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Category: General

Monitoring my UPS with Grafana Cloud

A while back I bought an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) from CyberPower. I have a Linux workstation here at home that I need to keep safe from power outages. CyberPower is kind enough to provide local monitoring and management software for Linux called PowerPanel that runs on the workstation and will shut it down appropriately if a power outage is detected and the battery back up is running low on battery power. Side note: this is not a paid advertisement, just being clear about the foundation for what I’m about to share. It’s Friday. I like to learn new things…

Ubuntu Linux Unleashed 2021

I was the sole editor and contributor of new content for Ubuntu Linux Unleashed 2021 Edition. This is the 14th edition of this book and is intended for intermediate to advanced users.

Thoughts on Turning 50

I’m writing this post during the COVID-19 era. Officially, society is starting to open up. Unofficially, I think we are about to cause a second, larger wave of viral spreading. Anyway, with my chronic illnesses, I’m staying locked down. As I spend my fiftieth birthday in near-isolation (my older kids aren’t with me –EDIT: they surprised me by visiting!!–, but my wife and youngest kid are) I decided to share some thoughts that lead me here. Ten years ago I wrote a post about turning 40. Here’s a follow up. This time, instead of sharing specific random things I’ve learned,…

The Game is Rigged

The game is rigged. We all know it. So what? The art is learning how to navigate within the structure for your own benefit. All it takes is a change in your perspective. Care about others a little bit less; care about yourself a little bit more. Selfishness rules the world. Dog eat dog and all that rot. It is kill or be killed; take or be taken. I get out of bed and stumble toward the kitchen. How can I face another day of constant warfare? I need coffee. Food. Maybe something stronger. I glance at the stove and…

The Cartoon Introduction to Calculus

How did calculus come to be? Why? Who was involved? What does this have to do with pineapples (page 84)? These and other questions are integral to this book, which is not derivative of any other I have read. Okay, enough puns. Let’s get to the facts. The Cartoon Introduction to Calculus is my favorite calculus book ever. Written by Grady Klein and Yoran Bauman, Ph.D., the book is informative, interesting, and insanely funny. That is not an easy task considering the subject matter. I got a C in calculus as a university freshman, and although I understand the topic…

Amazing Decisions: The Illustrated Guide to Improving Business Deals and Family Meals

Amazing Decisions: The Illustrated guide to Improving Business Deals and Family Meals by Dan Ariely and illustrated by Matt R. Trower aims to help readers learn to consider the reasons why some decisions are better than others. To achieve the book’s goals of explaining how social sciences and behavioral economics overlap and differ we are presented with a narrative. The narrator, Adam, faces a continuous and confusing set of choices he must make. How will he decide which option to choose in each of these moments? Assisting the narrative are colorful and well-done illustrations. The author submits that decision making…

Moonbound: Apollo 11 and the Dream of Spaceflight

On July 20, 1969, humans first walked on the moon. It was an amazing achievement, even by today’s standards 50 years later. Moonbound: Apollo 11 and the Dream of Spaceflight is not the first book by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm that I have reviewed. In fact I have reviewed two others previously. As with each of those, this book is well-researched, historically valuable, and filled with illustrations that enhance the text. In this book, we learn the history of the moon landing, starting years back with the beginnings of astronomy and studies and beliefs about the moon, through early rocket science and…

Astronomy for Kids

I have an eight year old who knows more about the solar system than most adults I know. He is fascinated by stars, planets, asteroids, comets, and anything else you can think of in space. How cool that I was able to give him this book. Astronomy for Kids: How to Explore Outer Space with Binoculars, a Telescope, or Just Your Eyes! is a wonderfully laid out, fascinating, and intellectually stimulating introduction to becoming an astronomer, whether amateur or eventually a professional. The stated (and in my opinion achieved) goal is to help kids find and name objects in the…

The Manga Guide to Cryptography

This “Manga Guide to…” series is fantastic. This is another solid entry worthy of your time and attention, provided the subject matter is of interest for any reason. While none of the entries in the series could or is intended to replace a textbook, they are all fantastic supplementary materials to any study of the academic topics covered. The Manga Guide to Cryptography tackles all of the main points you would expect of an academic introduction to the topic. It does so with clarity, with precision, and surrounds the academic details with an enjoyable narrative that makes the information much…

Cracking Codes with Python

Cracking Codes with Python: An Introduction to Building and Breaking Ciphers has two goals. The book aims to teach the novice how to program in Python while also providing a good foundation in ciphers, encryption, and cryptography. There is nothing in the book that will help the reader replace the excellent open source implementations currently available. That is not the goal. Rather, the reader has a chance to learn the foundations underlying classic and modern attempts to secure communication between parties. The classics are all here, from simple reverse cipher and transposition all the way through to one-time pad ciphers and…