Category Archives: COMPUTERS

The “2022 Thanksgiving Scramble” runs Wed afternoon thru Sun night

Thirty years ago, Thanksgiving week of 1992, I was gifted a hand-me-down IBM 5150 computer.

With that beige box and a telephone modem I mastered the MS DOS command line and local dial-up bulletin board systems (BBSs).

Where did the years go? I suppose partly to coding and programming.

This upcoming holiday weekend, why not reminisce of 80s/90s dial-up and terminal gaming with me?

I invite you to join me and my close friends to explore a free multi-player online game of space exploration.

I started coding this game in 2017 as a POC, then continued refining it over the last five years.

Connect using a web browser, then explore and interact with other players and objects using the command line.

It was inspired by videogames found on 80s/90s computer bulletin board systems (BBSs) like Tradewars 2002 and LOTRD.

This short-duration popup, the “2022 Thanksgiving Scramble,” runs Wed afternoon thru Sun night.

See to join the game or to learn more.

But more importantly, make time to enjoy the Thanksgiving season with your friends and family.

YouTube’s ‘Filters’ are quirky, but can still help discover videos that otherwise will never be shown

I rarely watch programming on the family room television, but over the past several years I’ve spent a significant amount of my evening downtime watching short-duration videos on YouTube across a variety of hobby-based interests.

YouTube mobile apps and website offers viewers a prominent search bar where one can enter keywords. The feature works great, until after a period of time you begin to question to yourself, “There’s got to be more than five people on YouTube uploading videos about [baking | fishing | woodworking | etc.] outside of the handful of contributors I already follow.”

Whether YouTube realizes it or not, there is a lot of great content to discover that is created by contributors with less than 250K subscribers. But don’t rely on YouTube to show them without you putting in some extra work. Let me show you how I recently discovered how to find them.

In addition to the prominent search bar, at least at the time of this writing, you’ll find in the site a ‘Filters’ feature, displayed as either a button or command depending on whether you’re using YouTube’s website or phone/tablet application.

Here’s where things get quirky. I’ve experimented and had the best luck discovering new content when applying TYPE = Video (or) Channel, and SORT BY = View count.

I’ve included a few screen captures below to better illustrate.

Selecting TYPE = Video and SORT BY = View count will show the videos with the highest play counts at the top. But these are the videos for which I’m already most familiar, and therefore this offers no significant benefit to me.

However, selecting TYPE = Channel and SORT BY = View count, the channels relevant to the chosen keyword are sorted with the smallest number of followers, and therefore contain the videos we’ve likely never seen.

Give this a try next time you’re exploring YouTube and I hope you get to discover new content on your favorite hobbies submitted by lesser-known contributors.

YouTube search filters shown on a desktop computer web browser.
YouTube search filters shown in the YouTube app on an Android phone.

Feeling nostalgic for ’90s computer games? Play them for free in a web browser

I lost interest playing most console and computer games in the late nineties. Although there are some exceptions that I will explain another time, the high-level reasons are:

  • I never adapted well to using four additional remote controller buttons introduced on the Super Nintendo in 1991
  • Learning how to program computers began to spoil the enjoyment of playing games
  • New PC games seemed to use practically every key on the full-size keyboard, requiring a steeper time commitment and learning curve

In the nineties there were many enjoyable PC games available that used only a few keys on the keyboard to move, jump, and shoot.

A few years ago I discovered that many of these games are available to play for free, online in a web browser, at the Internet Archive website.

Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, and websites.

The Internet Archive website makes these games playable to visitors using an in-browser emulator named EM-DOSBOX. Once on the site, use the left-hand navigation menu to further refine the filter criteria.

Ubuntu 22.04 included Software Centre is too amateurish for this modern OS

Canonical’s Ubuntu 22.04 desktop operating system is a polished open source PC operating system that for the last two years has replaced Microsoft Windows in my home. And frankly, that’s a wonderful feeling.

I agree with Canonical in its advertisement that Ubuntu is:

  • Complete because includes essential applications like a browser, email, photo and video media applications, and office suite
  • Secure due to security-by-design and included firewall, as well as five years of included security updates
  • Visually Stunning with a shallow and robust settings menu offering a simple, intuitive way to browse and make changes

Where this package falls flat for me is in the included Software Centre application. This application is too amateurish to be included in this modern operating system.

Software Centre, Software Center, or Ubuntu Software?

Across the operating system and when compared to Canonical’s own website, there are discrepancies whether this application is formally named the Software Center (EN-US), Software Centre (EN-UK), or Ubuntu Software (application ABOUT window). Pick a standard and stick with it, please.

An advertisement?

When the application opens, what is shown to the user front and center? A banner advertisement, of course! Advertisements in Ubuntu feel out of place. But don’t be too discouraged as this is not typical of the overall Ubuntu experience.

Non-descriptive tiles

The next three images display tiles, tiles, tiles, tiles, tiles, tiles. There’s no shortage of non-descriptive tiles.

And this is largely my problem. I don’t shop for applications simply looking at icons and quirky application names like postman, Hopsan, and functy. You’re making me work too hard. I can’t click forever browsing for applications like this. Please just show me a sentence or two description of each application.

Software Centre opens to reveal a front-and-center banner advertisement, followed by the Editor’s Picks of favorite icons. It’s up to you to click the icon to discover what purpose kdenlive serves if you’re not already familiar with the application’s name.
Drilling into a category (like Science) reveals pages and pages of tiles that offer little more than cute icons and quirky names.
Drilling into a category (like Finance) reveals pages and pages of tiles that offer little more than cute icons and quirky names.

Mediocre application descriptions

I suspect I can’t blame a mediocre application description on Ubuntu, but instead the application developer.

While in the Finance group, I decided to drill down into a green leaf. Because of course, green leaves and Finance go hand-in-hand in most users’ minds.

This particular application is called nervatura. It’s Open Source Business Management Framework. Ahh, I see. Okay, let’s read more.

Nervatura is a business management framework. It can handle any type of business related information, starting from customer details, up to shipping, stock or payment information.

Phew, that’s good. Because I have business related information that I need handled.

Through no fault of Ubuntu, some application descriptions are written poorly by the developers.

In summary

Kill the tiles, and add a sentence or two description of each application.