Thursday, December 8, 2016

A light powered by nothing but gravity!

When I first saw this light introduced on the YouTube channel "Smarter Every Day", I knew I had to write about it.

This is the kind of tech I love to see. Powered by something we literally do have an infinite amount of, gravity.

Here is the S.E.D. video I just referenced:

And here is what the creator of GravityLight, Deciwatt has to say about their unique invention:

"GravityLight is a lamp that is designed to hang from suitable fixtures in a house or dwelling. It uses a bag that can be filled with heavy items and winched up. As the bag descends it drives a generator through a gearbox which provides direct electrical power for a single LED. Additional SatLight lamps can be connected to the main GravityLight unit to extend lighting. Multiple Satlights can be linked together (recommended max of 4)." -

For a video from the Deciwatt people about GravityLight, look here:

Here's a picture of GravityLight with 2 "Satlights". The satlights are excellent and necessary, light not directed where we need it is somewhat useless.

If you would like more information about GravityLight or the Deciwatt company, it's available at their official website,

Friday, November 18, 2016

Microsoft strengthens ties to open source, becomes a Linux Foundation "platinum member"

I couldn't believe my eyes this morning. I know they have done a few things open source, but I always thought that was an attempt to appeal to the growing throngs of Linux and Open Source users...

I'm starting to rethink that opinion..

Here's the word straight from the horses mouth, the Linux Foundation:

"SAN FRANCISCO – November 16, 2016 – The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit advancing professional open source management for mass collaboration, today announced that Microsoft has joined the organization at a Platinum member during Microsoft’s Connect(); developer event in New York.

From cloud computing and networking to gaming, Microsoft has steadily increased its engagement in open source projects and communities. The company is currently a leading open source contributor on GitHub and earlier this year announced several milestones that indicate the scope of its commitment to open source development. The company released the open source .NET Core 1.0; partnered with Canonical to bring Ubuntu to Windows 10; worked with FreeBSD to release an image for Azure; and after acquiring Xamarin, Microsoft open sourced its software development kit. In addition, Microsoft works with companies like Red Hat, SUSE and others to support their solutions in its products.

"As a cloud platform company we aim to help developers achieve more using the platforms and languages they know,” said Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President, Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise Group. “The Linux Foundation is home not only to Linux, but many of the community’s most innovative open source projects. We are excited to join The Linux Foundation and partner with the community to help developers capitalize on the shift to intelligent cloud and mobile experiences.”

Microsoft already contributes to several Linux Foundation projects, including Node.js Foundation, OpenDaylight, Open Container Initiative, R Consortium and Open API Initiative.

John Gossman, Architect on the Microsoft Azure team, will join The Linux Foundation Board of Directors.

“Microsoft has grown and matured in its use of and contributions to open source technology,” said Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of The Linux Foundation. “The company has become an enthusiastic supporter of Linux and of open source and a very active member of many important projects. Membership is an important step for Microsoft, but also for the open source community at large, which stands to benefit from the company’s expanding range of contributions.”

To view a full roster of Linux Foundation members, please visit

About The Linux Foundation

The Linux Foundation is the organization of choice for the world's top developers and companies to build ecosystems that accelerate open technology development and commercial adoption. Together with the worldwide open source community, it is solving the hardest technology problems by creating the largest shared technology investment in history. Founded in 2000, The Linux Foundation today provides tools, training and events to scale any open source project, which together deliver an economic impact not achievable by any one company. More information can be found at" -the Linux Foundation

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Portal, Simple WiFi file transfers for Android/iPhone

I found this app while looking for a easy and fast local WiFi transfer client. This fits the bill perfectly, you can transfer from your computer to your Android or iPhone device with ease.

It's a Google Chrome app, Android and iPhone app.

Once you have the chrome plugin for your computer, you will get a screen that looks like this: (That square black and white box is the QR code, in case you didn't know)

Then when activating the Android or IPhone app, you get this screen:

It says DennysComputers because that's my router's WiFi name.

Hitting Scan will activate your camera. Simply aim the camera at the QR code. (the strange looking box thing again for you who are new to the QR craze.)

Your Android device or phone should now have this screen:

And the computer's screen should look like this:

Because you are over WiFi, there are no data charges, and it's a much faster file transfer speed than something like blue tooth.

Here's what the Pushbullet team has to say about their useful software:

Portal is a new app brought to you by the Pushbullet team.

Portal makes transferring pictures, videos, and other files from your computer onto your phone simple. Just grab the app, scan the code above, and then drop as many files as you want onto this site. We'll get them onto your phone, and we'll do it fast!

Files are transferred over your WiFi connection. This means they don't count toward your mobile data limit and that files are transferred very quickly (even if they're over 1 GB in size).

Have Android 5.0 (Lollipop) or newer and a removable SD card in your phone? Portal can save files to that removable SD card so you can get the most out of it (just tell us to in the Android app's Settings).

You can open and share the files you've sent to your phone right from the Portal app, and pictures are automatically added to the Gallery app on your phone.

Using Chrome on your computer? You can drop entire folders and we'll transfer them without a hitch.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Digital Sabbath - Take a break from the E-World.

When I first saw the SafeUM post on Google Plus about Digital Sabbath, I was wondering if this was a new online metal band or something.

A quick read and I at once saw the point, time away from electronic everything.

When I say that, I am not talking about abandoning Mr. Coffee or your other kitchen appliances for the day, I am talking about anything that is related to or can do "Internet, TV, and other content delivery, social media, etc.".

I researched into Digital Sabbath, because I hadn't heard the term before. I came to find out it is growing in popularity, and has been a "thing" since at least 2012.

This Digital Sabbath campaign has had a few other names. But #digitalsabbath seems to have stuck.

In either case, I think it's an idea with merit and should be not only considered, but tried at least once.

Join me in 24 hours of electronic free time.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Microsoft sued over forcing Windows 10 on users

In reading tech news this afternoon, I ran across an article from The Seattle Times about a Windows user who was forced to upgrade to 10.

Before I share that article with you, I just wanted to explain that Microsoft is trying to create a "unified user experience". They want everyone, whether a Xbox, PC, Tablet or Smart Phone user to be using the same OS. (OS stands for Operating System, in case you are not a tech geek like me.)

So by having the same OS, in this case Windows 10, everyone will be on the same page and some content will be portable to all these systems. In theory, you could play an Xbox game on your PC (as long as your PC meets the standard minimum specs for said game) and vice versa.

While I like the idea, Microsoft's forcing Windows 10 on PC's has been nothing but a nightmarish disaster for a lot of PC users.

Non functional or severely crippled computers have been a serious issue. I personally have had the start bar mess up so bad that I ended up replacing that bar with classic shell on at least 10 of my customer's computers.

While non of this effects me personally, (I have been running only Linux for a long time now) this is effecting a lot of Windows users.

Here's a quote from The Seattle Time's article I referenced earlier:

"A few days after Microsoft released Windows 10 to the public last year, Teri Goldstein’s computer started trying to download and install the new operating system.

The update, which she says she didn’t authorize, failed. Instead, the computer she uses to run her Sausalito, Calif., travel-agency business slowed to a crawl. It would crash, she says, and be unusable for days at a time.

“I had never heard of Windows 10,” Goldstein said. “Nobody ever asked me if I wanted to update.”

She won. Last month, Microsoft dropped an appeal and Goldstein collected a $10,000 judgment from the company.

The company denies wrongdoing, and a spokeswoman said Microsoft halted its appeal to avoid the expense of further litigation."

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Turn off crash reporting in Xubuntu

If you are a fan of Xubuntu like me, one of the most annoying things you can have is a apport box to deal with every time you turn your PC on.

While it's purpose is a good one, the program that handles crash reporting, apport, can be a relentless nuisance, asking you to report the same bug you have already reported time and time again.

To stop apport in it's tracks, we need to change this file:


It will look like this:

# set this to 0 to disable apport, or to 1 to enable it
# you can temporarily override this with
# sudo service apport start force_start=1

Change enabled to a 0 with your favorite text editor. (You have to be root or sudo)

My choice was just to use nano, since nano is always pre-installed in Xubuntu.

So I typed sudo nano /etc/default/apport in the terminal, then my password, and then changed the 1 to a 0. If you use nano, control O saves. (Not zero, 0, but the letter o.)

You will see the results next reboot.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Dead Drops, Un-cloud your files in cement!

A cousin of mine shared this with me, she knows I love all things tech. It reminds me of Geocaching, a treasure hunt for adults. In many ways this is Geocaching, except with computer files.

Here is what the Dead web site says about the project:

"‘Dead Drops’ is an anonymous, offline, peer to peer file-sharing network in public space. USB flash drives are embedded into walls, buildings and curbs accessible to anybody in public space. Everyone is invited to drop or find files on a dead drop. Plug your laptop to a wall, house or pole to share your favorite files and data. Each dead drop is installed empty except a readme.txt file explaining the project. ‘Dead Drops’ is open to participation." -

I checked my local area, and there are no "Dead Drops", but there are a few in my state, Wisconsin. Here is a nice pic of what I was able to find in the badger state:

Here is a video from explaining the formation of this unique network:

If you are interested in seeing if their is a dead drop near you, here is a list and map of the known dead drops of the world:

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Orion Trail: survive space, not the old west

If you are as old, or as "old school" as me, you have probably played the old dos game Oregon Trail.

Orion Trail is a Oregon Trail type game, set in a very Star Trek-ian feel of a game. (Probably as close as they could get without being sued by Paramount or CBS.)

Oregon Trail game art, just in case you are scratching your head:

It's made by Schell Games. Their official website for the game is

"Orion Trail is a single player space adventure for Windows, Mac, and Linux. In the game, you are captain of the Indestructible II, flagship vessel of Galaxy Force. Your mission: to explore and survive the dangerous and enigmatic Orion Trail. With the help of your trusty officers, ship, and crew, your success is ensured... Probably.

Orion Trail’s gameplay centers around making the tough calls that only you, a starship captain, can make. The galaxy is full of strange, stupid, and terrifying Things, and you’ll need to make the decisions that ensure the survival of Your Crew. Well, most of your crew. Each journey, you’ll pick your captain, Officers, and Equipment. Each pick will give you a leg up when dealing with Encounters in specific ways.

However, you can't apply all strategies to every situation. Sure, you could stock up on guns and aggressive officers to crush your Enemies, but you'll be in trouble when you need to host that alien dinner party.

Starships don’t run on good intentions alone (not the ones you can afford, anyway). Each decision you make will increase or decrease the resources that keep your ship functioning. Run out of any, and you’ll be in deep (space) trouble." -

I am covering the "prototype version" which is more apt to say, the "dumbed down" version of the game because I am a poor bloat and food and rent are more valuable to me than paying for this game.

The full version can be found currently on steam. The version I show here is on

Here's some pretty game art, just because. :)

Just as a side note, I only use Linux. I played this on Ubuntu 16.04 64 bit edition using the Gnome 3 desktop environment.

Here is a mini walk-through video made by me for you YouTube fans out there:

There are 4 phases to the game.

These include: Mission Starter Choices Phase, Travel Phase, Encounter Phase and End of Game Phase.

Mission Starter Choices Phase

Mission type: Keep x amount of food, fuel, crew to the end or keep you ship intact to the end.

Captain: I usually try to start with either a Captain with many skills, or with a few strong ones. Some of the best captains are the test captain and Jean Luc. (No, not Picard, you'll see.)

Ship: You have 3 ship types. Often but not always, it's a good idea to pick a ship that can carry an abundance of the item you need. In this game, "Scourge of the Stars" would be an excellent "finish with lots of food" ship to choose. (Usually).

Choice of Officers: The only real use of your officers is in filling in weak skill spots of your captain. Since all encounters will rely somewhat on your ship's overall captain+crew skill scores.

Travel Phase

In the prototype version, this is nothing more than a progress meter. you want your ship to go all the way to the left.

Previews of the full game show a lot more choices in this section.

Encounter Phase

3 options screen: Here you choose based on 1) what your reward will be, 2) what if any punishment this choice brings, and 3) which of the 5 skills (attack, tactics, diplomacy, science and bravado) you want to use.

The roll of the dice screen: Here is where your chosen skill level is added with a roll of the dice to see your outcome. If you have high enough of that skill, or if you "roll" high, you may not get any punishments at all. Then again...

The outcome screen: Here we see that I gained 50 food but lost 20 crew. Poor red shirts! ;)
You can lose food, fuel, crew, hull points (armor) and/or any combination of these.
You can also lose skill points.

I.E. Choose to use a weak skill, and you could lose crew, fuel and bravado skill points, for instance.

End of Game Phase

This is a successful game end screen, because it's in green. It's a simple list of 1) Your skill levels at the end of the game, 2) your cargo and hull allotment at the end of the game, and your grand score. 

You get a x2 bonus for succeeding, and in this case, since this was a "finish with lots of food" mission, you get x5 to your amount of food value, listed here as 77 x 5 = 38500. 

To finish up...

If you like what you see, then check it out here: or on Steam!


Monday, March 21, 2016

Kindles from 2012 or older need an update to continue to use the internet

Older versions of the Amazon Kindle will no longer connect to the Internet unless their software is updated very quickly.

The update is needed for the first generation of the Kindle Paperwhite, which was released in 2012, and all of the other Kindle models that came out before it. Amazon is warning customers to install the update before March 22. (That's tomorrow!)

Here is the article from the Washington post if you are curious:

Here is the press release from Amazon as well:

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Evil TeslaCrypt Virus is now UNFIXABLE

TeslaCrypt is a virus that encrypts your pictures, movies, music and documents.

The creators of the virus then demand a high ransom be payed to get your files back unharmed.

Most of the time if you do pay, your files are left encrypted anyways, and you are out both the money you pay and your now encrypted files.

While your computer can be salvaged, now because of these evil degenerates, your files will not be saved unless you pay (and hope they send the decrypt key you need).

As always I post links to the articles I mention, you will find them below. Both Engadget and PCWorld are known to be solid IT news providers.

Please back up the files you hold dear, pictures of family, etc... If this hits you, chances of recovery are very low.


Engadget Article:

PCWorld Article:

Here are some screen shots in case you think you are already infected: