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O’Reilly, you missed two

July 22, 2012 1 comment

I don’t want to take anything away from the winners of the O’Reilly Open Source Awards for 2012, given out at the big corporate FOSS Kumbaya in Portland known as OSCON this past week. All are very deserving of O’Reilly’s accolades — especially Elizabeth Krumbach, whose work I see on an almost regular basis — and I won’t go into listing the winners or their accomplishments here because O’Reilly has seen to that already.

But there are two — at least two — that were nominated and that O’Reilly missed. The misfortune that these two have been omitted arguably borders on tragic, too, because each of the following folks mentioned below have made significant contributions to FOSS in ways that equal, if not eclipse, those made by some of the this year’s recipients.

Here are two you missed, O’Reilly. Maybe next year you can rectify this.

The first O’Reilly oversight is Bill Kendrick. If you have children, you have probably happened upon Bill’s software opus Tux Paint somewhere along the line. If you don’t, then you may have seen it anyway. In its 10th year, Tux Paint is an award-winning art program for K-6 kids that not only teaches art, but also computer literacy. A long list of schools use it. It’s been open source ever since its inception, and is made for a variety of platforms — the usual suspects of Linux, Mac and Windows. Tux Paint alone should garner Bill the award, with an oak-leaf cluster, but he is even more deserving of the award for developing other educational software like TuxTyping — helping kids learn to type — not to mention Tux, of Math Command — which “lets kids hone their arithmetic skills while they defend penguins from incoming comets,” according to the website. Or, in other words, think of the ’80s arcade game Missile Command, only with math problems instead of incoming nuclear missiles.

[Blogger’s note: Bill Kendrick straightens out the personnel lineup for the aforementioned projects here, and a full list of authors and contributors can be found here and here.]

The second oversight is Ken Starks. As those of you who regularly read this blog know, Ken and I go back a ways, back to the days when Ken successfully — miraculously — raised enough money to get Tux on the nose of an Indy car at the Indianapolis 500 back in 2007. The car crashed early in the race — irony of ironies for Linux — and finished last. As long as I’ve known him, Ken has been the most tireless advocate for Linux and FOSS for years. With the HeliOS Project — now REGLUE, an acronym for Recycled Electronics and Gnu/Linux Used for Education — Ken and his merry band of fossketeers get refurbished Linux-based computers into the hands of underprivileged kids in the Austin, Texas, area. Ken was also one of the co-founders of the Lindependence Project, which brought Linux to a small town back in 2008. Currently, Ken’s battle with larynx cancer is limiting his activity, but he is still doing what he can with the hand he’s dealt.

So, how about it, Tim?

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software 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!

Deep in the heart of TexOS

October 4, 2011 3 comments

Both Ken Starks and I have full plates, rhetorically speaking, when it comes to things we’re doing, things we’re planning to do, and things we’re actually getting done in the FOSS realm.

The up side of this is that things are getting done and we’re both staying out of trouble — although I can only speak for myself on the latter. The down side is that, in these busy days, I don’t get to talk to Ken as much as I’d like. But my good friend from the great state of Texas (no, that’s not sarcasm, Ken. Honest) passed on an interesting link that I think deserves special mention.

As most of you know, Ken gets Linux/FOSS boxes in the hands and homes of underprivileged kids in the Austin area through the HeliOS Project. He and I also organized the Lindependence event back in Felton and, as mentioned here in an item back in 2008, he and I are living breathing proof that Linux/FOSS works across political lines for a greater good.

Meanwhile, back at the original point of this blog, Ken passed on a link to something I find very interesting and something that needs to be shared, if not actually built upon.

The link in question is for TexOS, the Texas Open Source Project. The Texas Open Source Project, according to its site, “is working with local, non-profits in the San Angelo, Texas, area to provide technology to students who don’t have access to it at home.”

San Angelo is almost smack dab in the center of Texas — if “smack dab in the center” were me aiming a dart at the bull’s eye of the Lone Star State and being where the dart ends up (just to the left) after I tossed it — just West-Northwest as the crow flies of Austin.

Looking at the “About TexOS” page, the project encompasses a FOSS mentality, especially in providing “low cost access to educational and other useful software for all other purposes.” That’s where we — those who advocate for, and use, Linux and FOSS — come in.

A good example of this is the item posted about how TexOS used LibreOffice and Kalzium, a KDE program, for a school project. This combo is one of may ways that FOSS can be used in an educational setting providing free — as in beer and freedom — software to the classroom/student environment.

The folks at TexOS hold workshops to go with the placement of hardware, so users get a head start with their new machines. This is a definite plus for the kids — who are, according to one report, ages 10-13 — where they get an idea of what they’re getting into with FOSS. They’ve held two so far, with the third coming this Saturday.

This looks like a great program, and I would like to think that Linux/FOSS advocates will take a close look at TexOS as a blueprint in getting the same kind of program promoting Linux/FOSS in their own community.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software 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.

[FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

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Eliminate DRM!

In a festive mood

March 10, 2011 1 comment

Linuxfest Northwest 2011 - April 30th-May 1st I’ll be there. You should be there, too. As well as at the other events mentioned below — go to a Linux fest at a location near you.

If it’s Thursday morning and it’s 8ish in the morning, it must be The White Raven, home of Larry’s (not me) Famous Chai, and at 8ish, it gives me another chance to blog before taking on the rest of the Redwood Digital world at 9ish

Someone asked me yesterday, “Hey, Larry the Free Software Guy — Why are you posting a link to Linux Fest Northwest on your blog when it’s a few months away? What about those events that are coming up?”

That’s a good question that deserves a good answer, and hopefully this will suffice, so bear with me for a short introduction.

Leading up to the Southern California Linux Expo SCALE 9X, I had a link and a logo for that show. As far as community-run expos go, SCALE is probably the best one of the year, and not only that, SCALE rivals the O’Reilly-run OSCON as perhaps the best show of the year. Without a doubt, SCALE is certainly the better value due to the cost to attend. For a crew of volunteers to put on a highly professional show like SCALE is a testament to the power of community

[Two things: A truth in advertising moment -- I am a SCALE staffer, a co-chair of the publicity committee, but even if I wasn't somewhat partial to SCALE for that reason, it's still an outstanding show and a huge credit to those who put in the work to make it happen, and happen successfully year in and year out. Secondly, OSCON is an outstanding show and O'Reilly's staff does an outstanding job in putting on this expo as well, and my preference to SCALE reflects the high quality of the SoCal show and does not reflect any shortcoming by the folks who put on OSCON, as blog items in the past have attested to how much I like going to Portland in July.]

So the questioner is right — there are two shows coming up that deserve special mention, as well as your attendance if you’re within walking/bus/train/driving/flying distance of them.

Back home again in Indiana, the Indiana Linux Fest, kicks off its inaugural event. According to its site, ILF “is a community F/OSS conference, which is showcasing the best the community has to offer in the way of Free and Open Source Software, Open Hardware, and Free Culture. We are also highlighting the best and brightest from all of these communities from the hobbyist to professional level.” ILF is being held March 25-27 at the Wyndam Indianapolis West, and it’s free.

Texas Linux Fest is April 2 in Austin. In its second year, TXLF made the excellent call in making Ken Starks its keynoter this year. With the HeliOS Project in Austin, Ken’s been doing great things and it’s about time he’s getting the recognition in FOSS circles for walking the walk while talking the talk in getting Linux boxes into the hands of people to use — in the HeliOS Project’s case, it’s underprivileged kids.

Both shows have outstanding lineups of speakers and sessions, and frankly I wish I could make both of them. It’s almost worth playing hooky and going to Austin, just to heckle Ken from the cheap seats; don’t worry, Ken, I’ll resist the temptation.

But it’s worth your while to make the trip to either of these shows, depending on which is more geographically expedient for you. Make the reservation now.

Meanwhile, at the end of April, you can find me at Linux Fest Northwest. If you’re making that one, I will surely see you there.

[FSF Associate Member] (Fedora ambassador 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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This just in . . .

February 3, 2011 1 comment

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

Every day when I check my blog stats — and now that the number of hits is in triple-digits, it warms my heart to know that some people really like the blog — there is always one item from 2008 which is still getting multiple hits on a daily basis for reasons way beyond my understanding.

It is this one: It’s Official: Microsoft’s Concerned about GNU/Linux, which outlines Microsoft’s 10-K report, which they file annually with the SEC (as all corporations do). This one is from 2008. In it, as 10-Ks are supposed to do, it points out potential pitfalls to the business, and open source is one of them, so says Microsoft.

Needless to say, I find it extremely funny that commentary on a 10-K from three years ago is still getting attention.

But never mind. I really wanted to relay this bulletin: This just in . . . HelioOS Project made it as one of the top three finishers at the Rock A Charity Event on Feb. 18. HeliOS, Well Aware, and English at Work are the three top-finishing charities in the contest. Congrats, Ken!

And, once again, here are the last three words of The Heart Sutra: “Don’t Waste Time.”

[FSF Associate Member] (Fedora ambassador 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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Random thoughts, cheap shots and bon mots

February 2, 2011 3 comments

Registration is now open for SCALE 9X — register now by clicking on the winking penguin. Also, apologies to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Scott Ostler, whose six words in this blog’s title often appear on his sports columns.

Whatever our opinions of Facebook might be, I think we can all agree that the social network which garnered Mark Zuckerberg Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year” serves humanity not by releasing any relevant information about the inner workings of government or anything like that, but serves as the biggest human time sink in history. But as such, we’re going to start with it, and . . . .

Give a hand where needed: Ken Starks and I have worked together in the past on the Lindependence Project — and we may do so again this year (more on this another time) — and his baby, the HeliOS Project, does great things for kids in the Austin, Texas, area. Specifically, the project provides castoff computers which run Linux to underprivileged kids in the area. The HeliOS Project is in a contest where top three finishers in popularity — you have to “like” them, in the Facebook mode of liking — are awarded a monetary prize for the most “likes.” Even if there wasn’t an award at the end of this contest 12 hours from now, you should still “like” this project. Go here if you’re on Facebook and give them a click. This just in . . . HelioOS Project made it as one of the top three finishers at the Rock A Charity Event on Feb. 18. HeliOS, Well Aware, and English at Work are the three top-finishing charities in the contest. Congrats, Ken!

After returning from Tempe, Ariz., losing a fight with a cold and then rallying, we can now talk about . . .

FUDCon finishes with a flurry: Literally — many of my Fedora colleagues who attended FUDCon in Tempe, Ariz., at the beautiful campus of Arizona State were stranded there after Monday thanks to snowstorms in what seemed to be every state east of the Rockies. Without going into great detail — after all, I did that already as Larry the Fedora Guy (you knew that was coming) — what I did want to say was that events like this are great for getting people face-to-face and working on a common goal. Eternal thanks go to Robyn Bergeron, Ryan Rix, Paul Frields, Ian Weller, Max Spevack and others who put on this great event.

From there we turn up the temperature . . . .

Trying the new hotness: Adam Williamson invites those who are interested to give GNOME 3 a workout: Adam writes, “Fedora will be running three test days to aid in the final polishing and stabilization of the GNOME 3 release, and make sure Fedora 15 provides a good desktop experience. This is a great opportunity to help both GNOME and Fedora development and help make sure you can work effectively in GNOME 3 when it lands on your desktop.” If you’re so inclined, go for it.

And, in closing, the editorial “we” reminds you of the last three words of The Heart Sutra: “Don’t Waste Time.”

[FSF Associate Member] (Fedora ambassador 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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Back to the future

January 16, 2011 2 comments

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

More times than not, Ken Starks — who pens the Blog of Helios — nails it, and his most recent item is quite possibly Exhibit A to that rule. In his latest submission, Ken responds adequately to a critic who “said that [the HeliOS Project] had wasted a computer on kids that were far too young to either appreciate the technology or use it efficiently.”

Ken’s blog takes the argument and slices and dices it in such a way that, if it were a Ronco product, you’d find it being advertised on late-night television.

But wait, there’s more. I’ll let Ken tell the story, from his blog. Ken writes:

“Skip Guenter and I do week-long computer labs during summer vacation. The kids range from 4th to 6th grade. When I first intro the class. I walk among the seated children and then I point to one of them and I say:

” ‘You are going to be the first person to walk on Mars.’

“I point to another and state:

” ‘You are going to discover an herbal compound that cures diabetes.’

“And to a third child I point and say:

” ‘You are going to invent the nano technology that reverses blindness.’

“Then I make sure that they understand one thing. Unless they embrace and learn about the machines in front of them, none of that is likely to happen.”

Amen to that, Ken.

Also, on the issue of age, there is my own experience. I started with GNU/Linux and FOSS very late — 48 to be exact, five years ago, and I’ve told that story here ad nauseum. However, thanks to the miracle of being my offspring (it’s a miracle to me, anyway, that she’s my girl), my daughter Mimi has grown up with FOSS for pretty much her entire life.

Her introduction to computers and their use, then, has always involved a high degree of FOSS exposure, and with this exposure comes a better understanding of how software works and a clearer knowledge of how software should be available to the public. It has been interesting to watch her grow along with the Free Software and Open Source philosophies; not to mention the snapshots along the way, like learning about how to install Debian at 8 under her Dad’s watchful eye, or her enthusiasm today for GIMP and other programs that allow her to develop and expand her passion for drawing.

With her understanding of how the digital world works and inheriting her Dad’s affinity for implementing Free Software and the Open Source paradigm, Mimi can usually be found with me at various Linux expos and shows. Not only this, she can also be found with her friends — Malakai and Saskia Wade — giving talks at expos like SCALE and the Utah Open Source Conference about “Girls in FOSS.”

[As an aside: Mimi is now an Ubuntu user, in what her Fedora-using Dad hopes will be just a passing rebellious phase. Or not. But rather than rend my garment and wail skyward, "I have no daughter!" I would prefer to be proud of her beyond words for trying a variety of distros and settling on one that works for her. That's my girl.]

Back to the art, though: Mimi has developed an artesian depth of artistic talent, and my eternal gratitude goes to Bill Kendrick and the developers of Tux Paint for planting the seed of artistic abilities with that consistently outstanding program. Tux Paint and this household, digitally speaking, go way back, and Kendrick’s and his team’s efforts on all the software they write make a huge impact on the lives of those who use it.

This same “huge impact” can be claimed by a wide range of FOSS programs as well — substitute $FOSS_PROGRAM for “Tux Paint” and there are a wide variety of FOSS programs that have made their mark on the computer-using world, all for the better.

Which brings us back to Ken and Skip and the summer computer labs: One kid in that room may be the one who first steps on Mars. One may be the one who develops the technology to allow the blind to see. But also, they may not be the ones accomplishing those feats, and that’s OK. At the very least — at the absolute least — kids learning about and using FOSS will grow up to be average adults with a better understanding of how hardware and software work and a clearer picture of how hardware and software should be made available to the public.

[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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Monday, Monday

August 9, 2010 2 comments

One of the more peculiar items I find when checking my blog stats is that I still get hits for a blog item I wrote in 2008 — 2008 — about Microsoft’s 10-K report that year and how it implies how good the open source paradigm might be compared to its own software and its own business model.

Bear in mind that one of the purposes of a 10-K report — somewhat like the medical disclaimers you hear on drug commercials that, after listening to it, would make any normal person avoid the drug at all costs — is to outline any potential pitfall in buying stock in the company you’re considering so you can’t sue them if, well, the stock goes south; way south.

Why the blog item keeps getting hits is beyond me, but for those who keep reading it, thanks.

A brave man: My friend Steven Rosenberg, who writes a tech column for the Los Angeles Daily News, wades into uncharted territory in his column today, where he outlines dual-booting a Lenovo with Fedora and . . . wait for it . . . Windows 7. As always, Steven’s blogs are always informative and instructional, and the reasoning behind his using the Xfce spin of Fedora is something that hadn’t occurred to me before. Steven says in the blog that he “prefer(s) the Xfce tools over those in GNOME. I like the Thunar file manager, the way you can ‘minimize’ a window but keep it visible on the desktop, I like the look (and speed; these helper apps are super-quick) and functionality of the Xfce terminal and Mousepad text editor. The Xfce configuration apps all work great, and there are plenty of them.” Nice work, as always, Steven. Keep us posted on this dual-boot adventure.

Survey says: Ken Starks over at the Blog of HeliOS has a fairly interesting survey to be taken, if you have several minutes. Tell Ken how you use GNU/Linux or Linux and help him out.

Now, who wants more coffee?

[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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