Simply Amazing

The first computer I ever encountered was the SAGE system (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) used by the 33rd Air Defence Command at Fort Lee, VA. This 1950’s behemoth consumed as much floor space as offered by an average-sized ranch-style house. This thing used vacuum tubes and each tube was individually air-conditioned. You did not just walk thru the computer room, you also walked through the computer.

Earlier this year, I purchased a TonidoPlug2. This is a Linux machine that fits in the palm of your hand. It runs on a trickle of current and can be connected to your router via either Ethernet or Wi-Fi. Mine has a terabyte of storage and is essentially a file server that I can access from anywhere . . . including my tablet.

Then there’s the Raspberry Pi, a pocket-sized PC that costs $35.00. Like the TonidoPlug2, you have to supply the storage – in this case, an SD Card – and uses the Linux operating system. Of course, you’ll need a monitor but it has a HDMI connection so all you need there is a TV w/ HDMI. Add a keyboard and you’re good to go.

Tech Republic has a gallery that documents the unboxing of the Raspberry Pi from the shipping folder to being hooked up and ready to go. They also have a gallery with 5 alternatives to the Pi. Even if you’re not interested in owning one of these puppies, the photo galleries are worth a look!

Sometimes, I think that we take the amazing modern world in which we live for granted. Admittedly, I’ve been fascinated with computing ever since I used a Hewlett Packard programmable calculator at North Carolina Wesleyan College in 1974. (I think that my program had something to do with calculating Caddis Fly populations in Ecology.) My wife -NCWC  ’75 – groans every time I get a hold of a new computing gadget or some other such bit of technology.

What I’m going to relate here is pretty basic yet provides one of those “Wow” moments when you stop to think about how it all happens.

Yesterday, I installed a new WordPress plugin that would add my signature to the bottom of all of my posts and pages. It was a pretty new plugin and thus there were some minor problems.

  • The page to manage the settings was all in German
  • The signature went on everything – both posts and pages
  • There was no way to selectively disable the signature on certain pages
  • There was no basic documentation for the perpetually confused

There was a link to the plugin website and once I got there, I found that the site was all in German too. Not to worry. All I had to do was push a button on the web page and everything was translated into English. I posted a message mentioning the above problems and figured that was the end of it.

Earlier today, I was watching CBS “This Morning” and using my tablet to check e-mail at the same time. I dropped by this site’s administration page and noticed that there was one plugin update; For the very plug-in I mentioned above.

Around 9:00, I went into the office, fired up my Dell Studio pc with a quad core motherboard and prepared to rant a bit. Out of curiosity, I checked the settings page for the signature plugin and found that:

  • Everything was in English
  • I could choose to add my signature to only my Posts
  • I could choose to add my signature to only my Pages
  • I could choose to add my signature to both Posts and Pages

As of this writing, the authors have not added documentation nor did they implement the option for selected pages. Frankly, I was not expecting that last bit as it would take a fair bit of coding to accomplish.

So what had happened in less than 14 hours was this:

  • I installed a WordPress plugin and found some areas for improvement
  • I went to a German website which was translated into English at the click of a button
  • I made some suggestions for improvements
  • I updated the plugin with fully half of my suggested improvements implemented the next morning.

Simply Amazing!!!!


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