Saturday, March 29, 2008

QOTD, Scientist RE: Doomsday, There (may) be Dragons

Perhaps you have heard of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) operated by European Center for Nuclear Research or NAMBLA, err I mean CERN.

For those of you who haven't. Its a monstrous 8 Billion dollar machine outside Geneva, constructed for the purpose of smashing tiny particles into each other at unbelievable levels of energy and speed to recreate conditions a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang.

Why, well to do science requires observation. We cannot exactly observe that instant back in time, so why not recreate it.

The problem is, a couple of people think its a really, really bad idea. The kind of idea that could end life as we know it on earth, either through the production of stranglets or a micro black hole that could swallow us all. Walter L. Wagner and Luis Sancho feel so strongly that they are suing CERN in Hawaii asking for "a temporary restraining order prohibiting CERN from proceeding with the accelerator until it has produced a safety report and an environmental assessment."

Why Hawaii has any jurisdiction over an international science organization in Switzerland, is anybody's guess.

All of this is reported in today's NYTimes and covered by Slashdot and various Tech rags. And leads us directly to The QUOTE OF THE DAY:

Dr. Arkani-Hamed said concerning worries about the death of the Earth or universe, “Neither has any merit.” He pointed out that because of the dice-throwing nature of quantum physics, there was some probability of almost anything happening. There is some minuscule probability, he said, “the Large Hadron Collider might make dragons that might eat us up.”

When are they planning on firing this thing up? I want to be ready, my suit of armor is still out being repaired.

Strip courtesy of

CERN has a page dedicated to these concerns. They get second place for Quote of the Day with this.

Microscopic black holes will not eat you...


Friday, March 28, 2008

Why Miguel, Why?

Dear Miguel,

Read your post. One question immediately springs to mind.


You said:

I have been reading the OOXML storm in a teacup for more than a year now. Am looking forward to the approval of OOXML as an ISO standard and to be able to move the discussion back to the things that actually matter: free and open source software.
I think we all agree that what matters is Free and Open Source software. Where we differ is in the looking forward to the ISO approval of OOXML.

How would this be beneficial to FLOSS? The implication is that the long string of "countless bytes" being "wasted" on this subject would be over, and we will all get back to writing about more important matters.

The problem with this way of thinking is not to hard understand. Most of the Free Software community is strongly opposed to OOXML as an ISO standard, either because of the FACT that it is a horribly incomplete and unimplementable document format or the FACT that OOXML is redundant. ISO already approved a document standard, ODF.

Punditry and lobbying will not get us very far, real work will.

Surely, you don't honestly think the pundits do that work, do you? I'm a pundit and sure I submit bug reports (not as often as I should), I write software (not as much as I'd like), but my real contribution is as an advocate, to my customers and to my visitors. (and pretty much anybody else who doesn't run screaming from the room)

So I ask you again, how will ISO approval of a proprietary, incomplete, Microsoft format, benefit the Free Desktop, or Open Source office applications?

In short Why Miguel? Why are you looking forward to it?

We have about 24hrs left for the decisions of member countries to be tallied. I for one, am looking forward to Monday, when we (hopefully) will have a single open and implementable document format. I look forward to Microsoft supporting that format in order to meet the requirements of government agencies the world over who mandate their data be Vendor Neutral and long lived.

Looking forward to Microsoft subverting an International Standards Organizations submission process, and beginning a new era of vendor lock-in and monopolistic office suites seems to be antithetical to Free and Open Source philosophy.

Of course there is another possibility. Perhaps, and this pure speculation of the wildest kind, but perhaps, you care less about the philosophy of open source and Free Software than you would have us believe. Perhaps you speak publicly from the same script as Patrick Durusau, mainly that ISO approval of OOXML is good for ODF. I am as persuaded by your argument as I am by his. You seem completely unfazed by the questionable tactics Microsoft has employed to try to ram this spec down the ISO's throat.

Maybe it is time for you to get back to your roots. Your entanglement in Microsoft technology has become more troubling every year. It is as if, you cannot see the thorns of the brambles you are wading through. It troubles me personally, the free desktop world needs good coders and if nothing else you certainly are that.

What happened to you Miguel, you used to be cool?


This is a verbatim copy of an email sent to Miguel, No comment section on his blog.

For more coverage of the ISO approval process of OOXML:
Last Minute Vote Switching in OOXML Decision
Continuing Coverage of the process at
Vote Tallies as we learn them @ OpenMalaysia

Update: Unofficial reports indicate Approval. By one vote. How depressing! We must wait until Wednesday for the official announcement according to Roger Frost @ ISO a press release will be issued.

Update#2 - 3/31/2008: Miguel has responded by email. First I must thank him (again) for his time. Second he has asked that I keep our conversation private. Rest assured he answered my Why question and made a vigorous defense of his position. He has done so in such a way that was, frankly, reassuring about his commitments to Free Software despite the allusions and appearances otherwise. I still disagree with him, but I understand his reasoning a little better now.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Craigslist Bringing Looters Together at Robert Salisbury Home

Often the Internet is touted as a worldwide communication medium that brings people together. Well in Jacksonville, Oregon this week, the Internet certainly brought quite few people together.

They were responding to a Craigslist posting about a man forced to leave his home in a hurry and abandon his property including his Horse and all needed new homes.

This delighted the surrounding community and surprised Robert Salisbury, the owner. Salisbury came home to find around 30 people rummaging through his property. En route he passed a truck filled with his lawn equipment and cars loaded with his belongings.

"I informed them I was the owner, but they refused to give the stuff back," Salisbury said. "They showed me the Craigslist printout and told me they had the right to do what they did."

"They honestly thought that because it appeared on the Internet it was true," Salisbury said. "It boggles the mind."
It certainly does. Police are promising to prosecute anyone found with Mr Salisbury's property, while at the same time promising amnesty to anyone who returns their ill gotten goods "no questions asked." Check out the AP Video for more.

This is not the first time a Craigslist hoax has resulted in disaster. Last year in April a Tacoma Washington woman had a rental property basically gutted by scores of people responding to an unknown hoaxer's ad on the popular service.
Home trashed after cruel Craigslist hoax @ WKGW

Horrible! I wonder though, did there used to be a Mrs. Salisbury?


iPhone SDK updated

Apple was kind enough to let me know a new updated iPhone SDK has been released.

The second beta version of the iPhone SDK is now available and includes Interface Builder, a powerful tool that allows you to visually build your interface and makes creating a UI as simple as drag and drop.

We've also added new sample code and updated documentation to the rich set of resources available to you in the iPhone Dev Center.

Log in to the iPhone Dev Center today and download the new version of the iPhone SDK.
Too bad I can't use it. No Mac, No way to check out what sounds like a nifty Gui Builder.
Leaving us Linux (and Windows) using devs out in the cold. Par for the course I suppose. Could this be the must have thing to get me to take the plunge? A Mac Mini wouldn't be so bad would it? Still torn.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"Ancient" Audio and the Phonautograph

You may remember an April Fools hoax a few years ago about audio captured on clay pottery that made its way around the net. Or you may remember the Mythbusters covering the possibility (Busted, If I remember correctly).

Leaving Edison as the first able to "record" audio for future playback. Well, not exactly. According to the NYTimes, that honor goes to a Frenchman named Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, who "recorded" a 10 second clip of “Au Clair de la Lune” on of all things PAPER almost 20 years before Edison and his tin foil and nearly 30 years before the wax cylinder.

Scott’s device had a barrel-shaped horn attached to a stylus, which etched sound waves onto sheets of paper blackened by smoke from an oil lamp. The recordings were not intended for listening; the idea of audio playback had not been conceived. Rather, Scott sought to create a paper record of human speech that could later be deciphered.
The NYTimes article has even included the clip in MP3 format. Holy Digital Conversion, Batman. Apparently it took almost 150 years, a few engineers and the assistance of computers and scanners to be able to playback any of his recordings. But hey, first is First right. It goes on to state how excited a group of audiophiles and historians are that this important piece of history has been uncovered and will be presented at the annual conference of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif on Friday. But then again these guys are an excitable bunch anyway.

Read the full article here.

OK, sure the guy "recorded" sound, he apparently was very upset that Edison beat him to the patent office and generally received all the glory. Somehow though, I think recording 10 seconds on 2 sheets of paper would make an LP sized recording equivalent to an encyclopedia and thus slightly impractical.

What do you think? has a rather lengthy piece on the Scott and his curious phonautograph device, including some lovely photos.


TeeWars becomes TeeWorlds, Stays Fun

A game I reviewed a while back, TeeWars has updated to a newer version 0.40 along with the updated weapons physics and gameplay comes a new name, TeeWorlds, and a new License. This was followed quickly by a bugfix release 0.4.1 a few days later.

I applaud the developers for all their hard work. TeeWorlds is a worthy upgrade and still way too much fun. A new weapon, the Laser Gun, was added. The physics tweaked and a double jump indicator has been added. Also included is a much needed map autodownloader. Gameplay balance has also been tweaked, although I didn't notice the changes in my testing. The game runs fine under Windows and Linux without hassle on my setups.

The laser seems a bit odd, kind of laggy. Could be just me though, as opponents seem to have no trouble hitting me with it.

A map editor is also included, Press Ctrl-Shift E to start it. Good luck figuring it out though as it is not supported by the developer as of yet.

Most interesting to me was the license change. I received many comments about the old license and the fact that it was not Open Source. Mattricks, the lead developer, reassured me that the new license would be.

Here is the text of the new license for TeeWorlds.

Copyright (C) 2007-2008 Magnus Auvinen

This software is provided 'as-is', without any express or implied
warranty. In no event will the authors be held liable for any damages
arising from the use of this software.

Permission is granted to anyone to use this software for any purpose,
including commercial applications, and to alter it and redistribute it
freely, subject to the following restrictions:

1. The origin of this software must not be misrepresented; you must not
claim that you wrote the original software. If you use this software
in a product, an acknowledgment in the product documentation would be
appreciated but is not required.
2. Altered source versions must be plainly marked as such, and must not be
misrepresented as being the original software.
3. This notice may not be removed or altered from any source distribution.
4. Neither this software nor any of its individual components, in original
or modified versions, may be sold by itself.


IMPORTANT NOTE! The source under src/engine/external are stripped
libraries with their own licenses. Mostly BSD or zlib/libpng license but
check the individual libraries.


With that being said, contact us if there is anything you want to do
that the license does not premit.

#4 is a little troublesome, but according to the OSI's Open Source Definition, it qualifies.

1. Free Redistribution

The license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the software as a component of an aggregate software distribution containing programs from several different sources. The license shall not require a royalty or other fee for such sale.

In the final analysis, I highly recommend TeeWorlds. A cute, fun, multiplayer online platform shooter.

For a more in depth look, see our previous review.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Eggs

Linux and Free Software is written by clever programmers. As such, undocumented features creep in to the most mainstream of applications. We call these Easter Eggs, because you have to hunt them.

Here are a few of my favorites.

From the terminal:


apt-get moo

aptitude moo -v

aptitude moo -vv

aptitude moo -vvv

etcetera and so on

Take a break from all that number crunching and enjoy a few games in Open Office Calc

Open a new Spreadsheet

In Cell A1 type =GAME(A2:C4;"TicTacToe")


In Cell A1 type =GAME("StarWars")

A couple more Open Office Easter Eggs

In any Calc cell type =TTT() to get a random smiley.

In any Calc Cell type =STARCALCTEAM()

In the Help->About Screen Press CTRL-S-D-T

Skype Hidden Chat Emoticons
(I know its not "free", but it is available for Linux, so there)

(london) (mooned) (bandit) (finger) (toivo) (rock) (smoking) (tmi) (heidy)

(poolparty) (bug) (fubar) (drunk) (headbang) (flag:US) (myspace)

Last but not Least, The Best Linux Easter Egg Ever

That's enough for this year. Have a Happy Easter! Feel free leave your favorites in the comments.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Chickens Come Home to Roost

I am angry.

Like everyone else in this country, I have heard Rev. Jeremiah Wright say "America's Chickens come home to roost" about 4 billion times. I've heard Barrack Obama talk about his white grandmother. I've watched the talking heads express disgust and shock and horror at all of it.

What I haven't seen is the context either was said in. Sam Stein over at the Huffington Post thoughtfully points out that when the chicken statement is heard in context and properly attributed, all of a sudden the disgust and shock and horror are missing. Replaced instead by a general feeling of "Can I get an Amen!" Don't believe me? Set aside 10 minutes of your life and watch the whole sermon that was hacked up and looped over and over.

Barrack Obama's speech following the media blitz of Rev Wright snippets was a powerful adult treatment of race relations likened by many, who have actually watched or listened to it in it's entirety, to speeches by Martin Luther King Jr.

I did not get to see it. You could have watched the news for 48hrs straight after the speech was given, and you wouldn't have seen it either. I was fortunate enough to read a large excerpt of it. It gave me chills. The speech is over 37 minutes long. The advice given by one pundit was sit down with your children and watch it with them. I couldn't agree more.

Context is everything. Sound bites are meaningless. Whenever you see 5 seconds of video looped over and over on CNN, Fox, etc, it should give you pause and cause you to wonder what is as Paul Harvey would say "the rest of the story"

This is not a political blog. In no way am I endorsing any candidate. (Vote Quimby) Every once in a while, the media perverts truth to such an extent people must speak out.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

South Park Studio

I enjoyed the Simpsonator, I had not seen this one though. South Park Studio.

Used Successfully by Gabe Schwarzer to create this little Gem

Sir Arthur C Clarke Dead at age 90


No obituary could sum up the life of the amazing author, Sir Arthur C. Clarke.

He imagined the geostationary satellite, the space elevator. He wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey. He was knighted by Prince Charles.

That would be enough for celebrating a full life, yet somehow falls woefully short in describing Clarke.

His writings, both fiction and non-fiction, inspired generations of scientist and engineers to bring his imagination to life. Even today the next generation is feverishly toiling away to bring the Space Elevator to reality.

Clarke's Three Laws
  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Interesting Places to remember Sir Clarke.

Clarke's Foundation

Famous Quotes by Clarke

Unbelievably, 90 years feels like not quite enough. We'll miss you Sir, and Thank You.
Information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, and wisdom is not foresight. Each grows out of the other, and we need them all.
Arthur C. Clarke (1917 - 2008)


Monday, March 17, 2008

Kubuntu Mini Install Fest

MrCopilot was asked to assist in a Linux deployment for a home over the weekend. I usually jump at the chance to help bring new users to the fold. This particular request though, came from a person with a Masters Degree in Computer Science. Installation of most distributions is now so easy that surely my learned colleague could handle this task on his own, I encouraged him to do so, and I would help with any problems he encountered.

Well I was wrong. Linux is not Windows. Those of us who use it regularly tend to forget how difficult the learning curve can be. I must give him and Kubuntu credit. He managed to get both machines up and running, wifi working and even a seamless virtual Windows installed with Virtual Box. Using the almighty Google to handle any questions. Unfortunately, adept was hopelessly broken and frustration started to set in. I was called on site.

1 Kubuntu disc, 8 Hours, and 4 PCs later. I offer this Post Mortem.

The clients were 2 wonderful pre-Tween sisters, who up until now had shared a room and a single Windows PC in the "play room." Now they have their own rooms equipped with fairly beefy PCs. Their usage habits include surfing the web, playing online games (Club Penguin and Gaia Online) and a few anime MMOs.

Kubuntu 7.10 was chosen for a couple of reasons, ease of use, maturity, and stability. We have a few Kubuntu machines here and they have posed no major support problems.

The first PC, (with the virtualized Windows) would not boot. Grub showed up but reported error 15 file not found. I briefly looked over the machine and having only the Kubuntu disc on hand, the decision was to start from scratch. All that was lost was the Virtual Windows install, which he has a ton of experience installing, and can do himself.

Not so Adept
Installation was (as usual) flawless, painless and quick, about 15 minutes.
Enable all repositories and Security updates, added another 10 minutes to get the 163 packages with updates, all handled (sort of) by adept.

Something broke during the security update. If you weren't paying close attention, you wouldn't have even noticed it. I was though, and after I explained that adept is a (couple of) graphical frontend(s) to apt-get and it is itself a frontend for dpkg, the problem was easily fixed.

Open a terminal.

sudo apt-get install
It reports "some packages were left unconfigured and installation cannot continue. Please run dpkg --configure -a"

sudo dpkg --configure -a
sudo apt-get install
to finish installation of updates. Viola, adept now works again.

Installing Proprietary nvidia-glx-new driver was also handled by adept. Unfortunately it was unable to update the xorg.conf file automagically. Why, I have no clue. Manually fixed with:
sudo nano /etc/X11/xorg.conf
change from Driver="nv" to Driver = "nvidia" and Save (ctrl-X, Yes)
Restart X (Ctrl-Alt-Backspace) and tada Nvidia logo.

For reasons I do not understand Kubuntu chooses not to put Firefox in the default install, even though Ubuntu does. I love Konqueror but not for browsing. Back to adept, via add remove programs from the menu, to install Firefox with no problems. Flash and friends, using a handy Kubuntu package that includes Flash, Java and a few other proprietary things. No problems, after installation, Youtube, Google Video and Club Penguin and Gaia worked perfectly, and there was much rejoicing. We sat our new Linux user down for some extended Penguin Play.

Meanwhile the other machine was already installed but no updates had been applied for fear of breaking adept again. Now that the solution had been shown, we applied it identically and quickly brought it up to par.

This little one is a bit of a tom boy, she like Trucks, Cars, Tools and camouflage. I installed Trigger, SuperTuxKart, Torcs, TuxPaint and a few other Open Source games for her using adept through the add remove programs menu, and again much rejoicing.

Wait, didn't it say 4 PCs? Yes, it did, glad you are paying attention. Off in the corner was another broken Kubuntu, courtesy of a house guest. He, of course, has a totally different set of needs, Dual Booting. Sharing folders, Best of Both Worlds type. He too was stumped by the adept update bug and had been unsuccessfully banging away at trying to solve it. I showed him the problem, installed nVidia drivers and he was off and running in no time. Happily playing an MP3 in Amarok and rocking away with StreamTuner. Somewhere along the way he lost the ability to see his windows partition from inside Linux and I offered no help other to install ntfs-write in case he finds it again.

Wifi Easy?
While bouncing back and forth between these three machines something strange happened. All are on wifi, and it was reported that one of the Belkin adapters was not working. I moved it over to the guest's machine and tada no problems. He stated "great mine wasn't working anyway" An off brand dongle. I took his over to another machine, tada no problems. Here is the strange part. Kubuntu uses Knetworkmanager to handle configuring, notification and what not. The Belkin wifi adapter would not work on one of the three machines, but fine on the other 2. KNetworkManager, has a menu item marked configure, It consists of 2 radio buttons DHCP, and Manual Configure. On a working Belkin adapter, neither is ticked. If you click either DHCP or Manually Configure, you have now broken that adapter for that machine. Why? I still don't know. Nor do I know where it stores this information to remove it. We had to open a brand new one due to me checking it on 2 of them. I counseled him that thankfully we did not have to go through that whole ndiswrapper install and that is definitely a very good thing. I highly recommend the adapter pictured above for Kubuntu, provided you don't try to manually configure it. ($30 @ Walmart)

Where we failed
Unfortunately, Kubuntu could not do everything. One of the games the kids play is a nogo under Linux. Fly for Fun which uses GameGuard. GameGaurd games do not (and probably will not) run under wine or cedega. His only option (besides dual booting) is running it in Windows with VMware Workstation, which includes 3d acceleration, but at $189 per seat that solution is prohibitively expensive for a single game. Instead I pointed him to a few OpenSource MMOs, the girls chose PlaneShift and we'll see how that goes.

The fourth PC? That is his main machine. We put it off until later, he is working with mission critical apps until next week, at such a time I shall regale you with stories of a Monstrosity of a PC (Brand New AMD proc, Ridiculous Nvidia) running Windows Vista with a virtual Linux, Dual Booting with Linux running a Virtual Windows XP.

I really wanted this install to go super smooth. Quoth the Stones, "You can't always get what you want"

Still, installation was far less painful than the typical Windows install. I left only after setting up new (nonAdmin) user accounts for the girls and pointing him to a few invaluable resources for administering Linux installs.

Overall, he got what he needs.

A Video Tour of Kubuntu Installation Courtesy of


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Walmart yanks Linux off the shelf

Having a Linux PC on the shelf at Walmart, had a lot of us convinced that the tides were changing. No such luck.

WalMart has announced that it's Linux experiment is ending. After selling out of gPC from Everex over the holidays, a decision was made to stop stocking it on store shelves.

"This really wasn't what our customers were looking for," said Wal-Mart Stores Inc. spokeswoman Melissa O'Brien.

We'll have to take her word for it since Walmart does not release sales figures. Must have been a more than a few returns. The gPC and Cloudbook from Everex will continue to be offered online at

Note to WalMart executives: Don't give up on Linux, Next time though, try selling a real Linux PC with a mainstream (Read Intel or AMD) processor and a decent (Read AMD, Nvidia, Intel) video card. No offense to Everex, but the gPC is underpowered and underwhelming as a general purpose Desktop. The Windows version (+$100) of gPC was even less suitable for the general public. I still have high hopes for the Cloudbook as a general purpose lightweight laptop. If you are going to offer a Linux PC it needs to be full featured, all the bells and whistles Compiz, Games, lots of RAM, and a ton of applications in a stylish case. Otherwise you are inviting comparison with the next windows machine. Sure a $200 price point sounds great, but most consumers expect a $500 PC for $200 or less.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Spitzer's Surprise Sex Scandal

Gov Spitzer.

What can I say?

A Democrat, Governor, caught up in a Sex Scandal.

I can't recall anything like this ever happening before.

Problems I have with this story: IRS, FBI undercover surveillance video and Federal Wiretaps.

Republicans in Albany are threatening to impeach. I'm sure they'll have no trouble with that.

Meanwhile, Spitzer is just twisting in the wind.Leaving all the important questions unanswered. Will he resign? Will he be impeached? He reported asked the girls “to do things that, like, you might not think were safe.” What things? The world needs to know. Call Woodward and Bernstein, we simply must know what those things are.

Becoming an elected official must require some sort of mini lobotomy, particularly in the inhibition area of the brain. The higher the office the bigger the chunk of brain removed. Governor is a pretty high office.

“I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family and violates my, or any, sense of right and wrong,” the governor said. “I apologize first and most importantly to my family. I apologize to the public to whom I promised better.

“I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself. I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family.”

I'm so disillusioned, next you'll be telling me that sweet little girl from Gilligans Island, Mary Ann smokes Mary Jane.

Worst of all, Spitzer is a SuperDelegate. On Hillary's side. If he resigns, she loses him and he will not be replaced. So she has no choice but to support him and get him to stay in office. Not a popular position.

For every one else, not running for President and not living in New York, the whole story is great theater. Click on the T-Shirt to get your Spitzer Scandal Souvenirs from a timely and clever entrepreneur.

MrCopilot would now like to offer our own apology:

This post had absolutely nothing to do with Technology, Linux, or other stuff that is good for you.

We have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard expected of ourselves.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled posting containing Free Software, Technology News, the environment and gadgets.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

iPhone SDK Released Videos and Thoughts

The long awaited iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK) is finally here.

The iPhone SDK includes the Xcode IDE, Instruments, iPhone simulator, frameworks and samples, compilers, Shark analysis tool, and more.

You can watch the keynote in QuickTime courtesy of Apple.

During the introduction Apple trotted out developers who were given 2 weeks with the SDK to show some demos.

EA Spore

Sega SuperMonkeyBall

Details of the Developer Program were also announced along with the new iApp Store at iTunes. Commercial and Free application developers join for $99. Enterprise Developers fork over $299. iApps will be available for purchase or free at iTunes.

Looking good, Now what is the catch?

The Catches

SDK Download is for Registered Developers only. Don't get me wrong, you don't have to pay to download it. But you do have promise not to talk about all the wonderful stuff registering gives you access to.

SDK only runs on Mac Leopard machines. No usable VM solution as of yet. Leaving Windows and Linux developers in the lurch.

Paying your iDeveloper dues gets you access to the iApp store, where Apple will deliver your iProduct for an iFee of 30% of the purchase price*.

*Apple reserves the right to not distribute "bad" apps. Right now that list consists of Porn, Bandwidth hogging apps, and other applications of questionable legality. Meaning if your app streams porn over a torrent, you probably won't see it on iTunes. Apple promises VOIP apps will be available as long as they use wifi and not the cellular network.

Note: OpenGL ES is not supported in the iPhone simulator. Total Bummer.

All in all, Apple iPhone/iPod Touch SDK gets a tentative thumbs up. I'd like to be more positive, but... when I click download SDK I see:

Access Denied

If you need assistance, please contact the ADC Support Team.

That and my Linux only development tendencies are going to seriously hamper my iPhone application development efforts.


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

OLPC, Anon, Sam, MrCopilot

Quoth the Comments Section:
Verily I must agree with my dear friend Anonymous here.

Anonymous said...
"First, have the guts to write under your own name."
It may be cute to adopt monikers but if you are out there on the web, put your name to what you write. Anonymous posts are the work of cowards.

I think you may misunderstand the meaning of the word Anonymous.

MrCopilot is a name, a company, a family, a person, a domain name, a blog, a freelance writer, and they are all me. Go ahead search me, have at you, I wrote almost all that stuff. However, if you were to search for me by name, parsing through the results would take days, literally days. I represent an infinitesimal fraction of the data of my ancestors and the like named. Authors, Scientist, Fraudsters, Geniuses, Bigots, Lesbians, Actors, and all around a great bunch, just not me.
Spoiler Alert

My Last Name is not Copilot.

My name is not a secret. I bet it takes the average reader less than 30 minutes to find it.
Once you do though, do me a favor and Google it, try to find anything I wrote, there is some in there, no really somewhere in 313,000 results. My real name makes me anonymous.
Hence a new mark was required.

Meanwhile, you can be fairly certain that if it says MrCopilot, I wrote it and you can find it easily.

Now here comes the hard part. After all that, we have to cut to the the end this Anonymous post which is "signed" Sam Varghese, for a quick disclaimer: I have no way to tell if this was the "real" Same Varghese, but they have a similar tone. And hey at least it is a conversation, sort of. If these are not the words of Sam Varghese, I address them to Anonymous, my life long friend.
Ah, if no real point was made why are you getting all hot and bothered?
What point were you driving at? "Look at these greedy Americans trying to swindle the world with a useless product?" That seemed to be the implication, and I'm sorry I don't see it. I humble disagree.

My reference was to "any and all problems". There is a mountain of difference between that and the word "some". It's easy to construct a straw man and then deflect his argumente.
One thing common to practically all these agencies is that they actually believe that Western technology can alleviate any and all problems in the Third World.

Except, some of them can be solved with technology. Are you saying we should not try to solve any? Or every application of technology is futile? Where is the point in that false statement?

Specifically the OLPC has a very narrow focus. They don't pretend to know what millions of children connected to vast libraries of knowledge can do with tomorrow, but they sure want to find out. They do know a few things. Like the weight and cost of books for these children.

Any actual good done, I suppose is irrelevant to your rant, I mean narrative.

Do you have any instances of this? If so, put up.
Of good done by non profit organizations, or the OLPC, or the impact the XO is having in the tiny laptop world? You put up. What is the danger? Theft I think you mentioned, I'll get back to that.

Why not let this guy sell a few governments educational devices for children. I certainly prefer it to arms. I certainly support the spread of literacy, computer literacy, and yes free software literacy to every child we can.
I am really not interested in what David Pogue does. I am interested in the chap I met who made a claim - and then refused to provide verifiable evidence of it. Period.
That is too bad, he does a fine job. For instance, when he writes about the XO laptop, he actually uses one or two. He tests them. He RESEARCHES the OLPC. But, that is not everybody's cup of tea, I understand.
No, as a journalist (a simple Google search would have given you sufficient detail but then facts would get in the way of your blog post, wouldn't they?) who has done the hard yards for close on 30 years in three countries. I was there for a job
I humbly apologize, your press pass yielding, paycheck cashing, fountain of journalism, sir. I make no assumptions of you journalistic ability or experience. Sorry if "Blogger" hurt your feelings. Did you ever write that Intel Presentation story?

If the village has ONE LAPTOP PER CHILD, who is going to steal them?
Is it only kids who live in villages? Have you ever been to a village?
Buddy, I practically live in a Hamlet.
Security and Theft have been well thought out, discussed and appropriate measures can be taken in areas where it is necessary for instance.

We are talking about spending money on supplying books which are expensive, heavy and easily damaged or an XO for a child. Which does more good? Which is more utilitarian? Which is a better investment? Better yet which is the child more likely to learn from?
You obviously have never interacted with children in a rural setting. I have.

And, I fail to see your point. Answer the Question.

There are some things which people in the West will never understand.

Yep, you got me, I don't understand what is wrong with these Mongolian kids learning on an education platform provided by their government or donations. Please enlighten us all.

It is easy to believe that OLPC is a selfish organization if you are unfamiliar with empathy and selfless acts of human decency. Shame on you sir.

No human act is unselfish - don't kid yourself.
I'll kid myself all I like, thank you. Your statement proves my point, you wouldn't recognize it if you saw it.

Make no mistake about it, all these guys are going to make a lot of cash. Mary Lou probably first. Negroponte is well off enough. The programmers and management teams will have excellent careers once they leave OLPC. Deservedly so. The XO is an incredible piece of hardware, designed for a purpose with a vision. The commercialization of the technology making up the XO will be with us shortly. And in that sense there is money to be made. So they all aren't completely selfless. I bet the donors and volunteers feel pretty good about themselves too, those smug bastards.

OLPC is a commercial project
No, it isn't.
OLPC is not, at heart, a technology program, nor is the XO a product in any conventional sense of the word. OLPC is a non-profit organization providing a means to an end—an end that sees children in even the most remote regions of the globe being given the opportunity to tap into their own potential, to be exposed to a whole world of ideas, and to contribute to a more productive and saner world community.

They are not giving away the laptops free.
In essence that is exactly what they are doing. Someone has to pay for the parts. OLPC thinks that is probably best left to the education ministry of each country.
People in the West love to think of themselves as humanitarians - after their governments have raped countries in the East. While that happens, they keep quiet.

Sam Varghese March 1, 2008

Raping Humanitarians, excellent band.

Seriously, hanging the OLPC for actions of the US and company is a little overboard, no?


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