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The curse of G-before-N

May 19, 2011 6 comments

Linux for the GNU South – Attend if you can.

During her visit to Budapest where she was part of the Ubuntu Developers Summit, Linux Pro’s associate publisher Rikki Kite posted this on Facebook:

“My geeky friends who pronounce ‘gnome’ as ‘ga-nome’ and ‘gnu’ as ‘ga-new’ might appreciate this -> I saw gnocchi on the buffet at UDS and said, ‘Oh, good, ga-no-kee.’ I ka-new it sounded wrong as soon as I said it.”

To which I reply to Rikki: You mean that’s not how you pronounce it?

Personally, I blame Richard Stallman. It’s an affliction that affects geeks on our side of the proverbial aisle: The “G” factor, where a normally silent letter gets pressed into phonetic service, well, for a couple of reasons. First, because it’s there (and from an engineering standpoint, why would it be there if it wasn’t going to be used?), and secondly, because we’re used to the fact that GNU and GNOME have the “g” — how can I put this? — unsilent, and we’ve been trained, or brainwashed, into putting the “g” in there where it doesn’t belong.

It’s bad enough the little guys in the garden are guh-nomes — even after the recent movie “Guh-nomeo and Juliet” — but there are other places where this arises.

For example, I had to wail and gnash — pronounced guh-nash, right? — my teeth at the various grammatical and spelling errors (not to mention the Giants blowing a four-run lead to the Dodgers) while working at the paper last night.

Surfers in the area, as well as elsewhere, consider things “gnarly” without the “g” sound; except some in Santa Cruz who also use Linux/FOSS and say “guh-narly,” dude.

To say nothing of the fact that we have no pesky gnats — yep, there’s a “g” in there, making it guh-nats — flying around in these parts, but I used to have to deal with them elsewhere.

Anyway, while there may be a cure for this, or at least a 12-step program (“I’m Larry, and I’m a G-oholic” — “Hi, Larry”), I think the better course of action would be to alert the non-geeks around you that you’re going to be using all the letters in the words you use, save for the silent “e” and the silent “k” in “kn-” words.

[FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation. He is also one of the founders of the Lindependence Project.)
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F-ing around on the Web

January 8, 2011 4 comments

Registration is now open for SCALE 9X — register now by clicking on the winking penguin.

Ahem.

Now that I have your attention . . . .

Several months ago, there was a discussion in Fedora circles about the similarity between the Fedora Project logo — a very smart one that signifies a lot of different things (as outlined below) — and the Facebook “F” that is encapsulated in a rounded-off square.

This discussion started when someone related a story where a person approached the storyteller and mistook a Fedora button on a backpack for a Facebook button. I thought it was fairly innocuous at the time — yeah, they’re both F’s, but still, you have to be kind of — oh, I don’t know — lacking some basic observational skills to confuse the two.

Of course, when it happens to you, then the issue becomes a tad more clear.

Earlier in the week, I had coffee in beautiful downtown Felton at The White Raven — home of Larry’s Famous Chai (the Larry in question is not me; though as an aside, Felton could be a town that holds the distinction of having the most people named Larry, per capita, in the nation. But I digress . . . ). A woman sitting at the next table looked over at me — well, more specifically, looked over at my ThinkPad T30, which sports a Fedora F sticker next to the touchpad — and asked, “Excuse me, where did you get that Facebook sticker?

Frankly, I live for segues like this, as it gives me a chance to talk about Free/Open Source Software and Linux, upon which Facebook is based, no doubt. I explained that it was not a “Facebook” sticker, but that of the Fedora Project, and launched into a coffee conversation about Fedora, Linux and an invitation to join the Felton Linux Users Group, which conveniently was meeting that Saturday.

Herein lies the confusion.

Real Fedora Logo from the Fedora wiki This is the Fedora logo. The Fedora logo provides by design three distinct and important elements that are basic tenets to the FOSS paradigm: Voice, which is the blue background “bubble” reminiscent of voice bubbles in comic strips and the like; the “F” for freedom (or Fedora); and last, but certainly not least, the “F” for Freedom/Fedora is part of the symbol for infinity, albeit upright as opposed to horizontal. When you look at this, it conveys a lot of different — all positive — messages. I would suspect that the Fedora Project’s Design Team gets tired of me singing the seven-minute album version of their praises, but of all distros in this solar system, if not the entire galaxy, the Fedora Project’s artists are the best, period. Also, there’s a wiki page on the history of the Fedora logo which outlines its origins — it’s definitely worth a read.

[Editor's note: Paul Frields, former Fedora Project Leader, points out in the comments below an earlier version of the logo that appeared here was not the right one. This one above comes directly from the Fedora Project's logo wiki rather than from my ancient library. Thanks, Paul.]

On the other hand . . .

200pixel facebook iconOn the other hand, this is the Facebook F, which as you can see is a stylized F on a blue square with rounded corners, tastefully and tactfully shadowed and reflected to provide an almost 3-D look. It’s clean and attractive — very attractive in fact — and I’m sure that the folks at Facebook may have paid a handsome sum for the design of this logo. But when you put the two together to compare and contrast, you can tell that there is a huge difference between them, with the letter “F” and the color blue being where the similarities end.

Though its roots go further back, the Fedora Project was initiated in the fall of 2003. Mark Zuckerberg was still in his dorm at Harvard kicking off Facebook on campus a year after that. I bring this up because I have been unable to ascertain which logo came first, but I am fairly certain the Fedora logo came first. If anyone can shed some light on this, I’d be grateful.

Now, is the fact that the two logos are sometimes confused at a fleeting glance a problem for folks at Fedora? Some in the aforementioned discussion at the outset of this blog thought so, to the point where they opined that perhaps Fedora should change its logo. On the contrary: It’s a great opportunity opening a door for people who are asked about the “Facebook” sticker/button to talk about Linux, FOSS and Fedora.

[Making the lawyers happy: The Fedora Project and Facebook symbols represented above are registered trademarks belonging to their respective owners.]

[FSF Associate Member] (Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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Categories: Facebook, Fedora Tags: , , ,
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