Up next: PADI master diver

A year or so after my PADI rescue, my diving club has convinced me to wake up about twelve times early in the morning on Saturday, to get me trained to become a PADI master diver.

The jokers in my club told me it’s not so hard as PADI Rescue training. The only hard part is Saturday morning. We’ll see, I wonder. heh.

Oh, and to our security services: well done catching those guys from Molenbeek and Vorst. Good job!

Oh, I got invited to NLGG to talk about Tracker in Utrecht tomorrow.

RE: President Obama benadrukt noodzaak van een encryptie-backdoor

‘t ga hier over

We leggen in België al behoorlijk wat verantwoordelijkheid over onze bezittingen bij de notaris. Hij maakte de eigendomsakte van uw huis op, over de erfdienstbaarheid van uw grond, uw aandelen en de oprichtingsakte van uw bedrijf. Hij regelt ook de erfenis. Dat loopt hier vrij goed. Het zal wel eens af en toe mislopen, maar niet vaak. Volgens mij is dat omdat de deontologische code van het notariaat in België redelijk streng is. Je wordt ook niet zomaar notaris. De opleiding en examens ervoor blijken vrij moeilijk te zijn.

Allereerst zolang er geen nood is moet men niets doen. Want ik zie niet meteen een echte noodzaak om alle mensen hun elektronica te kunnen kraken. Dat was vroeger niet nodig; vandaag zijn er niet meer of minder gevaarlijke gekken en elektronica voegt maar weinig toe aan hun wapenarsenaal. Dus is dat nu niet nodig.

Maar om den Obama toch wat te helpen met de oprichting van z’n surveillancestaat, waarbij iPhones moeten kunnen gedecrypteerd worden door de overheid, zou ik een systeem of concept waarbij een soort van master key fysiek opgeslagen wordt bij de notaris willen voorstellen (je hebt dus eerst een deftig notariaat nodig, maar dat hebben we al).

De notaris krijgt een deontologische code die er op neerkomt dat hij of zij de proportionaliteit moet onderzoeken wanneer overheidsdiensten een afdruk van die master key opvragen. De afdruk van die key zou zo kunnen voorzien worden dat enkel bepaalde documenten er mee gedecrypteerd kunnen worden, i.p.v. alles.

De burger die zijn eigen keys verliest kan dan tegen een typisch notaristarief een nieuwe key laten maken a.d.h.v. de bij de notaris aanwezige key. Ik zou de overheid dat tarief ook laten betalen. Anders willen de notarissen die bevoegdheid waarschijnlijk niet (en zo’n proportionaliteitsonderzoek vraagt juridische kennis en tijd: de twee kostbaarste dingen in het leven van de notaris).

Ik denk wel dat onze cryptografen zoiets in elkaar kunnen steken.

Ge moet het vooral allemaal niet te moeilijk of complex maken: geen (extra) backdoors in de software of hardware want dan zit overmorgen de overheid van ieder land, en een hele bende criminelen ook, in al onze politici en bedrijfsleiders hun Facebook-doorgeef-luik, ik bedoel hun smartphone en tablets. Het is nu al erg genoeg wat ze er zelf achteloos en publiek op neerkwakken (terwijl velen, zeer naief, denken dat het allemaal privé is wat er in die Cloud rotzooi gebeurt).

Ik heb nog eens m’n steentje bijgedrage

Heb dit geyoutubed gisterenavond toen m’n duikclub was komen vlees op een rooster en gloeiende koolen verbranden. Oh met den Hans Teeuwen en de Theo Maassen zijn we ook aan’t lachen geweest. Na één uur de Geubels vond ik dat we ook eens andere komieken moeten laten zien aan de wereld. Duikers zijn een leutige bende. Een beetje zoals ons, neurdjes. Ik raad alle andere computermannekens aan om ook te gaan duiken. Toffe mensen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yi1XwrPwz1k

Dit is niet de eerste keer dat ik dit filmpje blog. Maar ik zou graag meer Astronomers willen tegenkomen zodat we misschien effectief die planeet hier kunnen opkopen. En dan een gigantisch ruimteschip maken. Samen! Brand new world order 2.0. Or, shut the fuck up.

Daarnet nog een goed idee besproken met diene dat is blijven crashen. Ik wil hier in Rillaar toch ooit eens een zwembad zetten. Misschien moet ik er ééntje maken in de vorm van een schotel? Dan kunnen de duikers bij mij komen oefenen.

Hey guys

Have you guys stopped debating systemd like a bunch of morons already? Because I’ve been keeping myself away from the debate a bit: the amount of idiot was just too large for my mind.People who know me also know that quite a bit of idiot fits into it.

I remember when I was younger, somewhere in the beginning of the century, that we first debated ORBit-2, then Bonobo, then software foolishly written with it like Evolution, Mono (and the idea of rewriting Evolution in C#. But first we needed a development environment MonoDevelop to write it in – oh the gnomes). XFree86 and then the X.Org fork. Then Scaffolding and Anjuta. Beagle and Tracker (oh the gnomes). Rhythmbox versus Banshee (oh the gnomes). Desktop settings in gconf, then all sorts of gnome services, then having a shared mainloop implementation with Qt.

Then god knows what. Dconf, udev, gio, hal, FS monitoring: a lot of things that were silently but actually often bigger impact changes than systemd is because much much more real code had to be rewritten, not just badly written init.d-scripts. The Linux eco-system has reinvented itself several times without most people having noticed it.

Then finally D-Bus came. And yes, evil Lennart was there too. He was also one of those young guys working on stuff. I think evil evil pulseaudio by that time (thank god Lennart replaced the old utter crap we had with it). You know, working on stuff.

D-Bus’s debate began a bit like systemd’s debate: Everybody had feelings about their own IPC system being better because of this and that (most of which where really bad copies of xmms’s remote control infrastructure). It turned out that KDE got it mostly right with DCOP, so D-Bus copied a lot from it. It also opened a lot of IPC author’s eyes that message based IPC, uniform activation of services, introspection and a uniform way of defining the interface are all goddamned important things. Also other things, like tools for monitoring and debugging plus libraries for all goddamn popular programming environments and most importantly for IPC their mainloops, appeared to be really important. The uniformity between Qt/KDE and Gtk+/GNOME application’s IPC systems was quite a nice thing and a real enabler: suddenly the two worlds’ softwares could talk with each other. Without it, Tracker could not have happened on the N900 and N9. Or how do you think qt/qsparql talks with it?

Nowadays everybody who isn’t insane or has a really, really, really good reason (like awesome latency or something, although kdbus solves that too), and with exception of all Belgian Linux programmers (who for inexplicable reasons all want their own personal IPC – and then endlessly work on bridges to all other Belgian Linux programmer’s IPC systems), won’t write his own IPC system. They’ll just use D-Bus and get it over with (or they initially bridge to D-Bus, and refactor their own code away over time).

But anyway.

The D-Bus debate was among software developers. And sometimes teh morons joined. But they didn’t understand what the heck we where doing. It was easy to just keep the debate mostly technical. Besides, we had some (for them) really difficult to understand stuff to reply like “you have file descriptor passing for that”, “study it and come back”. Those who came back are now all expert D-Bus users (I btw think and/or remember that evil Lennart worked on FD passing in D-Bus).

Good times. Lot’s of debates.

But the systemd debate, not the software, the debate, is only moron.

Recently I’ve seen some people actually looking into it and learning it. And then reporting about what they learned. That’s not really moron of course. But then their blogs get morons in the comments. Morons all over the place.

Why aren’t they on their fantastic *BSD or Devuan or something already?

ps. Lennart, if you read this (I don’t think so): I don’t think you are evil. You’re super nice and fluffy. Thanks for all the fish!

De dierentuin: geboortebeperking versus slachten

Michel Vandenbosch versus Dirk Draulans: ben ooit zo’n 15 jaar vegetariër geweest om vandaag tevreden te zijn over dit goed voorbereid en mooi gebalanceerd debat. Mijn dank aan de redactie van Terzake.

Ik was het eens met beide heren. Daarom was dit een waardig filosofische discussie: geboortebeperking versus het aan de leeuwen voeden van overbodige dieren plus het nut en de zin van goed gerunde dierenparken. Dat nut is me duidelijk: educatie voor de dwaze mens (z’n kinders, in de hoop dat de opvolging minder dwaas zal zijn)

Hoewel ik het eens was met beide ben ik momenteel zelf meer voor het aan de leeuwen voeden van overbodige dieren dan dat ik voor geboortebeperking van wel of niet bedreigde diersoorten ben. Dat leek me, met groot respect voor Vandenbosch’s, Draulans’ standpunt te zijn. Ethisch snapte ik Vandenbosch ook: is het niet beter om aan geboortebeperking te doen teneinde het leed van een slachting te vermijden?

Ik kies voor het standpunt van Draulans omdat dit het meeste de echte wereld nabootst. Ik vind het ook zeer goed dat het dierenpark de slachting van de giraffe aan de kinderen toonde. Want dit is de werkelijkheid. Onze kinderen moeten de werkelijkheid zien. We moeten met ons verstand de werkelijkheid nabootsen. Geen eufemisme zoals het doden van een giraffe een euthanasie noemen. Laten we onze kinders opvoeden met de werkelijkheid.

Maalwarkstrodon

It’s a mythical beast that speaks in pornographic subplots and maintains direct communication with your girlfriends every wants and desires so as better to inform you on how to best please her. It has the feet of bonzi buddy, the torso of that man who uses 1 weird trick to perfect his abs, and the arms of the scientists that hate her. Most impressively, Maalwarkstrodon has a skull made from a Viagra, Levitra, Cialis, and Propecia alloy. This beast of malware belches sexy singles from former east-bloc soviet satellite states and is cloaked in the finest fashions from paris and milan, imported directly from Fujian china.

Maalwarkstrodon is incapable of offering any less than the best deals at 80% to 90% off, and will not rest until your 2 million dollar per month work-at-home career comes to fruition and the spoils of all true nigerian royalty are delivered unto those most deserving of a kings riches.

Maalwarkstrodon will also win the malware arms race.

De monarchie van’t land

Ik ben niet noodzakelijk voorstander van de of een monarchie. Maar wanneer het goed is, is het goed. De redacteurs van de VRT hebben zeker moeite gedaan een positief beeld te schetsen in Koppen. Maar zelfs moest ik moeite doen negatief te zijn, kan ik niets slechts vinden in het beeld dat men vandaag van koning Filip schetste. Ik ben tevreden dat iemand met zorg en zorgzaamheid met België en de Belgen bezig is.

Rusland

De cultuur die heerst, leeft,  ploert en zweet op het grondgebied van Rusland zal niet verdwijnen. Zelfs niet na een nucleaire aanval tenzij die echt verschrikkelijk wreedaardig is. En dan zou ik ons verdommen dat we dat gedaan hebben zoals ik hoor te doen. Wij, Europeanen, moeten daar mee leven zoals zij met ons moeten leven.

Zürichsee

Today after I brought Tinne to the airport I drove around Zürichsee. She can’t stay in Switzerland the entire month; she has to go back to school on Monday.

While driving on the Seestrasse I started counting luxury cars. After I reached two for Lamborgini and three for Ferrari I started thinking: Zimmerberg Sihltal and Pfannenstiel must be expensive districts tooAnd yes, they are.

I was lucky today that it was nice weather. But wow, what a nice view on the mountain tops when you look south over Zürichsee. People from Zürich, you guys are so lucky! Such immense calming feeling the view gives me! For me, it beats sauna. And I’m a real sauna fan.

I’m thinking to check it out south of Zürich. But not the canton. I think the house prices are just exaggerated high in the canton of Zürich. I was thinking Sankt Gallen, Toggenburg. I’ve never been there; I’ll check it out tomorrow.

Hmmr, meteoswiss gives rain for tomorrow. Doesn’t matter.

Actually, when I came back from the airport the first thing I really did was fix coping with property changes in ontologies for Tracker. Yesterday it wasn’t my day, I think. I couldn’t find this damn problem in my code! And in the evening I lost three chess games in a row against Tinne. That’s really a bad score for me. Maybe after two weeks of playing chess almost every evening, she got better than me? Hmmrr, that’s a troubling idea.

Anyway, so when I got back from the airport I couldn’t resist beating the code problem that I didn’t find on Friday. I found it! It works!

I guess I’m both a dreamer and a realist programmer. But don’t tell my customers that I’m such a dreamer.

Bern, an idyllic capital city

Today Tinne and I visited Switzerland’s capital, Bern.

We were really surprised; we’d never imagined that a capital city could offer so much peace and calm. It felt good to be there.

The fountains, the old houses, the river and the snowy mountain peaks give the city an idyllic image.

Standing on the bridge, you see the roofs of all these lovely small houses.

The bear is the symbol of Bern. Near the House of Parliament there was this statue of a bear. Tinne just couldn’t resist to give it a hug. Bern has also got real bears. Unfortunately, Tinne was not allowed to cuddle those bears.

The House of Parliament is a truly impressive building. It looks over the snowy mountains, its people and its treasury, the National Bank of Switzerland.


As you can imagine, the National Bank building is a master piece as well. And even more impressive; it issues a world leading currency.

On the market square in Oerlikon we first saw this chess board on the street; black and white stones and giant chess pieces. In Bern there was also a giant chess board in the backyard of the House of Parliament. Tinne couldn’t resist to challenge me for a game of chess. (*edit*, Armin noted in a comment that the initial position of knight and bishop are swapped. And OMG, he’s right!)

And she won!

At the House of Parliament you get a stunning, idyllic view on the mountains of Switzerland.


Utilitarianism

Introduction

In a discussion some concluded that technology X is ‘more tied to GNOME’ than technology Y because ‘more [GNOME] people are helped by X’ due to dependencies for Y. Dependencies that might be unacceptable for some people.

This smells like utilitarianism and therefore it’s subject to criticism.

Utilitarianism is probably best described by Jeremy Bentham as:

Ethics at large may be defined, the art of directing men’s actions to the production of the greatest possible quantity of happiness.

— Bentham, Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation

A situational example that, in my opinion, falsifies this:

You are standing near the handle of a railroad switch. Six people are attached to the rails. Five of them at one side of the switch, one at the other side of the switch. Currently the handle is set in such a way that five people will be killed. A train is coming. There’s no time to get help.

  • Is it immoral to use the handle and kill one person but save five others?
  • Is it immoral not to use the handle and let five people get killed?

The utilitarianist chooses the first option, right? He must direct his actions to the production of the greatest possible quantity of happiness.

Body of the discussion

Now imagine that you have to throw a person on the rails to save the lives of five others. The person would instantly get killed but the five others would be saved by you sacrificing one other.

A true utilitarianist would pick the first option in both exercises; he would use the handle and he would throw a person on the rails. In both cases he believes his total value of produced happiness is (+3) and he believes that in both situations picking the second option means his total value of produced happiness is (-4) + (+1) = (-3). The person who picks the second option is therefore considered ethically immoral by a true utilitarianist.

For most people that’s not what they meant the first time. Apparently ethics don’t allow you to always say (+4) + (-1) = (+3) about happiness. I’ll explain.

The essence of the discussion

Psychologically, less people will believe that throwing a person on the rails is morally the right thing to do. When we can impersonificate we make it more easy for our brains to handle such a decision. Ethically and morally the situation is the same. People feel filthy when they need to physically touch a person in a way that’ll get him killed. A handle makes it more easy to kill him.

Let’s get back to the Gnome technology discussion … If you consider pure utilitarianism as most ethical, then you should immediately stop developing for GNOME and start working at Microsoft: writing good Windows software at Microsoft would produce a greater possible quantity of happiness.

Please also consider reading criticism and defence of utilitarianism at wikipedia. Wikipedia is not necessarily a good source, but do click on some links on the page and you’ll find some reliable information.

Some scientists claim that we have a moral instinct, which is apparently programmed by our genes into our brains. I too believe that genetics probably explain why we have a moral system.

The developer of X built his case as following: My technology only promotes happiness. The technology doesn’t promote unhappiness.

It was a good attempt but there are multiple fallacies in his defense.

Firstly, in a similar way doesn’t technology Y promote unhappiness either. If this is assumed about X, neither promote unhappiness.

Secondly, how does the developer of X know that his technology promotes no unhappiness at all? Y also promotes some unhappiness and I don’t have to claim that it doesn’t. That’s a silly assumption.

Thirdly, let’s learn by example: downplaying the amount of unhappiness happens to be the exact same thing regimes having control over their media also did whenever they executed military action. The act of downplaying the amount of unhappiness should create a reason for the spectator to question it.

Finally, my opinion is that the very act of claiming that ‘X is more tied to GNOME’, will create unhappiness among the supporters of Y. Making the railroad example applicable anyway.

My conclusion and the reason for writing this

‘More’ and ‘less’ happiness doesn’t mean a lot if both are incommensurable. Valuations like “more tied to GNOME” and “less tied to GNOME” aren’t meaningful to me. That’s because I’m not a utilitarianist. I even believe that pure utilitarianism is dangerous for our species.

To conclude I think we should prevent that the GNOME philosophy is damaged by too much utilitarianism.