Adventures in Desktop Application Development

When I first started this blog, I was just dipping my toes back into the world of C++. Before that, my experience with it was mostly academic, and after struggling through a course with a particularly poor professor I swore off it in favor of VB.NET. No, I never did forgive myself for that decision, but it ultimately helped me learn to appreciate the importance and relevance of C++. And after tinkering with systems that use C++ exclusively, I’ve come to appreciate it even more.

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The Appliancification of Computing

NetBSD on a toaster

There’s a movement underway to transform the way we interact with personal computers. As computers become more automated and more intelligent, consumers are losing access to the software that makes them tick. The emphasis is moving away from computers as a platform and closer to computers as an appliance. What does this mean for end-users, and what does it mean for the future of our digitally dependent society?

(Featured image courtesy of NetBSD and Jeff Rizzo)

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The Not-So-Secret World of the Dark Web

Far below the Web we all know and love, behind the friendly faces of our favorite websites there lies a lurking giant. Many of us know the Web by it’s biggest names – Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. But what many of us don’t know is that there’s another component to the Web, one that willingly places itself away from the public consciousness. It’s given rise to a platform where people around the world can speak freely without fear of retribution, but it’s also given rise to a platform where people can engage in incredible atrocities outside of the public eye. This mysterious hidden network is known as the Dark Web.

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Beginner’s Guide to Backups

Backups are something most people never think about until it’s too late. Computers can be finicky, and if you value your digital data then you’ll want to have a backup solution in place. This post explores two aspects of backups: the various types of backups, and everyday tools for performing those backups.

Disclaimer: Parts of this guide include instructions that, if misused, could result in data loss. Never run a command without being 100% sure of the outcome!

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The World of Microcontrollers

A few months ago, I decided to buy an Arduino. For those who are unfamiliar, an Arduino is a small programmable computer typically used to power a specific application such as a smoke detector, medical device, watch, household appliance, or automobile engine. My reasons for buying an Arduino were twofold: I wanted to learn how small, embedded computers were being used to power our everyday lives, and I wanted to learn more about the Maker’s Movement. While this post focuses on the first reason, you can learn more about the Maker’s Movement through a variety of resources including Make Magazine and Wikipedia.

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An Introduction to Free Software

While the term “free software” seems self-explanatory, there’s a lot of confusion surrounding the actual definition and usage of “free.” Before we define it, it’s important to know that free software is usually used interchangeably with open source software. Free software is exactly what it says on the tin; you can download it and run it without having to pay the owner a dime. Although the software is free to use, it may contain restrictions that make it difficult to modify, distribute, or resell. Open source software eliminates these restrictions by not only allowing the user the download the software, but also to study and change the source code and redistribute the modified program. The Latin words “gratis” and “libre” are often used in place of “free” and “open source” to prevent ambiguity.

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Learning to Love (But Not Obsess Over) Technology

Change can be a scary thing. Over the the past century alone our world has been shaped by countless changes: we’ve experienced two global wars, discovered new realms of practical and theoretical science, and watched in real-time as human beings left footprints on the surface of the moon. The Industrial Revolution catapulted us towards technological singularity: today it’s difficult to imagine a world without credit cards or pocket computers. Considering how long it took us to reach this point as a species, one begins to wonder: what kind of effect is this rapid change having on our relatively primitive brains? Is technology moving too quickly for the human mind to keep up? And perhaps more importantly, will we reach a point where technology will no longer adapt to our behaviors but force us to adapt to its behaviors?

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Indra’s Internet

The proliferation of the Internet has led to a very different world than that of our parents. If someone told you 30 years ago that there would be a cheap, reliable, portable way to share music, movies, and information with anyone on the globe at any time of day, would you have believed them? In the decades since the first email, we’ve seen massive strides in the development of fast global communication. From the first web site to the latest tweet, our world – and our perceptions of our world – are being shaped in the context of a global network of thoughts and experiences.

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