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Advogato blog for dwmw2

Advogato blog for dwmw2

Published: Wed, 28 Jun 2017 00:24:46 GMT


7 Sep 2012

Fri, 7 Sep 2012 19:41:25 GMT

Found myself shouting at the radio again today. These fucking retards with their petition to have opt-out filtering on Internet connections... obviously have no bloody clue what they're talking about. Everyone with a clue knows that the filtering doesn't work. You might as well legislate for the sun to shine in the middle of the night, or that π = 3.

Anyone with half a clue can always get around the filters; it only really prevents you from stumbling over such stuff by accident. Which wasn't very likely in the first place. And to my knowledge there has never been a filtering system that hasn't suffered "feature creep" and been used to block access to things other than what it was originally purported to block. Like the one which blocked the whole of Wikipedia a year or two ago.

If you support this petition, that doesn't mean you're a bad person. Just stupidly naïve and clueless. It cannot work, and you make bad things happen by trying to persuade politicians to impose it. Please stop.

31 Jan 2011

Mon, 31 Jan 2011 10:37:20 GMT

Another excellent week at last week. It was particularly impressive in the light of all the flooding in Brisbane; the organisers pulled off a miracle in making it all work without any serious hitches. There were many excellent presentations, one of which was Mark Pesce's "Smoke Signals" keynote. Mark's presentation used emotive language and imagery, and an apology was subsequently offered from the organisers for the fact that it apparently violated the conference's Anti-Harassment Policy. The video should soon be available at and I would recommend that anyone who has not seen it should take the time to view it. His message is very compelling. Much discussion has ensued. Some people feel that the censure was appropriate and necessary, while others feel that it was not — (Russell Stuart's "Some Anti-Harassment Policies considered harmful" post being an example of the latter that is well worth reading. Having taken part in that discussion with an open mind, and having ceded some points during the debate, I still feel quite strongly that Mark's presentation was SPOT ON; that no apology was necessary and that he should not have been criticised for it. In his presentation, Mark used emotionally-charged language and images to give his presentation the impact it needed; the impact which made it a good presentation. However, I felt that he did so with extreme care and tact, and did not "cross the line" at any point. I'm aware that even his repeated use of the word 'fuck' could easily be interpreted as 'offensive sexual language', which the policy states is 'not appropriate for any conference venue'. But having a policy is one thing; applying it with common sense and judgement is another. I don't think anyone has really objected to Mark's language in the context of his talk, even though we might have objected if people had just been shouting 'fuck' in the hallways all week. That would be the same technical violation of the policy, but in a different context, and different judgement would be applied. I am pleased to see that Mark was offered no censure on the basis of his language, despite the fact that technically it was a violation of the policy. We cannot simply have policy for policy's sake, and apply it without any form of common sense — and without any reference to the principles and goals behind the policy. For one thing, any such policy would have to be spelled out in mind-numbing detail with foresight of any situation which may possibly arise — and that would make the policy document completely unreadable and unimplementable even if it were possible to write it in the first place. On the more contentious topic of the images that Mark displayed during his presentation… yes, he used emotionally-charged pictures to give his presentation impact — any good presenter should do that, rather than just giving a dry reading out of bullet points from slides. But to me, Mark's presentation seemed to have been prepared with an extreme amount of care and tact to avoid being inappropriate or giving offence. This apparent care manifested itself in a number of ways. For example, there were a pair of similar images used to highlight masochism — one with a man being dominated and one with a woman. In that, there was a perfect balance between the sexes. The only real distinction is that in the image where a woman was being dominated had a lot less flesh on show, which seemed specifically to avoid the possibility that it could be interpreted as a 'sexual' image. It certainly wasn't 'titillating' in any way. The images were not particularly graphic; just a light humorous representation of masochism to add colour to his presentation and reinforce his point. These were images which would have been acceptable on broadcast television. Mark's presentation was not demeaning to any set of people, did not portray any set of people as sexual objects[...]

5 Oct 2010

Tue, 5 Oct 2010 10:22:52 GMT

Users of mail/git/etc. services please read

The Mac G5 which was has died (frequently powering down due to one CPU package overheating, eventually refusing to come back on at all).

This machine was and, as well as providing mail services for a bunch of people and various other things too.

The mailing lists were migrated away to another machine in the cluster before it finally expired, but git services will take a little longer — hopefully within the next 24 hours.

All user accounts on bombadil have been migrated to — if you could log in to bombadil, then you should be able to log in to canuck with the same password and/or SSH keys. No other files have yet been copied across; we're working on that. If your mail was going to bombadil, it's now going to canuck.

The current plan is to deploy a shiny new machine to replace bombadil, if will stop being incompetent (failing to authorise the credit card payment, and randomly cancelling orders even after they claim to have authorised it). It'll be an x86_64 machine instead of ppc64, so we can't just put bombadil's disks into it, but it'll have a copy of all the old home directories.

I'll bring the disks from bombadil home and put them into a spare G5, which will be connected through my crappy ADSL line. I don't expect people to be doing large data transfers to/from it.

Hm, I really ought to keep a users mailing list with up-to-date alternative addresses for people. But that list only has two members, neither of whom are affected by this...

[NOTE: If anyone in the Boston area could lend me a ppc64 machine for a few weeks, the transition could be made a lot easier, because we could stick bombadil's disks in it while we set up its replacement...]

19 Aug 2010

Thu, 19 Aug 2010 00:32:13 GMT

I wanted to update a Nokia E71 to the latest firmware. So I booted a Windows 7 VM, went to the Nokia web site and downloaded the update tool. It took about quarter of an hour to download 33MiB over my crappy ADSL line.

When it finally finished downloading, I installed it and rebooted as it asked me to, then tried to start it using the icon it had installed on the desktop.

It told me there was an update available, and I couldn't use it until I updated. I muttered darkly at this idiocy, but let it update. It spent another quarter of an hour downloading, and only then did it check and tell me that it couldn't proceed because it needed to be run as Administrator.

So I right-clicked on it and used the 'run as Administrator' option, and watched it download itself for the third time. But still it failed, complaining that I had to run it as Administrator.

So I logged out completely and logged in using the Administrator account, and I ran it again. After downloading the entire thing for a fourth time it failed again, still complaining that it has insufficient privileges and needed to be run as the Administrator.

I am stunned — Nokia really ought to be ashamed at this crap.

4 Aug 2010

Wed, 4 Aug 2010 12:46:11 GMT

A while ago, I reluctantly took over maintaining the get_iplayer tool:

When you search for it by name, my page isn't very high up on the list of results. Hopefully a few syndicated links to it from various planets that carry this will help...

30 Jul 2010

Fri, 30 Jul 2010 15:03:02 GMT

Got bored of having to run 'make install' when hacking on Evolution, partly because libtool insanity makes it take too long — as for some reason it relinks everything as it installs it. Perhaps that was needed for FORTRAN77 programs on OSF/1, but it isn't needed on my modern Linux system. I hate libtool. But even without that, re-running 'make install' every time you change a line of code is a pain.

For a while I took to manually symlinking the libraries and executables I was working on, from my build directory into their installed locations. But I kept missing some out and that was a pain too.

My current solution, which excited mbarnes sufficiently that I felt I ought to share it more widely, is to re-run with the --enable-fast-install argument, then build it and run 'make install'. Then all files get installed as symlinks instead of being copied, and all I have to do is hack code, type 'make', and run evolution again.

The script is a dirty hack and there are much better ways to do it — some of which would even cope with filenames that have spaces in. But it works for me, and makes Evolution hacking a little easier.

[UPDATE: fucking libtool. I think you also need to do 'sed s/need_relink=yes/need_relink=no/ -i libtool' in your build directory, then to stop it fucking you over again also 'sudo chattr +i libtool'.]

28 Jul 2010

Wed, 28 Jul 2010 08:08:19 GMT

Things I hate today include:
  • Symbian on my Nokia N97 — for spontaneously rebooting as soon as I got off the ferry.
  • Google Maps — for not caching the map tiles I'd carefully downloaded while I was on the free ferry wireless, showing my route to the hotel.
  • Mobile phone networks — for the insane amount of money it will have cost me to re-download the same map tiles again, as I was driving.
It's almost as if it's a conspiracy — especially between the latter two.

I really need to get myself an N900 and start using maemo-mapper again. Every time I try to use non-free software, it hurts.

16 Jul 2010

Fri, 16 Jul 2010 14:29:43 GMT

I've just been working on Evolution's reply code, and have added a couple more of those annoying "nag pop-ups", including this one which I expect a lot of people will appreciate when they don't get the resulting mail:

It's currently set to trigger if you hit 'Reply to All' on a message with more than 15 recipients; unless it's a mailing list message. And of course you can see that it's trivial to turn it off if you never want to see it again.

I've also taken a moment to write down and post some thoughts on the 'Reply to All' vs. 'Reply to List' debate for mailing list messages.

13 Jul 2010

Tue, 13 Jul 2010 09:29:12 GMT

Yay Brazil!. They're making it illegal to use DRM to prevent "fair dealing" with copyrighted works, or access to works which are in the public domain. It's also legal to "crack" DRM if you're only doing it for the purpose of "fair dealing".

So, for example, it would be legal for me to crack the DRM on the eBooks I buy, which is necessary just so that I can read them. Currently I have to break the law just to be able to buy and use eBooks.

UK citizens, go here and add your vote; it's very simple to register if you haven't already done so.

4 May 2010

Tue, 4 May 2010 14:54:57 GMT


What was wrong with the SOCKS server that SSH provides? Playing transparent proxy tricks is cute, but why not make it work using SOCKS and then it would be more generically useful?

Better still, you can use an otherwise unused corner of IPv6 address space for your dynamic proxying so you aren't messing with the client's Legacy IP routing at all.