Thursday, March 12, 2009

Finally a little respect, but long way to go

Usually when I go to the main library in my town I have to browse the computer books to see what's new. I have to say browse because Linux books were scattered throughout the Microsoft forest. Well, I couldn't believe my eyes, someone put all the Linux books on one shelf. I was elated, this is a Linux impact statement (at least to me) that says Linux is worthy and recognized, sort of. You can find them without whining.

There is still a long way to go with books in the Linux world. Most books deal with the operating system, usually from a system administrator's view point. But there needs to be more books on the applications that people use. Our library has a couple of books on Open Office but none on GIMP. While I enjoy that I can get articles and downloads about Linux applications off the net, there is great comfort in having a printed book. Books still say there is authoritative and enthusiastic interest.

So, maybe your local computer enthusiast group can pool their resources together in a fund, buy Linux and Linux application books and donate them to the library. That way over time all can share. One book at a time goes a long way. This is your official homework project!!

But since Linux info has grounded itself in the digital format for these many years, you also have to wonder why technology to access this knowledge has not been front page. Digital reading devices should be as popular as iPods. Maybe there will be a drive to cut down on paper printing. Newspapers are struggling as it is. My idea is a simple one. A digital device about the size of a magazine with a USB port. There would be kiosks into which you can plug-in your jump drive and for a small fee download your choice of newspapers and magazines. Then you plug it into your reader and read away. Subscription services could email your copies to your account. And so what if the only thing you can do with the device is read. If I had wanted a full fledged computer we already have netbooks and laptop computers and such. Keeping it simple also keeps the cost down. Some genius wants to put interactive content, sound, color, a real multimedia and pricey machine, all I want is a digital newspaper I can read.

Envision this, when I turn on my cell phone it makes a sound, displays a boot screen and then allows me to call or receive calls. Suppose a similar device or the phone itself could have a USB jack/port and you could download your subscription PDF file magazine or newspaper, then go to any LCD display plug it in and read away.

Another thing is that digital content producers want digital content in file formats they control. Look, just put it all in a PDF document format we already know and love, be done with it. For instance there is a Ubuntu magazine called "Full Circle" in .pdf format. It is a wonderful and colorful magazine. The local computer group here has a newsletter in .pdf, it is very informative and interesting. I wouldn't mind paying or donating small change for .pdf publications, even newspapers can do this.

The point, quit designing I can do everything but not so well products. It is good enough to do a few things well.

Oh yeah, speaking of books, "How to do Everything: Ubuntu" by Jeffrey T. Orloff (McGrall Hill 2008) is the most understandable Linux book I've come across so far. It has history, dispels the mysteries, has some nut and bolt talk, some mouse workouts and is user friendly. It gives you enough info so that you can comfortably "work it"and a solid base to inquire further (if you must know). What, no live-CD in the back? No John, I'm not that kind of book! This is a great read me first book.

Well the Linuxville desk is due a Spring clean-up and spruce-up, better get at it, later!

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Thanks for the review! It's nice to see the readers get exactly what I was going for. I wanted to get new users enough of a foundation in the OS and exposure to the culture so that they can feel comfortable in going further on their own and contributing to the community through questions, and eventually answers.