Open Source Musings

Sharing a passion for Linux and open source, with a decidedly non-techie slant

(Note: This post was first published at Opensource.com and appears here via a CC-BY-SA 4.0 International License.)

Correct spelling doesn’t seem to be very important to many people these days. There are, however, those of us for whom it is. Yes, I am one of those people.

While I’m not a spelling cop, misspelled words stick out when I encounter them. They hurt my eyes. They hurt my brain.

Any good text editor and, of course, any word processor packs a spelling checker. If you're working in plain text, you can go another route to check the spelling of your document: at the command line. How? With the help of a nifty utility called GNU Aspell (which I’ll be calling Aspell from here on in).

Aspell is fast, easy to use (yes, even for a command line tool!), and flexible. Let’s take a look at how to use it.

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Despite what the why not just use Emacs/vim/VSCodium/whatever brigade may think and say, not everyone needs a powerful text editor packed with every feature. Including a sink and a death ray.

Some folks just need something simple, something basic with which to edit text. You can do that on the GNOME desktop using Text Edit, which is a stripped down version of the venerable GNOME editor Gedit.

While Text Editor has been around for a few years, I haven't used a GNOME-based text editor in that time so it's kind of new to me. To be honest, I liked using Gedit, so I was surprised when found this application in the elementary OS AppCenter. Just to take it for a spin, to see how well it works. Here's what I learned.

Note: I'm approaching Text Editor from the perspective of someone who writes, not as coder. I'm not in a position to judge how well or badly it works for development tasks. You have been warned.

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Here's a quick look at another trio of useful little tools for elementary OS that can help you quickly and efficiently tackle some simple tasks.

The utilities I'm about to look at are ones that you might not always use, but which are handy to have around when you need them. You can quickly install them from the elementary AppCenter.

Just so you know, two of these apps are pay what you can. You're not obliged to pay to full amount a developer asks for, or pay anything at all. However, any money that you can pass the developer's way helps support the continued development of those apps.

Hourglass

Who doesn't need a simple alarm or timer every so often? One of the simplest and easy to use app of this kind that I've come across for elementary OS is Hourglass.

You can create alarms and countdown timers, and also run a stopwatch. I've never used the stopwatch, and really don't see myself ever needing it. But the alarm and timer functions are very useful.

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(Note: This post was originally published, in a slightly different form, at Opensource.com and appears here via a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.)

There are a number of utilities that enable you to view text files when you're at the command line. One of those utilities is more.

more is similar to another tool called less. The main difference between them is that more only allows you to move forward in a file.

While that may seem limiting, it has some features that are worth knowing about. Let's take a quick look at some of what more can do and how to use it.

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You might remember a recent post, in which I discussed my new laptop. It's been a long while since I've written a post like that and, to be honest, I'd forgotten about the kind of reaction a post like that can provoke.

In this case, it was the (almost expected) I don't/can't understand why ..., I'd never use/buy ... comments that a handful of people so graciously sent me via email. Comments pretty much telling me that my choice was the wrong one. That my purchase was the wrong one. That I had better options. Alla that kind of thing.

Those kinds of comments demonstrate a very narrow way of thinking about technology. Those kinds of comments illustrate a very narrow understanding of how people use technology and what they need. Those kinds of comments are filtered through the needs and use cases of those making the comments.

Guess what? Those needs, those use cases aren't mine. They're not universal. Some people seem to find it difficult to believe, but different people use computers in different ways. Different people need and use different software. Different people need and use different devices. They do things differently from you. From me. From my correspondents.

Not everyone who uses a computer, who uses Linux and open source, is an uber techie. Not everyone is developing apps or software. Not everyone is gaming. Not everyone is plugging 17 devices into their laptops or desktops. Not everyone needs fast, powerful computers with massive hard drives, with 256 GB of RAM, with 16 hypercores, packing muscular GPUs, and like. A lot of people need something simple, but something which works. In my case, that's the StarLite.

And if some folks can't understand why anyone would use a computer like a StarLite, the problem doesn't lie with the computer or the person using it ...

Scott Nesbitt

#opinion

Have you heard of TiddlyWiki? It's a portable wiki that you can use on your desktop or put on to a flash drive or mobile device and carry around with you.

TiddlyWiki is essentially a giant HTML file, with a lot of JavaScript and CSS mixed in to enable that file to function as a wiki. But TiddlyWiki is kind of big, too. The starter file weighs in at 2+ MB, and only gets larger as you add to it.

That bulk inspired a web developer named Robbie Antenesse to create a lighter analogue to TiddlyWiki called Feather Wiki. Coming in at just over 63 KB (that's not a typo!), Feather Wiki boasts the basic features of TiddlyWiki while staying fast and lean.

Let's take a look at it.

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At the end of last year, I decided it was time to get a new laptop — my workhorse Galago from System76 was in a slow, steady decline after many years of use.

Before pulling the trigger, I looked at the offerings from a few vendors, including Laptop with Linux and System76. In the end, I decided to go smaller, opting for a StarLite from Star Labs.

A few days after Christmas, 2021 I placed the order for the StarLite. Due to COVID and supply chain issues, it took almost 6 months for that laptop to reach me. You can be sure that I was a happy boy when the courier handed it over to me on that Tuesday morning in May.

I've been using that StarLite exclusively since mid-May, 2022. Let's take a look at it.

(If you're looking for unboxing video, you're out of luck. I don't indulge in that sort of silliness. That said, the packaging was well done!)

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