Thursday, August 31, 2006

Jokes

What do witches and wizards use while typing up their incantations?

A spellchecker.

What do grasshoppers use when they're typing up theories on grass consumption?

Locust Notes.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A piece of computing history

Every once-in-a-while, it's good to look back at events that become turning points in history.

15 years (and two days) ago, Linus Torvalds made the first post about Linux on the comp.os.minix newsgroup. Torvalds' work, enabled by the GNU project's tools (such as gcc), gave us a completely free-as-in-speech operating system, just as the GNU project had been working towards for years.

w00t for GNU/Linux!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Interesting Article

Terry Hancock's recent post, Ghost in the Shell, describes and somewhat analyzes avatars—what they are, how they're used, how we relate to them, based on context, and how the "Ghost", or the persona behind the avatar, is more important than the "Shell", or the avatar itself, be it physical or digital. Go take a read.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Posted "The Galway Shawl"

I've posted a Lilypond trascription of "The Galway Shawl" on my website. There are also PDF and PS versions available on the site as well. I was unable to find very much information on it, so I have not posted it to Mutopia (yet), but I do believe that the original is in the public domain. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Fleas and Mathematics

In the popular-mathematics book I'm reading, there are a number of little poems and quotes. You may have heard the following before. Quotations are courtesy the Wikipedia.

"So nat'ralists observe, a flea
Hath smaller fleas that on him prey,
And these have smaller fleas that bite 'em,
And so proceed ad infinitum."
-- Johnathan Swift


"And the great fleas themselves, in turn,
have greater fleas to go on,
While these again have greater still,
and greater still, and so on."
-- Augustus de Morgan

Monday, August 14, 2006

Eulogy for a Dog

Several weeks ago, the longtime (13 years, I believe) family dog, Aspen, died. It's been kinda strange; no one has seemed particularly upset about it, not me, not even the other dog, Miko. We'd been expecting it for some time now. But I think a short note about her life is appropriate.

Aspen was a kind-hearted runaway. She was chosen from the animal shelter because she was the only one not barking at the time (how soon that changed!). At the time, she was two, and though she sometimes tried to escape, she always made it back somehow. She loved to chase the squirrel, and one time almost caught the bunny. She never understood fetch, but she loved tug of war, and chewing on bones. She had a stout heart and was an optimist, even at the end. How do we know? Her spirit was always strong, even when she must have been in terrible pain. At the end she had warts, cataracts, a limp and probably cancer. But she was always cheerful. She died on the way to the vetrinarian following a stroke several days prior. She was 16.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Richard Stallman hits it on the head

Now, as some of you may know, Richard Stallman is the founder and leader of the Free Software Foundation, and is therefore an influential and generally important guy in the Free Software movement. I don't always agree with him; in fact, I often think he deliberately provokes people, which, I admit, is a time-honored rhetorical and activist technique. Nevertheless, I respect him and his willingness to do what he believes is right. Anyway, I was reading a transcript of his speech about the GPLv3 at the conference in Barcelona, and I read these lines:

[People who choose free software for practical reasons] are the kind of people that assume that you should choose between Free Software and proprietary software based on practical convenience, which is another way of saying that they value freedom at zero. How sad. How can freedom ever be safe, when people don't appreciate it. People have had to fight for freedom, over and over.

And when people do not value their freedom, they are very likely to lose it. But that's the fact. Most of our community does not appreciate freedom. Most of the World, lets go of vital freedoms whenever some crooked politician tells them "I'm going to protect you from terrorists, give up your freedom, let me protect you."


Right on, Mr. Stallman.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Time for some Linkage!

An interview with Defective By Design, a campaign by the Free Software Foundation (again, that's free as in speech, not beer) against DRM.

Also, RMS's essay, The Right to Read.

And a quote from his explanation on a Harry Potter boycott:

[...]one of the biggest threats to all these freedoms today comes from the general climate of fascism--the idea that government should support the power of business over human rights.