miércoles, 28 de octubre de 2015

OpenMandriva Forums

I received an email about a new tool for OpenMandriva forums today.  It made me curious, so I visited the forums and discovered that I had forgotten to join the forums!

I signed in quickly to see the new tool and, whatever it is, this new tool makes the interaction great.  Its clean and modern appearance reminded me of the interface of Google+

This also caught my eye:


I also gave the OpenMandriva Games page a try and found the proposal interesting despite the games they have are not the ones I play.  I guess it would be great to be able to play Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation again, but Steam is doing a wonderful job to satisfy my occasional gaming needs.

I must try to catch up with what the folks at OpenMandriva are doing...

domingo, 25 de octubre de 2015

History, the World, and KDE: Discovering Marble

Since I migrated to Linux in 2010, there have been two constants.  The first one is, of course, adaptation to new programs.  The second one, the question on whether Gnome is better than KDE.

I recently participated in a survey on Google+ to that effect and, thanks to the survey, I remembered my experience with KDE.

I like KDE not because I think it is superior than other DEs, but because I find its flexibility very convenient for my workflow.  The first Linux distro that I tried was Kubuntu, but never installed it and became a Mandriva 2009 user.  Needless to say, I was using KDE then.

Today, most of the distros I use have KDE, but I also use LXDE (with PicarOS) and Enlightenment (Elive).

Although I felt satisfied, I was missing Google Earth, which I recently had discovered and, those days, only ran on Windows.

KDE's option was Marble.
This is the globe that greets you when you first open Marble.

Marble's OpenStreet map. 

However, I saw it as a very humble substitute for Google Earth, so, when Google Earth became available on Linux, I forgot about Marble... Until yesterday.

I did not know that one could load new maps for Marble and that made all the difference.  With Marble, I can now visualize the conception people had of the world in 1492, before America made it to the map.
Behaim globe, 1492.  The oldest cartographic representation of the Earth known
Behaim globe, 1492.  You can see sea monsters, but America is NOT there.
You can also see the the historical progression of the charting of America:
Cantino's map (1502).  America was rather small back then.

Schagen's globe (1689).  California was an island, the South Sea to the left of Central America!
 For me, these are irreplaceable jewels.

To download them , simply open Marble and press Ctrl+N (or go the the Menu, File, download Maps.  You can get many more maps of the Earth...or the Moon... or of other planets and their satellites.

viernes, 16 de octubre de 2015

Nostalgic Gaming

It seems that Eimi, my now 5 year-old daughter, developed a taste for Dragon Ball Z Kai.

For me, it was surprising.  She even asked me to buy two Goku and a Freezer figures to play.

Then, I remembered there was an old Dragon Ball Z SNES ROM.  I used to play lots of those ROMs in emulators when I used Windows.

I found a Windows ZSNES emulator and the ROM and tested them with WINE.

They worked.
WINE running the DBZ ROM, PCLinuxOS
We had a lot of fun playing together.

miércoles, 14 de octubre de 2015

The Great Paradox of Openness

Yesterday I went to a forum that was organized by the university where I work.  Since the title was "Freedom of Speech, Information Access and New Technologies" I decided to attend because I thought I could learn something about FLOSS.

The talks, however, were more about legal aspects of the government apparatus and the availability of information for regular citizens.

Some interesting points where discussed, such as classified information, privacy of government employees, and the legal framework to grant access of information to communicators.

Something happened when the second speaker attempted to start her speech: she got stuck and could not figure out how to open her presentation because the laptop, had LibreOffice installed.

A bit in a panic, she addressed the audience: "Does anyone know how to use Open Software?"  For two or three seconds, silence fell on the auditorium like a heavy curtain.

That was my cue.  I sprang up and from my seat at the very back and walked confidently to the front and onto the podium.  Slowly, I moved the pointer to "Slide show" and clicked on "Start from first slide".

The speaker showed a smile of absolute relief to me as she thank me.

I went to back to my seat and that could have been the end of the story, but the most paradoxical event happened when she, whose talk was on access to information, stressed the importance of saving government documents using open formats. (!?!)

I mean, this young woman showed evident command of her data and was, in no way, an incompetent speaker.  The sad reality was that, however persuasive her words were, they contrasted sharply with the way in which her speech started.  How can you advocate open formats and, at the same time, ignore how to use LibreOffice?

She redeemed herself, nevertheless.  When she finished her talk, she closed her presentation and repeated the simple process to open the presentation of the speaker that was coming next.

That was good.

domingo, 11 de octubre de 2015

Wishful Thinking

Time is flying.  It will be Christmas pretty soon.

So, I thought about gifts I would like to get for myself.  Yes, that is perhaps mere wishful thinking, but I guess I can indulge in some brief daydreaming.

Let's see...

If I go modest, a Raspberry Pi would be my first choice for a self-gift.  Or maybe an Asus Chromebox.

Now, if I can expand the scope... I would definitely buy myself a Steam Machine!  That is weird as I am no gamer and have never owned a gaming console in my life, but I enjoy computer games and I feel thankful because Valve brought many entertaining hours to my Linux computers... I suspect my daughter will claim this gift for herself :D

A new desktop would also be nice.  Mine is so old that my KDE-based distros are beginning to run slow.

Now, if I can really, really aim high (as in high-end), I will go for the mythical ZaReason's Chimera 2 laptop!

OK, that's enough of my frivolous indulgence ;-)  Back to work!

sábado, 10 de octubre de 2015

Password Hell...Again!

Passwords are, without a doubt, a convenient derivation from the security device from ancient times: token showing.  Yes, in very old civilizations, to recognize a member of a particular clan, a token had to be shown.

Tokens, however, were not safe; one can lose the object and, therefore, be taken as an intruder and a potential menace (with all the undesirable consequences for the person).

Thus, it was only logical to substitute the material object by a coded word that, as everyone knows, has the particularity that it is sometimes difficult to remember...especially if you have many passwords to remember and financial institutions ask you to change them at least once a month.

In my multi-boot ZaReason Strata, I have seven different Linux distros.  Somehow I managed to remember the different user and root passwords for each one of them until I updated OpenMandriva Lx 2014.1 to 2014.2 (the Scion).  Maybe because of stress, or aging, or whatever reason, the password for OpenMandriva Lx 2014.2 would not stick to my memory.  I had to reinstall the Scion twice because I forgot the user password and ended up locked out from my account.

Well, I just finished reinstalling it AGAIN.  Yes, that makes it three times.   The funny thing is that, the former two times, I was sure to have chosen a password that I could remember easily.  It seems that it was easier to forget it.

Then I read this comic strip.

I tested this human-friendly method and it really works!  Simple and effective.

One can but imagine the future problems if they actually substitute passwords with facial gestures, secret taps on touch surfaces, or biometrics.  Scary.

jueves, 1 de octubre de 2015

On the on and off relationship between FirefoxOS and WhatsApp

Good-bye, ConnectA2! 
Yesterday, my FirefoxOS gave me some bad news: ConnectA2, my chosen app to access the WhatsApp network was discontinued and that I should wait for a new soon-to-be ready app called "ConnectedIM".

ConnectA2 was not a perfect app.  Sometimes it would fail to connect and, after an update, it would constantly receive messages from +server saying "Unable to parse the resource".  This messages were annoying, specially because one could several during a day.  I once got 11 in two hours!

It also lacked certain characteristics from the real WhatsApp which, however, was never a problem for me.  I mean, I was conscious ConnectA2 was NOT WhatsApp.  So, expecting absolute equivalence was foolish.  After all, I was using a FirefoxOS phone, not an android phone.

LoquiIM...very similar to KDE's Kopete

Once that ConnectA2 got seriously broken, I had to remove it and started using LoquiIM.  This app lets one configure accounts on Facebook, Google Hangouts and, of course, WhatsApp.  I only used it to access the WhatsApp network and found it quite efficient.  However, every time WhatsApp released an app update, LoquiIM would fail.  Of course, I was then using a developer phone.  When I got the commercial FirefoxOS phone, LoquiIM was the only app that could access the WhatsApp network.

OpenWapp, show me what you can do
There was another change and LoquiIM started to underperform, so I went back to ConnectA2 for a while... that is, until yesterday.  Since ConnectA2 is no more, I had to decide if I stayed with LoquiIM or if I tried another app: OpenWapp.

 OpenWapp's design is very consistent with the rest of the apps on the FirefoxOS platform (HTML5?), so it feels very natural on the phone.  However, I have noticed that it takes some time to display incoming messages.

For the time being, I will keep using OpenWapp.  Let us see how it goes.  If it performs poorly, I can always go back to LoquiIM or, if they fulfill their promise, I can give ConnectedIM a try.

It's the Ides of August!

In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Roman general Julius Caesar is given an ominous message by the Soothsayer.  The message is a simple warn...