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February 2009 Archives

I miss the olden days when I was cutting-edge. I was the first kid on my block to get into computers, and then I was the first Linux geek. I was the first to have my own domain name and personal Web site, and I didn't even use blink tags, for I was like hip and too smart. For many years I was the only woman in my little corner of geek-land. Now I'm a grumpy old fossil who doesn't own a cell phone or any other portable electronic leashes, and to me this strange new world of social networking is one gigantic overdose of Too Much Information.

I've been using Kubuntu and Ubuntu the past couple of years on my main workstation and laptop, and they've been OK. I like the stripped-down customized menus, the energy and buzz, the community, and their success in marketing. "A rising tide lifts all boats", and I think Canonical has done a great job at raising the visibility of Linux.

But my first Linux love was Debian, and with the release of Lenny I have gone back.

Getting Girls Into Tech

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The number of women entering STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers is declining. There are programs at the college and professional levels that try to attract women and racial minorities into these fields, but they're not all that successful. I think it's because college is too late. What sort of future do you want for your own girls-- a wide-open future full of possibilities? Or more of the same old "you can't do that"?

Thanks to this press release that appeared on Linux Today a few weeks ago, V.i. Labs Announces CodeArmor Intelligence Support for Linux Platforms, I had a "Oh no, the MAFIAA is coming to Linux" moment:




"V.i. Laboratories, Inc. ("V.i. Labs"),a provider of software protection solutions for securing high-value and mission-critical applications, today announced that its CodeArmor Intelligence solution now supports Linux platforms. Built upon V.i. Labs' software protection technology, CodeArmor Intelligence enables independent software vendors (ISVs) to gather intelligence on pirated use of their software and recover revenue lost to unlicensed use."




My first reaction was "Ick! No way!" because the release uses inaccurate buzzwords like "intellectual property" and "piracy", and it sounds like spyware. Yay, spyware for Linux! But something about it piqued my curiosity, so I did a little digging.



And too stupid or dishonest to report Microsoft Windows as the defective disaster that it is. If it were any other type of product it would have banned from every country in the world long ago. The BBC reports the latest Windows Conficker worm outbreak in typical "oh no big deal" fashion, does not identify this as a Windows worm until several paragraphs into the article, quotes industry security vendors as though they were actually worth listening to and not useless weasels, and then blames end users:

"The worm is spreading through low security networks, memory sticks, and PCs without current security updates...

""Microsoft did a good job of updating people's home computers, but the virus continues to infect business who have ignored the patch update...

""Of course, the real problem is that people haven't patched their software," he added.

"With so much turmoil today, the good news is that there are more areas of opportunity for new products and services than ever. The even better news is that most of these opportunities won't attract venture capital."

why can't linux do this?

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Real Geeks do Peer Clouding

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"The cloud" is just a new buzzword for an old concept, hosted services. While a number of grumpy old geekbeards swear they will never embrace "the cloud" because they do not trust their data in other hands, it's already happening. Google Mail, for whatever reason, is cool in ways that Hotmail and Yahoo mail never were. Google Apps are also cool. Inexpensive hosting services have been a staple of the do-it-yourself geek since forever.

So, does refusing "the cloud" mean that the hardcore refusenik is condemned to a life of isolation? No, because there is a third alternative, and that is the Peer Cloud.

Bruce Byfield wrote a nice review of NixOS, which is "designed as a test of Nix, a new package manager designed to overcome key problems with existing package managers." Debian's Aptitude, Red Hat's Yum, Mandrake's URPMI are all considerably easier that building from sources, or managing package dependencies manually.

Modern Linux distributions come with update notifiers that tell you when updates are available. Which is all good and easy, but they're still just variations on the same theme and aren't all that different from each other. NixOS, on the other hand, demonstrates a radically different approach.