Paw Prints: Observations, News and Musings on Free Software


Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Jun 11, 2008 GMT
Jon maddog Hall

Last night a storm moved through the area where I live. For the past several days we had record high temperatures for this time of year, but when I heard the trees rustling and saw the flashes of lightning, I knew that a cold front was coming and the temperatures would drop to something tolerable. When I was very young my father taught me to understand the changing weather, and to know what to expect afterwards.

Today as I sit here writing my first Blog for Linux New Media, I remember the lessons my father taught me, and which I have tried to apply my entire life. Observe what is happening, try to understand why it works that way, change it if you can and if you feel it will make things better. If you can not change what is happening, accept it and move on. Fortunately there are many things we can change, and Free Software is an example of movement in the right direction.

Another trait I practiced in life is to try and make complex concepts easy to understand. For some reason many people like to take simple concepts and make them difficult to understand. I have tried to reverse that trend over the last 40 years in both industrial and academic experience.

What I am going to write about? For the most part the answer is simple: "Free Software". From time to time I may stray into "Free Hardware" or do linkages with other "Freedom" issues as the opportunity exists. I will also try to make the "Freedom" issues of "Free Software" into examples that people can understand and utilize in explaining those issues to others.

I often travel around the world talking about Free Software (in Spanish it is "Software Libre", in Brazilian Portuguese it is "Software Livre"), so additionally I will be talking about the things I see in these various countries and at various events. I may interview people I meet who are doing interesting things, and write about them here. I will try to seek out the lesser-known people and projects and give them visibility.

I am sure I will find interesting projects to blog about, and even projects that simply use Free Software to do amazing things. Although I come from a technical background, I am also a business person, so I will probably blog about how some businesses either make or save money by the use of Free Software.

You will find that I sometimes tell a story from my past, and try to link it to events of today. I feel that if we do not understand the past we are doomed to repeat it and that elements of the past are (sometimes needlessly) affecting the results of today. A lot of the criticism that the Free Software community has for large corporations is based on solid rationale that might have been correct in the 1980s and 1990s, but perhaps could use some review today. "This is no longer the era of sailing ships..." has passed through my lips more times than I can count, and open discussion can mend many rifts.

The blog entries will be typically short, and on the average of two a week. Do not look for them every day, as I often am traveling or sometimes doing other work. On the other hand, you may find five or six "mini-bloggings" on the same day when I am at an event. Longer topics will typically be covered in a monthly column or articles for one of Linux New Media's various magazines.
Finally, I do not expect that everyone will enjoy reading my blog. Nor do I expect that people who enjoy my writings will agree with everything I say. I realized a long time ago that with over six billion people on the planet you will have at least one or two (and maybe more) people that will not agree with you. This is fine, I have a thick skin and am always willing to hear the other side when stated in a clear, calm and civilized manner. Perhaps I will end up agreeing with you, or at least agreeing to disagree.

Finally, this is your blog too. If there is something that you would like me to write about such as how to convince your [friends|children|boss|spouse] to use Free Software, you can reach me at pawprints AT linuxpromagazine DOT com
Warmest regards,

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