Scratch and itches

Aug 04 2012 Published by under realworld

Haven’t blogged for a while, what with kids soccer and scouts and work and kitchen renovations and not having done anything particularly noteworthy technically, and kids cooking and …

Somehow in-between I managed to get to the last four monthly ADL tech meetups, which proved a sanity-restoring interlude from the daily grind, and enjoyment of geek/tech conversations I otherwise have too infrequently at the moment.

Some noteworthy talks included:

  • a tutorial on multiplication using a Chinese abacus, or suànpán
  • a demo of XPRA (, a low latency, persistent, remote X desktop session manager, which I will definitely be able to use at work before too long,
  • an entertaining tour of modern tech-art and the really big roadtrip
  • CACert, a community-based SSL security certifcation organisation

Most recently, I downloaded Scratch (, a visual computer programming environment aimed at children. I installed it with my 11yo on his laptop. So far it has held his interest slightly more than Python did!

I had previously introduced him to Snake Wrangling for Kids, a childrens tutorial for Python programming. At first he thought Python was great but then a bit surprisingly for him, (for the time I think) bored of it. (Perhaps I made a mistake showing him how to produce the Fibonacci sequence with it, now he thinks it is just for math *facepalm*.) I suspect learning that lesson about not saving your work and experiencing a power failure may not have helped either.

His first go at Scratch produce a dancing cat and a trampolinist that kept ‘multiplying’ – he managed to animate it both increasing the number of dancers and shrinking their size using the visual programming method provided. He thought that was cool how he could control the scene. This probably ties in a bit more with his other “fun stuff” – making Lego Claymation-style movies and sound effects. I think he might get back to Python later.

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GnuCash 2.4.8 on Debian Squeeze

Jan 02 2012 Published by under howto, linux

I like to retain for as long as possible the ability to install packages into my Debian system (currently, ‘squeeze’) from stable DVD ISO images made from physical disks previously purchased. This means that at times I have to do some dpkg-buildpackge / make / configure trickery to get things t work as I would like…

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