Tech Friday: How is your Cyber Awareness?

Posted By on November 22, 2019

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So … you’ve survived pretty much unscathed after a couple decades of identity theft, credit card fraud and everything moving online … but at some point, you realize that you’ve been lucky.

Most of us are pretty lax when it comes to locking down our data, securing our digital access points and devices. So perhaps it is time to think about doing a personal audit? Start here:

Take Precautions at Home

Keep your home PC and mobile devices—and the accounts you access on them—better protected from malicious attacks by implementing the tips and suggestions below.

Safeguard your cell phone or tablet

Do you know how to tell if your phone has been hacked? (more…)

A little Computer Mouse history … and then some #TBT

Posted By on November 21, 2019

FirstMouse

Hello World! It is frightening to think that I’ve been using computers for 1060px-Telefunken_Rollkugel_RKS_100-86FORTY years and have used and have seen the slow evolution in input devices clustered around a device called the Computer Mouse. So for ThrowBack Thursday #TBT this week, the above is a photo of the original “mouse” in 1964 by Douglas Engelbart. Although the “Ball Mouse” (left) took another four years to appear. It was called the Rolkugel RKS 100-86 and incorporated a “ball.”

BUT … the first usable modern ball-mouse didn’t appear until 1972, 8-years after the first wooden shelled pointing device. It was developed by Bill English in 1972 for Xerox Parc (Palo Alto Research Centre) and was used on the first graphical interfaced computer, the Xerox Alto.

The Alto is contained in a relatively small cabinet and uses a custom central processing unit (CPU) built from multiple SSI and MSI integrated circuits. AltoMouseEach machine cost tens of thousands of dollars despite its status as a personal computer. Only small numbers were built initially, but by the late 1970s, about 1,000 were in use at various Xerox laboratories, and about another 500 in several universities. Total production was about 2,000 systems.

The Alto became well known in Silicon Valley and its GUI was increasingly seen as the future of computing. In 1979, Steve Jobs arranged a visit to Xerox PARC, in which Apple Computer personnel would receive a demonstration of the technology from Xerox in exchange for Xerox being able to purchase stock options in Apple. After two visits to see the Alto, Apple engineers used the concepts to introduce the Apple Lisa and Macintosh systems.

For me, the first production Apple “Ball Mouse” came after leaving the keyboard-only world of mainframe input terminals in college computer labs at Ohio Northern University (Dept of Engineering) … and at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio FirstMacAppleMouse(Memory: one of the perks was that I taught the classes and used an office from a professor on sabbatical; he let me to use his Tandy TRS-80 Micro Computer. Not all graduate teaching assistants independently taught 3 classes and had their own windowed office with computer!

In the early 1980s I started computing on my own with a “very portable” keyboard-only computer known as a Compaq (Compaq Computer). Shortly after I bought my first Apple computer that came with a graphical interface and a mouse – a MacSE and I never looked back (way too many Apple computers over the years!).

I’ve been through a variety of mice, even switching to an Apple clone by Power Computing Corporation for a few years for price and a two-button mouse (I begged Apple for more than one button) and eventually settled on my current aging iMac set-up (8 years old) and the current Apple Magic Mouse.

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An awesome down the beach Florida sunset Fly By [video]

Posted By on November 20, 2019

Actually needed a short video for testing the updated .mp4 embed code for WordPress.

Archive: Why this antique Ogontz Jack Plane is special to me

Posted By on November 19, 2019

JackPlane_GpaBluhmFatherI spent the weekend wasting time reorganizing, sorting and cleaning up my woodworking workshop this past weekend and realizing I have a few older “semi-collectable” tools that I really should comment on … or as Brenda says, write my notes down in a book while I can still remember things.

Now as I mentioned to my kids, I’m not planning or even think that I’m going to die anytime soon … but there are a few things that should at least be mentioned. Back in 1969, my grandfather Richard Bluhm (my mom’s dad and person I was named after), passed away before I was even 10 years old. Still I have so many fond memories of him and realized he was still one of the most important people my life. For one, he only had two girls … meaning he really didn’t have any sons to pass down the “hands-on” workshop skills or the tools that he would have enjoyed doing (before the day women “wanted” to be in and learn traditionally male roles). In short, he always had me tinkering around with him … and I was probably a pretty interested grandson.

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Music Monday: Cool Change – Little River Band 1979

Posted By on November 18, 2019

In keeping with my steady diet of 1970s music for Music Monday, last week Little River Band’s Cool Change from 1979 triggered a “wish I were sailing” thought LRBCoolChangeYRch311just as it did when I was in college. I recall listening to their albums on the turntable regularly in our dorm room and off campus apartment, although don’t think I actually owned the album (probably one of my roommates)?

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Anyway, the Glenn Shorrock written song popped up on Yacht Rock Radio CH 311 and figured it would be a “cool change” of season tune for the blog in mid-November.
 

  Cool Change – Little River Band (mp3) | 1979

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Woodworking: Making a couple new clamping jigs for frames

Posted By on November 17, 2019

DewaltTriggerClampWhen it comes to clamping, I ascribe to the rule of thumb that you can never have too many clamps when woodworking. That said, I often don’t have enough when I’m working on a project … and lately it has been even worse since a few of my tools are in Florida (Condo1718 projects).

Currently I’m working on a couple small projects that require frames to be clamped and glued and I’ve never been happy with my hodgepodge methods to square up and clamp frames, WoodworkingSplineCuttingJigbe they panels, doors or just simple frames. I decided that for the upcoming project I was going to spend a little time making a few clamp jigs that should be able to hold each corner with just one trigger clamp. I’ve always liked the hole saw method for squaring up and centering clamping WoodworkingCornerFrameClampsJigpressure so decided to use it on these jigs.

Also since I don’t want to use any brads on the frames I’m making, I decided to add a small spline for alignment and added strength besides just the end to end grain gluing. So I’m making a small jig that attaches to my tendon cutting tool on my table saw to cut the spline slot. (more…)

Pretty soon we won’t need to think at all – WIRED article

Posted By on November 16, 2019

Here’s a WIRED article that made me think … although it has a misleading title line, even if that is what caught my attention and started me reading it. 

When does user-friendliness, algorithms and anticipatory artificial intelligence that is designed to help us make decisions, end up becoming "I don’t need to think at all" or eventually sap our free-will to think, plan and make decisions?  

Call me old, but I don’t want too much more of this “helping” me in my life.

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How the Dumb Design of a WWII Plane Led to the Macintosh

At first, pilots took the blame for crashes. The true cause, however, lay with the design. That lesson led us into our user-friendly age—but there’s peril to come.

The B-17 Flying Fortress rolled off the drawing board and onto the runway in a mere 12 months, just in time to become the fearsome workhorse of the US Air Force during World War II. Its astounding toughness made pilots adore it: The B-17 could roar through angry squalls of shrapnel and bullets, emerging pockmarked but still airworthy. It was a symbol of American ingenuity, held aloft by four engines, bristling with a dozen machine guns.

Imagine being a pilot of that mighty plane. You know your primary enemy—the Germans and Japanese in your gunsights. But you have another enemy that you can’t see, and it strikes at the most baffling times. Say you’re easing in for another routine landing. You reach down to deploy your landing gear. Suddenly, you hear the scream of metal tearing into the tarmac. You’re rag-dolling around the cockpit while your plane skitters across the runway. A thought flickers across your mind about the gunners below and the other crew: "Whatever has happened to them now, it’s my fault." When your plane finally lurches to a halt, you wonder to yourself: "How on earth did my plane just crash when everything was going fine? What have I done?"

For all the triumph of America’s new planes and tanks during World War II, a silent reaper stalked the battlefield: accidental deaths and mysterious crashes that no amount of training ever seemed to fix. And it wasn’t until the end of the war that the Air Force finally resolved to figure out what had happened.

To do that, the Air Force called upon a young psychologist at the Aero Medical Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. Paul Fitts was a handsome man with a soft Tennessee drawl, analytically minded but with a shiny wave of Brylcreemed hair, Elvis-like, which projected a certain suave nonconformity. Decades later, he’d become known as one of the Air Force’s great minds, the person tasked with hardest, weirdest problems—such as figuring out why people saw UFOs.

Read more at WIRED (also archived below)

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Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.
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