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Showing posts from June, 2013

Working with WMF in CorelDraw

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Category: Tech writer For those who are planning to migrate toCorelproducts but are concerned about file formats,CorelDrawefficiently works with older and less-supported file types such asWMF. Tip WMFis an older image format originally designed forMicrosoft OfficeandWindows. InCorelDraw, working withWMF is similar to working with any other imported bitmap or vector file. Using theImport…command from theFilemenu, you can position anWMFimage in an empty document. In most cases, WMFs are too large for the Document Page. Use thePick Tooland theSHIFTkey to resize the image using the control handles.

To remove unwanted portions of theWMF, right-click the image and clickUngroup All. Use thePick tool

Tails of Tor: Linux Access to the Dark Side of the Internet Part ‏3

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Category: Linux


Continued fromTails of Tor: Linux Access to the Dark Side of the Internet Part ‏2
A Complete Linux Distribution
I'm a huge fan of Debian and Debian 6.0.7 on Tails was impressive. Some of the features I really liked about Tails:

1. Classic Gnome baby! If you're being chased after by Storm Troopers, why spend time fiddling around Unity or admiring Cinnamon? This is Gnome as it should be - clean, well-organized and rock-solid.

2. Power off. Yes, we Linux users just open Terminal just to power off our system but when you're James Bond and a horribly ugly Russian is after you, you need a quick getaway. The Tails desktop has a power button on the top panel and one in the System Administration menu. Windows+I in Windows 8 is nice and all that but you don't want to get shot by those dastardly reds while trying to remember the shortcut key. . .



3.Great documentation always brings a tear to my eye.…

Tails of Tor: Linux Access to the Dark Side of the Internet Part 2

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Category: Tech Today

Good Practice
If you're going to undertake a Mission Impossible (1994) expedition of visiting someone's work terminal after hours and you want to leave no trace whatsoever of your online activities, then Tails should definitely be your LiveUSB of choice. Before getting into your unitard and practicing your creepy Tom Cruise grin while hanging upside down with your LiveUSB however, take note of the following:
1. On boot, click More Options and assign a Root password. If you skip this step, you will be unable to run any administrative tasks such as running Synaptic Package Manager and accessing restricted partitions.






2. To set up a persistent volume for your Tails LiveUSB, use the Tails USB Installer. I used UNetbootin to create my Tails LiveUSB so I couldn't create a persistent volume for my installed applications and configurations until I created another …

The Dubious Art of the Username

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Category: Tech Today

The X-Men books in the 70s (when they were still awesome and made sense not like the garbage Marvel is publishing today), had tons of awesome superhero names. Back in the 80s, each G.I. Joe member had a cool, pithy "codename" (my favorites were Barbecue,  Captain Grid Iron and Quick Kick). In the 1990s, I flew along with other Wing Commander (circa 1990) pilots with impressive "callsigns" like Paladin, Spirit and Angel. 


The Masters of the Universe were so awesome they didn't need any callsigns or codenames. Screenshot of the Sorceress, He-Man, Teela, Buzz-Off and Mekaneck from the mini comic He-Man and the Insect People (published circa 1985).

In this day and age of free web services and multiple logins, everyone gets to have their own "codename/callsign/pen name/superhero name" and multiple ones at that. My cooler older brother took up the name Quicksi…

Tails of Tor: Linux Access to the Dark Side Part 1

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Category: Linux

Note: Yes, the title of this article is an indirect reference to Roy Thomas' classic Conan comic books from the 70s.

There are many online discussions regarding the Tor project, some of them exploring the questionable use of the "Dark Side of the Internet". With everyone (including the Linux Action Show hosts) suggesting ways to protect a user's online activities in light of NSA's behavior towards privacy, is Linux's amnesiac distribution aka Tails a recommended workaround?


I won't even try to be controversial. I just wanted to check if I can maintain my Blogger.com account using Tails while living in Shanghai (followers of Unsolicitedbutoffered will notice I pulled a poorly written Opera review). The Tor project and the Tails website are blocked in mainland China, but a recent trip to Hong Kong gave me the opportunity to download the torrent file and get my hands on the slim 861MB ISO for the amnesiac distribution.

What you get with Tails…

Linux on Film: Dredd (2012)

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Category: Linux

One of the elements that made the original RoboCop (1987) so good was seeing Alex Murphy deal out some major butt-kicking in spite of the losing battle he was facing against the city, politicians and his makers. And Dredd (2012) serves this very experience ala carte. I don't think the reboot of Robocop can come close to the sheer audacity of Dredd. Dredd is a straightforward no-nonsense cop-thriller set in the future. Judge Dredd is presented as he should be - a dedicated, incorruptible cop with a powerful firearm.




Linux/Unix once again makes a cameo appearance in the form of Peach Trees online maintenance system that controls the web cameras, elevators, blast doors and PA systems. The formulaic technical administrator (sigh, another one) working for the bad guys comes in the form of a wiry, albino kid who gets his belly button threatened by Ma Ma (played by Lena Headey). The windows he open…

Apps for Hong Kong Part 3

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Category: Tech Today
Continued from Apps for Hong Kong Part 2 South China Morning Post
I subscribed to the South China Morning Post using iOS' Newsstand during a business trip to Taipei but wasn't able to use it in Shanghai for obvious reasons. Sure, Hong Kong has open access to the Internet and various news sources, but South China Morning Post can give you a detailed overview of events happening in the city and China as well without any cuts or censors messing with the content.




The free SCMP subscription is actually pretty complete with columns on opinion, current events and world news. Layout isn't as straightforward as Flipboard but really mimics a newspaper where you shuffle around parts of the publication. If you're really interested in understanding Hong Kong, then this English digital newspaper is a must. I was actually grabbing a quick breakfast in Tsim Sha Tsui when news broke …

Thoughts on "Booth Babes" Part 2

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Category: Tech Today

Continued from Thoughts on "Booth Babes" Part 1


A lot of the media sites make noise about "booth babes" in electronic shows just to get hits and attract readers, but industry insiders and the manufacturers themselves just see it as another day at the office. In some cases, companies that presented products with beautiful young Asian models don't return the following year, unable to keep up with the movement of the consumer electronics industry.




And the "booth babes"? They move on to their next modeling job, continue their studies, take up a new career, or join a beauty pageant. In many ways, they are the same as cosplayers of Makoto Kusanagi or Black Widow in the San Diego Comic Con. The only difference is that they get well-paid by the hour (the number of technical documents I write doesn't pay nearly as much as they do in the first 2 hours they smile at the cameras). Onc…

Apps for Hong Kong Part 2

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Continued from Apps for Hong Kong Part 1
Ulmon Hong Kong
City maps are a double-edged sword if you've never visited a locale before. Unless you're really good at using maps while walking, digital maps on your smartphone and tablet can be distracting and can detract much from enjoying a city. You don't need Indiana Jones' sense of direction to actually get around Hong Kong. Just taking the time out before your trip to figure out which bus stops or MTR stations you're going to use is always a good idea. Any basic map, even the kitschy maps you can get at the airport or at your hotel can get you around fine.




However, if you are that frightened of getting lost in "big bad" Hong Kong, then install the well-reviewed Ulmon Hong Kong maps and guide. I didn't use the map very often since it didn't really include the places I wanted to visit, but they're great if it'…

Thoughts on "Booth Babes" Part 1

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Category: Tech Today

I'm not sure what the hullabaloo is about "sexism" in electronic shows. Fifteen minutes of TV shows like Game of Thrones or Pretty Little Liars and Kate Upton commercials have enough lovely ladies in questionable situations as it is. And no one really complains about auto shows with leggy models splayed over a convertible. There are just too many billboards, TV shows, web sites, and forms of media that advertise and promote using attractive women to be judgmental about electronic shows with young ladies holding a tablet or laptop. 
Manufacturers hire the so-called "booth babes" to attract visitors and consumers. For those who have never visited an electronics show, it's not free unless you're part of the staff of one of the companies. It's nothing special in the sense that electronic shows do not occur as often as auto shows, a new alcohol…

Apps for Hong Kong Part 1

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Category: Tech Today

I recently revisited old haunts in Hong Kong and a few of the well-known tourist traps in Kowloon just for the hell of it. I was saddened by how visitors were so dependent on wireless access and apps. At the Peak, a few Europeans were more concerned about the lack of free and fast Wi-Fi than the brilliant view. In Nathan Road, Americans were walking head down, scrutinizing Google Maps or some crappy app and ignoring the colorful experience of "The Golden Mile" of Hong Kong.

It's sad that a data plan, GPS and travel apps are now "indispensable" for visiting countries. Rather than learning a few words in Cantonese and brandishing an obtuse map that refuses to fold properly, the visitor now leans heavily on colorful apps that just link to Wikipedia (groan!) and aren't nearly as useful as a good book on history (try Austin Coates' grossly biased but highly entertain…

Docbook and EPUB Part 2

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Category: Techwriter

Continued from Docbook and EPUB Part 1
Compressing and Renaming
EPUB is nothing more than a zipped file with the file extension changed to EPUB. The XSLT stylesheet creates the META-INF and OEBPS folders and the necessary toc, XHTML, and content.opf files, but it won't compress the files automatically into a zip. However, there are advantages to manually zipping the files, such as making sure all the images are in the OEBPS folder and adding a mimetype.

To zip the necessary files into an EPUB in KDE:

1. Select the META-INF, OEBPS folders and the mimetype file. Do not include the original Docbook .xml file.
2. Right-click and click Compress. Click As ZIP Archive.
3. To rename the file, right-click, then select Rename... Input an ebook name with an .epub file extension.




Editing in Sigil
It's always a good idea to validate and test the EPUB using a variety of devices and another EPUB application. The deve…

Docbook and EPUB Part 1

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Category: Techwriter

For would-be Docbook writers and veteran Docbook users who are interested in using EPUB rather than PDF as their final output, the XSL stylesheets provided by the Docbook team can be downloaded from Sourceforge and provides a pretty good output for use with ebook readers. Used in conjunction with Sigil, you can easily create exceptional and well-supported EPUBs for a variety of devices.




This brief tutorial reviews the basics of creating an EPUB from Docbook XML using the stylesheets and examine the markup/ebook using popular EPUB editor, Sigil. This 2-part article includes the following:

1. Docbook Setup
2. XSLTPROC
3. EPUB Images
4. Mimetype
5. Compressing and renaming
6. Editing in Sigil
7. Testing in Okular, Calibre, EPUBReader for Mozilla Firefox

Docbook Setup
OpenSUSE and Fedora users may already have the basic packages for working with Docbook including xsltproc, Docbook5, and fo. Alth…

Dragonair Airlines - Tech and Impressions

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Category: Techtoday

Dragonair is the budget airline affiliate of Cathay Pacific, one of the best Asian carriers out there. Unlike the excellent CX, however, Dragonair's Airbus planes are smaller and less equipped. There are no fancy entertainment systems and freely available iPads on board. In my flight from Shanghai to Hong Kong, they didn't even one of those 80s front panels where you'd have to stretch your neck to see the leggy leading ladies in the latest Hollywood flick. No touch screen monitors or foldable screens. No in-flight wireless. My assessment of my flight? Just about perfect.

The Luxuries
I don't know why people yak on about wireless on a flight - it's one of the few moments during a vacation you can just disconnect and be free from the Internet's incessant notifications and iOS prompts to update apps. Yeah, I worked on a blog article, an XML and a Docbook document at the airport a…