Future

There are a couple of things on my mind at the moment. One of them is Microsoft's attitude towards the Open Source community. There has been a considerable amount of discussion on the Slug mailing lists of late about whether a speaker from Microsoft should be allowed to speak at a Slug meeting. The general conclusion that the list reached was that the talk that the Microsoft representative would be doing would not really be related to OSS/Linux, so there was no reason to have him talk at a meeting. Although I agree with this decision, there were a number of points raised at tonights Slug meeting which I think should be addressed further.

When I spoke about my opinion on Microsoft's anti-Linux strategies over the next year and a half, most people seemed to think that the issue of software patents warranted more attention. Although I agree that the issue of software patents is a _very_ important one, the issue of media attention and marketing deserve as much though, time, and effort.

Microsoft have made considerable moves recently in terms of drawing attention from Open Source Software and swaying the opinions of IT managers. These moves have been especially prominent in England with what the OSS community has labeled their "Magical Myth Busting Tour". Although these tours have been dismissed as nothing more than PR fluff, we need to take a look at the bigger picture, and why Microsoft is taking this approach.

I think that these PR stunts serve two purposes. First, to sway the opinions of the masses. Second, to learn as much about the Open Source community as they can. Why would they want to do this, I hear you say? Well, when you look at how long it is going to be before Microsoft release their next version of Windows, they've figured that due to the long amount of time that's going to pass, many of their current customers may begin to lean towards Linux. Of course, this is bad for Microsoft and they want to be able to react to this in the strongest way possible. As such, they are trying to find out as much about Open Source as they can. Then they can analyse all of the different routes they can take in response to Linux's growing popularity and market exposure. Who better to find out these weaknesses from than from the Open Source community itself? By running these roadshows, they are able to both market their products, but also find out the reasons behind why all of their potential customers are switching over to Linux.

Once this information has been collected, Microsoft will go full out in a PR onslaught against the Open Source community and the software that we produce. If you think what's been comming out of Redmond and it's associates is bad now, you ain't seen nothing yet. For them, this is do or die. Either they destroy OSS, or OSS destroys them. There is no middle ground like there is for us. The Open Source community can happily co-exist with Microsoft, but while OSS exists Microsoft market share will slowly but surely be eaten up.

We have a unique opportunity to for once take the fight to Microsoft. We are not restricted to the same software release schedule that they are, and we are able to constantly innovate and create in ways that they are not. Our software is better in many ways than theirs. Not only do we need to improve our own software, we need to take the fight to Microsoft directly. The next 18 months are both the most critical and historically important for the Open Source community - they're going to define OSS's place in the world.

Politik

It's been _way_ too long since I last blogged. Time to catch up a bit.

abc.net.au - PM: Garrett given the nod

I heard this radio broadcast last Wednesday, and was so infuriated by it I just couldn't resist writing about it. For the record, I hate the Libs with passion, I regard the Labor party as a bureaucracy, and I think the Greens are a bunch of extremists. However, i'm willing to live with the Greens and Labor because they are the lesser of three evils. I'm rather annoyed with the way the Labor party has been handling the whole Peter Garrett affair. There was no where near as much thought put into signing Garrett up to the party as what there should have been, and as such the Libs have capitalised on this. However, instead of attacking the Labor Party, the Libs see fit to attack Garret . "What?" I hear you say. "This is just Howard giving his opinion" - Yeah right! I seriously doubt he would listen to such music. Oh yes, i'm sure he would have heard it at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Olympic games, but I seriously doubt he would listen to such leftist rants in his spare time. I wonder if he listens to Rage Against the Machine, too? It would have to be one of the most snide and vicious remarks i've ever heard from Howard, and he should be ashamed of himself.

The Liberal Senator Eric Abetz was interviewed in the ABC radio programme "PM" about Garrett's apparent misleading of the Australian public about his electoral roll status. My favourite line from the transcript:

"It's very simple, it's very easy, and if Mr Garrett wants to enter public life, I think he'll have to understand the degree of public scrutiny as to the veracity of what he's asserting, can be made."

What cheek. Garrett entered public life in one form or another over 25 years ago - first as a frontman for Midnight Oil, and then running for the Australian Senate on the Nuclear Disarmament Party ticket. He lost by a small margin, but wouldn't one think that he'd suffered at least a small amount of media scrutiny throughout his election campaign? On the other hand Senator Abetz didn't effectively enter public life until 1980 when he became the Federal President of the Australian Liberal Students' Federation - at least two years after Peter Garrett started hitting it big with Midnight Oil.

By 1984 Garrett had had more real world experience with Australian politics than Senator Abetz. In fact, Senator Abetz entered the Senate after being selected to fill a vacancy that had arisen on the 22nd of February 1994 - 10 years after Garrett had lost his battle for the Senate seat. Since loosing his political race in 1984, Garrett recorded 4 albums with Midnight Oil, and performed "notably at Jabiluka in the Northern Territory's Kakadu National Park, Sao Paulo Brazil, Clayquot in Canada, and the anti Exxon Valdez performance on a truck top in the streets of New York." These performances, particularly the Exxon Valdez performance, brought a significant amount of both Australian and International media attention and public scrutiny to the band.

As such, one would deduct that not only has Garrett been in "public life" longer than Senator Abetz, but he has also experienced more media attention and public scrutiny than the Senator. Who is the Senator to think that he can lecture Mr Garrett about public life when he has had less experience with it than him?

When asked whether it could simply be an honest mistake on Mr Garrett's behalf, Senator Abetz replied:

"If it's an honest mistake, and as I said in earlier interviews, the benefit of the doubt does belong to Mr Garrett, but if it's an honest mistake, can I suggest to you the excuses have been far from honest."

Hmmm....Let's think about that one for a minute. "the benefit of the doubt does belong to Mr Garrett". Do you think he really beleives that? In our modern political age there is no such thing as "the benefit of the doubt" - it's all about who can blur the truth the quickest. Something that the Libs excel at. And this is exactly what the Libs are doing now.

I think that Mr Garrett is a victim of circumstance. He's probably made a few mistakes along the way with his standing on the electoral roll, but he's only human. Howard says that "if somebody hasn't voted on the last three occasions that had an opportunity to do so they can't be very passionate about the future of this country can they?"

If Howard really listened to the music of Midnight Oil he would know how passionate Mr Garrett is about the future of this country.

Mr Garrett was very smart in not responding to the comments, as per the ABC transcipt: "Peter Garrett was unavailable for interview."

No point in dignifying the comments of a bunch of political loonies.

Inexpectance

Argh...my head hurts. Being use to getting 8 hours of sleep a night for the last 4 weeks, last night came as a bit of a shock to me - only 3. I somehow managed to end up teaching my physics class at school today while my physics teacher was away. We're doing a unit on electricity, and I spent 50 minutes talking about how power is used in/by computers. I thought I went supprisingly well considering the circumstances, and the fact that I was talking out of my arse the entire time. I'd had a bright idea to show off some different types of power supplies during the lesson last night, so I ended lugging 10kg of computer equipment in my school bag. In the midst of all of this, somehow I ended up pulling apart one of the computers in the classroom and showing everyone how it worked.

I'm considering writing a wrapper for wlanctl-ng from the linux-wlan-ng package. I think that for people with prism2 usb wireless devices it's a tad lonely when it comes to configuring the card. It seems to work reasonably well in some distros, and in others, ...not so well. My programming skills are _really_ lacking (try non-existant), so it gives me an excuse to brush up a bit.

More than meets the eye

Yesterday myself and three other people from my music class at school went to St. Edmunds School for Students with Vision Impairment & Special Needs . It was a very enlightening experience, and a real eye opener. We each took a number of musical instruments along and demonstrated different musical techniques to the students. We even played a couple of songs which they all joined in!

Initially, we were all a bit daunted about going there, but it all subsided once we got to know what the kids where like. We got a really good reception, and we all soon warmed to each other.

Once we all played our instruments a bit, one of the students played Waltzing Matilda on the didgeridoo. Being a Tuba playing i'm always in wonder of players of the didgeridoo, as they've all mastered the art of circular breathing: a very difficult thing for brass players to do. What I didn't realise until we left was that he was both autistic _and_ blind. Truely inspirational.

Kids and people with autism and asperger's syndrome are not to be feared. So what if the person sitting alone in the corner of the train carriage may act a bit funny? They're a person just like you and me! Strike up a conversation. You'll be supprised to find out that there's more to them than meets the eye.

meta-creation_timestamp: 1087736225 meta-creation_date: Sun Jun 20 22:57:05 2004

Warbusing

Wireless is finally going on my laptop, so I decided to do some warbusing on the way home from school using Kismet. It's amazing how many people are running insecure APs at home. The trip is only 4 or so k's, but I managed to pick up 9 APs in the last k and a half. Of those nine, 3 of them weren't using WEP. It amazes me how indifferent people can be about security, even in their own homes. I would say to these people, "Would you leave your all of your windows and doors open in your house?". I see little difference between this and running an insecure AP at home.

Concert tonight with the school band. It'll be the first time i'll be playing euphonium at a performance. Exciting!

Found an interesting bug in some laptop ACPI implementations that's triggered in kernel 2.6.5. When the laptop's network card sends out a DHCP broadcast request it puts the laptop into suspend mode. Normally one would consider this a mild annoyance and move on. However, on some laptops it turns off the cpu fan as well. Hot stuff. Fixed in 2.6.6.

Continuum

It's been an eventful time since I last updated my blog.

Went up to Lismore on the weekend for the Slug roadtrip thing. It was an effort getting there, to say the least. Basically, I turned up 20 minutes before the flight left, and they wouldn't let me onto the plane, because it had already "boarded". I was rather annoyed, as all of the information that REX had sent me said that I needed to check in no later than 15 minutes before the flight departed. So there I was, stranded at Sydney airport with no cash, no phone, and no way to get home. I eventually managed to get a flight up to Ballina, and then one of the kind hearted Gluggers drove from Lismore to give me a lift (thanks David!)

There were numerous other things I could complain about (the weekend just wasn't working for me - they almost didn't recognise my booking at the motel I stayed at, people at the RSLs not beleiving I was under 18, etc), but it all turned out well in the end. I've done so much public speaking over the last few weeks that I no longer fear giving any type of presentation, and my talk on Linux and Wireless was well received.

Made it back to Sydney in the evening, but ended up not having any money to get home with (being a student sucks!), so I ended up waiting half an hour for my dad to drive from work to pick me up. Caught up on my reading of Heart of Darkness, so all was not lost.

When I got home I set the alarm for 6:30 so I could get to school on time the next day. Went to sleep. Woke up at 11:00am - the alarm was set to go off at 6:30PM, not am. Had to drag myself to school.

When I got home that afternoon I found out that my grandma's condition had deteriorated, and that she wasn't expected to last the week. She passed away Tuesday morning at 4:00am.

I'm reminded of her by these lyrics:

The long and winding road


That leads to your door


Will never disappear


I've seen that road before


It always leads me her


Lead me to you door



The wild and windy night


That the rain washed away


Has left a pool of tears


Crying for the day


Why leave me standing here


Let me know the way



Many times I've been alone


And many times I've cried


Any way you'll never know


The many ways I've tried



But still they lead me back


To the long winding road


You left me standing here


A long long time ago


Don't leave me waiting here


Lead me to your door



But still they lead me back


To the long winding road


You left me standing here


A long long time ago


Don't leave me waiting here


Lead me to your door


-- The Beatles, The Long and Winding Road

Darkness

Today we got new pieces in WYO, which i'm very happy about. One of them is "Danse Macabre" by Camille Saint Saens, and it happens to be one of my favourite pieces of classical music of all time - very beautiful yet sinister.

The story behind it goes that the cloaked figure of Death appears in a graveyard and starts playing a waltz. Slowly, creapy things come out from underneath the tombstones and dance to this eeiry waltz of Death. The waltz becomes more and more frantic as other creatures of the night come out and join in this frenetic midnight Death waltz. All of a sudden the sun comes out and the skeletons disappear into their graves. Death plays his tune one more time and disappears.

My laptop went in for service today. I'm getting a wireless card built into it as mentioned before, and i'm getting a battery upgrade, too. Still have to do a bit more work for this trip up to Goonellabah, though, so the sooner I get my laptop back the better!

We've recently received a number of new assignments at school (when do we not?), with the most interesting one being English Extension 1. We have to do a critical essay of two texts that have a direct relation to one another, ie, one being an appropriation of the other. I've chosen Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" and the movie "Apocalypse Now" as my two texts. I'm really looking forward to doing a bit of critical analysis of Apocalypse Now. It's easily one of the best war movies of all time, but it's also a fascinating look at how humans react under extreme amounts of pressure when thrown into an environment that has no resemblence to any prior experience they may have of had. Started to read Heart of Darkness and i'm finding it quite interesting, too. I've borrowed from the local library a book containing a collection of critical essays of Heart of Darkness, and some nice person before me has kindly annotated each essay with links to Apocalypse Now.

Improv is fun

It's been a busy week, and I haven't blogged as much as I would have liked, so now i'm making up for lost time.

We've had a few power outages recently. In the last one my webserver's hard disk got hosed, so i've had fun trying to get that fixed up and in working order. It seems to be running fine for now, my i'm watching it very closely just to be sure it won't misbehave.

I finally got my new laptop. I've been working towards getting one for a while, so i'm pretty happy with it. There a few things a bit strange with it, though. For instance, there is not battery monitor, so it's prone to just turning itself off after a few hours without any warning. The one thing that _really_ annoys me is the fact that it doesn't have a PCMCIA slot. To add to that, it doesn't have any WLAN capabilities either, so i'm rather annoyed about that. I'm going to send it back and make sure that they give me the next model up that has WLAN built in. I'll have to flog off my current wireless card to some poor unsuspecting soul at school. Otherwise, it's quite a nice little thing.

I performed today with the Western Youth Orchestra on Tuba. I thought I played quite well, too. The Orchestra performed Bizet's "Carmen Suite", Bizet's "La Arlesienne", "A Perfect Day" from the Beatrix Potter television series, "Australian Popular Music Medley" by George Ellis, and "Baby Elephant Walk" by Henry Mancini. In the wind ensemble we performed "The Stripper", and "Caravan" from "Sophisticated Ladies". I quite enjoy the wind ensemble now that we have a new conductor. Coincidently, he happens to be my first music tutor who I haven't seen for a number of years, so we get on quite well. I was able to improvise a bit in Caravan, and I found that rather enjoyable, especially since it was in a live performance.

Sleep

Damn irregular sleep patterns. I went to bed at 7pm last night and woke up at 3:45am this morning. I feel quite refreshed, but I have an absolute mass of schoolwork due today which I was meant to finish off last night, so this morning is going to be quite interesting.

My Tuba lesson was good yesterday. I have to do a lot more practice for 7th grade exam (October) as i'm aiming for an A, but i'm looking forward to getting back into the Tuba.

Tidings

So today I finally got around to getting my blog setup, among other things.

I've picked up the reigns of organising the Glug trip for Slug from Craig, so it's going to be interesting to see how well I can fit this in with all of my school work.

At assembly this morning our school principal was talking about how she's recently taken some "man time" out to encourage students to wear their uniforms correctly. The way she said it was rather wrong. I feel that the school is falling further into the mould of some sort of totalitarian regime - now we have to wear our blazers not only on the way to school, but in homeroom too. I see no point for this.

I can see that there's a serious lack of communication between departments, and that there's also a fair amount of infighting going on as well. Fortunately i'm only here for another 16 or so months.