New Poll and some notes about GNU Emacs

I’m using a different WordPress plugin for my poll, its called Democracy AJAX Poll. It uses AJAX and I think its nicer. The last poll I had was “What is the best system, Free software or proprietary software and out of the 28 votes, 21 of you voted for Free software and the funny thing is out of 7 votes for proprietary software, my good buddy Mike made 6 of them, it just goes to show that even when they try to corrupt the process, they still lose 🙂

I’ll leave the default Poll for a while, someone rated my site and said their grandma could do better, so thats good.

I’m happy about using GNU Emacs regularly again, Its easily the best editor I’ve ever used, I think it would be a great teaching tool. I’m using it to write and publish this post, I also use it in combination with MVS to edit my wiki and Wikimedia projects. Here’s the links for people interested in those things.

There’s so many other things I use GNU Emacs for that its just too much effort to start listing them all off so I’ll try to keep my notes on the wiki.

I’m also running Erbot. We’ve been having a bit of fun with it on IRC.

I also have 2 lessons that are usable. News Aggregator lesson and Videoblogging lesson.

Teachers and Social Responsibility

There’s some really nice software for teaching game making as a way to teach young students programming and mathematics like Squeak which is also the programming environment that serves as Croquet’s foundation. My research is here. But there’s more.

Kay and Papert consider Croquet and Squeak just one part of the two parts necessary to help humanity. They hope that Nicholas Negroponte’s $100 laptop effort, which they co-developed with him, will help distribute such learning, discovery, and communication software for youth around the world to use to supplement and improve the students’ own learning environments. In turn, they hope that these students’ discoveries and “powerful ideas” can be self-published by the same interconnected software to be made available to the rest of civilization.

Earlier today I discovered something that I never would have expected, its a very long story and I think its better to keep looking forward.

Bill Kerr joins the Free Software Foundation.

So kids, Happy Learning.

FSF Campaigns and Support

Bad Vista

The BadVista campaign is an advocate for the freedom of computer users, opposing adoption of Microsoft Windows Vista and promoting free (as in freedom) software alternatives. RSS feed of this listing

Fight DRM, Join the Free Software Foundation

DefectiveByDesign.org is a broad-based anti-DRM campaign that is targeting Big Media, unhelpful manufacturers and DRM distributors. The campaign aims to make all manufacturers wary about bringing their DRM-enabled products to market. DRM products have features built-in that restrict what jobs they can do. These products have been intentionally crippled from the users’ perspective, and are therefore “defective by design”. This campaign will identify these “defective” products, and target them for elimination. Our aim is the abolition of DRM as a social practice. RSS feed of this listing

Freeing a MMORPG – Free Ryzom

The Free Ryzom campaign represents a unique opportunity for the free software movement and the emerging free gaming field. A fully free MMORPG (massively multiplayer online roleplaying game) engine and client/server architecture would allow the development of a myriad of universes, each one evolving its own philosophy and unique content – but sharing in general technical improvements. If successful, this campaign would allow any user to create their own universe and produce their own content based on the Ryzom/Nevrax architecture.

You can support the campaign by joining the FSF.

Support the FSF

Eben Moglen: A message about the Free Software Foundation

From www.FSF.org:

Watch a video appeal from Eben Moglen, Board member and General Counsel of the Free Software Foundation, covering the Novell and Microsoft deal, GPLv3, the FSF’s campaign against DRM (DefectiveByDesign.org) and software patents. You can help us save bandwidth by downloading from Internet Archive and Coral Cache.

From the video:

Freedom is more precious than anything else we have and we need to protect it while we still can.

Codev2 and Eben Inspiration

Lawrence Lessig updated his book “Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace“. Download Codev2.

Recenlty we read Eben Moglens speech “Free Software and the Death of Proprietary Culture” and now lets check out his keynote address, titled “Software and Community in the Early 21st Century” presented at Plone Conference 2006 on October 25, 2006 in Seattle, WA. You can read the transcript by Geof Glass on his blog “Eben Moglen on Free Software and Social Justice“.

Heres a look at some of what he said.

We have brought forward now the possibility of distributing everything that every public education system uses freely everywhere to everyone: true universal public education for the first time.

You and I, and the people who came before us, have been rolling a very large rock uphill a very long time. We wanted freedom of knowledge in a world that didn’t give it, which burned people for their scientific or religious beliefs. We wanted democracy, by which we meant originally the rule of the many by the many, and the subjection of today’s rulers to the force of law. And we wanted a world in which distinctions among persons were based not on the color of skin, or even the content of character, but just the choices that people make in their own lives. We wanted the poor to have enough, and the rich to cease to suffer from the diseases of too much. We wanted a world in which everybody had a roof, and everybody had enough to eat, and all the children went to school. And we were told, always, that it was impossible.

In other words, the free world now produces technology whose ability to reorient power in the larger traditional economy is very great. We have magnets; we can move the iron filings around. We can also change the infrastructure of social life. That OLPC has every textbook on earth. That OLPC is a free MIT education. That OLPC is a hand-powered thick-net router. When you close the lid as a kid and put it in the shelf at night, the main CPU shuts down – but the 802.11 gear stays running all night long on the last few pulls of the string. And it routes packets all night long and it keeps the mesh. The village is a mesh when the kids have green or purple or orange boxes. And all you need’s a downspout somewhere, and the village is on the Net. And when the village is on the Net, everybody in the village is a producer of something: services, knowledge, culture, art, YouTube TV.

But a little more political consciousness about it and a more attempt to get other people to understand not just “what” but “why” would help a lot. Because people are getting used to the “what”.

“Oh yeah, Firefox, I use it all the time.”

“Why?”

“Why, cuz Internet…”

“No no no no no. Not why do you use it, why does it exist?”

“Oh I dunno, some people did it.”

That’s the moment, all right, that’s the moment, that’s the one where that annoying Stallman voice should enter the mind, okay. Free As In Freedom, Free As In Freedom, tell people it’s free as in freedom. Tell them that if you don’t tell them anything else. Because they need to know.

We’ve spent a long time hunting for freedom. Many of us lost our lives trying to get it more than once. We have sacrificed a great deal for generations, and the people who have sacrificed most we honor most when we can remember them. And some of them have been entirely forgotten. Some of us are likely to be forgotten too. And the sacrifices we make aren’t all going to go with monuments and honors. But they’re all going to contribute to the end. The end is a good end if we do it right. We have been looking for freedom for a very long time. The difference is, this time, we win.

Visit the Internet Archive to download the video/audio. You have to check this one out.

Spoken Wikipedia

I was looking at Wikipedia bots and stumbled across the rss feed for Spoken Wikipedia.

The WikiProject Spoken Wikipedia aims to produce recordings of Wikipedia articles being read aloud. See Spoken articles for articles that have already been recorded, and Requests for instructions on how to request a recording of a particular article.

I modified bashpodder to try and make it easier for my friends to download all the files. If you use a graphical interface then after you download spoken wikipedia.tar.gz, you can probably right click on it then select extract then go into the wikipedia_spoken folder and double click spoken_wikipedia.sh or open a terminal and copy this command.

wget http://ia310142.us.archive.org/1/items/Blogs_01/spoken_wikipedia.tar.gz ; tar -xzvf spoken_wikipedia.tar.gz ;./spoken_wikipedia/spoken_wikipedia.sh

From then on just run ./spoken_wikipedia.sh when you want to continue downloading. It will continue where it left off so maybe run this one before bed. This is another nice thing to distribute in your local area.

Freeing the Mind

Free Software and the Death of Proprietary Culture – Eben Moglen*

Free Thinking

I’ve been thinking about Libre Software and networked learning. I revisited a speech given by Eben Moglen back in 2003. It makes much more sense to read the whole speech but lets look at some of what he said.

The conversion to digital technology means that every work of utility or beauty, every computer program, every piece of music, every piece of visual or literary art, every piece of video, every useful piece of information–train schedule, university curriculum, map, chart–every piece of useful or beautiful information can be distributed to everybody at the same cost that it can be distributed to anybody. For the first time in human history, we face an economy in which the most important goods have zero marginal cost. And the transformation to digital methods of production and distribution therefore poses to the twenty-first century a fundamental moral problem. If I can provide to everyone all goods of intellectual value or beauty, for the same price that I can provide the first copy of those works to anyone, why is it ever moral to exclude anyone from anything? If you could feed everyone on earth at the cost of baking one loaf and pressing a button, what would be the moral case for charging more for bread than some people could afford to pay? This represents the difficulty at which we find ourselves straining at the opening of the twenty-first century.

Vast institutions are committed to the social philosophy that only exclusionary practices inevitably involving the large-scale continuance of unnecessary ignorance are essential to the production of useful information. Vast economic rents are being extracted from the world, and enormous numbers of people are going unfulfilled in intellectual and aesthetic needs that we can provide for. One inevitable consequence of the continuance of that approach is that people are forbidden to share.

When I began working as a computer programmer for pay, in the early 1970s, there was a goal. Software developers had a purpose. The purpose was embodied in a four-word phrase: “Write once, run everywhere.” It meant, develop software which can be made to run on all of the hardware that even then rather heterogeneously populated society. It was, from the point of view of venture-capital funded, profit-making, investor-owned industries, an impossible goal, never achieved. We did it. GNU, Linux, and all the other thousands of programs in the free software world, run, as Rita correctly said, on everything. From the palmtop, the cell phone, and the single-purpose appliance–like the digital camera and the personal video recorder–to the mainframe. There was one purpose to software engineering overall throughout my lifetime, and we did it. The best-funded monopoly in the history of the world does not even try.

Thus we observe the new political economy of software. If you have a network and you share, you can achieve the ethical goal of allowing everybody to understand, to improve, to find and fix bugs, to create better software, and to share information in a way that allows them to improve their technical skills. Free software is the single greatest technical library on earth. I say that because free software is the only field where a person can go from naiveté, to the state of the art, in everything that a particular field contains, solely by reading material that is universally available at no cost everywhere the network exists. That is the single, greatest intellectual capital development program in the world. The legal system that makes that possible, the GNU General Public License, with which I have some intimate experience, achieves the creation of a greater and more extensive knowledge exchange program than any other in the world, at no cost. When my colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology decided to put their entire curriculum on the web–every course, every teaching material, every problem set, every examination–they were adopting the recognition that the principle of Western science, the principle of free software, and the principle of non-exclusion are the path of development for the twenty-first century, a proposition which has its capitalist echo in the behavior of IBM. But for a moment, I just want to concentrate your attention on the moral and political dimension of that activity.

This is the free software movement. I want to be very clear about that. The idea of “Open Source Software” is software that people can read, and I am for that. But it is important to understand that that inadequately describes what we were trying to do, or why. Dylan Thomas refers in “The Child’s Christmas in Wales” to the ideal Christmas present of the book that told everything about the wasp, except why. This is, from my point of view, the problem with the discussion about Open Source: it tells you everything, except why. I have now told you why.

For this reason, again I want to point out that the phrase “Open Source” does not capture what is really happening. What we are actually deciding is whether to free the network to be a network, or to control the network as a form of broadcasting–a form of proprietary distribution by a few favored individuals in which the remaining individuals are regarded as–the phrase is so familiar it rolls off the tongue without a second look–consumers. Meaning, non-producers, non-creators. We have become so accustomed to that model of that understanding of the human mind–that a few people create and the others consume–that we do not even recognize when we say it what it implies about the people in general. How anti-democratic our basic assumption is: there are some creators, and there are consumers. This is the moral question of the age. We mean to solve it. By freeing the technology that runs the network, we change the way the network operates as a connector of human minds. That’s the goal.

I hope find time to read the whole thing. The original image by by paul goyette AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved.

Its NOT free trade if there is an agreement

Australia is about to be turned into a prison colony again.

The $65,000 question: do you own an iPod?

Owning an iPod, camera phone or a DVD recorder might be enough to land you in jail or lumbered with a large fine under the Federal Government’s proposed new changes to the copyright laws, experts warn.

As you know I’m a big fan of Free Software, Free Knowledge and Free Culture and the word Free is used because the person is free, its not a matter of zero price so I’m disgusted about how corrupt politicians try to get away with making stupid laws but this one wont really hurt me, I hope this will push you to explore the free world because you can make authorized copies of all the works and won’t have to deal with this problem besides all that do you really enjoy being a consumer of all that watered down phony read only once crap.