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Showing posts from August, 2012

openSUSE 12.2 is just around the corner!

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Five Superheroes that endorse Linux Part 2

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Spider-Man (Happy 50th Anniversary!)






















CAMERON (Summer Glau)



***Cameron just revealed that Skynet was built by Apple (they sued all the companies and their iPads/iPods started taking over the world. . . ***

Five Superheroes that endorse Linux Part 1

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Category: Techtoday

A recent article on Wired.com annoyingly proclaimed Linux as dead and buried due to OSX. The forum discussions were even worst as Apple users heaped praise on their OS of choice and urinated on both Windows and Linux distributions for being difficult and unusable. As a longtime Linux user and self-proclaimed Linux evangelist, I called on my friends from high places (particularly Peter who was sticking on the 36th floor of the Empire State Building) to show their love for Linux.

IRON MAN



BATMAN



CAPTAIN AMERICA



Linux on Film: True Blood Season 4 Episode 6

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Category: Techtoday

Although this is a long shot at best, there's a very brief scene with Bill Compton making a Skype call using a desktop in his home office. The workstation is clearly not an iMac and the absence of the Dock (and the use of a standard mouse and keyboard) is pretty obvious. However, the mounted drive and the icons indicate a Linux-based distribution. Skype, which is recognizable through the sound when Bill makes his video call, can of course be installed on Ubuntu, openSUSE, and other Linux distributions. It could still be a hidden Mac Mini, but most shows actually love showing off their Macs.






If accurate, True Blood (a supernatural and sexy series with various types of monsters) is one of the more unlikely candidates of a cameo from a Linux distribution.    

Samsung vs. Apple: No opinion

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Category: Techtoday

The patent battle between tech heavyweights Samsung and Apple was a big deal in many ways. Will it drastically change the landscape of consumer electronics as we know it? How will it affect the fallen titan Microsoft and other manufacturers who intend to compete with Apple? There are so many aspects to the case that is downright controversial, including a questionable jury, the nature of patents, and the overall U.S. justice system.

Like many things in this great age of technology, it's very easy to fall into biases and preconceived notions. There is no doubt the outcome of the Apple and Samsung debacle will affect the consumers and the industry in general. Each and every person on the Internet out there has every right to vent for/against either party.  Forums and news sites are rife with cat-and-dog fights about how evil Apple/Samsung is and how badly one behaves over the other. It's e…

Desktop Apps for Online Storage: Ubuntu One, Windows SkyDrive, and ASUS WebStorage Part 1

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Category: Techtoday

Should you use desktop online storage apps or should you just access the web interface? Although physical storage is still superior to cloud storage in a lot of ways, there are plenty of reasons to take advantage of the free online storage provided by many companies. Even casual users (like myself), can take advantage of these benefits:
Uploading documents and images in lieu of using USB flash drivesBacking up extremely important documents in case of hard drive failure (even 2GB is plenty for accounting books, workpapers, and scanned images)Syncing files to different computers and devices such as tablets, netbooks, and even smartphones Everyone who has a Dropbox account already know just how useful their service and their cross-platform utilities are. Their success triggered many companies to up their game and provide both cloud storage services and a desktop utility to sync …

Checking your EPUB with ePubChecker

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Category: Techwriter

So you've finished your EPUB and you want to test it. However, you're not comfortable with working on the command line or using text editors and XML validators. Although it's often much more effective to test an EPUB using the hardware and software of the target end-user, validating an EPUB just like any XML or web document ensures a wider compatibility across devices and platforms.

A failed validation process doesn't necessarily mean the EPUB won't display on a device, app, or software - it just means certain basic tenets or rules of XML, XHTML, and EPUB weren't followed. At the minimum, errors may probably trigger layout issues when the EPUB is viewed on a device such as an iPod or Galaxy Tab.

The ePubChecker App is a free standalone EPUB utility designed to check your EPUB for errors. It's fast and easy to set up and can be downloaded from Rainwater-soft. Although t…

Self-publishing an ebook and the Chicago Manual of Style

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When using InDesign, DocBook, or even Sigil to create ebooks, it's always good practice to follow a style guide. Your product will not only look more professional, but saves publishers in Amazon or iTunes store from requesting you to follow a certain structure or edit your manuscript. The classic Chicago Manual of Style is one of the most evolved resources for publishing a book or journal with its attention to detail and tried and tested approach to structure and layout.



Publishing an ebook has different rules from a printed book especially when it comes to the nuances associated with digital content. Ebooks in many ways share the same characteristics as web pages (which is literally true for those who write ebooks using Docbook or via XHTML directly). When self-publishing for the first time, it's good to take note of the following points:

1. As per Chicago, you aren't required to identify the recto an…

Tech Flashback: Nintendo Power

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Category: Techtoday

With Nintendo Powerending their publishing run, there are people all around the world who are heaving a nostalgic sigh as one of their long-cherished memories is finally nailed shut in the coffin of time.

My brothers and I actually used the "Family Computer" and not the American NES in the 80s. The 8-bit games were the same though the Family Computer profited from various revisions in the huge library of selections (and the smaller sized cartridges). My brother, an avid gamer, had requested for a Nintendo Power subscription from a family friend during our time in Los Angeles, who shipped the issues regularly to our address in Southeast Asia.



Suffice to say, I loved Nintendo Power not for the reviews and gaming tips but for the brilliantly rendered artwork and funny articles.  As a casual gamer, I never got to play 1/10th of the games featured in the issues we had, but it w…

Captions and Easy Callouts with Corel Draw

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Category: Techwriter

Complex technical illustrations designed using CAD software require judiciously placed callouts, requiring precise tools from CAD software to achieve visual and mathematical consistency. For technical documentation for a more general audience, however, callouts are a necessary evil that occasionally ruin a beautifully rendered illustration, art, or drawing with misplaced lines and poorly positioned text references or captions.

There are no strict rules to placing arrows that point to a specific part - it really depends on the manual style, the subject, and the type of image. Vector images are the easiest because they can be broken apart for a "magnified view." Photographs are the least effective in technical documents because they don't fit very well when mixed with renderings and text.  Bitmap images, such as screen captures, are all right as long as they were taken at a high …

Toucan, SyncToy, and File Syncing Freeware in Windows

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Surprisingly, it's difficult to find a simple and stable utility to sync files across folders in Windows. My personal choice for file syncing, Linux's Grsync, was ported to Windows but didn't work out as well as the original.  It's no secret that syncing files between external storage and networks is quickly being supplanted by cloud storage/services (e.g. Dropbox.com and Live Mesh) and cheap NAS hardware (e.g. Synology and Western Digital NAS). 3rd-party software like those included with Seagate,Buffalo, and Imation drives also pretty much solve backup and syncing processes with consumer storage (if you're willing to use proprietary software). Still, there are still users like me who like to backup files manually without the aid of any of the above.

Having "retired" somewhat from Windows to migrate to Linux, I was surprised how the freeware landscape has changed in Windows. Softwa…

The Two Sides to Wikipedia - Fact and Entertainment

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If you ever, ever, want to lose credibility in a discussion, technical or otherwise. Quote Wikipedia. In fact, if you encounter any review, article, or blog that begins with a reference to text found in Wikipedia, click fast and away from that URL - as far away as the Internet universe can take you.

Now, don't get me wrong. I read through Wikipedia as much as anyone else. It's educational and most of it is well-written. In fact, Wikipedia is what makes the Internet the greatest man-made creation ever.  What works with Wikipedia is the ability to pull so much information about an entity, term, or idea in one place. It's updated by companies and professionals from all over the world and encompasses almost everything under the sun. That said, it should never be your primary reference for anything at all. And you should always read through it with a certain amount of reserve, skepticism, and outright h…

Using Hidden Characters to Organize text in InDesign

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Category: Techwriter

InDesign is not a word processor. It is much, much more powerful than a word processor and learning how to use the Paragraph tools and understanding how it handles text takes time. InDesign, contrary to a new user's belief, doesn't just involve pasting text and images and moving frames around.

In this short tutorial, we'll look at how hidden characters behave in InDesign and how hidden characters can be used in organizing text.

Note: Screenshots and instructions are for Adobe InDesign CS4

To show hidden characters, press CTRL+ALT+I. The screenshot below is a fictional example of a poorly formatted chunk of text. There are three hidden characters that are now visible:



1. An improperly used Line Break which the writer accomplished by pressing SHIFT+Return.



2. The standard Pilcrow character that identifies a Paragraph.



3. A Tab character.



Hidden characters can be copied and pasted just l…

Online Storage, Clean Installs, and backing up your Spank Bank

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Category: Techtoday

Online storage, one of the first manifestations of "the cloud," is unavoidable. If you have an iOS or MacOSX device, you have iCloud. If you have a Microsoft product such as Windows 7 or Office 2010, you have SkyDrive and LiveMesh. A Google account merits you tons of storage space via Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Docs. The most popular cloud storage service today is arguably Dropbox, which is lauded for its cross-platform features. However, I have a strong feeling iCloud is tops due to the proliferation of iPhones and iPads.

Some power users are incredibly dependent on their cloud storage, shelling out money to backup their computers to remote servers located elsewhere handled by third-party who-knows-who. Personally, I would rather scrape for a Buffalo NAS or Western Digital external drive than upload all my files to the  cloud (or burn them to DVDR).

Unnecessary

For…

Top 10 Simple Reasons you're in the Wrong IT Department/Company

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Category: Techtoday

1. Your workstation is running on Pentium 4 and the iMac is running a PowerPC with 512MB of RAM.

2. Some of the staff think they're technical because they can Google technical terms and think they understand them by reading Wikipedia.org. They also think subnet mask is something Spider-Man wears to hide his identity. Plus, their primary reference for specifications is via the marketing descriptions on Amazon.com and Newegg.com.


"Uhm. . . MJ, where's my subnet mask?"

3. The technical editor doesn't know what a pilcrow is and uses Shift+Enter and Return rather than the Paragraph tools in Adobe InDesign. Oh, that's right, you didn't pay for your copy so you don't need to learn how to use Adobe InDesign properly.

4. 90% of the staff think Linux is something you eat.


"Excuse me? I am not edible, good sir!"

5. They have genuine Microsoft Windows and Apple software, but they give yo…

Authenticity and Plagiarism on the Internet

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Category: Techtoday

With plagiarism appearing all over the news in the last year or so (including the more recent incident with Fareed Zakaria), one can't help but wonder why it's only getting this much press now. The Internet is so powerful and so complex it's easy to get away with just about any type of plagiarism, copyright infringement, and just outright copying. It's not even about torrents, P2P file-sharing, and Usenet. Anyone with even rudimentary HTML or XML skills can extract content from web pages and even remote servers if they tried. That alone isn't so bad until you start using it and claiming it as your own work. 

With news about politicians faking their dissertations, scientists copying other people's research, and journalists taking text from other journalists (that's you Zakaria), it's hard to condemn high school students and college joes who copy and past…