Monday, October 31, 2005

Enough of these expensive formats! 

It is quite annoying that PDF is so popular as a government format, given that most people will need to purchase expensive software to fill it out electronically. The free readers allow you to print them after filling them out, but the free readers lack the ability to save and modify the forms. We really do need something better. I hope more forms are distributed in the Open Document format.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

DRM Music Woes 

I feel sorry for people who have bought into media that is locked up in Digital Rights Management. A perfect example of the problems associated with that technology: Yahoo Music is changing prices and capabilities. "Monthly fees will jump from $6.99 to $11.99 USD...Current monthly subscribers can opt to keep their $6.99 pricing, which is still advertised by Yahoo, but will lose the ability to transfer downloaded songs to a portable device."

It is important to note the change not only in price, but also what you can do with the music. This is real control of your behavior.

Monday, October 24, 2005

It only works if you help 

Computer programs crash. It doesn't matter if it is commercial or open source. I do feel that people have an obligation to report bugs with open source software. Too many people give up the second a piece of open source software crashes. What they don't realize is that it is a community effort, and that the developers really do want to fix the bugs and improve the software. Without feedback, nothing changes. Bug reports are better than silence because they let the developers know that people are at least trying the software.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Cleaning up the mess

I spent six hours last night restoring a friend's Microsoft Windows computer to a usable state. It had been eaten alive by spyware and strange software conflicts. I've traded those types of problems for a different set by going with non-Microsoft at home. I've been using Linux at home for a few years, and so far I like the deal. Even though some tasks might be a little more complicated, open source tools have always been good enough for me, and my needs are fairly modest. Most of my life is web-enabled anyway, so as long as I have a good web browser, I'm good to go.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Playing with Mythtv

Mythtv is a nifty open source Personal Video Recorder (PVR) project. With a bittorrent plugin and an easy way to browse available online content, it could almost replace my Tivo. Too bad that all the available content is really just illegal copies.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Asterisk Between Friends

I've been playing with the Asterisk "PBX and Voice over Internet Protocol Server" for a little while, but mostly as a plain PBX system thanks to a Digium Wildcard FXO. Today was interesting because I showed a friend how easy it is to setup with Asterisk@Home, and we created an IAX trunk between our systems. We also linked our systems to an outbound service that lets us dial real phones for free.

What does this mean? I can pick up my extension and dial his extension directly, even though he is on a different PBX. Call gets sent over the internet. Also, I can call out to anyone in the 48 US states for free. Phone companies watch out! Regular dudes are playing with complex phone stuff.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

miniVox MV100 USB Speakerphone

Picked one of these up today. Worked as advertised on commercial operating systems. Now I'm having fun getting it to work on the "other" operating systems. OpenBSD gives some nice details: uaudio0 at uhub1 port 1 configuration 1 interface 0: FORTEMEDIA FM1083, rev 1.10/0.01, addr 2

I will also try it on a recent version of Linux.

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