Hiding from Facebook 🙈📕

Months leading to up to Facebook's IPO in 2012, I received an invitation to join from an old neighbor and acquaintance.  I ignored it.  Upon receiving a second invitation, I replied stating that I'm not the Facebook type and prefer not to join.  My former neighbor, surprised, replied that he had never sent me an invitation.  He wasn't even a member.

And the Facebook shenanigans have ramped up ever since.

One trick I learned to block my desktop from accidentally accessing facebook is to update the computer's host file.  The technique works for Linux, Mac, and Windows, and you will need elevated permissions to do so... and maybe a techie friend.

MacOS and Linux
sudo vi /etc/hosts

notepad C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\etc\hosts

Add the following entries:

The address maps specifically to your local PC, and is sometimes referred to as "home."  Consequently, any application, social plugin, or invisibl…

Bitcoin: 15 minutes (or more) of privacy

Andy Warhol was right when, in 1968,  he said "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes."

Now that the future is here, what everyone seems to desire is 15 minutes (or more) of privacy.  At least that's what occurred to me when I asked myself what problem Bitcoin, and more specifically, blockchain is trying to solve.

Digital currency offers the ability to hide transactions, and is often associated with those who purchase illegal goods or launder money.  But digital currency is also used for legal transactions and appeals to those with memories of the 2008 recession; they want to have as little to do as possible with the banks that contributed to it, and that often means using some combination of credit unions, cash, and Bitcoin.

Unlike Fiat money, Bitcoin is not backed by any government. It operates independently of any central bank and lives on the net.  This is made possible by a mathematical token referred to as the blockchain.  It follows the Bitco…

Bookshelf Classic: The Design and Evolution of C++

There was a time when I put a corporate seal on my favorite books.  Dr. Stroustrup noticed the embossed seal, ran his fingers over it, and remarked "nice" as he signed my copy.

The book was  published circa 1994, and Stroustrup was on hand to give a talk to an eager C++ user group.

While the book describes the early evolution of C++ -- the proposals, the decisions, the trade-offs, and the mistakes -- it is in the early sections where we learn most about the author.  Stroustrup writes:

"It is often claimed that the structure of a system reflects the structure of the organization that created it.  Within reason, I subscribe to that idea."

In my years of programming and working with management, I have found this to be very true.  This was Stroustrup's way of saying the C++ language is largely shaped by who he is.  While it's no surprise he has advanced degrees in mathematics and computer science, we learn that his hobbies include history and philosophy.  Descri…

Kid at Heart, Beginner's Mind

What do Hot Wheels, the XO Laptop, and Mozart's Nachtmusik have in common?  Each one appeals to the beginner and opens the door to something more complex.

There is a way of thought in Zen Buddhism referred to as "Beginner's Mind."  Approach activities with the mind of a beginner, even routine things such as eating.  That's because  "In the Beginner's Mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few."

Mozart's Nachtmusik is a popular introduction for those new to classical music, whether as a listener or as a budding musician.  Listen to the clip above and you will understand better than any words I can write.

The XO Laptop brought the concept of computers and programming to children. especially in underdeveloped nations.   It did not succeed as planned, but the hearts behind it were in the right place.  The Verge (2018) recently took a thorough look back, accompanied by some sharp photos:

OLPC’S $100 Laptop Was Going To C…

iPhones In Stretch Jeans

Current iPhones are just too large.  I saw one -- an iPhone 6 perhaps -- squeezing out from the front pocket of a young woman's stretch jeans.  With each step she took, the iPhone slid a little further out.  But she couldn't save it as her arms were full with two trays of sheet cake.

Walking past her, I made eye contact, and then looked down to her pocket.  She smiled and asked, "Could you?..."

I gently pushed the phone back into her pocket.  She thanked me and I continued on my way.

When I recount this tale, the guys would, in mock frustration, say "Mike, what's the problem?  Why are you complaining that phones are too big?  Did you at least get her number?"

Okay, this particular situation made for a fun blog entry. But being serious, a phone should fit in your pocket comfortably and be properly sized for one handed operation. The iPhones that came after the 4S pushed past those boundaries, delaying my upgrade from the 4S until it could no longer func…

Microsoft Git-Hub Hub-Bub 🙀

The developer community is divided over Microsoft's purchase of GitHub.  In simple terms, it's closed source versus open source.  ArsTechnica's take is that GitHub had no good alternative, but some developers are having none of that, and are actively exploring options such as GitLab and BitBucket.

For perspective though, and at the risk of sounding like your high school English teacher, read the following articles on Steve Ballmer and Satya Nadella.  Compare and contrast.

Vanity Fair 2012:
Ballmer and Microsoft’s Lost Decade

Wired 2017:
Nadella and Microsoft’s Future
Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer were more than their sums.  Together, they made Microsoft formidable and feared.  Alone, however, Ballmer was a functional CEO, executing in the present, but unable to take Microsoft into the future.
Nadella came from within the ranks of Microsoft, and given the complexity of the company, an insider for CEO was a good thing.  A telling and significant move was that Nadella allowed so…

Phone Cradle Hack

It dawned on me during breakfast.  Coaster sets come in various containers and as I stared at this particular empty holder, I realized it could be used to hold my iPhone.  It props your phone up a bit, and there's a convenient opening to channel your recharging cable.

And what of the coasters it once held?  Without a home, they are coasting around the dining table.