Daily links for 04/30/2010

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

Daily links for 04/28/2010

  • “For their part, IBM officials said since IBM’s Migration Factory program began four years ago, almost 2,700 businesses have migrated their workloads onto IBM servers and storage. Most have come from high-end HP and Oracle/Sun customers, with 95 and 117 customers, respectively, moving in 2010 so far.”

    tags: ibm, dell, oracle, hp, sun, server

  • “However, iPad owners at all three–Cornell, Princeton, and George Washington universities–have faced varying degrees of connectivity issues. CNET contacted all three institutions, and they all categorically denied that the iPad was ever banned on their campuses.”

    tags: ipad, apple

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

DMV bliss: life in a small town

I have lived in various towns and cities in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. With the exception of Massachusetts and where I live now, every interaction with the Department of Motor Vehicles (or whatever they called it locally) was a pain in the neck. Long lines, absurd forms, and cranky officials made me dread having anything to do with them.

Massachusetts is excluded only out of my lack of experience there: I never had to get or renew my driver’s license, car registration, or car inspection in that state.

My current home village and town is not on the bad list because it is a pleasure. Here’s today’s story.

I was away last week and my car inspection was set to expire at the end of the week. Also, my driver’s license expires in three weeks. I needed to get both of them taken care of this week, and Monday and Tuesday were tied up with work and a business trip. I was hoping to get one task done today and the other Thursday or Friday.

After I dropped my son off at school and returned a rental car from my business trip (long story), I brought my car to a local oil change/service station for the inspection. There were no other customers, so in 35 minutes I got the inspection done, the oil changed, the car lubed, the fluids topped, and I was out of there. I managed to do parts of two business calls as well. One down.

Since this was my first driver’s license renewal in ten years, I needed to get an eye test. One option was to go to a optometrist or ophthalmologist and have it done there, and then send in the form in with the test results. The other was to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles, which happens to be in my village since it is the county seat.

After doing some more business calls, I left the house at 11:32. I drove to the DMV, there was no one in line, they did the eye test, I got a new photo taken, we completed all the paperwork, and I got my new interim license. The new photo license will be mailed to me within two weeks.

As I walked out of the county building, I glanced at my watch: 11:46. It had taken 14 minutes to both get to the DMV and do everything necessary. I ran an errand and was home 35 minutes after I had left.

This town and village in upstate New York are such a pleasure to live in compared with any place else in my personal experience. The combination of the low cost and high quality of living is amazing, though I must admit the regional political bent could be a lot more to my liking. You can’t have everything, but at least I do have a new license.

Daily links for 04/27/2010

  • “But what might be more impressive than that is the continued growth of the company’s now 10-year-old title Bejeweled, an iteration of which is available as an application within Facebook. According to the company, the 11 million or so monthly active users average a staggering 43 minutes per session. All this for a game that only lasts a minute.
    PopCap CEO David Roberts and co-founder John Vechey stopped by the CNET offices last week to talk about these two titles, as well as a few other topics, like digital-rights management, 3D gaming, and competing social games like Zynga’s Farmville. Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.”

    tags: popcap, ipad

  • “So whether you want to cut the dead wood, give your Twitter account a spruce up for the spring, filter out unwanted noise, or just get a little bit more organized, read on for a quick guide, complete with free online resources to help.”

    tags: twitter, tools

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

Daily links for 04/26/2010

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

The Shedd Aquarium, Chicago

Last week my family and I went to Chicago to visit my daughter Katie who is in college there. Our primary planned activity was seeing chef and author Anthony Bourdain at the Chicago Theatre, but we took some time on Saturday afternoon to visit the Shedd Aquarium, part of the huge museum complex that juts out into Lake Michigan.

It’s a terrific aquarium and though it was a broad collection from around the world, its emphasis and displays on the Great Lakes is excellent. We arrived after lunch on Saturday and were shocked that we had to wait in line outside over half an hour before we could buy our tickets.

Below are some photos of the experience and the fish and other animals. I was curious how my little Canon PowerShot SD780 would do with the fish since I would obviously be photographing them through glass and water.

Overall, the verdict is “pretty well.” It would have been better if the fish had stop moving for me, but most of them were singularly uncooperative in that regard. Here’s the best of the batch.

Photo from Shedd Aquarium, Chicago Photo from Shedd Aquarium, Chicago Photo from Shedd Aquarium, Chicago Photo from Shedd Aquarium, Chicago Photo from Shedd Aquarium, Chicago Photo from Shedd Aquarium, Chicago Photo from Shedd Aquarium, Chicago Photo from Shedd Aquarium, Chicago

Daily links for 04/24/2010

  • “What is SOS Open Source? SOS Open Source is an automated methodology to to qualify and select open source software.
    What is SOS Open Source aimed for? SOS Open Source returns a score for each open source candidates, based on strength (stable, mature and backed by a viable community), level of support (either by a community or vendors) and promise of evolution (have readable and maintainable code).”

    tags: open-source

  • “Hardly a day goes by when I don’t have a rookie entrepreneur ask for advice on raising money from VCs. They usually have a fancy-looking business plan with detailed spreadsheets showing how their company will be worth billions by capturing just 1% of a market. All they need is some financing, and they’ll take the world by storm. My advice is always the same: ditch the business plan, and buy a lottery ticket. Your odds are better, and you’ll suffer less stress.”

    tags: startup

  • “I tried reading papers on the Kindle a while back, and I didn’t find the experience to be particularly compelling. I missed the graphics and navigation aids I expected with the physical papers. But on the iPad, the applications look a lot better, and in general, reading the papers that way has been a great experience.”

    tags: ipad

  • “Wondering what games to buy for your new iPad? Well, this early in the product’s life, it’s actually pretty hard to sort the really good stuff from the just decent stuff, particularly with the prices for many games being so much higher than their iPhone counterparts. But we took a shot at putting together a list of top titles that we feel meet the criteria for a good iPad game.”

    tags: ipad, games

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

Daily links for 04/23/2010

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

Appliances and Linux

A couple of days ago I posted a link to a video I made with Novell‘s Tom Crabb about appliances and the role of Linux in them. Here are a few additional comments.

In your kitchen you have special appliances that, presumably, do individual things well. Your refrigerator keeps things cold,  your oven makes them hot, and your blender purees and liquifies them. There is room in a kitchen for each of these. They work individually but when you are making a meal they each have a role to play in creating the whole.

You could go out and buy the metal, glass, wires, electrical gadgets, and so on that you would need to make each appliance but it is is faster, cheaper, and undoubtably safer to buy them already manufactured. For each device you have a choice of providers and you can pay more for additional features and quality.

In the IT world it is far more common to buy the bits and pieces that make up a final solution. That is, you might separately order the hardware components, the operating system, and the applications, and then have someone put them all together for you. If you have an existing configuration you might add more blades or more storage devices.

You don’t have to do this, however, in every situation. Just from a hardware perspective, you can buy a ready-made machine just waiting for the on switch to be flicked and the software installed. Conversely, you might get a pre-made software image with operating system and applications in place, ready to be provisioned to your choice of hardware. We can get even fancier in that the software image might be deployable onto a virtual machine and so be a ready made solution runnable on a cloud.

Thus in the IT world we can talk about hardware-only appliances, software-only appliances (often called virtual software appliances), and complete hardware and software combinations. The last is most comparable to that refrigerator or oven in your kitchen.

Appliances in the IT world are not new. Datapower, for example, goes back almost a decade with XML processing. There have also been appliances for security, search, spam detection and elimination, and many other specific applications. So we’re well past the pioneer stage, and now we’re focused on ease of creation, deployment, and value.

Let’s focus on the virtual software appliances. Since the image is created to solve one class of problem, it really shouldn’t contain every possible feature in the operating system or possibly even in the applications that run on top of it. It should be just the right size and tuned for just the right use. This makes a simpler environment that takes up less room, is easier to maintain, and might be faster or more efficient.

That means that if you had the ability to package just the parts of the operating system that you needed and dropped the rest, your custom appliance will fit your job better without extra stuff thrown in. Getting back to my kitchen analogy, if all you are going to do is make scrambled eggs, that $300 stove will work as well as the $5000 one. Why pay for or install the high end model if you aren’t going to use all the features?

This is where Linux really shines when making virtual software appliances. Linux is composed of hundreds of packages and you can pick and choose among them to create just the base operating system you need. Now many of them are related, so you do need an understanding of which groups of packages you need to install to get the functionality you need. This can be done manually or more easily via a tool like Novell’s SUSE Studio. Either way, Linux gives you as little or as much as what you want to get the job done.

Beyond the operating system, the applications deliver and define the appliance. IBM’s Lotus Foundations puts together functions like email, calendars, contacts, file sharing, and backup into one appliance. Moreover, since the whole idea of appliances is to give you just what you need, you can create and use a basic model today and perhaps later grow up to another more advanced version with more functions or capabilities for more users.

An appliance might have one main application on top of the operating system or it may have several. If there is more than one, they need to work together and they need to interoperate with other software the user has on other machines. Open standards are therefore very important and should be on your appliance checklist when vetting your choices. Note that some people may start with appliances and then “grow up” into larger installations or, I expect, move to the cloud.

Ultimately your datacenter may have several appliances in addition to more general purpose hardware and software. Think of your kitchen: it has a range of specialized devices as well as multifunction ones. Your needs and budget determine the mix, the quality, and the quantity.

Pick and choose your appliances carefully. Focus on Linux as the operating system in the appliances because of its range of configurations, flexibility, security, performance, scalability, and general quality of service. Then worry about the applications, how they work together, and how well they employ open industry standards to plug into the rest of your critical infrastructure.

Daily links for 04/22/2010

  • “As part of our ongoing effort to develop an open platform for WhiteHouse.gov, we’re releasing some of the custom code we’ve developed. This code is available for anyone to review, use, or modify. We’re excited to see how developers across the world put our work to good use in their own applications.”

    tags: whitehouse, open-source

  • “This tutorial will show you how to consume and process data from Twitter‘s new streaming API. The code examples, which are written in the Python programming language, demonstrate how to establish a long-lived HTTP connection with PyCurl, buffer the incoming data, and process it to perform the basic message display functions of a Twitter client application. We will also take a close look at how the new streaming API differs from the existing polling-based REST API.”

    tags: twitter, python, API, streaming

  • “Oracle has imposed a fee of US$90 per user on a plug-in for Microsoft Office that was available at no cost under Sun Microsystems’ ownership.
    The tool allows Word, Excel and PowerPoint users to read, edit and save documents in the ODF (Open Document Format), which is used by the competing OpenOffice productivity suite.”

    tags: oracle, odf

  • “We should want companies to invest in ODF tools.  We should want the demand for ODF to be such that ODF-based goods and services have value, can be sold based on that value, and that there is competition again in the market, something we have not seen in this area in many years.”

    tags: odf, oracle

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

Math Quick Take: Repeating Decimals

When students first start learning about fractions and decimals, they see that

1/2 = .5
1/3 = .3333333333...
1/4 = .25
1/5 = .2
1/6 = .1666666666...

Some of the decimals are simple and others repeat, but evidently in a pretty straightforward way. Then they see

1/7 = .142857142857142857...

Where did that come from? Continuing a bit further

1/8 = .125
1/9 = .1111111111...
1/10 = .1
1/11 = .0909090909...
1/12 = .0833333333...

Has sanity returned? But then

1/13 = 0.076923076923...

Something is going on here, obviously. Rational numbers either terminate or repeat endlessly in blocks.

Given the block of digits abcd, for example, the fraction abcd/9999 will repeat as .abcdabcdabcd….

This is why 1/9 = .11111111... and similarly 2/9 = .22222222.... Also, 1/3 = 3/9 = .33333333....

In case you didn’t realize it, .99999999... = 9/9 = 1.

If you have n digits that repeat in a block, you divide the block by n 9s to get the fraction corresponding to the repeating decimal.

Now you can do designer repeating decimals. Love the sequence 54321? Then 54321/99999 = .5432154321....

Going back to one of the examples we saw before .142857142857142857... = 142857/999999. But then reducing fractions we have 142857/999999 = 1/7, as expected.

What about values like .0833333333...? This is

  = .08 + .0033333333...
  = 8/100 + .33333333... /100
  = 8/100 + (3/9)/100
  = 9*8/9*100 + 3/9*100
  = 75/900
  = 1/12

So given a decimal with a final repeating section, you can get back to the fraction that has the decimal equivalence.

For fun, find the fractions that correspond to the decimals:

  • .001001001...
  • .202202202...
  • 1.2341234...
  • 7.54667667667...

My latest video: Novell, appliances, SUSE, microwaves, Linux

Bob in the video While I was at Novell‘s BrainShare conference last month in Salt Lake City, I sat down with Tom Crabb, Novell’s Enablement Manager and recorded a video. The topic was IT appliances, specifically virtual software appliances. You can see it here on Novell’s website.


  1. I could have sworn I was smiling the entire time, but evidently I forgot to do so fairly frequently.
  2. Note how I cleverly worked in a discussion of microwaves.
  3. You can check out the Amazon Machine Images running IBM software here.

Also see: “Appliances and Linux”

Daily links for 04/18/2010

  • “In the vast universe of Connexions, an open-source repository of course materials, Catherine Schmidt-Jones, known as Kitty, is something of a champion. She is one of the most prolific producers of “modules,” the chunks of information that are arranged — and can be rearranged — into courses. Her subject? Not English literature or math or other topics generally considered to be the core of education. It is music.”

    tags: music, courses, online, education

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

Daily links for 04/16/2010

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Two weeks ago tomorrow I planted some seeds for this summer’s vegetable garden and put them under grow lights in the basement. (“Starting the seeds for the Summer vegetable garden”) Dissatisfied after 10 days with having no growth evident, I moved the whole operation upstairs to the ping pong table in a sunny room.

Two days ago I say the first evidence of growth and yesterday, when this photo was taken, things were well underway.

Seeds sprouting

These are baby tomato plants and some of the basil has started to sprout. I’m still waiting for the peppers to make an appearance. Once I get solid growth in the majority of the cells, I’ll move the operation back to the basement.

Math software, dynamic languages, and the iPad

Will issues around multitasking and the new restrictions on the use of dynamic languages stop the Apple iPad from being used as a serious device for mathematical and scientific software?

Several days ago I did a blog post about how math software might be able to take advantage of tablets like the iPad that are now hitting the market. I spoke about some of the classical systems like Maple and Mathematica, as well as the one with which I was involved, Axiom.

If they were so inclined, it would be more possible to port the first two to the iPad than Axiom and systems like it because they are largely self-contained and are written in C or C++ (I believe). This means that they won’t automatically go afoul of Apple’s new modified clause 3.3.1 in their terms of service:

3.3.1 — Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).

Also see this 37signals entry on some complaints about the new 3.3.1 and Larry O’Brien’s “The Absurdity of Apple’s New iPhone Restrictions”.

While a lot of the attention has been on Adobe’s new cross-compiler and Java, this also evidently rules out using dynamic languages like Python and Scheme unless somehow, someway, things get translated into a binary that is completely indistinguishable from code as created as described in 3.3.1.

Axiom is written in Lisp and so that gets tossed in the waste bin. Note that Axiom is a huge system and a rather old one at this point, so I’m not saying that anyone would really want to port it to the iPad, but now we know they shouldn’t even bother.

Mathematical software for symbolic computation manipulates expressions that can get quite big, such as 21000:


Even worse are large polynomials and matrices. When you start calculating with them, many intermediate results can be produced and memory efficiency becomes very important.

Though you still have to have a good strategy around destructive and non-destructive object operations, with languages like Python, Java, and Scheme, you get built-in garbage collection. This is not true with C++ in general and while Objective-C now does have it on the Mac, it does not have it for the iPhone and iPad.

Also, Python and Scheme have bignums, those arbitrarily large integers like the one above that makes it easier to do calculations. (I know there are packages for other languages and interested readers should certainly look at GMP, the GNU MP Bignum Package for C and C++).

So if I were to write a serious math program for the iPad, one that could do large and sophisticated computations within the memory confines of the device, I would have to worry about linking in a package like GMP (which is GPL) and I would probably need to write some form of garbage collection, or otherwise have a very strict coding philosophy on managing object memory.

The former is very possible, the latter is a total pain in the neck here in 2010. Of course I would want to use Python or perhaps Java for a serious math application. With 3.3.1, that’s not in the cards, at least right now. I might consider other languages for performance reasons, but those would be my first two to consider.

Therefore if you were going to write that great next math app, you probably will want to do it for the Android or another Linux tablet. Will this have similar implications for other types of scientific software? I don’t mean toys for little problems, I mean professional-quality software.

While we’re at it, multitasking on any of these devices will be very important (once the iPad gets it later this year). No, don’t stop working on that big calculation and no, don’t kill my app because I’ve been doing other things. Will issues around the way tablets do multitasking keep serious math software off these new little gadgets?

Also see:

Daily links for 04/15/2010

conference logo

  • “The Politics of Open Source is the Journal of Information Technology and Politics’ 2nd annual thematic conference. The conference examines Free/Libre and Open Source Software, the movement surrounding it, and the political issues associated with it. Information about previous JITP conferences is available at www.umass.edu/jitp.”

    tags: open-source, politics, conference

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

Daily links for 04/14/2010

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Daily links for 04/13/2010

  • “Hank Williams, the country pioneer who is among the most influential singer-songwriters in music, was given a special Pulitzer Prize citation.
    The Pulitzer board awarded the late singer for his lifetime achievement, based on a confidential survey of experts in popular music.”

    tags: music, hank-williams, pulitzer

  • “So, unless things change drastically between Apple and Adobe in the next few weeks, from what I’m hearing you can expect to see Adobe taking Apple to court over the issue. It’s not going to be pretty.”

    tags: apple, adobe, flash

  • “The Apache Hadoop project develops open-source software for reliable, scalable, distributed computing.”

    tags: Apache, hadoop

  • “As massive amounts of data creates significant business challenges–and opportunities, jStart has been investigating how distributed computing might address some of those needs. Hadoop, an open source Apache project, is a technology which jStart has been leveraging with clients who generate significant amounts of data–data which is not being leveraged as effectively as it could be.”

    tags: ibm, hadoop, jStart

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

Math software in the age of the iPad and other tablets

Will the next generation of tablets lead to new and better user interfaces for mathematical software? Will this encourage the use of tablets in education?

Back in the 80s and 90s I was a member of the Mathematical Sciences Department in IBM Research in Yorktown Heights, NY. Under the leadership of Dick Jenks and with significant contributions from many internationally known computer algebra scientists and mathematicians, we produced mathematical software called Axiom. While it ultimately could not compete with more commercial offerings like Maple and Mathematica, it contained state of the art computer language features that only otherwise appeared much later in languages like Java, Python, and Ruby.

Axiom logoMathematical software like Axiom is not the same as a spreadsheet. Rather than compute extensively with decimals and produce charts, so called symbolic mathematical software factors huge integers, manipulates and factors polynomials, computes derivatives and integrals, simplifies trigonometric expressions, and performs arithmetic on matrices. These systems do much more and have extensive libraries for computation. Axiom also allows you to define categories like UniqueFactorizationDomain and then instantiate it into types like univariate polynomials in x whose coefficients are rational numbers.

Very fancy stuff. Axiom has the capability to express and solve some very difficult problems. This power comes at a price, however, and we spent a lot of time trying to make the system do simple problems easily and quickly. Maple and Mathematica certainly did and do better in that regard.

There are many open source systems out there of varying capabilities that do symbolic mathematics. For example, Sage rolls up a lot of different math software via Python. Maxima is an open source fork of one of the grandaddies of the computer algebra world, Macsyma, originally developed at MIT.

While any one system may do some things particularly well, it is Maple and Mathematica that have the bulk of the marketshare and the breadth of related products, not to mention polish and consistency. These are desktop programs for the most part, though Wolfram|Alpha does let you do some mathematical computations via its web interface.

What will mathematical software look like when the primary device being used is a tablet like the iPad or one of the upcoming Linux-based machines? Will we be using Wolfram|Alpha to solve all our problems in a browser? I doubt it.

First of all, we should not think of simply replicating the screen-based interfaces for the tablets. If I want a screen and mouse, I’ll use a laptop. What is different about the user interfaces of the tablets that will change how we do math?

Much of the focus will naturally be on education. Imagine this scenario: a teacher in a 7th grade math class tells her students “take out your tablets and compute the height of the tree given the values shown in the picture.” What would the students do?

First of all, the picture should be live in the sense that the numbers representing the lengths of various lines are not just dots on the screen but values that have units associated with them, e.g., 7 meters. Students should be able to open a calculation area, drag the numbers out of the picture, create expressions and equations, drag and drop values with their fingers from one side of an equals sign to the other, and document how the problem was solved. All on a tablet, in an intuitive way.

An economist reading a paper in a journal comes across an expression that he needs for some work. He selects the equation, drags it with his finger to his working notebook on the tablet, and then plugs in some numbers. To get to the tiny exponents he uses his fingers to squeeze open (zoom) the expression, and then shrinks it again when he is finished. When he is done, he can save the result or send it to a colleague.

Yes, I know this sounds a lot like notebooks for you Mathematica users. Those are primarily for desktop or laptop computers and certainly don’t use the native gestures or user interface of the iPad or those tablets that have yet to be introduced.

Will we just see a port of existing heavy duty math software described above or will we see brand new entries that rethink how problems should be solved? Probably, eventually, both, but I’m rooting for the latter since I want to see some innovation in this space. Yes porting over twenty year old technology will work for some people, but that’s not paving the way for radically new educational or problem solving software.

I want to be able to hand a tablet to a 12 year old and have the math software be so intuitive that he or she could be solving real problems in minutes. (Yes, I know there are serious questions about when computers or calculators should be used versus direct manual calculation, but that’s not a point I am trying to debate in this entry.)

What do you think? Will we see more of the same or radically new ways of doing math on tablets like the iPad? There are already fairly simple math programs for the iPhone and hence iPad, but what will the first really serious and different math applications look like and how will they take advantage of the new devices?

Also see:

Daily links for 04/12/2010

  • “But the best role model is Eclipse, formed through IBM‘s 2001 donation of its Java development software. IBM executives decided to share control when they realized “they needed Eclipse to become independent to achieve their strategic goal to have the broader Java ecosystem adopt Eclipse,” says Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation. Since then, the foundation has been able to attract outside participation not only through its formal processes, but also through new bottom-up initiatives created and led by outsiders.”

    tags: innovation, open, eclipse, open-source

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

Spring 2010 is well underway

Every week or so I’ve been documenting the flowers and flowering shrubs that have been making progress over our long winter here in northwestern New York (climate zone 5b). This last week has shown the great activity so far because it made it into the 80s F last weekend and, though it’s cooled off, we’ve had plenty of sunshine and some rain as well.

Here’s where we stand today.

Spring flowers Spring flowers Spring flowers Spring flowers Spring flowers Spring flowers

Still no sign of sprouting in the vegetable seeds I planted 9 days ago.

Next: “End of April flower status”

Daily links for 04/10/2010

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Daily links for 04/09/2010

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Daily links for 04/07/2010

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Daily links for 04/06/2010

  • “The EPL and the GPL are inherently incompatible licenses. That is the position of both the Free Software Foundation and the Eclipse Foundation. In preparing this we consulted with the FSF to make sure we fully understood their interpretation of the GPL and how it interacts with the EPL. You may not link GPL and EPL code together and distribute the result. It doesn’t matter if the linking is dynamic, static or whatever. This bears repeating: if you or your organization are distributing EPL and GPL licensed code linked together into a single program you are almost certainly violating both the EPL and the GPL.”

    tags: eclipse, epl, gpl, licenses, open-source

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

Daily links for 04/04/2010

  • “I would love those of you out there reading this who have never tasted veg grown in your own soil, to taste the sweetness of a crop which results from your own sweat and clay coated fingers. So that’s my plan, starting now and continuing at opportune points throughout the year, I will lead you through the creation, sowing and harvesting of your own home grown veg. There is no time like the present, come on, lets get a jump on the growing season by looking at a location for your productive garden.”

    tags: vegetable, garden

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

Daily links for 04/03/2010

  • “I get all the excitement about Apple‘s iPad. Even if it is just an iPad Touch writ large, that would be enough to make me want one as well. But the $499 price tag gives me pause, and I’m also not crazy about Apple’s locked-door policy toward developers and their iPad applications. That’s why I’ve been looking forward to the other cheaper, more open, and Linux-based tablets.”

    tags: ipad, linux

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

Starting the seeds for the Summer vegetable garden

I had targeted April 1 to start the seeds indoors for my vegetable garden for this Summer, and I only missed by one day. Last year I bought plants and started seeds in the ground, but did not begin any in early Spring. Usually you begin them inside 6 to 8 weeks before they should be transplanted outdoors, allowing for one week hardening outside before they go in the ground. I live in the northwest corner of New York State, in climate zone 5b.

I decided to use the Burpee “Ultimate Growing System.” This provides 72 cells and makes it much easier to keep the soil moist while the seeds germinate and get underway. You can put together your own system, but since it’s been several years since I started seeds I decided to keep it simple. I may need to transplant the seedlings to Jiffy pots if they get quite large, but that’s a decision for down the line.

Today I only planted seeds for tomatoes, peppers and basil. The majority of the seeds will be planted in the garden directly in mid-May, but I may start a few more seeds this weekend for flowers like Zinnias.

I ended up planting seeds for 6 varieties of tomatoes, hoping to get 3 plants of each; 4 varieties of peppers, hoping to get 4 plants of each; and 2 varieties of basil. Almost all the tomato and pepper cells were single seed plantings while the basil had 4 or 5 in each. Basil seeds are very small and it will be fine if I get more than one plant per cell. Cherry tomato seeds are also quite small, so those were double planted.

Each row of seeds was labeled with permanent ink on a plastic label, and the codes are reflected in the table below. I’ll augment the table to include other data as the process continues.

Seed starting

Label Type Variety Seeds Per Cell Days to Germination Germination Rate
T1 Tomato High Mowing Seeds Rose de Berne 1 - -
T2 Tomato High Mowing Seeds Sunkist F1 Hybrid 1 - -
T3 Tomato Burpee Big Boy Hybrid 1 - -
T4 Tomato Burpee Supersteak Hybrid 1 - -
T5 Tomato Burpee Super Sweet 100 Cherry Hybrid 2 - -
T6 Tomato Ferry-Morse Red Cherry 2 - -
B1 Basil Ferry-Morse Sweet 4-5 - -
B2 Basil Ferry-Morse Genovese 4-5 - -
P1 Pepper Burpee Crispy Hybrid 1 - -
P2 Pepper Burpee California Wonder 1 - -
P3 Pepper Ferry-Morse Anaheim 1 - -
P4 Pepper High Mowing Seeds Ring-O-Fire 1 - -

Once everything was planted, I put the whole contraption under grow lights in the basement. The lights are on a timer to be on between 7 AM and 7 PM.

Seed starting

Next: “Sprouts!”

Daily links for 04/02/2010

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

Interview with IBM’s head Linux honcho Dan Frye at Linux.com

Ahead of the Linux Foundation’s Collaboration Summit, Linux.com’s Jennifer Cloer has posted an interview with Dan Frye, IBM‘s vice president of Open Systems Development. Here’s a snapshot:

You will be talking about 10+ years of Linux at IBM. What has changed about Linux in a decade? What hasn’t?

Photo of Dan Frye

Frye: Whoa. Everything has changed. Nothing is the same, with the possible exception of the “can do” philosophy of the global Linux development team. Everything has evolved – the technology, the market, customer adoption, the development process (yes, Linux community does have processes, even if they’re frequently loathe to admit it….). And all for the better. One of the most amazing things about the Linux market has been unbroken chain of success over the past decade – not once did the Linux pause or even briefly decline. The rise of the Internet ushered in the age of open standard computing with customers demanding freedom from relying upon any single, closed operating system provider. As a result, today, Linux is an unstoppable force in the industry, changing the economics of information technology, driving open standards in a way never before possible, and advancing customer innovation.

The Collaboration Summit runs from April 14 to 16 in San Francisco.

March showers bring April flowers

It’s the 2nd of April here in northwest New York State and the weather forecast calls for a high of 80 degrees F (27 C) today. This is very unusual, but I’ll take it. Last night we were able to sleep with a window open for the first time this year. We’ll certainly have colder weather and even frosts between now and mid-May, but I plan to enjoy this while I’ve got it.

I have a a lot of outdoor projects planned for this weekend, most of which are cleanup projects after the winter. As I walked around the yard the last couple of days making my plans, I couldn’t help but notice how many flowers and plants have either bloomed are almost ready to do so. As a continuation of my series of photos of the changing of the seasons, here is an update on what the flora around my house are doing in early Spring.

Spring flowers Spring flowers Spring flowers Spring flowers Spring flowers Spring flowers

Next: “Spring 2010 is well underway”

Daily links for 04/01/2010

Red Hat logo

  • Red Hat, Inc. (RHT 29.27, +0.34, +1.18%) , the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced the availability of the fifth update to the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 platform, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.5. Adding features designed to operate across physical, virtual and cloud deployments, the update offers enhanced virtualization and interoperability capabilities combined with support for important new hardware platforms. As with all Red Hat updates, application compatibility and certification with the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 platform is fully maintained, meaning the broad portfolio of certified applications for Red Hat Enterprise Linux applies to the new update. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.5 is available to subscribing customers via Red Hat Network today.”

    tags: red-hat, linux

  • “The Python programming language has gained popularity as one of the components of the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and Python/Perl/PHP) stack. Python has seen a resurgence in programmer interest, and dynamic languages such as Ruby and Python have emerged as alternatives to languages like Java and C#.”

    tags: python, cloud, eweek

  • “Unseasonable temperatures forecast to hit 70 degrees greeted anglers today for the opening of trout season on New York’s inland waters.”

    tags: trout

  • Apple iPad

    “The first Apple iPad reviews are in and not-too-surprisingly they are all bullish on the device. Unfortunately, you’re not going to learn much about the iPad from the reviews until you take one for a spin and ponder your own personal use case scenarios.”

    tags: ipad, Apple

  • “OUR horseradish roots looked so innocent when they arrived in the mail last spring. Just little brown sticks, about eight inches long and as narrow as pencils.

    But last weekend, when we harvested the year-old roots of one plant, they were on the atomic side of hot.”

    tags: horseradish, gardening

  • “As unlikely as it sounds, some people are willingly, even enthusiastically, spending upward of $1,000 on shredders heavy duty enough to reduce personal documents and other items to the consistency of confetti — particularly during tax season, or high shredding season, when shredder sales peak every year.”

    tags: shredders, nytimes

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