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The Future is Open

By | Posted at 18:52

“Imagine the following scenario: 'OK, ad people. We want you to sell this really cool technology that's going to change the world. But it's not really our product. You can't hold it. You can't see it. And, um, there's no way to take a picture of it or even really show what it is. Oh, did we mention that the future of our $80 billion company depends on it? Thanks.'”

That's how an article on IBM and Linux begins. Find out what Thomas Mucha is talking about in this Business 2.0 article.

Nice Streams!

By | Posted at 17:28

I've spent a few hours over the last week or so ripping Christmas CD's. I'm not quite done and there are over 40 albums spanning almost a day an a quarter in playtime. But what to do with them? Well, I thought it might be nice to listen to it as I went from computer to computer, so I decided to try Apple's Darwin Streaming Server (DSS). DSS is the Free Software/Open Source sibling to QuickTime Streaming Server. It appears to have most of the same functionality (including QuickTime streaming).

One of its many features is IceCast compatible MP3 streaming. So, in a (nearly) effortless few minutes, I installed DSS, fixed my MP3 directory's permissions, used the great web-based GUI to select the proper folder, and clicked “play.” Now, I can connect from any system on the network and hear the continuous stream as if it was on the radio. Only its 100% good Christmas music and not some of the stuff that makes you wince in agony (the Christina Aguilera Christmas songs where the worst of the year, I think).

DSS's stream works just fine in iTunes (which shows the proper track information), XMMS (which does not show proper track information), Windows Media Player, and probably others. WMP seems to have a larger buffer and thus you don't want to have WMP playing the stream within listening distance of a system using XMMS or iTunes, but other than that, it works well on all three.

Now, I'll just do the same in a few weeks for my non-Christmas music and all will be well. :-) If you'd like to try DSS, you can do so on Mac OS X, GNU/Linux or Windows. The server is available for a free download under the GNU Project approved Apple Public Source License (ASPL) 2.0, right here.

You're Gonna Want One

By | Posted at 18:50

I finally got part I of my Shuttle XPC review up. You can read all about the SB62G2 at This is a really amazing system — and it is part of an amazing lineup, including an Athlon64 supporting model that even has a built-in 6-type memory card reader.

OfB has awarded Shuttle our “Best of the Year” award for the SB62G2. It is an amazing little box and I highly recommend it if you're looking for a semi-DIY system that isn't just a plain old system. Very very nice. I figured with the cost of the barebones system included, a P4 2.6 GHz with HT, 512 megs of PC3200 ram, a combo drive and an 80 gig SATA hard disk comes out to less than $700 — that's quite a steal!

KVM Blues

By | Posted at 18:47

Well, earlier this year I replaced my trusty Linksys 2-port ProConnect KVM with a Belkin E-series 4-port KVM switch. It's never worked quite right with GNU/Linux (I have to switch screens to get things back in order), but I lived with it. Unfortunately, even after adding a USB adapter to get the switch hooked up with the G5, things haven't gone well between the two of them.

The G5 works with the switch and PS/2 mouse and keyboard when I first boot it up, but if I switch and then return to that system, the G5 often doesn't see the mouse and almost never sees the keyboard. A few times, it didn't even see the keyboard at boot. sigh So it looks like I'm going to have to retire a 9-month old KVM and get a different one that works better with Macs (hopefully it will work better with GNU/Linux too). In the mean time, just as a word of warning: be aware that E-series KVM's don't seem to get along with Mac or Linux.

The Premier of...

By | Posted at 18:47

Well, as I said in the last post, I have two new computers — one of which I really don't need. Why is that? Well, the one new one is a Shuttle SB62G2 mini-ITX barebones system that Shuttle sent me to review at I'll be reviewing it in full very soon. It's a good system — it supports up to a 3.2 GHz HT-enabled Pentium 4, up to 2 gigs of ram, RAID, Serial-ATA, and other goodies. In my case, I did have to supply the processor, ram, hard disk and optical drive, so I went with something a bit more affordable — a Pentium 4 2.6 GHz with HT, 512 megs of ram, 1 80 gig Seagate SATA hard disk, and a CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drive. It came with what appears to be the OEM version of Mandrake Linux 9.2 Discovery Edition, which went on quite smoothly. Good system, although it is quite similar to my primary system (a Dell from late last year). I spent some time Monday and Tuesday working on this so that I can hopefully publish my results soon on OfB.

The most interesting part of this system was, believe it or not, that this was the first system I've actually built. I've done just about everything one can to a system, but I've never taken a brand new motherboard and added all of the components needed to turn it into a complete system. It went well — it was a simple process and surprisingly easy, considering the small amount of space inside a mini-ITX case.

Now the other system was one I actually planned on buying. Read on if you are curious.

iTunes/QuickTime DRM Scheme Disabled

By | Posted at 18:45

The same fellow who created DeCSS has now created a program that dumps DRM AAC files into non-DRM AAC files.

I have mixed feelings about this. I like the fact that it allows me to take care of legal requirements myself (which I would still obey if I used it) instead of Apple doing it for me — it has always made me uncomfortable that company's are basically saying “yes, we've sold you this song [or something else] but we don't trust you enough to properly use what we've sold you, so we are going to make sure you use it a certain way and sue the pants off of you if you don't use it that way.” At the same time, I wonder if this isn't a big mistake.

If a fairly respectable (is there such a thing?) DRM scheme like that used by iTunes is broken into, the MPAA/RIAA have even more of a case to argue that either (1) tougher legislation is required to stop thosenasty people that clearly want to use this for pirating purposes (indeed, many probably will) or (2) that the Secure Computing Initiativemust be sped up to make it so that hardware prevents people from doingthings like this. While I'd prefer no DRM, I wonder if in the long term this won't lead to worse DRM. No matter what, the law abiding citizens will get hurt while the companies go after the non-law abiding ones that make DRM attractive in the first place.

As I've said before, I think I should be able to do — so long as I follow copyright law — whatever I please with a file I've legally bought or obtained. If I pay $.99 for a song, I should be able to do absolutely anything to it on my computer (since that doesn't in any way cause a loss of value to the copyright holder — I'm still the only person with a copy).

On the flip side however, while I believe that such freedom shouldexist, I realize that iTunes Music Store could possibly serve to cause the inevitable expansion of DRM to at least be a lot more friendly that it might otherwise be. While the idealist in me appreciates someone providing more freedom to me for my legally held music, the practical side of me realizes that such a gain in the short-term will quite likely hurt the promotion of friendly DRM schemes in the future.

So what do you think?

I'm off...

By | Posted at 18:47

…to try out Fedora 1.0, the successor to Red Hat Linux. I'll report on how it goes probably sometime soon.

By | Posted at 18:00

Has anyone bought from before? I've been looking around their store for a few components I need and I'm really impressed with their selection and low prices. They apparently are a BBB member and are BizRate certified, so they must be pretty good…

Let me know if you've tried them.

Night of Panther!

By | Posted at 18:13

Well, tonight's the night. Just hours ago, Mac OS X Panther premiered. It should be really quite nice, especially with the built in X11 Server based on XFree86 4.3. It also includes Safari 1.0 (based on KDE's KHTML) and a lot of other goodies. I'm told by Apple that my copy should be in the mail — now I just have to wait for it. sigh

Anyone else reading this planning to give Panther a spin, or perhaps you already have it? I'd love to hear your experience with it.

The Path to GNU/Linux

By | Posted at 16:27

On CS-FSLUG, someone started a thread on how people got started using GNU/Linux. My story got a bit carried away, length-wise, so I thought I would post it here instead. If you'd like to know how I went from a Pro-Microsoft kind of guy to a staunch supporter of GNU/Linux, read on!

You are viewing page 28 of 31.