Fourteen people made it to the December meeting of the Dartmouth – Lake Sunapee Linux User Group, held as usual on the first Thursday of the month and in what appears to be our new place, Haldeman 041, in the lower level of the building next to our previous meeting place.
“Nifties” was the theme, for any presentation that might elicit the reaction “Nifty!” from the audience, and they all did.
Glen Page, newly appointed leader of the New Hampshire Society for Technology in Education talked about the happenings at the Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference (which also included presentations by well-known GNHLUG activists Ed Lawson, Bill Sconce and Matt Oquist)
Doug McIlroy showed us some tricks with qsort: qsort is an interface under which each developer could implement their own sorting algorithm, a common homework assignment. Doug argued that a properly designed data set could disappoint anyone who thought they’d created the cleverest quicksort EVER by always returned quadratic (slow) results. You can read the code here. Nifty!
Nick Sinnot-Armstrong: One Laptop Per Child XO-1 laptop: show and tell. A local developer experimenting on a pre-production model of the OLPC with the very capable microphone input (accepts both analog and digital for standard audio as well as measurement data). Nick gave us a tour of the laptop, passed it around for people to get a sense of the size and capabilities. Note that the OLPC charitable project “Get One, Give One” is going on through December 31st. Nifty!
Mike Diehn showed off some very powerful tips and tricks in bash and vi, and pointed to some handy resources at http://pixelbeat.org/ – Nifty!
Bill McGonigle demonstrated Munin, a monitoring and recording tool that’s a great add-on for a facility that’s trying to pick up on problems occuring over time, Built on top of RRDTool, it can record and remember a set of measurements over time. Bill showed how one of his web sites was experiencing a surge that was hurting performance and setting off alarms. By picking a set of parameters to monitor, Bill was able to work out that… well, you should have been there. Nifty stuff!
Bill has an interesting pointer to a project called FON. I’ve been reading through the web site on the FON system. Here’s how I read it: Home/businesses with the proper rights granted by their upstream suppliers can post this access point on their network. Internally, the host can use a private wireless access, encrypted with WPA2 or less. Externally, the WAP advertises itself as FON_AP, an open (no key) wireless access point. Other ‘Fonistas’ – registered members who are actively operating their own FON WAPS – can access the wireless for free. But the great unwashed masses do not get to access it for free. They get to pay for access. A FON pass will apparently let them use any FON WAP for a day. They can purchase it on the spot, or buy a bunch of passes and use them as needed. Not sure of rates or the fine print. The host seems to be able to set it up as a “Linus” and collect no fees themselves or as a “Bill” and share in the dividends that FON makes from paying access. It’s an intriguing business model.
Apparently, on Thanksgiving FON offered their WAP for free for a limited time, and Bill was able to get one, which he raffled off at the meeting.
And last, but certainly not least, Bill McGonigle demonstrated a pair of carol-playing, wireless, dueling-banjo penguins. Nifty!
Thanks to Bill McGonigle for organizing the meeting, to Dartmouth College for generously donating the use of the facilities, and to all who attended and demonstrated Nifties!