Last updated February 1, 2016
The external links here are neither maintained nor monitored by the administrator. Updates and revisions will take place occasionally. Browse at your own risk.
- Troop 312 Homepage – Official site for my Scout troop, chartered in Jackson, MI since 1911.
- Cole Canoe Base – Homepage for Edward N. Cole Canoe Base, BSA
- RT Software Systems – Headquartered at a state-of-the-art data center in Berkley, MI, RT Software Systems has been providing computer consultation, programming and network support to clients in southeast Michigan and beyond since 1997. (Also, I work here.)
- Ninite – Ninite is an unattended installation utility that pulls “junk-free” software from popular vendors, and installs it on your system. Ninite will do unattended installs for most of the stuff listed below.
- Malwarebytes Anti-Malware – Quite possibly the biggest name in anti-malware, Malwarebytes sets the standard for protection against malware, spyware, and PUPs. (Reject the “Pro” trial!)
- ImgBurn – Burns and rips ISO files to and from CDs and DVDs – it’s small, it’s fast, and it has a sense of humor (No, seriously, read some of the event logs.)
- MagicDisc/MagicISO – Mounts ISO files as virtual discs – a perfect companion to ImgBurn.
- Logical Increments – Firefox /g/uide – In addition to providing an excellent PC component buying guide, Logical Increments provides an awesome guide to Firefox extensions for privacy, adblocking, and general use, as well as some excellent niche stuff.
- “Hey Tim, what’s the best antivirus?” – MSE, Malwarebytes and Common Sense 2014. Most antivirus programs out there (Norton, McAfee, etc.) eat a large chunk of your machine’s processing power (sometimes up to 40%!) to provide “active threat detection” and other buzzword-y nonsense. Unless you visit shady sites on a regular basis, or otherwise expose yourself to threats, then these large, bloated programs simply aren’t necessary. If you must, replace MSE/Defender with AVG Free. Disable LinkScanner and any toolbars it invariably gives you, and deny any free trials or pro editions. If your system runs Windows 8, then Windows Defender runs automatically in the absence of another antivirus program.
- I can’t emphasize this enough, but no antivirus is worth paying for. Unless you’re a large scale business or institution that would benefit from the guarantees, live assistance, and remote deployment features that the paid guys offer, there simply isn’t a reason to throw your money away.
So you’ve read my tech bio and you’re interested in taking the plunge into the world of GNU/Linux — good on you. Now despite the fact that I love the idea behind FSF-approved distros and the GNU GPL, I recommend Linux Mint to almost everyone who asks.
LM ships with the Cinnamon DE, which is very Windows-like in nature, and offers a good degree of customizability, while still looking good out of the box. (Ubuntu, by contrast, ships with the shambling abomination that is Unity, as well as Amazon’s botnet.) The Ubuntu repos available in LM offer some of the best choices and highest quality software available. Stuff like Flash comes pre-configured, and applications like Skype, Steam, and Wine are easily installed and set up.
So, if you do decide to pick up Mint and burn it to a DVD, I’d suggest you do the following:
- Boot directly to the DVD, and sideload the OS – Doing this will allow you to keep your Windows installation untouched while still experiencing the full benefits of Linux Mint. Virtualization is also an option, if you don’t want to make the full commitment.
- Install Wine and PlayOnLinux – Wine is the compatibility layer for Windows, and allows users to run Windows programs on their Linux systems. However, it’s not particularly user-friendly. PlayOnLinux is a frontend for Wine, and has a large list of games, software, etc. that will install and work right out-of-the-box, no additional configuration necessary. In addition, it has an installer that can be used for any unlisted Windows software you wish to try to install yourself.
- (Optional) Make some tweaks in Firefox– the Linux Mint Foundation pre-configures Firefox to include their search engine and some other odd options – add Google as a search engine (or another of your choice) and change the keyword.url in your about:config to reflect it.
If you want an even more simplified experience, try elementaryOS (Just decline to donate until you’ve tried it and like it – there’s no penalty).