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The Actuator – June 3rd

Level 17

I hope you all had a safe and restful holiday weekend. Summer is finally upon us, and parts of our world are reopening. We’re grateful the weather has allowed for us to spend time working outside at night and on the weekends. I hope everyone reading this is able to find some enjoyable outside activities this summer.

As always, here's a bunch of links I hope you find useful. Enjoy!


SpaceX makes history with successful first human space launch
This was wonderful to watch during the weekend, serving as a nice distraction from other events.

Maze: the ransomware that introduced an extra twist
Not a new idea, as Sony was threatened with leaked data years back. But now it appears the concept is coming to mainstream ransomware as well.

Facebook reportedly ignored its own research showing algorithms divided users
Maybe it’s time we just told Facebook to shut down.

Bow, Humans: Trillions of Cicadas Are Going to Rule America
Looks like I’ll be using my noise cancelling headphones in my fire pit.

Beer rating app reveals homes and identities of spies and military bods, warns Bellingcat
It’s probably best if we all understand how everything you share online can, and will, be used against you at some point.

Never Go Back to the Office
Chances are your office wasn’t built with the idea of minimizing the risk of infection. It will take time before a closed environment is considered safe.

You can now surf in Microsoft’s Edge browser
Once you start, it’s hard to stop. And I resisted the urge to make a joke about surfing the web in Edge. You’re welcome.


That’s me, watching my girl Endeavour roar as she leaves Earth for the last time with STS-134.


Level 10

@sqlrockstar  That's a fantastic pic of the shuttle launch!  I got to see Endeavor's last flight to CA (they did a nice fly-over of Tucson, a salute to Mark Kelly). I think at least half of Tucson stopped what they were doing and went out to watch it. Good times 🙂

Level 12

Great, another time waster for me. Thanks edge. 😁👾😠

Level 12

My productivity was almost zero last Wednesday as I watched launch prep then scrub efforts. Saturday was thrilling! Really notable for how typical it was of any other SpaceX launch.

Level 14

@sqlrockstar very cool shot of the rocket launch.... always wanted to be there for a launch..very jealous.

Bringing competition to ROSCOMOS sounds like a good idea.

Assuming that several successful flights, and one successful flight carrying astronauts (which isn't yet 100% since they haven't safely returned to Earth) may be overly optimistic.  It ignores the track record of the U.S. Space Shuttle program.  It, too, had good numbers of successful flights.  

Still, I want the optimism.  Pessimists are rarely disappointed in a painful way (she probably won't want to date me--HEY!  She said YES!!), but they're tedious folks to communicate with.  I hope to improve on that with Actuator comments, but it's hard when the topics often show inhumanity or uncaring sides of businesses or people.

I'm all for the successful space program!

Aaaand, just like that, MAZE ransomware pushes me right back into pessimism mode.

Let's get back to basics:  

  • Teach children polite social behavior.  Reward it and reinforce it.
  • Don't trust anyone to always do the right thing.  Trust BUT VERIFY.
  • Eliminate bullying. It's a path to future wrong-doing.  Eliminating it is tough--a person has to be in the classroom, on the playground, in the halls, on the school bus, and IN THE INTERNET.  Yep, virtually impossible.  But "virtual" means "in essence, but not in fact".

This stuff is possible.  Raise several generations of kids this way, and stop handing down prejudice and stories of "them" and "us".  Forgive past offences and move on instead of raising kids to mistrust or hate an ethnic group or a religion or a country.

Extend the three bullets (above) to business, to personal relations, to parent-child relations, and ALWAYS act like you're the one others are looking to as an example of how to behave correctly.

We'll have this fixed in no time if we can apply this universally.

What?  You're skeptical or pessimistic?  Hey--that's MY job!


For Facebook, it appears to all be about money.  When their own internal research says the results of their algorithms is bad for people, but they ignore that research because changing their ways to be better for people "might hurt engagement".

Hey FB:  Did you ever think doing a kinder job might ENHANCE or INCREASE engagement?  You might be able to make a boat-load more money annually by helping build a world where people work together with each other to form a greater collective "we", instead of facilitating hurtfulness and splitting people into smaller and smaller groups that fragment continually and support an "us versus them" society.



Cicadas.  I grew up with them "singing" in tree tops in the late summer, just north of St. Paul, MN.  It was rare to see one down at ground level, and when we DID find one we'd be perplexed at its shape & color.  Sort of like a beautiful tree-leaf-green, and sort of like an art-deco / abstract / aerodynamic version of the "grasshopper of tomorrow".

My parents grew up in North Dakota in the roaring 20's, and the Great Depression, and the Dust Bowl days.  They occasionally told me stories of watching the sky turn dark and become completely black as grasshoppers blocked out the sun on their journeys to find new fields to strip.  The bugs left nothing to harvest, nothing to sell.  They'd crawl into the homes & outhouses through every crack.

It sounded like a nightmare to me.

Now, with even more people in the world depending on farms for food, and with a warmer world due to our inappropriate use of fossil fuels, that pessimistic side of me expects Cicadas / Locusts / Grasshoppers may have an even stronger impact on our lives.

A Beer-Rating apps that reveals locations of anyone.  Hey, it's another way folks have taken the fun out of the Internet by mining anything you think might be enjoyable.  

Remember folks, if you aren't buying products to pay for the service you're using, the service is selling your information to others to pay for their labor.

Regarding The Atlantic's article about going home to telecommute to work and never going back to work, I'm up for that.

I worked for some months away from the office as a best practice to delay the COVID-19 surge from overwhelming our local health care systems' ICCU's, and it's working.

My productivity didn't decrease when I went home, and the company indicated they thought this was going to be the new normal.

I'm for working from home.  My sole drawback was my employer didn't let me take my ergonomic chair home, although I was allowed to bring my laptop computer, mouse, three large screen monitors, a high-end IP camera, speakers, etc.  I had to provide the desk and chair, and it took a while to come up with an environment that didn't quickly aggravate my wrist into carpal tunnel unhappiness, but I got it going eventually.  It's sweet.  The commute is ten seconds from bedroom to desk.  I ended up happier because I had more sleep-in time in the morning, and more time for home projects & hobbies immediately after work. 

No more 45 minutes driving each way to/from work.  No more parking hassles at work.  No more worries about bad weather affecting my drive.  No more impolite drivers breaking speed laws or being unkind/uncaring.

I'm 100% for working from home full-time.

Using MS Edge to play their "Surf" game?  Sorry; let's get outside and get moving.  Less screen time, more healthy activity, more talking (remotely/safely) with the neighbors across the fence or road.

Level 14

Ahh... the "New Normal" debate/theory!

Sad truth is that most office environments are by design "tight" or as an old boss used to say, cubicle farms are office cord wood! To meet the "New Normal" realities, more office space is needed, a big hit to the bottom line. I see remote work getting a boost from this, but soon (1-2 years) down the line, the distributed work force will be called back to the office. (one individuals humble opinion)!

Meanwhile, I am productive and comfortable in my remote office, fridge, coffee machine close by... Every day is jeans (or shorts) day! Last but not least, my wife likes it, she tells me it is a dry run for what life will be like when I retire... (hmmm...)

Level 14

Surfing and Edge..... to finally do on a computer something I haven't a remote chance of being successful doing in real life!!!




So how long is The EDGE going to stay!!???   I heard that they will be tanking it 


@zennifer I hadn't heard I will be on edge to find out when it will be gone;)





I wasn't able to watch the SpaceX launch online although I did see some live footage 1-2 hours beforehand.  

Funny, there was a time when all space launches were a big thing.  While I have not seen a launch in person, I do hope one day to have that experience.  My most personal experience with the shuttle program was spent in East Texas taking part in the recovery of the Columbia.  While a somber experience, it was great meeting and working with huge variety of people from all over the US and some from overseas.  

About the Author
Thomas LaRock is a Head Geek at SolarWinds and a Microsoft® Certified Master, SQL Server® MVP, VMware® vExpert, and a Microsoft Certified Trainer. He has over 20 years experience in the IT industry in roles including programmer, developer, analyst, and database administrator.