My avatar across the web: a photo of my feet in grey-white socks and brown sandals.

Ben Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

4 Articles from August 2013

  1. Cutting the iTunes cord

    I’ve been using Ubuntu Linux as my primary operating system for several years now. Ever since I first tried Linux, I’ve dual-booted it alongside a Windows installation—this means that when I turn on the computer, I can choose whether to start Windows or Linux. Once upon a time, Windows was the default. No longer!

    Ubuntu has steadily improved over the years, as has my familiarity and proficiency with Linux. Indeed, much of what I do on the computer is faciliated by using Linux. For example, in university I started using LaTeX to typeset math proofs, and Linux has several great LaTeX editors (I like Kile). I also spend a fair amount of time coding, and Linux makes installing development stacks for LAMP or Python a breeze. Plus, I’ve started using git, which on Windows is an experience … well, it’s an experience.

    Still, Windows still has the edge for certain tasks. This includes SMART Notebook, the software I use for preparing lessons—to its credit, SMART has a Linux version, but it doesn’t receive updates as frequently, and it doesn’t perform as well as the Windows version. Steam used to be a major reason for me to boot into Windows,…

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  2. NSA doesn’t need to tap the wires to see your passwords

    I feel like I haven’t been doing much in the way of online consuming lately. I’ve been creating a lot, mostly writing; and most of my consumption has been in the form of good, old-fashioned literature. Still, here’s a few things that caught my eye!

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  3. Assassin’s Creed III and the delicate equilibrium

    I originally wrote this in March and have only now gotten around to publishing it. Go me.

    I’ve already discussed my mad love for the Mass Effect series, so now let’s talk about another series that captured my fairweather gaming heart: Assassin’s Creed. I can’t remember whether I got the original before or after I tried Mass Effect, but those were the first two games I played all the way through when I bought my Xbox 360. And, like the other series, I’ve followed Assassin’s Creed through its various sequels. Back in January, I finished playing Assassin’s Creed III after wrestling with whether to continue it at all. It occurred to me that I have never really set down my thoughts about these games. So, before I pan that one, let me celebrate its predecessors.

    How These Games Earned My Loyalty

    I appreciated the stealth mechanic of Assassin’s Creed, as well as its devotion to sneaking up behind people and stabbing them. Even the original game’s very repetitive and linear storyline, as well as its flat frame story, couldn’t rob me of the enjoyment of hitting that button and sending the game’s world spiralling into chaos,…

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  4. Five years of uninterrupted book reviews

    Next March will be my website’s tenth anniversary and also marks the anniversary of when I feel I became a citizen of the Web. I was jealous of my brother’s “MSN account” and demanded one of my own; from there, I taught myself HTML and built a laughable Geocities website. Indeed, you can still read some blog posts from that time. It’s hard to believe I’ve built up such a lengthy catalogue of my thoughts and feelings through essentially my entire adolescence. (It’s also somewhat scary!)

    Of course, that’s next year’s anniversary. Tonight, though, as I posted yet another book review to Goodreads, I realized I missed another arbitrary base-ten milestone anniversary.

    For the past five years, I have written (and shared) a review of every book I’ve read.

    I joined Goodreads in May of 2008 on the recommendation of a friend, who was a casual user of the site. I quickly became passionate about using Goodreads to organize, interrogate, and express how I read. My to-read shelf has since exploded to encompass nearly 900 titles, and it is going to continue growing. At this rate, if I were to read the books in the order they have…

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