Monthly Archives: February 2005

Textbooks and Tutorials

While I have the RHCE, one of the more popular Linux certifications is the Linux Professional Institutes’s LPI. While not as “intense” as the RHCE, the LPI confers a core level of competency on Linux systems. A competency that is fairly distribution agnostic.

While in the process of looking up documentation models on the Internet; I ran into wikibooks.org. Wikibooks is an attempt to create an on line book repository the likes of wikipedia does for the encyclopedia. The array of books available for access it quite amazing, ranging from cookbooks to foreign language guides. Most of the books have a educational slant on them, but that is generally the kind of book I am looking for when searching for on line book content.

How does this tie into the LPI? Wikibooks has a complete (if unofficial) list of prep books for the LPI. Notice the LPI level 3 is still in preparation by the Linux Professional Institute.

In an semi related link, I have been reading up on Ade’s blog post proposing an on-line KDE course catalog of how to documents organized in a collegiate format. He calls his proposal UofKDE. Overall I think the idea is a great improvement over the current on line documentation organization (or lack of it.) Maybe this will start to put the design level of KDE’s documentation more on par with KDE development environment. I think its about time for a open source documentation revolution; particularly in the KDE world. And the innovations in that field will not be made with the same level of thinking got us to were we are now.

KToon, SVG, and Flash

Ktoon is an SVG editor and animator created by Toonka Films, focused mostly on the Cartoon Industry. The SVG format is roughly equivalent to Flash.

And while we are on that subject check out vnc2swf a application for making flash movies of vnc screen captures. For those interested in making screen capture movies O’Reilly has an article on doing it a slightly different way.

KDE Documentation Notes

The head of documentation for the KDE project has listed a couple FYI points for anyone thinking about doing KDE documentation.

  • Docs are strings. When strings are frozen, so are the docs. The dates for string freezes are noted in the release schedule.
  • Screenshots are not strings. They are not frozen during the string freeze.
  • During string freezes, you can always send patches to kde-doc-english@. They will be applied after kde-i18n is ready, so they will be included in the release tarballs for your application, but they will not be translated until the next point release.
  • You do not have to write docs in docbook, if you send plain text content to kde-doc-english@ (or attach it to any open bug reports about your application documentation) we will mark it up for you.
  • Documentation should not be optional. Missing documentation is a bug, and may already be filed as such.
  • A command/menu reference is considered required for all docs, but it is a bare minimum. Do try to write more useful content if you can.
  • There is a questionnaire available to fill in with questions about your application. This can serve two purposes:
  • If you are a developer who wants to write your own documentation but you are not sure how to start, the questionnaire will help you clarify the important points that must be covered.
  • If you are not able to write documentation, answering the questions will give a good head start to anyone who volunteers to help you out, and will save them a lot of time asking questions, and you a lot of time answering them.

And be sure to check out my desktop image directory. There are some pretty freggin cool screenshots of my KDE 3.4 beta2 desktop. XFree86 is dead, long live X.org!

Open Source and RPG’s

Linux Journal has an article discussing independent publishing and the role that Linux and open source applications can play in making it cost effective for independent authors.  It discusses the publication of an independent RPG by Clinton Nixon titled “The Shadow of Yesterday.”  The game seems to be fairly solid, but not necessarily widely popular.  Nixon published the game both on line and in book format.  “The Shadow of Yesterday” had a print run of only 150 books, but Nixon was able to recoup all this publishing costs within five weeks of publication. 

Much of print publication cost was saved in the actual printing (Nixon works for a printing company) but a surprising about of the cost  was saved in the use of web technologies, Linux, and open source publishing applications that allowed him to manage (CVS),  word process (OpenOffice.org),  format the print layout (Scribus), and create/manage/edit graphics (The Gimp.)  Combine these tools with current print-on-demand solutions and you have a powerful combination.

This is amazing news that has the potential to opens up a wide area of innovation in the print publication world.  Think about the opportunity that is available to independent authors if the financial limitations of print publishing are in the $1000-2000 range. 

When I was ten I created a RPG that my brother and our friends would play.  Thats the kind of price range that make me think about publishing some of my old work, and working on some new ideas.

Who Told Me This?

The most interesting piece of news I have read concerning the Valerie Plame case concerns the protected status of media sources.  Evidently there is none!  What is more interesting, according the historical Court rulings, there has never been such protection.  Newspapers, TV news, and print media organizations have argued for years that they can protect their sources via the First Amendments “free speech” clause.  However, this has simply been a matter of wishful thinking.  The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to ever rule in favor of the protected status of media sources.

This is totally counter to what I was taught in school.  I had always believed that media sources could not be forcible taken from reporters except in the event of national security.

Tyranny of the Lethargic

One of the concerns I have about the state of democracy and the direction of democratic reform throughout the world is the sudden rise of sudo-democratic organizations (organizations created by democracies that are not democratic themselves.) Organizations like the EU, UN, WTO, and World Bank have huge influence over the state of world affairs, going so far as to try and set policy for individual nations, and yet have no democratic influence on their direction.

In that vein, author John Fonte has written an article discussing the proliferation of these groups, as well as the dramatic influence non-governmental organizations are having on shaping their policies. Democracy may not be the evolutionary end of history; but it is vital that we remember than any organization which creates laws without the representation by those whom the law governs, is a form of tyranny. Ultimately, failure to pay attention to the state of our liberties will result in the slow erosion of our freedoms. If we are not awake at the wheel of our own destiny, we will eventually discover that someone else is driving.

The Apex of Evolution

In preparation for a policy paper I am reading, I found this article. The paper, titled “The End of History?”, is a fairly well known article by Francis Fukuyama for The National Interest in 1989. In it he basically describes western style liberal democracy as the final cumulative result of the evolution of the political process; going so far as to declare the modern democratic state as the “end of political history.” Something approaching the god-state of politics.

While I don’t necessarily subscribe to the overall tenants of Mr. Fukuyama’s work; it is an interesting political discussion in the time immediately preceding the fall of the USSR. The question that Mr. Fukuyama brings up is simply, does democracy basically answer all of the contradictions brought about by previous socio-political systems in a way that changes future “improvement” from exponential to linear in their scope?

FYI, I grabbed the web page from a Google search for reference purposes.

Democracy Spreading

Those of you who did get a chance to read my commentary on the justification, with respect to terrorism, for the invasion of Iraq; I thought I would take this opportunity to say it looks like I was right. Now I am not trying to say that it was a particularly good election (i.e. males only, municipal authority only, only half the positions are elected, and its only happening in one area) but the simple fact that Saudi Arabia felt the pressure to actually have these elections is a huge step.

Who Reads What

Newspaper Readership:

  • The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.
  • The Washington Post is read by people who are elected to run the country. 
  • The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country. 
  • USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don’t really understand the Washington Post. They do, however, like their statistics shown in colorful pie charts. 
  • The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn’t mind running the country, if they could spare the time, and if they didn’t have to leave L.A. to do it. 
  • The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and they did a far superior job of it, thank you very much. 
  • The New York Daily News is read by people who aren’t too sure who’s running the country, and don’t really care as long as they ca n get a seat on the train. 
  • The New York Post is read by people who don’t care who’s running the country, as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated. 
  • The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren’t sure there is a country or that anyone is running it; but whoever it is, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarfs, who also happen to be illegal aliens from ANY country or galaxy as long as they are Democrats. 
  • The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores. 
  • The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.

No New Backgrounds

A common questions from system administrators concerns the ability to turn off functionality on computers systems installed in a group usage environment.  Something like an internee cafe or a library.  Kiosk Admin Tool is a KDE management tool for exactly such needs.  Kiosk Admin Tool gives system administrators the ability to lock down a desktop by say, removing command line functionality or disabling the file manager.