Imagine that you were walking from your car to a store. There’s an event in the neighborhood, so parking was difficult and you have a couple blocks to walk. Along the way, this nice-looking guy comes up to you, all smiles. He’s wearing a pink t-shirt with a lemniscate on it and he offers you that for the low, low price of $99 a year, he’ll let you delete files from your computer. You give him a quizzical look, and try to explain that you’re already able to delete files from your computer. However, he expertly avoids that issue and steers the conversation to fancy words like “cloud,” “backup,” and “encryption.” Suitably impressed, you let him swipe your credit card. Right?
By now, the FCC’s net neutrality vote is old news. That was, at the time of this writing, almost a month and a half ago! However, I don’t think anyone understands it now any better than they did then. Net neutrality is far more complex than most people give it credit for. Whether they’ll admit it or not, to most people, it’s just another political gimmick. Something else to get “excited” about when you’re really, really, bored. Or something like that.
What was I talking about again? Oh yes. Something about the FCC? The Federal Communications Commission is a U.S. government agency whose purpose is to regulate interstate and international communications for U.S. states and territories. That means that anything classified as a “communication” which travels either from one state to another or from the U.S. to another country is subject to FCC regulation. Without getting into the gory details, it suffices to say that there are five commissioner positions with varying responsibilities in the FCC, and that the president of the United States is responsible for their appointment. In addition, he selects one of these commissioners to chair. Generally, the senate must confirm these presidential nominees. However, President Trump was able to give Ajit Pai, a Barack Obama nominee, the chairman position without the senate’s explicit approval because they had already approved his nomination as a commissioner during President Obama’s tenure (Byers). This is why news outlets like the Washington Post and The Verge are able to refer to Ajit Pai as “President Trump’s new FCC chairman.” While technically accurate, the political nature of that choice of lingo is decidedly obvious, especially in context.
In any case, the facts remain facts. On the 18th of May, 2017, the FCC voted to reassess net neutrality regulations, with the goal of “restoring internet freedom” by reducing regulations. Practically, this means that there is a 90 day comment period during which the public is encouraged to comment directly to the FCC with arguments for or against net neutrality. We’re about halfway through that at the time of this writing. When the period ends, the FCC will draft a new set of rules and vote to incorporate the new rules into law. The FCC isn’t a lawmaking body, but they’ll vote to incorporate a bunch of new rules into something that a law already allows them to do. Or something like that.
Rarely a day goes by when you don’t download something. Pictures, music, videos, podcasts, software, hamburgers, and a whole host of other things, right? In most cases, your browser’s download feature will work just fine (although it might get stuck on the hamburger). However, if you’re downloading large or a lot of files and or have a bad internet connection, you’ll want to use a dedicated download manager.
Okay, maybe that was a misleading title. I can’t tell you everything, as that would negate your purpose in the universe.
Maybe this would all make more sense if I told you that everything is a noun. On the other hand, every thing is a noun, so that might just make things more complicated.
What is Everything? Everything is a lightweight search utility which enables you to find anything you might have lost on your computer’s harddrive.
Now, I know what I’d be thinking if somebody told me this – I have Windows 10, which has a convenient search feature built in!
What is an animated GIF? I sent this question out to my email list, and many responded. Most people had approximately the following idea:
An animated GIF is a looping picture animation which is not quite long enough to be a video.
While that’s not wrong, it’s not entirely correct either.
Strictly speaking, an animated GIF consists of two or more frames (separate images), played in sequence.
While the vast majority of animated GIFs do repeat indefinitely, a GIF can also play any x number of times and stop. And while GIFs are most commonly used for entertainment or in place of emojis and the like, their use is not limited to that.
When circumstances give me a few minutes with other people’s Windows computers, the first thing I check for (after looking at the hardware specs) is bloatware. Bloatware is the extra, unnecessary, third-party software which many computers come pre-bundled with. In most cases, I advise people to uninstall everything that isn’t directly from Microsoft, and in the case of Windows 10, many of the things that are. However, there was one piece of “bloatware” I found on a friend’s Acer laptop which I immediately went and installed on all my computers.
Unchecky aids in the prevention of the installation of potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) by automatically unchecking additional offers it detects in installers. PUPs which try to trick you into agreeing to install them through checkboxes in other software’s installers are called bundleware. If you’ve never heard of bundleware before, chances are pretty high you have some.
While some WiFi setups are either insecure and open or secured with a password, many schools, hotels, stores, and other WiFi-providing entities have a third setup – The WiFi is open, but 99.99% of the web is blocked until you authenticate on the wifi’s captive portal. In web terminology, a portal is a page from which you can get to other pages. The captive portal is a portal to every other page on the internet: Captive refers to the fact that it grabs all http connections – capturing you – and sending you to the portal for authentication.
Sometimes the captive portal is used to inform you of terms or rules, and sometimes it even collects exorbitant sums of money (case in point – planes). If you’re looking to bypass wifi cost, I can’t help you. But if you’re logging into a free wifi such as in your school, we can automate that process to make it less of a hassle when you move around and your computer starts communicating with a different router.
To do this, we will install Lynx and OpenSSL, create a script for lynx which logs in to the wifi, create a batch file which runs lynx and passes the script, and then bundle the two files together with iexpress to run in the background. Finally, we’ll schedule a task in the Task Scheduler to automatically run this program when you connect to WiFi.
“I’m going to try Hololens next Friday,” I told a friend in one of my computer science classes.
“To try what?”
“I have an appointment at the Microsoft Store today,” I announce to some friends at breakfast. A few raise their eyebrows.
“I’m going to try Hololens.”
“Is it like, holograph?” another pipes in.
I do not roll my eyes, but I get very close to doing so.
Apparently nobody knows what Hololens is.
(image credit: Microsoft)
In a nutshell, Hololens is Microsoft’s take on Augmented Reality. That is, Hololens integrates virtual three dimensional objects with your physical surroundings which yields a “mixed reality” of physical and virtual objects.
Last Friday, I demoed the Hololens at Microsoft’s fancy new store on 5th Avenue.