This post has moved to my personal blog site. Please read it there.
cmw.osdude 120000QT77 Tags:  standards openness open_source technology open_standards government freedom 2 Comments 5,884 Views
cmw.osdude 120000QT77 Tags:  open jam culture w3c social business opensocial open-culture 1 Comment 5,876 Views
[Remember that even though I work for IBM I am an individual with my own thoughts and ideas. Anything I write here may not necessarily represent the views of the IBM Corporation or its partners... though I'm hoping that's only a matter of time before they catch up.]
As I participate in the W3C Social Business Jam, I'm going to put out little flurries of thought about topics as they strike me. Maybe they'll get you thinking too.
The first one comes from a post from Mark Weitzel suggesting that the Org Chart is dead... that the current modes of communication, driven by social tools has blurred and even broken the clear, hierarchical lines of a business organization as people look up down and sideways for expertise to solve problems. I've certainly experienced some of this myself.
Is this change disruptive to business or will it help drive us into the future? There are ideas on both sides. Sometimes that chart works to our advantage. It makes sure that ideas and work get some vetting before they work themselves up and out to the public. On the other hand, that vetting can stifle creativity and introduce sluggishness that prevents a business from taking advantage of opportunity.
How does all of this reflect on people's expectations? I know as a customer I like to feel that the person I am talking to has the full authority to help me with everything that I need. I get nervous when things have to escalate and often feel like I'm being played by the system, to see if I'm really serious about getting help. However, within my business I like to know that if someone gives me a policy to follow that they really are the right authority and that I won't later be discovered to have broken some rule or created an unnecessary problem.
Clearly roles are changing and the resource lines may become more interconnected. It could be a revolution which changes everything for the better. It may throw a number of people into chaos who have grown to depend on strong guidance for what they do. It could also take a toll on accountability. Who is in charge of the crowd? How do we know?
cmw.osdude 120000QT77 Tags:  open_source planning vnc procrastination process orginization remote linux security webcam open_ssh 1 Comment 5,805 Views
I'm sure that all of you are focused individuals. I'm sure that all of you see tasks clearly laid before you and that you systematically work your way through them with the persistence of a census-taker... each one in turn until all the jobs are done. How wonderful that must be.
I've always been full of curiosity. I seek knowledge and experiences of all kinds, which has led me in many interesting directions. It's probably also the reason that I'm so drawn to open-source, because there is always something new to discover. Recently, I came across this article: Work Smart: How to Make Procrastination Productive
I like the way this person thinks. Procrastination isn't so much laziness, or fear of action. It's a sort of intuitive prioritization where things get done, just not in the way that some would consider logical. Are there out there who suffer from my fascination with the next shiny thing moving at the corner of vision? Does this broaden your reach or weaken your grasp?
One of the things that I've been exploring in my distraction is what one can do with a Web Cam. (Great! Some of you are already writing your own jokes. Fine! Laugh it up.) I hadn't looked to seriously at webcams because I just didn't have a specific need for one. Additionally, most equipment like that tends to be pretty Windows-centric and, while I can usually find the right piece and get it to run OK under Linux, I just wasn't motivated. Then, I'm in a big-box technology store beginning with an F where I normally don't shop because I don't find that the cheap prices are worth all of their other hassles. (I might as well order on-line!) Yet, there I am, looking for an adapter for my Droid, that I thought I need to have that day. I happen by the webcam section and start looking at the different models. I find a Creative Live! Cam Socialize HD, which actually lists Linux as an option under it's system requirements! I'm so pleased and surprised that I find myself taking it home.
I connect the camera and it works right out of the box! Yay. I talk to my dad and convince him to get a web cam as well. The next night we experiment a little and decide that for bed time we'll let Grandma and Grandpa join us for story time. It's pretty cool. My daughter read her story (she always reads one to us too) and she would read the text and show the pictures to the camera. Another night we did it again and Grandma and Grandpa had a story for us. What a wonderful way to reach out and touch bases with each other. As someone with a home-office I appreciated the value of being able to have some virtual presence and sharing seemingly insignificant things.
Now something weird has started. Skype, which is what we were using, has suddenly decided to only use my camera at 15 FPS, rather than the 30 that it will do, and all of the settings and adjustments are shielded from me in Skype. I can make it work fine with the other, open applications that talk to the camera. I did some digging and found that this was not unusual for the Linux version of Skype. I don't know if they are behind on the video technology that's available through the Linux kernel, or what. Perhaps they are doing some of that intuitive prioritizing. In the mean time I'm looking for other options that are more open that will also be easy for my dad to use. I've even toyed with setting up my own SIP server using Kamailio, but I haven't had a chance to learn the in and outs of how it works. Too many shiny things... like getting articles done, drawing a paycheck and other things that.
Maybe soon my intuitive priorities will align and I'll be able to share with you the secret formula for doing this yourself. In the mean time I'll share a little hint with you: You don't need a fancy service to connect to your computer from anywhere. You can do it with SSH and a system that you leave connected to the Internet. I'll give the basics for the adventuresome and maybe write up a more substantial tutorial later:
Connecting Work PC to home:That's the sort of expert view. Maybe some of you can use it. Selecting a higher port like 35900 helps avoid firewall issues where lower ports are blocked.
Ooo! Something shiny! I'm just going to take a moment and--
cmw.osdude 120000QT77 Tags:  opensource linux jailbreaking oracle iphone open_source 5,803 Views
A few interesting stories today. The first one, while not very deep and more of a sort of op-ed piece talks about Oracle's apparent battling with open source. It's called "Shuttleworth: Oracle dooms its prospects in open source business." Oracle has made some interesting choices as the new stewards-- yes stewards! -- of the open-source projects they received with Sun. Another, "Jailbreakers Smell Trouble in New Apple Security Patent," speculates about how some of the new patents that Apple has filed may have more to do with giving them a way to catch iPhone jailbreakers than enhanced user security.
It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out. What I see is an increased interest by many technology consumers in openness. Just as the era of the PC created a world which was unfettered from the rule of the system administrator the next age of computing will allow a tech-savvy user to have more freedom and flexibility with their equipment... provided that they are permitted. We are going to discover soon how much of your technology that you actually own. Imagine if you bought a car but were not permitted to outfit it with whatever enhancements that you desired to go faster, be safer or just look funky. Imagine being prohibited from cannibalizing your old electronics or motor parts to create your own toys, tools and inventions. I can see voiding the warranty and refusing to support a device which had been altered... but surely when I pay that much money for a piece of hardware I should be able to tinker with it. I'm hoping that the response to these sorts of things will be for consumers to go to technologies where they are not subject to such controls. We'll see. Likewise, if Oracle continues to tighten their grip on their open-source projects I hope that many do what has happened in the past when an open-source project has started to turn away from its community responsibilities: they'll turn to another option which is still open.
I agree that these companies are well within their rights to protect their property. However, if your need for protection exceeds the desire of the consumer to put up with your restrictions they will go elsewhere. Like I said... I can't wait to see what happens next.
On the other hand, there are a couple of interesting looks at where openness is blossoming. Here is an article, "What would persuade you to ditch Windows for Ubuntu 10.04?," which says what I've said for some time: Linux is ready for you if you want it. It's a nice description of the things that Ubuntu has done to make themselves friendly enough to by my choice as a daily work environment as well as the choice for people I have helped migrate from Windows to Linux. It's all just going to get better and better.
Finally, there is movement in an area where you would expect openness to be unwelcome: the military. I've seen a few articles lately about how the military is finding advantages to open-source tools. Do a little searching and you'll find them easily. This makes sense to me. Most of the guys I have met who are truly dangerous don't wish for a lot of fancy James Bond gadgets if they get into trouble. They just want a nice sharp pencil. I think that soldiers are discovering that there is an advantage to having transparency to the technology that they use when lives are on the line. It will be interesting to see where all that goes as well.
Enough for now. I wish I had a great tag line to leave you with... but I don't.
cmw.osdude 120000QT77 Tags:  ip patents line open_source law commandline hackers intellectual property disclosure command linux non opensource cli games nda hat blackhat black hacking 5,786 Views
Black Hat 2012
Computer security fascinates me. I freely admit that I don't have the chops that many do about cracking into or securing syststems, but I do alright for myself... on securing systems, that is. I'm certainly not claiming in any way that I spend time engaged in any activity that could be construed as subversive or illegal... Dang! Awkward...
Of course, this is the situation one gets into when taking an interest in the "dark arts" of computing. People assume that you are claiming to be some sort of criminal mastermind or something when actually you are simply fascinated by the nature of how bad guys do things. Just as someone who likes to watch true crime documentaries on TV is not necessarily using it to plan their weekend, many people interested in "Black Hat" hacking are not looking to lead the next charge of Anonymous. So, it is likely that if you had an interest in attending the recent Black Hat 2012 conference in Las Vegas that it was hard to make a strong connection between that and what you are paid to do. That's OK. Though the event is over, there is a reasonable archive of confernce material on the web site, including papers, presentations and even some source code! (Use at your own risk.) There's not much in the way of video from the site right now, but a YouTube search brings up material-- though most of it is from Black Hat 2012 in Europe. I'm guessing, though, that techniques and vulnerabilities don't change much by crossing the ocean, so you can probably get a lot from them.
I'll keep my eyes open and try to report additional material as I find it.
IP Law Talk
The other day I was reading about a patent license agreement between a major software company and a minor company for an undisclosed amount regarding undisclosed patents. The story was non-news, unless you're into corporate celebrity, but the discussion had some interesting thoughts expressed. At least they tried to be interesting. They ultimately turned into the sort of juvenile brawl that such discussions do because everyone is out to win. The part of the discussion that really caught my attention was why a company might not want to disclose their patents. Since Linux and Open Source software frequently comes under fire for allegedly violating patents this is interesting to me. The conversation is often along these lines:
Patent holding company: The villainous developers of these open-source projects are stealing our IP and violating our patents and they must pay.
open source developers: Uhhh... we don't think we are.
Patent holding company: Oh, yes you are. In fact we have been striking numerous deals with people who agree that this is a violation.
open source developers: Wow, you really do seem to be making deals with people. Maybe there is something to this. What patents are we violating so that we can fix that?
Crickets: (chirp) (chirp) (chirp)
OK... that wasn't completely fair and read more like a Dilbert cartoon, but I hope you see the fun side of it. It seems to me that if my goal was to prevent people from infringing on my intellectual property that I would want to proclaim loudly and strongly what was being stolen from me so they could and would cease and desist. That doesn't seem to be the way that it works out for some reason. There are non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), behind-the scenes business, announcements that are simultaneously widespread and secretive. It can be very confusing.
Well, it turns out that a new community has formed on trying to understand and relate to Intellectual Property Law. It's your chance to ask your questions and voice your own experiences with people who deal with this every day. It's called IP Law Talk, and should be a fascinating place. I wonder if they know about this weird patent slide show.
Has the Command Line outstayed its welcome?
This is the question asked by a Linux Insider story. I'm going to apologize for being a little prejudiced here, but I just don't understand someone who is technical who wants to do everything with a mouse. Even when I'm supporting Windows I will jump into the command line to get information because I can get information faster by typing "ipconfig /all" than I can browsing around with the mouse. I use icon-based launchers and I find them very handy. I recently talked about how I use them to keep my Firefox identities clear. However, there are some things that I can just flat do more efficiently using the command line. I can then combine those things into a script which I can place under an icon if I so desire. Macro recordings of mouse movements just don't seem to have the same capabilities.
I know that many people get nervous about the command line. They don't type well. They don't have the commands memorized. It can be frustrating until you get used to it. But there is a heavy price for a graphical interface in system resources which could and should be used for other things if the interface is only rarely required.
I hope that you aren't afraid of the command line. If you'd like to explore it in Linux there's a nice tutorial as part of our Learn Linux 101 series. Windows folks can look at this site. You don't have to use it all the time (though I admit that I do). It's nice to have it around, though for when the other tools aren't working. As an example, when I've had some program take over my graphical interface, it's nice to be able to switch to a command session to see what's happening and kill the offending processes. I've been able to use ssh from my phone to connect to my laptop when the keyboard wasn't responding and fix things without having to reboot. Is that geeky? You bet! But that skill comes in handy when you're dealing with bigger problems.
There has been some controversy about comments by Valve co-founder, Gabe Newell, calling Windows 8 a "catastrophe" and saying that Linux was part of Valve's future strategy. (Don't take my word for it. See the story by the BBC.) I admit that I haven't had as much time for games for a while, and when I do I am more likely to want to play a "human contact" game with dice and faces rather than having more computer time. However, it's no secret that Linux has been woefully thin in the gaming area. This is ironic, because I think that the tools and libraries available to Linux could make it an outstanding platform for media and gaming. It's just not where game creators focus.
Perhaps something like the Steam platform working more with Linux will make a difference. Of course, this is a future play. Steam has announced enthusiasm but not a release for Linux. It could get pretty interesting, though. While browsing through the gaming world I found that Steam is looking to Linux. Another site, Good Old Games, does not support Linux now, but might respond to interest, especially if it works well for Steam.
I did find a site, Desura, which already supports Linux. I downloaded a few of their free games to test and just might go for some of the paid titles as well. As entertainment becomes more network and browser based the native platform should matter less and less. I'm intersted to see what has happened. If anyone is already using Desura and knows games I should check out, let me know!
cmw.osdude 120000QT77 Tags:  cassandra blender storage inkscape artwork linux gpt clipart 5,754 Views
I was reading things through my Twitter feed the other day and came across this article by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols discussing the choice that Google, Canonical and others have made to not use Linux in the name of their products. It's not going to turn your world upside down, and it's fairly trivial on some levels, but it is interesting. I use both Ubuntu and Android. I selected them because they have Linux as their foundation, but more specifically because out of similar choices they just did what I wanted the way I wanted.
There is a good deal of discussion about the fact that there are so many Linux distributions. "There's too much choice!" In reality most of these offerings are distinctive in some way, and merely share their foundational parts of Linux and GNU tooling. So far Android has been very successful. Ubuntu seems to be the Linux-based computing environment that more people recognize. Those are good things.
When I became editor of the Open Source site on developerWorks I was inundated with various databases and data framesworks and other similar pieces. Databases and such are fairly successful in the open-source world because that sort of work is a kind of voodoo to a lot of people. It largely runs behind the scenes and gives up data when I ask for it and hides data away when I tell it to. It's an easy place to insert open-source without upsetting people because they don't necessarily deal with the moving parts anyway.
As time has passed I've seen a lot more in the NoSQL areas and with cloud, mobile and all the strange and unusual places we try to put software nowadays I can appreciate the need to know about as many alternatives as you can. As long as the data remains open, flexibility on how you interact with it is handy and can help you turn a bad situation into an innovative opportunity.
Srinath Perera has been tinkering with Cassandra. If you don't know Cassandra, this is a good introduction. If you are already familiar you may pick up some specific details, especially as he looks at where it can create surprises. Read "Consider the Apache Cassandra database: What are the pros and cons of this NoSQL database?" now on developerWorks.
Large drives and GPT
When I can buy a 2TB drive to sit on my desk for $99 do I really need to worry about drive tuning? I would say that makes it even more important! What a shame to have a big giant drive and then waste a good deal of it because the data isn't partitioned optimally. I'm still interested in learning more about different drive tuning techniques, especially since I run Linux, because I can mix and match some of that a little more than I might in other environments.
A few years ago, Make the most of large drives with GPT and Linux:Preparing for future disk storage with the GUID Partition Table" on developerWorks.wrote about some drive optimization techniques in an article that gained a good deal of popularity. However, most information like that ages. Rather than archiving it, though, Roderick has updated the information, so it's worth a second look even if you've read it before. Learn more about the Master Boot Record (MBR) and partition management in "
As some of you know, I've been playing around with Blender, the free, open-source 3D modelling, animation and compositing software. I'm still just a baby, but I'm slowly learning how to do interesting things with it. Today I wanted to design a logo for a community group I'm building. I wanted to do something unusual. Tinkering with Blender, I found that one could import SVG files, created in Inkscape, and then manipulate them to have depth. I took some silhouettes that I was playing with and managed to create the following graphic. (be sure to click on it and see it full sized)
Admittedlymy picture won't win any kind of design awards, but it really shows what can be done by bringing things into a 3D environment and playing with light and such rather than simply drawing. I'll be doing much more with this. Of course, once it's designed, it's easy to move the camera around to get different perspectives and even shoot some sort of video where you move through the picture.
Blender is just one of the coolest things. I'm making this image available under Creative Commons, using the (cc-by) license. Please feel free to use it as you wish, just please give me credit.
cmw.osdude 120000QT77 Tags:  internet dns party chriswalden landing curiosity 4g smartphone 3g lander austin network hacking mars nasa 5,751 Views
On Sunday night, I joined a number of space exploration enthusiasts at a Landing Party to watch the deployment of Curiosity, the newest Mars rover. It was an incredible event. Here is some video of my immediate reaction after the party. Bear in mind that it is very late, I'm out on the street and I'm pretty tired by now. It's raw-gritty reporting that puts you there! I would have had Monday or Tuesday, but I had to fiddle with the video a little... and I was pretty out of it on Monday and not able to multi-task as well as I do on other days.
First, let me congratulate NASA and all involved. It was an inspiring deployment where everything appeared to work perfectly. Watching it in a room full of people who cared was inspiring. Every stage was cheered enthusiastically. It was wonderful to behold.
In the video, I mention a couple of applications. First, was Uniview, which is a commercial application that was used to show us an impressive 3D rendering of our solar system and beyond as the presenter related it all to the Mars mission. However, he also pointed out Partiview, which he said was a similar application, freely available as open source. It's mulitplatform and I am downloading it now. I'll report the results.
I believe that space exploration is important. It drives us to solve problems and gives us places to reach when our own world seems a little inhospitable. Science fiction becomes science fact as people find ways to make their social and technological dreams come true. We will never stop reaching for the stars. If governments decide to get out (which might not be a bad idea on some levels) people will make it happen.
Hacking my DNS
A while back I was feeling frustrated about my home network. Everything just seemed sluggish, but when I would do various speed tests it didn't really seem to be so bad. What was going on? After poking around for a while, I observed that my slow-down seemed to be related to domain name resolution. If you already know about this stuff you can skip the explanation.
Quick explanation of DNS
In a TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) network, which is what we use on the Internet, everything is done by the numbers. Ultimately, your network card is wanting to talk to another networks card somewhere else. That's what your MAC (Machine Access Control) address is. It's a unique identifier of your network card. Of course, having an index of all of those devices is cumbersome, so a system of cataloging them was determined. That's where the TCP/IP address comes in, the x.x.x.x number that is assigned to you on a network. However, telling you to visit my web page at 22.214.171.124 is probaby not going to be easy to deal with. So, a concept was devised where names could be given to the various networks and a lookup occur to point you to the final destination. That is known as the DNS (Domain Name System). I'm going pretty quickly here. If you really want to understand you should read more about tcp/ip and DNS, but here's essentially how it works:
Once I noticed that my name resolution seemed to be a bottleneck, I started digging around. I think that the DNS servers for ISPs are typically pretty overloaded. If I can bypass those, then I can perhaps get a faster lookup and faster networking overall. In Linux, there is a utility called dig. It performs name lookups with some feedback about the process. By default, it will use your network's name server, but you can designate a name server as well. I found a list of public name servers and played with them through dig. You can see some examples below.
$ dig ibm.com @126.96.36.199 ; <<>> DiG 9.8.1-P1 <<>> ibm.com @188.8.131.52 ;; global options: +cmd ;; Got answer: ;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 54167 ;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 1, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0 ;; QUESTION SECTION: ;ibm.com. IN A ;; ANSWER SECTION: ibm.com. 9097 IN A 184.108.40.206 ;; Query time: 27 msec ;; SERVER: 220.127.116.11#53(18.104.22.168) ;; WHEN: Wed Aug 8 13:58:01 2012 ;; MSG SIZE rcvd: 41 $ dig ibm.com @22.214.171.124 ; <<>> DiG 9.8.1-P1 <<>> ibm.com @126.96.36.199 ;; global options: +cmd ;; Got answer: ;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 43573 ;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 1, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0 ;; QUESTION SECTION: ;ibm.com. IN A ;; ANSWER SECTION: ibm.com. 4548 IN A 188.8.131.52 ;; Query time: 21 msec ;; SERVER: 184.108.40.206#53(220.127.116.11) ;; WHEN: Wed Aug 8 13:58:33 2012 ;; MSG SIZE rcvd: 41
Ultimately, I decided that I liked the Google server, 18.104.22.168, because it was easy to remember. All of them provided some improvements. So, I went to my home router and told it to use the Google name servers rather than the default. Voila! All machines connected to my network automatically go to the other servers to look up names. This has made a vast improvement in my networking latency. Isn't that interesting?
If I'm in another network and want to do the same thing, then I can adjust the network settings to include my own choices. That will vary with each operating system. On Linux, I simply edit a file called /etc/resolv.conf. Here's what it looks like:
nameserver 22.214.171.124 nameserver 126.96.36.199
188.8.131.52 is the secondary server.
What about the phone?
So, after I had done this for a while, I started wondering about the network on my phone. I have a 4G phone, but it just seemed to lose its mind from time to time. Again, the issues seemed to be related to finding things more than connecting to them? Could I do the same thing?
I did some digging, and since Android is based on Linux, there were similar underpinnings. However, these only seemed to work for the WIFI network, not the 4G/3G. Drat! I rooted my phone some time ago, so, I had access to the settings, but I just couldn't find anything useful. Then I found out that there are apps that will help out with this. The one I settled on is "Set DNS" by Steve Hanlon. I tried the free version for a while and then bought the pro version for less than $3. (I like to support independent developers when I can, so I donate to open-source projects and buy pro versions of phone apps that I like.) It has worked exactly as I hoped. Suddenly, some of the sites I had trouble with getting lost started working very efficiently and I have noticed a decided difference in my network stability.
Perhaps later on I'll find the guts for this and be able to do it without a helper app, though I'm satisfied with the solution.
If you are having sluggish access to the Internet, maybe a change to your name server will help. Feel free to post a comment with a question and I'll help if I can.
cmw.osdude 120000QT77 Tags:  screencapture lifehacking ffmpeg organization windows 0xmf 1 Comment 5,751 Views
(QUICK ONES are bigger than a tweet, but not much!)
Two quick things to look at. (I need to get my demo edited for the Pulseaudio thing I talked about the other day.) Today I looked around to see if Windows users could use ffmpeg to capture video the way I've discussed here, here, and here. The short answer is "No, you can't." Dang! It's really a cool technique. However, I did find this tool, which looks ot perform a similar function. I'll need to fire it up in a Windows VM to check it out-- and that's just not going to happen today or even this week. Maybe someone else will have a chance to check it out and give us feedback.
Also, a retweet by @0xMF: "RT @BrentOzarPLF: Turns out that if you want to finish your work by 5:30 every day, you should visit this link: http://t.co/nwFeMeE9" I didn't have time to look at it in detail ( :-) ) but it looked interesting.
Yesterday I spent some time with a dear friend in San Antonio, Texas who is in his 70s. We couldn't get together in person, because we're a couple of hours apart, but he got a new iPad and I realized that he should be able to use video technology. It went pretty well. We got him going in fairly short order and were able to talk face-to-face. His health has made it difficult for him to get around as much, so this is going to give him the chance to have more people time. That's good. That's what technology should do. It's good technology too, which works from his iPad and my Linux and my Android and someone else's Windows. Technology should break down barriers, not create them.
Here's the weird part, though. Before contacting him, I discovered that Skype, the tool we decided to start with, had an updated Linux version out. This is weird. Skype has been traditionally "fringe friendly" to Linux. We've been back-leveled for years with little or no interest in moving things much forward. Suddenly, Microsoft, one of the Great Satans, makes the update happen. Maybe it was already in the works and they just pulled aside the curtain. Maybe they jumped in and put a team on it. I don't know. I do know that the last thing I expected from Microsoft's purchase of Skype was for them to make it easier for me.
Microsoft takes a lot of punching from me. I used to use Windows exclusively and now I just don't care for it -- though I support people who do and don't whine about it. Many of their applications and development methods have been problematic for a more open world, which is frustrating and often counterproductive. I've been hearing that Microsoft is cultivating a new perspective which may be beneficial to an open world. Suddenly they've done something that helps. I have to give them a tip of the hat for that. Updating Skype is a big deal. I don't expect I'll be using Windows any time soon, but I'd like to have the chance to interact with Microsoft technologies in an open way. I'd live to start working with them rather than around them. Maybe things really are changing. Perhaps we've really entered into the Age of Aquarius.
I need a rainbow Dashiki, quickly!
[Remember that even though I work for IBM I am an individual with my own thoughts and ideas. Anything I write here may not necessarily represent the views of the IBM Corporation or its partners... though I'm hoping that's only a matter of time before they catch up.]
A while back I turned my router over to dd-wrt. So far I really have nothing to complain about. It just works. I had a power outage a while back and it came back with no surprises. We do multiple laptops and Netflix streaming all together and it seems to be fine.
It's gotten me to thinking about other sorts of dedicated Linux
possibilities. Now, I'm not looking to do some sort of embedded
project. That's cool, but just not where I tend to spend my
time. However, I do have some little projects that would be nice
for a dedicated system and I just don't have a spare computer.
Fortunately there are a few ways for me to deal with this. Let me tell
you what I'm doing.
Virtualization with kvm
cmw.osdude 120000QT77 Tags:  php twitter retrospective rant tech new 2102 torvalds developerworks linux 2013 5,634 Views
OK. I'm a little more caught up after the holiday. I'm pleased to announce that the Learning PHP series on developerWorks has gotten some updates (Part 1 was done earlier. 2 and 3 updates just got published.) If you want to dive in and start making use of this popular language this is a great way to do it. I'm actually going to roll up my digital sleeves and walk through the tutorials myself as a coder rather than as an editor. I need to tinker with PHP a lot more and this will get me going quickly.
There's lots going on with the changing of the year, however. Here are a few things of interest.
Linux: 2012 was a very good year
I came across this article from PC World, a publication that is not necessarily known for pushing Linux. There are a lot of interesting points in there. Linux is making money. People are getting stuff done with GNU/Linux. Gaming companies are starting to turn their eyes to the platform. For myself, 2012 was the year where had had less confusion than any other time in my life when I told people I ran Linux. Nearly everyone I spoke with about it had heard of Ubuntu and many said they were considering loading it up themselves if they hadn't already. I know that for many things Linux still makes up a small percentage bump on the user map, but it is going gangbusters in the background and it just isn't going away!
Of course, it isn't always pretty in Linux land. I don't know if it speaks to passion or just poor socialization, but a recent blog post in the Real World Linux community discusses the heated exchange with Linux Torvalds and one of the kernel maintainers when a patch broke something in userspace. I've heard a lot of discussion about whether or not professionals have exchanges like that. They may not where you have worked, but I've witnessed some pretty strongly worded conferences in my career. It's probably not something recommended in the people management handbook, but it does happen. Hopefully everyone will make nice and move on. Of course, ten years ago that exchange wouldn't have been any kind of news whatsoever.
One of the interesting side effects of tools like Twitter is that it gives you a view of the information pie that is hard to get any other way. So much information comes from so many people with tags identifying groups and trends. Twitter has provided a 2012 retrospective page showing what was hot in a variety of topics. My stuff hasn't bubbled up to the top so far, but it's interesting to see who has. It's also interesting—and sometimes aphaalling—to see what people have found important enough to share and discuss. This kind of data is going to become more robust as we go.
Of course, the new year is not all about looking back. It's also about looking forward. This slide show from InfoWorld has their picks for what is "highly anticipated". I'll admit that some of them don't especially grab me. (Let's see if you can figure out which ones!)
I'm intrigued to see the future direction of Android, though the way providers tend to implement it I won't be able to enjoy it with my existing device. I really wish I could handle Android like I do installing Linux on devices!
The pending evolution of wireless protocols is also intriguing. Wouldn't it be amusing if we eventually fix the high-speed everywhere questions with wireless rather than running cables?
The flexible displays are also pretty interesting and could show up in some surprising areas. Imagine touch interaction that doesn't need to be flat anymore.
I'm also curious to see what happens with the new innovations in energy usage that are evolving. I'm sure there will be more on that later.
Happy New Year, all. I hope you got some kind of a break and are ready to start making a difference with all that you do.
cmw.osdude 120000QT77 Tags:  article wiki phone opensource funny software developerworks steve open_source alternatives voltdb open-source power linux southworth camera 5,633 Views
Lots of random things today.
Today's silly email
From: Scam Mail
At least they are honest about scamming you.
IBM Linux on POWER
I think Linux and the POWER architecture are an outstanding combination. I would really like to see a new POWER laptop to load Linux on. (Apple used to be a good source for that until they decided to go Intel.) POWER servers are competitive in price with el-cheapo models, especially when you factor in consolidating services into a single box. I came across this video which talks about Linux on POWER.
Steve Southworth is funny
New VoltDB article in developerWorks/opensource
How many databases do we need exactly? When are we going to have enough? If you have a shop where you are able to support a single database, say DB2, then that's great! However, it's likely that you need to have flexibility in your database, either because you can't always get what you need from the administrators, or you are dealing with customers who have varying situations, or some other unexpected situation that you can't predict. It's always good to have more tools in your toolbox. Talke a look at VoltDB and play with it. Here's what author, Simon Buckle, had to say about his article:
The VoltDB developers tout their project as revolutionizing your application design methodology to get things out fast! Check it out, play with it and you'll be the smartest one in the room when someone brings it up!
Open Source alternatives
Ages back, I wrote a popular blog entry called "Start your learning with Open Source." It must have struck some sort of a chord because it's gotten more than 15K hits since 2009. One of the most common conversations I have with people about open-source software is about subsitutes for the current software that they are using. I reference a few sources in that blog entry, but there is also an evolving Wiki in the Real World Open Source community with a list of open source software. You'll find some handy suggestions in there. You can also add your own. It's just getting started, so we've barely scratched the surface. Take a look and contribute.
Don't forget that there is a discussion board there as well where you can bring up your questions and problems. Have another place where you do those discussions? Tell me where and I'll add them to the bookmarks or feeds in the community.
cmw.osdude 120000QT77 Tags:  mit computing education rauf scratch summer abdul typing libreoffice testing selinux gimp hadoop turtlegraphics 5,628 Views
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):
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).
Hello, world. I am updating my Ubuntu desktop to 12.04. If I seem to have disappeared, you'll know what happened.
Actually, I expect it to go very smoothly. My [Linux] updates typically do. Of course, the first thing that I will do is replace that Unity trash with Gnome or something. Fortunately, I get the choice on things like that. Sorry, Windows and Mac folks. It sucks when they change your interface forever.
cmw.osdude 120000QT77 Tags:  developerworks cmwfeatured linux tools blogging opensource open_source 5,610 Views
I recently had a call with some people who are interested in contributing to the Real World Open Source and Real World Linux communities here one developerWorks! Yay! I would like to see a lot more input by people in these places. As a part of that conversation they requested me to outline my recommendations for people new to writing in this environment. I decided that this might be of interest to the general public, so I'm posting here rather than privately through email.
Writing in developerWorks is not like having your own Wordpress or other blog. You can do a good deal of customization to make it fit your own preferences, but you will need to fit into the overall developerWorks framework. This framework may change around you, so the general rule of thumb is "Keep It Super Simple". Your content is what is most important here, not any bells and whistles that you might add, so write things that do well with plain, clean HTML. I prefer to do my writing in an HTML editor, actually. I tend to use Kompozer, an open-source editor. Unfortunately, development on this project seems to have stalled out, but it's still my favorite editor. It produces clean HTML with no muss or fuss and allows me to easily put something together which I can just paste into place. You can use any editor that you choose which can save HTML. However, bear these things in mind:
The included HTML editor is decent, but a little thin for me. I have two browser plugins that I use to help me write entries that I have not pre-written in Kompozer.
Write Area - This plugin will give you a fuller editor that you can invoke in any text area with a right-click. It provides more formatting options for links and images. Unfortunately it does not include a spell checker, though. so be sure to double-check your work. I use this a lot! (I'm using it now). It's been a real help to get around any site that has a limited window in which to write. It's free for Firefox. I'm sure that people with other browser preference will find similar add-ons. I'm just telling you what I use.
Scribefire - This plugin provides more than just an editor. It is a blog management system, allowing you to work with various blogs on different sites. It will give me a list of the blogs that I use and let me edit or create a new entry for any of them. This can be handy, but it sometimes does some strange things with more advanced formatting. (Remember, I said to keep it simple?) Another feature is that it will allow me to simultaneously publish the same thing on multiple blogs at once. I did run into one issue, which I mentioned in a previous post. Do not use the '#' symbol in your article titles with Scribefire. This caused it to get lost when trying to agregate my existing entries. That was very frustrating for quite a while until I tracked down the issue.
There are other blogging tools which are compatible with developerWorks, but these are the ones that I generally use.
Any pictures that you want to use need to either live on the system or be linked with the URL. For some content, especially copywrited content, I just link to it. That saves some of the usage hassles and acts as an automatic credit to the owner. For example, Dilbert cartoons are a great thing to include from time to time and they have a simple method for linking to their content.
If you're going to do things like this, you should expect to have to tweak the HTML from time to time. Sometimes developerWorks seems to alter things that are not entered through the raw HTML view. (That's the <h> button in your toolbar if you are using the default blog editor.) HTML is nothing to be afraid of, and many of you are technical people anyway, so you should feel comfortable with it.
For some pictures, though, it's best to upload them. If you are using the default editor, uploading is automatic. You click the icon to insert a picture and it gives you a chance to upload your picture. I will often use this step just to get the picture up and then go into Write Area to manipulate it and make it look nice with the article.
You can also upload an image file directly. Select the Settings link, next to New Entry. On the Create & Edit tab you'll find File Uploads. You can manage everything here. Note that this interface acts much like old-school FTP, so you can't overwrite existing files.
If you need to change something you need to delete it and then upload the new one. That provides a window where the file may not exist, but it's pretty quick.
Copy the link for an existing file and you can use a conventional <img> tag to include it.
Bookmarking major linksI quickly got annoyed by some of the steps to getting to areas like file management. They are easy to find, but require a number of clicks to get there. This was easily remedied with a few book marks. I have bookmarks set up for my main blog and the entries page. These reside in a folder on my bookmark toolbar, so it's pretty easy to jump right to the spot I want. If I did more file management I'd probably set up a bookmark for it as well, but it's just as easy to go to the entries page and then click over to files. (Two quick clicks versus three slow ones.) It seems like such a silly thing, but it really helped me a lot.
Contributing to the Real World communities
That should get you started with basic blogging. If there are questions that I have raised rather than answered I'll be happy to address them. You can email me or comment here. I may make this a living document and update it rather than writing additional chapters. I've set up the Real World Open Source and Real World Linux communities so that any member can draft an article. Simply become a member and start one. When you submit it, I'll be notified and can release it. Feel free to use this to post a great topical discovery or idea without taking on the burden of maintaining your own blog. If you decide to start your own, let me know and I'll follow it.