Opinions

Opinions

Preaching to the non-converted: FOSS and political activism

Bruce Byfield of Linux.com has a great editorial up about Why FOSS isn’t on activist agendas. Bruce points out that although FOSS enthusiasts are great at discussing their “shared values” within their own niche, they’re not very good at reaching out to the broader community—particularly folks over 40 who tend to be more active and influential in politics than the under 30 “techie” crowd:

Immolation through rabid anti-commercialism

The ideals of free software may have freedom have its center, but for many the concept of ‘free’ relates to its price. Even with RMS’s jingoistic “free as in freedom, not free as in beer” people don’t get it. Even though RMS has repeatedly said he has no problem with commercial software, the message is not getting through. Instead, the merest hint that someone in the community might be making money from something open source related sends large factions into spasms of rabid anti-commercialism.

Bringing Democracy to America with FOSS: voting

“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.

Linux and its closing window of opportunity with OEMs

I am planning on changing the world with this article. I can’t do it on my own: I need your help.

Well, I must admit that changing the whole world might be a little ambitious. For now, I will settle for the “computing world”.

Right now, the following factors are true:

  • Linux has a very viable desktop and office suite—for free. OpenOffice being bloated is basically not an issue anymore, since even a basic computer today will run OpenOffice completely fine. Thanks to Ubuntu, end users can now use Linux and not notice the difference.

A memory boost for an aging bookworm

Our family loves reading. The bookcases are full and most flat surfaces are covered with reading material. The written word seems to flow through our house, making brief stops to be read and then sent on its way. Keeping up with all our books is an activity we just haven't attempted. This weakness has resulted in books that have never been found or returned (plus some generous fines paid to our local library).

For example, while visiting a family member recently, I noticed the book “Maiden Voyage” by Tania Aebi. “I remember really enjoying that book” I said. “You should, that's your book.” was the response, “You loaned it to me months ago.”

I know my memory isn't what it once was, but I don't recall loaning out that book. How many other books have I loaned out? Who else have I loaned books? Not knowing the answers to those questions, I curiously checked the Ubuntu repositories. There I found Tellico and Alexandria Book Manager.

Computational ubiquity

I've been re-reading The Third Wave, by Alvin Toffler. Though first published over twenty years ago, there's still some serious predictive mojo left in that book. The basic concept is this: there have been two previous "waves" of civilization. The first was the agricultural wave, which spread across the world over the course of several thousand years. About three hundred years ago, the second wave of civilization began—the industrial revolution. Now we are in the middle of the next wave, the information revolution.

MP3: nothing to do with piracy. Really.

Mylatest blog entry began with this paragraph:

Messing with MP3 files is, for some people, a synonym for illegal use of copyrighted music. Well, actually it's not.

The reason I wrote that incipit remained unclear to many, that didn't seeany link between this first phrase and the rest of the article. I therefore decided towrite a few blog entries on the subject. This time I'll talk about theMP3 format in itself.

Visualize your disk usage

Take a hard, honest look at your desk. It's mostly neat,but there are stacks of papers that you've been meaning to file, a fewbooks, maybe a DVD in a half-open case... you know, the regular clutterthat slowly creeps into a workspace. Now, take a look at yourcomputer's desktop; same thing, right? Pretty well organized, but when you focuson it, there's probably folders and files all over the place. When youcheck your remaining hard drive space, you're shocked! Where'd all thatspace go?

Solution

Graphics creation on GNU/Linux: nice stuff and big hurdles

A great deal of the web is GNU/Linux based: most of it runs on LAMP servers, and some content is created with great tools such as the GIMP, Inkscape and a fancy notepad (or Vi, or Emacs—don’t start). Pen tablets are recognised and used, you have access to effects plug-ins, you can work on bitmaps or vectors (thanks Mr Pierre Bézier! Your name will remain in history). On the other hand, as soon as you want to have your work printed, it’s another matter.

Creating graphics

The GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP)

From XMMS to Audacious: the history of a Winamp clone

One of the most used functions on any modern computer is the ability to play back music. From the first beeps and bloops in arcade machines, to the AdLib and the first Sound Blasters in home PCs, to the monstrosity of the 51 million transistor Sound Blaster X-Fi, people have listened and continue to listen to music on computers.

Back in 1997, someone finally decided to write a usable music player for GNU/Linux: X11Amp, now known as XMMS.

Sometimes I just want to be stupid

Most modern Linux distributions have slick graphical installers, are on single DVD's and install common applications very easily. The installers make software choices that lead new users by the hand with little to go wrong. Life is also easier for us old timers who, in the past, suffered through many configuration files, compiling network drivers and the miscellaneous headaches we encountered trying to get our hardware to work.

Change is maddeningly inevitable

To broaden or not broaden the GNU/Linux user base. This topic has generated a ton of discussion and emotion within the community. Whatever your particular stance, one thing is guaranteed. Change! And human beings are typically adverse to Change!

Change is maddeningly inevitable. Change may be planned, such as a wedding. Change may be unplanned, such as a job termination. Change may be hard-earned, such as a graduation. Change may be filled with energy and hope. Change may be filled with uncertainty and doubt.

Change is an integral part of our life-fabric

Reclaiming ICT education - Why free software is a necessity in schools

My formal education in computing ended at the age of 14, about six weeks into a GCSE (The UK equivalent of the US's High School Diploma) course in ICT. I've had a lifelong passion for computers, but despite this, I opted instead to study Design and Technology and never looked back.

Fork off Mr Ballmer!

Any serious, committed user of GNU/Linux who hasn’t heard about the Microsoft/Novell deal has either been slightly dead or at the bottom of an Albanian tin mine shaft wearing a particularly sturdy pair of ear muffs.

Seriously though, the digital wires have been humming back and forth with the original story and the chain-reaction stemming from it. Is it all a storm in a teacup, an over-action? And, does it really matter to the mere, humble end-user like me? I think that it does matter.

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