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1008 words as to why I should be the BCMKE4 Openness Czar.

Let’s start off with two things.

1) duh

2) Aren’t you from Madison?

Define “from” and define “Madison”.  I live in Dane County, not Madison (and none of that weird city vs. town of Madison stuff…I don’t live in Madison).  I’ve lived here for over a year.  Is that “from”?  Well, if it is, I’m “from” four different states.

2.1) Ok smart-ass, you’re still not from Milwaukee.

Which is why I’m a perfect figurehead for openness.  If I can do part of my job simply by existing, I think I’m the right man for the job.

Now, let’s get down to business.

I’m the president of the Madison Linux User Group, a lead on Open Everything Madison and previously president of the Carolina Open Source Initiative.  I’m also already the czar of Linux laptops where I work.  Before the FSF trolls start talking about how Linux isn’t libre, there certainly is a version of Linux that is libre and BSD folks, well, I’m well aware there are versions of freedom. I’m going into the lions den of Mac users here. Let’s not let our differences get in the way of the big picture.

Now I’ll pause for a few simple points.

identi.ca (and specifically statusnet) > twitter

android > iPhone

OOo (or NeoOffice, if you like) > MS Office

GIMP > Photoshop

Firefox (I’m not going to bother linking, you know what this is) > IE

Python > .NET (seriously, .NET?…get off my site)


Ok, I’ll stop, but I could go on.

Scandinavia is close to Russia and while I’m part Swedish and not part Finnish, Finland was once under Russian rule.  Actually, since Finland was once under Swedish rule, it’s possible my ancestors lived where Finland is now, but were Swedish.  Russia and Sweden have both also controlled parts of Poland in the past.  Going further back, before the Brett Favre controversy, the Vikings definitely went into Russia, at least as far as Holmgard (Veliky Novgorod for my Russian readers).  We’ll go with that.  I’m part Russian, sorta.  If you’re Serbian or Bulgarian, I don’t want to here it.  We all know *real* czars are Russian.  Plus I was in Malmö when the former lost in the UEFA U21 championships to the home team. That has to count for something, right? (yes, extra words)  Now, in Wisconsin it’s not that uncommon for people to have Scandinavian heritage, but how many of them have been there?  And of those with Scandinavian heritage (or Russian, because we’re talking czars) that have also been there, how many of those will be at BarCampMKE4? I’m guessing not many.  And look people, don’t question my Swedish heritage.  I have a freakin’ Swedish tattoo.  I was born and breed for this job.

Let’s go back to this “you’re from Madison” thing.  I was at last year’s BCMKE4, have been to a Web414 meeting and a MLUG (Milwaukee Linux User Group) as well as PhotoCampMKE and a DevHouse at Bucketworks.  I’ve also been to a Bucks game.

I’ve owned a Mac and run Windows at work, making me able to speak to FOSS apps on both platforms.  While Fink is a good package manager for Mac from what I’ve heard, I’ve yet to find a package manager I like for Windows.  I’ve dabbled in video both production and editing (and some film too) so I can speak to that side of things a bit.  I’ve also worked in science and my parents and an aunt are professional musicians, so I know a bit about that as well.  I am a jack of all trades.  I am, however, a master of ruthlessness, a needed mastery for a czarship.  I also have a sweet beard, like this guy (never mind that he was a crap tsar, I took his beard, not his strategies).

Since I posted about Creative Commons music, I’ve actually listened to more.  Severed Fifth is now 295 and all the others have gone up; Holy Pain and Predator (430), NIN (57), Gråsuggorna (248) and No Se (269).  As a new addition, Lorenzo’s Music is now 479.  Let’s not forget the local flavor either; Lorenzo’s Music and Misery Signals (415).  Remember, I’ve only been here a year, so that number is certain to go up.  And, just in case you are too lazy to check out my blog post, you can connect to me on Last.fm.


Shut your trap.  Did you honestly think I wasn’t going to mention Libre.fm?  Libre.fm has only been around a few months and since it doesn’t have historical data (chill, I know there is a merge, but I have over 191k listens. That’s going to take a while to import and it’s just not important to me) so discussing my open music there doesn’t really give a full picture.  But, since you brought it up, NIN is #2 and Lorenzo’s Music is #12.  After that Libre.fm doesn’t number them, just gives the amount of listens.  If you really want to know more about Libre.fm, put it on the BarCamp session board or comment here.

So, you just do open source?

Well, I like as much open source as possible (I prefer the term FOSS [Free and Open Source Software] to include the free software people…libre is a much better word enough though it’s not technically English…yet), but I already mentioned that in addition to experience with OpenSolaris, BSD and Linux I’ve used Macs and Windows.  Open standards are great.  In fact, I’d love to see Web414 or Web608 get behind One Web Day.

Not everything at BCMKE4 will be digital.

O RLLY?  While most things certainly will be, I see your point.  I know a bit about open hardware, though I’m no expert.  As a powerful czar however, I certainly have connections and Open Everything can deal with a lot of things that are not digital.

I just need to put out a few more words and I will be done.



Help me help you.

Several things are coming up and I need to know how best to help you and the Madison community.
October 20th is the next MadLUG meeting.  We don’t yet have a topic.  We could do something on Python or have a bit of a state of the union and really figure out what we want to do with the LUG.  LUG attendance has really been pathetic.  Should we move to Saturday meetings like they have in Milwaukee?

November 1st is the next Open Everything event.  We do not have very many people signed up.  We want to have this event in Pewaukee at a fabulous location, but if people don’t sign up, it’s not going to happen.

November 13th-ish we are going to have Open Music Madison.  We don’t have a firm date, because our 1st choice of venues fell through.  It looks like we may have to charge $5 a head.  I don’t like it, but doing something is better than waiting to have the perfect event I say.

If you have ever been to an OE Madison or to a MadLUG meeting, please leave your thoughts or e-mail me directly at douglasawhREMOVEFORREALZ@gmail.com

OpenCamp, Debian, Fedora and OpenSUSE

So, I gave Debian a shot this weekend.  It didn’t go well.  It seems that my Debian installation may have had some problems because from what I understand, I should have gotten Synaptic out of the box.  The biggest problem was no wireless though.  This isn’t exactly Debian’s fault.  It’s Acer’s fault for not using a wireless card with Linux drivers.  In their defence, Linux was not as big in 2004 when this was new (or, at least that’s when the Windows driver is from).  I tried using ndiswrapper, but while it picked up the ssids, it did not pick up an IP address.  These TravelMate machines don’t have a great resolution on Linux, so I just decided to give up.

Now, over on identica, I was discussing some issues I was having with burning an OpenSUSE disk.  I’m going to chalk that up to random, but I’m using the alpha (not sure if it’s updated to beta…I’ve got some updates to do) of Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty, so there could be some problems.  Anyway, just to try to get something usable (not having wireless is not an option) I installed Fedora.  However, the DPI on the fonts was all messed up (or, at least that’s what I’m guessing it was), so I scratched that and got out my “real” laptop with Ubuntu so I could get some work done.  In the meantime, the openSUSE disk finished and I started the install.  I didn’t have it plugged in, so it failed on something, but then went on through to check the hardware, such as the video card.  As per usual when I try to triple boot, I screwed it up some how and while GRUB still has an option for Fedora, it won’t actually boot.  My Windows installation (which I only use to make sure issues aren’t Linux issues) survived the install.  I’m disappointed that openSUSE doesn’t have Moonlight installed by default.  I’m not a Moonlight fan, but since CBS/NCAA decided to go with it, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure it out.

So even though I’ve been happier with PCBSD than Fedora or Debian on this particular hardware (Acer TravelMate c310) I have no intensions of moving to BSD.  I had Linux Mint on the Acer before and didn’t like it either, though typically I’m a big fan of Mint.  I have no idea how long it will be before I get a new desktop or laptop, but that will likely have Mint on it.  I don’t like it enough to switch to it while I’m using Ubuntu.

Moving away from operating systems, today was the first OpenCamp meeting.  We did a phone meeting, which was probably better than the IRC chat I had lined up.  We did not pick a time to discuss again, but we should have.  We came up with lots of good ideas, but there’s lots to do.  There were only three of us on the call (me, allgood2 and poseurtech) but we already got confirmation on a blog post from kaitfoley.  I’ve also heard from geekazine and raster about the meeting, but neither was able to attend. I’ve been tasked with cleaning up our section of http://openeverything.wik.is.  If not for getting sidetracked by green computing discussions on identica, UNC making it to the Final Four and packing for my trip to Kentucky this weekend, I’d have done it today.

Another weekend is coming to a close with me tired rather than refreshed.  I am, however, feel a bit better than I was about two hours ago. food, ftw.

I fail at the Internet; GLUE, OEMKE, etc

There are a few points of failure here.  No Internet at LOPSA or GLUE and then just my lack of time.

From the 6th, never posted: “Things have been super-busy lately, as I mentioned in the last blog post.

Yesterday, at the LUG meeting we determined to to have meetings….

Thursday night at LOPSA there was no wifi.  This is a major fail for a tech event, but in the end wasn’t really a big deal.”

This past week was an odd one at work.  Things should get mostly back to normal Monday, except for the monthly staff meeting.

Today I was at GLUE (Great Lakes Urban Exchange), completely a week of screwed up sleep, I plan to get back on track tonight.  I will post my GLUE notes in the near future. Usually, when I go to tech events (which GLUE isn’t) I am re-energized to get stuff done.  GLUE had no such effect on me.  Perhaps it’s lack of sleep?  Perhaps it’s because I already have enough going on?  I guess I’ll find out tomorrow after I finish some of my to-do list.  Right now (as soon as I hit publish), I am going to get some much needed sleep.

Also, I spent time with the leaders of MadTech, Web608 and the Madison Drupal User Group tonight (as well as a couple other Madison techies) at “Not at SxSW”.

In between those to events, I met with Jenn of Bucketworks.  Aside from learning a bit about Milwaukee and Bucketworks, the meeting was productive in that we picked a tentative date for Open Everything Milwaukee.  I don’t want to say when yet, because I haven’t spoken to the others involved, but if you joing the mailing list you’ll find out tomorrow instead of whenever I decide to put it here.

OpenCamp, NowDoThis and other things

I started this on Saturday and somehow got distracted…

You may have noticed I’ve been blogging more lately.  I think I can attribute that to two things.

1) well, if you looked at more apartment, you’d understand.

2) NowDoThis.com.  There are tons of “To Do” lists and task managers on the web.  I’ve used a couple on the Google Customized Home Page (which I never use any more), but never got the focus NowDoThis gives me.  (mentioning NowDoThis on my blog was on my NowDoThis list 🙂

Also just wanted to mention that my brother is at the GT High School Math Competition this weekend.  Good thing for traffic that the UNC/GT game is in Chapel Hill.  GT and UNC are the most likely schools for my brother to attend…though he still hasn’t heard back from MIT.  I’m not sure how his recent knee injury will affect his futbol career.

But what I really want to talk about are two events (and then some).

1) Open Everything and FOSS: On March 17th at 7pm, I’ll be giving a presentation on how a non-tech conference can help techies and why it should stay a non-tech conference.

2) OpenCamp: April 18th at Grainger Hall on UW’s campus.  I plan on writing more about this, just not now.

And then some) no time now, but GLUE is coming up (March 14th for me), there’s a LOPSA meeting tomorrow (Thursday now) and there’s a MadLUG meeting on Friday (the 6th).
Next week are advisory cousils at work.  I am emphatically not looking forward to this.  This probably means I won’t get a chance to post again until after GLUE.  Who knows what the weekend will bring, but I am way, way behind on everything right now.  If anybody wants to help with LUG stuff or Open Everything stuff, I could certainly use it!

Pyle out, probably, Grainger in, hopefully…and other things I shouldn’t be doing while I should be finishing my passport application

I’m submitting this for longest blog title ever. 🙂

One of the problems I have with blogging consistently is that I feel like I share a lot of my thoughts on Twitter (multiple personal accounts and organization accounts – ask if you want them), identi.ca or through Google Reader.

So, the title track, if you will, is about Open Everything planning.  The Pyle Center seems to book up quickly.  Chris wasn’t sure if it was both conference extensions (Pyle and Lowell) or just Pyle, but for the time being we’re planning on it being in Grainger, where we had the December 6th event.

Also today, I got in touch with one of the MinneBar planners.  They do not have a date yet.  I’ve decided to take a vacation day the Friday beforehand though and visit North Dakota, since it’s one of only three state to which I have not been.  Vermont and Louisiana being the other two (I’ve been to Texas a couple times, Arkansas a couple times and live in Alabama for 8 years, but no Louisiana).  While living in Wisconsin, I am definitely not missing the opportunity to go to North Dakota. New Orleans and skiing in Vermont and  can wait.

Tomorrow is my first meeting as president of the Madison Linux User Group.  I want to discuss not always meeting on Fridays (mixing it up and doing one Tuesday and one Friday a month).  I’m thinking of doing the Tuesday meeting with Web608 group.  I wonder how people will feel about not everyone being Linux users.  I guess I’ll see tomorrow night.  I can’t forget the penguin!  Also, I have a late (11:30pm) futbol match after the meeting, so I can’t stay at the meeting too long!

Anything you guys would like me to talk about in my next post?

OpenCamp, Skype and reading

I was reading an article on Google Chrome and it’s spell-checking and was reminded that I said I’d write more on OpenCamp: An Open Everything Event today.  As I went looking for that link it was 11:59…so, I sorta hit the deadline. Though it’s going to get published “tomorrow”.  Anyway, I wanted to spend a little time discussing why exactly I didn’t have a chance to write much about OpenCamp.

For one, UNC beat Miami 69-65 and it’s a treat when the games are actually on here in Wisconsin, so I watched.  I then watched a little of the NBA All-Star game.  I have no idea when the last time I did that was.  It was probably in high school, but maybe even further back than that.  Not having papers to right or things I’m being forced to read has opened up a lot of time. This is not the place for sports talk though.  If you’re interested, check out my sports Twitter account.

Aside from the fun, I slept late (which was needed because this new cardio routine is wearing me out) and worked on Skype.  This is what I want to spend just a little time discussing.  Skype in Ubuntu 8.10, Ubuntu 9.04 and Windows XP all either crashes or drops calls.  Note that I’ve tried 8.10 and 9.04 on the same hardware (an HP), but also 8.10 on a Dell and Windows XP on an Acer.  I know some people use Skype as their primary phone and with all the problems I’ve had, I don’t see how this is possible.  Now, I already had a post about how the audio won’t work in Ubuntu 9.04.  The audio works fine in 8.10, Skype just crashes.  Assuming all these people that use Skype aren’t nuts, there’s a few points of problem.  I’m on Charter in Verona, WI and my friend is on Time Warner in Raleigh, NC.  Either of those providers could be doing something weird.  It could be something networking on her end or on my end.  I tried moving the computer closer to the router.  I’ve tried ending other bandwidth usage on the home network.  Wireless in 9.04 seems to be a little sketchy, but dropping calls shouldn’t cause the program to crash!  Tomorrow I plan to test with my parents and if we continue to get dropped calls, I’ll plug in to the router.  If I still get dropped calls, it’s likely either Charter or Time Warner (my parents also have Time Warner, but not in Raleigh).

Also, I should say I spent a fair amount of time testing dimdim and then Camfrog.  Despite what the Wikipedia article says, Camfrog does not appear to work in WINE on 8.10 or 9.04.  I guess this doesn’t really refute what the article says since the article says 8.0x (a clear indication they don’t understand the Ubuntu naming scheme), but I did have high hopes.  I’d like to use dimdim, since it’s FOSS, but I could not get audio to work in Linux and in Windows I could not get video to work.  Neither of the two individuals on the conference call with me could figure it out either.  It certainly isn’t as easy to use as Skpe and I gain nothing from using it, so I won’t be using that.

In happier news, dual monitors on Linux seems to be going much smoother these days.  The way the monitors are initially on top of each other is a bit bizarre though.  Using the second monitor has also killed my desktop effects, but I prefer the screen real estate.

I’m also soon to finish a book on Marx, which is interesting both from a community and from a historical perspective.  It’s interesting to me how much you can see later world events in what Marx said (but then again, this book was written in 1975, so maybe it’s designed that way).  Whatever your political leanings, now is the time to figure out something about economics and Marx was certainly an influential thinker and as an international community leader, I think there are some lessons to be learned from that aspect too.  Once I finish with that book I’ll probably be reading on travel books…though I don’t think I’ll be traveling as much in the next few years as I had originally planned.

Tomorrow should be a hectic day at work. Staff Meeting days always are. Assuming I get home at a reasonable hour, I’ll try to sort out what’s been going on on the Open Everything Madison list and maybe talk a bit about some of my ideas for sessions.

Open Everything Madison & Sweden news

My posts are often reflective and questioning, but nearly as often informative.  The “Where are we going?” question is much more interesting to me than the “Where have we been?” question.  I am, however, tasked with writing about Open Everything Madison on Saturday (as well as Berlin and Hong Kong), so I’ll try to post something substantial about that.  Of course, I’m already much more interested in the next Open Everything Madison.  You can see the planning for the next OEMad at http://openeverything.us

OEMad 2008

Aside from our poor job with documentation and the functional, but less than ideal, handoff from Berlin, I’d say the day was an overwhelming success.

Some of our documentation can be found at various twitter accounts.  Search for oemad and you should find them.  There’s also the Google search for oemadDebriefing notes are found on the main site as well as Articles and Resources.  Some pictures are at Flickr but as of posting Non-Profit Tech’s photos are not being indexed.

I’m both saddened and elated when I tell interested people about Creative Commons, Free Schools and Really, Really Free Markets.  Of course I’m saddened that these are more ubiquitous terms in our language, but mostly it’s a positive feeling.  I’m always scared that my political leanings (which I think free schools and RRFMs show) will feed the “open source is communism” argument.  As companies like OpenNMS, Red Hat and MindTouch clearly show, that’s a bunch of bunk.  As a technology person first, I fear that the benefits of open source code are lost to the politicized “freedom”.  Clearly I’m a fan of both.  At the moment I’m having trouble finding a succint list of the benefits of FOSS, so if you’re up for a longer read, check out Albion, one of the oldest sites on the Web.

It’s also incredibly disheartening to see people interested in free culture being down on Creative Commons liscensed music.  I listen to plenty of non-CC music, but I think at an event promoting openness, CC music should be played.  Or maybe other bands that promote openness that might not license CC.  I don’t know much about Radiohead, because that’s not the type of music to which I listen, but I think I’d be ok with their music playing.

We pretty much stuck to the schedule.  It wasn’t exact, but close.

We broke up into two groups for the 1:30pm-2:30pm Open Knowledge section and I (along with the other organizers) went with the Education and Libraries group.  Having a professor there was very beneficial.  As I mentioned above, I introduced a lot of people to the idea of free schools.  If you think free schools are weird, just remember that’s the only diploma former USC professor Cory Doctorow has.

The 2:30-3:30 Creativity, Innovation, and Economic Opportunity section was a lot of fun.  We had a small group to discuss Art, Content and Property and we mostly discussed music; Radiohead, Girl Talk, Creative Commons, Nine Inch Nails and Jamendo.

By the time we got to the technology part of the day (a little later than 3:30) everyone was starting to get tired.  But technology and openness are so easy, the discussion was still good.  One of my friends that attended most of the event said that keeping it a cohesive event and him not coming just for the technology portion certainly made it more interesting.

After the event and cleanup, four of us went out to get Sushi on State Street and of course the conversation continued.  After that, I headed to DevMadHouse at Extra Bold Portfolio Studio on Pickney St and 4 of the 6 people there had also been at OEMad, so the conversation continued and being a hack fest, centered more upon technology.  At DevMadHouse there was no schedule to adhere to and we had the venue all night so conversation was even more fluid.  There was some good conversation about FOSS in industry and whether Google is to be trusted with their Microsoft-like “embrace and extend” of OpenIDPhotis always makes sure I don’t live in a FOSS bubble, which I suppose is a good thing.  Also of note that weekend was MadXmasAbe and Jonathan went, leaving the rest of us behind at DevMadHouse and then returned. Photis came to DevMadHouse after MadXmas.

OEMad 2009

As mentioned above, there are complete and changing notes on OEMad09 on the wiki.  As much as I’d like to rehash all my ideas on that site so you have a single source of info, I don’t think that’s a good use of my time.  Please check out the site. However, here are some of my biggest ideas: open gaming (actually either playing games on Linux or FOSS games on other platforms), open food (we could make it!), open hardware (building!) and live music.  Getting a local documentary film maker to do a documentary on the process of making an open event happen would be totally cool too.  Please, please, please share your ideas for the next event either here or especially at http://openeverything.us.

Calling it OEMad first off might be a misnomer as I think there’s a good possibility it will be in Milwaukee.  Nothing is set in stone though.  Potential names would be Open Everything Wisconsin or Open Everything MidWest.  If there is any traction from Minneapolis or Chicago groups, we may not be able to claim OEMidWest.  Time will only tell.

Yesterday at work I asked a non-attendie what we would have to do to get him to come to the next one.  This is really the person in which I’m interested.  Linux needs a critical mass.  I’m ok admitting that part of why I support FOSS are selfish reasons.  I support universal healthcare for much of the same pseudo-altruistic reasons.  It’s not just for me, but also the institutions and people I care about. For instance, I hate to see my alma mater’s (NCSSM and UNC) throw money away at proprietary software.  Still, I’d say that’s a somewhat selfish motive.

Back to the point, he said “Open Strippers” half joking but we did have an interesting conversation then about Creative Commons and the idea of a performance.  A conversation that easily applies to live music performances and theatre.  I also mentioned the Girls and Geeks discussions at BarCampMilwaukee. Of course, there’s also open source sex.  So, I wonder what we could really make happen in this regard.  Not just the sex regard, but bringing people in the door who are lazy, unmotivated or simply uninterested in openness (or just don’t know it yet).  Of course, it’s the “just don’t know it yet” crowd in which I am really interested.


I bought a Flickr Pro account in anticipation of the Sweden trip this summer.  I figure this way I can post Christmas photos too.  I get a new camera for Christmas, so I suspect I’ll be taking a lot of pictures!  The Sweden trip will be 7-9 days.  My travel partner is wanting a shorter trip and I’m wanting a longer one, so I think keeping it at 9 days includes two weekends if you leave on the right days.  It will depend on what sort of deal AAA can help me with.  She is interested in dancing, the outdoors and visiting the cities.  I am interested in fotboll, ishockey and metall (probably any English speakers can make those out…especially if you know me).  So, I’m definitely looking for suggestions, both for her and for me.  We’ll also probably be visiting Helsinki, Finland.  I don’t know if we’ll have time to visit Copenhagen.  It’s so close, but we don’t want to feel rushed.  I’d kinda like to go north of the artic circle just for the experience.  That might make it so Siberia doesn’t interest me as much.

Well, typing all of that with a broken arm wasn’t entirely pleasant, but I’m glad I did it and I hope you enjoy.  If I had the time, I’d re-read for typoes, but whatever, release early, release often.  If you stop by, please leave a comment!

Shaping up to be a good one.

As usual, I’m running out of time for the day.  As I said in a comment to another post, I broke my arm on Friday.  This is going to slow me dowm in planning for Open Everything Madison.  However, some other problems I thought might happen for OEM are not going to be problems.  I’ll post more about that when I have some time.

Open Everything Madison (OEM)

If you’re curious, check out: http://groups.google.com/group/oemad

There will be more details posted here as they come about