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Don’t fear the beard

January 27, 2011 9 comments

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During the 2010 baseball season, the San Francisco Giants — the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants (yours truly never tires of saying that) — had a slogan, “Fear the Beard.” Most of the pitching staff — relievers and closer Brian Wilson specifically — were bearded pitching machines mowing down opposing batters.

Historically speaking, the tech realm and beards have never been too far apart, at least for the men. As such, there are some in the FOSS realm who deserve special recognition for not only advancing free/open source software, but also for forsaking the razor and putting a hairy face forward.

This blog item deals with beards specifically, so those with FOSS’s most awesome goatees — like Red Hat’s Karsten Wade, freelance FOSS journalist Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier and Oregon State University Professor Carlos Jensen, all of whom would definitely get top honors in this category — aren’t included here. Sorry, guys. Same with moustaches: For example, Mark Terranova’s ‘stache belongs in any facial hair Hall of Fame; a piece of work that would easily get him membership in The Village People — and I mean that in a good way (however, truth be told, when he’s got a beard, Mark runs with the best of ‘em).

Here is a sampling of what I find are the best beards in FOSS, in no particular order other than to say that if anyone got a first prize, it would have to go to . . .

Jon ‘maddog’ Hall: Despite getting a lot of input from those who think Richard Stallman should get top billing, sorry, RMS: Maddog takes the prize as the FOSS advocate with historically the best beard in the realm, to which picture at right will attest. Or you could look up Father Christmas in the dictionary and, chances are, you’ll find maddog’s picture with the definition. Despite recently going for the Sean-Connery-as-Indiana-Jones’-Dad look (see next paragraph) to go along with the 70 or so pounds he dropped — a great thing, indeed — Hall’s beard has always been the standard of epic in the FOSS beard pantheon.

[Maddog, shown at left in his new closer cropped form, comments in response to an e-mail: "And for beards, I could NEVER understand why someone would want to put a very sharp instrument close to their throat when they are only partially awake. I have not shaved since 1969 . . . ." Also, to the youngsters out there, maddog has a message: "I am glad that you are twenty . . . I enjoy seeing your youthful energy and beauty, and some days when I wake up and I am stiff, I wish I was twenty again . . . but I only wish that for about fifteen minutes." Amen to that!]

Richard Stallman: Most people I’ve talked to about this have said, after they stopped laughing at the topic (“No, really, I’m writing on the BEARDS of FOSS . . .”), that RMS should have the top spot, and in lieu of Jon ‘maddog’ Hall’s change in appearance, they might be right. The bearded face that launched a thousand tools to make the Linux kernel run, and launched a free software movement to boot, has been the one most commonly associated with free-as-in-freedom software. Not only this, he also sidelines as a saint — if you’ve never seen the St. Ig-GNU-tius schtick, check it out. I first saw this several years ago when Stallman spoke at UC Berkeley, and it never gets old despite being bearded (and I mean that in a good way).

Timothy Budd: If you are now, or have been, a student of computer science at a university, there’s a chance you may have had a class with a textbook Timothy Budd had written. An associate professor of computer science at Oregon State University — Go Beavers! — Tim has written a dozen textbooks on object-oriented programming, data structures and Leda, a multi-paradigm programming language that yours truly admits to not understanding at all. Be that as it may, Tim’s advocacy for FOSS during his time at OSU — he has had me as well as others speak to his graduate classes on FOSS — and his healthy crop of hair on his chin garners him a spot on the list. Besides, since he is well known by his students for his use of the term “Administrivia,” he gets on the list by simple use of that bearded word alone.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols: Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols’ beard is one that most FOSS users and advocates are accustomed to seeing on a nearly daily basis when reading the latest developments in Free/Open Source Software news. Whenever there’s news to be delivered, the FOSS community can count on Steven being the one who brings it to us; not only this, usually Steven is first with the news, which should garner him the nickname “Scoop.” Now writing for ZDNet as well, Steven gets what is rightfully more exposure in writing news that’s important to us — and to everyone else, for that matter. Steven gets extra points for being a Asheville Tourists fan — the Tourists being one of the most unique mascot names for a baseball team in the country.

Me: In an unprecedented display of unabashed ego worthy of another Larry — the CEO of Oracle whom, incidentally, has what’s trying to be a beard on his face, but not doing a very good job of it (but I digress) — I like to think that my beard would rank up there among bearded FOSS titans, not because of any accomplishment of my own — OK, the Lindependence Project . . . maybe — but just by the mere fact that it grows, with Wolfman-like speed, on my face. Herein lies the story: I’m a werewolf. Just kidding — I grew first grew my beard after Jerry Garcia died in Jerry’s honor, but my family hated it. So I went back and forth between having it and not having it until making a pact with my family: Even-numbered years, a moustache; odd-numbered years, the beard.

I’ve missed a lot of people, which is where you come in: Who did I miss and why is should their beard be in the FOSS Hairy-Faced Hall of Fame?

[Photos of Jon "maddog" Hall, Timothy Budd and Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols used by permission. The photo of Richard Stallman was taken by Copyleft and appears here under the GPL and CC-Share-Alike licenses afforded by the photographer. I haven't decided to give myself permission to use my photo, but it's probably OK.]

[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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I’m baaaaaaaaack

April 30, 2010 1 comment

As I’ve said ad nauseum — Latin for “if he says that one more time, I’m going to throw up” — I only write things when I have something to say. What I have to say today is simple — I’m back.

Going through the last few months of observations, I have only this to offer:

  • Tragically, I missed LFNW: Next to the Southern California Linux Expo, Linux Fest Northwest is probably my favorite event of the year, in an area that’s definitely one of my favorite places on the planet. Heck, on their Web site leading up to the event last weekend, my head was in one of the revolving pictures — the one just after John “Mad Dog” Hall. Yes, incidentally, that is my better side. From what I am told, the event was a success. Next year, guys.
  • What’s in a name? Can I get a show of hands of folks who find the “Linux” and “GNU/Linux” naming debate as counterproductive to FOSS, in general, and to the FSF, in particular, as I do? Ah, I thought so. As an aside, Richard Stallman will be speaking at Stanford today, and if you have a chance, you should go. However, an invitation to have him come to Felton to speak at the Felton Linux User Group the following day turned into an “agreement to disagree” (at least on my part) on whether the simple term “Linux” implies that the history of Free Software starts in 1991 and that “LUG” doesn’t give credit where credit is due. Yet, I would be hard pressed to find a regular GNU/Linux user who doesn’t know GNU’s history and it’s relationship to the Linux kernel, but Stallman disagrees. But rather than speak to our group — a group which, per capita, probably own more “Free Software, Free Society” books and T-shirts than any other LUG — because in his estimation we are not “GNU-friendly” enough, San Francisco LUG posts on its mailing list an announcement that he’ll be speaking at Wordcamp in San Francisco on Saturday. And that’s fine — he can reach more people and he should be where he can get wider attention — but take a look at those less-than-GNU-friendly sponsors on the site! (Go ahead, I’ll wait).
  • So that’s what all the hubbub is about: I downloaded Ubuntu 10.04 and put it through its paces on the laptop and desktop (the Live CD only), and yep, the buttons on the left are, at first, a tad annoying and something to get used to. However, that’s minor, compared to the release itself, which is stellar. Not only this, there was an 11th hour bug where dual-booters couldn’t boot into anything other than Ubuntu — for dual-boots with Windows, I’d consider this a feature — and that was corrected before the version was released into the wild. Good work, Ubunteros.
  • [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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    Is the end near?

    October 11, 2008 4 comments

    With all the doom and gloom over the recent financial meltdown where bankers and stock speculators are making it difficult for the rest of us while getting a free ride from the government (it’s best you not get me started), you might think that this event alone would be a sign of the apocalypse.

    Nope.

    Here’s the real sign that the end is near: Richard Stallman and Larry Ellison agree on something, namely the fact that the nebulously phrased “cloud computing” is a farce.

    Late last month, the Guardian published an interview with Stallman saying, in effect that cloud computing “is a trap” and that Web-based programs like Google’s Gmail will force people to buy into locked, proprietary systems that will cost more and more over time.

    I can see that, and Stallman outlines his case in textbook Stallman throughout the article.

    However, later on in the same article, Oracle’s chief oracle Larry Ellison — reading from the article — “criticised the rash of cloud computing announcements as ‘fashion-driven’ and ‘complete gibberish’.”

    Ellison continues: “The interesting thing about cloud computing is that we’ve redefined cloud computing to include everything that we already do,” he said. “The computer industry is the only industry that is more fashion-driven than women’s fashion. Maybe I’m an idiot, but I have no idea what anyone is talking about. What is it? It’s complete gibberish. It’s insane. When is this idiocy going to stop?”

    Good question, Larry. And since now RMS and Ellison are in agreement, do you think it’s time to head for the hills?

    [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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