Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Brazil: Free and Open Source Culture Is Economics, Not Politics

May 05, 2016 GMT

Over the years people have accused Free and Open Source Culture (FOSC) as being a “religion”. Other people have used FOSC as a political tool, assigning the advocacy of FOSC to one political party; usually the “left”, “liberal” or (as some people call them) “progressive” party.FOSC is none of these. It is an economic model just like “Communism”, “Socialism” (yes, those are two different things) or “Capitalism”.People also tend to forget that economic models are usually never “pure”. One of my favorite sayings is that “unbridled capitalism is almost as bad as unbridled communism”, and that typically a good mix of economic models is better than...
Raspberry Pie Zero: Just chill a bit.

Nov 27, 2015 GMT

My friend Álvaro Justen showed me yesterday the announcement about the Raspberry PI Zero (hereafter just known as “Zero”), which is selling for 5 USD, and is actually included for free on the MagPI magazine that sells in Great Britain.I take off my hat (again) to the Raspberry Pi people for creating such a computer at such a low price point, and while they have already manufactured "tens of thousands" of the units, in most cases the Zero was sold out "over night" (or in some cases, even faster).Everyone hears the words "five dollars" (like "Free Software" or "Free Beer") and they are flabbergasted with the small price for a reasonably...
Design a Micro-Data Center: Win 10000 US dollars

Apr 09, 2015 GMT

For a couple of years now I have been interested in small, low-power, single-board computers. First they were interesting as “Thin clients” or “Media Centers” or other stand-alone uses. I used units like the Beagle Bone Black, the UDOO, and others, testing out their capabilities.Then along came the Raspberry Pi and a whole world began to open up of people building different things. One of the projects that interested me was building a “high performance computing (HPC) system” out of Raspberry Pis.Unfortunately I did not think the initial Raspberry Pi Model B was that interesting for “HPC”. The processor was single core, fairly slow (by HPC standards) and the overhead of...
"Open" is as "Open" Does: Parsing an announcement

Feb 23, 2015 GMT

One of the great things about studying compiler theory is that you learn a lot about avoiding ambiguity in language. Computer languages should not be ambiguous, since there is little time for the compiler or the computer to come back and ask “did you really mean that”?Unfortunately this is not always the case with native languages, particularly English, as can be seen by the simple phrase:“96Boards is the first open hardware specification....”which appeared on the webpage. Immediately someone in the Open Hardware community pounced on this and declared that the first board that met the specification was not “Open” because the manufacturer had not published the...
What Makes a Man? - What did maddog study for a career in computer science?

Jan 15, 2015 GMT

I was recently asked by a fifteen year-old Brazilian friend of mine, Samuel Flores Moraes, what courses I took in school that influenced my profession. This is a very good question for a young man to ask, so I thought I would take the time to answer him in my blog.From an early age I have always loved reading. I read a lot of books, both fiction and non-fiction.I also liked taking things apart to see how they worked. Some things I took apart and could not re-assemble, such as an old mechanical clock that once belonged to my grandparents. Fortunately for me the clock was no longer in use and was not a keepsake, so my parents were not too upset that it ended up in pieces.My father also...
When Pigs Fly

Nov 14, 2014 GMT

Several people have asked on their Facebook pages what I think about Microsoft's president first announcing that Microsoft loves Open Source, and then announcing that .Net will be “Open Source”. I suppose that these people expected me to start singing “Kumbaya”, and hugging the closest Microsoft representative I could find. Instead of answering that same question from so many pundits in so many places, I will answer it here.I think my feelings run somewhere between “When pigs fly” and “When Hell Freezes Over” will Microsoft embrace the true spirit of Open Source, much less Free Software.I will admit that some of my feelings are historical, and perhaps relate to the...
I will never again talk about the benefits of Free Software

Sep 17, 2014 GMT

I have been talking about using “Free Software” for the past twenty years, and the equivalent of “Open Source” even longer. Many times I have had people ask me, “Why do you use Free Software?”So I patiently tell them all the reasons why I use Free Software. The ability to see exactly what the code does and how it works. The ability to apply patches right away and not have to wait for “Patch Tuesday”, or “Critical Fix Wednesday” or any of the other “days” that some closed-source company has decided to put out all their bug fixes.I (for the 10 thousandth time) explain how I do not have to abandon perfectly good hardware because some vendor has decided not to support...

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