Book Review: Annie's CS101 by Dmitry Zinoviev

The full title is "Annie's CS101, A Charting Approach to Computer Programming." This is an interesting approach to an introductory programming course -- the target is for younger learners (although not children), and it focuses on the thought process behind conceiving of a programming problem and solving it. The language of instruction is Python, although this is not really a Python book.

Why everybody should use GNU/Linux, and how?

GNU/Linux is getting bigger and bigger. Microsoft’s recent patent threats are definitely helping GNU/Linux to gain mainstream popularity. Unfortunately, new users are often confused by why they should actually use GNU/Linux, and how to go about the transition. Hopefully, this article will fill that gap!

Why should everybody use GNU/Linux?

Getting help with free software

So, you’ve made the move to free software. As you’ve no doubt noticed, there are quite a few differences between the proprietary software you’ve been used to and free software: the interfaces are different; it costs a heck of a lot less; and if you’re using one of the community supported distributions there’s no premium rate helpline! These all seem like benefits to me, but what happens when you have a problem?

Tips for transitioning to a GNU/Linux distribution

So, you've made the choice to try a GNU/Linux distribution or distro and have completed the installation. But now what? While doing some spring cleaning on my desk, I came across the notes from my last distro installation. Here are the key tips that made my last transition from Windows to GNU/Linux easier.

Picante shell: pipes

Spicy food should cause chemical burns, or spontaneous human combustion. Your mouth should feel as if it’s tangled with an angry badger. Capillaries in your nose should burst. Your gut should sue for punitive damages. If not, your food just isn’t spicy enough.

At least, that’s how I feel. So, when I say things like, “Here, try some of these mild command-line recipes; they’re really quite tasty”, you might keep that in mind. One man’s “mild” is another man’s, “I think you’ve poisoned me”.

If you are ready, settle in, dish up, and keep a nice lager handy. You’ll probably need it before we’re done.

Small businesses are ripe for free software

Once upon a time, in a career far, far away, I worked for a very small business. I was tasked with upgrading the OLD PC’s. The budget was so miniscule that literally every penny counted. In the effort to get the best bang for the buck, I stumbled across these programs called free software. “Whoo-hoo, they’re free” I thought. Little knowing how that introduction to free software applications would change my life, I quickly ordered the PC’s without MS Office, downloaded instead and saved a few hundred dollars per system.

Fast forward to the future. With much more free software under my belt, I am even more convinced small businesses are a ripe field for free software applications.

Not everyone is a geek. So why do we act like they are?

Not everyone is a Michael Schumacher, but a lot of people have cars. Not everyone is a Robert Capa, but many of us have cameras. The analogy can apply to computers. Not everyone is a geek, but many people have computers. The diversity of computing skill reflects the diversity in the the real world.

Seems like I’m stating the obvious, until you look at how people at various computing skill levels respond to others.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink

Not long ago, a family member's company discovered their former IT consultant had dealt with them dishonestly. The office had paid him for a number of MS Office licenses, but later found out that only one licensed version been installed on all their systems. Since this was a small business with a limited budget, I suggested they try OpenOffice. But, in the end, they chose to purchase MS Office again.

So I asked, “Why?” The answers were revealing into potential barriers from individuals when recommending FOSS.

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.

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

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