Older blog entries for AlanHorkan (starting at number 340)

IFI French Film Festival - Cyrano De Bergerac

Saw Cyrano De Bergerac at the IFI as part of the Cafe Noir French Film Festival. Classic.
Will probably go see Horseman on the Roof later in the week, maybe others too if I have the time.

Syndicated 2006-11-29 00:18:27 from alanhorkan

Climbing Photos: Irish Bouldering League - Galway 2006

A gallery of photos from the Irish Blouldering League (IBL) was posted on the Climbing.ie website. These things are always more fun with captions which unfortunately the site doesn't allow so instead I will add a few comments of my own and point out some of the photos which may be of more interest to Trinity climbers.

I will only link directly to one image, as it not polite to hot link other peoples images. I should also warn that because it is an outside link it could easily break or be changed and I cannot take any responsibility for any of the links breaking or images looking any more horrific than they already do. Other links will be normal links to the Climbing.ie website.

Call the Exorcist: Paddy Clarke Possesed
Call the Exorcist: Paddy Clarke Possesed
Paddy Clarke climbing in a snowstorm. Maybe it wasn't snowing indoors and there was just chalk everywhere but I like my explaination better. Paddy starts from sitting, watched by Brian and Tanja.

Watching and waiting. Crowds of climbers await there turn and puzzle out how to approach the problems. Hamish can be seen in his orange/red top with Brian standing beside him, and Heather on the right at the middle. Katriona can be seen back centre wearing her pink top and Tanja is on right wearing a blue top. Heather climbing problem 11 jamming foot hard in the corner. Hamish watches Heather scoring, I mean keeping score, clipboard in hand.
You can tell by the shirt it is Brian, if that is in fact his real name! Brian and Brian again.
Photos of peoples backs are not particularly interesting and it can be difficult to tell who is who, I only recognised my own photo by the hoodie I was wearing. Not the guy climbing, but on the left Alan (me) can be seen trying to figure out climbing problem 14, the one with the odd stickey outey bit. Got quite close and I know I could have done it on a good day but couldn't get it in the required three attempts.
Katriona climbing in her pink cardigan. Tanja stands up to start on problem 9. Looks like Leena.

Message scrawled on the grey masking tape on the wall instucts climbers to start from a seated position. It is not a suggestion to wear your own ass for a hat, easy misunderstanding to make. The climber reaches for the first bonus point on problem 9.

Syndicated 2006-11-20 01:26:14 from alanhorkan

GIMP developers in Copyright Violation scandal!

Now that I've got your attention I actually want to mention Google code search. Google code search was released a while back and people found various funny things to do with it. The obvious thing for any geek to do is an ego search, and amongst the results of the google code search for Alan Horkan the following comment jumped right out at me:

;; Alan Horkan 2004.  Copyright.
;; I'll fix it and license it differntly later if anyone cares to ask
The comment (spelling mistake and all) is from a gimp script to insert a guide by percent.

Okay so maybe not a huge copyright violation scandal but it gives you an idea of how little code review gets done. No wonder big corporations have serious concerns about where code comes from and SCO were able to create so much fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Be afraid, be very afraid.
Without explicitly asking first the developers committed code I had never intended to be included. Scripts were an easy fix for my own use and I had attached them to a bug report as a good way to show what I thought was needed. I had hoped for a better properly integrated solution written in C instead of several smaller scripts cluttering up the menus (see also Inkscape). Rather than argue it I took the easy out and decided to let them continue on, one less argument I didn't need. In truth I did argue the point, this was just one of several scripts, and I did repeatedly ask them to correct the copyright information on at least one of the other scripts (which they eventually did) but it seems this last one slipped by.
If I were a litigious person where would the responsibility lie, the developer who committed the code, the maintainers, or the distributors? Not only did the GIMP developers fail to adequately review the code but none of the distributors reviewed the code either, contributory infringement anyone?

Comparesoft (founded by Michael Robertson) also appear to have violated my copyrights by distributing two of my scripts. Mostly I am unimpressed by their failure to ask or inform me of their intention to use my scripts and distribute them to users. Not sure how to proceed or if I should do anything about it at all. My scripts were marked as copyright, not GPL and were not intended for redistribution beyond personal use and I had expected people to ask before doing anything with them. Irregardless it is common courtesy to ask and vigilant lawyers usually insist on their clients asking (as can been seen from frequent letters from magazine publishers requesting permission) even for software released under the GNU General Public License (GPL). Comparesoft are well within their rights to distribute rebranded open source software but I do hope their customers understand that they are really only being charged for the technical support and the same software is freely available from other sources.

The ego search reminded me of quite a few projects I had contributed to and where some of that copious spare time spent on Open Source software had gone to. It gave me a good feeling to realise quite how many different projects I have managed to have even a small influence on. A million monkeys on a million typewriters?

Syndicated 2006-11-05 23:34:25 from alanhorkan

Good old Dublin town: Traditional Singers

Sometimes you see things and it feels obvious they must exist only you may not have noticed them before. Dublin has plenty of live music, more than the tourist trap music of Temple bar. The trick is knowing where too look.

After several failed attempts to meet my old friend Jonathan Tennant for a pint - he running around like a mad thing trying to sort out his show for Radió na Life - we eventually decided to meet in Mayes pub on North Fredrick Street. He mentioned there would be a session, of the musical not drinking variety, but I didn't realise it would be signing only, unaccompanied by any music.

It was different and very entertaining. Singers take turns and perform old tunes people seemed to know and original tunes, including a humourous tune one about the alcohol induced misadventures of a certain Aussie Rules football player after the compromise rules match against the Gaelic football players.
Not knowing any of the songs I remained more quiet than I have ever been before in any pub, but with some of the easier tunes I made an effort sing along at the chorus as did most people. Perfoming is welcomed and encouraged but not a requirement.

Next time you are in the mood for traditional Irish music perhaps you will check out the Góilín singers club, most Friday evenings from 9 o'clock, upstairs in Mayes pub.

Syndicated 2006-11-04 02:10:31 from alanhorkan

If you do not understand English you will not know what this means

Reading through bug reports and feature requests I saw yet another user who wanted to use a program in a language other than the default language of their Operating System. I have seen this request many times. The usual answer is to move or remove the .po language file and allowing the American text to show through. There is also the more complicated old school approach of mess setting command line variables, which as you can imagine is lots of fun for beginners who have never ever used the command line before.

As with most requests there is an underlying problem users are trying to solve and developers have to figure out what the real underlying problem might be if there even is one. Imagine a doctor being asked for a prescription of Viagra and trying to figure out if the patient has health problems that need to be dealt with. At least part of the problem is that translations are crappy, but translation is hard work so I mean no disrespect to the translators. Even then there are languages for which no translation exists and users have no option but to use English and struggle through as best they can. This means the original interface needs to be as clear and simple as possible, as a rule of thumb if you cannot translate out of English and then back again and still make sense then things need to be simplified even further. The complexity of the English only makes translation work harder and the frequent use of slang and over-complicated jargon or un-translatable acronyms certainly does not help. For example the acronym URL cannot be translated but the words address, or link, or resource, can easily be translated. I have been told Dutch translators end up using the equivalent of "URL Address" to crudely work-around the problem. In truth this is two problems, depending on the context the original word should have been Address in the first place and the translators should not have taken the easy option but instead made sure the original mistake was corrected. Unfortunately that almost never happens, understandably translators would rather translate than try to swim upstream and become programmers.

No doubt many applications already do offer such a feature, each in their own unique and horribly inconsistent manner. The idea of ever application providing an option to change the language independent of the Operating System doesn't feel right to me. Perhaps what is needed is a small application allowing users to easily launch an application in another language? Maybe such a thing already exists but is hidden away as a tool to help test translations?
Anyone intersted in taking on the challenge of creating a tiny application to start a program in a langauge other than the current default?

Syndicated 2006-11-02 00:37:46 from alanhorkan

World Trade Center - Lies of Omission

It is strange that Oliver Stone a director normally known for the strong political message of his films would commit such a huge lie of omission in his attempts to make very non-political film. It would have been easier to accept the lack of politics in the film had it not been for the ridiculous portrayal of Marine Dave Karnes. The sentiment of a religious man determined to help with the search and rescue for survivors was noble but the film portrays him as the kind of disturbing American religious zealot that worries the rest of the world nearly as much as other types of religious fundamentalists scare George W. Bush. The film ends with a message telling how he went on to serve two terms in Iraq, which although true unfortunately feeds into the mistaken belief promoted by the Bush administration that there was a direct connection between Iraq and the terrorist attack of September 11.

The film is not without other flaws. The visions of Jesus were visually interesting but unfortunately broke viewers away from the reality of the film and lead me to wonder about the alleged heavy drug use of the director. The film makes it appear as if officer Dominick Pezzulo committed suicide when in fact he fired off one last shot to draw attention before his massive injuries killed him. Arguably Oliver Stone made the film he intended to make, a very small film set against the backdrop of a very big tragedy but the limited scope of the film is ultimately unsatisfying.

The destruction of the World Trade Center was a powerful and tragic event which is where the true impact of the film comes from. Truth is stranger than fiction. A fictional film like Oliver Stone's World Trade Center does not do the events justice. I would recommend instead the documentary film 9/11 by the brothers Jules Naudet and Gedeon Naudet. I have not yet seen the film United 93 myself but I have heard good things about it too and it may also be worth considering.


Syndicated 2006-10-11 17:21:14 from alanhorkan

GIMP: Please Change the Derogatory Name

The GNU Image Manipulation Program uses the acronym GIMP. The most common meaning of the term gimp refers to lameness, and the term is considered offensive to people with physical disabilities. The second most common usage refers to bondage fetishism and the film Pulp Fiction (1994) played no small part in planting the idea in the popular consciousness. These usage and the potential for misunderstanding or embarrassment makes some people reluctant to use the name in settings such as a conservative office. It also leads to the occasional request from users to change the name of the GIMP hence the title of this journal entry.

Aside from the disability meaning, the secondary connotation of bondage fetishism is well known to the developers and there is a long standing bug report based on that meaning with the following title: GIMP becomes enraged upon donning of leather mask.

There is an unwillingness to even acknowledge the name might be a concern for some people. The discussion continue for quite a while until the moderator started blocking my messages without warning. I had not at any point been rude or abusive, if anything I had continued to be as polite as possible despite rude remarks directed at me. It seems now polite persistence is a banning offence.

Your request to the Gimp-user mailing list

Posting of your message titled "Re: [Gimp-user] Please Change the Derogatory Name"

has been rejected by the list moderator.  The moderator gave the
following reason for rejecting your request:

"No reason given"

The blocking of my messages (four of them) is especially odd in the context of the list moderators Manish Singh (yosh) being unwilling to block the postings of carol@gimp.org after requests by both Dave Neary and Sven Neuman to do something to prevent that specific address being used and explain himself. Apparently Yosh thinks he gave a clear warning(?) but it is untirely unclear to me his message meant he was going to start moderating my posts to the list, especially not unilaterrally and without even getting approval from Sven.

"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark"

***DRAFT*** I may expand on this later ***DRAFT***
See the mailing list archives for more details.

Syndicated 2006-10-02 01:13:55 from alanhorkan

Rising Tide

Rising Tide raises all boats? A possible future for Australia.

I have always been interested to know what things might look like in future, either due to continental drift or the more likely and more rapid process of rising sea levels.
For added effect I took the images and quickly made an animated GIF with 6 frames, 2 seconds per frame.

Possible future sea levels for Australia.

Do not link directly to the image as I plan to move it elsewhere (or possibly take it down).

Syndicated 2006-09-29 15:11:23 from alanhorkan

Akademy Day 6 - Aikido, Noodles, Pints

Inge Wallin wanted to take an Aikido class and I have been sort of meaning to get back into practicing so I went along too. It had been so long since my last Aikido class I had forgotten how to tie the belt correctly. The kneeling position still kills my ankles and I didn't remember half as much as I might have liked but after a while I did start getting back into it. It was good to take a break from the usual routine and get a bit of exercise and be thrown around the place by people in white pyjamas.

The best part of the Aikido was not only did it leave me with a raging thirst but gave me a good appetite for dinner. I had sent out a mail encouraging people attending Akademy to come to Wagamama, a japanese noodle bar. I forgot to warn them in advance about needing to wait for a while. My original plan had been to go much earlier but Akademy is very busy with many BoF sessions being run in the late afternoon and evening (and clashing). I had contacted the restaurant in advance but they don't take bookings, and I didn't get a chance to phone ahead to say we were on our way. It didn't help that while we were standing around outside loads more people joined the queue in front of us. In the end most people balked and we were left with a small group of just eight people. The wait was worse than I had predicted, almost half an hour but it was worth it in the end. All agreed the food was great. I had Absolute Wagamama (44) which included gozu, chicken ramen, and a raw juice. Aaron bought lots of sake and generously encouraged us to try some. I'm not sure I've tried sake before but as I'm not a fan of wine to begin with, rice wine doesn't do it for me either. I finished off the meal with an extra order of special juice, made from pear, spinach, and beetroot, and it tasted much better than the ingredients might suggest. None of us had room left for dessert but from past visits I highly recommend the white chocolate and ginger cheesecake.
There is a good chance others will return to Wagamama for lunch or the next day before 7pm when things are less busy but it is a shame the group fell apart the way it did. I am a little disappointed I didn't do a better job of managing expectations and I definitely should have encouraged people to form smaller groups and go on ahead earlier if they had wanted.

Went for a quick pint in Porter House (Nassau Street) and took the last bus home.

(BoF: Birds of a Feather)

Syndicated 2006-09-29 00:13:51 from alanhorkan

Akademy linkorama

Aaron Seigo and his Akademy Keynote talk:
Thanks to the organisers especially Tink who put in so much despite knowing she would be unable to attend

Daniel Haas provides transcripts of various Akademy talks

Day 1

Day 1


Akademy Awards

Planet News aggregation sites are great but unfortunately they are transient and very soon all the interesting Akademy links will be pushed off the page and become much harder to find, which I was I have made an effort to gather what links I can here on my pages.

Syndicated 2006-09-25 13:56:40 from alanhorkan

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