Updated: June 21, 2024 | Category: Hardware, Linux

Lenovo IdeaPad Y50-70 & SSD

Back in 2014, that would be 10 years ago, I bought myself a bargain. A beefy laptop that did not cost an arm and a leg, just a leg, and it delivered in turn an i7 processor, 16 GB RAM, an Nvidia card (GTX 860M, equivalent to GTX 580 back then), plus a 4K display. The only downside? It had a mechanical disk, a 5,400rpm 1TB HDD, albeit with an 8GB hybrid, cache-like SSD add-on. The machine performs diligently over the years, and eventually, I made it into a Linux-only system. The only downside? Ultra-long boot times.

What I find a bit sad is that it would seem most mainstream distro developers nowadays simply assume their users run the same gear as they do, namely powerful rigs with ultra-fast storage. They seem to forget the mechanical hard disks. This is a bit of an irony, because Linux is supposed to be the savior of old hardware, due to its frugal requirements. Well, not so when the boot times are 2-3 minutes. So I thought, let's "revive" this machine. I splurged 70 dollars and got me a 500GB Samsung EVO 870 SATA SSD. Can this make the Y50-70 sprightly again? Let's check.

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Updated: June 17, 2024 | Category: Windows

Windows & hidden Wi-Fi network

This could be a good name for a new Clancy's blockbuster. Or something. Now listen. A friend of mine contacted me (yes I do have friends), and told me how his Windows laptop shows a Hidden network in the list of Wireless networks that he can use. He had no idea whence it comes. I said, interesting, would you like me to help. And so I began a lil' sleuthing operation. The plot thickens.

I brought my own hardware to test, as I assume other people's devices aren't necessarily configured correctly, and so, I don't want to use bad data to make wrong assumptions - I want to use good data to make wrong assumptions. I fired up my Linux laptop, and I couldn't see any hidden networks using some basic tools in a terminal. I then booted a Windows laptop, and lo and behold, the hidden access point was there. I started moving around his house, and the signal strength wouldn't drop. I assumed this may be a Windows bug. Or is it?

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Updated: June 14, 2024 | Category: Linux

Linux HD/UHD tutorial

Over the past five years or so, I've written about half a dozen articles on how to manage desktop and application scaling in Linux on high-density displays. It all started with my Slimbook Pro2 laptop and its 14-inch display, capable of showing a lovely 1920x1080px grid, too small to properly view at such a small screen. And so I started a tutorial on how to manage scaling in the Plasma desktop, specific tweaks for various applications, and then some.

Since, I've written other guides on this topic, covering snaps, WINE applications, Steam, DOSBox, and whatnot. Because the information is scattered over multiple tutorials, and search engines ain't what they used to be, i.e., not quite as useful and accurate, I thought of making one big compilation that should help you find all of the relevant tweaks and commands, for all your Linux needs, in one place. Let's go.

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Updated: June 11, 2024 | Category: Hardware, Linux

Slimbook Executive report 4

Let's talk about my Slimbook Executive, shall we. 'Tis a productivity laptop I purchased about a year back, as a replacement for my older Pro2 machine, also from the same vendor. The former system had been in pretty heavy use for about five years, and I foresee a long future ahead, now that I've replaced its battery. Over the years, I wrote no less than fourteen periodic, long-term usage reports detailing everyday use, problems, niggles, and the good side of using Linux as your primary system for real-life needs.

In the past year, I continued the long-term usage tradition of reports with the Executive. There have been three reports thus far, and they show a pretty consistent trend. This is a solid laptop. It's stable, robust and fun. The ergonomics are excellent, from the case via its delightful, color-rich screen to its sturdy, well-spaced keyboard. Kubuntu 22.04, chosen as the operating system, also behaves, delivering pretty good results. Well, it's time for another lil' review. Let's see what's happened since.

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Updated: June 7, 2024 | Category: Internet

Windows & exFAT disks

The Internet is a battlefield. On one side, you have ordinary people who just want to browse the net and consume stuff without any great fanfare. On the other, you have advertisement agencies and companies who would, if they could, force everyone to watch pointless ads 24/7. You would assume most people don't care, but as it turns out, in the past few years, more and more people are actively blocking ads. For many good reasons. They are largely pointless (low quality, low value, low intelligence), they waste bandwidth and power, they can be a vector for malware, active and passive. The need to block them is great. And there are some awesome adblockers out there.

This wouldn't a topic that needs any great re-discussion except ... Google decided to change the extensions model for Chrome, something called Manifest V3. This thing comes with a variety of technical changes, for a variety of reasons. TL;DR: Whether you accept what Google claims to be valid or not, Manifest V3 could limit the effectiveness of classic adblockers, by a huge margin. Coincidence? Doesn't matter. The question is, are there any V3-compliant adblockers that could still offer the same adblocking functionality as before? Well, the creator of the fantastic UBlock Origin (UBO) extension has produced a new tool - UBO Lite, designed to help people stop stupidity, come the full force of Manifest V3 sometime soon.

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Updated: June 3, 2024 | Category: Life wisdom

AI & consumer stupidity

Here's a scenario. You go to a fair at the outskirts of your town. There, among the many rides, you find this machine. It works like this: you insert a token, you ask it a question. The machine vomits out a slip of paper, and on it, there's an answer. A piece of wisdom. Welcome to 2024 and the so-called AI chatbot thingies.

Today, there's an enormous amount of hype around AI. Not only is this annoying, it's also aggravating. Nothing insults intelligence quite as much and quickly as the passive-aggressive combo of corporate buzzwordology, greed and incorrect use of technology. First, AI ain't AI, it's just machine learning. Second, the fact it speaks like a human doesn't make it even remotely human. Alas, the distinction is lost on the masses. Indeed, if you think about it, the great danger in this AI hype is that its only viable purpose is to make stupid stupider.

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Updated: May 31, 2024 | Category: Windows

Windows & exFAT disks

This may sound like a trivial task. You have an SD card, or perhaps a hard disk. It has a partition, and this partition is formatted with the exFAT filesystem. Quite a common scenario where you need large files but cannot use NTFS. Shouldn't be a problem, because modern Windows releases support exFAT natively, plus this is actually one of Microsoft's own formats. However.

I noticed that neither Windows 10 not Windows 11 automatically presented the connected exFAT storage devices in File Explorer. Whatever the official documentation said, I couldn't "see" the cards and the disks. And so, we have this little guide, which will show you what you need to do to be able to use your exFATs. Notice there are many wordy puns brewing in the offing. Let's begin.

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Updated: May 24, 2024 | Category: Game reviews, Old games

F-16 Combat Pilot flight simulator

In 1989, a phenomenal game came out. It was an F-16 simulator, and it was called F-16 Combat Pilot. This game had it all. Realistic cockpit and flight regime, check. Blackouts and redouts, check. No external view for added realism, check. ILS, check. Campaign mode where you could control a squadron of planes, check. Reconnaissance missions (with an ATARS pod), check. Weather, difficult landings, check. Serial connection two-player Gladiator mode, check. All of this, and more, came in a humble package of just 680 KB.

Combat Pilot also had a clever anti-copy mechanism. You had to open the manual to a specific page, paragraph, and word, and input those to be able to fly. I happened to own the original European market CGA version, and one thing that irked me was that the box depicted the game in EGA. 16 colors rather than just 4. Later on, I got myself the EGA version, too, but the manual did not work. This was the North American version, what, and the manual was different. And so I waited and waited, until just recently, I finally figured it out. With a mild delay of just 35 years, I bright you the review of one of the finest combat aircraft simulators ever made.

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Updated: May 24, 2024 | Category: Windows

Windows 11 & latest round of pointless

Every time I think Windows 11 cannot surprise me with nonsense anymore, buzzer, bzzzzzzz, wrong. There's always something new. But hey, anger and fresh material for articles, winning. As it happens, a few weeks ago, I powered on my IdeaPad 3 laptop for some dual-boot testing, Plasma 6 and all. Once I was done with that, I thought I should boot into Windows 11, and do some basic maintenance, updates and such.

Like the opening sentence of the War of the Worlds musical, no one would have believed ... that I would find myself behind the keyboard for a good few hours, fuming, tweaking, trying to get the operating system in order, yet again. The exercise from six months ago, repeated, with interest. Let's talk.

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Updated: May 20, 2024 | Category: Internet

Firefox & scrollbars

In the past decade, most software user interfaces have undergone a significant degradation in accessibility, usability, and ergonomics. Why? Touch. Middle management saw the usage growth in the mobile space, and they figured, hey, if we replicate the smartphone interfaces onto the desktop, we will get MOAR success. End results, more mouse clicks, more confusing menus, loss of productivity, and then some.

One of the things that irks me is the Firefox scrollbar functionality. It's not consistent on every platform or operating system. Somewhere, you get reasonable default behavior. Elsewhere, you don't. This little tutorial will show you how to improve your Firefox ergonomics, namely always have scrollbars shown, and make them thicker and easier to use with the mouse pointer. Let's start.

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Updated: May 13, 2024 | Category: Life wisdom

AI & bad managers

I hate buzzwords. With a passion. Buzzwords are a hallmark of incompetence, superficiality, lack of personality, and then some. They are what distinguishes a skilled technologist from a fluffer. They are also a great way to identify people, with minimal mental effort. You come to your workplace and some fake-smile human drone starts spewing words d'jour, quoting this or that article they read and got inspired by on the business social media the day before. You instantly know, all right, let's avoid this person. If, then, algorithm!

Which brings me to algorithms. Recently, there has been a great deal of Internet chatter over the AI revolution, disruption and similar nonsense. A bunch of companies have developed sophisticated tools, you can interact with these tools using "natural" language, and all of a sudden, it's Artificial Intelligence (AI) everywhere, everything. Just like the fads of touch and smart this that a decade back. Boring. Worst of all, there's this whole talk about how AI will disrupt the modern workplace. Specifically, how AI can or should replace human workers. Sure, except those ought to be clueless middle-level managers, and not ordinary grunts. Let's elaborate.

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Updated: May 10, 2024 | Category: Game reviews

Assetto Corsa & improve lap times

Assetto Corsa is the finest driving simulator out there, me thinks. It's a phenomenal game, and despite its age, it delivers spectacular results. Accuracy, precision, fidelity, you name it. You really and truly feel like you're driving a real car in real life. And I can attest to this, as I've burnt rubber on a variety of race tracks, including Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, wut wut. How Assetto portrays the feeling is uncanny.

At some point though, you will hit the wall. Your lap times stop improving. Then, you begin to wonder. Have you lost it? Or perhaps, is there a way to make your driving somehow better? The simple answer is, yes there is. And it's built into the game. Let's proceed.

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Updated: May 6, 2024 | Category: Life wisdom

Amazon Customer Service

I've been an Amazon customer for more than 20 years. I've been publishing books with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) for more than a decade. I've also used Audible. Apart from having spent a significant amount of money with Amazon, I was always rather impressed with their customer service. It used to be amaz-ing [sic]. Typically, you could send a single email about your issue, and you'd get a detailed, clear reply, and things would always get resolved right away. During my Amazon Fire TV setup a few years back, I had some problems with connectivity. Support phone call, an hour spent with a customer representative, and the dude was, for the lack of a better word, a true professional. Patient, funny, knowledgeable. But all that's in the past.

In the past two or three years, more or less since the pandemic, I noticed a sharp decline in the quality of the Amazon customer services. First, they removed email for most of types of queries. It's chat or phone. The chat always starts with some pseudo-AI bot that's annoying and useless. Then you get routed to human agents who are way less helpful then they used to be. But today's topic revolves around my attempt to set up a business account, and how Amazon cost me 300 Euros in garbage second-hand used routers that were supposed to be brand new devices.

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Updated: May 3, 2024 | Category: Internet

WhatsApp & can't send video error

Like any self-respecting memeista, I often share incredibly stupid profoundly intelligent snippets of Internet wisdom with my (real) friends. These come in the form of images (often GIF) and videos (the memes, not the friends), and we distribute them among ourselves using a variety of digital methods, including WhatsApp. For pretty much ever, I've never really had any issue delighting my friends. But then.

A few days ago, I tried to send a short video to one of my buddies. WhatsApp protested saying: Can't send this video. Choose a different video and try again. Golly. At first, I thought this could be some sort of "AI" nonsense, and it somehow decided my meme was too legit to quit. But then I realized the problem is much much simpler. Let me illuminate you. After me.

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Updated: April 29, 2024 | Category: Hall of Fame

Greatest sites

Awesome One: Humor, paired to philosophy. Sounds like either an extremely boring combo or a spectacularly entertaining formula, with a twist of intellect for good measure. Luckily, Existential Comics is the latter. Think modern-day scenarios, life's absurdity at its best, ancient world wisdom, guns, Socrates, puns, and history.

Awesome Two: Do you like speed? Check. Cars? Check. Simulators? Check. How about PC gaming simulators focused on cars? Check. Well, good fortune be smilin' at ya, because OverTake aims to cater to all yer needs. If you're into computer games that promise loud engine noises, tire squeal, gear changes, curvy tracks, and above all, the finesse and precision of driving, then you ought to check OverTake. Vroom vroom vroom stu-tu-tu-tu-tu-tu-tuuuu. Ah yes.

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Updated: April 26, 2024 | Category: Hardware

Samsung A54 report 4

It's been a couple of months since the big Android 14, One UI 6.0 upgrade on my Samsung A54 smartphone. As you probably know, I got this device as a replacement for a failing low-mid-range Nokia X10 that started losing its battery charge too rapidly. I selected this Samsung mostly because of its five-year patch policy and decent price for its hardware spec. Since, I've been using it quite some, with moderate degrees of satisfaction.

Those degrees are explained in more detail in my long-term reports for this phone. The last piece revolves around the big version bumped, linked above. The others cover various facets of everyday use, mostly my frustration with taming this device to my liking. I had spent too much time trying to sort out the privacy aspect, and yet, to this day, the phone keeps annoying me. All right, let's do the fourth review.

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Updated: April 22, 2024 | Category: Linux games

Red Alert 2 & Yuri's Revenge under Steam Proton

Red Alert is best Red Alert. Or is it? Some twenty summers ago, I used to play Red Alert a lot, and when Yuri's Revenge was released, I found the franchise even more fun and exciting than before. Entrenched infantry, Kirov airships, improved graphics, the whole deal was magical. In 2008, I got myself the Command & Conquer The First Decade DVD Collection, played some more. Then, a few years went by ...

Some time back, I got some serious Command & Conquer cravings, and decided to try the games in a more modern settings, including Linux. Indeed, I showed you how to play Red Alert as well as Red Alert 2 in Linux. Then, once Red Alert Remastered got released and had me seriously hooked on building tanks and Tesla coils, I decided to try the Linux experiment once more. Indeed, using Steam Proton, the results were phenomenal. Just a month ago, the second installment in this fine franchise got released on Valve's gaming platform. I bought it immediately and decided to try the game in Linux, straight away. Let me share the details of that experiment.

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Updated: April 17, 2024 | Category: Linux

Wayland in 2024

Functionality, first and foremost. My motto. A tool that doesn't do what it's supposed to do is a broken tool. A useless tool. Unfortunately, in the software world, in the past decade or so, there's been a trend of offering half-broken tools as a way of life. Create a replacement for something "old", but the replacement is only half as good. Then, it will be "fixed" (iterated) over some weird "agile" "continuous development" process over the next few years. For example, in Windows, Settings is still not as good as Control Panel. Don't want, don't care.

In Linux, Wayland is supposed to replace X11. It's been fifteen years since Wayland came to be, and I've tested it dozens of times in the past decade, to see whether it can do what it ought to do - offer functional parity let alone superior functionality to the "old" tool. So far, every time, the answer has been a big no. But recently, I had a chance to test Wayland quite some as part of my Plasma 6 series, and I want to share my findings here. Let's see whether this "new" display protocol can finally usurp the old stuff. Commence.

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Updated: April 15, 2024 | Category: Cars

Abarth 595 Tourismo review

Roughly ten years ago, I contemplated buying myself an Abarth. The only reason I decided not to was because I felt the seat was too short for me. While I'm not the tallest person in the world, I have fairly long legs, and Abarth's nicely sculpted buckets only reached to my mid-thighs, making longer drives a bit of a strain. In the end, I went for an Opel Corsa OPC, which had the finest Recaros out there - few cars I've driven since match the pure joy of that driving position. Indeed.

But the Abarth-ness of that experience stayed with me. Over the years, I have been able to partially recreate it through copious amounts of simulated driving in Assetto Corsa, but at the end of the day, 'tis still only a game, no matter how accurate and precise. Well, a few weeks ago, a good friend of mine - a frequent Assetto Corsa driving buddy - had a chance to gallivant in a '595, for a whole week. And thus, ladies and gentlemen, for the second time ever, Dedoimedo gives you a guest post. Think of me as a ghostwriter in this story, a jealous ghostwriter who had to listen and transcribe stories of fun that would be the driving of this be sporty machine. Let's begin.

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Updated: April 12, 2024 | Category: Linux, Other software

SketchUp Make 2017 & Linux installation

Today, I want to revisit an older topic, already covered here on Dedoimedo. Namely, how to install and configure SketchUp Make 2017 in Linux using WINE. If you're a fan of 3D drawing and such, SketchUp is a great way to create models before you export them to another program for rendering. However, it's also not a native Linux application, hence my guide on this topic.

We need to improve on that article, though. Ever so slightly. Simplify it, make it even more robust. Now, remember, the old tutorial still works. It's perfectly fine. Here, I just want to give you a mildly tweaked edition of it, so you can be 100% sure you get the best experience and compatibility with the program. Let's go.

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Updated: April 8, 2024 | Category: Books

How to make your career suck less

The title of your se ... my new book. That's it! In the next couple of months or so, I intend to publish my latest tech-focused project: How to Make Your Career Suck Less. It will be the culmination and the compression of my experience of some twenty summers working in the tech industry, with all its passive-aggressive absurdities and nonsense. It's time to put aggressive in passive-aggressive.

On a slightly more serious note, How to Make Your Career Suck Less is going to be a guide on how to improve your work satisfaction, on a personal level, and on a professional level. I'd like to give you some honest advice, based on my own tech PTSD, on what to do, and even more importantly, what not to do. The book will cover topics like how to handle micro-managers, how to create your first open-source project, your first conference, your first big project, how to write a practical and useful CV, and then some. As always, you'll get the usual dose of tongue-in-cheek curmudgeony Dedoimedo philosophy, the stuff you've learned to (hopefully) love and appreciate over the years. If you'd like to be an early reviewer, ping me.

Coming soon, stay tuned ...

Updated: April 5, 2024 | Category: Reviving old games

How to scale DOSBox on HD/UHD screens

DOSBox is one of my favorite programs out there. I still remember the colossal thrill I felt when I used it to emulate the Serial connection between two LAN computers and play an ancient F-16 simulator, something I had waited for, almost twenty long years until that moment. Ever since, DOSBox is a loyal, trusted friend in my arsenal.

I still play DOS-based games now and then. But the computers of now ain't the computers of yore. With mighty resolutions, the tiny 320x200px DOS equity can be problematic if shown in true 1:1 scale on modern displays. Today, I'd like to show you a handful of tricks on how you can enlarge DOS games but also play them with a reasonable level of clarity on a typical HD/UHD screen. Follow me.

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Updated: April 3, 2024 | Category: Linux

Plasma 6 third review

My exploration of Plasma 6 be continuing. I've already conducted two tests, the first using only a virtual machine as the distro wouldn't install on physical hardware, and the second on said physical hardware after the distro developers and maintainers fixed some things. The system in question is my 2020 IdeaPad 3, with an AMD processor and integrated graphics.

Now, I want to see what happens when I try KDE neon + Plasma 6 on my 2014 IdeaPad Y70-50, a laptop with some fairly beefy characteristics, even for today's standards - an i7 processor, 16GB RAM, a discrete Nvidia card. This is extra important because Plasma 6 uses Wayland by default, and so, it will be quite interesting to see how well the new desktop cooperates with the graphics card and its proprietary drivers. Let's.

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Updated: March 27, 2024 | Category: Windows

Windows 11 usability guide

I have to apologize in advance. I really shouldn't be writing this article. Paradoxically, by creating it, I am giving people the ability to use Windows 11, as this guide will remove a lot of the pain points and pointless features of this operating system. Thus, instead of avoiding it, people may actually choose to use it. Since I honestly believe you shouldn't be using Windows 11, I will achieve the opposite of what I feel.

However, I am also aware that many people are forced to use Windows, for many pragmatic reasons. Not everyone has the knowledge to use other things (like Linux), they may require it for specific games or programs, they may need it for work, and so forth. I have started my migration away from Windows. It's going really well. But it's still a massively complicated endeavor, and it takes a lot of time. For most people, it's easier to just tweak an unruly operating system some, and get on with their lives. Thus, I thought, if users are going to try to undo Windows 11's pointlessness anyway, they as might as well have a top-notch tutorial to do that. And this is why we're here. Proceed.

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Updated: March 25, 2024 | Category: Linux

Plasma 6 second review

A couple of weeks ago, I tested Plasma 6 for the first time. Long story short, the test was somewhat of a dud. While the desktop environment delivered, the underlying test platform, KDE neon, did not. I was not able to install the distro on an AMD-powered laptop, due to errors in the installation wizard itself, and consequently, I had to limit my review to just the impressions from a virtual machine setup. C'est la Tux.

Now, there's a new image of the KDE neon User Edition available, so perhaps I will be so lucky, lucky lucky, or something. All right, time to repeat the test. My IdeaPad 3 machine, AMD processor and integrated graphics. If this turns out fine, in the third review, we shall expand to a system with an Intel processor and a discrete Nvidia card. So hybrid graphics, Nvidia vs. Wayland, ought to be interesting. Let's start, then.

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Updated: March 22, 2024 | Category: 3D art

Scud-like mobile launcher 3D design

Normally, when it comes to my writing or my 3D art, I am not fond of repeating myself. This creates a bit of a problem, because it requires of me to come up with new, original ideas all the time. But given my interest, there's only so much I can do before the inevitable repetition strikes.

Planes, spaceships, water ships (as in real ships), tanks, I've done them all. And so, I struggled finding the next 3D project that would be both 1) novel 2) fun enough to attempt. After several days of turbulent thought and strenuous imagination exercises, I managed. I came up with a nice concept. A mobile ballistic missile launcher, somewhat like the Soviet/Russian Scud. Same same but different. Let's go, then.

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Updated: March 18, 2024 | Category: Hardware

Samsung A54 report 3

Today, we have a hefty piece on our plate. TL;DR: I got myself a new smartphone several months back. It's an Android phone, Samsung A54, and I'm moderately happy-unhappy with it. To be more precise, it took me a long time to tame it, the defaults are super-annoying, I will never buy another Samsung phone, but for its price, it delivers a solid punch, plus it comes with five years of support. There.

Now that I have it, while I have it, I intend to write about my long-term experience with it. I've been doing this lately with all my hardware, telling a multi-month, multi-year story. With the A54, we had two reports so far, and now we will have a third. This time, there's a major system upgrade, one of the many promised by the vendor over the five years of its support. So let's begin.

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Updated: March 13, 2024 | Category: Hardware, Linux

Slimbook Executive report 3

A couple of weeks back, I wrote my second long-term usage report for the Slimbook Titan laptop. Now, we shall have a third report for another Slimbook, the Executive. This is a machine that I bought as the replacement for my old and trusty, you guessed it, Slimbook Pro2. After five years, that system experienced a case swelling due to a faulty battery, and I had to promptly power it down. One doth not play games with Lithium, cor. But only briefly, it turned out. I was able to replace the battery just fine, and give the Pro2 a fresh breath of life. That is a story for another time, though.

We wanna focus on the Executive here. So far, so excellent, one must say. This is a superb productivity laptop, the perfect travel slash office slash non-serious-gaming-stuff machine, with a beautiful, even sexy case, splendid screen and keyboard, good performance, and, clad in Plasma that be Kubuntu 22.04, it also behaves majestically. I am ultra-pleased with the machine, even though there was a hiccup or two in the recent few months, as I reported in the second article. Now, we need to see what happened since.

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Updated: March 11, 2024 | Category: Linux

Plasma 6 review

You know I love Plasma. It's also the best desktop environment out there, hands down. It offers great looks, almost professional one could say, tons of features, tons of (extreme) customization, excellent speed and responsiveness, constant, real progress and improvements, and it works beautifully. All of my productivity systems (Linux ones) use Plasma. And now, there's a brand new version out there. A major milestone.

'Tis Plasma 6, the next big iteration of this superb desktop. New tech under the hood all right, but what about what goes on above the hood? Is there going to be any visible change for the end user? Better functionality? Problems? After all, the transition from KDE 3.5 to KDE 4 was rocky, turbulent, troubling. From Plasma 4 to Plasma 5, it was much better, but a major change nonetheless. What will happen this time around? Let's have an early taste of the new desktop, now that it's been officially released. Follow me.

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Updated: March 8, 2024 | Category: Media

VLC & metadata edit

If you're old enough to have purchased music on CDs and alike, then you probably care about having and do have an offline collection of songs, usually in the form of MP3 files, on your computer somewhere. It ain't all about the streaming, right guv. Well, some of these songs may have incomplete metadata - they may not have cover art, the artist or the album information may be wrong or missing. This is often the case with songs bought a long long time ago. Or perhaps you've ripped your own CDs for backup, and didn't care about all them extra fields. Whatever the case, we want to fix this problem. Add, edit metadata and cover art for our music. How do we do that?

VLC. It's always VLC. No matter what media task you may have at hand, you should always ask yourself, can the lovely, free, open-source player called VideoLAN (VLC) do it? And by and large, the answer is yes. This phenomenal piece of software has been in my arsenal for a good two decades, and recently, I had a chance to try yet another superb feature it has. Let's continue.

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Updated: March 8, 2024 | Category: Cars, Linux

Technology backlash

Normally, I don't do "news" news on Dedoimedo. I like to write 100% original content, research and test everything myself, and only then talk about it. But this week is an exception. A happy exception. First, the Euro NCAP agency has announced it will recommend the use of physical buttons for key functions in car systems, and amend their scoring accordingly from 2026. I have always claimed that touch is an inferior method of use for most interfaces, wrote about it in my Highway to Hell car-related article, and now, there's confirmation and validation to my long-standing frustration. Fantastic. The sooner we restore sanity and get rid of low-IQ touch nonsense where it doth not belong, the better.

A second piece of great news - The Register writes that the Linux global market share has crossed the 4% mark, according to Statcounter data. My guess is, this has a lot to do with Valve's amazing work with Steam Proton, which FINALLY allows so many people/gamers to break their dependence on the Windows operating system. In the past two years, I've done extensive work and written in great detail about my own migration away from Windows to Linux, and that includes major progress on the gaming front. Finally, it's happening - as I wrote back in 2009. Games be the key. I had to wait a long time for my genius to align with the world, but hey. 'Tis a very nice week. Party on.

Auto Express, The Register (External links)

Updated: March 6, 2024 | Category: Game reviews, Linux games

UEBS2

Any gaming title that has not one but two bombastic adjectives in its name can either be ultra cool and amazing, or totally pointless. There's no middle ground. It sure does attract attention, though, and during one of Steam's mega discount sales, I got it. Right away, I realized the game had failed an objective. By calling itself Ultimate, it should really be one single installment. And yet, there it was, the sequel.

What I got and tried is this second version of the game. Same same but improved. The game simulates battles, just like before, only does it more ultimatively and epic-like than before. Today, I will tell you how my first two or three hours of playing went. Also, I tried it in Linux, exclusively. This is technically a Windows title, but with Steam Proton being awesome, I decided to try my luck that way. Let us.

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Updated: March 1, 2024 | Category: Windows

Windows Update annoyances

Sometimes, I look at the past with rose-tinted glasses. I try to convince myself that Windows-related updates used to be better, more reliable once upon a time. But then I remember the GWX nonsense, the slowness with Windows 7 updates, and then some. All of these article lurk and wait for you in me Windows section, if you're inclined to dig into the past. Things were annoying back then quite some.

But the quality was better, right? I think so. Over time, the updates became less robust, and I began to be more and more cautious when applying them. Wait some, always take a full system image, hide certain updates using the "Show or Hide updates" tool (from Microsoft), and only then, let the machine run its patching. Well, in just the past month, I had the misfortune to encounter a bunch of new problems related to updates, and I wanted to share these here. Let's begin.

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Updated: February 27, 2024 | Category: Other software

Android security and privacy guide

Can and should one be concerned with how their personal data is used and managed online? Yes. The answer is yes. But there are two aspects to it. One, the obvious implications of your data being misused. Two, the simple question of basic human dignity. If you let smartphones treat you like an idiot, you become, ipso facto, an idiot. This is why you should consider tweaking your devices, so they're less noisy, less data-greedy, less everything. Welcome to my newest guide on how to make Android behave.

This ain't my first rodeo with Android privacy. A few years back, I wrote a namesake article, detailing a reasonable, no-nonsense approach to using an Android phone, with some level of privacy and without greatly sacrificing usability. A pragmatic middle-ground formula, if you will. Today, I'd like to expand on that old guide, make it a bit more structured, and up to date. Begin, we shall.

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Updated: February 23, 2024 | Category: Linux, Other software

Maxwell Studio materials not found for SketchUp exported models

This tutorial may sound a bit complicated. Perhaps unnecessary. But here it is. You create a model in SketchUp, which you intend to export to Maxwell Render. You apply various materials onto your model, using the palette available in Maxwell Materials Editor. You export your model. You open it in Maxwell Studio in Windows, and everything seems fine. But then, you open the same model in the same program in Linux, and you get an error.

I've been testing Maxwell Render in Linux, and part of that adventure, I wanted to see how flexible my configuration is. Namely, can I move between the Windows machine (with SketchUp running natively), a WINE setup (with SketchUp installed in Linux), and a native Linux setup, since Maxwell is available for that platform, too. By and large, I encountered no major issues when it comes to renders, however, the materials usage did create a wee snag. I opened the MXS file, and Maxwell told me it could not find the materials. All right, let's resolve this.

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Updated: February 21, 2024 | Category: Linux games

Games crash when taking screenshots under Steam Proton

I just realized I promised a great deal with this title. A fix to a seemingly generic problem. You may come away disappointed. But let's see. Okay, so as you know I'm migrating away from Windows. It's a multi-year journey, and the bulk of it focuses around games.

So far, the adventure has been going great. Better than expected. Excellent results all around, including phenomenal game support compatibility using the Proton layer. With Steam, I have more or less been able to play every single title I've thrown at it, seamlessly. With tiny exceptions, of course. Recently, I encountered an issue playing Ultimate Epic Battle Simulator (UEBS) 2. Namely, if I try to take a game screenshot, with F12, it simply crashes. Let's explore.

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Updated: February 19, 2024 | Category: Cars

BMW 118d Sport Line review

My personal take on cars: outside of the hyper league, BMW has the finest driving vehicles out there. Strap yourself into one, and you will enjoy precision, finesse and fun like nothing else. Over the years, I've had a chance to sample many a BMW, and they were all pretty great. The 330d, superb. The M4, oh my. What about the X3 perhaps? Well, either xDrive20d or xDrive30d did the job with phenomenal results.

Now, I had a chance to revisit the experience with the smallest of the entire range, a 1-series hatchback, powered by a 2.0-liter diesel, rated at 150 HP, and mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Does the lil' one have all the right ingredients to live up to the BMW magic formula? 'Tis time for another tarmac adventure. Join for me, folks.

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Updated: February 16, 2024 | Category: Linux

WINE services enable & disable

You can run Windows software in Linux. There are many ways to achieve this method. Without virtualization, your "simplest" solution is to use WINE, a compatibility layer that mimics the Windows filesystem structure and API calls, allowing you to run programs as if doing it natively. Sometimes, this works perfectly, sometimes it doesn't. But WINE is at the heart of many amazing projects and ideas, including Steam Proton. I've been tinkering with this software for years now, with ever-growing rate of success.

Today, I'd like to show you how you can enable/disable services for programs that come with them, and want to run them. In Windows, if you wanted to control a service, you'd launch the Services.msc applet, and then make changes there. But what about WINE? Say a program comes with a self-update service, which you want or don't want to run. How would you manage it under Linux? Let's proceed.

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Updated: February 14, 2024 | Category: Hardware, Linux

Slimbook Titan report 2

About a year back, I purchased a gaming laptop from a small Spanish Linux-friendly vendor called Slimbook. Not my first gig with them, they sell awesome stuff. The big difference with the Titan purchase was, I wanted a powerful machine, with a dedicated graphics card (well, a hybrid setup really), so I could begin practicing moving away from Windows for good. This is a big project of mine, ongoing, with solid results. There.

But the early results with the Titan laptop were not good. The installation was flaky, I wasn't and still am not happy with the keyboard ergonomics, and with some of the issues I encountered in the first few months of use, as I've outlined in my first report, I felt I may have splurged a great deal of hard-earned money for a dud, or at the very least, a machine that's not worth its bang for buck. But persist we must, and these periodic long-term usage reports are exactly what I had in mind. An honest, no-nonsense tale of what it means to try to use Linux for everyday productivity, and not just boring, nerdy dev stuff. Let's proceed.

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Updated: February 12, 2024 | Category: Virtualization

VirtualBox & add raw device tutorial

In VirtualBox, when you create a new virtual machine, usually, you have "two" options for starting the guest operating system. You can boot from an ISO image (which would be the equivalent of a CD/DVD drive), or you can boot from a virtual hard disk. But what if you actually have an operating system on a USB drive, and you wanted to use that as your start media?

There are many reasons why you might want to do this. For instance, the operating system may not be available in a simple, friendly format like ISO. Or you might not even have the source ISO, only the final artifact, the partition table and data on an external drive. In today's tutorial, I will show you how you can boot from an existing (bootable) USB drive, and run whatever operating system resides there. We will use Linux as our platform of choice. Follow me.

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Updated: February 9, 2024 | Category: Linux, Other software

SketchUp Make 2017 & blank menus

Today, I have an awesome, awesome topic for you. First, let me briefly give you the context for this article. I'm migrating my productivity setup from Windows to Linux. It's a long and complex journey, which I aim to complete before Windows goes EOL in late 2025. I want to be able run everything, and that means programs and games, in Linux. No exceptions really. That level of freedom will make me happy, and preclude the necessity to use the pointless Windows 11 or such.

The journey is going well. Really well. Games? Splendid! Various programs? Pretty great. But I did encounter some issues. Cardinally, in SketchUp Make 2017, certain menus and plugins do not fully show and render correctly. They show up as blank pages. This problem bugged me for months! Not anymore. With the latest release of WINE, I was able to resolve the problem of empty and blank dialogs. I've already mentioned this in my WINE 9.0 review, but it does not hurt to have a proper, separate tutorial that covers everything.

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Updated: February 7, 2024 | Category: Internet

Thunderbird & email program association error

Greetings readers! Roughly 2.5 years ago, I wrote an article with the exact same title as above. It was a short guide on how to solve a rather annoying and cryptic error in the Thunderbird mail client: that there is no email program associated to perform the requested action. 'Twas an error that suddenly happened with the 91.x upgrade. In that article, I showed you several methods on how to fix this annoying little issue, so you wouldn't need to click and dismiss a harmless yet pointless popup on every Thunderbird launch.

Well, since, I received a handful of emails from my readers, and they all had new, different suggestions. They all revolve around the same basic concept - support for certain protocols. Well, in this article, I'd like to present another possible solution. Take a look, and if you're plagued by this wee annoyance, perhaps the new method outlined here may help. Provided the other ones didn't, of course.

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Updated: February 5, 2024 | Category: Virtualization

VirtualBox kernel driver not installed error

The problem you're facing is as follows: You use a Debian-based system, probably Ubuntu or one of its flavors. You have recently ran a system-wide update, which also includes a new version of VirtualBox. You use the upstream VirtualBox repository. After applying the update, you can no longer run virtual machines.

You get the following error: Kernel driver not installed (rc=-1908) . The VirtualBox Linux kernel driver is either not loaded or not set up correctly. Please try setting it up again by executing '/sbin/vboxconfig' as root. And there you have it. Now let's go into details, and fix this problem, shall we.

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Updated: February 2, 2024 | Category: Linux games

Steam Proton, Workers & Resources: Soviet Republic

Comrades! Put your sickles down. It is time for another article in my long series on moving away from Windows. The strategic objective is for me to stop using the Windows operating system. The timeline should ideally coincide, at the latest, with the demise of Windows 10, in 2025 (not that the system stop being useful for many more months and even years after that). But to get there, one must achieve functional parity between Windows and Linux.

So far, my journey has been going great. In fact, better than expected. Especially on the gaming front. I've been able to install and run pretty much any game I own and love and play and which keeps me locked in the Windows ecosystem. I've tried all sorts: Wreckfest, ArmA 3, Command & Conquer: Red Alert, Age of Empire II: Definitive Edition, GTA: Vice City, and then some. It's all there in my report, yup, and you can also peruse the gaming section. And now, I'm gonna try another gem, the ultra-hard, ultra-fun industry builder game called Workers & Resources: Soviet Republic.

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Updated: January 31, 2024 | Category: Linux

WINE 9.0 review

Over the years, I spent a lot of time and effort in trying to get Windows programs to run in Linux. Lately, this has become my mission - I want to migrate away from the proprietary operating system, as its future looks glum and gimmicky and overly low-IQ for my taste. My primary asset in this journey has been WINE. Unfortunately, over these same many years, I've not had much success with it.

More often than not, the software simply wouldn't install or run. There would be too many errors. Game support was flaky, even with tools that use WINE as their backend, like PlayOnLinux. But in the past year or two, things have changed. Significantly improved. I was able to run a ton of stuff in Linux, quite successfully. And with the Steam Proton compatibility layer, which also uses WINE in the background, I got to run pretty much every single game I own, almost without any issues. Now, the latest version of WINE is out, and it promises even better results. Let's check.

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Updated: January 29, 2024 | Category: Hardware

Samsung A54 report 2

It's been a couple of moons now that I've been in possession of a Samsung A54 smartphone. I bought the phone because my Nokia X10 has decided to become problematic, i.e., its battery would deplete all too rapidly. Was this a good replacement choice? Well, look at my summary one month in the experience, and the short answer is meh. There are some nice things about the A54, like the security updates and the camera, sort of, but there are also tons of annoyances. Well, pretty much anything to do with the UI and the Samsung software.

But I decided to persist, and see if and how my impression could change over time. Now we're roughly three months into the adventure, and I have some fresh observations. While I've rarely, throughout my entire life, had my first gut feeling about anything radically change, I am always willing to be positively surprised. It's just that positive surprises are in short supply. All right, enough pre-ranting, let us begin.

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Updated: January 26, 2024 | Category: Cars

BMW X1 sDrive 18d review

Do you feel like there's been a shortage of small SUV reviews on Dedoimedo? Worry not, I've got you covered. I had a chance to drive yet another funky crossover, this one with the BMW badge. X1 sDrive 18d, to be more precise, powered by a 2.0 turbodiesel, which gives you 150 horses, 320 Newtons, front-wheel drive, and 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission. Sounds interesting, so we need to test.

Now, now, don't get confused we're talking about the previous model. The outgoing one. A car that can now only be bought from the second-hand market. But that does not make it any less relevant or intriguing. Quite the opposite. So, this review will be, sort of, a snapshot of the past, but a worthy exercise nonetheless. Continue, we shall.

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Updated: January 24, 2024 | Category: Other software

Maxwell Render, SketchUp tutorial

A few day ago, I wrote an article on how to install and configure Maxwell Render in Linux, both the native version and the SketchUp plugin using SketchUp Make 2017 via WINE. Furthermore, I showed you a few other tricks, like desktop HD/UHD scaling and similar. Overall, 'twas a good, fruitful experience.

What I didn't really discuss is how to make Maxwell Render cooperate in the most effective way with your hardware. In particular, if you happen to have a system with hybrid graphics, i.e., an integrated card and a discrete card, you may want to offload the more GPU-intense tasks like rendering to the more powerful unit but keep the simple, desktop stuff in the hands of the less hungry integrated card. I had a chance to look at this "problem" in more detail recently, and decided to write a mini guide that should help you optimize your setup. So there ain't any surprises or disappointments, we're talking about AMD/Intel integrated graphics and Nvidia discrete card. Commence to start.

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Updated: January 22, 2024 | Category: Linux, Other software

Maxwell Render, SketchUp tutorial

I like to do 3D. Draw, render, you name it. My favorite combo pair of programs is SketchUp Make 2017 and Kerkythea Echo Boost. Both these are older applications, but hey, they work great, and best of all, they work superbly in Linux. Very important, if you're planning a migration away from Windows, like I am. It's an adventure I started some time ago, and it's going brilliantly, faster and more smoothly than expected.

Today, I want to share another Linux setup & compatibility article with you. Namely, how to configure Maxwell Render in Linux. Now, on its own, this is no biggie. Maxwell has a native build for Linux. But, the SketchUp plugin is not designed for Linux. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how far we get. On top of that, I will discuss HD/UHD scaling in the Plasma desktop, CPU/GPU acceleration for rendering, and then some. Let's begin.

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Updated: January 19, 2024 | Category: Linux games

Logitech G27 & Linux, Steam, Proton

In the last year, even since I got myself the Slimbook Titan laptop, I wrote about a dozen games-related articles, showing how to install, configure and run various technically Windows-only game titles using the Steam Proton compatibility layer. The results are surprisingly good. In fact, my 2023 report has only success after success in it. A huge, happy milestone.

Recently, only a few weeks ago, I also published a guide on how to get the soft-physics car simulator BeamNG.drive to run in Linux using, you guessed it, Steam and Proton. Once again, it worked really well. But I only tested in-game driving using the keyboard and mouse. I promised I would test playability with a steering wheel set, so here we are. Not only will I attempt to drive with my wheel-and-pedals Logitech G27 unit, I will do that for a Proton title, too. Let's see what gives.

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Updated: January 16, 2024 | Category: Other software

LuxCoreRender review

Over the past almost two decades, I've done a great deal of 3D design. After some trial and error, I ended up using SketchUp for actual drawing and Kerkythea for rendering. Both of these programs are primarily intended for Windows, not Linux. That said, I got both of them running really well in Linux - part of my migration away from the proprietary operating system. So far so good. But we can perhaps do better?

The one obvious limitation of Kerkythea is that it only does CPU-based rendering. No GPU. Effectively, this means if you have a beefy graphics card, it just sits idle there. But in practice, it could be used to render your models a good order of magnitude faster, perhaps even more, than using your o'dinary processor. This intrigue sent me on a search for a new, modern and Linux-native rendering tool - with the necessary SketchUp export plugin, of course. I found LuxCoreRender, and this is my early review and impression of that experiment.

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Updated: January 12, 2024 | Category: 3D art

Oil rig & Bond villain 3D design

When I published my last 3D design roughly a year back, I felt something was missing. I tried to convince myself that it was complete, but deep down, I knew I had to come back and revisit it. Looking at it from various angles, again and again, I realized what bothered me. While realistic, the model did not feel realistic enough. It was missing a lot of small details that one would normally see in a setting like that.

So I set about rectifying my omission. Another 15-20 hours went into hand-drawing various pieces of equipment and additional structures, all of which should add a sense of life and activity into my project. It's time to needlessly brag about that, or at the very least showcase another piece of digital art work. Whether it's any good, you be the judge. Don't like non-tech articles on Dedoimedo? The X button in the right corner is your friend. Now, let's commence.

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Updated: January 9, 2024 | Category: Linux games

Steam Proton & BeamNG.drive

It is time to continue my moving away from Windows saga. Approximately two years ago, I decided that I did not want to partake anymore in the low IQ adfest that seems to be the future of the Windows desktop, and slowly, carefully, systematically, I began my migration to Linux. I got myself a beefy laptop, put Linux on it, and began testing anything and everything, including, primarily, various Windows-only games.

So far, the journey has been going great. Phenomenally so. I am more or less ready, a good two years before the expected Windows 10 EOL - not that it means one must stop using Windows 10 this very second. But I was able to accomplish all of my tests so far, and quite successfully, too. The biggest positive surprise? The gaming experience. This one is going waaaaay better than expected. With the magic of Steam Proton, I've been able to play pretty much all and any game I tried. But there are still a handful of titles I must try, including a number of crucial racing and driving simulators. All right, on today's menu, BeamNG.drive, a soft physics vehicle simulation game. Let us begin, then.

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Updated: January 5, 2024 | Category: Hardware

Samsung A54 report 1

It's been a few weeks since I got meself one Samsung A54 mobile phone. The reason I chose it over many other options is the combo of solid price, hardware, camera included, and long-term support. Was this decision a compromise of some sort? Indeed. It's almost impossible for me to find an Android device that ticks all of my boxes. But when it comes to my finicky needs, this lil' Samsung asymptoted as much as possible.

If you read the fairly long and detailed review above, you'll notice I wasn't too happy with the phone. The data migration was partial, the app permissions are overly lax, the Samsung app bundle is average, and I had to spend a lot of time cleaning, pruning, disabling, uninstalling, removing stuff. Even after a whole week, I hadn't truly and fully finished with the phone. This made me annoyed. But I let it be. Well, let's see how and if my impression has changed since the early moments after purchase. Let's begin.

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Updated: January 2, 2024 | Category: Internet

Thunderbird & message filters do not work

One of the neat features of Thunderbird, the excellent free, open-source mail client, is the ability to create filters. You can define all sorts of rules by which your email will be managed - tag, star, forward, set priority, move to a different folder, and then some. To work, the rules usually process certain conditions, like the sender or recipient name or address, specific keyword, and similar. Great, except, it doesn't work. Anymore, that is.

As I frequently test various programs, Thunderbird often comes up in my test set, and lately, I noticed the mail client does not seem to apply my message filters. At all. I cannot say when the problem started, but it's been present for at least several weeks. Namely, existing message filters seem to be ignored. They are not processed automatically, and even when you run them manually, nothing happens. Today, we shall rectify this problem. Follow me.

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Updated: December 30, 2023 | Category: Hardware, Linux

Slimbook Executive report 2

It's been some six months since I purchased my new laptop, one Slimbook Executive. I did it as the old laptop has a bulging battery. C'est la vie. A rather turbulent series of events, all of which turned out well in the end. You can read about those in the first article on the Executive, but that's not why we're here. Today, I want to share more details on my sustained, everyday use of this machine. After all, the initial report is useful, but long-term usage is the true test for any hardware device.

I did that with the Pro2, the previous productivity laptop, and for five years, I shared my escapades with the device, the ups and down, the good and the bad, on all fronts. And ... I will keep doing it, as the Pro2 is back in action, after I replaced the battery pack. Now, with the Executive, I intend to do the same long, rigorous series of tests and reports. We already had one report, and now, let's look at a fresh slew of findings. After me.

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Updated: December 27, 2023 | Category: Cars

Skoda Karoq 1.5 TSI review

The small-medium SUV category is, in the words of Zoolander's Mugatu, so hot right now. Once upon a time, people loved hatchbacks, and then, due to whatever popular pressure, they traded these up for elevated hatchbacks. This means, look left, look right, there's a crossover waiting to be driven.

I chanced upon one Skoda Karoq recently, the post-facelift edition, powered by a 1.5 TSI engine, with cylinder deactivation, front-wheel drive, six-speed manual transmission, and SE L trim level. With 150 HP and 250 Nm of torque, and a 0-100 km/h figure of 9.7 seconds, it's not the speediest vehicle out there, but it promises a good balance of velocity and entertainment. Well, let's explore.

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Updated: December 23, 2023 | Category: Internet

DuckduckGo browser review

As I've told you countless times before, my mobile browsing combo is Firefox + UBlock Origin (UBO). That seems to be the only truly complete solution that matches my taste and needs. Occasionally, though I go about testing alternative browsers, just to see whether there is anything that could potentially offer similar results. Reasonable choice is not a bad thing.

So far in my search, I only briefly had exposure to Safari + Adblock Plus (ABP), and Firefox Focus, also as an extension for said browser. I don't have enough experience to say more. Then, I did a proper test of the lightweight Firefox Focus browser, and the results were okay, but not stellar. The tracking protection was decent, but the ad blocking was not. This brings me to DuckDuckGo. 'Tis a search engine, and I reviewed it several times in the past. Seems quite alright. And there's also a mobile browser. So let's see if perhaps this one can be a solid option for those not keen on the stupidities of the modern Internet.

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Updated: December 19, 2023 | Category: Media

iPhone & local music via VLC tutorial

Why don't you use the iPhone, people sometimes ask me. Two main problems, I tells them. One, being able to use an adblocker in Safari. Two, being able to copy my local music, my MP3 files onto the iPhone without using the iTunes application. For almost ten years or so, give or take, this has been an outstanding pair of problems for me, especially the latter. Now, I am pleased to say I have solved it. And I'd like to share my story as a tutorial.

Recently, I had a chance to test the iPhone 13 Mini. Turned out to be a pretty solid device. I also discovered that you can use content and adblockers for Safari. For example, Firefox Focus and Adblock Plus (ABP) are both available as Safari extensions. Awesome, check. More importantly, I have finally figured how to copy music onto the phone without using iTunes. Let us proceed.

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Updated: December 16, 2023 | Category: Game reviews

ArmA 3 & Spearhead 1944 DLC

The one and only true First Person Shooter (FPS) game in the world has a name: ArmA 3. Since its inception, Bohemia Interactive's franchise of realistic war simulation has always been focused on modern-era combat and technology. Operation Flashpoint was all about the 1980s Cold War. ArmA 2 covered the modern battle landscape. ArmA 3 takes the conceptual futuristic battlefield and brings it close. The game has never been about the olden days, ergo World War Two.

That didn't stop the gaming community from unleashing mods, left and right, covering pretty much all and any scenario. After all, a great strength of the ArmA 3 engine is that it can be modded so easily, and you can have lots of cool stuff beyond the game defaults. Thus, for instance, the community was able to pretty much recreate the entire Chernarus setting (ArmA 2) for the latest release. And the game just seems to be getting more and more popular. Indeed, more recently, we saw an influx of big, serious DLCs focused on past theaters of war. I've already reviewed some of these here, including S.O.G. Prairie Fire and Global Mobilization. Now, I'd like to talk about the WW2-themed DLC called Spearhead 1944. Band of Brothers. Shaving Private Ryan. Or something. Let us begin.

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Updated: December 14, 2023 | Category: Other software

Lockdown Mode review

For a while now, I've been hearing about this tool. Mostly in regard to high-profile zero-day, zero-click, hands-free, security vulnerabilities in iPhones and subsequent hacking of said devices by nation-state actors. Sounds blockbustery, which piqued my interest. I am usually rather disdainful of mainstream media reporting of tech affairs, but that does not mean there isn't something genuinely cool behind flashy, scary headlines. And so I decided to test the Lockdown Mode.

To be able to that, I needed an iPhone. Bingo! I had a pretty sweet chance to do a somewhat long-ish test of an iPhone 13 Mini, which I reviewed not that far back here on Dedoimedo. The little iPhone turned out to be a fairly good and capable phone, and it exceeded my expectations quite some. More importantly, it runs iOS 16/17, and I was able to give the Lockdown Mode a proper whirl. So let us begin, then.

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Updated: December 12, 2023 | Category: Internet

Demise of digital assistants

I'm not a spiteful person. I hath no pride. But sometimes, I do enjoy a good moment of "I told ya so". After all, when, in the course of your life as a techie at a tech firm, you're occasionally forced to listen to lectures on the future, with words like DevOps and AI/ML thrown into the grinder, by "inspired" managers who just read about the new and cool thing on their Linkedin digest in between important meetings, it's only natural that one would feel vindicated when things out turn out, inevitably, as they should. Case in point, the impractical reality of digital assistants.

In the past year or so, reports and stories have come about un-profitability of digital assistants, and as a result, the culling of teams and technology involved. Once upon a time, Siri and Cortana and Alexa were all the rage, and now, they are sort of not. To me, this outcome was obvious from the start. I just had to wait a few years to be, once again, inevitably, proven right. Let me tell why.

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Updated: December 10, 2023 | Category: Office

Sumatra PDF reader review

When I wrote my article on how Windows 11 is still pointless, a wave of nostalgia hit me. I remembered the time of greater simplicity in the computer world, the age of BartPE and UBCD4WIN, the days of portable apps. Companies used to take pride in creating tools that could run live, standalone, on someone's machine, and be moved about at a whim. So I went rummaging through my catalog of oldies, including PortableApps, and then I remembered I've not really written much about Sumatra PDF, as in ... ever.

Sure, I did mention it here and there, but I've never given it a proper review. After all, we're talking about a super-simple, super-lightweight, free, open-source document viewer, capable of opening PDF, CHM, EPUB, MOBI, FB2, XPS, and even PS files. No Javascript nonsense, no fancy actions. Simple file viewing. All right, let's talk in some more depth.

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Updated: December 7, 2023 | Category: Windows

Desktop.ini file shown in Notepad on every logon

If you need more reasons to dislike Windows 11, let me provide. While testing this useless version of Windows a few weeks back, I noticed that every time I'd log into the desktop session, Notepad would pop open, showing the contents of a desktop.ini file. Why? Who knows. But it is annoying.

Well, it took me a little while to narrow down the source of this issue. Eventually I did find it, removed the offending desktop.ini file, and my logons (logins in Windows parlance) have become pristine ever since. Let me show you what you need to do, should you encounter the same phenomenon. After me.

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Updated: December 4, 2023 | Category: Game reviews

BeamNG.drive stuck pedals problem

I recently encountered a weird issue. I connected my G27 steering wheel & pedals set to a gaming machine, with the intention of playing BeamNG. I configured the controls. Then, all of a sudden, I realized I couldn't drive any car. If I pressed the throttle, the car would rev to the max and never stop revving. If I pressed the brake, the car would engage the brake and never let go. I ended up in a situation where I couldn't even do anything meaningful except burn rubber without moving. Hint: things worked perfectly in the past.

It took me a lot of trial and error and frustration to figure it out. There was nothing online that helped. The official guide was not useful, various forums offered nothing meaningful. Then, I realized that, for some reason, the game treated my throttle+brake as a single entity (despite them being two separate pedals), and from then on, it was a simple question of calibration. Let me explain in more detail.

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Updated: December 2, 2023 | Category: Cars

EV goal by 2035

If you're wondering what I intend to say here, this article is about the relatively new legislation by which the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines (ICE) will be (supposedly) banned in the EU, the UK and some US states by 2035 (before it gets changed, pushed, delayed, or canceled). Now assuming this date is valid, let me continue. And first, by saying that electric cars are ... okay. Neither good nor bad. Cars are cars to most people, except the purists. The manner of propulsion is not really important. What matters is the overall value. Driving experience, handling, comfort, running costs, resale value, and so forth. The way the wheels are spun is irrelevant.

What I do want to write about is my gentle amusement and a certain level of disdain to this proposal. Not because it's morally wrong - clean air and whatnot, fair deal, whatever. I want to talk about it, because it's utterly impractical. Let us ponder then.

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Updated: November 30, 2023 | Category: Windows

Wireless connection shows as wired

Recently, I encountered an odd little problem. On one of my Windows 10 boxen, there be two network adapters, both active and used. The wired connection is used for inter-LAN operations and as a secondary (backup) Internet connection. The Wireless one is the primary gateway to the Webs. I configured the traffic priority by manually changing the adapter metric for each of the cards.

The setup works fine, and if both are connected, you will see the Wireless icon, and if you disconnect from it, the Wired icon (for the Ethernet adapter) will show up. Then, for testing purposes, I set up a new router, and noticed that the Wireless icon is no longer there, even when connected to the Wireless network. Only the Ethernet icon shows up, for both networks. Troubleshoot we must.

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Updated: November 27, 2023 | Category: Hardware

Samsung A54 review

Now that my Nokia X10 phone is no longer usable, I am in need of a new device. Thus beginneth my journey. This little escapade ends with the purchase of a Samsung A54 device. Spoiler alert! But, let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let me tell you all the details, the context, the background story. As it happens, two years ago I bought a rather cheap phone, one Nokia X10, in order to replace another cheap phone, one Motorola G6, which had died on me. Value for money, long-term ROI, all that, pay attention please.

Two years in, the Nokia X10 is also misbehaving. The volume button and the side button (the one for camera or assistant or whatnot) have fallen out, and the phone battery is draining rapidly. This started after the last system update. Related? Who knows. But if I use the phone a bit, and/or activate its mobile hotspot, the battery will thereafter deplete within hours, no matter what. Makes the phone practically unusable. And so I spent a good week or so searching for a possible replacement, a task that proved immensely difficult, but in the end I achieved great success, verinajs. And by success I mean, I purchased a new phone. Now, whether it's good or not, well read on.

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Updated: November 24, 2023 | Category: Linux

Plasma menu transparency

This is going to be a tricky article, I must warn you in advance. Why? Because it touches on a topic that may or may not be relevant, depending on which version of the Plasma desktop you use. Therefore, read with caution. But let's assume that you want your Plasma menu to be transparent. Fancy effect 'n' all. Sure. How do you do that? Not trivial.

Plasma does many things extremely well, but the concept of theming can be confusing to newbies. You can set the Plasma theme, desktop theme, window borders, decorations, desktop effects, a mind-boggling array of options. There isn't one way to have fun and customization with Plasma. And if you want the system menu to be transparent, for whatever reason, then you might need this guide. Let us elaborate then, shall we.

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Updated: November 20, 2023 | Category: Windows

Rufus review

I like simple tools. Something that does one job, but does it well. Rufus, a for-Windows live/USB media creation utility seems to fall into this category. When you read the official grumpy-flavored FAQ, you get to appreciate its mission even more. The developer actively chooses to keep his program simple, so it can continue doing what it does best - writing ISO images to USB thumb drives, so you can boot and install your operating systems. Noice.

The program comes in installable and portable versions, it's even available for the ARM builds of Windows, and there's a bunch of supported languages, too. Well, I decided to give it a try, see how it works, and there's a little bonus, too, but we will talk about it a bit later. OK, let us commence this review.

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Updated: November 17, 2023 | Category: Greatest sites

Greatest sites, two more entries added

What's that, you want a laptop, a notebook? Check? NotebookCheck! In the age of AI-infused spammology called the Internet, finding reliable resources for yer online purchases is very difficult, a time-consuming process as complex as choosing what to actually buy. Sometimes though, you may chance upon a gem, a hidden treasure in the trove of nonsense. NotebookCheck is a must-go-to site for whenever you're considering a piece of hardware, be it desktop, laptop, storage, headset, or any which modern gadgetry you may fancy.

For most people, computer game setups are a simple point-n-click affair. But if you're more than a casual normie newb, you might want to know where games keep their screenshots or saves, how to edit or add mods, how to port game configuration between computers, or even operating systems, and tons of other arcane, often not-well-documented stuff. PCGamingWiki is a simple-looking site with phenomenal information.

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Updated: November 13, 2023 | Category: Games

Wreckfest, best cars

Back in the 90s, an amazing game came out. It was called Carmageddon, and it was everything a growing boy could want. Speed, destruction, stupid fun. Fast forward to mid 2010s, and you reminisce on the good ole days of the DOS era, and you wish there still was a nice destruction derby game available to play on your PC, sort of a modern version of Carmageddon. Well, there is! It's called Wreckfest, and it's everything a grown boy could want.

The moment I tried the game, albeit belatedly, I was hooked. Since, I've done everything the game allows. Completed all of the careers, reached level 100, racked some 15 million experience points, earned more than one million of unspent credit, gained more than 1.5 million Tournament points, bought all of the available vehicles, and then some. Now, I want to tell you which cars are best to drive in Wreckfest. Follow me.

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Updated: October 28, 2023 | Category: Windows

Windows 11 periodic review

I keep a copy of Windows 11 Home on my IdeaPad 3 test laptop. Not because I like it or want it, but because I am keen to know what Microsoft has in store for the desktop users. I like to test and tinker and rant, and after all, the laptop already came with a Windows license, so I might as well make the best use of it. My impression of this operating system has been less than lukewarm. There's no point to Windows 11. We're not in the 90s where system updates are big and amazing and meaningful. Nah. It's all pretty much the same.

By and large, when I take into account all the different factors, like the not-really-necessary TPM requirement and such, plus the overload of ads and silly features and degraded responsiveness in the UI, for me, it's quite fair to say that 11 is the new Vista. And now, I've had another round of testing done after a long lull, so let's see what happened.

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Updated: October 26, 2023 | Category: Hardware

iPhone 13 Mini review

As you well know, I've never been an iPhone user. For various reasons, I never got sold onto the strict and rigid ideas of Apple's closed ecosystem. I found Android, for all its Wild West tendencies, more palatable to my taste as a tinkering techie. But I still kept a close look on iPhones, and even reviewed several of the devices over the years. Most notably, I tested iPhone 6s back in 2017 and iPhone 11 in 2021. The results were predictable. Not for me. However, my appreciation for the product has increased in the last decade, specifically hardware quality, very long support, and reasonable security.

Just a few days ago, I had a chance to take an iPhone 13 Mini for a long spin. And I thought, hm, this could be interesting. The selling points are many. Top-notch hardware, seven years of software updates and support AFTER the last day of sale (at least, based on historic trends), and an excellent form factor. The Mini, the last of the Minis as it turns out (for now), measures just 4.7 inches diagonally, just like the iPhone 6s from some eight years ago. Since, the devices have become ridiculously big and cumbersome, and it's very nice to see a phone that can still be classified as an actual phone rather than a brick or a tablet or an assault weapon. Anyway, enough talking, let's see what this thing does.

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Updated: October 24, 2023 | Category: Hardware

Nokia X10 long-term usage report

Ah, it's that time of the year again. A smartphone purchase time. Why? Because my current device is showing signs of impending doom. Let me elaborate. In 2021, I got meself a Nokia X10. I deliberately chose a cheaper phone for my secondary needs, like travel, work, testing, stuff like that. And it served me reasonably well until just a few weeks back when it started exhibiting problematic behavior.

The battery would suddenly drain. Usually after either using mobile data for a while or sharing the mobile connection (hotspot). Instead of doing the usual week plus of slow discharge, the battery would drain within several hours. Either the battery is dying, or the hardware has gone faulty, and there's over-consumption by this or that part, like say the mobile antenna transmitting at peak power nonstop. Whatever the cause, the phone needs replacement. But before we do that, I wanna summarize the last two years. Let's.

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Updated: October 21, 2023 | Category: Internet

Mobile Internet

Sometimes, I feel like I have too much time on my hands. Now and then, I take on an adventure that seems to bring mostly frustration, and no great practical value. Recently, I did just that. I decided to see how "good" the mobile Internet really is. After all, there are four transport media one can utilize the Web with - cable, phone, satellite, and mobile (radio). For most people in urban settings, the first two are the go-to options. In rural areas, sometimes, satellite and mobile are the only available options.

However, recently, more and more people use their phones as the primary computing device, and often they prance about the net without having a fixed connection at home. In other words, there be no physical cables going underground and into their living space, it's all done over-the-air. Put a SIM card into a device, get a radio signal to the cell tower, boom, Bob's your uncle. The question is, how viable is this for any sort of serious network usage? Well, Dedo the great sufferer decided to undergo several months of hard testing to answer that.

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Updated: October 18, 2023 | Category: Internet

Firefox Focus

I came across Firefox Focus purely by accident. I was trying to figure out if there was a simple way to block ads in Safari. Why Safari? Well, that's a story for another time (stay tuned). Now, in the App Store, under Safari extensions, I saw an entry called Firefox Focus. Me frowned. From what I know, on iOS devices, Firefox and friends are just skins for the WebKit engine, so I couldn't really immediately fathom how this browser cum extension fits into the picture. Eventually, fathom that I did, but more interestingly, this little finding spurred a wee exploration, and then, an entire review. And here we are.

In a nutshell, Firefox Focus is a minimalistic browser for mobile devices, focused [sic] on privacy. On Android, it's a browser in its own right, a lightweight version of Firefox, which I use as my primary browser on any Android phone. On iPhones, it's tracking-blocker for Safari. Here, I decided to experiment primarily with the former, and see how the Focus behaves as a day-to-day Internet portal, and if and how it could potentially work alongside proper Firefox. Or perchance even replace it. Let's explore.

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Updated: October 14, 2023 | Category: Linux games

Steam Proton compatibility report

I must start this article with a quick explanation. Last year, I vowed to move away from Windows for good. I am tired of being part of this giant ad-fed low-IQ business. Therefore, I will need to use Linux 100% of the time, but this ain't an easy task. I'm a gamer. So how good is Linux for games? Well.

Over the past seventeen years of Dedoimedo, I've reviewed hundreds of Linux games, wrote extensively about Steam, Proton, and then some. In my last Proton review, things were kind of meh. But then, I got myself the Titan laptop, and started using Proton in earnest. And title after title, it would handle all of my challenges without any problem. I think I need to share my enthusiasm, and my results with you, so you know that if you're also seeking an "escape" from Windows, and mulling serious gaming on Linux, then that reality is happening, right now. After me.

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Updated: October 9, 2023 | Category: Linux

Baloo exclude filters tutorial

If there's one thing in the Plasma desktop stack that needs work, it's the search functionality. Why? Lemme elaborate. I like to use all of Plasma's wonders - Activities, Vaults, Krunner. And I like to use them efficiently. For instance, I like to create separate desktop activities, and then also store files inside Vaults. For various reasons, including privacy, I like to keep some of these "domains" unindexed in the search. Plasma supports this requirement, quite well. But then, there be bugs.

Plasma's search engine, Baloo, has always been tricky for me. It would work or not work, consume too much CPU, the index would be corrupt, the search results partial or broken. Over the years, I rarely had much luck getting it to work. Now, on the upgraded Slimbook Pro2, with Kubuntu 22.04, it FINALLY works. But it took me a little while to tame it. Specifically, it seemed to ignore my requirement not to return search results for specific file types, and yet, it did. We shall discuss the problem now.

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Updated: October 4, 2023 | Category: Car reviews

Hyundai Tucson N Line

Normally, I try to spend as much time as I can driving a car before I jot down a review. Typically, you need about 800-900 km, and/or at least 8-10 hours inside a vehicle to get a reasonable sense of what it can do, how well it holds the road, how comfortable or sporty it is, and such. Alas, today, I will only be able to regale you with a relatively short article, my impression of a crossover SUV Hyundai Tucson, clad in N Line trim.

I got to drive a FWD petrol version, equipped with a 1.6-liter turbocharged G1.6 T-GDi engine, delivering 180 horses and a rather reasonable if not bombastic 265 Nm of torque, mated to a seven-speed DCT gearbox. The interesting part is the mix of highway driving, urban driving, with snow, ice and sun all thrown into the equation. Well then, without further ado, let us dig in.

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Updated: October 4, 2023 | Category: Site news

Dedoimedo no longer runs ads

No more ads. As of mid-September, Dedoimedo no longer displays any ads. If you recall, a few weeks ago, Google Adsense informed me that it could not find a compliant Consent Management Platform (CMP) on my domain. Which is nonsense, because I've been using one for five solid years now. My choice: use Google's platform or not show any ads in the EEA/UK from January. I decided to go for a third option. Show no ads whatsoever. As a result, I've removed all Google Adsense code from my site.

Furthermore, I've also removed Google Custom Search and ShareThis social media buttons. I still use Google Analytics, but I'm seriously considering getting rid of that code, too. That would make Dedoimedo once again a pure HTML/CSS site, the way I always intended. And as an end user, you win, too! Now, some of you may be wondering: Dedo, how are you going to "monetize" your site then? The answer is simple. I won't. If you do want to support me, buy my books. That's the best way. Other than that, have a fun, fast and privacy-improved experience on Dedoimedo. Bon voyage.

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Updated: September 30, 2023 | Category: Office

LibreOffice adoption

Let me start with a disclaimer. I really like LibreOffice. I use it extensively, and I've written pretty much of all of my books using it, up to the point where I needed to send the materials to my editors, who would only accept DOCX files. Still, I find it useful, valuable and practical, and it does the job reasonably well. But a market leader, it is not. That title is reserved to Microsoft Office, for better or worse.

Every few months, a new version of the LibreOffice suite is released, I test it, and often, I get disappointed and frustrated. Because every new version tells the same story. Average support for the Microsoft Office file formats, ergo uncertain file conversion quality. And so, we go back to square one. Dedoimedo writes his book in LibreOffice, but then must use Microsoft Office for when he wants to talk to the publishers. This needs to change. Step one, LibreOffice should adopt, gasp, the proprietary file formats. Let us elaborate.

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Updated: September 29, 2023 | Category: Hardware, Linux

Slimbook Titan report 1

By now, you ought to know the drill. Dedo gets himself a Linux-powered laptop, Dedo writes reports on his long-term usage, over a period of months, years. We get the first-hour impression, but then, there's the first month, the first year, the fifth year, and whatnot. I've done this with my Slimbook Pro2, a laptop that has served me loyally for five years, until its battery went a-wonk, where I decided to buy a new productivity machine, one Slimbook Executive, and for which I've already started its own series of usage reports.

In the meantime, I got the Pro2 battery replaced, it's back in action, but in between the Pro2 and the Executive, I also got myself an Nvidia-powered hefty, a large and mighty and aptly named Slimbook Titan. Here, the purpose of this purchase is to ascertain when I can ditch Windows for good. A while back, I decided that I don't want to play the silly, low-IQ games that Microsoft is doing with Windows 11 (and will most likely continue forever onwards), and so I decided to try to migrate to Linux only, office usage and games and everything. The Titan is the shepherd on that journey, I've had it for a while, and it is now time to give you the first "combat" report, much as I did with the Pro2. Let's see what the big laptop did in its first three months of Dedoimedian existence. After me.

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Updated: September 24, 2023 | Category: Internet

UBO filter loading on startup

Using the "modern" Internet without an adblocker is an exercise in stupidity, futility and wasted bandwidth. Three decades of computer usage on, I am still waiting for the first ever useful or relevant ad to be shown to me, in some shape or form. Oh, that's right, ads are pointless, and they only work for people whose IQ hovers in that sweet 85-90 range. Hence, using and adblocker is important. The best of all? UBlock Origin, which is also available for Firefox on mobile, what what.

Now, recently, I noticed, mostly in Edge on Linux, and occasionally a few other Chromium-based browsers, that UBO loads with a yellow exclamation mark on its icon. If you expand, it says: Could not filter properly at browser launch. Reload the page to ensure proper filtering. Hm, not good. I mean, the fix is trivial, but the implications are not. If the browser launches and the filtering AKA adblocking & tracker-blocking is not working correctly, then your browser may be leaking information. Let's systematically fix this.

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Updated: September 19, 2023 | Category: Internet

Google Adsense, CMP problem

A few days ago, I received an email from Google Adsense, urging me to take action. What about? Well, the email said I need to implement a Google-certified Consent Management Platform (CMP) to comply with GDPR. More specifically, the email said: "It appears you have not yet adopted a Google-certified CMP to collect consent from your users, which means your site(s) will stop showing AdSense ads and receiving revenue on EEA and UK traffic after January 16, 2024."

This is funny and rather sad because I have been using a CMP since around 2018, when I implemented GDPR-compliant changes to my websites. In fact, if you delete your cookies and such and visit Dedoimedo, you will see a popup on the right side of your screen, asking for your CONSENT to store cookies and such. Not only that, I have been using a CMP by CIVIC, which is on the list of Google-certified CMPs. Full GDPR, CCPA, IAB TCF v2.0 compliance. So it would seem we have a problem.

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Updated: September 16, 2023 | Category: Hardware, Linux

Slimbook Executive report 1

Yo yo yo, here we are. It's now been roughly a month and change since I first got me hands on the lovely and sleek Slimbook Executive, my new productivity laptop running Kubuntu 22.04 LTS. The initial impression has been amazing, on all fronts. But using a machine for a day or two ain't the same as using it for a month or two.

Well, in much the same fashion I did with the previous productivity machine, the Slimbook Pro2, we're gonna have a series of "combat" reports, which document the everyday usage, the niggles, the problems, all the grueling details of a super-long-term hardware & software review. Over roughly five years of non-stop usage, I wrote some fourteen articles about the Pro2, the unexpected but successful battery replacement, and we shall yet continue that saga, as the laptop lives on. Now, let us focus on the Executive and see what it does for us. Begin.

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Updated: September 12, 2023 | Category: Linux games

Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition under Steam Proton

When I first tested Steam Proton some two years back, I was quite disappointed. Back then, I hadn't been able to get AoE to run, neither II nor III. Well, a lot has changed since. As the article title obviously alludes, you can now play this amazing game on your Linux rig, without any problems. Perhaps I should elaborate.

As it happens, I'm a massive fan of the RTS genre. For me, it all started with Warcraft, Command & Conquer, and then, Age of Empires II happened. I've enjoyed the game since its release, more than two decades ago. Several years back, this phenomenal, quintessential title saw revival, with a remastered edition released, followed by a number of expansion packs, and finally culminating in the sweet Definitive Edition, a 4K 60FPS version. Bought them all, played them all. Windows, until very recently. It is time to share the story of me success with getting this fine and ultra-important title to run in Linux. Follow me.

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Updated: September 9, 2023 | Category: Internet

Google Chrome & ad privacy feature

Whenever I hear the words ads and privacy, I chuckle. The almost-fanatical obsession with ads as a business model is something that always baffles my non-Westcoasian brain, and so, whenever products try to make me into a product, I resist. A few days ago, I wrote an article about Microsoft Edge & personalized Web experience, and the stupid "Got it!" button. In that piece, I also wrote how Google will do their thing, without actually asking you, unless compelled by law.

Well, Chrome now has something called Ad Privacy feature. For the past few years, the company has done its best to "nudge" users into participating in their new ad experiments. If I'm not mistaken, there was FLoC, Privacy Sandbox, whatever, and now Topics. Whatever you call these things, it comes down to the same thing. Your browsing activity is profiled, and your monkey activities are monetized. This new feature seems to be more of the same. Let's talk details.

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Updated: August 30, 2023 | Category: Internet

Microsoft Edge & Got it! button

My choice of the primary browser is super easy. Firefox. End of story. Has been and will be. It's the secondary browser story that has been somewhat tumultuous in me Internet history. First, it was Opera, then Chrome, and then Chrome slash Edge, depending on the scenario. For example, in Windows, I don't want to use Edge, on purpose, but in Linux, I've had no problem using it. Quite the opposite, I found it to be rather good and capable. Then, Google occasionally comes out with their wild ideas on what the Internet should be like, and I don't like many of those ideas, so the use of Microsoft Edge is sometimes an attempt to try to counter some of that.

But then, just as one thinks that everything is fine, Microsoft decides to undo the nice user experience they created early on. For example, the whole Discover slash chat sidebar nonsense. Take a browser and turn it into a hyperactive neurotic low-IQ product for the masses. If that's not enough, I recently discovered another big problem. Let me show you.

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Updated: August 17, 2023 | Category: Hardware, Linux

Slimbook Pro2 & battery replacement

Believe or not, but until a few days ago, I have never had a need to open a laptop case. It's not that I'm clueless. I've done all sorts of hardware assembly and part replacements in all manner of devices, including desktops and cars and whatnot. It's just that I never had to really do anything with any laptop before. So far, my gadgets had served me faithfully until the last moment of their usage.

However, about a month ago, my Pro2 battery started inflating, prompting me to power off the machine immediately, and buy myself a new laptop. The end result of that adventure is the glorious Executive, which is now my primary productivity device. However, that leaves the Pro2 unaccounted for. And if you look at its spec, eighth-gen i5, 16 GB of RAM, 500GB SSD, this is more than useful for any practical purpose. It would be silly to abandon a laptop that is only five years old. A good machine ought to last a decade. So I decided to replace the battery, and see if I could make it work again.

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Updated: August 11, 2023 | Category: Internet

Firefox & WebGL jerky playback

If you're using Firefox (as you should), then you also may want to consider Noscript (as you should), for it helps transform the Javascript jungle that is the modern Web into something more pristine and palatable. But, the problem is, Noscript can be a little tricky to configure for normies, and it does take some understanding to utilize effectively. Then, there could be odd bugs. Like the one I will describe right now.

I wanted to play a video in Firefox. One of them streaming services. Find an episode of something you like, watch it. Of course, beforehand, I enabled scripts on the streaming service domain, all of the necessary and required bits and pieces. And the playback started just fine ... except, every 10 seconds or so, there would be this jerky effect, like a couple of frames dropping. Or perhaps networking buffering. Weird. Well, I decided I could not let it be, and started exploring and investigating. Long story short, the pathfinding led me to Noscript. After me, people.

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Updated: August 1, 2023 | Category: Linux, Linux games

Steam, 4K display scaling tutorial

As you well know, I really liked Steam. I also like Linux. I also like to try to use Steam on Linux as much as possible. About two years back, I started my de-Windowsification process, as I realized there's no future in playing the cat-and-idiot game with Windows 11, online account nonsense, ads and such. But to be able to migrate away, Steam must pop pop pop on Linux. Super green, it must be.

The journey is going mega-good, but recently I encountered a wee problem. I got myself a new laptop, one Slimbook Executive, and it has a 3K display - 2880x1800px, stretched over just 14 inches. With 1:1 pixel resolution, anything rendered on the screen is too tiny, Steam UI included. Indeed, Steam does not seem to obey my Kubuntu Plasma 1.75x scaling factor, and no toggle in the Settings menu seems to help. Now, let me show you how you can make Steam actually obey your desktop scaling. This will make the interface bigger and more usable on small-size large-resolution displays. After me.

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