Book review: Upgrade

Book cover for Upgrade by Blake Crouch

Growing up, I remember marking the calendar and patiently waiting for new movies to open in theaters. I remember waiting every fall for new seasons of my favorite television shows like Seinfeld and Cheers. Never in a million years did I think I would eagerly wait for the availability of a book. Yes, a book. Those things you read.

Well, it’s happened. I’ve become one of “those people.”

I’ve been a big fan of Blake Crouch’s writing since reading the Wayward Pines trilogy. I’ve read Dark Matter, Recursion, and short stories he’s written. I like his style, the pace of his books, and how he often weaves plausible technology and hard science fiction concepts into his stories.

So yes, I had the date circled on my calendar for the release of his latest novel, Upgrade.

Continue reading

Optimizing Apache and php-fpm settings for EC2 micro and nano instances serving WordPress websites

After upgrading an Amazon EC2 instance from PHP 7.2 to PHP 7.4, I ran into a problem – the server would regularly hang. Sometimes it would happen after a few days. Sometimes it would take a month. In either case, websites served by the instance became unresponsive. The only way to get things back online was through a hard reboot, which a few times had to be done at the Amazon console level. It was not a good situation.

Through lots of research and reading, I finally feel like I have things under control. If you’re struggling with a similar problem, here’s what I did to fix it. The server has went over 4 months without requiring a hard reboot since making the changes.

Continue reading

Book review: Project Hail Mary

Book cover for Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

The more science fiction I read, the more I find myself drawn to certain authors. Whether it’s their style of writing, their storytelling ability, or their imagination of what’s possible, there is something about their work that speaks to me.

One such author who I particularly enjoy reading is Andy Weir. I’ve read Artemis, Randomize (a short story from Amazon’s Forward Series), and The Martian, which is still one of my favorite books of all time.

So when Andy Weir’s latest book, Project Hail Mary, hit the shelves, it was a no-brainer to add it to my reading list, and to make sure that it ended up near the top of it.

Continue reading

Words Matter

Our choice of words, spoken or written, imbues meaning. It determines what we communicate. It affects our ability to solve problems. The way we describe, or frame, a problem can make all the difference in our ability to resolve it.

Here are three mistakes that I commonly make that demonstrate why carefully and properly choosing words matter.

Continue reading

Book review: Tiny Habits

Book cover for Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg

To be successful, it’s imperative that you have lofty expectations and set at least one big, audacious goal. Having such a goal can be overwhelming. It begs the question, how do you go about achieving it?

The simple answer is that it’s like eating an elephant. It’s too big to eat all at once. It needs to be broken down into smaller pieces. You have to do it one small bite at a time. Still, it requires a process. That’s where Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything by BJ Fogg can help.

Continue reading

Sustainable Energy, Self-Driving Cars, Robots, Starships, and AI-Augmented Humans

One of my guiding philosophies is that ideas are cheap. Ideas don’t lead to success. Successful people are those who take ideas and follow-through. They implement them. They make them happen. The bigger the idea, the bigger the success.

If you agree with my philosophy, then Elon Musk’s success should not surprise you. He has taken big ideas like mass-market electric vehicles and reusable rockets and turned them into a reality. Therefore, when he starts talking about his vision of the future, I listen.

Earlier this month, he sat down with the head of TED, Chris Anderson, for an interview that covered a wide range of topics. Musk talked about his vision for sustainable energy by 2050, when autonomous vehicles would be a reality, household robots, armadas of starships taking people to Mars, and his plan to augment humans with AI and why it needs to happen.

It’s a rather long interview at just over an hour, but worth your time if you have any interest in how the future may unfold. Usually I would discount this kind of “crazy” talk, but Musk has a track record of making it happen. I’ve included additional interviews of Musk below that date back to 2013 if you want to see how his past predictions have panned out. Spoiler alert: they were pretty spot on, especially when you consider how big the vision is.

Continue reading

The Gas Station of the Future

Tesla Charging station - Kettleman City, CA

On our recent trip to Bandon Dunes, Brad and I chose to make the drive in his Tesla. Two reasons factored into our decision. The first was $6 gas prices. Second was trying out the charging experience on a long distance road trip. Kettleman City was our first charging stop, and I’m here to tell you that I’ve seen the future, the future of what a gas station (aka charging station) will be.

Continue reading

Half Moon Bay: Old Course vs Ocean Course

18th hole at the Half Moon Bay Old Course

On the way back from our epic Bandon Dunes experience, Brad and I stopped off at Half Moon Bay to play a round. I’d been wanting to play Half Moon Bay for years, and this was perfect way to end the trip.

Originally, we had only planned on playing the Old Course. However, after completing our round in a tidy 3 hours, I twisted Brad’s arm and convinced him to play the Ocean Course. It was a treat since I wasn’t sure when I would get a chance to return to Half Moon Bay.

Below are my thoughts on the two courses, including which I liked best.

Continue reading

Book review: Qualityland

Book cover for Qualityland by Marc-Uwe Kling

With each passing day, computer algorithms are increasingly controlling and directing our lives. The big tech companies have developed algorithms that touch every part of our daily activities. They dictate our search results, filter the articles in our news feeds, show us the products we didn’t even know we want (or need), recommend places to go, suggest who our friends are, tell us who we should date, and more.

In theory, all of these computer controlled algorithms are designed to optimize our existence, but what if things go awry? What if the algorithms are wrong? What would happen if they instead made a complete mess of things?

Welcome to Qualityland by Marc-Uwe Kling.

Continue reading