Monthly Archives: September 2003

Learn Something

How would you like an MIT education? What if I told you it’s free?

MIT has a new program called Open Course Ware. At this site you can find free information on 500 different courses. This includes a syllabus, lecture notes, problem sets, and even the textbook in some cases.

Keep in mind that you won’t get a degree from this, but some of us like to learn things just to better ourselves.

Flag Waving

I hesitate to even mention this here, but there’s such a fuss being made about it right now it’s unavoidable. The Paris High School band put on a show Friday night called “Visions of World War II”. During the show, songs were performed representing all of the countries involved in the war. While these songs were being played, flags representing each country were displayed on the field — including a nazi flag.

Unfortunately, last Friday was Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, and some people found this insulting. So far, we’ve been mentioned in just about every newspaper in the country as well as on MSNBC and CBS News.

It’s really sad that people are getting so upset by this. The whole point of the performance was to be patriotic and to honor the veterans of the war. All of the countries from the war were represented as a sort of history lesson. Out of the 7 minute show, the nazi flag was only shown for a total of 14 seconds. The show ended with a collection of patriotic American songs and the flying of the U.S. flag.

Of course when the media got a hold of it, the entire point of the show was lost and we ended up with headlines like this – Texas band performs with Nazi flag on Jewish new year. This has obviously led to a lot of misinformed people calling the office today. One man even demanded that our “nazi band director” be fired.

Oh well. Luckily, Americans as a society probably have the shortest attention spans in the world. Most people wake up in a whole new world every day. I’m sure that tomorrow everyone will find something else to scream about and Paris High School’s 15 minutes of fame will be over…

Community

The other day when I was talking about the IBM Linux commercial I mentioned the community aspects of open source software. To me, that’s the best part. The idea that everyone helps each other create something great.

Here’s a good example of that: A few weeks ago I was downloading a new theme for GNOME. It’s called MetaXP and it makes the desktop on your Linux computer look just like Windows XP. After installing it, I noticed that the restore button was a little strange, so I opened up the file and fixed it.

I then e-mailed my fix off to the original author of the theme in case he was interested. He e-mailed me back a nice thank you and said he would give me credit for the fix. Keep in mind this was not a huge job, maybe five minutes of work just correcting a few lines. Today, the updated version was released and my name was mentioned. You can see a screenshot of it here.

Time flies

Well, it’s almost here. In a little over 2 months I’ll be graduating.

I passed my Intro Sociology CLEP test on Monday with a score of 74 (out of 80). That means I have all the hours I need to graduate in December. I turned in my graduation application on Wednesday and paid my $20. I guess that means it’s official. It’s strange though, it hasn’t really soaked in that I won’t be taking classes in the spring. Luckily, I have plenty of other things to occupy my free time.

I’m in charge of the PHS Robotics Club now. We’re competing in the BEST Robotics competition which will be a lot of fun. The only bad part is the meetings are every day after school until 6pm. So most days I don’t get home until about 6:30pm, except for Wednesday when it’s more like 9:00pm.

The reason I’m out so late on Wednesday’s is because that’s when we have the meetings for our CSCI 440 Project Development Class. Basically, we’ve started a software company called and we’re developing a system for school nurses to use to keep track of student health information. Unfortunately, the instructor decided that the scope of our project was too small, so now it’s grown into a monster that no school nurse would ever want to use. Oh well, as long as I get a grade I’m happy.

New Linux Ad

It’s not very often that I watch football on TV, but I spent a lot of time watching it yesterday. I even watched a little tennis. I was trying to catch IBM’s new ad featuring Linux. Unfortunately, I always seemed to miss it.

Linux is hardly ever mentioned on TV, even though it seems to be taking over the world of computers. I guess it’s true that the revolution will not be televised. Anyway, I found out this morning that you can download the ad from IBM, and they have a transcript available. The best line from the ad is:

Collecting data is only the first step toward wisdom. But sharing data is the first step toward community.

Not many people understand Linux, but whoever wrote that line really gets it.