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This was the first entry for my new blog of 2016, which after being written (roughly),
on December 31/January 1st, gathered dust on my hard drive- until today. So here it is,
and with this week being the start of the new financial/tax year in the UK, and the start
of the growing season/spring (this really is the New Year, why we celebrate on Jan 1st in
the middle of the winter is beyond me??), at the end i have some new thoughts  i have added.
So here it is, <drumroll> post one on week one:

The first day of the New Year, and after coming home from the nearby shop that 
morning- i am now breakfasted and at my desktop. I need to quickly add some figures,
and having been used to my usual Linux distro having a GUI desktop calculator, go
I could have added up in my head, or on paper, what i needed in no time. But! This
is the 21st Century and there is an app to do my thinking. A quick look and, with
disgust, i find there is no desktop caculator included by default.
After searching my package manager for a desktop calculator, and coming up with at
least two that would have installed in under a minute, (i still find Linux package
management, a magical thing - miraculous!) i suddenly remember there are many
command-line programs that will do the job. So off i go, to look up various programs,
from the UNIX "bc", obviously the insanely feature rich GNU version to, "qalc" the
command-line interface to the "qalculate" GUI calculation program i spotted in my
package manager's listing. Then i come across the handy tip that Google has a
"calculator" program acessable from the search bar window - nice-- i like this-but
the "qalc" program has won the day. I notice that Google has a currency converter
program to compliment "calculator", also available direct from the search window -
they both work a treat. But yet again, i remember there are command-line alternatives,
"faster" i imagine, "save me time" :/ i think... So it is another GNU program,
"units" which can convert anything to anything including currency, but it seems
this - as it is a fluctuating unit, uses 3rd party services to look up the current
exchange rates. This service has either changed URL or something, and no longer works
(?) - but now, qalc to the rescue again. The qalc program supports currency exchange
as well as converting units - and after a quick test i am satisfied i have found the
very best tool for the job: now my sum:-- 1-2-3=bingo!
After at least half an hour getting my axe sharp, i wish i had a few more trees to
I press a key and the terminal window that had dropped down to fill a third of my
screen with a black canvas and a flashing green prompt, after my user-name, rolls up
instantly and is gone. Just like the last half to three-quarters of an hour.
My shiny new spanner sits waiting on me for next time, unless my phone is handy,
i have a pencil and paper in-front of me, or i might actually attempt to add more than
two numbers in my head for a change.

And three months after i wrote the above, it is spring, and it is the start of the tax year.
Week one on my payslip, and true to form i have just dug out a program i have been meaning
to test, and compiled it - just to add up my wages :) . Actually it was worth the small effort.
The program is: tapecalc aka "add" and is perfect for this sort of thing, giving an editable
running total - a simple curses program for the terminal, to compliment qalc and bc and sc.

My wages were correct, and my calculator (a real one with a small solar panel backup power),
just saved some battery life this week. And now i need to get some fresh air and cook something
healthy for my dinner. 

Happy New(Financial/Tax)Year!

Posted by mo on Fri Apr 08 2016 14:00:31 EDT
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