How Creative Commons Licensing Can Help Build Your Brand and Reputation

Creative Commons licensing is an excellent way to share your creations with others while still retaining control over how they are used. There are many benefits to using Creative Commons licensing, some of which we’ll explore in this article.

First and foremost, Creative Commons licensing allows others to use your work without having to ask for permission. This can be especially useful if you want your work to be used in a specific way or for a specific audience. For example, you might want your work to be used for educational purposes or in a nonprofit setting. With Creative Commons licensing, you can specify exactly how your work can be used and under what conditions.

Another benefit of Creative Commons licensing is that it can help you to build your brand and reputation. By allowing others to use your work, you are increasing exposure to your brand and helping to establish yourself as a thought leader in your field. This can be particularly valuable for small businesses or independent creators who are just starting out.

Creative Commons licensing can also help to foster innovation and collaboration. By sharing your work with others, you are providing a platform for others to build upon and improve upon your ideas. This can lead to new innovations and collaborations that might not have been possible otherwise.

Overall, there are many benefits to using Creative Commons licensing. By sharing your work with others and allowing them to use it in a specific way, you can build your brand, foster innovation, and contribute to the greater good of the creative community. So if you’re looking to share your work with others in a meaningful way, consider using Creative Commons licensing as a tool to help you achieve your goals.

From Windows to Linux: My Experience Helping a Friend Switch to Linux Mint

Yesterday I helped a friend restore two laptops to good working order using Linux Mint 21.1. My daily driver is Pop!_OS but my friend is new to Linux and I thought Linux Mint with a Cinnamon desktop would be a good place for him to start his Linux journey.  I saved his files from the first laptop on a USB drive and then began the install of Mint from another USB drive that I had prepared for that purpose. The candidate was a three year old Hewlett-Packard Laptop with a lightweight AMD processor and 4 GB or RAM. The computer had really gotten slow and was showing signs of a malware infestation when I suggested to my friend that he let me help him give Linux Mint a try.

The install of Mint went very well and we were done in about fifteen minutes which included adding updates and restoring his word processing and image files from the Windows 10 operating system that had existed on this laptop just a few minutes before. My friend was so excited by the results and the new life in his laptop that he invited me to try Mint on an extra Acer Aspire laptop that he had in a cupboard in his home. The Acer was a great candidate. Eight gigabytes of RAM, i5 processor and 250 GB SSD drive. My friend is quite happy with his two laptops now that they are running Linux Mint. I am always delighted when I can share the gift of Linux and open source software with anyone.

Handbrake to the rescue

Recently my son asked me if I could locate a video of him scoring 35 points in one half of a high school basketball game. The game happened about eighteen or nineteen years ago. Fortunately many years ago I transferred the VHS-C format video to a digital format and created DVD’s of each of the games from his senior season. Thank goodness my wife is much more organized than me and she remembered where the DVD collection was. Now the problem was moving from the DVD format to digital video that could be loaded onto our son’s iOS device for playback. That’s where Handbrake came to my rescue. If you’re not familiar Handbrake is a great tool for video transcoding. Add to that it’s open source too.

My daily driver is a System76 Darter Pro and it’s currently running Pop!_OS 20.04. I had to install Handbrake which is easy from the command line, $ sudo apt install handbrake. After that I attached a USB connected DVD drive and in about thirty minutes I created a video which can be uploaded to my son’s iPad. Open source software is an incredible bargain and tools like Handbrake are great. You can run Handbrake on Windows and MacOS if you don’t have a Linux computer.

Talking about Linux and open source

Yesterday I collaborated with long time friend and fellow Linux enthusiast Phil Shapiro. Recently we had been exploring open source solutions for video conferencing. There are two platforms with which we had some experience and those are BigBlueButton and Jitsi. They’re both great platforms but for slightly different audiences. I have used Jitsi recently to collaborate with local librarians and to meet with friends. BigBlueButton is a platform that really is designed to support online education. It has a tools like a whiteboard that Jitsi doesn’t have. Although you can share your screen on Jitsi and you can record to the cloud if you would like.

Yesterday we planned to collaborate on BigBlueButton but had technical difficulties and switched to Jitsi. Phil used screen capture software and published our conversation on YouTube. It was a good experience. Today I decided to invest in a portable video background so our next effort will look a bit more professional and I need to be a little less wooden.

Phil and I met about ten years ago on Twitter over a common love of Linux and open source software. In the video we discuss our experiences with the Linux Terminal Server project and the advantages of using Koha supported by ByWater Solutions in public libraries. I hope you enjoy the video and our conversation.

What would you like to learn?

I’ve been involved with Linux and open source software for almost twenty years now. I’m writing this post using a Linux laptop from System76. I’ve been writing a lot of thought pieces lately which come my heart. Linux and open source is also from my heart.

I was introduced to Linux around 1997. I bought a book with a CD in it and tried to install on an older 386 PC. I could only get a command prompt. A year later I bought Red Hat 6.1. I installed it on an HP Vectra that had been upgraded to 233 MMX with a Cyrix chip. I got the GUI and it ran well. A couple of years later I built my first Linux server which was for web filtering using Squid, SquidGuard and later Dansguardian. One thing led to another and soon I built a web server, a network attached storage and began to try it on older laptops that were in sitting in closets where I worked.

I started distro hopping around then too. I moved from Red Hat to Suse to Mandrake and then back to Red Hat and later Fedora. I 2005 while on a trip to meet with K12 LTSP team in Portland, Oregon I got introduced to Ubuntu. We had been invited to the PLUG (Portland Linux User Group) and they were handing out Ubuntu 5.04 CDs. I took it home and installed it on a laptop I had been using. I didn’t like it at first but it did support the wireless card I had in the laptop.

Over the years I’ve run many different Linux distributions. I’ve run Centos, Red Hat, Fedora and Ubuntu on file servers and desktops. In the past six years I’ve been toying with the Raspberry Pi and Raspbian.

There are lots of great open source applications that I use everyday. WordPress is one of them. It’s my favorite blogging platform. I use GnuCash. I used to use a proprietary solution until I made the switch four years ago. I’ve learned Python in the past five years and although I’m just a beginner I’m keen to learn more and share with others.

Are you a Linux user? Would you like to learn? Let me know in the comments.

A need to write

I started this journey thirteen years ago. I started blogging and enjoyed it but in the past half dozen years I have moved away from it and towards social media. I’ve felt something within me calling me to write more and that’s what I’m going to try to do. I write regularly for I’m a community moderator and regularly write about Linux and all things open source. I enjoy that a great deal. It has helped me to continue to learn and grow.

In the past five years I’ve moved from teaching in a public school to volunteering in a variety of places including a food pantry, a soup kitchen, public libraries, teaching digital literacy, Python, Scratch and other open source software. I love open source and continue to write about it and promote it anywhere that I go. I’ve found that there is a great deal more to open source than merely free software. I’ve become a member of a growing community of writers and developers and that’s been very energizing.

I love my new life

It’s been five years since I left public education and in that time I’ve realized how much I like my life as a part time writer in an open source community. I had been looking for a research job in my final years in public education. When it all ended I thought I’d never get a chance to do that. Now, however I get ample chances to research and write. I’m learning how to be a better writer and I’m surrounded by amazing people.

Besides writing I’ve been volunteering a lot in public libraries. Locally at Blount Library and regionally with the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System. I grew up next to a public library and in those pre-Internet days spent my free time there reading books and learning. Now, over fifty years later I have returned to those roots.

In addition to writing and volunteering at the library I still get chances to teach. Next month I’m going to be teaching adult students how to setup and use Raspberry Pi computers. I haven’t finished planning what I’m going to teach yet but I’m excited nonetheless for the opportunity.

Giving is its own reward

I recently read an article about the Hidden Benefit of Giving Back to Open Source Software. The main focus of the article is about the economic benefit. The author makes the point early on that, “The reason for that benefit lies in the experience and knowledge that certain employees gain through contributing, says Nagle. His study suggests that contributing to crowdsourced digital or even physical “public goods” that benefit other firms or industries can enable companies to gain valuable insights and compete more effectively.”  

I’m not going to dispute that assertion at all.  I’ve been using and experimenting with open source software for more than twenty years. A number of years ago one of my favorite colleagues in education used to ask me, “Why use open source?” My answer usually revolved around total cost of ownership, freedom to distribute as many copies of the software to as many teachers and students as I wanted to. But, at that time I was merely a person who used open source software and while the cost/benefit and total cost of ownership of open source software immensely outweighs the proprietary solution the most compelling reason for using and supporting open source software far outweighs the economic advantage.

I have to come to believe through my involvement with in the past four years that there are many more good reasons to be involved with open source software. Recently I read “On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old” by Parker Palmer. One of the author’s assertions was that, “it’s important to get clear about the difference between the jobs by which we make a living and the callings, or vocations, by which make meaning.”  That sentence just kind of jumped off the page at me as I thought about my involvement with the community of writers whom I am privileged to be associated with.

Five years ago I retired from a job where I made more than a living. Being a teacher is a calling. I’ve been involved in education as long as I can remember. I used to teach my brother when we were both in single digits. Later while serving in the United States Navy I was called upon to be the ‘education petty officer’ of our recruit training company.” Eventually I spent twenty-six years in public education so when that came to end I was literally depressed. I took on other roles in retirement volunteering in a soup kitchen and the public library. Four years ago while sitting in a library getting ready to help out in the soup kitchen I got a direct message on Twitter from Jason Hibbets inviting me to All Things Open. He said, if I could make it to Raleigh, would pay my way into the conference. I jumped at the chance. While I was at the conference another friend, Phil Shapiro suggested that I ought to join the community as a writer and moderator. To assuage my initial reluctance Phil offered to help me write some articles. He continues to supply me with many of the writing leads and topics that I explore.

I have found new meaning as a result of my involvement with the community. Being involved with a diverse community of writers who have helped me to grow professionally and kept me engaged and learning. After having been an open source user and supporter for many years I have been an active contributor to an open source community. My involvement with the community has definitely become both an avocation and a driving force in my life. Because this  involvement I have learned about a variety of topics including data science, computer languages R and Python. I’ve actually returned to the classroom teaching students how to program and use open source to benefit their local communities.

I have learned that contributing to open source means involvement in a community. The attraction of open source lies in the paradox that it brings to the table. Involvement in open source projects brings far more to the table than one could ever imagine in a world that focuses on zero sum. There is a universal bond involved in sharing that connects all of humanity. It is in giving that we receive.

Every Wall is a Door

I first read the quote, “Every wall is a door” by Ralph Waldo Emerson on the wall of a Facebook friend. It continues to be one of my favorites. Just yesterday we got some unhappy news. When bad news comes it invites a response and more often that not I’m prone to think of the misfortune.  There is a lot wisdom concerning news like this. Romans 8:28 says. “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Another favorite expression is: “never put a question mark where God puts a period.” Life is full of paradox. In fact I’ve come to regard these paradoxes as a sign of blessing. As I was getting my tea made this morning I reflected on the many blessings in my life.

A little over three years ago I had become depressed at the thought of retiring. I thought my life was over. But in the three years hence I have become a frequent contributor and community moderator at I have re-entered the classroom teaching and learning about Lego Mindstorms and robotics in general. I’ve taught programming and digital citizenship classes to children and adults. I have become active in the EdCamp movement and look forward regular communication on social media with those friends.  I’ve become a successful grant-writer and that has allowed me to give back to the community in ways I could never have imagined. I’ve learned about nutrition and wellness through involvement at The Warming House , Genesis House and the Catholic Charities Food Pantry in Franklinville. Through the interest and work providing sustenance for those less fortunate has led to deeper involvement and learning about organic farming, open source agriculture and other life giving initiatives. I recently agreed to be an animator for justice, peace and the integrity of creation for the St. Kateri Tekakwitha Region of the Secular Franciscan Order and created a website to aid in that process. 

What once seemed like the end of the road has become a gateway to new life and new purpose. I am grateful for these opportunities to live, love and grow.

Open and openness are the keys to life and living

A few days ago I wrote a short piece on Facebook and in it I reflected on my anxiety of a few years ago when I retired from public education. I was certain then that my future was bleak. At the time my son said to me, “with your skill set you’re sure to excel.” I was not so sure, but what I’ve discovered in the past three years is that while my skill set is important, even more important is my mindset. Years ago I learned that honesty, open mindedness and willingness were keys to a happy life. Those three simple concepts have been the key to my life. I’m talking about being honest with myself. Taking a good hard look at what I have to offer and not assuming that because of my age and experience that I have nothing more to learn. Quite the opposite in fact. Approaching life with an open mind is key to not only success but also to contentment and longevity. In Chapter 76 of the Tao te Ching this life giving principle is stated succinctly.

The living are soft and yielding;
the dead are rigid and stiff.
Living plants are flexible and tender;
the dead are brittle and dry.

Those who are stiff and rigid
are the disciples of death.
Those who are soft and yielding
are the disciples of life.

The rigid and stiff will be broken.
The soft and yielding will overcome.

Therefore if you seek a long and happy life look to be open and willing. Openness and willingness point to growth. Embrace new ideas and learning. This mindset will keep your mind, soul and body in good health.