2007-09-10 00:55:15

When portability is not an issue

Onitake, a MacOS X user from Chaostreff Basel, has recently sent in a bug report to the authors of curl-loader, a HTTP load generator.

In this bug report, Onitake complains about the lack of portability in curl, which uses the glibc<2.4-only feature of a definition of PAGE_SIZE in a system header named <asm/page.h>. The POSIX base specification issue 6 (xpg6) defines a portable interface named sysconf to access system information such as the page size. Additionally, the definition was removed from <asm/page.h> in recent versions of the GNU libc, making this definition a no-go for the future.

In this light, the response of the developers seems even more blatant:

 1. When asm/page.g is not defined there is a custom definition of

 2. We do not care about neither non-linux platforms, nor about POSIX.

 Thanks, however, for your caring and attention.
 Robert Iakobashvili

A candidate for is-broken.ch?

Posted by Tonnerre Lombard | Permanent link | File under: programming, standards

2007-09-01 18:16:21

Media coverage on OOXML proceedings (2)

More details about tricks in processing the standard proposal of OOXML (ISO/IEC DIS 29500) have come to attention of several news agencies. The swedish technical newspaper «Ny Teknik» reports that Microsoft admits to have subverted the vote in Sweden. Netzpolitik.org even writes about selling out votes and done deals in the swedish standardization process.

Groklaw has a whole collection about articles: Norway and OOXML, Sweden's new abstention and France still looking for consensus in the actual vote.

Another source of lots of news is ZDnet. They interviewed Georg Greve of the Free Software Foundation, and have a summary of all technical problems with the standard. In their conclusion they give the standard bad marks.

The progressive swiss german news paper WOZ Die Wochzeitung has an article summarizing the problems with OOXML and the procedural issues that have been raised by independent experts. Similarly, the german Computerwoche reports about the manipulations.

Even the Wall Street Journal has discovered the issue and is reporting on the committee stuffing and about Microsoft accusations against IBM to be the driving force behind ODF.

With all these interesting news, we all are looking forward to the ISO decision.

Posted by Tonnerre Lombard | Permanent link | File under: news, standards

2007-08-28 23:48:50

Anne-Louise Germaine

Anne-Louise Germaine, also known as «Mme. de Staël, was a philosophically engaged swiss noble in the 18th/19th century.

A famous statement of Mme. de Staël is this one:
La tristesse fait pénétrer bien plus avant dans le charactère et la destinée de l'homme, que toute autre disposition de l'homme.

I think that from a biologist's point of view, this statement surely can't be discarded easily, because one of the first things babies learn is unhappiness. However, I don't think that happiness is the same as, or even related to, sadness. It is more a state of being discontent, and thus should probably be named adequately. Happiness and containedness is not the same thing, not at all. Containedness means that a being has successfully fulfilled all of its desires and doesn't have any immediate desire at the point in time. This mostly occurrs paired with being busy with hobbies.

True sadness, however, is not related to being unhappy, or «discontained». It is also possible that a lot of people have not yet been truly sad. For one, I don't think I have.

True sadness is the state that is being reached when losing someone or something really important. And by really important I don't mean important for the fulfillment of everyday's needs, required for reaching a state of containedness. Losing «just» a boyfriend or girlfriend is nothing that could probably cause sadness. It caused unhappiness, unrest, and the demand for replacement. (Which could possibly serve as an adequate definition of unhappiness.)

True sadness is experienced when losing someone who has been part of your life for so long as to shape it significantly. This, in my opinion, constitutes a significant loss. Most boy- and girlfriends don't really shape one's life all that much; in fact we ignore the requirement to let them shape us so we can love them at all. True love is not possible with someone who would not constitute a significant loss.

Melancholy is a related subject, because it is entirely different. It appears to be a state where people don't expect too much from each other. While most people regard it as a bad state which makes people «sad», I think it is a significant, beautiful state of mind. Melancholy allows people to reduce the perception of their own needs, and to see that of the needs of other people. It is not a disease to disrespect the requirement to be contained which is imposed on us by the modern society (or the Major Consensus Narrative), but a gift. Melancholy does not necessary have to lead to depression, it can also lead to great pleasure and happiness.

Probably the most impressive quotation of Mme. de Staë is the following:
Le seul systême vrai pour éviter la douleur, c'est de ne diriger sa vie que d'aprês ce qu'on peut faire pour les autres, mais non d'aprês ce qu'on attend d'eux.

This is a thought that I realized is also a very important leading idea of my own life. I think that one of the most important rules of diplomacy is also true for any other type of interaction involving sentient beings: it is ill advised to expect others to do something specific. Thus, it is also ill-advised to do something for others expecting a reward for this.

One has to realize that a lot of favors are only done because some type of reward is expected for this. But unless the reward is immediate, it is not likely to happen (Or, for that matter, to be really a reward. Most of the time a «perceived reward» is received for something, it is indeed a favor done because something else, something immediate, is desired. It is important to realize that at least humans always want something.

Thus, it is not really interesting how much people do for each other, but it is indeed much more interesting to look for things that you can do for others without catching yourself trying it for a reward. I invite you to go out and do people a favor, not doing it because one expects them to be a good partner, because one expects money, or because one even expects a smile or a «thank you». You might be deceived.

Just do something that you know will help other people, ignoring completely the fact that they might show a reaction. Expect them to walk on by, not even blinking at you. Don't prejudge them to do this, but don't expect anything.

Once you've reached a level where giving people this kind of favor makes you glad, you have understood the true spirit of this statement.

Posted by Tonnerre Lombard | Permanent link | File under: suisses

2007-08-22 07:37:35

UDC campaign condemned as "racist"

According to the «Radio Suisse-Romande» (RSR), the billboard advertisements from UDC, advertising a safer Switzerland, now have to be removed at least in the canton Geneva. RSR reports that geneva authorities have declared the picture, showing two white sheep kicking a black sheep off red ground with a white cross, symbolizing Switzerland, to be racist.

Posted by Tonnerre Lombard | Permanent link | File under: news, politics

2007-08-21 20:42:35

Media coverage on OOXML proceedings in Switzerland

A couple of days before the official voting deadline, the media are starting to report about some conflicts thrown up in the proceedings. Heise has an article mentioning the accusation of bias raised against the chairman of the committee responsible for evaluation of the standard. The article further refers to an appeal raised against the proceedings in the meeting by the Swiss Internet User Group.

Another (short) article has been published on Symlink. This article also refers to objections raised against a possible conflict of interests of the chairman, and also mentions a second appeal against the proceedings in standardization of OOXML of the Free Software Foundation Europe.

Posted by Tonnerre Lombard | Permanent link | File under: news, standards