My new epic biblical mythology novel I Shall Slay the Dragon! has been published. Go get it.

Updated: March 20, 2019 | Category: Linux

KDE neon 5.15 review

Just recently, I reviewed Plasma 5.15, and it was a good, pleasant experience. Throughout my review, I tried to avoid making explicit mentions of the underlying test framework - KDE neon - in order not to confuse the improvements in Plasma with the system itself. Now, it is time to give neon its due.

So today, we will look at KDE neon as a whole, system plus desktop. While a lot of the stuff I covered in the desktop environment test still holds, there's the facet of general usability that goes beyond specific versions of Plasma. My test box be Lenovo G50. Now, follow me.

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Updated: March 18, 2019 | Category: Windows

Windows 10 OneDrive shortcut

As far as operating systems go, Windows 10 is a fairly in-yer-face one. The aggressive marketing approach makes it visible and intrusive, and advanced users who want a quiet, peaceful desktop without any bells and whistles and modern nonsense that makes low-IQ crowds happy worldwide need to go through a bunch of hoops to get things in order. One such example is the OneDrive icon in Windows Explorer.

Now, all in all, not using OneDrive is relatively easy. You can ignore it. You can disable the startup entry. You can even remove it. I've explained all these steps in my Windows 10 ultimate privacy guide. But the one thing that needs extra rigor is a leftover OneDrive icon that shall remain lingering inside Windows Explorer, whether you use the service or not. To wit, we need to remove it and make peace with our OCD demons. A variety of guides shows how to do this, but what if the standard registry hacks don't work? Aha. Follow me.

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Updated: March 17, 2019 | Category: Linux

Slimbook Pro2 & Kubuntu 18.04, report 6

Here we are gathered, for another episode of drama, thrill and technological escapades in the land of Tux. Starring one Slimbook Pro2 in the main role, with a trusty sidekick called Bionic Beaver of the Kubuntu clan. We've had quite a few episodes so far, and they tell a rather colorful story of progress, beauty and bugs.

Over the past few months, I've detailed my usage of the laptop and its operating system in serious, real-life situations, with actual productivity needs and challenges. This isn't just a test, this is running the machine properly. Many things work well, but then, there are problems, too. Of course, you can read all about those in the previous articles, and again, for the sake of simplicity, I'm only going to link to only the last report here. If you're truly intrigued, I'm sure you can find your way around. Now, we continue.

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Updated: March 15, 2019 | Category: Linux

GSConnect

A couple of months back, I wrote my state of Gnome apps article on OCS-Mag. One of the readers commented on the piece, and suggested that I look at GSConnect, a Gnome version of the popular KDE Connect tool. Intrigued, I set about exploring, and after a brief perusal, testing this program.

Now, GSConnect is a Gnome Shell extension and a complete implementation of KDE Connect, with browser integration and whatnot. The utility does not require KDE to work, or the desktop application. But it does comes with all the goodies that its spiritual inspirator provides. Well, time to fire up a Fedora box and commence to start testing. Let's see what gives.

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Updated: March 14, 2019 | Category: Linux

Plasma 5.15 review

It's that time of the year - there's a new Plasma release, this one labeled 5.15. If you've followed my Plasma escapades of late, then you're aware of my enthusiasm for this desktop environment, plus the fact I've been using the environment in a serious, real-life production mode on my Slimbook machine, trying to ascertain whether Linux can be mustered for everyday activities, the whole plethora of it. This quest comes with its own deck of articles, aptly dubbed combat reports, now at number five and counting.

This means I am rather fanboyishly enthused about this latest version, as I'm always keen to discover new features, and better yet, learn about all the fixes and improvements added to the existing stack. There is a lot of great momentum in the Plasma world, and the desktop is speeding toward the Pro Station like an unstoppable bullet train. Let's see what 5.15 brings to the table.

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Updated: March 11, 2019 | Category: Linux

Asus eeePC & Bionic Plasma

Show must go on. A couple of days ago, we talked about my old eeePC netbook, and how it copes with modern operating systems and modern needs. Following an upgrade from Xubuntu 16.04 to 18.04, I am rather sorry to say this ancient, decade-scarred machine is struggling with the gluttony that is the present-day software.

But not all is lost. There is still some hope. And it comes in the form of the Plasma desktop. I am more than pleased with Plasma, and its low, frugal footprint makes it ideally suited for an underpowered platform like my netbook. So once again, we commence, full of emotions and dedication. Let's see if the Plasma desktop can give this old box a fresh life. After me.

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Updated: March 9, 2019 | Category: Short stories

The Man Who Sold the World short story

"What is your name?"

"Vasher of Dannath."

"And what is your trade?"

"I'm a unicorn hunter."

There, that look, Vasher thought. He always got that look when he told people what he did for a living. "Among other things," he continued as he spotted a breach in the clerk's defenses. "I am renown for hunting all things magical. Dragons, faeries, goblins, you name it. I've seen them all, and I've hunted them all."

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Updated: March 8, 2019 | Category: Hardware

Motorola Moto G6 review

At the end of 2019, something really awful is going to happen. Windows Phone is officially going to be kaput. And that means my super-awesome Lumia 950 will have become a collector's item. The dwindling arsenal of usable applications is already felt, and things won't improve as time ticks by. Which is why I decide to prepare and start considering the inconsiderable. Using an alternative mobile device.

I've been a proud Nokia and then Lumia user my whole life - at least the portion that applies to mobile devices, that is, and the notion of having to go with Android or iOS does not make me too happy. But then, things might not be that bad. Hence, Motorola Moto G6. You've already read my review of the Moto G4 dual-SIM model a couple of years back, so I thought testing a successor model might be a sensible idea for a future eventuality. All in all, Android has made some rather serious progress since I've first tested it roughly seven years back (and to be fair, iPhone is also less annoying than it used to be), and if anything, this could be the right no-choice for me. So let's see what gives.

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Updated: March 6, 2019 | Category: Linux

Zorin 12.4 review

It's been some three years since I last tested Zorin OS, and back then, it was a beta version. I hadn't been too impressed, and the experience was rather bland. But three years is half an eternity in Linux terms, so it's time for another review. Besides, I was looking at the list of potentially interesting distros to test, and I do have to say, it does feel rather quiet, maybe even slightly despondent.

Today, Zorin stands at version 12.4, but that on its own does not say too much. Lots of Ubuntu under the hood, a heavily customized Gnome theme, and now, there's also a payware option. You can purchase Zorin Ultimate, which comes with software, games, new themes and wallpapers, and even a support channel. If you don't like this venue, you can use the free (Core) edition. That was my choice for the test - with Lenovo G50 being me scapegoat. We roll.

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Updated: March 4, 2019 | Category: Linux

Plasma X server recovery

Here's an interesting little problem. I was merrily using my Plasma desktop when suddenly it went kaput. But kaput in a bad way, not a good way. This translates into windows decorations being all gone and nothing really responding to mouse clicks. And here comes the conundrum train, nonstop to Foobar. I wanted to restart the Plasma shell and just get back to working - after all, I mentioned this workaround a couple of times in the past, like my Slimbook & Kubuntu combat reports. Indeed. Except ...

This didn't work. In the virtual console (the only thing that actually was working), I had the kstart: cannot connect to X server error. At this point, a reboot or magic were needed, and I really wanted to have to avoid rebooting. In general, rebooting is a lazy way of fixing issues, and it should be done sparingly. So let's talk about a better, less destructive way.

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Updated: March 2, 2019 | Category: Linux

Asus eeePC & Bionic Xfce

The sturdy little Asus eeePC is one of my best purchases ever. This 10-inch machine has served me loyally for almost a full decade, going to places, and I mean going to places. I've used it heavily for travel, and it's done pretty much everything. I wrote books on it, edited media, used encryption, synced 100+ GB datasets with rsync, and it would give me 7-10 hours of battery, even with Wireless turned on. But age takes its toll.

My latest experiment with this machine was upgrading the Trusty instance to Xerus, in both cases with the Xfce desktop. You should really read those two articles first to get the understanding of how time and system change affected this, er, system, rolling from 2015 to 2017 to present day 2019. To-day, I'd like to invite you to a most interesting experiment - to see whether a 10-year-old lowly netbook can still be relevant.

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Updated: February 28, 2019 | Category: Office

LibreOffice 6.2

The world of documents, spreadsheets and presentations is roughly divided into two. There’s Microsoft Office, and then, there’s everything else. In the second bunch, LibreOffice features prominently, often touted as a free alternative, with a wealth of tools, options and features. I am a mostly happy user myself, although I’ve never been able to fully commit to it, for various functional as well as practical reasons. And yet, whenever there’s a new release, especially a major one, my hope soars up, thinking this could be it, the moment of truth.

With version 6.2 freshly launched, I set about testing, to see whether I could perhaps upset the status quo and shift the balance away from a proprietary, payware solution to a free, cross-platform suite. After all, LibreOffice has many merits, but it is not without flaws, either. Anyway, let’s see what gives.

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Updated: February 25, 2019 | Category: Virtualization

Docker & name resolution issues

Hopefully, you will never really need to be reading this article, and you only happen to be here because you are bored or did a wrong kind of search. Or you might actually be facing an issue where your Docker containers do not have Internet access anymore, even though they used to work well, just recently, and you've made no changes to your environment.

This sounds like a very vague problem statement, but this is what I was facing all of a sudden. My containers did not have network access, with the error like Temporary failure resolving URL. It looked like an issue with name resolution, and it bugged me extra, because it was not supposed to happen. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Test host: Ubuntu with systemd - important for latter. Let's proceed slowly.

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Updated: February 23, 2019 | Category: Linux

Plasma menu update

Fellow KDE users, the problem you are facing is as follows: For some odd, sudden reason, the Plasma menu is no longer updating to correctly reflect the state of your installed (and removed) applications. It is showing old, invalid entries, and new programs are not being added. It has also stopped responding to its customary keyboard shortcut.

I've encountered this issue in Kubuntu 18.04 on my Lenovo G50 machine. I don't know what triggered the problem, or when, but it was suddenly there. I spent a while debugging this, and the gist of it be this fine tutorial, which should help you regain your menu functionality back without too much hassle. Follow me.

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Updated: February 16, 2019 | Category: Linux

Xfce apps

Last year, I decided to do a thorough analysis of the KDE and Gnome application stacks, separately, to figure out how complete these two desktop environments really are. I looked at the different application categories, weighed the major advantages and flaws in the popular software, examined some unique entries, and then also talked about what’s missing, the obstacles that keep these environments from being fully independent and 100% user ready, so to speak.

I’d like to examine Xfce next. After all, this is the third most popular Linux desktop environment, barring forks of the other two, and so it merits its own moment of spotlight. But at the same time, Xfce has never really deliberately prided itself at what it can do and offer. It’s always hung to the back, sort of shying away from publicity, being modest and frugal in all aspects. So when you think about Xfce, you don’t normally think about the application stack. You could say it’s a lightweight, simple desktop, but can you name five pure Xfce programs? Aha. Let’s see.

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Updated: February 15, 2019 | Category: Virtualization

VirtualBox & disk resize

Long time ago, I wrote a tutorial showing you how to shrink and expand VirtualBox hard disks. Back in the day, shrinking was easy, but growing disks required imaging. How the tables have turned. Sort of. Starting with VirtualBox 4.X, this virtualization product now allows you to grow disks as well.

Indeed, I had a virtual machine running low on space, so I thought, let's give it a try. The command succeeded, but my disk wasn't growing. I then realized I was using snapshots, and this is something that I've highlighted even in the original guide from ten years ago. Well, this much needed and updated tutorial will show you how to safely and elegantly expand disks even if you do have machine snapshots. After me.

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Updated: February 13, 2019 | Category: Office

Able2Extract Professional 14

PDF time. A few weeks ago, I was asked by the Investintech team to review the latest release of Able2Extract, a versatile conversion software designed to transform PDF documents into a whole range of target formats, including Microsoft Office, OpenOffice, HTML and AutoCAD files, images, and more. I've done several review of this program in the past, the last being Able2Extract 12. Here we go again.

There's a whole bunch of new, interesting features available. Version 14 comes with improved OCR engine, supports Linux, plus it can also create PDF files rather than just convert them. This makes for a nice basket of options, and a solid test case. All right, let's see what gives.

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Updated: February 11, 2019 | Category: Internet

Firefox pinned tabs

Here's a curious corner case for you. About a year ago, Firefox Quantum introduced a whole bunch of radical changes in how it works and behaves, the biggest among them the switch to WebExtensions. This move made a lot of friendly, powerful extensions not work anymore, including a range of tab management addons. On the upside, Firefox also brought about the integrated tab pinning feature. It works nicely. But.

Pinned tabs will detach from the tab bar and position themselves to the left, somewhat like a typical desktop quicklaunch icon area. So far so good, but the corner case be here! As it happens, the pinned tabs are relatively narrow, which means quick stab 'n' open action isn't quite possible. You need to be accurate positioning your mouse cursor, and that could slow you down. There does not seem to be a trivial option to change the width of the pinned tabs. Hence this guide.

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Updated: February 9, 2019 | Category: Internet

Firefox Quantum session manager

Back in the good ole days, Firefox had a wealth of excellent, powerful extensions. Among them, Tab Mix Plus with a superb built-in session manager. Come Firefox Quantum (57 onwards) and WebExtensions, a lot of goodies have gone away, forever. We are left with diminished functionality.

One of the things that I've been hunting after the most is a flexible session manager akin to the old stuff, with the ability to manage multiple sessions in a smart, simple, elegant way. I think I've finally found an addon that does the trick. It's called Session Sync, and I'm happy enough to actually write a whole article about this.

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Updated: February 8, 2019 | Category: Windows

Windows 10 Build 1809 upgrade

The article you're about to read has two purposes. One, show you (and possibly entertain you with) my experience around the upgrade to Windows 10 Build 1809, and all that it entails. Two, review the new version of this operating system and highlight the changes and differences from the previous edition. Now, you may ask, why only now?

Well, first, you should never rush updating your system. You should wait at least a month, let others play the ignoble role of the Charge of the Light Brigade. Then, once the issues are solved, you can then update without fearing problems. I've advocated this approach forever, and turns out, the Build 1089 update proved me more than right. It was released with so many issues - the modern software thingie, right - that Microsoft actually paused the update for a while, before restoring it. Still, three months down the road, I still didn't have it. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

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Updated: February 7, 2019 | Category: Linux

Slimbook Pro2 & Kubuntu 18.04, report 5

Let us continue our testing saga. Long story made longer: I got meself a Slimbook Pro2 and installed Kubuntu on it, and then started using it in earnest, earning and burning, shake and bake. Over the past few months, I delighted you (maybe) with real-life, no-nonsense, production-setup reports on this experience, parts one through four. I'm just gonna link the last, fourth report, 'cause if you like, you'll read more, right?

I find this journey important and useful, for myself - and for you, too. Linux is often mentioned as an alternative to Windows, but that's a throwaway statement. There are a lot of things one must consider to be able to use an operating system in their production setup. This article is the continuation of my noble attempt to do so, and expose all the ailments along the way. Today, I'll shed some fresh light on yet more findings, new bugs, new issues - and new delights, too. After me.

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Updated: February 4, 2019 | Category: Office

Google Docs review

When people talk about online office suites - cloud included - they often focus on relatively simple use cases, mostly the use of storage for photos and videos, some sharing, mail, and an odd document or two. But there isn't enough mention of what happens when you actually do use online suites in anger. And by anger I mean volume and quantity.

As oft happens, necessity is the father of all excuses, which is how I came about using Google Drive office suite functionality (let's call it Google Docs) and G Suite for more than just casual stuff. I got meself writing a new technical book on system administration ethics, and this meant collaboration across oceans and continents, frequent online word exchange and such. A splendid opportunity to trial, test, evaluate and judge. To wit, this review.

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Updated: February 2, 2019 | Category: Internet

Firefox 65 slowness

Well, well, I've encountered a new, interesting and - ultimately - annoying problem. On one of my Windows machines, I upgraded Firefox to version 65. Then I noticed that the close sequence for the browser takes a very long time. Previously, this would be a very short thing - 1-2 seconds max. Now, it was taking a whole minute and eating one core worth of CPU. So I decided to dig into this issue more deeply and figure out whether this is something in my own setup or a fresh issue in Firefox.

As always, the Internet wasn't very helpful. I had the usual slew of recommendations - update drivers, refresh this, refresh that. The worst kind of suggestions that completely ignore the problem or the reasons why it manifested. After all, if you don't understand the issue, making changes only masks the whole thing in the long run. To that end, I set about doing this the right way. Follow me.

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Updated: February 1, 2019 | Category: Linux

MX Linux MX Tools review

Several weeks ago, I tested MX Linux MX-18 Continuum, a lightweight Xfce-clad distro that aims to be uber friendly, nice and useful. The aim is well on target, because MX Linux has been gaining a lot of momentum in the past couple of years. It's become a hot cake among the distros, and for a good reason. It works really well.

Part of the charm is having all the fun bits out of the box. But there's another little sweet in the jar, and that's MX Tools. A combo of utilities that help you manage your distro in a newb-tender fashion. I've dipped my fingers into this proverbial bowl a few times, and I really liked it. My 2018 report was all superlatives and whatnot. Which means, we ought to retest. And so we are.

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Updated: January 30, 2019 | Category: Linux

Notepad++ in Linux

I really like Notepad++. I think it's the best, most convenient text editor around, with a simple interface, tons of useful commands and options, and a wealth of lovely plugins, all of which transform a simple text pad into a powerful, flexible document processor. Whether you're working on notes, Web pages or complex software code, Notepad++ does it all. There's only one problem - it's a Windows application.

In my Slimbook & Kubuntu reports, I remarked on the shortcomings of different text editors in Linux, all of which pushed me to using Notepad++ on Linux, something I tried to avoid. Now, Notepad++ does not run natively on Linux, so I had to use WINE, and this introduced a whole bunch of other complications. HD scaling in Plasma is tricky for WINE software (and in general, for various compatibility reasons), and you need custom tweaks to get a shortcut icon pinned to the Plasma task manager. In this guide, I'd like to highlight a few tricks you can use to make Notepad++ look and behave beautifully in Linux.

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Updated: January 28, 2019 | Category: Short stories

Just a Silly Robot

"The Drake Equation is a bitch."

No, I should not be using those words, the Analytical Survival Robot (ASR) told itself. But then, hundreds of years spent among humans had taught him to learn and embrace their colloquialisms.

And my name is not ASR. It's Ashree, the robot told it – him – self. He. I'm a he.

The equation, as it stood, uttered by one Drake of Earth a good solid two millennia earlier, still stood valid. The universe was unfathomably vast, the distance from Earth to other stars and their habitable planets impossibly great, and space travel dismally slow. Lethally slow.

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Updated: January 27, 2019 | Category: Greatest sites

Greatest sites

The Internet is slowly, gradually getting smaller and less fun, but there are still a few nice, decent websites out there. Today, I'd like to present two fresh entries to my Greatest sites list. The first one, BetterExplained, is dedicated to education, and teaching mathematical concepts in a simple, friendly, intuitive manner. Plus, you don't just learn how, you also learn why.

The second one, Phoronix, is all about Linux hardware reviews, performance and open-source benchmarks. In a world dominated by fluff, hard numbers are hard [sic] to come by, and Phoronix is one of the few sources that follows the rigor of proper experiment. A very good place to start your hardware quest.

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Updated: January 25, 2019 | Category: Linux

Flameshot

What’s your unicorn, someone asked. The answer is, a really nice screenshot tool, so that I can do my software reviews with speed, elegance, delight, and, most of all, efficiency. With roughly 5,000 screenshots manually created every year, excluding the automated in-game stuff and whatnot, I am in a dire need of a program that will allow me to waste as little time on image processing as possible. So far, I haven’t really found a perfect match.

I complained about this in my KDE apps review article. Most programs have some decent and redeeming features, but they all miss a crucial something. In theory, Plasma’s Spectacle COULD be the tool, except it forces shadows onto images, so if you want clean screenshots without massive alpha channel, you need to manually waste time cropping and cleaning. Hence, my choice at the moment is a much simpler Gnome screenshot. But is there a superior alternative? Well, according to rumors and comments, Flameshot ought to be bee’s knees. Tested, I have.

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Updated: January 23, 2019 | Category: Office

A day in office without MS Office

Consider the following claim: office work is synonymous with Microsoft Office, and it's not just because of the name. Over the past twenty-odd years, for most people laboring in a seated position in front of a computer monitor, the tools of the trade, apart from varying amounts of verbal nonsense, are the Office suite programs, most notably Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Outlook. Take these away, and the galaxy collapses.

Whether you agree if this is for a good reason or not, the facts remain. Now, I decided to test whether this situation can be altered. In other words, I decided to try using LibreOffice and Google Docs for serious work. Extended, meaningful, serious work. Not just an odd document or two, but months of use and collaboration with real people, my nonexistent friends and some colleagues. While I do want to dedicate a separate article to Google's online suite, here, I'd like to give you an overview of what was it like to be on that Holiday site. If you dig the quote, you dig. So, can one ditch Microsoft Office? Or should one? Now, let's roll.

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Updated: January 21, 2019 | Category: Virtualization

VirtualBox 3D acceleration & black screen

Virtualization is a nice, convenient technology that lets you incept your operating systems - you run an operating system on top of another, a computer inside a computer, and this means flexibility, legacy support, ability to test software on multiple platforms, isolation, and then, somewhat limited support for fancy graphics.

For a few years now, VirtualBox has had the option to enable 3D acceleration in virtual machines, which can help provide a smoother experience, as some of the graphics-intensive stuff is done more effectively. There has never been a perfect solution, but it's better than nothing, except those situations where things go wrong. Like enabling the VirtualBox Guest Additions and then getting a black screen on next login. Well, we should rectify that. This tutorial shows how to work out of the black screen situation without reinstalling, and even getting proper 3D acceleration enabled.

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Updated: January 18, 2019 | Category: Various

Technology - change for the sake of change

Whenever I encounter the phrase "embrace the change" - online or in real life, my fingers begin to twitch with the onset of rage that I, as a rational being, am able to contain and put aside, and then write an article about, as I'm doing here. Because that phrase, especially when bundled with technology, has become the lazy excuse for sub-mediocre design of products and arbitrary choices (or rather, lack thereof) that define the world today.

So what is this all about? Well, if you happen to use a computer, which you obviously do, you must have noticed the deterioration of quality in software these past few years. Nothing new, plus see above. The "agile" mindset is what has transformed a reasonable practice (i.e. programming) into a beta-quality bugfest of hypes and buzzwords. That wouldn't be so bad and sad if not for the overly enthusiastic borg drones reciting the message all over the place: embrace the change, embrace the change. Welcome to Idiocracy, where newer is always better.

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Updated: January 16, 2019 | Category: Linux

Plasma desktop ergonomics

We've talked about Plasma a lot recently. Even since I've purchased a Slimbook laptop and had it installed with Kubuntu, I've been pestering you with all these reports on serious, productivity usage and the various bugs, issues and snags that I keep encountering along the way. While Plasma is a phenomenally flexible and highly polished desktop environment, there are still things that need to be fixed. Most of them touch on everyday ergonomics.

Today, I want to talk to you about several cardinal new issues I've discovered working with the Plasma desktop environment. Now, it does not mean the desktop is bad - consider the fact it's the only actively developed framework out there I do actually want to use in my production setup in the first place, with Trusty + Unity still holding strong on my Asus Vivobook - but it does mean there's a lot more that can and needs to be done to make Plasma superb. As I've mentioned in my perfection & bugs article, we ain't there yet. Follow me.

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Updated: January 14, 2019 | Category: Linux

MX Linux MX-18 Continuum

The heat is on. The stakes are high. Why, thou asketh? Well, I crowned MX-17 the best distro of 2018, and now I'm testing the successor release, MX-18 Continuum, with all the associated hype and expectation. And that means it must sparkle and shine and be absolutely splendid, because even tiny mistakes will mean it isn't quite as fabulous as the last year's edition.

I have decided to go for two tests - first run MX on my newer Lenovo box, with Intel graphics, and then, provided there ain't no disaster, commit the distro on the old LG machine - which is showing signs of age, like the inability to run latest Fedora smoothly, for instance - complete with Nvidia graphics and a plan to use it more extensive in a sort of lightweight long-term test a-la my Slimbook adventure. But all that's distant future. We begin with the first boot.

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Updated: January 12, 2019 | Category: Game reviews

ArmA3 Chernarus Winter

You know it. ArmA 3 is the only FPS worth playing. For nearly two long decades, the Operation Flashpoint franchise has dominated the genre of serious war simulation, with nothing else coming close. A golden standard to realism. And fun, too.

A big part of the joy factor comes from the community maintaining the thousands of maps, scenarios, mods, and other add-ons that make the game superb and fresh. Feeling nostalgic? Operation Flashpoint stuff at your disposal rendered in modern graphics. There you go. ArmA 2 maybe? That can be arranged. After all, Chernarus has always been a darn good map, and it had that Cold War feel that Altis and Stratis don't really offer. So you can imagine my delight when I discovered the Winter edition!

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Updated: January 11, 2019 | Category: Linux

Slimbook Pro2 & Kubuntu 18.04, report 4

Still more miles under the proverbial webbed feet of me Plasmatic penguin. In other words, it's time for another combat report of my Slimbuntu journey, where hardware AKA Slimbook Pro2 meets operating system AKA Kubuntu Bionic. A nice, decent combo, if you ask me.

But there are problems, too. For 'tis a perilous journey, and there be dragons. And bugs. So we're continuing mission, to seek out new use cases and new applications, to boldly chart the productivity path. Anyway, forgive my tripping, take a look at reports one, two and three, and join me for another dash though the open-source savannah. Ahem.

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Updated: January 9, 2019 | Category: Linux

Linux Mint 19.1 Tessa

A new year is upon us. This means more distro testing. More fun, more tears, fresh hopes, resurging desperation. Which of these shall the great Lottery of Tux draw out for us on this day, people are asking. Well, it really depends how rad and enjoyable Linux Mint Tessa can be. For we are reviewing.

The LTS edition - Tara - was reasonable. Nothing special - a far cry from the stellar perfection that Mint once had, year after year. Just adequate, with the right dose of friendly and bad blended together, and then some extra fun after modifications and tweaking. Hopefully, Mint 19.1 should build on a solid-ish foundation, improve upon it, iron out some of them early bugs and problems, and give us a refined experience. One can hope, and one will test. Commence.

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Updated: January 7, 2019 | Category: Virtualization

Boxes virtualization

A name was mentioned. An application was tested. In my Gnome apps review from several weeks back, one of the comments pointed out Boxes, a virtualization product that is native to this desktop environment, and which I completely missed. Indeed, as far as software goes, there are no other desktop-specific virtualization products.

To amend my wicked ways, I decided to do a full, proper test. But not only. Another reason for looking at this tool is because virtualization is, inherently, NOT meant to be easy. Therefore, a virtualization product that hails uber simplicity sounds like a contradiction. You can’t expect people to be testing operating systems and then also act all clueless about things like drivers, mouse integration or CPU extensions. It’s like being a helicopter pilot. Only different. Let’s test.

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Updated: January 6, 2019 | Category: Office

LibreOffice productivity tweaks

Welcome. Wilkommen. Bienvenuti. This article is part of my neverending series of articles on making your life better, smarter, faster, more efficient - with technology. Specifically, a few months ago, I bought myself a new laptop, a Slimbook Pro2, and installed Kubuntu 18.04 on it. Then, I started using this Kubuntu in earnest, and began uncovering all sorts of bugs and issues.

Some of these escapades are covered in my Slimbook reports one and two and three. And some of the annoyances mentioned come without trivial solutions. Since I can't let things rest, I began exploring in more depth ideas and tweaks that allow both Gtk and KDE software to work nicely on a small-size HD display, replete with good font clarity, readable UI and such. LibreOffice is normally okay, but I did encounter fresh new niggles on this journey, so we shall remedy that now.

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Updated: January 4, 2019 | Category: Office

LibreOffice icon themes

In general, the LibreOffice interface has not changed much throughout its history. But there's one noticeable visual element that has changed in recent version of the suite - and that's the use of new UI icons. Not only that, you actually have the ability to change them. Old icons, new icons, Tango, Sifr, Oxygen, take your pick.

But then, what happens if you want to use yet another set of icons that is not listed in the options? Is that even possible? Intrigued, I set about hunting for nice and appealing icon packs for LibreOffice. And of course, I decided to write this tutorial, to actually show you how to setup and use custom icons for this program. After me.

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Updated: January 2, 2019 | Category: Linux

Fedora 29 customization

A conflicting message, you might say. After all, I wasn't too happy with what Fedora 29 delivered on me old laptop with Nvidia, 'twas basically a no-go, but the experience with this distro on my Lenovo G50 machine was pretty good, and there, we had an in-vivo upgrade. And so I decided, despite the woes and problems what I encountered, to actually give you a fresh pimping guide for Fedora.

This is not a new thing, and we've done this many times before. As a baseline, check my Fedora 24 & 25 customization guides, and also, don't forget CentOS, for the idea is very similar. Then, more recently, I've also shown you how to make Fedora 28 very pretty and slick, and today, we shall attempt something similar with the latest release. Follow me.

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