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Event, Technology

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What a tumultuous year it’s been! Every year, Google summarizes the year in search, and this year they’ve settled on trying to find the answer to a simple, but important question: “How?”

How implies action. How implies change. “By what means can one reach an end?”

This year saw turmoil and disaster. But it also saw organization and relief. And as long as people continue asking “How?” there’s hope.

 

Computing, Internet, Technology

Ignite in the rear-view mirror

One week after Microsoft Ignite 2017, and I think it’s a good time to take a look back. The keynote speech by Satya Nadella was inspiring. I have to admit, the discussion about quantum computing went over my head. The one question I have: If Windows 10 crashes on a quantum computer, does the universe come to an end?

I enjoyed connecting with and meeting several of the speakers and presenters. A few to point out: Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President of the Enterprise Client & Mobility Team; Michael Niehaus, Microsoft DIrector of Product Marketing; Dona Sarkar, Head of the Windows Insider Program at Microsoft, along with the other #NinjaCats: Blair Glennon, Jason Howard, and Jen Gentleman, among others.

Listening to some of the Windows deployment speakers, such as Mike Nystrom and Johan Arwidmark was incredibly informative. These guys are well-known for their blogs relating to SCCM deployment and it was great to talk with them in person.

Also, this is cool:

Brad Anderson’s Lunch Break featured Brad riding a golf cart around the bus loop at the Orange County Convention Center. Participants could ask Brad anything… My question for Brad didn’t make it to the video, but my selfie did! The entire video can be seen here:

The most beneficial speakers and sessions I’ve linked to below:

All presentations and slide decks are available at the Microsoft Ignite website for viewing. Nerds of the world, tune in and see what you think!

Computing, Technology

Microsoft Ignite 2017

This year I am experiencing my first Microsoft Ignite conference in Orlando, Florida. I was prepared to be blown away by all the innovations, and it sure is overwhelming!

To follow along this week, just follow #MSIgnite on Twitter.

I will (probably) write up something a bit more comprehensive when this is all over. I don’t want to spend all this week in Orlando typing behind a laptop when I could be experiencing Ignite. So, more coming soon!

Microsoft Ignite 2017: Opening Video

Day One:

Tweets:

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Internet, Technology

Staying anonymous on the Internet

Part One

So, thanks to our wonderful, outstanding, useful, totally not-bought-and-paid-for United States Congress® combined with our Reality-TV-star president, there is a very good possibility that your online activity soon can and will be collected and sold without your express permission.

Up until now, Internet Service Providers, who can track all of your online activity, had to get your express permission to collect and sell such information. (Of course, how many people read the entire Terms and Conditions before clicking “OK.” But it was at least nice of them to ask. So it’s likely that we’ve already voluntarily signed a lot of rights away in exchange for a service.)

But there are ways to obfuscate quite a bit of your online activity. In this video, former hacker and current author Kevin Mitnick explains some things you can do to protect yourself.

Now, some of these suggestions only help protect your information and not necessarily your browsing habits. If you visit bankofamerica.com, even with secure sockets layer enabled, your ISP will still know you’ve visited the site. They just can’t see what you’ve done there. Using TOR, as also suggested in the video, would help prevent that type of monitoring.

None of these suggestions is a guarantee of safety or anonymity. They just help.

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Technology

Leo Laporte explains the need for strong encryption

This is one of the best explanations I’ve heard for keeping our devices strongly encrypted. The video above starts at 29 minutes and 34 seconds in… He continues on the subject for several minutes, at least through 38:26.

You can’t lower your guard without lowering it for everyone.

And that’s the key.

When you reduce security, it’s not just for bad guys, and it’s not just the government that gets access to that. It’s everybody.

Well said, Leo.

Featured, News, Technology

The Day of the ‘Challenger’

The ramblings of an adult remembering the shuttle accident through the eyes of a twelve year old.

So I remember that day quite well. In north-central West Virginia, January 28, 1986 was a snow day. No school in Harrison County. Those are the words every twelve year old loves to hear in January. Back then, we still had our summers, filled with basketball and music. (I always liked to type up the Top 40 tunes each week, as announced by Casey Kasem, on a typewriter. The red ribbon would be saved for the number one song!) Also, they didn’t keep extending the school year into the middle of June, nor start in August, to make up for missed snow days, like today.

c-128-screen
A Commodore 128 BASIC screen. At the ready.

Anyway, that particular Tuesday morning, I was busy plugging away at a computer keyboard in my bedroom. I was (what do you mean, was?) one of those nerdy kids. Synchronized-watch-with-the-school-bell kinda nerdy kids. Yeah, I really did that kind of thing… That morning I was busy writing a basketball simulation program on a Commodore 128 computer. I don’t have a screenshot of that program or a copy of it anywhere, but I remember it well. It was a side-on shot of a basketball court and backboard. When you pressed the space bar a basketball would head toward the hoop and it would randomly vary a few pixels left or right, and occasionally you’d “make a basket.” Anyway, it was just the kind of thing I was likely to do on a snow day.

“Jay, come in here,” mom yelled from the living room. “The shuttle’s going up.” “Oh, yeah, that’s happening today,” I thought. So… pack it up on the C-128, and head into the living room.

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Computing, Technology

90’s CGI memories

I’ve been undertaking a project recently to convert old VHS/VHS-C/Digital video tapes to a digital format to store on my home network Synology. It’s nice to have a backup and it’s also nice to be able to pull up any home video just within a few clicks.

Well, I happened to stumble across a video from 1990 titled “The Mind’s Eye.” It’s a collection of late 80’s CGI animation that obviously pales in comparison to the stuff in theaters today, but it certainly showed “what was possible” with technology, even in those early stages of computer animation.

Imagine my surprise (not really) when I discovered that the entire video is available on YouTube. So that’s one less video tape I have to convert…

Among the nuggets in the video is Stanley & Stella in: Breaking the Ice. It was the first computer animated short that I can remember emotionally connecting with. Give it a watch.

If you don’t want to sit through the entire Mind’s Eye video, you can find Stanley and Stella right here. Enjoy!

Computing, Technology

The most viewed picture of all time?

Some believed it was CGI. But here’s the real story behind one of the most unforgettable desktop wallpapers in history, “Bliss.”

The story is told by photographer Charles O’Rear, a resident of nearby Napa Valley, California.

As Microsoft finally puts Windows XP out to pasture, here is an interesting story about one of the most viewed photographs of all time.