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Herding cats

February 17, 2013 Leave a comment

It’s February and I’m swamped. It can only mean one thing — this year’s version of the Southern California Linux Expo, more commonly known to the rest of the world this year as SCALE 11X, is finally in the starting blocks and ready to run.

scale11x-125x125aIt’s cat herding time: Yes, getting all the tech and non-tech media to pay attention and come to the event is best described as herding cats, but it’s something I love doing. As the publicity chair for SCALE, I never have a dull moment from, say, Boxing Day in the previous December until the end of the show. With the help of Scott Ruecker, Hannah Anderson, Dennis Rex and the rest of the SCALE Publicity Team, we also get the word out to the wider Linux/FOSS audience to come to the show, or else miss the best Linux/FOSS show in North America.

I mention the glorius burden of my own personal SCALE workload because I’m always there but I can never see any of the presenations I’d like to see. Given the opportunity to see a presentation or several, I’d pick . . . all of them. But most immediately, there are several part of SCALE 11X that are not to be missed:

The Keynotes: Both Matthew Garrett and Kyle Rankin bring excellent topics — UEFI and 3-D printing, respectively — to the keynote talks on Saturday and Sunday mornings. This is the first time in awhile that I’ve thought, “Dang, I have to make both of these.” There’s a good chance I can make one, or maybe (knock on wood) both of them this year, and you should, too.

Most of Friday’s sessions: OK, so cloning technology isn’t up to splitting me into several people and all of them going to different sessions on Friday. But between the Chef Training, the Cloud sessions, the PostgreSQL track, the Mentoring track and the Puppet track, I’d be bouncing like a pinball between them for a better part of the day. To say nothing of the Linux Essentials Prep, which I have to take someday. After all this on Friday, there’s . . .

UpSCALE: I did this once, and I’d do it again if my most excellent partner in digital crime (also known as my daughter Mimi) would join me in taking the stage again. The Friday night to-do is in the form of the Ignite Talks, where a speaker is at the mercy of a timer which is advancing his/her slides at a 20-second-per clip and they’re always fun, mostly interesting and continually a topic of discussion throughout the course of the show.

And then
there’s a line up of speakers throughout the rest of the weekend for whom I’d walk a mile on my knees through broken glass to attend their presentations: Joe Brockmeier, Ruth Suehle, Deb Nicholson, Owen DeLong, Dru Lavigne, Christer Edwards, Jason Brooks, and Thomas Cameron top this list that goes on for quite some time. In addition, we have some first-timers to SCALE who deserve special mention, like retro gamer Guillermo Antonio Amaral Bastidas and Oregon State University Open Source Lab manager Lance Albertson. Heck, even a few current and former SCALE folks come out from behind the curtain and are giving presentations: Stuart Sheldon, Tom King and Jenn Greenaway take the stage as well.

You’ll have to check the schedule here to find out when these folks are speaking. Meanwhile, when I’m able, I’ll be at sessions I can make, but for the most part you can find me in the press room.

I’ll be the one with the string and the catnip.

One more time: We turn it up to 11 this year — a reference many of the folks my age laugh uproariously to, but one which some of the younger speakers may not know. Watch this.

More to follow. Watch this space.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

Going to 11

February 10, 2013 1 comment

The beginning of the year is always a time when I am absolutely swamped. I kiss my loved ones goodbye and then I immerse myself in the tsunami known as preparation for the Southern California Linux Expo.

scale11x-125x125aThis year, SCALE is turning it up to 11 with SCALE 11X. In its 11th year, SCALE is the first-of-the-year Linux/FOSS expo in North America that usually (except for last year) is held in February during President’s Day weekend. This year, it’s Feb. 22-24 at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport hotel.

An aside: Every year I say that the San Francisco Giants are going to win the World Series. They’ve made me correct two of the last three years, and no one is more surprised about that than I am. Conversely, I also say every year that the upcoming SCALE event will be the best ever, and my record here is always better than two out of three.

The difference here, though, is that I’m never surprised when it comes to SCALE that each year beats the previous one.

This year, we have good reason to expect great things at SCALE 11X. If nothing else that makes the show great, Matthew Garrett will be giving us his insights on breaking free of the UEFI chains in the Saturday keynote.

But we’re getting ahead of the story. There are events, talks, sessions and activities for everyone at every level of experience. And then some. You’ll just have to visit the schedule board here to take a look.

As the chair of the Publicity Team — that’s chief cat-herder for the tech and mainstream press, to most of you — I get to write the publicity blurbs and announcements that go out on a regular basis; even more regular now that we’re on the proverbial doorstep of SCALE 11X. In counting up the number of speakers — not including those all-day sessions which may have more than one — we have 91 speakers over the three-day weekend.

So we have nearly as many speakers as we have exhibitors. Permit me to pause to reflect on that for a moment.

Done.

Also since my duties at the expo tend to keep me in the press room for 95 percent of the show, you can be sure that I won’t miss the Saturday keynote. The topic of Secure Boot and how to get around it is of vital importance and Matthew Garrett’s keynote is one that is not to be missed. But other than that, and a lap or two around the floor to see if the exhibitor’s publicity needs are taken care of, I’ll be sequestered in the press room for a better part of the show.

We turn it up to 11 this year — a reference many of the folks my age laugh uproariously to, but one which some of the younger speakers may not know. Watch this.

More on SCALE 11X to come in the next several days.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

J’accuse

January 13, 2013 1 comment

Despite knowing his remarkable work and reading about him — and reading things he’d written — in various tech media from time to time, Aaron Swartz and I have never met.

Nevertheless, what we share is a distant kinship — however remote — bound by both a deep and appreciative admiration on my part of Aaron’s accomplishments joined by advocating Aaron’s positions and philosophies on digital information’s use and availability.

As a FOSS advocate, you also share these same things with Aaron, to whatever degree you knew him, or didn’t know him.

So I’ll let the others who knew him personally take care of the rememberances and the eulogies; like his family, Lawrence Lessig here and here (especially the latter), as well as the folks at Electronic Frontier Foundation.

I’m happy to remember Aaron’s many accomplishments — a far wider scope of accomplishments than nearly all of us will ever achieve — and I’m inspired by the work he did during his short lifetime. My sincerest hope is that others remember Aaron and his accomplishments; and in remembering the man and his vast contributions for the general good of all they are inspired to the same degree, if not more.

However, this paragraph from the official statement from the family and partner of Aaron Swartz speaks volumes:

“Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community’s most cherished principles.”

So to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Massachusetts and to MIT, I so state: J’accuse.

UPDATE: There’s a petition on whitehouse.gov to remove U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz from office for overreach in the case of Aaron Swartz. Sign it here. Now. Also, Democracy Now! has Lawrence Lessig on talking about Aaron Swartz here.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

Walking away from the fray

December 10, 2012 6 comments

I had written something about last week’s Richard Stallman-Jono Bacon dustup over the weekend, but then realized that it would just be more-of-the-same on a topic upon which too much attention was being spent.

The tl;dr version of what I wrote, and then deleted (you’re welcome), is this:

Richard Stallman — who is a great programmer and thinker, but who exhibited again why he’s not fit for a leadership role in anything — once again threw diplomacy and tact under the bus, even though he is, to a significant degree, right on the shopping lens issue. But shunning Ubuntu, at its core, flies in the face of freedom — people should be free to use whatever they want as an OS, even if it allows others to see what one is doing (though smarter folks would realize how bad this is).

Meanwhile, Jono Bacon — rather than doing the smart thing by ignoring Stallman’s blog post — drags out the tired Ubuntu policy of ad hominem response to any and all criticism, throwing in a FUD accusation for good measure, before — wait for it — offering what he considers an “olive branch.”

Yawn. Wake me up when Ubuntu decides to make the shopping lens issue an opt-in rather than an opt-out.

The best writing I’ve seen on this comes from Benjamin Kerensa in his blog here. So I’ll let Benjamin drive for now while I go take care of some more important things.

UPDATE: Jono Bacon writes an apology here.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

Munich gets it right

November 26, 2012 Leave a comment

The fact that the German city of Munich has been using their own version of Linux and Free/Open Source Software in its municipal day-to-day workings is not news. It’s also no secret that the city of Munich was also saving money in the bargain as well, as the Lord Mayor (yeah, they have those in Munich) reported to the council; a savings of around 4 million euros, by the Lord Mayor’s estimation, according to a March 2012 report.

The problem is that the Lord Mayor was a little off — about 6 million euros off, as a matter of fact.

An article in The H last week reported that the savings to the city of Munich, thanks to its home-grown LiMux Linux operating system and FOSS programs like OpenOffice, have saved with German city 10 million euros.

The article itself breaks down the savings very nicely, and I don’t want to get into the OpenOffice/LibreOffice debate here (though, arguably, they can use LibreOffice just as easily, in my opinion, and they’d be better off doing so).

But what it comes down to is this: If Linux and FOSS can save a city like Munich this much money, how much could it save the cash-strapped cities, counties — heck, even states and this nation — by implementing Linux and FOSS at various government levels? This is not a new question, and I know groups like Code for America get it.

Armed with this information from Munich, it’s probably a good time to ask this question at city council halls far and wide.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

He likes it! Hey Linus!

November 4, 2012 3 comments

Now to separate the get-off-my-lawners from those who need to get off the lawn . . .

Those who get the reference in the blog’s title can read on; those who don’t — and it’s generational, trust me — can watch here.

A few days ago on Google+, reported on later in a Muktware blog post, Linus Torvalds talked about his recent foray with KDE. Generally, he likes it, though his praise — stop me if you’ve heard this before — is still tempered by the things he finds he doesn’t like.

He likes the ability to configure things (who doesn’t?), despite the “odd and distracting default behavior” (behavior that, of course, can be changed). But then he goes on to give KDE a test run by fiddling with the desktop widgets.

According to the Muktware blog, Linus continues: “As a result, right now my terminal and web browser buttons look like a drunken fratboy has been messing with my desktop. I suspect I’ll turn them back to their boring upright position (because that’s how I roll – boring), but for now I’m mildly amused by the sheer whimsicality of it all.”

First things first: There are thousands, possibly millions, who “roll” a lot more boring than Linus, but let’s put that aside. What’s important is that, like when he tried Xfce, it gives those who are developing desktop environments a few minutes with the creator, for better or worse. Further, and more importantly, Linus’ example also shows that we don’t have to stick with one desktop/program/software forever.

In other words, from time to time, change is good.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

Back to the future

October 29, 2012 5 comments

[This item, slightly edited, is copied from an earlier submission to the Larry the CrunchBang Guy blog.]

Unbeknown to my daughter Mimi — and, sadly, I don’t think she reads what her Dad writes in this blog often enough (and if she does, well, consider the surprise spoiled) — she’s about to inherit yet another of Dad’s hand-me-down computers.

First things first: I currently use a ZaReason Alto 3880 laptop running CrunchBang 10 Statler, which is a remarkable machine that, sadly, ZaReason doesn’t make anymore — time and improvements march on, and ZaReason has advanced this laptop series to the current Alto 4330.

My daughter, conversely, has been using for the past few years my old ThinkPad R40, a very sturdy, utilitaran and well-traveled laptop judging by all the stickers on the cover.

Enter a new development: Steam and Valve are ramping up gaming in Linux, and the old R40 — great for her artwork and creating 8-bit music, which takes up most of her digital life — has, well, performance issues when it comes to the higher horsepower needed for games. Her interest in games goes beyond playing them, and with this in mind, I’d like for her to have the better hardware when pitching in on the projects she wants to explore.

Personally, I blame Gabe Newell for Mimi wanting newer hardware, but never mind. Also, for those of you keeping score at home, shelling out for a new ZaReason laptop is out of the question until, at least, Christmas (especially after last week’s $600 car repair which we will not discuss. Ever).

So after saving a ThinkPad T42 from recycling doom recently, I’ve put Waldorf on it — the CrunchBang-11-20121015-i686 version, which works flawlessly (with one caveat, mentioned below) — and I’ll hand down the ZaReason to Mimi.

Now, you go girl.

In the past in other blogs, I’ve said that I am a ThinkPad guy and I have always loved the form factor. That hasn’t changed, and though I’m turning over the keys to the sports car to my daughter and relegating myself to the station wagon, I feel at home with almost any model of ThinkPad.

So back to the hardware I love while looking to the future.

One more thing: There have been installation issues in the past with Waldorf — and, for some reason, it seems to be happening mostly (if not solely) on ThinkPads — where the installation will hang at the “detect disks” point. It came up again yesterday with this current install, and while there’s an extensive discussion involving solutions here, my solution was more simple and straightforward: Disable floppy in the BIOS.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

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