LXer Feature: Christmas Linux-Style: Giving the Gift of Time

Posted by tadelste on Dec 31, 2005 5:09 PM EDT
LXer Feature; By Carla Schroder
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Penguin values can turn the Christmas season into something worthwhile, instead of a stressful greed-fest that leaves you broke and exhausted.

Christmas US-style is notorious for being a gigantic greed- and stress-fest. The malls are gridlocked, family members who can't stand each other brave unpleasant travel conditions to be together, credit cards are kicked into hyperdrive, and the whole affair takes on a ghastly, over-lit, overheated, gaudily surreal tinge. Some folks drive their neighbors to the brink of insane rage by burying their homes under gigantic complex multimedia displays, complete with obnoxious loud sound effects and miles of gawking sightseers. Retailers count on Thanksgiving Weekend to push them into the black for the year. Yep, that's right, one weekend makes or breaks them. Christmas spirit, anyone? Haha, they're coming to take me away, ho ho, hee hee, ha ha.

What does spending a mint on gifts have to do with the Baby Jesus, who wasn't born in the winter anyway? Why kill yourself meeting obligations you don't enjoy? I know, it's not all unpleasant- parties are fun, time off is nice, and colored blinky lights are nice for brightening the winter gloom. The underlying messages of peace, love, and spiritual growth are worthy- to anyone that can hear them, that is, buried as deeply under the Christmas din as they are.

The Reason For The Season

I'm not a Christian. I'm not going to say what I believe, because I think it's better expressed in deeds, rather than spewing forth many loud words that are really targeted at telling other folks how to run their lives. But most faiths have a core of humility and service to others, so whatever we may think of Christmas itself, it's a good time to re-affirm these values.

For Linux/Free Software/Open Source geeks, this could be a good time to offer services to those who need them. Both small and large deeds matter. You might think about setting up a Linux PC for a friend or relative to use. Install the apps they need, set up a firewall, configure a custom menu so they can find their things easily, and get them connected to the Internet. If you are into exchanging gifts, give them one of the many excellent books aimed at Linux noobs.

Another idea is to find a non-profit group, like the local food bank, thrift shop, animal rescue, mentoring group, historical society, or whatever you find that you want to support, and talk to them about evaluating their computer systems, and offering to overhaul them. Lots of these groups are run by volunteers who are not computer-savvy, so they make all the common mistakes- lack of security, bad Web pages, Microsoft document formats, and so forth. Be kind, they're doing their best. This sort of support is a great opportunity for network admins, sysadmins, and coders to get together and show what they can do.

Teaching computer classes for cheap or free is lots of fun. A big thing these days is setting up family Web sites to share photos, letters, and stories. Genealogy and family history are popular. Showing people practical, fun things to do with computers is a great way to get them hooked on learning more.

Penguin Values

If you give, you get. If you take and do not give, you lose. These are values that are as old as humanity. You know this- I want to encourage everyone that you're not alone, and that millions of your fellow humans also practice these values. Sometimes it may not seem like it, because the bad guys get all the press. But away from all the noise and hooplah, the good guys are quietly going about their business and doing good things. And the impact from these will last a lot longer and be more meaningful than whatever scandal-of-the-day the bad guys are perpetrating.

Related LXer stories:

Thankful for Freedom
Ministers Speak Up, Encourage Action
Libre Software Resources for Non-Profit
The Right to be a Charitable Community (II)

Carla Schroder has had a variety of jobs and businesses: auto mechanic, landscaping and housecleaning, massage therapist, freelance Linux/Windows computer geek, and technical writer. See Enterprise Networking Planet and Enterprise Unix Roundup Tips of the Trade for fab weekly Linux howtos, and be sure to purchase copies of her Linux Cookbook for everyone on your Christmas list.

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Subject Topic Starter Replies Views Last Post
Some things money can't buy tadelste 2 2,348 Nov 26, 2005 7:11 AM

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