Sunday, September 23, 2012

Nexus 7 Woes

So I purchased a Google Nexus 7 with the hope that it would be the perfect device for my wife. I didn't have  big requirements:

  • Google Video Chat support
  • Skype support
  • Ability to watch Flash videos
  • Emails, calendar, simple games
The reviews were good, the price was good, so I went for it.

My conclusion: Nexus 7 has very uneven quality. Some people have a fantastic experience, others hate it.
Personally, here is what got me annoyed:
  • The video chat and Skype keeps on getting stuck shortly after the chat starts. Switching to a PC to chat with the exact same person works fine though.
  • The microphone doesn't pick up sounds well, and so the person I am chatting with keeps on not hearing.
  • Sometimes the Flash video gets in a weird state, and it stops responding to user input - no more switching to full screen and the like. I have to kill Firefox for it to work again
  • The micro-usb cable provided wasn't glued well, and the protective plastic on the micro side is sliding off. It doesn't look like a shock hazard yet, but if it is, Google is gonna get a big big lawsuit on the southern side of the border for sure.
  • There is no way I can send an email for support. Google allows you to get a phone call back, but I'd rather not have to wait on the phone forever and a day.
Dear readers, what can I do for my tablet to fulfill its function? And yes, I'm beyond 15 days, so returning is not an option.

The Quest of the perfect Linux desktop - continued

In a virtual machines, I installed distros known for more stability. Here is what I think about them:

  • Debian Stable: it feels like my Ubuntu experience of 2010 or 2009...
  • Linux Mint Debian Edition: I am liking it. It is based on Debian Testing, so the packages are not super-outdated. The flash player and the MP3 support is built-in, which makes it easy to set up. I did have a rough time when they pushed TeXLive 2012, and the update wasn't going through. This is not the first time I had problems updating my LaTeX installation. I had similar troubles with Ubuntu and Fedora, so I'm not going to count that against them too much.
  • openSuse: Oh man! Just trying to set up my printer is a nightmare! You're not allowed to tell me that a package is missing and not help me install it. That's just dumb dumb dumb.
  • Scientific Linux: This is a port of RedHat which I thought would be interesting. No dice, it wouldn't boot after I installed it in the VM.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Indian IPTV In Canada

So, you're an NRI and you want your favorite channels.

If you're Punjabi, its not so hard to get what you want, you can get it on CBC.

So, first, the typical TV service providers.
You can get some on Bell Fibe TV, and its mostly Hindi though. But oh boy does it cost a ton!
Videotron has nothing. Move on.
Cogeco has only one channel.

So maybe we can get some independent distributor, with their own hardware?
There is Roku, but you don't know which channels are there before you buy, except for unofficial lists.
VuNow has news channels only. You can probably get that from the 'net anyway.
Colba.Net is having French and English only.

So it looks like you'll have to stick to your computer or rig it to play on your TV. Fun.

One first contender is TeluguOne. Not bad, but it looks like to got shut down.
Then, YuppTV. Also a bit expensive. And the HD should work only in Windows. Not cool.
JingleTV is there, but doesn't have Indian channels.
NextTv is meh.
JumpTV likewise.

So, it is YuppTV for the time being, but I'm not 'sold' yet.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

You call this user-friendly???

If you want to open a CSV in Excel 2010, for which the file delimiter is not a comma, what do you do?

Of course, you change a system-wide setting! I never knew that LibreOffice could beat Office on usability so easily...

Monday, September 17, 2012

More Updates on the Proprietary Stunt

Its been more than two weeks...

  • The printing dialog I get has an easy save to PDF option that I enjoy.
  • Still no crashes
  • I had one instance where typing on my external USB keyboard wasn't working well - some keys went through, but others didn't. I fixed that by unplugging it and plugging it back in.
  • There is a high memory usage and some trashing -grr.
  • Installing the Sametime client - 275 megs! For a chat client!!! I can probably have a minimalist live CD of Linux that has a whole GUI, etc. for that much.
  • I am having an horrible time for my research. Somehow, getting Soot to build in the git bash I have requires a Turing Award - and my brain will never be big enough to get one
  • Copying a big batch of files from my college system doesn't work so well - so rsync to the rescue. But  that is tied with the next problem
  • I can't get a good caching of my SSH keys. It sorta works for git, but other SSH operations just don't work with the agent or something.
  • The HP scanner software doesn't keep the cropping from one page to the other. And it scans in color by default, and then tosses out the color data, making the scan slower. Pretty lame actually. Simple Scan does that better.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Quest for the perfect Linux Desktop - continued

So I continued trying to look for the perfect Linux Desktop.

Remember that I've been having stability issues with Fedora 17, Ubuntu 12.04, Mint 12 and Mint 13.

I heard good things about openSuse, so I put that in a Virtual Machine. I quickly got a 'yuck' feeling... I was prompted for the admin password to put a CD in. In this case, it was the VirtualBox Guest Additions (or somesuch). What a bad out-of-the-box experience! I shouldn't need an admin password for this!!! Then, having to put a password for every package install. Yuck!

Everywhere on the 'net, people boasted of the stability of Debian and RedHat/CentOS/Scientific Linux. Those don't come across as being very user-friendly, but what to do...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Trying to be a normal user - update

Here are some observations:

  • The wizard for Windows 7 takes forever and a day
  • There wasn't too much garbage to remove on my Gateway system. That's good news
  • So many things are missing, and it takes forever to install them. In a way, I felt that the out-of-box experience was worse than Mint.
  • So, download the HP drivers, download JDK, download Keepass, etc.

Update on my Windows Stunt

So its almost two weeks I've been using Windows 7.

Here are the pros:

  • No crashes
  • Office is handling my OpenDocument Format files properly so far
  • Skype and Google Video Chat work flawlessly
And there are a few annoyances:
  • Default scanning application won't save as PDFs .Huhh??? So its HP's software all the way.
  • Google Chrome won't load one of my sites ( properly. Huuuh?
  • Its annoying to have to hunt for the application you need
  • Spybot and Windows Defender don't mix it seems. Yuck.
  • Virtual PC won't let me install a Linux ISO on it... weeeird. Is it the stretchable partition?
  • Live Mail won't send using my college's SMTP server, but it was working in Thunderbird. Duuuuude.
  • Google Chrome won't pick up the Java plugin and an extra install is required. Wut?
  • No built-in support for Ogg... come on!!! Its not like there is a license fee to pay! At least the plug-in was free.
  • No default bittorrent client. Sigh
  • I tried using IntelliJ, but the git support wasn't good, so back to NetBeans.
  • The proprietary LaTeX editors were worse than TexMaker, so back to the good stuff.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Trying to be a 'Normal User'

Recently, I had to apply for QPIP, and I discovered that I had to do this on Windows. Grrrr.

So, thankfully, I didn't delete that Windows partition and got the job done. So I decided to go on a stunt. Could I try to be a 'normal user'? I brushed that aside and went back to Linux. I switched from Fedora to Mint, in the hope that a less cutting edge distro would fare better. Wrong.
I toyed with the idea again and, two freezes later, I decided to embark on the journey.

So, what does that mean?

  • For the next month, I'm going to use Windows 7 as much as possible
  • I will avoid any FLOSS software as much as possible to get the job done, but will stick with 0$ software options
  • I will use the default software installed and their defaults as much as possible, but I give myself the right to remove some garbage (like Norton and free games)
  • I will _not_ install garbage. In that regard, I may not be like the most average user
  • I will interact with Linux systems and my research will go on. That means still some free software in the form of LaTeX and ssh access and the like. But I will try to use proprietary-like variants of the common open software.
  • I may work a bit on LibreOffice. I can't stop being a member of that foundation :)