Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Setting up a conference: Part I - Determining Theme, Time and Place

Mar 30, 2011 GMT

 I am often invited to small and medium sized Free and Open Source Software events, and I enjoy going to them. Some of these events have been taking place for almost a decade, happening every year without interruption. Others happen only one or two times, then fade from view. Some suffer a stillbirth, and never make it to the first year. Sometimes people ask my advice on their event, how to make it better, or even how to get it off the ground in the first place. Often this advice is asked a few months before the time planned for the event, and that is often too late. Or people ask me how to recruit people to help them with the event after they have exhausted themselves by...
Are Companies Evil?

Mar 29, 2011 GMT

Lately I have been seeing blog posts and hearing statements where (if I had to boil them down to an appropriate theme) seem to be along the lines of “all companies are evil”.The authors of these statements are not quite that strong in their words, but the tone of their articles loudly questions various things that "all" companies do, and usually in a very negative way.I must admit that I sometimes offer the opinion that one or two particular companies are “evil”, but I believe I am very selective in my choices, and for the most part I believe that companies “do good”. Companies produce things for customers, employ people, and for the most part are generally...
A Truly Small Conference

Mar 29, 2011 GMT

 On Saturday, April 2nd I will be attending a small conference at Worcester State University in Worcester, Massachusetts in the United States, the Northeast GNU/Linux Fest. The conference will be a single day, lasting from 10:30 in the morning until 3 P.M. in the afternoon. It will have a single track, four speakers and be oriented toward a student audience (although anyone is invited). The entry fee is “free”, but for thirty dollars a person can “support” the conference and get a “free” T-shirt. If you want to be an exhibitor, 30 dollars will get you a table and electricity, if needed. I did not even know about this conference until a couple of months ago, but...
Off Topic: Mom&Pop(TM) - the passing of Marian Rhoda (nee Burns) Hall

Mar 11, 2011 GMT

Mom&Pop(TM) were married in Trenton, New Jersey on June 27th, 1942, Pop was a 21 year-old graduate from Luscombe's School of Aeronautics fresh from upstate New York and Mom was a graduate of the business program of New Jersey's high schools, barely 19 years old at the time. Thus started a sixty-eight year commitment of love.They moved to Baltimore, Maryland to build airplanes at Glenn L. Martin in the war effort of WW II. Rubber for car tires was a dream, so they rode bicycles to work. Not having any money for furniture, they slept in sleeping bags on the floor until they could afford a bed, but after they bought that bed they shared it for over sixty-eight years, except for a week...
CeBIT in Hannover, Germany: the trade show I hate to love

Feb 20, 2011 GMT

With over 4000 exhibiting companies from 68 countries, over 5000 journalists from 66 countries, and 340,000 attendees CeBIT is the world's largest trade show for computers and telephony.CeBIT is also different from other trade shows because it tends to be more “business to business” and “vendor to vendor”, where large opportunities are discussed and deals are created over a beer. More on the beer later!CeBIT is so big, and has so many people attending, that often exhibitors have to stay in private homes rather than hotels, due to lack of hotel space, and if you stay too far away from the actual fairground, it may take you hours slowly moving in traffic to get to your booth....
Rest in Peace, Kenneth Harry Olsen

Feb 07, 2011 GMT

 I just learned that Kenneth Olsen, one of the founders of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), died on February 6th, 2011 at the age of 84. From now on I will refer to him in this article as “KO”, as did most people who worked at DEC. At DEC no one had to ask who you were talking about when you said “KO”. Readers of my blogs and columns know of my very long association with DEC. It started in 1969 when I was a college student, and one of the first computers I ever programmed was DEC's PDP-8. I taught myself how to program the PDP-8 in machine and assembler language based on the information from two paperback books that Digital published at the time. Each book cost five...
RTFM: It is not just for computers

Jan 31, 2011 GMT

 Some friends of mine own a consulting company with about twenty employees. Every once in a while they buy “something nice” for the common area used by all the employees, and very recently it was an automatic coffee maker. This is not just any coffee maker, but a very sophisticated machine that can either use ground coffee OR it can grind the coffee beans and put them directly into the brewing cycle. The machine can also heat and froth the milk for cappuccino, make small or large cups of coffee, and allow all sorts of adjustments for weaker or stronger coffee. The number of buttons on the front is only slightly less than you would find in the cockpit of a Boeing 747...

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