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October 2008 Archives

You might the recall the ongoing uproar over the BBC's dissing of its non-Windows-using viewers, its defective math on how many Linux users were among their viewers, the nasty DRM-encumbered iPlayer, and their general bad attitude about being willing to buy into DRM-restricted streaming media, even though they are a publicly-funded broadcaster.

The saga is still unfolding, and DRM technologies are still stuck on being invasive, intrusive, shoddy, and ineffective. Who designs these things? Are the bright developers being foiled by PHBs? Or are the smart developers all busy doing other things, and the only ones left are the janitors? Who are plenty intelligent, but not hip to coding. Or maybe they are hip to coding and making DRM sucky on purpose. At any rate it is lame that in this glorious year 2008 of the 21st century, we are still hearing the same stupid excuses about why non-Windows users don't matter.

But thanks to FOSS (as always) there is a silver ray in the gloom-- Ubuntu 8.10 includes the Totem BBC Plugin:

Mark Shuttleworth and Matt Zimmerman of Canonical, the parent company of Ubuntu Linux, hosted a telephone press conference this morning. The official occasion is the upcoming release of Ubuntu 8.10, Intrepid Ibex. Mark and Matt gave a lot of good release information, but the main impression I came away with was the breadth and depth of Canonical's vision for Linux. Mr. Shuttleworth seems to see Linux as a launch pad for all kinds of useful tools and activities. Not a prefab path to riches (all that free code!), nor the biggest free candy store on the planet (free as in freeloader, mine all mine!), nor even a way to lock in the suckers and then make them pay and pay and pay, but a platform for building cool productive tools for everyone.

I've been collecting these for some time. I can't promise they are attributed correctly--you know how things get morphed as they roam the Internet--so feel free to let me know about any mistakes.

A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history - with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila. -Mitch Ratcliffe

We will never become a truly paper-less society until the Palm Pilot folks come out with WipeMe 1.0. --Andy Pierson

Ken Starks is one of my favorite people. He is the prime mover behind Komputers 4 Kids, Tux500, and Lindependence 2008. He makes his living selling and supporting Linux systems to businesses and home users. You won't find Ken wasting his days infesting online forums and chats with windy opinionating and beating up noobs-- Ken is a man of action with a direct approach to solving problems.

So naturally it was Ken who was the fly in the soup at the big important Linux Foundation-sponsored IBM-hosted Second Annual Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit last April 8-10 in Austin, TX. Ken wrote about it, and even included a video of his stellar performance at the event. Ken is a well-spoken polite man, but that doesn't prevent him from asking the hard questions that nobody else wants to ask at these industry lovefests, which increasingly appear to be more about newer and more innovative ways to exploit Linux and FOSS. Ken stepped up to the mike at the panel discussion and asked a simple question that visibly discomfited the panel: "My customers can turn on their cable television and in 30 minutes watch five Microsoft Windows commercials. When are IBM and HP going to put the same things on? When are my customers going to be able to see about Linux? Television and radio legitimize the product."

The responses, in my occasionally-humble opinion, were worthy of Redmond itself.

Some months ago I wrote What's on Your Bookshelf?. Readers chimed in with their own favorite reads: the Iliad, Odyssey, Art of War, the original un-sanitized Grimm's Fairy Tales, Kipling, Divine Comedy, and other cool books. I was pleased to see so much fiction mentioned, as a lot of my friends only read what they have to for work. Which seems like a great way to fossilize the brain and nurture a sour outlook on life.

I had an interesting problem recently. I have my little computer lab way down at the far end of the house in a small bedroom. Way down at the opposite end of the house (it's a long house) is my music room. The man who built the house intended it to be a dining room, but I can eat food anywhere. I don't need a special spot for that. I do need a room for musical instruments and a practice room, so there it is.

I put a desktop PC in there because it's also going to be my recording studio. The problem was getting on my local network-- I didn't want to run 75 feet of cable, and it was going to take a few days to order a wireless NIC. So I came up with a quick slick hack to get connected using a wireless laptop.

In part 1 of our little series, True IT Tales of Horror: Dave's Not Here we were introduced to the Precious Progeny Public School District, and learned that the combined efforts of IT staff, a teacher, and multiple administrative assistants are almost adequate to the task of ordering a laptop battery. Today we return to PPPSD to try to liberate the school district from the tyrannical grip of its crazed wax custodians.

What's So Evil About Mono?

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The Mono project has been branded as evil, a sellout, a product of a Microsoft-loving lackey from its inception. I think this is a misguided attitude that is rooted in a mistrust of the power of FOSS, and especially the GPL.

Because of Linux I hardly have to lift a finger anymore, and because of it my health is suffering. I rarely hop up and down in a fit of temper, I don't have to drive to the store to buy software, and I don't get the aerobic benefits of spending hours on the phone with tech support, breathing hard and accelerating my heartbeat. I rarely make site visits anymore. I don't even leave my chair, because I log in and do fixes and admin chores from home. I even have my remaining tiny herd of Windows users (close relatives only who bribe me handsomely) set up with VNC over SSH, Cygwin/SSH, or rdesktop. I alone have the passwords, mwahaha.