2008.11.01

Breaking The Law…

…or how ‘Le Sénat français a décidé de violer la législation europeénne’.

Sarkozy’s authoritarianism seems to be behind this. Yet it puzzles me how violating EU legislation can be so easily accepted by the Senate:

« 1° La suspension de l’accès au service pour une durée de trois mois à un an assortie de l’impossibilité, pour l’abonné, de souscrire pendant la même période un autre contrat portant sur l’accès à un service de communication au public en ligne auprès de tout opérateur ;

It seems to me that this is in direct violation of Amendment 138 of 2002/21/EC — you’d think they hadn’t read it:

(ga) applying the principle that no restriction may be imposed on the fundamental rights and freedoms of end-users without a prior ruling of the judicial authorities, notably in accordance with Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union on freedom of expression and information, save when public security is threatened, in which case the ruling may be subsequent.

emphasis mine.

It’ll be interesting to see whether they actually do something with this, or whether this ‘illegal’ law will be used only as a deterrent. If they do, I’d be so happy to see someone take the French Government, their ISP and any other third party involved in this to the ECJ and win.

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2008.10.30

‘Sparse’ in all ways.

Yep, the iPhone SDK does not support dynamically linked libraries. And that’s truly fantastic news for all iPhone developers wishing to leverage existing code out there. You can, of course, use a statically linked library in your code, or — if you have the code for the third-party libraries you’re going to be using — copy the files in your project and compile them together with your own source.

One way to facilitate the inclusion of third party code, is by using what Apple calls, sparse SDKs, or additional SDKs. These are what some people call custom SDKs. From the XCode Build System Guide:

There may be times when, in addition to a system SDK, you need link against sparse SDKs. A sparse SDK is an SDK that is not a system SDK. Sparse SDKs may be provided by third parties, or you may build them yourself.

“Build them ourselves”, they said. “Develop for the iPhone, they said”. :)

Sadly there is practically no documentation for building custom SDKs for XCode. Some people have used the existing toolchain and some ‘inventive’ cooking of the accompanying metadata files to create custom SDKs for use in the iPhone, but I guess your mileage may vary.

Which brings us to the main point here; Apple has been prodigiously improving their platform over the past seven years; from what was a kludge, a crude amagalm of classic Mac OS and NeXT APIs has become the state-of-the-art platform of our time. Yet, over the years I’ve come to realise that Apple’s developer documentation — while steadily improving — is almost as bad as Microsoft’s code quality. The documentation — especially in newly released SDKs — ranges between sparse and non-existent. Coupled with the numerous bugs one’s bound to come across in the process of developing even a smallish application, bad documentation really detracts from the experience. And while — I’m sure — everyone will agree that good code is arguably better than good documentation, Apple could certainly improve there. At least the company seems to be using meaningful naming. :)

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» I can say it’s a good start

And that’s about all it is. Mediocre now, but promising. Lacking in features, but open. A relatively dated foundation in some respects, but one that’s accessible to everyone. Android may not be what people expected; it’s nowhere near being an iPhone killer and the software experience could definitely use some polish — it’s without a doubt firmly in the 1990s. But Android innovates too; if not just because it’s open, because it is full of extremely innovative concepts — concepts that can primarily happen in an open environment. Take for example ‘intents’.

In the end, I’m sure the G1 is going to be ‘ok’. Nothing special. But it wasn’t meant to be. It’s a 1.0, by a company that has no experience in that sort of thing, but at the same time has most of the mindshare.

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» Το Σεντούκι των Δηλώσεων

Το Google επέκτεινε το ευρετήριο δηλώσεων από τις ειδήσεις σε 5 έτη, επιτρέπωντας έτσι στον καθένα να εξερευνήσει τα όσα είπαν πολιτικοί, αστέρες του κινηματογράφου και της μουσικής, προσωπικότητες της τέχνης και επιχειρηματίες τα τελευταία πέντε χρόνια.

Το περσυνό καλοκαίρι ο Γιώργος πέταξε στο τραπέζι την ιδέα του factcheck.gr. Ίσως η ανάπτυξη ενός παρόμοιου ευρετηρίου για την Ελλάδα (ή η χρήση του ευρετηρίου του Google — εαν αυτό κάποτε καταστεί δυνατό) θα βοηθούσε στον έλεγχο των δηλώσεων και μείωση του θορύβου στα όσα λέγονται και γράφωνται και — ίσως — στο μέλλον αποτελούσε παράγοντα αύξησης της ποιότητας των δηλώσεων δημόσιων προσώπων. Αν μη τι άλλο, θεωρώ πως ένα τέτοιο ‘εργαλείο’ θα αποτελούσε ένα (σημαντικό) βήμα προς την υλοποίηση ενός οργανικού factcheck ιστοτόπου για τα ελληνικά δεδομένα.

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2008.10.19

Endgame

The tensions among the first Bush cabinet on many issues were pretty evident. Colin Powell’s appointment as Secretary of State was meant to satisfy the moderates, after all. That and perhaps balance the factions within the Republican party, at a time when G.W. Bush seemed clueless on practically anything that mattered and Cheney/Rumsfeld represented an — up until then — largely unknown ‘neo-conservative’ wave that had yet to realise its intentions in full.

It should then come as no surprise that given Powell’s disagreement with many of Bush’s policies, his tactics and — perhaps — world view in general, he would endorse Obama. Or should it?

Colin Powell is a very highly respected and decorated former General; one of the architects of the post-Vietnam U.S. military doctrine; an experienced soldier, a moderate, a man of reason. His choice as Secretary of State in the first Bush cabinet was a good political move. Two years later Colin Powell was trapped in a situation he couldn’t escape from: choosing between loyalty and judgement. When he appeared before the U.N. Security Council, presenting his ‘evidence’ that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction, it was pretty clear that loyalty had won.

His speech was nothing like Adlai Stevenson’s 1962 Cuban-missile crisis speech. There was nothing convincing about his findings that would justify going to war against Iraq. Certainly, not without a second resolution. Ironically, that was exactly what he was after. Fortunately, he didn’t convince (most of) Europe, Russia or China. Unfortunately his continued participation in the government was unattainable.

Powell’s tenure as Secretary of State might be considered by some to be his fall from grace: Going against his judgement, he lost the power struggle, but chose to maintain his loyalty (as a good soldier) and presented an extremely weak case for going to war that cost thousands of lives and trillions of dollars as well as tarnished the image of the United States of America across the globe.

His endorsement of Obama might as well be considered the beginning of the endgame as far as these elections go; it is bound to boost Obama’s acceptance rate among undecided moderates and independents that have doubted his ability to lead, handle foreign relations and national defence; it is bound to detract from McCain’s appeal.

Ironically, if it weren’t for his tenure in Bush’s cabinet and the symbolism of his position at a time like this, Colin Powell’s endorsement would count for much less than it did a decade ago. But then again politics are rarely about substance.

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» Clearly, DRM is not the best way to go to help prevent piracy

Will Wright on the Spore DRM controversy:

“I think one of the most valid concerns about it was you could only install it so many times. For most players it’s not an issue, it’s a pretty small percentage, but some people do like wiping their hard disk and installing it 20 times or they want to play it 10 years later.

Spore doesn’t seem to be anywhere near what it was promised to be — in 10 years it is quite probable that few will remember it (let alone play it), unless it is followed by vastly improved sequels. That cannot be said, however, for several of Wright’s other games. SimCity 3000 is still enjoyed by many, 9 years after it was released, especially as it was (and probably still is) part of several ‘classics’ low-price bundles. SimCity 4 is practically universally still considered superior to the ‘Societies’ spin-off and still enjoyed by millons globally. And while it may be true that the, ever-elusive, ‘market’ could, potentially, boycott games in lieu of their ridiculous DRM, Wright’s response is unfortunate in the way it treats both replayability and consumer rights.

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2008.10.17

Delusions.

Hmmm, what was Mark thinking when he wrote this?

The warrior rabbit is our talisman as we move into a year where we can reasonably expect Ubuntu to ship on several million devices, to consumers who can reasonably expect the software experience to be comparable to those of the traditional big [software vendors]: Microsoft and Apple.
[..]
The bar is set very high, and we have been given the opportunity to leap over it. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to shine, and we want to make sure that the very best thinking across the whole open-source ecosystem is reflected in Ubuntu, because many people will judge free software as a whole by what we do.

Right. Is it a golden opportunity? Absolutely.

What about catching up to the competition? I’d say that Mac OS X is around three years ahead of Ubuntu in terms of friendliness, ease of use, consistency, multimedia support, APIs. Ubuntu today is — almost, but not quite — what Panther was in late-2003: promising, but not quite there. Not even close. That’s three years at Apple’s development pace. A focused, organised, commercial company. Contrast that with Canonical, a company that, until now, has contributed less than every other corporate entity supporting popular linux distributions and whose typical contribution has primarily been taking Debian, applying some patches and packaging it.
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2008.10.16

Δικτυακή Ουδετερότητα στην Ευρώπη. Το Κράτος ως Ρυθμιστής.

European Union FlagΗ δικτυακή ουδετερότητα είναι ένα ζήτημα που φέρνει κοντά πολύ κόσμο που κατανοεί την αξία της ελευθερίας του επιχειρείν, της έκφρασης και της επικοινωνίας στο διαδίκτυο, ανεξαρτήτως της ευρύτερης ιδεολογίας του και πολιτικών θέσεων.

Θεωρητικά, η βέλτιστη προσέγγιση στο θέμα της ουδετερότητας — και με την οποία τείνω να συμφωνήσω — θέλει τη πολιτεία να εξασκεί ουσιαστικά τον ρόλο του ρυθμιστή και μετέπειτα να αφήνει την αγορά να λειτουργήσει όπως αυτή μπορεί. Πρακτικά κάτι τέτοιο είναι αδύνατο, καθώς η αγορά των τηλεπικοινωνιών είναι σαφώς ολιγοπωλιακή, με ελάχιστους συμμετέχοντες, λιγότερους κυρίαρχους και φοβερά εμπόδια εισόδου για νέες επιχειρήσεις. Στη πράξη οι πολιτικοί διεθνώς παίρνουν θέση συμμαχώντας είτε με τη Μεγάλη_Βιομηχανία είτε με τα συμφέροντα και επιθυμίες του κόσμου, όμως στην Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση παρατηρείται κάτι διαφορετικό: μια ισορροπημένη, διπλωματική ίσως και εν γένει αόριστη φλυαρία που ευελπιστεί να καθησυχάσει τόσο τους πολίτες που αγαπούν, εργάζονται και βασίζονται στο διαδίκτυο για την ενημέρωση, επικοινωνία, ψυχαγωγία και επιμόρφωσή τους, αυτούς που μέχρι σήμερα λατρεύουν την ελευθερία που η άναρχη δομή του τους παρέχει και, στον αντίποδα, τις μέχρι σήμερα εύπορες και δικτυωμένες πολυεθνικές επιχειρήσεις που βλέπουν σε αυτή την ελευθερία το μεγαλύτερο εμπόδιο για ακόμη μεγαλύτερο κέρδος.
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