Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

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...
To have a warranty or not to have a warranty...that is the question.

Jan 12, 2014 GMT

Recently the Affordable Care Act (ACA, otherwise known as “Obamacare”) has dominated the news of the United States. Whether you are for it or against it makes no difference to this blog post, but there are a lot of similarities between health insurance, car insurance and computer system warranties that make it interesting to compare them.In the United States a “warranty” is a legal promise that tells a consumer what they might expect if a particular product does not perform the way it is represented to work.New automobiles, for instance, may come with a warranty that tells the customer that certain parts will be replaced in a certain period of time, and whether it is just the cost...
Hello, President Rousseff … I told you so.

Oct 14, 2013 GMT

Dear President Rousseff,I understand that you are irritated with my country, the United States of America, because one of our agencies, the National Security Agency, has been tapping into your private communications, reading your email and otherwise spying on you and other Brazilian nationals.Please pardon me for saying this, but “I told you so”.Ever since 1996 I have been coming to Brazil, and talking about GNU/Linux and Free and Open Source Software in general. After the events of September 11, 2001 and the passage of the so-called “USA Patriot Act of 2001”, I started to feel this little chill in the back of my mind, where I knew such far-reaching, unchecked powers were not what...

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