2015-12-13 The Command Line Podcast

This is an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

I will be attending SCALE in the latter half of next month if anyone else planning to be there wants to meet up.

This time, I chat about some recent news stories that caught my attention, including:

You can subscribe to a feed of articles I am reading for more. You can follow my random podcast items on HuffDuffer too.

You can directly download the MP3 or Ogg Vorbis audio files. You can grab additional formats and audio source files from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

2015-10-31 The Command Line Podcast

This is an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

This time, I chat about some recent news stories that caught my attention, including:

Also, I am considering attending Scale in the latter half of January. Whether I go or not, you should check the event out.

You can subscribe to a feed of articles I am reading for more. You can follow my random podcast items on HuffDuffer too.

You can directly download the MP3 or Ogg Vorbis audio files. You can grab additional formats and audio source files from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

2015-10-24 The Command Line Podcast

This is an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

This time, I chat about some recent news stories that caught my attention, including:

You can subscribe to a feed of articles I am reading for more.

You can directly download the MP3 or Ogg Vorbis audio files. You can grab additional formats and audio source files from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

2015-10-17 The Command Line Podcast

This is an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

This time, I chat about some recent news stories that caught my attention, including:

And a special shout out for listener Kevin who just launched a Kickstarter campaign for Trans*Geek Movie. Please help spread the word and consider becoming a backer.

You can subscribe to a feed of articles I am reading for more.

You can directly download the MP3 or Ogg Vorbis audio files. You can grab additional formats and audio source files from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

TCLP 2015-03-29 My Drivable Computer

My New CarThis is an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

This episode is an experiment. I recorded an extemporized monologue in my car during what is a fairly regular drive for my right now. I expressed my gratitude for, and inspiration from, Patrick McLean, in particular his return to The Seanachai, and Dave Slusher.

I talked about the new car I bought at the end of January, my reasons for buying it and my experience of genuinely feeling that I am driving a computer.

You can grab the flac encoded audio from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License

Outreach Program for Women

I have increasingly been reading, thinking and writing about the question of inclusion and diversity in the world of technology in general and within FLOSS more specifically. I am most in read and learn mode.

When I come across something worthwhile, though, I do like to share; especially examples of people and projects actively working to improve things. One that I not only came across recently but have the very good fortune to participate in for my day job, is the Outreach Program for Women being run by the Gnome Foundation.

Outreach Program for Women (OPW) internships were inspired in many ways by Google Summer of Code and by how few women applied for it in the past. This was reflective of a generally low number of women participating in the FOSS development. The GNOME Foundation first started the internships program with one round in 2006, and then resumed the effort in 2010 with 4 more rounds organized every half a year. In the previous round, the Software Freedom Conservancy joined the Outreach Program for Women with one internship with the Twisted project. This round, we’ve expanded the program to include several other FOSS organizations.

You cand find the full information on the program, including details on mentoring organizations and how to apply, here.

While, full disclosure, I am writing this post for the benefit of my employer and the work I do at the Open Technology Institute, this is an endorsement, and a request for help in spreading the word, that I can whole heartedly personally endorse as well. The Outreach Program for Women isn’t just a good idea but in the short span it has been run, it has yield some sustained, concrete successes in terms of interest and participation from women.

My sole regret is that I was unable to write and publish this post sooner. The deadline is Monday but since this is the final wekk before applications are due, mentors are able to work more closely with candidates in selecting and completing their first contributions to the participating projects.

Want More Pay-What-You-Want Goodness? Try “Nikki and the Robots”

What strikes me about the Humble Bundles so far is that not only do you get a fair deal, in terms of price and being treated like a grown adult by not crippling the various media on offer with DRM, but the content itself is generally well above average. In the case of the Humble Bundles, I think credit goes to the various editors and curators who have put the packages together. However, there may be some correlation between the choice to use this business model and incredibly talented and creative folks.

Case in point: Nikki and the Robots.

A listener of mine who has been working on this game emailed me right as the Humble eBook Bundle was climbing towards its staggering $1.2M peak. Right away, the similarities are clear. The Humble Indie Bundles that contain video games have all been cross platform, like Nikki, as well as sporting the pay what you want model and foregoing the burdens of DRM, also like Nikki.

The studio behind this game, Joyride Labs, has gone further. There is a full, playable version you can snag for free. And it is available under an open source license (some of the Humble Bundle games have been openl licensed as a condition of meeting sales targets.) The free version comes with a level editor and there are a good number of sample and contributed levels that demonstrate the various charms of the game. What you get if you set your price and buy the story episode is a narrative mode that completes the full on nostalgia this game brings for 8-bit platformers. While there is currently only one story episode so far, more are promised and buying the first episode nets you all the future ones at no additional cost.

So what about the game itself? The pixel art is an unmistakable and loving homage to Nikki’s earliest ancestors. Even the character design and overall look and feel are a whimsical throwback to games without hugely elaborate backstories, but tantalizing hints about why the characters throw themselves around their frenetic, brightly colored 2D worlds.

Don’t let the graphic design fool you. Gameplay is smooth, convincing and challenging in a way that belies the vintage look, revealing deep roots in realistic physics models and an ethos in puzzle design clearly meant to inspire the player to new heights, often literally, through near impossible challenges and the amazing sense of accomplishment that comes of just nearly squeaking through to toggle the last switch, to collect the last battery. The titular robots add a twist that was a later development for the platformer genre as a whole but one that when used well extends the playability and the enjoyment. It is deployed to excellent effect in Nikki, offering the player at various points throughout each level, the ability to take control of one or more robots, the different abilities of each adding a subtle and engaging variation on the game play that also more fully shows off the Chipmunk physics engine.

My sole complaint as a long time gamer who has most recently been taken with gaming on my phone and tablet is the lack of an Android port. That is really a minor drawback as the game is fun, beautiful and engaging enough on any of the OSes on which it does run to draw me back to my various Linux machines to tease out a little more of the well crafted story and enjoy the original and addictive soundtrack.

Of course, with a free to play option, you certainly don’t have to take my word for it alone. Go on, download it and let me know what you think; better yet let me know if you agree its worth kicking in to see what episode 2 may hold in store or what other wonderful projects Joyride Labs may yet undertake.

FLOSS and Tech Geek BoF III at Balticon 45 – Updated

(Updated to correct the obviously wrong date.)

For the past two years at Balticon, the annual convention run by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society, I’ve organized an unofficial and largely ad hoc gathering of FLOSS and general technology enthusiasts. (Here’s my announcement from last year.) Turnout has been small but dedicated and I enjoy doing it as a bit of a warm up before getting into the con proper.

I will be convening the birds of a feather again this year, in the same place around the same time. Instead of two hours, I’ve decided to simply offset it by half an hour from the official schedule and hang around for an hour. Why offset it? For the same reason I scheduled it for 2 hours in years past, so folks can join even if they have other commitments. If enough people show and want to keep the discussion going, there is no reason we cannot continue the conversation.

What: Birds of a feather, a term from technology conferences that simply refers to an off schedule or unofficial gathering driven by mutual interest rather than a specific topic or event

Where: The Paddock Bar (You cannot miss the hotel bar, even if you’ve never been to the Hunt Valley Marriott, it is straight through the lobby. Also it is a public space so if you are in the area but not attending the con you can still join us.)

Who: The bald hacker (me) with the Tux table sign and small, bean bag penguin

When: Friday, May 27th from 9:30PM to 10:30PM (longer if there is interest)

Why: Because there is a not surprisingly high proportion of FLOSS and tech geeks amongst the usual con going crowd

Hope to see you there!

feeds | grep links > Circumventing Chinese Censors on a Kindle, Open Flash Tool Now Closed, Faced Detection for Web Apps, and More

  • Kindle allowing bypass of Chinese censoring firewall
    Slashdot points to an interesting use for the otherwise not very freedom friendly device. Apparently, however the 3G service is provided locally in China, it isn’t being subjected to the same censorship as regular net access. I tend to agree with Professor Kwan’s interpretation, that those in charge of the firewall simply don’t realize the Kindle can be used for anything other than buying and reading books.
  • Adobe temporarily closes their Flex SDK
    According to a conversation with the product manager initiated by The Register, the public source code repository and patch submission for Flex will be closed for a couple of releases. This stems from the fact that while the tool itself, used for creating Flash and AIR apps, is open, the platform is closed. In order to build against the un-released new versions of closed platform components, it is necessary to also close Flex. This demonstrates one considerable risk of working with a set of tools that isn’t all open.
  • Face detection with HTML5 and JavaScript
    Klint Finley at ReadWriteWeb describes a new library that the developer sees as helping with automatically tagging photos online. Even if it doesn’t evolve from face detection to full on recognition, you could easily see how a distributed, in browser trick like this could be effectively coupled with crowd intelligence to allow web applications to offer almost as good identity based tags. I think it is far more interesting to consider how the library might open up compelling, novel interactions with web applications based on a user’s movements and orientation in space. That avenue of thought is less concerning from a privacy perspective, too.
  • Publisher sells DRM-free ebooks to libraries , BoingBoing
  • OpenBSD 4.8 released, Slashdot

Quick Security Alerts for the Week Ending 10/17/2010