May 09, 2012 GMTSixteen months after its last release. OpenOffice.org has released version 3.4, its first as an Apache Incubator project. The release was covered matter of factly by The H (http://www.h-online.com/open/news/item/Apache-OpenOffice-3-4-0-debuts-1570353.html), and with a dash of skepticism by Brian Proffitt (http://www.h-online.com/open/news/item/Apache-OpenOffice-3-4-0-debuts-1570353.html). A week ago, it was even trash-talked by LibreOffice developer Michael Meeks (http://people.gnome.org/~michael/blog/2012-04-26-ooo-comparison.html), whose eagerness to discredit it was just a bit too obvious.I can't help wondering, though, whether this latest version is a release in the ordinary sense of...
Off the Beat: Bruce Byfield's Blog
Apr 23, 2012 GMTToday we have the naming of parts.-Henry ReedTitles come hard to me. I always avoid them until I've finished writing, and, even then, I have to agonize over them to make them even marginally suitable. Maybe that's why I'm fascinated at how projects and applications are named, a topic that has been in the news recently.What strategies are used for names? What are the dangers in a name? The ideal strategy? These little-discussed questions interest me because I'm constantly dealing with them in my own work.Because of my own difficulty with titles, I sympathize with those that choose a name that has no obvious connection with the project. Instead of hunting for a name that's both descriptive...
Apr 18, 2012 GMTI spent the last weekend at an art school graduation, surrounded by artists in various stages of their careers. Several times, I urged the advantages of an active online presence But, more often than not, those with whom I was talking balked at the idea, citing worries about copyright violation. Their reaction was a reminder of just how different the attitudes are in the free software and open source community from those of the general public -- and how hard that difference can be to overcome.Mind you, I sympathize with their concerns. Artists are miles away from a soulless corporation that could suck up the losses due to copyright violation. Many are near or below the poverty line. In...
Apr 11, 2012 GMTUsually, I'm not slow to give an opinion. However, after reading Ryan Funduk's "Our Culture of Exclusion" (http://ryanfunduk.com/culture-of-exclusion/), and its discussion of binge drinking at conferences, I realize that I don't know nearly enough to venture an opinion -- at least one that is worth reading, anyway. The most I can do is express the suspicion that Funduk might be right.The reason I can't address the question with any authority is that I spent the first decade of the millennium caring for my sick partner. She could neither travel nor drink for much of that time, so for the most part neither did I. And, since her death, I haven't really resumed either habit.If...
Apr 05, 2012 GMTEarlier this week, you might have noticed Esther Schindler and Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols writing about the twenty-fifth anniversary of OS/2, IBM's operating system of the 1990s. So did at least half a dozen others.Why bother, you might ask? OS/2 still exists today as a hobbyist operating system under the name of eComStation, but it's been a long time since it had any influence on the direction of mainstream computing. Nor is eComStation free software, although many of the applications it runs are. You might be tempted to attribute the interest entirely to the nostalgia of the middle-aged. In my case, that would definitely be a factor; I not only ran OS/2 for six years, but the first...
Mar 31, 2012 GMTFree and open source software has no shortage of spinoffs. There's the OpenBIOS project, which tries to make the firmware that runs computers free. There's the open hardware movement, which applies FOSS concepts to the machines it runs on. In academia, there's the open access movement, dedicated to sharing the information usually restricted to journals Increasingly, however, I'm starting to think we need an even more basic spinoff -- something that might be called the hardware free access movement.What I mean is, we need advocacy for hardware that can be opened and repaired by anyone. Right now, it's a concept that is not just going out of fashion, but barely exists.Look, for example, at...
Mar 20, 2012 GMTA few years ago, reactions to sexism in free and open source software (FOSS) took a few days to circulate. People were surprised, and unprepared to respond. Now, however, experience has encouraged preparation, and the responses are instantaneous and unforgiving, as Sqoot, the organizers of the upcoming Boston API Jam hackathon found out.As near as I can tell, this is what happened:Sqoot is a two-year old startup that describes itself as developing a "local deal layer [that] empowers sites and apps to build with deals." In other words, it's a center for organizing discounts for services and events. No license is posted on the company's site, but its API appears to be...
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