Updated: December 13, 2019 | Category: Books

The Golden Horde weekly serial, Chapter 11

A woman?

When you think you've seen everything.

"Do not shoot," she repeated.

"Everyone, hold your fire," Lee Qiang instructed over the comms, his mind on fire. "This could be important."

"Check," Cem acknowledged.

Read more ... (my books-only website)

Updated: December 11, 2019 | Category: Linux

Fedora 31 Workstation

Last week, we talked about MX Linux MX-19. This week, let's have a look at Fedora 31. Now, some of you may already start grumbling and complaining. Because I will focus a lot of my energy on the Gnome desktop and what it doesn't do, and all that. But then, Fedora is the pioneer child (not in the communist sense) of the Gnome world, showcasing the latest fixes and features the environment offers. Therein lies my hope and my expected but hopefully proven wrong disappointment.

Looking back to the past two years or so, I found Fedora to have improved a little in the performance area, has become more consistent, gained stability in major areas side by side with bugs and problems in others, and still isn't user-friendly enough for immediate consumption. Y'know, proprietary stuff, window buttons, desktop icons, stuff like that. Fedora 30 is a good melting pot of all these observations. I wasn't happy, but then, it's time to rewind the clock, reset my emotions, and boldly charge head first into the wall of open-source.

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Updated: December 9, 2019 | Category: Linux

Slimbook & Kubuntu - Combat Report 11

It's been a while since I've done one of my Slimbook CRs. Well, I've sort of run out of things to complain, but also new features that I can meaningfully test. Not to worry! New experiences, new opportunities, and once again, a new article is upon us, with fresh real-life challenges. They are out there, it just takes a bit of time finding the extra use cases.

For those of you wondering what gives, about a year back I bought a Slimbook Pro2, installed Kubuntu on it, and since started writing about my real-life, no-nonsense production-environment experiences using Linux in a way most people consume Windows, which have culminated in some ten reports so far. Well, to get up to speed, grab the last one, and then work your way back. Now, let's continue.

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Updated: December 7, 2019 | Category: Internet

Firefox 70 review

Just recently, I wrote my melancholic Firefox & WebExtensions piece, summarizing roughly two years of the new Firefox, the changes, the market share, all of it. Not a pretty picture. But what can I say, I'm an optimist. A definition thereof, someone who keeps smiling despite repeatedly getting smacked on the forehead with a wooden ruler.

The thing is, I've been using Firefox since day one, and it remains my primary browser, despite all its failings and mistakes. There are many reasons for this, as I shall expand in a separate, important article. Now, I'd like to focus on Firefox 70, the latest minus one release. It looks neat, it comes with a slew of privacy-related tweaks, and it might be the remedy for my ailing soul. Wait, you may say, what about Firefox 71? That shall come soon. I'm not here to do news, I'm here to do meaningful technical tests and reviews, and this takes time. So Firefox 70, let's have a look.

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Updated: December 6, 2019 | Category: Books

The Golden Horde weekly serial, Chapter 10

An abandoned power plant.

No. Not abandoned.

"Turn around. We are going back."

Lip frowned. "Come again?"

"Turn around. We are going back. I want to inspect that power plant we just passed," Lee Qiang said.

Read more ... (my books-only website)

Updated: December 4, 2019 | Category: Writing

The Binary Conundrum short story

Dear readers, here's some good stuff. Electric Spec, an online speculative fiction magazine has published my short story The Binary Conundrum in their Volume 14, Issue 4. The story has a simple premise: To kill? Or not to kill? What if the question does not have an optimal answer? An AI system faces the dilemma even as the war against humanity draws to a close ...

"There," Senior 9 communicated.

Junior 48 focused on the transmitted coordinates. It didn't have Senior's camera resolution, but it could still see the disturbance on the plateau seven kilometers and four hundred and three meters away. A cloud of dust rising from the surface, caused by a non-climate phenomenon ...

Read more ... (Electric Spec)

Updated: December 4, 2019 | Category: Linux

MX Linux MX-19 patito feo

Let's mix it up a bit, shall we. So far this distro-testing season, we had Ubuntu MATE and Kubuntu, both of the Ermine stock. Reasonable results. Now, we will try something completely different. The distro of choice for today's session is MX Linux, a frugal, lightweight Xfce-clad system, with some nice features and perks.

Over the years, my experience with it has been ... mixed. But, most importantly, it's steadily improving. Version after version, it's getting better. Friendlier, more mature, more accessible to people outside the circle of diehard penguin-loving geeks. With that in heart and mind, and good results with MX-18, the previous version that is, we are testing the latest edition, patito feo. After me.

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Updated: December 2, 2019 | Category: Linux

CentOS 8 Stream

I don't like repeating myself. Or even linking to my own articles. I find the exercise tedious if somewhat necessary to help readers connect the dots. Now here's a theme that I've mentioned so many times it isn't possible to encompass all the relevant references from the past thirteen odd years of Dedoimedo: I want a super-stable desktop with a lifetime support that exceeds hardware life.

Sounds simple. And yet. Throughout my Linux adventures, I've used a tiny number of Linux distros in a serious, production fashion on the desktop. OpenSUSE, Ubuntu, Kubuntu. A little bit of MX Linux lately. But that's pretty much that. The golden formula seems so hard to nail. Distros are either modern and fickle or stable and old. You sort of can't get the sweet spot in between. Or maybe you can. CentOS 8 Stream.

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Updated: November 30, 2019 | Category: Hardware

iPhone 6s & iOS 13 upgrade

As you know - or maybe you don't know - I'm not a great fan of the iPhone. The restrictive nature of the ecosystem simply isn't for me. Small things, y'know, like music sync or full MTP access. Anyway, I still do like to test Apple hardware and software if and when I can, just to see and understand what gives, and get ever so closer to a better class of people than myself.

I used to briefly possess an iPhone 6 (own is a wrong word here), and nowadays, one of the phones in my small array of test gadgets happens to be a white-cover iPhone 6s. Overall, the newer model does feel like an improvement over the older one, but it's not one to stir my emotions and such. With the recent release of the iOS 13 operating system upgrade, and the S model being eligible for it, I went about upgrading the device. This article here is a review of my findings. Follow me.

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Updated: November 29, 2019 | Category: Books

The Golden Horde weekly serial, Chapter 9

"Shishka time," Juraj said.

Lee Qiang could not—despite the situation—help but smile.

The shaped-charge missile hit the truck on the right side, shearing the wheel clean off the axis, the molten jet of metal setting the rubber on fire, slicing through the engine block and spewing out in a shower of golden sparks on the other side. Like a great beast, the truck ground to a halt.

Of course, Lee Qiang could not have seen all this; it happened too fast for the human eye to register, but his camera caught everything.

Read more ... (my books-only website)

Updated: November 27, 2019 | Category: Windows

Windows 7 & KB4474419 failed update

The end of support for Windows 7 might be just around the corner. That does not prevent me from having my first ever failed Windows Update on this spectacular operating system - not sure if this is a sign of things to come. Indeed, I have an old laptop that I've not used in about a year, and I decided to run Windows Update on it. The first thing it needed were the new cryptographic signature patches, to be able to install future rollups.

I got the prompt for KB4474419 via Windows Update, ran it, seemingly all way fine. But then, at about 70% mark, I saw a message that said: Failure configuring updates, reverting changes. Something along those lines. Never before have I seen this happen, so I set about troubleshooting and fixing the issue. Follow me.

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Updated: November 27, 2019 | Category: Books

System Administration Ethics Cyber Monday

Dear readers, it's me again! I have some terrific news. Apress is offering my System Administration Ethics e-book at a mindboggling discount as part of its Cyber Monday deal spree. Until December 3rd, my work as well as ALL Apress and Springer Computer Science books are available for only 7 dollars each!

If you were hesitant about buying it before, hesitate no more. I would strongly recommend you grab yourself a copy, and maybe even tell a friend or five. You will get a beautiful, DRM-free book covering one of the more important and relevant topics in the IT industry today. Of course, blowing my own horn is silly, so I urge you to get the book, read it, see what gives. Maybe even write a review. Support Dedoimedo and all that.

Once again, System Administration Ethics e-book, until December 3rd, on the Apress website. Case-sensitive code: CYBERWEEK19. Enjoy!

Read more ... (Apress book site)

Updated: November 25, 2019 | Category: Linux

Kubuntu 19.10 Eoan Ermine

A-B-C-D-Ermine. Now I know my ABC, won't you come and test my Linux? Kubuntu be next on our plate. After exploring Ubuntu MATE of the Eoan family, it's time to focus on the quintessential Plasma desktop distro. As you know, I'm quite pleased with how Plasma has evolved over the years, and as it happens the LTS release of Kubuntu happens [sic] to the daily driver (and passenger) on my Slimbook machine. But we can't take things for granted, and test we must.

Let's see what results we're gonna get on my eight-boot G50 laptop. It already has a bunch of Plasma stuff on it, including an 18.04 instance, neon Developer edition, and then some. One more won't hurt. We're looking for the consistency of experience, too, so compare to Ubuntu MATE we must. Enough nonsense. Let's begin.

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Updated: November 23, 2019 | Category: Internet

Firefox & WebExtensions, two years later

It's been roughly two years since Firefox 57 was introduced and the abrupt transition to WebExtensions happened. Overnight, a decade of work made by thousands of developers was made obsolete, turning existing extensions into a legacy heap of nostalgia and code, some of it darn good code. We were told that modern times require modern means AKA mobile nonsense, and this is the future.

Fast forward to NOW, and I'm not happy or optimistic. Firefox usage has declined further, just as I predicted, because the more Firefox became like Chrome the less incentive there was for its loyal users to recommend it to other people. Only recently, with the explosion of privacy nonsense do people realize how important it is to have a healthy underdog browser, and in this regard, Firefox is the last bastion, i.e. the least worst browser of the bunch, although they are all quite annoying. But. Maybe the future is rosy? So I decided to take stock of my current extensions, the new crop, evaluate what they do, and if indeed, we're in a better place than we were when XUL ruled supreme. After me.

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Updated: November 22, 2019 | Category: Books

The Golden Horde weekly serial, Chapter 8

"What the hell are they doing?" Lip growled.

Lee Qiang shook his head. "No idea."

"Putain."

They had stopped because the road ahead was blocked. Someone was fighting someone else.

Read more ... (my books-only website)

Updated: November 20, 2019 | Category: Linux

Ubuntu MATE 19.10 Eoan Ermine

How is an ermine different from a martel or a beaver? Je ne sais quoi, the French would say, but good news! We can discover how different Eoan Ermine is from Disco Dingo, and/or other Linux distributions out there in the wild. Commencing the autumn season of testing, joy, tribulation and unknowns, we begin with the MATE edition of the family.

Now, some notes ere we begin. I happen to know the head honcho of the MATE project, but this familiarity shall not be affecting the outcome of this review in any shape or form or whatnot. Furthermore, I did dabble some in the beta version of Ubuntu MATE and provided some feedback on the rough edges here and there, which again, is something you should know in advance. All that said, my Lenovo G50 laptop with its plethora of partitions and installed systems is about to receive a new one. Let's do it.

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Updated: November 20, 2019 | Category: Books

System Administration Ethics book discount

Dear Dedoimedoistas! My publisher has just informed that the holiday season comes with perks. In other words, my recently published System Administration Ethics books is available at a discount, using a purchase coupon code directly on the publisher's site.

I think this could be a really good opportunity for you to grab yourself a copy at a reduced price. This book comes with an important set of rules and guidelines for how to conduct oneself professionally and ethically in the IT world, something that has come under a lot of scrutiny recently. I would be happy and honored if you read the book - it's the best way to support Dedoimedo. The discount offer will be available till December 31, both for print and e-book versions. Case-sensitive coupon: ETHICS20. There you go. Enjoy!

Read more ... (Apress book site)

Updated: November 18, 2019 | Category: Windows

Windows display & color calibration tutorial

Here's a weird problem. I was using my Asus Vivobook, which happens to dual-boot Linux and Windows, and in the resident Windows 8.1, during some strenuous maintenance - installation of several applications, updates and such - my screen colors suddenly changed. It was as if the brightness had been halved, even though the slider was in the max. position.

I didn't discover what triggered this color muting, but I did realize that I needed to find a way to restore my colors back to what I like. And so I started fiddling a little with color adjustments and display calibration, and eventually wrote this tutorial, for things ain't (too) trivial. Thus, if you happen to be using Windows, and suddenly you find yourself disliking the colors on your screen, here's a tutorial that could help you.

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Updated: November 16, 2019 | Category: Life wisdoms and such

Are you conservative

First, if you think or even vaguely suspect this article has somehow anything to do with any sort of West Coast soap opera melodrama about boring political affiliations, you're reading the wrong article, so please, click the close button on the browser tab and go back to your Interneting. This article is an attempt to understand, or rather, enlighten you, into what makes one receptive or resistant to change. Mostly when it comes to technology.

The world is currently undergoing several social, cultural and technological mini-upheavals, at a faster pace than in the past. This gives us a unique privilege to live through them, and even observe them, through our own personal experience. Typically, changes of this nature used to take generations, so people would often equate them with the natural cycle of human life, and thus, they were also easier to miss, ignore and adapt to. Now, the speed makes everything more interesting. Let's commence.

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Updated: November 9, 2019 | Category: Linux

CentOS 8 perfect desktop tutorial

Traditions are there so they can be maintained, nourished, upkept, repeated. Most notably, any time there's a new major CentOS release, I happily jump on the opportunity to test the distro and also provide you with a tutorial that shows all the steps you need to undertake to turn a fairly boring server distro into a fully productive, fun desktop setup.

We've done this with CentOS 6 and CentOS 7 (and there are sequels, too), and it's time we do the same with CentOS 8. So let me show you all the bits and pieces you require to enjoy stability with the latest and greatest software. Over the years, this effort has become easier, so it will be interesting to see whether CentOS 8 makes it even simpler than the previous versions. Let's begin.

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Updated: November 8, 2019 | Category: Books

System Administration Ethics book published

Dear readers, I am truly happy to announce the publication of my latest technical book. It comes with a lengthy but important title - System Administration Ethics: Ten Commandments for Security and Compliance in a Modern Cyber World. A colleague and I have been writing this book over the past year and a bit, and we've jotted down what we believe are the most critical dos and don'ts of information technology.

Ethics has never been more important - just look around, and you'll see the Wild Wild West of the digital world, breach here, breach there, data this, data that. Amidst this chaos, you will find techies, afloat, lost, confused, angry, and wondering how their work and passion has become the spearpoint of social dissent and mistrust. I hope this book can provide the right pointers.

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Updated: November 8, 2019 | Category: Books

The Golden Horde weekly serial, Chapter 6

Operation Putain started three hours into Operation Lake Placid, with the morning sky streaked in lead and filthy white but no rain. Lee Qiang was happy they didn't need to slog through mud on the very first day of their mission.

Assembled in eight Magdalena SUVs, they crossed the border into Sector 8. Well, the term "border" was deceiving. It implied a line, a fence, maybe a formal checkpoint, whereas in between the two territories, it was fluidly marked by a stretch of rugged land about 10-15 kilometers wide. Inside this buffer zone, wearing the wrong kind of uniform did not mean you'd automatically get shot by the other side.

Read more ... (my books-only website)

Updated: October 26, 2019 | Category: Windows

Windows 7 end of support guide

In January 2020, Windows 7 will come to the supported end of its respectable lifecycle. After this point, there will be no more updates from Microsoft. Since there are roughly 500 million active Windows 7 devices still out there, this raises a very important question: What should existing users do now, and for how much longer can they continue using Windows 7 in a manner that is safe, smart and logical?

I thought, here's a great opportunity to address this concern. I will explore the Windows 7 question from three main angles: security, hardware (and performance), and functionality. We did this thing when Windows XP was about to be retired, and we will do it again now. Oh, and rule no.1: don't panic!

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Updated: October 25, 2019 | Category: Books

The Golden Horde weekly serial, Chapter 4

It had taken Lee Qiang the better part of his military career to develop and hone his philosophy on warfare. He was very proud of his epiphany.

War can be best described as Antonio Vivaldi’s most famous work, Four Seasons. With one exception. It starts with the second violin concerto. Summer.

War always starts in the summer.

Read more ... (my books-only website)

Updated: October 23, 2019 | Category: Linux

Plasma 5.17 review

It's happened again. The KDE team has released a new version of their desktop environment. Seemingly a small increment, based on the numbering scheme, it still brings a wealth of changes, improvements and whatnot to the desktop scene. That means there's only one reasonable outcome: some proper testing.

And so I did. I fired up my neon instance sitting cozily in the eight-boot Windows-and-Linux setup on my G50 laptop, let the system run a whole bunch of updates, and an hour later, I had the Plasma 5.17 desktop up and running. Now, let's see how it fares and what it offers. After me.

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Updated: October 21, 2019 | Category: Linux

Manjaro 18.1.0 Juhraya Cinnamon

You know how the popular saying goes. When it rains ... people drive slowly just to annoy you. But as it happens, I received a bunch of emails from people asking me two things: 1) Why have I not recently done any more Cinnamon reviews (other than Mint)? 2) When am I going to review the latest version of Manjaro 18.1 Juhraya?

The answer to these question is: yes. At the same time! I decided to try Manjaro Cinnamon, not something I've done before, so it should be an interesting, refreshing and hopefully worthwhile exercise. The test box will be the same one I used for the Illyria Xfce test, so we can compare things in earnest - and accurately. This is an eight-book mixed Windows & Linux box, and it comes with UEFI, Intel graphics, 16 sweet partitions, and another instance of Manjaro that we won't touch in this review. Begin to start.

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Updated: October 19, 2019 | Category: Windows

Windows 10 & offline account setup

Feeling bored? Not enough excitement or first-world problems in your life? Worry not! Windows 10 at your service - not to be confused with Windows as a Service, right. Indeed, if you've followed the tech news in the past three or four years, you may have noticed there's always a flurry of unexpected activity with Windows 10. This could be system changes after updates, this could be problems with updates, or this could be, the latest thingie, how to setup your local account after a fresh installation. Shouldn't be an issue right, except, seemingly, it is.

A few days ago, I came across an avalanche of articles discussing a (new) phenomenon: when you set up your Windows 10, it seems to be more difficult to create a local account, and you might be forced to use an online account instead. I read this on Ghacks, among other places, and then decided to do the test for myself, to see whether this is indeed the case. Let's see what happens.

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Updated: October 18, 2019 | Category: Books

The Golden Horde weekly serial, Chapter 3

Civilians.

No, that was not the right word. Non-combatants, then. That didn’t work either.

Everyone was affected by the global war of the past nineteen years. The best description was people with no control over their lives. Fallen leaves, waiting to be swept and whirled by a sudden gust of wind. Ghosts, with brittle smiles.

One such specimen stood at the corner of the street. Smiling that empty smile of people living through hell.

Read more ... (my books-only website)

Updated: October 16, 2019 | Category: Linux

Plasma desktop cool widgets

Plasma is an extremely extensible, flexible desktop environment, and it lets you customize and change anything and everything to the tiniest detail. You can go about mimicking other desktops and systems as you please, limited only by your imagination and patience. If you want a Mac-like look or a Unity look, you can.

So I thought, I should revisit my old Plasma widgets article and explore some fresh applets out there, to see what else you can do here. Indeed, there are lots of hidden goodies lurking beneath the surface, and if you're curious, you will discover fresh tools and features that can make the Plasma desktop experience even more enjoyable.

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Updated: October 14, 2019 | Category: Linux

CentOS 8 & Gnome Shell extensions

Several days ago, I reviewed CentOS 8. Overall, the whole thing went well, but there were some snags along the way. Most notably, I had trouble getting the system configured so that I could use Gnome extensions and transform the vanilla, default look & feel of the Gnome 3 desktop, which I find extremely unproductive, into a more classic desktop formula.

There were problems getting Gnome extensions installed, and then the system didn't have the native host connector, and it took a bit of work sorting everything out. Not trivial. Before I give you a full perfect desktop tutorial that I promised, the kind we did with CentOS 7, I'd like to show you all the steps you need to get the Gnome extensions properly configured in the latest edition of this server-cum-desktop distro. After me.

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Updated: October 12, 2019 | Category: Linux

Peek review

Now and then, the sun rises above Gondor. And by Gondor, I mean Linux. And by that, I mean, occasionally, fresh new software is born, and it is indeed as fresh as a brioche just taken out of the oven in a small, remote village somewhere in Normandy. The holder of the challenge seems to be Peek, a software designed to help you create compact, high-quality demo animations of desktop activity.

Being able to record your desktop isn't a new thing. I've written about this many times in the past, covering programs like recordMyDesktop, Kazam and friends. Even Spectacle can do this for you, and if you're handy with the omnipotent ffmpeg, then you can do whatever you fancy. Sounds like a simple recipe that would be hard to beat. But this article proves otherwise. After me.

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Updated: October 11, 2019 | Category: Books

The Golden Horde weekly serial, Chapter 2

Commander Lip sure didn’t waste time.

He tried to kill Lee Qiang the very next day.

They were riding an APC to the front lines for a routine inspection and familiarization. It was one of the new prewar models, a Kismet urban warrior, with an anti-tank mesh on both sides. A squeaky clean example of a dwindling inventory.

Read more ... (my books-only website)

Updated: October 9, 2019 | Category: Office

TeXstudio review

Many a person in the modern world have had, at some point in their life, to write a document of some sort, usually a CV, and then send it to other people for professional scrutiny. Others have braved their luck writing books and articles, or creating presentations. Many have tried, but few had succeeded.

If you want to write a nicely styled document, you need, well, style. Or rather styles. Ever since computer graphics became powerful enough to show fancy stuff on your screen, document writing has gone from text to a vomit of figures and colorful objects mixed with words in one messy bundle. But if you want to do it right, you want content and style separation. In essence, this is HTML and CSS, and to be fair, this is your modern word processor with the use of styles. Or if you're feeling really adventurous - LaTeX. Or if you're feeling bold and lazy, then maybe LyX. Then, there's another candidate - TeXstudio, and we shall discuss it today.

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Updated: October 7, 2019 | Category: Media

Quod Libet review

My music requirements are simple. I have many great qualities, but a refined ear isn't among them. With an aural sensitivity of a comodo dragon, my needs come down to a simple player that is pleasing to the eye, comes with a semi-modern layout, and most importantly, will not annoy me with badly arranged albums, titles and tags. The last piece has been my chief music-related woe for years.

When it comes to music players, I'm kind of okay here. VLC does the job, and when you tweak it, it's quite delightful one must say. Then, when I'm feeling adventurous, there's Clementine, which features splendidly on the desktop, with a clean interface and tons of goodies. And yet, now and then, I go about testing music applications, because music collections won't sort themselves, now will they. To wit, Quod Libet.

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Updated: October 5, 2019 | Category: Linux

CentOS 8 review

There are operating systems that were never meant to be used as desktops. Well, to be fair, most Linux distributions fall into this category, in a way. But CentOS falls more. It's a no-nonsense server distro, designed to give you three quarters of an eternity of stable support and a blackhole worth of predictable boredom so you can do work stuffs. But if you wanna desktop, you can too.

I've always had a soft spot for CentOS - if you're curious, you can read all about my CentOS 6 story and the subsequent CentOS 7 saga over the past decade. Now that the latest release is out, it's time for another long review. I'll commit the distro to my eight-boot mixed Windows & Linux Lenovo G50 machine, which, by the way, already runs a CentOS instance. And if all goes well, then we will attempt an in-vivo upgrade, too. For now, let's commence the journey.

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Updated: October 4, 2019 | Category: Books

The Golden Horde weekly serial, Chapter 1

Eyes squinted against the daylight glare, Lee Qiang stepped out of the tin-can transport, together with seventeen other soldiers, all new recruits—except him. They milled quietly, rubbing shoulder against sweaty shoulder, trying to get some sense of where they were.

Hell, Lee Qiang thought.

A familiar place.

Read more ... (my books-only website)

Updated: October 2, 2019 | Category: Linux

Cairo dock

In a perfect world, desktops are complete solutions. Alas, we live in a world that is far from perfect. If you look across different Linux desktop environments, only Plasma (and Unity) offer a fully consistent layout. Gnome requires modifications, and Xfce never mastered the dock idea that well.

Indeed, while testing Manjaro, I decided to retry my notion of a handsome Xfce desktop with a top panel featuring global menu and a pleasant dock at the bottom of the screen. In Gnome, the latter part would be satisfied using extensions, the likes of either Dash to Dock or Dash to Panel, Plasma would give you icons-only task manager or Latte, MATE would give you its own plankified dock version, and Xfce ... well. To that end, I decided to test and explore Cairo Dock. Hence, this article.

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Updated: September 30, 2019 | Category: Car reviews

BMW 218d Cabriolet M sport review

To roof or not to roof. This is a question than many Cabriolet drivers had faced since the dawn of the, eh, cabriolet. It's not something I had to contend with until very recently, when I finally got a chance to drive a BMW 218d Cabriolet, with two doors, M Sport kit and signature Estoril Blue paint, and some black canvas for the roof.

I had the car for two days and about 550 km of driving, including open highways, jammed urban traffic, but also some nice twisty roads in the hills and mountains, which gave me an opportunity to test the vehicle's dynamics in all three dimensions. The weather was favorable too, so there's that. Follow me.

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Updated: September 28, 2019 | Category: Linux

Manjaro Plasma post-install essential tweaks

You know I'm no Arch fan. But I am also impressed by the efforts to transform the ultra-nerdy Arch into a friendly system accessible to the masses. This is primarily done by Manjaro, which is blazing an honest path of creativity down the Linux highway. I've recently tested version 18.0.4 Illyria Plasma, and found it to be quite solid. There were lots of problems, but then, there were also some super-cool features.

To help you get along, I've compiled this article - it's mostly the summary of tweaks and changes I introduced to the installed Manjaro system, in order to get a smooth, seamless experience replete with good software, good looks and proprietary drivers. Now, there's also the Xfce review, and we might do some tweaks for that edition, too. But now, we only focus on the Plasma spin. To wit, let us commence.

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Updated: September 27, 2019 | Category: Linux

Make Plasma look like Unity

Over the years, in my production setup, I've used only two Linux desktop environments in earnest - KDE and Unity - well, Xfce to a much, much smaller extent. I've started with KDE 3.5 back in the day (with SUSE 10), ran Unity for as long as Trusty was supported, and I'm now using Plasma 5.12 LTS as part of Kubuntu 18.04 on my Slimbook Pro2 laptop. But Unity has a sweet spot in my heart.

Well, I haven't abandoned the desktop, as it is still installed on the Asus Vivobook machine. I had the system upgraded from Trusty to Bionic a few months ago, and installed both the Unity and Plasma desktops, and then tweaked the latter to look like the former. A small and incomplete transformation. Then I decided to ratchet this up a notch or three. A full makeover. Proceed we shall. If you're impatient, go to the good results section below right away.

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Updated: September 25, 2019 | Category: Linux games

KDE Connect on Windows

Several weeks ago, we talked about the all-time classic Red Alert. Now, I want to focus on the successor, the equally nice and fun Red Alert 2 and its expansion Yuri's Revenge. While this game never really eclipsed the original, it's still very much the quintessential Westwood RTS, with great graphics, same fast-paced spirit and some extra factions and technology.

So how does one go about enjoying this game on Linux? Well, you noticed the mention of CNCNET in my Red Alert guide, a great community of people dedicated to keeping the legends and classics alive. While RA is free to play, RA2 and Yuri are not. These games have not been handed off to the public at large, and so you still need to have the original DVD - or buy them fresh. But if you happen to have those, then let's talk business.

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Updated: September 23, 2019 | Category: Windows

KDE Connect on Windows

If you're in possession of an Android phone, then you might be interested in KDE Connect. This is an application developed by KDE folks, which lets you pair your smartphone with your Plasma desktop, and then do all sorts of magic to and fro. You can control media, check SMS messages, view system information, share files, and more.

I've reviewed this software and found it quite useful, although support for other mobile systems would be nice. Now, as you can imagine, its very name implies that it is tied into the KDE (Plasma) desktop environment. Well, not anymore! You can use it Gnome vis GSConnect, but that's still Linux. Well, well, well! There's also an experimental build for Windows. And that's why we're here. Let's test this software in Windows.

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Updated: September 14, 2019 | Category: Windows

Sandboxie review

The last time I tested system sandboxing software was in the XP era. I remember programs like ShadowGuard, if my memory servers me well, and Deep Freeze, designed to create a virtual filesystem layer to which changes would be made during your active session, and then on next reboot, these would be scrubbed back to a clean state. In essence, a read-only system with the ability for selective modification.

For applications, you may have wanted something less complicated - and for those in need, there was Sandboxie. As it happens, I never really got to try the application, not in its early days nor later after it was acquired, but now, having tried Windows Defender Application Guard (unsuccessfully) on Windows 10 Home, I decided to give this program another look. So let's have a test and review of Sandboxie. Let's build us a security castle!

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Updated: September 13, 2019 | Category: Linux

Manjaro & Broadcom Wireless fix

Here's an interesting problem. Several weeks ago, I tested Manjaro 18.0.4 Illyria on my HP Pavilion laptop, and I've come across an interesting phenomenon. The laptop is equipped with a Broadcom Wireless card, and in the live session, both with free and nonfree drivers, the network was up and running okay. However, after the installation, I had no Wireless.

Looking at system looks, I found an error that said WLC_SCAN error (-22). Once I hit the Intertubes with this search, all hell broke loose. I found dozens of Arch and Manjaro forum posts talking about this issue. There were some solutions offered, but they were either ineffective or very difficult to implement. So I decided to try to fix this on my own, hence this guide. Follow me.

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Updated: September 13, 2019 | Category: Books

The Golden Horde weekly serial

Readers of mine and random curious souls, rejoice! I am going to try something new vis-a-vis writing. At least, new for me. In a few weeks, I will begin a year-long journey of a serial book publication, releasing a fresh new chapter every week, right here on this website, for free. Which book, you’re asking?

Well, this is going to be The Golden Horde, a military thriller taking place in near future, with World War Three in full swing. You say, War World Three… Why, did you expect the series to end with just two installments?

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Updated: September 5, 2019 | Category: Linux

Fedora 30 & GRUB updates

If you're using Linux, you are also probably, almost definitely, using the GRUB2 bootloader. The bootloader lets you control the startup sequence of the system, especially if you have multiple operating systems installed, like Windows and Linux side by side, multiple distributions of Linux, and so forth. Sometimes, you will need to make changes to the GRUB2 configuration, including specific overrides like kernel command-line parameters.

If the above means nothing to you, you don't need this guide. But if it does, then you can consult my rather extensive GRUB2 tutorial on how to use and manage the bootloader. Except, it's not enough. If you want to add boot parameters to the kernel - permanently - then editing the default configuration file as I've explained in the guide will not work. That's part of the fragmentation delight that's Linux. So we need a different method, and this is why we're here.

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Updated: September 2, 2019 | Category: Media

Kdenlive 19.08

About a year ago, I reviewed the beta version of Kdenlive 18.08. It proved to be an okay program, an incremental improvement, even though there were some issues that you'd expect to find in beta-quality software. Overall, there weren't any big surprises, but I was hoping for a more streamlined workflow and improved consistency.

Twelve months later, Kdenlive 19.08 has been released, and it's time for another review. After all, this is my favorite video editor, and I've used it to create all of my funny and unfunny Youtube videos, so I'm always very keen on what new things and improvements we can have here. Let us commence then, ever so gingerly.

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