Last Saturday I went to Sam’s Club to get new tires for the front of our new used Spark EV. The Spark is a torquey critter, you know, and the front tires can be scraped clean of tread fairly easily. The back tires looked like new while the fronts were worn out at about 12,000 miles. We will try to keep from smoking them as much as the previous owner.
While the tires were being mounted, I checked out a deeply discounted HP Envy 13.3 inch laptop on the computer display table, the display model only. I had been looking for a good Linux laptop, and had fairly well decided to get a Dell XPS 13 if a meaningful sale ever occurred at Dellsville, but this Envy looked really good. It had a high resolution touch screen, 8G RAM, 256G SSD, a 2.7GHz Intel i7-7500U processor, and an aluminum case. All the major components seemed to be on the approved list for Linux. A little waiting room browsing on the phone said this machine might be a very cut-rate XPS 13. Half the cost. Bought it.
On Sunday, I connected up a DVD drive and installed Linux Mint 18.1, blowing away the Windows 10 installation. Risky, but there were no hitches whatsoever. Absolutely everything I use worked as it should. (1) The high resolution touch screen required tweaking settings in the system preferences and in some apps, but the knobs were there to do that. The Linux Mint Envy is the now fastest and most delightful computer I own.
- I do not use suspend and hibernate, so I have not tried those functions.
I’m guessing that this week Mr. Trump will sign (1) the resolution repealing a proposed FCC rule barring ISPs from collecting and selling information related to their customers’ browsing habits. This means that just about every service provider on the other side of the terminal block upon which your internet connection appears can proceed with projects to spy on your activities (just like the NSA) and sell the information they gather to the highest bidder.
So, what’s a body to do in this new government of, by, and for the corporations? Lots of safe browsing advice is to be found on the web, but one piece of that advice now becomes a requirement for those who want to maintain even a modicum of control over what their ISP can see and sell. The prudent internet user simply must be using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt not only the content of traffic, but the identity of the service or destination to which one is connected.
I have been using a VPN whenever I take my laptop or tablet out of my home. I’ll be using it all the time now. When I selected my VPN, I looked for one operated by a European provider (government of the people, good privacy law) and which provided its own Domain Name Services (DNS). It does no good to employ a VPN that uses DNS servers that are owned by the ISP or some other privacy invading web service entity. That might take some research. There are many good options. (2)
Sadly, good VPN options all cost money, about $60 per year, a new tax on privacy in America made great again.
- Updated April 4, he did, on April 3.
I read this morning that NASA has a plan to get to Mars in 20 years. (1) If it takes 20 years, they will probably land at Elon’s third DragonPort and freshen up a bit at the local SpaceX hotel. (2) But that’s not the point. Once on Mars and cleaned up after the long trip, when those intrepid NASA explorers take a Model Y out for a run in the circumplanetary desert they will have no water, no trees, no animals, no oxygen, and a thin CO2 atmosphere in which to suffocate should their breathable air bottles spring leaks.
Which is to say, why bother? Our new EPA chief may be able to recreate this environment on Earth in less than 20 years and save a lot of money.
Several of the web sources I like to use to stay up on current affairs in politics and technology have recently started blocking access to those who use ad blockers. I’ve been able to stay connected to my domains of interest by finding alternate sources (not alternate facts), or by twiddling a few browser knobs.
It seems to me that, to name two, all The New York Times and The Inquirer have done is to chase folks away from their own shops. They have reduced their own potential reader bases while doing nothing to fix their core problem. I’d love to see some numbers that say differently.
Here’s the thing, like many ad blocker users, I don’t use an ad blocker to block ads. That’s right. I use an ad blocker to block connections to web sites that I do not trust, and to block scripts that have nothing to do with a media company’s delivery of news and everything to do with increasingly shady ways of taking personal information from me.
For example, if The New York Times and The Inquirer would serve their own ads from their own domains, if those ads did not pop up and dance in front of the content I am trying to read, if they did not run sleazy little programs to sift through my browser’s internal electronic garbage can, I would look at them without complaint, with boredom perhaps, but not complaint. You know, like I do with the old fashioned paper newspaper I get every day.
It’s time to look behind you, guys and gals, because your view of the future looks pretty grim.