Daily links for 02/28/2010 – Gardening Edition

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Post mortem on the 2009 vegetable garden

vegetable garden in snow

Last year I blogged about the vegetable garden I put in and my trials and tribulations in protecting it from critters. Today my garden looks like what’s shown in the photo on the right. I live and garden in the northwest corner of New York State in the United States.

Therefore, I thought it would be a good time to review what I did right and wrong last year as I start to think about my 2010 vegetable garden.

Last year was the first year in about eight that I decided to put in a vegetable garden. In the past I have gardened quite a bit, but I had not made the time to continue it from year to year. Also, we have a particularly obnoxious bush-like weed that spreads via thick, deep underground roots, so it’s a battle all season long to help the vegetables win. I was pretty successful in this this last year, but it was a lot of work.

Location

As I just mentioned, that weed is very hardy and persistent. If I keep the garden where it is now, I may rent a small backhoe to dig down and pull up all the roots. One key reason to move the garden is to get it away from the black walnut trees that ring the property and are near the driveway. The part of the garden that is toward the front of the photo is just over the drip line for a black walnut and so only certain plants will grow there.

If I move the garden, it will be a lot further back in the property and centered in a grassy area. However, it will be very difficult to water and I’ll need to rely on rainfall for the most part.

That brings me to …

The Fence

The fence I installed did a good job keeping out the deer, especially once I extended it by a couple of feet around the corn. The deer just nibbled on the corn over the top of the fence until I added two more feet of fence.

The right side of the garden was entirely in sunflowers and corn:

Lemon Queen Sunflower Sundance Sweet Corn Sugar Dots Sweet Corn Peaches and Cream Sweet Corn Garden Cross Bantam Sweet Corn Velvet Queen Sunflower

From left to right, the corn moved from earlier to later varieties for harvesting. Probably 40% of the entire garden was planted in corn. It looked pretty promising.

We didn’t get one ear of it. The raccoons ate it all, though they didn’t bother anything else.

This next year I’m not going to bother with corn at all. To keep out the raccoons I would either have to install an electric fence or completely enclose (encage?) the garden, sides and top. I’m not going to do that. So next year I’ll have more room for vegetable and maybe try something new, like pumpkins.

Peppers, Tomatoes, and Basil

The peppers I planted in the ground were fantastic, though those I put in a container did not do well. This year I’ll be expanding the group to more varieties and only put them in the ground.

While we did get some tomatoes, it’s clear they were affected by the blight. I needed to get a replacement tomato plant and I picked up one from a home center on a whim, and I think that infected the rest of the crop.

The basil crop was strong, though late in arriving. This year I plan to start many of my plants directly from seed. They’ll need to get going around April 1, so I’ll have more on that as I get closer. I’ve ordered several packets from some catalog sources, and I’ll go through how I’ll make my final choices.

Squash and Cucumbers

The Garden Spineless F1 Hybrid Zucchini Squash grew well (too well), and produced a large crop. I need to stagger the planting of the seeds this year to not get inundated with zucchini. This is an old joke, but we were indeed told when we moved to this village that people locked their cars in summer so that others would not put zucchini in them.

The Summer Pac F1 Hybrid Calabaza Yellow Squash was a disappointment because it was more of a gourd than a yellow zucchini. I blame myself and will need to do more research this year.

The Marketmore Cucumbers produced a good crop and didn’t overwhelm us with volume. I grew many of them up the trellis I used earlier in the season for the snow peas, and that sort of worked. This next year I may build a wood ladder for them.

Beans and Peas

Both the Tender Green Improved Bush Beans and the Yellow Kinghorn Wax Bush Beans did very well, however they were too crowded. I fell victim to the urge to over plant too many vegetables in too small a space. This year I’ll either have more room because I’m not doing corn, or I’ll be in a larger space in a different location.

For peas I went with the sugar snap variety. We got a few, but I put them in too late. I should have started them around May 1, or even late April, but it was closer to the end of May by the time the garden was in shape. My mother always told me to get them in on St. Patrick’s Day, but around here the ground is still frozen and we’re likely to get more snow, so that’s not going to work.

Lettuce and Carrots

I got a lot of lettuce but should have staggered the crop. The carrots grew very slowly and we didn’t get to harvest very many. Next year I need to explicitly amend the soil where I plant the carrots with a lot of sand.

Summary

The major lessons in my return to vegetable gardening were:

  • If the deer don’t get you, the raccoons will. Watch about for ground hogs as well.
  • Your fence can never be too tall.
  • Plant half the vegetables you want to plant in the space you have available.

Sources and Books

In a previous blog entry I gave some good sources for vegetable seeds. If you want to go organic, pay very close attention to the seed descriptions or else go with an all-organic provider like High Mowing Organic Seeds. Rob Weir also posted a good blog entry with ten seed providers for New England gardeners.

There are hundreds of books about vegetable gardening, some of which are specialized to specific parts of the US or the world. Here are some that I’ve found to be quite good:

Daily links for 02/27/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 02/26/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

The 6th International Conference on Open Source Systems, May 30 to June 2

OSS 2010, the 6th International Conference on Open Source Systems, will take place on the campus of the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana, USA, from May 30 to June 2.

From the conference website:

Over the past decade, the Open Source Software (OSS) phenomenon has had a global impact on the way organisations and individuals create, distribute, acquire and use software and software-based services. OSS has challenged the conventional wisdom of the software engineering and software business communities, has been instrumental for educators and researchers, and has become an important aspect of e-government and information society initiatives. OSS is a complex phenomenon and requires a interdisciplinary understanding of its engineering, technical, economic, legal and socio-cultural dynamics. The goal of OSS 2010, the first IFIP WG 2.13 conference to be held in North America, is to provide an international forum where a diverse community of professionals from academia, industry and public administration can come together to share research findings and practical experiences.

Evidently I am on the Program Committee.

Daily links for 02/25/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 02/24/2010

  • “Two areas where Thadani said he believes Red Hat‘s KVM-based virtualization currently has an advantage over VMware are price and application support. Exact costs depend on the number of hosts and machines being virtualized, as well as the operating systems concerned. However, using RHEV instead of VMware could result in between 40 percent and 80 percent costs savings, he claimed. Red Hat guarantees that, because RHEV is built from the same kernel as RHEL, any Linux application that runs on RHEL will also run in a RHEL virtual machine virtualized on RHEV. If it doesn’t run properly in this way, Thadani said Red Hat will provide support to fix it so that it does.”

    tags: vmware, red-hat, virtualization, kvm, rhev-h

  • Novell continues to push beyond the SUSE Linux market. Among the major moves: The company is beta testing Novell Cloud Security Service, which is scheduled for general availability in May or June, according to Novell sources attending the Parallels Summit in Miami. Here are the implications for hosting providers and cloud integrators.”

    tags: cloud, novell, security

  • “Here’s an interesting tutorial that we would like to share with you on Daily World Buzz. It was written by Jun Auza of TechSource from Bohol. It’s a simple step by step tutorial with screenshots of how to install Safari 4 and use it in your Ubuntu Linux OS.”

    tags: safari, ubuntu, linux, browser

  • “Userful Corporation, the world leader in multiseat Linux desktop virtualization, today announced that 30,000 schools worldwide have chosen Userful virtual desktops to reduce computing costs and improve computer-to-student ratios. Microsoft recently announced its own multi-seat solution, Microsoft Windows MultiPoint Server 2010, seven years after Userful pioneered the technology on Linux back in 2002.  Another classic case of Linux vs. Windows, only this time Linux has the upper hand with Userful having already sold 750,000 seats.”

    tags: linux, desktop, virtualization

  • “During our conversation, I began thinking about what it would be like if someone designed a content management system in three dimensions. Think about how useful it would be to get all your company’s content laid out in front of you in a graphical view in which you could literally walk inside the system. How cool would that be?”

    tags: content-management, 3d, virtual-world

  • “While more cost-effective than physical marketing events, virtual events offer another huge advantage: detailed information. As opposed to physical events, where often the only lead data consists of business card content, virtual events enable marketers to track and evaluate every move of each attendee within the environment, resulting in highly qualified sales leads.”

    tags: marketing

  • “We keep using the web because we already know the answer to the why question — we use the web for destination sites, for locating information, online shopping, etc. etc. With a service that looks and acts like the world, the why question is more profound, and overwhelming. It’s why I believe an achievement system, or even an leveling ladder with experience points for exploring the world, creating content, and so on, is necessary. Not to turn Second Life into an MMO, but to give new users an activity structure that will inspire them to get the full breadth of Second Life and its possibilities.”

    tags: second-life, virtual-world

  • “And search won’t solve the what-to-do problem. The only solution is to connect newcomers with like-minded people. The best communication mechanism for Second Life is the oldest one on the planet: Word of mouth. You find out about things because your friends tell you about them.”

    tags: second-life, virtual-world

  • “When it comes to working on creative projects, even professional designers need a little help now and then. There’s no shortage of Web sites they can turn to for visual inspiration and advice. And, for the most part, civilians like me can take advantage of those very same resources. Whether I need specific technical instruction or just some good ideas, these five sites are where I turn to first.”

    tags: design

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thinking about open source: There are three types of software …

Most of these kinds of discussions that say that there are two kinds of people or ten best ways of doing something are extremely subjective and involve gross simplifications. I plead guilty here but want to make a few points about the nature of software today and how people think about it.

There’s a tremendous amount of buzz in the industry today about open source software, but there is, of course, a huge amount of use of “that other kind of software” that variously goes by the name of “proprietary,” “closed-source,” “traditional,” or “commercial” software. None of those terms work well in practice.

Let me break down software into three categories:

Continue reading

Daily links for 02/23/2010

A little overagressive on the links today, but there’s a lot going on …

  • “The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) — developers, stewards, and incubators of 138 Open Source projects — today announced the 15th anniversary of the Apache HTTP Web Server.

    The ASF’s first project became the world’s most popular Web server software within the first six months of its inception. The Apache HTTP Server today powers nearly 112 million Websites world-wide.”

    tags: software, apache, open-source

  • “Last week, eWEEK Labs published their picks for the top 25 technologies that changed the decade. They judged their selections on the impact the technologies had on the past 10 years, while also considering the affect that these technologies will have on the future of IT. Among the winners – which included innovative technologies such as the iPhone, the Blackberry, Blade Servers and Bluetooth – was our leading operating platform, Red Hat Enterprise Linux.”

    tags: linux, red-hat

  • “Write a book about building community the open source way… and write it with a community, the open source way. Meaning, open the text up, allow interested users to contribute, and see what happens.

    Brilliant.

    The book is entitled The Open Source Way: Creating and nurturing communities of contributors and you can access the current text here and the wiki for contributors here.

    I caught up with Karsten Wade, who is leading the project, to learn more.”

    tags: open-source, books

  • “This guide is for helping people to understand how to and how not to engage with community over projects such as software, content, marketing, art, infrastructure, standards, and so forth. It contains knowledge distilled from years of Red Hat experience.”

    tags: red-hat, open-source, community

  • “I really liked Metaplace and used it as part of my virtual worlds course here at Duke last semester. I’m so relieved that the shutdown happened between semesters! I’m also relieved that I didn’t invest much time in building Metaplace-based educational environments for my students (which I was seriously considering). The rapid fall of Metaplace really underscores that any effort to invest in a platform where content (or the organization of content) is stored on a third party’s servers is a very risky proposition.”

    tags: virtual-world

  • “Find information about how Chromium works, how to participate in the development of Chromium, or just how to build it yourself.”

    tags: Chromium, open-source

  • “The 2010 OpenOffice.org Conference will take place from August 31st to September 3rd in Budapest, the capital of Hungary.”

    tags: ooocon, openoffice.org

  • “Misys Open Source Solutions (“MOSS”), a division of Misys Plc (FTSE:MSY.L), today announced a partnership with Markit, a leading, global financial information services company, to promote the Misys Environmental Registry System (“MERS”), the new carbon management emissions reporting solution that will be released March 31, 2010.”

    tags: open-source, environment

  • “Viewer 2.0 is far more organized than before, and that makes it easier to use. It brings the most important functions to the surface, while less frequently used tools are hidden in menus, available when needed but not jumping out to confuse the beginner.

    The top of the viewer now looks like a Web browser, with an address bar that contains the 3D coordinates of your avatar’s location, in a form resembling a URL. As with a Web browser, you can embed bookmarks (“landmarks” in Second Life jargon), in the horizontal space below the address bar.”

    tags: second-life, virtual-world, viewer, browser

  • “Overall, Linden Lab deserve kudos for delivering a significantly revamped viewer that should make using Second Life markedly easier for new residents in particular. Linden Lab have consistently stated their commitment to improving the user experience and this is one of the more concrete examples of how that is now being delivered. The proof of Viewer 2’s success will only come with widespread use, but initial impressions are positive. Of course, Linden Lab need to pull off a usability coup to ensure ongoing growth. Combined with potential improvements in grid performance, the horizon seems a little brighter than it has been in a while.”

    tags: second-life, virtual-world

  • “More to the point, it’s a step toward electronic textbooks, and away from the bizarre economy of print textbooks. DynamicBooks textbooks, which will accessible on an computer, as well as the iPhone (and presumably the iPad) will be much—about 50%—cheaper than print textbooks, which are sold at high prices with the expectation that they’ll later be resold.”

    tags: textbooks, macmillan, ebook

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Three Google Chrome extensions to get you started

I’ve recently started using the Google Chrome web browser and have made it the default over Firefox on several of my machines. Though Firefox has thousands of addons, or extensions, I only really use about half a dozen. That means when I move to a different browser I might be missing some functionality, but not a lot.

Google Chrome logo

Here are the first three Google Chrome extensions I’ve started using, the first two of which are direct replacements for their Firefox counterparts.

  • The Diigo bookmark extension. Diigo is a “Web Highlighter and Sticky Notes, Online Bookmarking and Annotation, Personal Learning Network.” I use it to produce the Daily Links that are published on this blog. I’ve run hot and cold on Diigo over the last few years, but I’m back to using it as the best thing around to save and share things that I’ve read on the web.
  • XMarks Bookmark Synch tool. XMarks can save both bookmarks and passwords across multiple machines and multiple browsers, though I only use it for bookmarks. When I fire up a new machine and install a new Linux image, I know I can have all my bookmarks ready to go in a few minutes. Google Chrome also has synchronization capability, but it is limited to that browser, though on multiple operating systems. XMarks works in Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer.
  • TooManyTabs. As you open more and more tabbed windows, the tabs get narrower and narrower, so much so that you can’t read the labels. By clicking the TooManyTabs but, a new window opens up that clearly shows all your windows and what’s in them. Thanks to Kelvin Lawrence for his recommendation of this extension.

“The Future of FOSS: A Report from a Strategic Planning Session”

This just popped up and since it is tomorrow and will happen before my Daily Links are published, I though I would note it now. It’s for a webinar on Tuesday, February 23, 2010, at 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM EST.

From the registration page:

On February 10, 2010 the Linux Foundation and the Open Source Initiative held a Strategic Planning Session for lawyers active in support of adoption of free and open source software. The purpose of the meeting was to identify key legal issues that will impact the development and adoption of free and open source software in 2010 and beyond.

Karen Copenhaver, partner at Choate Hall & Stewart and Counsel for the Linux Foundation and Mark Radcliffe, partner at DLA Piper and General Counsel for the Open Source Initiative (OSI), hosted the strategy session. Karen and Mark will report on the key topics that were discussed, who participated, and conclusions. In addition, we will focus on the status of developing a standard approach to delivery of information on the different components in software packages, the so called “Bill of Materials”. The effort is being led by FOSSBazaar with Black Duck’s support

Daily links for 02/22/2010

  • “The result?  F/OSS has achieved a significant victory that will provide comfort to developers that their expectations will be satisfied when they contribute code to a software project.  This is particularly significant for projects that adopt so-called “restrictive” licenses, such as the GNU General Public License, which are intended to prevent exploitation of the work of community developers for unauthorized commercial purposes.”

    tags: open-source, legal, copyright

  • Microsoft has made several changes to a Release Candidate version of Office 2010 made available to testers recently. One change in particular prompts users whether they want to use Office Open XML (OOXML) or OpenDocument (ODF) document formats. The prompt only appears in European SKUs of Microsoft Office 2010.”

    tags: microsoft, odf, ooxml

  • “Gedit can be a really awesome editor if you give it a few plugins and an open mind. Here are a few of my favorites.”

    tags: open-source, editors

  • “A game developer invites you to take an all-expense-paid trip to visit their studio and review their upcoming MMO. They promise a free copy of the game and lifetime account, as well. Would you do the review? Explain why or why not.”

    tags: mmorpg

  • “First, the users remained very evangelistic. Second, corporations like IBM found other uses for its islands and kept investing (they now use these islands for training and replacements of expensive conferences). Third, the technology has been steadily improving. Fourth, the company has found new ways to bring new users in and make the experience easier to get into.”

    tags: second-life, virtual-world

  • “When you think of Second Life (SL), a web-based, user-created virtual world where people remake their own identities, clothing, appearance and lifestyle, you might think of anti-social geeks sitting at home in their mothers’ basements, communicating with other “avatars” and creating a charmed virtual life that in no way resembles their own. And for some users you probably wouldn’t be too far off.

    But what started out as a virtual universe where users can create alter egos, interact and actually participate in a virtual economy is being used by universities in Arkansas and elsewhere as a cost-effective, easy-to-use learning tool.”

    tags: second-life, virtual-world

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

GoOpen conference – Oslo, April 19 and 20

The GoOpen conference will take place in Oslo, Norway, on April 19 and 20 this year.

From the website:

GoOpen is a two-day event located in Oslo, organized by the Norwegian Open Source Competence Center, founded by the government. We expect 500 participants from Norway and Nordic countries. The target group for this event is decision makers within public sector in Norway, IT professionals, ICT business, private sector, politicians, students and the press. GoOpen will take place in the city center of Oslo. The conference consists of keynotes, tracks and break-out sessions. The conference is arranged in cooperation with among others; ministries, The Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities, ICT Norway in Norway.

More conferences are listed in my Upcoming Linux, Open Source, and Virtual Worlds Events page.

Second Life tip of the day

It’s been about three years since I posted a tip of the day for the Second Life virtual world, but since I’m attending a virtual meeting in IBM right now, I’ll put this one up:

You can turn off the (annoying) typing animation and sounds by going into Edit | Preferences | Text Chat and unchecking the box next to “Play typing animation while typing.”

You might also want to go into Audio & Video and lower the sound for UI and turn up the sound for Voice.

Daily links for 02/21/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 02/20/2010

  • “A massively multiplayer online game requiring players to employ mathematical concepts could revolutionize the teaching of mathematics at the middle school level, according to Stanford mathematician Keith Devlin. That’s the age when math and science proficiency plummets among U.S. students. Devlin says the game project would be so complex and expensive that the federal government would likely have to spearhead it. But, he said, a pilot project showed such a game would be doable.”

    tags: stanford, mathematics, education, virtual-world

  • “With a lack of open source 3D graphics support on ARM devices impeding Ubuntu‘s use in ARM-based netbooks, Canonical turned to the Enlightment project’s libraries to add visual panache to 2D interfaces. The Canonical project to use the open source Enlightenment Foundation Libraries (EFL) was announced in a blog post by in Canonical Ubuntu Mobile Developer Jamie Bennett, and then echoed by a post at the Enlightenment project. Bennett’s blog post posted two examples of Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR) interfaces based on the EFL technology that should appear in the Lucid Lynx Ubuntu release in April.”

    tags: linux, ubuntu, arm, remix

  • “In 2008, Nicholas Carr took to the pages of The Atlantic to make the provocative case that Google might be “making us stupid.” His basic worry was that a reliance on the Web was rewiring his brain, that he was skimming along the surface of links, facts, and ideas, but now had trouble engaging in more focused thought and in reading longer pieces of text.”

    tags: google

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Life with Linux: Adapting to the smaller screen on a netbook

This last week my son and I were on vacation and I took along a Simmtronics 10.2 netbook running Ubuntu Linux 9.10 Remix along with IBM Lotus applications like Notes and Sametime. I brought it so I could have reasonable access to the Internet and check in to see if there were any urgent emails I needed to respond to for work.

The screen, as you might guess from the name of the netbook, is slightly larger than ten inches measured diagonally. This is smaller than most laptops but larger than the first generation of netbooks. The screen resolution was 1024 x 600 and the display itself was quite vibrant.

After a few days on Remix I decided I wanted to go back to the regular Ubuntu Gnome desktop and so when I got home I downloaded and installed Ubuntu 9.10 “Karmic Koala.” There’s nothing wrong with Remix, it’s just that I’m used to the regular desktop and I decided the screen was large enough to support it.

Here are some observations about getting the most of that smaller screen while running the Ubuntu desktop.

Continue reading

Daily links for 02/19/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 02/18/2010

  • “In general, we know that Sun’s software product catalog will be cut back and that many Sun staffers will soon be laid off. Historically, when Oracle acquires a company, deep cuts are the rule. For example, Oracle fired about 5,000 workers after acquiring PeopleSoft. This time around, Oracle is saying that there will be only about a thousand layoffs. In particular, although no one is going on record, it’s feared that Sun’s open-source groups will take the brunt of these cuts.”

    tags: open-source, sun, oracle

  • “At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Research In Motion announced an overhaul of its Blackberry phone web browser. Like the iPhone and Android systems, the new browser is WebKit based and is expected to be available on Blackberry devices later this year. in interviews Mike Lazardis, co-CEO of RIM said “You’ll see how quickly it downloads, how quickly it renders and how smooth it scrolls and zooms in”.”

    tags: open-source, rim, blackberry

  • “In recent months, there seems to be a mad rush of companies trying to one-up each other with how open-source they are. Twitter is the latest, as they have launched a directory of all the open source projects they’re currently working on and/or contributing to.The list is fairly impressive. It includes open source projects in Ruby, Scala, Java, C/C++, and other various tools.”

    tags: twitter, open-source

  • “Over time, we’re certainly likely to see some consolidation in the smartphone OS market, because there probably isn’t room for 8 or 10 different systems. But for now, the competition is forcing the vendors into a game of leap-frog, adding new features and trying to figure out what will really make users happy. Not all the phone makers or software makers can win in that scenario, but as consumers, we all will benefit from the frenzied activity.”

    tags: mobile

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 02/17/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 02/15/2010

  • “We were contacted last night about the developer of this new game engine (called the “AnKi Engine”) that’s supported on Linux; in fact, we’re told that’s where it’s been solely developed on Linux and that it should work on Windows but has never even been built there yet. AnKi offers deferred shading, shadow mapping, Screen Space Ambient Occlusion (SSAO), High Dynamic Range (HDR), Spherical Environment Mapping, Light Scattering, Parallax Mapping, and other OpenGL advanced features. The GPLv3 engine uses SDL, GLEW, OpenGL, and libjpeg. Not only is the engine GPLv3, but the visual assets are likely to be put under the Creative Commons, which will please many users.”

    tags: linux, games, open-source

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 02/14/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Series list: Proper word use and grammar in English

This entry is one in a series that tackles issues of proper word use and grammar in English.

From time to time I post a blog entry that explains the proper use of English terms, especially those that get abused frequently. This is a list of all those entries.

You may also find the following books useful:

Daily links for 02/13/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Virtual Life with Linux: Free textures

As a complement to my Life with Linux blog series, I’m introducing another series which explores what I can do in virtual worlds and immersive Internet environments on Linux.

tiled brick texture from Blender collection

In the previous installment in this series, I discussed setting up a very basic four region world in opensim. Other than a rather badly dressed avatar, there was nothing in the world except flat land. Once you start building things, you’ll want textures to apply to parts of your creations. For example, you don’t make a brick wall by creating hundreds of little red bricks and stacking them, you make one of more large rectangular sections and then apply a texture with images of bricks on them.

A texture can be almost any image, but many of the interesting ones for building are tiled: the right and left, and often the top and bottom, edges line up when two objects having the same texture are placed next to each other. I’m assuming the sizes of the objects and various stretching factors of the textures are correct.

Some texture images are created artificially in programs like PhotoShop or GIMP, others are just photographs, and yet others are photos that have been adjusted so that the textures can be tiled. If you create your own textures consider making them freely available to others.

In the spirit of Linux and open source and free things, here are some resources for getting textures at no charge to you. I’m going to include some in-world Second Life locations since the Second Life viewer runs on Linux desktops with appropriate graphics hardware.

Continue reading

Daily links for 02/12/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 02/11/2010

Alistair Rennie

  • IBM is spreading access to its Lotus social and collaboration software all over the various computing platforms. But what’s the big strategy here?

    I spoke with Alistair Rennie (right), IBM’s Lotus general manager, about trends like the consumerization of IT and the grand plan for his unit. Here’s the recap.”

    tags: lotus

  • “Big Blue is expected to announce Thursday at Macworld San Francisco that it will soon be delivering its enterprise social platform, Lotus Connections, and Lotus Quickr team collaboration package for use with the iPhone and Mac.”

    tags: ibm, mac, iphone, lotus

  • “There is an article by Mark Webbink, Esq., “Packaging Open Source”, in the International Free and Open Source Software Law Review, Vol 1, No 2 (2009) that I think you’ll find interesting. It compares various FOSS licenses and how they handle compilations and collective works. The context of the article is specifically packaging Linux with an application into a software appliance, but the descriptions of the licenses and how they work are broadly useful in other contexts as well. I am republishing the article here because many of you face choices about what license you will use on your works, so you also need to understand, and others of you are lawyers who would like to understand FOSS licenses better.”

    tags: open source

  • Red Hat released the first beta of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.5, providing memory allocation enhancements to the KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) hypervisor. RHEL 5.5 also introduces new storage and WiFi drivers, and supports new AMD, IBM, and Intel processors, says the company.”

    tags: red-hat, linux, kvm

  • “So one of the things that’s clear is that even though the room represents hundreds of open source conference and journal papers, few of them have read any of the social science research on open source.”

    tags: open-source, innovation

  • “For instance, beyond open source’s licensing components is the idea of its community, which in many cases can be the ultimate arbiter of the success or failure of an open source effort: Simply making an application available under an open source license may not necessarily be enough for a project to succeed, nor is adopting an open source license some kind of magic pixie dust that you sprinkle onto a project to make it successful.”

    tags: open-source, community, license

  • “Interestingly, the OpenECP project chose to license it under the Affero GPLv3, and we’re watching licensing moves to see if cloud computing prompts more use of AGPL.”

    tags: cloud, GPL, open-source

  • “The Ubuntu Opportunistic Developer is Ubuntu Community Manager Jono Bacon’s pet project. The idea behind the project is to enable developers to write quick, scratch-an-itch application and making development on Ubuntu fun and more accessible.”

    tags: ubuntu, linux

  • “Yale owns two islands. But you can’t get to either of them by air, land or sea.

    They exist only in Second Life, an online universe where people can buy land and trade services.

    The University purchased its first virtual island, Elihu, in 2007. While the second island lies fallow and Elihu Island currently has only two projects, people involved with the projects said Yale’s presence on Second Life is a cost-effective teaching tool — each island costs $700 to buy and $147.50 a month to maintain — that they hope the University expands.”

    tags: second-life, virtual-world, yale

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Virtual Life with Linux: Standalone OpenSim on Ubuntu 9.10

As a complement to my Life with Linux blog series, I’m introducing another series which explores what I can do in virtual worlds and immersive Internet environments on Linux.

Last night I decided to play with OpenSim, aka OpenSimulator, which is, according to its website:

OpenSimulator is a 3D Application Server. It can be used to create a virtual environment (or world) which can be accessed through a variety of clients, on multiple protocols. OpenSimulator allows you to develop your environment using the technologies you feel work best – we’ve designed the software to be easily extendable through loadable modules to build completely custom configurations. OpenSimulator is released under a BSD License, making it both open source, and commercially friendly to embed in products.

I’ve fiddled with it before, but never really got something up and running very long. My new plan is experiment with opensim locally and then install it on my SliceHost account so I can access the virtual world regions from anywhere. My goals for last night were simple:

  1. Download and install OpenSim on my desktop running Ubuntu Linux 9.10 “Karmic Koala.”
  2. Create four regions arranged in a square and start them off with perfectly flat terrain. I planned to call the four regions Zeus, Hera, Athena, and Poseidon.

Continue reading

Daily links for 02/10/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Life with Linux: Adding a Mac-like dock

One of the nice things about using a Mac is the dock, the area on the bottom of the screen that contains the Finder (file and directory lister) and other applications you use. It’s very customizable and you can add and remove applications at will. In fact, I’ve now moved mine over to the right edge of my screen since I have a lot more horizontal real estate than vertical.

By default, Ubuntu, Fedora, and other Gnome-based user interfaces do not come with a dock, but it is easy to add. Like many things with open source and Linux, you have more than one choice. This is a good thing, because competition drives each to be better. After reading about and playing with several, I settled on Cairo Dock. Here are a few comments on my experience of setting it up on Ubuntu Karmic Koala 9.10.

Cairo Dock on Ubuntu 9.10

First, a note about versions. The Cairo Dock that was in the Ubuntu repositories when I checked last night was 2.0, but you really want 2.1. Themes did not work properly when I first downloaded and ran it from the repositories, but I later found 2.1 and all was good. This is a good resource for getting and installing version 2.1.

When it is first installed, there aren’t too many apps in the dock for you. Add more by opening the Applications menu and dragging the app to the dock. You can drag and drop the applications left and right on the dock. (When on the dock, the applications are called “launchers.”) Right click on a launcher and choose “Remove this launcher” to get rid of one.

There is a definite right and left side to the dock and you don’t seem to be able to move the system utilities on the right to the left. You can add additional docks if you wish.

If you right click on a launcher and then choose Cairo-Dock | Manage Themes you can select another look and feel for your dock, including one that looks a lot like Mac OS X. If you have heavily modified your dock by adding and removing launchers, you should save your theme first before moving to a new one.

When you start your Linux desktop, the dock is not displayed by default. There is an option to fire it up on startup from the menu you get when you right click a launcher, but I suggest you wait and see if you really want to keep it. The menu item for starting Cairo Dock is in Applications | System Tools. If your graphics hardware and driver support it, I recommend you go with the version that supports OpenGL. You’ll get a much snazzier dock and UI effects.

Also See: Life with Linux: The series

Daily links for 02/09/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 02/08/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 02/07/2010

  • “Have you ever watched a BBQ cook-off on television, or gone to one of these live events and thought that judges at these events had the best job in the world? Well they do. However, to get one of these coveted non-paying positions you have to become a Certified BBQ Judge, and this article will show you just how easy it is to meet this requirement.”

    tags: bbq

  • “BuddyPress is a bundled collection of plugins and themes for creating a social network service around an installation of the popular open source blog engine WordPress MU.”

    tags: buddypress, wordpress, social-networking

  • “The OpenLuna Foundation seeks to return mankind to the lunar surface, first through robotic missions, followed by manned exploration, culminating in an eight person permanent outpost, and to do all of this in a way that it is accessible to everyone. Our research and technology will be open-source, we are privately funded, and one of our specific goals is to reach out to the community and educational systems to spread interest, enthusiasm, and involvement.”

    tags: space, luna

  • “Now, the author is quick to point out the caveats of the graph (and does so for four paragraphs), and notes that he was hesitant to even publish it because of how easy it is to misinterpret. The graph, while it shows commits, doesn’t weigh more important ones versus less important ones. Nor does it in any way measure the ways in which companies or individuals contribute to WebKit in other meaningful ways. That said, it does clearly show that in late 2009, Google surpassed Apple as the company that now contributes the most (again, in terms of commits) to the project.”

    tags: apple, google, chrome, safari, browser, webkit

  • “The Linux and open source community does not want to find itself back where it was in the mid-to-late 90’s, where it was relegated to servers and the desktops of fan-boys and uber-geeks. This is not where Linux wants to be. The last five years has blessed Linux with so much growth. But if Linux can not gain a foothold in the tablet PC market, that growth could wither away.”

    tags: linux, tablet

  • “It’s been a long time in the coming but this year Linux will get a makeover, thanks to the Gnome project. In September the Gnome team, makers of one of the most popular desktop interfaces for Linux, will release version 3.0 of their desktop environment and they are promising “big user-visible changes”.”

    tags: linux, gnome

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

“Heighth” vs. “Height”

This entry is one in a series that tackles issues of proper word use and grammar in English.

When speaking of three dimensions, we often use words like “width,” “breadth,” and “depth.” The fourth word commonly used in “height,” which is odd because it is missing the final “h.” Nevertheless, that is correct.

There is no word “heighth.” Always use “height.”

Also see: Series list: Proper word use and grammar in English

First impressions: Twinity virtual world

Twinity logo

I recently had a chance to try out the beta for a new virtual world called Twinity. Like Second Life, Twinity aims to be a virtual world where you can wander around, meet and talk with people, shop, and augment your avatar and your living space, if you have one. This is a beta, and so there are some issues, but I think it’s a pretty cool approach.

Continue reading

Daily links for 02/06/2010

  • Microsoft will no longer offer Linux or Unix versions of its enterprise search products after a wave of releases set to ship in the first half of this year, the company announced in an official blog post Thursday.”

    tags: microsoft, linux, search

  • “The solution was Second Life Enterprise, which the company unveiled publicly in November. The nascent software incorporates all the interface and peer-to-peer interaction of Second Life without the security threats and lurking lewdness.

    In other words, Tech purchased its own mini Second Life server that can be accessed only by authorized students, teachers and researchers. Its employees have the authority to regulate, to keep things G-rated and educationally relevant.”

    tags: second-life, virtual-world

  • “The folks at the OpenLuna project take that line to heart. OpenLuna is an open source, wiki-based attempt to design a leaner, meaner, public driven moon mission. As with any open source project, they encourage everyone to participate. When they run into questions, problems and challenges, they pose them to the crowd and invite people from every field to weigh in.”

    tags: nasa, moon, openluna

  • Apple represents the “auteur model of innovation,” observes John Kao, a consultant to corporations and governments on innovation. In the auteur model, he said, there is a tight connection between the personality of the project leader and what is created. Movies created by powerful directors, he says, are clear examples, from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” to James Cameron’s “Avatar.””

    tags: apple, innovation

  • “The term “enterprise” in the category name indicates that solutions are suitable for use in the workplace, as opposed to recreational use (e.g., consumer video games and recreational virtual worlds), and are scalable, secure, and stable enough for at least some work-related use cases. Because the enterprise immersive software market grew out of four distinct ancestral origins (virtual worlds, serious games, business applications, and learning simulations), the software products in the category vary widely in features and functionality.”

    tags: virtual-world

  • “One recent improvement in the Wonderland platform is of particular interest to enterprise users who may have previously been hesitant about using the software because of licensing issues.

    Under Wonderland’s GPL license, any improvements to the core code have to be donated back to the community if they are distributed to the public — and having users log into the world remotely counts as “distribution.””

    tags: virtual-world, wonderland

  • “alien is a program that converts between Redhat rpm, Debian deb, Stampede slp, Slackware tgz, and Solaris pkg file formats. If you want to use a package from another linux distribution than the one you have installed on your system, you can use alien to convert it to your preferred package format and install it. It also supports LSB packages.”

    tags: linux

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 02/05/2010

  • “Canonical Ltd., the commercial sponsor of Ubuntu, announced today that open source industry veteran Matt Asay has joined the company as chief operating officer (COO) — responsible for aligning strategic goals and operational activities, the optimization of day-to-day operations, and leadership of Canonical marketing and back-office functions.”

    tags: canonical, ubuntu, linux, alfresco

  • “Right after WordPress launched their Android app, the WP crew finished the final touches on their Blackberry app that rivals the one they built upon Google’s mobile OS.”

    tags: wordpress, blackberry

  • “Most of this information is based on my experience working on Second Life at Linden Lab from 2001 to 2009. SL is a highly complex virtual world, incorporating the features of Web services, online games, 3D modeling and programming tools, IM and VOIP, and so on. Between 2006 and 2007, the userbase grew dramatically, and while it has become more manageable, it continues to grow today. We ran into all manner of scaling challenges, and had mixed success meeting them; ultimately SL did grow to meet the new levels of demand, but we certainly made some mistakes, and there were periods where the reliability of the system really suffered.”

    tags: second-life, datacenter

  • “(GIMP) is undergoing a significant transformation. The next major release, version 2.8, will introduce an improved user interface with an optional single-window mode. Although this update is still under heavy development, users can get an early look by compiling the latest source code of the development version from the GIMP’s version control repository.”

    tags: gimp, linux

  • “The Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education (VW-BPE) is a community-based conference that provides opportunities for participants of virtual worlds to share current teaching, learning and research practices in 3D virtual environments. Conference presentations focus on teaching/learning, scholarly work, projects, events, activities and new and innovative tools for virtual education. Conference presenters’ focus on the identification of ‘best practices in education’ designed for 3D virtual world technology.”

    tags: second-life, virtual-world, education

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Linux Foundation Announces 2010 “We’re Linux” Video Contest

After the great success of last year’s video contest, the Linux Foundation has announced this year’s competition:

SAN FRANCISCO, February 5, 2010 – The Linux Foundation (LF), the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux, today announced the 2010 “We’re Linux” video contest. The contest seeks to find the best user-generated videos that demonstrate what Linux means to those who use it and inspire others to try it.

The contest is calling all community members and amateur filmmakers to share with the public what a 30-60 second Linux-focused spot for the Super Bowl might look like. This theme is not a requirement for entry; however, videos that can demonstrate the benefits of Linux to the general public are likely to receive more community votes. The submissions should aim to inspire people to use Linux, create conversations among the public, and convey the power and ideals of Linux.

The judges are:

  • Andrew Morton, lead Linux kernel maintainer;
  • Stephen O’Grady, co-founder, Red Monk;
  • Stormy Peters, executive director, Gnome Foundation;
  • Brandon Phillips, Linux kernel developer, Novell;
  • Bob Sutor, VP, Open Source and Linux, IBM Software Group; and
  • Steven Vaughan-Nichols, journalist, ComputerWorld.

It’s my understanding that the judges will be sequestered in some tropical paradise to thoughtfully decide this year’s winner, though I may be horribly mistaken.

(I’m joking, unfortunately.)

Daily links for 02/04/2010

  • “How is LinuxCon different than other events? In a number of ways. This is an event specific to the Linux community, but within that, it encompasses all matters Linux. Other events specifically target certain groups in the ecosystem, but LinuxCon is the only event that really brings together a diverse group of all types of industry leaders and contributors – from business executives and end users, to developers (both in the kernel and out), to the systems administrators and senior technology operations leaders. “

    tags: linuxcon, linux

  • “The Linux Foundation has announced that the Call for Papers deadline for LinuxCon 2010 will be the 31st of March. Registration for the non-profit organisation’s second annual conference, which will take place from the 10th to the 12th of August, 2010 in Boston Massachusetts, is now open.”

    tags: linux

  • “To help users discover the Linux distribution that’s best for them, this resource will definitively list the best candidates for the various types of Linux users to try.”

    tags: linux

  • “The site’s engineers have announced HipHop, which turns the popular and dynamic PHP code into highly optimized but static C++ and then compiles it using the GNU C++ compiler, g++. The change has been released to the community under the PHP license, and you can read more here.”

    tags: php, facebook

  • “The Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education (VW-BPE) is a community-based conference that provides opportunities for participants of virtual worlds to share current teaching, learning and research practices in 3D virtual environments. Conference presentations focus on teaching/learning, scholarly work, projects, events, activities and new and innovative tools for virtual education. Conference presenters’ focus on the identification of ‘best practices in education’ designed for 3D virtual world technology.”

    tags: second-life, virtual-world, education

  • “Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) (NYSE: SAI) today announced it has purchased Forterra Systems Inc.’s On-Line Interactive Virtual Environment (OLIVE(TM)) product line, including all names, trademarks and licenses.”

    tags: forterra, virtual-world

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

IBM releases Lotus Symphony 3 Beta 2

Lotus Symphony logo

IBM just released Lotus Symphony 3 Beta 2:

Lotus Symphony 3 Beta 2 represents a major new advancement for our Lotus Symphony users. Based on current OpenOffice.org 3 code stream. Lotus Symphony 3 Beta 2 offers loads of new features and capabilities and improved file fidelity. The Lotus Symphony team is excited to get it out to you and get your feedback.

This is a very big upgrade as is indicated by the jump from version 1.3 to version 3. The beta is available for Linux desktops, Mac OS X, and even Windows.

Also see the ZDNet blog entry “IBM launches Lotus Symphony 3 beta; Office alternatives pile up” by Larry Dignan for some screen shots.

What would ODF support for WordPress look like?

WordPress logo

I was having a conversation today with a friend and somehow we got onto the topic of support for ODF, the Open Document Format, in WordPress. Drupal has some import support for ODF word processing files and that effort appears to be quite active (in the sense that there was an update to the module yesterday).

Thinking of WordPress as a content management system, importing an ODF file means taking a word processing, presentation, or spreadsheet document and putting into a form that can be saved and displayed by WordPress, either in a blog post or a standalone page. For simple text, this would mean translating to HTML. Doing a bit more work, it could mean using HTML and CSS for formatting. Getting even fancier, it could incorporate extra JavaScript or PHP code to handle spreadsheets in a live manner.

Import is hard because you need to be able to do something with anything that’s in any document. If you can’t handle something, you had better tell the user what you decided to discard. A minimal import for word processing files, as I mentioned above, might respect all words in the text, paragraph structure, bold, italic, colors, headings, and a few other simple things. In this case I would think of the import as “take this file and do something sensible, if not perfect, with it.”

Export is easier to imagine. Given the range of things that can be done in WordPress posts and pages, I would think that only a relatively small subset of ODF would be needed beyond the packaging and some straightforward text markup. Here I would take as my model “what would this WordPress page look like if I printed it, and what ODF file would I have to create to generate equivalent output?”

Given this, I would tackle the export to ODF feature first, but there is a core question that needs to be answered. Why? That is, given a web page generated by WordPress, why do you need to generate ODF form? I must admit I’m somewhat strapped to come up with good reasons, though I could probably make up a couple.

It is more interesting to consider how to take documents created in ODF by something like Lotus Symphony and then import them into WordPress for publishing. That’s the key word: publishing. So though the problem is harder, having various ways of importing documents into WordPress from ODF would likely be much more useful.

Assuming this as the preferred direction of work and looking at how WordPress can be extended, it’s worthwhile to ask what you might do with plugins or themes to make the import even better. While I like the idea of the result being theme independent, having one or two plugins that added some cool support for imported spreadsheets or presentations could potentially be quite nice.

Daily links for 02/03/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily Links for 02/01/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.