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EuroOSCON: Podcast Preview by Daniel H. Steinberg
Nat Torkington is the conference co-chair of O'Reilly's upcoming European Open Source Conference. In this podcast Nat talks to us about what you can expect in Amsterdam at the October debut of EuroOSCON (7 minutes, 9 seconds). 09/02/2005

How to Decide What Bugs to Fix When, Part 2 by Scott Berkun
In part 1 of this two-part essay on making smart bug decisions, Scott Berkun covered triage and making smarter piles. In part 2, Scott covers establishing an exit criteria and early planning, as well as exceptions to all of the rules, frequently asked questions, and some bug-fixing resources. Scott is the author of The Art of Project Management. 09/01/2005

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08/11/2005

How to Decide What Bugs to Fix When, Part 1 by Scott Berkun
There are two challenges to making smart bug decisions: first, understanding how to make good bug-fix decisions; and second, creating and following rules that makes it easy to stick to those decisions when the pressure is high. In this first installment of a two-part essay, Scott Berkun, author of The Art of Project Management, provides the core ideas you need to make your own bug-fixing rules. 08/11/2005

The Virtual Internship: Take Control of Your Future by Becoming an Open Source Developer by Brian W. Fitzpatrick
Looking for a job fresh out of college, and finding the competition thick? Brian Fitzpatrick recommends you create your own virtual internship by contributing to an open source project. You'll get real-world experience, and advice and criticism from talented programmers. More importantly, from a career perspective, you'll start building a publicly visible portfolio of your work that you can show to any prospective employer. Wondering how to choose an open source project to contribute to? Come to OSCON 2005 this week and rub elbows with just about everyone connected to the community. 08/01/2005

How to Schmooze at OSCON by Robert Bernier
OSCON is next week and you have people to meet, questions to ask, and assistance to offer. Where should you spend your time, and how should you start your valuable hallway, BOF, and party conversations? Robert Bernier offers a schmoozer's guide to effective conference attendance. 07/28/2005

The Commons Doesn't Have a Business Plan by Andy Oram
The commons used to be a grassy area in the center of town where anyone could graze animals. Now it's a metaphor for anything available to everyone without restriction. Andy Oram argues that this is the ground from which new businesses spring--and that open source and free software are the wellspring for new software and technology. 07/28/2005

Calculating the True Price of Software by Robert Lefkowitz
Businesses have long viewed support and maintenance as essential components of software. Open source business models often focus on charging for support and customization. Is there an economic model that can demonstrate the true worth of a piece of software and the option for support, maintenance, and upgrades? Robert Lefkowitz argues that open source exposes the true value of software itself as, essentially, worth less in comparison to support and maintenance. 07/21/2005

The Virtual Referral: Mitigating Risk by Hiring Open Source Developers by Brian W. Fitzpatrick
Hiring a new employee is almost always a risk, and hiring the wrong employee can prove a costly mistake for managers. Brian Fitzpatrick suggests you hire an open source programmer. Find out why doing so mitigates the risks involved in hiring. Meet Brian at O'Reilly's Open Source Convention, where he'll be leading a Subversion tutorial and a session on switching from CVS to Subversion. 07/14/2005

Art and Computer Programming by John Littler
One of the great theoretical debates in computer programming is "Is programming art?" There are creative components certainly, and aesthetic aspects occasionally, but do programming's functional concerns push it more toward craft or engineering? John Littler recently cornered several well-known hackers for their opinions on the subject. 06/30/2005

ESR: "We Don't Need the GPL Anymore" by Federico Biancuzzi
During a recent Brazilian conference on free and open source software, hacker, writer, and speaker Eric Raymond stated that open source would see more rapid success if the GPL didn't make people nervous. Federico Biancuzzi recently interviewed ESR to gain more context for the statement and to explore these views more fully. 06/30/2005

What Developers Want by Murugan Pal
Regardless of the language and platform you choose for development, you likely share some goals with your fellow developers: to be productive, to use good tools, and to keep your tools and processes out of your way while you create good software. Murugan Pal, CTO of SpikeSource, explains ten attributes he thinks developers want. 06/23/2005

Calling SOAP Servers from JS in Mozilla by Zachary Kessin
Interacting with web servers through forms and user actions alone seems so dry and boring. The full-fledged SOAP client built into the Mozilla family of browsers can make your applications more active and useful. Zachary Kessin shows how to write a simple SOAP server in PHP that communicates with Mozilla through JavaScript. 06/23/2005

The PBX Is Dead; Long Live VoIP by Brian McConnell
The private branch exchange has been the reference standard for business telephone systems for decades, but the technology is on the verge of obsolescence, thanks in large part to open source VoIP technology. Brian McConnell delves into Asterisk, a Linux-based open source softswitch, and why it may herald the end of PBX. 06/23/2005

Ajax on Rails by Curt Hibbs
XMLHttpRequest and Ruby on Rails are two hot topics in web development. As you ought to expect by now, they work really well together. Curt Hibbs explains the minimal Ajax you need to know and the minimal Ruby you need to write to Ajax-ify your Rails applications. 06/09/2005

Rexx: Power Through Simplicity by Howard Fosdick
The P-languages get most of the press these days, but they're not the only dynamic languages in the world. Arguably, Rexx is the grandfather of them all. It's received little attention in the open source world, despite several good open source implementations. Howard Fosdick shows off some of the features of the language with practical examples. 05/26/2005

A Simpler Ajax Path by Matthew Eernisse
After years of hacks, tricks, and workarounds, there's finally a cross-browser, cross-platform way to communicate between client and server in web applications. Matthew Eernisse demonstrates how to send and receive structured data with XMLHttpRequest and shows off some tricks to make debugging and error handling easier. 05/19/2005

Rich Web Text Editing with Kupu by Robert Jones
One of the reasons web applications haven't completely replaced desktop apps is that web browsers offer such poor text-editing capabilities. Now a new JavaScript library named Kupu may challenge that. Robert Jones explains how it works and how to add it to your own web apps. 04/28/2005

Making Packager-Friendly Software, Part 2 by Julio M. Merino Vidal
Packaging free and open source software for end users is both necessary and thankless. Without packagers, software could spread neither as far nor as fast as it does. Julio M. Merino Vidal explains how to make configuring, building, installing, and porting your code much easier--to allow it to spread to more users and more software ecosystems. 04/28/2005

Bosworth's Web of Data by Daniel H. Steinberg
Google's Adam Bosworth's keynote at the 2005 MySQL Users Conference was a call to audience members to "do for information what HTTP did for user interface." The web was successful because it offered a simple, sloppy, standards-based, scalable platform, and the challenge is to take a database and do the same. Daniel Steinberg covered Bosworth's talk, and provides this report. 04/22/2005

The State of the Dolphin at the MySQL Users Conference 2005 by Daniel H. Steinberg
Daniel Steinberg reports from the 2005 MySQL Users Conference, under way this week in Santa Clara, California. He first covers David Axmark's and Michael Widenius' "State of the Dolphin" keynote, in which, among details about binary releases and supported connectors, they announced that MySQL 5.0 code is complete. Next, Daniel reports on Michael Tiemann's keynote, in which he offers his thoughts on defining and identifying the strengths of open source. For all the announcements, press coverage, blogs, and photos coming out of the MySQL Conference, check out our Conference Coverage page. 04/20/2005

Making Packager-Friendly Software by Julio M. Merino Vidal
Packaging free and open source software for end users is both necessary and thankless. Without packagers, software could spread neither as far nor as fast as it does. Julio M. Merino Vidal has a secret tip for authors, though: the easier it is for packagers to package your code, the further it may spread. Here's how to make their lives easier. 03/31/2005

Perspectives on the Shared Source Initiative by Stephen R. Walli
Microsoft's Shared Source Initiative seems like an odd mix for the company when it works openly and a clever shot across the bow of open source when it works selfishly. How can the rest of us reconcile both positions? Microsoft ex-employee Stephen Walli shares his perspectives on the Shared Source Initiative from within and without the company. 03/24/2005

Black Box with a View by George Belotsky
Embedded systems aren't all Linux; microcontrollers still dominate the scene. Erstwhile hardware hackers, rejoice! The tools for programming microcontrollers work just fine under Linux. George Belotsky starts a series on embedded development by demonstrating what you have to do to make Hello World run. 03/10/2005

Subversion UI Shootout by Jeremy Jones
As Subversion continues to take over from CVS, more advanced interfaces have started to appear. How do they compare to each other? How do they compare to the svn CLI tool? Jeremy Jones puts svn, RapidSVN, and TortoiseSVN though their paces and draws out UI principles along the way. 03/10/2005

Preserving Backward Compatibility by Garrett Rooney
Change is inevitable, but incompatibility is not. Upgrades are good, but forcing your users to change time after time is unpleasant. A little bit of planning can go a long way toward keeping your users happy. Garrett Rooney offers strategies for preserving backward compatibility, drawing examples from the Subversion project. 02/17/2005

Keeping Your Life in Subversion by Joey Hess
Revision control is great for collaborative projects and distributed projects. How well does it work for individuals? According to Joey Hess, fantastically. He's kept his home directory under revision control for years--here's how he does it with Subversion. 01/06/2005

Choosing a Language for Interactive Fiction by Liza Daly
Retro gaming is hot, and what could be more retro than interactive fiction? If you pine for the days of white mailboxes, twisty little passages, and Babelfish all in your mind, perhaps you long to create your own interactive fiction world. Liza Daly starts down that path by explaining how to choose the right IF language. 11/24/2004

Extending Ruby with C by Garrett Rooney
High-level languages such as Perl, Python, and Ruby are very effective for application development, but linking them to existing C libraries is tedious, isn't it? Not really. As Garrett Rooney demonstrates, writing Ruby bindings for C libraries is easier than you might think. 11/18/2004

Open Source Licenses Are Not All the Same by Stephen Fishman
As open source and the Internet continue to grow in popularity, more and more users and developers come into contact with open source code. Though the various licenses increase user rights somehow, they all do it in different ways and with different goals. Steve Fishman categorizes several popular licenses and explains their implications. 11/18/2004

Hacks for Smart Homes by Gordon Meyer
Implementing home automation may be easier and less expensive than you ever imagined. By using your computer, your home can become much smarter. Gordon Meyer, author of Smart Home Hacks, covers the basics of automating your home with MisterHouse, an open source, home automation application for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X. Move a step beyond automatic lights to a home that actually responds to stimuli. 11/11/2004

Which Open Source Wiki Works For You? by Shlomi Fish
An old idea--user-writable web pages--has taken off again recently. Wikis are becoming more popular as tools for communication and collaboration. There are also several dozen packages to create them. Shlomi Fish compares features of several popular open source Perl, Python, and PHP Wikis. 11/04/2004

Open Source and Free Documentation Licenses, Part 3: The Open Gaming License by Andrew M. St. Laurent
Andrew St. Laurent, author of Understanding Open Source and Free Software Licensing, offers the last installation of a three-part series on open source and free documentation licenses. This final part describes the Open Gaming License (OGL), a license designed to open source certain parts of the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game, and two related documents, the d20 System Trademark License and the d20 System Trademark Guide Version 5.0. 11/04/2004

Using Design by Contract in C by Charlie Mills
Design by Contract is a programming approach that formalizes the interface between callers and callees, leading to more robust and disciplined code. If your language lacks formal support for DBC, though, are you stuck? No--Charles Mills describes the design and implementation of Design by Contract for the C programming language. 10/28/2004

Gaming Hacks for Geeks, Part 2 by chromatic and Simon Carless
Last week, in part one of this two-part series of hack excerpts from Gaming Hacks, author Simon Carless showed you how to write your own MMORPG macros. This week, Simon is back, giving you the hacking tools you need to create your own animations using this hack by chromatic . 10/28/2004

Gaming Hacks for Geeks, Part 1 by Michael Zenke and Simon Carless
In this two-part series, Gaming Hacks author Simon Carless has selected two hacks for your gaming pleasure. This week, Simon says, if you don't like your world, change it with this hack by Michael Zenke on writing MMORPG macros. Next week, Simon will show you how to create your own animations. Needless to say, Simon's got game. 10/21/2004

Open Source and Free Documentation Licenses, Part 2: The Open Publication License by Andrew M. St. Laurent
In part two of his three-part series on open source and free documentation licenses, Andrew St. Laurent dissects the Open Publication license (OPL), which was originally crafted for use with software manuals. He also looks at some of the pitfalls you could encounter using the OPL. Andrew is the author of Understanding Open Source and Free Software Licensing. 10/07/2004

Four Cool Ways to Use Neural Networks in Games by David M. Bourg, Glenn Seemann
For games, neural networks offer some key advantages over more traditional AI techniques, yet they are among the least familiar techniques to many developers. The authors of AI for Game Developers offer four compelling examples of how neural networks can be applied in games--as controllers, for threat assessment, in actions like attacking or fleeing, and in anticipation of actions. 09/30/2004

Roll Your Own Series 60 Phone Applications by John Littler
As cell phones become better computers, they become better platforms for real applications. In theory, that means hobbyists and home users can write code for their phones. In practice? John Littler explores the options to start programming your Series 60 smartphone. 09/16/2004

Open Source and Free Documentation Licenses, Part 1: The GNU FDL by Andrew M. St. Laurent
The same principles that apply to open source licenses also apply to licenses for documentation and works other than software. In part one of a three-part series, Andrew St. Laurent looks at the first of three such licenses, the GNU Free Documentation License (FDL). He reviews the FDL section by section, and concludes with a look at some minor problems and ambiguities in definitions. Andrew is the author of Understanding Open Source and Free Software Licensing. 09/16/2004

Collaborative Document Editing with svk by Chia-liang Kao
If you've ever tried to write a document collaboratively, you know the pain of tracking multiple edits. Programmers face the same difficulties with source code, so why not borrow their version control solutions? Chia-liang Kao demonstrates how to use svk, a distributed version control system, to manage changes to translations and other collaborative documents. 09/09/2004

Wrong-Errors Bugs: A New Class of Bug? by Dan Tow
Dan Tow, author of SQL Tuning, has a fascinating proposal to present: the recognition of a new class of database bug, dubbed the wrong-error bug. Dan proposes ways to eliminate most of these bugs, including significant changes to the RDBMS vendor SQL implementations to bulletproof against these bugs, while increasing the optimizer's freedom to find the best path to the data. 09/02/2004

Alleviate RSI the Hacker Way by Jono Bacon
Chances are, if you use a keyboard for several hours a day you'll eventually experience repetitive strain injury. Thankfully, it's possible to avoid or alleviate the symptoms with exercises, breaks, posture, and software. Software? Jono Bacon explores free software to help save your tender wrists. 08/19/2004

The Top Ten Subversion Tips for CVS Users by Brian W. Fitzpatrick
If you've been contemplating a switch from CVS to Subversion, there's more to it than simply learning Subversion's new features. You'll need to unlearn some bad habits CVS has instilled in you as well. Brian Fitzpatrick, coauthor of Version Control with Subversion, offers ten Subversion tips that will help users break bad CVS habits and form good Subversion ones. 08/19/2004

Exploring E4X with Ruby by Jack Herrington
XML processing with SAX can be tricky, and is painful in the DOM. The new E4X approach can make processing XML much easier. Jack Herrington explores E4X and demonstrates a simple port to the Ruby programming language. 08/12/2004

Anonymous, Open Source P2P with MUTE by Howard Wen
It's clear that the current generation of peer-to-peer applications has one strong drawback -- users aren't anonymous enough. Jason Rohrer's MUTE is different. It eschews direct downloads in favor of routing all requests through the network of peers. Howard Wen interviews Rohrer about his inspiration and goals. 08/12/2004

Open Source and NASA's Mars Rover by Ann Barcomb
NASA's recent Mars Rover mission uses a host of open source tools. Three members of the team presented how they promoted open source software at NASA, use it in the project, and hope to release more code in the future. Ann Barcomb reports. 08/02/2004

The Dan Sugalski Pie Series by Derrick Story
One year later, Dan Sugalski has lost a bet to Guido van Rossum that Python will run faster on Parrot. The consequences? A pie in the face on stage the final day of OSCON. Then, just for good measure, Dan agreed to take a second shot to raise money for a benevolent cause. The whole series is captured here. 07/31/2004

Chatting with the Dysons (OSCON Thursday) by Derrick Story
After Thursday morning's keynote panel with Tim O'Reilly, Freeman Dyson, and George Dyson, many people in the audience might change their previous answer to this age-old question: "Who would you most enjoy having a conversation with over dinner?" The new answer? Freeman and George Dyson. Talk about food for the brain. 07/30/2004

Two Degrees of Freedom by Daniel H. Steinberg
The second morning keynote at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention in Portland, Oregon was really more of a conversation between Tim O'Reilly and the Dysons--Freeman and George. The fascinating discussion that ensued focused mainly on where biotechnology may take us in the future. 07/30/2004

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