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Drop #122 (2022-10-19): Free Thinking Flea Mart Edition
AI-Driven Blog Augmentation; Pipes vs Humanity; Linux In Your Browser
AI-Driven Blog Augmentation
This section is super short, as the target article is pretty detailed/thorough.
Picking images for section headers in this newsletter is pretty easy. Either a screenshot of a tool/site or some Unsplash image usually suffices as a decent decoration for a given topic. Even on my main blog, the posts are usually about data visualizations, so they tend to take prominence.
Topical blogs are entirely different beasts, especially those in "cyber". We're usually left with tired images of broken/useless locks, robber-masked villains at keyboards, or silly Matrix-esque "cybertext" of some sort.
Daniel Miessler (@danielmiessler), a longstanding cyber-blogger before there was "cyber", came up with a neat way to use GPT-3 summaries of blog articles as prompt inputs to DALL-E to generate unique and shockingly appropriate/cool blog images. The banner image is from a collection he posted over at his post on the topic.
Give it a 👀 and drop some thoughts on whether you're game to try the same on your own blog.
While it might involve some more manual work, you may even want to incorporate the newest AI image hacking tool into an even more customized workflow.
Pipes vs Humanity
Traditional IT/cyber/comp sci/tech experimentation paths are great, but they aren't very inclusive, and we need much more diversity in those spaces. Anytime I see an alternative way to introduce folks to core tech concepts, I dive deep (sometimes, deep-ish) to see if it has legs, and then try to shine a light on the ones that may help make various topics more accessible.
The UNIX Pipe Card Game seems to be something that could make the concept of UNIX pipes — which have, in turn, changed entire programming idioms in some languages — way more fun to learn for the average human.
If I asked you to "print the most common line from a file" (the example from the website), you'd likely shoot something back like:
cat file.txt | sort | uniq -c | sort -n | tail -1
The "cards" answer for this is the section banner image (I did say that I have it easy when it comes to picking images for these newsletters). There are hints/prompts on the card to help explain what the commands do, and the "pipe" creation is nothing more than assembling a deck: something far more humans are familiar with than programming or Linux shells.
The rules are straightforward, the source is free, and pre-made decks are reasonably priced (IMO).
What other unique learning resources have you seen that could help others learn some new tech?
Linux In Your Browser
The previous section introduced me to JSLinux — a collection of Linux emulation environments that work right in the browser. No Docker required. No Vagrant required. No Virtualbox required. No Raspberry Pi required. Talk about democratizing access to risk- and cost-free learning environments!
Virtual machine state can be saved via a free (and no real user details required besides an email addy) account at VFSync.
If you fire up the default one, and then grab
file.txt (as in the example from the previous section) via:
wget https://rud.is/dl/file.txt # YES WGET IS INSTALLED & WORKS ZOMGOSH!
you can run the pipe sequence from that section to get:
This could be a great way to introduce folks to the command line or poke at some sketch files in a pretty safe sandbox.
Our early/absentee voting ballots came Monday and mine was in the drop box today! U.S. folk: if your municipality offers early voting, don't delay! 🗳️ ☮