Airbnb "Rolling Room" In NYC For $39 Per Night

I am not a partaker of most of the newer web services like Uber, Lyft or Airbnb. To me, they sort of seem like things people use on TV, but not in real life. I don't even know if they are available where I live (probably, but I have not searched them out). So treat this as my jaundiced view of of what may well be a good idea, but one I am just too stodgy to accept. 

Staying for a night or two in New York city is rather expensive, certainly if you need to stay anywhere near the heart of the city. An Airbnb provider came up with the idea of offering converted New York yellow cabs as your place to stay - for $39 per night ($50 including cleaning fee).

Personally, I would not pay anything to sleep as if I were "living in a van down by the river", in a vehicle that looks like it already has a bullet hole in the hood. I'd rather hit the Y or something (or just put my trip off and save up till I could afford a semi-decent hotel room).

But you take a look and see what you think. You get a nice view of the city skyline (if you ignore your immediate surroundings), and it IS cheap.


Plex Comes Home For Me

Thanks to my son-in-law, I am now enjoying the benefits of using Plex on our Roku. He casually made the suggestion, when I was grumbling about not being able to play back some local content on the Roku.

It was a real "Duh!" moment for me. I have an HTPC in the basement, hooked up to a TV and running KODI. However, sometimes I just want to watch stuff upstairs. On those occasions I would either play contents from a USB stick, or from the HTPC via DLNA on Windows 10.

However, some content would not play properly on the native Roku player, depending on the video format or the way the audio was encoded. "Oh," said Jacob, "why don't you just use Plex?". 

As I said, duh!

It took all of 10 minutes to download and install Plex server on the Windows 10 HTPC box, and add the free Plex app to the Roku. Unlike the Android app, the Plex app for Roku gives quite good functionality with the free version (the free Android app is severely limited). 

Now I can easily stream local content to the Roku, which is all I was trying to do in the first place.

Linux For The Novice With Older Hardware

There are  a lot of these types of articles, and of course they all reflect personal opinion to a greater or lesser degree. This one focuses on older hardware, a six-year-old laptop in this case, so I can relate to it, I myself have a four-year old laptop that is still going strong thanks to an SSD upgrade last year.

I am currently running Ubuntu Mate and a couple of other recent favorite Linux versions are Linux Mint MATE and Elementary OS.

The writer tries out three prospective Linux distributions [Linux Mint MATE, Manjaro Xfce and  PCLinux OS MATE] on their older netbook, with pretty good results for all.
The important points are:
  • CPU: Intel Atom N450 Dual Core
  • RAM: 1GB (I have increased mine to 2GB)
  • Display: 10.1" 1024x600
  • Graphics: Intel GMA 3150
  • HDD: 250GB (no, not SSD, this is an old, small, spinning disk drive)
  • WiFi: Broadcom BCM4313 802.11bgn
That's not a lot of power to be working with, so it is really important to stick with lightweight Linux distributions. This is one of the systems where you can really see the difference between running Gnome 3, KDE Plasma or Cinnamon and running Xfce, LXDE or MATE.



What Do Mark Zuckerberg And I Have In Common?

Not money, unfortunately. Ironically, young Mr. Zuckerberg is also paranoid enough to cover up his laptop webcam with tape...
On Tuesday, the Behoodied One shared an at-work picture to celebrate hitting 500 million active monthly users on Instagram. But a closer look by California startup employee Chris Olson shows that his laptop has the webcam blocked and there appears to be tape over the audio jacks of his MacBook.
The Register


Microsoft May Offer Some Help To Remove Crapware

The layers of "value add" software that PC manufacturers seem to love to slather onto new PCs (aka "crapware"), may face added peril in the form of a new Windows 10 refresh tool being made available for testing by Windows insiders.
...the new tool fetches a copy of Windows online and performs a clean installation. The only option is whether or not you want to preserve your personal data. Any other software that's installed will be blown away, including the various applications and utilities that OEMs continue to bundle with their systems.


Our Modern Magic

Science fiction author ad futurist Arthur C. Clarke pointed out (as his "3rd law") that:
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
True enough, when you think of it.

Further thought may reveal some of the magic we have today that is habitually overlooked - we can speak to (if not yet actually converse with) our phones, which we now carry around with us in our pockets and purses.

These phones, being in fact compact computers, can show us moving images and play sounds or music, and allow us to communicate in several different ways with others all over the Earth.

Our cars are starting to become "smart" enough to help us avoid accidents, and to even begin to drive themselves.

Think what someone from the 1900's or even the 1950's would make of this if they were plucked out of their own time and were able to spend a few hours in 2016.


Mark Zuckerberg Assures Us He Is Not A Lizard

The official denial came during a Q&A online, and the Internet being what it is, the question came up and Mr. Z answered it. Well, that's a relief. Of course, he could also be hiding in plain site, I suppose. He can look a bit shifty at times...

The questioner was most likely referring to the theory promulgated by British goalkeeper-turned commentator-turned raving loon David Icke that the planet is in the thrall of shapeshifting lizard people – the Anunnaki from the fourth dimension (don't ask).
Icke proposes that these super-intelligent creatures used human blood to shapeshift into our form to interbreed with mankind and use the hybrid species – known as the Brotherhood – to control us.
The Register


Now, Malware For Your Smart TV!

Maybe they should be called "not-so-smart TVs"...

Researchers are actively tracking a ransomware family whose variants can infect all Android devices, including smart TVs.

Security analysts at Trend Micro explain they've come across 7,000 variants of the ransomware, dubbed "FLocker," since it first appeared in May 2015.

Dumb-but-safe TV


It's A Programmer's Life...

Imagine a job for which you are paid a very nice salary, and you are able to just sit around and play video games, or do pretty much whatever you want all the live-long day. Most programmers will not recognize this as what they do, but for one individual he had the system figured out pretty good. As far as he was concerned, it was the ideal job - at least for six years, until the golden goose stopped laying and he lost this prized position.
From around six years ago up until now, I have done nothing at work. I am not joking. For 40 hours each week I go to work, play League of Legends in my office, browse reddit, and do whatever I feel like. In the past 6 years I have maybe done 50 hours of real work. So basically nothing. And nobody really cared.



Medical Records Up For Grabs In War On Drugs

The America I thought I lived in for the last 30 years or so is finally gone, no doubt about it. I am pretty broken up about it, and I don't really see a way back.

The guarantees of the Constitution are being relieved of their effectiveness, and slowly but surely we are already in a pretty good imitation of the kind of nightmare written about by Orwell.

Oh, you are just imagining things, I hear you say. I don't think I am, and I am not even wearing my tinfoil hat today. The latest burr under my saddle is found in the following rather dreadful account of a government dragnet being just too cute for it's own good.
Marlon Jones was arrested for taking legal painkillers, prescribed to him by a doctor, after a double knee replacement.
Jones, an assistant fire chief of Utah’s Unified Fire Authority, was snared in a dragnet pulled through the state’s program to monitor prescription drugs after someone stole morphine from an ambulance in 2012. To find the missing morphine, cops used their unrestricted access to the state’s Prescription Drug Monitor Program database to look at the private medical records of nearly 500 emergency services personnel—without a warrant. [emphasis added]
What about all the Fourth Amendment stuff? No problem, apparently. Now the DEA wants the same kind of access.

The Daily Beast



A Cure For MS - But Wait

This is not meant as a cruel tease for people suffering - and I do mean "suffering" - from MS, or multiple sclerosis. This is meant to show two things:

One - the sometimes cruel way headlines can be misleading

Two - the way medical science is making progress on some major diseases

This came about from a headline on

"This isn’t hype: Canadian doctors just reversed severe MS using stem cells".

I am not even singling out, a lot of medical reports are presented to the public like this from news outlets.


LastPass Extension For Microsoft Edge

LastPass, the password manager, is coming soon to the Microsoft Edge browser. It's already available to Windows 10 Insiders, in Preview Build 14361.
Joe Siegrist, vice-president and general of LastPass said today that the company's "early development of the Microsoft Edge app extension underscores our commitment to remain ahead of the curve in providing anytime, anywhere access for LastPass users."

Schrödinger's Cat Scenario: Now With Extra Weirdness

"Schrödinger's Cat" is the thought experiment designed to ponder one of the quirks of quantum physics - superposition -  and always invoked a sort of "huh?" reaction from me. I only took High School Physics back in the 1970's, so that's my excuse...

The new version has two imaginary cats doing even weirder things in an effort to better explain...something. I confess it's above my pay grade, but some of you may get something out of it.

"Don't ask, I iz napping"

Preinstalled PC Software Is Crappy, Insecure

Preinstalled "value add" software from the big 5 PC makers is putting PC security at risk because of crappy security provisions, reports Ars Technica. Probably not a huge surprise to the more cynical among us, but disturbing nonetheless.

That's the take-away from a report published Tuesday by researchers from two-factor authentication service Duo Security. It found third-party updating tools installed by default threatened customers of Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer, and Asus. The updaters frequently expose their programming interfaces, making them easy to reverse engineer.
Ars Technica