Archives for category: Open Source

 There is a full write up on my website

The Plans:

Google Drawing Google SketchUp
Kegerator Plans sketchup

Today i came across a sweet little tool that gives you information about disk size and usage.  Discus is easily installed and is really handy for figuring out how much space is left on a server. Here’s a screenshot of the install (sudo apt-get intall discus) and it’s output.


After doing a little more looking, and RTFMing i realized that it was just a “prettier” version of df.  Here are the two outputs.


To me they seem pretty much the same.  Discus’ bar graph is nice, but both give you a percent, although by default Discus’ is a little more precise.   df gives the ability to display file system type (-T) which i like, i also used the human readable (-h) tag which cleans up the output and makes it easier to read. One thing i couldn’t find is a way to get either to display information on multiple hard drives.  The server in the second screenshot has a second 100Gb hard drive but neither show it. i’m sure there is a way though…

The long and the short of it.  you don’t have to install anything for df, and the output is practically the same. so unless you really dig the graph and the blue headers don’t bother with discus.

So when Microsoft starting coming out with their new skin for everything, you know the one that doesn’t have the File…Edit…View menu. I said it was irritating and I didn’t like it. Somehow I felt like I had lost the things I needed to get around and actually Use the applications. When ever I am in Windows I use Chrome as my default browser and am still really impressed with it. My only complaint is that I can’t have it in Linux. Last night and this morning I was tinkering with Firefox trying to get closer to the huge viewable space that Chrome gives you. Only see status bar info when there is something to see, remove the title bar, because it’s a waste of space and make things as clean as possible. These are great things. I couldn’t make Firefox do what I wanted, but I did find a chrome theme that cleans up the UI a little bit. So I hated it when Microsoft did it and loved it when Google did it. Why?

  • Could it be because Microsoft removed it from their apps, where chrome was something completely new?
  • Was it the way in which the UI was constructed to make the tools of old easier to access though I have heard complaints about chromes lack of options….
  • Is the/my stigma towards Microsoft really that bad?
  • Do Google’s UI team get paid an unfathomable amount of money to make things so intuitive?

At work right now we are working on the UI for our map. It’s been really interesting getting peoples reactions to something that really requires interaction. It seems a lot of folks, technical and non-technical alike, are hesitant to just start clicking and tinkering. Are there good ways, and helper text is not one of them, to encourage users to really Use something. I think visual cues are extremely important and if it’s designed right people will notice and understand the functionality with out being told via text or prompts. Those visual cues are where it’s at, but being subtle enough as to not distract them and blunt enough not to confuse them is a tricky balance. The map lives at Give it a look, and give us your feedback.

slashdot has an article about the most annoying softwares. now i use linux so for the most part i just get to point an laugh at all these worthless software packages. But flash, ooohh flash i can’t get away from you. here is what the article says about flash.

so true…

food for thought.

Daisy was invented by George Kerscher, a Graduate of UM in Missoula, Developed an OPEN standard for creating and publishing documents that were accessible and Usable by those with vision disabilities or those with dyslexia.

The UM Campus is poised in taking a leadership roll in implementing the Daisy standard and it would be a good step in the right direction.

A blurb from about us on follows..
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This one is really a dusey. it’s a letter from bill gates to hobbyists in 1976.


  • Who can afford to do professional work for nothing? What hobbyist can put 3-man years into programming, finding all bugs, documenting his product and distribute for free? //Who can’t?
  • The royalty paid to us, the manual, the tape and the overhead make it a break-even operation. One thing you do do is prevent good software from being written. // was anything microsoft ever produced with the intent of breaking even? I applaud the ‘Hobbyists’ who made it that way.
  • I would appreciate letters from any one who wants to pay up, or has a suggestion or comment. //Ha!

Perusing the internet i found an Excellent site, Jamendo is a music site that hosts primarily music licensed under one of the creative commons licenses. The music is free, and legal to download and they have some good stuff too. There is also a plugin for Rhythmbox which is pretty cool. Give it a look.

So i really don’t care what is happening with WordPress development. At least not on an every day (usually multiple times) when i log into my WordPress install. WordPress tells me if there is an update, so the goings on at the WordPress development site have become invisible to me. i completely disregard that part of my dashboard (and its a pretty large part). So i thought to myself why can’t i put what I want to see there, and really why not? it is just an xml feed pulling from wp dev. It would seem logical to put some thing in the interface, to change that xml URL to something a little more personalized. like my own version of Google reader. I want new posts to greet me when i login. so i set out to find a way. And i have. but not without some digging.

There are blog posts about this already. But they seem to be for a previous version of WordPress. The truth lies here (well until they change it again). The secret lies in: /wp-admin/index-extra.php. now thats a good naming scheme, really clued me in as to what this file did. It is really pretty self explanatory, simply change these four lines

$rss = @fetch_rss(apply_filters( 'dashboard_primary_feed', '' ));
<h3><?php echo apply_filters( 'dashboard_primary_title', __('WordPress Development Blog') ); ?></h3>


$rss = @fetch_rss(apply_filters( 'dashboard_secondary_feed', '' ));
<h3><?php echo apply_filters( 'dashboard_secondary_title', __('Other WordPress News') ); ?></h3>

The primary blog is what is currently the development blog, and the secondary is the planet wordpress blog, but you can probably deduce that from the URL’s.

My hope is to now find or write a really simple RSS aggregator in which you can load up all your fav xml and rss feeds into one place. But Wait! hasn’t Google already done that, and i can’t actually think i can so anything better than Google. caveat: you have to be logged into google to get your Google reader xml feeds to work, and because you would have to have the server log you in and thats a pain. Google does allow you to share which is really exactly the functionality i’m after, but you can only share specific posts not specific feeds.

**update** Dan mentioned that yahoo pipes would do this feed aggregation for me, so i took a look and wow. Its big and will do a lot of things but seems like a little too much. it does the job for this type of situation though.

one interesting thing about the way wp displays these xml feeds: it is all done using js.

As of late I’ve been getting more and more interested in some of the open source licenses, specifically the Creative Commons, and the GPL I have been working on an open source project for openmissoula who works for economic fairness by promoting and demonstrating the used of Free and Open Source Software. So I’ve been learning about Stallman (gpl founder) and Lessig (cc founder). and i stopped by Hastings tonight to see if there were any books by Lessig, and they had none. At home, and slightly annoyed, it occurred to me that purchasing a book about the freedom of information, and the general idea of open source was not only an absurd idea but a little ironic.
GNUCCSo I pulled out a site from the memory bank, a good one, Free Tech Books and i did some looking and found just what i was looking for. A book by Laurence Lessig, and a book by Richard Stallman. I have used this site for other books, how to, code help and the like. Really a helpful site. There is a third entry entitled “Understanding Open Source and Free Software Licensing” it is licensed with the “Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs License 2.0” and published by O’Reilly. O’Reilly will certainly allow you to read the book for free, but in order to download the book in pdf format you have to do it by chapter, and you must purchase ‘tokens.’ Irony.