For two decades the era of “Linux on the Desktop” has been just around the corner. This week Knightwise takes us through a discussion of how he’s using Linux to drive some tasks for work, and how the pandemic-driven changes of 2020 might have helped push more Linux to the forefront.
Podcasting has always been a way for those who don’t otherwise have a platform, to get out and share what’s on their mind, share their knowledge and experiences, and do it without having to buy your own small-town radio station. This week Knightwise takes us on another walk through the Belgian countryside to tell you why you should record your own podcast.
This week on the podcast Knightwise takes on the topic of retro computing. Whether virtualized or involving the resurrection of old hardware here are some ideas to put some older tech to use for you in 2021.
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 🙂
With the death of Rutger Hauer yesterday, I was reminded of the great work this Dutch actor has done over the years. One of the movies that of course springs to mind immediately with me (and all fellow geeks around me) must be “Blade Runner”. A majestic movie from director Ridley Scott that is an absolute must-see if you have one molecule of Geek Dna in your body.
What makes the movie so fantastic aside from the great cinematography is of course the music. The soundtrack written and composed by Vangelis is probably one of the most memorable and awe -inspiring elements of the movie. If you take away all the actors and even the storyline of Blade Runner (Which is based on the underwhelming novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep) and you would be left with JUST the music and the shots of the scenery? It would STILL be a good movie.
Vangelis as a composer has done some amazing things: Ranging from the epic soundtrack of BladeRunner to popular tracks like “Chariots of Fire” and writing the soundtrack to not one but two space missions. (Mithodea and Rosetta). Both fantastic albums.
Created as a soundtrack for the instructional tapes for a surgeon
But I like to dig around for the obscure, so in my quest for some “lesser known” material I found “The Tegos Tapes” A great collection of previously unreleased material. Created as a soundtrack for the instructional tapes for a surgeon (Yes, Good old Vangelis did not shy away from the occasional Schnabble) they have not been released as an album but do contain some amazing tracks. I’ll let you in on track number 1 for you to enjoy.
It’s not a unique concept, and it certainly isn’t something I arrived at first, but over the past year or so I’ve been working on making more out of what I have, and making sure I use things more completely. The phrase I’ve thrown about is one that I have appropriated from CGP Grey and Myke Hurley on Cortex, and that is “The Year of Less.” My take has been a bit different, so let’s talk about that and see if you think there’s any benefit to this strategy for you.
In our highly technical world it’s very easy to get caught up in the unending march towards faster, better, and more. It’s enticing. It’s exciting. There’s always a new and shiny thing on the horizon. Computers and electronics have always driven this kind of change and adoption. Phones have made this an order of magnitude more prevalent.
My original goal had less to do with some desire to “do more with less” and more to take care of clutter that had been accumulating in my life. There was a seemingly unending pile of “stuff” that had been purchased for one reason or another but never really got much use. Some electronics, some household items, but it’s the same general issue.
The epiphany came during this cleanup process. As I was going through the “stuff” I began to realize how little of it I actually needed. Many of the items I had could do double or triple duty if I used them a bit differently which would allow for many other things to be gifted, donated or disposed of. This was the ‘monkey touch the monolith’ moment for me: I had too many unitaskers. Too many oft ignored specialist tools that were mostly taking up space.
There are cultures in this world that are very good at making full use of the animals they raise for food. While some people may find it strange or off-putting to eat chicken feet, ox tail or pig ears, there are other places that use the whole animal. Making full use of every last thing on the beast. To do any less would be to disrespect the pig, or the cow, or the chicken. Use everything but the oink. Why should our technology be any different?
As long as my stuff is working I don’t need to get the new shiny. Phones should last more than a year (or two). Computers should last more than a few years — I’m hoping to get at least 6 out of mine. It was time to stop accumulating and using the things I have more completely. Time to get more out of what I had. So I’ve eliminated the “stuff” replaced one computer, and have reduced by a full 1/3 the number of IP-addressable devices in my home.
I’m not trying to change the world, just make my own a bit more efficient and a lot less cluttered.