Advice on Computer and Software Upgrades

Keeping your computer software up-to-date is important for security, and also gets you the latest great features. Computer hardware is better than ever, which also means that a computer stays useful longer than ever and is more reliable because of better chassis, connectors and electronics, and fewer moving parts.

Software

Whether you are using macOS (previously Mac OS X), Windows, or Linux, keeping your computer up-to-date gives you the latest security updates and helps keep your computer reliable and fast. We can quibble over preferences and the track records of software vendors, but keeping your software updated is always the best choice.

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Email Apps

I’ve been using email for over 35 years (no typo) and I’m still surprised by the clever new ideas I see in the best email apps. Email apps can add an email to a reading list, or turn it into an item in your to-do list, or add an event to your calendar. Many have features for smart sorting of your email and to “snooze” an email for later. Many are beautiful and thoughtfully designed with gestures for touch-screen devices.

But what’s best for me is not necessarily what’s best for you. Below I run through some basics about email and make some recommendations for good apps to try.

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Webmention testing, part 2

Let’s see if this mention goes back to my withkown site:

https://darius.withknown.com/2015/replying-to-indieweb-post—test-wgebmention

(Sorry about the misspelling.)

 

 

Paying down technical debt…

After the update to wordpress 4.4 beta, activating a certain plugin caused wordpress to fail, delivering empty pages. After fixing that, I’m going back through to test a few things to be sure stuff is back to ok.

Indieweb Audit

At indiewebcamp, and my first step is to audit all the stuff I have and find the holes and any problems.

Fight to Make Your Product Great

In the mid-80’s I took my second tech job, at a company called Silicon Graphics, Inc.

SGI, before it officially contracted its name to “SGI”, was a fantastic place to grow and learn. It was intense and focused, and my modest technical know-how in Unix, TCP/IP Networking, and Computer Hardware matched well as the company grew its Unix workstation business and more customers connected computers to Internet Protocol networks. I was soon a main contact point for the most intractable problems from customers, and the Customer Support representative to new product introductions.

The focus and intensity made for arguments, some that probably would seem to outsiders as knock-down, drag-out fights.  But a friend from those days put it well when he said, “We fight with each other, but we fight to make a great product.”

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IIW, an Open Space Conference

IIW uses the Open Space Technology process for self-organizing the conference. The importance of all of this is often unclear to the newcomer, but people come around, as they come to understand that there rules generate a conference that works much like the hallways and bars in traditional conferences. The whole thing becomes a great swirling stew of fascinating interlocking conversations, and real work comes out of it.

This starts with four principles:

1. Whoever comes are the right people. These people came to this session because they wanted to be here. The mix of opinions, ideas, and questions that result are exactly what we are hoping for.

2. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have. These sessions are generative. What happens is not always what you thought might happen, but that’s ok! Let go of your expectations and enjoy the flow of ideas.

3. Whenever it starts is the right time. Start on time, even if you are expecting more people. Someone may join mid-way through, and that’s ok.

4. Whenever it’s over it’s over. We give over the space to the next sessions on time. If you are still in the middle of a great conversation, move somewhere, or schedule a follow-up. If the conversation is over, or the part that interests you is done, then you may leave.

Plus, the important Law of Two Feet:

You have both Mobility and Responsibility! Move around if you like. if a conversation isn’t interesting, just move. It’s common that there is several interesting sessions at the same time slot — move around, sample and enjoy.

Book of Proceedings:

Every IIW generates a Book of Proceedings, containing the notes from every session. it’s important that someone at each session takes notes. There is a simple, standard format for the notes, to include the sessions number, location, convener, title and note-taker.

See also: IIW Wiki  and IIW Session Notes Format

IIW XXI Begins

Internet Identity Workshop is my favorite conference. The topics covered, which span across Identity, Privacy, Community, and Security and more, continue to be relevant even after more than a decade. The “Open Spaces” format generates lively discussions across a range of topics, all created on the spot by the participants. 

It’s also a conference full of friends who I’ve come to know over the years. I’ve already had a couple quick “catch-up” conversations and looking forward to more. 

 

Thinking about product design

I had an interesting discussion this weekend about computers and devices and Internet of Things. I’m still sorting out how exactly to articulate this, and then this morning this great example from Marco Arment came to my news feed:

From Redesigning Overcast’s Apple Watch app – Marco.org:

It’s unwise and futile to try to shove iPhone interfaces and paradigms into the Apple Watch. Instead, design for what the Watch really is.

All these devices are testing the creativity and interaction concepts of designers and developers. Whether it’s the Apple Watch, some new “Internet of Things” device, or even something as straightforward, but polarizing, as the new Apple MacBook, Thinking about what the thing is for, and understanding the subtle ways that people will use the new thing — that’s where the magic happens.

Read Marco’s post about his app. The specific are interesting, and the more general lessons essential.

Turntable Repair Project Update

My old turntable may be back in action soon.

I roped my friend Cliff into giving me a hand figuring out how to repair the cracked and wobbling plastic drive belt pulley. It doubles as a strobe indicator, so repairing it is best. This turntable is a somewhat rare thing from the 70’s. Some parts are still available, but not this strobe pulley.

I think Cliff’s repair job is going to work. Here are a couple photos…

IMG_0882 IMG_0883

You can see the cracked plastic in the close-up picture above. Cliff cut a copper tube for the inner post sleeve, glued in the shards of the original part, and then packed it all in a special epoxy modeling clay. the larger outercopper tube then adds structure and also cut away a bit of excess clay.

Here is what it will look like in position, shown here with the drive belt pulled aside, since the strobe pulley repair is not yet set. it spins freely with no discernible wobble. I think this is going to work!

Pulley in position