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Updated: October 15, 2021 | Category: Software

Software testing, old message

Normally, I am not too nostalgic. I don't pine for the "good ole days". Yes, some things were better in the past. And some were worse. For instance, today, cars are far more reliable - and overall better - than back then, in the days of lead and velor. Healthcare, another positive example. Software? Ah, no, not that one.

While my inner demons clamor for yet another outburst the likes of what I wrote in my modern software development piece, I'm not going to. Instead, I want to do something rather different and unusual for Dedoimedo. I want to take you back to 1989. And from a perspective made over thirty years back, I'd like to talk to you about software testing, which directly impacts software quality, y'know, that thing that has been steadily declining in the past decade.

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Updated: October 13, 2021 | Category: Game reviews

ArmA 3 Under Siege mission

Now and then, I hop into the ArmA 3 workshop on Steam, and go about hunting for new fun content. The search is harder than it looks. Finding missions is easy, but finding superb, bug-free ones is hard. On top of that, over the years, I've kind of zeroed in on my collection of extras, including some 25 GB worth of mods, and some 50-odd multiplayer missions. With DRO thrown in the lot, you have infinite replayability.

Now and then, I do discover cool stuff. Most recently, a hostage rescue mission called USS Liberty that feels very much like Steven Seagal's Under Siege, except you're Rybacking into action from a beach half a kilometer away from the ship. The premise is quite simple: a ship has been taken over by terrorists, some 35 or so, and there is about a dozen hostages on board, waiting for the cavalry to swoop in and save them. Commence to fun.

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Updated: October 11, 2021 | Category: Greatest sites

Greatest sites

Good Internet is hard to come by. So let me a-help you. Two fresh entries in me Hall of Fame. First: You go out, you see a modern car, you shrug and move on. You go out, you see an old car, you stop and marvel. Something about them 60s and 70s lines simply draws the eye, doesn't it? Believe it or not, you're not alone. Classics World is a site dedicated to the good ole days of car manufacturing, bringing retro to your metro.

Second: The world of smartphones is a big, messy jungle. If you need to buy yourself a new device, your first task of the day is macheting your way through a week's worth of snarling undergrowth AKA useless reviews and ads before you can get to the useful bits and pieces. Luckily, in amongst all this choking weed, there are some useful, reliable sources of information. GSMArena be one of them.

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Updated: October 8, 2021 | Category: Linux

KDE neon 5.22.5 review

Hot off the heels of my Fedora 34 KDE testing, I downloaded a new ISO of neon and promptly booted it on my IdeaPad 3. There were several reasons why I wanted this done. Primarily, I wanted to compare it to my KDE experience in Fedora, including verifying the presence of a bunch of annoying bugs in the desktop. Then, I also wanted to see how neon handles my new hardware on its own and all that.

I've done a whole bunch of neon testing and installations recently. In fact, I installed it on no less than three old laptops, and the results were all excellent. A mix of ancient processors, Nvidia graphics, and full-disk encryption. No worries, no troubles. Well then, let's have another go, shall we.

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Updated: October 5, 2021 | Category: Windows

Windows & turn unnecessary services

In general, I am opposed to system tweaking. I believe the operating systems ought to be left alone, because any divergence from the baseline can lead to unpredictable, untraceable issues much later on in the system's life. Tweak a service today, you experience an issue nine months later, and you have no idea why.

Alas, sometimes, tweaking is necessary, because many operating systems have horrible defaults. And in Windows, especially 10/11, things have become all too annoying. This means I need to disable various options, which previously never bothered me. On top of that, because Microsoft removed simple toggles for many of these annoying things, the only real solution is to disable these things completely, i.e. turn their services off. Let me show you how you should do this, in a persistent, correct manner. After me.

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Updated: October 1, 2021 | Category: Windows

Windows 11 performance tweaks

By and large, I've never really had any problems with Windows performance. I never experienced any issues with operating systems getting slower over time, either. And if you don't load your machine with junk, things can run nice and sprightly all the time. That said, I also don't subscribe to the whole "newer is better" school of thought. Yes, with time, things got faster, but that's because of the underlying hardware, not software. Overall, my speed satisfaction with Windows has been consistent for the past twenty years. Until now.

This could all be Windows 11 Dev Build jitters, or it could be something else. But Windows 11 is decidedly less sprightly than it should be. Actions take (too much) time, or rather, there's a noticeable initial lag when launching programs, opening Windows Explorer, and such. Things are a bit more syrupy than Windows 10. And so, I decided to compile a little guide on how to make things faster in this operating system. Let's see what gives.

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Updated: September 29, 2021 | Category: Linux

Fedora 34 KDE review

Try Fedora 34 KDE, why don't you, they wrote. It will be fun, they wrote. Now, based on my past experience with Fedora's somewhat less glamor-catching non-Gnome spins, KDE included, I'm rather skeptical of today's experiment. But then, what's the point in having a publicly accessible email if not to receive feedback from your readers, and take it into account for the upcoming articles and software reviews? To wit, we test the KDE flavor of Fedora here and now.

I am going to do two distinct tests - one inside a virtual machine, and one on my newish IdeaPad 3, which also comes with an AMD Ryzen processor, plus AMD Vega graphics, and there's a triple-boot on the box, cor, all of which add to the interesting plethora of challenges. Let us start.

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Updated: September 27, 2021 | Category: Linux

12-year-old LG laptop & KDE neon

If for some reason, the title of this article looks familiar, and you think you've seen this before, you are not mistaken. You have. Just a few shorts weeks back, I wrote an article slash review of my attempt to boot the latest edition of KDE neon on my 2010 HP Pavilion, a laptop that had, for a brief period, lost ability to start new Linux distros, most likely due to some incompatibility in the kernel vis-a-vis its old Nvidia card. Now that this issue has been rectified and I'm rather pleased with the results of the test, I want to try another experiment.

Today on the menu, I will do exactly the same thing I did last time, except, I'll do it on an even older machine. This shall be my LG RD510 machine, currently running MX Linux quite successfully, I must add. It also has an Nvidia card, tied to the legacy branch of drivers, Core 2 Duo processor, and a slower 5,400rpm disk. Will it be able to cope with a modern operating system and all that? Let's commence to check.

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Updated: September 24, 2021 | Category: Linux

Atheros Wireless in Alma/CentOS/Rocky Linux

Not that long ago, I took AlmaLinux for a second spin, this time for a more detail review of the distro on my brand-newish IdeaPad 3 machine. Things went reasonably well, except one big glaring problem. I didn't have Wireless connectivity, right after the installation. This is major, because you can't really use a modern system without (some) network, especially this early on.

Soon, I spent a couple of hours trying to fix this. The problem turned out to be rather quirky. Supposedly, I did have all the right drivers and whatnot, but the system couldn't really utilize the hardware. A combination of two factors contributed to the issue, which we will solve in this tutorial. Follow me.

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Updated: September 22, 2021 | Category: Windows

Windows 11 like Vista/8

I've been using Windows 10 in production for about two years now - testing it since even before the official release. Early on, my impression was that it was comparable to Windows 7. Okay. Nothing too special, new or revolutionary. Over time, this impression has changed. With subsequent semi-annual releases, I encountered issues I've never had in Windows before, mostly various system errors and bugs that speak of low quality and bad design. Then, Windows 10 would occasionally undo some of my tweaks and options, wasting my time, and forcing me to tighten the screws ever more. All in all, my outlook isn't bright or happy. Bored and exhausted by the nonsense would be the best word.

Now, Windows 11 is coming. As I've done many times in the past, I logged into my Insiders account and started testing, to see what awaits me. Right away, I found the experience quite dejecting. My early impression of Windows 11 Dev Build was mediocre at best, and it progressively got worse with each update. Different from Windows 10, though. What happened was, I found myself reliving 2011, when I tested Windows 8 and came to pretty much the same conclusions. To wit, this is what I think will unfold.

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Updated: September 20, 2021 | Category: Linux

Plasma & SDDM login scaling

Several weeks ago, I installed Kubuntu 20.04 on my IdeaPad Y50-70, a somewhat old but rather capable 15.6-inch laptop with a 4K screen resolution. Predictably, the device wasn't usable in its native screen mode, and I had to make everything bigger, scaling and all that. In the end, I managed to create an ergonomically comfortable setup, with two exceptions - the login menu, and the boot menu.

The former gave me some grief, but I was able to get it sorted. With GRUB, there were more problems. One, the menu wouldn't show, even though I had a dual-boot configuration in place. Two, the menu was tiny, with the text barely readable. So I embarked on a journey of GRUB modifications, hence this tutorial. Let me show you how you can make the GRUB menu bigger on HD/UHD displays.

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Updated: September 17, 2021 | Category: Linux

Plasma & SDDM login scaling

Life problems come in many shapes and forms. One of them could be the login screen in your Plasma desktop. How? By not scaling up to the selected screen resolution of your system. Case in point, my recent endeavor with Kubuntu 20.04 on my IdeaPad Y50-70, with its Nvidia card and 4K screen. Long story short, while I managed to get the desktop resolution and UHD scaling just right, the login screen did not obey my settings, and only rendered in 4K, ergo tiny.

I spent a lot of time trying to fix this, and finally, came up with this guide. Now, in newer editions of Plasma, like say 5.20, where scaling works really great, you might not face this issue at all. In 5.18.5, I had to resort to a few ugly tricks to get everything working. Let's see what gives.

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Updated: September 15, 2021 | Category: Windows

Windows 11 & default apps

Mic drop: I believe I will stop using computers much sooner than I previously thought. Not in the fullblown, dramatic sense, of course. None of that going back to the roots, eco-caveman, society-be-damned thing. No, nothing so drastic. But I will scale down my interaction with machines to the point I only use them for the bare necessities, because I'm getting pretty annoyed by the deterioration in quality and intelligence of software solutions being peddled and vomited upon the world. Out topic for the day: default programs.

Default programs, or applications, if you will. In Windows. Ah. Here's another shiny example of how not to do it right. Recently, there's been a spat of articles about Microsoft making it harder for common users to switch default apps in Windows 11. Except, this is yesterday's news. It's been hard for normies to do it for a long while now. I've already covered the issue in my Dev review of Windows 11, but I guess my tone isn't "photogenic" enough for mass consumption. Nor is this Windows 11 exclusive. There is nothing cardinally new in how deeply annoying Windows is in this regard. Windows 10 does the same thing. Use Edge, use Edge, use Edge. Klaxons all over the place. So I thought, ok, is there a way to configure Windows default apps from the command-line, and avoid the noise and nonsense?

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Updated: September 13, 2021 | Category: Game reviews

ArmA 3 & unsubscribe from deleted content

Behold, a new name of an adventure book. For 'tis an adventure. First, let me explain what this is all about. I love ArmA 3. It's the best first person shooter. No, let me rephrase it: the only really serious shooter out there, and if you feel like you want to grow some hair on your chest, you ought to play it. Of course, the gameplay can be enhanced via all sorts of Steam Workshop content bits - mods, scenarios, and alike. So far so good.

One day, I decided to do a little bit of housekeeping - prune some of the old scenarios I downloaded back in 2013-2014, some of which were buggy, abandoned or both. Normally, this is not an issue. Go to the workshop and hit Unsubscribe. The problem is, what do you do when the actual scenario (or whatever component) you want gone no longer exists on Steam? Aha. Hence, this article.

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Updated: September 10, 2021 | Category: Linux

IdeaPad 3 & AlmaLinux 8.4 review

If you recall, several weeks ago, I reviewed AlmaLinux. It was a short article, closely following up on a rather similar endeavor with Rocky Linux. Now, the very reason why I've decided to give these two distros so much focus is the premature EOL of CentOS 8. In the wake of the CentOS announcement, Rocky was born, designed to become a spiritual and material successor of the former - a community-cum-enterprise system with binary compatible to the upstream RHEL releases.

This triggered an avalanche of curiosity on me end, and I started - with some nice recommendations from the readers - exploring other distros in this realm. AlmaLinux is one of such efforts, and it has largely stayed off the radar, although technically, it is supposed to offer the same kind of experience and long-term support. Indeed, my early testing was quite promising. Now, I want to see how Alma is going to behave on my IdeaPad 3, a fairly new test box. It's a modern mid-range 2020 laptop, with AMD processor, Vega 8 graphics, and NVMe storage. Triple boot, with Windows 11 Dev Build in the equation, too. So let's begin.

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Updated: September 8, 2021 | Category: Linux

HP Pavilion & KDE neon

Less than a year ago, I wrote a sad article about modern distros not booting on my 2010 HP laptop anymore. No matter what I chose, things went bad. This was, me guessing, because the machine comes with an Nvidia card, one pinned to the ancient 340.xx branch of Nvidia drivers, and things simply got left out or forgotten in the process somewhere.

Well, I decided to give it another go - I mean, what do I have to lose? In between having a machine that's collecting dust, or attempting all sorts of Linux tricks, I went with the latter. I decided to try KDE neon, because I like how it looks and behaves on my 2013 Vivobook, which has been revitalized in a good and fun way, age and spec notwithstanding. And so, this article is the summary of this endeavor. Begin.

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Updated: September 6, 2021 | Category: Windows

Windows 11 local account setup

Some people wrongly assume that I'm opposed to online accounts. Not at all. In some scenarios, they make perfect sense, where the online functionality is an intrinsic part of the usage model. Like on the phone. What I am opposed to is UNNECESSARY use of online accounts, just for the sake of it. Case in point, Windows 10 Home, and now Windows 11, too.

I've already done a review of the Windows 11 Dev Build, and also showed you how to tweak and undo some of the low-IQ features in this system. I didn't touch on the installation process, because, until very recently, there wasn't an official bootable ISO for clean-install testing. Now that there is, I want to show you how to configure a local account in Windows 11. The simple, classic desktop formula, and all that. Follow me.

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Updated: September 3, 2021 | Category: Linux

Plasma system tray icon order

For those of you blessed with OCD, come closer. Say you're using the Plasma desktop, as you should, and then, unfortunately something goes a-wonk. You need to restart your Plasma shell, which is a relatively simple thing to do. Upon the shell restart, you realize that your system tray icons have rearranged themselves almost randomly, and the expected order of things is gone. Chaos!

I encountered this on a Kubuntu 18.04 box just recently. I then also realized that there isn't a way to pin icons to specific location in the system tray, as in Wireless always to the right, then Volume, then Vaults, etc. So if you expect things to be mega-cushty and consistent, you sure don't want them to change should you ever restart your Plasma shell. In this little guide, I'd like to show you a relatively simple trick of getting icons placed just as you like them. Follow me.

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Updated: September 1, 2021 | Category: Office

LibreOffice 7.2 review

My recent testing of Windows 11, as well as my overall satisfaction with Office 2016 (compared to 2010) are a constant remind of how urgently I need to break away from this cycle of technological dependency. Alas, I cannot. I am compelled by my personal and business needs. In the office space, they cannot be fully satisfied with LibreOffice. Cling to Microsoft Office, I must.

With LibreOffice 7.2 freshly out of the oven, my testing appetite has once again opened up, but I'm trying to be cool about it. I ain't too hopeful, I ain't too gloomy. Cautious and skeptical. After all, I've tried every single version of this free, open-source suite in the past decade or so, and I've experienced every emotion on the spectrum. The results seesawed widely. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a perfect LibreOffice release? Of course it would! Is 7.2 that release? Ah, let's check out.

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Updated: August 30, 2021 | Category: Windows

Windows 11 & Open-Shell

Almost exactly 10 years ago, Microsoft came out with Windows 8, featuring Start Screen, a useless idea that introduced extra mouse clicks into an efficient desktop workflow. As a member of a small group of people with IQ above two digits, and who value productivity, I wrote a guide on how to disable the Metro interface. This was during the preview, pre-release phase of the Windows 8 lifecycle. And then, Microsoft took the capability away.

I had to use Classic Shell, and to this day, Classic Shell, or rather, Open-Shell (the new, up-to-date version of the original) is my go-to menu in Windows 8. Now, now, now, color me surprised, a decade later, the exact same thing is happening with Dev builds of Windows 11. We have a new, useless menu that adds extra mouse clicks, because mobile. Used to be tablet, now phone. The cycle repeats itself. You could disable it via registry, no problem. But then, boom, new Dev release, and that tweak is gone! Well, we must resort to Open-Shell once again. Indeed, here, I want to show you what you need to have a good, seamless experience with this alternative menu utility in Windows 11. After me.

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Updated: August 27, 2021 | Category: Books & short stories

Knott Xombi

Becky took a moment to steady her nerves, her breathing. Then, she gently pushed herself into the data center. As the security officer, she was the only one allowed here. She may not be the most qualified engineer, but it was her job to diagnose the malfunction in the stabilization computer. No one else's.

Their craft, the Knott Xombi, an orbital selenium collector, was decaying. It was a gentle, gradual loss of altitude, and under any other circumstance, the captain wouldn't bother correcting to the original flight path until the next scheduled firing of the thrusters. But the deviation had also caused a misalignment in the collectors. The new inclination was costing the company trillions.

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Updated: August 25, 2021 | Category: Windows

Windows 11 usability tweaks

Welcome to my Windows 11 purification guide. I reviewed the Dev build some time ago, I noticed a whole bunch of problems and inconsistencies, and then kept on using the new operating system for a while since, and with each update, I like it less and less. It's getting more and more of that Windows 8 feel, which means stuff that no one needs or asks for being added, because.

Since I value my intelligence and time so much, I felt a keen need to write an article and show you how to undo most of the "modern" and useless features in Windows 11, so you can have a decent, efficient desktop experience, without any lost productivity. This means tweaking the system menu, adding shortcuts to the taskbar, removing useless programs, reverting the Explorer functionality to how it should be, and then some. Please note, everything I write here may change or become irrelevant, because Windows 11 is still in its preview phase, and therefore, some of the options and settings here may never reach the production state. For the time being, enjoy this guide.

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Updated: August 23, 2021 | Category: Linux

Asus Vivobook & KDE neon

I've been doing a little bit of housekeeping lately. Mostly, rotating hardware. I happen to have two laptops, which I classify as for production or semi-production use, but they are getting a little bit long in the tooth and gray in the beard. To that end, I decided to "downgrade" them in their use, but also take advantage of the opportunity to do some software changes.

Firstly, with my IdeaPad Y50-70, I relegated it from primary to secondary use, and added Kubuntu to the operating system arsenal. This 2014-vintage 4K-screen laptop now runs Windows 8.1 and Plasma-flavored Focal in a dual-boot configuration. A very useful exercise, hybrid card, Nvidia, all that. Secondly, with my 2013-era Asus Vivobook, used for secondary purposes, now tertiary, I decided to do a complete makeover. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Do read on.

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Updated: August 20, 2021 | Category: Windows

WinSCP review

When it comes to Windows applications, there's this weird dichotomy - or maybe it's a paradox, not sure. In some usage categories, there are almost infinite choices. In others, almost none. Take FTP clients for example. Now, this ain't the most common of usage models in the world, but if I want to upload stuff to some remote server, using say FTP or SFTP protocols (apologies for the recursion), then you are limited to a tiny arsenal of programs, as it happens.

One of the popular names is FileZilla. Indeed, for years, it featured on my lists of recommended software for Windows and Linux. I still do use it; the older versions, that is. Indeed, recently, there had been hurdles, including controversy surrounding the bundled version, which ships all sorts of (unneeded) extras alongside the core program. Even if one can get around the issue relatively easily, so to speak, this is tricky, because once trust is lost, it's very hard to regain, if ever. Thus, what do you do if you need an FTP client, and FileZilla does not fit the bill? Even for me, finding a suitable potential alternative slash replacement wasn't trivial, especially since it can take me weeks, sometimes months to evaluate tools before introducing them into my prod or semi-prod setups. The quest for the FTP client led me to WinSCP. Hence, this review.

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Updated: August 16, 2021 | Category: Game reviews

BeamNG.drive police car chases

There are many ways to handle work-related stress. You can try to work less. Take a medical leave. Change your manager, team, company, or all of the above. You could try yoga, puppies, meditation, hiking in the forest, any manner of solutions. Or you could play police chases in BeamNG on your computer. Aha.

BeamNG is a soft-physics car simulator. In non-nerdy words, this means realistic crashes with lots of stuff flying and bending and crumpling. As a bonus, you actually get to drive cars. But since this destroy-watch-repeat thing might eventually get old, even for the most stubborn of menchild (or is it manchildren?), the BeamNG team, in lieu of a multiplayer mode, has added all sorts of things into the game, to make it more interesting and durable. Campaign, scenarios, but the best thing of all - spawn traffic and then chase them in a police car.

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Updated: August 16, 2021 | Category: Internet

Firefox 91 & disable Proton guide

Firefox 91 has been released. Do you know what this means? It means you can no longer disable the Proton interface through about:config anymore. Why does this matter, you ask? Because Proton sucks. For those confused about the vehemence of my message so early on in the review, let's recap. A while back, Mozilla announced it would change - yet again - the Firefox UI. This time around, it's called Proton.

I showed you what this thing looks like - and it doesn't look good. But then, back in Firefox 89, Proton became official, you could simply toggle it off and move on with your dear life, enjoying productivity and efficiency. Now, though, this is no longer an option. So if you don't want to put up with useless, low-contrast hipsterology, I will show you the set of changes you can use to minimize or remove the useless aspects of Proton, and go back to sane browsing. After me.

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Updated: August 13, 2021 | Category: Linux

Gnome & HD scaling

Linux desktop usage problems and challenges come in many guises and forms. Then, you find yourself with monitor that offers HD resolution (or higher), only shown on a relatively small canvas of pixels, e.g.: a laptop, and you gain a whole new set of problems and challenges.

For a few years now, I've contended with the topic of HD displays, HD scaling and such. My first encounter was back in 2014, with my IdeaPad Y50-70 laptop, which has a 4K 15.6-inch display. Then and there, Unity handled scaling all right, better than Windows 8.1. Fast forward to my Slimbook Pro2. This is where things got rather serious, as I started using this laptop for day-to-day productivity work. In fact, the Plasma desktop is truly the only environment that offers really good scaling results. So the question is, if you prefer Gnome, what options do you have vis-a-vis HD scaling?

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Updated: August 11, 2021 | Category: Reviving old games

Julius - Caesar III in HD

Caesar III was the very first game I reviewed on Dedoimedo here, 15 years ago. Back then, it was a majestic game, and it still is. Lovely graphics that looked great in 1998 and still do; difficult yet utterly satisfying gameplay; intricate link between economy, welfare, society, and trade. The game had it all, and I spent years trying to get my Roman cities to be both beautiful and profitable. Wine imports, hippodrome, marble, tons of parks, just splendid.

When the game came out on Steam, I promptly purchased it and tried playing it. Everything was fine - even on Linux using Proton, go figure, but the game was limited to 1024x768px resolution. I wanted to see if there's a way to enjoy it in full HD, and thus discovered Julius - an open-source re-implementation of Caesar III, very similar to what OpenTTD was unto TTD early on. You need the original game files, CD, GOG or Steam version will do, and then Julius will allow you to play Caesar III on modern machines with large monitors and big resolutions, plus some fancy gameplay tweaks. Sounds jolly. Let's see.

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Updated: August 9, 2021 | Category: Windows

Windows 11 & pin random shortcut to taskbar

This story starts many years back. With the introduction of icons pinning in Windows Vista onwards, the behavior of the taskbar in Windows changed. The new functionality only allowed (and still allows) you to pin executables, not random shortcuts. Not a big problem, because until now, you could use Quick Launch, and easily drag & drop items there, from app shortcuts to folder shortcuts.

Windows 11 changes that. No more Quick Launch - although the location still exists. I encountered this problem in my review of the early Windows 11 Dev release. This wouldn't be an issue on its own, except Explorer, the way it's conceived in Windows 11 (and also Windows 10), does not allow you to open/start it with a custom location in mind. You can only do This PC or Quick access. Annoying. Let's see how we can fix this.

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Updated: July 14, 2021 | Category: Linux

AlmaLinux 8.4 review

Do you remember the soap opera series from the early 80s called Dynasty? Well, it has nothing to do with what I want to talk to you about today, except to serve as a weak allegory to the existence of multiple RHEL-based distributions. As it happens, for many years, CentOS was the thing - and still is, but this may soon not be the case, at least not in the classic sense, as CentOS 8 will prematurely EOL, and only continue as CentOS 8 Stream. Which brings its competitors into focus.

RHEL-compatible distributions all aim to do the same as the pay-for-support parent - offer a binary compatible server operating system. But on the home front, things are far more relaxed. Again, for many years, I've played with CentOS, tried to make it into a perfect distro, and recently, I did the same with Rocky Linux. Now I'd like to take a look at AlmaLinux, a community-supported enterprise operating system. From my home use perspective, of course.

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Updated: July 12, 2021 | Category: Linux

Lenovo IdeaPad Y50-70 & Kubuntu 20.04

In 2014, I got myself a "serious" laptop, designed to be used for real, productivity work and gaming, as sort of portable backup system for the conventional desktop PC layout. The laptop had a relatively moderate price and very nice specs: i7 processor, Nvidia GTX 860M card, 16GB of RAM, and 4K display. It also came with Windows 8.1, and I made a decision to keep it that way.

Fast forward to the present, this laptop is getting a wee old. It's still super-capable - it runs Assetto Corsa in 4K, it runs ArmA 3 and Cities Skylines without any issues, even BeamNG.drive. Really, it does all the modern tasks with jolly flair. However, I think I should relegate it to a secondary backup role, meaning it will still be a productivity system, but perhaps not always my first port of call. To that end, I decided to add Linux to its operating system range. Specifically, Kubuntu. A new adventure begins.

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Updated: July 9, 2021 | Category: Windows

Windows 11 Dev build review

Time to give Windows 11 a proper review. In my last article, I talked about hardware requirements, TPM and all that, and I invested a fair deal of time handling the different hurdles and issues in getting the preview builds of Windows 11 installed. I tried the setup process on a test laptop with AMD Ryzen 5 processor, and inside a virtual machine on a laptop powered by an 8th gen Intel processor. In the end, things went well.

Now, I want to see what Windows 11 actually does. Mind, this is an early review. So anything you see today may change, and/or not be indicative of the final product. However, based on my past experience, what you see today is largely what you'll get in the final product. OK, so Windows 11, here we go. Begin.

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Updated: July 7, 2021 | Category: Linux

Rocky Linux 8 & Steam install

Just a few short days ago - well, no, technically it's summertime, unless you're on the wrong side of the disc, so the days are long - I tested Rocky Linux, then subsequently wrote a guide on how to turn it into a perfect desktop, and therein noted one big omission. Steam.

My desktop enhancement article did not have any instructions for this gaming platform. The reason is, at the time of my testing and writing, it was near impossible installing Steam on Rocky. But it can be done, if you're diligent enough. Now, let me show you how.

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Updated: July 5, 2021 | Category: Linux

IdeaPad 3 & Fedora 33 review

All right, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another installment in the Adventures of the Curmudgeon. Today, your favorite chipper Internet persona will try Fedora 33 (not 34, not a typo) on his latest test-dedicated box, one Lenovo IdeaPad 3 laptop, currently triple booting Windows and a couple of distros. What makes things extra interesting is the AMD processor + Vega graphics combo.

Now, as you know, I've already tried Fedora 33 on my older G50 box, and it wasn't a very good experience. I did manage to make the system work and behave after a series of rigorous tweaks, but in essence, tweaks are the nerd's nature's way of compensating for inherent failings in the default design. That is unlikely to change much today, so if you are not in the mood for yet-another-Gnome-not-Gnome review where the person talks about buttons and Activities and whatnot ... skip this. Otherwise, proceed to read, pray.

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Updated: July 2, 2021 | Category: Windows

Windows 11 Dev build installation guide

Ah, Windows 11. The last Windows you'll ever need ... plus one. Marketing slogans aside, let's focus on the technical bits and pieces. Mostly. As it happens, in June, Microsoft announced the next major release of their operating system. It's going to be called Windows 11, it comes with a revamped user interface, it has new hardware requirements, and a few other important details. Before we can discuss all of those, we need to set up Windows 11.

This turned out to be far harder than I wanted or expected. As a member of the Windows Insider Program since the early days of Windows 10, I have been able to enroll various devices and try new builds without any issues. However, this time, I hit a whole bunch of snags. Almost like that song by Human League, Don't You Want Me Babe. Therefore, I decided to write a pre-review article, which only details my getting Windows 11 installed experience first, before we move onto the actual review. So let's have a look.

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Updated: July 1, 2021 | Category: Linux

Plasma customization

A few weeks back, one of my readers contacted me and asked me if I could do an article, newbie style, explaining the steps I take in customizing the vanilla Plasma desktop to my liking. And I thought, why not indeed. Although I've done this exercise many times before, in various shapes and forms, I've never explicitly went through it in one go, as a complete, sequential piece.

Well, today, I shall rectify that. But let us set the expectations ere you continue any further. One, you should go through my Linux section and read a dozen odd guides on various Plasma tools and features. Perhaps start with my Plasma is the best piece, and then continue yonder. Two, this is MY customization, so if you don't like the Dedoimedo Haute Couture, then stop, in the name of love. Three, Plasma doesn't really need any tweaking. But it's a flexible desktop, and it lets you do whatever you like, thus everything I'm going to show you today can be accomplished with zero command line and zero third-party tools. Begin, we must.

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Updated: June 28, 2021 | Category: Linux games

SimCity 4 saves & Steam Proton

Not that long ago, SimCity 4 was resurrected. It became alive on Steam, a game you could buy and download and play and enjoy. I recently tried it - but not as you think. I actually installed it in Linux, using the Proton compatibility layer, and things were swell. Which brought about some sweet memories.

I had spent months of my time creating a beautiful mega-region, with 4.5 million people in some 60+ cities. This endeavor took a lot of work, I was using half a dozen mods to make SimCity 4 do some extra wonders for me, and once I was done, I copied my game save into a special backup folder. I didn't want to lose such a precious achievement. That was 2008-ish or so. Now, I had the game on Steam, but how does one go about loading those old region saves?

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Updated: June 25, 2021 | Category: Linux

Interview: KDE, Nate Graham

Today, I have something new and fresh for you. Back in 2016-2017, I conducted a number of interviews with interesting people in the tech world (Linux and the Internets), shedding light on their endeavors, projects and passions. Then, there's been a quiet period, interviews wise, and now, it is time to do so again. Today's voluntary scapegoat is Nate Graham.

If you're a Linux person, and you happen to be using KDE, then you must have come across Nate, most likely on his personal blog, Pointiest Stick, where he shares big weekly updates on all the good, cool, new, fun, and adventurous stuff going on in the KDE world. I have had brief online encounters with Nate here and there, and I have always liked his cheerful yet punctual approach to software. So I thought, why not interview Nate, and have him share his views, ideas and some of that sweet insider knowledge from behind the Plasma curtain. You should find this article doubly interesting, as I've already had an interview session with KDE's Seb and Bhushan five years back. Perhaps Nate can give us a perspective of what happening in the past few years, and what's coming. Commence to start.

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Updated: June 23, 2021 | Category: Linux

Plasma desktop, HD scaling & snaps guide

I like the topic of HD scaling in Linux desktops. Like fonts, it's one of the most neglected areas of user experience in the Tux space. By and large, Plasma is the only environment that does scaling well. The other desktops sort of get along with full-integer scaling, font DPI tweaks, and, if you're lucky, some fractional scaling, with 25% increments and such.

Things get extra interesting when you use Plasma with non-native applications, i.e., stuff that goes beyond the default Plasma set. I talked about this in my first article on HD scaling in Plasma, where I showed you a whole bunch of tweaks for software like Firefox, Chrome, old GTK2 stuff, and such. Now, I want to elaborate and show you how to scale snaps, in those scenarios where the scaling does not work well out of the box. Follow me.

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Updated: June 21, 2021 | Category: Linux

Rocky Linux 8 & perfect desktop guide

Several days ago, I tested Rocky Linux, a community-led CentOS successor, created following the decision by the CentOS team to discontinue version 8 ahead of its long-off long-term EOL. Long [sic] story short, my first impression of the preview release was decent - decent enough to try to polish it up for home use.

Thus, we embark on another desktop beautification journey. In a manner similar, perhaps even identical to what I've done with CentOS 6, CentOS 7 as well as CentOS 8, and let's not forget Fedora either, right, I want to do the same here. I want to show you all the different tweaks you need to transform a rather dull server distro into a desktop system, replete with nice software, good looks plus the rock-solid stability and longevity. Now, embark on this journey, we must.

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Updated: June 17, 2021 | Category: Virtualization

LXD & Docker container nesting

Welcome to Arcane Weekly. Today, I want to talk to you about a problem you're not likely to encounter, but if you do, then you'd want a quick and handy solution. Tools at hand: LXD containers, Docker. Mission at hand: You want to run the two at the same time. More specifically, you want to spawn a LXD container, and then inside it, start a Docker container. Why? Why not.

Then, the problem you have is as follows. The Docker execution fails with the following error: docker: Error response from daemon: OCI runtime create failed: container_linux.go:367: starting container process caused: process_linux.go:495: container init caused: rootfs_linux.go:60: mounting "proc" to rootfs at "/proc" caused: permission denied: unknown. Lots of text there. Let's debug this, shall we?

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Updated: June 14, 2021 | Category: Game reviews

Workers & Resources: Soviet Republic industry guide 4

If you've not caught wind of my unbounded enthusiasm for Workers & Resources, a fabulous industry tycoon game, then you're about to receive a fresh dose of superlatives and praise, as well as a detailed guide on how to create a perfect, self-sufficient economy in your Republic. Long story short, I bought the game a few months ago, quickly got addicted, furiously crammed in several hundreds of hours of play, and wrote a bunch of articles to try to help you figure out its somewhat difficult and definitely complex economy industry mechanism.

Those tips and tricks are outlined in my three guides - one and two and three - the last of which focuses on mega-industry, with shipping as the primary transport mode. There, I showed you a massive city, with seven or eight separate zones, about 300K people, 50-60 chemical factories, 20-odd plastic factories, full car and aircraft industries, 85,000 tons of crop import annually, and a lovely 100M rubles turnover. But how about something much simpler, smaller? Guide number four, if you please. Forsooth.

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Updated: June 11, 2021 | Category: Internet

Firefox 89 review

Every few years, like a celebrity well past their prime, Firefox undergoes a facelift. Version 89 brings the latest round of visual changes to the table, bundled under the name of Proton. Well, we had Australis, then Quantum came along, side by side with the massive overhaul of the extensions framework. Now, it's time for another upheaval.

I did briefly look at the Proton preview functionality in the Nightly Build some time back. I wasn't impressed. But then, most if not all of visual changes that went into Firefox in the past six or seven years have been unnecessary. Australis came with silly-shaped tabs, like Chrome. Quantum finally undid this nonsense, and for a change, it brought back some visual clarity and consistency to Firefox's design, much like Firefox used to be before version 4.X and the whole rapid-release trainwreck. Let's see what Proton does.

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Updated: June 10, 2021 | Category: Linux

Rocky Linux 8 fonts

Sometimes, I feel like Phil in Groundhog Day. I wake up, I log into this or that distro, and then I have to face the issue of suboptimal fonts all over again. Problems that should not have existed a decade ago, let alone not have been fixed, seem to crop up, now and then, with almost evolutionary stubbornness. My latest set of sadness: the font clarity in Rocky Linux 8, an otherwise fine system.

By and large, I was quite happy with this CentOS-reincarnated distro. It follows in the same vein as its spiritual ancestor, and I was able to spit and polish the ordinarily server system into a very decent home offering without too much trouble. But the one issue that dejected me properly: fonts. For some reason, the desktop stuff looked okay, but in Web browsers, the text was thin, washed out, and you could actually see the color outline of antialiasing. Not good. Anyway, let us fix, shall we.

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Updated: June 7, 2021 | Category: Linux games

Steam Proton compatibility

Playing Windows games on Linux is a unicorn. Magical. Weird. But in recent years, it's sort of become a large-nosed horse. Maybe. Whatever the analogy or whatnot, the gaming parity between these operating systems remains one of the primary reasons why people, even if all other circumstances align just right, cannot use Linux as their everyday driver. Games!

For years, I've been exploring the different solutions and tools, which promise this or that level of support for Windows games. I tried pure WINE, I tried various WINE helper scripts. I fiddled with PlayOnLinux, and I also tried the early release of Proton, the Steam gaming compatibility framework, which is designed to bridge the gap between the two worlds. It was also the most reasonable solution so far. If you think about it, if there's chance to make Linux gaming truly happen, it's Steam. So I figured, let's do another Proton review.

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Updated: June 4, 2021 | Category: Linux

Plasma Krunner review

Krunner is a multi-purpose application launcher built into the Plasma desktop. Fact. What makes it worthy of mention, you may ask? Well, first, because it's good. Really good. We talked about it in the past, and then I also did separate review of two other launchers of similar nature, both of which were non-default additions to this or that desktop. But we're not here to discuss these other projects, we're here to talk about Krunner and its merits.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece about Plasma, praising its many excellent features and tools. One of the entries I decided to include was Krunner. But since it's too complex and useful to review in just a few short, quick sentences, I decided to do a proper, separate article. Similar to my 2015-ish endeavor, I want to tell you more about Krunner and what it does. Has anything changed in the last six odd years? Let's have a look.

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Updated: June 2, 2021 | Category: Linux

Plasma Tiled Menu review

Would you like to have a tiled menu in Plasma? Maybe. Yes? Well, read on! As it happens, a few weeks ago, I tried to make the Plasma desktop look like Windows 10. One of the ingredients needed to bake this delightful cookie was Tiled Menu, available as an optional extra to Plasma users when it comes to the system menu look & feel. By default, Plasma users get three choices - menu, launcher, dashboard. Now, there be a fourth way.

Tiled Menu lives as a widget in Discover. It ain't always easy to find, but it's there, and it's available to anyone on Plasma 5.12 and above. It offers a Windows 10 behavior, and if this be your thing, you can have it. Boom. The widget comes with tons of options, so I thought, perchance we can have an entire article dedicated to it, to go over the different settings and tweaks. All right, onwards then!

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