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Posts published by “Ken Starks”

Ken Starks is the founder of the Helios Project and Reglue, which for 20 years provided refurbished older computers running Linux to disadvantaged school kids, as well as providing digital help for senior citizens, in the Austin, Texas area. He was a columnist for FOSS Force from 2013-2016, and remains part of our family. Follow him on Twitter: @Reglue

‘We’re From Microsoft and We’ve Been Remotely Watching Your Computer’

It’s getting harder and harder to scam little old ladies these days. They’ll just up and switch to Linux on you.

The Heart of Linux

We are going into our third year of living in the Gardens of Taylor. When you come off of the city street and onto this property, you can sometimes get a creepy feeling, like this is familiar in an unpleasant sort of way. It can feel like you’ve just stepped into Stepford Village. Every yard has been manicured to match the ones on either side of it. The edging along all driveways and sidewalks is a perfect two inches across and if a weed or mushroom happens to grow within that etched space, it is gone the next time you look for it.

Ken StarksKen Starks

Ken Starks is the founder of the Helios Project and Reglue, which for 20 years provided refurbished older computers running Linux to disadvantaged school kids, as well as providing digital help for senior citizens, in the Austin, Texas area. He was a columnist for FOSS Force from 2013-2016, and remains part of our family. Follow him on Twitter: @Reglue

Conversation With Jonathan Thomas of OpenShot

The OpenShot Video Editor has had over a million downloads and might seem like the work of a large corporation. In reality, the founder, CEO and lead developer of the project works out of his home in rural Texas.

The Heart of Linux

One of the main benefits of having a booth at a conference like Texas Linux Fest is having the opportunity to hobnob with the people behind or inside some fairly impressive organizations. This year I had the good fortune to meet Jonathan Thomas, who has provided the world with OpenShot, a premiere video editing tool available for Linux, Mac and Windows.

OpenShot logoOpenShot logoThe meeting came about because Reglue’s booth was right across the aisle from OpenShot’s booth. and their display caught my eye immediately. I’ve worked with many video editing tools over the years, and frankly, I’ve usually ended up paying someone to do the work for me because I found the level of complexity and the learning curve to be insurmountable. So being placed this closely to the OpenShot Studios booth rang out as a golden opportunity, which indeed it was.

Ken StarksKen Starks

Ken Starks is the founder of the Helios Project and Reglue, which for 20 years provided refurbished older computers running Linux to disadvantaged school kids, as well as providing digital help for senior citizens, in the Austin, Texas area. He was a columnist for FOSS Force from 2013-2016, and remains part of our family. Follow him on Twitter: @Reglue

Respinning Linux

A talk with Randy Noseworthy, the man behind the Linux respins on the old computers that Reglue makes new again.

The Heart of Linux

It started back in 2009, the first year of Lynn Bender’s fantastic brainstorm “Linux Against Poverty.” Lynn’s idea and subsequent involvement with our organization, then named The HeliOS Project, would infuse our effort with an energy and inventory we still rely on today.

Respin LinuxRespin LinuxBender contacted me early in 2009 and proposed we organize an event to bring the greater Austin community, the Austin Tech community and HeliOS under one roof. We would ask people to bring unused or broken computers to our event. Through Lynn’s network connections, a 6th Street bar owner gave up his bar for an entire Saturday. That, in turn, allowed over 50 Austin geeks to converge on 6th Street to set up stations and transform the broken computers coming in the front door into fully-functioning computers going out the back door and into our waiting truck.

Ken StarksKen Starks

Ken Starks is the founder of the Helios Project and Reglue, which for 20 years provided refurbished older computers running Linux to disadvantaged school kids, as well as providing digital help for senior citizens, in the Austin, Texas area. He was a columnist for FOSS Force from 2013-2016, and remains part of our family. Follow him on Twitter: @Reglue

Having a Gas at Texas Linux Fest 2016

Deep in the heart of Texas, the Heart of Linux delves into the heart of the Texas Linux Fest. A good time was had by all.

The Heart of Linux

Texas Linux Fest 2016 is in the books, safely tucked away in the annals of free open source history, The wonderful folks who make TLF happen were again gracious enough to give Reglue a booth in the expo hall, and for those who are watching from home, space in any TLF expo hall ain’t cheap. Just like last year, Reglue Vice President Carolyn Huxley was gracious enough to work our booth and answer questions like, “What’s a Reglue?” My personal thanks for her help.

Slow start at Texas Linux Fest 2016Slow start at Texas Linux Fest 2016

Ken StarksKen Starks

Ken Starks is the founder of the Helios Project and Reglue, which for 20 years provided refurbished older computers running Linux to disadvantaged school kids, as well as providing digital help for senior citizens, in the Austin, Texas area. He was a columnist for FOSS Force from 2013-2016, and remains part of our family. Follow him on Twitter: @Reglue

The Windows Zealot

“Linux is a failed experiment,” she spit. “It has no business even existing in the tech world and I am fully capable of recovering any important files myself. I do not need your help.”

The Heart of Linux

I live in a pretty cool place. We were lucky enough to find a quiet retirement community for those over the age of 55 and/or those who have disabilities that prevent them from working. Our rent is controlled by the government, so we are living in a two bedroom, two bath apartment but are paying the average rent for a studio. How cool is that? The waiting list for these apartments is usually nine months, so we were happy to have the management call us and tell us that we could move-in less than ten days after filing our application.

broken Windowsbroken WindowsThis is an extremely nice complex. It’s what I call a Stepford complex, a neighborhood tucked away on a side street that, if you didn’t know it was here, you would never see. Everything is neatly built, with buildings perfectly in line with those on each side and with the unit across the street. The understated entrance is often blindly passed by, even when people are looking for it. The residents tend to be close to their neighbors and there isn’t a stranger in the whole place. New residents will find that within a week of their arrival, people will be standing at their door presenting them with cakes, pies, casseroles, cupcakes and cookies, all in the name of getting in the door and seeing who they are and what they are all about. Retirement communities are like that. Diane refers to folks like this as having “nose troubles.”

Ken StarksKen Starks

Ken Starks is the founder of the Helios Project and Reglue, which for 20 years provided refurbished older computers running Linux to disadvantaged school kids, as well as providing digital help for senior citizens, in the Austin, Texas area. He was a columnist for FOSS Force from 2013-2016, and remains part of our family. Follow him on Twitter: @Reglue

When A Computer Is Ready for the Junk Pile

Just because it can be kept running doesn’t mean it hasn’t outlived its usefulness.

The Heart of Linux

A month or so ago on Google Plus a spirited discussion took place on old hardware. Many held the belief that if old hardware can be used, for any reasonable need, it should stay out of the recycle cycle for as long as its able to be used, for any reasonable need. Well yeah…ya think? My organization has been doing this going on eleven years now.

Old Computer PartOld Computer Part

To that point, there was a report that a mail server failure in a large business office remained a mystery for two days until someone found an old Pentium II back in the corner of some obscure closet with a burned out power supply. It is reported that the Slackware/Debian/Red Hat machine had been plugging away as a mail server for a number of years, completely unattended. That’s feasible I suppose, but I further suppose that it’s a modern day parable about how open source can indeed, carry the day.

Ken StarksKen Starks

Ken Starks is the founder of the Helios Project and Reglue, which for 20 years provided refurbished older computers running Linux to disadvantaged school kids, as well as providing digital help for senior citizens, in the Austin, Texas area. He was a columnist for FOSS Force from 2013-2016, and remains part of our family. Follow him on Twitter: @Reglue

Anecdotal Comparison of Steam on Linux Vs Windows

The word on the street is that gaming on Linux doesn’t work as well as on Brand X. According to our everyday Super Geek, that seems to be just another Microsoft myth.

The Heart of Linux

“Hi, my name is Joan and I live in 104B. Are you the computer guy?”

I wasn’t ready to receive visitors or company. When I am within my home walls, I’m not the guy you see in public. Neither am I the guy you see at the speaker’s podium and I’m not the guy you run into at the local bodega. There are a number of things I have to do prior to being in a public place so I don’t scare the bejeesus out of the kids, so receiving unexpected company can be clumsy.

Super GeekSuper GeekWith nothing but my head peeking around the door, I signaled her to enter and I turned by back quickly as I went into the bedroom to make myself presentable to the general population. I came back out of the bedroom and placed the electronic voice simulator to my throat.

“Who told you I was a computer guy?”

Ken StarksKen Starks

Ken Starks is the founder of the Helios Project and Reglue, which for 20 years provided refurbished older computers running Linux to disadvantaged school kids, as well as providing digital help for senior citizens, in the Austin, Texas area. He was a columnist for FOSS Force from 2013-2016, and remains part of our family. Follow him on Twitter: @Reglue

The Python Kids Club

An 11-year-old asks her grandfather how computer games are made and he tells her they’re created by programmers “using complex mathematical code.” The next thing he knows, she’s learning Python on her own, and getting her chums involved too.

The Heart of Linux

“Grandpa, can you fix my computer?”

My granddaughter’s face beamed back at me via the Google Hangout she triggered. She bit her lip while I finished the task I had been doing when she showed up on my screen.

“Depends baby. What did you do to break it?”

I met her gaze via the webcam and she wiggled uncomfortably, weighing the different ways she might phrase her answer.

“Well, I was sitting on the floor and when I stood up, my foot got tangled up in the cord plugged into the sockets on my desk and the black power thingy fell and broke my screen.”

Actually, my daughter had already texted me about this and told me how much Karen had cried because she broke the laptop grandpa bought her for graduating on the honor roll. She had what my daughter called “a Karen Moment.” Not breaking the stuff their grandpas buy them is important to 12-year-old-girls.

I didn’t chide or scold. I told her to tell her mom to mail the laptop to me and I would fix it. She could pick it up when she came to visit us next Sunday. As I promised, she left with it last Sunday, happy as a 12-year-old child can be and she promised not to break it again. I kissed her on the head and told her that was fine. Little does she know that her grandpa would charge the gates of hell with a bucket of water for her.

Ken StarksKen Starks

Ken Starks is the founder of the Helios Project and Reglue, which for 20 years provided refurbished older computers running Linux to disadvantaged school kids, as well as providing digital help for senior citizens, in the Austin, Texas area. He was a columnist for FOSS Force from 2013-2016, and remains part of our family. Follow him on Twitter: @Reglue

The Anatomy of a Linux User

Some new GNU/Linux users understand right away that Linux isn’t Windows. Others never quite get it. The best distro designers strive to keep both in mind.

The Heart of Linux

Nicky isn’t outwardly remarkable in any way. She’s a thirtysomething who decided to go back to school later in life than most. She spent six years in the Navy until she decided a job offer from an old friend would be a better bet than a career in the armed forces. That happens a lot in any of the post-war military service branches. It was at that job where I met her. She was the regional manager for an eight state trucking broker and I was driving for a meat packing outfit in Dallas.

LinuxLinux

We became good friends in 2006, Nicky and me. She’s an outgoing spirit, curious about almost anyone whose path she crosses. We had an ongoing Friday night date to go fight in an indoor laser combat arena. It wasn’t rare for us to burn through three 30 minute sessions in a row. Maybe it wasn’t as cheap as a paint ball arena, but it was climate controlled and had a horror game feel to it. It was during one of those outings that she asked me if I could fix her computer.

Ken StarksKen Starks

Ken Starks is the founder of the Helios Project and Reglue, which for 20 years provided refurbished older computers running Linux to disadvantaged school kids, as well as providing digital help for senior citizens, in the Austin, Texas area. He was a columnist for FOSS Force from 2013-2016, and remains part of our family. Follow him on Twitter: @Reglue

How Do You Support Your Distro?

The Heart of Linux

The lead developer of Pinguy Linux, Antoni Norman, has said he’s considering shutting the project down due to a lack of funds. This raises the question: How much do you give to the distro you use?

I think of them as our own little personal supernovas. There’s a brilliant flash when a Linux distro tosses in the towel and calls it quits. But whenever a distro goes away, it leaves behind the people who’ve used and worked with it on a daily basis. While there’s no formation of a black hole, there is a hole at the center of users’ work schedules and that disruption can do serious damage to those relying on the distro’s stability. And while getting a new distro installed and running isn’t the nightmare it used to be, it’s still a pain.

Ken StarksKen Starks

Ken Starks is the founder of the Helios Project and Reglue, which for 20 years provided refurbished older computers running Linux to disadvantaged school kids, as well as providing digital help for senior citizens, in the Austin, Texas area. He was a columnist for FOSS Force from 2013-2016, and remains part of our family. Follow him on Twitter: @Reglue

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