Feb 26, 2011

Fully Illustrated - The Portfolio of Michael Heald

Illustration | Fully Illustrated - The Portfolio of Michael Heald

man, they produce some amazing artwork. Love the backgrounds of Stenches with the moon and the city. Great work ..

Feb 25, 2011

Nokia and open source

Nokia and open source – a trial by fire - The H Open Source: News and Features

ah yes, with open source it's ofter very tempting to reinvent the wheel. But in most cases it slows someone down and is just the wrong way. Participation and iterative improvement is key. Still a lot of people don't really get a few of the biggest benefits of OSS.

unintended Ubuntu product placement?

Recently I've noticed more and more Ubuntu hints on the internet. Like just now this Video:

A Day in the CloudFlare Office from CF Vimeo on Vimeo.

It's not like Canonical has anything to do with it. But still I tend to see it a lot on Videos like that. Mostly on technical related stuff but still I get the impression that this is a growing trend. It's like I stumble uppon them everywhere.

Feb 21, 2011

Reducing Online Noise

Recently I've been thinking a lot about all the online activities which distract me from getting some work done. Things like news sites, facebook, twitter, IMs and other things here and there. Ubuntu does a pretty good job of reducing some of this for me. It seems that this will only improve with the next version and the new Unity UI. Gnome 3 seems to try similar things. I've come to the conclusion that I want to do some of the following things:

  • Restrict my social site activity to only once or twice a day.
  • Same for news sites.
  • switch off most IMs during the day.
  • set some times where I'm 'allowed' to do that online stuff (like lunch-break, evenings)
  • make it harder to get to the pages by making them less visible

the problem with all this online activity is that I'm now used to this distraction. I'm searching for it. I seem to not be able to focus on a task for a longer period of time in front of my computer. It feels like I'm always missing something. I hate wasting time and thats why I'm so frustrated about this. I guess it's going to be hard to overcome this urge but I hope I manage to do it and finally get things done at home ...

Feb 15, 2011

MUM - Evaluation & Preperation

This is a series of blog posts where I describe the migration experience I had as I migrated my mothers computer from Windows to Ubuntu. This is the second post in this series and I created an overview post as well.

I arrived at home prepared like described in my first post. I had my netbook as well as Ubuntu 10.04 and 10.10 install images/CDs. There where still a few things unanswered. I could not remotely test the “exotic” hardware my mother owns. So I tested the two digital cameras that needed to work. I did that with my netbook that also runs Ubuntu. After getting to know the cameras I got them to work on Ubuntu without much trouble. This made me glad as I expected this to be an other major deal breaker. Now just the computers internal hardware needed to work and I was ready to go. So I took a CD and tested and started Ubuntu from disk on my mothers computer. It did work fine, no problems with the older hardware.

Software alternatives to the software my mother is used to where mostly straight forward. For the office work my mother needs to get done it was clear that OpenOffice.org's Writer would do the job. I just need to converted the two templates that my mother uses and test printed them on the printer. Most of the games my mother plays are on the Internet as Flash games or come with Ubuntu anyway. On the Internet side things stayed much the same thanks to IE not having the major share anymore. I did decide to go with Firefox as it has good integration with Ubuntu and is the default browser installed. Generally I tried to stay with the Ubuntu default software as much as possible. It should be better integrated and has a hopefully well working upgrade path in the future.

Most of this was already known to me prior to even thinking about a migration. I did a few migration attempts already in the past. So I already had some experience with this. This is why I was most concerned with the things I didn't know of. The thing is that in recent years I have been at my parents place only once or twice a year. So I missed a lot of thing my mother does on the computer. After talking with my mother I discovered that she creates photo albums using a special software. This software wasn't available for Linux. As I got to know this I feared that this would be the deal breaker I expected. Gladly I did find a few alternatives and after having a look at them I installed two on my mothers computer. I let here choose which one she liked the most.

The problem here is that users tend to forget what they actually use. Later on they say that they thought that it would “just work”. For them all this isn't important until they need it. So I told my mother multiple times how her current software doesn't work anymore. I tried to explain it to here as good as I can. I asked here multiple times for other software she may want to use. She couldn't think of any more and didn't ask me for any other software till now.

So I had an alternative for all the software my mother needed. This meant that I could go ahead and start to backup the current data on the computer and install Ubuntu on it. I made a default install and left pretty much everything on default. I just enabled the additional repositories and updated everything to be current. I created the needed templates for OpenOffice.org. I installed Skype as well as a lot of codecs, Flash as well as other basic stuff. I also installed TeamViewer 6 so I could later on remotely solve problems if they should occur. I already used it once now and it works very well.

This is what I did with just a few bits left out. Like the CD/DVD drives that didn't work well anymore, was painful and time consuming but I could solve it after finding the problems source. I'm very positively surprised about the fact how well it turned out. I expected more problems and much more user dissatisfaction. But more on that in my next post.

Feb 13, 2011

MUM - Current Status

This is a series of blog posts where I describe the migration experience I had as I migrated my mothers computer from Windows to Ubuntu. This is the first post in this series and I created an overview post as well.

One very important step in the migration is to know exactly the current status of your target. This includes how and what software the user needs as well as what hardware needs to be supported. Especially very special software as well as exotic hardware need to be taken care of.

So my mother is running Windows XP on her old computer (about 5 to 6 years old hardware). Every time I'm at my parents place she complains about the computer not working well and that I should do something against it. So she wasn't enjoying the Windows experience that much anyway. I told here that I can reinstall the computer. She noted that it would be the same again within a year. She wasn't happy with that. I suggested Ubuntu as an alternative to here. She decided that she wants to give Ubuntu a try. For me it was important that my mother wanned to try it. I didn't like to force it on here. Of course I told here that the software will be different and that she needs to get used to it first. I tried to explain to here as good as I can what the consequences of this move are.

A very important part of my mothers computer usage is writing everything needed for my fathers company. Most of the time thats writing bills to customers for the work my fathers has done. My father doesn't know a lot about computers and never uses them. I've never seen him even touch a running one. She uses Microsoft Word for that. There are two important templates for her work. One for the letter header and one for the envelopes. They needed to be there on Ubuntu as well.

Until recently my sisters did still live with my parents. So they used the computer as well. This has always been the major problem with earlier migration attempts. My sisters like to play current computer games from time to time. And these usually don't work on Linux. So a migration to Linux was not possible. I did try it for some time with a dual-boot setup but they never booted to Linux so it was useless. This wasn't the case now as most of them don't live at home anymore. They have their own computers now. My mother only plays causal games like Mahjong or Tetris. These should be simple to get to run in some form on Ubuntu.

Apart from these my mother uses the Internet which shouldn't make much trouble these days with the fall of IE. Important things tend to work on all major browsers nowadays. I did also know that I only had a few days for the migration. This was my biggest concern as I would have preferred a slower migration to ease the transition. But I live far away from my parents (about a 7h train ride) and can't just stop by for a weekend to fix things. I tried to make sure I had alternatives for all software my mother used prior to even being there. I tried to prepare myself as good as possible for it. I took my netbook (running Ubuntu) as well as installation CDs with me. Especially my netbook would come in handy if I should be stuck on a problem without a running computer or working Internet connection.

This is the situation that existed. My mother wanned me to fix the “slowness” of her computer somehow and I gave here two ways to proceed. The usual, already often done, way of completely reinstalling the computer. She did know that within no time it would be just the same again. Or a migration to Ubuntu so she could try how that worked for her. She decided to go for Ubuntu and I was prepared to help her on the way.

Mother Ubuntu Migration (MUM) - Overview

I've been toying with the Idea to convert my Mothers old computer into an Ubuntu machine for some time. At the end of 2010 I finally did it. Here you find a few blogposts describing how I did it and what my experience was. This is far from an ideal Migration as my time was short. Migration should happen slowly so the users have time to adapt to the new ways things work. I didn't have the time for that. So this migration was very sudden to my mother, not in that she didn't know I was doing it but that she had different software from on day to the other. I will splint my experience in the following posts:

1. MUM - Current Status
2. MUM - Evaluation & Preperation
3. MUM - Finishing Up & Improvements

Feb 11, 2011

Nokia and Microsoft

The Elopocalypse: Nokia chooses Microsoft | Be the signal

Basically what I think about the whole thing is stated in this post.

In my opinion a very bad long term decision for Nokia. I really wonder how much the Ex-MS CEO had influenced this. The thing is it's just bad for Nokia as a company but a really great thing for Microsoft. I think its uncommon for a company to do good things for an other company without getting a good value back. And I really don't see much value coming from MS. Basically Nokia has outsourced its OS development to MS. So Nokia has given up on a major part of the company.

And all the other now incompatible projects they have running. I just don't see where this turns out good for Nokia in 5 to 10 years from now. I see the benefit shortterm as Meego just isn't ready and they are loosing a lot of market share. In my opinion they should have killed off symbian much sooner and direct that cash to meego. They didn't push hard enough for any platform and now they are somewhere in the middle and need to jump ship to something that works already. And I think jumping ship is never a good thing to do. We will see how this turns out ...

Never Pay For Online Dating

Why You Should Never Pay For Online Dating « OkTrends

such a shame that match.com did buy them. No one should ever pay for a dating site that works like this.

Feb 7, 2011

Back from a break

A lot has happened recently and I haven't really been in the mood to post here. Started to regularly go to the gym. Sitting in front of a computer all day at work and doing nothing for your body just isn't a good idea. I feel much better already which also affects my mood positively. I'm a Grooveshark VIP user now as well. They offer a nice service, but more on that in a later post.

I got myself a new phone. A HTC HD2 originally running WinMo 6.5 but I'm running Android 2.3.1 on it right now. Good phone with a big screen, much better to surf the net than my old HTC Hero running Android 2.1. Most of my friends and family got themselves new phones as well. All Android and Windows Phone 7 devices. I guess smartphones are now very mainstream.

I put Ubuntu on my mothers computer and she seems to like it very much so far. This gave me confidence that Ubuntu really is far enough for an average user to use daily. I have high hopes for the 11.10 release of Ubuntu. I think the upcoming 11.04 release with the new Unity UI is great but Unity needs a bit more time to mature. I hope that with 11.10 release Unity will truly unleash its power to the masses.

more later ...