October 30th, 2003

Semiformalishmaybe

Tour De Sree

I just went and grabbed lunch at Srees, and he had some posters there,the Vegan Tour De Sree, with a funny drawing of him on a bicycle inFrance. He gave me one -- I'll take a picture and put it up here, if Idon't forget.

Last night, I had a dream that I met up with someone who I had some badblood with in the past, and, having decided to put bad blood behind us,gave him a hug. I asked him what was going on, and he said "Everything's broken".I said "Let's go fix it".

On tuesday, on my way back from Kiva Han, I bumped into someone, and whatwould've been a hello turned into a very long conversation on politicsand philosophy. One of the many things we touched on was an analysis ofCommunism in Russia, and communism in theory. In particular, he was of theconclusion that communism is inevitably corrupt, as the centrality-focusedplanning needed to run such a state proves an attractive point for peoplewho would corrupt the system, and even should social factors involved, communismrequires a perfect prediction of market needs to function properly. I don't thinkthe second is a strong argument -- at least here, our markets work generally ona certain amount of surplus. I think that the centralized control here isn't beingcompared to something fundamentally different, just fragmented into seperate stores.However, it does seem valid that, as incompetant people make their way into bothsystems, when there is not competition, an alternate mechanism must be in placeto remove such people from office, as they can't fail in the market if there isnone. It's a challenge, but probably not even a very difficult one for someonewho is versed in that style of economics. The corruption-centric argument was newto me -- he grew up in communist russia, and had a lot more familiarity withcommunism in practice there. Given the enormous problems with corruption Russia isgoing through now, what he says makes a lot of sense, and is a much bigger problem.It is, however, a problem that we share to some degree with portions of ourgovernment -- there are a number of nonelected parts of our government, and themarketplace has plenty of that as well. We have no alternative to government, butthe marketplace situation, with the exception of when business gets very powerful,is considerably less dangerous. We went into a lot more depth, and covered a lotmore ground, but, dear reader, I'm not going to carry around tape recorders orexpect people to tolerate them for your sake :)

Version 2.6 of the Linux kernel is just around the corner -- it's enteringa hard freeze.. I'm looking forward to upgrading to it. Speaking of techie stuff,my frequent putting my laptop into my computer bag without removing the wirelesscard has finally bent the card. It still works, but I'm worried that it might breaksoon.

SCO is being bold, claiming that the GPL is invalid, is asking thejudge to declare the license to be unenforcable, and asking for all GPL software tobe ruled public domain. I'm amused at their chutzpah, although it looks a little bitlike people suing the IRS on constitutional grounds, hoping to avoid paying incometaxes.

Here is an interesting analysis of the gender-makeup of the British judiciary. Also on the legalfront, the U.S. copyright office ruled against Lexmark, who was using the DMCA toprevent third parties from making replacement ink carts for their printers.Hopefully we'll see more similar rulings -- better yet, hopefully the DMCA willbe undone at some point.

I mentioned Galloway in Britain a few entries ago. Here's an amusing precursor,amusingly from Pennsylvania. I do wonder if, at the time of the Continental Congress,Pittsburgh was even around, or if at the time, Philadelphia and east Pennsylvania wasthe whole thing. Here's a different perspective on Galloway, with an amusing phrasesuggesting he's a pimp for the devil. Finally, here's the full text of hisrecent political rally. I guess we can see why Al Jazeera is giving it so muchcoverage -- although they're not as exclusively pro-muslim as I thought they might bebefore I became a regular reader, they are very much pro-palestinian, and he isat least sympathetic to their plight.

Microsoft is talking a lot about their next version of Windows, and howit will be database-enabled in the filesystem, with schemas provided for email andother apps. All their other features, from what's listed on that site, are fluff.We're left with two questions -- is this implementable without making a mess, andwill it be a good thing? One of the frustrations I had with OS/2, which is thankfullyabsent in Linux, is there's invisible (mostly) metadata in the filesystem (extendedattributes), and when they went wrong (complex systems with lots of componentseventaully do), as they were undocumented and hard to manipulate, the most reasonablething to do was to reinstall the OS, or live with the problems until it brokeentirely. I hope Microsoft doesn't make a system with the same problems.However, the end goal, I think, is a good one. SQL provides a very standard andvisible API to data, and with stored procedures can provide well-defined APIs. It'sa good cross-language, cross-platform way for data stores to talk to each other in ageneric way, so, for example, we might write code to ask our email system in waysnot dissimilar to the way Unix folks like myself currently use grep. In other words,SQL-backed stuff is a really good thing (many of my recent programming projects haveused PostgreSQL as a data store). If microsoft makes MS SQL Server not suck at somepoint, then they might actually have a lot to offer developers with this. I hopethe schemas will be well-documented and that they provide a commandline SQL toollike most databases do.. Sadly, a lot of the coolness of this will be lost to endusers, who don't know SQL.. it's hard to provide the power of that without requiringthe knowledge...