Here are a few reasons I use openSUSE and why its one of the best choices in the GNU/Linux world.
Swapnil Bhartiya summarizes his reasons for using openSUSE. I could hardly improve on this text, and heartily approve.
It’s an important day in the history of the Internet. Despite enormous pressure from the Big Media corporations, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) bowed to the democratic pressure of millions of Internet users. These users demanded strong protections against “slow lanes” for their network connections, and to preserve equal protection for all content traveling across the public Internet.
I’ve written about this before, most recently just after President Barack Obama came out for “the strongest possible protection for net neutrality.” If you’re confused by this whole thing, I hope that piece will help clarify things for you.
Speaking of confusing, some of the arguments made today against the plan were … interesting. For months, Republican legislators have been denouncing a plan to change the way Internet domain names are allocated around the world as “Obama’s plan to give away the Internet.” Did you notice how today, some opponents of strong net neutrality rules called this “Obama’s secret plan to control the Internet.”
It’s worth spending some time watching the FCC meeting video. The FCC’s two opponents of strong net neutrality spent much of their debate time defending assorted companies that would be hurt by these rules. They also suggested that the public had not been heard on the matter. It was almost a breathtaking attempt to pretend that the 4 million responses to the original (far less neutral) rule presented last May didn’t exist.
That said, I agree with two things Ajit Pai and Mike O’Rielly said. There should have been more public hearings where ordinary people could speak to the commissioners directly. Like other advocates for net neutrality, I’m pretty confident we would have won that battle too.
I also don’t exactly see why Commission chair Tom Wheeler couldn’t have released the new proposal a few days ago. It’s a new era; people expect transparency. And there’s no doubt few minds would have changed in the process.
I loved this tweet from Anil Dash:
One year ago, every person I know who understands the FCC or internet policy considered net neutrality dead. But the people were heard.
It’s the truth. A salute to the organizations that even opponents conceded had led the fight:
Folks I’m probably forgetting too.
Corporations just don’t lie down when they’ve been defeated. We still have the best Congress money can buy. Courts too. As the founders used to say, “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” So connect with the groups above, and we’ll win more victories!
News defined by you.
If you’re a nonfiction writer (or even a fiction writer who addresses real-world topics), you need to keep up with the latest news in your field of expertise. @Robin Goodtells us about Defcomb, a new curation tool that finds material on the web relevant to your oh-so-specific needs. I look forward to trying it.
Been reading a lot lately on one of my favorite topics: How to realize the democratic promise of the Internet.
You have to do more than vote periodically to call yourself a citizen. Especially true when it comes to the Internet, where no one really votes to decide on the critical issues.
That’s why the impending US Federal Communications Commission vote on net neutrality is so important — because we all had a role in moving the bureaucrats toward the right answer.
That’s not what I’m on about today, though. There’s a convergence of coincidences to tell you about.
Sunday, I finished Consent of the Networked, Rebecca MacKinnon’s book from 2012 (and an update for the 2013 paperback edition) about the “worldwide struggle for Internet freedom.” MacKinnon is a former CNN correspondent in China that now manages Global Voices Online. This is a good, if occasionally dated, outline of the various battlegrounds facing human right activists when taking their struggles online.
As is typical of these types of books, it closes out with a manifesto intended to describe the perfect online world. These are usually quite inspiring, but lacking in ways of getting from here to there. While I don’t agree with everything MacKinnon wrote in these pages, she does indeed realize that without a social movement, we won’t ever get her manifesto realized, or anyone else’s vision. Democracy isn’t a spectator sport.
(Something else I’m not on about today, but might be some other time: In a perfect world, the global Internet might be rightfully managed by a global organization that might have a name like the International Telecommunications Union. MacKinnon persuades me that in this world, that’s a really bad idea.)
MacKinnon proves her commitment to this principle (of action) by maintaining the book’s website consentofthenetworked.com, years after its publication. She blogs actively there, but more importantly she maintains a directory of digital democracy activist organizations on the Get Involved! tab of the site. I know it’s real and current because some of the listed organizations weren’t born yet when the paperback came out.
Monday, I was going to begin working my way through the list to find places for information and the best places to channel my own energies, but then this piece on Medium showed up in my news feed. It’s called “Building an Internet Movement from the Bottom Up” by Tim Karr, one of the leaders of Free Press. Fabulous essay, with a couple of very important reminders:
It’s a fight not playing out between smartphone packing protesters and security forces, but among the Internet governance community — a globe-trotting tribe of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international agencies, world leaders and corporate CEOs.
For as long as the World Wide Web has existed these groups have debated its control and administration. What rules should govern a network that transcends national boundaries to connect people everywhere?
It’s a discussion — replete with international agency acronyms and jargon (“multistakeholderism” anyone?) — that leaves the rest of us scratching our heads.
and there’s a new coalition of civil society organizations:
The coalition is organized on the belief that the Internet must evolve in the public interest with the full participation of the billions of Internet users who aren’t in the mix at Davos.
It plans to build a global network of grassroots groups that can better organize and amplify the concerns of those people often on the wrong side of the digital divide. The group plans also to convene the first Internet Social Forum later this year.
And hey, there’s going to be another manifesto developed! But not just out of a single mind, this will be (theoretically) the result of a crowdsourced process over the coming months. With a global coalition of organizations that (theoretically) will commit to realizing it.
I hope there’s some way for folks like me to get involved in this process, though. Seems focused (for now) on organizations.
Will follow this process closely. Let’s make it work!
I opened my Notepad++ text editor and got a most interesting surprise. It told me there was an update available, and did I want it? That’s not unusual; but what happened next certainly was.
The software quickly updated, and (again as usual) asked me if I wanted to run it. When it opened, the following text magically typed itself into a fresh file:
Pretty darn cool. I salute the Notepad++ team, and all who have taken a stand for free speech, free press and free expression.
Apparently the Notepad++ developers paid a small price for this tiny bit of courage. Read the linked article and the Related Articles below.
Some random and probably disjointed thoughts on Wednesday’s events in Paris. As a onetime journalist (and a lifelong news junkie) I’m still a little numb.
Satire is a hard business. Just ask Jon Stewart, Bassem Youssef, or any Onion writer. Editorial cartooning is even harder, as it is part of the point to draw a hard and unmistakable line. I won’t pretend that I’ve ever read Charlie Hebdo, in translation or in French. Yet it’s clear that we must stand in solidarity with them, for they were brave and uncompromising.
On days like this every media organization on the planet should publish things that offend everyone.
— Dan Gillmor (@dangillmor) January 7, 2015
My hometown newspaper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, had two editorial cartoonists for years after the morning and afternoon papers merged. A year or so ago, they dumped the last full-timer, in favor of two syndicated editorial cartoons a day (usually one just left-of-center and the other just right-of-center). A month ago, they dropped the separate op-ed page and drastically cut the number of letters they published. Oh, and there’s just one syndicated cartoon left. It will probably be on the right side of free expression, but in a relatively bland and inoffensive way.
So spend some time with your favorite satirists today, and recommit to exercising your freedom of expression. Start a blog!
If you haven’t got a favorite satirist, you can start with a couple more of my favorite satirists (feel free to share your favorites in the Comments):
Now I know all of you already have Build Your Author Platform: The New Rules and gotten copies for all your friends and family who want to be successful writers. Perhaps you’re thinking “Mike, that book is seven months old! Isn’t there something more recent?” Yes, we’re all still on Internet time. Maybe you’re not a writer, but still want to master social media to build awareness of your business, your cause…maybe even your thirst for celebrity. I’ve got an idea for you.
The team of Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick have mastered social media as well as, or better than, just about anyone. It doesn’t hurt that Kawasaki is a tech marketing legend (Apple, Motorola and the like), but the 123 tips included in The Art of Social Media will be useful to anyone who wants to gather a following on the Internet.
This easy read (I think I knocked it out in 3-4 sessions) is less focused on services, but the principles shared will help you develop an overall social media strategy. When the Next Big Buzz social platform makes its appearance, you should be able to master it quickly.
This is not to say that you don’t learn a lot about Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, SlideShare, Google+ and Pinterest. You’ll pick up stuff about optimizing posts for each of these platforms, mastering the use of hashtags across services, and trying to understand how each platform adds stuff to your newsfeed.
Among the truths unlocked:
I am happy to say that Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick don’t contradict anything Carole Jelen and I said in Build Your Author Platform. I’ll also say that I learned things from this book. As a result, you may see more of me on Pinterest. You’ll learn new things too, no matter how far along you are in your social media journey.
A reasonable amount of planning went into the posts for National Blog Post Month this year. Since some of them didn’t quite get done, we’ve got some good stuff in the pipeline to share in the coming weeks. As a way to shamelessly beg to keep all my new readers around, here’s what’s coming up soon at Notes from the Metaverse:
I’ll still look for more community-based efforts (like the KDE Gardeners) to make free software better.
Usual disclaimers apply: Forward looking statements are not hard commitments. Other topics may intervene in the meantime. Also check MichaelMcCallister.com for posts about writing, building author platforms and the like.
Hope you have a terrific December!
And so we come to the end of National Blog Post Month ). For the second year in a row, I (nearly) managed to post something here every day in November. Technically, this is Post #29 — there’s another one coming before the end of the day., where I commit to covering some of the technical topics I touched on this month. Last year, I finished the month with some lessons I learned; I’m going to do the same here. It’s not worth completing a challenge if you don’t learn something from it.
By the way, if you’ve participated in NaBloPoMo, especially for the first time, I humbly suggest looking at that link to last year’s post. There’s some good stuff in there.
I did a little more planning of topics this year (even though November snuck up on me again), but some of the better posts came as a result of reading other people’s stuff in my RSS feed and email. I even wrote one post that described my process, which was equal parts planning and serendipity.
While both BlogHer and WordPress.com offered topic prompts every day, I didn’t want to stray too far from the typical topics here just to complete a post. I’ll pat myself on the back, and declare that a good decision.
As with last year, NaBloPoMo raised the general interest in Notes from the Metaverse. The most popular posts from the last 30 days remained the technical ones:
Just one of these posts was not written this month. My Installing openSUSE 12.1 post from a while back is still pretty useful for v13.2, and I hope those who read it agree! All of these could be considered “technical,” and nearly all about open source software (though I don’t think the comet-lander was running KDE Plasma Desktop).
I also made some new friends this month. Welcome to all my new followers!
Notes from the Metaverse has always shrived to be an interactive space, where readers can comment on the material they read. It largely fails in that mission, but I understand. People are busy.
I am happy that some of you are getting comfortable with the Like button, though. Using that standard of popularity, here’s what you liked best:
I enjoy most of the process of NaBloPoMo, and will undoubtedly take part again next year. I think you should too. I’ll repeat myself just this once: Last year, I wrote (and stand by):
Congratulations to all those who successfully completed the NaBloPoMo challenge. To those who feel like they fell short: it’s really all about the effort. Life intervenes. But please keep on posting! Writing every day is essential for anyone who considers themselves a writer; blogging offers the opportunity to publish every day too–take advantage of this as often as you can!
Since we’ve written several posts recently about open source communities, let’s highlight one more example of community members seeing a problem and trying to solve it.
KDE is the oldest graphical desktop environment for Linux, and I’ve used it since the day I installed Corel Linux in 2001 (forgive me if I’ve offered those two facts a hundred times before). It’s a big, complicated software collection (with 300+ software repositories), now undergoing its third major overhaul to KDE Frameworks 5 providing the technical underpinnings of the accompanying Plasma 5 Desktop. In all that time, there are going to be bugs that remain unsolved, and applications that grow stale.
Spanish KDE developer Albert Astals Cid came to the annual Akademy conference with an idea: Put together a team to name and find people to fix longstanding bugs and important, but unmaintained projects. What became the KDE Gardening Team.
The Gardeners are different from the project’s quality assurance team, though it chooses a “Bug of the Month” that needs some attention. It’s really kind of a triage or rescue squad for KDE applications. As described in both Cid’s introductory blog post and the Gardening Team’s main page:
The mandate of the team is to:
I love this description from the Gardeners’ page on the KDE Community Wiki of what qualifies as the “Bug of the Month”:
Those bugs often raise endless discussions from frustrated users about how KDE developers do not care. The truth is, most developers are not even aware of them, because the issues do not happen on their system.
The current “Bug of the Month” is a fun one, dating back to 2011, with 65 comments: “When I opened my laptop from sleep, and … logged in and saw my desktop this crash report was there.”
The Gardeners’ first “love project” revived the venerable CD manager, K3b. Version 2.0 was originally released in 2010, and v2.0.2 came out a relatively short time after that. Since then, developers had worked on v2.1, fixing some bugs plaguing existing users, but never getting released.
After the Gardeners’ applied some love to the project, K3b v2.0.3 came out a few days ago!
Next in line for some love is KRecipes. This recipe manager works pretty well by all reports, but was last released in November 2010. Incidentally for any technical writers reading this: the KRecipes Handbook (user guide) is not yet complete for the KDE 4 version of the software. Should you be inclined to help, see the current text here.
Once this project makes progress, KTorrent is likely the leading candidate for the next Love Project.
The KDE Gardening Team is now composed of around a half-dozen contributors to the Team mailing list. You can view the archives and subscribe to the list on this page.
I’d like to spotlight other communities’ smart activities here at Notes from the Metaverse in the future. If you’re participating in something cool, or know of a similar project to the KDE Gardeners, let me know, either by email, or commenting on this post.