Archive for June, 2010

My late Southeast Linux Fest roundup

Sorry for the late posting on my experiences at the second annual Southeast Linuxfest but here it goes. I was planning on getting up at 3:00 AM and driving down to Dan Frey’s and then swinging down near Philly to pick up the lastknowngod. Unfortunately I overslept but eventually got out of my house by 5:00 AM and were on our way. The drive down to South Carolina was mostly uneventful. We hit the usual traffic near Washington DC but eventually made it to Spartanburg around 4:00 PM. We checked into our rooms and went down to hotel bar where Dann Washko and Chad Wollenberg had a huge head start on everyone else. Eventually we decided to head over to the sushi bar across the street. On the way out the door of the hotel we ran into Claudio Miranda and his buddy Julio who drove up from Miami. The sushi bar was a lot of fun as we got to catch up with some old friends. A bit later myself and Dann Washko headed over to the speaker dinner. I had a chance to eat dinner with Maddog Hall, a couple of the Digium guys, Tarus Balog from OpenNMS and Keith from the Open Invention Network. The conversation was excellent and my steak dinner was delicious. Next up was the pre-party. I was shocked at the very decent selection of beer at the pre-party. I didn’t get too crazy but it was still a great time nonetheless. Saturday rolled around and we setup our table in a far off corner of a far off hallway away from the main corridor. I wasn’t too crazy of the location but it wasn’t the end of the world either. I was able to catch a couple of talks and they were quite enjoyable. Many people came by our table to chat with us. We were quite busy the whole day selling t-shirts and giving raffle tickets away for our big drawing at the end of the day. In the afternoon I headed to hotel bar to watch the USA vs England World Cup match which ended up in a 1-1 draw. I was surprised at how many Linux geeks blew off the conference to come watch the game. After the keynote on Saturday about 20 of us headed over to Carolina BBQ for some dinner. I had the “3 meat fatman special” of pulled pork, chopped chicken and spare ribs. All were absolutely delicious. Saturday night I took it easy as I was speaking the next day. On Sunday it seemed the attendance was much lower than Saturday which was a shame because there were some great talks. My talk was at 2:00 PM and it went off very well. I thought I would of run out of gas since it was scheduled to be 2 hours long. Surprisingly time just flew by up there and the audience was great. All of the talks were recorded and will be available for viewing/listening at some point. Immediately after my talk we left and I made it into my bed at 4:00 AM after a very long and tiring drive home. I think the organizers overall did a fantastic job. Big props to Dave Yates, Jeremy Sands and the entire crew. In the future I think they should scale it back a bit. Having so many great speakers to choose from in five simultaneous tracks is a bit daunting. Maybe they should go to three tracks instead? Regardless SELF is a fantastic event and I highly recommend it to noobies and experienced Linux people alike. There’s so much goodness to choose from it’s insane. It was great to have the TLLTS crew in one place again and see so many old and new friends in person. Good times.


Accessibility Dilemma – Page Zooming

At work we are struggling with how to make pages more accessible to users with impaired vision, particularly senior citizens who may find the text too small on the page. Coding a fluid layout is the proper solution but more often than not, no matter how fluid you design the layout there is always potential for elements to fall apart. Top navigation bars are a great example.

Now there is this really, really, really great and easy way to solve a lot of these issues and retain layout, and that is through the browser’s zoom page feature. In all the browsers that I have used zooming the page in and out using ctrl – + or ctrl – - works like a charm. The only problem is that most of the people who would benefit from this probably are unaware of this feature.

So what seems like a perfect solution would be able to make these controls more accessible to the user, have them on the page where they would most likely benefit. A simple + and – for zooming the page, controlled through javascript. Sounds great, right? Well you can do this with IE but not Firefox, Chrome or Safari. Their reasoning is sound though, as they do not want to allow access to the users personal settings via javascript controls. Doing so opens the door to potentially serious abuse where designers are deciding for users how their browsers should be set. I agree whole heartedly with this but damn, it would be a fantastic feature to have full page zoom controls right there on the page.

So now we are back to having to figure out through css how we can control the sizes of the elements on the page in a manner that does not break the layout.

Any thoughts, suggestions, I would love to hear them.

South East Linux Fest 2010

South East Linux Fest


Wow, what a trip. Allan and I drove to SC from my place in PA in the middle of the night, which took up 10 hours. It was a nice drive compared to last year where it was foggy and rainy the whole ride there.

The conference was great. It was 2 days long, and, contrary to what I heard from some people, I thought it was just right. During the talks/conferences there was hardly anyone in the hallways. This tells me that there was something interesting there for everyone. I, however, only got to see Dann’s talk about the linux boot process. It was quite good I thought. The only real downside there was the vendor/hallway track, which was spread out a little too much.

Mordancy made us some SELF ’10 TLLTS shirts, which turned out great and were a hit. We do have some left as well and will be announcing how you can get yours on the show. Gorkon brought cookies and chex mix which were also greatly appreciated. And, of course, there were the books by Prentice Hall (Pearson Ed), APress and the wickedly cool Neuros Link and Nexus One we had to give away. I had a great time talking to all of you who stopped at the booth and I even got the chance to install Linux on a visitors laptop! I also enjoyed visiting with the other vendors and dot org booths there. I still really enjoy being a part of this community. You all are a bunch of great folks!

Probably the best “conference track” there was one tat was totally unannounced and impromptu. On Sunday night, after all was quiet and we were relaxed, Dann, Allan and I had time for a good executive TLLTS meeting. It was really nice to go over a lot of TechShow information, ideas, problems and solutions, face to face, so we could all get on the same page. We are coming up on our second season and we have some interesting things in store.

All in all I had a great time, which was exactly what I expected. I cannot wait for OLF this year nor can I wait for SELF next year. They just keep getting better and better!

Excessive?

laptops

laptops


How many is too many? Is this excessive or have I just been watching too many episodes of Hoarders?

  • Top – Dell Inspiron 15 – My “desktop” machine.
  • Far left – Macbook 5,2 – Use when I am relaxing in bed with my feet propped up. Pisses me off that I cannot get Linux shoehorned on this properly yet.
  • 2nd left – Acer Aspire One – netbook I use for TLLTS work.
  • Bottom middle – Acer Aspire 3680 – my main livingroom machine – always tethered to the power cord because I have had it so long the battery only lasts 11 seconds.
  • 2nd right – HP Mini 110 – new netbook and daily carry.
  • Far right – Thinkpad X31 – dev/test/slush box.

And, of course, these are not *all* my computers. I also have a couple ESXi boxes which run a few virtual servers and an old G3 (upgraded to G4) Blue and White that mostly is a nightstand.

So, what computers do you all have kicking around?

If Microsoft Bought Novell

Dave Yates had brought up on TLLTS and then later on LottaLinuxLinks Oggcast the possibility of Microsoft buying Novell now that the latter company is up for sale. He felt, and these are my own words revisiting his, that this would place Microsoft in an interesting position to own the Unix Copyrights and to have their own Linux distrobution. Then he wondered what the downsides for Microsoft might be; and so do I.

Then a thought occurred to me. If Microsoft did purchas Novell and then continue to distribute SuSE would that not invalidate their patent claims against other companies for using/selling GNU/Linux? Wouldn’t the GPL prevent them from distibuting SuSE while they hold patent suits against other companies for the same GPL’s software? I know more previsions were put in regarding this for version 3, but I wonder if even version 2 would uphold their inability to not file patent suite against companies using Linux and force an end to their FUD.

If that is the case, I don’t see how Microsoft would benefit from buying Novell unless they shut SuSE down and flex the Unix Copyrights. But then again, if they did this, I suspect there would be a lot of pressure on them from the likes of Google and IBM. While they may continue to have a strangle hold on the desktop market, I think there is a switch coming to more mobile devices like smartphones and tablets that will eventually topple the Microsoft Monopoly on computing devices and render their flexing of FUD less effectual.

Just some thoughts.

TLLTS on Mint 9

tllts on mint 9

tllts on mint 9


I just found out from a friend of mine that there is a link to TLLTS on the “News” section of firefox in the default install of Linux Mint 9! Sweet! Check out the pic at http://lincgeek.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/mint9-firefox.png.

Addendum: Apparently there is quite some talk about TLLTS on the Mint Forums as well! http://linuxmint.com/planet/TLLTS_%28podcast%29/.

Grassman

HP-Mini-110-1125NR

HP-Mini-110-1125NR


Why Grassman? Well, my preferred method of computer naming is to use Cryptids. You guessed it. That means I got a new (to me at least) computer. I did a little side work in exchange for a 10″ netbook and another Western Digital 1TB MyBook World Edition. I left the choice of netbook open and got a really nice refurbished HP Mini 110-1125NR.

This thing is a sweet little netbook! I was a little hesitant at first because, as you’ll notice in the picture, the trackpad buttons are on the sides, much like my Acer Aspire One. I really really hate that “feature” on the Acer and suspected much the same here as well. Much to my delight, these buttons feel way nicer and are quite comfortable to use. The computer/netbook itself came with 1gb of ram, a 140gb hdd and Windows 7 (somethingorother) pre-installed. Well, that didn’t last long. In fact, it never got booted. I immediately slapped in my USB stick with Linux Mint 9 that had been put on there with unetbootin. I am sure you have all ready reviews about Mint 9 by now, but if you haven’t actually *tried* it, you are surely missing out. In a few minutes, I had Mint 9 on the HP and the only thing I really had to adjust was getting wireless networking working. This is not as difficult as you may think. I clicked the icon on the task bar for restricted drivers and told the machine to install and use the STA driver (yes, I had to initially connect it via ethernet). A quick reboot later and wireless was working perfectly. This machine runs very well, feels quite quick, it feels solid and of good quality unlike some netbooks which are very toyish (?) feeling. It is very sleek and pretty and, in my opinion, the difference between 10 inch and 9 inch display in a netbook is enormous. The only thing I believe i will change about this netbook is to upgrade the ram to the full 2gb. Not insomuch as it needs it, because it runs very well on 1gb, but just because I can and because it is very likely that I will use this computer as a lot more than just a “netbook”.

An odd funny story here is that 1 year ago when Allan and I were at the South East Linux Fest, we went to BestBuy to waste a little time. There I bought a neoprene netbook sleeve for my Acer Aspire One. The only decent one they had was this black one with some designs on the outside for a 10 inch HP netbook. Imagine my surprise when it occurred to me that that netbook sleeve is the one that actually matches my new refurbed 10 inch HP netbook. :-) Reunited at last!