Sunday, June 12, 2016

Prebuilt Computers: Understanding Prices to Protect Yourself as a Consumer

If you're in the market for a new computer and can't build it yourself, it pays to understand a bit about the parts that go into a computer, and what the going rate is for the parts in any particular machine you might be looking at buying.

Buying a pre-built computer is fine if you choose the right one. They often come with sub-standard parts — particularly in important areas like the power supply — but you can find good options. Shops tend to charge anywhere from $50 upwards of $200 for putting it together, with $100 being about average.

Some shops border on the ridiculous though. As an example, here is an advertisement on gumtree for a pre-built computer (google cache link in case the ad disappears). Here's a list of the parts included in the computer, with approximate "going rate" prices for each of the parts that can be purchased locally in South Australia:

  • CPU: Intel i3 6100 $160
  • Motherboard: unknown, assume middling H110 $90
  • RAM: 8GB DDR4 2133MHz $50
  • HDD: WD 1TB $70
  • ODD: DVD-RW $20
  • Case: Coolermaster K282 $60
  • PSU: Corsair VS350 $50
  • OS: Win 10 Home $140

That comes to $640. The price being asked? $1149! That's nearly double the retail price of the parts, or a build fee of $500.

That's a very expensive deal. Don't get caught with stuff like this.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Reverting Shutdown Shortcut in Kubuntu 16.04

The updated version of KDE/Plasma in Kubuntu 16.04 changes a number of the default shortcuts compard to those in 14.04. One of the main one I'd muscle-memoried is Ctrl-Alt-Del to initiate a shutdown. There is a way to get this back in 16.04, just requires a couple of steps.

  1. Open the Global Keyboard Shortcuts dialog. Select "ksmserver" from the KDE component dropdown. Click the "Log Out" entry. Define a custom shortcut to whatever is preferred. Press Apply.
  2. Open the Desktop Session Login and Logout dialog. In the Default Leave Option section, check "Turn off computer".

Now the option to shutdown will be the default option.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Fix KDE Unreadable Tooltip Text/Background Colours in Firefox

In a recent update to Firefox (v46), when running under KDE on Kubuntu 14.04, the choice of text colour when hovering over images or other items in the browser that pop up a tooltip was essentially unreadable. Here's an example:

This is due to Firefox (for whatever reason) using the "WindowText" system colour rather than the "TooltipText" colour.

There are a couple of ways to fix it. The first is to go into the "Colors — KDE Control Module" and select a new colour scheme that has a better contrast in those two colours. Out of the defaults in KDE, I found Honeycomb, Norway, Obsidian Coast, Oxygen Cold and Zion all looked okay.

The other way is to override the tooltip colours.

On the same dialog, click the "Colors" tab, and find the Tooltip Background colour. If it's a dark colour, change it to something light, or light if it starts dark. You might also want to change the Tooltip Text colour to complement it.

Another option is to change the Window Text colour, but this colour is used in many more places, so will affect the look of all other applications.

This thread on the Arch Linux forum has a lengthy discussion on the issue.

Addendum: for Tree Style Tab users, changing the colour settings doesn't help. The selected tab highlights itself using the Window Text colour, the same colour as the text. To get around that one I changed to the Oxygen theme, rather than the default theme. That fixes most things up, but some sites override the colour of the text in dropdown boxes, but don't override the it becomes close to unreadable. Annoying.