Desktop Blog posters

I’ve been playing around with Gnome Blog Entry poster and BloGTK. They are both good, BloGTK has more features and some nice options for tagging.

To learn about these applications all I did was use the package manager that comes with Edubuntu and the word blog as a keyword for searhing through the packages, click a little box, hit apply and 2 minutes later I have 2 new powerful tools for blogging. Gnu/Linux is incredible.

I’ve almost finished my quick look at Fedora Core 5 walkthrough, at this point I think it was easier to install, but so far Edubuntu is looking like its user friendly for both newbies and power users.

Either way they are both excellent. Its such a shame the majority of the Edu peeps I know aren’t using the best tools for the job, we’re limited to showing them the best of free software that runs on windows.

Look at the pain that some of Australia’s most talented programmers go through just to try and achieve interoperability and compatability with those proprietary systems. Andrew Tridgell. MS vs EC

Libre Graphics Meeting

Libre Graphics MeetingA friend invited me to HUMBUG again and they had a talk on Libre Graphics.

Andy Fitzsimon delivered a postmortem of the Libre Graphics Meeting that was held on 17-19 March, 2006 in Lyon, France. Topics covered included Inkscape, The Gimp and Scribus.

He gave an awesome presentation on Libre Graphics, he was running the XGL desktop and demonstrating how the different applications integrate with the desktop. It was impressive, he was dragging and dropping all kinds of things between the different applications and really showing off the best of free software graphics applications.

I’d used most of those applications for doing basic things, I’m not sure if Andy is a professional graphic artist or programmer but he had mad skills in using those applications, the stand outs for me were inkscape and xara.

” Inkscape is a vector drawing program with capabilities similar to Illustrator, Freehand, and CorelDraw. It uses the W3C standard SVG as its native document format.”

“What makes Xara stand-out from the crowd is the rendering performance (by far the fastest drawing program available, on any platform), it’s advanced rendering techniques that enable incredibly realistic drawings, that look like those produced by no other drawing software, it’s ease of use and slick, clutter-free user interface.”

Libre Graphics Meeting Homepage

Looking forward to spending more time using them. You can download them online.

Annual Buddha Birthday Festival on South bank

A friend sent me an email about this and I’m thinking about going.

Buddha Birthday Festival

“3 days of free activities for all the family. Kicking off on Friday 5th May at midday. Heralded as the largest multicultural event in Brisbane over 200,000 people from all walks of life joined in last year to celebrate the birth of the Buddha some 2500 years ago.

This years theme is Harmony in Diversity – promoting a peaceful existence and appreciation of our unique multicultural identity.”

If you would like to volunteer I’ve hosted the form for volunteering BBF06, I couldn’t find it online so I hope thats ok.

Wikipedia info about Buddha.

Appamadavagga “Mindfulness” (verses 21-32)
“Mindful among the unmindful, wide awake among the sleeping, the man of good understanding forges ahead like a swift horse outdistancing a feeble hack.”

Newbies have all the fun

Day two of running Fedora Core 5 and the Gnome desktop. I usually just use Live CD’s to see how things are going with the desktop environment, I’ve decided I’m going to use this as my desktop system and take a newbie approach, it seems like the logical thing to do after the Free Software on windows projects, I have a couple projects left to release and after that work on showing users that its much better to use a Free Software operating system.

I have a few drives lying around with different versions of different distro’s for developing quite a few different projects. I viewed Slackware as my main system, mostly compiled from source and if I couldn’t do something with GNU Emacs it wasn’t worth doing, lol. Thats not entirely true but the thing I’ve been looking at is some of the work done by computer scientists in education with kids. When I was a kid we used to take our Commodore 64’s to computer club on the weekends, usually held at a school and just like we were encouraged to share our toys and play together we would share our software and play computer games together, it was so much fun and these days kids are deprived of this experience and even worse they are told its wrong and that they are criminals even if they share the software that they get at no cost. Its not time to be uncompromising, not for me anyway.

XGL Desktop and old friends

XGL DesktopLast week I caught up with an old friend, he was running Kubuntu and this very nice looking 3D desktop. Here’s the info from Wikipedia : XGL, Compiz. If your not going to install it, you’ll need to follow the external links and watch a video. It shows off the GNU/Linux destop and is very pleasing to the eye.

There’s many features, I’ll try to describe a few. In the screenshot we see a cube, thats the desktop on each side of the cube, you can drag programs from one side of the cube to others and just spin and flip the cube because it looks cool. It looks like Bill Gates uses 3 screens to do a similar thing. Lets say on one desktop you are watching a movie, on another you are playing a game and on the one your using now you are browsing the web, rather than spin the cube, you can press alt-tab, a window appears and you can scroll through your programs and see your movie, whats happening in your game and switch to that application if thats what you want to do. Theres also some nice eye candy like the rain on your desktop and the way things spring out an fade away.

Michael put together a XGL howto that will hopefully help make it easier for people with a similar hardware profile. Michael works at a school and is also a member of HUMBUG, a local Unix user group so we ended up going to their fortnightly gathering. I’ve been there over the years and it was nice to see they had renovated, it was a typical mix of programmers, system admin types, newbies and people generally interested in computers looking for help and using the internet access.

I managed to get a copy of a Fedora Core 5 DVD that I installed on a spare hard disk drive that I’m using right now, the install was a “just click next next next” type install and I’m really happy with how easy it is to use. I also downloaded the software needed for the Fedora Core OLPC(One Laptop Per Child) Project, have a look at the demo of the process. I’ll try to set that up before the end of the day.
I also have a copy of Edubuntu and the Kororaa Live CD so I’ll check those out sometime soon.

A couple of programs I’m liking so far are Liferea and Ekiga. Liferea is a feed reader and the thing I like about it is that you can configure it to show a status icon in the system tray that will tell you when there’s new items. Ekiga is a free voice over ip and video conferencing application. Give me a call, my Voip URL is

Croquet Release coming soon

David_A_SmithDavid A. Smith made a comment on my blog today notifying me of a Croquet release coming soon. To be honest I’m blown away. Here’s some info about him from Wikipedia.

“David Alan Smith (born 1957 in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina) is an American computer scientist who has focused on interactive 3D and using 3D as a basis for new user environments and entertainment for almost twenty years.

In 1987, Smith created “The Colony,” the very first 3D interactive game and precursor to today’s first-person shooters.

He is currently one of six principal architects of the Croquet project

“Existing operating systems are like the castles that were owned by their respective Lords in the Middle Ages. They were the centers of power, a way to control the population and threaten the competition. Sometimes, a particular Lord would become overpowering, and he would declare himself as King. This was great for the King. And not too bad for the rest of the nobles, but in the end — technology progressed and people started blowing holes in the sides of the castles. The castles were eventually abandoned” -David A. Smith

This is excellent news, to have a team of experts working on an open source project that provides us with such an amazing tool that we really need means the future is looking brighter for our kids.

In Australia I’ve been following games in learning for around 2 years and I’m tempted to tell you exactly who the evil lords are and what they are doing with our governments money and what they are doing to our children. I can’t wait for the day we blow holes in the sides of their castles and our children run free and think freely.

Thank you David for making that day come closer.

Self organising problem solvers in education

The other day I recieved an email from Alberto Betella notifying me about his project. Its a PHP script which allows to upload mp3 audio files via web form and automatically create podcast rss w3c-compliant feeds. It’s called Podcast Generator.

Alberto is planning to add new major features (like mysql support, categories, new administration) within the next months and has also proposed to his university to create an educational podcasting service with his free script and they are very interested in it, despite it is a “beta” version, they are already testing it on their servers.

I’m happy about this for many reasons, a teacher thats using the podcasting for windows users guide had problems with the easypodcast stage in particular generating the rss feed, uploading the files and it doesn’t provide an easy way for teachers to manage the students work. The teacher manages the school intranet so Alberto’s project is a viable solution for him and his school. As another bonus he uses LAMP for teaching basic PHP and MySQL so the code doubles up as a learning resource for his students.

When I wrote that guide, this was the project I was searching for but I couldn’t find it, there are free webhosted services that do the same job but for schools that means somehow getting passed the internet filter,spending money on more bandwidth and not having control of their data so a big thank you to Alberto.

Personally this is a morale boost and motivates me to move creating my podcast up on my todo list. If anyone has any idea’s for the podcast, now would be the time to share your idea’s.

Communities that Value Freedom

I’ve been pretty lazy about posting to my blog regulary, I’m still not sure theres any value in sharing information whose only value to others is speculative. Maybe I just need to loosen up.

A few weeks ago I told some edu folks about the Web browsing and Web Feeds for windows Users guide and one of them pointed out that I wasn’t making it clear to people that they are free to distribute the cover image. When you read the Copyright page, I think it makes it clear. The thing was the cover image was using a Creative commons license and I wasn’t displaying the mark or any info about it. So he was right to point this out. Apart from one cover image all of the content in the guides are licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License which means they are free as in freedom, I’ve been using the word libre. It ensures that once Free, it remains Free. It implies the freedom to learn from, copy, adapt and use it for any purpose, contribute new insights and share these for the common good, you can also use them to do fundraising. It doesn’t mean I lose control of my work, for example if I had the opportunity to put the Australian coat of arms on it, I would be required to use a license that prohibits commercial distribution for that copy.

The thing I dont like about CC licenses is that they don’t require your work to be distributed in a form which is transparent. I like to support the Free Software Foundation and their values so I decided to contact Joe Crawford to ask him about his thoughts on this and whether he would dual license the image. I found the image on the Wikimedia Commons while I was searching for an image of a library, originally I wanted the name of the guide to have something to do with knowledge management. I only knew Joe as artlung but he provided a link to to his flickr album so I was able to contact him.

He gave me permission to use the photo in my work under the GNU Free Documentation License. It turned out that he is a big believer in the GPL and related licenses (and CC as well, for different reasons) and he’s delighted to have me use the photo. That was wonderful news to me, after looking at more of Joes work and chatting I added this message to the guide.

“Thanks to Joe Crawford for the image. He is a web designer and developer who co-founded and he lives in Simi Valley, California. You can find out more about him at

Joe is cool and a really good guy. Joes a Frank Zappa fan, I’ve been listening to some of his music lately, its pretty wild, I wouldn’t mind checking out the Absolutely Free Album. Wikipedia entry for Simi Valley

I usually use Galeon Web browser and recently updated to 2.0.1, when I’m not using libre and open source software on proprietary operating systems I get the full effects of green kryptonite so I’ve also been using firefox and Live Bookmarks and I’m noticing how easy it is to check the latest news, discuss it with people who share similar interests and how much time it saves. Well perhaps I just spend the new found spare time browsing even more web feeds and meeting more people with similar interests. I hope you get time to checkout the guide and find it useful and thanks again Joe.