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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. Jon ‘maddog’ Hall will be on hand, along with a number of other notable Linux speakers. Talks and Panels cover topics such as Apache Cassandra, building your own Mail Cloud, Drizzle, OpenNMS, Security Enhanced Linux, and the Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud.

Admission is inexpensive and both enthusiast and supporter level tickets may be purchased, depending on your particular economic situation.

Hit www.texaslinuxfest.org for a list of talks and a link to the registration page.

This coming Tuesday, the 1960 PC Users Group will be holding their monthly general meeting in conjunction with the monthly meeting of their Digital Photography SIG.

The general meetings are generally short and are generally used to recognize visitors, make announcements, and give attendees a little social time, complete with refreshments, before the start of the meeting. Six thirty to get your blood sugar up and seven o’clock to level up your intelligence. The Digital Photography presentation immediately follows. April’s speaker will be Don Townzen, who, over a period of three years, travelled the state of Texas to photograph all 254 of the state’s court houses. He’ll be sharing these pictures along with bits of Texas history and folklore, with his photographic traveling partner, Pat. Your digital photography questions will be answered, too. All of this happens Tuesday, April 6th. Hit www.1960pcug.org for details and directions. The Digital Photography SIG has been posting past presentations in PDF format to their SIG page, so be sure to take advantage of that resource if you’re just starting to get up to speed with digital photography.

And tomorrow morning, you’ll want to surf sites like Slashdot.org and ThinkGeek.com with an air of suspicion, as it will be April 1st, aka April Fool’s Day. Since the dawn of the Internet, there have been those who would deceive on this day, in mostly clever and harmless ways. Rather than try to pull the digital wool over your eyes tonight, I’d rather revisit some of the better pranks from April first’s past.

Last year, YouTube allowed users to turn videos upside down by including flip=1 in the GET string of the video’s URL, turning several unaware users’ worlds upside down. That may have looked just about right to users of Google in Austrailia, who may have been temporarily enticed be the gBall, a football containing a GPS and motion sensing system used to monitor the location, force, and torque of each kick. 2009 was also the year that the UK’s Guardian stated that they would be killing their print version and going to a Twitter-only format.

In 2008, the Aussies are back at it with a claim that the new Google search tool could search into the future. YouTube also made a notable showing by RickRolling all of their featured videos that day. The Weather Underground stated that psychic research had proven the connection between hurricanes and global warming, which could have extended some credibility to a BBC video produced by Terry Jones, in which the film maker discovers a breed of flying penguin that migrates to the rain forest when things become a little less than pleasant in their wintery summer homes.

In 2007, Think Geek dropped a few new products on the market, such as the Wii Helmet and the 8-bit tie. In Their defense, Think Geek did eventually bring a real, live, 8-bit tie to market which is now available the other 355 days of the year. Google.com offered up free in-home wireless broadband, and hideapod.com offered up the ultimate iPod anti-theft device… by hiding it in a Zune. (Zing!) And having apparently missed the fallout from the bonsai kittens, or perhaps paying very close attention, the site tattooyourtoddler.com caught some flack from a few child protection organizations who had failed to check their calendars. This was also the year of the virtual tin foil hat, as it was introduced as an in-game item by Blizzard in the World of Warcraft.

In Aught-Six, the Fair Use Day.com team announced that they had joined the ranks of the RIAA, Fidofinder.com offered up a one million dollar reward for a lost dog, and iwantoneofthose.com featured a tiny device that would allow you to download your brain’s memory onto a 2GB USB flash drive. Surfers who bought that probably could have gotten away with the 500MB model.

In 2005, Google released Google Gulp, allowing you to quench your thirst for knowledge. The Auto-Drink feature and the fact that it was low in carbs were two strong selling points. Our own Chron.com was among the first to pick up prank that Maxim magazine would feature the Bush twins on the front cover, clad in lingerie, in what would appear to be the aftermath of a pillow fight. And in a one-two-punch combo on the Bush clan, SpaceDaily.com announced that Bush had canceled the Space Shuttle program.

And all the way back in 1998, an issue of the New Mexicans for Science and Reason newsletter contained an article claiming that the Alabama state legislature had voted to change the mathematical constant pi from 3.14159… to the ‘Biblical’ value of 3.0. The newsletter soon made its way onto the web, resulting in hundreds of letters to the Alabama legislature demanding they repeal the bogus bill.

The site aprilfoolsdayontheweb.com has a pretty good compendium of April First web shennanigans dating back to 2004. They’ll also be tracking tomorrow’s 2010 fare in near real time, so rather than circularly surfing sites, just use them as your single prank portal.

And if you’re not already in the habit of doing so, tomorrow is an excellent day to start locking your desktop when you leave for a coffee break, lest you fall prey to a local prank at the hands of co-workers.

And finally, Friday, April 2nd, is the date of the April Installment of the monthly Geek Gathering. That’s no joke, though tales of the previous day’s antics won’t be turned away. We’ll be carting out an epic amount of Arduino gear in the hopes that we’ll have enough room next door to let people get the hands dirty with physical computing. If you have any of your own projects you’d like to show off or if you’d just like to work on something in the presence of kindred souls, then we invite you come on over and set up shop. The Coffee Groundz is located between Brazos and Bagby on McGowan in Midtown Houston. WiFi and geeky camradery are free, but coffee, beer, spirits, gelato and food will set you back a few bucks. Things get started around seven and are buzzing until the last geek isn’t. Which is always after ten. So join Jay Lee and the rest of the crew of Technology Bytes to get in on the action, be it digital or something made with some 100 gram heavy worsted Merino wool. Knitting reference for the win!

That’s it for your 4/1 411 and that’s that for BarretTime.

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