Sunday, May 27, 2007

Getting the pit ready for summer.

Have you read my blog entry Welcome to the pit ?. Well lets get an update. Connie and poonie still hang out. We still have fires but not on friday nites. I have to work on Friday's now. I was "promoted" to the Network Operations Dept at callwave . THe crew hang out here without me. Too bad. But, the backyard is getting there. Getting ready for the summer.

Summer in Santa Barbara is my favorite time of the year. It kicks off with the Summer Solstice parade . The whole city hangs out on State Street partying. The parade is one of the most anticipated days of the year. It kicks off the party. The party gets better. Then comes Fiesta , the week long party. People come for far to revel in the fun atmosphere. Let me see. Micheal Jordan serves drinks at O'malley's. Hey,I am not pulling your leg. I saw him with my own eyes.Well, not exactly true. With the aid of my eye glasses (I am half blind). But it was him.

So lets see, what is the agenda for the pit. We are trying to get it ready for the solstice party. The backyard will be cleared. Hammocks, barbeque pit and ... who knows, a hot tub. I will post some pictures soon but if you dare, make it to the pit on June 23rd. You wont regret you did.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Four things linux skeptics dont understand about Linux

Read this blog post on ZDnet. It talks about 5 things the Linux community does not understand about the average computer user.
Lets list them

1 - On the whole, users aren’t all that dissatisfied with Windows
2 - Too many distros
3 - People want certainty that hardware and software will work
4 - As far as most people are concerned, the command line has gone the way of the dinosaur
5 - Linux is still too geeky

I could not help but agree with some of the points that Adrian made in his post. Linux really has a ways to go if it wants to make a foray onto the average computer user's desktop. But and I repeat but it will. Maybe I will volunteer 5 things the Linux skeptics dont understand about the linux community.

1. If you build it, they will come

Lets face it. Advertising brings in sales. You can not buy what is not there. The average household buys a preinstalled computer. If the computer has Windows loaded on it, well then you got it. Preinstalled linux computers are going to place the linux distribution where it matters most, right at the doorstep of the consumer. If the computer does what it expected to do, how could you be dissatisfied? The more vendors whom support Linux, the higher the adoption rate.

2. United we stand. The linux community is determined.

Capitalism made the world individualistic and focused on the corporation. To make a lot of money, you start design a product, patent or copyright it, start a company, market it, take the company public and then retire. Products are closed source. You bought it the way it was and depended on the company selling the product for support. In most cases, it is not allowed to modify the product in any way even if it worked better. Linux changed the way we thought about products. In a way, Linux employs (might I dare to say) "communismistic" ideology. It belongs to all of us. Lets help each other and make it work.

3. Variety is the spice of life.

Since when did we get too tired of things to choose from? Is that not what appeals to everyone? Wont we be bored otherwise? Well lets see, Vista was released to almost no fanfare. Its the same thing over and over again. At least with Linux, there will be choices and it will appeal to the average consumer.

4. Linux works.

Once it is installed, it works. Plain and simple. It does not crash often, it is simple and does the simple tasks well. What does the average user want to do? Surf the net with Mozilla, write documents with open office, play music, watch dvds. Linux does it all.

Dell and Ubuntu. Welcome to the desktop

If you did not know that I am open-source evangelist, you might not have read my posts. I finally got myself rid of Microsoft XP on my 3 year old laptop. Yep, I did it. Afterall, it was pretty hypocritical for me to write a Guide to Using Linux for your Desktop and not be using Linux on a regular basis. My distribution of choice? Ubuntu Linux. I guess I was feeling "continentalistic" (Ubuntu means humanity to others in an African language). Ok seriously, I chose Ubuntu because Dell chose it. Yep Dell is going to start shipping linux boxes preloaded with Ubuntu. Ubuntu is based on Debian. I have
always used Fedora so I had a brief learning curve with Ubuntu but all is well. I am loving it.

The install process was smooth. Since I always install via ftp, I was not impressed with the number of ftp mirrors available to me. Installing my wireless card took a while and I am yet to get Apache working well with php. That is my next project. I will keep you posted.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

VOIP and the promise for Africa

Africa has been considered traditionally "behind", so they say. I have been working and following digital divide issues in Africa, particularly Ghana for the past 7 years. I heard about VOIP quite dramatically when some Internet Service Providers were arrested and detained by the Government of Ghana for operating International telephone gateway facilities without license from the National Communiations Authority.

I remember that it took the IT community in Ghana by suprise and effectively killed an otherwise booming VOIP business. Consider the fact that international calls through the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) from Ghana to the Western countries is expensive ( a call to the US costs about $0.75 a min, minimum wage $2.00 per DAY), VOIP is the way to go. Afican's have many relatives in the western world they keep in contact with on a regular basis.

Question is, "Why hasn't VOIP taken off in Africa". Well the government's collect a lot of revenue from the monopolistic PSTN. Deregulation is largely non-existent. Governments are worried about killing the goose that lays the golden egg. However, we need to learn from the experience of the infamous breakdown of AT&T.History has shown us that Governments have no business in business (no pun intended). Take a look at the booming cellular business in Afica. Competition in the celluar business (without Government intervention) has driven prices so low that my brother in college can afford one (I couldn't when I was in college in the late 90's).

Let's go Africa. VOIP is important and lets embrace it.