Updated: August 19, 2019 | Category: Books

Book news: problem solving & system administration ethics

I have some nice news for you. Having focused a lot on getting a fresh fiction work out there in the past couple of months, it is almost too easy to neglect mentioning some of the more serious writing I've been doing lately. Plus some rather curious and happy developments. Indeed.

As it turns out, I have completed a new technical book, slightly ahead of schedule, and it's due out soon. And an older volume of work has been translated. Lots of good stuff happening. I hope you will be pleased with this snippet of news as much as I am. Well, let's elaborate, shall we. But not like super long and prosaic beyond recognition. In fact, for real this time, this will actually be a short article, something I rarely do. Let's see what gives.

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Updated: August 18, 2019 | Category: Linux

Manjaro 18.0.4 Illyria Xfce

Well, well. It is time to expand our horizons. That means more distro testing. In particular, I shall continue exploring the Manjaro 18.X range. The Plasma version turned out to be a pretty solid, colorful release. It wasn't perfect, and there were quite a few hardware-related issues with my old Nvidia-powered Pavilion dv6 laptop. But then, there were also tons of unique goodies that convinced me to persevere.

Now (meaning when this article was written, a few weeks back), I want to check the Xfce edition, and see how it fares on my eight-boot G50 laptop, running Windows 10 and a whole crop of different Linux distros, complete with UEFI/GPT and Intel graphics. This is similar to what I've done with Manjaro 17 Hakoila, having tested both the Plasma and Xfce builds. So we begin.

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Updated: August 17, 2019 | Category: Linux

Fedora 30 upgrade

Time for another and possibly last test of the 30th crop of the Fedora grain. So far, we had two. First, I did a fresh install on the Lenovo G50 laptop, with its UEFI + Intel graphics set, and it went quite all right. Then, I ran a similar experiment on the much older HP Pavilion box, with BIOS + Nvidia graphics, and this was a much more disappointing experience, full of bugs and hardware problems.

Still, overall I was pleased somewhat with what Fedora 30 delivered, and I wanted to do a third test, and that would be the upgrade of the Fedora 29 instance sitting in my eight-boot Windows-and-Linux setup on the Lenovo machine. With the system polished up all pretty and functional, this ought to be an interesting experiment, especially on the performance and compatibility fronts, given the changes and tweaks.

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Updated: August 14, 2019 | Category: Linux

Pi-Hole review and tutorial

The modern Internet is a fairly annoying place. Quite often, innocent activities like reading text or watching videos are interrupted by promotional messages better known as ads. This wouldn't be a problem if the ads were relevant, well-timed, or non-intrusive, but despite much "progress" in artificial intelligence, deep learning and other buzzwords, they are none of those. Then, we have privacy and whatnot.

The battle between ad givers and ad blockers rages on. It's also slowly escalating, as more and more people are turning against the aggressive in-yer-face ad model. For the most part, if you use an adblocking extension in your browser, you're all set. But then, you're at the mercy of the browser company and what they allow, plus this doesn't always work in every browser and/or operating system. The solution is to complete block network requests to ad servers, and this is what Pi-Hole does. Let's review.

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Updated: August 12, 2019 | Category: The Hall of Fame

Greatest sites

I have just updated my Greatest sites page with two fresh items of goodness. The Internet just got better. Item number one: Sometimes, a rather unassuming website name can hide a lot of goodies under its cloak of modesty. The Register is a good example. Think Dad's Army meets IT meets science. That's the crux of The Register, a very neat and humor-flavored (or rather humour-flavor, this being the British site and all) domain that dabbles in all things hax0ry and technological.

Item number two: Vasily's blog may be a new thing, but it comes loaded with rich, colorful articles full of self-deprecating humor and tongue-in-cheek references to the steaming pile of buzzword dung that is polluting the oceans of the Web. Vas3k, at your service.

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Updated: August 1, 2019 | Category: Linux

Slimbook & Kubuntu combat report 10

The mission continues. We're now in the Delta Quadrant, chasing the Borg. Or rather, you are reading my tenth Slimbook report. If you've got some time, you should read the first through ninth installment. If you ain't got time for that, the long story short is that I've bought a Linux laptop, and I'm using it for realz, production stuff, serious work. And does it work?

Well, quite so. In fact, while there are many subtle differences between the worlds of Linux and Windows desktop, the big differentiating factors are gaming and office. That's all. But the devil is in the detail, which is why you're reading this piece now. Let's see what happened in the past few weeks.

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Updated: July 17, 2019 | Category: Linux

Health-check tutorial

Good system troubleshooting tools are everything. Great tools, though, are harder to find. Luckily, Linux comes with a wealth of excellent programs and utilities that let you profile, analyze and resolve system behavior problems, from application bottlenecks to misconfigurations and even bugs. It all starts with a tool that can grab the necessary metrics and give you the data you need.

Health-check is a neat program that can monitor and profile processes, so you can identify and resolve excess resource usage - or associated problems. Where it stands out compared to the rest of the crowd - it aims to offer many useful facets of system data simultaneously, so you can more easily component-search your systems, troubleshoot performance issues and fix configuration mishaps in your environment. Rather than having to run five tools at the same time, or do five runs to get all the info you need, you just use health-check, and Bob's your distant relative. Good. All right, ready? Proceed.

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Updated: July 15, 2019 | Category: Windows

Windows 7 security-only updates & telemetry

A few days ago, I read a flurry of articles surrounding the July batch of security patches for Windows 7. One of them, the security-only KB4507456 package, available through the Online Catalog (and not WU) seems to contain telemetry code, too - something called Compatibility Appraiser. Hm, naughty.

I decided to check this and see what gives. There are two important findings to this - one, whether Microsoft sneaked in telemetry to Windows 7 in the guise of a security-only fix, and two, the wider implication of this move when it comes to user trust. Let's explore.

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Updated: July 13, 2019 | Category: Linux

Manjaro 18.0.4 Illyria Plasma

It is time to tread perilous waters. Noobs hate him. Master Linux with one little trick. Indeed. Manjaro, an Arch-based system, hardly sounds like a taster's choice for a desktop. And yet, in a world mired in apathy and rehashed content, this distribution is one of the few still delivering unique, original features. Also, quite importantly, it's getting better and better as time goes by.

Yesteryear, I've sampled Hakoila, both the Xfce and Plasma flavors, and found them to be rather solid, dependable, full of curious goodies and delights, and of course, the bane of all small distros, lots of papercuts and odd problems. With Illyria out, it's time to do some fresh testing, and I'll be doing that on my 2010-crop HP Pavilion machine, a dual-boot system with Nvidia graphics and known not to be too friendly hardware-wise to Linuxes out there. But that makes the adventure all the more fun. We begin.

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Updated: July 12, 2019 | Category: Linux

Plasma look like Mac

The world of things falls into three categories - the things you don't want to do but have to, the things you want to do but can't and the things you can do. Skinning your KDE desktop to look like macOS falls in the third category. It serves no higher purpose, philosophical or existential, but it is something that Plasma users have the option to try, and try they will.

I've dabbled in the Mac transformation packs for many years now. The original Macbuntu test was the best. Ever since, the subsequent attempts came out somewhat short. However, I've always done this on Gnome- and Unity-based desktops, never Plasma. Well, that's about to change. We're attempting the unattemptable.

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Updated: July 10, 2019 | Category: Books

Prince Dietrich

There are heroes. There are anti-heroes. And then, there’s Prince Dietrich.

Freshly returned to Monrich from his little escapade of war and deception, the newly wed Prince Dietrich—Dick to his friends—just wants to be left alone, so he can gamble, drink and keep on wishing for the early demise of his father. But King Ulaf is having none of it. He has devised a new challenge for his recalcitrant heir: Dietrich must go to Ostfort and assume the wardenship of the palatine. Or else.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, since it’s Dick we’re talking about…everything. For starters.

The Glorious Adventures of Glamorous Prince Dietrich continues the absurd series of mishaps, accidents, machinations, lies, treachery, lewdness, greed, malice, and mischief that embody our troublesome, misunderstood protagonist.

Dear Dedoimedo readers! I am pleased to announce the release of the second volume in the Woes and Hose grimfun trilogy. Now, this is a great opportunity for you to extend some love and support my way, if you're interested. Thank you, and happy reading!

Amazon book page (external link)

Updated: July 10, 2019 | Category: Linux

OpenSUSE 15.1 review

OpenSUSE will always have a soft spot in my heart. SUSE was my first Linux distro, and for many years, I even used it in my production setup. I had a SUSE box as a network router, I ran VMware Server beta on it long before ESXi existed, and compiled Nvidia drivers from source back in 2005. It was good. But then it ended. I've been trying to recreate the ancient glory for more than a decade, without success. Ever since SUSE 11 or so, the efforts always came up short.

My last test with Leap 15 was an utter disappointment. But every time there's a new release, I reset my emotions meter and start again, hopeful against hope that there will be a majestic renaissance of goodness in the openSUSE world. Anyway, I went to the official site, grabbed the KDE live ISO (weighs less than 1 GB), and then booted on my HP Pavilion laptop. So let's see what happened.

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Updated: July 8, 2019 | Category: Linux

Fedora 30 & Nvidia drivers

As it happens, every few years, I end up writing a new tutorial explaining how to configure proprietary drives in Fedora. The reason is, this has never been a smooth, straightforward process the likes of which you get in many Debian-based distributions. Back in the day, I wrote a relatively simple guide that relied on third-party software to get the job done for you. So far so good.

Then, about two years ago, I also wrote a guide on what you should expect when you upgrade the distribution, in this case from version 24 to version 25, the ensuing problems with the drivers, and the resolution. And now, just several days back, I did a thorough review of the latest edition of Fedora on my HP Pavilion laptop, and it also includes the various pitfalls I faced trying to get the Nvidia drivers installed. So it's time to revisit the topic. Follow me.

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Updated: July 7, 2019 | Category: Linux

Geany text editor

Provided Geany is spelling with a soft g, then the first thing that comes to my mind is Arnie in the sublime role of John Matrix in the ultra-legendary movie Commando shouting Jenny (more like Chenney) in the opening scene. The second thing that comes to mind is, good text editors are hard to find.

I've been hunting for THE Linux text editor for a long time, and somehow, inevitably, slowly but surely, I always end up using Notepad++ through WINE. The combination of a simple, clear interface, a logical flow, and tons of great plugins make it impossible to beat. I've played with lots of text editors, I also frequently use Kate in Plasma, and yet, Notepad++ remains the optimal choice for me. But then, one of me readers mentioned Geany, a GTK+ text editor, which is supposed to be using the SCIntilla text engine, same as Notepad++. Well then. It's testing time!

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Updated: July 5, 2019 | Category: Windows

Windows user backup guide

Several months ago, I wrote an article on how to backup your Linux home directory, including data and application settings plus encryption. This was done using some rather simple tools present in every Linux system, making it usable anywhere, anytime. Then I got your emails and suggestions, calling for an equivalent tutorial for Windows.

At first I considered writing a command-line guide, with Windows shell scripts, but I decided to do something simpler. Most people use Windows visually, so we will do a visual article. I'll show you how to backup all your user data, application and program settings, create a zipped archive and then encrypt it, so you have a portable copy of your stuff should you ever need - perhaps when migrating to a new machine. Let's start.

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Updated: July 3, 2019 | Category: Windows

Windows Defender Application Guard

You all know I'm a sucker for smart, intelligent software. And by that I mean tools that are designed correctly on a philosophical level; they solve strategic problems rather than tactical annoyances. In Windows, two prime examples of such design are EMET and Exploit Mitigation, fire-and-forget security concepts that don't use the outdated blacklist model of filtering out bad software. Instead, they use a philosophical approach of filtering out illegal memory instructions. It doesn't matter what your app is, if it behaves badly, it goes down.

This means I was quite intrigued and almost ended up being keen after reading about a recently unveiled Microsoft software solution called Windows Defender Application Guard, which uses hardware isolation to block threats. Sounds like my kind of tool. No signatures, no chasing one's tail. Instead you get isolated browsing instances, and whatever happens inside them, stays inside them. Like Las Vegas. So I started testing.

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Updated: July 1, 2019 | Category: Office

PDF file edit in LibreOffice Draw

Necessity is the mother of all inventions. So they say. Indeed, a few days ago, I encountered a curious use case, and I went a-huntin' for a solution to the issue I was having. Namely, I wanted to fill a PDF form with necessary information, without having to actually print the document and write by hand. But the file didn't have interactive fields, and there was nothing in Okular (Plasma's PDF reader) other than annotations that would let me insert text into the document.

I started fiddling and testing, and realized that there wasn't a trivial solution to my need. Then, I decided to give LibreOffice more scrutiny. After all, it can create as well as open PDF files, so maybe this is the right approach? Well, it is! Let me show you how you can use LibreOffice Draw to make the necessary changes in PDF documents and forms, even if they don't have interactive fields. After me.

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Updated: June 29, 2019 | Category: Linux

Lubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo

Here we are, expanding our horizons. And there, just peeking over the edge of Earth's curvature is the shy runt of the Ubuntu pack, Lubuntu. Not one to grab the spotlight that often, it's the self-professed lightweight edition of the family, designed around Qt technology and applications. My experience with it has never been awesome, but hey, there's always an opportunity to be surprised. Perhaps today.

We've seen Kubuntu, Xubuntu and Ubuntu MATE in action. Most showed reasonable results, some new and interesting features, and a bucket of issues, which is (and yet isn't) expected from interim short-support releases. My test machine is going to be a Lenovo G50 with Intel graphics, and we commence.

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Updated: June 28, 2019 | Category: Linux

Slimbook & Kubuntu combat report 9

Linux, the final frontier. These are the voyages of OSS Dedo, his continuing mission, to test his Slimbook laptop, to use Kubuntu in a production manner, to boldly write about what no one has writ before. Yes, indeed. You dig? We're now commencing the ninth report on my Slimbook & Kubuntu saga. That means there's a whole bunch of reading for you right there.

This time around, it's all about hardware. I got to play with a whole bunch of devices, and this led to some rather unexpected results on the peripheral front. Namely, I got to configure another printer, and then also tried to hook my new Android-based phone, Moto G6, to Kubuntu Beaver. Let us feast on details, shall we.

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Updated: June 26, 2019 | Category: Linux

Plasma 5.16

One of the fundamental states of matter is having a good desktop environment on which you can do all manner of work and entertainment. In 2019, the list of adequate choices for this complicated task is quite narrow, and soon to get narrower, with the demise of Windows 7 in a few months (or years, if you will). But that may not necessarily be a totally bad thing, because there's Plasma.

I've been using KDE in a serious, production-capacity fashion for a while now, and I'm quite happy. Which means every few months, I get to sample the new ideas and concepts being introduced into this desktop environment, alongside various ergonomic improvements and fixes. The KDE folks have been hard at work making Plasma as good and smooth and professional as possible, and release after solid release, this is exactly what's been happening. The things are steadily getting better. Time to check version 5.16, then. Let us.

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Updated: June 24, 2019 | Category: Office

OnlyOffice Desktop Editors review

The world of documents is neatly divided into two parts - the one where you use Microsoft Office, and the one where you do not. Whatever your say on this matter is, the simple, cruel, practical reality is that most people rely on the former to create, share and receive their files, and they expect Office-like behavior, file format fidelity and everything else. For those people not using Office, especially Linux users, this ain't an easy task.

This ain't a new topic, either. I've talked about the Office compatibility time and again, had Google Docs for a long, thorough spin, and even gave you a day in the office spiel on what it's like not using Microsoft's suite and trying to be productive. So whenever I discover a new program that promises solid compatibility with Powerpoint or Word or alike, I'm more than keen to test and figure out if this is indeed doable. My latest discovery is OnlyOffice, a cross-platform, open-source suite with a free Desktop Editors version. Well, I guess it's testing time! Let's see what gives.

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Updated: June 23, 2019 | Category: Linux games

Lutris

In Linux, typically, when there's a solution to a problem, there are seven other solutions to the same problem. But not so when it comes to Linux gaming. Here, we only have several incomplete solutions to a rather big problem. Steam did massively improve the situation, and it looks like the most mature and likely technology slash software to bring parity to the Linux gaming scene. Still, it's not a perfect fix.

There are many Linux games that don't quite fit the Steam category [sic]. You have old games, indie games with their distribution channels, Windows games that need WINE, and so forth. If you want to have all these under a single umbrella, there isn't really a solution. Well. Maybe. A challenger appears: Lutris. Let's have a review.

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Updated: June 21, 2019 | Category: Linux

Ubuntu MATE customization

Several weeks ago, I reviewed Ubuntu MATE 19.04 Disco Dingo, and found it to be okay but rift with bugs and problems that required a fair deal of customization and changes before I could enjoy it. Some of these necessitated fixing problems, others were merely extras to a solid baseline.

In a manner quite similar to what I've written in my Fedora 30 post-install tweaking guide, I'd like to show you what you can do to make Ubuntu MATE Disco instantly fun and productive. I'd like to help you navigate the MATE desktop, figure out how to handle different layouts, workaround niggles, get extra software, and then some. Proceed gingerly we shall.

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Updated: June 19, 2019 | Category: Linux

Fedora 30 & HP Pavilion laptop

In my Fedora 30 review from a couple of weeks back, I mentioned that I would be conducting additional testing with this distribution, including trying my luck on older hardware, including proprietary graphics. That moment is upon us, so we shall revisit all that we've learned on my HP Pavilion machine.

This is a 2010 laptop, with an i5 quad-core processor, 4GB DDR3 RAM, Nvidia GT 320M card with 1GB VRAM and a 7,200rpm 500GB disk. Still a reasonable system for most practical purposes. Now, if you recall my Fedora 29 test on the somewhat older LG RD510 machine, the results had been less than promising. The performance was quite bad, and the Nvidia setup failed. But there's hope in Gnome 3.32, so this should be an intriguing endeavor. Follow me.

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Updated: June 17, 2019 | Category: Media

Ffmpeg tutorial

Over the years, there were many an occasion when I need to do some form of multimedia editing. Audio, video, you name it. Whether it's creating my unfunny clips for my Youtube channel, extracting or converting music, embedding subtitles, time and again, I would find myself using ffmpeg on the command-line and always enjoying the process while being ever so subtly amazed by this unassuming program's capabilities.

And so I thought, maybe I should write a more comprehensive guide on ffmpeg, one which lists the variety of tasks and functions, and then also wrap them around real-life examples and use cases. While I first mentioned ffmpeg in anger back in my Flash editing tutorial in 2008, it's time for a fresh, up-to-date article. It's going to be command-line, it's going to be nerdy, but it should also be fun. Follow me.

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Updated: June 8, 2019 | Category: Linux

Dstat tutorial

In the world of Linux, the typical trend is to diverge, create new tools, fork and split, leading to an ever growing number of programs and utilities revolving around identical or similar functionality. But sometimes, you get software that does the opposite - trying to combine the usage of multiple programs under a single umbrella, but WITHOUT becoming cumbersome or complicated.

One such handy tool is Dstat, a monitoring application that is designed to replace, or at least supplement, a whole range of system monitoring utilities like vmstat, iostat and ifstat. Dstat aims to be simple, extensible, robust, and accurate. All of these make it a good candidate for a dedicated article. Follow me.

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Updated: June 7, 2019 | Category: Internet

Android 9.0 Pie road test

People often complain how reviews, not just mine but in general, software and hardware, tend to be short and superficial. Kind of one-off thingie. Which is why I always try to do long-term testing with my gadgets, taking them to wondrous places, using them in earnest, trying to expose their weaknesses and foibles.

My current guinea pig is the Moto G6 phone with Android 9.0 Pie. I've recently bought the device as a possible contingency for when my superb Lumia 950 goes tragically end of life. While I intend to use Windows Phone as much as I can, I'm also getting ready for the option of having to make without, hence the purchase and the testing of the Android alternative. You can read all about that in my rather lengthy Moto G6 review. And you can read about my Pie upgrade. Now, some news and delights since.

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Updated: June 5, 2019 | Category: Linux

Fedora 30 & tweaks after install

The title of my article is a bit misleading. It implies that fun and productivity are not to be had in the default guise. In a way, this is true, and it sure is my stance on the matter. Gnome 3 isn't usable in its naked form, and one needs some tweaks and extensions to get the classic desktop experience. And then, you'd also want extra software and visual polish.

We did this with Fedora 29, and we will do this now with Fedora 30. Things will be somewhat similar, but then also a little bit different. Or as they say, same same but different. Have a look at my Fedora 30 review first, make sure you're happy enough to proceed, and then read on.

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Updated: June 3, 2019 | Category: Linux

Slimbook & Kubuntu combat report 8

The Neverending Slimbook. This is the best way to describe my journey with this laptop. But I'm a man on a mission, and you are getting thorough, honest, nothing-held-back reports of my attempt to consume Linux in a production environment with serious, complex use cases and needs. So far, this journey has been a really good one. You can read more about that in no less than seven colorful reports. Start with the last one, of course.

But rest, we cannot. We must continue testing and tweaking and learning. The nice thing about the Plasma desktop is that it isn't boring. That's a really good sign of quality and fun. Ideally, the OS should fade into the background, so you don't notice it, but when you do, it ought to be a pleasant moment. Well, let's see what we can learn today.

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Updated: June 1, 2019 | Category: Linux

Ubuntu MATE 19.04 Disco Dingo

We commence to continue the distro testing. Among the Dingo pack, we sampled Kubuntu and Xubuntu, both of which proved to be rather solid. A cautious yet optimistic beginning of the spring season. Which means it is time to cast our critical eye upon the MATE edition, the stalwart defender of the classic desktop formula, the protector of yore, and perhaps a useful desktop system should all the chakras and technical details align.

MATE Cosmic was decent, with some excellent areas here, horrible areas there, mediocre spots in between, and a good reasonable mix of qualities everywhere else. I remain pleased with the fabulous Boutique package manager and the overall momentum, plus you get lots of freedom in how to customize the desktop. Now though, we must see if and how Disco changes the balance. Tested on my eight-boot Lenovo G50. After me.

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Updated: May 29, 2019 | Category: Internet

Noscript for Chrome

For many years, Firefox had a distinct advantage over other browsers - a superb array of add-ons that could do pretty much anything and everything. Come the era of WebExtensions, this advantage has largely been erased. But one rather important tool (extension) that remained the sole domain of Firefox was the clever and totally awesome security suite called Noscript - the ability to control Javascript on each and every site.

Well, now, there's a fresh version of this add-on also available for Chrome users. Giorgio Maone has decided to try his luck with Chrome, too, and has offered his tool to, well, given the current browser landscape, pretty much everyone. This is an interesting development. Because I'm thinking - will this work on Android? Aha. Anyway, test we must, so test we shall. Let's see.

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Updated: May 27, 2019 | Category: Windows

Karen's Replicator & Windows 10

In Windows, my favorite data backup and replication tool is the simple, humble and super-effective program called Karen's Replicator, which I use with much delight on Windows 7 machines. I also used it for a while on a Windows 8.1 box, but had to stop when it ceased working following a filesystem change after a system update. Since the original developer of Replicator had sadly passed a few years ago, I thought there would be no more program updates, and that would be the end of it.

But one of the family friends picked up the glove and continued working on the program. Since, Karen's Replicator has had several updates, which also include a fix to make it run on Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. Delighted by this news, I grabbed the new version, did some testing, and wrote this article.

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Updated: May 25, 2019 | Category: Linux

Unity desktop & brightness fix

Just recently, I upgraded my Asus Vivobook to Bionic. After five great years, Trusty had come to the end of its supported life, and I had to make a choice. So I did. I made two choices. I upgraded the system, and then decided to test and eventually use both Unity and Plasma desktops, sort of in tandem. In both cases, the results are quite good. Especially with the former, this is rather encouraging, because Unity is no longer an official thing.

The one really outstanding problem that I've discovered in this setup is that my laptop Fn brightness and volume keys had stopped working. Not a major thing, but it does mar the overall feel, plus on laptops, you sort of expect to be able to use them. The rest of the keys work fine (including, for instance, screen off), and there are no such issues in either the Ubuntu (Gnome) or Plasma environments. I spent a bit of time reading, tweaking, and I do have a fix.

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Updated: May 24, 2019 | Category: Linux

Linux & VPN plugin connection failure

This is an obscure problem. An alarming one. But there's a happy ending. So let me introduce the problem statement. On me Slimbook, which happily runs Kubuntu Beaver, I set up a VPN connection, to see how well the operating system handles all manner of things, technologies and use cases. This wasn't trivial, as a necessary package was missing and whatnot, but in the end, I got things running.

Then, suddenly, things stopped running. The VPN would no longer connect, with a rather ambiguous error showing in the system log (nothing else is shown to the user, there's just a silent fail on connect) reading something like: VPN plugin: failed: connect-failed (1). My first thought was, oh noes, a regression. But rather than just blaming Kubuntu, I decided to dig into this some more.

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Updated: May 22, 2019 | Category: Linux

Fedora 30 Workstation

Typically, I care not for release announcements or lists of features available in products as an incentive to sample from said goods. But occasionally, I do see something unique or interesting, and I think, I might as well give it a good look, see what gives [sic]. Case in point, Fedora 30.

As the bleeding edge tech demonstrator slash nerd distro slash Gnome trailblazer, Fedora was often a victim of its own destiny, plus the combination of (until recently) FOSS-only approach limited its appeal to the wider desktop audience. But this changed recently. Fedora 29 had non-free repos available through the Software Center, allowing much easier access to fun stuff. MP3 is no longer taboo. And now Fedora 30 brings in speed improvements, in package management and the desktop. I've always complained about Gnome being slow, so test we must. Begin.

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Updated: May 20, 2019 | Category: Linux

WINE & Mono (dotNET) setup

Linux. WINE. Interesting use case. As it happens, I was playing with WINE, trying to install some Windows software. Turns out, the particular program is available natively, so no biggie, but occasionally, I am trying this framework, to see if it's made progress in becoming simpler and easier.

On this particular rainy day, I was not having success with Mono, or dotNET if you will. The application couldn't run, because there was Mono missing on my Linux box, but getting it configured correctly was far from trivial. Hence this tutorial. Someone somewhere out there may have an obscure use case, and this little guide shall come handy one day. Or not. After me.

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Updated: May 17, 2019 | Category: Car reviews

Volkswagen Passat 2.0 TDI

When it rains, it pours. Or something. Well, shortly after I got the chance to test the Golf 1.6 TDI, the wheel of fortune (alloy not steel) provided me with a short opportunity to drive the Passat, too. One equipped with a 2.0-liter turbo-diesel engine and a six-speed manual gearbox, with a cavalry of 150 horses deployed onto the tarmac. The test was short, but the experience sweet.

Somewhat akin to what I did with Peugeot 208 GTi and Skoda Octavia vRS, I can quickly share the sum of my findings from a single day with a Volkswagen Passat, roughly 500 km worth of roads, mostly on highways and with excellent 80s music playing inside the cabin. Shall we.

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Updated: May 15, 2019 | Category: Linux

Kubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo

We embark on another test, another distro, another review. This time around, we shall glimpse, sample, taste, torture, and examine Kubuntu, the KDE-flavored of them distros of the current spring crop, and it ought to be an interesting exercise. Plasma Cosmic was good, fairly so, bringing back some of the zest [sic] and fire that we saw with Zesty back in the day.

As you know, I'm driving daily with Beaver on my Slimbook, so I'm always very keen on improvements in the Plasma space, as I cast me gaze to the future and wonder how and when and if I'll ever be able to fully and unreservedly embrace Linux for home use. Until that day, I paddle up the distro creek, in pursuit after happiness and high-quality software. Perchance Disco shall deliver. Or will it be deliverance? Let's see.

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Updated: May 13, 2019 | Category: Office

Calibre & KFX conversion

This is a rather interesting topic. Over the years, Amazon have changed the Kindle file format several times. Their digital books came in a variety of formats, including AZW, then AZW3 and finally KFX. The last one is a complex archive that combines numerous features, including typesetting engine, fonts, multi-page thumbnails, and also DRM. I noticed this starting with Decay, one of my books published in 2017.

Reading some more, I realized KFX seemed to include DRM even for books that are not meant to use DRM, and I found this quite weird, because as an author, I have specifically chosen not to publish my own works with any sort of lock-in encryption. So this got me thinking. Is there a way to actually convert KFX into the old format, or other e-book formats, and use them in Calibre and other readers, the way the older formats allowed? Follow me.

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Updated: May 11, 2019 | Category: Internet

Android look like Windows Phone

E.T. phone home? No, Windows Phone home. Aha! So yes, we are here to attempt the unattemptable. Well, not really, because the apps are in the store, and all that, but really, the reason we're here is because I want to try using Windows Phone theming on an Android phone. With the inevitable demise of the Microsoft smartphone line, including my most fabulous Lumia 950, the supreme ergonomics of its tiled user interface will be one sad day consigned to memory. That leaves me and like-minded users with color-iconics approach used by the market leaders, Android and iOS.

I've recently gotten meself an Android phone, to test the waters so to speak, and I'm very pleased with the Moto G6 choice I've made. It's quite reasonable, in all aspects, and if it had the tiled interface, 'twould be superb. As it happens, there are apps of this nature in the Play Store. So I'm testing, and trying to come up with an answer to the important question: can one use a WP-like layout on Android? Well, I tried this four years ago, so now we need to have a second look at this. Follow me.

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Updated: May 10, 2019 | Category: Internet

Android 9.0 Pie update

Me no smart smartphone user. Me someone who likes their things big and comfy and efficient. Tapping with fingers doesn't quite translate into those needs. But ... with Lumia slowly ascending toward the big phonebooth that is in the heaven, alternatives must be evaluated. Hence, Motorola Moto G6, which I find to be a surprisingly good device, Android notwithstanding. On the contrary. This was another solid surprise.

So perhaps there's light at the end of the touch tunnel. As it happens, you also get updates for your phone, be it test device or not. This article tells my story of the Android 9.0 upgrade, how it went, the good, the bad, and the weird. So whether you're reading this on a nice 24-inch screen or a tiny phone in your lap, lean back, if you can, and enjoy. Let us commence to begin.

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Updated: May 6, 2019 | Category: Linux

MX Linux & fan control and brightness tweaks

This may sound like an odd topic. After all, my eeePC is 10 years old. But ... recently, I had it successfully restored to a full, meaningful new life with the use of MX Linux! Just about as I was to consign it to ashes, this nimble little distro made the netbook relevant once again, with decent performance, modern software and good looks. So not only am I happy, I'm amazeballsed.

There were two hardware issues with the netbook - screen brightness Fn keys not working and fan control not kicking in. I had these SAME issues when I first got the device. Nevermind, let me show you how to fix these problems. We'll get the full range of Fn keys working again, and then sort the fans. After me.

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Updated: May 4, 2019 | Category: Internet

Firefox disables all add-ons problem

Earlier today, I was merrily browsing the net using Firefox, when all of a sudden, the browser restarted, and when it launched again, I saw a yellow warning message that my add-ons have been disabled because they could not be verified. Adblock Plus, Noscript and Greasemonkey had simply vanished. W00t.

A quick search confirmed my suspicion: a wider problem with Firefox, globally. Apparently, a certificate used to sign add-ons in order to verify their validity had expired, which made the browser unable to check add-ons, resulting in the foobar that I and millions of other Firefox users had just experienced. Well, let me show you what you can do to mitigate this issue. After me.

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Updated: May 3, 2019 | Category: Linux

Xubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo review

In the spring, the snow thaws, the animals come out of hibernation, and the hunting season begins. The season of distro hunting! Fooled you there for a second, didn't I? Also, this is not true in Australia, which is on the side of the planet, and there it ain't no spring, it's autumn (or fall if you like). Why? Because Dingo. Hence Xubuntu.

We shall commence the spring crop review with the Xfce-flavored one of the bunch, with testing being done on me Lenovo G50 scapegoat machine, with its eight-boot configuration, Windows and Linux mixed. My impression of Xubuntu Cosmic was okayish, but nothing too remarkable. The sweet momentum of yore seemed to have wandered away elsewhere, like MX Linux. But there's always fresh hope. So it's download and test. We begin.

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Updated: May 1, 2019 | Category: Linux

KSysGuard review

If you want to know how your Linux machine is behaving, you have a range of options: from GUI tools that show nice graphs to simple command-line dashboards to sophisticated statistics collection programs and profilers like dstat and perf. Typically, the GUI tools are the least powerful ones, with best graphics and scantiest information. Except, it does not have to be that way.

KSysGuard is the Plasma system monitor (hint, K letter in the name), designed to shatter the simplicity reputation. Indeed, if you look across the pond, Windows 7 introduced a refined task manager and resource monitor, and then you also get Process Explorer, which offers a deep, multi-dimensional glimpse into the system behavior, pretty colors notwithstanding. KSysGuard is a tool with comparable capabilities, and you just wouldn't believe that from your first encounter with the program. Explore we must.

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