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First off, today is Ada Lovelace Day, an international day of blogging to celebrate the achievements of women in technology and science. www.findingada.com for details on the day and the lady.

This weekend, Houston’s George R. Brown will be home to Comicpalooza. In its third year, the con has been re-invented as a multi-format convention celebrating not just comics, but also sci-fi and fantasy, horror, steam punk, New Media, movies, film, and gaming of all types. www.comicpalooza.com for details and registration information.

Also, the Texas Linux Fest is coming up in just a few weeks. Happening Saturday, April 10th, at the Marchesa Event Center in Austin, Texas, the Fest aims to be the first state-wide, community-run conference for Linux and Open Source Software enthusiasts. I don’t know how LinuCon from a few years back would factor into that, but this is definitely the first state-wide Linux conference to open with a musical morning keynote.

Delivered by Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier, ‘A Musical Guide to the Future of Linux: Reprise’ will take a look at where the Linux community is, where its going, and maybe where it should be going next. Along the way, Zonker plans to show you that Open Source has more in common with popular music than you might think.

Talks and Panels cover topics such as Apache Cassandra, building your own Mail Cloud, Drizzle (the database, no relation to Snoop Dogg, yet), OpenNMS, Security Enhanced Linux, and the Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud.

For all of the developers out there, you should probably pencil in the talk being presented by Janet Swisher and David Cramer entitled, ‘Benefiting from the Skills of Non-programmers’. If you just muttered ‘what skills’ under your breath, then you should probably go ahead and ink that in.

And it wouldn’t be a Linux festival without talks of installing the OS on things other than your garden variety IBM clone. ‘Linux on the PowerPC’ and ‘Ubuntu on ARM’ are two talks that fill that niche. If you want to develop for mobile platforms but don’t want to deal with the lock-down of the iPhone App Store or the awesomeness, I mean, well, you’re going to have to Google for a con of the Android platform because I’m still in love with my Nexus One, so long as Google is legally allowed to call it that. The point is that if you want to run Linux on your older Apple or Ubuntu on your ARM-powered mobile device, these talks have you covered. By the way, I mean ARM powered as in products powered with the ARM chip, not your own arms, as would be the case with our hand-crank radio of fundraisers past.

ARM is a 32-bit reduced instruction set computer, which is commonly known by the acronym RISC. The chip started out life as the Acorn RISC Machine, but underwent a name change to the Advanced RISC Machine.

In 2007, 98% of the more than one billion mobile phones sold used at least one ARM processor. Today, products like the Acer n300, the Amazon Kindle2, several of the Dell Latitude e-Series laptops and the Microsoft Zune HD all use ARM technology. So Ubuntu getting into ARM is certainly big as far as freeing the next generations of mobile devices.

So getting back to all things Linuxy, Linux Legendary Jon “maddog” Hall will be on hand at the Texas Linux Fest to talk about Project Caua, a project aimed at making it possible for people to make a living as a Systems Administrator or Entrepreneur using Free and Open Source Software and Hardware.

Randal Schwartz will be wrapping things up with a talk titled, ‘Free Software: A Look Back, a Look Ahead’ in wich he’ll be recounting some of his experiences with the history of free software, including why it works, how to contribute, and how to make money with it.

It will cost you some money to attend, but both enthusiast and supporter tickets may be purchased, depending on your particular economic situation and dedication to the scene. The supporter ticket also comes with a bag for schwag and a t-shirt. Other than that, they badges are identical.

Hit www.texaslinuxfest.org for a list of talks and links to the registration page. Again, that’s Saturday April 10th.

A little closer to home is the second of two presentations by the Houston Linux Users Group aka the Linux SIG at HAL-PC. Things get going at two in the afternoon at the HAL-PC Headquarters and are generally wrapped by four. Hit www.hal-pc.org for directions, then follow the link for viewing the complete SIG and Class Calendar. While you’re there, you can check out other Special Interest Group goings-on, such as the Robotics Lab that meets at 1:00 that same Saturday, or the Linux Workshop, which meets every Wednesday night at six PM at that same location. Aside from the Geek Gathering, I know of no other groups that invite you to bring your Linux problems in hardware form, along with you to a meet-up. But these guys encourage it. Just make sure to bring all the appropriate power cords, keyboards and mice. Really, everything but the monitor. And they’ll have you in the car in time to catch us, hopefully with less Linux questions than you started with.

I mentioned Project Caua earlier. The group has some fairly lofty goals that include creating millions of high tech jobs in the private sector, saving huge amounts of electricity from desktop computers, creating environmentally sound computing, making computers easier to use, and bridging the Digital Divide by creating a free wireless mesh bubble over areas of high population.

They also believe that annoyances of today like viruses, SPAM, making backups and even installing software should all be things of the past. A little less ethereal is the project’s idea to transfer oversea support jobs to unemployed people here in the US. The project believes that there are perfectly capable people who are currently on welfare that just need to be trained to do a job well and given backup support when needed. The underlying technological theme is that all of this can be done with Free and Open Source Software and Hardware. Its out there, its free, we just need to get it in the hands of the people who can benefit from it. That’s a tall order, but you don’t earn the nickname “maddog” by chasing things that are easily caught.

Hit www.projectcaua.org for more information about this group’s lofty goals.

And lastly, we have a Geek Gathering coming up in a little over a week. And while we’ve definitely hiked in a large amount of Arduino gear in meetings past, we’ll be doing doubly so a week from Friday. The Arduino platform revolves around the idea of taking a low power micro-controller, something akin to what would have set on your desktop twenty years ago in terms of power, but no bigger than a stick of chewing gum in terms of size, making it easy to tie in any assortment of electronic inputs and outputs. In the end, Arduino can mean anything from wearable computing to audience-aware art installations. And at April’s Geek Gathering, we can show you the gear that
will allow you to take your first steps into becoming a maker rather than a user. That’s it for getting a Lasso on Linux in the Lone Star State and that’s that for BarretTime.

  1. Thanks for mentioning my appearance at Texas LinuxFest. Should be a good time!