Archive for August, 2008

Democratic National Convention against GNU/Linux or bought by Microsoft?

August 26, 2008

I know what most people must be thinking- this is just another crazy GNU/Linux zealot. Well, I’m not. Let me set things straight. This isn’t about GNU/Linux vs Linux, this isn’t about the Democratic National Convention being anti-GNU/Linux or being bought by Microsoft. No. This is about advocating against solutions that are marginalizing groups of people. This is just one example of where Microsoft’s monopoly is abusing its strengths to stifle competition. When we don’t complain loudly about utilizing new or proprietary technology we allow web developers or those in charge the opportunity to stifle our choices. It doesn’t matter if you use GNU/Linux or not- because tomorrow the choice of which technology to adopt will have been made for you- for better or worse.

The people responsible for the Democratic National Convention need to know that not everybody uses Microsoft Windows. Not everybody can upgrade to the latest version of Microsoft Windows. A 6 to 48 month gap isn’t that unreasonable to expect for web developers to hold off on implementing new immature technologies such as Silverlight. Until a broad stretch of the population has the technology and remaining segments have a solution available web developers should hold off.

For a convention that claims to be the “most technologically-savvy event of its kind” it certainly isn’t. For any technically savvy entity or person would know that accessibility is a key factor in developing, implementing, or otherwise rolling out a good site-especially one intended for the masses.

Tell the Democratic National Convention to switch technologies- or switch off the video by contacting them and complaining. Use the following contact information to complain:


720-DNC-2008 (362-2008)




Office Location:

Democratic National Convention Committee, Inc.
1560 Broadway, Suite 400
Denver, Colorado 80202

For those who are interested in the underlying technology here: the problem is the Democratic National Convention is relying on a Microsoft solution to stream video. The technology is Silverlight. A solution competing with the likes of Flash. This combined with the Move Network’s media player plug-in. While Flash may not be the ideal solution it is at least available across a wide range of devices and platforms. In this case Microsoft has released the specifications for Silverlight, but failed to implement a GNU/Linux version. This failure means GNU/Linux developers require time to develop a version. Moonlight- the GNU/Linux solution that is currently being developed will be available soon. So while this technological issue will resolve itself over time for other sites we can’t let up on demanding an open accessible web during migratory periods.

Here is the error message that GNU/Linux users get:


We’re sorry, but the Democratic Convention video web site isn’t compatible with your operating system and/or browser. Please try again on a computer with the following:

Compatible operating systems:
Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista, or a Mac with Tiger (OS 10.4) or Leopard (OS 10.5).
Compatible browsers:
Internet Explorer (version 6 or later), Firefox (version 2), or, if you are on a Mac, Safari (version 3.1) also works.


Creating or modifying USplash /w Ubuntu (or any debian distribution)

August 20, 2008

Here is a really simple solution to creating a splash screen for use with usplash (default on ubuntu hardy 8.x) by modifying the default ubuntu splash screen or any other theme.

1. apt-get build-dep usplash-ubuntu-theme
2. apt-get source usplash-ubuntu-theme
3. open the splash screens from the usplash-theme-ubuntu-x.xx directory with a graphics editor such as gimp
4. convert to rgb
5. modify the splash screens as desired
6. convert back to indexed /w limit of 16 colors
7. apt-get source -b usplash-ubuntu-theme
8. dpkg -i usplash-ubuntu-theme-x.xx.deb