On Sunday, August 5, 2007 Bush signed the revised Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) into law, in which the U.S. Congress spinelessly caved in and gave legal authority to the Bush administration to continue to intercept and spy on electronic communications. Then, on Thursday, August 16, 2007 the whole worldwide Skype network goes down. Coincidence? I think if you use Skype, you should now be very, very, concerned about the privacy of your calls and had better start considering using FOSS alternatives.
In April, the Supreme Court issued two rulings with respect to patents that will have significant ramifications for software companies. The first case dealt directly with Microsoft, which won big, staving off millions in damages for patent infringement. But in the second ruling, dealing with the design of a gas pedal control system for cars, Microsoft (and the whole software industry) lost big time. However, in one of those rare cosmic moments, the FOSS movement was a major winner in both cases.
What do a super secret ultracapacitor and a recent Supreme Court ruling have to do with providing viable clean electric energy to the masses? Well, if things are allowed to gravitate toward their logical conclusion, they provide the technical and political impetus to finally bring cheap, clean, and renewable power to the people.
Last week I gave you half of my Top Ten Names for Ubuntu releases. As a reminder, they were: 'pissy porcupine', 'bitty bat', 'virtual viper', 'talky tortoise', and (my favorite) 'kinky kangaroo'. Now here are the rest. I do this, again, as a public service to Ubuntu, which can freely use these names as it sees fit (though a brand new laptop would be a most fitting 'gift' as a show of gratitude for my creative genius). Anyway... read em and weep! Oh, and you even get a bonus release.
The Ubuntu people enjoy giving their releases funny animal names. There have been "warty warthog", "hoary hedgehog", "breezy badger", "dapper drake", "edgy eft", and the coming "feisty fawn". Well, with nothing better to blog about this week, I've decided to provide my suggestions for names. So for this week, and next, I will present my Top Ten Ubuntu Release Names, five this week, and the rest next. Read em and weep!
Cuba is the rough diamond of the western-southern hemisphere. Intentionally neutered by almost 50 years of U.S. foreign policy, Cuba has still been able to create one of the world's highest literacy rates, provide free health care to all its citizens, and exports more doctors than any other nation. Now Cuba stands on the precipice of a revolution in the use and development of free and open source software. This will not only likely have dramatic effects on the internal politics of the nation, but also lead to Cuba's next significant export -- free and open source software.
My last two blogs dealt with issues that illustrate to me that some people have a functional disconnect with the philosophy, and spirit, of what I feel is really what the Free Software movement should be about. For many "freedom" seems merely to be mostly a slogan, not a guiding principle to consistently adhere to, and a reality to produce. Here's what I think many people are missing.
KDE will soon be releasing version 4.0 of its desktop environment. But KDE has a deep, dark secret – it engages in slavery. Actually it's not a secret, they tell you straight up, they use slaves throughout its infrastructure. And since February is Black History Month in the U.S., I feel compelled to speak out against this injustice. Slavery anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere, even in software.
Do your ever wonder if some self-proclaimed open source projects really 'get it' what it means to truly be about being 'free and open source' versus just using FOSS for other means? Sometimes I really have to wonder, because I keep running into examples where projects touting open source software engage in behavior where they glaringly contradict the holistic and philosophical embrace of its ideals. There's a lot of faking the FOSS going on out there.
On a sunny and seasonably warm January 27, 2007 Saturday afternoon about 500,000 people marched in Washington DC to send Congress the message to end America’s occupation in Iraq and bring the troops home. But, if the U.S. (and other countries) war machines have their way, future conflicts will rely less on human troops and more on automated weapons systems. And for all the reasons that FOSS is being chosen to satisfy businesses and individuals IT needs, so too is it being chosen by the world’s militaries to design, simulate, test and control their future weapons.
Confidential White House sources have leaked to me a secretly included draft section of the President’s State of the Union address. These sources suspect that the Free Software Foundation (FSF), a suspected terrorist group, somehow gained access to the speech and included this section. It was purportedly caught at the last moment by a staffer who was literate enough to understand what she was reading. I release this copy of the rejected section, exposing myself to potentially grave peril, as a public service to our readers.
Most of us just use FOSS, but somebody has to develop and write the code. And the language that's used greatly affects the outcome. If you haven't tried Ruby yet, you owe it to yourself to begin playing with it. If you value joy, if you value simplicity, if you value beauty, then you owe it to yourself to learn Ruby, the emerging jewel of FOSS.
The Bush administration has already claimed “we don’t need no steenkin warrant” to listen to your phone calls, see what websites you visit, scan your emails, and now, with the revelation of a new “signing statement”, it’s even claiming the authority to read your physical mail.
Yes, our privacy is under assault.
"Thus, this [Supreme] Court's precedent repeatedly sets out that software, which is nothing more than a set of instructions – an algorithm – to be performed by a computer in order to solve some mathematical problem, is subject matter that is not patentable..."
Kwanzaa is an African inspired end of year observance of the Nguzo Saba (seven guiding principles) celebrated from December 26 – January 1. On each day ceremonies take place to emphasize characteristics that represent the spirit of, and adherence to, that days principle. It occurred to me these seven principles beautifully characterize the spirit and essence of FOSS, and can be used to celebrate it too.
While waiting for the imminent release of PCLinuxOS 0.94 I started wishing for a USB flash drive to back up my /home data. I usually just buy the Live CD, but I then started to think, what I'd really like to have is the OS come on a flash drive. No installation would be necessary, just plug it in and use. Then in a flash, an epiphany, it became clear, the end of CDs is near.
While waiting for the imminent release of PCLinuxOS 0.94 I started wishing for a usb flash drive to back up my /home data. I usually just buy the Live CD, but I then started to think, what I'd really like to have is the OS come on a flash drive. No installation would be necessary, just plug it in and use. Then in an epiphany (a flash even), it became clear, the end of CDs is near.
“Mr. Gandhi, what do you think of Western civilization?”
“I think it would be a very good idea.”
“But what about American democracy?”
“I think you better start using open source voting machines.”
OK, maybe Gandhi didn't say ALL of that, but if he were asked the question, I can see him saying something like that, based on our election history this century.
People in this country are pretty funny, they really are.
It’s a damn shame how we exert so much energy for what we want, and considerably less for what we really need. People will queue up for a week, and risk weather and robbery (“Violence Mars PlayStation 3 Launch”) to secure the “opportunity” to spend $500+ of slave labor earned money to buy a PS3 while probably oblivious of how that same amount of money could buy them computing power that could set them free(r).
What we need are more Penguinz in da hood and fewer PS3s.