By the light o’ the silvery CMS

Had my nose to the grindstone lately to get the Liberry’s website going.  After a row with damn near every CMS, I’ve finally pinned our future site on Silverstripe.

It’s easy to install, but I’m spinning my wheels in the design of the site.  Charging me with the design of a complex site like the Liberry is like giving a rubiks cube to a dolphin.  He’s probably smart enough to do it, but it’ll take more than a few seasons.  The designs that seem logical and usable to my eyes aren’t nearly so convenient for other people.  I’m content with the current layout, but I have a sinking feeling that when I open it up to critique from my fellow liberrians, the changes will be nitpicky and banal, instead of substantive suggestions for how to make the site more appealing or usable.

Such is the curse of design for pay, I guess- the design is only as good as the underwriters deem it.

The Ghost of February Past

Bad weather here. Lots of it. I haven’t had much time to think lately, work’s been demanding.

One thing that’s been on my mind lately is consumerism. Like so many others, I oscillate between conscientious citizen and capricious capitalist. There doesn’t seem to be any distinct pattern, aside from when payday rolls around. On that glorious Friday, my modest liberry pittance is electromagically transferred into my checking account, leaving me with a moral obligation.

An obligation to what though? I could save it, get rich slowly, as they say, but my income only allows for modest savings, which is further nibbled away by the cost of living, a black hole of financial burden. Whatever money remains could in fact be saved. Let’s do a math problem, using the ING Direct financial calculatrix:

Screenshot

This formula assumes a $5000 initial investment over one year, 15% federal income tax, 5% state income tax, and 3% inflation.

The result?

Screenshot 1

Congratulations! You’ve lost $4. Yes, saving money will, in fact, lose money.

The only other choice is to spend like the a french king. It has an immediate payoff, and the circumstances won’t change with the whims of the economy.

Why would anybody be dumb enough to save in our economic climate? Our financial system punishes income (which includes savings) with a 15-25% income tax, but only charges ~7.5% for sales tax. It doesn’t take an astronaut to figure out which choice is more sensible.

The reluctant return

I’m back from Vegas, a little poorer but much enriched.  We had a smashing time- good food, good weather, good company.  Once I get to look at the pictures more thoroughly, I’ll put together a montage/narrative, possibly with music by Smashmouth.

Here’s the trip by the numbers:

  • 1 Hoover dam visit
  • 3 Elvis sightings
  • 5 fabulous days in Vegas
  • 6 Bighorn sheep spotted
  • 6.5 liters of beer drank at Hofbräuhaus
  • 25 dollars won at no-bust Blackjack
  • 413 miles walked
  • 162,000,000 Chinese people in town for Chinese New Years

As is nearly always the case, I wasn’t ready to come home, particularly since it’s not risen above freezing yet.

You can’t spell ‘open source software’ without ‘orcs’

There’s an alarming amount of open source software coming out of New Zealand these days.  While trolling the web for a suitable CMS for the liberry, I got tangled up in another web of Kiwi FOSS intrigue.  It’s not just the geeks and communists using it- it seems to have even infiltrated the government of New Zealand. Combine this with the Koha project, the hottest thing in libraries since wheels on a cart.

What’s to be done about this?  Will Europe let the gauntlet fall so easily?  I’ve always perceived it to be the nerve center of FOSS, but New Zealand is taking to open source with Zeal (har!).  America remains a stronghold of M$, with a fiefdom of Apple users to boot.  Thankfully, open source is above nationality, and what benefits one benefits all.

Some people see the future dominance of open-source as inevitable.  This seems a little naive.  There’s still money in software, even if it’s given away.  M$ has a number of free software packages whose source is as tightly guarded as the Colonel’s Recipe.  Besides, without closed-source software, there’d be no villians 🙂

We Ubuntoo!

Good news everyone: The Edwardsville Public Library is now circulating a copy of Ubuntu 7.10! I requested a copy here a few weeks ago, and despite the warnings that it might take months to get here, it only took a few weeks. It came all the way from the Netherlands, which seems to be where Canonical is based. Declared value of the package: .13€. Giving Patrons a choice of OS: priceless.

We’re one step closer towards a crapware-free world….

Meanwhile, Ubuntu Hardy Heron Alpha 4 continues to screw with me. Of course, only an idiot would really expect an alpha to be fully functional. I happen to be that idiot. I’m stymied at the moment- Hardy Heron has better support for my hardware. I could recompile to kernel in Gutsy to support the AMD Geode chipset, like the creator of the Dhammatron, but I’ve only got a 2gb cf card, 1.9 gb of which is taken up by Ubuntu. When I figure it out though, I should have nice smooth video playback on Youtube 🙂