Tag: Technology

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Computing, Technology

Back in my day…

There was a time when the computing universe was fun. Men were real men. Women were real women. And small, furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small, furry creatures from Alpha Centauri.

Just thinking about the early days of the cyber frontier… they were simpler times. Personal computers of the early 1980s were rarely connected one with another. Most likely, your computer sat lonely, by itself. Not serving any functions, except maybe exclusively running any program you’s care to run through it. A word processor, maybe. Spreadsheets? Sure! Games? Yep. Nothing multiplayer, unless your friend happened to be sitting next to you, joystick in hand.

Hacking meant trying to figure out how to get a clean “backup copy” of the latest game with Fast Hack’em. If you had a modem, you might try to dial into some local BBS, which, more often than not, was run out of someone’s home via a second telephone line.

Even video game systems were simple. Atari 2600 “joysticks” consisted of one “stick” and one button, called “fire.” No bumpers, triggers, d-pads, x, o, triangle, square, select, start, etc.

And we had patience. Yie Ar Kung-Fu would take over 20 minutes to load before presenting you with this awesome intro screen and music: (Plenty of time to get some snacks and a cool soft drink prior to a gaming session.)

Now, if YouTube video commercials are over ~10 seconds, I basically decide it’s probably not worth that wait.

Then the lawyers appeared. And whitepapers. And phrases like “life-cycle management,” “total cost of ownership,” and “best practices.” And the fun went away. It was no longer the wild west.

This is Toby. He is here to put an end to the fun.

Today, the fun continues to be sucked out of computing in slightly more disturbing ways. Modern society has dictated requirements like the EU’s GDPR legislation. Websites now require you to verify that you are not a robot (…what?…) and that you agree to accept “cookies” from almost every website. And the amount of data Facebook has on you (yes, just you) could fill encyclopedias…

To see “how far we’ve come” (for better or for worse) check out the trailer for Do You Trust This Computer below. The movie is a couple of years old, so some of the discussion around some far-fetched ideas is just that much closer to becoming reality.

So, I have some questions.

Where is the fun now?

I don’t even mean that in a snarky way. Literally. Where is the fun now? Cause I want to go there.

Was it worth it?

Should we have navigated this technological minefield for the last 40 years in order to end up having people die while texting and driving? Or even getting killed while looking at their phones and crossing the street? I’m not blaming the tech itself. More our reliance on it. When the space junk apocalypse occurs in a few years due to the thousands of satellites that are being released to circle the earth, and all GPS is lost, will we be able to get around?

Was it worth the privacy cost?

I don’t know.

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:


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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 below 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.


The HTC One M8 and Sense 6 – Ask the Internet

So, if I were looking for a SmartPhone today, I’m certain that the all new HTC One (M8) would be at the top of the list.

I’ve had the HTC One (M7), last year’s model, since the day it came out last year. I’m not in a contract position to be able to upgrade to the M8 now, and there will probably be an HTC One (M9) by 2015, so I’ll probably be skipping a generation of phones.

There are some things I’m able to take advantage of now, with a download of HTC Sense 6 from XDA Developers specific to the M7.  Sense 6 is an improvement over Sense 5.5 in several ways.  I like the theme capabilities, and the ability to change system wide fonts.  The built-in apps (Calendar, Contacts, Mail, etc.) are all improvements over the previous versions.  The first Custom ROM I loaded from XDA was the Elegancia ROM which seems to work well enough.  However, one app I do have a complaint about is Gallery, which, for some reason, no longer has the social aspects (Facebook, Flickr, Dropbox) that it had in Sense 5(.5).  I don’t know why this was functionality was removed, but it reminds me of when Microsoft did virtually the same things with Windows 8.1.  Windows 8 had the same type of photo collection ability.  Want your Facebook photos? They’re there.  Flickr? Yup.  I wonder if making these collections available somehow violated Facebook/Flickr’s terms of service…. Just a thought.  At any rate, I think I’m gonna reflash and go with Android Revolution 61.1 which is also based off of Sense 6 and see if that behaves any differently.  Also, live wallpapers did not work in Elegancia either.

At any rate, back to the M8.  If I were starting from scratch, which I’m not, and if I had unlimited funds, which I don’t, I would be picking up an HTC One M8 as my next phone.


Really, AT&T?

I received this in my e-mail this afternoon:


Really, AT&T? Just $9.99 per month? That’s it? Funny.  Google Voice provides this same service for free.  Of course, everything Google Voice provides is free.

You’d think, though, that for all the money I already give AT&T each month, that they’d give me a little something extra once in a while.

But, no.  Cool service, but I’m not paying extra for it.


Pet peeve #72

Okay, not really #72. I made that number up. But this is still something that bugs me a little, in a funny kind of way.

We just got new cordless phones yesterday that have a built-in answering machine. “Yay for technology!” Right? Well, this answering machine has a curious built-in “feature.” It has a clock, as you would expect, that marks the time of incoming messages. But the problem is this: When it announces the time it says the following:

“Beep. 2009 7:53pm Saturday. Beep.”

Now, please tell me. Exactly how useful is that information? I already know it’s 2009. I think I will remember that for almost one full year. And not telling me that it’s “January 10th” makes the “2009” all the more useless.

Look at it this way… If you told a friend that the party was scheduled for “2009 6:00pm Thursday” I would really take a long hard look at this crazy face they make at you.

Sorry. I just had to say that.


12/15/08 – I Jump on the Bandwagon

I don’t exactly know if I will look back on this as a red-letter day yet or not.  It  always takes a little time and perspective to make that determination.  But I can tell you this: I just bought an iPhone 3G, and it just might change the way I view mobile computing forever.  It’s that good.iphone3g

This is the first Apple product that I have ever owned.  I hadn’t touched an Apple “Anything” since, well, probably, my last day of grade school.  We used these old Apple IIe computers to learn Logo on.  Fun, in an 80’s kind of way.

I’ve owned several Windows Mobile devices in the past, and I’m just now severing my relationship with a Samsung Blackjack II, which is a top of the line Blackberry-type device that runs Windows Mobile 6.1.  I started looking into a replacement phone because I liked the look and feel of a touch-screen device.  I kept wanting something “iPhone-like” that ran Windows Mobile, and came close to getting the HTC Fuze (HTC Touch Pro) because it was a Windows Mobile device.  But I finally realized, I didn’t want something “iPhone-like.”  What I wanted was an iPhone.

But here’s The Thing: (And I really mean The Thing)  The iTunes App Store.  That is what single-handedly made my decision easy to switch to the iPhone.  The App Store is the Killer App.  I’ve had iTunes installed for a while, and I’ve occasionally bought an album or two from the iTunes Store, so I thought I’d poke around and see what all was available for the iPhone.  I truly had no idea of the volume of the stuff available! And all in one place! With a WM6 device, I had to scour the Internet and hope to find the software I’m looking for.  And most of the time I end up overpaying for some simple software that doesn’t work exactly right, or was built for a different screen resolution, or one of a hundred different things…  The App Store has everything I’ve been trying to get for my old WM6 devices at a fraction of the cost, and available immediately Over The Air!  No PC needed.  Wow!  (Yes, I know, you can download and install .cab files right on a WM6 device, OTA and all.  I’ve done that.  But the experience is nowhere near the same.)

I’ve just started delving into the App Store to see what is available, and I’m amazed.  I’ll probably be blogging more about some of them soon.  (Like Ocarina… just outstanding!)

So, the bigger question remains… Is this the start of something? Will I become a convert? A Steve Jobs cheerleader? A MacHead? Eh… I think it’s a little early to predict that will be the case.  But I was always an ardent supporter of the Amiga, so I already know how to Think Different.


Internet, Politics

President 2.0? Interesting article…

How Will Obama Now Use the Internet Army He Built?


Obama harnessed the grass-roots power of the Web to get elected. How will he use that power now?

This is a good little article.  I think this issue deserves some attention because a lot of people who helped elect Obama expect to continue to be involved.  But I can also understand the fine line that now must be walked by former campaign managers and staffers who now find themselves working for the president-elect.

The rules have certainly changed.  Things like transparency and data-retention are serious issues that are complex but need to be addressed.

If I were Obama, I wouldn’t give up my Blackberry.  I would certainly be very judicious about how I used it though.  It’ll be most interesting to see how he will be able to use the small army of volunteers and “Facebook followers” that have been built up over the past two years.  You see, it’s great that President-elect Obama uses technology to establish a two-way communication between the governed and the government, but he also doesn’t want to create a fundamental gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots.”  Believe it or not, there are still people who don’t spend their days YouTubing.

There is a lot of potential here.  But the right balance has to be struck, and that little ballet will be entertaining to watch.


Playing with Linux (again)

Well, I’ve set up an older computer I have at home in order to play with a more stable Linux box. I’ve always loaded/reloaded different Linux flavors over and over again, just long enough to get the desktop looking how I wanted, and then, boom, I’d reload it with something else.

Well, I’ve got this one a little bit operational. I’ve installed Ubuntu 8.10, added Apache2, MySQL, and PHP. (Otherwise known as a LAMP setup.)

I’ve thrown a couple of installations of the latest beta of WordPress up there on two virtual http servers just to play with internally. I’m supposed to help Russ redesign the Shinnston Community Band website and I thought using WordPress would be perfect. Now, I can design away and change as much as I want without worrying about messing anything up. When I get something that looks like it might work, I can open up the firewall and let Russ take a peek.

On another front, I finished reading “On The Edge: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore” tonight. I really enjoyed that book. It amazes me how much the history of the personal computer industry has been “rewritten” basically to exclude Commodore. It seems like everyone wants to focus on Apple and IBM (and PC clones) and decide, firmly crooked, that that is where the industry started. Hmmm. It just must seem so romantic that Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak invented the whole personal computer industry right from their garage! I don’t know…

Another thing fascinating regarding that book: The cast of characters involved in making Commodore what it was. That must have been an amazing place to work, in a very interesting period to work. If you are at all interested in the history of the personal computer (maybe you even owned a Commodore 64) I definitely recommend reading that book. Very educational.