Today is my girl’s birthday. Because we are the silly geeks that we are, I thought she might like some silly “mag cover” pics. I got up at 5am and opened the GIMP on my new gPC (upcoming post on that), started playing with it and here are the results. Let me know when it’s your birthday and send a pic if you want the same treatment. ;-)


And, since it’s Madison’s birthday sometime this month, here’s our other birthday girl!

Pet Fancy

Anyone who knows me, or knows of me, is aware that I use Free and Open Source Software; painfully aware, in fact. I never shut up about it. The torrent of sarcastic anti-Microsoft remarks must get tiresome. The inevitable lecture on the advantages of FOSS over proprietary systems is endured (usually) with patient grace by my friends and family. Although, I suspect, they stay on my good side so that I continue to provide free tech support.

So why, why am I using a proprietary browser?

It’s simple, really. It’s better. Working on this ten year old Dell PC with Ubuntu 7.10 GNOME desktop, struggling along with 256MB RAM memory and 6GB disk space, Firefox (my heretofore favorite browser) just isn’t cutting it. The memory leaks, freezing and crashing are too frustrating. I’m not a religious man. I’m eminently practical. I use what works. Given a choice, I’ll always choose a FOSS solution. But I will always choose the best solution, for myself and my clients. For a Web browser, that solution is Opera.

Every now and then I read a post and smack myself in the head, saying “Why didn’t I think to blog that!” I’m sure we’ve all had that experience. Today, it was this post from Green Colibri.  I’ve been using Blackle as an eco-friendly alternative to the Google home page since last year. There were about 140,000 Watt hours savedat that time; as of this writing, it’s 479,622.172 Watt hours saved. I think I Twittered about it, but I never thought to blog it. So read the post by oyvind and use start using Blackle for searches. It’s good for the environment and it looks much cooler.

Okay, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t run Linux, BUT!

I’ve just discovered a fun site, Everyday Weekender (yeah, I know, the name embodies my personal philosophy of life). It’s filled with useful info on weekend fun, food, and more, but this post is the one that got me. RealWorldMom has been talking about getting one of these suckers for a year. Until we do, she’ll have to stand on a chair with the dust-vac!

The Inflatable Soapbox is now rated E for Excellent! It’s the first blog award I’ve received; indeed, the first award of any kind in quite a few years. Thanks to Stacey of RealWorldMom! Stacey is a first class blogger, be sure to check out her site! I introduced her to blogging just a few months  ago and she’s already kicking my butt! :-)

It is my pleasant but difficult duty to now choose ten blogs deserving of this award. I could spend all day reading the great blogs I’ve found, and still not get to all my favorites. But here, in no special order,  are the top ten on my list. I chose them  for the quality of their writing, subject matter, humor, and dedication to blogging:

Who Knew? A Writer’s Blog


Just A Girl In Short Shorts Talking About Whatever

Tattling On

allfacebook – the unofficial facebook blog

Bliss in Bloom

Failure is the Key to Success

The Kansas Curmudgeon

Howl @ The Moon

And, finally, because she so richly deserves it,

Real World Mom

By accepting this Excellent Blog Award, you have to award it to 10 more people whose blog you find Excellent Award worthy. You can give it to as many people as you want – even those that have received it already, but please award at least 10 people.

Thank you all for your efforts and thanks, Stacey, for this recognition.

EDIT: Here’s the code for the award. Paste it into your sidebar or wherever you’d like. (Thanks, Veronica!)
2nd EDIT: Fixed some blog names I screwed up. Oopsies! :)

Burning Windows

‘To describe writing as ” Orwellian ” means that it expresses a pessimistic view of a dull, uniform world where every aspect of life is controlled and organized by the State.’1 This is certainly an accurate description of my writing on the subject of Microsoft (and corporate culture in general). I consider myself a desktop revolutionary, a guerilla sysadmin, a software freedom fighter. I’m one of a growing number of PC techs for whom the phrase “Format C:” (or, more likely, fdisk /dev/sda) is the answer to the many “How do I fix my Windows PC?” questions we get. Microsoft wants to control every aspect of your desktop, server and online experience. They have failed miserably with the latter two, but have completely dominated – through marketing and unfair business practices, rather than technical superiority – the desktop.Why don’t more people use Linux? It’s more powerful, more secure, infinitely customizable… and it’s free.  What’s the problem?

Slackware was my first Linux, back in 1995. It was the Linux distro in those days, largely because of an easier menu-driven installation process. I think installation is even easier than Windows now.  But there are two areas that are always an obstacle for less experienced users: partitioning and drivers. These areas are difficult not because of any inherent flaw in Linux, but because of the Microsoft stranglehold on the desktop.

If you are installing Linux on a box of it’s own, partitioning isn’t any different than a Windows installation: it happens without user intervention. It’s only because many users are installing on a Windows box and wish to dual-boot, that the Linux installer has to shrink the existing NTFS or VFAT partition and create other partitions for itself. This is usually done flawlessly, provided the user has some idea of what is going on. I would suggest that anyone who thinks this is a defect of Linux try to install Windows in a dual-boot config on a PC where Linux is already installed and see how well Microsoft handles that. ;-)

The second issue, driver availability, is due to the lack of response of hardware manufactures to demands from the Linux community for support. Let’s face it, it takes time and money to develop drivers and most companies can’t justify investing in a driver for less than two percent of the desktop market, especially if they will be pressured to release the code as open source. As Linux desktop usage grows, this will change. Indeed, it has already begun. Check out the rivalry between nVidia and ATI for producing the best driver support for Linux users (especially the hardcore gaming crowd).

Unfortunately, businesses are notoriously slow to adopt “new” technology, even when it will save them time, money and the hassle of the Microsoft malware machine. So, those of us who support Windows users must use Windows as well. That is why I no longer support Microsoft products. I will offer help in migrating to a superior platform, be it GNU/Linux, BSD, Mac OS/X, or Solaris. But I will no longer waste my time and effort supporting a system of the clueless, by the clueless, and for the clueless. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. ;-)

1.  ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ – George Orwell, first published by Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd., 1949
This introduction by Gwyneth Roberts,  © Longman Group Limited, 1983

source: CNNMoney

You don’t think Google is making them nervous, do you? The problem with this deal is that Yahoo is now an old school company. They’re stale, trying to keep up rather than leading the way. And what is this deal going to do for Yahoo? You don’t find any company staler and more old school than Microsoft. But this is how The Beast from Redmond approaches every challenge: if you can’t beat them with technology, buy your way out of it. This is similar to their reasoning for “supporting” Linux. Picture this, if you will: Ford makes an offer to buy GM because those pesky Japanese are starting to make pretty good cars.  Clueless! It’s all about evolution, folks. Look around you and tell me where the 500 lb gorilla is? Hiding in the jungle eating grubs while the higher primates are dining in style and feeling sorry for the poor bastard.

source: InfoWorld

This is because the technologically-challenged twits that make the business calls at large companies feel safe and snuggly in the arms of the Evil Empire. It’s like the old saying, “No one ever got fired for choosing IBM.” Why can’t Novell just deal with this? Because the CXX-level twits at Renault insist on using WinDoze on the desktop. So, “interoperability” is important. Try this for a solution, twits: Use SLED on the desktop and SLES in the server room. Voilà, instant interoperability. And savings. And control. Using Windows is like letting crack dealers sell from your front door: soon it’s their house, not yours.

I think it’s ironic that Ms. Hauser, a mouthpiece for the Dark Side, ackowledges that “Customers have asked for solutions to make Microsoft products work better with other platforms” and, knowing that Microsoft can’t improve it’s own product, offers Linux as a solution.

Sign on Steve Ballmer’s desk: “If it weren’t for idiots, I wouldn’t have a job.”

cre8Buzz! Logo

I’m enjoying this new site so much! Cre8Buzz! is a friendly network of talented people trying to spread the word of their projects while making friends and contacts. Because of the ranking system, and the communities, it is easy to quickly find talented people in many fields. Two things I noticed immediately: the warm welcome from the community and the lack of css themes. Both may be attributable to the relatively small size of the user group.

BumbleBee Theme

The Buzz, as some users call it, just launched recently. Many users keep the default theme, which is clean and functional. Some try using Myspace themes with predictably horrendous results. Some members use themes from khenny of Quartz Mountain Communications, a California-based web design studio. His themes are very good but limited in number. As some of you may know, I love to play with themes, changing them to suit my mood. So I’ve started saving them to where they are available to all. While the site is not “live” yet, the themes can be accessed now. I hope to get the site built up soon, with a snappier look and an upload facility so everyone can share. As always, feedback is welcome.

So come join in the fun, sign up on Cre8Buzz! and use my themes or create your own. Stop by my page and give a shout out to my friends Antman, RealWorldMom and piper of love. They all have great profiles and links to some really slamming blogs of their own. Peace.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Messenger primed for Mercury pass

This is exciting! I remember watching the Apollo missions as a kid. When the Eagle landed in July of 1969, one month prior to my ninth birthday, I could hardly contain myself. I remember watching the (mostly) men in the control room cheering and shaking hands. I felt joined to them, a part of that great achievement. We had done that; humans had left Earth, gone to another world, and were to return home. It fueled an already stong interest in science, math and engineering that I still enjoy today.

Now, I wonder how much more I’ll see in this life. The rapid pace of technological advances seems driven more by consumer demand for sleek gadgets (which, I confess, I’m not immune to), instant and constant communication, and undoubtedly, porn. I wonder where the space program would be if we could increase it’s funding by half of the total dollars spent on Pro football, cell phones and porn ads? After all, space exploration might be what saves our species from destruction. But, even if we don’t survive the next asteroid collision, at least the NY Giants won today.

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