Monday, December 30, 2013

Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition review (Haswell, late 2013 model)

Please note: I've updated this review in several spots and have highlighted these updates like this. Please also check out the comments-section below, there are some very good remarks and suggestions.

The XPS 13 Developer Edition, aka "Project Sputnik", is a laptop with a FullHD 13-inch screen, backlit keyboard, SSD, 4th gen intel CPU and comes pre-installed with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. What makes this machine so interesting is not so much that Ubuntu comes pre-installed on it (it would be easy for anybody to install it him/herself, after all), but rather that Dell put some extra-work in making sure everything works right out of the box and supports running Ubuntu on it. WiFi, keyboard backlight, screen brightness control, sleepmode, etc. are guaranteed to work. Additionally, you save a few bucks on the Windows license.
I had been interested in this machine before and since it was updated with the new Intel Haswell processors in November (official announcement by the project lead), I jumped on it (The alternative I thought about was the System76 Galago Ultrapro).

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Dark Room (flash game)

Came across this game (runs on your browser) called "A Dark Room". It's a text-adventure. You start in a dark room, light a fire, a stranger walks in and the story unfolds from there.
There's an iOS version as well.

Friday, September 6, 2013


My idea of a backup is as follows:

- I have an external hard drive (same size or bigger than the drive in my live-system)
- Once a week or once a month, I plug that drive in to my computer and run a backup-command or click on a button in my backup-program
- The backup is incremental, meaning the very first time it runs it will take a long time and every subsequent time it will only copy the data which changed
- Once the backup is complete, the external drive goes back into its drawer/shelf
- If the drive in my live-system dies, I replace it as soon as possible and will be able to retrieve my data from the external drive.
- I don't really care whether the external drive is bootable or not. If it is, that's nice, but it doesn't have to.

Back when I had a Mac, I used this method to run backups. It worked like a charm and if I still had a Mac, I'd probably still do it that way.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Friday, July 26, 2013

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Raspberry Pi Updates

A couple of interesting things came out since I bought my Raspberry Pi. (old post here)

A camera for RPi is now available.
It doesn't connect to the GPIO port (which most cases leave accessible), but to the connector located behind the ethernet port (which most cases do *not* leave accessible, sadly).

This case, the "OpenBox" (or a remix thereof), allows to plug in the camera module. Above is the "Sweetbox II", which is currently benig kickstartered. This is a case with an optional camera holder.
For future reference, here are some cool RPi projects I came across:

- RPi seedbox with LCD output of torrent status
- Getting a headless Raspberry Pi to speak its IP address on boot
- RPi as SNES emulator with Xbox 360 wired controller
- PiMAME, a pre-built RPi OS for gaming/emulation

Last but not least, some potentially useful info:

How to auto-mount an external USB hard drive on boot (found here):

For me, it came down to plugging my hard drive (named "BLABLA") in to the RPi (it got auto-mounted) and adding this line to /etc/fstab:
/dev/sda1       /media/BLABLA    ntfs-3g defaults         0       0
(my drive is formatted as NTFS. If it was FAT32, one would use "vfat" instead of "ntfs-3g")

How to set up OwnCloud on the RPi

Found a nice tutorial here, a tutorial video here and an all-in-one-install-script here. Setting up OwnCloud requires the installation of a webserver, PHP, a database and some configuration steps, so this all-in-one script is a welcome alternative. The author wrote a blog-post about the script here.

Can a Raspberry Pi be powered by a USB-hub?

Yes, it may, if your USB hub has its own power supply.
If it doesn't have its own power supply, then forget about it.
If it does, then check this list of peripherals and see if you can find your hub listed and what the notes say. I use a Belkin "4-Port Ultra-Slim Desktop Hub" (model # F4U040v) and it works great.

Can a Raspberry Pi be powered by the same USB hub that its peripherals are connected to?

Yes! (but also read the point above)
I'm currently powering my RPi from my USB hub and also have my wireless keyboard's dongle as well as a USB hard drive (USB powered) plugged in to the hub and it all works.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition

I've been looking at ultrabooks capable of running Linux these last few days and Dell's XPS 13 Developer Edition seems like a pretty nice package.

Some articles with useful information about the machine and the out-of-the-box experience:

Divorcing Apple, trying WIndows 7 and Ubuntu on Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook

Back On Linux – Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition

My Review of the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition (a.k.a. Sputnik)

Putting Dell's Ubuntu Ultrabook to the test

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Free text to speech solutions

Looking around for free text to speech software (or web-based solutions), I found these: - Best one I came across. It's completely free and offers several different languages.

YAKiToMe - Not bad, I found the pronounciation of slightly lesser quality than the previous site. But YAKiToMe allows you to upload PDFs (if you have an eBook in PDF format, for instance) and it will read the whole thing to you. Registration is free.

Mac OSX comes with a command-line tool "say". There's not really an equivalent that comes with Windows, but I found this Windows-executable which does the same thing. It uses the built-in Windows voice. (in case that previous link ever stops working: Here's a perma-link to the executable and here's the source code)

Cepstral - This one is not free (even though there's a demo on their website) but the voices and pronounciation are very good.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Android Netrunner card game - storage tips

Looking for some suggestions on (sleeved) card storage for Android Netrunner, I came across some helpful posts here and here. One of the ideas is to use an Ultra Pro Dual Deck Box (available at amazon or your local dealer for about 6 $). It can pretty much hold 2 decks and all the tokens.

Also came across a deck builder for Netrunner on