Rodent Flatulence Causing Power Outages in Small Towns

Residents of a small town in the Midwest are baffled by recent power outages. The outages are happening at random, and there is no apparent cause.
However, one theory has gained traction among the townsfolk: rodent flatulence.
It turns out that rodents produce a gas called methane, which is flammable. When this gas builds up in electrical equipment, it can cause a spark, leading to a power outage.
This theory is supported by the fact that the outages happen more often in the summer when rodents are more active. Additionally, the outages often happen at night, when rodents are most likely awake and producing gas.
Of course, there is no scientific evidence to support this theory. But that hasn’t stopped the townsfolk from believing it.
Some residents have taken to calling the outages “the methane menace.” Others have started wearing gas masks when they go to bed, just in case.
The power company has been unable to find a definitive cause for the outages. But until they do, the townsfolk will continue to blame the rodents.
In the meantime, the methane menace is keeping everyone on their toes. People are constantly checking their flashlights and making sure their batteries are charged. And they’re all keeping an eye out for any suspicious-looking rodents.
Who knows? Maybe one day, the townsfolk will catch the culprit red-handed, releasing a silent but deadly fart that causes the power to go out. Until then, they’ll just have to live with the uncertainty.
But one thing is certain: this story will be told for years.

Satire created with an assist from Google Bard

Ten Years Later

It’s been ten years since I officially retired from public education. What a change has happened. I wasn’t sure what to do when I left my former employment. Less than a month later, I began volunteering at the local public library. That led to teaching adult education classes which in turn led to an invitation to be a trustee of the library. Which, in time, led to being a trustee of the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System. Ten years ago, I began volunteering at The Warming House in nearby Olean, New York which is the oldest student-run soup kitchen in the United States.  That too led to being invited to be a board member for the Warming House. A high school friend invited me to membership on the board of directors of the St. Elizabeth Mission Society in Allegany, New York. A year ago my time with the Mission Society ended.

A year after I retired, I received a direct Twitter message from a friend who invited me to attend the All Things Open Conference in Raleigh, NC, which, in time, led to an opportunity to become a writer for Another friend sent me writing ideas and encouraged me on that journey which resulted in over three hundred articles published on a number of websites, including,,,, and this blog. Next month I’m returning to the All Things Open Conference for the eighth time. I’ll be seeing friends I’ve met along the way and learning new technology too.

Technical writing led me to learn Python well enough to begin teaching home-schooled children and others in local libraries. I also became a digital literacy trainer.  I have become an experienced grant writer too. I’ve learned how to use Markdown and other tools. I’ve also become an advocate for free and open-source tools in education, libraries, and the community. I’ve helped senior citizens and others learn about various distributions of Linux, including Pop!_OS, Linux Mint, Fedora, Ubuntu, and Raspberry Pi OS.

Volunteering in soup kitchens, meals-on-wheels, libraries and elsewhere has given new meaning to my life. Ten years ago, I worried that my life was ending, but I’m here to tell you that it was the beginning of the end of an old life and the birth of a new one.

I’ve become a grandpa with seven grandchildren and counting too. I’m grateful for my life and the blessings of the last ten years.

Five Open Source Writing Apps

AbiWord: AbiWord is a free and open-source word processor software. It is written in C++, and since version 3, it is based on GTK+ 3. The name “AbiWord” is derived from the root of the Spanish word “abierto,” meaning “open.” AbiWord is openly licensed. It is available on Windows and Linux.

Joplin: Joplin is an open-source note-taking and to-do app that allows you to organize your thoughts and ideas efficiently. It supports markdown and syncing across devices and offers various features like tagging, searching, and encryption. Joplin is available on Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, and Android. You can take notes on your mobile platform and edit them when you get home on your laptop or desktop using Joplin Cloud or OneDrive. Joplin has a AGPL license.

Calligra Words: Calligra Words is a free and open-source word processor part of the Calligra Suite of office productivity software. It is available for Linux and Windows. Calligra Words uses the Open Document Format (ODF) as its default file format. Many different office suites support ODF, a vendor-neutral format. Calligra Words has a GPL v2 license.

Etherpad: Etherpad is a real-time collaborative document editor that runs in your browser. With Etherpad, you can write articles, press releases, to-do lists, and more with your friends, fellow students, or colleagues. Everyone can work on the same document simultaneously, and your changes will be reflected instantly. Learn more about Etherpad. Etherpad is open source with an Apache 2.0 license.

LibreOffice Writer: is a full-featured open-source word processor that offers a wide range of tools and features for writing documents. It supports various file formats, provides a familiar interface, and includes features like spell-checking, formatting, and document collaboration. LibreOffice has a Mozilla License.

When considering a writing application, it’s essential to think about how you will use it. Joplin, a Markdown editor designed for note-taking, is available on multiple platforms and has many features that make it well-suited. Joplin also has a built-in web clipper and a sync feature that allows you to sync your notes between multiple devices.

No matter what your decision, all of these applications are open source, and all support open document formats that ensure that your created work is in a format accessible to you and those you share with.

qrcp: A Command Line Tool to Transfer Files over Wi-Fi using QR Codes


I am an iPhone user, and my daily driver is Linux. I am always taking pictures with my phone but how do I get them easily transferred to my computer? I found the answer a few years ago when I discovered ‘qrcp’.

Qrcp is a command-line tool that allows you to transfer files over Wi-Fi using QR codes. It is a simple and efficient way to transfer files between devices, without the need for any third-party apps or services.

Claudio d’Angelis, the developer, has introduced the qrcp software under the MIT license. The application can be accessed on GitHub and boasts simplicity in both installation and usage. Compatible with Linux, Windows, and macOS, it offers download options in RPM, DEB, and tarball. Remarkably, there are builds tailored for a wide array of platforms, encompassing even the Raspberry Pi

The project maintains a downloads page where you can choose the appropriate package for your platform. Once that is accomplished, you can easily install the software with your package manager.

$ sudo dnf install ./qrcp*rpm


sudo apt install ./qrcp.*deb

Once the software is installed you need to configure it for your computer. If you are running a firewall you can configure ‘qrcp’ to use a particular port and make an exception rule on youir firewall.

$ qrcp config

To begin, initiate the configuration file creation process. Employ the qrcp config command for guidance, though it involves a few intricate inquiries. The first is what interface your computer is going to use, whether wireless, wired, etc. One of the queries is an option to choose a port. I chose port ‘8080’ but you can choose whatever makes sense to you. There is an option to choose a fully qualified domain name. In my case, I left it blank. You can specify a ‘url path’ or leave it blank. You can choose a default directory where the file will be received. Leave it blank, and the file will be placed in your ‘home’ directory.

Once the configuration is complete, you can use ‘qrcp’ to receive or send files from your mobile phone.

$ qrcp receive

The software generates a QR code similar to what is pictured above. Point your iPhone camera at the QR code, and your phone will recognize the QR code and initiate the transfer.

Successful transfers provide feedback on your phone specifying the file name and location where it has been transferred.

You can choose the picture from your photo library and easily send the file or text from your iPhone to your computer using your wireless network.

Get Publii – static site generator

Are you looking for a static website generator that’s easy to install and use? Then you need to check out Publii. It’s a GPL v3.0 static site generator that is the best I’ve seen. I have installed and used Jekyll and Hugo and while they are interesting they cannot hold a candle to Publii. Download and install Publii for your operating system and get started having some fun designing your own static CMS. Publii was easy to install on Linux Mint. I downloaded the ‘.deb’ file and easily installed it on my laptop.It also comes in ‘.rpm’ for Fedora users and as an app image if neither of those packages works for you. Download files for Windows and MacOS users are also available.

Publii is menu-driven and you can easily create a rich site on your computer and use it there or upload it to Gitlab, Github, Amazon, Netlify or any other hosting site you would like to use. The menu interface is very intuitive. Entering text is easy and users can choose a WYSIWYG, Block or Markdown editor.

You can see from the graphic that it’s easy to add posts, add tags, add menus, and authors. You can easily change the theme, some of which are provided or choose your own iteration. The settings menu lets a user select the name of the site and choose the language of the site, with many language choices represented. The server menu selection allows users to choose where the site will be hosted and the protocols used.

Publii introduces a novel approach to web development with its innovative concept—a desktop static website CMS, a first of its kind. Engineered with user-friendliness at its core, Publii caters to beginners while offering many advanced options and functionalities, empowering seasoned web developers to implement intricate customizations. By utilizing Publii, crafting secure and high-speed static websites becomes remarkably streamlined, eliminating unnecessary complexities.

Publii serves as a desktop application that empowers you to develop, revise, and enhance your website offline. Subsequently, you can effortlessly synchronize the alterations you’ve made to your site with your server by simply clicking a button. The versatility of Publii extends to accommodating various upload methods, encompassing traditional HTTP/HTTPS servers, Netlify, Amazon S3, GitHub Pages, Google Cloud, and SFTP, among others. Publii also includes software to backup your site, view log files, and import ‘wxr’ files.

You can easily examine Publii source code You can support the project easily too. Documentation is readily available and is menu driven too. If you are a developer Publli has help for you too.

WoeUSB-ng to the rescue

Frequently, I’m approached by individuals seeking assistance in rescuing Windows computers that have encountered locking or damage issues. I occasionally utilize a Linux USB boot drive to access Windows partitions effectively. This enables me to transfer and safeguard files from these compromised systems securely.

Sometimes, clients misplace their passwords or lock themselves out of their login accounts. One viable method to restore account access involves generating a Windows boot disk to initiate repairs on the computer. Microsoft provides the option to obtain Windows copies via its official website and tools designed for crafting a USB boot device. However, utilizing these tools necessitates access to a Windows computer, posing a challenge for me as a Linux user. Consequently, I’ve sought alternative approaches for creating a bootable DVD or USB drive. My go-to tools, such as, Popsicle (for Pop!_OS), UNetbootin, and even utilizing the command line utility ‘dd’ for crafting bootable media, have yielded limited success. Since my daily driver is Linux, it was near impossible to create a USB drive with a bootable Windows version.

A few years ago, I learned about WoeUSB and the subsequent project WoeUSB-ng. WoeUSB-ng is a software utility used for creating bootable Windows USB drives using Windows ISO images and effectively transferring them onto a USB drive, making it possible to install or repair Windows operating systems from that USB drive. On Linux systems, the WoeUSB-ng software package. The “ng” in its name stands for “next generation,” indicating that it’s a successor or evolution of the original WoeUSB tool. I have used it to create bootable Windows drives with both Windows 10 and Windows 11. WoeUSB-ng is open source with a GPL v3 license.

The project website lists several install options for Linux users.

Fedora users can use the following commands to install the software necessary to support WoeUSB-ng.

sudo dnf install git p7zip p7zip-plugins python3-pip python3-wxpython4

Ubuntu/Linux Mint users can use the following commands to install the software necessary to support WoeUSB-ng.

sudo apt install git p7zip-full python3-pip python3-wxgtk4.0 grub2-common grub-pc-bin parted dosfstools ntfs-3g

Then issue the following commands to install WoeUSB-ng on your system.

git clone
cd WoeUSB-ng
sudo pip3 install .

Once the software is installed, creating a bootable Windows drive is very straightforward.

Click install, and depending on the processor and RAM in your machine, you should have a bootable Windows 10 or Windows 11 drive in very little time. This article is adapted from Use this bootable USB drive on Linux.

Crafting a Universal Linux Live USB Drive

I frequently create USB boot devices for Linux to troubleshoot ailing Windows computers. I also use these drives to introduce new users to the beauty and utility of using Linux as their primary operating system. If you are a Fedora user, you can easily create bootable media using the Fedora Media Writer. It is usually included by default with Fedora, but if not, you can easily create your media by installing the software on your computer with the following command.

sudo dnf install liveusb-creator

Pop!_OS users can use Popsicle. Popsicle, an open-source application designed for Linux, empowers users to securely and effortlessly write images onto USB drives. This software comes pre-installed in Pop!_OS versions 18.04 and newer. Popsicle has an MIT license.

Linux Mint users have Mintstick which is part of the default install of LinuxMint Cinnamon 21.2. Like Popsicle it can be used to create live USB drives from any Linux ISO you can download. It is open source with a GPL v2 license.

Ubuntu users have a similar tool designed to create bootable USB drives for Ubuntu. The Fedora and Ubuntu tools are great to make bootable media for those distributions. But what if you create a bootable drive for Linux Mint or Pop!_OS? Neither of the previous tools will create that media. There is an excellent open-source tool that allows you to make the media you need regardless of the host operating system you are using. It’s Balena Etcher.

According to the project’s Github repository, “Etcher is a powerful OS image flasher built with web technologies to ensure flashing an SDCard or USB drive is a pleasant and safe experience. It protects you from accidentally writing to your hard-drives, ensures every byte of data was written correctly, and much more. It can also directly flash Raspberry Pi devices that support USB device boot mode

Etcher is also available for installation of MacOS 10.10 and later and Microsoft Windows too. If you are on a Debian or Ubuntu based system you can install Etcher easily with the following command sequence. Download the latest release for Debian/Ubuntu.

  sudo add-apt-repository universe
  cd Downloads
  sudo apt install ./balena-etcher_*_amd64.deb

Fedora users can install Etcher using ‘dnf’,

   sudo dnf upgrade --refresh
   sudo dnf install balena-etcher-1.18.12.x86_64.rpm

If you are a Windows user, you can install Etcher using Chocolatey.

choco install etcher

MacOS users can install it by downloading the disk image.

Etcher has excellent documentation and an Apache 2.0 license.

Mastering Markdown with MarkText

A few years back, I learned about Markdown. I had never heard of it until I started exploring Jupyter Notebooks. Markdown was a familiar skill to many of my writing colleagues. It remained an uncharted territory for me.

Markdown is a universal method for composing text, employing concise notation to apply to style. For instance, rather than relying on a button click to emphasize a word, you envelop the word with two asterisks **word**.

Markdown holds a significant edge in its reliance on intuitive notations, often drawing from our ingrained habits. Employing asterisks for emphasis, and utilizing characters to distinguish headlines – these practices align seamlessly with our natural inclinations.

While its merits were extolled by many, I remained uncertain about the necessity of acquiring markdown skills. My inherent curiosity, however, drove me to delve into the realm of markdown, investigating how it could integrate into my writing endeavors.

As I underwent the learning process, I found an excellent Markdown cheat sheet online and discovered that I could write Markdown in any simple text editor like ‘nano’, ‘vim’, or ‘gedit’. While it is technically possible to use almost any text editor to write Markdown, it is much more powerful to use an editor specifically designed to output Markdown formatted documents.

I stumbled upon MarkText, a platform equipped with features that streamline markdown writing while presenting an unobtrusive interface. This tool boasts six themes, comprising three light and three dark options. I find the dark themes more comfortable to work with. Notably, the user documentation is comprehensive, and a dedicated resource for markdown syntax assistance is also available.

MarkText presents a clean, minimalistic interface with a real-time preview feature. It accommodates several markdown specifications, including Commonmark, Github Flavored Markdown, and Pandoc Markdown. Its official website shows MarkText supports markdown enhancements like KaTex, front matter, and emoji usage. The application is capable of generating both HTML and PDF output files.

Within Mark Text, you’ll find diverse editing modes such as typewriter mode, source code mode, and focus mode. Incorporating images is effortlessly achieved by copying and pasting them directly from the clipboard.

For added convenience, a pop-up situated in the upper-left corner of the Mark Text interface provides a continuous tally of the characters and paragraphs that have been entered. This proves particularly advantageous for writers.

Saving files is a straightforward task accessible via the upper-left menu of the MarkText window or by employing the Ctrl+S shortcut. Remarkably, the menus within Mark Text bear a friendly and recognizable resemblance to those found in fundamental text editors or word processors, creating a sense of familiarity for users.

The versatility of Mark Text truly impresses me, as it effortlessly accommodates many formats through simple keystroke shortcuts. These include table blocks, diagrams, inline formats, math formula blocks, and other code blocks.

You can acquire Mark Text for your respective operating system through the following links:

Mark Text is an open-source project governed by the MIT license. The latest version can always be obtained via download.

Alternatively, on macOS, you can install Mark Text using

brew install --cask mark-text

On Windows, installation can be accomplished through Chocolatey by running

choco install marktext.

Mark Text continually seeks the support of sponsors and developers. The project provides a guide for those interested in contributing. Furthermore, you can back the project on Patreon and Open Collective.

This article is adapted from Why MarkText is my favorite markdown editor 

Reviving Vintage Laptops: A Tale of Linux Mint and Broadcom Woes

A week ago, I met Gary at the local library; who was having trouble with his aging Dell laptop that he had purchased from a refurbisher. Troubleshooting revealed that the laptop was fine but needed an operating system. Gary chose to let me install Linux Mint Cinnamon on his computer.

A few days ago Gary emailed me to ask if I could help him with another laptop he’d purchased from a refurbisher. Similar models are currently selling for $45 online. I started the laptop with a USB with Linux Mint 21.2 Cinnamon edition and used ‘inxi‘ from the command line to determine what the processor, RAM, and wireless card were. This one Dell Latitude D630, which is vintage 2007, had an Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 processor with 4 gigabytes of RAM and a Broadcom 4311 wireless card.

I quickly decided that Linux Mint XFCE was a better OS choice than Cinnamon due to the processor and RAM. Fortunately for us, we were in the public library, and I had no trouble downloading Linux Mint 21.2 XFCE. I wrote the image to the USB drive and began the installation process on D630. The computer started up well and loaded Mint XFCE very well. I chose to install it, and after twenty minutes, we had a laptop with Mint XFCE adequately installed.

However, this D630 had Broadcom wireless, so the wireless card wasn’t recognized out of the fresh install. I have encountered this issue before with Dell laptops and knew immediately what to do. An internet search led me to Ubuntu’s excellent documentation of how to install Broadcom wireless drivers. I followed the command sequence below to update the drivers easily and restarted the Latitude D630.

sudo apt update
sudo apt install firmware-b43-installer
sudo apt install linux-firmware
sudo reboot

Once the computer was restarted, the tiny wireless indicator light began to glow as it should. I knew we were in business and could finish the update process and add additional software to this vintage Dell laptop. Gary had a big grin and once again thanked me for rescuing another old laptop from the landfill.

Happy Birthday Dara


Men truly grasp their masculinity once a daughter enters their lives. My journey towards complete maturity initiated precisely thirty-six years ago today with the arrival of our daughter, Dara Maria. Until that moment, our son had occupied the core of our existence. His birth, a wondrous occurrence, had reshaped our lives, altering my perception of divine love and the responsibilities of parenthood.

During that era, the absence of gender reveal festivities and advanced technologies left us without any clues about the heartwarming gift that graced our lives on the afternoon of August 10, 1987. We had pondered names for both a boy and a girl. ‘Dylan’ was reserved for a boy, while ‘Dara Maria’ awaited a girl’s arrival. As fate would have it, Dylan never joined us, but Dara Maria did. She arrived petite compared to her brother, exuding a serene demeanor. Unlike her brother, she peacefully slumbered through the nights, initially nestled in a bassinet beside our bed, then in a crib adjacent to our room, and eventually in her pink-adorned space.

Sibling rivalries and disputes over toys emerged. As did debates over her allegiance to a National Football League team, Our son ardently supported the Buffalo Bills and insisted that Dara align herself with the Kansas City Chiefs. She forged friendships within our neighborhood and later at school. A participant in street hockey games with the local boys, she willingly accepted the “permanent all-time goalie role.” Excelling in both academics and athletics, she graduated third in her class. The school superintendent crafted an award exclusively for her, recognizing her exceptional achievements.

Her departure for college arrived too swiftly, and the void her absence left in our daily lives was keenly felt.  A father’s affection extends equally to both sons and daughters, yet the bond between him and his daughter is unique. Frequent journeys to her college ensued, introducing us to new acquaintances and guiding us through fresh locales and dining establishments along the picturesque Erie Canal.

The college years were a tapestry of intellectual achievements, culminating in Dara’s graduation with Summa Cum Laude honors, boasting an impressive 3.97 GPA. Her educational path led her to graduate school at St. Bonaventure University, where she continued her exceptional streak with a perfect 4.0 GPA.

Amidst this period, she made her way to Buffalo, cultivating fresh relationships and forging new connections. The notion of her life in the “Queen City” initially evoked apprehension within her parents, yet Dara’s own experiences gradually dismantled our preconceived beliefs regarding urban life and safety. Additionally, she embarked on a teaching vocation, transitioning from her initial role in First Grade to becoming a reading educator for middle school students.

In due course, her path intertwined with Shaun’s, and their bond flourished, eventually culminating in a splendid wedding ceremony at Christ the King Chapel, nestled within the serene grounds of Canisius University.

After two years, Dara and Shaun gave us the gift of Edison, gracing us with his arrival on his mother’s 30th birthday. This addition seamlessly wove another thread of delight into our family’s narrative.

In unison and during times of separation, we navigated the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. A revelation came our way approximately a year ago—news of impending fraternal twins. We embraced the wait with hope and patience, curious about the new dimensions these tiny newcomers would introduce to our familial tapestry. The eagerly anticipated moment arrived in March of this year when Emmet and Mae entered, bringing their precious presence and further enriching our lives.

Happy Birthday! Your presence and boundless enthusiasm for life and love have brought about a profound transformation in our lives. With love, Dad.