Showing posts from November, 2010

Sailing in Chinese Junks

The idea of Chinese junks triggers images of strangely angular water crafts wafting across Hong Kong bay.  It is one of the less recognized contributions of China to technology, but no less important.  Many innovations on these marvelous crafts are still found in modern seafaring boats today.  Sailing and sea travel in general is an art form and discipline on its own - any sailor or mariner will tell you that it has its own terminology and science that would rival the complexity of studying computer science or aeronautics.  Among many of their accomplishments, the Chinese had a grasp of this science and had a way of creating their crafts that made them seafaring geniuses more than a century ago.

China's diverse topography involves all forms of bodies of water and often it's easy to forget that they had a remarkable history in terms of transportation.  Dozens of types of crafts existed up and down the coast of China.  Besides the more well-known Hong Kong fisher and Hong Kong …

Resolving USB storage issues in Mandriva 2010.x

The Device Notifier widget is a default feature found on the Panel in Mandriva 2010.x KDE.  It's extremely useful when mounting and unmounting devices such as SD cards, memory sticks, external HDDs, and flash drives.
After a fresh installation of an earlier version of Mandriva 2010.x, it is possible to encounter a USB issue involving plugging in storage devices.  The Device Notifier and Dolphin (KDE’s default file manager) will fail to register the plugged in device, forcing the user to have to access the Terminal to manually mount and unmount the device. 
This issue is easily resolved by restarting a system called haldaemon.  Open up a Terminal and enter the following:

cd /etc/init.d/haldaemon restart

This resolution is available in the Mandriva Community and the issue has been corrected in the newest release of Mandriva 2010.

Review: Reading with the Sony Reader PRS-600

Objective Review:

There is no doubt that e-readers will gradually spread across markets beyond the United States.  China will largely benefit from the usage of this technology and will certainly save a lot of paper if it catches on.

Sony recently released a new set of Readers which have received great reviews for its infrared touchscreen (a change from touch-sensitive capacitive screens found on tablet PCs and cellphones).  They also improved the display, making use of the Pearl E-ink technology which is a step up from the previous E-ink technology they had used.

In general, Sony Readers are more expensive than the wireless-enabled Kindle and the color-screen Nook.  Admittedly, Sony also had false starts with their initial set of Readers.

This review focuses on the previous version of Sony's Readers, specifically the Sony Reader PRS-600.

Some of the following faults of the PRS-600 (corrected in the PRS-650 and even the PRS-350) are:

1. Poor touchscreen response
2. Sluggish respons…

Installing Printers in Mandriva 2010.x Part 2

As discussed in Part 1, the Brother HL-2140 can be installed in Mandriva 2010.x without having to download and install the manufacturer's printer drivers.  However, for hardware to function as it was designed it is always best to install the specific driver for the model.

Installing Brother HL-2140 requires two files.  One is a lpr driver file and another is a cupswrapper file.  The two files can be found here.

The Brother Solutions Center website provides installation steps for both but navigating the Linux portion of the site can be a bit confusing.  It is somewhat heavy with jargon and isn't really too friendly for new Linux users.  However, executing the two files are straightforward.

Step 1: Go to the Brother Solutions Center and look for the "For Linux users" section. The lpr and cupswrapper files are available as either .deb or .rpm.  Mandriva is an RPM-based distribution so download the respective lpr and cupswrapper files in RPM format.

Save the download to a…

Hagakure: In the Shadow of Leaves

The translator, William Scott Wilson, gives a disclaimer early on in the book: Yamamoto Tsunetomo was not a true samurai in the sense that he was born during the wrong period. He had never participated in battle as expected of samurai.  Traditional practices, such as seppuku and tsuifuku (of which the book predominantly speaks of) were already outlawed during his time. Moreover, William Scott Wilson admits Tsunetomo had never been recognized for his work. More importantly, the ideas presented here are limited to the Nabeshima Clan. All the beliefs and ideas here, if practiced at all, are more likely only known by a small circle of samurai families. This is further confirmed by Tsunetomo's original design that the original text be destroyed or disregarded. But William Scott Wilson explains, and his introduction should be read seriously, that Tsunetomo was an intelligent man who wrote using material told to him by those who lived during the age of the samurai - in this way, it is un…

Navigating Folders using Dolphin and the Terminal

Navigating files and folders using the Terminal can be a challenge but a necessity especially when you need to run a Terminal command on a specific file (e.g. installing an application for instance).

Dolphin, a file browser included with KDE, makes navigating folders easy using both the GUI and the Terminal.

For users who aren't comfortable navigating around folders using the Terminal but require the Terminal's broad powers, Dolphin can display the folders via the GUI and the Terminal simultaneously in one Window.  Just click on View>Panels>Terminal  or just F4.

As you navigate using the icons/GUI, the Terminal path (the location on the "prompt") will follow.  You can see the contents of the folder to ensure that you're in the right place and ready to run the appropriate file. 

For those who prefer to type the path of the file sans the Terminal, Dolphin can switch from the "breadcrumbs" view of the path to an editable Locationor Address Bar

Use the …

Installing Printers in Mandriva 2010.x Part 1

One of the concerns of Windows users transitioning over to Linux is installing printers - an indispensable hardware in any home/office.  Linux has made great progress making installation of printers easier and problem-free.  There are even some hardware providers, such as HP and the previously mentioned Brother, who provide Linux drivers on their web site.

Today, we will look at installing the previously reviewed Brother HL-2140 on a Mandriva 2010 system without the provided Linux drivers.

1. Make sure that the printer is not connected to the computer.

2. Go to Mandriva Linux Control Center>Set up the Printers

3. A window will pop up requesting for the package Task-printing-misc to be installed (Mandriva will also install other packages if needed). 

If you are connected to the Internet, it will download the appropriate package, which includes various drivers from manufacturers.  If you are not online and you have the DVD media of Mandriva, use it as a repository and install the Task…

Giving the Netbook its Due

The market for the Netbook has matured and tech pundits all over Gizmodo, Lifehacker, PCworld, PCmag, and CNET have all heralded Smartphones and Tablets as the new standard of portable technology.  There are some bloggers, however, who defend the still-ubiquitous Netbook's ability to sell itself. 

Articles and reviews on the Netbook have dried up substantially compared to 6 or 12 months ago.  In fact, even with the release of the Dual-Core Atom (the defacto processor for Netbooks) and the Nvidia Ion platform this year, the iPad, iPhone, Android and even the newly released Samsung Tablet hounded the news.  So why is MSI pursuing a series of MSI Wind machines powered by AMD's Athlon Neo II(Congo) and Intel N550 Dual-Core Atom processors?  Asus, LG, Samsung, Lenovo, and Toshiba, are all redesigning their systems also despite all their Netbooks having the same amount of RAM, FSB, and form factor.  Netbooks have certainly taken the back seat in the market but it is clear they haven…

East vs. West: It wasn't just about Location

It is true that geography dictated a portion of how civilizations developed.  Students are taught that our ancestors settled and traveled based on their environment and their needs.  Men were strengthened by the elements and likewise prospered because of the same - the rivers, forests, mountains, and oceans to a certain extent controlled man's livelihood.  For all the resourcefulness, adaptability, and intelligence of our ancestors, they were still puppets to the climate, topography, wildlife, and vegetation he lived in.  However, various articles have been written regarding how the theories regarding the origins of civilizations, particularly the relationship between Asians and Europeans, may actually be untrue.

In a BBC article entitled "Location, location, and how the West was won,"  the author puts forward arguments that it was due to geography that allowed the West to gain superiority over the East. There are a few convincing arguments outlined therein, but there ar…

Alcohol Kuchi (mouth)

There are a lot of reasons why I want to learn how to drink alcohol.  It would give me an excuse to say I was not of rational mind when I mouth off (which happens more often than I would like to admit). 

Kawabata's Masterpiece: Sembazuru (Thousand Cranes)

The past, the present, and Karma all intertwine in "Sembazuru," a brilliant novel by Nobel Prize for Literature (1968) winner Yasunari Kawabata

Kikuji, the book's main character, is a powerless figure in this passionate but restrained tale that rivals Kawabata's more popular "Snow Country."   It begins with Kikuji's father who, in typical male arrogance, seizes dominance over three women: his wife and mother to Kikuji, the jilted mistress Chikako, and the lonely widow Mrs. Ota. Years later, Kikuji, who is haunted by a living embodiment of the poison of his father's sins, is indecisive. He is a pathetic marionette ruled by his own subtle passion for the "Inamura girl" and his father's mistress and later, the daughter of his father's mistress. His restraint and indisposition often enrages the reader - and perhaps this is what Kawabata fully intended.

Despite the strong emotions and the disturbing events that run through this 147-pa…

Flying Moviehouse

With the proliferation of devices allowed on the plane such as the Playstation Portable, Netbooks, laptops, MP3 players, portable DVD players, the iTouch, and smartphones, people have neglected one of the best services airlines have to offer: the In-flight movie.

In the 80s, a passenger had to be either very tall or had to be seated on the aisle to enjoy the movie projected on the partition miles away from his seat.  Today, every passenger, even those in Economy class, has their own personal display either embedded on the seat in front of him or tucked away on his armrest (or underneath his seat).  This, I honestly believe, is one of the great innovations of entertainment technology.

In-flight movies are a brilliant source of entertainment because it allows you to view different types of movies as you fly 33,000 miles above the world.  In-flight movies are selected based on the destination, airport of origin, subtitle and language, popularity, and target audience.  For instance, on a …

Vietnam's Hidden Mysteries

It is sad that the country Vietnam is more associated with that violent affair with the Americans than with a culture that is as ancient and even more mysterious than China.  Japan, China, Korea, and even India's many mysteries have been revealed in the world stage and scholars have written mountains of books for more than a hundred years now analyzing their contributions to civilization.  Hopefully, Vietnam's many diverse treasures will be revealed soon too as the country once associated with Indochina begins to take reins of their economic progress. 

Huu Ngoc, a prolific essayist and translator, writes a wealth of information about Vietnam in his massive book "Wandering Through Vietnamese Culture." In this brilliant 250-article, 1123-page tome, he informs and ponders intelligently and with pride about his beloved country.  In the world map, Vietnam seems a sliver of land compared to Russia, India, Japan, and Malaysia.  In his book, however, Huu Ngoc reveals the sma…