Tuesday Mar 20, 2007

The Other Three are...

In answer to Saturday's Bar Bet, the Patron Saints of Scotland, England and Wales are: Andrew, George and David.

 St Patrick - Ireland
 St Andrew - Scotland
 St George - England

St. David - Wales


Whats particularly interesting, which my boss Simon (I had to put in this glam shot ;-) turned me on to, is the fact that Union Jack (technically the Union Flag) is actually made up of the flags of the three of the four guys above:

Flag of St George + Flag of St Andrew + Flag of St Patrick = Union Jack

Turns out the reason St David didnt get his flag included is because Wales was a principality and not a kingdom.  Thats a bummer cause I think it would have been totaly cool to have a dragon right in the middle of the Union Jack! 

Pau for now...

Saturday Mar 17, 2007

Bar Bet -- Can you name the other Three?

Well today is Saint Patrick's day, a day for revelry and libations in many locations across the globe.

Now most people know that St. Pat is the patron saint of Ireland, the guy who chased all the snakes out of Eire. (Fun facts to know and tell:  St. Patrick's real name was Maewyn Succat.  Do you think growing up he got teased about his name by the other kids on the playground?)

The question is, can you name the other three patron saints that make up the fab four of Great Britain and Ireland?  That is to say, who are the patron saints of England, Scotland and Wales?

One hint, the patron saint of England is NOT Simon Templar.

Tune in next time for the answers (no fair using Google).

Pau for now... 

Monday Feb 12, 2007

Austin or Bust

The time has come the walrus said...to get the heck out of Silicon Valley.  Given the job Im doing, working with the GNU/Linux community and managing Sun's relationship with the FSF, its a job that I can do anywhere.  I choose to do it in Austin.

Its been a great 12 years here in the Bay Area but now with three little monkeys to support it doesnt seem to make as much sense.  Austin on the other hand...that seems to make a lot of sense.  For starters, for half the price of our house here we are building a house in Austin twice the size.  To put that into perspective, the size of our house in Austin will be larger than our entire lot here in San Jose.  All that and we get great public schools and no state income tax.  A beautiful blue oasis in a large red desert.  A great place to raise kids.

The movers are packing up the house as I type this and tomorrow they'll come to haul it all away.  The wife and kids have already gone to the in-laws (once the furniture arrives I'll retrieve the family).  The following day I will leave before the crack of dawn and begin the journey to Austin.  Driving long distances seems to be so quintessentially American.  I look forward to doing my patriotic duty and driving half-way across country.  My 25 hours of driving time will take me through California, Arizona, New Mexico and then into the heart of Texas.  Ive got my ipod, my cds, and my camera, Im good to go.

Aloha, California, its been great!  I promise Ill visit.

Pau for now...

Monday Jan 29, 2007

The Teachings of Richard Stallman - The Cliffs Notes

Last Saturday I got to present at PFOSSCON '07 held on Oahu at the University of Hawaii Manoa.  It was my first time out speaking on behalf of Sun's efforts in the Free and Open Source arena and I was really pleased the way it turned out.  It was good crowd drawn from Hawaii's schools (students and teachers) as well as the professional community and I was impressed by the level of interest and the quality of questions I got. 

The big draw for the event was the prophet of the Free Software movement, Richard Stallman.  I had never met Stallman before and had heard all sorts of horrendous tales involving personal hygiene and a rabid set of beliefs.  Needless to say I was a bit daunted that my first time speaking at a conference on Free and Open Source Software would be in front of him.  The morning of the event, however, I felt much more at ease.  When Stallman walked in the room, instead of the Thor like figure I had imagined, he was on the short side, had a bit of a pot-belly and a slight New York accent. 


 The PFOSSCON audience at the UH Manoa  Richard Stallman letting freedom ring

Stallman's Talk

(To view recordings, via Free Software, of the any of the talks given at PFOSSCON including Richard Stallman's, click here.)

I was impressed with the talk he gave which was lucid, non-technical and sprinkled with humor and bad puns.  Although I had read some of his essays beforehand, the talk was a great introduction to the Free Software movement, its history, its ideals and why its important.  Here are some of the notes I took:

The 4 Freedoms

  • Proprietary software keeps users divided and helpless

  • Free Software (Free as in Freedom, not Free as in beer) respects the users freedoms

  • In order to be considered free software it must reflect the four freedoms

    • Freedom 0: The freedom to run the program, for any purpose 

    • Freedom 1: The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs. [Access to the source code is a precondition for this.]

    • Freedom 2: The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor.

    • Freedom 3: The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits. [Access to the source code is a precondition for this.]

GNU/Linux Operating System

  • Stallman began the GNU project in 1983 with the goal of developing a completely free operating system.  He based GNU on UNIX since it was a portable operating system and would allow upward compatibility as well provide familiarity.   He talked about the derivation of name GNU, which he considers one of the funniest words in the English language.

  • The GNU team had great success developing the userland but were having a tough time developing a kernel when low and behold a student in Finland came up with a kernel in 1991 called Linux.  In 1992 the Linux kernel was relicensed under a free license and it was then combined with the GNU userland to create the GNU/Linux operating system.

  • He is adamant that the resulting operating system always be referred to as GNU/Linux (GNU+Linux) rather than simply Linux.  Not only is "Linux" incorrect since it is only the kernel but, more importantly it leaves out the ideals of freedom which GNU is based on and which Linus Torvalds doesnt care about.

Open Source vs Free Software:  Along the same lines as "Linux," Stallman is staunchly against using the term "Open Source" since embodies only the practical concerns and not the ethical issues and ideals that "Free Software" espouses.   The concern here is that even if "Open Source"could get you to the goal of completely free software, "A fool and his freedom are soon parted."   Without the ideological insight and vigilance that Free Software provides,  it would be easy for proprietary software to find its way back in.

The Liberating of Java technology

  • For many years Java was a problem ("Free but Shackled") but the problem is now being solved since Sun is liberating the platform.  We must learn a lesson from the history of Java, so we can avoid other such traps in the future.

The Free Software Community now has enemies

  • Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) - Exporting censorship to other countries

  • Patent law - It makes software development a minefield.


"Secondary topics"

  • Why do people develop free software

    1. Political idealism

    2. Fun

    3. To be admired/appreciated

    4. To increase your professional reputation (work you do here can help you get a job)

    5. Gratitude (give back to the Free Software community)

    6. Hatred for Microsoft (this is foolish since you shouldnt focus your hatred so narrowly) - Shallow

    7. Money paid to develop Free Software by governments, universities, companies. - Shallow

  • Why Schools must use Free Software

    1. To save money.  This is superficial since proprietary vendors can donate software with the idea of, like a drug, students will get hooked on their software and then will be willing to pay for it after they graduate.

    2. To educate the best programmers.  If kids dont have access to the code they can only learn so much about how the program works and how to write good code.


Stallman then ended his presentation with the appearance of his alter-ego, St. Ignucius (ill do a short blog on that in a couple of days).

Be sure to tune in tomorrow when I will take you through a pictorial oddessey of our travels on the Big Island


Pau for now... 


Friday Jan 05, 2007

Bring on the Light

A couple weeks ago was one of my favorite days of the year up here in the northern hemisphere, December 21 aka the-shortest-day-of-the-year .  Its one my favorites because from here on out, at least until the other solstice, the days get longer and longer.  Im big into sunlight, not necessarily basking in it, although there are worse things you could do on a summer afternoon, but being able to look out my windows at home, work or in the car and see it.  Basically, I'll have to confess, like the late great John Denver once proclaimed, sunshine on my shoulder, makes me happy (even if it is coming through a window like it is now).

As a result, in past years at this time I have found myself obsessed with weather.com and regularly checking on the widening of the gap between sunrise and sunset.  This year Im a bit distracted, what with the new kids and the upcoming move, but I did manage to log in on the 22nd and check out the amount of daylight at few spots around the world.  I've even thrown in a token Southern Hemisphere locale for reference.   

Here is what I found the day after the solstice (from darkest to lightest). 

  Barrow Reykjavik Edinburgh San Jose
Tokyo Austin Honolulu Capetown
 04hrs   8min6hrs   58min9hrs       35 min
9hrs 45min
10hrs 11min
10hrs 51min
14hrs 25min
 Sunrise NA 11:22 am
8:43 am
7:19 am 6:47 am  7:24 am
 7:05 am
 5:32 am
 Sunset NA3:30 pm
 3:41 pm
 4:54 pm
 4:32 pm
 5:35 pm
 5:56 pm
 7:57 pm


Not sure if there is any big a-ha here other than, given the choice, right now I would prefer to be in Capetown rather than Barrow Alaska.  Taking a less dramatic comparison, it is interesting to see that when we move from San Jose to Austin we will be getting almost 45 more minutes of light. 

I hope check back in on these cities in a few months and see how things have changed.

Pau for now...



I look after Sun's relationships with the various GNU/Linux communities as well as our relationship with the FSF. Last year, my family and I emigrated from Silicon Valley to Austin, TX.


« February 2017