PHX Sky Train Art Tours

The PHX Sky Train opens tomorrow and the art is the attraction! Learn about a tour that takes place tomorrow that showcases the new public art.

Sky Train Public Art Tours

The Sky Harbor Airport’s PHX SkyTrain opens tomorrow, after some hiccups and delays. It will make traveling between light rail, the east economy parking garages, and Terminal 4 easier. (The remaining terminals as well as the rental car center will be linked in 2015 and 2020, respectively.)

Come see the spectacular public art at each of the new SkyTrain stations! A tour begins at 12:15pm from the 44th St SkyTrain station. (Unlike the image above, the tours are tomorrow and not in 100 years!)

Pictures will follow.

Linux Chronicles: Dell Latitude XT2

It might seem difficult getting your new Dell Latitude XT2 to work with Ubuntu; however, taken one step at a time, it’s pretty easy.

My Dell Latitude XT2I got a new computer the other day. Well, that’s a partial truth — it’s a machine that’s new to me. (The machine was shipped to its original customer in February 2010.) It’s a Dell Latitude XT2, a notebook computer that converts into a tablet PC with a resistive touchscreen. It came with a neat little stylus that works quite well for being a pressure-activated screen!

I bought the machine from Dell Financial Services’ Direct Sales unit for cheap. With shipping and a one-year warranty, I only spent about $500. By comparison, when the machine was shipped new in 2010, the street retail price started just under $2,000! It was a good purchase for me because as I’m starting to run more and more errands for my consulting, sometimes schlepping around an iPad alone just doesn’t cut it. There are times when it’s important to have a full computer. As I do a lot of commuting by bicycle and public transportation, I also don’t want my MacBook Pro to suffer the wear and tear of my commute…or worse, get damaged or destroyed if I were to get in an accident. The XT2 was a small purchase that, although I’d be sad to destroy or damage this machine, I can afford to purchase a replacement should I need to.

Enough philosophy: let’s get to running Ubuntu on this machine. The machine came shipped with Windows Vista but that was the first thing to go. I replaced it with Ubuntu 12.04.2, codenamed Precise Pangolin within minutes of turning it on for the first time just to make sure that it worked well. I read through several online guides about how to make this machine work and although the steps seemed daunting, I found that they were largely unnecessary and not needed. In simple terms, my steps were this:

  1. Ensure that the system OS is up to date with the latest standard Ubuntu kernel
  2. Update the system’s BIOS to the latest version (at this writing, it’s version A12)
  3. Check the system BIOS to see what wireless cards are enabled or disabled
  4. Install the Magick Rotation utility
  5. Have a lot of fun!

If you’re interested in my steps that I took in greater detail, I’ll go through them. Do note that most all of this is done from the terminal so your typing accuracy has to be spot on. Your results, although they should be like mine, may vary: please make a backup of your data before embarking on this journey (and don’t blame me if anything bad happens!).

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Speedbird in Phoenix

Even caught on an iPhone, a Boeing 747 is still a thing to behold.

As seen from a few meters away: the daily British Airways (callsign: Speedbird) flight from London to Phoenix lands at Sky Harbor International Airport. Even caught informally by an iPhone, it’s still an impressive sight to behold.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vb5cwUL4dCY

Living post-password

Passwords are a façade of Internet security. Learn how to live post-password.

passwordPasswords and passphrases. I hate them.

Yes, I used the ‘h’ word. Passwords and passphrases give people the illusion of safety and security when they are one of the easiest things to crack. I cringe when I come across major banks whose login mechanisms are weaker than, say, Facebook’s mechanisms.

I’ll admit that the inspiration for this post came back in November after reading the story of Mat Honan in WIRED Magazine. The article’s linked but I’ll summarize: Mr. Honan had his entire digital life wiped away because a hacker could defeat his email account password.

Do I have your attention? Good. Because for the next few paragraphs, I’ll showcase some alternatives and addition to passwords and some questions that you need to ask yourself about your own computing practices. Continue reading “Living post-password”

Downtown Technology Company to rebrand, relaunch as techstudioworks

Continuing the tradition of excellence of Downtown Technology Company, it was announced today that the firm has begun its next chapter as techstudioworks, a full-service technology studio, consulting service, and education resource based in central Phoenix, Arizona.

tsw-interimLogoPHOENIX, ARIZONA (1 April 2013) — Continuing the tradition of excellence of Downtown Technology Company, it was announced today that the firm is going to begin its next chapter as techstudioworks, a full-service technology studio, consulting service, and education resource based in central Phoenix.  The new firm will maintain its commitment to all existing contracts and business.

The firm will continue the celebrated tradition of Edward Jensen’s unique hands-on approach to technology support, design, and education.  He returns fully to the private sector after working for Arizona School for the Arts, a performing arts charter school just outside downtown Phoenix, where he helped craft the school’s technology aspirations alongside helping the school’s 80 faculty and staff with daily technology needs.

“I have always taken pride in my hands-on approach with my clients: be they successful nonprofits, individuals in our community, or faculty at a school,” said Jensen.  “It has struck me as odd that there are people in many disciplines who do not recognize the value of a hands-on approach.  The new firm with the new name really emphasizes that we’re not a technology company; instead, we are a technology studio.  And I strongly believe that it’s a very important difference.”

Like Downtown Technology Company, techstudioworks will continue to provide a wide array of solutions for its clients across diverse disciplines.  Central to the firm’s mission is hands-on research-guided education on various technology themes, including owner Edward Jensen’s popular series of introductory and intermediate lectures on computer use geared toward K-12 students and senior citizens.  In addition to its strong education component, the firm will collaborate with its clients to provide, maintain, and strategically plan an online and digital presence, including social media.  All of the firm’s services are guided by a continuous emphasis on technology research, including emerging technology, new media, and technology policy.

about Edward Jensen: Edward Jensen is the owner and president at techstudioworks, a technology studio in central Phoenix.  He brings a celebrated hands-on approach to his work in advancing clients’ and organizations’ technology needs through education and research.  A lifelong Phoenix resident, he serves on the boards of several prominent local organizations.  For details, visit edwardjensen.net.

about techstudioworks: The result of years of study into technology education, techstudioworks is a new approach in providing technology services to clients across diverse disciplines.  Not your ordinary technology consultancy company, it is a technology studio where owner Edward Jensen collaborates with his clients to find the best technology solutions and provide comprehensive technology education, all guided by relevant research.  For details, visit techstudioworks.com.

Monday Thinking: The Anyway Rules

A reminder for Monday: Do good anyway.

tumblr_ls57vmTBWj1qij8g6These rules, originally titled The Paradoxical Commandments, were written by Kent Keith for a book for emerging student leaders. (I call them the Anyway Rules.) They were made famous by the Mother Teresa as these were an inscription in her home for children.

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.

Just do good anyway.

Creative Computing I: Linux on Netbooks

Computing in K-12 educational environments takes creativity especially when resources are scarce.

One of the big initiatives that I worked on at/for Arizona School for the Arts was the creation and standardization of mobile computer labs (MCLs for short) around the campus. The centerpiece of this initiative is a fleet of fifty MacBooks — more on that in another post. Predating those MacBooks is a collection of about thirty netbooks, or sub-notebooks: computers that are inexpensive but are woefully underpowered. On a good day, the netbooks could barely run Windows. On a bad day, they just didn’t work.

Ubuntu on NetbooksWhile it’s the dream of many in the faculty as well as the school’s administration to replace those netbooks with MacBooks, that’s a pipe dream that won’t happen. The least expensive Mac notebook is $1,000; it’d be foolish to spend that money. We’ve got these netbooks so let’s make them work better. Seeing how Windows is too bloated for the limited processing power of these machines, I thought of experimenting with a different operating system on these machines: Ubuntu Linux, a free/libre operating system.

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Five Wishes for @METROrail in 2013

METRO light rail turns 4 today. Here are five of my wishes for the system in 2013 and beyond.

METRO opening 27 December 2008It’s hard to believe that we’ve had METRO light rail in Phoenix now for four years. It was on this day in 2008 when METRO trains first officially carried passengers across twenty miles in central Phoenix, downtown Tempe, and west Mesa. (The picture, right, is from the Encanto/Heard Museum platform just after the first trains started rolling on METRO’s opening day.)

As we look ahead to the future of public transportation in the Valley of the Sun, and as a very frequent rider, I have some observations and wishes for our beloved transit system in the coming year. They’re after the jump.

Continue reading “Five Wishes for @METROrail in 2013”

Rainy day quick hit: Google Maps for iOS

Dear Apple (if you’re reading this post): Leave mapping to the experts; your customers have spoken.

iPhone App StoreQuick two-sentence post for a rainy evening in the desert…

You know that it says something about the quality of Apple’s native mapping application when, not quite twenty-four hours after its release, Google Maps for iOS (well, iPhone/iPod touch at the moment) is the number 1 rated free application for download.

Dear Apple (if you’re reading this post): Leave mapping to the experts; your customers have spoken.