Run, Developer, Run!

Hello, my name is Dmitry, I'm software developer and this is my blog. My passions are minimalism and continuous improvement1. Most interesting things I've done are rugged Raspberry Pi laptop (and other gadgets), collection of useful scripts for Linux users and Fish shell config.

I write about awesome or useful technical stuff I encounter. Also I'll share lots of useful tips. Picked name 'Developer Run' since I'll write notes on the run. I also enjoy running and always pick bad names in general. For updates, subscribe to RSS, Twitter, Mastodon or Pinterest.

This is static blog generated by bunch of Regexes hosted on Cloudflare pages for free, because I have strong belief that thats how blogs should function.

Music Control Tip

Media Controls

Did you know that you can "blacklist" songs on Spotify, by automatically skipping them? Or automatically switch to the next online radio station (use Rekt FM) when there is a song you don't like. Basically, any media control automation you can imagine.

All you need is a playerctl. What it does, it allows to listen media for player events, for example, do action on song change. Also, it allows universal control of media players, for example pausing or skipping the song. Works with any player with MPRIS D-Bus support, so VLC, Spotify, Youtube in the browser, etc. You can write scripts in Bash or Python (for Python bindings install libplayerctl-dev gir1.2-playerctl-2.0).

Contemporary quote about AI

Artificial intelligence

I don't usually drop smarty-pants quotes in this blog, but this one sounds too relevant nowadays. Forget me if I'm being dramatic, but too many people poison everything with AI just for the sake of a quick couple of bucks and hype.

I have not seen quote used recently so let me share it here:

You have no care for your species. For thousands of years men dreamed of pacts with demons. Only now are such things possible. And what would you be paid with? What would your price be, for aiding this thing to free itself and grow?

— William Gibson, Neuromancer

Get Url Preview with Image and Description in Markdown Notes

Url Preview in text editor Thumbnail

Url Preview in text editor

Url Preview in text editor

Your notes are important in the long run, and note-taking apps come and go. Some note-taking services have a lifespan of instruction for paper shredder, while others slowly and painfully become obsolete. Special shout to those using Google Keep: "Somebody just likes to live dangerosly, oi!?".

To keep notes accessible over the years, you need to store them in the simplest and most common format, so switch between the note-taking apps is frictionless. Also notes should be readable even without specific tools. Like plain text. Or Markdown because it is almost plain text with some conveniences. Then you will be able to access important information no matter what the future of computing will look like.

That's why I store all my notes in a Markdown format, edit in Sublime Text, and sync via Git. Sometimes with ASCII WordArt, symbols, diagrams, internal links3 and even embedded images, but still a glorified text files. Speaking about images - modern text editors have a Markdown image preview feature - my Sublime Text has MarkdownImages plugin, I'm sure your editor of choice has it too.

When saving URLs for later, often I need a little bit more info about the page. Especially when collecting links for shopping, a little image is a must. Another example - image preview is a huge convenience when gathering information for DIY projects. And in case the website will disappear, I will still have an image at least.

So we want to get some extra info by URL, page preview, and description (like modern chat apps do). Most of the web pages provide this already in a Open Graph format. If not - we can grab a title and a first meaningful image. Let's automate this process!

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Show Color or Black and White Emojis in different applications

Okay, this is a very specific preference. But what is Linux for, if not for working exactly according to a specific preferences?

I have mixed opinions about emojis. I find symbols as you see on the screenshot1, very useful in notes, documentation, and even terminal. But I prefer them to be rendered grayscale (screenshot left) to not stand out in the text, and look consistent with other symbols I use a lot: ←↑↓→. If you search The Internet, there will be a million advices on how to make emojis colorful. But I was not able to find a bit of info on how to make them black or white or grayscale.

To make things even more tricky, I want colorful emojis in chat applications and Spotify, but grayscale in other applications like text editors and browser.

It turns out that it is very simple to achieve if you use the right configs.

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Your keyboard needs a Scroll Wheel: a Simple Mod

X-Bows Lite with a Scroll Wheel Thumbnail

X-Bows Lite with a Scroll Wheel

X-Bows Lite with a Scroll Wheel

Let me start with a pretentious statement :). Human brains are pretty fast, computers times faster1, but communication speed between two is a disappointing bottleneck. I don't see interfaces like Neuralink in the near future without huge drawbacks, so we are stuck with input devices that have not changed much over the last dozens of years.

When interacting with computers, of course, the mouse is the simplest and most universal way. Or maybe a good touchpad. However if one invests time into learning keyboard shortcuts and tricks, they can do work much much faster. In addition to productivity gains, not touching the mouse (or touchpad) is better in the long run, as wrists will be healthier after 15 years or so.

Even browsing the web with keyboard is pretty convenient. Except for one thing - scrolling. Because the mouse wheel feels much more natural and precise control compared with mashing PgUp/PgDown// buttons.

To improve this, let me tell you about a fast and simple mod to add a scroll wheel to a mechanical (or even regular) keyboard. No need to build the keyboard from scratch, it is an add-on:

Scroll Wheel Add-On

In this example, I will be talking about X-Bows Lite which conveniently has some free space in the middle. But you can apply it to any keyboard, by positioning the scroll in any place or replacing Caps Lock for example.

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Why my daily Linux desktop looks like Windows 9x

Nostalgia is a hell of a drug Thumbnail

Nostalgia is a hell of a drug

Nostalgia is a hell of a drug

Once, as an April Fools' Day joke1 I set a Windows 95 theme on my Linux desktop for a screen-sharing session. Like, look at me, calling in from a vintage computer, ha-ha! Haven't changed the theme back since then.

Turns out, the Classic Windows interface is actually a pretty good choice from a practical point of view. In terms of productivity, elements are compact and clearly distinguishable, colors are nice and not distracting, and icons are meaningful. Not that modern flat interface blur.

It also helps to draw a line between Work and Life mindsets. In the home environment, I have a bit more modern theme, so by creating clear visual associations it helps to switch the brain between concentration and relaxation modes.

And of course, I am nostalgic about 90 era Windows aesthetic. Not about Windows itself, it is a slow and inconvenient OS, but because my first computer had it, it brings back fond memories.

I don't try to reproduce Windows 95 interface 100%. It is more a mix of 95, 98, and even 2000. As reinterpreted nostalgia that captures important memories from a longer time period. Also not going back in terms of usability and productivity.

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Organizing Tip

SKÅDIS pegboard Thumbnail

SKÅDIS pegboard

SKÅDIS pegboard

You probably know about SKÅDIS pegboard from Ikea, which makes your workspace more organized by making use of vertical space. If you have lot of random stuff on your table - you definetely need one because it much easier to keep place tidy when each item has it own dedicated place. Plus it looks nice.

But did you know that if you have access to a 3d printer, you can print perfectly fitting holder for literally anything you own? Form any tool to even beer. Just search for skadis on Thingiverse. And in unlikely case you won't find what you need, theres always an option to super-glue a Generic Hook

So I had Xenomorph figurine...

Alien Thumbnail



So I had The Xenomorph figurine lying around and figured out it fits perfectly in a PC case (huge fans, orange lights, black wires, cooling pipes)...

X-Bows Lite — review of reasonably priced mechanical ergonomic keyboard

With custom keycaps Thumbnail

With custom keycaps

With custom keycaps
X-Bows Lite Thumbnail

X-Bows Lite

X-Bows Lite

I have mixed opinions about the mechanical keyboard phenomenon. From one point I can totally understand spending 400+ bucks on a thing you are interacting with 8+ hours per day, every day. It should be nice. From another point, I'm all about sourcing nice things for a minimal price. Also, I have all skills and resources to build one from scratch except for time.

For a long time, I wanted to try an ergonomic mechanical keyboard (real ergonomic means button rows aligned with the wrists' natural position) but was not sure if I'll like it in the end. So it was hard to justify investing much in that experiment.

Recently I found out about X-Bows Lite — an entry point ergonomic mechanical keyboard. I was able to get mine for 55 bucks, and I'm enjoing typing on it since.

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Militarish Pi: Status update 1

I'm building Raspberry Pi Laptop called Militarish Pi, remember? You are probably not interested in the many reasons1 that stopped me from working on the project, but you might be interested in the status update.

So here are photos from the current prototype. As build is in progress it looks ugly. Still publishing an update as soon as I could because I'm aware of multiple people doing their own great builds based on that. Hope you might find something useful:

Full wiring Thumbnail

Full wiring

Full wiring

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