Saturday, November 17, 2007

Creative Commons

So for the folks that don't know, Creative Commons is the dopest thing to EVER happen to multimedia distribution. EVER!

Basically, open source met multimedia & their beautiful love child was Creative Commons! It's been around for years & is, thankfully, finally getting more mainstream (& well-deserved) recognition.

Matter of fact, I've always wanted to freely distribute the music projects I've created & this will happen under a Creative Commons license. It's a project that, unfortunately, won't see the light of day for a couple of years- I have to dig up all of the music i've created since I started doing music production as a hobby back in 1996.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What is a "Techivist?"

Techie-activist(a). Considered myself a techie ever since 1993 when, after spending $1500 cash on my 1st PC, my buddy J helped me figure out the inner-workings of computers. I was taking ´em apart & building custom ¨rigs¨ pretty soon after.

Activist(a) stems more from volunteering over the years & not actually doing the hard work that community-based, grass roots organizers do on a daily basis. Now, those people put in some WORK & I have mad respect & admiration for all those great folks. I´ve just been a coach to 8-12 year-olds (basketball, soccer & baseball/softball), mentored in the LA Public Library´s Adult Literacy Program & contributed to several other programs & open-source projects. I´ve done but a minor speck of what so many other folks have done to give back.

The thing is, I know lots of folks that fit this description (or some hybrid, thereof). I´ve got some ideas in the works. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


So one of the presenters at the Startup Project- LA who is currently using Amazon Web Services is this startup called DopeTracks. It is a website where hip hop fans can go create beats & rhyme over user-created beats all for FREE! It is driven by Flash so there is nothing to download or install on your computer. I checked it out (briefly) & think it is a great tool for our youth who are lovers of hip hop to produce & MC. While it is not perfect, you cannot go wrong with "free" & it even has a feature to export your rhymes & beats to your MySpace page.

While it is not a production-quality digital audio workstation (DAW), it is still a wonderful tool- personally I use Reason as my DAW. Especially since DAWs (Pro Tools, Reason, Cubase, etc.) are quite expensive so, hence, make it financially prohibitive for folks to even play around with the technology who do not have the means to do so. Give it a try, you might dig it!

Startup Project- LA

So I attended the Startup Project- LA event on 10/23/07 at the V Lounge in Santa Monica hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS). I recognized the place right away since I used to go clubbing there when it used to be called Lush. However, some of the negatives started showing themselves right away. Parking was a nightmare as the nearby side-streets had street sweeping on one side & "parking by permit only" on the other. I finally found a metered spot 4 blocks away but it was 2-hour parking for a 5-hour event, oh well. I went inside, got my name badge & noticed no room to sit (they'd just started setting up some folding chairs). Lastly, the whole event felt more like a marketing ploy. Heck, even my friend, Eric, who'd turned me onto AWS at SGVLUG's Slashdot party (& who's using it extensively) bailed early. I stuck around a little longer than I would've only because I wanted to let traffic on the 10 settle down.

But there's good news. Amazon Web Services is really awesome as cloud computing seems to be the wave of the future. Additionally, it's super, duper cheap to use (1 of the presenters talked about having a $60/month bill, which is amazing to me) & seems to be getting adopted by all types of businesses- not just startups. Everyone I spoke with from Amazon was really knowledgeable, friendly & ready to help me with the solution I'm thinking of providing through my small business (that, in itself, was worth the trip for me). Lastly, the presenters provided interesting & unique ways in which they're using AWS for their varied businesses.

All in all, it was a worthwhile endeavor with a few logistical problems & provided me with a nice learning experience & a chance to network with some like-minded entrepreneurial geeks. :) Course

The latest Linux Basics course starts Nov 1st. It's being done through a forum format which is very interesting. The previous 2 times they've offered this awesome, free course they've done it through a mailing list format. It's a great course that brings together a wide range of people- beginners through advanced users are all welcome. It's a valuable online resource that I highly recommend to everyone (especially all of those people I'm trying to convert away from the behemoth known as Windows). There's a couple of online books that are used as a guideline, they get together once a week to review & discuss the material & it lasts roughly 4 months.

Whether you're a long-time user & want to use it as a refresher or want to introduce yourself to all the awesomeness, flexibility & power involved in the Linux OS, give it a shot, you might learn a thing or three!

Darnitt, I missed the October22nd march!

Boy, I was really looking forward to the march, rally & vigil against police brutality but I've been working every day & October 22nd was no different. I was there in spirit, however. I'll just have to show my support by attending the monthly "Fightin' Words" open mic nights more often (been to 1 & it was awesome!). The October 22nd Coalition is a grass roots organization which attempts to make October 22nd a National Day of Protest against injustices enacted by some members of law enforcement (not all, we all know there are MANY good peace officers who are trying to help their communities but a few rogue cops give that 99% majority a bad name).

A bit about this movement:
The October 22nd Coalition is a national network of people from all walks of life who want to see an end to police brutality. The coalition began in 1995 as a response to the hundreds of police brutality cases throughout the county. Since then, activists, friends, and family members of victims have held annual marches and community events to expose cases of police violence throughout the nation. The coalition is also an advocate of youth issues, and is outspoken about the many repressive laws and tactics used to criminalize youth in this country. Join us as we organize and fight against police brutality and the criminalization of a generation.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day

Today is National Blog Action Day & the topic is "the environment." This blog will be a two-headed monster.

From a computing standpoint, there's a LOT of things you can do in your home to preserve the environment. Only buy & use "Energy Star Compliant" monitors as they not only use less energy but use that energy more efficiently. All newer monitors have this feature but it's the older monitors that you need to check. Make sure to turn off both your monitor & desktop when not in use. While this is a given, a lot of people don't do this since the energy used isn't that much (but that's changing with beefier power supplies, video cards & cpu's). Make sure to buy & use recycled paper & recycled print cartridges for your printer. Also, utilize the service that most office supply companies provide for their customers & recycle your old print cartridges (heck, you even get like $3 per). Lastly, make sure to take all of your e-waste (old computer parts, electronics, etc.) to valid e-waste sites. Many cities have monthly e-waste deposit days & convenient locations to do so. Check your local listings.

Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" has garnered a lot of attention, an Academy Award & Al Gore, himself, just won the Nobel Peace Prize for it. Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for the awesome publicity that this famous documentary & the subsequent awareness that's been produced. However, is it all really well-deserved. There's a boatload of scientists who've been talking about this since the 1970's without anyone even noticing or giving THEM their proper respect. Also, it's a little-known fact that Al Gore's family (not necessarily Al Gore, himself) made their millions on oil deposits off the coast of Colombia. Do you think they did everything "by the book," in an environmental-friendly way in a country far away from the prying eyes of EPA? Yea, didn't think so. All the political pundits think he should run for President in '08. This would be a moot point if he hadn't been robbed in 2000 by George W. Bush & his brother Jeb Bush's (*cough* coincidental *cough*) "Hanging Chad Conspiracy" that occurred in Florida. But we should all take a step back when back-patting all these supposed "green-minded" celebrities...I mean, c'mon, they all drive bigger cars (several of them), have bigger homes (which require more energy to maintain lit & warm) & some even hop in their jets! It's good they're at least conscious about our resources but, generally, they leave a MUCH larger carbon footprint on the environment than the average joe. Don't believe the hype!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ken Burns' new WAR documentary airs on PBS Sun. 9/23/07

World-renowned documentary filmmaker Ken Burns just finished his newest project: The WAR. It's a 7-part series which will begin airing on PBS tomorrow night (9/23/07) at 8pm PST (KCET here in Los Angeles). The WAR talks about World War II through the eyes & memories of 40 service men & women. I can't wait to see it as every one of the documentaries I've seen that he's made has been, quite frankly, epic. I've seen "Baseball" & "Jazz" & both were a treasure trove of history & relevance.

While television doesn't have much useful, even watchable, programming these days, this is definitely something you should set your watches to & let the whole family enjoy.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

9/11 anniversary & Software freedom day

Yesterday was the 6-year anniversary of 9/11 & while I wanted to write something about it, I'm just too tired & upset to do so. It's obvious George W. Bush doesn't care about all of our troops (most of them young & with their entire lives ahead of them). It's obvious he only cares about giving his friends' companies large government contracts (*cough* Haliburton *cough*) & it's obvious he only cares about his own personal freaking agenda. Weapons of Mass Destruction was only a ruse & we all fell for it. I'm still in awe of why this fker hasn't gotten impeached. Hell, if Bill Clinton could get impeached for getting a blowjob, why can't George W. get canned for all the b.s. he's spewed & misleading us into a war that's killed over 3000 Americans (not to mention the genocide he's causing against Middle Easterners who are just protecting themselves).

On a brighter note, this coming Saturday 9/15/07 is Software Freedom Day. It's an unofficial holiday being celebrated worldwide which extols the virtues of Free Open-Source Software. There's events being held all over the world but sadly none in L.A. County (which amazes me to no end). There is one being held in OC at the Orange County Deaf Advocacy Center. I have a friend who's deaf so I'll be sure & do my part & let her know about it. I've been evangelizing the virtues of FOSS for a few years now & chances are many folks use FOSS without even knowing it (OpenOffice, Firefox, etc.) but I love Software Freedom Day's motto:
"Software Freedom Day - empowering all people to freely connect, create and share in a digital world that is participatory, transparent, and sustainable."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

European Union (EU) suing M$

The proverbial snowball started rolling down the hill a few years ago. In that story, the BBC talks about some pretty shady dealings in Europe & how they were trying to weasel their way out of sanctions.

While I talked about this a couple months back, it´s only a matter of time before they get smacked down where it hurts (in the wallet!)...the clock is cticking...

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Contributing to OpenOffice also

Figured since I´d come clean about contributing to Songbird, that I should also mention the other project I´m contributing my rusty QA skillz to. I mentioned (aka OOo) almost a couple months back.

OpenOffice rocks the socks off of M$ Office for MANY reasons. There´s versions for ALL operating systems, includes all the same types of programs as Office &, probably best of all, you can save any file you work on as its Office counterpart (in case you´re, say, sending a resume to a company that uses M$). Oh, by the way, it´s FREE too!!!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Contributing to songbird

So like i mentioned a month ago, been using songbird forever. Been lovin´ it but found a few bugs so I´ve been contributing to the Songbird dev. community by putting my old QA skillz to use! ;)

Take a look (& listen), it´s a great product!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Aulterra's Neutralizer

So I first heard about Aulterra's Neutralizer on Fidel's Divine Forces Radio show on KPFK like last November. I held off on purchasing it because I wanted to do some more research on it. Well, the more I read about it, the more I'm amazed. I guess I'm amazed, though not very surprised, because of what the cell phone industry is NOT telling us! I remember back when cell phones started getting popular how you'd hear older folks talk about how "those things are gonna fry your brain" & how everyone dismissed those comments as ignorant & non-progressive. As it turns out, the elders were right & now we're the ignorant ones!

It's actually been researched, ad nauseam, & proven that cell phones DO emit harmful electromagnetic fields (EMF). You can find a nice, concise listing of research done here or do your own Google search like this one. It's clear that cell phone radiation does exist (a scientist in the Radiology Dept. of UC Irvine even tried to disprove it & found that what Aulterra claims is actually true...he's now a firm backer of their project). Aulterra now owns a worldwide patent on the technology to neutralize harmful EMF waves emitted by electrical devices (microwaves, computers, laptops, cell phones, hand-held gaming machines, radios, etc.) Even more interesting is that a laws were passed in various European countries (UK, Spain, to name a few) to disallow children under the age of 13 the use of cell phones as they consider it "child abuse." It's bad enough for us adults but children's brains are still developing &, thus, don't have the protective layer to their brain fully developed yet.

When I combine my professional experience with what I've researched about this, it makes sense. As a previous IT Manager at a dermatology office, it was my policy to disallow cell phone use of any kind (matter of fact, the sign read "please turn OFF all cell phones"). You might think this is harsh but have you ever had a cell phone on around a radio? You'll hear interference/static from the radio. That's because both radios & cell phones emit radio frequencies/waves (RF). The same is true for wireless networks, so having cell phones turned on had the potential of causing interference with our network (it actually happened a couple times until I got real adamant about our policy). So do some research & come to your own conclusions. If I know anything, I know I don't know much...but what I do know is that the science behind the Neutralizer is rock solid.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


The Hip Hop 4 Education (benefit) Concert was by FAR the best I've ever been to (& I've been fortunate to go to many over the years). I decided to give my 'lil brother an early graduation gift (& appropriately enough, it was his 1st concert) as it was an "all-ages benefit. Hosted by Divine Forces Radio (DFR) & benefiting Krylon 13 (a non-profit helping our youth) what we were able to witness the night of 3/3/07 @ the LA Center Studios was pure musical bliss. I can't even begin to explain the beauty & positivity that flowed throughout the evening, but I'll try. The evening began @ 4pm & ended just after midnight & was filled with great music, lyrics & a positive scene (as Fidel said @ the end of the night, not even 1 fight ensued). Just great people, enjoying great music on a wondrous night. I met several cool peeps including the Native Guns, which really dropped it- fusing mind-churning lyrics, phat beats & even blending a little tagalog to spice it up. Pix of the evening aren't up yet (darn camera's acting up something bad) but they will be soon so check back. The event was hosted by Fidel & featured DFR's DJs, which were dope as ever!

My brother & I had a blast! Great event fusing hip hop, spoken word specialists (even one of the modern day innovators in this genre- Saul Williams) & thought-provoking speakers. It was really a treat for me as I'd never seen X-Clan nor KRS ONE live (especially since 1 of my 1st music purchases was an X-Clan tape- along w/Digital Underground & MC Hammer). But everyone really brought great energy. Medusa was super fly. Anomolies was an all-female group that really got down. Visionaries, Living Legends & Dilated Peoples always rock the house & did so again. KRS ONE freestyled for a good 10-13 minutes. The icing on the cake was Wil.I.Am showing up @ the end & freestyling for almost 7 minutes. Now that's hip hop! It was a pleasure to partake in the positivity & bathe in conscious lyrics fused with body-bumpin' beats. Below is a list of the event participants in chronological order:

1 - Olmeca
2 - Native Guns
3 - Anomolies
4 - Aztlan Underground
5 - Quetzal
6 - Visionaries
7 - Medusa
8 - Suheir Hammad
9 - Sabac Red
10 - Funkdoobiest
11 - X-clan
12 - Saul Williams
13 - Luis Rodriguez
14 - Congresswoman Cynthia McKenna (great speaker)
15 - Psycho Realm
16 - Soul Elevation
17 - Living Legends
18 - Chief Joseph Chasing Horse (special speaker)
19 - Dilated Peoples
20 - KRS ONE
21 - Will.I.Am (special, surprise guest)

You can see youtube videos of the evening here (including KRS ONE & Wil.I.Am's fresh freestyles).

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Music in the digital age

Paul McCartney just released his new album- his 21st solo edition- & even though he's 64, he's still keeping up w/the Jones'! He just ended his long-standing relationship w/EMI Records & this new record is being released completely as a music download.

Quote from the article:
"I was bored with the old record company's jaded view." "They're very confused, and they will admit it themselves: that this is a new world, and they're a little bit at a loss as to what to do. So they've got millions of dollars and X budget … for them to come up with boring ways — because they've been at it for so long — to what they call 'market' it. And I find that all a bit disturbing. "I write it, I play it, I record it, and that's all fun. And you go to the record company, and it gets very boring. You sit around in rooms with people, and you're almost falling asleep."

This is no surprise. As music moves further into the 21st century, you hear of SO many artists doing it their own way. Look at Maroon 5, they got in on the music via the internet thing just before MySpace started getting big & they've sold millions of tunes online. Reminds of me a GREAT article I read a while back praising the rise of indie labels & the mantra: “If you are an independent artist or record label and you don’t love LimeWire then you are just plain stupid!”

My neighbor's a musician & we talk about this all the time. Big record companies are upset because so many folks are downloading (for pay or for free) music instead of buying CDs so we've become all too familiar w/phrases like RIAA & DRM. It's the music industry's fault, if you ask me...I mean, how many years did we pay $15/album for 1-2 good songs? It's no surprise that artists are going to indie labels or doing it all on their own- they get a bigger chunk of the pie AND still maintain creative control. Besides, artists on large labels get more cash out of doing their tours than CD like I've always said: Support your music, go to a concert!

Lil' Bush

So there's not too much on TV that's ever worth a darn, but Comedy Central just premiered a new show tonight called Lil' Bush. It was hilarious, features a few politicians as lil' kids & even had a skit where they talked about "Halliburton Land" in Iraq. Give it a watch, it's great satire.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

We complain, but it could always be worse

We complain here in the States about how bad our government is (myself included) but it could always be worse. We could be in China where the social networking site, Flickr has had its service banned. While China's very well-known for pulling stunts like this, under the guise of protecting children or national security, this move appears to be fueled by images of student protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989. The internet was built to produce a superhighway of free information, not to be censored in such a manner. This just goes to show that we should express our beliefs openly while we still can.

Another well-considered opinion is offered by Thomas Hawk here.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Micro$oft still trying to monopolize the world

New York is the latest state to ponder a move to open standards for government document formats ala ODF. Sure it's good news that another state is attempting to do "the right thing" for the people- selecting a format that's freely available, which lowers government's IT costs, & doesn't depend on Micro$oft's proprietary, high-cost alternative- but we all know Micro$oft won't let it happen. They'll be out in force, spewing the same misinformation & fear tactics that has gotten similar bills defeated in 5 other states- Connecticut, Texas, Oregon, Florida & California.

Living in California, the video from the California State Assembly meeting is especially disturbing (the comment on that page is very insightful & well-informed). Anyone with half an iota of tech knowledge would see that Micro$soft is just trying to pull the wool over everyone's eyes with their nonsense &, yet, the bills just keep on getting defeated. Maybe that's part of the problem, we have ZERO tech experts who actually have any influence on the decision-making process.

Let me give you a price-breakdown to show what's at stake. Office 2007 costs $425 retail. OpenOffice is free, uses various ODF formats (& you can even save to Office formats) & runs on MANY operating systems. That's just for 1 user. The discrepancy becomes exponential when you start factoring in licenses (say your small biz has 20 computers, you need 1 license per machine- 20 licenses- to be able to install w/out breaking the law & each license costs extra). That's a considerable investment for any organization or home user who just wants to make a budget & write letters. So it's no wonder Micro$oft is out in force trying to stop this movement as their overpriced, criminally-negligent monopoly could start to crumble. New York's bill is a bit more watered-down than the previous 5 states' bills which were defeated but all of this begs the question- is government making decisions to finally become financially responsible or do these bills keep getting shot down since noone in a decision-making capacity has any clue how to do it after years of $250 toilet seats?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

After Ubuntu, Windows looks increasingly bad, archaic & unfriendly

The article basically states everything I've been trying to say both about Linux & Windows for the last few years...the time is now. The article details the myriad of potential issues a regular, everyday user can face & how Windows handles it vs. how Ubuntu (or pretty much any other Linux distro) handles it. We're talking office productivity, management, disaster recovery, etc.

Matter of fact, I talked about this very same topic 3 months ago. You can download Ubuntu and see for yourself. You can also use my previous article to get you started on how to download & verify your operating system download.

If you like the freedom of free open-source software, the ability to completely customize your desktop environment &, yet, still have a very productive & aesthetically-pleasing operating system, then it's about time you at least gave Linux a chance. But like LeVar Burton used to say "you don't have to take my word for it..."

An arm of the military considering FOSS?

In the article linked above, the Navy is now being mandated to consider open source software solutions. This is a breath of fresh air. Could the government actually be doing something to curb costs & government spending? I hope that this mentality infiltrates the rest of the government since we know that open-source solutions are, and always will be, cheaper for both small & large organizations. I'm sure that the Microsoft lobbyists are out in force trying to stop this since we all know that the government's IT buying power is something astronomical like $250 billion & they don't want to be left out in the cold.

I'm optimistic that once the Navy sees both the monetary & stability benefits of what FOSS can do for them, that it'll spread like wildfire. Here's to government finally making some wise financial decisions.

Songbird Media Player

So I've been using the Songbird player for almost a year now & it's about high-time I evangelized about how dope it really is. It's FREE Open-source software (FOSS), has tons of features & the community's awesome!

Songbird™ is a desktop Web player, a digital jukebox and Web browser mash-up. Like Winamp, it supports extensions and skins (feathers). Like Firefox®, it is built from Mozilla®, cross-platform and open source. Cross-platform means it's available for Windows, Mac & Linux. It's available in 45+ languages & sports 64-bit support. It's developer-friendly as there are over 30 community-authored add-ons & on-staff developers are very friendly in helping you around. It supports iPod & USB devices & you can play tracks from the iTunes store or Yahoo Unlimited services.

Prior to Songbird, I used to use Winamp & while it was great, Songbird is truly the end-all, be-all music application. Not only that, but their logos are seriously sweet! Give it a try, you might find yourself not needing anything else, EVER again!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

One Laptop Per Child

I heard about the One Laptop Per Child project in February of 2006 (when OLPC had just opened their headquarters in Massachusetts). All I could think of was "wow, why didn't anyone think of this before?" Needless to say, it was going to be a tremendous undertaking- producing laptops for $100 apiece for the SOLE purpose of handing them out to kids in emerging countries (to start) so that they could have a fighting chance of competing on a worldwide level with more fortunate kids their age (who probably take things like this for granted). The idea behind it is that no kids should be "left behind" by the ever-increasing digital divide- an idea I've championed & kicked around in my brain in terms of what I can do here in L.A. (I actually had a great idea for a non-profit which addresses this same issue for inner-city kids back in 1996 but I've yet to be able to act on it...patience, there's still time & that project of mine can still come to fruition). It's really not very different from the FOSS (free open-source software) movement in that its basic tenet is that access to software shouldn't be determined by age, race, class, gender or socioeconomic status. OLPC just takes it one step further in that its goal is to give a laptop to EVERY child in the world. As you can see from the link above, there's lots of partners that have now gotten involved & the software which powers it is free & open-source & uses open-document formats (ODF) which is also something I'm a huge proponent of.

I've actually had some email correspondence with a couple people that are part of the project in those last 16 months in order to see what I could do to provide my help & expertise. Initially, they wanted people to talk to corporations & educational institutions so I spread the word in my own little way (to other techies, educators, etc. I know). Now that the organization is fully up & running (kids in rural areas who are given these laptops can connect to the world through broadband access which, to me, posed a significant, initial obstacle for getting the project off the ground), I feel like I can be more of a help. It should be noted that these aren't for commercial sale here in the U.S. but OLPC is planning on offering it in the near future.

It's about time I wrote about it in an effort to reach even more people & now that the infrastructure's fully operational, I think the time is right to raise more awareness. So please visit the OLPC website, take a look around & see what you can do- whether you donate money or your time, it's a wonderful program created by great visionaries who are revolutionizing computing as we know it. Now this is a "no child left behind" idea that's REALLY working.

And people wonder why I gave up on Catholocism a LONG time ago

The article from the link above states that the Vatican, along with the state, are censoring the right to satirize pictures of the Pope. Wow. I mean, wow. Not only is it a simple satire, but since when does the Catholic church have the RIGHT to censor free speech? Oh wait, never mind, they've been doing that since their successful suppression of druidic customs when they labeled them "pagans."

Nice to know what Catholics' collection plate monies from around the world (not to mention, some very poor communities) are going towards...

Happy Birthday, Malcolm X!

Malcolm X was born May 19, 1925. He'd be 82 years old if he'd not been assassinated in cold blood. This man was not only a great revolutionary but also a great mind. His life story inspired me when I read his autobiography in 1991- humble beginnings, getting caught up in negativity during his youth but then changing his life to lead and inspire hundreds of thousands of people before his untimely death. I suggest everyone to read his book The Autobiography of Malcolm X or watch the movie titled X. As always, the book was better but Spike Lee did a good job of proper representation in the movie as well.

Thank you, Malcolm. Your beliefs & teachings still live on to this very day.
Asa Lama Lakum, my brother.

Monday, March 26, 2007

U.S.' love-hate relationship with immigrants

Seeing what I saw at the rally today reminded me of something I've been saying for 12-15 years- the U.S. only has a relationship of convenience when it comes to its immigrants. The bottom line is that U.S. will always have a love-hate relationship with its immigrants- love 'em when you need 'em, hate 'em after you've used 'em.

History tells us as much going back to the 1800's when U.S. government officials went to Asia to recruit workers for the transcontinental railroad, making promises of land ownership & such only to turn their backs on them & pass the Gentleman's Agreement in 1908 denying land ownership to Asian Americans. In 1924, Congress passed the Literacy Act which stated that all new immigrants had to pass an English-proficiency test (which obviously favored western europeans who already knew the language) but there was 1 exception, Mexicans. You see, the Southwestern Growers Association had successfully lobbied for this exception as they needed laborers for their budding enterprise (which was also conveniently tied to the end of the Mexican Revolution, 1910-1920, so they had lots of people ready to come work). Then, of course, we had Black Monday & the stock market crash of 1929 which sent the U.S. spiraling into the Great Depression which saw many Mexican-Americans- many of whom were U.S. Citizens, landowners & businessmen- rounded up like dogs & wrongfully deported just for being the wrong color. After the Depression was over, the U.S. needed more farmworkers so the Bracero Program began in 1942 (also due to WWII & having noone to tend to feeding this vast country). Again, U.S. government officials went abroad for labor (Mexico this time), handing out permits to come to the U.S. to work on farms but there was one caveat, they only wanted men (they didn't want women so that Mexicans couldn't make families & settle here). The Bracero Program ran until 1964 & it was ended, ironically, by the Civil Rights Movement as they thought that these were jobs that the U.S. should be giving to Americans (though, no "American" wanted to work hunched over for 12 hours a day, in the scorching heat while being exposed to chemicals & getting paid a pittance to boot).

Yea, Americans will always have a love-hate relationship with its immigrants. In the mid-1800's it was the Chinese, then the Irish after the Potato Famine struck Ireland, then the Italians & Jews. The Japanese were put in internment camps during WWII (but hey, at least they received reparations which we all know was a political ploy to "make nice" with modern-day, technology-rich Japan, but at least they got it). For a long time before that, it was African-Americans (though, originally, they were forced to come here & were enslaved) & they were promised reparations which they've still never received ("40 acres & a mule"). Heck, even NATIVE Americans weren't immune to this discrimination & they were here before anyone else even arrived on boats from across the Atlantic. I guess it's just been Latinos' turn for quite a while now & the foreseeable future.

ps. And let's not forget that a section of Latinos, Central Americans, started emigrating to the U.S. en masse during the 1980's, in large part, due to U.S. government-funded Contras (there were more, but this was the highest profile group) which were reigning death by the thousands through terrorist acts. So in no small part was the Reagan administration directly responsible for their emigration as they sought political asylum. Or have we conveniently forgotten about that too?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Immigration movement

I was at the pro-immigrant rally today here in downtown L.A. It was nowhere near as large as the one I participated in last year but there were still plenty of people (I heard something like 3-5k) out supporting this human rights issue. It was very peaceful which was great considering there was a group of about 200 anti-immigrant supporters there as well. It got a little heated at times as people exchanged insults but it never went past that. Like last year, all kinds of people came- families, non-minorities & youth- which was also nice to see.

I'm completely befuddled by the folks who are anti-immigrants. Their "beef" is that immigrants come here to take jobs, usurp social services (public education, healthcare, etc.) & do not want to assimilate into American culture (ie. learn the language). These folks have obviously been fed mass media's b.s. & are simply ignorant (for not doing any research on their own, at least). I'll explain why.

UCLA published the findings of a study a few years back which stated that immigrants contribute more than $20 billion (going off memory, but pretty sure that's correct) to the economy than they receive in return- due to not being eligible for certain services or not even applying due to fear of deportation (I lost that link when I reformatted my hard drive over a year ago but as soon as I locate it, I'll edit this post).

Immigrants do attempt to assimilate into American culture by learning the language, thinking otherwise is ludicrous! You try learning a completely foreign language (that uses totally different tongue muscles) when you're an adult & see how you do, it's not easy (why parents are advised to teach their children as many foreign languages as possible @ an early age, it's easier to learn the younger you are- it's a proven gerontological fact). I lived near a middle school about 10 years ago close to Hollywood & every day around 6-7pm, traffic was insane due to the amount of adult latinos (some koreans too) going to night school to learn english.

The #1 issue I hear anti-immigrants clamoring about is immigrants coming here to take jobs. First of all, if anything, immigrants here are victimized by employers who have poor working conditions, don't pay adequately & just, generally, abuse the system & their employees. Second of all, many times it's these immigrants who are doing menial jobs that noone else wants- being a cook at a fast food restaurant, working in agriculture or working in other service professions like low-paid healthcare, childcare & house cleaning. The thing that gets me riled up the most, however, is how you have TONS of American corporations moving their bases of operations (ie. Halliburton) or completely off-shoring large segments of their business outside of the U.S. I've worked in Technology for 10+ years & it's become common practice. Pay close attention next time you call Dell, Compaq/HP or your local cable company for tech support- that's not an American helping you out, it's usually someone from India. But we never hear about this in the media & I don't hear the American public holding these multi-billion dollar corporations accountable for the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs stateside.

It's this ignorance perpetrated by the mass media that's keeping our population misinformed. Daresay, I even call it divisive. That's what saddened me the most today- seeing faces of color on the anti-immigrant side. Has it been so long that they've forgotten that at one time, in the past, they were treated & viewed in the same, inhumane way?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

When shady politics collide with IT

The Washington Post is reporting something VERY interesting. From the article:

It no doubt surprised most Americans to learn that between 2003 and 2005 the FBI issued more than 140,000 specific demands under this provision -- demands issued without a showing of probable cause or prior judicial approval -- to obtain potentially sensitive information about U.S. citizens and residents. It did not, however, come as any surprise to me.
This, honestly, doesn't surprise me either. I'm more surprised this was revealed by the Washington Post- one of the most pro-Bush mass media publications in the nation. I'm just glad the truth's finally bubbling up to the top & that I didn't receive one of these mandates during my tenure as an IT Manager. Talk about a moral dilemma, disobeying it due to its unconstitutional nature or having to adhere to it (while hopefully garnering some positive spotlight in the realm of public opinion).

Having secret police and no accountability goes against the very grain of what the United States stands for, and what the Constitution says. Our forefathers explicitly ensured that we would have the rights necessary to overthrow our government if things got out of hand (which it currently has with the Bush administration). The government exists to serve the people, not the other way around. Yet Bush sits there, appoints bipartisan committees on such key matters as this war on Iraq & then doesn't even take their findings into account? I guess we don't even matter evidenced by his "this war started on my watch, but will end on yours" comments. Then again, why should he or other members of his cabinet even care? I mean, our Vice President is the same Dick Cheney who was the Chairman & CEO of Halliburton (which he's still a major stockholder of) which has received BILLIONS of dollars in contracts during the war in Iraq!! When you look up "conflict of interest" in the encyclopedia, you see a picture of Dick Cheney. If it smells like a rat & looks like a rat...

Government, at it again

The Register is reporting that the White House is implementing the need for new patches of Windows (both for XP & Vista) to "run on the secure version of Vista" (so I guess, thousands of people have also bought an insecure version?) Of course, this is a bit of an oxymoron as NOTHING on Windows is secure (or do I need to remind you of the emergency Vista security patch that came out the day after Vista was released, it's become routine for the last 10yrs. or so). Heck, before Vista was even released, there was already a list circulating on the internet detailing ALL of its discovered security holes and how to exploit them (memorable to me was the one detailing yet another virus exploit in Office 2K7 file attachments). However, the White House still feels the need to use and support (since they will be upgrading to this in the White House) Microsoft which practices ruthless anti-competitive practices not only here in the U.S. but also in Europe, where the entire EU seems to be suing Microsoft.

The net result will be identically-configured computers with fewer applications (doesn't this make it a Mac?). The whole reason for using Microsoft is to gain access to cheap hardware and a boatload of software. You can best believe there'll be a ripple effect which affects the common home user- as other large companies follow the government's lead with its $65 billion/yr. IT budget. Every computer purchased in a few years will have these restrictions. Every PC, being relatively similar, will only make it MORE susceptible to viruses (but the hope is to recover quicker). Small things like this (and national ID's, for example) are the beginnings of a monoculture, which is just asking for trouble on so many different levels.

Whatever happened to "land of the free, home of the brave?" I guess Brother Ali got it right in his new song titled Letter from the Government where he switches it to "land of the thieves, home of the slaves."

Linux downloads

My previous blog entry indicated the arrival of Ubuntu's new (beta) iteration, 7.04 (codenamed Feisty Fawn). For those of you who've never used Linux or downloaded a Linux file, you might think that this lack of familiarity might be an obstacle. Nothing could be further from the truth. As stated previously, distros come in many different flavors. But when you're ready to download the distro of your choice what do you do?

Distros come in *.iso files (the "*" being there for the filename that you're downloading). ISO files are simply optical disk images. You can load them onto any disk burning software & burn a normal cd as easily as you can make a music or data cd. Most, if not all, retail programs can do this but there are also free, open-source solutions that do so as well ala 7-Zip. It's all a matter of choice & preference.

The second thing you need to know when downloading distros is what type of hardware (CPU) you own. You see, distros are created with specifications to take full advantage of your hardware. It's nowhere near as difficult as it might sound- you just need to know if you own an Intel or AMD-based cpu (or SPARC, if that's how you roll). If you're not sure, all you need to do (in Windows) is: Right-click on the "my computer" icon, select Properties & at the bottom of the "general" tab, under "Computer," Windows tells you what type you own. Easy huh?

One of the easier steps (though, they're all pretty easy) is to figure out if you'd like to do a full install or just take it out for a "test drive." Most of you like test driving your cars before you buy them, Linux is no different in that it allows you to do the same. Of course, you might KNOW that you want to do the full install & are prepared to download several cd's or 1 dvd full of data & that's fine. Most people will want to kick the tires a bit &, as such, there's a solution for this called a LiveCD. LiveCDs (aka Desktop CDs) are great in that you don't have to change any current configuration, remove windows or even start from a fresh hard drive. You just select that type of download, burn it onto 1 disk (all LiveCDs fit on 1 disk), pop it in your cd/dvd drive & reboot your computer. The only caveat being that your BIOS has to be configured to boot from cd as its first option. Not to worry, though, most newer, pre-configured computers from large manufacturers come this way and you usually don't have to touch a thing.

Lastly, you should know about MD5 sums. This isn't a mandatory need, so it can be skipped, but it's simple & helps out immensely in case of problems with the install. An MD5 sum is just a simple binary hash which gives your ISO a unique identifier, kind of like a fingerprint. It's a series of numbers & letters that the producers of your ISO share with you & can be found on the same page where you downloaded your ISO from. You can download free MD5 sum checkers from various places & google can help you find one (it's usually a very small, less than 100kb, tool). Once you've downloaded your ISO image, all you do is run your MD5 checker against that image & it'll produce a series of numbers and letters. If they match with what your author gave you, then your download is an exact replica. Now, if you run into problems with running your install or LiveCD, you know that it wasn't due to a "bad copy."

Many central download repositories and mirrors exist for Linux, but I prefer for their many cool features.

Voila! You've just downloaded, burned and verified your FIRST Linux distro!

Taking it our for a spin is up to you. Enjoy. :)

Linux parodies Mac commercials


I'm a big fan of Linux. The reasons are obvious: it's free, it's widely distributed, there's TONS of support for it & there's a true community feel to it (people that actually believe in what they're doing & that they're doing it for the good of the people). Sure, MANY people think it's the "geeky operating system" but the days of command line only user interfaces are gone. Heck, even the Canadian Broadcasting Association is promoting the use of Ubuntu Linux to the "average computer user."

Speaking of Ubuntu, widely considered one of the most user friendly Linux distros (short for distribution, which is like a "flavor" in that there's literally hundreds to choose from when wanting to use Linux), their next version (7.04, codenamed Feisty Fawn) is in beta & available for download. The release version is due out next month & you can find the official wiki here.

ps. You can view a gallery of screenshots for various linux distros & applications here. Enjoy. :)

Friday, March 23, 2007


This is here to combine music, technology & politics. There might be a few other things sprinkled in but they'll, most likely, be associated in some way with these three.

I'm a big proponent of Free Open Source Software (FOSS). As such, be prepared to pop a big Red Pill when it comes to operating system & software choices. The same Red Pill will be produced for music as the focus will be conscious hip hop & electronica.

Enjoy your stay and if you have any questions, hit me up at: