Wednesday, May 29, 2013

PC or PoC: The Summer Projects

Announcing our upcoming projects for PC or PoC.

Dell Laptop
Old Dell Laptop
Whitebox Laptop
Asus Laptop / Tablet
Original Gigastrand PADD
Surge Sarem Media Center

Gigastrand Server
Gigastrand Minimum System Requirement (MSR) Box
Gigastrand DVR
Mr. Gigabytes DVR

Dahon 88
Trek Jazz Latitude
"Spaghetti" Bike

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

PC or PoC: Reaching out

We are working on new computers and new materials for PC or PoC. We are also branching out. We will be bringing in more PCs but also going into other technology.

One of the things that I enjoy (other than computers) is fixing bicycles. 

Yup. Bicycles.

I have a few that are ongoing projects. They are nothing really to write home about. One I bought new and had it for over 20 years. Another was a junk bike that someone was going to throw away and I completely refurbished it. Another is a classic foldable bike that I am still working on.

Don't get me wrong, we will still have the classic technology you have grown to love but, we will branch out a bit.

Besides, it's my blog.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Casual Fridays: The Radio Shack Story

Once upon a time I worked at Radio Shack. One of the best things about working there was I got to meet local bands. When I met them I often asked who they were and if they had a demo tape. Many were happy to oblige.

One night, shortly before closing an old van tore into the parking lot and a couple of guys and a couple of girls came out. From their distinct look, I knew they were in a band together.

They swarmed into the store like a ground blizzard across a rural highway each going in separate directions. I talked to each of the members in turn and finally to the lead singer.

"So you guys are in a band?" I asked.
"Yup. We're playing the Pomp Room downtown before it closes."
"Where are you from?"
"Altanta. We drove all the way up here in that hunk of junk." He indicated the old van.
"What is the name of your band?"
"thesshhmapontinwisgemelaninfsdness." Is what I heard.
"What was that?"
"thesshhmapontinwisgemelaninfsdness." He said again.
Not wanting to be rude and ask a third time, I asked if they had a demo tape. To this they shot looks at each other and snickered.

They soon left and I didn't think more of it.

Years later, unbeknownst to me, I had bought their album. When I looked at the band photos, I thought to myself, "these guys look familiar."

Another few years passed and I was watching a documentary when an image of Billy Corgan - with hair - appeared on the screen. It was at that moment that I realized who I had met all those years ago - The Smashing Pumpkins! I finally put 2 and 2 together and figured out that what that singer had said was "The Smashing Pumpkins with Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness."

"Wow," I thought, "I met the Smashing Pumpkins and it only took me half a decade to figure it out."


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

PC or PoC Back next week.

After we have taken a short break, PC or PoC will be back next week with new posts. We will be branching out from computers and smartphones to...bicycles?

Stay tuned!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Gigastrand BETA 3 now available!

Ok, ok. Better late than never. Gigastrand OS Beta 3 is now available! Download it here:

Beta 3 is RC1 for the Free edition of the Gigastrand OS. We have added several drivers and corrected some minor issues. Unless some other issues are uncovered, this will be the last BETA before release.

We will be switching our focus to the Open version in the next few months - that is, if we can get the money to develop it. All of the money we have raised thus far has been used to get to Beta 3 and is currently being used for support system development.

We need your help. Go to to donate and purchase products. All of the proceeds will go to the development.

Give us what you can. We even accept Bitcoin!

What is the Gigastrand OS?

The elevator pitchGigastrand OS is a self-supporting PC operating system designed with superior cross-platform compatibility but is safer and less expensive to operate than other systems.

That is great and all, but there is so much more to the story. The conversation I have with most people often goes like this:

Me: Gigastrand is creating it's own operating system!
Person: That's great! What is an operating system?
Me: Do you know Microsoft Windows or Android?
Person: Yeah.
Me: Those are operating systems.
Person: Oh. What does it do?
Me: An operating system is software that allows other programs to run on a device.
Person: Ahh...That's cool.

Now, not everyone is quite so oblivious as my example would have you believe. The people who get it, you see their eyes get REALLY big and usually say something like "Are you serious?" or "Wow, that is quite an undertaking!"

Now, conversations aside, even people who get it really don't understand why the world needs another OS. We have Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Linux, Linux, Linux, and so on. The Gigastrand OS is (after all) another Linux distribution, however, if it came down to JUST making another distro, we simply wouldn't do it.

Origin That was part of the issue back in 2007 when the idea of the Gigastrand OS first came to light. We had a concept of what we wanted to do and how we wanted to go about doing it, but the task was monumental and we put the idea on a shelf.

In September 2012, We dusted off the idea and took another look at it. After many years of working with people transitioning to Linux, I sat down and made a list of what were the biggest obstacles people faced when transitioning to ANY new operating system. I will forgo the agony of itemizing that list here.

All told, it really doesn't matter what OS you move to or from, the biggest issue is compatibility. Some software just will not work with the system you are moving to.

Kickstarter So, we started the Gigastrand OS on Kickstarter touting the OS as a "transitional Linux". That is, a Linux distro specifically designed to assist users in the transition from other OSes to Linux.

While this was all true, we found that those most interested in Linux had the least to gain from it. While Linux users wanted more people to run Linux, they themselves were not the target audience. By the time we realized this, there wasn't enough time or money left to target a new audience on Kickstarter effectively.

During the month the Gigastrand OS was on Kickstarter, the idea had evolved. In the land of multiple OSes and Ubuntu Phones, a "transitional Linux" was a good, yet incomplete idea.

The current incarnation of the Gigastrand OS is deeply embedded into our business plan. The Gigastrand OS will be at the center of everything we sell. We plan to load the OS on every device that can handle it and provide the best support possible with the latest technology available.

The Gigastrand OS is different in the fact that many programs are already pre-loaded on installation. Rather than giving the user just the basics and letting them figure it out by themselves, we load many programs that users may want or want to try. 

The Self-Supporting OS Concept The other thing that makes Gigastrand OS unique is the support system being developed. The aim is to utilize various support technologies to make the Gigastrand OS completely self-supporting. That is, all of the support will come from systems and services contained within the operating system itself rather than outside sources. 

That means you, your users, or your help-desk staff do not need to be fluent in Linux to get help when they need it.

The Vision
For me, building an operating system is about accessibility and education - in that order. I want to make an OS that puts all of what Linux has to offer at the user's fingertips and then to stand by, ready to assist and educate where necessary.

In Conclusion
There are many thing that building an OS is not about. Things like dumbing down technology, exploiting its users, or protecting corporate profits. Nor are we trying to make the prettiest, fanciest, or slickest OS. We are simply building an OS based on proven technology that is easy to use, easy to transition into, and easy to get help when you need it.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Casual Friday: How Public Radio saved my life.

"On a long and lonesome highway, east of Omaha..."

Well it was US 20 west of Valentine, NE on a dark day in the middle of Winter. Anyone who has traveled that road knows it is one of the most boring drives in Nebraska - not that driving in Nebraska is all that exciting to begin with.

It had been a late night / early morning kind of day and I was trying just to get to the hotel for the night. I was exhausted and probably should not have been driving in the condition I was in. Being winter, I couldn't just pull over and take a nap on that narrow highway lined by snowbanks.

I am not unfamiliar with road fatigue and had a fair number of tricks to stay alert. Things like listening to heavy metal music, singing the same - very loud and attempting to be in key, getting angry about something and pretending to have an argument with someone about it, and my hat trick: recordings of musical comedy like Stephen Lynch and Williams and Ree.

That night I had exhausted those tricks and was in a bad way. I needed a new trick.

Scanning the rather scattered band of stations, I was able pick up South Dakota Public Radio out of Martin airing "All Things Considered". Robert Siegel was talking about something technology related and, while I really cannot recall what it might have been, my ears perked up and my mind was immediately engaged. (Geek and Technology tend to go hand-in-hand).

The result had such an immediate effect on my weariness that I tend to describe it as taking a shot of caffeine straight to the heart. I was wide awake all the way through to my hotel.

Many of my friends and relatives are puzzled as to why talk radio would wake me up rather than put me to sleep as it does them. I can only explain it by telling them my mind seems pre-disposed to gathering information when it is presented. Even when topics strayed from my core interests, I still listened intently as though my mind was starving for any piece of information to digest.

I still listen to Public Radio on the road to this day.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Gigastrand OS: The new computer security

Once upon a time, viruses were all about screwing up a computer in the worst way possible.

Not anymore

The new game is about stealthily acquiring information. Phishing is one example of this type of strategy and users of any operating system can fall victim of this. This method, though effective, is a primitive way to gather information.

The new game is to place a piece of software on your computer to watch you and what you do, gather passwords, and do so in a way that does not make you suspicious or interfere with your PC. It happens all the time and it is incredibly easy in Windows. 

Which, to be perfectly honest, surprises the hell out of me. Since Windows 95, Microsoft has had 18 years of patching vulnerabilities in Windows software, yet, Windows 7 and 8 still have issues with malicious code circumventing Windows security. This is such an issue that the very term "Windows security" has itself become an oxymoron.

To be fair, Microsoft has not sat idly by and let vulnerabilities in their code go. They have made and issue patches on a daily basis. They are also stuck with the demon of maintaining backwards compatibility or their customers are outraged. While none of these things are easy,  Windows itself really does need a page 1 rewrite. Asking the user to make decisions about PC security or blocking things the user wants to do just doesn't cut it.

That is why I run Linux. I am not stuck with an OS that is outdated when some company decides it is nor do I worry about my PCs security. Linux puts the user in control of their own system - as it should be.

Now, Linux has its problems too - namely support. Lots of options, lots of security but not terribly friendly and not a lot of one-on-one support. Don't get me wrong, desktop Linux is very friendly when it comes to simply running native programs, however, when it comes to doing anything more complicated, it can be difficult to say the least - and this is coming from someone who is creating a Linux OS.

The bottom line is that Gigastrand OS is attempting to solve all of the issues with Linux. Because it is Linux, you already have a baseline security. Gigastrand OS goes further by addressing one-on-one support, ease of access, and compatibility. We hope that this OS will be Linux people will be able to switch to to fix the Windows vulnerabilities permanently.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Casual Fridays: Paint

In keeping with the theme of discovering true talent, I came across a viral video you may have seen by Jon Cozart (A.K.A. "Paint"). He is one of those mainly undiscovered, insanely talented artists that created a video that I can't see enough of.

The reason I can't see enough of it is that the parody is flawless, the music is fantastic, and the degree of difficulty has me watching it over and over trying to figure out how he did it. It has 8.2 million hits on YouTube and if you haven't seen it, go look.