Archive for May, 2007

Speaking of Legalities…

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

A brilliant poster has pointed me towards this little gem.  This ought to be interesting indeed!

Well, check it out, and oh, Mr. Ballmer… Please…

Sue me first!

So, What is the Hacker Ethic Anyway?

Monday, May 28th, 2007

I figured I would take this time out to help inform others what this ethic is.  An error correction from the previous entry though: Information being free is important, but not the very first part of the Hacker Ethic.  Let’s take a look at it:

Access to computers — and anything which might teach you something about the way the world works — should be unlimited and total. Always yield to the Hands-on Imperative!

I forgot about that part, and it is the first and one of the most important parts of this code of ethics that I have found to be quite fascinating.  The Hands-on Imperative, as coined into popular culture by Steven Levy and defined by others is really quite simple: hands-on.  What use is analyzing something all day long if nothing is done with it.  If something can be improved, do it!  If something can be tweaked, go for it!  This part of the hacker ethic works hand in hand with the next part.

 All information should be free.

Information is power, thus no one authority should wield control over it (think about the disaster that would create).  That means that every man, woman, and child (and penguin) should be allowed to read this information, examine it, and through the Hands-on Imperative, tweak and improve the information by adding to it or correcting any errors.  In programming at MIT back in the 1950’s, 60’s, and even 70’s, one of the most common problems involved in computer technology was the fact that RAM (Random Access Memory) was rather limited, so the less code a program had, the better.  Through the Hands-on Imperative and the idea that all information should be free, code bumming was born: the act of causing a program to complete the same task using less lines of code than the last programmer.  It was a competition throughout the ninth floor of Tech Square.  The next part of the hacker ethic is a big one, and one that causes a lot stomachs to churn.  I’ll explain in a moment.

Mistrust authority — promote decentralization.

Take a look at companies like Microsoft.  The organization is quite complex, which is one of their problems to begin with.  When a group or a company becomes too complex in size and scope, it becomes more difficult to get things done.  This is why the proliferation of Free and Open Source Software is becoming more popular as well.  When there is essentially no central authority saying what can be pursued and what can not and must not be pursued, then it becomes a simple task of choosing a task, working on that task and completing that task.  One example would be the individual who wrote drivers for 235 USB webcams for Linux (GNU/Linux in some circles… prepare for a future entry explaining why some people refer to it as such).  Sure, there are the main kernel developers who can refuse to cooperate with you, but that doesn’t stop individuals from compiling their own custom kernel.

 Hackers should be judged by their hacking, not bogus criteria such as degrees, age, race, or position.

A gender neutral statement if I ever saw one.  It was once commented that I was 24 in this blog by another poster.  Problem is, under this part of the Hacker Ethic, I was judged by bogus criteria.  Age, race (there is only one as far as I’m concerned: human!), and others…  Everything can look pretty on a piece of paper, and it’s easy to puff yourself up to look like a great person who would more than qualify as this or that.  However, to demonstrate that you have actually done something creative computer-wise is of more value to the Hacker Community as a whole than to simply claim you can with a shiny new degree (that says, “Please hire me!  I’m employable!”), your own looks, and position on the social totem pole.

 You can create art and beauty on a computer.

In the past, coding was considered an art, and to a very great extent is still considered today to be as such as opposed to an exact science.  This is what caused the good ole’ Ninth Floor Tech Square MIT hackers to disdain authority: not being allowed to touch a computer themselves.  They saw themselves changing the world through coding software, and some of the feats were astounding.  Playing sound through a computer was proven to be quite possible back then.  Today, art and beauty on a computer has taken on a different meaning of sorts, but the fact that people out there can in fact create marvelous things on a computer only encourages others to do themselves.  This brings us to the final part of the Hacker Ethic.

 Computers can change your life for the better.

Very true.  As an example, I bring your attention to what has happened in my life.  It’s been one constant theme: I’m useless, no matter what I do.  That’s how I felt throughout my whole life.  I was made fun of throughout grade school.  I tried fitting in, and I was trying too hard…  However, once I began to actually understand how to use a computer, I began to feel liberated.  Once I learned how to use Free and Open Source Software, I started to truly feel free, and was thus inspired to start this online magazine.  For once, I felt like I was of some use to the people of this world.  There are people diagnosed (misdiagnosed?) with ADHD, yet stick ’em in front of a computer instead of doping them up on medication, and look at what they can accomplish.  It’s truly magnificent.  I know somebody who is now troubleshooting/repairing computers who had problems with high school.  They’ve come a long way, and are probably about to go into a lucrative career after finishing secondary education.  Without computers, he would have either wound up in an institution or dead from a drug reaction, suicide, whatever…

To conclude this post, I know there may be people wondering, why I am linking to a person who doesn’t appear to care for me at all?  Simple: I am giving them credit where it is due.  I did look at their portfolio and they do seem to have quite a bit of talent with graphics.  Also, I know there are others out there who would rather see Pete do some more tutorials and helping people improve their computer skills.  I know I would.  He does have talent.  That much is clear.  I only hope he keeps utilizing it for great things and not letting it go to waste.

Of Insecurity Complexes and Other Great Adventures.

Monday, May 28th, 2007

First of all, I would like to thank Tom Chastain of Chastain Motorsports for giving Bob Moore the time of day. I truly am sorry that Roberto Moreno was not able to make it past the first turn in this year’s Indy500. This may explain why I was feeling drained today. I also owe Mr. Chastain, Mr. Gregoire, and Chastain Motorsports itself a huge apology as well. I know it makes it no sense, but please allow me to explain.

I know all of you must have been excited about the story of an underdog and how it could overcome all odds and adversity. However, what all of you saw was something different: much different. Some disagreed with the proposition of marketing Linux in the Indy500. Questions were asked, and accusations were thrown. Even as a human being was injured, Bob Moore, Ken Starks, and anybody else promoting Tux500 were blamed for the person’s injury, thus proving that they indeed were a heartless individual. I read their accusatory post in their own blog, and I became upset. I was even crying for a brief period of time, because I know what it’s like to be brought to the hospital. The difference: one of my bones actually broke, while Stephan’s did not. He was very fortunate, and I am glad he is okay. Stephan Gregoire, I offer you my most humble apology for the actions of an intellectual coward who hides behind their own blog and refuses to be held accountable for their own words. They do not think before posting, let alone typing.

Mr. Moreno,

I thank you for stepping up to the plate. I’m sorry that it did not work out for you. I truly am. Not only did you qualify once, you were so skilled, you did it twice. How nice. A highly regarded veteran as yourself deserves the proper recognition, and hopefully, it will come. May your next Indy500 net you the checkered flag!

With that said, something needs to be straightened out here and now. The last time I checked, the developers of many of the distros out there have not once apologized about Linux once! There is no insecurity complex here. If anything, it is a certain bald CEO of a certain corporation in Redmond, Washington who is crying at the feet of millions, and begging, “Please love me!” If one were to record the man saying that lots of companies had plenty of undisclosed balance sheet liabilities, then slowly play it backwards, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if somewhere in the recording, playing backwards, were the words, “Please love me!”*

There all sorts of ways to market Free and Open Source Software, and having a penguin plastered on the front of a racecar was only one of them. Sure, Dell decided to place Ubuntu onto some of their machines. However, it took thousands upon thousands of people to encourage the large computer OEM to even consider doing such a thing. It took a contribution of these people, though it was not their money: it was their time! Yes, there are large corporations adopting Linux, and such a thing is being utilized everyday by everybody without them knowing it. However, why limit such a choice to a select few? Why do so? It makes no sense.

Penguin Pete's commentary snippet....
From Penguin Pete’s Own Blog (After he complained, and then unbanned me, I thought about it, and well, I should have at least said where this snippet came from.  Either that, or the reader could have moused over the pic for a tooltip saying where it came from… oh well).

What sets me apart from others who appear to have high ideals is that I believe in the hacker ethic, especially the first part of said ethic:

Information is power. Therefore, all information should be free!

After reading Steven Levy’s wonderful book, Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, I was thrilled, and fascinated that so called misfits helped to launch one of the greatest industries of all time. It was that very ethic that caused one Richard Stallman to begin work on the GNU (GNU’s Not Unix) Project. Were it not for said project, Linus Torvalds and others would not have had a complete Operating System environment. Imagine: people hacking code day and night. I wish I had the patience, let alone the talent to attempt such a thing. The reason why I am mentioning Stallman and Torvalds is that I believe that some of us are forgetting where all of this started. I’m not talking about the people, but the main ethic that was followed: All information should be free!

That means that everybody should have access to that information. If somebody does not know that it exists, then why not let them know it does and go from there? This is precisely what happened with Killtown, a notorious and controversial blogger. You see, he recently ditched Windows. He is now running Ubuntu. I first told him about Ubuntu last year when I was in the midst of running it and finding myself liking it (this was before I encountered PCLinuxOS…). Apparently, he saw the Ubuntu logo plastered on a billboard, and combined with me encouraging people to migrate to Ubuntu, the seeds were thus planted, and one year later, he has kissed buggy Movie Maker 2 goodbye, along with spyware, trojans, viruses….. you get the idea. The whole point is that I’m not some Federalist who believes that only certain types of people are qualified to do certain types of things. Ask yourself why the Federalist party didn’t last long in American politics, and I’m sure the answer shouldn’t be that elusive, even to those outside America itself.
I refuse to believe for a second that FOSS is only for a few. It is for everyone, which is why I like the LIFE idea (Linux Is For Everyone). I like the idea that people are out there trying to show others all the neat things they can do to a computer without dumping an extra $300-$400 USD to be considered “legal.” I also like the idea of helping children in Austin, Texas get a computer so that they can do the assignments in classes that require a computer at home along with other projects. It warms my heart that young and old alike are shown that they do have a choice and that they are capable of using a computer. People are spreading information out to the masses. People are needed, big and small for anything to succeed in the end. Bill Gosper, a well known hacker who attended MIT back in the 1960’s, eventually came to that realization after watching a rocket lift off into space for the first time. He realized that when a group of people made up their mind at last, they got things done!
What happens from here on out should be very interesting. I am looking forward to it, and no matter what the odds, I will always remember the hacker ethic and how it has ultimately shaped the foundation of Free and Open Source Software. Thank you Richard Stallman. Your magnificent vision will be remembered for several generations to come.

*This is homage to those who used to play old music albums backwards. You should try it yourself, and don’t just stick to music albums: try recording actual people, saving the recordings, and playing them backwards. It’s really easy: Just use Audacity, as it has a reverse effect. It’s quite amusing, especially if you record politicians on TV doing interviews. 😉

UPDATE: Well, it appears to have been Penguin Pete, so…. Okay.  Fine.  It did come from his blog after all (and take note: if you put your mouse cursor over it and wait a few seconds, a tooltip pops up that indicates that it came from that site…. that’s been that way since I posted this entry).

Thank You On-Disk!

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

In the mail recently, I got my copies of KateOS 3.2, Ark Linux, and Vector Linux SOHO (Small Office/Home Office).  I’m still waiting on PCLinuxOS 2007 and Wolvix, so we’ll see!

I’m trying to decide which one to take a look at next.  Let me know what you think everyone.  🙂

P.S. : It’s okay to post comments now.  I’ve been checking for them every day, and I apologize about the ones not added earlier.  It took me a while (too long) to realize that the comments had to be approved (thanks for letting me know that 1and1…. lol).

That SICK SON OF A…………!

Friday, May 18th, 2007

A person was hurt trying to qualify for the Indy500, and what happens?  Other people are blamed instead.  It sickens me to death to read what an intellectual coward, who hides behind their blog, has written.  Just go to Penguin Pete’s blog posts and read them for yourself.  Allow me to address Pete here and now:

Did it ever occur to you that a person became injured?  Do you even care?!  Were it not for the fact that I am as mature as I am today, I would have broken down and cried, because an honest, decent, human-being WAS HURT!

Do you always hide behind a computer screen?  Do you ever deal with the real world?!  ANSWER ME!  I DON’T HIDE BEHIND MY OWN BLOG!  I LEAVE AN E-MAIL ADDRESS ON MY SITE IN MANY INSTANCES!

Here it is!

I’m serious son!  I really want to know what’s going on inside your head.  Are you so detached from the world that instead of understanding that person was injured and barely escaped death itself, you want to blame people who want to market?  You’re pointing fingers at the wrong people.  I’ve seen that altered photo of Dick Cheney.  I’m assuming you’re against the War in Iraq, right?  If so, is it because our men and women are dying?  If that’s the case, why can’t you show the same compassion for an individual who almost died?  Why must you continue to point fingers and lay the blame on other people?

I really do want to talk to you, and if you hate e-mail…

Yahoo IM: th2techdude

AIM: arakned2000

(I run GAIM, now known as pidgon)

Hey bud!  I’d even (privately) give you my #, and we could hash it out over the phone.

I’m not hiding.  I’m right here.

Penguin Pete: I’m calling you out!

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

Come over here and argue your case.  I won’t delete your comments.  I’ll allow you to look me in the eye so to speak.

So bring it on my man, or are you scared?  I’ll understand if you are….

Deranged Elitism? Stay Tuned!

Monday, May 14th, 2007

An individual named Penguin Pete has apparently posted in his blog about potential violations of the Linux trademark.  He has said the following pertaining to anybody commenting:

“Once again, may we have the objective, non-biased opinions of those who would know more about the legal ins and outs of this? Meaning, not hear from another troll with his/her hand in the Tux500 till trying to obfuscate the conversation with more lies?”

All I have to say is stay tuned….

To the Naysayers: What Have you Done Lately?

Monday, May 14th, 2007

I have met a community that appears to be quite fickle. The community that I am mentioning is the same one that will go on and on over and over again about how Linux is superior to Microsoft Windows and how it allows for user freedom. I do agree with such a stance, hence this publication, website, forum, and net radio show. I like the idea of having an office suite that is quite functional and laid back concerning licensing. However, I have seen a conflict in this community.

The virtues of freedom and the ability to see and modify the source code are preached on a fairly consistent basis. People are encouraged on a one on one basis to convert to a distribution of Linux. Some may even write useful software for everyone to utilize, and in some cases, improve the software. With a large body of developers across the planet, a monolithic corporation in Redmond Washington could very well be brought to its knees, yet it doesn’t happen. Why is this?

Vista has obviously flopped in a major way, so now would obviously be a good time to capitalize, right? That’s what Bob Moore and Ken Starks are doing with the TUX500 Project, which is the main point of this discussion. While websites such as BadVista are wonderful when pointing out the flaws and issues pertaining to Vista and attempting to steer people towards free alternatives, the numbers are not there. What do I mean?

In order to get people to ultimately shun Microsoft, they have to know that they do have a choice, and that it is viable. Freedom is preached to the choir all day long, but is it true freedom, or is it limited? I have tried to bring awareness of the TUX500 Project to the websites hosting many of the distros of Linux. One response was helpful and pointed out a typing error made at the bottom of the page. Another said they’d love to help, but they don’t use PayPal. Then, there’s the final response:

Stop spamming.

I tried to tell them that it was not meant to be spam, but was told about the “definition” of spam. The individual erroneously assumed that I was mass mailing people. Problem: I went to each site listed on distrowatch and contacted anybody available on the site whenever an easy point of contact was possible. Next, I was told that it was not proper netiquette to add attachments to my e-mails. Perhaps being blunt in a response would go against netiquette as well?

Then there are the comments that Ken and I have been on the receiving of that would cause any outsider to wonder what the point of trying something different is if no one can even get along long enough to get things done. I was accused of ethnocentrism (i.e. thinking that as an American, I thought the rest of the world did not exist), which was the most ridiculous thing I have ever read. Microsoft has billions of dollars, hence they have an abundance of influence, so by keeping them at bay here in the U.S., they are thus prevented from expanding across the globe and locking in more people, especially since their three dollar offer wouldn’t be accepted by a good number of third world countries.

Others have said towards Ken that we can not do something like TUX500 because it’s going commercial and selling out is a bad thing. Is it that commercialism, or dare I say, capitalism that is truly the problem, or is it simply that those who say such things are not truly confident enough in their choice of Operating Systems and applications? In other words, are they afraid of success? Are they so afraid that they would no longer be seen as rebels that they would rather have setbacks than success? Make no mistake. I’ve spoken once to an individual who said that if Linux became too popular, they would switch to another system entirely, not just another distribution.

Another way of saying it was that this person was an elitist of sorts. That’s right. An elitist. Those who think they are better than anyone else, and heaven help anybody who threatens their superiority. This messed up feeling of superiority, this backward feeling of elitism, is what’s damaging the Free and Open Source Software communities, and I’m not talking about the developers: I’m talking about the users who make constant requests for fixes, changes, and more. I’m talking about the ones who have no problem using the software, copying it on a small time basis, and become critical of anybody who tries to do anything to promote Free and Open Source Software. I have one simple question for you: What have you done lately?

What have you done to make others aware that they do have a choice when it comes to software on their computers? What have you done to spread the word of software freedom? What have you done to promote Linux? I’m not talking about the one-on-one’s. I’m not talking about the copied CD’s/DVD’s. Those tactics are great, but allow me to use another movement as an analogy: The 9/11 Truth Movement.

Whether one agrees with these individuals questioning the official story of 9/11 is beyond the scope of this article. What is being focused upon briefly: the tactics used to spread their message. Copying documentaries and passing them out to other people worked to an extent, but once enough numbers were obtained, some from that same movement realized that they had to reach the entire world on a mass basis in order for the possibility of them being heard to become reality, hence the bruhahaha in the mainstream media pertaining to Loose Change Final Cut being released to theaters.

The whole point of said analogy is quite simple: you have to invade the opposing camp’s territory every now and then in order to succeed. Microsoft has the budget for advertising, but even that is not helping Vista sales. In order for people to adopt Linux, they must first know that it exists, and as wonderful as copying and sharing with other people, it can only go so far, just like copying Loose Change. A massive announcement has to be made, and I believe it can be done. The opposing camp for Louder than Words is the traditional theater, which is backed by large multimedia corporations that would rather not allow such films to see the light of day.

The same goes for TUX500, but with one major difference: there are no millionaires behind the promotion of this project. There’s Bob Moore, Ken Starks, and myself, who created the press release promoting TUX500. We’re trying to get out of our armchairs to do something about the threat to computing freedom, and for that we’re being ridiculed. So do me a favor: if you think promotion of Linux is a waste of time, then get out of our way and don’t interfere. If you do not wish to participate in a project after receiving an e-mail (attachment or not) a polite, “No thank you.” would suffice rather than accuse the sender of spamming them. If you don’t want to participate that’s fine, but please stop abusing those who are trying to do something.

My Apologies.

Sunday, May 13th, 2007

I need to keep up with this blog more, and actually pay attention to the moderation page for comments: finally found that tonight.  Anyway, In case you don’t feel like scrolling all the way down to read the comments I’ve added, I’ll repeat some of what I’ve said before.

Yes, I am fully aware that there are other areas in the world that exist.  For example, there’s Australia  (and don’t mess with Aussies!), which is about as large as the continental U.S.  There’s also Japan, which is known for technological innovation.  There’s also the Netherlands, Germany, you get the picture…. I have one request.  Please stop accusing me of being ethnocentric.  I am not.  My country is not better than any other country, and vice versa.  All countries/nations have their pros and cons.

Next, comparing “nobody” companies to Dell makes zero sense?  If you don’t want Linux systems that are easy to find on the website, then sure, it makes no sense.  If you prefer Windows, that also makes no sense.  If you are looking for a Linux box without installation of the system itself, then yes, it makes a lot of sense.  The thing that gets me is that there are apparently those out there who do believe that Dell, HP/Compaq, Acer, and others are required for the success of Linux, which is absolute garbage!

If those who contribute and assist with software on a voluntary basis were able to bring a choice to the masses, then why can’t entrepreneurs do the same thing?  Microsoft became such a problem today, because they became too large and too power hungry.  What is happening in the FOSS arena is different: smaller companies are more effective, and might I add, efficient, than a few larger companies.

We were relying on Novell, and look what happened….

Letter to the Mozilla Foundation.

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

Dear Firefox,

Do you remember sending me this?

“The support of your website and you in particular is important to us. Please do what you can to aid us in our efforts…”

You sent me that back in 2004. What was it all about? Well, it seems that the folks at firefox had a great idea. They would solicit funds from computer users themselves in order to take out an ad in the New York Times. In fact, it seems you did very well by doing so. Here is something that was said along those lines:

“The ad appears to have become a temporary victim of its own success. The Mozilla Foundation’s novel fund-raising campaign to run a full-page ad listing financial contributors rocketed past expectations, attracting so many donors that Mozilla is still struggling to fit their 10,000 names on the advertisement.”

Full Story Here.
Congratulations. For all purposes, your efforts seemed to pay off and we now enjoy mainstream acceptance of Firefox. It was truly an astounding media coup. You deserve to take a bow.

But, I am wondering at something in particular. It seems that a couple of Linux gurus want to follow in your footsteps. The model worked once, why not again. In fact, I contacted one of them in order to suggest that they contact you to gain your reciprocal support. The idea of putting a car in the Indy 500 is not only novel, it is brilliant.

I am speaking of the project.

According to Ken Starks, or “helios” as his fans know him; you were indeed contacted. You simply did not have the courtesy to reply. Ken’s reply was nice enough. He said nothing bad about you. He has just shrugged your rejection off and moved on to other prospects.

So, having personally raised in excess of three thousand dollars for your efforts, I am wondering why Firefox/Mozilla can not or will not support this effort. Is it the “scam” controversy that infected this program early on? If so, I do believe that myth has been busted, and busted wide open. The only thing that particular muck-raker did was discredit himself in the process. Today, even the Indianapolis Star has given this effort the attention it deserves. Positive attention I might add. That is not to mention the two prominent Linux Community Members that are personally auditing the books for Tux500. Linux Community coverage of this project has been complete. I have trouble believing you haven’t heard of it.

So Firefox, please tell me. Just what is it that is holding you back from joining this noble effort to spread the word of Linux?

Might it be that the majority of donations you received were from Windows users? I would hate to think so.

Jan Dykstra
Detroit Michigan