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Memory-Lane Monday: I guess it’s not stealing when you’re paying for your own

It’s back in the day when Wi-Fi was relatively new, and pilot fish is visiting relatives over the holidays when his brother-in-law begins grousing about lousy internet performance.

“A friend had set up a wireless access point for him,” says fish. “But he neglected to provide important information like the administrator password so a poor slob like me who came later might be able to take a look and diagnose anything.

“After a reset of the access point and a reconfiguration of the laptop, we came to find that my brother-in-law had never actually connected to the access point in his own house. He had instead been connecting to an unsecured network that one of the neighbors had been broadcasting.

“Turns out he had paid for a cable modem for two years that he never actually connected to.”

It’s back in the day when Wi-Fi was relatively new, and pilot fish is visiting relatives over the holidays when his brother-in-law begins grousing about lousy internet performance.

“A friend had set up a wireless access point for him,” says fish. “But he neglected to provide important information like the administrator password so a poor slob like me who came later might be able to take a look and diagnose anything.

“After a reset of the access point and a reconfiguration of the laptop, we came to find that my brother-in-law had never actually connected to the access point in his own house. He had instead been connecting to an unsecured network that one of the neighbors had been broadcasting.

“Turns out he had paid for a cable modem for two years that he never actually connected to.”

Get connected to Sharky. Send me your true tales of IT life at [email protected]. You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.



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Microsoft’s JEDI contract move: Those are not the cloud providers you’re looking for

Microsoft surprised most of the tech and political world when it was awarded a 10-year, $10 billion contract from the U.S. Department of Defense for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project to transform the military’s use of the cloud. Amazon, IBM, Oracle and Google had all been in the running, with Amazon thought to be the front-runner because it is the world’s largest cloud provider and had already built a cloud system for the Central Intelligence Agency.

After Microsoft received the contract, plenty of people expressed the belief that President Trump had intervened to make sure Amazon didn’t win it, pointing to his constant criticism of Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post. Fueling the speculation was a book published by a speechwriter for former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, which claimed that Trump wanted to freeze Amazon out of the contract.

Among those raising objections was Amazon, which is officially challenging the decision on the ground that it was made for political reasons rather than technical or military ones. Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener explained in a statement, “It’s critical for our country that the government and its elected leaders administer procurements objectively and in a manner that is free from political influence. Numerous aspects of the JEDI evaluation process contained clear deficiencies, errors and unmistakable bias — and it’s important that these matters be examined and rectified.”

It’s not clear whether the president had an active hand in choosing Microsoft over Amazon. What is clear is that Microsoft made itself a viable choice, in part, by tearing a page from its old playbook: Use the power of Windows as a way to force its way into other markets.

In decades past, Microsoft did that with great success, mowing down competitors in the markets for word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software and others. The ploy hasn’t worked in recent times, though, and Windows is no longer the core of Microsoft. The cloud is. But in this instance, it appears that Windows helped Microsoft land JEDI, which is helping the company in its efforts to catch up to Amazon in cloud market share.

To understand how Microsoft leveraged Windows, you need to look back three years. In December 2016, Microsoft was awarded a $972 million contract to migrate all 4 million Defense Department employees to Windows 10 and to provide the department with large numbers of Windows devices, including laptops and desktops. The contract also called for Microsoft to provide tech support to the military for five years. On the same day the contract was awarded, the Defense Department approved Microsoft Surface for deployment to the military.

Department of Defense CIO Terry Halvorsen explained the decisions by saying, “It is important for the Department to rapidly transition to Microsoft Windows 10 in order to improve our cybersecurity posture, lower the cost of IT and streamline the IT operating environment.”

At the time, Windows 10, about 18 months past its release date, wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire. But you can’t get a more ringing endorsement than Halvorsen’s. GeekWire explained the importance of the contract this way: “It’s a striking departure from the old way of thinking about upgrades, where many institutions including the military stuck with what worked until the new systems were more thoroughly tested, often upgrading years after the general public.”

But even more important was the foot Microsoft had gotten inside the Pentagon’s door. A little more than a year after the contract was signed, Microsoft finished the migration to Windows 10 for the Defense Department. That the migration didn’t lag certainly must have pleased the military. And now, when it comes to desktop and laptop computing, the U.S. military is all Windows all the time, and it clearly trusts Microsoft.

And now comes the big reward, the JEDI contract. While it’s true that Amazon has filed an objection, don’t expect the contract award to be overturned. Daniel Ives, the managing director of Wedbush Securities, told The New York Times that Amazon’s challenge “was to be expected, given how significant the JEDI deal is.” But he added that he doesn’t believe the challenge will succeed because, “This is the most scrutinized contract D.O.D. has ever had.” Ives added that the Pentagon’s review of the challenge would probably take only between 45 and 60 days.

Even if political influence was involved, Microsoft’s long-standing relationship with the Department of Defense, particularly the big Windows 10 deal and its heavy reliance on that OS, will provide cover for the military should it stick with Microsoft.

In strictly numeric terms, the contract isn’t a game-changer for Microsoft. It amounts to $1 billion per year, and it’s guaranteed for only two years, with two three-year options after that, and then a final two-year option. Today, Amazon owns 47.8% of the cloud market, and Microsoft trails far behind with 15.5%, according to Gartner. This deal, by itself, won’t do much to alter those numbers.

But there’s power in signaling, and this high-profile contract from an organization that eschews risk in all things signals to businesses and other government agencies that Microsoft can be trusted with anyone’s cloud business. And it will likely lessen Amazon’s reputation as the only cloud vendor worth considering.

So expect other big deals to go Microsoft’s way as the company pivots to the cloud.

Remember, no one is claiming that political influence put Microsoft ahead of Google and IBM in this contest. No, Microsoft got into the running the old-fashioned way: using the power of Windows to muscle its way into a big market it wants to dominate.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.



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The Best Bike Mini Pumps for When You’re Feeling Deflated – Review Geek

Lezyne Carbon Road Drive mini bike pump
Ian Slack

A flat tire in the middle of a bike rides sucks, but it’s a whole other level of suckiness if you don’t have what you need to fix it. Here are my recommendations for the best bike mini pump to get you rolling again after you hear that dreaded hiss.

In Defense of Mini Pumps

As a long-time cyclist and “weight weenie,” I know there’s a certain nerd factor associated with loading your bike up with too many gadgets, but I still think having a mini pump is well worth it. They’ve fallen out of favor since CO2 arrived on the scene, and I’m not promoting mini pumps over CO2 inflators because I love them too. There’s nothing more convenient when you get a flat tire on a road ride and want to fix it as fast as you can to get back to the group you’re riding with.

CO2 is also more likely to give you the big blast of pressure that you need to get a tubeless tire seated—although not always. Be aware that most manufacturers warn that CO2 can cause tire sealant to solidify and make it less effective, so replace the CO2 with air and add more sealant when you get home.

There are a few reasons why I carry CO2 and have a mini pump as a backup. Sometimes when you get a flat tire, the cause is apparent—say a nail or piece of glass sticking out from the tire casing. Other times it can be a slow leak with a mysterious origin. It’s crucial to find the cause because a tiny piece of glass or a minuscule wire embedded in your tire can quickly put a hole in your replacement tube, putting you back where you started. A mini pump lets you inflate your bad tube and look for the hole without using one of your CO2 cartridges.

Also, when replacing a bike tube, it helps to put just enough air in the new one to give it shape before inserting it into the tire. When you do that, you have less of a chance of the tube getting under the bead of the tire and being pinched by a tire lever or blowing the tire off the rim once inflated. A mini pump is useful for that little bit of inflation and lets you use the full charge of your CO2 cartridge for getting max pressure into the tire once it’s mounted.

Lezyne Carbon Road Drive mini bike pump
Ian Slack

Lastly, a mini pump means you always have air as a backup to CO2. I was on a ride recently with a guy on tubeless tires when one went flat. He went through both of his CO2 cartridges before he realized his sealant had dried up. If I hadn’t had a pump to loan him to put his spare tube in, he wouldn’t have gotten home. I’ve had something similar happen to me when my spare tube was old and rotted from sitting in my saddle bag unused for too long. It was only the fact that I carry a pump and an inner tube patch kit that finally got me rolling again after much swearing and time lost.

A Little Goes a Long Way in CO2 Inflators

 

 

Feckless Industries minimalist CO2 inflator
Feckless Industries

You can see why CO2 inflators are so popular. Not only are they super-convenient, but they fit easily in even the smallest saddle bag or jersey pocket. I prefer minimalist designs like this one from Feckless Industries that use threaded 16-gram cartridges over ones that encase the cartridge, as they’re very simple to use and take up less space.

Best CO2 Inflator

LEZYNE Tubeless Co2 Blaster
Lezyne

Something relatively new on the market for tubeless tires is plug kits, similar to what’s used on auto tires. Lezyne even makes a CO2 plug kit combo it calls the Blaster. I’ve yet to punch a hole in an MTB tire big enough to need plugging, but I hear the thorns are bigger out west.

MTB Tubeless Tire Plug

How to Pick a Bike Mini Pump

Lezyne Carbon Road Drive mini bike pump
Ian Slack

So, what should you consider when choosing a bike mini pump? Here are a few things that I think are important:

  • The kind of riding do you do: For road riding, being able to pump up a tire to high pressure will be critical, whereas for mountain biking it’s not the pressure so much as the volume the pump puts out to fill up big fat tires without working yourself to death.
  • Valve type: Do you have Schrader valves on your tires (like a car) or the narrower Presta valves common to higher-end bicycles? Some pumps will do both, but watch out for Presta-only models if you’ve got Schrader valves.
  • Where to carry it: Are you going to mount the pump on your bike or throw it in a backpack? Some mountain biking backpacks are quite small, so do some measuring to guarantee the pump is short enough that it’ll fit in your bag. If you’re going to mount the pump on your bike, make sure you’ve got the right mounts on your frame and that the pump won’t be too large for the space you’re allocating for it.

The pump you pick needs to work well for whatever scenarios you plan to use it in.

The Best Bike Mini Pumps

Personally, two things matter most to me in a mini pump: weight and an external hose. Weight matters because—frankly—I need all the help I can get, and I like external hoses because it takes away the potential for side pressure on the valve stem when you’re pumping. I’ve seen people snap valves off with some pumps because they couldn’t keep them from putting lateral force on the stem. Other things are going to be more important to other people.

Best Road Bike Mini Pump: Lezyne Road Drive

Lezyne Road Drive mini bike pump
Lezyne

I have the more expensive carbon version of this mini pump on my road bike, and I’ve had great experiences with Lezyne pumps in general for both road and MTB use. They’re lightweight, very well made, and feature the external hose that I prefer. The Lezyne Road Drive will work with either Presta or Shrader valves and comes with a clip to mount it next to your water bottle cage. The clip works well, and I’ve never had one come loose or rattle. There’s even a little air bleed button on the side of the hose to get the pressure just right.

Lezyne claims this pump will handle up to 160psi, but like all mini pumps, you’re going to get a workout if you want to fully top off a high-pressure road tire—which, again, is why I carry CO2 as well.

The Road Drive comes in either black or silver and lengths of small (180mm), medium (216mm), and large (283mm). The longer the pump you choose, the more air it puts out, but then it’s heavier too.

The rubber caps at each end keep out dirt, and I’ve found they stay securely in place when the pump is not in use.

Best Road Bike Mini Pump

Best Mountain Bike Mini Pump: Pro Bike Tool

Pro Bike Tool Mini Bike Pump
Pro Bike Tool

If you see some similarities between the Pro Bike Tool Mini Bike Pump and the Lezyne I recommended above, there’s a reason. This is a proven design that works.

The Pro Bike Tool pump also works with Presta and Shrader valves and will go up to 100psi. Pro Bike says its design will get you back on the trail faster with 30 percent fewer strokes than conventional mini pumps—which is important for higher-volume mountain bike tires.

This pump is only 7.3 inches long and weighs 3.6oz. Like the Lezyne, it clips next to a water bottle and has a rubber strap to hold it securely, so it’s not rattling around on rough trails. As a bonus, you can choose red over black or silver if that’s your thing.

Best Mountain Bike Mini Pump

How to Make Yourself Ready for Just About Anything

bike flat repair kit
This is what I have in my saddle bag along with some basic tools Ian Slack

So, whether you’re on tubed or tubeless tires, here’s what I think you should have with you on rides.

  • CO2 inflator
  • 2 CO2 cartridges
  • Mini pump
  • Spare tube
  • Patch kit
  • Tire boot material
  • Tire levers (optional)

All of the above sounds like a lot, but I can cram everything but the pump into the smallest saddle bag along with a couple of Allen wrenches. It’s important not to let tools rub against your spare tube because they’ll abraid a hole in it in no time as the bag vibrates under your saddle.

What is tire boot material, you ask? Say you run over a piece of glass that cuts your tire so severely that the replacement inner tube can push through the hole and blow out. Your tire is now shot, but you still need to get home. Some riders use folded money to put between the tube and the inside of the tire. I carry bits of material cut from the casings of old sew-up tires, but Park Tool also sells an inexpensive Emergency Boot Pack that does a great job.

Park Took Emergency Tire Boot
Park Tool

Cut Tire Savior

I put tire levers as optional because you don’t need them to get the tire off with some rim/tire combinations, while others can be a real bear. Do a test run with your tires to find out and decide if you need to carry levers. One other thing to note about patch kits, always replace them after using the rubber cement once because it’ll dry up before the next time you need it—even with the cap screwed down tight.


Yes, carrying a mini pump in addition to a spare tube and CO2 may seem like overkill, but take it from someone who’s had to sit shivering in sweaty bike clothes on the side of the road for over an hour while someone came to pick him up, you can never be too prepared.





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The 4 Best Video Doorbells to Keep an Eye on the Outside While You’re Inside – Review Geek

Two children ringing a Eufy video doorbell at a home.
Eufy

Video Doorbells are among the best smarthome devices you can own. And these days, there are more choices than ever, each with different benefits and shortcomings. Whether it’s a locally-recording doorbell or one that can identify grandma, there’s a video doorbell for you.

What to Look for in a Video Doorbell

It seems like every company in the smarthome game has a video doorbell for your consideration. But video doorbells call for more than slapping a camera and a button together and calling it a day. You’ll want to make sure the doorbell is compatible with your home and works well for your particular needs.

  • Power Source: There are two ways to power a video doorbell: your home’s existing doorbell wiring or battery power.  Battery-powered video doorbells are easier to install, but require charging. Some (but not all) doorbells that run off existing wiring can make use of your home’s chime. If your wiring doesn’t work, then you’ll either want to choose a battery-powered doorbell or run a plug-in transformer from inside your home.
  • Resolution: Like any other camera, resolution matters. Most video bells offer 720p, 1080p, or 2K resolutions when recording video. While the higher resolution does provide better quality, it also requires more bandwidth and storage space. It’s best to aim for at least 1080p for a good quality video.
  • Chime Options: Most (but not all) wired doorbells can ring your home’s chime. But if it can’t (or you chose a battery-powered doorbell), you’ll need an external plug-in chime. Some doorbells include them, but for others, it’s an extra cost to factor in.
  • Cloud Subscriptions: Nearly every doorbell offers a cloud subscription. For many, like Ring and Nest, it’s a requirement for advanced features like facial recognition and motion zones. You may also need a cloud subscription to review past videos—and the more history you want, the more it will cost. If you don’t want to pay monthly fees, look for a local capture doorbell.

The Best Overall Doorbell: Eufy Video Doorbell

The Eufy Video Doorbell mounted on a door with blue-lit button.
Josh Hendrickson

You might be surprised to see a doorbell other than Nest Hello listed here, but Eufy earns the top spot thanks to a few smart design decisions. To start, unlike Nest Hello or Ring, you don’t need a cloud subscription.

The Eufy doorbell records videos locally and provides advanced features like motion zones and facial recognition without cloud processing. The wired doorbell records 2K video (like the Nest Hello), and while it can’t ring your home’s chime, it comes with a plug-in chime (unlike Ring). All-in-all it provides 90% of Nest Hello’s features for about 65% of the cost, and that’s before cloud subscriptions.

You won’t get tight integration with Google or Alexa, but the company is working on implementing those APIs. The other main feature missing is Nest Hello’s ability to recognize identities. Eufy’s notifications will show a person’s face specifically, but not identify who they are (like your brother or spouse). And unfortunately, if your doorbell wiring doesn’t work, you’ll need to buy a plug-in transformer. Otherwise, you’ll have to pick one of the battery-powered options we recommend instead of the Eufy Doorbell.

Best Overall

The Premium Pick: Nest Hello

The Nest Hello with a glowing blue button.
Josh Hendrickson

If you don’t mind cloud subscriptions, Nest Hello is the absolute best video doorbell you can buy. Thanks to cloud processing, it does a better job of correctly identifying human movement (as opposed to a cat or sunlight) than the Eufy doorbell does.

It also records continuously, works with your home’s existing chime, and remembers who people are so it can identify them by name. Because Google makes it, Nest Hello has better integration with Google Home than any other doorbell. If you have a Nest Hub or Nest Hub Max, the video will appear nearly instantly on those devices when someone rings the doorbell.

Just keep in mind that Google locked Nest Hello’s best features behind the Nest Aware subscription. You can only get facial recognition, video history, and motion zones when you subscribe. If you don’t, it’s the equivalent of a digital peephole—only useful when you’re looking at it.

Best Battery Powered Doorbell: Ring Video Doorbell 2

Ring Video Doorbell 2 on a door frame.
Amazon

If your home’s doorbell wiring doesn’t work or you don’t want to mess with electricity, then a battery-powered option might be the way to go. While Ring 2 can use your home’s wiring, you can skip that and use the included battery pack instead. You’ll just need to recharge it once in a while.

The Ring 2 records 1080p video and much like the Nest requires a subscription to view previous footage. If you don’t wire the doorbell into your home, you’ll need to buy a separate chime to hear when someone rings the doorbell. Ring does have Alexa integration, which includes doorbell announcements. That could negate the need for the separate chime purchase.

Best for Battery Power

Best for Renters: Ring Peephole Camera

A Ring Peephole camera mounted to a door, with someone looking through it.
Amazon

If you’re not allowed to make changes to your doorbell or other hardware, the Ring Peephole Camera is your best pick. Instead of replacing your existing doorbell, the Ring Peephole goes on your door. As the name suggests, it replaces the door’s peephole.

You can still use your peephole as you usually would, but it also doubles as a camera that can notify you of visitors. As a bonus, if someone knocks on the door, the camera will detect that and notify you.

Like the Ring 2, the Peephole camera records in 1080p resolution, uses a rechargeable battery, and features close integration with Alexa. Best of all, it comes with the necessary tools to install it. Since it doesn’t have a wiring option, you’ll have to buy a plug-in chime if you don’t want to rely on Alexa or phone notifications.

Best for Renters





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7 Creative Things to Do When You’re Bored

When you get time off from work or school, it feels like a blessing. However, what if you don’t want to waste that time browsing social media sites or binge-watching Netflix?

Thankfully, there are plenty of creative things you can do when you get bored. And if you find these creative activities relaxing, you’ll be spending your downtime being productive.

Here are some creative things to do when you’re bored.

1. Start a Fundraising Project

snow cone sale fundraise
Image Credit: Dr_Gomz/Pixabay

Lemonade stands, yard sales, bake sales—do whatever makes you happy. You don’t need to be an entrepreneur to get started with these ideas. And you can start out with few resources.

Have you got a day of boredom to kill? Set up a stand in the neighborhood and sell watermelon slices on a summer’s day. Or if you have an ice shaver machine at home, you can sell snow cones.

The small cash you make can be used for a good cause. Depending on the time you have, you can get creative with promotions and design fun and engaging posters for your project.

Go ahead and use social media to promote it. It can be a good way to connect with people on your friends list.

2. Learn a New Digital Skill

podcast setup
Image Credit: PIX1861/Pixabay

Learning might sound dull and dreary but you don’t have to limit yourself to learning how to create spreadsheets or how to start programming. There are a number of skills that can be both fun and educative.

For example, play with design software such as Photoshop or Gravit. They are very easy to use (but difficult to master), and if you have some quirky or funny quotes in mind, you can design T-shirts.

You could even post your T-shirt designs on Merch by Amazon to make some money.

Or if you have the gift of the gab, you can start a podcast


How to Start Your Own Successful Podcast




How to Start Your Own Successful Podcast

Podcasts can be heard by millions of people worldwide. Now it’s easier than ever to collaborate, record, edit, publish, and promote your own show. We show you how.
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. You don’t need to be too technical to begin an audio podcast. Just think about a topic you want to talk about and prepare the content. You can host the podcast at places like Podbean and Libsyn.

3. Set Up a Shop on Etsy or Fiverr

If you visit Etsy or Fiverr, you’ll find people selling all kinds of goods and services. While Etsy is for goods, Fiverr is mainly for services.

You can make clay pots or paper flowers in your free time and list them on Etsy. Or if you want to sell services, you can try anything from recording a puppet message to dressing up as a king and singing a rap song for someone’s birthday.

There are very few limits on what you can sell online. And those aren’t the only two selling platforms either. You can paint when you’re bored and sell it on Art Fire or Spoonflower.

4. Tidy Up Like Marie Kondo

Tidying up and decluttering is a good way to kill time. But if you’ve heard about Marie Kondo and her popular phrase “does it spark joy,” you already know the kind of tidying up we are talking about.

The KonMari method by Marie Kondo is a creative way to declutter your space and organize things. In this method, instead of focusing on what to get rid of, the focus is on what to keep. This change in mindset can help you declutter in a non-regretful way.

If you are going to throw away a thing because it’s practically useless but it does give you joy or happiness when you hold it, it’s best to keep it.

This method is diverse and can be applied to almost anything. In fact, you can even use the Marie Kondo method to declutter Twitter


You Can Now Declutter Twitter the Marie Kondo Way




You Can Now Declutter Twitter the Marie Kondo Way

Marie Kondo’s KonMari method may be best used for tidying houses, but it can also be used to declutter your Twitter feed.
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.

5. Organize Your Playlists According to Mood

A research paper by Teresa Lesiuk has shown that music boosts productivity. And of course, it kills boredom.

It’s worth spending time sorting your playlists; deleting old songs, and adding some new ones.

Different types of music can help with different moods. For example, when you’re working out, you might want energizing music that will help you exercise better.

If you’re feeling stressed due to all the work pressure, slow tempo music will work best as it soothes your mind. When you’re sad, create a playlist with fast tempo songs that can uplift your spirits.

6. Give Your Resume a Makeover

If you have a boring resume that lists your experiences and qualifications in the same old traditional format, now is the time you give it a creative makeover.

Why limit yourself to a text resume when you can create a video resume instead? Record a neat video and upload it to your YouTube channel.

You can also create an entire website about your portfolio and give prospective employers a link to it. Create a resume using Canva and add that to your website. It is a great way to display your experiences and qualifications in a visually appealing way. Here’s how to create a resume using Canva


How to Create a Resume From Scratch Using Canva




How to Create a Resume From Scratch Using Canva

In this article, we’ll show you how to create a resume using Canva and make your resume stand out from the crowd.
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to help you get started.

You can even create a booklet resume. Get someone on Envato to do the job for you if you lack the design skills.

7. Create a Capsule Wardrobe

capsule wardrobe
Image Credit: Mrs_schu/Pixabay

A capsule wardrobe is a wardrobe where you set aside specific clothes for a season.You mix and match these clothes with each other. These are the clothes you already have and love to wear. A capsule wardrobe typically works for about three months and then it needs to be updated for the next season.

It will let you get dressed quickly, always be in your favorite clothes, and have a neat closet.

When you create a capsule wardrobe, make sure you select a base color. Let’s say you selected black. Now you’ll have some black clothes in your wardrobe that will go with everything else.

Find More Ideas on Creative Websites

As we’ve explored in this article, there are a number of creative things you do when you’re bored. And if you ever run out of creative ideas, you can always visit sites such as Pinterest, Tumblr, and Dribble to find new inspiration.

While you would need to be at home to do most of these activities, there are also plenty of things to do online when you’re bored at work


20 Fun Things to Do Online When You’re Bored at Work




20 Fun Things to Do Online When You’re Bored at Work

These websites are guaranteed to ease your boredom at work. Because we know that even the best jobs have their bad points and those moments when boredom sets in.
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. They may not be particularly creative or productive, but they are fun.



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Want Airplay on Your Existing TV? You’re Stuck With Two Options – Review Geek

A man using AirPlay to cast Game of Thrones to his TV.
Apple

Apple’s AirPlay protocol allows you to cast video from your phone or laptop to a TV. It’s a useful feature, but if you want to add AirPlay support to an existing TV, you’re stuck with just two options.

Update Your Smart TV

A smart TV updating.
AFANASEV IVAN/Shutterstock

Smart TVs used to rarely come with AirPlay support. But earlier this year, LG, Sony, Samsung, and VIZIO announced that some of their smart TVs will gain AirPlay support through software updates. Additionally, certain new models from these companies will be released with AirPlay support out of the box.

To see if your TV will get AirPlay, take a look at Apple’s list of AirPlay-ready TVs. Some of the TVs on this list are labeled with the word “announced,” which simply means they don’t have AirPlay support yet, but they will in the future.

If your TV should have support and is fully updated but AirPlay isn’t working, it might not be turned on. Go to its settings, open the “General” menu, and look for an option to enable AirPlay.

Buy an Apple TV Streaming Box

A photo of the Apple TV4K streaming box.
Apple

If your TV doesn’t have AirPlay support built-in, you’re stuck buying an official Apple TV 4K streaming box. Maybe “stuck” isn’t the right word. These boxes have fantastic interfaces; they support 4K HDR video; and they work with a mess of streaming apps (including Netflix and Prime Video).

Yes, other versions of the Apple TV are cheaper than the Apple TV 4K—and they’ll work just fine with AirPlay. We specifically suggest buying the Apple TV 4K  because it’s future-proofed for 4K streaming, and it’s a bit faster than the other Apple TV products (for something this expensive, you want it to last as long as possible).

While it’s hard to justify a $140-$170 price tag if you’re just trying to mirror YouTube videos from your phone to your TV,  Apple isn’t handing out any other options. The company has made an incredible effort to crack down on third-party AirPlay support, and not a single third-party AirPlay receiver on the market actually works.

A Raspberry Pi Can Stream AirPlay Audio, But Not Video

The Raspberry Pi 4 logo over the Pi 4 circuit board.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation

The go-to answer for video streaming woes is usually “buy a Raspberry Pi,” or “use Kodi.” Well, sorry Buster, but Raspberry Pi and Kodi can’t save you from Apple’s tyranny.

Yes, the internet’s full of old Raspberry Pi AirPlay guides. When Apple rolled out the iOS 9 update (in 2015), however, third-party devices and software (including Pi and Kodi) completely lost their ability to stream AirPlay video.

But, and this isn’t much of a concession, the Pi can still stream AirPlay audio. We wouldn’t call this a great alternative to Bluetooth (which is supported by the Pi 3 B and the Pi 4), but it’s certainly an option that, you know, exists.

We suggest streaming AirPlay audio through the Kodi application on your Raspberry Pi. It’s a three-step process. Simply go to the Kodi settings, open the Services menu, and enable AirPlay.

If you want to make things more difficult for yourself, you could stream AirPlay audio through the Sharepoint-Sync software on your Pi. An installation and usage guide is available on the Sharepoint-Sync Github page.

Avoid Unofficial AirPlay Video Receivers

The VCAST unofficial AirPlay video receiver marked out with a big red X.
VCAST

In a pinch, unofficial AirPlay video receivers (like the VCAST Dongle) can be tempting. They’re cheap, they have decent reviews on Amazon, and they claim to work with a variety of casting protocols (DLNA, Google Cast) alongside AirPlay.

But these devices are garbage. Don’t buy them.

Again, Apple’s great at cracking down on unofficial AirPlay receivers. Even if one of these third-party receivers works right now, it won’t work forever. Not to mention, services like Netflix and Prime Video have protocol protection, which means they work only on streaming devices approved by the company.





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Disinfecting Surfaces? If You Don’t Let the Cleaner Sit, You’re Doing It Wrong – LifeSavvy

someone wearing green rubber gloves spraying cleaner on a surface and scrubbing it with a sponge
gorillaimages/Shutterstock

Disinfecting the kitchen counter or the bathtub? Just spray on some Lysol or bleach—and boom done, right? Not so fast. When it comes to disinfection, the “contact time” is a critical component.

Compounds that disinfect—like alcohol, bleach, and other disinfectants—all kill X biological substances on a surface over Y amount of time. The amount of time it takes to kill off microorganisms to the degree that the surface or material is considered sanitized or disinfected per standards organizations like the EPA publish is called “contact time.”

The majority of people concerned with contact time are people working in restaurants, food production facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, and other places where tight control over pathogens is critical. People cleaning their homes should be aware of it, too.

If you’re trying to sanitize your house after a nasty bout of food poisoning or a tenacious skin infection (like your kids brought ringworm home from summer camp), understanding the contact time for the disinfectant you’re using is critical. How do you know how long to leave it on the surface? When in doubt, as long as the product doesn’t indicate it needs to be removed, you can let it completely dry in place. If the product is labeled as disinfecting, however, it should also list the contact time. The contact time is a critical part of the claims you see on products like “Kill 99.9% of fungi, viruses, and bacteria.*” The asterisk always points to the fine print that says. “When used as directed.”

If you’re not following the contact time rules for the cleaner you’re using, you cannot be sure you’re actually sanitizing or disinfecting the surface.

For example, if you read the label on the back of the nearly ubiquitous Lysol disinfecting spray or check out the company’s web site, you’ll note they don’t use the term “contact time,” but they do expressly state how long you should leave it on:

Surfaces must remain wet for 3 minutes then allow to air dry. For Norovirus surfaces must remain wet for 10 minutes then allow to air dry.

Those kind of instructions aren’t a suggestion. They’re specifying under what conditions their product is considered sanitizing or disinfecting per EPA/CDC guidelines to meet the “99.9%” similar claim on the container.

So the next time you’re on a cleaning bender, focused on ridding your home of the last stubborn traces of the illness that took your family out of a commission for a week (or just trying to prevent an illness from doing so), make sure you check the instructions on the cleaner you’re using and leave the cleaner in place for the suggested duration.





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10 Ways to Check Which Linux Version You’re Running

Which version of Linux are you running? Ubuntu? Arch? Red Hat? No, that’s not what you really want to know, is it? What you want is the actual Linux version, or even the Linux kernel version.

After all, it’s not displayed anywhere, so how could you know? Here are nine commands to help check the Linux version and the Kernel version of your current distro.

OS Version or Kernel: What’s the Difference?

The first thing to check is whether you’re looking for the OS version or the Kernel version.

For example, if you’re using Ubuntu, you might want to check the version of the operating system. It could be 19.04, but is there a subsequent built number?

On the other hand, you may need to know the Linux kernel version. The Kernel is the core of Linux, the code that lets the software communicate with the hardware. Our guide to the Linux kernel


What Is a Kernel in Linux and How Do You Check Your Version?




What Is a Kernel in Linux and How Do You Check Your Version?

Linux is an operating system, right? Well, not exactly! It’s actually a kernel. But what is the Linux kernel?
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will explain this in more detail.

Show Your Linux Version on the Desktop

In addition to the nine command line options below, you can also check your Linux version from the desktop. This will differ depending on the desktop environment and operating system. However, if you want to check your Ubuntu version, your CentOS version, or whatever, without the command line, you can.

For example, to check your Ubuntu version from the desktop, go to System Settings > Details. Here, you’ll see the distro version you’re running. While this won’t give you as much detail as the command line, it is enough to confirm your Linux version.

How to Check Your Linux Distro and Kernel Version

As you’ll have gathered, the desktop will only give you the basic information concerning your Linux version. For more details, you’ll need to rely on the command line.

Various commands can be used to reveal interesting information about your Linux system. Along with the details of your Linux version, you can find out about the distribution release, codename, and Kernel. This information can prove useful for several reasons. You night need it for troubleshooting, for example, or simply to check if your Linux version has updated.

The following nine commands let you check your Linux version and Kernel version from the terminal.

1. Easily Show Your Linux OS Version With cat /etc/os-release

Check your Linux version with osrelease

Your first option is to check the os-release file in the /etc/ directory. This will provide quite a detailed account of your Linux operating system’s version. We can check this quickly using the cat (concatenate) command, which can be used to display or create new files.

cat /etc/os-release

Our example was tested with Ubuntu. Here, the OS name, full version, version ID, and codenames are listed.

2. Another Option to Check Your Linux Version: cat /etc/*release

Check your Linux version

Slightly more information can be gathered using the *release file instead. This displays all information from files ending with the word “release” in the /etc/ directory, concatenated into a single output.

cat /etc/*release

The output is largely the same as previously, but with additional distribution information.

3. Get Your Linux Version: cat /etc/issue

use the issue command to check your Linux version

For a more straightforward response to your request for a Linux OS version number, try this cat command.

cat /etc/issue

Here you’ll see the distro name and version. Simple!

4. Find Your Linux Distro Version: lsb_release -a

Use the lsb_release command to check your Linux version

The lsb_release command will display Linux Standard Base (lsb) information about your Linux distro.

lsb_release -a

Notice the name of the distributor, as well as the distro name, release, and codename. Again, this is a straightforward command with compact, clear results.

5. Display the Linux Kernel Version With hostnamectl

Check your version with hostnamectl

The hostnamectl command can be used to change the system hostname but used alone will display Linux version details.

hostnamectl

Using the command displays the hostname of the device, along with machine ID, and architecture. You’ll also find the Linux version and Linux kernel version displayed with this command.

6. Use uname -r to Check the Linux Kernel Version

Check your Linux kernel version with uname -r

Although the previous command displays details about the Linux kernel version, if that’s all want, try uname -r instead.

uname -r

This will output the version number for your distro’s Linux kernel. There’s no context to this, just the version number.

7. More Linux Kernel Details With uname -mrs

Check your inux kernel version with uname

Additional information about your current distro’s Linux version can be found by expanding the -r switch to -mrs.

languaguname -mrs

This has nothing to do with your wife or mother. Rather, the -mrs command provides information about the Kernel name and hardware version. In our example, we’ve run the command on a Raspberry Pi 4, which displays armv71. A 32-bit or 64-bit Intel/AMD-based architecture would show x86_64 instead.

8. Display More Linux Kernel Version Information: uname -a

Check your Linux kernel version with uname -a

Even more information can be displayed about your Linux kernel with the -a command extension.

uname -a

Using this, you’ll see the device name, Linux kernel version, release date, architecture, and full OS name (typically GNU/Linux


Why Hardly Anyone Calls Linux “GNU/Linux”




Why Hardly Anyone Calls Linux “GNU/Linux”

You’re interested in Linux and have read a few blog posts. Along the way, you’ve come across a funny name: GNU/Linux. But what does this mean?
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).

9. Detailed Linux Kernel Information With cat /proc/version

Check your Linux kernel version in the command line

The final option to check your Linux kernel version is another cat command. This uses the version file in the /proc directory.

cat /proc/version

You’ll find the version number of your current Linux kernel, compiled from information from the /proc/sys/kernel/ostype, /proc/sys/kernel/osrelease, and /proc/sys/kernel/version files. As noted earlier, the cat command concatenates information from various files, which is what is happening here.

Now You Know What Version of Linux You’re Running

With nine command line options and the details you can find in your distro’s chosen desktop environment, you should now know how to find your Linux OS version. Checking your Linux distro is easy—if you know how! Similarly, tracking down the details of your Linux kernel version should now also be clear.

Want to do more in the Linux terminal? Become a Linux command line master with these tips and tricks


Become a Linux Command Line Master With These Tips and Tricks




Become a Linux Command Line Master With These Tips and Tricks

Whether you’re brand new to Linux, or a seasoned Linux veteran, the command line offers a bevy of uses. Try these tips for mastering the command line.
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.



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When You’re Up To Shenanigans, You’re Acting Like What?

Common red fox
Jans Canon/Wikimedia

Answer: A Fox

When your elders yelled at you to stop all those shenanigans—or mischief-making behavior—they were effectively telling you to stop acting like a wily fox.

The root of the word shenanigans is, given the age of the phrase and the potential contenders, murky at best. However, among all the contenders, the most compelling possibility due to it having a similar sound and context is the Irish expression “sionnachuighim”, which translates to “I play the fox”. It’s unsurprising that the Irish had an expression associating the fox with mischief-making and trickery since the fox features prominently in dozens of cultures around the world as a world-class mischief-maker.

In Finnish tales, the fox is a well-meaning trickster; in both Japanese and Korean folklore, foxes are mischievous and cunning spirits, and throughout both Western and Eastern literature, the fox appears repeatedly as a creature of great curiosity and mischief.





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Whatever it stands for, you’re deep in it

Pilot fish is tasked with evaluating help desk systems, and incidentally with giving the chosen system a name. When he submits his report on various off-the-shelf systems and the in-house option, he titles it “System for Helpful Information Tracking,” just for fun. His thought is that his manager will catch that the name forms an unfortunate acronym, they’ll have a laugh, and then they’ll give it a new name before it starts up the line in the rather straitlaced insurance company they work for.

But manager doesn’t catch it and passes the report along before fish can stop by his office to have that expected laugh. Suddenly the little joke doesn’t seem so funny to fish, but there’s nothing he can do to stop the report’s progress through the ranks without calling attention to what is sure to be seen as a tasteless and unacceptable attempt at humor (which even fish wouldn’t argue against). Finally the report comes back from a very senior manager, which means it got through many levels of managers and vice presidents.

To read this article in full, please click here



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