Month: January 2008

Improving Ubuntu

A while ago, sensing that I was not enough of a nerd yet, I decided to install Ubuntu 7.10, a derivative of Linux. (That’s an operating system, like Windows or Mac OS X, for those completely out of the loop.) Ubuntu, like Linux, is open-source, meaning that anyone can not only view the code that makes it run, but also edit it, tweak it, copy it, and use it in various projects, all free of charge and without treading on any copyright. Also, it’s free (so, for my out-of-the-loop readers, think of it as something akin to downloading a fully functional copy of Windows, already stocked with many applications necessary to perform your daily computing, all for free).

Ubuntu is, in my opinion, the version of Linux that’s pushing hardest for public acceptance. Dell, for instance, recently added an option for customers purchasing laptops to have the computers shipped with Ubuntu installed instead of Windows. I respect that. I believe that there will come a point, given the recent surge in open-source development, when someone can download for free perfectly functional and feature-ridden open-source alternatives to most popular programs, including the operating system. Theoretically, in the near future, someone could work on their computer for years without having to spend money on software. I believe Ubuntu will be at the forefront of that wave, since the most fundamental part of that goal is a free operating system.

But I can almost guarantee you that that goal will not be realized in 2008.

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39 Ways to Live, and Not Merely Exist

Got this from my friend Billy, who got it from Dumb Little Man, where it was written by Leo Babauta. Please, I implore of you, take a moment to read and consider this. I think it’s really, really important.

“The proper function of man is to live – not to exist.”— Jack London

Too often we go through life on autopilot, going through the motions and having each day pass like the one before it.That’s fine, and comfortable, until you have gone through another year without having done anything, without having really lived life.That’s fine, until you have reached old age and look back on life with regrets.

That’s fine, until you see your kids go off to college and realize that you missed their childhoods.

It’s not fine. If you want to truly live life, to really experience it, to enjoy it to the fullest, instead of barely scraping by and only living a life of existence, then you need to find ways to break free from the mold and drink from life.

What follows is just a list of ideas, obvious ones mostly that you could have thought of yourself, but that I hope are useful reminders. We all need reminders sometimes. If you find this useful, print it out, and start using it. Today.

1. Love. Perhaps the most important. Fall in love, if you aren’t already. If you have, fall in love with your partner all over again. Abandon caution and let your heart be broken. Or love family members, friends, anyone — it doesn’t have to be romantic love. Love all of humanity, one person at a time.

2. Get outside. Don’t let yourself be shut indoors. Go out when it’s raining. Walk on the beach. Hike through the woods. Swim in a freezing lake. Bask in the sun. Play sports, or walk barefoot through grass. Pay close attention to nature.

3. Savor food. Don’t just eat your food, but really enjoy it. Feel the texture, the bursts of flavors. Savor every bite. If you limit your intake of sweets, it will make the small treats you give yourself (berries or dark chocolate are my favorites) even more enjoyable. And when you do have them, really, really savor them. Slowly.

4. Create a morning ritual. Wake early and greet the day. Watch the sun rise. Out loud, tell yourself that you will not waste this day, which is a gift. You will be compassionate to your fellow human beings, and live every moment to its fullest. Stretch or meditate or exercise as part of your ritual. Enjoy some coffee.

5. Take chances. We often live our lives too cautiously, worried about what might go wrong. Be bold, risk it all. Quit your job and go to business for yourself (plan it out first!), or go up to that girl you’ve liked for a long time and ask her out. What do you have to lose?

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