This evening I took this Anton Pieck style winterish picture of one of the building complex he designed in Drunen (NL). The pict was edited with GIMP comic filter.
Years ago I started a website dedicated to my motorcycling–travelling, safety, maintenance. For years I was very active maintaining, in later years I didn’t change a thing to it. Still the website in Dutch and English seems to be attractive to visitors. Almost every day one or two people browse around. I think this is amazing!
Over the years I received wonderful emails from all over the world. Not only to say thank you but also asking for help–on secret riding trails, spare parts for and aged Montesa or just and invitaion to pass by when I would visit Canada or Honkong. I’m sorry, I never got off this continent… Back in 1998 I even got a live visitor from the States and I still have good memories chatting, talking Beemer and eating Maryland spiced shrimps the next days!
Once in a while I think of deleting the site. The type of bike is hardly seen on the road anymore, I never converted Dutch guilders to euros and IMO obsolete stuff should be deleted from the net. But really deleting the site? No, I can’t do it. I can’t because there are still people out there that like to read my writings, maybe copy some of my tours in the Belgian Ardennes, France and Spain. The second reason is I started the site back in 1995 and still attracts people.
And I think it is fun to have built a website in the 36k6 modem era that still is on the first page of a search engine when you look for a BMW F650–sweet memory…
When you like please visit my site and see for yourself!
Starting with Linux can be quite a puzzle. There is so much to choose from that new users might get lost. Here I want to help choosing the right sort of Linux so that you actually can start using and appreciating it. I won’t get into the discussion about what distribution (Mint, Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSuse, etc, see distrowatch.com) is best because that is a matter of taste.
Deciding what sort of Linux you can use depends on your hardware and the things you want to do with your computer. Doing resource demanding graphical stuff on a somewhat aged computer will get you frustrated. Even on Linux, hardware will set limitations, even when Linux will perform much better on the same machine than with Windows.
Now Linux comes with different types of desktops. Compare it to the different look and feel of Windows XP, 7, 3.11 or Mac OS. These different desktops — the look and feel — share basic functionality but differ in needed hardware resources. Linux basically comes with four types of desktops that you can choose from depending on your hardware:
- LXDE — bare basic desktop for computers with limited hardware, or limited needed hardware for speeding up the user environment;
- XFCE — basic desktop for computers with standard but modest hardware;
- MATE — extended desktop for regular computers;
- Gnome3, KDE, Unity — desktop for more powerful computers, mainly on the graphical side to to offer a modern, visual attractive working environment.
The beautiful thing about Linux is that you can add almost any software to any of these desktops. So choosing a light desktop like LXDE still makes it possible to use a more demanding graphical program like GIMP. Every mainstream Linux distribution comes with a program to add and remove software that will install all needed resources.
Now hardware requirements differ between desktops and distributions. distrowatch.com is a good starting point browse do the site of a specific distribution and find some requirements.
A different way to see if your computer can run the Linux desktop of your choice is using a Live image of Linux. Most distributions offer downloading a .iso file that you easily can put on a CD or — more practical — a USB stick. This way you can test drive Linux, see how it performs and what it’s like before installing. The great thing is that it will not change anything on your hard disk when only using the Live image.
With unetbootin you can make such a LiveUSB on the fly. Unetbootin comes with pre installed links to several Linux distributions, but it isn’t possible to choose a different desktop with each distro. Luckily unetbootin enables you to select a downloaded .iso file on your harddisk. Instructions for the use of unetbootin and starting Linux from it are given on the site.
After using the LiveUSB Linux version you can choose to install it on your computer. Some distributions ask if you want a dual boot system so you can choose which operating system you want to use on your computer. You also can choose to wipe out all and start using Linux in future. The choice is up to you, but don’t forget to back-up your data before installing Linux on your computer!
It started being fed up with strange behaviour of MS Word at the office. I don’t need to say more because most of us know what I’m talking about ;-) As an alternative I got into LaTeX, a really great environment to make text. Since I am a flex worker, I use several different computers and besides personal user-space is limited.
This is where I discovered MikTex portable. A complete LaTeX environment run from a USB stick. This way I could use LaTeX wherever I wanted without annoying my colleagues and IT department. XP (yes we still use that) for some strange reason makes personal settings on preferred programs affect all users on the system. After MikTex I learned that there is a lot of portable software, including the complete LibreOffice. I only wonder why all portable software I found is Windows only. Apparently Linux and Mac users are more happy with the given solutions on their systems…
Unfortunately a standard USB 2.0 was too slow. Rendering the PDF directly from the Tex document took ages and locked the system. So I bought a 32Gb V3 USB Drive from Verbatim to speed things up. Nice detail on the Verbatim USB is that it explicitly mentions Linux compatibility besides the other platforms! With this USB and portable software I am running the software I need to do the job the way it suits me best. Why bring your own device BYOD when all I need is good software? So Bring Your Own Software is a well working alternative.
Having 32Gb in my pocket I thought why not bring my own operating system as well — BYOOS (not that it is always possible to boot from a USB, but it is also just fun to make it). So I installed Fedora 17 LXDE Live version as well. Now the problem with all files and software on one partition is that the Live system cannot read data from the rest of the same partition. Making two partitions solves this. The filemanager of my portable Fedora correctly mounts the second partition and lets me use and edit files.
All well, but not for the obsolete XP boxes at the office. XP does not recognize the second partition on your USB drive. It only mounts the first one and there is no way the file explorer gives access to the second partition holding my data. Back to the Palimpsest aka ‘Disk’ on my main Fedora machine. First partition with 27Gb for data, second bootable partition with 4Gb for the Live Linux which I installed with 1.5Gb persistent memory so changes are kept with the Live Fedora.
Now this works! I can access my data whenever I like, use my favourite software and demonstrate the beauty of Linux when I want. Life is Great :-)
In my previous post I complained about the absence of open source software for Android. Thinking about it, the answer came in a tweet and blogpost from the FSFE on how to free your Android phone…
Immediately I surfed to f-droid.org and installed the repository. Here you can find a lot of free developed software. Instructions are on the site.
Most of the time I adapt to new technologies in a very early stage, but not for tablets. I really dislike greasy fingers on screens and when keyboards are sold as a ‘must have’ extra, something is wrong with the design. That was until I realized that a tablet — in its smallest form — could be the ultimate pocket computer device.
I really like things digital. Looking up information, keeping works for reference and making small notes or calculations. A few years ago I bought the Acer Aspire One netbook with Linux and 8Gb SSD. It really is a marvel doing things remote, but there is no way taking a netbook with you without a small rucksack. Tablet users do, probably only iPadders to expose themselves as happy-upper-avangard fruit lovers. I’d like to keep my hands free…
This summer Samsung introduced the Galaxy S 4.2 WiFi. In fact it is a smartphone without the phone. After playing with the thing and weighing alternatives I bought the box.
For me the Galaxy 4.2 is the ultimate pocket size computer. It is small but the screen is large enough to use it well. Making notes, reading things and even booking a flight with a free wifi access point goes very well. With an extra 16Gb mini SD I’m able to take my reference books and funnies with me.
Apps are everywhere. In fact there are so many that it is hard to make out which one suits best. I managed to find some very useful and well coded software: K-9 Mail, Jota Text Editor, Explorer for file management, MapDroyd and SkEye Planetarium. Only finding a good spreadsheed keeps me busy.
MapDroyd and SkEye are real marvels. MapDroyd has downloadable maps in a compressed OpenStreetMap format. Activating the GPS shows your actual location quite well. All without the need for a wifi connection as opposed to Andriod/Google Maps. SkEye shows the names of stars and constellations while holding your box against the sky. When turned the heavens on the screen turn in pace, so side by side you can explore the stars. Great Fun!
It is remarkable how all these small programs have such functionality. The essential pieces of software are just a few megabyte, the complete map of the Netherlands takes just 263Mb on my 5Gb SD card.
Android also has its downsides. It comes with a bundle of pre installed software that is not removable for the average user. IMO this is a waste of disk space and freedom. I’m used to the freedom of choice with my Linux Fedora box at home, what I don’t need goes in the bin. Now my Galaxy is bloated with Email, Gmail, Maps, ChatON, Google+, QuickOffice and a football game i’ll never use. If this software is really free, why did Google lock it? If Samsung gives me the football and racing game for free, why didn’t they put it in a Galaxy-user-only repository so I have my own choice?
The second thing is that the Android market is cluttered with limited-use and advertized apps. Really, a spreadsheet with only 10 rows is of no use. Apparently a lot of people want to make a buck. Where is the fun of coding as it is in all the repos with the desktop Linux distributions? Off course people have to earn a living and when coding is your thing why not selling your software. My sole discovery is that really free and opensource software is a missing dimension in the Android world. Opposed to the vast Linux repos and Linux base of Android this is a strange thing to me. I really wonder how other tablet users get their productivity software — or are these things only Just for Fun?
After all I’m very pleased with my Galaxy pocket computer. Finally I can take my digital stuff that does not fit in my brain with me. But the Android world IMO has too much of a Windows behaviour powered by a Linux kernel…
Before I even knew of biketrial I once in a while rode and ride my Montesa Cota 311 — see one of my first posts. This Old Lady is from 1992 and has just seen a mere 1554 kilometres. But some things wear over time and not over kliks. So I brought both front legs to a nearby repearshop to have them well done. New fork seals and fresh oil. Because the old seals leaked the brake pads were oiled all over. Luckily a nearby mopped dealer had some of the same pads. Great that some things don’t change over time — exept that the brakes on my Montesa back then were something very innovative compared to the drum brakes used before, and are now standard equipment of 50cc supermotard moppeds.
Anyway, my Montesa was ready for a sorty! Here just standing on the nearby banks of the river Meuse.
When I started trial riding on my Montesa I surfed the web for nice pictures. That’s when I encountered the Scottish Six Days Trial event SSDT. Six days riding though the open field with natural obstacles to challenge riding skills. Unfortunately here in the Netherlands I don’t have these surroundings nearby…
Last september I went to the Belgian Ardennes to the village of Stavelot — one of my all time favourite campsites. Rough terrain, out-season very quiet and allowance to make a campfire. That beside. But I took my Monty biketrial to play around with. The brook that borders the campsite provided a wonderful trial zone! Slippery and rolling rocks hiding under shallow streaming waters and refreshing splashes to cool my sore legs and arms — I still practice still too less!
The result was superb! The Eau Rouge maybe is not the World tour Zone but suits me fine. My girlfriend took some nice pictures and one of them made it to the Picture of the Month on the Monty site (week 57).
I asked around if this way of biketrial riding is still common these days but it isn’t. Great for the exposure our sport are man made Zones so that spectators can watch close by. However… on the Monty site I found a video of Dani Comas practicing in the Catalan Pyrenees riding upstream though a mountain stream. Great! It still exists! Enjoy the vid!
These days this phrase is all over the place. Originally stated by one of the largest search engines, the warning in this motto seems to be true all over the Net and not only for these web-searchers…
First of all Leaking — I won’t use the W-word — is really hot. Recent Leaking issues IMHO show the real face of people and instances we have to deal with in everyday life. Of course some hidden agenda can be useful to reach your goals but when following such agenda makes you do things you say you want to fight there is something terribly wrong. Freedom seems to be a strange commodity…
One of the other evils of today is companies fighting each other. Especially on the mobile scene the big ones claim their rights in large numbers trying to obstruct competition in stead of making something useful and flashy. In this case large numbers points to the large numbers of companies as well as to the many things they claim to be theirs. Takeover and pull the plug without reason is also something strange under the Sun. Why do some have to be number one when they are already the biggest?
The last one for now — I don’t want to be grumpy — concerns the office that uses the above motto most. Can it be trustworthy when one single company gathers all there is on the Net just to serve you? Can we trust someone who claims to take pictures of our streets but ‘accidentally’ collects our mails and passwords? And does it again? Maybe I should restate the motto to ‘don’t be Stupid’ to make you (yes, YOU) aware that this world has all too many experience with firms and larger bodies that know all about you and use it eventually for their purposes.
So my humble advice is Don’t be evil!
- Share your ideas to build a better world together — if this is too hard you can start building good software this way;
- Act responsible, be respectful to people with different thoughts — in fact they might enrich yours!
- Don’t stay silent when things go wrong, help each other to improve this world.