Government Saves Lives with Free Software

The government gets free software: nurses at VA hospitals have been using and developing VISTA: the open source medical records system for vets Photo credit: US Army

Graduated from college at the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelors of Science in Information Science ten years ago. It would not have been possible without my mother, Susan Rose. Mom is a Registered Nurse for the Veterans Administration who worked at the VA near campus when I was at school. Since I was an only child of a single mom, we did not have all of the advantages of many of my classmates. When I learned that Linux was Free in 1999 it was very attractive self-driven academic experience for my young mind. I worked all summer to get enough money for my own Red Hat Linux desktop.

Mom did not understand what I was up to with open source.
I did not understand what she was up to with open source.

At VA Hospitals nationwide, the government was deploying VISTA. No, not Microsoft Windows Vista, VISTA – the open source medical records system. It keeps track of all of information concerning a patient’s care – no matter where in the country they go. Medications, pharmacies, doctor visits, dates, diagnosis.. it is all there. Nurses recommended that VISTA work with scan-able wrist bands. Now patients’ wrists are scanned prior to medicating and procedures with immediate feedback for the medical professionals who are providing the care as the care is administered. It saves lives and the government money. This is change that I can believe in.

The change to open source nation-wide medical records can happen and is happening today. The US government is providing up to $64,000 for providers who successfully implement electronic medical records. While there are many most with commercial support, there are proprietary vendors who are interested in this business. With open source, medical records can remain available to the health care provider without paying yearly subscription fees. Proprietary software though, may entail vendor-lock-in contracts prohibiting your health care provider from moving to another system or other health providers in charge of your care.

At the Ohio LinuxFest, mom will chair
a two-day track to discuss medicine in open source with an emphasis on medical records on September 10 and 11. Here we will reach out to health care administrators, nurses, doctors, patients, concerned family members of those who require constant care, taxpayers, open source programmers, and anyone else who cares about the future of health care with Free Software.

Friday kicks off with writer and Red Hat employee, Ruth Suehle, who will discuss medical innovations around the world. It will be followed by Susan Rose MSN RN-BC (that’s my mom) talking about Electronic Medical Revolution. There will also be a free workshop from Dr.David Chan on OSCAR, the open source medical records system deployed through all Canada and world wide. Medical professionals who attend on Friday September 10 can obtain Free CEU’s upon request.

The discussion on medical records will continue with Dr. Chan of OSCAR, Fred Trotter of, Dr. Budman, MD, MBA of MedSphere on Saturday September 11. Ohio citizens can learn more on how electronic medical records are being deployed in their state with Amy Andres of the Health Information Exchange.

Other Saturday topics include will be a tele-medicine applications with talks from Dr. Barbash and Dr. Magee. These innovations will help patients to integrate health care to their every day lives – at home.

Closing will be a panel on how to choose open source products so that they qualify for “Meaningful Use” government funding.

If you care about more efficient and better health care for you, your family, and your medical practitioners, consider the Ohio LinuxFest Medical Track. That’s my idea of Free Healthcare.

Print off this flier to show anyone involved in your health care.

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Microsoft Market Share Squashers to present at Ohio LinuxFest’s Ubucon

I am proud to announce that I will be speaking at the Ubucon at the Ohio LinuxFest on Friday September 10, 2010 on the subject of Ubuntu’s Bug One: “Microsoft Has a Majority Market Share.” Here I describe how Microsoft sank from 53.4% usage to 44.4% usage in the area of browsers in a year thanks to the popularity of two Free software products, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. Microsoft’s Office will be next to lose dominance with 87% business introducing non-Microsoft “alternatives” next year such as OpenOffice.Org and Google Docs. When will the digital tipping point shift in the favor of Free desktops such as Ubuntu?

To help answer this question this Ubucon has an all star cast.

Jorge O. Castro, External Project Developer Relations for Canonical, will be speaking about Low-Hanging Fruit of the juicy software variety. Jorge works with getting really hard bits to integrate with Ubuntu, recently and namely Google Voice with video support. He will show us how we can all help by packaging and bug fixing. Yummy.

Next will be the outstanding Amber Graner of Ubuntu User magazine. She will discuss how it is possible to contribute to Free software, even if you are not a developer. Amber knows because she has done it all without compiling a single code or hacking a single kernel. You go girl.

Then we will have some words from the Ubuntu Ohio LoCo Team who are experts in gorilla marketing of Free software. They mobilize volunteers to support recycling efforts like Free Geek Columbus and distribute Ubuntu to the libraries. These party-animals also make sure every single release is properly celebrated. If your dance card on October 10, 2010 does not include Maverick Meerkat then the Ohio LoCo team will tell you how to plan a release party in your neighborhood. Ubuntinis anyone?

Master-of-the-Universe and Kubuntu programmer Mackenzie Morgan will discuss the Ubuntu software development process. She will explain how she makes great Free software available . Microsoft sells software like it is 1984 and Mackenzie packages Free software like its 2014. Take a time machine with Mackenzie and she will show us how its done. Mackenzie is the future.

Last, but not least is David Mandala, lead of the ARM team at Canonical, who will be taking your questions concerning ARM on Ubuntu. When not giving talks at LinuxFests, David travels the globe working with ARM board builders and councils them on making their hardware compatible with Linux ever since Ubuntu 9.04. Microsoft didn’t even get into the ARM operating system business until last month – and that took some arm-twisting. Catch David on Saturday at 10 A.M. where he will talk more about the future of Ubuntu ARM support in the “FOSS in Other Worlds” track. With David’s help, Ubuntu will be first and best on a full Free software stack on ARM-based tablets as soon as this Christmas. Game over for the Windows desktop.

At the Ohio LinuxFest, at Ubucon, we will seal the fate: Microsoft will lose majority market share come June 30, 2011.

Freedom through Ubuntu is possible and real…

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But I don’t know Linux well enough to go to LinuxFest

Typical technical conferences cost thousands of dollars to attend, entailing talks only for wizards, tutorials for computer pros, and trade shows full of products non-geeks would never buy. It is enough to make the most outgoing person feel out of place. The LinuxFest experience, however, is exceptional.

But I don’t know Linux well enough to go to a LinuxFest

Maybe you need some time learning Linux on the desktop skills. Even if you have always used Windows, by the end of the Ohio LinuxFest Linux Basics class, you will be savvy enough to install Linux and transfer your daily work into the GNOME desktop environment with Ubuntu. This class is a great too for anyone who wants an overview of Linux to broaden your IT knowledge. Either way, you will have a hands-on experience which will turn you into a bug-one crushing warrior.

The Ohio LinuxFest has something for both the Free software curious and those who want to get knowledgeable about Linux real fast. Educational and entertaining programming for the weekend ranges from zero to $350. Causal users will be pleasantly surprised by the free software available at the expo.

Register today at

Come and Free your Desktop at the Ohio LinuxFest: September 10-12, 2010 – where Microsoft lacks a majority market share.

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Taking a Pause For Ohio LinuxFest

I have been posting very little recently as I have been busy working with the Ohio LinuxFest.

We have an awesome schedule line-up with Free talks: Jon Maddog Hall to deliver the kick-off keynote Friday September 10, Stormy Peters to answer the AM keynote question Who is stealing your desktop and closing keynote of Christopher “Monty” Montgomery on the The Digital Media Frontier.

In a world full of patents, law-suits that stifle innovation and consume the court’s time, proprietary companies who restrict ownership to the hardware and software you paid them for, we need freedom more than ever. If you live in North America, chances are, you can attend the Ohio LinuxFest at near-no-cost when you share a ride or a hotel room with your neighbor.

Your handset, your desktop, your browser, your operating system, your web-based services, your virtualization, your music, your video, your community…. It all can be free… You can be free too.

Register for free today at:

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MSFT FY2010 qtr 4 earnings

play by play

I will comment within 24 hours

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Operation Clean Sweep

Own a computer running Ubuntu? Well, pick up a broom and be a part of Operation Cleansweep. This project is for anyone who can install a patch and verify that the bug is fixed on their Ubuntu system. The goal is to have 2000 patches reviewed so that the Ubuntu community can resolve 2000 bugs in time for the Ubuntu Maverick release: October 10, 2010.

With all other bugs resolved, Bug One will certainly follow.

Track the progress of Operation Clean Sweep here…

Come June 30, 2011, Microsoft will lack a majority market share.

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The Foundations of a Community: Western PA Linux User Group – Part Two

When Jeremy, Jennifer, and Alex left town, many Linux user groups would just simply cease to exist. It is really easy to give all sorts of excuse for not stepping up… “I don’t know enough about Linux or I don’t code.” or  “I’ve never run a meeting before but I might go if someone puts together a good talk.” Fortunately WPLUG did not have this fate. Jeremy remained part of the board while guiding the following folks to be more involved: James O’Kane, Jonathan Billings, Evan DiBase, Zach Paine, and Rob Dale. These people became the second board of WPLUG. A local political activist, David Tessitor, formed bylaws on how WPLUG would operate after speaking to several members of the board.

These bylaws had several flaws:

  1. Only the board were voting members of the organization. Every one else were just guests.
  2. Any action required unanimous vote in favor of whatever was proposed. All it took was one against and the issue was forever not to be.
  3. If one board member would abstain or fail to vote on an issue would tabled until any of the board would bring it up again.
  4. Adding new members to the board was like any other action of the board – only by unanimous vote.
  5. The term was indefinite. The only way a board member could leave is resignation.
  6. There were no dues, so if we ever needed to rent a venue, we would have been forced to pass the hat.
  7. No facilities for resolving conflict in or outside the board existed.

In David’s defense, he was just documenting what this new board had wanted. In the board’s defense, none of them had setup an organization before. They had believed that they were keeping things simple. This set of bylaws, such as it was, was the governing document of WPLUG from 2000-2005.

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The Foundations of a Community: Western PA Linux User Group – Part One

WPLUG is the Western Pennsylvania Linux Users Group, based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. The official founding of the group is dated to September 26, 1997 at 11:37:08 EDT. I was not there as I was still a frustrated yet loyal Microsoft Windows user. Instead, a California University of Pennsylvania student named Jeremy Densil and a professional IT couple Alex and Jennifer Landefeld agreed on the name and where the meeting will be over email at the for-mentioned moment. The three of them formed the first board. None of them knew what a Linux User Group meeting was supposed to be like. I’ve been told that the first few meetings were in coffee shops. It was just a bunch of friends chatting it up about all things geeky. To their surprise, it was getting crowded at the coffee shop, so they move on to meeting rooms in libraries. Jennifer worked at Carnegie Mellon who booked a room during a quiet Saturday about a year after that fateful email.

The time was ripe for Linux and free software in the late 1990’s. Netscape formed in February 1998 to fight the Microsoft in the browse war. Oracle, the proprietary database, supported Linux as a platform in October 1998. Sun Microsystems released Star Office in November 1998, the previous name of the Microsoft-crushing Oracle Open Office suite. Red Hat went public in August 1999 and quickly acquired Cygnus, the makers of the Cygwin – a bash shell with GNU tools for Windows. Meanwhile Apache gained and maintained at least 50% market share in the web server market, an achievement which Microsoft has never been able to do.

Indeed it was history in the making and the world was starting to pay attention. O’Reilly Media published Eric S. Raymond’s “Cathedral and  the Bazaar.” PBS filmed a documentary called “Code Rush” about Netscape’s race to open its browser code.  HP sponsored a theatre documentary Revolution OS captured the relationship between free software, open source, the Linux kernel, and the American business sector during the dot-com boom.

With all of the excitement going on, Western PA Linux Users Group was experiencing growing pains. I started showing up in the Fall of 1999 after buying my first Linux desktop. Jeremy had moved to the West Coast and Jennifer and Alex were soon to follow. This is what technology people did during the boom: California gold rush 2.0! Jonathan Billings, a Carnegie Mellon employee at the time, volunteered to reserve the room so all was good.

Also, in 1999, there was a considerable amount of Fear-Uncertainty-Doubt concerning if legacy codes would bankrupt world economies and cripple technology-dependent infrastructure. Being a technology leader, the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon made the prudent decision to improve off-business hours security. This meant that free passage into the building was not possible for those attending WPLUG meetings in late 1999. It was labor intensive since we to escort late comers into the room. Still, we made it work from 1999-2007.

Meanwhile Microsoft at the turn of the Millennium, they were starting to get scared. Here Microsoft states NT is a threat to Linux in 1998. Then in 1999 Bill Gates claims the impact is “fairly limited” from Linux. Why all of the double-talk out of Microsoft? Answer: US vs Microsoft.

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Open Letter from a Microsoft Share Holder

Dear Microsoft,

I am a shareholder of your company. The world is still waiting for your Q4 FY2010 report so that we will know how much money you made as of June 30, 2010. We are all on Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Peter Klein’s schedule. Mr. Klein, you rival Red Hat posted their FY 2010 report, what is the hold up?

Since I have yet to receive a personal invitation to your shareholders meeting on July 29, 2010. I have several more questions for Microsoft which I will ask from here. I welcome any answers from leadership or the floor.

What is your mobile strategy in a post-PC world? Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer may try to deny it. The fact is that PC desktop sales have been on a decline, 23% down as of last year. Bill Gates has nothing to do with the day-to-day anymore and it shows.

Your attempt to reach the youth via smart phones was an epic failure. KIN has been pulled by Verizon in a matter of weeks. Anonymous purported employees claimed that the IP you bought acquiring Danger are now wasted and call it as embarrassing as Microsoft Bob. Joe Wilcox correctly predicted Kin’s failure as you fired the leadership of the Entertainment and Devices division just before the Kin product launch. I too predicted in November 2009 that Kin, then code-named “Pink,” would not live up to Mr. Ballmer’s nor Mr. Gates’ vision. How could releasing the Kin under the circumstances be profitable? Why would anybody buy a Kin? Android and the iPhone have cameras, Facebook, Twitter, and more… how could you proceed into the market with less?!? Sure you can say I don’t get it because I am not a teenager but still how can you make a social phone without a calendar? Sorry, the Microsoft brand does not equal cool with whatever crowd you expected to buy Kin.

You bought the wrong smartphone IP. Last year bloggers advised you to buy Palm for their Linux-based WebOS, but you let that HP beat you to it. Now HP plans to ditch Microsoft for WebOS on tablets netting a double loss for you. There goes Mr. Ballmer’s iPad killer. Your excuses come from Mr. Klein who complains that tech mergers are hard to do. Is this fiscal leadership?

With all of the Kin ads you bought, did you once stop to notice that Windows Mobile lost market share to Google Android Linux? Developers are not chomping at the bit to write apps for Windows 7 Mobile but they were so eager to do so for Apple that WWDC2010 sold out. Developers favor Android over Apple’s iPhone OS which makes any platform you put together a third class even before product launch.

What is next, Microsoft, yet another round of layoffs? No wonder Business Insider is saying “Microsoft’s Business Could Collapse in 2010.” First Google ditches Windows on security concerns. Next, IBM names Firefox its web browser standard. Microsoft apologist, Ina Fried reports that Microsoft is now forced to offer no-cost Office options in order to compete with OpenOffice.Org and Google Docs. How does firing people now help you make products that actually sell?

Microsoft, I can not say I did not warn you as I have been warning you of your demise here at I do not stand alone as Computer World is ready to admit: Linux could become the world’s most popular operating system. Come June 30, 2011, Microsoft, you will lack majority market share. What are you going to do about it?


Beth Lynn Eicher

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Posted in Apple, Bill Gates, Browser, Google, Linux, Marketing, Microsoft, Office Suite, this blog, Windows | 1 Comment

What will I buy?

Regardless of what Darryl the Microsoft fanbody VMS developer from Australia does, I bought stocks celebrate the wonderful success of What Will We Use.

What Did I Buy

20 shares of ARMH– the low-power microprocessor behind Apple iPhone 4 and most Google Android phones. Since they are positioning to bring netbooks and thin-clients running Ubuntu and/or Google’s ChromeOS/Android, ARM processors will kill the PC. Microsoft will regret their decision not to support ARM on Windows 7.

7 shares of RHT– the Linux distributor Red Hat already has impressive enterprise server market share. As applications shift to the “software as a service” model, Red Hat will profit as green penny pinching IT managers look to the cloud. With their entrance to the virtualization market, they will capitalize on customers who want a single finger to point. Virtualization competitors Citrix and VMware do not make a guest-level OS, putting Red Hat at the cloud market advantage.

1 share MFST– the software giant is imploding yet I bought a single share. I welcome Microsoft’s glossy pamphlets which deny the epic failure that is afoot.

What we will buy affects what we will use.

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Posted in Apple, Google, Linux, Microsoft, Software as a Service | 1 Comment