Friday, November 30

Please do not port software to Windows!

I found a small plea on the net for not porting GNU software to Windows. At first sight, the arguments sounded convincing, but I find them to be mainly colour-blind arguments.

They sounded to me close to believer-fervour (and that should, I believe, always be closely examined, lest it degrades to fanaticism).

The writer says (among other things):
Many people using Windows don't care about their freedom. They do care about quality software and for that reason try to replace all the user space software from Microsoft with better free alternatives. This is the sole reason for the existance of cygwin.
which is a gross generalization. The "sole reason" for the existence of cygwin is more than one (so to speak). Among these reasons, is providing a compatibility layer.

It is the same purpose that is provided by the wine on *NIX, by the way.

Is cygwin more powerful than Windows' default software?
Arguably, it is.
Still, the reason I had it installed at my old job, was because I needed to run some shell scripts that needed it. For a Windows shell, I now use Windows PS (easier to install, though not as powerful or complete in features, as cygwin, but it's enough).

More of the arguments, made me remember the how-to that I commented on, a few days ago: instead of having an open mind, they start from "Windows is evil, how do we get about replacing it?"

Do I think windows is evil?
Not in purpose.

Are they trying to make (more) money?

Does that make them evil?
Not as such, no.

Does it make them unethical?
Sometimes (OK, most of the time), but still, not "evil", not "bend on sabotage/destruction" which "evil" would mean.

The writer of the plea is ignoring completely Microsoft's purpose here: they don't care for "making software", but for "making money". Once you keep this in mind, they're just another corporation.

Does that make them unfit for any purpose?

It is (arguably) easier for a company to get up a Windows network, than a *NIX one (if for no other reasons, then for the number of Windows administrators available in the workforce, compared to *NIX administrators).

It is also easier for a commercial development team to use a suite of products that integrate together than five or ten separate ones.

When, as a team leader, you know you have to deliver in six months, you'd rather go for the software package with the smaller learning curve, not for "yes, but after we learn vi, we'll write code really fast" (especially if the month spent customizing vi and fighting the vi learning curve, is a month the team could be writing software in).

That said, I use Kubuntu Linux at home. It is fit for my purpose at home (playing with it's settings, adding lots of things and trying them out, browsing and a bit of development), and it's free (yes, freedom in software matters, both in price and in choice).

I feel having more of the world switching to free operating systems would generally be a good idea (if for no other reasons, then for encouraging competition), but using partial arguments and trying to limit choice ("please don't port my software to windows" so windows users might be forced to switch) is the same kind of play that Microsoft does, but on a smaller scale:

It is limiting freedom, all over again.

Thursday, November 29

Sunday, November 18

Vote of "No Confidence" in the US Dollar

Guys, if you have to sell dollars, I suggest you do so tomorrow morning. The US Dollar just got a vote of no confidence on the international market, through the accidentally (not sure it was accidental, but that's what the article said) leaked meeting of the OPEC leaders:

They said Opec should formally express its concern about the weakness of the dollar when the cartel makes its official declaration at the close of the summit today. But the Saudis, the world's largest oil producers and de facto head of Opec, vetoed the proposal. Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, warned that even the mere mention to journalists of the fact that leaders were discussing the weak dollar would cause the US currency to plummet.

Unfortunately his words and those of everyone at the meeting were being broadcast via a live television feed to a group of astonished reporters.



green mint tea

green mint tea

I conquered the table

I conquered the table

Wednesday, November 14

deadlock party

The deadlock party is a programmer-specific celebration that occurs sporadically, whenever programmers have to solve a deadlock bug ... past eight o'clock in the evening.

Let us see how the Deadlock Party is celebrated:

I'm in office, drinking mint tea (no sugar) and debugging some stuff, at close to eleven PM. I have around 30 meters of cable (I exaggerate a bit, but I think it would be at least between five and ten meters) on my desk connected to all kinds of USB hubs, monsters, a custom machine, seven mobile phones (one of which mine), lots of papers under everything, a small laptop (closed) and - of course, my tea.

I'm currently recompiling the application to rerun with some added diagnostics code, in the hope this will cast some light over what's happening; I'm looking for the source of a deadlock.

For my programmaticaly-challenged friends out there, a deadlock occurs when a part of a program is waiting for another part to do something while the second part is waiting for the first part to do something; as a conclusion, the application stops responding.

Wish me luck at my deadlock party :)

Tuesday, November 13

What I really wanted to say ...

... is you should believe in God. Not only that, but it is my duty to convert you, because I'm sort-of unable to respect your beliefs, unless they're the same as mine.

... or something like that.

What is this about? I found an entry on wikihow about ways to convert your friends to Christianity, in an overt way. The list sounds mainly nice, but it ignores a few details, like ... I don't know ... teaching you to be hypocritical with your friends and hide your intentions in the name of spirituality?

How about a number 6 on that list, something about the lines of:
Focus on being honest with your peers and actually tell them you're not interested in their values at all unless you can demolish them and replace them with yours?

How about a number 7, stemming from the Kalam Cosmological Argument (suggested by the wikihow entry): If indeed everything has a cause (the first premise of the argument) then God must have a cause also. If God exists, what makes him/her do so?

How about ... I'll stop here. I don't want to make (much) fun of such a list, but the temptation is there and it's almost too easy :).

As a side note, on my way to Turkey, on the ferry, I've had the dubious pleasure to chat with a Muslim young man, who kept insisting he would convert me to Islam; He was pushy, intrusive and after a while, tiring.

For anyone inconsiderate enough to actually do that to their friends, don't worry: they won't be your friends for long.

downright scarry

Saturday, November 10

quote of the day

For some reason, this quote strikes me as relevant for me, for today:
If you're going to walk in the rain, you might as well dance.

I have no idea who said it and I have no idea why I feel it's relevant for today.

Friday, November 9

python and large numbers

Well ... I was getting bored ten minutes ago, and I wanted to see if python supports large numbers. So, I created a method that would generate a prime number at every iteration, ran it twenty times, and I got this:

9134 [lots of digits removed as per Mrs. Anonymous request; to see the full number, run the python code, below] 4420807

So ... can anyone tell me if it's really a prime number?

Logically, it should be; This is the code:

primes = [1]

def some_prime():
candidate = 1
for i in primes:
candidate *= i
candidate += 1

for i in range(1, 20): some_prime()
print primes[len(primes)-1]

Thanks :)

Thursday, November 8

there's hope for you yet

I was preparing a post about George Orwell and the way the US fit his "Nineteen eighty-four" book. Then, I saw one of the main candidates for their elections next year, attack most of what the current US presidency stands for.

My first impulse was to say "hey, Americans, vote for him!". Then, I figured that his speech might be just ... capitalizing on inside information that Bush is going down, fast; or, it might be an attempt to rally those that oppose the current foreign politics of the White House (without any inside information, that is), or something I haven't thought about (including simply the way he thinks - to give a politician, the benefit of the doubt).

Whatever it is though, it's scary how he said so many things that have been on my mind lately, in his speech/attack, including the reference to Orwell...

Wednesday, November 7

some changes

There have been some changes ...

My motorbike is no longer dirty (it rained) and my room is no longer messy either (I cleaned it up).

I got an external monitor for my laptop, and external keyboard and mouse; I also started practicing Reiki and (at least trying to) meditate every once in a while; I think it comes from that directed meditation session (more like hypnosis really) that I started listening to, every night. I like the effects.

B left Cyprus for good last night; We went for a beer on Monday evening, and chatted a bit last night also, but not enough ...

Now, I'm in office, ready to go home - It's almost 8 PM and I'm not a workoholic; really, I'm not.

Sunday, November 4

food for thought

Edit: After seeing this, I read the youtube comments on it, and found a link to Zeitgeist, the movie (of which apparently, this clip is a part of). The movie is also apparently available for viewing online.