Linux… the Future of Computing

I’m a Linux user.  So I always like to strain my ear to hear news about Linux.  But this I didn’t expect.

Caroline and I did a bit of computer shopping before going to watch a film together on Saturday.  While we wandered the aisles in the nearby Futureshop, she turned and asked me what I knew about Linux.  I was surprised.  Caroline is a very smart and talented girl.  She finished statistics at the University of Toronto after all. But she is not a person who follows computer tech.  She further told me that her mother told her that Linux was the future of computing.  And then she asked whether Linux was for her.  To top it off, we bugged the local salesperson… and I had an intelligent conversation about what computer she should get.  (No offence to the smart Futureshop employees out there, but a good chunk of your coworkers are not all that knowledgeable about computing as they should.)  And the salesperson, said he that his life would be easier if PC came pre-loaded with Linux.  I took this all in… amazed.  After some thought on what she would be using the computer I told her to stick with Windows for now.  Why?

Linux and Linux-related technology looks like very much the future of computing.  Thanks to the free software licensing, active communities and flexibility of open source development methodologies, many vendors are looking toward using Linux.  For a vendor Linux provides a way out of the per unit licensing problem.  Also it lets the vendor to control the build out of  a product from top to bottom.  Linux appears creeping into non-desktop computing platforms.  We hear about Linux competing with Windows in the netbook market.  We hear of Linux taking on cellphones with projects such as LiMo, OpenMoko and Google’s Andriod.  The hyper-fast development pace makes Linux progress in leaps and bounds past its competitors.  Nokia heavily invested in Linux with their Maemo-powered Internet Tablets.  Intel invests in Linux with drivers and Moblin.  nVidia and ATI both crank out graphics drivers like no tomorrow.  Dell and HP are each trying to outdo each other selling Linux servers and laptops.  News articles compare Ubuntu Linux on the same level as Windows XP & Vista and Mac OS X.  So forth and so on.  Five years this was unimaginable.  When I installed Linux on my laptop and desktop machines in 2002 and 2001… I could not imagine Linux being more than a cool minor alternative.  Something to play with, and use for fun computing.

So with all these cool developments, why did I not sell Linux to Caroline?  I could of.  Linux could work for her.  But I didn’t because Linux is the future of computing.  Linux exists in the present of computing, but the technology is still in a transitionary stage.  The next few years is where we leap the chasim from novel innovator toys to mainstream consumers.  However along the way there are growing pains.  Graphics and sound need to get up to par.  Support companies need to spring up around the technology.  We are getting there.  But right now, I feel uncomfortable offering Linux to a mainstream consumer and leaving them to their own devices.  If I were to support the system, I could easily setup a Linux system that Caroline could use and enjoy.  A Linux system could be setup to let her do her surfing, watching TV, connecting her digital camera and media organization.  But she could only turn to me for help if something goes wrong.  This is not something I want to inflict on either her or myself.  In a few years time, yes, Linux will work for her.  But it will most likely be everywhere and work for everyone.

Phoneing This One In

My recent loss of my Nokia N810 Internet Tablet has meant I need to resort to more exotic devices for offline blogging. At the moment I’m traveling on the bus (or standing at a bus stop), chilling to music and blogging/writing on my Nokia 5800 cellphone. So tapping on a touchscreen feels more etheral than tactile than on a slide-out keyboard. But if you don’t have what you like, you like what you have.

Also on a N810 I could use a blogging application and publish directly to my website. On the 5800, I need to take the extra step  of uploading to a computer, copy and paste and then post the entry. If I need to suffer for my art to get a daily post, I’m willing to suffer cold fingers and confusing workflows.

And I just got news that the N810 is back!  Note to self, when the phone rings and you are getting on the bus… Figure out your priorities. Hint show ticket first. Also learn to use the headset, it looks less awkward.  And noone wants to hear your Pink Floyd tracks. 🙂

Reflections in the Rain

Rainy days put me in an reflective mood.  Or maybe I’m just in a reflective mood recently.  I don’t know.

It is raining outside.  Rain drops pitter and patter on the sidewalk.  On the buildings standing against the pale grey sky.  On the cars passing by.  On the people busy in their everyday lifes.  I like the rain.  Yes, days like today make me sleepy.  But the greyness brings all the colours out.  The pale grey becomes a canvas on which bright coloured things stand out, while the dark ones fade into the ether.  And every surface becomes shiny and reflective like a mirror.  People say that the rain falls down when Heaven cries.  But are they are tears of sadness or of joy?

I’m am joyful today.  I powered up my new cellphone today.  Still need to get a provider and a SIM card, but it looks like a fun toy and tool.  Today I also finished quite a few tasks.  Most of the documentation I need to read at work, I read.  Soon I will get to play around with Perl.  In fact my task involves learning object-oriented Perl.  Nice!  Also went to Prince today and had a huge meal… and sake. 😛  So I’m in a really, really good mood today.  😀  And I sort out my IT troubles with Nokia yesterday…  Today is a good day.

Now to make the day perfect, I just need to finish off some more old tasks.  And start working on my projects.  Also I need to do some trip planning!

Funny, I just read how SGI got bought out.  Funny cause I remember going to an open house at the IAOD, for a computer graphics course.  A very expensive course that required every student to buy a copy of Maya and a SGI rig.  Funny how things worked out.  I now work in an industry with a lot more stable and well-paying work than the graphics artist could ever provide.  And my sad little Intel x86 computers can replace the SGI rig.  And a copy of Blender can replace Maya.  Funny how everyone with some time and talent can now start work as a graphics artist.

It is On My Desk

No, I’m not mocking Marika’s blog name.  Rather this morning I am tired and uncreative.  At this point, the creative artist starts stealing ideas from more inspired artists.

Over the course of my university career, I learned the elegant art of organization.  The results from just a little effort and some smart thinking goes a long way.  Now I feel compelled to organize, pile, list and label everything.  Not because I’m a neat person by nature.  I just found organized chaos makes one so much productive than in an disorganized chaos.  And I’d rather waste my time dragging my butt out bed in the morning at sloth’s pace than waste time looking for my keycard frantically.  Instead of asking myself, “Where did I put so-and-so.”, I’d rather tell myself, “Great!  Found that things, and did the task.  Now I can do something for myself now.”

This morning I dragged myself out of bed to the sound of a humming computer.  Yesterday evening’s upgrade of my desktop to Jaunty went smoothly.  Except for a few prompts concerning configuration files.  With tired eyes, I clicked through said files, and then went to the task of pretending to be awake.  Some idle surfing later, then I tired to find that blasted receipt so I could expense a piece of hardware.  In contrast to what I said in the above paragraph, organizing papers still eludes me.  After a bunch of looking around I still couldn’t find what I needed.  Saddened I left for work, and tired hard not to fall asleep.

Today starts the first day of a new project at work.  And I start the day extra early for personal reasons.  Should be a fun new project.  But as I look what is on my desk, somethings impress me and others distress me.  The lack of the receipt spoils my attempt of filing my expenses yet again.  The lack of my laptop’s mouse, means a forced existance with only the touchpad/trackpoint.  The lack of coffee in my cup is of minor temporal concern.  I just need to stumble toward the coffee machine down the err… hall or aisle or office space.  I’ll figure out what to name I should call it when I wake up.

Presence and lack of certain items on my desk, help or hinder my efforts today.  The standard pen, notebook, laptop, headphones and USB pen drive means I can be productive to today.  I really miss my mice though.  The IBM branded water bottle is a nice touch.  The bastards never gave me a job, not being an intern and all.  But I like the bottle and soft briefcase I got from them.  The soft briefcase on my desk I could do without.  Paperwork, bills, papers and sad dysfunctional Internet Tablet all hide there.  They will demand I turn my attention at them.  The briefcase is there so that I can’t just wave away the work.  The chocolate bar wrapper sat on my desk until I noticed.  Nice chocolate waffer… not so great substitute for breakfast.  But breakfast I plan to grab from the sandwich bar downstairs once they open in a bit from now.

A welcome change to the items on my desk is the change of books.  Yesterday I finally finished Joseph Tissot’s How to Profit from Your Faults.  A fine read, but a hard read with so much quotes of saints and biblical references.  The books discussed how to deal with sins and all that inconvenient stuff a modern technocrat living in a postmodern positivist-relativist world, sometimes wishes he could wave away.  But alas the soul remains and the fallen nature of humanity is what it is.  Might as well find a way to make oneself better, even by exploiting ones faults.  Today instead I have Mary Beth Bonacci’s Real Love book.  A lighter read about dating, marriage, sexuality and all that jazz from a Catholic perspective.  Normally I don’t mention what I read, due to the obvious personal nature of things.  But today I don’t really care what anyone thinks.  And if I can piss off a positivist-relativist by showing that a logical thinking technocrat feels the need to read “God nonesense” and to delve into “antequated” religious thought, then that will make my day.  Rubbing salt into the wound I’m an anarcho-capitalist.  And I’m building your future world.  Enjoy!  Hopefully I managed to offend someone and ruin their day… just to meet my quota of negative karma feedback. 😛

Also I write this stuff, since I know part of my audience is of a traditional Catholic leaning.  And I just want to throw at least some token support and love your way.  God bless.  As for my open minded, non-discriminating friends, you understand the importance of transparency and free thought.  So I’m sure you don’t mind my occasional religious rants.

Another sort of welcome addition to the desk is the cellphone.  Yes another Nokia device, and not your standard phone.  Before I open up the box and set it up, I’m going to deal with Nokia’s tech support team again.  And Nokia tech folks, you are all wonderful people working for a very forward thinking and innovative company.  Having to send my Canadian bought IT to a repair place in the US via an American address IS NOT very forward thinking or smart.  Since the cellphone seems to have Asian roots, I’d rather not have to send it to Taiwan to get it repaired.  Unless of course you guys want to pay for the shipping, in which case I have no qualms.

Anyways enough of my rant today.  I need to get a coffee, reboot and get some work done for my dear, generous ex-client before I get to work on my new project.  Take care everyone.  I hope I haven’t offended to many of you.  Or my rant was not too long…  Have a happy April Fool’s day.  Avoid becoming a fool today.  Just adding some more words to get the word count to over a 1000 words (1006).  And I’m off.

Windows? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Windows!!!

I just read this article on Phoronix on the Phoenix HyperSpace quick boot Linux. So a quick boot Linux partition installed side-by-side with Windows is nothing new. It happened early last year.

Rather what this article shows is the increased awareness of Linux in the vendor space. It also shows that vendors will ditch their loyalty toward Microsoft and the Windows platform, if it suits the vendor. And Phoenix is not a sole rogue vendor. Nokia does it with Maemo on its internet tablets. Dell on select machines and its Mini 9 netbook. Asus and Acer, again two Linux netbook vendors. And a number of other vendors do the side-by-side install too.

Microsoft should be worried. The Vista debacle caused more than just users to get upset for a slow, bloated OS. Vendors got upset, when Microsoft promised a feature and then didn’t deliver half of what they promised. And vendors trying to stay ahead of the curve got burned when a vital feature didn’t appear. Don’t be surprised that vendors will happily pull a Julius Caesar on Microsoft.

Vendors and user both got tired of Microsoft telling them how they should do their computing. The basic beauty of computing is the flexibility and freedom of workflow that it allows for. Imposing limits of the technology for “historical” and business reason is folly in the long run. Also today’s state of the art technology is past the desktop. The desktop has to interact seamlessly mobile handhelds, web applications and cloud computing offerings. Making everything into a desktop paradigm as Microsoft sees things, doesn’t work. It doesn’t cut it anymore. And vendors know this.

Vendors now look to Linux and free/libre/open source software (FLOSS) as a way to simplify development, cut costs and ultimately as a way to go forward. That is the beauty of FLOSS, you have the freedom to take technology where you want it to go. The only constraints on computing technology should be the laws physical universe and your own imagination.