The return of the penguin.

Working from home used to be a novelty: Something new, something different. Gone were the commutes or waiting for paint to dry while stuck in traffic, we could rule the world from our home office. It was all still just temporary .. right ? Fast forward a couple of months and in month number 9 of the telework-marathon, things started to sink in: Our home office is no longer a temporary office, its going to be our ‘primary’ office.

And that “primary office” also houses a “primary workstation”. That one workhorse that you use 8+ hours a day to get your own geek on or to connect to the cloud services of the client. What I started to notice was that that machine no longer HAD to run Windows. We all know that by now our “Browser” is an operating system, so it doesn’t really matter WHAT you run under the hood, or do you?

Linux does have some perks Windows just doesn’t have

Turns out it does, aside from running 10+ tabs in 2 different browsers, I do wanted my machine to do something extra. Chat a little on IRC, mount and ssh share on a remote server, do some Rsync. Something Linux could do in a jiffy, Windows could … not.

So for fun (and to mix things up a little in this very boring lockdown) I treated challenged myself to “run the show” from a Linux machine for a day .. and it actually worked out pretty fine.

Aside from never having to wear pants, we can also run any OS we want.

The combination of working remotely for the client (99% cloud based systems) and having my own company’s systems being cross-platform friendly means that a 2009 iMac with an SSD drive running Ubuntu can be my daily driver should I want to. So aside from the fact we never have to wear pants to work again, we can now also run just about any OS we want.

9+ year old Mac Mini ? Shove in an SSD, some extra Ram, Boot some Linux on it and take it to work

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Messing with Macs.

A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to pick up a couple of old Macs from a friend. I’ve been collecting some retro machines over the last couple of months, tinkering with them to relax from the long days of lockdown home working. One of the items on wish list was a a bondi-blue G3 Powermac. The iconic tower with the milky semi-transparent casing and pretty blue/green front. Except for misplaced nostalgia, there was no real good reason to preserve it as a working machine (I have a couple of G4”s running OS9 and OSX) so I did the unspeakable: I gutted it.

Hoist is pretty impressed with his cleanup of the whole rig.

A screwdriver, a couple of pliers and some pent-up frustration from the workweek was all I needed to turn rip out the insides of the machine, until I had but an empty shell left. Some more tinkering and I had even removed the plastic handles and sidepanels that I unceremoniously dumped into the dishwasher for a good clean. A couple of hours later I had a beautiful (empty) G3 tower.

But to use it only for decorative purposes would be a waste of space. I looked at the corner of my desk where a switch and a couple of raspberry Pi’s had been forming a tangle of cables that looked like a pool of barf from the flying spaghetti monster. So, I arranged everything nicely into the old case and closed it up.

Grapple is far from impressed with Hoist’s shoddy work.

The end result of my “trojan horse” is a happy spouse (no more clutter) + a decorative machine that now houses about 5 times the processing power (even more I think) then it used to by the addition of a couple of pi’s. Whenever I add another one of my favourite single board computers to my collection, it too will find a home inside this classic enclosure.

Re-use, Re-Cycle, Re-Vive.

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The golden forest: Testing out the Drone.

As kind of a geek-midlife-crisis gift I decided to buy myself a DJI Mavic Mini II for the holidays to reboot my creative exploits and get out of the house a little more. After some shaky backyard tryouts I decided to give the little flying bugger a decent maiden flight. I hiked out into the morning dawn to the nearby forest called “Het Wijngaerdbos”. Situated on the sloping hills at the edge of the town the forest got its name from the vineyards (Wijngaarden) that it housed back in the 18th century. As most places near where I live, it has a rich and mysterious history. Enjoy as I spin up the props and take you on a 2 minute tour.

https://youtu.be/CD1Hu9xbuUI

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A bit like Bullock: How life is a little like the movie “The Net”.

Computer that asks if you want to online.

You might be a middle-aged digital dinosaur if you still remember this movie but, back in 1995 “The Net” (Starring Sandra Bullock) was a bit of a hit movie depicting a digital recluse coder who gets her identity stolen and actually has to go outside … to get it back.

The movie raised a lot of chuckles in the theatre as it depicted the daily life of Angela Bennet. Working from home fulltime she hardly leaves the house and orders everything online. From pizza to groceries and from software to styling products (just check out that hair). She communicates online with her clients who have never met her in real life and don’t know what she looks like. It was an exaggerated depiction of a lifestyle that would, despite the modern day possibilities of the internet, never become mainstream .. right ?

Flash forward a quarter of a century.

Flash forward a quarter of a century and look around. After day 300 of “working from home” I finish up my umpteenth videoconference with a team that I have never ever met in person. Unlike in “The Net” I do know what they look like but only as far down as their bellybuttons. The chime of my video doorbell rings and delivery guy number 3 of the day drops off another package. Via the Ring app on my phone I instruct him to just leave it on the doorstep. I wait to open the door until he drives off. I have truly mastered the art of consumption-without-human-contact.

Most of the conversations I have (aside from those with my dog and my spouse) are also with computers. I ask Google for the weather, tell Siri to play Retrowave music in the bathroom and try to convince Alexa to disclose the the actual age of Jennifer Connelly. The Netflix computer algorithm suggests I should watch some Spanish sitcom tonight and at about 10pm my Smartwatch tells me I should go to bed if I want to be rested tomorrow morning.

I’m worse than Bullock.

Looking back at my day, I’m not “like” Bullock in the net .. I’m even worse. The combination of the technology at hand and the current Covid Crisis has decreased the “face to face” human interactions significantly. We mail-order everything online, communicate digitally instead of face to face and are (almost) perfectly happy with the convenience. Sure, right now its because pandemic is sweeping the globe, and sneezing within a five yard radius from other people is considered extremely rude .. But still… Will things ever go back to “normal”?

This probably isn’t normal.

The answer is: Probably not. Even the biggest internet-hater has now tasted the sweet nectar of home delivery and thanks to working from home, none of us will ever need to wear pants again (maybe thats a bit strong). But I hope we don’t forget the value of human interaction. Buying something else because they are “out of stock” at the store helps you discover new products. Waiting in line at the restaurant gives you the opportunity to meet new people. Convenience is one thing, but I hope we all are social animals at some point. So when all of this covid stuff is over I thrive to go outside, shop “realtime”, meet people face to face and do all the inefficient “analogue” stuff that doesn’t take place behind a screen. If only so nobody can steal my identity 🙂

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KW1507 Tablets through time.

After ten years have past since the launch of the famous iPad tablet we take a look back through history and ask ourselves: Is the tablet ready to serve as a replacement for our desktop? We rant about the pro’s and cons of android vs IOS and how Microsoft came close to the holy grail. Topped of with some fancy tunes from ScannTec its another show from the Knightwise.com bunker.

LINKS

DISCORD

The action is happening over at our Discord server: Join by clicking this link

CREDITS

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KW1506 Lockdown Lifestyle part 2

In the second part of “Lockdown Lifestyle” we focus on filtering the information coming your way via Social Media and being aware of the “reality distortion field”. We train you to help tech organize your day and talk about the goals you want to set for yourself.

LINKS

DISCORD

The action is happening over at our Discord server: Join by clicking this link

CREDITS

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KW1505 – Lockdown Lifestyle Part 1

We are back (from the dead?) with a new show talking about the impact of “working from home” during the lockdown. In part 1 of a two-part episode we talk about how to use technology to enhance your digital (and analogue) lifestyle during the lockdown. How do you use tech to separate Work/Life/Play and stay sane during crazy times.

[Lockdown Lifestyle part 2]

LINKS

DISCORD

The action is happening over at our Discord server: Join by clicking this link

CREDITS

  • Mix & Production: Knightwise
  • Music: Italo Brutalo – Avion [Youtube]

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Getting the band back together.

Its been a while since I blogged. Hell, its been a while since I did anything of great importance for Knightwise.com. And for that i want to apologize. I could blame the usual scapegoat of not having enough time, and in part that is true. But only in part. The other half was a lack of effort that stemmed from a single thought: Why bother ?

Pretty harsh words because at the source of that thought lies that once thing I was lacking. That sole thing podcasters and content creators crave whenever they put something out on the interwebs: Feedback. The lack of steady shows coming out and the “dispersion” of the community over multiple Social Media platforms (The die-hards on Telegram, some on Facebook, hardly any on Twitter and none on the blog) did make podcasting feel like shouting into the void. That taxes your motivation, decreases your show output and .. fewer shows, less feedback etc.

With the Covid19 crisis breaking out across the globe that changed. Suddenly I had a more “stable” workroutine (I work from home full time now) and many of the die-hard wiseguys were online during my office hours. That sparked some contacts, conversation and .. some ideas.

It was Wiseguy (lets call the core team that) Regravity that came up with Discord. True enough, producer KDMurray had already suggested it a while ago but as an alternative to Telegram it never “went” anywhere. That was until we started talking about the “open mic” voicechat hotline the guys over at HPR have. As the digital version of a 90’s partyline you can “call in” to their mumble server and chat. Kind of like “office banter” but you aren’t at work and they are not your colleagues.

We tried it out together with Konrad, Gerjon, KD and Regravity and pretty soon we were having a cosy chat. Of course.. give a podcaster a microphone and he has a stage, so pretty soon the idea bubbled up, why not DO a show this way? Recordbot Craig was added to the list, everyone dusted off his USB microphone and we set a time in my busy schedule to actually record a show.

The result was great! Having multiple hosts in the room bantering over a subject gave me back the feelings I had back in the days of the Global Geek Podcast, a sense of camaraderie and sharing the (chat)room with a people who are a lot smarter then I was, enriching the show.

Slowly but surely we started experimenting with other functionalities of the platform. After (accidently) broadcasting the sounds of our living room while having diner and watching ‘Friends’ the idea popped up: What if we could use this as place not only for recording, but also for broadcasting? So this sunday we gave it a try and did a (closed) livestream of a DJ set for the community. Channels were added where you can share what you are watching, what you are reading and more. The sense of “community” started to grow.

Before I tell you about todays monumental apex, I want to say WHY I start to love Discord as opposed to Facebook and other Social Media. ONE: its pure geek. As a pumped up spiced up version of IRC, it gives us a LOT of sharing and collaboration abilities, while still staying true to the roots of a classic “chatroom” where you are represented by your Avatar and your handle and NOT by who you ‘actually’ are. You can come in and show us your geek side, and nothing else. Its chaotic, its technical, its fun. I can (finally) ditch my ‘real’ name and embrace the Knightwise persona once again.

However, while hanging out today we decided that it was time to embrace discord in full by trying to get as many members on board from the community as we could. I started pumping out Facebook PM’s, shared posts on the Facebook Community and started trolling long forgotten ‘follow’ lists on twitter with one message: We are rebooting the community, come to Discord. In a few hours time something amazing happened. Like a scene from a movie where the different retired members walk in one by one to once again form a fantastic rock band, they came. Dave, Herne, Thorgal, Peter… voices and friends from long gone walked in and .. started to chat.

I want to say something that might sound cheesy, but I think I had a moment of pure joy seeing everybody walk in that way. It was amazing to see a community coming back together and exchanging banter and quips. It made me realize that the one thing what was keeping me from doing shows was not an audience or feedback, it was a community!

I remember @moonenmoonen’s wise words years ago: It’s not about the SIZE of your community/listeners, its about the interaction you have with them. And its great to see everybody coming together again on a platform where we can pull in their knowledge and interactions and put them into a show with hardly any effort. Its like .. technology working for us instead of the other way around.

You can find our Discord at: https://discord.gg/w3ZG9WM

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KW1405 – Merging Your Operating Systems

Sliding from operating system to operating system is always cool, but the borders between the different OS’es sometimes make things hard. What if we took those away? We show you how using Virtualbox to merge your machine’s, your applications and your files using Virtualbox.

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Going Paperless.

Paperless.

I have a superpower. (Aside from being a sexy geek that is) and that superpower is that whenever I write down a piece of essentially important information on a piece of paper, that slip of bleached wood pulp gets transported to a parallel universe and is never seen again. I have lost countless phone numbers, ideas, concepts, plans and memo’s by writing them down. However, ask me to pull up a piece of digital information (no matter how trivial) from 12 years and 2 days ago? Chances are that I’ll have it for you in under 10 minutes.

So the logical decision for me is of course to go paperless. I have been reading Ebooks for years now and I very very rarely handle a paper book (Because It might not be available digitally). And with writing it’s the same thing. Give me a stylus and let’s go completely paperless. So what do I write on?

Writing on the iPad

I got myself a 5th generation iPad just to be able to have a very compact and light divide to write on. Instead of going for the rather large (and clunky) Apple 1st generation Stylus, I went for the Logitec Crayon. A rechargeable stylus that was designed for the educational department. It handles better then the Apple Pencil but i’ve had some issues with battery life that I need to figure out. The apps I use on the iPad mini are OneNote for taking handwritten notes and Notability for doodling. Annotating Pdf’s is done in the PDF Expert app. The upside of the Ipad Mini is of course the size (its extremely handy to carry around) but that is also its downside. The downside on the Mini is that you don’t have a lot of space to run apps side by side. Having a youtube video open while simultaneously taking notes does cramp your space.

Writing on the Surface Go


The “other” device I write on is my Surface Go. This smaller and lighter 10 inch “cousin” of the Surface Pro line is an excellent little laptop in its own right. The smaller form factor makes it a lot more “natural” to write on then its bigger Pro cousins. Having done annotations and writing on a Surface pro 4 with their 12 inch screen I can say that 2 inches makes a lot of difference. (2 inches SMALLER in this case ladies).

The upside with the Surface Go is that you of course have a “complete pc” with you. The keyboard cover is expensive but extremely handy and does not get in the way of things when you flip it back to start writing. Just like with the iPad you can split your screen and run apps side by side. Book on one end, notepaper on the other. But it is not always practical. The palm rejection acts up when you accidentally touch the ‘other application” with the palm of your hand while writing. The fact that when you are writing in landscape mode also does not help for ergonomics. The Surface go is slightly thicker than the iPad Mini (and a lot thicker) and that also gets in the way.

Flip the Surface Go into landscape mode and it’s a whole new ballgame. The screen is now almost the exact size of an A4 sheet of paper and when you put your note taking app into fullscreen mode it makes for a nice writing experience. The applications I use for Doodling here are “Bamboo Paper” (Because instead of the standard and expensive Microsoft Pen I went for the Bamboo Ink pen) OneNote for writing and Edge for annotating PDF’s.

So what do I write on ?

Which device I pick up generally depends on my mood and on what I want to do. When doing a meeting with a client I find that the iPad mini works great. It’s small enough to carry around and aside from taking notes during the meeting I also use it to walk around, take pictures of their infrastructure and write up some annotations on those. When I want to study from a book I sit down with the Surface GO. Using the Text-to-speech function in Edge I can have the book read out loud to me while taking notes. I’ll put the Surface Go in landscape mode, Open the ePub in Edge, press “play” and the put OneNote fullscreen to write and scribble my way through.

The Picard manoeuvre

But sometimes one tablet is not enough and I go for “The Picard Manoeuvre”. Inspired by the desk of this Starship Captain that was occasionally riddled with tablets, I too go for a multi-tablet approach. The output device (displaying the content I want to examine, a book, video or what have you) might be my Kindle or even a laptop. My annotation device can be the iPad or even the Surface go. The best combo I’ve tried so far when studying from a book is using my Kindle to read and my iPad mini to write on. The end result is a small and light combo I can shove just about anywhere.

Writing 2.0

In the end going Paperless has given me a lot of advantages. I have my notes with me anywhere, can change the order of pages, I can add pictures and even sound files and even put in some typed up text, screenshots, quotes and so forth. It has become so bad that I have a hard time working with “regular” paper because it lacks that functionality. The only downside with my approach is that writing on a screen is not the same as writing on paper. This takes some getting used to and does mess up your handwriting (although i’m not sure this is because of the device or the fact that my handwriting was never that great). I’m not sure.

But gone are the days where I ‘lost’ notes, annotations and the formula for warp drive. (I had it, I swear). Now .. I just “Write 2.0”.

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