I get asked to provide samples of my writing products, either my technical and business output or, especially now that I’m making forays into science fiction, my “other stuff.”  I post articles about a variety of things here on TheRockjack.com, and I monitor Quora.com regularly, looking for questions where I can share a helpful answer, and opportunities to upvote other great answers. [Short-link to this post: bit.ly/1jH3ssE]

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Answered: a GNU/Linux command options syntax question

My answer to another Quora.com question, this time about GNU/Linux command-line options syntax: “Is a negative sign ‘-‘ used within Linux commands to enable or disable options?”

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Answered: “How long will it be until we run out of notes for classical music?”

Earlier this evening, I enjoyed preparing an answer to the Quora.com question “How long will it be until we run out of combinations of notes for a classical music composition?” Back-of-the-envelope calculations can be interesting and fun, and you don’t really know where it’s all going to lead you until you get there…

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Introducing “The Ben and Kaèly Chronicles” (with free sample)

Over the past year, I’ve started writing science fiction, spurred by the encouragement and friendship of a small community of Colorado-based pro authors. I’ve already got a couple of sci-fi works in-progress, one a solo effort of sort-of warm-up etudes, the other an ambitious epic space opera under collaborative harness with my great friend, award-winning author and colleague Peter J. Wacks.

The etudes have taken form as The Ben and Kaèly Chronicles — I’ve been developing this collection under the auspices and services of LeanPub.com, which makes it possible for me to offer that first story as a free sample, a PDF-file which you are invited to download and read for free here:


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Recovering Linux – 6

This is the sixth installment of a series of posts to document “How I recovered my Linux systems…”  See the first post and second post for the preliminaries, the third post for diagnostics and disassembly, the fourth post for reassembly and hardware checkout, and the fifth post which completes the hardware and software rebuild of my PC-A system… Now, on to my wife’s system, PC-B…

I’ve taken some time in getting back to this, the penultimate post in this series of “recovering Linux,” mostly to be sure that I’d not been fooling myself into a false sense of it’s-fixed-now as I recovered the second of our two Linux systems, PC-B, which suffered a disk failure at roughly the same time as the first, PC-A, system did.  Perhaps not surprisingly, although PC-B seemed to have a hard disk failure similar to PC-A’s, the hardware diagnosis, and thus the fix, took an entirely different turn.

Whereas PC-A’s problem was indeed a hard disk failure (a “disk crash” in the popular vernacular, although nothing actually “crashed”) — readily diagnosed by the audible screeching sound that the disk emitted as it failed — PC-B’s failure mode was, upon subsequent evaluation, quite different.  And although I was prepared to take a similar course of action — hard disk replacement, repartioning and reformatting, operating system reinstallation, and data recovery from backup resources — to repair it, things turned out quite differently.

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Recovering Linux – 5

This is the fifth installment of a series of posts to document “How I recovered my Linux systems…”  See the first post and second post for the preliminaries, the third post for diagnostics and disassembly, the fourth post for reassembly and hardware checkout… 

Disk partitioning is one of those things that most of us can and do take for granted — it’s usually done for us by whoever built our PC and installed the operating system for the first time.  It’s a foundation concept that applies equally to Linux, Mac, Windows and other PC operating system environments, and yet, once “somebody else” does it for a particular PC, the owner/user accepts it and almost never monkeys with it any further.  Why?  Changing a disk’s partitioning often (but not always) involves the complete re-formatting of an existing partition, and when that happens, you’re effectively deleting all data files on that drive partition — you’d better have great, verified backups (for example, local-at-hand backup directories on another at-home system, or a great remote-in-the-cloud backup service like CrashPlan.com) at hand when you undertake any disk re-partitioning exercise.

As a result, these considerations make disk partitioning seem dangerous and difficult to the uninitiated  — fortunately, it’s really not.  All it takes is intention, care and planning; generally, you’re not going to “delete stuff by mistake,” as you’ve got to take several steps with intention, ultimately clicking an “Apply these changes” button before anything destructive happens to your disk drive.  Using a partition editor for “just looking” is harmless, and it takes malice and forethought to do any unintended damage.

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Recovering Linux – 4

This is the fourth installment of a series of posts to document “How I recovered my Linux systems…”  See the first post and second post for the preliminaries, and the third post for diagnostics and disassembly…

Okay, I think I’m ready to power-up my repair-in-progress system.  However, whenever major PC surgery is underway, checking things more than twice is a good idea.  All disconnected cables and signal wires back in proper place?  Loose cable bundles tie-wrapped to something secure?  All screws, er, screwed-in and tightened?  All screwdrivers and stuff out of the box?  All fans unobstructed, and air-flow paths clear so cooling can happen?  Check… check… check… and double-check.

At this point, most folks would replace and secure any enclosure panels and reconnect things like mouse, keyboard, monitor and power cable.  But here, just to be sure that everything’s electrically ready to go, I decided to just plug in the power and do a quick power-on sanity test, just to see fans spin and internal LEDs light up — this would assure me that I’ve got everything hooked up right.

So… carefully!  I plug in the power cord to the rear-panel receptacle and to a handy UPS (uninterruptible power supply) and, gingerly… press the front-panel power button.  Ta-da!…

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