Please support Dedoimedo - consider buying my tech and fiction books. Thank you!

Updated: September 25, 2020 | Category: Car reviews

BMW X3 xDrive20d xLINE review

If you've read my latest Eurotrip article, then you've already met our star for today. A few months back, I changed my grubby hands upon one BMW X3, and drove it from Lyon, France to Berlin, Germany, a handy trip worth 1,200 km, including some decent speeding on the autobahn. In the previous piece, I focused more on the journey itself, with hintful bits and pieces about the car itself. Now, we must fully dedicated ourselves to the SUV and its merits.

This ain't the first time I drove the X3 - but last time, I had the more powerful 3.0-liter diesel, which is the sort of engine used to turn smaller planets with its immense and all-too-fun torque figure. The more restrained 2.0-liter four-cylinder specimen is here, producing "only" 190 HP and solid 400 Nm of torque, spread democratically on both axles. So let's see what gives.

Read more ...

Updated: September 23, 2020 | Category: Linux

Plasma 5.19 review

Well, well, here we are. So you may be wondering, why am I testing Plasma 5.19 so belatedly. The answer to that question is multifold. One, I've spent some time away from Linux, recharging my proverbial batteries. Two, recently, I've encountered a bunch of problems in Plasma, and decided to slow down, lest I poison my own good experience with this otherwise phenomenal desktop environment.

Now that I've recuperated - look at me, I'm smiling, you can't see the scars, ha ha - it's time to take a look at what seems to be the latest crop of the Plasma. On my KDE neon box, after a series of rigorous updates, Stable Developer Edition mind, the splash screen read 5.19.4, which puts us half way to 5.20. All right, let me walk you through this endeavor.

Read more ...

Updated: September 21, 2020 | Category: Linux

RPI4 & Ubuntu MATE

Roughly two months ago, I embarked on my RPI4 home mini-desktop viability fun study, trying to decide whether the tiny board can be used as a general-purpose machine, providing a relatively cheap alternative to a full-fledged PC when it comes to basic tasks - browsing, media, whatnot. My initial testing soon exploded into a whole range of reviews and tutorials. My conclusion was, yes, you can do it, but there's a lot of work ahead of you, and you won't get an ideal video playback experience.

It's time to revisit my initial findings with Ubuntu MATE - there have been a lot of changes and improvements added both to the underlying operating system, the desktopify script that transforms the Server image into a desktop one, and the MATE desktop environment itself. Primarily, we're talking improved hardware support, with emphasis on 3D drivers. That's the theory, and now, the practice. After me.

Read more ...

Updated: September 18, 2020 | Category: Life wisdom

How to tell genuine from fake in 2020

Twenty years ago, if anyone asked you what the future Internet would look like, you most likely would have guessed wrong. You wouldn't have said: a filthy digital landscape that is getting filthier by the day, with rare nuggets of sanity and quality here and there. Which brings us to our problem. If you are keen on partaking in this idiocracy, you may find it hard to separate good from bad.

Recently, I read a few articles talking about the rising phenomenon of fake product reviews on online shopping platforms, and the associated outrage around it. As always, most people conflate multiple issues, and forget the most important rule of social conduct: personal accountability. So I'd like to take a moment or three and tell you how you should go about your online life, with the successful outcome of being able to tell genuine from fake on the modern Internet. Let's.

Read more ...

Updated: September 16, 2020 | Category: Linux

Asus Vivobook & Kubuntu Bionic to Focal upgrade

Time for an adventure. As you may well remember, I upgraded my Asus Vivobook from Trusty to Bionic not that long ago, and in the process discovered all sorts of wonders and snags. All in all, I found the move reasonable, and settled for the KDE desktop, because it's good, I like, I tell my wife, she agree, very nice.

Now, we must do the journey again - and we will go from Kubuntu 18.04 to 20.04. My expectation is, based on my testing of the Plasma desktop over the past few years, to have a somewhat improved experience, with nice sprightly performance and significantly improved Samba connectivity. Well, let's see what gives.

Read more ...

Updated: September 14, 2020 | Category: Linux

RPI4, MATE desktop & essential tweaks

Hear, hear. Today, I have a rather lengthy article for you. I want to show you all the different changes and tweaks I had to introduce to my Raspberry Pi 4 and its resident Raspberry Pi OS, in order to transform a fairly bland operating system into a stylish, eye-turning desktop. To that end, first step, I installed the MATE desktop environment.

Similar to what we did with Ubuntu MATE, we will now tweak the MATE desktop on top of Raspberry Pi OS. Please note that most of the tips and tricks outlined in the other tutorial are valid and applicable here, but we need more. Now, take a deep breath and follow me, for there's quite some work ahead of us.

Read more ...

Updated: September 11, 2020 | Category: Linux

Plasma desktop adventures

If Linux were a mathematical function, it would be a sine. You go up, up, up, all is good, then top, and down, wheee, panic, despair, and you're up again. And on and on it goes, the emotional rollercoaster. The thing, I'm extensively using the Plasma desktop, both in my production setup and on my test boxes, trying out the new features, uncovering bugs, discovering bugs, and whatnot. Fun game, but there are tears, too.

Well, in between the Plasma testing and Slimbook reports, here we go. In particular, before we plow on, I'd like to draw your attention to two of my articles slash reviews, please. First, my original take on Plasma 5.18 LTS, which was less than ideal. Then, there's second test of the 5.18 desktop, conducted a few weeks later, which shows all the bugs and problems being resolved. But the advenutre does not end there.

Read more ...

Updated: September 9, 2020 | Category: Linux

MX Linux MX-19.2 KDE

A few weeks ago, something momentous almost happened. I was this close to not doing any more Linux desktop reviews, at all. I've found the exercise absolutely draining lately, with little to no joy to be had from the software at hand. I won't repeat myself, but we all know what gives - the Linux desktop is more or less stuck in the 2014-2015 vibe, and the only thing we get more of are regressions and sadness. But then, I decided to keep testing, with a new approach. I will conduct reviews, but cut them early and short if I feel that there's no value in the experience.

So, with that in mind, I am going to look at MX Linux MX-19.2 KDE. Now, if me memory serves me right, this would be the first Plasma release for this distro, which normally specializes in lightweight Xfce works. Given that I've been mighty pleased with how the MX team did their distro in the past years, this should hopefully be a worthwhile escapade. After me.

Read more ...

Updated: September 7, 2020 | Category: Internet

OneTab extension (Firefox)

Occasionally, I get sent software recommendations by email. Believe it or not, I try to test as much as I can, even though it takes me years to go through the wishlist. And sometimes, I skip the queue, because a particular application looks rather interesting. One such example is OneTab.

This is a Firefox extension, for the post-Quantum world. Indeed, I've lamented the loss of Tab Mix Plus, as it was one of the best, most versatile add-ons for the browser EVAR made Since Firefox 57, I've been a-huntin' for a nice, elegant session manager with gusto. I did find one reasonable candidate - Session Sync. Now, there's another potential champion of tabs, and it's called OneTab. Let's see what gives.

Read more ...

Updated: September 4, 2020 | Category: Other software

The Powder Toy

One thing that defines (and unifies) the typical male between the age of 5 and 85 is the desire to blow things up. Which is why, if you have the ability to exercise explosive desires in a safe way, you should. Commence computer simulations. Commence The Powder Toy. To wit.

After I wrote my article on a similarly but less violently themed Biogenesis, a few readers mentioned The Powder Toy, a physics sandbox game that lets you realistically simulate interaction between gravity, air, pressure, heat, and various substances. Sounds like a recipe for awesome. Naturally, I set about testing.

Read more ...

Updated: September 2, 2020 | Category: Linux

Raspberry Pi OS & Network Manager

This article has a somewhat cryptic title, because the problem I am going to show and resolve here is not trivial. Long story short, you installed the MATE desktop in Raspberry Pi OS. Things are working fine, except there's no network icon in the panel. The network WORKS, but you can't control it.

You may even have installed network-manager-gnome (Network Manager) and enabled it, but it shows as an empty icon, with no Wireless networks detected and listed. As it happens, I faced this problem when I setup my Raspberry Pi 4, and so, I'd like to show you how to fix this. The solution is not pretty, but it works. Let's get to it, to it, to it, to it ...

Read more ...

Updated: August 31, 2020 | Category: Internet

Firefox 79 for Android review

Today, my Moto G6 phone had a little surprise for me. A new version of Firefox. Well, I thought, what's so special about it - ah, you see, quite a lot. This is the brand NEW mobile edition of the Firefox browser, bringing in a lot of changes under and above the hood. In essence, remember my Firefox Preview article? Well, that.

Anyway, I decided to install it and see what gives - and then share my findings with you. Because it's not only about this or that feature, it's about the future of the Web. With Idiocracy inevitably creeping on us, it's always good to know how much pain there's in store for a nerd like me (and you), come tomorrow. Let's commence.

Read more ...

Updated: August 28, 2020 | Category: Linux

Slimbook & Kubuntu combat report 13

Once again, I want to delight you (or annoy you, depends how you look at it) with another report of my extensive, real-life usage of the Slimbook Pro2 laptop in production-level conditions, a part of my long-term experiment slash desire to establish whether it's possible - and then how much - to use Linux as an everyday driver for a varied list of tasks (and not just hammering code). We've done twelve parts so far.

The general impression is good. This is a decent system, with a sturdy case, an amazing keyboard, nifty battery life, and 'tis pretty, too. The operating system de jour, Kubuntu 18.04 does a good job, too - we shall dare an upgrade sometime soon. Like I said, we had twelve reports so far, and if you're in the mood, do take a look at the last one perhaps. Now, not all is peachy, but it's mostly okay. So let's see what's changed since the last time we talked about this topic.

Read more ...

Updated: August 26, 2020 | Category: Virtualization

VirtualBox & bridged networking problem

I like V'box and I cannot lie, all you nerds cannot deny. The thing is, I use VirtualBox for all sorts of testing and whatnot. A fair deal. But now and then, this perfectly sensible program decides to misbehave and stop cooperating with my efforts. Case in point, bridged networking.

Over the years, I've written a bunch of guides revolving around VirtualBox networking features, like for instance my network & sharing tutorial, how to share over NAT with port-forwarding, and how to configure NAT networks. As it happens, I also happen to use the bridged network functionality, because it's simple and convenient, and seems to work reliably well, with wired and Wireless adapters and whatnot. For many years, there was no trouble, and suddenly, there is. Bridged networking stopped networking for me on Linux hosts running VirtualBox 6.X. Geddit? Network not-work. Ho ho. Follow me.

Read more ...

Updated: August 24, 2020 | Category: Internet

Youtube comments, cookies

Most people use Youtube. Even I, a dinosaur certified, do. And most of the time, the experience is reasonable, especially on the desktop, where adblocking prevents stupidity from assailing my senses. But now and then, Youtube suffers from a glitch or three, and the viewing ritual is interrupted.

I occasioned across several such glitches in Youtube all of a sudden, both in Firefox and Chrome. Annoyingly, there were different issues, and I found myself ping-ponging from one browser to another, trying to get the problems worked around or fixed, only to get surprised by a fresh new annoyance. So this little article will focus on several supposedly common and silly bugs that I encountered, and what I did to get back to a hassle-free watchdom.

Read more ...

Updated: August 21, 2020 | Category: Multimedia

Libreoffice 7.0 review

Welcome to Arcane Weekly! In today's corner on Linux problems what bother me, I want to talk to you about a rather curious usecase. So, you have a Plasma desktop environment, and you're using the Dolphin file manager. You use it to access Windows share via Samba. Then, you want to play an odd video clip, stored on the said Samba shares, and you open it in VLC. Sometimes this works, and sometimes, it doesn't.

I've encountered this problem in recent months - and it does not seem to be restricted to any particular version of Plasma, although I've seen this primarily in later editions - like Plasma 5.17 and Plasma 5.18. Things have improved a fair deal, especially the whole local caching business, but the intermittent playback issues still persist. You try to play the file, and then simply nothing happens. But on other occasions, this works just fine. Let's debug.

Read more ...

Updated: August 19, 2020 | Category: Office

Libreoffice 7.0 review

Over the last few years, I've done a fair share of Libreoffice reviews, focusing on different usability angles. First, there's the program itself and what it does, then whether it's suitable for everyday office use in the Office-heavy reality, and largely because of the previous point, the million-dollar question of when and if and how LibreOffice could actually become a viable, realistic substitute for (Microsoft) Office. My findings from the past dozen summers say no.

I feel there's been a steady slowdown in open-source enthusiasm in general - this of course affects LibreOffice, too. Across this entire space, we haven't made any significant progress since 2014-ish or so. But every time a new version of LibreOffice comes out, I rush to test it, to see if this is going to be THE version that weans me off Office. I think I represent the bulk of Windows users, who are dependent on the platform for office and gaming, all other considerations notwithstanding. With LibreOffice 7.0 out, we need see what gives.

Read more ...

Updated: August 17, 2020 | Category: Linux

RPI4 & Ubuntu MATE tweaks

All right. So I got myself a Raspberry Pi 4 and decided to try to turn into a proper mini desktop. This meant using an operating system with a full desktop environment. My choice for this experiment was Ubuntu MATE, which I installed and configured. The overall setup wasn't trivial, so I decided to dedicate a number of articles to showing you what you need to do to get the perfect desktop-like experience.

Most importantly, I've shown you how to enable video acceleration, how to setup audio, and now, I'm going to talk about various other changes and tweaks. We'll focus primarily on the desktop side of things, but there will be also be some pure Raspberry Pi elements. Let us begin then.

Read more ...

Updated: August 14, 2020 | Category: Internet

How to re-use old profile in Firefox

If there's one thing that has value when it comes to browsing - it's the user's browser profile. Over time, we accumulate a lot of data, be it extensions, bookmarks, UI customization, and whatnot. And then, occasionally, you may buy a new computer, or set up a new operating system, and you want to port an existing Firefox profile over, so you don't lose years worth of browsing habits and information.

You can do this via Firefox sync - but a method that has existed and work reliably before any online stuff is the simple copy & paste. Just chuck the old Firefox profile into the Firefox directory, and Bob's your uncle. Well, not anymore, it seemeth. Recently, I've encountered a problem, which made it impossible to reuse an old profile. I'd get a window that reads: "You've launched an older version of Firefox ... Using an older version of Firefox can corrupt bookmarks and browsing ..." This is nonsense, so we need to fix it.

Read more ...

Updated: August 12, 2020 | Category: Linux

Ulauncher review

Application launchers are an interesting phenomenon. They are both an amazing piece of software and also something that most people won't ever really need - or understand. They sit in the twilight zone between the Internet and your system menu. Which is what makes them so difficult to design and implement correctly.

The best example of a successful tool of this nature is Krunner. It's integrated into the Plasma desktop, and it works well. Practical, versatile, extensible, full of goodies. But then, when I try to think of other candidates, my brain doesn't really throw any easy answers. Various Linux desktop did and do attempt to offer smart menus, but none of them really have that almost-AI super-tool. This led me on a pilgrimage, and what I found is a program called Ulauncher. Stop, testing time.

Read more ...

Updated: August 10, 2020 | Category: Games reviews

Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition review

I'm a great fan of the AoE/AoM series of games. Many an hour of my life has been spent in delightful medieval castle building, resource harvesting and battles galore even since the game was release some 20 years back. When the remastered HD version came out a few years ago, I rushed to try and play it, and it was as if no time had passed. Wunderbarness all over.

Now, there's a new version of the game, called the Definitive Edition! It comes with some additional nations, new campaigns, somewhat revised AI, and most importantly, super-hi-res graphics, intended to bring the old AoE styling into the 2020s. With a low price tag and an enticing promise of a fresh bucket of enjoyment, I set about testing.

Read more ...

Updated: July 29, 2020 | Category: Windows

Windows 10 Build 2004 review

There comes a moment in a person's life when efficiency outweighs curiosity. At this point, you become a conservative git, and you only care about a small number of things that bring you joy. If your hobby is software, you are in for a ride, coz there be a new build of Windows 10!

Now, I'm using Windows 10 on my production systems - carefully and sparingly updated and thoroughly tamed, so there ain't no interfering with my dire need for efficiency. But I also happen to have a test box running aforementioned Ten (Home), and I've not really touched it in a while. The release of version 2004, the spring build of currentyear, gave me an opportunity to strap on me test boots and commence another review of Windows 10. Let's see what gives.

Read more ...

Updated: July 15, 2020 | Category: Linux

Raspberry Pi OS & Plasma review

While we're busy a-tutorialin' on all manner of topics regarding Raspberry Pi 4 that I got a few weeks back, I decided to expand my initial set of work beyond (mostly) the MATE desktop and see how well other desktop environments handle the heat. Literally and figuratively. Hi hi. Anyway, we have the results from Raspberry Pi OS and Ubuntu MATE, with some notable differences, but overall, you get a fairly consistent and fast experience. Then, I also got me testing the ARM spin of Manjaro KDE, which provided to be neat if under-optimized.

Early on in my Raspberry Pi 4 games, I did load the official operating system with both Xfce and Plasma, just to see what gives. I told you that Plasma was sluggish, and kind of left it there. But encouraged by the Manjaro test, I revisited this effort. After all, Plasma is super nice, so if it runs well, well ... Let's see what gives.

Read more ...

Updated: July 13, 2020 | Category: Linux

Linux Mint 20 Ulyana Cinnamon review

Testing two editions of the same distro one after another can be perilous - like reading a book series, you might get tired. But then, the experience is fresh, and you can really see how seemingly identical products behave, and compare their good and bad bits. Ideally, there would be no need for so many desktop environments, or distros, but hey, Linux is all about evolutionary anarchy without any higher strategic goal.

So far, Mint 20 Xfce gave us okay-ish results. Decent but not wonderful. Will I deploy it in my production setup? Nope. Is it better than say Xubuntu Focal or MX Linux 19? Not really. Am I a happy Linux user? Not for a long time now. Is my hope gone? Pretty much. Is there a point to this review? Yes. That's called optimism, when you expect nice results despite counterindicative evidence. Lenovo G50 laptop, Mint 20 Cinnamon, here we go.

Read more ...

Updated: July 11, 2020 | Category: Linux

Edit theme, black fonts

Most Linux distributions have this or that problem with fonts. Either they use bad fonts, suboptimal anti-aliasing and hinting, or the font color is wrong, resulting in a low-contrast setup that can cause eye strain. Or all of it. In Ubuntu MATE, the font choice and anti-aliasing are jolly, but the fonts are not 100% black, and this is a problem. With light themes, fonts should be pure black (hex value 000000).

In some desktop environments, changing font color is easy - hint, Plasma. But in MATE, this cannot be done using a UI tool. We will need to edit the system theme, similar to what I've shown you in Gnome 3, and more recently when I tested Linux Mint 20 Ulyana Xfce. In fact, what you learn today is applicable for any Gtk-based desktop, be it MATE, Cinnamon, Gnome, or indeed Xfce. But since I've doing a fair deal of testing and tweaking in the MATE environment lately, in an attempt to use Raspberry Pi 4 as a mini desktop, we will focus on Ubuntu MATE. So let me walk you through the steps required to make the fonts black and thus crisp and clear. After me, fellow nerds and enterprising techies.

Read more ...

Updated: July 10, 2020 | Category: Linux

Linux network connectivity issues

Do you know how you know you have a funny Linux problem? When it takes you more time to think of a suitable title for the article than the actual debugging. Because I encountered a rather bizarre network-related issue, and I spent a while trying to figure out what gives. I did solve it, and I'm sharing it now.

In essence, this is what happened. I found myself testing some new routers. In my KDE neon instance, I connected to the new wireless access point, and tried to browse. Nothing. I tried with a wired cable, and everything was fine. Then, I booted into a different Linux instance on this eight-boot machine, and the Wireless connectivity was working without any issues. Both systems were Ubuntu based, both using the 18.04 baseline. Well, time to figure out why my wireless was not behaving in neon.

Read more ...

Updated: July 8, 2020 | Category: Linux

Linux Mint 20 Ulyana Xfce review

It's been quite a while since I last reviewed a Mint Xfce edition. Since, I've mostly focused on the stock Cinnamon experience, with less than ideal results, I must say. But then, the slump isn't distro-specific, this is an ailment of the desktop world. Well, I figured, now that there's a new Linux Mint version available, I might as well start with a non-Cinnamon review. Then, we'll have a second article focusing on the flagship edition, so to speak, and we can compare the two, side by side.

Overall, my expectations are mid-high. The last couple of years of Linux distro testing have not been happy for me, and the last few months even less so. But then, every time, I hope I'll feel some of that naive joy I used to have when exploring distros and discovering amazeballs stuff. Anyway, let's commence. My G50 box with its eight-boot setup. Begin.

Read more ...

Updated: July 6, 2020 | Category: Games reviews

ArmA 3 & Malden 2035 map

No one would have believed, at the turn of the 21st century, that a small, obscure Czech game developer would create a good first person shooter. Because that's not what happened. They didn't create a good first person shooter. They created THE BEST first person shooter, the finest milsim in the history of computing and possibly the entire universe: Operation Flashpoint. In a world of arcade, Bohemia Interactive's title stood out as a beacon of hope for hardcore, uncompromising fun and realism. Even now, just saying Malden invokes a gush of deep nostalgia.

Fast forward two decades, ArmA 3 is the spiritual and material successor to Operation Flashpoint. And it doesn't forget its roots. The theme music is an orchestra piece laid over the original theme song, the gritty realism is ever present, and the community is working hard on re-creating the maps and scenarios from the older titles in the franchise. But then, nothing is sweeter than an official nod to the good ole times, and it comes in the form of Malden 2035, a future-reimagined map from Operation Flashpoint cast into the ArmA 3 universe. Naturally, it's time to go a-explorin', and what better way to do so than an intense, nerve-racking Dynamic Recon Ops (DRO) mission. Of course.

Read more ...

Updated: July 4, 2020 | Category: Linux

RPI4 & Manjaro Plasma 20.04

As you know, I've embarked on a peaceful crusade of trying to establish whether Raspberry Pi 4 can be used as an ordinary mini desktop. So far, I've shown you the first steps in my effort. I bought the hardware and I tested Ubuntu MATE and Raspberry Pi OS (formerly Raspbian) also running MATE, with a fair deal of tweaking and modifications.

Then, I got a bunch of emails, and people suggested I try the Manjaro Plasma 20.04 image built for ARM. And I thought, well, that sounds like a cool idea. My early exploration with the KDE desktop available in the Raspberry Pi OS repos wasn't encouraging. The performance was meh, and the visuals were so-so. But maybe a purpose-built Manjaro will be the dream system I need. Let's see.

Read more ...

Updated: July 3, 2020 | Category: Linux

RPI4, Ubuntu MATE & audio config

A few weeks ago, I got meself a 4GB Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, and set about a-tweakin' the living daylights out of it. I tried two operating systems - the official Raspberry Pi OS and Ubuntu MATE, and spent quite some time polishing both. Now, Ubuntu MATE has official, well-sorted images available for the older Pi models, but not just yet for the lasted board. This meant a fair deal of manual changes.

So far, I've shown you how to get rid of black bars and funny screen resolution, how to get HW acceleration, and now we will talk about audio setup - so you can have nice sound either via HDMI or 3.5mm headphones or external speakers. Like the other tutorials, the tweaks we need to introduce are based on how you'd normally do that using raspi-config, plus some extras. After me.

Read more ...

Updated: July 1, 2020 | Category: Games reviews, Old games

Panzer General review

Roughly 25 years ago, I remember playing Panzer General for the first time. The game's hexagonal-map, turn-based, inventory-and-strategy style grabbed me instantly, and became one of the enduring classics on my proverbial digital shelf of good ole antiquities. A few days ago, I fired up DOSBox and had another go at Panzer General. Not sure what prompted me to play it again, perhaps inspiration following a recent bout of reading military history books on Stalingrad and Berlin, or perhaps a big-boy-toy warehouse management OCD itch that lurks in every grown man. Or just the fact it's a darn good game, and it's time to play it, enjoy it, review it.

It may sound unusual talking about a 1994 game title - but hey, classics be classics. I did mention it in one of my DOSBox compilations on old game revival, but now I want to give it a proper, in-depth review, even if most of you won't be able to play it, or even find it. Besides, it's a trip down the memory lane. I don't remember the full journey, but I did preserve the game and its save files carefully over the years, from floppy (maybe) to CD to DVD to a folder on a disk, which could be mounted and summoned at will. My original game saves are there, most of them, the earliest dating back to 2000, and the newest to 2007. So not only do I get to have fresh fun, I also have a glimpse of my own military cunning two decades removed. Well, let's blitz.

Read more ...

Updated: June 29, 2020 | Category: Internet

Ublock Origin review

Every now and then, I receive an email from a reader asking me why I'm not using uBlock Origin. Or rather, why Adblock Plus and not uBlock Origin? Alas, the question is based on a wrong assumption. I do use it, I use them both (not at the same time), and it's on several of my recommended software lists. But I've never given it a proper review. Time to rectify that.

The modern Internet is a cesspit. A filthy place with tiny, isolated pockets of goodness. Adblocking isn't there to kill revenue streams for indie websites, it's there to stop nonsense from becoming the dominant force of any and every Web experience. Helping turn the tide are a few brave champions. I've already reviewed uMatrix, and you know my all-time-favorite Noscript. Now, let's have a look at uBlock Origin.

Read more ...

Updated: June 27, 2020 | Category: Linux

RPI4, Ubuntu MATE & video acceleration

Let's fix another problem. This is a big one, and technically speaking, the most important one. Because if you intend to use Raspberry Pi 4 as a desktop system, like I do, then hardware acceleration is a critical component of the overall experience. What this translates to, in layman's terms: smooth video playback with low system resource utilization and less heating.

By default, even the earlier Pi models could play 1080p movies without a problem. This means you ought to get solid results here, too. However, the default configuration is not (currently) optimized for a desktop experience, and we will need to make a few manual changes. Let me show you what you need to do on the system level first - and then how to allow Firefox, Chromium and VLC to use hardware acceleration. After me.

Read more ...

Updated: June 26, 2020 | Category: Linux

Fedora 32 tweaks

Over the years, I've published numerous tweaking guides for both CentOS and Fedora. Really, without spamming here with endless links, just have a look at the last two of this series, the CentOS 8 guide and the Fedora 29 guide. And then pay attention to the titles and the tone within.

With Fedora, I've moved away from my early, bubbly enthusiasm into a more somber, functional territory. Now, it's no longer a question of doing the extras for one's gratification, it's the question of creating a setup that offers a baseline level of efficiency and aesthetics that I find mandatory in an operating system. With the recently released Fedora 32, the out-of-the-box experience was quite rough for me. And I encountered all sorts of problems and issues. Which is why I'm writing this article. I'm not happy, I'm not going to use Fedora in my production setup any time soon, but you might, so hopefully, this guide will help you create a more usable configuration.

Read more ...

Updated: June 24, 2020 | Category: Windows

HWiNFO review

In Linux, getting detailed information on your hardware is relatively easy. In Windows, less so. Or rather, you need third-party software to get all the data you need. Now, if and when you can combine useful information with a reasonably laid out presentation layer, you get a must-have tool that can serve all your hardware curiosity needs.

One such utility is HWiNFO. Small, portable, standalone - and powerful. Now, throwing randomly grand adjectives about is easy. Which is why I ought to write a proper review and tell you a bit more about what HWiNFO does. Follow me, nerdlings.

Read more ...

Updated: June 22, 2020 | Category: Windows

PortableApps review

It's been a while since I last wrote about PortableApps. The main reason, I have since switched almost exclusively to using Linux as my portable go-to toolkit. With the ability to use Linux from live media plus persistence, you get some pretty nifty results. But if you're a Windows users, PortableApps are a great, powerful asset.

Well, eleven years have passed, and I thought, perhaps I should re-visit this project once more, and give it a fresh review. Nowadays, I have a far more stringent approach to software than I had back in the days of the better, more naive Internet. This makes for an interesting challenge. Begin, let's.

Read more ...

Updated: June 19, 2020 | Category: Linux

RPI4, Ubuntu MATE & fix screen resolution

All right. A few days ago, I got meself a Raspberry Pi 4. I wanted to try and see whether it can be used as a desktop system in its own right. As part of this experiment, I wrote two images to SD cards, the official Raspberry Pi OS and Ubuntu MATE, and then started playing around. Along the way, I encountered various bugs and niggles, and therefore, I'd like to officially kick off a whole series of tutorials that will help you address some of these shortcomings and problems, should you face them.

My first woe was that the desktop wasn't rendering full screen in Ubuntu MATE - there were black bars top and bottom, and the resolution was showing, instead of the expected full HD (1920x1020 px) as rather weird 1824x984 px. This is not something I've seen before, so I hunkered down and went about exploring.

Read more ...

Updated: June 17, 2020 | Category: Game reviews

Cities Skylines & 200K people

Remember my mega city built in SimCity 4? An endeavor that took me three years to complete, and resulted in a beautiful region with some 4.3 million citizens? Well, I decided to try something similar in Cities Skylines, a most excellent city building simulation.

If you've been reading my game reviews, then you know that I really like Cities Skylines. Over the past several years, with many an hour spent warming up my house with excess heat from the intense CPU and GPU workloads generated by the ravenous Cities Skylines simulation engine, I set about cracking the game's secrets, including compiling three traffic optimization guides. These should help you create the perfect road grid for your city to flourish and grow. And by grid I mean roundabout. Now, implementing my own advice, I went about building a lovely city, and the result is now here before you.

Read more ...

Updated: June 15, 2020 | Category: Linux

EasyOS 2.3 review

You know me likes Puppy Linux. Small, frugal, delightful. While the modern era has somewhat removed the need for spartan in-memory-only distributions, they still have use, they can run on really old hardware, and they make excellent travel companions. So how do you up the game? You try to spin up an even more ambitious project.

EasyOS is an experimental distribution (notice the adjective, important), with Puppy origins plus some extra extras. If you look at the page that says how and why EasyOS is different, you will see it comes with some convention breakers as well as some rather unique features. Most notably, it is a distro that can run from the disk, or entirely in memory, it can be live media or installed, it has encryption, and a rather neat concept of security containers - software runs isolated. Well, time to test, isn't it.

Read more ...

Updated: June 13, 2020 | Category: Internet

Google Core Web Vitals & page speed

Recently, I read a bunch of articles that mentioned a change in how Google plans on tweaking site ranks in Google Search from next year. Today, the formula incorporates a number of user interactiveness elements, called Core Web Vitals, soon to be joined by page performance. I thought, now there's a bad idea.

Your first instinct would be - yo, old dinosaur - and it was mine, too, so I decided to actually check what gives. Google has a number of services available, like Google Search Console (the new Webmaster Tools), PageSpeed Insights, and a few others, which can help you check how your website is performing. So I did a check of Dedoimedo, and then scribbled this article. To wit.

Read more ...

Updated: June 12, 2020 | Category: Hardware, Linux

Raspberry Pi 4 review

This ain't a new topic. Already back in 2014, I tested the original Pi, and tried to make it into a media system. In the end, amidst much excitement and some rigorous tinkering, this turned out to be a typical home Linux effort - super-interesting, unique, fun, but never quite as good as it should be. The professional product polish and edge weren't quite there.

The year is 2020, and I'd like to resurrect the effort using a brand new Raspberry Pi 4. My goal is to put together an affordable, elegant, visually pleasing system that would be capable enough for casual everyday computing. The list includes Web, mail, movies, streaming, pretty much anything except heavy rendering and games. So let's see if we can make this happen.

Read more ...

Updated: June 10, 2020 | Category: Internet

WordPress & htaccess prompts in Firefox

When it rains, it pours. A few weeks ago, I wrote an article on WordPress cURL error 28 issue that I spotted on my books-only website, and which seems to be caused by having an htaccess file in the wp-admin directory. This wasn't a problem until the WordPress 5.4 update, but now it seems it is. Well, since I know what the source is, I can ignore it.

A side effect to keeping the htaccess in place is that there will be a prompt to authenticate on EVERY page on the website - the kind of prompt you would expect only when trying to access the restricted page(s) - and this phenomenon seems to be limited to Firefox. Thinking myself a special snowflake, I went about a-readin' and a-testin', and found a support topic on the WordPress site, where someone discussed a very similar if not identical phenomenon. So I decided to some more investigating, and figure out what gives.

Read more ...

Updated: June 8, 2020 | Category: Best of the best

Greatest sites

Mess with the best, read like the rest. Two more glorious sites added to my shortlist of websites worth visiting. Firstly, as Arthur C. Clarke never said, any sufficiently advanced trolling is indistinguishable from the truth. Which ties into this entry, because I am not sure if its owner is serious or not, but he sure as Gluten-free hell is funny. Awaken With JP is a series of video posts on Youtube - hence the somewhat unusual link to a Youtube channel rather than a fairly skeleton official Awaken With JP site - debating all that is fad, modern, hip, woke, whatever you want to call them, trendy topics that afflict the casual activist.

Secondly, buying stuff online is easy. Buying good stuff, not so. You need to have patience and be willing and able to sift through tons of superficial advertorials, fake reviews, and useless information laced with still more ads. 'Twould be nice if there be sources where you go, read and then know exactly what you need to do. RTINGS to the rescue.

Read more ...

Updated: June 6, 2020 | Category: Hardware

Ubuntu Touch OTA-12 & Aquaris E4.5 review

Many years ago, I was one of the people swept in the hope and euphoria that Ubuntu Phone would make it big, and become a respectable rival to the established players. I even ran a contest, whereby readers of me site could try to win an Ubuntu Phone - this was meant to be Edge, alas, that didn't happen. Long story short, I did use the phone for a while, but then it turned out to be somewhat of a chore, and after a while, I turned my Ubuntu Phone into an Android one. Firmware flash, done. However, even so, apart from occasionally powering it on to test connectivity as part of my Linux reviews, I wasn't really using the Aquaris for anything serious. The Android operating system does offer more functionality than Ubuntu Phone did, but with an old image and lackluster performance, the Aquaris slid into obscurity. But not into oblivion.

I kept thinking about it now and then, how it got better and more refined over time, how it was quite useful with elderly folks, and that it had charm and soul that go beyond the sum of its pixels and lines of code. As luck would have it, just a few days ago, I noticed the announcement from the UBports team, which had picked up development and maintenance since the official project was axed, that they had released a new update - Ubuntu Touch OTA-12. So I thought, what the hell, let's rev the Aquaris one more time.

Read more ...

Updated: June 3, 2020 | Category: Hardware

Nokia 1.3 review

Back in 2013, when I purchased my Nokia 520 phone, I never expected it to survive until 2020, and continue working smoothly and reliably. But then, I have always loved Nokia phones. Really loved. They had elegance and style above all, they were durable and made to last. I still own and use a Nokia E6, and it's remains a cool device, despite its age.

My foray with Nokias - or rather Lumias - continued for a while, culminating in the Lumia 950. When the sad time came to look for its replacement, I did consider Nokia 9, but because it didn't have an audio jack, I didn't buy it, and went instead with Motorola One Zoom. This turned out to be a pretty smart choice. However, Nokia remained in the back of my mind, and when I glimpsed the freshly released Nokia 1.3 in the online stores, my brain started revving up. I went back to my 520 experience. Its 2013 price tag was USD179.99, which might even seem a bit high given its spec. Perhaps one can have a solid smartphone experience for less. Significantly less. Indeed, what can one do at roughly half that cost? This is my review of the 99-dollar Nokia 1.3. Let's begin.

Read more ...

Updated: June 1, 2020 | Category: Windows

Winget review

The concept of package management - focused around a centralized location where users can grab all their applications - isn't new or novel, and it certainly didn't start with mobile operating systems. This is something that has existed in Linux for years, and eventually morphed into application stores. Apple has one, Google has one, and Microsoft, well, it kind of has one.

Alas, it doesn't target the primary audience of Windows - the bazillion desktop users. I was a huge fan of Windows Phone - I still proudly own a few, from Lumia 520 to Lumia 950 - but the straw that burned the entire field was the lack of popular applications in the Microsoft Store. Combined with the fact Windows users would get their software in individual bits and pieces, from this and that site, the end result was: almost no traction in this fallow field. Windows Package Manager is a bold attempt to rectify this situation.

Read more ...