Marcel Gagne's blog

03
Jul

The End Of The World As We Know It

After reading an article on CBC about the possible banning of Mark Steyn's book in Canada, "America Alone", I knew I had to read it. I will confess up front that I am also terrified by the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. But then, I am also terrified by the rise of Christian fundamentalism. I am an atheist and I make no apologies for it. In fact, I believe that for the world to survive, and by the world, I mean human beings (the planet will be here long after we are gone), religion must die. We, the rationalists of the world, must launch a campaign to educate the world about the dangers of religion. Religion, after all, is an organized movement designed to control large groups of people. Control them to do what, you might ask? Well, sometimes it's to vote for you. Sometimes to fill your coffers with cash. Sometimes to fight for you. And far too many times, religion's purpose has been to rally the troops to kill for you, possibly by strapping a bomb to your chest and blowing yourself up in a public place. In God's name, of course.

I'll start by giving Mark Steyn credit for writing what is, in fact, a courageous book, though not one without its flaws. The trouble with Mark's book (for me, at least) comes at the end of the introduction to the paperback edition. He says that "10 years from now, of the two groups, those worried about global warming and those worried about the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, one will be right and the other will feel like an idiot."

Well, he tells some, anyhow. By now, you've probably heard the news that Xandros has purchased Linspire. Moments ago, I was sent the following Q&A with Xandros CEO, Andreas Typaldos. Enjoy . . .

Q: What are you announcing today?
A: Xandros' acquisition of Linspire, a pioneer in the commercial desktop Linux marketplace with its easy-to-use commercial Linspire operating system and innovative Linux software delivery service CNR.

Q: How did this deal come about?
A: Xandros and Linspire have had talks at the CEO level over the years about the possibility of a combination given their historically similar Debian-based roots and complementary product lines. Such talks accelerated in late 2007 and culminated in the current agreement.

30
Jun

KDE: It’s time for a fork . . . is it really?

Over at Practical Tech Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols suggests that it may be time for a fork of KDE, mostly because he doesn't believe that KDE 4.1 is heading in the right direction. It's obviously an interesting and emotional topic as the comments will attest. I'll quote a small portion of one of the comments. A writer who goes by burpnrun said, "I can understand the emotional investment that Asiego has in Kde4. But the article writer is correct: the desktop should not get in the way of the mainstream user’s productive needs, and that is what KDE4 does."

First of all, the Asiego (sic) in question is Aaron Seigo, a KDE luminary if ever there was one. The article writer is Stephen J. Vaughan-Nichols, a luminary in his own right -- of the tech-journalist variety. Now, Stephen may have said a lot more about KDE 4 in earlier postings but in this article, he points to one feature of one icon in one application. Not much to go on really. However, he does, indirectly, remind us of an important aspect of Linux and the world of FOSS (free and open source software).

29
Jun

Open Source Music?

You've heard of open source software. You've probably even heard of open source beer? How bout some open source music to add to the mix? Hmm . . . software, beer, and music . . . Yum!

The Dejunair Project creates "Free and Open Source Music" or "Open Music". This means simply, you can use the music for whatever you want at no cost (free beer!). The stated goal of the project is to share music with others for free and provide them the building blocks which make up a particular instrumental to reuse however they see fit. To read more about the Dejunair Project and to listen to a sample of the music, click here and let your ears be transported.

28
Jun

Crisis of Kubuntu Faith

I feel it may be time for me to part company with my current Linux distro. That's where I need your help. Watch the video, then let me know what you think. 

25
Jun

A Cow Says Moo!

Once upon a time, ASCII art was practiced in e-mail messages sent around the world. Unfortunately, fancy fonts and HTML-ized e-mails have struck a powerful blow to this ancient and noble art form. The most missed are probably the cows, for Tony Monroe, anyhow. His cowsay program (a nice, easy-to-play-with Perl script) provides a simple way to generate an ASCII cow that speaks your message. Head on over to www.nog.net/~tony/warez/cowsay.shtml to pick up your copy and extract it into your directory. (A number of distributions have cowsay in their repositories, so look there first). The installation consists of running an install.sh file. Running the program also is quite simple. Let's pretend that I want a cow saying “More wine, please”:

$ cowsay More wine please.
-------------------

-------------------
        \   ^__^
         \  (oo)\_______
            (__)\       )\/\
                ||----w |
                ||     ||

But wait! There's more . . . oh yes!

06
Jun

Heat, Beer, and Geeks.

Was there every a more natural combination? Depends on where you expected to find it.

Nothing like chilled Bawls, eh?

09
Apr

The Wines of 2001 (Cooking with Linux)

I'm trying to live up to my promise to create a list of all the wines recommended in my "Cooking with Linux" column these eight plus years. I managed to put together the 2000 list a few days ago. Now, it's time to visit 2001. 2001 marked the second year of Cooking with Linux. After a year running the restaurant, I decided it was finally time to upgrade the wine list with some actual suggestions. What follows is the list for this second year. Notice that specific vintages and vintners are now suggested. Mostly gone are the generic recommendations. Enjoy!

06
Apr

Notebooks. With Linux. Pre-installed.

Tomorrow morning, I'm giving a talk/tutorial at the IT360 Conference in Toronto. The subject is getting a Linux notebook (or laptop, if you prefer) to do it all. I should point out that I did not choose this topic. Evan Leibovitch, a great FOSS guy, asked me if I would tackle this one. The reason I find it difficult is that I don't think it's that big a deal to get Linux running on a notebook. Any notebook. Of course, the real reason, the ONLY reason Windows might be easier to install is that most people NEVER install it. It comes pre-installed. If people had to install Windows every time they bought a computer, this whole "Windows is easier" discussion would die a quick and horrific death. R.I.P. Ah, heck. Just rest. I don't care if it's in peace.

So how can you make the Linux notebook easier? Answer: Buy the notebook with Linux pre-installed. Here's a very short list of vendors who sell Linux notebooks. In no particular order, here are five:

  • RedSeven PCs
  • Emperor Linux
  • Linux Certified
  • R-Cubed Technologies
  • System 76
  • Oh, and here's a sixth, Dell Computers

    This is just a sampler. There are tons of dealers who will sell you a notebook computer with Linux pre-installed. Got another? Tell me, and the world, about your favorite!

  • 01
    Apr

    Moving to Windows


    Yes, this was an April Fools' story. I am not switching to Windows.

    After years of trying to convince others, and myself I might add, I've decided that Windows is in fact the superior operating system. Yes, that's right. I'm moving from Linux to Windows. Some of you may wonder what prompted this seismic shift and you deserve an explanation. Last night I had a dream and in it, a Windows butterfly just kept fluttering around this little pudgy penguin's head. Try as he might, the penguin couldn't swat the butterfly away. Finally, exhausted, the little black and white penguin sat down on his iceberg and softly, ever so softly, the butterfly landed on the penguin's head. Suddenly, a bright light engulfed the penguin, transforming him from dull monochrome to a colorful peacock-like explosion; a veritable CMYK palette, though somehow still limited to 24 bits.

    I woke up in a cold sweat and immediately went to write some things down. When inspiration hits, you don't wait. Here's what I finally understood.

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