Showing posts from April, 2016

Tips on using Wacom tablets with smaller Windows tablets Part 1

Wacom is well-known for their stylus and their pen tablet products. However, the manufacturer is being edged out by products that include their own active pen, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note series and Surface Pro tablets. Still, Wacom has focused on their strengths by producing styli that are tailored for Apple iPads, although this leaves out the majority of Android users. 
Users who own Windows tablets from ASUS, Acer, HP, and Dell will be happy to know that they can use a Wacom pen tablet even with underpowered and smaller Windows 10 tablets. Wacom recently updated their device drivers, so even older Bamboo pen tablets should work fine. 
Although I no longer work with design and graphics as much as I used to, my roughly five-year old Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch still works great and is useful for the occasional CorelDraw project. Since most of my machines run on Linux, I use the Bamboo with the 8" HP Stream 8 for Windows-only applications. The Bamboo is actually larger and wid…

openSUSE 42.1 KDE Basics: Wi-Fi after DVD install

There are scenarios when KDE Network Manager is not automatically enabled after installing openSUSE 42.1 KDE.
To set up Wi-Fi after installing openSUSE 42.1 after a DVD installation, perform the following steps:
1. Launch Network Settings using KRunner or from the KDE menu.
2. If you prefer to set up network settings using NetworkManager, click the Global Options tab and select NetworkManager Service. If you prefer Wicked, skip to step 6. 
Note: You may be prompted to install the iw software package for recent wireless cards.
3. Click OK.
4. If you selected NetworkManager Service in the Global Options tab, the KNetworkManager applet detects any Ethernet connections and appears in the System Tray. 

5. Click the KNetworkManager icon and connect to the wireless network like normal.
6. If you prefer to use Wicked, click the Global Options tab and select Wicked
7. On the Overview tab, select the wireless card listed, and then click Edit.

8. Select Dynamic Address, and then click Next.


Online Linux Tutorials and Digital Ocean

Everyone has a technical aptitude, whether it's a 60-year old grandmother using iOS9 to hobbyists tinkering with Android builds. And there is now an overwhelming sense that most everyone must be exposed to some level of programming, markup language, and Linux
Contrary to popular belief, there is a huge amount of Linux tutorials on the Internet, with Linux users of every level contributing in the forums and in their own wiki or blog. However, the readability of tutorials and the quality of the articles aren't always for mainstream users and there is still the lingering fear for many that jumping into a Linux forum without a technical background makes you a target of apathy, ridicule, or worst, derision.
Some sites with great Linux resources are well-known. Howtoforge  is well-established for articles related to specific distributions, although not all articles are  complete or  up-to-date. Long-time Linux users and serious new users acknowledge that the Archlinux wiki, though …

openSUSE 42.1 KDE Basics: Adding hostnames using YaST

To facilitate identifying nodes on the network, you can add hostnames and IP addresses to the /etc/hosts file using openSUSEYaST
To add hostnames using YaST:
1. In YaST Control Center, click Hostnames.

2. Click Add and then type the IP Address, Hostname, and Host Aliases. Click OK.
3. Click OK.
Using the Hostnames module in YaST does the same thing as editing the hosts file manually.

Unsolicited Question: Which Linux distributions do you encounter professionally?

Q: Which Linux distributions do you encounter professionally?
Technical documentation engineers get exposed to a lot of departments and divisions in a company. This is multiplied exponentially if you are a contractor working with different clients and projects. 
For hardware-related projects such as firmware and embedded software,  the manufacturers and hardware testing teams I've encountered use Ubuntu LTS releases, openSUSE, Fedora, and RHEL. I was particularly surprised at seeing Fedora for hardware tests involving enterprise servers and overjoyed at the presence of openSUSE, the Linux distribution I'm most comfortable with.

I never appreciated the enterprise-aimed CentOS until I used it at work.

A huge European tech conglomerate I had the pleasure of working with had a long-term commitment to Red Hat due to requirements related to JBoss. RHEL, of course, is the Linux distribution most professionals will encounter in companies with large-scale projects. However, it is Ubuntu…

Extracting audio from a video using VLC

If you're learning a new language, it's useful to listen to the audio of foreign language movies or TV shows to pick up phrases and improve vocabulary. You can use VLC to easily save the audio of a video file to an .MP3 file for loading to your smartphone or MP3 player.
To extract audio from a video file in VLC:
1. Click File > Convert/Stream.
2. Click Open media and select the video.
3. Select Audio - MP3 from the list of profiles. If needed, click Customize and click the Audio codec tab to configure the audio file.

4. Click Browse and specify the output filename and file format extension (.mp3).
5. Click Save to begin transcoding.
Once the scrubber reaches the end, the MP3 file is ready. If the MP3 file is too long or needs to be edited, you can use an audio editor such as Audacity to trim or optimise audio quality.

openSUSE 42.1 KDE Basics: Toggle NumLock settings

For some generic hardware manufacturers (and the occasional Logitech model), the NumLock key is disabled by default on boot and needs to be configured either from the BIOS or from desktop settings. 
To configure openSUSE KDE to boot with a toggled NumLock key:
1. In KDE, click the KDE menu > Settings > Configure Desktop.
2. Click Input Devices > Keyboard.
3. Under NumLock on KDE Startup, select Turn on or Turn off as needed.

Do you use

When people ask me if I have an "FB account", I tell them I do, pretending that I'm unaware that they are referring to the popular social networking service "Facebook".  Instead, I  enthusiastically explain to them I have a Flipboard account, which I use to access curated content on
Note: I don't have a Facebook account.
It's clear that Flipboard's browser-based service doesn't get used as much as the iOS, Android, and Windows/Windows Phone  apps. Layout and ease of use in a browser just can't match the experience of using the meticulously designed touch-based apps that made Flipboard so popular. However, for users that still use laptops and PCs to surf the Internet, is a good way to get a pulse of what's going on in the Internet - it's sort of traditional cable channel-surfing despite the availability of streaming services.  As an added bonus, I can pull up my customized news content even when I'm lo…

Notes on Windows 10 File Sharing for Mac OS X and CentOS 7 Part 2

Continued from Notes on Windows 10 File Sharing for Mac OS X and CentOS 7 Part 1

Simple Sharing in Windows 10

To share a folder in a Windows 10 tablet:

1. Tap and hold on a folder, and then tap Properties.

2. On the Sharing tab, tap Share.

3. Select Everyone, Guest or a Name from the list.

4. Tap Share and then Done.

Accessing Windows 10 shared folders in MacOSX

To access the Windows 10 shared folder in Mac OS X:

1. Make sure the Mac is on the same Wi-Fi network as the Windows 10 machine.

2. In Finder, select the Windows 10 device from Shared.

3. Click Connect As and select Guest to access only the Public folders on the Windows 10 machine. Select Registered User to access folders shared by a Windows 10 user.

4. Click Connect and input the user and password if needed.

Accessing Windows 10 shared folders in CentOS

To access Windows 10 shared folders in CentOS 7 using Nautilus (Files):

1. Make sure the CentOS machine is on the same Wi-Fi network as the Windows 10 machine.

2. In Nautilus, …

Notes on Windows 10 File Sharing for Mac OS X and CentOS 7 Part 1

Using an Outlook, Live or even Hotmail account with your Windows 10 device is convenient if you're working in a Windows-only environment. However, if you work in a mixed network environment, sharing files can be problematic. If, however, you set up a Local account in Windows 10, OS X and Linux distributions like CentOS 7  should have no problems accessing user shared folders on a Windows 10 mobile device or PC.

This article uses Windows 10 Home on an HP Stream 8 and CentOS 7 on a Zotac ZBOX Nano Mini-PC and a Macbook Air running Mac OS X El Capitan.

To add a Local account in Windows 10:

1. In Windows 10 Settings, tap or click Accounts > Family & Other users > Add someone else to this PC.

2. Select Local account and follow the steps to create an account.

To set up Windows 10 sharing for a mixed network environment:

1. In Windows 10 Settings, search for Advanced Sharing Options.

2. In Private settings, select Turn on network discovery and Turn on automatic setup of networ…

CorelDraw X5 on an HP Stream 8 Part 2

Continued from CorelDraw X5 on an HP Stream 8 Part 1

Other considerations before running CorelDraw on an HP Stream 8 are the following:

1. With 1GB of physical RAM, running CorelDraw alongside Corel Photo-Paint and resource hungry applications isn't recommended. Moreover, you would probably be working more with wireframe view then full preview mode. 

2. The HP Stream 8's display resolution maxes out at 1280 x 800, which is fine for vector images but hardly ideal for reviewing bitmap-heavy designs.

3. Since CorelDraw Graphics Suite is a set of desktop applications, the software will be installed in the internal storage of the HP Stream 8, so if you're saddled with 32 GB of internal memory, you're pushing your device's storage capacity even if you have a 64 GB external micro-SD card installed.

4. It goes without saying but you need to be in Windows 10 desktop mode to run CorelDraw or Corel Photo-Paint.

5. If you've ever used a Windows tablet, then you know batte…

CorelDraw X5 on an HP Stream 8 Part 1

There is little doubt that the extremely powerful Microsoft Surface tablets can handle Corel products easily, but what about Windows tablets such as the HP Stream 8?

CorelDraw X5 on an HP Stream 8 paired with a Logitech K450 Bluetooth keyboard, and a Microsoft Mouse connected via USB OTG adapter.

With 1 GB of RAM, an Intel Atom processor and a screen smaller than 10", you probably wouldn't want to perform heavy bitmap tasks on the HP Stream 8. However, you can certainly work with vector images if you can tolerate the limited screen estate, low display resolution, and having to bring along accessories such as a Bluetooth keyboard and Wacom tablet that are actually larger than your device. You are definitely better off with even an entry-level Windows laptop than using your HP Stream 8 for CorelDraw if you're working on a large project.
Note: This article uses an HP Stream 8 with an Intel Atom Z3735G processor, 32 GB of internal memory, 1GB of RAM, and Windows 10 Home 32-Bit

Fitbit Charge HR - Dead at Two Months

The blue Fitbit Charge HR I gushed about a scant two months ago is now dead, killed by either a firmware update or (unlikely enough) was a lemon from purchase. I still think the Charge HR is great - when it worked.

The Charge HR exhibited  intermittent power on issues a few weeks after purchase. The issue actually improved after a firmware update but became intolerable after a second software upgrade.  If you're lucky enough to have a functioning Charge HR but started experiencing this issue, you can refer to the Fitbit support site's steps for restarting the tracker
Unfortunately,  the solution provided by Fitbit didn't always work. For one thing, the firmware version didn't always appear after performing the steps. Users have reported different behavior from the wearable in the forums.  In my case, I would have to disconnect from USB charging and hold the power button down with both fingers. The sensor will blink once or twice, which normally meant that if I kept ho…

Tested: HTTP Remote for Kodi on Android Part 2

Continued from Tested: HTTP Remote for Kodi on Android Part 1

I tested the following browsers on different devices to remotely control Kodi for Android on the MemoPad HD7:
1. Google Chrome on a Sony Xperia C3 (Android 5.x) 2. Internet Explorer for Mobile on a Lumia 925 (Windows Phone 8.1) 3. Apple Safari on an iPad 2 (iOS9) 4. Edge browser on an HP Stream 8 (Windows 10) 5. Internet Explorer 11 on an HP Stream 8 (Windows 10) 6. Mozilla Firefox on a ZBOX Nano Mini-PC (CentOS 7)

A Sony Xperia C3 controlling Kodi on an ASUS MemoPad HD7

Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari had no issues connecting to Kodi on Android on the MemoPad HD7. 
Sadly, Internet Explorer for Mobile on the Lumia 925 triggered an error message and recommended installing an app instead. 

Windows Phone's default browser couldn't access Kodi.

Edge browser in Windows 10 surprisingly also couldn't access Kodi over HTTP. On the other hand, the older Internet Explorer 11 worked fine.

Windows users can use Internet Explor…

Tested: HTTP Remote for Kodi on Android Part 1

There are quite a few Android and iOS apps for remotely controlling an installation of Kodi over HTTP. However, even if you don't have an app installed, you can access Kodi remotely using a web browser. 

The Kodi remote controls available over HTTP are pretty limited compared to the more advanced Kodi apps available, but they work for basic tasks such as navigating the Kodi user interface. Onscreen controls while playing media, such as switching subtitles, is a problem though. On a MemoPad HD7 with Kodi for Android, users can navigate through movies, videos and change settings using a web browser. However, when watching videos or playing music, an extra tap on the screen is still required to display onscreen video controls.
This article uses Kodi on Android on a MemoPad HD7 with a Confluence skin.
To enable HTTP remote control on Kodi for Android:

1. On the main screen for Kodi, tap System > Settings.

2. Change the Settings level to either Standard, Advanced or Expert to displ…

Unsolicited Question: Windows Phones, Android 4/5 and CentOS 7

Q: Do I have to install any software packages to access user folders in a Windows Phone or Android device in CentOS 7?

A Lumia 925 detected by Gnome on CentOS7

A default installation of CentOS 7 with Gnome can access the user folders of devices running Windows Phone 8.1. There are, however, minor issues with accessing Windows 10 Mobile, which is somewhat similar to Windows 10 in terms of USB support.

Nautilus accessing external storage on an ASUS MemoPad HD7

Android 4.x and Android 5.x are user accessible from CentOS 7. Nautilus (Files) detects and mounts internal memory and external micro SD on devices such as the Sony Xperia C3 and the older ASUS MemoPad HD7.   

Mounting memory on a Sony Xperia C3 on CentOS 7. 

What do you think of the Lenovo Thinkpad T450? Part 2

Continued from What do you think of the Lenovo Thinkpad T450? Part 1

The keyboards are spill-proof, a feature that should be standard in all laptops, but surprisingly isn't. If you're courageous, you can test the keyboard drainage holes underneath the Lenovo Thinkpad T450.
The T450 doesn't have an optical drive in its default configuration, a business decision that is more common than ever. However, in keeping up with the classic Thinkpads of yore, Lenovo still keeps the Trackpoint and the oddly-shaped Trackpoint buttons around.
It's hard not to talk about Thinkpads without bringing up the poorly-named red pointing stick. The last time I met someone who actually liked Trackpoints was in 2002. For my part, I like that the crimson round control button brings color to the shiny black of a Thinkpad. On the other hand, pointing sticks are absolutely useless to me.

You can easily tell when movies feature a Thinkpad by looking for the brightly red pointing stick in a sea of ke…

What do you think of the Lenovo Thinkpad T450? Part 1

Most users think that consumer laptops and business laptops are pretty much the same thing. Although the two blur the line in terms of hardware components,  they really aren't. You actually don't get to experience how different business laptops are until you are issued one by your company. 
However, the difference between a consumer and business laptop is very subtle to a normal user. Sometimes, it's just the extra password prompt to get to the encrypted hard drive. Other times it's just the superfluous user access control that you can easily skip with an easy work around.  Unless you're a network admin or part of the IT staff, the features and customizations implemented on a business laptop are largely invisible . Most office workers are just happy getting the system to boot up and not encountering issues with logging in, desktop applications, connecting to virtual networks or figuring out passwords.
Close to a decade ago I was issued a boxy IBM Thinkpad. The mode…

Wi-Fi Review: Maan Coffee, Ping An Financial Center, Liangmaqiao, beijing

Maan Coffee is a South Korean franchise competing with Costa Coffee and the ubiquitous Starbucks in China. The growing coffee company, although maintaining fewer branches than its more established competitors, distinguishes itself by providing visitors with decadent, sweet all-day snacks such as waffles and toast. Their menu doesn't have the breadth of iHop's familiar spread, but they also have heavy brunch plates, salads, sandwiches and oddly enough, panini.
The furniture and the lighting in the Maan Coffee at Liangmaqiao doesn't make it conducive for work, but rather for leisurely chats with friends and co-workers. Still, that wouldn't stop anyone with a Macbook Air or Linux machine from plopping down and connecting to the free Wi-Fi network and getting some work done.

Note: Although they have a sign clearly indicating photographs aren't allowed, well-dressed young ladies and typically ignorant tourists were taking selfies at their table. As a stickler for rules, …