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.

American Idol

Moments LIke This

American Idol 15 – Top 10

I’ve always been a huge fan of American Idol. Back in the first few seasons of the show I would blog about episodes and do a bit of a review of each performance. In “celebration” of Idol’s final season, I present a season 15, episode 16 review

Olivia – she has shown some flashes of potential. Sometimes I like the tone of her voice, but it has to be “on point” for her to sound good. If she’s just a little off pitch it doesn’t sound that good. This song she’s doing pretty well. Sometimes I think maybe the judges see something that doesn’t come through on TV. So I don’t know if she’s really as good as they think or if I just am not hearing everything. That was probably one of the best performances I’ve heard from her though.

Gianna – She can have a powerhouse voice. Sometimes it’s too much drama with her mom… Her song choice tonight is really good. Major pitch issues here and there. She stays on key a bit better when she can hide it in her vibrato. When she holds out a note sometimes it goes flat. JLo hits it right on. Kelly is really funny, BTW. Kelly definitely gave her the “She’s 15” treatment. I think she’s right too… I think the polish will come to Gianna with time.

Lee – Lee’s got a much more mature voice than his 15 years. He sounds quite a bit older. I like to see him playing the guitar. He was a little pitchy in that performance. Harry is about right. I think if he does perform a story song he will blow it away. Something slow and melodic. Cool that Chris Medina was there to see him sing.

Avalon – Has been very tomboy-ish and informal since she’s been on. But the past couple of performances she’s shown a little more femininity – without losing her street cred. She’s doing pretty well but the arrangement’s not the best. I could hear her on Sirius XM Hits 1 though. I like Keith’s thoughts on her staying loose. This song may have been a little less her style. Kelly says “Sorry I beat Justin!“ That’s the LOLs.

Dalton – should’ve been on the Disney Channel. He’s a performer. I like what he did with that song. Good energy. #electricbarnyard I totally agree with Harry. I think his is the performance of the night so far. I like how he referenced David Cook in his piece, doing what he does with arrangements.

Tristan – a little low-key to start. Needed to start higher, especially with no blockbuster key change late in the song. A little awkward, like she was rushed and unsure. I don’t know why she sang it so low… she did reasonably well with what she had to work with. I agree with JLo about feeling comfortable in her song choice. She did have to stumble through her words and it seemed like she had to “work.” So many singers make it seem effortless.

Overall, I think a lot of it may be nerves tonight. Maybe some people are over thinking or just concerned about wanting to do well… these are all good singers and we get so nit-picky, forgetting we’re dealing with 15-year-old kids in some cases. Someone’s going to just breakout and be amazing, I can just tell.

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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

Windows 10 Office Preview Apps – App Can’t Open?

w10-store-apps

So, I’ve been running the Windows 10 Preview for a few weeks now, and it’s pretty stable. For some reason, the laptop I’m using it on seems to run hot all the time. The fan runs constantly even with no apps open. Maybe there’s some kind of “cooling driver” I need to install. Who knows?

Anyway, shortly after I installed Windows 10, I found the free Office App previews available from the Windows Store. I really liked being able to tie my OneDrive documents right into the apps. Things were running really smoothly.

Until…

win-10-cant-open

Suddenly the Office Preview Apps wouldn’t open anymore. This had been going on for a few weeks now, and just this morning I happened to stumble across this tweet from Gabriel Aul:

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Computing, Internet, Video Games

Relive your childhood through your browser

I’ve seen this trend toward classic computing really take off lately. My favorite is probably the Amiga Forever emulator by Cloanto. I like that one because I actually converted several Amiga disks over to *.adf format before disposing of the old Amiga machine.

But now there’s a way to enjoy some “new” classic games straight through your browser. The Internet Archive has recently added several games from the 80’s and 90’s. Just click on the large green power button, and you are on your way!

You should thank me for successfully wasting your otherwise productive day!

Video Source: time.com

Humor, Television, Who

Doctor Who, the Shut Up Supercut

So, we’ve been really getting into Doctor Who since the BBC America Doctor Who marathon on New Year’s Eve. We watched several Season 8 episodes, and we quickly noticed how these people really like to try to get one of the others to stop talking…. Or as they frequently say — “Shut Up!”

In honor of this frequent occurrence, I present to you, the Shut Up Supercut, created by BlogtorWho.com.