How to Easily Install a Full Bitcoin Lightning Node on a Raspberry Pi

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I recently installed a full bitcoin node on our home network, and lucky for me, I got everything up and running quickly without bumping into some issues. Before I will show you the steps on how to install a full bitcoin node, allow me to explain some of my reasons why I ended up doing this. 

As some of you may already know, bitcoin is a network composed of thousands of nodes. A record of every bitcoin transaction is verified and maintained inside a node. So if you are running one, you will essentially be hosting and sharing a copy of the bitcoin blockchain and you will help maintain the network decentralized. 

What are the benefits of running a bitcoin node?

Unlike mining, you will not be rewarded with a bitcoin when running a node because you are simply giving support to the network instead of solving complex computational math problems. However, one of the main advantages of running your own node is that you can do some transactions on the Bitcoin network without the need for a third party provider thus allowing you to save money for the fees. For added peace of mind, you can connect your wallet and forward all your transactions through your own node, making sure that every transaction is safe and secure.

For me, another reason for running a node is for educational purpose and taking a deep dive on the blockchain technology. I am very passionate about this emerging tech because it is already shaping up to change the world for the better.

Without further ado, here are some of the steps that I have followed to easily install and run a bitcoin node:

Step 1: Prepare the hardware

You don’t need an expensive mining rig to run a bitcoin node. I bought the following items, but you can always use your existing hardware provided that you have all the recommended system specs:

1. Raspberry Pi Model 4 (Particularly, I bought the Model B with 4GB RAM starter kit that includes the power adapter, 16GB microSD card, and case)

2. 1 TB SSD (SanDisk SSD Plus 2.5” 1 TB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive)

3. SSD Enclosure (SENDA Transparent USB 3.0 SATA III 2.5 HDD/SDD Enclosure)

Note: I bought all the items at Lazada and the total cost is around 10,000 Philippine Pesos (200 USD).

Step 2: Download the software

Download Umbrel OS HERE and extract the file. Download Balena Etcher HERE and install it on your computer.

Note: For downloading the software, obviously you will need a laptop or desktop computer. A microSD card reader is needed for flashing the software to the microSD card. 

Step 3: Flashing Umbrel OS

Put the microSD card on your card reader, open Balena Etcher, and flash the downloaded Umbrel OS to your microSD card. After flashing, remove the card and insert it into the Raspberry Pie.

Step 4: Plug it up

Put the SSD drive into the enclosure and plug it into any of the blue colored ports (USB 3.0) of your Raspberry Pi. Connect the Raspberry Pi to your Internet connected router via ethernet cable. Connect the power supply and power up your Raspberry Pi. 

Step 5: Starting up

Around 5 minutes after powering up, Umbrel OS can be accessed at http://umbrel.local on the web browser of your device (smartphone, tablet, desktop or laptop) that is connected to the same network as the Raspberry Pi.  

Follow the initial set up of Umbrel and enjoy running your very own bitcoin node. 

I am still exploring some of the features of Umbrel and might write a quick review about it soon, so watch out!

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The Bitcoin Revolution is Here

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Since 2014, I’ve been talking about bitcoin here (read: Is Bitcoin The Next Open-source Software Revolution?Best Bitcoin Applications for Linux). Back then, bitcoin was still very much in its infancy and our articles about it were some of the least popular posts we’ve ever had. However, I have already seen its potential and proclaimed that it could become a revolutionary open-source software project and that it has the potential to be bigger than Linux. 

Today, bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general have already gone mainstream in terms of popularity. Although widespread adoption could still be a few years away, different personalities like social media icons, hip hop moguls, top athletes, famous actors, financial gurus, and several billionaires are already talking about it incessantly. 

Speaking about widespread adoption, different countries have already started recognizing the value of cryptocurrency. In fact, one country has recently passed a law to make bitcoin its official currency. I believe more countries will follow after we will all be able to clearly see the positive economic impact of having a legal tender in bitcoin.

Recently, we have witnessed institutional investors or publicly traded companies that have started filling their balance sheets with bitcoins. To name a few, there’s Tesla  (invested around 1.5 billion dollars worth of bitcoin), Microstrategy (250 million dollars), Galaxy Digital Holdings (176 million dollars), and Square (50 million dollars). 

Although I am not a financial advisor and this site is not about making money, I encourage you to consider investing it bitcoin. Forgive me for not telling you this in 2014 when 1 bitcoin was equivalent to around 500 dollars. At that time, buying and selling cryptocurrency was difficult because there were very few trusted exchanges and wallets so the possibility of losing your investment was enormous. If ever you decide to invest in cryptocurrency today, I suggest that you do your own research first because, like all others investments, there are still risks involved, albeit much lesser than before. 

After promoting Linux and other free and open-source software in the past, I have decided from now on to focus most of my time here in writing about bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, and other interesting blockchain projects. I think it is about time to enlighten people that bitcoin is not purely a speculative asset, but something that is more valuable because of its capability to empower people from around the world. Like most of you, I find joy in freedom and for me bitcoin is freedom. Now, I can safely say that the cryptocurrency revolution is underway, and we are just getting started. 

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25 (More) Funny Computer Quotes

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I have been reading some of my old posts here and noticed one that is still quite popular simply because a lot of us love humor. If you are a new site visitor, kindly check out "My Top 50 Funny Computer Quotes" post to know what I mean. Inspired by that one and since it’s been a long time that I wrote or posted some funny stuff here, I decided to collect a few more amusing quotes.

So without further delay, here is a brand new collection of funny computer quotes:

25. What if one day Google got deleted and we could not Google what happened to Google?

24. Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window.

23. The attention span of a computer is only as long as its power cord

22. Microsoft has a new version out, Windows XP, which according to everybody is the ‘most reliable Windows ever.‘ To me, this is like saying that asparagus is ‘the most articulate vegetable ever.

21. Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain.

20. "Computers are useless. They can only give you answers." - Pablo Picasso

19. If you think patience is a virtue, try surfing the net without high-speed Internet.

18. The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers.

17. “The Internet?  We are not interested in it.” - Bill Gates, 1993

16. The only truly secure system is one that is powered off, cast in a block of concrete and sealed in a lead-lined room with armed guards.

15. "Being able to break security doesn’t make you a hacker any more than being able to hotwire cars makes you an automotive engineer." - Eric S. Raymond

14.  I'm sorry that I'm not updating my Facebook status, my cat ate my mouse.

13. "I am not out to destroy Microsoft, that would be a completely unintended side effect." - Linus Torvalds

12. Dear humans, in case you forgot, I used to be your Internet. Sincerely, The Library.

11. My wife never gives up. She is so insistent that she entered the wrong password over and over again until she managed to convince the computer that she's right!

10. Computer dating is fine if you're a computer.

9. I love my computer because all my friends live inside it!

8. The only relationship I have is with my Wi-Fi. We have a connection.

7. The problem with troubleshooting is that trouble shoots back.

6. Why can't cats work on the computer? They get too distracted chasing the mouse around.

5. My wife loves me so much, she tries her best to attract me to her. The other day she put on a perfume that smells like a computer.

4. I changed my password everywhere to 'incorrect.' That way when I forget it, it always reminds me, 'Your password is incorrect.'

3. A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history--with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila."

2. Life is too short to remove USB safely.

1. Passwords are like underwear: you don’t let people see it, you should change it very often, and you shouldn’t share it with strangers.

I hope you enjoyed our latest list of amusing computer quotes!

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How to Install Raspbian OS on Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+

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After my Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ First Impressions, allow me to share with you how I installed Raspbian OS on this tiny computer as promised. But first a quick introduction about Raspbian. This lightweight Unix-like operating system is based on Debian Linux and is highly optimized to run on Raspberry Pi’s ARM CPU. Its desktop environment is called PIXEL (Pi Improved X-Window Environment, Lightweight), which is made up of a modified LXDE desktop environment and the Openbox stacking window manager. It comes pre-loaded with useful applications such as web browser, office suite, programming tools, and several games among others.

Now, let’s get down to business and give you some of the requirements needed to install Raspbian OS. If your Raspberry Pi is not bundled with a microSD card you should get one with at least 8GB of space. Some of the basic PC accessories required for setup are USB keyboard, USB mouse, and a computer or TV monitor (preferably with HDMI port). The Raspberry Pi Model B+ has an HDMI port  for video output. So if your monitor has DVI or VGA port, you should have an HDMI-to-DVI or HDMI-to-VGA cable. You will also need an extra desktop or laptop computer for downloading the OS and then flashing it to the microSD card.

The next thing that you should prepare is the installer. You can download it from HERE. It is recommended to Download the NOOBS version, but if you are adventurous enough you can go for the full Raspbian version of the installer. The file that you will download is compressed in ZIP format so you will need to extract the OS image (.img) to use it. After extracting, you may now proceed to flash the OS image to your SD card. To do that, you will need to download the recommended tool for the job HERE. Install it, and then follow the simple step by step process of flashing the OS image to your microSD card. It is also worth noting that you will need an SD card adapter and an SD card reader if your laptop or PC don’t have one built-in.

Finally, the Raspbian OS is now installed, and all you have to do is eject the microSD card from your computer and plug it in your Raspberry Pi. Connect all the needed Raspberry Pi peripherals and power up your tiny but very capable Linux desktop machine.

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Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ First Impressions

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I have always been curious about the tiny computer called Raspberry Pi but I didn’t have the time or opportunity to buy one until now. I got the latest version (Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+) along with bundled accessories from AliExpress for $65. I think it was a good deal considering what I got which I will explain to you later on. But before that and for your convenience, here are some quick facts about Raspberry Pi that I got from Wikipedia:

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+

* The Raspberry Pi is a series of small single-board computers developed in the United Kingdom by the Raspberry Pi Foundation

* It aims to promote teaching of basic computer science in schools and in developing countries.

* The original model became far more popular than anticipated, selling outside its target market for uses such as robotics.

* According to the Raspberry Pi Foundation, more than 5 million Raspberry Pis were sold by February 2015, making it the best-selling British computer.

* In March 2018, sales reached 19 million.

* On the CPU level, the first generation Raspberry Pi is similar to a 300 MHz Pentium II of 1997–99. While its graphical capabilities are roughly equivalent to the performance of the Xbox of 2001.

* More info about Raspberry Pi including tech specs can be found HERE

First Impressions

I have only seen a Raspberry Pi in photos before so I was quite in awe of its size when I finally opened the box. It measures just 85.60mm by 56.5mm or around 3 by 2 inches.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ beside my iPhone 6 and glasses for size comparison

As I said, I got the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ rather cheap since it is bundled with a case, power cord, 32GB micro SD card + adapter, HDMI cable, heatsink, USB cable, and 3.5 inch touchscreen display. It is loaded with a 1.4 GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 processor, 1 GB RAM, gigabit Ethernet, on-board dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, Power over Ethernet (PoE) feature, and USB and network boot capabilities.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ running Raspbian OS

The first thing that I did after unboxing the package was placed the Raspberry Pi inside the included plastic case. The plastic case needs to be assembled and it didn’t come with instructions so I had to figure it out myself. Next, I searched on Google on how to install an OS into my Raspberry Pi. So, I downloaded Raspbian, a Debian-based OS highly optimized for the Raspberry Pi and installed it. On my next post I will be sharing with you more about Raspbian and will guide you on how to install it and give you tips on some of the things that I did after installation.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ setup alongside my iPad Pro

As you can see from the photos above, I now have a full-pledged desktop powered by a tiny computer. I connected my Raspberry Pi to my 13-inch HD display and it runs smoothly without lag or graphics issues. I also connected a wireless mini keyboard with built-in touchpad and an external hard drive to complete the setup. As of now, I am using my Raspberry Pi as file and VNC server (set up my iPad Pro as VNC viewer). I also intend to use it for testing Linux distros and for doing a bit of Python programming.

As I’ve said, my next post will be all about installing and setting up Raspbian on Raspberry Pi so watch out.   

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Dark Mode on Apple’s macOS? Linux did it First

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Last year, Apple introduced the highly anticipated “dark mode” feature on their macOS (Mojave) desktop operating system. Many Apple fans regarded it as a cool and useful enhancement to their desktop user interface. It allowed users to turn on the system-wide dark color scheme and encouraged third-party app developers to offer a dark mode for their Mac apps. If you are thinking that Apple is the first to use this feature on the desktop, think again.  

As far as I can remember, Linux is the first desktop OS that lets users easily customize the UI and provided plenty of dark theme options. I think Ubuntu started the trend in using darker themes out of the box several years ago, and they did it in a more elegant way when compared to other Linux distros. Elegant in a way that the dark scheme UI was consistently used and built-in apps were using dark themes. 

Apple macOS

When customizing my Linux desktop, I always prefer dark themes since it is easy on the eyes and it looks good. Dark background also allowed me to focus more on the job at hand because there is less visual distraction. Using dark mode on my Mac desktop right now, I can’t help but think about the endless customizations I did before on my favorite Linux distros to achieve that perfect dark look.

Ubuntu Linux

So to all the Mac users out there who also enjoyed using the dark mode on their desktop, perhaps you can thank Linux for showing the guys at Cupertino that dark mode UI is not just cool but also usable. However, correct me if I’m wrong through the comments below if you think that Linux did not have any influence whatsoever in this new macOS feature.  

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My Top 10 PlayStation 4 (PS4) Games of 2018

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2018 was an awesome year for PlayStation 4 (PS4) gamers. Top game developers have released several exciting titles that made us stay on our couch for much longer periods of time :-)

So let’s get started. I made here a list of my favorite PS4 games last year.  Do please note that my choices of games are mostly action, simulation, survival, sci-fi, fantasy, first-person shooter (FPS) shooter, and role playing games (RPG). These games only made it through the top ten list because of their cool realistic graphics, amazing storyline, and of course their highly engaging gameplay.

So now, here are my top ten PS4 games of 2018:

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

10. Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Made by Warhorse Studios, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a single player, open world action role playing game set in the Medieval Kingdom of Bohemia in 1403. Although this game barely made it to the top ten, it is an awesome game with a fantastic storyline. This game takes place during a war in Bohemia where you will be playing as Henry, a common blacksmith’s son who lived a very normal life until the Cuman mercenaries (the game’s main enemy) attacked and destroyed his village and killed (almost) everyone he knows and loves. Luckily, Henry escapes and soon joins Sir Radzig Koblya who leads a resistance movement against the Cumans.

The Game has a pretty long main storyline with lots of side quests and amazing characters for you to discover. Its combat mechanics are a little bit hard to master and its realism is a bit high because the armor can offer a lot of protection. The swords and gear can break and get dirty and with the armor offering heavyweight protection, you really need to search for weak spots in order to defeat your enemy. It also gets very frustrating when your shiny plate armor gets bloody and dirty after a long journey or a fight because you have to clean it frequently. But still the gameplay is enjoyable and and above all, it does not need Internet connection to be played.

Gameplay - 7/10; Graphics - 8/10; Realism - 10/10; Content - 8/10

Jurassic World Evolution

9. Jurassic World Evolution

This is a Business Simulation game created by Frontier that lets you create your own Jurassic Park. It is a very nice simulation game that takes place on the six islands based on the movie Jurassic Park. It is a fun game because you can observe your dinosaurs roam around your park. You also get to take care of your dinosaurs by feeding them and giving them a perfect home with lots of buddies, and another exciting feature is, you can create your very own dinosaur arena and watch your dinos fight or might I say rip each other to pieces.

The game also features main missions, side missions, and of course your very own sandbox, so that you can create the perfect park with unlimited cash and without your dinos attempting to break out. The only thing that is quite disappointing about this game is the short dino lifespan, but of course in the sandbox mode you can let your dinos live forever perhaps even longer than you. Thus, overall this game is very entertaining especially to those who are a fan of dinosaurs, But Dino fan or not, this game is definitely worth a try and it does not need Internet connection to be played.

Gameplay - 7/10; Graphics - 10/10; Realism - 9/10; Content - 8/10

Monster Hunter World

8. Monster Hunter World

Developer by Capcom, this game is the newest installment in the Monster Hunter series. In this game you can create your own custom character and you are tasked to track down, kill, or capture any monster you see. The plot of the main story of the game is that you are one of the hunters of the new world. You are sent to hunt and capture monsters for your colony. Although some of the old monsters are returning to the game, there are a lot of new monsters, some even bigger and scarier than the old ones. The game also features a lot of new weapons for your hunter such as swords, spears, bows, and even guns, along with a lot of very customizable armor pieces so that you can kill monsters in style. Overall, the gameplay is surprisingly fun and worth your dime. You can play this alone or with friends for more fun and they’ll definitely be amused. This game does not need  Internet connection to be played.

Gameplay - 9/10; Graphics - 9/10; Realism - 8/10; Content 9/10

Far Cry 5

7. Far Cry 5

Created by Ubisoft, Far Cry 5 is an open world FPS game that sets place in Hope County. The main story lets you start as a deputy trying to stop a cult from taking over hope county. After a failed attempt, you are saved by freedom fighters and you join them in the fight against the cult. In Far Cry 5 you can create your own character and equip him or her with various weapons, vehicles, and customizations, and you can also bring in guns for hire in the fight against the cult. This game also features a map creator so you can create your own levels and even play with your friends.

You can play Far Cry 5 in singleplayer or multiplayer mode and it does not need Internet connection to start. This game is really entertaining and gut-busting, but I think that the main story goes a bit too fast. And although this game is single player and does not need Internet connection to play, but you can connect online and look for challenges or online players to make the game even more exciting.

Gameplay - 9/10; Graphics - 9/10; Realism - 9/10; Content - 8/10

God of War

6. God of War (2018)

God of War is an action adventure game that is developed by Santa Monica Studios. The latest game is the eighth installment of the God of War series, and it continues the story of Kratos years after he killed his father Zeus and destroyed all of the Greek World. In God of War you play as Kratos who is now in Norse Mythology, and his son Atreus. In the main story Kratos and Atreus will journey throughout the nine realms to fulfill their promise to Kratos’ second wife and Atreus’ mother to spread her ashes in the highest peak in the nine realms.

The latest God of War has a fantastic and highly moving storyline. Most of the characters are fun to interact with, and the game features lots of enemies, jaw-dropping boss fights, and a variety of enjoyable characters. The graphics of this game is really cool and realistic, and the monsters look awesome, so it is definitely worth checking out. God of War is a single-player game and does not need Internet connection to play.

Gameplay - 8/10; Graphics - 10/10; Realism - 9/10; Content - 9/10

Soulcalibur VI

5. Soulcalibur VI

Soulcaliber VI is a Fighting Game Produced by Bandai Namco Entertainment. In this game you can play with more than 20 existing characters to choose from or you can create your own custom characters. It also features a lot of cool weapons for your custom character and a lot of other customization options.

Soulcaliber VI is a very fun fighting game that features 2 campaign modes, soul story (the original story mode), and Libra of Souls (the story of your own custom character). The game’s fighting is very detailed and is highly realistic because your armor can break, you can roll if you are knocked down, and you can push your enemy off a cliff for an instant kill. The character’s fighting style is also diverse because each weapon has its own moves, special skills, and fighting style.

Overall, the game’s graphics is superb. Though there were times the capes clip with the armor, and the story mode isn’t the best out there, but it’s the fighting strategies that really made Soulcaliber VI an awesome game and worth it. Although this game is single player and does not need Internet connection to start, you can still play this on split screen in online multiplayer mode.

Gameplay - 10/10; Graphics - 8/10; Realism - 9/10; Content - 9/10


 4. Spider-Man

Created by Insomniac Games, Spider-Man is an awesome game based on the super hero Spider-Man. In this game you play as Peter Parker, or should I say Spider Man who spends his time swinging all over New York stopping crime wherever he goes. This game features most of Spider-Man’s enemies such as Kingpin, Shocker, Doctor Octopus and more. It also lets you craft a whole lot of cool gadgets and high tech suits to help you bring those bad guys down. It even has these cool skins — the Avengers Infinity War Iron Spider suit, Spider-Man Homecoming suit, and the Homecoming Stark suit.

In this game you will not only take down common street criminals but super powered minions as well. These super powered minions can either have dark demonic powers, high tech jet packs, rock hard skin, and more making the game very enjoyable than ever. You will also face many challenges, find cool collectables, and even visit the Avengers Tower. The game also has one of the best main stories, you will want to keep playing until the very end because it gets more exciting and you will even meet a lot of interesting characters along the way. The game also has side missions, challenges, and a whole lot of landmarks. Overall, Spider-Man is an awesome game and is definitely worth it. The game is single player and does not need Internet connection.

Gameplay - 10/10; Graphics -10/10; Realism - 8/10; Content - 9/10

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

3. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

This game is an open world action RPG game created by Ubisoft and is probably one of the best in the list. In this game you play as either Alexios or Kassandra and the story takes place in Greece during the Peloponnesian War, a war between Sparta and Athens. In the game, no matter what character you choose you start off as a common mercenary that wields the blade of Leonidas (who is your grandfather) the former king of Sparta and has a pet eagle named Icarus who looks out for enemies and helps you hunt for materials. Your main weapon is the blade of Leonidas that serves as your hidden weapon in the game (sadly there are no other hidden blades in this release compared to the previous) and gives you incredible powers such as bull rush, hero strike, and the good old Sparta kick.

In Assassin’s Creed Odyssey you are on the hunt for the people who destroyed your family, which is the cult of Kosmos (the main enemy) while at the same time trying to bring your family together again. The game has a nice main story and has a lot of interesting side quests all over Greece. It also offers your character a lot of weapons such as axe, swords, daggers, hammers, bows (but sadly no shield), and a lot of armor for your characters protection and style. It even has a few mounts to buy and unlock. In this game you also have your own boat where you can customize your crew members and add special lieutenants to improve ship power. Overall, the game is magnificent and is worth every penny.

Gameplay -10/10; Graphics - 8/10; Realism - 9/10; Content - 10/10

Just Cause 4

2. Just Cause 4

Just Cause 4 is an open world action game created by Avalanche Studios and Square Enix. In my opinion, this game is probably one of the best games of 2018. In it you play as the badass former secret agent, Rico Rodriguez who (after killing Di Ravello and avenging his family) went to the fictional South American country known as Solis to search for his father’s secrets, only to find that his father left a weather machine capable of unlimited destruction. This game, like all other Just Cause games, features a lot of guns, vehicles, and a lot of destruction. It also offers a whole lot of tech, explosion, and awesomeness. Like for example you can have a gun that shoots drones and lasers or a boat that can make the enemy base rain with lighting. Just Cause 4 also lets you create an army of chaos that you can use to help yourself in the fight against the Black Hand, which are the game’s main enemies. Overall, the game has fantastic graphics, storyline and is highly engaging.

Gameplay -10/10; Graphics - 9/10; Realism - 9/10; Content - 10/10

Red Dead Redemption 2

1. Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 is my top favorite game of 2018 and it may be the best game I played since 2016. It was developed by Rockstar Studios and for me it is just perfect, a flawed masterpiece. I could play this game for a month and could not still get enough of it. In Red Dead Redemption 2 you play as Arthur Morgan, an outlaw in 1899 America who just escaped a place called Blackwater with his fellow gang members after a failed heist, and has a mission to make his gang rich again (after losing all their money in Blackwater) and to ensure that he and his gang survives with the law chasing them.

In terms of graphics, this game is just amazing and the realism is excellent that guns look like the real thing. The game also has some realistic survival elements because your character can get sick, hungry, tired, dirty, and even your hair can grow in this game which is so cool. You can also hunt 100 plus animals in the game for food.  The NPCs of this game also feels so alive and breathing you almost don’t want to kill them.  In addition, the environment details of the game are very realistic like the snow, the dirt, even the water.

In Red Dead Redemption 2, horse riding is probably the best means of transportation and the horses are very detailed that their sizes, speed, and faces differ. The horses are your most valuable companions and they can even kill some enemies if you are lucky. This game also offers your character a lot of outfits and guns to use, and you can even go bounty hunting or go rob a train if your money is low. In the game, you also have a special ability called deadeye that allows you to slow down the time and then you shoot the life out of multiple enemies like a pro.

Overall, Red Dead Redemption 2 is so close to perfection that it is my top pick for 2018. You just have to get your hands on it and for sure you’ll be hooked. Please note that even if the game is single player and does not require Internet connection to play, there is always an online mode if you want to play with friends.

Gameplay - 10/10; Graphics - 10/10; Realism - 10/10; Content - 10/10

Written by: Marco Auza. Note: This is Marco's first article for TechSource. He will be writing game reviews during his free time since he is still in Junior High School.

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The Essential Smartwatch: From Motorola MOTOACTV to Apple Watch

Although I am not a watch enthusiast, I have a soft spot for smartwatches. They have tons of features that ordinary wristwatches don’t have and as a techie, I think they look way cooler than your average watch. Since 2011, I realized I have not been using my conventional wristwatches that they are already gathering dust in my closet. The reason? I bought my first smartwatch that year - the Motorola MOTOACTV.

For $300, I got a brand new Motorola MOTOACTV and wearing it felt like having the most awesome watch in the world. At that time, smartwatches are not yet popular but I enjoyed using it because it has features that I thought was ahead of its time. Powered by Android, it features built-in fitness apps, accelerometer, Bluetooth, music player, FM tuner, capacitive multitouch LCD display, ANT+ for connectivity to fitness sensors (eg. heart rate sensor) and has the capability to connect to smartphones to display calls and text messages. 


Although I love the MOTOACTV, it was far from perfect. In terms of design, it looks bulky and there was really no room for customization. As for the software, it was stable at first but was later on plagued with buggy updates. It was also not as durable as I thought it would be since it was made by Motorola. It took just one waist-high drop that shattered the LCD display of my MOTOACTV, and so I was quickly in search for my next smartwatch. 

For around $100, I got the very first version of Pebble. Considered at that time as the most funded project in Kickstarter history, I never regret purchasing that smartwatch. The original Pebble had some of the features that I want such as Android and iOS app support, notifications (calls, texts, emails), water resistance, “always on” display, 7-day battery life, and array of sensors (magnetometer, accelerometer, ambient light). One of the best things about the Pebble was its app store that contains tons of free downloadable applications and watch faces. In terms of design, the Pebble looks plain and simple but you can customize it by replacing the 22mm wrist strap or using some skins to cover the bezel.


The Pebble was definitely better than the MOTOACTV but it also had some crucial issues. I’ve been using it for around 3 years and had experienced several buggy software updates that became really annoying. The most recurring issue I’ve encountered was constantly losing connection to my phone hence the notifications feature was a hit or miss. In addition, the first version of Pebble had no built-in GPS and heart sensor, which for me was a major caveat since I’m a fitness buff. Lastly, although it can control the music from a connected smartphone, it didn’t have a stand-alone music player like the MOTOACTV.   

Using it on a daily basis, my Pebble looks good as new even until today so there is no question about its durability. I just got tired of the look and its limitations so I decided to hunt for my next smartwatch.

In September 2016, Apple released the Series 2 version of their smartwatch. Aimed at enhancing the iPhone experience, I considered the Apple Watch way better than the MOTOACTV and two steps ahead of the original Pebble.  For around $400, I bought the Series 2 (aluminum, space grey, Nike+) in January 2017 and I’ve been using it almost every single day since then. 

Apple Watch Series 2 (Nike+)

The first thing I liked about the Apple Watch is its sleek and highly customizable design. I bought a few cases for protection and plenty of bands (wrist straps) for styling and comfort. After constant usage, I begin to appreciate the Apple Watch for its stable hardware and software integration. Connecting to my iPhone is a breeze and it runs flawlessly that I didn’t have to worry about not receiving important notifications. I think this is the main reason why I’m still using this smartwatch.

Here is a list of features that I love about the Apple Watch (Series 2):

* Awesome display (OLED Retina display with Force Touch)
* Customizable watch faces
* Built-in sensors (optical heart, accelerometer, gyroscope, ambient light)
* Built-in GPS
* Water resistant up to 50 meters
* Built-in fitness and wellness apps
* Activity tracker (motivates me to exercise or stay active)
* Supports third-party apps
* Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity
* Built-in music player
* Easily removable bands and plenty of cheap bands available
* Simple but good-looking design
* Durable screen and body

Some of the features that I wish Apple Watch should have:

* Longer battery life
* Always on display
* Third-party watch faces

Although the Apple Watch Series 4 has been released in 2018, I didn’t find it necessary to upgrade as my Series 2 still serves its purpose well, and looking at the features of the latest Apple Watch, it didn’t tick any of the wish list I wrote above.  

My Apple Watch is my constant and reliable companion. I regularly use the Breathe app when meditating, the built-in fitness app when swimming, running, cycling, weight lifting, or doing yoga, and the stand-alone music app when playing music on my AirPods. I also heavily rely on its notifications feature for calls and SMS. The Apple Watch can do all those things while looking sleek and of course showing me what time it is.

These days, there are still a lot of people who are using traditional watches compared to those who are using smartwatches. I think this is mainly because ordinary watches are more convenient to use for non-techies, as they are easy to set up and don’t have to be charged all the time. As for me, I will probably stick to wearing smartwatches until my heart rate per minute goes zero.

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Hello (Again) World!

Hello (again) world! After 10 years of posting here, I left without saying goodbye. Now that I’m finally back, allow me to say sorry to my loyal readers. Is it too late now to say sorry? :-) I hope not. Now, why did I take a very long break? To keep it short, here are the two main reasons why I stopped: 


* I finally got burned out of thinking about topics to write, writing, proofreading, editing, and posting.

* The other reason is that I got into iOS app development that took most of my free time.

I lost focus, and so I started my disappearing act from the World Wide Web.

Some of you may wonder why I came back after all these years. Well, I just missed writing. I’m now more excited than ever to share with you again all the tech-related stuff that I find interesting. Although I am still quite busy with mobile app development and physical (offline) business, I have more hunger and freedom now to write so I think this is going to be fun.

So where do we go from here? Before I decided to make a comeback, I’ve been thinking about ways to revive the site. Like, should I change the design of the site first? -Which I did. As some of you may notice, the site now has a new design. It is now more mobile friendly than ever and more responsive. I hope you all like it, and please bear with me if you encounter some problems as we are still making a few adjustments and site enhancements.

I have also been thinking about changing the main topic or the future content of the site. Since the beginning, I have been posting mostly about Linux and other open-source software. When I took a break and have been developing apps for iOS, I obviously have been relying on my Mac as my main computer and OS X operating system. So I have to be honest with you that I have not been using Linux for a long time now and have lost track on what’s happening in the world of free and open-source software. Some of you Linux fans out there might be disappointed but I hope you’ll understand. As some of you may know, I also love Apple products simply because of their excellent hardware design and software reliability. In fact, I posted here before that I run Linux on my Macbook Pro.

Moving forward, I’m still going to post tech-related stuff but I will not just focus on a particular niche. That way, I will have more freedom to share with you what I know or experienced. I just hope that the things that I will be writing about will somehow be useful to you because that has always been the main reason why I started this site.

For those of you who stick around and for those who are planning to follow this site no matter what, thank you and see you soon!

Edit: My apologies for those of you who commented using mobile devices the past few days. Comments were not published due to error. I have already fixed the issue and comments will now push through.

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