Audi Arkanoid.

img00025.jpgMan ! What a week this has been. Believe it or not, this is the first time I get to sit down decently behind a computer and do something in the vicinity of writing a blog post. Most of this week has been spent on the road, cruising through the beautiful country of Belgium and all of its autumn tainted landscapes. A great experience of course, and ideal for an podcast fanatic like me to catch up on some episodes and beef up on knowledge. Even my own podcasting exploits are benefited by this “time on the road” and I managed to record the next episode already (Now I just need to get down to mixing and uploading the fracker)
The week however was not uneventful as I had my fair share of adventure (or could I call it misadventure )  on Tuesday. I was up in Luxemburg , visiting one of our company sites when I thought it would be a good idea to go out for a little snack during my lunchbreak. I took the car and drove of the industrial estate , trailing behind a car with one of these little trailers behind it. Suddenly I saw something drop off the little trailer. I saw something (I thought it was a peace of Styrofoam) hit the road. The truck coming towards me in the other lane prevented me from swerving out of the objects way so I hit it straight on. Can you imagine the scene in Star Trek 1 where they are heading towards an asteroid, caught in some kind of wormhole effect.. Unable to go left and right ? Well , I had kind of the same situation, minus the ability to launch photon torpedo’s.
There are some noises in the universe who are inherently bad. You don”t have to know where they come from, you dont even have to know what they mean .. you just KNOW it doesn’t sound right; One of these terrible noises perpetrated from underneath the car as I slammed into the unknown object.

I had to pull over right away, switch of the engine (that by now was making an even MORE horrible noise) and got out only to find a BIG CONCRETE BLOCK behind my car , streaked with motor oil and a black puddle that was slowly but surely propagating from underneath my car. The driver who had just LOST ‘unknown object 001’ continued merrily on his way, oblivious to what had just transpired. The audi however had suffered a lethal blow from this unforeseen game of “asteroids” .. or actually its more like Arkanoid since the Audi was minus one rocket launcher to defend itself.
So after calling up road assistance to have the audi towed of to a garage far far away.. I had nothing better to do then to walk  back to the company and wait for the replacement car to arrive. As I spend the remainder of my lunchbreak online, quickly doing some emails and posting the ‘recent events” on twitter and facebook.
What was heartwarming is that suddenly my whole online community came alive. Several people commented if I was Ok, asked questions about what happened (and insisted I posted pictures to flickr ASAP ) and others even offered to come and pick me up ! Seriously ! Good friends, most from my facebook list , let me know that if I needed a ride, I just had to give them a shout !.As my blackberry buzzed alive with direct messages from twitter and facebook , I felt a little less alone in the world. ( being without a car in the middle of a deserted industrial estate a far of country of Belgium DOES make you feel lonely) but now, that ONLINE posse that keeps me warm and fuzzy feeling whenever I ‘live online” was literally close to my heart , as I tucked my Blackberry in my breast pocket.
But it all turned out well in the end. The replacement car was delivered in time and I was to go on my merry way. Exhausted from the excitement and the shock ( Because quite frankly, that little event scared the crap out of me) but feeling good knowing that my “virtual friend-scape” had become very real to me that day !!!

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Kc218 : "Tech on the Road"

Today we talk about how to let technology work for you on the road. Hotwiring a Tomtom, an Ipod and an MM50 and a blackberry into technology that works for you. A prime example of tech on the move and how to be creative with everyday technology.


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On the edge of the CrackBerry ?

Well, by the looks of it the website is back up and running, so I should be able to post another article. Yesterday and the day before something went wrong over at the funny-farm where was hosted and apparently the collective SQL Database array decided to shit itself and leave us hanging out to dry for about 2 days straight. I’m still in the process of figuring out what in wankers name went on, but things seem to we working ok.

This weekend, one of the first this year, has been spent mostly at home. As the weather outside decided to lay out a setting that would even make the Duracel Bunny depressed, we cuddled up in ‘the embassy’ (a nice nickname for our home) and have spent the majority of the day in our hobby room upstairs. With Neelix and Nyana sleeping, watching tv and surfing, I have some time to get behind the pc and get some outstanding work done. So far most of my activities have been : Trying to record the next episode of the Knightcast (Trying), Securing one of my remote Linux servers and documenting the whole thing for my school project, cleaning up my massive itunes music collection and listening to some of the "freshly acquired tracks" that I have sorted so elegantly. Its a good thing I have the 24 inch Imac to hide behind otherwise people could quite easily think i’m mad since i’m bopping my head up and down, Senheiser Headphones up and bopping away to the music.

On saturday i sold the last of my G4 macs. The little mac mini I still had ( I had been using it as a Linux server) got adopted for some small ammount of cash by an 11 year old Mac enthusiast who, with this machine, got his first Mac. I installed the machine into perfectiona and bothered to slide a crapload of freeware and open source software on the desktop. This way this little guy won’t be bothering his mom for at least some time to come. 

Saturday afternoon my central heating guy came by to install a thermostat downstairs and I had to lend a hand. When he asked me if I had a manual for the boiler in the basement I had to look at him and gently shake my head. His worried expression informed me I did however need one , so Google was my friend. Together we went into the basement, took the Acer laptop with us, checked the model number and found a PDF of the manual on the net. Pretty cool huh 🙂 Halfway in looking over the PDF (we did not of course print it out) the Craftsman and the IT guy were interrupted by the sound of a .. BLACKBERRY ?  And what do you know ! Heating-guy pulls a BLACKBERRY from his pocked and quickly replies to an email. I was stoked ! Quickly afterward the whole situation turns into this techtalk babble between geeks. He’s bitching about the buttons on his Pearl being to small, I show him my HTC ! This is my heating guy ! He’s more geeky than me ! (when it comes to blackberry anyway). Love it !



Now I have been playing with the idea of getting me a Blackberry. Since i’m on the move quite a bit, a more permanent means to connecting to the internet is becoming apparent. Up to now freeloading of open Wifi was a pretty cool way to get things done, however more and more people secure their wifi networks these days. The dumbo-dumb days are unfortunately over. So I needed a fallback scenario to get on line when I needed to. There is of course the issue of "what do you go online with : Go for a 3G Usb modem and use the Acer Netbook, or use the smartphone with a GPRS connection ? The former is more powerful then the latter, but the latter is more convenient. Its quicker to whip out your cellphone and check your emails or Twitter, then to boot up a complete netbook. So I had been looking at GPRS contracts, 3G contracts and even Blackberry solutions. At 15 euro’s a month they don’t come cheap and the 100 megabyte data cap is not really smiling in my direction either.. But its worth a look. A Blackberry would form the "instant communication umbilical" between me and my life on the internet. And as much as I look at the possibilities, I also am a little frightened of the whole concept. With Mobistar having a deal on the Blackberry Curve 8320 for a peasy 225 euro’s (if you buy it toghether with a blackberry contract) the Blackberry is within my grasp.. But then what ? Will I become one of those "Crackberry addictees" ? or might it be a disappointing experience ? I do know that , having already done my research on the apps I can run on it, the Blackberry would tie me into my web based life pretty smoothly. Syncing the Google calendar, Getting my Gmail on the BB, Contact sync software for the Mac is also out there.. and the list goes on. Portable SSH client, Googletalk, Irc… Tie that together with the fact that the BB 8320 comes with Wifi, a digital camera and a micro sd card .. this could be leaning towards the perfect device for a sweet price  ?



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Living in the cloud.

Today, a different commute, this time to the head office of the company in Leuven. I left a little too early (about half an hour) so I have some time to kill before I need to be at my appointment. Dribbling rain and gray clouds have chased away the blue steel skies and amber sunrise as our side of the globe slides into autumns gray cloak. As I drive to work, listening to an older episode of Spacemusic, I feel right at home. And it is about "home" that I reflect today. For many among us "Home" is where we live. Where our house is, where our family is, where we were born. But for me that term is very relative. Since the whole "house debacle" we went through some years ago, the "sophistical context" of home has become relative to us. Home to us is not "our house" or even "our home town" Home, for Nyana and me "Home" is where we live together, no matter where that is, in what city or what house.

And working as an IT consultant has changed the concept of my "digital home" as well. There are people who cling to their "hobby room" , their little home office where they have all their goodies around them and can "compute away in perfect piece". Without direct access to this machine they feel lost and feel that their "creative wings" are clipped, due to the fact that they are not "behind their station". For some , the digital home is their laptop. That specific machine that houses all their programs, their data. A machine they drag around everywhere. For me, my "digital home" has become a very relative term over the last few years. At my parents place I have an XP machine running, with logmein enabled on it. From any computer on the planet with an Internet connection, I can access this machine and use the programs that are on there. And what IS installed on there is very little. 90% of the applications that I use for private use, are web based. So no matter where I am I can access them and feel "right at home". Either its Gmail, Googletalk, Remember the Milk, the Joomla interface of my Blog, the Aussiegeek podcast forum, Twitter.. It doesn’t matter where I am, what operating system I’m using, what computer I’m using.. As long as I have a connection to the net, i’m at home. 

Even during lunch breaks at some remote office, where I don’t know anyone and am silently sitting behind some free computer, hooked up to the net.. I’m home. My internet buddies are reachable, I have access to all my files and programs using the remote sessions I can run on my remote XP machine, I have access to several virtual machines running on that phisical box. An SSH session running on the remote XP machine connects to two virtual Linux servers running on that same machine, or to another virtual linux server running at another remote location. So whatever I need to run "locally" I can run on the XP machine using Logmein, Whatever I need to access on the web, I can access using the many web based services I use, Whatever I need to access at home I can access via VPN or SSH.  

So no matter where I am, on what computer, using whatever operating system… As long as I am connected to the net, i’m home.  So … has the cloud become my casa ? 

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