Software

Focus, Focus, Focus

We begin a new year, with a new focus, or shall we say a re-focus on working smarter, more efficiently, more productive, more economically, and hopefully with less stress. If you’re still using Windows 7, then make note that the support clock may be winding down. If you’re using Windows 10, then you may be looking forward to the possible Spring update, or not.
I’ll most likely continue working with Windows when absolutely necessary, but Linux based objectives should remain my main focus.
As noted in early posts, I remain a big fan of Lenovo laptops (mostly older models) – which really shine once you dump the Installed OS and install an up to date version of Linux.
It’s possible that some people are not overly excited about using older, less powerful hardware, but once you find the Linux Distro that suits your requirements you may be pleasantly surprised how well things function.
I’ve gone to using Debian based MX on my older laptops, and started using the Ubuntu flagship on my latest and “slightly” more powerful ThinkPad.
For content creation I’ve retired my old MacBook (the new ones are a bit expensive) and reluctantly decided to walk away from Logic Pro and see if I can squeeze any more out of LMM and Audacity. I haven’t decided if I should just install Ubuntu Studio or stick with the main Ubuntu LTS

On another interesting note, it looks like my favorite packet decode tool for troubleshooting networking issues is getting a refresh – Wireshark 3.0 will be available in the next few weeks. I’ve looked at the Windows development release 2.9 in the last few days, and look forward to the Debian and Ubuntu supported releases. If I was a true minimalist I would see if I can get more out of tcpdump and not rely on Wireshark as much. That will take some discipline. I have worked with Tshark at times when I probably could have used tcpdump. It might be worthwhile to go old school more often.
I believe the latest version is
4.9.2 released in 2017. I’ll have to explore this a little more.

It looks like 2019 could be a great year for Linux, at least from my perspective, and support of Linux apps also promises to be a interesting Chrome OS development heading our way. It’s already available for some Chromebooks, sadly not mine – yet.

I’m not quite as excited about the latest predicted Windows 10 browser changes, or underlying Linux support. I’m sure some users will be, but part of my New Year’s resolution is to simplify my work flow. I don’t need to get too distracted with MS developments at this time unless something truly amazing appears in the horizon.

I would like to eventually pair down to using only one OS, one laptop, and improve my personal and productive time management in the process.
Even with all the security concerns in the news recently (last year was not so good) I still think Windows does a good job of addressing security. That isn’t enough of a reason to restrict my options to Windows only. Linux may have had the edge years ago, but whatever OS you use requires some effort on the user’s part. Sometimes this boils down to what system you are more familiar with, and how much control of the system you have.

There are a few things I would like to see from any new Windows release, such as the option of a true minimalist installation without all the programs I would never use anyways. I’m also not a fan of the “store”, but a repository similar to Linux installs would be a considerable improvement. I’d also be very interested in a simpler, more streamlined HotFix/patching update process. This would also apply to the big system-updates that seemed to get pushed as opposed to downloaded when I want them downloaded – unlike most Linux Distro upgrades.
On a more positive note;
I do appreciate the development of Powershell. Microsoft’s new shell continues to get better with age. I’d also like to see some developments with the mysterious Microsoft Message Analyzer application. I thought that it had a lot of potential and was very useful, but I haven’t seen much noted on it’s future development lately. I thought it was a nice complement (not competitor) to Wireshark. (anyone need a second opinion?)
In all it looks like some operating systems and applications may be improving in the next year. It looks like Windows and Linux users should have a lot of enhancements coming.

On a side note, I’m sure many will continue to use their smartphones more than any other tech device in the coming year.
Smartphones still appear to be the most portable, and the easiest devices to use.
I think we might continue to see laptop use decline this year. I would also not be surprised if someone actually builds a tablet that really gives the iPad Pro some real competition. This could cut even more into laptop use if the price is attractive enough to compete with entry level laptops.
If Apple ever releases a full fledged version of Logic Pro on the iPad Pro (no Mac required) – I’d probably venture down that road and possibly – if not temporarily forget all about my laptop OS. That would really make 2019 a fun year for tech – at least for me. Talk about simplifying your work flow.
I guess there’s always GarageBand. Hmmm? Interesting concept, but it might wind up being another distraction. (If it we’re to become available)
Focus, focus, focus, that’s what I need to do.
Alright, so now where was I?
Oh, yes, I’m going continue to concentrate my energy on working with Linux for the majority of my efforts and opportunities for efficiency as well as productivity.
As you can see, with so many options, it’s probably is best to limit my time to a few stable Linux Distros and concentrate on improving my skill set. Any other diversions could ultimately cut into my forward progress. There is always more to learn. There never seems to be enough time to focus on one operating system let alone trying to learn everything about every system. Just like last year we’ll just have to go one step at a time.

On to 2019

Christmas has come and gone, and now we approach the end of 2018. This is the cold and dark part of the year. If you like very cold rain, ice and snow, you’re probably enjoying this. If you’re a robot, you may not.
Typing on a frosty keyboard with gloves or mittens is a bit of a hassle, but there are times when you make do regardless of the environment. Working on a smart phone is less frustrating, especially if you have nifty gloves that sport special screen friendly finger pads or you use a “pen” and don’t drop it in the snow. 
Smart watches, and voice assist are all useful, but there are a few of us who still do the majority of their “computer work “ on a laptop. Not bringing an entire tower, monitor, keyboard, and mouse is mobility enough for some. If you work inside, that’s cool, but it’s nice to get out once in a while. 
I don’t consider working from your laptop in a coffee shop “field work” but I can see where that is much more enjoyable than being stuck in a cubicle. Do people still sit in cubicles? There are of course, worse places….so I am told.

Advances in mobility technology have made it easier to work at almost any site, and remote applications have allowed some to work from distant locations. 
Which is better, on site, or offsite (from a cubicle)? I have to lean towards on site, but that’s not always practical. 
Out on an ice field of blowing snow at negative 30 degrees Fahrenheit isn’t always more preferable than a nice cozy office cubicle or desk, but sometimes being there in the cold gives you a whole different perspective and appreciation for the equipment and operating mechanisms on site than a long distance remote view ever could. 
That’s all changing for some types of work. Drones, and artificial support will impact how some resources are deployed on site, and offered remotely.
With the new year ahead, I expect to see more practical use of artificial intelligence for application and diagnostic support, and drone usage for inspection related i.e monitoring or surveillance operations. 
I don’t think AI needs a cubicle to work, possibly some rack space and lot of power. Drones won’t require ladders, lifts, or climbing harnesses.

As widespread adaptation of IoT, G-5 telecom, and cloud computing services evolve in 2019, watch how your once “state of the art” non-mobile work force drifts towards a persuasive argument for “less office space based work”. Consider how many tasks AI and faster Internet access has played a major impact on work life already.
Flexibility to work in both office based and remote site locations might prove to be a productive skill in the near future. If you’ve already cleared this hurdle, you’re probably in good shape.
Technology continues to march onward. If you can work
“Anywhere” especially where technology hasn’t already automated and crowded humans out completely , than you may have a very desirable skill set that you might not normally consider a positive.
I guess it isn’t that cold and dark after all.

It will be interesting to see how some in-house IT support is affected in the coming year. Help desk support, desktop support, and unique product support, usually hold the keys for administrative tasks. Many professing their bland “tricks”, some reading from their “problem solving flow charts” This is wonderful if you view your workforce as low tech skilled workers. Not all desktop support is like this. There are some very skilled techs who work in desktop support that are truly helpful and productive. Unfortunately it only takes one bad experience to sour one’s opinion.

On the other hand a lot of OS X and Linux users often seem slightly irritated by any form of desktop support from the world of Windows. Hand a thin client to a skilled coder and see what kind of look you get. I understand the security implications, but where’s the soft spot actually located?

I prefer the approach of giving the tools to those who actually do the work that keep the machine running. Sometimes you need to have faith in the person with the screw driver in their hand. That brings me to my point of useful skills for the future. Learn Linux, work more from the shell/terminals, and learn how to use a screw driver (tools). Of course these are all just considerations that may not be widely accepted.

Reading is good, gaining experience through “doing”, and figuring out what works, and what doesn’t may improve your confidence level. Confidence is good to have, but it should be based on some productive abilities.

Practice on non-production systems, offline, and with proper permissions. Never “test” on any system that could have negative impact due to some preventable mistake.

Many companies invest a lot of resources into training low skilled workers to do “higher skilled” focused jobs, but that doesn’t mean these workers can’t learn on their own. I think you should always try to improve “your skills” which may not necessarily be the skills you are required to have or limited to in your present situation. The world is full of surprises. Prepare for your future.

With AI, G-5, Robots, companies contemplating “right sizing”, and cloud computing all picking up momentum in the coming year – what should you do? Here’s my simple advice; don’t let stress sidetrack you. Get enough sleep, remember what your priorities are and be yourself. Sounds like bad advice, but it may not be. You’ll figure it out. Have a cup of coffee and watch the snow drifts change the lay of the land.

PowerShell on LINUX?





I know it’s not Christmas yet, but I did get a nice early gift.
My main laptop has been very reliable over the last few years.
My old Lenovo ThinkPad (11e) has been great, but lately I’ve been thinking I’d like to upgrade. I’ve been looking for something to replace the 11e, and finally (after much consideration and spec comparison) settled on a newer 11e with twice the memory and a i3. It looks and feels as rugged as the old machine, but it’s a little faster. The unit came with Windows 10 pro which I replaced with Ubuntu 18.10.
I did play with it for a while with Windows, but after waiting for updates I decided I should stop fooling around and set it up the way I want.

I did test a few other Linux LTS Distros, but Ubuntu 18.10 works great on the new 11e – actually better than it did on the old ThinkPad. I think that was more related to the old Bios and driver/hardware limitations.
The one thing that I do like about Windows 10 has been PowerShell. Now that PowerShell is available for Ubuntu I might not need a Windows machine. I was never too excited about running Ubuntu under Windows, as a virtual box, or duel-boot.
I’ll probably load Win10 on the old 11e just to have on hand for special projects, but I’d like to keep the new laptop as a Linux only machine.

I know ToughBooks have been the benchmark for rugged laptops for fieldwork, but I’ve had great luck with the 11e (Education series) I paired solid hardware (ThinkPad) with a great Operating System (Ubuntu/Linux).
PowerShell is working – although not exactly the same as it would on Windows, but it does seem very promising.

PS /home/eph> Test-Connection LocalHost > Test_Connection.txt
Reply from 127.0.0.1: bytes=0 time=0ms TTL= Reply from 127.0.0.1: bytes=0 time=0ms TTL= Reply from 127.0.0.1: bytes=0 time=0ms TTL= Reply from 127.0.0.1: bytes=0 time=0ms TTL= Ping complete. 

Source Destination Replies


X LocalHost {System.Net.NetworkInformation.PingReply, System.Net.NetworkInformation.PingReply, System.Net.NetworkInformation.PingRep…

PS /home/eph> cat Test_Connection.txt

Source Destination Replies


X LocalHost {System.Net.NetworkInformation.PingReply, System.Net.NetworkInformation.PingReply, System.Net.NetworkInformation.PingRep…

PS /home/eph> ping localhost -c 6 > Ping_test.txt
PS /home/eph> Get-Content Ping_test.txt
PING localhost (127.0.0.1) 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=0.017 ms
64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=0.072 ms
64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=0.072 ms
64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=4 ttl=64 time=0.072 ms
64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=5 ttl=64 time=0.071 ms
64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=6 ttl=64 time=0.074 ms

— localhost ping statistics —
6 packets transmitted, 6 received, 0% packet loss, time 127ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 0.017/0.063/0.074/0.020 ms
PS /home/eph> cat Ping_test.txt
PING localhost (127.0.0.1) 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=0.017 ms
64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=0.072 ms
64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=0.072 ms
64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=4 ttl=64 time=0.072 ms
64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=5 ttl=64 time=0.071 ms
64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=6 ttl=64 time=0.074 ms

— localhost ping statistics —
6 packets transmitted, 6 received, 0% packet loss, time 127ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 0.017/0.063/0.074/0.020 ms

One nice attribute you have avaiable when using Powershell in Linux is the availability of standard Linux commands in the same terminal.

If PowerShell is the only thing keeping you tied to Windows, you might want to take a look at the Linux version.

Chocolatey Goodness

One of the reasons I prefer Linux over Windows is the ease of package management.
Apt, Yum, and Pacman depending on your distribution (Debian:Ubuntu, RedHat/Fedora or Arch) just seem much more logical than the Microsoft App Store or even Apple’s software store.

I don’t use the GUI interfaces available on any system if I can carry out the same goal from a terminal. I realize all these systems have a “terminal/Command line” available, but a lot of users have grown accustomed to a graphical point and click method. I haven’t, nor do I enjoy navigating around the screens pointing and clicking – it seems like a waste of time.

This is the section that was cutoff


PowerShell on the Windows System is an exception. I’ve gotten used to using the Windows command prompt and netshell when possible, but always felt that neither lived up to the power of BASH. PowerShell has grown and developed into a useful tool that many Linux users would find worthwhile for system administration and troubleshooting functionality.
When you add in the Chocolatey package management tool/repository you start to see potential for a more Linux-like work flow.

I see that there is also a GUI available for Chocolatey for any who prefer, but installing packages via PowerShell is fairly simple – as is searching and listing available packages.

I doubt i’ll abandon my Linux machine just to run PowerShell, but I think it’s beneficial to know how different Operating systems function and carry out similar tasks you might deal with in Linux.

“list, search, info, and install” are the commands I use the most when using Chocolatey.  The “info” command is extremely useful in providing information on the application you may consider installing.

choco -h 

  • list – lists remote or local packages
  • search – searches remote or local packages (alias for list)
  • info – retrieves package information. Shorthand for choco search pkgname –exact –verbose
  • install – installs packages from various sources
  • pin – suppress upgrades for a package
  • outdated – retrieves packages that are outdated. Similar to upgrade all –noop
  • upgrade – upgrades packages from various sources
  • uninstall – uninstalls a package
  • pack – packages up a nuspec to a compiled nupkg
  • push – pushes a compiled nupkg
  • new – generates files necessary for a chocolatey package from a template
  • sources – view and configure default sources (alias for source)
  • source – view and configure default sources
  • config – Retrieve and configure config file settings
  • features – view and configure choco features (alias for feature)
  • feature – view and configure choco features
  • setapikey – retrieves or saves an apikey for a particular source (alias for apikey)
  • apikey – retrieves or saves an apikey for a particular source
  • unpackself – have chocolatey set itself up
  • version – [DEPRECATED] will be removed in v1 – use choco outdated or cup <pkg|all> -whatif instead
  • update – [DEPRECATED] RESERVED for future use (you are looking for upgrade, these are not the droids you are looking for)
Installing Putty with Choco first removed an incomplete install attempt before adding -y

Check out chocolatey.org for more information including more details on security and the community package repository

Installing TCPview – a package from “Windows Sysinternals”

 

For those who would rather not use the Powershell command line, there is a GUI:

choco install chocolateygui –f -y

Oh, the calamity

Oh, the calamity of it all!
IBM taking over Red Hat, Apple increasing product costs, and Windows 10 version 18.09 “October pause” stressing you out as we approach the Holiday? Does the thought of installing Debian just in case Ubuntu announces some even more “fantastic” shift given you a slight feeling of nausea?Never fear, everything will be alright. Wait long enough and the sea will settle down eventually. The one announcement I had hoped to hear (an updated iPad mini 5) hasn’t materialized, or maybe I missed it in the fine print.So if all seems a little chaotic lately it’s probably amplified somewhat by the approach of the Holidays followed by the end of the year just around the corner.
It may seem like it’s been a strange year for Windows 10 updates, and a tad boring year for Linux desktops , but sometimes boring is appreciated. Too much excitement might persuade me to invest in a new computer even though I seem to remember something about Intel and AMD cpu specs. I’m sure it was something important, maybe having something to do with their architecture? Whatever it was, I’m sure it will come back to me.
We still see somewhat expensive laptops on the market with older hard drive technology (no SSD) and lower than stellar cpu speeds. I would have expected older builds like those at much lower prices, but apparently somebody is willing to purchase these machines.
I think I’ve squeezed as much use out of my old laptop as I possibly can. Do I pick up a mediocre consumer grade pc to get me through a few more years, keep waiting for the perfect price/power ratio deal, or bite the bullet and invest in a top of the line laptop currently available this shopping season?
If I only used OSX it would be an easy decision. The new MacBook Pro would be a logical upgrade from my 5+ yr old MacBook Pro. I don’t use it that much because the bulk of my time is spent working with Linux and Windows, so something like the Carbon X1 would be a more logical choice.
My experiment using a Chromebook actually has me rethinking which Laptop I take on the road. I found that a basic IdeaPad running Mint with the Chrome browser gives me the ability to still run Linux tools and have a similar experience as the Chromebook provides. This is not a bad trade off most of the time, but once in a while it would be nice to have a little more horsepower.
The Chromebook does startup much faster, and does seam more focused for writing – if that is what you’re mostly interested in. It would be great if it could run some of my favorite Linux tools, but I’m not seeing that yet. The Linux beta abilities that might be available for some Chromebooks in the future could open up some possibilities that might make my upgrade decision even more difficult.
I must admit that the Samsung Chromebook has a better keyboard feel than the minimalist Lenovo Ideapad, so I do think I could lean more towards the Chromebook if I find the need for Linux tools decreases in the future. On the other hand the I’ve had good luck with the Ideapad, and the keyboard isn’t too much of a distraction yet. If you’re doing a lot of writing neither one might be your preferred tool of choice.