Older blog entries for stefan (starting at number 22)

tk, you certainly accept that property is a category which doesn't exist outside human society. Even further, there have been societies without any form of property. Without getting into too much detail here, it would be important to define exactly what type of property we are talking about: there is conceptually a big difference between your private CD collection and the computer you use at work. The only one that plays a role in thie economic context is the second, which is a means of production.

Thus, if property exists, it is a form of our (social) existence, which is entirely the result of our own (human) evolution. This is the same evolution that shaped our (human) nature.
I'm unable to coin the term 'natural' in this context, you make it sound a bit metaphysical.

21 Mar 2002 (updated 21 Mar 2002 at 16:35 UTC) »

tk, property exists as a relationship we (human beings) establish. It's a contract. I'v never heared anybody deny the existence of intellectual property. The question is whether its existence is something we consider worth preserving, i.e. whether it makes the world a better place than not having it.

In this respect, it's important to consider Microsoft's argument seriously, although it is by no means a new one. It's the old dogma about human nature and its need for (material) incentives to be creative. For a nice treatment of that topic, you may want to read this paper.

Talking about project management (issue tracking, etc.), I came across this interesting tool, which renders a structured document interactive by various means.

I'm now pondering about how to enhance this idea further, based on docbook (the xsl stylesheets by ndw are nicely modular and extensible, so decorating the generated html with external references to tools such as a wiki would be a first start...), or a real issue tracker (I'm having a keen eye on scarab.

If anybody has seen other similar tools, or is thinking about working on such a tool, please get in touch !

Exploring how to combine different metaphors and paradigms together is always something I enjoy...

29 Jun 2001 (updated 29 Jun 2001 at 13:25 UTC) »

Added 3D primitive support to berlin last night. It still needs a lot of work for it all to blend nicely into one unified scene graph (using the appropriate traversal types as you walk through the polymorphic nodes, for example), but you can already get nice screenshots.

An interesting aspect to note is that I did all the prototyping in a python client, before I moved the code into the PrimitiveKit. The joy of using a location transparent and language transparent architecture...

I'v also been working on synopsis, in particular printable output formats. As it turned out, docbook isn't yet able to annotate programming languages, Abstract Syntax Trees in particular. *Sigh*.
I'll maybe go and make a proposal concerning some more entities, based on the AST type system I use inside synopsis.
In the meantime, I wrote a texinfo based formatter, which does the job quite nicely.

Just released a new version of synopsis. We have made amazing progress in the last couple of weeks, largely due to chalky who did a wonderful job at integrating the C++ parser and writing a flexible HTML formatter.
I'm very enthusiastic about this, as this is one of those rare situations where I have been able to colaborate pretty intensively on a project. While the other project I'm working on seems to catch a lot of attention, I'm mostly working alone on it these days, which is a bit boring. I very much welcome this refreshing change.

goingware writes: In my particular case, I had two class heirarchies. At the top of one class heirarchy was an abstract object editor, and subclasses were particular kinds of object editors. In the other class heirarchy the base was a drawing tool, and the subclasses were particular tools. In my case, only particular subclasses from one heirarchy were meant to operate on particular subclasses in another heirarchy, and I think there you can argue that RTTI is needed.

I assume you mean dynamic_cast and family. You may be surprised to read what Vlissides has to say about that topic, being a direct result of his work on Unidraw. It's a pitty such excellent work hasn't become more popular.

pphaneuf: Yes, I had a brief look at your sourceforge site, but I found (almost) no code, just pretty talk. I'm using CORBA myself a lot, and speed and efficiency does matter a lot. I didn't find any specific criticism of CORBA (or others) in your docs, so what exactly do you want us to review ?

Still working on porting Unidraw to Berlin. What confused me was the way it had been ported and partly integrated into Fresco. It's a true mess, to say the least. It is clear from a quick glance at the code that it had been done in a hurry, probably just to get some impressive applets up and running to show the power of Fresco's architecture.


Raph said: is it just me, or is the climate surrounding the debated US presidential election becoming really nasty and hostile? I don't understand where all the hostility is coming from.

I agree. Though I think the real trouble is even more serious. As I asked already, why take people an ellection, which shows equal support (within the margin of statistical error) for both candidates, and pretend there was a winner ? (Besides, I totally dislike this term, it has a taste of gambling). Ideally, they would recognize that no single party can serve the elector's will all alone, so they would need to sit together at a Round Table and do their best together. But that just ain't possible.

Instead, both sides demagogically praise the virtues of democracy and throw with mud. It seems this will be the state of affairs for the next couple of years...

Well, I'll be glad when it's over (hopefully by December 12), and hope that there's no serious lasting damage done.

Hopefully, people will realize that this kind of soap opera doesn't have anything to do with democracy. The winner is of course (surprise !) Corporate America, no matter who 'wins'. At least outside America, people are making lots of fun of all that. Is America still trying to sell their way of life to everybody else ?

Whether you consider that a damage, is certainly a question of perspective.


rogue nations

the The Hague conference is over, and no agreement has been reached. This is due to a couple of nations, which tried to dilute the original Kyoto goals up into hot air.

Cynically, these are the same nations which claim to be the world's leading hightech nations (and coincidentally those which are responsible for more than a third of the world's carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases') emission). Now they claim they are unable to meet Kyoto's targets without falling back to tricks like trading 'emission rights' (in other words, to buy the right to pollute and poison the world), or by counting 'greenhouse gas sinks'.

What is all their technology good for, if not to assure a worthwhile life for the next generations ?

Phoon: I'v never heared of any OS project that hires programmers. It's entirely your task to find projects which you'd like to contribute to. In particular, most of the time that doesn't even start with coding. Take part in discussions (feature requests, design, etc.) and generally ask questions to get an idea of the overal picture.
Also, running programs and reporting bugs, or helping out with web site maintainance is important, too. Just don't sit in your corner and wait for anybody else to pick you up...

Skud said The other thing is that in Ottawa, and even in Quebec, most francophones also speak English. If I were to stumble over ordering lunch, they'd just switch to English to save the trouble of figuring out what the hell I wanted.

I remember how I was insulted when - a couple of years back - I started a conversation in French, and as soon as the other person realized my accent (which wasn't even English !), he/she switched to English, in an attempt to help me. How would I ever learn French ? :)


"the American people has spoken"

I just don't get it. They are making so much noise about whether votes should be recounted or not, but miss the obvious. In an election in which the statistical error is in the order of thousands (and not being reduced by recounting !), how can a few hundrets decide about who is going to be the next president ?
The only sensible explanation is that it is totally insignificant (much as the election itself).

Besides, as the USA are messing around in every corner of the world, real elections would need to take into account votes from every person on the planet, as everybody is affected by the consequences of their politics.


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