Tony Mobily's articles

Interview with Adam Green and Jonathan Gray, founders of The Public Domain Review

Adam is a Berlin-based writer and artist. Jonathan works at a not-for-profit organisation called the Open Knowledge Foundation and studies philosophy and intellectual history at the University of London. Together, they created a website called The Public Domain Review

Free Software and public domain are somehow cousins, and -- more importantly -- they share similar goals. I talked to Adam and Jonathan, who agreed to answer a few questions for us.

Google and Privacy: An Open letter to Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Matt Cutts, Vic Gundotra

An Open letter to Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Matt Cutts, Vic Gundotra

Subject: So, does Google look into their users' private, non-shared files, and might close accounts if an AI decides that there is something illegal there?

Dear Sergey, Larry, Matt, and Vic,

Something sad happened to the world of cloud computing over the last week. I have followed with great interest the events of the now-celebrity @thomasmonopoly about Google closing his account.

Here is the short story: @thomasmonopoly had a bunch of (non-shared) images in his Google account. A program at Google flagged some of them as child pornography. His account was suspended. He complained loudly. He went viral. Google first ignored. Then backed their actions. They finally relented and apologised as there was no child pornography there, just an arts project -- a real one.

The Free Technology Academy needs your help!

The Free Technology Academy [1] is one of those incredible initiatives that spring out of the free software culture, and create something that goes way beyond free software.

Unfortunately, the FTA has recently lost their European funding. I talked to David Jacovkis, one of the people behind this innovative project, to know more about their situation and what needs to be done so that their project can keep on thriving.

Free Software: the road to a Universal bundle, a powerful app store, and world domination

Apple is doing it again: they are releasing an app store for OS X on the 6th of January. Just like the iPhone app store, and the Android app store, this is going to be a hit: the OS X ecosystem will get a giant boost from it, and we are left -- once again -- with a lot to learn. Before you mention that GNU/Linux doesn't need an app store because it's free software, and before you even say that GNU/Linux already has an app store through one of the many software managers (Synaptics, Ubuntu Software Center, apt-get), please read this article.

Google Chrome OS and Android: arranging a difficult marriage

There has been a lot of talking, lately, about Google's Chrome OS. People didn't take it too seriously initially; then, last week, Google started sending out demo netbooks which ran -- hear hear -- Google Chrome OS. Google Chrome OS is based on Google's browser, Chrome -- hence the name. The idea is that all you run on your laptop is your browser -- that's it. But this raises a lot of questions. In this article I propose a possibly interesting solution to Google's issues, and how a possible (and not-so-painful) merge with Android should be possible.

Ubuntu embraces Unity and Wayland. Or, GNU/Linux is exciting again

After installing Ubuntu 10.10, I had a strange feeling I was seeing something that was already old. Yes, Ubuntu is a fantastic desktop system, and yes it's better than Windows. But today, in 2010, that's almost a given. And that's not enough. The IT world is changing, and PCs themselves as a whole are getting old. The mass is moving towards tablets, mobiles machines, and netbooks. Ubuntu, the way it is today, might be the best choice in a dinosaur world. I can't read Mark Shuttleworth's mind, but I can only guess this is exactly what he felt when he decided to switch to Unity (for the UI) and Wayland (for the graphics architecture). Let me explain what all of this means.

Basecamp alternatives

Basecamp alternatives

When 37Signals created Basecamp, they filled a huge void in the project management market: the world was full of people who needed to actually manage projects and communicate, rather than learning the black magic of project management and its complex terminology. Free alternatives to Basecamp took a long time to develop: ActiveCollab was released around 2006, a good 2 years after Basecamp. Right now, the most established free alternatives are Project Pier and FengOffice. There are tons of non-free alternatives to Basecamp out there. They are all page-reload applications that mimic Basecamp's interface quite closely. Amongst the non-free ones, there is one I'd like to see as free software: Apollo. More about Apollo later.

Free Software News like never before: 17 September 2010 to 23 September 2010

Seabird is a new phone concept. Its main aim is to show you how a really cool video about a really amazing device that doesn't exist yet can be used to talk about a very amazing browser, Firefox Mobile for Android, that doesn't exist yet. What's left to be seen, is whether you exist.

Microsoft's Live spaces bloggers will become Wordpress Apparently, the import procedure might consist in a few people working overtime for one day at the most, to move the few dozens users over from Live Spaces to Wordpress.

Free Software News 9 September 2010 to 16 september 2010

The free software news review for people who just don't have time not to laugh.

You can unsubscribe from this at any time, by replying "Mercy on me". Or, you could send me a good RSS source of news to make fun o^H^H^H^H^Hreport.

Magento is now officially available in their Magento mobile version. Magento is very powerful, but it's also the best way to turn a server into an overloaded, underpaid slave if you are not careful with the specs. Their mobile version is reported to respect your PDA's worker rights. In the meantime, for the sleepless, learn how to manage orders using Magento.

Packt launch the fifth annual awards for free and open source software

Packt publishing is now organising the 2010 Open Source Awards. The winning projects will actually get a monetary prize (which I am sure will be most welcome).

I am always a little skeptical of these awards. However, I have to say that Packt really have proved themselves here: they started with the Open Source CMS Award a few years back, and they have now expanded it to several different categories.

Go and check out their web site, and make sure you nominate the projects you think should win!

10 years on: free software wins, but you have nowhere to install it

I am typing this as I am finally connected in shell to my Android phone. The prompt reminds me that it's based on the Linux kernel (it's free), the Dalvik virtual machine (it's free), and free libraries. Millions of Android devices are shipped every day, each one is a Linux system. Today, it's phone. Soon, it will be tablets: Android 3.0 (coming out at the end of the year) will finally be very suitable for tablets. Apple alone will have to face fierce competition on pretty much every front. Microsoft... who? They are more irrelevant every day. I should be happy, right? Well, sort of. Looking back at how long it took me to get this shell prompt makes me worried. Very worried. We are heading towards a world where we no longer own the hardware we buy -- and there is no point in having free software if you can't own your hardware.

Apollo Project and Contact Management

Drowning in your TODO list? Need some todo list software? Trouble organizing project and contacts? Try Apollo, project and contact management done right.

A single-page Ajax application that finally looks and feels like an application.

Firefox, Chrome, Safari have finally killed Internet Explorer

I have been wanting to write this article for a while. Years, in fact. I am determined to write it in the simplest possible format: no punch-line at the bottom, no building up to a grand conclusion, but simply stating something impressive, true, and simply wonderful: the hegemony that Internet Explorer once upon a time had is... over. Right now, other browsers are fighting amongst each other, and it's all about how much of IE's share they are getting. The war is over: Internet Explorer lost. Everybody else won.

When Javascript became the world's new CPU

The computing world is always very unpredictable. That must be why there is a small number of people who make large amounts of money from it: they are in the right (unpredictable) place, at the right (unpredictable) time. Who would have ever guessed that Javascript, a simple scripting language initially thought as a simple means to make web pages "cooler", would become... drum roll... the world's new CPU?

I doubt anybody expected it. Even after seeing AJAX (which was ironically started by Microsoft...), very few would have bet that Javascript would become quite so important. Javascript is the only really widespread, multiplatform solution the modern IT world has seen. And yet, it made it. Google Documents is an office suite which runs in your browser -- and it's not even the best one. And that's only the beginning: the world is absolutely full of software -- and I am talking about full blown software -- which will run for you wherever you are.

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!

An Open Letter to Michael Dell: Why I have no choice but return my Ubuntu Inspiron Mini 10

UPDATE: as it turned out, I was shipped a faulty item by Dell. They changed the motherboard, and things worked smoothly. However, at the end of this exercise I learned that the selection of machines available with Ubuntu is still quite small -- hopefully they will extend it soon

Dear Michael,

I have been a fan of yours for many years -- since I was a kid in fact! I watched as you created Dell, one of the first ("the" first?) companies that sold computers by mail order. I watched you become wealthy, successful, and then retire, only to come back to Dell to remind its managers what they seemed to have forgotten: listen to your customers. I watched you embrace GNU/Linux; I remember thinking: I wonder if people realise what this will actually mean. I am sure he does.

So, here I am: I bought an Inspiron Mini 10. I have no choice but return it. And now I can't stop wondering: how could Michael Dell get it just so wrong?


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