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Australian schoolkids could be getting Linux laptops for high school

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Australia’s prime minister Kevin Rudd has been pushing a “revolution in education” since before the election. Labour’s plan was to digitise the education sector and bring a laptop to every schoolchild. Well, now, those laptops might run Linux. Red Hat’s CEO is over here right now talking with federal officials.

It makes sense from a cost-cutting point of view, and also from a “not wanting the kids to play Counter-Strike during class” one, too. Instead they’ll be playing Tux Racer. The chances of this adoption happening (at least in New South Wales) aren’t all that low, either: just look at how Brazil, Germany, Italy and others have deployed Linux in their education sectors. The article also points out that Red Hat is already used widely in the NSW state government.

If this happens, it will bring about a huge increase in the awareness of Linux in Australia, as well as force more and more institutions to be standards compliant — all those schools are going to have to know what ODF is now. The best part is that these switches are just going to become more and more common as Linux makes advances and the world becomes more aware of its options when it comes to technology.

Written by atroche

October 15, 2008 at 8:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Ringo Starr finally stops signing autographs

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He’s going to throw away anything anyone sends for signing from the 20th of October onwards. Fair enough. It’s been almost four decades since the Beatles broke up! He can’t have that many fans from all his new stuff. It’d piss anyone off to have to spend hours every day signing your name over and over for people selling signed Beatles shit on eBay. It’s hard enough to move in new creative directions without having hundreds of people remind you of your past, daily.

When the Smashing Pumpkins came recently to Melbourne for the V Festival, Billy Corgan got angry at the crowd which consistently cheered when old classics came on and booed when he tried to play his new stuff. I understand how that could be frustrating, but, then, he really shouldn’t be playing under the name of the Smashing Pumpkins if it’s really going to be “The Billy Corgan Band” with a little help from the old drummer or something. It was his own (probably greed-inspired) decision.

Anyway, this is what I pictured as soon as I heard it:

Ringo Starr in Brush with Greatness

Ringo Starr in "Brush with Greatness"

Dear Marge.  Thanks for the fab painting of Yours Truly.  I hung
it on me wall.  You're quite an artist.  In answer to your question,
yes, we do have hamburgers and fries in England.  But we call French
fries `chips'.  Love, Ringo.  PS: Forgive the lateness of my reply.

and:

Dear Sally.  In response to you letter of December the 12th 1966,
me favourite colour is blue, and me real first name is Richard.
Thanks for the snapshot.  You're a real cute bird.  Love, Ringo.
PS: Forgive the lateness of my reply.

I guess those days of Ringo tirelessly going through every last letter are over. If he hadn’t told everyone and just stopped sending things back maybe he would’ve been accused of theft.

Written by atroche

October 14, 2008 at 11:25 am

Posted in music, news

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PartedMagic: a free Linux-based bootable partition manager

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When you want to resize, convert, move or do anything to the partitions on your hard drive, you need a partition manager. In days gone by, the best solutions for this were commercial. I used Partition Magic for a long time, when FreeBSD and Linux had trouble working with NTFS drives. Thankfully, there’s now a totally viable and blissfully FOSS alternative: PartedMagic.

PartedMagic blank desktop

PartedMagic blank desktop

PartedMagic is only 45MiB, and can boot from CD or USB. It supports all of the major filesystems, has a nice GUI (with Firefox installed!) and includes TestDisk — a piece of data recovery software that has saved my digital life a couple of times now. There’s enough software on there for you to perform most rescue operations.

Doing what it was made to do.

Doing what it was made to do.

While PartedMagic has just about as many features as you could want it to, it’s still being actively developed. In fact, they just released 3.1 RC1, which updates the kernel and base software as well as giving it a nice graphical overhaul. It now uses LXDE instead of XFCE, and all the artwork has been redone — it looks extremely polished now.

Some of the software included

Some of the software included

PartedMagic is something that you should always have a copy of lying around, just incase. It’s a very handy rescue CD. While it doesn’t do everything that it’s bigger sibling System Rescue CD does, it does enough and it does it reliably and well.

Written by atroche

October 13, 2008 at 10:03 pm

Music Monday: Medeski, Martin & Wood – “Just Like I Pictured It”

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This instrumental piece is short, smooth and polished. It’ll make you want to get up and dance slowly on the spot with your eyes closed.

Via tuneage, my favourite music blog.

Written by atroche

October 13, 2008 at 8:07 pm

Posted in music

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Chaser’s writer slams VSU

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Dom Knight (a former writer on the Aussie show The Chaser’s War On Everything) has posted a long, scathing attack on Voluntary Student Unionism, and on the Rudd government for not getting rid of it more immediately. They’re reversing some of the damage that Howard did, but are still fucking around.

Dom sums the whole situation up well:

No-one seriously objects to the government funding Olympic athletes, or running an art gallery, or paying for community centres, so why is it any worse when a university or a student union does it?

and:

John Howard destroyed our valuable campus culture to make an unimportant ideological point, and the sooner his work is undone, the better.

Worth the read.

Written by atroche

October 13, 2008 at 9:12 am

Posted in Uncategorized

PMSBuddy.com

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I really wish there were some females home at the moment so I could work out whether PMSBuddy is mildly funny or wildly offensive. It makes me laugh — mainly because all of the ads are for flower delivery services, lingerie shops or dating websites. Finally the web is being put to good use.

There are tips, such as “First and foremost, don’t ask ‘Do you have PMS? It sure seems like it’”. It also has stories. I particularly like this one:

I’ve been married for 29 years.Never cheated or anything .Once a month the bus to crazy town show’s up and guess who’s on it . You got it ! She started it yesterday morning got my coffee newspaper and just did my morning routine.Crazy showed up and decide that I did not do enough to help out And I was a lier screaming, hollering just nut’s.Finally after 20 min.of this I just said you are an F-ing Idiot.

Men holding firm together, I love it.

Written by atroche

October 11, 2008 at 4:20 pm

Posted in website

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FiveThirtyEight.com or "how I keep up to date with the US election"

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Polls are inaccurate. There are several reputable companies that try hard to gauge the opinions of voters, but there are just fundamental restrictions that stop any one poll from being trusted. This is a shame, because it’s nice to know how the world’s most important election is going. Luckily, Nate Silver has built FiveThirtyEight.com. From their FAQ:

What is the mission of this website? Most broadly, to accumulate and analyse polling and political data in way that is informed, accurate and attractive. Most narrowly, to give you the best possible objective assessment of the likely outcome of upcoming elections.

It aggregates all of the polling data as it is released, and adjusts it according to how well those polling companies have predicted previous elections. It does all kinds of fancy statistical tricks, and then runs ten thousand simulations of the election. Based on how many of these, for example, McCain won, it will work out the probability of him winning when the election comes around. There’s an element of chance in there as well, to better reflect real life. I’m no statistician, so it’s much better explained in the FAQ.

Anyway, I’ve enjoyed checking in on the site every day or so to see how Obama is doing. When I first started going to the website, he was slightly behind McCain in the probability of winning. As of today, he’s got a 90.9% probability of winning. Even more fun to watch is the map of the US with each of the states coloured according to how much they’re in favour of the democrats of republicans. I like seeing the blue slowly spreading into traditional red territory.

Part of the reason I find the US election so much more interesting to watch than the Australian one is that there’s so much variety in America from state to state. Nate updates the site very frequently with commentary on how different factors are affecting the standing of either candidate, and what matters to Americans in different parts of the nation. Nate’s travelling around following the campaigns and comparing what he’s seeing to the changes in opinion polling. He’s in the process of doing a big entry for every state in which he details major demographic factors such as race, religion, education and economic status of the voters in that state and whether that factor works to McCain’s or Obama’s advantage. Here’s one for California. Check out the Starbucks:Walmart ratio.

There’s so much bullshit about the elections in the news, it’s nice to see a really scientific way of sorting out what really matters when it comes down to voting. It’s not just numbers, though: I really enjoy (and learn from) reading Nate’s analyses.

Written by atroche

October 11, 2008 at 2:44 pm

Posted in politics

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