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Wikimania 2006

April 28th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

We are planning to attend Wikimania 2006!

“As well as being a forum for research and ideas about the Wikimedia Foundation projects, Wikimania will bring together those interested in free and open source software, free knowledge initiatives, and other wiki projects worldwide. Wikimania will serve as a venue for people across fields, including software and hardware development, library and information science, knowledge management, journalism, law, policy, and education to share ideas about the future of free knowledge and open-source content projects.”

It would be great to find people interested in while we’re out there, and I always like traveling to Boston.

There is also a Call for Participation soliciting ideas for workshops, tutorials, panels, papers, posters and presentations.

Beta Linux Version of Democracy Player Available

April 28th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

The Participatory Culture Foundation announces the beta release of Democracy Player for Linux. Packages are available for Debian, Ubuntu, and Fedora.

It’s also mentioned on Slashdot, but the discussion seems to have gotten quickly distracted.

Groklaw on ODF & Accessibility

April 27th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Groklaw covered the conference on ODF and accessibility at Cal State Northridge in March (technically called the “21st Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference“).

Of great interest for ODF-in-Massachusetts supporters was the public introduction of Orca, the open source, scripting screen reader Sun is developing. Not only will this program and others like it open the door to computer use for many disabled people, they are also essential for governments to adopt open source programs that meet their accessibility requirements.

Guardian Reviews the Nokia 770

April 26th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

The Guardian seems to understand the Nokia 770, as shown by this review.

“If you want something that is lying around the house, or by your bedside, for instant use when needed, then this is for you. It could come of age during an era of omnipresent Wi-Fi, enabling anytime, anywhere access to the web for everything from word processing to blogging and video sites.”

“Previous attempts to sell internet tablet computers have failed despite massive accompanying hype. This one has two things in its favour. It is tailor-made for the cloudburst of web applications we are promised and, being based on open source, it can call on a volunteer army of Linux enthusiasts to write programs for it.”

Indeed, programmers have been jumping aboard. See for yourself on the Maemo Wiki’s Application Catalog!

Support NeoOffice

April 26th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

NeoOffice is the best and most actively developed for Mac OS X. Version 2.0 Alpha is now available, but the project also needs funding! If you can spare $25, join the early access program, get a copy of the Alpha before everyone else, and help support the developers of this essential program for Mac OS X.

Appleseed Project

April 25th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Appleseed is the way that social networking will inevitably evolve: it is an open source, distributed social networking platform. Just as anyone can set up an email server and send emails to users on any other, when this project reaches fruition, anyone will be able to set up a social networking server and befriend users on any other.

In addition, its modular architecture will allow users and developers to create plugins for it (like Firefox’s extensions), that will surely make it grow in many unexpected directions. I’d like to see filesharing (in particular, for open source programs) and bookmark sharing (like implemented as modules.

Back from Free Culture Summit 2006

April 24th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

We arrived at Swarthmore just in time for the very end of Lawrence Lessig’s talk, which I had really wanted to see. Everyone felt that it had been very informative and interesting! Hopefully I can find a transcript somewhere.

We also had the Pirate Party (pictures coming soon)! I learned about Electric Sheep for the first time, which was projected on a screen as a visual backdrop for the party.

Saturday included a number of sessions of interest, and in the evening I presented Wikipages in a “Lightning Talk.” There was a high level of interest among attendees. We also learned about the free culture aspects of games, whose rules apparently cannot be controlled by patent or trademark. Nelson taught us “Stairball,” which has recently been invented at Swarthmore. (See Adam Lizzi’s website for more.)

I also sold three copies of The Tiny Guide to, and found a high level of interest in OpenOffice among attendees (of course!).

Byfield: Combining Documents with OOo

April 21st, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Bruce Byfield writes OOo Off the Wall: Combining Documents with OOo.

He explains that the use of styles in OpenOffice Writer makes a feature like WordPerfect’s “Reveal Codes” unnecesssary, and he demonstrates a workflow of combining documents into a new file that maintains consistent styling throughout. This is a pretty neat trick!

“Open Source Parking”

April 20th, 2006 Benjamin Horst has just launched.

“ is a domain parking service that helps Free Software and Open Source. Domain parking provides a place-holder web page for an undeveloped domain name. Now you can do some good with those undeveloped domains!

Microsoft has been paying the large domain resellers to move their “parked” sites to IIS on Microsoft Server. Moving the parked customers of a single large reseller,, caused a shift of 4.5 Million domain names, or 5% of total server share from Apache to Microsoft IIS in the Netcraft report. This is an “appearance” change only, because the sites involved have no content. But managers believe figures like those in the Netcraft report, and act on them. It’s time for the Free Software / Open Source community to fight back.”

Free Citywide WiFi Coming to Portland Oregon

April 19th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Christian Einfeldt tipped me off to this news: Portland, Oregon, will “operate a citywide Wi-Fi network that will provide free wireless Internet access and substantially improved public services to Portland residents.”

Mobile Tech News is running the story.

“MetroFi, the leader in designing, building and operating free citywide Wi-Fi networks, announced today it has been selected by the City of Portland, the 28th largest city in the United States, to deliver and operate a citywide Wi-Fi network… The announcement demonstrates Portland’s cutting-edge vision for citywide smart parking meters, universal wireless connectivity and affordable Internet access for its residents. The MetroFi Portland system will be built at no cost to the city, and the City of Portland expects to save millions of dollars in productivity and wireless Internet service fees by using the network.”

Cities save millions by making their existing processes more efficient, and the cost of letting citizens use the extra capacity is essentially zero. So why would any government listen for half a second to a predatory company trying to defend its network monopoly against something clearly better in all respects? (Remember the law passed in Pennsylvania making this sort of wireless network illegal?)

“The City of Portland, which spans 134 square miles and has a population of approximately 540,000, will be blanketed by a state-of-the-art Wi-Fi mesh network. Residents and visitors of Portland will have wireless access to 1Mbps Wireless Internet at no cost. Portland’s public works field personnel and first responders will have greatly expanded access to wireless network services to facilitate more responsive data communications.”

I am extremely excited and pleased by this development!