An interview with Artificial Intelligence

Edit: Unfortunately, the images originally included in this post are gone, because of hosting problems in late 2009. My apologies.

Ubuntu is three years old this month, and some of its earliest users are still part of the community. Artificial Intelligence — forum member No. 19, as he points out — began as a beta tester for the first release, but is probably best known for his aesthetic tastes … tastes that manifest themselves as amazing, beautiful and artistic desktops. Theming is not his only talent, with the Ubuntu Gamers Arena and the monolithic Ubuntu Document Storage Facility as additional projects. All said, you’d be hard-pressed to find another community member who has given back as much as AI.

Tell as much as you’re willing about your “real” life — name, age, gender, location, family, religion, profession, education, hobbies, etc.

Artificial Intelligence’s avatarMy real name is Simon (my parents wanted to call me Lokí, but my grandparents were against it), I’m a man in my best age (30, that is), living in a small country in Scandinavia called Denmark (population 5.2 million). My family traces its origins back to Norway in 1622. My education is in gardening and garden planning. But for the last six years I’ve been working in a daycare center for children aged 5-10, and in the last few months I started as a teacher.

In my teenage years I was in a rock/heavy band as a keyboard player; I have played keyboard and piano since I was 10 (and still do). I read a lot of horror/sci-fi books in both Danish and English. I like to draw, mostly manga for the kids (I must have made over 100 drawings of Pikachu 😆 ).

As a gardener I specialize in herbs and I have a interest in healing herbs and medical abilities.

Another thing I like is football. I follow F.C. Copenhagen in every match; my favorite English team is Liverpool!

I’m an asátruár, which means I believe and worship the Norse gods and goddesses and the spirits around us. I have been that all my life, and I could read and write runes when I was 7 years old.

When and how did you become interested in computers? in Linux? in Ubuntu?

Well, it started at an early age when my parents bought a Commodore 64 at the amazing prize of 4500 crowns (~£500) in the 80’s. I got bored with the games and started to write programs in BASIC. Later I got my own Commodore 64, while my friends rushed for the 386 and Amiga 500. After some years I spent my money on an Amiga DVD, but found out later it was a dying race.

In 1996 I got my first PC — a Pentium 100Mhz, 32Mb RAM, 56k modem, 800Mb hard drive with Windows 95.

It was in 2000 that I first got an interest in Linux — when one of my friends told me that he managed to hack the DSB (Danish Railroad) information system, but got caught. At that time I had WindowsME and Corel Linux on my computer; three years later I was Windows-free and was running Linux Mandrake.

In 2004 I heard on the (back then Mandrake) forum that a new distro was in the works, and everybody wanted to give it a spin when the first beta came out. That was the Warty beta, and I was impressed.

When did you become involved in the forums? What’s your role there?

A guy at (I think it was JVC) said that a new forum for Ubuntu had been created. We were among a few that signed up on the same day (yep, I’m member No. 19). Later on I joined the staff force and I’ve been there since.

Are you an Ubuntu member? If so, how do you contribute? If not, do you plan on becoming one?

😆 I really don’t know if I’m a member; I think I am. That’s nothing I put a lot of concern in. I must be since I’m part of Ubuntu Gamers Arena and the Ubuntu Document Storage Facility.

What distros do you regularly use? What software? What’s your favorite application? Your least favorite?

Mostly Ubuntu, but I have been using a lot of distros. If Ubuntu wasn’t there or suddenly disappeared I would jump on Arch Linux without any hesitations. But I use Ubuntu as I want to help a lot of newcomers to the Linux world. Most applications in Ubuntu I compile myself, to keep myself sharp.

I’m a Gnome fanatic, though from time to time I try KDE to see what it has to offer. E17 is something I could switch to, if I had to switch.

My favorite applications are

  • Audacious – Winamp clone (one of the best IMO)
  • VLC – Multimedia player
  • Gimp – paint application
  • Pixel – paint editor
  • Deluge – P2P

… and a lot of Linux-native games. Even though I suck at FPSs, I can’t stop playing them.

What I hate most is when people still use XMMS as player. 😆 Then I tell them go get Audacious. 🙂

What’s your fondest memory from the forums, or from Ubuntu overall? What’s your worst?

The best memories I have of Ubuntuforums are when people post back and say thank you. It really motivates me to help others and you feel you have done a good deed. And it’s a bit disappointing when you don’t hear from the people you help.

But what I hate most are trolls and the “you owe me because I installed Ubuntu and it doesn’t work” or “Linux isn’t ready because I can’t figure out how to use it” people. But for the most part I’m ignoring them; there’s no need to waste energy on them.

What luck have you had introducing new computer users to Ubuntu?

Not much. A typical response is, “OMG!!!1 The X button is not there! … Oh, it’s here instead. … Well, Ubuntu is not for me.” But again, I think it’s part of human nature to be a little conservative when confronted with new things.

What would you like to see happen with Linux in the future? with Ubuntu?

I think we’ll see Linux to be a common thing within the next 10 years, especially where people are working and where people take an interest in computing. Most governments will change to Linux as black hat hacking, spyware, viruses, backdoors and worms get worse and worse. The rest — people with non-computer skills — will go to a big hell of zombified computers and hijacks. So we’ll see a community split into an intellectual group and a “victim” group.

If there was one thing you could tell all new Ubuntu users, what would it be?

That would be: Contribute with whatever skill(s) you have.

AI keeps a blog at, which doubles as a gallery of his best work and a set of tutorials on how to duplicate his efforts. For more interviews with community members and staff, read Nine Simple Questions.


7 thoughts on “An interview with Artificial Intelligence

  1. anticapitalista

    Nice reading.

    A point I picked up on.
    What I hate most is when people still use XMMS as player. 😆 Then I tell them go get Audacious. 🙂

    Unless I have missed something, audacious still doesn’t use the mplayer plugin.
    Also, I have found the sound quality of xmms to be better on my box than audacious.
    Audacious is a very fine audio player an IMO in almost where xmms is (even though xmms is so old)

  2. Artificial Intelligence

    If you enable mplayer plugin flag in audacious plugin source, that should do it.
    I agree that Audacious still needs improvement, but the project is very active, so it’s only matter of time now.
    So people, go out and help out the Audacious team!

  3. Pingback: an interview with Ubunto AI No. 19 « Singularity Central

  4. onshiv

    All this time and I never knew you worked with kids like me. Hope you are well 🙂

    Grant (manicka)

  5. Pingback: Lettre Hebdomadaire Ubuntu n° 64 du 28 octobre au 3 novembre 2007 « Lettre Hebdomadaire Ubuntu

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