There is a certain atmosphere that one can hardly describe. A certain aura that floats around the fringes of reality from time to time. A distinct impression of god knows what. Very tangible, very real, yet very hard to explain. Yet I encountered one of these atmospheres this morning. Those moments that you suddenly realize the world does have the afterglow of magic in every single fiber of its existence. Those moments in your life like it is, as if you are passing trough a fleeting scene in some National Geographic documentary.
The atmosphere I encountered this morning was that of a waking city. Just before nine AM i plunked the hard rubber tires of my adventurous mountain bike down on the pavement and biked into the hart of town. Just before the shops open up, the busy shopping street is specked by only a few people, purposefully marching towards their destination. Some standing outside the shop where they work, waiting for the iron curtain to rise from its slumbering state others yawn the last fragments of blissful sleep away as they strut forward.
It makes me feel like a voyeur. Out of place, lingering behind the scenes of everyday life in the big city. Like catching the magician putting the rabbit INTO his hat before the 'great trick'. As dawn slides out of the shadows of concrete and steel the morning mist breaks the harsh echoes of those few sounds that traverse the void. I feel like a spectator who took the wrong turn and ended up backstage.
And yet i feel like I belong. Like i belong in this place just as much as the morning mist or the delivery van standing in front of the pizza place. Very soon the bustle of everyday life will bring hordes of tourists and people who just visit the city for a single day. Yet I belong. I belong in this city. Like having a backstage pass to roam through and behind the magic of all of it. Being a part of it just like the city itself.
One by one strange faces march into the town. Some rushing for a bargain, heads down peering into the windows of the countless shops. Others amazed at urban life. Walking, slightly gawking, in and at the world of city-dwellers. And me .. I just march trough the crowd (at a slightly faster pace). The naiveté of the average shopper replaced by the comfort and perhaps even by the arrogance of somebody who belongs there. Stand back .. Local coming through.
Some survey woman tries to stop me (along with dozens of other shoppers) in the middle of the high street, beckoning for a moment of my time. I smile apologetically while i firmly state.. "Please, I live here, I traverse this high street twenty times a day". She obviously knows when to retreat, not wanting to dull down her sharp sales techniques on the leathered skin of the " local ". She huddles away toward another shopper who traverses the high street at a irritatingly slow pace. Bags loaded with shopping trophies, Eyes dancing across brightly lit "etalages" , Walking, slightly gawking at the wonders of urban life .. The perfect prey.
As I hear the first line of the well rehearsed survey clatter down on the un-expecting witness I smile.. Those country folks 🙂 … Suckersssss !
About a year ago I got the silly idea to take an old laptop and fix it up with Ubuntu Linux. Just a simple installation : Standard Edgy Eft Linux install with Gnome and some games. Nothing too shocking right. Next up I started to tweak the GUI in order to make all of it a little more user friendly. Since the user the laptop was intended for was, for the majority, going to play games and watch dvd's on the system, I adjusted the toolbars , added (and deleted) Icons for the functionalities most needed and.. enabled automatic login and stuff like that to make it a little easier. So far I don't really see your eyebrows shoot up. Just wait for it.
So I wrap up this simplified user friendly Ubuntu system in wrapping paper and take it down to .. A 79 year old dutch speaking GRANDMOTHER ! who is going to be the sole user of the system. Yes my friends : I whipped up a UBUNTU FOR YOUR GRANDMOTHER.
It was a pretty simple operation at best so I decided to Blog about it. 2 days later the Knightwise.com website had EX-PLODED with 9000 hits a day on the "ubuntu for your grandmother article". With hits still coming in every day it put my website high up there at the Googlecharts. But this pleasure was dwarfed by the joy in the eyes of worlds first 'Ubuntu grandmother' who until this day continues to use her Ubuntu-based laptop for hours on end !
This week I'm very happy to announce the article got featured in the "Fullcirclemagazine" the official digital magazine for the Ubuntu community. This great magazine features all things Ubuntu and comes in a printer friendly PDF that you can download and browse through in your on – or – off-line life.
In part three of our little manual we are going to get adventurous. One of the things the normal household in this day and age cannot live without is bittorrent. Sure you might raise your hands in innocence and shout “No Sir Not me !!” but when I look away ever so briefly I can just bet my bunnies that you’ll be checking on the download of your latest “educational” dvd download of Jenna Jamessons latest flick. But seriously. What I have seen many times over in the average families of today is that everybody uses peer to peer. Either its the tech savvy geek-of-the-house who knows how to download, what to open and what not, and most importantly how to preserve that precious upload limit cap, to the teenage sister who just clicks on all kinds of crap using bearshare, opens up everything, infects her pc and blows the roof off the upload limit by sharing out her entire download directory to the planet. All of this resulting in poor bandwidth for the family, extra ISP bills, infected pc’s and a headache for whomever needs to clean up the mess (yes, thats you ! )
Furthermore if you DO choose to walk the illegal path of peer to peer file sharing, you also know that in order to download stuff, the client pc’s need to be connected all the time. And with the whole kyoto thing, having three pc’s up and running to download three different mp3’s.. Its not very economical is it. So in this part of the manual we are going to set up a web based bittorent client on your Feisty family server. It will allow all the members of your family to access it via their web client (without downloading any software on their own pc’s) They can search and select the content they want to download and give the server the go-ahead to do it. The big plus is that there will only be ONE pc running to fetch the downloads for the family, its in a safe enviroment ( = NOT WINDOWS) and more importantly , YOU as the family geek can keep an eye on whats going on in the download AND upload department. Interested ? So lets get cracking and install Torrentflux on your Feisty fawn or edgy eft ubuntu server.
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When cleaning up my office this week I came across my old Software-Suitcase. A massive thing that used to be ma companion wherever I went if I had to do tech support. I remember working for the educational department and having this silver ‘flightcase’ with me all the time, because it contained all the software and tools I needed to do my job as an IT-guy. It used to house over a 100 jewel-boxes with software ranging from Operating systems to exotic tools and what have you. It required constant attention, making sure the discs you used the most did not get scratched, making sure you had the recent version of all the free and shareware tools and of course, tracking them down on the right disk. And lets not forget the horror of horrors : Leaving the cd in the tray of some computer and only finding out about it the next day .. AAARHG !
Your external drive : Software repository nr 1 : These days my ‘support briefcase’ has been seriously “midget-ized” With the coming of external media I have dragged all the software I need whenever i’m ‘out there’ to my 40 gigabyte, bus powered USB Harddrive. Its as small as hell and so very easy to maintain. By dragging all the disks I need the most onto it in nice little folders I can easily install whatever I want wherever I want and never have to worry about leaving behind cd’s. Its much easier to swap out older with newer versions of software and with the ‘find’ command you can look for any tool anywhere.
Your external drive : Toolbox Mobile : But if you want to : Go one step further. I mean, If you can pack all your geeky software collection in there, make sure to make it your mobile toolbox as well. A separate directory carries ALL of my portable applications. That way I can just hook up my drive to any machine and either do what I like to do best with my OWN applications or use the tools to repair the buggered box back to health.
Your external drive : Mobile operating system in progress. Just like the Dutch bring their own water on holiday you can just as easily bring your own operating system. Why not BOOT from your portable hard drive and turn in into your very own OS. ( A howto on doing it with Ubuntu can be found HERE , and there are plenty more options to try like THESE ONES )
And finally : With the advent of digital books all around us its time to stop running to your company printer to make a hardcopy of “the linux Bible’ you just downloaded from Bitorrent. Downloading books in order to print them is so pre-kyoto. These days we need the trees and if you want to carry around your entire MSDN collection you are going to need to store them digitally (or get a goon to carry them for you) So store your online library on that USB drive and with the wonderful function called ‘FIND’ you can access and search through them at a pace that would be impossible if you where still in the page-flipping days. One tip : If you are dealing with end users and find yourself explaining the same things over and over again, try making small how to’s and instead of printing them out and giving them to the users , keep a copy on your usb drive. So the next noob will just have to control copy past to embrace your wisdom !
Same shit, different day is a very popular saying around these parts. Even I tend to fall in the routine of everyday life now and then. This morning when I chucked my Digital camera into my backpack I was silently pondering over the fact that I should pay more attention to the details of that everyday life, in order to find some inspiration to write about now and then. But hey : Doing the same one hour commute for over a year now does tend to dumb the sences a little bit. But it is as they say : Be carefull what you wish for, you just might get it. Apparently I had rubbed some genies lamp this morning for 30 minutes into my commute I started to notice a strange vibration emenating from the the back of my car. Listening intently to a Star Trek audiobook I first thought that this "tactile" addition to the suspence of the novell did add something to the whole, I soon came to the conclusion that "something" was wrong with my car.
A frienly truckdriver flashed his lights to draw my attention to the fact that my right rear wheel was blowing smoke like a jamaican on holiday so it was time to pull over. And what do you know : I ran a flat. No big deal to switch a tire : Big deal if its pispoaring rain outside AND you are parked on a 2 meter wide strip along that very highway with barely enough room to manouvre. Being the safety-first kinda guy I transformed into a walking roadsign with my bright orange jacket and waited for the road-assistance crew to help me out.
3 hours later I arrived at work, having witnessed the transformation of this little puncture in my tire to an all out soap operah featuring helpfull drivers, Heroic road-assistance crews, a mountain of paperwork and phonecalls and .. four new tires. Thank the Matrix I was carrying my new Qtec smartphone to write down phonenumbers, make calls and of course shoot some pictures for you guyz. What an adventure.
So before you go and complain that you're stuck in a routine be careful what genies lamp you rub cause before you know it …