Showing posts from March, 2017

Unsolicited Question: 64 GB microSD exFAT error in Linux Part 3

Continued from Unsolicited Question: 64 GB microSD exFAT error in Linux Part 2

 openSUSE and exFAT
The software packages for supporting exFAT are not available on the default repositories for openSUSE 42.x. However, you can install the fuse-exfat and exfat-utils software packages from the site. Installing the exfat-utils package using the 1-Click install file also installs the fuse-exfat package as a dependency, and vice-versa.

Interestingly enough, there is a kernel driver for exFAT that doesn't use the FUSE system to mount and access FAT filesystems available on openSUSE's online software package repository. However, I haven't tested the exfat-nofuse software package since the exfat-utils and fuse-exfat packages perform their functions quite adequately.

Debian 8 Jessie and Ubuntu use the same packages as openSUSE and Fedora. You can install exfat-utils and fuse-exfat packages from the default repositories for both distributions.

Garmin Connect app for Android and SMS authentication

A recent update to the Garmin Connect app for Android resets user information on your smartphone and adds SMS authentication. After the app update, launching the Garmin Connect app requires users to log in using their Garmin account and go through a now-familiar SMS authentication process.

Unfortunately, the developers haven't quite perfected the 2-factor authentication process for the app. You are prompted to provide a mobile number after you input your username and password for the Garmin service. However, once the SMS from Garmin is received and you dutifully check the SMS, the app logs you out and you have to sign in again, which means you go through the same mobile number authentication screen in a loop.

When you switch to a different app, say the Messages app for Android to take note of Garmin's SMS, the Garmin Connect app automatically logs you out your already inputted username and password. The developers probably did this to add an unnecessary layer of security to th…

Quick Review: Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 Wireless Earbuds Part 3

Continued from Quick Review: Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 Wireless Earbuds Part 2

If you're planning to purchase the BackBeat Go 2 (or get it from an employee catalog), then consider the following:
1. At $99.00, the BackBeat Go 2 isn't cheap, which means losing it isn't a joke. As innovative as the necklace design is, it's very easy for a speeding purse snatcher to pluck it from your ears and disappear in the next alleyway. If you're used to having your earphones anchored to your smartphone, I don't recommend walking in a crowd or tourist trap with the BackBeat Go 2. Perhaps Plantronics should have included a clip for users wary of losing this 99.00 Bluetooth headset.
2. The BackBeat Go 2 isn't designed for physical activity. You can arguably use it for power walking, but it may fall off if you decide to use it while swishing around your kettlebells or kissing your groin while performing yoga postures.

3. The micro USB cable isn't proprietary despite how t…

Quick Review: Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 Wireless Earbuds Part 2

Continued from Quick Review: Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 Wireless Earbuds Part 1

Techs who have worked with Bluetooth know that Bluetooth pairing is the easy part. It's the reconnecting that becomes an issue later in the life of the Bluetooth product. Thus far, the BackBeat Go 2 handily reconnects to the Lumia 650 and Moto G4 Plus after disconnecting or powering down.

The BackBeat Go 2 has a theoretical battery life of 4.5 hours for playing audio, which is average for earbuds since their batteries are extremely small. Talk time is slightly longer at 5 hours, which isn't an essential metric for users like me who use their mobile device primarily for listening to audiobooks, podcasts, and music. 
Many ignorant audio snobs (and tech review sites) always forget that audio devices, like most consumer electronics, are always dependent on user taste and preference. No product is universal despite all the marketing claims and ludicrous hyperbole from "writers" at CNET and PCWO…

Quick Review: Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 Wireless Earbuds Part 1

Despite years of writing Bluetooth technical documentation for Linux and consumer electronics, I've had horrible experience with Bluetooth headsets and adapters in general. From Bluetooth version 2.x dongles back in the day, Windows 8's obtuse interface, the iPad's pointless implementation, Windows Phone 8.1's unreliable support for the standard, Fedora/openSUSE releases with buggy Bluetooth stacks, Fitbit's pathetic syncing process, Garmin's inconsistent hardware support, and finally a disastrous Jabra Play Go that died within a year despite hardly any use, I can help users with Bluetooth but don't rely on it myself.

However, my company's employee point catalog included the Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 wireless earbuds, which has had mixed reviews for design and functionality. My accumulated employee points allowed me to get either a wired, reliable headphone or once again risk a Bluetooth headset. Now, Plantronics actually has a newer BackBeat Go 3 in th…

Unsolicited Question: 64 GB microSD exFAT error in Linux Part 2

Continued from Unsolicited Question: 64 GB microSD exFAT error in Linux Part 1

If you prefer to use a microSD card reader and copy files directly to an exFAT formatted microSD card or storage device, install exFAT software packages for your Linux distribution.

To install exFAT support in Fedora 25 Gnome 3:
dnf search exfat dnf install exfat-utils fuse-exfat

Once the software packages are installed, you can mount and manage files directly on the storage using a file manager such as Files or PCMANFM.

Note: If you're running CentOS, you may need to add the RPM Fusion Free Update repository before you can install the exfat-utils and fuse-exfat packages.

Continued in Unsolicited Question: 64 GB microSD exFAT error in Linux Part 3

Apps and reading on the Kindle Fire HD 8 Part 2

Continued from Apps and reading on the Kindle Fire HD 8 Part 1

3. OneDrive - If you prefer not to access your servers over a LAN and abhor using the micro USB cable, then you can move files to your Kindle Fire HD 8 using OneDrive instead. The OneDrive version available on the Amazon Appstore is the same as the version on Google Play, so it's certainly an option if you own a Windows PC or an Android tablet and want to exchange files with your Fire.

4. Xodo PDF Reader and Editor / Adobe Acrobat Reader - Xodo PDF Reader is a reliable and lightweight PDF viewer, and a good alternative to the long in the tooth Adobe Acrobat Reader for Android. Both can handle large file PDFs on the Fire HD 8.

5. OneNote - If you're the type to take notes while reading, then OneNote is good for collecting screenshots and taking text snippets when needed.

6. Flipboard

7. IMDb

8. Perfect Viewer ($2.99) / Comics Manga Reader - Perfect Viewer is an excellent Android app for reading scanned out-of-print …

Apps and reading on the Kindle Fire HD 8 Part 1 

Although the tablet market is shrinking thanks to user dependency on 5.5" and larger smartphones, consumers can still benefit from affordable midsize screen devices such as the Kindle Fire HD 8, which are great for magazines and books. Although the Fire HD 8 isn't recommended as your primary Android productivity device, it's perfect if you read regularly or have a large collection of digital comic books, magazines, and PDFs of user manuals or scans of old books such as those found in

Selections from the Amazon Android Appstore and Amazon Underground
Talking about apps is tricky when it comes to Amazon's tablet products because it really depends on why you bought the Fire HD 8. Users expecting a productivity tablet comparable to the Samsung Galaxy or ASUS ZenPad series will no doubt complain regarding lack of access to Google Play Store. For productivity users, even the sum total of apps from Amazon's Android Appstore and their dedicated free repositor…

Toshiba Canvio II NTFS driver for macOS

Ok, so the company Toshiba isn't doing very well, but that doesn't change the fact that Toshiba makes pretty reliable storage products, which include their Canvio series portable hard drives. Having owned a Canvio I 500 GB portable hard drive, which still runs after more than 6 years, I purchased a blue Canvio II 3 TB portable hard drive to supplement my Linux servers and Surface Pro 4. The Canvio II includes a version of NTI Backup Now and Tuxera NTFS driver for macOS, which means you should ideally be able to use the shiny hard drive for macOS or Windows 10.

Unfortunately, users who plan to purchase the Canvio II for use with macOS and Windows machines at the same time might be disappointed. The Canvio II I purchased was manufactured and released in late 2016, but the Tuxera NTFS driver included in the portable hard drive is version 2014, which doesn't support macOS 10.11.x - 10.12.

Note: An updated and well-maintained Macbook Air would be running macOS 10.12.x.

Since mos…

Extracting and reusing PDF pages using CorelDraw X8 Part 2

Continued from Extracting and reusing PDF pages using CorelDraw X8 Part 1

2. Add text and annotations.

3. Resize dimensions of the PDF.

4. Remove, erase, or hide parts of the imported PDF page. When a PDF is imported as Curves, you can Ungroup the objects and use tools such as the Crop ToolEraserTool or Knife Tool for minute edits.

You can even delete text that were converted to nodes cleanly without affecting the underlying background or surrounding graphics. Note, however, that if the PDF page is graphics-intensive or uses extremely complex illustrations, CorelDraw may take a moment to convert the PDF page to node objects.

5. Adjust or change colors for parts of the PDF page.

After any editing is complete on the PDF page, you can then export the extracted PDF page as a new PDF page by clicking File > Export or File > Publish to PDF.

Extracting and reusing PDF pages using CorelDraw X8 Part 1

CorelDraw X8, as with previous releases, fully supports PDF files. As long as the PDF is not encrypted or locked with a password, you can extract pages directly into CorelDraw. You can even reuse PDF pages and make them smaller, convert them to bitmaps, or annotate them before re-exporting them to a new PDF file.

This article uses CorelDraw X8 on a Surface Pro 4.

Extracting pages from a PDF
To extract pages from a PDF:

1. On a new .cdr document, click File > Import. Select a PDF file, and then click Import.

2. Select Text or Curves. Select Text if you want text from the original PDF to be retained as text that can be selected. Use Curves if you want to reduce file size or you want to prevent readers from selecting or copying text from the PDF.

Input a PDF page number to import, and then click OK.

3. If the PDF uses embedded or specific fonts, CorelDraw suggests fonts on your PC to replace those included on the PDF.

4. Click once on the workspace to place the PDF page on the documen…

Alternative music, video, and PDF apps for the Lumia 650

The Lumia 650 is an entry-level smartphone with a modest Snapdragon 212 processor and 1 GB of RAM. It's not a bad phone in itself but really only designed for Windows 10 Mobile fans, considering that budget Android alternatives from manufacturers such as Honor and Vivo carry robust processors and considerably more RAM.

Due to its hardware limitations and Windows 10 Mobile issues regarding reading external storage, users can install lightweight apps instead, particularly for playing back videos, podcasts, and music stored on the micro SD.

The following apps have been tested with the Lumia 650 and an inserted 64 GB micro SD card:

1. Xodo PDF - As noted in a previous article, Adobe Reader for Windows 10 Mobile doesn't work very well for various reasons, one of which is more likely hardware requirements. Xodo PDF is a worthy alternative and features tabbed PDF viewing and annotation. Moreover, unlike Adobe Reader, it doesn't crash when attempting to load heavy PDFs.

2. Acast -…

Unsolicited Question: 64 GB microSD exFAT error in Linux Part 1

Q: I can't copy files to my Samsung 64 GB microSD card. I get an error. How do I copy files to the 64 GB microSD card using Linux?

Some MicroSD cards larger than 32 GB from manufacturers such as Samsung and SanDisk are preformatted using exFAT. Depending on the setup of your Linux configuration or distribution, accessing a 64 GB microSD card using a microSD card adapter through Linux displays an error indicating that the file format is unsupported.

There are several ways to workaround this issue from your Linux distribution. However, arguably the easiest solution is to insert the 64 GB microSD card to a supported mobile device such as the Kindle Fire HD 8 or Moto G4 Plus and connect it to your Linux system. The system mounts both the Internal memory and external microSD card, and you can start copying files directly to the 64 GB microSD.

Note: Copying huge files to a microSD card using a microSD card adapter is generally faster. However, newer and higher speed class cards should ex…

Notes on Fedora 25 Gnome 3 on the Acer Aspire ES 11

For users who require a Linux notebook to supplement their Linux or FreeBSD network, they can opt for the affordable Acer Aspire ES 11. Although the hardware on the Acer ES 11 (ES1-132-C685) is modest in comparison to ultraportables, the system can handle modern Linux distributions and most network tasks thanks to an Ethernet port and the Wireless AC chipset.

The dimensions are larger than a netbook and comparable to the Macbook and Surface Pro 4. The ES 11, thanks to Intel's more recent processors, is actually thinner than the Toshiba NB520, despite coming with an HDMI and Ethernet port. More importantly, the 2 GB DDR3L embedded RAM can be expanded up to 8 GB.

Note: For additional details regarding installing Linux distributions on the Acer ES1-132-C685, refer to The Acer ES1-132, Linux, UEFI, and Secure Boot. 

This quick overview of Fedora 25 Gnome 3 involves the Acer ES1-132 with 6 GB of DDR3L RAM. The hardware specifications of the Acer ES ES1-132 is as follows:

Intel Celeron N…