Daily links for 02/21/2010

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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

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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

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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

Top searches that hit my blog

For all the things I write about in this blog, some phrases come up over and over as the most popular search targets. It’s not my discussions of open standards or open source, or even my occasional ramblings about Dylan or Springsteen. The image below shows the top search phrases in descending order over the last five months.

top search hits on blog

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

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.

Daily Links for Sunday, January 31, 2010

Linux

7 of the Best Free Linux Calculators
LinuxLinks News

To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 7 high quality Linux calculator tools. Hopefully, there will be something of interest for anyone who wants more functionality offered by simple calculators such as gcalctool (the default calculator provided with Gnome).

Virtual world resources and directory

I’ve just added a page to this site containing links to resources and books about virtual worlds and 3D networked online games. Suggestions for additions welcome.

In looking through the available books, I was struck by the number that have been published in the last six months. That said, those addressing education and virtual worlds tend to be quite expensive. I understand the issues around lower volume and smaller audiences, but I’m not sure those high prices will attract many readers. It’s a general problem in the book world, especially the academic book world, but it’s still striking in comparison to the more major market books.

Next generation virtual worlds: preliminaries

I’m about to start another series of blog entries on what I see are some of the most important issues to consider for the next generation of virtual worlds. Since I’ve written a fair amount before on these networked 3D immersive environments, I thought it would be worthwhile to provide a list of my older blog entries to provide some history of my thinking, make it easy to see where I agree or disagree with what I thought a few years ago, and to ensure that I’m at least considering everything I once thought important.

So here are the previous blog entries in chronological order:

My OSBC 2010 keynote

I’ll be giving a keynote in March at the Open Source Business Conference (OSBC). The conference is on March 17 and 18 at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.

OSBC banner

Here’s the title and abstract for my talk:

Title: Asking the Hard Questions about Open Source Software

Abstract: Businesses have had decades of experience in acquiring software directly, on hardware, in services engagements, and through system integrators. As more and more organizations consider using open source, it’s important to uniformly hold all acquired software to high standards regarding quality, security, performance, and value for money spent in acquisition, support, and maintenance. Additionally, open source software adds questions about inclusiveness, governance, and longevity of communities. In this talk, I’ll discuss the questions you need to ask to ensure that you get more than what you pay for in the software you acquire.

Daily Links for Friday, January 29, 2010

Open Source

Wikimedia hires open-source veteran as CTO | Deep Tech – CNET News
CNet / Stephen Shankland

Danese Cooper, a former open-source community specialist at Sun and Intel, now will work on technology for Wikipedia and other projects.

Red Hat Launches Open Source Gathering Place
OStatic / Justin Ryan

No matter what you’re pleasure, chances are there is an online community serving it. The open source community has many such places – Linux.com, for example – that cater to specific elements of the community. Red Hat believes there is room for a larger community for the larger community, however, and have seen to the task themselves with Monday’s launch of opensource.com.

My new WordPress theme

Atahualpa screenshot

After working through a lot of issues with my website over the December holidays, I started to look for a more modern and, frankly, better looking theme. After trying a dozen or so, I finally settled on Atahualpa.

This theme had almost all the features I was looking for:

  • Variable number of columns, so I could use two for full pages and three for those with blog entries.
  • Customizable logo and header images.
  • Built-in CSS support for printing.
  • A professional looking design.

It doesn’t have automatic page navigation, but I can live with that for now. The theme has many ways to tweak it and allows you to “tiger stripe” tables (that is, alternate the color of rows). I turned this off, but it clearly represents a tremendous amount of work and refinement.

Incidentally, I generated the photos used in the header from images in my collection of screen wallpapers and backgrounds.

The Sirikata open source platform for games and virtual worlds

As many of you know, I’m still quite interested in virtual worlds and 3D immersive environments though I certainly don’t spend as much time in Second Life as I did several years ago. So from time to time I poke around and see what people are working on, and tonight I came across the Sirikata project from the Stanford Virtual Worlds Group in the Computer Science Department at Stanford University.

Documentation is a bit sparse, but the code has been released under the BSD license and is written in C++. Here’s the teaser video they’ve produced:

Sirikata Teaser from Sirikata on Vimeo.

The big player in open source virtual world platforms is OpenSim, an “extended subset” of Second Life. Croquet is another open source entry in this space.

For some of the research work by the Sirikata team, see

Daniel Horn, Ewen Cheslack-Postava, Tahir Azim, Michael J. Freedman, Philip Levis, “Scaling Virtual Worlds with a Physical Metaphor,” IEEE Pervasive Computing, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 50-54, July-Sept. 2009, doi:10.1109/MPRV.2009.54

Fixing my Firefox crash

Last night my Firefox browser started to crash. Not occasionally, but every single time I started to to type something in the search bar in the upper right hand corner. What the heck happened?

Firefox logo

There are several possibilities when an application suddenly starts getting buggy:

  • Gamma rays from outer space changed some of the bits on your hard drive, thereby messing up your software.
  • You are having hardware problems, such as memory glitches or hard drive problems, that are causing instability.
  • Your machine has been infected with a virus or a worm.
  • Some other application messed up a file that the application in question uses.
  • You deleted or otherwise mangled a configuration file or (for Windows) a registry entry.
  • You installed an operating system update that changed something, and that eventually caused your application to break.
  • You installed an update to the application itself.
  • For applications that support extensions, addons, or plugins, you added or updated one of those, and it broke your application.

When this bad behavior started, I popped over to another machine running the same operating system and checked to see if Firefox there was broken. It wasn’t.

Next I tried doing the same thing that demonstrated the problem 5 or 6 more times to see if it went away as magically as it appeared. It did not.

Ah, I thought, I bet I have Firefox 3.5! Will upgrading to Firefox 3.6 fix the problem? It didn’t, though it did tell me that several of my extensions were not yet available for Firefox 3.6.

Next I considered whether now was a perfect time to switch to Google Chrome. Perhaps, but that was avoiding the problem rather than fixing it.

I then completely, or so I thought, wiped Firefox from my machine and reinstalled it from scratch. That did not fix the problem.

I wondered … are my old extensions still installed? They were, so evidently my cleanup had been incomplete. I uninstalled them all and restarted Firefox. The problem was gone.

At that point I vaguely remembered that Firefox had asked to install some extension updates and I was so busy with something else that I just accepted it and got on with my work. That was before the problem started. Hmmm.

I started reinstalling my primary extensions and checked after each one to see if I had the problem. I didn’t, but I stopped after five. I suspect the problem was either in Firebug or YSlow, but I didn’t verify. I know that Adblock Plus, COLT, ColorfulTabs, Diigo Toolbar, and XMarks are not causing issues, and those other two extensions are the only ones I did not reinstall.

The moral of this, as with most debugging, is: if you change something and then your system is broken, what you changed caused the problem. It’s not always direct cause and effect, and you may not notice the problem for a while, but it’s good to strip back to basics and then add things in one by one until you can find the culprit.

Update: Consensus seems to be that the update to YSlow is problematic.

Daily Links for Wednesday, January 27, 2010 – Open Source Web Filtering Edition

Open Source

DansGuardian – True Web Content Filtering for All

DansGuardian is an award winning Open Source web content filter which currently runs on Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, Mac OS X, HP-UX, and Solaris. It filters the actual content of pages based on many methods including phrase matching, PICS filtering and URL filtering. It does not purely filter based on a banned list of sites like lesser totally commercial filters.

OpenDNS

OpenDNS makes networks in homes, schools and businesses safer, faster, smarter and more reliable through Web content filtering and navigation services.

Daily Links for Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Linux

Novell Delivers First Integrated Toolkit for Building, Testing and Managing Software Appliances

Novell today announced the availability of a suite of new tools that significantly reduces the time and cost for independent software vendors (ISVs) and enterprises to develop, deploy and manage software appliances. With the availability of the SUSE Appliance Toolkit, Novell now delivers the industry’s most complete and integrated solution for building, testing, updating and configuring software appliances across physical, virtual and cloud environments. The Toolkit features an onsite version of Novell’s innovative appliance-building solution SUSE Studio and new management tools that enable ISVs and enterprises to reduce software development time, installation cycles and maintenance costs.

Linux Foundation to World: Get a Job!
ITworld

Now, this week, the LF is expanding another program: their online and on-site training for Linux professionals. This expansion is primarily in the form of a new free webinar series that will kick off on March 1 with Jon Corbet’s “How to Contribute to the Linux Community” seminar. This is not a new presentation, as many attendees of Corbet’s programs at various Linux events can attest. What is new is the fact that anyone who signs up for the webinar will be able to watch it free of charge.

Hardware

HP shows off its slate computer while revealing a key disappointing detail (Windows)
CrunchGear / Matt Burns

But this slate is plagued by the same fundamental flaw as the vast majority of the current tablets: Windows. Phil states that the device will run plain-jane Windows 7. That’s a problem because even Windows 7 with its added touchscreen capabilities is not suited for extended tablet use without a stylus and Apple/Palm/RIM/HTC has proven to the world that we don’t need styluses.

Daily Links for Monday, January 25, 2010

Linux

London stock exchange switches to linux
The Inquirer / Ed Berridge

The software was gained by acquiring the Sri Lankan company that developed it for £18 million in September. When it is switched on it will replace the outgoing TradElect platform, which is based on Microsoft‘s .Net framework and was upgraded by Accenture only two years ago at a cost of £40 million.

35,000-Core Ubuntu Farm Renders Avatar
From the Canyon Edge / Dustin Kirkland

It was a great talk, about the type of data center needed to render special effects in today’s blockbuster movies. They have a 2 Petabyte disk array, 10gbps networking, and 35,000 cores

Life with Linux: Connecting two machines with a USB KVM switch

KVM Switch

This weekend I put together a new machine for my home office to complement the iMac on my desktop. Since I didn’t want to fill up the desk with another mouse and keyboard, I decided to get a USB KVM (Keyboard, Video, Monitor) switch that allows me to go back and forth between the two machines. In my setup, the iMac has its own built-in monitor, the new machine has its own monitor, and then they share the mouse, keyboard, and speakers. The new machine has Ubuntu 9.10 64 bit on it.

I went with the Belkin F1DG102U Flip 2-Port KVM Switch with Audio Support (USB Connection) that I found at my local Staples store. (Amazon has it for less.) I gambled on getting this: if it didn’t work I would have to end up buying the other peripherals, but if it did work, then it would be great because I would save a lot of desk real estate. It seems to work, with the following caveats.

  • You do really need to press the jacks into the outlet connectors quite strongly. The little remote switch did not work at first, but when I jammed it in there it worked fine. Second, I have a wired iMac keyboard but have a Logitech V450 Cordless Laser Mouse. Originally I had the USB wireless receiver for the mouse plugged into the keyboard, but I needed to remove that and plug it in to the KVM switch alongside the keyboard USB.
  • Bad things seem to happen if one of the machines or displays goes to sleep, especially on the Ubuntu machine. It doesn’t want to wake up and, since your display is blank, you just need to reset. This happened to me once when I was installing some operating system updates and it really wrecked things; I needed to reinstall from scratch. However, I did remember to go into Ubuntu’s power management and tell it not let the screen sleep before I did the upgrades again.

Also see: Life with Linux: The series

Press Release: “ZSL Unveils ‘PowerCube’ DaaS in the U.S., Africa and India”

I’m a little tardy in noting this, but this last week at Lotusphere, IBM partner ZSL issued the following press release, which begins:

ZSL logo
Lotusphere, Florida (PRWEB) January 19, 2010

ZSL, a leading ISV & Global Software Solutions and Services provider, today launched “PowerCube” DaaS (Desktop as a Service), an open source-based desktop collaborative solution with supporting ZSL consulting practice. Available today in the U.S., Africa, and India, “PowerCube” will help mid-market customers using proprietary platforms to migrate to the IBM Client for Smart Work on Ubuntu’s operating system.

Intended for PCs, laptops, netbooks and thin clients as an alternative to commercial desktops and platforms, the ZSL “PowerCube” solution includes packaged services for migrating to the IBM Client for Smart Work, from user segmentation, TCO analysis, BPM based role identification and SOA, to application migration, pilot and production deployment. The DaaS capabilities provide customers with the option of using virtual desktops based on VERDE from Virtual Bridges on a private cloud managed by ZSL or on customer premise.

(I added most of the links in the text.)

Open source game engines for Linux

My recent post about Linux and video games has gotten quite a few hits, so while I was on a three hour flight today I thought it would useful to later put together a list of free and open source game engines that you and others could use to build said games. Upon landing, I cleverly did a web search and found that Wikipedia has an extensive list of game engines. It could change tomorrow, so grab it quickly!

So I won’t do the list as there is no further need, but let me interpret the table headings in the Wikipedia article for you:

Primary programming language means the language in which the game engine itself is created. Unless you plan to change the engine, you don’t need proficiency in that language, though you may need to compile and link the engine for your platform. Those engines written in C may be older or optimized for speed, those in C++ somewhat newer, those in C# likely started life on Windows and would need Mono for other platforms, and those that use Python might not be the fastest in the world unless they also use components written in the other languages I just mentioned.

Bindings means the programming languages from which you can call the facilities provided by the game engines. So though Crystal Space is written in C++, it can also additionally be called from software written in Python, Perl, and Java, for example. If nothing is mentioned here, it means you would do best to just use the engine in software written in the same language as the engine. Note, though, that engines written in C can probably be called from C++ programs.

Cross platform means it works on more than one platform. It does not mean it works on all platforms. Check carefully if it works on Linux.

SDL is the Simple DirectMedia Layer which, further according to Wikipedia:

Simple DirectMedia Layer (SDL) is a cross-platform, free and open source software multimedia library written in C that presents a simple interface to various platforms’ graphics, sound, and input devices.

Some cross-platform libraries give you basic functionality but take a rather “least common denominator” approach. Look at samples of games using the libraries to ensure that all the bells and whistles you need are present and the games can look modern and professionally designed.

Finally, scripting refers to the programming languages you can use to extend the functionality of your game without changing either the gaming engine or your core code. For example, World of Warcraft uses Lua to allow players to create and build addons that provide better game maps, inventory bags, health meters, and so on. Badly constructed scripting interfaces can open up your game to security intrusions, while well designed ones can really enhance the game experience. Also see my older blog entry on embedded programming languages.

Daily Links for Thursday, January 21, 2010

Open Source

German “dump IE” warning results in huge increase in Firefox downloads

300,000 extra downloads over a few days, all with no advertising, and all thanks to the German government. I bet Mozilla are well pleased with that result. Given this IE security scare, I think it’ll be really interesting to see what effect all this has had on browser usage share for January.

Software

Amazon hikes Kindle royalties to 70%, with a catch
Ars Technica / Jacqui Cheng

Amazon dropped a bomb on the publishing world Wednesday morning by announcing a new royalty program that will allow authors to earn 70 percent royalties from each e-book sold, but with a catch or two. The move will pay participating authors more per book than they typically earn from physical book sales so long as they agree to certain conditions–conditions that make it clear that Amazon is working on keeping the Kindle attractive in light of upcoming competition. Still, authors and publishers are split on how good this deal really is.

Linux

Strings? Where We’re Going We Don’t Need Strings
Music – Gizmodo

Strings? Nope. Frets? Not really. The Misa Digital Guitar, an open source, Linux-powered MIDI controller, brings shredding to the 21st century by dumping traditional guitar strings for buttons and a futuristic touch screen.

Virtual Worlds

Los Angeles Architect Uses Second Life to Develop Multi-Million Dollar, Mixed Used Shopping Mall Project in Egypt
New World Notes

David Denton thinks the potential for architects with Second Life eclipses even well-known 3D graphics development software, like 3D Studio Max. “If you’re using it as a design tool, you’re constantly changing it,” he argues, “therefore you don’t take the time to line everything up. When you get finished with it you get a lot of overlapping lines, so you can’t take it back to AutoCAD.” With Second Life, by contrast, “The ability to be able to design things in real time was beyond anything I could dream of.”

Daily Links for Wednesday, January 20, 2010 – Linux Games Edition

Linux

More Free Games for Linux
Linux Journal / Mike Diehl

Back in 2007, I wrote an article on free games for Linux and thought it was time to write a bit more on the subject. Actually, I had a lot of fun doing the research for this article and telling my sons that I really was “working.” I don’t really play that many games, so when I do, there are a few things that I look for.

Since there are so many very good games out there, I don’t waste my time on games that run poorly, or aren’t aesthetically appealing. I also don’t have time to read reams of documentation in order to get started, though I will make an exception now and then if a game is particularly intriguing.

Free Games for Linux
Linux Journal / Mike Diehl

From 2007, but still worth reading.

When people talk about computer gaming these days, they invariably mean commercial games running on a Windows platform. Few people realize that Linux can be more than just a very good Web or file server. Even fewer people are aware of the many open-source or otherwise freely available games available for Linux.

42 of the Best Free Linux Games
LinuxLinks News

To demonstrate the level of sophistication available, we have put together a list of 42 high quality Linux games that all have the virtue of being free to play. To ensure that there is something of interest here for every type of gamer, we have covered a wide variety of computer game genres, including the ever popular First Person Shooters (FPS), Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG), as well as arcade games, board/puzzle games and more.

42 More of the Best Free Linux Games
LinuxLinks News

In response to our request for users’ thoughts on their favorite Linux games, we received, as anticipated, a flood of emails. Hundreds of games were recommended for inclusion in this compilation, with a few people eulogizing at great length why a particular title could not be omitted. To say that strong emotions were stirred by our previous ’42 of the Best Linux Games’ feature is an understatement!

After careful deliberation, we have whittled down the recommendations to a list of 42 more highly compelling Linux games, trying not to focus unduly on any one particular type of computer game genre. Hopefully, there should be something of interest here for all types of gamers! All of these games are great fun to play.

42 of the Best Linux Commercial Games
LinuxLinks News

Are there many high quality commercial games available for Linux? That’s one of the frequently asked questions we receive in our mailbox every week.

It is true to say that the number of commercial games released for Linux each year remains small compared to other platforms. Nevertheless, we faced lots of difficult choices compiling a list of 42 of the best commercial Linux games. The selection we have finally chosen covers a wide range of different game genres, so hopefully there will be something here that will interest all.

The Linux Game Tome
Bob Zimbinski

Linux games database

Also see: Open source game engines for Linux.

Will video games make desktop Linux into a killer consumer platform?

I had an interesting email exchange over the weekend with a reader of this blog who was wondering if video game producers targeted desktop Linux as platform then would this significantly increase adoption of Linux over Windows? Alternatively, those same producers could help ensure that their games worked under Windows emulators such as Wine.

For the sake of this discussion, let’s exclude running Windows under a virtual machine on Linux, or even on the Mac. After all, that’s really just running the game on Windows.

People who are serious about computer-based (vs. console-based) video games often build and upgrade their own machines, making custom choices for the case, the power supply, the motherboard, the processor, the video card(s), the memory, water cooling systems, not to mention hard drives, DVD reader/writer, Blu-ray readers, sound cards, speakers, and miscellaneous cables. These days you’re probably strongly considering an Intel i7 quad core machine and have deep and troubling thoughts over whether a one terrabyte hard disk will be enough.

You can get by with less, of course, but this if what serious computer gamers think about. Gaming pcs can run from $1500 up through $4000 or more. Again, you can get by with less, but serious motherboards, processors, and video can cost you more that $700 together, just to start.

Almost all commercial computer games run on Windows and a handful run on Macs. Almost all of the online MMORPGs like World of Warcraft run on Windows and a couple run on the Mac. There are healthy communities of people who are working on games for Linux. See, for example LinuxGames or this collection of Linux game listings.

A problem with thinking about Linux replacing Windows as the operating system for games is that many Windows gamers bemoan the fact that many if not most of the really cool new games are coming out on consoles and then only later, maybe, become available on the PC. If we take this to be the case, you have to ask not just “can Linux replace Windows for PC games?” but “can Linux replace Windows for PC games and stop the flight of games to consoles like the PS 3, Wii, and Xbox 360?”

That’s a much taller order and also forces the question “why are you chasing a market that is declining?”

Possible answers are:

  • You really think you can reverse the trend.
  • There is so much money to be made in this possibly declining market that it is still worth it.
  • You really believe this is the right thing to do.

I am by no means advocating against doing really cool games on Linux and using open source to advance the state of the art in games and all they entail, such as artificial intelligence, extendability, multiple players, and so on. Do it!

But do it because you want to, because it motivates you, and you think the people who play your games will have a great time. I doubt there is a huge fortune to be made, and that is certainly ok too, but do be realistic.

What do you think, will Linux take over the world of PC-based video games?

Also see: Open source game engines for Linux.

2010 Community Leadership Summit

Via Jono Bacon, I just learned about the 2010 Community Leadership Summit on July 18 and 19 in Portland, OR:

The event provides the first opportunity of its kind to bring together the leading minds in the field with new community builders to discuss topics such as governance, creating collaborative environments, conflict resolution, transparency, open infrastructure, social networking, commercial investment in community, engineering vs. marketing approaches to community leadership and much more.

Registration is not quite open, but stay tuned to the web page.

Daily Links for Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Open Source

Open Source House: designing eco-affordable housing together

Open Source House (OS-House) is a non-profit organization that aims to provide better, more sustainable housing in low-income countries. 8 Design principles are utilized by OS-House to guarantee standards of sustainability, and meet the challenge of flexibility, ensuring that all designs can be locally embedded. Establish your name, and contribute your ideas and designs in our first design competition starting on the 15th of January 2010. The competition results will be shared on the OS-House platform thereby marking the beginning of this ongoing project.

Hundreds flock to open source software conference
The National Business Review – New Zealand / Kelly Gregor

Hundreds of technology enthusiasts from around the world will attend a week-long open source software conference that began in Wellington today. More 700 delegates are expected to attend the Linux conference, which will discuss the future and viability of open source software and its implications for governments and businesses.

Games

Searching for gold: how to fund your indie video game
Ars Technica / Michael Thompson

It’s never easy to secure financial support for an independent game project, but it’s even harder right now. Ars takes a look at some different ways to get funding for your project.

Press Release: “IBM Client for Smart Work Available Through Business Partners in India”

Here’s a another press release from today involving IBM, Symphony, Lotus Live, Ubuntu Linux, and Virtual Bridges. We’re continuing the rollout of the partner-led IBM Client for Smart Work:

IBM Client for Smart Work CD

IBM Client for Smart Work Available Through Business Partners in India

ORLANDO, FL & BANGALORE, India – 18 Jan 2010: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced the immediate availability of IBM Client for Smart Work in India through business partners. The IBM Client for Smart Work, IBM and Canonical’s popular cloud-and Linux-based desktop package, is designed to help companies do more with less and lower desktop computing costs by up to 50 percent. CIO’s, IT directors and IT architects from all types of organizations in India, even those that typically cannot afford new PCs, can now gain immediate access to collaboration capabilities to help them work smarter, with the simple download of the IBM Client for Smart Work onto various thin clients, such as netbooks and other devices.

“Government leaders, CEOs and CIOs are seeking an open, cost effective and collaboration rich client strategy to leapfrog into the 21st century,” said Pradeep Nair, director of IBM India Software Group. “The IBM Client for Smart Work solution brings together the strengths of cloud-based collaboration, virtual desktops, netbook devices and open source, supported by a strong ecosystem of business partners, to help Indian innovators harness the next wave of growth.”

The collaboration package runs on Ubuntu Linux operating system available from Canonical and provides the option to deliver collaboration through the Web in a cloud service model. The Client comes with IBM Lotus Symphony, IBM LotusLive iNotes/Connections and IBM Lotus Notes/Domino, with the option to add IBM Lotus Connections and IBM WebSphere Portal, as well as virtual desktop capabilities using VERDE from Virtual Bridges.

With the mounting interest in this solution, IBM today also announced that Simmtronics Semiconductors will ship their new Simmbooks (netbooks) with IBM Client for Smart Work on Ubuntu already preloaded to clients in India, US, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, UK, and Vietnam.” We launched Simmbooks based on the high demand for netbook type devices for enterprises worldwide,” said Indrajit Sabharwal, managing director, Simmtronics Semiconductors. “Delivering Simmbooks with IBM Client for Smart Work on Ubuntu will help our customers lower their total cost of ownership and be on the forefront of innovation.”

Press Release: “Canonical Offers Dedicated Support Program for Lotus Symphony …”

Canonical announced the following today via a press release:

Canonical Offers Dedicated Support Program for Lotus Symphony, the Core Component of IBM Client for Smart Work on Ubuntu

Canonical today announced a dedicated support program for Lotus Symphony, the no-charge office productivity alternative which is a core component of IBM Client for Smart Work (ICSW) on Ubuntu.

(PRWEB) January 18, 2010 — Canonical today announced a dedicated support program for Lotus Symphony, the no-charge office productivity alternative which is a core component of IBM Client for Smart Work (ICSW) on Ubuntu. This support is made available to customers by Canonical through the IBM and Canonical partner network. Organisations can now switch to an alternative platform from Microsoft for their business productivity needs with full confidence that the core solution is fully supported.

The IBM Client for Smart Work, based on IBM productivity and collaboration software, helps organisations save up to 50 percent per seat on software costs versus a Microsoft-based desktop, in addition to avoiding requisite hardware upgrades. The package allows companies to use their existing PCs, lower-cost netbooks and thin clients.

See the press release for the rest of the announcement.

Lotusphere photos: Ubuntu’s Peter Woodward and Tux

Here’s the next round of photos from Lotusphere 2010.

Pete Woodward of Canonical/Ubuntu

Here’s Peter Woodward of Canonical/Ubuntu and me. Light could have been better, but you take what you can get in a meeting room.

Tux

Next is our friendly penguin friend sporting an “IBM Client for Smart Work” label. Get yours starting tomorrow at the Lotus Knows challenge immediately upon entering the exhibit hall at the bottom of the escalator.

Two very early Lotusphere 2010 photos

Here are a couple of photographs taken very early at Lotusphere 2010 at Disney World in Florida this week and they are, perhaps, a bit different.

Hammock by the beach at Disney World

This was a lonely hammock by the beach looking toward the Grand Floridian Resort. The weather was very overcast and it threatened to rain for seeral hours before it finally did around 9 PM. There were some people walking around because, well, it is Florida, though not too many were swimming in the pool.

Corn pen

This pen, a give-away in the exhibit area for the IBM Client for Smart Work on Linux, is made from corn starch and is biodegradable. Get yours before they go in the compost pile.

Daily Links for Friday, January 15, 2010

Virtual Worlds

Power users holding back Second Life?
Hypergrid Business / Maria Korolov

Second Life is being held back by an “elite group” of users, according to Forrester Research, Inc. analyst Tom Grant. There is an “Iron Law of Oligarchy,” Grant wrote this week. “Over time, a subset of customers emerge who participate regularly in user group meetings, discussion forums, the comments sections of blogs, groups in social media channels, and other channels of face-to-face and electronic communication.”

Music

Nils Lofgren Online Guitar School

Questions to ask about open source projects

So you’ve heard about this great piece of open source software and you are considering either contributing to it or using it a very serious way, maybe even a business critical way. What are some of the questions you should be asking about the project?

  • Is it good code and is it well architected?
  • Who are the founders, contributors, and users?
  • What are the motivations and behavior of each?
  • What is the form and governance of the community?
  • Is there a single dominant player that is controlling the direction or is it a more democratic community?
  • Are there intellectual property issues involving copyrights or code provenance?
  • What about that license?

You need the confidence that the code and the community that supports it is fit for your purpose, are sufficiently stable, and have no “gotchas.” That is, there should be no surprises around the intellectual property involved and no unexpected strangeness around the community and its leadership.

What other things do you look for and what other advice you would give along these lines?

Daily Links for Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Linux

Another day, another SUSE/Moblin Linux netbook
ComputerWorld / Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

In all the hurly-burly of CES, a second SUSE/Moblin Linux netbook was quietly released. This one comes from Samsung.

Red Hat repurchases $33.4M of shares
Triangle Business Journal

Red Hat repurchased more than 1 million shares of company stock for $33.4 million from Dec. 1 through Jan. 8, the company revealed in filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Entertainment

Now, Electronics That Obey Hand Gestures
The New York Times / Ashlee Vance

In the coming months, the likes of Microsoft, Hitachi and major PC makers will begin selling devices that will allow people to flip channels on the TV or move documents on a computer monitor with simple hand gestures. The technology, one of the most significant changes to human-device interfaces since the mouse appeared next to computers in the early 1980s, was being shown in private sessions during the immense Consumer Electronics Show here last week. Past attempts at similar technology have proved clunky and disappointing. In contrast, the latest crop of gesture-powered devices arrives with a refreshing surprise: they actually work.

Daily Links for Monday, January 11, 2010

Open Source

Novell lose[s] Open Source CTSO as Nat Friedman leaves
The H Open Source: News and Features

Nat Friedman, co-founder of Ximian and Chief Technology and Strategy Officer for Open Source at Novell has announced in a blog posting that he has quit. Friedman, who co-founded Ximinan with Miguel de Icaza in 1999, joined Novell in 2003 when the company acquired Ximian. Since then he has headed up Novell’s open source strategy

A Few Resources for Women in Open Source
ITworld / Esther Schindler

When I first started programming in high school at age 15 (on a mainframe), I was one of only two or three girls in the class of perhaps 20 students. At the time, I thought that was a pretty good ratio. God knows that I never lacked for a date. Ever since then, however, I’ve been doing my best to encourage more women to get into the field. Not because I believe that the computer industry arbitrarily needs to have a one-to-one ratio, but because I love computing so very much and I want to share that excitement. My enthusiasm extends to the open source community as well.

Games

LEGO Universe – colorful plastic’s answer to World of Warcraft – is the brainchild of Colorado-based NetDevil
Denver News

In this sprawling realm of bricks and minifigs, hundreds of thousands of players will get to explore moon bases and castles and many other subjects covered by LEGO toys over the years, taking on massing forces of chaos and destruction

Almost Spring, in my dreams

Late yesterday afternoon I trudged from the car through the snow to a Home Depot to pick up a few things for a home project. After getting inside and shaking off the snow, I was met with a wonderful display of seeds for the garden.

Display of seeds

Around here, we can’t plant anything outside until May, and it’s usually late May at that. However, after the problems last year with the tomato blight, I decided to start my own seeds for some vegetables for this year’s garden. Therefore at some point I was planning on getting those seeds.

It’s certainly economical to do so: a pack of tomato seeds yielding one to two dozen plants is less than $2. To jump to the punchline, I did buy some seeds. I got 2 varieties of hot peppers, two of sweet peppers, two of basil, and four of tomatoes.

I’m not going to put plants from all the seeds into the garden, but since I’m not planting corn this year (the raccoons got all of it), I have a lot of extra room. So I might do half a dozen of each of the tomato and pepper varieties and then a lot of basil, most of it to be used for pesto. I’ll also plant other vegetables like lettuce, peas, and beans, but I’ll run through there when I publish the post mortem on last year’s garden.

Note that while I bought these seeds on impulse, my final selection of plants to start will be developed over the next couple of months. In particular, I’ll be looking at some organic seed providers such as High Mowing Seeds, based in Hardwick, VT. This company was featured in a one hour Emeril Green special in early January, 2010.

I’ll need to start the seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before they must go outside, so that puts the date around April 1. I have some work to do before then on this project, primarily figuring out where I’ll put the seeds and how to set up a grow light. It’s all fun, and all helps the winter go by faster.

Also see: “Getting ready for Spring gardening in upstate NY” for suppliers of gardening supplies, plants, and seeds.

Daily Links for Friday, January 8, 2010

Linux

Red Hat CEO On Recession, Virtualization, Ballmer
InformationWeek / Charles Babcock

Whitehurst said many Linux conversions have been from Unix in the past, but during the recession, “more and more conversions [come] from Windows users.” Red Hat Enterprise Linux now runs on 15% of the servers in the data center, he said. (Microsoft sees Windows Server on 70% of new servers in the data center.) Customers are coming to Linux “we say because of its high value. But it is open source and lower cost,” which has a distinct appeal in hard times, he noted.

Life with Linux: Another week of work

I use my Lenovo T400 Thinkpad as a work laptop but also as an experimental machine on which I put and delete various Linux distributions and software. At various times I’ve had Ubuntu, Fedora, and openSUSE on the computer, though most often Ubuntu, and that’s what is there now.

Because I always seem to be in the state of configuring and testing the machine, I don’t usually take it on the road with me, because I don’t think of it as stable. Not that there is anything wrong with it, but I haven’t always thoroughly made sure I put everything on it that I might need and then test it.

So after about a dozen of these cycles of install, configure, install something else, reconfigure, I’ve decided that I’m going to keep just one distro on it and live with it for a few months, both in my home office and on the road. The distro I’m using now is Ubuntu 9.10 and I’ll keep it for a while.

I’ve used the machine set up this way on and off since October, but since the beginning of the week it has been configured for work. Here are a few observations, especially with respect to my various work on the desktop in earlier installments.

  • I don’t really need an automatic wallpaper changer since I rarely see the screen background on the laptop.
  • For some reason I can’t get Ubuntu to connect to my Snow Leopard iMac printer, though at various times in the past it has worked. There should be a button that says “connect to you Mac printer” – it is still too hard.
  • I’m still getting the hang of using multiple workspaces under Gnome, and I think the Mac probably handles the notion more smoothly. I should use Ctrl-Alt-Tab or something to find my apps more quickly. Wish I could get all open apps to appear on all workpace lower panels. (A setting somewhere?)
    Update and solution from Brian Warner: Right click on the double dotted line handle to the left of the minimized windows in the bottom panel and choose Preferences. Then select “Show windows for all workspaces”.
  • Generally, I’m feeling that there is more clutter than I would like when I have all my apps and a dozen Firefox tabs open. Time for a rethink. Is this just in contrast to the Mac or am I not working optimally on the given desktop?
    Update: The Tree Style Tab Firefox addon provides nice functionality to put the tabs on the sides and automatically shrink the tab bar.

Also see: Life with Linux: The series

Daily Links for Thursday, January 7, 2010 – Afternoon Edition

Linux

MSI Ships First Netbook Powered By SUSE Moblin From Novell
Novell, Inc.

Addressing the growing demand for lightweight, mobile netbook devices, MSI and Novell today announced the upcoming availability of SUSE® Moblin preloaded on the MSI U135 netbook. Following the recent release of Moblin(TM) version 2.1, this marks the first original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to sell a fully-supported Intel® Atom processor-based netbook running Moblin-based technology to consumers.

The next generation of Linux notebooks arrives at CES
ComputerWorld / Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

The major computer vendors are once more embracing Linux as HP and Lenovo both announce models with desktop Linux pre-installed and rumor is there’s more to come.

How (and Why) to Partition Your Hard Drive – washingtonpost.com
The Washington Post / Patrick Miller, PC World

Finally, partitioning lets you try out other operating systems–like Linux, for example. Generally, two operating systems can’t coexist on the same volume without stepping on one another’s toes, so you won’t be able to dual-boot Linux or ease into Windows 7 if you’re on a single-volume system.

Daily Links for Thursday, January 7, 2010 – Morning Edition

Open Source

Munich administration switches to OpenDocument Format
The H Open Source: News and Features

Also see my blog entry “Update on sharing documents”.

According to a 2009 development review that the deputy project leader Florian Schießl has posted on his blog, open source OpenDocument Format (ODF) is now the main document exchange standard, with PDF being used for non-editable files.

Games

Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python
Al Sweigart

“Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python” is a free e-Book that teaches you how to program in the Python programming language. Each chapter gives you the complete source code for a new game, and then teaches the programming concepts from the example.

“Invent with Python” was written to be understandable by kids as young as 10 to 12 years old, although it is great for anyone of any age who has never programmed before.

Checking broken links in WordPress blogs

I just installed the Broken Link Checker plugin. It scans your blog entries and pages and gives you an nice report and way to fix any links that end up in the great web void rather than honest web pages.

Though I installed it for this, my current blog, I was mostly curious what it would say for my archived blog, which has over 3000 entries created over 5 1/2 years. I was nervous, in fact, because I was afraid that I would have to spend a lot of time tracking down and fixing links that were no longer valid.

The good news is that there are only 16 broken links. The bad news is that of the few I quickly checked, I can’t find web addresses that are valid and current. That is, the old content is either gone or is now so well hidden that I can’t locate it. This happens, of course, but is rather sad somehow. Some of the online articles were no longer there because they were from now defunct newspapers. A couple of MIA links were from major IT trades and, if I remember correctly, vanished after some company mergers.

Should you be thinking of moving your content, learn about “redirection,” the way to tell your site where to go when it gets a request for a page that has been moved. This can be done at several levels, from the Apache .htaccess file, to some HTML, PHP, or even via a WordPress plugin. There are other ways to do it as well, depending on how your site is built.

Think twice before casting your content, and your links, into the web void.

Daily Links for Tuesday, January 5, 2010

News

Research Firm Gartner Acquires Burton Group For $56M
The Wall Street Journal Online

Gartner made the purchase, expected to expand its product and service offerings and increase IT research-market opportunities, Dec. 30. Burton, an IT research and advisory firm that has 41 research analysts and 40 sales and client-service employees, comes with projected 2009 revenue of $30 million.

10 IT Companies to Watch in 2010 | The Virtual Circle
The Virtual Circle / Robin Bloor

Note inclusion of IBM Client for Smart Work partner VirtualBridges.

As has become my annual habit, I’m providing a list of 10 companies, most of them relatively small, that I think will be worth watching this year.

Open Source

Exclusive: VMware Likely to Buy Zimbra From Yahoo
BoomTown/All Things Digital / Kara Swisher

Yahoo is close to selling its Zimbra unit to VMware, according to several sources close to the situation. Sources said the deal could be announced soon, but the price for the open-source email unit was still unclear. One source noted that the reason that VMware was interested in nabbing Zimbra was that its execs want to expand “up the stack” from the software company’s position in virtualization. And Yahoo’s reasoning? The Internet giant has been targeting assets for “de-acquisition” that are not central to the strategies of its new management.

Reminder: new blog and feed locations

Effective January 1, 2010, my blog is split into current and archived versions.

Current blog

Please update your bookmarks and feed subscriptions as follows:

The address of the current blog is http://www.sutor.com/c/.

The link to the blog feed is http://feeds.feedburner.com/BobSutor.

The blog comments feed is http://feeds.feedburner.com/CommentsForBobSutor.

Archived blog

The address of the archived blog is http://www.sutor.com/newsite/blog-open/.

Daily Links for Monday, January 2, 2010

Open Source

Google Chrome passes Safari, releases ‘Similar Pages’ extension – Computerworld Blogs
ComputerWorld / Seth H. Weintraub

Well, we didn’t have to wait long into 2010 to find that Google’s Chrome Browser would surpass Apple‘s Safari. Today, NetApplications released the news that Chrome gained .7 of a percentage point to get to 4.63% of the browser market. The largest month over month gain in Chrome’s history was attributed to the release of beta versions for both Mac and Linux (which isn’t supported by Safari) in December.

Entertainment

Inventing the plants of ‘Avatar’
Los Angeles Times / Lori Kozlowski

James Cameron’s science-fiction blockbuster “Avatar” takes place in 2154 on the lush moon Pandora. To help make the set believable, Jodie Holt, chairwoman of the department of botany and plant sciences at UC Riverside, was approached to consult on the film’s plant life, as well as how a botanist would study such flora.

‘Avatar’ worldwide total hits $1 billion as foreign grosses explode
Los Angeles Times

“Avatar” this weekend became the fifth movie in history to bring in more than $1 billion in worldwide ticket sales and the fastest by far to do so, breaking the nine-figure barrier less than three weeks after it debuted.

Site statistics through December 31, 2009

Here are the rolling three month sutor.com site stats from Google Analytics, plus 12 month previous stats. Percentages are calculated with respect to total numbers of hits. Statistics are computed from the first to the last days of the months listed. The up and down arrows compare the latest month listed with the percentages 12 months earlier, not the previous month.

Net Analysis:

Winners: Apple, Linux, Macintosh, Firefox, Chrome
Losers: Microsoft, Internet Explorer, Windows, Opera

December, 2008 October, 2009 November, 2009 December, 2009
Browser
Firefox 47.24% 56.45% 57.25% ↑ 55.85%
Internet Explorer 36.31% 21.91% 22.89% ↓ 23.35%
Safari 7.72% 7.86% 7.78% ↑ 7.99%
Chrome 3.31% 6.87% 6.85% ↑ 7.74%
Mozilla 1.20% 2.33% 1.49% ↑ 2.69%
Opera 3.31% 3.74% 2.84% ↓ 1.28%
Operating System
Windows 74.57% 61.83% 61.82% ↓ 64.68%
Linux 10.81% 21.17% 21.95% ↑ 17.59%
Macintosh 13.83% 16.14% 15.44% ↑ 16.74%
iPhone 0.25% 0.48% 0.34% ↑ 0.51%
Android 0.01% 0.04% 0.07% ↑ 0.11%
Browser / OS
Firefox / Windows 31.26% 30.76% 30.83% ↑ 33.98%
Internet Explorer / Windows 36.31% 21.88% 22.89% ↓ 23.34%
Firefox / Linux 9.25% 17.03% 18.19% ↑ 13.00%
Firefox / Macintosh 6.51% 8.60% 8.18% ↑ 8.83%
Safari / Macintosh 6.88% 7.02% 6.92% ↑ 7.02%
Chrome / Windows 3.31% 5.64% 5.61% ↑ 5.55%
Mozilla / Linux 0.95% 2.18% 1.35% ↑ 2.49%
Chrome / Linux 0.00% 1.07% 1.07% ↑ 1.62%
Opera / Windows 2.57% 2.93% 1.85% ↓ 0.97%
Chrome / Macintosh 0.00% 0.15% 0.16% ↑ 0.57%
Opera / Linux 0.51% 0.56% 0.92% ↓ 0.22%
Safari / iPhone 0.24% 0.39% 0.24% ↑0.35%

Getting ready for Spring gardening in upstate NY

Ok, it’s after New Year’s so I can officially start thinking about gardening again in about three months. I live in the northwest corner of New York State in the USA, so that very much affects what plants I can and can’t use. I’m in gardening zone 5B, which means that the lowest temperatures we can usually expect during winter are from -15 F to -10 F, or -26.1 C to -23.4 C.

Here are some gardening resources that I’ll be looking at in planning what I’ll be planting this year:

  • High Mowing Organic Seeds is an independently-owned, farm-based seed company dedicated to supporting sustainable agriculture and providing farmers and gardeners with the highest quality certified organic seed.” High Mowing is based in Hardwick, VT, and was featured in a one hour Emeril Green special.
  • logoBurpee’s Seeds: More seeds than you can imagine, but may not be local to your area. Where I live, these are often available at a great discount toward the end of winter at Wegmans supermarkets.
  • White Flower Farms: Great selection of plants, especially perennials and bulbs. I’ve bought their naturalizing collection of narcissus several times through the years.
  • logoPark Seed Co.: Another company with a huge selection of both seeds and seed starting apparatus. Same caveat as above about seeds perhaps not being local to your area.
  • Musser Forests: Great source of seedling and transplants for trees and shrubs. Located in Pennsylvania. I’m thinking of using them to start a small stand of future Christmas trees for our family.
  • Garden’s Alive!: As they say, “Environmentally Responsible Gardening Products that Work”. Good for supplies for organic gardening.
  • logoMiller Nurseries: A big selection of fruit trees, as well as raspberries and asparagus plants.

If you have favorite sources of plants and gardening supplies, please append a comment with the details.

The great website reorganization of 2010

WordPress logo

Well, I did it. Over the end of December, 2009, holiday break I took about 15 hours to do what I considered a much needed website reorganization.

Here are the highlights:

  • Modified my WordPress theme to have printing CSS support and a two column full page PHP template.
  • Split the website into two WordPress installations, one for the older, archived blog material and one for the current blog.
  • Moved all pages that were in Drupal into the new WordPress installation and set up .htaccess redirects for all the old Drupal pages. While Drupal is still present, all access attempts to pages should go to the new WordPress pages. In a few months I’ll delete the Drupal installation as I have no further plans for it.
  • Started moving auxiliary files like images and Mint into more standardized locations higher up in the site hierarchy. The rest of the work on this is lower priority and will be done as time permits over the next few months.
  • Started cleaning up the archived blog and adding some links to the current blog. The widgets used in the new and archived blog are similar, but the latter is simpler and encourages people to go to the new blog. I’ve greatly extended the time that entries in the archived blog are cached.

    Aside: I find it really annoying to find errors in old blog entries. I wish someone had mentioned them if they had seen them.

I’ve talked elsewhere about some of my frustrations with using both WordPress and Drupal on this site. It was a worthy experiment to learn both technologies but, in the end, I was able to make WordPress do everything I wanted, with a few caveats (see below).

Why did I do this? I found …

  • … it untenable to have two content management systems with two similar but different themes. Now I can use WordPress and the same theme for both installations, any employ WordPress plugins. I may use different plugins, but at least they have the same technology base.
  • … that I was spending more time fiddling with my CMSs (content management systems) and not enough time creating new content, blog or otherwise.
  • … the size of the older WordPress installation (over 3000 entries and 3000) comments was making it excruciatingly slow to work with, even with caching.

What else does WordPress need to be useful for page-based content management?

  • Built-in support for wide pages for non-blog content in themes.
  • Built-in CSS support for printing (and eventually mobile styles) in themes.
  • Page hierarchy navigation at least as good as but preferably much better than what Drupal has.
  • Anything else that I’ve complained about before. (grin)

Finally some words of advice to the Drupal community: You really need to provide exemplary import of WordPress blogs if you want to move more people to your platform, no matter how many others are adopting it (e.g., the White House). You shouldn’t say it’s non-core, you shouldn’t say “somebody in the community will do it if they want to,” you need to make it easy, complete, and elegant. I know there are some import modules out there, but unless you can handle things like intra-blog links, automatic category and tag taxonomy creation, and generated redirects from the WordPress structure to the new Drupal structure, you won’t get people to move sizable blogs over.

That said, if I were starting from scratch I would certainly consider using Drupal, but WordPress is not only an excellent blogging platform, it is becoming a very capable CMS. It works for me.

Daily Links for Friday, January 1, 2010

Open Source

Seeking Profit in Open-Source Search Software
The New York Times / Ashlee Vance

In the case of Lucid, the company hopes to profit from an open-source software package called Lucene.

When paired with some other software (another open-source package called Solr), Lucene turns into the basis of a pretty powerful and fast corporate search system — the kind of thing companies use to trawl through and organize their internal data.

Microsoft looks to fight OpenOffice
seattlepi.com / Nick Eaton

We know Microsoft is worried about Google Docs and is fighting against its expansion. Google Docs threatens one of Microsoft’s biggest cash cows– Office — and is, unlike Office, free for consumers.

Linux

2009’s Five Most Popular & Important Linux Stories
ComputerWorld / Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Before jumping into this, let me say that’s what popular isn’t the same thing as what’s important. So, I’m giving you a twofer list. The first is the most popular of my stories, and then there are the stories, which I think are the most important for Linux’s future.

Entertainment

image for bookmark

Avatar
Chicago Sun Times / Roger Ebert

Watching “Avatar,” I felt sort of the same as when I saw “Star Wars” in 1977. That was another movie I walked into with uncertain expectations. James Cameron’s film has been the subject of relentlessly dubious advance buzz, just as his “Titanic” was. Once again, he has silenced the doubters by simply delivering an extraordinary film. There is still at least one man in Hollywood who knows how to spend $250 million, or was it $300 million, wisely.