Saturday, December 30, 2006

A joyful and healthy 2007 to everyone!

My best wishes to all my readers!.

I promise I'll give this blog more attention beginning in '07. Ok, at least I plan to do it. :)

Take care and drive safely...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sun kicks Microsoft's .Net in the teeth and makes history: Java is "Free Software" with GPL license

Sun made history today and ensured the long life of Java by setting it free, releasing it under the Free Software Foundation's GPL license.

You can read my thoughts about the move, over here.

Contratulations to Sun!.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Linux software naming is getting out of hand

I' ve been using computers since I have memory. It all started with a TRS-80 Mod III, so I have quite a lot of memories from every OS and software configuration, from CP/M, Commodore's Basic, AmigaDOS, Workbench, DR-DOS, Windows 3.1, OS/2, the Workplace Shell, Linux 2.2, Windows 98, Windows NT 4.0, Win2k, WinXP, Gnome, JDS Linux, Solaris x86, etc...

So... I have little space in my brain for new stupid acronyms and silly product names. Lately, I've grown increasingly fed up with the silly 3-letter or at best 4-letter names of open source utilities, APIs and products. When they don't name something 'ufck' (I made this one up to mean 'ugly f*ck'), they make up completely bogus names just because they sound 'nice' and giving no idea of the function of the software.

Increasingly rare exceptions are 'gconf-editor' -Gnome configuration editor- or 'gpdf' -a PDF viewer-, or 'system-config-soundcard', which needs no further explanation, and are a rare pleasure.

But that's not the trend. The trend seems to be to 'never name something for the function it does'... no, some developers would never name something 'runasroot' or 'gnome-visualprompt' or 'filesystem-hook', or 'linux-hardwaredetector', no, they create things like Gksu -about whose naming I complained over here, or the Red Hat "new hardware detector", dubbed "Kudzu", the name of which I keep forgetting and just refer to as "that RedHat thing with Japanese sounding name that detects hardware changes".

And if that wasn't enough, here comes yet another Open Source piece of code with a japanese sounding name that is also similar to Kudzu, just to destroy and wreck any chances I could have of remembering which one is the one: Dazuko, the 3rd party library for file-access control.

Couldn't they just name it linux "fileaccess-control-api", "open-filecontrol", "open-file-access api", "log-filesystem-access"?? No... DAZUKO. Sheesh!

I don't know, maybe I'm 32 and getting too old to remember this craziness of Gksu, Kudzu and Dazuko...

What's next? Keiretsu for a calculator?


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Jerry Pournelle's amazing "double negatives"

I was surprised to find Jerry Pournelle still writing about IT, this time at Dr. Dobb's Journal. [Thanks to JohnO for forwarding me that stack of "dead tree" IT magazines].

I had a great respect for Jerry in the late 80s and early to mid-'90s, when I was a subscriber of the legendary printed edition of Byte magazine. But lately I've read his "Chaos Manor" web page and found that he sounds like those classic right-wing wackos.... half-supportive of the Iraq war ("since our troops are there, we now must support them" kind of arguments), and spreading skepticism about Global Warming, by buying the arguments of -and forwarding them- every article that questions it.

Back to the war topic, for instance on "The view from Chaos Manor" you can read: "The proper way to occupy Iraq is to build a comfortable enclave with good defenses and secure perimeter, garrison that, then bring in a client army to do the actual occupation. The client army should be from a state in which, or near which, we maintain a substantial garrison, so that the homeland is held hostage (although we would NEVER say it that way) to the good behavior of the field army doing the dirty work. There are plenty of countries that would like to rent out their soldiers and would actually welcome a substantial US force in their mids".

I remember that his writing style was always somewhat convoluted and at times hard to follow. He sometimes seemed to trip on his own words and make a long tirade out of nothing, describing everything -down to the hotel he was staying in- in painstaking detail and branching the "line of thought" several times.

But getting back to the point, I finally found something in Pournelle's January 2006 Dr. Dobb's article that caught my eye, because I surely remembered that from some of his past columns: Pournelle's amazing Double-Negatives!.

The last paragraph of his Jan 2006 Dr.Dobb's article reads:

"There is NO CHANCE you WON'T learn something important from reading this book".

Wow. Why not say "Chances are you will learn something by reading this book?".
Amazing, simply amazing!. ROFL.

I swear there is NO CHANCE I won't save time by NOT READING Chaos Manor ever again!.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

AMD is in a unique position to push a Windows-Free alternative to Wintel's VIIV

David Berlind of ZDNet asks in his blog "If you could ask AMD anything, what would you ask?"

Since my reply requires room for the explanation, here goes my analysis:

Given these facts:

1. AMD is in a UNIQUE position, with its low-power, low-cost CPUs, to challenge the Microsoft-Intel push for Windows Media Center and the insane "VIIV" ""solutions"", that locks consumers into Microsoft's proprietary codecs, and with windows-only DRM-infected "media".

2. AMD is very linux friendly, in fact, MIT's "OLPC" effort is proof that linux+AMD can bring great technological solutions to the marketplace.

3. AMD, along with Sun, could develop an OPEN ALTERNATIVE to challenge VIIV, based on:
a. AMD's low-cost, low-power CPUs
b. Sun's cross-platform java for the media server software on PCs
c. Linux as the OS for the "media players", set top boxes and "entertainment centers".

The only thing missing is the WILL, on AMD's part, to create an open platform, co-develop with taiwanese and chinese hardware makers a "reference platform" and then once the cross-platform, open software side is polished up, sit batck and watch the competition among hardware makers for differentiation and features do the rest.

Prismiq, the company now closing shop after a number of bad strategic decissions, showed the way with its Prismiq Media Player, which 3 years ago won the "best of Comdex" prize. It had great potential and I'm surprised that neither AMD nor Sun saw the potential and acquired the company and its ideas, which would have paved the way for an open alternative to VIIV based on AMD, Linux and Java, which is what I'm proposing today.

Prismiq's mistakes? Let me summarize:.
1. choosing a low-horsepower NEC CPU, and a low-ram configuration on the hardware side
2. choosing to do the back-end software of their media player in cross-platform java, and then attempting to re-code a GUI in C++ for each native platform they wanted to support (Windows, MacOS, Linux).
3. Attempting (and failing) to get a "community" of hobbyst programmers to do #2 above for them, without putting enough resources or paid programmers into the effort.
4. Throwing a lot of money down the drain trying to release a Prismiq video recorder on top of the low-horsepower base hardware configuration (see #1 above).

Despite this, and trying not to lose focus and get back to the subject... THE QUESTION FOR AMD IS:

-AMD is already collaborating with Sun, and have a great relationship with them.
-Sun is promoting an open alternative to windows-only, platform-locked DRM, they call it DReaM, and is based in Java.
-Consumers want CHOICES, and a DRM-FREE (and/or open-DRM, could be up to the hardware makers' choice) solution that is comparable to Intel's VIIV but doesn't lock them to a single vendor or desktop platform would be warmly welcomed into the market.
-There is an open mpeg4 video codec that AMD's alternative to VIIV could use: THEORA
-Your main competitor, Intel, is in cahoots with the Evil Empire of Redmondia to help extend the Windows desktop monopoly to the Home Theather and living room market of consumers....

... SO WHAT IS AMD WAITING FOR TO GIVE INTEL's BRAINDEAD VIIV SOME SERIOUS KICKING and help promote the use of low-power AMD CPUs and OPEN SOFTWARE and CODECS on the consumers' home???

I'd like to hear what AMD execs have to say about this...


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Google's Picasa-Linux affair - The whole "WINE is an API" idea is a trojan horse from Hell

"Great Minds think Alike"?

It's amazing how the Web allows people who share a view to get in touch with one another in a short timeframe (aka synergy). For instance, as soon as I wrote my article on Google's infamous "Picasa for Linux" snafu (disclaimer: I generally like Google!, I use almost all of their web services), I received a note from Hubert Figuière a.k.a. "Crazy French", who's also active in the Gnome community, it read:

"I like your Google Picasa article. I myself did post something like that last week, and I got flamed for doing. Nice to see that I'm not the only to think that Google did a bad job."

I specially like one of the comments on his blog:

"it is not a native program. It is just a packaging trick. Here is what
dpkg -L picasa
/opt/picasa/wine/drive_c/Program Files/Picasa2/Picasa2.exe.

Obviously you have been fooled. It all just run under Wine like a native Windows application. Wine does not run on PowerPC, for obvious technical reasons."

Then I received another comment:


I think Googlites have made fools of themselves with this Picasa for penguins release. The one thing that may be good is that the WINE project stands to benefit a lot from this ; however, a native application (using either GTK+ or wxWindows, like ... Xara LX ( would have been a lot better... LX is a good example of a cross platform application that works perfectly. I met the Xara team at LGM ( 2006 in Lyon, France. They took the wxWindows route because, well, it was the easiest, fastest way to port (I bet using WINE never crossed their minds...). 2 years ago they were all Linux-unaware. Google has been using Linux for as long as it exists, and yet... Oh well.
Greets, Francois

Not only that, by googling on "Picasa Linux Wine" I landed this morning into this great article on the web site of Australian magazine APC:

Picasa for Linux begs a few questions

So... someone was thinking about the same thing and writing an article about at the same time I was writing mine!!. I call this "collective mind reading!". :-)

I swear to God I had never read it before this morning -and I didn't even know about that Australian magazine, either!. Thank God one of my screenshots I took while writing the article shows the May 28 date, and most of the rest show May 29. That proves that *I* started working on my article earlier than the Aussies!. :-D.

What's that common phrase they say... "great minds think alike"?. ;-)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

George W. wants the world to love the C.I.A. ...

CIA needs to restore public trust - Hayden

"General Michael Hayden, US President George Bush's nominee for CIA director, said on Thursday the spy agency needed to restore public trust"

Oh yes it does!...

May 2004: "Iraqui prisoner abuse encouraged by CIA agents, report"

(Also on )
the report by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba found that reservist military police at the prison were urged by Army military intelligence officers and CIA agents to "set physical and mental conditions for favorable interrogation of witnesses."

(September, 2004)
CIA May Have Held 100 'Ghost' Prisoners

Prisoner abuse, CIA patterns from the past

"CIA interrogation manuals written in the 1960s and 1980s described "coercive techniques" such as those used to mistreat detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, according to the declassified documents posted today by the National Security Archive. The Archive also posted a secret 1992 report written for then Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney warning that U.S. Army intelligence manuals that incorporated the earlier work of the CIA for training Latin American military officers in interrogation and counterintelligence techniques contained "offensive and objectionable material" that "undermines U.S. credibility, and could result in significant embarrassment.""

Meanwhile, George W. Bush, son of CIA chief George Bush, said back in Septiember, 2001:

May 2006: CIA nominee defends domestic NSA spying,,1778313,00.html

"I've got a lot of confidence in the CIA, and so should America," Bush said.

Should we believe the Agency's track record, or George W. Bush's broken promises??

I rest my case...

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The uglification of the Sun workstation cases. I want the w1100z´s one back!

I don´t know what the Sun hardware engineers were thinking, but if you ask me, the new Sun Ultra 20 workstation has an UGLY case, unlike its predecessor, the w1100z Java Workstation which was beatiful, in my book.

Such attractive hardware specs (AMD Opteron CPU, etc), with such an ugly case, WHY OH WHY??.

And I´m not the only one who thinks so.... Floyd Marinesc and others at TheServerSide, said:
"It is amazing to me how consistently ugly Sun workstations look in comparison. They must work hard to maintain such standards. The irony I find in this is that I will pay more for good industrial design. (I'm typing this on my Powerbook G4.) I wish Sun would respond to my want to pay more."

I think the w1100z case was beatiful in comparison to the new Ultra 20´s case design.

I hope the Sun guys have a sense of humour, because this is how I predict the Ultra 20´s succesor will look like, given the current trend: :-)

[Click to enlarge]
[Click on the image to enlarge it]

Thursday, April 27, 2006

NYTimes´ Pogue is right: people do not "choose" IE

Tech columnist at the NY Times David Pogue writes in his review of the Internet Explorer 7 beta:

"ABOUT 85 percent of the Internet population uses the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser to surf the Web, even though it's relatively ancient, crusty with neglect and about as secure as a screen door. In what other industry would 85 percent of consumers choose such a product — when better ones, also free, were also available? Trick question. Those consumers aren't actually choosing Internet Explorer; in fact, they're not choosing. They just use what came on their Windows computers."

It was about time someone told it like it is!!

However, some folks at the Evil Empire of Redmondia need a reality check.... specifically Microsoft India´s guru Rishi K Srivastava who only weeks ago claimed just the opposite, that the "bundling" had nothing to do with IE´s market share (yeah, right!).

“IE’s success cannot be attributed to its access through Windows. The reason why people are not opting for other browsers is because of IE’s superiority. If you have access to a better product why you would not choose it. IE is much secure and only a large corporation like Microsoft can invest so much into security,”
What a good joke.

See Srivastava... you can fool some people a long time, but you cannot fool all the people, all the time.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Solution to Bird Flu...

Scotland Probably Has First Case Of UK Bird Flu (H5N1)

Who would have thought... the solution is in this ~40 yrs old song by Tom Lehrer....

All the world seems in tune
On a spring afternoon,
When we're poisoning pigeons in the park.
Ev'ry Sunday you'll see
My sweetheart and me,
As we poison the pigeons in the park.

When they see us coming, the birdies all try an' hide,
But they still go for peanuts when coated with cyanide.
The sun's shining bright,
Ev'rything seems all right,
When we're poisoning pigeons in the park.


Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Russo Treatment: Alcatel + Lucent = More Layoffs

Thanks to Forbes Magazine we learn (as if were a good thing!) that the combined company after Alcatel's acquisition of Lucent will put axe-professional Patricia "Pat" Russo at the task of laying off people at light-speed.


"Patricia Russo, who eliminated 30,000 jobs at Lucent Technologies Inc., says she will move quickly to reduce the workforce when she takes over as head of Alcatel SA after the French company's $13.4 billion purchase of the biggest U.S. phone-equipment maker.

``We clearly intend to have speed as our bias,'' Russo said yesterday on a conference call after announcing the sale to Paris- based Alcatel, where she will become CEO. Russo aims to save $1.7 billion after three years at the enlarged phone equipment company.

Russo plans to eliminate 10 percent of the combined staff, or 8,800 jobs, after reducing the workforce by 50 percent at Murray Hill, New Jersey-based Lucent.


Will this "promising" merger, and Russo's job end up over time looking like HP's tenure under "Carly" Fiorina?

"Forbes magazine recently listed her among the 15 most powerful women in the world. As early as 1998 Fortune Magazine had listed her as one of the "50 Most Powerful Women in American Business."

Thursday, March 23, 2006

1976 - 2006 (March 24) U.S. approved State Terrorism

March 24, 1976-2006. 30 years after the U.S.-approved military coup in Argentina
that gave a new meaning to the word "disappeared":

Kissinger approved Argentinian 'dirty war'
Declassified US files expose 1970s backing for junta,3604,1101061,00.html

Henry Kissinger gave his approval to the "dirty war" in Argentina in the 1970s in which up to 30,000 people were killed, according to newly declassified US state department documents. Mr Kissinger, who was America's secretary of state, is shown to have urged the Argentinian military regime to act before the US Congress resumed session, and told it that Washington would not cause it "unnecessary difficulties".

Argentine Military Believed U.S. Gave Go-ahead for Dirty War

"First we must kill the subversives, then their sympathisers, then the indifferent and finally the timid."
--General Iberico Saint Jean, governor by Buenos Aires during military rule.

The 'Pink Panther'

Behind this Dirty War and its excesses stood the slight, well-dressed, gentlemanly figure of Gen. Videla. Called "bone" or the "pink panther" because of his slim build, Videla emerged as a leading theorist for international anti-communist strategies in the mid-1970s. His tactics were emulated throughout Latin America and were defended by prominent American right-wing politicians, including Ronald Reagan.

Videla rose to power amid Argentina's political and economic unrest in the early-to-mid 1970s. "As many people as necessary must die in Argentina so that the country will again be secure," he declared in 1975 in support of a "death squad" known as the Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance. [See A Lexicon of Terror by Marguerite Feitlowitz.]

What is your favorite book," a journalist asked Gen. Rafael Videla, after he ascended to power in Argentina in 1976.

"Book?" Videla replied.

The journalist was perspiring. He didn't think it was a hard question to ask someone leading the nation. But suddenly the journalist felt that the question could jeopardize not only his career but his life.

It was embarrassing that the new president could not come up with at least one title of one book. So the journalist tried to help out with suggestions: "The Bible perhaps? Martin Fierro (the most important book in Argentina's literature)?". Videla said something about his first-grade reading book, but ... he could not remember its title. [Diario Perfil, an article by Omar Bravo, July 10, 1998]

"Videla, known for his English-tailored suits and his ruthless counterinsurgency theories, stands accused of permitting -- and concealing -- a scheme to harvest infants from pregnant women who were kept alive in military prisons only long enough to give birth. According to the charges, the babies were taken from the new mothers, sometimes by late-night Caesarean sections, and then distributed to military families or shipped to orphanages. After the babies were pulled away, the mothers were removed to another site for their executions."

Videla's killer file

..and the dozens of subordinates:

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Microsoft India exec Rishi K Srivastava: joker of the year!

“IE’s success cannot be attributed to its access through Windows. The
reason why people are not opting for other browsers is because of IE’s
superiority. If you have access to a better product why you would not
choose it. IE is much secure and only a large corporation like Microsoft
can invest so much into security,” counters Microsoft India Windows Client director Rishi K Srivastava.

This is the same outspoken guy who seems to be BillG's mouthpiece, a caped crusader defending in the media everything the Corporation does. He recently said "Vista is a platform, Google is just search".

Google "not a platform, just search"?. Yeah, right.... then Picasa and all this Google software is a product of my imagination?. Oh, and incidentally:

Microsoft the Vole admits IE mess up

Microsoft complains UE is undemocratic

New zero-day bug crashes IE - March 17

Big Hole found in MS IE 6 - March 21, 2006

Mr. Srivastava... I think the joke's on you.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Microsoft ".NET" so good Microsoft not using it for Longhorn and Windows Vista

Slashdot | Analysis of .NET Use in Longhorn and Vista: "Richard Grimes analyses the ratio of native to managed code in Microsoft's upcoming Vista Operating System., and concludes it's a classic example of 'Do as I say, not as I do'

According to the analysis of Microsoft Vista and .NET, 'Microsoft appears to have concentrated their development effort in Vista on native code development. Vista has no services implemented in .NET and Windows Explorer does not host the runtime, which means that the Vista desktop shell is not based on the .NET runtime. The only conclusion that can be made from these results is that between PDC 2003 and the release of Vista Beta 1 Microsoft has decided that it is better to use native code for the operating system, than to use the .NET framework.'"

Monday, March 13, 2006

Intel's VIIV nonsense: Victory of what? Dumb marketing drones?

I understand what Intel is up to... they want to put their kit inside set-top boxes, and make intel kit the centerpiece of the new buzzword: the connected home, the "entertainment center", whatever. In other words, they expect people who are sitting on their favourite couch looking at the TV to shell out a few thousand greenbacks more and enjoy Intel's vision of the "connected home", listening to music, watching video, and the like, all from their INTEL-POWERED computer running WINDOWS MEDIA SERVER, to the TV.

There is a problem with this scenario: instead of listening to what the consumer really wants, which is a digital experience free of DRM-infection, they have partnered with the Beast of Redmondia. But it doesn't stop there... they have come up with this meaningless "VIIV" marketing nonsense that leaves people -ok, at least myself- scratching their heads. And if this wasn't enough, the adverts for "VIIV" have started popping up on the web. I've spotted the first today, while visiting AOL's Nullsoft division to download the latest Winamp 5.2x mp3 player.

Want to know what the ad shows? It looks like this:

Intel's advertising campaign for "VIIV"

in other words, an Asian man (or woman, depending on the randomness of your visit) doing the famous "V" sign with his index and middle fingers, with both of his/her hands at once. Which makes me wonder... is "VIIV" victory of... what?. So far, I conclude it's "Victory of the idiotic marketing drones". ;-)

(Just for the record, the flash file shown on the page is hosted at this url).

I don't want to spoil Intel's "VIIV" maketing push, but I'll let my blog visitors know that I've been streaming video files, surfing the web, and listening to music, all from my favourite couch and into my TV, not only from my AMD computer, but my AMD64 computer which is running LINUX as well. All DRM-free, with no stupid and dirty tricks to promote the iNTEL brand over another.

How? with the $125 Prismiq Media Player released in... 2003.

There's a nice community of techies and Prismiq users providing peer-help and developing code for it, over here. Too bad the company responsible for it didn't give it the needed resources to fully develop and enhance the product, so it has been relegated to techies.

Look at Prismiq screen on your TV. Windows and DRM-free...

Another look at the Prismiq screen

It's based on the open source FFMPEG open source transcoder, and a NEC risc cpu with built-in MPEG decoder. Full details on the hardware are over here. Oh, did I mention the PC-side server software is cross-platform java so it can be run on Mac OS-X and Linux as well?. An old FAQ can be found here. If you're a techie with a desire to explore -and beat intel's closed solution- I suggest you grab one while you can. Or experience Wintel's "VIIV"ctory ... over your wallet.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Mozilla fooling around with Linux, shock!

I suspected for a long time that some high ranking members of the Mozarella Foundation are not really linux believers but rather linux-skeptics.

But to say "Mozilla is linux skeptic" is far better than saying "Mozilla is fooling around with Linux". So I get up in the middle of the night, head to my small home office and what do I see?

Mozilla fooling around with Linux!.

Poor tux never said a word after that... And about Mozilla... *f*ck* ... I'll never be able to look at the green cute stuffed-plush beast from Mountain View with the same innocent eyes...

Saturday, February 25, 2006

'Barely legal teens' day at Google? ;-)

Official Google Blog: Google, girls and engineering

"Throughout this week, several Google offices, including New York, Kirkland and Mountain View, have been hosting a couple of hundred girls from local middle schools and high schools to come visit us for the day. The girls have the unique opportunity to shadow a Google engineer or two (!), go to interactive workshops, eat in our yummy cafes (the pizzas are a hit!) and get an insider's tour of the Google offices".


Young, curious, and eager to learn: Apparently this is the kind of engineers that Google expects to attract.

[joke, joke! if someone lacks a sense of TheOnion kind of humour, go elsewhere]

Friday, February 24, 2006

Film shows Enron scandal and the dangers of unregulated markets

Just finished watching "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" on DVD. This film shows the true story behind the "Enron scandal". The accounting tricks, the inflated stock price. Andersen Consulting's role in conveniently approving the shady books, the "get rich at all costs" mindset promoted within the company, the role of "deregulation" ideology in pursuing those goals, and how politicians bought it when they thought deregulating the energy markets was "for the better" while the company profitted at the expense of people in California and "moved energy to the desert" to cut supply and increase prices.

It's a dramatic movie. For instance, you can not only hear former Enron chief Skilling calling an investor an "Asshole" during a conference call with investors as one analyst confronted him over the company's murky earnings releases. In another segment, you can hear Enron's "energy traders" cheering after seeing fires on TV below one of California's main power lines "the price per kWatt is going to go through the roof"... "burn, baby burn" you hear them cheering.

This movie, along with "The Corporation" should be mandatory viewing at high school before anyone gets his/her degree. Gives the "Free Market needs no regulation" religious zealots and corporate mouthpieces like the guys at the CATO Institute a very well deserved spanking.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Rumsfeld is Nostradamus, shocker!

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Tuesday tried to dispel concern over the possibility that a civil war could erupt in Iraq - Rumsfeld: "Iraq not fated to civil war"

February 23 2006:

Mosque attack pushes Iraq towards Civil War

Bush calls for restraint as fears of civil war rise

At least 60 die in further Iraq violence