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Frank Endrullat
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As you were.
As you were.

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I've been beta testing this iOS Mosh & SSH client for several months. It's now available on the App Store. I highly recommend it.

Blink has a funny interface for people used to iOS apps and not command lines—you use a command line shell interface to control it—and I can see that being a knock the average reviewer would probably give it. But to ask the obvious: why would you even use this if you aren't used to command lines?

I've found Blink extremely useful for many purposes:
• As an extra terminal logged into the same device as my workstation, which is very useful for things like watching logs or top while the main activity is on my main monitor
• When running around town, Blink on my iPad plus my Pixel's hotspot have spared me from needing to carry my laptop
• When you're on WiFi or you enable the Android hotspot, you can use Blink to shell into a Linux container (such as Termux) running on your phone or tablet, letting you sidestep the inconveniences of trying to work only with an onscreen keyboard
• My PC has been—rather annoyingly—refusing to wake up the screen on occasion, and I can use Blink to shell into Bash on Ubuntu on Windows which then lets me kick the display to make it wake up°
• It makes a good, easily portable interface into headless devices like my Raspberry Pi's.

It offers a bunch of goodies like verbose mode to debug your SSH and Mosh issues, the ability to use custom fonts and color themes, and ssh keys you can import and associate with different saved host logins.

Since $20 is a bit of an investment for a utility, I don't want to endorse it (especially to my most techie readers) without giving you the full picture. Its biggest shortcomings right now (some of which are tracked issues on its GitHub repo at https://github.com/blinksh/blink):
• Its CLI lacks ping or telnet, which would make it more useful as an essential addition to the sysadmin's toolkit
• It can't help but follow iOS's somewhat peculiar IP networking behavior, which can have odd results, especially over IPv6 connecting to both Mac/Linux/Unix and Windows hosts
• Even if you use mosh, I recommend you use screen or tmux on the remote side because it can get detached from the remote when you change networks (particularly if you move from an IPv4 network to IPv6 or back)
• Since the iPad Pro keyboard cover lacks an Esc key, the app offers several ways to send escape but all have tradeoffs. (If you never use Escape by itself but always as a prefix, you can just set it to Option and it will act like a Meta key, but if you do need to use Escape by itself, there's no great choice. The most attractive might be to use Caps Lock, but Blink can't work around Caps Lock being a global iOS switch, so while Caps Lock as Esc doesn't cause caps locking inside Blink, if you use Caps Lock as the escape key an odd number of times and then switch to another iOS app, your typing will be caps locked in that app. vi users may find this especially annoying, but I don't know of a better solution.)
• I have a hardware keyboard for my iPad Pro, so I can't comment on how good its workarounds for the deficiencies of an onscreen touch keyboard are. I also don't have an iPhone, so I can't comment on how it works on a small screen.

Even if you have other options for connecting to remote hosts from your iPad like remote desktops, I've found Blink to be much more reliable (and of course, lower bandwidth, latency and overhead than any remote desktop software).

Long story short: if you're comfortable with Mosh or SSH and have a use for this, Blink is well worth twenty bucks.


° If you happen to be a Windows expert who have an idea about how I might go about diagnosing what makes this happen, please, let me know.

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From Swansea University[1][2] we learn that the IBM 1620 was so slow - this million dollar computer(*) with just 8k memory - that the operators would have time to attend nearby dances while jobs were running. Also, the FORTRAN compiler was so slow to run they made a subset called GOTRAN with only 12 statements, suitable for student projects and simpler programs - it stayed resident, unlike the real thing, which could take longer to load than to run.

We also learn that the new Physics building had a sound-proof computing room: "As only mechanical calculators were envisaged, the room was provided with sound insulation. By the time the room was in use, calculators had become silent, and it was not much longer before everyone had their own basic calculator and did not need to go to a special-purpose room to do their calculations."

(*)That's a million in today's money.

See also +Nicolás Wolovick's recent post on recovering Basic for the 1620:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+Nicol%C3%A1sWolovick/posts/YWCj4oq1LhU

[1] Colin Evans' recollections:
http://hocc.swansea.ac.uk/node/48
[2] The IBM 1620: Swansea University's first digital computer
http://www.swansea.ac.uk/iss/archive-and-research-collections/hocc/computersandsoftware/earlycomputers/ibm1620/

via the computer history book at
http://hocc.swansea.ac.uk/book/export/html/5
which takes you from slide rules to the world wide web, with some broken links unfortunately. Now reformatted with some missing links at
http://www.swansea.ac.uk/iss/archive-and-research-collections/hocc/

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A fabulous video documentary about #narcolepsy by CIT Masters student Ryan Price in the Irish Examiner today featuring two stellar young adults who are living with it.

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I don't comment on Hacking Team as they are a waste of time, However, an analysis of how they messed up their encryption on their malware packer is a good educational case example of how subtle mistakes can totally mess you up implementing cryptogrtaphy. Yep, math is hard. So we can all learn from their mis-steps. http://goo.gl/ruzGiM

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What a day for Ahmed Mohammed

I'm trying to mostly focus on the positive aspects of what happened to Ahmed today.

-First and foremost, Ahmed seems determined to continue being creative. A setback coming from a deep misunderstanding didn't stop him. Creativity isn't a straight path, it's a twisted path full of hurdles and difficulties.

-Ahmed found a great balance between working on something on his own (which is a great way to get a more personal relationship with the problems at hand, as a first step toward gaining a deep understanding) and getting advice from someone with more knowledge (which is the best way to get direction and learn faster).

-In the big picture, the broad support for Ahmed sends the strong message that it's OK to be a geek, to be a tinkerer, to be a hacker.

-At a very personal level, I've always struggled with electronics, so I'm looking at Ahmed as a role model, and I'm feeling inspired to get a few components and try to put something together... though I'm probably far from being able to create an actual clock.

-Finally, a question: what role can I play? (Edit: Specifically, what role can I play to help someone in a similar position to Ahmed's, interested in learning?) I can write about what I do, at least when I'm actually doing things, but I wonder what other options I might have.

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True.

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How to play on an iPad...
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Looking for a new way to cook your Thanksgiving turkey? NASA Goddard & Gizmodo have some hi-tech ideas: http://gizmo.do/rm0zbC 

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Amazing Tree Sculpture of an Owl :)
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