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Sun 23rd Jan 2011 @ 23:13 2011: Lazy Teenage Superheroes

Lazy Teenage Superheroes - apparently made with a $300 budget.

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Sat 15th Jan 2011 @ 23:52 2011: Microsoft Word 2007 License

I admit to being a newcomer to this game; I generally work with totally Free and Open Source Software, and software such as Solaris which used to be licensed with the hardware, became Free-of-Charge, then later became OpenSolaris (fairly open, though never entirely freed of restrictions). At the other extreme, customers of mine can be quite happy to pay tens and even hundreds of thousands of pounds for software licenses.

I want to pay for the right to use Microsoft Word 2007.

Yes, I have (and now, LibreOffice too). I have run trials, and for this particular project that I am working on, I need Microsoft Word 2007. It is not that it is in any way better than the alternatives, it is just that it is the only software for which my publisher (more news coming soon...) has a decent set of templates and macros.

I have spent hours looking for a cost-effective way to buy this piece of software, and have failed. I could say that my kids will use the software for school (and I'm sure that they will), but then how could I justify the company paying for it?.

I simply want to purchase the right to use MS Word 2007; I have trialled it and the trial worked. I now want to pay for it. Why is this so very hard?


Mon 10th Jan 2011 @ 21:18 2011: OSHUG

I am looking forward to attending OSHUG, the Open Source Hardware User Group, at BBC White City Media Centre on 10th Feb. The agenda looks fascinating (well, to a thirtysomething geek who grew up pulling BBC Micros to pieces!)

The BBC Computer Literacy Project

Why did the BBC embark on one of its most ambitious projects - the Computer Literacy Project - in 1982? What was the scene like then and how successful was the enterprise. What technical issues were involved? 85% of schools used BBC Micros and millions were sold, along with best selling books and software, including 'telesoftware'. What is the legacy - if at all? How did the work then benefit BBC technology now?

After being Head of Science at Beaumont and Stonyhurst Colleges, David Allen joined the BBC in 1969 as an Assistant producer/director. He became producer and then executive producer of a range of programmes. As a programme maker, he was series editor of the BBC Computer Literacy Project 1982-1986 and intimately connected with the creation of the BBC Microcomputer. He received seven awards (including the New York Film Festival, Sony Innovation awards, RTS Judges Award and Times Technology Programme of the Year two years running. With BBC R&D helped evolve radio cameras and virtual studio production. When David retired he was executive producer in Production Modernisation. He is currently making documentaries for BBC R&D and for Historic Royal Palaces.

The BBC Domesday Project - If I could Do it All Over Again

The BBC Domesday Project was an interactive media production made as part of celebrations of the 900th anniversary of William the Conqueror's Domesday Book of 1086. It was a technical triumph, combining digital data with analogue pictures, video and sound with an innovative user interface running on an 8-bit BBC Microcomputer controlling a state-of-the-art laser videodisc. 25 years later it has still not been possible to republish something that over a million people helped to make, and despite sometime heroic reclamation and preservation, it is still virtually impossible to access the original software. Andy Finney was one of the project founders and he produced some of the material in the project. He will explain the origins and technical background to the Domesday discs in the context of both it 1980s origins and how much of what it pioneered has since become commonplace.

Andy Finney started in radio and moved into television, video and interactive video within the BBC over a 21 year career. Since leaving he has concentrated on web-based technologies including databases, these days with a lean towards digital television reception. He worked with the then Public Record Office and the BBC to help preserve the audio-visual content of the Domesday discs and still keeps a fatherly eye out for re-publication.

Standing on the Shoulders of Hackers

Learning is an intrinsic aspect of open source projects. Practices such as documenting and sharing work, following one’s own interests, and ad hoc organizing open up - and complicate - opportunities for learning and teaching, especially in informal and semi-formal contexts. Drawing on his experiences teaching Arduino workshops, Daniel will talk about how both the hardware and open-source aspects of OSH affect processes and tools for learning and teaching.

Daniel Soltis is an interaction designer specializing in physical interfaces, play and games, and the rough edges where engineering, design, art, and learning meet. He has been working with Tinker London since 2008, studied physical computing and game design at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, and in prior life had various adventures in math and physics, teaching, editing, and medical writing. He has taught Arduino, Processing, and rapid prototyping for events and institutions including Thinking Digital, CIID, the V&A, and dConstruct, and has spoken about games and hardware at events including SXSW, the SIGGRAPH Video Game Symposium, Playful, and Open Hardware Camp.

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Mon 3rd Jan 2011 @ 01:36 2011: Reddit feedback on the Shell Scripting Tutorial

I have just come across this short Reddit conversation about my shell scripting tutorial which is quite reassuring..

More news will be coming soon on this subject...

Update 11/1/11*: lists the tutorial in 2nd place. It also has lots of links to many many useful resources.

*Yes, I really just wanted to note that today is 11/1/11 - 11th January 2011.

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Sun 2nd Jan 2011 @ 00:26 2011: Happy New Year

May I start by wishing everybody a happy 2011.

In December 1999, everybody got excited about the turn of a new millennium. Some of us pointed out that the turn of the decade/century/millennium was actually going to be when 2000 became 2001, but that was ignored by the vast majority as pedantry.

As 2009 became 2010, some, but only a few people seemed to call it the start of a new decade; as 2010 became 2011, people noticed that it was the start of a new decade.

Why is this obvious to everybody on a 10 year basis, but not on a 100 year or 1000 year basis?

Answers on a postcard...

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