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User Journal

Journal: Debian as a "working" model for democracy

Journal by ThePhilips

Fun to watch "democracy" at work at Debian. Now 2+ years old social bug Please decide on Python interpreter packages maintainership opened by Python DDs, complaining about poor communication skills of the Python maintainer and request for his replacement, is still open. After two years, lots of emotions, personal involvement of the DPL and total silence from the actual Python maintainer being discussed, the CTTE seems to be reaching consensus that maintainer shouldn't be changed: because situation somewhat eased over the two years, but mostly because he is good guy, esp when talking to important Debian people, e.g. CTTE members. And he's also maintainer of many other important packages in Debian so pissing him off is quite dangerous. The most ironic part, is the last message (last as of writing) mentioning that the Python maintainer is again at it.

User Journal

Journal: More choice is less? PC market, I'm looking at you! 2

Journal by ThePhilips

Interview with Barry Schwartz on Colbert Report, where he "explains why people are paralyzed with indecision when they're offered too many choices."

In a way, an eye opener. I started scratching my back trying to recall when/why that happened to me. Because I had immediately the feeling that it had been happening to me more than often. And then I have recalled.

Buying the computers and PC parts.

Why I bought an Apple MacBook? Because I spent too much time trying to configure a perfect notebook for myself from HP and Lenovo. Way too many choices. Impossible to pick one. Went to the online Apple store: two product lines (plain v. pro) further differentiated by a screen size. Input screen size, input amount of money one's ready to spend - and you get the deal.

Building a desktop was similar experience. Went with cheapest (of recently released) dual-core AMD because figuring out best deal on more expensive Intel CPUs started slowly driving me nuts.

Movies

Journal: EULAs reaches new low 1

Journal by ThePhilips

As was posted on BoingBoing (originally on BoingBoing Gadgets by John Brownlee):

[...] watching Sleeping Beauty on Blu-Ray requires that you accede to over 120 pages of legal garbage in various EULAs before you can start the movie.

And Cory Doctorow has a bit more to add on other EULA abuses from Disney:

Disney has a sickness when it comes to abusive EULAs and contracts. I once had to cancel a speech at Imagineering because the legal department wanted me to sign something saying that I'd never use the word "Disney" in print again without permission. The Laugh Factory attraction at Disney World's Tomorrowland had a ridiculous EULA on a sign (you agreed to the terms by passing under the sign) (!) in which you promised that any jokes you suggested were your own and that you would indemnify Disney from any copyright suits arising from the telling of the jokes (the sign was not a joke). As though eight year olds can form contracts (they can't), by standing under signs (they can't), and as though most jokes people tell are original (they aren't).

What's next? Jokes with EULAs requiring you to laugh? And hearing the joke means that you agreed to EULA automatically?

Software

Journal: Six Nations "Just Say No" to ISO/IEC

Journal by ThePhilips

Fresh very informative entry ConsortiumInfo.org blog:

The latest blowback from the OOXML adoption process emerged last Friday in Brasilia, Brazil. This newest challenge to the continued relevance of ISO and IEC was thrown when major IT agencies of six nations - Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, Paraguay, South Africa and Venezuela - signed a declaration that deploring the refusal of ISO and IEC to further review the appeals submitted by the National Bodies of four nations.

Seems, the saga isn't yet over. Andy also linked to the new initiatives Civil ICT Rights and The Hague Declaration aimed to protect privacy and free speech rights in digital age.

Main question is: might ISO be an organization governments can trust on sensitive standards? Or new body, vendor neutral, dedicated to IT standards, should be established?

Linux Business

Journal: Are Linux File Systems poor performers? 2

Journal by ThePhilips

Found fancy article which is lambasting Linux File Systems as being unsuitable for servers and big loads. It is even hard to debunk article which starts like:

And what was Linux's initial target market? A Microsoft desktop replacement, of course.

and then goes into some theoretical technical problems - theoretical because no real world task is given as an example of what is affected by the problems. Since article is presented as being written by "industry consultant with 27 years experience in high-performance computing and storage" and contains unproven load of facts, it is pretty hard to swallow. Especially after many I/O intensive tasks I have accomplished on Linux. What will be /. judgment of the article?

User Journal

Journal: The 2007 International Privacy Ranking

Journal by ThePhilips
Fresh report from Privacy International is in. From key findings:

The 2007 rankings indicate an overall worsening of privacy protection across the world, reflecting an increase in surveillance and a declining performance o privacy safeguards. Surveillance initiatives initiated by Brussels have caused a substantial decline in privacy across Europe, eroding protections even in those countries that have shown a traditionally high regard for privacy. The lowest ranking countries in the survey continue to be Malaysia, Russia and China. The highest-ranking countries in 2007 are Greece, Romania and Canada. The 2006 leader, Germany, slipped significantly in the 2007 rankings, dropping from 1st to 7th place behind Portugal and Slovenia. The worst ranking EU country is the United Kingdom, which again fell into the "black" category along with Russia and Singapore. However for the first time Scotland has been given its own ranking score and performed significantly better than England & Wales. Despite political shifts in the US Congress, surveillance initiatives in the US continue to expand, affecting visitors and citizens alike.

User Journal

Journal: 10 illegal job interview questions 1

Journal by ThePhilips

Interesting (and rather old story) on Tech Republic: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/10things/?p=229:

Although HR departments should be aware of questions that are illegal to ask prospective employees, some hiring managers aren't so savvy. Many illegal questions are easy for just about anyone with elementary social graces to avoid, but others might surprise you. In general, you should not ask interviewees about their age, race, national origin, marital or parental status, or disabilities.

List of innocent questions and small talk stuff is in the article. Enlightening read.

User Journal

Journal: Open source video editing still has a long way to go 1

Journal by ThePhilips

Here is Roblimo's take on Linux video editing state of affairs:

Kino captures video (although not high-definition video) competently through a FireWire port, and Cinelerra can do most video editing tasks if you are willing to spend three to ten times as long doing them as you would with Vegas or Final Cut.

I do not have a high opinion of Cinelerra. If you are accustomed to Sony Vegas, Final Cut, Avid or other high-end video editing packages, you will find Cinelerra painfully clunky. Of course, once you've gotten used to really good video editing software, you won't like most proprietary consumer-level video editing products, either, not even MainActor (for Linux or Windows), which costs more than three times as much as the much more capable Magix Movie Edit Pro (for Windows only).

I have had no luck using Jahshaka, and although I have downloaded GStreamer-based PiTiVi from the Ubuntu archives, so far I have not gotten it to start up successfully, let along do anything useful with it.

Bugs. Crashes. Clunkiness and over complication. We've seen it before.

"It's OK to spend money to make money":

I did my first "video" edits with film and razor blades, so I am often amazed at how easy it has gotten -- with high-level proprietary software -- to turn out professional-quality video work, and I am especially amazed that it now can be done on an inexpensive desktop computer instead of requiring a special, high-powered workstation. Beyond those miracles, asking for my video editing software to be free (in either sense) almost seems like too much.

Linux's state of muiltimedia support seems to be always on catch up - with three-four years lag compared to Mac/Windows solutions. Now authoring became a hot topic - and Linux development community again is seen as bunch of amateurs. What is kind of true in the context.

RTFA worth reading - if like to know that you are not alone with your video editing problems under Linux.

User Journal

Journal: eBay security conspiracy catches on with readers

Journal by ThePhilips

Interesting RTFA - in comments from readers section - posted on ElReg.

One of the quotes:

It looks like the hacker gained VPN access to the internal eBay network. That, along with the fact that they don't stored hashed passwords but plain text ones is a very likely explanation of what is happening. So it's just plain old fashioned hacking which leads to disastrous results because eBay's bad security design.

Seems like eBay got itself compromised. I doubt that so much of eBayer computers' got 0wned. And the fact that crackers started immediately posting scam/auctions seem to point into direction of organized criminals who penetrate eBay's intranet or buy client accounts from its employees - to sell fitting account information to scammers. Original ElReg's story here is also worth reading. Quote:

A month later, Auction Guild was back, this time with evidence that a Romanian hacker going by the name Vladuz had developed and was circulating a sophisticated tool that reads confidential information residing on eBay's internal network, allowing attackers free reign of virtually any account and a trove of information that could be used in phishing attacks.

In short: stay away from such lucrative scam target as eBay.

P.S. Screen shots of the aforementioned tool from Vladuz.

PC Games (Games)

Journal: Korea: EA "started giving away the game" FIFA Online

Journal by ThePhilips

Interesting report on IHT:

"FIFA 07," a video game for soccer fans, costs around 50 in Europe. In South Korea, five million players have downloaded the online version free -- yet Electronic Arts, the publisher, is cheering them on.

Realizing that it was impossible to sell "FIFA Online" in a country where piracy is rampant, Electronic Arts started giving away the game last spring. Once the players were hooked, the company offered for sale ways to gain an edge on opponents; extending the career of a star player, for instance, costs less than $1. Since May, Electronic Arts has sold 700,000 of these enhancements.

Not that EA can helps its margins with such numbers, but yet the practice - of competitive pricing - still seems more plausible one than misguided anti-piracy onslaughts. (*) I know that similar practice was used by several publishers to sell games in Russia: games were officially priced at 2-3 times what they cost on black market: $5-8 against fixed rate of $2.5 for CD/DVD of black market. It's stupid to expect people to pay they monthly income for a mere computer game.

(*) Misguided, because most of the "pirates" - consumers buying games on black market in 3rd world - are largely not affected by the anti-piracy measures: sellers are stripping them before pressing bootleg copies. It's only customers - honest ones - in main markets like US/EU/Japan struggle through the all copy-protection bumps.

Media

Journal: EMI is in trouble

Journal by ThePhilips

Funny article on Bloomberg: EMI Ousts Top Music Executives, Forecasts Lower Sales. Quote:

EMI Group Plc, the U.K. record company that signed the Beatles, ousted its two top music executives and forecast lower revenue after disappointing holiday sales.

Alain Levy will leave after five years as chief executive officer of the recorded music division. David Munns, the unit's vice chairman, will also step down.

Key quote:

EMI's revenue has declined as downloads failed to make up for business lost to piracy.

Not that we beleived the crap before. But what's interesting - is the timing. The anouncement comes as follow up to another article discussed on Slashdot recently.

P.S.

Downloads accounted for 8.5 percent of EMI's revenue in the fiscal first half, up from 5.4 percent in the previous year. That wasn't enough to make up for losses to piracy.

Notice they quote percents - not raw money numbers. Nearly 60% rise of sales, what is not that bad. $0.70 from each song sold isn't making up for $10+ they made on every CD before. Does that surprise anyone?

User Journal

Journal: Re: MySQL Quietly Drops Support For Debian Linux

Journal by ThePhilips

From MySQL Quietly Drops Support For Debian Linux:

MySQL now supports only two Linux distributions -- Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

Read between lines: MySQL had given up on vanilla Linux kernel and all its pesky VM bugs.

Well, at least that was my experience of MySQL on vanilla kernel: trying to rebuild index for table of size several times bigger than RAM brings system completely down. Though miraculously it did worked ok when booted into RH shipped kernel. Go figure.

Edit1. Well Okay they clarified the issue. There is no problems of supporting MySQL on other Linux system. Mea culpa for not waiting for official news.

Unix

Journal: Case GPL v. anti-trust regulations concluded.

Journal by ThePhilips

Interesting C|Net piece How GPL fits in with the future of antitrust regulation about case which wanted to challenge GPL on anti-trust grounds. Quotes:

The plaintiff in the case, Daniel Wallace, has wanted to compete with Linux by offering a derivative work or by writing an operating system from the ground up. He argued that he has been barred from doing so, while Linux and its derivatives can be obtained at no charge. He asserted that IBM, Red Hat and Novell have conspired to eliminate competition in the operating-system market by making Linux available at an "unbeatable" price: free.

The court found Wallace's theory to be "faulty substantively." The decision pointed out that "the goal of antitrust law is to use rivalry to keep prices low for consumers' benefit." Here, the court concluded that Wallace sought to employ "antitrust law to drive prices up," which would "turn (antitrust law) on its head."

Common sense prevailed.

Software

Journal: ODF Interoperability

Journal by ThePhilips

OpenDocument Fellowship has done some interoperability testing. Sadly, no ODF suit/application has as of yet received "5 out of 5 stars" conformance/interoperability mark.

KOffice and OO.o are noted as having problems with each other documents - specifically images. Or to put it bluntly, goal of interoperability is more than just far away. But at moment it is clear that price is major driving force behind the office suits so interoperability apparently had been lowered to second priority.

I wonder how would OASIS.org handle interoperability of ODF suits in future. Apparently interoperability with M$Office is still higher in list of OO.o priorities - compared to fellow ODF suits / standalone applications.

P.S.

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