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PCLinuxOS Family Member Spotlight: StarBaseONE2

As told to YouCanToo

What is your name/username?
My name is Robert Amerson. I go by my 'handle' of StarBaseONE2 almost everywhere online. I took that name from the name I gave my old Base-radio rig way back in the day.

How old are you?
I am just getting into my 60's. No wonder I am feeling old.

Are you married, single?
I am blessed man, blessed to be married to the luckiest lady in South-Central Tennessee. She was my high school sweetheart, and we have always been an item. We didn't marry right away, but we were always talking about it 'someday' in school. After we got out, we still waited a while. I told her "Before I say 'I do', I want to know I can." I guess that took me a few years, but I finally got my head on straight. And we did get around to it.

That was a long time ago, as we celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary last July.

How about Kids, Grandkids (names and ages)?
Donna (my wife) and I have two kids. We've been empty-nesters now for a couple of years. No grandkids though. I sure would like to see a few before I get too old.

Do you have pets, what is your favorite?
Lord do we. I lovingly call them our varmints. We have two dogs. One is a Blue Heeler mix, and the other is my favorite. She is a Japanese Akita. She is a sweetheart, and some kind of protective over me. I have no idea why she picked me over Donna, as Donna has always been the 'varmint type,' but she did. We also have an old ailing calico cat. She's blind in one eye and has breathing problems. We simply call her 'Kitty.' She was quite the mouser a few years back. She has had a rough life, so she has a special spot in our hearts. Past that, we have a fair amount (20-25) of free-ranging chickens always underfoot too, but we don't really consider them pets.

Are you retired, still working and if working, what do you do?
I was forced into retirement almost 5 years ago now. I have some medical issues that complicate life sometimes. I still tinker though. I have an electronics workshop here on the farm. I spend a few hours a day out there tinkering, or out riding my bike as my health allows.

Where do you call home? What is it like? IE: weather, scenery
A little place called Prospect, Tennessee is where we live. I live atop a fair sized hill just north of Kedron community, as such, I call this hill Kedron Hill. I don't think it has a name for the folks around me though. The weather is usually pretty mild. I sure like it that way as I get older. But it can get pretty hot for a week or two, usually about the time July turns into August. Nice and green with rolling hills and shady hollows is the typical terrain around these parts. Life is quiet here. Peaceful. Good place to sit a spell out under any one of the shade trees here in our little grove. The house and shop are situated for the grove to protect them from the mean North wind when winter wants to take a cold bite. It does a good job at it, although some of these trees are old enough now that there is a danger of them falling in the storms of spring. We do have a few bad storms around here each spring. We have our share of the tornadoes that the Southeast is known for, right here in these parts. But thankfully for the wife and me, luck has held and we've not had to experience much damage from them first hand, as we have never been hit head on. We sure know folks that have though, folks that we call friends and some family too. Everyone breathes a little easier when they hear thunder off in the distance by the time April gets by.

Where did you go to school and what is your education level?
Donna and I went to school in Fort Payne, Alabama. I'm ashamed to say I wasn't much for school back then. Truth be told, if I hadn't been a reader, I would have never passed anything. First of every school year, I would be 'charged up' to attend. For about six weeks maybe. But during that time, I would have read all my text books. I relied upon my recollection of what I had read to pass everything through the year. I didn't score real high (especially towards the end of each year), but it was enough to have high C average. It wasn't until a few years had passed (five years) after high school graduation, that I realized I had set myself up to be an idiot. And then I got serious about filling in some gaps and doing something with the knack I had for circuits. I worked hard to get where I should have been as I graduated. I then went off into Army for a while (I had to prove to myself I was a man). After that, I went to a trade school and studied electronics, but I didn't get a job real fast, so I fell into a big truck and drove west coast turnarounds for a few years. I then came off the road to work for an electronics repair service. I did that most of my career, but as in most things, TV and other consumer electronic repair has its slumps and runs. During the slumps, I would learn new skills as we would take in new types of work. I learned to repair and program the control boards running the machines working in the local textile mills. It saved them a lot of downtime by them getting those boards fixed locally, instead of them having to ship them back to Italy to be factory repaired. Another slump saw me take on Computer repair. Until then, I had only seen a computer from a distance, other than the original Commodore we had at home about the time I was ready try my wings. Another time we started getting involved with the very first steps of bringing wireless internet into NorthEast Alabama using parts of microwave bands that the FCC was dropping so much of the traditional restrictive regulations on, so I helped set up some of the first WiFi towers that went in down that way. After that, my mother and eldest sister's health moved me and my family here, and I did go back to school for a bit at ITT Tech. Honestly, I was a bit disappointed but I did learn a bit about network security that I had not picked up on in my employment. It wasn't too long after that I started having health problems. So yeah, I spent a bunch of dollars that I will never recoup. And still I am about as smart as that rock over there.

What kind of things you like doing? hobbies, travel, fishing, camping?
I have enjoyed camping when I was younger. These days, I would be so stove up from sleeping like that, it would take me a week to get over a one night stay in a tent with a sleeping bag. I tinker on some electronic repair for friends and family. Mostly guitar amp repair these days. I can still see most of that stuff well enough to do some good! I tinker with repairs on my good days, and I ride my bike. I love my motorcycle, always have. That would be my hobby. If I hadn't had Donna happen to me while I was still a young man, I probably would have wound up an outlaw biker type.

Why and when did you start using Linux?
When I was a professional repair technician, during the slower times we would take in some computer repair work. Honestly, I was not qualified to be doing that work when it started appearing on my repair bench. It put me in the books. But I got better, then one day a Win2K appeared locked down by a forgotten password. My standard tool I had wouldn't work, so I had to research it. That lead me to my first contact with Linux. A fellow technician that was on a forum site we both were members of recommended I visit pogostick. I was amazed by this Linux tool! It did indeed clear that password! In those days you had to roll your own (compile from source). I had never attempted anything like that at that time, so it took me a few tries to get it together. But when I did, I remember wondering if Bill Gates knew that this Linux crowd (that we had only had heard the name of up until then) had a tool that would OWN his password security.

Shortly after that, I got to following some of the custom driver work for various WiFi chipsets in the portion of my career I spoke of earlier. But still I didn't attempt running an OS until Ubuntu 5, Breezy Badger. Truthfully, it was a nightmare. I stuck with it though, and got it running on my little laptop of the time. I remember the ndiswrappers needed for some of the drivers were such an issue for so many back then. But by then, I was committed to the open source mind set if there was any feasible way to continue forward using it. Today we have been without a Windows computer anywhere for several years, but for several more we have one dual booter somewhere -- mainly for the kids -- as they would have issues with some school work otherwise. CLARIFICATION: "We have been without a Windows computer anywhere now for several years..." is true on hardware only. I have a Window OS on VM for use as needed, since VM became an option, and there is a Win7 VM on my PCLinuxOS desktop currently.

What specific equipment do you currently use with PCLinuxOS?
My desktop is a Dell inspiron I got for some work I did for an apartment complex network about two years ago. It had Win 8.1 on it. Although it wasn't brand new, it had only been run a short time and its 2TB HDD completely failed. It had never been mirrored, so it was out an OS. I took it as part of the payment for setting up their small office network in Athens, Alabama that consisted of three terminals (Two Windows and one Mac) and getting a few shared resources up and available and helping their office manager get their VPN working that links them to their office in Atlanta. It has a quad core i5 Intel 3GHz processor 8 GB RAM and a 1 TB HDD. My main laptop is a HP dv6. iI has a dual core AMD PhenomII 2.6GHz CPU 8Gb RAM and a dangerously full 500 Gb HDD. Both are running PCLinuxOS Full Monty. All other machines here are running something else. Donna's laptop has Ubuntu-Gnome 16 LTS, and my old ancient Lenovo T60 is currently running Linux Pearl. It is the machine I do new distros on and take any calculated risk on.

What would you like to see happen within PCLinuxOS that would make it a better place. What are your feelings?
Hmmm. That is almost a tough one. The reason being is I personally have yet to see another community as avid and as active as this one is. Just look at the activity on the forums. That is amazing, especially to be as small as the PCLinuxOS community is when compared to some of the bigger communities. I think we are great. I realize why we are though, and I want to say I truly appreciate the dedication I see reflected in the twitter of Texstar, or with Meemaw or Paul Arnote and you David, with all of you guy's dedication to PCLinuxOS or to its magazine. We have a wonderful community of testers that do a great job. And we have a very responsive forum, replying to problems that anyone might be experiencing with a much more personalized attention than I have seen elsewhere. That it makes us a better group here at PCLinuxOS than it ever could be for the bigger guys. About the only thing I think would help more than we currently see, is some in depth tutorials for the absolute Linux newbie, catered to take them first few miles, not only into Linux but into PCLinuxOS. It would hit all the most important stuff first, like burning an ISO, then using that disc to install Full Monty, then how to properly get that new OS updated using the Synaptic update software (despite what we have already on that subject, I still struggled with that as I made the move to PCLinuxOS for far longer than I feel confident in saying here). Maybe to properly set up the drake connect firewall, or to setup a VPN, maybe showing how is the best way to recover from a frozen, locked up computer. I envision a desktop recorded YouTube style approach, but I have personally seen well enough written tutorials for other things in other distros that were written blog style that were wonderful too. I wager I would find value in some of those tutorials, and I don't consider myself a novice to Linux, but I am sure not a power user either.

I love this OS. I finally have found the one I will call home. It is amazing, I am still discovering NEW (to me) things about it to this day, things that impress me. I love this community around this OS. When a distro has all that going for it I think it is hard not to be the best. The tutorials might make others realize it too (even if they are the freshest minds to Linux) I would like to see PCLinuxOS stay healthy, but I wouldn't give up how being a smaller community brings out the best in its membership.

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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