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Latest articles & site news

Windows 10 & Classic Shell

updated March 25, 2015, category: Software & security

Windows 10 & Classic Shell
If you've followed my Windows 10 Preview articles, including the almost latest Build 9926 edition, then you know there's a bit of a problem. It has to do with the system search functionality. It does not show in the menu anymore. Instead, it's integrated into the taskbar, and you get forced advertising and suggestions there, at least at the moment. This may yet change in the official version.

If you turn Cortana on, you can get away from that, but you need an online account. Then, you can disable the new search, and you will have a popdown search field in the menu, and this is both ugly and inefficient. You want to solve this by using Classic Shell, a super cool menu program for Windows 8 and friends. In fact, it's the program that makes Windows 8 usable. Only in some situations, it may not be installable on Windows 10. If you have been affected, please glimpse here. P.S. Build 10041 review coming soon.

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Netrunner 15 Prometheus - I'll take you to burn

updated March 23, 2015, category: Software & security

Netrunner 15 Prometheus
Netrunner 15 Prometheus is the last edition of the Ubuntu-based branch of the Netrunner family, as opposed to the rolling siblings that come with more Archy and Manjaroy DNA. While the release itself definitely begs attention and review, what makes it special is the fact it's the first distro, that I know of, to officially feature Plasma 5 as its desktop.

So we will be testing, not only the desktop itself, but also the new environment. We will be doing that on my older LG laptop. But the beauty there is that it comes with the Nvidia graphics card, so it should be extra interesting. Please follow me.

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Dedoimedo contest, update

updated March 21, 2015, category: Software & security

Dedoimedo contest
All right. As you can see, we are past the official end date for the competition, and yet, it is still running. There are two good reasons for this. One, I have tardied a bit sending the physical copies to readers, because I have myself received them late. Therefore, I want to give people more time to finish the books.

Two, so far, eleven people have pledged their hearts and minds to the competition, but only two have writ their reviews online. Hurry up folks. This is a gentle reminder to get underway with my prose. Three, most importantly, Ubuntu phone is a reality now. Which means one thing.

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Some cool Plasma tips and tricks

updated March 21, 2015, category: Software & security

Plasma tips and tricks
Several days ago, we talked about how Plasma 5 is awesome, and how it's the cure to all worries in this world, particularly those related to aesthetics, functionality and desktops. All fanboyism aside, Plasma shapes up to become the most modern and relevant Linux desktop environment, with a very intelligent sense of order and efficiency not seen elsewhere.

So I've shown you a whole bunch of cool things, but how some more cool things? In this guide, I will reveal a few hacks that can make you happier and more productive with Plasma. Sure, you can explore on your own, and experienced users probably won't find this piece remarkable, but for new users and fresh Windows converts, this article is like someone holding your hand during your first trip to Tijuana, Mexico.

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Lubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn - No, not really

updated March 18, 2015, category: Software & security

Lubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn
It has been a long while since I've last played with Lubuntu. My Ocelot review was not very favorable. While LXDE did kind of work, it failed to impress me. It also failed to cause the disruptive change, either by dislodging the big, supposedly heavy desktop environments like Unity and Gnome 3, or by stopping the development of rebellious successors.

Naturally, it comes down to the desktop setup, because Ubuntu is Ubuntu. As we've seen not that long back, LXQt came to replace it, but then it did not. LXDE lives on, and it graces a bunch of desktops. Then again, Lubuntu does not seem to work as expected, because there's LXLE Linux building upon its flaws, making them less. Indeed, today, we shall see how well Lubuntu Utopic stacks against the original version, as well as LXLE. And in general, we must not forget the crucial existential question of necessity for lightweight desktops, given the presence of the likes of Xfce and MATE, both adorning Ubuntu. Follow me please.

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Virtualbox CERT_E_REVOCATION_FAILURE - How to fix

updated March 17, 2015, category: Software & security

Virtualbox & certificates
This is going to be a very weird tutorial, today. Namely, we will fix a problem with the Virtualbox startup by using something approaching magic. Indeed, the issue you are facing reads as follows. Recently, you've upgraded your Virtualbox installation to version 4.X or something. Then, all of a sudden, it no longer starts. Instead, it throws an error.

The error message reads something like CERT_E_REVOCATION_FAILURE, and you feel like slitting your wrists. But don't. Let me show you how this kind of problem is debugged properly and smartly, and it will also give you insight into a hundred other, similar phenomena you may encounter. It's also a good lesson in Windows command line.

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Apple TV quick review

updated March 14, 2015, category: Software & security

Apple TV
Brace yourselves. This is the very first time ever that Dedoimedo reviews an Apple product. Now, I am familiar with Apple hardware, and my various family members have been using tons of them over the years. However, I have never really spent any serious time fiddling with any of these. Now that my friend has loaned me his Apple TV appliance, I must.

Anyhow, my quest for the ultimate home media player continues. So far, nothing really fits the bill. On the software side, XBMC might be the desired software component, but neither the RaspBMC nor openELEC really wowed me, especially when paired with the Raspberry Pi board, price and functionality wise. The same goes for Rikomagic and Chromecast. When it comes to watching TV, I just use whatever smartness my LG box has to offer, out of the box [sic]. Maybe Apple TV could make it happen? Let's see.

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Plasma is my new favorite desktop

updated March 13, 2015, category: Software & security

Plasma 5
Being a fanboy always helps when you want to draw attention to your articles, and in this, it's my turn to sound all gooey, agog and completely enamored by Plasma 5, the next generation of the KDE desktop framework. But the thing is, the more I'm using it, the more I'm loving it. Which is why I couldn't leave you with just the overview from several weeks back.

I spent several more days playing with Kubuntu Vivid dev branch, testing Plasma, to see what more it can do. Sure, there are bugs and niggles, the repositories are sometimes quite slow and bits and pieces go missing, so you have to wait a few hours or days before you can have a successful update cycle. Some of the functions still do not work, some work inadequately, there are visual inconsistencies and other problems. But all in all, Plasma is progressing nicely, and it's about to kick some major ass very soon. Let me show you. A sample of what I had the pleasure of doing one Saturday evening.

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LXLE Linux 14.04.1 review - Champagne without bubbles

updated March 11, 2015, category: Software & security

LXLE 14.04.1
Ubuntu derivatives are many and varied. Most build on the same base, and then add a new work environment in order to infuse the distro with a unique spin. LXLE 14.04.1 does this by applying an almost namesake desktop environment on the latest LTS Ubuntu release, and so a new fork is born.

Is this any good, you may ask? Well, that's a good question. We shall soon find out. My test will take place on a T61 machine, with its two SSD and Intel graphics. Rejoice, for the laptop is soon going to be retired, and we will have a brand new machine take its place. Let us begin.

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MiniTool Partition Wizard review

updated February 23, 2015, category: Software & security

MiniTool Partition Wizard
Several weeks back, I reviewed AOMEI Partition Assistant, a pretty decent disk and partition management software. Now, I am going to do it again, test and review another program designed to make the disk handling tasks easier for Windows folks. This one is called MiniTool Partition Wizard.

Much like before, I was contacted by the vendor and asked to check their product. And so here we are. I will try to avoid too many comparisons to AOMEI or GParted, but it is inevitable. Tested, version 8.1.1, professional edition. Let's go.

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The ultimate guide to ArmA

updated March 7, 2015, category: Computer games

ArmA guide
You all know I simply love the ArmA franchise. It all started with Operation Flashpoint, the most legendary first person shooter ever conceived by human race. By a twist of ultra-uber-super serious Soviet-inspired Czech no-Hollywood-nonsense magic, Bohemia Interactive makes computer games that are simply nine orders of magnitude above all and everything else. Beware, though. Once you've played one of Bohemia's splendid titles, you will never, ever be able to even remotely enjoy silly arcades, for as long as you're alive.

I've written many articles and reviews of the ArmA family games, and you are most welcome to take a look at all of them. But that's not the reason why we are here. The reason is, Andrew Gluck, also known as Dslyecxi, a former US marine who has compiled the most thorough tactical guides on ArmA. He may yet discover that I have decided to dedicate an entire article to his work, and indeed, let's explore the finest piece of the ArmA bible out there.

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Deepin 2014.2 - Mindbogglingly unique

updated February 23, 2015, category: Software & security

Deepin 2014.2
Linux Deepin is a Chinese penguin product, built on top of Ubuntu and using its own desktop environment, which, well, no matter what you say or think, is based on Gnome 3. My previous experience with the distribution was extremely positive, and I really liked the art work, the special touch and approach to old, proven ideas. While such attempts are usually doomed to fail, Deepin rallied and delivered.

Now, it's time for another round of testing, with the latest edition 2014.2. We will be doing the standard quad-boot game, with an aging but raging T61 plus Intel graphics and SSD. Indeed, let's see.

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Budgie Desktop - A new kid on the block

updated February 21, 2015, category: Software & security

Budgie desktop environment
Every few months or years, a new desktop environment is born in the Linux world, sometimes as an act of rebellion, also known as cutlery (forking), sometimes in order to replace an outgoing technology, and sometimes because. Several days ago, I came across Budgie, a new project and the flagship desktop for the Evolve OS Linux distribution. In general, Evolve OS is a brand new operating system. Rumors tell it has some roots in Gentoo, Pardus and friends.

We are going to discuss the latter at a later time, but for now, it is time to explore Budgie. It is based on Gnome, so it should not be a complete stranger. Anyhow, baby steps, beta, so everything you see and hear today must be taken with a big, fat disclaimer. Tested from a Ubuntu PPA on an existing, running instance of Utopic.

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More awesome sites added to the Hall of Fame

updated February 18, 2015, category: Greatest sites

Windows 10 network access
That time again. We're adding excellent new content to the slowly but surely growing list of the greatest sites on the Internet, as judged by your significant brother, me. And like the last time, we are verging into the realm of foreign languages, so you might have to exercise your translator skills. To wit, Heise Online, a site dedicated to popular technology, operating systems, three-letter agency news, and such.

The second one is LWN.net, a geeky yet visually unassuming portal of Linux stuff. Written in English, it will trouble you less vis-a-vis translations, but it should provide you with a decent, balanced dose of highly in-depth articles on kernel internals, software reviews, free software discussion, security updates, and such. Quite useful. Enjoy.

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Windows 10 & network share access denied - Solution

updated February 18, 2015, category: Software & security

Windows 10 network access
Your problem might be as follows. You have recently upgraded your Windows 10 Preview to the new Build 9926, and all of a sudden, network shares, like other Windows machines you may have in your environment, are no longer accessible. Best of all, they worked fine right up until the upgrade.

I have outlined this issue in my review, and now, I'm sharing the promised tutorial that solves the problem. Get it? Sharing. I'm sharing a solution to a sharing problem. That's so damn witty. Now, follow me.

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LibreOffice 4.4 review - Finally, it rocks

updated February 16, 2015, category: Software & security

LibreOffice 4.4
LibreOffice is the flagship office suite for Linux. It's also quite popular with Windows users. As a free, open-source and cross-platform solution, LibreOffice allows people to enjoy the world of writing, spreadsheets, presentations and alike without having to spend hefty sums of money. The only problem till now was that it didn't quite work as advertised. Microsoft Office support was, for the lack of a better word, lacking.

Version 4.4 is out, and it promises a great deal. A simplified interface, new looks, much improved proprietary file format support. Sounds exciting, and as someone who has lambasted LibreOffice for this very reason in the past, I felt compelled to give this new edition its due rightful try. On top of Plasma 5 no less. So let's see.

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Opel Insignia 2.0 CDTI ecoFLEX review

updated February 14, 2015, category: Car reviews

Opel Insignia 2.0 CDTI ecoFLEX
Several days ago, we had the extra long and beautiful Eurotrip article. And while we did review Opel Insignia, that's Vauxhall for you Brits and colonists, we did not really review the car. We focused on the road and driving conditions and how well the car blended into the environment. Now, we shall rectify this.

To wit, here's a proper car review, which mostly ignores how red sunsets are in certain parts of the world, the speed limits on highways, but in a safe way, and other conditions that bring out the inner child in you. We will do the interior and exterior expose, then delve deeper into problems, comfort, price, options, and such. Then, finally, we will revisit the driving part, but without repeating ourselves or being boring. Follow me.

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On the topic of global warming

updated February 13, 2015, category: Hillbilly physics

Global warming scandal
Back in 2011, I wrote my global warming article, calling it what it is. Bollocks. I received a fair dose of flak for my insight, as some of my readers found my skepticism regarding the human-inflicted increase in temperature on a global scale too much to handle.

In early February 2015, articles started floating around the Web, talking about the greatest scientific scandal of all time. The topic? Global warming. Or rather, artificial tampering with data points collected by numerous weather stations round the world, in order to create the necessary trends that prove the planet is heating up as a result of human-generated carbon emissions. Oops. I wrote back then that it isn't all scientific. Indeed, when people make changes to numbers, it isn't science. And yes, as always, I'm 100% right.

Read more and more and more (external link) ...

Google Chromecast quick review

updated February 13, 2015, category: Software & security

Chromecast
Remember my XMBC tests on top of a Raspberry Pi board? Good. Last year, after purchasing my LG smart TV, I started playing with various low-cost appliances, trying to find the optimal hardware and software set for a home media center. In the end, I chose nothing, because the television itself is good enough for all my daily needs. Now, though, a couple of my friends have loaned me their stuff, including Apple TV, Chromecast and Odroid. Yay, I have friends! Just kidding. Imaginary friends.

We will begin with Chromecast. This is a tiny, low-cost HDMI dongle, designed to transform your regular TV into a smart, network-capable device. For only USD35, you get a media player that can stream all sorts of contents from your mobile devices and computers directly onto the large screen. Sounds cool, so let's see what gives.

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LibreOffice Viewer for Android

updated February 11, 2015, category: Software & security

LibreOffice Viewer for Android
An interesting moment, don't you think, the official announcement by the Document Foundation about the availability of LibreOffice for Android. Now, this is only a beta, and this is only a viewer, allowing you to read but not yet create office documents on an Android device. Like they say in The Wheel of Time series, it was a beginning.

A full suite is planned much later down the road. But for now, you can test the Viewer. The application is available in the Play Store, and side by side with the remote control Android utility for LibreOffice Impress, it gives you an early set of official tools for the most popular open-source and free office suite out there. I did my share of testing and screenshots. Just a sampling, but let's see.

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Windows 10 & Cortana - In-depth tour and message

updated February 9, 2015, category: Software & security

Windows 10 & Cortana
So far, I've interested you with a very long review of Windows 10 Preview Build 9926, which brings Halo-game Cortana nerdonics to your desktop. Imagine that, geeks getting all shivery by listening to a slightly robotic female voice. Oh, the subtle pointlessness of human existence.

I want to explore this technology some more, because it's not just about AI and voice search and other buzzwords like cloud. It's also about the future direction of operating systems and somewhat forced integration of moronity and remote computation into your everyday devices. Internet of Things (IoT) becoming Idiots of Tomorrow (IoT). Let's see if there's any merit to a digital woman bossing you around.

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Plasma 5.2 review - Fire all weapons!

updated February 7, 2015, category: Software & security

Plasma 5 review
Today is going to be an exciting day. We will be testing the official release of Plasma, on top of an early version of Kubuntu. This shall be a teaser of what we might expect to see in April. Given my excellent experience with a beta release on top of Utopic last year, my hopes and expectations are very high.

Plasma 5 has the potential to revitalize the Linux world, it's that important and meaningful. Of course, we must not forget that applications play their critical role, but if you need to sell your product, the first look, the very first impression is important. And in that regard, Plasma has everything to gain and lose. After what happened with Gnome, it's the one remaining bastion of sanity in the Linux desktop world. And so we begin.

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Eurotrip in Opel Insignia

updated February 6, 2015, category: Car reviews

Eurotrip in Opel Insignia
The phrase Eurotrip hints heavily at some kind of a trip across Europe. Which is exactly what we are going to do, only on a smaller scale. We won't roam across the whole continent surely. We will do less. A single country. In Opel Insignia 2.0 CDTI ecoFlex estate edition.

The country of choice is Croatia, with eight days and 1,977 km traveled on pay-to-use highways, B roads, C roads, macadams, country lanes, twisty serpentines, seaside magistrales, coastal cities with the unblemished charm of Austro-Hungarian rule and Italian terracota rooftops. In later articles, we will follow up with some German and Italian experience. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's see what gives here.

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Far Cry 4 review - Meh. Overrated. Arcade.

updated February 4, 2015, category: Computer games

Far Cry 4
Today, I am going to write this fine, negative review of the latest Far Cry release, because I have paid USD59.99 for the title, just a day before the big Christmas sale and thus missed the 20% off promo, and because it's not worth its price tag, as you shall soon discover.

Anyhow, I did pretty much the same mistake as with Call of Duty, another super overrated shooter. Just like back then, after purchasing my latest high-end laptop, I kind of got enthusiastic about playing several fresh games, and against my better judgment and experience, I actually read some of those rave reviews praising Far Cry 4 and its open-ended nature and elephants and such, and decided to give it a try. End result, this article.

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Windows 10 Preview Build 9926 - Awesome and horrible

updated February 2, 2015, category: Software & security

Windows 10 Preview
As you know, I have already reviewed Windows 10 a while back, and I liked it. Which meant I wasn't expecting to spend too much time fiddling with the latest release of the preview build, numbered 9926, when it came out in late January. And yet, I found myself hands deep in testing and troubleshooting, and this is the first of many articles on the topic.

This new edition brings us that much closer to what the official product ought to look like. On paper, it sounds glamorous. Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for Windows 7 and above, you get Cortana integrated in your desktop, and other cool tricks. Enough to convince people that Microsoft is back on its feet. Truth to be told, I did purchase some of its shares, but if you expect bias in this article, you're wrong. I'm going to praise and then lambaste Windows 10. While the reaction is not going to be as cheerful as my Windows 8 reviews, it gets close enough. A doomsday warning. Now read.

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KaOS 2014.12 review - Chaos and anarchy

updated January 31, 2015, category: Software & security

KaOS 2014.12
KaOS is one of those distros you discover by rumor. A forum post here, an end of the year best distro vote there, and you end up exploring and checking and such. Anyhow, from what I've been able to read, establish, decipher and learn is that KaOS is a lightweight KDE system, inspired by Netrunner and Manjaro, both of which are heavily based on the formidable Arch, a proverbial sacrificial altar for Linux noobs. In the canonical notation, this means KaOS = (Arch)(Man)(Arch), but only in spirit if not binary compatibility. Or something. The actual code is independent, as far as the Internet would tell me.

All right. So let's see what gives. Not that long ago, I was a little disappointed with a similar offering, Chakra, which failed to open my spiritual holes and let the good energy flow. Maybe KaOS can deliver. Stand and deliver. Hihihi.

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HTML, the plot thickens

updated January 30, 2015, category: Software & security

HTML editors, part 2
After I wrote my review on several WYSIWYG editors that Linux folks might want to use to hone their HTML and CSS skills, I got several aggressive suggestions for additional products and tools. It was an offer I could not refuse, and you might want to narrate this in a slightly asthmatic voice of Marlon Brando, plus the accent.

Today, we shall expand. And the interesting part it, we're going deep space, into the Nerdon Nebula, where you get to meet LaTeX-like syntax and similar cool stuff. But the idea is, you will gain a big, fat notch on your proverbial Linux and HTML belts, and this knowledge ought to come useful one day. Let's continue then, mastering HTML the fun way.

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Mercedes 280 SL - A forty-six-year love story

updated January 28, 2015, category: Car reviews

Mercedes 280 SL
Which is more exciting? Lamborghini Aventador, or a Mercedes 280 SL cabriolet from 1968? That sure is a tough question, and based on the crowds gathered round each, it's the new supercar that wins. But the smile on my face was sure bigger and brighter when I glimpsed the old timer on the roads of Opatija, Croatia's Saint-Tropez.

In this coastal city in Istria, where, back in its day, the Hapsburg Empire built its resorts like crazy, the oldtimers club gathers every Tuesday evening during the holiday season, and lets the interested enthusiasts enjoy a free ride, as passengers of course, in their meticulously preserved classics. The ensemble includes many a great example: Fiat 500 Cabriolet, Fiat 124, an original Beetle, a right-hand side JBA Falcon Roadster from its first production run in 1982, and others. But what drew me more than others was the 46-year-old Mercedes 280 SL.

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Make Windows look like Mac OS X tutorial

updated January 26, 2015, category: Software & security

Windows like Mac OS X
Here's another visual transformation guide. We saw quite a few of those on Dedoimedo, including how to make Windows XP look like Windows 7, then how to make the latter look like Windows 8, and we also dabbled in Android, changing its appearance to be like Windows Phone and Ubuntu Phone. Yup.

Now, we will make Windows, specifically the latest Windows 10 Technical Preview, look somewhat like Mac OS X Yosemite, so that you can feel posh and special and stylish. Not that the stocks looks are bad, mind, but we wanna have some fun, and this tutorial will show you how to do that. After me.

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Rhythmbox & smartphone sync - Just don't

updated January 24, 2015, category: Software & security

Rhythmbox & smartphone sync
Several weeks ago, while doing a review of Fedora 21, during the installation process, one of the little flying banners that happened to make the experience less boring told me that Rhythmbox supports easy peasy sync with smartphones. I said, strewth, let's check this.

As you know, Rhythmbox is one of the more popular Linux media players, and it's included as the default application in many a distro out there. The list of options and capabilities is fairly impressive, but I wanted to check this one claim. Can Rhythmbox really interface with your smartphone with ease and elegance and make it a pleasant media experience? Let's see what gives.

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Chakra 2014.11 Euler review - My tantra be failing

updated January 23, 2015, category: Software & security

Chakra 2014.11 Euler
Chakra Linux is an interesting offering. It aims to deliver the purest of KDE experiences to its users, plus it is based on goat sacrifice, which means Arch Linux. And that's mental, if you expect meek results, which I obviously do.

Intrigued, I set about trying this latest of releases. My previous experiences, with the 2011 and 2012 releases, respectively, were mixed. More accurately, the older version was pretty good, while two years ago, it was merely average. So let's try one more time, shall we.

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Making contact with Lamborghini Aventador

updated January 21, 2015, category: Car reviews

Lamborghini Aventador
Finding yourself in the vicinity of a hypercar is always a special moment. If you get to sit inside one, and then maybe, turn the ignition on, fighter jet style, even better. But I am getting carried away. No, I am not going to drive a Lambo. Not today. However, art must be appreciated. Hence, article.

As I was strolling the Croatian Riviera, my eyes fell upon a glorious visage. Some lucky guy had just bought himself a barely second-hand black Lamborghini Aventador, definitely the best looking hypercar on the market, with its space-age lines dating all the way back to Countach. They ferried his car in by a truck and gently unloaded it in front of his cafe. Masses flocked to watch. Me too.

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SAR to the rescue

updated January 19, 2015, category: Software & security

SAR
If the first thing that comes to mind when you see the letters SAR is Search & Rescue, helicopters, whatnot, then you are militarily inclined, may have been a member of armed forces, and/or played too many PC flight simulators, which is all good and fine. But it stands to logic, does it not, that a Linux system profiling designed to shed insight into system performance issues would be named the same way. SAR.

SAR actually stands for System Activity Report, but the basic premise is the same. You search for problems, and you fix (rescue) your box. Today, we will learn how to use SAR to make our Linux life easier. If you've read my Linux cool hacks compilations and closely followed the troubleshooting super tutorial, then you're already familiar with the ins and outs of Linux system debugging. Let's notch it up.

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Manjaro 0.8.11 - The lonely goatherd

updated January 17, 2015, category: Software & security

Manjaro 0.8.11
When you wake up in the morning, strut about your apartment listening to Zamfir and wonder about the world, one of the things that itches your brain ganglia is the fact there is a distro there, called Manjaro, which claims to be friendly version of Arch, which is like saying a healthy isotope of Plutonium. Can't be done.

Or maybe? Well, as the explorer of the final frontier called Linux, I set about to do just that, bolstered by love and care and fine, cultured praise from the community. But all seriousness aside, I did play with Manjaro, Xfce version, and it was decent. Not amazing, somewhat confusing and rather buggy, but an excellent starter for the newb-slayer distro called Arch. And so we're back at it again, with KDE this time. Follow me.

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Antix MX-14.3 review

updated January 16, 2015, category: Software & security

Antix MX-14.3
One of the things you can count on in the Linux community is love and understanding from the wider audience, especially if you write a less favorable review of a distribution favored by a particular segment of the community. The smaller they get the fiercer the response. Most people would decide the flak was not worth their time, file relevant distributions under the ignore label, and move on to friendlier crowds.

But I'm a better person than that, which is why I'm testing Antix MX-14 once again, this time a dot three flavor, once again adorned with the Xfce desktop. The previous version did not impress me, for which I got love, then having included this operating system in the best Xfce of 2014 competition also got me some more love. Never mind that, let's focus on the technical bits, not the drama. After me.

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Make Android look like Ubuntu Phone

updated January 14, 2015, category: Software & security

Android look like Ubuntu
Just a couple of days ago, I showed you how to transform the stock Android to look & feel like Windows Phone, which is aesthetically superior, although I would also argue in its favor a technological superiority, as well, but then you'd accuse me of fanboyism.

Anyhow, the second transformation we're about to undertake is making Android look somewhat like Ubuntu Phone, a concept that has not yet been fully realized or released into the public. Rather than jeopardizing your phone with a beta, we will settle for a cosmetic change only. To wit, this article. Follow me.

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Make Android look like Windows Phone

updated January 12, 2015, category: Software & security

Android look like Windows Phone
We all know that the Windows Phone design is the most sensible smartphone interface around. This is from a Linux user, and someone who hates Windows 8.X on the desktop. Therefore, if you disagree, go away now. If you are here to learn how to make Android prettier, please continue reading.

So yes, I own a Nokia Lumia 520, and I like it a lot. I also happen to own a Samsung S4, and I think its user interface is too cluttered. Now, Google's come up with something called Material Design, and Lollipop is supposed to be all flat and pretty, but it's just a minor alignment toward what Apple has done recently, and what Microsoft has been doing for a long while with their phones. And so, I'd like to help Android users enjoy a higher form of aesthetics. Ergo, this article.

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Linux Mint 17.1 Rebecca review - Oops. Nope.

updated January 10, 2015, category: Software & security

Linux Mint 17.1 Rebecca
Linux Mint is the most popular distribution out there. For many good reasons. Overall, it's exercised a healthy record of stability, consistency and quality. Now and then, it may seesaw up and down on the success ladder, but it's always in the top five category, which means the users can expect and rely on decent results for their Mint desktop experience.

The latest edition is called Rebecca, but it's still based on Trusty LTS, like the previous version. This is a smart choice, and it reflects the dev team's desire not to dabble in unstable middle-of-the-road ideas and concepts that interim Ubuntu releases bring. To wit, it probably does not justify a new name, or conversely, the numbering convention should have been kept. But instead of being Mint 18, Rebecca is a 17.1 release. Slightly quirky. Let's see what it can do.

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Zorin OS 9 review - Looking good

updated January 9, 2015, category: Software & security

Zorin OS 9
It is time to give Zorin OS another look. For some random reason, I skipped the eighth edition, but the ninth will do just fine. Anyhow, officially, it is one of the top ten distros on Distrowatch, even though it does not fare highly on my annual vote poll. Why, me wonders ever so often. But then, looking at my previous experiences, you win some, you lose some.

Now, I must think of a nice cliche that goes well with this distro's name. Ah yes. Zorin, the villain from A View to a Kill, a very nice James Bond movie, and probably the best villain to date. So there. Follow me, please.

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Cometdocs - Let the converted files rain down on me

updated January 7, 2015, category: Software & security

Cometdocs
We have seen cometdocs in action many many years back, in my compilation on free online conversion tools and sites. Alongside several other rivals, cometdocs offered users a service of transforming their office files to PDF and vice versa. After the article came up, several years later actually, the cometdocs folks contacted me and asked me to give their software another try. I obliged, with the usual many-months long delay due to my ultra busy writing pipeline. A similar story to the AOMEI Partition Assistant testing.

Now, we shall revisit cometdocs and see how well the programs works, and whether it can be really useful to ordinary people. We will try it both in Windows and Linux, and the simple question of practical day to day use comes to mind. Let's see.

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AOMEI Partition Assistant review

updated January 5, 2015, category: Software & security

AOMEI Partition Assistant
Some time back, one of the AOMEI marketing folks contacted me and asked that I review the free edition of their disk partition management software, available for Windows users. At first I was a little skeptical. Why would anyone need a tool other than GParted to manage their disks? But then, not everyone is a Linux user.

With the global audience in mind, I decided to try this tool and see whether it can fill the gap between the somewhat rudimentary utility natively available in Windows and other, more nerdy methods of booting into a live Linux session and slicing and dicing the disks from yonder. Here be a review of AOMEI PA Standard Edition 5.5. After me.

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Steampunk crossbow and pistol design

updated January 3, 2015, category: 3D art

Steampunk & crossbow
One day, I just woke up and decided to try to sketch a crossbow. And a pistol. And make them into one wicked device. Victorian Age style thingie. Van Helsing, too. So, I ended up with the 3D model and gallery that you're just about to check. My latest invention is a combined crossbow and revolver pistol inspired by the repeating weapon used by the legendary monster hunter in the name sake movie, as well as genuine 15th century German matchlock revolvers. Should be interested.

As always, I did the early design in SketchUp, then exported the model to Kerkythea, applied some texture, and made it all very realistic. I tried my best, and I honestly believe this is my most complete and handsome model yet, especially because it has a lot of curves and bulges and non-linear shapes. Then, it's also resting on the ground, and it comes with its crossbow bolts. Really dramatic. Follow me.

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Opel Corsa OPC long-term review - Raw and fun

updated January 2, 2015, category: Car reviews

Opel Corsa OPC
You probably remember my first review of Opel Corsa OPC - Vauxhall Corsa VXR for the colonial readers, in which I highlighted just how impressed I was with the acceleration, handling and the grip of this little hot hatch, especially when compared and pitted against the likes of Peugeot 208 GTi and Skoda Octavia vRS.

Anyhow, my impression translated into a click, which means a buy, and so here we are, with Opel Corsa OPC for a long-term drive, and that means all kinds of feedback and whatnot. We will revisit all those fine and less fine things that we saw in the initial test, and follow up with some more prose and fine imagery. Yes.

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elementary OS 0.3 Freya beta review

updated December 31, 2014, category: Software & security

Elementary OS 0.3 Freya
This happens to be one of them distros what mystifies me, good and bad. On one hand, it seems to be very popular, if you look at the Distrowatch rank listing, or consult my best distro of the year vote readers' choice section, where a rather handsome portion of the audience chose elementary as their favorite spin. It's only officially at version 0.2, the last stable release was unleashed unto the nerdy crowds some 16 months back, and the latest beta is still only at version 0.3, and taking its time.

Neither the first nor the second dot oh something release managed to impress me. The desktop environment was pretty and cool, but the overall composition was quite buggy. And this brings me to the other hand of the argument. I kind of want to review it again, despite all of the above. Testing 0.3 Freya, beta. Here we go. Happy New Year!

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And so Mozilla gave us tiles

updated December 29, 2014, category: Software & security

Firefox tiles
In mid-November, sponsored tiles were finally unleashed unto the world, and first-time Firefox users got a unique and exciting new experience with the new tab page. Just kidding. But words like unique and exciting are the bee's knees nowadays.

Anyhow, I told you what I think of Firefox 29 and the Directory Tiles scheme. For the latter, I focused on the honesty part of this whole deal, but now that the actual content has been realized into a product, i.e. ads, let's have a lovely, factual discussion. Let's see how this sponsored stuff really works, and whether it bring any value to the user. A fair test.

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HTML? What is this wondrous technology?

updated December 27, 2014, category: Software & security

HTML editors
In this modern, decadent age of Drupal, WordPress and friends, it is all too easy to create a Web site and get underway. Throw in rich, powerful Web-based publishing services like Blogspot and WordPress.com, and there's little to no incentive for a young, entrepreneuring blogger to invest a large amount of time in understanding and learning the underlying fundamentals of site creation. And yet, there is.

Recently, I've worked on redesigning a basic WordPress template into a flexible, dynamic design for one of my hobby-on-the-site websites, and while doing that, I realized how much core knowledge is really needed to get your site to a professional level. Anyone can publish stuff, but the moment you want to edit some of the styling, dig deep into CSS, and really make changes, you must have at least some familiarity with the Web and its language. Which brings me to our topic. Does anyone still do pure HTML?

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Macbuntu strikes again, and we likes it!

updated December 26, 2014, category: Software & security

Macbuntu
Remember Macbuntu? It's a MAC OS X transformation pack for Ubuntu, which lets you tweak your Ubuntu desktop into looking like an Apple's offering. I have tried it about four years ago, on Lucid, but haven't played with the software since Unity replaced Gnome 2 as the desktop environment. I decided it was time for another attempt.

If you read online, you will find multiple references to Macbuntu, so it can be a little confusing. There's the SourceForge hosted project, and there's the initiative by Noobslab, who have packaged together a handful of PPA and scripts to help you refashion your Unity desktop in a modular and easily reversible way. We checked.

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Fedora 21 review - Uh, not again

updated December 24, 2014, category: Software & security

Fedora 21 KDE
The latest release of Fedora bears the most imaginative name evar. Fedora Twenty-One. Shiver me timbers. But never mind. I liked Fedora 20 a lot. I actually let it join the hallowed list of best distros for 2014. Now, we test the successor release.

So let us test. As always, I will go with the KDE edition, because I can't stand the Gnome one, and it's pointless anyway. We will be running our little experiment, ja, on my quad-boot test laptop, with SSD and Intel graphics. Let's go.

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BMW X3 xDrive30d review - Pimp it up!

updated December 22, 2014, category: Car reviews

BMW X3 xDrive30d
A friend of mine is a gangsta. No, not really, but he likes his cars. Which is why he bought an X3, and let me slobber over his expensive seats. Well, he actually let me drive this thing. Now, as you might imagine, with a twin-turbo 3.0-liter diesel, 8-speed ZF automatic and on-demand all-wheel drive known as xDrive, this ought to be interesting. Kind of Audi A6 interesting.

So, today, we're gonna do another fancy test. A car for not-quite mortals. But if you're an executive, a diplomat, or just have enough spare cash, then you might want to consider BMW X3. To help you with your decision, I'm gonna do my usual share of road fun. Follow me.

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Why aren't we using ekranoplans?

updated December 20, 2014, category: Hillbilly physics

Ekranoplans
If you're wondering what ekranoplans are, they are also known as Wing-in-Ground (WIG) effect vehicles and Ground Effect Vehicles (GEV). In other words, ekranoplans are a bastard concept that does not fit any one conventional category easily. Not a plane, not a ship, not a hydrofoil, not a hovercraft, not anything. But the closest analogy would be: big, heavy low-flying aircraft.

Yes, ekranoplans are fascinating because of the whole range of physics and technology concepts that they so deceptively cover, as well as the practical usage they could have. Imagine a transportation vehicle that lands on the sea, just like a conventional seaplane. But it is not a seaplane, because its flight range is mostly restricted to very low altitudes above the sea, in fair weather conditions. Then, size-wise they are like ships, only much faster. Finally, they might also be used over the ground, making them just like ordinary aircraft. Confused? Good.

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And the best distro of 2014 is ...

updated December 19, 2014, category: Software & security

Best distro of 2014
Let's vote. Put on your red shoes and ... let's focus on Linux. End of the year, many a review, much experience, such wow, and similar. But it's been an interesting year indeed, with lots of great and not so great distros coming and going. However, what I find really spectacular is that nothing major happened. Ubuntu's latest LTS is probably the biggest news, and we missed such milestones as Steam Box, Mir, Wayland, Ubuntu phone, and many other cool concepts that got delayed or canceled altogether.

Still, we must select the best performer of 2014, and there's a handsome pool to choose from. Recently, we voted on the best KDE and Xfce flavors, and now we will do a more generic contest, which spans the chasm of ideology and desktop environments. Now, please, follow me.

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