ARCHIVED SITE UPDATES & EDITORIALS



AUGUST 2019



What Is The Linux Experiment?

31 August 2019


Today I begin my so-called "Linux Experiment". It's a great day for it: I came down with the flu yesterday for the first time in four years, I got hardly any sleep, and my short temper is even shorter than usual. Perfect! But seriously, I need to get this done for the simple reason that - aside from having promised to do it much earlier - I need to get the final article published well before Windows 7 reaches End of Life in January 2020 if it's to be any use to the intended audience.


So what's the purpose of the Linux Experiment? Contrary to what some readers may think, it is not so I can create a Linux Tweak Guide. There is no way in hell that I, as somebody totally new to Linux, would be able to compile a remotely decent Linux Tweak Guide anytime soon, at least not without a Herculean effort. It is not so I can switch to Linux, and turn TweakGuides.com into a Linux-orientated site. Again, sorry, but no. I may use Linux more frequently, and perhaps, eventually, one day I'll switch to it entirely. But there is no way I'm thinking of just throwing away my 30+ years experience of using Microsoft operating systems anytime soon. Despite its drawbacks, I'm 100% comfortable with, and modesty aside, quite proficient in, the Windows environment. Anyone who tells me I could achieve that level of intricate proficiency with Linux anytime soon is either overestimating me, or underestimating the complexity of Linux, or telling me porkies. Lastly, I think some readers have the fantasy that if I switch to using Linux personally, that I will then turn this site into a pulpit, whereupon I will try to actively convert others to the Linux/FOSS religion, or at the very least, start reporting lots of Linux news. Never say never and all that, but it's highly unlikely this will occur.


Let me elaborate on this last point: I don't want to run a site aimed at a tiny niche audience, like Linux users. Depending upon which source you check, Linux's share of desktop operating systems is anywhere from 1-3%, compared to Windows' 87%. I know, I know, those stats are wrong, it's growing fast, and will soon take over. I've heard this for the past 20 years. Sadly, it's not growing fast, and I can virtually guarantee that it will sit at single digit market share unless and until a bunch of stuff happens (which I'll talk about in the Linux Experiment article). More importantly, Linux users tend to be more technically proficient, and if my experience of dealing with them is anything to go by, far more likely to have their own ways of doing things, their own favorite distros, etc.


Bottom line: If I turn TweakGuides into a Linux site, I automatically lose at least 90% of my audience. I will have to put in a huge amount of work in both researching articles and learning Linux to a level where I can actually provide genuinely useful advice to people who in all likelihood have been using Linux for a lot longer than I have, know much more, and may be very particular about their preferred tools and methods. And if I tried to split my time between both Windows and Linux, I'd be even more busy! Plus it's almost certain I wouldn't be getting any additional revenue/donations. Basically, I'd be creating a rod for my own back, doing far more work for a far smaller audience, and probably killing off the site, plain and simple.


OK, so what is the Linux Experiment about? It's intended to be a look at how a complete Linux noob like myself can install a fairly user-friendly distribution of Linux, the sorts of issues I run into, any confusing, tedious, or downright frustrating quirks of the OS, and of course, the features and benefits it can provide. I'm deliberately doing this without a great of research beforehand, because I wouldn't expect the average Windows user to spend weeks reading articles before trying Linux either. A few quick Google searches, following what appear to be good Linux guides, and that's it. I'll largely take it as it comes. The aim is to be a pathfinder for Windows 7 users who are considering the alternatives when Windows 7 stops receiving security patches in 4 month's time. It's also for existing Windows 10 users who want to try Linux, but again, want a review/guide written by someone who is similar to them, i.e., a relatively experienced Windows user with little knowledge of Linux. This is why it's called the Linux Experiment. It's an experiment to see how an average or above-average Windows user will cope with transitioning to Linux, given a reasonable amount of time and effort.


Well there you go, that's my goal. If you think that I've begun the experiment already biased against Linux, that's not quite true; I'm simply being as open as possible about my preferences, based on what I think are perfectly practical, logical reasons, such as not wanting to write for a tiny audience. It's not particularly satisfying or useful to write material that's only read by a small number of people, especially as this isn't a paying job. Furthermore, I need to point out that while I've recently made this site relatively free and open, eschewing trackers and ads, that approach is not viable for the vast majority of products and services. I've done it because I have nothing to lose; my earnings were next to zero. There's no way TweakGuides would have survived if, for example, I'd released the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion Deluxe Edition for free, released its source, and removed all ads and trackers, during the site's peak years. So please don't confuse me for a saint or an Open Source champion.


I'll report back later on how the initial phase of the Linux Experiment is going, which is to set up a dual boot of my existing Windows 10 install and Linux Mint Cinnamon 19.2, and get it ready for day to day use.


Update: All systems are go:


Click to enlarge

Pretty much in the first two hours of using Mint, I've already racked up a whole bunch of things to write about, both positive and negative. I'll spend the week with this Mint dual boot, then get the article out by late next week hopefully.



More Nostalgia

29 August 2019


Still on the topic of nostalgia, I ran into an old graphics demo I still have, which you may also recall: rthdribl. It was incredibly exciting when I first saw it way back in 2003. It promised an amazing future for games, because almost 16 years ago, it provided incredible graphics under DirectX 9.0, with true HDR, depth of field, motion blur, very smooth Anti-aliasing, convincing reflections and refraction, and a range of other advanced effects. The site doesn't seem to work properly anymore, but you can view a mirror of it Here on the Web Archive, and download the 20MB demo from that page. Extract the contents, and you can launch the demo by executing rthdribl.exe without having to install anything. Press F2 to configure it to run fullscreen, disable the on-screen text by pressing F1 and F3, and press L and/or O to cycle through various lighting environments and objects respectively. Still looks fantastic to my eyes! Almost two decades ago, we already had the technology to create visuals like that on a desktop PC at reasonable frame rates. If you're too young to remember rthdribl, you may not understand why today's game visuals aren't all that exciting for some of us, given how far we actually thought we'd be by now...



TweakGuides Nostalgia

27 August 2019


I was going through some old boxes yesterday, and I have to admit I got a bit nostalgic as I opened up a few of the first PC games I played when I got back into computers in 1999. Combined with the recent site revamp, it made me revisit a lot of memories of how things were 20 years ago. I decided to sit down and spend a couple of hours documenting those early days, as much for myself as anybody else.


The result is this TweakGuides Nostalgia page which tells the tale of the events that lead to my writing tweak guides, and ultimately, deciding to open this site. It's meant to be equal parts satirical and historical, well as satirical as I can be. Yes, I know I should be writing something more productive, so I've planned to install Linux Mint Cinnamon 19.2 in a dual boot configuration on my system later this week and finally commence the Linux Experiment before we all die of old age.


P.S. - I also realize that this Site Updates & Editorials page is becoming more and more like a blog. I'm not sure I mind that.



TGTC Goes "Open Source"

25 August 2019


I was thinking about my gradual move towards using mostly free open source software, and I realised that there's something similar that I can do in that regard myself. You may know that I recently released the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion (TGTC) Deluxe Edition ebooks for free. I thought about the fact that while the Windows 8 book in particular may still be useful to Windows 8 & 10 users, I could make these books even more beneficial by allowing people to modify them - as long as they provide attribution of the original work, and make clear what changes they have made to it. This is covered under the terms of what is known as a Creative Commons 4.0 Attribution license. It even allows redistribution of the modified work for commercial purposes.


If you're wondering why I bothered, the main benefit is that I've done the hard work in terms of researching, documenting and organising the basic information. Believe me, that in itself is a huge task. And much of the information is still relevelant to the latest version of Windows - I often find myself referring to my copy of the TGTC for Windows 8 when configuring my installation of Windows 10. I'd estimate that at least ~70% of the content is directly applicable. So being able to readily edit the TGTC opens up some interesting possibilities.


For example, you can create your own custom TGTC for Windows 10, adding any screenshots, tweaks and tips you want, any links, updates or alterations that you wish, then converting it to PDF and it becomes a handy, personalized reference volume. You can dump most of it and keep the portions you like to add to your own tweak guide for a particular game or piece of software. You can use it for educational or training purposes by inserting/replacing/reformatting any portions with your own organisation's material. You can bundle it with any hardware or software that you sell in a store or online, using your own logo, layout and customized instructions and advice. It's up to you how you use the material, as long as you provide clear attribution of the original source, and clarify what changes you've made, so that people don't mistakenly believe that your final product is written or endorsed by me.


Anyway, I figure it's the best way to make the material as useful as possible now. Accordingly, I've updated the TGTC Page with the source for the Windows 7 and 8 books, in the form of the original Word for Windows 2010 .DOCX documents, which you can download and edit, and redistribute in any form you wish, in line with the terms of the CC BY 4.0 License, a copy of which is included with the document, and in the document.



Last Bit of Housekeeping - Encore!

24 August 2019


I really did think I'd finished the last bit of tidying up on the site design revamp, but nope. So for anyone who's keeping track and/or remotely cares, I replaced the Next, Prev and Home buttons that appear at the bottom of guide pages with the newer button style I'm using on the site. And more importantly, I generated and incorporated a full range of Favicons for TweakGuides. I've always had the old 16x16 favicon that appears in browser tabs and bookmarks, but I'd long neglected the newer generation of icons of all types and sizes used by mobile devices. So off I went to realfavicongenerator.net and created a higher quality set, which you can see demonstrated here.


One small quirk though, for some reason the proper iOS Favorites icon for TweakGuides won't appear in Safari unless you enter the bookmark URL as https://tweakguides.com, not https://www.tweakguides.com. I have a .htacess file that redirects all www, non-www, http and https versions of the site address to https://www.tweakguides.com, but that doesn't help fix this icon glitch - even though the realfavicongenerator site says all of my favicons check out. I tried out some solutions found on the web, but still no dice. If anybody knows why the icon balks at the www version but not the non-www version, drop me a line. Anyway, there are proper icons for the site to suit most occasions now, so I think that really is it for site design-related changes. The site may not look amazing, but this is the first time it's looked relatively consistent and I quite like it!


Update: Nevermind. The iOS Safari favicon issue resolved by itself after a few days. Apple must have some odd favicon caching that can't be changed or flushed by the user. Anyway, the bottom line is that https://www.tweakguides.com now also has the correct favicon in iOS too.



EDITORIAL: The VLC Security Debacle

22 August 2019


There's still a lot of confusion over a series of news reports about critical security vulnerabilties contained in the popular VLC Media Player. I'd like to try and make sense of it here, and given it involves my subjective understanding of what's going on, strictly speaking, its an editorial and not a news post.


Last month, a German security agency called CERT-Bund discovered a supposedly serious vulnerability in VLC and submitted it as a security advisory: CB-K19/0634. Around 24 hours later, here in Australia, I saw it reported on several of the smaller sites I visit, and when I checked, sure enough, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) was now reporting this as CVE-2019-13615. CVE stands for Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures, published on the MITRE site. Naturally, seeing security outlets of repute reporting a security vulnerability that scores 9.8 out of 10 in terms of seriousness, in a piece of software I know many PC enthusiasts have installed on their systems I relayed this information to you as soon as possible in a news post on the front page of this site on 21 July (Australian Eastern Standard Time), the contents reproduced below:

VLC Security Vulnerability

21 July 2019


A serious Vulnerability has been found in the current version of the VLC media player. It can allow an attacker to remotely view and alter data, as well as execute code, on affected systems. VideoLAN is working on a fix to be incorporated into the next version of VLC, but there's no ETA.

Given the option of not reporting it to you, or letting you know as soon as I could, I chose the latter. I'm not a security expert, and frankly, neither are the vast majority of tech writers. If reputable security agencies are reporting it as a serious security flaw, then it's worth presenting to you as a legitimate news story. A few hours later I added an update underneath the news item, listing some alternative media players people could use if they didn't want to use VLC.


Two things happened: firstly, TweakGuides got mistakenly picked up by some people as the original source of the news, because I'd posted it a day earlier than some major news outlets. I saw a marked upswing in traffic, but I wasn't trying to get traffic as such, it wasn't "clickbait", it was just what I saw as another news story, which I regularly report here. Then, when the larger outlets picked it up from their affiliates, most of whom got it from the German, MITRE and NIST alerts, as I did, it became sensationalised, with headlines like Stop Using VLC Media Player, Since It Has A Bug That Allows Hackers To Access Your Files in the India Times.


Shortly thereafter, VLC posted this correction on their Twitter feed:

About the "security issue" on #VLC : VLC is not vulnerable. tl;dr: the issue is in a 3rd party library, called libebml, which was fixed more than 16 months ago. VLC since version 3.0.3 has the correct version shipped, and @MITREcorp did not even check their claim

OK, so it was all a false alarm, VLC is perfectly safe, right? All the real experts already knew there weren't any actual security vulnerabilities in VLC, it's just the Fake News Media, etc. etc. Remember kids, only trust someone who goes by a handle like TylerDurdensGhost69 or UberPatriotxxx on your local forum or in the comments section of your favorite site. These guys know everything, especially in hindsight.


Well, it isn't quite that simple. On the one hand, it's true that the panic over the "serious vulnerability" (CVE-2019-13615) was unfounded, because it turned out to not be an issue for any version of VLC since VLC 3.0.3 (released back in May 2018). However, amidst all the "I knew VLC was safe lol" backslapping, additional vulnerabilities were discovered in VLC version 3.0.7.1 in late July 2019, some very serious, such as CVE-2019-13602 which was initially rated 9.8 and is now rated a 6.8 out of 10 in severity. These were discovered and reported, in some cases by VideoLAN themselves, but have only now been addressed in VLC 3.0.8 as VideoLAN's recent security advisory details.


TL;DR: VLC had security vulnerabilities. Some were publicized. One was false. If you're confused, you're not alone. Here's a summary of what I understand happened:


This is VideoLAN's current List of security vulnerabilities in 2019. The most infamous is CVE-2019-13615. This is the false security alert which I and many other outlets initially wrongly reported as being serious and affecting the then current version of VLC which was 3.0.7.1. It has since been proven to be not-so-serious (9.8 score downgraded to 4.3) and only affects VLC version 3.0.3 or earlier.


However, other security vulnerabilities in VLC which came to light during the same period were not wrong. The most serious of these is CVE-2019-13962, rated 7.5, and only just patched as of VLC 3.0.8 a few days ago. Note that VLC disputes the severity of this alert.


VLC lists several CVE references in their latest security advisory, which VLC 3.0.8 is meant to address. Some of these were publicized, some of them are a bit more opaque (e.g. CVE-2019-14437). So VLC did have some security vulnerabilities that could be of concern.


Again, if you're confused, then you're not alone.


For my part, given I can only speak for myself in terms of the news posted here, as soon as I found out the truth, I reported it here (archived here under a 25 July 2019 news item). I even provided a kind of "apology" to VLC by way of writing a basic VLC Tweak Guide to help promote the player and its possibilities. Frankly, I don't believe I have much to apologize for, given I was reporting the known facts at the time, via established and reputable sources (e.g., NIST). But I've been writing professionally on the Internet for 20 years, I know that when things go pear-shaped, it's usually the messenger that gets shot. Plus I really did feel sorry for VideoLAN for what was an undeserved slur on their reputation.


There were other security vulnerabilities in VLC that were publicized over the past month as a result of the scrutiny VideoLAN received over the wrong one, and they have been addressed in the latest version of VLC. At least one of them is fairly serious (CVE-2019-13962), potentially allowing substantial private information to be disclosed to even a lesser-skilled attacker; it was active in VLC 3.0.7 and only just fixed in 3.0.8.


Why am I going on about this? I guess I'm trying to point out that things are far more complex than they usually seem. Mass perception drifts from one extreme to the other on the Internet. From "VLC is a security threat, don't use it!" we suddenly go to "Pfft.. VLC is perfectly safe, fake news!". The truth is somewhere in between. This is, of course, much the same for a range of other news, particularly political news. In the rush to provide important information, the first casualty is often the facts themselves. I don't have a solution. With regards to reporting tech news on this site, especially security warnings, I'll repeat what I said in my 25 July news item: for better or worse, I'll keep reporting information from ostensibly reputable agencies, because I don't have sufficient cybersecurity expertise to start judging which just-announced critical vulnerability is accurate, and which isn't... from a user perspective, it's better to be safe than sorry when it comes to potential critical vulnerabilities.


Let me put it another way: every source of information and news is susceptible to errors. The way you can tell who to trust and who not to trust is how they deal with the aftermath of reporting an inaccuracy. The real "fake news media" does not publish retractions, it does not publish errata, or even acknowledge that its alternative facts are false. The better outlets do acknowledge mistakes as soon as they can. Equally, no piece of software is 100% secure, but anyone who simply dismisses security concerns about using any software is not someone whose expertise you should be trusting. In VLC's case, to VideoLAN's credit, they've been quick to acknowledge genuine vulnerabilities, they've worked to resolve them, and as an open source project it is far more transparent and more likely to be secure than proprietary code. The best endorsement I can give is that I use and recommend VLC for all of my media playback on my PC :) If I've made any factual errors in this editorial, let me know; my email address is at the top of the page.



Last Bit of Housekeeping

20 August 2019


A few minor tweaks to the site layout to maintain consistency and readability. The main change is that I've shifted the text down by an extra line at the top of the front page, as feedback indicated it was too cramped - particularly noticeable for people who remove the EuroVPS element, whereby the text almost touched the top border. Similarly, I've fixed the spacing and headers on this page and the archived news page, added links to this site updates page at the bottom of the front page, as well as the top of the archived news page, and added [Back to Top] links to the bottom of the front page and archived news.


The only thing that really looks inconsistent now, in my opinion, is the About box on the front page, because it still has the relatively low-res graphical header, and the text in the orange TGTC button also bugs me. Even the TweakGuides logo could do with a high-res spruce-up. However, I made these elements in an ancient version of Photoshop I got from work many years ago which I no longer have, and GIMP won't edit them properly. So I can't just quietly update them to high-res versions, and as I said before, I don't want to drop the orange TGTC button for sentimental and aesthetic reasons. Likely, the About graphical text header will be replaced with normal text, and I may leave the TGTC button as is. Otherwise, for better or worse, I know I should just leave the site layout alone for a while, as too many changes will just annoy everyone.


You may have also noticed that I wrote this update without a corresponding Site Update notice on the front page. I figure if anyone really cares enough, they can check this page regularly for minor updates like this. Don't worry though, I will post clear Site Update items on the front page for any relatively more important updates.


Update: Couldn't resist fixing the last two things that were bugging me. The ABOUT graphical header is gone, replaced with text, and I managed to create a slightly higher resolution version of the TGTC button so that it looks a bit cleaner when scaled down. I also removed the border around the TGTC button, as it was the only element on the page with a hard border, and replaced it with a shadow effect. Unless I get any feedback reporting glitches, that's really it for site layout changes, I promise!



Site Redesign: The Director's Cut

18 August 2019


It's time to put the site redesign drama to bed. I promised a new proposed site layout, but I couldn't achieve anything that looked much better after a lot of messing around. So in the end I've implemented a few minor refinements to the latest design, or as I like to call it, TweakGuides: The Director's Cut. All this update does is tidy things up a bit more, including: the EuroVPS logo has been reduced in size, lines up with the text above it, and moves right up to the top corner. Similarly, the gap between it and the About box has been reduced. The large UPDATES image heading has been removed from the top left of the front page, as it was lower resolution and fairly redundant. The effect should now be that the body text on the front page reaches almost to the top, lines up with the top of the About box, and I've made the EuroVPS logo and text a single standalone element in the code (#EuroVPS), which means that if you really don't want to see it, you can use the customization methods listed earlier to easily remove it.


This revised layout provides more text space towards the top of the screen, which is particularly beneficial for mobile devices. If you really object to it, or are having problems with it on your PC/device, let me know, otherwise I think it's a fairly uncontroversial end to the whole ordeal of updating a site running on 15 year-old code.


I think the combination of the new font and the removal of some redundant and ageing low-res graphical elements has made the site appear much more crisp, bold, and consistent - not to mention, quicker and better for privacy (see update below). I was sorely tempted to remove the orange TGTC button, but I couldn't go through with it; it adds a splash of color to the front page among the sea of grays and blues, and when I did temporarily remove it, it seemed to rob the site of some of its identity. Ditto the iconic text menu under the main logo.


Thanks again if you wrote to me with feedback and/or assistance, and if you see any glitches or have any problems, let me know. Otherwise, I'll now focus on the content rather than the design, something I'm slightly better at doing :)


Update: Just did a quick check of the site using the Privacyscore.org website, and in terms of general privacy and security, the site scores well - full results here, privacy and tracker-related results snapshot below:


Looks like we achieved what we set out to do.


Update 2: I've now also run a quick check of the site's IP addresses and domain through Cisco's Talos Intelligence Reputation Lookup site, and the Spamhaus Project, and I'm not being flagged in any spam or dangerous website blocklists. My server configuration results on IntoDNS check out as always. So hopefully my emails will not be ending up in some people's spam boxes or rejected by their servers for much longer.



Site Redesign/Dropping Google Fonts/New Content Mega-Update

17 August 2019


This inaugural, new and improved, Site Update is dedicated to the recent site redesign experiment that's been filling the front page with updates in recent weeks. Firstly, thank you again to those of you who wrote to me to give me your considered feedback, I read and replied to each one - check your spam settings or junk email folder if you didn't see my reply. I didn't want to run a poll or any sort of mass voting system for this, because I don't believe in majority rules. The majority is often very wrong. I wanted to see how people elaborated their thoughts as to what they were seeing. The good news is that the new fonts appear to be mostly liked - or at least not vehemently hated - by many of you. As of today, I have removed all links to the Google font library and its Open Sans font. The site is now truly 100% free of anything that can track you or report your details or behavior to any third party, as far as I am aware. I made this change for several reasons, and it's not because I think Google is evil. It has to do with a combination of factors:


  • A growing number of people are concerned about tracker behavior, and while I don't necessarily listen to the often sensationalist news regarding privacy, as someone who runs a website, I am bound by the need to address readers' concerns, especially with the introduction of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

  • I don't love or hate any company, but I distrust some companies more than others. Not because they are "evil", but because they have a significant commercial incentive to harvest and use my personal data in a manner that may be harmful to me. Google is one such company. They're basically an advertising and data mining company that offers free services to facilitate their business model. Similarly, I now distrust Microsoft, which is rapidly switching from a software company to a company focused on (mis)managing data, including data I involuntarily provide them when using Windows 10 for example. Even if their intent is not malicious, with data breaches and leaks becoming incredibly commonplace, I don't fancy having my private data spread all over someone else's Internet-accessible servers without my explicit knowledge.

  • Using the built-in fonts on your system to render the page means it will load faster. The pages are already very small, light, plain text HTML, but previously, your browser would pause briefly to check the googleapis.com and gstatic.com domains on each page load. Now that it doesn't, it should render almost instantaneously.

  • Lastly, it's never been a major part of the functionality of this site that it be linked to Google, or any other site's, services. The site is perfectly usable on its own. The fonts were, at best, a minor aesthetic tweak that I added to make it look more like other sites, and more consistent across platforms. Furthermore, there are ways that individual users can utilize various third party tools and services to customize the site's appearance and functionality if they so wish, which we discuss further below.

  • In any case, it's a done deal. Given I did manage to eventually get a security certificate for the site (apologies for the delay), each page is encrypted between you and the server, so short of hosting the site on my own in-house servers, and everybody using trusted VPNs when connecting to it, it's about as private as it's going to get in practical terms. I can personally assure you that I do not have any records of site analytics data of any kind, no IP lists, or logs of any nature stored on my PC at home or on any third party servers. If you send me an email, I may store a copy in my mail folders for future reference, but I do not add you to any internal or external mailing list for any reason. That's it, that's the best I can do.



    OK, now onto site design. The long and the short of it is that I broke my own rule - namely, the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid) - and started making way too many changes too quickly over the last few days. I've always been a firm believer in reducing the number of variables involved in any situation, because inevitably, the more complexity you add, the greater the potential for things to go wrong. As Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry once said "A man's got to know his limitations", and I sure know my limitations when it comes to HTML, CSS and web script coding, now more than ever!


    But more importantly, even the most slickly designed and managed of websites start to choke under the weight of the many layers of gimmicky scripts and assorted customization features they offer. Speaking from experience, when working on GeForce.com with Nvidia, it was extremely common to have staged articles leak early, or entire articles disappear, or portions of articles or certain page(s) become blank or non-functional. The guys running that site actually knew what they were doing, we had a dedicated team with a very capable web manager. It's happened on every site I've ever worked on, both private enterprise and Government. Problems aside, feature creep and bloat also wind up making many websites way too resource intensive for their intended use. In TweakGuides.com's case, the site is designed to serve up information in text form, that's it. There's no need to go beyond getting that text into a relatively clean layout.


    So for the moment, I'm going to retain the current look of the site, and despite what appears to be fairly good support for my Alternative Front Page 2 proposal, I'll let it sit for a while. What I'm currently considering is a slight change to that proposed look, by switching the EuroVPS logo to the top right, and having a simple Hamburger Menu icon at the top left, which drops down the full Menu when clicked. I'll show you what I'm thinking of in a little while. But as I say, let's just stick with the font and miscellaneous alignment changes I've made thus far for now. If you have any problems with the current layout, please make sure you forcibly reload the site by pressing CTRL+F5 on a desktop browser and clearing the history/cache on mobile, or even just pressing and holding the reload button on a mobile browser and selecting 'Request Desktop Site' (or similar) should force it to reload using the latest version from the server. If that fails to fix any glitches, please contact me.


    If you don't like the way the site looks, there are a range of ways that you can adjust the site to meet your personal tastes. Now that the site is ad-free, you can customize it using several methods:


  • The options in your browser - e.g., on Firefox, go to Options>General>Language and Appearance, where you can change default font style and size for web pages.

  • Your adblocker - e.g., with the (highly recommended) uBlock Origin adblocker, you can right-click on any element of the page and block it, effectively removing it. Mobile adblockers have a similar feature - e.g., I use AdGuard (free) to remove annoying elements from pages in Safari on iOS.

  • Custom scripts - e.g., using the Stylish browser extension, you can create your own custom look for TweakGuides, or download those created by others which you like the looks of.

  • You have my full permission to alter the site's appearance to suit your tastes. I only ask that you respect two things: the content is protected by copyright, so please do not "alter" the site to the point where my content is reproduced on someone else's website in any form; and please do not distribute scripts which automatically remove the donate message in the About box. Either of these things is a surefire way of ensuring that the site quickly dies. Otherwise, for your own personal usage, you have explicit permission to change or block whatever you wish.



    Finally, in terms of new content, I'm always looking to add and refine the daily news feed, but it's a tricky compromise. I need to keep it manageable and restricted to what I consider the most popular software packages and drivers of benefit to the widest range of readers. It's especially difficult as more and more companies provide very little, or sometimes no, useful changelists that are easy to comprehend. For example, Google's Chrome changelist now looks like an internal feature and bugtracker for coders, which is all but useless for a regular reader to figure out what's actually changed in the latest release of the Chrome browser.


    But I know that what most of you really want is new guides. After all, the site is called TweakGuides. Let me level with you: new game guides, there's virtually no chance. I don't play PC games much anymore, mainly because it isn't good for, or sometimes even possible, to do with my PD. I also don't much like modern games, they have in my (hopefully informed!) opinion, become very pretty but extremely shallow experiences that don't interest me. Other sorts of guides? Sure, I'm always trying to think up something genuinely useful for you to read. One-shot dead simple guides like the VLC one I did recently, and the eternally "coming soon" Linux Experiment guide I've promised aside, more complex guides depend on three factors, about which I'll be blunt:


    1. Care factor - if I'm not interested in a particular piece of software or hardware, I'm not going to write about it. It's been that way from day one here. I don't do well when writing about something when it doesn't personally interest me.


    2. My health - again pretty obvious given my recent announcement, which we don't need to dwell on; the last few months were bumpy, but right now I'm doing fairly well, so that's not currently a blocker.


    3. Support - also reasonably obvious, given the notice I added to the About box on the front page. I've been in this game for almost 20 years, and I know enough to know that you can't get blood out of a stone. I'm not going to periodically nag readers about this or rattle the can like a beggar. Asking for donations has nothing to do with the "server costs" that many other websites euphemistically refer to, because I have free hosting, and besides which, most sites don't have huge server costs. It comes down to this: just like you, I place a value on my time and effort. If I spend hundreds of hours writing material, I have to be compensated for it in some way, otherwise I can't pay my living expenses. But that doesn't mean you owe me anything. I visit a lot of sites, but I don't donate to most of them. Don't let guilt or pity sway your decision. Only donate if you find this site useful, you can afford it, and you want to see new material. There's no overall "target level" for donations to reach. If only a few people donate, I'll simply stick to providing the current daily news updates which require minimal effort from me, and if that keeps you satisfied, then that's perfectly fine with me as well!



    So here we are at the end of a long first separate Site Update. Don't worry, future updates shouldn't be as long as this. Even though I've allocated a separate page for these updates, I won't turn this into a rant platform. To summarize, the next steps for the site are: I will provide you with another alternative site layout proposal in coming weeks along the lines I mentioned. I will, at some stage, when the inspiration strikes me, finally get the Linux Experiment underway. And the daily updates will continue, hopefully improved by the lack of big text wall Site Updates, and some other minor refinements. If you made it this far, thanks for reading! Oh, and no, I won't be doing any YouTube-based guides or articles, so please dont ask ;)





    To view the latest Site Updates & Editorials go Here

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