PC Tech Forum

New feature coming to the Windows 10 calculator

Microsoft will be adding a graphing feature to the windows calculator. The purpose of this is to help students learn to graph in algebra class. All the user has to do is enter the equation and the program will automatically start graphing it out.

They have been working on it for about a year and plans on incorporating a third party program to render the graph. The new calculator program would include the following features.

  • Users can enter an equation so that it can be viewed on the graph.
  • Users can enter multiple equations so that they can compare plots against each other and see the interactions between the lines.
  • Users can edit equations so that they can see how changes affect the plot and correct mistakes.
  • Users can change the graph viewing window so that they can see different parts of the plot at different levels of detail.
  • Users can change line visual options so that they can clearly differentiate between multiple plots.
  • Users can export graphs so that they can share it with others or incorporate into Office/Teams.
  • Users can easily manipulate secondary variables in equations so that they can quickly understand how changes to equations affect the graph.
  • Users can see traceable key graph features (KGF) as nodes/dots on the equations, and summon other KGFs in a list so that they can better understand the important features of a given function.
  • Users can trace plots so that they can better understand the relationship between variables in the equation on the graph.

Link to the article on BleepingComputer - https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/microsoft/microsoft-is-adding-a-graphing-mode-to-the-windows-10-calculator/

RTX 2080 Update

An update on the somewhat-widespread RTX 2080 failures reported in very late October. Initial findings may indicate sub-par or poorly-contacting/conducting thermal padding on some cards.


Samsung Galaxy Note 9

With the Note 9 released, here is an article detailing the newest device. The blue looks ok, but the pink-purple really pops! I wonder why Samsung is migrating away from white phones in the US - not even black was an option over here for this model.

The first computer I was old enough and cared to know the specs on was my father's work laptop circa 1996; it sported a whopping 200 MB hard drive. Now we have phones that have internal storage of 512 GB and are expandable to 1 TB. It's amazing the speed at which tech advances!


Raspberry Pi Ad Blocking & Smokeping Network Monitor

This is a quick setup guide on how to get PiHole and smokeping running on a raspberry pi. I'm going to assume you have a Pi up and running Raspbian. I used Raspbian Stretch which is based on Debian 9.

The PiHole setup is pretty straight forward, and we'll run it first since it comes with a pre-configured lighttpd (webserver) install.

There's really nothing to this one, just run
curl -sSL https://install.pi-hole.net | bash
and follow the prompts. If you aren't sure on anything, the defaults won't really get you into trouble. Normally it's a bad idea to pipe a script from the internet into bash like this, but you can download the script first and give it a read through first if you are worried.
wget -O basic-install.sh https://install.pi-hole.net
less basic-install.sh
These commands are pretty straight forward. wget to download the file and save it to the file named in the -O option, and less to view the file. You could use vi, or any other editor if you prefer, or cat, or more, or etc...

If you are satisfied that it is safe, this command will start the installer
sudo bash basic-install.sh
Once the PiHole install is done, you will be presented with a password, which is what will control web access. If you prefer, you can remove this by running this command and providing a blank password. This is the same method to change the password, so you could set it to some other password that you prefer over the random characters you get by default.
pihole -a -p
To access the web ui open a broswer and go to http://<pi ip>/admin you should see something like this

For the ad-blocking effect of PiHole to work, you also need to configure your machines to use your raspberry pi as a DNS server. I've done this by configuring the DHCP service on my router. This is going to be router specific but in general you want to disable automatic assignment of DNS and enter the IP address of your Raspberry Pi as the primary server. You may want to set the secondary to or OpenDNS if you prefer in the event that your Pi is down.

Again, the basic setup is pretty easy here since there is an apt package for it.

sudo apt-get install smokeping
This will provide a nearly functional install with a probe called fping. There are a lot of other probes which can be read about at https://oss.oetiker.ch/smokeping/probe/index.en.html. However, you will at a minimum need to configure the targets.

Open /etc/smokeping/config.d/Targets in a text editor. In this file, you will see a skeleton config with a few lines you can modify. A very basic monitoring setup could be
*** Targets ***
probe = FPing
menu = Top
title = Network Latency Grapher
remark = Welcome to the SmokePing website of xxx Company. \
         Here you will learn all about the latency of our network.
+ Local
menu = Local
title = Local Network

++ Gateway
menu = Local
title = My Gateway
host =

+ Internet
menu = Internet
title = Internet Hosts

++ Google
menu = Google DNS
host =
As I mentioned, this is very basic and smokeping allows you to do some neat things such as monitor for things like high roundtrip times, or packet loss and automatically send an email when it happens. You can even have it do so only if it persists for long enough. The available options are too numerous to go through and can be read in the full manual at https://oss.oetiker.ch/smokeping/doc/smokeping_config.en.html

Now that smoke ping is installed and configured, give it a restart.
sudo service smokeping restart
Smokeping suggests Apache as a webserver, but as I mentioned earlier we already have lighttpd installed, so rather than install a second webserver and have to configure one to run on some other port than 80 lets use lighttpd.

First things first, create a symlink in the html directory to the smokeping html install. If you prefer you could move the files, that may require some other edits I did not look into it.
Then we'll also want to use fastcgi, since regular cgi is quite slow and lighttpd has the fastcgi module already installed. To do this, we'll copy the example fcgi script and update it to work.
sudo ln -s  /usr/share/smokeping/www /var/www/html/smokeping
sudo cp /var/www/html/smokeping/smokeping.fcgi.dist /var/www/html/smokeping/smokeping.fcgi
Now open /var/www/html/smokeping/smokeping.fcgi in a text editor. We need to update the 2 paths to where our install actually is, at the end your file should look like this:
exec /usr/lib/cgi-bin/smokeping.cgi /etc/smokeping/config
All we are doing here is getting the smokeping cgi script to work off the config file our smokeping install is using.

Now, there is only 1 change left to make. Open /etc/lighttpd/conf-enabled/10-fastcgi.conf in a text editor. We need to add a bit to the end to tell lighttpd how to run the code.
fastcgi.server += (
  "smokeping.fcgi" => ((
    "socket"   => "/var/run/lighttpd/fcgi.socket",
    "bin-path" => "/usr/share/smokeping/www/smokeping.fcgi"
To access the web ui of smokeping (which is far less pretty than PiHole) open a browser and go to http://<pi ip>/smokeping/smokeping.fcgi

Intel plans 10nm chip for 2020

I forget what chip my first build had, but my second was a 90 micron P4. It's amazing how far the technology has come in just 12-14 years.

In this article, Intel explains their cpu timeline and hardware features for the upcoming years.


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