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Interview with Lars J. Nilsson, author of free online gambling software

Not long ago, after giving a speech about free software I was asked by an audience member whether the free software community had come up with free (as in freedom) gambling software. I answered "no", and... I was wrong. A bit of research told me that there us such a platform: that's Cubeia's Firebase. Yes, it's fully free software/open source, the real deal. I couldn't resist: I asked its founder (and software engineer) for an interview. So, here we go!

TM: Hello Lars. Can you please introduce yourself?

Help create a new free standard, by funding a great Kickstarter project!

As part of a project to create a non-DRM fixed media standard for high-definition video releases, Terry Hancock has launched a Kickstarter campaign which will produce two Lib-Ray video titles and player software to support them ("Sita Sings the Blues" and the "Blender Open Movie Collection").

More details can be found on the Kickstarter page.

Write a simple launcher using Zenity

Nowadays, we mostly interact with our computers using a Graphical User Interface. The operating system as a whole uses several elements of the GUI to make the user experience more human-like. Can users get to unleash some of the GUI's power? The answer is yes: welcome to Zenity, a GTK+ application that works in GNU/Linux, BSD and Windows. In this short article I will show you how to create a simple script that interacts with the user using the GUI.

Basics of mapping with KML

Two of the most useful free (as in beer) software applications from Google are Google Earth, which runs on your computer, and Google Maps, which runs as a Web service. You can use both Google Earth and Google Maps to plot your own points, lines or shapes on an interactive map. You can also annotate these things with informative details. Unfortunately, the user interfaces provided by Google for doing this kind of DIY mapping are... well, clunky. They're slow, especially if you have a lot of items to add to a map.

DRM books need to disappear. NOW. (Or, my horrific experience with

DRM turned a 10 minute purchase into a 2 and a half nightmare (and counting). I wanted to buy a book: I ended up in a journey which made it dead clear that in a sane world, there is absolutely no space for DRM-protected contents. The only real warning I have about this article is that it may make you feel sick.

Nagios Vs. Icinga: the real story of one of the most heated forks in free software

In March 14, 1999 Ethan Galstad released the first version of Nagios. Then, nearly exactly 10 years later (May 2009), Icinga (a fork of Nagios) was born. What happened there? Why a fork? In this article, I will shed some light about what made the Icinga developers decide to fork (although they still send patches to Nagios). In this article, I will talk to both Ethan Galstad himself, and Michael Lübben (one of the founding Icinga team members and Nagios addon developer). I will quote Michael and Ethan in the article. You get to read their points of view here.

Programming effective reminders in GNU/Linux

There are some nice sticky-note applications for Linux, and they're good places to write down reminders, like Ring Fred or Pick up a litre of milk.

Unfortunately, sticky-notes are no help to me at all. I'm often forgetful, and I'm more than likely to shut down my computer without checking to see if I've written a note to myself. To get around this problem, I wrote a couple of very simple scripts, each launched by an icon on my Xfce panel.

Find duplicates and originals in a spreadsheet using the Unix command line

Sometimes, you need to find and group together the replicated records in a spreadsheet. There are several different ways to identify duplicated records (see this tutorial for a good one), but what I wanted was something a bit more fancy. I wanted not just the duplicates, but each original record as well. Furthermore, I wanted any replicates (original + duplicates) grouped together in neat little sets in the spreadsheet.

Here is how I did it using the Unix command line.

Measures on the command line

In an earlier article I promised to demonstrate more 'magic words' for the command line. All you do is open a terminal, enter the magic word, hit Enter – and cool things happen! The magic word this time is units. The GNU Units program isn't installed by default in most Linux distributions, so you'll probably need to install it from your distribution's repository. Also, until you get to know GNU Units, I recommend that you enter units -v (v for verbose) on the command line. This makes the output a little more easy to understand.

The GNU Units program converts quantities from one unit system to another.

Easy File Sync with Bitpocket

Need to keep files and documents in sync across multiple Linux machines? Bitpocket provides a no-nonsense solution to the problem. This tiny shell script uses the excellent rsync software to perform the syncing jiggery-pockery. This means that you can have one machine acting as the "main repository", and then have several "client" machines which will be able to sync with it. (This obviously means that all client machines will have the same files). Here is how you configure it.

The (bumpy) road to Free Software SaaS

Free Software advocates quickly demonize SaaS as the ultimate way to take your freedom away. A lot of them dismiss the advantages of having data online highlighting (and rightly so) the fact that you may be locked out of your own data anytime. My question is: what if SaaS is in fact the way to go, the future, and just need to hurry the hell up and make sure that it's easy to install, and use, the great SaaS available under a free software license?

Is the radioactive H.264 going to poisoning us, and the web, until 2028?

Whether we like it or not, H.264 is "the" de-facto standard on the Internet. Every time you visit Youtube, you are watching a video encoded using the H.264 standard. The video quality is great, the compression is astonishing. And so is the price. H.264 is subject to a huge number of software patents. You need to pay hefty licensing fees if you want to create H.264 files today. We, the users, are not feeling this as we are not paying a cent. However, the freedomes allowed by this format are limited, and vague at best: here is why.

Generation of one-page, domain-oriented sites using PHP

A web site is a set of pages on a specific subject. It normally has sub-pages, and normally valuable information about the topic it covers. What if a web site is dedicated to a property? Could you create a web site focused on a specific property, and also named after the property? (something like How would you create such a think based on free software? (At the end of this article, you should be able to create a complete template system and a site containing the full list of sites, for property sites.

Writing native Android applications with Javascript? Not yet.

The number of people using Linux (and I mean Linux the kernel) and free software in general has exploded in the last 2 years thanks to Android and Google. Even if you want to discard phones and only count the tablets (which are starting to get very close to laptops in terms of what you can do with them), the number of new users is huge. And yet, we are all hostage of a choice -- a bad choice, in my humble opinion -- that Google made: Java.

Keep an Eye on Your GNU/Linux System with Glances

Looking for a no-nonsense command-line tool for monitoring your GNU/Linux system? Glances might be right up your alley. This neat little Python-based utility provides an overview of all key system aspects, including CPU load, disk storage, memory consumption, and network activity. More importantly, the utility does a good job of presenting monitored data in an easy-to-follow manner.

Build your own special characters chooser

I often need to insert a special character in my writing, like the degree symbol or the Greek letter mu. Although LibreOffice Writer, my favourite writing application, helps me do this with an Insert special character function, it offers too many choices. There are only a few special characters I use regularly, and they're scattered across several font subsets.


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