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Make Your Computer Easier, Faster and Smarter, for Free

Posted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:12 am
by editor
Linux isn't scary any more.

If you're not using Linux, please do yourself a favor, and look for my new article in the Reading Room.

Re: Make Your Computer Easier, Faster and Smarter, for Free

Posted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 10:16 pm
by iamfreeru2
I have both windows and Mint KDE14 and I absolutely love Mint. I use it whenever I want to get online, and I use windows for other tasks. I may even get rid of windows altogether at some point. The problem is, Linux still does not have all the programs I use with windows. It is getting better, but not quite there yet. The biggest problem is, most programers do not want to create prgrams for Linux because there is no money in it. That's too bad. :( Unfortunately, everything is commerce based (Babylon).

Re: Make Your Computer Easier, Faster and Smarter, for Free

Posted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 9:22 am
by editor
I run a business, and use Linux exclusively, running a wide variety of applications. If you'll give me some particulars as to what types of things you're still doing with Windows, I may be able to give you some suggestions.

Re: Make Your Computer Easier, Faster and Smarter, for Free

Posted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 1:53 pm
by iamfreeru2
I decided to install Mint 14 Cinnamon and go to linux exclusively on my PC. The Cinnamon has better features and it looks like it has all the apps I need, so far. I have a laptop with Windows 7 on it and I will keep it that way for now. I am having to learn how to use some of the apps and to make them my default applications in Mint, but it's not a problem. Almost have the OS the way I want it now. I also like the workspace 1 and 2 in Cinnamon. :D

Re: Make Your Computer Easier, Faster and Smarter, for Free

Posted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:24 pm
by editor
That's great, iamfreeru2. I know you're going to be happy with it.

I keep a Windows partition on most of my machines, even though I never use it. Once in awhile, though seldom these days, something will arise where I have no choice. Configuring an AT&T DSL modem used to be one example, though I think there's a workaround now. But if you have problems with broadband service and call tech support, you'd better either know a lot about your problem, or run Windows while you're talking with the technician. He will freak out when you tell him you're using Linux, and probably offer very little help. I've sized my Windows partition down to 20G, and then I just don't think about it any more.

The choice of desktop environment is a personal preference. Isn't it cool you have the choice? I prefer KDE on my work machines, but I use Mate on my netbook and my livingroom entertainment center. Mate, IIRC, is based on Gnome2, whereas Cinnamon is based on Gnome3. Since there's very little difference in appearance between Mate and Cinnamon, I went with Mate because I figured it would run a little faster.

I use 4 virtual destops (the pager) usually. Sometimes if I'm working on a really big project, I bump it up to 6. I have a monitor plugged into my laptop, which gives me 2 screens. Four, or six desktops, each with 2 screens, is a lot of screen real estate.

A couple years ago a guy who was working for me bought a new laptop with Windows 7 on it. He came into my office with a big grin on his face, and told me how thrilled he was with this "new" feature in Windows 7-- virtual desktops. I let him tell me all about it, and then I told him I'd been using them in Linux/KDE for 14 years. I got a big laugh out of that, as you can imagine. I couldn't get along without them.

Re: Make Your Computer Easier, Faster and Smarter, for Free

Posted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:38 pm
by iamfreeru2
The wife uses Windows on her laptop and does not want to change so having Windows is not a problem. As far as speed, Mint is far superior to Windows. It is lightening fast comparatively. I have a friend that has Mint Cinnamon as well, and he loves his. Also compared to Windows, Linux is very much more detailed. The tutorials are acceptional.

Free Linux Training

Posted: Sat May 03, 2014 7:42 am
by editor
Linux Foundation to Build Massive Open Online Course Program with edX, Increase Access to Linux Training for All
By linuxfoundationblank - March 6, 2014 - 6:01am

... [excerpt] ...

As Linux has become the fabric of computing, demand for talent to support it has skyrocketed. For example, according to the 2014 Linux Jobs Report, nine in 10 hiring managers are hiring Linux pro’s in the next six months. And, while talent isn’t bounded by geography, sometimes access to advanced Linux training has been limited. Employers are seeking Linux professionals in a market where not enough exist, while professionals struggle to find affordable, accessible training opportunities to advance their careers.

The Linux Foundation and edX are partnering to develop a MOOC program that will help address this issue by making basic Linux training materials available to all for free. Previously a $2,400 course, Introduction to Linux will be the first class available as a MOOC and will be free to anyone, anywhere. The Linux Foundation is among a new group of member organizations edX announced today who will contribute courses to the platform.

EdX’s MOOC’s are an increasingly popular way to provide for unlimited participation and open access to learning material to people anywhere in the world via the web. These programs also provide interactive users forums where students and professors can build communities, similar to the way in which the Linux community collaborates. MOOCs have recently generated enrollments for individual classes of 60,000 or more students.

“Our mission is to advance Linux and that includes ensuring we have a talent pool of Linux professionals,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation. “To widen that talent pool and give more people access to the opportunities in the Linux community and IT industry, we are making our training program more accessible to users worldwide. We are partnering with the leader in MOOCs to enable this access.”

“Linux is the world’s largest collaborative development project, and people everywhere want to understand how it works and how to tap into that massive community to advance their careers and general understanding of how technology today is built,” said Anant Agarwal, edX president. “Like edX, Linux is a non-profit, open source initiative, and we are pleased to partner with The Linux Foundation to make their basic learning materials accessible to more people around the globe.”

Read more:

Re: Make Your Computer Easier, Faster and Smarter, for Free

Posted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:49 pm
by editor
I had an experience yesterday I've got to share with you. This is going to be something of a rant. It relates not only to security, but also productivity.

It begins a few weeks ago, when my daughter's church group started a project. Half a dozen bible stories were selected. Children split off into groups, and each one took one of the stories. Their assignment was to script a short play which told the important parts of the story.

They could make a serious drama, a comedy, or anywhere in between. Costumes, makeup, set design, etc., were all at a minimum. The idea was for the kids to put time into learning the stories. They meet once a week, and so they had at most three days to work together.

Each group was to make a video of their play. Last night was the showing of the videos.

There were six videos. Most were about five minutes long; a couple approached ten. The entire event contained less than 45 minutes of video.

Everyone brought in their videos on DVD. Some were saved in MPG2 format, some in MP4. A couple, like ours, were actually authored in DVD format.

A member had a laptop computer connected to a projector, which should have been all they needed. The problem was the laptop was running Microsoft Windows.

Here's where I need to take a quick step back and explain that I knew this would be the case. I hardly ever use Windows for anything, but I wanted to be sure our DVD would run on the church's equipment. So before leaving home, I booted our computer into Windows, popped in the DVD, and... Spent the next ten minutes trying to figure out how to make the DVD play. I started with the Windows Media Center. The user interface took me down one dead end after another. Finally, in frustration, I popped the DVD out, and back in again. The screen turned black, and after a few moments the DVD started playing on its own. Why it didn't do that the first time remains a mystery.

So much for the flashback, now back in church. The show started at 7pm. The projector came on, the lights dimmed, and the first DVD was inserted into the laptop.

Along with everyone else, I watched while the operator, the same guy who owned this laptop, opened Windows Media Center and proceeded to click on the same dead-end links I had done myself, only a few hours earlier.

I recognized those links well, since I had seen them so recently. He was making what appeared to be logical choices, only to meet a dead end every time. It took him about ten minutes to get the first video to play, and I know he wasn't sure exactly what he had done to make it work.

The second video should have been easy, but it wasn't. In fact, he failed to make it run at all. He ended up bringing in a cart with a TV, which had a built-in DVD player. The screen was too small for the room, and the sound was tinny, but he finally got another video going, so the show could go on.

Of course, as I've told you, not all the videos could be played that way, so a return to the drama of the laptop was inevitable.

I'll spare you the details, except to say there was a similar delay between every video. The show lasted until after 8:30pm; more than an hour and a half to play 45 minutes worth of video. The oddest thing to me though, was this: No one seemed to think this was unusual.

When I had run into trouble playing the DVD on my own computer, I had cursed Windows' unintuitive user interface, but I had also chalked it up to me being unfamiliar with Windows-- for the past fifteen years I've used Linux.

This is just one more example which illustrates that even people who use Windows all the time cannot make it work reliably.

Most people use Windows on their home computers, and are unaware they have a choice for a better alternative. This is why so many people are not surprised when a 45 minute show takes 1-1/2 hours to complete. They all believe this is what they should expect when computers are involved. The blame the computer, when they should be blaming the operating system.

Windows has one choice for a user interface (desktop environment). Well, two choices, now that Windows 8 sports the failed "Metro" interface. Linux has many choices for desktop environments, all of them easier to use than Windows.

My personal choice is KDE. When I insert a DVD into my system running KDE, I get a menu in the lower-right, offering me several choices. With a single click, I can play a DVD, open a file manager showing the files on the disk, or select from several other useful choices.

The interface is so easy to use that I'm very certain the man operating the laptop at church could have used it to play all the videos back to back, in 45 minutes. Even though he had never before seen the interface, I'm sure he could have done it without a single snag.

What's more, within the 45 minutes wasted on this one event, I could have installed Linux on his laptop, set up so he had a menu choice to boot into either Linux or Windows. Within a few days of using such a system, he would be questioning the sanity of ever booting into Windows again.

As an aside, I don't know what software the other five groups used to edit their videos. They are all Windows users, so I assume they used editing software they purchased. My daughter edited her group's video using Openshot, a free program available for Linux.

Most of the programs running on Linux are free. Linux itself is free. Free as in "free beer" and also free as in "freedom". For most programs, the source code is also open.

More and more people are discovering a better alternative in computing. Why do I think this is important enough to write about?

There are plenty of more important issues out there. Our friend Prophesy wrote about one of them already today.

Computers are not so important in and of themselves. Neither are the operating systems they run on. These things are tools which we use to get our work done. That work might involve our livelihood, our home budget or, as I'm doing now, the spreading of ideas.

Tools should help us perform our work more efficiently. They should not hinder us, and get in the way.

In my experience, Microsoft Windows gets in the way more often than it helps. If you're not using Linux, do yourself a big favor and give it a try.

If you need help, begin with my article here:

Re: Make Your Computer Easier, Faster and Smarter, for Free

Posted: Thu Aug 27, 2015 12:03 am
by editor
Editor's note: Anyone still using Microsoft Windows is either braindead, or is not paying attention. While reading the article below, please keep these facts in mind:
  1. These emails come from Microsoft's server. So presumably Microsoft logs and keeps all the noted information for EVERY USER.
  2. Edward Snowden has already presented evidence that Microsoft collaborates with the NSA...
  3. So it's not only parents who are receiving this information. But, and this is IMPORTANT-- when Microsoft sends out this information about childrens' use of the computer, it sends the info via email. Email is unencrypted and insecure. It is the equivalent of a postcard-- any amateur hacker can easily read it. This is not only an invasion of privacy, it is an invitation for abuse on a massive scale.
Windows 10 automatically sends parents detailed dossier of their children's internet history and computer use
Windows 10 sends a weekly “activity update” on childrens’ internet browsing and computer history to parents, by default and without telling anyone. The feature could be dangerous as well as embarrassing, users have pointed out, allowing parents to watch everything their children do on the computer.

The operating system sends a weekly note that includes a list of websites children have visited, how many hours per day they have spent on the computer, and for how long they have used their favourite apps, according to reports.

The feature appears to be turned on by default for family accounts — not notifying either children or their parents that they are being spied on — and was reported by parents who hadn’t asked for and weren’t aware of activating the feature themselves.

(For more, visit the original article)

Re: Make Your Computer Easier, Faster and Smarter, for Free

Posted: Mon Oct 01, 2018 3:26 pm
by Eowyn O Rohan
Quick question. On the welcome page, editor's corner, in the section on Linux, you say Kubuntu 14.04 is your favorite distro. The link you provide, has 14.04 and 18.04 which has LTS to 2021. In your "Make Your Computer Easier..." article, you say you use MintKDE. When I click on the Mint link, they show Mint with female names
under the releases. Not sure which is the one that you are using and how it relates to the Kubuntu.
I am beyond ready to dump the Windows/Microsoft paradigm.
Thank you for your assistance.