Color on B&W


Road Trip! Oak Creek – Downtown Sedona Arizona

Just a few hundred yards off the busy highway through downtown Sedona runs Oak Creek. Access is limited, but we were fortunate enough to be staying at the Amara Resort. It has a fine pool overlooking the creek. I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the story.

Ok, I have to throw a few shameless yet deserving plugs out there for Josh and all the staff at the Amara Kimpton Resort. You made the trip more personable (Josh, take care of Catty the cat!). Also to the Pump House Station Eatery for their great brunch, reasonable prices and very cozy atmosphere. Last and not least is THAT Brewery & Pub in Pine, Arizona. Nothing beats a small local brewery, my compliments on the Road Rash IPA.


  • Kenn Ranous


PS: Status report on Fivemile Lake – Dry weather has taken it’s toll, and as of September 2018 it’s two small shallow ponds. Still a nice place for a roadside stop.

Tseyi – Canyon De Chelly South Rim – Navajo Nation


An experiment in Open Source media production. Created in Ubuntu Studio using darktable, gimp, hydrogen and kdenlive.


– Kenn Ranous


Praying Mantis

Flowers in Zee Garden – 2018


  • Kenn Ranous


Linux for Kids – Create a lo-buck open source PC for children

Recently I was asked to configure a Linux Distribution suitable for a 4 year old already comfortable with an iPad. We needed a current distro with a clean desktop that would run on modest hardware. And of course there needs to be an assortment of cool activities that are fun and educational.

The distros I’ve seen didn’t quite fill the bill, so I decided to roll my own. I’m starting with a clean install of Linux Mint 18.3 with the Mate desktop on a modest dual-core PC. I applied all system updates, set a good admin password and enabled the firewall. In Firefox I added the uBlock Origin, https everywhere and privacy badger plugins.

Fortunately, there’s a variety of good games & activities available via the Synaptic Package Manager or Software Manager. Both are safe sources. Here’s a few I think are pretty cool, focusing on the under 10 group.

  • Extreme Tux Racer – Belly slide your penguin down a ski run while eating the fish. Cuz that’s what penguins do.
  • Frozen Bubbles – Pop the bubbles to groovy music, just lots of fun!
  • Gcompris – A suite of activities for pre-grade schoolers.
  • Kanagram – Word puzzle spelling game.
  • Pingus – Like Lemmings but with … you guessed it! Penguins!
  • TuxMath – a really fun math game with levels to cover a range of ages.
  • Tux Paint – A simple drawing program with sound FX.
  • Tux Typing – A typing game, great for building keyboard skills.
  • Super Tux – A bit like mario brothers but with a penguin of course.
  • Super Tux Kart – A fun driving game. (I got a message about open-gl being out of date, but appears to play OK)

Once installed, it’s just a matter of arranging the desktop as desired. I bumped up the font size a bit as well. If desired, you could create a user account with limited privileges although keeping the admin password should keep the lil ones out of trouble. If you’re interested in controlling what sort of Internet resources children can access, take a look at Cisco’s OpenDNS project. For the younger children, you could remove the short-cuts for web applications altogether and still access them via the command prompt later if desired.


DIY Linux Desktop for Kids


* Caution! Frozen Bubbles game is addictive even for big kids!

– Kenn Ranous

Microscope, Open Source Style!

Just a quick experiment with a Celestron USB Microscope in Linux Mint 18.3. Images were taken using the Cheese webcam application. As with any scene, lighting makes a big difference. Having the ‘scope near a window provides natural light at a low angle to show texture.



– Ken Ranous