This is Galaxy Explorer LL928 calling your Childhood.

A while ago i was reading through an interesting post over at gizmodo about his visit to the fabolous Lego Vaults in Scandinavia. This magical place is a priceless museum of all Lego kits ever created. From the very first up to the very latest, all lego play sets that have ever left the factory, are stored in that magical vault. To my surprise, the author had a certain weakness for a particular line of Lego toys that spanned the late seventies early eighties. The "Lego Space" line encompassed, among others,  several "kits" A lunar base ‘The Space Command Center" (box 483)The Alpha Rocket Base (box 483) The Space Cruiser (Box 487) a smaller space cruiser and .. the majestic box 497 "The galaxy explorer". A fairly large and expensive box for the time. Featuring a small ground command station and a space cruiser with a pilot of one and a cargo bay for one little lunar jeep.

immediately i was taken over by a wash of childhood nostalgia. I remember the three spaceship models very well, since I owned the smallest one and had spent many many hours playing with it. I also remember the pang of envy I felt when I watched the kid across the street play with HIS Lego spaceship. THe larger and more powerful version of my little one-man patrol-ship. The "Galaxy Explorer". In comparison this was a massive ship with its own landing facility AND a "massive" hangar bay capable of transporting the little Jeep that came with it. This envy stuck, for I have never had a chance to own that kit, nor did my requests to "borrow" the instruction plans from my neighbor, so i could build my own version of the ship with the parts i had lying around. But the answer was no .. so the Galaxy explorer sailed of into the folds of the past.

30 years after the box was originally launched, that request for the "instruction plans" of the Galactic explorer seems to find an answer after all. A wonderful site called "The Brickfactory" houses every single instruction booklet to every single Lego set ever built. Now since I have obeyed my golden childhood rule " Never give your Lego’s away" I was wondering if I could put two and two together. So I have started my attempt to "rebuild" the Galaxy Explorer for my own, using the parts that I have from all the years i played with Lego.

Now, Since i was a Lego kid from lets say the late seventies tot midway the eighties, the type of blocks required for the set were not out of my reach. (there were no super modern blocks needed) so i started my attempts this afternoon. Rustling between my blocks while reading through the instructions, was like a trip down memory lane. I remembered peering at those instructions as a kid , counting the little knobs on top of the blocks to know the size i required. Spending hours looking for the right part and being frustrated when you didn"t find it. And the greatest joy : Watching your construction take form are you follow along the different steps in the instruction.  No wonder we are an Ikea generation ! THe Scandinavians had us following their "instructions" since we where kids.

However I was met by a problem that has set back the "speed" of my construction of the Galaxy Explorer. The thing with using parts from a set from 1979 is not that you don’t OWN the parts , its that you have probably lost some of those parts over the span of the years. Several "classic" bricks ( engine mounts for one) proved to be a little hard to find so my own "Galaxy explorer" isn’t quite ready to come to life just yet.

But some surfing on the web did give me a chance to take a peek at the work some of the Lego enthusiasts have been doing over the years. Since our own imagination is the boundary to what we can do with lego .. you should check out just SOME of the variations that were inspired by the Galaxy Explore. So never mind I didn’t get to build my OWN galaxy explorer. Now I can drool over what others did with it too. I heart the Interwebs !

Links.

The BrickFactory :  The Original Galaxy Explorer plans (among others of the Space line of 1979)

Super Galaxy explorer Variant

LL928 Heavy lifter

Super Galaxy explorer variant

And a ‘reimagined’ version of the ll497 

Assembly of the Galaxy Eplorer (as it should be done šŸ˜‰ )

 

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Pirating is the new Masturbation. Evolve and find the free stuff legally

Why you don’t need to download music…

" Where do you download your music ? " The question, mostly posed by a newbie, floats in a pregnant silence for just a second. My shoulders slump slightly and I feel like some kid of Movie Celebrity being asked the same dumb question by journalist nr 4004. I turn around and face the Newbie, sighing to have to "explain" everything all over again. Knowing that every bit of information I divulge will only reward me with MORE questions. All of it resulting in an endless crossfire of questions and answers ending in the solemn conclusion that "that’s not what they are looking for". In the nightmare-on-newb-street version of this conversation, "el newbo" will proudly declare he is using mall-ware infested software like Kazaa, Lime-Wire or E-donkey. As I wince and (half-sighing to keep oxygen flowing to my brain) explain that such programs are the computer-equivalent of licking the underside of the toilet seat in the restroom of the local train station, I can see the look of disappointment on their face. Not because of the fact that I have just pointed out that the dangers of peer-to-peer file sharing for your computer equals having a full-blown condomn-less orgy with 15 die-hard crackwhores on a bed of second-hand injection needles. Nono, they take issue with the fact that I have just somehow ‘insulted’ their only means of getting the latest Britney Spears album for free. (Never mind the fact that 23 Trojan Horses piggy-backed along for the ride). " Then what do YOU use  ?? " they ask me outraged. Now this is a bit of a trick question. One would think that this question is an invitation to further point out why its not a very good idea to use peer-to-peer filesharing. But it is infact an invitation to ‘reveal’ some kind of superprogram you as a supergeek use, to get your music for free. That way, our newbie presumes, he might ‘learn from the master’ and do even more illegal downloading (and get all the porn flicks he’s been dreaming off).

So the correct answer to this question is " I don’t download music of the internet " Whether or not this is a lie is entirely up to you. Pirating of music is the new "masturbation" everybody does it , nobody admits it .. and its not very polite to ask. So perhaps you DO have ways of getting your content for free, but they are somehow too advanced for mr newbie to comprehend ( Rapidshare, Newsgroups, Bittorent). Its not a good idea to share this information, because quite soon you’re going to have to SUPPORT him in pirating content .. And that is a line I will not cross. If he REALLY wants to he’ll be able to figure it out for himself. Lame as it may be, its not a bad thing to say that you ‘buy all your cd’s in the store " It might get you a funny look .. but hey, at least the issue is of the table.

Its like I say all the time : there are Three levels of gathering content. Newbie extreme :
The people who BUY EVERYTHING (BUY Office 2007 Retail to open a word document) Newbie-Standard : Pirate the content. (Download some version of Emule, spend hours finding a crack and ending up with and infected system) and GEEK: Find a free alternative for the contant ( Download OPenoffice for free and get to work).  With music its the same deal. If you know where to look there are PLENTY of ways out there to get your content. As a personal example I’ll share the following. Using a free application, I am able to get more then 7 hours of FREE AND LEGAL content downloaded to my harddrive (DRM FREE) from some of my favorite artists and Genres. This is the equivalent of buying 7 cd’s a week (One CD a day) getting my content fresh and free without ever hurting the artist (or his money hungry record label) in the process. Its just that I KNOW where to look.

My secret ? Itunes ! Artists these days are more then happy to do a one hour podcast to promote their stuff. Sure there might be a little ‘promotional tainting’ going on in the episode ( ‘check out my new album etc etc’) but it works for me. One hour episodes of our favorite DJ Tiesto ever week ? no problem, Trance music mix from "above and beyond ? " its out there. Ministry of sound mixes ? Paul Oakenfold ? White Sensation ? Or do I want to mellow out with some Chill tunes on "Spacemusic" Its all out there right in the Itunes music store and it does not cost me a dime. (and I’m not even masturbating .. erm .. pirating ! ) So what are you waiting for … Stop mucking about in the cesspool of peer to peer file sharing and pick the free tree ! If Pirating is the new Masturbation then getting your music legaly and for free must be the next step to that .. So get it on people ! Hit the Itunes podcast directory and start looking for the music you like best.

 Links.

Itunes.

Tiesto’s Clublife Podcast.    Armin Only Podcast    Paul Oakenfold Podcast  White Senation Podcas t     Trance Above and Beyond Podcast   Spacemusic Podcast .   

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Knightwise, Where are all your Boxes ?

A few days ago we had a friend over who made quite a astute observation. " Yo Knightwise, where are all your boxes ? " With "Boxes" he of course referred to "where are all your computers". The last time we had this friend over was at our old house in Hasselt, quite a long time ago. As I gave him the "tour" of the house, with the "lab/office" as piece-de-resistance offering up a nice line of monitors, keyboards, cpu-towers and humming servers. When I think back of moving INTO our old house, I remember packing up about 8 screens and 12 computers (laptops included) and dragging the lot into the new casa (and generously donating a slipped disk to the persons who had to haul it all upstairs). Today it is of course a whole different story and that surprises even me. Our entire "visible" computer infrastructure consists of a 24 inch Imac on the kitchen table ( our main interface to the digital highway ). If you are ever so fortunate to get the whole tour of the house you’ll only notice one little desk in our room upstairs (which doubles as a dresser and a study) with a microphone boom, a laptop stand, keyboard and mouse and a large Tft screen. The rest of our infrastructure is .. Invisible. Is it not there ? Has it gone away ? Have I "toned down" ? Not, not by an inch, if ever I have "more" computing power at my fingertips today then I had back in our old house. But it’s just organized a little differently.  How ? .. and .. Why ?

A question of estethics.

If I wanted to I could setup a nice office with large screens and multiple machines if I wanted to, but I haven’t. As I explained in the podcast episode "A geeks Palace" there are several approaches to "The geek Palace" . There is the "nuclear" approach, where you office is one mess of cables and screens that look like the collision between a spaceship and a blender. But for reasons of estethics I am not going to to there. On the other hand you can go for the multi-monitor super productive (and quite massive) setup I displayed in one of the KWTV episodes where my 24 inch Imac made the heart of the system, flanked by two 19 inch monitors AND a 15.7 Macbook Pro jammed on one big table. Or I could go for the current setup. A stark table with the ‘facilities’ to house a system but not a "permanent setup" of a system. I choose the latter.. Why ?  First of al : Less is more. Going for a quite "stark" setup (keyboard, mouse, display) and all the rest hidden away, makes for a workspace where you can realy focus on what you "came" to do. It offers a low-impact, versitile workspace to facilitate whatever system you land on it. Second : As i said "what you CAME to do". With the 24 Imac on our Kitchen Table there is no longer a real "computer room" in the house. So instead of "going up" to the computer-room and working on the computer .. you "bring" your computer to hook it up to a more "productive enviroment" ( Larger keyboard / mouse / extra pheripherals like printer / mixer etc ). But the key of the matter here is that you "bring" your computer.

The power of the laptop.

With 2 Macbook pro’s in the house each powerful enough to do 99 percent of our "productive work" the "desktop computer" becomes obsolete. Our laptops have become our "portable cpu’s" giving us the computer power we need when and where we need it. Sitting downstairs in the couch, Hanging out of the porch or blogging from the bedroom. Not only is the Wifi network coverage ubiquitous, we also have constant access to all our data on the server and in the cloud. With " hardware Independence" achieved, it no longer matters WHAT machine we work on (we pickup eachothers laptops whenever they are around) for the concept of "local data" does not exist anymore. Only when we need to "enlarge" the interface with a full keyboard or an extra screen do we "hook up" the laptops to the setup in our office. There the little "portable solutions" become the equivalent of a full desktop PC. Only then does the "interface table" turn the room into a "computer room".

The hidden server.

"Discretion is the better part of Valor" So our server remains a discrete although prominent part of our daily digital life. being the central hub for data storage, incoming SSH connection, running scripts and applications, AND doubling as a media center one would think to spot a massive 19 inch server rack in the corner of our living room. However aesthetics is not the main motivation not to do this. First of all the average "home" does not need the same equipment as a corporate environment needs. And although shoving 19 inch switches and NAS drives into your home might seem c
ool at first, the resulting power bill will quite quickly change your mind. The server in our house is a small Intell ATOM desktop. (an Intel motherboard WITH the processor on board, 2 gigs of ram and a terabyte harddrive. Packed in a small form factor casing it looks like a vcr and is mounted underneath our TV (doubling up as a media center). Relatively quiet and online most of the day its the central hub of our indoor and outdoor computing lifestyle.

The ones we don’t pay for.

But the question remains.. Where DID all the boxes go ? Well , to be honest I still have a few, but these are running as virtual machines on remote systems (read : different computers I’ve setup elsewhere). Having the ability to hook up to them using logmein, ssh or the VM-ware web-interface , it does not realy matter if these systems are IN our house or not. It does not even matter if they are Physical machines. As long as we can connect to them, fire them up and shut them down whenever we feel like it .. There is no need .. for all the "boxes" in our house.

Links :

KWTV : The Multimonitor Imac Setup.

Knightcast Podcast : A geeks Palace.

Knightcast Podcast : Laptop Luxury.

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Kc224 "Kilroy 2.0 is everywhere."

Let go of the terms “my computer” “my applications” and “my connection” and transcend beyond your digital boundaries to become a true omnipresent citizen of the web. We give you tips tricks and pointers how to slide from location to location, computer to computer, application to application and connection to connection without losing your foothold in your digital lifestyle. Transcend your own 1.0 cyber-citizen status and become Kilroy 2.0

Shownotes.

  • Intro
  • JC Hutchings Seventh Son Podcast.
  • Become Hardware Independent.
  • Become Software Independent.
  • Become Location Independent.
  • Become Connection Independent.
  • Becoming Independent of Linear Time.
  • Signoff.

 

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Unraid Freenas or Drobo : Big Storage Solutions.

One of the things I take a lot of pride in, is that I have a fairly digital lifestyle. I’m not talking about the while internet thing and stuff , that too of course.Ā  But when I say Digital , i mean Digital as in digiTIZED. Over the last few years I’ve embraced most technologies that allowed me convert whatever I had lying around to a digital medium. Pictures: Since 1997 I’ve owned a digital Camera. I slid that 128 Mb flash card into the slot, clicked the big button and have never ever taken an analogue picture since. All the pictures we have taken in all these years have been safely stored (and backed up) to either our local hard drives (mostly on our servers/nas drives) and over the past few years, in the Cloud (Flickr). I’ve seldom to never had a picture “printed” to hardcopy cause I quite frankly never saw the need for it.

My entire CD collection was digitised a few years ago and has also existed only as a collection of digital bits and bytes. The actual cd’s that i owned (and I had quite a few) are stored in “archive mode” down in our basement. Most video material I had shot using my Video camera have been digitised and burned to cd’s or stored on our local harddrives. Whatever we stillĀ  had lying around as important documents got converted to PDF’s years ago. And with the coming of our Ebook reader I have effeciently rendered most of my book collection obsolete and have moved from letters to bits when getting new books or material.

The only ‘phisical’ medium that i have left is our DVD collection, that, somehow is in dire need of digitalisation. We haven’t purchased a lot of new dvd’s (save for collectors boxes like Battlestar Galactica and what have you) so the only thing that most of our dvd’s do is collect dust. It would be great to have one central place to store all those media. Sure, our fileserver with its 1 terrabyte of disk storage (and additional one terrabyte of backup storage) does not do a bad job in serving up the files we need. But it has its limitations. One terrabyte is only one terrabyte. And after several years of “collecting digital data” it might not prove enough.

On one hand you need a “compact form” of storage so you can access all of your data in one place, hopefully pretty fast. A built in drive into your fileserver or an external usb drive is fine. It doesn’t pay off to have several drives in several places (constantly having to reconnect and disconnect external storage) and its not very energy efficient to have all of your storage media plugged in at once. My solution has been to divide the data I have into two pieces. On one side I have data that is “fresh” and that i need to access every day. This data (like our music, pictures, projects) is stored on our server (a one terabyte disk) and backed up every day. On the other side there is also data that I don’t need every day, but that I would like to have for archiving purposes. I can either burn them to a cd (but that makes indexing the archives pretty hard) or I put them on another external hard drive that only gets plugged in when i need the data. Sounds like a plan ? Maybe, lets face it : One external drive is only ONE external drive. You can add ANOTHER one but then you would go like .. hmm where did i put this and that .. etc. If only you had ONE BIG PLACE to store everything, that “grows
along” with you as you go along.

So instead of putting my backups and my ‘old data’ on “passed down” drives that I have taken out of my system, i’m going to try something else. Lets face it. Since 1 terrabyte drives have become dirt cheap, I found I had several older drives just “lying around” A 500 gig, a couple of 250’s, A 320 .. a couple of 160’s.. you name it. Putting them all in several enclosures just is not very practical (again : the data is ‘fragmented’ that way) and it would be nicer to ‘accumulate’ all of that storage into one big place.

So there are two solutions you can go for. Freenas is one of them : Take an old beige box you have lying around, chuck ALL of your drives inside. Install Freenas on a usb stick, boot from such usb stick and presto : you have a fileserver. (mind you, its a fileserver that is capable of automated backups, connecting to windows, mac and Linux machines, even SSH access (yes yes, we LOVE our SSH) and more.

Dirtcheap, easy and it gives all of your ‘older drives’ a new lease on life. You can either use it as your “primary” storage solution (mind you : lotsa drives make lotsa heat and eat lotsa power) Or you can use it as your “archive solution”. A system you power up every now and then to write and access some data that you have “stored away” in the bigg-arse drivecluster you setup with freenas.

Freenas DOES support raid solutions, but you have to make shure the drives are the same type/size/brand in order for your software raid to be effective.But since you have a “collection” of heterogenous drives you would like to merge into one storage blob and STILL need raid .. Freenas is not going to be able to help you.

How about a system thatlets you pop in whatever drive you have, add drives along the way, REMOVE drives along the way and STILL be able to keep all of your data. I know .. I can just hear you screaming ‘ DROBO DROBO ‘and yes .. you might be correct. Sure enough, the wonderfull Cali Lewis has pimped the Drobo to us geeks using her sweet southern tongue (she is such a sweetheart) so why don’t we go for the drobo ? 2 reasons : Its proprietary techonoly AND its DAMN EXPENSIVE. (and its limited to some 5 drives).

Enter “UNRAID” : Having the same basic setup as Freenas (Beige box, lotsa drives, usb stick) Unraid offers you the functionality of the Drobo at the price of the Freenas. You can add up to some 36 hard drives (hello !) because this solution is geared toward fast redundant media storage (where Freenas is more of a simple file server/archive solution). With Unraid (just like with the Drobo) you can swap out drives replacing the smallest drives with bigger drives as you go along.

Unraid takes care of the Raid array (making sure you don’t lose any data) and looks the other way when you mix up drives with different sizes, speeds and brands.. its just works. But the catch is that in order to do this, Unraid needs to keep a “master catalogue” of all your drives stored on the biggest harddrive in the collection. So lets say you have a 500, and four 250 gig drives : then you’re gonna have one gig of storage because the largest drive is your ‘insurance drive’ that makes sure that everything is going to be a-ok when one of the drives goes south.

Sure : if you pop in a One Terrabyte drive for this, you can add 750 or 500 gig drives as much as you want. And as long as you keep adding ‘more and more’ drives, your storage is going to increase .. as long as they don’t go any larger in size then your ‘insurance drive’ there is no problem. But thats not always how it works. If I would like to use then UNRAID with the harddrives I lay off along the way .. the drives are going to get BIGGER everytime. Adding up to 36 drives is cool and will give you MASSIVE (and secure) storage. But the resulting machine would need quite a bit of juice to keep it going AND could easily heat up a small greenhouse (global warming anyone ?). Add to that that the FREE version of UNRAID only supports 3 drives and you have to pay (allbeit not that much) for the pro version.. I’ll probably stick to freenas.

Links :

Freenas

Unraid

Drobo

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Using Podnova as your online Podcatcher.

So thank the matrix for Podcasts and RSS feeds. Your loyal podcatcher (whether it is Itunes, Juice or good old Bashpodder) is subscribed to the RSS feed of your favorite show and downloads the episodes you want to listen to. Just punch in your Ipod (or whatever mp3 player you have) and you areĀ  off to listen to whatever stuff interests you, whenever you feel like it.

That is , until you run out of juice ( no pun intended, I do mean battery power), until you FORGET your Ipod somewhere (Lets say you leave it behind on a plane) or you run out of content to listen to before you have a chance to ‘resync’. All your subscriptions (and your content) are on your podcatching computer (at home) while you are craving for the next episode of your favorite show.

Or what if you just got this awesome link of some new podcast about airbrushing antarctic penguins and you really want its next episode to be there when you sync up next time ? You’re podcatching pc is miles away and you happen to be stuck at work .

All of the above where issues that brought me to the a simple question
: Is there a way to manage my podcast consumption online ? More specifically : Is there a way to manage my podcasts even if I’m away from my mac. And does that service also help me in listening to the podcasts I’m subscribed to, In effect: have an “online” version of my ipod ?

The answer is : Yes there is. After some Googling I found PODNOVA.COMĀ  This web-based service lets you search and subscribe to podcasts online. All the podcasts you subscribe to are listed up in your account and you can browse through various episodes and listen using their built in flash player. Its like having your “podcast” directory that you have in your podcatcher (or in Itunes) online. The big bonus here is that you can access the podcasts you subscribe to, from any computer. Whether I’m at work and want to listen to some chills from the Spacemusic podcast, or I’m at a friends place and want to tell him about such-and-such podcast I listened to. I always have access to every show i listen to, using podnova.

Podnova lets you search ‘their’ directory of podcasts for whatever you want to listen to, but I have found the RSS feeds Podnova mirrors, to be anything but fresh. Sometimes “their” feeds of a certain show are several episodes behind on the “original” podcast feed”. So whenever I want to add a show, i just copy and paste the RSS feed into Podnova to make sure its all “fresh”.

The other awesome feature they have is their “snippets” feature. Lets say you just want to listen to one specific episode of a podcast. What if you feel like cherry-picking certain episodes from various shows ? Just “add them” to your snippets and all the different episodes from different podcasts are dropped into one RSS feed you are automatically subscribed to. Next time you pop in the ipod .. all those episodes are right on there.

As their website states : ‘As a web 2.0 service, it provides a method for not only subscribing to podcasts but also sharing those subscriptions via a RSS feed and an OPML file via a web-based interface.’ So of course you can share your collection of podcasts you subcribe to ( this collention of RSS Feeds is your OPML file ) with others OR export the entire OPML file to a podcatcher on your computer.’

In order for this link between your podcatcher ( ok, lets just call it Itunes ) to work you need to have some way of moving Podnova’s OPML to your podcatcher OR import your podcatchers OPML file to Podnova. For this, Podnova comes with a client that does just that.. and unfortunately .. more. As mentioned, the client gives you the ability to “sync’ podnova’s OPML file to your podcatcher. This, on its own, is a priceless functionality for me. I just go online, add and remove podcast subscriptions, and when I get home i fire up the Podnova client, sync the OPML file into my Itunes and I have all the podcasts i require.

But, the downside to the Podnova client is , that it also tries to be its own podcatcher and offers you the ability to also DOWNLOAD all the podcasts you subscribed to. That is nice if you don’t have a podcatcher of your own.. but as with much software that is not fantastically developed, it doesn’t do it very well.

So in all i’m pretty pleased with Podnova. The way I use it everyday is to add and remove podcast subscriptions (if i hear about a great podcast, or get fed up with one while listening to it in the car) and about once every week i’ll sync up the OPML list. The other functionality is that I can “listen ahead” to podcasts (or podio book episod
es like 7th Son) even if i don’t have them on my Ipod. But one of the coolest functions is the snipped function. The RSS feed filled up with all kinds of stuff that you mig
ht find interesting.

What would make it perfect : Quite frankly it would be awesome to be able to sync your ipod using the podnova web interface. That way you could “charge up” on content where-ever you are. Might be a nice idea for the developers over there.

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I am going Dark.

The screen in front of me is a plain black slate with bright green letters popping into existence as i run my fingers along the keyboard. My mouse sits aimlessly besides my computer and the gigantic touch pad of the Macbook pro sobs gently as it has been deprived of strokes and taps for too long. My digital experience takes me through an ocean of utter simplicity as toolbars, pop ups, right clicks, tabs and what have you just do not exist in this realm. This epihany of simplicity that lets me focus on converting my thoughts to the web.. is called the command line. Instead of burning through processer cycles or bandwith blocks using higly advanced web 2.0 tools.. I’m just using a simple text editor. It is quite ironic, that in a time where our communications grid is lighting up like a virtual Christmas tree, where multitasking, social-web interaction, Virtual machines, Multiple desktops and tabbed browsing rule.. I grasp back to the total and utter simplicity of computing.. Using tools compatible with a 386 computer.

The one awesome power this approach has is that it gives me solitude. It gives me the peace to focus, to sit down and to type out my thoughts without interruptions. I’ve been finding it harder and harder in these hectic days to find my own "mare Tranquilatis" (sea of tranquility) where i can slow down and let my creative urges take over. The reason for that is not only the hectic lifestyle I (and many among us) live, but also the overflow of well … "overflow". What I mean by that is that, being part of a digital community, one CONSTANTLY gets bombarded with new information. RSS feeds, Chatrooms, email, pop-ups, tweets, Facebook messages ..

Connecting myself up to the net and "plugging in" to my digital grid is great (that is, for the most part, where I live online) yet upon doing so it seems that my attention span AND productivity are shredded into a million little pieces. With a busy daytime job and some "projects" for friends ( read : please mr Knightwise, Fix my computer) its hard enough to find the time to sit down behind the sceen and do some "creative stuff". Whenever I "plug in" the flow of information and interaction just overwhelms me. I see a massive shift in the way I compute when I compare it to a few years ago. It used to be about gathering as much information as possible, communicating as effeciently as possible. being as "digital as you could be" . But that has changed.

Because there is just too much out there. You’ve all been there, squandering an entire evening behind your computer away without having the feigntest idea of "what you did". Having your attention (and your time) divided up into a million little pieces (website here, chatwindow there, rss feed over there etc) It results in spending hours online, your attention divided between 20 different conversations and following up links in Tweets. There are plenty of distractions to keep you entertained.

How about the digital attention shredder nr1 : Twitter. Links, conversations, replies,  a slew of unfocused information that nags and gnaws at your curiousity and sends you of clicking and surfing away in 50 different directions. Where twitter can sometimes be a nice source of information, it mostly is a slew of nonsence and half-conversations as you can only see replies of people you follow. Facebook is kinda the same deal. Never mind the stupid games, how about those pesky pictures of your friends that send you snooping through their lives ? Without noticing you spend a few minutes flipping through the digital photobook of some user.. and then the next "update" of one of your friends comes in .. and it starts all over again.

And then i’m not even counting the IM clients that ping and pong. The conversation in the chatroom you are trying to follow, your RSS reader stating that you have 193898 unread headers to get through.. Whoever gets even the slightest sliver of blogging or writing done in THIS mayhem must also be capable  to build a house of cards during an earthquake.

And i’m only talking about the constant "attention distortion effect" that some of these services result in. The other annoying (and more destructive factor) of things like Twitter and Facebook is what i call "content deflation". Say you have something to say, or you have a rant, or a good link. Usually i would jump behind my word processor and write up a nice post. Why bother.. you can just post a "micro blogging" post on twitter, or blab about it on Facebook. The "good idea" you have for an article is instantly killed of because "tweeting" about is just too darn easy and quick. Your "incentive" to blog gets deflated and buried under the 4000 layers of information that come next. Blogging in this day and age can be compared to writing a book in a busy train station. A train station where everybody passing by is talking to you, bringing you idea"s and asking you "whats up ? ".. Good luck with chapter one JK ROwling !

So i’m trying to work out a schedule where I give mysellf the time (and the tools) to "go dark" and focus on what I want to say. Not only for the blogging part, but also for my other digital activities. Using the command line ( logging into my Linux server over SSH) has been a lot of help. Having one application open per "screen" instead of several windows at the same time, helps me focus on what i’m doing. The clutter free interface is great for sitting down and writing an email without being distracted by "whatever is on the next tab".

I know what you are going to say: "Focus is about dicipline." And that is true. But this "fragmentation" of both attention and inspiration is something that is a result of the ever growing flow of information. And we have to find a way to deal with this. When I look at my "analog" social life (or meatspace) I see that I have sufficiently "firewalled" my interaction-flows to give me some hind of a private life. (turning off my cellphone etc etc). So it is obvious I should do the same for the (ever growing) digital part of my life.

The time has come where we need to find the ZEN in our digital life where we "go dark" and focus on whatever WE want to do. Write a post ,create a podcast, read an article .. Its all about teaching yoursellf to focus on the task at hand AND letting technology help you to achieve this. Is going back to the command line a step back ? Is typing up a blogpost in a text editor that is based on a 20 year old program a form of regression ? I don’t know. But .. you’re reading this post .. So it means it worked :

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