Wednesday, April 23, 2014

[B] Updated workspace and devices!

Now to talk about my recent update in hardware :D Woo hoo nerdy things.

In a period of a year, a number of my devices kinda just decided to die on me. My monitor which was maybe 6 years old decided to just die on me one day, never to turn on again. It also made a very concerning electrical fizz sound. I AIN'T TOUCHING THAT. So, in a kind of happy/sad way I started looking for a new monitor... I did want two monitors at one point, hearing that the extra screen estate is good for *ahem* work. 

But unfortunately, my desk isn't that big, so having two monitors kinda eats up all the space. Also, I kinda worry that my feeble specs can't push two 1080 screens at the same time. I somehow ended up reading about and getting a 21:9 monitor...

It now sits on the corner of my desk.... for the keen eyed, you may notice that that screen isn't running windows... or OSX. This was a direct result of my dying internal HDD which had my windows on it. My windows was going to expire later in the year (September) because it was a dreamspark copy from uni... Since this was going to happen eventually, I decided to install linux (ubuntu/kubuntu) on a newly purchased SSD.

I've had a bit of experience with it in the past; playing with each release since 2008 and most usually using linux to save my dying computer somehow. I've never used it full time... non stop. Needless to say it was a major learning curve and I did feel like giving up along the way. Interestingly enough, changing distros solved alot of my problems! So allow me to walk you through my comp:

Kubuntu 13.10/14.04
Linux in general has always appeared to me as something only hardcore geeks would use, and I guess that impression still stands today.I've only ever seen at most 5 other people in my live use something linux based so I wouldn't call it "mainstream" for normal users (though I read they are used a lot in servers?) You also see a lot of fancy interfaces in movies... which I'd take a guess and say are most likely linux based...

So as someone who likes to tinker with EVERYTHING possible, I set off to install Ubuntu. Long story short, I hit a lot of problems despite being most familiar with it. I've used the old Gnome classic interface which was straight forward and simple, but the new unity shell makes things... restrictive. After a big frustrating week or so, I was ready to just buy a copy of windows and get it over with.... But then I decided to install Kubuntu... and now I've been running it for weeks and I'm happy to say it's great!

Desktops and activities
Kubuntu differentiates itself mainly by using a shell/interface called KDE. I never took interest to this originally cause the stock look looks pretty tacky (yea I'm pretty shallow about UI). But since Unity is pretty locked down, I can't change much, where as KDE everything is still up for tweaking. I spent maybe a whole week fine tuning all the themes and icons to get this final result. It's holo inspired (android design theme) because I like my things to be consistent:

See the resemblance? 

An advantage that Linux/Unix has in general is the multiple workspaces. So as you can see, my default desktop which I named "(‾⌣‾)" houses a series of folders, RSS feeds and a monitor widget.

Selecting the next activity (or workspace) I have a completely different environment to work with. I have the calender (which syncs to my google calendar), my uni dropbox and a widget to show connected media (like USBs). I named this desktop "(╯°□°)╯ ︵ ┻━┻" because you know, UNI.

Also note that the open windows on both desktops are independent. I can throw them between each other depending on where I want them to be. As far as I know, windows doesn't do this natively and 3rd party options are buggy at best.

System notifications

A particularly useful part I've come to like is the notification centre. It acts a lot like how it does on our phones in that it collects all the notifications you haven't read or dismissed.

One of my favourite apps is KDE connect, this closely integrates my phone to my computer. I can see how much battery it has left, notifications and it seems to be able to push and pull links between each other. You can replicate this functionality with pushbullet but I like it being in the system tray (pushbullet doesn't read battery life)

Being an unpopular platform has it's problems. Most notably is the lack of software support/development. Most of this is overcome by WINE, which runs windows programs on linux. It works well so far for all the apps I need:

There are some small bugs that may occur. e.g LF2 has no background music, online sync for MS Office is non-functional, but I've just used the online webapp with no probs..

All in all a very good experience so far...

I also replaced my old phone and laptop/tablet hybrid:

I originally had the HTC one, but couldn't get the purple camera fixed. Real pity, really liked that phone:

I had it converted to GPE and/or ran a custom rom with nav buttons. It was a great phone: nice screen, excellent speakers and a fantastic build... Too bad the camera was more or less broken (even when functioning, it's low MP meant lecture slides were fuzzy and unreadable. So in the end, I returned to being a Nexus (Nexus 5) user. At least everything works... Good news was the high resale value of the HTC one meant I didn't lose much in the process of buying and selling.

My new laptop is an Asus taichi. My old laptop had graphics issues and the screen would have artifacts making it unusable. I REALLY like my laptop :) nothing wrong with it at all, It's done everything I've wanted it to so far (from drawing to SC2!)

That kinda wraps up my "new things" post. Keep in mind I didn't buy these all at once, it's kinda more like all the things I did during my absence, which you know, is kinda like a whole year and a bit. I've left some breadcrumb/tips on what my next post will be about. See if you can pick it up!


Anonymous said...

Nice computer!

Mylifeasacomic said...

Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

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