Enter Samsung

 Technology  Comments Off on Enter Samsung
Aug 152013

My old Motorola Xoom tablet has been slowly dying on my lately. It has been running slower and slower. Part of the reason, I think, is because Google/Motorola stopped supporting development of the Android OS for it. So it doesn’t get updates anymore, which means it’s stuck on 4.1.

Also, the hardware is old, so programs that have become more and more greedy when it comes to CPU and memory are running out of room to work.

It doesn’t help that it weighs a ton, and becomes uncomfortable to use after a few hours.

I saw a sale on the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 pen tablet the other day, and finally decided to buy one. I have a few good reasons for it.

First, it supports microSD cards up to 64GB. I have a lot of e-books and MP3 files, and I want to be able to fill that up. The tablet only comes in 16GB models, which I find somewhat annoying, but less annoying if there’s an microSD card slot.

Second, it has a Wacom pressure sensitive stylus, with that bit cooked into one of the layers of the OS. I like Wacom products a lot, so I see this as a definite plus. If I can find a good drawing program, I’ll be set.

I’ve had it for a couple of days now, and I like the tablet overall. The display is crisp, colors are good, and sound is good enough. (I use headphones anyway.)

Yes, it’s plasticky, but I don’t care. Compared to the Xoom, it feels feather-light. If plastic makes it lighter, then by all means, make it all plastic. It’s just as strong as anything else.

My only beef is with all of the “Software I don’t want or need” that Samsung insists on dumping on the tablet. I don’t need a Samsung version of every Google program I already use. What’s worse is that I can’t uninstall the Samsung software. Samsung makes great hardware, but I like the Google software.

Let me run what I want. It’s like buying a laptop full of crapware. I wind up formatting the hard drive and doing a clean install anyway.

I would love to put Cyanogen on this, but then I’m afraid I’d lose some of the pen pressure support, and it may be just as much or more of a hassle than keeping the software I won’t use, anyway.

Raise the Mast!

 News, Site Maintenance  Comments Off on Raise the Mast!
Aug 092013

I spent a few hours creating a new masthead for the site today. I’ve been wanting to do this sort of old-fashioned mechanical arrival/departure sign motif for a long time, but hadn’t found a good way to make it work. I came across this tutorial on how to make a flip clock in Photoshop.

Applying it to make a mechanical signboard wasn’t too difficult.

The only problem for me was getting Suffusion to line it up, center it, and link it to the home page properly. I spent about 2 hours wrestling with it, trying to find answers, because Suffusion’s control panel is a bit disorganized.

Setting a Clickable Linked Mast in Suffusion

First, have an image ready for your header. I needed a 1000 x 85 pixel image for mine. I also created a 1000 x 85 pixel blank image, too.

Step 1: Go to the Dashboard>> Appearance Menu>> Header. (Not in Suffusion yet, we’re still in WordPress!) DON’T select an image. Go down to Header Text. Check “Show header text with your image.” Why? Because this will create an anchor tag in the header for the image we wind up using. Also, make sure that a text color of some kind has been selected.

Step 2: Go to Suffusion Options>> Skinning>> Header. Select “Custom styles” in the first box (otherwise nothing will change.)

Step 3: For Header Background Image, select your BLANK header, and upload it.

Step 4: Set your tiling. I set mine to “Do not repeat.”

Step 5: Set the background image position. I used “Middle of the Page.”

Step 6: We’re STILL in the Suffusion >> Skinning>> Header menu. Go down to Header Foreground Image, and upload the image you want to use.

Step 7: Click on Save, and save the changes.

I added a few other things to my header, because I like it this way:

Step 8: Go to Suffusion Options >> Other Graphical Elements >> Header. For “Header Layout Style,” I selected “Header is outside the main wrapper, its background and contents are aligned with the main wrapper.” Because I like how it looks.

Step 9: For “Blog Title/ Header Alignment,” I chose “center.”

Step 10: For Description / Sub-Header Alignment, I chose “center” again.

Step 11: For Description / Sub-Header Vertical Alignment, relative to header, I chose “Below the header text.”

Step 12: Finally, to get rid of the Search box that always shows up in the header, go to Suffusion Options >> Sidebars >> Right Header Widgets, and select “Hide the search.” Voila! The search box is gone, no longer cluttering up the header image.

More importantly, when you click on the image at the top, you’ll go back to the home page! Just like a normal website!

Suffusion does some things that annoy me a bit, but generally it’s been a good template system to work with. It just has its own quirks that require some learning and experimenting with.

Cash Is Still King.

 Travel  Comments Off on Cash Is Still King.
Aug 022013

I went to a local grocery store for lunch today, not expecting it to turn into a Life Lesson, but that’s what happened.

The servers connected to the cash registers were down, making checking out an impossibility for most people, except me, because I always carry some cash. Being in a few hurricanes, and other natural disasters has taught me the value of always having a few greenbacks on me.

I got to the checkout aisle, and asked if cash would make things go faster, and a senior clerk leaned over from the other aisle, and told the clerk in my aisle not to scan anything, that she would handle it.

And she did. She totaled up my food, asked for $30, I gave it to her, and I was on my way, while the other folks trying to use plastic were standing around in frustration.

Always carry some cash. Even if you don’t think you’ll need it, one day, you will, and you’ll be glad you did.

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