July 2007 Archives

An Inconvenient Truth


Had the pleasure of viewing the Al Gore documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth" and after having spent the 1.5hrs of my time... I have no regrets. Although I happen to earn a living in an industry that has struggled to advance the technology of renewable energy/fuels, I am not conflicted. The film is a stark reminder of the impact humans are having on the environment. I do not remember hearing much about this work. Perhaps this is due to the region which I live.

Some have mocked Gore and his role in the tobacco industry and his inability to win a rigged election (lost home state of Tennessee). Nonetheless, the research he has collected is quite compelling and very reasonable. I had no idea that this campaign has consumed much of his life. If you have not viewed this project, I encourage you to do so. Especially, if you are a member of the scientific or technical community. There is much work to do.

Benevolent Dictators in FOSS

This entry was inspired by my buddy Michael Kimsal, actually I had been thinking a bit about how personalities inspire or retard the advancement of various open source projects. For instance, reiserfs was my first experience with journalized filesystems, in fact it has always been my filesystem of choice. It plays well with NFS and it has always been reliable. Nonetheless, the future of reiserfs is in jeapardy due to the ongoing legal problems of its lead developer. It also seems that the lead developer ruffled the feathers of many of the kernel developers, who would be principally responsible for merging the reiserfs code into the Linux kernel. I do hope the community and Namesys (commercial entity sponsoring reiserfs project) can come to a very agreeable compromise. Similarly, I have witnessed Jörg Schilling and Nemosoft, both of these developers produced work which allowed me to be productive. Cdrecord and the pwc driver (Philips ToUcam) respectively were stables for my Linux desktop. Unfortunately, both left the community under dubious circumstances. For whatever reason, these guys had a tough time dealing with Linux kernel developers. Luckily their code still remains. Hence the goodness of FOSS ;)

I would have to agree, personalities of lead developers typically can make or break a project. If the person is amicable, or at least accessible it really goes a long way for adoption by end-users and also developers close to the kernel. Personally, I have used Slackware for number of years because I was able to make a connection with the community and a few of lead developers. The experience has been immensely gratifying. No, I've never sat down and had dinner with Pat V, but he is accessible and even responds to email.

When I was first introduced to Debian in 2000, I was fairly new to that community and quickly learned that you really must RTFM:) Once I began to ask better questions, I realized the mailing lists weren't that bad after all. Some years later, I discovered that some of the Debian developers maintained blogs and hung out on IRC. So I began to leverage that communication channel.

In a nutshell, placing the face with the package or the distribution will help engage people to the project. If the benevolent dictator has any charisma or at least is accessible, it then becomes easier to form a virtual bond or network with that individual. This theme has been pervasive inside the FOSS community. The advent of social media has made this even more possible than during the very early years of simple pseudo public mailing lists.

I understand that some Redmond developers are now blogging too. Somehow, I don't believe that average Windows user is very interested in having direct communication with the M$ developers. Methinks this is because *their* community was not built upon sharing and transparency. FWIW, this probably applies to Apple too. Those communities are largely left to fend for themselves. What usually happens is that an ecosystem of third-party developers is created because of the closed nature of Redmond and Cuppertino. Buggy software or an unscratched *itch* is solved via shareware. If the end-users of those communities are unwilling to pay they simply suffer. That is the law of the land, or least that is how I see it :)

links for 2007-07-28

Swagger of a champion

After watching segments from the ESPN baseball drama, "The Bronx is Burning", which is a collection of various NYC happenings in 1977. All of which I can say, much like KRS1, "I was there." Yes, I do remember all of the events described in the show. Son of Sam, the huge blackout, and the Bronx Zoo. No not the actual caged animals, but the weird story that was the 77' NY Yankees. However, as some have noted, the Son of Sam murders took place in Queens not the Bronx. How do those murders add anything to a sports drama? I suppose it makes for good TV, and ESPN is struggling for that right now. Anyway I digress.

The interesting backdrop of this story is the treatment of Reggie Jackson. Whether you liked him or not, he certainly was a charismatic figure. Oddly, it seems that he was not consulted prior to the release of the series. He had no qualms in telling people that he was good and then he went out and showed everyone what "good" really meant. People seem to dislike a gregarious champion. Since when have champions been meek or soft? I do not believe that there are many champions that do not have a bit of swagger. Hell even Nadia Comaneci would probably rip your head off while in the heat of battle.

Some of the conversation that Reggie had with members of the press would probably be suitable for Alex Rodriguez. I wonder if those two did much talking at all. It seems that Reggie would do well by coaching Alex. Rodriguez and Jackson were both highly paid athletes playing under the microscope of NY press and fervent fans.
Unfortunately, nothing short of championship will vindicate Alex, such is life in Gotham.

Future Media

A very interesting view of the present and future trends in media. It would be nice to be able to take stock of the predictions as the years come to past.

links for 2007-07-22

AG Speaks Episode 11

Finally got another show out the door (sans guests). I know that it has been awhile.
Feel free to send me an Odeo greeting, as I would like to know your thoughts on the
show or anything else that comes to mind. In the upcoming weeks, my intent is to secure new guest for upcoming shows.


Send me an Odeo Message.

Download mp3 (34.52min || 8MB)
Download Ogg (34.52min || 16MB)

links for 2007-07-16

links for 2007-07-14

What follows is an open letter to Brooklyn Technical HS principal. As many of you know, I have always been a huge supporter of my alma mater. I learned many good lessons and met phenomenal people at BTHS. However, I see changes that are almost never good for under represented people in the sciences and technology.

I can appreciate that Mr. Asher is quite busy, but I would hope that he would eventually respond to my scribe.

MT 4.0 beta review


Below is a review I shared with the MT developers, as part of the MT4.0 demo.
If you're a MT geek, now is your opportunity to push for a few features.
According to Anil, they are really listening this time. Maybe I can convince my "geek" bloggers to come back to the MT platform. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the source code is open now.
I don't believe it is GPL'd tho.

Thus far, MT 4.0 really looks impressive. I have only played with the demo version and it really looks great. The admin styles sheets and added collaboration functionality seems to be much improved.

I'm still looking for a simple way to add 3-column styles sheet. The demo did no
t seem to include that particular format. Additionally, I would love to see MT4.
0 add semantic web support.
That is, FOAF and incorporation of del.icio.us, technorati, and MT built in tags
. To date, all of the tagging services are separate entities, so you typically end up having to write and manage this attribute in three different places. Certainly, not ideal.
I would like to be able to add tags to my entry and then generate a tag-cloud that would be inclusive of _all_ of my semantic attributes. The APIs for del.icio.us and technorati are all wide-open, so this should be possible.

In MT3.3x there seems to be a distinction between keywords and tags. I hope this
line is blurred in MT4.x. IMHO, this should be transparent to the user. I don't believe del.icio.us or technorati understand the difference. Why should I ?

I would imagine that I have regurgitated much of what others have *requested* regarding semantic tools. Anyway, I _know_ you guys are on the right track, this release is mad tight. I'll continue playing with the demo. Thx for slinging a great product, the effort is much appreciated.

Foray into Backports

I was introduced to the Debian backports some months ago, but did not have time to discuss my experience. Essentially backports provide the ability to use features and software drivers on releases which typically do not support exotic hardware.
Why is this important? Well, if you are running a production environment, it is unlikely that you would risk running software from the unstable branch of a distribution. So, developers provide a means to port some of the goodness of these later releases back to some of the stable distributions.

In my case, I was doing a bare metal install of Debian Sarge, but I had a need for SATA support and a few other specialties (Dell PowerEdge 830). So I stumbled upon this backport. It was truly helpful. The onboard NIC and the SATA drives were detected with no problems at all.

I am clear that Debian is not the only distribution which backports are available. I have heard that xBSD has practiced this philosophy for quite awhile.

Gnucash 2.1.3 - Slackware


Recently finished installing Gnucash on my aging workstation. It does seem that I'll need to update the motherboard and processor in my box. I'm running a very old Asus A7M266-D board with a modded Athlon MP. I long for a dual-core 64bit workstation. My shiny new Acer Aspire 5100 is not dual-core, though it is 64bit.

Well, for those of you who are not familiar GnuCash is probably one of the older, totally free (as in free speech) personal and business finance software packages. It now has been ported over to the win32 platform. It is fully compatible with OFX and HBCI formats. It will also read Quicken (.qif) and M$ Money extensions.

Traditionally, installing GnuCash (and most Gnome pkgs) had been the huge number of dependencies. In the past, I avoided the problems by using FreeRock Gnome, Dropline Gnome and even Gware. All of the aforementioned packages provide a fairly standard means of installing Gnome packages on a Slackware machine.

This time I used Dropline Gnome 2.18.1 beta, so that I could get all of the required Gnome libs. This wiki was helpful. I grabbed Gnucash 2.1.3 tarball, unpacked and installed the pkg.
Please be advised that the odd series is considered unstable (ie 2.1.x) branch.

Below is a summary of the new features as listed from GnuCash project page.

GnuCash 2.1.3 released

The GnuCash development team proudly announces GnuCash 2.1.3 aka "at last!", the fourth of several unstable 2.1.x releases of the GnuCash Open Source Accounting Software which will eventually lead to the stable version 2.2.0. With this new release series, GnuCash is available on Microsoft Windows for the first time, and it also runs on GNU/Linux, *BSD, Solaris and Mac OSX. This release is intended for developers and testers who want to help tracking down all those bugs that are still in there.

DATA FILE NOTICE If you are using Scheduled Transactions, the data file saved by GnuCash 2.1.2 and higher is NOT backward-compatible with GnuCash 2.0 anymore. Please make a safe backup of your 2.0 data before upgrading to 2.1.2.

I have used GnuCash for about four years. The package has vastly improved. They have been using Gnome 2.x libs since GnuCash 1.8.x. Perhaps the only feature that I wish could be added is sync with PDA (ie Palm OS), hence, I could easily transfer the data from my Palm based P-Cash to my desktop (street spending adds up).

It appears that this feature has been on the project roadmap for awhile. Maybe I need to write one? Try it out, it's a good software package.

links for 2007-07-05

Outstanding questions for James McGovern

I am totally immersed in a very thought provoking text, entitled the "The World is Flat", written by Thomas L. Friedman. Why have I been captivated with the burgeoning global economy and the perceived aftermath? I suppose that as a technical person, who has a background in classical engineering, I take great interest in matters which directly involve the technical community. In particular, if Friedman's claims are accurate, these global changes or 'levelers' will have a great affect on the middle class. Yes, I consider myself part of the new middle.

Regarding Mr. McGovern, he had recently presented me with a round of questioning, I thought it only appropriate that I continue the dialogue with a question of my own.
How are you preparing yourself for the "new middle" ? In fact, it does seem that McGovern is uniquely qualified to address such a question, considering that his industry is especially challenged with the flattening as described by Friedman. This site Backsourcing and these: article I and article II were excellent sources.

Fight Night

As I prepare for an opportunity to test for my 3rd Dan in October. I have once again decided to increase the intensity and frequency of my workouts. I recently visited Tamashi Dojo, a school which I had once trained prior to my 1st Dan examination. It was interesting that some of the students actually remembered me, as I had not trained with them since 2004. Actually, it was refreshing to see the growth in some of their students.

In truth, though I am fairly comfortable with visiting different schools, I always get a bit nervous. The obvious concern is that I want to represent Tang Soo Do appropriately. It seems that other systems are unfamiliar with the midnight blue representation of Dan member. In fact, one particular student wondered aloud. "Is that a black belt?" I chuckle and teach ;)

Tamashi holds their sparring and conditioning drills on Friday evening. The evening training has been dubbed "Fight Night".. I suppose it provides the added allure for the younger students. Actually, I believe it helps raise the intensity level every so slightly. Though, I do enjoy sparring and such, I would always welcome the opportunity to learn more about a different system. Particularly one that is *not* Korean. I believe Tamashi is Okinawan, or traditional Japanese.
I am very grateful and honored that I am still a welcomed visitor. I had a much needed vigorous workout.

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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