Ever do a plumbing project and it takes you hours because you don't have the tool to do the job easy? You run to the hardware store, the clerk says, "you need one of these!" It's just like the one you have but the head is bent over and the handle is really long. You reluctantly stick out your battered hand to fork over the cash. When you get back home the job takes 5 minutes.
Computing can be like plumbing. All the wires are in place but it's sometimes hard getting the data to flow where it needs to go. Here in the Linuxville guide office lab, I have a Compaq Proliant DL380, humming like a vacuum cleaner and my main PC (HP Pavilion a1030e). One runs Ubuntu 10,04 the other #!CrunchBang Linux (Ubuntu 9.04). I first needed them to share a keyboard and mouse. This is done via Synergy. Sort of a KVM in software. You run the server module on one and the client module on the other. The server's keyboard and mouse can now be used for both machines depending on where the cursor is positioned. In their specs, they say Synergy can cut-n-paste between server and client. I have not been able to discover how and if this works.
"Let them share data." There are so many ways to do this, FTP, NFS, remote, and others.......just get a little app called "Giver". Giver runs on both computers and they see each other through the network. Sort of like a data chat. Now I can pass files and folders back and forth with no effort.
Let's go back to the DL380. Why you got a big old rack mounted server in there? Well I don't really need it for a network resource manager or a user manager or web server. I could, but right now it's a beefy computer. Older yes, but it's got dual processors, RAID 1 disk array and I can learn a lot by tinkering. It needs more memory and there is no USB (I can get a PCI card for that!) and it is SCSI (scuzzy) inside. Some parts of computing you only learn by fingering the hardware.
So many techies only use computers to manage data. Caring for big and small data systems for businesses is fine. But since I worked as a drafter at NASA and seen engineers make boards from scratch and write software to run on them, I have an appreciation for "creative computing." I just wish I was smarter, techier, nerdier, etc. Also my fav movies are "TRON and Star Wars". For both of these movies, computers to produce the movies were invented as needed. They designed the hardware and software to do the jobs required. They were pie-n-ears (LOL) that's pioneers. I think that's the part missing with kids today. We want them to grow-up to be data managers, they resist (of course). It's like taking typing class in the old days. Creative computing looks more inviting. You can still manage a businesses data but the computer can do so much from remote controlling your car to designing your belt buckle (you wear a belt?).
And of course I will promote Linux. Linux does not put the $ and legal restraints on you. It is very handy when creative computing is before you. It will do the normal stuff too, quite well I might add. So with that, I take off, but take a look at these tools, next time you boot up. Guake Terminal, Synergy, Giver and the distro #!CrunchBang.