Summertime.. when the livin' is easy..
Just returned from some wonderful weeks north of the Arctic Circle. Had a great time. The weather was unusually warm for the region and I got to do things I have not done since as a kid. I went swimming in the fjord, picked cloud berries in the mountains and spent a lot of time with my family. Ate and drank way too much.
Using my parents' computer to check e-mail was a downright painful experience. XP took almost five minutes from POST before hard drive activity slowed enough to make it usable. Even then it would periodically slow to a crawl as some process kicked in and demanded most of the resources. I sought refuge using a Live Linux disc. Once configured, I saved the settings to a file on the hard drive and got a fast, familiar environment including a US keyboard layout. Impressed by the speed, my parents asked if I could clean up XP and make it comparably fast. I told them it would require either days of tinkering or a full re-install, and then it would not last long before the (grand)kids mucked it up again.
I offered a different solution. In a short time we had a dual boot setup. VL SOHO 5.8 had the keyboard layout for the Toshiba laptop as well as the Norwegian locales. It booted in 55 seconds flat and totally rejuvenated the machine. I found Linux replacements for my mom's card games. Opera comes in the local language, of course, and so does Firefox. I showed them a few new things every day. My dad burned his first CD ever, using K3B. Amarok streaming Magnatune's collection was a big hit. Soon, "Linux" became the default in the boot menu.
I also helped my brother put his old P3 to use. We made a headless server and tucked it away in a corner. Now it provides network storage and streams his music collection using gnump3d (I have a modified version which fixes the video bug if anyone is interested).
When visiting my aunt, I realized that the five minute boot and molasses-like performance is the rule more than the exception for the "normal" computer. Alas, not enough time to do anything about that one.
Using part of your vacation to work on computers may sound like a waste of time, but it actually provided a nice form of interaction with family members. They were very appreciative and receptive, so education became fun and rewarding.
Now, back to the pile of work that accumulated while gone!