Monthly Archives: August 2009

Leave the keys under the mat…

Greetings from my newly independent (and 100% open source) desk top. Linux is running fantastic, and it’s even fun. My 6 year old desk top runs like new with it’s completely open source brains. That said, I begin to wonder about the future of open source. With Google weighing in on the OS game, the idea that open source is the future is certainly appealing. There are some issues to contend with though.
Open software certainly has some things going for it. You get a basic and functional piece of software, as well the ability to customize to your own uses. There are tons of add-ons and extensions to make you OS or browser into what ever you want. The point is that you have tons of people trying to improve the basic functionality with the encouragement of software developer, to various degrees of success. However, you have to have at least a basic understanding of how the software works to even participate.
There’s a down side to openness. The small percentage of computer users who have embraced the open platforms have been playing nice. They’ve enjoyed a nearly nonexistent threat level for the same reason Mac users have. There simply aren’t enough out there to make a virus or worm worthwhile. However, as Mac found out not too long ago, the threat is still there.
Another thing I’ve discovered is that Firefox has some amazing extensions out there, and most of them are created by people in their spare time. One extension that I absolutely loved had lapsed out of date because the developer simply stopped working on it. As software evolves into newer versions, an effort needs to be made to make it easy for 3rd party developers to update their creations. Firefox does a great job of releasing beta and release candidate versions into the wild, and this tactic should work well for other open source systems. Android and Chrome haven’t been around long enough, and I’m too new to Linux, to know if they do the same.
In my field on employment Linux is quickly becoming the preferred OS. The reason being that it’s flexible, reliable, and totally adaptable. Open source evolves and changes very quickly to meet the needs of it’s users. However, in this era of IT overlords, the thought of having a constantly evolving OS to keep up with would give them night mares. They need need to know that when they finally do spend the millions of dollars to update the company’s computer infrastructure, that they won’t have to do it again for a few years. In thirteen years with my company, I’ve seen this update happen three times.
For open source to succeed as a movement it needs to be easy, rock solid reliable, constantly supported, and have today’s versions be relevant years down the road. This isn’t the kind of thing you can keep doing for free. My question is, do we want to become wide spread? I kind of like having a system that’s unique. My Window’s friends see me as an experimenter, while my Mac friends just don’t understand it at all.
It’s kind of like being a “Car Guy”, but with computers. I get to open up in it’s engine and tool around. It’s not for everybody. For that reason, there will always be Microsoft and Apple.

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Geek is the new black…

I like to think that I walked between worlds when I was in school. Not that I’m some sort of spectral wanderer. Just that I managed to associate with a wide variety of cliques. I played soccer and biked, was in orchestra, was in the smart classes, knew my way around electronics, and of course was into sci-fi (not sy-fy). Of all these worlds, the one I got the most grief for was sci-fi.
Well now things have changed. The two most most popular characters for the young are a wizard and a vampire. The newest Star Trek movie was universally agreed upon to be good. Holiday weekends are now celebrated with cook outs, beer, and a comic book movie. Amazingly, I hear the word “Frak” at least once a day, and not from my lips.
What changed? Well the geeks of my generation are now in charge of everything. We own the movies, tv, book publishing, and the web. Geeks have transformed the media into what they want to see. Sure, there are a lot of other fine offering on the table. Things like chick flicks and suspense thriller, but it’s the geeky stuff that makes money.
Geeks have convinced teenage girls that not only is it OK to date a vampire, but it’s probably better than their current boyfriends. Geeks have parodied the attractive. The drop dead gorgeous guys and girls in a movie are there to be made fun of or made into object lessons. Our heroes are now the technologically inclined FBI agents or the scientist who read a lot of comics.
In the last Die Hard movie, saving the country came down to holding off the bad guys while the geek fixed the computer. The geek is always the one who read somewhere about the weird stuff happening to the characters. Geeks have saved us from alien invasion, asteroids, plagues, serial killers, vampires, and zombies, and we paid $8 a head to watch. The conversion continues. My wife is now firmly in the grip of two geek oriented shows.
What now? I say fly your geek flag high. Watch the shows your kids are watching. You’ll be as cool as the popular kids. Say the word “Frak”. It conveys the same sense as “Fuck”, plus it confuses the uninitiated.
Enjoy it while it lasts. The cycle will continue, and geek pride will go the way of hammer pants and hair bands. In the mean time, I suggest a few geek oriented items for your amusement. “Leverage” on TNT is about con artists. “Warehouse 13” is a steampunk looking version of the X-files on Sci-Fi (I can’t bring myself to use Sy-Fy yet). Then there’s also “The Strain” by Guillermo Del Torro and Chuck Hogan. Think vampire, zombies, and parasites all mixed up. It’s worth the read, but will probably end up on film or TV.