Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Crossing


On days like today when the weather isn't so good and I'm stuck indoors and I need space to think, where do I go?
Everyone needs a change of scenery once in a while to help their thought process. A place where one is away from the distractions that clutter thought. When I'm stuck at my desk I disappear to the location in the picture. Virtually.
It's a live stream on YouTube of a railway crossing in the Netherlands. It's a perfect snapshot of Dutch life. Bicycles, people, scooters, cars and trains all visit this spot. I can lose hours gazing out of my virtual window. It's a place to observe and to daydream and to think. I can mull over the obstacles to solutions and then get back to work. There's all the time in the world at the crossing.
Maybe you'll find it. It might be the escape you're looking for. A place to go in inclement weather. It might provide a solution. Who knows?
You might even bump into me there.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Pushing It


It turns out that my rucksack was only 15kgs.
I thought it was much more. By the end of the 12 mile trek it certainly felt like much more.
I had a wonderful day exploring the Leicestershire countryside. The highlight was the Shaggy Ink Cap fungi above. It was absolutely stunning in its location. A real treat of a find.
More walks are planned.
Bed now. I'm as swollen as a balloon.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Small Victories


Sometimes finding the right command in Linux shell can be an uphill struggle.
I seem to spend hours at a time looking for a simple and elegant solution to a problem only to find long winded articles on how to achieve the result I'm looking for. Today was one such day.
All I wanted to do was re-arrange a list in a random order. There were plenty of articles on how to choose a single item on the list randomly but nothing about my particular problem.
Then I came across the shuf command. There were a few solutions that were close but not quite what I wanted. This is where man pages come into their own. The man page for shuf is short and sweet and all the options I needed are right there on the page. After a little trial and error I wrote a short and elegant command (see above) that does exactly what I want.
How does it work?
I make a list with each item on a different line in a text file and the command writes another text file with the same list but in a random order. Simple.
One more Linux victory under my belt.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Free Speech


There are some people that do bad things. Very bad things.
The people that do bad things like to communicate in secret. The UK government would like to stop the bad people doing that and so they want to compromise the tools that the bad people use.
That's all well and good but there's a problem. The good people use the same tools. The good people don't use those tools for bad things, they use them because their friends use them. That's a lot of people using the tools. Mostly for good.
If the government compromise the tools to catch the bad people, they also compromise the same tools for the good people. If the government can get in on a conversation so can other people. The other people that can get in might want to ruin the good people's experience of the tool and might go beyond that and ruin a lot more.
I'm not saying anything new here. It's well known that in the past various services have been compromised by government agencies and that beyond that people who don't work for the government have got hold of the methods and used that information to exploit any amount of innocent people.
It's been said thousands of times. One must learn to protect oneself.
Linux distributions are FREE! The distributions come with encryption built in and other tools are free also. These can be easily added. The whole Linux experience can reside on a USB stick, 8GB is fine, and cheap. You probably have one in a draw that you're not using because by today's standards it's a bit small for your storage needs.
Google searches for "Linux cryptography" or "Linux steganography" will keep you amused for hours. Linux is easy to get to grips with. If you start with Ubuntu you'll be up and running in no time. There is obviously some learning to do but not a great deal. YouTube is full of 'getting started' videos.
The choice is yours. Be prepared for an onslaught against your privacy or keep your fingers away from your computer or mobile device.