this will happen when I settle on my style. In the meantime be patient.

Aims for 2017

It's that time of year again when I look back over the goals I set myself over the previous year and decide on some new ones for the year ahead.

What I intended to do in 2016:

  • Contribute to some open source projects – Failed miserably.
  • Put more time into electronics projects – Plenty of time put in, much frustration and little fun :(.
  • Clear out Garage – It’s getting clearer.
  • Write an android application for my tablet/phone – Fail – idea abandoned.
  • Build a new PC – Some parts have been sourced, waiting for AMD to release the Ryzen processors early in 2017.
  • Do something useful with a virtual machine - Fail, looked into 3D acceleration of a VM. It appears that it is best achieved with a separate graphics card. This requires hardware support which my current set-up lacks.
  • Finish Back Yard – Still need to put a slab in for a step.
  • Buy a new kitchen bin – I still need one that matches, but it functions.
  • Cook a good Lamb Pathia from scratch – Failed – attempt next year.
  • Eat more fruit and veg – More cabbage has been eaten (along with pie & mash).
  • Perform more off-site data backups - More backups in general are needed. 2016 saw me attempt crypto-ransomware recovery. Luckily a success due to decryption program availability. Backup Now!!!
  • Read more books – Didn't get through many in 2015 or 2016.

2016 hasn’t been the most productive year. I hoped to have progressed further with my electronics projects but difficulties along the way resulted in periodic loss of motivation. The PC build was researched and was close to being realised. The VM 3D investigation focused new build on needing 2 graphics cards. Intel’s platform offering made this set-up along with new and future hardware connectivity quite limiting. With AMD’s new CPU offering and Intel’s new chipsets on the horizon the decision was made to delay purchasing core build components until the new year. One thing has become clear, I need to plan my free time to achieve more.

What I aim to do in 2017:

  • Lose weight – I have slowly been gaining weight 🙁
  • Continue work on STM32 development – I’m slowly making progress.
  • Clear out Garage – A few large items need to go.
  • Build a new PC – This will happen, I can’t delay it any longer.
  • Finish Back Yard – The step will be installed at long last.
  • Buy a new kitchen bin – It might happen.
  • Cook something new – I will break out of my routine dishes and try making something different.
  • Eat more healthily – Less chocolate, fat, carbs.
  • Perform more data backups – More off-site backups too.
  • Read more books – I have a shelf of unread books waiting to be read.
  • Plan Free time – Make time for things I want to do.

2017 has some achievable targets. I three I want to achieve are losing weight, building a new PC and finishing the back yard. I need a good excuse if I don’t manage these.

Where is winter?

As the year draws to a close I am left wondering when winter is going to begin. A few cold days here and there and the odd light frost is all we have received. Where is the snow lying on the ground? Where are the slippery pavements coated in ice? I am going to need to source Christmas cards for next year without the winter scene, if this is they way things are going.

Fedora 25

This evening I arrived home from work and began to update my machines to the latest version of Fedora. I am pleased to say the update has gone smoothly. This has been the easiest update I think I have had in recent years.

Now the bad. Wayland has become the default display server replacing X11. It works, by which I mean I have a usable display. The bad is that it has broken my workflow. I have a few simple scripts that tweak my environment. These have always loaded when the display server starts. Ok, how do I do this with Wayland? I did some reading. The issue has been known about for 2 years, Bug 736660. The workaround for the moment is to logout and then log in with an X11 session. Logging into the X11 session everything works again and I can continue. Hopefully issues like this will get resolved quickly.

Planning Ahead

I probably look at the front page of this site more than most. I am starting to wonder if it needs a good refresh. Earlier in the year I began writing up some notes on my experiments with ARM development. During this process I ran into a few formatting issues that I worked around. It is still my plan to write up some more of my notes in the future but rather than fight against the current system I might try something new. The next version of WordPress is due out in December, this is probably the best place to start from. Years ago I used a heavily customised site but as WordPress moved on I began to rely more on the templates generated by others. They are good building blocks as they handle the responsive design aspects. I think some more customisation from me might on the cards this time.

Alexa

This week I have taken delivery of an Amazon Echo, a voice controlled speaker. Why did I purchase it? One of my reasons is that I have wanted an entertainment device in the kitchen, the Echo is a hands free streaming radio. The audio quality is good enough for the environment and at half volume is plenty loud enough.

I wanted to time my cooking of a pizza, I set the timer with my voice. The Echo alerted me once the timer expired. This morning I walked in and asked for a weather report, I listened whilst I opened the curtains.

I’m still getting used to calling out to “Alexa” but its suprising how easily it is beginning to fit in to my life. It allows me to multitask in the moments where I have my hands full.

The only limitation so far has been the microphone. It doesn’t pick up well when the kettle is boiling. I’m guessing it generates too much white noise. Microphone pickup is generally good otherwise.

Water

The mains water supply has been off for a few hours. A minor inconvenience. What did please me was the text message I received from Severn Trent notifying me of the outage and giving me an estimated time for the resolution of the problem. The water appears to be on its way back an hour ahead of schedule. There is however a downside, I am now faced with the spluttering and gurgling of the pipework as everything re-pressurises and the air in the pipes escapes.

Closing Windows

Today I finally made the decision to close down my Windows 7 machine and remove it from my primary computing location. It was February when I last used it and since then it has only been used for the occasional game or to run a PCB design tool.

The PCB design tool will run under WINE and there are other Linux based tools which I might transition to. The games haven’t been played very much so I’m not going to miss them. A few games run on Linux so I could continue with those. The hardware of the machine is old ,runs very warm and by today’s standards, not energy efficient.

Had Microsoft not decided to change the supported hardware for Windows 7 I might have continued using it on a new machine. Now my only upgrade path is Windows 10. Windows 10 is not going on my machines., I’ve already had enough of it trying to install itself.

From this point forward it’s Linux only for real computing. Windows is only a toy to play the occasional game on.

Fedora 24

This week I have been updating my machines to run Fedora 24. Two out of 3 updated without any issues and continue to run normally. One machine however has decided to cause me some issues.

My old Toshiba X200 laptop had followed the upgrade instructions to the point where it needed to reboot. So I rebooted the machine and left it to do its work. Returning some time later expecting it to have completed I was disappointed to see it stuck doing nothing. After some investigation it appeared I was getting an error to do with an Invalid PCI ROM Header, the value didn't match what was expected. I couldn't boot the machine without this occurring and left me scratching my head for a bit. There doesn't appear to be an obvious solution online. Others have reported similar issues but apart from seeing the error their machines have fully booted.

I decided to try adding a few flags to my kernel boot parameters. Finally I go one to work. Adding "pci=norom" seems to have done the trick and allowed the machine to continue to update. I won't know until the upgrade is complete if I will need to add this option back in permanently. But hopefully it won't be anything more than that.