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Showing posts from November, 2014

Mint-y Freshness - Linux Style

Linux Mint, which is what I am using as I write this, has a new version available in time for the holidays with quite a few tweaks and improvements to the current version 17 release. The new release is 17.1 "Rebecca", and brings built in Compiz support to the MATE desktop version, for one thing. "Linux Mint 17.1 is a long term support release which will be supported until 2019. It comes with updated software and brings refinements and many new features to make your desktop even more comfortable to use", says Clement Lefebvre, Linux Mint Team. Fans of Cinnamon and Mate are in for a treat, as both desktop environments are the latest, at 2.4 and 1.8 respectively. The greatest "feature", however, is the promised easy upgrade path from Mint 17. Since the Mint team is no longer mirroring Ubuntu with base updates, and sticking to the stable 14.04 LTS release, updates should be much smoother. Of course, the improved update manager is rather great too, hav…

A Doctor Who Viewing Guide

Screenrant has an excellent viewing guide for those of you that have heard of Doctor Who, but may have never seen it (or partially watched a random episode out of context). Doctor Who is something of a national treasure in the UK since the 1960's, a BBC show originally meant to foster an interest in science for children (as well as scare the bejesus out of them from time to time). It has grown into a bit of a world-wide phenomenon, particularly since it's reintroduction in 2005. It's alternately a show for older kids that adults can enjoy, or a show for adults that kids can still enjoy. The Doctor travels through time and space in the TARDIS,  an incredibly advanced time machine that looks (on the outside) like an old fashioned UK Policeman's Telephone box. Here's a quick primer, from the article: Doctor Who is the question, The Doctor is what he’s refered to as, Doctor is what people call him.

Doctor Who is always written as Doctor Who, never Dr. Who.

The Doctor has…

Holy Cow - Now THAT's A Gaming Rig

A German gamer, with perhaps stereotypical Teutonic precision, has built a really impressive home rig so he can get immersive with Elite:Dangerous, a new space sim. Check out the CNET story below for some video goodness. Markus Boesen, who has been playing the beta, has built himself a custom rig, inspired by the German Elite: Dangerous community, that transforms his game station into the cockpit we all dream about, with the windshield displayed across three screens using three TH681 BenQ Full HD 3D DLP projectors to make it so.

The setup also includes a custom touch interface dashboard, comprising three Treckstor Ventos 10.1 SurfTabs, running on Roccat Power-Grid software; voice commands available using VoiceAttack software; head tracking and gesture control using TrackIR and Leap Motion respectively; a Saitek X52 Pro HOTAS joystick and Logitech G19 keyboard; a Crossfire2x Sapphire RADEON R9 290 Tri -X OC video card with AMD Eyefinity, resolution 5,760x1,080; and sound via a Logitech …

Maybe Hold Off Upgrading Your 2012 Nexus 7 To Android Lollipop For Now

I have a Nexus 7 tablet, which I enjoy very much. It currently runs Android "KitKat" 4.4, and I have been waiting for the new version, Android 5 "Lollipop" to become available as an update. I have the 2013 version of the Nexus, but there have been more than a few posts concerning the 2012 version of the Nexus 7 not handling the Lollipop update very gracefully (see the comments after this upgrade article). If you own a 2012 Nexus 7, you may want to hold off a little to see if this gets sorted out.
It's unclear yet if these issues are present after upgrading the 2013 version, as the upgrade has not "rolled out" to all users yet. I will probably wait for a couple of weeks myself, till the smoke clears.

Star Wars Trailer In Front Of The Hobbit?

The rumoured Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens trailer may be shown before the upcoming final Hobbit movie this December. The trailer - more of an atmospheric teaser, if the reported descriptions are accurate - has been the subject of quite a bit of buzz, since the principal photography wrapped on next Christmas' planned return to "A Galaxy Far, Far Away." And no, that's not it below... This story got around the net pretty quickly before the same site, Screen Rant, claimed that “there’s a very strong likelihood it will play’ before the The Hobbit, but that Disney has “bigger plans” for the trailer. And indeed, it would be hard to believe that the trailer would appear out of nowhere without some notice somewhere, but if it did, that would really be cool, much like how Star Wars practically appeared out of nowhere in 1977 and blew us all away.
TechGuruDaily


Apple OS X Yosemite WiFi Connectivity Issues

OSX Daily - A number of Mac users who were experiencing wi-fi connection difficulties with OS X Yosemite have found the problems continue to persist after updating to OS X 10.10.1. The reasons for this are not entirely clear given that OS X 10.10.1 has aimed specifically at improving wi-fi reliability, but some of the traditional troubleshooting steps still apply and may help alleviate the issue.

If you’re experiencing a dropping wi-fi connection in OS X Yosemite after updating to 10.10.1, we recommend following the steps outlined [in the link] below, as well as wi-fi troubleshooting tricks detailed here.

OSX Daily


Chrome 39 And Facebook Photo Upload

So Linux Mint 64-bit just updated Google Chrome to version 39 this evening and now I can't use it to post photos to Facebook? It seems to be a browser issue, as I can still post normally from Firefox. I noticed it is the 64-bit version of Chrome (as one might expect with a 64-bit OS), otherwise not sure what the problem is. I have not tried a reboot yet. That always works for the IT Crowd, though...

SO glad to report this sorted itself out after a restart! Google today released Chrome 39 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. The biggest addition in this release is 64-bit support for OS X, which first arrived in Chrome 38 beta. Unlike on Windows, where 32-bit and 64-bit versions will both continue to be available (users currently have to opt-in to use the 64-bit release), Chrome for Mac is now only available in 64-bit. Slashdot 

ChooseMyPC Build Generator For Gaming PCs

This is a nice idea, and seemed to work correctly on the different configurations I tried. You set a build cost limit for your gaming computer project, and make a couple of additional selections, then the web page comes up with a build list complete with links to parts sources. The limited options available to guide the build many be an issue for some - it's strictly geared to a gaming PC. It looks like several sources are in play - Amazon, NewEgg, etc - and the links all worked (although there were some redirects involved). A lot of the fun of a home build is figuring out the component list, but if you need a quick and dirty list for a project, this is a good place to start.
For example, an $500 build with an optical drive is listed below in text form, sans links.
ChooseMyPC
CPU: Intel Pentium G3258 3.2GHz Dual-Core Processor  ($59.99 @ Micro Center)
Motherboard: Asus H81M-D PLUS Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard  ($44.49 @ Newegg)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1866 Me…

Physically Cleaning A Desktop Computer

A desktop PC is an efficient dust magnet, and you should definitely look into cleaning your computer's fans and internals from time to time. Yes, even in your nice, clean home. The main reason is that heat is the enemy of electronic components, and by keeping fans and the like clean you allow the computer to work more efficiently and to probably last longer. I'm not suggesting you use the vacuum cleaner hose attachment, though - that's NOT a good idea, because of the potential for a lot of static buildup during the process (another enemy of electronic components). 
HowToGeek has a detailed guide on how to take care of business, though.

Those Expensive HDMI Cables

Gizmo's Freeware - If you're thinking of buying a new TV, games console etc, you'll also probably be needing a HDMI cable to hook it up to your TV or monitor.  But look online, or indeed in any shop, for such a cable and the variety of prices are bewildering.  As I write this, Amazon.com will sell me a basic 2 metre cable for $5.99.  Or I can choose a "better" cable for anything up to $1494.75.  What surprises me most about the $1400 cable is that Amazon "only" has 3 left in stock.  
Do people actually buy these things?  Are they worth the money?  Is the picture quality any better?  Has anyone actually done some comparative tests?
Actually, someone has actually done some tests.  And no, the expensive cables don't perform noticeably better than the bargain-priced ones. Read the rest here

Hey, How About A Six BILLION Dollar Man Movie?

The Six Million Dollar Man was a popular TV show in the 70's featuring the exploits of one Colonel Steve Austin, a test pilot/astronaut who was horribly injured in a crash. The government replaced his damaged limbs and other organs with cybernetic parts (at a cost of $6 million), and thereafter he became a kind of super secret agent. With inflation and so on, that cost is now $6 billion and it looks like a movie will be made possibly featuring Mark Wahlberg. The novel upon which the TV show was based (and to some degree the pilot TV movie) had a dark aspect to it, as Col Austin tried to come to terms with being a cyborg without his consent - but the show itself was mostly a slightly campy action-adventure offering. No word on what approach the proposed new movie will take to the material, although I'm guessing "darker", like most movie fare these days.
TGDaily

The World Record DARPA 1THz Computer

ExtremeTech - DARPA, the US military’s R&D division, has been awarded a Guinness World Record for creating the world’s fastest solid-state chip, clocked at one terahertz — or 1,000 gigahertz, if that’s easier to digest. DARPA’s chip handily beats out the previous record holder, which was only capable of a paltry 850GHz. Computers and radio systems that operate up in the terahertz range have some very interesting and powerful properties, from the creation of hand-held tricorders and security scanners, through to wireless networks that are hundreds of times faster than 2.4 and 5GHz WiFi.
ExtremeTech

YouTube And 60 fps Video

Since October 30th, YouTube now allows videos to stream at 60 frames per second rather than the "traditional" 30 fps. Make Tech Easier has a nice overview of the why and wherefore of the upgraded capability, but to be perfectly honest, I don't really see the difference between 30 and 60 fps - at least in the examples given (which I did view in the Chrome browser as suggested). I'm sure it's there, but either my vision is not what it was or the difference is very subtle. Now, I have previously watched the first "Hobbit" movie in a theater shown at 48 fps rather than 24 fps, and I definitely did see the difference there, so not sure what that proves...
Despite the massive success of the 30 FPS model, it has its downfall in high-speed scenes. You can still notice some judder which your brain processes as a blur. We’re no longer using film, which requires rigid standards for the rate at which the film will flow through mechanical cylinders. Instead, we h…

Chip And PIN Or Chip And Signature?

Kerbs On Security goes over the two main methods of credit card security using an embedded chip in the card itself (which are not yet widely available in the USA, although prevalent in Europe and other parts of the world). The United States is the last of the G20 nations to move to more secure chip-based cards. Other countries that have made this shift have done so by government fiat mandating the use of chip-and-PIN. Requiring a PIN at each transaction addresses both the card counterfeiting problem, as well as the use of lost or stolen cards.Here in the States, however, the movement to chip-based cards has evolved overwhelmingly toward the chip-and-signature approach. Naturally, if your chip-and-signature card is lost or stolen and used fraudulently, there is little likelihood that a $9-per-hour checkout clerk is going to bat an eyelash at a thief who signs your name when using your stolen card to buy stuff at retailers. Nor will a signature card stop thieves from using a co…

The SpaceShip Two Crash

Pioneering in any field can be a costly affair; the risk/reward challenge is always there. Whether it's a matter of time, money or sometimes even the lives of our fellow humans, most of the astonishing things we seem to take for granted today often have a high cost associated with them along the way to final acceptance and integration. On the more cutting-edge technologies like human space travel, it's more obvious because we are still at the beginning of this daunting pursuit, even after some 50 years of effort - and the physical danger is still very present.
The latest casualty occurred in Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two program, where a mid air explosion led to the death of one of the two person crew. SpaceShip Two is carried aloft by conventional means to an altitude of about 50,000 feet where it is released and then flies into orbit under it's own rocket power. The explosion reportedly occurred after it engaged it's own motor. The pilots ejected, but one died…