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I discovered programming aged 11 with my school's BBC micro, and a book titled "Write your own space action games". (Their ideas of "space action" games were very different to mine. My ideas didn't include a bunch of * signs controlled via a text based menu)

I got hooked on VB for a while (mainly because I discovered I could replace the * signs with .bmp files) until someone pointed out the wonderful world of objects and Java. I also went thought a c++ phase.

I've now been a professional developer for 5 years.

My current language of choice is C#. I spend my free time playing with XNA and microcontrollers.
31 Dec 2008 CodeProject MVP 2009


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GeneralLinux - Trying out KDE Pin
Simon P Stevens13-Apr-09 22:32
Simon P Stevens13-Apr-09 22:32 
GeneralRe: Linux - Trying out KDE Pin
Rajesh R Subramanian22-Jun-09 8:51
professionalRajesh R Subramanian22-Jun-09 8:51 
GeneralRe: Linux - Trying out KDE Pin
Simon P Stevens23-Jun-09 23:45
Simon P Stevens23-Jun-09 23:45 
GeneralMe & my Linux Pin
Simon P Stevens15-Sep-08 22:55
Simon P Stevens15-Sep-08 22:55 
GeneralAn update from Linux-land Pin
Simon P Stevens8-Sep-08 1:17
Simon P Stevens8-Sep-08 1:17 
[I'm collecting my Linux related posts here. See here[^] for the original post & discussion.]

Last week I decided to try out Ubuntu as my primary desktop OS at home. My initial experiences and observations are here[^]. Now, part 2.

Following the firewall advice from the earlier discussion, I decided to install Firestarter. First thing I did was went to their website and looked for a download link. Surprisingly, there isn't one. It simply says "Firestarter is available in the Ubuntu universe repository.". So following their directions, I hit the "start" menu, and go to "add/remove programs". Sure enough, in the list is Firestarter. I'm slightly puzzled, I think surely this will just be installing from my Ubuntu CD which was released several months ago, so where do I get an up to date version? Well, I tick the box to select it and proceed with the install. Quick confirmation prompt and Woosh, Firestarter latest version is downloaded and installed in about 15 seconds, no confusing questions about where to put the files, no config. It just works. Brilliant. I love this universe repository thing. There's stacks of software there, it all just installs dead easy, it all auto updates to the latest versions. On windows, every app you want, requires finding the website, downloading, installing (and every installer is different and asks lots of confusing questions), etc. The Ubuntu repositories cuts through all the complications and just makes it all easily available. After a bit of reading about this it becomes clear there are several different repositories offering software at different levels running from "Main" which is officially supported Ubuntu software, through non-open source software ("Restricted"), community maintained software ("Universe"), and non-free software ("Multiverse"). You can configure which of these repositories are made available to you through a nice little GUI app found in the administrative tools menu. Obviously, there's nothing stopping you from going to the vendors site and following the traditional Linux route of downloading and building the app from sources. This is a definite plus point for Ubuntu, finding and installing new software is simple and easy in comparison to windows. It's worth noting that this is an Ubuntu specific feature, not all Linux distributions are going to have this fantastic level of out of the box, pre-compiled, ready to go, software support.

Anyway, after the little distraction at the revelation that is the Ubuntu repositories, I got round to checking out Firestarter. It's a very simple little app, it's basically a GUI configuration app for the iptables command line tool. It allows you to configure open ports and protocols for incoming packets, and has either a white list or blacklist (the default) mode for outgoing connections. Outgoing connections are blocked/white listed by either destination IP, or port number/protocol. This slightly disappointed me. I like a firewall that can block outgoing connections at the application level, so I can configure specific apps for outgoing access (like a web browser etc), but block others I don't use. If anyone can recommend an application level firewall, I'd happily give it a try. It works nicely though, and is simple to configure.

Everything is going well so far. I'm settling into to my new Linux shaped home rather nicely. There are several things I positively prefer (Do I need to mention the repositories again?). A lot of stuff still seems mysterious to me, but everything is just working together very well. As you know, Ubuntu is aimed at the less technically expert user (or at least 'new to Linux' users), and they are achieving that goal very well. It's rare to see a prompt or dialog with confusing technical jargon on it, most processes are straight forward, and I haven't had to once resort to the command line yet.

Things still left on my list to try before I accept Linux:
Internet browsing
Office suite
Password manager
Virus checker? (Some say it's not necessary)
Playing music - MP3/WMA/CDs
Playing videos - MPG/AVI/DivX etc
Playing DVDs radio stations
Image editing
Audio editing
Video editing
CD/DVD burning
Programming - Languages/IDEs/Frameworks (Maybe MONO, or I might try Python)
PDF viewing
VMWare or similar - running Windows


GeneralLinux - How long will it last. Pin
Simon P Stevens8-Sep-08 1:13
Simon P Stevens8-Sep-08 1:13 

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