This is the first of a series of essays I will publish here and elsewhere, in an effort to solve what I regard as some fundamental problems that are endemic to the computer industry.
I have felt called to my Duty several times in my career. I have never regretted performing it, but doing so has been a heavy burden, as it always came at great cost. This is one of those times - I will explain in the next essay I publish just why.
November 1, 2005
My father Charless Russell Crawford was an engineer too, an electrical engineer. Once a carpenter, he was inspired to enlist in the Navy one snowy evening while roofing a house, when he struck his thumb real hard with a hammer. The Navy sensed my father's potential for leadership and sent him to study at the University of Idaho, where he met my mother Patricia Ann Speelmon. My sister was born while they were still students. After graduation, he went on to Officer Candidate School and was given his commission. The telegram with news of my birth took two weeks to reach him: he was deep in the Phillipine jungle getting trained in survival, as the Vietnam War was just then heating up: the year was 1964. My father's engineering specialty was antiaircraft missile electronics: guidance and control systems.
The lesson my father taught me, a lesson I only now, as I speak, realize for the first time I was ever taught, is to Do My Duty. You already know my father did his for his country. I want you to know that he did his duty to his family as a husband, father and provider, and he did it well. He did his duty as a teacher too: I learned science and engineering at my father's knee, as we worked on projects together. Once we had a contest to see who could make a working telephone from stuff found lying around the house.
Engineers have other Masters who demand duty of us: our profession, our conscience, those who invest in, purchase or use what we design, our coworkers, and the public.
Listen to me carefully, and never forget what I'm about to say. I want all of you to spend some time thinking it over deeply, then I want you to discuss it among yourselves:
The Internet is a tool to connect people, to empower them to share information and knowledge. Through increased communication, one person's contribution becomes everyone's gain. Through the power of collaboration, many minds can achieve what one person alone could not. It sounds like either a recipe for a Utopia or for a nightmare, which starkly reminds us that with great power comes great responsibility. And it's our right to be given the choice, to take advantage of the opportunity that the Internet represents. But there is something happening to the "InterWeb": the tracks are being ripped up. Mandelson in the UK. "3 Strikes" in France. Fascist Censorship in Australia. Phorm. Net Neutrality. The Pirate Bay attacks. The RIAA. The DMCA. There's a recurring and accelerating theme of attacks, which have accelerated over the past ten years, to attempt to control what can and cannot be done with the Internet, that is beginning to blur with Science Fiction predictions from well-renowed authors. The question is: why? What's the driving force, and what motivates these attacks, when, mathematically and statistically, they are simply impossible, leaving an alienated populace feeling threatened by and distrusting their Governments, just like in China, Iran and other "Regimes" which we believe that we are "better than"?
In relation to the Wikipedia applet proposal, I am currently moving through the web in the hopeless search of some FOSS project that would show at least weak interest in scanning of Java source code for bad intents. One of the huge advantages Wikipedia or other public server could provide is that we have the applet sources and can compile on a server side. Among other things this allows to strip the signature easily, maybe we could do more.
Eric Raymond's software bazaar is a fantasy.
The look into Tiobe index may give quite a surprising results if we pay attention into that is happening during the latest year. Java seems no longer declining, Python and C# are also kind of stable but we clearly observe the growth of C language popularity. It is even not C++ but a plain C.
I wonder it this is just some transient event or the reliable shift.
Want to find more technical conferences? Here's my hotlist.
To be heard by needed people, this proposal have been uploaded to Wikipedia Strategic Projects space so it can also be viewed there. It is up to you where to make the comments.
There's a new article on my homepage titled "FOSS Licences Wars", which explains about the legal aspects, features and differences between various open-source licences and their categories, and then gives some recommendations for which licences to avoid using.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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"
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.
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.
ThinkingForth in Chinese
New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.
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If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!