kw804 : The Cross Platform Startup.

What does it take to start up a company ?  What does it take to make that company cross platform compatible ? What hardware do you choose , what software do you choose ? What services do you go for ? What are the challenges, the easy bits and where does it all make you want to pull your hair out  ? We answer those questions in this weeks podcast as we take a deep dive into the technology we selected and used to start up our own IT Consultancy company. Listen up ! You might learn something 🙂 

Shownotes.

 

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kw803 : Girls Gone Geek

Its time to be Mr Journalist and cover Acer’s launch event for their Liquid E3 smartphone in Brussels and take some interesting interviews. We talk to two different sides from the girl-geek spectrum and interview Sunny, a ‘beauty blogger’ who just got her first smartphone and Mee Hyang, one of the members of the ‘Brussels Girl Geek Dinner’ who has been around the tech block a couple of years.  Both ladies give us their vision on technology and the “Girl vs Gadget” ratio in their lives. As an added bonus we talk to Lars Christensen, the Acer Product manager about some of the cool new functionalities Acer will be supporting in their smartphone and ask him the pesky question : ‘What is a PC going to look like in 3 years’.  Enjoy KW803.

Shownotes.

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Guestblogger week : The Geek-Ocd Silver Bullet.

This week it’s guestblogger week on Knightwise.com where our community members step up and share their hacks tips and tweaks for cross platform geeks. We kick of the week with digital maven Gerard Moonen (Communication specialist, webdesigner and all round nice guy) telling us how he deals with Geek-OCD : Our tendency to waste away hours and hours to solve a technical problem. His answer is simple short .. and brilliant.

“The geek OCD silver bullet”

Use a timebox! That’s what I thought when I read Knightwise’s blogpost on Geek OCD. In the past I always did the same as knightwise. When I encountered a problem I just kept on pounding it until it got solved. Afters hours of trial and error or days of cranking gears in my head… nothing felt more satisfying when I finally found the needle in the haystack.
download

But is it effective? Nope…Not at all. I found out that when I timebox a problem it gets solved more quickly and thus more effective. I trained myself to recognize the OCD moment when I encounter a problem. I hit a timer on my smartphone and give myself a timebox of 15 minutes. If I can’t solve it within the given time I will put the problem aside. Don’t get me wrong here… Putting it aside is very hard to do. At least for me it is.

But what I learned the hard way is that when I put the problem aside my brain still keeps working on a solution. I’ll continue on other tasks and jobs and totally “forget” about my “problem”… Until I go to the gym or go for a nice long walk with my dogs… and out of the blue my brain presents me with a possible solution. This always works for me. I hope it works for you!

Links : Gerard can be found online at MoonenMoonen.nl

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Geek-OCD. The urge to solve it all.

It was going to be a nice weekend. With the soft winter weather making room for clear skies and long walks in rolling fields, the last thing I had expected was to be stuck at home behind a computer. Some kind of work emergency ?  A horribly addictive game ? A burst of inspiration that triggered me to finish my book ? No .. none of the above. The one and only reason that kept me from enjoying some time away from my screen was : Geek-OCD.

laptop-love

The culprit in this case consisted of an issue with the wireless connection on my Linux Laptop. After installation of my new home router, the wireless connection problems on my favorite linux laptop escalated to a point that it was no longer usable. There is, for a geek like me, nothing more frustrating then buying a superfast router on a superfast internet connection .. Only to realize your superfast laptop is crawling along the intertubes slower then a snail with a morphine overdose. Quickly checking other machines on the network turned up that the issue was located solely on this one machine. And since this thing worked properly when I connected it via the cable .. It had to be a wireless issue.  An odd problem indeed. It had never done this with my previous router and there were no other devices on my network that showed the same problem. 

I started sliding down the slippery slope of Geek-OCD. The compulsory need to get to the root of any technological problem that comes across our path. The mental inability to say “Frack this, I don’t know what is going on here” and move on.  I had to know the root cause .. I just HAD to. Deep diving into the technicalities I started analyzing the wireless network traffic in my house using specialized tools. “Sniffing” my way through every single data packet that passed at light speed from my router to my Laptop I quickly found that something was wrong.  Strange errors like TCP-retransmissions, Ack packages and connections that were “out of sync” turned out to be the culprit of why it took forever to open up the www.ilovecarebears.com site. Each unknown error code led to a google search that led to tons of answers who in turn pointed to pages and pages of text on forums. The issue was slowly turning into one of these endless google rabbit holes that consume hours of your time, only to increase the sense that you have absolutely no clue what you are on about.

Reading through the 11th page on the forum of the 4th link in my 5th search attempt , I stopped myself.  STOP ! I had followed several sets of instructions that might lead to salvation.  I had pasted in commands in the terminal , flipped switches and checkboxes. I had rebooted, patched and botched things up .. I had reached the end of both my patience and my tether. And I still had not gotten any closer to a solution.

I decided to break one of my cardinal rules : I’ll just reinstall the system. The trigger of this drastic decision came from a second but equally powerful kind of Geek-Ocd. “You cannot keep on working with a botched up system”. Unclear of the damage caused by my tinkering, I decided that that machine just  “didn’t feel right” anymore. I could no longer vouch for its integrity and it somehow didn’t ‘feel’ right anymore (+ my problem wasn’t fixed) so I decided to reinstall the system, a clear system of my second geek-OCD : every system has to work perfectly.

4 hours (and 4 versions of linux) later .. I watched the winter sun set on the western skyline and found that I had blown away an entire afternoon without getting anything done.  The cause of my problem not found, my working system in shambles and still a long way to go before my fresh installation would be tweaked to my specifications. Because that is yet another Geek-OCD quirk I have, Every system needs to have all the right software and settings before I start using it…. In short : Geek-OCD ate my weekend.

 

Epiloge.

The next Monday after this tech intensive weekend a friendly geek in a Linux Irc chatroom pointed out that “oh, you have a common problem. It has to do with a driver issue , just disable setting X and you’ll be fine”. I resisted the urge to scream and just rested my head between my hands. I had once again become the victim of my own Geek-Ocd. The urge to find the root of every problem, to never work with a “compromised” system and to only be satisfied with a perfectly personalized install of your own computer. Back in my windows days this meant that I spent more time maintaining my systems then I did using them. These days, thanx to the macs in my house, that is no longer the case. Yet linux, stable and reliable as it is, still has the power to push me into Geek-OCD relapse from time to time.

In the end we should take the time to realize that technology needs to work for us, instead of the other way around. And that solutions that require more effort then the results they produce … are probably not the smartest way to spend your Sunday afternoon. However : The one thing you do get out of all this is knowledge. The knowledge and experience on how to tackle a technical issue like this, Expertise on the deeper darker side of technology behind the issue that you have … But maybe most importantly : The knowledge not to throw away a sunny afternoon on a problem that you could have fixed with 2 clicks, the next Monday morning.

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Get your geek on and join us at F.A.C.T.S. : Belgians answer to ComicCon.

If one percent of your DNA is “Geek” and you live in the Benelux area, there is only one thing you can do next Saturday : Immerse yourself in your true geekdom and join us as we do our annual coverage of the F.A.C.T.S. event in Ghent. Next weekend the Expo halls in Ghent will be the “event horizon” for everybody who is into Scifi, Cosplay, Anime, Cartoons and all things geek. As by annual tradition Knightwise.com will also be doing an extensive coverage of the event and you can join us.

We will be roaming the grounds next Saturday afternoon interviewing Cosplayers, Fans, Sellers of strange and desirable geek-toys and if we are lucky we MIGHT just catch one of the celebrities that is attending the event. Hit us up on Twitter ( @knightwise) if you are going and get a chance to shake hands with our crew in “realspace”.

2013-10-14 11_11_10-Dropbox - FACTS2013_print_flyer_HIGHRES.pdf

For more details you can visit the official F.A.C.T.S webpage to see what is going down, who is coming and how to get your hands on that inflatable life size doll of Lara Croft you have been craving for.  See you there ! 

Links.

The official F.A.C.T.S page

Our previous coverages of the F.A.C.T.S events.

 

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kw607 : Reviewing the Thule Gauntlet 13 inch Macbook pro and iPad attache Case.

We got a nice and juicy hardware review for you on one of our favourite topics : Laptop bags. We take a closer look at the 13 inch Macbook pro and iPad attache Case (what a mouthful) from Thule. We take a good and decent look at the appearance, style and finish of Thule’s carry-case for the Macbook pro .. but most importantly we answer the question no-one dares to ask : Is it waterproof ? All of that and more in this weeks Knightwise.com podcast.

Shownotes.

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What are your top 5 “must see” Geek Tv-shows.

“Its about these guys… that are just like you ! .. and they are FUNNY !!!” my “norm”* friend giggles as he waves his arms up and down frantically and points towards the television. Yes … he IS referring to “The Big Bang Theory” a show that has him very excited for he himself is only just dipping his toes into the great “pond of geek”.  Having installed his first Linux distribution and discovering the world of Irc and Google+ have been epic tasks that  have been entrusted upon him by his wise geek Overlord .. ME.   “He is ready” my inner voice says .. “to see the geek classics”. I try to hold back from opening the floodgates to our rich geek culture. Where movies like “The ghost in the machine” are a classic. Where everyone can dub the first lines from the movie “Dune” by heart. Where David Hasselhoff is a cult legend and where Serenity is considered a form of religion. 

So I am faced with the difficult choice of offering him his “Next Geek Tv show” to watch. So I go over my shortlist in random order.

  • Battlestar Galactica. (both the original and the revamped series.)
  • Star Trek. ( not really a ‘watch this’ assignment, rather a complete lifestyle makeover.)
  • Serenity. (One must know what a Browncoat is.)
  • Babylon 5. ( For all women, like centaury, should be bald somewhere.)
  • A dash of classic Dr Who featuring Tom Baker. (For one must know why ones girlfriend must knit a scarf.)
  • … and so many more.

So before I make my decision … What do YOU think are the TOP 5 geek shows ANY budding geek should watch ? Tell us in the comments section. 

* norm : Non-geek .. lamen .. Noob.

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Find focus by building your digital Zen-Zone.

After our home renovations I found myself forced to move my office to the attic of our house. It was time to tear down the carefully constructed nexus my digital lifestyle up one level. But it was also time to think things over on how I wanted stuff to be set up. Where my old desk was arranged in a C-shape, surrounding me with multiple monitors and computers, all available with a smooth swivel of my chair .. my new office was a “one line setup”, stretching out the entire length of the workspace in a single row. This meant it would be impossible to use the setup with just “one chair”, in essence creating more then one workspace. What now ?

“Comfort zone”.

I decided to do things differently this time. My multi-monitor-multi-media workstation with its 2 massive 24 inch displays, its mixers, its speakers and all the other gadgets would be sprawled onto one “desk” and .. I would leave the other desk completely empty. Instead of packing it with screens and keyboards, a little lamp, a wireless mouse and a collection of power and network cables was al that was visible on the workspace. This “second desk” is the one I want to use when the countless windows and digital clutter are getting out of hand. I just pop down here with whatever laptop I’m using (My Mac, My Linux machine, My work laptop) to get things done. I just sit down, hook up and focus on what I’m doing. Distractions are few because .. its just a cosy little corner .. opposed to a Nasa style multi-display supercluster.

“Zen Zone”

But just a “different spot” is not enough. One might still be bombarded by digital distractions like eMail, Social media and so forth. So I created a different user profile on my laptop (s) that I call the “Zen Zone” A profile that does not have IM or eMail clients configured. Just the bare minimum will suffice. Access to a browser, word processing apps, whatever I need to get stuff done .. but ONLY that. If I really wanted to I could remove the admin rights to this profile, change the proxy settings and make sure that my “Zen Zone” would be unable to access the internet unless I reboot. It might be tricky to do so when you work in the cloud a lot, but when you need to “get down and dirty” with something you need to get done .. this might help you with your self discipline. You need to “log out” and “log back in” to a different user if you want to go online. This will surely help in controlling your impulses to “quickly browse the web”.”

“Zen-ware”

Especially when it comes down to writing or being creative, having as few distractions as possible does help a lot. There are a number of applications that help you do this. Taking away all the bings bongs and chimes from the busy desktop interface and just giving you a plain interface.  Ommwriter ( Windows, Mac, Ios) or Focuswriter (Linux and Windows) are great ways to find a tranquil slate of screen to do your thing. Finding an online pomodoro timer might also help you keep your Cyber-ADD in check by giving you a focus-countdown timer with rewards when you completed a task.

In the end it comes down to a little self discipline and letting technology work for you instead of getting in your way .. to get stuff done. So : What are YOUR tips and tricks to stay focused and not goof off all the time ? Tell us in the comments section.

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kw601 : Storytime “Norms”

We kick off season 6 of the Knightwise.com podcast with a classic episode of “Storytime” where we take you down a good old fashioned rant about the “Average Hick” of the cyberspace community : “The Norms” If they are not buying the latest gear for no reason, they might be out trolling your Facebook feed. These 2 short stories will probably sound very familiar for any advanced geek. Add some cool music to the mix and welcome to season six of the Knightwise.com podcast.

Shownotes.

  • Intro
  • Music : Nordlight  
  • Pictures of the bookstore in Maastricht 
  • Story : Not the latest thing.
  • Music : Carbon based Lifeforms
  • Story : Welcome to wherever you are.
  • Outtro.

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What is to come in 2013 ?

Its that time of the year again. Where we sit down and look back over the last 356 days to try to make sense of the chaos that is is ‘Linear Time’. And it has been quite a memorable year, both personal and on the field of technology. A year where some had predicted that it would be the end of times and in many ways for some technologies .. it has been.

I think it is safe to say that the realm of the desktop is officially over and the period in our lives where we could quite clearly draw the lines between a computer, a phone, a tablet and a laptop, can safely be reserved for the history books. Watching the technological evolution this past year I have seen boundaries fall. I have seen the clear lines of segregation between personal data and cloud data fade away, watched tablets and laptops merge into one , seen privacy and personal data fade away . I have watched the number of emails in my inbox decline and have started talking to my phone. However the one fact that continues to amaze me is the death of the early adopter.

There used to be a time where I was part of the technological elite. The happy few that sported devices and services that where largely unknown to the general public. Where the specs of my hardware or the customisation of my software setups would be lightyears ahead of the general population of “norms”. That time has come to a close.

girl

Case in point was an event I went to a couple of days ago. My hairdresser is quite a geek. Their quaint little salon lies in a small town that can be considered the veritable ‘Anti Cupertino’ of Belgium. An ageing population, low level of schooling and beautiful rolling fields of orchards make this a beautiful area, but also a digital “blind spot” where adaptation of technology is something that moves at a slow pace. So when she decided to have a lottery event where every customer who spent at least 15 euro got a chance to win an iPad .. I frowned a little.

But the day came it was time to draw the winning ticket. In the evening she opened up her salon and invited everyone who had a ticket for the big raffle. I attended more as a curtesy and was very sceptical about the turnout ? Who would even show up ? This was a rural town , these was an ageing clientele.. they would not be interested in winning and iPad ?

3 hours later, when the raffle was over .. I had chewed, swallowed and digested those words. Over a 100 people turned up for the event on order to ‘win an iPad’. Many of them had come to the salon several times (and sent over their family members as well ) to collect as many raffle tickets as possible. I had spent the last 3 hours involved in a couple of high level tech conversations about where technology was taking us. How big were tablets going to be, the fall of the desktop era, the unification between mobile devices and computers, the falling fame of Apple, stagnation of innovation and patent wars. My audience (and very vocal counterparts) in these conversations ? Women between 35 and 65 years old. Born and raised in this very rural town with direct affiliation with the technology industry except that they where a consumer.

2 years ago this kind of conversation would have been impossible. It would have never dreamed of explaining the difference between ARM and Intel processors to a pensioner. I would have never expected that pensioner to reply with the question “Why don’t we use Arm processors everywhere”.
But somehow this evening was very real .. a sign of the times that the realm of the geeks has just hit the mainstream. I saw people sporting phones more advanced then mine. A housewife of 49 told me that ‘Since Steve Jobs died, Apple hasn’t been the same” and it wasn’t at CES .. it was at my hairdressers.

So with great curiosity I look towards 2013, where the age of ‘Consumerisation’ is going to go on and on. Where the fat underbelly of the “Norms” will ride upon the technological plains that used to be reserved for the Geeks and the early adopters. Sure, we are still ahead of the curve .. but not by much, and they are catching up … fast !

So let me close off with wishing you all the best in the upcoming year ! Wether you are an experienced geek or a budding ‘norm’ who has only dipped his toe into the great digital ocean of progress. We have interesting times ahead of us !

I wish you all .. a fantastic 2013.

* Norm : ‘Normal citizen with no tech job or interest”

Links : Kapsalon Hairdreams.

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