Showing posts from November, 2015

Tested: MATE-core on Ubuntu 15.10 with Unity

Unless you're installing a spin or variant of Ubuntu with a different default desktop environment, the mainstream release of Ubuntu isn't the best for low-powered hardware or at least hardware without hardware acceleration. The divisive Unity desktop isn't recommended for small screens either, particularly now that Unity 2D has been removed as an option.

There are dozens of distributions based off of Ubuntu and you can certainly install any of them if you prefer a different desktop environment. Moreover, Ubuntu has official releases such as Lubuntu and Xubuntu that addresses the needs of users who dislike the Unity DE and additions such as integration with Amazon.

Installing MATE on a stock Ubuntu 15.10 installation is a good choice for hardware that struggles with Ubuntu Unity's desktop effects and UI.
As with all Linux distributions, however, you can always install a desktop environment as an option alongside the Unity desktop. This is especially useful for enterpri…

Deepin Linux Control Center in Practice Part 2

Continued from Deepin Linux Control Center in Practice Part 1

5. User Accounts - If you were a grizzled Linux administrator with gravy dribbling down your beard, you would probably look at the User Accounts module in Deepin Linux Control Center with disdain for the lack of advanced settings as user groups and permissions. 

User Accounts in Deepin Linux Control Center

User Accounts in Control Center, however, should be adequate and even fun for normal desktop users. You can set the Auto-login with one flick, change your login password, update your login avatar, and even take a webcam photo. Administrators can add a user by clicking the + button and inputting the necessary user information. User management is deceptively simple from Control Center, but experienced users would probably want more granular control from the installed Deepin Terminal.

Adding a new user works like a charm.

6. Default applications - A decade ago, quick access to default applications may have been useful to mainstr…

Quick Fix: No Rotation Lock visible after installing/upgrading Windows 10 (HP Stream)

Although the recent Windows 10 Build upgrade is largely without problems if you perform a clean install of Windows 10 on the HP Stream 8, you may encounter an issue where Rotation Lock, which toggles screen orientation to portrait and landscape,  is no longer a Quick Action option in Action Center/Notifications.

The recent November Windows Upgrade 10 installs all the necessary drivers for the HP Stream 8, including the Intel HD Graphics Control Panel, which actually has options for rotating the screen since the application treats the tablet display as any other display. However, accessing the Intel application is a nuisance in Tablet mode and is difficult to open if you're in Desktop mode without an input accessory such as a mouse or stylus.

Windows Update provides drivers for the Kionix G-Sensor, which handles the movement of the device. However, you would still need to either reinstall the Kionix driver or download the most recent version of the driver for the Stream 8 from the…

Hotel Wi-Fi Review: Swissotel, Chaoyangmen, Beijing

Swissotel Beijing isn't exactly a new hotel and for the price you pay there are plenty of better alternatives for business and casual travelers to Beijing. The rooms are unremarkable although they do have CNN, AXN, BBC and TV5Monde on cable, which is unusual in a country where CCTV channels are the only thing on the tube most of the time. Still, Swissotel is pretty popular for European business travelers and you'll notice one or two Westerners immediately in the somewhat old-fashioned lobby.
Snowy November in Beijing from a Swissotel room. Photo taken using a Sony Xperia C3 Dual and resized in Windows.
There are probably three reasons why Swissotel Chaoyangmen is frequented by Westerners:

1. The hotel, unlike other accommodations that advertise their accessibility, really is 20 minutes from the airport. The Dongsi Shitiao station is right in front of the hotel entrance, which is an advantage if you found yourself experiencing Beijing's odd winter.  Dongsi Shitiao station is…

Deepin Linux Control Center in Practice Part 1

Deepin Linux is undoubtedly visually appealing. The China-based distribution uses elements of Windows 8/10 and MacOSX, plus its own set of icons and UI elements to produce a very attractive out-of-the box desktop environment. Although even the most casual Linux user can customize or reproduce the aesthetics of the Deepin desktop and there are many Linux distributions available that are also pleasing to the eye, credit for the attention to detail should be given to the Deepin Linux team.

Note: This article discusses Deepin Linux 2014.3.
Arguably the centerpiece of the Deepin Linux desktop is the Control Center, which pops out from the right side of the screen. The Deepin Linux Control Center was already around before the final builds of Windows 10 and is actually more functional than the recent version of Windows 10's Action Center. It's incorrect to compare Deepin Linux Control Center with openSUSE's YaST2, Mageia Control Center or KDE'sDesktop Settings. Although Deepin…

Wi-Fi Review: Guangzhou Baiyun Airport

Guanzhou's metro system has its issues compared to sister cities Shanghai and Beijing, but getting to the airport is somewhat simpler since you don't need to pay for a separate Airport Express ticket. If you're coming from any of the lines that connect to Line 3, you have a pretty direct path with hardly any metro changes to get to Baiyun South airport.

As with Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing's airports, Guangzhou has a free but conditional Wi-Fi access. Once you connect to the AIRPORT-FREE-WiFiSSID, you'll be prompted to input your China mobile number without the country code (86). A unique authentication code is sent to your mobile number to gain access to the network for a limited amount of time (roughly 5 hours).

Although I've never tested the service with an international number, I assume the workaround in Beijing International's Wi-Fi service works in Baiyun's in the same way. You input two zeroes and then your country code with your mobile numbe…

Unsolicited Question: Windows 10 Upgrade Build 10586 on 32GB Windows devices‏

Q: I get an error message regarding storage when I try to upgrade to the recent Windows 10 build. 

As with Android and iOS, you're going to need some available space to download and install the recent Windows 10 upgrade. If you're running a Windows device such as an Acer, Lenovo or Dell tablet with an internal memory of 32GB, you will more likely require more storage to install the November 2015 upgrade/update.

The storage error message offers the option to supplement the internal memory of your device with external storage such as a desktop hard drive or the micro SD card inserted in the slot. This is a mixed blessing because if your device has only one micro USB port, you can connect a USB OTG adapter to connect an external hard drive but possibly not the power charger. A major drawback of using this method is that the Windows upgrade requires that your system is connected to a power source to complete the installation. Kudos to Microsoft for allowing the external micro SD c…

HP Stream 8 with Windows 10 Part 4

Continued from HP Stream 8 with Windows 10 Part 3

USB On-the-Go Adapter and the Stream 8

Although some Android devices support USB On-the-Go adapters, usage is limited. Apple will never support USB OTG and Windows Phone 8.1 still doesn't support them (fingers-crossed for Windows Mobile 10). So if there is any consolation to buying a Windows tablet, it's the ability to use a USB OTG adapter to connect USB peripherals and accessories. 

It's an understatement to say that you need a compatible USB OTG if you want to get the most out of the Stream 8. USB OTG adapters are cheap but if you already own one, bring the adapter and test it on the Stream 8 before buying the tablet.

Note: In typical Hong Kong business practices, I wasn't allowed to try the Stream 8 when I was at the store, so I didn't get to test my generic USB OTG cable. Thankfully, the PowerSync USB On-the-Go adapter I owned, which works perfectly on Sony Xperia and high-end Samsung devices, worked like a char…

Unsolicited Product Summaries for Black Friday Part 2

 Continued from Unsolicited Product Summaries for Black Friday Part 1

Not Recommended - Avoid

1. Jabra Play - Jabra has removed the Play from their product page with good reason. The cheap design and lack of durability makes it a bad choice even if you find it on shelves at a low price. Bluetooth pairing was troublesome and mine died in less than a year.

 Unsolicited Alternative:Sony Stereo Bluetooth Headset SBH70 or Sony Smart Bluetooth Handset SBH52

2. HP Stream 8 - HP should make a public apology about releasing the HP Stream 8. It's an embarrassing product riddled with power, firmware, battery and user design issues. The touch screen is the worst I've seen since LG phones back in 2007. If I've learned anything from purchasing the HP Stream 8, it's to avoid buying a Windows tablet with a small screen, less than 64GB of internal storage and less than 2GB of RAM. The HP Stream 8 is so bad, it made me renew my vow to never again buy an HP product.
Unsolicited Alternative:

Unsolicited Product Summaries for Black Friday Part 1

Even if you aren't in the market for new devices this holiday season, the discounted products available online or in shopping outlets can be pretty tempting especially if you have a few dollars hidden in your couch you're willing to spend. Mainstream consumers are getting better at figuring out which products are new but most people aren't nearly as attentive to product announcements, ads or company websites (unless it's from Apple). This article is mostly composed of older products that are now being sold at a lower price or recent products available almost anywhere.


1. WD TV Live Media Player

Media Players seem to be anachronistic now since most consumer cord-cutters prefer devices such as Chromecast or skip huge displays for their tablet or phablet instead. However, for users who still have older displays (the WD TV Live supports Composite cables) and have plenty of videos stored in external hard drives or Linux/Windows servers, a budget media playe…