A true war hero, and how wrong Americans are

Politics, Project Mayhem 2 Comments »


His name is Eleon Israel, also known as “Eli”. Earlier this week, he decided to disobey direct orders and refused to participate further in the war in Iraq (Full story from ivaw.org):

“Yesterday, June 19, 26 year old SPC Eli Israel put himself at great personal risk by making the courageous decision to refuse further participation in the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Eli told his commanding officer and sergeants that he will no longer be a combatant in this illegal, unjustified war.”

Now that’s what I call a true hero. We need more people in the world that talk and act against that which is wrong. I have some American friends, and whenever I make a hint about how treacherous or tyrannous their leader is, they are usually quick to tell me that the U.S. is a very divided country, and that it’s only half the country that supports him, and that they don’t necessarily agree with everything that Bush does or says.

Well, tough shit. If half the country is content with letting George Bush get away with whatever he’s doing, even if they didn’t vote for him, then I classify them in the same league as those who allowed Apartheid to happen and did nothing about it. Once Apartheid was over, many blissfully claimed that they weren’t involved with it and never supported it. I say that they are lying. There was probably quite a lot they could do. If they were white and over 18, they could’ve voted for a party that was more liberal. They could’ve spoken out against Apartheid, and spread awareness about the terrible things our government was doing at the time. I say that those who stood by and allowed crimes against humanity too take place were also guilty.

The same goes for the Americans who let Bush get away with so much. If you’re one of those who think that it’s OK to do nothing, then you’re wrong. Bad things happen when good people do nothing, Eli is one of the good Americans, and I salute him. I hope that more Americans will follow his example.

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Patricia De Lille wants to restrict your freedom

Free Software, Politics, Project Mayhem 2 Comments »


Patricia De Lille wants to limit your freedom of speech, read this link for the full story. What it comes down to, is that she is calling on government to somehow regulate blogs and electronic communication to prevent anonymous defamatory comments. I’m quite disappointed, I honestly thought that De Lille was a bit more intelligent than that. I would’ve even voted for her before.

In this country, countless people have fought a long and hard struggle for the freedom of our people. Many have even died for the cause. And now, De Lille, who really should know better, wants to take some of our freedoms away from us again. Government regulating on-line communication will only result in bad things. No matter what they implement, there will still be ways to anonymously post content, while the legislation will just hurt the people who want to be heard. We already have a situation in the country where rape victims hardly report the incidents, since they are afraid of how their family/police/etc would respond. South Africans need to learn to speak up more, and fight more for their rights, NOT the other way around.

Patricia, you’re a big public figure, and lots of people have huge amounts of respect for you. Please, stop trying to take people’s rights away from them. It’s not the right thing to do.

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Shutdown Day – Can you?

Project Mayhem 2 Comments »

Tomorrow is “Shut down day”, a day where you are encouraged to shut down your computer for one day.

When I initially heard about Shutdown day, I said I could do it, but I can’t. I just have too much stuff that I’d like like to do this weekend, and besides, the weather isn’t looking to good either:

Cape Town weather

Will you be able to shut down tomorrow? I think I’ll make up for it the next weekend by switching off the entire weekend. I’ll even switch off the TV and cellphone to make up for missing it tomorrow :)

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Digital Freedom Expo – Hackers unite!

Free Software 5 Comments »

On April the 19th, just over a month from now, the Digital Freedom Expo will take place at the University of the Western Cape and will run for two days. It will host high-profile speakers including:

One of the keynote speakers include smooth talkin’ Stafford Masie. Initially I thought, “hopefully seeing him talk Novell out of the latest Novell scandals will be at least mildly entertaining”, but then I decided no, I’m not going to sit back en let him smooth talk himself out of this one! I’ll also ask him some questions that other people might be afraid to ask. Impilinux is attempting to get a slot as well, and we’ll be representing the local Ubuntu community.

I urge all Cluggers (and clug-park readers specifically (also JOCUAMAOE)) and the Ubuntu Loco team to attend and give Masie a run for his money. The last event I attended where he spoke, he just did his usual smooth-talking and people just stared at him, everyone thought he was talking nonsense, but didn’t think it was worth while even talking to him about it. I heard one media person say that his talk was well-received, afterwards. We shouldn’t give him a chance to get away with it again! What might also add some fuel to the fire, is that this is taking place at the University who vowed to phase out Novell completely shortly after the Microsoft/Novell agreement.

Impilinux is considering organising anti-patent t-shirts for the event, if you have any t-shirt ideas, or if you’d like to have one of those t-shirts (you’ll have to attend), then please leave a comment on this blog entry. We’d like to make sure there’s sufficient demand for the t-shirts before printing them :)

I hope to see you there, it’s going to be a blast!

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New company & new blog

Free Software 6 Comments »

New Job

What an interesting month this has been! A few weeks ago, I got leads for some very good commercial opportunities, but the other decision makers at my company decided that we should not pursue it, and stick to the educational and development sectors instead. I really wanted to chase those deals, so I sent in a proposal where I start a new company, where I’ll be doing my current job as a service to the company, and I’ll be able to take on the new, lucrative commercial work. I was real excited about starting the new company, I planned to do some groundbreaking Linux work here in South Africa…

But all of that changed just 6 days before I planned to get the new company off the ground. Word got out that I’m leaving, I even got job offers from Google and IBM, which quite surprised me, I declined and decided to go ahead with the company. I also felt that I wasn’t quite the right person for the positions they offered. I then got a real interesting offer from a local Linux company. They will allow me to bring in my customers to their company, and I will give technical guidance to their development team, and gain access to their resources for the projects I’ve planned to work on. It also means I have short-term security in terms of a steady job, and I can continue working on the tuXlab distro and some other interesting things. I’ll only be able to give more information next week, so sorry for being a little secretive here! One of the coolest things about the new job is, that we’ll play a big part in the government’s conversion to ‘FLOSS’. Exciting times!

New Blog

I also started an Afrikaans blog. I decided to make it a separate blog to avoid confusion for people who are subscribed to by blog, but who does not understand Afrikaans :)

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Buh-bye 2006!

Education, Free Software, Jonathan 3 Comments »

Tomorrow is the last day of 2006. Wow, it’s been a wild ride, and the beginning of the year feels like a lifetime ago. It started out well, the project that I’m most involved with, tuXlab, reached a big milestone with the installation of the 200th lab. Since then, many replications has happened in South Africa. I don’t have an exact number, but I estimate there’s close to 300 schools in the country that currently follow the tuXlab model. The first 200 was set up with funding from the Shuttleworth Foundation, while the rest has been set up by other funders and projects, such as the Gift of the Givers Foundation, Netday.org.za, Ubuntu Education Fund, Engen, Ikamva Youth, and others. The first 200 labs was also set up by volunteers, and support and maintenance have been funded by the Shuttleworth Foundation.

Another exciting turn for tuXlabs, is that it was installed into two prisons (blog entry) as well. The prison tuXlabs have been used for adult education, and providing OpenICDL courses. Lab administrators in the prisons also wrote and passed LPI exams. The prisons project has been an amazing success, we have proved to the Department of Correctional Services that GNU/Linux works, and that it’s maintainable and affordable. Don’t be surprised to see a large number of lab roll-outs in our prisons next year :-)

In March, I also went to the most amazing concert I’ve ever been to, and saw Metallica, Collective Soul, the Rasmus, Simple Plan and a whole bunch of other bands we never see here in South Africa live. The great local guys were also there, such as Fokofpolisiekar and Seether (even though they’re not quite local anymore these days). I hope we have something like that here soon again.

Within the Foundation, our team was reaching all the targets set out two years before that, and with some of the changes in focus within the Foundation, some of us felt that the new projects wouldn’t specifically interest us. Not because they’re not good projects, but because we specifically wanted to continue working with the projects that we have put so much energy into already. We put together a proposal and business plan, and presented it to the Shuttleworth Foundation Trustees. They were happy with our ideas, and were happy to fund us to start a new organisation. This happened in June, and our first month was chaotic. Previously, we lived in the comfort of the Foundation and all the internal services that was running there. Outside, a lot of our old processes didn’t work, and we had to quickly re-work them. We also had to find new systems for our financial stuff, and quickly slam together a management system that worked. By August, things were already coming together nicely, and I’ll go as far to say that the last month or so, we’ve become a well oiled machine. Besides the prisons project, we’ve got a good amount of government work as well. What stands out most is the Digital Doorway project, for which we implemented the software solution (custom tuXlab system) and we’ll also be implementing the next 50 stations and upgrading the existing 25 from HP441 based Mandrake 9.2 systems to Ubuntu multiseat tuXlab machines.

This year, I also had the privilege to get to know a very large part of the Ubuntu community, which include many amazing (I’m so overusing that word, but it can’t be helped) individuals and have learned a lot from them. I also became a member of the Edubuntu Council, where we vote in new Ubuntu members that have made significant contributions toward Ubuntu. I also attended the Ubuntu Developers Summit in Paris, it was at a complicated time that I left for Paris, but it was also uplifting to see how such a large amount of people could work together so incredibly well. I took a lot with me from that summit, and applied much of it to the tuXlab Ubuntu derivative, which we’ve released to tuXlab schools earlier this month. A public version will also be available next month, also in various flavors. That has also been a huge milestone for me, and our new company. We’ve attracted some attention from huge multinational companies. Oh, and you can also expect to see local laptops (very popular brand) soon that will be available with Ubuntu (and no Windows)- I am also very excited about that… although I should really keep new news for my hello 2007 post ;)
We also did Software Freedom Day again this year. We did it in one of the most poorest areas of Cape Town, where I also learned a lot from. Locally free software has had quite a good year besides that too. Our local LUG, CLUG, had a fundraiser to raise money for our LUG to attend one of the big, very commercialised computer fairs (Futurex). It was one of the two Linux/Free Software stands there, and the stand generated huge interest from many people, although many people just couldn’t understand how software can be ‘free’. A local Python users group has also been founded, and the first meeting was very well attended. I hope that the group continues to do more fun stuff into 2007.

The biggest free software news in 2006 was of course that Sun GPL is being released under a GNU GPL license, which is definitely good news for many users and vendors of free software. The other big news is the Novell/Microsoft deal. Some view it as the best thing that has every happened, while some view it with lots of sceptacism. I have a theory that, no matter what happens in the free software world, that it will ultimately benefit free software. So far I haven’t seen proof to the contrary of that. The Free Software Foundation has also been busy, releasing Gnewsense, an Ubuntu derivative free of proprietary code, and also running an end of year fundraiser, that has already passed its half-way mark. The GNU GPL version 3 is also being reworked, and it’s been a big source of controversy in 2006. FSF has also launched a campaign against Windows Vista, and bought a game and released it under a free license (see comments).

Coming back to my personal life, I’ve made some tough decisions the last month. Two years ago my father and I moved into the same house, and we decided to go everything 50/50. I had some strong moral objections to some of the things he’s been doing lately, and decided to move out. It’s had some strange effects on me. Since moving out, and adding some more space between myself and both my parents, my anger levels have come down drastically. I also discovered that anger has been a big part of what drives me, and when my anger went away, it’s like I didn’t have any energy anymore. I think Yoda is so right about anger in so many ways. In only the last few days, I’ve found new, positive energies that gives me just as much energy. Just in time for 2007 :)

I’m quite excited for 2007, I have so much ideas and plans for it, and the future. I’ll blog about those just after the new year. In the meantime, I wish everyone who manages to read this far a happy new year, may 2007 treat you well and wishing you good health and happiness. Buh-bye, 2006!

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Package Poetry

Free Software 2 Comments »

This morning I came across Mako’s Debian Package Name Poetry page. So I thought I’d try it out too. This is my first attempt, it’s about happy Ubuntu users that are having a release party. I dedicate it to the next Ubuntu release (6.10 – the edgy eft), that is due late next week.

alien enlightenment:
partimage, partlibrary.

whois sane?
hello linda.

members make festival…
make wine…
make fortune…

gentoo bum nowhere.
bug-buddy onboard.

genders happy.
bake… yum.


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