New Home With Broken Windows

broken_windows

So after years of dealing with various webhosts and obsessing over every last minute detail of my website’s WordPress installation, I finally decided to move my site to WordPress.com.

However, whenever I move the site something inevitably goes wrong. This time most of the images on my posts are broken. This was my fault for not following the instructions correctly and I’ve been in contact with WordPress and they’re assisting me in getting everything corrected. In the meantime, I hope you’ll tolerate the broken look for a little bit.

Once that situation is out of the way, then I can fully concentrate on writing and bringing you the content you deserve.

Requiem for Google+

Requiem for Google+

By now you’ve probably heard that Google is shutting down its failed attempt at a social network in Google+. Yes, your joke about how you thought it was already shut down is quite clever and original. You’re the Will Rogers of our time. Anyway, Google decided to shutter the service in the next year or so after the Wall Street Journal reported about a massive data breach which Google knew about last March. You can read more about that here, but I digress.

I’ve come not bury Google+ but to praise it. Although I haven’t used Google+ on a regular basis in quite some time, I was more fond of it than I was of Facebook or Twitter. To me, Twitter and Facebook are necessary evils in the world of content creation. If you want to get your content out, you have to post in on Facebook or Twitter if you want anybody to see it since many people’s internet routines revolve around one of those two networks. Whenever I go to one of those two services I usually groan at most of the verbal refuse that’s been posted there. That’s usually followed up with massive amounts of muting and unfollowing.

While it wasn’t designed this way by the lords of search, I found Google+ to be more about quality over quantity, more substance than style, and it was often a treat to engage in discussion on Google+. I felt that Google+ was more tech and geek-friendly without devolving into fanboy shouting matches. I could ask questions I had about Linux and get helpful and pleasant responses. I could talk about comic books without the discussion turning directly to politics. In essence, Google+ was the anti-Facebook and I will miss that from when Google+ was at its height. Sadly, like most things that aren’t Facebook, most Google+ users gave up on the network a long time ago, myself included. However, when you’ve been o the internet as long as I have, you kind of get used to your favorite services either shutting down, being bought out, or just not succeeding.

Here’s hoping the day will come again when a service succeeds where we can all be civil to each other.

Vivaldi browser 2.0 vs. Google Chrome

Vivaldi browser 2.0 vs. Google Chrome

I’ve been using Google Chrome as the main browser on my computers ever since the late lamented RockMelt browser was discontinued. Since RockMelt was based on Chromium, the underlying project that Chrome is based on, it was a natural choice to switch to Chrome. The main selling point of Chrome to me was the fact that you could sync all your bookmarks, preferences, and extensions, between devices. Since I tend to dual-boot most of my Windows devices with Linux, this allowed me to flow easily between the two operating systems.

In the past few years, I’ve fallen out of love with Chrome. I’ve become disillusioned with being so reliant on the Google ecosystem even though a lot of it is unavoidable. So I’ve been looking for alternatives. Before anyone starts, yes I know you can now sync between devices with Firefox. I do use Firefox on an almost daily basis for my writing ‘day job’ and I keep it dedicated specifically for that. This way I can have my work accounts on one browser and my personal ones on another, but I digress. So, I’ve been looking for an alternative to Chrome but so far none have really wowed me. I tried Opera and I do have it installed on most of my devices, however, while it does have its uses, such as a built-in VPN, it doesn’t have nearly the amount of extensions that Chrome has that I need in order to write.

I first tried the Vivaldi browser when it first released in 2016. At the time I really liked it but since you couldn’t sync it between devices I had no real use for it. To Vivaldi’s credit though, they did promise sync in the future. That future is now with the release of Vivaldi 2.0. While I still have Chrome installed on my devices, I’ve been using Vivaldi more and more.

The pros of Vivaldi is that I find it to be faster than Chrome and can handle Google’s own products, such as Gmail and YouTube, better than Chrome. It also doesn’t hurt that your browser activity isn’t being tracked by Google supposedly. Vivaldi still uses the same engine as Chrome but reportedly without Google’s ever-present all-seeing eye. I also find Vivaldi works better on lower-end or underpowered devices like my Acer Cloudbook that only has 2GB of RAM. I haven’t tried it on the EeePC because once again I’m having trouble finding an OS that will fit on the 4GB hard drive but that’s another post for another time. Another great Vivaldi feature is that you can use all the same extensions that you use in Chrome.

The cons of Vivaldi are few but some of them keep me occasionally using Chrome. One of the concerns I have about Vivaldi is that there is a somewhat steep learning curve in delving into Vivaldi’s many preferences. Power users should have no problem but casual internet users may have some issues that keep them from switching. However, my main concern with Vivaldi is the inability to increase font sizes on certain websites. In most other browsers you can hit Ctrl and + to increase the font size on any website you want and the browser will remember which sites you increased the font size. While you can increase the font size in Vivaldi, it’s an all or nothing kind of thing. You either have to increase the font on all websites or none of them. I realize that it’s a nitpicky concern but all my complaints about Vivaldi are nitpicks. I’m also a little disappointed in managing bookmarks. When I’m researching a post, I end up bookmarking a lot of articles that I will end up deleting later. In Chrome, I can highlight any bookmark, right-click it and Chrome will give me the option to delete it. When you right-click on some of the Vivaldi bookmarks it just opens the bookmark in a new tab. To properly delete some bookmarks in Vivaldi you need to go into the sidebar to properly remove it. Lastly, I wish there was a mobile version of Vivaldi for Android as well.

I have been using Vivaldi a lot more than Chrome since I installed Vivaldi’s latest version so I absolutely would recommend it. Just be prepared that there may be some preferences available in Chrome that are not available in Vivaldi.

UPDATE 10/18/2018: I just wanted to update this post since I’ve spent a few weeks with Vivaldi as my primary browser.

The first thing is the issue with the display size has been fixed. You can now display certain sites in whatever magnification you want and the browser will remember your settings. I’ve also figured out the bookmarks to better manage them, however, they’re not as intuitive as they are on Chrome. On the positive side, I absolutely love how customizable the themes are for Vivaldi while you’re pretty much stuck with the default Chrome theme. Did I also mention that Vivaldi works great on Linux too?

Anyway, while I do find myself occasionally going back to Chrome for some things. Vivaldi has become my main browser. If you’re technically inclined I do recommend it. However, if you’re not the techiest person in the world, I’d stick with Chrome.

UPDATE 12/13/2018: Due to synchronizations issues, I have gone back to Chrome.

The Asus 4G Surf Linux Challenge: ToriOS

The Asus 4G Surf Linux Challenge: ToriOS

Just when I think that there can’t be another Linux distro to fit on the tiny hard drive of the Asus EeePC 701 4G Surf, the Linux community surprises me.

As I’ve mentioned before, I love it when DistroWatch adds a new distro to their database. Not too long ago they added a distro called ToriOS. THis is what caught my eye about ToriOS…

ToriOS is a Debian-based distribution which is designed to work on older computers, even 32-bit machines which do not support running PAE-enabled kernels.

I thought to myself, I have an almost 10-year-old computer that’s 32-bit that doesn’t support PAE kernels. Surely, it won’t be able to fit on the EeePC. Actually, it does, with room to spare. After installing the distro, there was close to 2GB of space left. That is of course without installing it without a swap drive.

Speaking of the installation, this is not a distro for beginners. The installation took me a coupe of tries before figuring out the installer. Also, it doesn’t come with what many would consider a normal web browser. It took me a couple of more tries before I was able to figure out how to get a browser installed. Once I did, Opera btw, it was not that bad. I was able to use Gmail with little to no issue. YouTube failed miserably but that’s more the problem with the EeePC rather than the ToriOS.

If you’re more used to Ubuntu I would recommend something more like Zorin Lite or wattOS. However if you like to experiment with Linux, Tori OS makes a great addition to the Asus 4G Surf Linux Challenge family.

Trench’s adventures in Linux: Zorin OS 12 Core

Trench's adventures in Linux: Zorin OS 12 Core

As far as Linux distros go, I’ve been a fan of Zorin OS for years. I still have fond memories of using Zorin OS 5 Core for longer than I use most Linux distros. The problem was, that in my opinion, the quality of Zorin OS Core fell off in the following years. With Zorin OS Core 12, that fondness for Zorin has returned and then some.

The first benefit is that Zorin OS 12 Core is based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS edition. In the past Zorin would release distros that were either a generation behind the current Ubuntu distro or would release one that was not based on the LTS (long-term supported) distro. So in this instance, Zorin finally nailed the timing in their current distro.

The second thing that really impressed me is that they finally abandoned the AWN Dock which has been long abandoned by its own developers. In its place is what they call Zorin Desktop 2.0. According to the release announcement

We have entirely reimagined the Zorin Desktop environment in Zorin OS 12. This new version of Zorin Desktop is powered by Gnome Shell and packs an enormous variety of new features.

While it’s not as customizable as something like the XFCE desktop, it still has enough options to keep it looking fresh. As a matter of fact Zorin has three different desktop settings. You can have a Gnome 2 type appearance, a Windows type appearance and a Unity type appearance. If you like Unity on Ubuntu I recommend using Zorin instead as the desktop isn’t as torturous as Ubuntu’s.

zorin

Lastly, the last time I tried a Zorin OS Core installation, it appeared to me that it was a resource heavy distro. That has changed with OS 12 Core. Right now I have it installed on my Acer Cloudbook 14, which only has 2GB of RAM and a 1.60GHz Intel Celeron processor, and I have had no hiccups or any chugging. So if you’re looking to re-purpose and old laptop, Zorin may not be such a bad choice.

The only issue I had was that OS 12 Core cones with Chromium pre-installed as its default browser which gave me some issues. I removed that and installed regular Chrome and have had no problems since.

Zorin OS 12 Core is not only a great Linux distro for beginners and Windows users, but for intermediate Linux enthusiasts like myself.

Trench’s further adventures in Linux: Enchantment OS

enchanmentosdesktop

One of my favorite things, as a Linux fan, is to read the weekly issues of Distrowatch’s ‘Distrowatch Weekly’, and seeing what new Linux distros are being added to their database. In the August 29th issue, under the ‘Distributions added to waiting list’ section was a distro called Enchantment OS, and it was described as follows…

Enchantment OS is a Linux distribution which is based on Xubuntu LTS and designed with less technical users in mind.

Ok, so it’s billed as a beginner’s Linux distro, but it’s much more. First off, the Enchantment OS website is professional looking. Sometimes if a distro’s website is janky looking, I won’t download the distro. The only compalint I have about the website is that the distro is a straight download from Sourceforge. I’d have preferred a torrent download, but if a distro is a newer one it may not have the users to torrent. Enchantment OS also offers pre-installed USB sticks and DVDs for sale along with a paperback guide for the distro. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a distro that was so encouraging to new Linux users. I can’t offer a review on the book since I can’t afford the $30, but I’m not above taking a free review copy if Enchantment wants to send me one. (hint, hint)

After downloading the distro, I installed it onto my Acer Cloudbook 14 with its 2 GB of RAM and 32GB hard drive. I had no problems with installation as I had with some other distros like Zorin OS and Linux Lite. It’s a very nice and clean-looking distro with all the software you might need. and not a lot of unnecessary applications. After downloading all the programs I needed, that weren’t included with the distro, I still had 18 GB left on the hard drive, Compared to the 3GB I had left after the last Windows 10 update, 18 GB is plenty.

enchanmentoslogo

It boots fast, It has some great looking wallpaper choices that comes with it and, as one famous company once said. it just works. The one thing I didn’t care for was Enchantment’s Software Boutique, basically its app store. Instead of being able to search through it, you can only browse through it. However, Enchantment, in its Software Boutique, also offers you the option to download any other software manager like the Ubintu software store which I prefer. It also comes with Firefox Fast browser pre-installed, which is a really good privacy browser with the best ad and flash blocking extensions pre-installed.

If you were to sit a Windows user in front of a machine that had Enchantment OS installed on it, they should have no problem using the machine, but as with most Linux distros they’ll probably need their hands held for a few things. I would imagine that’s where the Enchantment OS book comes in.

As a regular user of Linux, I love Enchantment OS, and it is now currently my favorite distro. It comes with the XFCE desktop, and is based on the long-term supported Xubuntu 16.04, so you won’t have to do a fresh install every six months. In closing of my disjointed review, I give Enchantment OS the full Trench Reynolds’ seal of approval.

The Asus 4G Surf Linux Challenge: wattOS 10

wattos10

I almost thought about not doing the EEEpc challenge anymore. I was playing a video game and tried using the Surf to look something up about the game. The Surf was so slow to work that I thought that it’s not really a functional computer anymore. Not only is it a 9-year-old computer, but my low-end smart phone, the Moto-E, is more powerful than the first generation EEEpc. Not only that but recently, most Linux developers are only focusing on 64-bit architectures, while the 701 EEEpc has a 32-but processor.

wattos

Then the other day I was over at Distrowatch and saw that one of my favorite Linux distros for the 4G Surf had a new release recently and that would be watt OS 10. Watt OS and Zorin OS Lite have been trading the challenge crown back and forth for a couple of years now.

When I booted it for the first time I did have to use the forcepae trick to get it to boot into the desktop. While installing I once again used no swap space to get the distro to fit on the 4GB hard drive. After installing and running the updates, I still had over 800MB of space left. Unfortunately, I could not get the function keys to work correctly but that has been the case with most distros for a while now. The computer itself functions fine but by today’s standards it’s incredibly slow. While not as low as dial-up speeds it does have an issue loading modern products like GMail and Facebook.

So while wattOS is a very good lightweight distro for older computers, the Asus EEEpc 701 4G Surf is now just a historic oddity. Stay tuned however, because there will be a new Linux challenge coming shortly.

Trench’s Tech Tip: Updating Windows 10 on an Acer Cloudbook

Trench's Tech Tip: Updating Windows 10 on an Acer Cloudbook

Recently I purchased an Acer Aspire Cloudbook 14 since my regular laptop is probably not too long for this world. A great pickup if you need a cheap laptop to just browse and Facebook and stuff, or in my case writing. The problem with the Cloudbook is that it only has a 32 GB hard drive, hence the term Cloudbook since they want you to ‘live in the cloud’ as they say. However, living in the cloud doesn’t help when it comes to updating the operating system. So I’m going to share with you how I fixed a recent problem with that in order to save people some time who happen to have the same problem.

Windows 10 notified me that it was in need of an update but there wasn’t enough space on the hard drive to complete the update. However I could choose an external drive to download the temporary files to. I had a 32GB SD card inserted into the SD slot and the system recognized it but it wouldn’t let me choose the card. The trick is to format the card as NTFS instead of FAT32.

The first thing you want to do is back up anything on your SD card that you don’t want to lose. After that you click on My PC, then right-click on the SD Card and choose Format. One of the options will be for format type and you want to change that to NTFS. Once that’s done restart the update and the system will let you select the SD card as the external drive. Once the system is done updating you can delete the temporary files on the SD card.

Hopefully this will save someone from having to scroll through endless forum posts looking for the answer.

Browser plugin to erase names of mass shooters

browser-wars

From the ‘This is Possibly the Stupidest Thing I’ve Ever Heard’ Department comes a new plugin browser from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. The Chrome plugin called Zero Minutes of Fame is designed to scrub the names and images of mass killers from any website that you look at online. This is their attempt to prevent copycat crimes except I see just one flaw in their master plan, they’re preaching to the choir. If you’re already a follower of the Brady Campaign you’re probably not someone who is getting ready to commit a shooting spree so what purpose would this really serve?

As I’ve said before we should know the killers’ names because to do so would garner them even more infamy in my opinion. Not to mention that the people who give them infamy are a tiny minority of society and they’re obviously not going to install this plugin.

Also, does the Brady Campaign consider Firefox users a lost cause?

Don’t leave a comment on Facebook

nofacebook

In today’s online world Facebook is king. As a content creator I always have to keep Facebook’s quirks and idiosyncrasies in mind whenever I’m crafting one of my blog posts. Its popularity and ubiquity can not be ignored. However I think I speak for many content creators when I say if you like something that we’ve created and want to comment on it DON’T JUST LEAVE A COMMENT ON FACEBOOK. A lot of us have websites, or YouTube Channels or what have you where we’ve poured out heart and souls into our creations only to have people only comment about it on Facebook and not where are creation lies.

I get it. Everyone you know is on Facebook and that’s fine however there is no rule that says you can’t leave Facebook every once in a while. A lot of my posts have had some great discussions on Facebook but on the website it looks like no one cares and do to the fickle way that Facebook likes to close accounts those discussions could be lost forever. Not to mention that Facebook may not be around forever, just look at MySpace and Facebook is only one sparkly animated gif background away from becoming MySpace.

It’s ok to leave Facebook every once in a while. After all isn’t a walled garden just a pretty prison?