jueves, 29 de enero de 2015

LibreOffice 4.4 Is out! GREAT!!!

Yes, as soon as I read here that The Document Foundation had made a new release of LibreOffice available, I rushed to download it to give it a try.

You can find out what's new, from the technical viewpoint, about this suite here .  Let's see...it comes with a nice sidebar...it has better OOXML support (I don't care about that as I use ODF), and it even added textboxes.  Well, texboxes are something I never needed and I actually find them annoying, but others may think they're handy... Still, I am more interested in knowing if this new release could meet my needs.

Japanese input support! Wow! I thought I'd never see it again on this old system!
I installed LibreOffice 4.4 on my old Mepis 8 desktop system.  I had given away my hope of using Japanese input on LibreOffice because the suite did not support my old input method editor.  In fact, I had to keep an old copy of OpenOffice (3.1.1) around for the times I needed to type in Japanese.  I was greatly surprised when I could indeed type hiragana, katakana and kanji on LibreOffice!

What was next?  Customization might be another aspect to check...
I don't remember this feature on LO 4.3...  Now you have a handy theme selector to change the appearance of the office suite!  I entered "cat" and hit the "search" button...and sure enough, I got several matching themes.  That was easy!  At the end, I chose a theme I happen to like quite a lot!  :P

I still need to test Impress, Calc, and the other applications.  But I have to install first LibreOffice 4.4 on my laptop.  After all, that is the device in which I use Impress.

But while I do that, why not giving a little donation to The Document Foundation?
After all, LibreOffice is keeping me free from preying office subscription fees and from locking my data into the silly OOXML format.  I must add that it has saved me from the horrendous, unproductive ribbon madness! 

I hope all those who like LibreOffice made a donation, big or small, to this great project.

miércoles, 28 de enero de 2015

A New User for My Chromebook

Today, I was using my chromebook but I went to another room for a minute.  This is what I discovered when I came back:

That's Pisi (yes, like the Linux distro), one of my cats.  He managed to restart the device (I was running Ubuntu through crouton) and that's why you can see that screen.  It's as if the machine did not like the new user and got irritated at this cat's disrespectful manners.

Bad news for you, Chromebook: we live in a cat-dominated world.

I think I should have named this entry Pisi on a Chromebook!

jueves, 22 de enero de 2015

Crouton: How to Install Ubuntu on a Chromebook with Compiz and Other Tweaks

Since I got my Samsung Chromebook Series E, I've been playing with it to see what it is capable of.  Surely enough, the very first thing I did was to go the Crouton route to install Linux on it.  To keep a record, this is what I did, based on several websites:

A. To add Crouton and Ubuntu:

First, I needed to go into developer mode and prepare my Chromebook for the fun.  The tutorials are here and here.

1.  To download Crouton:
You place it in the Downloads folder.  Why?  Because both ChromeOS and Linux will share that folder.

2.  To install Crouton:
Open a terminal (ctrl+alt+t)
type "shell"
sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -t lxde  (Or xfce, or KDE, depending on your choice)
Add your username and password at the end of the process

3.  To run Crouton:
Type: shell
sudo startxfce4

Here you have Ubuntu running.  You can go back to ChromeOS by pressing Ctrl+alt+back arrowCtrl+alt+forward arrow will take you back to Ubuntu. I downloaded Synaptic because I'm familiar with it for handling the software I want to download.

4.  If you need to erase Crouton for some reason:
Type: shell

Type these two commands separately:

cd /usr/local/chroots

sudo delete-chroot *

sudo rm -rf /usr/local/bin



B. To add Compiz: 

1. Download Compiz packages:

a. I added this source to Synaptic:
deb http://snapshot.debian.org/archive/debian/20120616T042917Z/

b. using a terminal, as root:
apt-get -o Acquire::Check-Valid-Until=false update
(otherwise, they won't show in Synaptic)

That will simplify things when reaching step 5.

3. Change the windows manager:
To load Compiz instead of Openbox we edit as root the file /etc/xdg/lxsession/Lubuntu/desktop.conf and replace window_manager=openbox-lubuntu (on Debian it's "openbox-lxde") with window_manager=compiz.

4. Mark everyting related to window decoration in compiz settings
We have to make sure window decoration is active (marked) in compiz settings.  The same goes for everything related to windows: movement, minimizing, etc.

5. Set Compiz windows decorations
The window decorator used by Compiz is gtk-window-decorator and it may use Metacity's themes.

Running the command gtk-window-decorator --metacity-theme Bluebird --replace will do the trick.  But I used gconf-editor:
In the left panel: Apps --- Metacity --- General
and then search in the right panel "Theme" and type "Bluebird"


C.  To change locales:

I found that, no matter what I did, Ubuntu did not like to keep my chosen locale (Spanish).  But I could correct the problem following this process:

On a terminal:
1.  sudo aptitude install language-pack-es language-support-es
2.  sudo dpkg-reconfigure locales
3.   sudo /usr/sbin/locale-gen es_ES.UTF-8
4.  sudo /usr/sbin/update-locale LANG=es_ES.UTF-8
5.  export  LANG="es_ES.UTF-8"  /usr/bin/locale


jueves, 15 de enero de 2015

I Got a Chromebook and I Have Been SCROOGLED!

I admit it.  I should have known better.  If I don't like Google Chrome as a browser... could I like it as an OS?

But I wanted to try a Chromebook.  After all, they generate all kinds of opinions.  Are they friendly devices?  Are they safe?  More than that, are they any useful?

Microsoft has been going to great lengths to persuade people that Chromebooks are little beyond bricks if you are not online or want hard drives with lots of space.  Scroogled, that is the word they used to refer to those users like me who purchased one of these devices.

Let's see:  I am not a cloud guy.  I barely use gmail.  I dislike Chrome.  I guess I'm not the best candidate for one of these machines.  I should get a Surface instead...

But here is the difference:  I am not afraid of learning!  I do not think that what most people do necessarily is what's best.  Malware is very popular...

Thus,  I did get the Chromebook.  It was hard to find one here, but I got it and it was extremely cheap!  (it's a Samsung, series 5 XE500C21-H01US Black Intel Atom N570(1.66GHz) 12.1" WXGA 2GB Memory 16GB SSD)

Certainly, those are not the most powerful specs out there...

Turning it on was quite a feat.  It needed a connection to perform its initial bootup and configuration. Is this a brick without wi-fi?   Then, it had to grab some upgrades and that took quite a while.  This was so Windows-like that I felt my heart fainting.  :P

And finally, ChromeOS greeted me.

Interestingly, I realized that I can actually get some of my work done offline using this little device. ChromeOS is fast, intuitive, and it has a pretty friendly personality.  It reminds me of the times in which computing was fun!

This chromebook, as it is, is a perfectly useful machine, at least for most my needs...

But what about other of my computing requirements?  Is Microsoft right about the limitations of Chromebooks?

Actually. I found this machine more flexible and useful than I expected...thanks to Linux, of course.

Using Crouton, I installed Ubuntu with LXDE (KDE was too heavy) on my new device.

This is what I got:

A beautiful, light, and customized Desktop Environment
All the great productivity tools that Linux has

And why not?  A little eye candy as well!
All this working with a minimal footprint on my resources!  Did I mention that, if I want to alternate between ChromeOS and Ubuntu, I just have to enter a keystroke combination?

But alas!  Nothing comes without a price!  To do that, I had to turn my device into developer mode, and that made the bootup longer.  Instead of the immediate one after pressing start, now it takes 15-20 seconds.  :P

Is a Surface as flexible as this?  We know the answer...

As a matter of fact, I'm typing this entry on my Chromebook...

Apparently, I have been Scroogled...and I DO NOT REGRET IT!

sábado, 10 de enero de 2015

PicarOS Diego 2014

I finally replaced my PicarOS Diego Revision C with PicarOS Diego 2014.  They made quite a lot of changes!  I could even set up the desktop cube on it!

So far, I've found two issues.  While they are not show-stoppers, they could be a bit annoying:

1.  VLC does not seem to show soft subtitles.
     So far, the only way to correct this problem is upgrading it to a newer version.  I'll have to do that later.

2.  The volume always starts lower than 100%.

I'll keep testing it.  Let me say it again: if you are interested in an education-oriented distro, I think this is the best one!

sábado, 3 de enero de 2015

December 2014, Windows 8 Market Share Loss, and what Writers Are Saying about It: NOTHING!

Year 2015 started pretty awfully for Windows 8.x.  There have been numbers going on and off, and all of them showing a drastic, unbelievable loss of market share for this OS.  

So far, the most impressive phenomenon is not the level of accuracy/inaccuracy that these figures show, but the extreme silence that has followed it.  Unlike what happened all the previous months, in which (Windows-friendly?) journalists used to trumpet the slight market share gains of Windows 8 in virtually every tech news site, right now you can barely find articles about this phenomenon.

Does that mean that, when it comes to Windows 8, a gain of 0.25 deserves a lot of press, but a gigantic market share drop (apparently caused by Windows XP!) is not interesting enough to be discussed or investigated? 

So far, you can count with your fingers the articles about this situation:

1.  Windows 8 core:  Although based in the stats that, as other people like to call it, "had a glitch", this article says the loss Windows 8.1 is "probably the biggest loss in market share since its launch back in October 2013", but it does not go beyond that.  Doesn't that deserve a little attention or something?  Apparently, not for this writer.

2. Winbeta:  This was the best!  The writer said that the drop was caused by Windows 10!!  Of course, the article was based on the old, "wrong" numbers.  Then, when the problem with the figures surfaced, the writer published a very informative "update":

 Net Applications has published new revised stats, according to which, Windows 7 holds 56.26% of market share, while Windows XP, which Microsoft stopped providing support for last year, has climbed up to 18.26% of usage. Similarly, Windows 8 now has 4.03% of the market dominance, and Windows 8.1 is now powering 9.49% of systems.
Way to go!  That's all?  He didn't even bother to modify the flamboyant title:

Desktop market share of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 suffers as Windows 10 gains traction

I have been questioning this situation at Winbeta, and, besides getting one of my comments censored (I didn't offend anyone; I just pointed people to my compilation of numbers), I've received several replies from other people.  Most of them, if not all, are full of technical info explaining why I should understand that the "NT/XP" fiasco was a "glitch", but none to clarify why the big tech sites are not buzzing with activity, either investigating what happened with XP or with Windows 8.  Let's put it easily:  Readers need to be informed about what is going on.  If the press does not inform, then silence itself becomes informative.  

3.  Techradar: This site suggests (with disbelief) that the big loss was caused by Chromebooks.  Why not?  That makes sense...at least it does more than saying that it was XP that caused Windows 8's significant market share loss!

4. Investors: This article uses the "corrected" data.  Instead of deepening into the issue at question (the severe and "embarrassing" market share loss of Windows 8), the writer devotes half of the note to praise the beauties of Windows 10.  Please, that one has not even been released!  Can't we talk about the issues we are seeing now?

5.  Windows Central: In this one, the whole issue of Windows 8's shameful market share numbers is dismissed to favor Windows 10.  Wow!  A  0.06 growth of an experimental build (Windows 10, nowadays) is more important than the gigantic loss of the OS people are currently being FORCED to use, as it comes pre-installed in virtually every single PC? (except Italy: BRAVO ITALIANS!  HATS OFF TO YOU!!)

Why are writers doing this?  Are readers stupid?

Oh, the beauty of irony comes next!  Zdnet, traditionally favorable to Microsoft, comes to the rescue!  Ed Bott's article there criticizes the numbers and even goes beyond that.  He claims that "if the companies involved won't stop publishing this silly data, maybe it's time for the tech press to stop playing along and retire those monthly reports."

Is this a claim for silence?  :P  You know, some people could take this wrongly.  After all, it seems a very clever way to tell tech journalists to stay put when the numbers don't favor Microsoft.

But I think Mr.Bott totally hit the nail in his article.

The problem is that this is what Linux and MacOS users have been saying over and over, that these sites are biased and that their methods are flawed... so the credit is not for Mr.Bott.  Sorry.

Now, food for thought.  Since when were the numbers flawed?  Just December?  November?  Or was it from the beginning?

Maybe Mr.Bott and all the other tech journalists will want to investigate that now that they will have a lot of free time (because they won't have to be writing those annoying monthly reports about market share!)  :)

I sincerely hope so.  Let those "tech" journalists write real articles and not those Microsoft advertisements in disguise they have been feeding us with.

DISCLAIMER:  Maybe the lack of press surrounding this issue is because journalists at tech sites are on vacation!  ^__^

jueves, 1 de enero de 2015

December Was a Disaster for Windows 8.x...Why Aren't We Hearing about It?

Just for curiosity, I checked out one of those market share sites that Windows users love to quote to remind others how well new Windows versions are doing.  I expected Windows 8 and 8.1 (they have to mention them as a combo to hide poor figures) to experience some growth after Season shopping.

However, what I found was surprising.

Windows 8 and 8.1 combined seemed to have lost a whooping 7.07% market share!  They went down from 18.65% in November to 11.58% in December.  That is something!  Why aren't we hearing about this in all the (pro-Windows) tech sites??

Here are the figures for November:
To sum up, these are the numbers:
 Windows 7= 56.41
Windows 8 + 8.1= 18.65
Windows XP= 13.57
MacOS X 10.10= 2.66
Windows Vista= 2.65
Linux= 1.25
Windows NT= 0.11

And here are the ones for December:

For those who are lazy to read, these are the new figures:

Windows 7= 54.57 (-1.84)
Windows 8 + 8.1= 11.58 (-7.07)
Windows XP= 14.22 (+0.65)
MacOS X 10.10= 3.48 (+.82)
Windows Vista= 2.54 (-0.11)
Linux= 1.74 (+0.49)
Windows 10= 0.03

As it can be seen, the combo of Windows 8 and 8.1 did pretty bad in December.  But where did the lost market share go?  Certainly, Mac OS X 10.10 gained some, XP gained some (really??) and Linux gained some, but that couldn't possibly account for the lost 7.07%.
Who stole Windows 8 market share in December last year?
Windows boosters will readily say "Windows 10 did."  However, Windows 10 has got a 0.03% market share so far, so that is not the answer.

Actually, this seems a bit hard to believe: it was Windows NT!  According to the site, it went from an almost invisible 0.11 to a jaw-dropping 7.64% in one month! That means a gain of  7.53%.
So, does this mean that Windows users preferred to go to Windows NT instead of using Windows 8?
It is really hard for me to believe it.  Still, what calls my attention more is why tech sites are not trumpeting this like crazy, as they used to trumpet the beauties of Windows 8.
Go figure!

Some writers at Winbeta seem to think that NT is Windows 10. Interestingly enough, netmarketshare.com went offline suddenly and when I accessed it to check out again the difference between Windows NT and Windows 10, I found that the statistics for December are not available.  Interesting...

Still, I managed to take a snapshot of the figures from October (when Windows 10 was introduced) to December, 2014 and marked the difference for those writers who read pie charts and draw conclusions, but don't read lists.  Have fun! :P


More food for thought here.  Netmarketshare made December statistics available again after a rather weird pulldown and now it shows an entirely different story.  Take a look at the full pie chart and list of OSes below:

Let's see the changes side by side to keep track of the rather weird changes.  The plus sign and minus sign mean how the correction has affected each OS:

As it can be seen, with the exception of Windows NT, the correction has been beneficial to all Windows versions and it has eroded the market share of non-Windows OSes.

Now, the observations one cannot miss:

1.  Why would an apparent error in Windows NT market share affect all other Windows versions?  Shouldn't it affect only Windows 8.x and NT? 

2.  Why would this error affect all non-Windows OSes negatively?  What made MacOS X 10.10 and Linux go down if they are totally unrelated to NT?

3.  Apparently, the market share Windows 8.x lost was eaten away by WINDOWS XP.  SERIOUSLY??  Windows 7 did not get much in comparison!  XP went from 13.57% in November to 18.26% in December and took a sizable chunk of Windows 8.x's market share! (:P)

Honestly, the correction seems quite suspicious to me.  Some could say that this looks more like an attempt to cover up something that did not go well for Microsoft.  

Bottom line: You should question the credibility of these sites if you had not done before.  Something looks indeed fishy here!