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Showing posts from July, 2013

Quick Fix: Can't pull up pages or slow loading in Flipboard? Try Taptu

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Category: Tech Today
Flipboard is a great platform for reading with its well-designed interface and access to a whole range of websites. One issue users may experience with Flipboard, however, is pages not loading fast enough (or in countries like China) won't load at all after you click an article.

A popular alternative is Taptu, a newsreader comparable to Flipboard in functionality and coverage. Although it lacks the visual aesthetics of Flipboard, Taptu aggregates articles fairly quickly and is able to display content (even from restricted sources) by pulling up minimal text and images - an advantage for readers who prefer just the essentials.




Note: In Shanghai, I found Taptu worked much better in pulling up content than Flipboard, though Flipboard was still usable and still worth installing on my iOS devices. Pulse, another popular iOS app for reading online artic…

Do you still use a LiveCD, LiveUSB or set up a Dual boot? Part 2

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Continued fromDo you still use a LiveCD, LiveUSB or set up a Dual boot? Part 2


Dual boot
Back in the day, there were users who strongly believed everyone should dual boot. My older brother used to install Windows 98SE and Windows 2000 back-to-back for various reasons. In the last six years, I preached dual-booting Linux to all Windows users who are scared to migrate completely to the latest Linux distribution.

These days, however, I hesitate to encourage having two operating systems at once. Having two OSs on the same machine (not through virtualization) may provide plenty of security in case one OS failed, but it could also have an odd impact on productivity and sometimes cause more trouble than its overall worth. 

The primary reason for dual booting with Windows before was to maintain access to Windows-only applications - which isn't a strong argument for dual-booting any longer. I&…

Do you still use a LiveCD, LiveUSB or set up a Dual boot? Part 1

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Category: Linux

The tech landscape has changed so much that both smartphones and tablets can manage Linux, Windows and MacOSX systems remotely. From Air Droid to very easy remote access, even the most devout supporter of LiveCDs, LiveUSBs and dual booting Linux systems will give pause. Apps these days are extremely powerful and I encourage students and users alike to try out great Android and iOS apps for managing their hardware.

For Linux users, the availability of fast wireless Internet, efficient network installs, rolling releases and Android renders some of the classic advantages of Linux LiveCDs and LiveUSBs somewhat irrelevant. Does it still make sense to burn a LiveCD, LiveUSB or set up a dual boot in machines?

Linux LiveCDs
Apple has dispensed with optical drives in most of their machines and most Apple users don't even have a Super Drive along with their Macbook Air.  Windows users may not be completely…

CorelDraw Basics: Drawing an App Advertisement in Perspective Part 2

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Category: Tech Writer

Continued from CorelDraw Basics: Drawing an App Advertisement in Perspective Part 1

Adding the App screenshot
To add a screenshot of an app or any piece of software to the tablet illustration, it is best to use a high-resolution image. A vector illustration is preferable to a bitmap screenshot, but a clear image still works in most cases.

1. Click File then Import... and select the image to be added to the vector tablet. This example uses a PNG screenshot of the SkyDrive user interface taken using Lightscreen.

2. Select the screenshot using the Pick Tool. On the Bitmaps menu, click 3D Effects then 3D Rotate...




3. In the 3D Rotate window, increase the Vertical (and Horizontal) values. Click the Preview button to view changes.

4. If needed, position the screenshot over the tablet drawing to check if the angle is appropriate.

5. Since using the 3D Rotate effect on a bitmap would add "white space&q…

CorelDraw Basics: Drawing an App Advertisement in Perspective Part 1

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Category: Tech Writer
A basic product/software illustration doesn't require high-end CAD tools or drafting skills to produce. CorelDraw's useful bitmap and vector effects can make quick work of challenges in making a compelling ad for a tablet or smartphone app.
Note: The CorelDraw version used in this article is CorelDraw X3.
In this example, a flat drawing of a generic tablet is used in combination with a screenshot of an app or web service like SkyDrive.
1. Draw a tablet using the Rectangle Tool. Using the Shape Tool, make rounded corners by clicking on the handles and dragging to change the angle.

2. Add a small circle in the center of the bezel to serve as a webcam.

3. Use the Contour docker to add an extra "window" in the rounded rectangle to represent the display. Adjust the weight of the lines by using the Outline Tool.

4. Using the Pick Tool, select all the o…

Web Service Review: Behance.net Part 2

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Category: Tech Writer

Continued from Web Service Review: Behance.net Part 1

Fresh graduates and non-working professionals shouldn't worry. They don't need to show off actual final designs and paid work - Behance is a platform to show that they know how to use today's tools. Even the choice of software really doesn't matter. Skills and creativity are visible even if the artwork was made using open-source software such as Gimp or Krita or more commercial suites from Corel or Adobe. Users don't need to compete with the amazing work posted in Behance or feel insecure about their work at all. Posting work in Behance is proof a user can work with illustration and design regardless of profession or industry.




Although I work mostly with words, I uploaded a few old vector projects I worked on that I'm actually allowed to publish. I don't expect anyone to view my portfolio, m…

In Memory of Bruce Lee

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I remember Time Magazine publishing a hack piece on Bruce Lee in a special about influential people around the world in 1996. I remember being severely annoyed by the author, Joel Steinn, who not only didn't understand Lee's legacy but insulted Asia at the same time. It was difficult to accept that the Time Magazine editors would allow such an unprofessional, poorly researched and politically incorrect piece to appear on print.
Mr. Lee is one of those rare celebrity icons who has grown more popular as the years go by. Unfortunately, the kids and people today who have only discovered Mr. Lee have a misplaced image of this fantastic iconoclast. In many ways, his true identity and ideas were severely marred by countless books, "students" and "acquaintances" who allegedly knew him and thought they understood his teachings.

It's easy for Westerners to gloss …

Web Service Review: Behance.net Part 1

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Category: Tech Writer
I'm no photographer and unlike most people with a DSLR, I don't associate the size of my camera (or the price of the camera) with photography skills. My idea of taking a good action photo is webbing the camera to a wall and setting the automatic timer while fighting bad guys . . . but I recently decided to scrape enough dollars to buy a better camera than my aged point-and-shoot Canon.

So there I was reading camera reviews over at non-photography sites and generic sites such as PCMag, CNET, and PCWorld. Now, I like a good technical discussion as much as the next guy but what I quickly noticed in the camera forums was everyone either had "camera-envy" or thought they were "The God of Photography 2013". My beloved Physics professor and my Philosophy of Aesthetics instructor would turn over in their graves if they found out so-called "photogra…

Repurposing PageMaker 6.5/7.x files Tip: Export to HTML

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Category: Tech Writer

Adobe products are as expensive as ever, particularly with Adobe's controversial new subscription pricing scheme being launched this year. To repurpose or reuse content from old .pmd PageMaker 7 or PageMaker 6.5 files, export the book or document as HTML.




PageMaker exports .pmd files to a fairly clean though older version of HTML markup. Once exported to HTML, reusing the text and moving images are much easier. There are many open source applications that can work and convert old markup of HTML to HTML5 or XML. In addition, there are many editors such as Bluefish, LyX and XML Copy Editor that can facilitate transition to XML, Docbook and even EPUB.




Note: Exporting to PDF using PageMaker is also a good option though extracting the data is a bit more work than with HTML.

Comic-Con in Spirit

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I totally wish I'm in California right now attending the San Diego Comic-Con. TV shows such as Sherlock (2011) and Game of Thrones make attending those chaotic events worth the plane ticket now more than ever. In the 80s, fans of comic books, manga/anime and popular media were a small and humble minority, who shyly admitted they had a trunk of He-Man (1983) action figures or ROM Spaceknight (1979) comic books only when asked. Now everyone is coming out of the woodwork proudly showing off their loyalty to their favorite fictional characters and stories. It's a sad example, but the same thing occurred after Michael Jackson died - people who wouldn't be caught dead singing or dancing to his songs ended up blasting "Smooth Criminal" from their iPods and Bose car sound system.



Consoling myself by revisiting Taipei Computex photos. She'd fit right in hall 2 of the convent…

FrameMaker Basics: Aligning Numbered Paragraphs

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Category: Tech Writer

The process of creating automated lists in FrameMaker is different from standard word processors and formatting and aligning text can be confusing for users new to the application. However, once a user gets accustomed to working with Paragraph Designer first, before applying formatting to text, the process eventually becomes easier.

To align numbered paragraphs:

1. Select all the paragraphs to be numbered.

2. In the Paragraph Designer pod, click Commands, then New Format.... Enter a name for the Paragraph Tag.

3. Click Create.

4. Click and drag the top marker on the ruler to specify the first line indent. You can also click the Basic button on the Paragraph Designer pod and enter a value in the First: box.



5. Click and drag the lower marker to set the alignment of the rest of the lines of paragraph text. Move the marker so that there is enough space to accommodate a t…

FrameMaker Basics: Aligning Numbered Paragraphs

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The process of creating automated lists in FrameMaker is different from standard word processors and formatting and aligning text can be confusing for users new to the application. However, once a user gets accustomed to working with Paragraph Designer first, before applying formatting to text, the process eventually becomes easier.
To align numbered paragraphs:

1. Select all the paragraphs to be numbered.

2. In the Paragraph Designer pod, click Commands, then New Format.... Enter a name for the Paragraph Tag.

3. Click Create.

4. Click and drag the top marker on the ruler to specify the first line indent. You can also click the Basic button on the Paragraph Designer pod and enter a value in the First: box.



5. Click and drag the lower marker to set the alignment of the rest of the lines of paragraph text. Move the marker so that there is enough space to accommodate a tab stop, period and …

Working with the Microsoft OneNote Ecosystem Part 1

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Category: Tech Today

OneNote , Microsoft Office's note-taking application, can be managed using three ways. One, through the Microsoft Office OneNote installed on your Windows machine. Two, through the OneNote app on your iOS, Windows Phone or Android device. Three, through SkyDrive, Microsoft's cloud storage service. Functionality in each platform varies, with OneNote on a Windows 7 or a Windows 8 desktop via Office the most complete in terms of managing your notebooks. On the other hand, although the OneNote app for mobile devices doesn't have all the features of the Office version, it's also the most useful since all your notes are with you while you work or move around.




With the recently upgraded iOS version installed on my iPod and iPad, I have access to my notebooks whether I'm commuting or relaxing on the sofa reading a 1980s issue of Spectacular Spider-M…

openSUSE Basics: Application Preference

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Category: openSUSE

OpenSUSE will automatically associate file extensions with applications installed on your system. As you install more applications using your software manager, the list of applications associated with a file type grows. Moreover, the default application that opens that filetype actually changes. For example, HTML files can be linked to several browsers, word processors, text viewers and text editors.




To manage the applications associated with a filetype:

1. Open a folder using Dolphin File Manager and right-click on any file with the file extension. Click Properties.
2. On the Type: item, click the monkeywrench icon.




3. On the Edit File Type window, select the applications and click Remove. Use the Move Up or Move Down buttons to rearrange the sequence of the applications. For HTML files, for example, developers might want to prioritize editors like Bluefish or Kate.

4. Click Apply

Apple On-Site Tech in China

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Category: Tech Today

I've previously written about the dying iMac G5 at the office. The PowerPC and ATI Radeon 9600-equipped Apple machine runs on Mac OSX 10.4 with a ground-breaking 768MB of RAM (cough). Unfortunately, due to standard IT regulations, I'm not allowed to run Linux on it nor fiddle around with the hardware.
A few days ago, it went through a fairly common PC issue (for its hardware and age) of booting up and dying after 3 minutes. I needed to pull files from the system but was warned to stay away from a screwdriver so I ended up cannibalizing a power cable from another iMac and getting a few files off before it died again. My Shanghainese colleague filed a ticket and requested for a third-party Apple technician, who arrived the next day.
Now, I really didn't know what to expect. As a former Dell technical support rep/trainer, I've spoken and worked w…

Quick Fix: Timezone and System-config-date issues in Fedora 18 Xfce

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Category: Linux

Users running the Fedora 18 Xfce spin may encounter issues where the System-config-date item in the menu or using Application Finder will not run the System-Config applet. Users may also encounter time zone and clock changes on reboot.




To correct frequent time clock resets or to change time zones:

1. Launch Terminal and on the command line, type system-config-date

2. Click the Time Zone tab and verify the time zone. If the system clock keeps resetting, uncheck or check System clock uses UTC.




3. Click OK.

4. To test changes, reboot system, launch Terminal and enter date

*Congratulations to the hard-working Fedora team for successfully releasing Fedora 19! Fedora hats off to these brilliant developers! Download the new release now!

Analyzing a Hoax Email Job Offer

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Category: Tech Today

With unemployment at incredibly dizzying heights everywhere, it's easy to be seduced by a job offer. It's sad that there are people out there who are taking advantage of the desperation of jobhunting new graduates or professionals who have been let go due to the global economic downturn.
Hoax emails are more carefully planned out then ever before with the false recruiter maintaining contact and asking for requirements. They also target overseas applicants from countries well-known for their globe-trotting workers. These "headhunters" even pretend to "process" the papers for an interim to complete the illusion of anticipation for the jobhunter. Desperation and the seductive promise of financial security after long weeks/months of jobhunting can make anyone vulnerable to such cruel designs.
However, in the same way real headhunters re…

What Applications Support PageMaker Files?

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Category: Tech Writer

The discontinued Adobe PageMaker was a popular publishing application during a time when both commercial and desktop publishing were focused on print and not digital. Being given the task of reusing or even archiving PageMaker .pmd files can be a challenge especially if PageMaker software is not available. Very few applications support the .pmd file extension and unlike recent file formats isn't XML-based. Even open source software such as Scribus doesn't support .pmd. There are a few options, however, if a serious task of archiving or repurposing .pmd files is necessary:

1. An original copy of PageMaker 6.5 or PageMaker 7.0. If a copy or boxed set of PageMaker is still available at the company or lying around in storage, then it can still be installed on a laptop/desktop or even better a virtual operating system (Windows 2000 or Windows XP come to mind). A full installation …