Dictation Keeps You Productive Even in the Bathroom

Free   July 9, 2019   Comments Off on Dictation Keeps You Productive Even in the Bathroom

Have you ever wanted a different height toilet? Yes, it is a real question. They do comes in sizes to fit different needs. What if you are short and petite or super tall? You don’t want your legs to hang or scrape the ground. We want to be comfortable on the john, as we might be there a while. No kidding.

Some people tell me they work in the bathroom to save time. They obviously have rather busy lives. Nevertheless, I bet it is a pretty common practice. I am interested in human behavior, on and off the computer. Thinking about it, you can certainly take your laptop with you anywhere you go and combine the basic activities of life.

Speaking of human behavior, what drives someone to be creative a such an inopportune time. Ideas can come at will so you want to record them as they happen. Use your handy dandy electronic device of choice, the more portable the better. I have my own choice as I will divulge shortly. Once you have the right toilet height and waterproof equipment, you are ready to roll, so to speak.

Today’s blog may seem a bit absurd, but it is one dimension of the digital life, the chief concern of this blog. By the way, it is called Fulinux in reference to Free Use Lunix, a multi-tasking operating system for Commodore 64 and 128 home computers. Guess what I have? One of them, of course. They provide me with internet access and sufficient file storage for a lifetime.

I have always been into computers. To prove it, I went to coding school where I learned Lunix. It is useful for most any task. You can download and tweak it as you wish. Take my word for it, you will never be limited by a proprietary operating system, plus I love open source software. I associate my computer with creativity since it is the receptacle of all my ideas.

You never know when creativity might strike. Why let a trip to the bathroom spoil your idea flow thanks to improvements in dictation software and comfortable toilets? Modern technology has answered even the most unlikely needs of mankind. Toilets now use softer materials on the seats and come in a range of heights. Long ago, you had maybe one choice. Now you can sit pretty and get to work with your amazing software.

You can work hands free, pertinent to your location and purpose. Voice dictation is a marvelous invention and a blessing to multi-taskers. Ha! The software is inexpensive and easy to install, so you can use it in the “stall.” Another big ha! It is all about speech recognition to convert your words to text. As proponents say avidly, “you can get more done by voice.”

Ask a Digital Repairman

Free   July 8, 2017   Comments Off on Ask a Digital Repairman

I confess. I am a computer nerd with a fond attachment to open source software. I have written some innovative apps as well. Give me a project and I run with it. One came to me just the other day. It happened in my own private realm, but I am sure others can relate. My vacuum stopped working, out of stubborn meanness or fatigue, I don’t know. It never acted up like this before and I paid a pretty penny for it not long ago. It has not served its designated time. I hate lugging appliances to a repair shop. It is unwieldy, time consuming, and expensive. It is worse if the repairman comes to your house. If he works on digital units, it might even be prohibitive.

I had to solve the problem myself. If I knew what was wrong with it, I would make the best, most economic choice to fix it. I wasn’t experienced enough myself. I am learning fast that as life goes on and your car or motorcycle, AC, appliances, and plumbing go on the fritz, you need to become knowledgeable and independent. I envy those who have that special knack. I remember in the old days, my grandfather could fix TVs, radios, cars, musical instruments, and just about anything electrical. Times have changed in our digital electronic world. We are not so handy anymore unless you are refurbishing old items.

I am bent on making a program that diagnoses appliance problems, such as those of a broken vacuum, the same way you can ask Dr. Google about illnesses. I love that you can use the search engines to find out what ails you. If you type in your symptoms, you will get a list of problems that correlate. It is a great aid to self-diagnosis, although you might jump to the wrong conclusions. It would work the same way for appliance breakdown. You would enter “vacuum lost suction,” “vacuum hose broken,” “vacuum bad connection,” or “vacuum retains dust.” I imagine that just entering “broken vacuum” would be enough. You would be routed to my software where you could get details on what is likely happening. Or perhaps you would answer a series of questions on Twitter. As you click “yes” to various questions, the diagnosis would become more accurate. When finished with the preliminaries, you promptly get an answer from a host of expert material on the subject. If your unit is digital and has an LED display, no problem. I will program the software to include every make and model on earth, including the most recent and complicated. That might seem a lot, but it is not as vast as you might think. Many models have been discontinued and I can add new ones as I wish.

I love using the Internet to solve problems. It is fast and accurate in most cases. I live in a digital world and I am going to relish it. My vacuum broke down and now I am inspired to program some new software that can help most people.

This is Teambuilding?

Free   September 22, 2016   Comments Off on This is Teambuilding?

We were told one morning that there would be a company retreat. It would be the first of its kind. Our boss had been reading motivational books and a retreat was mentioned as a must. You can’t take teambuilding seriously if you don’t make an effort to plan for special events during which discussion and participation would be central. Almost anything can happen on a retreat. The point is to get away from those ubiquitous computers and do something else—something useful that will impact and benefit employees long term. Many companies hire outside specialist to organize and run retreats. You pick the place, the date, and how many days will be allotted. Our boss had everything in hand and we anticipated a successful event. We expected to be surprised somewhat. All we knew was that we were a group in isolation from daily tasks and that our minds would be focused on teambuilding.

The retreat day arrived and we all drove to a nearby resort where they had private meeting rooms. The nice thing was that the meeting destination was on a lake. Water recreation was going to be featured, we had no doubt. One of the two days of the retreat would involve some time of water sports. We were divided into teams. One event had to do with rowing. Another with swimming certain distances during which we were timed. I was a bit nonplussed by the fact that there was a towable tube. I was put in charge of the things. It was a tough 26-gallon contraption covered with 420-denier nylon. The boss promised lasting fun. He said it will leave us breathless. My apprehension started to wane. There were two EVA pads topside that enhanced the enjoyable ride, plus pull-up straps to make boarding a cinch. I read the instructions and saw that the towable tube had 6 handles with knuckle guards, a quick-connect tow hook, and what is called a Boston valve. Two riders were easily accommodated at one time in the 70” tube. I now knew what I needed to know to get the event started.

After the other team water events, the tube was a bit different. We got in pairs and were given a number that indicated the order in which we would ride. The tube was filled with air by means of a high-pressure inflator. It turned out to be a gas! I had never done it before and it was truly phenomenal. It was the highlight of the retreat. When we got back to the office after the weekend was over, we praised the choice of location and water recreation competition. We admitted that friendly competition is good as long as jealousy doesn’t flare. Instead, it was about individual teams which parallels our structure at work. We felt we understood it better now in different contexts. We all wrote glowing reports to management. Teambuilding can take many forms, and our version was unusual and exciting. You can certainly have fun while you are learning new things.

Why Use Open Source Software?

Free   July 24, 2016   Comments Off on Why Use Open Source Software?

Here’s an obvious reason: software is expensive. Seriously.

Say you want a photo editing program. I’m not talking filters on instragram, I’m talking a REAL editing program. Like Photoshop. Now, I love Photoshop. Unfortunately, I don’t have the $$$ to put it on my computer. I use it at work, though, because better them than me.  So let me introduce you to GIMP. GNU Image Manipulation Program, meet the blog readers. Blog readers, say hello to GIMP. It is the open source software alternative to expensive, high quality photo editing software. With GIMP, you can paint and draw, retouch photos, convert image formats, and add other plugins to do basically whatever you can think of. And here’s the best part—it’s free. That’s right, free. It isn’t the prettiest thing you’ll ever see, but it’s clean, functional, and super powerful. And it comes with an incredible amount of help and support. It’s awesome. Download it and check it out because you have literally nothing to lose.

Another gottahave program is an office suite. If you have the money to spend on Microsoft, go right ahead. Or….you can try something like Apache OpenOffice. It is hands-down one of the best FREE software suites I’ve come across. It has a word processor, a spreadsheet generator, you can make presentation slide shows, and create databases. Best of all, it is compatible with most other commercial office programs. That means you can use it to create documents and send them to other people, and they can open them on whatever they’re using.  Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? It’s not. Go look at the link and see for yourself. I’ll wait.

Those are just two examples of open source software saving you an incredible amount of money. Wikipedia estimates that it saves people over $60 billion a year. Why not have some of that money be yours? There’s lots more software out there. Just do a web search for whatever type of program you’re looking for along with the words “open source software” and you’ll be amazed at what you can find.

My other bigselling point to open source software is that it is based on collaboration. In other words, if you run a program and there is something you think you can improve, you can. If it doesn’t do something you want it to, if you have the time and the talent, you can make it do what you are looking for. You aren’t limited to emailing tech support, waiting for them to offer up lame work arounds and then have them tell you that maybe your idea will be incorporated in a future update. You can personalize it to, say, your company’s needs and then distribute it out to all your employees. By having many people look at guts of the program, you gain the perspective of many different programmers who each bring their own skills to the table. It’d be impossible as a company to hire that many people. But they can look at it and improve on your idea, making programs better and more widely appealing.

But don’t just take my word for it. Look around on the internet and see what you can find.

Not Wasting My Saturday

Free   July 12, 2016   Comments Off on Not Wasting My Saturday

Sometimes I dread going home to visit my family. I get along with everyone. It’s not that. There are no feuds or spats that mar our relationship. It seems that my father finds all kinds of chores for me to do every single time. It could be cleaning the garbage, the inside of the stove, sorting through the attic, or carrying box of giveaway clothing to the garage for later donation. Once I had to organize his fishing gear and tool shed. I try to hide out, foolishly thinking he won’t see me if I am clever enough, but inevitably he does. He has a laundry list of items from the most demanding to the most trivial. There are at least ten things every time. He figures if he starts big, I will want to get it over with faster and I won’t poop out on him when we get to the small stuff. And if I do give out, the stuff at the end of the list isn’t that important anyway. How can there be so many things to do? Doesn’t he do anything at all himself? I suspect not. I am as busy as he is and my time in precious. He goes on about young people having responsibilities to the family, but somehow to me that doesn’t apply if you don’t live at home. Don’t you become truly independent at some point? He goes on about duty and making good use of one’s free time, etc. I don’t have that much free time, especially when I am in his house. He adds that there is great joy in helping others. He has every excuse and line in the book.

This time on the list was to clean the BBQ grill, the patio furniture, the garage floor, and the garden walkways. Sounds like a job for a power washer to me. That will make it go much faster, so I immediately set about finding one. First I surveyed the neighbors with no luck. Then I trudged over to the local hardware store. Of course they had many. The problem is that I knew if I gave my father his own power washer, he would find more things to do with it—by me—every single time I dropped by. I had to cave in at the point and acquiesce. I was going to wash the heck of every dirty area around the house and yard. Okay, the best power washers do make short work of everything and I was done in no time. I was pretty impressed, so much so, that I decided to tackle a few things later that day around my own apartment.

What started out as a protest not to waste my Saturday became a most productive day. I felt pretty good about how much could be done. Even the grill which seemed beyond impossible came out squeaky clean. You just adjust the spray head, turn on the water, and whoosh. The job is done.

The One Time I Try to Cook

Free   July 8, 2016   Comments Off on The One Time I Try to Cook

I want to learn to cook. Maybe I have too much time on my hands and have had my fill of the cybersphere. I suppose it happens to the best of us sooner or later. We want to try new things, so why not something that nourishes us at the very same time. How practical can you get! I can think of worse enterprises. Cooking is a hobby for many and I don’t know if I will go that far with it, but I am willing to try my hand at it. I may surprise myself and get into it with gusto and glee. You certainly get plenty of inspiration from TV. They make it look simple—and pretty yummy. You don’t have to have a gourmet kitchen, just the basic accoutrements and appliances. I am limited in this department, so I am taking stock of what I need. In that my kitchen faucet is broken, this will have to be repaired by the landlord (or replaced) before I can get started. Imagine! The one time I try to cook, I have to wait for new gear. He asked me what kind of faucet I want. I was impressed that I even have a choice. What landlord doesn’t balk at any extra added expense? I am pretty lucky. Maybe he shared my cooking ambitions and was impressed with my desire to enter this sacred realm.

Having looked at a few, I want a flexible pull down kitchen faucet in shiny chrome to match my stove and refrigerator. I want a water filter system—any gourmet cook has one. Apart from this, I won’t be fussy. Just give me something that doesn’t break down in the middle of my meal preparations like the old one did. They make them better than they used to as far as I have been told. I trust Moen. The new models are super modern and sleek. The neck/spout is elegant and the handles are small and efficient. I wonder if I have the faintest chance of getting one. It does add to the value of the apartment. The kitchen isn’t that updated, and this could be the beginning of some real progress. Surely future tenants will appreciate it a lot. It makes perfect sense to invest now and keep people like me happy. If he comes through, I am going to make a cake or some cookies and bestow them upon him as a thank you present. What is that silly phrase you hear in commercials? Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven. Ha! I am sure this is true in general. I wouldn’t go so far as to say “lovin’” but the goodies are meant to be taken in a similar spirit. I guess I am lucky to have a good landlord and I will be content with whatever he agrees to install. If he takes my cooking hobby seriously, he may get into helping me make it more fun and easy.

The Man Behind the Mask

Free   July 4, 2016   Comments Off on The Man Behind the Mask

I never thought I would see the day when I would try using a sewing machine. I never thought I would ever be discussing such a machine or writing sewing machine reviews on my blog. How does a sewing machine enter your life unless you are my mother or little sister? It looks like some weird contraption what with this spindle at the top, a wheel, and a pedal foot at the bottom. I haven’t the faintest clue. I needed to repair a Tux costume for an event to promote Linux use and thought it was a small enough task that I didn’t need to take it to an expensive tailor. You just walk in the door and it costs $20. I knew that from experience when I ripped the seat of my pants. I was shocked what it costs to get professional repair. It was no different at the cleaners. I guess they needed to subsidize the cost of the expensive sewing machines they had on premises. They cost a bundle.

When I decided to make the repair, it never occurred to me that I would practically have to take a course to operate this plastic monstrosity. The person who loaned it to me thought I would love it because it was computerized and was designed to sync with your laptop. Was that supposed to intrigue me? You could then chose from hundreds of stitches. The capacity of this thing was enormous. Way beyond what was needed for the Tux. I thought it best to use only the basic mode of operation and ask for some help. The basic stitches would do. I would only have to decide how wide apart they needed to be and if I wanted to go forward and/or backward. I thought I should at least try out some of the fancy stuff, but the job didn’t merit this kind of elaboration. A sewing machine in my hands could be a dangerous weapon. I could jab my fingers and create excruciating pain. Those little needles only looked harmless. I imagined what they could do.

It was a Singer machine. I am told this is a venerable company and I should be lucky to have it on hand. Given how complex the situation was getting, I was tempted to make the Tux repair by hand. That entailed threading a needle and tying a knot. I think I could master that. But no, after making a brouhaha to my friends, I had to show my newfound prowess. I got the machine up and running with the help of the instructions and even managed to make a bobbin. Don’t ask me how I figured that out and especially how I was able to slide it into place under the main sewing needle. Sewing takes a good eye and some real skill. It should be a good challenge for me. But frankly I don’t need a new challenge. Life puts many in my way each and every day.

Best BBQ Ever

Free   June 30, 2016   Comments Off on Best BBQ Ever

You don’t have to live in Texas, or even Oklahoma for that matter, to like great BBQ. It is a universal passion most anywhere come summer. No matter they treat it like royalty in the southwestern United States. All you have to do is get a good grill, some utensils, and great recipes for sauce. The sauce is the key to everything. Many people have their secret favorites and are loath to give out the details. Why is this such a point of pride? It is in any case. It takes time to develop the perfect sauce. But I have a little twist on secret recipes: sausage making. I was recently invited to a BBQ where the host made his own sausage. It was totally awesome and the best BBQ ever. I had never heard of doing this yourself. It takes a lot of work. He was willing to divulge some of the information.

The key to making sausage is to use more than one type of meat. You mix pork, beef, and maybe lamb for flavor. At least some of the meat has to have some fat on it for taste. This meant goes through a machine called a grinder. It looks kind of squishy when it comes out. You then have to buy the casings that hold the meat, but there is more work before that point. Seasoning. This is where you separate the men from the boys. The real sausage makers know how to season just right. They will often make a variety of types of sausage from herbal to super spicy to please different tastes. My friend has a pantry full of spices in rather large quantities. Whenever he is in the mood to make some links, he pulls out his favorite tray. Cayenne pepper is big with spice fans, but sage is the preferred spice of softer palettes. He then explained how the meat is stuffed into the casings with a machine appropriately called a stuffer that comes with a funnel kit. It’s a pretty cool process. You can produce quite a few franks in one sitting. There is a lot of personal satisfaction involved he exclaims. Because it is a lot of work, you will want to make a couple of dozen of each variety. They look like the real thing, because they are. They look like they just came from the deli. One after the other in a row these bulging sausages, seasoned to perfection.

After admiring his recent output we put some of the home-made sausages on the grill. As the fat hits the fire, it hisses and spurts. I must say they were super delicious and so fresh. So much better than those things full of filler and preservatives at the supermarket. While it seems like a lot of work, I for one can attest to the fact that it is an enterprise well undertaken, especially if you want to impress your guests at the next BBQ.

You can run Linux on Your Windows Computer, Here’s How:

Free   June 24, 2016   Comments Off on You can run Linux on Your Windows Computer, Here’s How:

Lunix on Your Windows Computer

Time to get a little fancy here on the ol’ blog. Today, I am going to tell you how to run Lunixas a secondary operating system so that you don’t have to stop using your proprietary operating system. The concept isn’t new, and for some of you serious techies out there this is probably old information, so just bear with me here while everyone else catches up:

It’s called a dual-boot system. This sounds exactly like what you think it is: your system can run on Windows/Chrome/Mac or Lunix, depending on what you want to do during that session. All you have to do to run the other system is switch over, and that process will depend on which OS you are switching from.

Sounds great, right? You get the best of both worlds that way.

My computer runs on Windows, so I’m going to walk you through that process and maybe talk about the others once I’ve actually gone through the process. I’ll add a little bit at the end about what I’ve heard about those installs for all you Windows haters out there, though.

The first step depends on whether you are starting with a completely blank hard drive or not. If you have a fresh drive, Windows is the one who doesn’t play well with others so it has to go first. Choose the custom install and make sure you tell Windows that it can’t partition the majority of the drive. It has to share. If Windows is already installed on your machine then you need to be sure to make room for it on the drive, which you can do from the Disk Management Utility. Or give Lunix its own separate drive. Depends on how much money/know-how/energy you feel like putting into this project. Resize the Windows partition so that you have enough room for Lunix, because Windows is greedy.

Once Windows is in and you have the room, burn your Linux installer to a DVD or put it on a flash drive, then boot from that drive. Install Linux, being sure to select the option where you install it along with Windows. Otherwise, it will wipe your hard drive and undo everything you just did. If there is a custom install option instead, choose that one and you should be able to resize the partitions yourself. Linux will put in a nice menu when you boot up to ask you which operating system you want to go with at any given startup. Ta-done!

Promised paragraph for the rest of you: I’ve heard that it isn’t as easy on a Mac, but if you burn a live version of Linux to a CD, you can always run it from there. Maybe by the time you get tired of that, someone will have made it an easier process. A Chromebook, on the other hand, is already a Linux machine. So I’d imagine it’s not as difficult. You just have to find a program that is made specifically for Chromebooks and be in developer mode. Because, you know, you’re developing. Once you’ve got it in, it’s a simple keyboard shortcut to switch from one OS to the other.

Travelling Light

Free   June 15, 2016   Comments Off on Travelling Light

I attend conferences and seminars throughout the year to keep me abreast of the latest developments in the cybersphere. It is a pretty exciting place to be since something new is always happening. You struggle to keep up. It doesn’t just get into your head by osmosis. You have to put yourself out there if you want to garner the information of the moment. You also have some to impart as well. Those of us in software have a dual role. Attending stuff is the best way to stay in touch for the most part. You can’t get what you want to know by searching online. You get some information, but you miss out a lot as well. For example, I am going to a Lunix event and need to travel light. I hate toting a myriad of things I won’t need. I already know what is essential.

Packing is easy for someone like me. I can count what I have to take on the fingers of one hand. It all starts with a super cool backpack of the kind people at the conference will notice and admire. I pride myself on a certain kind of image as a denizen of the digital realm. I spent some time finding just the right one. No schoolboy number for me. Nothing old fashioned or unhip to be sure. It had to have a high-tech look with comparable fabric and lots of silver hardware. It had to have the right sized compartments for my laptop or tablet, depending which one I planned to take. Sometimes it is both. Then it had to have pockets for the cell phone, my keys, and some other personal items. I take a comb, an extra change of clothing, and a couple of health bars. I don’t want my stomach growling during an important meeting session.

All this stuff fits tidily in the backpack. It squishes together to become very compact and easy to carry. I almost forget about it when it is on my back. I say this because there have been times when it has been forgotten. I set it down under my chair, pull out what I need, and zip it shut. I panicked at one conference after I had left the building without my trusty tote. I wasn’t about to let that happen again. Can you imagine leaving your laptop for just anyone to come by and snatch away?

That’s the problem with cool backpacks. I assume that everyone wants it. Why give them an easy opportunity. I felt like such a fool. Now I guard the thing with my life. It is a one-of-a-kind backpack that is not easily replaceable. I have to keep my eyes glued on it.

When you are greeting people at conferences and making mental notes, it is easy to become distracted. One of the mental notes should be to remember to pick up the backpack when I leave. I was lucky I found it in the “lost and found” with all contents intact.

An Open Source Project I’m Working On

Free   June 7, 2016   Comments Off on An Open Source Project I’m Working On

I have to use office productivity software to keep track of stuff at work. It is one of my least favorite parts of the job, honestly, but because there are a few projects going on simultaneously, I do understand why it is necessary. I have found that for me personally, I end up creating a lot of forms to be autofilled and basically creating truckloads of formatting rules and formulas for spreadsheets. I guess I like things a certain way and it makes my life easier. My templates have been perfected over time and I have to say that not many of the adaptations I’ve made have been intuitive. I had to look a lot of it up online and other things I really had to trial-and-error. Lots of errors. It’s been frustrating.

But then I realized that instead of fighting office software to do what I wanted it to do, I could take office software and design it to do what I wanted it to. So I went looking for some quality open source productivity software (I’m not going to tell you what I used—yet) and have been working on getting everything just right. Honestly, I’m sure that I am putting more energy and effort into getting the code right than I probably ever did with the office template designing, but for me, the experience is totally different. Instead of banging my head against a wall because I don’t know how to get a program I didn’t write to do something that I’m not even sure it actually can do, I am banging my head into a wall because of bugs or my terrible memory of some of my college coding classes. However, it is a fun kind of frustrating instead of an “I am going to throw this laptop under a bus” kind of frustrating.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m weird like that. Realize that I didn’t make that a question for a reason. I don’t actually want your answer.

I guess it’s that I don’t like limits forced on me. I understand what I am, and am not, capable of as far as programming goes. But those are MY limitations, and I take extra courses, or watch tutorials, or do whatever I can think of to push myself through those limits and improve myself. Proprietary software limitations, on the other hand, are basically end-of-the-road kinds of things. You can kill yourself looking for workarounds, like what I was doing, or you can just tweak something that’s already out there. That’s the route I’m taking now and I’m really glad that I am.

Maybe when I’ve got it up and running, I’ll put it up on the site. But don’t hold me to that because since I’m not getting paid for it, my attention span is only going to hold out for so long. And it is entirely possible that some of the stuff I’m looking for it to do can’t actually be accomplished either with my coding skills such as they are, or possibly just in general. Oh well. Until then, wish me happy coding!

Recommended Places to Find Programs

Free   May 30, 2016   Comments Off on Recommended Places to Find Programs

Hopefully, by now I have inspired you to take Linux out for a spin or two. Or maybe I’ve gotten you interested in open source programs. You’re welcome, by the way, for that one. But once you’re interested in open source software, the question really becomes: where can you safely and reliably download it without also potentially downloading something that could be a security risk (or downright malicious) to your computer?

I’d like to say that people have the end user at heart and that you are unlikely to run into those kinds of problems, but that isn’t entirely true. So instead, what I want to do now is focus on a few sites that have been proven reliable and reasonably safe (I cannot guarantee every single link or program on them will be virus, spyware, or malware free, but nothing over the internet is, really. And even if I download it to my home computer with no problems and you download it and somehow get a virus, that doesn’t necessarily mean you got it from the program. It’s also possible someone hacked your computer because of your terrible virus protection, but you attribute it to the program because it was the last thing you downloaded. All of that was a very long winded way to say that I can’t be held responsible for anything you may or may not download off the interwebs.)

  • In some cases, the website of a specific company can be super helpful, especially when it is as reputable as Apache. There is a section on their site where you can run through their current projects to get an idea of what they have going on at the moment, get more information on any programs you find interesting, and download anything you decide might be worthwhile. If cloud-based stuff is what you’re looking for, OpenStack has you covered. Their marketplace has a whole bunch of different options, from different OS to included applications.
  • There are foundations out there that promote free or open source software. Depending on what you are looking for, you can try one of them. I like the Free Software Foundation’s Directory. They have a huge, clearly categorized system to help you find exactly what you’re looking for. If you want to help a fellow programmer out, or are looking for some free debugging help, check out the projects page at Openhatch. You can find projects sorted by language and listed by amount of bugs. So you can work on something in your area of experience with the work load you’re comfortable with.
  • I do find myself on download.com a lot. Mostly because I read cnet, but they have a huge list of open source software on their site. Just remember to scroll past the ads that look like search results at the top.

And there you have it. Some ideas to get you started on your quest to save yourself some money and save yourself some time (if you are looking for productivity software) or waste time (if you’re looking for just about anything else).

So What is Linux, Anyway?

Free   May 24, 2016   Comments Off on So What is Linux, Anyway?


Really it is Unix modified by a guy named Linus, but people tend not to find that explanation helpful, even if it is both true and explains the L in the name. So I try to explain what the Linux kernel is. Most people have had experience with either the android operating system or Chromebooks, so they’re actually familiar with Linux and don’t even know it. Google used Linux as a base and then adapted it to work on touchscreens. Thanks, google, for being too lazy to start a program from scratch! But that, my friends, is open source programming. You can take it and tweak it and make it do other stuff. Google knew they had something good with Linux and were able to take that glorious, already fully operational, kernel (the basis for operating systems) and do whatever they wanted with it. And what they wanted was to make a mobile operating system and cheap netbooks. Smart and possibly lazy programmers right there.

Anyway, I’m lost in a tangent. Sorry.  Once people understand that Linux is an operating system without all the logos, although they do have Tux the penguin as a mascot (way better than a partially eaten apple or what’s basically a square), they start to see where I’m going. Once you’ve stripped away all of the proprietary coating on, say, your phone because you’ve rooted it, you’re left with the operating system guts—the kernel. In other words, that’s when you get into Lunix (or at least what Google left of it.)

Lunix is actually underneath most things, you just don’t know it. Supercomputers? Yup. Servers? Probably. We’ve already discussed how it is possibly running your phone and likely your netbook. It’s fast and it’s free and it is easy to work with once you know what you’re doing. The great thing about open source software is that you don’t get any of the nonsense, you just get the program. As long as you consent to the license agreement (do you even read those?), Linux gives you the right, as the user, to change the programming as you see fit to make it run the way that you want to. It gives you a lot more freedom as far as everything is concerned. For example, if you download Microsoft Office, you’re not supposed to go in and change how the program works and then put your hacked version on the internet so other people can download it and then run your hacked version, or better yet, they hack your hack and release that version. That’s not really what Microsoft wants you to do.

However…with open source software, the guts of the program are readily accessible. So if you find a program that you like but isn’t quite right, you can open it up, perform some surgery, and close it back up when it’s running the way you want it to. It’s like renovating where you live. Microsoft looks at you like a renter and they don’t want you tearing down walls to make a more open floorplan. On the other hand, with Linux, you own the house. The bank’s not going to tell you that you can’t update your bathroom. You can do just about anything you want as long as you have the proper permits or whatever.