Showing posts from April, 2013

The Digital Man: Sherlock (2010) Part 1

Category: Techtoday

Note: SPOILERS abound - please proceed at your own risk.
All screen captures from Sherlock (2010) DVD

I was teaching technical support to a class back in 2006 and I asked my trainees if any of them had ever read a Sherlock Holmes story. Sadly, none of them did (though I'm pretty sure they came out in droves when Robert Downey Jr. appeared in Guy Ritchie's rendition of the London detective). With Benedict Cumberbatch's 6-episode turn as the immortal sleuth, no one has an acceptable reason for skipping Holmes' adventures especially since this sexier and less amiable version is clearly living in the digital age.

It's a very realistic depiction of how an intelligent man with average (by today's standards) technical abilities uses computers and devices efficiently. Unlike most people, who use sites such as Google and Wikipedia as a crutch to reason, defend, make decisions, or just p…

Testing hardware compatibility with Knoppix featuring the ASUS U80A

Category: Linux

As a Linux user, I'm always on the lookout for sturdy laptops that can be "recycled" by installing a Linux distribution on them. Considering how wasteful some users are when it comes to their electronics, and with laptops being tossed aside for ultrabooks and tablets, now is the best time to find old laptops for use for students and kids who can't afford a laptop but want to learn Linux, computers, and networking. People with disposable income and the privileged can be extremely cruel to their old laptops and netbooks, treating them haughtily and with disdain after the machine's years of service.

I pounced on an old ASUS U80A that an acquaintance was going to dispose of after deciding he "needed" a Macbook Pro. The U80A was old but serviceable with a competent T5900 2.20 GHz Core 2 Duo processor and 4GB of RAM. In fact, it was a bit too powerful to be demoted from a business machine to a student's laptop, but I could definitely see a …

Taipei's Taoyuan Aiport is Wi-Fi Linux friendly!

Category: Linux

It may seem odd to note that a specific place or country's Wi-Fi is Linux friendly, but I've had issues connecting to some public Wi-Fi services in other countries using my Linux machines. In Kuala Lumpur International (KLIA) for instance, I had to visit the KDE Terminal to manually connect to the main login page for the free wireless service. In most cases, you should be able to connect without having to manually setup iwconfig with KDE's Network Manager just working on the sport. Most public Wi-Fi, however, is tested for iOS, Android, Windows, and MacOSX but not Linux so I take note of places where accessing the wireless signal can be troublesome or may require additional steps for the Linux user. Take note, however, the hardware (in this case my Toshiba NB520) and your Linux distribution (in this scenario openSUSE 12.2) takes a hand in how easily you can connect and how good your performance is.

The Taoyuan Airport Terminal 2 free wireless service is set…

BBC News and Flipboard App for iOS

Category: Tech Today

I'm not an App whore. I get hives if I go past three pages worth of apps on my iPod Touch (Yeah, yeah even that Japanese guy next to me on my flight was wondering why I didn't have an iPhone yet). I'm happy with my 6 free dictionaries, 2 document readers, video player, Opera browser, and the occasional map and city guide when I go on a business trip. Besides, I'm perfectly happy accessing news and doing serious work on my Linux portables. However, on a business trip to Taipei, I took advantage of the free wireless all over the city and at the company and installed BBC News and Flipboard and I must say I was thoroughly impressed.

The BBC News app is an example of excellent design with easy to navigate articles, scalable videos, and well-written HTML5 code. It was just a great experience overall even on my 2nd generation iPod Touch. The images rendered fast and videos streamed well even on a messy LAN setup. Now, most readers are probably thinking it…

Cannot export to PDF using Adobe InDesign (MacOSX) Part 2

Category: Techwriter

Continued from Cannot export to PDF using Adobe InDesign (MacOSX) Part 2
InDesign crashing midway through exporting to PDF Even without the "Out of memory" error message, a failed exporting process could also be caused by memory issues. There are other reasons why this occurs, however, such as the following:

1. A corrupted JPEG file - Personally, I would never use JPEG with InDesign. The quality is bad enough even before you compress the image a second time to PDF. Use TIFF, a vector format like SVG or EPS, Photoshop's native file format, or even PNG rather than a JPEG file. If you don't have the luxury of using the other file formats, than convert the JPEG to a more usable file format using Photoshop (though this is a last resort). JPEGs, to its credit, is a fairly resilient file format despite its poor quality and even a corrupted JPEG file can be made usable if processed using the right software (I've had luck with Corel Photo-Paint and Lin…

Cannot export to PDF using Adobe InDesign (MacOSX) Part 1

Category: Techwriter

If you're saddled with an OSX workstation, whether it's a Mac Pro with a Dual-Core Intel Xeon 2.66 GHz processor or one of the sexier new Macs Apple released recently, an earlier version of Adobe InDesign may experience issues exporting to PDF. The common symptoms are:

1. InDesign shutting down midway through exporting to PDF
2. An unusable 0KB PDF
3. An "Out of memory" error message
4. InDesign displaying an error message regarding an EPS or color profile

This issue is commonly caused by the following:

1. A poorly maintained MacOSX system
2. Conflicting Adobe libraries (such as when more than one version of an Adobe application is installed)
3. Memory management or RAM issues (which contrary to Apple cult members occurs more often than you might think)
4. EPS or JPEG image

The newer versions of MacOSX require less maintenance than the older releases especially in relation to workstations installed with Adobe products. However, a MacOSX system th…

Review: Toshiba NB520 netbook featuring openSUSE 12.2 Part 2

Continued from Review: Toshiba NB520 netbook featuring openSUSE 12.2 Part 1

Category: openSUSE

Startup and shutdown speed I'm not a huge fan of benchmarks since individual user configuration plays a lot in how a system boots up especially when you're running a system as malleable as Linux.

The first step users might want to be is do head off to the BIOS and switch to the Advanced tab. Select Fast from the options.  Changing that setting doesn't improve boot performance but it does remove the Toshiba logo that appears seconds after you press the power button. It's more of a psychological effect than anything else (it shaves off a second or two).  One of the disadvantages of using this setting, however, is it makes entering the BIOS again a tad difficult (just hold down the F2 button after you press the power button if you find boot up "too fast" to get to the BIOS).

If you configured Grub2 to the lowest timeout value (or you have a fast trigger finger), boot up…

Bringing Your Digital Portfolio to an Interview Part 2

Continued fromBringing Your Digital Portfolio to an Interview Part 1

3. Portable storage - So the interview is being held in a room without wireless access and you weren't allowed to bring in your Macbook Pro or your Google Nexus by the security guard who looks like he can arm wrestle Captain America. No sweat. Don't lug around your Seagate External Drive or Thunderbolt server just to show off your offline work (Due to security reasons, IT companies won't let it past their entrance anyway). Instead, bring a virus-free SD card or USB flash drive. I don't have to emphasis that your media needs to be formatted using FAT32 or else your interviewer's OSX or Windows might have problems accessing it. It may seem primitive bringing along an SD card or USB stick in this day or age but it's a great backup plan in case there's no other way to show off your work. Take note of file formats. Don't expect the interviewer to have the correct codec, Adobe software, or F…

Quick Review: Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500

Category: Techtoday

So I know what you're thinking. You're doing a review on a wireless mouse? A MICROSOFT Wireless mouse? What can I say? I've written about my love for wireless mice before, but with the popularity and ubiquity of touchscreens these days, I'm now more than ever appreciating the brilliance of a mouse. That said, I do have touchscreen devices and a Wacom tablet. However, 90% of my work on my Linux, MacOSX, and Windows boxes is done with a mouse.

I actually didn't need to buy a mouse until I ended up working with three workstations overseas. The last mouse I bought, a Microsoft Wireless Notebook Optical Mouse 3000 I picked up in Best Buy Buffalo four years ago, is still working fine and is still one of my favorite accessories. For all the negative publicity Microsoft gets, they make very good input accessories. From 1998-2004, I tried A4Tech, Logitech, and Genius USB and optical mice and they died after a year. The most resilient mouse I purchased pr…

Bringing Your Digital Portfolio to an Interview Part 1

Category: Techwriter

Unemployment is pretty high globally but if you even spend 15 minutes in the technical forums, you would realize that everyone is better than ever when it comes to coding, programming, designing, and creating web sites. Competition is incredibly tight. Software piracy has made sure that professional software is available to students, who admirably and arduously practice at an early age. Everything from professional Adobe products to expensive CAD software and server operating systems is available for the hard-working undergraduate willing to learn. Even would-be developers with no training are honing their skills designing apps for iOS, Android, and yes, even Windows.  Ebooks about programming, security, publishing, and web development are available everywhere and everyone is getting into the game. And don't get me started about Linux (Unsolicited deals mostly with Linux after all). Don't listen to the sour-graping IT professionals who say you have to lear…

10 Reasons to Love Lubuntu 12.10 Part 2

Category: Linux

Continued from 10 Reasons to Love Lubuntu 12.10 Part 1

6. Lightweight - Like most Linux distributions, your installed applications and how you maintain your system affect your performance more than your hardware. My poor man's older Core i3 and 6GB of RAM Lenovo Ideapad Z360 isn't a powerhouse system but with Lubuntu, the system boots up at a respectable speed and can convert audio (using Sound Converter), rip video (AcidRip DVD Ripper) and convert ebooks (using Calibre) like a champ. Unless I have to create illustrations using CorelDraw or Adobe Creative Suite (or run iTunes), I prefer staying on my Linux install rather than booting in to my admittedly long in the tooth Windows 7 (which hasn't seen a fresh reinstall in over a year). Although LXDE is advertised as a lightweight desktop environment, good maintenance and acceptable hardware can make Gnome 3, KDE4, and even Unity fly on your system - though I do prefer no-nonsense and no-frills LXDE over other …

Linux on Film: Antitrust (2001)

*All screencaps from Antitrust (2001)

Long-time Linux users are familiar with Antitrust (2001), which was strongly advertised as a movie that would inform the masses about open source and Linux. I'll leave that discussion to archived forums and avoid the open source and Linux politics that came with this movie. Suffice to say, I enjoyed this movie when I watched it in the cinema way back in 2001 and I highly recommend open-minded cinephiles to give it a shot - Linux background optional but recommended. Wikipedia and IMDB both provide excellent summaries of this flick along with a brilliant list of Linux-related trivia so I won't retread that path (click on the links if you want some juicy details about ex-Gnome developer Miguel de Icaza's cameo).

The film, which was actually made in 2000 and released in 2001, features two very attractive young actresses, both of whom have gained a career …