29 Nov 2009

Boring Again - Reasons Why Trisquel is Good

I've started using Trisquel now on my computer at home, as BLAG hasn't had any updates for ages, and I think it is the bomb, and here are my reasons:

1. Its fully free in terms of not having anything proprietary in it.
2. Unlike like other distros, it looks very pretty:

3. It can run off a live USB, so when I'm at work I can avoid using M$ stuff (mostly).
4. It seems to be intuitive, and I've yet to have any problems with it.
5. Whilst its based on Debian and Ubuntu, its not got too much of the complexity of the former, and the bulky and non-free elements of the latter. A good balance between the two, and also good for those new to linux in my most humble of opinions.

Useful tip:

- Instead of Adobe Flash, get the Greasemonkey add-on for Firefox (called 'Web Browser' for license reasons) and add this script and this one. This will play most youtube type flash videos without compromising your freedom.

If you're using window$, get rid of it and get this. Back to normal blogs soon.

20 Nov 2009

Pop Music

"some rough peasants and craftsmen of various mysteries of our realm of England have pretended to be minstrels, of whom some carry our letters, not issued by us, pretending to be our own minstrels and so... under colour of the art or occupation of minstrels they fraudulently collect and receive great sums of money from our lieges. And although they are not expert or intelligent in that art or occupation, and are occupied in various arts and activities on week-days... on feast days they travel from place to place, and take all the profits on which our aforesaid minstrels... who are learned and instructed on this art and occupation, and versed in no other work, occupation or mystery, ought to live."

Edward IV, 1469, pissed off about music.

17 Nov 2009

My Life In Distro's

Its geek time.

I've been exploring free linux distros recently, because I'm incredibly dull. I was previously running Fedora, and then I started messing and broke summat, and rather than fix it, I thought I would experiment with new things. Also, I had lost the Fedora 9 disc, so I didn't really have much of an option, although sensibly, all my files are kept separate from the boot drive, so its a piece of piss to swap OS's.

Having long been a fan of Richard Stallman, I thought "This time, I'm going to go for something completely free" and by free I mean, non-proprietary (as well as in free beer). After looking at gNewSense (looks too hard for me), and playing with Dyne:bolic (which is a weird thing indeed) on my less than powerful living room computer, I settled on BLAG, as this was based on Fedora, which I'm familiar with, as well as having freedom-loving philosophy behind it. Basically, the community behind BLAG take the Fedora distribution, and strip out any proprietary (or non-free) elements, and introduce custom free bits where necessary. I notice this also had the effect of making the whole thing less bulky, and consequently, things run a bit faster.

It worked pretty well 'out of the box', and the initial fixing of stuff is easy if you follow the advice on the forum. One thing I still haven't given much time to is getting a free version of Flash, as this is pretty essential for web browsing these days. There is a 'reverse-engineered' programme called Gnash that is supposed to do a lot of the same stuff, but I found it rather wanting. In the meantime, I had to pollute my 'pure' system with Adobe's original version of Flash, but then I said a Hail Mary and hit myself with birch rods for half an hour.

I might give Trisquel a go at some point.

13 Nov 2009


I'm shit at economics, and I got an 'N' at A Level, but it was gratifying to hear the Tobin Tax proposed this week, although it swiftly moved to disappointment.

The idea was proposed by James Tobin, a nobel prize-winning economist who thought that there should be a tax on currency speculation (specifically transactions) of around 0.25%. He reckoned that this would help to calm harmful speculation (which serves no purpose other than to enrich a tiny minority at the expense of wrecking financial systems of small and large states). The money raised would be used for poverty relief, or to support international institutions like the UN.

War On Want (a charity I've supported for around a decade) have long since been campaigning for it, and various countries have said they would support it, although often really really quietly. One such radical is Nicolas Sarkozy, although it seems likely that he's leapt on board now that the idea is gaining ground. A johnny-come-lately, or Jean arrive tard.

The disappointment arrived thick and fast once I learned that Gordon Brown wanted to have a Tobin Tax for none other than the noble idea of bailing out banks in the future. It seems a bit wrong to term it a Tobin Tax in those circumstances, and I can't imagine the late James Tobin been dead keen on it either.