Waterboarding Hipocracy

Japanese soldiers were jailed for life for waterboarding Americans after WW2. (Via rms)

This historical fact is startling given the current use of waterboarding by the Bush administration.

Big Capitalists Forget What Capitalism Is

Bill Gross, manager of the world’s largest group of bond funds does not know what capitalism is. Price supports and price fixing are part of failed Soviet and Chinese central planning. And as China and Russia embrace capitalism, Bill Gross embraces failed central planning.

Hilarious, until I think about what the consequences of this attitude will be over the next few years.

New FSF Website Design

http://www.fsf.org has been redesigned! yay! :-)

Part Time Study of MA Typeface Design

A recent comment on my Malayalam-speaking software freedom community research post reminded me to make a post here about the status of my studies on the MA Typeface Design program.

As of January I changed the schedule to part time to spend more time at home with my sister, so I am not working actively on my major font development project until September. From now until then, I’m reading a lot of books and the excellent archive of type technology journals at the Department of Typography at Reading, and improving my TeX and Python skills, and - of course - writing my dissertation.

LiveBlogging the FOSDEM 2008 Farsight 2 talk

Farsight from Collabora

Farsight started with aMSN as phillippe kalaf’s final major project. Nokia tablets use farsight; based on Telepathy stream engine; has RTP plugin, yahoo and msn plugins are unmaintained; RTP is used by GoogleTalk and SIP…

1-2-1 audio and video calls, codecs negotiated automatically, Interactive Connection Establishment (ICE) is a new transportation protocol for NAT punching used by GTalk. DTMF support both as events and as sounds.

Farsight 1 can only do 1-2-1 calls, no lip sync, video support was hacked in.

So Farsight 2. high level object that are human understandbale and are easy to use. Interfaces that are standard and then helper libraries for each protocol. RTP is the reference implementation protocol, it does everything and MSN/Yahoo/etc are subsets of it. Its aiming for elegance.

The Codec detection/negotiation and gst elements (DTMF, CN, RTP payloaders) from FS1 are good, the new stuff is the GStreamer rtpmanager: multiparty, lip sync, complete RTP feature set. Multicast is used for LAN multiparty.

High level objects:

Codec, candidate (server), participant (one person, with synchronised streams), session, stream, conference.

Current status is close to FS1. This is a diagram of a 10 way conference. Here’s example python code, and here’s a demo.

Next release next week; FarSight 2.01. Future: Complete RTP implementation with DTMPF, Confort Noise, sRTP for secure encrypted calls, which is big in enterprise, and stabalising things. Then port telepathy to use it, and then integrate it into lots of free clients so they can gain AV capabilities.

Public Domain Images Remain In The Public Domain (USA)

From http://www.utsystem.edu/OGC/INTELLECTUALPROPERTY/cybrscen.htm :

c. A recent case finds that photographs of public domain works that are meant to do no more than faithfully reproduce those works are not protected by copyright. The Bridgeman Art Library, Ltd. v. Corel Corporation, 1998 WL 790917 (S.D.N.Y.). So, if any of her photographs are of public domain works, even if the later published reproductions claim copyright protection, they may nonetheless be reproduced and distributed by anyone without permission.

This is important for the redistribution of photographs of public domain type specimens in the USA.

(Via the most excellent Deborah Taylor-Pearce of ID-Cafe fame)

Print is dying on schedule

The Guardian reports that magazines are dying fast:

ABC’s magazine circulation results for the second half of 2007, out last week, arrive full of blighted hopes and clouded futures. Are young men, oozing testosterone, the key to the future? Not when you see Loaded down 30 per cent in a year, Maxim 40 per cent, and Nuts and Zoo 8.9 per cent and 12.8 per cent off the pace respectively. Boobs and booty seem to be more of a turn-off than turn-on these days. And over in the celebrity gossip enclosure, too, Heat, Now and Closer are all down around 12 per cent (with 5.4 per cent saying Goodbye! to Hello!

(Via Memex)

Emacs 23

Emacs 23 is looking pretty sweet!

emacs looking like an IDE

And interesting to know that it is now scriptable in python :-)

Uncle Sam Hiding Its Shame

The U.S. Department of Commerce has pulled its stats, presumably because they tell the awful truth about the state of the US economy at the moment:

Due to budgetary constraints, the Economic Indicators service (http://www.economicindicators.gov) will be discontinued effective March 1, 2008. Economic Indicators.gov is brought to you by the Economics and Statistics Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Our mission is to provide timely access to the daily releases of key economic indicators from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census Bureau.

(Via Mish, which is a great read :-)

Fear of Internet Banking Fraud Motivates Switching To GNU+Linux

the recent PDF vulnerabilities which were patched only for Adobe Reader 8 and not 7 are being exploited via banner ads. As if there haven’t been enough banner ad attacks this year now we have another one targeting one of the most popular applications in the world this weekend. At this rate there won’t be many safe applications left to use.

I find it kind of funny when people are so close to making that mental “click” that proprietary software is so woefully inadequate it is important to avoid it altogether, but don’t follow the reasoning through to the end.

No proprietary applications are safe to use!

For users of proprietary operating systems like Mac OS X and Windows, the old advice about not running programs from unfamiliar sources is now absurd - there is no fundamental distinction between program code and data - so opening a PDF file can lead to installing rootkits that force adverts on you, spy on you, and even steal from you.

My good friend Ian Forrester recently posted a video of a speaker from Cambridge University describing a rootkit that beggars belief: designed to simply redirect online banking transfers you make in a completely automated fashion.

Those things are out there on the web just waiting for suckers using proprietary software to load them.

Bruce Schnier’s keynote at LCA2008 (ogg video, speex audio :-) talks about the difference between real security and the feeling of security, and how these diverge.

As people increasingly feel that their software can’t be trusted, its more important than ever to suggest that it is because it is proprietary software. Fear has motivated a lot of big social changes in the last few years - and not many good ones - so this shouldn’t be too out of the ordinary but actually lead to a positive social change…

Notes from ATypI

Liveblogging hero Joe Clark did a good job of ATypI last year and here are a couple of highlights:

Three stages of the creative sponge:
  • Collect
  • Catalogue
  • Create

Also, Selling Design

Global Economic Analysis Blog

One has to laugh at the irony of this. The Fed, by attempting to bail out homeowners, has instead hurt the commercial real estate deals. The residential market is long past saving.

This is just the beginning of the unwinding of attitudes towards both consumption and risk.

One to follow; a good read :-)

Matching a Text Corpus to a Bunch Of Fonts With FFPython and Unicode?

This is, I suppose, a “Dear Lazy” kind of question…

Could one use the python scripting of FontForge to:

  1. Load a range of fonts and write out the unicode values of the glyphs contained in the fonts, eg as \u0456 values.
  2. Load a text corpus and write out the unicode values of the charachter in a similar way.
  3. And then compare them to list out the unicode values of glyphs used in the text but missing in the fonts.

? :-)

GNOME Do: Quicksilver for free desktops!

Finally there is a competitive launcher tool for free desktops: GNOME Do. I sorely missed Quicksilver (GPL, which replaced the proprietary Launchbar) when I dumped my Powerbook after I realised how important software freedom is.

All the syncing and backups tools are making the viability of desktop software shared across a set of personal computers (ie, laptop, work computer, home computer) competitive with proprietary webapps, too.

And there’s even a GNU+Linux replacement for TeXShop due pretty soon (although I’m enjoying Emacs at the moment, and its out-of-the-box latex mode is ample) so I nearly have all the powertools I used to love from Mac OS X on a free desktop now.

With new versions of Fedora and Ubuntu (and hopefully gNewSense) due out in April, and all the essential “neat tool” popping up, I think when I finally get paid for my freelance systems administration work I’ll buy a new laptop with 3D desktop support and actually make my assertions that GNU+Linux is more user friendly than Mac OS X demonstrable :-)

(Via FSDaily, via DailyUbuntu)

Jim Gettys Overview of OLPC

A liveblog of one of Jim Gettys recent overviews of OLPC is a nice little read :-)