# 2005-08-01 Comics

I bought the Daisy Kutter album by Kazu Kibuishi, the artist of the one and only Copper.

I’ve also read some Zita the Spacegirl.

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# 2005-08-01 Games

I’m plainy lots of Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath.

Yesterday a friend was here, and we played the obligatory Burnout 3 and then discovered to our delight that Pikmin 2 has a two player mode that is fun.

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# 2005-08-01 Patents

RichardStallman compares software patents to ficticious literary patents in a piece that appeared in the GuardianUnlimited: Software Patents and Literary Patents.

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# 2005-08-01 Web

I was looking for a shop to print T-shirts on. I had noticed one of them in the neighbourhood and tried to find their site. It took me quite a while, because there’s so much stuff having to do with “T-Shirt” and I had gotten the address wrong, searching for “Stauffacher” instead of “Kasernenstrasse”. I finally discovered that the shop belongs to a globalised corp – Bang-On. I link to their site because I liked their graphical design very much. It has some useless flash animations, just ignore those. Enjoy the pink backgrounds, the poster aesthetics, etc.

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# 2005-08-01 Wikis

I’m looking for a hotel during Wikimania in Frankfurt am Main…

Update: I will be staying at the Hotel Primus for 39€ per night, toilet outside in the aisle. Haven’t had that for a while! But I felt it was not worth an additional 16€ (about 50%) just to sit on the loo for as long as I want.

(When I showed the above text to Claudia, she thought it was my confirmation mail to the Hotel…)

I moved the Program to Wikimania 2005.

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As long as the toilet is not across the yard, it seems to be okey. Du bist aber ein Sparmeister! Vergiss nicht auf deine Reise nach Wien!!

– Helmut Schroeder 2005-08-01 20:53 UTC

Eben habe ich mich erinnert, du hattest doch gestern versucht ein Fahrkarte ueber das Internet zu kaufen. Vielleicht war das die Fahrkarte, die ich da oben anfrage?

– Helmut Schroeder 2005-08-01 21:03 UTC

Genau – zu der Fahrkarten nach Wien bin ich gar nicht gekommen, da ich schon unfähig war, die Fahrt Zürich - Frankfurt und zurück zu buchen. Was die Reise nach Österreich angeht, habe ich mir folgende Züge rausgesucht und werde morgen buchen:

 Richtung ab an Zürich → Wien Westbahnhof 2005-08-12 22:40 2005-08-13 8:03 Klagenfurt → Zürich 2005-08-21 22:17 2005-08-22 8:20

# 2005-08-02

I think I’ll rename this blog to “E-Commerce is Pure Hype”! Today I wanted to increase the coverage of my household insurance from CHF 40k to CHF 60k. Quick, determine the guy’s email address, and send it off. But oh no! There’s no such user anymore. And the emails are not being forwarded. Ok, check the company website. There a form. It is long. They want my policy number and my contact details. Huh, doesn’t the one automatically determine the other?

At the end, there was the question: Do you want to be contacted by us? And it asked me to enter either a phone or a fax number. No email?

Suddenly I imagined my mail getting lost in the mess and decided to make a phone call to start with. Done in two minutes.

Email, Web, and happy customers? Forget it. I got the phone number from a piece of paper. Email and web are a waste of (my) time when it comes to (them) making money.

# 2005-08-02 Wikis

I would have liked to print an Oddmuse T-Shirt or two for Wikimania.

• dinschrift.ch wants CHF 49 for a T-shirt, one color
• kami.ch has no prices online
• mcshirt.ch is under construction
• bang-on.com doesn’t allow me to bring my own logo
• adagcopy.ch has no prices online

I feel like a denizen of the last millenium!

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# 2005-08-03 Wikis

I’ve been reading up on WebDAV and dabbling with some code to integrate Oddmuse and WebDAV.

Right now I can start a little server, connect to it via the command-line client cadaver, and print the list of pages using ls.

What I did was create a new Filesys::Virtual::Oddmuse and implement such trivial functions as test, stat, and ls. While this will be limiting when implementing more functionality such as browsing older revisions, at the moment it seems like the method that promises quick small wins. And since most people will be interested in mounting a wiki as a filesystem, it would make perfect sense.

When I tried to connect to the server using the OSX Finder, it just hung until I killed by little server.

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# 2005-08-04 Switzerland

I just read an article on the WOZ frontpage by Josef Lang, national counselor for the Alternative party in Zug, representative of the Green fraction in the security commission:

1. 2005-05-25 the Swiss goverment published an arms deal with Israel worth CHF 150M – no more factual embargo, no more support for the peace initiative of foreign minister Micheline Calmy-Rey
2. 2005-05-27 the Swiss UN ambassador Peter Maurer demands a change in the Kosovo conflict in front of the security council – no longer supporting the UNO and EU position but asking for a clarification of the status even though the current government cannot guarantee minimal standards towards minorities etc. A position the USA has been supporting all along, the newspaper claims.
3. 2005-06-29 the Swiss government authorized the sale of 180 armored tracked vehicles to Iraq, 736 personnel carriers to Pakistan, a license to build anti-aircraft guns for India, and South Korea may overhaul up to 100 warheads for air-air missiles in Switzerland.
4. 2004-03-23 the Swiss goverment had refused dealing in arms with these countries.

What gives?

It seems that the improved relations with the USA were an important argument in favor of these deals when economy minister Joseph Deiss put forward his motion.

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# 2005-08-08 Web

Claudia’s Pakistani friend send her a joke via SMS. I offered her to search for a counter-joke on the web. After some googling we found something funny and shortened it down so that it would fit into 2 × 168 characters.

Then we looked around some more, and here’s one I really liked [1] – I guess I must be too intellectual…

Vajpayee, Musharraf, Madhuri Dixit and Margaret Thatcher are traveling in a train. The train suddenly goes through a tunnel and it gets completely dark. Suddenly there is a kissing sound and then a slap! The train comes out of the tunnel. Thatcher and Vajpayee are sitting there looking perplexed. Musharraf is bent over holding his face, which is red from an apparent slap. All of them remain diplomatic and nobody says anything.
Thatcher is thinking: “These Pakistanis are all crazy after Madhuri. Musharraf must have tried to kiss her in the tunnel. Very proper that she slapped him”
Madhuri is thinking: “Musharraf must have moved to kiss me, and kissed Margaret instead and got slapped.”
Musharraf is thinking: “Damn! it, Vajpayee must have tried to kiss Madhuri, she thought it was me and slapped! me.”
Vajpayee is thinking: “If this train goes through another tunnel, I could make another kissing sound and slap Musharraf again.”

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))

– zeno 2005-08-09 06:14 UTC

# 2005-08-09 Blogging

I started to use Bloglines to read my feeds after a recommendation by AadityaSood.

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How do you find it?

NoufalIbrahim 2005-08-10 06:40 UTC

Setting it up was a pain. At the moment it seems pretty cool. I like the option of hiding folders with no updates in them. Reminds me of Gnus.

AlexSchroeder 2005-08-10 09:31 UTC

What I like most about it is that the state is fully on the server. I can read maybe 50% at work and then come back home and read the rest on a different computer. Plus, I use the clipblog thing to keep a note of interesting stuff.

NoufalIbrahim 2005-08-10 11:17 UTC

Yeah, I need to experiment with that clipping feature.

AlexSchroeder 2005-08-10 12:20 UTC

I am using it and I like it.

V 2005-08-12 13:04 UTC

# 2005-08-09 Podcast

DaveWiner says what I’ve been thinking when I heard about bandwidth problems for podcast providers: “why isn’t […] using BitTorrent?” [1]

Indeed. Podcasting clients should include torrent clients, and publishers should publish torrents instead of just the files. Swamp the P2P networks with legal MP3 files and prove the suckers wrong.

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iPodderX has a torrent client included. The developer talks about it on CommandN.

StefanBucher 2005-08-10 21:11 UTC

Thanks for the pointer. I still feel very queasy about paying a license for software. I always compare it to the price of the operating system, which I bought together with the hardware. Upgrading my OS X costs about USD 130.

iPodderX costs about USD 30. I think that is very much overpriced.

Similarly, Path Finder costs about USD 35.

Now, consider that OS X consists of many tools, including iTunes and the Finder. The two replacements I mentioned already cost me 50% the OS X package. I don't think that is fair.

I am still very much entrenched in the FreeSoftware spirit.

AlexSchroeder 2005-08-10 22:07 UTC

Oh, yes. I agree.

StefanBucher 2005-08-11 07:11 UTC

Just today I found another interesting piece of software called Tinderbox.

USD 165.

Ugh. This is specially alienating for those of us that spend so much of our time improving free software, helping free software users – for free! Of course we also receive much in return: An operating system, editors, tools, browsers, mail clients, and so on – for free. In this gift economy, these price-tags and the proprietary nature of the packages offered are just… alienanting.

AlexSchroeder 2005-08-12 12:55 UTC

Alex --

Unfortunately, the people who design and build Tinderbox need to buy groceries, pay rent, and get to work every morning. I sympathize with the price tag issue, but we do keep the price as low as we can – and sometimes have terrific sales, too.

You can find out more about Tinderbox at http://www.eastgate.com/Tinderbox/ . There's an email list for information about special offers and such.

We're always looking for people to write examples and case studies about Tinderbox; if money's an issue, we can easily be paying you instead of vice versa. And Tinderbox files are XML, so they play nicely with your other tools.

Mark Bernstein 2005-08-13 13:45 UTC

I understand what motivates authors of proprietary software. I hope you also understand what motivates authors of free software.

AlexSchroeder 2005-08-15 16:45 UTC

# 2005-08-10 Germany

#### The Bene Gesserit Littainy against Fear.

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

TelePolis writes how fear of terrorism is reducing civil rights step by step and how money is unwisely spent on protecting the fortress Europe. [1]

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# 2005-08-10 Iraq

I’m reading some IraqTheModel entries these days and noticed several posts reporting the protests of women for their rights – rights that the new constitution threatens to revoke. [1] [2] [3]

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# 2005-08-10 UNO

TelePolis writes about the current reform initiatives and correctly notes that most of these will not make the UN significantly more democratic. [1] I think everybody except the permanent members of the security council agree on the need for reform. The question is twofold: What do we want, and how do we get it?

At the moment it seems that alternatives to the UN are gaining ground: Groups of nations coordinating their efforts independently. While they are thus weakening the UN as a platform, they are also rather ineffective, I assume. But then again the UN itself is rather ineffective.

That leads to the next question: What kind of structure do we want that is effective? We should agree on the ways to exercise power first, I think. Here’s what we currently have:

1. War
2. Economic Sanctions

Only with the necessary power in the background, can you negotiate effectively. That’s why we need a way to exercise power even if we want to do nothing but negotiate. Like a state, we need a way to pass laws, and the means to uphold them.

Unfortunately, I have yet to read of a convincing proposal. And neither do I like war or economic sanctions.

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# 2005-08-10 Wikis

At Wikimania 2005 I had a talk with a blogger about tagging. I claimed that tagging was useless because the broad tags I was using (Wikis, Web, Switzerland, Iraq) are good for organizing my blog, but no good for finding related information.

The blogger then said that he used it a lot for his own research on a daily basis, but with a lot more detailed tags: Names of people, locations, and events.

But how to add this automatically?

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# 2005-08-11 Iraq

TelePolis writes that the mayor of Baghdad has been ousted by another public figure with the help of some armed men. The new man, Masen A. Makkiam, was the head of the city council. The article goes into the political positions these people had, the overlapping responsibilities, etc. What saddened me most was that there seems to be no official reaction whatsoever to this undemocratic act. [1]

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# 2005-08-11 Patents

Some numbers cited in TheRegister:

According to Webbink, Microsoft’s goal is to ramp up its of number patent filings. He noted Microsoft’s wish to file 3,000 patents a year - compared to approximately 200 in 1994.
The problem this poses for ISVs and customers is the cost associated with fighting patent infringement actions. Simply researching each patent can cost $5,000 per patent, meaning organizations may settle in the early stages of a case to minimize their costs. “It’s not a game, it’s expensive for a company to look at a patent portfolio,” Webbink said Worse, most software patents are invalid. Webbink quoted research that found 67 per cent of all software patents filed between 1988 and 1996 did not stand up, while one in two claims are currently thrown out rather than registered by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This leads Webbink to conclude that Microsoft, and other companies also aggressively filing patents, are doing so to protect their business and restrict the competition. “Patents are about maintaining market share and preventing others competing effectively,” he said. [1] Webbink is Mark Webbink, Red Hat’s deputy general counsel. Tags: Add Comment # 2005-08-11 Web Writing a WebDAV client using CGI only. The first question is: Will calling methods other than GET, POST and HEAD work? Here’s a test script: #!/usr/bin/perl use CGI; print "Content-type: text/plain\n\n";$q = new CGI;
print \$q->request_method, "\n";


Here’s how you connect:

alex@alpinobombus:~% telnet localhost 80

The server responds:

Trying ::1...
telnet: connect to address ::1: Connection refused
Trying 127.0.0.1...
Connected to localhost.
Escape character is '^]'.


Now use some weird method:

FOO /cgi-bin/methods HTTP/1.0

And you get the response showing that the CGI script was called with the appropriate method:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 00:19:25 GMT
Server: Apache/1.3.33 (Darwin)
Connection: close
Content-Type: text/plain

FOO
Connection closed by foreign host.


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# 2005-08-12

I’m spending a few days in Austria an may not be online for about ten days.

I will be taking my laptop along, so who knows, maybe I’ll be able to spare a minute or two online. ;)

# 2005-08-12 Global Warming

The GuardianUnlimited writes about Siberia, calling it “a frozen peat bog the size of France and Germany combined”, containing “billions of tonnes of greenhouse gas” – and it seems to be melting. [1]

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# 2005-08-12 Globalization

There’s an interesting article on TelePolis summarizing a DVD about a conference:

Insgesamt bietet die DVD “Rohstoff und Asienkonferenz” des FinanzBuch Verlages einen wirtschaftstheoretisch spannenden Blick auf den asiatischen Aufstieg und den Niedergang des Westens. Aber auch jene, die an Wirtschaftstheorie nicht interessiert sind und nur ihre Ersparnisse vor der europäischen oder amerikanischen Wirtschaftspolitik in Sicherheit bringen wollen, finden profitable Anregungen. [1]

I enjoyed it very much. I’m not sure I want to watch about 6h of video and read all the material for 100€, however. Maybe I ought to.

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# 2005-08-12 Software

I’m trying to copy another DVD for Claudia, and again I’m running into problems because I’m getting input/output errors while reading the files. I remembered a similar incident and tried to run apropos(1) with some query terms, trying to find the tool that I had used at the time to recover files from defect media. No luck. When I started to search my blog, however, I quickly found what I was looking for on 2005-06-19 Software. How cool is that? recoverdm is what I was looking for.

Update: Turns out that it didn’t help. mkisofs refused to make a DVD image based on the files. And when trying k3b to copy DVDs, it aborted at the very end when trying to read the original disk. I showed Claudia how to view the .vob files using the software players we have.

This sucks.

But there’s more: I absolutely hate it when I am about to leave the house and decide to load some new MP3 on my player, switch on the SlackWare box, try to mount my player, and keep getting error messages about the player being not being a valid block device, the super-block being corrupt, and I don’t know what else.

What’s going on? This used to work! At least I think it used to work…

Has Apple borked the filesystem of my MP3 player? Is my cable broken?

I hate this.

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# 2005-08-12 USA

Don't visit the United States if you can avoid it.

TelePolis schreibt über die Rechte von Ausländern in den USA bei Zwischenlandungen auf US Flughäfen. [1] Es gibt nämlich kaum welche. Das hat mich schon lange beschäftigt und dieser Artikel bestätigt meine Ängste. Wieder einmal geht es um den Kanadier syrischer Herkunft, der in den USA entführt, nach Syrien gebracht, und dort 10 Monate festgehalten wurde. [2] Dieser Kanadier führt nun einen Zivilprozess gegen die US-Regierung.

Und da tönt es dann wie folgt:

Bei einer Anhörung von Mary Mason vor dem Gericht in New York erklärte die Staatsanwältin, die die US-Regierung vertritt, dass Durchreisende in den USA kaum irgendwelche Rechte genießen. Ahar wurde beispielsweise in New York in Einzelhaft gehalten. Man hat ihm den Schlaf und Essen entzogen und ihn tagelangen Verhören unterworfen, ohne dass ihm gestattet wurde, mit einem Rechtsanwalt zu sprechen. Nicht ganz beruhigend versicherte Mason, dass ausländische Durchreisende das Recht hätten, keinem “schweren körperlichen Missbrauch” unterworfen zu werden. Sie sind also verschont vor schwerer Folter, aber das ist auch schon mehr oder weniger alles. Das würde freilich auch denjenigen nicht mehr helfen, die in ein anderes Land gebracht werden und dort verschwinden.

Kein “gross physical abuse” wird die Staatsanwälting bei CBC zitiert [3] – mehr Rechte aber auch nicht!

At most, Mason told the judge, a foreign passenger detained while travelling through a U.S. airport might have a limited right to protection from “gross physical abuse.”

Und warum nicht? Ich habe schon mehrfach versucht, Leuten zu erklären, dass Flughäfen “extra territoriale” Gebiete sind, dh. eigentlich gilt dort nur das Hausrecht des Flughafens. Der CBC Artikel bestätigt das:

If passengers are deemed to be inadmissible, they have no constitutional rights even if later taken to an American prison. Mason told Judge David Trager that’s because they are deemed to be still outside the U.S., from a legal point of view.

Besonders vielsagend ist das Ende des Artikels.

Erstens soll der “Torture Victims Protection Act” nicht gelten:

But in a motion filed this week, the U.S. Justice Department argues that even if torture does occur, U.S. officials can’t be sued under the Torture Victims Protection Act because it only applies to foreign individuals committing or allowing torture.
The department wants the Arar lawsuit dismissed on that basis.

Dann wird behauptet, die USA foltert nicht und liefert auch keine Gefangene an folternde Länder aus:

However, department spokeswoman Cynthia Magnuson issued this short statement: “The United States does not practise torture, export torture or condone torture.”

Hierzu muss man allerdings wissen, wie Folter definiert wird:

In legal briefs written by U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the Justice Department has defined torture to mean “pain consistent with major organ failure or death.”

Wenn ich mir da kurz überlege, was da alles nicht dazu gehört, wird einem ja ganz übel. Auspeitschen? Elektroschocks? Zigaretten auf der Haut ausdrücken? Fingernägel ausreissen? Führt Finger überdehnen und brechen eigentlich zu Schmerzen, die auch im Zusammenhang mit Tod oder Organversagen entstehen können? Was ist das eigentlich für eine Definition?

Da kann man nur noch feststellen: Hier ist offensichtlich das Todquälen verboten, das Folter aber durchaus erlaubt.

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I’m in Austria at the moment, and tried to connect my iBook to the Ethernet of my sister’s. She has an iBook G3, 128MB, with OSX 10.1 – that was quite interesting to see. But back to the network: It just doesn’t want to connect. DHCP doesn’t want to work, and therefore DNS does not work.

And yet, when I switch the cable back to my sister’s notebook it works again. She has DHCP, uses ethernet, no client ID, no username, no password, no proxies… WTF? I think I had the same problem back home until I got it to work the first time. But I don’t remember what I did back then. I plugged the cable modem out a few times, trying to reset it.

But no luck.

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Tags: Mobile.

# 2005-08-17 Mobile 02

Am Kuschutnaturm aber ohne Helm und Seil also werden wir den Klettersteig nicht machen…

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Tags: Mobile.

# 2005-08-17 Mobile 04

Auf diesen Berg rechts sind wir nicht ganz rauf… Zu steil und Nieselregen.

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# 2005-08-17 Mobile 05

Beim Käsebrot essen…

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# 2005-08-17 Software

My sister has only OSX 10.1, and it turns out that Firefox 1.0.6 crashes when trying to open the bookmark menu. Ugh. When I edited the bookmarks.html file manually, however, deleting almost all bookmarks, it no longer crashed. Maybe live bookmarks make Firefox crash.

At the same time I’m still trying to get my own iBook with OSX 10.3.9 connected at my sister’s home. It seems that I’m not getting a DNS-Host, but everything else works. What I’ll try now is to copy the DNS-Host from my sister’s laptop and set all the info manually.

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Kein kommentar zu deinem eintrag, aber eine nachricht von armin: er lässt dir ausrichten, dass sein neffe (sohn seiner zwillingsschwester) ein computerfachmann ist, vorträge und unterricht/seminare in zürich und bern hält. er heisst thimon gehrer > http://www.dozenten-boerse.at/Trainer/details/Gehrer-Thimon Kennst du ihn vielleicht? Wäre ja vielleicht ein interessanter kontakt. Bjhs aus dem heissen carqueiranne. du und claudia könntet vielleicht auch mal hier ferien in norberts haus machen. Ist nicht weit vom strand, aber alles sehr ruhig. Fühl dich geknuddelt, mama

– Unbekannt 2005-08-17 19:32 UTC

Hm… sometimes my cell phone sends corrupt images per mail! I wonder whether there’s a firmware update to be had anywhere. Perhaps the images are corrupt on the cell phone, too, but corrupt in such a way that the browser on the phone can still display them.

Why don’t the suckers have a simple USB mass storage interface??

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# 2005-08-18 Mobile 02

Ich stehe vorn auf der Bielschitza und der Vater kommt nach…

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Tags: Mobile.

# 2005-08-18 Mobile 04

Die Grenze zu Slowenien…

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Tags: Mobile.

Tags: Mobile.

# 2005-08-19 Mobile 02

Der Mittagskogel von der Bertahütte aus gesehen.

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# 2005-08-21 Books

I’m really enjoying Little, Big by John Crowley – I’ve been reading it during my holidays. Faeries, mysteries, the ordinary world, love, death, birth, kids – all of it very fascinating. I must confess, however, that the beginning of the book has been better than the end.

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# 2005-08-21 Software

I really need to change that procmail script so that the MMS sent to the correct address from my mobile phone. Right now it creates a text page for the text part of an MMS; it should, however, append the text as a comment to the picture page.

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# 2005-08-22 Music Software

I’ve written about mp3gain before (2004-07-02 Music, 2004-07-02 Music) – and now I have installed an old version from 2003 for OSX – with a cute little dialog: MacMP3Gain.

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# 2005-08-23 Web

I posted a comment on EugeneEricKim’s blog about single sign-on and related issues. [1] Basically I am not very enthusiastic about it.

Here’s what I wrote:

The reason not too many people think about it is because these discussions often seem to be dominated by architecture astronauts resulting in bloated overengineered concepts. That’s what I think, anyway. Because really, what does it mean if you give a little piece of paper with your name on it to somebody else? It means: “Here’s a name, here’s a means to contact me, I’d like to talk to you.” It doesn’t promise that the name on the paper is the name of the person, that the phone works, that the person giving the paper is honest, there’s no contracts, no uniqueness of names, no resolvability – nothing. Just a name. From my point of view, it seems a lot like a wiki with no logins. So I think a lot more thought should be spent on figuring out what we would need single sign-on for. Do we want to sign-on at all? Do we really want global identifiers, some sort of internet security number? I haven’t talked to anybody else who is as sceptic about these issues as I am, so I guess I’m in the same dilemma as you are, I don’t know why many people don’t care. I only know that I don’t care enough to get involved.

I really need to find a way to better keep track of conversations using blogs. My current system sucks. I rarely go back to those odd blogs where I post comments to read replies. That’s so sad.

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# 2005-08-23 Wikis

I reintroduced the CSS for RSS feeds – so now you’ll get a decent-looking page when looking at Self:action=rss. Check out Oddmuse:RssStyleSheet. I don’t remember why I abandoned it so long ago. Maybe because I realized that it would never have working links.

I was inspired to reintroduce this feature after finding a link to Making Your RSS Feed Look Pretty in a Browser by Ben Hammersley in StefanBucher’s del.icio.us feed (which he merges with his regular blog feed).

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# 2005-08-24 Games

TelePolis writes about “Casual Games” [1] – cheap, easy, sold via Internet, free testing before buying… Sounds interesting!

“Ein Casual Gamer ist jemand, der sich selbst nicht als Gamer betrachtet, und der sich nicht dafür interessiert, Spiele-Titel zu kaufen, die über den Einzelhandel vertrieben werden wie z. B. Halo oder Warcraft III. Casual Gamers lesen keine Spiele-Zeitschriften, sie reden selten mit ihren Freunden über das Spielen und Spielen hat für sie keine vorrangige Bedeutung. Casual Gamers sind durchschnittlich 45 Jahre alt, weiblich und verheiratet – weisen also eine fast entgegengesetzte Demographie auf als die klassischen Gamer-Zielgruppen”. – Jessica Turns

I like her.

Anders als PC und Konsolenspiele, die (noch) vorwiegend über den Einzelhandel vertrieben werden, werden Casual Games von Portalen wie Yahoo Games, MSN Games, AOL Games, Nickolodeon Online oder auch spezifischen Webauftritten wie Big Fish Games heruntergeladen.

Hehe, curious! When I visited the MSN Games site, it said:

Important Note: Your browser has not been detected as Internet Explorer. You may view the content within this site using any client browser and you can download games to play them off-line, however; the on-line games will only work with the Internet Explorer 5.01 or later browser on Windows 98 or later operating systems.

Thanks for the warning.

Then I visited Yahoo Games, looked at Arcade games, picked Zuma, and got this warning:

Note: Zuma requires Internet Explorer and Windows.

I’m starting to see a common trend, here…

When I tried Cubis:

Note: Cubis is not compatible with Unix or Macintosh computers.

When I tried Diner Dash, it just hung there…

Update: I finished the Runescape tutorial!

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# 2005-08-24 Iraq

TelePolis writes about the constitution in Iraq and interprets it as Shia and Kurds getting a hold on the oil fields, leaving Sunnis in the middle bereft of the resources they have enjoyed up to now. And it seems that the US is supporting this. [1]

It just doesn’t match at all what Riverbend and Faiza have been saying in the past: That ethnic and religious rivalries were never strong in Iraq. Was it wishful thinking? Or has the war and the occupation prepared the grounds for these simplistic solutions? Or is oil and money corrupting people?

I’m not opposed to federalism – after all Switzerland shows that it can be done – but just as clearly the so-called “Finanzausgleich” (perequation/financial compesation) behind the scenes is a delicate subject in internal politics. If some of the cantons had oil and others had not, I’m sure this would make it even more difficult. As it is, some cantons have the banks (eg. Zürich), some cantons have the pharmaceutical industry (eg. Basel Stadt), some have international politics (eg. Geneva), some have agriculture (eg. Aargau), and most of the others are in trouble.

So before being able to say anything about federalism, the exact politics and financial tools have to be discussed as well.

As for the use of religion, my position is clear: I’m an adherent of a secular state.

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# 2005-08-24 Patents

The Register writes about Google filing a patent for ads embeded in syndicated content (RSS files). [1] Do we get to choose between two evils: More spam or more patents?

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I subscribed to a new blog: The Long Tail, because I read two interesting articles on it coming via JanneJalkanen’s entry on most popular Finnish bloggers:

1. Just Enough Piracy explaining the economic drawback of 100% DRM control frustrating honest users, and
2. Why Long Tail Content Is Different explaining that “people tend to be extremely similar in their vulgar and prurient and dumb interests and wildly different in their refined and aesthetic and noble interests”.

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# 2005-08-25 India

Hm, travel agent just called and said Air India changed their time tables, so we got rerouted: Instead of flying Zürich → London → Bombay → Bangalore we’ll be flying Zürich → Paris → Bombay → Bangalore. I think we’re still arriving at the same time, eventhough our arrival times in Bangalore remains unchanged, I think: We’ll be arriving in Hindustan Airport, Bangalore, on Nov. 10, 5:00, and we’ll be leaving from Indira Ghandi International Airport, Delhi, on Nov. 30, 6:45.

As for the details arround our visit to Himachal for the marriage, I’ve been talking to Sriharsha, Noufal, and Alok.

It seems that Noufal might not be around because of some project taking him into foreign lands; since we do not dare brave the Indian wilderness alone, I’ve talked to Sriharsha about his plans. We have tentatively agreed on the following plan:

1. Leave Bangalore on Thursday 2005-11-24 in the evening after work, fly to New Delhi (flight to be arranged), train and car pickup (to be arranged) and arrive in Himachal on Friday 2005-11-25.
2. Leave Himachal on Tuesday 2005-11-29 in the afternoon, and part ways in New Delhi. We’ll stay a night in New Delhi and return to Zürich early next morning, where as Sriharsha will be back at work on Wednesday 2005-11-30.

I’ll have to start planning the stuff we want to see in Bangalore before this long weekend. I’ve mentioned a visit to Mysore. If people from Bangalore want to come along, doing a weekend trip might be better. That leaves two options: The weekend 2005-11-12/13 or 2005-11-19/20. I think leaving on 2005-11-12 for a longer trip might be a bit sudden since we only just arrived on 2005-11-10. So maybe start with a smaller trip on that first weekend… So Mysore on the second weekend unless somebody wants to come along and can only do so on the second weekend. Maybe Claudia and I would stay some days longer, eg. 2005-11-19 to 2005-11-22/23. Then return for one or two nights in Bangalore before leaving Himachal. Maybe two is better than one. ;)

And let us not forget shopping! I’m sure Claudia is looking forward to that Saree… :D

I’ve also started clicking on those Google ads for hotel rates… Scary! Some prices between USD 60 and 70 per night, the rest up around USD 200 per night…

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# 2005-08-25 Iraq

StefanKrempl cites the Washington Post:

“The Bush administration is significantly lowering expectations of what can be achieved in Iraq, recognizing that the United States will have to settle for far less progress than originally envisioned during the transition due to end in four months, according to U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad. The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.” [1]

All this talk of retreating from Iraq has fueled my fear that Iraq will get the worst of both worlds: 100k or more dead, the country left in ruins, and another dictator to guarantee “stability”.

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# 2005-08-25 Software

Hm, maybe I should start coding applications on clients again… Using PyObjC for Developing Cocoa Applications with Python. But then again, web apps seem so much more interesting.

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# 2005-08-26 Iraq

IraqTheModel has some interesting thoughts on why the three sides in Iraq are failing to reach a conclusion in their discussion about the new constitution: The Sunnis have nothing to loose, and in a next election, they will be stronger and the other two will be weaker… [1]

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# 2005-08-26 Spanien

Spanien hat mich ja nie so gross interessiert. Vor einiger Zeit fand ich krass, das die Folter in Spanien eine erwiesene Sache ist (TortureInSpain), aber das wars dann auch. Nun schreibt aber TelePolis schon wieder über die sogenannte “Aufklärung” über die Anschläge von Madrid:

Spaniens “Aufklärung” der Anschläge vom 11.März 2004 wird immer seltsamer Es ist nicht verwunderlich, dass man in Spanien die Tageszeitung El Mundo versucht mundtot zu machen, die immer neue Details über die Anschläge in Madrid am 11. März 2004 offenbart. Nun hat die Zeitung veröffentlicht, dass die Polizei glaubt, einer ihrer Beamten habe beim Bombenbau direkt mitgewirkt. Zudem hatten die Sicherheitskräfte die Telefone von einem Teil der Attentäter noch am Tag der Anschläge angezapft. Doch ausgerechnet am Tag nach den Anschlägen wurde beantragt, währen der fieberhaften Ermittlungen, die Telefonüberwachung auszusetzen. Diese Daten stammen aus den Akten des Ermittlungsrichters, der sie unter Strafandrohung zurückhaben will. Für den 12. September wurde der El Mundo Direktor vor den Nationalen Gerichtshof zitiert. [1]

Wird ja immer besser.

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# 2005-08-27 Wikis

I’m very interested in EugeneEricKim’s ExtremeUsability stuff. I got there reading his report on the latest FLOSS Usability Sprint that took place in San Francisco.

I should start thinking about extreme usability myself and put it up somethwere. Maybe I should put it up on the site they used for the sprint: flossusability.org. I’ll have to read some more pages on that wiki. I think I’m hooked.

## Stuff I Like

(I would have liked to call it “stuff that works” but then again I don’t think I have enough actual experience to prove it.)

PaperPrototype
Draw user interface ideas on paper using just a pencil. I do this all the time, both when designing dialogs and forms and simple flows involving up to three or four dialogs. Excellent for layout of fields, labels, size relations, grouping, placement, screen estate estimates; less suited for dynamic user interfaces (fields appearing and disappearing based on validation of other fields), less suited for complex processes (the ones that need a flow chart to explain).
UseCase
A description of a problem situation and how the problem is resolved helps guide detail specifications and implementation. Excellent for focus on the real problem, for specific solutions to specific problems, helps prevent “gilding” (vergolden) of an existing solution; drawback includes the impression of a patch-work solution (lack of overarching design, no systematic approach), does not prevent overall user interface complexity as every usecase may have specific quirks and features that must be remembered.

Stuff I read on the ExtremeUsability page:

UserStories
explicit, discussions with users are captured on index cards.
UserCenteredDesign
enjoys a whole suite of methods for capturing user stories.
UsabilityBenchmark
Hm…

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Heise reports that the big labels want to get more money from online music sales. Apple is selling songs for about USD 1, which I think is already far too expensive. Buying an entire CD worth of music costs you more than the real CD, and you get no CD, no booklet, no jewel case, and damned DRM on top. And the labels are already getting USD 0.70 per song! Their greediness is apalling. Now they want Apple to ask up to USD 1.5 for popular songs. And when iTunes Japan opened, Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group were no longer part of the deal… [1]

Pirates!

Mehr hierzu auch bei TelePolis:

Taugt ein verschärfter Urheberrechtsschutz dazu, den unerlaubten Handel von Musiktiteln über Internet-Tauschbörsen einzudämmen und den Absatz verkaufter Tonträger wieder in die Höhe zu treiben? Die Erfolgsaussichten einer solchen Maßnahme sind umstritten. [2]

ChrisAnderson also writes about it, and thinks that variable pricing is good:

But long term, one-size-fits-all pricing is just constraining the economics of the industry and holding back the market. If Apple introduced variable pricing, it’s not hard to see how the average price might actually fall in a year or two, thanks to the number of titles in the discounted niche/backcatalog categories vastly outnumbering the more expensive hits. [3]

Chris Gilbey responds in a comment, saying what I feel to be right:

The problem that I see with record companies setting multiple prices - for both them and for artists and for Apple, and others - is that they will still get it wrong.
The model then (and now) is that the top selling artists are discounted aggressively in order to establish sell in and sell through. New and emerging artists were sold at the full price. Catalogue was sold at a discount. [4]

So basically: They’re not getting it. Instead of embracing the Internet way of selling music, they will not abandon their old ways and thus will have to finance their entire marketing, manufacturing and distributing departments all the way.

And Barry Ritholtz chimes in and asks the right question:

Does it make sense to price digital downloads – with no physical cost to press, ship or warehouse – the same as CDs? [5]

Barry also links to some of his own blog posts on the subject, so I’ll have to go and have a look.

Finally, there’s an interesting pricing model by Julian Bond, with details based on All Of Mp3. [6]

(More power to them for getting it right and living in a country that has resisted WIPO pressure until now!)

Auf Vorleser.net (Wikipedia:Vorleser.net) kann man Hörbucher von Büchern runterladen deren Urheberrechtschutz abgelaufen ist. Klasse!

Gerade heute hatte ich mir überlegt, ein Hörbuch/Podcast zu machen in dem ich Thukydides vorlese – aber natürlich sind alle deutschen Übersetzungen urheberrechtlich geschützt. Und auf Projekt Gutenberg (deutsch) findet man auch keine Kopie mehr, deren Urheberrecht abgelaufen ist…

Was ich auch klasse finde:

Haben Sie Bücher im Regal, die Sie gerne online sehen möchten? Sind bei einer Haushaltsauflösung zuviele Bücher angefallen? Senden Sie Ihre Bücher in einem Postpaket (die Post erlaubt maximal 20 Kg). Sie helfen dem Projekt, auch wenn wir einige Bücher weiterverkaufen, weil sie noch nicht frei von Copyright sind.

Steht auf der Projekt Gutenberg Seite! Vielleicht sollte ich denen einfach meine Bücher schenken…

(Gutenberg Project, English)

Die GEMA – Musik Verwertungsgesellschaft in Deutschland, zeigt sich von der sturen Seite – genau der Seite, welche einem das ganze Internet verleiden möchte, der Seite, der es vor allem ums Geld, um Rechte, ums Recht haben, um Anwälte, macht, und in keinem Fall um die Musiker, die Hörer, die Jugend, die Kreativität, die Kunst, oder sonst etwas geht…

TelePolis schreibt:

Da allerdings die kleinen Filme oft mit Musik unterlegt waren, verlangt nun die GEMA dafür Geld. In einem Schreiben wurden die Betreiber von Planet-Videos.com aufgefordert,
die […] genutzten Musikwerke anzumelden und zwar für alle Werke seit ihrer erstmaligen Einstellung ins Internet, natürlich auch einschließlich der Werke, die bereits wieder entfernt wurden. Wir werden Ihnen dann umgehend unsere Rechnung nebst den anfallenden Recherchekosten zukommen lassen. [1]

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# 2005-08-29 Software

I’ve installed ImageWell by XtraLean. I like their mission statement:

[…] offering lean and practical tools to simplify your life […] [1]

ImageWell seems to be the ideal solution for some simple photo manipulations – the alternative to starting up the Gimp.

Gratis, but not free.

Anyway, ImageWell allows you to save to a WebDAV server. So I fiddled with my WebDAV extension. And it works! Notes on Oddmuse and WebDAV.

# 2005-08-29 Wikis

I just got a mail from one of my Oddmuse users regarding CSS naming conventions. What he is trying to do is getting blog and wiki developers to agree on “a standard way of laying out divs” so that “a theme designed for one could be easily applied to a website created from a different program”. [1]

Sounds interesting.

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# 2005-08-30 Games

I’ve been playing God Of War on my PS2. I don’t know. It got rave reviews. But: I haven’t been intrigued by the game. At all. Run. Slash. Nice enough graphics, nice enough animations, but so much gore, so much dark gray depressive scenery… What the hell happened to games like Jet Set Radio?

Fable and Jade Empire didn’t need this kind of stark background to succeed. I feel like I’m playing the games of a fourteen year old’s dreams…

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I've been playing Vampire The Masquerade - Bloodlines. It's also got a really dark and dreary atmosphere. But that just makes the game more intense. You really start to feel like a vampire.

NoufalIbrahim 2005-08-31 12:34 UTC

Yeah, ambience is key. Where as I can imagine myself wanting to play a vampire, I cannot imagine myself wanting to play a crazy bloodthirsty mutilating Spartan steeped in gore… Ok, I'm exagerating. But when my inner voice only goes "Aaargh! Die! Ugh! Damn! Fuck! Bastard! Die! Aaargh" – Then I know something is wrong with the game design.

AlexSchroeder 2005-08-31 14:08 UTC

> I feel like I'm playing the games of a fourteen year old's dreams…


Well put! That made me laugh .

MichaelOlson 2005-08-31 15:34 UTC

Heh heh. The only game in which I started feeling that way was Carmageddon. I just wanted to maul innocent pedestrians.

I didn't like that game. Too bloody. But they did a good job of conveying the feeling.

NoufalIbrahim 2005-08-31 17:01 UTC

# 2005-08-30 Iraq

Interesting developments in Iraq reported by IraqTheModel:

Today the differences reached the peak when Sistani dropped a bomb by rejecting federalism and thus rejecting the constitution of the Kurdish-Sheat alliance putting the current ruling parties in a difficult position. Sistani in his statement said “The Sunnis are your family. Stay by their side this time so that they stay by your side in the coming times…” [1]

I’ve argued before that I like federalism as practiced here in Switzerland, but acknowledged the fact that federalism doesn’t end all arguments (2005-08-24 Iraq). Financial compensation turns into a constant tug of war in the political arean, so now you have to make sure that the political arena is bound by the constitution and maybe a counstitutional court.

Note that Germany has a constitutional court, for example, but Switzerland has not! This can be problematic because in Switzerland people can only change the constitution using an initiative – they cannot propose new laws. And since normal courts rule according to the laws, it is quite possible to have the constitution say one thing and the courts ruling another way.

What I find encouraging in Sistani’s comment was the rejection of factionalism. One of the darkest futures ahead would be federalism spinning out of control and some form of ethnic/religious cleansing starting to happen à Yugoslawia or India/Pakistan. Just because we had so many wars in Europe followed by ethnic cleansing doesn’t mean that we cannot learn from these mistakes. I really hope that Iraq will be able to avoid this.

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Man will find a way to fight. Where you have two religions, excuse is simple. When you have one religion people will divide themselves in protestants and catholics or orthodox, or they will become shia or sunni etc., etc., But fedralism inspite of all its risks is a good idea. It will ensure atleast some justice to the minority, unlike pseudo democracies like India, SA etc., where unless you are the majority, justice is a distant dream.

Anonymous 2005-09-01 06:32 UTC

Federalism as a protection of minorities will only work in places where the internal units (states, cantons) coincide with concentrations of groups that consider themselves minorities in the country. But in Iraq, I heard that the population was extremely mixed – at least in the provinces now considered “Sunni”. Doesn’t Baghdad have Sadr City with over two million Shia’at? In these cases, federalism will not solve the protection of minorities problem.

By the same token, Switzerland would only need a small number of cantons. We have seven million people, three major language groups (German, French, Italian), and a tiny group of about 50k people speaking Rhaeto-Romance. We also have a big political difference between the mountain regions (Innerschweiz) and the industrial areas. So how many cantons would that require – four, five? But instead we have 26 cantons.

Comparing Switzerland to India, the comparison gets more insane: Most Indian states are larger than all of Switzerland. I have no idea about actual numbers:

As per 2001 census, the population of the State is 13,42,998. [sic!] – http://goagovt.nic.in/

and

Goa has at present a population of 1.344 million residents, making it India’s fourth smallest (after Sikkim, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh). – Wikipedia:Goa

So it seems to me that “federalism” is a many faceted issue that has to be considered carefully before it actually works out. It requires many checks and balances to succeed.

As for your comment that “man will find a way to fight” – I hope that most people do not want to fight. So let us hope that they will find no reason to.

AlexSchroeder 2005-09-01 07:04 UTC

# 2005-08-30 Software

I used to be torn with respect to image editing on my iBook with OSX. iPhoto takes a long time to start but it an interesting picture management approach. I’m not yet sure I like it, but it certainly intrigues me: User interface, startup times, etc.

For real work, I am using The Gimp. Unfortunately, it requires X11, which is slow to start. And the Gimp itself is slow to start as well. And my iBook has only 256MB of RAM that other applications need. So I need an alternative for the simple stuff.

I talked about ImageWell before (2005-08-29 Software). While gratis, it is not free. And today I found Seashore on my desktop. I must have downloaded it together with ImageWell and it took me a while to take a look at it.

Less power but similar to The Gimp – I’m looking forward to it.

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