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Don Birdsall

Don Birdsall

My name is Don Birdsall. I am retired, living in a Florida mobile home park, and having an income from Social Security, a pension and an occasional fee for wiping malware off someone’s Windows machine.

You might call me an “eldergeek” but someone else has claimed that title so I’ll just state a few credentials. I got involved with computers shortly after my college graduation in 1964. In those days we only had mainframes. I was a FORTRAN programmer. We hadn’t yet coined the term ‘geek’ but I had a slide rule in my desk and a plastic pocket protector in my shirt… yes, I fit the description even then.

In the ’70’s the gaming machines were invented. I bought an Atari system for the family, many games and wore out an astonishing number of joysticks. The early microcomputers appeared with Apple and Tandy models leading the pack. I taught a BASIC programming class in an adult-ed program. using TRS-80’s. I was accused of teaching an “advanced” course because I introduced the students to floppy disks. Other instructors used tape. My own computer was an Apple IIe and I continued to use Apple machines until the mid 90’s. By that time the Internet had been invented and Microsoft had caught up with Apple in offering a graphical interface to the OS (GUI). I became disenchanted with Apple when they started to charge for OS upgrades. This was around System 5 or 6. I paid for an OS when I bought the damn computer.. why should an upgrade cost money?? There seemed to be more software availale for Windows so I migrated to that. All was well for a few years while the biggest annoyance was SPAM. SPAM was, and still is, indifferent to your operating system.

All that changed with the advent of computer viruses. Sick people were intent on screwing up your computer with a virus. The Windows user now needed protection. Software had to be purchased. Yes, today there are free alternatives but back then there were not. The poor Windows user, had to arm himself with a firewall, anti viral software and anti spyware software before even connecting to the Internet!

My personal epiphany came in December 2007. Despite having all the anti-malware tools installed, my 3 month old laptop collapsed, and a restoration of the Vista operating system from the restore disks was necessary. I had other issues with Vista, but malware vulnerability was my main reason to look for an alternative.

Linux was officially invented by Linus Torvalds in 1991. I had looked at Linux occasionally but it was not ready for prime time. But every time I looked at it, it was better than the last. And so, in that decisive moment, I discovered Ubuntu and wubi. I am not going to tell you that Ubuntu is the Linux for you. I am going to tell you that wubi is a remarkable idea that let’s you try out Linux on a Windows box without committing to it!

So, here I am today with a Linux system, and no viruses or other malware to contend with. I also have the idea that with a website, maybe I could bring in a few extra bucks, but I’ll start out with a simple blog and let it grow. I have enough HTML knowledge to start it frm scratch but that would be a lot of work. I tried Joomla, and it’s just too big of a gun for my simple target. WordPress may be the best compromise. I hope you enjoy my articles.

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