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Submission + - Kansas drops plan for municipal broadband ban (

Mokurai writes: "Facing public backlash over a Senate bill that would outlaw community broadband services statewide, Sen. Julia Lynn, R-Olathe, announced on Monday the postponement of hearings set to take place this week. Senate Bill 304 would prohibit cities and counties from building public broadband networks."

The bill was reportedly "introduced by John Federico, a cable industry lobbyist."

I didn't see this on SlashDot when it was introduced, but the Internet definitely responded to the threat of damage.

Comment Moving in with parents, yup (was Re:Nope.) (Score 4, Informative) 416

My wife and I were very lucky on this. Her parents, ages 88 and 95, needed in-home care, and were willing to pay for us to move to their town to provide it, as we were nearing retirement, and I was transitioning to full-time tech volunteering. It turned out to be vastly cheaper to live here in Indiana than in Silicon Valley, especially with the jobs gone away in the current recession just after they started coming back from the previous recession. We now live in the inherited house and have a comfortable income, between retirement and inheritance.

The writer is in a very different situation, but also has options outside the conventional I assume that the writer has significant home equity after 20 years, and has some savings and investments socked away, some in tax-deferred retirement accounts. Consider, then, the option of moving somewhere vastly cheaper. Quite comfortable houses in our town are available for as little as $70,000. There is a university town nearby (Indiana University, Bloomington), and we have several colleges and university affiliates right here in Columbus.

If you would like a different challenge among the enclued, you could do much worse than to join my outfit, Sugar Labs (a partner of One Laptop Per Child) working on Free Software for education plus Open Education Resources for millions of children now, and ultimately a billion at a time. Our mission is to end global poverty and its many associated ills, using technology as infrastructure for everything else needed. But there are other options right around here. For example, the OpenMRS Medical Records System is being developed in part nearby in Indianapolis. Your database skills would be perfect for them, and they even pay. ^_^

The schools here are pretty decent, and I and my wife also have experience in homeschooling our son and daughter.

So there really are options. Look around, and ignore the naysayers who claim that it can't be done.

Comment Why collaborative software? (was Re:LaTeX?) (Score 2) 87

LaTeX is excellent for journal and technical book publishing and some other applications, but it was not designed for collaboration over the Web, and for full multiformat output.

BookType, and its predecessor Booki, are designed for collaborative authorship around the world and for multi-format output, including HTML, PDF, print-on-demand, and others. The original development was sponsored by FLOSS Manuals, which creates manuals for Free Software applications. I have worked on manuals with them for How to Bypass Internet Censorship (now available in Arabic, Farsi, Chinese, Russian, and more), Firefox, the Linux command line, mifos microfinance software, and more, and they have dozens of other titles. FLOSS Manuals also pioneered the Book Sprint, collaborative writing of manuals by 8 or 10 people (writers, subject-matter experts, editors, artists, tech admins) gathered in a room, and several others (particularly proofreaders) over the Web within a week. We did the Censorship book from Monday morning to Friday evening in a rented house in upstate New York, ordered copies from, and then went out for dinner. Pics available, such as

Since then I have become Program Manager for Replacing Textbooks at Sugar Labs, the Free Software and OER partner of One Laptop Per Child. The rationale for the program is that netbook and tablet computers such as the XO-3 cost much less than printed textbooks, and have many other advantages in any school system, but especially for poor children in developing countries., Our mission is to end poverty and the various other ills associated with it. This includes unnecessary disease, disability and death; oppression of the poor and minorities around the world; much of government corruption; and wars of oppression or plunder. Naturally, more is required than computers to accomplish all of this, but it cannot be done without giving every child unfettered access to information and to other people around the world. See, for example,

Sugar Labs plans to host book replacements in every traditional school subject, and whatever else our students need, at every level of development in every language needed. I am currently working on an Algebra text where every math statement can be copied from the document and pasted into a software session to execute and if desired plot or graph. There are more than 100,000 other OER packages available at various other Web sites that we have listed.

Comment Re:Wrong problem (Score 1) 191

Check out the FLOSS Manuals model and Book Sprint methodology at . I got paid for my work on How to Bypass Internet Censorship (now available in Farsi, Russian, and Chinese!). Eight of us in a room and three others online wrote, edited, and illustrated the English original in five days, and published it in PDF and print-on-demand on the fifth day.

Think of it as Extreme Documentation with pair writing, frequent refactoring, and so on.

Comment Replacing printed textbooks with... (Score 1) 191

Exactly. Netbook computers already cost less than printed textbooks, and schools here and there are getting ready for the transition. Herr Gubernator Schwarzenegger has noticed that California could save billions with digital textbook replacements, and started the process last year.

Earth Treasury has a plan for creating such materials under Free licenses.

We are partnering with some of the major pioneers in computerized education from the 1960s.

Alan Kay, inventor of Object-Oriented Programming and the Dynabook educational computer concept, and his Squeakland group. (Smalltalk)

Doug Engelbart and the Doug Engelbart Institute (The Mother of All Demos)

Ken Iverson's group based around his company J Software and his previous employers, IBM and I. P. Sharp Associates. Iverson died in 2004, but his work continues. (APL and J)

Seymour Papert's group at MIT. Papert has been disabled by brain injuries from an accident outside an education conference in Vietnam. (Logo, Turtle Art)

We are in contract talks with education authorities.

Edward Mokurai Cherlin
Founder, Earth Treasury


Submission + - Uruguayan XO rollout complete

Mokurai writes: "Uruguay is the first country to give a laptop to every student in its public elementary schools. Over the last two years, 18,000 teachers have distributed 380,000 XO laptops to every student between the ages of six and twelve. We are all eager to know what results they are getting. Spanish speakers can inquire on the OLPC-Sur mailing list, available through (in Spanish)"

Submission + - Sequoia Voting Systems hacks self in foot (

Mokurai writes: "Sequoia Voting Systems has inadvertently released the SQL code for its voting databases. The existence of such code appears to violate Federal voting law. Read the announcement in the link, just as received on the Open Voting Consortium mailing list earlier today."

Comment XP/XO (was Re:How soon we forget) (Score 1) 493

OMG, can you imagine a billion children getting their first taste of computing with Windows XP running on an OLPC XO? Microsoft has apparently paid for 7,000 dual-boot XOs (Linux + Sugar in main flash, XP on an extra flash card) to be used in trials in Uruguay.

The only good thing I can say about this is, "Woot!" Microsoft is actually paying to have trials of Linux + Sugar vs. XP plus educational shovelware, on the same hardware, conducted by a multitude of teachers and schoolchildren, none of them on the M$ payroll. Oh, frabjous day! Calloo! Callay!

The best bit is that Uruguay has just started an educational blog, where teachers and students have started posting. Story at, more (in Spanish) at

Comment MS vs. DR (was Re:How soon we forget) (Score 1) 493

In 1983 I wrote a market research study on the competition between Microsoft DOS and Digital Research CP/M-86. DOS was, well, DOS, but Gary Kildall had just put a real-time kernel into CP/M-86, and it could read and write on the floppy drive, the hard drive, keyboard and screen, and the modem all at the same time without missing a beat. DOS then, and Windows afterwards, couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time for many years. Apparently nobody at MS knew anything about concurrent programming, particularly how to make concurrent file operations safe. Anybody remember untangling cross-linked files with Norton Utilities?

Gates was a hotshot programmer in high school, but apparently never learned any significant amount of Computer Science before he dropped out of Harvard. Kildall was a CS Prof. If IBM had been willing to deal with Kildall, we would have been spared more than 25 years of software incompetence coupled with insensate greed.

CS is misnamed, of course. It isn't science. We don't have big experimental CS labs. Some of it is math, and some of it is how to do engineering design so that your product actually works, in large part by using math that actually works. Like how to use semaphores correctly in concurrent programming, how to use that do atomic database writes, and other things of that kind.

Comment Re:Where to go from here? (Score 1) 379

I participated in the G1G1 program on the dual basis that I could write software for the platform, and I could do something nice for a third world child. It seems that Microsoft has outsmarted me again. The OLPC is a lousy Windows machine and not worthy of my time to develop software for.

You can develop software for XOs using an emulator on Windows, Mac, or Linux. Also, I guess you never heard about the developer program that gives out XOs for free if you can explain why you need the actual hardware, and can't develop on an emulator.

Otherwise I guess I am the owner of an orphan green notebook computer...

Can I have yours? I have projects that can use any number of XOs that would otherwise molder in closets.

Put it on eBay if you don't want it, or give it to a LUG, or to a budding programmer in a school near you. Or a child. Children like XOs better than grownups do. It was designed for them.

Comment Re:Asus EEE ate their lunch (Score 1) 379

Where I think Sugar broke is in backward compatibility, not running Microsoft Windows, ok thats fine, since Linux is rather mature today and free, but Sugar doesn't run Linux application either, it requires special coded Sugar applications.

This turns out not to be the case. There are several documented ways to run Linux apps in Sugar. Text-mode stuff like Midnight Commander works like a champ in Terminal. You can boot several flavors of regular Linux on an XO. And the developers are working on a way to wrap ordinary Gnome applications for Sugar on the fly.

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