Read Debian related stuff here and other stuff on the other blog.
The hockey fever has begun
With the opening of Turin Olympic games, the sport fever is officially on. Especially it is the fact in Latvia - this year is the ultimate hockey year: our team is in the Olympics and we have the world championship in our capital Riga in a couple months.
Tomorrow we have a chance at medals in biathlon and luge. I had no idea our guys were actually in top 5 there. That will be fun to watch tomorrow.
And on Wednesday the heat will be on: hockey, Latvia vs USA. We would have beaten USA to pulp at last years world championships if the judge would not have illegally rejected two goals shot by our team and given a large number of unfair penalties to our players. Even the coach of the USA team made a point after the game of saying that the judging was inadequate. However the real point is - we will crush you this time.
PS. I just found out that the championship is planned at the same time as the Debconf 6 in Mexico. NOOOOOOO!!!! This is the worst news - I'll miss all the fun. Crap. Really. Crap. I hope there will be some kind of coverage in Mexico.
Firefox backing up.
A bug is bugging me up, but it is unclear to me what is the cause, so no reporting or fixing is yet in sight - whenever I scroll up in Firefox using the mouse scroller there is ~10% chance that the "back" action will be executed. It has happened to me a lot of times now, and I haven't noticed similar symptoms in other programs.
Ubuntu Dapper, FF 1.5, USB mouse, HP nx6110 notebook. Any advise from the lazyweb?
So ... I tried to understand what this american football thing is all about. What got me interested in it was an anime from Japan called Eyeshield 21 where a boy that ran errants for bullies his whole school life goes into american football as a runner with his great speed and agility. That get me thinking about looking into that sport - it looked quite interesting in the anime.
Boy was I wrong.
So I watched the Superbowl XL - the biggest and most important event in the american football year. The first half was absolutely empty - nothing happened at all. The ads were much more interesting then the game. The halftime show was ok, not as good as ads.
And the second half just showed why this is the definitive american sport in the worst meaning of that - legalese. Steelers would have lost it the judges would have not interfered so much with the game. This sport has like hundreds of tiny rules that are very dependent on interpretation by the judges - that is what I call a sport for all the american lawyers to like. Cancelling several good Seahawks trows just because some guy was holding someone on the other part of the field, that must be givin an ecstasy for every law student. Not for me though.
And even without all that dilation with ridiculous rules (what's that stupidity with running clock and two minute warning ?!?) the game itself is kind of dumb - there are just too many people in the field for anything that a regular person can really understand. Strategies that almost never work out because of the other team interfering with their strategy. Too much chaos and still each person only does a one single thing. Even more - many of the players never will get any attention in the game just because they are on a supporting position, but the quarterback will always be the center of attention.
A very unbalanced game that is even more screwed by a ton of ads, a very heavy leaning on judging nitpicks and just 3-4 nice moments in the whole 1 hour game. I'll just stick back with hockey and anime :)
(image) (image) (image) (image)
Also at the school reunion I took a lot of photos - 217 to be exact. So, here are a couple of the best shots that (as I think) look quite nice even without knowing the people or the circumstances of the pictures.
Note to self: I seem to be getting good on candid portraits and architecture, but group photos, candid action photos and still life need a lot of work.
Note to my ex-classmates: dārgie klases biedri, visas manis uzņemtās fotogrāfijas jūs varat novilkt šeit
, ja tas links nedarbojas, vai jums vajag kādu bildi augstākā kvalitātē - sazinieties ar mani pa epastu vai telefonu.
On the weekend I was at the school reunion and among other matters I gave my school a present of 50 Ubuntu CDs to use in school and to give out to the pupils most interested in computers. After that I talked to my IT teacher who is now an IT adviser to the principal. It seems that all that we were taught in high school (Office software) is being move down to grade school and it is currently unclear, what will be taught to high school students. It could be programming, but it would take a large pile of time and money to prepare all the teachers for that.
It is quite a food for thought - find something challenging enough to teach at 11th and 12th grade to children that have learned all of word processing and presentation making while in their 5th grade and in the same time make it very easy to prepare 40+ year old teachers to teach that material.
In this context I find the project Little Wizard
very interesting - if basics of programming can be taught so easily, maybe we still have a chance of getting it into the mandatory curriculum.
Listening to some recordings of the Howard Stern show got me thinking about homosexuality. I try not to have any prejudices, so I tried to view this phenomenon from a purely logical point of view with as little external data as possible, so help me if I'm wrong.
Close relationships between two persons are generally understood to contain four separate components: sex, legal matters, social matters and romantic matters.
First of all it is said that, while the percentage of homosexual people is low, many heterosexual people have had some kind of homosexual experience either as an experimentation or as an accidental exposure. It also is believed that if the person in question is not physiologically repulsed by the concept (i.e. homofobic) then they can experience sexual pleasure regardless of the gender of the partner, number of partners or even absence of such. In all we can basically conclude that while homofobia is a sexual disorder (it disorders sexual function), homosexuality is not about sex at all.
The legal perspective is very inconclusive - in some parts of the world even having homosexual relationships can be illegal, but in other parts of the world homosexual marriages are not uncommon. Also all the legal stuff is there to help people that can not help themselves, especially minorities. So the legal part should be all for the equalising homosexuality to heterosexuality unless that does direct and irreparable harm to the society (which it seemingly does not).
From social perspective homosexual couples look to be living the life very similar to the heterosexual couples - there are some that are going wild and there are some that honour strong and stable relationships for decades and love to go to theatre. It could even seem that homosexual people tend to have a higher percentage of creative people and intellectuals.
The only think left is love. Call it a quick romantic encounter or a the love of the lifetime, but that seems to be the major descriptive difference with homosexually oriented people - they just fall in love with types of people that tend to be of same gender as themselves. It could be related to behavioural predispositions or differences in hormonal perception, but ultimately we do not know enough about love to fully understand that difference.
So at this point I can only conclude that until we understand all the hormonal processes and that "love" thingy, we could just as well start counting homosexual males and homosexual females as two additional genders that can not be fully understood by other two genders, just like men can not fully understand women and the other way around. This difference is as real and as effective as the difference between male and female genders or (stretching the analogy a bit too far) like the difference between races and should be honoured just as much as these differences are honoured.
And now I coin the terms "omale" and "ofmale" as the new homosexual male and female gender descriptors and "oman", "omen", "owman" and "owmen" as terms for single homosexual male, multiple homosexual males, single homosexual female and multiple homosexual females respectively.
Just watched the DVD version of the Aristocrats. It was one of the funniest jokes ever and each person telling it really changed the joke immensely. However if your sense of humour if even a bit under very good and if you can be easily disgusted by references to strange things, then forget that I wrote anything, or just watch it anyway to try to overcome that :)
Warning: do not in any circumstance allow a republican, anyone with a weak heart, or a child under 21 hear anything from that piece - you'd risk radical democratisation, a death stroke or a head filled with REALLY strange thoughts respectively.
Otherwise, just have fun and try not to die laughing :D
Got my plane tickets to Debconf 6 yesterday. I ordered the tickets on-line, but when I came to the travel agency's office, they had lost my reservation some how. I did not complain, because the new price the offered was 10 bucks lower then the one I reserved on-line (and it was for the exact same flights). Strange.
Anyway - Mexico, here I come!
On another note, I and two of my high school classmates spent 6+ hours yesterday preparing a present for our high school homeroom teacher. We prepared a book with a page for each student with a photo and description of what each of us is doing 5 years after graduation. The Homecoming is this Saturday. Should be fun.
It looks like the first Ice Age of the 2006 is retreating. For almost a full week we had to suffer temperatures in range of -25 to -30. I can remember that kind of cold setting in for a single day ... once in 5 years or so, but here we got almost a week of that horror. And they say that it is not over yet - there will be -25 again at the end of this week. After all this cold -9 tomorrow or -2 on Tuesday will be like a blessing.
The biggest problem that I have with this weather is that it is enough to get out of the house for 10 minutes to get to the nearby store and back and by sore throat is back for another day. Irritating.
Ok, I read the first GPLv3 draft. I found multiple problems, some good, some quite bad:
- Section 2 - The output from running it is covered by this License only if the output, given its content, constitutes a work based on the Program.: does this mean that documents written in Abiword is covered by GPL? (Edit: I misread the sentence here, it really states just the oposite of what I thought :P)
- Section 3 - Regardless of any other provision of this License, no permission is given to distribute covered works that illegally invade users' privacy, nor for modes of distribution that deny users that run covered works the full exercise of the legal rights granted by this License.: does this mean that one can not make a locked down system where users can not write outside the homedir, make /home a separate partition and mount it with noexec parameter thus denying all simple users the right of running modified versions of these programs (at least on this system)?
- Section 4. - You may copy and distribute verbatim copies of the Program's source code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you conspicuously and appropriately publish on each copy an appropriate copyright
notice;: does that mean that I have to write "Copyright by this and that and this and that and this and that" on every CD that I record in my home to give to my friends? It sounds as bad as the original BSD advertisement clause.
- Section 5.b - You must license the entire modified work, as a whole, under this License to anyone who comes into possession of a copy.: I suggest adding "legally" before "comes", because otherwise, for example, if a company is making an internal modification of a GPL program with some secret information embedded into the code (some very internal communication routine, passwords, codes, ...) and some industrial thief steals this modified code for a blackhat hacker, he can claim that he "came into possession of a copy" and thus he has all the legal rights use it and that no trade secret laws can apply.
- in some places "Corresponding Source" is used instead of "Complete Corresponding Source Code" (Edit: I was pointed to a place in the middle of the licence where "CS" is defined equal to "CCSC". Still, not the best style - either declare that upfront or use one style trough the document)
- Section 9. - it is not clearly stated that using the covered work indicates acceptance of the Licence, but it is explicitly stated for modification and propagation.
- Section 13. - I really do not like geographic limitations. Anyone can state "this program has a progress bar, which is patented in USA, so you can not use it in USA unless you have the patent" for basically any program thus very easily discriminating against quite a few people. If it is illegal by other means, leave it be illegal by those means - do not impose additional illegality on it via copyright. Law in some countries and patent situation can change more easily then the licence for old free software projects with many contributors.
I have not yet read any comments from either FSF or any other people and I am not a lawyer, but I hope that these problems will be fixed in next drafts.
Help needed for Simple Backup development.
I have long understood that to make a good free software project, having multiple authors/contributors is essential. To that end, while I am fixing bugs and writing a few new features into the main SBackup codebase (see Changelog
), I am inviting new people to contribute to SBackup development.
Many users have a need for an essential feature - backup to removable media. With current architecture of SBackup this goal is quite easy to achieve, but it would take a lot of time away from bugfixing and some other important features that I plan
to do before 1.0. Also this feature is very independent of the rest of code, so I think it would be great way for somebody else to help the development of SBackup to become the ultimate simple backup system for desktops and servers alike. I have written a specification
of how the new functionality (codenamed BackupBurner) should function and there is already a half-ready Glade interface in the source code.
So - volunteers, please step forward out of the cosy confines of the lazyweb :)
Just finished recovering from a cold that I got on New Years eve while taking a bunch of pictures. Sadly, the one on the right is the best :(
Also just finished writing a summary
of what I want to have completed/fixed before the 1.0 release of SBackup
. ~20 entries. Of them at least 3 are marked as "hard" - i.e. non-trivial or in other words: several tens or even hundreds of lines of code added and changed all over the codebase. This will take a while :( Assistance would be very welcome :)
Aggregation the G way.
I've been using the magic of RSS (and Atom) to keep up with Planet Debian, blogs of my friends, tech news and posts to an anime fan forum for the past several months, however one little problem bothered me - the forum has a lot of posts (sometimes more then 5 per minute) and an RSS feed of only last five items. That means that I had to have my RSS aggregator (Liferea) open at all times, so that I do not miss any posts. However keeping my laptop on and online at all times is quite bothersome, so I started looking for solutions.
I tried Google Reader
however I didn't like it much - I like to see more of my feed. There is too much screen space wasted for all the wrong reasons, one can only see 5 items at the time (which is quite a hassle if you have 500+ of them), a lot of info I would like to see is not there (which blog did this come from???), some strange html conversions, ...
Now I have found my solution. It is a combination of rss2email
. I have a computer that I always keep on and online (it could be a server, but in my case it is a simple workstation). I installed rss2email there, added all my feeds to the database there (hint: export feedlist from Liferea and do a bit of grep/sed magic), moded config so that all mails come from a single address, all have a custom identifiable header and all are HTML mails without any transformations. After that I configured cron to launch "r2e run" every half an hour and "r2e run 22" every minute (where '22' is the id of the feed of that anime forum). At Gmail side I simply filtered all mails from rss2email into a separate label and archived them (so that they do not clutter my inbox).
Now when I want to reed my feeds, I go to the last message of the RSS label in my Gmail, open it, read it, star it if I need to look at it later and then press "k" to get to the newer message. After I am done reading I usually go and remove RSS label from read messages, so that they do not appear in this labels "folder" and are only saved in Archive. If I start running out of space, I will simply search and delete old RSS items then.
Most of the screen space now is devoted to the message, I can see all the fields I want to see (source, author, topic, content, pictures, URLs) and I can manage messages by hundreds. Also being able to search both your mail and your rss feeds at the same time is neat.
Yesterday I did a little improvement to this scheme. The forum that I read has the title of every message made of "author: topic", so every message is a separate conversation in Gmail. I decided to try to use the conversation feature of Gmail and did a little modification to rss2email so that if the message is from this forum, then everything up to the first semicolon is cut from the title and inserted as a part of the name of the sender. In the end the subject of every message contains only the topic of the corresponding thread in the forum and thus all messages from one thread are neatly grouped together as a single conversation. At the same time every messages From: looks like "$forum_name $author " so that I can still see who wrote what in the forum.
New Year's Eve. No party to go to. Lots of time to spend reading up on my mailbox and working towards 1.0 release of sbackup.
However I will stop for a moment for a meme from my friend, Yume
The idea is to put all of your music collection into a player, put it on shuffle, ask a question and press next. "Me" is myself, "PL" is the player with my interpretation of results on the next line.
Me: What do I think about myself?
PL: Aqualung - Strange and beautiful
I like that, nice start! :)
Me: What do my friends think about me?
PL: Rammstein - Moskau
Old, yet new. Known, yet strange. Open, yet with lots more to explore. Money uber ales.
Me: What does my family think of me?
PL: Weezer - Buddy Holly
"...I don't care what they say about us anyway..." :)
Me: How will the next year be for me?
PL: Gloria Estefan - Turn the beat around
dynamic and revolutionary?
Me: Hmm, nothing comes to mind ...
PL: Madonna - Secret
"...Happiness lies in your own hands..." or "..my baby's got a secret.." ?
Me: Will this year be more romantic then the last?
PL: Jackson Browne - Sky Blue and Black
??? strange love song about the edge between lovers and friends
Me: Do I have a bright future?
PL: Roxette - Dangerous
lol. "Hold on tight...", "...You pack your bag, you take control..." sounds nice even if "a little bit dangerous" :)
Me: Will I become a President (or at least a MEP)?
PL: Celine Dion - If you asked me to
so it is possible, if I want it to and ask for it
Me: Will I get my Master's degree?
PL: Shiro Sagisu - Destiny avaits (From "Bleach" OST)
Good, so that is my destiny :)
Me: When will I buy myself an apartment or a house?
PL: Dream Academy - Life in a Northern Town
Not positive - "all the work shut down" and mentions of the Salvation Army and "they sat on the stoney ground", but "everyone else came down". On the other hand, living outside Riga in some more northern towns is much cheaper, so that's an option.
Me: What about renting, I hear that is more reasonable now, ne?
PL: Anastacia - Pretty Little Dum Dum
"illusion and deceit" mostly about self illusion, sounds like you want to say that I myself will not be satisfied with a rented place.
Me: Ok, that brings another question - if I start a company, will it be successful enough for me to buy/build a house without taking a mortage?
PL: Diana King - Shy Guy
song says that shy guys are sexy, is that a potential marketing pitch :$
Me: I didn't quite get it, could you a bit more clear about that?
PL: Anastacia - Time
"one day at a time", "timing is everything". now that is better.
Me: Now, should I really publish this blog post?
PL: Avril Lavigne - Not the only one
If you do it, do it now.
So I will.
It just came to me that if we accept the definition of "industry" (from the text of the software patent directive that EP had in first reading where it it was said) that industry basically is mass production of material goods, then there is no need for neither software industry not movie industry nor music industry - the production and distribution of copies is very efficiently achieved via the Internet. These industries are no longer needed by the society - they have no reason to exist.
Some might object - but where will the first copy come from? Well, that is not product of an industry, but a product of an artist. If originally said industries were created merely to copy and distribute works, now they are morphed into structures "supporting" artists. That is a clutch, that is not needed. There are other ways for artists to make a living off their art. Fanart and free software movement clearly shows that. Patents and copyright are just clutches for the falling industries. The clutches must go and giants must fall for progress towards knowledge society.
I would be glad if we could have professional musicians getting a minimal wage from the government. If your art has been downloaded by 10 000 people last year, you can get government pro-artist payroll. If you want more then minimal wage - do tours, sing in clubs, do advertisements, work in more then one art or get another job. I would be very glad to pay a tax for that if I could have free and unrestricted (copyright-free) access to all art of all artists. Call it art tax, device a maximum number of pro-artists the country can support via the tax, make qualification competitions, whatever. There is art without copyright. It is just not that expensive.
However, while the society will allow industries to suck their money, it will be very hard to change the situation as the very same money will be used to prove that said industries are worth supporting.
There are two ways: kick the crutches out (abolish patents and copyrights) or just move forward and ignore them and their crutches as we step through them towards freedom (develop free software, free media, free ... movements). Of course we can do the second until the first becomes viable.
In that context it is nice to see some funny lawmaking in France (a law project for "copy all you want for 5€/month") or WIPO saying that copyright is not really a right and it is quite a shame that word "right" is part of "copyright". Even reading about each new patent horror of USA court system becomes fun, because them worse it gets, the closer is the end. (Same with Bush :P)
now. True MVC
separation. Nice and powerful. Templates
are valid XHTML documents (and not a mess of gibberish
). Not much magic
. I hate magic. Especially when it fails. I look forward to writing a task tracking system for a very special project in this framework. More about the project when it is launched. You're gonna love it ;)
Also I am going to visit my family - they still have no Internet, so I'll be mostly offline 'till the New Year (except for this
). So I wish you all a Merry Christmas (note: there is absolutely nothing christian about Christmas - it existed like 2000 years before that character from Bible is born according to that book and in Latvian this day is called "Ziemassvētki" - "ziema" = winter, "svētki" = celebration) and a Happy New Year (if you are really an orthodox
christian, why do you count years the new, non-christian way? you should be celebrating New Year on 13th of January like Christ did and the Orthodox church still does, because it uses Julian Calendar
more then 420 years after it has been denounced)!
Oh, the fun of touting religious people ... of any religion ... :D Have fun everybody!
Footnote: in October I noted that there have been 11000 spam mails in my GMail spam box at that point (it stores only spam that has arrived in last 30 days). Today I am pleased to say that I can only see 4300 spam mails there today. It could be that GMail has implemented some procedures so that some spam does not even reach that folder, but I shall be very optimistic and say that amount of spam has declined! Maybe spammers are on holidays? If so, I wish they stay there :D
Ben from Eye
It is misty today in Riga this reminded me of the second oldest photo that I've taken and that is still on my harddrive. A photo taken by a simple dispensable camera, but still so nice :)
Christmas is coming and the longest nights of the year are here (in the Northern hemisphere that is). At this time of year I always want to remember about something nice and warm. This time it is the Jāņi/Līgo - Latvian national festivity dedicated to the shortest night of the year. Everyone is celebrating that - people lite fires before sunset and tries to keep the flame going until dawn thus bridging the two days together. Lots of beer, cheese and campfire grilled meat of all sorts is the order of the day. That's traditional. Also very traditional is the rain - there always is at least a bit of rain during the Līgo.
Anyway - these two photos of that midsummer night warmed up my midwinter night.
Today I was doing the free vs. open presentation and comparison by Lawrence Lessig came up, that having computers governing your live in cyberspace without access to the rules along which you are being governed (essentially the source code) is like living in a society where some or most laws are secret any only know to the law enforcement agencies. Like it was sometimes the case in USSR. So photo for today's photoblog entry comes from last day of 2003 that I spent in the city of Liepaja. It was a semi-military port town in the USSR times, but today it is a city of peaceful engineers and tinkerers with nice beaches and a very distinct and proud stance for the future. A free future.
I spent day preparing a presentation for tomorrow's "Open Christmas" celebration in Latvian University. One of my topics is "Free vs. Open: philosophy vs. presentation" about the various terms floating around the FLOSS movement: free, open, libre, shared, ... (and also their various translations to Latvian :P). This reminded me of the day I organised an event in Riga for the RMS's
Baltic Anti Software Patent rally in 2004.
Another idea came to me in shower - I've been reading up about MS Office 12 UI
changes and I think there are some very nice ideas there, but we can do better.
The main principle of the Ribbon is that all functions are there, but some are smaller then others based on their priority.
It came to me that when you design an UI in, for example, Glade you are basically creating a dynamic structure that can scale up or down. The only two things missing to make it a Ribbonesque interface are: 1. unique priority for each widget to decide which widgets to reduce/increase in size, 2. multiple size versions for each widget - buttons from 128x128px to 16x16px, ...
For situations when 16x16px is not enough for the widget (editbox, for example) one could make a micro button that brings up the rest of the widget as a popover when pressed or simply not show the widget. Less important widgets would simply not be displayed at smaller screen/window sizes (hidden behind a generic "+" icon meaning more functions in a category).
This would allow an application to use those huge screens of the future for bigger and more detailed buttons/widgets and at the same time would increase usability of applications at small screen sizes. Or maybe I am just thinking too far.
Here is a quick idea for you - Free Software tax.
Imagine a voluntary 1% tax that is collected by a non-profit US foundation from the people that signed up for the program. Imagine that amount exempt from the usual taxation. Imagine that money channelled to Eastern Europe or Russia or India or China or anywhere else where the cost of living is low and a lot of smart people live. Imagine then that students are hired for 4-10$/hour to work on free software tasks that are voted on by the "taxpayers".
So, anyone up to implement that? If you do, please contact me for coordination :)
Update: A USA foundation to get the money from USA, similar organisations in other countries would be needed to gather donations from that countries (in order for that money to be tax deducible). Of course students or other people from USA or Germany or UK or whatever would also be able to participate in getting the money, but the catch is - while 4$/hour in USA is half of the McDonalds pay, it is 4 times more then McDonalds pay their workers in Latvia. Quality control by feedback: after completion of a task - a mentor of the task leaves feedback in the profile of the worker.
We all know how over time our input devices get contaminated by particles from objects that tend to reside in our hands in between acts of data input. Basically I am speaking about those bread crumbles in the keyboard and that slightly sticky stuff that covers the buttons of a mouse after a few months of everyday usage. Today it got too much for me and I gave my mouse a bath - disassembled it and washed all non-electronic components with liquid hand soap. After a couple of minutes and drying with a paper towel, all the parts looked dry enough for a reassembly. The patient lived on, giving a much more pleasant tactile feedback to its user (me).
P.S. It looks like I botched the clicking feel that a wheel of a mouse makes when scrolled. I've heard that it is actually better so, let's try to find out by trying.
Catching up with unread blogs - Nat Friedmans blog
has two very interesting entries: one huge entry about parties (with lots of photos) and another about parkour featuring a bunch of Latvian-Russian guys from the second larges city of Latvia - Daugavpils, which is ~50 kilometres away from the place of my birth. The video has several scenes from the very centre of the city. While on that topic I must say that I have also done some soft parkour when I was ~10 years old - not like it was popular in the day, I was just naturally good with climbing, jumping and balancing on strange places. :)
Also note: It is possible to watch Google Video videos without Flash plugin - view the source of the video page, copy the first parameter that is passed to the Flash plugin (the one that starts with "http"), decode that with something like Python's urllib.unquote() and then pass to wget or even directly to totem. I didn't get sound from the stream, but as I also can gen no sound from Flash, I am not complaining.