The Latest

Thanking our own heaven on OneWebDay

This coming Saturday (22 September) is OneWebDay, a project I'm proud to have been a part of since Susan Crawford thought it up many months before the first one last year. OneWebDay is meant as a day on which we celebrate the Web and what it does for each of us.* So I want to celebrate what the Web does, and continues to do, for me as a journalist.

The arc of my writing career is something of a parabola: a broad U-shaped valley between the time when I worked as a newspaper and magazine writer and editor and the time when I started writing on — and about — the Web, and everything that makes it good, including (and especially) Linux. more>>

Loop-based Music Composition With Linux, Pt. 1

Loop-based music composition is the practice of sequencing audio samples to create the various parts of a musical work. A sample may contain only a single event such as a bass note or cymbal crash or it may contain a measured pattern of events such as a drum beat, a guitar chord progression, or even an entire piece of music. The former type is sometimes referred to as a "one-shot" sample, while a longer sampled pattern is often simply called a loop.

A loop is usually created at a specific tempo in a precise time period (musical beats and measures) for exact concatenation with other loops. Sequencing a series of timed loops creates realistic tracks that can convince a listener that he or she is listening to a part specifically performed for the piece.

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Confessions of an unjustified sinner: Using justification in OOo Writer

When typewriters ruled the desktop, all paragraphs had a ragged right justification, with each line starting at the same position on the left, but with a variable right margin. Full justification -- lines whose left and right sides all ended in the same positions -- were the mark of professional typography, and beyond the means of the average user. more>>

Is free and open code a form of infrastructure? How about the humans who write it?

I was looking at what my friend Stephen Lewis wrote in HakPakSak a few days ago — specifically "...newspapers’ roles as public trusts and cornerstones of our informational infrastructure — i.e. sources of solid information and independent commentary essential to informed citizenry, democratic government, effective public policy, and well-functioning economies".. What this brought up for me is the notion that human beings are themselves infrastructural; especially when they are constuctive contributors to the structure we call civilization. more>>

Adding contents automatically in Calc

Spreadsheets are labor-intensive documents. Usually, their contents is entered carefully, one sheet at a time, at an input rate far below a text document. However, like most spreadsheets, OpenOffice.org has several tools for removing some of the drudgery from input. more>>

Troubleshooting Linux Audio, Part 3b

In this final section I'll present some MIDI-specific troubleshooting tips, along with a brief description of the setup here at StudioDave, a few closing remarks, and of course some links to the Linux music-maker du jour. more>>

The Joy of OOXML

For most of us, file formats are right up there with printer drivers in terms of fun. Certainly, they're important, but not something you'd look to for excitement. And yet that is precisely what the battle between the OpenDocument Format and Microsoft's OOXML is providing. And I'm not just talking about the dry, intellectual excitement derived from comparing well-formed XML tags: this is a no holds barred, down-and-dirty mano a mano fight over the soul of document standards. more>>

Documentation Coverage Testing With dcov

How often have you thrown up your hands in disgust at the poor quality of documentation for an open source project? Wouldn’t it be nice if someone put together a documentation coverage tool that worked like test coverage too ls? Well, you’re in luck—dcov is here (at least for Ruby code). more>>

Point of Attack

Recently, as in last week, I learned a new Texas idiom. A senior executive at a client explained what he meant when he said that I was beating his dog. I didn't have a reference for the comment until he said that if he invited me over for a barbecue and I beat his dog that was inappropriate. "How would you like it if you invited me to your house for dinner and I beat your dog?" he asked. more>>

Time to Write About Something Besides Redmond

I plead guilty to past transgressions. So, call me a hypocrite if you will. I don't care anymore. I refuse to get stuck in the past because the present and the near future is fun.

Indulge if you will in recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images experienced as intrusive and distressing. The obsession with Microsoft in Open Software communities is excessive and unreasonable and a product of the mind. My only hope is that such thoughts, impulses, and, or images can be expunged by logic or reasoning, which is contrary to the notions in the psychiatric community. more>>

On valuing freedom more than cushy jail cells

The problem isn't just silos and walled gardens — our names for choiceless dependency on one company's goods and services. The problem is the defaulted belief system that gives us silos and walled gardens in the first place.

In that system suppliers believe that the best customers and users are captive ones. Customers and users believe that a free market naturally restricts choices to silos. It's a value sytem in which VCs like to ask "What's your lock-in?". Even in 2007, long after the Net has become established as an everyday necessity, we still take for granted the assumption that living in a "free market" is to choose among jail cells. May the best prison win. more>>

Did Microsoft Buy Netcraft?

Okay, I'm not seriously suggesting Microsoft is paying off Netcraft to produce positive survey results (although this is certainly a standard operating procedure for Microsoft). But something is odd, if not rotten, in the state of Netcraft. I have often cited Netcraft web server surveys as evidence that open source beats closed source. The Netcraft surveys almost always showed Apache leading Microsoft IIS by a wide margin, and showed Apache growing as Microsoft IIS market share was shrinking. Lately, however, Netcraft began to claim that Apache market share has been shrinking rapidly while Microsoft IIS has been gaining the market share lost by Apache. Netcraft even proposed that, "Microsoft's recent gains raise the prospect that Windows may soon challenge Apache's leadership position." Microsoft IIS may displace Apache as the most-used web server? Could this really be true, or is this reporting from the Bizarro world? And does anyone else find the wording rather odd? "Windows" may challenge Apache? Huh? more>>

rubinius, JRuby, and Ruby.NET plans

In my last blog post, I mentioned the work on rubinius (then at a 0.7 release and now at 0.8) and JRuby. I also promised I’d follow up on them. Here’s what’s been going on so far. more>>

Troubleshooting Linux Audio, Part 3a

At last we reach the final installment of this series, the question & answer stage in which we'll consider some of the common problems encountered with audio and MIDI on Linux, along with some common and perhaps not-so-common solutions to those problems. We've looked at some indispensable items for your Linux system troubleshooting toolkit, now let's see how they are applied.

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Buying an HP Pavilion laptop for GNU/Linux

A corporation is not the person the legal fiction makes it so much as a collection of different interests. I was reminded of this fact a couple of weeks ago when I went shopping for a laptop. Remembering that Hewlett-Packard almost singlehandedly solved the basic problem of laser printer support for GNU/Linux, I ended up buying one of the company's laptops. Consumer reports, price, and HP's listing as one of the greener hardware manufacturers according to Greenpeace also affected my decision, but my impression of HP as a free software friendly company was a large criteria. more>>

Why Microsoft Is Going Open Source

No one would have believed me if I had said five years ago that Microsoft would have a page on its Web site called “Open Source at Microsoft

What could you do with fat fiber?

Two years ago, Bob Frankston wrote Why Settle for Just 1%? while in the midst of his ramp-up as a Verizon FiOS customer. The question is still on the table. I'd like us to help answer it by re-phrasing the question: What could we, as Linux developers and users, do with fiber to our homes and businesses? more>>

A Look at Sourceforge Enterprise Edition

Did you know you can download SourceforgeEE for 15 users for free. You'll find it on Sourceforge.net and it comes in a VMWare appliance. That version will accommodate 50 users if you want to pay for more than 15 seats. From an enterprise point of view, the cost is quite reasonable. more>>

Quick Ruby Hits

Not too long ago I wrote that I would be covering a number of big Ruby happenings, then I let the summer run away with me. Let me run down a quick list of things, and then try to come back and cover them in August. more>>

Troubleshooting Linux Audio, Part 2

In my last installment of this series I introduced a variety of GUI-based tools that can help you discover more about your system to help identify potentially troublesome components. This week we'll look at some of the command-line utilities that do similar work. In fact, some of these utilities are the engines underneath the more attractive GUI tools, and there may be good reasons to employ the engines directly instead of relying upon their graphic incarnations.

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