A Netbook in 2021

As everyone knows, I am a huge fan of Linux for many applications. I have a number of Linux-based servers running, I have been using different Linux dervates for work and privately in virtual machines, but until recently, I did not have a desktop system with Linux. I have been missing that every once in a while. Some things, such as network administration and software development are just so much easier on Linux. I did not want to spend much money on an additional machine though, especially since my daily driver will remain on Windows, for family reasons. I thus settled on a netbook. Yes, one of these small screen devices popular in the early 2000s. I figured that it should offer sufficient performance for my use cases, while remaining portable and cheap. Of course, I went with an Arch Linux installation.

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kapps

I am a big fan of the technology in the Kindle. I am not talking about ebooks and Amazon’s setup to sell them in proprietary formats, DRM, etc. But the E Ink display of the Kindle, the thinness of the device with high energy efficiency and long battery runtimes. Some time ago I thus used a Kindle Touch to build a Kindle Alarm Clock. There, I am using a HTML frontend, shown in the webbrowser of the Kindle with jailbreak and connecting to a backend webserver, implemented in Python and running on the Kindle, as well. When building it, it dawned on me that one could extract this setup into an app framework to make it easier for developers to develop apps for Kindles. This would allow great reusability of older devices, which are rather cheap and might otherwise end up in trash. A complete waste of an excellent technology. Thus, I set out to create kapps, a framework for apps on Kindle. The following article is a copy of the kapps README at the time of writing. There is also a wiki available with more information on its usage.

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Detecting Laptop Dock

In my last post, I showed how I automate the LEDs mounted behind my computer screen to turn on and off automatically, when I log in or log out of the computer, respectively. There is a small caveat though: My computer is a laptop. Thus, it is possible that it is not in its docking station at the desk, but e.g., with me on the couch. In this case, I of course don’t want to turn on the LEDs. Thus, I need to detect the docking state of the laptop and notify Home Assistant of it. I then can trigger the lights based on the combined input of the log in/out and un-/docked state. This article will focus on a ThinkPad running Windows.

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Automated Monitor Light

Since my desk is sitting in a rather dark corner of the living room and since I often write posts like this in the evenings, I thought a bit of monitor backlight would reduce eye strain a little. However, turning it on manually seems just too much of a hassle. Also, I use an RGB-LED strip and might like a different color than my wife. So clearly, some automation is urgently needed.

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Doorbell & Home Assistant

I live in an almost 100 year old rental flat. I don’t have a smart doorbell and do not have the option to install one. Nevertheless, I would like to reap the benefits of a smart doorbell, especially being notified on multiple devices. This is e.g., useful when wearing headphones alone in home office and the post is outside, trying to deliver a parcel. I have missed that more than once.

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IKEA TRÅDFRI Motion Sensor & Home Assistant

I have recently been getting more and more into the topic of home automation. It find it to be a very family-suitable topic, since once setup, it is easy and fast to integrate another sensor or add a new automation. This allows to also maintain and enhance the system if one only has rather short amounts of time.

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