Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My leap of faith to Open source: Ubuntu 10.4 LTS

About a year ago there was no way I could be convinced to try open-source software. An ex-colleague of my wife used to talk about how he would never pay for proprietary software again after experiencing the value of open-source software. I would rant on about Windows based applications and all the nice things that I could do. I just failed to understand how he could not consider proprietary software at all.

At the time I was so chaffed with my Windows Explorer and all the automatic share buttons in the info bar. It was just so easy to share any article to my blog , or Facebook, or Twitter. I was also not prepared to make that change from Windows Office to Open Office. What could Open Office offer me in terms of MS Projects and MS Visio. I had downloaded the Open Office program and was not at all impressed with the Open Office Writer program. It just looked so dull, I thought.

My mind was about to change. I struggled with relatively slow processing speeds. I defragmented and scan my hard drive regularly but it did not do much the processing speed of my laptop. I knew it was important to install updates and got fed-up with the massive files of Windows updates that Vista had. No wonder the reaction time on my laptop was suffering. Norton Antivirus was another huge file that needed constant attention even with yearly subscriptions. Granted, it is an excellent software package. The final straw came a couple of months ago when I experienced my second system crash in a year. One of them required a new hard drive.

I made a choice. What could be worse than to look into an open-source operating system. After floating some ideas with a couple of friends, well versed in the Open-source environment, three major options came up. OpenSUSE, Ubuntu and Mandriva, with my final decision on Ubuntu Linux.

I backed up all information onto a separate hard drive in case Murphy's Law would catch up to me. Cleared my laptop's hard drive, accept for the Windows files. Downloaded the Ubuntu software online and burnt the ISO image onto a DVD. It was a struggle at first to burn the ISO image onto a DVD but managed easily with ISO downloader(Linux based) which I found online. The windows based CD/DVD burners did not offer the option to download the ISO image.

The installation was pretty easy by restarting with the ISO Image DVD inserted. The installation process was a breeze. Shock took hold of me at first realizing the once nice screen with icons was replaced with a purple screen with a couple of icons. What have I done was the only thought occupying my mind. Remove of Ubuntu immediately was my first thought, but after a bit of exploring I realized that everything I needed was there:

  1. Firefox Browser

  2. Evolution Mail and Calender

  3. OpenOffice Presentation

  4. OpenOffice Spreadsheet

  5. OpenOffice Word Processor

  6. Many other applications

Firefox is an amazing browser and less virus prone. The setting up of mail was very easy. Changed the server option from IMAP to POP and received emails from local provider. I had concerns about printer drivers but Ubuntu picked up my printer immediately. The media player plays all of my music and video files, so no conversion of files required. Skype has a Linux application which works perfectly.

The biggest benefit derived is my laptop processing speed has increase many many fold. It is fast on all levels, for eg. start-up, interaction between different applications, web-page opening etc. Ubuntu Linux offers almost everything, at least of what I use, that Windows Vista offers. It is not as flashy, but it works, and it works fast. Ubuntu runs regular updates to keep the system updated similar to Windows. The big difference is that the updates are not megabytes and megabytes of files that lead to unnecessary virus infections.

I have broadened my perspective on possibilities on both the proprietary and open-source end. This is the beginning of my relationship with the Open-source family. I have been using Ubuntu Linux for 3 weeks and I am happy with the results. I am never going to pay for software again.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The iPad is worth all the hype!

I visited a local mall earlier today with my son to buy him running shoes. I was instantly attracted to the hustle and bustle in the Apple store. It was just busier than normal and my curiosity took over. Not that I found it hard to believe with all the hype going on with the iPad and new iPhone 4G. Maybe it was because I saw this gentleman having lunch at the food-court watching what I believe was a movie on his iPad. I thought that was pretty cool.

I tread on the more traditional side of computers and software, hence PC's and laptops. I have read many articles on the iPad, and the many applications associated with it. It did not really appeal to me other than the fact that this was another cool gadget. What was anybody going to do with all these apps, I said to myself.

I entered the store and was met by the iPad displays. I found one spot open and quickly grabbed it. I wanted to find out for myself what this hype was all about. From the onset I was pleasantly surprised that the iPad was a perfect size. It was not to big or to small and it just felt totally cool to hold it. I played around it and accessing my blog etc. The other feature that I found amazing was the on-screen keyboard was just the right size. I found it very easy to to type on it.

The were a whole bunch of pretty cool apps uploaded already. I came to the realization that the new generation wants cool gadgets with all types applications. Who cares if I am going to use any of them. I need to have access to these in case my friends talk about it and find it cool. Again, to me, it all boils down to having access. All of us want to be in the loop.

Through all typing and dragging on the iPad I was thinking that with the right protective iPad cover I could take this anywhere/everywhere. It was lighter than my laptop, and easier to carry around. I was very impressed with the iPad. It was really worth all the hype! As matter of fact I found myself wanting one. Now, that is a different story. I will try my usual wait for 3 days and then see how you feel about it.

My son, 11years, found spot next to me and was having a ball as well. I looked around and saw that all of the 20 iPad's on display were occupied by people of all ages, and everyone was, what seemed to me, as interested and excited as I was. I thought to myself Apple has outdone itself again. Here I was having something in my hands that could be the norm for mobile computers in a couple of years. The iPad is the perfect intermediate for computers and smartphones, and it looks and feels damn good!

On leaving the store one of the Apple staff was standing in the entrance with an iPad in his hands. I thought to myself, this guy must feel pretty good to be part of a company that is leading the pack in its field of consumer electronic products. Apple is the leader in its field at the moment and all the rest are playing catch-up.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Project Management: 4 Steps to Get Flagging Projects Back on Track

An interesting article that proves that continuous scrutiny by project management team is vital to ensure that all project deliverables are achieved in accordance with the project plan, therefore keeping projects from moving off track.

Project Management: 4 Steps to Get Flagging Projects Back on Track