Posts Tagged ‘FLOSS’

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Wares, they cometh

Some very cool stuff in the wonderful world of software(tm):

  • Flash 9 beta for Linux (finally!)
    OMG OMG OMG – so much better.  faster.  no (or way fewer) sound issues.  GTK standalone player available, as well.  Now I don’t have to cringe when I receive a link to “that really cool flash site.”
  • Gaim 2.0 beta 4 multi-protocol IM client (cross-platform)
    Vast improvements.  File transfers on MSN still teh suck, tho.  And, of course, it doesn’t support the anything complicated.  Now I will use aMSN for complicated features, and Gaim for minimal chattiness.  Like when I’m supposed to be doing homework.  ….  Like now.  🙁
  • Songbird 0.2 webby music player/manager (cross-platform)
    If you’re still of the 1) Find music file in filesystem 2) double click to play in audio player mindset, please come to the current generation.  You need a library manager.  You do.  This is based on Firefox XUL and it’s pretty slick.  It’s even quite snappy!  It browses the web, collects media files from web pages…. oh just click the link and watch a video about it.

Note: Posted in Deepest Sender. Which seems to prefer ‘BR’ tags over ‘P’ tags.  Eewww….

Python Workshop, Pets, and Salmon

Vancouver Python Workshop

Had a good (and very geeky) time. Met some cool people (including a local Summer-of-Coder)! Sweet. I was almost always in the “Beginner Track,” as I was completely unfamiliar with the language. Paul Prescod did an excellent job of offering a two-day introduction to the Python language, and Jim O’Leary had a great 45 minutes on object orientation. (I’ve never before seen anyone try to cover polymorphism in 5 minutes.) I wish most of it moved at a faster pace, but I understand that there was a large range of skills and backgrounds in the room. All the slides are supposed to be available soon through the website, for anyone interested.

Python’s really cool. I can see myself using it quite a bit. I even got a really cool idea for a project while going for a run, the other day! We’ll see how that comes.

Adopting Pets

Over the last several months, I’ve adopted a catch and release program whenever I find a spider in the house. I put it in a container and release it at the bottom of the driveway when I get a chance. Well, I do find these creatures quite interesting, and I found a rather large jumping spider[1] on the deck, which I found especially interesting! I’ve been reluctant to release him, cuz he’s so cool! The problem? Well, I have to feed him, of course. So far, he’s eaten a pill bug I found for him, and two other (smaller) spiders that I didn’t really intend as food….

Actually, I took the container outside with me , looking for “spider food.” At this point, it contained an ant, the large jumping spider, and a smaller spindly spider. For purposes of brevity, lets refer to the jumping spider as “BJ,” and the little spider as “Petey.” I released the ant because he was able to fit through one of the holes at the top (the spiders didn’t seem interested in him), so I just flicked him away. But when the spiders saw him crawl through a hole, they got really excited! I’m not sure if they saw it as food escaping or verification that it was possible. Both BJ and Petey crawled up to the top of the container and started feeling around.

For a couple of days, these spiders had been living together with no conflict, but when excited little Petey got too close to BJ, BJ lashed out at Petey. So Petey scuttled off, wounded, and now *really* wanting to get out. BJ just sat there watching… and waiting, I guess. Petey tried to squeeze through one of the holes, and managed to get two legs and half his body through. He pulled up and tried another one. All the holes are the same size, so he made about the same progress: 2 legs and half his body. BJ leaped on Petey’s helplessly stuck self, and that was the end of poor ‘lil Petey, his legs twitching. I felt pretty sad for the little guy, I was actually planning on releasing him right after the ant.

Anyways, I took lots of pictures of BJ and he’s been quite entertaining. I released him, today.

MMmmmm, Food

I cooked salmon, last night. It was very good, if I do say so, myself. Jesse declined the invite, but Kurtis was willing to come over for a late dinner. 🙂

Some Link Spewage

  • Synergy is a very nice way to use one keyboard and mouse to control multiple desktops, over the network. I just started using it for my desktop & laptop.
  • is fantastic. Join it. Add me as friend. I’m friendly. izm99
  • If you use Linux, I recommend last-exit as a player. (Of course, I may be toolkit-biased).

  • Excellent talk on how Google is getting people to want to work for them. for free.
  • Vancouver coffee shops that offer free wireless (with reviews!). Been told these weren’t terribly reliable, however.
  • The Fireworks are over. I didn’t go.
  • This looks interesting.
  • Google Browser Sync
  • Cheap domain names (according to a VanLUG newsgroup discussion):

Open Source Software (in Vancouver) part 3

OSS Presentation

On Wednesday (Aug 2nd), I finally went to UBC Robson Square and did my presentation for VanDev. It went okay, I guess. And I’m certainly relieved it’s over! But I think some people were expecting to learn more about free (and open source) software. If people get what they’re not expecting, they’re likely to be disappointed. This was difficult for me, because I had barely started working on the presentation when a description was required.

I wanted to create a non-technical/fun presentation, and I think many of the experienced people wanted something more technical. There was a huge spectrum of knowledge, from people completely unfamiliar with FLOSS to experts (and much more versed than I, but that’s not saying much). I think the less experienced people probably got more out of it.

I know I was looking at my laptop screen a lot, but I just hadn’t memorized everything. Also, I may have mumbled or spoke too fast, at times. I have to work on these things, but I am getting better. I don’t know if I ever really “finished” the presentation, as I was working on it until the last minute, pretty much. It would have been nice to have a sense of “conclusion,” at least, with the actual slides. heh.

Presenting in Linux

Amazingly, I successfully used Linux with the projector! This required coming in a day early and doing some tests. The room I was testing in was right next to the System Administrator’s office, and they noticed me fiddling at the front, so almost as soon as I arrived, there were two guys helping me out. Of course, people doing presentations on Linux is not common, so it wasn’t so smooth. But they did find me horizontal sync and vertical refresh rates. You only need to specify these in the xorg.conf if X has trouble detecting them, but for the Epson Powerlite 7600p projector, it did. For reference, I put these values in the xorg.conf in the “Monitor” section:

HorizSync 15-107
VertRefresh 43-120

and I used the proprietary Nvidia drivers, with TwinView enabled on “clone” mode. I would love it if this “just worked.” 🙁

I used Impress to create the presentation, but wasn’t terribly happy with the performance when actually stepping through picture intensive slides. I remedied this by exporting the presentation to PDF and using Evince in presentation mode, which worked great.

Lessons Learned

  1. In the summary, be as concise about the content of the presentation as possible. This is most easily done if the presentation is already complete. 🙂
  2. Finish your presentation two days before you have to do it. (I was working on mine until the last minute.)
  3. Rehearse at least twice completely, and once the day of. I found it really helpful to record myself and play it back.
  4. Test the presentation setup you will be using (the exact computer and projector) preferably two days in advance. I did it the day prior, but was fairly lucky with the results.


Overall, I’m satisfied with how everything turned out, and it was a good experience!

I recorded the audio of the presentation and will look into combining the audio and a video recording of the slides to release later. I just have to go through all the images and check copyrights…. *sigh*.Can anyone recommend any good FOSS tools for creating a video from slides?

Ubuntu 6.06 LTS CDs

I used Ubuntu’s Shipit to get some CDs for the presentation, and I still have lots of Ubuntu CDs left. If you want a CD, let me know. Breakdown:

  • 16 PC (had 28)
  • 3 PC 64bit (had 5)
  • 3 Mac (had 5)

Oh, and I got stickers, too! :mrgreen:

Open Source Software (OSS) part2

OSS Presentation

I blogged previously that I was creating a presentation on OSS. Since then, for various reasons, the direction of the presentation has changed. It has become more focused (a good thing), but I’m still looking for input. The new focus will be on Open Source in Vancouver. (Incidentally, that’s also the title. :P) I will be focusing on what OSS people in Vancouver are doing (their projects), what the current state of the OSS community is, and possible ways to improve it. Or, at least, open a discussion on this.

So I need to know of OSS contributors, projects, or OSS focused groups in the lower-mainland area. If you know of anything that may be relevant, please let me know! I find it amazingly difficult to search for this kind of thing (but I’m not ruling out my incompetence). Once I get some contacts, I will be doing an email interview of sorts to gather some information from each of the representatives. What kind of information would you or others be interested in? If you have ideas for questions I should ask, let me know (via comment or email).

If all goes smoothly, I will be doing this (brief) presentation on August 2nd, for the VanDev meetup. Details can be found at the VanDev website.


Going to the Python Developer Conference in Vancouver? I’ve signed up, with zero Python experience. It spans three days (Aug 4-6), the creator of the language is one of the keynotes, and it has optional salmon BBQ and Pub events. I think it’ll be fun! It’s not expensive, so if you have any interest, you should sign up too! 🙂

There’s also a completely free Ruby-on-Rails workshop on July 26th. I’ll be bringing my laptop to that one. Not sure if I should bring it to the Python event… probably will.

Import Photos Script

I used to use a script to copy my files from my digital camera memory card to my computer. Since recent Ubuntu releases use gnome-volume-manager to automatically prompt you with a Photo Import dialog when you insert your memory card, I never bothered using my script.

Photo Card Detected

If it was just a memory card over USB (as opposed to a digital camera over USB), then all this would do is open the memory card’s DCIM folder in gthumb and you would have to manually copy the files over. This has irritated me for a while, because I wanted the process to be as automated as possible. So… I spent most of the night battling Bash and playing with Zenity to create a new script. Behold!

Once installed, after you click Import Photos, you should get this screen to select the destination forlder.

Select Destination

Once you’ve done that, it should jump straight to copying the files.

Copying Files...

When it’s finished, it will ask you if you want to browse the fresh files with your favourite photo program, which you set in the script.

Browse new photos?

Clicking OK will open the destination directory in your program of choice (gthumb, by default). Clicking Cancel will put a notification in the notification area with a bubble saying where the photos were copied to.

That’s it!

My old script also used jhead to rename the files according to date in the EXIF data, but I didn’t want to create a dependency on jhead. Maybe I’ll add that later, as an option.


…couldn’t be simpler.

  1. Download the script to a sensible place. (I use ~/bin)
  2. Make sure you have executable permissions on it.
    chmod +x import-photos

  3. Go to gnome-volume-properties and change the command for Digital Camera from
    gnome-volume-manager-gthumb %h
    to the path to the import-photos script with the same parameter
    ~/bin/import-photos %h

    In Ubuntu, you can access this window with:
    System > Preferences > Removable Drives and Media
    uh oh.  I notice a typo!

  4. You should be done. 🙂

Guess I’d better study for my math midterm, now. 🙁

Update (2006/06/06):

Looks like this issue (lack of USB mass storage support in gphoto2) can be resolved simply by using bleeding-edge libgphoto2 package in Dapper. *gasp!* Davyd has built some packages and reports success. (Too bad I read his entry after writing the script….) Actually, I’m not sure I won’t continue using this script; it has some advantages. Maybe.

The first thing I want to do with pictures on my memory card is get them off of the memory card! I don’t need to see them, I’ll browse and edit them locally – it’s faster. The script currently copies all .jpg, .avi, .mov, and .mpg files found in the DCIM folder (and subfolders). As soon as the script has finished, I can unmount my memory card and plug it back into my camera, where it belongs. I don’t have to copy movie files in a seperate step. I will definitely try out the packages when I get a bit of time, though, because I honestly don’t know what I’m missing. Does it gphoto2 copy .avi files?

Regardless, it was a good experience writing it. 🙂

Open Source Software (OSS) part1

So I’ve been doing some research on OSS. I’m trying to prepare a presentation on the topic. Originally, I was planning on doing “Open Source Development” (ridiculously ironic considering the amount of OSS development I do…) but before I get into that, I wanted to be clear on what “Open Source” actually was. I’ve had a big interest in OSS and followed it for quite a while, but I’ve never bothered to become familiar with terms and licenses and history. It’s really quite interesting, but pretty overwhelming. I think I may have to change it to “An Introduction to OSS.” Which is fine, I guess.

So far, I’ve got lots of notes on different licenses, examples of software and bits of history about the software. I hope to incorporate some information and history on the figureheads of the “movement,” as it’s really interesting. At least, I find it really interesting. I’d also like to go over culture (goes with licenses), OSS development models, and development tools.

I must say, the Wikipedia entry on ESR (author of “The Cathedral and the Bazaar“) is absolutely hilarious. I’m talking serious LOL-material, here. It’s almost not work-safe. Careful.

Anyways, I’m curious, if you are not terribly familiar with OSS (or even if you are), what are some topics you’d like to see in a presentation about OSS? Anything specific to development? Add your suggestions to the comments on this post.

I’ll end with this amusing quote from


Publishers often refer to prohibited copying as “piracy.” In this way, they imply that illegal copying is ethically equivalent to attacking ships on the high seas, kidnapping and murdering the people on them.

If you don’t believe that illegal copying is just like kidnapping and murder, you might prefer not to use the word “piracy” to describe it. Neutral terms such as “prohibited copying” or “unauthorized copying” are available for use instead. Some of us might even prefer to use a positive term such as “sharing information with your neighbor.”