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August 8 2023 Kmail, PIP, Secret genius

Posted on August 09, 2023
( 7 minute read )

As no-one had anything prepared for this meeting, it was largely taken up with discussion of queries.

Brian mentioned that, on one laptop, the wi-fi was slow to recover from sleep; separately he had also been helping a friend whose wi-fi would not work. He had tried a USB dongle but this would only work if the laptop wi-fi was disabled. John said that, when he had been having problems with wi-fi on a friend’s laptop, it had been suggested that he use:

rfkill list

to find out whether it was a software or a hardware problem. He added that a friend who had been able to use a wi-fi hotspot on his smartphone to connect his laptop to the Internet had suddenly found that it would not work and later found that it would. John had gone on the Internet and found lots of reports of wi-fi problems and loads of solutions for them.

Darren was having problems with his Kmail setup. John said that there is apparently no way to save everything in Kontact but you can export the emails (Tools>Import/Export Kmail data), the contacts (File>Export) and the calendar (File>Export). Darren could do this and then reinstall Kontact which might pick up what was already stored in Akonadi. If not, he could import the exported files.

John commented that Evolution does offer a comprehensive backup but, if you reinstall it, it does not pick up the existing data; you have to restore the backup file.

It was noted that Thunderbird and Gmail normally use IMAP; so the data remains on the server.

Brian shared his 16 port Gigabit network switch which he had bought so that he could have wired connections for all his Raspberry Pis, TV, camera, etc.

Bernard wondered if anyone had any experience of Lemmy, an alternative to Reddit, but no-one appeared to have had.

Darren mentioned the inconsistent results of website speedtests and John commented that the speeds he gets are very much affected by the time of day with much slower speeds during the working day and very fast speeds at night.

Darren also mentioned the problem of having so many browser tabs that you cannot see what each is and Bernard mentioned that Vivaldi allows tabs to be organised in vertical groups.

We noted the programme for the Wuthering Bytes Festival Day on Friday, 25 August 2023.

John mentioned that, while most people have heard of pip, the package installer for Python, there was an earlier PIP, the Peripheral Interchange Program, created by DEC in the 1960s to share data across different devices. This used the destination=source protocol and was later implemented and developed for CP/M.

Devices had names ending in a colon; so

pip CON:=filename.txt

displayed the content of filename.txt on the screen while

pip filename.txt=CON:

saved the keyboard input to filename.txt.

pip AUX:=filename.txt

sent filename.txt to the serial port while

pip filename.txt=AUX:

saved what was coming over the serial port to filename.txt. John had an Amstrad notepad and used PIP to copy files from the notepad to the computer.

It could also be used for copying and moving files and acquired a whole series of switches. For example, if you set the archive switch when backing up files, this would only be unset if the file was changed. So when you did your next backup, only those files with the archive switch unset would be copied. The l switch converted all text to lowercase and the u switch to uppercase.

You could also just enter pip and then enter a series of separate commands.

Bernard mentioned the BBC series the Secret genius of modern life, mentioning specifically Virtual assistant in which Hannah Fry had compared Alexa three years ago with Alexa now and how the intonation now is really good. The programme goes back to the origins of technology. John said that he had watched Bank card which covers the history of the technology from the theramin to the contactless card. Bernard also recommended the one on Food delivery app, AKA Deliveroo.

John commented that you could see a progression from the Lyons Coffee House software in the 1950s through Boots inventory management in the 1980s and Easyjet’s seat price allocation by demand to today. In the 1980s Boots staff did a weekly stock take and the average of the previous three weeks was used to calculate what should be delivered to each store the next week; of course, when EPOS was implemented, this took over the stock checks.

Finally Bernard mentioned the development of number systems from the Babylonian number system and how they had tackled large numbers and the absence of zero. Darren referred to the early forms of abacus and how they may have contributed to the development of number systems. John said that the reason we write out the amount on a cheque is because, when Fibonacci who had grown up and been educated in Algeria published his Liber abaci introducing Arabic numbers, Italian bankers insisted that people who wanted to use them had to write out the amount to avoid any confusion!