This is the first post in this never-ending series.
I've been a dedicated Mac user for a little over 2 years now. I got my 12" powerbook in the fall of 2004 by a good friend's sound advice, and never looked back. This little computer has been with me through thick and thin, almost never crashing, and doing things my previous computers just couldn't keep up with. So why switch? And why to Linux?
Well, the obvious answers - "politics", "philosophy", "31337-ness" - are too easy. Maybe it's a combination of all of those things. Maybe that's called "integrity", because it's hard to pontificate about the virtues of open-source software when you're sitting on your brushed aluminum (or cheap plastic) throne behind an Apple computer (or a windows one). It's not even so much a question of "what's best" - I mean, Bill Gates does way more "good" in the world than Steve Jobs does. By that rational, I should be on Windows too, right? And my computer of choice was based on which laptops run Linux the smoothest -unfortunately, that meant getting a Dell. And Michael Dell's not exactly a saint either. Can't win 'em all I suppose. A lot of the projects I've been working on happen to be with people who choose to use (and contribute to) open-source projects and software. In the past couple of months alone, I've seen firsthand the tremendous effect that free(er), open(er) software licensing can have in countries where cost or politics make it difficult to aquire commercial software.
I was browsing for some DVD conversion tools to start transfering my DVD library to disk, and one of the sites I wanted to visit caused this warning when linked to from google:
Hello From Havana.
IÂ´ll be back October 17th.
Well, that was a nice couple of weeks.
My friend Toivo, a Namibian studying architecture in Cuba, came to visit me in Montreal for a week. We had a great time, and I visited lots of local places I hadn't been to in a while. If all goes as planned I'll be back in Cuba this fall, in between (hopefully) Venezuela and Mexico.
I did tons of renovations in the house - change the floors in the basement, lots and lots of cleaning, re-arranging and throwing out old junk (so therapeutic). My sister's wedding is in two weeks from saturday, and we're going to have tons of family coming in from overseas or the U.S. staying at my place and my other sister's place. Most of them are from my mom's side of the family, and I haven't seem them in 6 - 10 years. It will be an interesting week, to say the least.
Even though the going has been tougher than I'm used to in my life for the past few weeks, I've generally been in a pretty upbeat / optimistic mood. Happiness really is a state of mind, and something we have control over no matter what is happening around us. Little things that require no effort are often the nice gestures we overlook - telling a cashier that she has beautiful eyes, for example. Even if I never see her again, I made her smile, feel good about herself, and pretty much made her day. And knowing that makes me feel better for the rest of my day.
I used the CouchSurfing project to meet some great folks both here in Montreal and during my travels abroad. Recently, during a conference, I was able to stay in Saint-Louis for a couple days thanks to a great family (and now friends) I met on the site. I've helped out and showed around several visitors to my fair city, one in particular who I consider myself incredibly lucky to have met (you know who you are)! :p
Can you grow emotionally attached to a social network? If Flickr went down tomorrow, I wouldn't bat an eyelid. If, all of a sudden, all of these "Blurb 2.0" applications went up in flames, I'd shrug and get back to my work. But CouchSurfing was something different. Casey's brainchild, it was a way to try and make the world a smaller place for those who can't or don't really want to travel and stay in big hotels. I'm genuinely sad about this right now.
An example I often give of the world I'd like to live in is one where "anyone can go anywhere regardless of anything". I'd like to live in a place where a kid in Nairobi can wake up one morning and decide that he wants to visit Brazil today. Obviously we're a long way from that - the market economy doesn't plan for equity. CouchSurfing was a big, big step in the right direction, and we're worse off without it.
I'd like to thank Casey, the entire CS team, and everyone who every registered on the site for being part of that rare something on the web that goes further than generating revenue and profiting off of our content. CS was the real deal - a "web community" - that I've so far never found (or wanted to find) anywhere else.
Goodnight, CouchSurfing. Here's to your spirit sparking up more bright flames to make the world a better place. Now, I'm going to have a drink.
Two days ago CouchSurfing experienced what
could be described as the perfect storm. The database administrators we
hired made two critical mistakes. First, we had a major, avoidable hard
drive crash. Secondly, the incremental back-ups weren't executed in the
correct manner, and twelve of our most important data files didn't
I have been working non-stop trying to
repair the data, but as difficult as it is for me to say, it has become
clear that certain essential pieces are not recoverable. This crash
happened at a particularly vulnerable time, in a transition between two
back-up methods. If the crash had happened a week ago, or next week, we
would have had a different outcome.
It is with a heavy heart that I face the
truth of this situation. CouchSurfing as we knew it doesn't exist
anymore. We've had an amazing two and a half years.
Members write "CouchSurfing has changed my
life" and I know what they mean, it has certainly changed mine and I am
My vision transformed. CouchSurfing was
born out of a dream I had to meet the most interesting people in world
and experience their cultures, and it grew into a living, thriving
family of almost a hundred thousand. This community has blossomed in
beautiful ways I hadn't even anticipated. It was no longer about what I
got to experience, but rather, what genuine, heartfelt good this
community can offer the world. We have all opened not only our homes,
but also our hearts, our lives. In sharing important moments, deep and
meaningful connections have crossed oceans, continents and cultures. I
saw in CS, in you, the power to change not only they way we
travel, but change the world itself. Thank you, CouchSurfers. You have
shown me more than I could have even known. Your generosity and spirit
is a gift to humanity.
I have devoted the last three years of my
life to CouchSurfing. I have literally poured every cent I have into
the site. I've sacrificed my health, my time, and my own ability to
travel and meet people. In many ways I've put my life and wanderlust on
hold to build this network. I'm not complaining; it's been a fantastic
ride. As devastating as it is to consider, it looks like the ride is
Life is continuously changing, evolving,
dying and being reborn. After a fire, the earth is replenished; after a
storm, the air is cleared. It feels to me like this loss of
CouchSurfing is how it's meant to be. This crash is like a sign from
the universe. Too many random factors aligned to make it as damaging as
it is, and though I've tried everything I can and engaged the best and
brightest database managers, there's just no way to get it back. In
many respects it's heartbreaking, but at the same time, what we've
built together is not dead, it lives on in each of us. It lives in the
connections we've fostered and the culture we've created. I want us all
to take this CouchSurfing spirit and continue the mission out in the
world. We've all experienced this common vision and the potential it
has to transform the way people relate to each other. Now it is time
for all of us to not bury the dream, but rather nurture it's growth in
our own ways, in new explorations and ventures. We all own a piece of
the CouchSurfing flame, it's up to us to keep the fire going and light
the world. So let's do it, let's light the world! What will you do with
Goodnight, CouchSurfing. May our flames burn bright.
I love you,
If you wish to send your thoughts, encouragement or positive messages, contact us at email@example.com
Basically, I'll cover setting up a CMS (drupal, natch) to allow for self-hosting of video posts, podcasts and blog entries. There's something very disturbing about the false "communities" springing up everywhere on the web, and I'm not sure I want to see what happens once we're all dependent on them.
Anyhow, I'm going to open up with a brief overview about some of the video and podcasting projects I'm working on at the moment, and start off slowly showing the main drupal install process and the required modules needed to get the show on the road.
Speaking about roads, I'll be driving there, leaving early Thursday morning and getting there at night. If anyone on my route (Montreal, Toronto, Windsor, Detroit) wants to come along, by all means let me know. I've posted a ride offer on the AMC rideboard.
I've never been to a media conference, so I don't really know what to expect. I hope I'm able to help someone at my workshop (hopefully there will be someone there besides me...) get started with their own video or podcasting site.
Doing some spring cleaning, and came across a whole slew of computer stuff that I don't need anymore, but that might be useful to someone else out there. Unless stated otherwise, everything is in working condition, though of course sold "as is". You'll also have to come up to Laval to pick it up.
- HP DeskJet 810C Printer, $15
- Dell Trinitron 20.1 Inch monitor, stable up to 1280x1024, above that it becomes shaky and susceptible to interference from speakers, etc. Body is scratched and full of stickers, screen is pretty much flawless. $25
- Linksys 802.11B Wireless Ethernet Bridge, $10
- Lexmark z32 Printer (USB+Printer Port cable), needs ink, $10
- NEC Versa 2000D (color!) laptop... 486 SL, 16MB ram, Windows 95 running, bright screen nice targus carrying case, PCMCIA, $30
- Old 14" TTX monitor - I can only get it to work in 800x600 or 640x480 after leaving it on to warm up for about 30 mins. If you leave it on all the time should work fine. $5
- 7.5 DBi indoor "smoke detector" Hyperlink 802.11b antenna, n-female connector $15
- Various heavy coax antenna cabling, (LMR-200 I think, not sure) 5-ft - 50 ft, n-female or male connectors, a few adaptors, make an offer.
- 2-Piece YDI AMP 2440 2.4 Ghz amplifier for 802.11b - cannot seem to get it to work. Lights come on when plugged into AP and antenna. $35
- Full-tower PC case, on wheels, no powersupply, missing front covers. $10
- 14dBi Lucent / Bell Yagi directional Antenna, n-female, $25
- Thrustmaster Top Gun Fox 2 Pro USB Flight Stick (non force-feedback), near-mint: $12
The Laval police, in cooperation with the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute (whose website makes me cry), have begun slapping these warning stickers on gas pumps across the city. They read:
Driving off without paying is filling up your tank... with problems!
By distraction or intentionally, some people leave the gas station without paying.
They will be prosecuted in court.
In the booming city of Laval, near Montreal, several people a day drive off without paying, prompting some stations to post guards at the pumps. Police have created a new category of crime called "gas theft," after "pump and run" incidents in Quebec City surpassed 1,000 last year.
Another interesting issue is gas theft from individials - cases of gas being siphoned directly from a car's gas tank are at an all-time high. Locking gas caps are sold out at automotive parts stores across the province.
Porter Goss ("Porteur de Gosses" for my french-speaking readers), pictured here with he and George Bush being fondled by woolly mammals, is resigning from the CIA. As always, Bush brings another one of his brilliant quotes to the table for this historic event:
"Porter's tenure at the CIA was one of transition, where he's helped this agency become integrated into the intelligence community, and that was a tough job."
Errr... see.... ummm... huh... uhhhhh... what? Porter helped the CIA become integrated into the intelligence community? The CIA was the intelligence community - what Porter did was help "upgrade" the agency into a mob of yes-men to tell you exactly what you and your cronies want to hear. One of the surefire signs of any democracy making the casual slide to fascism (and of any one man's contemptible hubris that he alone has The Answer) is when the Lider Maximo begins to shut out any sounds of criticism from his entourage, whether by violently silencing his detractors or by simply ignoring them. Saddam did it, as did Stalin.