News

FSDaily.com

by Margaret Wilson on

fsdailyJust a few minutes ago I was looking through statsistics as to where my site traffic comes from and noticed a new website, FSDaily.com, on the list. I had never heard of this site, even with all of my research into free and open-source software. The name stands for Free Software Daily and the site is essentially a user-contributed community like that found on on Digg, but with a focus on free software. My Amarok review was posted on the site and I was very impressed with how popular it appeared to be with the FSDaily community. FSDaily also uses the Pligg Content Management System, which I have been considering for the upcoming redesign of Shift+Backspace.

I was so impressed, not just with the content, but also the overall design of the site so I decided to email the creators in praise of their work and what they appear to be contributing to the free and open-source community. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any contact information, although I do believe I added one of the creators as a friend. Hopefully one of the creators will find this article and as I would love to learn more about FSDaily, its purpose and perhaps grab an interview.

I encourage anyone interested in free and open-source software to bookmark FSDaily.com, visit often and add me as a friend (username: antiprophet).

Keep up the great work FSDaily,

Cole

(Mis)adventures

by Margaret Wilson on

Yesterday afternoon I realized it was time for me to change my main Linux distribution in hopes of learning more about a different offering. At the time I was using Ubuntu Feisty Fawn (7.04) and was considering 2 other flavours of the Ubuntu code-base:

  • Kubuntu (KDE version of Ubuntu 7.04)
  • LinuxMint 3 Cassandra (based on Ubuntu 7.04)

As with any Linux distribution it is possible to make it whatever you want, as interface and software packages. Before installing I did to create two rules to ensure that I was choosing a sustainable flavour. After default installation (little, if no tweaking necessary) the distribution had to:

  • run natively in 1680×1050 resolution
  • run Beryl with no extra configuration of xorg.conf

Yes, both of these requirements involve my video card, but that is because I use an ATI X800XL and Linux has always had poor support for ATI vide cards (mostly due to ATI not supporting the open-source community; however, it looks like that will be changing shortly). Before Ubuntu Feisty Fawn, I was never able to configure these video drivers properly and easily spent many days trying to get acceleration to function. This is why I want them to work out-of-the-box.

KubuntuKubuntu 7.04. I decided to give Kubuntu a shot because I have always found myself using GNOME and thought it would be nice to give a go to the KDE desktop environment. I popped in the LiveCD and was immediately concerned about driver issues as my screen was at a low resolution of 1024×768. I continued on as I thought this may just be due to the use of the LiveCD and that after installation everything would be great. I was wrong. The resolution remained low, but I thought it should be working so I tinkered for a half hour and managed to get the resolution back to 1680×1050.

After that, I installed Beryl and gave it a run. Oh, it is not working! More issues with my video card configuration. I really wanted to give Kubuntu a shot as one of my friends swears by it, so I thought I would at least play around (without the goodness of Beryl). I was not as impressed as I had thought I would be. The menu seemed so cluttered with application after application starting with “K” (I realize why they do this) and installing .deb files was not nearly as clear as when using GNOME. I gave Kubuntu the axe (for now) and moved on to LinuxMint.

LinuxMintLinuxMint 3 Cassandra. LinuxMint is known for being a complete “out-of-the-box” distribution of Ubuntu. What do I mean by this? While Ubuntu is lean on the applications included (with such a large user base this is necessary), LinuxMint focuses on users that do not want to install additional, and common, applications after loading the operating system on their computer. Such software includes Java, Amarok, Pidgin, Azureus, Envy, Beryl, and the list goes on. Mint also uses the SLAB menu by default, which I find is particularly useful. So, LinuxMint is now installed and the same video issues exist. Once again I was able to get back the 1680×1050 resolution, but Beryl refused to work.

At this point I was frustrated, not at these wonderful distributions, but at the fact I am using an ATI video card. Ubuntu, Kubuntu, and LinuxMint all work great on my laptop at native resolution with Beryl working like a charm, even with the old, but Nvidia, video card. I realized it was time for me to return to Ubuntu and the commonalities provided by the GNOME environment and a functioning Beryl. But wait! Those Ubuntu discs I received in the mail have the exact problem Kubuntu and LinuxMint had with the video card. I kept trying to figure out why Feisty was working so well before without any video card configuration needed, then it hit me. I had always been installing the release candidate of Ubuntu Feisty Fawn.

I returned to my RC version of Ubuntu (which easily updates to the full-release edition) and I was able to have Beryl working as easily I had hoped it would be with Kubuntu and LinuxMint. Now, all I have to do is wait for AMD/ATI to release some open-source drivers that actually work or wait for Ubuntu to return to whatever driver they used in their release candidate of Feisty Fawn.

There you have it! Let me finish by saying this is by no means a review of these 2 other distributions, but a tale of my misadventures with my video card. I definitely believe that LinuxMint will have much success in the future because of the “bundle” they offer to users.

Cole

Once again, RSS brings me good things in the morning! Todays feed included an article mentioning that Google’s Gmail has increased allowable attachment size from 10MB to 20MB. On the Gmail help site it is officially stated as:

With Gmail, you can send and receive messages up to 20 megabytes (MB) in size. However, the precise amount allowable will depend on the attachment.

Many readers have probably noticed the “the precise amount allowable will depend on the attachment” and are not quite sure what that means. For this reason I quickly jumped into Google Groups in search of an answer. This is the one I found and it makes a lot of sense:

When you add an attachment, the size of a file may increase because
transport encodings are automatically added. (Transport encodings are
the information that allows your message to be safely sent and read.)

The 10MB increase is very welcomed, but I will take th greedy route and say I wished it was increased to around 50MB. I have been treating Gmail as a safe storage place for many of my documents just in case of disaster (that is to my computer, my backup DVDs and my portable hard drive all at once). Hopefully Google is noticing this trend with users and will eventually offer a Google Storage allowing users a simple interface to upload any sized file with a maximum storage capacity of that remaining with the Google account (I would gladly pay monthly for 10GB in Google Storage). Think about it Google!

Embracing the Google,

Cole

09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

Posting this set of hexadecimal numbers may very well get Shift+Backspace in trouble. For those of you who do not know what this number represents it is a key that can be used to break the DRM (digital rights management) on HD-DVD’s. On May 1st 2007 bloggers began posting this number everywhere they possibly could including the creation of songs and videos posted on sites such as YouTube.

Now, the MPAA and has been sending out cease and desist orders and launching lawsuits to thousands of websites that have published this number. Do you recall when DVD was cracked? HD-DVD creators always thought their DRM was 100% uncrackable. Wow, how pompous can you get? When are these massive companies going to realize that DRM is not the solution to piracy? A few weeks ago Apple announced that the iTunes music store was going to be offering DRM-free songs for download. The amount of positive press this garnered was insane and I am sure that Apple is still selling more songs than ever before.

Leaving DRM behind, something in todays business world really bothers me. It seems as though so many companies are trying to fight against piracy and open-sourcedness. Of course piracy is affecting media sales but as long as we see musicians and actors with everything they could ever imaging it will continue (not to mention these new TV shows about record/television/movie executives children who have nothing else better to do). It is time that these media-giants realize that world is changing, there is still billions of dollars to be made but adjustments are necessary.

Okay, this turned into an unorganized rant really quickly. I will write more on these topics in the future. I am not spreading this code because I have used it (or will ever use it) but because I feel that this is a step in finally convincing the corporate world that for every intelligent person they employ there are a thousand who are smarter.

Be sure to read more on the HD-DVD crack, if you search for that string of numbers you will find endless articles regarding it and the massive MPAA takedown-attempts.

Ranted out,

Cole

Dell + Ubuntu

by Margaret Wilson on

DellIt’s official! Dell has picked Ubuntu 7.04 as their Linux distribution of choice for offering an alternative to Windows with select computers. It appears as though Ubuntu will be offered and supported by Dell on a few offerings including both desktops and laptops. A Dell spokesman told CRNtech:

“We are finalizing some final details and will provide an update in the coming weeks as to which products will be available. We will offer Ubuntu 7.04 on select Dell consumer products with a range of configuration options.”

You can read the full article here. DesktopLinux.com also posted an article with speculation regarding the specific models that will initially have the Ubuntu option. DesktopLinux followed this with another article about Dell’s move to offering Ubuntu means to the Linux community.

“Dell also is saying something else that’s equally important about the desktopLinux Logo world. It’s saying, for the first time in more than a decade, that standard x86 PC users have a choice. For the first time since OS/2 mattered, users have a choice again. No more are users stuck with Windows. No more are they forced to pay the Microsoft tax.

Even users who never intend on using Linux should be glad to see Microsoft’s iron hand finally lifted, albeit just an inch. Just as the arrival of Firefox forced Microsoft to improve Internet Explorer, the arrival of Linux on a mainstream desktop will force Microsoft to make significant, rather than cosmetic, improvements to its own operating systems.

This isn’t just a big day for desktop Linux users. This is a red-letter day for all PC users.”

-Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols of DesktopLinux.com

It makes me happy to see that Linux advocates are not trying to push Linux operating systems on users but are pointing out the benefits competition has on existing (specifically Microsoft) products. As the Linux and open-source software market share grows, classical software companies will need to adapt to, embrace and flat-out accept the demands of the consumer.

The revolution has begun!!

Cole

Apple Keynote @ NAB07

by Margaret Wilson on

applesThe Apple keynote at the National Association of Broadcasters is starting at 2pm EST. Apple recently launched their 8-core MacPro’s as well as announcing that the updated operated system, Leopard, will be delayed until the fall, everyone seems to be unsure what they will be announcing today. Speculation has it that it will be an updated version of the Apple Final Cut Studio. Of course, I am hoping for 12″ MacBook Pro’s.

After the keynote I will post an update of what has been announced. For now, visit the Engadget live-coverage. How am I suppose to watch the Wings game, Jays game and stay updated on Apple!!

UPDATE:

All of the updates today really only affect studio production professionals, however, the software and hardware announced sound sweet. First off is Final Cut Server. This software is designed to help manage assets and aid work-flow in organizations where there are many people working concurrently on the same projects. Also, updated versions of Apple’s video and audio editing software are being released. Next up is a piece of hardware called IO-HD, which allows users to edit HD content on their MacBook Pro’s. It’s a pretty sweet looking box but sells for $3495 US (once again, this is all professional equipment and the prices are actually extremely good compared to alternatives).

Even though I will probably never use any of this software, it is all really cool to read about. One thing that came up in the news I was reading is that the new video editing software will allow users to edit video filmed in full 4K and 2540p from the RED ONE camera. I have been following the news on RED ONE since the announcement of it quite a while ago. It comes from the RED Digital Cinema company which was founded by Jim Jannard (founder of Oakley). I urge you to check out this camera here.

2ND UPDATE:

Well, the Apple Store website just came back online. I have been reading the page on Final Cut Studio 2 and even though I do not know what I would use it for I want it! Check it out here.

Cole

I have a sneaky suspicion most of you have noticed a little orange logo in the address bar when you visit certain websites. Go ahead, look. Not sure where to look? Here you go:

RSS Firefox

Have you ever clicked on the logo? Go ahead, click. Whoa, eh? Takes all of the articles from a website and organizes them into a nice format.

RSS is an acronym for Really Simple Syndication. The purpose of using RSS is so that users can aggregate their favourite article/post-based sites. There are many different pieces of software and login-based websites to combine all of the “feeds”. I have not tried many of these and ever since trying Google Reader I doubt I will ever consider any others.

Google Reader

There really is not much to using RSS. If you are looking for a reader, I highly recommend Google Reader as you can access your feeds wherever you go.

The purpose of this article was to introduce the basic goal of RSS. I hope that those of you who have never tried this will test it out. As always, if you have any questions please email me at !

Cole