There are way too many news stories about the Microsoft/Google PR debacle for me to even deal with. I'm a little puzzled what exactly Google would gain from this other than some twisted outright buy scenario. I think MS has the whole branding thing mixed up again. You cannot buy something that people like because it works and switch it around to suit your agenda and hope that the muddled mediocrity will hold up for a couple of months until you ride the corpse into the ground. Alta Vista anyone?
The other option is that Microsoft actually knows that any cross pollination is doomed from the start and is hoping to bury Google by partnering with them. Since the world is accustomed to the "nearly functional is good enough for them all" philosophy of Microsoft and they have a virtually unlimited supply of cash to burn on anything but actual software development Redmond sees itself coming out ahead in the deal. Bad bad bad idea. Then again it's about time for something new to unseat the current king of the hill. Too bad it has to happen in such an ugly and calculated way. Please leave your tinfoil hats in the basket on your way out the door.
As annoying as it often is, the Ditherati mailing list occasionally produces the odd gem and today's link to the Mercury story about Palm's (oh, I'm sorry. I guess that's PalmOne these days...) dumbass-licious split for licensing revenue is one of them.
PalmOne (and I really do feel like I'm talking about a masturbation addicted train bomber every single time I type that name) has been set on annoying the shit out of everyone for quite some time. At least they fixed the Handspring site to allow you to download software without entering a serial number. Yeesh. It's even worse when the download server refuses to accept a valid number.
I'm sure that this old news to folks actively involved in things library related but tonight was the first I've heard of Koha free catalog, circulation, and acquisition software for libraries. This is good news especially given the relatively (weigh the actual services rendered versus fee paid before you get all pissy and obnoxious about this classification) pricey fee required to use the standard library organizational system (or to dare even refer to it) and the ass clowns who own it being a litigious bunch.
Unfortunately at the moment (and this is being attacked like zombies on warm flesh) Koha can only import a single record in MARC format at a time. This is like the litmus for its usefulness to librarians so I imagine adoption will mushroom when full support is added to both database and front end. They deal with paid support the same way that Debian does: a list of consultants.
It's funny because I know very little about the actual software that most libraries use and what I do know comes from knowing slightly more about the standards but I'm fairly sure that most (strictly) commercial applications are not cheap and have much steeper requirements. The timing of this is fantastic for libraries not in places like New Zealand since institutions that traditionally depend on government funding in the U.S are getting their throats cuts to give corporations tax breaks. The library you'll find me at most often is pretty much fucked with the cuts they've endured on both state and federal level reducing not only spending on new books but their actual hours of operation on a fucking college campus no less.
OK. I'm going to admit that I have a day job working with the software of hate and terror and pose a question to the void (which probably means that Kenneth Hunt will show up in two hours and answer my question in that infuriatingly knowledgeable and calm fashion people who know what the hell they're doing often exhibit).
I really hope that this is not the only answer.
I'm not yet sure what to make of all the Nvu hype quite yet. I expected a fork in the Mozilla Composer project at some point but my confidence in Lindows to deliver anything but fluff is limited. Go look at the screenshots and then open up Mozilla composer. It's the same thing. I'm hoping to see something in the future that isn't just a vehicle for gratuitous logo display. Suspicious? Me? Never...
I know that this poor bastard has already received more than his fair share of attention from the monster than eats bandwidth but the whole story is really irritating. I was kinda hoping for some extra explanation from Scoble but I forgot that all of the flying monkeys are busy with the hypefest.
I'm really trying hard to be sympathetic about this in terms of contracts and whatnot but it simply isn't working.Michael was unfortunately a temp so in realistic terms doesn't have have ground to stand on. If you scrutinize the actual post that MS is firing over it doesn't contain much information. He even offered to take the offensive page down. The funny part about the whole arrangement is that Gates and company have really done more damage than possible good by canning the guy instead of working with him. If they were concerned with simple security I'd say that actually working with the alleged breach would be a much wiser option than having it listed on Slashdot. Duh.
I'm hoping that the publicity with work out and the guy will actually get a better job as a result. Apple could probably profit immensely in terms of public relations by picking this guy up. I can't really take sides here since I think both MS and Apple are pretty much evil but that scenario would probably be beneficial. He does have a page for donations if you're so equipped.
All of you nervous nellies can go ahead and step up to the plate. Jay Allen released the stable version of MT Blacklist so you too can eradicate comment spam. This piece of software should be the textbook example for how community driven software development really works. Jay deserves a halo.
OK. I ordered a new power supply today. Thanks for all the concern and grief giving. I don't like mucking with hardware but I can be shamed out of my apathy. Hardware is just so dusty...
I attended Max Brooks' book whoring session for the Zombie Survival Guide which was very funny and included a demonstration of a katana as the ultimate zombie fighting weapon. The question and answer period afterwards was actually funnier than the talk and slideshow. Brooks is banking on his quick wits and it's a pretty solid bet. The book isn't within my budget but given that it is more zombie related than most books available on campus I'll have to part with the cash eventually.
I tried once again to watch the trailers for the Dawn of the Dead remake but the versions of Quicktime and Windows Media Player (via CodeWeavers of course) are incapable of it. Guess I'll hop on a Windows box at work tomorrow. Oh the shame...
Misbehaving is probably the best new site I've seen in a long while. It is a good start at filling the huge gap between the involvement of women in technology and the perception (oftentimes by those who really should know better) and portrayal of women in relation to technology. We really need about fifty more sites in a similar vein. It's late so I'm going to leave it at that instead of launching into some longwinded babble about how great the site is. Just go there and start reading. There's a lot there already and all of it is worth checking out. Yes, that not babbling thing. I'll quit now. The ban on the cat sleeping with us has been temporarily lifted so I'm going to go snuggle up with my two favorite girls.
Ian Murdock made a pretty important announcement on one of the Debian developer mailing lists about an Anaconda installer port to Debian. This in itself is really good news because the lack of hardware detection during a Debian install is something that's really marred the public perception of the distribution and arguably what gave rise to commercial Debian distributions like Libranet and some others. A pairing of this port with the new installer (and the Gtk frontend for it) under frantically active development could resolve a lot of this.
There's been more than a fair amount of teeth gnashing about the necessity of python as part of the base install but IMHO it's a pretty minimal compromise for getting around a lot of ugliness that's involved in the present installer. Most people who say that their first Debian install was completely easy and painless are probably lying. Mine was nightmarish although as the cranks on IRC will be more than happy to tell you until your ears bleed and your brain turns to mush I did learn a lot about my hardware and how it actually works. I never had anything against the old boot floppies installer but it really is time to move forward here kids. Given the infinite configurability of a Debian install and the fanactical dedication to choice over simplicity in the development of Debian I cannot imagine an installer for dummies that simply made all of the choices for you and dumped you into a multi-gig installed base. If you read the lists which I have to say that I honestly rarely do you'll see that this issue is being discussed nearly to death.
Either way I'm glad to see Progeny actively developing again. It's unfortunate that PGI installer never took off but I'm glad to see that Progeny is still breaking new ground especially when it benefits the Debian project.
We have a show tonight (in a couple of hours) at a former shitty bar. I'm kinda sad to be part of bar gentrification but then again... I put some new photos up in case you want to look at pictures of my butt. It's been that kind of weekend.
I just had one of those nearly vomiting in terror moments when I realized that my desktop machine (which is the only machine in the house with a decent processor, cd burner, etc, etc) was not running and wouldn't power up. I think the power supply is blown but I don't have any handy rule of thumb to confirm that. What is probably going to happen is that I'm going to pay someone local to replace it for a little too much money because I'm really, really hesitant to mess with power supplies. There is no way that it could've happened at a worse time since I am so pathetically broke that it's laughable. I think the couple hundred that I spent on this wimpy old laptop was one of the best investments I've ever made. It's certainly saving my neck and sanity in this situation albeit at the price of feeling like I'm running a machine filled with molasses.
I'm amazed at how many companies are trying to pull off commercial Linux distributions that basically amount to replacing the 'K' in the KDE menu with their freshly minted corporate logo and rebranding Open Office as something they've developed in house. This is one of the unfortunately ambiguous things that comes along with freely available and distributable software: vultures. Xdefine is the new kid on the block at least as far as I'm concerned since I've heard zero about them before finding them in the waiting room over at DistroWatch.
The weird part is that the whole site even down to the stock photography they've chosen and the ambiguity in a lotta of the marketing hot air is so strikingly similar to the Lindows brand of corporate Kool Aid that it really gives me pause. I'm wondering where the saturation point is for product like this. I can't tell what distribution they're altering and repackaging exactly because both RPM and apt are mentioned in reference to Xdefine. I dunno and it really doesn't matter because I'm sure they'll do everything in their power to hide that source from you. The hidden jab in that last sentence was both intentional and a cheap shot. Pardon me. How many big, shiny clones can the market really bear?
The community section of the Xdefine site is a howling wasteland thus far so it's almost impossible to know whether this particular attempt has even been used by anyone. It really makes me appreciate those super bare bones developer sites where everything is out in the open and there is no slickly designed house of cards to assert technical credibility -- just documentation and the code. Good luck folks because you're really going to need it.
I love new toys and by this I mean the software kind. It's one of the most fun things about running a fluid distribution like Debian -- knowing that new software in various stages of reliability is constantly being added to the archives. The sad part about it all is that all of that software is fun for a day or a couple of hours and then I forget about it almost immediately. BloGTK is most certainly a piece of software that I'll forget about in a day's time but not because it's poorly written or does not do what it is intended to do. To quote the main BloGTK site:
BloGTK is a weblog client that allows you to post to your weblog from Linux without the need for a separate browser window.
and plays nice with Blogger and Movable Type. You get all the standard stuff that IE users get like automagic italics, bold, and anchor tags from the editor as well as a preview function and some tools to create links, tables, and to handle images. It's a pretty solid little client and the website is an entertaining read. If you're running Linux and don't want to twiddle around with hand editing HTML tags this might be a time saver. It isn't a tool that I find necessary but I'm sure many folks would simply adore the thing and how easy it is to use. I only managed to crash the application once and that was mainly because I didn't read the FAQ before mucking around with it. I'm adding this to the list of applications to watch in the future.
Strangely enough Elliot Smith is dead. I didn't even need to read the text of the article to guess that it was suicide. I've never been a fan (although I did kinda like his old band Heatmiser) but it's still sad albeit distant news. I am a little creeped out by the method he chose. It seems a little painful and drawn out.
Yoon pointed out this article (which will eventually be here given the lame and incredibly non-specific archiving system the Washington City Paper uses) about Fugazi allegedly destroying the music scene in D.C. If you've ever read just about anything written about them it should all sound terribly familiar.
What I think is comical about it is not only is it about five hundred words too long but that the writer uses the thing as some kind of springboard to bemoan the state of rock and roll as not sex, drugs, and rock and roll enough for him. Sad little troll -- I'm sure Ted Nugent and the remains of the Rolling Stones are touring right now and you can witness the sad and shambling ends of the rock star fixation. It's amazing that more than a decade and gallons of ink spilled later people still don't get the idea of people playing music because they love doing it instead of entertainment for people watching it. The obligatory stupid quote:
The truth is that rock 'n' roll doesn't want you to become a better human being. It wants you to damage your hearing. It wants you to drink heavily, gobble illicit little pills without knowing what they are, and drive your car at insane speeds smack into a K-hole.
This is what archival footage is for and I'm pretty fucking happy there is something out there that isn't the same as debauched because we're supposed to be vibe that most of the hair metal that was going on when Fugazi formed in the late 1980's because, holy fuck, that is the really ritualized and boring stuff. I'm pretty sure that you could just watch Eddie and the Cruisers a few dozen times if you're feeling all disappointed. If not, there are plenty of sprayed on young bands that will be more than happy to sell you whatever it is that you think rock music needs and laugh at your sorry ass when you drop the change.
I just posted some new Midcentury songs over at the site. Scroll down if you're interested but be forewarned that they're the initial mix (now referred to as a rough mix and testament to what happens when you try to mix 11 songs in five or six hours) and levels are not where we want them. In any case they're much better or at least more audible than the 4 track stuff that's been sitting there for the past year. It's amazing how crappy it all sounds now.
I'll rip some of the final mix later this week assuming that we actually master this week. Those songs are a place holder of sorts but are probably more representative of what we sound like now instead of the "cardboard boxes being banged together"-phonic sound of Matt's 4 track.
Crap. Please don't append the -pundit suffix to my domain name yet but the French court system has handed down an incredibly stupid ruling on the trade marking of search terms. In this case it's against Google which is one of the few companies with the cash reserves to battle this one out in a foreign court system. Nonetheless, the implications (trade marking search terms seems like a idea so incredibly bad that it verges on unbelievable) are potentially awful and the whole thing stinks to high heaven of an emulation of the American system of litigating your way to profitability.
But the court found for the plaintiff on all three issues, said Fabrice Dariot, who owns the trademark to "Bourse des Vols" and sued Google. Dariot said that while the fine was small, the decision could be important.
"It was as though the Internet and the real world were two different worlds, but this ruling shows that there is only one world," he said in an interview. "It shows that the Internet will have to respect intellectual property rights."
Sounds awfully familiar doesn't it? Good thing for the lawyers that the Internet is one tightly organized community of single minded folks with pockets all but bursting with cash to shore up failing businesses worldwide. It's good to see that other parts of the world are joining the United States in our seemingly inevitable shit slide to hell.
One of the things that I've learned to take for granted using Linux for so long is that the important applications are incredibly reliable. I don't use incredibly complicated applications for crucial things but I'm often surprised by how robust the ones I stick with are.
Emacs is my favorite text editor by far (it's actually what I'm composing in right now) but I use Kate for most coding and/or scripting these days because I like a lot of its little features and the simplicity of reconfiguring the whole damn editor when I decide that I need something else for a situation. Anyway, I usually consider Kate more unstable than most of the tried and true software that I depend on. Anyway, the point to all of this meandering: I actually logged out of my laptop for the first time in a couple of weeks and naturally quit out of all my applications. When I logged back in and restarted the editor it was a new version that my old pal apt had upgraded a week ago. I love that feeling of near certainty.
The funniest things I've heard all evening is from a junior/senior AP English research paper so I feel justified sneering at the youth.
Yes abortion is a form of murder due to the fact that life begins at contraception
OK. Now get off my fucking lawn, robot.
I feel simultaneously good and evil. I bathed the cat. She smells less like her litter box but I think she hates me now. Since I already feel like an evil bastard I might as well talk about the big stupid thing since everyone has either decided that itunes for Windows is the coolest thing since tabasco flavored beef jerky or is the worst application ever written and released as product. I had to boot into the XP partition for a really stupid reason and the OS is already broken as shit anyway (from the non-networked use of Office and a printer for chrissakes) so I decided to grab a copy of it. I only need one sentence to relay my opinion: no single application should use 70 percent of a modern processor to just sit there doing nothing. If the performance is really that bad (and I did let it sit for ten or fifteen minutes just to see) there really isn't any more to say. Well, maybe "nice publicity stunt" or something but nothing critical.
John Gruber has a better summary of the cheeseball promo schtick with Pepsi than I ever will. Maybe I'll try again after a fresh install but probably not since that partition has next to nothing on it and the less that I have to install over the top of every couple of months the better.
Oh man, Texstar, one of the driving forces behind PCLinux Online is taking an extended break from both the site and his famous RPM repositories where Mandrake folk were able to load up on the new and non-broken goodies for a long time. The announcement is posted over at PCLO and already has 88 comments attached. Enjoy your break Texstar and thanks for making my limited Mandrake usage all that much more enjoyable.
Yoon went out for sushi with some other folks so I fired up the default background noise and am very happy to be sitting here with my ass wedged deeply in the couch. Usually not having some kind of agenda makes me too twitchy to really enjoy it but right now it feels just about perfect.
Jay Rosen has a list of What's Radical About the Weblog Form in Journalism? that's short but detailed and worth reading. I especially like his emphasis on the scale of weblogs as communication tools being irrelevant to their success. I've met and interacted with people that I wouldn't have met in normal circumstances and learned a ton in the process. Just today I ended up talking to the developer of a software project that I like and found out first hand the reasons and potential resolutions for problems I had with it. While I might not stir the masses or anything, that sort of response really does beat the hell of Dear Abby. I'm always wary of comparisons between journalism and weblogging because they're entirely different things that share a couple of common aspects but I think it's the continual effort to compare the two that is most irritating. I think that maintaining that seperation while not flatly rejecting influence or borrowing one way or the other is probably the most healthy relationship that the two can share. Neither side needs the other in any case.
I'm trying to run a wajig verification run of the packages on my laptop but midway through when all of the failed checksums started to pile up I realized that I use a ton of unofficial sources hosed the whole process up. I'm thinking this may be a small project for me to think about for the future and simmer a while on a back burner. It's probably a bit too specific to even bother chalking out the pentagram and pinging the Lazy Web over. Wajig is a nice extension of dpkg/apt capabilities but I'd love to see it work with non-official apt sources. Thinking...
Cranky Rant About Weblogging Warning
I don't take weblogging as a phenomenon very seriously. By the time I decided that this site was going to be a weblog most of the so-called A list were already at it hammer and tongs. I don't have much personally invested in it as a more refined hobbyist type thing. Anil Dash mentioned the John Markoff interview where he basically blows off weblogs as the equivalent to the CB radio. Huh. In case you're not familiar with Markoff he's a technology writer for NY Times who co-authored one of the books about Kevin Mitnick and isn't highly regarded by the clueful although he can write an entertaining paragraph or two without question.
That really isn't the point here, though. The point is that people seem to misunderstand the fundamental commonality between webloggers; there isn't one. It seems like once a week (and probably more often if I'd pay attention) some tech journalist is blabbing about how weblogs definitely aren't going to change the world or how they'll never be the dot com bubble elixir to the waning tech job market. Duh. It's one of the things I really dread about tech journalism -- the anal attention to buzzwords and the continual rehash of buzzwords until they are meaningless. I'm sure the exact same was said about the crap-rific first generation of Geocities sites. Of course they weren't profitable and didn't change much of anything but they were a playground for ideas and gave people space to tinker with things in a public space. Damn the medium all you want to but it really doesn't matter. Something like weblogging is always going to exist regardless of tenured approval. Reporters who are supposed to be covering technology for major newspapers ought to have something more interesting or insightful to say and not waste their time telling me that I'm wasting my time.
Well, Liferea made it into Debian unstable this afternoon and it's still very crashy. I tried to add Kenneth's feed to it several times and it took down the whole app three times. I love that it's so lightweight but that lack of stability is really what keeps me using Straw over any of the alternatives. Strangely, I've seen a whole bunch of harsh criticism of Straw but it's the only aggregator I've used (at least in the Linux realm) that reliably does what it is supposed to with few glitches and doesn't try to take over the entire desktop. I'm still playing with Liferea in hopes that it will eventually be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.
I'm doing a little code revision of my own and looking through old scripts. My transition to python is the only reason I can do this given the obscurity half life of my old flame perl. I have to say that I'm always suspicious of python's for iteration and that it actually works. For some reason for each just seems more semantically acceptable to me although the python implementation basically encapsulates that functionality. I think it's a sort of reassurance that you're doing the right thing by doing things the hard way. Again, the stupid work ethic rears its ugly head even when I'm using it as an excuse to shirk school work. I found this statement in some of my code and it reminds me that I am not funny:kumquat.append(pdiddy)
I'm holding off on putting up any new songs at the Midcentury site because we're going to remix the whole damn thing next week. After enough listens it became obvious to all of us that our 11 songs recorded, mixed, and mastered in two days strategy was short sighted and the levels were horrible. My guitar is really muddy and way too low in the mix. I'll pay more attention the next time, I promise.
Yes, /. mentioned this story this morning but I'm actually going to mention it as well because I think it's a fine example of the sort of business journalism that keeps SCOX stock from crawling back into the slimepit of stagnation for another thousand year slumber. I've never had much enthusiasm for Forbes or even for the audience that it caters to but this story is laying it on thick as hell:
In some ways, these Free Software Foundation "enforcement actions" can be more dangerous than a typical copyright spat, because usually copyright holders seek money--say, royalties on the product that infringing companies are selling. But the Free Software Foundation doesn't want royalties--it wants you to burn down your house, or at the very least share it with cloners.
That is actually pretty tame compared to some of the other analogies the author draws but I picked that chunk because I thought the equation between sharing and burning your house down was more comical than most of the other instances. Nothing like a bunch of tiresome free market suits to liven up the morning.
Ahhh, nothing like looking at the search results for the morning:
1. Irish potato famine hoax
2. map of the rought (sic) that Columbus took
3. wide woman sex in America
and the one question pitched out into the void:
4. Is perl easy?
I have the answer to one of these questions from the Python humor page:
EXTERIOR: DAGOBAH -- DAY
With Yoda strapped to his back, Luke climbs up one of the
many thick vines that grow in the swamp until he reaches the
Dagobah statistics lab. Panting heavily, he continues his
exercises -- grepping, installing new packages, logging in as
root, and writing replacements for two-year-old shell scripts
YODA: Code! Yes. A programmer's strength flows from code maintainability.
But beware of Perl. Terse syntax... more than one way to do it...
default variables. The dark side of code maintainability are they.
Easily they flow, quick to join you when code you write. If once
you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny,
consume you it will.
LUKE: Is Perl better than Python?
YODA: No... no... no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.
LUKE: But how will I know why Python is better than Perl?
YODA: You will know. When your code you try to read six months from
At least that one was easy...
Installation of what really should be called Jay Allen's Bid for Sainthood went as smoothly as I could ever hope for and the configuration/transubstantiation interface is simply great and powerfully simple. If you haven't looked yet, you really, really should. If you owe me any favors please consider dropping some cash on Jay because he did more to help you out in a couple of sleepless nights than most folks do in a month. Thank you!
Python Owns Us switched from Blogger to homegrown goodness. I'm glad to see anyone with code chops getting off the simplicity at the price of desirable features crackpipe and I'm curious what the future will hold. Maybe a Zopeless Pythonic weblog application for the tired and unwashed masses? Jarno also gives us the list of imaginary Python books on his reading list which may be redundant for list lurkers but is still pretty funny. I was bummed when the site went on short hiatus and I'm glad to see it back in a new and more powerful form.
Mark Pilgrim is too nice. Although I understand the empathy in a weird secondhand way and I hope the guy cleans up I cannot wish him well. Maybe it's an issue of class but I have a much harder time sympathizing with the wealthy which is sort of similar to the way they can pretend that I don't exist. This might be a feature/bug of being extremely tired and the crankiness that comes with it.
The Hall of Technical Documentation Weirdness is worth a visit for a chuckle or two.