One Cause At a Time – Archive

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Archive for the ‘Video/Film’ Category

Linux: How to Avoid Linus Tech Tips’ Mistakes

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Linux is receiving greater exposure in response to news about Windows 11 updates and possible concerns. Capitalizing on this, the Linus Tech Tips YouTube channel engaged in a 30-day Linux challenge. As someone with ten years of experience working with Linux across several different laptops, I watched with interest to see how they would perform. After all, Linux is getting more attention thanks to the media as an option for people and organizations looking to reuse older hardware. The results of Linus Tech Tips’ challenge were…well, let’s watch for ourselves:

How it All started

Other tech-oriented YouTubers like Chris Titus and Techhut have chimed in with their takes. It’s easy to poke holes in Linus’ video (and at the end, he admits his mistakes), and there are those who either have outdated tech that cannot be upgraded to Windows 11 or wish to make the change to Linux. This is not a simple process but requires some thought and preparation. But unlike Linus Tech Tips, a simple Google search shouldn’t be your only option. Here’s a preliminary list of the first steps towards making the switch to Linux.

Getting Started With Linux

Before transitioning any machine to Linux, you will need to take an inventory and ask yourself some key questions. This can help guide your decision towards Linux adoption:

What Software Do You Need, and Is There An Open Source Equivalent: Looking at how you use your computer can help you determine what software you need and if there is an open-source solution that can run on Linux. If you need an office suite, LibreOffice is a full-featured alternative to Microsoft Office. For image manipulation, GIMP is a great alternative to Adobe Photoshop. It’s less about “can I run a Windows program in Linux” and more about “can I do the same things with Linux that I can with a regular computer?” (Although there are ways to run Windows software on Linux like WINE software or virtual machines). Whether using it for simple office processes or gaming, knowing why you’re using your computer can guide your Linux selection.

Refurbished Thinkpad T530 for Linux
Photo by Gordon Dymowski

A good example is a laptop I’m writing this post on – it’s a Lenovo Thinkpad T530 running Linux Mint 20.2. I use it primarily for writing both the blog and my fiction, so I rely primarily on LibreOffice and the built-in text editor. Since I am exploring the possibility of self-publishing, I also have several software packages that are alternatives to commercial packages or open-source alternatives like Calibre, Sigil, and Scribus. The only money I spent was on the laptop itself and a solid-state drive to replace the hard drive. (Total cost was approximately $200). Everything works well, the battery has a long life (almost four hours on a single charge), and Linux runs very smoothly.

Inventory Your System – One of the first things anyone should do before upgrading their system to Linux is learning their system requirements. On Windows 10, that information can be acquired in the matter of a few keystrokes, and you’ll need to know these key system processes:

  • Processor – This drives the desktop or laptop computer’s activity;
  • RAM – This is where the computer’s processes run (and can be expandable in some units)
  • Storage – How much data can your device hold and should you replace it with an SSD (solid-state drive)?
  • Video Drivers – Although Linux can work with a variety of peripherals, some that require special drivers like NVIDIA can be especially challenging for Linux.

Two Key Decisions – After being used to Windows and its various quirks, the decision to switch to Linux may be daunting. However, there are two very important preferences that you need to examine before making a final decision:

  • Stability vs. Immediacy – if you prefer your software to remain relatively stable with few quirks, you want something that derived from Debian or Ubuntu (like Linux Mint, MX Linux, Linux Lite, Pop OS, and others). If you want to be “bleeding edge” and are willing to dedicate time to precise configuration and tweaks, an Arch Linux-based distro like Manjaro might be your ideal option.
  • Workflow Style – Many people prefer a Windows-style layout and others prefer a Mac-style layout. Many Linux distros offer a variety of desktop environments. These are ways to interface with the main software, and can be preset with various levels of configurability.

Researching Linux Distributions


One key mistake that Linus Tech Tips made was a simple Google search of “best Linux distros” which are geared primarily to tech enthusiasts and those with advanced knowledge. Knowing where to start once you’ve decided to explore Linux can be challenging, but here are some easy first steps.

Toughbook Running Linux Lite
Photo by Gordon Dymowski

Check Out Their Website – Google can lead to a simple reading of a distribution website to learn its strengths and functions. Every distro has some manner of community forums that can allow you to investigate potential problems. (Also, please be warned if anyone seeking advice is being told “RTFM” – that is a huge red flag)

Distrowatch Is Also Good, But With a CatchDistrowatch is a site that focuses on recent updates to Linux distros. However, it does come with a slight warning: you will see a hierarchy of distros along the right side of the page. It’s only a ranking of unique web visits to that distro and not a ranking of the “best distros ever.” But the site provides links to both downloads and reviews to get a clearer sense of distribution features and functions.

Video Is Your Best Research Tool – Searching YouTube and Odysee for videos about Linux distros can be especially helpful as they sometimes provide screen captures of actual use. Besides Techhut and Chris Titus Tech (who has a great 30-day-switching-to-Linux playlist), other good channels include Linux for Everyone and Explaining Computers (more hardware-focused but with the occasional foray into Linux).

Linux & Windows Side-By-Side Photo by Gordon Dymowski

Test-Driving Linux Distros

This is the other major mistake that Linus Tech Tips made in their video: you never do a full switch on your computer without trying the distro first. (Plus, saying “yes” to something you’re not sure you should do is never a good idea). There are some great methods for “test driving” a Linux distro before deciding to perform a full install. This can save your computer, your time, and your patience.

Get a Feel at DistrotestDistrotest is an “online virtual machine” containing many types of Linux distros. Simply select one, wait for it to load, and working with it online can give you a great sense of how a distro “feels” in use. It’s also a great way to get a practice run as you’re deciding whether or not to switch over.

Create a USB Live Key – Running a distro off of a USB drive can be very helpful in getting a feel for Linux on your particular machine. (In fact, that’s how I test-drove several distros before deciding on Linux Mint). Explaining Computers has a great how-to video on installing and running Linux off of a USB drive. (Some distros for lower-spec machines are developed to run solely from USB drives). The other advantage is that most distros have an “install” icon on the desktop, making it easier to switch when ready.

Find/Purchase a Used/Refurbished Machine – If you have an older, less frequently used laptop lying around, that would be a great test run for any Linux distro. This would allow you to get a handle on Linux while maintaining your current operating system on your main desktop or laptop. If you’re looking for a low-cost alternative (or don’t have a spare laptop), consider checking out a digital recycling center or organization like Free Geek Chicago to purchase a low-cost laptop (and in FGC’s case, some units have Linux pre-installed).

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to poke holes in Linus Tech Tips’ attempt to install Linux, since installing and working with any operating system brings specific challenges. However, Linux has many advantages for individuals and organizations (especially community-focused ones): it is available to download free, provides flexibility in computing, and brings out the best in any particular machine. This is the “latest, but not last” word from this blog on Linux, but we are curious to see where the conversation heads next…

Speaking of conversation, we encourage you to join the conversation via the comments section below. You can email me privately via this contact form, or join the conversation on our Facebook group.

And as always, thanks for reading!

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Written by gordondym

November 15, 2021 at 10:25 am

Documentary: THE SOCIAL DILEMMA and Social Media

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Social media has been the focus of criticism in recent years. Following our review of Social Warming, we’re presenting a recent documentary about the hazards of social media. Although making its premiere on Netflix, The Social Dilemma is now available for viewing on YouTube. Catch the embed below.

(If you see only code, you can find it via direct YouTube link. It’s also a must-watch, especially for social media professionals).

As always, you’re welcome to join the conversation on our Facebook page or contact us via email.

And thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

September 16, 2021 at 8:14 am

Some Public Domain Holiday Viewing for Caregivers

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(Updated on 11/13/2021)

Although we’ve covered technology, social change, and other great initiatives in the Chicago community, we’ve also focused on caregivers and caregiving…and we thought this year, we would provide a slight change of pace for the holiday.

One of the highlights of 2019 was the entry of works into the public domain, allowing people to view, reuse, and adapt these works freely. So in that spirit, we’re offering some great videos for caregivers (and others!) to enjoy this holiday season, including the Harold Lloyd classic Safety Last from 1923.

Happy holidays and enjoy!

Written by gordondym

December 21, 2019 at 6:24 pm

November 2nd: Gun Violence Globally & Locally Film Festival

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(Special thanks to Linda Stettler of Netsquared Chicago for bringing this to my attention) 

In current conversations around gun violence, from concerns about films to the usual decrying of “thoughts and prayers”, one critical conversation is often left out: the long-term impact of gun violence on its victims. Although the media may focus on incidents of gun violence, the voices of those impacted can often get lost especially from smaller, marginalized communities.

On November 2nd at 11:00 am, Docademia/StoryBolt and Humanity Rising are partnering to present the 3rd Annual Gun Violence Globally and Locally Film Festival at the Gene Siskel Film Center in downtown Chicago. Both organizations hope that the Film Festival organizes the wider Chicago community and inspire dialogue – and action – through storytelling and the arts.

Joining the Jury Committee for the Gun Violence Globally and Locally Film Festival will be Kim A. Snyder, the documentary filmmaker of Newtown which focused on the Sandy Hook school shooting. Kim Snyder will participate in a panel discussion moderated by David Cherry,  Senior Leadership Team leader of the All Stars Project, focusing on the issue of gun violence both within and outside of Chicago. (Other panel participants include Parkland survivors and other Chicago community activists).

Other highlights of the film festival include a screening of the winning documentary with the opportunity to speak with the filmmaker, and an art exhibition showcasing works created by elementary students from “O Block” who are addressing gun violence in Southside Chicago. Activists from organizations like March for Our Lives will also be participating in the Festival’s conversations about gun violence. Food will be catered by the Spirit and Soul Catering Company who specializes in “Southern Cuisine with that Midwest Swing”

One of the purposes of this blog is to highlight stories that need to be told, but also inspire people to take action. Media coverage of gun violence (both within and outside of Chicago) tends to focus on the immediate aftermath without discussing the long term impact. Although there may be a conversation about legislative efforts to combat gun violence, stories of people surviving the aftermath often diminish or (in some cases) get ignored. The Gun Violence Globally and Locally Film Festival is a great effort to bring attention, ensure those stories are heard and most importantly, encourage people to become active and advocate within their community.

We’re glad to highlight this event on the blog, and hope you can attend.  Tickets are available through Eventbrite until October 31st.

Please join us in conversation via the comments section below, or follow the blog on Facebook. If you want to contact us directly, please check out this blog’s About page.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

October 22, 2019 at 12:15 pm

July 3rd SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME Charity Screening

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(Special thanks to Daniel Jun Kim of Pop Mythology for his time and insight!)

On July 3rd, Pop Mythology and Third Coast Comics are partnering to hold a screening of Spider-Man: Far From Home at the Evanston Cinemark Theater to benefit Children’s Home and Aid. For many comic fans and members of the geek/nerd community, this is a chance to enjoy a beloved character: for Daniel Jun Kim of Pop Mythology, it’s an empowering step for the geek/nerd community to live the theme “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.” 

Inspired by last year’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Daniel was motivated to create a “Spider Army” who would adopt the philosophy that no good deed is too small to drive social change. Engaging with people in Spider-Man cosplay at various conventions, Daniel encouraged them to perform a small yet meaningful task to help foster a sense of community. This was not a new idea (Daniel acted as a D & D Cleric at a Families Belong Together March), but it served as a way to engage fans of a highly popular – and influential – character towards the greater good.

Wanting to reflect Spider-Man’s nature as an “orphan” character archetype, Daniel decided to raise money Children’s Home and Aid, a nonprofit that works with at-risk youth who have experienced abandonment, trauma, and abuse. (They also run the Rice Child and Family Center in Evanston). After running a brief crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for 35 children and 15 staff members/chaperones, Pop Mythology partnered with Third Coast Comics (who I’ve worked with as part of Chicago Doctor Who Meetup). Citing the example of Black Panther screenings, Third Coast Comics partnered with Pop Mythology to provide an opportunity for both fundraising and showing kids that they can be heroes regardless of their background.

Daniel Jung Kim/Pop Mythology

Daniel Jun Kim/Pop Mythology

For Daniel Jun Kim, this Spider-Man movie screening is more than just a great idea; it’s the expression of an overall philosophy about geek/nerd culture and social good. With a greater move towards geek culture interfacing with social benefit (like a recent Star Wars-themed vigil and Chicago TARDIS’ charity auction), Pop Mythology is not only embracing current trends, but has a more inclusive, broader focus.

In Pop Mythology, Daniel Jun Kim focuses on how myths and mythology resonate within geek/nerd culture. At its core, Pop Mythology and the “Spider Army” both advocate for the idea about how geek/nerd culture can interface with real life issues and drive social good and social change. Interested in finding larger answers to complex social/individual problems, Daniel Jun Kim uses Pop Mythology to explore how themes from myth and mythology resonate in our popular culture. Seeing how individuals and societal structures impact on each other, Daniel Jun Kim’s work on Pop Mythology hopes to motivate geek culture on collectively alleviating indvidual and societal suffering…and make the process less intimidating, sustainable, and more fun.

Driving social change through small acts is a radical idea: these acts can have ripple effects and enable people to make huge change via small actions. As a long-time Doctor Who fan, I work to integrate the show’s values of respect, kindness, and fairness into my actions. Through his work on Pop Mythology, as well as arranging this special screening of Spider Man: Far From Home to benefit Children’s Home and Aid, Daniel Jun Kim is proving that social change is within everyone’s power…and with that power comes responsibility.

Here is ticketing information for Spider-Man: Far From Home via Third Coast Comics’ website. Hope to see you there!

If you know of any great Chicago-based community events, please let us know in the comments below. If you want to check out our past work or engage in further conversation, join us via our Facebook page. If you need further contact information, you can find it via our About page.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

July 1, 2019 at 3:50 pm

“Where’s The Fair Use?” – Video

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Many nonprofits and social ventures are concerned about “Fair Use” when it comes to online media.

In an effort to help educate, here’s a video – with slightly more pop culture focus – that’s making the rounds, and that should be a great primer.

It’s about twenty minutes, but well worth your time….and which answers the question, “Where’s The Fair Use?”

Written by gordondym

February 18, 2016 at 5:11 pm

Open Letter to John Oliver of LAST WEEK TONIGHT

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Dear John Oliver,

I just want to say that I love your work on Last Week Tonight (especially through the magic of YouTube), but I also have enjoyed your star turns on The Daily Show and Community….but also, that little video that pops up whenever I watch a Doctor Who DVD. You know the one:

I must say that I enjoyed all of my Doctor Who DVDs….except Time and the Doctor, but that’s a post for another time.

But my main purpose is to congratulate you on being named “America’s Social Justice Warrior” by Mashable – the tech site that reflects America’s taste in potatoes. Yes, the phrase “social justice warrior” tends to be used in a pejorative manner, but it’s a way to think about advocates – people who are willing to put themselves out there and work for social change. I think it’s safe to say that I’m proud to consider myself a social justice warrior. One of the aspects of Last Week Tonight that I enjoy the most is the show’s willingness and enthusiasm in focusing on lesser known, but critical issues such as Net Neutrality, the need for a well-funded public defender system, and infrastructure (featuring the comedy magic of Vincent D’Onofrio). But you’re also hitting on issues that impact the nonprofit/social change community as well, whether you’re discussing scholarship competitions, for-profit schools, rules for nonprofit organizations, or even World Cup Soccer.

But I’m e-mailing you because I really enjoyed two particular pieces you did….and which I’ve written about. First, your #JeffWeCan piece focusing on tobacco marketing in other countries – I really wish this was available when I was doing tobacco prevention in St. Louis:

The other was your piece on Ferguson, which prompted a post for Blog Action Day:

But let me get to the point – I would love the opportunity to interview you for this very blog. I would ask you various questions about the show, your beliefs, and possibly the genius of Patrick Troughton, and we would have a conversation similar to the one you did with Pepe Julien Onzema. Although this blog’s focus is technology and social benefit in the Chicago area,  you and your staff do such an exceptional job in highlighting social justice issues with great intelligence and wit and without pandering, and I feel that’s worth highlighting.  To use a rather awkward metaphor – you’re Moss from The IT Crowd while other media are merely Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.

(For those reading who don’t understand the reference – one is a sharply written, hilariously observed comedy featuring nerdy references and clever material which serves as a great example of television comedy; the other is The Big Bang Theory).

Now, it may be a bit of a challenge with your show taped in New York while I live in Chicago – but forget about time zones, let’s do this. Here are some suggested ways we can make this happen:

    • I’m more than happy to send you questions via e-mail, which you can answer and send right back to me. The great thing with
      this is that you can answer at your convenience….and one of your producers can reach out via this contact form on my
      personal website.
    • Check out and comment on this blog’s Facebook page (and if you need more direct lines of communication, please see this blog’s About page). Think of it as a way for both of us to work our social media mojo;
    • You can fly here to Chicago and we can go on a tour of our many restaurants, where you can enjoy our fine deep dish pizza, our English-style pubs (which may or may not cure you of any homesickness for Birmingham), and Italian beef sandwiches large enough to be used as small projectiles.
    • Yes, you could fly me out to New York and we could do an interview on air, but let’s face it – I don’t think HBO will spring for it.

Now, Mr. Oliver, you’re more than welcome to read this blog post on the air….or even include it in one of Last Week Tonight’s web-only videos on YouTube. Either way, I wanted to make it known that I would like to thank you and your production staff for all your hard work. And if you wanted to encourage your viewers to help with the Chicago TARDIS charity auction, I would greatly appreciate it.

Last Week Tonight is a great resource (much like FAIR’s CounterSpin podcast) in shedding a light on stories that may not receive mainstream attention, and I’m glad you’re taking the lead in providing that attention. Thanks for being such a stand-up social justice warrior bro.

Your pal,

Gordon

Written by gordondym

September 21, 2015 at 10:22 am

Follow Up: Chicago Cares Serve A Thon 2015

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Recently, I participated in Chicago Cares Serve-A-Thon 2015, and although I wrote about the experience, I don’t think my prose did the event justice. There was a high number of participants in a wide variety of activities….

However, this recently released video is a great example of everything that went into the event. (And you won’t catch a glimpse of me in this video – I wasn’t fortunate enough to be recorded).

 

Chicago Cares Serve-a-thon 2015 from Chicago Cares on Vimeo.
Chicago Cares has even released a Serve-A-Thon 2015 Impact Report which goes into greater detail about attendance, areas served, etc. It’s a great reminder that personal impact can make all the difference.

Something to consider, especially with some of the topics we’ll be covering in the next few weeks….

There are plenty of activities for the socially-minded in Chicago – if you have suggestions, please leave them below. You’re also welcome to join the conversation on Facebook. You can receive updates via e-mail (instructions below), or contact me personally via the About page.

And as always, thanks for reading!

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