Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Jon
Ottawa Linux Symposium: May get by with a little help from its friends

Jul 29, 2014 GMT

I do not often do this, but old friend is in trouble.  Please stay with me as I tell this story. It was around the year 2002, and I was in Brazil.  I met two young college students who were very interested in Linux, and who impressed me with their enthusiasm and willingness to help others.  I asked them what they would really like to do, and their answer was to attend the Ottawa Linux Symposium (OLS) in Ottawa, Canada and to meet Linus Torvalds. I was not surprised about either desire.  OLS had been going on for a number of years, taking the place of the Raleigh Linux Expo that had been run by Red Hat.  But while the last Linux Expo was more like a hippie be-in,...
Standards Bodies and Free Software: We get by with a little help from our friends

Jul 07, 2014 GMT

I have a friend who needs a little help...he needs access to four of the twelve volumes of the ISO/IEC documents describing ISO SQL and SQL/PSM. These documents (ISO/IEC 9075:X:2011 where “X” equals 1-4) describe the implementation standards which he needs for the general compiler suite that he is writing. These documents cost about 500 US dollars each, and as a university student he does not have that type of money. He reached out to me in hopes I knew of someone who would have these documents. I tried one or two companies and came up with nothing, now I am reaching out to you.Normally these documents would be used by large companies, for which the purchasing money would be...
We are not programming in 1991 anymore!

Jul 07, 2014 GMT

As I write this I am also copying a talk given in February of 1996 at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) about the port of Linux to DEC's Alpha AXP processor.It is interesting to hear Linus Torvalds and other people talking about spending three thousand dollars (or more) to buy a “high-end” PC, and to have that PC consist of a 32-bit address machine with eight megabytes of main memory, two or three gigabytes of storage on a hard drive and disk transfer rates of two megabytes per second.Linus talks about the “Big Kernel Lock” and how this issue was not too important since Linux was aimed toward “low end systems” and most of those systems did not have multiple CPUs per board...
When windows were not as transparent as they could be: Happy Birthday - X Window System!

Jun 20, 2014 GMT

June 19th, 2014 was the thirtieth anniversary of the announcement of the X Window System. Whether you hate it or love it, the X Window System has been a long-lasting contribution to the computing marketplace.By the time I first saw the X Window System, Project Athena (a project sponsored by Digital Equipment Corporation, MIT and IBM) brought it a long way. MIT was developing version 10 of the system, and I was working as an Engineer at Digital for a group called Customer Services Systems Engineering (CSSE). Our group's job was to try to make our Unix products easier to maintain and use for the field people as well as the customers.It was a heady time in the Unix world. The Unix “wars”...
goto FAIL - Free and Open Source versus Closed Source Proprietary Code

Apr 19, 2014 GMT

The events of the past couple of weeks with the bug in OpenSSL exposing many websites and other communications are indeed unfortunate. Not only has it caused a lot of extra work and expense for those who have Internet servers to have to update code and replace certificates, but it has caused many end users to spend time doing what they avoid doing, update their passwords. Forcing end users to update their passwords is both bad and good news, which I will discuss later.However, the OpenSSL bug has also generated an abundance of articles and TV reports about the validity of Open Source code and (once again) questions of whether or not Open Source is more secure or less secure, higher...
University Students! Earn money while coding on cool Free and Open Source projects!

Mar 19, 2014 GMT

If you are a university computer science or computer engineering student and you are looking for a way to make some extra money while getting some great work experience, read on!Google's Summer of Code (or SoC for short) is a program that aligns university student programmers with a Free and Open Source project and a mentor and allows the student to work on a real project and earn “real money” (5500 US dollars) while getting advice from a real mentor. This work, most people agree, is better than having a student working the same hours and flipping hamburgers to make money, and many of these projects would look very good on a graduating student's resume.Linaro is an association of...
Dear President Rousseff, you are listening, but not enough....

Mar 17, 2014 GMT

Dear President Rousseff,You may remember that I wrote to you last October and gently scolded you for not listening to me over the past eighteen years and moving your country to software and hardware freedom, helping to ensure the security and privacy that I know you want your citizens and government to enjoy.In that article I even invited you to have some of your people talk with me and I was willing to offer advice to you on this topic for gratis, but alas, no official came to talk with me about the issues.Since last October I have seen that you had one of your people start to design a secure email system, one that my government would find harder to break, and that you are thinking about...

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