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Linux projects followup. meetup minutes, links, etc.

From: Matthew J.
Sent on: Friday, February 1, 2008 11:50 AM
Thanks to everybody who made Tuesdays meetup a success. Although it wasn't as focused exclusively on linux as our regular meetup (second Tuesday of the month @ Think Coffee), it was a great discussion on location focused software.

We talked a bit about the news:

Sun's purchase of MySQL
If I recall correctly not many of us thought this was a big win for MySQL but a fairly obvious gain for Sun.

Trolltech was purchased by Nokia. TrollTech is responsible for the Qt platform independent Rich Client Platform. Qt is one of the core building blocks for GUI apps in Linux.

Amazon has opened up the much awaited EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) . Everyone is very excited about the implications of this. For those who don't know EC2 allows users to create configured instances of computer nodes on the fly across the net. Its a really powerful idea and one that has most developers as excited as Jeff Bezos is about Kindle.

Coverity, a security analysis firm certified many open source projects according to the requirements of Homeland security

This meetup we wanted to bring projects to the floor and kick them around a bit. There was a request for a decent finite element analysis package, a bit of a fringe topic but one that came up with a package immediately in an apt search Technog .

We discussed the need for a friendly but ubiquitous address book/Contact management solution. While there are many ldap backed solutions, and many different address books available to linux it does seem odd that nothing really shines. One feature lacking in most address books is local storage of popular social network contacts. Consolidating all of your "friends" from facebook, myspace, linkedin, meetup, etc, etc would definately help with contact management. Does RedHats open social networking software Mugshot provide some of these features?

Another piece that seemed to be missing from linux use was decent Video conferencing. It would be fantastic to see a iChat style video conference on Linux. Jabber based services using video are still in their infancy. The easiest way to pass webcam info back and forth is via flash (actionscript). Someone mentioned a site prividing video conferencing with multiple users. If anyone can recall this please post more.

It was suggested that anything we might want to do as a local group should focus explicitly on New York. Linux in the past couple of years really been gaining ground on Geographic Information Systems (i.e. Maps) but with Google maps and its available api any mapping discussion was cut short by pointing to big G. It may be worth while to use some of the GIS packages for linux in tandam with Google maps. Almost anything you would want as far as projection transformation coordinate systems, and even 3d modeling has linux packages.

There are quite a few good sources of nyc local information to pull from runs a nice nyc focused google maps mashup showing police calls on the map of new york. also is a new service that has rss feeds of public info.

We discussed at length the public 311 service for the city and the possibility of digitizing the feeds into meaningful statistics. The biggest challenge to this would be access to the incoming call information. actually turning the 311 information into useful data seems like a fairly doable project. There are several frameworks for voice recognition, dictation software, etc. It might be fun to run voiceXML against the 311 network to automate on demand information. also freetts could be used as an auto-operator.

Everyone liked the idea of SMS driven interfaces, but noone had a huge amount of information on it. All we know is you must have a gateway. It'd be nice if anyone knows the logistics as to setting up a gateway, its associated number etc please post to the thread to discuss some more.

Cell phone driven systems in general is a great way to use software with a local focus. There is a lot going on with location and cell phones. Advertisers are looking to use your proximity to products as the basis to target you for advertising via Location Based Services (LBS). LBS hinges on determining user location via comparison between cell tower in use, wifi hotspots nearby and other radio triangulation. One pages that makes use of this technique is the Tactical Sound Garden Toolkit. its an art project that plants sound files in various locations that you can find and appreciate via cell, or other mobile device.

The primary platform for LBS is at the moment the cell phone. So far as cell phones as a development target the iPhone is the friendliest. With a fullly featured (sans flash) browser much more can be done on it then the other contenders. At least until Googles Android platform is available iPhone targeted development or J2ME (java for micro devices) are the way to go for LBS.

There are also several projects that are finally looking to better manage public transportation for users. Google maps, hopstop and others are making getting around as a pedestrian much easier.

I would like to explore linux backed google map mashups and some LBS style coding over the coming months. Hopefully some of these other ideas will gain some traction. Please feel free to use the discussion board to organize your thoughts and if any of us start to generate code we can put it in a repository and open it up.

We will have another project focused discussion sometime the week of the 24th. So if anyone has a project they want to talk about, want to continue this last meetups thread, want to help construct ideas, or just want to be part of the discussion then make sure you sign up when we come up with a day and venue. Thanks again to Meetup for sharing their conference room especially on the night of a big code push.

Don't forget to sign up for the 12th and bring your web development skills to add to the collective brainstorm.

Matthew Jording
NYC Linux meetup. The NYC Linux February Meetup

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