It just occurred to me to question where I get my news from.

It’s rather sad really, if I think about it. I get most of my news via social media, sometimes a blog or online publisher, but I haven’t really read a newspaper in some time, nor have I visited old staples for news such as MSBNC, or CNN. I never really liked FOX news or their online offerings. Now I just catch information via social media (read: FACEBOOK), or occasionally from twitter, but I find the twitter notifications simply annoying.

Plus I really don’t care to read fake news or get sucked into a click bait swamp. I’m almost tempted to open a newspaper.

Rant of the day, I suppose, but will I do anything about it? It’s a mystery.

The latest trend that I am hoping to spark.

So through the years there have always been trends that I have watched, shaken my head over, and even participated in.  This time, just this once, I have come up with a pretty snazzy and neat idea that could be an upcoming trend.  Not to say I’m all that, I’m not, but my little idea is.

I really hate when I’m going to a) the doctors or b) any business that I may be doing business with, and they want my phone number and email address. Well brilliantly, my lazy mind got creative and produced this:

chris@8582204384.cloud

So I’ve got two great tastes that taste great together… (sorry couldn’t help it)

My email address contains my phone number, brilliant eh?  I chose .cloud because, well, just because.

I’m sure I’m not the first to do something like this, but I’d like to think the idea is sort of unique.

More later…

 

 

Static IPs

I have decided that I wanted to have static ips for my home network, you know so you can access services that you set up on your home computers from the inter-webs; Such as running a mail server, web server, or private cloud from your personal network.

I have AT&T U-verse for internet, it is a DSL connection, I get around 50 mb bandwidth. For about $60 a month, not bad really.

So I called up AT&T and ordered a block of IP addresses, 8 of them, 3 are used for networking purposes, so you wind up getting 5 usable addresses. Why go with Static IPs rather than dynamically assigned addresses? Well, if you have a domain (i.e. person.com) that is pointing to the dynamic address there is the possibility that you will not always have the same IP address, it changes; every time you start or restart the connected device, it may assign a different IP, so your domain that is pointed to the address will have issues because it doesn’t automagically update that information.

With a Static IP, it doesn’t change. And that is the benefit of a static IP.

So, long story longer, the AT&T tech arrived in the morning, we started to get the 2 wire modem/router reprogrammed.  Turns out, AT&T did all the reprogramming of the 2 wire remotely.  The technician didn’t need to come out, in fact when he arrived, he had no information about my static IPs. He left 40 minutes later not having to have done a single thing to make this work. It was all handled remotely. He showed me an iPad with my IPs listed, I had to take a picture of the iPad so I could have a copy of them. Great technician, really nice guy. AT&T on the other hand could have provided him with the information needed up front, or they could have just done the work remotely and not sent a technician.

Oh well, it’s configured now. I just have to figure out how to make it all work. The nice thing is it only increased my monthly bill to $65.00.

More later… same bat time, same bat channel.

What is our purpose in the digital age?

I’ve recently thinking about my daily routine. I wake up, collect my digital devices as I get ready for work, which consist of:

  • Apple MacBook Pro 13″ (for work)
  • Apple MacBook Pro 15″ (personal use)
  • Work iPhone
  • Personal iPhone
  • 8″ Windows 10 Laptop/tablet
  • Lenovo Yoga pad 3
  • Wireless media drive (128gb)
  • Wireless media stick (200gb)

And that’s just what I bring to work. What I operate at the Wagner Ranch is a crazy amount of technology.

That’s a lot of gear indeed!  I find myself like a farmer or rancher rustling the technology and ensuring that a) it’s operational and b) all their little batteries are charged up.

A cowboy wrangling technology on a server farm near 192.168.1.1.

So here is my prediction: When the AI reaches the singularity, we will be safe as long as we maintain the technology and the batteries.

 

-OR-

Sleep well!

Death of physical media?

If you are an oldster like me, you know what vinyl records, CDs, DVDs or even 8 track tapes were.  I am sad to say that I believe that physical media is dying/falling by the way side.

When I was a child, we had vinyl records, 8 track tapes, and cassette tapes. I remember being disappointed that my cool new album had gotten a scratch on it, or I may have left a 45 in my parent’s station wagon and got all sorts of warped (but sometimes still could be played).  And as for data there were 8 1/2″ floppy disks,  5 1/4 diskettes and finally 3 1/2″ semi-rigid floppies.  Also had used/seen punch tape and punch cards.  VHS and Beta tapes, 2 track reel to reel.

Then in the 80’s came laser discs, compact audio disks, RW CD ROM, and DVD, HD DVD, and Blue Ray.

Fast forward to today, somewhere in 2017, you have new options. Not having to go to a movie rental store when you can rent the movie directly from your high definition widescreen monitor ( would say television but that is so last century, and it can also be a computer monitor, so monitor it is ). You no longer get to drive to a Blockbuster, Hollywood Video or some other small video store and walk up and down the aisles, browsing categories and judging some movies by the covers. You can buy lots of old/B movie/Direct to DVD titles at stores like Walmart; you just dig through a bin of $5 or less DVDs and sometimes, just sometimes you find a gem. Which you can then purchase, take home and rip a digital copy and put the physical copy in storage as “backup”.

So many digital things I “posses”  are living in the cloud, and what is the true definition of the cloud?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cloud is the future and the now, but I want to eventually be my own cloud.  Personal private cloud mostly for

I guess I am old fashioned in some sense because saying goodbye to the old physical media is bittersweet. And I’m a control freak, so leaving it to someone else works for me, but I like control where I can get it.

 

 

Automating the homestead

Yep, I have started working on home automation. So far it has been interesting and frustrating.

The frustrating part came with my brilliant idea of extending my wifi signal throughout the house so I wouldn’t have any wifi shadows or dead spots. I used Apple airport express units, wired into the network, configured to extend the wifi; Man that caused a nightmare on my wifi. I removed the airport expresses, to reconfigure and use them for different purposes in the future.

So this whole automation thing started because I’m inherently lazy and since we all live in the future I thought it would be cool to tell the computer to do “such and such” verbally and it would comply.

The first time I bought a home automation device was when I got my iPhone. Now I haven’t used it for that since I first got it, but rather in the last month. And that is only after I was using the home automation built in with Alexa. I had purchased a phillips hue bridge and a couple of light bulbs (to start) plugged in the bridge, added the lights and pretty much immediately I was able to direct Computer (Alexa) to turn them on and off.

I thought myself brilliant, but the next part of my adventure would prove me to be the lucky recipient of well designed devices that work well together simply and quickly.

I wanted to be able to control a light switch not just a single bulb.  Thus began my research.

Since I already was using Phillips Hue successfully I thought that seeing if Hue has a smart switch that is in-wall. And they do sell a smart switch. But it is like an IoT button, it communicates with the bridge to turn on or off devices associated with it. I am using the few I purchased, but I needed a different solution; a hardwired one.

Hue uses ZigBee to communicate, so I looked for ZigBee hard wired in-wall smart switches. I didn’t find any I liked, so I got a Z-Wave bridge (VeraPlus) and some GE Z-Wave smart switches.

The VeraPlus actually connects Z-Wave, ZigBee, Blue Tooth and others. It allows me to control it all from one dashboard. I haven’t delved in too much, but the front lights come on 30 min prior to sunset and get turned off at around 10:30pm.

It’s just all so neat!

I have three women in my house!

Ok, so normally I would say “Big deal” because it isn’t the first time I had three ladies in the house, but this time two of the “Ladies” are digital assistants.

There is my main squeeze, Regina, the light of my life, my lovely wife, Siri and Alexa (or “Computer” which I have it’s name set to).  Now my wife and Siri have had a long and interesting relationship, which consisted of my wife requesting something from Siri, and Siri completely not getting what she wanted. And then follows the continual fight to get Siri to get it verbally rather than type a search term into google or yahoo.

And now, I have added another “Sister wife” to the mix, Alexa, whom I call computer because living in the future is rad and I love Star Trek.

I also have made the move to start getting connected lights, and most recently connected light switches.

I also picked up a new (and cheap) “laptop” by Hyundai, yep they make computers as well. It really just is a tablet with a Bluetooth keyboard, I had to purchase a Bluetooth mouse. It’s cute,  4 core 64 bit intel processor.

Neat, it is really designed as a windows 10 gaming machine. I almost took a version of Linux to it, Kali for the flavor.

But back to my home automation, I will be posting more as information become available.

 

Picking up hacking at a later age

I have been inspired, here is my thanks to USA network: Thank you for taking a chance on “Mr. Robot” for it is a super cool, well written, wickedly acted series that is also living exclusively on Amazon.

So after watching two seasons of Elliot mentally melting down, and taking the people round him down as well. I am in love with everyone who is involved in telling this story.

It does have elements of fight club, but with cool subtleties… which because of spoilers I will not be revealing specifics.

So, I have been rooting around for a hobby that I could dive head first into. And if you know me at all, it involves computers, computing devices, and general hacking. I even ordered a lock picking kit for fun. In reading about lock picking it is as a concept actually easy, and these days there are groups that have turned lock picking into a sport.  Yay!

I have also made a couple of tech purchases.  I bought a Lenovo Yoga Pad 3, and a hp Chromebook 11 g4.  The yoga pad is great at converting hand written communication into digital text (much much better than the Newton and I didn’t have to train it!)…  I planned on installing ubuntu 16.04 on the Chromebook, running parallel to the chrome os, which is fundamentally Linux.

Also on the roadmap is installing Kali Linux on a raspberry pi rig.  I haven’t been this insipired about something in a long time (aside from my wife).

Excitement doesn’t end there, recently a new Raspberry Pi Zero was released; the Raspberry Pi Zero W. The price did jump from $5 per board to $10 for the W version. W means wireless, network, and low powered blue tooth. AWESOME!

More hack thoughts later…

Pssst… have you ever heard of a BBS?

Well, I would be surprised if anyone had not heard of a BBS… Bulliten Board Systems were the internet before there really was a public internet.  And had a relatively long life span (Over 20 years). And in the very late 80’s and early 90’s I operated my own three line Chat BBS system, running on BBS software from Oracomm.  Great software, totally flexible and inexpensive. The BBS I ran, had two phone lines, and a console line, where I could get onto the BBS and do my system operator work, we were called SysOps, and there were ASysOps as well, Assistant System Operators.  Pretty much all done for free, and the BBS operator usually covered the phone line costs. Unless the people on the BBS were kind enough to donate to the cause.

The name of my BBS was “BorderTown” BBS (ORA182), located in Sunny San Diego, just next to the border of the USA and Mexico.  But I really named my BBS after a book series that I liked – BorderTown

After a while it got to be too much hassle to operate, We had over 2000 people who had signed up for an account, and I was paying it out of my rather meager salary at the time. I felt unappreciated… what I got tired of was people demanding stuff for free beyond what I was providing. Plus for me it was a hobby, not some money making venture. So I pulled the modems from the wall, and turned the system off. It had become no fun.

I have found a documentary about BBSes and the pre-internet hobbyists. Who wound up influencing the internet we now have.

It’s in 8 parts, I’m watching the first as I write this blog.

Part 1 of 8: BAUD

Part 2 of 8: SysOps and Users

Part 3 of 8: Make it Pay

Part 4 of 8: FidoNet (not a dog network)

Part 5 of 8: Artscene

Part 6 of 8: HPAC

Part 7 of 8: No Carrier

Part 8 of 8: Compression

I think the history of computing is important to understand where we may be going with computing in the future.

Geek On!

When art feels more like life…

I have a show that I feel is beyond a simple funny comedy. If you had to guess, would it be “Silicon Valley” on HBO? If that was your thought, you would be 100% correct.

I love the near 100% reality that the show expresses. I find that to be really refreshing, rather than the half understood computer crap that most other shows/movies express. Realism is very cool. And something that draws me to watch.

I don’t know if it’s the fact that I have been thinking about starting my own middle out compression company, no, not really.  But I have a couple of ideas. And I’ve got the time at the moment.

I loved the most recent episode that had Ehrlich wearing a unicorn outfit. Just brain candy… no worries…

Geek On!