Mike's Blog

A collection of projects, thoughts, and ideas about computers.

See all my blog posts, sorted by year, in my blog archive.

Subscribe
How I Modified a Thule Bike Trailer Hitch for an E-Bike with a 12mm Axle

How I Modified a Thule Bike Trailer Hitch for an E-Bike with a 12mm Axle

Thule makes several popular bike trailers, including the Cadence and Chariot. The trailers come with the Thule ezHitch to attach easily to most quick-release or solid axle wheels, and Thule also sells an adapter to make the ezHitch fit on thru-axle wheels. This covers most common bicycle setups, but it leaves out many e-bikes, which often use 12mm solid rear axles. And that’s really unfortunate because towing a trailer is a great way to use an e-bike! I figured out how to modify a Thule ezHitch to fit on my e-bike with a 12mm solid axle, and I’ll show you how I did it below.

Continue reading…
Dell Latitudes are Great Laptops (and they run Ubuntu well)

Dell Latitudes are Great Laptops (and they run Ubuntu well)

I’ve written before about my own search for The Ultimate Developer Laptop back in 2019. I chose to buy a Dell Precision 5510, but I also mentioned a few other laptop models that work really well with Ubuntu. Laptop series like Dell XPS, Dell Latitude, and Lenovo ThinkPad. Well, I actually own a Dell Latitude E7450, and I’ve recently started using it a lot more often. It’s a small, lightweight laptop made with high-quality parts, and it runs Ubuntu flawlessly. Mine doesn’t have a discrete graphics card either, so I don’t have to bother with graphics drivers in Ubuntu. The overall experience is super-smooth, and it puts a smile on my face to use this computer!

Continue reading…
Docks and Ubuntu

Docks and Ubuntu

Laptop docks are great! As I wrote about in The Ultimate Developer Laptop and My Home Office Setup, I’ve been using a Dell TB16 thunderbolt dock for about two years now, and I really love it. The dock makes it so much quicker and easier to connect my laptop to all the peripherals on my desk. And that’s important to me because it makes it feel easy to take my work to another part of the house or go work on the deck – I don’t feel tied down to my desk.

Continue reading…
DisplayLink Docks and Ubuntu

DisplayLink Docks and Ubuntu

Can you use a DisplayLink dock with Ubuntu? And, more importantly, should you? I recently researched this for a dock I wanted to buy for myself, and here’s what I found.

Continue reading…
My New Bash Prompt (PS1)

My New Bash Prompt (PS1)

I recently spent some time improving my bash prompt. I already had a lightly customized prompt, but wanted to see if I could find something I liked that provided even more information.

Continue reading…
My Dotfiles Story: A Journey to Chezmoi

My Dotfiles Story: A Journey to Chezmoi

When you’re a developer (or perhaps even a normal power-user), you seem to acquire a bunch of custom config, scripts, and tools over time. Often, these are little snippets. A one-liner command alias that you paste into ~/.bashrc. A custom format for your PS1 prompt. A default setting for Vim.

Continue reading…
How to Install Pi-hole on the Orange Pi Zero

How to Install Pi-hole on the Orange Pi Zero

I’ve already written a review of the Orange Pi Zero. As it turns out, this little board is perfect for running your own Pi-hole! It’s probably even better than a Raspberry Pi! The cheapest Raspberry Pi you can get with a wired ethernet connection is the Raspberry Pi 1 Model B+, which is listed for $28.95 at PiShop.us (as of May 2021). In contrast, you can get an Orange Pi Zero 512MB for $16.99 + ~$4.00 shipping from AliExpress, or a couple dollars more with a case. (You can also find these items on Amazon, but shipping is more expensive there.) In total, you can save about 30% compared to the Raspberry Pi! Of course, the Raspberry Pi Zero W is probably cheaper, but the Pi-hole really is a lot more stable and fast when it has a wired connection, so the Raspberry Pi Zero W isn’t a good choice for the Pi-hole. But the Orange Pi Zero has a wired connection and performs great!

Continue reading…
Learning to Program by Making a Game

Learning to Program by Making a Game

This year, Computer Science Education Week will be December 7-13, 2020. In honor of CS Education Week, I wanted to write this blog post about the first computer game I wrote, and what I learned along the way. I was about thirteen, and this story picks up near where I left off in my previous blog post about my first computer program. When I wrote that blog post in 2017, I was working mostly from memory. Since then, I actually found an old floppy disk with my game on it. And finding that old floppy disk got me thinking about about how much I learned from writing computer games in my childhood, and how much others might be able to learn from writing their own first computer games today.

Continue reading…
Unsubscribe Me: How to Disconnect from Internet Chaos

Unsubscribe Me: How to Disconnect from Internet Chaos

The Social Dilemma came out about a month ago and got a lot of people thinking about the influence the internet and social media have on their daily lives. I’m a programmer, and I’ve worked for an internet advertising company, so none of this was new information to me. But for a lot of the American public, watching The Social Dilemma was an eye-opening experience into the ways that internet companies try to track and manipulate people. Many of my friends used words like “unsettling” and “eerie” to describe how they felt after seeing the film, but most of them also weren’t really sure what to do about it. They weren’t sure how to make positive changes in their own lives.

Continue reading…
How To Set Up a Ruby Dev Environment on Ubuntu Linux

How To Set Up a Ruby Dev Environment on Ubuntu Linux

Setting up a development environment correctly might not seem like a big deal at first, but an incorrectly set-up environment can cause a lot of problems down the road if you’re not careful. In my experience, the internet’s full of solutions – both good and bad – for environment problems, but often does a poor job of explaining why a solution’s good or bad. And installing Ruby can be tricky if you’ve never done it before. So here’s my advice.

Continue reading…