This has been a very difficult week to concentrate on anything. In the United States we had a holiday, Memorial Day, honoring fallen soldiers. That shaved a day off of the week. Then my nephew is graduating from High School this weekend and we need to travel for that, shaving off another day. Finally, there are all kinds of little end of the school year things going on, which make for constant interrupts. Yet, things get done.
One of the things that we did was to go to my daughter's classroom where she showed us things she had done during the year. Several of the projects were done on a computer and I brought a little flash drive to save them. It made me realize that I need to be a little more proactive on getting my daughter (9 years) building her computer skills. So, I'm thinking of ways to keep her going on all of that. Here are some things that I plan to offer her (all on Linux, of course):
- Typing - learning to type will make a huge difference to her. No reason to wait. Plenty of typing games and things like that that are browser-based.
- Office Suite - At school they used Microsoft Office on a Mac. I'll probably get her going with LibreOffice and show her how she can not only do slide shows but also create documents and drawings. I might show her the spreadsheet too, but I don't imagine she'll have much to do with that yet. She seemed to like creating slide shows. Maybe I can get her to take some of her summer reading and turn it into slide shows.
- Graphics and photos - she has a cheap little digital camera. I should make sure she knows how to bring in her own pictures and show her how she can edit with GIMP. I may try to get her to try making her own stop motion video with her still camera. She might enjoy that. Plenty of options to take a series of stills and turn them into a video.
- Scratch Programming Language - When I was younger, turtle graphics was the popular way to introduce people to programming. Yesterday I found Scratch, "a programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art -- and share your creations on the web." Wow! This is some interesting stuff. Rather than writing code, developers stack functions like blocks to do a variety of things. It's easily designed to create interactive stories. It looks to have the functions necessary to do more complicated things as well. There's a public gallery of projects to examine.
That ought to keep her busy... and give her some cool things to show off when she gets back to school. Of course, I'll be checking some of this stuff out for me too.
I just got off the video feed talking to Scott Lanningham for his video podcast. Scott does this "rich media" full time and he's really good at it. Lately Scott has been traveling to some of the IBM functions to shoot footage with a number of notables in technology. It will be a little bit before my conversation airs, but you can see what Scott has been doing by checking out developerWorks new media. There's lots of good stuff there.
Secure your LInux like the Russians
OK, I know that that SELinux (Security Enhanced Linux) was originally created by the NSA (National Security Agency, or originally "No Such Agency") in the United States, but this week we have another one of the global offerings from Russia. This is the first of a series and I'm working on getting the rest of them.
SELinux started as a full-blown distribution but then became a set of components that could be added into existing Linux distributions-- a smart approach. I just looked it up and the minimal versions are available as part of the regular Ubuntu repository. Not everyone needs to run Linux this securely. I certainly won't do this on my laptop. However, the universe with the Internet and Cloud Computing in it creates much stranger situations that we've ever had before and you may need more enhanced security even if you aren't trying to protect national secrets.
Read "Secure Linux: Part 1. SELinux – history of its development, architecture and operating principles" on developerWorks. You might also like to review the article recently updated by M. Tim Jones called "Anatomy of Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux)". That should get you ready for when the rest of the series becomes available in Linux.
Shoot some Hadoop!
Speaking of M. Tim Jones, we just published something by him which will be interesting to those of you trying to fathom Hadoop: Practice exercises. Remember when you tried to learn things as kid. You'd be given the problem and then exercizes to help you cement your knowledge of the concepts. That's when you'd have the problems like "A train is southbound going 90 miles per hour while a Kangaroo is hopping toward the tracks at 15 miles per hour..."
We sure don't get that in the real world. All you get is a problem hurled at you with an urgent demand to find the solution. Sometimes I wouldn't mind a few simple exercizes to get me going. Tim agrees and he put together these to help you get your concepts down. You will need to have a running Hadoop envioronment. Check out "Practice: Process logs with Apache Hadoop". There is a Hadoop knowledge path coming which should help you to explore Hadoop in a logical way. Look for that soon.
Abdul's new paper
Finally, I wanted to give a shout out about the latest thing by Abdul Rauf, a contributor to the "Real World Open Source Group". He resently published his paper, "Effective Testing: A customized hand book for testing professionals and students", in the International Journal of Scientific and Engineering Research (IJSER). It's definitely worth a read if you deal with testing software (or software that will be tested). I know he'd also like your feedback. Post something on his profile (ABDULRAUF).