Tag Archives: computers

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How chromebooks can be a means of avoiding being IT support for your family

Chromebook image
This piece explains the logic behind getting certain relatives a Chromebook so as to relieve you of being tech support:  I bought my mom a Chromebook Pixel and everything is so much better now – The Verge.

Now your mom may be tech savvy and not need a Chromebook (my mom was). But for some people’s moms or dads or children, it can be a very good solution. Especially for people who don’t travel much with their computer and who have a stable IT environment (e.g. the networking set up doesn’t change, the printer is good).

Chromebooks may not seem good value. You might compare what you get from a Chromebooks vs a Windows laptop and think: I get more from the Windows laptop. If you are good with computers, that true. But that’s not how to look at it. Factor in the cost of the relative’s computer plus the time you spend solving problems with it. When you factor that in, the benefit of the Chromebook jumps out.

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What I find interesting in tech, November 2017


Here’s an assortment of 42 links covering everything from Kubernetes to GCP and other cloud platforms to IoT to Machine Learning and AI to all sorts of other things. Enjoy! (Image from the last link)

  1. Prometheus Kubernetes | Up and Running with CoreOS , Prometheus and Kubernetes: DeployingKubernetes monitoring with Prometheus in 15 minutes – some good links on using Prometheus here
  2. Deploying a containerized web application  |  Container Engine Documentation  |  Google Cloud Platform – a good intro to using GCP
  3. How to classify workloads for cloud migration and decide on a deployment model – Cloud computing news – great insights for any IT Architects
  4. IP Address Locator – Where is this IP Address? – a handy tool, especially if you are browsing firewall logs
  5. Find a Google Glass and kick it from the networkDetect and disconnect WiFi cameras in that AirBnB you’re staying in– Good examples of how to catch spying devices
  6. The sad graph of software death – a great study on technical deby
  7. OpenTechSchool – Websites with Python Flask – get started building simple web sites using Python
  8. Build Your Own “Smart Mirror” with a Two-Way Mirror and an Android Device – this was something I wanted to do at some point
  9. Agile for Everybody: Why, How, Prototype, Iterate – On Human-Centric Systems – Medium – Helpful for those new or confused by Agile
  10. iOS App Development with Swift | Coursera – For Swift newbies
  11. Why A Cloud Guru Runs Serverless on AWS | ProgrammableWeb – If you are interested in serverless, this is helpful
  12. Moving tech forward with Gomix, Express, and Google Spreadsheets | MattStauffer.com – using spreadsheets as a database. Good for some
  13. A Docker Tutorial for Beginners – More Docker 101.
  14. What is DevOps? Think, Code, Deploy, Run, Manage, Learn – IBM Cloud Blog – DevOps 101
  15. Learning Machine Learning | Tutorials and resources for machine learning and data analysis enthusiasts – Lots of good ML links
  16. Importing Data into Maps  |  Google Maps JavaScript API  |  Google Developers – A fine introduction into doing this
  17. Machine learning online course: I just coded my first AI algorithm, and oh boy, it felt good — Quartz – More ML
  18. New Wireless Tech Will Free Us From the Tyranny of Carriers | WIRED – This is typical Wired hype, but interesting
  19. How a DIY Network Plans to Subvert Time Warner Cable’s NYC Internet Monopoly – Motherboard – related to the link above
  20. Building MirrorMirror – more on IT mirrors
  21. Minecraft and Bluemix, Part 1: Running Minecraft servers within Docker – fun!
  22. The 5 Most Infamous Software Bugs in History – OpenMind – also fun!
  23. The code that took America to the moon was just published to GitHub, and it’s like a 1960s time capsule — Quartz – more fun stuff. Don’t submit pull requests 🙂
  24. The 10 Algorithms Machine Learning Engineers Need to Know – More helpful ML articles
  25. User Authentication with the MEAN Stack — SitePoint – if you need authentication, read this…
  26. Easy Node Authentication: Setup and Local ― Scotch – .. or this
  27. 3 Small Tweaks to make Apache fly | Jeff Geerling – Apache users, take note
  28. A Small Collection of NodeMCU Lua Scripts – Limpkin’s blog – Good for ESP users
  29. Facebook OCP project caused Apple networking team to quit – Business Insider – Interesting, though I doubt Cisco is worried
  30. Hacked Cameras, DVRs Powered Today’s Massive Internet Outage — Krebs on Security – more on how IoT is bad
  31. Learn to Code and Help Nonprofits | freeCodeCamp – I want to do this
  32. A Simple and Cheap Dark-Detecting LED Circuit | Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories – a fun hack
  33. Hackers compromised free CCleaner software, Avast’s Piriform says | Article [AMP] | Reuters – this is sad, since CCleaner is a great tool
  34. Is AI Riding a One-Trick Pony? – MIT Technology Review – I believe it is and if AI proponents are not smart they will run into another AI winter.
  35. I built a serverless Telegram bot over the weekend. Here’s what I learned. – Bot developers might like this.
  36. Google’s compelling smartphone pitch – Pixel 2 first impressions | IT World Canada News – The Pixel 2 looks good. If you are interested, check this out
  37. Neural networks and deep learning – more ML
  38. These 60 dumb passwords can hijack over 500,000 IoT devices into the Mirai botnet – more bad IoT
  39. If AWS is serious about Kubernetes, here’s what it must do | InfoWorld – good read
  40. 5 Ways to Troll Your Neural Network | Math with Bad Drawings – interesting
  41. IBM, Docker grow partnership to drive container adoption across public cloud – TechRepublic – makes sense
  42.  Modern JavaScript Explained For Dinosaurs – fun

The Superbook, the decline of the Personal Computer, and the future of computing

Superbook, a $99 computer project on Kickstarter, is impressive in itself. Based on the sponsorship of this project, many agree with me.

Essentially it extends your phone like a Smart Watch does, but instead of the form factor diminishing, it’s increasing. In some ways, it does what the Chromebooks do, but with the use of your phone. If it works well, it is one more nail in the coffin of the personal computer. Already tablets and other devices have distributed computing away from the personal computer. I can only see this trend increasing as displays and memory and CPUs get better. Sooner than later, the attachment of the display to the keyboard will dissolve, and people will assemble “personal computers” from a variety of tablets and other displays, keyboards, and whatever smart phones they have. The next step is better designed and detachable keyboards, along with more powerful phones. (The phone isn’t a phone anyway: it’s a handheld computer with built in telephony capability).

Networks are going become more pervasive, faster and cheaper. Displays are going to become cheaper. Phone makers are going to need to give you more reasons to buy phones. All of these things point to computing devices like this becoming more prevalent and personal computers getting further and further displaced.

You can find out more about the project, here here.

Forget Google Glass: here is where wearable technology is going

As digital technology gets more and more compact, expect to start seeing it combined with new and unexpected things. Wearables will not just be watches and sports-bands, but clothing and jewellery. For example: Meet Ear-o-Smart The World’s First Smart Earring.

Anything you wear, anything you touch, anything you own: all of it will soon have sensors and digital technology in it to talk to your computer and your phone. This is just starting.

CP/M and Computer History Museum


If you are an old geek or interested in computing history, especially the early days of the PC, then I highly recommend you check out the section of the Computer History Museum on CP/M. Before Microsoft and Apple there was CP/M. You can even download the source code! Fun! 🙂

See Early Digital Research CP/M Source Code | Computer History Museum.

How to prevent sites from tracking you – five good links

Do you find it weird when you search for something, then go to other sites, and it seems like the product is following you around? Do you worry that sites are tracking information about you and you want to stop it?

I’d like to say there is an easy way to put an end to such tracking, but it doesn’t seem to be so. If anything, companies like Facebook, Google and others have a big financial interest in tracking you, regardless of what you think, and they are going to make it hard for you to put an end to it all.

That said,  if you still want to take action, I recommend these links. They highlight tools you can use and steps you can take to limit tracking. You don’t have to be technical to read them, but you have to be comfortable making changes to your system.

  1. How to prevent Google from tracking you – CNET – this may be the best article that I read. Mostly focused on Google. There are useful links to tools in here and plugins you can use, like Disconnect and Ghostery. Somewhat technical.
  2. Facebook Is Tracking Your Every Move on the Web; Here’s How to Stop It – This Lifehacker article has more on how to deal with Facebook tracking you than Google, but it is also good.
  3. How to Stop Google, Facebook and Twitter From Tracking You – this piece from ReadWrite talks mostly about the Disconnect tool, but it does it in conjunction with discussion of some other tools. Seems less technical than the first two, if you found the first two links too hard to follow.
  4. How to Stop Google From Tracking You on the Web on NDTV Gadgets has tips that are more manual in nature, if you don’t want to download tools. Also some good information on how to deal with mobile phone tracking.
  5. Delete searches & browsing activity – Accounts Help via Google comes straight from the source of the tracking.

Some thoughts of my own:

  • Consider using two browsers: one for your Google use (e.g. Chrome) and one for other uses (e.g. Firefox or Safari). The non-Google browser you can lock down with blockers and other tools, while the Google oriented browser could be limited to just what you need to integrate with Google.
  • Avoid sites that track you, like Facebook.I know, it isn’t easy. If you have to go on Facebook — you get a call from a sibling asking why you haven’t commented on the new baby pictures there — limit yourself to a few thumbs up and leave it at that. (Knowing Facebook, they will still find a way to do something with even that data.)
  • If you are really concerned, avoid Google altogether and use other search engines, like DuckDuckGo, and other email services, such as Outlook.com. There can still be tracking, but in theory this should make it harder.
  • If you use any of tools, get into a habit of using them and keeping them up to date.
  • Don’t forget to do the same thing on your mobile devices. Facebook can track your activity on your mobile phone, regardless of what you may be doing on the web. You can be tracked via apps just as easily as you can be tracked from your browser.
  • If you do anything else, install the Disconnect plug in and then activate it and go to a newspaper site. You will be amazed just how much tracking is going on. (Also, you do NOT have to sign up for the premium version to get it working.)

Is there no limit to how small computers can get?

Right now it doesn’t seem it when I see a general purpose computer shrunk down to this size:

You can find out more about that computer here: Inverse Path – USB armory.

I believe that soon everything you buy will come with computing built into it, by defaul. When this occurs,people may find it weird to think about non-digital devices, just like younger people might find it weird to see people working from previous generations doing work and not using computers.