Showing posts from February, 2013

Considerations for an Apple and Samsung Smart Watch Part II

Category: TechtodayContinued fromConsiderations for an Apple and Samsung Smart Watch Part 17.Secure payments, passkeys, access.Implementing mobile payments, logins, and passkeys are the strongest argument for watch computing, but the technology has been around for awhile and although people commute withOctopuscards (Hong Kong), RFID chips, and EZCards (Shanghai) on a daily basis, there are still places which still use printed out tickets (tourist spots for instance). Moreover, there have been promises for digital on-the-go payments that would replace credit cards for years but somehow it hasn't taken off. WithMicrosoft, Sony, LinkedIn,Facebook, andApplegetting security breaches recently, do we really want to depend on a device on your wrist for security and payments? I don't crack security systems as a hobby, but anyone with a search engine can find p…

Considerations for an Apple and Samsung Smart Watch Part 1

Category: Techtoday

With rumblings of watch computing just around the corner, what possible benefits can another computing device/accessory have for the consumer? Although I'm perfectly happy with the current mobile devices available on the market, I have to admit it's an intriguing albeit superfluous product to release these days.

1. Addressing a need. As far back as 2002, I already knew I wanted a tablet. Even before the first generation Amazon Kindle and the debut of the original iPad, I knew I would someday own a device that will allow me to read years of notes, magazines, clippings, ebooks, and comic books I scanned and archived over the years. Industry "experts" originally dismissed tablets as just consumption devices with no real use. Who would have thought apps and wireless broadband Internet would make tablets the must-have device on everyone's birthday and Christmas list? The tablet…

CorelDraw Basics: Exporting to SVG for HTML5 web pages

Category: TechwriterThere are advantages to using SVG over the more popular PNG or JPEG when working with technical documents online. SVG retains the clarity of the original drawing and can be inserted easily into an HTML5-compliant web page. CorelDraw (my preferred vector-editing program) has long been able to export to SVG. This brief tutorial will focus on exporting a simple CorelDraw technical diagram to SVG and inserting the code using the svg tag.To export a drawing to SVG in CorelDraw X3:1. Select a grouped drawing using the Pick Tool. The example below is a vector drawn MP3 player with callouts.*Illustration drawn and designed by the author.2. Click File then Export.

3. In the Save as type: list, select SVG-Scalable Vector Graphics4. Select the Selected only check box. Click Export.

5. In the SVG Export window, CorelDraw will have an Issue tab to inform you of any problems exporting…

Tips on Writing a Manual or Guide using LyX Part 2

Category: Techwriter

Continued from the article "Tips on Writing a Manual or Guide using LyX Part 1"

9. Use the Outline pane
Using the Outline panel is especially important if you're exporting to PDF. Use the provided controls on the Outline pane to adjust the hierarchy of the document parts and get an idea if you've used the wrong Environment for a particular section of text. There are buttons to increase/decrease nesting depth and/or moving text sections. Pressing the "Move selected item by one" moves not only the text entry in the Table of Contents but the corresponding text block in the LyX document. In the screenshot below, the left window is LyX's Outline pane and the right is the output PDF contents.

10. Use your system's character map utility
If you're working with a document written in a foreign language, use your operating system's character input system. LyX will accept the …

QuickFix: Transmission or Deluge (in China)?

Category: Linux

Torrent downloading has more to do with the quality of the peers and trackers and your own broadband speed than the torrent application itself. Even optimized settings in uTorrent can't overcome dodgy broadband services. However, recent experience overseas has made me realize that some clients inexplicably perform better in different parts of the world.

Always set up Deluge properly if you're downloading torrents while overseas

I've been using Deluge in openSUSE for the last few years (along with Transmission in my Debian-based machines). I've had better luck with Deluge in Linux over KTorrent (KDE's native bit torrent client) or a browser-based torrent client such as Opera or a Firefox/Google Chrome extension. Deluge performed as well as Transmission in locations with fast broadband (Nova Scotia and Buffalo) or average Internet speed (Manila and Bangkok). In Shanghai, China,…

Tips on Writing a Manual or Guide using LyX Part 1

Category: Techwriter

Writing a document using LyX can be a frustrating experience if you're accustomed to a traditional word processor like Abiword, Microsoft Word, or LibreOffice Write. However, there's a lot to like about using the WYSIWYM LyX. As mentioned in a previous blogpost about using CherryTree for quickly writing online manuals, there are many ways to write a structured document without having to use markup such as Docbook or XML. As much as I like HTML5, Docbook, and DITA, I must admit it's a bit too much if you're going to write a manual that won't have reusable sections, won't access extensible data, or won't be repurposed for different mediums. For technical writers who are currently using WYSIWYG page layout applications like Adobe PageMaker, Adobe InDesign, or even Microsoft Publisher and CorelDraw, there's a definite advantage to using LyX's approach. For one…

QuickFix: Eject a USB storage device even with iTunes running

In Windows 7 and Windows 8, you may find out that you can't disconnect your external USB storage device if you have iTunes running. This is especially true if you used iTunes to manually upload files such as videos or ebooks into an app such as Cloudreader, Adobe Reader, or iMedia Player.

To disconnect an external drive while iTunes is running:

1. If you're done using your external USB hard drive or flash drive with iTunes, run Task Manager by clicking CTRL+ALT+DELETE and selecting Start Task Manager.
2. Click the Processes tab.
3. Select AppleMobileDeviceHelper.exe *32

4. Click End Process.
5. Click the notification tray and remove connected storage drive like normal.

The steps won't work if another application linked to your storage, such as a torrent utility, is still running.

Virtual Relationships and Social Networking

I was busily washing dishes while listening to BBC's Daily Commute on my iPod a few days ago when Dan Damon's next segment consisted of an interview with Sophie, a Brit who has been providing virtual girlfriend services in Facebook for 2 years now. She candidly admitted she did it for the money, downplaying the activities of being a pseudo-girlfriend in Facebook by flirting online, posting pictures, and changing her status. Now, this is nothing new considering that I live in Shanghai, where young professionals rent boyfriends and girlfriends during the Chinese New Year to avoid parental pressures. Moreover, movies and TV shows in Asia have long made use of the fake online boyfriend/girlfriend plot to charm lonely and online addicted audiences.  

With all due respect to people who use or provide services similar to this on Craigslist, Twitter, and the aforementioned Facebook, please go out and mix it up rat…

QuickFix: Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 6000

Computer Mice are generally resilient devices even if you regularly toss them carelessly into your laptop bag or use in multiple settings. I've had poor luck with Logitech mice, but have had a long-running relationship with my Microsoft Wireless Notebook Optical Mouse 3000, which I purchased in Best Buy back in 2008 for my Linux-powered laptops.

More recently, however, the tracking "red" laser light doesn't power on when I plug the receiver into an available USB port in my Windows 7 machine and the mouse didn't work. In contrast, there didn't seem to be any functionality issues when the mouse is plugged in to my Lubuntu-powered EEEPC 1000H or openSUSEIdeapad. Microsoft actually provides an updated driver through its Windows Online Update for all their wireless mice. The update doesn't really resolve this issue but a quick press of a button can get your tired wireless mouse up a…

BYOD, network security, James Bond, and MacGyver

Category: Techtoday

The pre-Daniel Craig James Bond was the ultimate BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) guy with his rocket cigarettes (You Only Live Twice) and fully-equipped shoe heel (Goldfinger). Today, the typical Android or iOS phone a young professional straight out of college owns has more power and capabilities than Pierce Brosnan's Ericsson phone in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997).

Back when I first joined the workforce, the idea of "Bringing Your Own Device" was not only unheard of, but restricted and discouraged by company policy. My idea of subterfuge consisted of bringing my own screwdriver and pen flashlight. When I finally achieved some sort of authority within the company, I graduated to a pathetic 256MBSamsung Yepp MP3 player that doubled as a USB Flash drive and my Swiss Army Knife (which I ended up leaving home post-911). Later responsibilities as a trainer and instructor in various c…

Linux on Video: "The Linux Action Show!"

Category: Linux

One thing that surprises non-Linux users is the number of Linux websites, videos, and multimedia available online apart from the Linux communities devoted to a particular Linux distributions (for example, the openSUSE community). Some of the recent ones that have surfaced regularly on Bing and Google are Linux User, OMGUbuntu, and Phoronix. Even casual sites like Lifehacker and Makeuseof, though dealing with less technical and fairly pedestrian topics, contribute to the Linux ecosystem existing online.

"The Linux Action Show!" from Jupiter Broadcasting is a long running streaming video talk show devoted to topics related to Linux and even touches on current mainstream technology. The show is currently helmed by bubbly industry professional Chris Fisher and Linux veteran Matt Hartley. The show is very friendly to new Linux users though it does vacillate between heav…

Linux on Film: Criminal Minds - Season 8

Category: Linux

From the onset, Criminal Minds often displayed brief views of non-Windows operating systems. Thankfully, their resident "computer analyst" Penelope (played by pseudo-geek Kirsten Vangsness) makes use of a fairly interesting desktop. For Season 8, viewers get to watch a skinned Linux/FreeBSD desktop access a remote desktop running Windows XP (recognizable by its default blue Luna theme).

The desktop used by Penelope is a toss up between an Xfce 3.x environment release or a uniquely skinned LXDE using an Openbox Window Manager. Modifying Xfce and customizing Openbox is so easy, the production team regularly switches the colors or maintains a plain black background. Surprisingly, there's even a possibility it's a KDE desktop with a "cashew" on the upper-right hand corner for adding KDE widgets.

Brief Thoughts on Fedora 18 DVD install and Gnome 3.6

Category: Linux
Fedora 18 DVD installation The installation process of most Linux distributions is refined and as simple as can be for the majority of Linux users (unless you were setting up Archlinux, Debian, or Gentoo from scratch). Fedora 18, once viewed as an unstable and ungainly distribution for the casual desktop user, has now progressed to a very friendly system and you can easily get this impression from running the DVD install. There were a few changes to the Fedora 18 DVD setup process that are clearly visible from the get-go (I'm sure the developers worked hard under the hood to make this possible). Setup is faster than ever with judicious setup options offered during the DVD install.  The process has received a few scathing reviews from the Linux community, but I personally didn't find anything wrong with the new approach.
Software Selection page

One of the Fedora 18 setup screens which I was extremely pleased …

QuickFix: Write a Multi-Language Online manual using CherryTree

Category: LinuxThere are dozens of ways to write technical documents for print and web. TheFedora DevelopersuseMediaWiki,Publican, andDocbook. TheopenSUSE team uses the software packageDaps (which uses different XML tools to produce PDF and XHTML). Serious technical writers use a combination of HTML5, XHTML, XML, Docbook, and DITA using an XML editor, IDE, or plain text editor. Meanwhile, some companies still use WYSIWYG applications like old-schoolAdobe productssuch asRoboHelp,InDesign, andFrameMaker. In short, there really is no one way of getting a document out into the world, technical or otherwise. Moreover, it's definitely easier with hundreds of open source applications such asBluefish,Kate,LyX, andXML Copy Editoravailable for Linux. All you need is to choose one method and one application and you're good to go.CherryTreeis a hierarchical note-taking Linux application that can exp…

SkyDrive on Fedora 18 Gnome 3.x

Category: Linux Accessing SkyDrive using Google Chrome on a Fedora 18 box is odd enough but native support for Microsoft's popular online storage service was a surprise when I saw it in the Fedora 18 release announcement. Admittedly, I'm a regular user of SkyDrive on my Windows 7 machines, so I was curious how good the support would be. As it turned out, all you need to do to setup the service was go through the Online Accounts option in System Settings in Gnome 3.x and just fill out your Outlook or Hotmail account. Curiously enough, the account appears as Windows Live even though Microsoft has long dispensed with the name and switched to the product names Outlook and SkyDrive. There's currently very little documentation on accessing SkyDrive from Gnome and with good reason. Just launch the Documents application (not the Documents folde…