Older Articles

A smarter CLI - Innovation by Simplicity

Posted 3 Aug 2009 at 06:56 UTC (updated 3 Aug 2009 at 08:35 UTC) by tschwall

Good command line tools are more important than ever and not just a relict of ancient times in comparison to RIA or GUI applications. Experienced system administrators appreciate their power in sophisticated shell scripts and could probably not manage their environments without them. The question is how can we make command line tools smarter and more powerful than today? This article discusses some ideas and potential implementations always keeping in mind "Do not reinvent the wheel" and "keep it simple".

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Python XPCOM and Hulahop: declarative XULrunner programming

Posted 26 Jul 2009 at 13:10 UTC by lkcl

XULrunner, the technology behind projects such as Firefox, is both powerful and obscure. Even getting started with XULrunner is tricky, and even more so from dynamic languages such as python. pyxpcomext addresses these issues, and does so from the perspective where the developer creates a "bundle" which is registered with XULrunner. XULrunner is then started by the user, and the user opens a magic URL which triggers loading of the pyxpcomext-based application.

Thanks to the OLPC Sugar team, there is now another way, starting from the python prompt. "import hulahop" is where it begins. This article will show and explain the voodoo magic incantations necessary to bring up a window where you can begin to gain access to the DOM model of the XULrunner technology. In this way, you can begin to use technology which was designed for web browsers but has become something much much more powerful than originally intended by its designers.

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Microsoft's next operating system may start from BSD

Posted 14 Jul 2009 at 20:32 UTC (updated 18 Jul 2009 at 12:44 UTC) by audriusa

Barelfish. Have anybody heard such a beast?

Not somewhere behind the steel walls - in the academic silence of ETH university Microsoft is building the next generation of its operating system. Maybe this single department is not the only place where it is trying – I am more toward thinking this is happening it at least ten places worldwide.

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Taking a Principled Position on Software Freedom

Posted 14 Jul 2009 at 15:26 UTC by mako

Those of us in the free/libre and open source software (FLOSS) community know the routine by now. Despite the fact that "free software" and "open source" refer to the same software and the same communities, supporters of "free software" like the FSF would have us advocate for FLOSS by talking about users' rights to use, modify, share, and cooperate; open source supporters like the Open Source Initiative would have us advocate for software by talking about how securing these rights produces software with "better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility [and] lower cost."

One reason I tend to stay away from "open source" claims in my own advocacy is that I'm worried by the way that these arguments rely on a set of often dubious empirical claims of superiority. Free software, on the other hand, can be seen as statement of principles. Regardless of whether we say "free software" or "open source," I've found that a focus on principled statements is both more robust against counter-arguments and does a better job of describing the motivations of most contributors.

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Industrial Espionage Target: Artificial Intelligence

Posted 12 Jul 2009 at 15:08 UTC by mentifex

Abstract: Because AI technology is so life-or-death valuable, not only for corporations but also for nations and for civilization itself, we must assume that the most advanced AI projects are being conducted in secret. In such an environment of presumed secrecy, an OpenSource AI project like MindForth may have special value in contrast with proprietary and secret AI.

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You'll go waltzing Matilda with me

Posted 21 Jun 2009 at 14:38 UTC (updated 21 Jun 2009 at 17:47 UTC) by badvogato

Y'ALL - Happy Father's day.

Playing Tom Traubert's 'Waltzing Matilda with me'


Wasted and wounded
And it ain't what the moon did
I got what I paid for now
See you tomorrow
Hey Frank can I borrow
A couple of bucks from you
To go waltzing Matilda waltzing Matilda
You'll go waltzing Matilda with me
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Monster Shrek song

Posted 10 Jun 2009 at 14:21 UTC (updated 10 Jun 2009 at 20:26 UTC) by badvogato

Splendid! crowed the witch. "Here's your fortune."


Otchky-potchky, itchky-pitch
pay attention to this witch
a donkey takes you to a knight
him you conquer in a fight
then you wed a princess who 
is even unglier than you
HAHAHA... cockadoodle
the magic words are "apple strudel"
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Why Python is not my favorite language

Posted 17 Apr 2009 at 12:01 UTC by audriusa

I recently had an opportunity to develop a project in Python. I have previously had a largely neutral opinion about this language. However after more serious development I would like to share some doubts.

I will not be talking about the implementation - related issues. Also, Python do has positive, advanced features that are worth noting. Python code for the same task is really shorter: you need more C or even Java code to write something like a = b[:3], and especially b[-1] looks nicer then b.get(b.size()-1). But when line number rolls over the first thousand, more things began to matter.

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CodeCon 2009 Program Announced

Posted 23 Mar 2009 at 19:46 UTC by Bram

The Program to CodeCon 2009 is now up, and registration is at the early rate of $75 for all three days until April 1st, after which the cost goes up.

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intellaSys - inventive to the core

Posted 15 Mar 2009 at 20:25 UTC (updated 22 Mar 2009 at 15:01 UTC) by badvogato

happened to surf on Chuck H. Moore's new company IntellaSys.

I am browsing these whitepapers. Eash one seems to be a rare pearl by the SEA.

Extreme Forth by Steven Pelc on Sept. 2008 Dr. Dobb

IMHO, Chuck has deviced a simple yet holistic way to see that the power of language and the power of circuit wouldn't cancel each other out in the process of solving complex machine-human problems.

The stick + the word + the floor plan

IntellaSys’ 40C Processor Technology Creates Benchmark

ThinkingForth in Chinese

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Massively-Distributed Real-time Video Broadcasting

Posted 9 Mar 2009 at 16:37 UTC (updated 10 Mar 2009 at 15:20 UTC) by lkcl

The British Broadcasting Company has made a request for contributions to an open standard to be made, for the distribution of audio and video, both offline and real-time broadcasting. Their plan is effectively to act as the mediator between box manufacturers and content producers, with themselves as one of the content producers, but definitely not as set-top box manufacturers.

Challenges faced include an assumption that it is reasonable to expect ISPs to insert cacheing boxes on their premises, and an assumption that "downloading" - especially at high speed - is "the way to go". Also, there is yet again the risk of some idiot content producers trying to DRM an open standard.

This article will provide some answers to these tricky issues, and they're not all "Technical" answers. For the most part, the solutions are psychological, and take comfort in the fact that most users are ordinary people not interested in blatant copyright theft, they just want to watch stuff. Ultimately, content producers are going to have to get used to the fact that they are simply going to have to trust people.

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Pyjamas Javascript Compiler: Dynamic Module Loading

Posted 9 Mar 2009 at 13:10 UTC by lkcl

As part of a reorganisation of Pyjamas, best known as a python port of GWT, dynamic module loading using AJAX has been added. The deployment of dynamic module loading results in over a 60% reduction in the amount of javascript cache file sizes, as the modules can be shared across multiple platforms (GAE pyjamas users are hitting the app engine limit even with the simplest of apps, due to the old one-cache-file-per-platform design).

This article describes how the standard technique for dynamic loading of javascript scripts was used as a basis for bring python "import" semantics to a javascript compiler. The advantages of individual module loading - including third party javascript modules - should be clear.

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Restrictions on biological adaptation in language evolution

Posted 3 Mar 2009 at 13:01 UTC by sye

Abstract:
Language acquisition and processing are governed by genetic constraints. A crucial unresolved question is how far these genetic constraints have coevolved with language, perhaps resulting in a highly specialized and species-specific language "module," and how much language acquisition and processing redeploy preexisting cognitive machinery. In the present work, we explored the circumstances under which genes encoding language-specific properties could have coevolved with language itself. We present a theoretical model, implemented in computer simulations, of key aspects of the interaction of genes and language. Our results show that genes for language could have coevolved only with highly stable aspects of the linguistic environment; a rapidly changing linguistic environment does not provide a stable target for natural selection. Thus, a biological endowment could not coevolve with properties of language that began as learned cultural conventions, because cultural conventions change much more rapidly than genes. We argue that this rules out the possibility that arbitrary properties of language, including abstract syntactic principles governing phrase structure, case marking, and agreement, have been built into a "language module" by natural selection. The genetic basis of human language acquisition and processing did not coevolve with language, but primarily predates the emergence of language. As suggested by Darwin, the fit between language and its underlying mechanisms arose because language has evolved to fit the human brain, rather than the reverse.
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Open Source, Open Standards and Re-Use: UK Government Policy

Posted 25 Feb 2009 at 14:51 UTC (updated 25 Feb 2009 at 22:10 UTC) by lkcl

The UK Government has made it clear that Open Source and Open Standards, with a focus on re-use of software development and deployment, is to clearly and unequivocably be part of the decision-making for UK Government I.T. procurement and contracting. Also part of the policy is a clear committment to engage with the Free Software community and to actively encourage the development of "Government-Class" Free Software products.

(tag keyword: #ukgovOSS at the cabinet office's request)

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A tale of three code generators

Posted 20 Feb 2009 at 17:00 UTC (updated 21 Feb 2009 at 10:51 UTC) by aph

At FOSDEM 2009, Gary Benson of Red Hat presented Shark. (Slides at http://gbenson.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/fosdem-2009.pdf) Shark is a port of OpenJDK that uses LLVM to do JIT code generation. While Shark is pretty fast when compared with OpenJDK's C++ interpreter, it's still quite a lot slower than gcj. gcj is a fairly straightforward bytecode->native compiler and doesn't use many of the Java-specific optimizations in HotSpot, so I was of the opinion that Shark and gcj ought to be similar in speed. So, I wanted to find out why Shark was slower than gcj.

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Open Letter to the Samba Team

Posted 13 Feb 2009 at 21:50 UTC by lkcl

I thought I would make use of the 1000th advogato article to write to emphasise my pride in your accomplishments at the Samba "Franky" architecture, and also to emphasise to you that I am fully aware of its strategic significance.

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Welcome to the SAMBA Domain: 10 years on

Posted 13 Feb 2009 at 21:22 UTC (updated 13 Feb 2009 at 21:59 UTC) by lkcl

The 10th anniversary of "Welcome to the SAMBA Domain" quietly passed on Thursday 28th of August, 2007, without acknowledgement. When Paul Ashton and Luke Leighton initially reverse-engineered and published the NT Domains protocol, the floodgates were opened to both Free Software and Proprietary CIFS vendors to interoperate with Microsoft's flagship product, Windows NT, at an unprecedented level.

The anticipated reprisals from Microsoft did not happen: incredibly, instead, quiet mutual respect and cooperation crystallised the CIFS protocols into formal specifications (some of which were quietly handed out, whilst others had to wait until they were prised from Microsoft's fingers by the U.S. Dept of Justice and the E.U Commission).

In the intervening eleven years, an enormous amount has been achieved, yet, frustratingly, an enormous amount has not. This article outlines the accomplishments to date, and highlights the incredible things that could be achieved if some specific strategic inter-project free software cooperation took place. Also outlined are some hints as to how that can be accomplished, citing examples of prior proven work in which it has already been achieved, but not yet adopted.

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The Netbook Windfall

Posted 12 Feb 2009 at 17:11 UTC by dmarti

Joe Wein covers Windows 7 versus Linux on netbooks. "Does it really matter to Microsoft shareholders and employees if the 21 million or so netbooks expected to be sold this year (and the even bigger numbers in 2010) will be running some version of Windows or a version of Linux (which is free), if previously those buyers would have picked up a more powerful machine that netted Microsoft $40-$100 per license?"

Don Marti offers his insights into the Netbook and the Linux combination.

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Free Software Supporter -- Issue 11, December/January 2009

Posted 5 Feb 2009 at 15:50 UTC by mattl

Issue 11, December/January 2009

Welcome to the Free Software Supporter, the Free Software Foundation's monthly news digest and action update -- being read by you and 15,508 other activists.

Encourage your friends to subscribe and help us build an audience by adding our subscriber widget to your web site.

Miss an issue? You can catch up on back issues at http://www.fsf.org/free-software-supporter.

Multilingual? Send translations of the Supporter to campaigns@fsf.org.

***************************************************


DON'T MISS... the first ever...

/ /(_) |__ _ __ ___ / _ \ | __ _ _ __ ___| |_ / / | | '_ \| '__/ _ \/ /_)/ |/ _` | '_ \ / _ \ __| / /__| | |_) | | | __/ ___/| | (_| | | | | __/ |_ \____/_|_.__/|_| \___\/ |_|\__,_|_| |_|\___|\__|

...LibrePlanet

CONFERENCE. MARCH 21/22nd 2009. CAMBRIDGE, MA. 02138

<http://www.fsf.org/associate/meetings/2009/>

autonomo.us | FSF | High-Priority-Projects | GNU

****************************************************

  • LibrePlanet Conference 2009!
  • FSF files suit against Cisco for GPL violations
  • BadVista: We hardly knew ye
  • GCC libraries get updated license exception
  • An open response to Chris Frey regarding GFDL 1.3
  • Updating the Free Software Definition
  • More background about the Cisco case
  • The bootable membership cards are (finally) here!
  • 3D graphics are 100% free software
  • Freedom Walk: A walk to claim, ensure and preserve freedom
  • Psst! Pass it on!
  • New FSF microblogging communities
  • PlayOgg: Theora 1.0 is released!
  • 35 Days Against DRM (In 35 paragraphs)
  • Apple iTunes goes DRM free on music
  • Microsoft defends DRM. Badly.
  • GNU spotlight with Karl Berry
  • Richard Stallman's speaking schedule
  • Take action!
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At long last, another CodeCon

Posted 28 Jan 2009 at 22:00 UTC by Bram

The much-anticipated next CodeCon has now been announced, and the Call For Presentations is out - http://www.codecon.org/2009/

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