Archive for August 2012

Is Samsung Copying Apple Again?

I have to ask, do the people who are fans of Apple think that this new device from Samsung is shamelessly copying Apple again? Leave a comment below and tell me what you think.

My Wife’s Thoughts on Linux

Custom Wedding Cake Topper made by Esther Taal:

Right after the start of August, my wife finally had enough of Windows. Her computer crashed, and it was the last straw. I convinced her to try Linux (Ubuntu specifically).

A couple of days ago, I asked her to write me up a small little blurb on what she thought so far. I thought that what she wrote was perfect, so I’m just going to paste let it stand on it’s own merits!

My first impressions of Linux (on my computer)

To start with a little bit of a background, I’ll tell you a little bit about the reasons why Linux has taken up residence on my desktop machine, and what sort of “prior” experience I had with it. I can’t say that I was ever 100% delighted with Windows, and despite the frustrations I’ve experienced with it, Windows has done what I needed and it was there (i.e. it came installed on my computers, ready to go). My games and other applications ran on it. A few things I bought “after market” for my computer, like a TV capture card or somesuch had to be tinkered with a fair bit, but they worked eventually in Windows. It has been this way for me for nearly two decades.

Fast forward to the past 9 months or so. I bought my newest computer when the one before it up and died (in all actuality, the motherboard probably went out, but it was about time for a new one, so why not). It started out that my internet connection would cut out from time to time. That got really irritating after a while, and when my computer died again (with it being less than 6 months old), it was replaced with a new motherboard and all was supposed to be right with the world. Wrong. My internet would still go in and out, and it looked like an issue with the wireless internet adapter. That was, until Mike suggested I try out a Linux bootable CD just for kicks and giggles. And the internet never went out. Shocking.

I’m not afraid of Linux. I know better than to think that Linux is all command line, all intentionally super user-unfriendly, and only designed for computer techy geeks. I mention those preconceived notions because when you mention Linux to someone who has no idea what it is, they just assume that it’s non-graphical and does something really weird. So, again, I’m not afraid of Linux. I’m lazy. I’m too lazy to change off of what was just there and what was working. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, because I had to put a lot of work into making things “go” in Windows, so why would I be afraid of putting in the same amount of work to making things “go” in Linux? I saw my husband with Linux on his machine, and he began playing all of the games that he’d had in Windows. He was starting to sell me.

The breaking point was when my Windows side was not holding a connection to the internet, and it was becoming more of a pain and a time suck to get basic tasks done. Knowing that I wasn’t totally ridding myself of the Windows side, I just said…do it. Mike…do it. Put Linux on. Make it work. So he did. Now here are my perceptions.

Speed: Yeah, there really is no contest. My computer booted Windows pretty quickly (usually), but it boots Linux even faster. I didn’t think that was possible. It loads just about everything just as quickly, if not more so, than Windows. In terms of speed, it also doesn’t seem to slow down when I stress programs out. I’m notorious for having 20-30 different Word/word processing documents open at the same time while grading. Simultaneously having at least a dozen tabs in Chrome going. Throw in a couple of PDFs and maybe a spreadsheet, and that usually slows things down on the Windows side, but I don’t notice a whole lot of slow down on the Linux side.

Programs/Applications: There are a lot of spiffy little applications that go with my Linux side. I think they’re actually a lot easier to get a hold of than something that would be an equivalent in Windows. Little widgets, things for desktop customization and things to make your desktop more streamlined and clean. Honestly, my desktop has never looked so clean (and no, it isn’t because I just haven’t cluttered it up yet!).

OK, now on flip side of things, possible negatives. Ubuntu comes with (I think) Libre office, which has had some quirks (as in, it isn’t Microsoft Office, and although close, it has mangled a few documents, made speakers notes invisible in some presentations, just to name a few). I play a few games, and I know my husband has figured out ways to make them work, those modifications aren’t on my system (yet), and they took a bit of research to figure out. As I said, I play a few games, and rarely, but it could be a bigger problem for those who have a bigger variety of games that they play (that were designed for Windows primarily).

Interface: It doesn’t look like Windows, and there are some differences for those switching over from Windows. Nothing major. There’s no big Start/Windows button. I use alt-tab a lot, and that does work, but a little differently (I actually like the Linux function better). That’s all I’ve got there.

So my initial impression is that it works. That is more than I can say for the Windows side. The speed is faster, the interface is cleaner, and the ability to customize things to look how I want them to look is there and easy to play with. Only downside I see now is that I want my Star Trek Online, The Sims, or Civilization V to run, but no big deal.

Mike asks how it is working for me, and I can see how giddy he is waiting for my response (because he’s converted another…LOL!). I’m not one to get all super excited about my operating systems, but he should know that he’s got a winner on this, even if I’m not going all crazy excited about it on my system now. I’m glad it works. If it makes my husband all happy inside, that’s an added bonus :)

Florian Mueller is no Pamela Jones


Today both Google and Oracle submitted filings to the court detailing individuals that they pay to blog on their side. Google doesn’t pay anybody. Oracle pays Florian Mueller.

Rememberings of Pamela Jones

This whole court case brings me back to the SCO/IBM trial. SCO with grandiose claims, and no facts. It’s just like Oracle’s grandiose claims with no facts. I think that Oracle saw that parallel too, and saw the influence one person had over the SCO/IBM case. Pamela Jones, or pj for short. For those who are unaware, Pamela Jones was the founder of Groklaw. Groklaw covered legal news that was interesting to the free and open source software community. Of particular interest to the free and open source community at the time was the SCO/IBM trial, and Groklaw spent a great deal of time focused on it.

I shouldn’t say “focused”. I should say that Groklaw systematically destroyed any and all claims made by SCO. It really didn’t stand a chance.

History Repeating…. well Not Quite

Oracle must have remembered what happened to SCO at the hands of Groklaw. Rather than try to avoid that, they tried to turn it to their advantage. Oracle thought that if they had their very own Pamela Jones, they could easily take Google down. Enter Florian Mueller.

Mueller wrote some computer books in the 80s, and then did some publishing and distribution. He did some marketing, and founded a game company that went nowhere. After that, he campaigned against European software patents (failed at that too), and then had enough and focused on Soccer. His first post on his blog appeared on Saturday, April 3rd, 2010. Four months and change before Oracle sued Google for various copyright and patent infringement claims.

Mueller took notice of the Oracle/Google case right away, and wrote prolifically about it over the course of the case. Seldom was a positive thing said about Google. In April of 2012, Mueller decided that “transparency” was suddenly important and admitted to being on the payroll at Oracle.

Outcome of the Case

So how did things work out? Well, depends on if you’re a fan of Open Source, or if you’re Florian Mueller. Like almost every other venture Florian Mueller has been involved in, he failed. Oracle was decimated in the courts, and won only a tiny sum based on a Copyright that no one is even sure is going to be valid yet. It could be that Oracle walks away owing Google.

Why Didn’t It Work?

So, why did the this method work so well in the SCO/IBM trial, and work so poorly in the Oracle/Google trial? It’s all about the community.

Pamela Jones wasn’t interested in being known. She didn’t even tell people her name at first (she just went by pj), and there’s still only a handful of people that have met her. Florian Mueller has a big “ABOUT ME” page right on his blog with links to a brief but puffed up profile (“award-winning intellectual property activist-turned-analyst”). The profile even has a nice vanity picture where Florian looks like he’s got enough make-up on to walk the catwalk in Milan.

Pamela Jones was interested in facts. Florian Mueller was interested in lining his own pockets with Oracle’s money, and he was willing to do anything and say anything to do it.

Due to her honesty and integrity, Pamela Jones developed a loyal following in the FOSS community. Due to deep pockets Florian Mueller somehow managed to get an unexpected number of tech journalists and bloggers to believe he knew what he was talking about, at least some of the time. Despite that, he never got the community support that Pamela Jones did.

No, Florian Mueller turned out to just be another blow hard, and Pamela Jones knew he was on Oracle’s payroll long before he admitted as such.

In short (to paraphrase), I knew Pamela Jones Mr. Mueller. Pamela Jones was a friend of mine. Mr. Mueller, you’re no Pamela Jones. (I actually don’t know pj, but I wish I did.)

You’re Just Not Geek Enough

Sometimes I’m amazed at the culture I live in. It’s usually an amazing bunch of people who want to do nothing more than learn as much as they can and help as many people as possible. Every single one of these people is a geek or one kind or another. I’m usually pretty proud of that, but tonight I watched the video embedded, and I couldn’t help but be embarrassed for the community.

Nixie Pixel

If you haven’t seen the embedded video, watch it first. I wouldn’t want to spoil the ending for you. The video was made by a young woman named Nixie Pixel (I’m sure that’s not her real name, but live with it). Recently at a tech convention type thing she experienced some pretty nasty discrimination. People claiming that she’s not really a geek. She doesn’t really do anything for the community. To those saying this I respectfully reply, “Shut your damn mouth.” I watch her show, and I thoroughly enjoy it.

Confessions of a Teenage Pseudo-Geek

Not all of us grew up being beaten up by the football team with aspirations of living in our parents basements. That’s a stereotype. People love to stereotype people even if they claim they don’t (see, I just stereotyped people). Nixie Pixel isn’t a geek because she has a pretty face and girlie bits? I suppose I wouldn’t qualify as a geek then either.

While I meet the “male” part of the stereotype, most of the rest of my growing up doesn’t sound like a geeks childhood. I played on the front line of my High School football team, both Offense and Defense (American football). Personally, I liked Defense better. It’s much more fun to run over the guy with the ball than to try to keep other people from running over the guy with the ball. I was on the track team too. I threw shot and disc, and placed top 10 in the state. I even swam on the Swim Team. I wasn’t as good swimming, but I made State every year. There were a lot of kids that were worse.

My family got our first computer when I was a Junior in High School. We only got it then because I saved up the money I made Life Guarding and bought it myself. My parents thought that computers were a huge waste of time. They still do actually. I was always the kid running rogue programs on the Commodore 64s in the store when the salespeople turned their backs, but I never had one myself. I only really started to learn about computers after a help desk tech suggested I format my hard drive because the sound didn’t work on that first computer. I took his advice, not understanding that I should back up my software first. It took me over a month to find the right software and drivers to get it back up and running again (there was no Internet at the time). Even after I’d done all that, the sound still didn’t work (turns out I plugged the speakers into the wrong port).

Does this sound like a geek to you?

It does if you remember that being a geek is about what you’re into, rather than what you look like or what your history is. My junior and senior year I spent my lunches in the library or the computer lab learning as much about computers as I could. I remember one day the Quarterback finding me in the computer lab after lunch and giving me this exasperated look as he asked me, “Stone, what are you doing? What do you think is going to take you farther in life? Football, or computers?” The look I gave him must have been telling because he looked honestly surprised. I didn’t even answer him but he still said, “Oh.” After High School, he ended up starting his own business doing computer aided drafting, and he’s doing rather well for himself. I guess he got the point.

What is a Real Geek?

A real geek has nothing to do with what you look like. The definition of “geek” is:

A person with an eccentric devotion to a particular interest: “a computer geek”.

Just because they include “computer geek” in the definition doesn’t mean that computer geeks are the only kind. My brother is an English teacher, and he’s an English and Literature geek. Seriously. My wife is a Biology geek (she has the PhD to prove it). My Dad is a carpentry geek. He’s almost 90 years old, and he still goes out to his shop every day.

A lot of years went by where being a geek was considered a bad thing. Now, that’s changed. It’s rolled over to be a badge of honor. It’s a shame that some of the people who were stamped with the term when they didn’t want it now want to deny it to people who’ve earned it now that it’s not such a stigma.

Personally, I think it’s because of their looks (here’s me stereotyping again). They see a beautiful woman, and they’re taken back to some girl that they never even tried to get rejected by in High School or College. Someone like that can’t possibly be in the Geek Club. That conclusion is stupid, and it lessens the members of this community when you go blabbing that kind of crap where it can be heard by humans.

How about we try to judge people by what’s going on between their ears instead of what’s in their pants and under their shirts?

OK, I’m done now. If you’d like to yell at me and tell me that I’m just not geek enough because I played on the football team, feel free to do so in the comments section below.

Samsung vs. Apple: I’m Already Bored

Bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored boredSo, the Samsung vs. Apple trial started yesterday. I really wanted to pay a lot of attention to this one because it’s being hyped and hyped as this really big deal. So I skimmed the news stories about it, and I diligently read all about it. That lasted all of about 15 minutes before the monotony got the better of me. Two days into it, and I’m already bored out of my mind.

Apple had their opening statements.

Samsung had their opening statements.

Samsung released information to the press that the judge said couldn’t be in the trial.

Apple whined about Samsung releasing information to the press that the judge said couldn’t be in the trial.

Samsung says that the information released was public information.

It’s all the same back and forth. Now Apple is seeking emergency sanctions against Samsung for leaking  public information to the press. I don’t get that at all. IT’S PUBLIC INFORMATION. I’m not a lawyer, but how is it that Samsung can be sanctioned for releasing information that is not secret in anyway? If someone is a lawyer who is reading this, please please PLEASE explain this to me in the comments.

I’m not sure how much of this kind of news I can stand. Seriously. It’s like watching a shoving match on a playground. A lot of words, very little action. In the end, someone just might end up with a boo-boo. I say “might” because pretty much everybody knows that no matter what decision is reached, the loser is going to appeal. Apple wins, Samsung appeals. Samsung wins, Apple appeals. Then we get to sit through this same load of crap all over again. If I’m bored of it now, what is it going to be like in 6 months?


Raspberry Pi Getting Android 4.0

If you’re a fan of the Raspberry Pi, you’re about to love it even more. It was announced yesterday that Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) is almost done being ported to the Raspberry Pi.

This is great news for the Pi. Android is in a unique position to make use of the Raspberry Pi’s hardware. Since Android is designed with mobile in mind, the 700MHz ARM processor found on the Pi has more than enough power. Hardware-accelerated graphics and video are also working.

With very little effort and $25 plus shipping, you can have a working Android game system for your TV. Access to both Google Play and the Amazon App Store will guarantee a ton of apps you can easily install on the Pi.

Currently, the implementation uses a different kernel and VideoCore binary image from the one available on GitHub. They’re looking into converging the two code lines. As soon as they can, they’ll be releasing the sources to the public.

I’ll update this post as more information becomes available.