A DragonFly laptop for me

I’m saving up for one of those Acer c720p Chromebooks that people seem to be enjoying.  If you have enjoyed the Digest for a long time and want to help, please do. Of course it’s to run DragonFly.

Thanks to the generosity of a bunch of people, I’ll get a C720 and an SSD too.  Thank you all very much, people I have never met but would like to shake the hands of.

Open source classes at RIT

Normally I’d save this for Lazy Reading, but I’m indirectly involved: the Rochester Institute of Technology now has a minor in Open Source and Free Culture.  Here’s the press release.  I taught one of the precursor classes, Humanitarian Free/Open Source Development (essentially open source development methods) last spring.  Steve Jacobs was my advisor years ago and Remy Decausemaker was my (best) student from the HFOSS class.  In any case, the courses are definitely worth it.  (via)

I’m hiring

This has nothing really to do with DragonFly.  I’m hiring a report developer for work.  Here’s the Craigslist job posting.  I consider it very unlikely that there’s a local reader of this blog that also has the right skills, but what the heck.

Wanted: a Mailman patch

One of the most-requested items for the DragonFly mailing list archives is reverse sorting by date.  Mailman, which is what’s being used now for archiving, doesn’t have a ‘native’ way to do that.  Has anyone seen a trick/patch to get that to happen?  I already patch Mailman to get the message date to show in listings.

PRISM, privacy, and what you make yourself

If you’ve been reading the Digest for a while, you’ve seen me talk about the value of hosting or running your own services.  It’s not too much of a surprise in my case; if you are working on an open-source operating system, you want to run it.  It’s good to get the experience, and you can run programs the way you want, instead of picking from whatever vendors happen to sell you.

The PRISM disclosure, which I am going to assume everyone is familiar with at this point, is another facet.  Every time you use another company for your email, your entertainment, your software, and so on, their information on you can be accessed.    This isn’t a problem that can be fixed by going from one webmail provider to another.  You can shop around, but notice that the author in that link effectively throws his or her hands in the air and says, “there’s no way out” by the end of the article.  This is because corporations work as collecting agents for the government, even if they don’t plan to do so.

That sounds drastic, but there’s legal frameworks in every country for governments to require companies to give up data on any person, on request.  It happens.  I’ve seen it myself; I worked for Time Warner for several years, tracking down cable modem user information and handing it over as compelled by law.  I know the lawyers at TW Corporate didn’t like doing it, but they didn’t have a choice.  (I have some horrifying stories about what people would do to themselves and each other.)

Companies are increasingly working to create services to sell, not products to buy.  A service never stops being consumed, so it forms an ongoing revenue stream.  I’m not saying this is bad; I firmly believe that a financial incentive to be paid improves services.  However, as only a consumer, you can end up not owning what you use.  Other people have pointed this out, and I don’t want to sound like a frothing crazy person… but it is relevant, though not necessarily as catastrophic as some people pronounce.

What I’m working towards here is a reminder that you should run your own software, and running it on DragonFly is the best way.  (Or some other operating system, I guess.  If you have to.)  Instead of trying to figure out what the least-bad commercial option can be, run it yourself.  Good for privacy, good for learning.  I know that’s not an option for everyone; fighting with Sendmail (for instance) is not an activity that many people pick voluntarily.  But, if you’ve been thinking of setting up a replacement for Google Reader, or hosting your own mail, or own blog, etc… there’s never a better time than now.

(Follow all those links for some good information; consider it an early Lazy Reading post)

 

RSS reader recommendations

Google Reader, which is what I use to track as much BSD stuff as possible, is being retired as of July 1.  I need a new RSS reader – any recommendations?  Something that I can access from multiple places (i.e. online app) is best.

Hey, NYC readers

This has nothing directly to do with DragonFly, other than this is a result from my trip to NYCBSDCon last year…  I know I have a few New York City readers.  I’m possibly making a short trip to NYC soon; any advice on where to stay/visit?

An education in Python and maybe OLPC

This is mostly unrelated to DragonFly: I need to get more Python experience in the next few months, mostly around the OLPC project.  I’ve only messed with Python when needed to get an existing script running, etc.  Any Python users that can point me at a good learning resource?

Lazy Reading for 2012/09/02

I hope you like your links eclectic this week.

  • DragonFly is a popular project name, but this is unrelated to DragonFly BSD.
  • Russian Tea HOWTO.  I know there’s at least a few vigorous tea-drinkers in DragonFly other than me.  The tl;dr version is “make a syrup and dilute”, but it’s more enjoyable to get into the paperphanalia of it all.
  • I don’t know what Xombrero is, but someone submitted patches for it to build on DragonFly.  What a nice thing to do!
  • A Generation Lost in the Bazaar, by Poul-Henning Kamp.  Even if you don’t agree with his cathedral vs. bazaar generalizations, this description sums up a problem well: “Sam Leffler’s graphics/libtiff is one of the 122 packages on the road to www/firefox, yet the resulting Firefox browser does not render TIFF images.”  (via)
  • Fourmilab.ch, the site of John Walker, co-author of AutoCAD.  The site looks like something from the late 90s but is surprisingly modern.  The Unix Utilities section has some interesting programs.  I’d link to it directly, but it’s a framed page on the site.  (See what I meant about “90s”?)
  • Beyond lies the wub: a history of dubstep.  You may or may not be interested in the music, but I like these long-form articles coming from the Verge.
  • 150 Troma films for free on YouTube.  (via)  The most famous one isn’t free, but it’s there.
  • Oh my goodness, the “thagomizer” is a real thing.
  • Racing modified electric kid vehicles.  I had a coworker who put a wheelchair battery into his daughter’s Barbie car.  He said it doubled the speed and made it able to drive on two wheels.  (via)

Your unrelated link of the week:  Flux Machine.  Be patient; the images are animated to good effect.

Lazy Reading for 2012/08/19

I think I’ve made it through my backlog of things to post.  For no apparent reason, I ended up with a whole bunch of ‘this vs. that’ links this week.

Your unrelated link of the week: Taipan!  I played this on the Apple ][ and loved it.  The buy-low-sell-high game is an old genre that hasn’t been used in newer games in the same fashion as roguelikes or sidescrollers.  The only recent equivalents I can think of are Drug Wars and maaaaybe Eve Online.

Lazy Reading for 2012/08/05

I seem to include a vi/vim tip every week.  It’s not on purpose, or at least it wasn’t until now.

Your unrelated link of the week: a thorough investigation of the history of the ‘long s’ character, via.  If that’s too cerebral for you, try this video of a man making turkeys gobble, which made me laugh and laugh.

Lazy Reading for 2011/11/20

Hey, the date’s sorta palindromic!  Sorta.

  • “Bundled, Buried and Behind Closed Doors” – a video description of the physical parts of the Internet.  Remember when MAE-East or MAE-West would have a bad day and half the Internet felt it?  Really, half.  I don’t think I’m exaggerating. (via)
  • Google has a verbatim search mode now, for those of you who regret the loss of ‘+’ as a required search term designator.  (via and also sort of via)  There’s always alternatives.
  • The expr program is a real piece of crap.”  Laser-focused complaining about a small program that’s had 4 decades to improve, and hasn’t.
  • Mechanics for Pure Aesthetics”  The videos are interesting, and I’m linking to this because so much of what I post here and deal with is focused computer work.  Everything is a tool, with a purpose, and a result that you expect.  This idea of machinery or even software having a purpose other than result generation is underexplored.  There’s lots of tools to create art, but there’s little that is art itself.  Even with that general lack, we still get excited when the edge of some sort of aesthetic appeal nudges its way into the materials we use.  You could argue that Apple’s success (for instance) comes from being the one company that consistently thinks about what a product is, instead of what it does.
  • If you use fastcgi, you may need the patch that this blog post talks about.  Also, apache-mpm-prefork is the better choice for Apache on DragonFly.
  • DragonFly mug shot

Your random comic link of the day: Calamity of Challenge.  Also here.  And here.  If this artist’s way of drawing grabs you like it grabs me, he has pages and commissions for sale.

Potential job available

A position opened up for a junior systems administrator at my workplace.  You have to be willing to live near Rochester, NY, administrate a mix of Windows and unixy machines, do desktop support, and network management.  (e.g. everything possible)  The work environment is neat, informal, and somewhat adverse.  I’ll have a job description soon, I hope.