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Showing posts from June, 2014

Spidey's Mini-World Cup

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Ok, so the story presented in Web of Spider-Man #34 (1988) featured American football - not soccer. And the game was held in someone's backyard. With junior high kids. With the Watcher being the main spectator.

Our friendly neighborhood Peter Parker, wearing the cloth version of the black costume, is having a bad day and espies a few kids playing backyard football.  Peter, succumbing to his natural sympathy for the underdog joins in when the bullies abuse the smaller kids.


Perhaps Peter needed a break from the cynical world of New York's crime-ridden streets and maniacal villains, but Peter does his utmost to inspire the children in the simple scrimmage. Handicapped severely by rules imposed by the children, Peter joins the game good-naturedly (though the kids forget that objects adhere to Spidey's hands).


Meanwhile, on Earth's moon, the cosmic entity called Watcher (which ignorant Marvel writers today think can be punched by a Hulk-wannabe or assassinated by some 2n…

VLC on Android 4.2.2 (Memo Pad HD7)

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The developers of VideoLAN player (VLC) deserve the regular accolades they get from the tech community. Their consistency and dedication to VLC for all major platforms is amazing. Users should donate to this fantastic team whether they are using VLC for iOS7, Linux, MacOSX, Windows or Android.

A recent update to VLC on my Android-powered Memo Pad HD7 reinstalled the multimedia application and I was treated to the now-familiar warning indicating the Android version is "Beta" and may kill your cat. Users shouldn't worry, however, since VLC on Android has been stable and problem-free particularly for local videos stored on the device.

Note: Admittedly, VLC has had a sketchy record on certain Linux distributions (such as openSUSE) and even the long-running Windows version has had its ups and downs. VLC on the older Android 4.2.2, however, has provided a great user experience for me and is the only player I use on the Memo Pad HD7.

For Android users looking for a dependable vi…

Quick Fix: WLAN notification "ghosting" (Memo Pad HD7)

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When enabling any of the hardware devices using the Notification Tray on the ASUS Memo Pad HD7, a message will be briefly displayed indicating the status and then will disappear. Unfortunately, perhaps due to the Android version (2.2.2) or the hardware (Mediatek processor), the message sometimes refuses to disappear even if you enable or disable the same function (such as WLAN).


As a workaround, you can disable or enable a different function instead. This removes the offending "ghosting" message. For example, if the WLAN message doesn't disappear, disable or enable Bluetooth.



Let's MATE! (Linux Mint MATE, that is!)

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I remember the first time I tried Linux Mint with Gnome 2 back in 2008. Back then I was distro-hopping quite a bit trying out Puppy, PCLinuxOS, Mandriva and going through the list at Distrowatch. Mint was one of the newer releases then but had already attracted some attention. It would later be featured on the cover of a Linux publication along with Ubuntu, Fedora and Arch.


During installation of Linux Mint 17, the setup window boasts that Mint is the 4th most popular operating system in the world. I'm not sure if that's entirely accurate but I agree that Mint and its developers have good reason to make that assertion.

With my experience with the most recent version of Lubuntuending in disappointment,  I once again found myself installing Linux Mint 17 - this time with MATE.

No Need for a Review
There's this really funny bit in BBC Radio 4 Extra'sCabin Pressure (2008) where Martin (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) and Douglas (Roger Allam) complain about the intense bor…

Unsolicited Question: Does the Windows 8.1 Scan app work with the CanoScan LiDE 600F?

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The CanoScan LiDE 600F flatbed scanner is an older version of the CanoScan LiDE 700F. If you upgraded your system from Windows 7 to Windows 8/8.1, the LiDE 600F drivers and CanoScan Toolbox utility for Windows 7 will actually work in Windows 8.1 without problems. As with Windows 7, you can also make scans from applications that support TWAIN.


Windows 8.1 includes a basic scanning app called Scan. The Scan app provides a simple interface for scanning images with options to change file format (including the newer OpenXPS format), color mode and resolution. Unfortunately, the Scan app fails to produce a usable scan and is limited to a partial Preview only.


Note: The LiDE 600F is unusual that even Linux developers have been unable to produce a usable driver for the product though other Canon scanners work fine on Linux. Canon does not provide Linux drivers for the LiDE 600F.
If you intend to use the Scan app with the Canon LiDE 600F, you can download the Windows 8.1 driver but performance …

Shopping for a Laptop in 2014 (Linux/Windows 8.1) Part 3

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Continued from Shopping for a Laptop in 2014 (Linux/Windows 8.1) Part 2

Hybrids/Touchscreen laptops/Convertibles You can argue that hybrids/convertibles/touchscreen laptops were introduced specifically for Windows 8.1 and to address the popularity of touchscreens in standalone tablets and smartphones. You can't really lump the three together so it's best to identify each product line.

There's a fine line between hybrids and convertible laptops. Some examples of tablet-laptop hybrids are Microsoft Surface Pro 2, Acer Aspire Switch 10, and ASUS VivoTabs  - the three product lines feature the ability to disconnect the tablet from the keyboard.  Pop the tablet back to the "dock" or "keyboard" and you have a "laptop".

Meanwhile, convertible laptops focus on "modes" or "types of usage". Lenovo's popular Yoga and the ASUS Taichi are two examples of products that you can physically configure for a specific task. Before purchasi…

Adobe Reader and Additional Fonts Overview (iOS/Windows 8.1/Windows Phone/Android/Linux)

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Adobe Reader, one of the oldest PDF viewers from Adobe, has long been accused for being buggy, unsafe and problematic on the desktop. However, if you visit an enterprise environment and speak with IT admins, you would notice that most OS images include the ancient PDF reader. Furthermore, some PC and laptop manufacturers still include the Reader preinstalled (mostly to view the included manual though the practice has been dropping recently). To their credit, Adobe has made efforts to improve Adobe Reader with capable versions popping up in iOS, Windows Phone and Android.

This article will take a look at Adobe Reader for different platforms and offers tips in handling non-English characters in PDFs.

Adobe Reader XI for Windows 8.1
As with most platforms, there are a hundred alternatives to viewing PDFs other than Adobe Reader in Windows. In fact, Windows 8.1 includes the Reader app by default for opening PDFs. However, for many professionals, they expect to have the well-known Adobe pr…

Shopping for a Laptop in 2014 (Linux/Windows 8.1) Part 2

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Continued from Shopping for a Laptop in 2014 (Linux/Windows 8.1) Part 1


3. Chromebook - In part 1, I mentioned that a young lady asked me for advice on laptops. Her follow up question was whether a Chromebook was a good choice. As much as I adore Android and Linux, I have absolutely no interest in Chromebooks and it's very difficult for me to recommend the ChromeOS-powered hardware to new users or even serious professionals. For users who are considering Chromebooks, understand what the OS can do and what it can't or you might end up having to wipe the drive and installing Linux or Windows.


For example, I couldn't recommend Chromebook to the volunteer teacher for her student because access to Internet in Tegucigalpa isn't always available (or affordable) as compared to say Germany, Japan or South Korea. Moreover, anyone with even basic Linux skills can argue you can get more mileage with any Linux distribution listed in Distrowatch. Furthermore, dedicated and skilled m…