Friday, January 19, 2018

Alternative Web Browsers

Firefox, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Chromium are not, by any means the only Web browsers in the world, nor are they necessarily the best browsers for every situation.  Some of the other alternative browsers may be better at some things and inferior in other areas, but there are plenty of choices these days.

Alternatives in the Mozilla "world": Firefox,


(this will probably be disappearing; Firefox is once again available on some Debian-based distributions).


Seamonkey is an original descendant of the Mozilla browser family.  If you remember Netscape and the early Mozilla replacement, Seamonkey descends from that.

Pale Moon

 "Pale Moon diverges from Firefox in removing accessibility and parental control options, while modifying the default interface settings to be similar to earlier versions of Firefox — it has a bookmark toolbar and status bar by default. It also uses its own configuration directory, unlike Waterfox."  Version: 27.6.2 (64-bit) is the current version I happen to have installed and I am using it now.


 Until recently, Mozilla didn’t provide official builds of Firefox compiled for 64-bit systems.  I just checked; this is no longer true; I just re-downloaded the latest Firefox.  All of these are decent Web browsers.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Typing on a keyboard with an unconfigured synaptics keypad is awful!

I'm using a Live system and having a lot of problems with the synaptics touch pad.  I have to be SUPER careful not to lean any part of my hand or arm on any part of the keyboard or surrounding area; otherwise unplanned cursor movement or cutting out text takes place; it's no wonder that I use phones for short messages.

At work I have a docking station; that helps a LOT!

Update: if the system you are using has the synaptics tool.  PCLinuxOS is interesting: they have a graphical version that allows you to toggle the enabling or disabling of the touchpad.

MOTO G5 Plus vs desktop computer and previous Droid phone

Ever since the original Motorola Droid phone came out in 2009 I have been a fan of the Droid line of Android phones.

Motorola has produced many good models that always have excellent phone reception and call quality.

Now with the E and G series you can get a really inexpensive phone like the MOTO E4 for around $130 or the best budget phone on the market, the MOTO G5+ for $299.

Both deals trounce the popular phones, undercutting them considerably without sacrificing speed or call quality.

I find myself frequently using the phone instead of the computer to write quick notes.

My only issues with the Droids: the Droid Bionic tended to run a bit hot. Not too surprisingly it warped a battery the last month I had it.  The Bionic came after the original Motorola Droid phone and it was an early 4G LTE model. Maybe that's why it tended to run hot.  It was considerably faster than the 3G Droid.

I had the MOTO X next and really enjoyed it, then came the Droid Turbo.  Really solid phone.  Ended up working well past the two year contract, so I had time to experiment with the no contract unlocked G5+.

Only disadvantage is changing volume.  It's touchy and difficult to move between soft and medium-loud volume.  Otherwise this is the best deal around.

Performance is good enough to use instead of a computer, particularly because there is no bloatware installed.  I have a stock Android 7.0 software with only the apps I installed.  I didn't even have Facebook or Messenger installed at first, but I installed Firefox Focus and often use it instead of browsers that track my every move.

The bottom line is that I use the phone that greets me, 'Hello MOTO"!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Social Media Twitter streaming access to sporting events

It was with some interest that I happened to notice that TNF - Thursday Night Football, is - at least for the time being, available as a streaming television rebroadcast on Twitter.  The stream appears to be a play or two later than the live event, but for all intents and purposes, it's almost like watching the game on TV, except you can be away from your home TV and view it wherever you can receive broadband communication.

I didn't watch that way for very long, but I saw enough to see that a shutout game was in the works.  New England Patriots 27, Houston Texans 0.

Maybe not the most useful thing in the world, but it was entertaining, useful, and informative.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Blogging from your phone

Did you know that with Wi-Fi network connections it's possible (and not very difficult) to write on a blog using a phone?

I'm writing today using my Droid Turbo phone.  As you might expect, the keyboard is smaller and not as easy to type on, but it partially makes up for the limitations with spelling assistance built-in and also the ability to provide a few useful word suggestions for some common phrases.

I'm finding fewer reasons for always being on a computer.  I'm sitting in a recliner chair with a power source connected to the phone and a wireless network connection to make the connection.

To be honest with you, this phone is faster than at least half of the computer systems in the house, definitely the ones over a year old.

What are your experiences using phones or tablets in place of computer systems for some of your correspondence?

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Debian 8.2 on the Dell Inspiron 5558

Now that the Dell Inspiron 5558 is in place and several Linux distributions have been successfully installed, I've been able to update it and oscillate between this system and my older Gateway 2000 17" PA6A and my Lenovo 3000 Y410 older systems.

They are all working fine, but there is a decidedly large difference in responsiveness and performance advantage on this current generation Dell laptop.  The only thing slowing it down are network or server resources, so usually it is quite fast and responsive.

With 8 GB of system memory, Dual core Intel Core i7-5500U with 4096 K cache,
1000.2GB disk (with 1.3% used), the system has plenty of capacity and excess bandwidth for Debian 8.2 and other current generation software.

A query of resource utilization yields:

inxi -Fxz
System:    Host: debian Kernel: 3.16.0-4-amd64 x86_64 (64 bit gcc: 4.8.4) Desktop: Xfce 4.12.2 (Gtk 2.24.25)
           Distro: Debian GNU/Linux 8
Machine:   System: Dell product: Inspiron 5558 v: 01
           Mobo: Dell model: 086DKN v: A00 Bios: Dell v: A04 date: 08/06/2015
CPU:       Dual core Intel Core i7-5500U (-HT-MCP-) cache: 4096 KB
           flags: (lm nx sse sse2 sse3 sse4_1 sse4_2 ssse3 vmx) bmips: 9576
           clock speeds: max: 3000 MHz 1: 2400 MHz 2: 2515 MHz 3: 2410 MHz 4: 2400 MHz
Graphics:  Card-1: Intel Broadwell-U Integrated Graphics bus-ID: 00:02.0
           Card-2: NVIDIA Device 1299 bus-ID: 08:00.0
           Display Server: X.Org 1.16.4 drivers: intel (unloaded: fbdev,vesa) Resolution: 1366x768@60.00hz
           GLX Renderer: Mesa DRI Intel HD Graphics 5500 (Broadwell GT2)
           GLX Version: 3.0 Mesa 10.3.2 Direct Rendering: Yes
Audio:     Card-1 Intel Wildcat Point-LP High Definition Audio Controller driver: snd_hda_intel bus-ID: 00:1b.0
           Card-2 Intel Broadwell-U Audio Controller driver: snd_hda_intel bus-ID: 00:03.0
           Sound: Advanced Linux Sound Architecture v: k3.16.0-4-amd64
Network:   Card-1: Intel Wireless 3160 bus-ID: 06:00.0
           IF: N/A state: N/A mac: N/A
           Card-2: Realtek RTL8101E/RTL8102E PCI Express Fast Ethernet controller
           driver: r8169 v: 2.3LK-NAPI port: e000 bus-ID: 07:00.0
           IF: eth0 state: up speed: 100 Mbps duplex: full mac:
Drives:    HDD Total Size: 1000.2GB (1.3% used) ID-1: /dev/sda model: ST1000LM024_HN size: 1000.2GB temp: 30C
Partition: ID-1: / size: 99G used: 4.3G (5%) fs: ext4 dev: /dev/sda4
           ID-2: swap-1 size: 8.49GB used: 0.00GB (0%) fs: swap dev: /dev/sda2
Sensors:   System Temperatures: cpu: 51.0C mobo: N/A
           Fan Speeds (in rpm): cpu: N/A
Info:      Processes: 155 Uptime: 33 min Memory: 712.4/7914.3MB Init: systemd runlevel: 5 Gcc sys: 4.9.2
           Client: Shell (bash 4.3.301) inxi: 2.2.28

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Dell Inspiron 15 - 5558 with GPT, UEFI, filling with Linux distributions

I picked up this system a few months ago, and it came with Windows 10, which was (and as far as I know) still is, in a state of testing prior to its eventual release.

I gave Windows 10 a chance.  I was going to do multiple booting with Windows 10 and other systems.  It has some interesting new application features, including stand-alone Web-based instances of several common Web-based applications, such as Mail, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon Kindle, and probably many others too.

This Dell Inspiron 15, Model 5558, has quite a bit of memory - 8 GB, the disk is a ST1000LM024_HN size: 1000.2GB - that's 1 Tera byte or 1000 GB.  So this system has plenty of space, plenty of memory, and plenty of processor capability.

Windows 10 ran "OK", but that was about it.  The system ought to run well.  The problem is that it didn't, not in every respect.  The networking must have been a work in progress, or perhaps a "rework".  It had trouble remaining "up"; connections would regularly drop and reconnect.

So after a trial of several weeks, where I was booting from USB often, just to get a system that would keep the network "upright" (MX-15), I finally canned Windows 10 and sought to find some Linux systems that would work.

I had some unexpected difficulties.  It took me a lot longer than I initially intended to get a good file system configuration and a boot loader that would work properly with it.  I could have - and I did for a while, go to an old fashioned IDE disk configuration, with up to four primary partitions and a few extended partitions, but that is a misuse of this hardware.  I then went to a "GUID Partition Table (GPT) is a standard for the layout of the partition table on a physical hard disk, using globally unique identifiers (GUID). Although it forms a part of the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) standard (Unified EFI Forum proposed replacement for the PC BIOS), it is also used on some BIOS systems because of the limitations of master boot record (MBR) partition tables, which use 32 bits for storing logical block addresses (LBA) and size information on a traditionally 512 byte disk sector." (quoted from ).

I now have several Linux-based systems installed: Fedora 23 (Xfce), MX-15 (Xfce), Debian 8.2 (Xfce), Linux Mint 17.3 (Xfce), antiX 15, and openSUSE Leap 42.1 (Xfce).  All of them are 64-bit implementations, all of them are now bootable from the UEFI boot loader, which is implemented on Fedora 23 and openSUSE Leap from the GRUB-EFI implementation.  I used Fedora 23 to get the multiple systems accessible, and I also have multiple USB sticks that I can alternatively use to access not only this, but other systems as well.

After over a month of fiddling around, I now have things in a pretty usable form and all of them readily outperform Windows 10, plus most of them have similar capabilities.  I really don't need Windows any more.  I use Google Docs and Libre Office for the occasional office application and I have no other home needs for anything else.