Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Virtualizing instead of Portabilizing Apps

I just found a cool, online tool that combines two of my favorite computing concepts: portable apps and virtualization. Check it out on turbo.net. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to make their apps take up less memory, increase the startup times for apps, and try new apps without installation. With the turbo client, you can create small virtual machines called "containers" which houses the app and stores all the app data and registry keys outside the host system. The website already has many images of popular applications which you can use to build the container. If you sign up for an account, you can store an image of your containers in the turbo repository. If you also have the turbo plug-in for Google Chrome, you can also run the images right from the website. Otherwise, using the turbo client requires you to get comfortable using the command prompt. Using turbo has some advantages and disadvantages over portablizing apps and using virtual machines, which I listed below.

Pros Cons
  • try new apps without installing
  • User friendly website
  • Online hub has wide variety of popular software
  • possible and easier to virtualize complicated software such as Google Sketchup
  • Containers have low memory footprint
  • A lot easier to access host system files in containers than in virtual machines
  • Virtualizing apps seems like a simpler process than portabilizing them
  • After two runs, turbo apps have much shorter startup time than portable or installed apps
  • Running web browsers in containers is a good way to prevent viruses and hackers from infecting the host system
  • Better for apps that need constant updates (compared to portable apps on a flash drive)
  • Apps only run on computers with Turbo Client
  • Web browsers don't seem customizable (can't add plug-ins or themes)
  • Some of the apps might suddenly stop working, even though it worked perfectly well before (happened with Inkscape)
  • Windows only

Using Turbo in CMD

It's very easy to get started. For convenience, I listed all the basic commands from the turbo docs. This will allow most people to use the apps from the turbo website which are already virtualized. You can use the hub to see all the available apps and get the image name for it. To virtualize a new app with turbo, I will make a tutorial in a future post.

List all turbo commands


List options for a command

turbo help command

Run a program without saving the new container

turbo try image name

Create New Container with image and run it

Note: By default, the container will be completely isolated from the host system, so you can't access files from the host system or save files there (useful for securing web browser). If you add the merge option, you will be able to interact with the host (useful for editors and apps with plug-ins).
turbo run image name
turbo run --isolate=merge image name

Create a new container with image

turbo run image names

List all containers on computer

turbo containers

Run an existing container

turbo start container ID

Delete Containers

turbo rm container ID

Make Shortcut to Run Container

Note: The install command will create a shortcut in the start menu and add it to the host's program list. You can't move it anywhere else without losing the icon. You can add another icon by right-clicking and selecting 'Properties'. Alternatively,you can create a shortcut in file explorer and link it to the turbo command for running an existing container.
turbo install container ID

Monday, August 1, 2016

Review: God's Debris: A Thought Experiment

God's Debris: A Thought Experiment God's Debris: A Thought Experiment by Scott Adams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this was a fun, intriguing read. It's mostly because I read this like a science fiction or fantasy story, instead of as an academic thought experiment. Because of all the disclaimers in the foreword and Adam admitting that he used some hypnotic mind-tricks in the book, I don't believe that Adam meant this to be a serious philosophical discussion--to the exasperation of many intellectual zealots. However, he did suggest to find a buddy to discuss this book with. So, it seems that he did intend to get people to think in a new way which is what many fictional works do anyways. To that end, I think he did a good job. I've never heard of anyone else describe probability as the core essence of God, but that's actually the best justification of an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God that I've heard in the atheist/theist discussions. He's also on-point about human brains being delusion generators, and how that sometimes lead us to mistake scientific models for reality.

There were some things I disagreed with, such as his deterministic argument. My inner,latent skeptic also became defensive when the characters started talking about quantum physics. I'm definitely no expert, but my experience has shown me that laymen who confidently talk about quantum physics grossly misrepresent it. This is where reading this as science fiction lets me enjoy the book without fussing over misinformation. Other than that, my one disappointment with the book is that I didn't feel any of the hypnotic effects.

On a side note, the characters seem like the sort of people that I would love to meet and enjoying chatting with. This would've made a good origin story for my favorite character in the Dilbert animated series: the mysterious garbageman.

P.S Don't spend $9.99 on an iTunes copy when the author released it online for free: http://blog.dilbert.com/post/102627972246/most-widely-read-ebook-in-the-world

View all my reviews