Tech Links

LinuxUser (UK): Create a NAS box from spare parts.

Ars: Intel’s Broadwell mini-PC. I love the form factor. But then, I’ve owned three Mac Minis.

I keep thinking I should learn the R language. Of course, I used to think that about GnuPlot.

HowToForge: Installing Git and Using GitHub on Ubuntu.

GSoC: SciRuby. There’s a program I’d love to rewrite 20 years later using a high-level language to do the Fast Fourier Transforms. I’m not sure what I’d use for the GUI.

Web UpD8: Install the official Telegram client for Linux.





Software Update

In the mid-1990’s I worked for a telecommunications firm that was trying to make a set top box for interactive television. (This was even as the internet was exploding. Read Michael Lewis’ The Next Next Thing to find out what the “B Team” was working on.) One of the things I spent a lot of time on was “software update.” We needed a way to securely update the operating software in the device, and we wanted to do it while connected to our network, because the cost to roll a truck and have a technician do it was prohibitive.

A few years later, I was working for a different company trying to innovate in the electrical power industry. (I know, it was hopeless. But I was young and naive.) Anyway, we had the exact same problem: securely updating the software in a networked device. It’s a problem that’s fraught with difficulties.

As it happens, both of those ventures flamed out, so I never got to be part of solving that problem. But this morning, as I was eating my oatmeal, I saw that someone else seems to be doing it:


Not only solved, but untethered. Yay Apple.

Tab Sweep

Here, with minimal comments, are some things I ran across on the internet that I thought were amusing or interesting.

Depressed Darth: Stay on Target.

Alternate History: What if “Star Wars Episode 1” was good?

Top voice talents: 5 Guys in a Limo.

The Lives of Others. (I’ve seen this. A great movie. It’s my favorite German-language film, except possibly Downfall.)

Joss Whedon: why does he kill the characters we love? And what does that forebode about Tony Stark in The Avengers?

Tripp and Tyler’s Rad Sk8 (featuring Tony Hawk).

Life on earth prospers during certain seasons in the galactic year. When the solar system passes through regions with a lot of star formation going on, things get better here:

[The fossil records] tended to be richest in their variety when continents were drifting apart and sea levels were high and less varied when the land masses gathered 250 million years ago into the supercontinent called Pangaea and the sea-level was lower. But this geophysical effect was not the whole story. When it is removed from the record of biodiversity, what remains corresponds closely to the changing rate of nearby stellar explosions, with the variety of life being greatest when supernovae are plentiful.—via /.

Brief Internet Outage

There’s no such thing as a brief internet outage! What did people do with their time 20 years ago?

Ours lasted from sometime last night until late this evening, and it was caused by the stupid way our ISP does tech support. They aren’t bad, they just won’t be reasonable, unless you know the secret word. Which I do–it’s “shibboleet“–but I wasn’t home all day.

Anyway, it turns out the problem was that the “modem” reset itself to factory defaults and quit working, because the factory defaults are incompatible with the network. Very clever of the ISP to design their firmware that way, don’t you think?