Free Software in the Classroom

DesktopThere’s a nice story at Newsforge called A free education. It tells the story of how Sean “Nz17” Robinson solved a problem for his sisters second grade primary school class by introducing them to free software.

Someone could finish the Games that Empower project by learning how to use the Nullsoft Scriptable Install System, I might get time, it looks like it would be handy for distributing free software on windows. All the popular GNU/Linux distributions usually come with a nice collection of educational software, games and educational games e.g KDE Edutainment project, DebianEdu, Edubuntu and Fedora OLPC.

Squeak and Free Software

The Worlds of SqueakThe original Squeak release is available under APSL2. The APSL2 is listed as a GPL-Incompatible, Free Software License so this means we have a version of Squeak that is Free Software.

“This is a free software license, incompatible with the GNU GPL. We recommend that you not use this license for new software that you write, but it is ok to use and improve the software released under this license. More explanation is available. “

Thats good news. You can read the discussion on the Squeak-dev mailing list for more info.

Here’s my Squeak and Croquet project research page. I’ll update it soon. Take a look at the Squeaklet Demo and the Squeak and Croquet page at the wiki s growing as well.

DEFECTIVE BY DESIGN

Eliminate DRMNewsforge has the story FSF launches anti-DRM campaign outside WinHEC 2006

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) launched its anti-Digital Rights Management (DRM) campaign in Seattle this morning. When attendees of the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) 2006 arrived at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center to hear a keynote address by Bill Gates, a small group of FSF members and their local allies were waiting to greet them, dressed in yellow hazmat suits and handing out pamphlets explaining that Microsoft products are — in the words of the key slogan for the campaign — “defective by design” because of the DRM technologies included in them.

The FSF has created the defectivebydesign.org Web site.

Blog Update

I updated my blog to WordPress 2.0.2 and decided to clean it up and make sure its valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional, you can test that its Valid XHTML . Pretty happy about that, originally I installed every plugin I could find and didn’t really think I’d get into blogging, there’s a lot of really useful plugins. Lately I’ve been looking at the plugins that use AJAX.

As you can see I changed the theme and made a few changes, recently I noticed that displaying comments might be a good idea, I also changed the setting that will allow users that have had an approved comment to post unmoderated comments. I also added a poll. So please if you visit the blog add a comment and vote on the poll.

Fedora Core 5 review

Fedora Core 5 DesktopI wrote a Fedora Core 5 review on the wiki. Its really short, it describes the install and has screenshots showing the Gnome desktop environment. If your totally clueless about the GNU/Linux desktop then this should give you an idea of what it looks like and some of the applications you can run.

Elephants Dream

Sorry to copy this straight from Slashdot but its looks good.

This month has seen the internet release of the first 3D ‘Open Movie’, Elephants Dream.” From the site: “The 3D animated short ‘Elephants Dream’ will today be released as a free and public download. This is the final stage of a successfully completed Open Movie project which has been community-financed, using only Open Source tools, and opening up the movie itself as well as the entire studio database for everyone to re-use and learn from. The movie and production files are licensed as Creative Commons Attribution 2.5, which only requires a proper crediting for public screening, re-using and distribution.”

Wikipedia entry for Elephants Dream.

Its interesting to see works of art and entertainment being free.

Podcast Generator 0.8 Released

Podcast GeneratorPodcaster Generator 0.8 is out. I’ve been using and modifying this project. I made some minor changes to the code and here’s a screenshot of the changes I made to the administration menu. You also get a glimpse of the gnome desktop and firefox web browser in action.

Alberto Betella released 0.8 this morning so I’ll start using it. His code is much nicer than mine. Here’s the changes.

“The new version of Podcast Generator (0.8) has been just released. A lot of new features have been added:

– The script now works with any type of media file: now you can easily create also a video podcast!
– Password protected administration.
– Detailed and highly customizable configuration file.
– Title and description fields shown in the “recent podcasts” and “all podcasts” pages.
– Easily customizable template pages via css.
– External template files; you can easily include Podcast Generator in existing websites.
– Xml feed improvements to meet w3c directives.
– Automatically add timestamp to the filename of uploaded files.
– Rename file on upload if already exists.
– Ask for confirmation on file removing.
– External script language file.
– Fixed other bugs… “

I also updated my Podcasting for windows Users Guide. I’m mostly using the Superuser Wiki for new projects, I’ll develop the wiki then convert the most useful works into Learning Objects in the 5 different formats, the strange thing is, when I look at the logs, most people download the PDF when the zip archives have the documents in all formats.

I like Alberto’s project a lot, I’ve written a simple help desk system and a few other projects that use PHP and MySQL and one of my friends is writing a web based user management tool for his school so I might brush up on my skills and see if I can help out. Alberto’s University is using it so perhaps some AU Uni’s might find it useful as well.

Games that Empower

Happy PLayer I put together a project called Games that empower.

Its a collection of Free, Libre and Open source games and a simple way for people to download them.

There’s been a lot of hype about the value of game based learning in education lately so I hope this project is useful to some of them. Recently a few of the teachers I’ve met seem to focus on what they call social justice and the issue of free as in gratis so perhaps this project can be helpful to people struggling financially as well. They can avoid spyware, adware, malware and violating copyright by using these games.

Feel free to spread it around, I know if I had more time for computer games I would enjoy stumbling across this project.

UPDATE: The list is over 3 years old now so the download links aren’t likely to work, visit the games website to download them.

Libre Software collaborative real-time editor

Wikipedia: Gobby

Gobby is a free software collaborative real-time editor available on Windows and Unix-like platforms. It is confirmed to run on the Mac OS X platform, albeit not natively but using Apple’s X11 instead.”

I’ve been using Gobby with colleagues and we find it really useful.

I put together a short Gobby demo video . It wasn’t really planned but it shows how it could be used. It seems like it could be useful for educational purposes but I don’t have much more info at this stage. Its multi-user, you can work on multiple documents, it runs on most of the operating systems we use.

If you have time, its definately worth a look.

Eventful weekend

A bit of a late post, one day I might have a mobile phone that can take pics and send email, I’m not big on mobile phones, anyway I enjoyed the Buddha’s birthday festival, the food was good, the entertainment and events were excellent. I hope some of those rituals work.

At his birth, seven lotus flowers sprung up beneath his feet as he walked – pointing one hand to the sky and ground he said “in the heaven above and earth below, I vow to liberate all who suffer in these three realms”.

I also went to HUMBUG again, thats 3 meeting in a row, I’ll have to consider becoming a member. They meet fortnightly at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. There were quite a few people this time and some of them brought babies so there was a bit of a family vibe. The usual collection of academics and unix gurus were there wandering around helping out newbies and discussing computer science.

I had a few things planned for this meeting, last meeting my power supply died just after I setup. I updated my system and we started testing croquet. After my mate configured his firewall we were able to see each others worlds and open a portal so he joined my world and I created a project that we worked on together, I showed him how to reuse Squeak projects in Croquet. He hadn’t really explored croquet so we went on a tour. A few of the guru’s had gatherred around and were asking about croquet which was good because I don’t have an academic background so its nice to hear what they think about it and hopefully they will use it.

Here’s some movies on Croquet:

  • Croquet Intro
  • Croquet Intro2
  • Croquet Intro3
  • Croquet for immersive language intstruction

Check out the edubuntu desktop background, those hardcore playfully clever programmers think it rocks…