Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Windows Too Unstable For Anything As Important As An Organ Concert: Debian Day (DebDay) talk in NYC

Jul 31, 2010 GMT

Some people know that I collect automated musical instruments. Player pianos, player organs, nickelodeons, and other mechanisms that use a roll of paper to control the playing of the instrument. This was a natural outcome of my fascination of controlling a piece of hardware with "logic" and "software", and my love of music. I have even developed a talk about how Free Software is like a player piano, and have given this talk several times over the course of the years, complete with illustrations and music played from my player piano and player reed organ collection. Many years ago I joined the Automatic Musical Instrument Collector's Association (AMICA) and I...
Help Needed: Survey of home automation needs and desires

Jul 28, 2010 GMT

A while ago I wrote a blog entry about Project Cauã, a project that could create millions of new, high-tech businesses in Latin American and other countries with dense, urban areas.I also blogged a short time ago about the vertical markets that Project Cauã will be penetrating and asking people if there were any additional target markets that we should consider.We have more or less settled on two target markets for the first two pilots:  Hospitality (small hotels, restaurants, etc.) Home Automation  In this blog entry I will be asking your help to design a survey that will determine the requirements for home automation that Project Cauã should deliver in V1.0.From...
Systems Administrator Appreciation Day: Friday, July 30th

Jul 28, 2010 GMT

 One of my Brazilian brothers, Dennis Jensen, sent me email reminding me that the last Friday of every July is System Administrator Appreciation Day, where we should show our appreciation to those hard-working system administrators that keep our systems going. In my early years of working with computers my connection with these people was limited to handing in a stack of punched cards through a window and praying that I did not hear them being dropped on the other side of the wall. Sometimes I even got my card file back along with my printout. Other times I was not so lucky. When I graduated from the university and went to work at Aetna Life and Casualty in Hartford,...
35 Dollar Indian Pad? Go Indians, Go!

Jul 28, 2010 GMT

 By now you probably have heard about the “pad” computer designed in India that is being touted as costing thirty-five U.S. Dollars to manufacture. While there is very little in the way of technical details about it, some information has been published that says it consists of: An ARM9 Architecture Processor from Freescale (I.MX233): 5 USD  Memory: 3 USD  WiFi b/g: 4 USD  Other “discrete” components: 3 USD  Battery: 5 USD  7” 800x480 resistive touch screen: 15 USD  for a total bill of materials: 35 USD, and rumors that in the future this will drop to 20 USD and even 10 USD. The system is “Linux based”, but does not say if it is...
Taiwan Motherboards - NOT!

Jul 20, 2010 GMT

I was visiting a friend of mine, Dennis Jensen, while I was in Florianopolis, Brazil. During my visit I started telling Dennis about the period of 1975 to 1978 when some people were building computers from kits by soldering integrated circuits with hand soldering irons to the printed circuit boards. Many of my computer friends built these types of kits, including me.I remember one kit in particular, purchased by my supervisor at Aetna Life and Casualty, where the directions on how to assemble the system often did not match the circuit diagram, and neither matched the holes in the printed circuit board. This led to some late-night head-banging, trying to figure out which of the three...

Jul 12, 2010 GMT

 Last month I briefly blogged about my love affair with old automated musical instruments such as the player piano, player reed organ, nickelodeon, wind-up phonographs and my long association with the Automatic Musical Instrument Collector's Association (AMICA). June, 2008 was the first time that I was able to physically attend a local chapter of the AMICA, and I enjoyed meeting other people who collected and played these ancient instruments. One of the downsides of collecting the older paper-driven instruments is that in a lot of cases the paper, sometimes made with an acid-based wash, is deteriorating and some of the members are trying desperately to preserve this old music by...
Conferences for July, 2010: FOSSED, FISL and Linux Symposium

Jul 01, 2010 GMT

 July has two conferences where I will be presenting, but first I will remind people that the Ohio Linux Fest has extended their call for papers another week to July 7th. Since I have already submitted the abstracts for my Ohio Linux talks, on July 6th I will be leaving for the FOSSED conference in Bethel, Maine on July 7th to 9th. My good friend David Trask has been putting on this conference for eight years now, and has helped hundreds of school teachers learn the benefits of FOSS for teaching. Lately some of these same teachers have come back and are sharing what they know. Very practical courses in networking, use of Moodle, LTSP systems and more. I will be teaching two...
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