Archive for MISC

A Long Absence and Excuses

To all those that still occasionally visit this blog, hello! It’s been quite some time since I posted an update, and I want to let everybody know what’s going on.

Not Quitting

First and foremost, I just want to let anybody that cares know that I’m not planning on quitting this blog, at least at the present moment. There has been a long absence, and I apologize for that. There is a reason for that, if a particularly poor reason.

Motivation

So, why haven’t I been writing? Well, there’s lots of excuses that I could give, but the big reason is I just haven’t been motivated to write. I’m trying to get that picked back up, but it’s been difficult. It’s not that I haven’t been doing anything. I’ve been spending more time with my family, which I really enjoy. The importance of that was really driven home for me last fall when my Dad passed away in October. It’s so weird that when someone is available to answer questions, you rarely have any. It’s only after you’ve lost their attention that questions rise to the surface.

Stop Whining Stone!

I don’t mean for this to be a whiny article full of “Woe is me” type crap, but I do want to give everybody just a little bit of context as to what’s going on. I do miss the interaction that I got with people because of this blog, so I’m anxious to start doing it again soon. I’m hoping very soon. I’ve just got to get over that hump.

Living In Interesting Times

Actually, this post isn’t going to be about Linux. I’m sure everybody has heard the proverb “may you live in interesting times”. Well, this last couple months, that’s how I’d describe what’s been going on with me. You won’t see much interesting showing up on the blog because while there has been a lot of interesting things going on in the Linux world, I haven’t had a lot of time to delve into it. Let’s start at the top.

Kaitlyn Elizabeth

Late last year, we found out that my wife and I were expecting our third child. We couldn’t have been more excited. Everything went great until 27 weeks, 6 days when my wife went into labor (for the first time).

For those of you that aren’t up on all the details of pregnancy, 40 weeks a pregnancy. A baby is considered “premature” up until they’re 37 weeks along. 28 weeks is very early.

We spent a couple nights in the hospital, and the doctors and nurses managed to stop the labor…. mostly. My wife was put on bed rest and given shower and bathroom privileges. She wasn’t to leave the bed for any other reason. She was started on medication to keep the labor at bay as well. Because she was on full bed rest, I got the job of taking care of our other two children (and Amy).

At 32 weeks, she couldn’t take the medication anymore because it could cause issues with the baby beyond that point. I think she made it a full day before going back into full swing labor.

This is a reoccurring pattern at this point. We were in the delivery room 6 or 7 different times over the next 5 weeks. We were sent home, and sometimes admitted. Amy spent a full week in the hospital at one point. It was really starting to take a toll on both Amy and I mentally and physically.

The real trick here was despite the fact that Amy was pretty much “in labor” this whole time, because the baby was premature the doctors were unwilling to “help things along”. Finally, 37 weeks arrived. Amy was in the hospital at the time, and the doctors finally agreed that the time had arrived. It didn’t take long before we had a healthy baby girl.

Cancer

We were actually in the hospital after Amy had gone into labor at the 28 week mark when I got a call from my brother. My Dad had gone into the hospital for a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI henceforth) and the doctors had detected Cancer cells in his bladder.

My Dad had a bout with Cancer several years ago in his Prostate, and it was thought to have been at least pushed to remission. These new Cancer cells implied otherwise. Of course there were tests, but Dad only opted for the non-intrusive ones. This November he’ll be turning 90, and he’s of the mind that this round of Cancer will either kill him quickly, or something else will. Don’t agree with him, and I think that he should be looking into his treatment options after he finds out what the source of these cells is, but it’s his call to make and not mine.

Alzheimer’s

The news of my Dad’s Cancer had barely stopped echoing in my ears before I got another call. This time it was from my mother. Things had been… slipping for my mother for a while now. She was having a harder and harder time remembering things. She’d gone to several doctors and none of them found anything wrong with her.

Finally, she went to a neurologist who gave her the diagnosis. She has Alzheimer‘s.

It’s not terribly far along at this point, but it does create some serious issues, the largest of which is caring for my Dad.

See, while my Dad is going to be 90 this November, my Mom isn’t even 70 yet. Most days Mom doesn’t know what day it is, let alone if she’s completed basic tasks, like eating or taking medication. My brother and I have started calling her twice a day (morning and evening) to remind her to do both. We have to stay on the phone with her or else she’ll hang up the phone and get distracted by something and forget what she was doing. My Dad has never been one to complain, which is actually starting to be a problem. My Mom will forget that they haven’t eaten, and just not. Dad won’t say anything. This has been going on long enough that he’s lost over 60lbs.

Interesting Times

There’s not really an ending to this story. Not yet anyway. The proverb says “may you live in interesting times”, but “interesting” could mean so many things, both good and bad. The last couple months have brought me both in bulk. Interesting times? To say the least.

 

Attention Hospitals: Use Linux!

Use Linux!I’ve been pretty quiet lately, and there’s a good reason for this. One Wednesday, my 28 week pregnant wife went into labor. She went in for a checkup because her Braxton Hicks contractions (false contractions) were really bothering her, and she was informed that they weren’t exactly Braxton Hicks. She was admitted the the hospital and started on Magnesium to stop the contractions (28 weeks is really early for those that are unaware) and some steroids to speed lung development in the baby if the Magnesium didn’t work. Fortunately, the Magnesium has seemed to do it’s job, and she’s feeling as well as a 28 week pregnant woman is suppose to feel. They’re releasing her from the hospital today if all goes according to plan, which the nurses and doctors all assure us is what they expect.

During this time, my wife and I have managed to turn our little hospital room into a small computer lab. We’ve got 3 laptops, two tablets, and two smart phones. The hospital is nice enough to provide us with wifi for our Internet surfing needs.

Now that my nerves have settled down a bit from the thought of having a baby that early, I feel the urge to point something out. I feel a little uncomfortable when I see all your medical equipment hooked up to computers running Windows XP.

Yea, Windows XP.

Hospitals, you should really not be using Windows XP for two reasons that I, as a patient, find very important.

Stability

We’re dealing with medical equipment here, so it’s important that it’s available when it needs to be available. While the Windows running medical equipment wasn’t absolutely essential to my wife’s recovery, I would hate to hear of a situation where something catastrophic happened and it resulted in the loss of life. You don’t want to be suffering from a BSOD when the D could be quite literal. I don’t even mean that to sound funny. This is a serious situation, and an unstable operating system like Windows XP could literally cost a patient everything. For me and my loved ones, Windows XP is not nearly up to par. Use Linux! Please.

Security

Beyond the obvious stability issues, Windows XP can’t be counted on for security. I understand that this is medical equipment, and that the doctors and nurses aren’t exactly surfing Facebook on it, but if the patches aren’t kept up to date, they might as well be. I recall at one point in my career that an unpatched Windows XP box would survive less than a minute on the Internet before it was infected with something. Less than a minute!

I understand that Microsoft has fixed most (if not all) of the issues that caused that short infection Window, but new things are popping up for Windows machines literally daily. I don’t want a system with all the medical information of me or a loved one on it to have all the security of a rickety screen door. Windows XP is not what I would consider the peak of secure systems. All it takes is one infected computer inside the network, and hundreds if not thousands of patients information could be floating around on the Internet. This wouldn’t be possible if hospitals just used a system that was less vulnerable to infection than their patients. Please, use Linux!

Available Options

OK, I know that some of the software that they’re using may not work in Linux, but I think my concerns are valid ones. Further, with as messed up as the medical system is in the United States, do you seriously want to throw in licensing concerns and costs to Microsoft?

I brief glance around the web showed me that there are some options available, and if there’s some pressure to move to a more stable and secure environment, I’m sure some of these software companies would comply. There’s nothing for them to gain as a company by not supporting more stable and secure environments.

If you work for a hospital in the IT department, please look into these options. If you don’t work in a hospital and you’re just in one, or if you’re non-IT staff, please ask your IT staff to look into these options:

Speaking for myself and my family, I would feel a lot safer if hospitals ditched Windows entirely. Please, use Linux!

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Linux Desktop

This is NOT a minimal DesktopHow often do you stop to look at your desktop? I can honestly say, I look at my desktop more or less depending on what OS I’m using. Is that weird?

Scientific Study

Today at work, I received a new project. That’s not terribly relevant other that it’s what spurred a revelation. While thinking about how I was going to go about solving a particular problem, I suddenly realized that I was staring blankly at my desktop.

My computer at work is a crappy Windows 7 box that has the hardest time with the most basic tasks. For me to say that I don’t like it would be an understatement, but today I noticed something different. My desktop is a huge mess. There are literally icons and folders scattered everywhere.

Why is this interesting? Well, it’s probably not in all honesty, but this is not typical behavior for me. I usually keep things pretty pristine. I like the minimal desktop look, and having icons and folders scattered is not minimal. After some brief cleanup, and was walking to get lunch, and as I walked through a row of cubicles, I was noticing other people’s desktops too. To a person, they looked like mine. Disaster areas. Garbage scattered hither and yon. Every Windows desktop seemed to be that way.

Finally my day ends, and I’m able to sit down at my home computer for a second. I breathe a sigh of relief when I see my spotless Linux desktop happily waiting for me to do something. Ironically, that something happened to be digging through my old screen shots. As it turns out, every screen shot I’ve ever taken of Windows is piles of icons. Everywhere. Every screen shot I’ve taken of Linux is neatly organized with a fairly minimal desktop.

Does using Linux make me more organized? My “Scientific Study” says Yes! And when I say “Scientific” I mean “Not Scientific at all”. Seriously, this “study” ranks right up there with studies funded by Microsoft “proving” that Windows is more secure or less expensive than Linux. We’re talking utter crap here.

The Question

Still, it’s interesting to me that I work so much differently when I use Linux vs. when I use Windows. Is it more than just me? Go back through your screen shots if you have them. Are you more organized when you’re using Linux than Windows?

My Desktop Gallery

Welcoming FOSS Advocates!

EDIT: THEY’RE LIVE!

Go check them out at http://fossadvocates.org

———————————————————————————————————————————————————-

FOSS Advocates

 

Today on Google+, a good friend of mine had a big announcement. Since he put it in better words than I can conjure, I’m just going to steal his post and paste it here.

WE’RE READY TO LAUNCH!

Hey guys,

Myself and the rest of the FOSS Advocates team are very proud to announce that the site is pretty much ready to launch. So we have decided to officially launch the site tomorrow at 1500 UTC.

What we currently have
So currently the site isn’t much more than a blog. We have aggregated open source content from around the web, as well as some vanilla content from myself and the rest of the team.

However, we’re not going to remain this way for long, and we took this deliberate decision to launch as we are now so that our readers have something tangible they can visit whilst we’re still working away in the background.

Think of this first release as a kind of open beta. We’re happy with what we have currently, be we’re still working very hard to actively develop the site to make it the awesome place we fully expect it to be.

What’s next?
Once we’ve launched we’re going to immediately start work on phase 2 of the project, which is the community. We’re going to be adding a “social network” to the site (I hate that term, but it’s basically what it is). Were members can engage with on another, share information, and generally “hang out”.

We’re also going to add community forums so that you guys have everything you need to mozy on down and have a good chat to one another. The forums will be a place were you can publicly talk about anything you like that’s related to FOSS (and even some stuff that isn’t). New projects, support, emerging technologies, and general chit chat. It’s a community forum, so you guys set the subjects!

Once this is done we’re going to have a little break and enjoy the fruits of our labour. Me and the rest of the team will be regulars in the forums, and in the community, so you will no doubt get to know us better there.

Once the community is established and it’s nicely ticking along, we will start development on phase three of our project. At this point in time though guys, it’s top secret, but let me assure you that it’s going to be epic! We don’t want anyone else stealing our idea.

Let’s just say that if you’re a project leader, you gonna want to see this. We’ll leave it there for now I think. ;-)

How can I help out?
Once the sites launched we’re going to need your help. In true community spirit, if you have any
feedback, then please contact us on hello@fossadvocates.org- this goes straight to our inboxes so
you will receive a response.

As well as this, you can volunteer to help us out, either by assisting with moderation here on the G+ Community, or by being a guest author on the blog.

If you have any recommendations to interesting FOSS RSS feeds, then by all means run them by us. We’ll take a look, and add them to the site is we think they’re a good fit.

Thank you
Me and the rest of the team still have a lot of work ahead of us. But we’re excited about FOSS Advocates, and we hope you are too. Please feel free to re-share this announcement here on G+, and on other social networks.

If you have a blog yourself, and want to feature FOSS Advocates then please feel free to do so. If you want a direct quote then email us using the address above.

Thanks guys, spread the word, and we look forward to your feedback on the site tomorrow!

–Kev and the rest of the FOSS Adv team

So, you heard it here second. Go and check out http://www.fossadvocates.org tomorrow at 1500 UTC. Check out what the guys over there are offering. It only gets better from here.

Stagnant Pools are Unhealthy For You

Stagnant PoolStagnant pools are unhealthy for you. This is true in nature just as it is for your mind.

Once in a distant era known only by a few as “The 90s” I joined an archaic communications medium called a “BBS“. At the time, the Internet wasn’t available to me. Yes, I’m really that old. I mainly dug around through software download areas because software was hard to find at the time without buying it.

Let’s stop there just to say that I’m not talking about pirating software. I’m talking about Freeware/Shareware. Without the Internet, it was next to impossible to get.

One day, I happened upon a forum that was set aside purely for operating system wars. Brilliant idea on the part of the Admins to give people a place to yell at each other about OSs so they didn’t do it elsewhere. At the time, it was pretty much Mac vs. Windows/DOS.

I really enjoyed myself in there. I fought with people day in and day out, sometimes making 20 to 30 posts a day. I was there for years. Finally, around 2001 or 2002 I moved on. My full time job was making a a forty hour work week look like a luxury, and I also started dating my future wife during that time. We’ll just say that I had more interesting things on my plate.

More than a decade passes.

I realize this is a long introduction to my point, but bear with me.

I was digging through some old files on my computer when I ran across the settings file for the BBS I used to visit. Intrigued, I grabbed the software and fired it up. Amazingly enough, my account still worked! I navigated the old familiar menus and found myself back in the forum that had used up so much of my time.

Time had not been kind to this BBS. The Internet had stripped away most of the casual users and left it with only the hard core people. Those people were actually the same people that had been in there a decade earlier.

They were still there!

Well, some of them were.

The few people that remained were all Mac users. Every single one. They’d been sitting there for over 10 years not being challenged by anybody. Always getting a pat on the back for saying what ever they were saying because everybody always agreed with them.

Finally: The Stagnant Pool

In talking briefly to them in a couple of posts it became apparent that some ideas that were debatable had been accepted into the realm of fact simply because no one stated that it wasn’t. I’ve seen this kind of behavior elsewhere too, and not just in technology. I’ve seen it all over, from small towns to politics.

Maybe people do this because it’s more comfortable? I honestly don’t know. They surround themselves with people who agree with them and force out the people who don’t. They never have their ideas challenged, and I think they’re the worse for it. They live in their enclosed little pool where no new ideas get in, ever. It doesn’t take long before it becomes foul and rank.

It’s not wrong to hang out with people who agree with you, as long as that’s not all you do. People need to talk to people who disagree with them. Find out why. You may not ever come to an agreement, but you may on occasion decide your initial position was wrong. You may convince them that their’s was. The discussion may only solidify your position. I’m the first one to admit that I’m far from perfect. I’m wrong, and when I’m wrong people point it out. I’m glad that they do because I become better because of it. It’s something that should be worked for, and it’s absolutely not something to be afraid of.

Looking Back…

My Dad was born in 1923. He was the 3rd child, and the oldest boy. He had one younger brother and two older sisters. He grew up in California and Washington States. He had jobs like being a hired hand in an apple orchard. I think he swept floors at one point. He wasn’t royalty by anyone’s standards. I’d say that his upbringing was pretty normal for the times.

I sometimes ask my Dad to tell me stories about when he was a kid. I get all sorts of crazy tales. Riding his bike down the biggest hill in town. Shocking people by hooking up a coil to the frame of his car and waiting for people to bump into it. Running away from home for a whole summer to work the next town down the road, only to come back home for school. All those stories bring a smile to his face. He rarely tells one without laughing.

The stories suddenly dry up around 1941. He would have been 18 years old at the time, and the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. On December 8th, the United States of America officially joined World War 2. It wasn’t long after that my Dad joined the Navy.

He and many of his friends. Not all of them made it back.

There are very few stories from that time of his life. I know he was stationed in the Philippines for at least part of his stint. I know he was on some of the naval aircraft that flew in combat during that time. I know he was on at least two aircraft that were shot down. He also was a aircraft mechanic for at least part of it. If he talks about these years, it’s rarely with a smile on his face. Quite often, he has to pause when he remembers a particular individual. More stories than not have tragic endings.

This year, my Dad will be 89 years old, and to this day those memories bring him sadness the likes of which I have never known, and hope never to understand.

What I do know is this. Tonight, when I tucked my own two sons into bed, warm, safe, and secure, I owe my Dad and thousands more individuals like him a debt of gratitude that can never be paid.

All I can do is say “Thank you” for all that you’ve given. Thank you for keeping my family safe and free. We don’t say it nearly enough.

Government Grants – SPAM

I usually don’t post this kind of thing, as it has nothing to do with Linux or Operating Systems or really anything useful, but it made me laugh, so I’m posting it.

I received this (only moderately edited) email the other day.

Hiya Mike US President is certainly allowing Government Grants for helping familys in your neighborhood in order to energize this economy. Give it a look <SPAM URL> won’t pass up. It certainly can’t last huge.

Yea, that one really inspires trust. Seriously?