Saturday, April 28, 2007

The State of Open Source

It is no secret to anyone that knows me that I am a supporter of Open Source initiatives. I believe in the concept of sharing our knowledge and efforts so that others can benefit. It is not just the fact that open source products are usually free. It is the fact that anyone is free to examine the working parts, make changes to them, improve them, and then share such enhancements with others so that everyone can benefit. That is the way it is supposed to work. As it often happens, greed is threatening this ideal model. Companies, large and small, and individuals have used open source property, modified it to suit their purposes, and then failed to share their contributions. In other words, they stole the community's property and broke the law by violating the licensing they agreed to. Open source as a concept and a reality is in trouble according to many experts. William Hurley explained it well in his "Welcome to Opensville, Population Zero" blog entry. The Jem Report also has an excellent article ("The Sorry State of Open Source Today") which gives more details about Open Source challenges. We have all benefited, directly or indirectly, by the mere existence of Open Source projects. It is our responsibility as part of the computer-user community to make sure the concept of Open Source is not corrupted by a few greedy parties.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Tragedy at Virginia Tech

The tragic events at Virginia Tech's campus reminds us of life fragility. Nobody's life seems to be safe, even in a place we once considered such. Schools at all levels have been the target of violence. Columbine High School was one example. Virginia Tech was the latest. An arrest was made at my Alma Mater (the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY) last week -- a student was found at a nearby hotel room with illegal weapons. What were his intentions? Would RIT had become the next tragedy? There are so many questions and so few answers. Why are students turning against their own? What is our society doing about it? One thing is certain: we should realize how fortunate we are to be alive and safe. I am thankful for all the good things in my life and, more importantly, for all the people that enrich my every day.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The State of Cyberland

Things are getting bad in cyberland -- really bad. Maybe they have been really bad for sometime and I just have not experienced it personally. This week I received an email from what appeared to be trusted source. The content of the email looked legitimate and even mentioned a trusted person as a point of contact. It asked to go to a web site and gave a URL. I looked a the email several times and wondered if it was safe. Then I clicked on the link. You can probably guess by now what happened. Yes, I received a warning that the link was trying to lunch an EXE. Fortunately my system is setup such that little damage will occur automatically. For example, all my email is converted to Plain Text automatically. I have hardware and software firewalls. Scripts are not allowed to run automatically. I use Firefox instead of IE. I manually patch my system every month. I update my virus scanner everyday. I run anti-spyware weekly. And now I have added a keylooger shield. But what about the millions of Windows users that are not as experienced and careful? No wonder we have so much Malware hitting the streets of cyberland and damaging so many lives. Please be extra careful folks!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Tracey's Update: Living everyday to the fullest

On Sunday, a dear friend of ours (Tracy) came to spend the day with Tracey. As one can imagine, Tracey is having cabin fever -- so she decided to go out to Lowe's and get some plants for the garden. Tracy, Tracey and Noah ventured out in the early afternoon. They returned home two hours later with soil and plants for the kids and I to plant ASAP. Then Tracey spent most of the remainder of the day recovering from the outing. It was obvious that Tracey enjoyed being out and feeling productive. Noah was great help to both ladies.

Despite Tracey's obvious limitations, she is not giving up on life. Last Friday she began painting several picture frames for some projects she has in mind. It is slow going but she is getting lots of joy out of it.

"Portrait of a Friend"

The following was sent to us by one of our best friends:

"Portrait of a Friend"

I can't give solutions to all of life's problems, doubts, or fears.
But I can listen to you, and together we will search for answers.

I can't change your past with all it's heartache and pain, nor the future with its untold stories.
But I can be there now when you need me to care.

I can't keep your feet from stumbling.
I can only offer my hand that you may grasp it and not fall.

Your joys, triumphs, successes, and happiness are not mine;
Yet I can share in your laughter.

Your decisions in life are not mine to make, nor to judge;
I can only support you, encourage you, and help you when you ask.

I can't prevent you from falling away from friendship, from your values, from me.
I can only pray for you, talk to you and wait for you.

I can't give you boundaries which I have determined for you,
But I can give you the room to change, room to grow, room to be yourself.

I can't keep your heart from breaking and hurting,
But I can cry with you and help you pick up the pieces and put them back in place.

I can't tell you who you are.
I can only love you and be your friend.