Category Archives: Uncategorized

MailMerge using LibreOffice for Church Mailing in 2021

Export from the gsheet (prime up to date source) into an odt spreadsheet. Use the mailmerge template letters (in each church pastoral folder). Filter using the ‘mailing ok’ ticklist field, including unticking those from the same household, for which the ‘MailMerge-Sal’ field is inserted in between ‘Forename’ and ‘Surname’ to concatenate ‘him & her’ type naming. Use same on salutation line of letter. ‘Address2’ field line, often blank, can be suppressed with a ‘Hidden Paragraph’ formula field: Condition = ![Docname.Sheetname.Columnname]. Likewise a ‘Hidden text’ formula field can be used to suppress other blank entries, eg lack of ‘Prefix’, lack of ‘MailMerge-Sal’ field. Naming these conditions is simplified by not having ANY spaces in the name of either the doc, the sheet(tab) or the column! Use the ‘View–>’Field Names’ menu option to highlight the full field name when creating the suppressed field; this view also allows the hidden paragraph/text field to be seen. Fiddly, but it does work reliably (I think) and once set up in a doc shouldn’t need redoing.

For reasons I haven’t figured re-opening a document all setup with these mailmerge fields results in the mailmerge buttons greyed out? I’ve been working around this by using ‘Tools –> MailMerge Wizard’ and clicking defaults until ‘Finish’ shows, this makes the mailmerge toolbar buttons ungreyed (?). Click ‘Edit Individual Documents’ button to create a page-per-address single document.

To filter which addresses are approved for a mailing use the ‘OK (e)mail’ ticklist field. Using this to filter it’s possible to also exclude the duplicate address people, who’s names are inserted in both the address & greeting fields, with appropriate editing of the ‘MailMerge-Sal’ column. Note that when updating the data source .odt (eg after making amendments) turning on the ticklist filter does NOT stop unticked lines being exported into a new .odt. Because of this, simply copy/paste from the gsheet and overwrite the previous .odt data. Don’t amend or change the name of the .odt either, as otherwise all the mailmerge field names need dragging in again.

If you find crazy page numbers or loads of blanks in the merged output it’s because lower down rows in the sheet are not totally empty. Delete all rows below the last entry to resolve this (it’s taken me years to notice/figure this!).

Using a shared ‘Brand’ YouTube account belonging to a Google Workspace domain controlled google account

An existing user with access to the shared YouTube channel can allow others to work with the same ‘Brand’ channel, incl at different levels (neat!)

  • Got to your channel:
  • This is where all ‘Brand’ channel settings can be tweaked
  • Under ‘Channel managers’ choose ‘Add or remove manager(s)’; then ‘MANAGE PERMISSIONS’
  • Add new person:
  • Select ‘Owner’ (or as you wish); ‘invite’

Using rsync

backup to remote lan directory:

rsync -azp –info=progress2 /media/windows/drive/ user@x.x.x.x:/home/space/backup/dir

restore from a remote location:

12volt DC Connectors on Narrowboat Papillon

What’s the best and most convenient connector for 12v appliances onboard?

The boat has some of these:

12v ‘Clipsal’ socket

They’re often called ‘Clipsal 12v’ sockets, (Clipsal makes a wide range of electrical gear); sometimes called a ‘2 pin parallel’ connector. I suspect they originate from caravanning. Note the neutral blade is wider than the live, for a polarised connection. Not to be confused with what I think is an older caravan 12v connector often called a ‘W4’, where the blades are the same size and angled:

12v ‘W4’ socket

Both of the above can handle 10amps. Other common 12v connectors found are the ubiquitous cigar/cigarette connector:

12v ‘Cigarette’ socket

Many 12v appliances come with a plug to fit they above. They’re not great connectors because they are an adaptation of the cigar lighter, and were not designed to be a DC connector.

I’ve also used a 12v ‘Hella’ plug (a nickname after the German brand that makes them). I first encountered this on our 1975 John Deere 2120. Hardly any tractors at that point had any kind of 12v outlet; it was probably fitted because the tractors were German made (Mannheim), where this connector is popular. It’s quite a good connector, but only 8amp (at 12v; can also be used for 24v)

‘Hella’ – aka Bosch, ‘BMW Accessory’ ‘Powerlet’, but properly ISO 4165


bit outdated in that the gksu command in the shortcut needs amending, but a very simple tool for creating smb shares that other can see. don’t forget to create users as well as define the windows shares. You need to:

sudo touch /etc/libuser.conf

.The gui shortcut can be made to work if you fiddle around and sort out gksu, but hardly worth the bother. Simply:

sudo system-config-samba

LTSP Public Lab – 2019

LTSP has the ability to offer thin or fat clients which boot from a centrally controlled image from a server using tftp network boot.

The following guide uses Xubuntu 18.04 (LTS desktop 64bit version), using a ‘chrootless’ (aka PNP ltsp) setup, which unlike the more common chroot-ed ltsp setups, uses the configuration of the server’s desktop to create the image the clients will boot from. The reason for not doing this in the past was related to the DHCP setups for such networks, but dnsmasq used in conjunction with a separate dhcp server makes for a simpler setup, as long as using the server’s desktop to create the client desktop is not an issue. With a chroot setup (my first attempt) a server can have no gui and multiple desktop environments can be deployed, independently of how the server is setup, if required. I found it more complex to administer and the script for resetting the clients upon each boot I found never worked.

The following is based on this guide, which in my opinion breathes new life into ltsp after what looked to me like it not being developed much recently. For those wanting to create public lab/ICT suite setups on a budget there is still much to be gained from using this approach, especially when combined with the possibilities that Dashamir Hoxha suggests. LTSP can offer normal user accounts for many users, but in the public lab situation clients that auto login and then reset themselves clean upon logging out is a real administrative boon. All the clients have a single point of control: updating, maintaining and adding new software for the lab is done once on the server using a template ‘guest’ account. This creates the settings for the all the individual client accounts to clone when they boot.

Create a clean Xubuntu 18.04 server

apt install --yes synaptic

add-apt-repository --yes

apt update

Choose the ‘chrootless’ option

apt install --yes --install-recommends ltsp-server-standalone ltsp-client epoptes
gpasswd -a ${SUDO_USER:-$USER} epoptes
ltsp-update-image --cleanup /

Choose the single NIC option

ltsp-config dnsmasq

Create the lts.conf

ltsp-config lts.conf

Auto-create ‘guest’ accounts using Dashmar’s script:

Suggested location for the creation of this file: /usr/local/bin Then: chmod 0700 and execute the file (as root) from within that folder with: ./

This creates 254 users: ltsp1 – ltsp254. These user accounts will be allocated per client machine based on the IP address given to each client by (in my case) the pfSense DHCP server. ie will login with user ltsp100 . Nb. in pfSense DHCP server must be running for the ‘LTSP’ subnet, and the Ignore BOOTP queries option must be checked, becasue the LTSP server must respond to the bootp queries.

The script also does a number of other things: it creates a user called ‘guest’ which acts as a template master for all the client guest accounts. Any changes to the configuration of that account/desktop are replicated to all the ‘ltspxxx’ accounts. When those accounts logout they are reset to the guest account template each time (brill), means all the usual detritus of people logging in and using a pc is eliminated. Serious kudos to Dashamir Hoxha for this work. Strangely I had thought that this setup would be ltsp default, but it’s taken some time to find the solution and deploy it.


LDM_USERNAME = wesleyonline1

to the lts.conf file, (on the chrootless setup it’s at /var/lib/tftpboot/ltsp/amd64/lts.conf ) adds a ‘Login as Guest’ button to the LTSP client login screen. Ideal for very large deployments. In my smaller lab I’ve edited the lts.conf file adding:

LDM_USERNAME = ltsp100
LDM_PASSWORD = ltsp100

… for each pc. This is allows clients, per mac address, to be automatically logged in with a particular account number. In our context we are often dealing with people who have never used a PC before, so not requiring them to use a username and password as the first thing they have to do is advantageous.

Issue re: “Configured directory for incoming files does not exist Please make sure that directory “/home/guest/Downloads” exists or configure it with blueman-services”

remove the applications related with bluetooth because the ltsp123 client accounts cannot access the absolute path from the template ‘guest’ account. On the xfce desktop the ‘Application Autostart’ list is found in the ‘Session and Startup’ section of Settings Manager. Remove the ‘Blueman Applet (Blueman Bluetooth manager)’ on your guest template account from this list.

Ubuntu and the XFCE desktop which Xubuntu uses is usually not greeted with the excitement I get when logging into it. ‘Oh it’s not windows’ is often the fearful or dissapointed reaction. Users have soon realised that navigating a slightly different desktop isn’t as hard as they might have thought – not as hard as adapting to Windows 10 in my experience, however, to make things less fearful I have ‘made it look like windows’ (a bit!)

There are several places to get themes and icon sets to make the xfce desktop environment look a bit like windoze. I have used boomerang (google for it). To make them available (for all users) on a pc add the theme folder to: /usr/share/themes . Add the icons to /usr/share/icons . Add the win10 wall paper to /usr/share/xfce/backdrops/ ensure the file has permission set: 0644

You might need to create the icon cache: sudo gtk-update-icon-cache /usr/share/icons/Windows-10-Icons/


To get the Xerox printer working with the LTSP clients use CUPS. This connects using ipps. On the guest login (template master) browse to: localhost:631 and the CUPS admin page appears. Although the Xerox C405 might be listed, I’ve had better success with adding the printer as a new one (couldn’t share the automatically detected ones); no need to install drivers for an ipp printer (which prints using http). Within the control webpage go to: Administration and choose: ‘Share printers connected to this system’ this allows the client PCs to see the printer. Only a sudo account can authorise these changes, not the guest account itself.

WordPress WYSIWYG Notes

Just a reminder about the wysywyg page builder in WordPress, when using the ‘X’ theme from

When this was first installed (2015) X included a copy of the ‘Visual Composer’ (VC) page building tool. This paid for plugin was included in the price of ‘X the theme’. Alongside this was an additional plugin called ‘X-Shortcodes’, which allowed insertion of many pre made X themed page components by simply pasting the shortcode text (this is a common way of adding content to any WordPress page).

After a while (2016?) decided they could do better than VC (there were frequent compatibility issues when either the (3rd party) VC plugin or the X theme was updated) and they launched their own pagebuilder tool ‘Cornerstone’. This tool essentially inserts the X-Shortcodes easily into pages (I think?). This tool was one of the main attractions, along with the 4 theme ‘stacks’ complete with their demo-content, which allows the setting up of several dozen different looking themes.

It is interesting to note that now WordPress has created its own free tool (with the introduction of WordPress 5.0), which (perhaps), aims to offer the wysywyg approach to all for free with the introduction of the Gutenberg