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# 2005-02-01 Software

The Advanced Bash-Scripting Guide looks totally impressive.

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Everything I have learned about bash scripting, I have learned from that guide.

LionKimbro 2005-02-03 07:12 UTC

Some other links that I liked and from where I learnt some things:

on the ibm site:

There are a bunch of really great tutorials on ibm developerWorks site sed by example awk by example Living in emacs, I should add this one to the emacs wiki, and much much more java perl python xml haskell socket …………..

Elsewhere:

PierreGaston 2005-02-03 11:18 UTC

# 2005-02-02 Software

Hatte heute eine Diskussion auf #lots.ch über “soziale software” wo ich meine Argumente nochmal zusammenstellen musste. Die Gelegenheit will ich beim Schopf nehmen und das Zeug hier aufs Web stellen.

Es gibt verschieden Definitionen von “sozialer Software”. Hier rede ich von der reinen Verwaltung der Beziehungen, Software welche mir das folgende bietet:

1. mich beschreiben
2. eine Liste meiner Freunde zu pflegen
3. dieses Netzwerk zu erforschen und via Kontaktmöglichkeiten zu nutzen

Ich rede also nicht von UseNet, MailingLists, Wiki (WhatIsaWiki), InternetRelayChat, etc.

Ich will gute Beziehungen pflegen. Aber es bringt mir sehr wenig, wenn ich die Freunde meiner Freunde via Software “kennenlerne”. Wie würde mir die Software helfen? Habe ich zu zuviele Freunde und Mühe mit Prioritäten, Terminen?

Mein Zugang ist dieser: Welche Probleme will ich lösen? Welche fragen soll mir die Software beantworten?

Klar machen Visualisation und Surfen im sozialen Netz meiner Freundesfreunde Spass. Aber macht es wirklich mehr Spass als ins Kino zu gehen oder ein Buch zu lesen? Auch “Unterhaltung” muss man im Kontext sehen.

Um das Dasein nicht in Einsamkeit zu fristen braucht man ja keine Software. Wer davon ausgeht, scheint mir von einem pathologisch asozialen Menschen auszugehen, der niemanden kennt und über das Netz nach Freunden mit ähnlichen Interessen sucht. Ich vermute aber dass der Markt für solche Leute sehr klein ist…

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# 2005-02-03 Micropayment

I closed my PayPal account today. Nobody ever sent me any money. It wasn’t real MicroPayment like ScottMcCloud wanted it, and I had heard some gruesome stories on http://paypalsucks.com/, so when my account got flagged for a security check, I decided to opt out. If you still want to send me money, donate to some charity and let me know.

Having read ScottMcCloud’s two books on understanding and reinventing comics, and hoping for “true micro-payment” after having read about it on JakobNielsen’s AlertBox, I decided to take a look at Scott’s website again. And he was using a service he claimed to be “not evil”!

I joined, paying $3.00 with my credit card. And I downloaded “The Right Number” part one and two, and read them. A comic written in Flash. Interesting. I enjoyed it, even if the story was weird. At ¢25 per part, it felt like it was a fair deal. The use of Flash was cool. Things moved on, I felt. This is important in a story that is essentially static, introspective. But I knew JefRaskin’s ZoomingInterfaceParadigm (ZIP), and yesterday I looked at a Flash demo of that. It was impressive, too. Maybe not at first sight. But when he said “if you are lost, just zoom out” – it felt a click. My recent interest in diagram drawing (see CategoryDiagram on CommunityWiki) points me in the same direction. What if we could have “layers” of documents. High level diagrams, and then – instead of “zooming in” – just “fade in” deeper levels. Connect things with trails. Use small text samples. (The ZIP demo uses complete papers in the demo. Those I found them hard to read.) Like comics. Zooming. Fading in and out. Use trails to guide people. Use pacing as in comics. Anyway. Micropayment. It might be cool. I wonder if EmacsWiki users would use micro-payments to donate? What about Oddmuse users? I think I’d send a dollar for freenode.net. I once paid$5.00 for freenode.net via PayPal, I think. But PayPal kept $2.00, if I remember correctly. I don’t remember anymore. Some time back I also investigated the Affero thing. I don’t remember the details. I think I felt their overhead was too hight, too. I wonder what BitPass's overhead is. Hm. There are no setup or monthly fees. For BitPass Pro - For items priced$0.01-$5.00, the transaction fee is 15%. - For items priced$5.00 and higher, the transaction fee is 5% + $0.50. For BitPass Studios - For items priced$0.01-$5.00, the transaction fee is 30%. - For items priced$5.00 and higher, the transaction fee is 10% + $1.00.  Payout for “earners” is via PayPal or the Automated Clearing House (ACH). Should I try to get my PayPal account back? Tags: Comments on 2005-02-03 Micropayment What about e-gold and related systems? Cf. http://goldify.net/ bpt 2005-02-07 05:08 UTC It has been a long time since I looked at e-gold. I basically looked at what ScottMcCloud was suggesting because I know he has been a micropayment nut before I even knew about it. So I took the bait, registered, uploaded$3 and tried the micropayment system on Scott's site by buying his comic.

AlexSchroeder 2005-02-07 15:46 UTC

hmm. Coincidence coincidence. I don't remember to have ever seen a ref. to e-gold before this comment, and today I followed a link in a forum post that lead me to this page and scrolled down the page to discover a link to e-gold! maybe It's just that e-gold is in wider use than I think and I never noticed these links ….

PierreGaston 2005-02-07 16:41 UTC

I always wonder: If people would like to support EmacsWiki – how would they prefer doing it? What do you think? Personally I don't often support particular projects because I offer my own work without asking for support, either. I wonder how much money actually comes together this way…

AlexSchroeder 2005-02-08 12:07 UTC

# 2005-02-03 Patents

Maybe the whole mess will be reevaluated after all! Heise writes:

Der Beschluss des Rechtsausschusses des EU-Parlaments vom gestrigen Mittwoch, der Kommission den Neustart des Verfahrens für die Richtlinie über die Patentierbarkeit “computerimplementierter Erfindungen” eindringlich ans Herz zu legen, hat im Lager der Softwarepatentgegner so manchen Sektkorken knallen lassen. [1]

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# 2005-02-03 Wikis

Translated some diagrams for the upcoming LOTS.ch event: Community:Kategorie Wiki. Only for German readers, I guess.

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# 2005-02-04 Games

It seems we’ll be trying some pen & paper roleplaying again. Weird! The game master has decided to use the Generic Universal RolePlaying System (GURPS) Lite rules… (English/German PDFs) More info in German on the Pegasus site, more info in English on the Steve Jackson Games site.

I remember Steve Jackson Games from BruceSterling’s Hacker Crackdown which I read ages ago. The searches and seizures remind me a bit of the current war on terror craze… Every time paranoia comes around, it seems to get worse. Or… efficient. I sure hope that while our infrastructure (media, culture) allows efficient spreading of paranoia, it is even more efficient when spreading knowledge and wisdom.

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Funny you should mention this now. I've been playing this old game called "Realms of Arkania" these days. It's a computer version of a german paper RPG. According to the underdogs site[1], the original game was/is called "Das Schwarze Auge". Heard of it?

It's so complicated that it's driving me nuts. Tons of gods, spells, people, puzzles, quests and stuff. I'm at my wits end on how to manage it all.

NoufalIbrahim 2005-02-06 15:05 UTC

Das Schwarze Auge was the system I started with! And – get this! – my mother introduced me to it because some friends she knew had gotten a copy from Germany. We were living in Portugal at the time and there was not much stuff in German available.

AlexSchroeder 2005-02-06 17:21 UTC

Heh heh. Then you should try playing Realms of Arkania. I'm still trying to sort out which deity to pray to at which temple and how much to offer him/her.

NoufalIbrahim 2005-02-07 07:59 UTC

# 2005-02-06 Software

Thinking about an Apple mini or an Apple iBook 12”. They look sexy. And I need something to take along to conferences or workshops. I need a way to make presentations and demonstrate Oddmuse. I’d love to buy a 2nd hand Apple iBook 12” for USD 500 or CHF 700 or less. And I’d like the seller to live in Zürich, Zug, Luzern, Baden, or Bern – places I visit regularly. Any ideas?

I’d love to buy an Apple mini for at home, but I recenly bought this other machine in parts and assembled it myself. I think I have an emotional bond, now… In a few years, perhaps.

I wonder how hard it will be to get a webserver and Perl with some CPAN modules running on the iBook.

Any serious recommendationd against an Apple iBook 12” as a secondary sytem for occasional use? I don’t mind low-rez because my desktop also uses 1024x768 on a 15” monitor. I just bought the smallest and cheapest one available and I am very happy with it.

Will it be difficult to share files between the SlackWare desktop and the iBook?

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I have an iBook.

The iBook really is an ordinary Unix machine with a spiffy GUI on top. The webserver comes preinstalled, as well as Perl and Python. Even a CLI Emacs is there. So you should have no problems installing an oddmuse. There’s also http://fink.sf.net which gives you a plethora of unix software.

Moving files between the iBook and my Linux server is just as you’d expect, ssh or rsync or unison or whatever.

HTH, Dirk

DirkBernhardt 2005-02-07 04:53 UTC

Thanks for the reassurance. I think I will buy the 12” iBook…

AlexSchroeder 2005-02-07 15:46 UTC

# 2005-02-07

Working in the office in Zug right now. Different firewall. No IRC.

# 2005-02-07 Patents

To see the negatice effect of software patents, see the latest example in Japan, where Matsushita (Panasonic, Technics) has managed to get all sales of the only MS Word competitor Ichitaro by Justsystem prohibited and all existing copies ordered to be destroyed. Heise Link (German)

I predict that we will a lot more software patent courtcases as the original companies who registered the patent go bankrupt. As their remaining property is being sold, software patents will be bought by new companies specializing of squeezing the most out of everybody else. Companies that cannot be blackmailed using counter-lawsuits because they themselves are not in the IT business. Lawyers, basically.

Like that case of the patent on some 3D grafic thing that got bought by lawyers who then sued all grafic card producing companies:

Texas-based law firm McKool Smith has sued 12 major game publishers and is threatening legal action against several smaller companies as well. Electronic Arts, Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, Activision, Atari, THQ, Vivendi Universal Games, Sega, Square Enix, Tecmo, LucasArts, and Namco Hometek are all named as defendants in the case. Game Daily Biz

At the same time the situation in Europe is confusing. On the one hand, the “Rechtsausschuss” has suggest to restart the process. At the same time there’s yet another opportunity to accept software patents (eventhough that would probably mean ignoring the European parliament). Until now Poland has been defending our position against software patents in Europe. But it seems that international pressure is about to shut Poland up. Damn. Heise Link (German)

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I bought an Apple 12” iBook!

I am totally amazed – I don’t think I ever made the decisision ot buy a gadget that fast. It looks neat. But…

I was a bit disappointed.

1. I have not figured out how to fill in forms without using the mouse.
2. The registration process required a street address and other things that I feel Apple has no need to know.
3. At first I configured the system without having the cable modem plugged in. When I plugged it in later, the cable modem needed a reboot. It took me a while to realize it, and so my first experience in setting up the connection to the Internet was suboptimal.

Time passes… I found out how to use the trackpad for clicking (I find the mouse button hard to press). I also found the setting that allows me to drag items over longer distances eventhough the touchpad is tiny – now a “drag” ends when I click again (and a click can be done by tapping the touchpad because of the other setting)… Now that makes sense: tap, drag, drag, drag, tap to release. Much better. I think I acticated keyboard shortcuts for all sorts of things, I just need to learn the actual shortcuts.

I even remembered my AIM password, so now I can use iChat (kensanata is the name).

Found the terminal, too, and looked at /usr/bin.

Installing the Fink installer… Installing apache2, installing Oddmuse… Yes! My wiki runs on the iBook!

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Congratulations on the purchase. It does seem like a great thing to work with, and I've been thinking about buying a similar small laptop later this year. Be sure to post now and then what you use it for and if you're pleased with it. How about a picture of it?

– Tim Cambrant 2005-02-08 19:44 UTC

Welcome to the club.

To turn on forms jumping, go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > tick "full keyboard access".

Try either fink or darwinports for getting unixy software.

Try uControl from source to remap caps lock to control.

Have fun!

DirkBernhardt 2005-02-08 19:50 UTC

In case you want to use you monitor and touchstream keyboard you might want to buy a kvm switch like this one. I have this one and it takes 2 or 3 seconds when you switch, it seems to act as if you unplug the keyboard from one computer to plug it in the other one so the drivers are unloaded/loaded everytime you switch, but it works.

PierreGaston 2005-02-08 22:41 UTC

Detailed review Alex! Congratulations.

NoufalIbrahim 2005-02-09 08:18 UTC

Congrats, Alex! I am still waiting for my 15" powerbook to arrive.

Keep us informed

Jean Pierre 2005-02-09 14:41 UTC

Oh man, your room is so not child-safe, it's not even funny.

What you must understand is: "Child-safe" is not about keeping your child safe. "Child-safe" means more like: Keeping your room safe from a child.

If kaijyuu were in there- 10 minutes later- all that stuff is all over the floor.

Not child-safe. Not child-safe at all.

It's just begging for Sakura to come over and mess it all up.

LionKimbro 2005-02-13 04:53 UTC

OMG, It looks nice.

V 2005-02-13 14:38 UTC

At work the original picture I uploaded was too dark, while at home it looked ok… So I installed Gimp for Windows and edited it again. I really like this look of my pictures. I take them with my digital camera without flash so they have too much yellow due to the electric light and not enough colors, and then I fiddle with the color levels using just the black/grey/white pipettes. Simple process, pleasing result. Now it looks very artificial, dreamlike, too bright, too colorful, surreal. Love it.

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Suisa wants CHF 0.12 per MB RAM for audio devices. If you have a 1G iPod, that will cost you CHF 120 extra (about USD 100). Of course everybody is enraged.

Die Verwertungsgesellschaften beantragen eine Vergütung von Fr. 1.04 pro Gigabyte (GB) Aufnahmekapazität für Audio-Aufnahmegeräte (z.B. iPod) und Fr. 1.27/GB für audiovisuelle Aufnahmegeräte (z.B. digitale Set-top-Box mit Harddisc oder Videoharddiscrecorder). Für Audiospeichergeräte mit einem Mikrochip soll die Vergütung 12 Rappen pro Megabyte betragen. [1]

I say we agree to this, if and only if we're allowed to copy and share any and all audio files we want. That would be a truly revolutionary, forward-looking, future-proof, innovative financing mechanism for future generations of authors. Don’t you agree?

No more DRM. No more copy protection. No more crippled hardware that doesn’t allow digital copies from device to device.

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Unfortunately the "if" part will most likely not be. In france there is a specific tax(1976) on photcopiers that goes directly to book publishers and I think the same kind of tax is applied on CD-R and DVD-R. (It may still be a proposal).

This may be true in other countries as well.

PierreGaston 2005-02-09 12:16 UTC

Yeah, this kind of taxation also exists here in Switzerland. What I'm thinking of is some kind of spin. If you pay this tax for a tape, you can record any music you want on it. The crucial difference is that now we want digital copies instead of analog copies. So if the price is outrageous, we should demand more.

AlexSchroeder 2005-02-09 12:52 UTC

Hmm I've read a bit more the previous link, and if I understand correctly, in France since 1995 an author that gets published, or has been published (paper format) must give up her right to reproduce her work (book paper whatever) to a organisation. So she can't say, I've earned enough money go on makes copies of my work, and this has nothing to do with a contract with a publisher, she just can't, if someone wants to make a copy of the work he must give money to the origanisation that owns the right to reproduce it.

The article was written in 1996, I wonder if the law is still there.

PierreGaston 2005-02-09 12:53 UTC

The same is true in Switzerland. If you join one of these organisations (and almost anybody in the text, music of movie business does), then you cannot specify that no fees are due at a concert where your music is played, for example. A direct implementation of the CreativeCommons licenses is therefore problematic. We're trying to convince these organisations to help us change this. I think our chances are good, because DRM-lobbies also don't like them. If DRM ever takes off, these organisations might be abolished completely. This is why I think they should be interested in working together with us.

AlexSchroeder 2005-02-09 14:47 UTC

Hey, iChat doesn’t do IRC? I had to install irssi via fink.

Further usability issues. I like the dock. But how can I add new stuff to it? Will it maintain the list of most used apps by itself? The dock has a small indicator for the applications currently running. I was initially confused that I could “switch” to the application without any windows appearing – most applications allow you to close every window belonging to it, so that only the main menu at the top of the screen changes.

I really like Apple's Exposé feature: Hit F9 to see thumbs of the application windows, and click on one of them. Hit F10 to see all the other windows of the same application. Hit F11 to see the desktop. If you read the Apple description of this feature, you’ll see their marketing droids at full-drivel.

I think I need wifi at home.

I also think that I should tell all my friends to use my Gmail address. When I’m on holidays or travelling, I’ll only be able to access my Gmail, since gnu.org is full of mailing list stuff I don’t want to read when on holidays, and emacswiki.org mail cannot be accessed from a web browser (which is important if I go to an Internet café while abroad – no SSH, no Thunderbird, etc).

I’m curious about Apple’s Mail tool, however. How does it compare? I’m both curious to learn how Apple does things and affraid of vendor lock-in if I start to use things. Which way should I go?

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Control-click on an icon in the dock. See “keep in dock”? klick it. the icon will remain in the dock.

Apple’s Mail is ok – I use it to access my IMAP server. On linux, I use Thunderbird to access it. Remotely, I use the www frontend squirrelmail. best of all worlds!

DirkBernhardt 2005-02-09 10:50 UTC

Hehe. Can you configure Apple’s Mail for IMAP + SSL, though? It didn’t offer this when I first configured it. Perhaps it’s like Thunderbird where you cannot do it either, until you have started the application and then you will find the checkbox in some config dialog…

AlexSchroeder 2005-02-09 11:24 UTC

You might be interested in what DougAlcorn says about MacOSXSoftware

PierreGaston 2005-02-09 11:51 UTC

You could drag an icon from the “Programme” folder to the dock, it will remain there as a shortcut.

Mail can do IMAP+SSL, just klick on “Mail” → “Einstellungen” → “Accounts” → “Erweitert” → “SSL verwenden”. I hope your OS X is in german but I’m sure you will also find this setting in the english version

Jean Pierre 2005-02-09 14:45 UTC

It is in German. Thanks for the help!

AlexSchroeder 2005-02-09 14:49 UTC

You’re welcome

I am still looking for a Mac Wiki as I find a new feature of OS X every day Did you order your iBook with Bluetooth? I am absolutely flabbergasted how easy synchronisation works with my mobile phone – out of the box! I still remember the pain to get the BT USB stick to work under Linux (not to mention the Windows installation problems…).

Perhaps you have an idea on how to bring all my mails and contacts from KDE’s KMail and Addressbook to Apple’s Mail and Addressbook? (For the mails, I could use IMAP, but then I would have to set up an IMAP server first…)

Jean Pierre 2005-02-09 17:17 UTC

No bluetooth. I didn’t expect it to work at all, so I didn’t even consider it. My mistake, perhaps.

AlexSchroeder 2005-02-09 17:20 UTC

I hear Mail uses simple mbox format; doesn’t KMail use it as well? In that case it should be possible to just copy the files to the appropriate location.

AlexSchroeder 2005-02-10 18:20 UTC

# 2005-02-09 Web

http://www.xs4all.nl/~egbg/counterscript.html

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Hm, found out how to add items to the doc – but haven’t found a way to remove them from the dock. I have the GarageBand thing, the iMovie thing, iPhoto, iTunes, all of them I will only need very rarely. Google google google… There it is, including a quicktime movie… Just use drag and drop. I think I’m not used to this. 😊

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Drag them with the option key pressed.

– Anonymous 2005-02-10 18:53 UTC

Just drag the icon from the dock to the trash bin – the same procedure goes for unmounting devices or image files (when you start dragging, the trash bin icon changes to an eject icon).

You will get used to this drag-and-drop-thing very fast 😊

Jean Pierre 2005-02-11 08:26 UTC

Do you have any experience with software upgrades on Mac OSX?

Today I deinstalled Microsoft Office Test Drive for Mac. It was a 30 day trial version – kind of like shareware with nag features. It was strange to see Microsoft so similar to shareware. I also looked at Apple Works for presentations for a few seconds. Must give it another look.

Started fiddling with my doc; added memos, simple text editor, terminal (for IRC), Sherlock (no use yet, but maybe translations later?). Removed iDvds, iMovies, iTunes, GarageBand. Not sure whether I’ll keep iCal.

I will have to buy wifi for my home. A router that allows me to connect both ethernet for the desktop and my Mac via wifi? I can’t read the marketdroid speak on their AirPort Express page. I think I need the base station since the iBook already comes with the card itself. And I don’t need the Extreme variant because I don’t want 50 clients.

Time passes.

Ok, got AirPort Express Base Station and I am online. The assistants can’t configure the stations, how weird. Not the same version of the software. I will download the software and firmware upgrades available from the AirPort Express page.

Time passes.

Configuration done. After the configuration a reboot was necessary. Is this still necessary these days!? I think the Express supports several computers on the network. Maybe I should try buying a wireless card for my desktop anyway. It would mean one cable less.

After the reboot, my iTunes started up. I hadn’t used it before. First thing once it starts up: iTunes is not available in your country, yet. Hey, do they have a P2P plugin?

Well, I decided to give it a try anyway, saw that they had free songs available, and wanted to download it. Heh. Need a Mac account. Ok, start typing. Uh-oh, country is hard-coded to “United States” but the rest of the address is Swiss… Well, don’t see a way to avoid that. Next… Credit card!? I don’t want to buy! Can’t leave it empty either. Grrrr…

Oh and somehow it realized that a new version was available (I think the only benefit being the support if the iPod Shuffle thing…) – so I installed it. Now that I want to start it, it needs a new QuickTime… Hm…

Click on Software upgrade… 7 new packages… ARGH!

On the other hand, listening to readio streams is working, and sending them to the AirPort Express Base Station works, and connecting the bases station to my stereo worked as well. So now I have the iTunes stuff coming out of the stereo in the living room. Wireless. Cool.

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# 2005-02-13

This is so weird… I just talked to LionKimbro via Skype. I never felt like installing the stuff on my Linux box, trying to find my headphones and microphone again, checking whether the soundcard actually worked or not, and so I postponed Skype forever. Now, with my new Mac, however, I felt inspired and installed it – Skype for OSX. And it looks cool. And it works. I searched for Lion Kimbro, found him, asked him for permission to add him to my buddy list, and he calls back immediately.

It reminded me of the fact that my spoken Enligsh is very rusty. I need a few hours to get back into English. I feel… clumsy. The tongue is to slow for the strange sounds, the brain is slugging along, trying to remember words, and basically I waste a lot of my brain-power on the language alone. Reminds me of the time when SunirShah visited. He talked so fast, my brain literally slowed down to a crawl because understanding what he was saying was taking up so much time, I had trouble concentrating on my answers. When my output is limited by my typing skill, things are different.

Anyway, my Skype ID is kensanata…

I have a hard time getting the terminal settings right on OSX so that I can type umlauts (äöü) and see a difference between backspace and C-h (^H) both on my local system and on another host I connect to via ssh. One of them seems to be amiss every time. Argh!

The current situation after some restarting of terminals and all that is that the only thing that does not work is umlauts in the shell in the terminal of OSX. When I start Emacs in that shell, however, umlauts work. Once I ssh to another host, umlauts work in both the (remote) shell and Emacs. Weird. It gets better: When I switch from bash to zsh, it works again. This is documented in the OSX documentation, so I wonder what it means.

I think it means that even Macs have rough edges when hackers start using them.

I’ve also noticed (but not recorded) instances where keybindings were not 100% consistent, eg. the backspace key would not delete items, or the overloading of the arrow keys with the option key, the alt key, the shift key, and the fn key is totally not intuitive… Oh well.

I keep switching between zsh and bash every two years, it seems.

I’ve basically switched all of my mail stuff from Emacs to the Apple Mail tool. It looks a lot like Thunderbird, and I was planning to switch to Thunderbird a while back. I did the switch at work and liked what I saw. The only thing I might end up missing is my BBDB. We’ll see about that.

And we’ll see what I’m going to do with Claudia…

What I really hate about Safari is that there seems to be no undo in textareas! This is terrible for wikiheadz like me…

I feel the urge to buy an iSight camera for video conferencing… I doubt skype is supported, however.

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You will find Skype for OS X here: http://www.skype.com/products/skype/macosx/

But I don't know if cameras are supported as I am using skype only for voice calls.

Jean Pierre 2005-02-14 16:48 UTC

Oh, I just saw that you already know Skype for OS X – shame on me

Jean Pierre 2005-02-14 16:49 UTC

I think iSight works well with iChat – you only need Skype if you want to call people on a real phone, I guess.

AlexSchroeder 2005-02-14 18:16 UTC

# 2005-02-13 Software

Is it just me or is the “normal looking” payload of spam on the increase? I get a few lines of spam followed by paragraphs of text from biology discussions, Near East observations, etc. The random list of natural words was not good enough; the fight against spam goes into the next round.

Since I’m the owner of a Mac now, and since I know nothing of BSD and OSX, I decided to follow a link to this article: A Security Primer for Mac OS X, by François Joseph de Kermadec, 2004-02-20.

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# 2005-02-13 Wikis

I think the instructions for the Oddmuse installation on Mac OSX are complete, now. See Oddmuse:Mac.

I also packed some of the diagrams into a presentation I am going to give on Oddmuse. I wonder if anybody is going to show up. Last time it was full of CMS people.

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# 2005-02-14

Claudia arrived in Beirut some time after midnight today. At the office I see the BBC headlines: Beirut struck by car bomb attack.

Ugh.

Got an SMS – she did feel the blast and see the smoke, but she (and her friend) is unhurt. The country is grieving now, and I imagine she’s disappointed because all the shops are closed, no dancing, no partying…

OMG, this sounds so scary!

V 2005-02-25 10:41 UTC

# 2005-02-14 Software

I saw an Steve Roy's Address Book Importer… I think this will help me move my BBDB into my iBook. Well, I decided to give bbdb-vcard-export a look, and fiddled with it (one of the things I found out after some trial and errors was that the Mac Addressbook wants UTF-16). For hours. The import just kept crashing on one of the files. Terrible. And with the keyboard problems (arrow keys sometimes not working, home/end/pgup/pgdown sometimes not working, or backspace sometimes not working, using the shell and mc has turned into boring crappy repetetive work. This is no fun.

I also found out how to use ssh-agent on OSX. I chose to install the separate SSH Agent tool because the docs mentioned that you could set the CVS_RSH variable in preferences, while the first page explained how to define global variables using XML files… Yuck!

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# 2005-02-15 Books

Not really a boo, but if you are interested in security, don’t just read newsitems related to security problems. Read BruceSchneier’s CryptoGram for a clear-headed approach to analyzing security news.

Another good one is the occasional essay from PaulGraham. It seems to be full of quotable stuff.

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# 2005-02-15 Pictures

Claudia also brought back some pics from Beirut and Byblos.

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# 2005-02-15 Software

I think I will have to do some BBDB-to-vcard coding myself. Damn. At least I found a “validator” – Text-vCard 1.93 has Text::vCard::Addressbook to read complete collections of vCards. Maybe that will help.

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I not seen you mention this:

http://www.mailmeanywhere.org/sw.free/neda/eoe/bbdbFilters/bbdb-filters/accessPage.html

maybe it helps…. – PierreGaston 2005-02-16 05:14 UTC

I decided to fix the BBDB vCard export file floating around on the net instead. See BbdbExporters.

AlexSchroeder 2005-02-16 10:09 UTC

# 2005-02-16 Software

Using MacIrssi on my iBook now. The stupid problems with the Terminal app wore me out. The alt key is either meta (which you basically need to quickly switch channels in irssi), or it is used for “hidden” characters like [ ] | \ { } and @ – things you need in every second sentence if you’re like me, haha. Yeah, probably only true on some European keyboards. I have a Swiss German keyboard.

I finally found what was nagging me about installing Perl modules from CPAN. I always got a weird message about a missing perl.h file. I found the solution on macosxhints.com: I was missing developer tools. I found something called Xcode Installer on my a harddisk and decided to install it after finding “Developer tools” in the PDF file nearby. And: Success!

Then I installed X using fink, and installed xfig. Works! The window manager is twm, however. Need to change that. That was the easy part, however, since xfig comes in a binary package. Inkscape only comes in a source package. I’m still compiling that one as I write.

Compiling takes forever on the iBook.

The only hackish thing I did was delete t/heuristic.t from URI-1.30.tar.gz because it kept failing,

Oh and isomer on #macosx recommended I use darwinports.org instead of fink. A bit too late; I don’t want to begin compiling again. And with fink I get to at least skip compiling X11 and friends. Those are available as binary packages.

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Ah, so you tried inkscape? impressive stuff

I've used 0.40 before on my SlackWare box, and it was ok; an earlier version I tried on my Debian box crashed about once every half hour. Totally impossible to decently work with it. So really the only reason I'm installing it is because of InkscapeToOddmuse and OddmuseToInkscape.

AlexSchroeder 2005-02-17 08:11 UTC

# 2005-02-17 Software

Installed Gimp from fink after I realized that Mac Gimp costs money. The argument they provide is compelling:

As the MacGIMP project, RedHat and others have shown, it is possible for both models to exist in parallel: open source and paid software. Mac users who want to install a compiler and build the GIMP with all of its libraries as we describe here, can have the software at no cost. They are also free to contribute their modifications back to the project. On the other hand, companies who need to be ensured that there is economic benefit to assure long-term availability of the software can also be satisfied. The MacGIMP server isn’t going offline because it provides economic incentive to its owners to be available on a 24x7x365 basis. A special note for GNU software advocates: in order for corporate adoption of GNU software to occur, it is helpful for there to exist corporate entities who can stand behind the product to ensure their availability. You advance the cause by promoting successful business models for GNU software. – Mat Caughron

But running “apt-get install gimp” or “fink install gimp” on the terminal is not too problematic either. Maybe I will get used to the idea of paying others for the compiling and packaging of the software, even though the authors of the software are not getting any of the money (I assume).

I’ve bought an Apple iBook with OSX, and Quartz is also not free… Oh well.

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Hmm, the argument might be valid, but I fail to see how it applies to macgimp.

To compare Macgimp with Redhat is not honest IMHO as Redhat puts significant efforts and resources in the development of its distriution. Even now for 179$you get support, product update, documentation, etc and redhat still supports Fedora and many other open source developments (gcc for instance). Compare this to 49$ for a CD when the effort seems limited to provide an up to date binary… ok building can be tricky but how many hours are devoted to this?

Also it says that paying ensure long term availability, which I think is more “it ensures availability while money comes in” which is a bit different. Moreover the macgimp site does not offer any guarantees to their customers (in fact I didn’t find any description of what it provides). For instance Microsoft or Industrial board manufacturers commits themselves to support their products for a given period.[1]. Without such a policy you can only hope that the company will continue to provides its products just like you hope the gimp developers will continue their efforts.

On the other hand macgimp is not ultimately bad:

“The MacGIMP project provides the latest GIMP for Mac OS X in a packaged CD format. The! MacGIMP project installs the GIMP in /opt/local/bin. MacGIMP efforts are led by Mat Caughron. Last year he helped the GIMP developers with a donation for their developers conference.” [2]

And it’s not a bad thing that someone asks money for his work. (but I feel that the price of macgimp is quite high, maybe I could buy a mac and propose the gimp for 10$, 20$ for a cd….. )

PierreGaston 2005-02-18 09:13 UTC

Yes, the interesting part is the discrepance between the effective value for his customers (time saved) and the effective value of his own efforts per CD and in comparison with other Gimp developers.

AlexSchroeder 2005-02-18 18:50 UTC

# 2005-02-18 Software

I’m at LOTS and listening to the keynote speech.

What did I like about Stefano Mazzocchi‘s talk:

1. He doesn’t like people that insult him for using non-free software on his laptop (an Apple). Freedom should be free – people should be free to choose freedom – or not.
2. He doesn’t believe in technological solutions against the power law “problem”: Any decentralized system will eventually form clusters.

Didn’t list to any other talk, was busy socializing and strengthening my social network – without any software. I like SunirShah’s way of putting it: I have a face. Use it.

Will be there tomorrow again.

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One of the main things that annoy me about FSF activists is that they never see proprietary software as an alternative, which takes away the freedom of choice from me. Why not just agree that there is tons of software out there and that one should use what best fits the purpose? I happen to think that Photoshop is a better (but much more expenisive) alternative to The Gimp, and that MS Office is the lesser of two evils when compared to OpenOffice, but also that IRSSI beats mIRC and whatnot. Free as in free choice, not free beer.

Tim Cambrant 2005-02-18 14:18 UTC

I don't see proprietary software as an alternative because it's not free On the other side (not the philosophical side, the practical side), proprietary software is a source of problems when you are managing a large-scale information infrastructure. You can't manage the information hidden by proprietary software vendor… You have to dig ourself in the problems, find way to correct the problem in the proprietary software and at the end the software vendor is saying : "Wait for next release". If you find this acceptable, ok… but software is very complex and you don't want to add complexity by hidding another layer. Proprietary software is an antinomy to software itself.

– Anonymous 2005-02-18 16:33 UTC

# 2005-02-20 Software

In the end I only joined one other talk at LOTS – the one on Open Forums. The rest of the time I talked with Christian Laux, Mike Widmer, and Jan Widmer of Openlaw, To Georg Greve of the FSF Europe, Myriam Schweingruber of WilhelmTux, Hansruedi Hänni who showed me how Asterix would work (I recently installed Skype so I’m getting more interested in making phone calls over the net), the head of research of shiftTHINK because we had met on #lots.ch before and talked about wikis and social networking (in German: 2005-02-02 Software). She mentioned tweakfest.ch in passing. I’ll have to investigate this. It seems to be some sort of festival:

Festival for media culture & digital lifestyle – tweakfest is an annual four day festival introduced in spring 2006 in the city of Zurich. tweakfest consits of a conference, art expositions, a science fair, a consumer electronics show, workshops, a creative lab, parties and networking lounges.

We should talk about FreeCulture and OpenContent, there! Last time I talked to somebody from the local arts school (Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst Zürich, HGZK) they were very interested.

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Heise writes about a “flat tax” for culture on the Internet – legalizing all music downloads and keeping us save from intrusive DRM systems that will invade our privacy unless we are able to offer a working alternative. [1] More on fairsharing.de (all of it in German).

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# 2005-02-21 Music

I’ve got an interesting mix on my MP3 player right now: Yes Boss Food Corner from Transglobal Underground, Legendary Fairuz from Lebanese diva Fairuz, and Ainda from Madredeus, and some random songs ripped from BigUpRadio I discovered from iTunes’ list of Internet radio stations. Yay!

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# 2005-02-21 Software

Apple’s Mail application looks similar to Thunderbird and so I decided to give it a try. One problem I was never able to solve was that I could not accept the certificate of one of my mail servers. I think the certificate was signed by an expired certificate, and that in turn was self signed, or something like that. In case Mail app locked up whenever I tried to drag the certificate onto the desktop (the first step in the process to accepting the certificate). Oh well, let’s try Thunderbird on OSX.

The first thing I noticed was that sometimes dialog boxes were not well-behaved – either not wide enough for the entire text (a localization problem maybe – longer German texts but fixed width message boxes?). The second thing was that Thunderbird did not interact with Apple’s Addressbook. Damn. And even more frustrating: Thunderbird’s addressbook doesn’t import vCards! The time I invested in exporting my BBDB data into vCards that Apple’s Addressbook could read was wasted.

The third thing I noticed was that Apple’s Mail had not deleted my mail from gnu.org after fetching them via POP3. I got over 650 mails from my gnu.org account. How aggravating.

Anyway, my Apple Dock now shows the Finder, Thunderbird, Firefox, MacIrssi, iChat, Skype, SSH Agent, iTunes, Terminal, Emacs, TextEdit, Notes, Inkscape, and Addressbook.

Something I noticed in Firefox just now was that tabbing through a form will skip checkboxes and buttons. Grrr! And backspace doesn’t go to the previous page.

Another I noticed in Thunderbird (for OSX) is that when you enable all headers, and the headers are longer than the entire window (as they invariably are), then there will be no vertical scrollbars to scroll the message. Grrr.

Then I went through about 500 mails in Thunderbird, classifying them as spam and ham, and then I clicked on the wrong menu so I had to do it all a second time. But now it’s down.

Claudia came back from Beirut and Istanbul yesterday, and fetchmail was acting up, so I migrated her stuff from fetchmail/Gnus to Thunderbird as well (on my SlackWare box).

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# 2005-02-22 Conferences

I’m leaving for Web Based Communities 2005 today. 😊 I hope they have wireless access over there, then I can be online from time to time.

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Pity that they didn't But then again I think it made people pay more attention to talks!

John. --

Cloud 2005-02-28 14:39 UTC

Hehe… I'm not sure. A BackChannel can also offer better immersion into the topic – and it might help to improve talks too. Too fast? Not loud enough? At another conference there was a discussion that was "logged" on IRC – not because there were many people on the channel but because there were many non-English speakers in the audience who might benefit from being able to read the text, and because the IRC log could then be posted on the blog and be reread later.

AlexSchroeder 2005-02-28 15:39 UTC

Oh, and I just saw you on #joiito…

AlexSchroeder 2005-02-28 16:52 UTC

# 2005-02-22 Software

Damn. The vCard project for Mozilla and Thunderbird is in hiatus – practically abandoned. Damn.

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Use an outlook express installed on a windows near you to import your vcards, next import the address book of outlook inside thunderbird. to import more than one vcard at a time try drag an drop. (I never tried all this, but it works for emails that I was only able to export as .eml from a mail client)

PierreGaston 2005-02-22 09:34 UTC

Hehe. No Outlook near me… But I think I can use Robert Fenk's bbdb-rf.el to produce a Thunderbird CSV file.

(add-to-list 'bbdb-csv-export-fields
'(thunderbird
("First Name" firstname)
("Last Name" lastname)
("Display Name" name)
("Nickname" aka)
("Primary Email" email)
("Secondary Email" email 1)
("Work Phone" phone "work" "office")
("Home Phone" phone "home")
("Fax Number" phone "fax")
("Pager Number" phone "pager")
("Mobile Number" phone ("mobile" "cell"))
("Home City" city "home")
("Home State" state "home")
("Home ZipCode" zip "home")
("Home Country" zip "country")
("Work City" city ("work" "office"))
("Work State" state ("work" "office"))
("Work ZipCode" zip ("work" "office"))
("Work Country" country ("work" "office"))
("Job Title")
("Department")
("Organization" company)
("Web Page 1" www)
("Web Page 2")
("Birth Year")
("Birth Month")
("Birth Day")
("Custom 1" mail-alias)
("Custom 2")
("Custom 3")
("Custom 4")
("Notes" notes)))
(setq bbdb-csv-export-type 'thunderbird)


I had problems with multiline notes, however. Rather than wrapping them all onto one line, I decided to try something else:

1. replace all instances of "", with , in the resulting bbdb.csv
2. replace all instances of the remaining "" with '

This will keep the linebreaks intact when importing, but it will replace doublequotes with singlequotes.

The one remaining problem is how to encode the file. When I export a file from Thunderbird, the encoding seems to be invalid: It's Latin-1 and UTF-8 mixed!?

AlexSchroeder 2005-02-22 10:12 UTC

I manually had to remove the four entries that cannot be encoded in Latin-1 and successfully imported the file!

AlexSchroeder 2005-02-22 10:24 UTC

Is there a way to do it the other way round ? As in, take the csv values exported from thunderbird, and then import it into bbdb ?

– Anupam 2005-04-14 04:47 UTC

Well, bbdb-rf.el only does export… So I guess you'd have to use some other package. One of the packages used for syncing with a PDA, perhaps?

AlexSchroeder 2005-04-14 10:01 UTC

http://www.mailmeanywhere.org/sw.free/neda/eoe/bbdbFilters/bbdb-filters/doc/bbdb-filters-ttytex/split/main.html

while searching for import/export options. I can't see where to get the code though.

– daudi 2005-05-08 14:12 UTC

here ?:

accessPage

bbdb-filters.tar.gz

– Anonymous 2005-05-08 15:11 UTC

Maybe I should start worrying about writing tools to edit (eg. merge) my Thunderbird address book.

AlexSchroeder 2005-05-11 23:01 UTC

# 2005-02-26

I'm back… Partied until 2:30 in the morning, went back to the hotel, showered, packed, and was picked up by my taxi at 4:00… Flew from Faro to Lisbon, switched planes, waited for an hour in the plane while they tried to figure out why their passenger count was off by one, and finally came back to Switzerland. Talked with Claudia for a bit, ate some pasta, and slept for 6h. It's now 22:30 and I'm wide awake…

# 2005-02-28 Conferences

Time to start writing about the stuff I did, papers noticed, talks liked, people I met…

Francesca Taponecco and Roya Foroughi were at the Applied Computing 2005 conference with some eLearning stuff. But they ended up listening in on a lot of Web Based Communities 2005 presentations. (Official Site) Why was that?

1. Applied Computing hat lots of papers. After all, what is not applied computing?
2. Web Based Communities was a lot about eLearning – learning together online, Asynchronous Learning Networks, etc. High buzz-word factor!
3. Web Based Communities 2005 was a lot smaller than Web Based Communities 2004. A lot less papers, only two tracks instead of one.

I had a wonderful chat with Matthias Finck and Monique Janneck about the design of social software – their CommSy design seems to have been guided by the very same guidelines that we have been using in wikilandia – SoftSecurity, GuidePosts, the things we called the WikiWay. I’ll have to read some of the papers they’ve written. Matthias is also interested in usability testing in free software projects, and Monique is interested in social software design from a usability and workflow perspective. How does the software affect the way we work, what kind of software do we want to work with? Anyway, that’s how I remember our talk over some Portuguese fish in a tiny restaurant in Carvoeiro. I really need to read more about their work. I’ve also had some wonderful off-topic chats with both of them on German politics, relationships, etc. (See OnAndOffTopic.) And I managed to jump into the ocean with Matthias, too!

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