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#861: Raspberry Pi, Privatize Your Personal Data, A Fresh Start

 
     
 

Hello all,

I know I said that I liked the end result of DST last week, but this weekend brought home the reality of just how miserable the transition can be. Last night while making dinner, I looked out the window and saw that I had enough light to see every yard project that I didn’t do last fall and then colorfully thanked every dog owner who decided to let their little buddies offline (so to speak) during winter.

On the bright side, the early spring forecast (somehow made) by a groundhog in Pennsylvania may indeed be approaching. It’s been pretty mild here and earlier than usual — we are seeing yet again that Burlington, VT is frankly, a pretty ugly place after the snow disappears and before it gets green.

If winter does come back, Kyle has a project to keep away the winter blues — he’s written an article about it this week. As always, thanks for reading.

Thanks for reading,

Liam
liam@smalldog.com

 
   
     
  Raspberry Pi  
   
 

For those of you innovators out there looking for your next project, here’s something recently brought to my attention: the do-it-yourself Raspberry Pi. Developers out there have been able to take the modern day computer and make it even smaller. Imagine taking a Mac mini and sticking it in a case the size of an Altoids tin.

The Raspberry Pi is a small computer with an SD card slot that you can load an OS (preferably Linux) on. Once you have the OS on an SD card, connect that so it acts as your hard drive, attach an LCD display (with the proper know-how) and a power supply, and you’ll have a working Linux-based computer capable of normal everyday tasks and basic gaming — all on a machine the size of a credit card.

It’s an open source platform that you can pick up for about $35 and create whatever you want. The creativity that some people put into using the Raspberry Pi is really amazing — some have even gone so far as to create their own version of the Google Glass project, a miniature arcade, and a briefcase laptop!

The Google Glass replication really caught my attention and sparked my imagination. Among the tools used: a set of MyVu crystal video glasses designed for iOS devices, a portable cell phone charger, and a Bluetooth keyboard/trackpad combo. With a Linux operating system and a USB Air-card from your local wireless store, you literally have a wearable computer with a constant connection to the internet (depending on your wireless coverage area).

Now, due to the resources available to open-source platforms like this, a wearable computer has almost endless and certainly exciting possibilities. For instance, connect a webcam to the MyVu glasses and you can stream everything you are doing directly to the internet.

What you create doesn’t have to be a wearable computer. Maybe you miss the Super Nintendo; someone used a Raspberry Pi to rebuild one of those with original Super Nintendo controllers. One guy even created a system to open his garage door using Siri.

The possibilities are endless — what will you create? Below is a link to an article that shows some great Raspberry Pi projects.

10 Great Raspberry Pi Projects.

 
   
     
  Privatize Your Personal Data  
   
 

It’s useful to know, as a Mountain Lion user, what private data specific applications are accessing, and how to set/reset that. This can be achieved in the Security & Privacy preference pane within System Preferences, but changes can also be made within Terminal.

Using the tccutil command, the user can reset all access to different segments of the privacy database, such as Address Book or Location Services. This is helpful if you are comfortable in Terminal, and need to quickly remove all application’s access to this data. The command is simple.

Open a Terminal window, and type:

tccutil reset [service name]

You will replace [service name] with the name that Terminal associates with the specific privacy data. For Address Book, the service name is simply AddressBook, and for Location Services, it’s CoreLocationAgent.

Then input:

tccutil reset AddressBook

It will remove all access any applications currently have to your Address Book. From there, when you open an application that would like access to the Address Book, it will prompt you for permission. The same goes for Location Services.

If you are not comfortable with using Terminal, the same task can be accomplished within the Security & Privacy preference pane (with a much prettier interface).

 
   
     
  A Fresh Start  
   
 

Some issues on your Mac can be resolved by reinstalling the operating system. In the past, all Mac desktops and portables came with a dedicated recovery disc for that machine, but Macs shipping with 10.7 (OS X Lion) or later do not come with recovery discs.

These newer machines have the recovery files on a separate partition on the hard drive. Knowing these steps can come in handy if you ever need to reinstall the operating system to resolve a software problem or upgrade to a larger drive. It is also useful if you want to wipe your data and install a clean version of the Mac OS before selling or giving away your machine.

There are two types of installs. You can do a clean install, which will format the hard drive and erase all data, and then install a clean version of the OS. The other option is an OS reinstall which installs just the important OS files and leaves the user data intact.

Before doing either of these, it is important to back up all important data due to the possibility of failure during the installation process that can compromise your data.

These steps only apply to machines running 10.7 (OS X Lion) or 10.8 (OS X Mountain Lion), and require a high-speed internet connection. The actual OS files are located on Apple’s servers, and are downloaded every time you install.

Warning: Make sure all important data is backed up before proceeding.

1. While the machine is shut down, power the machine on and hold down the Option key. Then select Recovery HD.

2. After selecting the*Recovery HD* it will boot to the Mac OS Utilities window.

  • If you want to Install the OS and keep the user data intact, select Reinstall Mac OS X.
  • If you want to reinstall the OS and erase all data, select Disk Utility. Then select the hard drive in the left hand column. Select erase from the second tab, and then erase at the bottom right to confirm wipe. Then close Disk Utility and select Reinstall Mac OS X.

3. After the installation completes the machine will reboot.

Stay tuned for part two next week on how to create a bootable Lion or Mountain Lion USB flash drive.

 
   
     
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