Archive for September, 2006

Open Source Astronomy Anyone?

September 30, 2006

Back in the early 90’s I remember a friend at university lending me a 3.5" floppy with a piece of MS-DOS software that provided a pseudo planetarium application. You could input your location and it would generate the constellations based on the current date and time. Quite a nifty piece of software. Recently, on the Jak Attack podcast I heard mention of a similar application called Stellarium. It’s open-source, and has versions for Linux, OSX and Windows.

I installed it from the Ubuntu repositories and configured it for my location (thank you Google for helping me find my latitude and longitude). What a wonderful application. It works flawlessly on my machine. The interface is very sharp. Although I’ve only played with it a while, it has lots of options for turning various things on and off (constellations, nebulae, atmosphere, etc..) and you can speed up, slow down, or reverse time while everything in the universe adjusts itself. You can also zoom in on nebulae and planets.

Stellarium also has what I think is one of the nicest looking interfaces I’ve seen in a while. It’s amazing how far planetarium programs have come. And it’s even better when you realize it’s an open-source project. Very slick.

If you’re interested in astronomy, definitely check it out.

Getting Involved and RAW processing on Linux

September 28, 2006

As a big supporter of free and open-source software and the community that supports it, but having exceedingly crappy coding chops, it’s been a little frustrating trying to actually participate in any meaningful way. However I’ve finally taken the advice given by the LugRadio guys on several different episodes and found another way to get involved.

Back at the beginning of August I wrote a post called More RAW on Linux Goodness. In this post I mentioned the RawStudio project who’s aim is to produce a simple, easy to use RAW converter application for Linux. I’ve followed the project’s mailing lists and use the app whenever I get the chance. So in a bold move (for me anyway), I inquired about helping out. Documentation is an important but often neglected portion of many open-source projects and this seemed a great fit for my interests (writing and photography being two of them). So I did some reading on DocBook and Subversion (SVN)- both of which I knew absolutely nothing about – and asked how to get involved.

So a very rough base document for a Getting Started Guide was very recently made available via SVN and I’ve actually made some revisions and corrections and did my first ever commit tonight. Needless to say, I’m quite proud of myself. Hehe.

If you’re interested in digital photography on Linux then check out Rawstudio. It’s shaping up to be a really useful application – hopefully with good documentation to boot! 🙂

(PS – many thanks to AndersB, AndersK, MartinE and others on the mailing list for answering my unending newbie questions – and providing great info!).

Podcast=Bleccch, Netcast=Yummm

September 23, 2006

Early this Saturday morning I read a post by Leo Laporte (posted even earlier this morning) about Apple sending a cease and desist letter to a software and services company called Podcast Ready claiming that the terms “Podcast Ready” and “myPodder” infringe on Apple trademarks. He makes some great points:

Now I’m far FAR away from being a religious person, but if there is a god, I beg him/her/it, “Please let this be true!!!!”. Leo goes on to say that (like me) he really doesn’t like the term ‘podcast’ anyway. In no way does Apple deserve to be construed as the inventor of podcasts or a required part of a podcasting system. That is not an angry shot at Apple, it’s just fair.

Truth is, I’ve never liked the word podcast. It causes confusion. In the past couple of days two people have told me that they can’t listen to my shows because they “don’t own an iPod.” I have to explain constantly that podcasts can be listened to on computers, phones, MP3 players, and CDs, as well as iPods, but because of the name the confusion persists. And now Apple is threatening people who use the word.

Further he suggests using the term “netcast“. I fully agree. It’s more accurate, better sounding and a nice little pun to boot. Will it happen? Maybe not. But man do I ever wish it would! And don’t for a second suggest ‘audioblog’… if there is an uglier name than ‘podcast’ then it’s got to be ‘blog’.

Now how do we get ‘netcast’ into widespread use? Well this is why I beg and pray that Apple decides to fight companies using the term. It will make adopting a new term so much easier.

Anyone heard any great NETCASTS anyone?

Just for fun…

September 23, 2006

[Update: Ok. I admit I expected more than one person to (even attempt to) give it a shot – thanks Brad. There are 3 distinct possibilities here: 1) It was too hard. 2)I’m the only one who likes Pictionary, or 3) Almost no one (save Brad) reads my blog. I’m hoping its 1, disappointed if it’s 2, and fully prepared to admit it’s 3. In any case and as always, I will soldier on. The answer to the pictionary puzzle was “Posting Block” -sigh-]

For those (like me) who always enjoyed a good game of Pictionary…. this is an easy one. Leave your guesses in the comments…

Personal Integrity…hello?

September 21, 2006

Just reading about the so-called ‘outing’ of an anonymous blogger known for his personal attacks and cheap shots. I have never read him, but after checking out his blog I realize I likely wouldn’t want to anyway – even if I did agree with his views. In any case, it quickly brought a simple thought to the fore:

In the blogosphere, anonymity – falsely achieved or not – serves a useful purpose for select parties (bloggers fearing political persecution and parent bloggers protecting their children’s identity, come to mind). But using anonymity to free oneself of the burden of personal integrity is just plain stupid.

How can you stand behind what you write if you’re not willing to errr… stand behind it.


How long will it take for people to realize (especially in this era of networking) that ‘what comes around ultimately goes around’? Chances are already good and ever-increasing, that what you write can turn around and bite you in the ass.

Great post on humility…

September 21, 2006

One of the personal traits that I value most is humility. It doesn’t always make for high traffic-generating blogposts (or efficient corporate ladder climbing) but it’s still something I genuinely cherish. For example, it’s much more efficient to be brazen about your views and absolutely unconvinced that anyone else could possibly be right. That type of thing may not win you any friends but it might garner you more page views. There is a great post about humility by Rosa Say over on You should definitely check it out. Here’s a snippet:

We can be confident, and we can be self-assured; humility does not call for us to be meek, or consider ourselves lower in stature. We do not require less of ourselves, and we take our role and our responsibilities seriously. However what humility does, is create a sort of receptacle of acceptance in us, so we are open to being filled with the knowledge and opinions of others. Humility is a kind of hunger for more abundance. The greater our humility, the greater our fascination with the world around us, and the more we learn.


Sparks on the Rails

September 20, 2006

Listening to the last few Gillmor Gangs has been like watching a train wreck. You can’t take your eyes (or in this case ears) off of it as the brakeless train hurtles faster and faster. It only seems a matter of time until the wheels leave the rails. But man, until then it’s getting less intellectual but more interesting with each installment.

Last time it appeared that Jason Calacanis had wrestled the controls from Steve and was bound and determined to drive it straight off the tracks. And in this latest episode Jason is not there (what happened to script continuity anyway?) but we find Mike Arrington regrettably rating poor Hugh after he’s left the call. Not nice. But at least we’re getting to hear some real opinion on things – even if the interesting ones are non-tech related.

Will Steve continue to piss off his fellow passengers by chopping and hacking each episode into bite sized chunks? It seems they’re all against it – to Steve’s apparent delight.

Will Mike Arrington finally realize that all his chuckling and backhanded comments about Hugh actually do hurt his own reputation?

Will mainstream media heroes Dan and MikeV finally join Jon Udell in leaving the dark side?

Will Adam Curry show up and respond to Steve’s ‘Fuck you Adam Curry…but he’s a fantastic guy’ statements?

Will Doc Searls actually say something that doesn’t make absolute sense?

Good luck to Steve in keeping it on the rails. He’s actually got me engaged again, but the problem with train wrecks is that while they are good at garnering attention, we all know how they ultimately end.

For now, you can check out the blog that doesn’t exist by clicking this not-dead-yet link.

Alter Egos

September 15, 2006

Pat Davila writes that in addition to being one of the hosts of The Linux Link Tech Show, he’s also a cursing Philipino blogger and a thug from Albuquerque among other things…

I found out a couple of years ago that I was a board member of the Grande Prairie EMS in Alberta (and found out I look much older than I feel too!).


MOC and Music That Still Moves Me

September 14, 2006

I’ve never been one to obsess over my music. My digitized collection has always been what you might call a ‘dogs breakfast’. I’ve ripped my own CD’s as required but never made any concerted effort to digitize my entire collection. What music I do have on my hard drive is neither sorted nor categorized, neither rated, nor tagged. But I do enjoy it just the same.

Over the last few years I’ve imported my music into a few different applications such as Windows Media Player, ITunes, and more recently Rhythmbox, Banshee, and Listen. All of these applications are great, each has their own specific approach to playing my music, and many times this involves building a catalogue of all my music. But to be honest, they’ve all been a little over the top for me. Enter MOC (Music on Console)…

MOC is a console-based music application for Linux. I’ve been using it for a little over a week now and I’m loving it. Here are some reasons why:

1. It’s lightweight in terms of system overhead.
2. It’s configurable, keyboard controlled, and simple to use.
3. It doesn’t attempt to catalog my music.
4. You can create playlists and store them.
5. It can easily be set to run unobtrusively in the background.
6. All the standard player functionality like shuffle, repeat, skip, etc.. is only a keystroke away.
7. It’s open source.

While playing around with it I’ve been running into some songs I haven’t listened to in quite a while. My musical tastes (like all my other interests) have varied over time. For instance, right now I’m going through your typical late 30’s male skate-punk wannabe pseudo-diluted mid-life crisis phase where I find myself listening to Blink182 and Our Lady Peace – good grief!

But in the course of re-exploring my music collection I’ve come across several songs where I’ve thought: “Hey.. I can see (or hear) why I used to love that song!” They’re from varying genres, but they all strike a nerve and either get me weepy or playing air-guitar. Here are a few of them and, like my music collection, they are in no particular order:

1. Charlie Sexton – Impressed
2. Three Dog Night – Shambala
3. David Lee Roth – Goin’ Crazy
4. Howard Jones – Like to Get To Know You Well
5. Jim Croce – Time in a Bottle
6. Neil Diamond – I Am I Said (!)
7. Styx – Come Sail Away
8. Squeeze – Goodbye Girl
9. Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl
10. The Box – L’Affair Du Moutier
11. Van Halen – 5150
12. Louis Armstrong – La Vie en Rose
13. The Fabulous Thunderbirds – Wrap It Up
14. Jimi Hendrix – Stone Free
15. Tracy Chapman – The Promise

What are some of those songs that used to (and still) move you?

The Value of Teaching

September 12, 2006

A great post on Copyblogger today: Don’t Sell… Teach. I for one am tired of listening to people figure out how they can market at me or even how they can somehow get my consent to market at me. There is so much untapped value in teaching and sharing. You as a marketer must give me value in order to get value out of our relationship. It’s about time the value of empowering and sharing knowledge becomes a cornerstone in building that relationship.