Geek News

Is OpenNIC a reliable DNS service?

ComputerGuru -

I was asked the question, "Is OpenNIC a reliable DNS service?" As a systems administrator on a private network, being able to create and customize a DNS server adds some management features that would not apply to the average home based web surfer.

This question was asked with the reason for using OpenNIC is to add an extra layer of privacy to your web browsing. The belief, or perhaps paranoia, is that DNS servers are able to log your requests, and by doing so they have a record of sites you have visited. The question is asked in the context that your DNS provided by your ISP is a source to track where you have been on the internet, and by using an alternative DNS service that eliminates that extra potential layer of tracking, thereby creating more privacy.

If you want to start playing around with alternative DNS solutions you need to understand the risks as well as the benefits.

First let's take a quick look at the definition of DNS (Domain Naming Service)

  • DNS is a distributed database of Domain Names and their corresponding IP Addresses.
  • DNS makes it possible to attach hard to remember IP addresses to easy to remember domain names
  • DNS translates between meaningful host names and IP addresses. It is a hierarchical naming system used to give each server on the Internet a unique name.
  • DNS keeps a complete listing of all FQDNs (Fully qualified domain names) and their associated IP address.

What is OpenNIC?

OpenNIC, an open source DNS provider, an organization of hobbyists who run an alternative DNS network.

Is OpenNIC a reliable DNS service?

A quick look at some data found in the links below tell me that OpenNIC, an open source DNS provider, does not appear to be as efficient as other DNS providers.

Comparing the performance of popular public DNS providers -|- Recommended Public DNS Servers

Based on the data in those two articles, and my personal experiences with open source, I would ask, why bother to use OpenNIC?

I have volunteered my time and have been an advocate of open source solutions for more than 20 years. I am happy to use and test open source solutions if I see a benefit in using them. If I felt the need to pursue an alternative DNS solution I would do more research, but based on what I see here, I just don't see a compelling reason to jump on the OpenNIC bandwagon.


The importance of DNS

As an IT professional I have often used the analogy that talking to business managers about maintaining a computer network is like talking about the plumbing. Many cost cutting managers see technology infrastructure as an expense to be reduced, rather than a resource to be managed. The need to replace the pipes is not something that gets discussed. That is, until the morning when there is no water coming from the pipes, and no one can flush the toilets, then it becomes mission critical.

Computer network services such as DNS are like the plumbing below the surface, as long as it is running and everything is working, no one gives it much thought. That is until you type in the name of a website into your browser, and you get the message: dns_unresolved_hostname The requested site could not be found in DNS.

This article puts DNS into perspective: Plan to transition Internet management sparks censorship fears

Quoting from that article:  *"The importance of DNS cannot be overstated. It is the Internet’s phonebook, connecting bizarre-looking IP addresses to the domain names with which all Internet users are familiar. When someone types **Google* (http://google.com)* into their browser, their request goes through a DNS server, which understands that the user is looking for one of Google‘s many servers, including 195.122.30.25. If that routing information were compromised or corrupted, whether intentionally or accidentally, it could severely disrupt the basic flow of traffic over the Web."*

Digging deeper with DNS

Sounds simple on the surface, but when you look at DNS as a tool to deceive and mis-direct people, it gets a little deeper.

Over the years I've written quite a bit about internet laws and proposed legislation. In 2011 the world was up in arms about PIPA (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act.) The well meaning and good intentions of the US Congress was to shut down rogue websites and reduce the sale of counterfeit goods.

One of the provisions of the proposed law PIPA was allowing the government to remove rogue websites from the Domain Name System (DNS). Of course the internet purists were screaming about too much government control of the internet. (Ironically these same groups are now screaming for more government control of the internet with net neutrality regulations.)

Digging through some old notes I found this article explaining PIPA:  DNS filtering: absolutely the wrong way to defend copyrights

I have digressed a bit from the context of the original question, but I wanted to try to explain why the question might matter to someone beyond the simple answer, and why changing your DNS server is not something to be taken lightly.
 

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Home computer networks explained Wi-Fi and wireless access points

ComputerGuru -

Setting up your home network can get confusing as street slang dominates many forums and internet discussions.  Just about any plastic box with wires coming out of it is often called a modem or a router, in reality it may be neither.

Here at the Guru42 Universe we will do out best to sort through all the geek speak.  It is important to have a basic understanding of all the buzzwords when you are setting up your home computer network.  Depending on your Internet Service Provider and the service you are buying, the device they supply will vary and what you need to connect is not a one size fits all answer.

Your ISP (Internet Service Provider) may provide you with a "residential gateway" that allows you to connect to the internet. You then purchase an internet appliance that is often called a "wireless router" to attach it.  People get confused because many small technology appliances made for home use are actually several devices in one.  One of my pet peeves on is when people use the term "wireless router" to describe a variety of devices. Typically what most people call a wireless router is a combination of a router, a wireless access point, and a network switch.

Do I need a modem to access the Internet?

A modem is a MOdulator-DEModulator, as in a modulator which creates an analog signal such as the type needed in POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service), and a demodulator which converts the modulated carrier back to something that can be used in a digital circuit. Most modern communications use digital lines so the need to convert (MOdulate-DEModulate) is no longer necessary.

Often the word modem is used as a generic word for any device that connects your home network to an internet service providers network. Typically in modern home computing when someone uses the term modem they are talking about a  "residential gateway" provided to them by their ISP.

What confuses matters even more is that the device supplied by the ISP could be a multi-function technology appliance that contains a router, an Ethernet switch, and a WAP (wireless access point), and possibly other functions related to a home networks such as a firewall.

What is a wireless access point?

A Wireless Access Point (WAP) is a networking hardware device which, as the name describes, gives you wireless access to your LAN (local area network).  You have a wired connection, an ethernet 8P8C (8 position 8 contact) modular connectors port in your wall, that is wired access. You want to convert that to a wireless access point.

A Wireless Access Point has nothing to do with routing or switching.In a very small home network the WAP could be part of one appliance that has multiple features.  What many people call a router in their home may actually be a router, and a switch, and a wireless access point.

The terms "wireless access point" and "Wi-Fi" are not synonyms.

In online forums people often use the terms  "wireless access point"  and "Wi-Fi" to mean a hotspot, as in any type of public internet access.

A Wireless Access Point (WAP) is a device that offers, as the name suggests, wireless access to a wireless local area network (WLAN).  While cell phone technology is often discussed as a form of wireless networking, it is not the same as the wireless local area network (WLAN) technology discussed here.   In computer networking you would use the term Wireless Access Point (WAP) to identify the device being used, and the term Wi-Fi to identify the specific technology. rather than Wi-Fi access point.

Specifically the term "Wi-Fi" is a trademark of a trade association known as the Wi-Fi Alliance. The marketing company Interbrand, known for creating brand names, was hired to create a brand name to market the new technology, and the name Wi-Fi was chosen. The term "Wi-Fi" with the dash, is a trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance.

From a technical perspective WLAN technology is defined by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). IEEE 802 refers to a family of IEEE standards dealing with networks carrying variable size packets, which makes it different from cell phone based networks,  802.11 is a subset of the family specific to WLAN technology. Victor "Vic" Hayes was the first chair of the IEEE 802.11 group which finalized the wireless standard in 1997.

How are wireless access points used?

In the business world Wireless Access Points (WAP) are fairly common. On a business network your desktop computers (workstations) are connected via wire, but you probably have several WAPs (Wireless Access Points) for your laptop users.

If you are a visitor to a business network you may notice WAPs set up for office staff as well as visitors. This is becoming very common. You see this in government locations, perhaps even where you get your car serviced you can take your notebook into a lounge where you can use a "guest network" to connect to the internet.

Let's say you have a large home, and it is wired for data, as in it has ethernet ports through out your home. You want to convert that to a wireless access point. It has nothing to do with routing or switching. In wireless communications the "media" is a type of radio wave that communicates from your wireless adapter to the Wireless Access Point.

If your home office is in the basement, and that is the location of your current connection device (router, switch, wireless access point) where everything plugs in.  On the second floor of your house you have an ethernet port in your bedroom, but you want to use a tablet to surf the web, or perhaps use some internet appliance with your bedroom television.  The signal from the wireless access point in your basement is too weak.  You don't need to purchase another device that is a router and switch and WAP, all you need is the WAP (wireless access point).  So you simply buy a device that is ONLY a WAP, and plug it into your ethernet connection.

What is a wireless adapter?

Comparing a wireless network to a wired one, in a wired network your computer workstation has a NIC (Network Interface Card) which in a typical Ethernet network has an 8P8C (Eight Position, Eight Contact) modular jack on it where the network cable plugs into your computer.  From your computer the other end of the network cable plugs into some other type of device such as a switch or router, where traffic on your network is managed and distributed. On a wireless network the wireless adapter takes the place of the NIC.

How do I use ad hoc on a wireless network?

Ad hoc networks refer to networks created for a particular purpose. They are often created on-the-fly and for one-time or temporary use. If you don’t have a crossover cable to connect two notebooks or netbooks you can use their wireless capabilities to exchange files between without the need for any other than the computer itself. Instead of configuring your wireless adapter to connect to a wireless access point or router, you configure your wireless adapter to connect to another computer.

In the wireless world an ad hoc network is the equivalent of a peer to peer network.  In very small home networks, you may have two or three computers where you share resources between them, and to do so you set up a "peer to peer" network. Much like peer to peer networks in the wired world, ad hoc networks have management and security issues beyond that of the typical infrastructure network.

If your computer never leaves your house, having it set up to share files with another computer in your home may not be an issue you have to worry about.  On the other hand, if you travel with your computer, having ad hoc set up on your portable computer could create issues. Wireless devices in ad hoc mode offer minimal security against unwanted incoming connections, and there is a large security risk in using an ad hoc connection to an unknown computer, as you are exposing your computer to file sharing with strangers.

In some cases computers in public are purposely set up to look for and connect to other computers in ad hoc mode in order to steal information from them.  When using your computer in public hotspots you typically will be looking for a Wireless Network Connection, and ignore an attempt to connect with a strange computer using an ad hoc connection.

Learn more

If you are not sure what is the best technology choice for you, and you need some ideas, or if you want to keep up to date on hot topics in technology, check out the Guru 42 small business and technology blog  where we share our views and comments on the technology news of the day.

 

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The evolution of the Internet and the birth of TCP/IP

ComputerGuru -

The creation of the protocol suite TCP/IP as the basic set of rules for computers to communicate was one of the last major phases in the development of this global network we now call the Internet.

The internet was not something born of a single idea, but rather a gradual evolution, and the work of many people over many years.

The idea started with a vision to create a decentralized computer network, whereby every computer was connected to each other, but if one member of the systems was hit, the others would remain unaffected.

From the initial idea of a decentralized computer network came the concept of packet switching. During the 1960s Paul Baran developed the concept of packet switching networks while conducting research at the historic RAND organization.


What is a Protocol?

Once the concept of packet switching was developed the next stage in the evolution was to create a language that would be understood by all computer systems.

The network concept of protocols would establish a standard set of rules that would enable different types of computers, with different hardware and software platforms, to communicate in spite of their differences. Protocols describe both the format that a message must take as well as the way in which messages are exchanged between computers.

During the 1970s Bob Kahn and Vinton Cerf would collaborate as key members of a team to create TCP/IP, Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP), the building blocks of the modern internet.

In 1972, Robert E. Kahn joined the DARPA Information Processing Technology Office, where he worked on both satellite packet networks and ground-based radio packet networks, and recognized the value of being able to communicate across both. In the spring of 1973, Vinton Cerf, the developer of the existing ARPANET Network Control Program (NCP) protocol, joined Kahn to work on open-architecture interconnection models with the goal of designing the next protocol generation for the ARPANET.

What is an RFC?

The concept of Request for Comments (RFC) documents was started by Steve Crocker in 1969 to help record unofficial notes on the development of ARPANET. RFCs have since become official documents of Internet specifications.

In computer network engineering, a Request for Comments (RFC) is a formal document published by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), and the global community of computer network researchers, to establish Internet standards.

TCP/IP RFC History

The creation of TCP/IP as the basic set of rules for computers to communicate was one of the last major phases in the development of this global network we now call the Internet. Many additional members of the TCP/IP family of protocols continue to be developed, expanding of the basic principals established by Bob Kahn and Vinton Cerf back in the 1970s.

In 1981 the TCP/IP standards were published as RFCs 791, 792 and 793 and adopted for use. On January 1, 1983, TCP/IP protocols became the only approved protocol on the ARPANET, the predecessor to today's internet.

Links to learn more:

Check out our site Geek History where we discuss the evolution of the ARPANET and TCP/IP

Why was the internet created: 1957 Sputnik launches ARPA
http://geekhistory.com/content/why-was-internet-created-1957-sputnik-launches-arpa

When was internet invented: J.C.R. Licklider guides 1960s ARPA Vision
http://geekhistory.com/content/when-was-internet-invented-jcr-licklider-guides-1960s-arpa-vision

In the 1960s Paul Baran developed packet switching
http://geekhistory.com/content/1960s-paul-baran-developed-packet-switching

The 1980s internet protocols become universal language of computers
http://geekhistory.com/content/1980s-internet-protocols-become-universal-language-computers
 


 

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Last remnants of Westinghouse Electric for sale

Guru 42 Blog -

A Wall Street Journal article proclaims, "Westinghouse, Once an Industrial Powerhouse, Is on Brink of Sale."

The article talks about the current Westinghouse Electric Co, "a faded industrial giant that once helped electrify the world," as if the company being sold was the same company founded in 1886 by George Westinghouse. It's not, it is one last remnant of the original Westinghouse Electric that still bears the Westinghouse name.

The empire created by George Westinghouse, and the variety of products that carried the Westinghouse name have been split up over various companies over the years through a variety of mergers and acquisitions. The Westinghouse Electric mentioned in the article is the US based nuclear power company formed in 1998 from the nuclear power division of the original Westinghouse Electric Corporation.  The company retained the Westinghouse name even though it was acquired by Toshiba in 2005.  The Westinghouse nuclear power company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2017 and is being purchased by the company Brookfield Business Partners.

The current American mass media CBS Corporation, focused on commercial broadcasting, inherited much of the original Westinghouse Electric Company. When CBS Corporation was acquired by Viacom in 1999 that technically marked the end of the original Westinghouse Corporation. In 2005 CBS and Viacom split up, and the CBS Corporation lives on.

We will be watching to see if a new nuclear company creayed from the assets of the current Westinghouse Electric still carries the name Westinghouse. At one time the two major companies that dominated our world of electricity and electric appliances were Westinghouse and General Electric, which can be traced to Thomas Edison.

Interesting, the brand name of "Westinghouse" is still owned by the CBS Corporation. (Westinghouse heritage)

The names of Westinghouse Electric and General Electric are slowing fading away in corporate America, but the legacy of the great inventor and industrialist George Westinghouse lives on at GeekHistory.
 

A photo of  Westinghouse generators at Edward Dean Adams Power Plant in Niagara Fall, the first large-scale, alternating current electric generating plant in the world, built in 1895, reminds us of the legacy of Westinghouse.

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Was Thomas Edison more of a business man rather than an inventor

GeekHistory II -

People often make remarks about Thomas Edison such as, "he was primarily a businessman." The attitude would seem to lack the understanding that being successful in business is not mutually exclusive from being a successful inventor.

Many successful inventors realize that experimentation and research takes money. That is why some inventors hold on to certain patent rights, but sell others. They keep the ones they intent to develop and sell off others to raise money to continue their research.

The light bulb was not a single invention, but an ongoing improvement of one idea over another to create a finished product. There were many versions of the light bulb before Edison’s, and there were many versions after Edison. In 1879, Edison was first to devise a lamp that would last in long-term commercial use.

It is also not unusual for inventors to purchase patents to other inventions similar to their own. Sometimes in the larger scope of a project inventors will purchase the rights to similar projects so they have ownership of all the parts to their finished product.

It takes the work of many individuals and many patents (and inventions) coming together to reach a goal. George Westinghouse believed that AC (alternating current) was a better method of power distribution than Edison’s DC (direct current). George Westinghouse was himself an inventor and innovator, as well as a visionary businessman.

In 1885 Westinghouse became interested in the inventions of European Inventors Gaulard and Gibbs and purchased the American rights to their patents for AC current transformers. In 1888 Westinghouse heard of Nikola Tesla and the Tesla Polyphase System. Westinghouse purchased Tesla's alternating current patents on the electric systems and paid Tesla to work with him until they were fully implemented. Westinghouse also had his own team of engineers, such as William Stanley Jr., adding their own inventions in combination with the others to create the finished product. In the case of Westinghouse it was Alternating Current (AC) power transmission.

While Edison was wrong about direct current (DC) becoming the preferred way to deliver electricity to our homes, Edison's ideas to bring electricity to our homes launched the modern electric utility industry. . In 1892 Thomas Edison lost control of Edison Electric, because of his stubbornness to back down on preferring DC over AC. Notorious financier J.P. Morgan arranged the merger of Edison General Electric and Thomson-Houston Electric Company to form General Electric.

If Tesla and Westinghouse had not teamed up to win the war of currents, perhaps General Electric, the off shoot of Edison Electric would have won the war of currents, and would have still moved forward on producing AC generating power plant.

The mythical idea of an inventor

Many people have a mythical picture of an inventor as a scientist who works in a lab with a vision of a finished product in his mind. The mythical inventor tinkers with things until one day, eureka, his vision becomes a reality.

This idea of the inventor reminds me of Dr. Frankenstein from the Mary Shelley horror novel. The mad scientist pieces together his monster, and one day with a flash of lightning, eureka, he has created his monster.

To address the comment that Edison was a business man rather than an inventor, Thomas Edison was an inventor in every sense of the word. He had a passion for trying to understand how things worked. He had a passion for taking existing ideas and making them better.

The Edison Papers

If you really want to learn what Edison invented, I highly recommend you explore The Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University. The Edison Papers were established under a Board of Oversight which consists of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, the National Park Service, the New Jersey Historical Commission, and the Smithsonian Institution.

Thomas Alva Edison Biography | Edison's Inventions | Edison's Patents

Learn more about Thomas Edison

If you are looking to learn more about Thomas Edison the Guru42 Universe and GeekHistory has a lot of information to get you started. You will find Thomas Edison mentioned in the pages listed below.

Thomas Alva Edison prolific inventor and legendary lunatic

You don't need to be a genius to know why Thomas Edison was popular

Nikola Tesla versus Thomas Edison and the search for the truth

The myths and legends of evil villains Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison

In search of the greatest inventors and technology innovators

Henry Ford creates ultimate history museum of Industrial Revolution

Debunking the Nikola Tesla myths by way of defending Thomas Edison

The mythical rivalry between Edison and Tesla full of misinformation

From the War of Currents to the history of electricity in homes

Thomas Edison launched the modern electric utility industry

In researching Geek History we have been asked many questions related to Thomas Edison and the War of Currents. Bookmark this page and check back from time to time as we update it with answers to frequently asked questions and additional resources on Thomas Edison.

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The mythical rivalry between Edison and Tesla full of misinformation

GeekHistory II -

The myth that Edison stole Tesla's ideas is rooted in Edison's legacy of creating an invention factory where Edison used his staff to develop ideas and turn them into patents. Some point to the concept of the invention factory as the reason for his success, critics say Edison took his invention factory too far, and Edison took credit for any individual creativity by his employees.

Many successful inventors realize that experimentation and research takes money. Edison's first invention was the Universal Stock Ticker in 1869. Edison used the money he earned from the stock ticker to start his "invention factory." Edison had the reputation of a hard driving businessman, but he was also passionate about creating an invention factory. Edison paid workers to conduct numerous tedious experiments so he did not have to do the boring manual tasks himself.

How many inventions and innovations made in the name of Apple or Microsoft were not the direct work of Gates or Jobs? How is Edison's invention factory any different that the large number of engineers, designers, and programmers working for Microsoft or Apple, but all we hear about is the success of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs?

It's funny when someone asks, "Has Apple ever invented anything original?" the answers that say that Apple is an innovator not an inventor are widely accepted. People praise Apple for picking the right set of existing ideas and combining them in a new ways to make better products. When Thomas Edison takes existing ideas and combines them in new ways to make better products, he is called a thief.

Did Edison try to ruin Tesla's career?

The fable that is often told that Edison promised Tesla $50,000 and did not keep his promise. Take a minute and think about that story logically.

In the 1880s $50,000 would easily be the equivalent of over $1 million on modern money. (Based on numerous calculators I used $1 million would be on the low end of the calculation.) Telsa literally just got off the boat from Europe, and arrived in America. Tesla was recommended to Edison from a colleague of Edison's in Europe, but still Telsa was relatively unknown to him. Also consider the legend that Edison was a shrewd business man. Do you seriously think that Edison would have offered Tesla a $50,000 bonus for completing one project?

Tesla said how can I prove to you Mr. Edison than my ideas are worth something, Edison gave Tesla a project of something to fix. (The exact nature of project differs with each telling of the story.) The fable says that Tesla completed the project, and Edison offered Tesla a raise in pay, but not the big $50,000 bonus. Edison claimed that was a misunderstanding, it was only a joke.

Many people have raised questions as to the validity of the myth. Why would Edison, known to be a very shrewd businessman, offer $50,000 (equivalent to over $1 million dollars in modern purchasing power) to a rookie engineer.

Edison was successful before he met Tesla. It was Tesla who went to Edison in search of a change to prove his value as an inventor. Tesla thought AC (alternating current) would be the best method to deliver electricity to homes. Edison believed DC (direct current) was the best method to deliver electricity to homes. Edison thought he had all the answers, and did not value Telsa's ideas much. Feeling unappreciated by Edison, Tesla moved on.

Are Edison's inventions mostly Tesla's work?

During the time Tesla worked for Edison they were on different sides of the argument. Tesla hoped to show Edison his ideas on AC (alternating current) but Edison refused to look at them because he was pushing for DC (direct current) as the preferred method of electrical power distribution.

Another inventor and innovator, George Westinghouse, believed AC (alternating current) would be the best method to deliver electricity to homes. Westinghouse paid Tesla for some of his patents that fit into Westinghouse's system. Tesla also worked for Westinghouse in putting some of his inventions into practical use to defeat Edison in the War of Currents.

The generally accepted story states that Westinghouse paid Tesla around $60,000 for his patents for AC motors and generators, that's roughly the equivalent of $1.4 million in today's dollars. Tesla was also given a $2000 a month salary to work for Westinghouse, the equivalent of $48,000 per month today.

One condition of the Tesla and Westinghouse partnership was that Tesla received royalties of $2.50 per horsepower of electrical capacity sold. As AC power slowly became more widely adopted, Westinghouse paid Tesla hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties each year. By 1890, one year before his 35th birthday, Tesla had become a millionaire.

Another part of the financial arrangement of the Tesla and Westinghouse partnership that often gets skewed when the story is told is Tesla's agreement to terminate the ongoing royalties on the power being generated. Westinghouse was having some cash flow issues and he asked Tesla if he could suspend payments for a while. As the story goes Tesla was grateful for the opportunities that Westinghouse had given him, and tore up the contract for the ongoing royalties.

Tesla did not simply walk away from the contract and get nothing in return. According to the book "Tesla: Man Out of Time" by Margaret Cheney, the Westinghouse Company's annual report of 1897 states that Tesla was paid $216,600 for outright purchase of his patents. The relative value of $216,000.00 from 1897 in current purchasing power is over $6 million dollars.

When Tesla walked away from his partnership with Westinghouse, he had built up a nice nest egg.

How much truth is there to the Tesla versus Edison rivalry?

The battle for the method to deliver electricity to our homes is often hyped as the "War of Currents" between Tesla and Edison. It was actually a battle between Edison Electric and Westinghouse Electric. Edison got a bit crazy during the War of Currents, but his craziness was directed at Westinghouse, more so than Tesla. In backing the electric chair as a method of putting someone to death, Edison was happy to call the process of killing someone using electricity as being "Westinghoused."

In order for a rivalry to exist, there is typically two different sides that are competing against each other. The only time that Tesla and Edison were directly competing against each other was when Tesla was working for Westinghouse in the 1890s. After the War of Currents Tesla and Edison went their separate ways.

Edison lost control of his own company during the War of Currents, and Edison Electric merged with Thomson-Houston to become General Electric. During the early part of the 20th century Thomas Edison was one of the most celebrated celebrities and kept company with fellow famous geeks such as Henry Ford, the auto innovator, and Harvey Firestone, one of the first global makers of automobile tires. Edison continued to stay active and popular in the public view until his death in 1931.

After the War of Currents Tesla went off on his own experimenting with his theories of wireless electricity. Tesla's last big project to impress the world was Wardenclyffe Tower. The project was abandoned in 1906, and Tesla had a breakdown and began to withdraw from the world. During the last few decades of his life Tesla turned his legacy from that of an accomplished inventor, to a wild a crazy mad scientist. Nikola Tesla lived until 1943. The last years of his life he was more or less a loner, occasionally stirring up things by offering to sell his death beam to foreign countries.


Learn more, the truth is out there:

Nikola Tesla versus Thomas Edison and the search for the truth

George Westinghouse used Tesla power to defeat Edison in Currents War

 

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Net Neutrality anxiety high over proposed changes by FCC Chairman

Guru 42 Blog -

Many new questions are popping up regarding FCC Chairman Ajit Pai proposing to reverse the FCC classification of home and mobile ISPs as common carriers.

There is panic and paranoia over what these changes might mean. I am not getting excited.

I have written quite a bit about proposed internet regulations over the years.  Here is a little historic perspective on the fight for control over telecommunications.

Government controls radio

The Radio Act of 1912 mandated that all radio stations in the United States be licensed by the federal government.

The government took over full control of all radio service for the good of the cause when the United States entered into WWI. All amateur and commercial use of radio ended in the U.S. on April 7, 1917. It became illegal for private U.S. citizens to own an operational radio transmitter or receiver.

The Radio Act of 1927 created The Federal Radio Commission (FRC) to regulate radio use "as the public interest, convenience, or necessity" requires.

Expanding power and control beyond radio, to all forms of telecommunications, now falls under The Federal Communications Commission which was created in 1934.

The Federal Communications Commission battles starting in 1934

The Communications Act of 1934 established the basic regulations of communication by wire and radio. The internet went commercial in the mid 1990s and The Telecommunications Act of 1996 addressed the new and emerging technologies.

Since 1996 the categories of Telecommunications Service, Broadcast Services, and Cable Services have become muddied together, rather than being distinctly different services. In 2015, the FCC classified Internet Service Providers as common carriers under The Communications Act of 1934 Title II, for the purpose of enforcing net neutrality.

The term "Net neutrality" was coined by Columbia University media law professor Tim Wu in 2003. The concept is based on legal concept of common carrier which became popular in the United States with the late 1800s with the railroad barons controlling the flow of goods and services.

Any FCC ruling can be challenged in the courts, as it has been in the past.

Telecommunications and Federal Trade Commission antitrust suits

Government antitrust suits have been a part of telecommunications dating back to the early 20th century. In 1913 Kingsbury Commitment was an out-of-court settlement of the government's antitrust challenge of AT&T's monopoly of the phone industry. In 1949 an antitrust lawsuit alleged that AT&T and the Bell System operating companies were using their near-monopoly in telecommunications to attempt to establish unfair advantages.

The government forced the breakup of the Bell System in 1982 into seven different holding companies. Through mergers and acquisitions over the years, four of the seven "Baby Bells" are now part of AT&T and two are part of Verizon.

Any actions by a telecommunications company can be challenged in the courts and the Federal Trade Commission as they have been in the past.

It's nothing new

Any changes made to Net Neutrality regulations in December 2017 will only be one event in an ongoing battle for control of telecommunications that has been waged on many fronts since the early development of radio and telephone services in the early 20th century.

Any changes made will be challenged, and changed again.

Learn more:

Net Neutrality and the myth that the internet is free

 

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Photo: FCC Chairman Genachowski swears in Ajit Pai as a new Commissioner at the FCC headquarters in Washington, DC.
May 14, 2012. [Federal Communications Commission Photo]
 

 

 

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Who was Nikola Tesla the legacy of the most interesting geek

GeekHistory II -

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) was a Serbian born inventor who grew up in an area of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that is the modern-day country of Croatia.  At times the life story of Nikola Tesla flows like an epic science fiction saga. According to legend, the man known as the Master of Lightning was born at the stroke of midnight on July 10, 1856, during a lightning storm in a mountainous area of the Balkan Peninsula. Tesla's parents were Serbian, his father was an orthodox priest, his mother was an inventor of practical household gadgets.

Most of Nikola Tesla's early inventions fell into the categories of electrical power distribution or motors and generators. In 1884, at age 28, Tesla left Europe and headed for New York City in search of Thomas Edison. Tesla was interested in AC (alternating current) systems and was looking to impress Edison with his ideas on AC systems. Edison wasn't interested in hearing about AC, as Edison was developing DC (direct current) electrical power systems.

In 1888 Tesla presented to the American Institute of Electrical Engineers his polyphase alternating current system in the report “A New System of Alternating Current Motors and Transformers.” George Westinghouse was a visionary businessman and inventor who saw the possibilities of Alternating Current (AC) as the primary form of delivery electricity. Westinghouse saw Tesla's ideas as something he could use in his quest to develop AC, and purchased Tesla's alternating current patents. Westinghouse also paid Tesla to work with the Westinghouse team until the patents were fully implemented.

For a more detailed biography of Nikola Tesla check out the following articles at GeekHistory.com

Nikola Tesla the legacy of the most interesting geek in the world 

George Westinghouse used Tesla power to defeat Edison in Currents War 

Nikola Tesla versus Thomas Edison and the search for the truth

Tesla tower at Wardenclyffe and the free energy myth

At our companion websites from the World of Questy we look at various myths and legends, check out the following posts.

In search of cult heroes and forgotten geeks the truth is out there 

Debunking the mindless misinformation of the cult of Tesla 

Why Nikola Tesla has become a cult hero

FBI conspiracy theories and the lost files of Nikola Tesla


In researching Geek History we have been asked the most questions on Nikola Tesla, especially related to topics regarding Thomas Edison and the War of Currents.  Bookmark this page and check back from time to time as we update it with additional resources on Nikola Tesla.

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From the War of Currents to the history of electricity in homes

GeekHistory II -

In this section of the GeekHistory almanac we look at the history of electricity in homes from the discovery of electricity through the War of Currents.

What was the War of Currents?

In the 1890s the War of Currents was a business and technology battle between the Edison Electric Light Company and Westinghouse Electric Company over what electric power transmission system should be used. George Westinghouse and the Westinghouse Electric Company supported AC (alternating current). Thomas Edison and the Edison Electric Light Company supported DC (direct current).

The internet loves to portray the battle as one between rival inventors Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. It makes for a good story of the hero, Tesla, defeating his rival, Edison. Both Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla were well known in the 1890s and were masters at drawing attention to themselves. George Westinghouse, unlike his rival Edison, did not seek media attention, and was a very private person.

Thomas Edison was a well known inventor riding his success and media attention for inventing the phonograph. Edison leveraged his name and fame to start building DC power plants in New York City. Nikola Tesla was a genius, and his inventions contributed to AC Power distribution, but Tesla was member of a team put together by George Westinghouse.


The concept of AC power distribution was not a new concept for Westinghouse, he was also an inventor in the gas industry. Westinghouse believed that AC was a better method of power distribution, and believed that electric company founded by his rival Thomas Edison was structurally flawed in its beliefs of using DC power. In 1885 Westinghouse became interested in the inventions of European Inventors Gaulard and Gibbs and purchased the American rights to their patents for AC current transformers. Westinghouse and his staff worked on improving and redesigning the transformers, and the Westinghouse Electric Company was started in 1886.

In 1888 Westinghouse heard of Nikola Tesla and the Tesla Polyphase System. Westinghouse knew that could be the final piece he needed in building a better system than Edison's. Westinghouse purchased Tesla's alternating current patents on the electric systems and paid Tesla to work with him until they were fully implemented.

The battle for public opinion over which system should be used to power America turned into a nasty smear campaign by Edison. An inventor and electrical engineer named Harold Brown became the front man for a campaign to show the world the dangers of alternating current. Stories are told of how Brown paid local children to collect stray dogs off the street that he used for experiments showing the dangers of alternating current. Despite publicly denouncing capital punishment, Edison secretly financed the alternating current electric chair developed by Brown. Edison launched a media campaign telling the world AC was deadly, using the word "Westinghoused" to describe an execution by electrocution.

By the time the War of Currents ended Thomas Edison was no longer in control of Edison Electric. In 1892 Thomas Edison lost control of his own company, as financier J. P. Morgan merged Edison Electric with the Thomson-Houston Electric Company to form General Electric.

George Westinghouse and the Westinghouse Electric Company would have two decisive victories over General Electric, first winning the bid to light the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, followed by the getting the contract for building a two phase AC generating system at Niagara Falls in 1893.

The defeat of Edison in the corporate boardroom by J.P. Morgan followed by two major victories by Tesla and Westinghouse partnership would mark the end of War of Currents.

The history of electricity in homes

The pages that follow show that the battle to illuminate our world was not battle between two sides, but an evolution of ideas and the work of many scientists and inventors.

Even though Americans talk about the War of Currents as the famous battle between Westinghouse and Edison in the 1890s, the world was already moving towards AC power distribution, regardless of who won the American war. The first long distance AC power line was built in 1884 for the International Exhibition of Turin, Italy. In 1885 the first operative AC line for public lighting was put into service in Rome, Italy. In 1891, the first transmission of three-phase alternating current using high voltage took place in Germany.

Who discovered electricity?

Who contributed to the development of electricity and AC power

Who is responsible for electricity and AC power in our homes

Thomas Edison launched the modern electric utility industry

This article serves an introduction to this section of the GeekHistory almanac we look at the history of electricity in homes. It also serves as a portal to additional stories and resources to help you learn more about the War of Currents.

George Westinghouse used Tesla power to defeat Edison in The War of Currents

The War of Currents goes through Pittsburgh lead by George Westinghouse

Nikola Tesla versus Thomas Edison and the search for the truth

Patent wars and other epic battles where business and technology mix

From time to time we talk about the colorful characters involved in the War of Currents in the Guru42 blog, check out the following posts.

Debunking the Nikola Tesla myths by way of defending Thomas Edison

Reflections on the most forgotten geek George Westinghouse

At our companion websites from the World of Questy we look at various myths and legends, check out the following posts.

In search of cult heroes and forgotten geeks the truth is out there

Debunking the mindless misinformation of the cult of Tesla

Bookmark this page and check back from time to time as we update it with additional resources on the War of Currents and the history of electricity in our homes.

 

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Celebrate System Administrator Appreciation Day

Guru 42 Blog -

The 18th Annual System Administrator Appreciation Day is Friday, July 28, 2017.

As we pay tribute to the heroic men and women who keep your computer workstation working and your network running, take a few minutes to understand the role of a system administrator

The many tasks of the sysadmin

A system administrator, or sysadmin, manages a computer network.  At Guru42 universe we reflect upon the System Administrator and the Power User to illustate how a  sysadmin thinks in terms of managing systems rather than individual computers

The sysadmin maintains various generations of desktop computer hardware and workstation operating systems. They support various desktop installed software, as well as internet based computer applications. They're expected to know what applications work well with which web browser, and what plugins are needed for every website.

They may also be responsible for the local servers and network operating systems as well. Their many network duties could include monitoring internet security, and making sure the wireless network is functioning.

Depending on the size of the network the sysadmin may setup and maintain various user names and logins. They make sure end users are using proper procedures of accessing the network, and they are not wasting network resources watching silly videos not related to work.

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Fighting the stereotypes

System administrators are often under management pressure to contain costs and are limited in terms of time and resources.

In their effort  to manage the computer network efficiently, the sysadmin is often stereotyped as a bitter control freak with the goal of standing in the way of end users.

Sysadmins oversee the installation of services and and software on the network purchased by non technical end users and managers, and take the blame for everything that goes wrong

When the sysadmin complaints  of network misuse or abuse, unrealistic end user expectations, and self inflicted problems, they are perceived as angry.

Why choose to be a sysadmin

You might wonder why someone would want a thankless job that is often associated with negative stereotypes.

Like many professionals who see their career as more than showing up to receive a paycheck, a good sysadmin  spends much of his spare time learning and sharing ideas and information with his colleagues because he enjoys the daily challenges of problem solving.

A good sysadmin thrives on the fact that the world of technology is always changing and never boring. 

Happy SysAdmin Day!

There is a holiday for everything else, so why not Sysadmin day?

Send out an email to the person who keeps your technology running smoothly, without having a computer problem to report, and simply say, Happy SysAdmin Day!

Read all about it: Celebrate System Administrator Appreciation Day

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Debunking the Nikola Tesla myths by way of defending Thomas Edison

Guru 42 Blog -

When I created the GeekHistory website my main goal was to draw attention to the many scientists and inventors that I call the forgotten geeks. It was not my plan to spend a lot of time defending Thomas Edison, after all he does get mentioned often.

As I revved up my writing for the GeekHistory over the last few years I have become active in social media looking for common questions about famous inventors and inventions. In search of information on all the "who invented it" myths of technology history I found a great deal of misinformation giving credit to Nikola Tesla for a variety of inventions. I find myself often defending Thomas Edison because of often over the top claims of everything that Nikola Tesla allegedly invented.

Nikola Tesla has a cult following that gives him credit for inventing just about everything. There are people who object to the phrase "the Cult of Tesla," but the Tesla fanatics are a prime example of a cult. Tesla fanatics have an "us against them" mentality with stories full of conspiracy theories of how the government took all of Tesla's files when he died. When it comes to any attempts to have a rational conversation, they deny any facts that might contradict the group's beliefs. Having a meaningful conversation with Tesla fanatics can be frustrating because there is a complete avoidance of critical thinking.

Studying the claims of Tesla fans, searching for the truth, has made me even more passionate about my original goals of drawing attention to the forgotten geeks who deserve to be remembered. One of the many claims of Tesla fans is that Tesla invented radio. In the process of digging deeper to learn more I came to appreciate the work of Fessenden. Who is the inventor who started his career working for Thomas Edison, later worked with George Westinghouse, and has a legitimate claim to be called the father of radio? The answer to that question is not Nikola Tesla, it is Reginald Fessenden.

From his work for George Westinghouse and the University of Pittsburgh, to the story of Fessenden's 1905 Christmas broadcast to ships at sea, he is indeed a forgotten geek that deserves to be remembered. Check out the complete story of Reginald Fessenden Canadian inventor of radio and wireless telephone

For all his quirks, I do appreciate the contributions of Thomas Edison. Including the mountains of material I have read, I have made two visits to the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and Greenfield Village near Dearborn, Michigan in recent years to study the accomplishments of Edison and other geeks. Just as I note the exaggerations of the Tesla fans, you can say that the claim that science becomes religion goes both ways. Henry Ford idolized Thomas Edison, you can clearly see that in the Henry Ford museum complex. The complete Menlo Park lab from New Jersey was transported to Michigan and rebuilt there. Henry Ford had a dedication ceremony for the reconstructed lab that Edison attended when it opened.

There are many forgotten geeks who made incredibly important contributions in bringing electricity to our homes. Nikola Tesla did not invent AC power generation. Tesla's sole contribution was his version of the polyphase AC motor. Significant, but it was theoretically described by other others before him, as were many of the other inventions and discoveries often credited to Tesla.

As we created the section on the history of electricity we broke it down into four sections starting with a list of scientists and inventors that contributed to our modern understanding of electricity.

Our next page looks at the European inventors before Edison and Tesla who contributed to the development of electricity and AC power distribution

It bothers me that so many internet sites talk about the War of Currents as the great battle between Edison and Tesla. Edison eventually lost control of Edison Electric as it merged with another company to become General Electric. Nikola Tesla was not a member of team Westinghouse when the War of Currents started between George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison. Follow this link to learn about the many Westinghouse Electric engineers responsible for electricity and AC power in our homes

Edison does deserve credit for many inventions in a wide variety of areas, and in defending Edison, I have come up with a fair amount of material for the GeekHistory websites. Edison might have been too stubborn to back down on DC power generation as the way to produce electricity, but he does deserve to be respected for launching the modern electric utility industry with the creation of the Pearl Street station in lower Manhattan in 1882 When the War of Currents ended around 1893, Thomas Edison was no longer in control of Edison Electric. But the Edison team (which became part of the General Electric Company) lived on in many ways.

Reginald Fessenden worked several years for Edison, before joining forces with Westinghouse. In the biography "Fessenden – Builder of Tomorrow" - by Helen Fessenden (his wife), you will find remarks by Reginald Fessenden defending the legacy Thomas Edison.

"The question has often been put to me 'Is Edison really a good inventor? Are not his inventions really due to his assistants?' Having worked with him for a number of years and having made a rather special study of the science of invention and of inventors, my own conclusion is that all of the inventions which go by his name were made by him personally, and that there is only one figure in history which stands in the same rank with him as an inventor, i.e. Archimedes."

Edison had the reputation of a hard driving businessman, but he was also passionate about creating an invention factory. Edison paid workers to conduct numerous tedious experiments so he did not have to do the boring manual tasks himself. I think that is pretty genius.

Some of the Tesla fans point to crazy things that Edison did to discredit him as an inventor. Don't get me wrong, Thomas Edison was no saint, he was a lunatic at times, but to discredit Edison as a means to glorify Tesla is more than a little humorous. Nikola Tesla cornered the market on craziness during his lifetime.


A few more links to learn more:

Nikola Tesla versus Thomas Edison and the search for the truth

George Westinghouse used Tesla power to defeat Edison in Currents War

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Thomas Edison launched the modern electric utility industry

GeekHistory II -

All major inventions were an evolution of ideas and inventors over many years. Many light bulbs were invented before Edison's that worked in the laboratory and for short-term demonstrations. There were more that twenty inventors that filed patents for various versions of the incandescent lamp before Edison, and there have been dozens of inventors that have filed patents for incandescent lamps since Edison.

In the mythology of famous scientists and inventors, there is the eureka moment, that's when some totally new idea or totally new theory is discovered. Thomas Edison's eureka moment was not in inventing the light bulb but in creating a carbon-filament lamp in a vacuum. This one improvement of the concept of the light bulb created the first commercially practical incandescent light. Edison's first attempts lasted a little over half a day, but eventually his efforts led to a bulb that could burn for 1,200 hours.

Edison's success went beyond the incandescent light bulb to developing an entire integrated system of electric lighting. Thomas Edison presented to the world a complete system of commercial electric lighting and power using a DC (Direct Current) generating station.


Thomas Alva Edison (1847 - 1931) was a legendary inventor that saw the need for improving upon existing ideas.  Thomas Edison was influenced by the work of many inventors in Europe that were moving forward in the 1870s. Using the dynamo as a power source, Pavel Yablochov invented the the Yablochkov Candle in 1876. Yablochkov's inventions improved on previous arc light designs and proving that the installation of electric lighting economically feasible.

Edison saw that arc lighting was becoming popular as an outdoor form of lighting, he improved upon the concept of lighting creating a more practical and efficient of the incandescent light bulb. With his improved invention of the Edison bulb, he created a demand for a source of electrical power.

When we start telling the story that begins with, "when Thomas Edison invented the light bulb," we are usually quickly attacked by someone screaming, "Edison didn't invent the light bulb!" Well, in one sense that is true, Edison did not invent the incandescent light bulb. But, when you step back and look at the big picture you could say that not only did Thomas Edison introduce the world to the incandescent light bulb, Thomas Edison launched the modern electric utility industry with the creation of the Pearl Street station in lower Manhattan in 1882.

From Edison Electric to General Electric

The biggest mistake of Edison's career was his refusal to acknowledge the limitations of DC power. By the time the War of Currents ended around 1893, Thomas Edison was no longer in control of Edison Electric. In 1892 Thomas Edison lost control of his own company, as financier J. P. Morgan merged Edison Electric with the Thomson-Houston Electric Company to form General Electric.

Even thought the War of Currents was short lived, roughly from 1886 through 1893, the rivalry of the Edison team (which became part of the General Electric Company) versus the Westinghouse team lived on in many ways.

Charles P. Steinmetz (1865-1923), began his career as a draftsman at the Osterheld and Eickemeyer company in 1889, which was acquired by General Electric in 1892. The Osterheld and Eickemeyer company, along with all of its patents and designs, was acquired by the newly formed General Electric Company, because of their expertise in the area of electrical power and transformers.

Charles Proteus Steinmetz understood electromagnetism better than anyone of his generation and while working for General Electric he worked on the team that developed the some of the world's first 3 phase electrical systems. General Electric was the company formed by the merger of Edison Electric and Thomson-Houston Electric Company. Ironic when you consider that Edison originally fought against the use of AC power, and now General Electric would now switch gears from Edison's ideas on DC power distribution and embrace the work of Steinmetz in the areas of AC circuit theory and analysis.

Even though Edison was not at the helm of General Electric, the interactions between Steinmetz and Edison are source for many legendary stories. One famous story is the $10,000 bill sent to Henry Ford for services performed by Steinmetz to repair an electric generator. When asked for an itemized bill, Steinmetz responded personally to Ford’s request with the following: Making chalk mark on generator $1, Knowing where to make mark $9,999.

Elihu Thomson (1853-1937), invented the 3 coil dynamo, which was the basis for a successful electric lighting system he produced in 1879 through the Thomson-Houston Electric Company. Elihu Thomson and E. J. Houston established the Thomson-Houston Electric Company in Philadelphia in 1879. Thomson-Houston Electric Company merged with the Edison General Electric Company to become the General Electric Company In 1892. Thomson was elected chief engineer of General Electric producing many of the fundamental inventions for the newly formed company.

When we speak of the great engineers who lead the Westinghouse Company we think of William Stanley followed by Benjamin Lamme. When the great engineers who lead the General Electric Company the names Charles P. Steinmetz and Elihu Thomson rise to the top of the list. Neither Steinmetz or Thomson worked directly for Edison, but became members of the General Electric team when their companies were acquires by the General Electric Company.

Graphic: Charles P. Steinmetz and Thomas A. Edison

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Who is responsible for electricity and AC power in our homes

GeekHistory II -

In the previous article we looked at the answer to who contributed to the development of electricity and AC power, by drawing attention to the work of various European inventors that were the establishing the ideas and principals that were used by Thomas Edison or Nikola Tesla.

The War of Currents

The War of Currents was much more than a battle between two crazy inventors, and the efforts to electrify our world was the work of many inventors and engineers. Just as it is impossible to pin point one single invention or one single inventor as the eureka moment when the Internet was invented, the same can be said of the development of electricity and AC power distribution. There are many names from that generation that all played a significant part in the development of bringing electricity to our homes and AC power distribution.

The War of Currents was started as a battle between George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla was not a member of team Westinghouse when it started. The War of Currents started not long after Westinghouse created the Westinghouse Electric Company in 1886. Edison was creating DC power plants and felt threatened by Westinghouse who had been experimenting with AC Power and was ready to start rolling it out commercially. Edison began a public media campaign claiming that high voltage AC systems were inherently dangerous.

By the time the War of Currents ended Thomas Edison was no longer in control of Edison Electric. In 1892 Thomas Edison lost control of his own company, as financier J. P. Morgan merged Edison Electric with the Thomson-Houston Electric Company to form General Electric.

George Westinghouse and the Westinghouse Electric Company would have two decisive victories over General Electric in 1893, first winning the bid to light the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, followed by the getting the contract for building a two phase AC generating system at Niagara Falls.


Westinghouse Electric engineers

William Stanley (1858-1916) was an inventor and engineer that played a significant part in the development of AC power distribution that seldom gets mentioned. The Westinghouse Electric Company was started in 1886 with William Stanley Jr. as chief engineer. William Stanley created the first full feature AC power distribution system using transformers in Great Barrington, Massachusetts In 1886, a project funded by Westinghouse.

The work of William Stanley in the 1880s was critical to the success of Westinghouse. In 1890 Stanley decided to sever his ties with Westinghouse and formed the Stanley Manufacturing Company. Different sources tell different stories of why Stanley had a falling out with Westinghouse, mainly over money. Stanley had ambitions of creating his own electric company on a scale to compete with Edison, and Westinghouse. In 1903 General Electric (GE) acquired the Stanley Manufacturing Company.

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) was a Serbian born inventor who grew up in an area of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that is the modern-day country of Croatia. Most of Nikola Tesla's early inventions fell into the categories of electrical power distribution or motors and generators. In 1884, at age 28, Tesla left Europe and headed for New York City in search of Thomas Edison. Tesla was interested in AC (alternating current) systems and was looking to impress Edison with his ideas on AC systems. Edison wasn't interested in hearing about AC, as Edison was developing DC (direct current) electrical power systems.

In 1888 Tesla presented to the American Institute of Electrical Engineers his polyphase alternating current system in the report “A New System of Alternating Current Motors and Transformers.” George Westinghouse was a visionary businessman and inventor who saw the possibilities of Alternating Current (AC) as the primary form of delivery electricity. Westinghouse saw Tesla's ideas as something he could use in his quest to develop AC, and purchased Tesla's alternating current patents. Westinghouse also paid Tesla to work with the Westinghouse team until the patents were fully implemented.

Oliver Blackburn Shallenberger (1860 – 1898) was an American engineer and inventor, best known for inventing the watt-hour meter, a device that measured the amount of A.C. current and made possible the business model of the electric utility. In 1884 Oliver Shallenberger went to work for The Union Switch and Signal Company, a supplier of railway signaling equipment founded by George Westinghouse. The results of Shallenberger's work at the Union Switch and Signal Company led to his appointment to Chief Electrician at the Westinghouse Electric Company. Shallenberger oversaw the development of the Tesla Polyphase System.

Benjamin Garver Lamme (1864 - 1924) designed much of the apparatus for the Westinghouse exhibit at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Benjamin Lamme was the engineer that expanded upon Nikola Tesla's patents, purchased by Westinghouse, in designing the Niagara Falls generators that lead to Westinghouse's victory in the War of Currents. In 1918 Lamme received the Edison Medal for his contributions to the electrical power field. Another irony, considering Lamme helped to develop AC power distribution, Edison was orginally against AC power distribution.

George Westinghouse (1846 - 1914), the son of a New York agricultural machinery maker, came to Pittsburgh in 1868 in search of steel for a new tool he designed to guide derailed train cars back onto the track. Before he left Pittsburgh to retire back to New York, Westinghouse gave the world safer rail transportation, steam turbines, gas lighting and heating, and brought electricity to the average American's home.

George Westinghouse wasn't the inventor of AC power, but he had the vision to bring it all together. Edison turned away great engineers for talking about AC development, while Westinghouse was making them members of his team, and buying AC patents developed in Europe for use in America. George Westinghouse proved to the world the concept of AC power distribution by winning the bid to provide lighting for the World's Fair Columbian Exposition of 1893. Westinghouse installed a complete polyphase generation and distribution system with multiple generators.

Who is responsible for electricity and AC power in our homes?

Does Thomas Edison or Nikola Tesla deserve all the credit? What about William Stanley, Benjamin Garver Lamme, Oliver Shallenberger, or George Westinghouse? Who is to say who contributed more to the development of electricity? They all contributed!

Graphic: Westinghouse Electric engineers William Stanley and Benjamin Lamme

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Who contributed to the development of electricity and AC power

GeekHistory II -

Just as it is impossible to pin point one single invention or one single inventor as the eureka moment when the Internet was invented, the same can be said of the development of electricity and AC power distribution. There were many inventors working on various parts which came together.

Who contributed more to the development of electricity and AC power distribution?

Are you looking for a single name, like Thomas Edison or Nikola Tesla? People often talk about the "War of Currents" as the great battle between Edison and Tesla to develop a system for the distribution of electrical current. During the War of Currents, Edison lost control of Edison Electric as it merged with Thomson-Houston Electric Company to form General Electric, and Nikola Tesla was one member of a team of engineers working for Westinghouse Electric. George Westinghouse is every bit as much responsible for our current system of AC power in America, arguably more responsible that Thomas Edison. But the world remembers Edison, much more so than Westinghouse.

Many internet memes spread posters about The War of Currents presenting it as a technology battle between Thomas Edison or Nikola Tesla. Both men were great inventors, but they lived in a time when many people were working in developing the concepts of electric lights and the distribution of electrical current. What is often not mentioned in the telling of the "War of Currents" stories is that many of the America inventions were based on the work of various European inventors that were the establishing the ideas and principals that were used by Thomas Edison or Nikola Tesla.


European inventors before Edison and Tesla

Edison did not invent the concept of lighting or the electrical distribution system. Thomas Edison was influenced by the work of many inventors in Europe were moving forward in the 1870s such as Pavel Yablochkov.

Pavel Yablochkov (1847-1894) was a Russian electrical engineer who invented the earliest commercially successful arc lamp known as the Yablochkov Candle. During the Paris Exposition of 1878 introduced his lighting system to the world installing 64 of his arc lights along a half mile length of streets. Yablochkov made the installation of electric lighting economically feasible. The intensely bright light created by the arc lamp was great for lighting the outdoors, but it was not practical for indoor use.

Nikola Tesla did not invent the concept of Alternating Current and electric motors. Scientists and inventors such as Michael Faraday and Hippolyte Pixii were working with Alternating Current and electric motors in the early 1800s, years before Tesla was born.

Michael Faraday (1791-1867) British physicist and chemist, demonstrated the first simple electric motor in 1821. Faraday published the results of his experiments of producing an electrical current in a circuit by using only the force of a magnetic field in 1931. Faraday's discovery is known as Faraday’s Law of Electromagnetic Induction.

Hippolyte Pixii (1808–1835) was an instrument maker from Paris. Pixii built an early form of alternating current electrical generator in 1832, based on the principle of magnetic induction discovered by Michael Faraday.

George Westinghouse looks to Europe

As George Westinghouse began studying the debate surrounding AC (alternating current) versus DC (direct current) he looked to various European inventors for ideas and inspiration for AC designs.

The ZBD Transformer, created in 1878, was based on the work of Károly Zipernowsky, Ottó Bláthy, and Miksa Déri of the Austro-Hungarian Empire First designed and used the transformer in both experimental, and commercial systems. The Ganz Company uses induction coils in their lighting systems with AC incandescent systems. This is the first appearance and use of the toroidal shaped transformer. The reliability of AC technology received impetus after an 1886 installation by the Ganz Works that electrified much of Rome, Italy.

A power transformer developed by Lucien Gaulard and John Dixon Gibbs was demonstrated in London in 1881. In 1884 Lucien Gaulard's transformer system on display at the the first large exposition of AC power in Turin, Italy.The 25 mile long transmission line illuminated arc lights, incandescent lights, and powered a railway.

Westinghouse purchased the American rights to Gaulard and Gibbs patents for AC current transformers. The transformers initially designed for the Westinghouse company were originally based on Gaulard-Gibbs A.C. transformer designs that the company had imported for testing. Westinghouse and his staff worked on improving and redesigning the transformers, and the Westinghouse Electric Company was started in 1886.

Galileo Ferraris (1847-1897) was an Italian physicist and electrical engineer known for introducing the concept of the rotating magnetic field, and the invention of the rotating magnetic field asynchronous motor. Ferraris was involved in early experiments in AC power distance transmission which occurred in Germany and Italy in the early 1880s.

Nikola Tesla patents provide the final piece

Westinghouse was in a race to be the first company to commercially develop AC power, and George Westinghouse saw that Nikola Tesla's U.S. patents for his AC induction motor and related transformer design were the quickest way to make the final push to win the War of Currents. Nikola Tesla was also hired for one year to be a consultant at the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company's Pittsburgh labs.

Some sources say the discoveries and inventions of Nikola Tesla and Galileo Ferraris regarding the invention of induction motor where made entirely independently of each other. Some sources name Galileo Ferraris as the inventor of induction motors based on his research of the rotary magnetic field started in 1885. Some sources name Nikola Tesla as the inventor of induction motors based on his filling of US patent 381968 on May 1, 1888.

Not taking any chances as to who did it first, Westinghouse also purchased a U.S. patent option on induction motors from Galileo Ferraris.

Was Nikola Tesla a patent thief?

In the world of the modern Internet Thomas Edison is often called a patent thief who took advantage of the great inventor Nikola Tesla. Ironically, there is a case to be made that the Polyphase Electric Motor, the invention that made Nikola Tesla famous, was based on a design that Tesla copied from from Italian inventor Galileo Ferraris.

Westinghouse engineer William Stanley stated in a letter to the Electrical Review published in March, 1903, "I myself have seen the original motors, models, and drawings made by Ferraris in 1885, have personally talked with the men who saw these models in operation and heard Ferraris explain them at that date."

Graphic: The great triad of Miksa Deri, Otto Titusz Blathy, and Karoly Zipernowsky (left to write) connected by the invention of the transformer and worked at the famous Ganz factory in Budapest.

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Computer networking packet switching explained in simple terms

ComputerGuru -

Throughout the standard for Internet Protocol you will see the description of packet switching, "fragment and reassemble internet datagrams when necessary for transmission through small packet networks." A message is divided into smaller parts know as packets before they are sent. Each packet is transmitted individually and can even follow different routes to its destination. Once all the packets forming a message arrive at the destination, they are recompiled into the original message.

Internet data, whether in the form of a Web page, a downloaded file or an e-mail message, travels over a system known as a packet-switching network. Each of these packages gets a wrapper that includes information on the sender's address, the receiver's address, the package's place in the entire message, and how the receiving computer can be sure that the package arrived intact.

There are two huge advantages to the packet switching. The network can balance the load across various pieces of equipment on a millisecond-by-millisecond basis. If there is a problem with one piece of equipment in the network while a message is being transferred, packets can be routed around the problem, ensuring the delivery of the entire message.

Packet switching explained in simple terms

In teaching the concept of packet switching in the classroom, I would take a piece of paper with a message written on it, and from the front of the classroom, ask the person in the front seat simply to turn around and pass the paper to the person behind him, and in turn continue the process until the paper made it to the person in the back row.

In the next phase of the illustration, I would take the same piece of paper that had the message written on it, and tear it into four pieces. On each individual piece of paper I would address it as if sending a letter through the postal service, by writing my name as the sender, and also the name of the person in the back of the room as the recipient. I would also label each individual piece of paper as one of four, two of four, three of four, and four of four.

This time I would take the four individual pieces of paper and walk across the front row, and as I handed one piece of paper to four different students, I would explain to them who was to receive the paper, and asked them to pass it to the person marked as the recipient by using the people behind them. When all four pieces of paper arrived at the destination, I would ask the recipient to read the label I had put on each piece of paper, and confirm they had received the entire message.

My original passing of the paper represented Circuit switching, the telecommunications technology which used circuits to create the virtual path, a dedicated channel between two points, and then delivered the entire message.

My second passing of the "packets" or scraps of paper illustrated packet switching, and each individual in the room acted as a router. The key difference between the two methods was the additional routes that the pieces of the message took. A very primitive, but effective demonstration of packet switching and the way in which a message would be transmitted across the internet.

Once the concept of packet switching was developed the next stage in the evolution was to create a language that would be understood by all computer systems. This new standard set of rules would enable different types of computers, with different hardware and software platforms, to communicate in spite of their differences.

Geek History: In the 1960s Paul Baran developed packet switching
 

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Who discovered electricity?

GeekHistory II -

Asking who discovered electricity is the equivalent to asking who first discovered fire. Electricity existed before humans walked the earth. You could probably make the case that the first human to discover fire also discovered electricity as they watched a bolt of lightning strike the earth to start a fire. The bolts of static electricity we see in the sky in the form of lightning during a thunderstorm show the power of electricity.

Ancient writings show that various cultures around the Mediterranean knew that rods of amber could be rubbed with cat fur or silk to attract light objects like feathers. Amber is fossilized tree resin gemstone used in making a variety of decorative objects and jewelry. Amber has been used as a healing agent in folk medicine. The first particle known to carry electric charge, the electron, is named for the Greek word for amber, ēlektron.

If you are looking for a name of someone "who discovered electricity" you could possible look to the Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus (624 B.C. to 546 B.C.). Thales was known for his innovative use of geometry, but his writings are some of the first to document the principles of magnetism and static electricity. Thales documented magnetism through his observations that loadstone attracts iron, and static electricity through his observations of static electricity by rubbing fur on substances such as amber.

Some stories claim that various artifacts found shows some electricity production was possible in the Middle East thousands of years ago. For telling the story here at Geek History, and busting the myth that Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity we will start in more modern times offering the name of William Gilbert as the first person to define electricity around 1600. Each person on the list that follows contributed to our modern understanding of electricity.

William Gilbert (1544-1603) is regarded as the father of electrical engineering and one of the first scientists to document the concept of electricity in his book De Magnete published in 1600. William Gilbert made a careful study of electricity and magnetism and defined the distinction between electricity and magnetism in his series of books. Gilbert coined the term electricity from the Greek word elecktra.

Robert William Boyle (1627-1691) is regarded as the first modern chemist and one of the pioneers of modern experimental scientific method. Boyle is also credited with experiments in the fields electricity and magnetism. In 1675, Boyle published "Experiments and Notes about the Mechanical Origine or Production of Electricity."

Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790) is often credited in various books and websites as having discovered electricity in the 1750s. The legendary story of Franklin's experiments with flying a kite in a thunderstorm allegedly took place in 1752. Although Franklin was quite a scientist and inventor, which included inventing the lightning rod, scientists such as William Gilbert and Robert William Boyle began documenting the concept of electricity long before Franklin's experiments.

Alessandro Volta (1745-1827) was an Italian physicist that is regarded as one of the greatest scientists of his time. Before we move on to the next section where we look at AC power distribution we give thanks to Alessandro Volta, the scientist who discovered that particular chemical reactions could produce electricity. Volta invented the first battery in 1799 known as the Voltaic Pile. The unit of electromotive force, the volt, was name to honor Volta.

Michael Faraday (1791-1867) British physicist and chemist, demonstrated the first simple electric motor, in 1821, in London. The original "science guy," in 1826 Faraday founded the Friday Evening Discourses and in the same year the Christmas Lectures for young people at the Royal Institution. In 1832 Faraday demonstrated that three types of electricity thought to be different that induced from a magnet, electricity produced by a battery, and static electricity were in fact all the same. Faraday introduced several words into the electricity vocabulary such as ion, electrode, cathode, and anode.

James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) introduced his mathematical conceptualization of electromagnetic phenomena to the Cambridge Philosophical Society in 1855. The Scottish physicist's best-known discoveries concern the relationship between electricity and magnetism and are summarized in what has become known as Maxwell’s Equations. Maxwell's pioneering work during the second half of the 19th century unified the theories of electricity, magnetism, and light.

Graphic: Long before television Michael Faraday nineteenth century scientist and electricity pioneer took science to the people as illustrated here delivering the British Royal Institution's Christmas Lecture for Juveniles during the Institution's Christmas break in 1856.

Learn More:

George Westinghouse used Tesla power to defeat Edison in Currents War

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README 1ST GeekHistory II the sequel

GeekHistory II -

The idea for the website GeekHistory started when I was teaching Internet and web building courses in 1996. I would start each course with a brief history lesson showing the evolution of the internet that started in the 1960s. Some students commented that it was a boring waste of time, some students praised it as an interesting and information introduction to the course.  It seems that history is a topic that people either love it or hate it.

Because of many positive comments by students on the brief history on the internet lesson I registered the domain GeekHistory.com back in 2001 with the hopes of developing a history of technology website. I still have a lot of notes collected over the years. With web site URLs as references for my material. some of my resources are notes from websites that no longer exist. Very few of the sites still exist in the from they did back then. I found a lot of good reference material on the Altavista website. Thankfully I printed a lot of that content and have paper copies of the material in a binder.

GeekHistory was just a shell of a website for many years, just an idea bouncing around in my brain. After more than a decade of owning the domain name GeekHistory.com I finally started devoting time to building the website on the history of technology. In recent years I have immersed myself into research on various topics, looking for the original sources, in order to tell the story of the history of technology based on various generations of ideas and timelines.

We are developing the website GeekHistory like a book with chapters focused on various generations of inventors and inventions.  As we sort through all the information we have gathered over the years, and continue to sort through, we decided to create the companion website GeekHistory II more in the format of an almanac with various lists, fast facts and quick answers to simple questions.

The goal of GeekHistory

My lifelong love of history and technology comes together at GeekHistory. I began working with radios and telecommunications in the Army National Guard in the 1970s and my first certification was a FCC general class radiotelephone license. A life long evolution from field service technician for various office automation companies through my current career in systems administration and telecommunications has inspired me as a writer and web developer of technology topics.

Even though my personal collection of material for the study of geek history dates back to my early days in technology as far back as the 1970s, I am always finding new questions and new myths and legends to address. Through question and answer, Twitter wars, and various other social media outlets, I keep running across myths and misinformation represented as facts, sending me off on a quest to find the truth. Anytime a claim is made or a fact is stated from a website or blog that does not appear to have first hand knowledge of the subject I make a note to follow up on it.   I am continuously finding articles by allegedly credible newspapers and magazines and respected organizations that are based on popular myths, which sets me off in search of original sources of information to find the truth.

I am not a university professor with a team of editors and advisers working with me developing a website. I am one man who loves technology and history and is amazed by how little people know about the great minds in the world of technology. Geek History is not meant to be an authoritative source for technology history. We are just trying to get you to think about the many amazing people that have contributed to the work of technology. Our goal is to increase awareness, educate, and entertain.

One of my inspirations for the Guru42 Universe is the Oliver Wendall Holmes quote, "Man's mind once stretched never goes back to its original dimension." The more I learn about geek history, the more questions I have, and the more I want to know.

The who invented myth and eureka moment that never happened

GeekHistory II -

Every question that begins with "who invented" should get this as an auto response, "it is usually a fallacy to credit a single individual with the invention of a complicated device. Complicated devices draw on the works of multiple people."

We spend a lot of time looking where to give credit to people for various invention when they were nothing more than the next step in the evolution of the world of technology.

Inventions during the Industrial Revolution involved a series of new devices and creations where man power, and literally horse power, was being replaced by machines. From steam engines that turned manual labor in mechanical contraptions, to the automobile, that turned the horse power of a live horse, to the horse power of an internal combustion engine. The inventions of the industrial age were an evolution of doing existing things in very new ways. The 18th century idea of an invention was genuinely more individual and less systemic.

It was a different world in the industrial age of the late 1800s and early 1900s. The greatest minds and the greatest laboratories were not inventing things at universities, but were working in what resembled an industrial machine shop. Thomas Edison institutionalized the concept of the individual inventor, his invention factory took the concept of one man in a lab tinkering with an issue and changed it into project management where one man hired a team to do more than he could as an individual. People say that Edison stole ideas because he had other people do the experiments and he took credit. No, that was the real genius, he created the invention factory. There are many menial tasks that need done, he automated the process.

When the internet and personal computers were being developed in the 1960s and 1970s, most of the geeks were doing their work at universities, much of the work sponsored by government agencies like DARPA (Defense Advance Research Projects Agency.)

What does it take to become a great inventor?

Being an inventor is not a field of study, it is a state of mind. Great inventors, innovators, industrialists, all had one thing in common, a passion for their ideas, and a passion to turn their visions into reality. There are endless stories of "inventors" who were always tinkering with things. They had a burning desire to understand how things worked.

Using a tree branch to help us pry something apart, we have invented a lever. Using a tree trunk that rolls to help us move something heavy, rather than dragging it across a flat surface, we have the beginnings of a wheel. As these very simple solutions to very simple problems became refined, they become inventions.

The nature of man is solving problems, and the solutions to these problems are inventions. And the successful inventor will tell you, it is more than just having an idea, it is turning that idea into something people can use.

Inventor or innovator?

Often there is a bit of a smug attitude that favors giving someone credit for an invention versus just being an innovator. A good example for my thought is remarks I've seen is regarding Henry Ford, "he didn't invent anything."

Even if Henry Ford invented nothing, he changed everything. Ford did not invent the automobile, Ford did not invent the assembly line. What Ford did is improve upon the assembly line with a passion that drove down the price of an automobile significantly. He turned the automobile from just a rich man's toy, to something the average American could afford. Ford improved upon the design of the automobile and the assembly line and revolutionized an industry.

The concept of the automobile, and specifically the electric automobile, is an idea that has been around for more than 100 years. Henry Ford thought about electric automobile, as did other inventors, over a hundred years ago. But what is one of the hottest topics in modern technology? The electric car? There is a fascination in recent years of the work of Tesla Motors and recently Faraday Future made news with the showing of a new electric automobile prototype.

Isn't technology an ongoing evolution of ideas and innovations? Do you see the work of modern electric car companies like Tesla Motors and Faraday Future as inventing new things or combining existing things? The more important question I would ask, is why does that distinction even matter?

In search of the glorified eureka moment

There are many special individuals have those eureka moments, where one idea changes everything. There are visionaries who have an idea and see what is possible before the technology exists to make it real. There are inventors who take visions and made them real. There are innovators who take a good invention and make it great. There are the industrialists who take an invention and develop it into an industry.

Study people to learn from their success, and their failures. Try to understand when a burning desire can turn into a dangerous obsession.

Question everything. Find something that really interests you, and learn everything you can about the topic. How does it work, how could it be made better.

Geeks introduce us to brave new worlds, with visions of the future. Geeks pick up where others left off, to turn a vision into a reality.

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Wondering about the dark web and the forbidden fruit of the internet

Guru 42 Blog -

The phrase forbidden fruit typically refers to engaging in an act of pleasure that is considered illegal or immoral. That fits the mold of many questions I am often asked, such as what are some of the illegal or immoral websites you can find on the mysterious and mythical part of the internet known as the dark web.  The mysterious dark web, sometimes called the dark net, is the fuel for spy movies. it helped to create WikiLeaks run by the super spy Julian Assange and it allows cyber snitches like Edward Snowden share secret information. People are axious to know how to find what is hinding beneath the surface in the dark web.

According to remarks made by Roger Dingledine at a recently Philly tech conference, the overall perception of the dark web is more mythical than factual.  Roger Dingledine is an MIT-trained American computer scientist known for having co-founded the Tor Project, aka "the dark web."  Dingledine spoke at the Philly Tech Week 2017 putting some of the myths and legends of "the dark web" into perspective.

The worldwide network known as “the dark web” uses specially configured servers designed to work with custom configured web browsers with the purpose of hiding your identity. You will see the term Tor servers and web browsers to describe this private network. Tor originally stood for "The Onion Router."  The Tor Project, Inc is a Massachusetts-based research-education nonprofit organization founded by computer scientists Roger Dingledine, Nick Mathewson and five others. The Tor Project is primarily responsible for maintaining software for the Tor anonymity network.

If you are looking for all that forbidden fruit hiding beneath the surface, according to Dingledine no more than one to three percent of the Tor Network’s traffic comes from “hidden services” or “onion services”, services that use the public internet but require special software to access. Dingledine claimed that onion services basically do not exist. He added that it’s a nonsense that there are “99 other internets” users can’t access.

One popular way often used to describe the deep web and dark net is to use a graphic of an iceberg. Dingledine advises his audience not to pay attention when someone uses the iceberg metaphor, and criticized the news providers who use the “iceberg metaphor” for describing the darknet and the deep web.  According to Dingledine, just about any use of the “dark web” phrase is really just a marketing ploy by cybersecurity firms and other opportunists.  So the forbidden fruit you were hoping to find really is just a myth after all.

Learn more:

People are fascinated about what you can find on the dark web, but have no idea what it all means. Learn more from Guru42 in this article where I go over the basic definitions with links to learn more: Buzzwords from the world wide web to deep web and dark net

Referencing Roger Dingledine at Philly Tech Week 2017 here are some links about that event:

Stop Paying Attention When Someone Uses The Iceberg Metaphor For The Dark Web

Stop talking about the dark web: Tor Project cofounder Roger Dingledine

 

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What you need to know before buying a computer

Guru 42 Blog -

At last the secret of what you need to know before buying a computer is revealed, there is no one size fits all answer. But you don’t need to be a world class geek to learn computer buzzwords and understand some basic concepts before you shop for your next computer.

I usually try to stay out of the Apple versus Microsoft debates. Since I am updating some content on desktop operating systems on Computerguru.net I thought I would use this blog post to address the often asked question of "what computer should I buy" and add this perspective. I will also  introduce a few new articles to answer some frequently asked questions relevant to someone shopping for a computer.

Recently on an online forum the question of "what computer should I buy" was asked based on the idea that a MacBook Pro is inherently the best laptop out there. The person asking the question was looking for reasons to buy a MacBook Pro, but gave no clues on how they are going to use it. That is a very important factor in answering the question! I never answer any questions on "what computer should I buy" for friends and family until I ask several questions.

I laughed as I read one of the answers that stated, "If all you are going to do is web surfing, social media, and email you don’t need a MacBook Pro." Yea, that's right. There are Chromebooks as well as cheap Windows notebooks that could do that for a lot less money!

My best advice to anyone looking to buy a computer, think long and hard about how you are going to use it, and find other people with the same wants and needs, and ask them what they own, what they like and not like about it.

I am not a graphics designer or an artist, those are the type of users who are typically the Apple fans. I have been working in enterprise computer networking for more than 20 years, started working on desktop computers in the 1980s. I look at the computer as a tool, and I look at what is the best tool for the task at hand. I have no loyalties to any specific brands.

Many answers comparing Microsoft to Apple often use various luxury car to cheap foreign comparisons, implying if you could afford the expensive luxury car, but choose otherwise, you must be a fool. So let me run with that analogy.

Take a step back and look at the history of Apple versus Microsoft.  In the 1990s when Windows 95 dominated the desktop, Microsoft was the Ford F-150 pick up truck.  Not many people would describe the Ford F-150 pick up truck as a sexy luxury vehicle, but many would describe it as the work horse vehicle that gets the job done.  There's a good case to be made that the folks marketing to the pick up truck users have a different plan than those looking to sell the sexy luxury vehicle.

A computer is a tool I use for work, as well as recreation. I work in a business world that is Microsoft based. We are required to purchase a specific brand of Windows based computers, not my favorite brand, but that's my environment. My problems are no so much with Windows as it is the vendors that support our users create applications that run on old Microsoft operating systems. I have to deal with home cooked applications that are designed for last generation Windows computers. That's my world.

I have had iPads and various other Apple products in my home, and they never got used. Even if the interface is slightly different, I don't have time to deal with it. I have had access to Kindles and Nooks, and they never got used. I can put an application on my Windows notebook that reads the books, so why do I need to learn a new interface? It's called being lazy, I know it is, but I have no personal reason to care about Apple products. It's nothing personal.

If one of my family members wants to buy a luxury car, I will be happy to ride in it. If money were no object, tomorrow I would go out and buy a new Ford F-150 pick up truck that best suited my needs.

I don't get emotionally attached to my computers or automobiles. They are tools. Nothing more.

You too can understand computer buzzwords

Since 1998, ComputerGuru.net has attempted to provide self help and tutorials for learning basic computer and networking technology concepts, maintaining the theme, "Geek Speak Made Simple." Recently I updated the Drupal content management software for Computerguru and updated a few pages.

Based on commonly asked questions, I have added several new pages to the section Common technology questions and basic computer concepts. On computer operating systems we have added an article that explains the major differences between desktop computer operating systems and one on installing Linux and understanding all the different Linux distributions.

I get a lot a questions on computer cables and finally finished up this article on Ethernet computer network cable frequently asked questions answered and an article explaining computer network modular connectors and telephone registered jacks.

And based on many questions on printers, we had some fun coming up with this article, the ugly truth about computer printers.

Yes, I know that sounds like a lot of geek speak, but we do our best to break it all down into small bite sized chunks, so it is easy to digest.  Please take a few minutes to check out the new content, and please share it with your geek friends on social media.

Any topics need covered? Any questions missing?

Are there any buzzwords bothering you?  Something else you would like us to cover here at the Guru 42 Universe?  Let us know: Guru 42 on Twitter -|- Guru 42 on Facebook -|- Guru 42 on Google+ -|- Tom Peracchio on Google  

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