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PCLinuxOS Family Member Spotlight: tuxlink

As told to YouCanToo

What is your name/username?

Hi, my name is Michael Duffy, my username is tuxlink. I was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. In the late 1980's, I literally won the opportunity to go live and work in the United States of America. In 2005, I became a Naturalized Citizen of the United States. I now live on the outskirts of Los Angeles, California. The epic saga of how I got from there to here could fill volumes, and some day I intend to have that tale on sale at for at least $29.99. For at least the first volume, anyway!

How old are you?

By the time you read this, I will have grown and shaved many beards! Many moons will have risen and fallen, time means different things to different people, but the voices in my head tell me the magic number is.............42. "No, that's not what we said!" "You wish it was 42, but you were just looking for a line to use Douglas Adams answer to the question of what is the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything, from his wonderful book 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy'," "Be brave, say it with us......Fifty........" "One!" "No,...." "Two!,...." "Michael...!" "Fine......I'm (...mumbles under breath...)" "Out loud please!" "FIFTY SIX!!"

Are you married, single?

Funny story, that. I was at a party one time and there was this beautiful girl with a cheerful hearty laugh with a red sweater and gorgeous red lips. All I could think about was kissing those lovely red lips, and since it was St. Patrick's Day, we Irish have been accused of being a little more ...cheerful, and ...friendly, and have a tendency to lose all our inhibitions about kissing girls in red sweaters with gorgeous red lips on that particular day of the year. Being the only person with a thick Irish accent who knew a little guitar and the words to a few Christy Moore songs and being very far from home, as luck would have it, Red Lips in the red sweater was mightily impressed!

By the time I woke up from the effects of that party, I was changing the diaper of our second child, a lovely daughter, and driving a used Chevy Astro Van! Gorgeous girl with the red lips in the red sweater and I have been married now for 25 years.

How about Kids, Grandkids?

The two I am aware of and admit to are Michael, a son aged 21 yrs, and Shannon, a daughter aged 19 yrs.

Do you have pets, what is your favorite?

We are the proud owners of a Goldfish whom we have named, I kid you not, 'The Whale'. When my daughter was much younger (8 yrs old) she begged us for a puppy, we said no! She begged us for a pony, and still we said no! One time as we watched PBS's 'Nature' there was a litter of cute Lion cubs, my daughter shot me a look and held out her hands, I gave her the thumbs down signal and silently mouthed the word No!

Then one day she won a ticket at a Fair for one fish from a local pet store. What could I do, this kid had worn me down over time and swore she'd take care of all it's needs. One trip to the pet store, and most of that month's paycheck (sure felt like it anyway!) and we were setting up a new tank, treating the water, setting the plastic plants around the Treasure Chest and the underwater Greek ruins statue. "The Goldfish would be terribly lonely if we took him away from his family at the store," she pleaded! So, other fish were purchased to keep him company. My daughter dutifully fed and spoke to her new pal in the tank......for about two weeks!

The Goldfish grew, as they all do, what we didn't expect was after he got over his loneliness, he got hungry, and decided to eat those that were purchased to keep him company! He doubled in size again now being too big for his tank! "This was cruel and unusual punishment", my daughter protested, "Eh hello", I said, "I'm sure his companions aren't too happy either!" In time, we needed a bigger tank. By now, my darling daughter had moved on to a Hamster. Her new pet. She constantly corrected me as I yelled for her to come scoop up her Rat and get it back into it's cage! She would mock me by speaking with a Spanish accent like Manuel the waiter from 'Faulty Towers' "Ees not Rat, ees Hamster!"

In time, the job of caring for and feeding the burgeoning Goldfish fell to my darling wife Therese. (Red lips in the red sweater!) Each day as the time gets close to when she gets home from work, 'The Whale', makes popping sounds with his mouth at the surface of the tank. Just reminding us that he's there and it's about time to feed and pay attention to him. Of course by now, the Hamster has long since died, and daughter is now 19 and away at college. I sit and look at the tank and wonder, "What's it gonna take? This fish has gotta die some day soon!" He now mocks me too, picking up stones from the bottom of his tank and flicking them at the glass. I just sit there, shake my head and sigh.

Are you retired, still working and what do you do?

I have had many positions of work, as they were called. Many of the first you can read about in the early chapters of the aforementioned book on Amazon, but for the last 22 years I have been a Letter Carrier for the United States Postal Service here in Southern California. Due to ill health I have had to retire. I enjoyed the work very much, the dogs, the crazy people, the weather, every day brought a new story much of which could yet again fill volumes of books. I'm thinking I should find me a publisher!

Where do you call home? What is it like? IE: Weather, scenery etc...

Here in Southern California the good weather is the biggest draw for many, and unfortunately that means a large dense population. Most people living here don't like the large crowds, but I have become used to it and just see it as part of living somewhere warm and dry.

As a kid growing up in Dublin, the constant rain and bitter cold of Winter that sometimes lasted far into what they politely call Summer back there, was just too much for me to bear. As I cycled to work every morning back then, before I eventually dried out, I swore to myself if I ever got the chance to live somewhere where the sun shines more, and the rain, rains less, I'd jump that chance. I made it to New York and lived there for about 6-7 months. That was clearly 6-7 months too long! (No offence NY, but it's not for everyone.) To make a long story short, like many others of my age, I felt the need to 'Go West Young Man'. I partnered up with another Irishman on what could only be described as an adventure of a lifetime and drove west on Route 66 where we indeed found our kicks!

Because this area where we live is basically a desert, the extreme temps of Summer here can reach the other end of the weather spectrum, but so far I still like waking up and looking out at a sunny clear blue skied day most of the year! When it's that nice outside, your mood and your day can only get better! We're very lucky as where we live has a large lake and a big open wild field behind our home. I am an avid photographer and have been lucky enough to capture just some of what lives locally. We are constantly visited by all forms of wildlife here on a daily basis. Lots of coyotes, hawks, skunks, snakes, owls, ducks, hummingbirds, buzzards, rabbits, lizards and lately two squirrels living in the tree that overhangs our garden wall!

One morning a few years ago, I arrived out to my car in the driveway to leave for work at 6 am. I was greeted with what looked like a scene from a horror movie! There on the roof of my car was the remains and the last leg of a rabbit! Blood all over the roof and running down the rear window. (We figured) a crafty owl had caught a rabbit during the night, and had dragged it up onto my car's roof so as no other creature could reach it and steal it away! So you see, even the wildlife here are obviously happy and above average intelligence!

Where did you go to school and what is your education level?

Back in Dublin I went through the usual Catholic driven public school system. I did finish up to the level of High School and then started to work. When I got to California I took some classes in our local community college. Constantly working and starting a family, I never got back to it. I feel over the years the experience I have gained through travel and settling far from where I grew up has paid dividends and afforded my family and I the opportunity to be not necessarily wealthy, but certainly happy and content.

What kind of things do you like doing? Hobbies, travel, fishing, camping?

As I stated earlier, I am an avid photographer and love the opportunity to shoot different subjects and scenes. While living back in Ireland I was a member of a wonderful Photographic Society and it gave me a wonderful appreciation of all the many great things there are in life that need to be photographed. I enjoy nothing better than finding a great opportunity to shoot something I have not shot before and then work on it to enhance and improve it with all of the many great open source photographic tools we now have available to us through Linux. Have you used Gimp yet to work on your photos? If not, you're missing an awful lot. Not to mention DigiKam, Hugin, Gwenview etc etc...the list goes on and on. It's a great time to be a photographer and use PCLinuxOS as your OS right now. I noticed we also have a new application in the PCLOS 64bit repos called Lightzone. On first examination of this app, I am really looking forward to using this a lot more in the near future. It looks like it has a lot of potential for photographers of all levels to use and work with.

Of late, I have begun to enjoy building a World War 1 model plane I received as a gift. I was always a fan of woodworking and have some tools which I love working with. I tend to stick with small projects like boxes and Intarsia items. One small project I enjoyed was a wooden passive amplifier for a modern cell phone. I custom made it to fit my phone and lo and behold, it actually made the audio speaker sound a little better!

Other than that, I always enjoy checking into the PCLinuxOS forum on a daily basis. Over the past year or so, I have made some new friends here and enjoy chatting in the PCLOS Chat-server in the #chimpbox room. If you're at all curious, don't be shy, we're all very friendly, come join us, we talk about all kinds of stuff every day. By the way, if there's no one there the day you drop in, check back the next day, I know I log in almost every day. You never know, you might be there when the next big idea starts to sprout.    

Did you know it was right here in the PCLOS Chat-server that the current popular line of low power, small sized, fanless line of computers called ChimpBoxes, were first conceptualized? At first it was just a collection of ideas being thrown out into the room by a few individuals. The subject of conversation that night was about the Linuxmint's Mintbox. We all felt that we already used the best OS in the world (PCLOS) and certainly the hardware of the Mintbox was not exactly something to brag about, so after many suggestions from many corners of the world, and countless searches for better hardware, MrCrankyPants_YouCanToo was the brave soul that collected all the ideas and actually put the work into creating the first prototype and magically somehow made all of our far fetched ideas into reality. Having yours, mine and everyone's favorite monkey in the room that night, Mr joechimp, I suggested with his blessing, that we name the box 'The ChimpBox'! Mr joe was graciously honored, and frankly so was I when I was able to get my hands on ChimpBox #2. It has been the most fun I have ever had using a computer compared to all the hardware from my past. I even got the chance to create some 'Chimp' themed wallpapers for the official release of the software that arrives with every box that is sold. It was fun and exciting to have been there at the very beginning and see it all unfold into the successful product that is being shipped to all corners of the world right now. Feel like being a part of history? Then come join us in the PCLOS Chat-server any day or night of the week. You never know, maybe your unique idea will start the next process that will snowball it's way into history.

Why and when did you start using Linux?

I see this question every month in the magazine and it usually ends up with almost the same identical answers every month. My first computer was....the Commodore 64, The Amiga, an Apple II, etc, etc... So for me, I feel it is not so important what I have used in the past. When I say not so important, I mean in terms of good reading, but for the record, it was an old used IBM XT with a CGA monitor. It worked, I broke it and got into trouble with the wife, and had to fix it! (I know, I came late to the game!) To directly answer the question, I have been a distro hopper for a number of years, since back in the early 90's. At first I was a Microsoft DOS/Windows user like most. As bad as that was back then, as soon as I discovered Linux, I could no longer see the need to pay out what MS Windows cost and after Windows XP, I bid it all a fond farewell and haven't looked back since.

While I was working, I wasn't in a position to get deeply involved with any one distro or it's community. But now that I have retired I have decided on the last and final distro I will ever need, and that's easily the best there is, PCLinuxOS!

What I think about Linux and open source software is really more important for me. Early developers and code writers sat down upon seeing that computers needed to be available to not just the elite and wealthy few in the world, but available to all. In fact I'm sure those early programmers could not have even imagined what the use of a computer could have meant to so many in the future. That single act of writing code, and then deciding to give it away is highly commendable. That very same unselfish act happens every day all over the world. It is that one concept of wanting to give back and pay something forward to others that makes me feel there is indeed still hope for us. I can't write code, but I have found some small ways to add and give back to the community we have here. I consider us all very lucky to be headed by someone as talented and giving as Texstar and the many others who have worked so hard to create what many of us enjoy. Linux to me is a huge gift, has made a big difference in my life and I am grateful for the efforts of those that were so unselfish to share it. If you feel like contributing, you can donate to PCLinuxOS or involve your talents to better the community in other ways. It's a win-win situation for everyone.

PCLinuxOS Family Member Spotlight is an exclusive, monthly column by YouCanToo, featuring PCLinuxOS forum member. This column will allow "the rest of us" to get to know our forum family members better, and will give those featured an opportunity to share their PCLinuxOS story with the rest of the world.

If you would like to be featured in PCLinuxOS Family Member Spotlight, please send a private message to youcantoo, parnote or Meemaw in the PCLinuxOS forum expressing your interest.

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