Content from 2007-07

Music and Movies
posted on 2007-07-31 15:14:07
So, I'm thinking about blowing away 15,000 mp3s. What's that? Heresy you say? Why would I after having amassed such a massive music library blow most of it away? Well, somewhat predictably I just don't listen to all 17,300 some songs too often. There are about 2,500 songs that I really listen to and those have been loaded on my brand spanking new Creative Zen player. So, do I blow the rest away and free up 60 or 70 GBs of space? It seems prudent to me. We'll see. I'm not exactly running out of space but it's a consideration.

Additionally, I should probably watch a few Google videos later. They might prove interesting. I already enjoyed the first two.
Linus Torvalds on Git
OSS Speaker Series: The State of the Linux Kernel
Building a LAMP Stack for the Life Sciences
7 Ways to Ruin a Technological Revolution
Signals, Truth, and Design
Away with Applications: The Death of the Desktop
Everything is Miscellaneous
A New Way to look at Networking
Blog Changes and Folk Implosion
posted on 2007-07-30 19:35:44
Okay, I'd like to start by saying that Folk Implosion's One Part Lullaby is such a good album and I'd really forgotten that.

That being said, I'm just notifying readers not to expect the Friday Linux Lessons anymore. I've sort of...missed posting them the last two weeks due to crazy events but I've also sort of run out of steam.

Consider yourself notified. If you want me to write a Linux Lesson or help you with computer questions please tell me. This even extends to Windows and Mac users and covers questions like "Brit, how do you manage to pirate everything ever?" Just ask and I'll be more than happy to answer.

Fridays are now Q&A days. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays may or may not see changes soon. I'll keep you posted.
Eleventh Monday Update
posted on 2007-07-30 13:14:10
Summer: Week 10: Finished
Call Sonya
Apple Interview at Noon
Call SPSU about housing with Burke
Order Justin's Birthday Present
Figure out what happened to my paycheck
Import Livejournal into new Blog

Unexpected: Get MP3 player, begin standard summer music library overhaul.

Summer: Week 11: Schedule
Finish Music work on Zen Vision MP3 Player
Read Rebel Code or Java Illuminated
Acquisition Laptop. Load Ubuntu Gutsy Alpha 3.
Read More
Work on Laptop. Start Java Programming?
See Rick at Noon

News for 7/30/07:
ReactOS has released 0.3.3 RC1 and are seeking testers.
The WINE guys have just released 0.9.42.
Some preliminary work on getting the "Free Java" Cacao JVM to run on OpenMoko has been done.
Microsoft has submitted their "Shared Source" license to OSI for review in an effort to try to get in on the Open Source game. Naturally, some debate and differing views have emerged. We'll see what happens.
Scientists at Berkeley have managed to coerce nanostructures into self-assembling.
Thin Film Solar has had a breakthrough making it commercially viable.
Finally, a number of former Xerox PARC researchers are trying to be first to market with a Natural Language Search Engine.
Help me, Community! Thoughts, questions, comments?
posted on 2007-07-27 16:58:22
Inspired by:

Moglen and O'Reilly at OSCON are coming from very different positions. Certainly Moglen is focused on his efforts on the GPLv3 granting Open Source another 10 years of safety with which they can acquire more permanent safety through public policy and patent reform. Moglen's accusations of Tim O'Reilly and the Open Source movement as being Web 2.0 blathering profiteers at this point is perhaps uncalled for but points towards an interesting difference. We might call what Moglen and Stallman are after a right to computation. They think people should be able to compute whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want, however they want. This doesn't mean they don't believe in strong encryption on data. This doesn't mean they don't believe in money in software. This means they think there's no reason that the software you use to manipulate your data should be out of your control and that it should be available to you from any computer at any time. O'Reilly et al see no reason that Open Source Software doesn't meet those requirements and are interested in the opportunities that really are inherent in web services. They see that as the next space to really advance the state of computing and user rights. "Your data, your software, anywhere" seems to be the idea.

The difference here is really that Moglen and Stallman are measuring progress in legal terms while the Open Source Movement is measuring progress in market terms. As Lessig said, Law is Code but intellectual property law is different the world over...and is nigh impossible to enforce with the advent of digitization and the web anyway. Thought has broken loose. The Free Software camp is deeply aware of the fact that they have created a new political form based around a new concept of property rights. That new political form has as it's goal empowering communities by lowering the barriers to contribution. This has led to a method of production more efficient than preceding methods which has caught the attention of industry and ascended to the world stage. Open Source is that method of production, that method of organization. But Open Source as a meme was designed to keep politics out of the discussion because the term "Free Software" wasn't selling well to corporations. By eliminating the communist-sounding rhetoric the Open Source meme has done much better in the corporate space. Centrally though we must keep in mind that Open Source succeeds because it lowers the barriers to contribution and fosters community. It increases the benefit for everyone involved. This is what Moglen is trying to remind us. And it is certainly important that we begin cementing some of these norms and protecting some unprotected aspects of the maturing "Free/Open" political model through public policy and reform. The legal codes must be prepared to defend us as well as the establishment they are presently geared toward.

Licenses are only a small part of this. It is thankful that Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) has grown important enough that industry leaders such as Google, IBM, Sun, Intel, etc are contributing to it and will defend it (legally and politically) from attack. It is not enough. The Open Source movement is less concerned with how to defend and advance the sociopolitical status of our model than they are with observing it's market effects. It has opened up new avenues in terms of how to work and the software industry is busy doing what it has always done, trying to figure out how to capitalize on improved methods. Though they may be Improved Methods for Achieving Deteriorated Ends. In America though we tend to measure progress through the market and that is not entirely misguided. As in Cass Sunstein's Infotopia the market has historically proven an excellent way to aggregate information. But it is being shown up by more decentralized methodologies that have arisen in the Information Age. Valuing Knowledge is a traditionally hard problem but it grows more important as our assets lean more and more towards intellectual property and further and further from capital invested and factories and so forth.

It may be acceptable for Moglen to serve as a shock to the Open Source ecosystem through venting at OSCON in O'Reilly's general direction, not that I believe his attacks were meant to be personal on anyone in the Open Source community. In fact, if anything I would characterize Moglen's acts as public lament. But while it may be appropriate for him to try to invigorate those at OSCON I am not sure that it makes sense for him to try to invigorate those at IBM. Perhaps Ubuntu or Red Hat but even this I'm not convinced of. At some point, IBM decided the Eclipse code it had invested $40 million dollars into would be more valuable if they gave it away for free. Why? Because that meant they got free additional developers to work on the project. What is our product now? It's not software, it's not knowledge, it's not collaboration. Our product is a community. We finally stepped beyond knowledge and material goods to deliver the asset of the individual. Our product is our people. That's the philosophy. We're just trying to find ways to improve discussion. Communities are the ones producing things and the more knowledgeable, passionate, interested people/parties we can involve in the discussion, the more valuable things said community can produce.
Summer Reading Update
posted on 2007-07-27 16:57:13
Summer Reading List:

Worldchanging by Alex Steffen
The Wealth of Networks by Yochai Benkler
Infotopia by Cass Sunstein
Code by Lawrence Lessig
The C Programming Language by Kernighan and Pike (Amazon lies. I have the first edition!!!)
Introduction to Computing Systems by Patt and Patel
Sync by Steven Strogatz
Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges
Godel, Escher, and Bach by Douglas Hofstader (Amazon lies again. First edition! [even though it's not as cool as 1st ed. k&p])
Programming the Universe by Seth Lloyd
The Future of Ideas by Lawrence Lessig
The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil
Rebel Code by Glen Moody

Just for Fun by Linus Torvalds and David Diamond
Cradle to Cradle by Braungart and McDonough
Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham
The Mutt by Rodney Mullen
Identity by Milan Kundera
Emergence by Steven Johnson

Stuff Partially Read This Summer:
The Future Of Ideas
Programming the Universe
Rebel Code
Collected Fictions
Introduction to Computing Systems

Stuff Partially Read Prior To Summer:
Godel, Escher, and Bach
The C Programming Language
The Singularity Is Near
The Wealth of Networks
Tenth Thursday Literary Lines
posted on 2007-07-27 16:56:35
Thursday Literary Lines
Today's piece is from the Neruda book that arrived while I was at the beach. It is titled Ars Poetica.

Between shadow and space, between trimmings and damsels,
Endowed with a singular heart and sorrowful dreams,
Precipitously pallid, withered in the brow
And with a furious widower's mourning for each day of life,
Ah, for each invisible water that I drink somnolently
And from every sound that I welcome trembling,
I have the same absent thirst and the same cold fever,
A nascent ear, an indirect anguish,
As if thieves or ghosts were coming,
And in a shell or fixed and profound expanse,
Like a humiliated waiter, like a slightly raucous bell,
Like an old mirror, like the smell of a solitary house
Where the guests come in at night wildly drunk,
And there is a smell of clothes thrown on the floor, and an absence of flowers-
Possibly in another even less melancholy way-
But the truth is that suddenly the wind that lashes my chest,
The nights of infinite substance fallen in my bedroom,
The noise of a day that burns with sacrifice,
Ask me mournfully what prophecy there is in me,
And there is a swarm of objects that call without being answered,
And a ceaseless movement, and a bewildered man.
Fall Schedule
posted on 2007-07-27 16:52:16
SPSU Schedule
Intro to Computing Disciplines - CSE 1002 - 001 - 03:00 pm - 03:50 pm MW J-ATRIUM BLDG 217
Prog and Problem Solving I - CSE 1301 - 002 - 1:30 pm - 2:45 pm TR J-ATRIUM BLDG 217
Prog and Problem Solving I - CSE 1301 - 053 - 03:00 pm - 04:40 pm T J-ATRIUM BLDG 251
C Programming - CS 2123 - 002 - 07:30 pm - 08:45 pm TR J-ATRIUM BLDG 161
Discrete Mathematics - MATH 2345 - 002 - 12:00 pm - 12:50 pm MWF D-CLASSROOM 234

More SPSU details soon to come...
Tenth Wednesday Songs of Summer
posted on 2007-07-25 15:42:35
Spoon - You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb
Notorious B.I.G. - Mo Money Mo Problems
Incubus - Stellar
Aesop Rock - None Shall Pass
Aesop Rock - Catacomb Kids
Double Posting: Activated.
posted on 2007-07-24 17:52:06
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The first steps in getting the new site up have been completed. The content from livejournal has been moved over and my posts now show up both on livejournal and at "" . While work on the site is ongoing the basic functions are up and you should be able to poke around and let me know what you think. I'll keep you posted as new developments arise.
Tenth Tuesday Quotables
posted on 2007-07-24 11:20:34
"I had always assumed that any attempt at my contact with God would be not only presumptuous, but actually contradictory: since, obviously, if I am his creation, then I experience God through the gift of life, and my obligation is to take care of the gift.The giver, presumably, delivered the gift, or sent the gift, or I inherited the gift from him. Present in the gift, the giver remains nevertheless outside of it, beyond my comprehension. To separate the giver from the gift is, perhaps, to diminish the gift. It is this miracle of life and the supreme mystery of being that unites me with my fellow beings; any speculation about the miracle and mystery of the Supreme Being tends to separate me from them. That is how I have looked at it as a boy, and, frankly, I still look at it that way." - Jerzy Kosinski

"My prayer is my exaltation in life's moment; it comes to me moment by moment, always concurrent with the act of life, and it's the sole way in which I acknowledge what's spiritual in my existence. I consciously narrow my life to the acts of my faith in it-acts which are spiritually significant-and I keep setting aside anything which is insignificant, which obstructs my awe of creation. This is my prayer; other prayers are creations of others and I look at them the way I look at religions, books, poems, works of art-they are all manifestations of spiritual life. In my life and for my life, I have chosen one particular form of spiritual worship, and I manifest it as I go along." - Jerzy Kosinski

"I am convinced, and I see it manifested in almost every phase of modern living, from the corporate to the Woodstock ends of the spectrum, from the hard-hat executive to the professional revolutionary, that we are a culture of the denial of the self." - Jerzy Kosinski

"The entrapments of collectivism are overwhelming: TV and radio, which permeate our privacy and destroy the aloneness out of which it becomes possible to learn to build a self; drugs, which smash the mirror of personal identity; the virtual disappearance of creative self-employment, and of professions and opportunities which ask for the use of the self; the terrifying featurelessness of the modern physical environment; the debilitation of the arts; the great gray educational machine; the devaluing and disparaging of the imagination: the "own" things of the eroded self." - Jerzy Kosinski

"He was one of those in our society I call 'Dead Souls'. At best, I find they share situations: they sit and watch films or television or listen to music in a group, thus isolated by a collective medium which permits each of them to escape direct contact with the others." - Jerzy Kosinski

"I think of such fears and wants as obstructions of life-of deprecating the worth of me as a man. To counteract them, I remain grateful for what I have-my life and my awareness of its spectacle-rather than fearful of what might happen, regretful of what I don't have or what pains me. Perception of pain has always contributed to my awareness of myself. Sin is allowing pain-any pain- to damage the sanctity of life, to regress the drama of my spiritual redemption." - Jerzy Kosinski
Tenth Monday Update
posted on 2007-07-23 19:20:00
So, a lot has happened in the past two weeks. Is anyone else simply amazed it's already almost August? WHERE IS SUMMER GOING???

Summer: Week 8 + 9: Finished
Go to SPSU to work more on transfer credits
Call Sonya
Dentist at 3:15
Crash at Chris' house.

Unexpected: Read three books and sizable portions of three others. Saw Sonya 4 times. Racked up crazy amounts of minutes on phone. Skateboarding and Guitar. Find out that Burke might be moving back and would potentially like to live with me. Sweet!

Summer: Week 10: Schedule
Call Sonya
Apple Interview at Noon
Call SPSU about housing with Burke.
Order Justin's Birthday Present
Figure out what happened to my paycheck.
Work on importing Livejournal Entries to wordpress.
Guadec Videos?
Chill. Sonya?

News for 7/16/07 and 7/23/07:
Guadec happened. Hopefully videos will be online soon.
Pyro was announced at Guadec, as was the Online Desktop project. Both of these groups are trying to push things forward. Keep an eye on them.
Njpatel announced a new AWN release and it is pretty. Keep hacking!
Ubuntu Gutsy Tribe 3 was released.
An update has been released by the ReactOS team announcing that 0.3.3 will be dropping soon.
E3 happened and lots of cool games were announced. The burden is on you to research that one though.
Songbird released a new Windows nightly with builds on other OSes soon to follow. Good progress, guys.
PCSX2 announced that new plugins are available which emulate the analog sticks of a PS2 controller with your keyboard. Not the announcement I've been holding my breath for, but interesting.
The ATI 2d driver is set to see a release soon and MPX is also seeing good work.
Compiz Fusion has been relatively quiet the last two weeks because they're gearing up for their website launch. I'll keep my head to the grindstone and keep you all informed.
Someone finally invented the mechanical flying spy. I don't know whether to smile, clap, or laugh.
There's also research into erasing memories of late. Did no one watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind?
I’m Back.
posted on 2007-07-22 00:01:00
I'm back. The beach trip had it's ups and downs but I'm glad to be back and there's plenty that I missed in the computing world that I'm catching up on. I did get a few books read while I was there though and met a skateboarder and a guitarist that were fun to hang out with. I hadn't skated like that in a while. The books read: Emergence by Steven Johnson, The Mutt by Rodney Mullen, Identity by Milan Kundera, and snippets of Jerzy Kosinski's Passing By, Cass Sunstein's Infotopia and Seth Lloyd's Programming the Universe. Yep yep. More soon to come.

Edit at 5:10 PM: I also just acquired the upcoming Aesop Rock album "None Shall Pass". How long have I been home? Two hours. When did this leak? Two days ago. When is it coming out? August. Nice.
Away for a Bit
posted on 2007-07-14 05:39:00
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I'm going away to the beach from this Saturday to the next (7/14-7/21). There will be no posts during that time period...which is sort of tragic because I could be covering GUADEC. But a vacation is more important. I need to remember how important it is to take time off and slow down. So, this should be good. I'll still welcome phone calls as it will be a little quiet where I am. Who knows, I may call you. I'll be down at Sweaty Palms in Grayton Beach, FL for those curious. It should be fun. Look at how easy I've made it to stalk me. Alright. Leave some love. You can begin missing Livejournal entries about music, poetry, and computer junk approximately now.
Ninth Thursday Literary Lines
posted on 2007-07-12 23:53:00
My Neruda hasn't come in the mail yet so you all are stuck with another week of Milosz. This week's poem is titled Nonadaptation.

I was not made to live anywhere except in paradise.
Such, simply, was my genetic inadaptation.
Here on earth every prick of a rose-thorn changed into a wound,.
Whenever the sun hid behind a cloud, I grieved.
I pretended to work like others from morning to evening,
but I was absent, dedicated to invisible countries.
For solace I escaped to city parks, there to observe
and faithfully describe flowers and trees, but they changed,
under my hand, into the gardens of Paradise.
I have not loved a woman with my five senses.
I only wanted from her my sister, from before the banishment.
And I respected religion, for on this earth of pain
it was a funereal and a propitiatory song.
It’s Just Funny
posted on 2007-07-11 21:13:00
I'm sorry but who does this? He's so awesome.
Comic about NP-Completeness
I Have No Idea
posted on 2007-07-11 18:25:00
Looking out on murky skies
I want to sound the bell,
Shout til my throat's gone,
Raise a little hell.
But there's no answer to the call
That will echo back to me
Because only time will tell
So I just have to wait and see.
And I want to be subversive,
Yeah I want to go against the grain,
Strike a few nerves and maybe
Cause a little pain.
But I get the sense that all of
That would simply be in vain,
Like a character on camera
Trying to escape the frame.

And though I don't know
What in days to come
Will still remain,
I'm waiting for it like
The dry earth waits
To greet the rain.

For I don't stand in the road
Looking out upon the fork.
I stand in amber fields of grain
Writing a cartographer's report.
Rather than traversing a garden
Full of forking paths,
I'll travel through the weeds
And meet you in the aftermath.
Ninth Wednesday Songs of Summer
posted on 2007-07-11 16:57:00
Ratatat - Kennedy
Spoon - The Ghost of You Lingers
John Legend - Ordinary People
Spoon - Finer Feelings
The Sea and Cake - Colony Room
Ninth Tuesday Quotables
posted on 2007-07-11 07:25:00
Today's Quotes are on the birth of the internet:

"Most of the great leaps of the computer age have happened despite, rather than because of, intellectual property rights. Before the Internet the proprietary network protocols divided customers, locked them into providers and forced them to exchange much of their data by tape. The power of the network was not unlocked by IPR. It was unlocked by free and open innovation shared amongst all." - Alan Cox

"AT&T's views were once memorably summarized in an exasperated outburst from AT&T's Jack Osterman after a long discussion with Baran. 'First', he said, 'it can't possibly work, and if it did, damned if we are going to allow the creation of a competitor to ourselves." - Lawrence Lessig
Ninth Monday Update
posted on 2007-07-09 17:35:00
Summer: Week 8: Finished
See Ember
Lunch with Eric and Aaron
SPSU Run Around. Figure out credits. (started)

Unexpected: July 4th party w/Sonya, Jess, Brandon, and (temporarily) Eric. Saw Live Free or Die Hard with Ben, Transformers with Jessie, Got Hacker Culture essay draft posted.

Summer: Week 9: Schedule
Go to SPSU to work more on transfer credits
Call Sonya
See Bria when she gets off work at 3
Dentist at 3:15
Trivia Night with Justin and Bria?
Sonya at 4
Beach Trip preparation? Playlists, etc.
Crash at Chris' house.
Movie with Olivia? Good Will Hunting?

News for 7/9/07:
We'll start with something reasonably important first. There has been a Linux Kernel release. Available now at a mirror near you, the Linux Kernel version 2.6.22.
On the Fourth we were lucky to get an update from the ReactOS team. Work appears to be progressing pretty well and 0.3.3 should be out in no time.
That's about it for Open Source actually. I can't help feeling like I'm forgetting something but this is what I've got. All told, I think things are a little quiet since everyone is gearing up for GUADEC!
In a surprising development, was shut down this week after years of happy quasi-legal gray-area Russian operation.
The Microsoft-Novell deal is still not done with it's controversy, though it is very much on the back burner for even most who were initially concerned (aka me) at this point. Here's the latest courtesy of the wonderful Ars Technica.
And there have been some more breakthroughs in Data Storage Density.
A recent study has shown that some amount of noise in telecommunications can actually improve throughput and bandwidth. Shocking.
Finally, I read something awesome the other day about Vertical Farming. Yeah. Read that.
There have been plenty of other awesome blog posts, studies, etc that I've read this week but honestly I'm too lazy to post them. Beg and I'll grab excerpts or see what I can dig up. ;-)
Site Progress
posted on 2007-07-09 02:01:00
This weekend has gone alright. I've caught up on some things I haven't got done in a while. I'm back into reading (which is Lessig at present) and been working on the site a little. There's tons to do. I just hope to have everything up the way I want before my birthday. Anyway, I'm mostly working on stylistic aspects right now and infrastructure (the FTP). Once that's done it's on to moving the old livejournal posts over and moving music onto Redline Radio. Anyway, have a peek folks and let me know how it looks to you. Also, let me know if you can see everything. I don't know how this looks below 1280x1024 resolution.

Also, who thinks this guy's page layout is awesome and I should steal the frontpage design and possibly the about section?
Eighth Friday Linux Lesson
posted on 2007-07-07 01:42:00
Okay. So I was having a really hard time thinking of what to cover this week and ran this command " history | awk '{print $2}' | awk 'BEGIN {FS="|"} {print $1}'|sort|uniq -c | sort -n | tail | sort -nr" on the command line to see what commands I use the most. Long story short that gave me an idea for what to do this week.

This week's concept is that of process management. Process management is what happens when you hit control-alt-delete in Windows to end task on that stupid program that just won't close. The concept is analogous in Linux. Occasionally something gets so out of line that you just have to beat it over the head and tell it to go away. It's also nice to be able to tell what is really eating your system resources.

So, there are two commands for this week. "ps" and "kill". "ps" lists all active processes when run with the -ax arguments like so: "ps -ax". This gives you a nice list of all processes running and their associated pid (process id numbers). Those id numbers can be passed to "kill" to kill the associated process like so: "kill your_idnumber". It's that easy. The process should cough and wheeze and go down pretty quick and that tends to be a good feeling when it's pissed you off enough to kill it in the first place. So, there you are. That's really all I've got for this week. I'm pretty out of it and uninspired of late. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions feel free to pass them along.
Crazy Days
posted on 2007-07-06 06:39:00
I'm not sure if I'm going to post a Linux Lesson tomorrow. I'm pretty sure I will but I almost would rather teach myself some Python Programming and post a few explanations and/or code snippets. We'll see what happens. I've been reading a blog lately by this guy Steve Yegge and it's amazing. Seriously. I just read an article he wrote last March today called, "Moore's Law is Crap" and it was one of the most entertaining, wonderful things I've read in weeks. The guy's just dynamite. His essays\rants swing from hardcore nerd discussions about compilers and syntactic structure to the usefulness of math and being happy with your job. That might not sound like much of a swing but I think it is. Did I mention he works for Google? Anyway, here's a snippet I really liked today.

"I don't know why I blog. I'm just compelled; it just happens whether I like it or not. Don't read too much into my blogs. My opinions change from day to day. The only things I've learned, the only universal constants, are that I don't know very much, and that public whale explosions are just about the funniest thing human beings can experience during our stay on Earth. I don't know why that is, either." - Moore's Law Is Crap by Steve Yegge
Eighth Thursday Literary Lines
posted on 2007-07-05 21:40:00
More Milosz today. I don't know. I'd swear it's good for the soul. I also feel so...illiterate posting Milosz all the time. It's just good for me though. Anyway, I've always loved this one and it seems particularly relevant today. What do you guys think?

Under a starry sky I was taking a walk,
On a ridge overlooking neon cities,
With my companion, the spirit of desolation,
Who was running around and sermonizing,
Saying that I was not necessary, for if not I, then someone else
Would be walking here, trying to understand his age.
Had I died long ago nothing would have changed.
The same stars, cities, and countries
Would have been seen with other eyes.
The world and it's labors would go on as they do.

For Christ's sake, get away from me.
You've tormented me enough, I said.
It's not up to me to judge the calling of men.
And my merits, if any, I won't know anyway.
Hacker Culture and The Road Ahead (poor man’s draft)
posted on 2007-07-04 19:24:00

Of late there has been a growing awareness and concern over the migration of applications from our desktops onto the Internet and the emergence and rise of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) along with a consequent deluge of predictions about the death (or irrelevance) of the desktop. While these discussions are not without merit I feel they share some general flaws in approach which I seek to address here.

One of the hard parts about engaging in such discussions is that they do not constrain themselves to a purely technical realm. Much about the Hacker Culture is, or was, revolutionary due to it's contribution to the larger movements of desktop computing and the internet and this awareness of prior revolutionary behavior coupled with the endless proclamations of revolution in the industry that pass for marketing lead to a confused understanding of what revolutions really did occur, where they have led us, and what might lie on the road ahead.

Thanks to the general muddiness of these still fresh (and some would say ongoing) revolutions, discussions about something as simple as the migration of applications and functionality from a local machine to a networked server bring with them issues of law, technology, history, politics, economics, marketing, sociology, and innovation. The capacity for simple discussion of events as they are has become impossible. Given this state of affairs, I will do my best (through my biases, which are many) to sort through the rabble.

Most responses to the statement that applications are moving from the desktop to the web fall into one of two camps. The first being that the desktop is as important as it's always been and\or that the web isn't significantly infringing on the desktop's importance and functionality. The second response is that there are no open source web services and open source needs to figure out how to compete in this new emerging market. Both are knee jerk reactions, one just comes from a position of invulnerability or incredulity while another comes from a position of fear or paranoia.

Before going any further I'd like to state some of my assumptions and\or biases. First, the desktop is changing. There are some forces undoubtedly at work that change the extent to which our data and applications are local and thus our computer is losing some of it's centrality and being distributed out on "the grid" of the internet. Second, the desktop hasn't changed. This may seem contradictory to the first assumption but I don't think it is.

What I mean essentially by this is that the next paradigm beyond that of the desktop, GUI, keyboard and mouse hasn't arrived yet and until it does things largely will be the same. We will still need an OS to talk to the hardware and software besides a browser to do many things we do, especially given that high speed internet access is not yet available everywhere all the time. Finally, while the next paradigm beyond that of the desktop may presently exist in the wild we cannot distinguish it as the next paradigm until it has already run it's course. We will not know the world has changed until it has.

In terms of the responses to the idea that applications are moving webward, I'd like to start with Perspective A. The person who believes Perspective A thinks that the desktop isn't changing or that it's functionality and importance aren't threatened by the rise of web applications. I'd like to refute this by offering myself as a personal example. I've never used a mail client. Ever. Thunderbird, Outlook, Evolution, iMail, any of it. All my e-mail has always been webmail and even trying to think of e-mail as being an offline phenomena that I have saved locally to look at when I'm offline is an odd and foreign concept. The idea of a mail client is, for me, irrelevant. I think that's enough to show that the desktop is changing.

Now to address Perspective B. The person who believes Perspective B believes that Open Source will lose relevance in a world where net-accessible advertising-sponsored software (gmail) is available if Open Source does not create equivalent software. This is misguided on a number of levels. Not least of which is related to the fact that open source emerged in response to a lack of Richard Stallman's access to printer drivers. The scratch your own itch element of web services is not available. There is no platform to begin copying. There is no central service upon which other services are built besides the backbone of the net itself, which is just Linux Clusters anyway. There isn't a Unix to begin copying.

A lack of a target is no small problem. The initial starting goal of developing a UNIX-like Operating Environment was crucial to open source getting off the ground in a meaningful way, at least as far as Linux is concerned. There is no web equivalent. The problems run deeper than this though and can be drawn out further by remembering the early moniker of free software. Freedom to modify is not a valid goal of a webapp and not only because of the client-server model. Web software doesn't sleep. It's always live and there are always users. This wouldn't be a large problem given the nature of SCMs like bazaar today. Just create a new branch. And yet the notion of a server trying to run multiple versions of a web app or service is simply ludicrous. The notion that Facebook as a platform is a walled garden is not necessarily misguided if applied liberally to other web apps. Freedom of data can be a concern but on the web freedom of code will have to take on a new form. Perhaps this is a problem we should confront.

And whereas the 80s and 90s left hackers free to tinker with little consequence for the majority of the world the extent to which the personal computer has invaded the workings of human civilization make even minor undertakings more serious in influence than the GNU C Compiler was the day it was started. Finally, the entire conversation is too wrapped up in notions of maintaining relevance and influence. Open Source at last has something to lose even if it's legacy is invulnerable. Whatever emerges next will emerge independent of our actions. Hopefully we will see it coming and aid it's rise or even have a hand in it but we cannot act out of fear. Tinkering away like a bunch of crazed kids with legos got us here and it will get us wherever there is too. Even if open source loses the war over code, the inroads made in the war over organizing methods or production are likely to change the face of the society.


tech thoughts (mac\linux, web\desktop, ubiquitous computing\pc). it's really about time i wrote something on open APIs and web\desktop. can open source happen on the web? linus made a replacement for unix. there is no central web app\top\thing to replicate in this fashion.
things to tackle:
hacker culture came from academic underground. tinkerers. web 2.0 came from where?

people think open source should "compete" but with what? the only thing to compete with that even approaches web platform status in the way unix approached workstation platform status is google. how do hackers compete with that exactly? there is no web 2.0 target the way there was a unix OS target. and are all web app vendors now just walled gardens, facebook is aol, etc? that's weird. that doesn't make sense. but really the only unwalled web garden is the browser. and that's on the desktop.

what about the politics of all this? the politics then in the 70s\80s\early 90s and the politics of technology now? it's gone from nobody caring to tons of people. it affects everyone now. we have to have a goal to move into this new space.

open source as a method of production versus open source as tools of production. most of the tools of production are already in existence. the web apps simply apply open source production methodologies to already existing tools of production. the web IS open source. stop yelling about the proprietary web. when we're speaking about open source on the web we can only be worried about one of three things. legal data\property squabbles, the tools themselves (apps), or the methods (open source\social web\web 2.0).

also, modifying services to work on your own server the way we used to modify code on our own systems requires the server infrastructure in the first place which few people have. plus i would assume it contributes to a loss in the network effects of web apps.

how does fear\relevance\influence play into things? are we afraid of microsoft, google, etc? were we then? what are we struggling against? a lot of maneuvering seems to be about inert versus potent forces. microsoft is pretty impotent and google is clearly the next 800-pound gorilla but what is the thing people are afraid of?

finally, there is a difference between the significance of platforms\communities\ecosystems and the things we fear and the next big thing. product life cycles account for something here. the OS isn't a point of competition anymore. it's not a market with billions in it. it's not hot and it's not a point of innovation. it's in the background. even with apple it's 90% background. applications are mostly background too. there are cms and crm and inventory and other business apps and integrated suites that are still relevant but it's not what i'd call a point of innovation.
Eighth Wednesday Songs of Summer
posted on 2007-07-04 18:35:00
Incubus - Are You In
The Sea and Cake - Four Corners
Outkast - Rosa Parks
Jump, Little Children - Too High
Ratatat - Nostrand
Eighth Tuesday Quotables
posted on 2007-07-04 03:44:00
"Meaning and value depend on human mind space and the commitment of time and energy by very smart people to a creative enterprise. And the time, energy, and brain power of smart, creative people are not abundant. These are the things that are scare, and in some sense they become scarcer as the demand for these talents increases in proportion to the amount of abundant computing power available." - Steven Weber

"Let me go out on a limb and suggest that those who see hints of a new class ideology developing around information technology are not necessarily wild-eyed. "Bit-twiddlers" are neither exactly proletariat nor bourgeoisie. They may not own the means of production in the sense that Marx argued, but they certainly do have significantly control over those means, in a more profound way than the term "symbols analysts" or "knowledge workers" captures. As a rough generalization, they value science and technological problem-solving elegance equally at least with profit." - Steven Weber

"Each member of society can have only a small fraction of the knowledge possessed by all, and...each is therefore ignorant of most of the facts on which the working of society rests...civilization rests on the fact that we all benefit from knowledge which we do not possess. And one of the ways in which civilization helps us to overcome that limitation on the extent of individual knowledge is by conquering intelligence, not by the acquisition of more knowledge, but by the utilization of knowledge which is and which remains widely dispersed among individuals." - Friedrich Hayek
Eighth Monday Update
posted on 2007-07-02 15:43:00
Summer: Week 7: Finished
Call Sonya
SPSU Orientation
Ubuntu Gutsy Alpha 2 Install.
Buy Server
Work on Server
Hang out with Justin/Bria

Unexpected: Hard but necessary conversation with Sonya, Good excuse to view office space and subsequent viewing, Actually getting site up.

Summer: Week 8: Schedule
See Ember?
Josh's Birthday Party
Liz's July 4th party.
Lunch with Eric and Aaron at Mellow Mushroom @ 11:45. Hells Yeah!
SPSU run around. Figure out credits. Ew.

News for 7/2/07:
The iPhone happened. Yes, it did. It wouldn't be fair of me to pretend this isn't (at least in my circles) news. I think things are being blown out of proportion and that the iPhone isn't as cool as some other efforts (ahem) but it's news.
OpenMoko finally made a progress update on the announce-list slating the phone to be released in October for $450. Mark me down, please. The more I see and read the more excited I get. This thing is going to be awesome!
Mesa 7.0 finally hit. OpenGL 2.1 here we are. 3.0 here we come!
PCSX2 has also released a bit of an update stating that the upcoming version will prefer a new BIOS dump which allows for more complete emulation. Curious.
Wine version 0.9.40 has been released with lots of DirectX improvements. Keep hammering away!
GPLv3 released. It's impossible to say that's not significant even if it's immediate ramifications are uncertain or minor.
Some really interesting hack work is being done on Banshee. If all pans out it might beat out Rhythmbox and Quod Libet and Songbird as my next Music Player/iTunes replacement/software-thingy.
Some Intel researchers are looking at potential algorithms to add resolution to video in real-time with massively parallel systems.
Biomimicry is back again as we use carbon nanotubes to make substances as sticky as gecko's feet.
In a staggering achievement, scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute have transplanted an entire intact genome from one organism to another. However you want to look at it, the ability to force an organism to change species is a pretty huge achievement on any scale.
Finally, Ohio University Researchers have created some really cool nanofibers. Seriously, this might be one of the more exciting things I read this week.
Progress Report
posted on 2007-07-02 00:11:00
I never thought this would be so much trouble. I'm getting the ftp server up and working more on the site as we speak. It was down when I woke up because of an AT&T service outage in my area and we didn't get internet access (and consequently the site) back up until about 3pm. At any rate, I'm headed for the gym now and will come back to work on it more later. Aside from getting the ftp server up I'm hoping to get ampache installed which would let me stream whatever music I put on the machine out onto the net. It would be an internet jukebox. Yeah! Additionally, there's still lots of content and prettifying left to be done on the general site so my work is cut out for me. Especially if I want to try to migrate all the old livejournal posts on there. *sigh* More later. Wish me luck.

-B is Live!
posted on 2007-07-01 12:17:00
Dear Friends, is finally up. But BE WARNED! It is not yet pretty. At all. In fact, it's a repulsive mess. It is however online and I'll be working on it all day tomorrow so hopefully by nightfall it will look pretty decent.

Stay classy, readers!

Morning View
posted on 2007-07-01 08:45:00
Ladies and Gentlemen,

By dawn their will be something on "". I've been hacking on the server since Friday and spent a good deal of time on it so far.

It's given me it's fair share of trouble, in part because of a poorly supported network chipset and in part because of an esoteric Linux distribution. I purchased a better supported network card in the first case and have switched back to my beloved Ubuntu in the second.

At any rate, the server is on the network downstairs in it's permanent location in our basement. As soon as Ubuntu Server 6.06.1 is done installing I'll ssh into the machine and get back to it.

This has been quite a journey. Stay with me readers. The time is almost here!


PS: Ben, are these paragraph breaks prettier?

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