Older blog entries for cinamod (starting at number 62)

Uraeus, you might want to tell Michael Benes that his code probably doesn't have any problems with the GPL. From what I've seen, the code borrowed from MPlayer is:

  • very small in both size and scope
  • rote boilerplate that one simply must write for DirectX to emit sound

These 2 facts taken together are pretty analogous to copyrighting "the" - it simply can't be done. IANAL, but that's just my $0.02

Morten, well, that all depends on what the definition of "is" is...
Christian, it's likely that Senator Clinton is doing what's called a "rush to the middle". That is, she is trying to appear more conservative and "moral" than she really is in order to appeal to the more conservative folks. This is probably a PR stunt leading upto her widely-rumored 2008 Presidential campaign.

Just my $0.02

Tomas, that's because in the US you get branded a traitor (or worse) if you suggest that the terrorists are anything other than whackjobs. The terrorists couldn't possibly have *any* legitimate gripes against us. They must hate our freedoms. Yeah, that's it. Our shit doesn't stink. We most certainly haven't done anything to upset them. Pesky questions like "why do they really hate us" are certainly not important, and are likely to get you into trouble.

  • No, we never gave WMDs to Saddam during his war against Iran...
  • The current war in Iraq is totally justified. So long as you're using whatever justification the administration is using this week...
  • No, we don't support the state of Isreal...
  • No, we never gave Osama and his Afghani army money, arms, and training during the 1980s...
  • No, we don't have military bases on Muslim land...
  • No, those female GIs walking around in non-Muslim garb on those military bases definitely don't upset some Saudi fundamentalists...
  • No, we never left depleted uranium shells in Iraq after the Gulf war, causing countless birth defects and other complications...
  • No, we didn't blow up Iraqi infrastructure (including lots of soft targets like acquaducts) during the Gulf war...
  • No, the sanctions against Iraq were a good idea, even though it's estimated that a million people died as a direct effect of them...
  • No, we don't ever try to manipulate political and social regimes in the middle east...
  • No, we don't support opressive regimes in Saudi and elsewhere...
  • No, Saddam and Osama definitely weren't our buddies in the 1980s...

I don't condone attacks against civilian targets, be they done by terrorists or the US military. I don't necessarily think that all of the things we've done above were "wrong" decisions. And I don't think that non-involement in the region will be a panacea either. But I won't pretend that those actions weren't controversial. Try walking a mile in their shoes. If I were in a Saudi's shoes, I might want to blow shit up. I'd imagine that most people would feel the same.

Our might does not make right. Our present and historical invovlement in the mideast is conveniently unknown or forgotten. Effects and causes are disjoint.

The West Wing's Toby Ziegler might be right - maybe they will like us when we win. But maybe they'll like us if we simply stop doing everything within our power to fsck with their lives. There's a good New Testament quote to the effect of "they will know you are a Christian through your actions and good deeds." Let's spread freedom through our good example instead of our tanks.

As you mention, it's the same way with crime. The only solution the US population will stomach is bigger prisons and offender databases. Criminalize everything. Issue Amber alerts. Run 24-hour coverage of blondes missing in Aruba, 40 days after they've disappeared. What you end up with 3+ million Americans in prison. Nevermind vicious cycles of poverty, inadequate education, lacking health care, broken homes, and all the other root causes. You don't solve crime by locking up everyone. You only breed more poverty, more broken homes. More criminals. The UK understands this. Why can't we?


7 Jul 2005 (updated 7 Jul 2005 at 14:40 UTC) »

My heart and deepest sympathies go out to everyone in the UK. Goddamn acts of cowardice.

If there are any Gnomies in the Boston area this 4th of July and you don't have something to do tonight or just want to stop bye and say "hi", Ruth and I are having some people over. Relevant info here:


Zawinski's Law , in honor of JRB's recent evince work:

"Every program attempts to expand until it can read mail. Those programs which cannot so expand are replaced by ones which can.''

This weekend, I've been busy hacking on gtk-wimp, GTK+'s native Microsoft Windows theme engine. A lot of things are coming together nicely. What's especially nice is that someone has been submitting nit-picky bugs - things that make a theme author really pay attention to detail. Bug reports are always good. Or as Jody prefers to say, "Anal is good."

/me ducks

Things that work (or work better now):

  • Menu/toolbars have a gradient applied to them
  • Better handling of menu/toolbar shadows, even tracking how the theme is using them
  • Sliders (GTK+ calls them "scales") now use WinXP theming
  • Apps with status bars now get the WinXP status bar grippie drawn properly
  • Toolbar grippies are drawn nicely too
  • Notebook tabs now get that orange stripe across their top
  • A host of scrollbar bugs are fixed

There's lots of room for improvement, of course, but things are looking a lot better these days. A screenshot for interested parties. Please file bug reports at sf.net.

I have some requests for GTK+/GNOME application writers, from a themer's perspective:

  • Set gtk-button-images=0. Make sure that no dialog buttons have images in them.
  • Set gtk-menu-images=0. Make sure that your menus don't have images.
  • Play with gtk-icon-sizes. Tweak the toolbar and menu icon sizes. Make sure that your toolbar and menu icons respect those sizes.
  • Please set each dialog's alternative button ordering.

These all make a big difference in how "native" your app looks and feels, especially on Win32 as gtk-wimp tweaks a lot of these settings. I'll be pushing these changes upstream to GTK+'s CVS later today or tomorrow.

I'd also like to congratulate Damien and Jonita! I wish you two a happy marriage :)

22 Jun 2005 (updated 22 Jun 2005 at 12:43 UTC) »

W00t! I'm officially a terrorist and member of Al-Queda now! No, really, Jeff Merkey says so. If you're reading this, you probably are too!

This is easily the dumbest lawsuit that I've ever read. The suit contains gross errors of fact, misrepresentation and misattribution, and ludicrous claims that FOSS advocates are terrorists. The document is inconsistently numbered, contains numerous misspellings, punctuation errors, and uses of improper words ("or" instead of "are", for example). They couldn't even find Slashdot/OTSG's address, which is as hard as clicking on the "contact us" link on their website. Lawers and their assistants get paid a lot of money so that these sorts of errors don't happen. On the whole, the suit looks amateurish and an attempt at "grasping at straws".

My sympathies and best wishes go out to Pamela Jones, Bruce Perens, Slashdot, 200 John Does, and all of the other "far right-wing terrorists" mentioned in this suit.

I feel sorry for Merkey too, as he's been slandered and "threatened" (I doubt the sincerity and liklihood of the alleged threats) countless times by Anonymous Cowards on /. and Groklaw, and claims to have had his identity stolen. I can't help but feel that he has brought at least some of this wrath upon himself through his own irresponsible words and actions. But the immature and inappropriate reaction of some members of the community (the 200 "John Does" mentioned in the lawsuit, but especially not /., Groklaw, and Perens themselves) is both reprehensible and inexcusable. But by suing public message forums and those who would point out flaws in his reasoning and facts, Merkey has stepped to a new low in this saga. Which is an impressive feat for Merkey, all things considered.

Hi rillian,

I'm also a big fan of Free interchange mechanisms, be they file formats, protocols, languages, etc. I don't think that PDF is evil. I just think that it's less warm-and-fuzzy than a lot of people would like to believe, and that it's not substantially warmer or fuzzier than the Microsoft formats, legally speaking.

You're correct that they don't have an open development process. As far as I know, there isn't even a driving/coordinating committee like we see with the W3C and OASIS groups. PDF documentation is good and freely available. But so is documentation on the Word 2, 5, 7, and 97 formats. Both specs have their share of flaws and inaccuracies. Both specs can be gotten readily enough online.

It's truly refreshing that Adobe has a blanket patent grant for conformant apps. This is nice, but it's not Free or Open, since I'm not free to make a derivitive work that is non-conformant and still use those patents and other copyrighted bits. Further, Adobe explictly forbids use of patent 5,860,074 in a viewer (Method and apparatus for displaying an electronic document with text over object) which seems quite core to writing a compliant PDF viewer. From my cursory reading of the abstract, they're forbidding viewers from rendering Linearized/"Web Optimized" PDFs, at least intelligently. Ouch.

The PDF spec does include other sub-components that are or were patented by !Adobe (such as LZW, JPEG, JBIG2, JPEG 2000, etc.). Rillian is right - getting sued over these things is probably a low-risk endeavour. But the risks and patents remain, thus being a stumbling block toward "Freeness". I also contend that a conformant viewer would have to support those patented bits in order to recieve Adobe's blanket patent-grant. And the PDF spec is a daunting beast. Producing a conformant viewer is nigh-impossible. I've tried more than once.

It's nice that PDF is easier to parse than PS, but that's not quite germane to our argument. Considering that PS is a Turing-complete programming language, it's not exactly hard imagining an easier-to-interpret format. And it's worth noting that the majority of PDFs I encounter are corrupt in one way or another.

So, even if things are "nice" and "low-risk", it doesn't make them Free or even Open. Any way one looks at it, PDF the spec and PDF the format is a patent-encumbered, copyrighted entity that you're not allowed to distribute or make derivitive works thereof. Adobe has both said and shown that it's willing to enforce those protections when it suits them to do so.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't use (a subset of) PDF and make it our own. I'm pragmatic. To me, it looks like the best option out there today. I'm just saying that people like RMS shouldn't be hypocritical when they advocate PDF over another format. On "Freeness" and "Openness" issues alone, we might be better off taking a subset of the equally well-documented, widely-available, patent-unencumbered DOC format and make it our own. But I honestly don't want to see that happen.

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