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XScreenSaver unlock dialog tuning

I'm having a bit of trouble accepting that one of the dialogs that is presented to me as frequently as the XScreenSaver unlock window below is by far the least shiny part of my daily Linux desktop experience.

Tuning just the knobs that XScreenSaver already comes with, I eventually got to this point:

The logo still is too much noise and the font still lacks anti-aliasing. However most of the text noise, the pre-90s aesthetics and the so-called thermometer are gone. To bring it to your desktop, use this content for ~/.Xdefaults

xscreensaver.passwd.thermometer.width:  2
xscreensaver.passwd.uname:              False 

xscreensaver.Dialog.background:         #000000
xscreensaver.Dialog.foreground:         #ffffff
xscreensaver.Dialog.Button.background:  #000000
xscreensaver.Dialog.Button.foreground:  #ffffff
xscreensaver.Dialog.text.background:    #000000
xscreensaver.Dialog.text.foreground:    #ffffff

xscreensaver.Dialog.shadowThickness:    1
xscreensaver.Dialog.topShadowColor:     #000000
xscreensaver.Dialog.bottomShadowColor:  #000000

and run

xrdb < ~/.Xdefaults  && xscreensaver-command -restart

as advised by the XScreenSaver Manual. For other approaches, I'm only aware of this one: xscreensaver lock window themes. Please comment below if you know about other approaches. Thank you! PS: The screensaver in the background is Fireflies. For a Debian package, you can run make deb from a Git clone.

Keeping Gentoo systems up-to-date / update notification

Hi! Frequent updates are important, especially with Gentoo. You probably have seen conflicts that filled several screens and were not trivial to resolve. With frequent updates, handling conflicts becomes a lot easier. Frequent updates also gets you security fixes earlier. I would have done it from the beginning, if something would have reminded me to update. By now, for notifications on available updates I use

Former is a tool by Benedikt Böhm sending e-mails with emerge --pretend output whenever it changes. Latter is a bit of a quick hack by me that sits in the tray and shows an icon if updates are available with the number of updates in a tooltip. It requires a cron job to run something like eix-sync once a day but that's probably a good idea anyway. Maybe it's something that you want to use too. If you run into bugs, please report them and share your patches if any. GitHub allows attaching text files by now, it may work with patches, too. I would be curious to hear what other tools you use for being notified of updates on Gentoo. Please leave a comment below. Best, Sebastian

Critical Mass Berlin: Closing the gaps

Hi! I have been participating with Critical Mass Berlin a few times now. Simplified, it's a few hours running a bike through the city with all street lights green by definition, except for those people running the head. It goes a few rounds at Siegessäule sometimes, has gone through Tempelhofer Feld before. It's a few hours of being free, of a new view on the city, it's time with friends if you bring or make some. There are some problems though. I have seen cyclists falling, pedestrians falling while trying to cross the street, both drunk and sober, cars driving into cyclists, drivers getting out and starting a fight until nearby police joins in, a few insane cyclists running the wrong lane. One event shifted my perspective last time: Shit, I get why some are so pissed about it. It was my first time corking a street — the process of blocking cars so they do not run into cyclists by accident. I was running near the head at the time, heard someone shouting "corking!" as a call for help and found myself standing in front of a car. And so I stood there, four of us. I was lucky, the car people were a lot friendlier than what I had observed with others' corkings before. The car I was blocking was delivering pizza. Maybe when blocked everyone is a doctor or delivering pizza or living close by, but I believe he actually was. There was no end of bikes in sight. When the end seemed in sight, it turned out to not be the end, and then again. There were gaps and gaps and gaps again. Why?! To me on the inside, it started to become embarrassing. I should have used a stop watch, to know if my perception tricked me — it seemed like an eternity. With more and more people joining Critical Mass, waiting gets longer, no fix for that. But why gaps, why? Even says "Die Masse bleibt zusammen", the mass remains as one body. What's so hard about it? If I was sitting in a car, waiting for a stream of racing bikes to let go of the road would make sense. But drops of cyclists going as it was for shopping — how are they supposed to sit still and silent to that? Does it have to be that big of a "fuck you" to them? Things could go a lot more smoothly. Maybe I get it wrong, maybe its is a "fuck cars" ride for most but my perception so far was that it's not : it's people who like to ride their bikes, like to have fun, rather than an aggressive statement. The presence of so many is a statement by itself. Maybe it is statement enough? When you participate with Critical Mass next time, I ask you to close the gaps, leading by example, and asking those around you to join closing the gaps, and to give it some speed. Without the wind in your face, you're missing the best part. Thank you!

Fwd: The Case of the Modified Binaries / Downloading binaries through plain http://

It seems I forgot to forward this when it blew my mind the first time. If you still need a reason to not download binaries from http:// URLs , this is it:

The Case of the Modified Binaries binaries/

While SourceForge is another story, they are an example of a website offering binaries through plain http://, e.g. Oh my.