There are only so many shapes

Pilot fish gets call from user whose local printer is offline. Since fish is headed that way anyway, he stops in the user’s office to take a look.

The printer isn’t asleep, and the cables are connected. But the user’s computer shows the printer as offline, and rescanning doesn’t pick it up.

What else can you tell me? asks fish. Well, says user, it stopped working after an IT intern came around to replace one of the toner cartridges.

That’s when fish decides to pull the printer away from the wall and take a closer look at the cable connection. And who knew? The USB cable connector fits pretty much perfectly in the RJ-45 network port. Which is where the intern plugged it.

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Why I Switched From Ubuntu to Manjaro Linux

Manjaro desktop background.

For more than a decade, Ubuntu was my Linux distribution of choice. But, for the first time in a long while, I distro-hopped. I now run Manjaro and couldn’t be happier. It’s just that good!

Ubuntu Is Still Great, Too!

I still rate Ubuntu very highly, and I have great respect for Canonical. Over in the corporate world, no one comes close to the success Red Hat has had with promoting Linux as a serious enterprise infrastructure tool. You could make the same argument for Canonical, and its success with making Linux accessible for newcomers to the Linux desktop.

A lot of people who use Linux for the first time stick a toe in the water with Ubuntu. Once they’ve found their feet and get a bit of experience, some people move on to other distributions. I’ve heard the same story many times, both in-person and online. People tell me they’re on a particular distribution—Fedora, Debian, you name it, I’ve heard it—but they started on Ubuntu. If their current distribution had been their first foray into Linux, they doubt they would have stuck with it. That’s a massively important role for Ubuntu to play.

No business or company is perfect. Canonical has made some ill-considered moves through the years, such as foisting the Unity desktop—designed to maximize screen space on netbooks—onto all other computers. But, tellingly and reassuringly, it has listened to its user base and reversed some of those decisions. The Amazon search results by default, which were removed, are a good example. On the whole, I still consider Canonical to be a force for good in the Linux-sphere. My decision to move had nothing to do with the organization behind Ubuntu.

So, why did I move to Manjaro, and is it right for you?

Manjaro Blows Past Ubuntu in Speed

Manjaro GNOME desktop.

For research and other purposes, I keep a lot of VirtualBox images of different Linux distributions. It was hard not to notice that Manjaro in a virtual machine was almost as fast as Ubuntu running on my hardware.

That was a compelling factor because I often need to compile big codebases. The faster my computer can get through that task, the faster I can move on to the next.

Manjaro is faster to load applications, swap between them, move to other workspaces, and boot up and close down. And that all adds up.

Freshly installed operating systems are always fast to start with, so is it a fair comparison? I think so. It replaced Disco Dingo 19.04, which was a fresh install in late April of this year. Ubuntu shouldn’t have slowed down significantly in that short space of time. I was using GNOME on Ubuntu, and I use GNOME in Manjaro, although Manjaro also offers Xfce, KDE, and command-line installations.

So, what can explain the speed benefits? As an example, let’s look at the number of services and daemons that are running by default. They each consume system resources, such as a little memory and some kernel time. You can check on the enabled services and daemons by typing the following command in a terminal window:

systemctl list-unit-files --state=enabled --no-pager

The result on Ubuntu:

List of daemons in Ubuntu in a terminal window.

The result on Manjaro:

List of daemons in Manjaro in a terminal window.

These are two fresh installs. As you can see, Manjaro has 24 enabled daemons, and Ubuntu has 90. That kind of overhead cannot fail to have an impact.

Your mileage may vary, but for me, speed was a big plus point for Manjaro.

Manjaro Is a Lean, Mean Linux Machine

Ubuntu comes fully-loaded with a wealth of applications. Manjaro is based on Arch Linux and adopts many of its principles and philosophies, so it takes a different approach.

Disco DIngo header.

Compared to Ubuntu, Manjaro might seem undernourished. You get a stripped-back installation—which means a speedy install time—and then you decide which applications you want. It comes with an email client, web browser, office suite, and some of the other staples, but apart from that, you decide which applications you want and install them.

Manjaro feels like driving a go-kart you’ve built yourself. Ubuntu feels like a big, comfy, well-stocked RV. There’s something to be said for both approaches. It might seem more logical to you to start light and load up only with what you want. If you prefer the “everything and the kitchen sink” approach, then it’s a point for Ubuntu.

Manjaro application menu.

Manjaro doesn’t take its minimalism as far as Arch Linux does. With Arch, you really do start with a blank slate and adjust the settings manually. You edit one file to specify your keyboard layout and another to set your terminal fonts. When the default Arch installation completes, you have a running Linux instance at the command line. Want a graphical desktop environment? Go right ahead—there’s plenty to choose from. Pick one, install, and configure it.

If Manjaro feels like a homemade go-kart, Arch feels like smelting your own iron ore to make the materials to make the go-kart. But that’s the glory of Arch—nothing is preordained.

If you’re not a purist, or you don’t need that degree of granularity, Manjaro is probably as close to unadulterated Linux as you need. Compared to Ubuntu, it’s quite a different experience. It feels pure, crisp, and responsive.

If you’ve ever used an official Google smartphone, like a Nexus or Pixel, and experienced naked Android, you appreciate the difference. With Google smartphones, you don’t get another manufacturer’s layers of “improvement” between you and the operating system and tools.

That’s how Manjaro feels, so that’s another point from me.

Bleeding Edge Rolling Releases

Ubuntu has two regular releases each year: one in April and another in October. It’s called the fixed release or point release system. Applications and features are developed and tested. When they’re ready, they’re submitted to be included in the next release. When the release date arrives, the whole refreshed distribution is made available.

With a rolling release, the applications are updated in the repositories once they’ve passed developer testing, and perhaps, some acceptance testing. They’re then ready for download. It’s a constant trickle of updates. You don’t get that big “next version” jump of the whole distribution. There are pros and cons to both.

With a rolling release model, you don’t have to go through the system upgrade twice a year. You get new features, kernels, and applications as soon as they’re ready. But the price you pay can be stability. You’re on what’s called “the bleeding edge” because things out here can get cut.

Manjaro package manager.

Manjaro takes most of the risk out of the rolling model by delaying the release of new applications and features for several weeks. Once they’re tested and proved safe, they’re made available, but things can slip through the net.

Of course, if something does go pop, it’s easier to track it down because you know the last thing you updated. This makes it much easier to roll back. That is, as long as you notice the problem—or the problem makes itself known—soon after the upgrade or installation, and you connect it to the last update.

I lost the better part of two days trying to figure out where my ethernet connection had gone. It was as if it physically didn’t exist. There was no trace of it in any command line or GUI tools. Ultimately, it was identified as a self-inflicted wound. I’d built a version of VirtualBox out of mismatched software modules. My fault!

Similarly, too often after an Ubuntu point release, an application I use all the time has been removed, or something I rely on won’t work. Why did I have to tinker with the settings on my Samba SMB mount entries in fstab every time I upgraded?

Manjaro has a neat, unobtrusive way of keeping you as current as you want to be. I like that because you can choose how close to the bleeding edge you want to be—close enough that you can see it from here, or you can stand right on it.

Of course, many people who use Linux don’t want to be anywhere near it. Period. The long-term support and stability are where it’s at for them, with long, two-year gaps between upgrades.

The rolling distribution model won me over. Another point to Manjaro.

Better Third-Party Software Repositories

Ubuntu’s apt-get package manager and Ubuntu Software applications work just fine. They’re a little long in the tooth and clunky in places, but they work. And because Ubuntu is so popular, many applications that are not part of the core distribution—such as Slack—make a “.deb” file available to make installation easy.

What doesn’t work so well is managing Personal Package Archives (PPAs). A PPA is a repository for a single or several applications, usually from an independent developer. To use a PPA, you add it to your system in a terminal window, and then run sudo apt-get update. You can then install the software using sudo apt-get.

This process doesn’t take a lot of time, but managing PPAs downstream becomes troublesome. They should be purged as they expire. You need to reinstate them if you reinstall Ubuntu. They can become abandoned and orphaned without notice.

For many people, Ubuntu upgrades flow seamlessly, but for others, Ubuntu upgrades don’t work. For those in the unlucky camp, a reinstall is required to move to the new version. Reinstating all of the PPAs after a system reinstall quickly becomes tedious.

Manjaro package manager.

The Manjaro repository is one large collection of software. It’s controlled and managed by community volunteers. Package management in Manjaro is well catered to—there are multiple choices at the command line and in the GUI.

If you use Manjaro, you also have access to the Arch User Repository (AUR). The AUR is probably the largest repository catering for any distribution. It’s certainly stocked with the freshest produce.

Again, there’s the yin and yang of being on the bleeding edge. But if you want or need something that hasn’t made it to the Manjaro repository yet, chances are it’s available on the AUR.

As always with Linux, it’s about choice. You don’t have to use the AUR at all if you don’t want to. And in fact, the safety catch is on by default—you have to opt-in to use the AUR.

AUR support setting toggled Off (the default).

Package management in Manjaro feels like a breath of fresh air. You have the standard repository and thrill-seekers can dabble with the AUR. Compared to a multitude of PPAs, that’s simplicity itself.

Point to Manjaro.

Look Before You Leap

Of course, before you install a new distribution, it’s a good idea to try it out first. If you have spare hardware, you might want to use that and ensure the distribution meets your expectations before blitzing your main computer.

You can also boot from a Manjaro Live CD, so you can look Manjaro over and kick the tires. The performance will be poor because of the throughput bottleneck from the CD-ROM drive, though. Live USB is also an option, but again, the performance depends on the USB drive. You won’t have the same experience with either of these options that you would if you installed it on your hardware.

If you use VirtualBox or QEMU, you can spin up the new distribution in a virtual computer.

You can also have a look at the terrific resource at DistroTest. You can fire up a virtual machine chosen from any of the hundreds of Linux distributions it supports. You can test most of the distributions with a selection of desktop environments. There are over 700 variations you can test drive.

Underneath, It’s All Linux

So, my core reasons are:

  1. Speed. No bloat.
  2. Rolling release model.
  3. Straightforward package management.

It’s all subjective, of course, but perhaps some of these are important to you, too.

Knowing the applications you need and are already familiar with are going to be available when you move from one distribution to another is one of the benefits of Linux. You can move house and feel at home very quickly.

There’s always a bit of exploring to do, but that’s a good thing—never stop learning!

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10 Best Design Systems for 2019

If you’re just getting started with creating your own design system, a little visual inspiration can go a long way. That’s why in this post, we’ve gathered the 10 best design systems from world-famous brands.

A design system helps everyone in your business to maintain brand consistency. It’s a collection of guidelines that explains how your branding assets should be used in everyday communication and marketing efforts.

A design system usually consists of general brand guidelines, color usage, brand tone and voice, typography, patterns, and any other visual element that helps convey your brand principles. Use them as an inspiration and a learning material to help you create a cohesive design system for your own business and brand.


1. Material

Material is a modern design system developed by Google. The design system itself is a treasure trove of useful guides and helpful tools that can be used by app developers to design an app that adheres to Material style as well as anyone else that wants to create a modern and trendy design. You will find a color palette picker, typography guidelines, icon design best practices, the ability to create a dark material theme, and much more.



2. Fluent

The Fluent design system was developed by Microsoft and it aims to create simplicity and coherence through open design systems developed for all the platforms. It focuses on uniting the fundamentals of principled design, tech innovation, and customer needs. The system is based around five key components: light, depth, motion, material, and scale. It also lays out guidelines for developing apps for Windows, Android, and iOS devices.



3. Shopify Polaris

Shopify Polaris was developed so all Shopify merchants could enjoy a great experience and benefit from a beautiful store design. This design system has guidelines for crafting every part of the Shopify experience; from admin screens down to product experience and various apps for Shopify. It covers content, components, design, and pattern guidelines. You will also find helpful links to third-party tools that can serve as an inspiration or help you learn how to effectively design for Shopify.



4. Mailchimp

Mailchimp is always cited as one of the best examples for a detailed company brand tone and voice guide but they also have a pretty thorough design system that is focused on a pattern library. You can find detailed guidelines for colors, buttons, alert messages, and every other aspect of their marketing platform. What’s more, the guidelines have plenty of examples and explanation that break down the most important concepts.



5. Atlassian

Atlassian is an Australian software company best known for their issue tracking application, Jira. Their design system describes not only how to use their logo, brand colors, fonts, and other design elements but they also let their brand personality shine through. With color names such as Dragon’s Blood and Herky Jerky, it’s easy to see why they describe their style as bold, optimistic, and practical with a wink.



6. Apple

Apple’s design system is meant to facilitate the design of apps and Apple’s suite of products but there’s plenty to learn and admire in their style guide. For starters, you can download the SF icons which are meant to complement the system font for Apple’s devices. You will also find guidelines and instructions for UX design, making apps more accessible, and accessories.



7. IBM Design Language

The guiding principle behind IBM’s design system is building bonds. Their design system goes beyond documenting their style guidelines and brand assets usage; they also share their philosophy as well as a gallery full of examples of their design system in action. The design system itself covers colors, typography, logos, icons, pictograms, photography, and motion.

IBM Design language


8. AirBnB

AirBnB shares a comprehensive overview of their design system through a series of articles that go in-depth about the decisions behind each design choice as well as practical application examples and lessons learned from it. The main characteristic of their design language is that each component can live on its own as a separate entity and even evolve further while also being a part of a larger cohesive unit, comparing their design system to a living, breathing organism.



9. Uber

Uber describes its brand as a bold, new brand and their design system does an excellent job of portraying those principles. The design system covers the entirety of their brand visuals, from logo usage to color, composition, and even photography, and motion. Uber’s design system revolves around elegant simplicity and subtly recreating the famous U wherever possible.



10. Lightning Design System

Lastly, the Lightning Design System was developed by Salesforce as a way to keep everything unified and easy to access for anyone designing for the platform. Instead of focusing on pixels, the design system focuses on application logic, user experience, interactions, and flows. You will find in-depth guidelines and examples that cover not only design guidelines but also accessibility issues and component blueprints.

Lightning Design System

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How to print and scan with Android

We may live in an increasingly digital world, but sometimes — love it or hate it — good old-fashioned pulp-based paper is still a necessity.

No matter what type of work you do, you’re bound to encounter the occasional page that needs to be printed or document that needs to be scanned. With your Android phone in hand, though, such scenarios don’t have to be a hassle. In fact, printing and scanning from Android is surprisingly simple these days — if you know where to look.

Follow this guide, and you’ll never be caught off guard again.

Printing from Android: The basic method

‘Twas a time when turning a document on your mobile device into a zesty combination of pulp and ink required a cumbersome third-party plugin — or, worse yet, the daunting and often unreliable Google Cloud Print service (gasp!).

Well, take a deep breath and calm your inner person: Such horrific complications are no longer needed. At this point, provided you have a reasonably up-to-date Android device, the ability to print from your phone is built right into the operating system and as easy as, well, Pie. Or even Oreo.

As of the Android 8.0 Oreo release, Google has partnered with the Mopria Alliance — a nonprofit mobile printing standards organization — to bring a native and no-thought-requiring printing function to all Android devices. There’s really nothing to it: So long as you’re connected to the same Wi-Fi network as a Mopria-certified printer (and odds are, any printer in your office or home has that designation; Mopria says 97% of printers sold nowadays do), all you have to do is find the print command in any app that offers it and then tap away with that pretty little finger of yours.

In the Gmail or Microsoft Word app, or instance, you’d tap the three-line menu icon while viewing a document and then look for the “Print” command in the main menu that appears. In Google Docs, you’d open that same menu but first tap “Share & export” and then select “Print.”

01 android print scan command JR Raphael/IDG

On a phone with Oreo or higher, you can look for the print command in any app that supports it — and then print away without any further thought or configuration.

Regardless of where you find it, once you start the printing process, your phone will automatically detect any printer’s presence on your network and list it as an option — and you can print away to your heart’s content (or discontent, whichever the case may be).

Printing from Android: The advanced path

The built-in system we just walked through works fine for most basic printing needs — but if you require more intricate forms of mobile printing authentication (and if you’re working in an enterprise environment, there’s a decent chance you do) or if your printing demands other advanced work-oriented features (such as folding, stapling, or accounting-related input), you’ll need something a bit more robust.

The easiest answer comes from the same aforementioned Mopria Alliance, which has a free Mopria Print Service app that enables those sorts of next-level options. Once you’ve installed the app, accepted its terms, and granted it the necessary permissions to operate, you’ll follow the same steps described above to print from any print-supporting program on your phone. The Mopria Print Service will automatically take over as your device’s default print service and provide you with any advanced possibilities available on the printer you’re using.

(You could also opt to install your printer manufacturer’s own print service plugin — like the one offered by HP, for instance — but the Mopria app has the advantage of working seamlessly with practically any printer and preventing you from having to change apps or install additional apps whenever a new printer makes its way into your life.)

The Mopria Print Service app is a viable option for phones running older versions of Android as well — since it’ll work with practically any phone and Android version — and it has the side perk of empowering you to print from anywhere on your device, regardless of whether a proper print command is present: Simply use the standard Android share command and then select “Mopria Print” from the menu that appears. You could even use that capability to select a chunk of text from an email, a web page, or anywhere else imaginable and then send only that specific text to a printer.

02 android print scan mopria JR Raphael/IDG

The Mopria Print Service app makes it possible to send anything from your phone directly to a printer.

Scanning with Android via a physical scanner

If you’re near a physical scanner or multifunction printer, capturing a document and saving it onto your phone is a cinch: Just grab the free (and relatively new) Mopria Scan app. Open it up, accept the necessary terms and permissions, and make sure you’re connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the scanner you want to use — then look for your scanner in the list the app spits out. If you don’t see the scanner you need, look for the button to manually add a scanner by entering its name (whatever you want to call it) and IP address (usually listed somewhere within a scanner’s front-screen menu).

Once your scanner shows up, just tap its name to initiate a scan.

03 android print scan mopria scan JR Raphael/IDG

Mopria Scan lets you initiate a scan remotely and then have the results appear right on your Android phone.

Scanning with Android via your phone’s camera

Maybe you don’t have or want to fuss with a standalone scanner and would rather just capture something using your phone’s camera instead. Believe it or not, you can actually get reasonably high-quality scans that way.

The Google Play Store houses a variety of apps that are up to the task, but the most powerful and versatile option for documents and other text-centric scanning is Microsoft’s free Office Lens app. Just open the app, confirm what kind of content you want to capture — such as a document, a whiteboard, or a business card — and tap the shutter button. Office Lens will handle the rest, including straightening out and neatly cropping your scan to make sure it looks proper and professional.

04 android print scan office lens JR Raphael/IDG

With Office Lens, capturing any physical document is as simple as pointing and tapping on your phone — no physical scanner required.

You can edit or annotate the image as needed and save it as a PDF or JPG, either locally on your device or directly into Microsoft’s OneNote or OneDrive service. You can also send the image straight into a Word file, where the program will extract any text from the scan and save it as plain text for your editing pleasure.

Last but not least, if you’re looking to scan physical photos, Google’s free PhotoScan app is the way to go. PhotoScan walks you through a multistep process of positioning your photo in different places in order to capture every angle in the best possible condition. It then stitches the various images together and applies a healthy dose of technological magic to make the photo look as if it had been professionally scanned — complete with automatic cropping and an almost eerie lack of real-world glare.

05 android print scan photoscan JR Raphael/IDG

Google’s PhotoScan app helps you position a photo and capture it from multiple angles in order to assemble a professional, glare-free scan.

With technology like this, the line between physical and digital has never been easier to straddle.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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You Can Stream Lollapalooza Live on YouTube

YouTube is streaming Lollapalooza live, allowing music fans from around the world to experience the sights and sounds of Lollapalooza 2019. Performances from artists including Twenty One Pilots and Janelle Monae will also be available on YouTube Music.

What Is Lollapalooza and When Did It Start?

Lollapalooza is an annual music festival held in Chicago, Illinois. It started out when Jane’s Addiction singer Perry Farrell created Lollapalooza in 1991. It then ran until 1997 before being revived in 2003. There have also been international versions held.

Lollapalooza 2019 is being held in Grant Park, Chicago between August 1-4. Artists performing include Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino, and The Strokes. More than 100,000 people will attend the event, with YouTube catering to everyone else.

How to Stream Lollapalooza Live on YouTube

According to the Official YouTube Blog, YouTube is hosting an exclusive live stream of Lollapalooza. This is available on the official Lollapalooza YouTube channel, which is hosting three live streams in order to cover multiple stages.

As well as the live streams there will be what YouTube is calling “curated performances” from the likes of The Revivalists and Rufus Du Sol. There will also be backstage moments capturing what goes on behind the scenes mixed in with the performances.

YouTube Music is also getting in on the act, with extra content from some of the artists performing at Lollapalooza 2019. These include “iconic music moments” and “Lollapalooza themed playlists” called The Lineup and Emerging Artists.

If you’re planning on tuning into Lollapalooza 2019 you can see the full Lollapalooza live stream schedule on Pitchfork. Lennon Stella is kicking off proceedings at 7:30pm ET today (August 1), with Flume headlining at 9:45pm ET on Sunday (August 4).

Essential Tech to Take to a Music Festival

If you attend music festivals regularly, we’ve compiled a list of the essential tech gadgets for music festivals

The 10 Most Essential Tech Gadgets for Music Festivals

The 10 Most Essential Tech Gadgets for Music Festivals

While music festivals are fun enough on their own, these essential music festival tech gadgets will make them even better.
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. Or, if you’re more of a stay-at-home-and-watch-YouTube kinda person, you may be interested to know that YouTube is remastering music videos into HD

YouTube Remasters Old Music Videos Into HD

YouTube Remasters Old Music Videos Into HD

YouTube is remastering hundreds of old music videos, bringing some classics up to the quality expected by modern viewers.
Read More


Image Credit: Swimfinfan/Flickr

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