Older blog entries for roozbeh (starting at number 144)

Family: Today, my grandfather died at the age of eighty-three, fifteen minutes before when me and Elnaz were supposed to arrive at his home to visit him and wish him well-being. It was so sad, to miss him like this.

My mom was at his death bed, and held him when he died. He was very well aware of what happened around him until the final moments, but had a hard time talking and moving in his last week. For all I know, he wished to die sooner, as he perhaps could not stand himself being weak. His mental image of himself was always a strong and clear-minded man, which was breaking after his illness after a few heart attacks he survived.

He is the nearest person I have lost to death. I tried my best to not look at his corpse, hoping that the avoiding will help me keep a better last image of him in my memory.

I had written here about him previously, on a note about Rumsfeld.

Maps: A Persian map of the area surrounding Sharif University of Technology in Tehran (which Farzaneh and me have mapped) is now image of the week on OpenStreetMap and appears on the project’s front page. Nice!

OSM’s infrastructure is great, but more mappers and developers are definitely needed and are quite welcome. Getting involved in the project is highly recommended if you love maps, own a GPS device, or like trying your hand on hacking map-related software like map renderers and route finders.

For us, it’s a unique opportunity to beat the proprietary providers’ inaccurate and out-of-date maps for the quickly changing Tehran which is full of oneway streets and dead end alleys, and release the first free maps of the huge city where we’ve been born and brought up.

Rally: We will be participating in a TSD Rally tomorrow. So if you live in Tehran, watch for the numbered cars, which may pass your street, it’s quite fun!
Hackergotchis: We found a very funny thing about Reza, a new colleague of FarsiWeb, last night: he used his hackergotchi for an official photo for his registration for the National Examinations for Post-graduate Studies, which is considered a very serious/official/... thing!

I don't know how it passed the officials, why they didn't think he's a total hoax, etc., but anyway, here it is:

Addictions of life: After Rodrigo first wrote about it, OpenStreetMap has become a new addiction. I used to look down on a book or magazin or watch the usual traffic (and get scared becuase of the bad drivers) when we were in a car (note: I don't drive). But now I look for street signs and oneway streets and the topography of squares.

Help!

Fedora: I just checked the latest statistics for Fedora Core merge review. Of the 1087 packages which must be reviewed, only 60 have already passed review (5.5%), 113 are under review to some degree (10.4%), of which 69 (6.3% of the total) await some action from the package owner and 44 (4.0% of the total) await some action from the reviewer. A total of 914 have not really started going under review (84.1%).

And that is just the bare statistics. The larger and harder packages (kernel, glibc, ...) are mostly in that 84%.

We seriously need more package reviewers. There have only been a few reviewers and I think some of them (like myself) are already burned out. We also need more collaboration from package owners (famously known as “The Red Hat Engineers”).

(Personally, I guess I will finish some of the reviews that I started and then maybe a few easy ones, but that’s all unless I suddenly find a lot of energy.)

War: We had a few friends at our place Tuesday (which was a public holiday here). We played Cluedo, we cooked some Chinese food together, we talked a lot about cooking, satire, ... We enjoyed our time.

The only worrisome thing that came up a few times, was a possible war on Iran, and one of our guests (Matin) had heard it may even happen in two weeks time. I, having not followed the very recent turn of events but only the developments about the Democrats getting control of the US Congress and Senate, found that ridiculous and impossible.

But after another guest (Arash) explained the way he thinks some things will happen, I agreed that they may. We saw that the only way of getting Iran and the US into a war would be an attack by Israel. The Israeli government may be under pressure for the various things enough to do something like that. After all, they seem to be very angry at what happened in Lebanon, and they may like to do something about it.

Let me tell you what will happen from this side. The bombs or the rockets or whatever they will be that will only be targetted to nuclear facilities will also kill several civilians, because of people living with their families near the facilities, misfires, and various other reasons, let alone future Chernobyl-like effects.

From that moment, Iran will enter a war state. Having grown up in a war (how many of the readers of this blog can claim the same?), which was interestingly another war with Iran which also had the US on the other side of the table, I can easily tell you how that will feel like.

Random scenes that come to my mind: the very brilliant people (who usually are very sensitive) will get hot and go to war voluntarily and get killed. Several others who are scared of war and the draft/conscription will hide (or get hidden by worrisome moms) at home and will not see the light of day for months. The borders will be closed. There will be refugess to countries like Afghanistan and Turkmenistan who used to send refugess the other way around, to Iran... The effects would be irreversible. Think about the Iranians scattered in the world today in the West, you will have Iranians everywhere: in Arab countries, in Central Asia, in Caucasia, in South Asia, in Eastern Europe, in North Africa, ...

The government will have much tighter control because of a war state, which they will keep the same way the US goverment has kept the post-9/11 state by introducing the Homeland Security Advisory System (Did you know that the current threat level is Orange/High Risk of Terrorist Attacks for all US domestic and international flights? What does “High” really mean?). The Iranians will have a much harder time than presently, although I guess it will take quite a while for us to get to the level Iraq is now experiencing. I guess instead of the sect-related Sunni/Shia conflict Iraq is having now, we will have a ethnicity-related Persian/Azerbaijani/Kurdish/Baloch/Turkmen conflict.

And of course, more innocent Americans will get killed!

It may be so sad for observers, but it will be hell for us random free software developers who will not be able to leave the country once the Iranian government declares a state of war (even if it's only one simple rocket from Israel, with no US involvement).

I hope I can sleep tonight.

Movies: We watched The Lost City last night with a bunch of friends and the night before that with just Elnaz and me, and I quite enjoyed it. But the reaction of our friends was quite varied, which made me wonder a lot.

One of them (Shervin) even originally thought that it was a setup and I had planned to show them a long and controversial movie just to see how they’ll react to it, while I had only been trying to share a wonderful experience... I guess most of the controversy had originally arisen because of portraying Che negatively. Who knows?

Still, I highly recommend the movie to get some idea of how it feels for a normal person to live through and/or after a revolution, specially for someone who cares mostly about life, instead of ideas. The image of young revolutionaries helping the government confiscate their father's property, for example, has been a quite common image in early days of post-revolutionary Iran, for example. The music and the colorful dancing scenes are also lovely.

21 Dec 2006 (updated 21 Dec 2006 at 15:11 UTC) »
Unicode: I just got my copy of the Unicode 5.0 book. It’s so wonderfully typeset, specially the code charts. I got a version signed by many of the editors of the standard, which I guess I will be keeping for quite a while.

Major changes include:

  • More than a thousand new characters, specially Phoenician ones (for your nostalgia) and Sumero-Akkadian Cuneiform (for mine).
  • Unicode Bidi now is more specific about bidi mirroring.
  • Unicode promised to encode uppercase and lowercase letters together, to stabilize casing. (This results in weird things. For example, if a new uppercase letter is found in, say, Roman Latin, with no corresponding lowercase letter, and Unicode is asked to encode it, it will add a lowercase placeholder characters to correspond to it.)
  • Indic scripts were clarified more. But don’t ask me how, as I can’t say I understand the interaction of virama, ZWJ, and ZWNJ much.
  • Last but not least, is that they are not printing all that CJK and Hangul characters in the book anymore. They are on a CD, so if you really do like the trees, you can avoid wasting them on things you don’t have any hope to understand. Also, this makes the book carriable in your bag.

But don’t listen to me. Go and read what Mark Davis has to say about it.

I highly recommend buying the book, even if it is just for seeing my name in the same book as names such as Don Knuth, Bill Gates, and Joel Spolsky. ;-)

You can order the book from The Unicode Consortium (or your favorite online bookstore, but don’t buy from Amazon.com, blah, blah).

Java as free software: While I congratulate Sun guys for freeing Java at last, and am looking forward to see it have a good impact on several users and developers, like being able to use Java applets in completely free browsers, I feel worried about the in-between situation.

Just today, a customer asked me that now that Java has been opened up, is it “OK” finally? Their organization has some open source policies and he was wondering if they should not plan to replace Java anymore.

Many manager types have got the message wrong. They think that by the events of yesterday, they can now use Java freely, that they are not bound by Sun’s will anymore: they will be able to hire people to fix the bugs, they are less depending on proprietary software, they can use the software in ways previously impossible, etc. This may have been intended, of course.

Thus, while it’s a long-term victory for developers and users (which we should thank Sun for), the short-term impact of just freeing some parts but not others may become very annoying. Just like the old days of hearing “But Java is already Open!”

The customer, I told him to worry until the day they can replace all the proprietary parts of the stack. I told him that he needs to worry until he has replaced their current Java implementation with a free one, even if it still comes from Sun and provides exactly the same funtionality. On that day, he can stop worrying about the proprietary software and start worrying about language choice ;-)

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