507: Ian Elsner & His Stick of Gum PC


That Compute Stick is pretty sweet. Didn’t know they existed.


I guess that this wouldn’t make a good Hackintosh?

Really liked this episode - Ian is a genuinely nice and friendly guy doing interesting things.


@ianelsner - re: disabling windows updates. I used to have a similar issue managing the laptop for a photography club, it was used for projecting images for competitions etc so it was essential that windows update didn’t interrupt.
In Windows Services, find the ‘Windows Update Service’, stop the service and set it to disabled. Windows will not try to perform any updates or give you any notifications about updates.
Obviously, when you do want to update it then you’ve got to into services, start it up, perform the updates then disable it again.
Hope that helps! :smiley:

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Ian is actually a friend of mine so I’m looking forward to hearing this episode. I didn’t know of his quirky PC stick.


Ooo, this does help, thank you!

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Am I the only one who did not get this episode? Last update in my Castro feed is the Oct. 20 episode.

I listened with overcast this morning.

Other notes about libby:
You can send the borrowed book to your kindle or read them with the kindle app and all your highlights will be in https://read.amazon.com/notebook even when the book returns.

You should also checkout Hoopla with your library card, you can borrow audiobooks without waiting in line.
Great episode


YMMV - It’s a very limited use case because it is an Atom (very, very, very slow) CPU with only 32 GB of flash storage “system drive” and really not enough RAM to run Windows decently.

I looked at it because I have the same kind of use case - I am exclusively on macOS and iPAD but certain vertical market/enterprise software I need in the field only runs on Windows.

I found it simply wasn’t viable - I put the cost of the Stick towards a full license for Parallels instead. Since I have to carry a MacBook anyway for other things, Parallels lets me run Windows truly in a window but I can configure the virtualized Windows OS with 4 GB or more of memory so it can run the windows software I need at a decent speed.

If one wants to be truly iPad only in the field, it is an interesting option, but in those cases I simply use Jump Desktop on the Mac or iPad to remote in back to a Windows machine in my office and it already has the full suite of software and apps already running. With a keyboard and a bluetooth mouse, remoting back to a Windows machine from the iPad Pro is actually much faster and more powerful.

N.B. VirtualBox (from Oracle now) is a completely free virtualization app for Mac and some people are also using VMWare, so there are at least three good options for mixing Windows and macOS environments.


Another nice feature (more of Amazon’s ecosystem than Libby/Overdrive, probably) is that, if you’re a member of an Amazon household, you can see the other person’s library books. At least, that used to be the case; I haven’t tried it recently to verify that it still works.

My Dad has access to a different library than I do, and we’re part of the same household. So, until his library switched to CloudLibrary (I’m not a fan), if my library either didn’t have a book I wanted or there was a long waitlist for it, I could check his library to see if they had it available. If they did, I could just text Dad and ask him to check it out and send it to his Kindle, and it would show up in my library, too.


Sure, those are the Atom CPUs at the low end. They also go up to Core M3 and Core M5, the same as MacBook Airs a couple of years ago. 4GB RAM, etc.

The specs though don’t really matter. It’s a PC in your pocket. You could happily run Windows, Ubuntu, etc. on one, stick it in your pocket, and have room for your iPhone in the same pocket.

My opinion is that Ian is doing a lot more work to not carry his laptop, than to carry it. It’s his choice of course. From the episode (I haven’t finished) I gather:

  • iPad Pro 11"
  • External keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Compute Stick to run Windows
  • 45W charger
  • Some sort of battery/hub to power everything
  • Bag-o-cables
  • MacBook Pro 13" w/ VMWare to run Windows
  • 61W charger
    Then if he needs the iPad for pencil support, etc. just add that to the bag and a usb-c cable. Even with that, it’s still just four things, vs. 7+

I did enjoy this episode and the conversation. Great guest!

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I was hoping Ian could talk about the process of making his interactive exhibits and specifically whether he has to become a subject matter expert on all the different disciplines involved in order to make the exhibit.

I did enjoy the episode and am very impressed by what Ian does. I, too, am a museum geek so appreciate what Ian does.

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@ismh I highly recommend Ready Player One as a great fiction audio book. Read by Wil Wheaton.

Why are you saying it like that?


Regarding an extern all keyboard with touch ID support, Microsoft already makes one for their surface PC. And it has a fingerprint reader built in.

Perhaps the Bluetooth security vulnerability that was announced earlier this year.

It’s lame that Apple hasn’t extended this. I’d rather have an external keyboard with TouchID than a Touchbar.

Apple will likely release a new external keyboard with TouchBar and TouchID.


Regarding SuperTank portable USB charger, this reminds me of one I have that I wanted to recommend. While it does not have as much capacity (20K mAh vs 27K mAh), what makes this one great is that it also serves as a USB hub for your Mac or iPad.

This works perfectly for me in a live video streaming setup with the battery powering an iPad while also allowing me to plug in an external mic this USB via my Zoom H6 and USB wired network to a Netgear Nighthawk M1 mobile router.

I just wanted to pass this on because I thought some people would find this battery+hub option valuable.

I wonder, since the Compute stick is being used with iPad Pro 11, would it be possible to run it also on iPad Pro 10,5?