Blog Index for 2017

Amazon Adsystem SSL certificate will be distrusted in Chrome M70

(December 28, 2017)

Google is pushing the Web towards using HTTPS Everywhere. The browser makers are collectively preparing to DISTRUST PKI certificates issued by Symantec Corporation’s PKI prior to June 1, 2016. It's been determined those certificates had some kind of badness to them, and that Symantec had allowed untrustworthy partners to distribute SSL certificates. To remedy the situation browser makers will shortly begin phasing in a repudiation of these SSL certificates. The plan is resulting in ominous warning messages in browser JavaScript console saying that Chrome M70 will refuse to load affected resources. In this case it will impact advertising assets loaded from Amazon's infrastructure ... eep

Reading Kindle books on Linux, supporting a switch to Linux

(December 10, 2017)

Electronic books are a big thing, making it possible to own a vast library without the bookshelves. The Kindle marketplace is the largest e-book marketplace, and unfortunately Amazon does not support the industry-standard eBook format, EPUB3, and instead stays with its proprietary MOBI-based eBook format. Reading Kindle books, then, requires using a Kindle device or a Kindle application. And, of course, Amazon doesn't make a Kindle application for Linux. Since we are pondering a switch from macOS to Linux, how do we solve this problem?

How to replace macOS with a fully open source Linux system

(December 8, 2017)

Maybe the direction Apple and Microsoft are taking is not aggreable in that both are seeking tighter control over what we do with our computers. Both are businesses and obviously will try to extract as much money from us as possible. In the case of Apple, their computers are increasingly closed boxes that cannot be opened and repaired. Instead you're faced to pay ridiculous prices for upgrades and repair, which lines Apple's pockets at our expense. As a what if exercise, I'm thinking over what it would take to supplant macOS with a Linux system (won't ever go back to Windows).

How to get Windows 10 Professional for free

(December 6, 2017)

That you can download a trial version of Windows 10 Professional from Microsoft's website is mindblowing for those of us who remember the old Microsoft, and the Microsoft Police trying to enforce software piracy. But what you get is a time-limited system, for which you must pay $199 for a software license. It's still Microsoft, after all, just a little friendlier. But, what if there's a way to get Windows 10 Professional essentially free? We're not going to crack Windows 10 Professional, but explore a way to get a perfectly reasonable Windows computer that runs Microsoft's latest OS.

Bypassing the NY Times paywall, and read NY Times content for free

(December 1, 2017)

The NY Times paywall is frustrating - you see an important bit of news, such as General Michael Flynn having made a plea deal and entering a Guilty Plea for having lied about his Russia entanglements, you want to read it, but you're told you're past the number of free articles per month. It was somewhat acceptable when the NY Times limited you to 10 articles a month, but now the limit is 5 articles per month, plus the NYFREE bookmarklet in my browser no longer works. Shouldn't I just pay the NY Times subscription fee? Is there a new bookmarklet for reading NY Times for free? Are there other ways around the paywall?

Fake new viral picture of Obama as New Black Panthers is obvious forgery, still gets passed around

(November 13, 2017)

We're facing a War on Truth, where certain actors hope we'll all become confused about what's true and what's false. Presumably if we cannot collectively discern the truth, then society is easier to control? In any case, this image of President Obama is going around claiming to show PROOF he is a SECRET RADICAL member of the New Black Panthers. If one bothers to look closely, it's clearly a poor photoshop job. Fortunately Google Image Search finds us the actual image, as well as a fake-news-debunking site showing the true story.

Facebook exploits vulnerabilities in human psychology, says early President of Facebook

(November 10, 2017)

Facebook is a global phenomena, connecting billions of people around the planet. Supposedly it is creating lots of social good by being the interconnection medium for folks from anywhere to talk with folks anywhere else. Facebook did not birth itself whole into the form it is currently. Instead, Facebook was crafted by its leadership, especially its early leadership. Famously it was started by Mark Zuckerberg as something for the Harvard University campus. According to Sean Parker, who was the Facebook President during its early days, it was Parker's vision that put Facebook on the path of becoming the global behemoth it is today. And Sean Parker is deeply sorry, claiming that maybe he has destroyed humanity.

The cheapest iPhone is a refurbished phone, rather than building one yourself, says Scotty, the DIY iPhone Guy

(November 3, 2017)

A couple months ago an amazing video popped up on YouTube, a guy had built his own iPhone from spare parts. He followed that up with another video about hacking an iPhone 7 to have a headphone jack. As a result, Scotty (his name) has been getting lots of questions about whether building your own iPhone is the cheapest way to get a new iPhone. His answer, "No", falls in line with my observation on the cheapest way to get an iPhone X, Apple's newest iPhone that goes on sale today for over $1000 apiece.

Apple is playing a game on us all. They've learned how to make us lust after the latest gizmo, and how to make us think a 2-3 year old phone is worthless. Apple has one of the largest Market Cap's in history by playing that game. However, we can play that game a different way and save ourselves a ton of money.

DIY Build your own laptop for under $100

(October 27, 2017)

Tired of paying thousands of dollars for laptops you can't customize? We used to be able to take apart laptops, fix anything, upgrade them any way we want. Increasingly we're facing laptop choices where the need-for-thin and lightweighting means laptops are glued together, with components soldered to logic boards, and the whole thing is unfixable and unupgradeable. One response is what I've done - this is being typed on a 2012 MacBook Pro that's upgraded to the max in the hope it'll remain viable until sometime in the future when Apple wakes up to what we want. The mindset currently running Apple is missing something big.

Another choice is what's shown in this video -- find out a way to make your own laptop using cheap DIY methods. DIY computer hardware is growing more powerful every year. The exact build shown here is pretty ridiculous, so we should treat this as demonstration of a minimum-viable-product rather than a completed anything. Namely, the build shown here is a Raspberry Pi in a rough cardboard case, a pair of 18650 battery cells with a voltage regulator for power, various hacked up cables, a simple HDMI for display, and everything hot-glued together.

There are several ways to improve on this -- for example the Orange Pi and Banana Pi lines both include boards with 2GB of memory and support SATA drives -- hello large SSD for fast mass storage. And it should be possible to rig up a proper rigid case and a better keyboard/mouse. For a display it's possible to get a laptop display, remove the LCD portion, find an HDMI driver board, and rig it up in a bezel.

Turbo Encabulator inspired Rockwell's Retro Encabulator, the Micro Encabulator and more

(October 22, 2017)

Encabulator Transmissions supplying inverse reactive current for use in unilateral phase detractors, and is also capable of automatically synchronizing with cardinal grammeters. These are important attributes in modern control systems, as anyone in the know will tell you. The Turbo Encabulator launched a wave of machines using Encabulator technology. Instead of power being generated by the relative motion of conductors and magnetic fluxes, the Turbo Encabulator produced power by the modial interaction of magneto reluctance and capacitive duractance. Originally they used a base of prefabulated ammulite built to keep the spurving bearings in direct line with a panametric fam built using marzalvanes. The Turbo Encabulator shown in this video has undergone much development, and is successfully being used in novertrunions.

Encabulator technology became most popular when Rockwell developed the Retro Encabulator. Chrysler got involved by applying the technology to the Dodge Viper.

Because little or nothing is known about the principles involved in magneto reluctance, diagnosing faults can be a problem. Fortunately a diagnosis machine, the DRB2, is available. It is connected to the aft-end of the moxiinterrupter, using adapter WUPV2. The most common fault is sigmoid rumbling below the belt-line, that customers will describe as a burping or hiccuping noise. The Turbo Encabulator Diangnostic Procedures and Songbook contains instructions for any repair.

After 2010, the cost of the grammeters and other parts of the traditional Encabulator design drove some to develop a less expensive version. It would found using 3 hydrocoptic marzalvanes instead of the usual 6 achieved the same effect, at lower cost. A Jeffrey's Tube connected the marzalvanes to a quasilubial waneshaft they custom 3D printed in the shop. Another innovation is replacing the grammeters with low-cost multiplexing.

Google search ranking and YouTube monetization changes - demoting fake news while harming legitimate sources

(October 19, 2017)

Fake News constitutes a war on Truth, in that the more fake news is bandied about, the more confused we all are, making our collective decisions worse than they should be. The election of our dear President Donald Trump is an example of a horrible collective decision based on fake news. Other examples include the continued dependence on harmful fossil fuel consumption, and the fake news campaigns combatting the truth that fossil fuels poison everything around us, causes climate change, etc. To combat Fake News, Google, Facebook, and other search engines or social media websites, are working on their ranking algorithms to detect and supress fake news. Unfortunately many legitimate news sources are being harmed in the process.

Google is the 8-million-pound-gorilla in both search engines and online video. As cool as DuckDuckGo is, it doesn't bring as many organic search visitors as does Google's search engine. Website publishers, online authors, and video content creators alike are all dependent on Google's search ranking algorithms to bring visitors. For years Google has been fighting against spammers (a form of fake news) by tweaking its search results algorithms. Those tweaks have dramatic results on search traffic going to a given website, or viewing a given video, or the advertising revenue from a video. Hopefully it's having the desired effect, in that fake news sites are losing prominence. Indications are that several prominent legitimate news sources are being harmed either from lost traffic or lost ad revenue.

Cryptomining for altcoins (Magi Coin) on linux single board computers

(October 19, 2017)

Bitcoin's value is flying high currently making for lots of interest in how you earn Bitcoin. One earns any cryptocurrency by "mining", which is putting your computer's CPU power to work helping to maintain the blockchain used by the particular currency. In the Bitcoin market, the only mining equipment that is profitable are expensive ASIC-based equipment running extremely custom hardware produced for the specific task of Bitcoin mining. CPU mining, or using a regular computer, is completely untenable for mining Bitcoin, but some other cryptocurrencies are still open to CPU mining.

Because the ARM-based Linux single board computers (like the Raspberry Pi) have extremely low power consumption, they're attractive for this task. The video below goes over the steps required to set up cryptomining on Linux single-board-computers for a specific cryptocurrency.

The primary advantage is their extremely low power consumption. The main cost any cryptocurrency miner faces is the electricity required to power the machine.

Plex says - This server is not powerful enough to convert video

(October 15, 2017)

Plex can run on low-end computer hardware and still stream video to one or more Plex clients. For example, Drobo file-server appliances can run Plex making for a powerful combination of large data storage capacity and a powerful video server application. Depending on the videos in your collection, Plex may want to transcode the video on the server. That's fine unless the server is not powerful enough to convert (a.k.a. transcode) video.

Why doesn't Amazon's Kindle allow reading EPUB files?

(October 15, 2017)

The EPUB3 format has been documented in the open since 2010, but Amazon hasn't seen fit to implement it on the Kindle. Instead, Amazon uses a proprietary version of the MOBI format. Since the Kindle is such a dominant force in electronic books, the whole e-Book market is being held back. As I pointed out the other day, e-Reader innovation hasn't stalled, the public is prevented from enjoying the advances which have occurred, because of Amazon's actions. Amazon doesn't say why they've done this.

Easily installing Plex with Docker - easiest home media server

(October 14, 2017)

Among video/media servers for the home, Plex is perhaps the most popular. It is supplied using a Freemium model, where the basic service is free, and you pay for extended features. Client apps for mobile computers are available, as well. The idea is to store a video archive on one computer, accessing the videos from anywhere on your home network either via a web browser or a mobile device app. With a little extra work you can additionally access your video library from anywhere, so long as your home network is available 24/7 on a relatively fast Internet connection.

The simplest way to install Plex is by using Docker. A few simple commands, assuming your computer already has Docker, and Plex is up and running with no muss, no fuss.

Google starting to purge free Google Apps for Domain accounts?

(October 13, 2017)

Back in the day, Google offered an amazingly free service called "Google Apps for your Domain". The service bundled together GMAIL, Google Drive/Docs/etc, and many other Google services, into an account branded with the domain name of your choice. If that sounds familiar, Google calls the service "G Suite" today, and it is currently offered only at a fee. For a fee you can attach a long list of Google services to your own domain, and have Google-managed email and document storage/editing, and more. Before this was called G Suite, it was called Google Apps, and there was a free tier of service. Anyone with a domain could hook it up to this service and get the same long list of Google services attached to the domain. I did this with all the domains I owned at the time, and therefore have maybe a dozen of these Google Apps for a Domain accounts. Despite transitioning it to a payola service, Google has promised all along the free accounts would remain free. But that doesn't mean Google isn't trying to sneak around the edges to close those free accounts.

e-Reader innovation hasn't stalled, the public is prevented from enjoying the advances which have occurred

(October 12, 2017)

The e-Reader market could be exploding if only certain advances would be allowed to reach the population. The primary format for electronic books, EPUB, underwent a major advancement a couple years when EPUB v3 was developed. Prior to EPUB v3, the technical implementation of electronic books was hampered by limitations in electronic book formats. EPUB v3 electronic books can now be implemented with almost the full HTML5 and CSS and JavaScript goodness we enjoy on the Web. Electronic books today could be interactive marvels with embedded video or audio, and JavaScript driven interactive presentation of data and information. But, the market is being held back by the marketing decisions of a few large players.

Amazon's amazing warehouse robots automate assembling your purchases for shipping

(October 11, 2017)

Modern business corporate mantra seeks to automate everything, eliminating the costs of human employees. Artificial intelligence and robotics have combined in Amazon's warehouse facilities to create an automated order fulfillment system.

Stored items are held in modular shelving units. The robots drive themselves around the warehouse, following markers on the floor, and slide underneath the shelving unit they are to move. The top of the robot lifts the shelving unit off the ground, and drives off carrying the shelves. The robot then has to make its way through the warehouse, dodging through the mulling crowd of other robots carrying other shelving units, until it arrives in the shipping area. Rather than human-driven forklifts, these robots perform the same task.

Humans have in front of them a screen showing the Amazon order they're assembling. The human picks what's needed off the shelving unit, and the robot drives off to return that unit back to the warehouse, while the human finalizes assembling the order.

The system lets Amazon store more stuff per square feet of warehouse space. Amazon can speed up order processing and this is how Amazon has begun to offer same-day-delivery.

Is Apple preventing hardware repairs/upgrades for forced obsolescence?

(September 13, 2017)

A couple days ago, Apple unleashed the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 plus, and iPhone X. These are the new wave of iPhone's with which Apple is expecting to see a huge burst of sales, helping to goose Apple's profits ever higher, pushing Apple's stock price ever higher. The business goal, therefore, is for a large number of us iPhone owners to upgrade to the latest-and-greatest so that we fill Apple's coffers with money propelling Apple's stock price ever higher. Earlier I wrote about a smart way to get the latest and greatest for a fraction of the cost -- simply to delay purchasing the iPhone 8 or iPhone X until 2+ years from now when the price falls to a reasonable level. The contrarian way to save gobs of money on the new iPhone 8 or iPhone X

Apple's plan to force us all into planned obsolescence goes much further than dangling tantalizing new iPhones in front of us. The very design of Apple's product line actively prevents repair, and Apple's service policies mean that Apple's service technicians will not perform board-level repairs but instead push you into more expensive repairs.

The contrarian way to save gobs of money on the new iPhone 8 or iPhone X

(September 12, 2017)

Yesterday, Apple did their best to wow us with their technical prowess and drool over the new features in the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. The numbering of these devices is even news-making considering that Apple skipped past the iPhone 9. Are you among the throng chomping at the bit to buy one of these new phones? And are you checking your bank account and maybe considering taking out a second mortgage to pay the price?

Let me suggest a way to save a lot of money on these devices in a very straight-forward strategy that is also full of environmental goodness. You might even use this strategy as a way to send a message to Apple that you want an iPhone with a headphone jack.

Scotty, a.k.a. The iPhone Guy, has made awesome videos on iPhone technical innards -- who is he?

(September 11, 2017)

Over the past few months a pair of mind-blowing videos have been made based in the parts markets in China. Scotty, the iPhone Guy, started with the question -- these markets have all kinds of spare parts for iPhones, but can you assemble enough of those parts to build your own iPhone. It took him a few weeks to accomplish the task, but he did so, and that phone works. For the second video, he wanted to add a headphone jack to the iPhone 7, which ended up as a grindingly difficult project that took 17 weeks to finish. But, it works. The question is whether Scotty will only do iPhone projects, what's his motivation, is he going to do more work like this, and so on.

He has a broader plan in mind, to explore other technology hubs, to explore the technology supply chain, and so on. We can expect his work to have great technical depth, going into literal nuts and bolts.

This video is an interview with Scotty as they walk through the building housing those electronics markets.

Why use Google Chrome on Linux versus Chromium or Firefox

(September 3, 2017)

Theoretically Firefox is Free, and especially Free from spyware, whereas with Chrome we do not have the same level of assuredness. Google has a high positive reputation because of the Don't Be Evil mantra, but we're all questioning whether Google has gone to Evil. But if you run Firefox and Chrome side-by-side it's clear that Chrome is far advanced over Firefox. Additionally, Firefox does some bad things. The video has details for you to consider.

Automatically load Live TV & DVR on the Raspberry Pi & HDhomerun & PLEX

(September 3, 2017)

This is update to an earlier video series over getting rid of the Cable TV box, and instead using the HDHomerun box from Silicon Dust. In this update we're shown how to set up a Raspberry Pi running Kodi so it automatically goes into the HDHomerun Kodi Extension. The result feels exactly like a regular Cable TV box at a fraction of the up-front cost and with zero ongoing cost.

Is Apple ruining MacBook Pro or iMac performance with crappy cooling hardware?

(September 2, 2017)

Apple's design mantra is to make ever-thinner computers that weigh less, yet somehow pack in amagingly powerful CPU's and other hardware. Thinner-lighter computers are attractive, for example a MacBook Pro is much easier to carry around than (say) an oversized Dell laptop. But this comes at a cost -- the cooling system sucks. Apple's computers run hotter than computers from other vendors. Intel designed the CPU so that, if the temperature rises too high, the CPU throttles itself. In other words, it's possible that Apple's anemic cooling hardware makes it impossible to reap the full benefit of the CPU.

It's bad enough that since 2013 Apple began soldering memory chips to the logic boards making it impossible to upgrade/replace memory, and at the same time charge a rip-off price for memory.

A look into the YouTube Adpocalypse - Video Blogger shows how his revenue has dried up

(August 30, 2017)

This YouTuber takes us into his videos management console for an inside look into what some call the YouTube Adpocalypse. This guy has been posting videos since 2008, and developed into a focus on Linux. Early on he didn't care about the revenue, but as it grew (both his subscribership and revenue) his attention changed. Recent policy changes at YouTube are causing his video to receive limited advertising, and therefore limited revenue. That in turn is causing this fellow to (understandably) think about slowing down on making videos.

Is Google/YouTube -- in seeking to cater to creators with larger audiences -- starting to kill YouTube?

How do I boost traffic to a new or established blog website

(August 25, 2017)

Most websites exist to inform the public about something-or-other. The website owner may have another goal in mind, like selling products, or advertising their dental practice, or covering the latest news on Afghanistan, or any of a zillion other topic areas. Regardless of the larger goal, every website exists to inform people about topics chosen by the website owner. Pretty much every website owner hopes to generate a large audience, one large enough to justify their effort on the website. Generally speaking the more traffic on a website the more opportunity to satisfy goals like selling things to the audience, earning revenue, and so on.

In other words, one of the primary questions of all website owners, whether they just started or whether they've been publishing websites for 25 years, is how to get more traffic. The problem is most of the advice out there is overly packaged in pristine marketing-speak, and loses sight of another core purpose -- informing the public.

Non-censorable video platform DTube offers possible adpocalypse solution

(August 25, 2017)

Is the YouTube Adpocalypse a form of censorship? The YouTube creators who no longer earn advertising from YouTube are crying about the loss of ad revenue. It doesn't amount to censorship, however, because YouTube isn't blocking those videos, just not putting advertising revenue on the videos.

A new video platform, DTube, doesn't block content and offers a method to earn cryptocurrency from your videos, that can be converted to Bitcoin that can be converted to regular fiat currency.

Daily Stormer's new domain registrar wrings hands and cancels dailystormer.lol domain

(August 20, 2017)

A week ago a hate-filled group of fascist KKK nazi protesters descended on Charlottesville Virginia, supposedly to protect the existence of a Robert E. Lee statue. That statue is one of many commemorating "hero's" on the losing side of the Civil War, Robert E. Lee being a famous General in the Confederate Army. Why do we even have statues commemorating figures from the Confederacy? In the early 1900's a group of people seeking a revisionist reframing of Civil War history got these statues installed. So when a KKK fascist nazi white supremacist group takes to the street to protect such a statue, they're not acting to preserve history but to continue whitewashing history.

In any case -- the Daily Stormer website actively promotes the KKK/fascist/white supremacist cause, and was deeply involved in promoting the protest rally last weekend. Since then, the Daily Stormer's domain registration has been canceled, and they've lost several other important services from at least Cloud Flare, Google and Zoho. For awhile the Daily Stormer website was available only through the Dark Web, and later it had a .ru domain (Russia), and then they registered a .lol domain. But now their new registrar, Namecheap, has canceled that domain registration.

Namecheap's CEO, Richard Kirkendall, wrote a long blog post about his decision. In it he says that no Domain Registrar should be making such a decision but that even though he recognizes there will be a strong backlash against Namecheap that he feels he made the right decision. That's because while the Daily Stormer website deserves as much free speech protection as the next guy, free speech protections should stop when there's an incitement to violence. The content of the Daily Stormer website is clearly aimed at increasing violence and hatred and inciting violence.

Using Raspberry Pi as Amiga emulator that's better than a real Amiga

(August 20, 2017)

The Amiga 1000 was a ground-breaking computer of the 1980's. Many of us think it was far and above better than the other computers of that time. Unlike the 1980's era Macintosh, the Amiga was properly multitasking and had better multimedia, and of course it was a zillion times better than MS-DOS. But then in the 1990's Commodore Computer Corporation went out of business after promising several advanced Amiga systems. That left Amiga fans stuck and abandoned.

Fast forward over 20 years, and the Raspberry Pi is a flexible inexpensive Linux-based computer that's inspired all kinds of hacking projects. In this case, an Amiga emulator running on Raspberry Pi allows you to run AmigaDOS applications.

A speed test shows that with Amibian, a Raspberry Pi runs 250 times faster than an Amiga A600. Running various heavy-duty applications run faster than on an original Amiga. This is under an EMULATOR, since AmigaDOS of course was written for Motorola 68xxx processors while the Raspberry Pi is an ARM processor.

Make a DIY ring light for DSLR or other cameras

(August 18, 2017)

Ring lights are used by camera buffs for macro-photography. It's an excellent way to light the subject of the photograph from the same angle of perspective as the camera lens. This is important for avoiding shadows. It's also desirable to have a softer light than a regular camera flash.

This DIY project inexpensively builds a circle of LED light units into a form that can be easily screwed onto the front of a camera lens.

Attacks on anti-Fascist and pro-Fascist websites stifling free speech

(August 15, 2017)

Web hosting provider Dreamhost is fighting a Dept of Justice order to release broad-ranging data about visitors to a website that organized protest rallies in Washington DC on January 20, 2017. That was Trumps inauguration day, and saw large protests, which the Dept. of Justice's Search Warrant called riots, against Donald Trump. The information demanded by the DoJ is "highly untargeted" and includes visitor IP addresses, along with contact information, email content, and photos of thousands of people. According to Dreamhost, the web hosting provider, the DoJ's search warrant is an attack on freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association.

Last weekend a protest by NEO-Nazi white supremacists in Charlottesville Virginia was intended to "protect" a statue of Civil War leader Robert E. Lee. That protest turned very violent, including an incident of a car used as a battering ram to drive into a crowd of peaceful anti-fascist protesters, killing one and injuring dozens of other people. In the wake of that protest the Daily Stormer website, billed as the most Genocidal website on the planet, has taken offline by web hosting provider GoDaddy over Terms of Service violations. Reportedly the Daily Stormer's staff has tried to shift web hosting to other providers, but has yet to find an agreeable hosting provider. Seems that publishing a website encouraging people to violence is against the terms of service.

What's common from these extreme ends of the political spectrum is the role the web hosting provider plays in implementing our right to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association.

Any group denied the ability to host a website cannot speak their message to the world. Guaranteeing freedom of Speech and the other freedoms means guaranteeing that freedom for everyone, including those with whom you disagree.

Where does MySQL/MariaDB store database data files on Linux or Unix?

(August 8, 2017)

You launch the database server, give it a bunch of data to store, do you need to know where the data files are located? If MySQL or MariaDB does its job properly, the server just runs and runs with no need for further maintenance. But of course, software being software you need to do a bit more. For example, if the system crashes you might need to do a low-level recovery of the databases as I had to do - How to restore a MySQL database and tables from .frm .ibd or .myd raw database files

For various reasons you do need to know where MySQL/MariaDB stores its data files. It's not that hard to locate, and with a little change to the configuration file you can even change that location.

Five years of Mars exploration with NASA's Curiosity Rover

(August 8, 2017)

One of the most successful space missions ever - the Curiosity Rover - has been on Mars for over 5 years. This amazing video is a time-lapse of the pictures taken by Curiosity as it has driven across the Martian surface. In the last five years it has driven over 10 miles.

Live TV & DVR on the Raspberry Pi & HDhomerun & PLEX

(August 8, 2017)

This video series goes over getting rid of the Cable TV box, and instead using the HDHomerun box from Silicon Dust. Silicon Dust makes a series of TV tuner boxes that are extremely flexible and out-of-the-box supports streaming television content to devices around your home network. The devices support multiple TV tuners so your household can watch multiple TV channels simultaneously, and there are many software DVR systems that can interface with Silicon Dust's products. The HDHomerun device is meant to replace cable TV boxes, letting you subscribe to cable TV systems without paying a monthly fee to lease hardware from the cable TV provider. Plus, because these boxes stream to devices over the local WiFi, there's no need to rent multiple cable TV boxes.

The project uses the PLEX media server, including running the PLEX software on a NAS drive. In the second video he presents a very expensive solution. In the third video he presents a preferred setup using a Raspberry Pi as the DVR running LibreELEC, the Raspberry Pi version of Kodi. The result is a very nice looking DVR and TV Tuner. A NAS drive is used as mass storage for the DVR, and he also integrates Kodi/LibreELEC into an existing PLEX media server he has on his network.

It's claimed he saves about $60 per month on cable TV fees. You can completely eliminate cable TV fee's by using over-the-air television, and Silicon Dust sells products for that purpose.

Kodi is a system for organizing "Media", whether that's Audio, Video, TV Shows, or Photos, for viewing on televisions. It has a "10 foot" interface meaning it's meant to be used from the couch via a remote control. LibreELEC lets you run Kodi on small computers like the Raspberry Pi.

Aerial update of Apple's new Spaceship campus, July 2017

(Thu Jul 27 2017 17:00:00 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))

Apple is building an iconic new "spaceship-like" campus in Cupertino. These drone videos show the current progress.

Build your own DIY portable wireless TV from spare laptop parts

(Thu Jul 27 2017 17:00:00 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))

Want to build a portable "TV" video display unit? An old laptop screen serves as a great starting point for building a display panel, and an HDMI driver board makes it easy to connect the display to a computer. The next step is adding a battery pack, making it portable, using a pair of voltage regulators to set up the 12 volts and 5 volts required to power the components, and an external charger to recharge the batteries. A sound bar is easily buildable using a set of small speaker drivers and audio amplifiers. The "television" portion is a question mark, however since it's nearly 2020 we can easily connect this to the Internet for video streaming using a Chromecast or other HDMI gizmo. The parts can be easily enclosed in a case, and voila you have a complete and portable video display system.

Organic Transit's ELF, solar powered car-bike for driver + 2 kids, equals 1800mpg

(Thu Jul 27 2017 17:00:00 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))

This car-like vehicle is actually a bicycle, fitting all the legal restrictions of bicycles. With three wheels it is very stable. With the outer shell, the driver has some protection against the elements, and there's a cargo area in the back to carry groceries or even kids. It is an electric-assist bicycle, and can be fitted with a solar array.

Facebook moves towards paying content creators sharing "art" in the news feed

(Sun Jul 23 2017 17:00:00 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))

While YouTube's moves make us think Google will push small-scale content creators out, Facebook appears to be inviting them (and their content) to Facebook's news feed. What's in play is those "content creators" with large audiences, and the advertising revenue that can be earned through such a channel. So far YouTube has been a premium place to play that game, because all it that's required is for someone to develop a video presence attractive enough to draw in enough audience to keep people watching your videos and the ads which come along for the ride.

On the flip side is Rights Management services so that piracy doesn't run rampant. To that end, Facebook has acquired contents rights management company Source3.

As Google commercializes YouTube, individual "creators" may be squeezed out

(Fri Jul 21 2017 17:00:00 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))

When YouTube launched all those years ago, before Google bought YouTube, it was a video service allowing anyone to upload videos about anything they wanted. Cat videos, a guy with a light saber, another mouthing words to a popular Romanian song, more cat videos, the FAIL videos, a girl sharing with us a fake scripted life, and on and on. We all built up a cycle of activity around YouTube. Some people just posted whatever, for example the people trying out stunts, yelling "watch this", then falling flat on their face or worse. That genre has evolved to where people filming extreme stunts sometimes fall to their death while filming the stunt. Others made a business for themselves, for example the Grow Your Greens guy taught many people about gardening while clearly earning lots of revenue from advertising running opposite his videos.

Maybe it's one of those it's too good to last deals, but lots of people used YouTube as a platform for launching careers in independently produced video commentary on whatever they want to say. Lately there are signs that Google is moving towards making big money deals with big incumbent entertainment studios. At the moment the independent producers still have a place at the table, but the commercial content from mainstream media is encroaching.

Are we on a slippery slope where YouTube won't have any space for individual content creators?

Project Maven to Deploy Computer Algorithms to War Zone by Year’s End

(Thu Jul 20 2017 17:00:00 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time)) The US Department of Defense is partnering with unnamed high tech companies to develop Artificial Intelligence devices for use in war zones. The idea is extracting "objects" from "massive amounts of moving or still imagry." Reading between the lines, this is about analyzing video footage from drone flights in war zones, to ease the burden on military intelligence analysts.

US Postal Service introduces Informed Delivery, a Big-Brotherly preview of incoming postal mail

(Thu Jul 06 2017 17:00:00 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))

Today the US Postal Service sent me an email inviting me to sign up with Informed Delivery. The pitch is that the USPS Mobile App will be upgraded to have access to Informed Delivery which is described as "a new, free feature that gives you the ability to see a digital preview of your incoming mail." Conveniently the Postal Service will send out grey-scale scans of the exterior of all pieces of mail arriving at the mailbox, and those scans can be viewed with the Mobile App or can be sent to ones e-mail inbox.

I'm not sure what the value is to me for this service. The big worry is that obviously it means the Postal Service is scanning the outside of every envelope, and what the heck are they doing with those scans? Who else is receiving those scans? The NSA? The FBI? Who?

Scientists looking for a Giant Elephant at the center of the galaxy; Taking pictures of Black Holes

(Wed Jun 28 2017 17:00:00 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))

Nothing escapes from a Black Hole, yes? That means it's impossible to take a picture of a black hole because the photons you'd capture for the image cannot escape the black hole. Therefore, how do you take a picture of a black hole? Astrophysicists are working on a system to sort-of take such a picture. They've observed orbits of stars at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, and deduced there must be a super-massive-black-hole. How do they verify this assumption?

While one cannot take a direct picture of a black hole, there is supposed to be (according to Einstein's Equations) a big light show at the Event Horizon. Imaging THAT for the Milky Way's super-massive black hole would require a telescope the size of Planet Earth.

A telescope that size isn't practical. Instead, Astronomers are piecing together a large telescope by slaving together radio-telescopes around the planet, and using computer-aided-image-analysis to put together the whole picture. The effect is a virtual telescope the size of the planet. They expect to have the first images later in 2017.

A key in the effort is to not prejudge the content of the images. They can't just program Einstein's Equations into the image processing algorithms, because that would just give them the images Einstein predicted. Instead they need to remain open to any possible result, and then be pleasantly surprised if the result confirms Einstein's predictions, or to learn from the result if they do not confirm the prediction.

Using VNC to access remote desktop on Raspberry Pi or other computer behind a NAT firewall

(Wed Jun 28 2017 17:00:00 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))

Connecting to a remote computer is very powerful, because you can access remote files, remote applications, and so forth. Those of us building home automation or other Internet of Things devices sometimes install those devices at a remote location behind a NAT firewall, and then need to access the computer's desktop environment. For example, I have a Beaglebone Black at a remote site over 3000 miles away, and needed to run Firefox on the BBB to access some things. It's not feasible to go to the device in person, therefore the question is how to access the remote desktop.

VNC is the primary choice for this purpose. It has a lower bandwidth requirement than running X11 over the Internet, plus you avoid the complexity of installing an X11 server on Windows or Mac. Simply install a VNC client, instead. The key hurdle is getting past the NAT router.

Make Live: PiKon Raspberry Pi Telescope

(Sun Jun 25 2017 17:00:00 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))

The PiKon Telescope combines the Raspberry Pi, some PVC drain pipe and a few 3d printed parts to become a high power telescope capable of some impressive astrophotography. This video goes over building the thing. A primary problem is that the official design uses a type of PVC pipe easily available in England, with a 5" diameter, that isn't available in the USA. You can order a kit of parts from the fellow in England.

The design is a reflector telescope, meaning that a key component is the Mirror assembly that fits in the back of the tube. At the other end of the tube is a "spider" that holds the PiCamera and handles the focusing.

It uses a regular PiCamera with the focusing lens removed. Focusing is handled by moving the camera assembly back and forth.

Colossus & Other Early Computers

(Sun Jun 25 2017 17:00:00 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))

Colossus was designed during World War II for one purpose -- decoding top secret encrypted messages sent by Germany using the Enigma Machine. Germany thought their messages were safe, but the Allies had cracked the code using these computers, and were therefore able to win the war. The Colossus was purpose built, is not a general purpose computer but instead performs a specific processing task. Several instances of the Colossus was built during World War II.

The Harwell Decatron was designed to automate mathematical computations which it did for several years.

Top 5 Single Board Computers 2017

(Sat Jun 17 2017 17:00:00 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))

What are the best linux-single-board-computer's? There are many of these things, and running linux on a tiny computer is awesome, but the wide variety makes it difficult to choose. Do you go with the Raspberry Pi just because it's the most popular? Or because your buddy down the street got one? Some of these computers have significantly important features giving a clear advantage for certain purposes.

Apple updates entire product like with Kady Lake processors and more

(Sun Jun 04 2017 17:00:00 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))

Today, the WWDC 2017 conference launched in San Jose, and Apple announced broad-ranging updates to most of their hardware. The 10.5 inch iPad Pro was completely redesigned. HomePod is Apple's answer to smart speaker products from other companies. The iMac has been hugely upgraded, including a very powerful new iMac Pro. The iMac Pro will be configurable with up to 18 core Xeon processor, 128 GB of memory, two external displays, an ultra-high-end GPU, and more.

Google's Chrome to start blocking ads of some non-Google ad services

(Thu Jun 01 2017 17:00:00 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))

Google makes a lot of money off of Internet advertising. Advertising services are Google's main income stream off which they've built a humongous business. There are lots of crappy abusive advertising practices on the Internet, and Google plans to change Chrome to block some of that advertising. It's important therefore to question whether Google's plan to block some advertising is legitimate.

First Semi-final-results in Eurovision 2017

(May 9, 2017) The Eurovision 2017 contest is this Saturday, and today was the First Semi-Final. Of the 20 entries today, 10 have been selected: Moldova: Hey Mamma by Sunstroke Project; Azerbaijan: Skeletons by Dihaj; Greece: This Is Love by Demy; Sweden: I Can’t Go On by Robin Bengtsson; Portugal: Amar Pelos Dois by Salvador Sobral; Poland: Flashlight by Kasia Moś; Armenia: Fly With Me by Artsvik; Australia: Don’t Come Easy by Isaiah; Cyprus: Gravity by Hovigp; Belgium: City Lights by Blanche. These include some very intriguing songs, and some leaving me going WTF.

Blade Runner 2049 - the 'Reboot' that looks worthy of the original

(Mon May 08 2017 17:00:00 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time)) Blade Runner is an awesome movie with deep questions about humanity and the creations we make. Blade Runner 2049 is a reboot movie, and given the ridiculousness of most 'reboot' efforts I'd expected the worst from it. The official trailer makes me stand up and take notice. If the movie lives up to this trailer, it will be just as awesome as the original.

Overthinking Eurovision with the biggest Eurovision Gimmicks of 2017

(Sun May 07 2017 17:00:00 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time)) Eurovision is a kitschy song contest with pretentions of Great Importance. That makes it very easy to overthink Eurovision entries. This video is a deep dive into two of the best entries in Eurovision 2017, My Friend from Croatia, and Yodel It! from Romania. I love both of these songs, and wow this guy does a great bit of over-thinking. I'm also tossing in a few videos made by Ilinca, the Yodel It singer, because I like them very much.

Brickerbot, vigilante software aiming to kill malicious botnets by killing IoT devices

(April 24, 2017) The last few months has seen escalating botnet activity on the Internet. The botnet operators are targeting non-existent security in certain Internet of Things devices. Some devices, like wireless security cameras or baby monitors, are not only connected to the Internet, but have gaping security holes. Using those holes, botnet operators have ammassed vast flotillas of Internet devices that can be commanded to attack targets on the Internet. Last fall several attacks, larger than any previously seen, attacked several large sites and even brought down critical Internet infrastructure on a few instances. The Brickerbot appears to be a Botnet purposed with destroying those malicious botnets. One hopes the cure is better than the illness.

Lenovo Flex 11 / Yoga N23 Chromebook Unboxing

(April 20, 2017) The Lenovo Flex 11 is a new 11 inch-screen Chromebook with 4GB memory, 32GB storage. It has both USB-C and USB3, plus a full size HDMI output. The trackpad on the review unit has a little bit of travel before the click occurs. It has a Mediatek ARM processor, and gives a 9990 Octane score. Because the screen has fewer pixels than some other devices with the same processor, it's believed the Lenovo Flex 11 will perform better than the Acer R11. The price range is $230-270 and is a good value for that price, and should be very good around the home. Because it also has Lenovo Yoga branding, it has the hinges required for the screen to fold back allowing this device to act as a tablet computer.

The Real Reason We Never Hear From Monty Python Anymore

(April 20, 2017) Despite the impact Monty Python had on television and comedy, we don't hear much from them today. This video goes over the career progression of Monty Python members after the show closed down.

MQTT testing for IoT devices on the Raspberry Pi

(April 17, 2017) MQTT is a lightweight communications protocol meant for Internet of Things devices. It acts like a giant merry-go-round sending messages through a hierarchical structure of ports. It offers three levels of Quality of Service, from level 0 where messages can be lost, to level 2 where messages are held and resent if necessary. MQTT is easy to install on a Raspberry Pi or other Linux Single Board Computing device. MQTT itself is powerful, and the NODE RED platform (which is bundled in the Raspberry Pi) can make great use of MQTT and other facilities.

Protesting Trump from the edge of space, with a touch of Opera

(April 16, 2017) In what may be the first political protest from Space, the Autonomous Space Agency Network (ASAN) launched a balloon to near-earth orbit to send a message to the Trump Administration. Taking a cue from Astronaut Edgar Mitchel, who said 'From out there on the Moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter millions miles out and say: Look at that, you son of a bitch,' the message carried aloft by the balloon said exactly that. As in - Hey Trump, come up here and see what this planet really looks like, and what your actual responsibility is as a fellow human being.

British man invents a real-life Iron Man suit, and his name isn't Elon Musk

(April 15, 2017) Not many people would be brave enough to try this, so kudos to Richard Browning before we rip him for being so crazy. For the past 18 months he (an ex-Royal Marine) has been tinkering in his garage building a jet engine powered exoskeleton thingy. The video shows experiments with the machine, and that it is currently only useful for small hovering flights. The pilot steers it completely manually by moving arms and legs to direct the jet thrust. Which sounds cool, but also extremely dangerous at the same time.

Not even Darth Vader can get away with drinking and driving

(April 15, 2017) Recently Sith Lord Darth Vader was apprehended by Police in Mountain View while out on a mid-afternoon bender with an underage Storm Trooper. It's not known what furor will arise in the Imperial Senate, but the incident is proof that even Lord Vader is fallable. The ever-vigilant Mountain View were not swayed by his mind tricks.

Relive the glory days of Mac OS 7 on a Raspberry Pi

(April 12, 2017) Have fond memories of Mac OS 7 but unable to find an old Mac? With a simple Mac emulator, an inexpensive Raspberry Pi becomes a competent old-school Mac capable of running Mac OS 7. Oh, and all those old games. The video goes over what's involved, so have fun.

The 1972-era desktop sized iPod

(Tue Apr 11 2017 17:00:00 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time)) Who says that before the iPod we could play one song/album at a time? Cassette players held one tape, and at up to 120 minutes per tape that meant about 2 albums worth of music, after which you'd have to manually switch the tape. Oh the inhumanity of it all, having to walk across the room to switch tapes. With a record player, you could stack multiple records and it would play one after another. For the most part we were stuck playing one, or maybe two, albums at a time. And we walked uphill, both ways, through the snow, every day to school. Actually, ingenious engineers created wondrous mechanical gizmos for many purposes, including this cassette-tape carousel. It held up to 20 cassette tapes, could play one at a time, or could play a programmed sequence, for up to 2 1/2 days of continuous music. AND, it was built in 1972. I bet Steve Jobs was having fond memories of this cassette carousel when he inspired Apple to create the iPod.

Official entries in Eurovision 2017

(April 7, 2017) Eurovision 2017 is coming up in May. All the entries have been selected and contestants are probably practicing and practicing to get ready. While there is an unwanted political kerfluffle between Ukraine (the host country) and Russia, we're looking forward to the contest. What's below are the official entries in the order listed on the eurovision.tv website. Curiously they're not listed in alphabetical order. Instead the ordering is, the first 18 are the running order of the First Semi-Final, the next 19 are the running order of the Second Semi-Final, and the last 6 are the countries which are pre-approved for Eurovision and are not required to participate in Semi-Finals.

US House votes to roll back internet privacy rules, Trump signed it into law

(April 3, 2017) Last week the US Congress voted to overturn Internet Privacy rules that had been enacted by the Obama Administration. As a result, the telephone companies and other Internet Service Providers will be able to sell our Internet browsing history and other private information to 'advertisers'.

Introducing Google Gnome (4/1/2017)

(April 1, 2017) After Google's success with the Google Home AI robot, Google is taking it a step further. The Google Gnome is designed to be used outdoors to finally implement the Smart Yard. Its functionality covers outdoors activities in the yard like turning the lawn hose on and off, or telling you wind direction and speed. The smart yard has finally arrived -- Meet Google Gnome. See how Gnome can transform your yard.

SpaceX in historic first reuse of previously launched rocket, unless it's a hoax

(March 30, 2017) SpaceX today made history with the first ever space-ship launch using a rocket that had previously flown. Today's SES-10 launch was flown by a Falcon 9 space-ship which had previously flown in April 2016. They had successfully landed that ship on their autonomous drone landing pad, then refurbished it, ensuring it was flight-ready, then flew it again today, and successfully landing the rocket on their landing pad ship. SpaceX's long-term goal is to reuse rocket ships multiple times, because the first stage rocket costs $60 million to build but only $200,000 to fuel. By reusing rockets, the cost of launching stuff into space will be drastically slashed, and humanity will be able to afford to launch more stuff into space. But - I said 'hoax' because there's at least one person on YouTube complaining the video is obviously a hoax. He latched onto the fact that for every landing, the video cuts out and they do not show the landing live, instead they magically show the rocket on the landing pad -- but -- cue sound effects -- obviously it's a fake, and they simply showed a different rocket on the ... sigh. Oh c'mon.

British Home Secretary makes chillingly authoritarian response to 'terror' attack

(March 27, 2017) Last week an angry man of Islamic descent (but born in Great Britain) rented a car, drove through a crowd on Westminster Bridge, killing several people, before killing a Police officer guarding Westminster Palace, after which he was shot and killed by other police officers. The killer may have been ISIS-connected (ISIS claims responsibility). In response British Home Secretary Amber Rudd named several online sites as hotbeds of online terrorism communication and radicalization. Her list included blogging platform Wordpress.com of all things. Her chilling message is there should be no secret places to hide.