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Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

On Spendings Culture

Owners of capital will stimulate the working class to buy more and more of expensive goods, houses and technology, pushing them to take more and more expensive credits, until their debt becomes unbearable.

The unpaid debt will lead to bankruptcy of banks, which will have to be nationalised…

Karl Marx, Das Kapital, 1867

The First Linux Distribution

ManLUG

The old ManLUG Web site

The Linux Distro Timeline is a nice little project which visualises connections between the different Linux distributions as a function of time (there is also a Linux mindmap). In any event, it led me to exploring Wikipedia, which supports the argument that the first GNU/Linux distribution was developed right here where I work. Below is a snippet, extracted from some prophetic words from Owen LeBlanc.

There are now two free Unix operating systems available for PCs: Linux and 386BSD.

Linux is the more mature system, now available in it fifth public test version, 0.95a. The system requires a 386 or above, with or without a co-processor, with a minimum of 2 Mbytes of memory, and with at least 4 Mbytes recommended. The source for the operating system requires about 0.5 Mbytes, and binaries currently available (about 250 commands) require 8 to 10 additional Mbytes, although, of course, you may delete unwanted bits, or add further programs. With swap space, this means a minimum of about 20 Mbytes of hard disk space. …

Journalism in a Sea of Open Information

Man and his dog

THREE figures which I tend to quote quite often are John Dvorak, Joel Spolsky, and Jeffrey Veen. There is a lot of discussion these days about the impact of the Internet on mainstream media and all of them address the issue regularly. Veen’s latest item is certainly worthy of special attention.

What we couldn’t have seen back then, and what is so obvious today, is that you can very effectively cut out the middleman. What happens when the entire audience is on the network and has access to the databases? And what happens when they have the tools to publish what they uncover? Some call it chaos, others call it the blogosphere. But you can’t deny that it is transforming media faster than we ever thought it would.

Previous items on the same topic:

Web-Based References Manger

Book scanning

SEVERAL days ago, in the context of ‘housekeeping’ computer chores, I stressed the need to manage paper references in an appropriate application. At the time I mentioned JabRef, which is a Java references management program. I have had JabRef installed for quite a while, but did not bother to accommodate it with data.

Knowing the limitation of workstation-bound software, I decided to go ‘shopping’ for a Web-based alternative. I have many such applications installed on my Webspace, so I know their powers. I also know that I can take advantage of remote access, but it can be slow (especially while on vacation), cumbersome, and only loosely inter-operable. JabRef is cross-platform, but installation on each desktop is still a requirement, which is less than desirable.

My pursuit for a Web-based program was very fruitful. I found only one application of the type I had sought. Freshmeat (which is suitable to vegetarians too!) had me aware of PHPBibMan (PHP Bibliography Manager). Here is my own description of PHPBibMan. It is based on what I have been able to gather after a few minutes of exploration:

  • PHP/MySQL
  • Open Source
  • Free, apparently GPL
  • Rich graphical interface
  • Multiple users, multiple groups
  • BibTeX import and BibTeX output (albeit import is not very reliable)
  • High level of complexity (over 500 files), plenty of functionality

PHPBibMan is finally installed on my site alongside similar applications, the latest of which is for spreadsheets. So far I like what I see, but the documentation (installation instructions in particular) are poor. There is plenty of potential for PHPBibMan, but merely nonexistent documentation had me digging the files and experimenting before actual success. The projects looks as thought it ceases to be actively maintained last year.

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Original styles created by Ian Main (all acknowledgements) • PHP scripts and styles later modified by Roy Schestowitz • Help yourself to a GPL'd copy
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