EINVAL: Valid solutions for invalid problems

Personal Video Game Awards 2022-ish

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This is my personal list of the most notable/memorable games I’ve played in the last few years (not necessarily released then!). Separated into categories that matter to me, games sorted alphabetically. Most of them perfectly playable on GNU/Linux.

Multiple cursors considered… suboptimal

The famous “considered harmful” would be a vast overstatement, but I see them as a solution preventing better solutions. I’m going to talk about the GNU Emacs flavor of them so not all problems and alternatives will apply to other text editors.

VPNs are hard

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Almost every developer ends up using a VPN for work sooner or later. Apart from figuring out how to authenticate, it’s seemingly a simple matter. VPNs—usually associated with privacy—can unfortunately be a source of serious privacy leaks just as easily. Let’s talk about what we may want to check after connecting to a corporate VPN.

Replacement office chair casters

One more problem I didn’t even know I had: bad office chair casters.

A regular consumer's review of Dell S2721DGFA

Game review: Hard West

A solid clone of the modern XCOM games with a few twists making it fresh.

Game review: Return of the Obra Dinn

A great take on the “murder mystery” concept taking action on a ghost ship.

The whole game boils down to deducing two things:

  • The identity of each character.
  • The way they died.

Stock Firefox keyboard controls

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Most keyboard aficionados use various keyboard-related addons in their web browsers, such as Vimium. From my observation, one of the most used features of such addons is keyboard-based link selection with so called hints, which usually looks like this (example from Saka Key): To select a link, one would enter the number shown alongside it. Some addons offer also further filtering of these hints through entering text appearing in the link description.

Emacs as a Shell

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When I log into a new server, one of the first things I do is install a minimal Emacs package1. Of course assuming nobody minds if the server is not strictly mine, I’m not a monster. Emacs serves me as a de facto shell when setting up whatever there is to set up. By “shell” I mean a broader meaning of this word than just a command prompt: it’s the central program I use to interact with the system.

Amazing Crap

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…or should I say “Amazon Crap” as I’d like to talk about Amazon Fire HD 8. I have been using this tablet for about a year now and at this point I can say it is absolutely crap …and I love it! First of all, I’m not a tablet person and I never planned to use my tablet a lot. I was looking for a cheapish device between a laptop and a smartphone.

One year with Notmuch

Email… One of the last bastions of non-proprietary communication with the freedom to choose both service providers and clients alike. Some call it archaic but none can avoid using it to some degree. For years I struggled to find an email client I actually liked. I tried all the usual suspects: Mozilla Thunderbird, mutt, alpine, and others. Even mu4e didn't scratch that itch. I've spent the last few years on Thunderbird as I made a point that even if everything else is failing, email must work, so I tried to avoid any unnecessary hackery.

less can do even more

After writing my last post I took my own advice and reread the less(1) manpage. Surprisingly I found some new really handy tricks that were very helpful not even an hour later! First of all, the pair matching. If the topmost displayed line (that’s the important part!) contains an opening bracket {, we can press this very key to find the matching closing bracket (}). It is displayed by placing the line with the matching } at the bottom.

less can do more

less is probably one of the most used programs in the UNIX world. It’s so ubiquitous we usually barely notice it. For clarity, I mean this less, not this one. Despite its ubiquity, very few people actually take time to learn its less obvious but still very useful features. Let’s change that! First of all, the & key. It prompts for a search pattern and then acts like a filter, showing only the matching lines, not unlike grep.

My experience with Firefox Quantum

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About three months ago, after many years of using Chromium exclusively, I came back to Mozilla Firefox. Actually I was forced to switch because the hardware acceleration in Chromium was crashing my GPU driver (don’t even ask…) but after a few days I was perfectly happy with this forced change. When I switched to Firefox, it was already much snappier than I remembered from my last time. I was really impressed with what the Firefox Quantum team did but up until this point it was still just a good replacement for Chromium.

Secondary login credentials

Sometimes I need to access my files on my servers using SSH/SCP from a not fully trusted device and/or application (think: a smartphone). Usually I would create a new SSH key pair so that I can easily revoke these credentials later if such need arises. But what if the used application doesn’t support SSH keys or we do not want to use them for some reason? There is a trick supposedly used by sysadmins in the olden days, before sudo was around.