Its not what you add .. its what you leave out . Practical pointers in simplicty.

Does your office look like a Borg hive ? 

 One of the biggest challenges in the daily life of a cyber-citizen must be .. Simplicity. Simplicity in using technology , simplicity in integrating technology , simplicity in hardware and software .. and most importantly : Simplicity in thought.
Just think of the classic example. Somewhere along the way it happened. Your ever so tidy laptop bag seams to have been impregnated by the lords of chaos them selves. What started out as a slim shiny Dell laptop-bag has now become an atrocity. Like a grotesque pregnant elephant its innards have now swollen up with meters of cables , extra floppy drives, cd’s, extension cords , paper, books and so forth. As you watch the heaving husk that , due to being terribly overweight, drags your left shoulder to the ground and makes you look like Quasimodo, you think .. Where did it all start ?
But when you look at the mess that is your office , you see a reoccurring pattern, Your office, once setup with the help of your girlfriend to be a place of fen shue , now has the characteristics of a Borg cube after a high speed collision with a scrap barge. Cables , monitors, paper , books, post it notes.. keyboards overlapping keyboards, mouse-cables in suffocating deadlocks, flashing hubs and switches.. and loads of empty coffee-cups.
The big drawback of being on the edge of real an cyberspace is that you learn a lot of new things everyday. There is so much to see, to find out, to try , to test, to use .. Everyday something comes along that takes your fancy and you add it to the list .. stick it in your bag , add it to your start menu. And pretty soon you have an immense collection of tools and toys that by no means contribute to your effectivity.

 Techno-Reset.

What i regularly do is a ‘technological reset” where I look at all the things I have and think about ways to work more effective. For example : My 4 old test computers that served as my loyal test-battery (and drove my fiancé AND our electrical bill up the walls) have now been replaced by 4 virtual machines running on one computer, My entire collection of Windows versions have been scaled down to fit on one single dvd. My overweight software collection bag has been reduced to one portable USB hard drive and so on. Its very important to find the balance between keeping up with what is new , and being overwhelmed by hardware, software, information and more. The challenge is to analise what you have , and try to distill it into a workable simple concept. This means letting some things go , or combining tools, hardware or work-methods, but this is the only way to let technology work for you .. instead of the other way around. Take for example my current podcasting setup. It started out with one computer and a microphone , but due to the demands of my podcast, has grown into : A microphone stand , A microphone, A pop screen , headphones, a Mixer , My Macbook for show-notes and skype conversations , a second computer to play music or background tracks (using a USB DJ console) and finally a Linux system to record everything on.  I must say its very versatile BUT also very complex. I am momentarily contemplating how to simplify the whole project. This will not only get me a cleaner office , it must also give me a cleaner way to do my thing : thus simplifying technology.  The “how to record skype conversation” issue has been solved as I found this little gem for my macbook  and as a replacement (or quite probably an “addition” to my studio setup I was looking at the Samson C01u microphone with a table stand .  Together with my Macbook it will give me a portable high quality studio, that can be put away at a moments notice. Using Garageband and open source software like Audacity this wil greatly simplify my podcast production.

So you see my friends, Living with technology is not about what you add .. but what you leave out in order to be as effective as possible. This will help you in working faster, thinking clearer, have more time to think and respond to creative challenges. Downloading tool after tool , installing pc after pc is easy , its looking THROUGH the technology in order to see how you can destil it, simplify it .. and tune it into your way of life. 

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Oh yes .. We are getting married by the way.

Oh yes … did I mention this ?  

Ok , by now the podcast should have been up, but hardcore Knightcast fans have to be a little more patient. I’ve been down and out with a nice bronchitis last week. So this weekend i’ll be sure to have a new episode up.
BUT ! More important things have also been on the agenda. It is with great pride and joy that we unveil one of our secret projects we have been working on for the last few months. A secret project that required a lot of preparation and also .. a little bit of cloak and dagger secrecy.  So time to pull back the curtain and unveil ….  Our marriage !

 

Wedding

 

 


Cloak and Dagger

Yep , On July 8th Nyana and me will cease to be engaged and will seal our vowels in the town Hall of Hasselt. Together with a select crowd of friends and family we’ll be up and about at the crack of dawn to start of the big day. We will be keeping you posted , and in true Knightwise.com tradition there will be a rather large digital coverage of the event. So hang on for video material, Digital photos and a sound-seeing tour (might even do a special podcast of the event). Instead of a wedding photographer we are proud to announce that we have a wedding cartoonist. Len from Jawboneradio.com provided us with this official wedding cartoon for which we are eternally grateful. Check out his work on www.jawboneradio.com . As we are off to shop for some wedding – outfit somewhere I leave you with this great cartoon 🙂 See you soon !

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A salute to spacemusic, a letter to a friend.

Letter to a podcaster, letter to a friend.

This week marked the final episode of the Spacemusic.nl podcast. A show I loved and enjoyed .. Its time to step up and salute its creator.

 
oblivion Beaming out to eternity.
 
Time rushes by in an ever fasting moving world. We are always busy , always have so much to do , so much stress. As the technological progress beats its ever faster sounding drum, its sometimes hard to keep up.  Yet amid this valley of fast talking people, of series of events that dance through the hurricane of progress… there is a eerie silent vortex. As I slam my buds deeper into my ears to drown out the savage society I live in.. My hand reaches out for my Ipod and I breathe in deeply before pressing the button.And then it comes. Like a wonderful ocean of peace that silently scatters the seconds into a blissful eternity. Sounds and chill-out atmospheres shatter my worries and as I peer into the remains of reality … the world slows down.  Like tele-porting yourself from the heart of Beijing to a remote iceberg near patagonia .. Reality , stress , rush .. it just stops. A few seconds later I hear the sound of his voice. A voice that is warm, soothing and wonderfully at ease in this ever racing world. A voice that was strange at first , then became familiar .. and that has become the voice of one of my friends. As his carefully selected music flows through my reality the world is sugar coated with this beautiful soundtrack. And somehow my deepest  thoughts and emotions greet the light of day after a dark and raging storm.As i toss pebbles into the ocean of my own consciousness , I think back to the very first time I heard this voice. Somewhere in October 2004. As music flowed around me and wrenched me from the grip of everyday life.. The voice spoke about walking through the snow. As I heard the crunching ice beneath his feet I could imagine i was there. Amid a hectic day in my life , he offered me an opportunity to step out into the virgin snow.
 
The first episode. 
 
Ever since that episode, I have been hooked, addicted, in need of my next fix. Countless times his music, his voice and I chased through busy traffic, dark nights on the freeway, dull tasks at the office. But thanx to the protective chill-out screen , nothing could touch me.. Wherever I was , I chilled out and embraced the eternity between 2 seconds to contemplate what where my deepest thoughts.Or on day-trips, that me and my fiance took in the Belgian ardennes. Spacemusic would be playing as we floated through reality. Between forests, highways, slumbering towns .. The music covered it with .. .Magic. On these long drives we hardly spoke. We learned what it was to be silent , to contemplate .. to enjoy. It didn’t matter where we went.. As long as we had plenty of time to listen to TC’s tunes and appreciate the magic of the world around us.
 
 
 
The honor and the privilege.
 
dI have the honor and the privilege to know the man behind the magic, I have the greater honor of calling him my friend. So today I stand between feelings , just like his music perches me on the edge of realities. I’m happy because I have faith in what the future brings.  Faith in the fact that Tc’s creativity will evolve into something different.. that it will move onto greater things. But also I find sadness in the part that there will be no more trips to neverneverland, no more emergency beam-outs to chilloutland, No more spacemusic.But i understand and support the wizzard behind the curtain. I wish him the best of luck , I raise my sword in silent salute.. But most importantly .. I thank him.For the hours and hours of time he poured into this project. For the love , the passion , the joy and the emotion that flowed through these unspoken words. I thank him for the many magical moments I have experienced while listening to the music. The way he could transform a lonely commute through a rainy night , into a flight between the stars. I have and will always enjoy .. spacemusic.

Thank you Tc , you are the best .. and knowing you .. i know that whatever path you take .. you will always be.. the best.

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Virtual insanity : Xp in Linux or Linux in XP.

A whole new deal. 

Very soon we will see a culture shift, A change how people interact on the computer scene. My prophecy is nothing less then the end of the almost relidgious ‘ OS- Wars ‘. From newbie to web-lord, we have all played the paralympic game of ‘ what’s the better OS’ Wether in forums, in chatrooms, in endless slashdot threads or even in the comfort of our own pub : We’ve all been there. Wether Xp is better then 2000, Why Mac Os is better then Windows , and we’ll never forget the face of our local Linux Guru foaming at the mouth after he had to endure your proclamation that Windows ME was the best operating system ever written. ( And he never spoke to you again. ) But very soon the question “What’s your operating system” will be replaced by “ What’s your Primary Os ?”. Any computer with a processor speed over 1.5 gigahertz is quite frankly a waste of money. You don’t see a specific speed increase when you buy a 3 gigahertz or more . Ok , Windows will boot faster , but that does not mean YOU can work any faster. I mean , the processor is not the bottleneck of the system.  The question is : What to do with all this extra operating system power … More eye-candy ? Perhaps Vista will be more then happy to gobble up a few million cycles just for Balmers personal pleasure.  OR .. we can make the cycles pay off by jumping on the virtualisation train.

 All aboard ?

What do you do when you have one OS running , but your computer can carry twice the load ?  Well , lets install ANOTHER operating system. I’m not talking Dual Booting here, I’m talking Virtualisation. Running a second Os , INSIDE the first one. The “Base OS” is the main operating system you are running, The “ Guest OS is a virtual version of an operating system neatly compressed into one file.

 

 

jj

 

 

Why ?

I know what you are saying. But why “ma cher Knightwise” would i do this ? Here is why.

  • Perfect testing : The virtual machine you installed is just ONE FILE. After you install it , make a backup and start fumbling around. Messed up the Guest OS ? Just drag your copy back and you are good to go. You can easily install all kinds of operating systems without having to worry about partitioning.- Space and energy saver : Who said you had to stop with running just one Guest OS . Instead of bricking up your bedroom with countless pc towers you can now have them running as virtual machines on one machine. Needless to say you save money by just owning one pc, you save power cause you only have one power supply to feed and save valuable bedroom time with your space because she doesn’t have to be mad at you all the time for junking up the house with your old ‘test machines”.
  • Switchers trouble : I have seen people by a PC or a Mac just for that one task. I’ve seen people buy an extra pc for their on-line banking. I’ve seen switchers go back because they could not get a certain application working on a certain platform. Well, There is an end to switchers trouble and you have all walked through the gates of Sliders heaven (Sliders = cross platform users). Personally I wanted to switch my main machine to linux because I could not get MSN messenger running webcam sessions. (Microsoft does not want to clear  the code ) So .. I installed Ubuntu, ran Windows XP as a virtual machine and did the impossible, ran the two Os’es at once and did my Webcam stuff without any trouble. I run Xp on my mac for consulting purposes (when i need to get into a Windows network)  and I run Ubuntu in my Xp for testing everything out before I make changes to my ubuntu server.
  • Servers dream :  The crappy thing about running multiple servers at home is the fact that they eat power. Now you can run several ‘virtual’ servers on the same machine and just have one power supply to feed.

And how do i Do that ?
Before we start : Be sure you have enough memory in your Base Operating system. Each guest operating system requires a chunk of ram. The bigger the chunk, the better the speed. Also see that you have enough storagespace. Not only so the Guest OS can grow to its full potential (About 4 gig”s will do) you also want to make  backup copy’s of every clean installed os that you have.  Wether you want to run Linux in Xp or Xp in  Linux , you need the free vmware player . This is a free application that lets you use pre-built images of virtual machines. So you cant ‘build’ your own virtual machine , just use one that has been pre-built. Now this ‘building’ of a virtual machine tells the virtual machine how to act. Luckily I found THIS site where you can download FREE virtual machine configuration files for just about any operating system you wish. All you need are the installation cd’s of that OS and you are on your way.  I’ll be playing with virtual machine more as the week progresses and keep you posted on the results. Meanwhile my “ Piece de resistance “ is a screenshot of an msn webcam session in Windows XP , running as a virtual machine on my Ubuntu (base) workstation.  Sliders .. the end of our troubles is in side and we are virtually saved.

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Windows Genuine Advantage Phone Hoooome….

Windows genuine .. erm … Genuine ?

A few days ago, it was discovered that the Windows Genuine Advantage program (that little tool that checks if you have a real or pirated version of Windows) actually 'phoned home' to Microsoft. Although this was far from a big surprise , it still caused a bit of an uproar in the cyber community. On the techpodcasts mailing list we were talking about this subject , so I thought , I would give you my take on all of this.  
( Source

Et Phone Hooome.

Windows Gen. Adv phones home ? What a surprise. I didn't like the program in the first place. Don't get me wrong, i'm not one of these 'if its MS : Kick-it' kind of people. Thanx to uncle Bills and Grandpa Steve's software I make a living (i'm an IT consultant). BUT .. I think WGA ( win.gen.adv)
is flawed in two ways :

 First of all : What it does. : If you don't have a legit version of windows, it won't let you upgrade.  An unprotected (legal or illegal) copy of XP connected to the internet catches some horrible virus faster then you can say 'WillyWonka" and before you know it this little unprotected machine is becoming another oompa-loompa drone for virusmakers who just love to turn it onto a little Zombie Pc to make sure a virus like for example the BLASTER virus will be around for years to come. (if they don't select your unprotected machine to become a viagra-promo spreading spam-canon). So no genuine windows  ? Sorry dude .. you'll get hacked. Now I would not mind that if the machine just died then and there , its because of these unpatched zombie pc's we get even MORE viruses out there. (and more spam)

And second of all : I don't like WGA for what its does not do ! Shut your Windows down for-good if you don't have a legitimate version. I mean : If you can write a peace of code that can see wether or not an operating system has been copied illegally .. why in hells bells leave that operating system running in the first place. I mean .. if somebody walks by my house and steals my garden gnome.. I'll run after him .. i'll catch him .. And then i'll put a pink sticker on his back saying : This man stole my garden gnome.. and send him on his merry way. If Microsoft was TRUELY serious about pirate control they would let WGA shut the illegal copy of Windows down right away.

Shut it down !

But they don't .. Why ? Because if they have to subtract the number of illegal copied versions of Windows from their total market share they would NOT be having 90 percent of the market anymore. They would have shutdown 40 percent (and i'm being mild here) of all the Windows versions out there and would FORCE people to pay for their product. And that is where the fun begins. At that moment people have to choose. 200 euros forjust XP , 85 euro's for macOSX, and any distro of Linux .. for free. Sure they would have some adaptation problems switching to the other os'es but actually having to PAY for xp would make them give it serious thought.
So instead of going the full mile and shutting down the non genuine xp's , WGA just leaves them running.. unpatched and annoying the rest of us.. And they leave WGA running.. just to phone home as-well.. You never know what they could use the info for.

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hot weather + Airco = No show :(

Hot hotter .. Haaaatchoo !  

Just great ! One day of hot and steamy weather and guess what ? I have a cold. A cold ? yep ! My voice sounds like Barry White the morning after his bachelor party. My throat feels like the inside of a death star trash compactor in full swing and my eyes feel like they can just about destroy a small passenger plane when they will pop out.

Yep , A combination of warm weather, happily switching between cold air conditioned rooms and hot sweaty NON air conditioned rooms and having an air conditioner in the car and not knowing how to deal with it … has left me in this petty full state.  Just proves that too much integration of technology in your life (and poor climate control in using it) can be a bad thing. So unless you want a one hour podcast of the headless-hoarse man ( haha , get it  ? Hoarse-man..) i am going to have to pass on doing a show this week. But no worries mate (as Dave sais)

coldThere will be plenty to talk about on the next show as I'm momentarily preparing 2 more shows full off yummy good content.  Meanwhile if I look at the over cluttered living room table ( Bless you for putting up with me Nyana) and the Satanic Six are staring back at me. Nono, I haven't gotten a devils spawn on the day of the beast. These are just 6 final essays that I have to rate and grade by next week Thursday. (i'm in the Jury). So I've been digging down in them pretty hard (lotsa pictures makes for fast reading) and understand why in MY college days jury’s where begging students to keep papers as light as possible .. And despise students who want to impress jury's with endless 'paper-filling'. ( Page size screenshots of error messages, useless banter etc). 

Techroundtable and more. 

On a Final note (and preview on the next show) I'm fighting with a Ubuntu 6.06 install and must say : "Aaaiii – Candeyyyy " (go suck on that). Surprise surprise it does need LESS mega’s of ram then the Vista beta two (hogging up to a gig for starters) but still looks pretty slick and pretty fine. After install Ubuntu looks like a beautiful Nigerian-exchange student girlfriend popped up on the edge of your bed. Indeed indeed : Dapper drake looks mighty fine.

BUT ! I have good news. Be sure to check out the techroundtable webcast next saturday on the "techpodcast network ' where you might just hear a very familiar voice. 

Ok ,  its gulp-down coffee, dash off to work crunch time again… Darn.. its too darn hot.  

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Yow Charlie ! Its your birthday.

Happy Birthday Nyana ! 

On the edge of real and cyberspace,  time is sometimes an issue. If we want it or not .. we all grow a day older every time the earth does its little pirouette. And everytime we make a homerun around the sun , another year goes by.

 

 

So too for our lovely Nyana , who is having her 29th birthday tomorrow. So if you wanna give her a shoutout , suck up to her .. or express your deepest condolences because she has to live with me 24 hours a day.. Let yoursellf go.

Shoot her an email via the 'CONTACT US form '  or call out a voicemessage trough the 'send a voicemail' link on the side.  Meanwhile .. I just wanna say from all of us here : Happy Birthday Nyana.

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No propper MSN clone for the cross-platform community.

A lot of Chitchat. 

As a slider ( somebody who moves swiftly between operating systems like Windows, Mac and Linux ) I am often confronted with the question : What tool do I use for what  ? There are of course plenty of ‘switcher tips” out there to help people out who decide to jump from one OS to the other. These ‘switch-lists’ are composed of tables representing a certain application in one operating system , and its counterpart on the other side of the fence. For example : Microsoft Office on Windows has Open-office as its counterpart in Linux (and also in Mac OS). Some applications are called cross-platform , these are of course the ideal ones. An exactly identical version exists in all operating systems. For example : Firefox , or Thunderbird. All versions look and feel exactly the same no matter what OS you are on.
But sometimes you have to look for stuff that “looks” or “behaves just like” the original version in one operating system. Classic example here  is the Switchers nightmare MSN Messenger. Unfortunately insanely popular among Windows Users here in Europe. But : Microsoft clings to this little peace of software like there is no tomorrow. Deliberately setting back the versions that are brought out on other operating systems (like for example on Mac OSx) and not disclosing any code to the open source community so their IM clients would be able to interact with MSN Messenger. The result is the entire thing has to be reverse engineered to make it work.

dWhat about MSN ?
A question often asked is : What do I use instead of MSN on other systems. Now there are some viable alternatives out there, but the one most commonly found on both Mac and Linux systems is AMSN . This noble attempt at Msn messenger ‘approximation’ has been running strong for quite some years now. Their main concern was to be able to crack the hard nut of enabling cross platform msn audio and video-chat. A noble cause since Microsoft does shield that box of tricks very well to the outside world. Now the AMSN people said they cracked it. They had gotten in working. Onto the labs dear friends ! My first test ( video chat between my powerbook and my girlfriends Ibook) worked just fine .. behind the firewall. But once I tried to talk or send files to the outside world ? No go.. Amsn does not deal with NAT translation very well. ( Well , it can’t cope with it at all). Making matters worse : Amsn runs on the  Mac like a rhinoceros on a valiumtrip. Slow and jerky to respond and not at all reliable. So i’m back to my ‘non video chat’ enabled alternative ADIUM. A great, highly customizable, well supported alternative. The downside ? No video-chat (file transfer works excellent) AND only available on Mac.  As for a Linux alternative to MSN i’ve stuck with GAIM for being the better product.

A loss.
Too bad actually , I mean , these guys over at msn have a quite good cross platform product and are able to crack a fantastic nut in getting video-chat to work .. But then they get stuck on this simple thing like Nat transgression. Perhaps its time for all these ‘alternative messenger clients” to start working together and produce one kick-ass open source Messenger alternative and overcome one of the final pitfalls for users switching to a non Microsoft OS.

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Google Sync: your bookmarks everywhere.

Google Sync : Your house is my house.

syncJust got up and running this morning and only 5 seconds into my morning surf-wave when already found my little snippet of news that kind of makes my day. Google has just released a firefox extension called 'browsersync'   that lets you synchronies your bookmarks between several different browsers (at work, at home etc). This is not such big news , cause services like this existed before ( you had the bookmarks in your google toolbar , you had del.icio.us ).. Plenty of places to store your bookmarks… but not very convenient. What if you already HAD an extensive list of bookmarks, you had to order them , categorize them and so on. Not a very easy thing to do. And I don’t really like third party places where you have to manage your bookmarks. All in the comfort of my own home please. Now Google has come up with a cool FIREFOX extension that lets you sync UP your websites tot the Google servers, and Sync them down again as you logon to a different computer. Meanwhile the bookmarks are stored localy on both computers… And a copy is stored on the Google servers.

Whats your flavor .. tell me whats your flavor. 

What a great marketing trick. Google now exactly knows what your ‘favorites’ are and can use this to send you targeted adds and searches. Their motto is “ Do no Evil” and so far , Google has been a pretty good boy .. But what if all that information that Google has ( favourites, Gmail, search information) is ever put to “not so good use”. Google is sure as hell gaining a lot of information this way , and for convenience sake we are quite willing to give up some privacy. But on the other hand : What if this leeds to targeted adding ? It would be a bad thing , but also a good thing. What if the spam you get in your inbox anyway .. is more directed at your interests. Instead of college diploma”s and .. lets call them “ego-enlargements” … you would get spam about tech stuff, Barbie dolls, or when your favorite rerun of Family Ties is on TV.  It just shows that information can be used in different ways and that good and bad … depends on where you stand.  Before I start sounding like Obi One Kenoby .. I better sign off !

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Early Adopter syndrome.

Early adopter syndrome.

If there is one thing that can really get under my skin, then its an end-user or cyber – illiterate waltzing up to me and lecturing me about a peace of technology that I have already filed under obsolete months ago. “ Hey dude “ he mumbles “ have you heard about this thing called ‘podcasting’ Its like the next big thing man. When I heard it, I thought of you right away .. You Earlygotta try this out.” I sigh and roll my eyes as he tries to (inaccurately) explain the “new gig” he found out. When he is finally done I gently try do deflate his ego-balloon by pointing out that A : this new technology has been in existence for about five months, and B : I’ve been using it for a prolonged period of time in a more advanced way then his little brain can fathom and C : The next generation of this gadget is already out and i’ve been testing it for 2 weeks.
Whatever the next step is , its all a no-win scenario. Either you brake their little techno-spearheading soul (you can hear its little kernel crash right then and there)  OR they insist on clinging to their  ignorance and actually stick to their malformed arguments and delusions of knowledge.

Thank you captain obvious.

Its the curse of early adoptor syndrome. First you crawl the night night and day, beta test software untill you see as blue-screen in the face. Next you twist and turn to tune the tech into your way of life. Then, when you finally have it down and its becoming more of yesterdays news then a force of habit… te rest of the world catches up. Sigh… It just makes me want to scream ‘ I KNOW all this already ‘ and biting back “ And my information is a little more correct” .. And finally you have to sit through the weeks that everybody is clumsily adopting this new technology and is so exited about it you think your at the special olympics.

The new cosmopolitan. 

For example, today : Skype + cellphone + Skype forwarding + conference call = Telling your girlfriend who is 20 km’s away , that you’ll be a tad later using your Australian friend as a relay. And afterwards , while driving the call calling in to a VOIP phone conference with you (on the cellphone), your girlfriend (behind her pc) and your thunder down under dude (on his pc).  If you tell this to a “normal” person , they are about ready to put you in a mental institution. As my aunt thinks i’ve betrayed my roots just for moving 20 km’s away, she must think i’m the Omen for talking about friends in Chicago, Sacremento, Leeds, Australia and so forth like its the most normal think in the world. They always say : The internet is the death to distance, and the then the early adopter has surely become the cosmopolitan. So when the rest of the world finally catches up .. and starts calling us on skype too.. We are soooo gonna have a bad case of “early adopter syndrome”.

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