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Showing posts from May, 2016

Vivosmart HR: Setting up Notifications and Music Controls Part 1

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Many reviewers of the Vivosmart products and the Garmin Connect app have noted that the app can be a chore to use with Garmin's activity trackers. In particular, the user manual is unclear on how to set up Android notifications and Music controls, two features available over Bluetooth with products such as the Vivosmart HR.


This article applies to Vivosmart HR, Garmin Connect 3.6.0.1 for Android, and a Sony Xperia C3 running Android 5.x.
The user guide and app points out that after initially pairing your Android device with your Vivosmart HR, the app will automatically detect the tracker as long as Bluetooth is enabled. This isn't quite true and you will often have to reconnect over Bluetooth to sync data or change settings. 
To reconnect the Vivosmart HR to the Android device over Bluetooth:
1. Press the button on the Vivosmart HR and swipe to the Bluetooth icon screen.
2. Tap B > Bluetooth  > Bluetooth to enable Bluetooth.
3. Tap the Back button and then the Sync icon.
4.…

Creating a glyph for a font in CorelDraw X5 Part 2

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Continued from Creating a glyph for a font in CorelDraw X5 Part 1

6. Click OK.
7. If you want more than one customised glyph on the font, perform the same steps on the same TTF file. When you click Export, click Yes to replace the font file. Adjust the values in the True Type Export window as before, but select a different character from the Character block

Note: Characters with an exported design will appear in slight bold. If you're creating a full set of font characters rather than 1 or 2 symbols/glyphs, you export roughly more than 80 characters.

8. Test the glyph by installing the TTF in Linux, Windows, and Mac OSX and using the font in Word, Pages, and even in programs such as Okular, Adobe Reader,Scribus and Inkscape. If needed, export the glyph as SVG or HTML5 if you need to use the design in web pages. In addition, embed the glyph to an EPUB file or PDF document and view the glyph using smartphones, ereaders, and tablets with varying screen sizes. 
Note: Take note that no…

Creating a glyph for a font in CorelDraw X5 Part 1

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Prince, who recently passed away, was briefly referred to as a glyph for a few years. If you've ever wondered how the press and media were able to print his name, it's because the symbol was delivered and then converted to print manually.
The process for creating a glyph is the same as creating a character for a font set. Creating a full set of characters for a font is a lengthy process, but designing and exporting a single drawing to a font is straightfoward. To make typing easier, a glyph is associated with a shortcut or associated to a specific key in a keyboard.
To create a glyph in CorelDraw X5 and then export it to a font:
1. Design a vector image using the same characteristics as a font. 
Designers generally take note of the following properties:
Vertical and horizontal baseline valueCap heightDescender lengthAscender heightFont sizeGridSpace WidthLeading
Most designers already have preset guidelines on their CorelDraw templates to ensure their character or glyph does not exc…

Gearmax Laptop/2-in-1 bag and the Macbook Air

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There have been rumblings for weeks of Apple replacing their Macbook Air line with a newer series of Macbook models. Despite the Air's laudable history, this makes some sense considering that Apple needs to retain their illusion of offering premium products. If Apple makes this controversial move, then I'm thankful I finally got around to purchasing the well-loved ultraportable before they disappear from the shelves in the next year or so (Honestly, I prefer if Apple just dropped the price of the Air rather than discontinuing it altogether).

Having worked with hardware manufacturers for years, I know enough about the resiliency of the materials used in today's laptops. However, the rule regarding reliability doesn't really apply to Apple's laptops because although their requirements and supply line are quite a step above their competitors, the price point is higher for the same type of hardware components, which forces users to invest in some type of protection. S…

Quick Fix: Mac OSX access for Linux FTP servers

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Despite the many issues associated with using an FTP server, some network environments and administrators still set up a Linux FTP server, rather than a more secure file sharing method.


openSUSE YaST2 FTP server module

If you are attempting to access an FTP server from Mac OSX using Finder, you might get an error despite inputting the correct IP address/hostname, username and password.



If other clients from mobile devices or PC terminals can access the FTP server, use a separate FTP client, such as long-time favorite Cyberduck for Mac OSX or Filezilla for Mac instead.


Cyberduck for Mac OSX accessing an FTP server set up on an openSUSE machine.

Honor V8 and X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

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20th Century Fox made a good decision to take a more light hand in promoting the new X-Men movie by associating it with the Honor V8 smartphone series by Huawei. Despite poor reviews and the incredibly unnecessary (and annoying) presence of Jennifer Lawrence, X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) will probably net quite the box office tally, though association with rising mobile device manufacturer Huawei can only help in the tough Chinese market.
Western promotion of Apocalypse focuses on the overrated Lawrence (whose character Mystique has an exaggerated significance in the X-Men movies compared to her relatively low-profile comic book version).  The Honor billboards in China, however, thankfully put the young Scott Summers, played by the competent and likable Tye Sheridan of Scout's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015), in the forefront. 


Although the once respectable X-Men leader has been repeatedly urinated on in the last two decades by incompetent, lazy Marvel comic book writers like Bhen…

App consequences of Windows 10 Mobile

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One of the overlooked disadvantages of upgrading from one mobile OS version to another, regardless if you are using iOS, Android, or Windows Phone, is the possibility that your apps are no longer supported on the newer mobile OS version (or mobile device). For example, the free version of Bookman for iOS works on an iPod Touch 4th generation, but no free version is available for iOS9.
One of the consequences of Windows 10 Mobile is that apps that worked fine with Windows Phone 8.1, are no longer tagged as available for Windows Phone 8.1 users even though the apps still work. Apps that fall in this category can no longer be reinstalled if you performed a fresh reset of your Lumia or Windows Phone device. This can happen if developers have either made changes to the app specifically for Windows 10 Mobile, removed the app from Microsoft Store altogether, or Microsoft Store deems it for Windows 10 Mobile only even if the app works in Windows Phone 8.1.




Some of the apps I can no longer in…

Wi-Fi and resto review: Nasca Cafe, Central Lufthansa, Beijing

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In celebration of my dad's birthday, I headed to Nasca Café. My dad, who passed away a few years ago, was an avowed meat eater, so I brought it on myself to have spareribs for dinner.
There are a handful of Nasca Café in Beijing with the café in Liangmaqiao located a scant 2 minutes from the Liangmaqiao station. The café is nicely decorated with a big mural of the Nazca geolyphs on one side and was furnished with comfortable chairs. A service window on one corner was available for quick takeaways. 


It was a pretty quiet Sunday evening and the underground mall was understandably free from the normal throng of office workers who pop in and out of the restaurants. Nasca Café had a pair of young ladies relaxing with their desserts, a local watching a drama on his Samsung Galaxy tab, and an expatriate downing tall glasses of beer. With this number of patrons, it wasn't surprising that the Wi-Fi throughput was pretty reliable and uploading five photos to OneDrive using my Lumia 925

Notes on Pinterest Part 2

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Continued from Notes on Pinterest Part 1
The Pinterest extension for Safari prompted that I install a newer version, which was odd since the version from the Apple gallery indicated the same version from Pinterest. Curiously enough, the Pin It prompt was pretty insistent and was displayed every time I pressed the Pin It button in Safari.


The visual Pinterest controls that appear next to images in a web page, however, works fine if you are a Pin addict.
Note: The Pinterest browser extensions and controls will work for most web sites but not all. 
The Windows Phone fan site Windows Central reports that there is an officialWindows Phone app for Pinterest. Unfortunately, the app wasn't available for Windows Phone 8.1 on my Lumia 925, a sad consequence of Microsoft's mismanagement of Windows 10 Mobile device deployment.
An independently developed app, Pin.it is available for Lumia 925 users. I tested the well-reviewed Pin.it on my Lumia 925 and found the design and functionality exce…

Tested: Backing up iPod Touch using Rhythmbox

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If you have a 4th-generation iPod Touch or earlier and need to back up your MP3 files, you can use Rhythmbox to copy all the MP3 files to a folder on Debian 8 Jessie.


This article uses a 4th-generation iPod Touch, Rhythmbox and PCMANFM on Debian 8 Jessie running an Xfce desktop environment.

To back up files from your iPod Touch to your Debian machine:
1. Using apt-get or Synaptic Package Manager, install Rhythmbox and PCMANFM.
2. Connect your iPod Touch to your Debian machine. 
3. Launch PCMANFM and check if the iPod Touch is mounted and iOS folders are accessible.


4. Launch Rhythmbox and allow the application to detect the iPod and index the contents of the device. 
Note: Rhythmbox does not display the iPod as a device in the Library pane, unless the iOS device is mounted.
5. To copy all the MP3 files, click Edit > Select All.


6. Drag the selected tracks to Music in the Library pane. 
Note: By default, Rhythmbox uses the user's Music folder in the Home directory.
In the followi…

Notes on Pinterest Part 1

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Pinterest and Tumblr are two of the social networking services that are not blocked by China's Great Firewall. Tumblr access is surprising, considering that between the two services, Tumblr has arguably more uncensored content (adult themes are well-known drivers of Tumblr visits). Having tested both services, it's clear that there are some similarities in terms of features, though Pinterest seems to have a more well-defined audience than Tumblr.



Having very little interest in social networking sites, I'm not sure if Pinterest currently has a more active user base than Tumblr, though I'm pretty sure Yahoo's association with Tumblr really doesn't affect some of the service's more enthusiastic users. Many tech sites have pointed out that Pinterest is aiming to monetize via direct marketing of products and services users "Pin" on their boards. This probably works for Pins that are associated with real, concrete products and services, but doesn't …

MSN China requiem and region language issues‏

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One of the more annoying aspects of web services for business travelers and expatriates is when web services persist in displaying the localized version against the user's will. Agoda.com, for example, now displays web page text based on the country, so even if you're a Brit in Hong Kong, the UI features Mandarin even if you switch languages using the web page controls. MSN, Microsoft's web portal, that was death warmed over a few years ago, had that issue for its Chinese version. 
Visitors of MSN, and to a lesser extent, Bing,  would be greeted with the local version, which in most cases is ideal. However, changing the language would often be a chore as browsers such as Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer would revert to the region language even if you changed the web page settings. With MSN China closing next month, expatriates and tourists in China will likely be diverted to the default global version of MSN. Considering that MSN isn't as popular in Asia as it u…

Notes on openSUSE 42.1 KDE on a Zotac ZBOX Nano CI320 mini-PC

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Most Linux distributions today are no longer as lightweight as they used to be, and openSUSE 42.1 Leap with KDE is certainly not always ideal for low-end hardware. However, openSUSE 42.1 holds up fairly well on an entry-level previous generation mini-PC such as the Zotac ZBOX Nano CI320.


This article applies to a Zotac ZBOX Nano CI320 equipped with a Celeron N2930, 4GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, Gigabit 10/100/1000 Ethernet, and an 802.11 a/b/c/n/ac integrated wireless card. As always, user experience is dependent on the type and load performed with the machine.
The following were observed in daily operations:
1. OpenSUSE 42.1 and the CI320 struggle with indexing images with Digikam, particularly high-resolution JPEG and RAW photos imported from a Sony NEX-3NL. A photo library upwards of 10 GB may slow down desktop performance. Photo-editing software showFoto handles single RAW image-editing adequately however, and GIMP does not affect system performance when performing basic photo-editing task…

Popcorn Time on openSUSE 42.1 KDE

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Popcorn Time is a torrent frontend that mimics video streaming by providing access to a list of available movies and performing the downloading and playback tasks. Popcorn Time supports VPNs and also connects to TrackTv and TVShow Time so users can keep track of their video watch list.


Popcorn Time is not available from the openSUSE standard repositories for obvious reasons, but users interested in trying the application can install it from software.opensuse.org via 1-Click install. Packages for CentOS and Fedora are also available from the openSUSE package service.




Popcorn Time doesn't have as many controls and configuration options as more popular multimedia applications such as Kodi or VLC. However, there are options to use a different video player already installed on your machine.





By default, torrent downloads are temporarily stored (and then removed immediately after playback) from /tmp/Popcorn-Time, though this can easily be changed from Settings.


Like most streaming and tor…