The Latest

Seeing yellow over color printer tracking devices

A series of encodings on printouts from color laser printers to discourage counterfeiting? At first, the idea sounds like the urban legend from a couple of decades ago that claimed you could hear Satanic messages when you play vinyl records backwards. Yet the evidence from the Electronic Frontier Foundation is that the encodings are embedded in color printers from all major manufacturers. Moreover, the issues raised by the practice have caused Free Software Foundation director Benjamin Mako Hill and other members of the Computing Culture group at the MIT Media Lab to begin the Seeing Yellow campaign to stop the practice. more>>

The Real Meaning of GNU GPLv3

Now that the final version of the GNU General Public Licence version 3 has been released, the in-depth analysis of its implications can begin. Two of the first commentaries to be published have come from the legal world, and there are doubtless many more being prepared for purely internal use within software companies wondering whether to adopt the new licence. But important as both the legal and commercial details are, I believe the true significance of the GPLv3 lies elsewhere. more>>

What's new in the Ruby World: rocaml

Last week, Mauricio Fernandez announced a new Ruby to OCaml bridge that he’s working on, called rocaml. With the growing interest in functional languages in the Ruby world, this seemed like the sort of thing I needed to talk to him about, so I sent off a quick set of questions, and this is what I heard back1. more>>

Troubleshooting Linux Audio, Part 1

I have a friend who has had nothing but nightmares result from his attempts at setting up the fabled low-latency high-performance Linux audio system. In sympathy with his plight I present here a primer in three parts for troubleshooting common and uncommon problems with the Linux sound system. Parts 1 & 2 will present programs used to analyze and configure your audio setup. Part 3 will list the most frequently encountered problems along with their suggested solutions.

This week, Part 1 introduces some useful system analysis tools and utilities with graphic user interfaces.

more>>

Options in OpenOffice.org Calc

Like other OpenOffice.org applications, Calc has several dozen options in how it is formatted and operates. These options are available from Tools -> Options -> OpenOffice.org Calc. Thanks to OpenOffice.org's habit of sharing code between applications, some of the tabs for these options resemble those found in other OpenOffice.org applications. more>>

The Federal Government Sanctioned Spam Trap

Would you like to buy a mailing list and start a Broadcast Campaign? Then just put some kind of message at the bottom of the email that says unsubscribe or opt-out and a physical address like 201 Mullview Place, Bigfoot, Montana 59106. Make sure you have a subject line and a header. more>>

What's new with Ruby

Wow! There have been big events in the Ruby universe recently. I’ll be writing about several of them over the next couple of weeks, but today I want to touch on one that gets pretty deeply into Ruby. more>>

Welcome to Open Source 2.0

There is no doubt that 3 February 1998 was a historic day. For it was then, at a meeting in Mountain View, that a small group led by Eric Raymond came up with the term “open source

Re: 32-bits, CLAM, and TAPESTREA

During the construction of my 64-bit box I collected enough spare parts to build another machine, one destined for a 32-bit Linux system. Last week I finally got that machine built and running with a sparkling new version of the Jacklab Audio Distribution (JAD). I've been using JAD in its alpha releases, but the new box is running the first beta version.

Various improvements have been made in JAD since my earlier review, including the adoption of a 2.6.19 kernel optimized for superb realtime performance. Since I've profiled the system in an earlier blog entry I decided to briefly review some of the more unusual software included with the distribution or built with the help of its development packages. JAD contains more than 70 applications for audio and video composition and production, most of which are at their most recent release versions, so come join me in a look at some less typical sound & music software running on one of the best of the new breed of multimedia-optimized Linux distributions.

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Should We Fight for Ogg Vorbis?

I'm a big fan of Richard Stallman and his work – even though, the first time I interviewed him, he proceeded to criticise my questions before answering them, not a journalistic experience I'd had before. Without his vision and sheer bloody-mindedness in the face of indifference and outright hostility, we would not have the vast array of free software we enjoy today. more>>

Why are privacy and advertising strange bedfellows?

In A Race to the Bottom: Privacy Ranking of Internet Service Companies, Privacy International spray-paints the façades of landmark companies that line today's Main Street on the Web. The painted colors are assessments of each company's performance on privacy issues. Though the rankings are colorful, what they say isn't pretty.

Nobody in the "interim rankings" (.pdf) gets the top (green) mark for "Privacy-friendly and privacy enhancing". The bottom (black) mark, for "Comprehensive consumer surveillance & entrenched hostility to privacy", goes to just one company: Google. more>>

For Aspiring Young Writers: A Linux Book on a Best Sellers List

Four years ago, I bought a book entitled, "Mac OSX: The Missing Manual" and noticed it had reached the #1 best sellers slot at Amazon. I remember wondering how an operating system with 3% of the PC Desktop market could sell enough books to rank #1. Then, I realized there I was buying one too. I didn't use a Mac, but my wife bought one and needed to learn this new fangled UNIX desktop. The point? The Missing Manual served a big need - big enough to warrant a #1 best seller. more>>

A guide to using PDFs on GNU/Linux

Although GNU/Linux has long supported postscript format, full support for the related PDF file format has been longer in arriving. Today, however, PDF support is finally starting to equal what is available on other operating systems. Whether you are printing, editing, or viewing PDF files, you now have the choice of a variety of applications on both the command line and the desktops. more>>

More Regional Ruby Conference News

In my last blog entry, I mentioned the upcoming regional Ruby conferences but I overlooked something important about the MountainWest RubyConf. more>>

Catching Up With JOST

Three months ago I introduced my readers to a new system for hosting VST plugins compiled natively for Linux. That system has continued its development and has become a mainstay in the Studio Dave Linux audio arsenal. Here's an update on the system's recent incarnations, complete with the usual multimedia extravaganza of text, screenshots, and sounds. more>>

Why Novell Must Not Crash and Burn

Not since SCO has there been a company so reviled by the open source community as Novell following its deal with Microsoft. Already there are some clear signs of the negative effects of that anger: senior coders have left the company; Novell has posted a loss for the most recent quarter; and there are calls for a boycott of Novell products – to say nothing of imminent changes to the GNU GPL that might well nullify the entire Novell-Microsoft deal. Some people are rubbing their hands in glee at the thought of Novell crashing and burning completely, but such a development could actually turn out to be one of the worst things to happen to free software. more>>

An open source approach to fixing public media funding

Christopher Lydon's RadioOpenSource is one of the best programs on radio. It's not about open source code, but about radio modeled on open source values and methods. As the show puts it, Open Source has become one of the most talked-about experiments in public media — a civil union of online and on-air communities that trust each other to talk about pretty much anything.

Right now the project is The looking for funding directly from listeners and other participants. So the rescue ships are approaching the harbor, and still the wolf is at the door.

If you listen to the show, you're one of those ships. If you write code, you can float a lot more boats — not just for one show, but for all of public media (a term that encompasses public radio, TV, podcasting and live online streaming).

What we need is an open source project, or code put together from a number of existing projects, to reduce the friction involved in paying for public media — and at the same time to increase the opportunities for participation by listeners, producers and everybody else with something to contribute. more>>

Getting beyond Brad's Paradox

The always provocative Brad Templeton, who hung out with a large cadre of geeks at the Internet Identity Workshop (IIW, or ) last week, has some cautions about new identity systems, even if they are all "user-centric". These cautions lie in a paradox: "The easier it is to give somebody ID information, the more often it will be done. And the easier it is to give ID information, the more palatable it is to ask for, or demand it." The italics are his.

Here he hits on the problem of market power asymmetries (vendors strong, customers weak) that have been with us for the whole Industrial Age, and are with us still. I think we have a way to overcome those, and that Brad's Paradox may provide exactly the conceptual hurdle we need to see before we can make progress.

So let's start with Brad's explanation: more>>

Will we see any more Linux System Administration books in the future?

A reliable source says the days of Linux sysadmin books have ended. If you can barely sell 5,000 copies, then why bother? Programming books continue to sell at a fast pace, so you can guess where job demand in IT has gone. more>>

Hey Microsoft, Sue Me First

I bought the domain name HeyMicrosoftSueMe.org at the suggestion of Marcel Gagné after posting a blog entry on the topic. The idea was to ask Linux users to join me in calling Microsoft's bluff. Let's get the patent infringement claims tried in court and get this over with. Several people talked me out of it. Fortunately, a lawyer named Christian Einfeldt had the same idea and followed through. Here's a copy of Marcel's entry on the topic from his own blog, with a link to the "Sue me first Microsoft list" in case you want to add your own name. Christof, if you're reading this, you're welcome to the domain name HeyMicrosoftSueMe.org. more>>

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