Technology Time Loss

(This post was written a long time ago, I just tidied it up and putting it out now. It was so long ago that I am feeling bad I haven’t had a chance to visit my friend in many months.)

I spent last weekend up in Montreal with my friend. He’s a good friend and we’ve shared interest in technology over the years.

Some background #

I guess it dates back to 2002 or 2003 we met when I was troubleshooting Linux issues on IRC. I was introduced to the IRC channel when seeking help compiling a kernel. Most of us there were Gentoo Linux users as this distribution was good to test emerging (pun intended) new software, drivers, and essentially provide early QA.

Anyways, we built up a neat little community and some of us maintained a few Linux kernel patchsets for new features and to work on CPU interactivity patches. The latter I became interested in because I had issues with music skipping on my system. Eventually I even got a patch merged into mainline and had recruiters hitting me up in high school. However, I wasn’t interested in relocating and for me this was a hobby.

That was a long time ago. I guess 15 years or so since I stopped working on patchsets.

Projects Now #

One of the things my friend built was a custom access point for wifi. It basically runs a custom image he built on a Raspberry Pi. This is then hooked up to an external wifi adapter. It’s quite nifty and theoretically very secure and if I recall he firewalls out many things. Another thing he does is has a whitelist of MAC addresses and generates a different passphrase for every address. It takes a long time to provide guest access because the initramfs must be edited. Anyways we tried for my 2 phones and laptop and all but one phone worked.

There are similarities and differences toward our approach to things. We have had the same Macbook Pro. I got mine after him because he had the tenacity to work out the broken/weird stuff when using it on Linux. So I followed his base when building my system, and feel quite confident in knowing I had very good local security. (OpenPGP smartcard to unlock LUKS key for encrypted SSD).

However, I sold my MBP, went back to using a Thinkpad (and later a GPD Pocket), but this time on Windows.

Why? #

Why indeed. I left Windows because it honestly sucked ass for my use case previously. One of the first times I went up to Montreal another friend from the IRC channel was visiting at the same time. He had a tiling window manager up on his Linux system. It blew my mind, I had to have it. So, I set up my system to have all my primary applications show at once without being covered by any other window. It was little stuff like this, Windows didn’t have. So I build really customized systems to do what I wanted them to do.

Using different stuff than the majority of the population causes problems. I was able to overcome most format interoperability issues without much trouble, but I would deal with format compatibility issues in going between Microsoft Office and LibreOffice, so my company eventually used Google Suite, which was great for having multiple people edit a file at once. However, it ran terrible on the browsers. Similarly, I chose Quickbooks Online to do our books, and it was the worst vendor choice I’ve ever made. Terrible, slow, expensive software that got worse with every passing year.

What do problems cause? Loss of time and money. Nobody wants to be stuck debugging crap constantly. I liked the repairability of Linux, but I’m stuck always tinkering. Windows I’ve had my long share of issues with, but I almost always know I’ve no chance of fixing the issues…. so I get a quick workaround and get through the day. Additionally since my clients also have similar problems I can make money telling them how to fix them. I can also spin up a new Windows system a lot faster than a heavily customized Linux system today. So that’s where I’m at, all my servers run on Linux, but my main system is currently Windows. I’m not happy with the lack of knowledge on what information is scraped from me under the surface but it works with multi-monitor setups, has a large amount of commercial and FOSS software, and works on my hardware. Additionally, finding ways to wrestle it into place is a lot more useful to others and it helps me make a living.

Plan forward #

I have heard good things about KDE these days on Linux. I have a Raspbery Pi 4 I could use as a KDE desktop device. It’d likely work well, so it’s very possible I’ll move to using that as my new ‘desktop’ for focused work.

Focused work is something I’m going to strive to get closer to doing. Just practicing writing and putting out stuff is good for me. I ditched a lot of crappy vendors in the past few months and I have been streamlining my personal and professional workflows. I am intending to write about the ways I’ve done this on both my personal and company blog. This blog will be the more prolific, and less formal outlet. Please subscribe and share the content you like, I’ll adapt my writing to what gets the most kudos or whatever svbtle is doing these days.

 
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