Free book/podcast : When sysadmins ruled the earth.

“Reading” : Aside from reading green text on a black terminal background of a remote SSH connections, most system administrators don’t do a lot of reading. Yet you should consider withdrawing from the screen and keyboard from time to time just to relax with a nice cup of tea and .. do some reading. But about what ? Vampires ? Wizards ? 50 shades of greyscale ? Most popular ‘books’ that line the bestseller que at the bookstores don’t appeal to us. So lets find something that does.

It has to be about something that interests us, something that is geeky and techie enough to keep your massive brains entertained, but also short and fast enough to outrun our ADD brain .. (oh look : Squirrels ! )

Cory Doctorow’s books have always checked those boxes. For those of you who have not read “Little Brother” and “Homeland” : You are missing out. 2 great books that SHOULD be fiction, but considering what the NSA is doing to day .. feel more like a reality soap. The books are free, you have no excuse but to download and read them. 

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Cory also regularly writes short stories like “When sysadmins ruled the earth” Exiting easy to read short stories about the oompa loompa”s who make the internet work !  You can download the stories individually over at Cory’s website (as a podcast if you are too lazy to read) or download them as a complete book in .ePub or .mobi format.  Its free .. there is no excuse …  Read … you fools ! 🙂

Download the separate chapters here.

Download the entire book as an ePub or mobi here.

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Control auto-starting applications on your Android device (or Android media center)

The MK802 is just one example of Android “hopping over” to more different kinds of devices then the phones and tablets it was designed for. In essence the MK802 is a little computer that comes with a couple of USB ports and an HDMI port so you can hook it up to any TV/Monitor and instantly turn that machine into a ‘smartscreen’. With devices like the MK802, you can easily turn your television into a media center using applications like PLEX or Boxee who let your Android ‘stick’ become your media front end.

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The only thing that is missing is that those applications should ‘start up’ automatically whenever your android device of choice boots. In order to make that work we found the free app called “Startup Manager” (how DO they come up with these original names). 

You can either tweak your Android device by removing applications that run on startup (nice way to clean out some branded cruft) OR add some auto starting applications of your own. (perfect for launching VLC, Boxee or Plex at bootup). 

Startup manager is free, does not require root and is available in the Android Marketplace.

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Podcast week : Free Photography lessons with Konrad and Bart.

Perhaps this Christmas you will receive the gift of a digital camera. Maybe its a point and shoot, maybe its a big DSLR camera with lots of buttons, dials, settings and configuration menus … on which you are absolutely clueless on how to correctly operate. If you want to join the herd of brainless mammals that only uses their super expensive Nikons or Canons on “Full auto” mode (while taking dramatic poses to shoot boring snapshots of their ugly spouses … ) so be it. But not if the two gentlemen below will have any say in it. Strap in for a podcast (and a website) to get you ready for the next pulitzer prize. 

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Let’s talk Photography podcast.

If he was not an Irish-Belgian living in what can only be described as the coldest, wettest place on the Northern hemisphere .. Bart Busschots would have been a brilliant addition to the Big Bang Theory cast. Unlike Sheldon he is not an antisocial condescending Texan with an IQ the size of the Belgian national debt .. He is a charming entertaining and brilliant person ( He has Belgian roots .. go figure) with an unfathomable knowledge about a wide variety of subjects. Whether those be astronomy (You can find a brilliant explanation of the Higgs Boson in a way your GRAN would get it) computer science (Check out the ‘taming the terminal’ series on the Nosillacast) OR photography. When faced with the choice of pouring this fantastic volume of knowledge in a podcast or just plain exploding, Bart has done the latter. The result : Another brand new budding podcast from the Brain of Busschots (We just refer to it as “The brain of B.”) teaching you how to become a better photographer. Subscribe, download, listen, learn.  (And practice your most annoying, condescending laugh next time you meet a dork who still has his expensive camera set to ‘Full Auto’).

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Konrad Makes Photos.

Stepping up into the realm of the professionals we encounter good friend of the show Konrad Dwojak. His recent move to the US have given him the time, the inspiration and the wisdom to finally start producing audio and video content on a regular basis. Its not technically a podcast yet, but you CAN find Konrad on OUR podcast from time to time too. Aside from Konrads excellent portfolio, the site also features great blogposts and videotips on photography for those who are novice or more advanced in photography. Something you should not miss out on. 

 

 

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kw705 : Reviewing the Samsung Galaxy Gear

Its Go-go-gadget review time again as we get our greedy little geek hands on the latest gadgets from Samsung. We do an in depth review of their new Phablet the “Note 3” and turn ourselves into Michael Knight (from Knightrider .. remember ?) as we slap on the worlds most advanced smart watch : The Galaxy Gear.

Shownotes

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CMD.FM : The geekiest way to stream high quality music for free.

I very frequently leave the house without having enough music in my pocket. As an avid podcast consumer who loves to listen to a broad range of podcasts about an even broader range of topics, tunes are quite rare on whatever mobile device i’m packing. But thanks to the wonders of streaming, a nice set of notes is never far away. This week listener Sharky suggested a very very geeky way to do just that. With streaming services like Pandora and Spotify abundant on the desktop of the average mouse jockey, its time to “set yourself apart” from the crowds. The ultimate way to do this is to use cmd.fm. Its a streaming music interface combined with something that resembles a chat room .. in a command line interface. All you need is a computer (duh) a browser and a sound card and you are good to go. In a command line interface you can choose from a variety of genres and listen to whatever tickles your fancy (from Punk Rock to Choir music). If you sign up for an account you can leave comments and “chat” with the other users while listening to the streams. Play, Pause, Genres, … All the commands are entered via the keyboard; We love the service because it has a high sound and content quality, because there are no (or almost no) adds and because its the geekiest way to stream music ever. 
 
 
 

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49 Euros for the Pyrus Mini ebook reader : Totally worth it.

Books : Some like the smell of paper, the sounds of gentle footfalls in the hushed silence of libraries, some like flipping though pages and the rustling sound of paper turning in  the night … I’m not one of those persons. To be honest : I’ve been reading digital books since the beginning of this century.  From devices as primitive as the Palm to my much beloved Sony PRS-505 I am proud to say that I only read about 2 paper books in the last 12 years. My latest device of choice on which I have devoured many a book was my iPad mini. ( I had ‘loaned’ my Sony eBook reader to my 86 year old gran .. and she’ll never ever give it back).  But where the iPad mini shines in the dark (its active screen is great for reading in the bedroom) it gleams in sunlight (its reflective glass is terrible for outside reading).  So with my holiday coming up and plenty of reading to do .. I thought I would try out something new.

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It was in fact Niejana who pointed out the Trekstor Pyrus Mini on our last visit to our favourite geek-friendly store in Aachen. Three  things immediately made me fall in love with the device : The size (It reminds me of my trusty Palm devices) The color and texture (It has this rubbery enclosure thats a dark blue) and its price : 49 euro’s !  I mean : What could go wrong for 49 euro’s ?  

The Pyrus has a 4.3 inch 800 by 600 Pixel E-Ink display. It has 2 gigabytes of onboard storage that you can extend by shoving in a micro SD card. There is no Wifi, Bluetooth or 3G connection. Just some buttons to navigate pages and adjust things like character size and the language of the interface.   In the end this device is horribly horribly simple .. and that is just brilliant !  The Micro Usb connector is used for charging and adding titles to the onboard memory and since the screen is pretty small .. the battery time will last you quite a while. It can read all popular formats (it does have a hard time with large PDF’s) but can not read .mobi (Epub is fine though).

But aside from the price, the one thing I love  more about this gadget is that its so small, thin and light that you can just slide it into your coat pocket and whip it out anywhere without having to bother with lids and casings and having enough room on the bus to read your book. At the size of a smartphone it might appear to small to read on, but the variable character sizing does make up for that. The screen has a very good contrast ratio and not a micron of ‘glare’.  

Sure its not as robust as some of the ebook readers out there, sure it does not have all of the functionality of a Kindle or a Fire .. But for 49 euro’s this is the “paperback novel cousin” to the “hardcover collection” ebook reader that you can find on the market today I’m NOT afraid to use it, loose it, break it or get mugged for it. It just lets me read my favourite collection of Justin Bierbers Fanfic .. anywhere.

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iterm2 : The best terminal replacement for the mac.

Sliding around from OS to OS and using the terminal as your ‘best friend’ makes for some interesting challenges. For one finding the answer to the question : ” What terminal do you use ? ” Most of you mouse jockeys might say ” Who cares ? A command line is a command line  ?” But it is not that simpel. Every “terminal application” gives you different ‘ways’ to interact with the terminal. From keyboard shortcuts to multi layout windows .. every terminal app is a little different.

On Linux one of the favorite apps I use is “TERMINATOR” (No, Not you Arnold) The reason being that it gives me one big window that I can devide up into smaller terminal windows. That way I can have multiple connections or applications open at the same time. 

On the Mac I found a great alterative that does not only offer that same functionality but also lets you tweak and tune your terminal application into a nice place to hang out.

iTerm2 lets you do all the things Terminator does and ads sassy looks to boot. You can customise color schemes, fonts, backgrounds and more, so you can make the terminal behave and look just the way you want it. Mountain Lions ‘FULLSCREEN’ function is actually useful for a change as it turns your iTerm window into a full screen “virtual desktop” that you can easily switch back and forth from in order to get stuff done.

iTerm2 is free and works on most versions of OSX. 

Download iTerm2 here.

Screenshot : My iTerm2 setup on the Mac. A nice Ubuntu wallpaper, light fonts, transparent background, running in fullscreen and connected to 2 of my virtual machines.

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Bittorent Sync brings cloudless cross platform file syncing.

If I have learned one thing over the last couple of weeks is that although all good things in life are free, free doesn’t always last forever. With the sudden demise of Google reader  (and the associated apocalypse for all of my fancy social-media-autoposting scripts) I’ve decided that my trust in ‘free cloud services’ is something that no longer comes by default. Lets face it : In any free online product that offers you a service without any visible revenue model, YOU are the product .. not the client. Its like that with Facebook, Google+, Gmail and so forth. You are in some form or another the “product” they brior whatever else they might think of : You make THEM money and THEY have no obligation whatsoever to keep the service (and your dng into the service in order to make money for their “Clients”. (Usually advertisers) If this is in the form of adds, your personal information ata/information/etc) available to you. Add to that that some of these services thread loosely around issues like “Privacy” and you need to start wondering : Would I not be better of doing this on my own.

One of these services that personally springs to mind is : Dropbox. Its free online storage offering us a cross platform solution for herding our files across multiple systems. But meanwhile that data also resides on “some server” “somewhere”. Equally tied into my workflows like “Google Reader” the loss of Dropbox would be a serious problem. Any alternatives ?  

Owncloud is a beautiful solution that gives you just that. Run your own owncloud server and have clients on most operating systems. Access your files, contacts and (private) calendars from anywhere. Free and open source it has the downside of being a little tech-intensive when you want to set it up. (You need an Apache server and there is some tinkering involved when it comes to securing your traffic).

BUT : Now there is Bittorrent Sync  and the setup is quite simple. You sync folders on your different machines using the power of Bittorrent. Yes the same protocol that rushes Linux ISO’s and illegal copies of pron dvd’s our way now helps us to get our files across.

HOW : Install the client on your different machines (all flavors of Linux, Windows and OSX are supported) and tell it what folder to sync. You will be offered a “secret password” that you will need to use when you ‘add’ a machine to your sync cloud and voila : there are your files.

No Cloud required : The good  ? : No cloud required : you sync files between YOUR machines without the need for cloud storage with a third party. I would recommend choosing a “master system” that is always online to make sure a recent copy of “everything” resides at least somewhere.  The bad  ? : This stuff is pretty new, so I would not recommend using it for personal or financial data until it “matures” a bit.

Free : What are you waiting for : Head on over to http://labs.bittorrent.com/experiments/sync.html  and give it a spin and TELL US what you thought of it in the comments section.

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Free satnav on your iPhone or Android device without a data connection.

I live in a part of Europe that is called the “Euregion” because I live at about 2 hours drive from three different countries. I go east for 20 minutes I end up in Holland. When I put the pedal to the metal for another 30 minutes I”m in Germany. When I go south for about 90 minutes .. I end up on Luxembourg  Its cool ! The downside is that when I go “beyond Belgian Borders” I run into very very expensive roaming charges for my data connection. So when trying to use my Android or Ios smartphone for my GPS navigation. Sure : I can use Google Maps in Belgium .. But if I would do so abroad , I would be better off buying a house wherever I get lost instead of finding my way back home on Google Maps.

Navfree GPS is available for IOS and Android and gives you the ability to download the maps of the Benelux area, but also Spain, the US and many other countries. Its free because it uses the open source alternative to the Google Maps called “OpenMaps”. Download the app of the country you need and watch as your wife/girlfriend/husband and your smartphone go head to head whether its left our right. (Because you also get Voice Navigation .. for FREE !)

Its open source, its free, its a GPS and it does not use an expensive data connection. If it was wrapped in Bacon I would probably eat it.

Download for IOS.

Download for Android. 

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The Sky is the limit with Skydrive and ‘office for free’.

You have heard us rave and rant about several “Office” alternatives on the Knightwise.com blog many, many times. To be honest, anything that could get us away from the highly OS-centered clusterf*ck that was called ‘Office’ was a good excuse for an article. We’ve taken you on journeys to the cloud and explore GoogleDocs, we have given you amazing alternatives like Openoffice and Libreoffice .. we have even herded you towards the command line to type out your contribution to this existential plain using a command line only application. Let’s face it  : Ever since that nosy paper clip told us like it “LOOKED” like we were writing a letter .. we have gone off the deep end. .

So to be consistent we are going to do something completely different today. We are going to chase you back into the cloud towards the plains of Redmont to get the most out of you free skydrive. Yes, that magical place in the cloud where you can store your favorite cartoons of Bill and Balmer dancing in pink tutu’s, that place where you store those “pie in the sky”-charts away from the wretched claws of your dying harddrive .. that place .. that you have hardly visited after opening up an account 6 months ago. However .. that is about to change because we are about to tell you some cool things you can do .. with your skydrive (aside from storing documents in the cloud .. of course) 

Create documents : The coolest feature that Microsoft would like you to not know about is that you can create and edit documents in your skydrive for free using the web based versions of Office.  This is a pretty spiffy alternative for those among you who don’t want to spend the 100 dollars a year on Microsofts new SUBSCRIPTION based model of office, but still won’t go that far as to use GoogleDocs or another product.

Share and collaborate with others : Just like Google Docs skydrive gives you the ability to work together with others as you are writing the next Twilight-killer novel. Because you still want a Social life you can use some granular security settings to define who you want to be able to access those documents.

Access files on your home computer : For this one your computer needs to be ON and needs to be a Windows machine running the skydrive client. You can log into the skydrive web interface and rummage around on your home harddrive without ever having to leave wherever you are at that very moment. (That IS the whole point of working remotely.)

So you ready to get started ? Get your skydrive account here and dive into this PCWORLD article on “Getting started with Skydrive” and embrace the power of clippy once more.

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