EOF - Coding in Pixels
My parents were old-school. Literally. My mother (born 1913) started teaching at age 19 in a one-room schoolhouse in rural North Dakota, where she grew up. My father (born 1908) learned carpentry from his father (born 1863) and taught me as well. I also absorbed a value both my parents shared. “Make yourself useful”, they said, as often as they saw my sister or me failing to do that.
Respect for usefulness gave me a special appreciation for Linux, as well as for free and open-source code. Usefulness is why most free and open-source code gets written in the first place. It's also what makes that code valuable. “The use value of a program is its economic value as a tool, a productivity multiplier”, Eric Raymond writes (catb.org/esr/writings/homesteading/magic-cauldron/ar01s03.htm). Elsewhere (catb.org/esr/writings/homesteading/cathedral-bazaar/ar01s02.html), he adds, “Every good work of software starts by scratching a developer's personal itch.” And, “Good programmers know what to write. Great ones know what to rewrite (and reuse).”
I've never made myself useful as a programmer. As fate has it, the only code I know is Morse. (Well, there's HTML, which I don't think counts much more than Morse does.) My skills with electronics, such as they are, were developed in my days as a ham radio operator, in the earliest 1960s. I was a kid then, building radio things and cultivating a lifelong obsession with devices that transmit, receive or both. For a while in my early adult life, that obsession got me work manning radio station transmitters and doing site studies for new FM stations. But I went on to other careers, and almost none of what I knew about broadcasting many decades ago is of practical use now, even in what's left of the broadcast field.
The other practical science I learned while young was darkroom chemistry. That came out of my work as a newspaper photographer, around the turn of the 1970s. Today, none of my old darkroom skills (pushing, burning, dodging and so on) have much leverage. My skills as a photographer, however, have only improved since I first picked up a digital camera about six years ago. At first, I mostly shot candid photos of people, since that was my specialty back when I did newspaper work. Then, after Flickr came along, I found I could do something much more useful. I could put up pictures that others could reuse.
That wasn't the main idea behind Flickr, but it was the idea behind Flickr's base code infrastructure, which was built from the ground up on Linux. It was also the idea behind giving users a choice of Creative Commons licenses for each of their pictures. I was familiar with Creative Commons before I started posting photos on Flickr, but I hadn't had personal experience with Creative Commons' effects. Flickr gave me that, in spades. What I discovered was that many of my pictures were proving useful, mostly as visuals in Wikipedia articles. That mattered far more to me than popularity or remuneration.
As of today (mid-August 2010), I have more than 36,000 photos on Flickr. All carry Creative Commons licenses that permit reuse and remixing. Most of them are captioned or tagged, making them easy to find when searching for one of their subjects. In last June's EOF, I told the story of how some of my winter shots ended up serving as wallpaper for NBC's 2010 Winter Olympics coverage. That was cool, but far cooler is seeing 153 of my photos show up in Wikimedia Commons (commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Search&search=doc+searls), through no additional effort of my own. Some shots are of people (including Eric. S. Raymond, Nat Friedman and Guido van Rossum). But most shots are of places I've seen out the windows of airplanes. These include a town in Nebraska, a lake in Norway, an island in Scotland's Outer Hebrides, a lava field in the Grand Canyon, salt ponds in San Francisco Bay and a glacier in Greenland. Nearly all of them illustrate at least one Wikipedia article. Some illustrate many. For example, a shot of the spiky white fabric roof of Denver International Airport shows up in 17 different articles across 13 language versions.
I think of each photo as a potential code patch to our body of common knowledge, not as a work of art. If they make themselves useful, then I've done the same.
Doc Searls is Senior Editor of Linux Journal. He is also a fellow with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and the Center for Information Technology and Society at UC Santa Barbara.
Doc Searls is Senior Editor of Linux Journal
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
Free to Linux Journal readers.View Now!
|The Firebird Project's Firebird Relational Database||Jul 29, 2016|
|Stunnel Security for Oracle||Jul 28, 2016|
|SUSE LLC's SUSE Manager||Jul 21, 2016|
|My +1 Sword of Productivity||Jul 20, 2016|
|Non-Linux FOSS: Caffeine!||Jul 19, 2016|
|Murat Yener and Onur Dundar's Expert Android Studio (Wrox)||Jul 18, 2016|
- The Firebird Project's Firebird Relational Database
- Stunnel Security for Oracle
- My +1 Sword of Productivity
- Non-Linux FOSS: Caffeine!
- Managing Linux Using Puppet
- SUSE LLC's SUSE Manager
- Murat Yener and Onur Dundar's Expert Android Studio (Wrox)
- Doing for User Space What We Did for Kernel Space
- Google's SwiftShader Released
- SuperTuxKart 0.9.2 Released
With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide