Intuitive Scrollbars for GNOME 3.0

Upon seeing a neat window management concept for GNOME 3.0 on Reddit (although it has some big criticisms in the comments), i was reminded of an amazing scrollbar concept i saw a while ago. Since Karmic will be able to test GNOME 3.0, i think these intuitive scrollbars would be a great addition.
From on YouTube:
This would just give Ubuntu more edge over Windows and Mac, making Ubuntu even more intuitive. Although for people used to the old style scrollbar it may be intimidating at first glance, within a couple of clicks, it would immedately become another reason to get hooked on Ubuntu!
Launchpad Bug: Script: Feature Request:

One Nation Under God or One Nation Without God

I used the Creative Commons CC0 waiver (like public domain but better) to relieve my high school junior thesis of all copyright restrictions. I have just now gotten around to uploading it to the Internet Archive, so check it out and let me know what you think: 

  • Info page
  • PDF
  • ODT

Anime Boston 2009 Recap

This post is about a month late, but i wanted to write about my experience at Anime Boston 2009 which was held May 22nd-24th. These guys could really use a lot of help in the tech department. Their website sucks. It's poorly formatted and just doesn't deliver. Much of the content was put up late, or didn't even make it up; there are dead links and content that is missing or directs you to last year's information until the website is updated (which it has not been). This says quite a bit to me, actually, but i wonder what we could do to help: maybe apply for a volunteer or staff position. Any other ideas? A solid site could do a lot for the convention, but i suspect upper management might be holding the event back.
Overall, the event had a lot of potential, but i personally don't think it was run as well as it could have been. During the AMV contest, a major event at the convention, there were some technical glitches, and at some point i heard Windows error sounds, at which point i cringed, dropped on the floor, and convulsed. The humor of a lot of the content, for example the pre-show content, was elementary, although overall i was entertained and the crowd was so enthusiastic they would have enjoyed anything, plus the interactive video was very well done. We played Sempai Says, clapped along, shouted A-M-V, sang Totoro, and counted the sexy babes.

I don't want to be overly critical of the event. Anime Boston was actually a surreal experience. Characters that looked like they stepped right out of the screen rushed all around me and i've never been immersed in such a diverse crowd gathering around something they shared such a great common love for. It really was impressive, to say the least. My suspicion about upper management, is that since it is such a tight-knit community, that perhaps the people in charge have been trying to run most of the event themself without enough help, and it's simply too much to handle at this point. If that is the case, they've done an amazing job so far, but the event has grown so large that they need to be hiring more people specialized for running different aspects of the convention. Of course, that might not be the case and nobody is to blame.
If this reaches upper management, or whoever can make this happen, here's what i think could help you a lot. First off, i think the most important thing is a new website, completely redesigned, formatted nicely, perhaps using a CMS to make things easier like Drupal, Joomla!, or Plone, with Atom/RSS feeds that people can subscribe to, and a Creative Commons, CC-BY-SA license. The anime world is all about fan creations, and copyright discourages the kind of sharing that makes the anime community what it is. All content used or shown at the convention should either be made available online, or linked to (for things like copyrighted AMV submissions that can't be made available). We should not have to ask on the Forums and scrounge the internet for this kind of information. Also, if you're using Windows, switch to Ubuntu or some other Linux distro to avoid more technical difficulties. Lastly, take advantage of social networking sites! Link to an official YouTube channel, Facebook page, Reddit,, etc. Twitter was pushed on us pretty hard at the con, so you know the value in these kinds of sites.
Less importantly, having one tiny table for flyers is simply not enough. Sure, it's free advertising, but you should have no trouble turning a profit from the ads in the program guide and registration bags, not to mention admission. Besides, this free advertising is not forced upon congoers, rather it actually attracts them. This brings me to my actual experience being dispatched into the Anime Boston 2009 convention armed with 50 copies of the Ubunchu manga and 100 Ubuntu 9.04 LiveCDs. The entire process was as follows.
First, i met with Martin to convert Ubuntchu into booklet format and get 50 copies printed at Staples for $1.00 each. Next, i took them to my schools printing department to get them staple bound and got an offer for the next batch of copies to be printed there for a fraction of the price. Then, on the first day of the convention, i stopped at the Staples across the street from the Hynes Convetion Center to print stickers (pdf, odt) to put on th Ubuntu CDs with the Masachusetts Team's info on them. Then i paperclipped the CD's to the manga's and entered the convnetion. I was actually there on behalf of a bunch of groups. I also had flyers for lojban (pdf, odt), the Embassy of Piracy (png), and polyamory awareness. Hell yeah, i was representin'!

Anime Boston 2009 Flyers

It was a huge success! There wasn't enough space on the table for all of the mangas, and they don't stack well, especially with the CDs, so i had to drop them off in small batches. It seemed to be the only thing on that table people were actually interested in. I checked back regularly, and each time i came back, all of the copies had already been snatched up. A few hours after arriving, all 50 copies had already been taken. I proceeded to leave CD's without mangas, which didn't go as quickly, not surprisingly. Convention goers are a great target audience. They tend to be slightly on the geeky side, but still cool of course, and are very passionate and open minded people.
P.S. Does anybody think there is enough interest for an Ubuntu Anime Edition? There are some good wallpapers, or the Ubuntu Linux Distro OS-Tan that could be used as the desktop background. I could see a lot of fanboys and fangirls (fanpeople?) getting into Ubuntu that way. Honestly, what's a more widespread, almost clut-ish, but not really, cultural phenomenon that we could target than anime?

Free Software Activism Guide

We, the greater Free Software community, have to do a much better job of reaching out to everyday people and educating them about software freedom. Now, i know many of you will argue that most people will never care about software freedom, and that we should focus on making a superior product as well as market it well. There's plenty being done on that front, although i do have some criticisms on that i'll post later, but even though it may be true that most people will never care about free software, or any issue, we have done a particularly bad job of educating people. We should not undervalue educating the average person on free software or underestimate the benefits in focusing our activism.
There's a lot we could learn from other activists. There is still a significant number of people who would care about the subject if only they knew. Reaching out to other activists can be very effective in building support. Many activist communities would be eager to join us if only we could explain our movement to them. After all, we usually share the same ethical positions and social interests.
Wouldn't it be nice if there was some guide somewhere on effective activism? Turns out they're everywhere. I went around and compiled information from various sources to create this specific Free Software Activism Guide on the Ubuntu wiki as a resource for individuals and LoCo Teams to help advocate digital rights and software freedom and the adoption of Ubuntu, GNU/Linux, Free Software, and Free Formats as a means of achieving that.
It includes general tips, instructions for converting friends and fundraising, hitting the streets, lobbying government, talking to organizations and educational institutions, gaining industry support, and getting media coverage. I hope you will take a look, pass it on, contribute to it, and get active!

Fund Your Project With The Threshold Pledge System

The threshold pledge system is actually fairly common in everyday life. How often does a group of friends pool together money to buy something, or commit to doing something if the other friends make the same commitment? here are three applications with examples: 

  1. Monetary goal
    • Example: A group wants to make a purchase (parhaps to receive a group discount), and they all pitch in
    • Example: A project can only get started with a certain amount of money, so interested people donate to meet the contribution goal
  2. Group action
    • Example: An action like conserving energy or writing to the government only has a significant effect in numbers, so pledges are made as a group
  3. Monetary incentive
    • Example: Incentive is created for a public good that can only be supplied by certain people like a copyleft work or a missing feature in a free software project by donors who pledge money for whoever completes the job for them. 
In applying this system, the ultimate goal of a project cannot be reached until a certain amount of pledges are made. There is also usually an assurance contract which means that if the goal is not met by a specified deadline, then no pledges are collected, or all pledges are refunded. 
Here are some websites which are really helpful in organizing fundraisers and group actions using the threshold pledge system: 
  • The Point - Good for for applications 1 & 2 
  • Fundable - Good for application 1
  • microPledge - Good for application 1, but currently frozen in development
  • PledgeBank - Good for application 2
  • COfundOS - Good for application 3 applied specifically to open source software
I hope you find this solution and these websites useful for whatever projects you haven't yet been able to take on without this!

13 things to get excited for in Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala

I don't know about you, but i'm damn excited about the upcoming version of Ubuntu, so it better deliver! As usual, there will be tons of bug fixes, updated packages, tighter integration, as well as increased stability and usability. All talk so far. The One Hundred Paper Cuts campign looks promising on providing even more usability enhancements. Aside from a new Ubiquity slideshow for new users, what specific things are there to look forward to?

Before i start, i must give good mention to PlayDeb, which should be back up for Karmic! Gaming needs some leverage in Ubuntu. PlayDeb is a third-party repository you can add to Ubuntu for all of the latest games available that aren't included in the Ubuntu repos. I can easily install and play StepMania 4 and Yo Frankie! (even if it doesn't make it into Ubuntu).

Sorry for the lack of pictures and a more detailed breakdown, but i'm sure you will see much of that will develop over the coming weeks. This list should hold you off until then:

  1. New Theme
  2. I list this first because we've been promised this for so long, and even though we were promised it was actually happening in Karmic, i'm just not so sure anymore. I hope to see it, but i won't set myself up to be crushed if we don't =]
  3. Flawless PulseAudio
  4. Oh yes, we've been waiting on this for all too long. Audio should finally be close to perfect. If you're like me, and haven't had any real problems with it, please move along to the next item.
  5. Firefox 3.5
  6. The wonderful new version of Mozilla Firefox that adds support for Ogg Theora/Vorbis, audio and video, respectively for HTML 5's Open Web Video (also supported in Midori using WebKit) should be a significant upgrade from the current version.
  7. Faster Boot Times
  8. This is a general thing that we should see improve a lot in Karmic and Karmic +1. Self-explanatory, move along now.
  9. Ext4 now Default
  10. Ext4 support was just added in 9.04, and now it will be the default for new installs of 9.10. If you don't know already, Ext4 brings a lot of nice changes, over Ext3, and will generally improve filesystem performance.
  11. GNU GRUB 2
  12. The boot loader for new installation will now be GNU GRUB 2, which is a complete rewrite of GRUB which make it faster, cleaner, safer, as well as more robust, portable, and powerful.
  13. Plymouth
  14. Goodbye, USpash! Plymouth will be making our graphical boot experiance cleaner with no more of that annoying flickering of the display at startup. It makes Ubuntu look more polished, or at least less unpolised. [Update, see  below]
  15. New Linux Kernel
  16. The newest Linux Kernel 2.6.31 will be included in which we can hope to see ATI kernel-based mode-setting (KMS) and memory managemnt support in. The current 2.6.30 Kernel will already be old by then.
  17. New Intel Drivers
  18. Again, this will solve major performance problems that Ubuntu Jaunty 9.04 had with Intel drivers. Gah, i hate Intel. Sorry, i had to throw that in there.
  19. New NVIDIA Drivers
  20. The new NVIDIA drivers add VDPAU and CUDA support resulting in, you guessed it-- more performance enhancements!
  21. GNOME 2.28 (and Testing GNOME 3)
  22. Not only will Ubuntu ship with all the enhancements of GNOME 2.28, but users will be able to test GNOME 3 in Karmic! Cool stuff.
  23. PackageKit
  24. Oh yes. It's a much nicer way to manage and update applications than Add/Remove and Update Manager that actually uses PolicyKit. This will certainly be quite a refreshing change.
  25. Empathy
  26. Lastly, the most controversial of the changes, Empathy will take the place of both Pidgin and Ekiga. I would like to take this opportunity to support this decision. Hopefully, even if you still prefer Pidgin for yourself, you can appreciate what Empathy brings for new users. It has been discussed for over half a year at UDS Jaunty and Karmic, and there are a number of reasons it should happen:
    New users: Pidgin has lots of features and plugins that may cater to some of us just better, but Empathy has a friendlier UI for new users. We want to make Ubuntu the best experience for those migrating to it. The rest of us have no trouble keeping Pidgin.
    Integration: Empathy integrates well into the GNOME desktop. A lot of cool stuff is possible with it. 'Nuff said (you can learn more on your own).
    Features: Empathy is mostly feature complete, and the lack of OTR is something that new users will not know or use. I agree it is important, but it is still available in Pidgin until Empathy implements it.
    Telepathy: Empathy uses the awesome Telepathy framework. It supports libpurple for all networks only currently in Pidgin.
    Voice/Video: Empathy already has VoIP support for audio and video chatting, which means it can replace both Pidgin and Ekiga.
    Feature Gap: Yes, Telepathy might be a tiny bit behind in a few places, but none of them are showstoppers, and it is far ahead in others. Including it in Karmic will mean that the feature gap between Empathy and Pidgin will close and reverse much sooner, not to mention we'd like Empathy to be awesome in Ubuntu Karmic +1 10.04 LTS.

P.S. Today is Empathy Hug Day! Let's all give it some love.
Update: My bad, Plymouth has been dropped to focus on making Ubuntu boot in under ten seconds which would make Plymouth worthless.

Stable 64-bit Flash for Karmic?

Not too long ago, it was quite exciting that the first version of 64-bit Flash was released for Linux only! On top of that, the alpha was much more stable than using the final 32-bit version under 64-bit Linux, and i believe that alpha was almost included in Jaunty, but didn't make it because of the no non-final software rule (that has been made exceptions to before anyway). Now that the second alpha (alpha refresh) for 64-bit Flash is out, i hope that we can make an exception and include it in Karmic.
P.S. What other last minute inclusions are people looking for?
I'm personally hoping that we can get Yo Frankie! included to show off a completely FOSS/copyleft game with nice 3D graphics, that was created using entirely FOSS tools and software! It needs packaging and there's a COfundOS project offering money for completion [LP #311938 + Debian #497859]

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