C. G. McGinn


Ramblings about Books and Writing

Filtering by Tag: tech

Who Owns the Future by Jaron Lanier

There are far too many, gee-wiz, oh wow, the Internet of Things fanatics writing about tech. Everything Silicon Valley comes up with isn’t great, but those who report on it would have you believe otherwise.

Adam Curry calls these folks, Tech-Horny’s.

I like nay-sayers in the tech industry—those who question the status quo. People like John C Dvorak, who was a columnist for PCMag for three decades, who ‘made the mistake’ of writing a column disparaging the 5G broadcast spectrum, and was unceremoniously fired. Read all about it here. And here is the damning article taken down from PCMag: WaybackMachine

This brings to mind a rather grim quote by the late Michael Crichton—spoken through the voice of the late Ian Malcolm:

Scientists are actually preoccupied with accomplishment. So they are focused on whether they can do something. They never stop to ask if they should do something.
— Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park

Are there dinosaurs, in this dinosaur park?

Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park

5G might not be as bad as an island full of dinosaurs, but the scary reality is: we don’t know that for certain. We don’t know what the invisible waves of cellular signals are doing to our bodies, just as we don’t know what social media is doing to our minds. Its all just cool and awesome and shiny and new, and we think…great!

Jaron Lanier has been working in the Valley since the early 80’s. He currently works for Microsoft. He’s one of the smartest tech guys I have had the pleasure of reading and in his own, optimistic way, he too is a nay-sayer.

In Who Owns the Future he says, ‘nay’ to our current social media setup—where the few (Facebook, Google, Twitter) make money off of the many (us). He proposes a new system in which the many can make money by charging for the data they create.

In our present, data is free but we are subjected to advertisements and any information the big companies of Silicon Valley can glean from us is bought and sold, often without our full understanding or consent.

In Lanier’s idealistic future, we are in control of what we share, and we get paid for doing so. I’m paraphrasing. Lanier uses a lot of lofty language to get his point across and I will probably have to read this book two or three more times to truly capture the elusive spirit of it.

Where Dvorak is a cynic, Lanier is optimistic. However what they both have in common is that they actually question the status quo in the tech industry—a very rich conglomerate of corporations that can literally get someone fired for not being lockstep with the current narrative.

Sounds like the plot of a grim near-future novel, only all to real.

Editing Made Easy with RD Client

I've started editing my 'short' story and I've come up with a very comfortable means of doing this. I've made a point not to chain myself to my desk for the editing . I really want to keep this stage in the writing process about cleaning up embarrassing spelling and grammatical errors, and less about rewrites. I really want a very clean first draft to start revisions from and since I've not finished the story yet, I cannot consider these initial revisions part of a new draft. Not being at a desk, with a keyboard keeps me from rewriting when I should be writing. 

How I've achieved this is using my iPad and a little app made by Micro$oft called RD Client, which is available on the iTunes and GooglePlay store. RD Client turns your tablet into a Windows Desktop. But it's not just any Windows Desktop. This is YOUR Windows Desktop. Interacting with the desktop from your tablet is very responsive because RD Client only works within your home network and does not need to travel outside the network in the way similar products like TeamViewer have to in order to authenticate.

The experience is access to my entire personal computer, which means I have access to the full version of M$ Word instead of a dumb'd-down 'tablet' version. I am able to edit my work while sprawled out on the couch. The onscreen keyboard allows me to make corrections, additions or subtractions, but is cumbersome enough to discourage me from rewriting entire sections of work. It can be done however, and I've already found that I have added entire paragraphs using just the onscreen keyboard. But it is still a bit too awkward to do any substantial, long-term work. If I connected a Bluetooth keyboard that may be a different story and I may end up doing that for a writing session in the very near future. But it's really working great for this editing/first-read-through process. 

Setting this up is also very simple:

1. Make sure your tablet is connected to your home network.

2. Make sure your Home PC is ON (duh!)

3. On your Home PC, go to the Start Menu and Right-Click Computer

4. Locate where it says Computer Name: , and write down the name of your computer. Chances are it says something generic and dumb like "Owner-PC". Maybe now would be a good time to make your computer less dumb and change the name to something awesome like SHUTtheFKUPDONNIE, or IWRITEBKS4LULZ.

4.5. If you get an error trying to connect by the Computer Name, you'll have to use an IP address. To do this, go to the Start Menu and in the box that says Search for programs and files type cmd and hit ENTER. In the black box type ipconfig and hit ENTER. Write down the string of numbers to the right of IPv4. This is your IP address and 2 examples of what it should look like are: or They are always 4 groups of numbers separated by periods (.)

5. On your tablet, open the RD Client app and select New Remote Desktop.

6. Under Connection Name, type a name for your computer. This is handy if, like me, you have a lot of different computers to keep track of. This name can be anything. You can call it something like Home Desktop, or Home Laptop, or even just a bunch of nonsense so long as you know what computer your accessing.

7. Under PC name, you are going to want to type the actual name of your computer described in Step 4. So go ahead and type in "Owner-PC" ;-p

7.5 Again, if you're getting an error connecting, go back to Step 4.5, get the IP address and then type it in, in replace of the Computer Name.

8. Under User Name type the Username and Password you use to log into your home PC. If you don't use a username and password to login to your PC,  then I see you like to live dangerously. I'm not sure if leaving this field blank will work. Windows has a fetish for security. You may need to secure your computer if you're getting errors connecting.

9. Ignore Gateway, hit Save, and then tap your newly created Computer entry to connect. If you get a Certificate Error, simply click Always Allow. If you can't connect, check your firewall or call tech support. Leave a comment below and I may be able to walk you through it.