How does Leadership work
How does Leadership work
Welcome back to reality !
I’m sure you had almost started thinking of yourself as a global citizen as you wished each other “Merry Christmas” and partied well over the weekend. Especially to those in Kathmandu and cities. I’m sure some of you had already made plans for the New Year celebration. Life was sailing all right. You had those usual complaints and ideas on how to improve the system in the country but even without them, things seemed to be working just fine. At least they weren’t getting on your way. The crippling strikes (bandhas) and road-blockades wouldn’t deter you from doing your work or enjoying your leisure (Read: Nation of Strikes). Who cares about Nepalese politics anyway?
That was until I read the news today that next week onwards, we’ll have eight hours of power cut every day. Another 15 days, and the duration will be ten hours. Soon, it will be sixteen-hour a day.
Well friends, welcome back to reality ! I think power-cuts should be a part of our national priority and policy-agenda. Nothing, not even strikes, has as strong effect of grounding the unruly youths of the nation, as the power-cut schedule has. To those guilty of thinking of themselves as competitive and capable-of-anything generation of energetic youth, nothing is as humbling as this schedule. Back to where your belong, fellas!
It was about a year ago that I wrote a couple of posts on the same topic. I just went through them, and found some points worth repeating:
With an predicted economic crisis (triggered by a liquidity crunch) in six months, and a foreseen political crisis in four months, load-shedding was just the missing ingredient for a wonderful new year gift for the population.
Ankur on Load Shedding:
अँध्यारोमा जन्मेको थ्यौ, अँध्यारोमै मर
घुस खाको पैसा बाँकि भए, जेनेरेटरमा भर ।
Meanwhile, I recently read about people like us declaring independence from Nepal and forming a separate country.
And, oh yes – Happy New Year 2010.
Solved: Plone installation Strange Error
After installing Plone 3.3.2 as a standalone server from the Unified Installer in Ubuntu 9.04, adding a new plone-site (from the ZMI) produced strange error. I have been facing this for quite sometime now.
The Error Message:
Site Error An error was encountered while publishing this resource. Error Type: KeyError
Error Value: ''
Here’s the error log taken from the file instance.log.
In the instance section of the buildout.cfg file, add the following (replacing your own timezone if necessary):
Run the buildout again, start the Zope Server and the problem will be gone.
For some strange reason, Python couldn’t pick up the timezone of my machine. We fixed that by explicitely providing one in the buildout.cfg file.
Matthew Wilkes told me on IRC, “when Zope creates a date object it uses the timezone of the local machine, if not otherwise specified. Every object gets a creation date, which is then stored in the portal catalog so it can be searched for. The catalog tries to normalise the timezones so searches don’t have to take account of the fact that 1pm EST is the same time as 6pm GMT. Zope couldn’t find my machine’s timezone for whatever reason, so used the timezone ”, which caused a key-error when the date-time machinery tried to look up what the offset from GMT is.” He said that they will have to work on making the installation process adress this strange problem.
Matthew has added a ticket for this bug: #9857.
Thanks, also to cbess (I guess he is Christopher Bess) of the #plone IRC channel.
How to install Plone with the Unified Installer and managing projects with buildout. The later link also explains how to install Plone using paster, which I’m told is the ‘advanced’ way to do the thing
I’d prefer installing from my Package Manager. But there also seems to be some problem in Jaunty’s plone3-site package as attempting to install plone3-site from synaptic gave this error:
Setting up plone3-site (3.1.7-1) …
dpkg: error processing plone3-site (–configure): subprocess post-installation script returned error exit status 10
Errors were encountered while processing: plone3-site
Is a day job necessary for a startup owner?
Whether or not to keep a day job while venturing out on a startup is a key question for many entrepreneurs. Startup owners, in my opinion, should find/keep a day-job until investors are found or the startup starts becoming expectedly profitable. Some good reads on the web:
Has the SRK detention story been overblown?
Recently, bollywood superstar ShahRukh Khan (SRK) was detained for a little over 1 hour (according to the US authorities, 2 hours according to Indian news sources) in an American airport when he was travelling to perform in a show. It has been attributed to his Muslim name and is said that the Indian government had to apply diplomatic measures to release him. A lot of furor has been created since and heated comments from SRK and his supporters have been coming.
Profiling people based on their names, religion, country of origin, race etc is totally wrong. Worse is the unlawful detention, extra-judicial powers to law authorities, surveillance and the increasing attack on freedoms and civil liberties. This escalated after 9/11 and has been continuing unabated since. Many other countries have joined the league and freedom of people all over the world is being restricted day by day.
SRK isn’t an isolated case. On 15th August, a similar fate met Bob Dylan. Though SRK mighet be more popular than Hollywood actors, Dylan’s personality and role in the rights-movement some decases ago and in the protest of Vietnam war are stuffs legends are made of. A few years ago, a famous singer Cat Stevens who is a Islam-convert was deported after being denied entry to the US, also because of his Muslim name. Unlike SRK, he’s one of “them”, the western world. Studies by civil liberty groups claim that more than 5% of the American population itself is kept on a possible terrorist-suspect list and are subjected to harrassment at airports. A foreign minister of Hugo Chavez was “threatened and shoved” by airport officials, even after informing them of his identity. Even Nelson Mandela was (there have been reports that his name has since been removed) on a terrorist watch list prepared by the FBI which contiues to grow longer and longer every day. Similarly, names of many American leaders and people are also there.
IndiaTimes blog has an entry that requests not to make a big deal over the SRK case. In my experience, South Asia in itself is a very racist place with the North-Indians in India and the residents of Kathmandu being the most frequent offenders I’ve seen. Sometime ago, a racist slur was made on an Indian Idol from North-Eastern India belonging to a Nepali-speaking community by a Mumbai FM RJ. In my observation, such behaviour is common, especially in the Indian capital, to North-Eastern Indians, Bhutanis and Nepalese of mongolian origin. Dinesh Wagle echoes my observations in a recent article. Kathmandu-residents are very intolerant of anybody from outside the valley and especially the Terai.
In my opinion, racism in any form, any where is deplorable. Such activities remind of colonial days. It is a good thing that India has risen to the capacity of defending its citizens even at the world’s sole superpower – maybe this reckons of days when it will stop being the sole-superpower. However, the basic flaw is in the state of civil liberties worldwide. Unless this realisation dawns, getting emotional over SRK issue may be benefitial to his upcoming movie that is said to be based on similar issues, but it will make no significant change on the way things are.
They were never different. Just because SRK is SRK, expecting them to change is only stupid. The issue has been overblown.
By Binit Thapa
“Real Programmers don’t comment their code. If it was hard to write, it should be hard to read.”
Obfuscation: confusion resulting from failure to understand, mystification. Try telling someone you’re a programmer and he knows you’re an ugly, boring specimen of homo sapiens1 who has neither girlfriend nor time. Why, only today there was a discussion going on at InRev2 about how less frequently the software team went to toilets. Once you are into the programming spirit, everything else becomes moh-maya3. When you misplace something, you miss find and grep4. And when you’ve got par with all the games you have, you start writing code for fun. Maybe a small useful tool or maybe a piece of code that only bows to its creator. While this technique is not new, it’s so unique and diverse that it can easily cause a mild heart-attack if you’re not a really good programmer. Here I’ll present some of the best ones, which I’ve collected over time. But I won’t explain those to you as I’ve never fully understood them myself.
This is a valid C program that generates a nice poem when compiled. Author: James O. Coplien
The next one is prime number test by Abigail. This prints “prime” as 7 is a prime number.
perl -wle ‘print “Prime” if (1 x shift) !~ /^1?$|^(11+?)\1+$/’ 7
Next ones are taken from JAPH5 section of CPAN.
The examples above were scripts with some meaningful output. There’s also poetry which may not produce any output but compiles perfectly and looks nice. These are some of those, all compiling perfectly in Perl.
I am signing off with some good references. Other examples are left as an exercise to the reader, etc.
1 homo sapiens - the set containing both programmers and Muggles
2 InRev - the company I work with
3 moh-maya - loving the materialistic things
4 find and grep - unix tools to search tokens in files.
5 JAPH - Just a Perl Hacker, scripts by Perl Hackers.
1. Wiki explains http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obfuscated_code
2. The International Obfuscated C Code Contest - http://www.ioccc.org/
3. The Perl Poetry - http://docstore.mik.ua/orelly/perl/prog3/ch27_02.htm
4. JAPHs in CPAN http://www.cpan.org/misc/japh
About the writer: Binit Thapa is the Chief Software Architect of the Bangalore-based startup InRev. He has industry experience in scripting tools, Linux and Unix development environment, SOAP/XML and data storage technologies. He is a graduate of Bachelor of Engineering (IT) from NIT Durgapur, India.
Note: I would like to thank InRev, Binit Thapa and Bhupendra Khanal for making this guest-article possible. I welcome other guest articles on topics coherent with the theme of this blog.
Not much to write today but I have moved back to Debian, having installed its latest stable release (5.0) named “Lenny.” I used the CD image for installation instead of DVD and the installed amount of desktop applications surprised me at first. They are very less in number. Even usual applications like OpenOffice.org, XChat, Pidgin, Transmission etc weren’t installed. The Synaptic Package Manager, GParted and other utilities were missing too. I have uploaded a full-size screenshot of my desktop for the reason that both GIMP and Imagemagick are not present in my system at present
Here is a list of steps for those who might want to try what I did:
To install Synaptic package manager:
deb http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/ lenny main contrib non-free
deb-src http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/ lenny main contrib non-free
My DVD drive isn’t working for some reason lately. I had to install using the CD image located in my hard disk. Steps:
title Debian Lenny Installer
The seduction of “Free Tibet”
Just ahead of the Beijing Olympics, a group of white men were discussing Free Tibet in a Thamel pub. Sitting next to me, they seemed to make some interesting points about why Tibet should be free and how China had been violating human rights. I got into a heated debate with one of them, who was a Russian. When I started talking of how Russia had been committing graver crimes in Chechnya and other parts of its neighborhood, his arguments seemed to fade away. He then tried to persuade me, saying that after Tibet, it’s Nepal’s turn to come under Chinese scanner. Well, to be honest many in Nepal fear such moves from India rather than from China- given India’s historical motives with Sikkim and Bhutan (called Sikkimization and Bhutanization in Nepal) and with Nepal itself. International refugees don’t have the right to engage in political activities in the host country.
If indeed China has been violating human rights in Tibet, it is condemnable. It should allow free practice of religion, freedom of speech and organization and of dissent since economic progress can’t be a substitute for political progress (and vice versa). At the same time, China has the right to control violence inside it’s territory (Tibetan protests often are very violent, read more, please.), even more so, if Israel and America can deploy army and use excessive forces against a silent population in foreign lands. Tibet is recognized as Chinese territory by almost all of the world, including the United States.
Tibet shares a long border with Nepal, over 1200 km long. And many Nepalese from the Northern part have a Tibetan/Mongolian origin- meaning that their religious, cultural and linguistic practices have some similarities.
More than a century ago, Nepalese troops made a couple of attacks on Tibet. (Interestingly, I’ve been to one of the forts of Nepal-Tibet war ) Often, Chinese troops would also be engaged in those wars. Having defeated Tibet, Nepal used to enjoy huge annual tribute in the form of cash and gold. This continued till 1950, when Tibet came under the direct control of Communist China (Some Indian “analysts” like this wrongly state that Nepal used to pay tributes to China- there’s no record in history to suggest that).
There is a large population holding the idea that Tibet was never free and was always under Chinese control. Almost all of the Chinese population belongs to this group. As I wrote in Slashdot last year, they blame the western media and rulers for all the controversy surrounding Tibet. Similarly, there’s a larger group that believes that Tibet was always free and that’s how it ought to be in the future. Both of them are misled. Tibet and China have a very long history of coexistence and struggle. Tibet was under Chinese control for a large part of its history. Tibet also had annexed parts of the Chinese territory during this time. Incidentally, during Nepal-Tibet wars, Tibet occasionally won over some parts of Nepalese land too.
Most Tibetans practice Buddhism. Sometime in the 16th century, a group of Tibetan aristocrats invented the myth named “Dalai Lama”- who could incarnate and rule over the people; much like the King in Nepal who’s now overthrown. An overwhelming majority of Tibetans (some sources say, 95%) were servants and slaves to the small group of aristocrats represented by the Dalai Lama. Nepalese folklores portray Tibet as a very poor state. In one of the most famous works of Nepali literature- “Muna Madan” by Laxmi Prasad Devkota, the protagonist goes to Tibet (also known as Bhot in Nepal) and suffers a lot. Tibet was known to Nepalese primarily as trading place for salt. Despite such abject poverty and backwardness, the Dalai Lamas lived in big, sophisticated palaces, owned large amounts of gold (there’s a popular Nepali proverb indicating Lhasa-the Tibetan capital’s collection of gold) and ruled unquestioned. From 1950-59, the Chinese allowed Dalai Lama to continue unabated. When Communist China started to make some minor changes, these aristocrats had their privileged stripped, and had enough reasons to revolt. Dalai Lama fled in 1959 and it was only then that China started to implement its policies in a full-fledged way.
Dalai Lama, Free Tibet and Nepal
Free Tibet protestors in Bauddhanath, Kathmandu on 10th March 2009 (Picture:AFP)
Once in India, the Dalai Lama, then a celebrity, started a pseudo Tibetan government and parliament which runs till today. A few years later, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Today, to many people, he represents everything divine. Many Hollywood stars, western leaders and ordinary citizens are his devoted followers and fans. Not surprisingly, many children grow up feeding on the idea that Dalai Lama is the incarnation of god, who believes in Peace and Love while the Chinese government kills his followers in Tibet. On the contrary, after 1960, Tibet has developed in an unbelievable pace. The once despised cities of Tibet have today grown far more prosperous than their Nepalese counterparts. Many Nepalese workers go to Tibet in search of work and Nepal imports a huge supply of goods from Tibet.
India has been an active center for Free Tibet supporters. Their government and parliament is located there and from where most of their activities are coordinated. Unfortunately, Nepal is also another center for such activities. Spend an evening near the Bauddhanath area in Kathmandu and you will perhaps get to observe the thick of events that go discretely in the city. An year ago, five ministers of Tibetan pseudo-government in India, all carrying Nepalese passports (illegally, of course), accompanied by the French ambassador to Nepal were reportedly meeting the Tibetans at Bauddhanath area. Nepal has been known as a route for ordinary citizens and criminals fleeing to India from Tibet. Apart from that, there are many Tibetan refugees in Nepal itself. Many years ago, the CIA-trained group of armed Tibetan rebels called Khampaas were disarmed by the Nepalese army. Some analysts think that similar armed groups might be on the move in Nepal. It is, therefore, imperative for Nepal’s government to curb any measures that might lead to violence in its neighborhood. China is one of the biggest sponsors of Nepal’s development projects and irking a neighbor as good as China is not in Nepal’s best interests.
So many Americans seem to be oblivious to human rights abuses by their government and allied nations. Debates regarding gross violation of Human Rights by Saudi Arabia and Israel are never allowed to gain mainstream attention. Similarly, suppression of dissident and civil right groups inside America itself through instruments like FBI and NSA (and activities like illegal wiretapping) are easily ignored and of course, Abu-Gharib and Guantanamo Bay don’t deserve much criticism. I have never heard of Americans or Britons protesting against the killings of over 5 million people in Congo in about a decade’s time. Talk of Chechnya, and a Russian cringes. Talk of Lebanon, Afganistan, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Cuba and the rest of Latin America, of Israel and of Saudi Arabia- and you have to consider being anonymous on the internet. But if you talk of Free Tibet, suddenly, you become a freedom fighter, a proponent of a noble cause. In fact, you will have a larger mass that will listen to you - your stance will be hailed.
Many Indians and some Nepalese also back the idea of Free Tibet and subscribe to all the western media’s fodder. Surprisingly, the same people take it as a personal affront when asked about Indian army’s excesses in Kashmir and the North Eastern states like Assam, Manipur and Nagaland. None of them seem to support the decades old Gorkhaland movement (for a state, not independence) by ethnic Nepali-speaking population of Darjeeling, Dooars and Siliguri. There are about a million Nepali-speaking Bhutanese refugees in Nepal- all of them driven away from their country (via India) and demanding to be sent back home. Bhutan is also accused of attempting ethnic cleansing, yet none among the Indian, Nepalese or American establishment seem to pay heed to their completely peaceful struggle.
Why This Post?
It was exactly fifty years ago, on the 10th of March that Dalai Lama fled Tibet. As the day drew closer, authorities in Nepal and China had heightened security around the border. Nepalese police tried to curb anti-China protests in the capital. I don’t see anything wrong with that. I am for even stronger measures against Free Tibet activists working in Nepal- anywhere else is OK, but NO to such activities in Nepal.
To Free Tibet aspirants of South Asia: I detest China’s crimes in Tibet. I am a strong supporter of freedom, activism and liberties, but such values should not be viewed in absolute terms. The freedom fights in many other parts of the world and in South Asia itself are in need of global attention and support. People there have been subjected to much harsher conditions and prolonged durations of injustice. Human Rights standards should apply equally to all the countries. Ignoring such issues for a propaganda like Free Tibet is a harmful seduction. Free Tibet propaganda is largely artificial and unjustified.
Noam Chomsky on Tibet and Palestine
Was Tibet a peaceful paradise of spirituality and social order before the Chinese take over or was it just another feudal theocracy for the ordinary people who lived there?
The CIA’s secret war in Tibet
CBC, Canada - Tibet timeline
A Reuters reporter recalls the Dalai Lama’s escape to India
What does Free Tibet mean to you?
Comparing Kashmir with Tibet
Linux Journal Tech Tip Video Contest
Linux Journal is a leading magazine on GNU/Linux and free/open source softwares. The yearly Readers’ Choice Awards announced by the magazine are considered to be an authoritative list among Free Software hackers and users. The magazine also offers many of its articles via its website. I like their content, especially the tricks, sysadmin helps and programming articles.
Incidentally, this happens to be their 15th year of publication and they are planning to celebrate it in big ways. This week (March 9 - 13), happens to be the Tech Tip Video Contest Week.
If you want a free 1-year digital subscription to Linux Journal watch the daily Tech Tip videos this week and collect the secret letters hosts Shawn Powers and/or Mitch Frazier announce during the videos each day. This Friday, unscramble the letters to reveal the secret word(s). Everyone with the correct answer who responds by 11:59:59PM U.S. Eastern Standard Time March, Friday 13th, 2009 wins a free digital subscription to Linux Journal — it’s that easy!
If you know of better ways of having fun while learning Linux, be sure to drop a comment to this post
Nepal’s untapped wealth
Nepal’s poor economy has never had the opportunity of a sensible political leadership. Especially since the civil war in the 1990s, it is in total disarray. The peace-process is only existent in name and paper. Industries are either already closed or are on the verge of shutting down. Industrialists are leaving the country for greener pastures as Maoist-affiliated labor unions’ high-handedness doesn’t seem to cease but instead appears to have encouraged other unions for similar actions (Read more about the unions’ excesses in a recent issue of a popular Nepali newsmagazine Himaal).
There are a few sectors where Nepalis feel safe investing, however. Real estate is one of them though it’s not institutionalized yet. People invest all they have in land and houses. In a country where there’s no better use of money than saving it, banking is perhaps the only other trusted place for investment. Maybe, that’s the reason for the increasingly popular trend of investing in the banking industry.
Every time a bank’s IPO is announced, queues can be seen all over Kathmandu of people vying to get a piece of the cake. The same enthusiasm is very rare in the stock markets though. In the past 9-10 months, a little less than a half a dozen banks have announced their IPOs and I haven’t seen the craze fading. Last week, Citizens’ Bank and Bank of Asia announced their IPOs. For Citizens’ stocks worth NRs 300,000,000 people have readied NRs 6,000,000,000. For similar figures, people deposited NRs 5,000,000,000 in Bank of Asia’s coffers. A few months ago, Global Bank Ltd received NRs 12,000,000,000 during its IPO. Those are huge figures by any means in a country like ours, especially for the stocks offered. Such occasions used to be unheard of during the past.
My observation tells me that about 5 percent of Nepal’s population is usually interested and/or aware of such IPOs. Among those who apply for stocks, most people invest only about 10-30% of their savings. This indicates the amount of Nepal’s untapped wealth. If there were suitable conditions for investment and business, the government could have easily run many successful ventures including power plants. The irony is that the government’s paraphernalia themselves are hell bent on not letting such possibilities turn into reality. They will make sure that strikes, obstructions and other machinations of destruction will follow no sooner than the people will start investing.
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.
Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.
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!