New MacBook Air M2

It’s been a few years since I purchased a MacBook. My last Mac was a MacBook Pro I bought in the spring of 2020. Since then, I’ve been using Linux exclusively. My desktop is an Intel NUC 11 that’s running Linux Mint Cinnamon, and I’ve no plans to change that anytime soon. However, I’ve heard lots of good reviews of Apple Silicon. I experimented with a MacMini with the M1 chip a bit over a year ago but sent it back and purchased an HP DevOne, which I had docked for just about a year.

When I upgraded to the NUC 11, the DevOne became an extra laptop. I’ve been using it since August in that capacity. Last month I took it to All Things Open and used it for note-taking, writing, and tooting. I was disappointed in its battery life and the 14-inch display was not enough for a guy who’s used to more desktop real estate.

I was attracted to the MacBook Air M2’s 15.3-inch display. My eyes aren’t what they used to be, and I need bigger fonts on a bigger display. I read many reviews and visited the Apple Store nearby to inspect this new Mac. I was impressed and almost purchased a unit that day. I decided to walk around the mall and left without purchasing the MacBook. More positive reviews and commentary from some of the open-source podcasts I listen to.  That led me to purchase this unit on a ‘Black Friday’ deal from Amazon. The MacBook Air arrived today and got it configured the way I wanted to. I installed the latest Python from and Visual Studio Code .

I wanted to ensure that I could use this new laptop to continue to hone my Python skills.

I used HomeBrew to install some of my other favorite open-source apps which included GnuCash, MacDown, and Joplin. I’m not doing any heavy lifting with this laptop but I was attracted by its reported long battery life. This MacBook Air M2 came with 256 GB SSD and 8 GB RAM. I like the feel of the keyboard and the overall performance and build quality. There are no readily apparent downsides to this new purchase.




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.

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 

Why Linux Mint Could be Your Perfect OS Choice

I have owned several MacBooks and purchased one for my wife a few years ago. She’s not a power user, mainly utilizing it for shopping, email, and discovery. As it approaches the end of its life, each new OS upgrade renders it less usable. Although my wife has never used a Linux computer, transitioning might be smooth. After all, many of her applications are readily available on Linux Mint. Upgrading to Linux Mint could be the best option for her.

Here are five reasons why Linux Mint might be a better choice for the average user than purchasing a new MacBook.

Customizability and Flexibility:

Linux Mint offers a high level of customizability and flexibility. Users can choose from various desktop environments (Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce) and tweak the system to suit their needs. This level of control is not as readily available in macOS, which is designed to offer a consistent user experience across its devices.

Cost and Accessibility:

Linux Mint offers an open-source and free-to-use platform, while macOS remains exclusive to Apple hardware, leading to higher costs than comparable PCs. For budget-conscious users or those seeking the freedom to install the OS on a wide range of hardware, Linux Mint presents a more affordable and accessible alternative. It’s even possible to install Linux Mint on her MacBook Air.

Software Repository:

Linux Mint gains a significant advantage from its vast software repository, offering users a plethora of free and open-source software. The package manager (APT) streamlines application installation and updates. While macOS also features an extensive collection of applications through the App Store, it fails to rival the sheer number and variety available in Linux’s repositories.

Community and Support:

The Linux Mint community exudes passion and activity, always eager to assist newcomers and experienced users. Online forums, documentation, and community-driven support offer many resources to troubleshoot issues and delve deeper into the OS. While macOS also boasts a strong user base, the open-source community’s nature often fosters more accessible and diverse support channels.

Privacy and Data Control:

Linux Mint empowers users with greater control over their data and privacy. Unlike macOS, which tightly integrates with Apple’s ecosystem and services, Linux Mint enables users to determine data-sharing preferences and recipients. Moreover, being open-source, the operating system’s inner workings remain transparent, facilitating auditing for potential security and privacy concerns.

My open source story

In 1995, an email from my brother introduced me to Linux. Although I had heard of a high school student using Linux to build a web server, my knowledge was limited. Intrigued by my brother’s recommendation, I purchased a copy of Red Hat 5.0 from a nearby computer store. However, my initial attempt to explore it on an older computer resulted in a command prompt without success in running Xserver, leaving me unimpressed. A year later, I stumbled upon Red Hat 6.0 during another visit to the store. Taking it to work, I successfully installed Gnome on a Hewlett-Packard Vectra 75 with a Cyrix processor upgrade. This experience sparked my interest further.

The Red Hat 6.0 distribution came bundled with fascinating software like the Mozilla browser and OpenOffice 1.0, which I hadn’t encountered before. Excited about this discovery, I shared it with my IT team, and together we experimented with another machine. While we could browse Yahoo Mail using the browser, our workplace’s official email system, Lotus Notes, remained inaccessible. It was around early 2001 when I expressed my dissatisfaction with content filters to a vendor, and he suggested I build my own using Linux. This suggestion was an epiphany for me.

With minimal knowledge of Linux and no prior experience building a content filter, I embarked on a rapid learning journey. Armed with a Dell Optiplex GX1 equipped with a Pentium II-300 processor, I upgraded the hard disk and purchased Suse Linux 7. Through my exploration, I came across Squid and Squidguard and discovered Mandrake Linux, which appealed to me for various reasons. I also learned about the Red Hat Package Manager. Leveraging these newfound tools, I successfully built the first non-proprietary content filter in the history of Western New York’s public schools. Initially using Mandrake and later Fedora Core 1 on the older Dell machine, I employed Squid and Dansguardian to meet the requirements of CIPA compliance with E-rate. Although I faced some resistance from other technicians, I gradually demonstrated the legality and practicality of this solution over time.

This was just the beginning of my Linux journey. While developing the content filter, I delved into Samba and created our first network-attached storage device, providing our teachers with a reliable file backup solution. Subsequently, we built a Samba server running Fedora Core 1 and 2. I found stories of other schools utilizing Linux and learned about the K12 Linux Terminal Server Project. I taught myself Linux and Linux system administration through online forums, Google searches, and several books. I became a passionate advocate for open source, often promoting it at regional technology coordinator gatherings.

Using idle computers tucked away in closets across our school, I assembled a working demonstration of the K12 Linux Terminal Server. With an old Pentium II-300 boasting a mere 192 megabytes of RAM, I acquired special boot ROMs and repurposed additional older computers as thin clients for the server. One of our principals was so impressed with the results that he suggested implementing this solution in one of our computer labs. The success of the trial led to equipping two computer labs and numerous computers in classrooms and libraries with the K12LTSP solution. As the project expanded, we needed a more robust server and acquired a Dell PowerEdge with an advanced RAID controller. However, this setup proved incompatible with K12LTSP packages on Fedora Core 4. That’s when I discovered K12LTSP on CentOS. We adopted the CentOS 4 LTSP server as our DHCP server, seamlessly integrating it with Microsoft’s Active Directory. It served us well for over three years until we eventually virtualized our servers using VMWare ESX.

My foray into learning Linux empowered me to explore and create in ways I never imagined possible. Initially, open source presented challenges, with some components requiring unfamiliar configurations. However, I overcame these obstacles by relying on search engines and reading forums on the internet on Red Hat, Fedora, and other Linux user groups. Subsequently, I secured grants funded by our New York State Legislature, allowing me to attend Red Hat System Administration training in March 2003. A year later, another grant facilitated my participation in the Linux Boot Camp hosted by Training Camp and taught by Ross Brunson. Brunson’s teaching method involved building a system “from the ground up” with Red Hat 7.0, starting with the command line and gradually transitioning to a graphical user interface.

Equipped with experience and training, I became a resource for other regional school districts. Recognizing the tremendous potential of teaching students Linux, I seized every opportunity to do so. Unlike other operating systems, Linux allowed students to learn the fundamentals and progress to building their files and web servers. I utilized tools like VirtualBox to virtualize other Linux systems, such as Ubuntu and Debian, providing students with additional learning opportunities. Beyond developing a deep understanding of the operating system, my students and I familiarized ourselves with various open-source projects such as Audacity,, Apache, WordPress, Drupal, and Moodle, to name just a few.

The open-source ethos resonated with my desire to serve individuals and small businesses, which continues to this day as I work as a consultant for my own information technology business.

The foundational knowledge that propelled me toward advanced studies continues to animate my life and career. I teach young people and adults about Linux using platforms like the Raspberry Pi computer at our local library and other venues. Linux and open-source software have also spurred my exploration of social entrepreneurship, heavily influenced by what I have learned and witnessed within the open-source community. Later this month, I will be able to teach middle school students how to use Raspberry Pi 400 computers and Python at a local library.

This article is adapted from

Ubuntu v. Macintosh and Windows

I’m not bowled over by the Macintosh.  It’s a great OS with some great tools and like a friend said on Facebook when I first got it, it is Linux with great multi-media.  I love Photo Booth, iPhoto, iMovie and iDVD all great software products that work together rather seamlessly. But are they worth double the price of a Dell for the average person. I don’t think so. I think Apple’s future is with the iPhone and maybe their upcoming tablet. They are really a desktop OS and the future belongs to mobile platforms. I think Microsoft has gotten the bugs out of Vista in Windows 7. So far it’s quite easy to operate and doesn’t have all the “yes/no” permission questions of Vista. I got Windows 7 Premium because I wanted to experiment with their multimedia tools too. I bought this Dell Inspiron 1545 because I got a great price. It was a refurb and most of my PCs are Dell refurbs. I save $200-$300 per unit that way. I wanted to install Ubuntu on it from “go” and I also wanted to virtualize Windows 7 and experiment with it. I will use Virtual Box which is really a great product and one that I’ve got almost two years experience with. I bought the machine for the added RAM, more storage and faster processor because I intend to have some more virtual machines running.

One of the things that I’ve discovered in my Mac adventure is that there is no where near the number of great open source applications on the Macintosh side of the house as their is in either Windows or Linux. I missed that. Also, I do some web application development and the tools aren’t there as easily as they are in Ubuntu. I really discovered that over Christmas break when I was building the Eucalyptus “cloud.” Apple has that software on disk that you can load on the Mac, but since its BSD Unix it’s a bit different than Linux and it just makes it more difficult. The other real pain in the butt with a Mac is its real lack of the second button on the mouse even when you are using a touch pad on a laptop. There are keystroke shortcuts you can use, but its just not as easy as with a PC or a Linux desktop. I’m used to cutting, copying and pasting with Cntrl-X, Cntrl-C etc. and with the Mac it’s a bit different. I miss the big screen of the 15 inch and Linux in general and Ubuntu in particular supports virtual desktops. That’s really not supported as well on either Windows or Macintosh.

The other plus with Ubuntu and Linux in general and this is where Linux really kicks both Windows and the Mac is you have the same OS whether mainframe, desktop, laptop or mobile device and it’s just plain stable.  I’ve had no blue screens with Windows 7 and I didn’t with the Mac either. I can run Ubuntu or Linux on darned near anything and have resources to spare. I also think that Apple doesn’t use the fastest DVD/RW drives and the USB ports on the MacBook were noticeably slower than the USB on my nearly three year old Dell Inspiron 6400. Go figure! Not all Linuces are equal to Ubuntu on the desktop. Red Hat is decidedly more server oriented and their development product Fedora (which I used a lot at one time) is not the equal of Ubuntu at present. Ubuntu is more international in it’s flavor which is probably a good thing. Both Dell & IBM are favoring Ubuntu on the desktop and server and much of Amazon’s cloud (EC2) is Ubuntu oriented too.

I really think the future is mobile and Microsoft understands that well and is positioned to support that with mobile devices. Ubuntu and Linux in general is mobile oriented too. Motorola, Google and a host of other vendors are or have developed mobile devices using Linux and Apple Mac while cool is really a desktop OS and although the OS is inexpensive at $29 a copy it is very proprietary after that point. Their real mistake in my opinion is not opening up their platform like Microsoft did with Windows, but that’s because they are desktop or laptop oriented. Apple is a great company and I have always loved their innovative products, but they are pricey too.  Well those are my thoughts. In short you can get two computers for the price of one if you use either Ubuntu or Windows 7. In this day thrift the $1200 Mac has a tough row to hoe. If Microsoft got smart and put Windows on a Unix core the game would be up for Apple.

New theme

Theme change for the first time since I began blogging on WordPress a few years ago. I liked my old theme, but was ready for something different.  This has been a year of change and I’ve experimented with my life a bit. I followed my heart back to St. Bonaventure University even when the lure of doctoral program at another school beckoned. I would like to get a doctorate at some point and maybe my trip to Bonaventure will eventually produce that. I just love research and finding out new information and applying it. After I overcame my initial worries about keeping up with my classmates in a subject area I had not officially explored.

This spring I’m going to be involved in an internship in special education. It’s an area I know very little about, but its quite fascinating. This fall I took school law and leadership. Initially I liked the leadership course quite a bit more than the law course, but my love of research took me deeper into the law. I discovered that I had a trivial pursuit understanding of such important cases as Brown v. Board of Education.   Going back to school at 56 was also a concern. I was self-conscious about being the old guy in the class. That was quickly allayed by one of my classmates who wrote such a touching response to one of my initial answers that it brought me to tears. Those tears were a blessing and a benediction which provided the acceptance within my own heart that I was doing the right thing.

I also purchased a MacBook Pro because I wanted to be a bit more mainstream. I was afraid that using Ubuntu and Open Office would be frowned upon at the University. I was wrong about that. All of my writing was actually done in Google Docs and OpenOffice.  I learned that I could use open source tools in higher education with no penalty. Bonaventure is a Microsoft oriented school, but many students had a Mac like me and professors are really only concerned if work is done.  Our course was delivered in a hybrid format which featured Moodle, yet another open source application.  My experience has left me looking forward to the spring semester with great anticipation and the knowledge that I can contribute. I feel younger too and energized.

I often found myself on campus working at Friedsam Library. Entering and leaving the library I was greeted by a display of my old friend Thomas Merton. In fact Merton is everywhere in my life, my trips to Mt. Irenaeus, University ministries, walking across campus and looking up at “Merton’s Heart.”  There’s a new theme in my life and it’s really an old theme that’s been restated.

Rebel with Cause

This is a cross posting from my other blog.

James Dean made a name for himself in the 1950’s movie, “Rebel Without a Cause.” In the past almost four years I’ve been determined to show that Linux and in particular Ubuntu Linux is a viable desktop operating system. I’ve proven it to myself time and again but still it remains an outlier in consumer circles. In the last week I’ve rebuilt three Windows computers that had been virtually destroyed by malware. In two of the three cases the individuals let their virus protection lapse, in the third the lady was using a well known anti-virus and security solution and she still was victimized. When I returned the computers to their owners I suggested how they could work to keep their machines from becoming infected again.

Lately, I’ve taken a more active stance promoting both Ubuntu equipped personal computers and Macintosh computers because Windows seems more vulnerable than ever. I can’t think of anything I do other than iTunes and Quicken which couldn’t be accomplished on Ubuntu. I’m able to read blogs, write blogs, send and receive email, participate in social networks, write HTML, and create and update websites. Have I left anything out. That’s a pretty complete listing. In any event I’m able to do all of that from my Dell Inspiron 6400 with Ubuntu 9.04. I am definitely plugging Ubuntu, but for you could do the same with Fedora and OpenSuse, PC Linux OS and the other Linux distros. Ubuntu just happens to be my favorite.

Recently I bought my son a MacBook for his home. Why a MacBook and not Ubuntu? Simply so that he could keep up with the Joneses in his life. All his friends have Macs and I thought what the heck. But, really there is no real difference in operating efficiency on Linux or Macintosh OSX. Both are open source at their core and Unix and Linux are much more secure and stable. I have to admit that the Macintosh GUI is compelling, but I still like using two and three buttons on my mouse or touchpad and that’s not possible with a Mac. In fact that two button dilemma is driving my son a bit batty. He’s used Windows most of his life and those of us who use Windows and Linux know that a mouse has more than one button and nearly all of our keyboard shortcuts are the same.

I am going to keep pushing Linux and Ubuntu in particular because it’s the most stable, least costly and most fun operating system on the planet at this time.


Lately my thoughts have been more and more silence. I’ve had little to write about nor little to share. I’ve been writing about what I’m doing with open source software, but have had very little that I cared to share about on this writing space. The election is boring. I have little hope that the election will bring any real change no matter who is elected. It’s all about corporations these days and not about the will of the people if indeed it ever was.  I’ll be traveling on Friday to St. Francis Springs Prayer Center in North Carolina for a Holy Name Province Peace and Justice Retreat.