Dad. Assistant City Manager. Surviving.

Category: Technology Page 3 of 7

The Meaning of Free Software

From Walter Isaacson’s The Innovators:

Stallman’s free software movement was imperfectly named. Its goal was not to insist that all software come free of charge but that it be liberated from any restrictions. “When we call software ‘free,’ we mean that it respects the users’ essential freedoms: the freedom to run it, to study and change it, and to redistribute copies with or without changes,” he repeatedly had to explain. “This is a matter of freedom, not price, so think of ‘free speech,’ not ‘free beer.'”

The Problem with New Open Source Social Media Platforms

The problem with the new, open source, social media platforms?

They (typically) don’t run on basic php/mysql web servers. Plain and simple.

I’ve written lots on open source before (see here), so needless to say I see a lot of value in open source software.

These new, open source, social media platforms I’m talking about include diaspora* (explanation here), MediaGoblin (explanation here), and pump.io (explanation here). Each of these require server resources above the standard shared server. Thus, the cost is to high for your average user. Typical shared hosting costs anywhere from $5 to $10 per month. Typical virtual private hosting (the next step up and able to run these platforms) costs anywhere from $15 to $25 per month. That’s a big difference for your average hobbyist. Like myself.

Sure, you can find pods or installs of this software to use. But part of the need for these platforms is that you can host and own your content. And there’s no guarantee of ownership when you’re using someone else’s install and someone else’s server. If I wanted someone else to host and manage my content, I’d upload my pictures to flickr or Google+.

I’ll compare to the WordPress content management system (on which this site is built).

WordPress has a huge user base. WordPress powers 23% of the web. Nearly a quarter of all websites run on the open source WordPress software. It’s not all self-hosted, like this site. Much of it is run on wordpress.com, an install of the WordPress software maintained by Automattic. But for most everyone else, it is self-hosted and runs on cheap, shared hosting.

And this is why I think WordPress is so popular. Cheap, shared hosting.

Cheap, shared hosting that any hobbyist can afford. That any business can afford. That any non-profit can afford. That any government can afford.

So here’s a shoutout to everyone working on the likes of diaspora* and MediaGoblin (and many others, and all the future open source platforms). Design it to work on cheap, shared hosting and on php/mysql. This combination powers most of the web. And it allows us hobbyists to run your software. I really want to use it and tinker with it and contribute to the code and contribute back to the communities around them.

But I can’t on my shared hosting plan.

In addition, I’m also a big fan of the U.S. Digital Service new Playbook for government digital services projects. Plus, it’s on GitHub!

I’m a big fan of the U.S. Digital Service

Introducing the U.S. Digital Service:

Interacting with the government shouldn’t be a thing that you automatically dread.

-Mikey Dickerson

Every one of us in government, this should be our goal, every day.

While I love what the USDS is doing, I find it a little sad that half the discussion centers around what Mikey wears to work. Who cares? We should be talking about his results and his goals, not dress code.

Instead of Defending

Bruce Schneier on the overarching problem with the NSA surveillance:

By developing these technologies instead of helping defend against them, the NSA — and GCHQ and CSEC — are contributing to the ongoing insecurity of the Internet.

I killed Facebook and left its body in the woods. Great article from The Verge. I deleted my account just about two years ago, August 23, 2012.

T-Mobile Test Drive Begins

image

Our family’s Verizon contract is about to be up, so we’ve taken advantage of the T-Mobile Test Drive (with the iPhone 5S) to try out their service. It’s a pretty interesting concept, and I’ll post a review when our week is up.

There is nothing more clear than an a unanimous Supreme Court opinion and a statement like this at the end of a decision (pdf file):

Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple — get a warrant.

Government and 20th Century Answers

Why Philadelphia’s Chief Data Officer Quit

And that was my single biggest frustration during my time at the city — we were constantly using 20th century answers to problems that required a 21st century solution.

This is the world I want to live in:

Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport… Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.

I wish this happened far more often (the rarity justifies this post), but I see us going in the direction of openness.

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