Mental Health and Celebrity Culture

Mental Health and Celebrity Culture

Mental health and celebrity culture is a hard to think about subject. Especially if you are like me, someone living daily with the battles of mental illness. You know it’s always something that will connect with you, but you don’t pay much attention until you see the news headlines. This month, it came in the form of Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington committing suicide.

Immediately after the news broke online, the statuses and tweets started rolling out. Including mine.

Whether you want to admit it or not, Linkin Park has probably influenced you, your music taste, or the musicians you…

Posted by John Taylor on Thursday, July 20, 2017

My take on these events tends to be a bit different than some others. Yes, I was saddened to hear the news. Just like I was to hear about Robin Williams. But this time was different. In Williams’ case, he didn’t show the world any outward signs that things were wrong. He had talked about it before in interviews, but not a lot. We didn’t know Robin Williams to make us sad. He made us extremely happy. And that was part of the devastation of the news.

In the case of Chester Bennington, he had given the world so much notice about what was going through his head. His lyrics said it all to us. Yet, it still came as a shock to us. Why did it do that? Why did we not see it before hand? How come nobody had really tried to reach him?

I don’t have the answers to these questions though I wish to God I did. But there’s other questions I want answers to concerning mental health and celebrity culture. Like, why is a celebrity considered brave for posting about their struggles and I’m told to “get over it” and “stop being selfish”? How come a celebrity gets an outpouring of support and I get only one message asking me if I’m okay? Why do we not ever think to reach out to celebrities like they are one of us and offer genuine support and not just “prayers” with a praying hands emoji?

This is particularly difficult when it comes to being male. Men are supposed to be the sociological idea of “masculine”. We’re not supposed to show our feelings on the outside and most definitely shouldn’t talk about it with our friends. This societal perception is killing men at a rapid pace, and it doesn’t seem like it ends with us “normies”.

Sometimes it is easier to see in celebrities. Chester Bennington put his thoughts out there in his lyrics. Why didn’t we take it more seriously? Robin Williams was on the opposite end of the spectrum. We had no clue from an outside perspective. And only his closest friends and family could know how much he felt comfortable reaching out.

So why is it that celebrity culture and mental illness are such confusing, crisscrossed subjects? There are three distinct occurrences that can be observed when taking these two subjects together. First, the god-like stature and hero status we give celebrities who come out with their issues. Second is the non-existent “agreements” we make to be there for friends and family. Lastly, is the non-existent real support for celebrities who don’t go through the battle as smoothly as others.

Celebrity Culture Gods

Let me say this. I get it. Celebrities are famous and have the possibility of reaching millions with their messages. So when a celebrity comes out publicly about their mental health, it makes a huge impact. However, I don’t always see this impact as great. In one post, people are talking about how brave these people are because they “are real”. In a different comment section they are telling others to get over themselves, that they are weak, and selfish. This is a good thing?

The people on the bad end of this two-way street are often still the headlines of other news articles. The ones dedicated to B section back pages that people see and go “Huh, I didn’t see that coming” before moving on. Those of us who speak publicly about our struggles often get chided and forgotten. Making us feel like we shout to the void. I don’t want to be someone’s hero, or be famous. I just want my voice to make a difference too.

Empty Promises

Would you call 911 for someone you only know online to try to help save their life? Would you think to try to contact local family and friends, and local places where help can be found? Probably not. I’ve done this twice in the last year, and multiple times in my lifetime. When we post about what we promise people in the wake of celebrity news, most of us can’t say we’ve kept that promise.

Sharing the suicide hotline number in a status that says “Copy and paste, do not share” is one thing. Actually listening on messenger for hours, or calling the person, or even meeting them face to face is another. It’s a bullshit paradigm that says “We don’t care about somebody nobody else is talking about them” and routinely acting shocked at an outcome that we might have had the power to prevent. It’s a sickening outcome of celebrity culture and mental illness intersecting each other. And it REALLY pisses me off.

Leaving them Hanging

On the other hand, there are the celebrities who slide through this hero status, to be forgotten until the headlines. And we sit back and say “Where were the warning signs?” People write and say “Hey, your lyrics helped me” or “Your story touched me” which has to be encouraging. But who is writing them and saying “How are you doing? I mean, really how are you doing?” Could this help? Maybe, maybe not. It’s that way in any situation for anyone battling a pit of darkness.

Why do we not hear stories about multiple celebrities lifting each other up? Why don’t we see them actively trying with others instead of trying to have their story published more than the other? Do you see where I’m going with this? Celebrities and mental health equate to the same as the rest of us. Empty and broken promises, and a wall of shame and emptiness that make it hard to climb out.

There isn’t really a coherent point to this post. Well, maybe a couple. Mental illness is not a joke, not an excuse, and not selfish. It is a battle, a reason, and something that affects more than just one person. Celebrity or normie, we are ALL in this together. Nobody should have to fight alone. Nobody should be made to feel their illness is inferior to others. Keep your promises. REALLY listen to your friends. Be prepared to make tough calls and save a life.

It’s been past time to start taking mental illness seriously, to oust those who abuse the words, to encourage those who live that world, and to finally come to terms with the fact that we can all be okay in the end.

If you are having thoughts of harming yourself and you need someone to talk to, we encourage you to call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (United States) at 1-800-273-8255. There is also a texting version if you have anxieties about talking to a person over the phone. The number for the texting suicide hotline is 741-741-START.
Seven Outstanding Pi Projects

Seven Outstanding Pi Projects

Raspberry Pi

I asked Twitter the other day what people’s favorite Raspberry Pi projects are. Nobody responded because nobody cares that I’m on the Tweeter, but my sister sent this response.

Funny, that sister of mine is.

Anyway, I ordered a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B from Amazon this week. For those that don’t know, the Raspberry Pi is what they call a Single Board Computer or SBC. Not to be confused with an SBD which is something completely unrelated. I was pretty stoked because the kit was a bargain complete with case, heat sink, Pi, and power supply.

The first Pi product I had was an Orange Pi One that was gifted to me by a friend. However, this particular Orange Pi is very temperamental, and doesn’t like to play fair with the likes of the WiFi adapter, among other things. So it’s been in the drawer of tech stuff in my living room. But I had to make choices: What could I do with these Pi units and make them actually useful?

For the new Raspberry Pi 3, I will turn it into a portable pentesting box. Offensive Security makes images for ARM devices like the Raspberry Pi, so there is official support and an easy to set up process. With the older Orange Pi One, I am planning an interactive family digital calendar using Google Calendar, a web site and server running on the Pi itself, and a homemade frame to keep it all in. I’ll post about it when I get it started. Gotta get supplies first.

During my searches for pi projects, I came across many unique, useful, useless, and otherwise cool ideas. So for today’s listicle, I am bringing you the ___ most outstanding Pi projects out there right now.

Informational Display Calendar

This is the project I am about to embark on with my Orange Pi One. While it’s a different board, it’s still the same concept. Using Google Calendar, and an embedded weather display, and maybe adding local news or school stuff to it. A simple, digital display calendar that can be mounted anywhere in the house and viewed by all. The buttons can be used to cycle months in the calendar, month view to agenda view, or a button combo to reboot or refresh the page. Check out this instructable for more information.

Doorjam: Your Personal Walk In Soundtrack

Pi Project - Doorjam
Doorjam from redpepper-ideas

I have always wanted my own soundtrack to walk around to. I could do this with my phone and hit play on different songs. But that’s just not as cool. Doorjam doesn’t follow you around, but it can announce when you arrive to your office, living room, or local bar. Imagine everyone at the bar having their own song blare on a boombox as they walk in.

This project is a prebuilt Pi project but I’m sure you can make your own with different components that compliment the pi. Either way you go won’t be wrong. Time to walk in with head held high while some NOFX or Dropkick Murphy’s announce your immediate arrival.

 Fisher Price Talking Chatter Smartphone

Who doesn’t remember this classic toy? We’ve probably all played with one (except for those damn millennials unless they got it at a thrift store). Out of all the pi projects I’ve seen so far, this one struck me as the most unique. Think of Alexa meets Fisher Price and everyone can use it. Check out the video posted above to see how it works and how it was made. This may be a future project for me with a cheaper board just because it can be done. And who doesn’t love to hack old toys?

Build a Supercomputer

Pi Project - Super Computer
Picture Credit: Glenn Harris 2012

Now chances are A) You don’t actually have that many Raspberry Pi SBCs and B) You probably don’t have the desire to put this much effort into something. Nonetheless, this is seriously fricking cool. I imagine with enough creativity and know how, you could put this to good use. I’m thinking private server rack or something similar. What adds to this project is the fact the casing is made of Lego!

Solar Powered Web Server

Now this dude had an idea. An advantageous idea. And by God, he made it happen. Off the grid, and totally self-contained, this pi project is a solar-powered web server. According to the Reddit post, this project survived some pretty harsh weather with absolutely no down time. The poster, Viko_, said he considered offering local bloggers the web server to host their blogs on. Now, wouldn’t that be a grand idea? For $300 up front, you can create a totally self-sustained web server, and host your site without having to worry about dealing with support (Looking at you GoDaddy). That’s a win if you ask me!

Thermal Printer for the Kitchen

Pi Project Thermal Printer

Wade Wagner should be considered a pi genius. Now, I’m not a huge fan of IoT products, but this might could fly in my house. In a blog post, Wade details how with a little ingenuity and Python scripting, he built a thermal printer. With the help of some useful scripts, this little gadget can be sent a text message to print, pull local weather forecasts, school lunch menus, and much more. I spent over 10 years in the food service industry, but I can honestly say I never had tickets quite as awesome as this!

Piano Stairs

I’m assuming that most of you have seen the movie “Big” starring Tom Hanks. If you haven’t, then you’re probably too young to even remember when SNICK was on Nickelodeon. I resent you for that. If you do remember the movie, then this will probably excite you. With some light sensors, and Arduino and a Raspberry Pi, you too can have that gigantic keyboard you’ve always wanted. I’m seriously giving this some thought. I don’t have stairs in my house, but I’m imagining a pathway in the front or side yard that plays music as you walk along.

That’s all I have for today. What crazy, cool, or outrageous pi projects have you seen or built? Let me know in the comments below!!

Surviving Cancer: Six Things They Don’t Tell You

Surviving Cancer: Six Things They Don’t Tell You

Surviving Cancer

I became a cancer survivor at the age of 30, just weeks after my birthday. Months before, I was diagnosed with late stage testicular cancer. The months in between the diagnosis and the good bill of health seem like such a blur now. Yet, I remember each and every day like it just happened. It was a tough road to walk that I was forced to travel. Still, the odds ended up in my favor, and here I am today, almost five years cancer free.

When I first received the news of “no evidence of disease” I was elated. That was it. The pinnacle of my life had already been reached. Surely, nothing that came after this would even hold a candle. I have been right on part of that. I have not faced anything as hard since then. But I also haven’t had the rainbows, easy days, enjoyment of life’s every fine grain like I thought I would. What came after cancer was actually a bit of a shock to me.

I’ve had a variation of this post in just about every blog I have written since my cancer experience. But I know there are so many everyday who start wondering “Am I the only one?” There is a lot about surviving cancer that will take a person by surprise, and it’s not what you see talked about that often. From depression, to PTSD, to lingering physical symptoms. So today, I am listing six things that they don’t tell you about surviving cancer.

Your Feelings are not Irrational – They Are Okay

There is this misconception when it comes to surviving cancer that immediately after it’s over, things become all rainbows and triumphs of human skill. The fact is, depression is something that affects 15%-25% of all cancer patients. This often extends beyond the battle and treatment. Other common mental disorders in cancer survivors include PTSD, generalized and social anxiety, and anger disorders.

Feelings of anxiety, sadness, anger, and even guilt are common in the cancer survivor. And that’s perfectly okay. During treatment, it is hard to focus on dealing with so many emotions. That often comes after the fight is over. Know that it is completely normal. Also know when it is time to seek professional help. There is no shame in it. Don’t let others control your emotions for you. Things will get better in time.


Physical Symptoms Can Long Outlast Treatment

This has been one of the toughest things for me personally. I expected to have side-effects for the first couple of weeks after ending chemo. I did not expect them to last years later. However, it is common to experience physical symptoms from the treatment, surgeries, radiation, and the damage the cancer does to your body. Some of the most common, long-lasting symptoms include nausea, fatigue, and neuropathy.

This is something that was not really talked about by my oncologist or the nurses there. The more I’ve talked to other cancer survivors, the more I realize I’m not alone in that. While you probably will feel much better once treatment ends, do not be caught off guard by long-term symptoms. Pay attention to your body, note the changes, and consult your doctor anytime you think something is not right.

The Magic of Surviving Doesn’t Happen Immediately

Often when we read about cancer survivor’s it’s about the awesome things they go on to do. Run marathons, climb mountains, start their own businesses, and so on. Which is great stuff. It’s awesome to see what people can do with their lives after cancer. But don’t expect it to be a sudden thing. We generally tend to think that when the experience is over, ALL of that experience is over.

That’s not the case however. Cancer doesn’t just end when treatment ends. The fight can continue long afterwards. A lot of cancer survivors find themselves in a hole after treatment. I felt like I must be doing life wrong because all this great stuff didn’t happen immediately. It’s not to say that great stuff won’t happen. It will, in due time. Treasure your survivorship, but always be prepared to fight, even after treatment has ended.

Survivor’s Guilt is a Real Tough Enemy

“Why me?” A constant question asked by cancer patients. Why did it have to be me diagnosed? Why does my family have to go through this? A very normal part of the process of going through cancer is questioning everything. Because it doesn’t make sense. It never will make sense. Another thing that’s hard to make sense of is why you survived when others didn’t. Survivor’s guilt is a feeling of guilt you get because you are a survivor when others aren’t. And it’s a real mental enemy to have to battle.

It’s a tough to explain emotion to those who do not experience it. But it’s also an important emotion to be able to work out. Survivor’s guilt can eat at you until you find yourself at rock bottom mentally. Survivor’s guilt also contributes to other mental disorders commonly experienced by cancer survivors. Having a strong support network of other survivors is an important part of being able to handle survivor’s guilt when it comes. We’ll never have all the answers, but we can have all the support we need.

Friendships that Faded Will Not be the Same

The toughest lesson I learned from my experience with cancer was this:

“At a time when my life was at a standstill, everyone else was still moving forward. I could not expect them to stay behind and wait for me.”

When first diagnosed, I had a lot of friends that came by, offered support, brought food, and handled the kids so I could rest. But as things went on, the amount of people coming by slowly dwindled. And that was a hard thing for me to come to grips with. I’m sure there are many survivors reading this today that have experienced similar things. Once the experience is over, we happily wish that everything will go back to normal.

This is where things get complicated. Often times, we change when going through cancer. We aren’t the same person afterwords, and rightfully so. But other people change too. Sometimes, the friendships that went by the wayside stay that way. I have had friends tell me they just didn’t know what to expect or how things would go, and so they distanced themselves. I have no anger towards them for that. New friendships will come, and old ones will be remembered. Things change, and I must change with it.

Mortality is the New ‘Not Paying Rent On Time’

When we get older, into adulthood especially, our fears tend to change. They go from fear of death, fear of getting lost, and fear of falling off the bike, to fear of not paying the bills on time, car crashes, debt, etc. As a cancer survivor, one of the worst fears becomes our new found grasp on our mortality. Any brush with cancer is a brush with death. And with that, comes all kinds of new fears.

Staring your mortality in the face is not an easy challenge. And what’s it is over, you find yourself with a renewed fear. The “What if” questions that plague your mind now far outweigh your worrying about bills and debt. The realization of mortality and limited time become the new way of life. This is an important time to have a strong support network, to have great relationships with your doctors, and to really learn what makes a life count.

Do you agree with the six things on this list? If you are a cancer survivor, what is something that you wish you had known ahead of time? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!

A Eulogy for the Drive In Theater

A Eulogy for the Drive In Theater

Drive In Theater
Moonlite Theater Drive In Abingdon, VA

We hardly knew ya, oh humble drive in theater. Those of my generation and the ones to comes will only hear the tales of your greatness. Sitting around photo albums of Polaroids from the 70’s, we will hear of your magnificence. The old timers well talk about romance, and silver screen dreams of the stars of the past. We will listen closely while each part of the experience is talked out in detail.

This would be how I would start a eulogy for the fading drive in movie theater. That is, if I cared that it was a dying relic of the past. But the truth is, I don’t. The drive in theater has been irrelevant for decades now, and will only continue to be so. I understand that they are making a bit of a comeback right now. I get that. But only for the same reason that Polaroids, fancy mustaches, and big wheel bicycles are coming back: hipster culture.

Let’s be honest, anything old that is popular right now is just part of a fad where everyone thinks the relics from our past are suddenly awesome again. Truth is, most of these things are not awesome. And that includes the drive in theater. Besides the ridiculous amount of money it takes to have a relevant drive in, nostalgia is not enough to keep the industry afloat. If I wanted to pay that much for a movie, I would do so for a movie inside with air conditioning and protection from any sudden weather.

Cost and Cars Killing the Drive In Theater

There are a number of reasons for the demise of the drive in theater. First is the rising cost of maintaining and upgrading the automotive movie havens. New projectors to keep up with the standards of filming can costs tens of thousands of dollars. Maintaining the display surface at the drive in can also come at a hefty cost. Then there is concession equipment costs, keeping the lots paved (unless you like parking on mud puddles).

Then there’s the sound system. Most modern drive in theaters now use FM transmission for the movie sound. Which is cool because you can have your windows rolled up and still hear it. But it requires battery power. That leaves you with a choice: Run the battery down or run your gas down keeping the alternator working. Leaving the motor running in idle for 2.5 hours is not a good idea. I could go on and on, but you see where I’m going.

Mother Nature Doesn’t Care About Your Movie

This is another thing about drive in theaters. Mother nature doesn’t give a damn if you had made these plans 2 weeks ago. If she feels like pissing on your parade, she’s going to. Don’t anger a mother. It’s not a pretty site. No, mother nature has zero fucks to give about our plans. That’s why the drive in theater is a nightmare to plan. “Hey, we’re going to show a double feature”. Then the actual night of the showing it’s pouring rain and hail stones the size of the peanut M&M’s you just paid six dollars for.

Sure, I would rather be at a drive in if the power went out, but then again, I wouldn’t be near a drive in if I thought that was even a chance to begin with. I don’t even like getting my mail when it’s raining, let alone go to a movie theater that requires me to have to possibly get soaked, or have the chance of my car blowing up.

Filth and Fornication

The last reason for why drive in theaters should not be around anymore. As generations get raunchier, it naturally goes that they will be raunchier in different places. Coupled with drug use, dirty diapers thrown on the ground, and god knows what else, it’s unsanitary to say the least. Seriously, the only squishing I want to hear under my feet at the movies is a piece of gum spit out on the ground. Not a used condom.

Drive In Theater

What is Better than the Drive In

A regular movie theater. Duh. What I like about a regular movie theater is being in a crowd of people who, when a big blockbuster is first released, experience the wonder together. Everyone jumps at the same times, sees and hears things at the same time. We collectively experience the same movie. That and, oh yeah, no mud to drive in, busted up speakers, running the car, possible getting soaked by rain. No birds crapping through the windows as they look for dropped popcorn.

Even watching movies at home is better. Hulu, Netflix, Putlocker (I’m not judging anyone). An environment that you can control, with snacks that you want, and if you are lucky, nobody else has their little brats there to shout over the best lines. Enjoy your movie your way. That’s something you can’t beat.

Now imagine the future. Virtual reality is sure to have a role in movies eventually. Imagine a first person movie where you are literally in the action. Hear something to your right? Look right and see what it was. Think the monster is behind you? Turn around and find out. Want to talk about messing your pants when watching a movie? Because that’s how it happens.

Let’s take the VR concept one step further. What if, and this is a big what if, you could choose the movie based on the character you wanted to be? Imagine having your friends over, strapping on the VR and everyone is a different character of the movie. How sweet would that be? It would definitely give a whole new set of experiences to talk about after the movie.

So, to finish, farewell to the drive in theater. A remnant of a past when things were different and experiences were new. We here in 2017 enjoy the experiences we have now and the ones that have yet to come. May your broken down signs and degrading screen surfaces be a reminder to us all that nothing is forever. And that better things will always come. Catch ya on the flip side… That is, if I feel like looking for you.

Internet of Things and Connected Lives: An Insecure Relationship

Internet of Things and Connected Lives: An Insecure Relationship

Internet of Things

We live in a crazy connected world these days, and the Internet of Things makes it abundantly clear. IoT is probably one of the hottest emerging technology trends right now. Put simply, the Internet of Things is the technology of putting internet connected computer devices into everyday objects. Anything from refrigerators to light bulbs are now being produced with the ability to connect to a network and be controlled remotely.

As far as technology trends go, sales revenue and market value can rise and fall like the tides. This leaves it as no surprised that so many tech manufacturers are trying their best to come up with the next big Internet of Things device. The tech sector expands by leaps every year, so staying on top is a monumental, never ending task. However, as great as being able to control everything (I mean everything) from your phone sounds, there is great security risks involved.

Internet of Things Security in the News

The largest security threat in IoT news recently was the massive DDoS attack on Dyn, a company that provides DNS services to, well, half the country. The targeted devices used in the attack: IP security cameras. There has been the recent disclosure of CIA tools that turned internet of things devices such as smart TVs to spy on American homes. And you can’t say you haven’t seen the stories of baby monitors being hacked and used to listen in and even talk to whoever happens to be in the room.

In an article from Linux Insider, the growth of Linux based malware is discussed. With much of the IoT world in the hands of Linux based controllers, attackers have started focusing their efforts on Linux exploitation. And in a wonderful article on Fast Company, we hear the concerns of Vint Cerf, commonly known as the “Father of the Internet”. Perhaps one of the more subtle, but telling quotes from the article, Vint expresses

“Basically you’re relying on software doing the right things, and if it doesn’t do the right thing, you have very little to say about it. I feel like we’re moving into a kind of fragile future right now that we should be much more thoughtful about improving, that is to say making more robust.”

Internet of Things and the Common Consumer

As technology abounds and our world gets more connected, the common consumer has become more tech savvy than in years past. However, I find that tech savvy and and tech minded tend to be two different things. Basic understanding of your technology makes you tech savvy. A more definitive understanding makes you tech minded.

One thing a lot of common consumers do not realize about IoT devices, is the inherit security risk you bring into your home. In a most basic explanation, every device that ends up connected to your home router is a security risk. This means anything from computers, to cell phones, to connected devices like security cameras, TVs, and other appliances. With each new device introduced, the risk of attack goes up.

Unfortunately, even the most basic of security practices that help protect a home network are not in use by most common consumers. So when they decide to add even more attack points to the home network, it comes as no surprise that IoT products have started to become a favorite target. Your smart home is quickly becoming the smartest botnet in the world, and you don’t even know it. What stops an attacker from using your own appliance against you?

Internet of Things and Health Technology

This is a really scary talking point. Not only have we invited inter-connectivity into our normal home lives, but we have also invited it into our health decisions. Modern hospitals, and medical practices with recent equipment upgrades now have connected devices. IV pumps, insulin pumps, oxygen apparatus, the list goes on. Everything in the medical community is being connected.

This isn’t the scary part though. Being able to better monitor a hospital ward with a centralized computer system that shows such detail, that’s a great thing. The scary part is that, just like home devices, these new bits of medical genius come with their security flaws. Whether it’s outsider control of the device, to using the network node to get in and steal personal information, the security of such things hasn’t been well thought out with the technology.

The Future of IoT Security

Internet of Things Security

The future of IoT security has to start in the present. It starts with manufacturers being able to quickly resolve current issues and patch vulnerabilities. A quick response is a great way to assure your consumers that you take their security seriously. On the other side of that, security must be part of the end product that is released. Cybersecurity is one of the fastest growing IT fronts, yet too many companies still don’t take it seriously. Manufacturers must take security not just of the present, but of the future seriously when planning and building new products.

For the common consumer, the practices of basic network security should be learned and applied a lot more than they are right now. If you didn’t know that your router can get software upgrades, raise your hand? If you raised your hand, then you have a lot of learning to do. Just like our phones and computers, internet connected devices can and probably will receive updates. The biggest reason for these updates? You guessed it, improving security.

Final Thoughts

Internet of Things is no doubt the future technology that will run our everyday lives. It’s almost the next inevitable step. However, like other technological leaps in the past, IoT doesn’t come without its flaws and concerns. Manufacturers and consumers have to work together to preserve security. Manufacturers have to do their jobs in preventing and maintaining the security of the devices they release. Consumers have to do their part to implement the security basics on these devices and their home network in general.

A connected world with connected lives will not be this terrible thing that the older generations think it will be. It will not be a disillusioned dystopia of tech zombies with no interaction. However, without the proper procedures and practices, we can’t hope to totally eliminate the slight possibility.


Apples to Androids Part Two: Application Compatibility

Apples to Androids Part Two: Application Compatibility

App Store

Apples to Androids is a series on the site that goes through and breaks down what you need to know if you plan on switching from iOS to Android. Looking at it from an analytical standpoint to help you decide if the switch is right for you. View the introduction post here.


People ask me all the time about making the switch from iOS to Android. Being an Android enthusiast, I guess my knowledge of the OS and development makes me an easy go-to for others wanting to learn more. Perhaps the biggest thing I get asked about is application compatibility. Will my apps be available on Android, and if not, are there comparable alternatives?

App History By the Numbers

Apple was not the first company to have an app store. Both Microsoft and Palm were already there. But it didn’t take long for Apple to outpace the competition to become the most used app store with 100 million downloads in its first 3 months. Android would be introduced the following year in 2008 and it would take six years before the PlayStore would carry more apps than the Apple AppStore. Growth for both app shops have been steady over the last few years and Android maintains its lead as it has become the most popular mobile platform.

App Store Comparison
Image via AppFigures

Developer’s Take

Though Android remains the most popular mobile platform to date, you will still see a lot of apps come out for iOS long before they are available for Android. This isn’t some conspiracy or an attempt by Apple to pay developers to develop for them first. iOS is actually easier to develop for, and success of an app, especially in the terms of revenue generation, can often hinge on how well it does in the App Store.

iPhone is generally seen as more of an attractive accent to someone’s life than an Android phone. Users on iOS are more likely to pay for apps than those on Android. A lot of this is due to the open source nature of Android, users with root access, and the easy ability to side-load applications. Either way, if you want to make a name as a developer, you judge your success on iOS sales, and therein lies a major focus.

Major Production Apps

In this part of the post I want to discuss compatibility between iOS and Android with a focus on major production apps. What do I mean by that? We’re talking your big name, everyone has them on their smartphone applications. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat. I’m also going to include most of the major productivity apps like Gmail, Outlook, Evernote, and If (formerly IFTTT). When it comes to the bulk of your mainly used applications, you are going to find them in both application stores.

Proprietary Applications

ios 11
Image Courtesy of Apple

This is where things get a little… Well, a LOT different. Proprietary software, in this case apps that are owned by the respective manufacturers of a mobile device, are things that you won’t find cross-platform. Apple is well known for its features that include its proprietary iOS software. Apps such as iMessage and Facetime have become absolutely second nature to iPhone users. And what makes these kind of apps better, for Apple anyway, is that they are available across devices like iPhone, iPad, and iPod.

Android is a bit different. Most of Google’s major apps are also available on iOS. Where you end up with proprietary applications comes from the individual device manufacturers. Samsung, LG, HTC, and others have their own apps that you will usually find pre-installed on your Android device. However, most of these apps are seen as annoying as opposed to beneficial.

Comparison and Contrast

Now, at this point in the post I figured it would be good to use a visual of some kind. Below I have constructed a table. In this table you will find apps you probably use on iOS, their availability on the Android platform, and if there is no availability, the apps that have the closest comparison to them.

App NameAndroid AvailabilityAndroid Alternative
iMessageNoGoogle Allo
Google Duo
iTunesNo (Note: Music can be moved from computer iTunes to Android device)Google Play Music
SiriNoGoogle Now (Assistant)
Cortana for Android
Find My iPhoneNoAndroid Device Manager
Apple MapsNoGoogle Maps
Apple NewsNoFlipboard
EmailNot the stock iOS AppOutlook
NotesNot the stock iOS AppGoogle Keep

I can add more apps to this list as they are pointed out, but this gives you a basic look at some of the most used apps on iOS, and whether or not they are available on Android, and the alternative to them.

That’s it. That’s your quick look at app compatibility between iOS and Android. Hopefully this gives you a bit of a glimpse into what you will be looking at when making the switch from iOS to Android.



Bash Commands All Linux Users Should Know

Bash Commands All Linux Users Should Know

Bash Commands

There is an unspoken rule when it comes to learning how to use Linux that you are not a true user until you learn the basics of bash commands. While there are some great GUI applications that can help you work in Linux, bash commands are essential. They can be everything when nothing else works. Over the last few years, my knowledge of Linux has expanded as I tend to run a dual-boot environment on my computers. I’ve used Linux for everything from gaming, to Android development, to penetration testing.

Over numerous years and numerous Linux distributions, I have come to learn the importance of bash commands. Across distributions and versions, it is the one constant. Whether you use Linux at home, or are looking into work that requires knowledge of Linux command line, here are some of the top bash commands every Linux user should know. Of course, the command line doesn’t have to be all business all the time. Check out my other Linux command line post to see some fun things you can do in the terminal.

Basic Bash Commands

sudoRuns commands as root. This means no limitations of permissions. Can only be used when an account has been configured for root access, such as an administrator.

cdChanges the current working directory.

lsLists the contents of a specific directory. If no directory is specified it lists the contents of the current working directory.

killTerminates the process specified in the arguments. Think of it as the “End Task” for Linux.

nanoOpens files in a very basic command terminal text editor.

nano bash text editor
Example of the Nano bash text editor.

System Information Bash Commands

psDisplays information about all of the processes currently running on the machine.

dfDisplays disk usage for the filesystem.

hostnameDisplays the name of the current host system.

uptimeShows how long the system has been running since the last reboot.

Various System Information Bash Commands

Networking Bash Commands

ifconfigDisplays information about network interfaces, their state, IP address, packet count, and more.

tracerouteAttempts to provide information about the routers your connection crosses when reaching a remote machine.

netstatGives information about ongoing connections on the local system and what ports are listening.

curl ifconfig.meShows the machines external IP address. Like using WhatIsMyIp in the terminal.

Example output from netstat bash command.

File Manipulation Bash Commands

chmod or chownAllows for changing file permissions and owners.

grepSearches through specified file location for files that contain a specified string in the arguments.

mkdirCreates a new directory or rmdir removes a directory.

cpCopies files or directories to a new location or mv moves files to a different directory.

touchCreates a new file in the current working directory.

ddConvert and copy a file.

Grep bash command arguments and parameters.

Miscellaneous Bash Commands

manGiving another bash command as an argument, man (short for manual) gives more details about the command you are trying to use.

clearClears the terminal and resets the prompt to the top line. Very useful when the terminal screen becomes clogged.

mount / unmountUsed to mount filesystems. Particularly useful for SD Cards, USB drives, and external optical and storage drives.

passwdAs you might have guessed, this command allows you to change your user password.

historyLists previous bash commands for the current shell session.

Man bash command showing options for “touch” command.


There you have it. The most basic bash commands that every Linux user should know. What do you think should be added to the list? What are your highest used bash commands? Let me know in the comments below!