Sconfig for Windows

Sconfig is a great program on Windows Server 2016 and newer for administration of a server. It is not the only way to administer items like the network, updates, and domain but it is the easiest in command line. I recommend using sconfig when setting up a new Windows server and especially a Windows Core server.

After typing “sconfig” in a windows command line or PowerShell console this is your main screen.

The first option is used to change the domain or workgroup.

The second option allows you to change the computer name.

The third option is for adding local administrators.

The fourth option is for configuring remote management.

Option five lets you change windows update settings.

The sixth option lets you start to download and install Windows updates.

The seventh option is for setting remote desktop.

The eighth option is for changing network settings.

The ninth option brings up the window for date and time. The tenth option is for telemetry settings, do you want to send data to Microsoft?

The eleventh setting is for Windows activation.

The last four options are self explanatory for maintaining the server. I found this useful for managing Windows servers. The next time you spin up a new Windows server use “sconfig” and save some time.

Here is Microsoft’s article on ‘sconfig’: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/get-started/sconfig-on-ws2016

Check out my last blog relating to PowerShell here.

Review of Basic Economics Part 2

Basic Economics written by Thomas Sowell

From Basic Economics, the “allocation of scarce resources that have alternate uses”. In part two of this review, I will touch on 3 points out of the last thirteen chapters of the book: resource scarcity, property rights, and trickle down economics. There are a finite amount of resources, such as oil, but we do not know how much oil there is to find.

Resource Scarcity

The cost of finding oil reserves is enormous. An example from the book, which is outdated and does not account for inflation to present day, says that a “major oil exploration venture in the Gulf of Mexico spent … ‘ a total of $200 million’ just to see if there was enough oil to justify continuing further”. If taxes and fees were increased to find the oil, it is less likely that the money would be spent to find that oil. Conversely, if the taxes and fees were lowered, it would be more profitable to search for that oil. In either case, the same amount of oil is in the ground. It is just of difference of money spent and knowledge of the resource.

Property Rights

This is the difference between something being “owned by the people”, and self-ownership. If a farmer owns his property and is paid on the produce that is sold, it’s in the farmers interest to sell a lot of quality produce. That farmer would not ship rotten food next to good food because it would contaminate the whole shipment. However in the Soviet Union since no one owed property or the food produce process, rotten food was often shipped with good food. Everyone was paid the same whether the food was rotten or good. 100% job security with minimal job accountability. When you own your property and products you won’t be working anymore if you ship rotten food.

Trickle Down Economics

Thomas Sowell expressly denounces trickle down economics as a valid economic theory. In order to start a business and investment is made first. Then people are paid to do work. The first people that receive money are the workers. Then after surviving a high rate of failure with new businesses, profits to the business may come back. Generally speaking it takes years to reach a profit on a business. The real benefit from reducing taxes on businesses is that it opens the door to make investments sooner in the future. Workers expect to get paid for every day worked, but profits for companies come years after they are started. Trickle down economics is actually exactly the opposite of the rich get paid then money goes to the workers. In reality, worker gets paid then profits might flow in years later.

I do recommend this book and I hope you will check out part 1 of the review. There is a ton of content and my points about resource scarcity, property rights, and trickle down economics do not even scratch the surface. I hope you will check it out.

You can find the book from his website here: https://www.tsowell.com/basicecon_5.html

Review of Basic Economics part 1

Basic Economics written by Thomas Sowell

From Basic Economics, the “allocation of scarce resources that have alternate uses”. This text is longer and packed with more information than I’m used to reading in a book. Therefore, in part one of this review I will talk about some of what I learned from the first eleven chapters of the book. The rest will be in part two of the review. Starting with the definition of economics, “the study of the use of scarce resources which have alternate uses” we can focus on resources.

Live Modestly

There are no infinite resources. The first point I took away for my personal application of the book is to live modestly, or within your means. A great quote from chapter one, “even millionaires can have a hard time making ends meet if the try to live like billionaires.” No matter how much money I make or wealth I have, if I live like I own more I will eventually loose it all. Additionally, I learned about the true meaning of a price.

The price is right

When two people set a price on an object then trade, both are now better off after the transaction. The first person paid a price for the object and the second person go what they wanted in exchange for the item sold. These items take resources to create and exchange for the money that is used. The price that is agreed upon is what benefits both parties. If the price is too low then the seller would not be able to continue to sell because it would not cover the cost of resources. Conversely, if the price is too high the buyer would not be able to purchase the item. This is the key, if the price is set just right the buyer will only obtain what they need and the seller will be able to reproduce the item by consuming more resources and re-invest the leftovers into producing more of something. This increases the oversize size of the pie (economy). Lastly, what about items that are essential to live, such as housing?

Affordable housing

The last point I’ll highlight is the subject of affordable housing, rent control. Thomas Sowell talks about rent control throughout the book. “The idea that rent control protects poor tenants from rich landlords may be politically effective, but often it bears little resemblance to the reality.” If you price control housing, you reverse the incentive for companies to build quality homes and apartments. The price is the same, so there is no reason to build more than the bare minimum. So why not have the government mandate the quality and production of housing?

If the government mandates the price, quality and building of housing, then you have Russia. With government controlled housing, there often is a shortage of resources. This leads to a shortage of housing or a decline in the quality of housing. It is also worth noting that in most affordable housing scenarios, there is a cap above rent control. Luxury housing is where the super rich can get homes built for lots of money. The rich will always be building additional homes somewhere. Those rich could be business owners or politicians. Rent control only hurts the middle class and poor.

There is more to talk about from Basic Economics. I do recommend this book and I hope you will check out part 2 of the review. There is a ton of content and my points: live modestly, the price is right, and affordable housing do not even scratch the surface. I hope you will check it out.

You can find the book from his website here: https://www.tsowell.com/basicecon_5.html

TicTacToe Media

Below are some of the TicTacToe media I created for Android app on phones. There is the main menu, single player options and how the game play looks.

After that, we have these screenshots show some different winners and more of the game board. The winner notification is an injected XML file with certain logic based on who wins. Similarly, the cat can also win but is not pictured here.

Additionally, these pictures are a close up of the X and O icons as well as the app picture that would be on your phone. Powersjo made these icons.

Lastly, this bit of media are the GIFs that are used when a round is over and someone wins. The GIFs had frames modified to make sure they are around the same time in their loops. These gifs appear in 6 spots randomly once the round is over.

I hope you liked the insight on the TicTacToe media for the app. You can download the game from the Google Play store here or from the Amazon app store here.

For making the small images and icons I used Pixlr E here.

Check out my other apps FartYou and DownloadCPU.

You can view the privacy policy for the app here.

What did I learn: Tic-Tac-Toe App

This is my first game app for Android and it’s a tic-tac-toe game. I’ve made TicTacToe before on other platforms but not with Kotlin and published on Android. I thought we could go through some of the similarities, differences and what I learned. First, what was similar was the game logic.

Game Logic

Tic Tac Toe logic is an easy game to make in code. I chose to go the route of an Array of arrays and keep track of the board with a 0, 1 and 2. A designation for a blank spot, X and O.

 private val top: IntArray = intArrayOf(0, 0, 0)
 private val middle: IntArray = intArrayOf(0, 0, 0)
 private val bottom: IntArray = intArrayOf(0, 0, 0)
 private val board: Array<IntArray> = arrayOf(top, middle, bottom)

GUI

Then just have a visual representation of the board with HTML using a top level FrameLayout, a couple LinearLayouts and ImageViews to click on. The nesting and sizing got a bit tricky to make sure the app would scale up and down and still work on many devices.

board layout with HTML XML structure in Tic Tac Toe

The main learning curve I ran into was working with the UI. First I learned how to stack layouts on top of each other to achieve the layers on top of each other and the top to bottom look of the game. It took a mix of LinearLayouts (both horizontal and vertical), FrameLayout and RelativeLayout.

app layout with HTML XML structure in Tic Tac Toe

Second I learned about injecting a view into the current main view in the case of a popup window. I needed a way to notify the player that the round was over and who won. I did this with an inflater and used a pre-made HTML XML layout to inject the layout into the current activity.

val inflater: LayoutInflater = getSystemService(Context.LAYOUT_INFLATER_SERVICE) as LayoutInflater
val view = inflater.inflate(R.layout.popup_view,null)
// Lots more code here. 
TransitionManager.beginDelayedTransition(background_main)
        popupWindow.showAtLocation(
            background_main, // Location to display popup window
            Gravity.CENTER, // Exact position of layout to display popup
            0, // X offset
            0 // Y offset
Image of 'O wins!" popup in Tic Tac Toe.

AI

The third piece of knowledge was just working on the AI for the game. In single player mode, I created the AI and had to scale back the knowledge of the AI. In Tic Tac Toe there are not many moves. If you make the AI too good then the game will either always be cats game or won by the AI. So building a bit of randomness with the choices was needed to keep the AI a bit dumb.

With those three notches under my belt I can move forward onto bigger and better apps on Android. I’m happy with my results even though I had a list of improvements and features, about 10, that I could add to the app. At a certain point it is best to just release it and if it generates interest then I can work on the additions.

You can download the game from the Google Play store here or from the Amazon app store here.

Check out my other apps, FartYou and DownloadCPU.

You can view the privacy policy for the app here.