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Latest articles & site news

Windows 10 user management - Account Savant

updated June 24, 2016, category: Software & security

Windows 10 user management
A bunch of weeks ago, someone emailed me, informing of a potentially big problem with user management on Windows 10. Namely, after upgrading from Windows 8.1, the person had trouble creating additional users. Apparently, there is an issue with the user profile format and whatnot. That definitely sounds tricky.

I decided I had to test for myself, to see whether there are real problems in the process. Also, this gives us a nice opportunity to check how Microsoft handles user management in their latest operating system. So let's see what gives.

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Mp3tag - Can it redeem my songs?

updated June 23, 2016, category: Software & security

Mp3tag
Several months ago, I embarked on my music tagging quest, trying to find the one software that will auto-magically sort out some twenty years of metadata neglect in my musical collection, spanning from early CD prints all the way to the latest digital cloud stores.

Modern music is easy, but olden stuff is not. And it's not like my requirements are outrageous. Title, artist, it's all there. I just want some extras, some cover art, and all that to happen without me going through each and every file like a 15th Century laborer. My first attempt doing this in Linux wasn't too successful. I'm calling on the power of mp3tag, in Windows, to try to figure it out now.

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Rejection report 2: Korora KDE and GeckoLinux

updated June 20, 2016, category: Software & security

Rejection report 2
Picture a list if you will. It's a hate list. On it, you have driving on the left side of the road, Crocs, reality TV, and yes, you guessed it right, distros that fail to boot on my hardware and give me the pleasure of reviewing them. My timetable is planned with precision. And when I set a morning or three up for some rigorous distro testing, there's a load of energy packed in the effort. When a distro fails to boot, it takes a proverbial crap on my emotions.

I wanted to tell you a couple of nice stories, share my experience, help you decide what you ought to run or not. Not meant to be. We have two more failures freshly added to the long and growing list of malfunctioning software products. To wit, rejection report 2.

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ReactOS 0.4.1 review - Cold fusion

updated June 18, 2016, category: Software & security

ReactOS 0.4.1
Duke Nukem, Half-Life 3, ReactOS. What do they all have in common? An extremely long development time. In this article, we will focus on the last, a project that started in 1996 as an attempt to provide a free, Windows-compatible operating system to the masses.

Fast forward 20 years, ReactOS is a living, breathing entity, having recently reached a semi-mature 0.4.1 release. Lots of stuff has been happening under the hood, enough to warrant some real-life testing. Anyhow, here be Dedoimedo's first stab at this interesting little system.

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Opera Developer power saving - Magic or science?

updated June 17, 2016, category: Software & security

Opera Developer & power savings
I am not a great fan of Opera. I'm more of a ventilator. Oh, well. Anyhow, recently, this browser has come into my radar twice, first when I tested an olden version and then a more recent release. Me no impressum enough to really care or make any big changes in my production setup.

But then, I read about Opera Developer adding a new power saving mode, which promises huge improvements in battery life on laptops. As much as heady 50% compared to Google Chrome. That's a bold claim, especially for two browsers that share the same engine. Which made me power on my Lenovo G50 machine, boot into a Fedora instance with the Gnome desktop, and commence to start the experiment.

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Windows IFEO, GWX, Nirvana, and more

updated June 16, 2016, category: Software & security

Windows IFEO & Debugger
This article has a rather convoluted storyline, so bear with me. An anonymous source closely intimate with Microsoft products emailed me with a very interesting piece of information, tapping into the special ninja powers of Image File Execution Options (IFEO) and Windows debugger. To what end, you may ask? The GWX nonsense.

So, in a manner very similar to my article on WMIC, yet another highly overlooked and ultra-powered capability present in Windows since the olden days, let me show you how you can use IFEO to kick ass while using your operating system, even if programs are trying to misbehave.

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You don't need a Linkedin account

updated June 13, 2016, category: Life topics

Linkedin, no need
In recent years, Linkedin has perceivably become a rather important part of the modern business world. People use this social network to search for jobs, advertise jobs, and get their own work-related resume out there into the spotlight. Which is why I always get a funny look when people ask me to add them on Linkedin, and I tell them, I don't have one.

The same why I told you why you should not be using Facebook back in 2010, and the arguments still hold valid, I would like to tell you why you might want to entertain the idea of not having a business profile on a social media site, and why this could actually be good for your career. To wit, let us philosophize.

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Dedoimedo 2016 contest - Win an Ubuntu tablet

updated June 11, 2016, category: Software & security

Dedoimedo 2016 contest
Dear readers, we have a new contest ahead of us. The format is very similar to the two previous contests that we had, the one in 2013, which resulted in a lucky winner getting a Nexus phone, as the Ubuntu Phone was not ready yet then, and the one in 2014-2015, where I finally handed out an Ubuntu Phone to an entrepreneuring contestant. This year? The Ubuntu M10 tablet.

First, this little contest has nothing to do with Canonical. This is my personal endeavor, and it's all about you and me having a good time. You read my books, that's right, you write honest reviews, even if they be had, and by that you enter the competition. At the end of it, there will be a random draw, and someone will win a BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition tablet, which I have tested recently, and it seems to be an okay nerdy gadget. Ready for details?

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Ubuntu M10 tablet & Convergence - Getting groovy

updated June 11, 2016, category: Software & security

Aquaris M10 & Convergence
Some relationships kick off with sparks and fireworks and ambulances and whatnot. Others have a humbler, slower, more restrained start, filled with dread and hope and anxiety. The latter scenario applies for my early hands-on experience with the BQ Aquaris M10 tablet, loaded with Ubuntu.

The initial test shows and proves the expected - this tablet is still a toy for nerds and geeks and fans, for people who want to dabble in the bold and the beautiful, but not the mainstream consumer. Then, I tried hooking it up to my LG Smart TV, to see what this Convergence mode is all about. Not bad, but then I didn't have a USB-to-micro-USB dongle to fully test my external keyboard. Now that I do, it is time for a proper rite of passage.

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How to block Windows 10 upgrades - Many solutions!

updated June 10, 2016, category: Software & security

Block Windows 10 upgrades
This tutorial is a compilation of several guides and articles I have written in the last year, all designed to help you stop and prevent Windows 10 upgrades on your systems. I want to clearly emphasize and highlight the tools, the tips and the tricks you can use to block, deny, deflect, defer, and outright reject any offer to upgrade to Windows 10.

As it turns out, Microsoft began offering their latest operating system to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 for free under the GWX campaign. But this seemingly benign proposal soon became an obnoxious, aggressive push, forcing users into a corner, and giving them little to no choice to reject these offers. It all started with the deceptively labeled recommended update KB3035583, and the ways and methods are changing all the time, every one created to make users upgrade, whether they want it or not. Let's not.

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Ubuntu Phone used by 60+ year olds

updated June 4, 2016, category: Software & security

Ubuntu Phone & elderly
I thought of using a clickbait article title, something like, Ubuntu used by a 130-year-old, which would then become two 65-year-olds, but then I thought of the many stupid articles I've seen in the past few years doing this kind of trick, and I decided, I'm better than that. Honestly, this is a true story of how two people in their seventh decade of life managed to cope with the BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Phone for about a week, in strange and foreign lands.

The demographics? Well, the lady has used Ubuntu before, without too many problems, and her phone of choice is iPhone. The gentleman is known to shoot people online in various FPS, uses a Nexus device and is fond of the 'OK, Google' phrase, and also fiddles with assorted Apple gadgetry and such. Not exactly a typical pair of people dumbstruck by technology, but neither your nerdy youngster speeding through life drinking mocha and tweeting about kernel patches.

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Korora 23 Gnome - Fedora on steroids

updated June 3, 2016, category: Software & security

Korora 23 Coral
One of my dreams is to have a Fedora-like operating system with three to five years of support, plus all the goodies out of the box. Yes, CentOS comes close, but then there is a tiny penalty when it comes to running all the latest and greatest software on an enterprise distro. Most of the stuff will work just fine, but then, some won't.

Fedora, on the other hand, is all about bleeding and modern, but its life is so short, so fleeting, you hardly get to pimp the distro version before a new one is out. And that is something that bugs me. What if you could skip all the pimping and enjoy yourself right away? Once upon a time in the west, Fuduntu almost did it. Now, let's see if Korora can deliver the promise. In other words, here's a distro that could potentially wean you away from the likes of Ubuntu and Mint. Maybe. Steroids, that's what plants crave. But are they good for you? Let's test.

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Meet Franz - Alles Klar Herr Kommissar?

updated May 25, 2016, category: Software & security

Meet Franz
One of the great advantages of not having friends is not having multiple means of communication for keeping in infrequent contact with them. To wit, the lack of a need to maintain multiple IM and VoIP tools and social networks. However, if you do fail at being a total misanthrope, you will possibly discover that you require half a dozen programs to keep up with your global dispersion of friends, family and colleagues.

Not too bad, but there's a bit of administrative hassle in having all these software to chat and message and exchange photos and whatnot. So why not bundle them all under a single umbrella? Pidgin tried that back in its day, but now there's a new player in the town. It's called Franz, it's named after an Austrian emperor, it's cross-platform, and it's supposed to fix all our problems. Like in The Big Lebowski, Karl the repairman will fix deine cable. So we shall do it. Mit Franz. Get it? Mit Franz!

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Kubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus - Not meant to be

updated May 23, 2016, category: Software & security

Kubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus
It is time to give Kubuntu its due attention. LTS, ah, the magic word. Or at least you would think so. Five years of stability and support, not. I innocently hoped and thought this latest gen of Ubuntu would be the bee's knees, and that Xerus would surpass Trusty in terms of quality and hardware compatibility. Oh how naive I was.

Regressions, regressions everywhere. Neither Ubuntu nor Xubuntu delivered as they should, giving me a more than mediocre experience. Very troubling, and with far reaching consequences. This means I'm not really expecting much from Kubuntu today. But test I must. So let's.

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It's alive, it's alive!

updated May 21, 2016, category: Books

Prince Dietrich
The Amazing Adventures of Dashing Prince Dietrich has been published! The silliest book of the year is here, and you are more than welcome to grab yourself a copy. Paperback for now, with Kindle coming in a week or two. The name of the series? Woes & Hose. How about that.

And so here be the latest novel in my colorful stash of fantasy and science fiction. This hilarious, fast-paced, gunpowder-rich grim yet fun novel takes you into a crazy world of disappointed sons of royalty, romance, sharp humor, and even sharper swords. Guns, too. Stop hatin', start participatin'. And grab yourself a copy, will ya. Contests and prizes to follow.

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Icecream PDF Converter review

updated May 21, 2016, category: Software & security

Icecream PDF Converter
The answer is no. There is no software that actually converts icecream to PDF and vice versa. Does not work like that. Don't be daft. But there is a company called Icecream Apps, and they sell all manner of software, including a PDF Converter tool, which I was asked to review.

I wasn't given a pro key, so I'm winging it with a freeware edition, for better or worse. Either way, this could be an interesting exercise, as we've seen several programs of this kind in action before, and nailing it down perfectly is somewhat of a black magic skill. But maybe the pistacchio-flavored PDF Converter ought to do it. After me.

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How to be a professional - Ultimate guide

updated May 20, 2016, category: Life topics

How to be a pro
No matter what you do, you want to be the best, right? From shoe sales to cyber security to running a swingers club, your business reputation depends on so many factors, and being actually skilled to do what you're supposed to be doing is only a small part of the plethora.

In this most awesome, and if you haven't guessed yet, humoristic guide, I shall endeavor to give you the ultimate tips you need to be the total champ of your domain, and make sure that you are treated as an ultra-pro, even if you can barely spell the word. Let us, let us indeed. Then, to top it all off, for dessert, you may want to sample from my social media article for enhanced spiritual enlightenment. Commence.

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BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu tablet - Convergence in action

updated May 19, 2016, category: Software & security

Aquaris M10 & Convergence
Being able to use your smartphone as a desktop has a lot of allure to lots of people. Phones and tablets are all nice and dandy, but due to evolutionary factors explained in a related article, they are not really useful for anything but passive enjoyment of content. You simply cannot get the same type and/or amount of speed, efficiency, productivity, and multi-tasking like you can on a keyboard-and-mouse device. Plus money.

But what if you could transform your touch device into a would-be desktop? Sounds good, and this is what Convergence is. Dubbed various names and titles, this element of the M10 Ubuntu tablet sounds like an excellent selling point. I've already given you a review of what the hardware and the operating system can do, but we did not dwell on the desktop-like usage. We will do that now.

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Xubuntu Xenial Xerus - Triple X - The spy who failed me

updated May 16, 2016, category: Software & security

Xubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus
Remember Agent Triple X from wossname James Bond movie with Roger Moore? Well, this is exactly like that, except nothing in common. James Bond, pronounced Hames in Spanish, brings glamor, and Ubuntu brings woe, at least based on what I was able to discern in my less than successful Xenial review a few days ago.

Oh, I love regressions. Love them. It's so yummy i'm lovin' it, lowercase style. But then, there's no really knowing how good any one particular flavor will be. Xubuntu did a spectacular job last year, so it might do that again. Let's check.

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Snap - I've got the package!

updated May 14, 2016, category: Software & security

Ubuntu 16.04 & Snap
Ba-ba-bam. Now, the number of puns and historic and cultural references that can be applied here is way, way too high. We have the mandatory Eurodance homage, but also the Google Chrome throw-a-hissy page and the Lonely Island Mother Lover song words. All good and well. But have you thought about Ubuntu, at all?

Snap is the name of the new application packaging format for the Ubuntu core system. It differs from the standard RPM and DEB and whatnot in that it contains all the dependencies required to run the program, so you do not really rely on the underlying system capabilities. In other words, this is the first attempt by Canonical to create portable Ubuntu applications. Welcome.

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Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus & Realtek - Various fixes

updated May 13, 2016, category: Software & security

Ubuntu 16.04 & Realtek bugs
If you're as unlucky as I am - although in my case it is purely by choice - then your laptop may have a Realtek Wireless card, in which case you're probably experiencing a load of problems. This is exactly what afflicts my Lenovo G50 machine: intermittent network freezes and other random problems. True for almost EVERY single distro out there.

I already showed you how to work around the network freeze issue in my article written for Trusty. Now that Ubuntu 16.04 is here, and the problem still persists, it is time to revisit the tutorial. Then, we will handle yet another manifestation of this issue, and that is the total loss of Wireless networking after waking from suspend. I mentioned this in the Xerus distro review, and now we elaborate.

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Windows XP - April 2016 report; sign of life?

updated May 11, 2016, category: Software & security

Windows XP, April report
This is Planet Nerd, you're looking at Planet Nerd, o-oh-o. If you don't get this reference, you need to pimp up on your Duran squared skills. But seriously, here we are, two years after Microsoft finally gracefully ended the support for Windows XP, and about an equal amount of time since I wrote my long live XP article.

In that piece, I highlighted all the pros and cons of staying with an old, outdated operating system. And to be clear, yes, you SHOULD move on to newer versions, if you can, provided you have the hardware and finance and business means to do so. But if you have to still keep on using XP, or you refuse to budge, or whatever, then the risks and pros and cons of your choice still remain. Outlined in April 2014, retested in April 2016. What could a brave and bored XP user expect two years after the death mark? Let us elaborate.

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I went to Goodwood ... Festival of Speed!

updated May 9, 2016, category: Car reviews

Goodwood Festival of Speed
Pray, answer me this: What is the mathematical definition of an idiot? Well, my own reply to that is as follows: It is a person who goes to the famous Goodwood Festival of Speed with a friend, right. And then, both he and his friend get to execute the legendary hill climb in two different cars, right. And this person also happens to own a GoPro camera, which he installs in both vehicles, for the sacred purpose of recording the hill climb, right. And then, he forgets to activate the camera. Twice. That's the definition, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Dedoimedo's report on his non-videoed visit to Goodwood!

Short story long, I was lucky enough to get an invite to the Festival. My friend was on Toyota's VIP list, and he was offered a chance to race uphill in a GT86, which he wholeheartedly accepted. As his chaperon, my duty was to snap stills and videos with a variety of apparati. Failing the later task, it was taking photos, and then doing a climb of my own in a Renault Clio.

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Microsoft EMET 5.5 review - The goodness abides

updated May 7, 2016, category: Software & security

EMET 5.5
Microsoft makes a bunch of products. Some I hate. Some I love. EMET is one of the latter, probably the best thing to hit the digital world since T-rex dinosaurs with laser beams strapped to their forehead. Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit is the dog's bollocks approach to security, providing a framework that lets you wrap your application with strict execution policies. If it misbehaves, it dies. There's no good or bad.

This makes EMET superior to all other security tools, and we've seen it in action a myriad times, including a highly detailed tutorial on version 4, as well as a follow up review on the more recent version 5. Now, with half an integer increment in the version release cycle, it's time for another article. Let's see what this new edition brings to the table.

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Cities: Skylines - After Dark and Snowfall are awesome!

updated May 6, 2016, category: Computer games

Cities: Skylines - After Dark & Snowfall
Normally, I am against DLC stuff, unless things come packaged as complete expansions, in which case, the extra quiche can be justified. But when developers decide to release roughly 80-90% of new features available in DLC as free upgrades to the existing game, you feel like buying and contributing to help their nice, non-greedy ways. This is the case with Cities: Skylines, a supreme urban simulator that is just getting better and better by the hour.

So we have two new expansion packs, or DLC, if you will. One is After Dark, which introduces a greatly requested daylight cycle into the game, as well as all the pros and cons on having night time descend on your fine city. The second one is Snowfall, and this one brings rain, sleet, blizzard, cold temperatures, ice on the roads, and snowed maps. Sounds like a blast. Let's have a go.

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Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus - Oh Shucks ... it's Schuster!

updated May 4, 2016, category: Software & security

Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus
April 2021. This is when we'll see the very final end of support for the most weirdly named Ubuntu release yet, provided you stick with it that long. Will you, though? This is the cardinal question we will try to answer today.

Ubuntu is no stranger to Dedoimedo, with big ups and downs, fickle consistency, and overall, pretty good hardware support. The previous LTS, Trusty, behaved - and still does - really nicely, and has its beloved spot on my production systems. Can this new kid on the block usurp the throne from its papa? We shall see. The official list of surprises is long, but theory and practice don't always co-align. Let us rock.

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BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition tablet - The heat is on

updated April 29, 2016, category: Software & security

Aquaris M10 Ubuntu tablet
Some investments are financial. Some are emotional. When it comes to Linux on tablets, my motives are mostly of the latter kind. I was super-excited to learn BQ was launching a tablet with Ubuntu, something that I have been waiting for a good solid three years now. We had the phone released last spring, and now there's a tablet. The cycle is almost complete.

Now, as you know, I was only mildly pleased with the Ubuntu phone. It is a very neat product, but it is not yet as good as the competitors, across all shades of the usability spectrum. But this tablet promises a lot. Full HD, desktop-touch continuum, seamless usage model, and more. Let us have a look.

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Taming Plasma

updated April 28, 2016, category: Software & security

Taming Plasma
How does one go about taming Plasma? Well, that seems to be a recurring question I get asked in the emails. People are really interested to know about theme, font, icon, and window decoration management in Plasma, and how it compares to the good ole KDE4. A valid question.

We already know quite a bit about this desktop environment. I was extremely keen on Plasma last year, and even crowned it my favorite for a while. We also talked about some neat tips and tricks on managing the desktop, so it's not a stranger. Now, we shall delve deeper into the aesthetics side of things.

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Rejection Report 1: Antergos and Neptune

updated April 25, 2016, category: Software & security

Rejection report 1
I really hate doing this, but I must. Having wasted about two hours of my life trying to get a bunch of distros to boot means I have to let that negative energy get released, and the only way is to write an article. And so begineth a new series, Rejection Report.

In this saga, I will report on all the different distros that giveth me grief and not alloweth me to boot them properly, either from USB or DVD or both. In any case, since I won't be able to give you all the goodies, I will give you a few baddies. And that's fair. Follow me.

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Windows 10 & GWX Control Panel

updated April 23, 2016, category: Software & security

GWX Control Panel
I have already shown you, not once but twice, how to get rid of the GWX popups offering free upgrades to Windows 10. You do that by assuming ownership of the namesake folder and files, changing their permissions, and then either deleting or renaming the objects. Then, we followed up with some registry tweaks and such. Advanced work, mostly.

But what if you're not comfortable with the steps above? You do not want to manually tamper, and that's a perfectly legitimate point of view. But you still do not wish to have that popup. To wit, let me introduce a tool called GWX Control Panel. Follow me.

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Amazon Fire TV Stick review - Half the price half the joy?

updated April 22, 2016, category: Software & security

Amazon Fire TV Stick
Not that long after purchasing Amazon Fire TV, I got an email telling me of a pre-release price for the Amazon Fire Stick, a Google Chromecast like competitor. With the price of only USD49.99 back then, and now USD39.99, I did the impulsive thing and bought it, much like I did with the HP tablet.

I sure didn't need it, and I wasn't all too impressed with Amazon Fire TV, mostly because of the very high cost of content, but I decided to give a try. Hence this little review. Let's see if the Stick can deliver the same experience as the Fire TV for about half the price. Or perchance, half the price half the delight?

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April security sensationalism and FUD

updated April 20, 2016, category: Software & security

Security sensationalism
If you happen to follow the security scene, you must have noticed a lot of buzz around various security issues discovered this month. Namely, a critical vulnerability in the Microsoft Graphics Component, as outlined in the MS16-039 bulletin, stories and rumors around something called Badlock bug, and risks associated using Firefox add-ons. All well and good, except it's nothing more than clickbait hype nonsense.

Reading the articles fueled my anger to such heights that I had to wait a day or two before writing this piece. Otherwise, it would have just been venom and expletives. But it is important to express myself and protect the Internet users from the torrent of pointless, amateurish, sensationalist wanna-be hackerish security diarrhea that has been produced this month. Follow me.

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Cities: Skylines - Let's go underground

updated April 18, 2016, category: Computer games

Cities: Skylines, underground
Cities: Skylines is my new favorite game. It's a modern reincarnation of SimCity, and it gives me great joy to partake in its chaotic simulation, fighting traffic demons and catering to my never-happy citizens. While there is still a lot of room for improvement, and the game has yet to reach that metropolis builder stage, it is an almost perfect little title for the entrepreneuring nerd in me.

One of the core challenges in Cities: Skylines is indeed urban traffic. You start small, humble and smart. You plan. At first, seemingly, everything is under control. But then, your city explodes, the population skyrockets, and all of a sudden, your highways can't cope, your trains are late, your industry is clamoring for raw material and services, and it's getting worse by the minute. Indeed, I dedicated a whole article to trying to solve traffic network issues, but we've only scratched the surface. Now, we will go below the surface.

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ROSA R7 Desktop Fresh review - Thorny fun

updated April 17, 2016, category: Software & security

ROSA R7 Desktop Fresh
ROSA is a distro with little love for Dedoimedo. Back in 2012, I was unable to achieve a happy ending while testing ROSA Marathon, as it flaked in the hardware detection space, precluding any further testing. This sort of does not come as a surprise, because Mandriva slash Mageia and subsequently ROSA stopped liking my laptops roughly five years ago.

If you recall my distro tests back in the T61 days, at some point, Mandriva, OpenMandriva, Mageia, PCLinuxOS, and a few other related distros, all stopped booting on my boxen. ROSA was a refreshing change, but it failed the Wireless test. I hit the hardware compatibility problem yet again with my new Lenovo IdeaPad. Today? Let's see.

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Universal Install Script by XKCD - Combat test

updated April 16, 2016, category: Software & security

UIS, XKCD
Several days ago, I was gazing at the Universal Install Script comic by Randall Munroe, wondering if he may not have solved all the world's problems, save for the usual famine, war, poverty, education, corruption, and so on. But there's a certain appeal to having THE one script to rule them all, and in BASH-ness bind them. Yes, I was bored, so I thought, let's try it out.

This is going to be my attempt to run the Universal Install Script (UIS), not to be confused with the Unwarranted Self-Importance Syndrome, an affliction of many an Internet user, and then modify the script so it works smoothly, elegantly and without errors. Safely too. Let us.

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Renault Captur review - Captur the imagination

updated April 13, 2016, category: Car reviews

Renault Captur 1.5 dCI
I apologize for being cheesy. Now, a question. What do you get when you stretch a Renault Clio vertically? You get a mini SUV called Captur, which is the object of our scrutiny today. As it happens, during one of my visits to the British Empire, I got to drive a Renault Captur 1.5 dCI, a car designed to stimulate youthful and fun spirit in the modern urban driver, someone looking for the snug comfort of a small vehicle and the driving position slash status of an SUV/CUV owner.

While you will have to suffer as much as I did for the mere fact the steering column is located on the wrong side of the car, we can still try to make this a fun and engaging review. Let's see if this little thing can be a cool and exciting purchase. Follow me.

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Windows 10 GWX upgrade removal - second guide

updated April 11, 2016, category: Software & security

GWX removal, second guide
Hello children of the Internet. As you may well recall, sometime in mid-2015, Microsoft started offering free upgrades to Windows 10 for eligible Windows 7 and 8.1 users through a system tray utility called GWX. So far so good.

However, the one big issue with this tool was that you can't really defer or reject upgrades. The lack of user freedom and choice annoyed me so much that I wrote a thorough, angry guide on how to get rid of it, by changing ownership and permissions of its folders and files. Then, not that long ago, several readers emailed me, telling me my method was failing. Worried and alarmed, I set about testing and verifying. Hence this article.

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Linux Mint security - 28 days later

updated April 9, 2016, category: Software & security

Linux Mint & security
Ignore the actual time count. Answer me this: When would you feel more secure, knowing that your favorite distribution has been attacked and is now under scrutiny, or thinking - or rather not thinking - that your Linux may have been a target of a dedicated attack? In other words, if there's a security problem, and you're not aware of it, are you not in fact a happier camper?

These two philosophical questions relate directly to the Linux Mint website breach in February, which resulted in a compromised ISO being served from the official domain. Since, the problem has been addressed, various security measure put in place to improve and ensure the robustness of the Mint domain, and normal operation resumed. But . is that good enough?

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How to remove Skype ads - New tutorial

updated April 7, 2016, category: Software & security

Skype & ads
Approx. three to four years ago, I wrote an article telling you how to remove the pesky Home screen and disable ads. The highlight of the previous guide was in changing your language settings to a user-defined one, as the company had no ads targeted at a geographically and culturally undefined demographics.

A lot has changed since. Skype has incremented its version to 7.X, we have Windows 10, there's more forced integration of commercially-flavored online features, and lo and behold, my quiet and peaceful Skype was showing ads all of a sudden, at the top of each and every conversation screen. This won't do. After me.

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Windows security updates with ads - Continued

updated April 4, 2016, category: Software & security

Windows security updates & ads
Several weeks ago, a big storm erupted over the Internet sea, after we learned that Microsoft has decided to bundle non-security fixes into their cumulative Internet Explorer patch. This was a first, and it created a rift in trust between the company and its users, already eroded by the Windows 10 shenanigans and whatnot.

I decided to do some testing of my own. So we have a precedent, and we have workarounds, but we don't have any real proof how this Windows 10 promo stuff fits into the cumulative updates, and how it's presented to users. Rather than let rumor and fear reign supreme, I expanded my testing to yet a third Windows box, this one without any protection from GWX. Let us see what gives.

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Pisi Linux 1.2 Xfce don't love me none

updated April 1, 2016, category: Software & security

Pisi Linux 1.2 Xfce
Several weeks ago, I was asked to review Pisi. This distro is a continuation of what the Pardus project was, which, for a brief while, I considered one of the most successful KDE4 versions on the market. Then it was gone.

Pisi came in its stead, and continued the work. As always, you get a very unique spin, and lots of custom-developed tools and features. On the one hand, admirable, on the other, somewhat tricky and confusing for mainstream users. Worth a shot? Let's take a look.

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Fedora 23 finally running on Lenovo G50-70! Results.

updated April 1, 2016, category: Software & security

Fedora on Lenovo G50-70
I've done something I really really hate. No, I've not worn Crocs. I flashed the BIOS, or rather UEFI, on my Lenovo G50, which happens to be my test box de jour for most Linux distros out there. Except, as I've reported a while back, it's not fully supported by all operating systems.

The RH family was the most notorious among the bunch, and so I never got the chance to try Fedora on the laptop, which is a shame, because I really liked it, and I found it quite fun to use and play and whatnot. Only it never would boot. Just hang there like a frozen toad. But that has changed recently.

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Slow Windows Update? Here's a fix. Maybe.

updated March 31, 2016, category: Software & security

Slow Windows updates
Me haz noticed that, sometimes, quite often, the initial Windows Update discovery process takes a long time to complete. It depends on how many updates are available, how long it's been since the last full patch cycle, and what kind of hardware you have. But often as not, it takes a good 60-90 minutes to give you the list of updates you can install. During that entire time, svchost.exe sub-process of the WU executable eats a full CPU core worth of processing power. After that, the actual install is usually faster, if not really fast.

This rather inconsistent and somewhat annoying behavior of the WU discovery prompted me to try to find a solution to this issue. Searches, queries and forum questions led me to two rather long and exhaustive threads on Wilders and DSLReports, offering a wealth of suggestions and options. With a spare box awaiting testing, I set about exploring.

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I just pre-ordered the BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition tablet!

updated March 25, 2016, category: Software & security

Ubuntu tablet
Ladies ans gentlemen, I've just completed my pre-order for a spanking brand new full-HD BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition tablet. This little gadget is going live in mid-April, and I think it will be an awesome little device, which shall provide much pleasure and joy to us geeks and Linux lovers.

This pre-order closes the loop on my long-standing desire to see Ubuntu devices take hold in the market, and last year, I got myself an Ubuntu smartphone, and shipped another to a winner of the Dedoimedo 2015 contest. You can read more about these endeavors in a separate bunch of articles in the Software section. Speaking of contests, I am going to release another book shortly, and there will be another read-to-win event coming soon, and yes, you guessed it, the winning prize will be an Ubuntu tablet! Stay tuned for updates.

2015 Contest Pre-order (external link)

Why not Arch Linux?

updated March 25, 2016, category: Software & security

Why not Arch Linux
Among billions of emails that I receive daily, a frequently recurring theme is that of my willingness, or rather, lack thereof, to test and review Arch Linux. Not a derivative with a nice and fancy GUI but the stock vanilla distro. Which made me write this article.

So, without sounding high and mighty, I'd like to discuss the more philosophical question of how and why and when certain distros get to enjoy my grace, and why Arch Linux in its naked, pure form has never gotten its due review. Not only will you get an answer to your question, but you may also learn something new extra in the process. Shall we?

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Opera 35 - A Swan Song?

updated March 26, 2016, category: Software & security

Opera 35
My recent review of Opera 12 was received with mixed feelings. Some people criticized me for using the highly outdated version available in Ubuntu/Mint repositories, while others used it as an opportunity to affirm their belief that this was the last true Opera.

Indeed, a lot has changed since early 2014. Two years have gone by and Opera has moved away from being a Jack o' all Internet Suites to a more streamlined, browser-only Chrome-a-feel product. The rendering engine has changed to WebKit, the feature set slimmed down, and, like Firefox, a big and unhappy loss of identity has happened, including little rejoicing and much forking. But does this matter? Let's find out.

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Fedora 23, Nvidia & Steam - Problems and fixes

updated March 25, 2016, category: Software & security

Fedora & Nvidia & Steam
Recently, I've been hammering out a bunch of Fedora-related articles, and this is because I happen to be using this distro more and more, and liking it more and more. I have sort of tamed it, and while Gnome 3 still remains a challenge, it is no longer a painful nuisance.

We discussed Skype setup, extensions, and more. But the problem you are facing is as follows. You recently installed Nvidia drivers in your Fedora 23. Now, Steam no longer launches. It complains about libGL error: No matching fbConfigs or visuals found. What do you do now? This is a very important tutorial, so please pay attention. After me.

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Windows disk space usage - unknown files

updated March 23, 2016, category: Software & security

Windows disk space - unknown files
Where has all the good space gone, and where are all the bytes? Where's the street-wise nerd to free up my disks? Anyhow, recently, I've come across a rather bizarre disk usage problem on one of my Windows 7 boxes. The 120GB SSD was suddenly running short of space, even though it was supposed to be only about 50% utilized. I set about exploring.

The obvious choice for this kind of task is Windirstat, which we have seen in use about 18 months ago. It's a simple, no-nonsense tool, and it will display a detailed map and listing of all the files and folders. Except in my case, it wasn't really helpful. The presented data only amounted to about 60GB. But there was a big chunk, labeled unknown, occupying 55GB of its own. I had no idea what this was, but it looked like something that should not be there. So I set about exploring some more.

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Fedora 23 & Skype

updated March 21, 2016, category: Software & security

Fedora & Skype
Fedora and I have recently had a breakthrough. We started talking again, and this happened because Gnome 3 decided to become an okay desktop environment that can be used, especially when pimped up with some extra extensions.

In my review, I used some third-party repos, and eventually easyLife, a tool for managing proprietary software under Fedora, to beef up the basic and rather boring installation. We crammed some fresh stuff into the system, including media codecs, GIMP, VLC, and even Steam. The one thing missing was Skype. We shall do that shortly.

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BMW 330d xDrive M Sport review - Fantastic

updated March 20, 2016, category: Car reviews

BMW 330d xDrive M Sport
True friends are hard to come by. True friends are far and few in between. There's a saying, a good friend will help you move. A true friend will help you move the bodies. The bestest and truest of friends will let you test-drive their ultra-brand new car. In this case, BMW 330d xDrive M Sport. As pimp-dope car as cars get.

And so we have this super-extensive review of this fine four-door saloon, tested on three separate occasions, with almost 2,000 km under its wheels. More than enough for a thorough and detailed impression. It should be interesting, because the car is powered with the same straight-six 2,993cc twin turbodiesel we saw in X3, delivering all its might to four wheels. If you ever thought diesels are slow and boring, think again.

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Windows security updates come with ads? Let's check.

updated March 18, 2016, category: Software & security

Windows security updates & ads
Sounds like a horror story. But this is exactly the premise of an article posted on Ghacks a few days ago. As it goes, there's a brand new cumulative security update for Internet Explorer 11, and it seems to come with a bunch of non-security updates, potentially designed to entice Windows 7 and Windows 8.X users to try Windows 10. If true, this would be a first.

Having non-essential, advertisement-laden content bundled with security updates is a sure way to invoke the wrath of the tech community, alienate users, and cause total and utter mayhem. But wait. Most people simply don't give a shit. However, the same way I gave you the GWX removal guide, I must give this rumor its due focus. Let's see if this is something you will need to worry about. After me.

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Leopard Flower firewall - Protect your bytes

updated March 16, 2016, category: Software & security

LPFW
Several months ago, I decided to explore a somewhat obscure topic of outbound per-application firewall control in Linux. A concept that Windows users are well familiar with, it's been around for ages, providing Windows folks with a heightened sense of - if not practical factual - protection against rogues residing in their system and trying to phone home.

In Linux, things are a little different, but with the growing flux of Windows converts arriving at the sandy shores of open-source, the notion of need for outbound control of applications has also risen, giving birth to software designed to allay fears if not resolve problems. My first attempt to play with Leopard Flower and Douane was somewhat frustrating. Now, I'm going to revisit the test, focusing only on the former.

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Fedora, Gnome 3 & extensions - A quest of usability

updated March 14, 2016, category: Software & security

Fedora & extensions
Late last year, I had an epiphany. Or rather a revelation. What happened was, cor, I tried Fedora 23 with Gnome 3, and it was so much better than I expected. Crivens, things were really working out nicely, the desktop was presentable, and the combo of external repos, Gnome Tweak Tool and some imagination lent some cool results.

But maybe we could be doing more. So much more, than falling in love. We're an all time Gnome, we'll change all that's sucked before. If you don't get the James Bond reference, please slap yourself. Indeed. Let's see how well my exploration into Gnome 3 extensions went. Yes. On Fedora. Follow me.

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KaOS 2016.01 review - The fallen angel

updated March 12, 2016, category: Software & security

KaOS 2016.01
It has been roughly a year since I last reviewed KaOS, a distro that is both independent as well as inspired by Arch and friends. In other words, it's one of those systems that defies logic, exists on nerdology, and still tries to be nice and friendly. A difficult task.

Last year, I thought KaOS was the second best Arch derivative, but things have changed since, and Manjaro has definitely made some really nice progress in this area, trading bugs and geeks for sensible usability. With the G50 laptop and its dreaded UEFI in hand, I set about exploring.

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Make Linux more professional: The list

updated March 11, 2016, category: Software & security

Linux & professionalism
After writing my War on Inconsistency article, and having gone through a bunch of Arch-based distro tests, all of which exhibited the same lack of coherence, stability and predictability, I thought about what should be done in the Linux space to make it more appealing to the wider audience. Not just from the application perspective. From the brand and image angle.

Diversity and uniqueness are important and possibly even conducive to progress and success, up to a point, but then, you cannot disregard all the things that people expect from a consumer product. Which, to a large extent, Linux isn't today. However, making everything work the exact same isn't really an answer either. We do need our KDE and Xfce and Gnome, but perhaps they can all behave less erratically and radiate a tiny bit more professional air. This is my current short list of what we can do, without compromising on all the little things that make Linux so special. 2016 edition. Yes, same old, same old, blah blah, we have seen this kind of list emerge every few years, etc. True. You do not need to read. If you do want, the rest of the text awaits you.

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The MX Toolbox: Big Tools for a Little Distro

updated March 9, 2016, category: Software & security

MX Tools
One of the most exciting things in the Linux world is discovering cool new things, especially when you do not expect them. For me, one such moment happened while testing the MX distro a while back, and finding out about the namesake toolbox of goodies packaged with the distro. And then again, recently, after my pleasant and positive experience with MX-15, the latest version of this system.

I was so engrossed with the concept and what the toolbox could do that I realized writing only a brief stint inside an already long and exhaustive review would diminish the value of the MX Tools. Which means there was a need for a separate article, and here we are.

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Partition Master review - Or maybe a servant?

updated March 7, 2016, category: Software & security

Partition Master
Four score and seven days ago, I was politely asked by the EaseUS team to review their partition software called Partition Master, a partition management program touted as a free alternative to Partition Magic. I've used the word partition too many times in this paragraph, I guess.

Why are you here? Yes, you might be considering a disk and partition management tool other than the basic set available in Windows, and this is one of the options on your list. Anyhow, let's see what gives. As with any commercial review, the necessary disclaimer is in place, and now we need to see whether the program is actually worth its price tag and all other accolades. To wit, after me.

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Sun is love, sun is life - AKA UV light freckles bullshit

updated March 5, 2016, category: Hillbilly physics

UV light experiment nonsense
The only thing that infuriates me more than people having pictures of their own children as a wallpaper on their work computer is when people with minus seven knowledge in physics and biology start preaching health and doom advice. To wit, the experiment where we see people under UV light, to supposedly prove how harmful sun can really be to our skin. I purposefully won't link to this crap.

Because I absolutely hate populistic topics without any solid background in science, I thought it would make sense to write this article. Rather than urge people to hide from the sun, I'd like to do quite the opposite. Highlight how ignorance breeds unnecessary fear, and point them into the lovely and glorious embrace of our star. Let us.

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Able2Extract PDF Converter 10 review

updated March 4, 2016, category: Software & security

Able2Extract PDF Converter 10
What's the defining characteristic of greatness? The ability to accept feedback. In other words, when you ask a reviewer to test your product, and they come back with a less than positive article, you do not balk. Instead, you read through, figure out whether the criticism was based on hard facts, and improve.

Which is why I was more than happy to give Investitech a second chance when they contacted me again. My initial impression with PDF Converter 9 was rather lukewarm, focused on the product's high price, slow conversion speed, various errors when converting to DOCX and ODT, and a few other niggles. This time, we have version 10 at our disposal. Let's see how it fared.

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Power Data Recovery review - Get your bytes back

updated March 2, 2016, category: Software & security

MiniTool Power Data Recovery
As you may or may not know, my review request queue is getting longer by the day. Most of the time, it takes me months, and sometimes even years to finally accommodate some of the stuff you ask, which could create an impression that you are being ignored. Far from it. Power Data Recovery by MiniTool is one such example.

I was asked by the dev team to take their software for a lengthy spin. Elevenish months later, I had the chance to install the program and start fiddling about. For those of you wondering, Power Data Recovery (PDR) version 7.0 is a tool designed to help Windows users, well, recover lost files and folders from damaged partitions, SD cards, find lost files, and such. Any good? Let's find out.

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MX-15 review - Highway to rad

updated February 29, 2016, category: Software & security

MX Linux MX-15 Xfce
My experience with sidux slash Mepis slash AntiX has been one of the more interesting road trips in the history of Linux. As they say in Latin, per contumelia ad laudem. At first, my honest opinion was ridiculed, but then people figured out I mean well, and they took my advice to heart, and MX got into the 2014 end of the year distro vote, and then kind of rose in popularity. And kept on rising.

The latest release I tested, version 14.3, was rather average, but there was a steady, promising incline of improvement. Now, we're about to embark on the test trek again, with some extra hurdles. Xfce against Lenovo G50, with UEFI, Secure Boot, GPT, 16 partitions, Windows and six or seven Linux distros - or in Latin, distra. Follow me.

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