Posted in Personal

Mint installation on Acer Swift 1

After extensive cat training, I managed to get two of our black commandos to pull my custom laptop off the arm of my chair and onto the power connector. And after a visit to the repair shop, and being informed that the custom extended power connection. Hence the opportunity to buy a new laptop. The old custom Clevo Laptop was still as fast the the current batch of off the shelf laptops and the wife didn’t want me to build a new custom laptop. So the hunt was on.

The wish list was for a better screen (HD) Lighted keyboard all metal body, But cheap. I had never taxed the CPU in the old laptop so it could be a slower system, but it had to have an SSD as I had gotten used to one in the Clevo. What I found was a Acer Swift 1

The first thing that was required was to remove Windows 10 as I had no intention to use it. After booting into Windows, I set Fast Boot off, and intercepted the BIOS (F2) and shut off secure boot.

I then booted into my Mint 8.3 USB and wiped the 128GB SSD (Kingston) and installed the Mint Cinnamon 8.3 distro. Almost everything works, there was a issue with the Touchpad locking up at random, and the recommended solution was to set the BIOS for the touchpad to ‘Basic’ from Advanced, but that only helped a bit. However a Kernel update to 4.13 and then 4.15 the touchpad it fully functional.

Only one thing remains, The Swift 1 came with a fingerprint reader. It is not in the listed drivers for Linux, at least not yet because I think it’s too new.

But I’m happy with the the results, and I’m posting this from it.

Acer_Swift_1

PS: The screen is great, the look is great and I can live with the slower CPU. And I didn’t get the lighted Keyboard either 😦

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Posted in history, Personal

Retirement — lingering thoughts.

I’m setting here debugging a SQL query from one of the people here, and thinking about my last full day at work before retirement, or what will pass for my retirement. I will be reducing my Career working hours to part time, so not a full retirement. This is not that I couldn’t give it up completely, it’s just that this is a lifeline in the off chance that I might go mad. But in my past, I have been in a quiescence where the boredom has sparked enlightened productivity. My two submissions to the DECUS program Libraries were the result of slow (bored) periods at work. And I have many thought projects, that when I feel the need to perform, will lift me.

But my real thoughts are about how fast I got here. Long ago, I knew that this day would arrive. Part of me believed that I wouldn’t make it this far. But in a flash it’s here. I have done many things, some that will never be done again by others, which makes them hard to share. Other lives I’ve lived are perhaps too personal to share. And due to my upbringing I have done most of these alone. I have never been a full time group member in anyone’s circle, and probably won’t ever be.

So if you are the least bit interested, ask, perhaps I’ll share a story or two (while making new ones in the future)

UPDATE: Well it’s been a year, and I’m done, Retired.

Posted in Apple, CIA, Encryption, FBI, NSA, Personal

Apple vs FBI: The unspoken Truth on Encryption

While one can admire Apple for ‘defending’ it’s customers privacy, while also benefiting with the positive advertising. It is probably a moot, and hollow victory as the NSA and the CIA have already broken Apple security.

Not that it shouldn’t be of high importance, the resources required to do the cracking of any particular extraction of an encrypted message sent with a iPhone would most likely exceed the budget of a small country. Which is exactly the point of encryption, making it hard, and expensive to decrypt. Imagine the joviality at the NSA/CIA after the hours of decryption, that the ‘Important’ message turns out to be a high priority, top secret Cookie Recipe from you mothers cookbook.

And thereby is the unspoken truth of encryption the first one is this: you must either decrypt everything, to find what is being said, because if you can only choose strategic messages, choosing the right ones are tantamount.

During WWII monitoring enemy communication was aided by observing the frequency of communication traffic, when frequency increased, something important was being communicated. Modern military communications is continuous and unbroken, transmitting meaningless message traffic, and therefore not highlighting any particular message in the traffic stream that would be required to be decrypted. This would now be a requirement to decrypt everything, in the military traffic stream.

The second Truth is this; The assumption that you can decrypt all the messages is the hight of arrogance and ignorance. Anyone, yes anyone can create an encryption that will be impossible for a machine of any sort to decrypt, and many of these can be hidden to the point that even a human expert directly observing the message can not decipher.

Imagine hiding messages in the continuous email stream called Spam, which now constitutes more that 80% of all email traffic?

Thoughts like this keep the NSA/CIA/FBI up nights, and no matter what Bull Shit they might tell you about the need to have back doors and encryption keys it will NEVER catch all the potential secret messages that terrorists might choose to pass to each other.

Because the simplest of truths: It isn’t possible.

UPDATE: and now the E.U. politicians are talking about it. European Officials To Discuss Anti-Encryption Measures.

Posted in history, IT Issues, Personal, Software

I.T. as street vendors

Yesterday while talking with a colleague, I was trying to get a cross the idea the most ‘programmers’ don’t understand what goes on inside a computer. And his response was, “Does it matter any more?” and while it took me back, I had to respond, “No!”  After sleeping on it, I came to a revelation of sorts.

Current IT is equivalent to being a Hot-dog vendor on the street.

And while we IT/CS folk might try and elevate our profession to that status of demigod status we are merely vendors of what the computer can DO!‘  We don’t create the computer, we splash condiments on the hot-dog, and sell it as computing.  We don’t even make the condiments anymore, call them libraries, functions written by gnomes in dark caves.  And don’t even mention the buns, the dressing ,the cover, beyond us.

In the early days of computing, the common question was, what do I use my computer for. And the first answer often was, you could put your cooking recipes in it.  Creating the first cookbook you needed to plugin. The computer is still the same, just that the cookbook has gotten more sophisticated.

I have harped for years that the ‘hardware’ of computing has crippled real advances in computing, more and more systems are opting for generic in their selection of Hot-dog instead, choosing to dress it up with more and intriguing spices and toppings, things like AI and Neural Networks.  While these latter are more sophisticated and sexy, they are more or less toppings on the same Hot-dog.

Posted in Personal

The Rudder

I have been doing IT for more than 35 years, and on my birthday, I was inspired by my past, I remember almost everything that has brought me here.

Then I see the new people in my current company and wish that they would look around them, and remember what they see and do. This is a rudder they are seeing. Every thing they are thinking, doing, deciding on is their rudder, it will lead and point them in a direction. And I want to remind them that this rudder is behind them, and if they do not take hold of the rudder, it could lead them where they are not dreaming of, and not wishing for. But a rudder is behind the boat, you have to choose to steer your boat towards what you want to be, where you want to go.

Fate will handle your rudder and could take you astray if you let it, be aware of short term thinking, and dream big.

Posted in Education, Gender, Internet, Personal

AI (Artifical Intelligence)

There are a number of AI movies arriving in the near future, and the thought that seems to run through them all is that AI, Artificial Intelligence is depicted as being contained within humanoid constructs, frequently Female Humanoid. It brings up several interesting notions;

  • If one of the defining characteristics of AI is being ‘Self Aware’ can a computer, an AI contained within a box become self aware?
  • Does it need sensors to see, hear and touch itself to become aware of it’s existence?
  • Would a box be more or less likely to to identify with Humans if it identified itself as a box that thinks it’s alive?
  • Does an AI contained in a Female humanoid framework Identify with Female Humans? (and maybe hates Male Humans?)

All interesting things particularly in the event of an AI operating IoT (Internet of things) within a persons house. How would it ‘identify’ with the Humans, cats and dogs residing therein?

More than enough Ideas to make movies about.

Could an AI really be that angry about not having reproductive sex?