“Awaiting the new year”

Finally we come to the conclusion of 2020. We got rain and we got snow. What a way to slide into 2021. It’s been a rough year for many, and certainly the strangest in recent memory. Many of our lives may be forever altered by the pandemic, lock-downs, and social division that dominated daily life and almost all the bizarre news dissemination. Since it appears that you’ve made it to the end of the year then congratulations. I hope you’re hanging in there and continue to do so through the coming year.

According to some official statements we may be heading into the “worst of it” after the holidays. “dark days are coming” is not exactly the most optimistic or inspiring message I had hoped to hear. The latest reports of a new even more contagious variant of the Covid19 virus detected out west are concerning. Hospitals reaching capacity around the country compound the prospect that the “worst of it” statement may be more accurate than many would like to believe. There’s no sense in following the lead of the media by blaming one side or the other. It’s not worth wasting the time or energy just to find fault. Life is tough – no kidding, why blame anyone or anything when it probably won’t change much?

This last year has forced many of us to learn how to be self sufficient, take care of ourselves, family and some truly unfortunate groups who could use a hand once in a while. Sure there are those who coast through life, but that seems boring and unfulfilling. Hats off to those who make their own way through life without expecting everything to be easy. If you work hard you deserve all the best. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work out that way, but you hang in there and keep trying. Some don’t, some can’t and some just wont. Too bad, you’re probably missing a lot of things you’ll never understand. A lot of good life lessens can be had by hard work.

Next year could be rough, things might get better, most likely they will be much the same. That doesn’t mean that we can’t try to make things a little better. It’s well enough for one person to say this, but not so simple to actually do. I’ll go with best effort and give it my best. This last year highlighted a lot of weaknesses attributed to what I would call lack of interest. Some might say laziness on the part of those who should be more on the ball. You might just blame it on bad luck. In any event, it wasn’t all bad. Somehow I got a lot of things done that I thought I wouldn’t get to do. When the first lock downs started last spring I thought that I might not get to finish some of the projects I had on my plate for the year, but things seemed to work out – even though a lot of restrictions made even simple tasks somewhat difficult. You push through and do what you can while you are able to.

Not every challenge this year could be blamed on the biological virus. The cyber-security issues we saw this past year might have been avoidable if some directives didn’t always rely on finding what may seem like easy solutions for what might otherwise require better oversight and deeper understanding of how things should function. It seems that everyone wants a push button to perform complex work without the need to understand what that push button actually does. That can lead to overlooking weak points and sometimes miss much better solutions. Great solutions don’t always incur the same costs of the push button solutions, but rather require a richer skill set. How many people out there are calling the shots, but don’t actually know much about the actual work that needs to be done? You’ll see that glazed over look in someone’s eyes when you pull up a terminal and start typing in some commands that do the same thing a bloated graphical interface would do – only with less drama. Think of all the Zoom and Teams calls where someone couldn’t get their microphone off mute. On the other hand, this last year proved that some people are much more productive working remotely where they can devote their full attention to their work without all the annoyances that come built in with some overly structured situations.

I propose that the least painful solution isn’t always the best. You might have to do a little more work to get things accomplished, but sometimes the best solution can be the easier solution if you know what you’re doing. I know there’s an argument that points to the limitations of budgeting constraints dealing with resources and licenses, but what do you do if your budget is practically zero – as some groups are often challenged to work with? You have to become resourceful – if possible, or you might not get much accomplished.

I myself wasted some time this past year trying to focus on working with Windows OS only applications. Yes, the new improved MS Linux subsystem is interesting, but for my process of doing things it was evident early on that I just needed to go back to a Debian based operating system and stick to the main repository for any of my application needs. I’ll continue in this direction, although I continue to depend on a Chromebook for my mobile solution.

I recently did the unthinkable and swapped out my iPhone for an Android, and it actually works very well for what I do. Eventually I hope to streamline my entire work setup to just an Android Phone and a Chromebook. I’ll probably still have a Linux laptop for use on some software solutions for testing when I’m not on the road, but we’ll see how that works out if we get placed in an even stricter lock down in the next few weeks. If I don’t have to use Windows OS for my projects or other support issues, I won’t. I’m sure it’s perfect for some people, but I prefer Linux. I look at most Linux distributions as a Swiss Army knife for computer work. If the repository contains a good set of basic applications then usually I’ll have enough to get most tasks accomplished.

Most of the time I either work from the terminal or use a browser. Why make things more complicated then they need to be? If I was big into PC games I would most likely use Microsoft, but I’m not, so I don’t. If Windows 10 is your go to workhorse, then that’s wonderful. You probably use your iPhone more than your laptop, but that’s just a wild guess.

Mac users impress me the most – they seem to do everything they need to do with one laptop and never seem to have too many work limiting issues. The Macbook Pro and Air are great machines, but I just never got used to how they do some things. They’re great, but not for me. That doesn’t mean I won’t ever go back to using one, just not at this time.

I am hoping to upgrade to a new Chromebook in 2021 hopefully with a little more memory and processing power than my soon to be outdated Samsung, but it still works, and only the “Pixelbook Go” really looks like a worthy upgrade to what I’m using my current Chromebook for. Hopefully we’ll see some nice offerings this year for consideration. I want to stay in line with my “do more with less” philosophy, but my Lenovo running MX is also getting a little old. The screen could definitely use an upgrade. I have gotten my money’s worth out of my older equipment – mostly because I run Linux and Chrome OS, but I also know that it’s getting to be time to update. Having the ability to run Linux on a Chromebook is also a nice perk. It’s not quit as weird as running Linux inside of Windows.

With all the strange things going on in the world, It’s nice to focus on being productive, especially at a time when there are so many restrictions and limitations that impact your day to day life. Work can be a nice distraction from all the negative noise you see and hear in the news. It’s true that some work is not so great, but sometimes it is rewarding. You need the tools, resource, and time to get things done, but you also need to take a break and take in the moment. This is a unique time, and if things do get a little rough in the coming months you should try to be as prepared as you can. I have learned a lot in this last year just from getting through day to day.

Maybe this year we’ll see more people get back to basics. They’ll work from the command line or Powershell in Windows, and focus more on BASH in LINUX and look to the past for inspiration from the good old UNIX days. It’s interesting to think how powerful the old UNIX systems were and yet NT sort of stole the show. Now here we are.

So – next year I’ll make an attempt to have a more simplistic approach to solving any issues or problems that come up. I’ll try to avoid worrying about things I can’t change and focus on those things that actually do matter to me. Hopefully everyone will get along a little better so that we can all stay productive even when the world throws a few curve balls from time to time.

With all that in mind, I hope next year is a good year for everyone. We don’t need any more bad news, real or fake for a long time. ……………………..Good news a little more often would be highly appreciated.

Happy New Year

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