Updated: February 23, 2024 | Category: Linux, Other software

Maxwell Studio materials not found for SketchUp exported models

This tutorial may sound a bit complicated. Perhaps unnecessary. But here it is. You create a model in SketchUp, which you intend to export to Maxwell Render. You apply various materials onto your model, using the palette available in Maxwell Materials Editor. You export your model. You open it in Maxwell Studio in Windows, and everything seems fine. But then, you open the same model in the same program in Linux, and you get an error.

I've been testing Maxwell Render in Linux, and part of that adventure, I wanted to see how flexible my configuration is. Namely, can I move between the Windows machine (with SketchUp running natively), a WINE setup (with SketchUp installed in Linux), and a native Linux setup, since Maxwell is available for that platform, too. By and large, I encountered no major issues when it comes to renders, however, the materials usage did create a wee snag. I opened the MXS file, and Maxwell told me it could not find the materials. All right, let's resolve this.

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Updated: February 21, 2024 | Category: Linux games

Games crash when taking screenshots under Steam Proton

I just realized I promised a great deal with this title. A fix to a seemingly generic problem. You may come away disappointed. But let's see. Okay, so as you know I'm migrating away from Windows. It's a multi-year journey, and the bulk of it focuses around games.

So far, the adventure has been going great. Better than expected. Excellent results all around, including phenomenal game support compatibility using the Proton layer. With Steam, I have more or less been able to play every single title I've thrown at it, seamlessly. With tiny exceptions, of course. Recently, I encountered an issue playing Ultimate Epic Battle Simulator (UEBS) 2. Namely, if I try to take a game screenshot, with F12, it simply crashes. Let's explore.

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Updated: February 19, 2024 | Category: Cars

BMW 118d Sport Line review

My personal take on cars: outside of the hyper league, BMW has the finest driving vehicles out there. Strap yourself into one, and you will enjoy precision, finesse and fun like nothing else. Over the years, I've had a chance to sample many a BMW, and they were all pretty great. The 330d, superb. The M4, oh my. What about the X3 perhaps? Well, either xDrive20d or xDrive30d did the job with phenomenal results.

Now, I had a chance to revisit the experience with the smallest of the entire range, a 1-series hatchback, powered by a 2.0-liter diesel, rated at 150 HP, and mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Does the lil' one have all the right ingredients to live up to the BMW magic formula? 'Tis time for another tarmac adventure. Join for me, folks.

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Updated: February 16, 2024 | Category: Linux

WINE services enable & disable

You can run Windows software in Linux. There are many ways to achieve this method. Without virtualization, your "simplest" solution is to use WINE, a compatibility layer that mimics the Windows filesystem structure and API calls, allowing you to run programs as if doing it natively. Sometimes, this works perfectly, sometimes it doesn't. But WINE is at the heart of many amazing projects and ideas, including Steam Proton. I've been tinkering with this software for years now, with ever-growing rate of success.

Today, I'd like to show you how you can enable/disable services for programs that come with them, and want to run them. In Windows, if you wanted to control a service, you'd launch the Services.msc applet, and then make changes there. But what about WINE? Say a program comes with a self-update service, which you want or don't want to run. How would you manage it under Linux? Let's proceed.

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Updated: February 14, 2024 | Category: Hardware, Linux

Slimbook Titan report 2

About a year back, I purchased a gaming laptop from a small Spanish Linux-friendly vendor called Slimbook. Not my first gig with them, they sell awesome stuff. The big difference with the Titan purchase was, I wanted a powerful machine, with a dedicated graphics card (well, a hybrid setup really), so I could begin practicing moving away from Windows for good. This is a big project of mine, ongoing, with solid results. There.

But the early results with the Titan laptop were not good. The installation was flaky, I wasn't and still am not happy with the keyboard ergonomics, and with some of the issues I encountered in the first few months of use, as I've outlined in my first report, I felt I may have splurged a great deal of hard-earned money for a dud, or at the very least, a machine that's not worth its bang for buck. But persist we must, and these periodic long-term usage reports are exactly what I had in mind. An honest, no-nonsense tale of what it means to try to use Linux for everyday productivity, and not just boring, nerdy dev stuff. Let's proceed.

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Updated: February 12, 2024 | Category: Virtualization

VirtualBox & add raw device tutorial

In VirtualBox, when you create a new virtual machine, usually, you have "two" options for starting the guest operating system. You can boot from an ISO image (which would be the equivalent of a CD/DVD drive), or you can boot from a virtual hard disk. But what if you actually have an operating system on a USB drive, and you wanted to use that as your start media?

There are many reasons why you might want to do this. For instance, the operating system may not be available in a simple, friendly format like ISO. Or you might not even have the source ISO, only the final artifact, the partition table and data on an external drive. In today's tutorial, I will show you how you can boot from an existing (bootable) USB drive, and run whatever operating system resides there. We will use Linux as our platform of choice. Follow me.

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Updated: February 9, 2024 | Category: Linux, Other software

SketchUp Make 2017 & blank menus

Today, I have an awesome, awesome topic for you. First, let me briefly give you the context for this article. I'm migrating my productivity setup from Windows to Linux. It's a long and complex journey, which I aim to complete before Windows goes EOL in late 2025. I want to be able run everything, and that means programs and games, in Linux. No exceptions really. That level of freedom will make me happy, and preclude the necessity to use the pointless Windows 11 or such.

The journey is going well. Really well. Games? Splendid! Various programs? Pretty great. But I did encounter some issues. Cardinally, in SketchUp Make 2017, certain menus and plugins do not fully show and render correctly. They show up as blank pages. This problem bugged me for months! Not anymore. With the latest release of WINE, I was able to resolve the problem of empty and blank dialogs. I've already mentioned this in my WINE 9.0 review, but it does not hurt to have a proper, separate tutorial that covers everything.

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Updated: February 7, 2024 | Category: Internet

Thunderbird & email program association error

Greetings readers! Roughly 2.5 years ago, I wrote an article with the exact same title as above. It was a short guide on how to solve a rather annoying and cryptic error in the Thunderbird mail client: that there is no email program associated to perform the requested action. 'Twas an error that suddenly happened with the 91.x upgrade. In that article, I showed you several methods on how to fix this annoying little issue, so you wouldn't need to click and dismiss a harmless yet pointless popup on every Thunderbird launch.

Well, since, I received a handful of emails from my readers, and they all had new, different suggestions. They all revolve around the same basic concept - support for certain protocols. Well, in this article, I'd like to present another possible solution. Take a look, and if you're plagued by this wee annoyance, perhaps the new method outlined here may help. Provided the other ones didn't, of course.

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Updated: February 5, 2024 | Category: Virtualization

VirtualBox kernel driver not installed error

The problem you're facing is as follows: You use a Debian-based system, probably Ubuntu or one of its flavors. You have recently ran a system-wide update, which also includes a new version of VirtualBox. You use the upstream VirtualBox repository. After applying the update, you can no longer run virtual machines.

You get the following error: Kernel driver not installed (rc=-1908) . The VirtualBox Linux kernel driver is either not loaded or not set up correctly. Please try setting it up again by executing '/sbin/vboxconfig' as root. And there you have it. Now let's go into details, and fix this problem, shall we.

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Updated: February 2, 2024 | Category: Linux games

Steam Proton, Workers & Resources: Soviet Republic

Comrades! Put your sickles down. It is time for another article in my long series on moving away from Windows. The strategic objective is for me to stop using the Windows operating system. The timeline should ideally coincide, at the latest, with the demise of Windows 10, in 2025 (not that the system stop being useful for many more months and even years after that). But to get there, one must achieve functional parity between Windows and Linux.

So far, my journey has been going great. In fact, better than expected. Especially on the gaming front. I've been able to install and run pretty much any game I own and love and play and which keeps me locked in the Windows ecosystem. I've tried all sorts: Wreckfest, ArmA 3, Command & Conquer: Red Alert, Age of Empire II: Definitive Edition, GTA: Vice City, and then some. It's all there in my report, yup, and you can also peruse the gaming section. And now, I'm gonna try another gem, the ultra-hard, ultra-fun industry builder game called Workers & Resources: Soviet Republic.

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Updated: January 31, 2024 | Category: Linux

WINE 9.0 review

Over the years, I spent a lot of time and effort in trying to get Windows programs to run in Linux. Lately, this has become my mission - I want to migrate away from the proprietary operating system, as its future looks glum and gimmicky and overly low-IQ for my taste. My primary asset in this journey has been WINE. Unfortunately, over these same many years, I've not had much success with it.

More often than not, the software simply wouldn't install or run. There would be too many errors. Game support was flaky, even with tools that use WINE as their backend, like PlayOnLinux. But in the past year or two, things have changed. Significantly improved. I was able to run a ton of stuff in Linux, quite successfully. And with the Steam Proton compatibility layer, which also uses WINE in the background, I got to run pretty much every single game I own, almost without any issues. Now, the latest version of WINE is out, and it promises even better results. Let's check.

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Updated: January 29, 2024 | Category: Hardware

Samsung A54 report 2

It's been a couple of moons now that I've been in possession of a Samsung A54 smartphone. I bought the phone because my Nokia X10 has decided to become problematic, i.e., its battery would deplete all too rapidly. Was this a good replacement choice? Well, look at my summary one month in the experience, and the short answer is meh. There are some nice things about the A54, like the security updates and the camera, sort of, but there are also tons of annoyances. Well, pretty much anything to do with the UI and the Samsung software.

But I decided to persist, and see if and how my impression could change over time. Now we're roughly three months into the adventure, and I have some fresh observations. While I've rarely, throughout my entire life, had my first gut feeling about anything radically change, I am always willing to be positively surprised. It's just that positive surprises are in short supply. All right, enough pre-ranting, let us begin.

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Updated: January 26, 2024 | Category: Cars

BMW X1 sDrive 18d review

Do you feel like there's been a shortage of small SUV reviews on Dedoimedo? Worry not, I've got you covered. I had a chance to drive yet another funky crossover, this one with the BMW badge. X1 sDrive 18d, to be more precise, powered by a 2.0 turbodiesel, which gives you 150 horses, 320 Newtons, front-wheel drive, and 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission. Sounds interesting, so we need to test.

Now, now, don't get confused we're talking about the previous model. The outgoing one. A car that can now only be bought from the second-hand market. But that does not make it any less relevant or intriguing. Quite the opposite. So, this review will be, sort of, a snapshot of the past, but a worthy exercise nonetheless. Continue, we shall.

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Updated: January 24, 2024 | Category: Other software

Maxwell Render, SketchUp tutorial

A few day ago, I wrote an article on how to install and configure Maxwell Render in Linux, both the native version and the SketchUp plugin using SketchUp Make 2017 via WINE. Furthermore, I showed you a few other tricks, like desktop HD/UHD scaling and similar. Overall, 'twas a good, fruitful experience.

What I didn't really discuss is how to make Maxwell Render cooperate in the most effective way with your hardware. In particular, if you happen to have a system with hybrid graphics, i.e., an integrated card and a discrete card, you may want to offload the more GPU-intense tasks like rendering to the more powerful unit but keep the simple, desktop stuff in the hands of the less hungry integrated card. I had a chance to look at this "problem" in more detail recently, and decided to write a mini guide that should help you optimize your setup. So there ain't any surprises or disappointments, we're talking about AMD/Intel integrated graphics and Nvidia discrete card. Commence to start.

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Updated: January 22, 2024 | Category: Linux, Other software

Maxwell Render, SketchUp tutorial

I like to do 3D. Draw, render, you name it. My favorite combo pair of programs is SketchUp Make 2017 and Kerkythea Echo Boost. Both these are older applications, but hey, they work great, and best of all, they work superbly in Linux. Very important, if you're planning a migration away from Windows, like I am. It's an adventure I started some time ago, and it's going brilliantly, faster and more smoothly than expected.

Today, I want to share another Linux setup & compatibility article with you. Namely, how to configure Maxwell Render in Linux. Now, on its own, this is no biggie. Maxwell has a native build for Linux. But, the SketchUp plugin is not designed for Linux. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how far we get. On top of that, I will discuss HD/UHD scaling in the Plasma desktop, CPU/GPU acceleration for rendering, and then some. Let's begin.

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Updated: January 19, 2024 | Category: Linux games

Logitech G27 & Linux, Steam, Proton

In the last year, even since I got myself the Slimbook Titan laptop, I wrote about a dozen games-related articles, showing how to install, configure and run various technically Windows-only game titles using the Steam Proton compatibility layer. The results are surprisingly good. In fact, my 2023 report has only success after success in it. A huge, happy milestone.

Recently, only a few weeks ago, I also published a guide on how to get the soft-physics car simulator BeamNG.drive to run in Linux using, you guessed it, Steam and Proton. Once again, it worked really well. But I only tested in-game driving using the keyboard and mouse. I promised I would test playability with a steering wheel set, so here we are. Not only will I attempt to drive with my wheel-and-pedals Logitech G27 unit, I will do that for a Proton title, too. Let's see what gives.

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Updated: January 16, 2024 | Category: Other software

LuxCoreRender review

Over the past almost two decades, I've done a great deal of 3D design. After some trial and error, I ended up using SketchUp for actual drawing and Kerkythea for rendering. Both of these programs are primarily intended for Windows, not Linux. That said, I got both of them running really well in Linux - part of my migration away from the proprietary operating system. So far so good. But we can perhaps do better?

The one obvious limitation of Kerkythea is that it only does CPU-based rendering. No GPU. Effectively, this means if you have a beefy graphics card, it just sits idle there. But in practice, it could be used to render your models a good order of magnitude faster, perhaps even more, than using your o'dinary processor. This intrigue sent me on a search for a new, modern and Linux-native rendering tool - with the necessary SketchUp export plugin, of course. I found LuxCoreRender, and this is my early review and impression of that experiment.

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Updated: January 12, 2024 | Category: 3D art

Oil rig & Bond villain 3D design

When I published my last 3D design roughly a year back, I felt something was missing. I tried to convince myself that it was complete, but deep down, I knew I had to come back and revisit it. Looking at it from various angles, again and again, I realized what bothered me. While realistic, the model did not feel realistic enough. It was missing a lot of small details that one would normally see in a setting like that.

So I set about rectifying my omission. Another 15-20 hours went into hand-drawing various pieces of equipment and additional structures, all of which should add a sense of life and activity into my project. It's time to needlessly brag about that, or at the very least showcase another piece of digital art work. Whether it's any good, you be the judge. Don't like non-tech articles on Dedoimedo? The X button in the right corner is your friend. Now, let's commence.

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Updated: January 9, 2024 | Category: Linux games

Steam Proton & BeamNG.drive

It is time to continue my moving away from Windows saga. Approximately two years ago, I decided that I did not want to partake anymore in the low IQ adfest that seems to be the future of the Windows desktop, and slowly, carefully, systematically, I began my migration to Linux. I got myself a beefy laptop, put Linux on it, and began testing anything and everything, including, primarily, various Windows-only games.

So far, the journey has been going great. Phenomenally so. I am more or less ready, a good two years before the expected Windows 10 EOL - not that it means one must stop using Windows 10 this very second. But I was able to accomplish all of my tests so far, and quite successfully, too. The biggest positive surprise? The gaming experience. This one is going waaaaay better than expected. With the magic of Steam Proton, I've been able to play pretty much all and any game I tried. But there are still a handful of titles I must try, including a number of crucial racing and driving simulators. All right, on today's menu, BeamNG.drive, a soft physics vehicle simulation game. Let us begin, then.

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Updated: January 5, 2024 | Category: Hardware

Samsung A54 report 1

It's been a few weeks since I got meself one Samsung A54 mobile phone. The reason I chose it over many other options is the combo of solid price, hardware, camera included, and long-term support. Was this decision a compromise of some sort? Indeed. It's almost impossible for me to find an Android device that ticks all of my boxes. But when it comes to my finicky needs, this lil' Samsung asymptoted as much as possible.

If you read the fairly long and detailed review above, you'll notice I wasn't too happy with the phone. The data migration was partial, the app permissions are overly lax, the Samsung app bundle is average, and I had to spend a lot of time cleaning, pruning, disabling, uninstalling, removing stuff. Even after a whole week, I hadn't truly and fully finished with the phone. This made me annoyed. But I let it be. Well, let's see how and if my impression has changed since the early moments after purchase. Let's begin.

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Updated: January 2, 2024 | Category: Internet

Thunderbird & message filters do not work

One of the neat features of Thunderbird, the excellent free, open-source mail client, is the ability to create filters. You can define all sorts of rules by which your email will be managed - tag, star, forward, set priority, move to a different folder, and then some. To work, the rules usually process certain conditions, like the sender or recipient name or address, specific keyword, and similar. Great, except, it doesn't work. Anymore, that is.

As I frequently test various programs, Thunderbird often comes up in my test set, and lately, I noticed the mail client does not seem to apply my message filters. At all. I cannot say when the problem started, but it's been present for at least several weeks. Namely, existing message filters seem to be ignored. They are not processed automatically, and even when you run them manually, nothing happens. Today, we shall rectify this problem. Follow me.

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Updated: December 30, 2023 | Category: Hardware, Linux

Slimbook Executive report 2

It's been some six months since I purchased my new laptop, one Slimbook Executive. I did it as the old laptop has a bulging battery. C'est la vie. A rather turbulent series of events, all of which turned out well in the end. You can read about those in the first article on the Executive, but that's not why we're here. Today, I want to share more details on my sustained, everyday use of this machine. After all, the initial report is useful, but long-term usage is the true test for any hardware device.

I did that with the Pro2, the previous productivity laptop, and for five years, I shared my escapades with the device, the ups and down, the good and the bad, on all fronts. And ... I will keep doing it, as the Pro2 is back in action, after I replaced the battery pack. Now, with the Executive, I intend to do the same long, rigorous series of tests and reports. We already had one report, and now, let's look at a fresh slew of findings. After me.

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Updated: December 27, 2023 | Category: Cars

Skoda Karoq 1.5 TSI review

The small-medium SUV category is, in the words of Zoolander's Mugatu, so hot right now. Once upon a time, people loved hatchbacks, and then, due to whatever popular pressure, they traded these up for elevated hatchbacks. This means, look left, look right, there's a crossover waiting to be driven.

I chanced upon one Skoda Karoq recently, the post-facelift edition, powered by a 1.5 TSI engine, with cylinder deactivation, front-wheel drive, six-speed manual transmission, and SE L trim level. With 150 HP and 250 Nm of torque, and a 0-100 km/h figure of 9.7 seconds, it's not the speediest vehicle out there, but it promises a good balance of velocity and entertainment. Well, let's explore.

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Updated: December 23, 2023 | Category: Internet

DuckduckGo browser review

As I've told you countless times before, my mobile browsing combo is Firefox + UBlock Origin (UBO). That seems to be the only truly complete solution that matches my taste and needs. Occasionally, though I go about testing alternative browsers, just to see whether there is anything that could potentially offer similar results. Reasonable choice is not a bad thing.

So far in my search, I only briefly had exposure to Safari + Adblock Plus (ABP), and Firefox Focus, also as an extension for said browser. I don't have enough experience to say more. Then, I did a proper test of the lightweight Firefox Focus browser, and the results were okay, but not stellar. The tracking protection was decent, but the ad blocking was not. This brings me to DuckDuckGo. 'Tis a search engine, and I reviewed it several times in the past. Seems quite alright. And there's also a mobile browser. So let's see if perhaps this one can be a solid option for those not keen on the stupidities of the modern Internet.

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Updated: December 19, 2023 | Category: Media

iPhone & local music via VLC tutorial

Why don't you use the iPhone, people sometimes ask me. Two main problems, I tells them. One, being able to use an adblocker in Safari. Two, being able to copy my local music, my MP3 files onto the iPhone without using the iTunes application. For almost ten years or so, give or take, this has been an outstanding pair of problems for me, especially the latter. Now, I am pleased to say I have solved it. And I'd like to share my story as a tutorial.

Recently, I had a chance to test the iPhone 13 Mini. Turned out to be a pretty solid device. I also discovered that you can use content and adblockers for Safari. For example, Firefox Focus and Adblock Plus (ABP) are both available as Safari extensions. Awesome, check. More importantly, I have finally figured how to copy music onto the phone without using iTunes. Let us proceed.

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Updated: December 16, 2023 | Category: Game reviews

ArmA 3 & Spearhead 1944 DLC

The one and only true First Person Shooter (FPS) game in the world has a name: ArmA 3. Since its inception, Bohemia Interactive's franchise of realistic war simulation has always been focused on modern-era combat and technology. Operation Flashpoint was all about the 1980s Cold War. ArmA 2 covered the modern battle landscape. ArmA 3 takes the conceptual futuristic battlefield and brings it close. The game has never been about the olden days, ergo World War Two.

That didn't stop the gaming community from unleashing mods, left and right, covering pretty much all and any scenario. After all, a great strength of the ArmA 3 engine is that it can be modded so easily, and you can have lots of cool stuff beyond the game defaults. Thus, for instance, the community was able to pretty much recreate the entire Chernarus setting (ArmA 2) for the latest release. And the game just seems to be getting more and more popular. Indeed, more recently, we saw an influx of big, serious DLCs focused on past theaters of war. I've already reviewed some of these here, including S.O.G. Prairie Fire and Global Mobilization. Now, I'd like to talk about the WW2-themed DLC called Spearhead 1944. Band of Brothers. Shaving Private Ryan. Or something. Let us begin.

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Updated: December 14, 2023 | Category: Other software

Lockdown Mode review

For a while now, I've been hearing about this tool. Mostly in regard to high-profile zero-day, zero-click, hands-free, security vulnerabilities in iPhones and subsequent hacking of said devices by nation-state actors. Sounds blockbustery, which piqued my interest. I am usually rather disdainful of mainstream media reporting of tech affairs, but that does not mean there isn't something genuinely cool behind flashy, scary headlines. And so I decided to test the Lockdown Mode.

To be able to that, I needed an iPhone. Bingo! I had a pretty sweet chance to do a somewhat long-ish test of an iPhone 13 Mini, which I reviewed not that far back here on Dedoimedo. The little iPhone turned out to be a fairly good and capable phone, and it exceeded my expectations quite some. More importantly, it runs iOS 16/17, and I was able to give the Lockdown Mode a proper whirl. So let us begin, then.

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Updated: December 12, 2023 | Category: Internet

Demise of digital assistants

I'm not a spiteful person. I hath no pride. But sometimes, I do enjoy a good moment of "I told ya so". After all, when, in the course of your life as a techie at a tech firm, you're occasionally forced to listen to lectures on the future, with words like DevOps and AI/ML thrown into the grinder, by "inspired" managers who just read about the new and cool thing on their Linkedin digest in between important meetings, it's only natural that one would feel vindicated when things out turn out, inevitably, as they should. Case in point, the impractical reality of digital assistants.

In the past year or so, reports and stories have come about un-profitability of digital assistants, and as a result, the culling of teams and technology involved. Once upon a time, Siri and Cortana and Alexa were all the rage, and now, they are sort of not. To me, this outcome was obvious from the start. I just had to wait a few years to be, once again, inevitably, proven right. Let me tell why.

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Updated: December 10, 2023 | Category: Office

Sumatra PDF reader review

When I wrote my article on how Windows 11 is still pointless, a wave of nostalgia hit me. I remembered the time of greater simplicity in the computer world, the age of BartPE and UBCD4WIN, the days of portable apps. Companies used to take pride in creating tools that could run live, standalone, on someone's machine, and be moved about at a whim. So I went rummaging through my catalog of oldies, including PortableApps, and then I remembered I've not really written much about Sumatra PDF, as in ... ever.

Sure, I did mention it here and there, but I've never given it a proper review. After all, we're talking about a super-simple, super-lightweight, free, open-source document viewer, capable of opening PDF, CHM, EPUB, MOBI, FB2, XPS, and even PS files. No Javascript nonsense, no fancy actions. Simple file viewing. All right, let's talk in some more depth.

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Updated: December 7, 2023 | Category: Windows

Desktop.ini file shown in Notepad on every logon

If you need more reasons to dislike Windows 11, let me provide. While testing this useless version of Windows a few weeks back, I noticed that every time I'd log into the desktop session, Notepad would pop open, showing the contents of a desktop.ini file. Why? Who knows. But it is annoying.

Well, it took me a little while to narrow down the source of this issue. Eventually I did find it, removed the offending desktop.ini file, and my logons (logins in Windows parlance) have become pristine ever since. Let me show you what you need to do, should you encounter the same phenomenon. After me.

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Updated: December 4, 2023 | Category: Game reviews

BeamNG.drive stuck pedals problem

I recently encountered a weird issue. I connected my G27 steering wheel & pedals set to a gaming machine, with the intention of playing BeamNG. I configured the controls. Then, all of a sudden, I realized I couldn't drive any car. If I pressed the throttle, the car would rev to the max and never stop revving. If I pressed the brake, the car would engage the brake and never let go. I ended up in a situation where I couldn't even do anything meaningful except burn rubber without moving. Hint: things worked perfectly in the past.

It took me a lot of trial and error and frustration to figure it out. There was nothing online that helped. The official guide was not useful, various forums offered nothing meaningful. Then, I realized that, for some reason, the game treated my throttle+brake as a single entity (despite them being two separate pedals), and from then on, it was a simple question of calibration. Let me explain in more detail.

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Updated: December 2, 2023 | Category: Cars

EV goal by 2035

If you're wondering what I intend to say here, this article is about the relatively new legislation by which the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines (ICE) will be (supposedly) banned in the EU, the UK and some US states by 2035 (before it gets changed, pushed, delayed, or canceled). Now assuming this date is valid, let me continue. And first, by saying that electric cars are ... okay. Neither good nor bad. Cars are cars to most people, except the purists. The manner of propulsion is not really important. What matters is the overall value. Driving experience, handling, comfort, running costs, resale value, and so forth. The way the wheels are spun is irrelevant.

What I do want to write about is my gentle amusement and a certain level of disdain to this proposal. Not because it's morally wrong - clean air and whatnot, fair deal, whatever. I want to talk about it, because it's utterly impractical. Let us ponder then.

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Updated: November 30, 2023 | Category: Windows

Wireless connection shows as wired

Recently, I encountered an odd little problem. On one of my Windows 10 boxen, there be two network adapters, both active and used. The wired connection is used for inter-LAN operations and as a secondary (backup) Internet connection. The Wireless one is the primary gateway to the Webs. I configured the traffic priority by manually changing the adapter metric for each of the cards.

The setup works fine, and if both are connected, you will see the Wireless icon, and if you disconnect from it, the Wired icon (for the Ethernet adapter) will show up. Then, for testing purposes, I set up a new router, and noticed that the Wireless icon is no longer there, even when connected to the Wireless network. Only the Ethernet icon shows up, for both networks. Troubleshoot we must.

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Updated: November 27, 2023 | Category: Hardware

Samsung A54 review

Now that my Nokia X10 phone is no longer usable, I am in need of a new device. Thus beginneth my journey. This little escapade ends with the purchase of a Samsung A54 device. Spoiler alert! But, let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let me tell you all the details, the context, the background story. As it happens, two years ago I bought a rather cheap phone, one Nokia X10, in order to replace another cheap phone, one Motorola G6, which had died on me. Value for money, long-term ROI, all that, pay attention please.

Two years in, the Nokia X10 is also misbehaving. The volume button and the side button (the one for camera or assistant or whatnot) have fallen out, and the phone battery is draining rapidly. This started after the last system update. Related? Who knows. But if I use the phone a bit, and/or activate its mobile hotspot, the battery will thereafter deplete within hours, no matter what. Makes the phone practically unusable. And so I spent a good week or so searching for a possible replacement, a task that proved immensely difficult, but in the end I achieved great success, verinajs. And by success I mean, I purchased a new phone. Now, whether it's good or not, well read on.

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Updated: November 24, 2023 | Category: Linux

Plasma menu transparency

This is going to be a tricky article, I must warn you in advance. Why? Because it touches on a topic that may or may not be relevant, depending on which version of the Plasma desktop you use. Therefore, read with caution. But let's assume that you want your Plasma menu to be transparent. Fancy effect 'n' all. Sure. How do you do that? Not trivial.

Plasma does many things extremely well, but the concept of theming can be confusing to newbies. You can set the Plasma theme, desktop theme, window borders, decorations, desktop effects, a mind-boggling array of options. There isn't one way to have fun and customization with Plasma. And if you want the system menu to be transparent, for whatever reason, then you might need this guide. Let us elaborate then, shall we.

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Updated: November 20, 2023 | Category: Windows

Rufus review

I like simple tools. Something that does one job, but does it well. Rufus, a for-Windows live/USB media creation utility seems to fall into this category. When you read the official grumpy-flavored FAQ, you get to appreciate its mission even more. The developer actively chooses to keep his program simple, so it can continue doing what it does best - writing ISO images to USB thumb drives, so you can boot and install your operating systems. Noice.

The program comes in installable and portable versions, it's even available for the ARM builds of Windows, and there's a bunch of supported languages, too. Well, I decided to give it a try, see how it works, and there's a little bonus, too, but we will talk about it a bit later. OK, let us commence this review.

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Updated: November 17, 2023 | Category: Greatest sites

Greatest sites, two more entries added

What's that, you want a laptop, a notebook? Check? NotebookCheck! In the age of AI-infused spammology called the Internet, finding reliable resources for yer online purchases is very difficult, a time-consuming process as complex as choosing what to actually buy. Sometimes though, you may chance upon a gem, a hidden treasure in the trove of nonsense. NotebookCheck is a must-go-to site for whenever you're considering a piece of hardware, be it desktop, laptop, storage, headset, or any which modern gadgetry you may fancy.

For most people, computer game setups are a simple point-n-click affair. But if you're more than a casual normie newb, you might want to know where games keep their screenshots or saves, how to edit or add mods, how to port game configuration between computers, or even operating systems, and tons of other arcane, often not-well-documented stuff. PCGamingWiki is a simple-looking site with phenomenal information.

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Updated: November 13, 2023 | Category: Games

Wreckfest, best cars

Back in the 90s, an amazing game came out. It was called Carmageddon, and it was everything a growing boy could want. Speed, destruction, stupid fun. Fast forward to mid 2010s, and you reminisce on the good ole days of the DOS era, and you wish there still was a nice destruction derby game available to play on your PC, sort of a modern version of Carmageddon. Well, there is! It's called Wreckfest, and it's everything a grown boy could want.

The moment I tried the game, albeit belatedly, I was hooked. Since, I've done everything the game allows. Completed all of the careers, reached level 100, racked some 15 million experience points, earned more than one million of unspent credit, gained more than 1.5 million Tournament points, bought all of the available vehicles, and then some. Now, I want to tell you which cars are best to drive in Wreckfest. Follow me.

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Updated: October 28, 2023 | Category: Windows

Windows 11 periodic review

I keep a copy of Windows 11 Home on my IdeaPad 3 test laptop. Not because I like it or want it, but because I am keen to know what Microsoft has in store for the desktop users. I like to test and tinker and rant, and after all, the laptop already came with a Windows license, so I might as well make the best use of it. My impression of this operating system has been less than lukewarm. There's no point to Windows 11. We're not in the 90s where system updates are big and amazing and meaningful. Nah. It's all pretty much the same.

By and large, when I take into account all the different factors, like the not-really-necessary TPM requirement and such, plus the overload of ads and silly features and degraded responsiveness in the UI, for me, it's quite fair to say that 11 is the new Vista. And now, I've had another round of testing done after a long lull, so let's see what happened.

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Updated: October 26, 2023 | Category: Hardware

iPhone 13 Mini review

As you well know, I've never been an iPhone user. For various reasons, I never got sold onto the strict and rigid ideas of Apple's closed ecosystem. I found Android, for all its Wild West tendencies, more palatable to my taste as a tinkering techie. But I still kept a close look on iPhones, and even reviewed several of the devices over the years. Most notably, I tested iPhone 6s back in 2017 and iPhone 11 in 2021. The results were predictable. Not for me. However, my appreciation for the product has increased in the last decade, specifically hardware quality, very long support, and reasonable security.

Just a few days ago, I had a chance to take an iPhone 13 Mini for a long spin. And I thought, hm, this could be interesting. The selling points are many. Top-notch hardware, seven years of software updates and support AFTER the last day of sale (at least, based on historic trends), and an excellent form factor. The Mini, the last of the Minis as it turns out (for now), measures just 4.7 inches diagonally, just like the iPhone 6s from some eight years ago. Since, the devices have become ridiculously big and cumbersome, and it's very nice to see a phone that can still be classified as an actual phone rather than a brick or a tablet or an assault weapon. Anyway, enough talking, let's see what this thing does.

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Updated: October 24, 2023 | Category: Hardware

Nokia X10 long-term usage report

Ah, it's that time of the year again. A smartphone purchase time. Why? Because my current device is showing signs of impending doom. Let me elaborate. In 2021, I got meself a Nokia X10. I deliberately chose a cheaper phone for my secondary needs, like travel, work, testing, stuff like that. And it served me reasonably well until just a few weeks back when it started exhibiting problematic behavior.

The battery would suddenly drain. Usually after either using mobile data for a while or sharing the mobile connection (hotspot). Instead of doing the usual week plus of slow discharge, the battery would drain within several hours. Either the battery is dying, or the hardware has gone faulty, and there's over-consumption by this or that part, like say the mobile antenna transmitting at peak power nonstop. Whatever the cause, the phone needs replacement. But before we do that, I wanna summarize the last two years. Let's.

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Updated: October 21, 2023 | Category: Internet

Mobile Internet

Sometimes, I feel like I have too much time on my hands. Now and then, I take on an adventure that seems to bring mostly frustration, and no great practical value. Recently, I did just that. I decided to see how "good" the mobile Internet really is. After all, there are four transport media one can utilize the Web with - cable, phone, satellite, and mobile (radio). For most people in urban settings, the first two are the go-to options. In rural areas, sometimes, satellite and mobile are the only available options.

However, recently, more and more people use their phones as the primary computing device, and often they prance about the net without having a fixed connection at home. In other words, there be no physical cables going underground and into their living space, it's all done over-the-air. Put a SIM card into a device, get a radio signal to the cell tower, boom, Bob's your uncle. The question is, how viable is this for any sort of serious network usage? Well, Dedo the great sufferer decided to undergo several months of hard testing to answer that.

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Updated: October 18, 2023 | Category: Internet

Firefox Focus

I came across Firefox Focus purely by accident. I was trying to figure out if there was a simple way to block ads in Safari. Why Safari? Well, that's a story for another time (stay tuned). Now, in the App Store, under Safari extensions, I saw an entry called Firefox Focus. Me frowned. From what I know, on iOS devices, Firefox and friends are just skins for the WebKit engine, so I couldn't really immediately fathom how this browser cum extension fits into the picture. Eventually, fathom that I did, but more interestingly, this little finding spurred a wee exploration, and then, an entire review. And here we are.

In a nutshell, Firefox Focus is a minimalistic browser for mobile devices, focused [sic] on privacy. On Android, it's a browser in its own right, a lightweight version of Firefox, which I use as my primary browser on any Android phone. On iPhones, it's tracking-blocker for Safari. Here, I decided to experiment primarily with the former, and see how the Focus behaves as a day-to-day Internet portal, and if and how it could potentially work alongside proper Firefox. Or perchance even replace it. Let's explore.

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Updated: October 14, 2023 | Category: Linux games

Steam Proton compatibility report

I must start this article with a quick explanation. Last year, I vowed to move away from Windows for good. I am tired of being part of this giant ad-fed low-IQ business. Therefore, I will need to use Linux 100% of the time, but this ain't an easy task. I'm a gamer. So how good is Linux for games? Well.

Over the past seventeen years of Dedoimedo, I've reviewed hundreds of Linux games, wrote extensively about Steam, Proton, and then some. In my last Proton review, things were kind of meh. But then, I got myself the Titan laptop, and started using Proton in earnest. And title after title, it would handle all of my challenges without any problem. I think I need to share my enthusiasm, and my results with you, so you know that if you're also seeking an "escape" from Windows, and mulling serious gaming on Linux, then that reality is happening, right now. After me.

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Updated: October 9, 2023 | Category: Linux

Baloo exclude filters tutorial

If there's one thing in the Plasma desktop stack that needs work, it's the search functionality. Why? Lemme elaborate. I like to use all of Plasma's wonders - Activities, Vaults, Krunner. And I like to use them efficiently. For instance, I like to create separate desktop activities, and then also store files inside Vaults. For various reasons, including privacy, I like to keep some of these "domains" unindexed in the search. Plasma supports this requirement, quite well. But then, there be bugs.

Plasma's search engine, Baloo, has always been tricky for me. It would work or not work, consume too much CPU, the index would be corrupt, the search results partial or broken. Over the years, I rarely had much luck getting it to work. Now, on the upgraded Slimbook Pro2, with Kubuntu 22.04, it FINALLY works. But it took me a little while to tame it. Specifically, it seemed to ignore my requirement not to return search results for specific file types, and yet, it did. We shall discuss the problem now.

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Updated: October 4, 2023 | Category: Car reviews

Hyundai Tucson N Line

Normally, I try to spend as much time as I can driving a car before I jot down a review. Typically, you need about 800-900 km, and/or at least 8-10 hours inside a vehicle to get a reasonable sense of what it can do, how well it holds the road, how comfortable or sporty it is, and such. Alas, today, I will only be able to regale you with a relatively short article, my impression of a crossover SUV Hyundai Tucson, clad in N Line trim.

I got to drive a FWD petrol version, equipped with a 1.6-liter turbocharged G1.6 T-GDi engine, delivering 180 horses and a rather reasonable if not bombastic 265 Nm of torque, mated to a seven-speed DCT gearbox. The interesting part is the mix of highway driving, urban driving, with snow, ice and sun all thrown into the equation. Well then, without further ado, let us dig in.

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Updated: October 4, 2023 | Category: Site news

Dedoimedo no longer runs ads

No more ads. As of mid-September, Dedoimedo no longer displays any ads. If you recall, a few weeks ago, Google Adsense informed me that it could not find a compliant Consent Management Platform (CMP) on my domain. Which is nonsense, because I've been using one for five solid years now. My choice: use Google's platform or not show any ads in the EEA/UK from January. I decided to go for a third option. Show no ads whatsoever. As a result, I've removed all Google Adsense code from my site.

Furthermore, I've also removed Google Custom Search and ShareThis social media buttons. I still use Google Analytics, but I'm seriously considering getting rid of that code, too. That would make Dedoimedo once again a pure HTML/CSS site, the way I always intended. And as an end user, you win, too! Now, some of you may be wondering: Dedo, how are you going to "monetize" your site then? The answer is simple. I won't. If you do want to support me, buy my books. That's the best way. Other than that, have a fun, fast and privacy-improved experience on Dedoimedo. Bon voyage.

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Updated: September 30, 2023 | Category: Office

LibreOffice adoption

Let me start with a disclaimer. I really like LibreOffice. I use it extensively, and I've written pretty much of all of my books using it, up to the point where I needed to send the materials to my editors, who would only accept DOCX files. Still, I find it useful, valuable and practical, and it does the job reasonably well. But a market leader, it is not. That title is reserved to Microsoft Office, for better or worse.

Every few months, a new version of the LibreOffice suite is released, I test it, and often, I get disappointed and frustrated. Because every new version tells the same story. Average support for the Microsoft Office file formats, ergo uncertain file conversion quality. And so, we go back to square one. Dedoimedo writes his book in LibreOffice, but then must use Microsoft Office for when he wants to talk to the publishers. This needs to change. Step one, LibreOffice should adopt, gasp, the proprietary file formats. Let us elaborate.

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Updated: September 29, 2023 | Category: Hardware, Linux

Slimbook Titan report 1

By now, you ought to know the drill. Dedo gets himself a Linux-powered laptop, Dedo writes reports on his long-term usage, over a period of months, years. We get the first-hour impression, but then, there's the first month, the first year, the fifth year, and whatnot. I've done this with my Slimbook Pro2, a laptop that has served me loyally for five years, until its battery went a-wonk, where I decided to buy a new productivity machine, one Slimbook Executive, and for which I've already started its own series of usage reports.

In the meantime, I got the Pro2 battery replaced, it's back in action, but in between the Pro2 and the Executive, I also got myself an Nvidia-powered hefty, a large and mighty and aptly named Slimbook Titan. Here, the purpose of this purchase is to ascertain when I can ditch Windows for good. A while back, I decided that I don't want to play the silly, low-IQ games that Microsoft is doing with Windows 11 (and will most likely continue forever onwards), and so I decided to try to migrate to Linux only, office usage and games and everything. The Titan is the shepherd on that journey, I've had it for a while, and it is now time to give you the first "combat" report, much as I did with the Pro2. Let's see what the big laptop did in its first three months of Dedoimedian existence. After me.

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Updated: September 24, 2023 | Category: Internet

UBO filter loading on startup

Using the "modern" Internet without an adblocker is an exercise in stupidity, futility and wasted bandwidth. Three decades of computer usage on, I am still waiting for the first ever useful or relevant ad to be shown to me, in some shape or form. Oh, that's right, ads are pointless, and they only work for people whose IQ hovers in that sweet 85-90 range. Hence, using and adblocker is important. The best of all? UBlock Origin, which is also available for Firefox on mobile, what what.

Now, recently, I noticed, mostly in Edge on Linux, and occasionally a few other Chromium-based browsers, that UBO loads with a yellow exclamation mark on its icon. If you expand, it says: Could not filter properly at browser launch. Reload the page to ensure proper filtering. Hm, not good. I mean, the fix is trivial, but the implications are not. If the browser launches and the filtering AKA adblocking & tracker-blocking is not working correctly, then your browser may be leaking information. Let's systematically fix this.

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Updated: September 19, 2023 | Category: Internet

Google Adsense, CMP problem

A few days ago, I received an email from Google Adsense, urging me to take action. What about? Well, the email said I need to implement a Google-certified Consent Management Platform (CMP) to comply with GDPR. More specifically, the email said: "It appears you have not yet adopted a Google-certified CMP to collect consent from your users, which means your site(s) will stop showing AdSense ads and receiving revenue on EEA and UK traffic after January 16, 2024."

This is funny and rather sad because I have been using a CMP since around 2018, when I implemented GDPR-compliant changes to my websites. In fact, if you delete your cookies and such and visit Dedoimedo, you will see a popup on the right side of your screen, asking for your CONSENT to store cookies and such. Not only that, I have been using a CMP by CIVIC, which is on the list of Google-certified CMPs. Full GDPR, CCPA, IAB TCF v2.0 compliance. So it would seem we have a problem.

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Updated: September 16, 2023 | Category: Hardware, Linux

Slimbook Executive report 1

Yo yo yo, here we are. It's now been roughly a month and change since I first got me hands on the lovely and sleek Slimbook Executive, my new productivity laptop running Kubuntu 22.04 LTS. The initial impression has been amazing, on all fronts. But using a machine for a day or two ain't the same as using it for a month or two.

Well, in much the same fashion I did with the previous productivity machine, the Slimbook Pro2, we're gonna have a series of "combat" reports, which document the everyday usage, the niggles, the problems, all the grueling details of a super-long-term hardware & software review. Over roughly five years of non-stop usage, I wrote some fourteen articles about the Pro2, the unexpected but successful battery replacement, and we shall yet continue that saga, as the laptop lives on. Now, let us focus on the Executive and see what it does for us. Begin.

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Updated: September 12, 2023 | Category: Linux games

Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition under Steam Proton

When I first tested Steam Proton some two years back, I was quite disappointed. Back then, I hadn't been able to get AoE to run, neither II nor III. Well, a lot has changed since. As the article title obviously alludes, you can now play this amazing game on your Linux rig, without any problems. Perhaps I should elaborate.

As it happens, I'm a massive fan of the RTS genre. For me, it all started with Warcraft, Command & Conquer, and then, Age of Empires II happened. I've enjoyed the game since its release, more than two decades ago. Several years back, this phenomenal, quintessential title saw revival, with a remastered edition released, followed by a number of expansion packs, and finally culminating in the sweet Definitive Edition, a 4K 60FPS version. Bought them all, played them all. Windows, until very recently. It is time to share the story of me success with getting this fine and ultra-important title to run in Linux. Follow me.

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Updated: September 9, 2023 | Category: Internet

Google Chrome & ad privacy feature

Whenever I hear the words ads and privacy, I chuckle. The almost-fanatical obsession with ads as a business model is something that always baffles my non-Westcoasian brain, and so, whenever products try to make me into a product, I resist. A few days ago, I wrote an article about Microsoft Edge & personalized Web experience, and the stupid "Got it!" button. In that piece, I also wrote how Google will do their thing, without actually asking you, unless compelled by law.

Well, Chrome now has something called Ad Privacy feature. For the past few years, the company has done its best to "nudge" users into participating in their new ad experiments. If I'm not mistaken, there was FLoC, Privacy Sandbox, whatever, and now Topics. Whatever you call these things, it comes down to the same thing. Your browsing activity is profiled, and your monkey activities are monetized. This new feature seems to be more of the same. Let's talk details.

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Updated: August 30, 2023 | Category: Internet

Microsoft Edge & Got it! button

My choice of the primary browser is super easy. Firefox. End of story. Has been and will be. It's the secondary browser story that has been somewhat tumultuous in me Internet history. First, it was Opera, then Chrome, and then Chrome slash Edge, depending on the scenario. For example, in Windows, I don't want to use Edge, on purpose, but in Linux, I've had no problem using it. Quite the opposite, I found it to be rather good and capable. Then, Google occasionally comes out with their wild ideas on what the Internet should be like, and I don't like many of those ideas, so the use of Microsoft Edge is sometimes an attempt to try to counter some of that.

But then, just as one thinks that everything is fine, Microsoft decides to undo the nice user experience they created early on. For example, the whole Discover slash chat sidebar nonsense. Take a browser and turn it into a hyperactive neurotic low-IQ product for the masses. If that's not enough, I recently discovered another big problem. Let me show you.

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Updated: August 17, 2023 | Category: Hardware, Linux

Slimbook Pro2 & battery replacement

Believe or not, but until a few days ago, I have never had a need to open a laptop case. It's not that I'm clueless. I've done all sorts of hardware assembly and part replacements in all manner of devices, including desktops and cars and whatnot. It's just that I never had to really do anything with any laptop before. So far, my gadgets had served me faithfully until the last moment of their usage.

However, about a month ago, my Pro2 battery started inflating, prompting me to power off the machine immediately, and buy myself a new laptop. The end result of that adventure is the glorious Executive, which is now my primary productivity device. However, that leaves the Pro2 unaccounted for. And if you look at its spec, eighth-gen i5, 16 GB of RAM, 500GB SSD, this is more than useful for any practical purpose. It would be silly to abandon a laptop that is only five years old. A good machine ought to last a decade. So I decided to replace the battery, and see if I could make it work again.

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Updated: August 11, 2023 | Category: Internet

Firefox & WebGL jerky playback

If you're using Firefox (as you should), then you also may want to consider Noscript (as you should), for it helps transform the Javascript jungle that is the modern Web into something more pristine and palatable. But, the problem is, Noscript can be a little tricky to configure for normies, and it does take some understanding to utilize effectively. Then, there could be odd bugs. Like the one I will describe right now.

I wanted to play a video in Firefox. One of them streaming services. Find an episode of something you like, watch it. Of course, beforehand, I enabled scripts on the streaming service domain, all of the necessary and required bits and pieces. And the playback started just fine ... except, every 10 seconds or so, there would be this jerky effect, like a couple of frames dropping. Or perhaps networking buffering. Weird. Well, I decided I could not let it be, and started exploring and investigating. Long story short, the pathfinding led me to Noscript. After me, people.

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Updated: August 1, 2023 | Category: Linux, Linux games

Steam, 4K display scaling tutorial

As you well know, I really liked Steam. I also like Linux. I also like to try to use Steam on Linux as much as possible. About two years back, I started my de-Windowsification process, as I realized there's no future in playing the cat-and-idiot game with Windows 11, online account nonsense, ads and such. But to be able to migrate away, Steam must pop pop pop on Linux. Super green, it must be.

The journey is going mega-good, but recently I encountered a wee problem. I got myself a new laptop, one Slimbook Executive, and it has a 3K display - 2880x1800px, stretched over just 14 inches. With 1:1 pixel resolution, anything rendered on the screen is too tiny, Steam UI included. Indeed, Steam does not seem to obey my Kubuntu Plasma 1.75x scaling factor, and no toggle in the Settings menu seems to help. Now, let me show you how you can make Steam actually obey your desktop scaling. This will make the interface bigger and more usable on small-size large-resolution displays. After me.

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Updated: July 20, 2023 | Category: Linux games

Command & Conquer: Red Alert under Steam Proton

Several months ago, I purchased myself a new laptop, a Slimbook Titan, and it runs Kubuntu 22.04 LTS as its only operating system. The main purpose of this machine is to make sure I can switch away from Windows for good. The estimated time for this change is around 2025, when Windows 10 goes EOL. I've had enough with ads, online accounts and all that associated nonsense. So Linux.

But in order for me to Linux full time, Linux must be able to give me what I need. And if you look at the Slimbook Titan adventure, things are going great. In particular, I'm having a lot of fun and success in getting all of my important software and games to run, without any problems. Just recently, I tested GTA: Vice City, ArmA 3, and Wreckfest. Excellent results. Now, I'm going to talk about Command & Conquer. Acknowledged.

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Updated: July 10, 2023 | Category: Hardware, Linux

Slimbook Executive

Ladies and gentlemen, the Executive has arrived! My new productivity machine is here, having been shipped by Slimbook roughly a week back. The whole process was quite, smooth, hassle-free. Nice. But for those of you tuning late into the Dedoimedo show, the answer is: my Slimbook Pro2 battery decided to inflate, which forced me to turn the laptop off until I could attempt a battery replacement. But since I needed a laptop for work and everyday productivity stuff, I had to buy some new hardware.

Being rather pleased with the Slimbook range of machines, which have served me quite well these past five years, I decided to go for yet another device from this family. ProX and Executive were my top choices, and in the end, the Executive prevailed, as it had somewhat beefier, more posh specifications. Well, dally let us not anymore, commence to test, we begin. After me.

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Updated: June 27, 2023 | Category: Hardware, Linux

Slimbook Executive

A couple of days ago, I was merrily typing on my Slimbook Pro2, when I suddenly discovered that the laptop be a-rockin'. For some reason, the typing surface wasn't flat. One of the laptop's corner was perching ever so slightly in the air, and my typing would cause the case to wobble. So I thought, ha, this desk ain't the best.

But then, I noticed that the case was actually warped. The entire left side was thicker than the right side, and the abnormality was slowly, but steadily growing. I figured that my laptop's battery was bulging! As I've already told you in my recent Slimbook & Kubuntu 22.04 upgrade article, I was worried the battery may cause problems down the road. It did, and much sooner than I expected, and in a more destructive way than I'd have liked. As one does with devices with Lithium-ion batteries, I let it drain and powered the machine off. And then went searching for a replacement.

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Updated: May 27, 2023 | Category: Life wisdom

Modernnity & return to monke

Let's begin this article with a disclaimer. Y'know, so you can relate. In the past 100 years, advancements in science, medicine and communications have done wonders in improving the quality of life for billions of people around the planet. Things like antibiotics, DNA sequencing, the Internet, and intercontinental flight are just some of the many examples of the great advancement we made as a species in the past century.

However, not every forward movement is progress. There comes a moment, in many aspects of life, many domains of technology, when less becomes more, when enough is enough. And what I mean by that is as follows: there are many things in the tech space, all around us, which make no sense. They are hailed as modern, but they represent functional, philosophical regressions, the opposite of where tech and science have taken us. And we must talk about them. Of course, this ain't the first article of this kind I've written. But. Kick back and enjoy.

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Updated: May 10, 2023 | Category: Linux

MX Snapshot

MX Linux is a small, Debian-based distro. It comes in Xfce and KDE flavors. It's pretty decent, but there are problems here and there, typical for projects with limited resources and manpower. That said, I've always liked the distro, the approach, and the effort invested in making their operating system nice and practical.

There's one aspect of the system that stands out, and that's the bundle called MX Tools. This fantastic toolbox offers the end user a whole range of features with simple step-by-step wizards, things which are typically done through the command line, in a nerdy way. Today, I want to shed light on MX Snapshot, a utility that lets you create bootable (live) images of your entire system. Backup and imaging rolled into one. Let's.

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Updated: April 28, 2023 | Category: Linux

Fedora 37 Workstation quick review

I know, I know, I know I'm late to the party, and that Fedora 38 will have been, by the time you read this article, officially released (yup). That said, having recently tested MX Linux 21.3 Wildflower, I felt a tiny surge of curiosity vis-a-vis Linux distro testing, and I decided to extend it a little bit, and include Fedora in this effort.

Now, you know how I feel regarding the Gnome desktop. That ain't new, nor will it change dramatically, nor should you expect any major, revolutionary findings on my behalf here today. But one cannot deny the value and importance of Fedora in the Linux world, whatever its usecase or message may be. Still, as an end user, I want to see what it can do, and ... can it do what I expect it to do? Let us proceed.

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Updated: April 26, 2023 | Category: Hardware, Linux

Slimbook Pro2 upgrade

As of this article, my Slimbook Pro2 laptop is 4.5 years old. It's the first Linux-only device I tried using for serious productivity, all the time. I had done similar efforts in the past with the eeePC network and the dual-booting Vivobook, but they had never been used so extensively as the Pro2. I've already shared a great deal of news and updates about this adventure, in the form of no less than fourteen different so-called combat reports, covering everything, hardware, software, application niggles, games, etc. The latest of this article is dated about a year back.

Today will be the fifteenth installment, but it's a bit different, if you will. I am going to upgrade the resident Kubuntu 18.04 to Kubuntu 22.04, and see that my system retains all of its goodies. Plus I'm going to share some fresh news on how well the laptop has been doing since the last report. You may be interested in reading about my Slimbook Titan adventure, too - another Slimbook in me possession, also running Linux only, and also used for serious productivity stuff. But now, let's focus on the Pro2.

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Updated: April 19, 2023 | Category: Hardware, Linux

Slimbook Titan, one month later

By the time you read this article, and/or correlate its publication date with my original Slimbook Titan article, the subsequent HW & install one, or the applications & gaming one, you may be a little confused or overly pedantic when it comes to a simple temporal question: has it really been a month? No matter. Give or take a couple of days, I've now had the Titan in me possession for several weeks, and I've used it quite extensively in this period.

To that end, I'd like to write another mini review, and this would be the first of "combat reports", similar to what I've done with my older Slimbook Pro2 and its long series of such articles. I want to give you my second impression on how the laptop has been behaving, the hardware support and compatibility, the ergonomics, the software side of things, and such. Let's begin.

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Updated: April 17, 2023 | Category: Linux

VLC playback errors in Plasma, Dolphin

Welcome to a fresh article on VLC problems in the Plasma desktop environment. Sounds like a deja vu. Well, because it is. A while back, I wrote an article about intermittent playback errors from Samba shares when using the Plasma desktop and its Dolphin file manager. The workaround to the problem was to increase the prefetch value in VLC's settings, and Bob's your uncle. Now those playback woes are back, but in a slightly different manner.

I encountered the issue on my Slimbook Titan, which runs a fully up-to-date Kubuntu 22.04. The problems manifest thusly. You try to play a file, the progress bar shows yellow left-right progress bar animation, then resets itself. The file never plays. You try again, and sometimes, after a second or a fifth attempt, it works. Then, on top of that, when playing .avi files, there are TWO VLC windows. You only see the second one when you try to close the player, and then under the normal interface, there's this weird old-school X window. Let's fix these.

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Updated: April 13, 2023 | Category: Linux games

ArmA 3 under Steam Proton

The world is divided into three parts. People who play no computer games, people who play arcade shooters, and people who play the one and only true FPS, ArmA 3. I've been enjoying the Bohemia Interactive franchise for more than 20 years, ArmA 3 for the past decade. These endeavors are documented in my gaming section, but perchance you'd like a sampling: my 2017 sitrep, APEX review, and Chernarus Winter DRO scenario review. Now, now.

I am aiming at weaning myself off Windows by 2025. This is when Windows 10 goes EOL, and I'm not in the mood to use Windows 11, fight ads, use an online account, or any of that nonsense. So Linux is vital for this future plan, but more importantly, I need to be able to play all of my sweet games there! Among the more critical titles is ArmA 3, so as soon as I had my new Slimbook Titan laptop configured, I set about testing.

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Updated: April 11, 2023 | Category: Linux games

GTA: Vice City under Steam Proton

GTA: Vice City is one of my favorite games. Evar. But I've been unable to play it since I moved my Windows systems to Windows 10. For some reason, the title simply refuses to run under this operating system. For a few years, I've been left without the ability to cruise around and listen to Emotion 98.3. Now, I can, again.

How? Linux, that's how! Steam, Proton. Amazeballs. I'm a man on a mission. By 2025, I'd like to be able to fully migrate away from Windows. Why? Because I don't want to use Windows 11, it's pointless. This means my Linux game [sic] needs to be strong, and I've embarked on this quest a while back. Most recently, I got meself a rather capable new, gaming-intended laptop, Slimbook Titan, with an Nvidia RTX 3070 card, and I'm deeply invested in getting all of my favorite titles running in Linux (Kubuntu to be more precise). This wee article tells of my success story on this front. After me.

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Updated: April 9, 2023 | Category: Linux

MX Linux 21.3 Wildflower review

I've not done much distro testing lately. For many reasons. One, I felt there was (and still is) not enough progress in the Linux desktop space for me to bother with frequent testing. Two, the results would often be rather disappointing, with regressions and same-old problems bruising my soul. Three, I don't like doing things that have no meaningful outcome.

A while back, I decided to be quite sparing in my distro choices, and thus, I only test the few systems that either have (reasonably) significant impact on the desktop space, or have made me happy in the past, or both. MX Linux falls into the middle category. Not a big distro, not the market mover. A small project, but one that still manages to deliver decent results, despite its size. Last test, MX-21 Wildflower, KDE edition, some eighteen months back. We shall now examine the latest edition. Follow me.

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Updated: April 6, 2023 | Category: Car reviews

Cars & touch interfaces

As you well know, I love cars. I also hate stupidity. The question is, which of the two emotions is stronger? Recently, I started having to face this question while driving more recent models from various manufacturers. I noticed a steady and worrying trend of the "cockpit digitalization", that is more and more stuff being moved away from physical controls into pointless touch interfaces. At first, it was trivial things. But now, it's come down to important things like media and climate control.

This prompted me to write this article. While I normally "only" do car reviews in my car section, that does not mean I have to exclusively limit myself to just this domain. Furthermore, I think this topic is so important that is merits discussion. Well, not really discussion. More sort of disdain. Let us begin.

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Updated: April 4, 2023 | Category: Linux

Slimbook Titan backups

At risk of repeating myself, here's a brief intro to this article. I got meself a new laptop, one Slimbook Titan. Then, I spent some time configuring it, tested software and some games, and now we're here, tweaking and having fun. Thus, I need to make the system robust and resilient, and that means backups.

Of all the things you will ever do on a computer, having a proven, reliable backup strategy is the most important one. Without backups, you're at the mercy of silicon, solder and plastic going bust. My Titan comes with two hard disks, two 1TB NVMe drives to be more precise. The first one is used for the operating system. The second hasn't even been formatted just yet. We will do that now. And then some.

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Updated: April 1, 2023 | Category: Linux

Plasma 5.27 review

I am a little late to the party, but you know what they say? If you're important, they'll wait for you. Or, coming in last, you get the chance to impress everyone with a lame entrance joke. Like I'm doing now. But what we will be doing today, together, is a Plasma 5.27 review. KDE's desktop [sic] has been updated to a new version, and that means a rather rigorous examination of its capabilities.

Recently, I've been Plasma-ing a lot. This is because I got meself a Slimbook Titan laptop, and I've already shared some half a dozen articles on the topic. Predictably, they all revolve around the fine and elegant and slick Plasma desktop environment. I also have a little Slimbook Pro2 surprise, but that will have to wait a while longer. Still, in a nutshell, you may say, how about a little variety, Dedo? Well, not today, I'm afraid, me hearties. Today, we will do MOAR Plasma. I used the word Plasma way too much in this opening sequence. Let's.

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Updated: March 29, 2023 | Category: Linux

Dolphin & grouping by date

GwenView is the default image viewer - and sort of image manipulation - program in Dolphin. It's pretty decent. But in Kubuntu 22.04, the way it's configured by default, as I've explained it in my Slimbook Titan review, the usability is subpar. You have no menu, no buttons for quick actions. But Plasma is awesome, and you can customize things as much as you need or like. So, I quickly remedied the initial shortcomings. I added a menu, I added a bunch of buttons to the toolbar, disabled video view, added checkered background to images with transparency, and changed shortcuts for quicker action and work, like Esc for exit, s for save, c for crop, and similar.

The one thing I wasn't able to instantly fix is the sidebar. The stuff there is simply too small. The interface obeys my HD scaling all right, so there isn't an issue there, but for some reason, the folder contents, image details or image manipulation operations listed on the left side are rendered in tiny font. The text is too small to comfortably "see", and there isn't a toggle/option anywhere in GwenView's menu. OK, let's rectify that.

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Updated: March 27, 2023 | Category: Linux

Dolphin & grouping by date

I'm a great (if not the greatest) fan of the Plasma desktop environment. But sometimes, it can really drive me mad. Case in point, Dolphin, a splendid file manager, with lots of features, options and customization. Tweak the looks however you like, and you will have a splendid, productive tool in your hands.

While sorting out my Slimbook Titan, I encountered an odd problem. All of the different folders had their view set correctly, and they were showing the contents as they should, be it icons or details or whatnot. But the Downloads folder had its own behavior. It would show items grouped by date, in a rather Windowsy and super-annoying fashion. Now, it took me a while to disable this, hence this tutorial.

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Updated: March 24, 2023 | Category: Linux

Slimbook Titan keyboard backlight fix

Welcome, lil' penguins. Let us talk about me new laptop some more. As you may have heard or read, I purchased a Slimbook Titan, a hefty machine with hybrid graphics and lots of processing power. My mission? To use this device in earnest, for everything, to prove that I can wean myself off Windows come 2025, once Windows 10 goes kaputt. Because we don't want no Windows 11 and such nonsense, now do we.

On the Slimbook front, so to speak, things have gone all right so far, but the start was rocky, and some things are still a bit rough. My chief annoyance is the keyboard. One, it's not very ergonomic but that can't be solved. Two, the keyboard backlight is misbehaving. The combined effect is reduced typing productivity, and we don't want that, either. Let's talk about possible solutions and such.

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Updated: March 22, 2023 | Category: Car reviews

Audi A4 S line 35 TDI S Tronic review

The compact executive car class is a tricky one. It aims at the middle-aged executive, AKA someone with a relatively stolid lifestyle and just enough spare cash to indulge in some moderately luxurious extras, but without going over the top, or stepping too deeply into the sporty saloon territory. In other words, we're looking at a buyer who wants comfort, speed and perks all in one. The obvious choice for such a buyer would be Audi A4. Or is it?

Just recently, I had a chance to drive the aforementioned sample for two days over roughly 500 km of road, covering ordinary large urban setting, ultra-narrow old Mediterranean city lanes with just enough width not to scrape your side mirrors, and then, some lofty highways. Let me elaborate on this experience.

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Updated: March 18, 2023 | Category: Games

Quake III Arena & hi-res workaround

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to buy Quake III Arena (and Team Arena), so me and my buddies can go about shooting and teabagging one another ever so gentlemanly. Before you say anything, yes, there are a dozen Quake clones and spinoffs, including a whole range of open-source options, which I've reviewed numerously in the past. Noted. Now, if you do wanna Quake, you might discover a wee problem.

The Steam version launches in a glorious 640x480px resolution. If you try to change it via the settings, you will only go up to about 1600px or so. The resolution won't change right away. But then, if you restart the game, it won't launch anymore. You will get an OpenGL error - could not load OpenGL subsystem. We need to fix that right away. Let us indeed.

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Updated: March 15, 2023 | Category: Linux

Slimbook Titan apps & games

OK, here we are, at the start of the third article in my Slimbook Titan series. Just recently, I received the namesake laptop, and promptly (well, sort of) configured it for day-to-day use, with Kubuntu 22.04 as the operating system of choice. The things hadn't gone amazingly well early on, but so far, the results are quite decent.

In the first article, we talked about the laptop spec and ergonomics. In the second, I focused on the installation and setup, hardware compatibility and such. Now, we will examine the software side of the experience. After all, an operating system is only as good as its everyday usability. My primary driver for buying and using this hefty machine is to prepare myself for the inevitable switch away from Windows, sometime in the future. To that end, everything must pop pop pop. Everything must be super-green. Now, let's talk.

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Updated: March 13, 2023 | Category: Internet

Slimbook Titan is here

As a matter of principle, I do not use Edge on Windows machines. In fact, I won't even let it run. The services are disabled, the scheduled tasks are disabled, and even the program itself is blocked from launching using IFEO. But in Linux, I do use it as a secondary browser. Plus, I use the Dev version, so I can test and see what sort of future nonsense may come upon us. One such thing is the Bing button in the main toolbar.

A few days ago, I updated the (Linux) system, and after launching Edge, I saw an ugly new button on the far right side. If you hover your mouse cursor over it, it will immediately pop open a sidebar full of modern crap. Who cares what you're doing right, let's show you some stuff! And then, nothing like being asked to accept/reject cookies as a great user experience. Well, let me show you how to neuter this.

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Updated: March 10, 2023 | Category: Hardware, Linux

Slimbook Titan is here

Netizens of the Internet, welcome. Today, we commence to start the Dedoimedo Titan experiment. Just a few days ago, I received my Slimbook Titan laptop. In the first article, I merely teased you about it, going over the specifications, the look and feel, the basics. We didn't do anything real just yet.

Now, I'll show you what I did in the first 6-10 hours of my Titan setup. Namely, the initial setup, the installation and associated disk management considerations, the post-install setup including proprietary drivers for the graphics card and all that. As you already know, I did a rather similar thing with my ancient Y50-70 machine not that long ago, and now I'd like to replicate the success of that endeavor with the Titan. Let us begin.

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Updated: March 6, 2023 | Category: Hardware, Linux

Slimbook Titan is here

The eagle has landed. A merry couple of days ago, I finally received the Titan, in one piece. This means it is time for me to re-embark on my journey of exploration and Linuxification, so I can wean myself off Windows and go about my future with a full desktop experience sans any modern marketing nonsense. The most curious thing about the whole ordeal is, I almost didn't receive the Titan. Or, to be more precise, I almost canceled my order. Why, you ask? Because shipping company, that's why.

I will not (yet) write the full story of this drama. For now, here's the TL;DR. It took me about a dozen emails, a dozen (mostly angry) phone calls, and an extra week of wasted time to finally get the laptop. It turns out the discount Slimbook gave me wasn't really a discount. They simply hadn't charged me VAT, and I had to handle this part myself before being able to receive the package. This wasn't fun, at all, and I was very close to just giving up. But in the end, I managed to sort it out, and here we are.

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