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

Updated: November 23, 2020 | Category: Linux

Plasmade 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?

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

Updated: October 28, 2020 | Category: Life wisdom

How to become an online warrior

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: October 26, 2020 | Category: Linux

Plasma Breeze theme edit & black fonts

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: October 23, 2020 | Category: Linux

Albert assistant review

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: October 21, 2020 | Category: Linux

Plasma 5.20 review

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

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

Read more ...

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

Somewhere Under the Rainbow

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: October 16, 2020 | Category: Life wisdom

Statistics for Idiots 101

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: October 14, 2020 | Category: Office

SoftMaker Office 2021 Pro review

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: October 12, 2020 | Category: Linux

The Year of Linux dissatisfaction

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: October 9, 2020 | Category: Life wisdom

How to build a perfect IT team

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: October 7, 2020 | Category: Virtualization

KVM - permission denied

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: October 5, 2020 | Category: Hardware

Motorola One Zoom & Android 10

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: October 2, 2020 | Category: Virtualization

QEMU Virgil

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: September 30, 2020 | Category: Linux

RR software debuging

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: September 28, 2020 | Category: Hardware

Xerox B215 multifunction printer review

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: September 25, 2020 | Category: Car reviews

BMW X3 xDrive20d xLINE review

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: September 23, 2020 | Category: Linux

Plasma 5.19 review

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: September 21, 2020 | Category: Linux

RPI4 & Ubuntu MATE

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: September 18, 2020 | Category: Life wisdom

How to tell genuine from fake in 2020

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: September 16, 2020 | Category: Linux

Asus Vivobook & Kubuntu Bionic to Focal upgrade

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: September 14, 2020 | Category: Linux

RPI4, MATE desktop & essential tweaks

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: September 11, 2020 | Category: Linux

Plasma desktop adventures

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: September 9, 2020 | Category: Linux

MX Linux MX-19.2 KDE

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: September 7, 2020 | Category: Internet

OneTab extension (Firefox)

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: September 4, 2020 | Category: Other software

The Powder Toy

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: September 2, 2020 | Category: Linux

Raspberry Pi OS & Network Manager

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: August 31, 2020 | Category: Internet

Firefox 79 for Android review

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: August 28, 2020 | Category: Linux

Slimbook & Kubuntu combat report 13

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: August 26, 2020 | Category: Virtualization

VirtualBox & bridged networking problem

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: August 24, 2020 | Category: Internet

Youtube comments, cookies

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: August 21, 2020 | Category: Multimedia

Libreoffice 7.0 review

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: August 19, 2020 | Category: Office

Libreoffice 7.0 review

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: August 17, 2020 | Category: Linux

RPI4 & Ubuntu MATE tweaks

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: August 14, 2020 | Category: Internet

How to re-use old profile in Firefox

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: August 12, 2020 | Category: Linux

Ulauncher review

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

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

Read more ...

Updated: August 10, 2020 | Category: Games reviews

Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition review

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

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

Read more ...