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

Updated: February 16, 2019 | Category: Linux

Xfce apps

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

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

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Updated: February 15, 2019 | Category: Virtualization

VirtualBox & disk resize

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

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

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Updated: February 13, 2019 | Category: Office

Able2Extract Professional 14

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

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

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Updated: February 11, 2019 | Category: Internet

Firefox pinned tabs

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

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

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Updated: February 9, 2019 | Category: Internet

Firefox Quantum session manager

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

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

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Updated: February 8, 2019 | Category: Windows

Windows 10 Build 1809 upgrade

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

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

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Updated: February 7, 2019 | Category: Linux

Slimbook Pro2 & Kubuntu 18.04, report 5

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

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

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Updated: February 4, 2019 | Category: Office

Google Docs review

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

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

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Updated: February 2, 2019 | Category: Internet

Firefox 65 slowness

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

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

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Updated: February 1, 2019 | Category: Linux

MX Linux MX Tools review

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

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

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Updated: January 30, 2019 | Category: Linux

Notepad++ in Linux

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

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

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Updated: January 28, 2019 | Category: Short stories

Just a Silly Robot

"The Drake Equation is a bitch."

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

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

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

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Updated: January 27, 2019 | Category: Greatest sites

Greatest sites

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

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

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Updated: January 25, 2019 | Category: Linux


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

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

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Updated: January 23, 2019 | Category: Office

A day in office without MS Office

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

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

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Updated: January 21, 2019 | Category: Virtualization

VirtualBox 3D acceleration & black screen

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

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

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Updated: January 18, 2019 | Category: Various

Technology - change for the sake of change

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

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

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Updated: January 16, 2019 | Category: Linux

Plasma desktop ergonomics

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

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

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Updated: January 14, 2019 | Category: Linux

MX Linux MX-18 Continuum

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

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

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Updated: January 12, 2019 | Category: Game reviews

ArmA3 Chernarus Winter

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

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

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Updated: January 11, 2019 | Category: Linux

Slimbook Pro2 & Kubuntu 18.04, report 4

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

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

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Updated: January 9, 2019 | Category: Linux

Linux Mint 19.1 Tessa

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

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

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Updated: January 7, 2019 | Category: Virtualization

Boxes virtualization

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

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

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Updated: January 6, 2019 | Category: Office

LibreOffice productivity tweaks

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

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

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Updated: January 4, 2019 | Category: Office

LibreOffice icon themes

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

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

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Updated: January 2, 2019 | Category: Linux

Fedora 29 customization

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

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

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Updated: December 31, 2018 | Category: Linux

Best distro of 2018

For the end is near. Of the calendar year, that is. Julian. And vote we must, declare the finest Linux distribution in the past dozen months, in the best of traditions since I started making this series of article, that is. We've already done the voting thingie on Plasma, Xfce and Gnome desktops, but now we do a collective one that covers all angles.

Back in 2017, Kubuntu Zesty won my heart. It was just delightful, and it was such a shame this was only one of the short-lived interim releases. One of the rare highlights of the desktop adventure in recent times. But then, 2018 has had its curious moments too. Let's see what happened in the land of Tux, shall we. After me, brave users.

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Updated: December 29, 2018 | Category: Linux

WINE apps & HD display scaling

Here's a story for you - you need it to understand the reasoning for this article slash guide. Got meself a new laptop, one Slimbook Pro2 and installed Kubuntu Beaver on it, right. Encountered HD scaling issues all over the place, which I fixed. So far so cushty.

Now, I also started reporting my daily slash weekly experience with this machine, used on full thrusters in a production environment, no restraint and no detail glossed over. If it's good, it's good, and if it's not, then hopefully, stuff will be fixed in future versions of Plasma, like the 5.14 release, for instance. I found out that the default KDE image viewer GwenView and the text editor Kate aren't quite as slick and efficient as their Windows counterparts by the names of IrfanView and Notepad++, respectively. So I installed these, and noticed they looked mighty tiny on Slimbook's 1920x1080px display. No scaling. Aha! The reason why we're here. Let's fix that, then, shall we?

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Updated: December 28, 2018 | Category: Internet


Back in 2011, I wrote about DuckDuckGo, a new search engine focused on privacy. I came looking for an alternative to Google, and found a tool that had a very promising future. Fast forward to 2018, DuckDuckGo (DDG) has been growing, gaining popularity, especially in the light of various privacy breaches that abounded in the past couple of years. Likewise, I've continued testing and trying this engine, exploring its options and abilities.

Which means it's time for another review. For me, switching software and products is not a trivial thing, because I like things to be perfect, especially if I need to change my usage patterns. Let's see whether DDG has reached the point where it can usurp the throne, and become the gateway for information. Commence.

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Updated: December 28, 2018 | Category: Books

Welcome to Pacific City

The sixth anthology has been published! Unleashed unto the world, available for immediate purchase! Welcome to Pacific City is a super-powered sci-fantasy anthology set in an all-new shared world dominated by countless Heroes and Villains! I’ve got my own hero in the book too, so all the more reasons for you to get it.

And you’d better hurry, ladies, gentlemen, and the odd superhero in disguise. Consider it an early holidays gift, you can buy the anthology at a reduced price. Until the New Year, that is, when things go up to their normal shelf cost. Also, for the first time for an anthology, there’s a paperback, too! Of course, there's me own story in this book - it's called Park Life. Not quite the superhero you expect, but surely one we all need.

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Updated: December 28, 2018 | Category: Books

Short story: The Hunt

Ho ho ho! Crimson Streets has just published my holiday-themed short story The Hunt. As it goes, Santa Claus gets arrested for burglary. While trying to save the world. On Halloween. Wearing flip-flops.

"Your name?"

"Nicholas Sinteklaas."

The investigator frowned, his expression one of well-practiced skepticism. "That's a Dutch name."

"That it is," Nicholas said, pulling a deep smoke.

"You don't look Dutch, you don't sound Dutch."

Nicholas blew the smoke at the policeman. "I'm from Aruba, officer."

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Updated: December 26, 2018 | Category: Linux

Kate text editor productivity

The Kate text editor is a nice, versatile piece of program. But it's not without issues. While I do like it, and I do use in the Plasma desktop environment, the reason why we gathered here, I am sometimes frustrated with how the program behaves. The tab management is tricky, some of the functions are too hidden, and we also had to deal with saving sessions, which also goes toward making Kate more efficient.

As part of my everyday Plasma usage journey, with Slimbook Pro2 and Kubuntu, I'm trying to expose and then fix all sorts of niggles and issues that may arise, which often stand in between perfection and professionalism on one end and the everyday humdrum that is the Linux desktop. Hopefully, today, I can give you some useful pointers that will make you not reach out for a WINE app like Notepad++ as a solution. Which is exactly what I did, as I told you in my Slimbuntu experience report deux. Follow me.

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Updated: December 24, 2018 | Category: Linux

Best Gnome distro of 2018

We talked about Xfce. We talked about Plasma. ‘Twas a turbulent year, and yet, it didn’t really have any defining Linux moments. More sort of steady state, stuck in the middle of a prolonged identity crisis where both the desktop and Linux are struggling to find innovation. Now we ought to talk about Gnome, the third of the triumvirate. What be the best distro of 2018 wearing the Gnome desktop environment cape?

Last year, I wasn’t really impressed with what Gnome had to offer. Following a brief spike in hope from the year earlier, this particular desktop environment settled into a pattern of inaccessible defaults and high resource usage, making it rather unsuitable for everyday use. Sure you can adapt it and tweak it, but then there are better, more elegant choices out there. Let’s see what happened in 2018 – and remember, it’s Gnome only, so we won’t be discussing the likes of Linux Mint or Deepin. After me.

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Updated: December 22, 2018 | Category: Linux

Gnome 3 uninstall extensions

If you're using the Gnome desktop, due to its minimalistic nature, you must have been exposed to the concept of extensions, and probably used some. The workflow is as follows: you install a browser extension and the shell package, you install extensions through the official website, and then you tweak the extensions on/off through the Gnome Tweak Tool. But what if you want to remove an extension? Permanently?

It is quite easy to add extensions, and also very easy to toggle their state, from enabled to disabled, and vice versa. However, turning an extension off does not actually remove it. So how does one go about uninstalling Gnome extensions? Let's see.

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Updated: December 21, 2018 | Category: Cars

Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI BlueMotion review

Over the years, I've driven many Volkswagen models, but apart from a short stint with Golf R, I never really got a chance to drive the quintessential family car. Recently though, the favors turned, providing me with a two-day opportunity to test a Golf 1.6 TDI BlueMotion.

With roughly 600 km of road surfaces under the wheels, I can now say I've finally garnered a much better impression of what Golf is all about. After all, it's consistently voted the car of the year since its inception back in 1974, and it comes with a hard-to-beat formula of good looks, reliability, practicality, and solid performance. Let's see how it fared in Dedoimedo's arms tonight.

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Updated: December 19, 2018 | Category: Linux

Chkrootkit false positive warning

Occasionally, I test the few security tools that exist in Linux distributions, to see what they offer and whether they really have merit. One such tool is Chkrootkit, and so far, I've reported not one but two false positives over the years - including lkm warning and suckit infected message. And now I've stumbled upon another dud, and this is one called Linux/Ebury - Operation Windigo.

I came across this result while testing the Ubuntu-based Robolinux 9.3, and given its strong focus on security, the finding is doubly alarming. But as I suspected right away, it seems to be another false positive, and so I did a little more testing and checking. Let me show you what gives.

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Updated: December 15, 2018 | Category: Linux

Best KDE distro of 2018

Let us Plasma. A few days ago, we talked about the bestest Xfce distro of 2018. It was an interesting but also somewhat predictable experiment, as things haven’t changed that much on the Xfce scene, with most distros slowly moving along, well set in their grooves, some oiled, some rusty. Now, we need to examine another desktop environment, and the choice de jour is KDE.

Looking back at yesteryear, there was a flurry of activity including the more than solid 17.04 Zesty, which turned out to be a turning point [sic], one of the most refreshing and complete operating systems to hit the Tux market in a long while. Then, I also wrote, perhaps with mild prophetic genius, that KDE seems to be on the right path, and that good things ought to continue into the future. And today, that future is our past. And explore and judge we must.

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Updated: December 14, 2018 | Category: Linux

Slimbook Pro2 & Kubuntu 18.04, report 3

More proverbial miles (well, kilometers really) on the digital road, more findings. New experiences ready to be reported. A couple of months ago, I got meself a new laptop, one Slimbook Pro2, and it is now serving a noble cause. It's being used in a real, production setup, doing all the things that I'd normally do on a Windows box. The goal is to see whether Linux can be used for everyday desktop work. Every facet thereof.

I'm a pragmatic fella, and I like everything to work clockwork, including games, office work, whatnot. At the moment, this is mostly a Windows domain, and Linux still isn't quite ready to usurp it. True, I've been using Linux for some serious productivity desktop stuff for many years, but never 100%. And I'm still not doing it. But I'm trying. This Slimbook journey is an attempt to examine this case, plus it's fun. So far, you've had two merry reports on my experiences with this machine and its operating system - Kubuntu Beaver. Here's a third installment. After me.

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Updated: December 12, 2018 | Category: Linux

Fedora 29 Gnome

Here we go. As you've already seen, I completed one Fedora 29 test so far. It was an in-vivo upgrade of a Fedora 28 instance on my Lenovo G50 laptop with UEFI and Intel graphics. The experiment went well, although it was a bit slow - paradoxically, it always takes less time to do a fresh install than an upgrade - and everything worked well. But let's not forget, I re-used my system and tweaks, and we're talking hours of fine-tuning and polish that went into making the distro nice.

Now, I want to start fresh. A clean install in a dual-boot configuration on an old (2009) laptop with Nvidia graphics. This should be doubly interesting, as we will be able to witness how well the new Fedora handles the hardware stack, how accessible the distro is out of the box, given its Gnome heritage, and lastly see how it works in general. Follow me please.

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Updated: December 10, 2018 | Category: Linux

Elinks text browser & Linux rescue

I contemplated long and hard what title to use for this article, because the topic is somewhat convoluted. So let me explain. Say you have a Linux box that suddenly refused to boot into the desktop environment. For instance, you may have just installed graphics drivers, but they are not loading, and you don't get any graphical interface. Only a text shell. The old runlevel 3 stuff.

At this point, rescuing the system will usually require three things: skill, access to the Web, and some extra files, like updated drivers, new kernel, whatever. The first one comes with you, but the two other two, well, for most people, going about the Web is not doable without a browser, which means UI. Except, not really. You can use a text browser, and in this article, I'll show you how to use Elinks to search the Web, grab packages and drivers, and fix your box. After me.

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Updated: December 8, 2018 | Category: Windows

SyncBack Free

I cannot stress enough how important data backups - and system images, if you will - are. There are many reasons for having your data safely replicated to another location. Hard disks can fail, hardware can get stolen, you can accidentally corrupt your files. Unlike real life, where you can't have a clone of yourself, not yet anyway, software gives you easy ways to create copies of your data.

In the Windows environment, my favorite data backup (and replication software) is Karen's Replicator. Alas, since the author unfortunately passed away several years ago, it has not been maintained, and it does not work well with Windows 8 and above. A change in the NTFS data structure sometime in 2017 made Karen Replicator unable to create new folders. I began a hunt for an heir, and found out that there's too much focus on cloud backups. Eventually, I found a bright spark among the ashes - a program called SyncBack Free. Hence, this review.

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Updated: December 5, 2018 | Category: Linux

Best Xfce distro of 2018

The current calendar year is slowly converging toward its end. That means one thing! Well, two things. Festivities and liver stress testing for most people (that’s one thing), and Linux distro evaluation. Indeed, the past almost-year has gone by with many an ISO etched and booted. Following the tradition from the previous few years, we shall examine the annual landscape and do some awards, and the first desktop environment to undergo the verbal treatment shall be Xfce.

Before we begin, please remember. This is an entirely subjective article. It is also an article with a limited scope, because there are so many distros and only so few Dedoimedos – Highlander style, there be only one. Hence, I will focus on the systems I’ve tested and tried. If you don’t see your favorite Linux here, don’t go all crusading on me right away. Instead, comment down your own experience, and perhaps next year, I may choose those over and among the many samplings and delights out there. Now, let us peacefully and civilly proceed.

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Updated: December 3, 2018 | Category: Internet

Firefox cookies sqlite corruption

A strange problem befell one of my computers running Windows, with Firefox being the default browser, utilizing a profile that goes back a good decade or more. One blue Monday, I opened the browser, went to one of the sites I frequently visit and use, and noticed that I'd been logged out. Another site, same thing. It would appear all my login sessions were gone.

Since I keep multiple backups of everything, I restored the Firefox cookies database - cookies.sqlite file into the Firefox profile, and I was back to normal. Several days later, the issue happened again. Intrigued, I started exploring this somewhat obscure and not-well-documented problem. I believe I know why, and I have a solution.

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Updated: December 1, 2018 | Category: Linux

Fedora 28 to 29 upgrade

It is time to take a little break from Ubuntu-focused distro reviews and talk about Fedora. Now that it's had its 29th release unveiled, I ought to test it. And test it I shall, twice. First, I'd like to upgrade my existing instance of Fedora 28 sitting in the eight-boot setup on my Lenovo G50. Then, if that goes well, I will test the distro on an older laptop with Nvidia graphics, because why not.

Also, why not a fresh install on your Lenovo? Well, I wasn't too impressed with Fedora 28, but after a while, I had the distro really nicely set up - new repos, all the media codecs and extras apps, tons of cool extensions, and a lot more besides, and you can glimpse the evidence of this hard labor (re: pimpage) in me article on this subject. It would be a shame to trash all this, plus it's a great opportunity to test the Fedora upgrade process once more. So far, it's worked well for me. Anyway, let's continue.

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