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GNU/Linux Free Software & Open Source personal

Debian and the girlfriend

Ada with the laptop

We got a new computer for the girlfriend some months ago. Since her old laptop was running Debian Lenny and she loved it, but the software packages were quite outdated, I decided to install Kubuntu 10.10 on her new laptop. Assuming that it would be easier to use with all of Canonical’s and community customizations, handle and detect new hardware drivers better and will have more updated software.

Turns out that she barely used her new laptop, complaining a lot about it. First, she had to get used to the new KDE 4 environment, when she got so used to KDE 3.5 on Debian Lenny, but change is something we all have to face. But the real problems were that hardware was not working properly, the touchpad had no scrolling and since its a single button pad with virtual buttons, the right button click didn’t work. Also, the Dolphin file manager would sometimes not refresh the files on the folders, so she couldn’t see some files that were recently saved. When trying to shutdown it would freeze up or the KDE shutdown menu window would not draw any options. When finally shutting down, it sometimes hanged at the end of the process, thus not turning off the computer.

After about a month of complaints and frustrations, she demanded me to install Debian back. I explained to her my initial decision to go with Kubuntu and that a new version 11.04 was coming out in a few days and that might fix her problems. But her argument was strong: “I need stability, and I don’t like to be on the bleeding edge since I’m not technical, I can’t troubleshoot the issues. Its fine for me to stay with the same stack of software for two years until the next Debian stable release.”

Ada, ballet & GNU

So I went ahead and installed Debian Squeeze on her laptop, expecting a lot of time spent in forums to get her new hardware working, configuring files, compiling drivers, etc. To my great surprise, everything worked out of the box, with very minimum custom configurations. She immediately started installing all her favorite software and was very happy with her new system’s stability and fast responsiveness. Software was (to the time of this writing) decently recent, and very stable so now she has completely ditched her old computer, feeling perfectly comfortable. Although she still misses KDE 3.5, she’s getting used to KDE 4 and customizing it her way.

Oh, and she made it all pink.

Categories
personal

Arriving late to the mobile computing era

mobile computing

As I’ve mentioned on previous posts, I recently got an android phone. And I don’t say “smartphone” because I had a Nokia N95, which was considered a “smartphone” back around 2007 or so. But this phone is different. Ever since the BlackBerry and the iPhone got out and then the Android OS devices, the small device in your pocket was no longer “just a phone”.

I know, I’m VERY late to write about this topic as if it was today’s novelty. The fact is that at the time of this writing, not everyone yet has joined the mobile computing world. I would like to share some of the things I’ve been using my phone, for others who, like me, are joining late the smartphone world.

So, for those who are still thinking on getting a smartphone, and wondering what’s the big deal or the big buzz around the topic, here are three basic ideas that I’ve found out after I got my android device:

Your device is not a phone, its a pocket computer.

That’s the first paradigm I noticed to be a big shift. What’s the big deal about it? Well, you can install and create lots of applications that you can use as entertainment, but specially to assist you on the go. You would never have on your desktop/laptop an application to split the restaurant tab, or remind you your grocery list, or aided with GPS and accelerometers to track your exercises. Its a different kind of computing you’ll be experiencing.

Your device is an extension of your desktop/laptop.

With applications like Chrome2Phone, you can easily extend what you’re doing on your computer to your mobile device. I sometimes search for an address on my computer browser, since the normal keyboard is more comfortable, and use this app to send the map to my phone, so I can use it on the road to get to my destination. Once I traveled to Mexico city for 7 days and did not used my laptop at all! Games, browsing, socializing, were all done from my phone (I did no programming those days, I was on vacations).

Your device is an extension of your memory and yourself.

Having a computer in you pocket handy for whenever you need it and packed with applications for many uses, you can have a better control of your time and tasks. Your to-do list, your calendar, your contacts, your social network notifications, your camera, all this in real-time sync with the online world and your computer can help you not miss anything, from attending a meeting, tracking your health or saving a moment through a video or photo and immediately sharing it to get real-time feedback.

For those who have already been in the mobile computing era for a while, what has been your experience? How has your life changed since you got your smartphone?

Photo is Creative Commons Licensed by Johan Larsson on Flickr