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!

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.

nrl:maxCardinality one-to-many ontology changes

I added support for changing the nrl:maxCardinality property of an rdfs:Property from one to many. Earlier Martyn Russel reverted such an ontology change as this was a blocker for the Debian packaging by Michael Biebl.

We only support going from one to many. That’s because going from many to one would obviously imply data-loss (a string-list could work with CSV, but an int-list can’t be stored as CSV in a single-value int type – instead of trying to support nonsense I decided to just not do it at all).

More supported ontology changes can be found here.

Not sure if people care but this stuff was made while listening to Infected Mushroom.

Bescherm ons tegen afluisteren, luister zelf enkel binnen een wettelijk kader af

De overheid hoort onze burgers te beschermen tegen afluisteren, de overheid kan en mag zelf afluisteren maar kan en mag dit enkel binnen een wettelijk kader doen.

Allerlei zaken tonen aan dat overheden binnen de NAVO alliantie ons land aanvallen met digitale inbraken. Het baart me zorgen.

Technisch betekent dit voor mij dat ons land moet investeren in beveiliging van systemen. Hier hoort kennis en controle over hardware en software op diep niveau bij.

Ik hoop dat Pieter De Crem niet enkel in straaljagers maar ook in het beveiligen van ‘s lands computersystemen investeert.

Dat betekent voor mij kennis en controle op het niveau van de bootloader, de kernel en de hardware. De systemen van de overheid bevatten immers bijzonder veel gegevens van de burger. De systemen van het leger geven dan weer informatie en toegang tot apparatuur die de beveiliging en de vrede van het land garandeert.

Wat betreft de kernel moet een recruit het boek van Robert Love de dagen voor het sollicitatiegesprek doornemen. Hij of zij moet met het Internet als hulp een kernel module kunnen maken. Dat is een minimum.

Een goede technische test zou zijn om een eigen rootkit kernel module te schrijven gedurende de dagen dat het sollicitatiegesprek plaatsvindt (ja, dagen). Hierbij zouden enkele doelstellingen kunnen opgesteld worden: Bv. het verbergen van de .ko file op het filesysteem die eerder met insmod ingeladen werd, het kopiëren van alle uitgaande TCP/IP data naar een verborgen stuk hardware, en zo verder.

Dit laatste zonder veel van het geheugen van de host te verbruiken daar het verborgen stuk HW vermoedelijk trager zal zijn dan de normale netwerk interface (de eth0 t.o.v. bv. 3G). Een oplossing zou kunnen zijn te filteren gecombineerd met af en toe wat packet loss te veroorzaken door verborgen netif_stop_queue en netif_wake_queue calls op de normale netwerk interface te doen. Misschien heeft de recruit wel betere ideeën die moeilijk of niet gedetecteerd kunnen worden? Ik hoop het!

De recruit moet een manier voorzien (die niet vanzelfsprekend is) om commando’s te ontvangen (liefst eentje die moeilijk gedetecteerd kan worden). Misschien het gebruik maken van radio op zo’n manier dat het moeilijk te detecteren is? Ik ben benieuwd.

Hoe meer van dat soort doelstellingen gehaald worden, hoe geschikter de kandidaat.

Wat betreft userland moet een recruit gegeven een stuk code waar een typische bufferoverflow fout in zit die bufferoverflow herkennen. Maar gun uw recruit de tijd en een ontspannen sfeer want onder stress zien enkel de gelukzakken af en toe eens zoiets. Het reviewen van (goede) code is nl. iets dat vele jaren ervaring vraagt (slechte code is eenvoudiger, maar over de slechte code van de wereld, zoals dnsmasq, gaan de hedendaagse security problemen niet. Wel over bv. OpenSSL en Bash).

De daarop volgende vraag zou kunnen zijn om door middel van die bufferoverflow ingevoerde code uit te laten voeren. Dit mag met behulp van het Internet om alle antwoorden te vinden. Extra punten wanneer de uitgevoerde code met of zonder netcat de zaak op een TCP/IP poort available maakt.

De dienst zou bv. een socket server kunnen maken dat een bufferoverflow heeft op de buffer die meegegeven wordt met read(). Dat zou zelfs een junior C developer moeten herkennen.

Dit soort van testen zijn nodig omdat enkel zij die technisch weten (en kunnen implementeren) hoe na een inbraak zichzelf te verbergen, geschikt zijn om het land te verdedigen tegen de NSA en de GCHQ.

Ik ben er van overtuigd dat zij die dit kunnen een redelijk goed moreel compas hebben: Mensen met zo’n inzicht hebben capaciteiten. Zulke mensen hebben daardoor vaak ook een goed doordacht moreel compas. Zolang de overheid haar eigen moreel compas volgt, zijn deze mensen bereid hun kunnen voor de overheid in te zetten.

Meneer de kolonel van het leger moet wel beseffen dat de gemiddelde programmeur eigenlijk gewoon technologie wil doorgronden. Dat die technologie toevallig ook voor bommen gebruikt wordt is niet de schuld van de programmeurs. Dat de kolonel zijn communicatie-technologie vol fouten zit wil niet zeggen dat de programmeurs die deze vinden criminelen zijn. Kolonel meneer zou beter tot Thor bidden dat s’ lands programmeurs er eerder achter komen dan de echte vijand erachter komt.

Maar de wet staat boven de militair. Ze moet gevolgd worden. Ook door de inlichtingendiensten. Het is onze enige garantie op een vrije samenleving: ik wil niet werken of geholpen hebben aan een wereld waarin de burger door technologie vrijheden zoals privacy verliest.

Met vriendelijke groeten,

Philip. Programmeur.

RE: Scudraketten

Wanneer Isabel Albers iets schrijft ben ik aandachtig. Misschien ben ik verliefd? Misschien is ze een verstandige vrouw? Niettemin doe ik moeite me te ontdoen van m’n eigen grote waarheden. Één blijft overeind: wij moeten investeren in infrastructuur.

Dit creëert welvaart, distribueert efficiënt het geld en investeert in onze kinderen hun toekomst: iets wat nodig is; en waar we voor staan.

De besparingsinspanningen kunnen we beperken wat betreft investeringen in infrastructuur; we moeten ze des te meer doorvoeren wat betreft andere overheidsuitgaven.

Misschien moeten we bepaalde scudraketten lanceren? Een scudraket op de overheidsomvang zou geen slecht doen.

Een week mediastorm meemaken over hoe hard we snoeien in bepaalde overheidssectoren: laten we dat hard en ten gronde doen.

Laten we tegelijk investeren in de Belgische infrastructuur. Laten we veel investeren.

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.

Mr. Dillon; smartphone innovation in Europe ought to be about people’s privacy

Dear Mark,

Your team and you yourself are working on the Jolla Phone. I’m sure that you guys are doing a great job and although I think you’ve been generating hype and vaporware until we can actually buy the damn thing, I entrust you with leading them.

As their leader you should, I would like to, allow them to provide us with all of the device’s source code and build environments of their projects so that we can have the exact same binaries. With exactly the same I mean that it should be possible to use MD5 checksums. I’m sure you know what that means and you and I know that your team knows how to provide geeks like me with this. I worked with some of them together during Nokia’s Harmattan and Fremantle and we both know that you can easily identify who can make this happen.

The reason why is simple: I want Europe to develop a secure phone similar to how, among other open source projects, the Linux kernel can be trusted. By peer review of the source code.

Kind regards,

A former Harmattan developer who worked on a component of the Nokia N9 that stores the vast majority of user’s privacy.

ps. I also think that you should reunite Europe’s finest software developers and secure the funds to make this workable. But that’s another discussion which I’m eager to help you with.

A use-case for SPARQL and Nepomuk

As I got contacted by two different companies last few days who both had questions about integrating Tracker into their device, I started thinking that perhaps I should illustrate what Tracker can already do today.

I’m going to make a demo for the public transportation industry in combination with contacts and places of interest. Tracker’s ontologies cross many domains, of course (this is just an example).

I agree that in principle what I’m showing here isn’t rocket science. You can do this with almost any database technology. What is interesting is that as soon as many domains start sharing the ontology and store their data in a shared way, interesting queries and use-cases are made possible.

So let’s first insert a place of interest: the Pizza Hut in Nossegem

tracker-sparql -uq "
INSERT { _:1 a nco:PostalAddress ; nco:country 'Belgium';
               nco:streetAddress 'Weiveldlaan 259 Zaventem' ;
               nco:postalcode '1930' .
        _:2 a slo:Landmark; nie:title 'Pizza Hut Nossegem';
              slo:location [ a slo:GeoLocation;
                  slo:latitude '50.869949'; slo:longitude '4.490477';
                  slo:postalAddress _:1 ];
              slo:belongsToCategory slo:predefined-landmark-category-food-beverage  }"

And let’s add some busstops:

tracker-sparql -uq "
INSERT { _:1 a nco:PostalAddress ; nco:country 'Belgium';
               nco:streetAddress 'Leuvensesteenweg 544 Zaventem' ;
               nco:postalcode '1930' .
         _:2 a slo:Landmark; nie:title 'Busstop Sint-Martinusweg';
               slo:location [ a slo:GeoLocation;
                   slo:latitude '50.87523'; slo:longitude '4.49426';
                   slo:postalAddress _:1 ];
               slo:belongsToCategory slo:predefined-landmark-category-transport  }"
tracker-sparql -uq "
INSERT  { _:1 a nco:PostalAddress ; nco:country 'Belgium';
                nco:streetAddress 'Leuvensesteenweg 550 Zaventem' ;
                nco:postalcode '1930' .
          _:2 a slo:Landmark; nie:title 'Busstop Hoge-Wei';
                slo:location [ a slo:GeoLocation;
                    slo:latitude '50.875988'; slo:longitude '4.498208';
                    slo:postalAddress _:1 ];
                slo:belongsToCategory slo:predefined-landmark-category-transport  }"
tracker-sparql -uq "
INSERT  { _:1 a nco:PostalAddress ; nco:country 'Belgium';
                nco:streetAddress 'Guldensporenlei Turnhout' ;
                nco:postalcode '2300' .
          _:2 a slo:Landmark; nie:title 'Busstop Guldensporenlei';
                slo:location [ a slo:GeoLocation;
                    slo:latitude '51.325463'; slo:longitude '4.938047';
                    slo:postalAddress _:1 ];
                slo:belongsToCategory slo:predefined-landmark-category-transport  }"

Let’s now get all the busstops nearby the Pizza Hut in Nossegem:

tracker-sparql -q "
SELECT ?name ?lati ?long WHERE {
   ?p slo:belongsToCategory slo:predefined-landmark-category-food-beverage;
       slo:location [ slo:latitude ?plati; slo:longitude ?plong ] .
   ?b slo:belongsToCategory slo:predefined-landmark-category-transport ;
       slo:location [ slo:latitude ?lati; slo:longitude ?long ] ;
      nie:title ?name .
   FILTER (tracker:cartesian-distance (?lati, ?plati, ?long, ?plong) < 1000)
}"
Results:
  Busstop Sint-Martinusweg, 50.87523, 4.49426
  Busstop Hoge-Wei, 50.875988, 4.498208

This of course was an example with only slo:Landmark. But that slo:location property can be placed on any nie:InformationElement. Meaning that for example a nco:PersonContact can also be involved in such a cartesian-distance query (which is of course just an example).

Let’s make an example use-case: We want contact details of friends (with publicized coordinates) who are nearby a slo:Landmark that is in a food and beverage landmark category, so that the messenger application can prepare a text message window where you’ll type that you want to get together to get lunch at the Pizza Hut.

Ok, so let’s add some nco:PersonContact to our SPARQL endpoint who are nearby the Pizza Hut:

tracker-sparql -uq "
INSERT { _:1 a nco:PersonContact ; nco:fullname 'John Carmack';
               slo:location [ a slo:GeoLocation;
                   slo:latitude '51.325413'; slo:longitude '4.938037' ];
               nco:hasEmailAddress [ a nco:EmailAddress;
                 nco:emailAddress 'john.carmack@somewhere.com'] }"
tracker-sparql -uq "
INSERT { _:1 a nco:PersonContact ; nco:fullname 'Greg Kroah-Hartman';
               slo:location [ a slo:GeoLocation;
                   slo:latitude '51.325453'; slo:longitude '4.938027' ];
               nco:hasEmailAddress [ a nco:EmailAddress;
                 nco:emailAddress 'greg.kroah@somewhere.com'] }"

And let’s add one person who isn’t nearby the Pizza Hut in Nossegem:

tracker-sparql -uq "
INSERT { _:1 a nco:PersonContact ; nco:fullname 'Jean Pierre';
               slo:location [ a slo:GeoLocation;
                   slo:latitude '50.718091'; slo:longitude '4.880134' ];
               nco:hasEmailAddress [ a nco:EmailAddress;
                 nco:emailAddress 'jean.pierre@somewhere.com'] }"

And now, the query:

tracker-sparql -q "
SELECT ?name ?email ?lati ?long WHERE {
   ?p slo:belongsToCategory slo:predefined-landmark-category-food-beverage;
       slo:location [ slo:latitude ?plati; slo:longitude ?plong ] ;
      nie:title ?pname .
   ?b a nco:PersonContact;
        slo:location [ slo:latitude ?lati; slo:longitude ?long ] ;
      nco:fullname ?name ; nco:hasEmailAddress [ nco:emailAddress ?email ].
   FILTER (tracker:cartesian-distance (?lati, ?plati, ?long, ?plong) < 10000)
}"
Results:
  Greg Kroah-Hartman, greg.kroah@somewhere.com, 50.874715, 4.49158
  John Carmack, john.carmack@somewhere.com, 50.874715, 4.49154

These use-cases of course only illustrate the simplified location ontology in combination with the Nepomuk contacts ontology. There are many such domains in Nepomuk and when defining your own platform and/or a new domain on the desktop you can add (your own) ontologies. Mind that for the desktop you should preferably talk to Nepomuk first.

The strength of such a platform is also its weakness: if no information sources put their data into the SPARQL endpoint, no information sink can do queries that’ll yield meaningful results. You of course don’t have this problem in a contained environment where you define what does and what doesn’t get stored and where, like an embedded device.

A desktop like KDE or GNOME shouldn’t have this problem either, if only everybody would agree on the technology and share the ontologies. Which isn’t necessarily happening (fair point), although both KDE with Nepomuk-KDE and GNOME with Tracker share most of Nepomuk.

But indeed; if you don’t store anything in Tracker, it’s useless. That’s why Tracker comes with a file system miner and provides a framework for writing your own miners. The idea is that with time more and more applications will use Tracker, making it increasingly useful. Hopefully.

 

Tumbler

Last few weeks I have been working on the new thumbnail infrastructure for future Maemo products.

Last year I made a specification for requesting thumbnails over D-Bus. Afterward I made a quick prototype and replaced the hildon-thumbnailer library of Maemo with it. This prototype will be deployed on the standard N900 image. It’s too late to replace Fremantle’s thumbnailer with the new stuff. It takes time to properly test it.

While I was developing both the specification and the prototype XFCE developer Jannis Pohlmann contacted me about rewriting my prototype for use in the XFCE project. Tumbler was born.

The nice people at Nokia are more interested in working with upstream projects instead of maintaining own products separately, so I shifted my focus from hildon-thumbnail to contributing to Jannis’ Tumbler project.

We realized that we needed different kinds of schedulers so while Jannis was developing Tumbler I kindly asked to consider abstracting scheduling a bit. Tumbler now has two schedulers. The background one sets I/O and scheduler priorities to IDLE and processes its thumbnail tasks in FIFO order. The foreground uses LIFO and will instead of grouping Ready signals together, emit them immediately after each single thumbnail is finished. Default is of course foreground.

We also realized that thumbnail flavors are going to be platform specific. So we added some support for this in the DBus APIs that we further fine tuned and versioned.

Congratulations and appreciation to Jannis who made Tumbler’s code and design really nice. Also thanks a lot for constructively considering our requirements and helping adapting Tumbler’s code to cope with them.

I know you for example worked one long night on this stuff, so I officially owe you a few beers and/or cocktails next conference.

How about FOSDEM?

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.

Moral indulgence

In the last few days people seemingly implying a descent from superiority of moral highground to me, have called upon me (in private conversations) to decide for my readers if the content that I write is morally acceptable for planet.gnome.org. Their reasoning is that I should feel an implied responsibility for the content of that website.

If I don’t take the responsibility that readers have themselves already, I’m to be considered a coward. That’s because, according to these people, I avoid the moral responsibility to uphold an imaginary highground reputation of the organization behind said website.

It needs no illustration that this is just the opinion of a group within the GNOME community. Not the entire community. Nonetheless this seemingly moral superiority is not to be mistaken with a condescending circus show.

The moral of respect for other opinions is a meme that for the last decades (and I hope in future too) has been a very successful one. I consider this meme to be the most important one humanity ever got convinced of.

Moral superiors do not need to present empirical proof of correctness in their Sophia. The truth of their moral values are unquestionable.

Let’s assume this to be the case: it’s immoral to only assume that your readers will make up their own minds about ideas that appear on websites like planet.gnome.org. Instead, it’s a necessity that each and every author of a blog, from which planet.gnome.org pulls content, is required to have a “responsibility of content”.

I conclude that it isn’t necessary that the audience of that website gets an honest illustration of who we are: human beings who are sometimes geniuses and sometimes idiots.

Instead it’s necessary that we are portrayed as good role models. Concepts such as good and bad are of course defined by the superiors. Those concepts are unquestionable.

Let me be clear that I disagree with this.

I questioned whether only intent can either be good or bad, but that question was refuted as irrelevant. For it’s the beholder who matters. Not the producer.

The reason for this irrelevance being that an audience doesn’t take the responsibility of trying to understand intent. I disagree with this conclusion. I think the audience does understand intent.

I have decided to tag my future posts as “condescending” in case I feel the content might be interpreted as showing superiority. Don’t be surprised if the majority of posts will be tagged as such.

The freedom to choose is morally more important to me than the necessity to mark responsible content. Therefore I ask my audience, and planet maintainers, to decide for themselves.

Mindstorm … s

You buy a bunch of Lego Mindstorms bricks and you start building a robot to remotely control your mobile devices.

Well, that’s the official explanation.

The actual explanation is that this is what happens when you are 26 years of age, your girlfriend tells you you are almost 30 and that when you are 30 it’s the end of your youth (although, people of that age usually tell me this ain’t true), you are a nerd of the type software developer (and quite addicted to this too), you have your own business and therefore your accountant asks to make some expenses (like .. buying a Mindstorms robot! No?).

I acknowledge it’s probably just an early midlife crisis. Boys want to make things, fiddle with stuff, put things together. Whereas girls, girls just wanna have fun. I’m totally guilty of being a boy. I know. (although, I’m sure a lot of girls enjoy making things too — before I get killed by a group of feminists –).

Now that the model itself is finished, I clearly see what I am becoming: an old lonely dude who plays with trains, electricity stuff and mostly breaks things just to put them back together. I’ll probably die getting electrocuted while trying to take apart a by that time old holographic 3D gesture recognizing display, as I’m trying to figure out whether some evil corporation is spying on its customers by using such electronic devices.

But, isn’t that cute? No? I mean, Tinne, seriously, now I must be ‘like’ a younger dude, no? I have been playing with toys for kids aged 11 to 16 (that’s what the Lego box’s age indicator says, so it must be true). Anyway, the only way that it can get worse now, is if I’ll start writing software for this Lego model. I’ll have a camera view on my screen where I can mouse-over so that the robot will follow my mouse pointer. With a library like GStreamer I can let that camera image go efficiently over a distance. Sending some commands over a socket ain’t very hard.

About the bot itself: it has three axis. One (the X one) uses normal wheels, two others (Y and Z) are built on top of the chassis. All axis are controlled by Mindstorms motors. The Mindstorms computer thing is integrated in the model, there’s a touch sensor on one of the axis (the Z one). I don’t yet have this software, that’s the next thing I’ll (try to) finish. I’ve spend ~ 450 euros on this thing (the normal Mindstorms package didn’t have enough bricks, but the programmable thing, the sensors and the motors are ~ 300 euros).

But hey, 450 euros for something that you could give to a little fellow as soon as you are done playing with it? That’s not much for multi functional and multi age toys! I mean, if I get bored of this thing, I can make another robot with it. If you have a son (or a technical minded daughter), you can let him (or her) play with the Lego bricks while watching his (her) brains grow! You can’t convince me that today’s computer games are better for training a kid’s brain than Lego.

After the kid is finished building the bot, you can make the software for it. Hah! Perfect father – son (or daughter) relationship. You actually help him make his toys, and you enjoy doing that! And … he’ll get interested in software development, join one of the many free software communities, he’ll find a job in IT as programmer, etc etc.

Lego rocks!