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Friday, December 28, 2012

Amazing how much has changed

I can't believe how far this blog has come since it first started. At one point, this blog was full of simple one line posts and sometimes missing a title! The past 5 years have been great, but I hope that the next 5 years will be even better. Maybe one day I can afford a spaceship...

Anyway, whether you just started reading Y4L (I haven't used that acronym in a while) today or have been reading this blog since the dawn of its first post, I have to say Thank You. Blogging is exciting, certainly more than counting the dots in the ceiling.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Avoiding Internet Explorer with FTP

Depending on how you feel about IE, you might just only use internet exploror once: when you are downloading a different browser. Well, today I'm going to show you a different way to go. One that involves downloading Firefox through FTP. This way you will never have to open up Internet Explorer ever again. So let's get to work

  1. Open Windows Explorer. (Windows Logo->E)
  2. Copy/Paste this in to the address bar: (this will automatically take you to the latest Firefox release)
  3. Drag/drop the installer onto your desktop. The file will download to your desktop
  4. Run the installer
  5. Enjoy Firefox!

Technically, we still use Windows Explorer for this mini project, but I'm guessing you already use Windows Explorer anyway. You can download it through ftp by way of the command line, but this is so much simpler.

Now you will never have to taint your hands in Internet Explorer. Happy surfing.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


There has, and always will be, a human psychological issue with population statistics. Even assuming the best data collection and the most sophisticated graphing software, population statistics are often associated as individual statistics, but it does not work that way.

There are too many statistics out there today, There are statistics on how many people live in hunger, how many cats are on the street at night , now many dogs that don't have a collar, how many people who visit this blog... Yet despite all of these numbers, little action is made at an individual level to address these statistics. Hunger in Africa? Call Bill Gates and have him donate a zillion dollars, but never understand how one hungry person is actually doing. Swine flu outbreak? Freak out and hide. Nobody really thinks how these numbers actually affect real people, even though that's what we claim these numbers are supposedly used for.

Let's create a hypothetical disease called K. First reported in the San Francisco Bay Area, K is a disease where you go on the computer all day and blog about random tech stories and talk about the things you do on the computer and post any random interesting photos that you may have come across. Yes, K is very dangerous. People begin to forget what time of day it is and where they should be going. Instead, they go onto Blogger and type out long convoluted posts on hypothetical viruses. Oh and it's highly contagious. One look at a person infected with K will cause them to automatically start blogging. Pretty dangerous.

Let's say that 1% of the population catches K. To the other 99% of people, K is no big deal. They don't have it and the chance of looking at a blogger who goes out in public is pretty rare. But what about the people who did get it? Their lives are now messed up. While our society cannot cure every little thing that comes in its way, these 1% of K patients are people too. To them, K is the end of the world. While there may only be 1% of all people living with K. There are 100% of K patients who have to live with K.

Making actions without looking at how they impact the individual is a terrible cold hearted way to go. When a company sends its factories off to a lower cost region simply to give top executives bigger bonuses and expensive liquor, they are not just cutting a few hundred jobs. They are bringing sadness and despair to people whose children depend on them to bring home food and have a warm place to live. In the end, these actions destroy the livelihoods of individuals, not people on a graph.

How the future is the past in better packaging

I know that people often say that people in the present live better than the royalty of the past. I've never felt that way, on good days and bad, through happy and sad.

We always expect the future to be better than the past. No matter at what time of life, and under whatever situation we always hope that we escape our crummy situation and everything will solve itself. The future is this wonderful place that can do things that even the best super heroes can't do. Heck, it can even travel through time (forward, that is). No matter how pessimistic, life is always leaning towards the bright side, even though it seems like we have more and more problems being added to our daily routines.

There's a problem with that. History has shown that the past repeats. After all, that's the number one reason why people say to study history to (ironically) stop repeating the past. Now, if the past repeats, then the future must behave just like the past. Here's were we hit a snag. We can't expect a better future knowing that our crummy pasts will just keep repeating.

Now some people will think that our lives don't completely repeat. There's are many things that were here now in the present that did not exist in the past (such as this amazing iPad app). That's correct. But this follows the pattern in history where people create new things. I'm not trying to talk about the new ever changing crap that people have, but rather how people act and organize themselves.

I have to ask you, disregard all of the meaningless material waste you have and think about how much your life has actually improved. Do you really think that your life has gotten better in the last 10 years? Think about the fun you had 10 years ago, the worries that you didn't have and the ideas that you thought would carry you into the future. The more information you have about how the world works, the more you realize how lost the world really is. It's been 2012 years (give or take) since Christ was born! Just like you, people two thousand years ago were hopeful too. They hoped for better futures, because it's really hard to change the past. It's pretty hard to say how much better your life will be when the past is so miserable. With enough time, even the most distant futures will eventually transform into the past, and then we can remember how miserable we were back then.

This brings up why people even bother to try if there is little evidence that it will do them any good. Because people have no choice. Like the people buying lottery tickets even though they know it won't do them any good over 99.9% of the time, there's always that .1%. Everyone, myself included, always focus on our own statistics. It doesn't matter if someone is one in a million because that someone might be you. More to the point, it doesn't matter if the average score is 75%, as long as you yourself get above 90%. Population statistics don't apply to the individual and even the smallest chance is one chance better than there was before.

None of us can beat this bitter reality and false sense of hope that the future will automatically bring us happiness. Life is a questionable animal, one with more questions than it has answers.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Joli OS

I've been using Joli OS for roughly a month now. Here's the meltdown of it's pros and cons:

Great simplicity. Easy to use and set up
Goes well with various cloud services, google drive, skydrive, whatever
desktop can be accessed from any browser

Perhaps a bit too cloud oriented. The computer is essentially rendered useless you have an internet connection
I wish that local apps were a bit more emphasized.
The entire desktop is a browser page, kinda slow at times

Overall great desktop. It's really great for old laptops that can't handle new software and need a facelift. This OS seems to have various drivers already built in so you don't have to hunt for drivers. Overall great idea, but maybe it's a little bit ahead of its time.