When I wrote my last blog item, I didn’t expect the kind of overwhelming response that I got, for which I am truly grateful. I also want to make sure that credit is given where credit is due: James Eriksen — merelyjim — of Fort Worth, Texas, wrote the original blog post and posted the same in the CrunchBang Talk forum, and I picked up the proverbial ball and ran with it. Thanks, James.
Also, just so you know I also walk the walk of the talk I talk, I had donated some money to a few FOSS projects that are near and dear to my heart. The amount, though stretching a budget that had a small surplus, is not that significant and I’m not aiming to have the spotlight shine on me. But I am proud to admit that I practice what I preach.
So when Ubuntu/Canonical earlier this month asked for a handout, I cut out the middleman and gave directly to Debian instead. You can do the same by going to the Software in the Public Interest site, where there are a whole host of worthy projects that require funding.
Also, to my distro of choice — CrunchBang — I gave a bit. Philip Newborough does an outstanding job and the team of forum denizens answering a tsunami of questions on a daily basis is a textbook case of how FOSS projects should work.
Beth Lynn Eicher’s Africa project got a donation as well — and to those who are still thinking about giving, she could use some help. She’s overseeing a project to get Edubuntu-based machines to schools in Ghana, and she may have to cut her trip short if more funds are not forthcoming.
From the time my daughter was in kindergarten, she was raised on Tux Paint, and for years we used that program. I would even credit the development of her current artistic talent to her use of the program. It was long past time I made a donation to New Breed Software and my apologies to Bill Kendrick and his crew for taking so long while they produced over the last decade some of the greatest educational software on the planet.
The Free Software Foundation has been getting $10 a month from me since 2006. I don’t always agree with the direction the FSF is taking and I find their leadership lacking in many ways, but I do believe in their principles. I also joined the Open Source Initiative when they opened the organization up for membership several months ago, and clearly I don’t see a conflict in belonging to both organizations.
Windows 8 will be unleashed, Kraken-like, on an awaiting public on Oct. 26, which is this Friday. For US$79.99 — let’s just round that up to US$80 — one can get the latest version of the Windows operating system which, by many reports, is not ideal yet not as bad a some of the other products Redmond has forced upon the public in the past.
A CrunchBang user with the handle merelyjim posted this thread on the CrunchBang forum under the title, “No thanks. I got Linux” where he thinks that this $80 can be better spent elsewhere — like on your current distro or your favorite FOSS program.
I urge you to read the full text on the link or read merelyjim’s original blog item, but I’ll let merelyjim drive here:
“It’s hard to express what Linux has done for me. I’ve learned more with Linux than I ever did with Windows. I’ve been part of dynamic communities that have engaged in passionate arguments, clever discussions, and crazy flame wars. Like family, you take the crazy (um… that would be me) with the funny. Instead of just allowing me to ‘try and make things work’ on my own, there were those who tried to nudge me along the right path, even when I didn’t want to see it. I have undying gratitude for those who were willing to share their time and experience with me, even though I never knew them in real life.
“So, on October 26th, 2012, instead of giving Microsoft $79.99 for Windows 8 upgrade, I’m going to donate the same amount to the Linux-distro I use the most.
“I invite you to join me in doing this.
“I don’t really care which distro; we’re all family. If you’d prefer, donate to a specific Open Source project, instead. As long as you give something that lets Paypal, Amazon, of Flattr know that something’s going on that day. If you can’t give monetarily, at least spread the word.
“I want the Linux community to show Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Oracle that we matter, we care for each other, and there are a lot more of us than they think. If you contribute, I hope you’ll e-mail or tweet whomever manufactured your machines so they’ll know you use their hardware running a Linux kernel.”
Amen to that, merelyjim.
There are a wide variety of projects you can donate to in the FOSS realm. Start with your distro of choice. Use a particular FOSS program often and find it useful? Most programs have donation links. There are even some projects that are not software related that deserve special mention: REGLUE, formerly the HeliOS Project, provides Linux-based computers to underprivileged kids in the Austin, Texas, area; Partimus puts Linux-based computers in schools in the San Francisco Bay Area; and one project that I find important is Beth Lynn Eicher’s effort to bring Edubuntu-based computers to schools in Ghana.
For those who do not have money to donate — been there, done that — you can always donate time, which in many cases can be more valuable than currency. If you program, there are places where you can pitch in on distros and FOSS programs across the board. Don’t program? Don’t worry — many projects have needs beyond the 0’s and 1’s that include things like documentation (for the writers out there), design (for the artists), translation (for the multilingual) . . . the list goes on. If you have a special skill set, programming or non-programming, there’s something for you to do.
Got some ideas on where to donate? Post them in the comments.
Warning: Very little of this blog item deals with free/open source software. In fact, with the exception of some historical references or discussions in the periphery, there’s little here on FOSS. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it; on the contrary, you might welcome the break from my tilting at windmills and read something slightly more important.
This blog deals more with the human condition, or specifically Ken Starks’ human condition, and baseball, as well as why sometimes you need to step outside the proverbial batter’s box to get some perspective.
As many of you already know — and for those of you keeping score at home — back in the spring Ken and I planned to go to the Astros-Giants series in Houston at the end of August. Let me back up: Ken and I have been planning to go to a ballgame since 2008, since we teamed up to organize the Lindependence Project, and never got around to it until now. Last week, he and I went to Minute Maid Park to watch the three-game series and, as one might expect, the Giants swept.
That’s all the gloating I’m going to do. Honest.
As many of you also already know, Ken’s about to go under the knife for larynx cancer surgery, which many of you heard about through FOSS channels; and I would be remiss if I didn’t thank you for pitching in like most of you did. As far as the trip was concerned, we were touch-and-go on whether Ken was able to make the trip due to the fact that he may have had a quick reservation for a table for one at the hospital where his surgery will take place. But finally he was cleared for travel, and we ended up watching the series at Houston.
Let me tell you something about Ken that he relayed to me in conversation between innings, and I don’t think he’d mind if I mention it. I thought the topic was somewhat obvious to me, yet I think Ken may feel it bears repeating.
It is this: Some may be under the impression that he’s down for the count; that he’s lying in bed waiting for death. Clearly he’s not.
I got the impression that he finds it irksome that some may think he is somehow disabled or on the fast track to becoming an invalid. To say Ken has a lot on his plate at the moment is an understatement: In juggling the news of his possible mortality with negotiating the maze of the American health care system, all while continuing his day-to-day life, I think Ken wants folks to understand that he’s still standing.
Whether it’s just his Texan nature or just the fact he’s an incredibly tough guy (and I’d want him on my side in any fight), Ken’s continuing to do what he’s always been doing while he waits for the next step on his fight against cancer. Of course, that would include getting underprivileged kids computers with Linux on them, and promoting FOSS with the same passion and zeal, just as he has been doing all along. In short, he’s just getting things done; not for the accolades or for the fanfare, but because a.) it’s what he does, and b.) it’s the right thing to do.
No, he hasn’t got the strength in his hands that he used to, and there’s a self-consciousness about “the PVC pipe sticking out of my throat” that a bandana conceals. He speaks in a hushed tone now, or what he refers to as his “Godfather voice;” a voice that may even be more quiet in post-surgery. But with each time that Ken gets floored by chemo or radiation treatment — let alone by surgery — it seems he gets up off the proverbial mat, dusts himself off and is asks, “Is that all you got?”
Today, Ken blogged about the Linus Torvalds-Miguel de Icaza dustup when I’m sure he’s had some other, more weighty, things to think about. During my visit to Houston, we talked a lot about how many kids were being helped in Taylor, north of Austin, by Reglue (formerly the HeliOS Project) and how this is going to continue as he recovers. In other words, it was pretty much business as usual with a couple of hurdles in the near future to overcome.
Some of you already know this story: Ken and I would probably have never met, let alone be on speaking terms, if it wasn’t for FOSS. I wrote about it here before he and I actually met in Felton for Lindependence in 2008. Videographer Christian Einfeldt of San Francisco filmed much of Lindependence that year and did an interview with Ken and me that you can find on archive.org if you do a search for Lindependence, so you can see the Mutt and Jeff, the Laurel and Hardy, or the Abbott and Costello first-hand in unedited form.
I’m proud and honored to know Ken and I’m proud and honored to consider him a close friend and a teammate in the wide world of FOSS. And if he gets on base, you can bet I’m going to drive him in for a run, just as I know he’d do the same for me. It’s what players on the same team do.
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.
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.
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?