The Latest

The Mono Project: You Might Expect the Unexpected

Back in February, Ralph Green asked me to speak at the North Texas Linux Users' Group. I discussed Linux administration and then took questions. Some one in the audience asked me about Mono. I gave a cavalier answer having a bias against it. Then someone else in the audience said that I needed to get my facts straight. more>>

Loop-based Music Composition With Linux, Pt. 2

In this second and final part I'll demonstrate some of the loop-specific tools I've found in Ardour, Reaper, and Audacity. Tutorials and links to project demos are included, so warm up your headphones and let's get loopy.


Why GPLv3 Will Supplant GPLv2

One of the most important recent events in the world of free software has been the release of version 3 of the GNU GPL. There were fierce arguments about its utility while it was being drawn up, and although the rhetoric has abated somewhat, there is still a big question mark over its eventual success. more>>

How about an Index of Openness?

Wendy Seltzer asks, Which is more open: the Nokia N95 or the iPhone? Regardless of the answer, I'm wondering if there's an objective way to score openness... perhaps a kind of in-the-wild folksonomic list of deal-makers and deal-killers.

Rather than bias the list, I thought I'd just put the idea out there to start with, and see what variables ya'll would like to see on the list. more>>

So, What About Rubinius

Rubinius is important. A whole lot of folks agree. Ola Bini wrote up a whole post about how important he thinks it is. In it, he writes: more>>

Text flow in Writer

Most people are content to let their word processor determine hyphenation and text breaks for them. And, most of the time, the result is acceptable if they do. However, just as the default justification can be improved if you want to take the time, so can the text flow. more>>

Looking for the next Net business

The Internet most of us experience is not the World of Ends suggested by the end-to-end system design concepts around which the Net was originally architected and built.

Instead we have something that is faster-than-dialup, and faster-than-it-used-to-be; but is not The Net. Instead it is the part of the Net that's left in a pipe that's optimized for television, for one-way few-to-many "content delivery" and for locking users into client roles, while servers labor somewhere else.

I just had FTTH (fiber to the home) installed. And, while it's way cool in some ways, it's also uncool in the way it prevents far more business than it generates for itself. It would be great if the carriers made it easy for businesses to grow on the Net, and then suppoted those businesses with services that helped those businesses thrive and grow. But the carriers would rather serve "content" to mass quantities of "consumers" while chaging prohibitive prices for "business-class" services. Hey, it's a mass media mentality, and they have every right to it.

But... more>>

Looking for Algae--the Next Voyage

The Brazilian winter was almost over, and while the mild winters in Florianopolis allowed me to work on the Agape, the coming of spring meant that it was time to set sail for new adventures.

Grayson, the youngest of the Pollywogs, showed up early in the morning at the dock, as I got ready to sail. "What are you doing?", he asked. "I am getting ready to study algae", I answered. "Algae!", he exclaimed, "why are you looking for that?" more>>

Defending Openness

Things have been going pretty well for open source and open standards recently. First, there was the implosion of the SCO case, in the wake of which even SCO accepts that it may not be around much longer. Then we had the rejection of Microsoft's request for a fast-track approval of its OOXML rival to ODF. Finally, the European Court of First Instance has refused Microsoft's request for an annulment of the terms imposed by the European Commission. All are notable victories that many regarded as unlikely a few years ago. But elsewhere, other open movements are still in the early stages of the struggle against forces pushing closed, proprietary standards. more>>

Wanted: OPML editor on Linux

In How to sponsor an open source project?, Dave Winer says, I want the OPML Editor to run on Linux... and floats the idea of a bounty for the job.

He's taking comments here. Guidance: I'm looking for ideas, established practices, do's and don'ts for sponsoring an open source project, Dave says. more>>

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.


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, 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>>