domingo, 12 de abril de 2015

Discrepancies between Jogging Apps in Firefox OS and Android

Last year, I decided to try to focus a bit more on my health and picked up jogging.

I've always liked jogging: one needs practically no equipment and it's good to lower your stress.  You know, you leave the crawlaggars behind ;-)

Run, Born, run!  It's behind you!
I said "no equipment" because many people run today with their smartphones.

I must confess that, at first, I did not like the idea of taking a phone out when I am jogging.  However, I like to listen to music while on the street.  Moreover, there are apps that can actually motivate you to keep going.  For Android, my favorite is RunKeeper.  For Firefox OS, Run-Bike-Hike is my app of choice.

Today, I decided to compare the measuring accuracy of both apps, so I took the Firefox OS and the Android phones for a 2 km walk.  I discovered that, despite activating the apps at the same time, they show different readings of the distance and pace.

This is what Run-Bike-Hike gave me on Firefox OS:
On the other hand, RunKeeper says that I walked a bit less with a slower pace:

The moral of the story is that one should never take the readings of an app too seriously.  Technology can also make mistakes.

lunes, 16 de marzo de 2015

Let Users Bear the Burden of Updates: MS Latest Windows 10 Idea

I read this article today.  Apparently, Windows 10 users will be able to choose if they want to grab updates from PCs over a private network or, more disturbingly, from the Internet.

To be honest, I don't know why the author thinks users will love this P2P "feature".  All he worries about is the --very real-- potential risk of hackers getting new toys to play with.  However, I think he missed a very significant point, one that affects clients directly.

With this P2P updating idea, Microsoft can put the burden of the downloads away from its own servers (where it should be located) and re-locate it on the machines of its customers.

This means that the customer's PC will become slower as it will serve the updates to another client.  And who pays for the upload?  If my machine is uploading, it is using the internet connection that I pay for.  In other words, I am not only letting Microsoft use my machine to relieve the burden on its servers, but also letting this abusive company use my internet connection for free.

"Yes, Microsoft, come use my resources with no benefit for me and, while you're at it, please charge me a yearly (maybe monthly) subscription to use my own computer!  I will love that!"

What kind of a deal is that?  Why should Windows users be happy about it?

The only thing I am happy about is that I DO NOT USE WINDOWS, so that this abusive company cannot reap me off so shamelessly!

miércoles, 4 de marzo de 2015

The Red Fish, a Story of Success

When I first tried out PicarOS, there was a link to a site called "Poisson Rouge".

Given the fact that PicarOS is a Linux distro that specializes on children, it was no surprise that the site had content for children.  What I did not expect was that the crazy flash games on the site were so attractive to young children.

The activities in Poisson Rouge.  Children love to discover what they do.
I mean, the activities are simple and repetitive.  Yet, young children love them.  And best of all, everything was free; Poisson Rouge subsisted selling merchandise.

One day, however, I visited the site and got a sad announcement.  Poisson Rouge enjoyed a heavy traffic, but costs were too high and the site was on the verge of closing.

I remember the pain piercing my heart like an arrow.  As an adult, and mostly as a parent, I appreciated the artistic and educational value of the activities in Poisson Rouge.  It had become part of the fun time my then two-year old daughter had been experiencing with the computer, but all the songs, dancing images, and discoveries that brought laughter to my girl were about to be gone forever.  I really felt bad. I am not exaggerating.

But how do you save a site that is condemned already? 

On March 3, 2014, I clicked on the link again, expecting a dreadful 404 error.  To my relief, the page loaded.

There was something new.

It was a message informing users of an idea to save the site.  Poisson Rouge had a chance to survive as long as enough users were willing to pay a yearly registration fee.

Yes, I know many people may think that it was the proof of absolute stupidity.  Why paying for something that was free before?  After all, similar content should be available somewhere in the vast Web, right?  Who would be dumb enough to pay?

Well, call me stupid then.

What's more, call me stupid twice: I just renewed my annual membership yesterday.

My daughter, and many children, I'm sure, are happy that the site is alive.


Does this contradict my beliefs regarding free software?  I don't know.

I am a weird kind of person.  I paid for the Mandriva Powerpack. And I did that several times.

I have paid for games in Desura, Steam, and The Humble Bundle.

I have also donated to other Linux distros and projects. I even donated to be able to install a beta of Elive.

Heck, I will pay for Elive when it's finally ready.

Yet, I cannot pay a subscription to MS Office or Windows.  Why?

Because I don't believe in those products.

Microsoft lost my trust long ago.

sábado, 21 de febrero de 2015

My Four-Year-Old Daughter Rejected Windows 10

Eimi, my four year old daughter, has interacted with Linux-powered computers since she was born.  I still remember those nights in which I would pace up and down in my office, holding her and rocking her on my arms while the Linux desktop played music.

Then, Eimi grew and started enjoying her own room and, rather precociously, discovered how to use desktops and laptops. I will never forget her first encounter with PicarOS, the Linux distro for children!

Well, it turns out that the failing HD on her desktop finally went dead.  I took the machine to my favorite repair center to have the drive replaced.  In the meantime, I let Eimi use my desktop with OpenMandriva.

The technician called some days later, so I went to pick the machine up.


He had installed Windows to it.  And, to make matters worse, Windows 8.1, I thought.

I did not protest because they did not charge me for the favor (very weird), so I took the computer home.  On the way, I was trying to decide if I should keep Windows 8.1 or not.  It turned out it was Windows 10 TP.

I went democratic about the issue of keeping this OS.  So I asked my wife and she said NO.  She gave up on Windows when she bought her first laptop, a Toshiba satellite pre-installed with Vista.  Now she owns a Dell that came pre-installed with Ubuntu and became a Mageia dual boot.

Then I asked Eimi if she wanted to use her computer with Windows.  Her answer was memorable and I have it recorded on video:  "Gross.  I don't want a computer with Windows Yuck.  Gross!"

That settled the fate of the Redmond OS, which was wiped out and replaced by PicarOS Diego 2014 to the delight of my daughter.  That Linux distro for children simply keeps getting better and better.

After that, I installed Mageia 4 to dual-boot.  Yes, she regularly uses those two distros despite some people still claim that Linux is too difficult for adult users.  Go figure!

One thing is sure: I will never forget Eimi's happily yelling "My computer is back!" when she saw she could dual boot PicarOS and Mageia.

domingo, 1 de febrero de 2015

I Messed Up GRUB2... What a Happy Mistake!

Yesterday, I was using my daughter's desktop computer, which is a Mageia 4/PicarOS dual-boot, when I noticed something that has happended before: after running an update of packages, Mageia changes GRUB2 and erases the entry to boot PicarOS.

I am not very GRUB2 literate.  Last time that it happened, I solved the problem with GRUB Customizer, but it wouldn't help this time.

I tried the Mageia GRUB tool in the Control Center to no avail.

Then I installed the KDE package that lets one configure GRUB2... and that's when I messed up: trying to recover the PicarOS boot entry, I seemed to have installed a useless boot entry on the MBR and the computer, logically, could neither boot PicarOS nor Mageia.

I looked for the Mageia 4 install DVD to run the rescue tool but, since I could not find it, I ran the rescue tools from the Mageia 3 install DVD instead.  It did not work; GRUB2 could not be rescued.

Then I ran a Mageia 3 Live DVD and booted the machine to re-install GRUB2 with Mageia Control Center.  No luck, either, but I found the Mageia 4 install DVD.

Given my little knowledge of GRUB2, my only option at that point was to reinstall the system.  The thing was that I did not want to spend a couple of hours re-configuring the computer.

I ran the installation wizard and it asked me if I wanted a clean install or an upgrade.  I suddenly felt inspired and decided to take a risk.  Normally, I go for a clean install, but I selected UPGRADE instead.

The process lasted less than 5 minutes and Mageia came back to life with a resurrected GRUB2 entry for PicarOS.

But here's the best part. Prior to all this, the computer's Mageia OS had a problem that I had not been able to solve: as ffmpeg could not be updated with the tainted packages, it could not play certain videos for my daughter.

After coming back to life, Mageia told me that no repos were configured. I checked and, sure enough, the install wizard had erased all the repos.  I added them and BINGO!  the missing ffmpeg tainted package was found.

Now my daughter can see her videos again.

Some mistakes bring about happy results after all.


jueves, 29 de enero de 2015

From Opera to... Vivaldi!

Yes, the name is familiar.  Vivaldi was that KDE tablet that never saw the light of day, but now Vivaldi is the name of a beautiful browser that runs on Linux.

When I say "beautiful,"  I refer to the transitions and interesting functions that identify this Chromium-based browser as a different species.

According to the story embedded in the technical preview, part of the team that developed Opera decided that they wanted to create a browser for their friends, one that puts the user first and, following this music, they created Vivaldi:

Vivaldi TP running on Mageia
After giving it a run, I can say that Vivaldi is like listening to "The Four Seasons": This browser is packed with the dreams, hopes , and expectations of a developer team that want to give the world a powerful net surfing tool with a human side.

The browser offers an emphasis on aesthetics, interesting options for customization, note-taking space, a welcoming community, and it promises future mail functionality and add-ons. 

Tabs relocated on the left side, title bar changes color depending on page loaded

I have to admit that I found it somewhat slow but, in general, I had a pleasant experience using the technical preview of Vidaldi.  Now I want to hear the symphony once it is finished. ;)

martes, 13 de enero de 2015

Firefox says Hello! on PCLinuxOS and OpenMandriva

The new update to Firefox 35 is available on PCLinuxOS and OpenMandriva.

I have been expecting this update because it includes Hello, the new video-call feature from Mozilla.

For those of us who don't use Facebook, SpyMe, er, Skype, or are not satisfied with Google Hangouts, Firefox Hello stands as an interesting option to communicate using video.

Oh, and it says that you do not even need to use Firefox... Only sharing the link is enough. I have to try that.

The new MS Spartan browser, with its so-much-acclaimed-as-modern technologies (that basically bind you to MS cloud), should learn something.