Jim Brown's Home Page

Reading

I'm currently reading Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World--and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling. If you have never seen one of Rosling's TED presentations of world stats, you ought to go watch one. They are entertaining and enlightening. This book is also. Highly recommended.Posted: 2018-04-25 08:16

Windows 10 Info

I keep notes on questions (and my answers) that people asked me about Windows 10 in a course that I used to teach. There are also some links to Windows 10 information on the web. You can go here to see them.Posted: 2018-04-17 14:05

Who to Read?

It’s hard to get thoughtful, unbiased coverage of what’s going on in our federal government these days. The “mainstream media” is generally liberal and reports everything that Trump does with a negative spin. Most of the time, that spin is deserved. But I want to read a conservative, Republican viewpoint so that I can decide if Trump is doing a good job or a bad job overall. He’s certainly done some good things with regulatory reform and reducing the size of government. He’s also made a lot of mistakes and I don’t think he learns from his mistakes. We’ll see. If you’re like me, looking for someone to give a balanced opinion, try reading Peggy Noonan. She was Reagan’s top speech writer and continues to provide thoughtful opinions about government.Posted: 2018-03-08 09:31

Macbook Pro

Much of the information in posts earlier than this one is now outdated. In August 2017, I bought a Macbook Pro. Intially I bought it to sync my calendar with my iPhone and iPad and to learn to use a Mac. It has, however, become my most used machine. One reason is that it came with an SSD and thus was faster than my Windows machine, which had a traditional HDD. That is no longer true as the Mac's speed inspired me to install an SSD in my Windows machine. So it's now fast, too. But I find myself reaching for the Mac when I just have to take care of day-to-day computing. As a consequence, all the references below to note-taking and scripts has now been replaced by their Mac equivalents. I'll write more about those later.Posted: 2018-01-19 18:09

Ad Blockers

I formerly used a hosts file to block domains from which ads are served. (If you want to know how to do this, go to this page.) In the past few weeks I've seen a new response from some web sites that pop-up a window that asks to be white-listed or to pay a fee to continue to read. Guess the site owners are tired of not getting their ad revenue. Can't blame them.Posted: 2016-12-02 09:14

Batch Files

Batch files are command-line scripts for Windows. They can be used to automate tasks on your computer. Batch files or scripts can be used for backup, moving to a project-related directory, cleaning up your hard drive, and almost any other task you can do from within Windows.

The Windows batch scripting "language" is not as fully capable as *nix shell scripting. Microsoft has provided a new tool, PowerShell, to improve Windows scripting capability. PowerShell gets good reviews, but it is a completely new language that I haven't gotten into yet, so you will not see much about it here.

Batch files, with the file extension .bat, have been around since DOS. The commands available for scripting have increased significantly since Windows NT and scripts that take advantage of those additional commands may have a file extension of either .bat or .cmd, the latter indicating that NT and later commands have been used and the script likely will not run under DOS or Windows 9x. I'll be writing more about specific batch scripts that I use, but here is an article on batch file basics that is more complete than I would ever provide. I have not read the book from which the article is taken, but it gets good reviews and the same author has written an update entitled Windows 7 and Vista Guide to Scripting, Automation, and Command Line Tools that covers Windows 7 and PowerShell. But the linked article will get you started on the basics of batch files.Posted: 2014-12-10 16:03

Windows Command Line

I use the command line in Windows a lot. Almost all of my backup and other disk cleanup activities are done through batch files (command line scripts), which are just automated typing of command line commands. For someone like me that likes to use text files for all the important stuff, learning to use the command line in Windows is the key to productivity. Best tutorial I've found for this is Zed Shaw's Command Line Crash Course. Go read it. Posted: 2014-01-21 09:34