When conversations turn to digital literacy or netgenrs I never have to look far for examples. I have several who live in my house. Noah is my soon to be 21 year old son. He is the only boy in a family of four young adult children. He has many passions: snowboarding, fishing, gaming, reading, Allison and technology (not necessarily in that order.) Currently, he is working his way through a computer science degree as a CADD tech at an engineering firm. Tonight we are grilling out fresh tuna he caught while fishing with his friends.
Last night he tells me, "Mom, I want to show you what I built, it's a TiVo." That's right, I walk in the room and he has built an open source TiVo system or a Myth TV PVR. It runs on top of Linux (you can use any distribution of Linux) and is completely open source. It supports backend and frontend (read server/client protocol) so you can have one master backend to do all the recording, watching, transcoding from one format to another (for instance a very loud, powerful PC capable of streaming and recording multiple channels hidden in a closet or the back of your house) then he put the box with just a motherboard, videocard and flashdrive hooked up to a TV in the living room to stream the content and control the backend from there. It supports multiple frontends- so basically you can do this from anywhere in the house that has a TV.
In addition, the backend has a built in webserver that will control any functionality you can do at the keyboard via a laptop or browser capable cell phone or other device. Noah can change channels, turn up or down volume, and stop and start record from any where in the world - including his sidekick/laptop which negates the need for a remote control (although the remote control is also fully functional LIRC project.)
Recently, he also custom built a water cooled PC. This monster machine has components that were huge in comparison to most. For example, his video card is an nVidia 8800 gtx with 768 mb of onboard gddr3 RAM. The power supply is a 750 Watt modular power supply with plugs that are detachable for removing unneeded wires for efficiency. The whole system is water cooled with a closed loop water cooling system that has two 120 mm radiators, cooling the water that flows through them. The reasoning behind such a machine is Noah wanted to build as powerful a machine as possible but didnt want to sacrifice noise and heat into his bedroom, so the water cooled system made sense.
Walking in his room might give one the feel of being a computer graveyard, with machines being parted out cluttered about and high end equipment everywhere you look. For example, he has a 42U server rack. Out of the rack he runs six machines one of which controls the network through a firewall distribution of Linux for our home network. He runs a Ventrillo server which is VoIp server for voice communication when gaming. He runs an Asterisk server which is an open source telephony tool that runs on top of Linux that connects a telephone via SIP protocol to the public PSTN and has its own phone number that can be dialed from any phone in the world. Overall, it has more functionality that most business PBX set-ups.
Noah feels, "If we don't fight to keep up with the latest in knowledge management tools- we are just going to be left behind." He uses the technology for pleasure and learning. His typical activities include web creation, gaming, and programming. Noah has also used his connectivity to learn Russian and some Mandarin.
His future goals include finishing his computer science degree and getting a job in open source development. Anyone looking for a gifted self-starter?