Dawn in the City.

 

dawn

 

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 !
 

 

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Ubuntu for your grandmother featured in Full Circle Magazine.

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. 

 

ubuntu

 

The original Article can be found HERE : Ubuntu for your Grandmother

The  Fullcicle magazine's homepage

The link to edition 2, with the article on page 12. 

 

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Feisty for the Family PART THREE : Torrent-time with TorrentFlux.

 

torrentflux

 

 

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.

CLICK ON READ MORE FOR THE REST

Continue reading “Feisty for the Family PART THREE : Torrent-time with TorrentFlux.”

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Use your portable harddrive wisely !

 

hd

 

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 !

 

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1 Flat tire, 3 hours of time, Four new wheels.

carSame 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.

 

 

 

dudeA 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 …

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Back to Forums and IrC dude !

Ow darn ! Its been quite the hiatus hasn't it. I kneuw ! I kneuw. But I have taken the time of to sort some things out, start some projects up and get some things straightened out.

One of those has been
: Switching my lovely Imac (G4) that I wrote about a few posts ago with a Ubuntu machine ! Yep ! Just to get some good quality time with one of my favorite operating systems I thought it was time to "beam the bean" into the living room. I must say : The machine ain't as pretty as the lovely Imac, but being able to get down with a combination of Ubuntu and a pretty fast machine does make for a powerful workstation. Installing feisty with desktop effects, finding a cool wallpaper, setting the right theme (not brown) to match and running the Automatix script proved to be the easy part of the install. Wanting to mount the shared drive I have on my mac was harder then I thought. Sure, using the GUI one can just go "places / connect to server " choose Windows filesharing, whackin in the right IP and credentials and whoosh. But when you want to do it right one should use the .fstab file to automatically mount the share into your linux file-system. Step number one in all my Linux quests is of course www.ubuntuguide.org. Most howto's are straight to the point and anyone who can press ctrl-c ctrl-v can do just about anything.  But it turned out it was not all that simple. For some strange reason Ubuntu would not recognize the smbfs file-system. "What the Fuck" I uttered to myself. While Ubuntu mounted the filesystem just fine using the graphical way (places.. connect to server blahblah) it would not do it when I tried the .fstab file.

Now what !

Erm. Where do geeks turn to when the are stuck ? Other geeks ! But my queries with the linux master ( Capt Command line ) turned up nothing. So I hit the ubuntu forums. Many people underestimate the power of ubuntuforums.org, but i'm sure as hell not one of them. So i chose a good topic ( not "Help i have a problem ") described my problems, included lines from my fstab and terminal output and waited. Not more then two hours later somebody was kind enough to reply .. but their suggestion still led me to the same result. Once again : Now what ?

 

d

Back to the channel !
IRC ! I'm sure I haven't been on good old IRC for years ! Back in 2000 I was a darn regular in #mp3.be on Effnet, but I hadn't "/Join"-ed an Irc channel since then. Darn I thought everybody was dead back there. To my humble surprise.. They are all very much alive. The #ubuntu channel on irc.freenode.net is a busy bustling stream of problems and solutions served up at a speed that do not allow you to blink ! Seriously smart Ubuntu-freaks are queried by noobs like me and provide answers (and more questions) at a rate that had me rattling my keyboard like the good old days. I looked more like the guy from Swordfish copy-pasting output from my shell to the chatbox and trying their suggestions. (No Hale Berry on my lap though :() but still. And guess what ! We came up with the answer. Apparently the solution to my problem was painfully simple, so simple in fact that I had totally overlooked it. If you tell Ubuntu to mount a filesystem, be sure to install the package so it can READ the filesystem ! In order to "know" smbfs (samba) shares , you need to install the smbfs package. The only illogical bump in the road is that .. As GNOME recognised smbfs , the 'rest of ubuntu' needed the package to be installed ? So after doing my victory dance I posted the reply BACK to the forums where I posed my initial crime for help.

Conclusion
.
It felt very nice to be back to the roots of the net once again. Away from over-gui'd (is that a word) chat-clients like Messenger. Embraced by the fast pace of Forum-surfing experts and copy pasting config files like it something I do everyday. If not for your knowledge of Linux, hanging around in these circles does make one feel a little bit better about being a noob.

Sites mentioned

Ubuntuforums
http://ubuntuforums.or g
My little post
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=483708
For #ubuntu
open your IRC chatclient type /server irc.freenet.org and type /join #ubuntu.

 

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Nyana turning 30 !!!!!

There comes a time where we all go over that one hump in life that is the big 3-0. Although i'm puzzled as to why people make such a big deal out of this, cause quite frankly, its just another birthday. People sometimes say "oh Darn, I’m 30 now" but look at it this way. If you are 29 and you look damn good .. you're 29 and you look damn good. But if you are 30 and you look damn good : They say "WHOW you look awesome even if you are 30" So speaking of people who look damn good on their 30th birthday : My lovely wife Nyana turned 30 today and its time to unravel on of the pesky secrets I have been harbouring for over a fortnight now. Together with the fantastic LEN from Jawboneradio.com we've come up with another great idea for a birthday cartoon.

 

So here she is, Nyana as her favourite character from the new Battlestar Galactica series : Number SIX !

 

Happy birthday sweetheart ! I hope you have a great birthday. ( And perhaps conquer a planet or two, make a genius mad with your fantastic flirting skills, Boss some Cylons around and all that) Coming to think of it .. Isn't driving a genius like me mad with your sensual beauty something you do EVERY day  ?

 You can send your best wishes to SASKIA30@GMAIL.COM if you want to 🙂

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My G4 Imac : just because I want it !

warpathSometimes you buy something because you need it. Sometimes you buy something because its the sensible thing to do. Sometimes you buy something that you have carefully thought about, sometimes you buy things on a whim. And SOMETIMES you buy things because you just WANT them. It does not matter if they are hopelessly out of date, useless, slow, ill-advised, passé .. or one of 50 other negative reasons. You just buy it because you want it. We all know the feeling. Misplaced childhood traumas of not getting that "toy transformer" for your seventh birthday later raise their ugly heads. As you place a bid for a 1985 model of "Warpath" in mint condition for a nearly ridiculous sum you KNOW you are not making a good deal .. but you just WANT it ! 

Same happened to me this week. It has been one of my pet peeves ever since i've owned my first mac, probably even before that. From the very first time I saw one I was instantly craving to ONE DAY own one of my very own. Yep : Its a G4 Imac. A totally revolutionary design lovingly dubbed 'the desk-lamp' With its half spherical base, adjustable monitor arm and sparkling white color it just screams "computer" In every movie you look where they have to drag up a prop that really screams " I AM A COMPUTER NOT A TOASTER !!!" prop assistants are bound to dig up one of these babies or go for its colorful G3 counterpart : The first generation Imac. Now I have owned one of those and don't think they are all that. Lets face it : They might look good on paper but a 15 inch CRT screen for a computer used for graphic design. Come on !  Okay, the G4 Imac might not have a bigger screen (the did however come in 17" and 20" versions) but the latter where utterly NOT-affordable.  But every time I saw one on TV I thought to myself : I want one of those ! 

So I had this old P4 1.7 gigahertz PC lying around doing nothing (you can't turn everything into a Linux Server) and I thought : What if I find somebody who wants to trade his G4 Imac for my old little P4 clunker. I know what you are thinking : "WHAT ???" but patience is a virtue and after sending once copy-paste email after the other to every Imac-G4 seller in the country my own little crusade was rewarded. I managed to find somebody who would gladly trade his Imac for my PC. Most mac users would rather piss in their own left boot then trade their Mac for a computer but there is a slight minority out their for whom that little Mac is more a curse then a blessing.

"It belonged to our daughter" the man said on the phone when I called to inquire about the Imac "She wanted to take a course in graphic design so we bought her the mac .. She needed it she said . It cost allmost 2000 euros back then, and after three months she was sick of it"  " I'm very sorry to hear that" I said as I silently thanked the scoundrel who had conviced the daughter of the house to take up morning sex instead of morning classes and blowing her school career all together. One mans grief is another mans glory. Sniffing that I was dealing with  a newbie user I thought it was time to explain the positive points of my PC system and greatly accentuate the fact that I would configure the PC exactly to their needs. According to the man it was a done deal and I was expected in Mechelen on saturday morning.

 

imac

 

I arrived, unpacked the pc and set it all up. As the man once again explained his grief to me that the Imac had gone to waste over the years, he showed me the original price of the device : This G4 700 megahertz 15" imac had indeed cost a bundle. I might like my macs but i'm no fanboy : These things are FAR TO EXPENSIVE ! They where so back then and they still are so today. But hey .. we where both coming out of this a winner. As the wife dusted off the white Imac for the last time she stressed the point that this was without any doubt the prettiest computer Apple ever made. And knowing that I was buying a computer that was a tad on the very slow side and that could barely keep up with the fast pace processing power of its peers, I wholeheartedly agreed. My little G4 Imac might not be fast, it might not be powerful but its DAMN PRETTY when its sitting in our living room.  So everytime when I have to wait four more seconds for Firefox to boot up on this not so very fast mac .. I just look at it .. admire and appreciate it .. cause sometimes its all about looking good. 

 

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Digital Katharsis.

graphIf I where to draw a graph of the amount of digital content that I have consumed and contributed to the net these days, one could easily say that i'm kind off on a "low streak" at the moment. Very true. Updates of the site are a bit on the late side and my voice has not been heard in a podcast over the last few weeks. Don't panic however. I'm just adjusting to new changes in my life and need to get used to new paces and new routines. I'll give all of you a quick update on whats been going down these days.

 Leaving the GGP. Yep, For those who had not noticed it : The Global Geek Podcast now sails without its Window-Washing Vista-hating Balmer-bloating host. It was a decision not taken lightly but over the last few weeks I was just getting swamped in stuff that "had to be done" The GGP takes a lot of time to produce and both Dave and Tim put hours and hours of work into it. Due to a tight schedule, I had a hard time making the recording windows ( not to mention that I didn't have any time to chip in on the blog, the pre and post production) and so on. So before the podcast started becoming "yet another thing I HAD to do" I thought it was best to call it quits. I loved working with these guys and loved doing the show.. but in the end It should be something we all enjoy, not something that "needs to be done before x PM tonight. I have plenty of things that "need to be done" as it is. 

ipodThere has also been a downfall of the number of podcasts I consume. Because I don't have to be on the pinnacle of whats happening in Cyberspace every day anymore, I decided to cut into my list of subscribed podcasts. Due to a change in position at work I don't have time to listen to the podcasts AT work, So now I only have the morning and evening commute to tune into my Pod and listen what has been said. So a lot of stuff went out. Most amazingly some of it was what could be concidered "prime content" : TWIT for example. Over the last few months I had become increasingly irritated with the ego-maniacism and total lack of content of the Twit show. To me it was all sounding a little bit too much like Radio. Clear, cookie cut content with crisp sound , zero quality and more importantly : Zero credibility. Its an Illness a lot of podcasts seem to suffer these days : Everybody wants to sound professional, All crisply compressed, no ambient noise, no kids running around downstairs and most importantly : NO PERSONALITY.  And when a podcast turns into yet-another-washed-out-radio-show i'm done with it. The reason podcasting attracted me is because of the level of "reality" that they carry. Real people living real lives, real geeks talking about real stuff they care about.  But hey .. thats how it goes they say.  So i've leveled my subscriptions down to a number that I can barely manange into my "listening time" and "au contraire" to the months before : I don"t feel guilty when I skip an episode. The one thing I have noticed is that I am starting to listen to music now and then. Giving my brain a rest and my emotions a little playtime. Its amazing to suddenly be remembered of the inspirational power of music and I greatly enjoy it.

dvorakBefore I sign off I want to thank the guyz at PodcastJunky for their Great Article : "Comings and Goings"  where little old me gets mentioned with the great John C Dvorak .. all in one article. Thanx guyz !

First of all, I’m sure many of you who listen to the Global Geeks podcast will miss Knightwise as a regular contributor to the show.  Still, Tim has settled in well with Dave and we’ve been promised that Knightwise will make the odd contribution every so often. Knightwise… we’ll miss you. As one door closes, another door opens…… letting in John C. Dvorak to Adam Curry’s podshow network.

 

 

 

 

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