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From Information Week

Linux Container Operating Systems: Thin Is In

by Charles Babcock
When is less really more? When it’s a Linux operating system designed to run containers, such as Red Hat Atomic Host, Ubuntu Snappy, or CoreOS. As developers increasingly embrace containers for building and running apps, these small footprint systems could change the operating system’s long-standing role

Another article from Information Week, a slideshow also worth at least a cursory scan:

8 Microsoft Office Alternatives

by Kelly Sheridan

Microsoft’s Office productivity suite may be the go-to choice for personal and enterprise use, but there are cheaper options available.
They list Apache Open Office, Zoho Docs, Libre Office, Free Office and Softmaker Office, Apple iWork, Google Docs (Google Apps), and ThinkFree Online

Good source for free and well written BASH Documentation / Tutorials

One of the most difficult parts of switching to a new computer operating system is learning the commands. I found a link to a really good source for Linux shell scripting instructions — one that most people can follow, even have fun with as a hobby, which should be interesting for Raspberry Pi users as well, if they have BASH installed. IT is at the Linux Documentation Project, free downloads, html, and pdf. Very nice work, easy to read and play with.

A push toward more people using Linux came about over the last decade mostly because the major software OS supplier was suffering from acute cranial-rectal inversion: you can’t expect your customers to remain your customers when you are price gouging them for buggy products most likely containing government surveillance malware and then suing their cities over the lack of one receipt for a system upgrade! Eventually the market will bring in another player to service all those customers that your hubris is driving away!

However, over the last couple of years the largest OS vendor has made some amends and his market share as measured by visitors to our collection of web sites has increased from 60%, although by how much we cannot be sure as our stats engine does not yet clearly categorize contacts from mobile devices: assigning *unrealistically) all ambiguous contacts to this vendor would let him have almost 80% market share.

IF the unmitigated NSA / FBI / etc. government extremism in bugging everything from wireless networks and phones to your private potty (“Sorry, you cannot flush at this time as the DHS Inspection Recall Task (DIRT) is currently full: we are unable to accept your DNA evidence to be inspected, evaluated, and permanently archived for future witch hunts. Please try again later.”) brings more public reaction in the form of refusing to use OSes deliberately made to spy on citizens without their knowledge or consent, this documentation could be of even more interest as people learn to control their own computers fairly easily thereby. Linux is very different from the largest retail OS in that almost all configuration is easily controlled and read in plan words which a normal person can learn to use fairly quickly ( the configuration files usually have copious comments instructing the user on each configuration choice).

This is a really nice source for learning to control the *ix type systems, from Raspberry PI to hundreds of Linux distros to Apple to Unix.

That’s my two bits for today: please insert two quarters to play again…

Monday June 18 Microsoft Announcement

Rumer is it’s a tablet to be made by Microsoft, like the XBox.

This just in from Mashable:

It’s hard to recall another Microsoft invitation like this one. No graphics, no details, no leaks. It sounds, well, almost Apple-esque in its urgency and stringent requirements and rules:

This is a non-transferrable invitation, however, if you would like to send your local colleague in your place, please submit that name and it will be reviewed. If you would like to bring a photographer please register that person as your additional guest. Please note – still photography and video will be limited.

So what does Microsoft have up its sleeve?

The article goes on to speculate. I wonder if Microsoft has read my blog and is releasing a new MS Phone with Win8 that also works as a reasonable PC when docked to keyboard and screen. That would be a massive explosion before the 3Q2012 tablet onslaught. If they did that they might even impact the upcoming Apple release.

Consumer tablet avalanche is coming

Last fall Hewlett Packard decided to end its consumer computer line and focus on commercial computers. At that time they also decided to liquidate their inventory of HP TouchPad tablets at $99 each which detonated a market response loud enough to awaken every potential tablet maker on the planet. The philosophy before that time had been that “People just don’t want tablets”: at that moment they all simultaneously realized “People do want tablets, they just refuse to pay $600 to get one.” It is pretty much as Henry Ford observed: “If you build a product that people know they want, and sell it for a price they can afford to pay, they will buy it.”

At that time I began telling people that by 3rd-4th quarter 2012 — after manufacturers had time to get a design and start production — there would be a large increase in availability of tablets at much more competitive prices. Netbooks would also decrease in visibility — we’ll see tablets and notebooks with desktop PCs for syncing and “real” work — mobile devices are OK in the field but inadequate for standard office work such as typing and web page development.

At this point in time Best Buy and Office Depot adds in the Fort Wayne Newspapers Sunday paper both had several tablets on sale — ASUS has the most expensive one: the TF300 Transformer Tablet: at $399.99. It has a keyboard/dock available to mitigate the irritation of typing: the TF300 Transformer Doc: for another $149.99. Acer also has an entry, the A100 Icona for $259.99. Other Best Buy entries include a Kindle for $79.99, and a PanDigital Nova Android Reader for 139.99. They also had a Brother HL-2270DW Laser Printer for $99.99 and a bunch of Droid phones. Office Depot has a Brother HL-2240 Laser printer on their cover for $69.99 and also has the ASUS Transformer for $399.99. I also noticed at Barns and Nobles this week they were aggressively promoting their Nook Color for $249: their web site currently prices Nook Color and Nook Tablet respectively at $169 and $199. I have a Nook Color and an HP TouchPad. They are both great: my only irritations are 1. inability to take notes as I could on older PDAs, and 2. uncooperative on-line store bickering that requires me to load Android to read the Kindle or Droid stores from my Nook. CM7 “Gingerbread” works nicely. Ice Cream Sandwich (CM9) is available but it is still experimental, and possibly dead. I have considered doing Nook Color development to fix some of my irritations but other projects are still higher priority right now.

My take on this is that we are beginning to see the snow wrinkle up in the mountains but the landslide has not reached us yet — prices will be lower and selection will be more like the selection for mobile phones is now — many possibilities in several price brackets. I think some of these tablets may even include telephony with a small BlueTooth remote with the requisite SIM card and 1-2 year contract. I am thinking the price will be around $150 or less in most cases with high end tablets being closer to $250. I see Apple has a niche market who will pay for art, so I am not thinking they will discount whatever version of the iPad is current much lower than today’s $499, however they may very well add a killer feature or two — HUP in eye glasses with a BlueTooth connection for example.

Where I think the technology is going:

  • Docking / sync stations will be an add-on at first as was the number keypad for the IBM PC keyboard, but eventually they will be expected as a part of the tablet. BlueTooth could be used to allow use with an external BlueTooth keyboard and mouse instead.
  • Telephoney will be included. My HP 6910p already has it with a SIM card slot under the battery, and that is an old notebook. More popular however will be tablets which are “unlocked” — those which will allow the owner to control who s/he chooses for his or her business partner (wireless vendor).
  • Handwriting mode will be added with some kind of office apps built in — not via “the cloud”.  It will become possible to take notes in meetings without a big effort.
  • There will be a decent real leather case that can be carried elegantly on your person — not like the awkward bump that gets stuck on things as you walk past. There will be more accessorization and as the price drops at the low end people will be thinking more in terms of the color or art on the plastic, assuming all the electronics works about the same with about the same capabilities.
  • Competition will heat up pretty good 3Q2012 with explosive deals on Black Friday to hit the Christmas season. Unemployment dropped to about 7% in Indiana last month so more people will have money to spend. Hopefully.
  • The itty-bitty-breakable tiny USB micro jack for power charging and linking will go away. It will be replaced by magnetic charging and wireless link for both customer satisfaction and hardware cost reasons.
  • Barns and Nobles, Amazon, Apple, and others will quit bickering over “stores” and trying to prevent their customers from benefiting from media sold by other stores, and tablets will all run all the major store apps so customers can buy where they see fit. I say “all the major store apps” because the market is always right and those who won’t play nice eventually won’t play much. The Customer May Not Always Be Right, BUT THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS THE CUSTOMER!
  • Multi-core processors will be included with decent RAM and other resource allocations in the design. While you are out you will use the tablet as a mobile device but when you get home you will slide it into a slot/dock and it will become your PC. Ubuntu has already announced they *have* done this for multi-core phones running Android — a version of Ubuntu installs on the phone alongside the Android: docking the phone turns it into a satisfactory PC. Bill Gates foresaw this two decades ago and wrote about it in his book. Microsoft has redesigned the Windows 8 “Metro” to look and work like a mobile device instead of the desktop — I wonder if someone is awake there too.
  • Pricing: single-cores that can’t turn into a PC by docking: commodity $20-$89, mid: $149, high: $249 and up. Pricing multi-cores that can actually do a passable job as a generic office PC:  commodity $250-$350, mid: $450-$689, high: $700 and up.

That is the thought for the day — hold your plastic a couple more months unless you are dying to own a Nook or Kindle, and have plenty of cash ready to go for Black Friday sales right after Thanksgiving Thursday. Also when you buy watch for features and hardware composition: especially at first things will not all be compatible or equal.

Interesting Snipits 20110414

We like ExteremTech Magazine, a part of the PC Mag empire. Here are a few articles we found interesting enough to bring to your attention.

Electric Cars —

“Everybody knows electric cars are going to be the next big thing. But sales have lagged because as it stands, they’re kinda sorta completely impractical. This is largely due to limited range and a lack of infrastructure. … To be precise, the group’s four-wheel drive SIM-LEI can ring out one charge for 206 miles in an urban driving situation, and 190 miles while cruising at 62 mph.”,2845,2383437,00.asp

Psi. A little perspective might help here. Henry Ford once said that if you build a product that people know they need, and sell it for a price that they can afford to pay, they will buy it. I am all for sensible alternative transportation, including high speed trams and electric cars. But as a real solution, not as a political gimmick.

The reason electric cars are not selling significantly is not that their range is low. The gigantic problem is the insane, abusive, selling price. By comparison to these $50,000 – $100,000 make-me-rich-quick-by-playing-the-green-excuse-game electric fantasies a realistic vehicle such as the compressed air powered Tata (India) retails for $4,000. And it runs all day on a charge of compressed air. Tata motors is not selling this car in America (it is sold in India, Africa, and other 3rd world areas) so a similar car could be made here: it is based upon mature, reliable, simple, mass producible, extremely affordable technology.

A socially responsible person would direct their company to produce sellable product at a price people can afford and that eliminates dependence on terrorist oil, rather than increasing the price of gasoline motor fuel to make the abusive cost for a sub-optimal vehicle seem the lesser of two evils. A socially responsible person would not depend upon “after market” price manipulation to raise the selling price of gas from its actual cost of 14 cents/gallon to unconscionable levels that have destroyed the global economy, give treasonous levels of profit to a very few ultra-rich manipulators, and fund terrorists so they can murder more innocent women and children.

If the goal was really to eliminate our dependency on foreign oil and save the environment then we would already be using existing and cheap technology that we already have and can mass produce. Compressing air and releasing it again is about as non-polluting as we can get. Manufacturing huge amounts of electronic components with poisonous byproducts and energy intense processes is not the best way to reduce our carbon footprint.

The Hidden Multitouch Gestures of iOS 4.3 —

According to an article in at,2845,2383371,00.asp, Apple “designed some cool multitouch gestures into iOS 4.3 utilizing four and five finger controls, but didn’t think they were quite ready for primetime, so they remained hidden away in iJail. These contraband gestures would allow users to finger-fiddle their way through three functions:

  • Close four or five fingers together to return to the home screen.
  • Scroll up or down with four or five fingers to view the multitasking tray.
  • Scroll left or right with four or five fingers to switch between apps.

”  And the article explains how to activate these multi-finger moves.

GMail Motion (April Fools day prank) Actually Implemented at USC

“This year, Google treated Gmail users to an exciting new Beta function: Gmail Motion. The feature allows users to interact with their Gmail accounts via gestures captured by their computer’s camera. … there are a lot of people working on making gesture recognition a reality. This movement kicked into high gear over the past year with the introduction of the motion-based Xbox Kinect. Kinect has inspired University research groups and lone wolf hackers around the world to see how far they could push this future-y new tech, often with some very cool results.” There is more in the article at,2845,2383297,00.asp.