Shallow Thoughts

Akkana's Musings on Open Source Computing and Technology, Science, and Nature.

Thu, 17 Sep 2020

Resizing Images for a Twitter Stream

[LWVNM tweet of a Vote411 image] In the LWVNM, we're promoting our new non-partisan state-wide online Voter Guide, Vote411.

I got roped into doing the Twitter side of this, using a bunch of images the communications team got from the national LWV.

The problem is, the images are square, 1500x1500 pixels. Turns out Twitter won't display square images: according to most references I found, it crops any image you tweet to 600x335 (16:9).

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[ 14:13 Sep 17, 2020    More tech | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Fri, 11 Sep 2020

Key Bindings for Copy and Paste Under X11

In the previous article I wrote about how the two X selections, the primary and clipboard, work. But I glossed over the details of key bindings to copy and paste the two selections in various apps.

That's because it's complicated. Although having the two selections available is really a wonderful feature, I can understand why so many people are confused about it or think that copy and paste just generally doesn't work on Linux -- because apps are so woefully inconsistent about their key bindings, and what they do have is so poorly documented.

"Why don't they all just use the standard Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V?" you ask. (Cmd-C, Cmd-V for Mac users, but I'm not going to try to include the Mac versions of every binding in this article; Mac users will have to generalize.)

Simple: those keys have well-known and very commonly used bindings already, which date back to long before copy and paste were invented.

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[ 12:54 Sep 11, 2020    More linux | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Mon, 07 Sep 2020

X is for the X Selection: Copy and Paste on Linux

There's so much confusion about copy and paste in Linux. Many people, coming from the Windows or Mac worlds, complain about copy/paste not working right. And while it's true that some apps don't handle copy/paste very well (Firefox in particular is notably flaky in this area), usually the problem is that nobody has ever told them about one of Linux's best features: the two types of selection, Primary and Clipboard.

The Primary Selection

When you sweep your mouse across some words to highlight them, or double-click to highlight a word, or triple-click to highlight a line, whatever you've highlighted is now in the primary selection.

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[ 12:28 Sep 07, 2020    More linux | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Wed, 19 Aug 2020

W is for Whiptails

[Maybe a New Mexico Whiptail] Late summer is whiptail season. Whiptails are long, slender, extremely fast lizards with (as you might expect) especially long tails. They emerge from hibernation at least a month later than the fence lizards, but once they're awake, they're everywhere.

In addition to being pretty to look at, fun to watch as they hit the afterburner and streak across the yard, and challenging to photograph since they seldom sit still for long, they're interesting for several reasons.

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[ 19:56 Aug 19, 2020    More nature | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Fri, 14 Aug 2020

V is for Video Editing with Shotcut

I have a new camera, a Sony a6100. Frustrated with the bugs and limitations of my ancient Rebel XSi, I decided to jump into the world of mirrorless cameras.

So far I'm pleased with it (though sometimes frustrated by its Byzantine menu hierarchy). One of its nice features, which the Rebel didn't have at all, is movies, and I've been shooting a lot of short movies of radio controlled airplanes when we fly at Overlook Park.

That's the problem: a lot of short movies. I'd like to make them available on YouTube so that my fellow pilots can see them; but uploading a movie to YouTube is a low and elaborate process, and uploading eight or so short clips of less than a minute each is just too much work. It would be so much easier if I could edit them together and upload just one movie.

Time to learn some basic video editing.

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[ 16:02 Aug 14, 2020    More linux | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Sat, 08 Aug 2020

U is for Unreliable UI (or: Why Firefox's "Do this automatically this from now on" checkbox is so flaky, and how to work around it)

It's been a frustration with Firefox for years. You click on a link and get the "What should Firefox do with this file?" dialog, even though it's a file type you view all the time -- PDF, say, or JPEG. You click "View in browser" or "Save file" or whatever ... then you check the "Do this automatically for files like this from now on" checkbox, thinking, I'm sure I checked this last time.

Then a few minutes later, you go to a file of the exact same time, and you get the dialog again. That damn checkbox is like the button on street crossings or elevators: a no-op to make you think you're doing something.

I never tried to get to the bottom of why this happens with some PDFs and not others, some JPGs but not others. But Los Alamos puts their government meetings on a site called Legistar. Legistar does everything as PDF -- and those PDFs all trigger this Firefox bug, prompting for a download rather than displaying in Firefox's PDF viewer.

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[ 16:38 Aug 08, 2020    More tech/web | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Thu, 30 Jul 2020

T is for Tame

[Tame grey jay] A couple of weeks ago the hiking group tackled Deception Peak, above the Santa Fe ski area.

It's a gorgeous hike, and one I'd wanted to do for years. Every year the group hikes up to Nambé Lake, at about 10,826' elevation, which I've always considered one of the most beautiful of our regular hikes. And every time I'm there, I look up at the rocky peaks above, and wonder what it's like up there. Now I finally know.

While on our way up the mountain, we were welcomed by a crew of grey jays begging near the trail. Grey jays are sometimes known as "camp robbers" because they're so tame and bold. They've learned that humans are a good source of food, and they're happy to swoop down and take it from you, or, if you're slow about offering the goods, to sit on a branch next to your head scolding you.

I dug some nuts out of my pack ...

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[ 11:19 Jul 30, 2020    More nature | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Sat, 25 Jul 2020

S is for Starlink Satellites

[Comet Neowise and Starlink Satellites] Monday was the last night it's been clear enough to see Comet Neowise. I shot some photos with the Rebel, but I haven't quite figured out the alignment and stacking needed for decent astrophotos, so I don't have much to show. I can't even see the ion tail.

The interesting thing about Monday besides just getting to see the comet was the never-ending train of satellites.

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[ 20:27 Jul 25, 2020    More science/astro | permalink to this entry | comments ]