Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Gandhi: Would he have been a Free Software advocate?

May 30, 2010 GMT

 I watched a movie on Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi last night and was once again impressed by this singular man and his life. I also found a couple of parallels to Free Software. The first parallel was when Gandhi told the people to spin their own thread, weave their own cloth and make their own clothes. He did this for several reasons. First of all, by purchasing the finished clothes the people of India were supporting the British manufacturers. Secondly, by not making the thread, cloth and clothes inside their own country, the people of India were giving up local jobs. Third, the people of India had become needlessly dependent on the British for...
Small and Fast Wins

May 29, 2010 GMT

 I recently came back from Ghana, Africa after speaking at the Idlelo conference there. Ghana is one of those “emerging economies” that I sometimes discuss, with people trying desperately to get ahead and utilizing Free Software to get there. Ghana has more problems than just trying to decide whether they should use Free Software. The Internet backbone to their country (and surrounding countries) is inadequate for the number of people it serves, and the prices for the Internet is pretty daunting, so downloading a copy of any of the distributions is both expensive and slow. Fortunately I was able to get my friends at Red Hat to sponsor about 500 Fedora CDs for the...
maddog's Keynote for the Idlelo 4 conference in Accra, Ghana

May 23, 2010 GMT

I was fortunate enough to do a keynote at for the Idlelo 4 conference in Accra, Ghana, right before their Minister of IT gave his speech. Here is the text of my speech: Mr. Minister, Honorable and honored guests.   It is a great pleasure and honor to address you today, and particularly right before the Minister.   I was asked to bring a small present for the Minister, as is customary. I had to think long and hard about this, for I am not a wealthy man, and I wondered what I could give the Minister of a country like Ghana, a nation of over 23 million people, that he could possibly value.   I am not a king, so I could not bring gold, frankincense and...

May 16, 2010 GMT

 As you might have guessed, I have a lot of Linux-based T-shirts....a LOT of them. And I enjoy wearing those T-shirts. From time to time wearing the image of Tux encourages strangers who would normally never say anything to strike up a conversation. The number of security people at the airport that know about Linux and Free Software, for instance, is fairly amazing. On the other hand, I have fewer outer garments that have Tux or “Linux” on them, and often Tux is not visible as I travel. Another problem I have with traveling is that my luggage style is fairly common, and straining to see whether it is my bag coming down the conveyor can be annoying. Regular luggage tags...
The customer is (almost) always right

May 01, 2010 GMT

There is the old adage that “customers are always right”, and while this is true 99.999% of the time, I have run into at least one situation where the customer was wrong.....It was in the late 1980s, and I was working for Digital Equipment Corporation. We had gone to a DECUS convention, where users of DEC's equipment would go to learn more about using these wonderful machines.We had produced a version of Unix called Ultrix for our PDP-11 line of computers, and several releases of this had already been shipped, proving itself to be a solid implementation of Unix.At the event we had a reception, with finger food, beer and wine and I was standing there, munching some chicken wings and...
A little knowledge is dangerous

Apr 30, 2010 GMT

 From time to time I advocate that every programmer learn at least one assembler language. Not that I would ever advocate writing in assembler language when a higher-level language would do, but because assembler allows you to see how the machine really works, and can help you understand other topics such as operating system architecture and compiler design. In fact, I advocate that programmers learn a little bit about digital logic and how digital gates such as AND and OR gates combine to create registers, memory and other computer structures.Many years ago I started work for Aetna Life and Casualty as a young programmer. One of the other programmers had written a program that...
Project Cauã: Vertical Markets: Help needed

Apr 30, 2010 GMT

 A couple of months ago I mentioned Project Cauã in my column in LinuxProMagazine. Without repeating the whole article here, Project Cauã's goals are to create large numbers of private sector, entrepreneurial jobs as the owner and administrator of thin client/server systems and to make computing easier for end users of all types. Project Cauã would do this by having a trained, licensed, and bonded person taking care of the end-user systems as their business. In a large company systems administrators take care of the systems, integrate new software, do backups, take care of viruses and SPAM. Many times in small businesses and in homes these tasks are either not done at all, or...
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