lunes, 29 de junio de 2009

Do you know Linux?

Linux is incredibly sexy. I love it. Here's a basic introduction for those who are not familiar with it yet.

What is Linux?

"Linux" is a generic name for lots of different computer operating systems. Those are all based on the Linux kernel. The kernel is the hard core of an operating system. The Linux kernel was originally programmed by a guy called Linus Torvalds. That's where the name "Linux" comes from.

The project grew rapidly and since then many programmers have contributed to developing both the kernel and various Linux distributions. (A Linux distribution is a complete Linux system, including lots of programs, ready to be installed on a computer.)

For example Debian, which I use, is being programmed by hundreds of volunteers all around the world! Isn't that beautiful? :-)

Some Linux versions are the collective creation of communities, like Debian or Gentoo. Others have been developed by companies, for example SuSe, RedHat, Mandriva, or Ubuntu. There are many different distributions, both commercial and non-commercial.

Why so many Linuxes?

Linux is free software. Some distributions contain or give access to pieces of non-free software, but most of the stuff, including the kernel, is free.

Free software means that everybody is free to use it, to see the source code, to modify it, to sell it or give it away to others for free, both in its original or in a modified form - basically to do whatever the heck they want with it. The only restriction is that when the software, in whatever form, is sold or given for free, the persons who buy or receive it also have the same right to get the source code and do with it whatever the heck they want.

So for example I am free to download a Linux version of minesweeper, to replace the flags with chocolate cakes, and then to sell my chocolate cake minesweeper to you for a thousand dollars. And you in turn are free to put it on your website for everybody to download it for free.

This explains why there are so many different Linux distributions. Everybody is free to make their own!

Free software is not necessarily free as in costing nothing. Most of the time this is the case though. You can download many Linux distributions and programs free of charge.

I love the concept!

What does Linux look like?

Linux desktops can look in all kinds of ways. Unlike in Windows, where there is only one possible graphical user interface, in Linux you can choose among many different window managers and desktop environments. (These are the programs that take care of all the graphical stuff.) So you have a huge choice of different looks available to you. You can even pick a different one every time you log in.

Here just a few examples:

This is what the desktop on my previous computer, Antonio, looked like.

It is a window manager called fvwm2. No menus, no panels, no icons, nothing. No mouse either. I controlled it completely over the keyboard.

This wasn't the original configuration of fvwm2 - but since all files are accessible, if you don't like something, you just change it!

Those windows you are seeing are called shells. They allow you to enter text commands instead of clicking on menus and icons. I love using shells.

This other one is very simple and elegant as well. It's called Twm. To access the menus you just click on the background. Here with a white shell, on my new computer, Protein.

There are also more complex and comfortable desktop environments, which work exactly the way Windows would. The following one is called KDE.

KDE is quite flexible. You can add fancy wallpapers, more panels at the bottom and on the sides of the desktop, icons all over the place, etc. It can look a lot like Windows, too. Look:

And this is Gnome. It's the one I'm currently using. Here too you can have lots of menus, panels, icons and all that. I personally enjoy simplicity, so I keep it clean.

If you pay attention to the panel in KDE, you'll see in both pictures this grid with numbers. 1-4 in the first one, 1-10 in the second one. The same is visible in the bottom right corner of Gnome, just without numbers. In my fvwm2 (the black screen above) they were not visible, but I had nine of them. These are virtual desktops.

Unlike in Windows, where you have to squeeze all of your programs on one desktop, in Linux there are several desktops, and you can switch between them at will. I love virtual desktops. They are so incredibly practical!

As you can see, Linux is very nice. :-)

I'd like to say a few words about its inventor, or else something would be missing.

Who is Linus Torvalds?

In the early 90's Linus Torvalds was a Finnish computer science student at the University of Helsinki. He programmed his system instead of studying. This is a great example of how going for what you truly love instead of doing what's expected can lead to huge success.

I read his biography a few years ago. If I remember well, he said he programmed the Linux kernel in his bedroom, eating junk food and skipping the classes. After Linux had become famous, the university gave him a diploma anyway. At the time the book was written, he was working in the US and earning lots of money. Since then he has quit his job though, and now works for the Linux Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and developing Linux.

One anecdote in the book that I remember very well is how Linus met his wife. He was giving a computer science course at university and asked his students to write him an email as an exercise. Back then this wasn't as trivial as it is today. A female student used this exercise to ask him out in her email. I remember the sentence "I married the first woman who asked me out electronically", which I found cute.

If you're interested in reading the biography, here it is: Just for Fun, the story of an accidental revolutionary. The book certainly is not earth-shattering. If you want to learn about Linus as a person, it is an easy and pleasant read.

miércoles, 24 de junio de 2009

Five Years Smoke Free!

Yay! Yesterday, June 23, was my non-smoker five years anniversary. I smoked my last cigarette on June 22, 2004, at 23:51. :-)

Quitting smoking is one of the most difficult things I ever did. I was extremely addicted to cigarettes. I remember that I had to smoke three of them first thing in the morning before I was able to do anything else. Sometimes I even smoked them while still lying in bed. I avoided places where smoking was forbidden, and even a bus ride made me anxious, because I couldn't smoke on the bus.

It took me 320 days to be over it. The two first months were uninterrupted torture. I thought it'd never stop. After that, it went up and down. I remember once sitting in a bar and crying my eyes out, because the cravings were so unbearable. At other times I was perfectly fine and barely thought of it. On day 275, I almost smoked again! On day 320 I had my last significant craving. After that, I sure got the occasional "I could smoke..." thought, but nothing serious. Now, I never think about smoking anymore.

Except on June 23, of course. :-D

What really helped me is that my friend Tom quit smoking together with me. That's how we became friends in the first place. During the first year, we checked in on each other regularly, talked about how we were doing, and congratulated each other. It helped me a lot to know that I had a partner who counted on me and that smoking again would pull him down as well. Thank you Tom. :-)

The other helping factor was rfo. Rfo is a German website called dedicated to helping people quit smoking ("rauchfrei" means "smoke free"). The site is great. If you happen to speak German and want to quit smoking, check it out!

On rfo there was such a nice community of people supporting each other that I felt I just had to succeed. They were so encouraging and believed in my success so much, how could I prove them wrong? Some there also admired my persistence, especially beginners and some of those who slipped up often. I knew they were looking up at me and that it would be very helpful for them to see it IS doable. Being a shining example gave me a lot of strength.

There also were a few people there who clearly did not like me. Those were even more helpful. The one time when I was sitting in the bar crying, the only reason I did not smoke was that those people would be happy if I did! :þ

I want to create something similar to rfo, but in English, for people all around the world. This site helped me so much. I believe that without rfo I would never have quit smoking. What a pity it's not available in more languages! I asked Dietmar, the creator of rfo, if he allows me to copy his site's idea and structure and to create my own version of it in English. Not only did he agree, he was even happy about it.

I already have the entire website in my head, I know exactly what I want to do. It will be a closed community. Each user will be able to write a public diary. There will be a forum and a chat, and a hall of fame, where every ten days or so, the happy non-smoker gets a loving cup. Every day, the members will get tasks to complete to keep them motivated and help them on their journey into freedom.

All this is just like rfo. The big difference between rfo and my project is the content of the tasks. Rfo is based mostly on traditional psychology, whereas my website will be an intensive personal development coaching program. Of course it will be targeted specifically at breaking the nicotine addiction, but I hope it'll be of some more general value as well.

I'm very excited about this project. As soon as I can afford to hire a programmer, I'll implement it! :-)

EDIT: Oohhhh!!! >:-( I just wanted to visit rfo to proudly claim that I am still smoke free... and saw it doesn't exist anymore! :'(

Well, now I REALLY have to implement my idea.

viernes, 19 de junio de 2009

One New Habit a Month Challenge #6: 100% Raw Vegan

This month I will be focusing on maintaining a 100% raw, vegan diet. I will do it primarily in order to boost my psychic abilities.

Today, as every month, I had a hard time choosing my new habit. I made a huge list of all the awesome habits I want to have some day, and asked my Higher Self:

- Is there a habit that I can adopt this month, that I did not list here, and that would be better aligned with all of my goals than all those listed here?
- Yes.
- Oh. Which life area does it belong to?
- Psychic development.
- Cool! I love working on my psychic development. Which habit is it?
- Eating 100% raw.
- Whaaat?!

In my eyes a raw diet belongs to health matters, not to psychic development. But it is true that my Higher Self keeps telling me to eat raw in order to improve my psychic abilities.

Some people say their diet doesn't affect their psychic abilities. But it definitely does for me. I guess there are people with various degrees of sensitivity towards foods. Some people also say that they notice no overall difference on a raw diet. For me, the difference is huge, though. It's like being sick vs. being healthy. I am particularly sensitive so I guess I really, really need to pay attention to my diet. Looks like this is not only about my health!

On June 1st I went back to 100% raw. After six days raw, I connected to my spirit guides and for the first time was able to talk with all of them. It was absolutely awesome. The communication was so clear! The experience swept me off my feet. Later I slipped up and went back to eating some cooked food. I'm still over 75% raw, but not 100%. And now, I'm not really able to connect to my guides anymore. I can, but the communication is extremely foggy and difficult. It was so frustrating that I gave up until I'm raw again.

So I can see how a raw diet does relate to my psychic development indeed. What an interesting shift in perspective!

The last time I connected to my guides, I asked

- What can I do to connect to you more easily?

It's not the first time I hear this! My Higher Self also keeps repeating this advice in a patient but DAMN PERSISTENT way. When I was eating cooked food between April 10th and May 31st, and struggling to go back to raw so much, I asked

- What can I do to make it easier for me to go back to raw?

and got the answer

- Just do it.

... which kinda annoyed me. :p

At first it did irritate me to be told to go raw this month. I know this is going to be a helluvah lot of work and take a helluvah lot of time. I'll need to entirely shift my mindset about a lot of things. I'm already very busy shifting my mindset about money, plus taking classes, working through books and audio programs, trying to blog productively, and a lot more. I was hoping to pick a "cool" habit this month, one that would not take much time, like meditating twice a day or getting up early.

Of course our spiritual resources never tell us what to do. I asked for information and got an answer. Now I can do with it whatever I want. We have free will, and I am perfectly free to say no and pick another habit. But I will listen to them.

Deep down I just know they're right. Solving the nasty diet issue once and for all now is the most obvious next step on my path. I can chicken out and ignore this truth, but it won't make it any less true, and I know it.

Plus, my goal is to grow. Picking a different habit would not be completely stupid, as they all are awesome and conducive to growth. But it wouldn't be the maximal growth I am capable of. So, let's go raw at last.

I'm looking foward to tackling this challenge!

jueves, 18 de junio de 2009

New Habit #5 - Blogging every day

"Blogging every day for at least one hour" was my fifth One New Habit a Month Challenge goal. I've had a hard time with this one! The month is over, here's my report.

A new purpose - and a new face - for my blog

Check out my new theme!  Isn't it wonderful? I love it.

I'm completely reorganizing the site at the moment, partly because I love change, and partly because as you may know I have decided to merge my blog with my PD Signpost website idea. This blog is not just about my own life anymore. Additionally I want to make it a personal development platform, to share personal development resources and help people solve their problems. Many changes are required to adapt the blog to its new purpose. That's why it's such a mess right now.

I chose entirely new categories and tags, wrote a couple new pages, and a few more are under construction. I also installed many new plugins, especially a series plugin. I want to be able to write series. Only the most recent posts are tagged and categorized for now. I'm far from being done! It's a lot of work.

Challenges I encountered

I've found it difficult to write every day. On some days I feel very talkative and outgoing, have a lot to share and could blog for ten hours straight. On other days, I feel the need to focus on my inner life and have a hard time squeezing any communication out of myself.

What I feel inspired to write about varies as well. It highly depends on my mood, and my mood usually changes before I'm done with one post. As a result, not many posts get published, even though I write a lot, because they're all in various states of unfinishedness.

It doesn't help that my posts tend to be very long. One of my drafts already has 10,000 words, and I wrote only about 1/5 of it. Of course not all drafts are  that long. Nevertheless, it takes me hours to write them.

Right now I have 48 drafts and about 200 ideas on paper. There is so much I want to write about. Logically I should be relentlessly blogging like crazy. I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed.

I'm also stuck in analysis paralysis, permanently wondering which post to write next. Like, "To write about X, I first need a post about Y. But to explain Y, I need Z and W. But for W, I need X! Argh." I'm always trying to find the most logical order for my posts. Even when I succeed, there are several "threads" and I don't know which one to begin with.  This is turning into a headache!

Will I continue?


I just love writing on my blog so much. Doing it every day is an excellent idea. It will force allow me to come up with new solutions. I'll need to find a way to increase my productivity despite of my introversion, scanner personality, overly logical mind and perfectionism!

Sounds like a nice program.

Until now the goal simply was: daily blogging. From now on the new goal is: productive daily blogging!

lunes, 1 de junio de 2009

Walking Barefoot

A few weeks ago I switched to walking barefoot, all the time and everywhere.

I didn't consciously decide to make it a new habit. It just happened. When I started developing my intuition, getting rid of my shoes followed as a natural consequence.

Why do I do it? I cannot really explain it. I just feel so much better when I walk barefoot! I feel safer, more grounded. I also feel wonderfully free! It makes me happy.

It did hurt a lot at first and I got a few blisters. But after some training the skin under my feet got thicker. Now there still are surfaces that I have a hard time walking on - especially hot asphalt - but it's getting easier and easier. I can even walk over small pieces of broken glass without cutting myself. In a few months I'll probably be trained enough to walk just everywhere.

Actually I have gotten used to it so much that my feet protest when I wear shoes now, even my super-comfortable walking shoes. The feet start hurting internally after a while, probably because they're not free to move in a natural way with the shoes on. It's like wearing some stiff gloves that would immobilize your hands all day long.