Canadian Education

A forum for discussion of issues important to the future of education for Canadians.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Great article about why universities should be advancing free software for the benefit of the world, rather than enriching MS et al.

And heard about the new MS brainwashing campaign? :-) MS...the antithesis of freedom...

Here's a very short definition of the Four Freedoms...why aren't more schools teaching this?:

The first formal definition of free software was published by FSF in February 1986.[4] That definition, written by Richard Stallman, is still maintained today and states that software is free software if people who receive a copy of the software have the following four freedoms:

  • Freedom 0: The freedom to run the program for any purpose.
  • Freedom 1: The freedom to study and modify the program.
  • Freedom 2: The freedom to copy the program so you can help your neighbor.
  • Freedom 3: The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits.

Freedoms 1 and 3 require source code to be available because studying and modifying software without its source code is highly impractical.

Thus, free software means that computer users have the freedom to cooperate with whom they choose, and to control the software they use. To summarize this into a remark distinguishing libre (freedom) software from gratis (zero price) software, Richard Stallman said: "Free software is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of 'free' as in 'free speech', not as in 'free beer'".[5]

In the late 90s, other groups published their own definitions which describe an almost identical set of software. The most notable are Debian Free Software Guidelines published in 1997,[6] and the Open Source Definition, published in 1998.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A couple of education related articles about open source wikis, etc.

And in addition to China, France and the rest of Europe are all leaving Canada in the dust in terms of computer education. And here's an interesting prediction from the January issue of Yahoo Internet Life magazine...1998!!! any of this sound familiar to you? :-)...:

"Now Penn Jillette (Magician with Penn & Teller) had a really interesting prediction I thought, especially with all of the fuss going around about Privacy these days.

We will continue to be told that freedom is a bad idea. The Net will be blamed for more kiddie porn, terrorism, and loss of privacy. Those who remember that these things predate home computers (and maybe even pong) will get blue in the face trying to keep the future getting better."

Monday, August 25, 2008

Interesting, recent summary article about MS...:-) Or how about just good ol' financial fraud, courtesy of MS? And to really stay up to date about the appalling abuse of consumers, etc. by MS, one only need visit this site from time to time. :-)
And it appears that some people in Quebec are finally fed up with government corruption. We can only hope that this will spread to Ontario, etc. And why is Ontario lagging behind B.C.? Corrupt contracts with convicted monopolies, perhaps?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wonderful articles about using linux in music education, written by a music teacher, and an interesting article about the use of Open Textbooks! :-) And an article about using linux software for math and science at high school and university levels! :-) And the next time someone uses FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) to discourage linux education, consider that they are attempting to discourage you from LEARNING what these (a few examples...there are many, many more...) companies already know: ;-)

* Amerada Hess Corporation - Oil Exploration Supercomputing - Amerada Hess Corp is a $7.4 billion petroleum company, but the supercomputers traditionally used to analyze oil exploration data are rather costly even for a company of this size. No longer a problem. Amerada Hess now uses a large Linux cluster for the job. - Article -

* BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) - Light Rail Metropolitan Transit System - This system tracks the flow of electricity from the high voltage DC power lines of Pacific Gas and Electric to the distribution of electricity via the third rail. If an emergency required the evacuation of a train, this system would be used to turn off the electricity to ensure the safety of passengers as they exited the system. (Using linux)

* Boscov's Department Stores - special invoicing, server consolidation, Web site, etc. - Boscov's, America's largest family owned department store chain, has been steadily moving it's back office operations to Linux, and will probably eventually migrate POS (Point of Sale) systems as well. - Article -

* Burlington Coat Factory - Entire Systems - Burlington Coat Factory is a "Factory Outlet" retailer with 280 stores in 42 states. Initial Linux installations at their new distribution center and a few new stores proved highly successful, so roll-out to existing stores began. An order for 1,250 Dell computers preloaded with Linux was placed to support the effort.

The Linux systems are used to run warehousing and distribution, the gift registry and back office functions such as ordering and general desktop. The chosen office productivity suite is Applixware Office, which allows a very high degree of customization. - Article -

* Conoco - Oil Exploration Supercomputing - Conoco is one of several major petroleum companies that have chosen to use inexpensive Linux clusters instead of costly supercomputers to analyze oil exploration data. - Article -

* Cisco - Worldwide Printing System - Cisco, a $21 billion maker of routers that tie the Internet together, signed a major agreement with Microsoft regarding support for Active Directory. As part of that deal, Cisco management declared Cisco an "all Microsoft" company.

Unfortunately, Cisco's IT staff couldn't get network printing services to work right through NT servers (and you can't say Cisco engineers don't understand networking, now, can you?). Cisco's worldwide printing services now run on Linux.

* Digital Domain - Visual Effects Supercomputing - Digital Domain is a major visual effects studio. In particular, they did the visual effects for Appolo 13 and Titanic. The effects for Titanic were particularly demanding, too demanding for their SGI Inigos, and would have normally required a supercomputer costing millions. Digital Domain was able to do the job on an inexpensive Linux cluster instead. - Article -

* Ernie Ball Inc. - Entire Operation - Ernie Ball was one of those unfortunate companies turned over to the BSA (Business Software Aliance) by someone with a grudge. While few "infractions" . There's hardly a small business anywhere that has all the paperwork together for their software, and while few "infractions" were found, that was enough to be very costly. Ernie Ball decided this would never happen again and made a very successful migration to Linux. - Article -

* Garden Grove California, City of - major operations - The City of Garden Grove began moving operations to Linux in 1995 with central data systems running Samba and the Pick database. The initial deployment was so successful and saved so much money the city has been gradually moving other operations to Linux, including some desktop systems. - Article -

* Google - Search Engine - The wildly popular Google search engine simply would not be possible without a customized version of Linux fit exactly to its needs. - Article -

* Just Sports USA - A fast growing chain (now 50 stores) selling sports items - All Stores, Back Office functions, Inventory and eCommerce systems run on Linux. All functions are integrated together using a PostgreSQL database. The eCommerce system runs on Linux / Apache Web servers and is also integrated with the inventory database. Postgre and Apache are also Open Source products. - Article -

* Kaiser Aluminum - Manufacturing Control - Kaiser, one of the world's largest producer of aluminum, aluminum sheet and foil, has chosen Linux for many applications on the manufacturing floor. It works side by side with Unix, Windows NT and specialty "real time" operating systems. - Article -

* Largo Florida, City of - City office desktop systems. - Largo has about 400 thin client workstations running the KDE Desktop from a Linux server. Database workloads were migrated from SCO Unix, AIX and Windows NT servers for a multi-million dollar savings. Largo figures its IT budget is about half that of other cities its size. Using thin clients provides a low cost, very low maintenance, uniform and easily administered computing environment for all city users. At peak, there are about 230 simultaneous users. - Article - Article

* Lawson Inc. (Japan) - In-Store Consumer Web Ordering System - Lawson, a giant convenience store chain (7,600 stores) in Japan, will be placing two Linux based computers in each store to implement it's new Web ordering system. The over 15,000 computers will be purchased from IBM pre-configured with Linux installed. - Article - Article -

* Mexico City - government of - Everything! - The government of Mexico City have concluded they can no longer justify the ever rising cost of Microsoft Windows when the cost of Linux software is very low. Linux has already proven itself in the city's motor vehicle licensing agency and in the Mexican school system. Money saved will be used in social welfare programs. - Article -

* Mobil Travel Guide - Major Consumer Web Site - This Exxon division found Linux ideal both from a cost/performance standpoint and for scalability as the division grows. - CIO Insight.

* Omaha Steaks - On-Line Commerce - Advertisements for this mail order company can be found in the back of most up-scale home oriented magazines. They were running their internal systems on an IBM AS/400 and outsourced their Web site, but they wanted to tie the on-line ordering directly into the AS/400. A cluster of Linux servers now runs the Web site and connects to the AS/400. - Article -

* Panasonic - Major Electronics Manufacturer - Panasonic's popular DBS business telephone system included a voicemail system based on Windows NT, but it was a bit pricy. To be more competitive in smaller businesses, Panasonic developed a system incorporating 1CTI's Linux based voice mail software. The Linux based system has been so well accepted by the customers the Windows based system is being discontinued.

* Raymour & Flanigan - Furniture Chain (50 stores in Northeast) - The store chain has trnsferred most of its servers to Linux, and is replacing Windows 98 PC with Linux based "thin client" workstations in its service centers. Inventory and other databases are now being migrated from Microsoft Access running on Windows servers to Oracle running on Linux. - Article -

* Royal Dutch/Shell - Oil Exploration Supercomputing - One of the world's largest petroleum companies, Royal Dutch/Shell could certainly afford the supercomputers traditionally used to analyze oil exploration data, but why do that when your competitors are using inexpensive Linux clusters to do the job. Royal Dutch/Shell has decided to set up a bigger Linux cluster than the ones it's competitors have. - Article -

* Tommy Hilfiger - Clothing Brand - Note: website designed by idiots won't let you in at all without Flash plug-in. The company is installing three Linux based portals running on IBM xSeries servers. The first provides remote access to data on the company's IBM iSeries (AS/400) datacenter computers. The second provides access for clothing manufacturers to designs and specifications. The third provides B2B eCommerce access to retailers and a company store for employees. Company officials say the Linux systems provide the required performance at a lower cost than any other platform. - Article -

* Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. - Dealer Communications System - Toyota is installing a Linux based system connecting all its car dealers to it's factory. This is a Web based system from the ground up, and will be handling 30 different functions including parts ordering, warranties, sales transactions and repairs.

A 30 dealer pilot roll-out was highly successful, extremely reliable, and easily maintained, so now the system will be rolled out to all 1,200 dealers. - Article -
* Travelocity - Travel Agency - Travelocity is the back-end system for the travel services offered by AOL, Yahoo and US Airways. It's Web site gets 11 million page views and 170,000 email transmissions a day. The system is being migrated to Linux and Java. - Article -

* U.S. Army - major military organization - The U.S. Army's Land Warrior program, the first stage of a far reaching battlefield information and communications system, leads a general move to Linux. The Army says that "Evidence shows that Linux is more stable". Apparently the Army has issues with Microsoft's "blue screen of death". - Article -

* U.S. Federal Courts - case management, case tracking, finance and accounting, probation and pretrial services - A support contract has been awarded (Nov-03) to PEC Solutions for migration of the Federal Judiciary to a Linux based system. = - Article -

* U.S. Postal Service - OCR Supercomputing - The Postal Service had declared itself an "all Windows NT" house, but you can't use NT for what it simply can't do - so they now sort all the bulk mail on over 900 Linux clusters scattered around the country (at less than half the cost of the next cheapest solution (and that wasn't NT either)).

The OCR (Optical Character Recognition) system uses scanners that were already in place. The Linux system consists of 5 rack mounted PCs, one to handle the scanners and sorting equipment, and 4 to share the computational tasks.
* WesternGeco - Oil Exploration Supercomputing - IBM has built a Linux based supercomputer for analysis of seismic data. This machine is built from 256 IBM eServer xSeries. This is the second largest Linux cluster IBM has built for oil exploration, the largest being the 1024 xSeries cluster for Shell. - Article -

Source of above info.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Well, seems China is indeed going to lead the world, while Canada falls further and further behind...Linux is not only being used in THREE HUNDRED Chinese universities and colleges, but current estimates are that 100,000 students PER YEAR are learning to use linux...the Chinese Ministry of Education has approved ELEVEN published linux textbooks!?!!...meanwhile, back in computer illiterate Canada...having seen the kind of ignorance being promoted by's no wonder we are continuing to decline in terms of computer education. And are you giving away all of your rights to your photos?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Well, here's a government that is doing something right for its people! :-) (i.e. moving to Open Office, etc.) An EXCELLENT read, and something to discuss with YOUR local politicians, schools, etc. And here is YAME (Yet Another Ministry of Education) that seems to be on the ball, listening to genuine experts. Rather unlike some Canadian Ministries, who are wallowing in the pockets of corrupt, illiterate bureaucrats/politicians.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Great article about an install fest for schools who TRULY care about children and education! :-) And apparently, at LEAST 11% of U.S. businesses are using Ubuntu linux!? So, I wonder what the percentage is including all the other versions of linux, such as RedHat, OpenSUSE, etc.? ;-) And yes, for millions of people around the world, linux is the Desktop! :-)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Interesting update on the OLPC story! :-) And note of at least 23,000 linux computers in Phillipine schools! :-) A (Phillipine) government light years ahead of Canada (unfortunately for Canadians) in the area of computer education...And here is a general interest site with a variety of case studies of where linux is being used. :-)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Ah, we do indeed live in interesting times...;-) And Ubuntu is targeting data centers, etc.! :-)
And people are learning that there is a much, much better way to use computers...;-), rather than the old-fashioned, out-of-date, illiterate MS propaganda that is dumbing down our education system. It's unfortunate that many schools (even high schools) insist on using MS junk, and that they are being far surpassed by even PRE-SCHOOLS and elementary schools, etc.! But hey, all those MS FUD 'experts' must be right about how linux is soooo hard to use, maintain, etc.?!!! And finally for today, an interesting interview with the author of Python, or have a look at some of the other programming languages.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Read about a health clinic treating 25,000 patients a year, and apparently has the best healthcare IT system around, based on linux, and the ClearHealth software used by hospitals, etc., saving HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of dollars! To keep up to date on healthcare IT systems in general, I recommend LinuxMedNews. Meanwhile, back in computer illiterate Canada...sigh...

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Today, a Guest Post by Heather Johnson, about tips for success in online courses. There are a number of other interesting articles for teachers and you can find links to a couple more in the Freedom links list (Greening classrooms and Learning Styles). And on a linux note, this fascinating article quotes some numbers about how quickly the linux kernel is progressing!