Archive for the ‘Free/Open Source’ Category

LiGNU Wallpapers….

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

Yes.  I figured I’d go ahead and use GIMP to make a rudimentary wallpaper.LiGNU Wallpaper image

Click the thumbnail to open a new window to see the image in all its glory.  Let me know what you think.  If anyone wants to submit an image, please feel free to let me know.  😉

Forgotten Word of Thanks.

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

We all forget things from time to time.  It happens to the best of us and the worst of us.  I have forgotten many things in the past several months (and some may never forgive me, but that’s life attempting to teach me a few lessons), but the one important thing that I have forgotten the most as we are now in the New Year is to give credit where credit is due.

Thank You Bob Moore

Last year was the beginning of a few interesting things for me.  One of them was the initiation of the Tux500 Project, an attempt to have Tux plastered on an Indy500 car.  Bob was the guy who started the effort to raise enough money to have that logo on a race car for millions of fans watching at the track or on television and listening on the radio.  The negative backlash is not what is important at this point.  What was important was the fact that were it not for me going through every *nix distribution on DistroWatch in an attempt to communicate with the webmasters and/or developers on those sites, I never would have stumbled upon the NimbleX site, and I never would have met Bogdan, the main developer of such an interesting distribution.  I also would not have learned the hard way that not everyone appreciates PDF attachments in their e-mail.  I was able to connect to more people because of it.  Thanks goes to Bob Moore for such an inspiring idea.

Thank You Cathy Malmrose

The CEO of ZaReason is destroying stereotypes with every passing day.  Contrary to what some may believe, women can work with technology, and as far as I am concerned, more women need to be in technology.  Many of them are able to take note of even the slightest detail.  She loves the idea of sharing software with the world and allowing others to contribute to such a positive undertaking.   Thank you Cathy for all that you do and continue to do.  Also, thanks so much for taking time out of your busy day so that I could interview you.  The experience was quite wonderful and enlightening.

Thank  You Devnet

When it came to off the wall accusations against you, I was quite surprised.  You see, I know of the concept of friends over the web, but how many of them are in regular contact on the phone?  Not very many.  You and helios have not allowed other forms of conflict to hamper your friendship, and that is a trait I truly admire.  When it came to a fellow FOSS enthusiast being accused of wrong-doing, you were fair about the whole ordeal and did not allow bias to skew your judgment.  That is quite commendable.

Thank You helios

Were it not for your blog entry on changing an entire company over to a *nix platform in defiance of the Business Software Alliance, I never would have encountered you.  I was doing a story on the dark side of Microsoft when I stumbled upon that entry.  I was reading, and was quite interested.  You are one of the few people in life who has shown a great amount of patience, and I am one of the most annoying people on the face of the planet.  Thanks so much for not screaming at me ever and for being such a powerful comrade in the fight for software freedom.  There is quite a ways to go yet, but were it not for efforts such as yours, we would not be in the position we are in right now.

And Finally, Thank You Justin Breithaupt

I was doing a show on TruthNet Radio Network.  It was a live show via Skype and I was of course promoting Tux500, which I believe is how I first encountered you.  It was incredible.  I was floundering really badly.  You called in to the show and made the rest of it great.  You sold me an excellent notebook after doing hour after hour of research into what would be the best for the lowest price.  You under-charged me.  😉

Thanks everyone, and may this year be the start of all of us taking the initiative to further promote freedom from Microsoft.  Stay tuned, for I am going to announce a project that will be independent and help other projects at the same time.  🙂

NimbleX Needs You!

Friday, January 11th, 2008

For those of you who haven’t checked it out yet, go to the NimbleX site and check out this *nix distro. It’s quite interesting, but not as interesting as the Custom NimbleX creation utility on the web. It allows you to create your own custom LiveCD. In other words, you have a choice of applications and in some cases, drivers. You can also set your wallpaper and sounds (startup and shutdown). It’s a pretty cool idea if you ask me.

I will warn you however, that the Custom NimbleX page that Bogdan created consumes quite a bit of bandwidth and storage space. Therefore, he is going to need all the help he can get. The widget below will allow you to donate whatever you can to him. If you’re strapped for cash at the moment, there is another way to help out: click the “copy” tab, then the “copy” button. Then paste the code into your blog, site, MySpace, etc…. In other words, spread the word.

FOSS Blogging Has its Perils

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

Oh yeah.  This post is going to be biggie.  Not as in a big deal, but as in the size of said post.  I will not be talking of blogging alone, but blogging FOSS.  FOSS blogging can be quite fun.  Sharing the excitement of having tested another distribution of *nix (or sharing disappointment of wasting said time… depends on the experience) or sharing an opinion on the happenings of FOSS today can be an interesting experience to say the least.  However, blogging is not always without peril.

In the past, I stated how I would not promote my own writings on LXer due to being ripped to pieces over an entry that I eventually wound up deleting.  So why did I come out of my exile of sorts with a blog post that made the front page of that news site?  It was inspiration of sorts, which I will go into first.  The second part of this post will take into account Bruce Byfield’s follow up entry to his prior writing on his blog.  Shall we begin?

Flushing Fear Down the Toilet

I will be the first to admit that I do not like being told when I am wrong in any way shape or form.  Who does?  When I spewed a few choice words out of my keyboard concerning James Burgett and the trouble he was having with a state organization, even he criticized me in his own blog over my entry, and rightly so.  Not only that, but I was slammed pretty hard by another reader on LXer.  Then I read the comments concerning Justin Briethaupt’s follow-up on the situation with Newegg…

Before I go on any further, you may want to read this first.  It explains how this blog has multiple authors.  Each author will of course have a different style.  As of right now, there are two active authors: Justin and myself.

I read the comments concerning his newegg.com consumer report, and my mind began to race.  Then I read this entry from Bruce Byefield that I wholeheartedly disagreed with, which resulted in my previous entry.  I began to think to myself, “You know…. it takes courage to endure all those comments against what was posted.”  It was those two moments combined that caused me to realize what an intellectual coward I have been.  Scott Ruecker of LXer said it best concerning Justin’s newegg.com follow-up…

“In order to think critically about something and stand a chance of coming to a accurate decision or stance on an issue or issues you have to be presented with and have access to information that you agree and disagree with.”

I could not have said it better myself.  After all, Justin was trying to do something that I myself was only willing to dream up and talk about for eternity and getting reamed over and over again by the same people, and yet I was too scared to expose myself to criticism from a few readers who can have a different mood at different times?  Intellectual cowardice indeed….

So yes, I am coming out of exile of sorts concerning LXer.  I am limiting myself if I choose not to do so at this point.  The time to hide from everybody’s criticism is over.  Even if I only posted on this blog, it is one thing I will not be able to escape, because unlike other bloggers out there, I don’t axe legitimate comments (ones that are spam however are treated appropriately).   So next up is my response to Byfield’s follow-up post in response to the feedback that others have provided to his writing concerning conspiracy theorists in FOSS.  Prepare to be surprised.

Open Hand to Bruce Byfield

 “With all the people baying for my blood – some of whom, frankly, sound disingenuous in their demands for proof – the entry could easily take over my life, so in the last couple of days, I’ve withdrawn from active discussion of it.”

Bruce,  I certainly hope that you did not perceive me as wanting your hide or anything of that nature.  I was confused when you were making the broad statements in your previous blog entry.  To me, it was like lighting a barn on fire and walking away from it, thus forcing everyone else to deal with said fire.  Perhaps my humor was misplaced or of the wrong variety when I asked those two very sarcastic questions of mine earlier.  Perhaps it was nothing more than an insult.  Either way, my apologies.

Now let us take a look at another tidbit of what Byfield wrote.

“To start with, I notice that Brian Profitt’s suggestion that I was lashing out at some negative criticism I received has been seized on by some commenters as a reason to dismiss what I said.”

Hopefully, I was not one of those individuals who was perceived as having said that.  Also, in my opinion, to suggest that Profitt of linuxtoday.com was suggesting that you were lashing out goes a bit far.  Here is a sample from what Profitt wrote:

“Byfield, who I think is an excellent writer, by the way, may be projecting a little bit of his own defensiveness in this entry. I know he’s been on the receiving end of some harsh criticisms in the past, and I know from personal experience it’s pretty disheartening.”

I know the feeling to a degree myself.  I believe there is a difference between lashing out and being defensive, since lashing out implies (to me) that one is on the offensive.

That’s not to say that I don’t find people’s reactions fascinating – and more than a little intellectually distressing, since I’m an ex-university instructor who once spend his days trying to help people develop their abilities to argue coherently.

Here is another tidbit of opinion from me on the subject of debate and arguing.  There are traditional academic methods and methods that are considered unorthodox and unacceptable.  It reminds me of the beginnings of the Revolutionary War in America, in which the standard rules of war was not followed by the Minutemen who would pick off soldiers from the British army one by one while hiding behind rocks and trees.  During that time, it was considered inappropriate and uncivilized to fight in such a manner.  Suffice it to say that declaring that a position of prestige was once held is not going to sway me very much.  Read on further to understand why.

“But I think my favorite response was from a commenter who assumed the responsibility of giving me elementary advice about how to write. I’m always willing to learn, but, considering that last year I sold roughly a quarter million words about free software, now I know the spirit in which Lauren Bacall responded a few years ago on hearing that she had been voted one of the sexiest elderly women in film. ‘That will certainly pep up my career,’ she said (or something to that effect). ‘I can’t wait to tell my agent.'”

Look man, I could care less if you were on the New York Times best seller list.  When it comes to blogging about anything, including FOSS and discussion of technology in general, all the titles of prestige, all the accomplishments of the past, no matter how great, are stripped away.  At that point, the only thing left is people talking to one another (and in some cases, at another).

“No more working out of ideas publicly for me – from now on, I need to make sure that I state my assumptions clearly, and address opposing views in more detail, and not publish on certain subjects until my ideas are fully developed.”

On the other half, it would help.  However, not working out an idea publicly is something I disagree with to a degree.  While Justin Breithaupt’s consistent stream of criticism was the ignition switch for my mind, it was your situation that cranked my mind over, thus causing me to realize that I should not be so afraid of criticism from others.  Listen.  There is a way to work out ideas publicly.  In the title or at the beginning of a blog entry, indicate that it is a rough draft of sorts (or a brainstorming session).  I believe that WordPress also allows the creation of categories, so things can be tagged under something such as “brain storms” or “sand box.”  Whatever tag labels you want are up to you.   Of course what I am saying are merely suggestions as well.

I disagree with closing things down in a sense.  Why not open up a bit more instead?  To me, that is an excellent way of learning from each other, and if there is that constant nagging person who constantly annoys the dickens out of you, then you always have the option to ignore them at that point.

Overall, I would like to thank you for acknowledging a lesson that I am still learning today.  When it comes to blogging, you are never going to be without feedback, even if it comes in the form of a spam-bot or an individual who vehemently  disagrees with you.  I know that I do not know enough about you, but I still want to share my views with you.  So please, keep sharing yours with me and everyone else.

Opinion: FOSS Supporters Need to Think for Themselves.

Monday, January 7th, 2008

I’m sure everyone who is reading this is quite curious by the title of this blog post.  Don’t FOSS users already think for themselves?  After all, they use operating systems that utilize some variation of the Linux kernel.  Many utilize Firefox (or Iceweasel) and OpenOffice.org (or Abiword and Gnumeric).  Many of those who utilize free and open source software read related news sites and blogs pertaining to events, news, opinions, and more.  As of late, I have become slightly disappointed to say the least.

Half of the disappointment concerns a popular FOSS news site, and the other is an individual who believes that Microsoft bashing needs to come to a halt and that anyone who essentially disagrees will be seen as nothing more than a conspiracy theorist.  So, who is up first?

A Portion of the LXer Readership

Yes, I am somewhat disappointed by some of the LXer readership, particularly after reading this forum post here.  For starters, an assumption is made that Justin Breithaupt was angry with Newegg.  That is not the case.  He was simply asked to post any updates with interactions with the Newegg representative.  Nothing more, nothing less.  But this tidbit by remi troubled me…

We get that you’re upset, but please respect the LXer readers and calm down and try to make better distinctions between what is and is not news worthy. I’ve read the blog posts. I’ve read the comments here and there. There’s nothing news worthy about any of it. This belongs on a personal blog, not on the front page for all to see. Yeah, I’m sure you’ll rant on about free speech or something and that’s wonderful … that’s not what I’m saying. You can speak freely, but are you responsible enough to be given the power to speak at a pulpit that all the world hears *without* abusing that power by announcing your *personal* troubles to the world?

The problem is not so much the other comments, but the idea that somebody doesn’t like to see a company they like being criticized.  Alright.  I can understand that.  It’s easy to jump in when a popular distribution such as Ubuntu gets criticized because it happens to be a favorite of the one defending it against the criticism, even if said criticism was constructive, but the idea of blaming the editors for not preventing other readers from thinking for themselves goes a bit far in my view.  What happened to thinking and coming to one’s own conclusions?

Here’s an example.  Quite a while ago, I went on a big rant concerning James Burgett when he was having issues with state environmental regulations.  I let my emotions get the best of me.  Was I censored by the editors?  Oh no.  I was torn to shreds by the readers.  It caused me to change my position and rethink how I was going about with blog posting and writing a full-blown article.  Now that’s the type of thinking I’m looking for, not, “This is bad, so we shouldn’t have to see it.”  Well, don’t read it then.  It’s not that hard.  When reading FOSS-related sites/blogs, there is bound to be something that any reader is going to disagree with, and they said reader should simply get over it and move on (and of course voice their opinion, but expect a response countering what they are saying).

So here’s a few tips of my own, which are opinion based, so feel free to disagree:

  1. While it is understandable that a blog author may make assumptions based on opinions of other experts and/or other individuals, don’t counter with an assumption of your own.  This is the world wide web of course, and with such things, except with say, Skype and other programs, it is virtually impossible to interpret the true emotions of the person posting.
  2. It’s perfectly alright to disagree with a blog post or a website article.  A site and blog operate off of different principles (one being automated, and another not-so-automated).  However, don’t assume that something isn’t newsworthy.  As they say, one person’s junk is another’s treasure.  In other words, think for yourself and allow others to do the same.
  3. LXer wasn’t made for the editors: it was made for everyone who reads the site.  If something is commonly interpreted as completely garbage, and I dare say, insane, you bet there will be readers who will jump at the chance to prove the person wrong and come up with points of their own.

So in short, please don’t assume how a particular author of any article or blog post feels, and definitely allow others the opportunity to think for themselves.  The fact that editors offer the opportunity to other readers to decide for themselves what is deemed worthy of discussion is an indication that they may believe that the readers are intelligent.  Finally, don’t pretend to be speaking for an entire group.  No individual ever does.

Next Up, Bruce Byfield

Oh yes.  I put this off for quite some time, as LXer readers have commented on one of his articles in which he stated that it was time to get over Microsoft.  I read it.  I also read his blog post in which he suggests that not everyone who uses alternatives are Microsoft haters.  Such a blog post is certainly understandable.  After all, there are those who simply use the alternatives because they fit their needs better than Microsoft-based solutions.

However, when he posted his opinion on what he believed were the characteristics of conspiracy theorists, a couple of very important questions came to mind.  Bruce, what are you smoking, and more importantly, what are you snorting?  In other words, are you on drugs?

That was a bit of humor on my part, in which you stated that “Don’t expect a sense of humor, either – that’s usually lost with the self-reflection. If they call you a ‘Microsoft shill’ and you ask, ‘Where can I send an invoice?’ they’ll assume you’ve just revealed your true allegiance, not that you’re making a joke.”  Yes, so called conspiracy theorists do have a sense of humor and more than likely will know a joke when they see one, especially since they are capable of making jokes themselves.  Let us now examine a brief portion of his blog post concerning alleged conspiracy theorists:

However, you should also bear in mind that you can’t win. Try to refute a conspiracy theorist, and you simply prove to them that you’re the enemy. In the end, the best thing you can do for yourself – to say nothing of free software – is to stop responding to the conspiracy theorist as soon as you realize the type of person you’re dealing with. The time you spend dealing with a conspiracy theorist will be put to much better use writing code, persuading a friend to try free software or dealing with the real threats to the community instead of the imaginary ones.

First of all, it is not about winning.  It never is.  it is about learning from a different point of view.  If one can not read and understand a different point of view despite disagreement, then they have intellectual limitations.  Such a thing is true no matter what subject is discussed, whether it be software itself or religion.  Let us examine another tidbit from Byfield’s blog.

disregard for the rules of evidence: The wise pundit looks for evidence that would hold up in a court of law – that is, establish a point beyond a reasonable doubt. By contrast, conspiracy theorists have no such restraint. For instance, if a company has hired a former Microsoft executive, that is proof that the company is controlled by Microsoft. Never mind that Microsoft is so large that any North American company has a good chance of hiring a former Microsoft executive – the one tenuous connection is enough to establish proof for a conspiracy theorist. Key phrase: “Can it be coincidence that . . . ?” (Sometimes, yes)

Yes, Microsoft is a large corporation, which also has plenty of influence on U.S. politics, or have you forgotten about thatHow about the influence on world leaders?  Yes, the President of China visited Bill Gates himself way before giving George W. Bush the time of day.  Think about that for a moment.  Of course, other interesting tidbits can be picked up in an article that I wrote myself, but then again, I am quite certain that you know most of what I cite.  Additionally, I wrote about an individual who once worked for Microsoft.  In order to avoid retaliation of any sort, they chose not to have their name revealed.  So I suppose that not all former Microsoft employees are bent on “world domination.”

Of course when a group of concerned individuals begin voicing their views on Novell and Microsoft, can one blame them, especially after the other things that the Redmond Giant has pulled in the past?  I think “The Beez” had it right on this one. He said that, “If you do not win a discussion you may be defeated but that doesn’t mean you have to be a loser.”  Right on.

Who else has added to the discussion?  Why the Boycott Novell group of course.   They have also countered Byfield with this post as well.  Brian Proffitt of LinuxToday has also added a balanced perspective to this debate.  So what’s the point of all of this?

Returning to Byfield’s blog, I noticed a comment from Patrick, a reader of the blog.  He said, “Well, put your cards on the table. Where is the proof of your contentions. Who is showing the signs you are talking about? A few url’s please.”  It’s fair enough to ask for evidence as one reader of this blog has asked Justin to do in a prior post.  What does Byefield give to Patrick?  Here is his response to Patrick quoted below:

“I said at the start of the blog entry that I wasn’t going to specify who I was talking about. I won’t give them the attention, and I don’t have the time or inclination to start what seems likely to be an endless discussion.

And if that’s not good enough for you — well, you are reading a blog entry. It’s an expression of opinion.

However, if anyone else wants to suggest a candidate for discussion, please go ahead. But I’m not going to participate in the discussion much.”

So Bruce.  Why broach the subject in the first place if you are not going to offer information to support your claim.  I would certainly like to know who has been wild eyed lately, so that I can potentially learn from their mistakes.  However, you have opted not to do so.  You lit a fire and walked away.  This is but a blog, but I myself tend to link to plenty of other resources that support what I am saying.  Those resources also link to yet more resources that may have views that I do not agree with.  That is fine with me.

Conclusion

The whole point of this blog post is to argue one thing: think for yourself.  Even if it means you will read something you do not like.

To the readers of LXer, please keep thinking for yourselves.  If you want to shred what I wrote to pieces, feel free to do so.  In fact, I beg you to do so as I will learn from the end result of it.

Users of FOSS need to think for themselves, rather than be led by one person or another on the Internet.  That especially includes myself, the author of this blog post.  It is not about the freebie part of FOSS that is the most rewarding: it is the potential of raising the level of the mind.