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Lost in translation

August 11, 2008 Leave a comment

[Note: This item also appears in the Lindependence 2008: Felton Diary blog.]

I got into journalism for a reason: My math skills are not exactly stellar.

In my last blog item — and picked up in a blog item written by Katherine Noyes of Linux Insider – I said that in October, 100 towns in Italy were going to do a Lindependence-type project. Actually, according to the Linux Day 2008 site (reading Italian helps here, but not necessary), I was off by . . . um . . . 79 towns. They’re actually up to 21, so far.

In my defense, the 100 number came from a conversation with a Fedora ambassador from Europe, and possibly something was lost in translation. Naturally, I should have checked it out before going public with it, but I found the fellow from whom I got this information trustworthy. But still, the fault is mine for misleading you all, and I apologize.

Regardless: even though it’s not in triple digits, 21 is still a pretty good number of towns in Italy taking the plunge, and we’re behind them.

Meanwhile, back in Felton, Felton LUG is starting to get going, establishing the first Saturday of the month as the regular meeting date and finding a regular meeting place (the fire station). The seeds that have been sown here are being cultivated and we expect them to bear fruit. If you’re in Felton and are interested in attending/participating/contributing, drop me an e-mail at lcafiero-at-fixedbylinux-dot-com.

[FSF Associate Member](Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs HeliOS Solutions West in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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When it’s cloudy in Felton

May 8, 2008 1 comment

I could blame global warming, but I wouldn’t have the scientific facts to back it up. But the weather has taken a turn for the strange here in Felton, where the sweaters that have been packed away for the summer have to be pulled out for extra duty and the fog that rolls in off the Monterey Bay that makes it past Santa Cruz parks bewteen us grounddwellers and the sun.

Long before the air raid siren goes off — like clockwork in Felton, at noon the air raid siren atop the solar-powered fire station wails, signifying that we’re either under attack or it’s high noon; so far, thankfully, it’s only been the latter — the overcast morning lends itself to another cup of coffee and staying in the office. And catching up on this blog.

This would probably be a good time to bring everyone up to date on what’s going on with Lindependence 2008. When I last talked about the project and Felton, I was somewhat surprised and disappointed at the lack of response to this project. My initial thought was that distros and FOSS programs would jump at the chance to have a month to promote their wares and provide a town with the opportunity to use the fruits of their labor for at least a week, possibly more.

I’ll have that plate of crow now: My disappointment was somewhat premature, since people are now stepping up, contacting me and wanting to know more about the project and offering help. Someday a study should be done to test the premise that no matter how fast the Internet might be, human contact still is the key to getting things done. Case in point: Talking to people at the MySQL conference last month and JavaOne attendees yesterday has been a lot more productive than a flurry of e-mails and several calls.

I am in the process of gathering up questionnaires that I had given to businesses in the community. The most encouraging sign is this: Question 7 — which asks if, given the choice, business owners would try and use Free/Open Source Software alternatives to purchased or pre-installed software — comes up as unanimously “yes” so far.

We are moving forward. In fact, it occurs to me that perhaps I should have a separate blog for Felton developments, so watch this space.

52 and overcast, and maybe it’s time for a redwoods break.

[As a postscript, I have to say that my blog a few weeks ago on Microsoft's 10-K report to the SEC garnered my first four-digit amount of hits on this blog. So if I were concerned about that sort of thing, I'd mention Microsoft -- Microsoft, Microsoft, Microsoft -- and watch the numbers roll in. But that would be cheating, so never mind. If I was really that concerned about getting numbers up, I'd change the title of this blog to I CAN HAS FREEZOFTWARE and put cat pictures on it.]

[FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero runs HeliOS Solutions West in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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Twin brothers of separate mothers

April 30, 2008 8 comments

One of us is a battle tested, recently retired career Army man who is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm. The other is a former peace and social justice activist with portfolio who rose through the Green Party’s California ranks before taking up FOSS evangelism with a vengance.

One of us lives in Texas, where the stars at night are big and bright (clap four times here), while the other lives on the Central California coast, where — and it’s a law, I think — every sentence must end with the word ” . . . dude.”

One of us swears by KDE, the other prefers GNOME but really has an affinity for Xfce. One of us calls the operating system “Linux” out of laziness. The other makes a point of referring to it as “GNU/Linux” because the “GNU should get its due.”

Ken Starks and I have our differences. I would be willing to bet he doesn’t think Texas cheated in the Rose Bowl when they beat USC for the national championship a year ago (they did), nor do I think he would agree with me that the former Texas governor cheated in the 2000 election to win the presidency (he did ). Ken grew up a Cubs fan — anyone who knows me knows how much I detest the Cubs (’89 NLCS, anyone?) — but he now follows the Houston Astros, while I live and die, mostly die, with the San Francisco Giants.

Yet it’s safe to say that Ken and I are united in one thing: Promoting Linux (as he’d say) in the home desktop/laptop and small business environment; that, and making sure everyone knows they have FOSS options to their proprietary computing experience.

My introduction to Ken — I haven’t actually met him in person yet — came after what I thought was a slight in a Blog of Helios of one of my heroes, Abbie Hoffman. Yes, for those of you keeping score at home, Ken is the ever-outspoken helios. He and I started exchanging e-mails afterward, discussing — among other things — how to get GNU/Linux (thank you) in front of everyday people who would benefit from being out from under the thumb of Microsoft’s monopoly.

A result of these discussions is our partnership in HeliOS Solutions, where I do what he does in Texas on the West Coast, down to initiating a Komputers4Kids program in Felton. Another result is the project called Lindependence 2008, which we had discussed ad nauseum starting late last summer and had refined through the fliter of The Tux Project in the meantime.

So if you were to tell me a few years ago that I’d be teaming up with a Army vet on a project to save the digital realm for FOSS, I would have laughed myself into a new pair of underwear. If you were to tell Ken that he’d be teaming up with a tree-hugging, pony-tailed hippie, he’d probably have the same reaction.

Yet here we are, and that’s where we should be: United for the operating system, whatever we choose to call it, and united for the promotion of FOSS programs that work as well, and in some cases better, than proprietary software it should replace.

If our partnership is a testament to anything, it shows that promoting GNU/Linux and FOSS transcends background, upbringing and politics. In fact, it even transcends sports in general and, as much as I hate to admit it, baseball in particular.

(And, Ken, Texas did too cheat in the Rose Bowl . . . )

[FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero runs HeliOS Solutions West in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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