Category Archives: Information Technology

IT; is the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numerical information by a microelectronics-based combination of computing and telecommunications.

Operating Systems – Quick Update

brilliance controlIt’s time to get past the discussions on politics, religion, or anything else that you might find disagreeable. It’s time to put back on my favorite hat, Computer Tech. (click here for musical fanfare in background)

I have without hesitancy, been a big fan of Linux instead of Microsoft Windows. If you’re satisfied with Windows and don’t care to explore the other options available for mostly FREE, then please go back to watching cat videos… Make a cake then… if you don’t like cat videos.

I’m using a well-known and popular LINUX version, UBUNTU. All of the tools and programs I require are readily available using this operating system.

desktop_image_ubuntu

An image from my desktop using UBUNTU

If you have an older PC (more than 3 years old), you may find it a bit sluggish or you missed the free upgrade path from Windows XP, Vista, Win8, to Windows 10. If that’s the situation for you, I would like to suggest some alternatives.

Another reason(s) to run LINUX is for security, and finer control of user access to the computer system. If you run a business, this is especially important. I’m going to start with this recommendation of LINUX. RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) has been around for decades. They offer some of the best, secure, server solutions. There is also a free version of this, CENTOS. Obviously, free is good, but the better support and latest releases will be found in the paid versions.

CENTOS 7 desktop

Click on image for details

Let’s start on the ground floor.

If you’re someone not as familiar with trying a new operating system or concerned on negatively impacting your existing computer, I might suggest any of the following options.

  1. Go to this page and find out more.
  2. Check out the links I’ve provided (they’re underlined) to find out more.
  3. Contact me through this post. If you leave a contact email addy, I can respond.

There are a few beginning steps to take whenever you try something new, but believe me, trying LINUX is going to be a very easy step. I find ordering a disk online or buying a magazine from a book store which includes a disk, are easy ways to try a new flavor without having to install it. If you have a CD drive in your laptop or desktop, it’s a very simple process of inserting and trying the new operating system.

One of the latest installations I’ve done, are for my grandchildren. I installed Voyager. It started out as a derivative of XFCE but is now based on a simpler interface to UBUNTU. I had an older PC with a relatively small amount of memory and a slower processor.  It’s noticeably faster on Voyager than the original installed Microsoft Windows, and it automatically found and installed the wireless network connection.

voyager_linux_desktop

Voyager desktop image – click for more details

One of my favorites, which I use on my laptop PC is LINUX Mint. The user interface is much like a Windows PC with less opportunities to viruses and hacking. Even still, be sure to enable the firewall and an anti-virus program.

linux-mint-desktop

Linux Mint – Click on image for more information

Here’s a recap. I would recommend the following but this shouldn’t be considered the final word.

  • CENTOS – server distribution for small to medium sized business.
  • RHEL – get everything CENTOS offers plus the latest changes and support.
  • Voyager – If you’re just starting out and want to become familiar. It looks a lot like a MAC OS.
  • UBUNTU – my favorite to use and get all of the tools as well as good third party support.
  • Mint – Based on UBUNTU with an easy to learn user presentation. Some people prefer straight on UBUNTU while others like the friendlier interface of Mint. Either choice is great.

Check out the video below for another opinion.

Enjoy!

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How Patriotic is the Act?

I’ve written about this topic before and as seen in this video, most people won’t pay attention to a story about national surveillance unless the conversation is dumbed down. Just in case you aren’t too busy watching TV, standing in line reading the latest tabloid about the Kardashians, buying lottery tickets, or checking out the sports scores, I’m going to post this in hope that it matters to some people. I won’t be using only simple words or sarcasm to explain the problem. Only those who have a reasonable vocabulary and attention span will want to understand this topic.

Edward Snowden decided while working as a contractor for the NSA, the United States was over stepping the bounds of human decency and reasonable limits when it came to spying on American citizens as well as International organizations which shouldn’t be the target of focus. In the video, he cited UNICEF as an example, or the negotiation of lawyers over the pricing of shrimp.

John Oliver, using his comic style and making absurd references, presented some of the reasons the Patriot Act is a law which may be used as a tool for extreme covert activity by people given unprecedented power to invade our privacy, and to release potentially harmful information as a weapon of influence or control.

One of several Drone types.

One of several Drone types.

Domestic surveillance has become common place for local police, through the use of cellular data capture utilizing devices within a limited area, or drone technology.

Key to the growth of surveillance technology is the public desire to keep people safe, combined with apathy of most people as to how technology is used. This is how a draconian law like the Patriot Act got passed.

News for the Tech Trade

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Swimming in a Sea of Knowledge

The Internet has altered the landscape for sharing information, but as you will learn from this video, it’s only a beginning.

The paradigm shift in research sharing hasn’t occurred as much as we might think. I’m not complaining as we’ve come a long way. Open Source is a wonderful repository of computer programs, but there’s still a lot more that can and should be done.city snapshot

Research, examining, comparing, and building upon discovery, are essential to improvement of education, diversification, societal advancement and the health of the planet. I realize these are sweeping statements, however what if every generation had to discover basic physics and math? If knowledge is difficult to obtain, then so is improvement in all areas, known and unknown.

Just something for you to think about today rather than the latest political and tabloid news.

From a recent email I received.

Ten Things Likely to Disappear In Our Lifetime

1. The Post Office

Get ready to imagine a world without the post office. They are so deeply in financial trouble that there is probably no way to sustain it long-term. Email, Fed Ex, and UPS have just about wiped out the minimum revenue needed to keep the post office alive. Most of your mail every day is junk mail and bills.

2. The Check

Britain is already laying the groundwork to do away with check by 2018. It costs the financial system billions of dollars a year to process checks. Plastic cards and on-line transactions will lead to the eventual demise of the check. This plays right into the death of the post office. If you never paid your bills by mail and never received them by mail, the post office would absolutely go out of business.

3. The Newspaper

The younger generation simply doesn’t read the newspaper. They certainly don’t subscribe to a daily delivered print edition. That may go the way of the milkman and the laundry man. As for reading the paper on-line, get ready to pay for it. The rise in mobile Internet devices and e-readers has caused all the newspaper and magazine publishers to form an alliance. They have met with Apple, Amazon, and the major cell phone companies to develop a model for paid subscription services.

4. The Book

You say you will never give up the physical book that you hold in your hand and turn the literal pages I said the same thing about downloading music from iTunes. I wanted my hard copy CD. But I quickly changed my mind when I discovered that I could get albums for half the price without ever leaving home to get the latest music. The same thing will happen with books. You can browse a bookstore on-line and even read a preview chapter before you buy. And the price is less than half that of a real book. And think of the convenience! Once you start flicking your fingers on the screen instead of the book, you find that you are lost in the story, can’t wait to see what happens next, and you forget that you’re holding a gadget instead of a book.

5. The Land Line Telephone

Unless you have a large family and make a lot of local calls, you don’t need it anymore. Most people keep it simply because they’ve always had it. But you are paying double charges for that extra service. All the cell phone companies will let you call customers using the same cell provider for no charge against your minutes.

6. Music

This is one of the saddest parts of the change story. The music industry is dying a slow death. Not just because of illegal downloading. It’s the lack of innovative new music being given a chance to get to the people who would like to hear it. Greed and corruption is the problem. The record labels and the radio conglomerates are simply self-destructive. Over 40% of the music purchased today is “catalog items,” meaning traditional music that the public is familiar with. Older established artists. This is also true on the live concert circuit. To explore this fascinating and disturbing topic further, check out the book, “Appetite for Self-Destruction” by Steve Knopper, and the video documentary, “Before the Music Dies.”

7. Television

Revenues To the networks are down dramatically. Not just because of the economy. People are watching TV and movies streamed from their computers. And they’re playing games and doing lots of other things that take up the time that used to be spent watching TV. Prime time shows have degenerated down to lower than the lowest common denominator. Cable rates are sky rocketing and commercials run about every 4 minutes and 30 seconds. I say good riddance to most of it. It’s time for the cable companies to be put out of our misery. Let the people choose what they want to watch on-line and through Netflix.

8. The “Things” That You Own

Many of the very possessions that we used to own are still in our lives, but we may not actually own them in the future. They may simply reside in “the cloud.” Today your computer has a hard drive and you store your pictures, music, movies, and documents. Your software is on a CD or DVD, and you can always re-install it if need be. But all of that is changing. Apple, Microsoft, and Google are all finishing up their latest “cloud services.” That means that when you turn on a computer, the Internet will be built into the operating system. So, Windows, Google, and the Mac OS will be tied straight into the Internet. If you click an icon, it will open something in the Internet cloud. If you save something, it will be saved to the cloud. And you may pay a monthly subscription fee to the cloud provider. In this virtual world, you can access your music or your books, or your whatever from any laptop or hand-held device.

That’s the good news. Will you actually own any of this “stuff” or will it all disappear at any moment in a big “poof?” Will most of the things in our lives be disposable and whimsical? It makes you want to run to the closet and pull out that photo album, grab a book from the shelf, or open up a CD case and pull out the insert.

9. Joined Handwriting (Cursive Writing)

Already gone in some schools who no longer teach “joined handwriting” because nearly everything is done now on computers or keyboards of some type (pun not intended)

10. Privacy

If there ever was a concept that we can look back on nostalgically, it would be privacy. That’s gone. It’s been gone for a long time anyway.. There are cameras on the street, in most of the buildings, and even built into your computer and cell phone. But you can be sure that 24/7, “They” know who you are and where you are, right down to the GPS coordinates, and the Google Street View. If you buy something, your habit is put into a zillion profiles, and your ads will change to reflect those habits.. “They” will try to get you to buy something else. Again and again and again. (Note: Reminds me of Minority Report)

emergence from the knowledge abyss

emergence from the knowledge abyss

All we will have left which can’t be changed…….are our “Memories”. (Note: Oh yes they can – and likely will)