Book review: Post-Human (Omnibus Edition)

Book cover for Post-Human Series Books 1-4 by David Simpson

I find science fiction fascinating. I’ve written in the past about why I read it. The main reason – it has an uncanny ability to foreshadow the evolution of technology. I’m regularly amazed by an author’s capability to imagine the future.

A case in point is a recurring theme in my science fiction reading – artificial intelligence (better known as AI). In my opinion, we are at the early stages of artificial intelligence. Narrow AI is already here and integrated into our daily routines, whether it be internet searches, directions, or predicting weather patterns. The question is if and when AI becomes more general, and eventually turns into superintelligence. Superintelligence is that point beyond the singularity where machines become smarter than humans at a runaway pace. Predictions abound regarding what happens at that point from catastrophic, apocalyptic outcomes to a wondrous society where all the problems of today have been solved.

In my latest science fiction read, Post-Human (the Omnibus Edition), David Simpson imagines a story arc for AI that starts in the not so distant future and evolves from there.

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Rebooting Startup Lessons

I set a goal five years ago to blog regularly about my day job running a software company. I setup the Startup Lessons category and managed a handful of posts that year before things stalled. Since then, most of my Startup Lessons have been about related books or riffs on interesting posts.

So after a lengthy hiatus, I’ve decided to reboot Startup Lessons. My (new) goal is to write at least one post a month sharing what I’ve learned running a business over the past 15 years.

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Book review: Enlightenment Now

Book cover for Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker

Whether you get your news from the internet, television, newspaper, radio, or any other media outlet, it can be downright depressing. Headlines abound of natural disasters, terrorism, war, territorial disputes, violent crimes, and, these days, continuous coverage of the pandemic. It’s enough to make you think we live in the darkest of times.

This constant negative news cycle led me to read Factfulness by Hans Rosling last year. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It’s one of my Must Reads and at the top of my books to read in 2020. The book puts the news cycle into its proper perspective and makes you realize that we actually live in the best times ever known to humanity.

I’ve made this opinion known to many people, and in one of those discussions, a friend told me that I had to read Enlightment Now by Steven Pinker. Since I like to get input and insight from different sources on a subject, and since this was a very good friend and trusted source, I made it a point to put the book near the top of my reading list for this year.

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My prescription for fixing the Post Office

The United States Post Office (USPS) has been in the news recently, and not necessarily for the right reasons. They’re asking for $89 billion dollars as part of the pandemic bailout packages coming out of Congress to remain solvent. President Trump’s opinion is that they need to fix their operations, starting by charging more to deliver packages (specifically singling out Amazon deliveries). There have been other opinions as well, but you know things have jumped the shark when John Oliver dedicates an entire segment to the topic.

It should surprise no one that I have an opinion on how to fix the post office, too. For whatever reason, it’s something I’ve thought about for quite some time. And while I can’t describe my solution as eloquently or deliver it in the same manner as John Oliver, I’m going to lay it out anyway. Here goes.

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Setting up WordPress for local development

I recently transitioned my local LAMP development stack from Wampserver to Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). You can read about why and how I did it in this post.

One of my primary use cases for having a reliable local LAMP development stack is WordPress theme and plug-in development. In this post, I am going to go over the process I use to install WordPress locally, set up the installation, implement version control, and deploy to a hosted server/production environment.

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To us, it was home

A couple of years ago, our church had a guest pastor who told an interesting story about his childhood. He was an older gentleman, probably in his late seventies or early eighties. He said that in the neighborhood where he grew up, people left their doors unlocked because there wasn’t anything inside worth stealing. The families worked hard and often relied on each other to make ends meet. While it would be considered a poor neighborhood by today’s standards, he and his friends didn’t see it that way. They played games in the streets and in each other’s yards. If he was considered poor, he didn’t know it. In fact, as he put it, “I didn’t know I lived in the ‘hood until I started watching TV. To us it was home.”

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Migrating from WampServer to WSL on Windows

Having a good local environment is important for doing development work, especially web development. It both saves time and makes deployment to production environments easier.

I’ve used WampServer in the past for local development. It’s served me well, but it seems to have stagnated since I upgraded to version 3.0. I had looked into switching to Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) over a year ago, but it felt like it needed to mature, which it has. So, in this post, I am going to outline the steps I took to transition my local development environment from WampServer to WSL.

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Change

Calls for change are a regular refrain these days. Maybe it’s because we all have a voice via social media and the internet. Maybe it’s because it’s an election year. Maybe it’s the effects of being quarantined for the last 6 weeks.

Whatever the case may be, there’s no shortage of calls to change our current attitudes, behaviors, and/or laws to stem the effects of climate change, improve the safety of public places, provide access to health care, reduce the number of homeless, and the list goes on.

When calling for change, we (which includes me) ask questions like why aren’t people doing more? Why aren’t our community leaders and government officials responding to calls for action? Why aren’t businesses, both big and small, stepping up to support and improve the communities they do business in?

While these and others are all great questions, perhaps the questions we should be asking is how can I effect change? How can I influence things? How can I become part of the solution?

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