The Latest

Now revealed! Secrets of line spacing in OpenOffice.org Writer

The fact that OpenOffice.org Writer is more than a word processor is an open secret. Designed to write long documents, Writer is in many ways a document processor comparable to FrameMaker, suitable for designing books and dissertations while falling short of a complete desktop publishing solution. For this reason, it includes a number of tools for tweaking lines of text, including Tools > Language > Hyphenation and the tools for adjusting character width and letter space for individual characters. However, by far the least understood of these high-end tools is Writer's ability to adjust line-spacing. more>>

LDAP: Attributes and Keeping Them Simple

A consensus exists among many writers about jargon. Throw a bunch of undefined words at a reader and he or she will soon fall asleep. In fact, put one term in a paragraph that the reader doesn't understand and a page or two later sleep will start to creep and the reader will lose interest. more>>

Microsoft Tries to Patent a Crippled Baseline OS

Microsoft is applying for a patent for an operating system that starts out crippled. You must pay to do things like take the throttle off network speed, disk access, install drivers, install software, and more. Trust me, I rarely even visit Groklaw, even if this is my second consecutive blog entry with a link to a Groklaw article. My VarLinux.org readers posted the article, A Brave New Modular World, and I had to share it. more>>

Regional Ruby Conferences Are Taking Shape

Last summer, I wrote about local Ruby events and the RubyConf*MI event that was (at that time) just announced. Since then, I've taken some time to write about regional conferences, and to encourage people to check out the Ruby Central grant program. more>>

LDAP: Replacing Exchange Revisited

LDAP can occupy numerous places in an IT infrastructure. For example, you can migrate Network Information Services (NIS) to LDAP and many Legacy UNIX centric organization have done just that. While the NIS migration model serves as one excellent example, many others exist. Most recently, I saw LDAP used as a simple white page - name and address - directory service. I consider that under utilizing LDAP. more>>

What happened to the guts?

What happened to the guts in mainstream publications? I recall back in the 80s InfoWorld pressured Lotus into ditching its copy protection scheme by docking Lotus 1-2-3 several points in reviews because of the inconvenience. I believe Lotus was the first to buckle, but other vendors jumped on the bandwagon and abandoned copy protection. Fast forward to today. Not only has copy protection come back from the grave, it has risen like a juggernaut zombie bent on eating everyone's brains. Worse, many consumers and writers alike seem to be unscrewing their scalps and willingly offering up the meal. "I want the latest iThing, it's so cool!" Sure, you'll find appropriate outrage in Linux Journal and a handful of renegade publications like the Register. But what happened to the mainstream journals with the guts of yesteryear? more>>

HD as the first step beyond TV

What comes after television? That's a question I've been asking at every Consumer Electronics Show. The answer, of course, is not just "more TV" but bigger and better TV, with better sound and higher resolutions, made possible by digital sources, processing and displays. In other words, computing and networking.

So does TV become just become a suburb of computing, or does the reverse happen? The TV folks imagine the latter. But the former is inevitable. Our job is to make the inevitable happen sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, we get to watch Big TV metasticize — and to enjoy what we can of it. more>>

The Software Ecology Of Rui Nuno Capela

Rui Capela's software has appeared in this column many times. I've written about it directly (see At the Sounding Edge: Using QSynth and QJackCtl and HDRs and DAWs For Linux: The New Breed) and it shows up in almost every article I write. I'm not exaggerating when I state that Rui's programs have become indispensable components here at Studio Dave, so naturally I'm interested in the mind behind it all. In this entry I'll recap the nature and state of Rui's software, after which we'll meet the man himself in another lively interview here at the sounding edge. more>>

Customizing general OpenOffice.org settings

OpenOffice.org includes dozens of options for how it behaves. Available from Tools > Options, they are divided into general settings for the entire office suite and settings particular to each application. General settings are available under the general headings of OpenOffice.org, Load/Save, and Language Settings. more>>

Watering the Net Roots

On the one hand, you can look at Verizon's dumping of rural New England business as a kind of red-lining. On the other hand, listen to what the company picking up the dumped business says it wants to do. According to the Boston Globe,

...the merger will likely benefit rural customers by putting them in the hands of a company that specializes and focuses on rural markets, according to John Byrne, analyst at Technology Business Research in New Hampshire.

Verizon serves 1.5 million access lines, 180,000 DSL customers, and 600,000 long-distance customers in the three states. The company offers DSL Internet access to about 60 percent of households there. In contrast, FairPoint offers DSL access to about 80 percent of households it serves.

But in southern New Hampshire, where FairPoint will take over the high-speed FiOS fiber-optic network available to 80,000 households, customers who may have expected to see FiOS TV offerings won't likely see "triple-play" bundles of voice, television, and Internet in the near future.

"Clearly, video will be a consideration, but we don't want to get distracted by that," as FairPoint takes over, Leach said. "We are going to increase high-speed data right out of the box."

Kurt Adams, chairman of the Public Utilities Commission in Maine, said he cannot comment on details, but that merger hearings would likely focus on broadband investment, service quality, and rates.

Something big is getting missed in the fight between carriers and local governments, and many side-takers on both the right and the left are equally blind to it. What's missed is serious and widespread market demand for high-speed data connections — specifically connections that are not subordinated to television. more>>

2007 Begins with a Bang

Wow: has there ever been a month in computing like this one? A January distinguished by not one major announcement, not two, but four significant events that will surely go down as milestones in the history of technology. more>>

Contradictions in Microsoft's OOXML openness

There is a fascinating article on Groklaw called Searching for Openness in Microsoft's OOXML and Finding Contradictions. One of the most relevant comments in the article is "So, they plan to be the only one in the Linux world that can actually interoperate with Microsoft. How do you think they will achieve that? By sharing? On the contrary, they already market themselves as uniquely interoperable, which means they get to interoperate and you don't, unless you are their paying customer." There is also the Novell comment, "Only Novell has Microsoft’s endorsement as its partner to drive Linux-Windows interoperability." more>>

All They Need Is Funds: A Call For Community Support

This entry is a little off my regular beat, but its substance is of great importance to all users of Linux audio software. To get straight to the point, it's about money and two projects in real need of significant financial support, the Ardour hard disk recorder/digital audio workstation and the Hydrogen rhythm programmer/drum machine. Both projects are well along in their development cycles, both have achieved great status not only in the Linux audio software world but on OSX as well, and both need financing for their planned evolution. Ardour and Hydrogen are two of Linux's finest programs for musicians, rivalling their commercial counterparts and providing libre alternatives to the intense vendor lock-in typical of the Win/Mac sound and music software worlds. These are truly important projects that deserve your support and financial backing.

more>>

The mobile revolution gets personal

I'm writing this from CES 2007 — the latest and greatest Consumer Electronics Show, where 140,000 attendees crowd 2,700 exhibits packed into 1,660,000 square feet of space in more halls and hotels than I'll bother to count. There's a lot of noise here, and a certain amount of signal; though the ratio of the former to the latter is no less lopsided than it always is. Everybody's not only showing their good sides, but paying millions to crow about it through mass quantities of advertising and PR.

Yet the whole damn thing got upstaged Tuesday by Steve Jobs and his on-stage announcement of the long-awaited iPhone.

Normally CES and Macworld overlap barely or not at all. But this year the two shows are spread across the same week, forcing many (including yours truly) to choose one or the other — though I know a number of folks who flew to San Francisco for Jobs' speech and then back again. Of course, I chose to spend as much time as possible here at CES, because it's a show packed with Linux stories. (My first report on the show is here. This is second. A third will follow.) Yet, like every reporter here, it was clear to me that the biggest news of the week — or perhaps of the year — was delivered by Apple in San Francisco. more>>

The silent victory of Linux-as-geology at CES 2007

Three years ago, out of more than 2300 CES exhibitors, the word "Linux" appeared in text associated with just 11 of them, in the show's online guide. This year at CES 2007 has more than 2700 exhibitors; yet "Linux" appears in text associated with just 3 companies: Interact-TV, Neuros Technology and Pixel Magic Systems. Yet it is clearer than ever that Linux has become the bedrock on which more and more companies build their solutions. more>>

Embedded in CES

More and more hot new hardware runs on cool and stable Linux, plus a growing abundance of open source building materials. Since relatively few open source components are graced with publicity ambitions (much less departments), they tend not to make themselves obvious. Meaning that reporters like yours truly need to go hunting for them.

So I'd like your help. I'm here at the Consumer Electronics Show — CES — in Las Vegas, getting ready to launch out onto the trade show floors to see What's Up with Linux amongst the 2,700 exhibitors spread across 1.7 million square feet of exhibit space. more>>

Looking Ahead at Ruby in 2007

Last week, I looked back at Ruby in 2006. This week, it's time to look ahead. Here are 10 Ruby things I think are going to be hot in 2007: Refactoring tools — This is something I think there's just too much clamor for (and too much momentum toward) not to hit in 2007. The JRuby team is making steady progress in NetBeans and Eclipse while wierd, wonderful things are being done with code rewriting on top of ParseTree and other tools. This year, we'll be able to stop saying "Yeah, there aren't any tools, but Ruby is still really easy to refactor." YARV — It has already been merged into the Ruby's development tree, now's the time to see it stabilize and speed up. RSpec — RSpec is growing in popularity too. Recently people have asked if it should be included in the Ruby Standard Library (no, probably not), which certainly points to it's popularity. Even the rubinius hackers (see below) are using RSpec to write tests. JRuby — Ruby on the JVM picked up a lot of steam last year, and looks like it's just going to accelerate in 2007. I think it will help bring Ruby into a lot of Java shops, both as an excuse to run Ruby ("Hey, look it's on the JVM. We can still pretend it's Java") and as a vector for cool stuff like RSpec. rubinius — While it might not have the fresh new enterprise smell that JRuby does, rubinius is a pretty sweet project as well. It's already gaining a lot of visibility in the Ruby world, and once regular Ruby apps start running on it, I think we'll see it take off. a Ruby spec — Perhaps the biggest benefit we'll see from rubinius and JRuby is a real spec for Ruby 1.8 (and a test suite to ensure compatibility). This has been a knock against Ruby for a while, and 2007 should be the year the community answers it. more than just Ruby on Rails — 2007 will be the year other Ruby based web frameworks get a bit of the spotlight. Nitro, IOWA and others might not draw as many developers as Ruby on Rails has, but they will influence the Ruby web development landscape. Rake — is a great DSL for build management. Rake is alread moving forward on the JRuby platform, and others will see how useful it can be in 2007. RubyConf 2007 (in Toronto?) — RubyConf 2006 was a huge success, and in 2007 should be even bigger (I just hope I can get a ticket before they sell out). With all the cool things going on in the Ruby world already, RubyConf 2007 should be a Ruby hackers dream! regional conferences — Since not everyone will make it into RubyConf 2007, regional conferences like MountainWest RubyConf and the Gotham City Ruby Conf will step up to fill the void. This year, I expect to see a handful of great regional conferences show up. more>>

The Real Firefox-Killer

Firefox fans will be facing 2007 with more tranquillity than they did 2006. A year ago, it was clear that Firefox's free ride was about to end: after an astonishing five years of inactivity, Microsoft was finally launching an updated version of Internet Explorer. There seems little doubt that much of more>>

Happy New Year - What's Ahead?

Are you glad that New Year only occurs once a year? Who wants to look back and forward on the same day? It's inevitable, I suppose.

Lately, I have reflected a lot on my Linux career in contrast to other IT work and environments. Linux started in 1997 for me and encompassed about nine years. I have looked back and have looked forward to the year ahead. I certainly have plans and hope you do also. But before looking ahead at our plans, we might examine our personal history to give ourselves a context in which to view a future with full knowledge that the best laid plans often go astray. more>>

Directory Services as the Foundation of Organizational Infrastructures

If you have followed any of my last six installments about LDAP, then you know we've taken a technical approach to the subject. I wrote the majority of the material in this series as part of an O'Reilly book entitled "Linux System Administration" or simply LSA. You can find a write-up on the book at this link. more>>

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