Sunday

Windows 10 - To Activate, Or Not To Activate?

I have a couple of computers at home that run Windows 10 in an unactivated state - I never purchased a license for them. They are not illegal installations, they are just not activated. Microsoft has allowed this with Windows 10 so far, and other than a few "personalization" options, the operating system is fully functional, you can install software and can receive updates and so on.


I find myself wondering when Microsoft will clamp down on this, and effectively "break" non-activated versions of Windows 10. I am guessing they have not done it yet since Windows 10 has become a platform like Android and Mac OS - a way to tie you into those ecosystems, and monetize that relationship in other ways.

My main laptop is still running Linux, and has been pretty much non-stop for the last 5 years or so. The "back up" laptop I am using to write this came with no OS, and currently is one of the machines with a non-activated Windows 10. It *could* run Linux too, but I thought it made sense to have a spare Windows machine handy just in case.

In case of what, I don't know - just "in case"; I try not to keep all my eggs in a single basket.

Honestly, if a Windows 10 license was $25-$50, I would probably buy it - but at $100-$120 a pop, that's a bit much for an OS that has largely become an advertising platform. Those cheap OEM licenses strike me as a bit suspect, and I'd rather stick with a legal, but unactivated version than a possibly illegal version with a bargain license key.

Saturday

No More Twitter For Me

This is not really a polemic about how I think Twitter is crushing free speech, or anything like that. Rather it's part of my withdrawal from social media in general. I use Facebook daily, but not all the time - I usually check in most evenings after dinner and that's about it. LinkedIn I check (maybe) once a month, since I am no longer searching for another job.


I also check some Reddit subs each day - mostly cryptocurrency-related - but don't sign in or comment (I do have a Reddit account, but can't recall the last time I actually signed in). I look at Google Plus maybe once a week, and as far as Twitter, I honestly really never got into it in any meaningful way - other than to post some of my blog articles. 

Sometimes I will use Twitter for breaking news, but again, I seldom actually login to it. So, I closed my Twitter account last week. Yes, there was too much political screeching too, but the main reason was that I just don't really use it much.

I think the only platform I use a LOT is YouTube, oddly enough. YouTube is basically my TV these days. Even then, I don't "engage" much; I usually don't login, nor do I typically subscribe or comment. But there is still a wealth of content available and I can educate and amuse myself as much as I need to.

As far as giving things up, I could easily see LinkedIn as being the next domino to fall. I don't really use it, and I don't really need it just now.

Wow, am I boring!

Sunday

Alex Jones - Loon Or Threat?

Apparently, Apple, Facebook, YouTube etc. got together and decided Alex Jones was a threat to . . . what?

In any case, he was engaged in "wrongthink" has been "de-personed" and erased.

Problem solved.

Or Pandora's Box opened.


Saturday

Gas Engines With Fully Digital Valves

Now that we are apparently heading toward an electric vehicle future, here's interesting news about a breakthough in the internal combustion engine. Specifically, the complete digital control of the valves - no rods or actuators, just computer control of each individual valve using a precision electric motor.

Why? Although the internal combustion engine may be "marked for death" it will be around for a while yet, and hybrid electrics need efficient gas engines to pair with the electric system.

This digital valve setup can perform all kinds of tricks that increase efficiency and decrease emissions, so it sounds like something that may really be embraced in the coming years. The article below goes into quite a bit of depth, and is pretty eye-opening as to the possibilities of this technology.



Pondering Our Home PC Swap

So, I am on the cusp of embarking on a dangerous and hazard-filled undertaking; replacing our home PC. When I say "home PC" I mean the desktop my wife uses on a daily basis.

Currently, it's a classic, custom-built machine (i.e. I cobbled it together years ago), and while it still serves my wife's relatively light use, I have the ability to provide a "free" upgrade. My wife basically surfs, and plays those little Flash games from Big Fish, etc. So, nothing demanding a lot of storage, CPU or GPU power.

The specs are an old Intel DUO quad core processor, 4GB of RAM and a 240GB SSD drive (a relatively recent upgrade, which really boosted performance). The system also runs Windows 7, and this is one of the points of contention.

Image courtesy Extreme Tech

Sunday

The Electric Car Range Issue

I have noticed quite a few YouTube and other articles of late about whether we really need all the range we seem to want from electric cars. Since internal combustion powered cars typically have a range of 350 or 400 miles (560 or 640km), something like that, many of us seem to expect a similar range to be available on electric vehicles.

The articles I referred to above seem to be prepping us to accept shorter range electric vehicles, and the current (2016) average range of an all electric car (EV) is around 180 miles (290 km), although this is being slowly improved each year. 


Bakkt - To The Future?

Cool, so you can now spend your Bitcoin at Starbucks? Not quite, but the creation by the Intercontinental Exchange of a new company, Bakkt, is a start in that direction. This one got attention since some of the players involved are Microsoft (yes, that Microsoft) and Starbucks themselves, among others.
The new company is working with a marquee group of organizations ... to create an integrated platform that enables consumers and institutions to buy, sell, store and spend digital assets on a seamless global network.
Interestingly, although perhaps inevitably, this gets away from the concept that created Bitcoin in the first place, as seen below in an excerpt from the original paper by its creator (emphasis mine):
A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution. Digital signatures provide part of the solution, but the main benefits are lost if a trusted third party is still required to prevent double-spending.
Be careful what you wish for, I guess.

BusinessWire