Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Jon
AXE and your shell receives

Dec 27, 2010 GMT

 I was at a Linux Meetup a couple of months ago and I ran into another former employee of Digital Equipment Corporation (“They are everywhere, everywhere!”) named Larry Camilli. We started talking and somehow the conversation came around to a program called “AXE” (vaX Archictecture Exerciser). Larry looked at me with a strange look on his face and said “That was my program! That is what I did for Digital!” Larry went on to say that few people he met, even those who worked for Digital, knew about the AXE (or its equivalent for the MicroVAX, the “MAX”) program. I replied that I worked in an operating system group, so we often delt with new CPUs, and we knew the *AXE...
The Gift That Keeps On Giving - Your Time

Dec 23, 2010 GMT

 It is late, very late, and you are still trying to decide on a gift for your  [ mother | father | sister | brother | uncle | aunt | grand* | step* ] You would have had enough money for a gift, but you saw those really awesome headphones that you just had to buy, and now you are very low on money. And it is late....very late.... Why not give the gift that keeps on giving? The gift that most of these people will really appreciate, and that demonstrates the true meaning of the holiday season? The gift of your time. Find a nice holiday picture on the Internet (make sure it is freely licensed, perhaps by Creative Commons) and use GIMP, Inkscape or some other freely...
maddog the catalyst

Dec 05, 2010 GMT

 Every once in a while something happens that makes me fairly proud of what I do. Whatever I actually do I am often not quite sure at the time and usually find out about it much later. I am proud that a few words of mine helped to start an open source development center in Soweto, Africa (one year later I found out about this), and I am proud that a talk I gave in 1999 inspired Mark Spencer to make Asterisk a FOSS project (discovered this in 2001). I am proud that I helped get Linus an Alpha processor and encouraged him to make Linux a 64-bit operating system (three-year payback on this one), and I am proud of the many students and FOSS developers and advocates that I have...
X marks the spot

Nov 30, 2010 GMT

  For the past couple of years I have been orchestrating a contest at Campus Party events in Spain, Brazil and Colombia which challenges a participant to make a video using only free software. This means that the participants have to create the video, edit the video, make the credits and produce a CD using only free software tools, and the entire presentation has to be licensed under a Creative Commons license.  The participants are given a list of possible software to use ahead of time, but they can use any software they want to use as long as it is either Free Software or Open Source. They do not know what the subject of the video will be until the first day of Campus Party,...
smaug: The firebreather

Nov 30, 2010 GMT

 I recently bought my first new laptop computer in over six years. My previous computer was a Thinkpad X31, and I purposely bought the best I could afford knowing that I would have it for a long time. I outfitted the X31 with two GB of main memory, an 80 GB disk, a docking station and a five year extended warranty. That laptop has been around the world many times, subjected to freezing cold, hot temperatures and even been dropped a couple of times (fortunately onto carpeted floors and with the power turned off). I have upgraded its disk twice (it now holds 320 GB of data) and it is still functioning fine. I did have to return it to be repaired one time (the turn-around for the...
One Ring of Trust To Bind Them All

Nov 30, 2010 GMT

 There is much discussion these days around security, most of which comes from the release of Firesheep and the “discovery” that the three “W”s of “World Wide Web” may really stand for the “Wild, Wild West”. Basically I hate the idea of needing to lock things up, hide things, and search people. There have been cultures where two poles crossed over the door of a tent meant it was “locked”, and people could leave the doors to their remote cabins unlocked to allow stranded people to find shelter in a storm, but in many places those times are past. I remember in 1977 when the researchers at Bell Labs were told to use passwords on their login accounts. Most...
No perfect resistors

Nov 30, 2010 GMT

 Recently I was watching a video that Christopher “Monty” Montgomery, the founder of the Xiph.org project had produced on audio and video formats. They did a good job on the video, putting it out in both WebM format and Ogg format, with subtitles in English, French, German, Portuguese (Brazil) and Russian. They even include the SRT files so other subtitle translations could be done. About position 7:36 on the video, where Monty was describing how "there is no such thing as a perfect transistor, or a perfect inductor or a perfect capacitor" , I burst into laughter. In 1972 I told my college roommate *exactly* *those* *words* while he was studying digital...

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