Wandering Thoughts archives


A home UPS has been more handy and useful than I expected

About a year ago, I gave in to a temptation and got myself a UPS for my home desktop and the things attached to it, including my DSL modem. When I bought it, I expected it to be almost entirely an indulgence, which I justified to myself as insurance against a very badly timed local power outage while I was in the middle of something important while working from home.

(At work, power outages are too rare to worry about, and one that took down my work desktop would also take down our servers. At home they're more frequent enough to be an actual concern, although still not anywhere near common and would only affect my desktop.)

In practice, my UPS has been surprisingly handy, in two different ways. The obvious way is that it's made the infrequent power outages much less disruptive, and much more than I expected, especially for short power outages of a few minutes. In an ideal world, the impact of a few minutes of power outage on me would just be a few minutes of no computer. In practice, various things make even short power outages much more disruptive than they seem. Not only did I lose any un-saved things and disrupt my ongoing work, but the effects lasted well beyond when the power returned, partly because my DSL modem often took a significant amount of time to re-acquire DSL line signal after it turned on again (and then there could be further delays to bring up the DSL connection). With a UPS, all of that is avoided. Even if I opt to get up to take a break (after saving everything) and wait for the power outage to pass, I can immediately get back to work when power comes back.

The other way the UPS has been handy is that I didn't previously realize how often my area had little momentary power blips, ones bad enough to dim the lights and upset some electronic gadgets. With a UPS, the effect on my computer, my DSL connection, and so on is merely a 'clunk' as the UPS turns itself on briefly. If nothing else, this is reassuring (I don't know if any of the various power supplies were previously being affected by these). I would like to have statistics on how often these occur, but unfortunately they don't show up in the information that the UPS makes available to me.

What I take from this in general is that this is yet again a situation where little irritations and frictions added up to more than I thought, so that removing them had an effect bigger than I expected. And I really should have expected actual power outages to be more disruptive than their mere duration would expect, because everyone knows that interruptions, loss of flow, and so on have outsized effects that go well beyond the minute or two your co-worker will take up. But a belief otherwise springs more or less eternal.

tech/HomeUPSHandyThing written at 22:49:03; Add Comment

Seeing what all Cinnamon keyboard shortcuts are

The Cinnamon desktop has a wide collection of things that can have keyboard shortcuts assigned to them, and a somewhat smaller collection of keyboard shortcuts that are actually assigned to them by default. If you want to examine or change what any particular Cinnamon action is bound to, you can do this through the System Settings applet, in the "Shortcuts" tab of the Keyboard settings. Remember to click open the little triangles to reveal all of the setting categories.

Unfortunately, as far as I know Cinnamon doesn't have anything to tell you about all of the currently active keybindings in one place; there's built-in no way to get a list of keybindings with what they do. However, you can inspect or extract this information in a number of ways.

The simplest way, courtesy of this Ask Ubuntu question and answer, is to use dconf-editor to look at /org/cinnamon/desktop/keybindings and its sub-directories, which is where most of the desktop actions are. This will show both edited and default settings, and generally the names are fairly obvious. You want to look at /media-keys as well as /wm, because a number of interesting actions hide out there (such as 'new terminal'). However, /wm has all of the window and desktop manipulation actions, which may be what you care about (it's often what I care about).

If you want to see this information in text form in a command line (or in a way that's easy to see only set keys), life is less easy. The dconf command can be used to dump your own customizations with 'dconf dump /org/cinnamon/desktop/keybindings/', but this won't include the default values. If you want those too (and you probably do), you need to use gsettings with a blunt hammer:

gsettings list-recursively | fgrep org.cinnamon.desktop.keybindings

Any action with a keybinding that's set to '[]' (or I think '['']') has no keybinding set, so you can throw in a fgrep to exclude those. For me, the resulting list is pretty large. You can narrow this to the org.cinnamon.desktop.keybindings.wm sub-group for just window and desktop actions if that's what you're focusing on.

The one thing that the gsettings command won't include is any completely custom keybindings you've set up. For that, you need:

dconfig dump /org/cinnamon/desktop/keybindings/custom-keybindings/

Or you can just dump all of the desktop/keybindings tree, which is less to type and also gets you any additions and changes you've made.

The actual key bindings should be relatively obvious. The <Super> modifier is generally the left additional key (the 'Windows' key on many keyboards), and <Primary> seems to be another name for <Control>. Cinnamon can bind the same action to multiple keys, which is shown as a list of keybindings. And finally, the odd 'XF86...' key names are the names for the various special media and action keys on modern keyboards. There are quite a lot of them defined, not all of which may be present on your actual keyboard. Usually it's fairly clear which special key is which XF86 name, but in doubt you may need to turn to a tool like xev.

(They start with 'XF86' for historical reasons, and you can see the list here.)

linux/CinnamonSeeingKeybindings written at 01:41:28; Add Comment

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