Thanksgiving – Weathering the Storm

Yesterday, while sitting in Starbucks writing a few notes with my iPhone and waiting for my coffee, I could see storm clouds darkening the sky far off in the distance. It’s not an unusual sight and often is nothing to get too excited about. The news reports have all been about the high winds and wintry weather warnings due in our area. I’m referring to the news I actually pay any attention to. Politics are avoided. With Thanksgiving in a few days, it’s not a bad strategy to avoid unnecessary nonsense.

Now a day later I can hear the rain on the roof of the shop start tapping along with the blowing wind as the temperature drops down to a more seasonable cool temperature range of misery. I had spent some time earlier this morning playing around with the Chromebook’s Linux beta support and running Tshark and tcpdump in the Linux shell. I was able to install non-graphical dependent programs using apt. Apt seems to work better than expected, but I’m not convinced I’d actually use a Chromebook for any pcap file decoding. Lately I’ve been trying to be more practical in my minimalist approach to any computer usage I would use as a “grab and go” daily driver.

With the latest Windows 10 update, I must reluctantly admit that the latest Microsoft OS incarnation does fulfill the majority of my computing needs. I had expected that I would limit my choice to either Debian on a IdeaPad or a Chromebook. Neither has proven to be as flexible and as functional as the latest Windows update. This is somewhat annoying to me because I always feel the need to have Wireshark available on my laptops in case I need to assist someone who needs help troubleshooting communication issues which may actually be application related as opposed to true telecommunication issues. Since Wireshark has such wide protocol support it has become my favorite troubleshooting tool for many situations. OSX, Linux, and Windows support Wireshark well enough, however most of the users I deal with predominantly use Windows 10. Some have recently moved from Windows 7 to Windows 10, and sometimes have issues that I don’t see Linux users dealing with. Message analyzer is no longer supported, so Wireshark continues to be the easiest network monitoring tool for many.

I would still recommend Chromebooks for anyone who needs a low cost and efficient computer for basic web browsing, email, content writing, and basic photo editing. I know Thanksgiving can be an opportunity for friends and family of some fellow computer enthusiasts to ask for computer assistance and or recommendations. This year I would not be surprised to find Windows 7 to Windows 10 as one of the popular topics – other than politics or smartphone comparisons.

This year weather will probably be a safe topic to discuss, but don’t be surprised if the conversation turns to Black Friday shopping. What better topic to discuss the pros and cons of different operating systems, Phone, tablet, or PC based upgrades with associated “savings” deals could spur interesting conversations – provided the weather doesn’t dominate the conversations.

My advice this year is either go for a Chromebook if you have basic Internet related content needs, but if you happen to be one those workforce members who just got updated at work from Windows 7 to Windows 10, then having your own personal computer running Windows 10 Home might be useful for some self learning opportunities. This could be useful in becoming more comfortable in using an upgraded work computer. You can still load Linux as a virtual machine, or Windows Subsystem for Linux. I find myself using Powershell more than I had expected just because it’s available and has a lot of potential for simplifying some tasks you might otherwise normally use the dreaded point and click method

If you’re more involved heavy with media related content creation, than a Mac is probably worth the additional cost. If you already have a reliable computer, than you may find the latest Windows update as a fresh install is all you need. This could make your computer feel like a brand new model. The only issues that limit this is how long a certain model of hardware is supported by the OS upgrade, or manufactured driver support. Usually I can get more use out of a older computer by installing a lightweight Debian based Linux distribution. Unbelievable as it sounds, the latest Win 10 upgrade is running rather well on some of my older laptops – including Netbooks. It may be worth looking into before spending your hard earned money on a new laptop.

I think I might just hold onto what I already have. I’m getting everything done I need to, and I rely more on my phone than any laptop. Upgrading could be worth looking into since my iPhone 7 is starting to lose battery life.

I guess if the weather degrades anymore this Thanksgiving, I’ll at least have my phone with me. Maybe this Thanksgiving laptops aren’t even a topic that will come up. It’s all about phones this year. Even tablets seem to have faded into the background. The weather is always topical – especially if the rain blows hard enough, and the temperature becomes hard to ignore.

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