Thursday, October 25, 2007

What is a "Techivist?"

Techie-activist(a). Considered myself a techie ever since 1993 when, after spending $1500 cash on my 1st PC, my buddy J helped me figure out the inner-workings of computers. I was taking ´em apart & building custom ¨rigs¨ pretty soon after.

Activist(a) stems more from volunteering over the years & not actually doing the hard work that community-based, grass roots organizers do on a daily basis. Now, those people put in some WORK & I have mad respect & admiration for all those great folks. I´ve just been a coach to 8-12 year-olds (basketball, soccer & baseball/softball), mentored in the LA Public Library´s Adult Literacy Program & contributed to several other programs & open-source projects. I´ve done but a minor speck of what so many other folks have done to give back.

The thing is, I know lots of folks that fit this description (or some hybrid, thereof). I´ve got some ideas in the works. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


So one of the presenters at the Startup Project- LA who is currently using Amazon Web Services is this startup called DopeTracks. It is a website where hip hop fans can go create beats & rhyme over user-created beats all for FREE! It is driven by Flash so there is nothing to download or install on your computer. I checked it out (briefly) & think it is a great tool for our youth who are lovers of hip hop to produce & MC. While it is not perfect, you cannot go wrong with "free" & it even has a feature to export your rhymes & beats to your MySpace page.

While it is not a production-quality digital audio workstation (DAW), it is still a wonderful tool- personally I use Reason as my DAW. Especially since DAWs (Pro Tools, Reason, Cubase, etc.) are quite expensive so, hence, make it financially prohibitive for folks to even play around with the technology who do not have the means to do so. Give it a try, you might dig it!

Startup Project- LA

So I attended the Startup Project- LA event on 10/23/07 at the V Lounge in Santa Monica hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS). I recognized the place right away since I used to go clubbing there when it used to be called Lush. However, some of the negatives started showing themselves right away. Parking was a nightmare as the nearby side-streets had street sweeping on one side & "parking by permit only" on the other. I finally found a metered spot 4 blocks away but it was 2-hour parking for a 5-hour event, oh well. I went inside, got my name badge & noticed no room to sit (they'd just started setting up some folding chairs). Lastly, the whole event felt more like a marketing ploy. Heck, even my friend, Eric, who'd turned me onto AWS at SGVLUG's Slashdot party (& who's using it extensively) bailed early. I stuck around a little longer than I would've only because I wanted to let traffic on the 10 settle down.

But there's good news. Amazon Web Services is really awesome as cloud computing seems to be the wave of the future. Additionally, it's super, duper cheap to use (1 of the presenters talked about having a $60/month bill, which is amazing to me) & seems to be getting adopted by all types of businesses- not just startups. Everyone I spoke with from Amazon was really knowledgeable, friendly & ready to help me with the solution I'm thinking of providing through my small business (that, in itself, was worth the trip for me). Lastly, the presenters provided interesting & unique ways in which they're using AWS for their varied businesses.

All in all, it was a worthwhile endeavor with a few logistical problems & provided me with a nice learning experience & a chance to network with some like-minded entrepreneurial geeks. :) Course

The latest Linux Basics course starts Nov 1st. It's being done through a forum format which is very interesting. The previous 2 times they've offered this awesome, free course they've done it through a mailing list format. It's a great course that brings together a wide range of people- beginners through advanced users are all welcome. It's a valuable online resource that I highly recommend to everyone (especially all of those people I'm trying to convert away from the behemoth known as Windows). There's a couple of online books that are used as a guideline, they get together once a week to review & discuss the material & it lasts roughly 4 months.

Whether you're a long-time user & want to use it as a refresher or want to introduce yourself to all the awesomeness, flexibility & power involved in the Linux OS, give it a shot, you might learn a thing or three!

Darnitt, I missed the October22nd march!

Boy, I was really looking forward to the march, rally & vigil against police brutality but I've been working every day & October 22nd was no different. I was there in spirit, however. I'll just have to show my support by attending the monthly "Fightin' Words" open mic nights more often (been to 1 & it was awesome!). The October 22nd Coalition is a grass roots organization which attempts to make October 22nd a National Day of Protest against injustices enacted by some members of law enforcement (not all, we all know there are MANY good peace officers who are trying to help their communities but a few rogue cops give that 99% majority a bad name).

A bit about this movement:
The October 22nd Coalition is a national network of people from all walks of life who want to see an end to police brutality. The coalition began in 1995 as a response to the hundreds of police brutality cases throughout the county. Since then, activists, friends, and family members of victims have held annual marches and community events to expose cases of police violence throughout the nation. The coalition is also an advocate of youth issues, and is outspoken about the many repressive laws and tactics used to criminalize youth in this country. Join us as we organize and fight against police brutality and the criminalization of a generation.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day

Today is National Blog Action Day & the topic is "the environment." This blog will be a two-headed monster.

From a computing standpoint, there's a LOT of things you can do in your home to preserve the environment. Only buy & use "Energy Star Compliant" monitors as they not only use less energy but use that energy more efficiently. All newer monitors have this feature but it's the older monitors that you need to check. Make sure to turn off both your monitor & desktop when not in use. While this is a given, a lot of people don't do this since the energy used isn't that much (but that's changing with beefier power supplies, video cards & cpu's). Make sure to buy & use recycled paper & recycled print cartridges for your printer. Also, utilize the service that most office supply companies provide for their customers & recycle your old print cartridges (heck, you even get like $3 per). Lastly, make sure to take all of your e-waste (old computer parts, electronics, etc.) to valid e-waste sites. Many cities have monthly e-waste deposit days & convenient locations to do so. Check your local listings.

Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" has garnered a lot of attention, an Academy Award & Al Gore, himself, just won the Nobel Peace Prize for it. Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for the awesome publicity that this famous documentary & the subsequent awareness that's been produced. However, is it all really well-deserved. There's a boatload of scientists who've been talking about this since the 1970's without anyone even noticing or giving THEM their proper respect. Also, it's a little-known fact that Al Gore's family (not necessarily Al Gore, himself) made their millions on oil deposits off the coast of Colombia. Do you think they did everything "by the book," in an environmental-friendly way in a country far away from the prying eyes of EPA? Yea, didn't think so. All the political pundits think he should run for President in '08. This would be a moot point if he hadn't been robbed in 2000 by George W. Bush & his brother Jeb Bush's (*cough* coincidental *cough*) "Hanging Chad Conspiracy" that occurred in Florida. But we should all take a step back when back-patting all these supposed "green-minded" celebrities...I mean, c'mon, they all drive bigger cars (several of them), have bigger homes (which require more energy to maintain lit & warm) & some even hop in their jets! It's good they're at least conscious about our resources but, generally, they leave a MUCH larger carbon footprint on the environment than the average joe. Don't believe the hype!