Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

maddog the catalyst

Dec 05, 2010 GMT

 Every once in a while something happens that makes me fairly proud of what I do. Whatever I actually do I am often not quite sure at the time and usually find out about it much later. I am proud that a few words of mine helped to start an open source development center in Soweto, Africa (one year later I found out about this), and I am proud that a talk I gave in 1999 inspired Mark Spencer to make Asterisk a FOSS project (discovered this in 2001). I am proud that I helped get Linus an Alpha processor and encouraged him to make Linux a 64-bit operating system (three-year payback on this one), and I am proud of the many students and FOSS developers and advocates that I have...
X marks the spot

Nov 30, 2010 GMT

  For the past couple of years I have been orchestrating a contest at Campus Party events in Spain, Brazil and Colombia which challenges a participant to make a video using only free software. This means that the participants have to create the video, edit the video, make the credits and produce a CD using only free software tools, and the entire presentation has to be licensed under a Creative Commons license.  The participants are given a list of possible software to use ahead of time, but they can use any software they want to use as long as it is either Free Software or Open Source. They do not know what the subject of the video will be until the first day of Campus Party,...
smaug: The firebreather

Nov 30, 2010 GMT

 I recently bought my first new laptop computer in over six years. My previous computer was a Thinkpad X31, and I purposely bought the best I could afford knowing that I would have it for a long time. I outfitted the X31 with two GB of main memory, an 80 GB disk, a docking station and a five year extended warranty. That laptop has been around the world many times, subjected to freezing cold, hot temperatures and even been dropped a couple of times (fortunately onto carpeted floors and with the power turned off). I have upgraded its disk twice (it now holds 320 GB of data) and it is still functioning fine. I did have to return it to be repaired one time (the turn-around for the...
One Ring of Trust To Bind Them All

Nov 30, 2010 GMT

 There is much discussion these days around security, most of which comes from the release of Firesheep and the “discovery” that the three “W”s of “World Wide Web” may really stand for the “Wild, Wild West”. Basically I hate the idea of needing to lock things up, hide things, and search people. There have been cultures where two poles crossed over the door of a tent meant it was “locked”, and people could leave the doors to their remote cabins unlocked to allow stranded people to find shelter in a storm, but in many places those times are past. I remember in 1977 when the researchers at Bell Labs were told to use passwords on their login accounts. Most...
No perfect resistors

Nov 30, 2010 GMT

 Recently I was watching a video that Christopher “Monty” Montgomery, the founder of the project had produced on audio and video formats. They did a good job on the video, putting it out in both WebM format and Ogg format, with subtitles in English, French, German, Portuguese (Brazil) and Russian. They even include the SRT files so other subtitle translations could be done. About position 7:36 on the video, where Monty was describing how "there is no such thing as a perfect transistor, or a perfect inductor or a perfect capacitor" , I burst into laughter. In 1972 I told my college roommate *exactly* *those* *words* while he was studying digital...
CeBIT - Free Exhibit Space Offered to FOSS projects

Nov 28, 2010 GMT

CeBIT, held in Hanover, Germany each year, is the largest IT trade show in the world. Companies come from all over the world to show their goods and services to each other, and to make deals. For several years now Linux New Media, the publishers of various Linux magazines around the world has sponsored a “Linux Park” at CeBIT.For the past three years, in the spirit of “Free and Open”, Linux New Media has offered free exhibit space to Open Source projects. This gives an excellent opportunity for projects to “show their stuff” to both “the choir” of FOSS people that stop by and to other people who are just learning about FOSS. Interested projects have about two weeks to find...
Latinoware 2010

Nov 10, 2010 GMT

 I am at Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, attending a conference called Latinoware. Of course I am seeing a few old friends and many new ones, but I am also happy to report that the facilities for Latinoware, which is held on the grounds of the Itaipu hydro-electric plant, have been upgraded to be a very comfortable conference facility. There is a good-size exhibition hall, many different rooms for the different talks, and is well laid out.  The conference attendees are even more diverse this year than past years, with people from Brazil, Paraguay, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, Uruguay and other South American countries.  Early (for me) in the morning I...

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