Josh Matthews

Hacker and Student at Rutgers University


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A long time ago, I ran across Solarized, a very popular colorscheme for the terminal and most text editors. While my first reaction was something along the lines of “Eww, blue background?”, I eventually gave it a try because of how highly recommend it was. In less than a week it became my favorite color scheme because of how easy on the eyes it is and how well the syntax highlighting fits together (both results of the scheme’s careful design). After using the theme for some time though, I ran into a couple problems with it. One was actually a well known bug that made some text unreadable, and the other was just something I thought could be made easier. I’m writing about my fixes for both problems here so that others who have the same problems can solve them faster in the future.

Managing Vim Python Plugins

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Conditionally installing the coolest new Vim plugins.

Anyone who uses Vim regularly is probably familiar with its ever growing list of useful plugins. Most of these have been traditionally written in Vim’s native scripting language Vimscript. However, it seems there is a growing trend of developers moving away from this in favor of writing their new plugins in languages like Python and Ruby, which newer versions of Vim can be compiled with support for. Unfortunately, this can create a problem for users who what to use these new plugins, but work on several machines which may or may not meet the requirements of these plugins. In this post, I’ll show how to get around this problem with Vundle and a little bit of vimrc scripting

Raspberry Pi in the Dorm

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Using a Raspberry Pi single board computer as a dorm room command center.

Some time ago I bought a Raspberry Pi, and once the initial excitement of setting up the new system wore off, I realized that I had absolutely no plans thought out on what to use it for. Well rather than let such an interesting new device go to waste, I set about thinking of things I might want to implement on my dorm network, and eventually digging through my spare parts bin to see what unused electronics I might be able to use in the projects. Listed in this post are my three favorite uses that I came up with for the Pi on my dorm network, and instructions on how to implement them yourself.

Managing Dotfiles With Git

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All the cool kids are doing it.

As a Linux user, one of the great things is how much everything on the system can be customized exactly to your liking, and how easy it is to do so through (usually) simple plain-text config files. One not-so-great thing is having to copy those files around whenever you get access to a new machine and want all your nice customizations on there too, or even worse, loosing all those careful tweaks in a system reinstall.

Fortunately there is a better way. By using git to manage all your configuration files (“dotfiles”, since they are usually prefixed with a .), you can store all your settings remotely and easily sync them across any number of computers. Even if you’re fairly new to Linux and don’t have much in the way of dotfiles, keeping whatever you do have in git is still a good idea because 1) Even if you don’t have a lot now, you will eventually so might as well start early, and 2) No matter how little configuration you might have, having to retype it after a system reinstall is never fun, so keeping it in a safe place just makes sense. So with that in mind, lets get started.