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My Three GUIs

posted on 2014-12-15 by Spencer Bravo


It's only been 242 days since I started using GNU/Linux, and since then I have learned an imense amount. My habits and way I do things have also changed a lot. Before I switched to Linux I used Windows and used a GUI(Graphical User Interface) for everything. But I slowley started to change. The evolution started with me using Ubuntu and starting to do a few things in the command line. I knew a few commands like 'ls', 'cd', and 'rm'; but that was about the extent of my ability in the command line. So I stuck with clean, user friendly, and slower, GUIs. I was still getting used to using GNU/Linux and was unaware of the ability it offered with efficiency with more knowledge. Gradually, I learned more and more, not only about using the command line, but about computers in general. Soon enough I switched from Ubuntu to CrunchBang: a light weight, Debian based distro. Because it was light weight(especially compared to Ubuntu), I had to rely on more command line use. So my ability in the command line grew exponentially from that point on.

At this point I use three true GUIs and I am very pleased with how much more efficient I am, as well as how much faster my computer is overall. Here are the three GUIs I use:

  1. Firefox; as much as I'd like to be like Richard Stallman, I am not going to do my web browsing by using Wget. That being said, Wget and cURL are great tools to know how to use.
  2. gFTP; a lot of transfering files from my computer to a server and vice versa is just a lot easier using a GUI. Not to mention that gFTP is very lightweight. For some smaller and not very complex transfers I do use just command line.
  3. DBeaver; keeping track of, as well as maintaining, a SQL database it so much easier with a GUI and as it was with gFTP, DBeaver is rather light and doesn't take much computing power.

Some may ask how I did this and it was really just doing it one step at a time. First of all, I eliminated GUI text editors, I now use VIM and not only is it faster but it's just flat out better. The next step was getting a lot better at the command line so I could avoid file managers. In Ubuntu I used nautilus and in CrunchBang before moving to command line I used Thunar. Thunar is pretty light weight, but it can't beat the efficency of command line. I also stopped using system monitor and replaced it with a mixture of Conky and Htop. The most recent change I made was with email. I used to use in browser Gmail but that was slow and I didn't really like the way it fitted in with the rest of my habits so I switched to Mutt. It's a ncurses based email client and I must say, it's amazing. It allows me to view and interact with email way more efficently than any in browser or GUI setup ever could. If you want to see any of my Htop, VIM, Conky, Mutt, or Terminal setup then go take a look at my dotfiles.

Is Wikipedia A Reliable Source?

posted on 2014-11-15 by Spencer Bravo


If you're a student, then I bet you've heard this from a teacher at some point: "No! Wikipedia is NOT a source!" No matter what(logical) argument you give, they always deny it and go back to the "anyone can edit pages" approach. But that's what makes it good. This approach is similar to that of Open source code, it improves because many people have the opportunity to look over it and fix things that are wrong. Sure, these some people out there who may just go around screwing up articles, but the amount of people fixing and contributing information far outweighs the people screwing them up.

According to an article written in 2005, it says that "Wikipedia comes close to Britannica in terms of the accuracy of its science entries", although Wikipedia's articles were often "poorly structured"(Nature, 2005). Though does structure change reliability? I certainly don't think so. Of course, this article was written nearly ten years and many things are likely to have changed since then. According to a statistic released by Wikipedia, there are about 900% more articles on Wikipedia now than in 2005. This is a huge amount of articles, free to anyone. There are 4,647,987 articles in wikipedia now whereas the Encyclopedia Britannica only has 32,640 pages in their most recent edition. With Wikipedia having so many more articles and being almost if not as accurate as the Encyclopedia Britannica it makes it a very useful source.

Even though it is about as accurate as other (non-free) encyclopedias it does every once in a while have outlandish articles. This is what usually scares away researchers and teachers from using it as a source. For example: for over seven years there was an article on a completely made up football player. This is a pretty big concern because supposedly any article could have "made up" information. But there are so many more people improving the articles and fixing the mistakes than changing them to be false and fabricating information. If you see something that's questionable you should check with other sources and then if the Wikipedia article isn't accurate, change it! Then the next person that looks at it will have the right information. That's the beauty of it being open for anyone to edit.

In conclusion, I would say it's fine to use Wikipedia, but as with any source, you should check multiple articles on the same topic to make sure they all agree on the information you find.

Sources:

Size_of_Wikipedia, Wikipedia
Study: Wikipedia as accurate as Britannica, CNET
Special Report Internet encyclopaedias go head to head, Nature