School is all done with now, and has been for a few weeks. I am now working for my school's IT department, in the Architecture group. It is turning out to be a pretty cool job. I am working on several Internet2 projects, like MACE-dir, eduPerson, and Shibboleth. The work is really interesting, and I am enjoying the opportunity to do design analysis and such. Also, a very nice aspect of doing work for higher education is that everything I write is Free Software. So it is a pleasant work environment.
I have also just started my DVD collection. I bought Almost Famous, High Fidelity, American Beauty, and Fight Club. Now I am in the process of deciding what other movies I should get, and what versions of those movies are the good ones to get. Beyond the annoyance with CSS and Region Encoding, DVD consumers are really taken for a ride in terms of releasing multiple versions of the same movie. Some movies have a normal version, a collectors edition, and an ultimate edition. I can understand a movie-only cheap version, and a special/collector's edition, but having multiple enhanced version is frustrating. And then you also have to consider quality of transfers, etc. I love the higher quality of DVDs though, and I certainly can't go back to VHS. I intentionally held off on buying movies until I started collecting with DVDs. To make myself feel better about buying DVDs, I am buying used copies off of half.com, so I don't support the MPAA's DVD policies. The flip side is that I am also not supporting the actors or writers, but they get so little anyway, it doesn't make a difference. Too bad I can't decide where my money goes in terms of royalties.
Until today, I've stuck to writing diary entries solely about computer-related topics and fairly light conversation. But, I really can't let myself ignore comments like this. I wouldn't feel very good about myself if I did. So, for those of you reading this that find this discussion off-topic, sorry. But, just like RMS says that economics is something to worry about once freedom is assured, the world of computers is something we can worry about once our basic human rights have been assured. I worry that some very smart-seeming people in various online communities are so involved with computers that they fail to see the world around them, and all of the very serious problems that need to be addressed. It is great to have strong ethics with software, but unless you also have strong ethics in the real world, it doesn't matter much.
It's been a long time since I've written. Oops. I have been pretty busy with school, and my life in general, to do much computer type stuff. I have been trying to go on MonkeyTalk every day and help out a little bit - it's nice because I can help a bunch of people with minimal effort, as most of their questions are pretty easy. MonkeyTalk is a great idea, as simple as the implementation may be.
I'm writing here to basically vent my frustration. Slashdot has an article slamming Ximian, Eazel, the FSF, and GNOME. These are among the few organizations that I have any amount of respect for in the whole linux "community." And it bothers me to see them slammed so unfairly. What makes it worse is that I can imagine how shitty it must be to be those individuals that such slams are directed at. Working really hard on something, and being proud of your work, then watching everyone rip it to pieces for no good reason can't be a very rewarding experience. As I posted on slashdot, I am becoming increasingly saddened by all of this. People care less and less about Freedom, and more and more in entitlement and things being no cost and convenient. It is becoming rather self-destructive. I wonder if it is people that have been (at least peripherally) involved in the Free Software world for a while getting somehow disillusioned, or if it is a new batch of people that never took the time to understand the tenets of Free Software so they don't understand how the dynamic is supposed to work. I think it is the latter. Ah well. I'm just going to try and let it not bother me so much.
As for my little Nautilus patch, I am having a hard time actually compiling Nautilus. It's complaining about me not having gtk and glib headers, even though I do. Hopefully I'll figure out what the problem is. It's annoying to not be able to do run-time testing now that I have my patch "complete" and without compiler errors. Once I have time I'll figure it out, and submit the patch. Then, hopefully I'll take on another little task that isn't too time-critical. At some point I'll have to write down a list of little things that annoy me about the software I use, and actively try and fix the problems.
I've been reading the available material on the Reef project - it sounds damn cool. I'm glad that it is clearly intended as a community project. It is great to see the ideals of the free software community, and their potential benefits, well-represented in web-enabled services. Once the semester is over I'm going to see if I can play with it a bit, and perhaps contribute some. My goal is to be a reasonably regular contributor to the GNOME project by the time GNOME 2 rolls around. We'll see how it goes.
I've been working on my first patch for Nautilus.....a right-click menu for the "Up" button in the toolbar. I am really enjoying the quality of the code in Nautilus - at least what I've looked at. It is all really easy to read and understand. Hopefully my changes follow suit. I'm pretty much done with the first pass at the patch, except I need to figure out how I can get a NautilusScalableIcon for a given uri. Once I have that, I'm pretty much set I think. So hopefully on Monday or Tuesday I'll have completed my patch, assuming I find some coding time. It should be a nice little feature though. And hopefully something of a jumping off point for other small little fixes/features in Nautilus. We'll see how it goes.
It's been a long time since my last diary entry. A lot has happened since then, so I'll only talk about recent events. I am extremely happy with Nautilus 1.0.....I have a few problems with it, but they are already being worked on, which is great. I am now very much wanting to learn how to write views and sidebars for Nautilus, and bonobo components in general. The RSS viewer thing that is in the works is a really excellent idea. I am deeply saddened by Eazel having to lay people off......that is really unfortunate. But, I think that people are jumping to the conclusion that Eazel's failed - which is obviously not the case. They haven't really tried to sell anything yet. But, as soon as they do offer services for sale, I am most definitely going to get them. I want to support Eazel and Ximian. I think that they do great work. I hope that I will be able to contribute to their projects, and GNOME in general soon. Time is a hard thing to come by, but so many people here seem to manage it, so I'll make an extra effort.
I really place most of the blame on the fact that the US has become obsessed with the stock market. The concept of daytrading has really just messed up the function of the stock market, as well as normal business practices. I don't think that it is a problem unique to Free Software companies, or Linux companies, or tech companies. It is just investors not realizing that an investment is supposed to be long-term. Believe in the company, and support them. But our economy is now on a slide. Why? Because it is in the interests of the bush administration to push us into a recession, so he can gain support for a tax cut that only really benefits the wealthy. I can't say that I am particularly looking forward to the reincarnation of 80's class warfare, powered by trickle-down (oops, I mean supply-side) economics. And so legitimately good companies that I think are going to not only have excellent profit potential a little down the road, but are able to do so with the good of the public in mind are getting hurt. That is really unfortunate. I am glad that there has been something of a shakeout to get rid of companies just interested in capitalizing on a buzzword, but I hate to see problems extending to companies with a strong commitment to their work, and the community.
I am enjoying reading the "Moneyflow" article discussion. The more I think about it, the more certain I am of a few things. First, the Internet is kind of at a crossroads right now. It has the potential to start getting really cool, or keep getting less and less useful. Second, I am fed up with copyright law, and I am planning on starting to write my various governmental representatives. Third, I think a lot of the problems with payment on the Internet, as well as nifty peer to peer filesharing techniques, can be resolved with a robust, standardized system for Metadata. How else can you find the little guy? How else can you know who to pay? We can't work under the assumption that the consumer will go to the creator's website to get whatever there is to offer. Building copy protection and payment mechanisms into protocols and file formats is a really bad idea. It institutionalizes the middle man, and hurts Free Software. It also encourages piracy rather than diminishing it. Systems that will work are ones that don't treat people like criminals, and allow individuals to pick a proper "reward" for content creators. Furthermore, I refuse to believe that artists create just to get paid. If they do, the really are just not artists. Whenever I choose to create something, there is not much profit motive there. Some of the greatest works ever were created without any notion of copyright. I do believe in the original ideals of copyright law, but as it stands now, it is vastly contorted and rewritten to favor distributors rather than the people that matter - artists and appreciators.
I am becoming more and more interested in figuring out ways to leverage public domain works for the public good. There is a lot of absolutely incredible stuff out there. I have the feeling that a lot of people don't take advantage of it, either because it is hard to find, or they don't know they can. I want to figure out a way to unify a lot of the "virtual library" type projects out there, so people can search and access this stuff using something with more of a napster feel. Websites are all well and good, but we should be thinking of them more as "leisure" sorts of things. We need better searching so we can find what we want initially, and then can choose if we want to bother with the website or not. Sometimes I just want to browse through some Van Gogh. Other times I want to read about each painting, and find out about their relationships. We need ways to facilitate this. We need solid metadata systems. We need means of cross-referencing large bodies of work on the fly. We need ways to tip the people that make this all available for us. And we need it all to be in open file formats that are designed for searching and portability. Documents should be in well-structured XML. Audio should be in open formats like Ogg Vorbis. Images should be in JPG or PNG. Ok, enough ranting on this. One more rant to go:
On the topic of people complaining about various features (or lack of features) of advogato: Really, I think that the current structure of advogato is what makes it a unique and well-defined community. The diaries allow everyone to see what various community members are working on, and the public conversations are interesting to follow. The articles have no real need to be threaded - there are typically few responses to articles, so we may as well keep them as open conversations. Threading can be nice, but at the same time I see it as limiting conversation styles. The other thing that I have been kind of annoyed at is people asking for certification to a given level. It seems kind of antithetical to the idea of *trust* metrics that people ask for a given level of certification. The idea is that you prove yourself in some manner. While I'd like to be ranked higher than Apprentice, I realize that since I haven't been ranked higher, there is probably a reason. So I am perfectly content with my Apprenticeship, and am confident that when I actually deserve it, I'll be ranked higher. I certify people as a result of taking part in discussion with them. To me, that is the best indicator of where they should be in the trust metric system. The trust metric is a pretty damn cool system, and I see it as having a ton of useful applications. But it becomes pretty pointless once it is no longer about trust. So if you're not being certified up, it is probably because you haven't shown that you should be yet. Ok, that's the end of my rant.
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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