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Updated: February 26, 2021 | Category: Office

LibreOffice 7.1 review

They say people get bitterer as they grow older. I say, it's not a function of age, it's a function of experience. Hope is finite, and it gets eroded and chipped away as one goes through life and tastes the fruit of disappointment, time and time again. But hope is the last thing to die.

Which is why my mood cycles between mildly despondent and apocalyptically gloomy as I watch the software world rumble by, doing its thing, and me just wanting to be a happy user. LibreOffice plays a huge part in this equation, because it covers one of the two critical things that forces me to use Windows. Office and gaming, which are simply not as doable in alternative operating systems. Thus, every time there's a new LibreOffice release, I get all hopeful, thinking this will be the day I can say I'm less of a prisoner of my own choices and the tragic state of the software world that surrounds us. And so I tested LibreOffice 7.1.

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Updated: February 24, 2021 | Category: Linux

Remap custom keyboard keys in Linux - tutorial

Modern problems require modern solutions. I've recently got meself a new Linux test laptop, one IdeaPad 3, which I bought (unfortunately, due to market shortages) with the UK keyboard layout instead of the US layout. This means suboptimal physical key placement - even if you do use a different keyboard variant. Namely, the bar and backspace keys and such are placed all wrong, plus the Enter key is too small.

Moreover, this also means, muscle memory and all, you end up typing \ when you actually want to jump to a new line, and this can be quite annoying. So I thought, perhaps I can remap keyboard keys in a small way? But I didn't want to just remap the backspace key (bearing the UK tilde and hash symbols) to a "second" Enter, thus effectively making a larger Enter key, I still wanted to have the bar and backspace keys available. Hence a more complex exercise. Let me show you how you can this somewhat convoluted but super-nice setup.

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Updated: February 22, 2021 | Category: Internet

Firefox Proton preview

Every few years, there's a new visual revamp in Firefox. First, we had the classic look, then Australis, then Quantum, which sort of gave us the old look but in a new guise, and now, Mozilla is aiming for yet another makeover called Proton. The UI refresh seems to be all the rage, except, I don't see why there's a need for one, but hey. Modern problems require modern solutions, or something.

I wanted to get an early glimpse of the change, mostly to see what I ought to expect. As you very well recall from me articles and rants, I found Australis abominable, Quantum okay, and now, I'm not sure why Firefox should be modified yet again. If by any measure we look at competition, say Chrome, what made it popular definitely isn't any series of UI changes, because largely, it hasn't changed much since inception. Not that Firefox should ape Chrome, far from it. But the sense of activity associated with visual polish doesn't necessarily translate into anything meaningful. Whether it does, well, we need to see. Early hands on, let's see.

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Updated: February 19, 2021 | Category: Media

VLC 4.0 preview

I first tried VLC around 2003 or so. It wasn't a good experience. The player's interface showed me a garbled view of the video file I was trying to play. Then, in 2006 or so, I tried it again. Since, it's become my staple media player on every single platform and operating system, including the mobile. The reasons are many: the king of codecs, tons of features, a simple no-frills interface.

Recently, the VLC team has started working on a visual revamp of the UI, which should come live in version 4.0. This marks a significant departure from the established look & feel of the player, which really hasn't seen any big visual updates throughout its history. So I thought, let's have a look at the early work and see what the future has in store for us. Early impressions, don't get too excited, things may rapidly evolve and change and whatnot. Follow me.

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Updated: February 17, 2021 | Category: Linux

Plasma keyboard languages

Welcome to the latest installment in my neverending Plasma desktop games. Today, I want to talk to you about something that is both trivial and complex. The use of other languages on your computer. While I fully believe the only acceptable machine interface language ought to be English, I also understand and appreciate that other people speak and use other languages - after all, I do it myself, four or five languages. You see, I just bragged there.

On a serious note, sometimes one may need to use non-ASCII 127 keyboard layout. And when that need strikes, you want your operating system to give you friendly help. Well, in today's guide, I want to show you the clever way the Plasma desktop handles languages and keyboard layouts. Powerful, elegant, and follow me.

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Updated: February 15, 2021 | Category: Other software

Android, Assistant and headphones

Something rather weird happened to me a few days ago. I was doing a boomer thing - a real phone call on my Motorola One Zoom smartphone, and I decided to free my hands, so I hooked up my headphones via the audio jack. All good, but once the call ended, I noticed a curious little notification on the device. It read: Talk to your Assistant on headphones. Say what.

This wouldn't really be a problem - except - I had configured the Google Assistant to OFF. It was disabled, it shouldn't have prompted. If you've read my Android privacy guide, you know that my first order of the day is turning off pretty much 90% of all the different noisy, cloudy, onliney things. And yet, there it was. Angry, I set about figuring this out. The end result is this guide, because it has a lot of useful detail. Follow me.

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Updated: February 12, 2021 | Category: Game reviews

ArmA 3 Livonia

As you well know, normally I'm against the whole DLC thing. But, I've also come to realize that many companies are doing DLC because otherwise, effectively, they can't really stay afloat and compete in today's gaming market. This is no excuse for the whole peddle-cum-beg fest of locked content and such, but I did ever so slightly mellow my stance. Case in point, ArmA 3. A brilliant game by all (my) standards. Looking back, the entire Operation Flashpoint franchise is the only set of game titles I've played consistently for the last twenty years. Blimey.

Therefore, I decided to spend some dough and buy a couple of game DLC, because I like sitting down with a bunch of friends for a good, hearty shootout. One of these bundles is the Contact campaign slash expansion, which brings in aliens to the ArmA 3 world. For me, more importantly, it offers a new set of weapons and uniforms, plus a new map called Livonia. Very foresty, very Chernarus, very nostalgia. I review.

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Updated: February 10, 2021 | Category: Linux

GeckoLinux Static 152 Plasma review

A large number of Linux distributions were born with the (singular) goal of improving on perceived inadequate defaults in other distributions. Good examples would be Fuduntu unto Fedora, Linux Mint unto Ubuntu, and one might even say Manjaro unto Arch. With openSUSE, it's GeckoLinux. Now, the idea is noble and all, the implementation - not so trivial.

I've tested Gecko a few times in the past, and I found it okay. Not brilliant, not terrible. Somewhere in the middle. A small improvement over what openSUSE does, plus some quirks and problems that stem from the remastering. Even larger teams often struggle with the finer detail of visual consistency, let alone tiny endeavors like Gecko. But hey. The hope is strong in this one, and by that I mean, let's see what gives. We shall conduct this escapade on me new test box, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 with its Ryzen processor and Vega graphics. Should be interesting.

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Updated: February 8, 2021 | Category: Linux

Best distro 2011-2020

OK, let's do it. I'm going to tell you about my top five distros of the past decade. A (very) long view on usability, functional and cultural (so to speak) impact, the value, the quality, the fun I got out of them, how they shaped my usability - and that of others, and a few other interesting tidbits. Nostalgia, forget we must not.

In a way, the article will be similar to my five-year summary (2016-2020), which I did not that long ago. And of course, you're likely to see some of the same names invoked. So if you've read it once, well apologies for that. All right, we know what the deal is for the latter half of this period, but what about the first five years? If you ask me, those were the interesting years - the peak of the PC, the fun desktop period before the mobile era ruined it all. Moving on, ze list.

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Updated: February 5, 2021 | Category: Game reviews

ETS2: Beyond the Baltic Sea

Some games are fun. Some games are extra fun. One of them is Euro Truck Simulator 2. Strap into the cabin of an eighteen-wheeler, and roam free the roads and bahns of the European continent, delivering goods to and fro and making honest buck (euro) in between. So when there's a DLC, offered cheap, Cyber Monday whatnot, then you buy it, despite my stance on DLC in general, and you play some moar. Let's call it an expansion pack, shall we?

The name of the DLC is Beyond the Baltic Sea, and it instantly reminded me of the awesome movie Cannonball! and its iconic opening theme song and sequence. If you've not seen it, you must. Now, the lyrics of the song include a line: from sea to shining sea. Well, almost the same, except it's the Baltic Sea. Indeed, the DLC opens up a bunch of new roads in the countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, parts of western Russia, and the south of Finland. Sounds cool. Ignition on.

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Updated: February 3, 2021 | Category: Linux

Bulk-copy images by size in Linux tutorial

Behold, an interesting problem - or requirement, if you will. You have a folder full of images, say dozens or hundreds. And they are of different sizes, say height of 480 or 600 or 1024 pixels, and width of 200, 320 or 9000 pixels, and you would like to copy only high-quality, large-size images out of this folder into a separate location. Doing this manually can be a chore.

In this article, I'd like to show you a relatively simple command you can run in a terminal window, which will let you filter out your images by size, and then only copy those with an attribute that you like. Now, please be aware that there are dozens of different ways you can accomplish this, and my solution is no way unique or comprehensive (for every possible usecase), but it should do the trick just fine. Let's begin.

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Updated: February 1, 2021 | Category: Linux

Manjaro 20.2 Nibla review

Here's the deal. I got meself a new test laptop - to use side-by-side with the aging G50, plus I'm sort of retiring a couple of really ancient machines from yesterdecade. Anyway, IdeaPad 3 seems like a decent mid-range machine, and in my original triple-boot configuration, things went fairly smoothly, then things kind of soured somewhat, mostly on the Windows side, and then, I decided to expand my Linux-focused testing.

I chose Manjaro 20.2 Nibla as the next choice - after testing 20.1 Mikah not that long ago. The latter proved quite all right, so I thought, let's see what the next point release in this rolling distro can do, especially on some new hardware. Always a worthy check, especially since it's quite different from the Ubuntu family I've tried so far. Well, commence to start.

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Updated: January 29, 2021 | Category: Linux

Linux, PulseAudio, microphone and speakers tutorial

Here's a rather interesting problem I've encountered recently. I bought myself a new laptop, Lenovo IdeaPad 3, primary for testing different Linux distributions. As part of my initial setup, I encountered a weird issue with the audio system in Kubuntu. Namely, I could play sound, but there was no microphone - or I could record sound with the microphone but there would be no output, either through speakers or headphones.

This infuriated me quite a bit - because there was no such issue in Windows 10 in the laptop's temporary triple-boot configuration. So I started a long and seemingly wild chase, trying to resolve this. The hunt led me into dozens of forums, discussing similar and related problems. Most of them seem to focus on newer Lenovo laptop models. I wanted to use this opportunity to write a little tutorial, which will hopefully help you, should you encounter this problem, get simultaneous playback and microphone in your Linux desktop session(s). After me, Tuxers.

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Updated: January 27, 2021 | Category: Linux

Best distro 2016-2020

Last year, for the first time in a decade, I did not write my end-of-year best distro reports. Because there wasn't anything majorly exciting to report about, and also because I found myself quite dejected and tired of testing systems for the sake of testing, going through the same old problems, bugs and regressions. Some of you even emailed me about this distinct absence of written judgment.

Then I thought, well, if 2020 wasn't fun Linux wise, perhaps we can have a longer view? How about the best distro released in the last five years? That sounds meaningful, and should also give us a good dose of reflection and nostalgia. Now, as always, this is subjective, so if you don't see your favorite distro on the list, it's because I'm writing from my perspective. Begin, shall we?

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Updated: January 25, 2021 | Category: Game reviews

Workers & Resources: Soviet Republic

After one reaches a certain age, i.e. becomes a grumpy dinosaur, discovering new games becomes difficult. Somewhere around mid-30s, you settle into a pattern, and don't just randomly go about playing any which title comes your way. Time become precious, patience thin. And so, the likelihood of a Magellan-style discovery is very slim.

Yet, it's happened again. I found a game so brilliant, so captivating that I found myself hunching over the keyboard for more hours than socially acceptable, I'd go to bed anticipating the next morning so I could play again, and in between, I'd dream about the game's dynamics, while its tune plays out its quirky beat through the land of brainy REM. A time jump back into childhood. Ladies and gentlemen, comrades - Workers & Resources: Soviet Republic - an absolute gem of a game!

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Updated: January 22, 2021 | Category: Virtualization

VirtualBox & merge snapshots

One of the cool things about VirtualBox is that it lets you create snapshots of your virtual machines. You work, you save a state, you make changes, and then you conveniently revert back to the saved state. You can branch any way you like, create snapshots with the virtual machines running or stopped, and the functionality provides you with a lot of flexibility - and determinism - as you can consistently re-test known system states over and over.

The uncool thing about snapshots is that they take quite a bit of space. I noticed that one of my virtual machines, with an expected footprint of only about 11 GB was actually taking 46 GB of disk space. And as you can imagine, there were snapshots - a total of seven different saved machine states. This ain't bad, but what if you no longer need the snapshots and want to compact them, i.e. flatten them, i.e. merge everything down and trim down on disk usage? Let's explore this further.

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Updated: January 20, 2021 | Category: Linux

2010 HP laptop & modern Linux distributions

I like round-number milestones. Especially if they allow one to showcase nice things. For example, sometime ago, I managed to revitalize my fairly ancient LG laptop by installing MX Linux on it. This restored a great deal of speed and nimbleness to the system, allowing it to remain modern and relevant for a bit longer.

Now that my HP machine has reached its double-digit age, I thought of upgrading its Linux system. At the moment, the machine dual-boots Windows 7 (indeed, relax) and Kubuntu 20.04. Things work reasonably well. Spec-wise, the 2010 laptop comes with a first-gen i5 processor, 4 GB of RAM, 7,200rpm hard disk, and Nvidia graphics. Technically, not bad at all, even today. Well, I decided to try some modern distro flavors, to see what gives.

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Updated: January 18, 2021 | Category: Internet

UBlock Origin & custom filters

Several months ago, I wrote a review of UBlock Origin. It's a powerful, nerdy browser extension, available across the wider range of browsers out there, with the sacred purpose of making the Internet palatable for intelligent use. It does so by being a sophisticated adblocker and content blocker.

Since, I've received requests for additional tutorials - and also found myself tackling a few real-world issues with somewhat overzealous content blocking. For example, on Bing images, if I clicked on an image, they would show up for a second, flicker and then disappear. Not consistently - but always with UBlock Origin active. So I used this opportunity to write a little guide on how to create custom filters. Let's have a look.

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Updated: January 15, 2021 | Category: Hardware

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 second review

Several days ago, I bought myself a Lenovo IdeaPad 3 laptop as a new test machine, and promptly configured its default Windows 10 operating system, as well as installed two fresh Linux distributions, creating a cushty triple-boot setup. In my original review, I told you how the process, especially the Windows piece, went quite smoothly and quickly. Well, that got somewhat undone just a week into the adventure.

About a dozen reboots later, I suddenly saw a new icon pop up in my system tray in Windows 10. Something called Meet Now. Styled in the "modern hipster" cartoon design, this thing annoyed me instantly, because there's nothing I hate more than random low-IQ attempts by software vendors to entice me to use things I have zero need or desire for. And then, a whole bunch of other things happened.

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Updated: January 13, 2021 | Category: Office

How to flatten PDF files tutorial

A couple of days ago, I showed you how to redact information in Okular, the default PDF viewer in the Plasma desktop. The action is relatively simple to do, but it doesn't effectively destroy the redacted information, merely obscures it from the viewer.

What I want to show you today is the second part of the puzzle - the flattening of PDF documents. Think an image with multiple layers, and then you save it all in a non-layered format. The information is then flattened into a single layer - the values of all the vertically stacked pixels are calculated - added/subtracted/whatever - and then presented as a single definitive computation of this action. The same with PDF, except it's more complicated, given the PDF structure. Let's do it.

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Updated: January 11, 2021 | Category: Office

Okular & redact PDF files tutorial

The world of PDF files is a vast and complicated one. Viewing files is one thing. Editing them, quite another. Sometimes, you may want to send someone a PDF, but also blank/remove some of the information in the document. This calls for some non-trivial work.

In this article, I'd like to show you how to redact information in PDF documents using the default PDF software available in the KDE/Plasma desktop - Okular. We've talked about this nice little program at length in the past, but now we need to focus on a very specific use case. And please note, this article is not going to be 100% complete. We'll have another tutorial, which also shows how to flatten PDF files.

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Updated: January 8, 2021 | Category: Hardware

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 review

So. I decided I wanted (if not quite needed) a new test laptop. My arsenal of Linux-focused test hardware has been getting a bit long in the tooth, with two ancient machines now both 10+ of age, and the everyday laptop marching well into its sixth year. Buying a new mid-range box would give me exposure to some more recent technology, and allow me to fiddle with operating systems on a new level.

Thus, I purchased myself a Lenovo IdeaPad 3, a 14-inch FHD laptop. As it happens, it's not my first Lenovo, far from it, but it is my very first laptop with an AMD processor! This should make the whole endeavor quite interesting. To make things even spicier, it comes with AMD Radeon Vega 8 graphics - my second only machine with AMD graphics, after an old T42 a decade back. Double whammy, then. The main idea is to use this laptop for various everyday usage scenarios - Windows and Linux testing. And we ought to do that right away. Indeed, let's dive in and see what gives.

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Updated: January 6, 2021 | Category: Linux

OpenSUSE Leap 15.2 essential post-install tweaks

All right. Before we start, here's a baseline for you. This article will only be of value to you if you have decided to use openSUSE as your desktop system, and if you have successfully installed it on your host. It is important to remember this, otherwise all of the actions below are rather unnecessary. In my recent Leap 15.2 test, I've encountered tons of critical problems with the openSUSE desktop experience, which make it impossible for me to recommend this particular release as a day-to-day system.

That said, I did manage to overcome a whole range of obstacles, and so, for those of you SUSE-inclined, I'd like to show you a list of different tweaks, tips and tricks you may require to transform the default openSUSE system into one with all the extras you need. But of course, we start with the assumption that the system is working for you just fine. Let's see what gives.

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Updated: January 4, 2021 | Category: VirtualBox

VirtualBox & VERR_TOO_BIG error

By and large, my VirtualBox experience is largely pleasant. There are some problems here and there, sometimes serious problems - like the bridged networking issue - but overall, it offers a useful, flexible environment to test operating systems and software quickly, efficiently, smartly. Network isolation, snapshots, Bob's your uncle.

Then, all of a sudden, a few days back I tried to launch a virtual machine, and it wouldn't. The error message contained the following: Failed to load R0 module ... for device 'usb-ehci' (VERR_SYMBOL_VALUE_TOO_BIG). Well, that sounds rather cryptic. Let's troubleshoot.

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Updated: January 1, 2021 | Category: Other software

Should you allow telemetry in software

Companies build software products. They release said software products into the wild. People start using them, and sometimes, there be problems. But how can companies really know that their products are working as expected? User interaction? Unreliable. Some form of automated mechanism that tracks software usage and reports data back? Yes.

Software telemetry is a relatively transparent way of collecting data about human-software interactions, with the noble goal of improving software products. Alas, if only the reality was so cuddly and naive. As it happens, humans quickly realized that data collected in this manner can be used for more than just improvements in the product. And thus, overnight, a noble goal became ignoble. So the question is, should you, as an end user, allow, encourage or accept telemetry in the software you use?

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Updated: December 30, 2020 | Category: Other software

Android Gboard settings

For the most part, smartphones come with virtual keyboards, ergo no real tactile response, ergo you work by touching bits and pieces of digital equity on your screen, which the system software translates into letters and numbers. This makes virtual keyboards quite important, as they help convey the inconvenience of slow, laborious touch-by-touch typing into hopefully coherent messages.

The default Android keyboard is called Gboard, nice pun, and for the most part, it does a reasonable job. Over the years, it has also improved and become more practical. I still remember, a while back, how much more advanced and efficient the Windows Phone keyboard really was its rivals. Oh well. Anyway, with Gboard being your language gateway unto the phone, I wanted to dedicate a little article talking about the different options and settings you can tweak, which will hopefully make your virtual typing experience more pleasant. After me.

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Updated: December 28, 2020 | Category: Hardware

Nokia 5.3 review

In early 2015, I purchased one Lumia 535, a budget smartphone with Windows Phone 8.1 on it. Since, it has served loyally, until about a month ago, when the device started exhibiting hardware issues - random reboots or shutdowns, usually when handled a bit more roughly. I started looking for a replacement, and - with great poetic justice - I chose Nokia 5.3.

The numbers align so well. But does the experience? Recently, if you recall, I tried Nokia 1.3, and it was a less-than-ideal ordeal, with removable-yet-not-quite backcover problems and mediocre performance. So how much difference is in roughly 60 dollars worth of hardware? With a price tag of USD160 (equivalent) plus 20% Cyber Monday discount, Nokia 5.3 ended up in me lap. Now let's see what gives.

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Updated: December 25, 2020 | Category: Linux

OpenSUSE Leap 15.2 review

For many years, SUSE - and openSUSE - has been my daily driver, my favorite Linux distro. It had everything one could expect - speed, stability, professional edge, top-end tooling. And then, one day, it simply stopped being awesome. I've been trying to rekindle that first Tux love ever since. Without luck.

You can read all about my past openSUSE endeavors by reading my last review and working your way into the past, up the hill of enthusiasm and happiness. In fact, my overall Linux desktop experience has been going down for quite some time, and recently, I've decided to do my reviews short and sweet. Well, not having touched openSUSE for quite some time, I wanted to check Leap 15.2 again, to see what gives. Can I haz the old fun back?

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Updated: December 23, 2020 | Category: Other software

Google Photos & gray squares

Several weeks ago, I encountered a weird little problem on my One Zoom running Android 10. I copied a bunch of photos from the DCIM folders onto a PC - as I don't use the cloud backup, and I like to keep things clean and tidy. Then, as always, I deleted the photos from the phone, except an old reference image that I always keep in the folder. So far so good.

Then, when I opened Google Photos, instead of its usual routine - whereby it sort of "cleans" itself up, and removes the thumbnails for all the deleted images, I got a canvas full of gray squares. These were not clickable, they never turned into thumbnails (of the deleted photos), or went away. So I set about exploring, trying to find a way to fix this buglet.

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Updated: December 21, 2020 | Category: Linux

Plasma system area icon spacing - new tutorial

In my short review of Plasma 5.19, I mentioned a curious little problem I encountered - my systray suddenly got huge after an upgrade, taking a good two thirds of the panel. This wasn't caused by the desktop itself, but rather by a change in the systray plasmoid, which undid and made my manual spacing change wrong, spacing that I had introduced to work around the insufficient distance between system area icons made in one of the previous Plasma editions. Well now.

As it happens, my feeling is that the icon spacing in the new desktop environment is sufficiently airy not to require any additional changes. But just to be thorough, I decided to explore this venue a little, and found the rather interesting Plasma SysTray Tweaks for Latte plasmoid, made by the Latte Dock developer. It's time for see what this thing can do for our OCD demons. After me.

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Updated: December 18, 2020 | Category: Linux

Fedora 33 essential post-install tweaks

Several weeks ago, I tried Fedora 33 on my multi-boot test laptop. The experience was a total flop for me. Since I've recently decided to be far less forgiving when testing Linux, in order to preserve my time and my fun, my tolerance for the not-product approach prevalent in most distro is simply gone. There really wasn't anything super-cool or redeeming about this system to warrant any extensive usage.

That said, I decided to invest some time in transforming the stock Fedora 33 experience into something resembling a classic desktop you'd expect. This is very similar to what I've done many times in the past, including the Fedora 32 endeavor. With that in mind, if you're in the mood for some serious tweaks, then please, follow me. If you think Linux is perfect, and/or I'm just a spoiled [favorite expletive], this article is really not for you.

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Updated: December 16, 2020 | Category: Books

Free books promo

Ladies and gentlemen, the end of a tumultuous year is just a few days ahead, so perhaps I can sweeten the deal with some fun and non-expensive gifts for you. Starting on December 18 all the way to New Year's Eve, you can download e-book versions of several of my works, all for free, and then, you also get nice discounts on some others.

Namely, for two full weeks, the entire collection (four books) in my epic fantasy series The Lost Words will be available on Smashwords, plus you get 50% off on the bibilical mythology novel I Shall Slay the Dragon! On Amazon, both the first and the second book in the gunpowder-era grim-fun trilogy Woes & Hose, will be available for free download on Amazon, for five days each. That's The Amazing Adventures of Dashing Prince Dietrich and The Glorious Adventures of Glamorous Prince Dietrich, at your pleasure. And there will also be a giveaway on Goodreads, featuring my recently published zombie-themed novella Darkness. One hundred crisp digital copies no less.

Hopefully, you will find this little sales spree worthy of your time and reading. If you do happen to grab yourself a copy, I would really appreciate if you wrote a review - wherever, however, honestly, no words barred. Well, that would be all, and keep an eye on those dates.

Amazon | Smashwords | Goodreads (external links)

Updated: December 16, 2020 | Category: Linux

Dolphin & FISH, SSH tutorial

Today, I want to show you something rather cool. I will show you how to establish remote connectivity via SSH, from Linux machines using the Plasma desktop environment to other Linux systems, using built-in functionality in the Dolphin file manager. This can be quite useful if you need visual, filesystem-level access to other machines, or to do some data sharing and backups.

We did discuss this in my Linux connectivity guide, but I want to share a few more details. Namely, apart from the initial connection, I want to show you how to preserve credentials and simplify subsequent usage. All in all, we should have spiffy good fun. Now, after you read this tutorial, please watch the Find the Fish Monty Python sketch on Youtube for enhanced enjoyment of the subject matter. Follow me.

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Updated: December 14, 2020 | Category: Best of the Internetz

Greatest sites

I have two more nice websites for you. Le first: Like things what go boom boom? Me too! If you find interest and joy in big, complex and expensive machines that can alternatively bring democracy and autocracy to various countries and territories around the globe, then you surely want to visit Military Factory.

Le second: Software is like a skin rash. The more you pick at it, the more annoying it becomes. Indeed, for people deeply invested in IT technology, there runs a thin red line between critical passion and hatred, and most casual observers can't tell the two apart. Case in point: a simple domain titled: An IT guy corner. Behind this verbose and uninspiring title, behind the simple and unassuming Web page design, there lurks a wealth of well-documented data about one person's journey through tech for which the said owner has drawn more flak than a WWII bomber.

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Updated: December 11, 2020 | Category: Linux

Ubuntu MATE 20.10 Groovy Gorilla review

All right, let's continue the autumn distro testing session. So far, I looked at Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Fedora 33 and Manjaro, so I want to hop back to the *buntu family and review Ubuntu MATE. One, it's a sort of underdog retro-modern desktop designed to fill in the gap between Gnome 3, Xfce and Unity. Two, I've changed my testing methodology, so less patience and tolerance, more focus on fun. We need to see how that affects today's outcome.

Overall, Ubuntu MATE does a reasonable job. The default aesthetics are a bit tricky - the gray/green issue that affects Mint and Manjaro, too - but it offers a fairly balanced set of tools and applications plus a very cushy software managed called Boutique. I also tried it on Raspberry Pi with some quite decent results. But now, we need to see what the Groovy release brings to the table. My eight-boot Intel-graphics test laptop, at your disposal. Begin.

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Updated: December 9, 2020 | Category: Game reviews

ArmA 3 - Frigate and Pirate Cave goofing

Welcome to Stupidity Corner. Your humble host today, Dedoimedo! Once again, we will help ourselves to the splendid art of much ado about nothing, the quintessential timewaster slash PTSD healing techniques for the entrepreneuring IT employee, infected by passive-aggressiveness. First Person Shooter as the cure to office nonsense.

I'm talking about the wunderbar ArmA 3 and the meditation sessions therein, focused around sandbox games on the island of Stratis. When you're not in the mood for any serious combined arms operations, you can just do some casual destruction with readily available 21st century materiel, especially if you happen to be the mission Zeus. Indeed, I've already shown you how to use the WASP class amphibious assault ship - aircraft carrier in plebeish - as a gigantic ski/car jump pad. Now, we will do some more nautical work with the ANZAC class frigate and embark on a search after the hidden Pirate Cave on the island. Let's.

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Updated: December 7, 2020 | Category: Linux

Plasma System Monitor review

One of the applications slash utilities making Linux headlines recently is Plasma System Monitor, a most likely future replacement for KSysGuard, the current Plasma desktop task manager. With the old guard KSysGuard [sic] doing a remarkably good job, the successor needs to be not only highly capable but also better, because otherwise, we just have a new tool that does more of the same, and that's not really meaningful, now is it.

As it turns out, Plasma System Monitor can be tested already - it's available in the KDE neon repositories, and you can install it without any great manual compilation. I decided to see what gives, fully aware this is still early days - lots of bugs and problems are more than expected. So take this review with a hefty scoop of your favorite table spice. Off we go.

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Updated: December 4, 2020 | Category: Linux

Manjaro 20.1.2 Mikah review

Here we go. Ze testing continueth. For variety's sake, I decided to take a temporary break from the Ubuntu flavors and try something different. Looking about, Manjaro Linux 20 seems like an interesting choice. Over the years, I found Manjaro to be slowly and steadily improving, despite having to maintain multiple desktop environments, and despite the ultra-geeky nature of its creation. But hey, results, that's what matters.

So, today, I'm going to give Manjaro 20 Mikah a try. Plasma edition - as opposed to Gnome one I tried with the previous release. My usual multi-boot test laptop, my unusual new approach to distro wranglings, less time and patience for errors, more focus on the purest of usability factors and my own fun. Let's see how it went.

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Updated: December 2, 2020 | Category: Life wisdom

Work & Home balance

Ayes, another hot topic. Or rather boring topic being sensationalized. We've got the pandemic, people work from home more than before, and this leads to a startling revelation! For some people, this is not the optimal way of doing stuff what they get paid for to do. Curtain.

Except, I feel like adding to the entropy. As always, ALWAYS, I find the common narrative to the general story weird. We all have the same facts (or do we), and yet, for some reason, we don't always get to the same conclusion. When I read: work/home balance disrupted due to pandemic, I go, wait what. Indeed, it's now time and place for me to vomit my own perception of the reality onto the masses. Do read on, if you like.

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Updated: November 30, 2020 | Category: Game reviews

Cossacks 3

A few week ago I realized something rather extraordinary. As a great fan and proponent of Real Time Strategy (RTS) games, for some odd reason, I seem to have completely missed Cossacks. I don't know why, but in between Age of Empires, Total War and SimCity 4, two decades went by. Rhyme. And in that time, I never played Cossacks, a game focused on musket-and-dragon-heavy 17th and 18th century European wars.

Then, out of the blue, one misty evening in the realms of Dedoimedo, I saw Age of Empires II: Definite Edition in the Steam Store. And I thought, why not. Once I purchased it, played it some, and enjoyed it a fair deal, I noticed a handful of fresh recommendations pop up in me Steam Store page thingie, including Cossacks 3, an HD-remastered remake of the 2001 namesake title. The game cost only USD7.99, so I thought, one more time, why not. Purchase, play, review. Here we are.

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Updated: November 27, 2020 | Category: Linux

Xubuntu 20.10 Groovy Gorilla

Let's have some Linux testing today, shall we. This autumn season I'm a reformed man, with a new approach to my distro escapades. Less emotional investment, lower threshold of tolerance, neutral expectations. The new key formula ingredient is fun. If I'm having it, the review becomes super-long and detailed. If not, then I'm stepping away, and you may then decide for yourself what to do, or try other online sources for relevant information.

After Fedora 33 and Kubuntu 20.10, I want to focus on Xubuntu Groovy Gorilla. For a few years now, I'm under the impression that the Linux desktop enthusiasm has shrunk greatly, and this is quite apparent among the smaller distros. Xubuntu is no exception. I used to have a lot of fun with Xfce systems, but this isn't quite the case lately. Then, there's always a chance the next distro I try will be a fresh turning point. Let's see what Xubuntu can do for us then.

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Updated: November 25, 2020 | Category: Books

Darkness, Humanz 2.0

Dear readers, I am happy to announce the publication of my latest book, Darkness. It is the second volume in my zombie-themed novella series Humanz, told in first-person from a perspective of a ... zombie. Darkness follows our nameless protagonist, as they struggle with persecution, mistrust, bickering and power games, the ongoing-war with the humans, and worst of all, the slow and inevitable end of their half-dead existence.

Hopefully, you will find this book interesting, engaging and thought-provoking. I would appreciate any feedback you have, good or bad, just leave an honest review. Of course, buying and reviewing my books is an excellent way to support my writing endeavors, so there. At the moment, only the e-book version is available. The paperback edition is coming very soon. If you'd like a signed copy, please email me, and I'll see what I can do. Enjoy.

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Updated: November 25, 2020 | Category: Linux

Linux connectivity tutorial

I got an interesting request (not from singles in my area). One of my readers asked me, how does one go about connecting two Linux boxes - I presume for sharing purposes. This is a topic I've touched upon frequently, but often indirectly. As Commandant Lasard from Police Academy would say, there are many, many, many, many different ways to do this.

So perhaps it's time for a proper tutorial. I will show you several common, robust ways to have two Linux systems communicate over network. We'll do it on the command line, then move up to file managers, and finally, also perform a remote data backup using a friendly GUI tool. Let's start.

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Updated: November 23, 2020 | Category: Linux

Plasma desktop & display scaling

When I got meself the Slimbook Pro2 laptop, I had to contend with an issue that usually didn't bother me. The laptop has a full HD resolution, which, when displayed on just fourteen inches of equity, feels a bit too small. The natural thing is to simply use display scaling - Plasma has this built-in, including fractional scaling. Thinking about it, the only two desktop environments that did this well, seamlessly, and like years ago, were Unity and Plasma, the latter still going strong. But this was less than optimal, so my solution was to do a series of HD scaling tweaks as a workaround.

Now that Plasma 5.20 is out, and if you've read my review, 'tis a blast. But the one thing I didn't check right away is the display scaling. So I thought, well then, let's see how well has this important aspect of desktop functionality changed in the last couple of years. The most important question is - has it actually improved?

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Updated: November 20, 2020 | Category: Hardware

Motherboard white light & display connectivity

The title of this article sounds like nonsense, but it is actually a recipe for a weird problem I've encountered with a desktop system. As it happens, it's a custom-built PC with an ASUS motherboard. The computer monitor is made by Dell. The two devices are connected using an HDMI cable. So far so good.

Then, I had the system rebooted - after months of calm and peaceful work - and during the boot sequence, the following happened. The screen went into a sleep mode - the usual no signal from HDMI. Then, it didn't wake up right away, so I didn't see the BIOS splash (the whole press F2). Then, the LED on the motherboard cycled through the color sequence - red, yellow, white, green. Nope, no green. The white light stayed on.

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Updated: November 18, 2020 | Category: Linux

Kubuntu 20.10 Groovy Gorilla review

It is time for another distro test. But wait. It's going to be my new-style testing. Short unless proven fun. Because life has more to it than going through motions with software and getting annoyed. As I've told you not that long ago, I will be doing a somewhat different approach to my distro games, and only invest energy if the basic threshold of usability and fun, the way I see it, exists. Otherwise, I can't.

Kubuntu 20.10 Groovy Gorilla is the test de jour, after my recent Fedora 33 attempt. You know I love the Plasma desktop and use it daily, but then, this love comes with some pain, odd problems that shouldn't be there, and regressions that drain my soul. Well, without much further ado, let's see how Kubuntu fared.

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Updated: November 16, 2020 | Category: Game reviews

Goat Simulator

You all know the remedy for passive-aggressive IT office games - you go home and detox playing first person shooters, and channel all that buzzword energy you accumulated during your work day into some pixilated foes online. But what do you do when even FPS doesn't cut it? We need something, Dr. Emil Schuffhausen style, a little more stringent.

Goat Simulator is the cure to all your ailments. It's a silly, half-unfinished, buggy game with a stupid yet utterly brilliant premise. You're a goat. And you go about the world doing goaty things - which means mostly headbutting things into oblivion. Hm, sounds delicious. So let's savor it.

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Updated: November 13, 2020 | Category: Internet

Font vulnerabilities & Noscript

In the past month, I've read about a dozen security bulletins involving remote execution exploits due to font parsing vulnerabilities in a range of operating systems, from desktop to mobile. In all these cases, there was a detailed mention of problems, but very little if any mention of possible solutions, other than vendor updates, that is.

Which is rather intriguing, because there is a tool that can help you with fonts. It's called Noscript, it's a supreme browser extension available in Firefox and more recently in Chrome, and it allows you to govern the loading of fonts in your webpages. A simple and elegant tool that can save - or at the very least, significantly minimize, headache with fonts. But does it get the spotlight it deserves? Of course not, drama and fear are far more interesting. Let's see what gives.

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Updated: November 11, 2020 | Category: Game reviews

ArmA 3 goofing - aircraft carrier & car jumps

As you very well know, ArmA 3 is the finest military simulation game out there. I've been doing a fair share of reviews on this splendid and realistic first person shooter, covering both the occasional extension pack as well as unique individual missions. But sometimes, I just feel like taking it slow and chillaxing. Worry not, ArmA 3 is perfectly suited for the slow-n-lazy shooting meditation, too!

Over the years, I've already delighted you (read bored) with a bunch of goofing articles, spanning from the original Operation Flashpoint compilation of silly moments (you ought to read this in Graham Chapman's voice), all the way to the ArmA3 Stratis airport boom-boom factory sandbox shenanigans, WASP amphibious assault ship - aircraft carrier for the less savvy - included. Now, let's up the odds, shall we. How about an aircraft carrier, check, used as a ski jump prop, check, for the ultimate delight, check? Commence.

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Updated: November 9, 2020 | Category: Linux

TrueCrypt & modern Linux distros

The autumn distro season has begun. A whole new crop of Linux flavors has bloomed. But this year, unlike all the years gone past, I will do something different. Having been quite disappointed by Linux home distros recently, I decided I won't do my usual ultra-thorough set of testing. Instead, I will start humble, and only if the particular operating system behaves nicely will I expand.

I will begin with Fedora 33 Workstation. If you've read my Fedora 32 report, then you know I'm no great fan. 'Tis a weird paradox, because I find CentOS to be delightful, but I can't extend the same sentiment to its bleeding-edge sibling. Anyway, let's begin and see what happens. After me.

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Updated: November 6, 2020 | Category: Linux

TrueCrypt & modern Linux distros

Before we dig into the tutorial itself, let's clarify something. The purpose of this article is not to discuss the moral or security implications for using TrueCrypt in 2020. If you're thinking: but wait, there's VeraCrypt, that's not the focus of this article. What I want to show you here are the technical details for how to get TrueCrypt running on a modern Linux distro, regardless of why or if you should.

It is possible you won't have any issues - grab the old TrueCrypt archive, extract, install, enjoy. But it is also possible that you've had a working copy of TrueCrypt, and now, come a system upgrade, it no longer works. If that's the case - happened me to when I upgraded my Vivobook Kubuntu Bionic to Focal - and you do not have the luxury to port your existing containers or risk your data, then let me outline the steps you need to have TrueCrypt running again.

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Updated: November 4, 2020 | Category: Other software

PeaZip review

It would seem that Dedoimedo readers are telepathically interlinked, despite the best cosmic evidence against any such magic. Until we discover a particle that explains the phenomenon, I can only surmise it's coincidence or popular interest that drives my inbox contents. Exemplar de jour: PeaZip archiving utility.

A bunch of folks asked me to review this cross-platform multi-format archiving tool. And if you're wondering what archiving means - ZIP and RAR and TAR and whatnot. Basically, grab a bunch of files and put them into a single envelope AKA archive, which can save space, adds portability, and even security. I'm already a fond user of the likes of 7-Zip and Ark (in Plasma), so let's see what PeaZip can do for us.

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Updated: November 2, 2020 | Category: Internet

Microsoft Edge on Linux

What the world needs are more browsers. What the world does not need are more Chromium-based browsers. It's like that scene from the movie I Love You, Man, where a work colleague sends Paul Rudd's character a rather non-work clip: I don't want it. You've got it! There. As it happens, the world has a new Chromium-based browser, and now Linux has it, too. We're talking about Microsoft Edge.

In a way, Edge is the culmination of the Internet Explorer 6.0 story, told over ~15 years or so. It's also an interesting turn of events, because for the first time, there is an official (well, almost) version of a Microsoft browser available for Linux. No more WINE or whatnot tricks, you run this as is. Well, I wanted to see how good or useful or relevant this browser is. And I'm not going to focus on the shock value of OMG, Microsoft software running on Linux. That's overdone. So with that in mind, we check, yegdemash.

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