Thought about changing to Linux but have some Windows application you just can’t live without? Today’s a good day for you. CrossOver, a for-pay, supported version of Wine that usually costs $59.95, is available free today only. It includes one year’s worth of support and upgrades. Visit CodeWeavers’ Flock The Vote site to download CrossOver starting at midnight Central Time (+6 GMT).
CrossOver (and likewise, Wine) allow you to run Windows programs on a Linux system (or Mac). You can check the compatability of a specific piece of software by searching here. Want to play games–FPS or RPG? Or do you need something for school? There’s even embroidery software in their list of 10,454 compatibile applications.
For Linux, you need an x86 system running a current version of Debian, Fedora, Mint, openSUSE, or Ubuntu. For Mac, you should be running Leopard (10.5) or later.
Feel like you’ve heard of Linux, but aren’t really sure who makes it or what it does? Watch this new video from The Linux Foundation to find out just how much you already interact with Linux every day as well as the story of how it gets put together.
The Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) celebrates its tenth year with a new feature, called SCALE: The Next Generation. The free and open source community of today is reaching out to their future leaders by hosting this mini-event for kids within the larger Linux conference.
Mimi Cafiero and Malakai Wade, eighth graders already with backgrounds in open source software, will kick off the event with their presentation on “Ultimate Randomness 2.0.” Kids can also learn about youth-friendly software like Tux Paint and how to get started working on open source software projects, even while they’re still young.
SCALE will be held January 20-22 at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport hotel with more than 100 seminars and presentation sessions. SCALE: The Next Generation will be held Saturday, January 21, beginning at 10 a.m. Admission for SCALE: The Next Generation is free with an accompanying adult–you can register here. (And if you do decide to come by, both you and the kids are welcome at my newbie-friendly talk on Sunday, “The Pop Culture Guide to Open Source.”)
Maybe you’ve heard of Linux but aren’t really sure what it’s all about. Or maybe you’re a kernel developer. Either way, this is a great video.
For the “Lin-what?” crowd: In 1991, Linus Torvalds, a student in Helsinki, sent a now-famous email that kicked off what’s now known as the open source operating system Linux. Twenty years later, Linux runs the fastest supercomputers in the world all the way down to much smaller computers you use every day.
For those who already knew that: This year’s Linux Foundation Video Contest is all about the 20th anniversary. Torvalds will be picking his favorite one-minute video that celebrates Linux’s past, present, and/or future.
And finally, that video I mentioned–the Linux Foundation has created its own quick history to celebrate the 20-year milestone.
I spent last weekend in Tempe, Arizona, at FUDCon, the Fedora Users and Developers Conference. For the less technically adventurous among our GeekMom friends, Fedora is a distribution of Linux, the open source operating system. If you’re not familiar, you can learn more at fedoraproject.org.
A BarCamp-style unconference
FUDCon is an unconference, BarCamp-style. In this meeting method, attendees suggest sessions (they in general are also volunteering to lead them). They give quick pitches for their talks, and everyone votes on which sessions they’d like to go to. The winners are compiled into an agenda. You can get an idea of how the FUDCon sessions were put together through the conference wiki.
You might think at a conference with “developer” in the title that everything is very technically focused. But FUDCon has sessions even for beginners and contributors who couldn’t write a single line of code–projects like Fedora need designers, documentation writers, marketing, etc. So here are some highlights from a few of the non-technical sessions I dropped in on.
The anthropology of open source communities
There are certain talks that you see over and over again when you go to open source conferences, but this was (refreshingly) a new one on me. As a part of her anthropology master’s degree in 2009 and 2010, Diana Harrelson did a study on the Fedora community over the course of two releases. She was interested in the motivations of Fedora contributors, the foundations of an open source community, and in making recommendations on how to sustain and grow that community.
You can read more about the study in my short summary or in detail on Diana’s blog, where she writes about the anthropology of gaming, blogging, social networking, and online communities.
Open source in education
This session was a great example of how things can turn out in a unconference. Four people had thrown out ideas for education-related talks. In the final conference schedule, they were combined into one session. On the up side, you get to hear a lot in an hour. On the down side, someone who might have prepared to talk for 45 minutes now has to cram that content into 10-20. The good news is that they were all from people whose work is well documented online, making it easy to share with you:
This won’t be a surprise for any of you in the tech industry, but I think there’s a good chance that I was the only one at FUDCon who would qualify as a GeekMom, and it’s not for a lack of geeks. Out of nearly 200 attendees, I counted ten women.
A lot of other people in a lot of places have debated the lack of women in open source and in technology in general, so I won’t go down that rabbit hole here. But I will say that there’s definitely room for you in the community, and that you are welcome. You don’t have to know how to hack code. Software communities need non-programmers too. If you’re interested in getting involved, from any point of view, here are a few links to get you started:
It’s been two months. I’ve had an iPhone for a grand total of two months. And I still straddle my Apple vs Other fence, yet to waver to one side or the other.
As with any piece of technology I’ve adapted to it. I’ve developed new muscle memory and am now accustomed to its quirks. My Droid now seems bulky and ungainly. My calls are on forward and Droid now exists as a very expensive alarm clock and occasional vehicular distraction tool for my daughter. (Unfortunately I’m still under my personal contract with Verizon and its a family plan so I can’t just cancel it. So there it sits, the world’s most expensive 911 emergency dialer…) I still have a soft spot in my heart for it, but I don’t think I could go back to it. However, if my iPhone were to be lost, broken, or taken from me, I’d go back to the Droid line in a heart beat. On the other hand, I’m not willing to chuck the Apple product either.
After a bit of good, hard use that finally extended beyond Angry Birds and Words With Friends, I do have some new observations. First, I still hate the on-screen keyboard. I don’t have fat, weak, short, or stupid fingers. I have freakishly long fingers, I type over 60 WPM, and play the electric bass. My fingers are probably stronger and more agile than your average mom. But so help me, watching me type on that keyboard, one would think I was using my big toe and tongue to hack out a message in Dutch. And it doesn’t matter how I orient the phone, I miss on about every other letter. Thankfully the auto-fill is nominally intelligent and catches most of the stuff I fail at. Although, one particular instance saw me text my mom that I was going to *PROFANITY WARNING* “Roast the penis and then fix the next bitch”. Apparently auto-fill thinks I have a potty mouth as that sentence was supposed to be “Roast the peanuts and then fix the next batch,” in reference to some holiday peanut butter cookies. Thanks to my inattention, I sent that. To my mom. To. My. MOM.
I also miss the back button. The Droid phones offer a back button that is reminiscent of your web browser’s back button. It flips you back page for page through the various apps you were working in. The iPhone 4 has something similar. You can double click the Home button and it will show you a list of all the apps running in the background, but it’s not quite the same thing. Scroll through, select the right one, and you are there. It might just be a personal preference or a habit born of way too many hours on Internet Explorer. (I know, antique browser technology. I use Google Chrome now, thank you.) But the back button is a forgetful mom’s best friend. I have a terrible habit of forgetting why it is I left an app in the first place. I blame it on the kid.
My third major issue with iPhone is the synching. It did not seem like such a dramatic ordeal to hook my Droid to my PC, move music files, pics, and videos from one to another. Doing this on iPhone reminds me of planning a family vacation. It shouldn’t be as complicated as it always is.
First, you can only synch to one iTunes account. Because this is a company-issued phone I have my iTunes on my work PC. Not a giant issue, as I spend more of my waking time at work than at home, all things considered. But I spend more of my time at home playing around in iTunes than at work. And if I get an itch to jam out to some old school Freezepop on Friday evening, I have to wait ’til Monday to get it on my phone. Chances are pretty great my longing for synth-pop will have faded by then.
Second, despite my every effort, and no small amount of knowledge about basic Windows operation, I can’t get either device to stop deriding me for asking two rivals to momentarily cooperate. Every time I plug my iPhone into my PC I get a friendly window reminding me that “This device is not optimized for performance with your Apple device.” Yes, I understand that I don’t have a Mac. You needn’t remind me of that constantly. It gets a little grating after the 1000th time. I totally understand performance specs, compatibility, even guerrilla marketing techniques, but goodness gracious, people, know when enough is enough. I know damn well you can code that fun little message to shut up after so many attempts. Chances are pretty great that if I haven’t gone skittering out of the house to raid the Apple Store by message # 543, I’m not gonna do it after message # 544, # 545, or # 546 either.
Now, to my Jobian readers, this is not a “trash the iPhone” post. I’ve actually found quite a few things I truly enjoy about it. Not the least of which is, it’s so much easier to run with the crowd. The Droids are a bit of the underdog and having gotten a much later start in the app world, there is just not a whole lot out there for them. Plus, in the spirit of open source sharing, there is absolutely no moderation in Droid’s AppWorld.
Apple iTunes & AppStore, for all the crap they get, win on moderation. While some apps are worthless just in principle, I can be sure that they won’t make my phone explode or my OS spiral into a codex vortex of doom, despair, and death. There is no such guarantee for Droid or Blackberry.
Plus, I love the accessories. Oh so many accessories. I’m well aware that the number of random cases available for technology should not be a deciding factor in whether or not I support the product, but I really can’t help it. When it comes right down to it, I’m very much a girly girl and having enough cases to choose from so that I can match my phone to my purse, which is coordinated to my outfit, which is then tastefully contrasted to my shoes…that is some sort of queer little mini-heaven for this geek. Then all the little plug-ins and extenders and ear buds and docking stations you can add, oh the possibilities are endless. Again, I know such things are available on other platforms as well, but due to popularity and longevity, iPhone has so much more available, and often for cheaper.
I’m still periodically floored by the internal gyroscopes. (OK, more accurately, they are gyroscopic sensors). I mean it knows how it is sitting and can sense the tiniest shift in position. Just a twitch and the phone understands. How freakin’ cool is that?
I’m terribly impressed with the resiliency of the machine. Having moved from the world of Droid where aerodynamics hadn’t really been a consideration, I was pretty sure I was gonna snap the cursed thing within the first day. When I first got it my accident-prone, butterfingers of a daughter wasn’t allowed to look at it from a distance, much less touch it. And the kid didn’t get those unlucky traits from thin air. Her mother isn’t any better. I’ve broken three cell phones out of the five I have owned, and that was being careful. I spent the first month babying it like a Faberge egg until I had my first major drop. Not just a gentle slide off the couch to the carpeted floor, but a good 4-foot drop to asphalt. I was helping my daughter out of the car on a rather moist day when her tennis shoes slipped. I needed both hands to prevent the face-plant and one hand had been holding the iPhone. The iPhone was replaceable, my daughter’s teeth, not so much. The phone clattered to the ground, my daughter was saved. I picked the phone back up expecting shattered screen and a lecture from the IT guy at work. But lo and behold, the thing was fine. Not even a chip where the corner impacted the ground.
The phone was technically in a case, but not one that I would think could offer much protection. The hard plastic kinds are more decorative in nature. They’ll protect from scratches sure, but impact resistance I doubt. Since then it’s experienced a few more minor falls and one incident involving an overzealous (hormone-induced) fingerprint removal attempt and has come through all like a champ.
Overall I’m still pleased with the product itself but have yet to fully jump on the bandwagon. The deadline for the purchase of my new laptop is looming ever closer and I still don’t know what to get. I still say that had I been spending my own hard-earned money, I likely would not have invested in the iPhone. As terrific the display, numerous the apps, groundbreaking the gyro, and prolific the accessories, the goofy little thing is expensive!
And not to get wrapped up in the good, better, best marketing ploy, now Verizon and US Cellular have 4G available. Really, couldn’t Apple have waited just a touch longer and released iPhone4G? I know, I know. Now the hyper-tech geeks who have an embedded urge to constantly have the newest and greatest will be suckered into buying a new $500 phone a mere eight months after they bought a now antiquated $500 phone and, cha-ching, the dollars keep on a-flowin in the good ol’ American capitalist system. (The previous was not a statement about the government, just the consumerism inherent in our culture.) Just once in a while I prove that I have not fully slaughtered the optimist I once was. Relax, I’m working on it. Tax season is just around the corner. That always gives me some nice blunt sticks to bludgeon her with.
So, two months in, I’m undecided. What do you get when you are undecided? Linux?