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A talk with Brandon Whichard about Zenoss, the cloud, Amazon's EC2 and more

The recent announcement of Zenoss of their new EC2 module got my attention. Everybody talks about the cloud, complain about it, fear it, snub it... and then some companies (and people) write free software that works with this cloud and spin some amazing things.

I talked to Brandon Whichard at Zenoss about it, and we ended up having a very interesting conversation about monitoring, the community, the cloud, and the future.

Google Chrome OS. Or, how KDE and GNOME managed to shoot each other dead

A lot of people at the moment are immensely intrigued by Google Chrome OS. I won't hide that I am one of them. Google promises a much needed shift in the way small computers work. Problems like software updates, backups, installation, maintenance, viruses, have plagued the world for too long: a shift is way overdue. To me, however, the change about to happen shows us what many people have refused to believe for a long time: KDE and GNOME shot each other dead. I write this knowing full well that I am going to make a lot of people angry. This might be the first time a writer receives very angry responses from both camps -- KDE and GNOME's users might actually (finally?) join arms and fight just to show everybody how wrong I am!

Book Review: The book of Inkscape: The definitive guide to the free graphic editor by Dmitry Kirsanov

Inkscape is a mature SVG vector graphics editor. You can run it on a number of platforms including GNU/Linux and Windows. It has a rich set of features and is popular and actively maintained. The Book of Inkscape: the definitive guide to the free graphics editor, by Dmitry Kirsanov is a comprehensive guide of 476 pages that describes in detail the various parts of the software. The book also includes six chapter-size tutorials that emphasis the manipulative power of this feature rich editor.

Free software in real business

Preamble

There are many "theoretical" talks about how free software can be used commercially, that it can greatly stimulate business activity and so on. There are very few real life examples of that. And most of them, as I can see, firstly had just common classical proprietary model of software development and only later some of them either freed their products or at least opened. As I can understand, only after fear of competition had gone they tried to made timid steps to open-source (as nearly none of them really understand difference between open-source and free software

Response to Sam Tuke's Response to "Is free software major league or minor?"

Thanks to Sam Tuke for a well-written and constructive response to my article Is free software major league or minor?. Tuke refers to my post as a "dismissal" of free software, however, which is ironic at best. There is no such dismissal in my article. Instead, there is a challenge: "Can we raise our game?" Furthermore, I would argue that classifying that challenge as a "dismissal" stems from a fundamental lack of faith in our ability to succeed -- which is ironically, the accusation Tuke levels at me. Where does this disconnect happen?

Computer Institute under $5000

I love computers and have sat in front of it for hours and probably days at a time forgetting food, bath. Even today I took a bath at 6 PM, its a custom in India that one must take a bath at dawn, well I forgot and somehow remembered!

I like to teach art of computing to others. Its an obedient machine and does what you tell it to do. There was passion, and spark what lacked was tons of money. I have to settle in for shoe string budget to open my own training center. I had no choice and hence in came free software.

Open messaging for the Open Web: Installing and configuring Mozilla Raindrop on Ubuntu 9.10

By the time you read this Karmic Koala will have been released to a waiting world, but I couldn't wait. A felicitous combination of a desire to do a distribution upgrade to the release candidate and a Twitter arriving on my laptop giving me a link to Raindrop kept me busy for the day. I was intrigued by Raindrop and having used other Mozilla lab experimental software I was determined to see what all the hype was about. If you like the idea of combining a tool for aggregating Twitter, e-mail, RSS and other social Web 2.0 stuff with free and open standards then read on.

A response to "free software major league or minor?": Unjustified dismissal?

I just read Terry Hancock's artilce on Is free software major league or minor?. Great article, and I'm very glad to see articulate discussion about these core subjects. Not enough is said about these matters.

However, I disagree strongly on several points that your article raises. I'll take it point by point in an effort to not misrepresent your views and keep focussed on the statements that you have made.

Keeping score in test-driven development with Python, PyLint, unittest, doctest, and PyRate

Programming is more fun when you keep score. The extreme programming (XP) development model popularized the idea of test-driven development (TDD) with professional programmers in mind. But TDD turns out to be even more useful for lone amateur programmers, because it provides much needed motivation in the form of more visible rewards for your work. This is true even when simple test runners are used, but I decided to make things a little snappier by including a couple of other types of measurement and generating a "scorecard" for the present state and progress of my Python software projects. Here's how it works, and a download link for my script, which I call "PyRate".

Are Microsoft to blame for "hidden" malware costs and will Windows 7 make any difference?

A couple of stories have hit the headlines this year concerning the huge cost that some UK Local Governments incurred when dealing with malware attack on their Windows machines. If you missed them, Manchester City Council had a single USB infected with the infamous Conficker worm and it cost them -- brace yourself -- £1.5m (US$2.4m) of which £1.2m (US$1.9m) was spent on IT, of which a staggering £600,000 (US$980k) went on consultancy fees including money to Microsoft. A while later, Ealing Borough Council were hit with a cost of £500000 (about US$800k) when they were also hit by a single USB stick containing conficker. Some in the industry tweeted and blogged this as being a "hidden cost of using Microsoft Windows". In the ensuing discussion, many pointed out that the high cost was really due to the lack of a proper patching and disaster recovery policy at the council. So which is right? Is dealing with malware a hidden cost of using Windows or of a poor IT strategy?

Discovering "Sita Sings The Blues"

"Sita Sings The Blues" by self-taught animator Nina Paley, may be the first feature-length animated film released under a free license (the Creative Commons By-SA). Presented through a variety of animation styles and narrative tones, it fuses apparently disparate ideas and sources into a unified whole. An ancient Hindu epic, The Ramayana, is retold largely through the songs of a 1920s American singer, Annette Hanshaw. The mode of storytelling also mirrors aspects of the world-wide collaborative potential of twenty-first century art, reflected also in the film's real life controversies, including copyright entanglements and censorship concerns.

RepRap, the replicating machine: The Free and Open Source Factory on the Desktop?

RepRap (replicating Rapid-prototyper) is a 3D printer and it is impeccably free and open source under both the GPL and the Creative Commons Licence. It's early days but the implications and the promise are potentially enormous in their own right -- but the fact that it is resolutely not proprietary is what caught my attention.

Implementing a sensible copyright: "FLOW-IT"

It can be hard to get paid for producing free-licensed works. Software represents a niche where a lot of exceptions can be found, but for aesthetic works, the problem is severe. This has spurred a lot of innovative ideas for better incentive systems. Along the way, though, the most obvious and simple solution has mostly been overlooked: just re-implement the traditional limited copyright idea in a way that makes sense for the 21st century. Here's a simple solution that I call "FLOW-IT" for "Free Licensing Of Works -- In Time," which simply leverages existing Creative Commons licensing to do the job.

Getting Stanford's "Karel the Robot" to Run in Debian's Eclipse

I'm taking Stanford's Open Courseware "Programming Methodology" this semester, but I got stumped early on by the problem of setting up the special Stanford class libraries in my Debian-standard Eclipse installation. The instructions and files available from the website are only available for Windows and Macintosh platforms. The process is not that hard, but if you're new to Java and Eclipse (and especially if you are new to programming, as the class assumes), you'll likely be thrown by this. I couldn't find any documentation on how to do this after extensive searching, so here it is.

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