Sunday, 22 July 2018

Photography and Stuff

I'm going to wander a bit off course now and then with this, but it's about photography as a hobby, self esteem and a bit of depression gets thrown in too,

Let's get started with depression, I do suffer occasionally, but thankfully manage to sort myself out, sometimes it's easy and sometimes it's not. An acquaintance of mine shared a post once that asked questions about depression. One of the questions was, "Do you go to bed, not because you're tired, but because you don't want to be awake anymore"?

My honest answer is that I do.

Going back to my teens, life was crap. My mother died, i went off the rails, had a failed marriage, stupidly gave up some good jobs and it was only in my late 40s, thanks to some good friends, relatives, a kick up the arse and more especially a wonderful new partner that things started to come together. There are days when I struggle, but I put on a brave face and get myself sorted.

You may now be thinking, what the hell has this got to do with photography?

I enjoy getting out with a camera, I've upgrade to a reasonable DSLR with some decent lenses and enjoy wildlife, quite often it's not the quality of the picture, it's just that I've got something new. Same with landscape,  if I like it I'll snap it.

I've listened to people who insist that the only way to get a decent picture is to use RAW and then process it afterwards to get the most out of the picture. This may be true, but it adds a lot of work to the process but it can be worth whiile

Then several  remarks from people who really should have know better made we want to sell up my stuff and give up, this together with me being on a downward spiral at the time made we look at selling all my gear and getting a cheap point and click camera as in the words of the people in question, "a lot of my pictures were crap".

A few days later, a work colleague of mine said these words to me, "I've not seen any pictures of yours lately, the nature ones really brighten my day up". Bless her, this is what I wanted to hear, I discarded the decision to get rid of my gear and decided to go back to using it the way I wanted to.

While taking wildlife, I leave the camera set to JPG fine mode, with a Sony SLT, you can judge if the exposure is right when you take the picture, if it's too dark or too light you can tweak it as you're taking it. For landscape, I still use RAW as you quite often have to deal with a huge range of brightness.

My enjoyment has gone through the roof.

So in the end, be yourself, don't try and be somebody else, it will only make you unhappy, do the things you like to do, listen to the music that hits your emotions, ignore negative people, enjoy life as much as you can and be the person you want to be

Lots of rambling there, some of it may not make sense to you but it will to some people.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Ubuntu 18.04

I've been a fan and user of Linux for some years now, having dumped Windows about the same time that Microsoft released Service Patch 2 for Windows XP. My journey started with Mandrake, which re branded itself as Mandriva, then onto PCLinuxOS for some years before moving to Ubuntu, I still have a soft spot for PCLinuxOS, it's really a good distro but I've lost the love for KDE but I may try some of the other releases they do.

The main reason behind the move to Ubuntu is that I needed to provide support for it, I was initially using the Gnome 2 desktop and then they released Unity on the world.. It was hated by everyone at first, but I forced myself to use it and after a while I realised how good it was, it didn't get in the way of your work and with a few tweaks was perfect. Ubuntu 14.04 came and went, then we had 16.04 and then Canonical dropped the bombshell that they were bringing Unity to an end and would move their distro to Gnome 3.

Now I'd tried this with Fedora and a few other distros in the past and my experience wasn't great to be honest. Along came the release of Ubuntu 18.04, I tried it and went back to 16.04. But I realised that this was now a dead end, there was no more development and I needed to move forward.

XFCE was suggested and Cinnamon as per Linux Mint, to be fair to XFCE it works but it didn't feel right, Cinnamon and in fact Mint felt sluggish to me, and this showed in tests playing high def video clips, KDE out of the box is just ugly and I know I could customise it but when I did, overall it just didn't look right, so it was back to Gnome 3.

I moved the launcher to the bottom, but the application icon was on the right and not on the left as I was used to, I did some digging round and found that by running

gsettings set show-apps-at-top true

followed by

sudo -i

echo show-apps-at-top=true >> /usr/share/glib-2.0/schemas/10_ubuntu-dock.gschema.override

glib-compile-schemas /usr/share/glib-2.0/schemas/

I could move the button to the left where I liked it.

Next thing was the display, everything looked too big, the display size was right but the fonts were far too big, Linux Mint seemed to have this sorted so I looked at the settings there and after having installed Gnome Tweaks with:

sudo apt-get install gnome-tweaks

I changed the fonts to those from Linux Mint except for the monospace one, I just dropped that by one size and it was all starting to come together.

My other issue is with the top of the screen, in Unity the menu items appeared here but on Gnome 3 it's just a huge area of space that's wasted.

Some more digging round came up with a Gnome extension called "Dash to Panel", I installed this and the top bar vanished and the icons displayed in it appeared on the right hand side of the launcher bar.

This is now looking good and I'm starting to like it, the close and minimise buttons in Gnome 3 are back on the right, I like them on the left so I moved them back with Gnome Tweaks and I now have a desktop that I'm starting to like.

I still need a few tweaks before I'm delighted, the workspace switcher in Unity worked like a dream and I've not seen anything on another desktop that compares with it. and the close and minimise buttons on Google are slightly smaller than the other apps.

After a reboot, my OwnCloud client couldn't find a keychain, I fixed this with

sudo apt-get install libgnome-keyring0

If I could find a way to add the menus back to the file manager I would now be delighted.

I've also installed an app called Wallch, short for wallpaper changer, I'll let you guess what that does.

My last gripe is with a thing called Snap and similarly Flatpak, this is a newish idea to create a one off package that can work on any Linux distro, all the dependecies are included in the package to no more ppas needed. Brilliant idea except, that I have and SSD and normal HDD in my desktop, the Snap applications by default aren't able to read data from anything other than the main drive, you can enable the option to read removable media but this isn't available across all applications.

Let's see how I get on with this and more updates will follow as I find ways to tweak and and improve.

And finally, here's the desktop straight out of the box.

And now after the tweaking

I have just remembered something else, by default you now get some irritating emojis popping up over certain words in Thunderbird, if you install the font manager with:

sudo apt-get install font-manager

Run it and disable Noto Color Emoji

You will find the annoyance all gone, you may get the odd character that can't be displayed but that's easy to live with.