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The State of Television Around Here

By Dennis E. Powell | Sep 14, 2022 at 9:45 AM

It was expensive as mute buttons go. That seems clear to me, but anyone else might need a little explanation. For the last number of years I have had in my bedroom what was the cheapest little flat-screen television that WalMart had to offer in about 2015, so it wasn’t much good seven years ago and today no one would purchase even a telephone with its low video specifications and lack of inputs.

How to Go on Vacation Without Going

By Timothy R. Butler | Sep 07, 2022 at 11:11 PM

Everyone loves to show off some photos of their latest trip or family party. So, here I’ll share some to start off this week’s column. Never mind if you would rather not see my family’s party or my vacation — these aren’t those anyway. I’ve been under-the-weather and keeping my distance from folks. Here’s another secret though: they aren’t anybody’s.

This One Was a Real Celebration

By Dennis E. Powell | May 04, 2022 at 2:37 PM

It started before the pandemic, but the pandemic let it take root and become the norm. We don’t often have funerals any more, at least not religious services in which we mourn the departed and beg God to welcome our dead friend or relative into the splendor of eternal Heavenly life. Instead, the obituary now frequently ends with “A celebration of life will take place at a later date.”

It's Time for Smart Homeowners

By Dennis E. Powell | Apr 27, 2022 at 10:40 PM

Science fiction literature is full of situations where electronic devices become self aware and begin making their own decisions. Some of us, I suppose, have come to think that it’s ultimately inevitable.

Linux, Signal, Proton, and Security

By Dennis E. Powell | Apr 20, 2022 at 10:00 PM

Just now, as is the case each morning, I opened a terminal window on my computer’s desktop and typed a command: “apt update”. The window filled with characters as each of several online “repositories” was checked. Soon I was given a list of the software packages, including the operating system itself, that had security updates and bug fixes available. There being some, I then typed “apt upgrade” and a minute or two later those fixes had been downloaded and installed.

Shining a Light into the Mysteries of 2022 Apple Products

By D. Griffin Jones | Dec 23, 2021 at 1:18 PM

New OFB contributor D. Griffin Jones peers into 2022 and offers a roundup of everything Apple is expected to release in the upcoming year.

The Missed Third Act of the Apple Touch Bar

By Timothy R. Butler | Oct 29, 2021 at 9:38 PM

I’m a bit of a contrarian on a lot of things, but usually I understand the opposing majority. With the critics of the Apple Touch Bar, though, I am stumped. While the new 14” and 16” MacBook Pros portend an exciting new era for Apple users, I mourn the little keyboard touch screen it comes at the cost of. It didn’t need to die.

The Year When the Cheapest Mac was the Best

Apple's M1 Ushered in High End Performance for Average Users

By Timothy R. Butler | Oct 20, 2021 at 1:15 PM

Since its introduction, no one has ever mistaken the Macintosh as the cheap option for computers. Nor would anyone who watched Apple’s launch of its insanely fast M1 Pro and Max chips on Monday argue that the new MacBook Pros are cheap. However, when the dust settles, the previous reigning top Apple Chip — the M1 — will still be the one that created a year when the cheapest Mac was the best Mac and one of the best computers, period.

Time for a Digital Declaration of Independence

By Dennis E. Powell | Oct 13, 2021 at 11:50 AM

Facebook was down for several hours last week. Wise people considered the incident “a good start.” This came after testimony before a Congressional committee in which Facebook was shown to be engaged in the promotion of things harmful to children in order to make a buck.

The Way to Survive Frustrating Tech Failures (and What that Says About Masks)

By Timothy R. Butler | Sep 15, 2021 at 12:32 PM

I told my friend Dennis E. Powell that I’m starting to believe in Skynet. Over the last week, virtually everything that could go wrong with the technology I depend on for work has gone wrong, as if it has actively turned against me. Having spent a fair number of years wrangling information technology, one thing has always provided a path to survival in those times: redundancy. Redundancy masks problems in the best of ways, much like the physical masks that are such a lightning rod in our culture today.

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