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Wed 20th Aug 2008 @ 23:39 2008: Sudoku

Daniel Burrows suggests using dpkg to solve sudoku - I would imagine that make would do at least as good a job, though I wish I had the time to work out how!

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Wed 20th Aug 2008 @ 00:46 2008: We're All Terrorists

According to The Register, you can get sent down for posessing:

"instructions on how to make napalm", "extremist propaganda" and "notes on martyrdom"

I believe that (1) is easy to come by, (2) could be defined however one chooses to see it, and (3) could be written by a child to qualify as such.

They did other terrible things, too, like: "they discussed how to smuggle a sword through airport security" - is that a crime? In the current climate, it seems fair enough to discuss how to get a laptop, or - better still - some homemade electronics - through airport security. Come to think of it, it is apparently hard enough to get your shoes through airport security. That is the work of the US Govt, not Islamic terrorists!

What other non-crimes must we now avoid to stay safe?!

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Tue 19th Aug 2008 @ 23:23 2008: Bruce Perens on Microsoft and Apache

Bruce Perens: Microsoft and Apache - What's the Angle?

I missed this, but apparently Microsoft has made a $100k/year donation to the Apache Foundation to become a Platinum Sponsor.

As Perens points out, this doesn't get them any technical advantage; the Apache license is basically the BSD license, and they can afford to hire whatever developers they can attract (not that all would want to go to Microsoft, but it's fair to assume that there are enough competent programmers out there who would like to work for them).

So it's purely a political gambit; Microsoft can dress up as "Open Source participants" when talking to governments about copyright, patent law, DRM, etc.

According to Perens, this sponsorship is the best boost that Free/Open Source software could get; Microsoft, the most vocal rival, are now joining an Open Source project.

Whatever the effect of Microsoft's participation, their recent actions provide the last shot of credibility that open source will ever need. Even the most strident objectors have had to join - or follow SCO into ignomy. Not because anyone forced Microsoft, but because a poorly-funded group with little central leadership and no employer in common out-competed them.


If we can get them deeply involved in some properly "viral" GPL projects, that would really be the ultimate!

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Tue 19th Aug 2008 @ 00:16 2008: Mark Shuttleworth's talk to DebConf08 about Debian and Ubuntu

http://ftp.acc.umu.se/pub/debian-meetings/2008/debconf8/low/574_Debian_and_Ubuntu.ogg (low res)

http://ftp.acc.umu.se/pub/debian-meetings/2008/debconf8/high/574_Debian_and_Ubuntu.ogg (high res)

He is certainly an excellent speaker - a very skillful, gifted talk where Shuttleworth emphasises the merits of liberalism; GPL/BSD, Free/free and so on. EG: "As long as we're all running Linux, that's 'success'" - I'm not sure that every Debian Developer (DD) would agree with that sentiment; for some, it's that we're all running our OS of choice; for others, it's that we all have the ability to use Free Software, under OSI/PSI/GPL definitions.

This is certainly a compelling talk. To me, it clarifies Ubuntu as a testing-bed for some ideas which may (or may not) make their way into Debian.

This talk seems to have helped the relationship between Debian and Ubuntu, so that has to be a Good Thing™

But crikey, it does feel like a Salesman expertly selling something to an audience that doesn't really need anything. He is a great communicator.

As he suggests - given GNOME as the Upstream provider, it should be easy for the GNOME, Debian and Ubuntu developers to collaborate over a shared bug report. And Ubuntu is more likely to generate that bug report than Debian alone would do.

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Sun 17th Aug 2008 @ 23:30 2008: New Car

First main trip in my brand-new car; my last car was an 03 plate: 5 years old. The features in posher cars then are now in lower-spec cars now, and I was also able to step up a small level on the car front also.

So I've got all sorts of new toys in the new car; it's a good job that it's got cruise control, because I spent most of the journey having a conversation with the trip computer rather than concentrating on my speed. It's been telling me how long we've been driving, our average (and current) MPG, and most fascinating of all, the estimated miles left in the tank, which - having done its first 70 miles of local driving to a steady 70mph motorway cruise, it increased its estimate from 555 miles to 725 miles, with the estimate getting higher the further we drove: It felt like a fuel-making machine - the further I drive, the further I can drive!

Police Helicopter

One other new-to-me feature is the ability to play MP3s from a CD, which means (for example) that the entire back-catalogue of the Red Hot Chili Peppers can fit onto one CD; it can also read ID3 tags, to display the song title as it plays.

So with the car apparently knowing everything that's going on, I was a little shocked for half a moment to see it declaring "POLICE HELICOPTER"; I've never concentrated too hard on the second side of their first album; it tends to merge together, with the individual track names becoming irrelevant. I didn't realise that was the title of one of the songs; it caused a brief panic!

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Fri 15th Aug 2008 @ 00:52 2008: Airport Security

A traveller who flew from Brussels to Argentina, realised a few days later, that he had a large knife in his backpack:

Yesterday, I was rummaging in my backpack, to make space for a few things I wanted to put in there and that I wanted to take along with me on the daytrip. As I was doing so, I found I'd forgotten to remove a knife from it before leaving for Argentina. Not just any knife, mind you:

Yet with this monster in my backpack, I managed to pass security in Brussels International Airport with no issues. At all. Luckily I didn't have to go through security a second time on a different airport, or I might have been in serious trouble.

By their own rules, however, they failed. Utterly.


By their own rules, however, they failed. Utterly. Too true. Why bother breaking down liquids and removing shoes for security checkpoints, or any of the other silly and/or humiliating procedures initiated since 9/11, if it's possible to fly a large knife from Brussels to Argentina without anyone batting an eyelid?

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Fri 15th Aug 2008 @ 00:34 2008: PO4A - translating any format!

This sounds intriguing...

po4a - translation support from any format

Also includes useful definitions of some of the key terms - PO, POT, l10n, i18n. po4a appears to abstract away from the C/Python/sh/man/whatever level to gettext() just about anything, by the sounds of it

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Wed 13th Aug 2008 @ 23:35 2008: cpufrequtils

Save power, aka easy CPU frequency scaling

Nuff said, really. Seems a lot easier than it was a few years ago when I last looked at it. I hadn't really given it any thought on my current laptop (though the WiFi killswitch does make a noticeable difference to battery life); this could well help my laptop live a little longer on battery power (I'll let you know if it makes any noticeable difference) and save the planet (or at least a bit of a tree, or something!) at the same time!

Other recent changes to the laptop config; splashy does all that silly pretty-picture-instead-of-watching-the-init-scripts-do-their-thing stuff. I'll probably get bored of it; I prefer to see what's going on, than look at a picture and a scrollbar for a minute!

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Thu 7th Aug 2008 @ 00:41 2008: Friends Reunited

Friends ReunitedSometimes it's interesting to bump into old friends; I don't remember anyone from school with this surname, and apparently, she is shy, so a photo isn't going to help me to remember.

Still, all the best with the lap-dancing career, Debbie, and I hope that things work out well for you.

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Tue 5th Aug 2008 @ 23:43 2008: VAG 1.9 TDi: Passat / Jetta / Octavia / etc

PassatDear Lazyweb,

The VW Passat has moved on a little since its birth in 1973 (wow, it's the same age as me!).

I just wondered if anybody had any feedback on how it performs; the same 1.9TDi engine seems to go into the Passat, the Jetta, the Skoda Octavia, as well as the Golf, and probably others in VAG system.

So... please tell me what you loved and hated about your mid-range VAG car ;-)

This blog is pretty crudely spam-trapped at the moment; please don't include "http" in posts unless you're logged in ;-) Other than that, please mail me, and I'll aggregate comments in a later post.

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Mon 4th Aug 2008 @ 23:48 2008: The Guardian on McKinnon

Good article about McKinnon's extradition to the USA

This week the law lords had a wonderful opportunity to assert our independence from the US and to make a point about the abandonment of legal principles there since September 11. They have failed to do so.


Okay, so he appears to have been rather stupid at a few levels, technically and diplomatically, but he meant no harm, and he did no harm.

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