Category Archives: Chromebook

Top 9 “Carry On” Coding Terms

When a non-programmer looks over at my computer screen whilst I’m coding, I’m met with varying reactions. The usual reaction is one of confusion, amazement, sometimes admiration but every now and then… bewilderment at seemingly filthy language.

The bewilderment often comes after a closer look at what I’m typing. Take for example:

> git pull

> make clean | head

Out of context, one could get the wrong idea. A lot of our commands sound like something out of a Carry On movie. Strangely enough this doesn’t usually occur to the everyday friendly neighbourhood programmer like myself. Not because our minds aren’t as filthy as the rest of the world, but just because we’re used to the technical usage of these terms.


“A lot of our commands sound like something out of a Carry On movie”

Often friends have called me out on these. “Git?”, they’d say between chuckles, “Why are you typing git?”. In my head, I’m thinking “how can you not know what ‘git’ is!?” which of course is a nonsensical question. Why should they know?

Well, here is a short blog to give you what I consider to be the top 9 misunderstood “Carry On Coding” computer commands, in no particular order. (For the technical beings amongst you, I am taking my cue from Linux BaSH scripting commands).

  1. head: You see anyone typing this, don’t be alarmed. The command simply retrieves the first few lines of a file (or stream of text).
  2. touch: If you see a programmer type touch me, they are simply creating a blank file called “me” if it doesn’t exist. If it does, it changes the modified date of the file as if the file has been updated.
  3. git: One of the more frequent commands you may find a programmer using, it is not an insult to anyone. It is simply a tool to manage a repository of files. Ok, let me try that again – imagine a remote filing system (like Dropbox or Google Drive) which also stores every version of every file and directory. It’s something close to that. Why this tool was called “git” in the first place? Google it.

    That’s right, I have no idea.

  4. tail: This is similar to head except it retrieves the last few lines of a file. That is the only rear end it is referring to.
  5. kill: The only thing getting murdered with this command is a process on your computer. Think of this as a program killer. If you use Windows, think of when (not if) you have had to type Ctrl-Alt-Del to see everything that is running, and stopping (or killing) processes or applications that aren’t responding, for example.
  6. killall: See kill… but referring to the app you want to kill by name.
  7. wc: This is a command to count the number of words in a file. It is not a request for a public lavatory. Next.
  8. df: If you’re curious about the confusion here with this term, Urban Dictionary will tell you it’s another way of saying “wtf”. Rest assured, when we type df we’re not expressing such frustration at the computer (much as we’d like to). It simply checks how much space is free on your machine. (df = disk free).
  9. bash: Why am I clarifying this one? Look up Urban Dictionary. Bash is the name of a Linux command environment… erm… translates garbage coders type into things a computer can understand. That’s as far as I’ll go into that, apologies to the coders out there.

Honourable mentions: finger, unzip, fork and mount. If you’re burning with curiosity regarding the technical meaning of these, go ask a programmer. But most likely, you’re giggling like a school child and couldn’t care less about the technical meaning…

So there you have it. Hopefully that clears a few things up. If you look at a coder’s screen and think you saw something dirty, you can no longer claim ignorance!

Carry On Coding!
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Why Hacking is NOT Illegal

I love hacking.
That statement has consistently rung alarm bells amongst my non-techy pals whenever I make that statement. Typical responses include:

“You’re a hacker??”
“Don’t say that too loud.”
“I’ll visit you in prison.”




Instagram @futuristmindset

Imagine, the reactions when I go further to mention that I’ve been to some Hackathons in my time!?

tldr; There are two definitions given in Dictionary.com for the word “hack”:

Computers.

  1. to modify (a computer program or electronic device) or write (a program) in a skilful or clever way: Developers have hacked the app.
    I hacked my tablet to do some very cool things.
  2. to circumvent security and break into (a network, computer, file, etc.), usually with malicious intent: Criminals hacked the bank’s servers yesterday.
    Our team systematically hacks our network to find vulnerabilities.

Now, I do understand the confusion. I get why everyone always jumps to the negative connotation first. The answer is simple. Media.

Hacking is simply creatively and relentlessly solving a technical problem.


Instagram @futuristmindset

Unfortunately, the only time you hear the term “hacking” in the media is when some media company like Sony or a bank has been broken into. Or organised groups ¬†attempting to derail a website. Not the more positive connotation like hacking to build new wearable technology, or even charitable hacking. Because… news.

Social media has spread this misunderstanding. When someone posts a silly status on someone else’s account, somehow “hacking” is a word that gets bandied about.

It’s a bit like the term downloading. You only hear the word when associated with illegally downloading movies or music. But it’s simply the act of retrieving files from a remote location – online or on another device – and saving it onto another.

Now I’m no conspiracy theorist, but the media does tend to warp meanings and opinions effortlessly.

I realise of course that I have inadvertently included myself in that last statement, and I am ok with that. And I’m not ok with that.

Hackathons themselves are amazing. There are so many challenges organised within and between different companies, where individuals or groups are challenged to create something innovative within 24 hours, 72 hours, or any other time period. It’s a great excuse to consume pizza and block out life for a small period of time, but the results are astounding, and the competition is healthy.


AT&T Mobile App Hackathon

Imagine if something like that existed for your chosen profession or hobby?

So you can sleep soundly knowing that there are literally millions of us hacking each and every day. Comforting right…?

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Why you need a Chromebook | Intro

In 2007, I became a Mac convert. Two MacBook’s and a Mac Mini later, I received my first Chromebook in 2012. A year later, I sold my MacBook Pro on eBay after blowing the dust off the keyboard and screen after a year of not being used.

If you have a problem, if no other device can help, and if you can buy them, maybe you can own… a Chromebook.

A-Team references aside, this is actually a true story. A Chromebook is a light-weight laptop with Google’s Chrome operating system (Chrome OS) running it. What is Chrome? Simply an internet browser like what you may be using to read this (if you’re smart…). Other examples of popular browsers in the market are Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer.

So the question I had a few years ago is – how is one supposed to do all one normally does on a Mac or Windows operating system only on a web browser?

Given my interest in web technology, I wanted to give it a chance, so I embarked on what I called the Chromebook Challenge. A week of using nothing but my Chrome browser on my MacBook Pro at the time, and blogging my results.

More and more of us now own smart phones and tablets. What do we do offline? Perhaps playing games, reading, note-taking, and checking calendar? Although games are increasingly social, books are downloaded from the internet, calendars and notes are synchronised on the cloud. These all need internet connections. When you don’t have an internet connection. You know about it. You complain about it. Then you complain that you can’t post or blog about the complaint.

On our PCs or Macs there are offline applications (apps we use without the internet) we might use frequently. For example writing documents, spreadsheets, editing photos, editing videos, email and much more.

But, now just bear with me here, if we really look at how much time we spend offline vs online, some of us might realise the shift to online activities for virtually everything we do. Socialising, shopping, banking, movie watching… my goodness. We’re all doomed in 20 years to being couch potatoes!

Chrome OS and indeed the Chrome browser have apps and an app store too. These apps are essentially well designed websites which look and feel like apps you might download on your phone or tablet. They utilise key HTML technologies to allow a lot of offline activities.

Sigh, I’ll just get this shameless plug outta the way, shall I? There is a Chrome app for my Cyman Digital Butler app. You can have conversations with your computer and get it to open certain pages or remind you about certain things. Cyman Mark 3 is in the Chrome store rated at 4.5.

That’s right folks, believe it or not, you can edit word documents and spreadsheets and save on Google Drive without being online. Once online, it will synchronise it in the cloud for you. This goes for other key web applications. You can view your mail offline with GMail, and you can even view your Google Calendar offline.

Sounds very much like how our mobile devices work now, am I right?

The Chromebook is a lightweight laptop computer which barely needs the kind of resources that your standard Mac or PC running windows needs to completely drain. Therefore the Chromebook is much faster, safer and crashes a lot less.

I’m going to be showing the results of my experiment on here in 6 or 7 parts. I tried to cover as many areas as possible – from the point of view of an office worker who needs Word and Excel, a musician who needs to write or create music, a programmer like myself, and someone creative who needs something on PhotoShop levels.

What did I get out of writing this? A free Chromebook from Google.

Yeah, I’m feeling pretty smug right about now.

So if you’re thinking about getting a Chromebook, follow on and look out for the “Why you need a Chromebook” series.

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