Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Jon
My grandmother, the thief!

Jan 01, 2012 GMT

 Just when you think the copyright and patent laws have reached their peak, more atrocities whack you in the face. After all these years I find out that according to US patent law (35 U.S.C. 161 Patents for Plants) my grandmother was a thief! My grandmother loved plants. Every year seed catalogs would appear in our mailbox, and grand-mom would pour through them for hours. A couple of weeks later small packages would appear in the mail and a few weeks after that flowers would start to bloom around the yard. Of course some plants you do not grow from seed. They are propagated asexually, usually by a cutting being taken from one plant and either “rooted” (by putting it in...
Free Software and Beer: Not just for breakfast anymore!

Nov 16, 2011 GMT

 Those of you who know me also know that I like a little beer every once in a while. Some of you also know that I often brew my own beer at an establishment called Incredibrew in Nashua, New Hampshire very close to my home, and sometimes use this beer at various Free Software events. Incredibrew is known as a “brew-on-premises” or “BOP” for short. At a BOP you will find all the materials and equipment necessary to brew, label and bottle significant quantities of your own beer without all of the mess and clean-up necessary if you brew the beer in your own house. Recently a friend of mine, Michel Grando, took me under his wing along with his friend Flavia and a mutual...
RIP Ilya

Nov 15, 2011 GMT

I had heard, of course, of the Diaspora* project some time ago. It is a project to create a decentralized social network that would allow the users to have complete control over their data and their privacy. Started by four college students, they had the audacity to take on a project that would be daunting to programmers with many more years of experience and many dollars of corporate investment behind them.....reminding me of another young friend of mine who started a small project in 1991 called “Linux”....When Diaspora* was first pointed out to me I received a login account, but the early functionality was not enough to keep me using it, so my account languished.In July of 2011 I...
What recession? Lessons learned through Free Software

Nov 15, 2011 GMT

 It all started ten years ago, at a beach party called (appropriately enough) “Open Beach”. A young programmer named Douglas Conrad had discovered Free Software about two years before, and dreamed of having his own company devoted to Free Software, making a living from the use and production of Free Software. Douglas started his company “OpenS Tecnologia” a year later in 2002, but still did not have a good idea for a sustainable business plan. In the years between 2002 and 2006, his company grew slowly while Douglas investigated different parts of Free Software, until the year 2008. In 2008 Douglas created a business plan revolving around VoIP, utilizing software...
RIP Dennis

Oct 13, 2011 GMT

Over the weekend of October 8th a giant of computer science died. Like a lot of really great people in the field, he died without a lot of fanfare, most of his friends and colleagues finding out about his death several days later. I heard about his death last night from a post by Rob Pike, and while I wanted to blog about it last night, I found I could not, so I waited until this morning. I sit here typing with tears streaming down my face.Dr. Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie, known as “Dennis” to many people and “dmr” to many more, passed away the weekend of October 8th after a long illness. I will not discuss here the many accomplishments of the man, as there will be much discussion...
Luis Iván Cuende García demonstrates the power of Free Software and the determination of a fifteen year old

Sep 26, 2011 GMT

Luis and an old man A few months ago I went to Campus Party in Spain. I have blogged about Campus Party before, so I will not spend a lot of time and space here on that topic.I will tell you about a young man, Luis Iván Cuende García, who was fifteen years old when I met him but who had released his own distribution of Linux called “Asturix”. He, his father and his friend Ricardo had all traveled to Campus Party at the invitation of the Campus Party management.The first thing his father said to me, quietly and as an aside, what that “Luis works very hard at creating Asturix”.I had assumed that already. What I did not know at that...
Supercomputing in Paradise

Aug 28, 2011 GMT

Imagine working in one of the most beautiful places in the world, high on a bluff in front of the magnificent Flatirons in Boulder, Colorado. Also imagine working in pure research dedicated to helping us understand the weather and climate that make up our environment, and finally imagine working with some of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. You might imagine that you are working for the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), and you would be right.I was fortunate enough to speak in front of a group of researchers there, and before my talk they took me on a tour of their computing facilities and showed me a bit of what they are doing in research.First of all, NCAR...

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