Hacking

Hacking

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Being the founder of Free Software Magazine means that I receive amazing (or I should say amusing) amounts of email that ask us to announce the imminent release of some fantastic project that will change the world. I always answer that I will be happy to talk about the fantastic project once it’s been launched, and I can actually see something.

Nobody ever calls back.

Even worse, when I go back and check what the project status is, I often find that the “launch” never happened, or that it did and that’s pretty much where the project stands—a few months later!

OpenXDAS

No one would argue that software auditing is not an important feature of mission critical applications. If a software based process is critical to the life of your company, then so is the security and access control surrounding resources managed by that software based process. Auditing is the way you track who did what to what and when it happened. Lately, however, the software industry has been lackadaisical at best regarding auditing. Off the shelf software developers either care about auditing, or they don’t.

Configuring a Linux home internet gateway

My family is hooked on Windows. I’ve thought about trying to coerce them into switching to GNU/Linux, but the very thought of what I’d have to put up with for the next year just makes my head ache. I’m not talking about software maintenance issues. I’m talking about trying to defend my position time and time again as they complain that they can’t run their favorite games or applications. Telling them to change their favorites is like spitting into the wind—it’s sort of masochistic.

Reformation of a Visual Basic programmer II

Last week I mentioned that I enjoy programming in Visual Basic and suggested that people shouldn't act so superior and look down at dweebs like me who program in dweeby languages. Today let's talk about why Visual Basic is an awful programming language and anyone using it should run kicking-and-screaming away. (I'll admit that kicking and running may be difficult to do at the same time.) Run away, not because it's lame, but because it's so horribly unfree.

Who owns this thing?

Confessions of a Visual Basic programmer I

In my first post here at Free Software Magazine, I mentioned that I actually like using Microsoft Windows. People seemed to let this go or find it not worth commenting on, maybe because my goal is to move away from it. Not that I expected rabid opposition. Not at all. GNU/Linux users are well-known for being quite mild and reserved in their opinions. If we must go back to my drug use analogy, it could also be that readers here were supportive of my desire to seek treatment and rehabilitation and didn't see the need to condemn me for past transgressions. (But really now, the drug metaphor has to go.)

Perhaps just as egregious a violation of the principles of free software has been my use of Visual Basic over the past ten years. And similarly, I'm going to tell you that I like programming in Visual Basic. (Version 6, specifically. Not VB.NET/Visual Fred.)

Extending documentation formats and facilities using the Docbook base

Back in July, we made an Eclipse documentation plug-in of the MySQL manuals available for users to download.

In truth, the Eclipse documentation format is actually just HTML; you have to combine the HTML with a plug-in manifest that details the documentation, version number etc so that the documentation is loaded and identified as a valid plug-in element when Eclipse is started.

Yudit: edit your multi-language text easily

In this article I will show you how to write multi-language texts without the cumbersome OpenOffice.org. Back in 1999, the Hungarian Gáspár Sinai needed to edit Hungarian and Japanese texts. So he decided to write an editor that was Unicode [1] compliant. Once he had done the basic work, it was a straightforward task to include other languages, and Yudit [2] was born.

Yudit was built for Unix, but Sinai did do a version for Windows.

Ghost in the shell

It's well-known that the way that people choose to appear online is distinct from physical appearance, and this is often perceived as some kind of falsehood. But honestly, for someone you've never met, which is their “real” face? And do you learn more from a photograph or an avatar? This is my first departure from “pragmatic” ideas into somewhat more “spiritual” territory, which I plan to follow up for a few weeks. I hope to explore some of the human side of online interaction, since that's how most free software gets made.

The cyborg

The trouble of writing a standards compliant website

One of my tasks at work is to write, enhance and maintain a small website for my boss. Having been given free reign, I—of course—decided to host it on a LAMP server. No trouble here. Not wanting to use outdated technology that would require extensive rewriting after a few years, I decided to stick to standards—and I learnt XHTML 1.1.

Break a leg, or break a page.

Documentation formats

We were discussing documentation formats today within the team, and I have to admit that personally I don’t have a preferred format. I find I use the HTML (online) formats often when I'm looking for something specific, and the PDF when I want to read something in more detail. As I spend most of my day in emacs when programming, I use either HTML or the Info format.

Free your mind — write some free software

Back when I got my first computer (a TRS-80 “Color Computer” with a whopping 32 kilobytes of RAM and Microsoft’s “MS-BASIC” in ROM), programming was something that computer users took for granted they’d have to do. That’s what you got a computer for! But something dark and sinister happened after that: a great divide opened up between the ‘developer’ lords and the ‘user’ serfs.

Fortunately, free software has liberated us from this digital feudalism, and revived a new middle class of ‘user-developers’.

Your comfort language

I've been programming in Perl for years - over ten now in fact - and I've written numerous books and articles on Perl and Perl programming. I've also worked with Python and written books and articles on Python programming, including a guide to migrating Perl applications to the Python language. For a while I really saw Python as an alternative to Perl, but after so many years and experience with Perl and what was possible with the language it is difficult to move on from the 'Perl comfort zone'.

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