I have been pondering a while now on how I was going to write up this blogpost, thinking about the title, the lead-in, the postcard, the body and the takeaway (These are copywriting terms BTW) but in the end I decided to ditch the whole idea and just write this one off the cuff.
Truth is, I’ve been crazy busy lately. Having my own company, giving talks, subcontracting as a freelance Project manager AND moving house has left me with very little time to do anything remotely interesting in the geek world. That in itself is sad, seeing how much fun I had doing stuff like the Knightwise.com podcast and website over the years.
It has been SO busy that I even started sliding into “norm” land. You know, Norms, those folks who watch daytime tv and consume mass media. When instead of browsing through some obscure SubReddit devoted to cyborg bunnies, I was aimlessly scrolling through mainstream crap like 9gag, Facebook and some celebrity’s Instagram feed. What has become of me ? ?
So I gathered up my imaginary friends (Neo from the Matrix, The ghost of Optimus Prime and a couple of dead Jedi masters) to host a virtual intervention. A moment in time where I told myself: Enough is enough. I urgently need to get my geek back! I need to read books which are insanely niche or unknown to the general public. I need to watch Youtube channels instead of Netflix enjoying smart content from brilliant people who live in tiny apartments across the world. I need to listen to ted talks in a way other people listen to pop songs AND I need to ramble my thoughts online, on my personal blog.
Yes! Blog, you know, that thing we thought up back in 2004 where everyone with a keyboard a screen a teakettle and an internet connection could write his or their thoughts online. Over the last years my “blogging” has more and more fallen into the pre-shaped constrictions of copywriting because “it reads well”. If you realy geek down to it, the main purpose of a blog is not only to be read, it is also the fact of writing it. Expressing your thoughts with the world at large without having to make it “commercially viable” because .. its geek .. right ?
Case in point: Couple of weeks ago I managed to clump together a stupid Youtube screencast on how I had installed Ubuntu 18.04 on my XPS 13 and what applications I was using. 48 hours later the silly little video was hitting 20 000 views and brimming with comments. Wow! Where did that come from ? Turns out I still have some Knightwise mojo in me after all. Now we must be careful with this because the lure of fame (if you can call it that) is never far away. Before you know it you start looking for topics that appeal to a greater mass, and in doing so start to “dumb down” your geeky video into some shallow commercial youtube-countdown video that says “Top 5 things to do after installing Ubuntu”. Not my thing, not at all.
Where I a going with this insane ramble is that, as a Geek its OK to hang out at the fringes. Obscure knowledge, technical documents, falling asleep while listening to the sounds of a numbers station you found on Vimeo… the weirder it gets the better I like it. So I will ditch the rules of commercial writing for a while and just shoot straight from the hip and try to share with you what geeky finds I came across while cowering the fringes. Because we do live on the edge of real and cyberspace .. do we not ?
1 > 0
It’s the title of a very impressive YouTube video made by Gary Vaynerchuk in which he presents you with a verbal weapon of mass destruction against any form of procrastination whatsoever. In short it breaks down to “whatever you do, it’s better then doing nothing;” and “only by doing small things do you get to the big thing.”
It has been kind of my mantra in the last couple of months. In a time of my life where I’m trying to make heads or tails of the many simultaneous “program threads” that I seem to have running in my mind. Running my own company has drastically changed my life over the last two years. It has been both a successful outlet for my creativity (I give talks about IT to entrepreneurs, which are basically stand-up versions of podcasts with slides) and work full-time as a consultant with my main client. Aside from that there are various “side projects” running around with smaller clients that require my attention. The overall result? My creative energy has been scattered across many channels and the knightwise.com website has been pushed to the wayside a little.
But aside from you guys not getting your daily dose of geekery, I have also started to loose touch with the most important part of Knightwise.com: its community. That crazy bunch of geeks across the world that I can call my friends. And for that I am truly truly sorry. Because your friendships and your support are the one thing that make Knightwise.com worth doing. So this week (after some soul searching and a long talk with both kdmurray and our resident photog Konrad) I think it is time to pick up the geek gauntlet and get cracking.
Whenever you think you are lost, just backtrack to the last waypoint that looks familiar. It’s a handy trick for not losing your way in the woods or in the 340th level of some Dungeons & Dragons game. I kinda got “lost” as a geek. Not really knowing what to do with my geeky energy any more. The blog has gone by the wayside and so have many of my geeky projects. Instead I have degenerated (yes !) into scrolling Facebook, watching TV shows and scrolling 9gag! My God, I’m almost mainstream!
One of the things that I have been listening to in the car (I do long drives to work again) have been episodes of the Daily Source Code. The ORIGINAL show that got me into podcasting way back in 2004. For those kids who are oblivious: It was a show hosted by former MTV VJ Adam Curry and marks the very beginning of what we call podcasting today. What it perfectly communicates is the raw energy that ensues when you give a geek a mic and let him talk to the world without any rules or regulations.
One of my favorite episodes (and the very first where the name “Knightwise” is mentioned in a podcast) is where Adam pops on a lapel mike and leisurely takes us on a drive to the local mall to have a coffee and check his emails. Back in the day this was called ‘a sound-seeing tour’. Today’s podcasts are mostly scripted, have a steady ‘form factor’ and sound more like satellite radio than satellite radio, but back in those days it was different.
The most important lesson that I learned from re-listening to those old shows is that the most boring, dull and mundane things might be the most fascinating to share. One of the reasons I haven’t blogged for a while is because I thought I had nothing to share. Turns out there are things that i’m working on (as small as they may seem) that might be of some importance to the listeners. Hopping back to 1>0: ANY content is better then NO content at all.
So I’m gonna turn back the clock a little to 2004 (and before) and try to share simple geeky things with you that happen in my life. The fact I got a new monitor, a little app I found to listen to audiobooks in the car, a link to a nice Star Trek fan series on YouTube and so forth. Some of it might be utterly uninteresting to you, so you can just skip it. At least its better then total radio silence. But hey… one IS greater then zero.
Last weekend I bought a Chromebook. A somewhat controversial device that sits between a laptop and a thin client. A laptop that hardly cost me 249 euro’s and is basically an network card with a screen. A device that is almost useless without an internet connection. And I challenged myself : Could I survive on the Chromebook alone… for a week ? Here is my Day to day rapport.
The second day : Out to the races.
Monday morning marked the end of the honeymoon weekend with my Chromebook. Sitting at home on the couch, playing around and getting to know the machine… it was fun ! But now its time for the serious work. Since I was going to survive on the Chromebook alone for a week, this meant that the Chromebook was going to be a major part of my workflow. Aside from being a cross-platform internet blogger-podcaster-superstar I’m also a freelance IT Consultant. So taking along the Chromebook meant that it was going to have to earn its keep.
That and we had several things on the To-Do list that needed to be done : A blogpost for Knightwise.com, Checking emails, Updating some online job-profile sites, a conference call and a visit to a client. Just some of the things we needed to do.
Writing the Blogpost.
The days of Dreamweaver are far behind me. Both blogs I write for are WordPress blogs so I didn’t think the Chromebook was going to give me any trouble connecting to the web interfaces. Before I just “surfed over” I did check out a couple of Chrome Apps/Extentions in the store that were WordPress related but .. to no avail. Most of the apps/extentions (very confusing) were mostly just shortcuts to the WordPress backend page. No offline love there. No matter, I never write my blogposts in WordPress directly anyway. “Writebox for chrome” is a great app that lets you punch out simple text files in a clutter free environment. Available offline I lets me write up a Blogpost that gets synced over to my Google Drive. You can play with the colors (I went for green letters on a black background) and felt like Doogie Houser writing his dairy. To add some comfort I propped up the Chromebook on a notebook riser and plugged in my external Logitech keyboard. Thing works like a charm. Write blogpost, copy over to wordpress, publish. Ding ! Chromebook wins.
Before I left for my client I needed to take a long a couple of multimedia files to show them. How was I going to connect to my NAS ? One of the great things about owning a Synology Nas is that it comes with a pretty powerful web interface. This allowed me to select and download the files I wanted to the Chromebooks (tiny) harddrive. Chromebook Wins.
Arriving at the client I was unsure that I could connect to their wireless guest network which gave me some trouble the last time when hooking up my Macbook Pro. The Chromebook connected ok and it was great to have this simple ‘instant on’ experience while waiting for the meeting to start. Just like whipping out your phone and checking Facebook, you whip out your Chromebook, open it up and start surfing. No boot times .. no restore. However : During the meeting I suddenly noticed that I had forgotten ONE FILE at home on my server. How was I going to get to it ? VPN ? The Chromebook DOES have the option to use VPN but not all protocols are supported. Luckily I was able to pull a copy off the file from Dropbox and all was good. The HDMI connector on the back allowed me to connect to the big TV in the meeting room and the “Subtitle Videoplayer app” was up for the job. The sound was a little tiny .. but my client was impressed with the tricks my little 249 euro machine could do.
When I got back home it was time do do some more work. One of the tasks that needed to be done was to print out our Christmas cards. Printing with the Chromebook is pretty easy for me since I have our home printer setup as a network connected “Cloud printer’ allowing me to print documents from any Chrome browser.
Printing 2 copies of our Christmas card on ONE page proved to be beyond what Google Print (and the Chromebook) can do. Its a functionality that is not supported : Fail for the Chromebook. I had to do this from my Mac.
The rest of the day went off without a hitch.
Doing Emails, Visiting websites, downloading and forwarding attachments and even hosting a Google Hangout was easy. I was getting impressed by the little machine AND the fact that most of my workflows don’t need some expensive device to get stuff done. At 9Pm (!) the little machine beeped to remind me that its battery was running low. I had been working away on it all day long .. and still it had some juice to spare.
So can you take your Chromebook to work ?
The question if the Chromebook is right for you (and suitable for work) is not a matter of what the Chromebook can or can not do. Its a matter of how your workflows are organised. If you can get stuff done in a browser .. there is hardly anything the Chromebook cant pull off (its just a browser in a box) The device is nice, cheap and simple and buying a Chromebook is easy. But tweaking your workflows to be device independent is what makes you a Cross Platform Jedi Master.
Together with some great community content from viewer Cyberpunk Librarian who is showing us “How he uses cross platform technology at work” we also have a guesthost for this weeks videoblog.
- Find Cyberpunk Librarian at …
- bibliosophs.com | qcfriends.
- Music by Incompetech.com
We pick up the weekly video blog tradition at Knightwise.com to give you a peek behind the scenes of whats going down. I talk about the new google hangout client and how I accidently connected 62 ‘wiseguys’ from over the world AND how YOU can contribute to the Knightwise.com community. We also ask you whether or not you want these episodes in the mediafeed or on just on the blog. In short : It’s time for your feedback people.