About

About Charles / aka Chaslinux

A photograph of me at work
Charles, aka Chaslinux

Packt Publishing author profile: https://www.packtpub.com/books/info/authors/charles-mccolm
LinkedIn profile: http://ca.linkedin.com/pub/charles-mccolm/3/607/9a3/
About.me profile: http://about.me/charlesmccolm

Work

Computer Recycling:

For the past 15 years I've been the project manager for the Computer Recycling Project at The Working Centre, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping low-income and new Canadians. Since COVID-19 the project has been shut down (due to a number of factors, but keeping the number of people allowed in our building is one of the factors) and I've been working on other IT-related work.

The good news is we're slowly starting to look at supporting people in the community again with a few laptops and desktops. We're still working on evolving how we distribute systems, and because we're currently not hosting many volunteers this process is a bit slow, and not the same as we were before.

Published work:

Instant XBMC

Outside of work I am the author of Instant XBMC, a short book published by Packt Publishing covering the installation of XBMCbuntu and setting up media libraries in XBMC. Instant XBMC was written for the 12.0 beta of XBMC, but almost all of the content is relevant today for Kodi 18.x. If you've bought my book and live in the Kitchener area feel free to contact me and I'd be happy to sign any copies (please note that the print version is only available through Amazon.com, not .ca or Chapters).

Full Circle Magazine

I used to be involved in the Ubuntu community outside of work writing articles for a great free online magazine called Full Circle Magazine. I've written the following articles for FCM:

  • Issue #56 - XBMC
  • Issue #57 - Setting up a Mana World (game) Server
  • Issue #57 - My story (how I embraced computers and learned about Linux)
  • Issue #58 - Useful investigative tools
  • Issue #59 - Foremost for data recovery
  • Issue #61 - DVD ripping and encoding
  • Issue #62 - Tweet Screen - part 1
  • Issue #64 - Tweet Screen - part 2
  • Issue #65 - Kwartzlab makerspace
  • Issue #66 - Pivos XIOS DS Media Play review
  • Issue #67 - Ubuntu 12.10 on an HP 6710b notebook
  • Issue #68 - Phoronix Test Suite basics
  • Issue #69 - Tomato router firmware
  • Issue #70 - DVD ripping (hardware oriented)
  • Issue #71 - Crunchbang 11
  • Issue #72 - Sony's Dash HID-C10/TX (Chumby)
  • Issue #73 - DVD slideshows using Imagination
  • Issue #74 - DVD menus using DVDStyler
  • Issue #75 - Netgear N300 wireless router review
  • Issue #76 - Simple webcam (motion) security
  • Issue #77 - Installing Haxima - installing difficult software (compiling)
  • Issue #78 - Acer Iconia B1 Review
  • Issue #79 - Free software in computer reuse
  • Issue #80 - RAID at home - part 1
  • Issue #81 - RAID at home - part 2
  • Issue #82 - SMART tools, preventing data failures
  • Issue #83 - Running a PC repair shop with PCRT
  • Issue #84 - PinguyOS review
  • Issue #85 - Kubuntu 14.04 review
  • Issue #87 - Ubuntu on old computers
  • Issue #88 - Ripping multi-part DVDs with Handbrake
  • Issue #89 - Kodi/XBMC - part 1 (hardware)
  • Issue #91 - Kodi/XBMC - part 2
  • Issue #92 - Graphically renaming files over SSH
  • Issue #93 - Trying FreeBSD
  • Issue #93 - The Official Ubuntu Book (review)
  • Issue #96 - Owncloud
  • Issue #98 - Midnight Commander (issue coming soon)
  • Issue #99 - Customizing GRUB (aka Issue 100-1)

Now this blog serves as part of my Linux-related writing efforts. I'm also developing documentation for the Computer Recycling Project as part of our Xubuntu Linux systems. Whenever someone gets a system from Computer Recycling, they now also get a small book to help them navigate Xubuntu Linux.

Software

I've programmed quite a few programs over the years, most of which I can barely remember. A friend reminded me a few years ago when he pulled out a 5 1/4" floppy with All Night Road Race, my answer to Pole Position on the Commodore 64. Sadly the disk was wiped. My fondest memory of coding on the Commodore 64 was putting a sprite on the screen and getting it to move, all in Assembly Language. It doesn't seem like much these days, but I was 13-15 and documentation was sparse and expensive back then (no unity or unreal engine).

Later I wrote a text adventure, the name of which I cannot remember, using AGT, Adventure Game Toolkit. That game too is lost to history.

BANG!

Around the same time I also ran a bulletin board system in Toronto, Canada. I developed a couple of door games for Synchronet BBS software. One of those door games is still floating around the Internet. BANG was a morbid, but simple door game. I released the game into the public domain where Robert Nykvist improved on it. Both version 1.00 and 21 are available from the BBS Archives at:

Iceutils

As I became interested in Linux I also wrote some command line tools, Iceutils, to help people who role play. The tools were designed around the early version of the Ironcrown Rolemaster (Wikipedia link since the Iron Crown link seems to be full of broken images/links) RPG system. Iceutils saw versions up to 0.9, a graphical set of tools. Unfortunately I deleted the last few versions, so only older versions still exist. The project was hosted on freshmeat.net, a now defunct site. Sourceforge has now taken over what was freshmeat/freecode, unfortunately most of the projects on freshmeat didn't make it to sourceforge, including iceutils.

Mapgen, a character-based map generation for Rolemaster
mapgen - a map generator, part of my iceutils Rolemaster utilities suite for Linux

I know I have an older version archived somewhere. I'll post that version here once I find it.

At that time I also developed an error-reporting program (in TCL/Tk) for WCLP, the Working Centre Linux Project, but I don't believe it ever made it into the final release.

Fasteroids

Most recently I released several versions of Fasteroids, my Asteroids-like shoot 'em up for Windows and Linux. You can download the most recent versions from itch.io at:

Other Interests

As a refurbisher I enjoy working on computers and my interests tend towards computer-related topics. At one time I was a hardware hoarder (pre-Working Centre days), owning 19 different types of computers including an SGI O2, Sun Enterprise 2 server, several HP pizza box style computers. These days it's 1 media centre in the living room, my desktop workstation, a laptop, and an Android box for the other TV.

While I'm interested in GameDev and really like GameMaker Studio I find I have no time, and tend to be conflicted about the whole thing since GameMaker runs on Windows and Mac OS X (but can produce Linux binaries through an SSH connection to a Linux box). I want to do more, but I never make the time these days.

Although I suck at writing, one of my main interests at the moment is developing documentation for Xubuntu to make it easier for people without a lot of experience to enjoy it a bit more. In the process of writing the documentation I'm learning a lot of cool things, and actually managing to help some people outside of work.

For 2 hours a week I also game with a group (though despite the name they might not know I'm using Linux) playing Torchlight II. There are several games that work on Linux I currently like, but rarely play anymore: Torchlight II, Fishing Planet, Victor Vran, Hero Siege, Dungeon Rushers, Dragon's Dungeon: Awakening, and most recently a few minutes on Metro 2033.

Outside of computing I enjoy spending time outdoors with my wife, Maria, taking photographs and soaking up nature. We've been married 11 years and have travelled to several countries (pre-COVID19) around the world. The world really is an amazing place. It's sometimes hard to see culture around us without travelling and seeing how life is elsewhere.

Maria is a retired Bacteriologist with more than 23 years Lab experience. She's the most amazing woman I know and I'm deeply grateful to be the person she loves.