Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

RIP Dennis

Oct 13, 2011 GMT

Over the weekend of October 8th a giant of computer science died. Like a lot of really great people in the field, he died without a lot of fanfare, most of his friends and colleagues finding out about his death several days later. I heard about his death last night from a post by Rob Pike, and while I wanted to blog about it last night, I found I could not, so I waited until this morning. I sit here typing with tears streaming down my face.Dr. Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie, known as “Dennis” to many people and “dmr” to many more, passed away the weekend of October 8th after a long illness. I will not discuss here the many accomplishments of the man, as there will be much discussion...
Luis Iván Cuende García demonstrates the power of Free Software and the determination of a fifteen year old

Sep 26, 2011 GMT

Luis and an old man A few months ago I went to Campus Party in Spain. I have blogged about Campus Party before, so I will not spend a lot of time and space here on that topic.I will tell you about a young man, Luis Iván Cuende García, who was fifteen years old when I met him but who had released his own distribution of Linux called “Asturix”. He, his father and his friend Ricardo had all traveled to Campus Party at the invitation of the Campus Party management.The first thing his father said to me, quietly and as an aside, what that “Luis works very hard at creating Asturix”.I had assumed that already. What I did not know at...
Supercomputing in Paradise

Aug 28, 2011 GMT

Imagine working in one of the most beautiful places in the world, high on a bluff in front of the magnificent Flatirons in Boulder, Colorado. Also imagine working in pure research dedicated to helping us understand the weather and climate that make up our environment, and finally imagine working with some of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. You might imagine that you are working for the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), and you would be right.I was fortunate enough to speak in front of a group of researchers there, and before my talk they took me on a tour of their computing facilities and showed me a bit of what they are doing in research.First of all, NCAR...
Ohio Linux Fest (OLF): September 9-11th, Columbus Ohio

Aug 24, 2011 GMT

 The Ohio Linux Fest (OLF) is the weekend of September 9th, 10th and 11th in Columbus, Ohio. Originally a “one day (Saturday) Fest”, it has been expanding to include a set of activities on Friday and Certification Exams for both LPI (LPIC-1and BSDA certifications, as well as a “Diversity in Open Source Workshop” on Sunday. I am also happy to note that the LPIC-1 and LPIC-2 exams will be heavily discounted to $99. each, although the LPIC 301 exam will be $219. On Friday OLF has a set of training activities entitled “OLF Institute” which requires a “Professional Pass” to attend. However there are also Friday events which are free and open to all, such as the...
Why I Support Free Software

Aug 14, 2011 GMT

 One of the great pleasures of helping to represent the Free Software community is to meet a lot of young people who have done some amazing things. Often in my talks I show a slide of some of the young people I have met in the fifteen years since I met Linus Torvalds and became involved with the GNU/Linux system. Of course a lot of them are no longer considered “young”, as they are in their mid-thirties or even (cough) approaching forty years old. However, when they started their various projects a lot of them were either in university or still in high school, and some even earlier than that. I still remember the Texas parents of a young man, aged twelve, who stood...
Computer: How far is it to the next good interface?

Aug 09, 2011 GMT

 I am a big fan of Star Trek. I do not consider myself a “Trekie”, but I do enjoy the show and thought a lot about what the writers put into it. For example, on Star Trek the interaction with the computer was not only through the one interface of keyboard and mouse. If you were walking down the corridor and you had a simple question to ask you would hit your communicator badge and simply say: “Computer, how far to the next galaxy?” In which case the computer might answer: “The next galaxy is four hundred light years away and the ship can get there in four hours at warp factor nine”. Simple question, simple answer. [Trekies, please do not...
Birthday Ramblings - Teaching Students Of All Ages About Life

Aug 07, 2011 GMT

 Tonight is the eve of the anniversary of my sixty-first birthday. It is late at night and some birthday well-wishers on the other side of the world are already sending me birthday greetings. This has been a hard year for me, with both my mother and father having died within a few months of each other, so tonight I have been going through some of my Orkut and Facebook accounts looking at some of my friends in each. Many of the people in these “networking sites” I have never met, and some I have met only briefly. Others I know quite well, from either past jobs, past conferences or past associations. Many I only talk to through email or (even rarer occasions) telephone...
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