Google and the Future of Travel
Airfare search is hard. Really hard. The guy most responsible for ITA's (now Google's) flight search engine wrote up a presentation:
See in particular "Some complexity results": http://www.demarcken.org/carl/papers/ITA-software-travel-complexity/img24.html
Ogg Format Accusations Refuted
The article specifically addresses random access across high latency. Search for "latency", or just read the article.
OpenBSD 4.6 Released
When I looked at the release notes sent out by email, I saw this under "New functionality":
"httpd(8) can now serve files larger than 2GB in size."
I'm very surprised by this.
Swarm — a New Approach To Distributed Computation
- Erlang didn't get less than a second of downtime in a year, an application written in Erlang got less than a second of downtime in a year. I bet people clever enough to write such an application in Erlang could have written it in another language. Would it have been more difficult? Probably. But just because you use Erlang doesn't mean that your application is going to magically never going to have downtime - you're still going to have to work hard at it.
- Erlang is not necessarily the right choice for "high-end multi-core multi-system clustered application development". Erlang is not fast at math, and if you have a clustered application that computes fluid dynamics or cracks RC5, you'll probably keep writing it in C or C++ or Fortran because they do math fast. Don't believe me? The n-body benchmark over at the Computer Language Benchmarks Game is all double-float arithmatic, and the Erlang version takes almost six times as long as the version in Common Lisp and almost eight times as long as the version in Fortran.
Cellphones Increasingly Used As Evidence In Court
I'm not explicitly granting permission for people to find me; I'm letting a select group of people try to get in touch with me. I don't give my number out to just anyone, and even if I do give it to you, I'm not always going to choose to pick up the phone when you call. I do have my phone configured to give location information to emergency services, but not to anyone else.
NetBSD 5.0 Released
"The package system. A huddle of shell scripts without a strict API. Can be forgiven since nothing essential depends on it. A big plus sign for Linux."
pkgsrc works, but it's nowhere near as nice as apt. There's a Debian port to use the FreeBSD kernel (http://wiki.debian.org/Debian_GNU/kFreeBSD) that looks promising - the more operating systems that get something like apt, the better.
Kernel Hackers On Ext3/4 After 2.6.29 Release
FreeBSD has ZFS. My understanding is while ZFS is a good filesystem, it isn't without issues. It doesn't work well on 32-bit architectures because of the memory requirements, isn't reliable enough to host a swap partition, and can't be used as a boot partition when part of a pool. Here's FreeBSD's rundown of known problems: http://wiki.freebsd.org/ZFSKnownProblems.
On the other hand, the new filesystems in the Linux kernel - ext4 and btrfs - are taking the lessons learned from ZFS. I'm excited about next-generation filesystems, and I don't think ZFS is the only way to go.
Richard Stallman Warns About Non-Free Web Apps
"I wonder, too ... does Mr. Stallman's PC have a proprietary BIOS, or did he write that code, too?"
Yes, he uses a free BIOS.
Stallman is pragmatic, it's just that his line between pragmatic and unrealistic isn't quite where you (or I) would draw it. Before the Linux kernel came along, the GNU project had existed almost a decade - he surely used a computer then in order to write (or help write) the first versions of GCC, emacs, and a host of other essential free software programs. Now he doesn't have to, so he won't go back, and I'm sure he jumped onto a free kernel as quickly as it became remotely practical to use. Remember, GNU was working on a kernel of its own before Linux came on the scene. Again, this is not the pragmatism you or I might have chosen, but it is pragmatism. Same thing with FreeBIOS - he was in the news a year or two ago about switching the FSF over to computers that could run a completely free software BIOS. He's also been one of the many campaigning for free firmware, and the FSF has made that an important issue recently. CPU microcode? Haven't heard him talk about that yet, but I'm sure it will come.
How To Track the Bug-Trackers?
Debian's bug tracker deals with this well. It understands many different types of bug trackers - IIRC, among them launchpad, bugzilla, trac. If a bug is opened with Debian, it can be forwarded upstream, and when it's resolved, Debian's bug tracker will mark it as 'resolved upstream', and it can be closed when a package with the fix is uploaded.
I Backup My Personal Data..
You should check out etckeeper if you aren't already using it. It hooks into apt and rpm. Each time new packages update config files, it commits the new revision with a note as to which packages were installed. Very handy.
Why Developers Are Switching To Macs
"Before RMS spoke about it most of you were for Cloud Computing now you are against it. You're a bunch of sheep."
Exactly what I thought! What sheep, changing their mind after being convinced by a well-reasoned argument from someone with a track record for making good predictions!
Stallman Unsure Whether Firefox Is Truly Free
"Mozilla's beef is with Debian or anybody else messing around with code or the settings and still trying to palm it off as Mozilla Firefox. People are still free to branch the code and call it anything they like, which is just what Debian has done."
What if the Linux kernel developers did the same thing - the only way you can call it Linux is to distribute an official kernel.org release with no custom patches? KDE? GNOME? vim? emacs? every single application you use? It would really suck to install software, because there would be no name you could use to identify what your distribution was shipping without infringing on someone else's trademark.
Sure, trademark law allows Mozilla to do this, but it's been custom in the free software community *not* to do this for over 25 years.
The GPL even includes a specific provision for Mozilla's worry of "someone will patch it to break it and our reputation will be tarnished" - if you distribute a modified copy, "the work must carry prominent notices stating that you modified it, and giving a relevant date".
Mozilla Demanding Firefox Display EULA In Ubuntu
"The Firefox EULA outlines some quite important issues, not least of which is that it doesn't ship with a warranty."
Why is Firefox so special or important that it makes me confirm a EULA? And why, after these several decades since the Free Software Movement started, has no other major piece of free software done something similar? It's not like the Free Software Foundation is still working out the basics of licensing or anything.
I have 1,804 packages installed on my Debian system. I don't know _any_ of those packages that don't disclaim warranty to the maximum extent provided by law. It's in /usr/share/doc/packagename/copyright, for me to read as I please. Since it's Debian, and I get software from main, I know that anything I get from there places no restrictions on my use of the software, and that I only need to check it if I intend on modifying or distributing the software.
I'm glad Debian did away with Firefox and provides a free, rebranded version so I don't have to put up with that crap.
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