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Updated: July 14, 2021 | Category: Linux

AlmaLinux 8.4 review

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

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

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Updated: July 12, 2021 | Category: Linux

Lenovo IdeaPad Y50-70 & Kubuntu 20.04

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

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

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Updated: July 9, 2021 | Category: Windows

Windows 11 Dev build review

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

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

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Updated: July 7, 2021 | Category: Linux

Rocky Linux 8 & Steam install

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

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

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Updated: July 5, 2021 | Category: Linux

IdeaPad 3 & Fedora 33 review

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

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

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Updated: July 2, 2021 | Category: Windows

Windows 11 Dev build installation guide

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

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

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Updated: July 1, 2021 | Category: Linux

Plasma customization

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

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

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Updated: June 28, 2021 | Category: Linux games

SimCity 4 saves & Steam Proton

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

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

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Updated: June 25, 2021 | Category: Linux

Interview: KDE, Nate Graham

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

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

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Updated: June 23, 2021 | Category: Linux

Plasma desktop, HD scaling & snaps guide

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

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

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Updated: June 21, 2021 | Category: Linux

Rocky Linux 8 & perfect desktop guide

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

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

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Updated: June 17, 2021 | Category: Virtualization

LXD & Docker container nesting

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

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

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Updated: June 14, 2021 | Category: Game reviews

Workers & Resources: Soviet Republic industry guide 4

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

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

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Updated: June 11, 2021 | Category: Internet

Firefox 89 review

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

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

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Updated: June 10, 2021 | Category: Linux

Rocky Linux 8 fonts

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

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

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Updated: June 7, 2021 | Category: Linux games

Steam Proton compatibility

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

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

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Updated: June 4, 2021 | Category: Linux

Plasma Krunner review

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

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

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Updated: June 2, 2021 | Category: Linux

Plasma Tiled Menu review

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

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

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Updated: May 31, 2021 | Category: Game reviews

OpenTTD & HD graphics

It's been a few years since I wrote about OpenTTD in any great detail. But something magical happened a few weeks back. OpenTTD is now available through Steam, which makes it accessible to a huge number of gamers who might not necessarily discover it otherwise. But then, if you're a hardcore tycoonist, and at least 9,000 years old, then Transport Tycoon Deluxe is an inseparable part of your life and soul.

The Steam announcement dropped me into my train-building mood, and I started playing it again. But standard OpenTTD doesn't look amazing on 2K and 4K monitors. So I went back to yet another something I've written about many years ago - 32bit high-def graphics for this lovely game. And I decided to revisit the topic, and see if I can get OpenTTD to look great in 2021. Hence, this article.

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Updated: May 28, 2021 | Category: Linux

Rocky Linux 8 review

Like many a Linux nerd, the sudden announcement about the all-too-soon end of life of CentOS 8 took me by surprise. It went beyond the technicals, hitting in the nostalgia glands. Because for me, for quite a few years, this operating system has been a Frankenstein perfect desktop experiment, trying to tweak a server entity into a household product. I did the experiment no less than three times - yup, CentOS 6, CentOS 7 and CentOS 8. Recently, I did some more testing on a resident CentOS 7 image, as that one will remain around for a good few more years. But after that ... CentOS 8 Stream, only that won't really be the same thing, at least not in the classic sense of what this distro was meant to be.

Now, it seems like the story need not end. Rocky Linux is the reimagining of the RHEL-compatible community enterprise system, trying to give people the same type of stability, predictability and behavior that users had with CentOS. The question is, how close and true is Rocky to CentOS? I won't try to answer that question in the business space; that's a story for others. I want to redo my workstation test at home, to spin up Rocky in an eight-boot system running all manner of distros (CentOS 7 and 8 included), and see if I can get that perfect distro feel again. Let us commence.

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Updated: May 26, 2021 | Category: Game reviews

Workers & Resources: Soviet Republic industry guide 3

Welcome to the third and possibly the finest make-money socialist-style article in my Workers & Resources: Soviet Republic series, in which I want to expand on all the lovely tips and tricks I've provided you in the magnificent first two guides. This time, we will focus on the ultimate transportation mode - shipping. Like in real life, if you want to move massive cargo, also land masses AKA continents being separated by seas, then you need ships to plow the salty waters. But there's another important reason why you want ships in Workers & Resources. Limited rail connections.

I discussed this problem in my train traffic guide - and you can work around it by using short-loop long-loop rail lines. You ferry cargo from the border to cargo platforms and storage facilities only a short distance away, and then distribute the different goods across your region with trains that never go to customs warehouses. Now, there's another, even better method - ships. But that's not all we're going to discuss here. We'll touch on some other useful aspects of industry, as well. To wit.

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Updated: May 19, 2021 | Category: Windows

Windows 10 20H2 annoyances

Ah, Windows 10. The neverending story. Several weeks ago, I had my first upgrade of 20H2, on a test machine. It went well. Several days after that, I did another upgrade, on a production machine. It went well NOT. Windows had decided to alter about a dozen different settings I had put in place, and thus lower my IQ by about 20-30 points.

This prompted me to go on a purification spree, toggling off yet more and more options and settings in Windows. In a way, I'm grateful for these moments, because they remind me I must stay vigilant. Like the Assistant issue in Android, until that point, I was tolerant or indifferent of various settings, but once the aggressive sales nudge came my way, I decided to disable tons of extra stuff. Same here. Indeed, in this guide, I want to show you a few more things you should consider disabling in your Windows 10 system, because they contribute nothing to your productivity or efficiency.

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Updated: May 19, 2021 | Category: Other software

View and delete Exif metadata

Images be images. Photos be photos. A collection of pixels. But not just. Various image formats also support the inclusion of additional information in the image file, things like resolution, focal length, shutter speed, GPS data, and more. This extra stuff, commonly referred to as Exif data, can be useful for tagging and search, but it may not necessarily be the best thing when it comes to privacy.

In this article, I'd like to show you a few useful methods for how to examine and then optionally remove Exif data from your photos or images, so that if you must share them with other people, they don't contain too much unnecessary information other than pretty pixels. I'll mostly focus on Linux, with some small extras for Windows folks. All right, follow me.

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Updated: May 17, 2021 | Category: Linux

Kubuntu 21.04 review

In the forest, flowers bud. In the distroland, new Tuxies are born into the spring season of testing. We shall commence with a fresh round of Linux escapades. But, unlike many a year before, my focus will be somewhat different. Reduced, more minimal, hopefully less emotional. With disenchantment gripping me soul, I will commence fast 'n' furious reviews unless they merit proper, prolonged usage.

My scapegoat no.1 shall be Kubuntu 21.04. Overall, Kubuntu is my chosen Linux distro for serious, productivity use. LTS, of course. This interim version is more of a soft primer of what we might expect to see in a year or two. But like most distro releases, it's primarily powered by inertia. After all, six months is barely enough time to do proper QA (right?), let alone churn out complete distros. Well, my test box shall be an IdeaPad 3, with Ryzen and Vega innards, triple-booting Linux and Windows stuff. Let us begin.

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Updated: May 14, 2021 | Category: Game reviews

Transport Fever 2 review

Buoyed by my recent experience with Workers & Resources, a monumentally fun and addictive economy building game, I decided to explore a handful of fresh titles out there, and see if I can find some new gems buried deep under the Hills of Gaming. One title that kept up coming up in Steam suggestions was Transport Fever 2. This seems to be a transport tycoon type of game, whereby you need to link your industries and cities with a network of trains and trucks, plus an assorted collection of buses, planes or ships. Instantly, I thought of OpenTTD, the open-source version of the famous, legendary Transport Tycoon Deluxe. Sounds like a good start.

The game price is similar to most of the competition, in the range of roughly USD30. Not the cheapest, but hey, if I get to enjoy hundreds of hours of fun from it, that's a bargain. The question is always, will the gamble pay off? Looking at my collection of Steam games over the years, I'd say that only about half were good choices, while the rest were average or even less than that. There's a very thin line between fantastic and boring. Now, let's review Transport Fever 2.

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Updated: May 12, 2021 | Category: Books

Decay

Here we go. Over the years, some of you have expressed interest in audio versions of my books. As it turns out, some people don't like the printed format (or digital for that matter), while others are just too busy to sit down and read. Hence, audio books. Well, I'm happy to announce that Decay, the first volume in the Humanz trilogy is now available on Audible, Amazon and iTunes!

I decided to embark on the audio experiment several months ago. The first task? Finding the right person to narrate your work. Luckily, a friend had a recommendation, which always makes things easier. Decay – and coming soon, Darkness too – has been compiled into an audio work by Andrew James Roberts of Kraken Media. I have to say, I'm really pleased with the outcome. Andrew has a wide range of sound, and he really helped out bring the characters to life with distinct voices. In a first-person, zombie-themed, Dystopian novella, this isn't an easy task. But I find the final product awesome, and I hope, so should you.

Amazon Audible (external links)

Updated: May 12, 2021 | Category: Linux

MXPI review

A couple of moons back, I tested MX Linux 19.3 on my new test laptop. The results were quite decent. Overall, MX Linux is a pretty solid distro, with decent looks, generous functionality out of the box, a nod toward the normies population, and several unique and cool features, like say the MX Tools, eh, toolbox. But software management ain't one of them.

In the review, I complained that users don't get any proper store - and various readers emailed me to point out that, in addition to Synaptic I mentioned, there's also MX Package Installer (MXPI), which is part of the MX Tools set. All of these emailed focused on my omission of mention of this utility, but not on the very specific phrasing I used - store. Indeed, when it comes to "shopping", Linux distros don't really offer any cohesive experience to the users. That said, let's review MXPI, shall we?

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Updated: May 10, 2021 | Category: Game reviews

BeamNG.drive keyboard & mouse driving

Some games are not meant to be played with keyboard and mouse. Car simulators, for one. The main reason is, you can't realistically portray the steering feedback or the pedal action with a binary on/off input, which is what happens when you use the keyboard. Your best choice is a steering wheel. But what if you simply don't have the hardware?

Recently, I encountered the problem of heavy car response and constant wheel locks in BeamNG.drive, a super-fun soft physics car simulator, making my attempts at reasonable driving to fail quickly and miserably. Now, I do have a G27, but I wasn't in the mood of setting up, so I thought, is there a way to actually make the keyboard usable? The answer is, yes, kind of.

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Updated: May 7, 2021 | Category: Windows

Windows 10 upgrade - 1909 to 20H2

Several weeks ago, I wrote an article about my Windows 10 update adventures. In that article, I outlined my experience. The process, overall, went okay. Of course, there was some low-IQ nonsense, in the best tradition of modern operating systems, but in the end, my blood pressure only spiked by about 300%. And then, I redid the exercise on a production system, and the results were ... well.

Have you see the movie Commando - probably one of the finest pieces of cinema in the history of the universe? Remember the scene where John Matrix holds Sully over a cliff, and says: "I lied." Well, I hath spoken too early. This second round of upgrade adventures didn't go quite as planned, and now, we must share.

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Updated: May 5, 2021 | Category: Internet

Noscript for ordinary users

The Noscript Security Suite (NSS) is a fantastic, fantastic tool. It comes as an extension for Firefox and various Chromium-based browsers, and what it does is transform the useless, noisy so-called "modern" Internet into a pool of tranquility. And it does so by blocking scripts and other elements on Web pages. Beautiful, elegant. You end up with a fast, quiet experience. No nagging, no overhead. When you do need scripting, you selectively enable it. Works great, but only if you're a techie.

Unfortunately, for common folks AKA not nerds, this is not a solution. They can't be bothered with per-site permissions, figuring out if something is broken when scripts don't run, or similar. But then, what if you do want to have all the flexibility of non-restricted browsing but still use some of the great powers of Noscript? Well, I think I may have the formula. Follow me.

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Updated: May 3, 2021 | Category: Internet

Microsoft Edge review

For me, Firefox is the best browser there is. Since early days, I've been using it as my primary browser. Despite Mozilla's best efforts to mess up its awesomeness, Firefox remains the king of the Internet. Best looks, best privacy, most customization. But then, I've always kept a secondary browser, just in case, primarily for site testing and compatibility purposes. That second choice has varied over the years.

For a while, I used Opera, then switched to Chrome. And now, after totally ignoring Edge for a few years - it's completely blacklisted from running on most of my Windows boxes via IFEO - I am starting to ponder its value. This thought process is directly proportional to my dislike of various "technologies" that Chrome is using, and my overall disenchantment with anything "modern" Web. I've already tested the Chromium-based Edge several times, including the early preview builds on Linux and separately on Android. And now, I actually have it proper-installed, and I'm actually using it. Go figure.

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Updated: April 30, 2021 | Category: Linux

Enthusiastic Plasma desktop overview

Normally, I tried to avoid bombastic articles with WOWSERS! type of titles. The hype is usually directly proportional to the level of disappointment by the time you're done reading. But my recent escapades in the Linux desktop space prompted me to go for a somewhat gushy piece extolling the many awesome virtues of the Plasma desktop. Because it is, factually, the best desktop environment by a long league. Word.

Of course, what I'm saying is subjective. And you're likely to go - aha, a KDE fanboi! or some such phrase. But let's put our bias aside and judge software by its actual merit - the value it offers to the end user. This article is a sort of summary of years and years of experimentation with the Linux desktop, the many woes and problems I encountered, and then the potential and/or viable solutions. And in most cases, the answer is, overwhelmingly, Plasma. Let's begin.

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Updated: April 28, 2021 | Category: Office

Disable smooth cursor in Office 2016

If you're using Microsoft Office 2016, you may have noticed an annoying thing. When you type, the cursor does not move in a discrete fashion. Instead, it smooth-flows, creating an effect like your letters are being somehow magically drawn on the screen. Why would this be a featured in a professional tool, beats me.

When I bought myself a new desktop, I installed Windows 10 on it - and also Office 2016. If I compare this experience to the previous combo - Windows 7 + Office 2010, this is a definite ergonomic regression. In particular, in Office 2016, the Styles box isn't pinned by default, and needs a little bit of tweaking, the Navigation only works with Headings and doesn't show say Title or Subtitle, and overall, it just feels less serious. But this cursor thing is the biggest annoyance. Let me show you how to disable this silly animation thing.

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Updated: April 26, 2021 | Category: Linux

Make Plasma look like Windows 10

Why? Why not! There are three reasons why anyone would want to attempt this. One, because they can, ergo nerds who want to have fun. Two, to see how flexible and powerful the Plasma desktop really is. Three, to make Plasma look like Windows, because the target users expect such looks regardless of functionality. Can it work, though?

After testing a bunch of Windows 7/10 themes in non-Plasma desktops a few days back, I decided to expand my experiment and see how Plasma copes with this rather unnecessary yet interesting challenge. So far, I've attempted Mac makeover and Unity customization with fairly decent degrees of success. Now, I'd like to try my luck with the Windows skinning attempt. In my other tests, the results weren't that promising. Here? Well, below, this be a Plasma desktop made to look like Windows 10. Now, let's commence.

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Updated: April 23, 2021 | Category: Windows

Windows 10 updates adventure

Over the years, I've gone from a rather content Windows user to one that is running Windows because there isn't a suitable alternative for my needs. It's a no-choice choice. Windows 10, while pretty and reasonable most of the time, is not as good as its predecessors. And by that I mean, the reliability of its updates, the consistency of its UI, the everyday annoyances. We talked about this many, many times, just go through my Windows section for more delights.

Thus, every time I update the system, I brace myself for some bad news. Will the new "agile" updates break something? Will I see yet another low-IQ feature added to the desktop? Will I have to spend useless time fixing useless things that do nothing of value whatsoever? Well, let me share a story then! I powered on my new test machine, Lenovo IdeaPad 3, which has a triple-boot setup, Windows 10 plus two instances of different Linux distributions, and I booted into the Windows session. I've not done this in a few months. Waiting for me were some updates and the 20H2 upgrade. Oh golly. 'Tis an adventure. Let's!

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Updated: April 21, 2021 | Category: Game reviews

Workers & Resources: Soviet Republic aircraft guide

Planes go brrr. At the time of writing, this was the only piece of information available on the Workers & Resources fandom page regarding the newly introduced aircraft functionality. Things may or will change by the time you read this article, but I had to toil all on my own, figuring out how to get my airport working, and even more importantly, my aircraft factory working.

So comrades, I want to tell you how I mastered the planes in Workers & Resources: Soviet Republic. I've already written two industry guides, and also showed you how to manage train traffic in a smart way that doesn't hog the limited border connections, with short external and long internal traffic loops. All right, now we will take to the air. Follow me.

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Updated: April 19, 2021 | Category: Linux

Make Linux look like Windows

Here we go again. Roughly three years ago, I showed you how to skin your Linux installation to look more like Windows, should your particular taste lean in that direction. It was an interesting little experiment. Also nerdy to the core. But apart from possible nostalgia and tech glamor, there might also be practical reasons for why someone would want to make their distro look more like a Microsoft product. And the answer is: entice non-techie people who expect the familiar.

Say you install a distro for folks with zero Linux knowledge and some rudimentary Windows familiarity. Normally, this is a recipe for disaster. I call this The Grandma Gentoo Test (TGGT), AKA how likely is the ordinary person to master the subtleties of computer usage without your nerdy help? But this is true for all operating systems, except Windows had been around for a long time, and it's the primary desktop interface that most people somewhat know how to somewhat use. So then, can you make your chosen distro behave like Windows, and nonce the wiser?

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Updated: April 16, 2021 | Category: Game reviews

Workers & Resources: Soviet Republic train guide

Comrades, welcome! Today, I want to tell you how to efficiently, smartly and frustration-freely transport goods from your socialist factories to and from the border customs houses, and conduct a smooth operation of profit and supply. I've already talked to you about the major concepts of commerce in my two industry guides, and now, I want to focus on the rail.

As in real life, Workers & Resources does transport thusly - trucks for short haul, trains for long haul, ships for bigass quantities. Makes sense. Trains are super useful as they combine speed and capacity. This means if you want your industries to work well, you must use them. But then, how do you do that well?

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Updated: April 14, 2021 | Category: Linux

DING extension review

Whenever I see anything Next Generation, my immediate association is of course Star Trek TNG. Hence, you ought to read this review in Captain Picard's voice. Should make everything more interesting. Now, the reason why we're here is to talk about Desktop Icons NG, a Gnome extension designed to give you that most basic of functionalities - desktop icons. For a while, there has been a namesake extension, but now it's been deprecated and a new version be born. NG. Engage.

I decided to try using it in this or that flavor of Gnome, to see how it affects or, ideally, improves my Gnome desktop experience. While I normally like to keep my desktops tidy and clean, and only use it for application launchers (primarily in Windows) and occasional reminders slash TODO notes, I am also aware that people do need the desktop space, and for many, it's a convenient place to keep files for quick use. So let's see how this new version improves the experience. Make is so.

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Updated: April 12, 2021 | Category: Windows

How to uninstall programs in Windows 10

In an ideal world, software management should be easy. Install, done. Uninstall, also done. But sometimes, even legitimate programs, due to badly implemented code and other various errors and bugs, refuse to uninstall quickly or cleanly. I recently encountered this issue - probably my first ever I'd say - on a Windows 10 machine, with a printing utility that would simply not uninstall.

The reasons for why I wanted it removed are outlined in my Marvels of modern operating systems article. Indeed, the reasons are not important. What matters is that I could not remove the utility using the standard Add/Remove functionality in Windows Settings, and I needed something more stringent. Luckily, Microsoft provides a dedicated tool for just this kind of issue. Let's review.

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Updated: April 9, 2021 | Category: Linux

MX Linux MX-19.3 patito feo review

More distro testing. And hopefully, today's experience shall be pleasant. To that end, I'm sort of going with a safe bet - MX Linux. Over the years, this small distro has grown and grown, but also matured, becoming a reasonable choice for serious desktoping. Well, for me, MX-18 was the best release, and I wasn't too keen on the latest yesteryear offering, version 19, as it was.

A year has passed, and MX Linux has had three dot revisions, which should be sufficient time to spit and polish any early bugs and bring back the old robust glory of the '17 and '18 crop. I will test the distro on me new scapegoat box, a triple-boot IdeaPad with an AMD processor and Vega graphics. Ought to be interesting. Follow me.

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Updated: April 7, 2021 | Category: Game reviews

Workers & Resources: Soviet Republic industry guide TNG

Welcome to my new and improved industry guide for the glorious Workers & Resources: Soviet Republic game. Now that I've racked about 200 hours worth of playing, in a remarkably short period if time, mind, it is time for a second guide that will show you how to build a flourishing and profitable socialist paradise!

In my first article, I gave you some basic tips and tricks on storage facility, transport, how to lay down an efficient industry zone, with easy access to raw materials and fast throughput of goods. Now, I want to show you an even more advanced way of doing things. Let's get on with some imperialist-capitalist ideas, shall we, comrades?

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Updated: April 2, 2021 | Category: Other software

Internet of Things (IoT)

It's been about 10-15 years since I first heard the term Internet of Things (IoT). Like a wild ninja, it appeared out of nowhere, harbingered by excited management, who then tasked different teams to find problems to solve using this new concept. And I thought, wait a mo! Shouldn't it be the other way around? As in, you have real problems, and then you find the most adequate solution for them? Well, it's been 10-15 years since. And like U2 sings, they still haven't found what they're looking for.

Which is why I wanted to write this article. Ponder a little about the whole concept. What does IoT really do, and how it actually, supposedly helps and improves lives, if at all? So turn your cynicism thrusters to 11, lean back and listen to a dinosaur explain why, sometimes, despite your best enthusiasm, the fact you can do something doesn't mean you should.

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