We are back with another weekly videoblog and fill you in on whats going down in the Knightwise.com sliders community. We drop a couple of big names on who is signing up for our “Avengers assemble” project where we are looking for guestbloggers, content creators and backend mavens. As a bonus we swivel the camera around and take a close look at the production desk and what kind of clutter we use to punch the show together.
Since we are doing some home renovation over at Casa del Knightwise for the moment, living space is at a premium. While our downstairs looks like its been raided by a group of angry drunken Constructicons, both @Niejana and I need to “flee” to my upstairs office to spend our evenings watching tv and doing stuff. The otherwise pristine (and organised) room is now packed with boxes, our tv, a couch, @Niejana’s desktop , 2 doggies and a cat. Needless to say : Space is scarce. That requirement comes at a convenient time, since I’ve just shrunk down my “Digital survival kit” to the size of a 12 inch messenger bag. Bigger is better ? Not always, let me show you.
What do I need : In order to digitally survive this era of grime and dust I need a mobile setup that allows me to do the three crucial things : Communicate , Consume media and compose content. An added “required factor” is that the setup has to be completely mobile and fit inside a bag that can be carried around ANYWHERE leisurely without yelling “This is a laptop bag, mug me now”
Bag : Finding the right bag is an art. Call me metro-sexual or just someone with a right balance between appreciating both practicality and esthetics : Finding the right bag is crucial. The trick is to find the sweet spot between ” Too small” Where you cannot get all the gear you want into the bag OR damadge your gear by cramming it in. Samsonite’s 12 inch horizontally slung messenger bag is ideal for this operation. It has all the compartments you need and comes with extra padding and a safety latch to keep whatever you need tucked in safely. With the “Horizontal” orientation the weight is distributed equally so the strap doesn’t wear into your shoulder. The extra “Handles” make it easy to grab and sling anywhere you need to while the whole formfactor is just big enough to encompass anything, but small enough to be casual and unobtrusive.
Laptop : My newly purchased 11.6 inch Macbook Air is a dream here. Dual booting into both Linux and OSX the device offers me the 2 platforms that I need in my daily routines. OSX for content production, Ubuntu for advance geek stuff. The 128 gig SSD might be small but with the addition of cloud storage AND using storage on my home server over SSH connections, disk space is not THAT important. The Air is delightfully light, well built and has a great screen. It lacks the “Hussle” of consiously ” getting out your laptop”. With the size of an A4 piece of paper (or an iPad) it just pops on the table, gets the job done and slides back in the bag when i’m done.
Phone : The pinnacle of communications here is my smartphone. The 16Gig iPhone 4 might not be the top of the line model, but it does preform the tasks it needs to do. With the Hootsuite and the Google+ app most of my social media channels are covered. I’m tied in to my multiple email and calendar accounts via the mail app. Aside from the music, Downcast takes care of my podcast subscriptions and the Webbased interface of Google Reader together with the Buffer and the WordPress app let me do most daily chores for the website. Crucial here is the presence of headphones (so I can “Zone Out” anywhere) and the “Hotspot” functionality turns it into a crucial component to “connect” the entire setup while on the road.
Tablet : The Google Nexus 7 proves to be invaluable when it comes to this “Compact but Crispy” setup. It’s 7 inch size and relatively long battery size help me get through the day with ease. Reading books, Doing my “communications” on a bigger screen and watching the downloaded Video Podcasts are just cut out for the Nexus. An extra “slide right in” protection sleeve and the vertical orientation of the tablet in the bag, make it great to “grab and check” your device in a tricorder style. The only downside is the smaller ‘diskspace’ (8 gig) and the absence of 3G. But the latter is easily overcome by using my iPhone as a hotspot.
Cables and chargers : The trick here is to have the smallest amount of cables with you, while still covering all the bases.
- Macbook air Charger (with just the plug connector, not the long cable)
- Apple iPhone/iPad cable : Used to charge the iPhone using the Macbooks usb port.
- Usb Microsim cable : Used to charge the Nexus (from the Macbooks usb port.)
- Usb charger : Small usb charging plug to wallcharge the iPhone / Nexus
- 16 gig Usb stick : Small and compact but packing 5 extra “Live” linux Cd’s to have any OS I want at my portable disposal.
- iPhone Tripod : A little tripod to make sure I can use my iPhone as a one man camera crew in a pinch.
- In the car : The trick of such a compact setup is to make sure you have some “extra’s” nearby. So in the car I have a small bag with a longer powercord, a Usb to Ethernet adapter, a network cable and an iPhone / iPad charger just in case.
I sometimes get the question what gear I use and how I have stuff set up at home. Thus it might be a good idea to post a pic of the “home office” as I have it setup today. Featuring 2 24 inch Dell displays hooked up to an I7 Mac Mini, an older 19 inch display hooked up to my Asus eee Linux box and the iPad as a “heads up display” screen for keeping track of it all. I should install one of these nifty programs to use one keyboard and mouse over both systems , but since the linux machine and the Mac are on two different subnets , that might not work so well.
A whole new deal.
Very soon we will see a culture shift, A change how people interact on the computer scene. My prophecy is nothing less then the end of the almost religious ‘ OS- Wars ‘. From newbie to web-lord, we have all played the paralympic game of ‘ what’s the better OS’ Wether in forums, in chatrooms, in endless slashdot threads or even in the comfort of our own pub : We’ve all been there. Wether Xp is better then 2000, Why Mac Os is better then Windows , and we’ll never forget the face of our local Linux Guru foaming at the mouth after he had to endure your proclamation that Windows ME was the best operating system ever written. ( And he never spoke to you again. ) But very soon the question “What’s your operating system” will be replaced by “ What’s your Primary Os ?”. Any computer with a processor speed over 1.5 gigahertz is quite frankly a waste of money. You don’t see a specific speed increase when you buy a 3 gigahertz or more . Ok , Windows will boot faster , but that does not mean YOU can work any faster. I mean , the processor is not the bottleneck of the system. The question is : What to do with all this extra operating system power … More eye-candy ? Perhaps Vista will be more then happy to gobble up a few million cycles just for Balmers personal pleasure. OR .. we can make the cycles pay off by jumping on the virtualisation train.
All aboard ?
What do you do when you have one OS running , but your computer can carry twice the load ? Well , lets install ANOTHER operating system. I’m not talking Dual Booting here, I’m talking Virtualisation. Running a second Os , INSIDE the first one. The “Base OS” is the main operating system you are running, The “ Guest OS is a virtual version of an operating system neatly compressed into one file.
I know what you are saying. But why “ma cher Knightwise” would i do this ? Here is why.
- Perfect testing : The virtual machine you installed is just ONE FILE. After you install it , make a backup and start fumbling around. Messed up the Guest OS ? Just drag your copy back and you are good to go. You can easily install all kinds of operating systems without having to worry about partitioning.- Space and energy saver : Who said you had to stop with running just one Guest OS . Instead of bricking up your bedroom with countless pc towers you can now have them running as virtual machines on one machine. Needless to say you save money by just owning one pc, you save power cause you only have one power supply to feed and save valuable bedroom time with your space because she doesn’t have to be mad at you all the time for junking up the house with your old ‘test machines”.
- Switchers trouble : I have seen people by a PC or a Mac just for that one task. I’ve seen people buy an extra pc for their on-line banking. I’ve seen switchers go back because they could not get a certain application working on a certain platform. Well, There is an end to switchers trouble and you have all walked through the gates of Sliders heaven (Sliders = cross platform users). Personally I wanted to switch my main machine to linux because I could not get MSN messenger running webcam sessions. (Microsoft does not want to clear the code ) So .. I installed Ubuntu, ran Windows XP as a virtual machine and did the impossible, ran the two Os’es at once and did my Webcam stuff without any trouble. I run Xp on my mac for consulting purposes (when i need to get into a Windows network) and I run Ubuntu in my Xp for testing everything out before I make changes to my ubuntu server.
- Servers dream : The crappy thing about running multiple servers at home is the fact that they eat power. Now you can run several ‘virtual’ servers on the same machine and just have one power supply to feed.
And how do i Do that ?
Before we start : Be sure you have enough memory in your Base Operating system. Each guest operating system requires a chunk of ram. The bigger the chunk, the better the speed. Also see that you have enough storagespace. Not only so the Guest OS can grow to its full potential (About 4 gig”s will do) you also want to make backup copy’s of every clean installed os that you have. Wether you want to run Linux in Xp or Xp in Linux , you need the free vmware player . This is a free application that lets you use pre-built images of virtual machines. So you cant ‘build’ your own virtual machine , just use one that has been pre-built. Now this ‘building’ of a virtual machine tells the virtual machine how to act. Luckily I found THIS site where you can download FREE virtual machine configuration files for just about any operating system you wish. All you need are the installation cd’s of that OS and you are on your way. I’ll be playing with virtual machine more as the week progresses and keep you posted on the results. Meanwhile my “ Piece de resistance “ is a screenshot of an msn webcam session in Windows XP , running as a virtual machine on my Ubuntu (base) workstation. Sliders .. the end of our troubles is in side and we are virtually saved.