Sunday, July 05, 2015

Cinnamon Desktop on Ubuntu 15.04 is just a simple install away

So the default Ubuntu Unity desktop experience isn't for everybody. But the awesome thing about open source is you get to change the things you don't like with something more to your tastes.

Just install a different desktop environment. Let's give Cinnamon a shot.

Installing Cinnamon from Terminal
~$ sudo apt-get install cinnamon-desktop-environment

Just wait for the install to complete then you're ready to go.

Not comfortable with the terminal? No problem. Head over to the Ubuntu Apps directory and click the big orange button.

Reboot once install is complete and choose to use Cinnamon for your desktop session.

A nice new desktop ready to go.

You may need to log off first if you've setup your Ubuntu to auto-login.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Create a bootable USB stick in 3 easy steps

You'll need a USB key with at least 2GB storage to make a bootable Ubuntu USB stick. You can download the latest release from the Ubuntu website.

From Ubuntu Unity Dash search for Startup Disk Creator.

Ubuntu Startup Disk Creator comes with the default Ubuntu installation.

Click on Other... to search for the Ubuntu ISO you've downloaded.

Click on Make Startup Disk and wait for the process to complete.

Startup Disk complete.
Your USB stick is ready to boot.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

How to fix HP Laserjet P1102 loud noise

Power on your HP Laserjet P1102 printer and it makes a really loud grinding noise. While it could be that something is broken, there could be a much simpler explanation.

HP Laserjet P1102 paper tray front view

Try taking a look at the paper tray (pictured above). You may notice the tray's not even. One side is slightly higher than the other. Here's a view from the access door after you remove the toner.

View from printer toner area
Try pushing on the paper tray on either side (indicated with red circles) and you'll find that one side has some give while the other is stuck in place.

A small object managed to get stuck under the tray and that's causing the loud noise. The printer's trying to push down the tray but the object is preventing that hence the gears make a loud grinding noise.

What you need to do in this case is to slowly turn the metal shaft the pickup roller is attached to backwards so that the white tabs on either side aren't pressing the tray. Be careful when doing this because you may twist the metal shaft in the process and that can cause other problems.

Once you manage to give the tray some space to lift upwards, you can try shaking the printer so that the object goes to one side.

Here's a sample of what you might find under the tray.

Hmm... how did that coin get stuck there?
After removing the object and successfully printing, here's how your tray should look in idle state.

Nice and flat paper tray. As it should be.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Lessons from the Endless Path

A scene from Pillars of Eternity

I completely underestimated the Endless Paths of Od Nua.

The result? My Moon Godlike Monk is now stuck in limbo at level 13 of the Endless Paths.

I could probably make my way out if I sacrificed my companions. Unfortunately, that's not the role I had in mind for this character.

So now I find myself starting over in Pillars of Eternity.

But wait. There has to be a lesson in here somewhere, right? If we don't learn from our mistakes we're bound to repeat it. So here's my thoughts on the matter.

Beware of traps

In ancient dungeons, you can expect traps aplenty. This wasn't the case in old games like Baldur's Gate or Icewind Dale. Oh, there were traps but they were few and far between. The fact that you can rest almost anywhere made them easier to deal with too. Just trigger them and so long as everybody's alive you can just rest to recover HP.

In the Endless Paths, traps are everywhere. The further down you go the more abundant they become. You'll want a healthy Mechanics skill level to detect and disarm them. I made the mistake of not investing in Mechanics early on. It was a painful experience.

Secure your supply line

As I said, in Baldur's Gate or Icewind Dale you basically could rest anywhere. There were areas that disallowed resting but those were pretty rare. In Pillars of Eternity you needed camping supplies to rest at all. The higher the difficulty the fewer you could stock up on. Case in point, Path of the Damned allows only 2 camping supplies! So, be sure to secure a safe path to the nearest merchant at all times.

I made the mistake of using one too many shortcuts and exhausting my camping supplies. With no clear path back to the surface I couldn't return to resupply hence my current predicament.

Save often

I got lots of save games for my character. Unfortunately, the most recent save I had from before I got stuck was pretty far back. Just thinking of redoing all those fights was a bit demoralizing. I'd much rather start a new character built with what I now know about the game.

It's a good idea to not just keep a lot of saves but to keep saves with small time gaps between each other too. In case you get stuck somewhere you'll have less things to redo. Don't rely on autosave to have your back.

You can always come back later

From sizeable groups of Animats to Crystal Eaters to Spectres, you definitely don't want to underestimate the monsters you'll encounter while exploring the Endless Paths. Even with a well equipped party plus a detailed attack plan, you're going to suffer through quite a number of fights.

If the going gets tough, choose to strategically retreat, replenish supplies, then come back for a rematch. There's no way you'll finish this massive dungeon swiftly. Slow and steady wins the race here.


The ideas I present here certainly aren't new. But it's still a good idea to remind ourselves every now and then on the basic strategies that help us beat a game. I know I forget them all the time and get stung as a result.

But that just means I get to start with a new build with clearer ideas of what I need to clear various parts of the game.

Keep these ideas in mind as you play and the game should be more manageable. Particularly combat. As for the rest, just enjoy the nice sceneries and lore of the game.

Related Posts:

Why Pillars of Eternity is awesome 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Why Pillars of Eternity is awesome

Heritage Hill

For a while now I've been disappointed with the gaming scene. Gamers don't all enjoy the same genre of game but it really felt like the games industry is only every releasing first person shooters.

Oh I know there's games other than first person shooters being released but from the games reviews you'd think those were the only games out there.

So, Pillars of Eternity is awesome simply for being a isometric view RPG similar to Icewind Dale or Baldur's Gate. It's really been a while since one of those came out.

Just to make it more interesting, the game gives you choice in how you complete quests. Of course, it's not total freedom. That's the inherent limitation of RPGs. There's simply far too many possibilities to deal with. But Pillars of Eternity does offer quite a wide choice to pick from.

The game rewards exploration. Open up new maps, discover secret areas, or take extra efforts in solving quests to get more XP than simply following the story campaign. Even combat is given the same treatment with monster stats slowly revealing themselves as you battle more of the same type of monster. This is a neat way to giving ever lesser XP to players for defeating the same ol' monsters. In the classics like Icewind Dale or Baldur's Gate, this would be equivalent to getting less XP as your party levels up.

Soon after release, there's already news of players beating the game solo. And this is a party-based game too. Beat the game with just your single character, or beat it by recruiting companions into your party. The choice is yours.

I haven't completed the game yet. I've opted for party play, and enjoying the nice narrative and voice overs. But there's nothing wrong with that is there? That's the choice you're given in this game. Play it like a click fest if you want, or take your own sweet time to enjoy the sights and sounds in the game.

But I must say reading about others' solo exploits really tempts me to try it out, too. Maybe once I'm done with this character...

Pillars of Eternity shows what's possible with crowd funded games. Sure there's been failed crowd funded projects but that doesn't take away the awesomeness of the game.

And once I'm done, Torment Tides of Numenera beckons...