Weekly Rewind #89

Time for another Weekly Rewind. It’s a lovely sunny afternoon here in Liverpool and I’ve had an eventful time in the last week or so. There’s been music, writing and a ton of podcasting too. Linux Outlaws even took 1st place in a magazine podcast round up. Engage smug mode. So let’s talk about what’s going on in my little world.

Last time we spoke I believe it was Saturday June 18th, so I’ll begin with that. I spent a good deal of time testing out SIP solutions with Bradley for FLOSS Weekly. He was to set be a guest on the show and obviously doesn’t use Skype, which I understand. We got video working in pretty high quality and the the audio sounded great with the CELT codec at 48hkz. It’s built into Ekiga which I didn’t know. The network issues and negotiating NAT for SIP can be a pain but I think it’s worth it. The rest of that day was spent chilling out, it’s hard to remember. It was the weekend. On Sunday June 19th it was Father’s Day here in the UK and I rang my dad to have a good chat which was nice. Then later I met up with my friend Mr Adrian McEwen and we headed to the Walker Art Gallery to see a photography exhibition. I haven’t been to the Walker in ages and it’s right on my doorstep practically so I really should go more. They have some incredible paintings and sculptures there and it’s all free to walk around. I’m not a massive culture vulture really but I did study Art History for a while at University. It was a subsidiary module to my course, which oddly was Computer Science. You can’t get two more different subjects than that can you? We were supposed to choose our subsidiary from a big list of subjects but I arrived late and the only options left were Art History or Spanish. I opted for Art History and was glad I did in the end. I learnt not only about art but also the politics and social aspects of The Renaissance. I bored Adrian with all this as we mooched around. I highly recommend the photography exhibition by Trevor Paul. All photos of life in Toxteth and Everton in the late 70’s. It’s on till September I think and you have to see it if you’re in the area before then.

An external shot of The Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. Complete with pillars and grand frontage.
The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

In the evening I went to do some rocking with my band 20lb Sounds. Our new songs are really taking shape and I’ve very happy with them. I suppose it’s natural but the newest stuff you’ve created always feels like the best. You wonder if you’ve peaked and there’s no more songs left in you. Hopefully there’ll be plenty more to come yet though. I won’t list all the 20lb practices here as we do a lot, but there’s been another 3 or 4 since last time we spoke. I know I say this a lot but I hope to have more videos and recordings available for you to enjoy on our website soon. I let that slip in recent months. I must get back to updating it more regularly. I also edited a new Free As In Freedom when I got home and spent some time in Audacity, as I always seem to do these days. It was released the following Tuesday and there was some big news in that show. I was sworn to secrecy at the time but now it’s public. One of the FAIF hosts Karen Sandler has left the Software Freedom Law Center to take up a position as the Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation. Obviously I’m delighted for Karen as a friend but you know what, I’m even more pleased for the GNOME Foundation. They’re gaining an incredible person and I think Karen will do great things for them.

Let’s talk a bit about Linux Outlaws. On Monday June 20th we recorded and broadcast another show in which we talked about all the latest FOSS news. During the show however some people in our IRC channel told us we’d been voted number 1 podcast in the latest Linux Format magazine. It had only been released that day. I saw some pictures of the article and it looked great. They said really nice things about us and to be called “crowd favourites” is a great thrill. I’m not getting carried away or above myself I hope, but it’s a nice pat on the back. I still haven’t picked up a copy of the mag yet. Must do that. If only so I can ask loudly in the shop “Do you have Linux Format magazine? Oh yes that one with my face on it.”. Nah, don’t worry I would never do that. I’d look like a right idiot. So keeping on a Linux Outlaws tip, we recorded a long and quite philosophical discussion about Bitcoin on Friday. It’s a really complicated subject and one that a lot of people asked us to discuss. I finished editing that recording last night (Tuesday 28th) and it should be out soon. It’ll be episode 215 and if you want to know about Bitcoin I suggest you listen to that. It’s a long show but we really left no stone unturned in getting to the bottom of this topic. Fab did tons of research and it’s probably the most in depth show we’ve done. There was also another live show on Monday 27th June and at the time of writing that hasn’t been released yet. It should be out in a few days.

The letters PHP on an oval background
The PHP logo

Moving on, I talked recently about moving a lot of my websites to a new hosting provider. That’s largely gone well and I got to exercise my very limited Bash fu. Command line stuff basically. I did have some problems with WordPress and the White Screen Of Death though. This happens when there’s a PHP error and debugging is switched off, so you can’t get any details. Lots of admins do this for security to prevent hackers gaining crucial information about their set up. I trawled the logs and spent about 2 hours changing things, hacking the PHP and eventually fixing the problem. I have a couple of sites still to migrate and I hope to do that in the next week. Lots of people slag off PHP but as a language I don’t mind it. Sure it’s not fashionable and the syntax can seem weird but it does it’s job and it’s used everywhere for a reason. I had some discussion about this with friends on Identi.ca. I also found I had to disable the WP Super Cache to fix things. I’ve since moved to Quick Cache and I’m finding it a lot better. I might write about that separately in more detail for all you techy readers.

On Wednesday June 22nd I finally sat down to write my review of Ubuntu 11.04 and Unity. I banged out 4000 words in 2 hours and I could have written more but I stopped myself. It was a very long article anyway. If I’d written much more I would have gotten O’Reilly on the phone to talk about publishing rights hehe. It took a long time to edit that and also compile the 37 screenshots. I finally published it here on Saturday and it’s been pretty popular, hitting Distrowatch and some other popular Linux sites. I also joined Randal and Bradley for FLOSS Weekly later on Wednesday. We ended up using a phone connection which was disappointing after all our time testing alternatives but I don’t think TWIT are equipped for SIP. The show went well and we had a good discussion of licenses and the the many good things Bradley does. I’m obviously biased but I think in the area of GPL enforcement he has done massively important things. That was released as FLOSS Weekly 171 not long after.

Much of the rest of the week involved web server work, catching up with friends, making music and so on. I also broadcast another Rathole Radio on Sunday night and you can download that here.

I think that’s enough of that for now. Other things probably happened and slipped my mind, but you’re pretty much up to date. Let’s look to the future.


So it’s Wednesday afternoon as I write this and soon I will do another FLOSS Weekly, this time with Aaron. Our guest project is Mediafront and it looks very interesting. You can tune into that live via Twit.tv from 17:30 UK time. There’ll be more Linux Outlaws to come and another Free As In Freedom to edit at the weekend. Now that I’ve got the writing bug again I’ll also be moving to Fedora 15 and reviewing that. How will I fare with  Gnome 3? I’m not sure. I found Unity difficult and I don’t think this will be much easier. I’ll report back on all that in future.

Till then, you take care or yourselves and stay safe out there 🙂


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