01. May 2017 · Comments Off on The REAL reason we use Linux · Categories: Commentary, Linux

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We tell people we use Linux because it’s secure. Or because it’s free, because it’s customizable, because it’s free (the other meaning), because it has excellent community support…

But all of that is just marketing bullshit. We tell that to non-Linuxers because they wouldn’t understand the real reason. And when we say those false reasons enough, we might even start to believe them ourselves.

But deep underneath, the real reason remains.

We use Linux because it’s fun!

It’s fun to tinker with your system. It’s fun to change all the settings, break the system, then have to go to recovery mode to repair it. It’s fun to have over a hundred distros to choose from. It’s fun to use the command line.

Let me say that again. It’s fun to use the command line.

No wonder non-Linuxers wouldn’t understand.

The point with us Linux fans is – we use Linux for its own sake. Sure, we like to get work done. Sure, we like to be secure from viruses. Sure, we like to save money. But those are only the side-effects. What we really like is playing with the system, poking around, and discovering completely pointless yet fascinating facts about the OS.

There are three main reasons Linux is so much fun:

1. Linux gives you complete control

Ever tried stopping a process in Windows and the OS wouldn’t let you? Ever tried deleting a file – and you couldn’t? Even though you had admin rights?

Linux lets you do anything. That’s the great benefit of usually logging in as user. If you login as the root, the OS assumes you know what you’re doing. Once you become root, everything is allowed.

2. Linux isn’t widely used

This is a paradox. We often complain Linux isn’t more widely used. But that’s one of the reasons we use it. It gives us a feeling of being a special clique. Like we’re better than “those ignorant masses”.

If Linux becomes widely used, we’ll probably switch to something else. Or at least develop an obscure distro that only we will use. Because, let’s face it, we want to feel special.

3. Linux is free (as-in-speech)

We can get the source code for all our applications. If we want to know how a certain part of the OS works, we can. This lets us tweak and play with our systems. And we absolutely loo-o-o-ve tweaking our system.

Of course we can’t tell non-Linuxers we use Linux because it’s fun – they’d stick us into a mental asylum quicker than you can say “antidisestablishmentarianism”. So we’ll keep telling them the false yet plausible reasons for using Linux. But deep inside, we’ll know the real reason we use Linux.

And maybe, just maybe, next time someone asks me why I use Linux, I’ll flash a huge smile and answer: “Because using Linux is FUN!”

I just purchased a pair of New Balance shoes that were made in the U.S.A.

I went to SRI Shoe Warehouse here in Raleigh to look for a new pair as my old ones were worn through the soles. I like New Balance so I went to that section and found at least five different models that are made in the U.S.A. Fortunately one of those was what I needed and they had a pair that fit.

Note that not all New Balance shoes are made in the U.S. They do have five factories producing American Made shoes. The ones made in the U.S. have a tag that says “Committed to American Workers.”

28. June 2012 · Comments Off on The Justice Who Fell From Grace With the Conservatives · Categories: Commentary, Health Care, Politics

How ironic that the conservative Supreme Court Justice Roberts, former darling of the Teapublicans, should be the deciding vote to declare Obamacare to be Constitutional.

And how quickly the ideological right can turn on its own in a self-righteous temper-tantrum when they don’t get their way. Even before the ruling was completely read and understood, the right wing talking heads had declared Roberts a traitor.

Yet Roberts truly did return a very conservative decision—much to the chagrin of the pseudo-conservatives. He said it himself when he wrote “it is not our job to save the people from the consequences of their political choices,” thus refusing to take a political stance and doing his job by making a strictly Constitutional decision. He also wrote: “The federal government does not have the power to order people to buy health insurance. … The federal government does have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance,” even correcting the government’s oral argument for upholding the law from one under the Commerce clause of the Constitution to one under the ability of Congress to levy taxes.

Update: The government did provide a number of written briefs to the court based upon the Congressional ability to levy taxes.

The reason that this is a truly conservative decision, despite the Teapublican protests to the contrary, is that Justice Roberts ruled on strictly Constitutional grounds rather than political ones. And that has the right calling him a traitor.

I guess that they are too politicized to understand what a true conservative really is.

To be fair, I certainly do not agree with all of the decisions made by Justice Roberts or the Supreme court as a whole. And yet another irony is that, while I agree with this particular decision for various reasons, I think the liberal Justices were not incorrect in their reasoning as they would have used the Commerce clause of the Constitution to uphold the law. Justice Ginsburg wrote, “Unlike the market for almost any other product or service, the market for medical care is one in which all individuals inevitably participate. … Virtually every person residing in the United States, sooner or later, will visit a doctor or other health care professional.”

Regardless of which Constitutional clause is used as the foundation for the argument to uphold Obamacare, the United States of America is a better place today because more of our citizens have access to affordable health care—including the Teapublicans.

This website will participate tomorrow, January 18, 2012, in protest of the SOPA law. That law would restrict the Internet freedoms of everyone for the somewhat questionable  financial benefit of a few media companies. In order to restrict alleged piracy, they would restrict the entire Internet. Web sites could be closed without any warning or even proof that they were in violation of any law—except the laws of greed.

Read about SOPA and the protest.

This bill will break the Internet as we know it.

The GOP — That’s Greedy Old Poops to you — is now fighting against the very thing they campaigned for:  tax cuts.

But these aren’t tax cuts for the grossly rich, which they still defend vigorously and will gladly destroy the economy to protect. These are tax cuts for the people that need them the most. They want to let expire an existing tax cut for regular working folks.

To quote from the article in today’s News & Observer:

Many of the Republicans who fought hammer-and-tong to keep the George W. Bush-era income tax cuts from expiring on schedule are now saying a different “temporary” tax cut should end on Jan. 1 as planned.

The tax break extension they oppose is sought by President Barack Obama. Unlike proposed changes in the income tax, this policy helps the 46 percent of Americans who owe no federal income taxes but who pay a “payroll tax” on practically every dime they earn.

There are other differences as well, and Republicans say their stand is consistent with their goal of long-term tax policies that will spur employment and lend greater certainty to the economy.

“It’s always a net positive to let taxpayers keep more of what they earn,” says Rep. Jeb Hensarling, “but not all tax relief is created equal for the purposes of helping to get the economy moving again.” The Texas lawmaker is on the House GOP leadership team.

This bozo is using typical Republican convoluted illogic to contradict himself in a single sentence. Please, Jeb, explain to us how tax cuts for the poor and middle class is so different from tax cuts for the grotesquely rich.

Apparently voodoo economics is like  voodoo science. Can you say “There is no global warming?” When repeated frequently enough by idiotic, wacko talk show hosts and moronic, power hungry politicians, makes it true in the minds of the . . . idiots and morons who say it.

And like second-hand smoke, which has been banned in many places, it poisons many who have to listen to it too frequently as well.

So the Greedy Old Poops think that tax cuts for the obscenely rich are the only ones that can help “get the economy moving again.”  How can you people live with yourselves?

I just love it! The Greedy Old Poops think it is OK for the super-rich to get or keep tax cuts, but not for the rest of us. Did you vote for these <place disparaging name of your choice here, such as shitheads> because you thought that they would cut your taxes? I sure didn’t.

Read the complete N&O article below, but do so at your own risk. It will increase your blood pressure and put you at risk of a stroke — which you can’t afford to get treated thanks to the damn Republicans. I sure could use some Obamacare right now.

http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/08/22/1427548/gop-fights-tax-cut-that-obama.html#ixzz1Vl6Lq1oh

**PRESIDENT** Obama released his long form birth certificate today so bozos like Trump cannot complain about him not being a citizen anymore. Well some will complain anyway but they are clearly too stupid to think for themselves.

But without the “birther” crap for ammunition, Trump is now saying that he wants to see PRESIDENT Obama’s grades because he does not think the PRESIDENT was smart enough to get into Harvard Law School.

Here is an interesting article by my Representative in Congress, Democrat Brad Miller. I intend to hold another house party to support him for 2012.

“Dump the Trump”

Why?

Frankly the best software on the planet is free.

Free Open Source Software, also known as FOSS, not only provides the basis for the majority of the Internet Servers in the world, it also provides home and office software that can reduce your software expenditures to zero, $0.00, nada, nothing.

Define “Free”

Free has multiple meanings when applied to FOSS. Here are three I think are important. FOSS is not only free as in beer but free as in speech and free from worry.

Free Beer

I have to believe that everyone understands “free as in beer.” But just in case — it means that there is never any charge of any kind for the software. There are no up front charges, no license charges, no upgrade fees, no subscription fees; you simply never have to pay anything, ever. How great is that!

Would you refuse a free beer if someone offered it to you? And if you don’t imbibe alcohol, would you refuse a free Starbucks? Why would you refuse free software?

Worry Free

Because you never have to pay for licenses, you never have to spend money to monitor and audit your licenses. This frees you from the worry that the “Software Police” will come and require an expensive audit. Audits can be doubly expensive because they not only take time and money to perform but they also can cost money in penalties if it is discovered that you are using licenses for which you did not pay.

Make no mistake about it; the software police do come around. Microsoft can be very aggressive about that as can some other proprietary software companies.

Worry free also means that you never have to worry about the security or quality of the software. There are hundreds and even thousands of contributors to Open Source Software around the world who verify the usability and safety of the software. many of these people actively contribute code to various projects while others simply do quality control by checking the code directly or using it and reporting bugs.

Although all software has bugs, Open Source Software gets fixed much more quickly than proprietary software and the fixes are distributed much more quickly. Let’s face it; I have worked at companies that depend on closed source, proprietary software and their first reaction when you report a bug — despite paying thousands or even millions of dollars — is to do an analysis of Return On Investment, or ROI, to determine whether it is profitable for them to fix the bug. Most of the time they came back to us saying that they had known for some time that there was a bug but that it did not affect many customers and so they were not going to fix it. Best case I ever got was that it would be fixed in some unspecified future release, probably multiple years from now.

And of course that never did us any good as we needed the software fixed now. So in at least one place I worked we actually paid over $250,000 to have the software company fix bugs that were their fault and that should have been corrected for free. At another place we paid over $500,000 to have the software vendor add features that should have been in the software in the first place.

With FOSS simply make a request and the feature gets added. Report a bug and it gets fixed and is usually available within days or weeks at most. Or you can do it yourself if you have the skills — most of us don’t so we depend upon the programmers to deal with adding features or fixing bugs.

And finally I never have to worry about viruses, Trojan horses, worms, spyware and other nasties. Linux and FOSS is not immune to those things, but it is far more resistant than Windows and in the very unlikely event that it does get infected, the damage will be very limited. In fact, if you are really paranoid — and you should be if you run a web site, email server or other Internet connected service — you can activate the SELinux feature which was developed by the NSA to make it impossible for a cracker to damage a Linux computer even if he does break in. SELinux is sort of like bolting down the furniture and storing your valuables in a tungsten steel vault just in case someone breaks into the concrete bunker through the quadruple-locked steel door. Way overkill for most of us, though.

Free Speech

Free speech means that I can give you my opinion; which is exactly what I do on this blog and specifically in this post. Whether you want it or not. ;-)

It also means that I, or you, can give away copies of FOSS to anyone and everyone; it means that the software is freely available and unencumbered by restrictions of any type. In fact, the primary Open Source licenses, Gnu Public License, or GPL, and its derivatives all encourage us to give away copies of the programs. And most FOSS can be downloaded quite easily from the Internet.

So if I like a certain program, or an entire operating system, I can give you a copy and you can install it on as many computers as you want. You can turn around and give it to other people if you want to.

Software For Every Task

There is Free Open Source Software available for nearly every task you might want to do at home or in a business. I don’t intend to list them all here, but I run my business and my household on FOSS. This includes OpenOffice which does things like spreadsheets, math formulae,  drawing, database, and just plain old word processing and which includes the ability to use Microsoft Office documents and spreadsheets. I use GNUCash for my home and business finances. I use Thunderbird for email and Firefox for browsing the Internet.

I use VirtualBox for virtualizing multiple computers on a single hardware system. I use Tellico to keep collections of things such as books and the Gramps Genealogy System to research and keep track of my family. There is GIMP for complex image manipulation, Skype for Internet telephony, and multiple image viewers, photo management programs and media players.

And of course I use Linux as my operating system. Always free, secure and stable.

The best part is that all of this software is both free of cost and free as in speech. You can even try Linux and many FOSS programs using “live” spins that allow you to boot from a DVD or CD and try it out without changing or doing anything to your hard drive.

Getting Started

If you are ready to get started, or you simply want to learn more about FOSS, please go to my Millennium Technology Consulting LLC web site to learn more.

21. January 2009 · Comments Off on Running the Numbers – American Excess in Art · Categories: Art, Commentary, Environment

A friend of mine sent me a URL for an amazing photographic artist, Chris Jordan. His web site has four collections of his art. All of them have incredible visual and visceral impact, but the one that affected me the most is Running the Numbers; An American Self-Portrait.

The artist’s objective is to help us visualize many of the statistics we encounter each day. The photographs are huge, often-times multi-paneled images of everyday objects such as oil drums, Barbie dolls, toothpicks, even cigarette cartons — but with a statistical twist. For example, one huge panel of 60″x120″ is of two million (2,000,000) plastic beverage bottles — the number of which are used in only five minutes in the United States.

These statistical images range from the number of barrels of oil consumed in the U.S. every two minutes (28,000) to the number of breast augmentation surgeries performed in the US each month (32,000), each of which is represented by a Barbie doll. Individually each of these images has a tremendous capacity to change how we perceive many of the huge numbers we are presented with each day in the news. Taken together, and with his other collections, they form a visual indictment of American conspicuous consumption and its ecological and social impact.

The URL for the home page of Mr. Jordan’s site is below. All of the collections are amazing, but Running the Numbers; An American Self-Portrait is stunning. You will never view common items like your cell phone, Barbie dolls, plastic cups, or a light bulb in the same way again. Which is, of course the artists intent.

http://www.chrisjordan.com/

I would be interested in your reactions to this art. Please leave comments below.

Alice and I, along with Vickie, our Barack Obama Change Crew Seven Leader, and her three girls worked on cleaning up the greenway near our house today as a service project for Martin Luther King day. We collected four large bags of trash in about ninety minutes, and due to the fact that there were only a few of us and so much trash we barely scratched the surface.

If you walk the greenway it will look a bit better because we managed to get much, but not all, of the trash close to the pedestrian walkway. Further away from the walkway we did not have enough people to do so, and we were unable to wade in the water to get much of the trash that was in the stream beds.

The Worst

Most of the trash we collected was near Durant Road Middle School. That area was a mess. Clearly the students are dumping trash and “other stuff” there between classes and during sporting events on the fields behind the school. The greenway runs behind the school on the far side of the athletic fields.

We found clothing, plastic bottles and aluminum cans, glass beer bottles, beer cans, cans and bottles which had been used as spittoons for chewing tobacco, used condoms, a bright red snow sled (which we commandeered to haul the trash away), plastic and foil bags, complete home packed lunches — lunch boxes included, newspapers, magazines, and much other assorted trash.

Perhaps a discussion with school authorities is in order and some sort of regular cleanup day would help the students understand that they need to be ecologically responsible. My brother and I suggested this when we were going to elementary school and it became a yearly event.

More Disgusting Stuff

Many dog walkers try to clean up after their animals and, as we walk the greenway most days, many of the people we see are carrying plastic bags with the dog poop that they have cleaned up. However some owners don’t clean up or even worse, collect the poop in bags and then throw the bags into the brush and the streams. The latter is the worst possible thing you can do!

If you are one of the morons that does this, please stop now!!! The plastic bags hurt the environment all by themselves, and they prevent the poop from being broken down and reused by nature. At least if your dog poops and you leave it, the poop will degrade and return to nature in a short period of time.

Last night we attended a “Change is Coming” party/meeting in our neighborhood — one of many held simultaneously all around the country. This is a very important and exciting continuing use of the organization developed by Barack Obama for his campaign and takes us to the next step, which is actively working for the change for which we voted.

We were really impressed because over 60 people signed up for this event and most of those folks showed up. We all have a great deal of energy in creating this change and so it was a very fun and exciting event.

The basic idea was for us to list all of the things that are important to us and then select the top three upon which we will focus in the coming months. We did choose three and this information will be passed up the communications links to Obama headquarters where they will aggregate it and determine the priorities of the administration.

Our priorities here in North Raleigh are:

  • Health Care
  • Environment
  • The Economy

These priorities go a lot deeper and broader than the list would suggest at first glance. As one example, for health care it is important that we have universal health care that is easily available to all. It should travel from job to job with you, be free of exclusions due to pre-existing conditions and without regard to socio-economic status.

Each of the three items also includes commonalities such as creating new jobs, feeding the hungry, reinvigorating the economy, freeing the United States from the tyranny of dependence upon foreign oil, developing new sources of energy, and ensuring social justice for all.

In addition we have formed local groups around these items at the top of our priority list and will be working locally on these items as well as nationally. And we will also be working on some of the items that did not make the top three, but with less emphasis; they will not go away and also need our attention.

It is truly exciting to have a voice in determining the directions for the next few years — and hopefully far beyond. We are once again energized and feel empowered by the political process instead of alienated as we have been for the last eight years.

I will post more here as we further refine and define our goals and we begin to act for change.

Yes We Can!