Monday, February 17, 2014

Kubuntu Ugly Font Fix

I installed Kubuntu 13.10 on a machine at work today, and found the fonts in GTK applications looked pretty awful. I started stuffing around with the font settings, but in the end found that the steps detailed in this askubuntu answer were what fixed it (thanks Rael!).

Specifically, this step:

KDE Settings > Application Appearence > Fonts.
Mark Anti-aliasing as "enabled", click on "Configure",
uncheck "Exclude range", check "Use subpixel",
and select "Slight" for "Hinting".

It's strange because I've never had these issues with Kubuntu on other machines, and may have been due to the high-resolution monitor I was using.

Update 9/3/2015: Only just discovered but it seems this change breaks text in Gimp when using KDE. Turning it off fixes Gimp, but it's kind of annoying since the fonts go back to looking poor...

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Four-port KVM: Initial Thoughts on the PCT-MP4711

(Update 1/3/2015)

Given my computers seem to multiply for some reason, I started looking around for a KVM switch to help reduce the number of keyboard/mouse swaps needed.

While a 4-port HDMI switch would have been nice, they are significantly more expensive, so I bought a PCT-MP4711 4-port DVI KVM for $90. (An Aten 2-port HDMI switch was available for $100, and while I've usually only got two computers active at any one time, sometimes there are...more).

Here are my initial thoughts on the unit after using it for a few days:

  • It is smaller than I assumed. I was kind of hoping it would be big enough to sit under a monitor (since it came in a hard case), but given its small size I wasn't comfortable with that.
  • Some of the DVI screws were a little iffy. Would have preferred HDMI over DVI if the price was right. Screwing and unscrewing DVI cables is a pain compared to HDMI.
  • You need a "slim" DVI cable to fit in the "Console" slot at the back. Some DVI cables are a bit too fat to fit.
  • Each time you press a button, it emits a really loud and annoying beep. Not sure if this can be turned off. When a machine boots up and powers down it sometimes emits three or four beeps in a row.
  • Occasionally there is a weird delay in activating the mouse/keyboard after swapping between machines.
  • My LED keyboard always remains powered when plugged into the KVM (have to turn off the illumination manually).
  • I did once get it into a funny state where it thought it was connected to a machine that had been switched off, and wouldn't let me select the only machine that was still turned on. Pulling some of the cables out of the back reset it.

Those are mostly negatives above, but in general I'm pretty happy with it and it works very nicely. It doesn't have a long warranty (only 1yr according to the sticker on the box), so I'll see how it goes after being used for a while.

Update 1 March 2015: This KVM failed a few days after the 12 months warranty expired.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Coolermaster N200 (quick review)

Put together a machine for a friend using the Coolermaster N200 over the weekend.

A few notes I made about the case:

  • Compact size, if you're doing a basic general use desktop with a micro-ATX motherboard it doesn't waste a huge amount of space compared to cases that support ATX boards (still a lot of free space inside, it's big compared to low profile cases).
  • The front panel has that "cheap case" plastic feel (as expected in a sub-$50 case). The panelling and inside weren't too bad though. The panels came off easily, in some cheap cases they're wedged in place.
  • Comes with lots of screws, cable ties and miscellaneous stuff (rubber drive mounts!) that are sometimes missing or skimped on in cheap cases.
  • Front cables are nice and long.
  • Comes with two fans. Only 3-pin, so no control over fan speed, but they weren't overly loud.
  • Little bit of cable management space, not a lot but enough for a low-powered machine.

Overall it was a pretty decent case to work with, would be happy to use it again.