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Showing posts from October, 2012

Comparing Hardware Specs and Cost - the new standard for men?

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Category: Techtoday

It always confuses me when people exchange hardware specs in forums and boast about how much they spent for their setup, tablet, laptop, or smartphone. "I spent xxx dollars and my xxx processor and xxx RAM can smoke your rig any day of the week!" And then another guy will come out of nowhere and say, "It's in the OS d*mb*ass and nothing is better than an iMac with Mountain Lion! NOTHING!" They even fight over screen size, apps, and speed. It actually makes me wonder what they use their equipment for other than gaming (surfing for Aoi Sola or Tori Black movies?).


The primary reason why guys buy a Macbook with Retina screen.

Strangely enough, when you visit or read Esquire, FHM, ASKMEN, or sports/automobile sites, you don't read about how members boast about their chrome mags looking better than x or y or talk about gym equipment made up of really expensive materia…

Booting into Linux on Windows 8 Secure Boot-equipped hardware

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Category: Linux

When news about Secure Boot came out and fears of Linux users being kicked out as an alternate OS started, I wasn't apprehensive. I had full faith that the Linux community would quickly resolve the issue quickly and with panache. At any rate, if you've purchased hardware preinstalled with Windows 8 and can't seem to boot using your beloved LiveCD or LiveUSB, you can try a work around via the BIOS. You won't reap the purported benefits of Secure Boot, but you'll be running openSUSE and Knoppix in no time.

Disclaimer: The steps outlined here do not apply to all hardware. It really depends on how the hardware manufacturer implemented Secure Boot on the firmware. For more information about Secure Boot and its relationship with open-source operating systems, visit this article for a brief overview.




I tested the procedure below with an openSUSE 12.2 LiveCD and a Kn…

Adventures in Xujiahui, Shanghai Part 2

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Continued from Adventures in Xujiahui, Shanghai Part 1

Metro Plaza: Gangnam Style, Secret, Girls Generation, and Linux


Metro Plaza has its own smaller electronics market but you visit the mall for the computer brand retail stores. The staff are more knowledgeable and not as pushy. Gaming devices like the Playstation 3 and XBOX360 are also more visible here. The same brands in Pacific Digital Plaza are there plus lesser known or upper-tier brands such as Bose, Hanvon, and Transcend. The displays are more organized and each sales area focuses on one brand only. Of course, you don't get to bargain and have to contend with the suggested retail price but you get nice glossy fliers, a branded shopping bag, and freebies if you buy direct from them.




I found myself trailing a family from New York so I could take a closer look at the new products. The staff was obviously more interested in them than me. But even then I couldn…

Adventures in Xujahui, Shanghai Part 1

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Category: Techtoday

As a penniless fan of computers and electronics, I've spent countless hours just walking around in places like BestBuy and Future Shop (Canada). As nice as Newegg, Fry's, and Amazon are for browsing products online, there's nothing like touching and smelling the silicon, plastic, and metal parts of newly unpackaged products. You can't accuse me of "showrooming"  though since I buy online only twice a year (hey, that's why i said 'penniless'). I've also traversed flea market electronic malls such as Manila's Greenhills, Singapore's Sim Lim Square, and Bangkok's Petchaburi road. So, it was with utter confidence that I once again visited Shanghai's electronics and computer mecca, Xujiahui.

I've been to Xujahui's digital paradise a few times before but not solely to walk around and window shop. It was a Sunday and I wanted to relax am…

Lettering Comic Books using CorelDraw Part 2

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Now that you have your callout or thought balloon, you can start positioning and adding the text.

1. Using the Pick Tool, move and resize your Callout shape to position it on on top of the comic book panel. If you used the Callout Shape Tool to create your balloon, use the Shape tool to adjust the node and point the callout to the speaker.



2. Before adding the text, choose your font carefully. Using standard computer fonts like Arial, Verdana, or Times New Roman make for an uninteresting visual, so use a font that looks natural. Traditional Marvel Comics were hand-lettered and European/manga books were lettered using a calligraphy brush. Adobe and Corel products provide plenty of fonts, but I prefer getting an original (and open source font) from Google Web Fonts . I recommend using fonts that have a "handwritten" look. Use Google Web fonts' filters to find the perfect font for your project.



Lettering Comic Books using CorelDraw Part 1

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Category: Techtoday

In my article about translating comic books, I gave an overview on the steps to translate a foreign-language comic book. In this tutorial, we'll take a look at replacing the text on a comic book panel with your newly written translation. Although this can be done in any graphics editor, we'll be using a vector application instead, which creates more precise shapes and provides better text handing than bitmap applications like Adobe Photoshop. As in the previous article, we'll be working on a panel from the Italian comic book, Corto Maltese: Il Segreto di Tristan Bantam (Corto Maltese: The Secret of Tristan Bantam).

1. Preparing your scanned comic book/graphic novel page is a lengthy discussion involving file formats and resolution. This is discussed in many tutorials involving Adobe Photoshop and graphic editing. The important thing to remember is that the comic book will ev…

QuickFix: Use your Sony Reader PRS as a card reader (Linux)

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Category: Linux

The old Sony PRS-600 has a Sony Pro Memory Duo slot and works with an M2 adapter if needed. Although it was expensive at the time it was released, the Sony Reader also came with an SD card slot (which is now standard on the latest model, PRS2THBC). Using any Linux distribution, a user can quickly use their Sony Reader as a card reader for either media if they find themselves without an SD or Sony Memory card reader handy. Most laptops and desktops are equipped with a memory card slot and USB memory card readers are dirt cheap, but users can actually access both internal memory and card storage through a Linux file manager just by plugging the Sony Reader to a USB port.

The screenshots below show PCMANFM in Lubuntu accessing the contents of an M2 Duo and SD card. Unlike Windows, which would require an application like Calibre to access memory cards in a mass storage device, no software packages are necessary to browse either media.




Unemployed? Try Technical Support (Wait! Hear me out!)

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Category: TechtodayThe words "technical support" elicits the same response as the words Richard Nixon, recession, and Windows Vista. Criticisms against technical support, whether commercial or internal (within a company), is not often fair, but almost always true. Having spent a huge amount of time early in my career providing technical support for a variety of consumer electronics, computers, and operating systems (including Windows 98SE and Samsung's first line of Digimax cameras), I would rather go swimming in Siberia then make a phone call to tech support.To be fair, however, I found my years manning the lines infinitely educational despite the psychological scars inflicted by calls from hippies who don't know how to use a touchpad and old ladies who believe their e-mail is being hacked because her neighbor knows the latest gossip on her. Without the experience suppo…

Access Blogger.com in China

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Category: TechwriterBesides looking for an affordable spoon and fork set, one of the more obvious difficulties with living in Shanghai is accessing Blogger.com. Without access to Blogger and my blog, Unsolicited But Offered, all my posts have been sent via e-mail the last few months.Typing http://www.blogger.com and my blog url http://unsolicitedbutoffered.blogspot.com still triggers a "Connection reset by peer." Thankfully, however, I've been able to access my Blogger account in the last four days using a fairly basic redirection method that previously did not work. Now I can manage my account (and check my statistics) and view my blog.To access your Blogger account in China:Go to Google.com.hk. Typing www.google.com will default to the Hong Kong site.Log in to your Google account by clicking on the Sign in link on the upper-right hand corner. Use the Google account that …

Attempting to draw with a Bamboo Wacom and Corel Painter 12 Part 3

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Category: Techtoday

The Bamboo Wacom Experience

I'm still at Chapter 4 of Digital Painting Fundamentals, somewhat distracted by drawing that Ditko-style sketch of Spidey I started. As I worked on the web-spinner's webbing, I remembered just how much I appreciated the Wacom despite my inability to draw.


Spidey should always be drawn upside down. Sketch by author.

Revelations about the Bamboo Wacom

There are, however, a few things I wish I knew before I purchased a Bamboo Wacom a year ago. Moreover, there are some things I only found out while I was using the input device with Corel Painter. Here's a quick list:

1. Wacom products aren't cheap.  Unless you really plan to use it, don't buy one just because you suddenly woke up one day and decided you'll be working as a background artist for Pixar or becoming a regular penciller on Marvel's The Avengers. Try someone else's Wacom and find out …

Buying an iPad 2 cover using 360Buy.com (China)

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Category: TechtodayI've been using the improvised iPad stand (which I wrote about in a previous entry) for the last few months, but then I realized I'd be traveling with my iPad 2 really soon and needed a way to protect its admittedly handsome chassis. Even with a screen protector, an iPad 2 is nowhere near as tough as the steel-covered Sony PRS-600 I had been using for years. So I shopped around on foot in some of the more popular tech places in Shanghai.Prices, Quality, and BrandI wanted complete protection for my iPad 2 and a case that didn't make me look like a geek with a man-purse (and still surreptitiously read Marvel Team-Up circa 1970s on the train). I visited a few Apple resellers and out of sheer curiosity checked out the prices over at the Apple Store in Pudong (I nearly coughed up a lung when I saw the price tag). In general, the price of a quality iPad 2 binder/stand co…

QuickFix Basics: Can my Linux distribution manage my iPad or iPod Touch?

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Category: Techtoday

Linux distributions like Lubuntu and openSUSE can access the file system of an iPad or iPod Touch. You won't even need to install any additional package to directly access the file system although there are software packages in Linux for managing your iPad/iPod Touch media. Take note, however, that most Linux utilities are not on par with the functionality of iTunes in terms of accessing Apple's ecosystem.

Once you connect your Apple device into your USB port, Ubuntu or openSUSE will automatically run your file manager. The screenshot below displays my iPod Touch's file system using PCMANFM, Lubuntu's default file manager.



Your file manager will mount two storage locations. The first one is for your iPod's core file structure while the second storage is for your installed apps. Accessing Apple's underpinnings is no picnic and obviously, users are discouraged from fool…

Enter: Microsoft Surface Ads and Microsoft.com

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Category: Techtoday

With recent news indicating Microsoft profits are down, it may seem like Microsoft is once again taking a beating ahead of its Windows 8 launch. However, I took a gander at Microsoft.com's revamped interface and watched the new advertisements for the Microsoft Surface tablet. Overall, I was impressed and stoked for Bill Gates' little company.For one, the home page for Microsoft is clean and simple and getting to the Surface product specs is straightforward. For all the criticisms leveraged against the new Microsoft logo, I thought it looked all right when framed in a white background. Second, the advertisements for Microsoft's new product actually had the option for users to view it in .wmv, which is definitely a change of pace from being forced to install Microsoft Silverlight. This is especially relevant for devoted Linux users like me who use openSUSE o…

Pairing and Adding Bluetooth Devices in Windows 8 Part 2

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Bluetooth Device Control and the Windows 8 Start ScreenOnce you've paired a device successfully, the Bluetooth device is automatically added to your Windows 8 Start screen as a tile. In the screenshot below, my Brian iPod Touch and my Grey63 Nokia E63 were added to the Start screen. Obviously, you can remove them by right-clicking on the tile.

Each Bluetooth device added to Windows 8 has its own Bluetooth Device Control settings which is accessed by double-clicking on the tile. The Nokia E63 Device Control had more settings compared to the iPod Touch. Microsoft added some pretty good improvements to Bluetooth Device Control. The Phone Operations for my Nokia E63 pair allowed me to connect to the Internet, backup my contacts and calendar, and transfer files. There's also an option to play audio directly from the phone.

Through the iPod Touch's Bluetooth Device Control settings, I was quic…