The End of a Year of Open Source

An open letter to supporters, friends, and passersby, one year after starting my project:

CC-BY Bayasaa (http://www.flickr.com/photos/bayasaa/2693171833/)
CC-BY Bayasaa (http://www.flickr.com/photos/bayasaa/2693171833/)

 

 

Today is the end of the Year of Open Source. A year of research, challenges, fascinating conversations, and much trial and error. My adventure took me in so many new directions, learning new skills, meeting new people… it will have a lasting effect on me and my work, and hopefully other people will also be able to learn from my experience.

It was only through the help of others that it was possible to take on this project in the first place – the crowdfunding support provided materials, parts, and most importantly took some of the pressure off chasing rent, enabling me to dedicate as much time as possible to the project. Throughout the year I’ve also benefited greatly from technical help, suggestions, introductions, and the time and patience of many highly talented people.

My original ideas about the project had been focused on copyright and technical issues, but my approach evolved as I learned new information, and found ways to improve my methods. Within the first month I came to the conclusion that living without all-rights-reserved copyright and patents was a much less interesting approach than I expected – you could avoid most patents or copyright simply by not buying new products or media, but you wouldn’t have said anything interesting about open source hardware or free culture. Very quickly my approach became focused not on what I may be ‘missing out on’ but rather on the positives and peculiarities of the open source approach – how and why people build on others’ ideas – why businesses would choose to share their designs and secrets with ‘the competition’.

The most exciting aspect has certainly been meeting hundreds of people from different communities and backgrounds, who are all contributing to the commons, fostering collaboration and allowing others to build on their work. Here in Berlin I’ve discovered rich networks of hackers, artists, activists, and makers – at the new Fab Lab, at OpenTechSchool, through newthinking. In conferences and events like OuiShare Fest and the Open Knowledge Festival I found inspiration and like-minded people in the international community.

Over the course of the year I researched many more subjects than I have been able to document so far– and many projects are still unfinished. My programmable camera slider is still a scattered pile of electronics and 3D printed parts, and my parametric underwear design needs its code tidied up and the video properly edited (the boxer shorts themselves are very comfortable indeed).

I had intended to catch everything on camera. However, working as a one-man camera team and trying to simultaneously film myself proved rather tricky, sometimes affecting the quality and speed of production – it’s not something I would do again or suggest to others! It took a couple of months to adapt to free software video editing, but I’ve now settled into a good routine with Kdenlive, and I’m trying to help improve the software with feedback as well as bringing in more users through workshops. I have no need or desire to go back to a proprietary workflow, and will be continuing with free software and libre licenses, as well as investigating other areas within film and video where open source collaboration techniques could work.

Some experiences didn’t work out so wonderfully – the OpenPhoenux open hardware phone became a black hole of time as I grappled with bootloaders and operating systems, trawled email lists and forums for experimental solutions before discovering a hardware fault which made it unusable. It’s an interesting developer’s tool with a great team behind it, but is not yet ready for a larger audience. I will not be continuing with this device and instead, come October/November, will be running free software on the FairPhone – an ethically and sustainably motivated, hackable smartphone with long-term support, choice of operating systems, and the fairest possible supply chain. It’s a very, very exciting initiative.

Although the year has finished, this process will continue. There are a number of complex and abstract ideas (mobile and mesh networks, open source electricity etc) which I have researched in-depth but haven’t had time to present as projects or interviews yet, so I will try to fit them in in the coming months.

Next up, though, is completing and publishing the in-progress projects, and then pulling the experience of the whole year into a video and a written piece. In the meantime, for some more preliminary results from the year, you can read an article I wrote for CNN about the experience, or watch a presentation (bad audio, unfortunately) that I gave last month at the Open Design/Shared Creativity conference in Barcelona.

In my day-to-day life I’ll continue making videos for and about people and organisations within the maker and open knowledge movements. I’ll be doing more development in open hardware and systems, specifically for video production – scratching my own itches in a field where there’s plenty of opportunity for open practices. Soon I’ll hopefully be collaborating on an open hardware documentary, and in the mid-to-long term there’s a fiction project brewing, which deals with some of the themes I’ve been working on this year.

But first, tonight, after a year away from the movies, I’m going to an old Woody Allen film at the open air cinema.

 

Extra thanks go out to the many people who offered support, collaboration and advice over the year – this is by no means an exhaustive list: Fabienne Serriere, Swantje Wendt, Bram de Vries, Morris Winkler, Wolf Jeschonnek, Zoe Romano, Juergen Neumann, Michelle Thorne, Jay Cousins, Massimo Menichinelli, Martin Keane, Alastair Parvin, Claudia Brückner, Andreas Gebhard, Chris Covington, Benjamin Kampmann, Neal Gorenflo, Beatrice Martini, Uwe Lübberman, Adam Hyde, and so many other supporters, well-wishers and friends. Most of all, thanks to my partner Judith Carnaby, for supporting, illustrating, proof-reading, master-planning, carefully criticising, motivating,and generally putting up with this experiment for a whole year.

 

My Year of Open Source (CNN)

This article was originally published on CNN.com and is here published under my usual CC-BY-SA licence.

 

(CNN) — It started a few years ago, as I was spiraling down one of Wikipedia’s endless information rabbit holes.

I already had as many trains of thought as I had tabs open, and yet, somewhere between the fall of the Roman Empire and the chemical properties of copper, another little thought managed to burrow a space for itself: I started to consider the process by which all this information had been amassed, ordered, published and argued over — the massive collaborative effort shared amongst so many contributors, and the exponential benefit such a resource provided.

Sam Muirhead wearing his open-source woolly hat.

Sam Muirhead wearing his open-source woolly hat.

Over time that initial little moment of wonder grew into a fascination with the culture around shared information – code and designs that can be studied, modified, and redistributed by anyone, for any purpose.

But no matter how many documentaries I watched, books I read, and blogs I followed, I remained a spectator. The conversation about remix culture and self-replicating machines was between hackers, engineers and Harvard professors, and I didn’t feel I could contribute. I made music videos, not circuit boards.

Before this year I had never used a 3D printer, never written a line of code, and about the only thing I could make myself was an omelette. But in this inexperience I saw an opportunity to share the story and the struggles of a complete beginner, trying everything for the first time.

Since August 1 2012 I’ve been living a “Year of Open Source,” exploring how the systems and culture of free and open-source software work in other areas.

For a year, I’m using or developing products and projects that are shared under open licenses, made to be copied or built upon by others — which also means not buying any traditionally copyrighted or patented products. I’ve been applying this concept to as many areas of my life as possible and documenting the results in blogs and videos.

 

Some lifestyle changes have been welcome — swapping Mac software for Linux was much easier than I expected, and I’m never going back. “Researching” open source beer is also a pleasuree.

People often ask me what I miss. Without any hesitation, it’s cinema! Open-source, remix-friendly films aren’t too common. I haven’t been to the movies in 10 months and it takes just the faintest murmur from the nearby open air cinema before I find myself anxiously wiping phantom popcorn grease from my fingers.

Similarly, avoiding “all rights reserved” music has left me with a hollowed-out collection: some dusty public domain blues, and a sparse selection of new music under certain Creative Commons licenses. If you were to compare my music library before, and my music library now, you could never claim it was an improvement.

But this project is not about what I’m missing out on. The value of my new music is that it’s truly mine to use however I like.

When you’re expressly given permission to use something, it starts a creative process. I use open-source photos, video and music freely in the videos I make, promoting the original artists while allowing my work to be remixed and reused by others in the same way. Using the commons means I never have to start from zero. I’m currently creating an open educational curriculum for teaching video editing, but I can use existing ideas, resources and examples as a framework.

My DIY skills have come a long way — making scarves, wine, soap and toothpaste, though it seems like whittling sticks when compared to the possibilities of open hardware and digital manufacturing.

The online sharing of 3D files allows people around the world to collaborate and create intricate physical objects using laser cutters, 3D printers and CNC mills. It’s not as easy as clicking “print” but I’ve been able to develop projects that would be impossible using traditional techniques.

Thanks to the help from Fabienne Serriere and her hacked knitting machine I was able to survive the Berlin winter with an open source woolly hat. Its pattern draws on public-domain snowflake images, and a knitted QR code leads to the hat’s source files.

Although 3D-printed underwear is a long way off (plastic chain mail, anyone?) I thought computers could still take some of the difficulty out of making your own clothes. People don’t all fit neatly into small, medium and large, and patterns should reflect that. At my local co-sewing space I met a talented tailor and designer who helped me make a parametric underwear pattern — you type in your waist measurement, and the pattern adjusts its shape to fit.

This community is growing fast. Berlin’s first Fab Lab is just starting to plug in the 3D printers and warm up the soldering irons, already attracting a diverse collection of people who are exploring digital manufacturing for the first time.

With each step there are technical challenges, and other difficulties along the way — a lack of budget, as well as the time spent researching and organizing collaborations. Progress is slow. I haven’t yet tackled big issues like an open-source approach to electricity, internet service or land access, and I’m running out of time.

On August 1 2013, the restrictions will stop and, yes, I’m heading straight to the movies. But now, I need no impetus to look for open-source solutions wherever possible — it’s automatic. The year might be ending, but this process is not.

The main lesson I’ve learned is that if you want to make things yourself, if you want to help others, or express yourself creatively, you don’t need any special skills or background to get started. There is an ever-growing wealth of information, tools and designs in the commons, which you already have permission to use. Share and share alike.

 

There’s plenty of interesting discussion in the comments on the original article!

Wer will Open Source Unterhosen mitnähen?

 

Wer will Open Source Unterhosen mitnähen?
Ich habe mit Swantje Wendt von Nadelwald einen Parametrischen Boxershort Schnitt entwurfen – wir möchten den am Montag 11. Marz testen, also machen wir einen kleinen Mini-Workshop bei Nadelwald. (irgendwann am Tag, wahrscheinlich gegen 11 Uhr oder so, es wird einige Stunden dauern…)
Ich und ein Freund von mir sind dabei, und es gibt Platz für noch 2 andere Männer –  keine Sorge, ich habe auch keine Näherfahrung, Swantje bringt uns mit viel Geduld bei!
Den Workshop wird gefilmt, kostenlos, und auf Deutsch. Also wer Lust hat, nähen zu lernen und sein eigene Open Source Unterhosen zu machen, kann mir einfach eine email schicken, sam at namemeinerwebseite. Aber beeil sich!

http://www.nadelwald.me

TG;DR (Too German, Didn’t Read): there’s a workshop happening next week but there’s only two spare places and it’s auf Deutsch, sorry! the video will have subtitles though…

A GitHub for physical things: Knowable

[Video] Simon and Emanuel from Knowable talk about documenting DIY & open hardware projects

Claudia and Anna-Lena from newthinking are helping me get to know the Berlin scene of open source, makers, and hackers, and last week they got me in touch with Simon Höher and Emanuel Schwarz from Knowable.org, a new website which aims to facilitate documentation of projects, teaching new skills, providing space for feedback and catalysing collaboration. I went down to my local maker/hackerspace, Open Design City to chat to them:

Have a play on knowable.org, and you can also find out more about Jerry, the DIY open source server.

The beta schedule for the SUMMIT OF NEWTHINKING is online now, there’s only a couple more weeks to go, already there’s plenty to get excited about. This week I’ve been to visit Fabienne and her textile workshop, there’ll be a video soon – if you’re in Berlin on the 15th & 16th, check out her talk on open hardware!

Others I’m looking forward to are RepRap legend Josef Prusa‘s talk on 3d printing and decentralized development, and Phillip Marr’s look at open energy data approaches, “How much energy is needed to toast a slice of bread?” Keep an eye on the schedule, there’s more to come!

My music library desperately needs updating…

Got any favourite long-dead bluesmen, or Creative Commons music?

There are so many enjoyable things about trying to live without patents and traditional copyright – learning about developments in open hardware, open education, learning to make things myself or meeting people doing crazy projects. And I’m happy to give up most of the consumerist/proprietary lifestyle. I wasn’t much of a serious shopper anyway… most of my money went on camera equipment. With some changes, I’ll never look back – I was never a Mac fanboy – I chose Apple not because I particularly liked it, but rather because I particularly disliked Windows, and Final Cut Pro was an Apple product. In 2008, when I bought this computer, I hadn’t even considered Linux.

But when I backed up my computer for the change of operating system, I had to bid a sad farewell to my music library. I transferred all of my music files to a hard drive, not to be touched for a year. I started with a fresh music library. My music this year will only be  music in the public domain (without copyright) or released with a Creative Commons (some rights reserved) license. Everything else, the vast majority of my collection, was under ‘All Rights Reserved’ copyright, so it had to go.

I dug through my collection to haul out any public domain / CC music that I could find… the only music there that I knew was Creative Commons licensed are two artists from Wellington, New Zealand: the sublime Urbantramper and the gloriously ridiculous Disasteradio. There may have been others I missed, but there’s no handy ‘copyright status’ metadata for ordering and searching music, so I wasn’t able to find out easily.

You probably have a good idea of what kind of music is public domain: Old music. No problem, I like old music! I listen to a lot of old Piedmont blues and spirituals from the 20s, so I thought I’d be able to keep them. In order to find out which music is public domain, I first had to find out the length of a copyright term in Germany. Here, and throughout the EU, music copyright lasts for 70 years after the death of the author*. So a composition like ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’, (even if you don’t know the name, you definitely know the tune) written by Richard Strauss in 1893, is not able to be used without a license because the inconsiderate bastard didn’t get around to dying until 1949.

The artist has to have died before 1942 for me to include their music in my collection. So my research was a perverse Wikipedia exercise in which I would whoop for joy upon discovering that a favourite blues artist was stabbed in a bar brawl aged 24, or died a syphilitic, penniless death in 1937.

It was a huge relief to find that Robert Johnson was deliberately poisoned in 1938. Blind Lemon Jefferson froze to death in 1929, thank buggery! Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James and Son House, unfortunately for me (but very fortunately for the rest of the world) survived long enough to be rediscovered and have a revival in the ’60s. Aliens outside of our solar system are able to listen to Blind Willie Johnson, but he died in 1945, so I’m out of luck.

Bessie Smith is OK! (car crash, 1937)

Not everything public domain is old, however – many governments, including the United States, release works, documents, files and information as public domain or the Creative Commons equivalent (Creative Commons Zero). So I still get confused. Can anybody clarify what the copyright status of, say, Alan Lomax‘s Library of Congress recordings might be? Are the recordings public domain, but not the compositions?

I can listen, share, and use public domain compositions and recordings in any video I like. But the other Creative Commons licenses are more specific – they’re designed to allow a copyright holder to specify what use he or she explicitly permits, and I’ll be buying, downloading and listening to music with Creative Commons licenses this year. Things get tricky when I want to include a track in a video and post it online, as I am creating a derivative work and redistributing it. So I need to check which license the music track uses (more info on licenses at creativecommons.org):

Attribution (CC-BY): I can listen, share, and use the track in any video I like – as long as I attribute the copyright holder in whatever derivative work I make.

Attribution-Sharealike (CC-BY-SA): Same terms as above, but I have to release derivative works under the same license. My videos are all CC-BY-SA anyway, so that’s no problem for me!

I can’t use music under the following non-free licenses in my videos:

Attribution-Non Commercial (CC-BY-NC): I can listen, and share with friends, but I can’t use it in my videos unless they are also released under a Non Commercial license or standard All Rights Reserved copyright.

 Attribution-Non Commercial – Sharealike (CC-BY-NC-SA): (eg. Urbantramper’s music) I can listen, share with friends, but I can’t use it in my videos unless I attribute the copyright holder, and release the video under the same license.  I could not release a video including CC-BY-NC-SA music as CC-BY-SA (the license I use) or any other free license, or even as all rights reserved.

Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND): (eg. Disasteradio) I can listen, share, but I can’t use the track in a video – it would constitute a derivative work of the original song.

So now I find myself in the strange position of starting to discover music again from scratch, but unlike when I was 13 and first started buying CDs, this time I’m discovering new music with years of experiences, prejudices and opinions already burned-in. You meet a lot of people who, when asked what music they like, you get: “Oh, I like all music. You know, anything with a beat, man.

Not me. I’m the first to admit that I don’t like most music. I actively dislike the majority of music. I tolerate a minority. Even within the genres I do like, there’s plenty of crap. But there’s 0.000756% of the music out there in the world which I utterly adore, obsess over, and listen to over and over again – frantic, clattering, rolling, beating music – songs that slip unexpected thoughts and ideas into your brain, squeeze humour into darkened places, whether thrown-out half-ideas or epic, complex, opuses (opi? opese?). I love musicians whose self-expression, individuality, honesty, and creativity smash the lens of production value, style and technical prowess with which so much music is viewed.

It’s tough finding exciting new music when you’re a whiny old critic. So I need a little help…

I often like:

Post Punk – Krautrock – Soul (particularly NOLA/Memphis) – ‘folktronica’ – Pre-War Blues / Gospel – Indie – Surf – Afrobeat – Rocksteady – Funk (but easy on the slap bass there, fellas) – Rockabilly – Bluegrass – Jazz/Bebop/Hard Bop – Political hip hop – Garage – Alt Country.

I sometimes like:

Punk – Reggae – Electric Blues – Classical – Folk

I don’t like:

Grunge – Metal – R’n’B – Dub – Western – Trance – Reggaeton – Techno – DnB – House – Dubstep – Lounge – anything preceded by the words ‘Smooth,’ ‘Heavy’, ‘Deep’ or ‘Euro’.

Some music I love, and already miss dearly:

Nick CaveThe CleanFour TetHans UnsternNina SimoneTom Waits  – Jonathan RichmanCharlie Mingus  – The Velvet UndergroundSkip JamesBaby Huey & the BabysittersKing KhanChromaticsOrchestre Poly-Rythmo de CotonouVioleta ParraEddie BoMoondogNeu!Phosphorescent

So that should give you an idea. It’s time to refill my music library! Do you make music and release it under a CC license? Or do you know of other musicians who do? If you think I might like it, send me a link in the comments! Actually, even if you think I won’t like it, I’m just curious about what’s out there. As I mentioned, my mind may not be totally open, but in this situation I’ll leave it slightly ajar, ok?

While on the subject of Creative Commons music, how about you check out the video I made about the Cultural Commons Collecting Society?

Good places to start looking for libre music, if you’re interested, include:

adiffuser

CCmixter

Free Music Archive

Jamendo

opsounds

Soundcloud

I’ve had a few suggestions already via Creative Commons on facebook:
50ft Wave (http://50footwave.cashmusic.org/power+light/)
Bomb Boy (http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Bomb_Boy/FM_FUNK_MADDNESS/06_Ignition_Set_GO)
Daniel Bautista (http://www.danielbautista.com/discography.php)
Roger Subirana (http://www.rogersubirana.com/point.htm)
Father Figure Records (http://fatherfigurerecords.bandcamp.com/album/mermonte)
Samuel Lockridge (http://samuellockridge.bandcamp.com/album/when-i-rise)
Town Hall (http://townhall.bandcamp.com/album/roots-bells)

*¡CUIDADO! in many countries, copyright terms are even longer than in the EU. In Mexico, as Carlos points out in the comments, copyright lasts for 100 years. It’s best to look into your own country’s term length, and also check if your country conforms to the rule of the shorter term.

I’m in Helsinki… help me get home?

I’m in Helsinki for the Open Knowledge Festival, 4 days covering an incredible selection of 13 different ‘Open’ themes, from government to education to hardware and business, where I’ll be meeting and learning from people involved in some of the most forward thinking developments, hacks and projects from all over the world. I’m filming interviews and I’ll be writing a few posts too, so watch this space!

One of the situations which I knew was going to be a problem over this year was transport – and travelling to Finland presents a particularly difficult target.

To get to Helsinki from Berlin, you can either

A. fly direct

B. fly to Tallinn, Estonia, and catch a ferry

C. drive/train 6 hours to Rostock, north Germany and catch the ferry, (2 days) to Helsinki.

D. drive/train 2 days through Poland, a Russian enclave, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia again, and finally Finland. Drive fast and drink lots of coffee, you could be there in 25 hours. Or, more likely, you could be in a smouldering wreckage somewhere in Latvia.

According to my way of thinking, the best way to travel in an ‘open source’ manner right now is through a ride-sharing website. In Germany the popular site is the beautifully named mitfahrgelegenheit.de (with-drive-opportunity.de) where anyone can post their planned journey, state how many seats are available in the car, how much people have to pay to ride along, and leave a phone number for others to call. Regardless of whether the actual software on the website is open source or not, the system facilitates peer-to-peer interaction and efficient sharing. The driver gets a little cash to pay for petrol, and the passengers get a cheap direct trip without having to change trains or anything complicated. It’s also possible to use ride-sharing websites to organise sharing a group ticket (up to 5 people) on a train.

Ride-sharing works extremely well within Germany, and you can also get over the border sometimes, but the problem with travelling to Helsinki is that to cross so many countries, I’d have to get extremely lucky with tidy changeovers between rides in each country, i.e. arrive in Poznan, Poland at 4pm, and have already organised a ride on a Polish website going from Poznan to Kaliningrad, Russia at 5pm. A more likely situation would be arriving somewhere in the afternoon, staying overnight and continuing the next morning. Meaning a trip all around the Baltic sea could take up to a week.

I’m still doing some paid video jobs to pay the rent where they fit in well with my project (like this) so this means I do have commitments back in Berlin and I don’t have a week free to ride-share my way across the continent. I spent hours researching possible connections or the likelihood of ‘boat-ride-sharing’ or anything like that, put out the call for people keen to share a group train ticket, and met all sorts of dead-ends with ride-sharing. So the choice for me was either a) don’t go to the Open Knowledge Festival or b) take a flight.

I decided for the festival, and in the end my journey to Helsinki involved a 4-hour ride-share from Berlin to Bremen (€20), a 3-hour flight to Tallinn, Estonia (€26) and a 1.5 hr ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki (€27).

Our ride-share to Bremen in a smooth, spacious 9-seater van. Easy!

But now I’m in the best possible place to find out where open source travel is right now, and where it’s going. It’s the start of 4 days worth of incredible presentations, workshops and events covering exactly the issues I’m trying to cover with this project, and I’ve just come out of a presentation on Open Transport, brimming with ideas. Updates coming soon!

In the meantime, if anybody can suggest a way to get back from Helsinki to Berlin via more open, sharing methods, I’m all ears!

There’s always the option to pedal back on one of these

Check out this visualisation of ride-sharing via Mitfahrgelegenheit over 5 days:

Ridesharing Network Visualization from Ubilabs on Vimeo.

 

On a general project-running note, I’ve been struggling a bit to get videos cut and online quickly, and provide regular blog posts, although most of the issues with learning new software is mostly behind me, so hopefully some of the back log of unedited stories will be appearing shortly! Judith is now taking on a bit more of a project manager role to help me schedule better and ensure that I’m communicating, blogging and tweeting (@YrOfOpenSource) so that you know what’s going on, and hopefully so that you can help me solve problems when they come up as well.

Ways you can help!

This is an independent documentary project in support of free / libre / open culture, with no crew and few resources – I ran an initial crowdfunding campaign in July to get things going, and we were able to raise almost €5000, but if you’ve just heard about the project and would like to help out, the best way is to donate via the links in the sidebar (flattr, paypal and BitCoin- open source money!). There are Open Source Swimsuit Calendars on offer as a thank you as well.  I’ve quit my part-time job to focus on this, but I’m only just scraping by!

If you like the idea of the project and would like to help out, there is all sorts of non-financial help that I need:

If you know of interesting relevant events happening within Europe throughout the duration of the project (until August 2013), please let me know. If you’re interested in collaborating on a project, I’d be keen to hear from you as well.

I don’t have the resources to be able to buy an open source computer or camera, or even to buy the parts and put them together. If anyone can sponsor me with an open source product, or if you know anybody developing an interesting open source hardware project who might need some publicity, I would love to be able to at least borrow a test version to play with and discuss, even if only for a month or two.

For the film at the end of the project I’ll be looking for people to help out with translation, animation, and all aspects of video production.

If you’re based in Berlin, there are plenty of ways you can help. If you:

a) have some experience shooting with Canon DSLRs, or would like to learn

b) have some editing experience or would like to learn, and are keen to join me in getting to grips with open source NLEs

c) are good at organizing and planning, and could help me make a timeline and organise some projects, visits and interviews to help me tackle this huge task (Native speakers of German would also be very helpful).

There are plenty of other ways people might be able to help, just send me an email if you think of something you can offer. The more skilled people who can help in any way, the better this project can be. If someone you know might be able to help me out, tell them to get in touch. I want it to be as far-reaching, entertaining and thought-provoking as possible, and I can only do so with your help. Thank you very much for all the suggestions so far, I’m working on turning this blog into a navigable, functional website, so keep checking back!

While we’re celebrating epic triumphs and awesome robots…

I (finally) got Linux installed, and here’s Limor Fried (aka Ladyada) as the Metropolis robot!

Limor Fried aka Ladyada drawn by Judith Carnaby for the 2013 Open Source Calendar (Swimsuit Edition)

Limor Fried is the owner and generally awesome electrical engineer behind Adafruit Industries where you can get all sorts of amazing DIY open source electronics kits for learning, playing and experimenting. Or you can get severe soldering burns if you’re anything like me.

Limor and all the other bespeedoed studs are still available for the next (hang on, just checking)… 58 hours, as I write this!

Anyone who contributes more than $25 gets a digital download of the calendar, and anyone who contributes $60 or more gets a real one! in real life! We’re almost at $6K, which is getting closer to being able to occasionally have a camera operator – so please let everyone know about the campaign on twitter, facebook, walk down the street yelling in your dressing gown, whatever you need to do. Or you could consider contributing yourself, perhaps? (this is not an all-or-nothing campaign like Kickstarter – the project still gets its funds if it doesn’t reach the goal)
In other news, though, what would have been one small step for most tech-savvy types (installing the simplest, most user-friendly distribution of Linux) proved to be one giant leap for me this week. I’ve lived two years with a broken CD/DVD drive on my MacBook Pro and never once needed it. It sure would have come in handy this week though.

As it turns out, Macs don’t like you fiddling around switching operating systems, they’d prefer you just use Mac OS, thanks. But if you must, then you’d better damn well use a CD to boot and install another system. So what I assumed was going to be one of the least painful switches of the year actually resulted in an awful lot of of swearing, fist-shaking and forum-combing, and every type of dead end imaginable.

Only after using 5 different techniques with 7 different disk images over a 5-day timespan, and having many a terse cup of tea, was I finally able to boot Ubuntu from a USB. No small thanks to my friend Martin who stood by and told me which keys to jab, even patiently explaining what some of the commands I was typing meant. Martin claims it was using the right choice of alternate .iso which solved it in the end. I want to trust him, but I can’t deny that sacrificing 3 goats, 6 virgins and a chicken felt pretty good too.

So, bye bye Apple, as far as software goes, at least. Final Cut Pro has been deleted, so the next video might be another few days away – got to find me some open source editing software first. I’m going to try OpenShot, Cinelerra and Novacut. any other suggestions?

I’ll fill you in on a little more of my progress very soon, in the mean time have a look around Shareable.net – I’m doing a regular blog post there about this project, so keep an eye out!