Page Collection for ^2006-09

2006-09-01 Small Oddmuse Scripts

One access.log file per day as generated by Apache, extracting traffic generated on, using CVS:traffic:

aschroeder@thinkmo:~/logs$ ls access.log access.log.13.gz access.log.5.gz error.log access.log.1 access.log.14.gz access.log.6.gz error.log.1 access.log.10.gz access.log.2.gz access.log.7.gz error.log.2.gz access.log.11.gz access.log.3.gz access.log.8.gz error.log.3.gz access.log.12.gz access.log.4.gz access.log.9.gz error.log.4.gz aschroeder@thinkmo:~/logs$ for n in `seq 2 14`; do zcat access.log.$n.gz|traffic; done 891247303 870358K 870.4M 0.87G 857165754 837075K 837.1M 0.84G 955931807 933527K 933.5M 0.93G 774158662 756014K 756.0M 0.76G 384743405 375725K 375.7M 0.38G 657584469 642172K 642.2M 0.64G 869735763 849351K 849.4M 0.85G 1009418455 985760K 985.8M 0.99G 911545587 890181K 890.2M 0.89G 922384807 900766K 900.8M 0.90G 816891774 797745K 797.7M 0.80G 614034480 599643K 599.6M 0.60G 772213756 754114K 754.1M 0.75G


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2006-09-01 The Price Of Old Books

I wrote on 2006-08-07 Giving Away Old Books that sending my first book overseas cost me CHF 10 (USD 8.16) postage + CHF 1.20 for the envelope. This week I sent another book to Belgium and yet another one to the United States:

PostPac Grösse 0 Mini2.00
Luftpolstertasche klein0.95
Maxibrief ECO Europa (0.629kg)12.00
Grossbrief PRIO übrige Länder (0.238kg)8.80

About USD 19.30 to send these two books. Why is there nobody in Switzerland interested in my books? And why did the Swiss Post do away with the special book tariff!?

Got one request from Brazil and a request from Serbia.

I delayed sending Magick Without Tears by Aleister Crowley to the USA for two reasons: First, I am sending books overseas without having yet received a single book back. Second, I found that this book is worth about USD 70 or EUR 95 on Amazon!! Too bad I can’t sell on Amazon because I don’t have a bank account in one of the Amazon countries. That way I could at least recoup the money I’m spending sending books abroad.

(The book is also available online.)


Comments on 2006-09-01 The Price Of Old Books

huh, why are you giving away books? I wouldn’t give any of mine. I love them all.

V 2006-09-02 17:32 UTC

I have many books that I don’t want to read anymore. I keep the good books that I might want to reread one of these days. But there are enough books that I don’t want to read anymore. Eg. I gave up on being good at playing chess. So I have some chess books to give away. :)

AlexSchroeder 2006-09-03 21:02 UTC

Chess world is so much thankful to you.. ;-)

V 2006-09-05 05:53 UTC

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2006-09-04 Radio Nuclear

My Squeezebox makes me explore InternetRadio again. One interesting procedure to find new radio stations is to go to ShoutCast and search for “Radiohead”. Somehow I often like the stations that play Radiohead. Today I found RadioNuclear – “former pirate radio station 88.3 FM Ottawa / 104.9 FM Toronto, Ontario Canada”.

Funny, they have a MySpace page [1] and Thom Yorke is their friend. And you can can read his profile [2], and you’ll see that Radiohead itself also has a profile – but that seems to be a user in Beirut :D – and you’ll see the Sigur Rós page [3].

And that reminds me: I should get a Sigur Rós album… As I listen, they’re playing something containing a sample of a woman talking about little fluffy clouds. And it sent a shiver down my spine! Where had I heard it before? And I was not imagining things. It is a famous sample: Wikipedia:Little Fluffy Clouds. I mean… “They went on forever!” I took a look at my hidden shelf where I keep all the CDs I no longer listen to and found my favorite CD from days gone by: “Logic Trance 2”, where track #2 on CD 1 was Little Fluffy Clouds by The Orb. Except that I’m currently listening to a different remix. I prefer the one on my CD. :)

Anyway, my current list of favorites on the Squeezebox:

  1. BBC World Service
  2. PerreoRadio
  3. BigUpRadio
  4. RadioNuclear
  5. RadioTropic93
  6. DavidByrne


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2006-09-04 Wiki Creole

At WikiSym 2006 some developers got together and agreed on a common wiki markup standard called WikiCreole. To be honest, I agreed with the idea, got bored to tears during the workshop and left after half an hour, knowing that I’d implement their recommendations in less time than they needed to make a decision. Anyway, there is now an Oddmuse:Creole Markup Extension. I also left my implementation notes on the Wiki Creole wiki. As I implemented the various rules, I realized how underspecified some of the points were.

I also wrote lots of unit tests, of course, so I’m happy. :)

I’m a bit concerned about the process, however. I wasn’t at the workshop (my bad!) and so when I saw the wiki I thought that the things I saw had been decided, and I started implementing. As it turns out, however, several things are yet under discussion, and so I felt a bit “cheated” when things got changed after I had implemented them. I would have loved the feeling of “implementation done, see you next year!” ;)


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2006-09-05 Perl Installation

Argh. I’m too stupid. I have Mac OS 10.4 on my desktop, and a working Perl installation mess on my Laptop. The mess is that there’s the Perl Apple shipped, and there’s the DarwinPorts Perl in /opt/local.

Anyway, I install all my modules using CPAN, and it works for me. So I’m trying to cpan XML::Parser but that requires the expat library. which OSX is lacking. So I use port install expat and now I have a libexpat.a in /opt/local/lib. You know where this is going, right?

So the OSX gcc still doesn’t know about expat:

gcc -lexpat
/usr/bin/ld: can't locate file for: -lexpat
collect2: ld returned 1 exit status

I should use -L to add the directory to the search path. But do I do that so that the CPAN shell will pick it up? It must be some kind of environment variable, and I cannot figure it out.

It’s not a real problem. I can develop on my laptop. But I’d love to understand!! Grrr. This most boring of all problems is wasting hours of my time.

The strange thing is that on my laptop, this problem is not solved either. gcc -lexpat reports the same error. And yet I can “use XML::Parse" in my Perl programs. My guess is that I have a total parallel installation of Perl: which perl → /opt/local/bin/perl. And somehow that Perl knows about the right directories.

We hatesss it, my preciousss!!


Comments on 2006-09-05 Perl Installation

Maybe try to add that directory somewhere around or and run ldconf as root after that. Helps on Linux.

RadomirDopieralski 2006-09-05 23:32 UTC

Good idea. This being OSX, however, I am out of luck. I can’t find it. Probably some XML file somewhere in /System/Library/*/*.plist or something like that.

AlexSchroeder 2006-09-05 23:42 UTC

Setting environment variables like LD_PATH and such helps too…

RadomirDopieralski 2006-09-06 01:08 UTC

Years have passed, and suddenly I feel the urge to install XML::RSS on my Mac OS 10.4 again – which requires XML::Parser – which still won’t compile. Searching my own blog, I find that I wasn’t able to solve the problem ages ago. Noooo!

AlexSchroeder 2008-07-15 08:56 UTC

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2006-09-05 Sell You Soul To GNU

Just read on BoingBoing: A guy has his girlfriend sew him a GNU costume, and he plans to use it to distribute Ubuntu CDs at the – this is what caught my eye! – Zürich main station!! [1]

Reminds me of the joke RadomirDopieralski told on #oddmuse the other day: Do you know about the dyslexic satanist? No? He sold his soul to Santa.

Another blog entry [2] brings me to AaronSwartz’s site where he analyses Wikipedia contributions [3] and finds what is certainly true for me: Most new content is from anonymous strangers passing by and is then massaged into the site by the core group. The few edits I’ve done to Wikipedia basically worked that way. And I haven’t felt any kind of “ownership” for the pages I touched. Other people have been taking care of them, eg. I added the first image to Wikipedia:Somnathpura and never went back.

Reading blogs such as these is a sure way to waste hours. I liked the library pictures. [4] One of them was a library in St. Gallen, Switzerland. Maybe Switzerland is in fact part of this world… ;)

Tags: RSS

Comments on 2006-09-05 Sell You Soul To GNU

I also subscribe to the point of Aaron. I had the same story with my small contributions (like Wikipedia:Orval) to the Wikipedia. The changes are mainly for typo, link or forms. So attracting “one shot” editor/contributor is quite important for a lot of Wiki. The only problem is to welcome them and block the “one shot” spammer… always an issue of balance.

adulau 2006-09-05 20:37 UTC

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2006-09-05 Terrorism and WikiSym

I just saw on BBC that suspected terrorists were arrested in Odense [1] – the very town I visisted a while ago for WikiSym 2006.


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2006-09-07 First False Positive Pain

Evan at WikiSym 2006
Image by Mark Gaved
EvanProdromou was supposed to meet me here in Switzerland. The day before he arrived, he sent me some mail to my Gmail account. It got classified as spam, and we missed each other. [1]

Grrrr! >{

My first painful experience due to false positive errors in spam filtering. And – quelle surprise! – it was not related to some local spam filtering but due to a big email service. I wonder whether I should trust them less, now.

Tags: RSS

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2006-09-07 Oddmuse Rollback Problems

There’s a problem in my code somewhere. I’m still not sure what it is. I’m suspecting the following scenario:

  1. At t=0, everything is fine.
  2. A spams some at t=1.
  3. I revert at t=2 to t=0.
  4. B spams some at t=3.
  5. I revert at t=4 to t=2.

Now the two rollbacks “overlap” somehow. Maybe an off-by one error or something like that… The symptoms are:

  1. Rollback items visible in RecentChanges when they should be hidden.
  2. Entries for the invalid page [[rollback]] showing up in RecentChanges.


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2006-09-08 Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter is hard

After weeks of not playing anything on my Xbox 360° I decided to give Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (G.R.A.W.) another try. I failed several times in the sniper level where you start at the bottom of a long stair. Damn, this is frustrating.


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2006-09-08 Squeezebox and Last.FM

I’ve been listening to DavidByrne’s radio for a while now, with the occasional PerreoRadio thrown into the mix. Usually I don’t want to switch on my computer, so I connect my Squeezebox to the SqueezeNetwork. This way, I have access to the InternetRadio stations via their network. (I’m not quite sure why I need their network in the first place, perhaps the only reason is the aggregation of all the stations for easy retrieval by the box.)

Then I’ve been looking at the PandoraRadio link on the Squeezebox — do I need to spend USD 36 per year for a good radio station? There are choices that make more sense from an ethical point of view: Supporting our local community radio LoRa, for example. Then again, there’s an alternative: LastFM. I hadn’t really understood what it was all about. I have had Audio Scrobbler (the old name for Last.FM) plugins installed for my players again and again, but I never did anything with the data except populate my NowPlaying page. I never installed their player to actually listen to my “recommended station”. If I decide to contribute to Last.FM, by the way, it will cost me EUR 36 per year. What a coincidence. :)

Anyway, so here’s Pandora, and there’s Last.FM, and they seem to do the same thing. Pandora suggests songs based on features from the Music Genome Project of the tracks you like, where as Last.FM uses information supplied by its users (the music you listened to, your feedback, your friends, tags, and so on) to suggest new music.

Both stream the music like a radio station in order to get a radio license, which means you can’t repeat songs, you can’t pause playback, and it’s a hassle to save it to disk.

Both can play on my stereo equipment via AirFoil (shareware, audio has noise added after a few minutes). I won’t be using that too often. I think the integration of Pandora into the Squeezebox should be good enough for me. And when I listen to music at work, there’s no need for it either. Anyway. What I’m currently listening to has this URL from hell: — well, in the mean time I have registered a 90 days trial account and recreated the station. It seemed like that I needed to be registered to pick “my” stations for the SqueezeNetwork.

At the moment it seems that Pandora will play for you without requiring a registration. That’s an excellent feature! When you do register, you’re getting the 90 days trial account I mentioned. You need to provide a valid US five digit zip code during registration. No problem, just pick a random number until it works. The foreign scum is using fake zip codes, of course. ;)

So, what else is same same but different?

The Last.FM player is FreeSoftware! Cool. I think I’ll stay with Last.FM for the time being.

While I was writing this post, I heard some interesting music coming from my Squeezebox: Never heard of them: Bloc Party playing So Here We Are (Four Tet remix) from the album Silent Alarm Remixed.

Hah, is it paying off already?

I feel bad for wasting so much electricity running my laptop, my Squeezebox, and the amplifier with the speakers all the time. Somehow these still feel like appliances, where as my stereo does not. Weird.

Regarding useless subscriptions I do pay: I should cancel my Xbox Live membership. That’s USD 10 per month totally wasted.

Some time later: Surprisingly I liked the Pandora user interface better!

Too bad I found out that they did not feature many of the songs & artists I happen to enjoy. I was looking for Estrella Morente (she sings the Flamenco song in Volver (2006)), “Preciosa Puerto Rica” by Marc Anthony, “Duele” by La India and Tito Rojas. And my Aventura radio station seems to like the Gipsy Kings… :)

Tags: RSS RSS.

Comments on 2006-09-08 Squeezebox and Last.FM

I used for a while. But the longer I used it, the less I liked it. Their similiarity algorithm doesn’t work very well (imho). When I choose an artist, their choice was really bad for similar artists. Maybe it was my selection, which was bad, don’t know… By the way: Do you know “Worldmusic @ drs3”, I think it’s on thursday evening. Like it very much. I heard Sara Tavares, Simphiwe Dawa and others there. Never heard them before…

2ni 2006-09-09 14:37 UTC

Worldmusic ist natürlich eine total gute Sendung! Früher habe ich noch mehr DRS3 gehört: Die Specials und vor allem Sounds! hat mir gefallen. Eine Weile lang war Sounds nur noch im Virus zur hören, aber jetzt ist Sounds auch im DRS3 wieder. Im Moment hören wir eigentlich vor allem RadioTropic93, wenn wir Radio hören. :)

AlexSchroeder 2006-09-09 16:31 UTC

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2006-09-08 Subscribe to Blogline Searches

How do you know when other people mention your name, your software, or your project? Not all of them will send you mail or post on your blog.

At WikiSym 2006 I saw that EugeneEricKim had an entire BlogLines folder only dedicated to searches. If you check my BlogRoll, you’ll see the same. I am currently subscribed to three searches: My name (except for my sites), Oddmuse (except for the Oddmuse site), and WikiSym (except for my site).

Too bad that there seems to be at least one Alex and at least one Schroeder among the victims of 9/11. Now I’m getting all sorts of blog entries about 9/11 as a result of my search. Gah. Don’t they know I copyrighted, trademarked, and patented my name!?


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2006-09-08 Unhappy with Wiki Creole

I’m unhappy with how WikiCreole is developing. It seems to me that requirements keep getting added. That’s bad FeatureKarma. I’m with David Clark (as cited by Tim Berners-Lee in his essay on The World Wide Web and the "Web of Life", or in FYI 17 also known as The Tao of IETF - A Novice's Guide to the Internet Engineering Task Force):

We believe in rough consensus and running code.

I believe that it is a waste of time to lock twenty people into a workshop and let them talk for five hours. It certainly is a waste of my time. (See 2006-09-04 Wiki Creole.) I believe that when writing code, there is no way to solve all the problems on paper before you start coding. Only by writing and using the code will you discover the mistakes in your design. And that’s where the moment of truth arrives: Can you change your code quickly enough update it as you fix the design?

So I was stunned when I read the following:

We really appreciate your enthusiasm, but it would make sense to wait until we at least have a finalized 0.1 spec before implementing anything.

Ouch. That hurts.

I really need to disengage from a process I do not like. Unfortunately, I realize now that I don’t have enough social skills to change the process.

RadomirDopieralski wrote a position statement on his !WikiCreole personal page, and suggested that such a thing would be good for other contributors, too. I don’t want to post it on the Creole wiki, since I’d feel like poking a sore spot when I had promised to give it some rest. Then I wanted to post it here, but realized that this would be quite some work, duplicating a lot of stuff I said on the Creole wiki (spread over various Talk pages). And it wouldn’t help me to disengage.

So I’ll let it rest.


Comments on 2006-09-08 Unhappy with Wiki Creole

I’m sorry to hear that you think our workshop in Denmark was a waste of time. I think it was one of the most productive workshops I have ever attended and I was sad to see you leave. It gave us an excellent foundation from which to start planning a good syntax.

About my comment: “We really appreciate your enthusiasm, but it would make sense to wait until we at least have a finalized 0.1 spec before implementing anything.” I really do appreciate your enthusiasm, but it seemed like you were complaining about the spec changing too fast and you couldn’t keep up, so I wanted to say, “please be patient.” I really admire your hard work on Creole and was sorry to see you stop actively contributing on

I wish you could tell me what you don’t like about the process. I’m trying to do this as best as I can, but it is indeed like cat herding…

I was glad you decided to post your position statement and I hope you had a chance to read my response to it in which I changed multiple things in 0.1 to match your position. []. You will also notice that WikiCreole 0.1 is now final. [1] I, however, also feel like I need a bit of a break from Creole, so I won’t start working on 0.2 until the end of next week.

In conclusion: Thanks for all your hard work. Sorry to see you go. Hope to see you become active again soon. I really miss seeing your comments on the creole wiki. Seeing Oddmuse running Creole greatly inspired me to want to move some of my wikis over to it, but I’ll contact you privately about that when I have time to make the move.

ChuckSmith 2006-09-14 14:22 UTC

Well, I just needed a few days of rest with respect to the entire process. I did write that position statement after all, and I saw you comments, and appreciated the changes you have made around that time.

As for the process itself, I don’t know whether what I would prefer would actually work for a lot of people.

  1. I don’t like spending five hours together with 20 people talking about something that I can code up in five hours. If you had spent less time on it, perhaps some developers would have jumped ship. So I cannot really say that I know a solution to the problem. I did like how you had put up a poster and talked issues through with various small groups of people.
  2. I also don’t like a changing recommendation. If it changes because some things don’t make sense when implementing, by all means let us change them. But I had the feeling that the recommendation kept growing where as I thought that it had been fixed at the workshop. I think this mismatch of perception and reality increased my uncertainty and made me loose trust in the work that had gone into the recommendation. This is obviously also my fault, since I walked out of the workshop due to #1 above.
  3. Being the kind of guy that likes to “put your mouth where your code is” I would have prefered to start with a rough recommendation, let people implement it, and let implementors document the various limitations they built into the system, then discuss it, and do another round. Something incremental with feedback by actual developers. I realize that this is my character showing through, and that my position runs the danger of ignoring actual users. So again, I can’t say whether my approach would have worked better.

I therefore think that you did well – who am I to criticize your approach. That doesn’t mean I have to like the process, though. It seems that I’m having dificulties with this kind of “design by committee” [2] approach. It doesn’t necessarily have to be bad, however. [3] I just don’t like it from a personal point of view.

AlexSchroeder 2006-09-14 15:03 UTC

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2006-09-09 Limits of Thunderbird

When I returned to the office after about two months of holidays, I had more than 16’000 mails waiting for me, and less than 200 of them were not spam. Everything else was spam. I don’t have exact number since ThunderBird crashed twice during this time. :( I spent more or less the entire day waiting for my mail to arrive. My mail is stored on an IMAP server, so spam filtering requires Thunderbird to download every single one of them.

Tags: RSS

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2006-09-09 Small Webservers

I’ve been an Apache user for the most part. It’s what you get at most web hosting providers. It’s easy to install. It’s popular.

With Oddmuse, things are slowly starting to change. It was suggested I get Oddmuse to work with lighttpd + Fast CGI, and another user posted info how to use bozohttpd.

-rwxr-xr-x 1 alex wheel 1M 10 Aug 11:20 /Users/alex/apache2/bin/httpd -rwxr-xr-x 1 alex alex 49K 6 Sep 11:20 /Users/alex/bozohttpd-20060517/bozohttpd -rwxr-xr-x 2 root admin 269K 28 Aug 21:56 /opt/local/sbin/lighttpd

Amazing size difference. :)

Yes, I know about size comparison and dynamic libraries and all that.


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2006-09-11 Looking at Flock

Have you tried Flock? I’m giving it a try at the moment. It says that it can integrate blogging using “Wordpress, Movable Type, Typepad, LiveJournal, Typo, and Drupal and integrates with the Blogger, Meta Weblog, Typepad, and Atom APIs.”

Maybe I should write a complete Atom API for Oddmuse. Right now the Oddmuse:Atom Extension is a proof-of-concept extension that’s not really as flexible as the existing Oddmuse:Rss Action.

At least exporting my subscriptions from BlogLines as an OPML feed, and subscribing to all of them in flock went smoothly. Yay for open standards! ❤ ❤ ❤

Actually the Bloglines searches did not work out of the box, because I hadn’t subscribed to them as RSS feed. Redoing the searches allowed me to subscribe to the RSS feeds, so that went well. Since I’m reading news from multiple machines, however, moving away from Bloglines is not an option. I was just “checking”… ;) I see that Flock is planning to look into the issue, however. [1] I think they should just interface with Bloglines!!

Logging into !LiveJournal as a test automatically notified Flock that I signed into a site that it supported for blogging, and offered to do all the configuration automatically. It felt eerie, but it worked. Except that I don’t want to blog on LJ. — Or do I?

Anyway, I started working on Atom.

I downloaded XML::Atom, but it seemed complex. So I started to read the draft [2] and started implementing: Return a simple “introspection document”.

Alpinobombus:~ alex$ curl http://localhost/cgi-bin/wiki/atom   
<?xml version="1.0" encoding='UTF-8'?>
<service xmlns="">
<workspace title="Oddmuse" >
<collection title="Wiki" href="http://localhost/cgi-bin/wiki/atom">
<accept>entry, image/jpeg, image/png</accept>

I’m using the correct MIME type (application/atomserv+xml), and yet Flock keeps complaining that something’s wrong about it.

I guess I didn’t neet to go very far to realize I wouldn’t get far. :(

The meat of my Oddmuse extension:

push(@MyInitVariables, \&AtomInit);

sub AtomInit {
  SetParam('action', 'atom') if $q->path_info =~ m|/atom\b|;

$Action{atom} = \&DoAtom;

sub DoAtom {
  my $id = shift;

# from
sub DoAtomIntrospection {
  print GetHttpHeader('application/atomserv+xml');
  my @types = ('entry', );
  push(@types, @UploadTypes) if $UploadAllowed;
  my $upload = '<accept>' . join(', ', @types) . '</accept>';
  print <<EOT;
<?xml version="1.0" encoding='$HttpCharset'?>
<service xmlns="">
<workspace title="Oddmuse" >
<collection title="$SiteName" href="$ScriptName/atom/pub">

Too bad Flock didn’t like it!

I’ve also installed RPC::XML, considering the implementation of the MetaWeblog API. But that, too, looks complicated. I really, really like simple code. :)

So now I wrote a simple skeleton for the !MetaWeblog API:

use RPC::XML::Server;
require RPC::XML::Procedure;

$srv = RPC::XML::Server->new(port => 9000);

my $new = RPC::XML::Procedure->new({ name => 'metaWeblog.newPost',
				     code => sub { OddmuseNew(@_) },
				     signature => [ 'string', 'string',
						    'string', 'struct',
						    'boolean' ] });
my $edit = RPC::XML::Procedure->new({ name => 'metaWeblog.editPost',
				     code => sub { OddmuseEdit(@_) },
				     signature => [ 'string', 'string',
						    'string', 'struct',
						    'boolean' ] });
my $get = RPC::XML::Procedure->new({ name => 'metaWeblog.getPost',
				     code => sub { OddmuseGet(@_) },
				     signature => [ 'string', 'string',
						    'string' ] });


$srv->server_loop; # Never returns

# metaWeblog.newPost (blogid, username, password, struct, publish)
# returns string

sub OddmusePost {
  my ($blogid, $username, $password, $struct, $publish) = @_;
  return "foo";

# metaWeblog.editPost (postid, username, password, struct, publish)
# returns true

sub OddmuseEdit {
  my ($postid, $username, $password, $struct, $publish) = @_;
  return 1;

# metaWeblog.getPost (postid, username, password) returns struct

sub OddmuseGet {
  my ($postid, $username, $password) = @_;

As you can see, no real code there.

I then created a file containing my request:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
	<title>Testing Meta</title>
	<description>This is my text!</description>

And ran the server and tested it using curl:

Alpinobombus:~ alex$ curl --data @~/oddmuse/meta-new.xml localhost:9000
<title>403 Forbidden</title>
<h1>403 Forbidden</h1>

Didn’t get very far here, either!

Perhaps I should use Net::Blogger instead of Flock to test my implementation. ;)

Later, I returned to Atom! See 2006-09-16 Atom Revisited.


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2006-09-11 Owning Your Turf

DanahBoyd writes about a site (Facebook) that changed its architecture in a way that users did not appreciate and reminds us: “While digital communities are fantastic, one of the issues is that people don’t actually own the turf in which they’re creating cultural artifacts.” [1]

And that ties in to the concept of data ownership. The European countries will often claim to “protect your data”, and in a way it works. Companies are not allowed to store more information about you than is essential for the business at hand, and it at least worries clients that have custom software built for them. In addition to that, you have a right to know and to correct your data, but they don’t have the duty to report their data about you on their own. You need to suspect, before you can ask. So in sum, there’s some positive developments, and much remains to be done.

When talking about companies like Google or Flickr, however, all of these regulations come to naught. You need to take your own precautions. And a company like Flickr may allow you to retrieve your data using an API of theirs, but who does it? And what use will the data be without the entire site to back it up? It’s a difficult question. It would be nice if sites like Google and Flickr were publically owned, in fact!

Publically owned data doesn’t have to be in your possession physically. After all, if you rent space from a web service provider, you don’t have physical access to the data either. The point is, however, that it is no longer at the whim of “benevolent dictators”. Not only free software projects follow this model! When looking at data ownership, Google, Yahoo & Co. are all run by a BenevolentDictator (which most users don’t know, so it’s even worse than free software projects).

FreeSoftware is different from data in that the source code these days usually stands on its own. The RightToFork is an important option to keep the software free. When a large part of the value of the data are the notes, links, and comments “owned” by other people, however, then it’s hard to fork. It’s a CopyrightTrap, and mostly a usability problem.

The Swiss law for associations might serve as an interesting model. See CorporateMembership for some thoughts.


Comments on 2006-09-11 Owning Your Turf

Well explained. If only your simple and short prose could replace the blather at O'Reilly Radar these issues could catch on a lot quicker with people.

AaronHawley 2006-09-12 00:35 UTC

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2006-09-11 Switzerland Group on Flickr

If you want to know what Switzerland looks like, take a look at the Switzerland Group on Flickr. Subscribe to their RSS feed. :)


Comments on 2006-09-11 Switzerland Group on Flickr

If you want to see some interesting good fotos (not Switzerland), these are my favorites at the moment: or

2ni 2006-09-11 20:42 UTC

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2006-09-12 Rechtsberatung ist in Deutschland verboten

Auf TelePolis habe ich wieder etwas gelesen, dass mir die Haare zu Berg stehen lässt:

So wurde eine Mieterin angezeigt, die ihrem Vermieter im Streit in einem Brief mit Rechtsargumenten kam, weil sie diese als Laie nicht benutzen dürfe, ebenso Rechtsanwälte, die innerhalb der Familie kostenfrei Tipps gaben oder eben auch Teilnehmer von Mailinglisten und Foren. Beispielsweise wurde ein Dialog zwischen Teilnehmern in einem Forum eines öffentlich-rechtlichen Fernsehsenders der Form “Brauche ich eine Umsatzsteuer-ID?” – “Wenn du nicht außerhalb Deutschlands verkaufst, nein” als verbotene Rechtsberatung verurteilt, obwohl es sich hierbei um öffentlich verfügbare Informationen handelt und diese Antwort folglich kaum großes juristisches Fachwissen benötigt. [1]

Da bleibt nur noch eines: Klappe halten und Kopf erfürchtig senken, wenn ein Abmahner einem auf der Strasse entgegenkommt…

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2006-09-13 Returning to Regular Blasting of So-Called Intellectual Property

I think all the SoftwarePatents crap coming our way means exactly one thing:

Should I ever start my own company, I would never monetize on the (potentially patent-infringing) product but on services.

Make the software open-source, release it, disown it, make it a public asset and thereby protect yourself from PatentTrolls.

Here’s some more depressing news from the wonderful world of patents.

RightToCreate writes about yet another patent troll:

Net2Phone, a Voice-Over-IP (VOIP) company that was largely unsuccessful in the marketplace has now turned to the tried-and-true strategy of suing its successful competitors with its overly-broad and extremely obvious patents. [1]

He quotes from Tim Lee over at the TechnologyLiberationFront, who uses a very nice image:

Some people seem to think that these kinds of bad software patents are anomalies--that there are good ones as well, and that we ought not to throw the baby out with the bath water. Yet I’ve seen news accounts of more than a dozen examples of bogus patent suits in recent months, but I have yet to see an example of a legitimate software patent. There’s an awful lot of bath water here, and I’m having trouble seeing the baby. [2]

I like the Technology Liberation Front subtitle: “The question is not whether machines think but whether men do.” :D

There more over at RightToCreate, such as “Reforming Software Patents” or “Owning the Idea of Tree Frog Venom” or “JPEG Patent Rejected”. Interesting reads, if you haven’t subscribed to the blog anyway. ;)

The JPEG thing is interesting:

It’s nice to see the Patent Office doing the right thing, but it’s too bad that more than $100 million dollars that Forgent has extorted from industry will never be returned to its rightful owners. Forgent gets to keep that money, regardless of how the PTO rules. For nearly 19 years, this patent has stood without challenge. Now, just over a year before it was to expire, the PTO declares that it is bogus. [3]

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2006-09-13 Thank You For Smoking

We went to see Thank You For Smoking (2005). Lovely. :)

You keep thinking that he’ll change his mind, but no. And he’s cheerful about it, too.


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2006-09-16 Atom Revisited

I went back to look at <span class="site">Atom</span><span class="separator">:</span><span class="page">:XML</span> and even wrote a mail to the maintainers, BenjaminTrott and Tatsuhiko Miyagawa, reporting on missing man pages and questions I had regarding the mode attribute of content elements.

But the most important piece I needed to know in order to write an Atom server inside Perl’s was knowing how to read the rest of the data from a POST request. The XML doesn’t come as part of the form!

I had to actually read the sources to figure it out. And the solution is very simple, except that it’s not documented in the man page:

  my $data = $q->param('POSTDATA');
  my $entry = XML::Atom::Entry->new(\$data);

Yes, an undocumented parameter. Argh!!

The system already knows how to handle POST (for new pages), GET (to read existing pages), there’s an Atom feed (but not yet as flexible as the existing RSS 2.0 feed). So, there’s PUT to implement for updating pages, and testing to do. I’m testing my extension using the XML::Atom::Client library. Having this kind of unit test really helps! Once you have the infrastructure set up, haha. I can’t believe it took me so long to figure out the POSTDATA thing. And looking back it seems incomprehensible to try and develop for Flock directly without the XML::Atom::Client library to write unit tests.

Update: Hah. Time passes. Little Alex wants to write the code that accepts PUT requests. And finds that no data is being read. How’s that? Correct, the stupid POSTDATA hack only works when looking at a POST request. D’oh!

So now I’m using the following:

sub AtomEntry { my $data = $q->param('POSTDATA'); if (not $data) { # CGI provides POSTDATA for POST requests, not for PUT requests local $/; # slurp $data = <STDIN>; } my $entry = XML::Atom::Entry->new(\$data); return $entry; }

Well, actually, since I was being paranoid, I looked at the source code again and rewrote it as follows:

sub AtomEntry { my $data = $q->param('POSTDATA'); if (not $data) { # CGI provides POSTDATA for POST requests, not for PUT requests. # The following code is based on the CGI->init code. my $content_length = defined($ENV{'CONTENT_LENGTH'}) ? $ENV{'CONTENT_LENGTH'} : 0; if ($content_length > 0 and $content_length < $MaxPost) { $q->read_from_client(\$data, $content_length, 0); } } my $entry = XML::Atom::Entry->new(\$data); return $entry; }


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2006-09-16 Eat Drink Man Woman

We enjoyed Yin shi nan nu (1994) aka Eat Drink Man Woman on DVD. Very nice. Unfortunately, I wasn’t too surprised by the surprise in the second half of the movie, since I faintly remembered something like it from a review I had read a long time ago.

Strange to see the diversity of Ang Lee movies. [1]


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2006-09-16 Radio killed CDs

James Gattuso at the TechnologyLiberationFront writes about a New York Times article claiming “Americans aged 12-24 in fact listen to broadcast radio as startling 15 percent less than they did only seven years ago.” [1] Looking at declining CD sales at the same time (need a link to some numbers, I faintly remember reading something about CDs being significantly down, as much as 50% this year), I made a strange observation. I used to buy several CDs a month from a Swiss website. I haven’t done so in many months. What happened? I’m afraid to use PeerToPeer filesharing. Instead, I’ve started listening to InternetRadio. Using StreamRipper, I have collected vast collections of MP3s at home and at work. Enough to last me through the year. And with the new SqueezeBox in my kitchen, InternetRadio doesn’t even require a computer up and running. It just connects to the net via our OpenWlan.

And in my bedroom, I have a little Tivoli Model One unit playing RadioTropic93… ;)


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2006-09-18 Anime Recommendations

Yesterday, we watched the first DVD in the Stargate: Atlantis series. Somebody had recommended Stargate in the past, and we couldn’t decide upon a movie to watch, so I suggested the series instead. Weird, having spent years without a TV connected to the networks, I feel reminded of my childhood. The first few scenes are ludicrous by my script standards, but I guess we’ll continue watching the series.

If we ever run out of things to watch, Steve Yegge has posted a list of anime recommendations I might want to follow up on. [1] Just a reminder to myself. :)


Comments on 2006-09-18 Anime Recommendations


It’s about “People, Computers, Computers, and People.”

LionKimbro 2006-09-18 14:47 UTC

CLAMP! :) I should read RG Veda again…

AlexSchroeder 2006-09-18 16:40 UTC

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2006-09-19 Javascript is too complex

Haha, Steve Yegge rants about Javascript, both good and bad. I liked the bad part about it. ;)

But my God, it’s sooooooo ugly. It’s got well over a decade of ugly packed in there. “Hello, World” in Mozilla is six or seven files in as many different languages. I kid you not. It’s worse than Hello, World was back in the Petzold days of Win32 programming. You have your XUL file and your JavaScript file and your CSS file and your manifest.rdf and your i18n.something and I can’t remember what all else. And then you have to build them together (using some other files) to make even more files: a JAR file and an XPI file at a minimum. That’s one gnarly-ass introductory program. [1]

Reminds me of some of the problems I had with J2EE… See 2005-04-19 Software.


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2006-09-19 Lost Books

At BookMooch, my stats [1] are as following:

  • Books to send: 2
  • Books sent: 3
  • Books to receive: 1
  • Books received: 6
  • Books given: 5

Today I got back a book I had sent to the US. “Return to Sender…” – Elvis Presley on my mind! :) Strangely enough the site doesn’t offer me an appropriate way to react to this fact. In its world, either sender or recipient can mark the book as “lost”, but there’s no way of indicating that it was returned. Maybe I should file a bug report or something.

Update: I went to the post office today and mailed out four books, including the one mentioned above (with the corrected address). It cost me CHF 55.10 – about USD 45. This time around, I think I got a book in every category:

CategoryPriceGrossbrief PRIO (0.204kg, ECO would have been 5.80)8.80Maxbrief ECO üb. Länder (0.370kg)10.00Maxbrief ECO Europa (0.657kg)12.00Maxbrief ECO üb. Länder (0.644kg)18.00

The above is postage, the rest is packaging.

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2006-09-19 New Testing Framework

I’m slowly migrating my huge homegrown monolithic to smaller files using Test::Harness & Test::More in my CVS:t directory. It’s looking good!

c:/Documents and Settings/asc/oddmuse $ make test perl -e 'use Test::Harness; $Test::Harness::switches = ""; runtests @ARGV;' t/*.t t/atom-test.........ok 42/42 skipped: No wiki running at http://localhost/cgi-bin/ t/creole............ok t/default-markup....ok t/irc...............ok t/tex...............ok All tests successful, 42 subtests skipped. Files=5, Tests=162, 12 wallclock secs ( 7.88 cusr + 3.10 csys = 10.98 CPU)

Notice that the new system makes it easy to skip tests if necessary elements of the infrastructure are not available.

An example of the old test system output is available on 2006-05-20 Oddmuse


c:/Documents and Settings/asc/oddmuse $ make test perl -e 'use Test::Harness; $Test::Harness::switches = ""; runtests @ARGV;' t/*.t t/all...............ok t/anchors...........ok t/atom-test.........ok 42/42 skipped: No wiki running at http://localhost/cgi-bin/ t/calendar..........ok t/comments..........ok t/config-page.......ok t/creole............ok t/crumbs............ok t/default-markup....ok t/image.............ok t/include...........ok t/indexed-search....ok t/irc...............ok t/link-all..........ok t/localnames........ok t/long-tables.......ok t/markup............ok t/moin..............ok t/setext............ok t/subscribe.........ok t/tags..............ok t/tex...............ok t/upload............ok All tests successful, 42 subtests skipped. Files=23, Tests=372, 104 wallclock secs (74.89 cusr + 25.34 csys = 100.22 CPU)

And much later:

... All tests successful. Files=53, Tests=1060, 670 wallclock secs (378.46 cusr + 72.08 csys = 450.54 CPU)

Yes!!! Hurray!! Bilge Rats and Rum!! Wenches and a file wigglin’ and boastin’ fer ya, laddie!


Comments on 2006-09-19 New Testing Framework

unit testing++

gnuvince 2006-09-19 20:44 UTC

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2006-09-20 Bad Journalistic Style

Here’s what I commented on GreyWulf’s article on the ApostropheCatastrophe. Having to put a copy here just goes to show how crappy this blogging stuff is. You can’t trust anyone to keep your stuff online. You can’t engage in any real conversations because blogs have such crappy RSS interfaces (comments separate from articles, no way to subscribe to comment threads where you have contributed, and so on).

Well, there are two things, here. There’s the part about typography. I enjoyed The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst. And then there’s journalistic integrity. Which I’d like to split up into two issues, one of which you have mentioned:

  1. Terrible writing style be concatenating a bunch of quotes without offering any interpretation or background. That’s just the lousiest and laziest kind of interview post-processing. But it’s cheap. So our Zeitgeist supports it.
  2. The misguided attempt to be impartial by listing every stakeholder’s opinion, no matter how lousy they are. That’s a very strange interpretation of neutrality and impartiality, but sometimes this is exactly the external form it assumes: Just give equal space to both sides of an issue, and ignore the fact that maybe there are more sides to the issue, or shades of gray between two extremes, or that one of the two sides is so seriously misguided that giving both sides equal space effectively supports an untennable position.

There a difference between having an opinion and reporting on somebody else having an opinion. I usually don’t see it as trying to avoid litigation, which is what you have claimed, because this only works if you clearly attribute it to somebody, and then issue #1 is more relevant: Bad style. No, I think the real reason is the kind of relativism explained by issue #2: Putting things in quotes takes away the ‘sting’. It adds irony and undermines authority, supports the sceptic in us. Nothing bad about it, actually. It’s a ‘rhetoric’ element. It can be ‘used’ to good effect. Or it can be ‘overdone’, if you see what I ‘mean’. So it’s either bad style (#1) or a misguided attempt at being impartial (#2).


Comments on 2006-09-20 Bad Journalistic Style

You can’t engage in any real conversations because blogs have such crappy RSS interfaces (comments separate from articles, no way to subscribe to comment threads where you have contributed, and so on).

Agree entirely. I’m thinking about moving from usng OddMuse on my site as a wikiblog to using it as a straight wiki. It’ll involve a little education (ie, clear, simple instructions) for visitors, but will simplify the whole conversation style problem.

Thoughts, as ever, appreciated :)

GreyWulf 2006-09-22 10:49 UTC

Maybe the simple RSS feed to all pages matching “AlexSchroeder” on your site would solve a big part of my problem, though. Who knows. ;)

AlexSchroeder 2006-09-22 13:24 UTC

Heh. That’s just too easy :)

GreyWulf 2006-09-22 22:39 UTC

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2006-09-21 Piratenpartei chancenlos

TelePolis berichtet, dass die schwedische Piratenpartei an der Urne leider gar nicht gut abgeschnitten hat:

Sie hat nicht die 4% erreicht, die für einen Sitz im Parlament in Schweden erforderlich sind, und sie hat noch nicht einmal die 1% erreicht, die eine Beteiligung am Wahlunterstützungsfond sichern würden, mit dem dann auch zukünftige Wahlkämpfe finanziert werden könnten. Gerade einmal 0,62% der Wähler konnten sich für die Befreiung des Wissens erbarmen. [1]

Das Fazit von Telepolis: Die Leute sehen dies nicht als Problem an, trotz Prozesswut der Verwertungsgesellschaften und Abzockerei der Rechtinhaber. Noch trauriger und vor allem sehr peinlich ist die Entwicklung der deutschen Piratenpartei, auf die in der zweiten Hälfte des Artikels eingegangen wird.

Erstaunlich, übrigens, was so nebenbei im gleichen Artikel steht: “Einschlägige reaktionäre Schimpfworte wie ‘Gutmenschen’ sind wieder salonfähig geworden, obwohl sie dem Sprachgebrauch der Nationalsozialisten entstammen.”

Das wusste ich nicht. Und “Gutmensch” ist auch hier in der Schweiz ein Schimpfwort, dass gerne von der rechten SVP gegen alle möglichen “Linken” verwendet wird – wobei “links” hier meistens einfach “links von der SVP” bedeutet, nicht so weit links, dass auch ich das als links bezeichnen würde. ;)

Auf Wikipedia (DeutscheWikipedia:Gutmensch) findet sich hierzu nur ein Hinweis am Rande samt Link: “Nach einer von WDR-Journalist Jürgen Hoppe gestützten Auffassung ist das Wort ‘Gutmensch’ 1941 von Joseph Goebbels erfunden worden. Demnach leiteten die Nationalsozialisten das Wort aus dem jiddischen ‘a gutt Mensch’ ab.” [2] Woher Hoppe dies allerdings hat, bleibt unklar. Diverse Leute sind dem nachgegangen und sind auch keiner Quelle fündig geworden. (Google:Göbbels+Gutmensch)

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2006-09-21 System Load

What determines system load? EmacsWiki is hosted on a server that is seeing incredible load: Usually above 5, sometimes above 10. Oddmuse is fast, but on, it’s slow as a dog because there’s always an initial delay. I have noted the same delay when connecting via ssh and running as simple a command as ls. When I run Emacs, things are fast. When I do filename completion, there’s that delay again. Is it the disk?

Look at the output of top – there seems to be no %CPU usage. Perhaps some processes are hidden from me. That’s the only explanation I can think of.

top - 00:20:26 up 37 days, 12:26,  3 users,  load average: 11.76, 8.21, 6.38
Tasks:  51 total,   2 running,  49 sleeping,   0 stopped,   0 zombie
Cpu(s): 32.6% us,  4.3% sy,  3.3% ni, 23.3% id, 36.2% wa,  0.0% hi,  0.3% si
Mem:   2059712k total,  2043180k used,    16532k free,   141856k buffers
Swap:  2097144k total,   291732k used,  1805412k free,   801332k cached

  PID USER      PR  NI  VIRT  RES  SHR S %CPU %MEM    TIME+  COMMAND              
 8007 aschremm  16   0  5364 1640 1392 S  0.3  0.1   7:27.25 top                  
    1 root      16   0  1532  466 1296 S  0.0  0.1   0:01.18 cron                 
 1209 root      15   0  3552  760  664 S  0.0  0.0   0:19.33 sshd                 
 6823 aschremm  15   0 11752 7096  744 S  0.0  0.3   9:56.24 screen               
 6824 aschremm  16   0  7748 1388 1384 S  0.0  0.1   0:00.08 zsh                  
 6842 aschremm  16   0 11396 8272 1728 S  0.0  0.4  11:48.22 run_supybot          
 6852 aschremm  16   0  6900 1300 1296 S  0.0  0.1   0:00.05 zsh                  
 6861 aschremm  15   0 56332  40m 3772 S  0.0  2.0  61:56.18 irssi                
 8007 aschremm  16   0  5364 1640 1392 S  0.0  0.1   7:27.24 top                  
19423 aschremm  16   0  5796 1576 1500 S  0.0  0.1   0:00.02 sqlite3              

How can I prove that my wiki is not involved in this load problem?

Tags: RSS

Comments on 2006-09-21 System Load

Hm, if a system is getting slow, the HD could be the problem (it is the problem we encounter most on our server farm). Did you check /var/log/messages for "I/O error” or similar? Load of >10 is already quite a lot, depending on the system, sw running, … Could also be, that there’s a lot of IO traffic slowing down the system. Or too less RAM. Does your machine swap? More usefull commands which eventually help: pstree, ps -auxw|grep wiki, netstat, vmstat (but probably you already checked them…)

2ni 2006-09-22 09:41 UTC

Well, disk IO was what the admin told me. In a shared hosting environment, however, I’d like to see whether it is my scripts causing the problem or not.

At the moment load seems back under control. I am serving the four most popular RSS feeds from the filesystem (and regenerating them every two hours) instead of generating thousands of them every day. Specially the RSS feed containing full page content is a hog, and serving uploaded files from the filesystem, automatically changing the links to the current version of the image in the wiki to point to the static copy of the file.

Load is between 1 and 4, at the moment. I find it very frustrating to not have proof, however, that it was in fact my change that solved the problem.

AlexSchroeder 2006-09-22 22:37 UTC

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2006-09-24 Switzerland’s Shame

I have no words. Swiss voters take hard line on asylum and immigration – we’re now getting some of the strictest asylum and immigration laws in Europe.

Building the highest walls for Fortress Europe.

Here’s what the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, has to say about Switzerland [1]:

; 27 July 2004: UNHCR raises concerns about proposed revisions of Swiss asylum law ; 18 March 2005: Switzerland: UNHCR deeply regrets adoption of new asylum law ; 27 September 2005: What is UNHCR's opinion of new Swiss asylum measures? ; 24 September 2006: The Swiss do not reject the revisions to the laws on foreigners and asylum seekers.

I remember seeing a flyer that basically showed soldiers in the second world war guarding refugees, and a title saying: “2 × NO – so that we won’t have to feel the shame fifty years later.”

I guess we can start now.

Shame on us.

It reminds me of an earlier referendum against easy naturalisation of second (!) and third (!!) generation foreigners living in Switzerland. You’ll find my German rant on 2004-09-27 Switzerland. See also ForeignersInSwitzerland.

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Comments on 2006-09-24 Switzerland’s Shame

Fuck Blocher!

oo 2006-10-03 20:18 UTC

Naja, der alleine hat das ja nicht verursacht. Den hat man schliesslich gewählt, und die Gesetze hat man auch angenommen. Die Verantwortung liegt leider auf all unseren Schultern. :(

AlexSchroeder 2006-10-03 20:59 UTC

The above comment refers to a populist from the xenophobic right called Blocher who’s part of our government. In my response I say that he didn’t do it on his own. People voted for him. People didn’t reject the two laws proposed. Thus, the responsibility lies on all our shoulders.

AlexSchroeder 2006-10-04 12:41 UTC

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2006-09-25 Code 46

I don’t really like Tim Robbins as an actor, because he seems to be in a melancholy mood at all times. I liked the movie Code 46 (2003) because of it’s ideas, not because of its actors. Light, contrast, cuts – nothing revolutionary, I think. Her voice from offside as a narrator is interesting, eventhough he’s the main character. What remains are some interesting ideas: How the near future looks very much like a hyper version of our current world: Skyscrapers, trains, cars, highways, deserts, slums, arid plains, arabic medinas – a selective picking of elements that make up our current world. The mixing of foreign language elements like “Lo siento” or “Khuda hafiz” seem contrived, but the rest of the totally globalized and gated future (Fortress Europe, anyone?) seem very plausible. Cloning, and the resulting incest problems, a down-to-earth description of what clones will be like, memory manipulation, how to live a marriage under such conditions, all of them quite interesting.

We had to fast-forward through a scene towards the end, however.

Thank you SuShee for your list of recommended movies.

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2006-09-25 DRM pisses me off

We’ve been watching Stargate Atlantis episodes on DVD, and we’ve noted that after the first four or five DVDs, something changed: The disc starts with trailers for other movies and series, and a spot on how copyright is a crime. And the spot’s a bad one at that: basically a hot girl tells her cracker-wannabe that she shall report him to the police if he doesn’t come to bed right now – bed, or jail, she says at the end. And why am I telling you this? Because the bastards decided that I was not allowed to skip the crap.

When I first realized this, I had a hard time believing their impertinence. They sure are not making any friends with that.

I hit stop, talked about it with Claudia, hit play again, and realized that the stupid bastards forced me to watch the entire crap again from the beginning. The gall! Incredible. This goes so much against our notion of what we are supposed to be able to do with “our” material, it just goes to show how the entire “licensing” crapology is unnatural.

So we watched the trailers again, on mute. Then we had an idea: Let’s spontaneously speak a different dialogue for the anti-piracy spot. At least we had some fun. Somebody must have uploaded similar ideas to YouTube.

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Comments on 2006-09-25 DRM pisses me off

Just this single ‘feature’ makes me want to rip stuff and burn it again without all those creepy ‘piracy is the same as eating babies’ spots. Most of the DVDs I have of TV shows now take about 2 minutes before I finally get to play the stuff I want to see. The crowning glory is the ‘Depending on the disc the operation may not be allowed’ message I get when I try to skip the crap.

AlokSingh 2006-09-25 12:21 UTC

My point exactly! “Operation not allowed by disc” or some such insult. Grrrr! >{

I’m just waiting for the day when the DRM loonies show the message: “Singing along while listing to the soundtrack is not allowed by this disc.”

AlexSchroeder 2006-09-25 12:54 UTC

I agree too.

All protections, drm and the likes cause much more trouble to those who actually want to go the legal way than to pirates. After all, you bought the DVD and you’re the one annoyed by the spots. You buy a cd and can not play it on your pc, while your colleagues enjoy the same music from p2p. etc…etc…


– PierreGaston 2006-09-25 13:06 UTC

This is one of the reasons I watch DVDs on my laptop, which does allow me to skip all this crap. Go libdvdcss go!

AadityaSood 2006-09-25 17:06 UTC

Agree 100%. We watched Series 3 and 4 of 24 and had to endure the “you wouldn’t steal a handbag” crap at the start of every-single-DVD.

By the end of it I had an overwhelming desire to steal a handbag.

GreyWulf 2006-09-25 22:28 UTC

This is why I tend to put in a DVD and then a minute or so later turn on the TV. :)

ChuckSmith 2006-10-04 16:15 UTC

Haha, that’s what we have started doing, too!

And when we go to the movies, I no longer feel like I have to be on time. Twenty minutes of ads, plus a warning that pulling out your camera and aiming it at the screen is a criminal offense – I don’t want to be on-time for that!

AlexSchroeder 2006-10-04 18:02 UTC

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2006-09-26 Decline of Civility

I find that I hardly enjoy the conversation on the EmacsChannel anymore. There’s five people on my ignore list at work. There was nobody on my ignore list at home but now there is. :(

A few days ago I wrote about the dilemma of operators that use an IgnoreList on Community Wiki.

Looking back on my Emacs history, I realize how I started out reading EmacsNewsgroups (searching for my name on Google Groups [Groups:&as_uauthors=alex+schroeder] shows 1,240 matches…) to reading emacs-devel (on of the EmacsMailingLists), to IRC and EmacsWiki


Comments on 2006-09-26 Decline of Civility

That’s the problem with the net. The more it becomes social, the more it becomes anti-social. Just like life, I guess :)

GreyWulf 2006-09-27 00:25 UTC

I agree about the conversation on [EmacsChannel #emacs]. Am I right in thinking that this is a feeling shared by many of the people who used to be regulars on the channel when I first started lurking there but who no longer speak much ? As you pointed out /ignore doesn’t address the problem, but I don’t see how anything can be done without a definite ‘code of conduct’. You have to be an egomaniac to survive in places like debian-devel.

AlokSingh 2006-09-27 06:58 UTC

Well, I talked to at least one other op who barely hangs out on #emacs anymore. I’m not sure a ‘code of conduct’ would help – this would assuming these people violate the unspoken code of conduct based on common sense (as we do during our daily lives) out of ignorance. Writing down these rules would help if the set of rules were a complete description of acceptable behaviour, in that case. But it would turn off almost everybody else. At least I’d see it as an insult to my intelligence. And think about it: Where in real life do you have such a thing? Not in my family, not amongst my friends, not at university, not at work. There was a primitive code at school, but it relied on persons of authority to work: Teachers, principals, and parents. And if we raise operators to the level of teachers and lower ordinary channel members to the level of students, that also insults the intelligence of many people on the channel.

There are two ways out, I think:

  1. Split it up into smaller groups again. Join me on #emacs-fu. ;)
  2. Use irrational means, in the sense of PoeticReasoning. Read the crap, be angry, kick people who you find annoying, without bothering much with explanations. A simple “wash your mouth” or “have some respect” would be enough. Having no written rules makes it hard to game such a system.

AlexSchroeder 2006-09-27 09:41 UTC

The channel has lost it’s spark. No longer the fun conversations happen. I feel sad :(

AadityaSood 2006-09-27 12:42 UTC

I like the irrational idea :). And you’ll see me on #emacs-fu.

AlokSingh 2006-09-27 13:36 UTC

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2006-09-27 Sicherheitsgelaber

TelePolis hat eine gute Zusammenfassung der Situation in Berlin:

Die amtlich bestallten “Sicherheitsexperten” – und Harms hat recht, wenn sie sich nicht als eine solche bezeichnet – sind für die Risikoeinschätzung verantwortlich. Ein Innensenator kann nicht einfach seine Verantwortung, die ja auch die Verfassung umgreift, auf die Leitung der Oper abschieben. Der Skandal ist, dass all die freiheitsliebenden Menschen von der Politik und den Sicherheitskräften wegschauen und einen leicht angreifbaren und schon verunsicherten Sündenbock – noch dazu eine Frau - finden wollen. Wenig durchdacht und vor allem feige. Aber es scheint zu funktionieren. [1]

Alle Politiker machen auf Panik damit mehr Überwachung erlaubt wird. Wenn dann jemand den Quatsch ernst nimmt, sich nicht mehr wohl fühlt, und entsprechend reagiert, gibt es Vorwürfe. Womit sich zeigt, dass der ganze Sicherheitsdiskurs eine hochpolitische Angelegenheit ist. Mein Tipp: Abwählen!

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2006-09-27 Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

I’m enjoying Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town by Cory Doctorow a lot. Got a dead-leaves copy via BookMooch. I don’t enjoy reading books on a computer. I’m near the end and it’s a great read. I like how he switches storylines, mixes past and present, dances between the mythological and the real. I think the subtitle on the cover is spot-on: “A miraculous novel if secrets, lies, magic—and Internet connectivity.”

OpenWlan powah! :D

I recommend it.

The book is also available for download. Unfortunatly the download page doesn’t really link to the precise license text. [1] Or I can’t find it. Something non-commercial, with an exception for developing countries.

I feel like editing the book and taking out the cruel evil zombie stuff. I didn’t like that part.

I loved the description of the plump girl. :)

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Comments on 2006-09-27 Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

I can see the License on this page [1] (you have to scroll down some 3-4 pages)

I think perhaps the license is embedded in each media format, rather than on the download page.

AadityaSood 2006-09-27 06:25 UTC

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2006-09-27 Voting Machines Are Evil

TechnologyLiberationFront explains why voting machines are evil. [1]. Two characteristics prevent fraud:

  1. Transparency – “the entire process is generally open to anyone who wants to observe it”
  2. Decentralization – “each precinct reports its results independently of all the others”

I agree with Tim Lee: Using free software for voting machines introduces a tiny bit of transparency, but other than that, the problems remain.

More articles got written later: How using free software will lead to a situation in which “the integrity of our voting system can only be verified by a small sliver of the electorate” and all other security problems such as machine access or software verification would remain as bad as they are now [2], and how Ed Felten should suggest the abolition of voting machines. [3]

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2006-09-27 You Could Be An Enemy Combatant

The recent decisions in Washington have strengthened my resolve to not put foot on American soil and to make a point of it whenever possible. TelePolis reports that the CIA kann still abduct people on the most foggy of pretense, keep them in concentration camps like in Guantánamo for indefinite time, and torture them, since at the same time prisoners are denied access to real lawyers and civil courts, prevented from sueing for compensation, and CIA agents are protected from prosecution. [1] [2]

It’s disgustingly similar in theory to the kind of regimes the USA is trying to fight all over the world. If it is not similar in practice, then that’s only due to their mercy, not due to our rights. And there’s a big difference between standing up for your rights and hoping for mercy.

Telepolis also links to a Washington Post article on the subject with words from an ACLU spokesman. [3]

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Comments on 2006-09-27 You Could Be An Enemy Combatant

It’s scary to be here.

LionKimbro 2006-10-03 04:01 UTC

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2006-09-29 Vernor Vinge

I’m reading A Fire Upon The Deep by Vernor Vinge. It’s my first Vinge book and was published 1992. How did I manage to miss this author all these years? I remember leaning back after the first forty pages, stunned. So many interesting ideas! The tone is cool and emotions don’t seem to be his forte, but unlike many cyberpunk authors, he doesn’t try to pass off style and WordMagic for cool ideas. His ideas are cool. Well, I just finished part one of the book, let’s hope he can keep it up.

Update: Strange. I had a “déjà lu” experience (déjà vu → already seen, déjà lu → already read, by extension) when I happened upon the hidden servants of the Blight. Maybe I did read this book ten or more years ago…

I feel old.

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Comments on 2006-09-29 Vernor Vinge

I think it’s strange giving books away, at least some: they tell my life: what I used to read, to like, how I changed , or not :-), over the years…. They are mirror of my life. For me giving a book to someone is giving him or her a small insight of mySelf,sharing something which is dear to me. I could never give a book without thinking to whom it goes and if it will be respected or even cherished. It’s very personal… So I think I wouldn’t be able to just send away my books. I really hope that one day, after my passing, my kids would go through my books and remember: ha, that’s how she felt, that’s what moved her, that’s what she was interested in.. And then they would pick one out to keep with the feeling that’s the one which reflects best what my mom was… I downladede the book you talked about. I wonder if I will like it. Sentences are short and vocabulary seems not very elaborated… It’s not so my style… But we’ll see… Here a book I liked, though it tokk its time to get the nack of it: The poisonwood Bible, from Barbara Kingssolver.

– mom 2006-10-05 19:09 UTC

Well, I admit that I’m not giving away the books I loved just yet. For the moment, I’m listing the books I will definitely never read again, because they were either too bad, too boring, or too ordinary to merrit a second reading.

Oh, and please feel free to write in any language you want. Some of my pages are in German, after all. :)

AlexSchroeder 2006-10-05 19:47 UTC

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2006-09-30 Saving Drafts

I’ve been working on the Oddmuse:Draft Extension, inspired by a discussion on the WikiMatrix about auto-saving. [1]

I installed it on CommunityWiki and will have to iron-out the remaining usability issues. And maybe add a piece of javascript or two…

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