Torvalds on Open-Source Identity

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Linux founder Linus Torvalds this week talked to Computerworld about the development of Linux over the past two decades. He was of course asked about his views on Windows 7 and his views on the development cycle

Windows 7 being better than Vista is saying a lot. Microsoft may have a huge PR advantage as people will compare it to Vista and think it is good so “angels will sing again” like they did with Windows 95 compared to Windows 3.1. So maybe Microsoft did this on purpose.

He also talked about what 2009 had in store for the Linux desktop;

Look at what Firefox has achieved and how it is creeping up on Windows. It is important projects like Firefox and OpenOffice.org which are spreading the whole notion of open source wider. They work cross-platform and the project shouldn’t be tied to the platform. People will realise the lack of tie-in means you can chose a platform and that is much healthier from the market standpoint than having to make a platform decision for an application.

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Small Business SEO – Why You Can’t Live Without It

small-busOne of the reasons small business can’t live without SEO is that fact that it is one of the only marketing channels available where the smaller players can compete with, and even trump big business.

Consider the marketing alternatives and the costs associated with achieving global exposure on TV, Radio or Newspaper?

So how exactly can small business utilise search marketing to compete and even thrive on the web while big business can’t?

1. Focus on the Longtail

The basic premise of the Longtail is that our culture and economy is shifting away from mainstream products and markets to a number of small, specific niches. Many of the typical constraints such as production, distribution and marketing are changing and being alleviated by technology and the internet.

Take a big site like Amazon, they must cover all their bases and sell a large number of unique items in smaller quantity. However, when consumers are faced with unlimited choice, shopping around to get exactly what you’re after becomes much easier. Niches are so successful because they allow people to satisfy and fulfil their specific interests.

With SEO it is easy to measure exactly how profitable your different niches are so that you can focus on the highest performing ones.

2. Unlimited Ad Budget

Traditional marketing tells us that we need to ‘set a budget’ for our marketing costs. When you can measure the exact cost of a conversion, why not simply keep purchasing ads while it’s profitable? As long as every ad click is costing you less than you’re making from that click (accounting for overheads), then there’s no reason to threshold your budget.

In big business, how often have you heard a marketer tell you ‘we don’t have the budget for that at the moment‘?

As a small business, armed with the tangible information of digital ads, you can now say ‘we have an unlimited budget for ads that work‘.

3. Create Valuable Alliances

Unburdened by bureaucracy, small business can easily align with other business’ when it’s mutually beneficial. Big business can often be slow to change because of procedures and legal issues making it take much longer to create strategic partnerships.

Ask your strategic partners to link to you and they will do your marketing for you. Make it easy and beneficial for them to talk about you and they won’t be able to help themselves.

4. The Personal Touch

How often have you phoned a call centre, only to be greeted by a faceless voice that tells you they can’t help because ‘it’s not standard procedure‘?

Small business has the luxury of taking the time to add that personal touch. If it makes sense to both the business and the customer, why not break the rules? When you can give people something they don’t expect you’re giving them a reason to remember and talk about you.

Rather than trying to disguise it, emphasise the fact that you’re small. Shout out the advantages to the customer; lower overheads, faster responses and savings passed onto the customer.

5. Change Often, and Quickly

With so many freely available research tools, it’s easy to stay on top of trends and discover new niches. When there is a shift in direction in a market, how long does it take a big business to react?

Small business has the advantage of flexibility. If it makes sense to change, you can do something totally different tomorrow. If it doesn’t work out, change again.

This post was written by Jack Archbold, a contributing author to Superuser and freelance SEO and Trainer.

Photo by Fisserman.

Pass the Hammer Please..

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Computer magazine Which this week warns of the threat of identity theft and advises the public to dispose of hard drives carefully. I would encourage anyone to recycle and re-use computers where possible but think carefully before diposing of a hard drive or laptop.

There are many a case of identity theft caused by the seemingly safe disposal of a PC, as readily available software can easily recover deleted files which the user presumes are gone forever. The Inquirer

This is no joke, according to Sarah Kidner, Editor at Which? Computing, “PCs contain more valuable personal information than ever as people increasingly shop online, use social networking sites and take digital photos. It sounds extreme, but the only way to be 100 per cent safe is to smash your hard drive into smithereens.”

There are some Open Source  alternatives to the hammer or drill, which claim to safely wipe  hard drives such as DBAN.

Darik’s Boot and Nuke (“DBAN”) is a self-contained boot disk that securely wipes the hard disks of most computers. DBAN will automatically and completely delete the contents of any hard disk that it can detect, which makes it an appropriate utility for bulk or emergency data destruction.

I think I will take the advice from Which, so if you see me running around wielding a hammer don’t worry its not pms its just simple precautionary measures.

MediaWiki Skins Design book review

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A couple of months back I was contacted by Jude from Packt, a UK based publishing company specializing in focused IT books, she was looking for people to review the book “MediaWiki Skins Design” and offered to send me a copy.

I accepted the offer and think it’s a really useful book for anyone working with mediawiki. Part of the book walks you through how to create your own mediawiki skin, some people might be familiar with the term theme, for mediawiki they are called skins. If your thinking of making your own skin this book will save you a lot of time.

The description on this page gives a better summary then I could write. Some of the things I like is the info about extensions, things like how to integrate twitter, how to use a lightbox to display images when people clicked on them and how to display rss feeds.

I’ve been tinkering with and extending mediawiki for quite a while and I’m happy to promote this book. It would be nice if a copy was available online under a free license. If youve been given the task of making a nice skin for mediawiki then this book is worth a look.

OpenTV – Free and Open Source YouTube TV

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Yet another great Free and Open Source offering from Xstreet SL Marketplace. The OpenTV enables you to play videos from YouTube on parcels that you own in Second Life. It is simple, easy to use, and powerful. It is also Open Source so feel free to modify and distribute it under the terms of the GPLv3.

Features:

  • Load URLS from YouTube
  • Customizable list of Channels
  • Set Screen Size (4:3, 16:9, … )
  • Full Permissions
  • Completely Free and Open (GPLv3 Licence)

Instructions on how to use the TV can be found here.