Nice and Quiet

Sometimes a quiet day or two is just fine. No bad storms, no asteroid collision, no interesting tech news, just dull mediocrity. Yes, there’s been some Linux Distro releases, and Apple product announcements, but nothing to lose any sleep over. There’s no real reason to upgrade to a new laptop, no real need to update my iPhone, there’s really nothing going on to get all worked up about, and that’s not so bad. I can hold onto my wallet for a while, because I can’t think of anything new recently announced that I really feel like I’m missing out on. That’s good for me, but probably no so great for the industry.

Too much excitement can sometimes cause real interesting news to get lost in a wave of noise. It’s all perception. If you’re actively looking and waiting for a particular hardware or software development, than maybe all other events are just distractions you can disregard. I’m not waiting for any particular sign that would cause me to change anything I’m using or working with. I’m always interested in any type of application or device improvement, but I also try to resist the impulse to chase after the latest fad or something I really don’t need. If you’re happy with what you have, than you’re probably in a good place.

Now is a good time to get things done without wasting too much energy chasing after the next great thing. I am looking forward to the next Ubuntu 19.10 release “Eoan Ermine” slated for October 17th 2019, and will start playing with the beta release – hopefully on September 26th.

The Latest MX 19 beta (2.1) is really solid, so I’m also looking forward to the Official release (traditionally released in December) It might be a toss up between the two distro releases for me. I expect both to be worth the wait. For now I will continue to use the latest beta, but as far as new hardware I’m actually keeping my eye on Chromebooks. I don’t see any reason to pick up a new iPad, PC Laptop, or Macbook, but the iPhone 11 Pro is interesting.

Interesting doesn’t necessarily translate into exciting. More and more it looks like laptops are easily replaced by smart phones, and even tablets seem to be less of a primary computer platform for many users and more of a compliment to a smartphone. I still use laptops, but I’m not so sure I will continue to use any for a daily driver. It’s the iPhone for me, and yes I do think about moving to the new Note 10.

I expect things to get more exciting in the next few weeks as everyone starts preparing for the Holidays. This temporary lull wont last long.

Days Grow Shorter

The great push to get all timely side projects done before the Holidays begins. “The September and October surge” tasks I know I should start before the snow and ice sweep across the land.
Summer is over and suddenly, as if by total surprise, approaching seasonal imposed deadlines become priority. “Didn’t I just come off the Spring – Summer surge?” It’s the yearly temperature influenced push that some might misinterpret as productivity preparedness. If you plan on working within some level of comfort from the cold you should start thinking about things you can do before the weather changes. Pace yourself and avoid the last minute frenzy. Most likely there will be a few late nights where the wind will be howling and the cold will have to be kept at bay in order to focus on work. Maybe now is a good time to find my hoodies.

Of course this is a bit melodramatic, but it does make sense to get as much done before the holidays begin and frosty mornings become the norm.
This time of year has some positives; there will be less daylight to distract me from my tasks at hand and limit the temptation to step into the winter sun – if there is any this year.
Yes, the dreary weather and gloomy skies will be perfect for staring at the computer screen for hours and hours, but first any outdoor work that can be done before the approaching ice age will have to be squeezed in. Managing time to accommodate both in and outdoor work is sometimes a challenge.

Once I think I have everything perfect for working late into the night, I can settle and focus on writing, learning new computer skills, or testing out new Linux developments. Ill have the radio playing quietly in the background. Sometimes Ill just sit and read through a few technical manuals for hours.

Hot coffee from a thermos I bring out to my workshop is usually close at hand. It may not seem too exciting, but I enjoy working late into the night. There’s always something new to learn, or sometimes old skills I rediscover.

At least I won’t have to worry about the heat and humidity that limited the amount of time I worked in my shop this summer.

I’ve been following Hurricane Dorian developments. There’s not much if any impact due where I am, but as the tracking changes it does make me wonder how well we actually predict the weather. It does underscore the need to prepare for rough weather even when skies are clear. I don’t see any particular weather event in the near future, but I’m positive the cold is coming as it does every year.

Nifty Linux Monitoring Tool “Netdata”

This week while supplementing my usual coffee intake with Dr Pepper’s Venom Black Mamba energy drink (not a sponsoring plug-I just like it) I’ve been test driving the new MX Linux 19-beta 1.

I installed it on a few low powered laptops, and wanted to get a good idea how it really was performing. So far, it’s been a very smooth experience, but the most interesting part of this endeavor has been using Netdata to monitor my machine in my browser. Usually I’ll use Htop, Glances, and Nmon along with built in Linux shell based tools to analyze and monitor my systems. I decided to give Netdata a spin, and I think I like it.

You’ll probably see this tool’s full potential more applicable to server builds, but I can also see this useful for a standalone machine.

The latest MX Beta I installed – It’s no secret I’m a MX fan.

Latest MX Beta-1 simplified the installation process using Apt

Netdata available options – I stuck with all the default options.

Advanced options

Follow netdata on Twitter @linuxnetdata or facebook for more detailed information and updates.

The web view is very cool. Everyone likes cool graphics. Netdata doesn’t disappoint.

You can view a lot of details and see what your system is doing from CPU usage, memory, processes, network health, system applications and much more.

Yes I still have a Windows 10 machine running the May 2019 release so naturally I have WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) installed to use Debian

Naturally I had to see if it would work on Windows 10 Linux WSL and it did!

This was from the Windows Browser – no need for a Debian GUI

The info page to view Netdata’s configuration on your system.

This was just a brief glance at what you can see with Netdata. You might want to check it out and see if it works for you. You also might want to keep an eye on the next version of MX Linux and future Windows 10 WSL developments. While you do that I think I’ll try a few more energy drinks this week.

Hold steady for now

Another week, another post, but not what I had planned. I’ve been spending more time working with the latest Windows 10 upgrade. Today I just shut it down and went back to MX. There’s nothing about the new version that I really need. It’s not a bad design, and I think it’s probably the best incarnation of Windows OS I’ve ever worked with, but I don’t really need it. It won’t be my daily driver, I tried, but I seemed to spend more time navigating around than I really needed. Having Ubuntu supported was useful, but I could see how things were starting to get a bit busy in that if I’m just working with the Linux shell – why do I need Windows?
It feels like carrying around a huge tool box full of tools when I probably won’t need any of them, or when all I really need is a Swiss Army knife.
Too much noise when I’m really trying to simplify how I work.
I would recommend the New May update to anyone who currently is still using Windows 7. It works. I like it a lot better than 7, but I also don’t recommend Linux to anyone who is already very productive with Windows.
I used to because this version of Windows 10 wasn’t available until this summer. Now it’s here and a lot of Windows OS users should be very happy. I’ll just keep one machine setup for Win 10, but go back to using Linux as a daily driver, and my Chromebook as an occasional lite travel alternative. What works for you may not work for me, and what works for me may not work for you.
I would suggest trying different operating systems out if you can and pick what works best for you. I’ll still use Windows when I need to, but I don’t always need to.
I’ve been following the news lately and “if” there is any economic slow down or recession, I think I’ll try to get more mileage out of my old laptops. I haven’t seen any reason to upgrade my current hardware, and really don’t foresee any compelling reason to on the horizon.
I still get a lot of use out of my budget buy Chromebook. I’m still hoping to get by for the most part with just the Chromebook, but I still find that I can do everything I need with MX Linux on an old Thinkpad. I also don’t feel the need to upgrade my phone just yet, but that too could change. I’d be more inclined to upgrade my phone than to buy a new laptop or even pick up a reasonably priced tablet. My phone is always with me, which at times can be annoying, but that has become my main computer. I just still happen to fall back to working with a laptop for some odd reason. Maybe it’s because I can see the screen a lot easier, and even though I can use a folding keyboard for the phone, the laptop remains what I’m more comfortable with. I try to get the most out of everything I purchase. Sometimes it can be a challenge, but such a challenge can also be fun. This next few months could be very interesting to see where the economy is heading. The market’s going up, the market’s going down – who knows?
It used to be that a new operating system from Microsoft resulted in the perceived notion that one had to upgrade their cpu, ram, storage, or just upgrade their computer completely.
I don’t think that’s a thing anymore. In fact the new Windows 10 has probably extended the life of many systems. That was something I relied on Linux for – to squeeze more useful life out of my laptop.
Throw in a Chromebook for most users, and you probably save even more expenses. There is however usually a new MacBook Pro lurking just around the corner for some, and that would be a nice machine to work with, but I think I’ll muddle through for a while with what I already have. It works, and that’s usually an important consideration.

How To Select Multiple Columns Using Grep & R

Why you need to be using Grep when programming with R.

There’s a reason that grep is included in most if not all programming language to this day 44 years later from creation. It’s useful and simple to use. Below is an example of using grep to make selecting multiple columns in R simple and easy to read.

The dataset below has the following column names.

names(data) # Column Names
 [1] "fips"                 "state"                "county"               "metro_area"          
 [5] "population"           "med_hh_income"        "poverty_rate"         "population_lowaccess"
 [9] "lowincome_lowaccess"  "no_vehicle_lowaccess" "s_grocery"            "s_supermarket"       
[13] "s_convenience"        "s_specialty"          "s_farmers_market"     "r_fastfood"          
[17] "r_full_service"      

How can we select only the columns we need to work with?

  • metro_area
  • med_hh_income
  • poverty_rate
  • population_lowaccess
  • lowincome_lowaccess
  • no_vehicle_lowaccess
  • s_grocery
  • s_supermarket
  • s_convenience
  • s_specialty
  • s_farmers_market
  • r_fastfood
  • r_full_service

We can tell R exactly by listing each column as below

data[c("metro_area","med_hh_income", "poverty_rate", "population_lowaccess", "lowincome_lowaccess", "no_vehicle_lowaccess","s_grocery","s_supermarket","s_convenience","s_specialty","s_farmers_market", "r_fastfood", "r_full_service")]

OR

We can tell R where each column we want is.

data[c(4,6,7:17)]

First, writing out each individual column is time consuming and chances are you’re going to make a typo (I did when writing it). Second option we have to first figure out where the columns are located to then tell R. Well looking at the columns we are trying to access vs the others theirs a specific difference. All these columns have a “_” located in there name, and we can use regular expressions (grep) to select these.

data[grep("_", names(data))])

FYI… to get the column locations you can actually use…

grep("_", names(data))
[1]  4  6  7  8  9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

You will rarely have a regular expression as easy at “_” to select multiple columns, a very useful resource to learn and practice is https://regexr.com

Data was obtained from https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-access-research-atlas/download-the-data/

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