Please support Dedoimedo - consider buying my tech and fiction books. Thank you!

Updated: October 28, 2020 | Category: Life wisdom

How to become an online warrior

You, ordinary person. I'm talking to you. Are you tired of sitting on the sidelines and watching all the fun and drama that is the Internet pass you by? Would you like to get involved in other people's lives more, even if they don't need it? Would you like to teach and enlighten others about higher moral issues they didn't know existed? Worry not, you have come to the right place. Today, I will teach you all it takes to become a fearless Internet fighter.

In this most beautiful article, I will show you the tools of the trade, the lingo and the methods you will require to not only assert your dominance on the Webz like the alphaest of dogs, you will also be enriching the lives of people around you with a unique new perspective on current affairs, past affairs, future affairs, and things that might never happen. Embrace that aggressive in passive-aggressive. To be active is not to be passive. After me, let's look at what it takes to be an online champ.

Read more ...

Updated: October 26, 2020 | Category: Linux

Plasma Breeze theme edit & black fonts

One of the most common topics to land in my inbox is Linux fonts. And more often than not, people ask me about what I normally do to make font clarity and contrast higher in this or that distribution. Then, more prevalent than all are questions about my modified Plasma Breeze theme, aptly titled Brooze.

So I thought, I might as well share the full details about this fairly simple yet effective transformation. So, if you're using the Plasma desktop, and you find the default non-black fonts inadequate, let me show you a simple, non-intrusive way to setup black fonts. This change will persist across system updates, too, so you won't need to fiddle and hack. Best of all, it's part of the standard Plasma workflow. After me.

Read more ...

Updated: October 23, 2020 | Category: Linux

Albert assistant review

A light comic book repartee, right there, ha ha. So. Let's say you have a Linux desktop. What's the one thing missing? Apart from all the other things missing? Well, it's an integrated application launcher. Now, what I just said is incorrect. Because if you're using the Plasma desktop environment, you have Krunner, and you're all set like. Unity also has some elements of this goodness available.

If you're using other desktop environments, then there's isn't such functionality in the operating system really. And so Dedo reviews Ulauncher. Dedo gets emails. Emails say Dedo wrong. Dedo should review Albert. Dedo ponders and decides to blaze forth. After all, nailing down the formula for an omnipotent and actually useful desktop assistant is very hard. Often, it's a fad, a gimmick, an extra, but never something you embrace with heart and loin. Maychance Albert will convince us otherwise. To the cave.

Read more ...

Updated: October 21, 2020 | Category: Linux

Plasma 5.20 review

Mr. Negative reporting for duty, sir! Now that I've taken some time off any serious Linux distro testing and me chakras be cleansed, I am ready to embark on a new Tux adventure. As it happens, the KDE team has released Plasma 5.20 unto the wild. The release notes tell us, 'tis a nice one. But check we must.

Have you followed me recent endeavors with Plasma? Hopefully you did. Which will show you a mostly solid track record, occasionally spoiled with problems, bugs and regressions. Indeed, Plasma 5.18 LTS started somewhat lukewarm, then improved, then the 5.19 release was a bit off. Not bad overall, but it feels like the desktop environment is standing precariously on the edge of a precipice, trying to manage the rare momentum of progress it's driving in the desktop world against the lethargy and apathy surrounding it. Well, let's see what gives with this 5.20 release. After me.

Read more ...

Updated: October 19, 2020 | Category: Books & short stories

Somewhere Under the Rainbow

He is walking, barefoot, on rime and black ice. He can hear the song, at the edge of hearing, the lament of a girl. She is crying and singing at the same time, two distinct tones, one urgent and loud, one soft and painful, a strange madness to her words. They echo, weaving over and over, but there are no mountains to bounce the sound. The world has no edge. Only the blur of a searing, blinding light that makes the eye water and the mind screech ...

The ground is hard, sharp, making his toes bleed. But the dark, sticky blood oozing out is burned away by the sizzling heat, sealing his wounds with blackness. The cracked rock glows red and gold. He can hear the chittering, the nervous patter of leathery feet as they follow him. He can hear the claws scrabbling and slipping on shattered obsidian. Whenever he looks behind, they are gone, hiding in the shadows, in the ponds of brimstone, in the slimy, bubbling mud. The pain is immense. But he cannot stop. He must not stop ...

Read more ...

Updated: October 16, 2020 | Category: Life wisdom

Statistics for Idiots 101

My everyday disdain levels for most things earthly are often high, but throughout 2020, they rose exponentially. Ignoring the underlying phenomenon, 'rona, 2020 brought about a storm of populism and populistic science that made my statistical chakras shiver with fury. I have always known that people struggle with basic math, but oh boy, this year is truly special.

So I thought, the best way to vent all this anger is to actually write a nice little article that might explain some of the basics of data collection and analysis, scientific experiment and all that it entails, and the magical word statistics, which nowadays is wielded as a weapon of apocalyptic proportions. As it turns out, people make decisions based on statistics, right, without really understanding the numbers themselves or having those numbers actually be accurate and useful. Well, I'm here to help. Hopefully. Do read.

Read more ...

Updated: October 14, 2020 | Category: Office

SoftMaker Office 2021 Pro review

The world of non-Microsoft Office office suites is like an archipelago of very small islands. Similar yet different, and ultimately, all too small and fragmented to present a cohesive and complete answer to those in need of an office set of applications, free or paid. Indeed, one of the chief reasons why a user may decide to keep running Windows is their dependency on Office.

This link may never be broken, but there are tons of efforts to make a change, with varying degrees of success. For example, LibreOffice comes with tons of cool things and features but suboptimal Office compatibility. My latest LO 7.0 review prompted a barrage of emails, with people making all sorts of suggestions. Topping this list was SoftMaker Office, which has a paid Pro release, available for a 30-days free trial. The last time I tested this software was back in 2013, with my Linux office comparison, so it's time for a fresh test. Let's see what gives.

Read more ...

Updated: October 12, 2020 | Category: Linux

The Year of Linux dissatisfaction

After I published my recent MX Linux MX-19.2 KDE review, I received a bunch of emails. The responses were quite interesting, primarily because of their bi-polar nature. Some people liked the short 'n' sweet approach, some found it too harsh and/or negative. Now, I've been seeing the mails of this kind for years now, and they reflect your perception of my perception of the Linux reality. All of which boils down to a rather interesting and thought-provoking question: am I being overly negative about the Linux desktop?

Since this kind of topic definitely warrants a more-than-binary reply, I decide to write a little article, which will hopefully shed some light on the thinking process behind this author. As always, there's a fair chance it will be misconstrued, but that's life for you. Now, have a little read, if you like.

Read more ...

Updated: October 9, 2020 | Category: Life wisdom

How to build a perfect IT team

Just recently, I read a very nice article on vas3k (a website on my Greatest sites list, btw), most aptly and enticingly titled A Team - How to build awesome teams without bullshit. This actually triggered my intellectual glands, and I started pondering this subject with gusto.

What I found (missing) in the article is that it's mostly applicable to software development - and younger people in general, so I thought I might produce a more generic article along the same lines, taking into account a wider of view of the IT world. Using my personal experience, of course. So let's.

Read more ...

Updated: October 7, 2020 | Category: Virtualization

KVM - permission denied

It's been a while since I've encountered any major problems with KVM. Then again, to be fair, I've not used it that extensively in the past few years. But recently, I did have a spur of activity with this virtualization technology, and the productivity came with some troubles as a topping.

As it happens, I tried to launch a virtual machine - nothing special, just kvm xyz and whatnot. I got the following error message: Could not access KVM kernel module: Permission denied. And thus beginneth this little tutorial, which shows all the different things you can do to check what may be wrong, ans how to resolve the issue. After me.

Read more ...

Updated: October 5, 2020 | Category: Hardware

Motorola One Zoom & Android 10

By and large, phone operating system upgrades aren't that interesting, because most of the time, the difference between what you had and what you now have isn't massive. Cool from the user perspective, as your workflow doesn't get ruined. Occasionally though, the changes can be rather big - case in point, going from Android 9 to 10, which includes new privacy controls, extra personalization, and new looks.

Even as the Internet is all a-chatter about Android 11, me One Zoom finally got an update to version 10. Well, sounds like it's time to do some work. Ideally, I would be doing this experiment on my Moto G6 device, but it seems this ever so slightly older phone is not eligible for this kind of upgrade, so no love there. You did get a glimpse of Android 10 in my Nokia 1.3 review, but now, I want to see what happens on what I'd call my main smartphone, so to speak. Let's do it.

Read more ...

Updated: October 2, 2020 | Category: Virtualization

QEMU Virgil

Virtualization is a clever thing. A computer within a computer, if you will, an endless series of possibilities and usecase scenarios. Except one. Gaming. Ask any nerd who runs virtual machines, for whatever reason, and they will most likely point out one big deficiency in all and every virtualization software - insufficiently developed or powerful enough graphics stack.

Indeed, quite often, when you run guest operating systems inside virtual machines, you are often limited by the graphics acceleration - 2D and 3D functionality that is behind the native capabilities of your host. So if you think virtualization can solve many of your issues - gaming is not one of them. Virgil 3d is a project that aims to bring 3D wonders to virtualization software, with the goal of one day offering parity to host performance. An implementation of this solution is QEMU Virgil, which allows you to have SDL2 and Virgil 3d enabled in QEMU/KVM-based virtual machines. Sounds interesting. So let's have a look.

Read more ...

Updated: September 30, 2020 | Category: Linux

RR software debuging

Over the years, I've written at great length about how to troubleshoot software-related problems in the IT world in general, and in Linux, in particular. After all, this has been my bread & butter for a long time, and I'm still quite keen on the art of problem solving. One of the topics that I covered profusely is gdb, the quintessential software debugger. The only problem is - you need to innit to winnit.

What I mean by this - gdb is excellent if you can reproduce your problems. But if you run software in a production setup, you might not have the luxury to keep on triggering issues over and over. The ability to capture and then replay bugs is a great asset, and it comes in the form of RR, a tool designed to help debug recorded executions of software in a precise, deterministic fashion. Let's see what gives.

Read more ...

Updated: September 28, 2020 | Category: Hardware

Xerox B215 multifunction printer review

A couple of moons back, one of my printers decided to go a-wonk. So I thought, instead of buying a cheap replacement that slurps more ink than a vampire, I opted for a costlier solution, using Dr. Evil's favorite technology - laser. But then, here comes the hotstepper. I went really avantgarde.

Xerox is a familiar name in the world of machines that go whirrr and dish out papers full of text. However, it is more common in the business environment than it is in the homes of ordinary folks. Buying a Xerox printer for home use might be an overkill, but I was willing to risk ~USD200 for this experiment. And given there was a nice penguin logo on the box, I thought, what the hell, let's try it. Xerox B215, at your service.

Read more ...

Updated: September 25, 2020 | Category: Car reviews

BMW X3 xDrive20d xLINE review

If you've read my latest Eurotrip article, then you've already met our star for today. A few months back, I changed my grubby hands upon one BMW X3, and drove it from Lyon, France to Berlin, Germany, a handy trip worth 1,200 km, including some decent speeding on the autobahn. In the previous piece, I focused more on the journey itself, with hintful bits and pieces about the car itself. Now, we must fully dedicated ourselves to the SUV and its merits.

This ain't the first time I drove the X3 - but last time, I had the more powerful 3.0-liter diesel, which is the sort of engine used to turn smaller planets with its immense and all-too-fun torque figure. The more restrained 2.0-liter four-cylinder specimen is here, producing "only" 190 HP and solid 400 Nm of torque, spread democratically on both axles. So let's see what gives.

Read more ...

Updated: September 23, 2020 | Category: Linux

Plasma 5.19 review

Well, well, here we are. So you may be wondering, why am I testing Plasma 5.19 so belatedly. The answer to that question is multifold. One, I've spent some time away from Linux, recharging my proverbial batteries. Two, recently, I've encountered a bunch of problems in Plasma, and decided to slow down, lest I poison my own good experience with this otherwise phenomenal desktop environment.

Now that I've recuperated - look at me, I'm smiling, you can't see the scars, ha ha - it's time to take a look at what seems to be the latest crop of the Plasma. On my KDE neon box, after a series of rigorous updates, Stable Developer Edition mind, the splash screen read 5.19.4, which puts us half way to 5.20. All right, let me walk you through this endeavor.

Read more ...

Updated: September 21, 2020 | Category: Linux

RPI4 & Ubuntu MATE

Roughly two months ago, I embarked on my RPI4 home mini-desktop viability fun study, trying to decide whether the tiny board can be used as a general-purpose machine, providing a relatively cheap alternative to a full-fledged PC when it comes to basic tasks - browsing, media, whatnot. My initial testing soon exploded into a whole range of reviews and tutorials. My conclusion was, yes, you can do it, but there's a lot of work ahead of you, and you won't get an ideal video playback experience.

It's time to revisit my initial findings with Ubuntu MATE - there have been a lot of changes and improvements added both to the underlying operating system, the desktopify script that transforms the Server image into a desktop one, and the MATE desktop environment itself. Primarily, we're talking improved hardware support, with emphasis on 3D drivers. That's the theory, and now, the practice. After me.

Read more ...

Updated: September 18, 2020 | Category: Life wisdom

How to tell genuine from fake in 2020

Twenty years ago, if anyone asked you what the future Internet would look like, you most likely would have guessed wrong. You wouldn't have said: a filthy digital landscape that is getting filthier by the day, with rare nuggets of sanity and quality here and there. Which brings us to our problem. If you are keen on partaking in this idiocracy, you may find it hard to separate good from bad.

Recently, I read a few articles talking about the rising phenomenon of fake product reviews on online shopping platforms, and the associated outrage around it. As always, most people conflate multiple issues, and forget the most important rule of social conduct: personal accountability. So I'd like to take a moment or three and tell you how you should go about your online life, with the successful outcome of being able to tell genuine from fake on the modern Internet. Let's.

Read more ...

Updated: September 16, 2020 | Category: Linux

Asus Vivobook & Kubuntu Bionic to Focal upgrade

Time for an adventure. As you may well remember, I upgraded my Asus Vivobook from Trusty to Bionic not that long ago, and in the process discovered all sorts of wonders and snags. All in all, I found the move reasonable, and settled for the KDE desktop, because it's good, I like, I tell my wife, she agree, very nice.

Now, we must do the journey again - and we will go from Kubuntu 18.04 to 20.04. My expectation is, based on my testing of the Plasma desktop over the past few years, to have a somewhat improved experience, with nice sprightly performance and significantly improved Samba connectivity. Well, let's see what gives.

Read more ...

Updated: September 14, 2020 | Category: Linux

RPI4, MATE desktop & essential tweaks

Hear, hear. Today, I have a rather lengthy article for you. I want to show you all the different changes and tweaks I had to introduce to my Raspberry Pi 4 and its resident Raspberry Pi OS, in order to transform a fairly bland operating system into a stylish, eye-turning desktop. To that end, first step, I installed the MATE desktop environment.

Similar to what we did with Ubuntu MATE, we will now tweak the MATE desktop on top of Raspberry Pi OS. Please note that most of the tips and tricks outlined in the other tutorial are valid and applicable here, but we need more. Now, take a deep breath and follow me, for there's quite some work ahead of us.

Read more ...

Updated: September 11, 2020 | Category: Linux

Plasma desktop adventures

If Linux were a mathematical function, it would be a sine. You go up, up, up, all is good, then top, and down, wheee, panic, despair, and you're up again. And on and on it goes, the emotional rollercoaster. The thing, I'm extensively using the Plasma desktop, both in my production setup and on my test boxes, trying out the new features, uncovering bugs, discovering bugs, and whatnot. Fun game, but there are tears, too.

Well, in between the Plasma testing and Slimbook reports, here we go. In particular, before we plow on, I'd like to draw your attention to two of my articles slash reviews, please. First, my original take on Plasma 5.18 LTS, which was less than ideal. Then, there's second test of the 5.18 desktop, conducted a few weeks later, which shows all the bugs and problems being resolved. But the advenutre does not end there.

Read more ...

Updated: September 9, 2020 | Category: Linux

MX Linux MX-19.2 KDE

A few weeks ago, something momentous almost happened. I was this close to not doing any more Linux desktop reviews, at all. I've found the exercise absolutely draining lately, with little to no joy to be had from the software at hand. I won't repeat myself, but we all know what gives - the Linux desktop is more or less stuck in the 2014-2015 vibe, and the only thing we get more of are regressions and sadness. But then, I decided to keep testing, with a new approach. I will conduct reviews, but cut them early and short if I feel that there's no value in the experience.

So, with that in mind, I am going to look at MX Linux MX-19.2 KDE. Now, if me memory serves me right, this would be the first Plasma release for this distro, which normally specializes in lightweight Xfce works. Given that I've been mighty pleased with how the MX team did their distro in the past years, this should hopefully be a worthwhile escapade. After me.

Read more ...

Updated: September 7, 2020 | Category: Internet

OneTab extension (Firefox)

Occasionally, I get sent software recommendations by email. Believe it or not, I try to test as much as I can, even though it takes me years to go through the wishlist. And sometimes, I skip the queue, because a particular application looks rather interesting. One such example is OneTab.

This is a Firefox extension, for the post-Quantum world. Indeed, I've lamented the loss of Tab Mix Plus, as it was one of the best, most versatile add-ons for the browser EVAR made Since Firefox 57, I've been a-huntin' for a nice, elegant session manager with gusto. I did find one reasonable candidate - Session Sync. Now, there's another potential champion of tabs, and it's called OneTab. Let's see what gives.

Read more ...

Updated: September 4, 2020 | Category: Other software

The Powder Toy

One thing that defines (and unifies) the typical male between the age of 5 and 85 is the desire to blow things up. Which is why, if you have the ability to exercise explosive desires in a safe way, you should. Commence computer simulations. Commence The Powder Toy. To wit.

After I wrote my article on a similarly but less violently themed Biogenesis, a few readers mentioned The Powder Toy, a physics sandbox game that lets you realistically simulate interaction between gravity, air, pressure, heat, and various substances. Sounds like a recipe for awesome. Naturally, I set about testing.

Read more ...

Updated: September 2, 2020 | Category: Linux

Raspberry Pi OS & Network Manager

This article has a somewhat cryptic title, because the problem I am going to show and resolve here is not trivial. Long story short, you installed the MATE desktop in Raspberry Pi OS. Things are working fine, except there's no network icon in the panel. The network WORKS, but you can't control it.

You may even have installed network-manager-gnome (Network Manager) and enabled it, but it shows as an empty icon, with no Wireless networks detected and listed. As it happens, I faced this problem when I setup my Raspberry Pi 4, and so, I'd like to show you how to fix this. The solution is not pretty, but it works. Let's get to it, to it, to it, to it ...

Read more ...

Updated: August 31, 2020 | Category: Internet

Firefox 79 for Android review

Today, my Moto G6 phone had a little surprise for me. A new version of Firefox. Well, I thought, what's so special about it - ah, you see, quite a lot. This is the brand NEW mobile edition of the Firefox browser, bringing in a lot of changes under and above the hood. In essence, remember my Firefox Preview article? Well, that.

Anyway, I decided to install it and see what gives - and then share my findings with you. Because it's not only about this or that feature, it's about the future of the Web. With Idiocracy inevitably creeping on us, it's always good to know how much pain there's in store for a nerd like me (and you), come tomorrow. Let's commence.

Read more ...

Updated: August 28, 2020 | Category: Linux

Slimbook & Kubuntu combat report 13

Once again, I want to delight you (or annoy you, depends how you look at it) with another report of my extensive, real-life usage of the Slimbook Pro2 laptop in production-level conditions, a part of my long-term experiment slash desire to establish whether it's possible - and then how much - to use Linux as an everyday driver for a varied list of tasks (and not just hammering code). We've done twelve parts so far.

The general impression is good. This is a decent system, with a sturdy case, an amazing keyboard, nifty battery life, and 'tis pretty, too. The operating system de jour, Kubuntu 18.04 does a good job, too - we shall dare an upgrade sometime soon. Like I said, we had twelve reports so far, and if you're in the mood, do take a look at the last one perhaps. Now, not all is peachy, but it's mostly okay. So let's see what's changed since the last time we talked about this topic.

Read more ...

Updated: August 26, 2020 | Category: Virtualization

VirtualBox & bridged networking problem

I like V'box and I cannot lie, all you nerds cannot deny. The thing is, I use VirtualBox for all sorts of testing and whatnot. A fair deal. But now and then, this perfectly sensible program decides to misbehave and stop cooperating with my efforts. Case in point, bridged networking.

Over the years, I've written a bunch of guides revolving around VirtualBox networking features, like for instance my network & sharing tutorial, how to share over NAT with port-forwarding, and how to configure NAT networks. As it happens, I also happen to use the bridged network functionality, because it's simple and convenient, and seems to work reliably well, with wired and Wireless adapters and whatnot. For many years, there was no trouble, and suddenly, there is. Bridged networking stopped networking for me on Linux hosts running VirtualBox 6.X. Geddit? Network not-work. Ho ho. Follow me.

Read more ...

Updated: August 24, 2020 | Category: Internet

Youtube comments, cookies

Most people use Youtube. Even I, a dinosaur certified, do. And most of the time, the experience is reasonable, especially on the desktop, where adblocking prevents stupidity from assailing my senses. But now and then, Youtube suffers from a glitch or three, and the viewing ritual is interrupted.

I occasioned across several such glitches in Youtube all of a sudden, both in Firefox and Chrome. Annoyingly, there were different issues, and I found myself ping-ponging from one browser to another, trying to get the problems worked around or fixed, only to get surprised by a fresh new annoyance. So this little article will focus on several supposedly common and silly bugs that I encountered, and what I did to get back to a hassle-free watchdom.

Read more ...

Updated: August 21, 2020 | Category: Multimedia

Libreoffice 7.0 review

Welcome to Arcane Weekly! In today's corner on Linux problems what bother me, I want to talk to you about a rather curious usecase. So, you have a Plasma desktop environment, and you're using the Dolphin file manager. You use it to access Windows share via Samba. Then, you want to play an odd video clip, stored on the said Samba shares, and you open it in VLC. Sometimes this works, and sometimes, it doesn't.

I've encountered this problem in recent months - and it does not seem to be restricted to any particular version of Plasma, although I've seen this primarily in later editions - like Plasma 5.17 and Plasma 5.18. Things have improved a fair deal, especially the whole local caching business, but the intermittent playback issues still persist. You try to play the file, and then simply nothing happens. But on other occasions, this works just fine. Let's debug.

Read more ...

Updated: August 19, 2020 | Category: Office

Libreoffice 7.0 review

Over the last few years, I've done a fair share of Libreoffice reviews, focusing on different usability angles. First, there's the program itself and what it does, then whether it's suitable for everyday office use in the Office-heavy reality, and largely because of the previous point, the million-dollar question of when and if and how LibreOffice could actually become a viable, realistic substitute for (Microsoft) Office. My findings from the past dozen summers say no.

I feel there's been a steady slowdown in open-source enthusiasm in general - this of course affects LibreOffice, too. Across this entire space, we haven't made any significant progress since 2014-ish or so. But every time a new version of LibreOffice comes out, I rush to test it, to see if this is going to be THE version that weans me off Office. I think I represent the bulk of Windows users, who are dependent on the platform for office and gaming, all other considerations notwithstanding. With LibreOffice 7.0 out, we need see what gives.

Read more ...

Updated: August 17, 2020 | Category: Linux

RPI4 & Ubuntu MATE tweaks

All right. So I got myself a Raspberry Pi 4 and decided to try to turn into a proper mini desktop. This meant using an operating system with a full desktop environment. My choice for this experiment was Ubuntu MATE, which I installed and configured. The overall setup wasn't trivial, so I decided to dedicate a number of articles to showing you what you need to do to get the perfect desktop-like experience.

Most importantly, I've shown you how to enable video acceleration, how to setup audio, and now, I'm going to talk about various other changes and tweaks. We'll focus primarily on the desktop side of things, but there will be also be some pure Raspberry Pi elements. Let us begin then.

Read more ...

Updated: August 14, 2020 | Category: Internet

How to re-use old profile in Firefox

If there's one thing that has value when it comes to browsing - it's the user's browser profile. Over time, we accumulate a lot of data, be it extensions, bookmarks, UI customization, and whatnot. And then, occasionally, you may buy a new computer, or set up a new operating system, and you want to port an existing Firefox profile over, so you don't lose years worth of browsing habits and information.

You can do this via Firefox sync - but a method that has existed and work reliably before any online stuff is the simple copy & paste. Just chuck the old Firefox profile into the Firefox directory, and Bob's your uncle. Well, not anymore, it seemeth. Recently, I've encountered a problem, which made it impossible to reuse an old profile. I'd get a window that reads: "You've launched an older version of Firefox ... Using an older version of Firefox can corrupt bookmarks and browsing ..." This is nonsense, so we need to fix it.

Read more ...

Updated: August 12, 2020 | Category: Linux

Ulauncher review

Application launchers are an interesting phenomenon. They are both an amazing piece of software and also something that most people won't ever really need - or understand. They sit in the twilight zone between the Internet and your system menu. Which is what makes them so difficult to design and implement correctly.

The best example of a successful tool of this nature is Krunner. It's integrated into the Plasma desktop, and it works well. Practical, versatile, extensible, full of goodies. But then, when I try to think of other candidates, my brain doesn't really throw any easy answers. Various Linux desktop did and do attempt to offer smart menus, but none of them really have that almost-AI super-tool. This led me on a pilgrimage, and what I found is a program called Ulauncher. Stop, testing time.

Read more ...

Updated: August 10, 2020 | Category: Games reviews

Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition review

I'm a great fan of the AoE/AoM series of games. Many an hour of my life has been spent in delightful medieval castle building, resource harvesting and battles galore even since the game was release some 20 years back. When the remastered HD version came out a few years ago, I rushed to try and play it, and it was as if no time had passed. Wunderbarness all over.

Now, there's a new version of the game, called the Definitive Edition! It comes with some additional nations, new campaigns, somewhat revised AI, and most importantly, super-hi-res graphics, intended to bring the old AoE styling into the 2020s. With a low price tag and an enticing promise of a fresh bucket of enjoyment, I set about testing.

Read more ...

Updated: July 29, 2020 | Category: Windows

Windows 10 Build 2004 review

There comes a moment in a person's life when efficiency outweighs curiosity. At this point, you become a conservative git, and you only care about a small number of things that bring you joy. If your hobby is software, you are in for a ride, coz there be a new build of Windows 10!

Now, I'm using Windows 10 on my production systems - carefully and sparingly updated and thoroughly tamed, so there ain't no interfering with my dire need for efficiency. But I also happen to have a test box running aforementioned Ten (Home), and I've not really touched it in a while. The release of version 2004, the spring build of currentyear, gave me an opportunity to strap on me test boots and commence another review of Windows 10. Let's see what gives.

Read more ...

Updated: July 15, 2020 | Category: Linux

Raspberry Pi OS & Plasma review

While we're busy a-tutorialin' on all manner of topics regarding Raspberry Pi 4 that I got a few weeks back, I decided to expand my initial set of work beyond (mostly) the MATE desktop and see how well other desktop environments handle the heat. Literally and figuratively. Hi hi. Anyway, we have the results from Raspberry Pi OS and Ubuntu MATE, with some notable differences, but overall, you get a fairly consistent and fast experience. Then, I also got me testing the ARM spin of Manjaro KDE, which provided to be neat if under-optimized.

Early on in my Raspberry Pi 4 games, I did load the official operating system with both Xfce and Plasma, just to see what gives. I told you that Plasma was sluggish, and kind of left it there. But encouraged by the Manjaro test, I revisited this effort. After all, Plasma is super nice, so if it runs well, well ... Let's see what gives.

Read more ...

Updated: July 13, 2020 | Category: Linux

Linux Mint 20 Ulyana Cinnamon review

Testing two editions of the same distro one after another can be perilous - like reading a book series, you might get tired. But then, the experience is fresh, and you can really see how seemingly identical products behave, and compare their good and bad bits. Ideally, there would be no need for so many desktop environments, or distros, but hey, Linux is all about evolutionary anarchy without any higher strategic goal.

So far, Mint 20 Xfce gave us okay-ish results. Decent but not wonderful. Will I deploy it in my production setup? Nope. Is it better than say Xubuntu Focal or MX Linux 19? Not really. Am I a happy Linux user? Not for a long time now. Is my hope gone? Pretty much. Is there a point to this review? Yes. That's called optimism, when you expect nice results despite counterindicative evidence. Lenovo G50 laptop, Mint 20 Cinnamon, here we go.

Read more ...

Updated: July 11, 2020 | Category: Linux

Edit theme, black fonts

Most Linux distributions have this or that problem with fonts. Either they use bad fonts, suboptimal anti-aliasing and hinting, or the font color is wrong, resulting in a low-contrast setup that can cause eye strain. Or all of it. In Ubuntu MATE, the font choice and anti-aliasing are jolly, but the fonts are not 100% black, and this is a problem. With light themes, fonts should be pure black (hex value 000000).

In some desktop environments, changing font color is easy - hint, Plasma. But in MATE, this cannot be done using a UI tool. We will need to edit the system theme, similar to what I've shown you in Gnome 3, and more recently when I tested Linux Mint 20 Ulyana Xfce. In fact, what you learn today is applicable for any Gtk-based desktop, be it MATE, Cinnamon, Gnome, or indeed Xfce. But since I've doing a fair deal of testing and tweaking in the MATE environment lately, in an attempt to use Raspberry Pi 4 as a mini desktop, we will focus on Ubuntu MATE. So let me walk you through the steps required to make the fonts black and thus crisp and clear. After me, fellow nerds and enterprising techies.

Read more ...

Updated: July 10, 2020 | Category: Linux

Linux network connectivity issues

Do you know how you know you have a funny Linux problem? When it takes you more time to think of a suitable title for the article than the actual debugging. Because I encountered a rather bizarre network-related issue, and I spent a while trying to figure out what gives. I did solve it, and I'm sharing it now.

In essence, this is what happened. I found myself testing some new routers. In my KDE neon instance, I connected to the new wireless access point, and tried to browse. Nothing. I tried with a wired cable, and everything was fine. Then, I booted into a different Linux instance on this eight-boot machine, and the Wireless connectivity was working without any issues. Both systems were Ubuntu based, both using the 18.04 baseline. Well, time to figure out why my wireless was not behaving in neon.

Read more ...

Updated: July 8, 2020 | Category: Linux

Linux Mint 20 Ulyana Xfce review

It's been quite a while since I last reviewed a Mint Xfce edition. Since, I've mostly focused on the stock Cinnamon experience, with less than ideal results, I must say. But then, the slump isn't distro-specific, this is an ailment of the desktop world. Well, I figured, now that there's a new Linux Mint version available, I might as well start with a non-Cinnamon review. Then, we'll have a second article focusing on the flagship edition, so to speak, and we can compare the two, side by side.

Overall, my expectations are mid-high. The last couple of years of Linux distro testing have not been happy for me, and the last few months even less so. But then, every time, I hope I'll feel some of that naive joy I used to have when exploring distros and discovering amazeballs stuff. Anyway, let's commence. My G50 box with its eight-boot setup. Begin.

Read more ...

Updated: July 6, 2020 | Category: Games reviews

ArmA 3 & Malden 2035 map

No one would have believed, at the turn of the 21st century, that a small, obscure Czech game developer would create a good first person shooter. Because that's not what happened. They didn't create a good first person shooter. They created THE BEST first person shooter, the finest milsim in the history of computing and possibly the entire universe: Operation Flashpoint. In a world of arcade, Bohemia Interactive's title stood out as a beacon of hope for hardcore, uncompromising fun and realism. Even now, just saying Malden invokes a gush of deep nostalgia.

Fast forward two decades, ArmA 3 is the spiritual and material successor to Operation Flashpoint. And it doesn't forget its roots. The theme music is an orchestra piece laid over the original theme song, the gritty realism is ever present, and the community is working hard on re-creating the maps and scenarios from the older titles in the franchise. But then, nothing is sweeter than an official nod to the good ole times, and it comes in the form of Malden 2035, a future-reimagined map from Operation Flashpoint cast into the ArmA 3 universe. Naturally, it's time to go a-explorin', and what better way to do so than an intense, nerve-racking Dynamic Recon Ops (DRO) mission. Of course.

Read more ...

Updated: July 4, 2020 | Category: Linux

RPI4 & Manjaro Plasma 20.04

As you know, I've embarked on a peaceful crusade of trying to establish whether Raspberry Pi 4 can be used as an ordinary mini desktop. So far, I've shown you the first steps in my effort. I bought the hardware and I tested Ubuntu MATE and Raspberry Pi OS (formerly Raspbian) also running MATE, with a fair deal of tweaking and modifications.

Then, I got a bunch of emails, and people suggested I try the Manjaro Plasma 20.04 image built for ARM. And I thought, well, that sounds like a cool idea. My early exploration with the KDE desktop available in the Raspberry Pi OS repos wasn't encouraging. The performance was meh, and the visuals were so-so. But maybe a purpose-built Manjaro will be the dream system I need. Let's see.

Read more ...

Updated: July 3, 2020 | Category: Linux

RPI4, Ubuntu MATE & audio config

A few weeks ago, I got meself a 4GB Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, and set about a-tweakin' the living daylights out of it. I tried two operating systems - the official Raspberry Pi OS and Ubuntu MATE, and spent quite some time polishing both. Now, Ubuntu MATE has official, well-sorted images available for the older Pi models, but not just yet for the lasted board. This meant a fair deal of manual changes.

So far, I've shown you how to get rid of black bars and funny screen resolution, how to get HW acceleration, and now we will talk about audio setup - so you can have nice sound either via HDMI or 3.5mm headphones or external speakers. Like the other tutorials, the tweaks we need to introduce are based on how you'd normally do that using raspi-config, plus some extras. After me.

Read more ...

Updated: July 1, 2020 | Category: Games reviews, Old games

Panzer General review

Roughly 25 years ago, I remember playing Panzer General for the first time. The game's hexagonal-map, turn-based, inventory-and-strategy style grabbed me instantly, and became one of the enduring classics on my proverbial digital shelf of good ole antiquities. A few days ago, I fired up DOSBox and had another go at Panzer General. Not sure what prompted me to play it again, perhaps inspiration following a recent bout of reading military history books on Stalingrad and Berlin, or perhaps a big-boy-toy warehouse management OCD itch that lurks in every grown man. Or just the fact it's a darn good game, and it's time to play it, enjoy it, review it.

It may sound unusual talking about a 1994 game title - but hey, classics be classics. I did mention it in one of my DOSBox compilations on old game revival, but now I want to give it a proper, in-depth review, even if most of you won't be able to play it, or even find it. Besides, it's a trip down the memory lane. I don't remember the full journey, but I did preserve the game and its save files carefully over the years, from floppy (maybe) to CD to DVD to a folder on a disk, which could be mounted and summoned at will. My original game saves are there, most of them, the earliest dating back to 2000, and the newest to 2007. So not only do I get to have fresh fun, I also have a glimpse of my own military cunning two decades removed. Well, let's blitz.

Read more ...