Movie week : Movies every geek should see (4 of 5) : The internets own boy.

The one thing that has upset the previous generations the most in the modern digital age, is that sometimes a 12 year old kid could come along and be better at something then everybody else. No matter if you had a Harvard degree, or 20 years of experience .. Sometimes some kid came along and did stuff that made your jaw drop. This was the case with Aaron Swartz , a bright kid who founded Reddit. Aaron was an exceptionally gifted person with his own views on freedom of information. This often clashed with a surrounding world that was not quite ready for his pioneering vision. Unfortunately Aaron is no longer with us .. and the sad story why this the case can be discovered in the full documentary below. A “must-watch” !

 

Related Posts

Docuwiki : Take notes everywhere … seriously … every-where !

Greetings blog readers!  It is I, Matt, the stay-at-home g33kdad in Northern California.  I am writing today to discuss a topic that has been much on my mind lately and that is “note taking”.  I know, Y A W N, right?  Who cares?  You open a google doc, you jot some stuff down… or maybe I used a MS word doc for that… where did I save that again… is it in Evernote… oh, here’s some paper, i’ll just write it down… but, then I’ll just have to type it up later… and what if I want to work on it at my mom’s house…and if it’s stored on some company’s server somewhere, what kind of privacy is there… nevermind, I’ll just play xbox.

So, in the spirit of T. S. Eliot who wrote that immature poets copy while mature poets steal, I steal this from Allison Sheridan of the Nosillacast Podcast, “What is the problem to be solved?”

The problem, as I see it, is keeping track of information digitally (whether or not the information started out digital).  Now, unless you have been living under a rock for the recent past, you probably have an opinion on “cloud” services and computing. There are many different services available.  The ubiquitous choice seems to be Evernote. Evernote is a service that allows you to store your notes on an internet accessible server.  This gives you access to them from anywhere you have an internet connection.  There are apps for all the major mobile platforms and for most desktop operating systems. This is a very full-featured service and very powerful, as well.

Another option is to use Google Docs or another hosted word processor. This is a great option because the interface is similar to MS Word or other word processing programs and most of the formatting options you would have on the desktop are available in your web browser.

While these are good options, they have some flaws. They require a third-party to host your notes.  Having someone else handle the server maintenance and software is great, but you have to deal with privacy concerns.  You also have to deal with connectivity to that service. What if you have an internet outage or you find yourself somewhere without wifi. (Do you go places without wifi?) How do you add, edit, or read notes? Also, some services may not be designed for robust note-taking.

When it comes to third-party, cloud services, my personal feelings are these: 1. Any technology can be used to make my life better. 2. Any technology I don’t own or control can be used to make my life worse.  So I have to make a choice. Do I want the convenience of a service designed to meet the need? Do I want to keep all my notes in plain text on my personal computer? Is there another choice?

I have decided that a wiki is a very flexible platform for what I want to do.  In case you don’t know, a wiki (see: http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/wiki) is a web-based platform for colabrative documents. Anybody who has a user account on a wiki can edit the content, their edits are tracked, and they are available to the public or to other users of the wiki, depending on the configuration.  Wikis have a simple formatting syntax that is easy to learn and use.  Wikis are also designed to store digital information. Links and rich-text and even multimedia can be stored and accessed through a wiki.

dokuwiki-part2-shot2

There are some caveats to this.  Wiki software is a web app that runs (in most cases) on a webserver. So you need to have access to a webserver to utilize a wiki. This can be a shared hosting account, a vps, or a small server in your home. The requirements are minimal. In some cases, wikis can be complicated to set up.

So, what do I do? I use a package called DokuWiki. DokuWiki is related to MediaWiki which is the software that powers one of the most famous wikis in the world, wikipedia.org.  It is a powerful package and works great for note-taking. There are many plugins available to change the syntax, provide for different content types and many other extensions. I have installed it on my home server and use it most every day for my needs. But there was a slight hiccup.  I still needed internet access to make notes.  Not a big deal when I’m on my home network, but even with dynamic DNS, I won’t have access if I can’t get to the internet.  Then, I discovered the “killer app”. There is a plugin called sync (http://www.dokuwiki.org/plugin:sync). This plugin uses XMLRPC to sync content between two dokuwiki installs. It can sync individual pages, whole namespaces (like folders or sub-directories), or even entire wiki instances.  Now, I run linux on my laptop and it was a 5 minute process to start a full LAMP stack on my daily driver. (a full LAMP stack is not necessary, lighttpd with php and SQLight is sufficient) I simply installed a local instance of DokuWiki and set up the sync profile to sync with my home server instance.  Now, if I’m out somewhere with no internet access, I can still access my wiki via “localhost”.  Then, when I get home or to a location with wifi, I run the sync and I have a backup of my notes! Excellent.

I have just scratched the surface of the possibilities of using DokuWiki for online note-taking. There are so many other uses for a wiki and I know that DokuWiki is so easy to deploy, I will be using it again.

Thanks for taking the time to read this article.  More to come! 

You can find more of Matt online at  @sahgeekdad on twitter or via  g33kdad.thestrangeland.net

Related Posts

Point the Way Home: DDNS with Linode

Guest Blogger: Keith Murray

Earlier this year I switched my web hosting from my long-time account at DreamHost to a fancy new VPS at Linode. I really did enjoy my time with DreamHost, but what I wanted out of my hosting provider had changed somewhat. I was looking for full control of a machine in the cloud. Although DreamHost does offer a VPS option, the pricing options just didn’t compare with what Linode was offering.

I also took the opportunity to move my domain registrations over to Hover, but more on that another time.

With my Linode account managing the DNS for my domains I was able to point a a single subdomain back at the IP of my home network, effectively giving me a nice publicly accessible domain from within my network. This worked well until my ISP changed the IP address I had. Admittedly this doesn’t happen often, but it always seems to occur when I actually need to make use of this remote connection, and with no knowledge of my new public DHCP address it’s pretty useless.

Enter DDNS.

With some modifications to a script I found on GitHub I was able to quckly set up job to check my public IP address and update the DNS records at Linode using the Linode API. I hacked apart the original script and put together my own DDNS update script, suitable for automating.

By scheduling the script to run using a simple crontab entry I can rest assured that every night, while I’m asleep, my server will be connecting to Linode to point the way home.


Keith Murray is a software architect and developer who blogs about technology and science at kdmurray.net. He can also be found on twitter as kdmurray.

Related Posts

“Geek nostalgia with bulletin board systems” by @mcvries

At the age of 17 I owned my first real personal computer. A 8086 XT Pc. It had a whopping 20 MB hard disk and a “color” screen. Monochrome “amber”, the referred to as the only color the screen could display. Booting took minutes, installing software took tweaking and knowledge, and all in all it was new, exciting and fun. And it was beige, of course. Back then … everything was beige.

One day, rumors started drifting my way :  Other students told me about BBS’ s, mysterious computer systems hiding behind a telephone number. Managed by ‘SysOp’s’, another kind of super computer human who ‘controlled the system’. Most of them were underground and mysterious, some of them were a professional service. Some of them might have been pirates on a ship in the middle of the Caribian .. or maybe not.

I was intrigued. Intrigue turned to marvel, marvel to desire.  A Modem had to be bought, installed and put to dear use. And so a journey began. With a modem installed the previous day, a terminal client on a floppy and a telephone number scribbled on a piece of paper I came home and sat down on my throne. Somewhat nervous I started the application and configured a new ‘Remote Host’. The telephone number of “De Digitale Stad” (The Digital City) in Amsterdam was entered and squeaking and whining a connection was made. “De Digitale stad” was connected to “The Internet” and therefor I became empowered with “The E-Mail” (Exclamation Mark to be inserted while reading this.) To actually use e-mail I had to use mutt, a text based email client. And after probing and prodding, I composed the first e-mail in my life.

After pondering and correcting, contemplating I came up with the body : “Test” (Poetry, pure and simple !). Lovely,  but  to whom should I sent it ? The only email address I knew was my own. Well,it was just as good as any ! (I was an interesting person to talk to..so why not ? )  The brand new address was carefully typed in the correct field and the “ctrl <s>” was pressed.  ZOOMM …  my first digital message began it’s way into cyberspace. (Pause a second … or two ) And there it arrived back to me ! Well that was quick! Marvelous new technology ! I yet had to learn that the message probably never even left the server, but the excitement of it all, the possibilities at my finger tips! I could e-mail with someone across the ocean! At no extra cost. Huzzah ! 

Since I didn’t really knew anybody across the pond and my curiosity wasn’t utterly fulfilled with the services on “De Digitale Stad”. And so  I searched for some other BBS’s and found them. Lists with telephone numbers were exchanged again during school hours, with notes on how good and worthwhile they were. Connecting through a telephone line at 2400 baud gets you about 240 characters per second if I recall, and that was exactly what you got: Characters. In full color, where available.

 And boy , those menu’s were filled with options: downloading .JPG’s, downloading .mod’s (the Camemans MP3), and chatting with other user(s). The  plural of “User” only applied if the sysop had more than one landline. This was however rarely the case on any of the BBS’s I visited. 

And of course there was the magical ability for ‘uploading’. Uploading to get credits, credits to allow downloading. What I downloaded I uploaded somewhere else to gain even more credits! Meanwhile, through the messaging boards I got to know people, learned about computers, learned how to set up a BBS myself and after a while people called into my system. Dropping files, typing messages, submitting stories, manuals, hacks and books. We were “surfing” at the cutting edge of technology!

But in a world which is always connected, offering enough bandwidth to stream HD movies and connect to thousands of online friends those systems were sure to fade away. Or were they?

Well, if you would start a telnet session to towel.blinkenlights.nl you will see an ascii version of starwars. Telnet to miku.acm.uiuc.edu and you will see Nyancat which is all nice, but telnet to xanadubbs.ca (open a shell and just type : “telnet xanadubbs.ca”) and you will end up in a secluded world, a singularity in CyberSpace, a BBS. Not searchable, but menu driven and ancient to the touch, it will be a journey back in time.

At quadrilion times the speed “we had back in the day..”. And rest asured :  there are many more like it. No longer through a modem, no longer at a bitrate a professional typist could  defeat with one hand, but the “feel” is as authentic as it ever was.

Hosting a BBS  yourself ought to be do-able, just have a look at lunduke’s post here Hmmm, I just might start one myself and when I do, I’ll scribble the address on a note here.

 If you want to get a feel of how it really was, go to the Internet Archive here and watch the documentary. Make sure to keep an acoustic 300 baud modem in mind when the gazillion of bytes you need so much to be transformed in a HD movie take a bit longer to arrive at your enormous hard disk, than you would like. You live in a future we couldn’t foresee back then. Enjoy it.

@mcvries

Related Posts

kw408 : Cross platform IP-TV with WEEPEE.TV

We close of the year (and season 4 of Knightwise.com) with the video coverage we shot at the “Softlaunch” event of Belgians first ‘Internet only’ TV-Content provider : Weepee.tv. You Cable-Cutters can watch and learn what it is, how to get it, how it works and what other geeks might think of it. Will this be the death of classic television for geeks or just a fab ? Find out in KW408.

Shownotes.

Weepee.tv 

Related Posts

This is why the internet should never be censored.

You hear a lot online about net neutrality and governments who try to “protect” their citizens from the dangers of the world wide web. From the great firewall of China to the corporate IT control freak who wants to whitelist ‘his’ part of the internet. The world is filled with people who try to impose their view of what is wrong or right. Here is what I have to say about those who try to regulate what we see :” DON’T ! ”  Yes, the internet is a crazy place without borders, and YES there are creepy guys out there trying to do all kinds of strange stuff… But its also a fun place, a wild unpredictable place where , under the banner of anonymity  we can expose our soul , our strangest cravings and our weirdest creativity. But more importantly .. the free and wild internet lets us connect with other humans on a fundamental level. In the blink of an eye we can share a moment, and experience with a total stranger. Behind the veil of anonymity and far away from the social clutter that is called Facebook .. We find the one thing we share in common with EVERY stranger on the internet. The fact that we are both human and can share the most primal emotions. Watch the video below and watch the reactions on all those faces. It takes a minute to get furiously angry at someone .. It takes only a second to share a common smile.    And I DARE YOU … try not to smile while watching the video … If you do ? Then you’re human after all 😉 

Related Posts

kw401 : 'Using Ifthisthenthat to automate your Cyberlife'

We kick off season 4 with a great tutorial podcast on how to let the internet work for you. A deep dive into the functionalities of ‘If This Then That’ enlightens you how to tie all of your social platforms together and through automation, have cyberspace work for you.

Shownotes

Related Posts

Blackout during Globalgeek Podcast Recording.

Yesterday morning was your average sunday morning at casa del Knightwise. As we where enjoying daylight savings time an extra hour of sleep for some was turned into an extra hour of lounge for us. Childish as it may be , my wife and I love hanging out in front of the tv/computer on a sunday morning , watching cartoons like sponguebob and some silly american sitcoms. This of course would not be geek enough where it not that while i was having breakfeast/nickelodeon I was also browsing through the shownotes of the global geek podcast that we where going to record that same day. 

hackSo at 10'ish the homework was done and my good friend Dave Gray calls in to do some chitchat / soundcheck just before we start recording the show. Mind you : Dave is on the other side of the planet ( Near Brisbane Australia) and recording the whole podcast over skype in the two hour window we set up in our busy lives, is not always easy.  But no problems where expected. Or so we thought.

 3 2 1 …. Dave intro's the show and the recording starts. My wife turns to hushpuppy mode not to make any disturbing background noises and gives me a wink as Dave and I start to talk about the first topic.  Its all fine and dandy unti suddenly … no more Dave. I find myself finishing of a topic, waiting for a reply .. and hearing nothing. A quick check shows me : No Dave on line anymore ! I seldom swear out loud .. but this is seldom 🙂 Darn ! Where did Dave go.

Bless the power of the internet , i fire up my skype list , dig up daves personal cellphone number and call him up (thanx to rediculesly low skype costs a call to the other side of the planet is concidered peanuts.) but I get his voicemail. All kind of scenario's go through my head. What the frack is going on : No Skype , No cellphone , No internet connection over there apparently … Has a giant meteor struck Australia ?

But then suddenly I get a request to add a familiar name to my Skype list : James Gray (Dave's brother who joined us as a guest on the previous show). Extatic with adrenaline we try calling eachother right away , each getting a busy tone. But after syncin out who's the boss we manage to setup a call. Enter "Ell Dirty Hack".

 It seems that Daves house has fallen of the powergrid and in panic he wanted to call ME on my cell. Where is Knightwise's number .. Dave fretts .. On the computer .. is the reply. So the only option he had left was calling James using his cellphone. James puts the call on the speakerphone of his landline phone and calls ME on skype. And that way me and Dave get to communicate.  The difference in audio quality is hilarious (not to mention the time delay and the occasional translations having to be made by the 'airbridge operator James) It sounds like Dave is on the moon , James is sitting next to me and I literally feel on the oposite  side of the globe. But as creative as geeks get , we mananged to get it working. 

Thus I get the luminous idea of recording this hilarious skitt . I hit skype recorder and bash together some impromptu show. The whole thing is saved as an MP3 and sent of to our personal FTP server. Since Dave is going to be off line later (the time difference is NINE HOURS) I relay the login and password to James who tries to get them over to his brother.  Redundancy is king so I send both the login credentials AND the file via Email to Dave's place aswell.

Needless to say .. We had a great laugh .. The show we planned for this week is, of course, toast .. but the little skit we recorded is priceless. What did amaze me was the flexibility and the SPEED the all of us had in setting up alternate means of communications and getting things sorted to get in touch with eachoter and getting the necessary recources from one harddisk on the northern hemisphere to another one on the southern one. The smoothness, swiftness and creativeness we use when 'operating' the internet amazes even me sometimes.

You can read Dave's side of the story HERE.

Related Posts

Google buys Youtube .. And even the real world looks up.

It was the most funny thing yesterday morning. I was (as usual) listening to my daily dose of podcasts on my way to work, podcasts about technology and the latest news on the edge of real and cyberspace and beyond. At about seven AM I turned my Ipod off for a minute to tune into the regular news on the radio ( yep , i'm THAT kind of information junkie ). Since we had regional elections last sunday my interest was a little tickled just to know what some of these lame ass parties had come up with in order to work together , run the local towns and not loose face.  Then suddenly I heard something very odd. It even made me check the play button on my Ipod, just to be sure I was not tuned into another podcast. But no : Clear as day, at seven AM in the (mainstream) headline news  they announced Google had just bought You-tube.

 Now rumors where flying around all over the cyber-place about the business model of Youtube, the Future of Youtube and about the lame sod who was going to BUY Youtube someday. Even in the latest edition of the Global Geek Podcast , talk was cheap and speculation was high about this very issue.  But I never thought an event in Cyberspace would hit the mainstream news like that. A small smile of surprise crept along my face as I heard the crunching boot of cyberspace advance yet another pace in the world of the average off-line John. 

Untill a few years ago (i'm talking "95, "96) the internet was this obscure thing for geeks. These days everybody has an email address, every product features his or their website on the package and most people have an internet connection. Although it is still the case that those with their finger on the cyberpulse are a minute few in contrast to the big dumb mass, one cannot help but revel at the phenomenon how the digital world is slowly but surely seeping into the dry desert of the real world. 

Just to let the boys at Google know what they bought and what it's for .. I want to give you this little video.

 
This wonderfull little flick was part of a cabaret show Here is the original scene and shows the true power of You-tube. Take some good content , let loose the creative geeks of the globe to make something completely different out of it and then give them a medium to post it on. 

 

Related Posts

America's next top model.

 I hate TV, any form of mainstream digital entertainment that involves none time-shifting entertainment and is pre-chewed for the masses is sure to send me reeling for my laptop or otherwise nukes me to level 5 of the coma scale. Especially reality tv is extremely unnerving. But since there is only room for either my laptop OR my tv dinner , sometimes I get caught in the crossfire and have to watch an entire episode of this crap while having lunch. So enter "America's Next Top Model" where 12 arrogant good-for-nothings get selected to walk and jump around for none other then catwalk washup number one : Tira Banks. With molecular precision we are introduced to the world of the beginning model and the challenges it brings. Like for example : Living together. The daunting task of having to share a luxury apartment, (jacuzzi and all included) with other people is quite hard (so we learn)… Oh my .. model X touched the mascara of model Y, Model Z said that model A was fat , Model A said that model Z said that model U said model X doesn't know her alphabet. In short : There is more gossip going on then in an old Basic program.

 

modelBut there are more challenges to come. Riding the bus to get to a photoshoot is extremely difficult. In includes reading timetables and .. god forbid : Watching the clock. That means time lost commuting and not shopping. And of course : The hardest challenge for any model : Simply showing up on time for work … Oh my .. The horror !   And once they get there they have to " Work it " (that means: put one foot in front of the other when traversing the catwalk .. veeeerrry hard !I) Or they get other taks like ' Show us your Bonestructure'' and .. " More P-zazz honey' . Meanwhile this infamous cesspool of entertainment revolves around Tyra Banks fading career like spacedust encircles a black hole. Incredible ! I swear some of these girls are so shallow an fly could not even drown in the pools of their minds. And all along this stupid contest they get voted of one by one ( I personally think that the losers should work in a refugee camp in Soudan for two weeks straight , cleaning toilets ) because they constantly tell us (along with miss Banks) its "'soooo haaaard" being a model. If it indeed is , you would be cut out for a job at the camp in Soudan.. Here is your plane ticket ..  But the worst is … The voting of ceremony. The girls that stay have to walk up to Tira where she hands them some kind of token or picture ( to get the message across the dirty blond hair into the hollow head) and Tira sais : "Congratulations, you're still in the running to becoming america's next top model" .. Now that would not annoy me if she just said it ONCE .. NOOOOO …  The malicious model has to say it EVERY time to EVERY girl. Either SHE is autistic or I'm having problems with my short term memory. I think its the latter. People spontaneously   have a brain hemorrhage after watching 20 minutes of this .. disease of a TV show.

But .. here comes the internet to save us all. With graphic cards getting stronger and stronger, CGI machines going into near infinite resolutions , the days of the model are OVER .  Instead of having to work with the likes of Tira and here America's Top Model goons with all their flimsyness : Break out the Digital Model. She can BE however you want , WEAR whatever you want .. Work IT like YOU want it to. And perhaps she is shallow .. but thats OK. as long as she fits on an DVD. Look HERE for the fullsize picture and astound yoursellf that THIS IS  a computer generated image.  Congratulations.. you are still in the running to become America's next Digital model.

 

Related Posts