Posts tagged: open source

(Sweet) Chili

Who doesn’t like chili? Perhaps vegetarians, but that doesn’t matter. Cook this. It takes less than an hour to throw it all in a pot. The hardest part is not eating it when it starts smelling delicious.


1 package of ground beef
6 chipotle (or other spicy) sausage
1 bulb of garlic
1 medium sized white onion
2 tablespoons (at least) of chili powder for a mild sensation
1 can of red kidney beans
2 cans of beans in molasses
2 680mL cans of tomato sauce
4 heaping tablespoons of brown sugar (optional)


  1. Eat some breakfast or lunch. Whichever is closer.
  2. Heat pot to medium heat. Cook a package of ground beef. I used extra lean.
  3. Cut up 6 spicy sausages. Add when beef is cooked.
  4. From one bulb of garlic, remove skins of all cloves. Leave whole. Add when all inedible bits are removed.
  5. Peel and slice one medium sized white onion. Add to the pot. And stir while you’ve been adding stuff.
  6. Add 2 tablespoons (the big one) of hot chili powder.
  7. Cover and reduce the heat to low (2 on a scale of 10). Let sit a few minutes.
  8. While the pot is sitting, strain and rinse 1 can of red kidney beans. Add.
  9. Add 2 cans of beans with molasses.
  10. Add 2 cans of tomato sauce.
  11. Let sit a few minutes and then taste it. Add more chili powder as required.
  12. If it fits, you can add more of your favorite ingredient now.
  13. Optional: Add 4 heaping tablespoons of brown sugar.
  14. Let it cook at low heat until you’re hungry again.

I’m hungry again writing down these instructions.

Open Sourcery

Recently I came across a gem of a site on the interwebs. I found 1889ca (Is it just called 1889? Maybe 1889 books?). It’s the home of some great stories, very much in the same light as Cory Doctorow’s works. But there’s a twist. These are children’s books. Not all of them (keep the little ones away from the Steam Duck series), but the majority are aimed at the “sub teenager” age range.

Recently, and much to my surprise, MCM, the man behind the site, launched an open source project: TorrentBoy. I felt like this was something I had to take part in. Who wouldn’t love to help drive the evolution of a wise-cracking boy who turns into a super-hero by tapping into the latent power that engulfs all of Earth’s inhabitants? I know I would!

So when MCM asked for the Twitter-Public’s opinion on which CMS (Content Management System) we’d recommend, preferably one built like a wiki, I just had to suggest the use of PmWiki. I like PmWiki. The documentation accompanying it is great. And, Lo! Check out the TorrentBoy site now! I wasn’t expecting to be able to contribute the way that I had, but I did.

So I’m not sure if this is a public awareness call for bored geeks out there who wish to contribute to an open source project (much like TorrentBoy, or any other project). If you want to help contribute to a project, you can. You’re not about to get your head torn off like you might if you play QuakeLive (people who play Quake can be scary mean!).

Why Linux?

I use Ubuntu as my flavor of Linux. I started with Red Hat 5 and quickly moved along to Ubuntu Hoary Hedgehog (v5.04). I’d been, up to that point, strictly a Windows user. So why Linux?

For one, the professor I was working for at the time had as little to do with Microsoft products as she possibly could. She required me to use the Red Hat that she provided. After becoming victim to a rootkit (I knew little about keeping Red Hat up-to-date) we switched to Ubuntu and I’ve loved every minute of it. For the record, I dabbled a little in OpenSuse but I felt it never had the ease of use or the community that Ubuntu did.

If you’re reading this, I presume you are a student. As a student you’re supposed to stereotypically be short on cash. I know, you’ve probably never bought Windows or Office in your life. If you own a computer, you’re probably wrong. The laptop you bought, if it wasn’t already running Mac or Linux, was shipped with Windows pre-installed. The high price you paid? That went toward the Microsoft licenses so you could use Windows on the laptop.

Linux is free. It’s free in more ways than one. Not only are you free to use the software without paying a cent but the philosophy behind the operating system is that the source code is free, too. It’s not hidden behind layers of obscurity but instead the stuff that makes the program work is made available for you, as a student, to learn from. You can see what another developer did to make the software do what it’s doing. It’s no wonder colleges and universities teach computer science on the Gnu/Linux platform in the first place.

Being a computer science student this operating system is tailor made for you. I didn’t think so when I first started the degree. I was all Windows and anything I could do on the Unix terminals in the computer science lab there was the same thing I could do on Windows. I was misguided.

While it’s possible to perform the same actions on either platform, the Linux side promotes the sharing of knowledge. There is a global community of people (LinuxQuestions, UbuntuForums, etc) so help is always close at hand. Monthly meetings are held close by in the form of Linux Users Groups. And when something works, it most often just works (without that blue screen of death).

If you’re concerned about games, in the very least dual boot a WinXP/*nix PC. Wine is getting better (and in fact version 1 is coming soon). Wine is a virtual machine that allows programs compiled for Windows to run within Linux. Best of all, there is a growing market of commercial (and free) PC games for Linux as well (Frictional Games, iD Software, BioWare, Introversion, and the new Penny Arcade game…)

Linux is everywhere, right under your nose. It can be found on cell phones, mp3 players. I even have a version of uClinux running on my Nintendo DS. So isn’t it about time you give it a try? The only thing you should be afraid of is really enjoying the experience. It’ll suck away your free time because you won’t want to leave.

20,000 Light Years Into Space

I understand I’ve started this site at the worst time possible to be of any use to computer science students. Colleges and universities are out for summer in North America.

Regardless, I’d like to suggest an excellent little distraction that can be taken advantage of free of charge. It is called 20,000 Light Years Into Space and it makes for an easy hour of time well wasted. (And it’s open source).

The game is available for both Windows and Linux. I play it from my Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) box.

The game itself is a play on “supply and demand” in network flow that you’d encounter in an Algorithm Analysis/Design (3rd year) course. You tap a “steam vent” (a source) and then pipe it back to your base (a sink). All the while natural disasters and pesky aliens are threatening to disconnect your network of pipes.

Gameplay ranges from 5 minutes to half an hour which makes it an excellent distraction while not paying attention in class.

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