Bookmarks with a Twist

By P. Todd Decker

Do you use multiple browsers, multiple computers, and multiple ‘smart’ devices and want to have a directory of web sites common to them all without depending upon a particular vendor?

Do you ever use a friend’s computer, work computer , or ‘cyber cafe’ kiosk and want access to the same list?

Do friends ever ask, “Do you know of any good websites about topic X?” to which you would like to easily be able to respond without headaches, retyping, mailing, etc.?

If any of these occur, then a ‘social bookmarking‘ tool might something to add to your online toolkit.

I have been using Pinboard for several months now. You can fairly easily import all your existing bookmarks from your browsers to seed your directory. After doing so, I cleared them out and replaced them with a simple link to Pinboard. I then installed the tagging tools to my bookmark bars and have slowly been cleaning them up (proper tagging and fixing dead URLs). I like Pinboard because it is still relatively non-commercial, gets the work done, and has a fairly clean interface. It also allows you to mark entries and tags as private. I use a private tag of “.reverify” to track the links I need to check.

You can access my Pinboard using the link in the Resources section of this site.

P. Todd

Raspberry Pi Alive and Kicking

Raspberry Pi

By P. Todd Decker

With only about 20 minutes of work, once I had the right supporting peripherals, I was able to get my Raspberry Pi up and running. Amazing little computer that I will be using as a master controller for Ashley’s continued quadrotor robotics experiments (resources) and a controller for my aquaponics garden (resources)

I’m using the Occidentalis v0.2 Linux distribution from Adafruit with a Ourlink 802.11n USB wireless adapter, Belkin powered 4-port USB hub, MC SAite mini keyboard, an old wireless mouse from Embarq marketing days, and a cheap 19″ HDMI Sansui monitor from Walmart.

Adafruit provides step-by-step tutorials that couldn’t make it any easier to get started.

P. Todd

Update: 4:03pm

With just a little more work, you can also set up the Raspberry Pi so that you can (once configured) drop the direct attached monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Then just use your primary desktop to access it remotely with both a graphical interface (via VNC), terminal (standard SSH), and file sharing (Mac Finder).

Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 3.55.24 PM

Back to the Future

Back to the FutureBy P. Todd Decker

Today I turn a new page. Well, really, back to an old page.

Long ago in the late 1990s I started maintaining a “web log” (as it was called back then) on my hand maintained, static HTML, web site. It was my horrible attempt at what quickly became coined a ‘blog’ and I just as quickly let it go stale. At the time, blog entries seemed to be something one spent huge amounts of time to craft, edit, tweak, and publish. I didn’t take that time. And, it seemed too narcissistic.

Later I tried again with a site dubbed “Rambling Mind Blasts.” I had changed my philosophy and felt that perhaps blogs were about quick thoughts and passing fancies. Something that did not have to be perfect and could be quickly published. I had grand plans for writing some code to dynamically generate the pages, archives, calendar views, etc. But, it too was hand maintained, other projects had greater priority, and it quickly faded.

Facebook by now had opened up to the public and I no longer needing to be a student for an account. Friendster had died. MySpace was fading fast. Blogger was coming along. Then Twitter. And, Tumblr. Even LinkedIn has slowly gained its ability to support posts. I won’t even mention Instagram and Foursquare. All in all many tools competing to be the mouthpiece of the social voice.

Through this third wave I was sucked into the Facebook world for my personal social networking and LinkedIn for my professional side. Facebook was easy. It was convenient. And, despite having to constantly police privacy policy changes, blocking game feeds, building groups, watching the reach of my posts fade every time the Zucker-crew tried to guess which of my friends might want to see my posts, it works–for the most part. While I couldn’t really have more static non-news feed page content, I could easily pass along other people’s content, write quick posts, write long posts, and enter into social debates. But, somehow, I felt like I was losing control. I no longer felt like I had my own personal electronic space.

So, I am changing that.

Going forward, I am going back to the concept of a private blog–this time with a distribution twist. Any content I develop will live in my own personal space–this new incarnation of Rambling Mind Blasts. But, I will still echo the content in the public social networks by providing links back to my space. My posts still have visibility in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Tumblr but they redirect back here. Back to my house. Where I control what happens to it, how much is retained, how it looks, and how it feels. And, as commercial social nets come and go, wax and wane, adjust policies, change strategies, evolve, and devolve, Rambling Mind Blasts will maintain its independence.

Welcome back to the future.

P. Todd