All Hail the Creators

Traditional media continues to slide into mediocrity and obscurity. Large scale operations and multi-tiered productions are rapidly being overtaken by competition from small independent content creators. Music production, distribution, and promotion have been successful for independent artists for years. Today’s technology has put professional quality media creation into the hands of many content creators.
Bloggers, Podcasters, and Vloggers can produce professional quality content with affordable “consumer” or “prosumer” rated equipment. The amount of content produced by individuals or small production teams is truly amazing if you compare such productions to major studios of the past. Social media outlets, YouTube, iTunes, and Amazon make it possible for creators to get their content out to the masses. Not all produced content is great, but some is.
There is a lot of interesting content available from aspiring musicians songwriters, travel bloggers and vloggers, preppers, gamers, conspiracy theorists , extreme couponing, alternative news reporters, humorists, tech reviews, food aficionados, fitness trainers, traditional and natural medical info……the list goes on and on.
There’s a lot of content that isn’t prepackaged and manufactured by large conglomerates, and there’s some that probably is. This may explain why we see large media companies that would at one time have been the major or only content providers for mass media markets (radio, TV, film) slim their operations down or even disappear altogether. Crazy as it might seem, not all content is driven by commercial or political intentions. It’s a wide open field now, and getting bigger as the rest of the world’s content providers find their way to your media consumption devices.
Of course the big players want to get in on the action, even leveraging AI to create content for them. Advertising (relative to the subject matter) through sponsorship of some creative content providers appears to be working out for some high traffic sites/channels/downloads.
One interesting trend seems to be people traveling around producing videos, audio files, and writing while living in a van or travel trailer.
(I didn’t realize so many people were living in travel trailers until I started reading some interesting blogs a few years ago – shortly after the financial crisis of 2008)
For these productions, there’s no mega studio, just a couple of HD cameras, a good mic, and a laptop – and a lot of ingenuity. This is their studio.
The world is their studio. Some even produce the majority or all of the content with their iPad or smart phone.
If you are tired of the major news shows asking their pundits (or expert panels) to explain to you what you should think, try the independent alternate content providers…..soon to be the main stream media’s amazing replacement.
I’d happily watch the latest Linux Distro reviews, PewDiePie’s “Pew News”, or see what Traveling Robert is up to as he travels around the country in his RV, than watch “actors” jabber on for 24 hours about nothing.
Sadly enough when a news agency or reality show is using content already old on the Internet, you know the world is changing – hopefully in a good way. By the people, for the people, what a novel concept.
It is amazing to see how modern technology inspires people’s creativity and allows communication and educational opportunities for anyone willing to put a little effort behind their vision.
Much of the content may seem effortless, but a lot of time and effort is usually behind some of the best examples. If you look even deeper you start to see unique ways of leveraging solar power and budget friendly support schemes to make more efficient use of energy to cut costs for some self reliant enterprises.

I can see where Open Source applications and Linux distributions could play an integral role in some of this content creation, if only for budgetary constraints.
Ubuntu Studio comes to mind immediately, but there are many flavors of Linux with useful applications available in their repository for all types of media creation. For my own personal opinion, I simply have much respect and admiration of all who create such fascinating content.

Work, work, work

Big storm on the way, lots of snow, cold, and ice. Hunker down and avoid unnecessary travel. Sure, not an option for everyone, but for some it’s a good opportunity to lay low, read a good book, binge on Netflix or …….work. When the opportunity comes along to rest and unwind, many don’t.
Stay home with a cold? Sure, get your laptop out and work. Snow storm, apocalypse, end of the world…..still a good time to get a little work done. We love to work, and we work to live. Sad, but true.
Tonight despite the storm, you’re going to want power and Internet connections to work. Most likely the people who keep the lights on, and communications working may be out responding to trouble calls in this mess. It’s a cold night to be working outside, and traveling to get to a job won’t be too easy. These people often have to work in these conditions . Of course those who respond to emergencies, protect the public and keep the roads plowed will be out too. 
All this so others can stay indoors and ride out the storm. Some may even have to rescue those who wonder out into the snow.
Sitting home working on a laptop drinking a hot cup of tea probably sounds great now.
It’s all in how you look at things. We all do what we have to do, so why do what we really don’t need to do? Close the lid, dim the lights, and relax. Save your strength. You’ll need it tomorrow when you’re shoveling your way out of your cozy snow covered abode.
That is unless you decide to sleep in. Everyone needs a break now and then.

Charge your phone – while you can, If the lights go out you’ll want a fully charged phone, especially since many of us use our phones as very expensive flashlights. If home is where you do most of your work from, then I guess you might feel like it’s no big deal. Snowed in at work isn’t something I would enjoy unless that meant I was already home. I probably would just keep on working. I guess that’s what I’m doing right now, Oh no!

I wonder what’s on Netflix, …….nah, too much work to do.

Focus, Focus, Focus

We begin a new year, with a new focus, or shall we say a re-focus on working smarter, more efficiently, more productive, more economically, and hopefully with less stress. If you’re still using Windows 7, then make note that the support clock may be winding down. If you’re using Windows 10, then you may be looking forward to the possible Spring update, or not.
I’ll most likely continue working with Windows when absolutely necessary, but Linux based objectives should remain my main focus.
As noted in early posts, I remain a big fan of Lenovo laptops (mostly older models) – which really shine once you dump the Installed OS and install an up to date version of Linux.
It’s possible that some people are not overly excited about using older, less powerful hardware, but once you find the Linux Distro that suits your requirements you may be pleasantly surprised how well things function.
I’ve gone to using Debian based MX on my older laptops, and started using the Ubuntu flagship on my latest and “slightly” more powerful ThinkPad.
For content creation I’ve retired my old MacBook (the new ones are a bit expensive) and reluctantly decided to walk away from Logic Pro and see if I can squeeze any more out of LMM and Audacity. I haven’t decided if I should just install Ubuntu Studio or stick with the main Ubuntu LTS

On another interesting note, it looks like my favorite packet decode tool for troubleshooting networking issues is getting a refresh – Wireshark 3.0 will be available in the next few weeks. I’ve looked at the Windows development release 2.9 in the last few days, and look forward to the Debian and Ubuntu supported releases. If I was a true minimalist I would see if I can get more out of tcpdump and not rely on Wireshark as much. That will take some discipline. I have worked with Tshark at times when I probably could have used tcpdump. It might be worthwhile to go old school more often.
I believe the latest version is
4.9.2 released in 2017. I’ll have to explore this a little more.

It looks like 2019 could be a great year for Linux, at least from my perspective, and support of Linux apps also promises to be a interesting Chrome OS development heading our way. It’s already available for some Chromebooks, sadly not mine – yet.

I’m not quite as excited about the latest predicted Windows 10 browser changes, or underlying Linux support. I’m sure some users will be, but part of my New Year’s resolution is to simplify my work flow. I don’t need to get too distracted with MS developments at this time unless something truly amazing appears in the horizon.

I would like to eventually pair down to using only one OS, one laptop, and improve my personal and productive time management in the process.
Even with all the security concerns in the news recently (last year was not so good) I still think Windows does a good job of addressing security. That isn’t enough of a reason to restrict my options to Windows only. Linux may have had the edge years ago, but whatever OS you use requires some effort on the user’s part. Sometimes this boils down to what system you are more familiar with, and how much control of the system you have.

There are a few things I would like to see from any new Windows release, such as the option of a true minimalist installation without all the programs I would never use anyways. I’m also not a fan of the “store”, but a repository similar to Linux installs would be a considerable improvement. I’d also be very interested in a simpler, more streamlined HotFix/patching update process. This would also apply to the big system-updates that seemed to get pushed as opposed to downloaded when I want them downloaded – unlike most Linux Distro upgrades.
On a more positive note;
I do appreciate the development of Powershell. Microsoft’s new shell continues to get better with age. I’d also like to see some developments with the mysterious Microsoft Message Analyzer application. I thought that it had a lot of potential and was very useful, but I haven’t seen much noted on it’s future development lately. I thought it was a nice complement (not competitor) to Wireshark. (anyone need a second opinion?)
In all it looks like some operating systems and applications may be improving in the next year. It looks like Windows and Linux users should have a lot of enhancements coming.

On a side note, I’m sure many will continue to use their smartphones more than any other tech device in the coming year.
Smartphones still appear to be the most portable, and the easiest devices to use.
I think we might continue to see laptop use decline this year. I would also not be surprised if someone actually builds a tablet that really gives the iPad Pro some real competition. This could cut even more into laptop use if the price is attractive enough to compete with entry level laptops.
If Apple ever releases a full fledged version of Logic Pro on the iPad Pro (no Mac required) – I’d probably venture down that road and possibly – if not temporarily forget all about my laptop OS. That would really make 2019 a fun year for tech – at least for me. Talk about simplifying your work flow.
I guess there’s always GarageBand. Hmmm? Interesting concept, but it might wind up being another distraction. (If it we’re to become available)
Focus, focus, focus, that’s what I need to do.
Alright, so now where was I?
Oh, yes, I’m going continue to concentrate my energy on working with Linux for the majority of my efforts and opportunities for efficiency as well as productivity.
As you can see, with so many options, it’s probably is best to limit my time to a few stable Linux Distros and concentrate on improving my skill set. Any other diversions could ultimately cut into my forward progress. There is always more to learn. There never seems to be enough time to focus on one operating system let alone trying to learn everything about every system. Just like last year we’ll just have to go one step at a time.

On to 2019

Christmas has come and gone, and now we approach the end of 2018. This is the cold and dark part of the year. If you like very cold rain, ice and snow, you’re probably enjoying this. If you’re a robot, you may not.
Typing on a frosty keyboard with gloves or mittens is a bit of a hassle, but there are times when you make do regardless of the environment. Working on a smart phone is less frustrating, especially if you have nifty gloves that sport special screen friendly finger pads or you use a “pen” and don’t drop it in the snow. 
Smart watches, and voice assist are all useful, but there are a few of us who still do the majority of their “computer work “ on a laptop. Not bringing an entire tower, monitor, keyboard, and mouse is mobility enough for some. If you work inside, that’s cool, but it’s nice to get out once in a while. 
I don’t consider working from your laptop in a coffee shop “field work” but I can see where that is much more enjoyable than being stuck in a cubicle. Do people still sit in cubicles? There are of course, worse places….so I am told.

Advances in mobility technology have made it easier to work at almost any site, and remote applications have allowed some to work from distant locations. 
Which is better, on site, or offsite (from a cubicle)? I have to lean towards on site, but that’s not always practical. 
Out on an ice field of blowing snow at negative 30 degrees Fahrenheit isn’t always more preferable than a nice cozy office cubicle or desk, but sometimes being there in the cold gives you a whole different perspective and appreciation for the equipment and operating mechanisms on site than a long distance remote view ever could. 
That’s all changing for some types of work. Drones, and artificial support will impact how some resources are deployed on site, and offered remotely.
With the new year ahead, I expect to see more practical use of artificial intelligence for application and diagnostic support, and drone usage for inspection related i.e monitoring or surveillance operations. 
I don’t think AI needs a cubicle to work, possibly some rack space and lot of power. Drones won’t require ladders, lifts, or climbing harnesses.

As widespread adaptation of IoT, G-5 telecom, and cloud computing services evolve in 2019, watch how your once “state of the art” non-mobile work force drifts towards a persuasive argument for “less office space based work”. Consider how many tasks AI and faster Internet access has played a major impact on work life already.
Flexibility to work in both office based and remote site locations might prove to be a productive skill in the near future. If you’ve already cleared this hurdle, you’re probably in good shape.
Technology continues to march onward. If you can work
“Anywhere” especially where technology hasn’t already automated and crowded humans out completely , than you may have a very desirable skill set that you might not normally consider a positive.
I guess it isn’t that cold and dark after all.

It will be interesting to see how some in-house IT support is affected in the coming year. Help desk support, desktop support, and unique product support, usually hold the keys for administrative tasks. Many professing their bland “tricks”, some reading from their “problem solving flow charts” This is wonderful if you view your workforce as low tech skilled workers. Not all desktop support is like this. There are some very skilled techs who work in desktop support that are truly helpful and productive. Unfortunately it only takes one bad experience to sour one’s opinion.

On the other hand a lot of OS X and Linux users often seem slightly irritated by any form of desktop support from the world of Windows. Hand a thin client to a skilled coder and see what kind of look you get. I understand the security implications, but where’s the soft spot actually located?

I prefer the approach of giving the tools to those who actually do the work that keep the machine running. Sometimes you need to have faith in the person with the screw driver in their hand. That brings me to my point of useful skills for the future. Learn Linux, work more from the shell/terminals, and learn how to use a screw driver (tools). Of course these are all just considerations that may not be widely accepted.

Reading is good, gaining experience through “doing”, and figuring out what works, and what doesn’t may improve your confidence level. Confidence is good to have, but it should be based on some productive abilities.

Practice on non-production systems, offline, and with proper permissions. Never “test” on any system that could have negative impact due to some preventable mistake.

Many companies invest a lot of resources into training low skilled workers to do “higher skilled” focused jobs, but that doesn’t mean these workers can’t learn on their own. I think you should always try to improve “your skills” which may not necessarily be the skills you are required to have or limited to in your present situation. The world is full of surprises. Prepare for your future.

With AI, G-5, Robots, companies contemplating “right sizing”, and cloud computing all picking up momentum in the coming year – what should you do? Here’s my simple advice; don’t let stress sidetrack you. Get enough sleep, remember what your priorities are and be yourself. Sounds like bad advice, but it may not be. You’ll figure it out. Have a cup of coffee and watch the snow drifts change the lay of the land.

Put One Foot In Front Of The Other

It’s the Christmas season with snow, holiday decorations, lights, carols, and layoffs,

The end of the year isn’t all fun and Christmas games, but so what. Even if you don’t celebrate the Christmas spirit, you have to admit it’s definitely a mixed bag of extreme highs, and extreme lows. Some are happy, some are angry, some are just waiting to go home and get out of the rat race for a little while – either by choice or due to some unfortunate circumstances. The latest round of layoffs usually add a dash of misery to the holiday season, What a great time to roll these spirit crushing announcements out. It’s been a common trend year after year no matter what the current state of politics happens to be on any given year. If you’re just starting your career – get used to it. It happens to be a fact of work life for many.

So what do you do? If everything is going great in your world then enjoy it. If you just got walked out the door – have a christmas cookie. It’s the holiday season, who can get upset with all these festive lights and Christmas music? Even old Ebenezer Scrooge didn’t layoff Bob Cratchit just before Christmas. All Bob really had to do was bring his own bucket of coal into work if he wanted to turn the heat up. That sounds reasonable enough by today’s standards.

Well, well, well, old Ebeneezer doesn’t sound so bad nowadays, and Jacob Marley, well he sounds like he had way too much free time.

As every door shuts behind you another opens – or something to that effect. Maybe you’re tired of going in one door and out the other. Think of Christmas as a time to be thankful for what you do have going for you, and maybe start thinking about what’s really important in life. No matter how bad things are – there’s always someone who has it worse. That’s kind of depressing, but I do think about that now and then. Maybe you’ve got everything you need right in front of you and you don’t even realize it. If you didn’t lose your job this festive season, but you secretly kind of wish you had – you’re not alone. Lots of people think about changing their current job situation every day. This could be an indication that you might be looking for something a bit more exciting and fulfilling to do with your talent, your skill. Everyone has talent, everyone has skill – not everyone has discovered theirs yet, but it’s there. If you’re breathing, you’ve got potential. If you think you’re too old, then what do you consider the upper limit in age?

I’m thinking there might not be one.

This Christmas season remember you somehow made it this far, you must be doing something right. Be kind and helpful to others – if you can. Kindness is a rare commodity, being civil to others is a good start. Some of the best advice can be found in stop animation Christmas Classics – As Kris Kringle sings in “Santa Claus is coming to town” “Put one foot in front of the other” and soon you are walking out the door! Don’t take that too literal. Just remember that if you decide to start a new career, start your own business, update or add new skills – you have to start one step at a time. I relate everything in life to hockey, so if you expect to skate, expect to fall a few times….but get back up as quickly as you can.

Christmas isn’t about getting presents, or shopping, or office parties. It’s about hope. Hope is great, but I prefer “Trying” You can hope all you want for a better future, but if you don’t try, you wont get there. Trying is hard,

but who said you can’t have fun while you’re at it?

Sometimes a hot cup of cocoa and a Christmas cookie can be a great motivator.

Merry Christmas

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