Shared posts

30 May 04:00

World War III+

I hate how the media only ever uses the first part of this quote, stripping it of its important context.
20 May 04:00

Digital Data

“If you can read this, congratulations—the archive you’re using still knows about the mouseover text”!
11 May 17:09

In Alien vs. Predator, I'm for Predator, Because He's OUR Predator

For all his faults, Trump would be an incomparably better president than Hillary.
11 May 09:58

denemo @ Savannah: Version 2.0.8 is out.

New features:

Copy and Paste
Applies to note/chord attributes
CtrlC, Ctrl-V work for these
Copied marking is highlighted
Selection changes color when copied
Improved Acoustic Feedback
Trill makes a short trill sound on entry
Copy attributes sounds
Improved Visual Feedback
Status bar notices are animated
Characters are highlighted in Lyric Verses
Directives are made more legible when cursor is on them
Cadenza Time
For un-metered music
Music can still display in “bars”
New Commands
Tuplet Positioning
Curved Tuplet Brackets
Cadenza on/off uses Cadenza Time, sets smaller note size, editable text
Notes without stems
Multi-line text annotation
Bold, Italic etc now apply to selection
A guard prevents accidental syntax collision
Updated Manual
More detail
Now indexed
Bug Fixes
Command Center search now reliable
Standalone Multi-line text with backslash editing
Pasting into measures that precede a time signature change

11 May 14:06

For Israel Independence Day: The Journey to Canaan at the Heart of American Culture

A weakness of the conservative movement is its confusion about what it means to be an American in the first place.
10 May 10:14

Two videos of the new modular Craft Camera

by Andreapazzo


Introducing Craft Camera from Craft Digital Systems on Vimeo.

The recently announced new Craft Camera is a modular device that will also be available with MFT mount. Here are two videos shwowing a bit more about how this works.


27 Apr 23:00

EU jeopardises its own goals in standardisation with FRAND licensing

EU jeopardises its own goals in standardisation with FRAND licensing

On 19 April, the European Commission published a communication on "ICT Standardisation Priorities for the Digital Single Market" (hereinafter 'the Communication'). The Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy intends to digitise industries with several legislative and political initiatives, and the Communication is a part of it covering standardisation. In general, the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) welcomes the Communication's plausible approach for integrating Free Software and Open Standards into standardisation but expresses its concerns about the lack of understanding of necessary prerequisites to pursue that direction.

Acknowledging the importance of Free Software

The Communication starts with acknowledging the importance of Open Standards for interoperability, innovation and access to media, cultural and educational content, and promotes "community building, attracting new sectors, promoting open standards and platforms where needed, strengthening the link between research and standardisation". The latter is closely linked to the "cloud", where the Communication states that the "proprietary solutions, purely national approaches and standards that limit interoperability can severely hamper the potential of the Digital Single Market", and highlights that "common open standards will help users access new innovative services".

As a result, the Commission concludes that by the end of 2016 it intends to make more use of Free Software elements by better integrating Free Software communities into standard setting processes in the standards developing organisations.

In the Internet of Things (IoT) domain, the Communication acknowledges the EU need for "an open platform approach that supports multiple application domains ... to create competitive IoT ecosystems". In this regard, the Commission states that "this requires open standards that support the entire value chain, integrating multiple technologies ... based on streamlined international cooperation that build on an IPR ["intellectual property rights"] framework enabling easy and fair access to standard essential patents (SEPs)".

FSFE welcomes this direction taken in the Communication, as well as the Commissioner Günther Oettinger's position, highlighted in his keynote at the Net Futures 2016, that "easy reuse of standard and open components accelerates digitisation of any business or any industry sector." Furthermore, according to the Commissioner Oettinger, Free Software standards "enable transparency and build trust."

EC putting good efforts at risk

However, the attempts of the Commission to promote Open Standards and a more balanced approach towards "intellectual property rights" policies in standardisation may be seriously hampered by the Commission's stance towards FRAND licensing. In particular, the Commission sets the goal to "clarify core elements of an equitable, effective and enforceable licensing methodology around FRAND principles" which is seen as striking the right balance in standardisation and ensuring the "fair and non-discriminatory" access to standards. Furthermore, it is a well-known fact that FRAND licensing terms that in theory stand for "fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory" terms, in practice are incompatible with most of Free Software.

In conclusion, whilst the Communication sets a positive direction towards the promotion of Open Standards and the inclusion of Free Software communities into the standardisation, this direction may be seriously limited if the Commission fails to acknowledge the incompatibility of FRAND licensing terms with Free Software licenses. This in return can in practice make a proper Free Software implementation of the standard impossible. As a result, the attempts of the Commission to achieve truly "digital single market" based on interoperability, openness and innovation will not be achieved as the significant part of innovative potential found in Free Software will be in practice excluded from standardisation.

In line with our recommendations on the DSM initiative that got well received by the Commission, FSFE believes that in order to achieve the adequate integration of Free Software communities, and the overall plausible approach towards appropriate use of Open Standards the Commission needs to avoid the harmful consequences of FRAND licensing to Free Software, and instead pursue the promotion of standards that are open, minimalistic and implementable with Free Software. These standards will give the substance to the Commission's promises to encourage Free Software communities to participate in standardisation.

Support FSFE, join the Fellowship
Make a one time donation

01 Mar 18:28

$2,000(!) off on the AG-AF100 superkit

by Andreapazzo



There is a $2,000 price drop on the AG-AF100 superkit sold by BHphoto (Click here).

More new deals:
Silver GX8 (Click here) and Black GX8 (Click here) for $888 only on eBay!
You save $150 on the Panasonic Vario 35-100mm lens sold on eBay (Click here).

New MFT stuff in Stock:
The new 300mm PRO lens is in Stock at Amazon US (Click here) and FocusCamera (Click here).
The Black PEN-F is also in Stock at FocusCamera (Click here).

New MFT lens preorders:
Panasonic 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 at BHphoto (Click here) and at Adorama (Click here).
Sigma 30mm f/1.4 MFT at BHphoto (Click here) and at Adorama (Click here).


23 Feb 17:16

5 razões para cursar uma Oficina de Escrita Criativa

by Rodrigo Gurgel

Nenhuma Oficina de Escrita Criativa tem o poder de transformar o aluno, num passe de mágica, em escritor. Nenhuma Oficina de Escrita Criativa pode conceder ao aluno, em poucas semanas, uma capacidade única para se expressar. Dizendo de outra forma, nenhum curso pode fazer com que o aluno ingresse, de repente, numa categoria iluminada de seres humanos.

Faço questão de sempre ressaltar essas impossibilidades, principalmente quando falo sobre o trabalho que desenvolvo em minha própria Oficina de Escrita Criativa — e quando abro inscrições para novas turmas, o que acontecerá no próximo dia 25 de fevereiro, quinta-feira, às 21hdurante a palestra on-line “Por que ser um escritor?”.

Mas se os milagres citados no primeiro parágrafo não acontecem, por quais motivos alguém que deseja ser escritor deve cursar uma Oficina de Escrita Criativa? Para que ela serve? A seguir, apresento 5 razões:

1. Dar complexidade às narrativas

Estamos sempre compartilhando histórias, ainda que façamos isso, a maior parte do tempo, de forma inconsciente. Somos contadores de histórias; estamos sempre compondo narrativas e transmitindo-as a nossos familiares, a nossos amigos.

Em minha Oficina de Escrita Criativa levo o aluno para além dessa constatação — e faço com que ele, ao se tornar consciente dessa habilidade, compreenda como, em literatura, é possível carregar essas narrativas de tensão, humor, ironia, dramaticidade.

Esse trabalho de ensinar como uma narrativa pode ser mais complexa não se resume a meras técnicas para estimular a imaginação, mas abrange refletir sobre a condição humana, questionar a si próprio e observar a realidade com um novo olhar.

2. Exercitar o domínio da linguagem

razões para cursar uma Oficina de Escrita Criativa

É preciso transformar a habilidade para contar histórias numa prática consciente.

Transformar a habilidade para contar histórias numa prática consciente exige, portanto, um aprofundamento da autoconsciência — mas também exige maior precisão ao utilizar a linguagem, bem como o estudo dos elementos que compõem uma boa história.

Ao conhecer cada um desses elementos — em contato com textos fundamentais da literatura — e analisar de que maneira importantes escritores trabalharam, o aluno desperta para a necessidade de ter uma linguagem mais rigorosa, o que não deixa de ser uma forma de clarificar o pensamento.

Isso, aliás, nos recorda o sentido da palavra “aptidão”: não apenas uma disposição inata, mas uma habilidade que, em literatura, se aperfeiçoa à medida que estudamos e exercitamos o domínio da linguagem.

3. Criar diferentes “eus”

Observar a realidade com um novo olhar e ampliar sua autoconsciência leva o aluno a adquirir também uma compreensão mais profunda dos outros, dos seus semelhantes. Sem ela, é impossível construir narradores e personagens convincentes.

O escritor precisa saber quem narra a história que ele deseja contar e quem a vivencia: quais os valores, os preconceitos, as contradições, os sentimentos do narrador e dos personagens?

Procuro fazer, assim, com que o aluno alcance uma nova forma de empatia, por meio da qual possa viver e analisar os fatos sob diferentes perspectivas, como se carregasse consigo diferentes “eus”.

4. Reeducar a atenção

Quando estudamos os elementos acima não a partir de teorias, mas da leitura de textos fundamentais, o aluno compreende como estilos literários diversos expressam estados de espírito ou características pessoais que podem ou não ser semelhantes.

Aula após aula, o aluno é desafiado por esses grandes autores — desafiado a, conhecendo cada um deles, criar seu próprio estilo, sua própria voz.

Trata-se de um reaprendizado da leitura, de uma reeducação da atenção — um mergulho indispensável para perceber, no texto e na realidade, os pormenores que quase sempre nos escapam.

5. Cultivar a determinação

Por fim, é fundamental saber que a escrita exige disciplina, exige um comportamento metódico. Como tudo na vida, se não aprendemos a ser perseverantes, não nos desenvolvemos. É preciso ter consciência de que escrever não é fácil — e que aptidão ou talento são inúteis se não há determinação.


Estas 5 razões resumem o trabalho que desenvolvo em minha Oficina de Escrita Criativa. Mas você pode conhecer também o depoimento de alguns de meus alunos.

The post 5 razões para cursar uma Oficina de Escrita Criativa appeared first on Rodrigo Gurgel.

18 Feb 15:36

A Syrian Ghost Story: Lessons from Cardinal Richelieu

16 Feb 21:36

by Eduardo Maçan


Pode ser tarde demais para evitar uma catástrofe na Venezuela, diz economista de Harvard

Para o venezuelano Ricardo Hausmann, não é hora de ficar em cima do muro: o país precisa de um plano crível (e isso não deve ser possível enquanto Nicolás Maduro estiver no poder)

17 Feb 05:00


Some of you may be thinking, 'But wait, isn't the brightest star in our sky the Sun?' I think that's a great question and you should totally ask it. On the infinite tree of possible conversations spread out before us, I think that's definitely the most promising branch.
16 Feb 01:13

Eduardo Maçan shared his post.

by Eduardo Maçan

Eduardo Maçan shared his post.

O eu do presente reavalia a previsão do eu do passado.

Abordei 15 conhecidos nos últimos 30 dias fazendo propaganda de vagas e/ou pedindo indicações. Dos 15 que abordei, 5 eu já sabia que tinham saído do país e outros 5 eu descobri que estão saindo ou planejando a saída.

E mal fez um ano. :(


Agora que o dólar passou de R$3 para fins práticos e uma recessão se avizinha, voltou a ser muito interessante trabalhar no exterior.

Eles já estavam vindo buscar talentos por aqui mesmo, agora então que um salário da ordem de 100 mil dólares por ano é capaz de fazer sobrar um bom pé de meia em reais, quero ver quem (bom) vai querer ficar no Brasil.

Aquisição de (verdadeiros) talentos em tecnologia: o que já era difícil vai ficar pior.

11 Feb 07:55

Chris Travers: Why Commons Should Not Have Ideological Litmus Tests

This will likely be my last post on this topic.  I would like to revive this blog on technical rather than ideological issues but there seems like a real effort to force ideology in some cases.  I don't address this in terms of specific rights, but in terms of community function and I have a few more things to say on this topic before I return to purely technical questions.

I am also going to say at the outset that LedgerSMB adopted the Ubuntu Code of Conduct very early (thanks to the suggestion of Joshua Drake) and this was a very good choice for our community.  The code of conduct provides a reminder for contributors, users, participants, and leadership alike to be civil and responsible in our dealings around the commons we create.  Our experience is we have had a very good and civil community with contributions from every walk of life and a wide range of political and cultural viewpoints.  I see  this as an unqualified success.

Lately I have seen an increasing effort to codify a sort of political orthodoxy around open source participation.  The rationale is usually about trying to make people feel safe in a community, but these are usually culture war issues so invariably the goal is to exclude those with specific political viewpoints (most of the world) from full participation, or at least silence them in public life.  I see this as extremely dangerous.

On the Economic Nature of Open Source

Open source software is economically very different from the sorts of software developed by large software houses.  The dynamics are different in terms of the sort of investment taken on, and the returns are different.  This is particularly true for community projects like PostgreSQL and LedgerSMB, but it is true to a lesser extent even for corporate projects like MySQL.  The economic implications thus are very different.

With proprietary software, the software houses build the software and absorb the costs for doing so, and then later find ways to monetize that effort.  In open source, that is one strategy among many but software is built as a community and in some sense collectively owned (see more on the question of ownerership below).

So with proprietary software, you may have limited ownership over the software, and this will be particularly limited when it comes to the use in economic production (software licenses, particularly for server software, are often written to demand additional fees for many connections etc).

Like the fields and pastures before enclosure, open source software is an economic commons we can all use in economic production.  We can all take the common software and apply it to our communities, creating value in those areas we value.  And we don't all have to share the same values to do it.  But it often feeds our families and more.

But acting as a community has certain requirements.  We have to treat eachother with humanity generally.  That doesn't mean we have to agree on everything but it does mean that some degree of civility must be maintained and cultivated by those who have taken on that power in open source projects.

On the Nature of Economic Production, Ownership and Power (Functionally Defined)

I am going to start by defining some terms here because I am using these terms in functional rather than formal ways.

Economic Production:  Like all organisms we survive by transforming our environment and making it more conducive to our ability to live and thrive.  In the interpersonal setting, we would call this economic production.  Note that understood in this way, this is a very broad definition and includes everything from cooking dinner for one's family to helping people work together.  Some of this may be difficult to value but it can (what is the difference between eating out and eating at home?  How much does a manager contribute to success through coordination?).

Ownership:  Defining ownership in functional rather than formal terms is interesting.  It basically means the right to use and direct usage of something.  Seen in this way, ownership is rarely all or nothing.  Economic ownership is the right to utilize a resource in economic production.  The extent to which one is restricted in economic production using a piece of software the less one owns it, so CAL requirements in commercial software and anti-TIVOization clauses in the GPL v3 are both restrictions on functional ownership.

Economic Power:  Economic power is the power to direct or restrict economic production.  Since economic production is required for human life, economic power is power over life itself.  In an economic order dominated by corporations, corporations control every aspect of our lives.  In places where the state has taken over from the corporations, the state takes over this as well.  But such power is rarely complete because not all economic production can be centrally controlled.

I am going to come back to these below because my hesitation on kicking people out of the community due to ideological disagreements (no matter how wrong one side may seem to be) have to do with this fear of abuse of economic power.

On Meritocracy (and what should replace it)

Meritocracy is an idea popularized by Eric Raymond, that power in a community should be given to technical merit.  In short, one should judge the code, not the person.  The idea has obvious appeal and is on the surface hyper-inclusive.  We don't have to care about anything regarding each other other than quality of code.  There is room for everyone.

More recently there has been push-back in some corners against the idea of meritocracy.  This push-back comes from a number of places, but what they have in common is questioning how inclusive it really is.

The most popular concern is that meritocracy suggests that we should tolerate people who actively make the community less welcoming, particularly for underrepresented groups. and therefore meritocracy becomes a cover for excluding the same groups who are otherwise excluded in other social dimensions, that the means of exclusion differs but who is excluded might not.

There is something to be said for the above concern, but advocates have often suggested that any nexus between community and hostile ideas is sufficient to raise a problem and therefore when an Italian Catholic expresses a view of gender based on his religion on Twitter, people not even involved in the project seek his removal from it on the grounds that the ideas are toxic.  For reasons that will become clear, that is vast overreach, and a legitimate complaint is thus made toxic by the actions of those who promote it.  And similarly toxic are the efforts by some to use social category to insist that their code should be included just to show a welcoming atmosphere.

A larger problem with meritocracy though is the way it sets up open source communities to be unbalanced, ruled by technical merit and thus not able to attract the other sorts of contributions needed to make most software successful.  In a community where technical merit is the measure by which we are judged, non-technical contributions are systematically devalued and undervalued.  How many open source communities produce software which is poorly documented and without a lot of attention to user interface?  If you devalue the efforts at documentation and UI design, how will you produce software which really meets people's needs?  If you don't value the business analysts and technical writers, how will you create economic opportunities for them in your community?  If you don't value them, how will you leverage their presence to deliver value to your own customers?  You can't if your values are skewed.

The successor to meritocracy should be economic communitarianism, i.e. the recognition that what is good for the community is economically good for all its members.  Rather than technical merit, the measure of a contribution and a contributor ought to be the value that a contribution brings the community.    Some of those will be highly technical but some will not.  Sometimes a very ordinary contribution that anyone could offer will turn the tide because only one person was brave enough to do it, or had the vision to see it as necessary.  Just because those are not technical does not mean that they are not valuable or should not be deeply respected.  I would argue that in many ways the most successful open source communities are the ones which have effectively interpreted meritocracy loosely as economic communitarianism.

On Feeling Safe in the Community

Let's face it  People need to feel safe and secure in the community regarding their physical safety and economic interests.  Is there any disagreement on this point?  If there is, please comment below.  But the community cannot be responsible for how someone feels, only in making sure that people are objectively physically and economically secure within it.  If someone feels unsafe in attending conferences, community members can help address security concerns and if someone severely misbehaves in community space, then that has to be dealt with for the good of everyone.

I don't think the proponents of ideological safety measures have really thought things through entirely.  The world is a big place and it doesn't afford people ideological safety unless they don't go out and work with people they disagree with.  As soon as you go across an international border, disagreements will spring up everywhere and if you aren't comfortable with this then interacting on global projects is probably not for you.

Worse, when it comes to conduct outside of community circles, those in power in the community cannot really act constructively most of the time.  We don't have intimate knowledge and even if we do, our viewpoints have to be larger than the current conflict.

On "Cultural Relativism:" A welcoming community for all?

One of the points I have heard over and over in discussions regarding community codes of conduct is that welcoming people regardless of viewpoint (particularly on issues like abortion, sexuality, etc) is cultural relativism and thus not acceptable.  I guess the question is not acceptable to whom?  And do we really want an ideological orthodoxy on every culture war topic to be a part of an open source project?  Most people I have met do not want this.

But the overall question I have for people who push culture war codes of conduct is "when you say a welcoming community for all, do you really mean it?  Or do you just mean for everyone you agree with?  What if the majority changes their minds?"

In the end, as I will show below, trying to enforce an ideological orthodoxy in this way does not bring marginal groups into the community but necessary forces a choice of which marginal groups to further exclude.  I don't think that is a good choice and I will go on record and say it is a choice I will steadfastly refuse to make.

A Hypothetical

Ideology is shaped by culture, and ideology of sexuality is shaped by family structures, so consequently where family structures are different, views on sexuality will be also.

So suppose someone on a community email list includes a pro-same-sex marriage email signature, something like:

"Marriage is an institution for the benefit of the spouses, not [to] bind parents to their children" -- Ted Olson, arguing for a right to same-sex marraige before the United States Supreme Court.

So a socially conservative software developer from southern India complaints to the core committee saying that this is an attack on his culture, saying that traditional Indian marriages are not real marriages.  Now, I assume most people would agree that it would be best for the core committee not to insist that the email signature be changed for someone to continue to participate.  So with such a decision, suppose the complainant changes his signature instead to read:

"If mutual consent makes a sexual act moral, whether within marriage or without, and, by parity of reasoning, even between members of the same sex, the whole basis of sexual morality is gone and nothing but misery and defect awaits the youth of the country… " -- Mohandas Gandhi

Now the first person decries the signature as homophobic and demands the Indian fellow be thrown off the email list.  And the community, if it has decided to follow the effort at ideological safety has to resolve the issue.  Which group to exclude?  The sexual minority?  Or the group marginalized through a history of being on the business end of colonialism?  And if one chooses the latter, then what does that say about the state of the world?  Should Indians, Malaysians, Catholics, etc. band together to fork a competing project?  Is that worth it as a cost?  Doesn't that hurt everyone?

On Excluding People from the Commons

In my experience, excluding people from the commons carries with it massive cost, and this is a good thing because it keeps economic power from being abused.  I have watched the impact first hand.  LedgerSMB would not even exist if this weren't an issue with SQL-Ledger.  That we are now the only real living fork of SQL-Ledger and far more active than the project we forked from is a testament to the cost.

Of course in that case the issue was economic competition and a developer who did not want to leverage community development to build his own business.  I was periodically excluded from SQL-Ledger mailing lists etc for building community documentation (he sold documentation).  Finally the fork happened beccause he wouldn't take security reports seriously.  And this is one of the reasons why I would like to push for an inclusive community.

But I also experienced economic ramifications from being excluded.  It was harder to find customers (again, the reason for exclusion was economic competition so that was the point).  In essence, I am deeply aware of the implications of kicking people out.

I have seen on email lists and tracker tickets the comparison of the goal of excluding people with problematic ideologies with McCarthyism.  The goal of McCarthyism was indeed similar, to make sure that if you had the wrong ideas you would be unable to continue a professional career.  I have had relatives who suffered because they defended the legal rights of the Communist Party during that time.  I am aware of cases where the government tried to take away their professional career (unsuccessfully).

Management of community is political and the cost of excluding someone is also political.  We already exist in some ways on the margins of the software industry.  Exclude too many people and you create your own nemesis.  That's what happened to SQL-Ledger and why LedgerSMB is successful today.

Notes on former FreeBSDGirl

One blog entry that comes from the other side of this issue is Randi Harper's piece on why she no longer will go to FreeBSD conferences and participate on IRC channels.   I am not familiar with the facts surrounding her complaints and frankly I don't have time to be so what the nature of her harassment complaint is, I will not be the judge.

There is however another side to the issue that is outside what she evidently has experience with, and that is the role of software maintainers in addressing the sorts of complaints she made.  Consequently I want to address that side and then discuss her main points at the bottom.

One thing to remember is that when people make accusations of bullying, harassment, etc. the people in charge are also the people with the least actual knowledge of what is going on.  Expecting justice from those in power in cases like this will lead, far more often than not, to feelings of betrayal.  This is not because of bad intentions but because of lack of knowledge.  This was one thing I learned navigating schoolyard bullies when I was growing up and we as project maintainers are in an even lower knowledge role than school administrators are.  Bullies are furthermore usually experts at navigating the system and take advantage of those who are not as politically adept, so the more enforcement you throw at the problem, the worse it gets.

So there is an idea that those in charge will stop people from treating eachother badly.  That has to stop because it isn't really possible (as reasonable as it sounds).  What we can do is keep the peace in community settings and that is about it.  One needs bottom up solutions, not top down ones.

So if someone came to me as a maintainer of a project alleging harassment on Twitter and demanding that an active committer be removed, that demand would probably go nowhere.  If political statements were mentioned, the response would be "do we want a political orthodoxy?"  Yet LedgerSMB has avoided these problems largely because, I think, we are a community of small businesses and therefore are used to working through disagreements and maybe because we are used to seeing these sorts of things as political.

Her main points though are worth reading and pondering.  In some areas she is perfectly right and in some areas dangerously wrong.

Randi is most right in noting that personal friction cannot be handled like a technical problem.  It is a political problem and needs to be handled as such.  I don't think official processes are the primary protection here, and planning doesn't get you very far, but things do need to be handled delicately.

Secondly, there is a difference between telling someone to stay quiet and telling someone not to be shouting publicly.   I think it is worth noting that if mediation is going to work then one cannot have people trying to undermine that in public, but people do need friends and family for support and so it is important to avoid the impression that one is insisting on total confidentiality.

Randi is also correct that how one deals with conflict is a key gauge of how healthy an open source community is.  Insisting that people be banished because of politically offensive viewpoints however does not strike me as healthy or constructive.  Insisting that people behave themselves in community spaces does.  In very rare cases it may be necessary to mediate cases that involve behavior outside that, but insisting on strict enforcement of some sort of a codified policy will not bring peace or prosperity.

More controversially I will point out that there is a point that Randi makes implicitly that is worth making explicit here, namely that there is a general tone-deafness to women's actual experiences in open source.  I think this is very valid.  I can remember a former colleague in LedgerSMB making a number of complaints about how women were treated in open source.  Her complaints included both unwanted sexual attention ("desperate geeks") and more actionably the fact that she was repeatedly asked how to attract more women to open source (she responded once on an IRC channel with "do you know how annoying that is?").  She ultimately moved on to other projects following a change in employment that moved LedgerSMB outside the scope of duties,  but one obvious lesson that those of us in open source can take from this is just to listen to complaints.  Many of these are not ones that policies can solve (you really want a policy aimed at telling people not to ask what needs to be done to attract more women to open source?) but if we listen, we can learn something.

One serious danger in the current push for more expansive codes of conduct is that it puts those who have the least knowledge in the greatest responsibility.  My view is that expansive codes of conduct, vesting greater power with maintainers over areas of political advocacy outside community fora will lead to greater, not less conflict.  So I am not keen in her proposed remedies.

How Codes of Conducts Should be Used

The final point I want to bring up here is how codes of conduct should be used.  These are not things which should be seen as pseudo-legal or process-oriented documents.  If you go this way, people will abuse the system.  It is better in my experience to vest responsibility with the maintainers in keeping the peace, not dispensing out justice, and to have codes of conduct aimed at the former, not the latter.  Justice is a thorny issue, one philosophers around the world have been arguing about for millennia with no clear resolution.

A major problem is the simple fact that perception and reality don't always coincide.  I was reminded of this controversy while reading an article in The Local about the New Years Eve sexual assaults, about work by a feminist scholar in Sweden to point out that actually men are more at risk from bodily violence than women are, and that men suffer disproportionately from crime but are the least likely to modify behavior to avoid being victimized.  The article is worth reading in light of the current issues.

So I think if one expects justice from a code of conduct, one expects too much.  If one expects fairness from a code of conduct, one expects too much.  If one expects peace and prosperity for all, then that may be attainable but that is not compatible with the idea that one has a right not to be confronted by people with dangerous ideologies.

Codes of conducts, used right, provide software maintainers with a valuable tool for keeping the peace.  Used wrong, they lead open source projects into ruin.  In the end, we have to be careful to be ideologically and culturally inclusive and that means that people cannot guarantee that they are safe from ideas they find threatening.
09 Feb 00:00

Fire From Moonlight

by xkcd

Fire From Moonlight

Can you use a magnifying glass and moonlight to light a fire?

—Rogier Spoor

At first, this sounds like a pretty easy question.

A magnifying glass concentrates light on a small spot. As many mischevious kids can tell you, a magnifying glass as small as a square inch in size can collect enough light to start a fire. A little Googling will tell you that the Sun is 400,000 times brighter than the Moon, so all we need is a 400,000-square-inch magnifying glass. Right?

Wrong. Here's the real answer: You can't start a fire with moonlight[1]Pretty sure this is a Bon Jovi song. no matter how big your magnifying glass is. The reason is kind of subtle. It involves a lot of arguments that sound wrong but aren't, and generally takes you down a rabbit hole of optics.

First, here's a general rule of thumb: You can't use lenses and mirrors to make something hotter than the surface of the light source itself. In other words, you can't use sunlight to make something hotter than the surface of the Sun.

There are lots of ways to show why this is true using optics, but a simpler—if perhaps less satisfying—argument comes from thermodynamics:

Lenses and mirrors work for free; they don't take any energy to operate.[2]And, more specifically, everything they do is fully reversible—which means you can add them in without increasing the entropy of the system. If you could use lenses and mirrors to make heat flow from the Sun to a spot on the ground that's hotter than the Sun, you'd be making heat flow from a colder place to a hotter place without expending energy. The second law of thermodynamics says you can't do that. If you could, you could make a perpetual motion machine.

The Sun is about 5,000°C, so our rule says you can't focus sunlight with lenses and mirrors to get something any hotter than 5,000°C. The Moon's sunlit surface is a little over 100°C, so you can't focus moonlight to make something hotter than about 100°C. That's too cold to set most things on fire.

"But wait," you might say. "The Moon's light isn't like the Sun's! The Sun is a blackbody—its light output is related to its high temperature. The Moon shines with reflected sunlight, which has a "temperature" of thousands of degrees—that argument doesn't work!"

It turns out it does work, for reasons we'll get to later. But first, hang on—is that rule even correct for the Sun? Sure, the thermodynamics argument seems hard to argue with,[3]Because it's correct. but to someone with a physics background who's used to thinking of energy flow, it may seem hard to swallow. Why can't you concentrate lots of sunlight onto a point to make it hot? Lenses can concentrate light down to a tiny point, right? Why can't you just concentrate more and more of the Sun's energy down onto the same point? With over 1026 watts available, you should be able to get a point as hot as you want, right?

Except lenses don't concentrate light down onto a point—not unless the light source is also a point. They concentrate light down onto an area—a tiny image of the Sun.[4]Or a big one! This difference turns out to be important. To see why, let's look at an example:

This lens directs all the light from point A to point C. If the lens were to concentrate light from the Sun down to a point, it would need to direct all the light from point B to point C, too:

But now we have a problem. What happens if light goes back from point C toward the lens? Optical systems are reversible, so the light should be able to go back to where it came from—but how does the lens know whether the light came from B or to A?

In general, there's no way to "overlay" light beams on each other, because the whole system has to be reversible. This keeps you from squeezing more light in from a given direction, which puts a limit on how much light you can direct from a source to a target.

Maybe you can't overlay light rays, but can't you, you know, sort of smoosh them closer together, so you can fit more of them side-by-side? Then you could gather lots of smooshed beams and aim them at a target from slightly different angles.

Nope, you can't do this.[5]We already know this, of course, since earlier we said that it would let you violate the second law of thermodynamics.

It turns out that any optical system follows a law called conservation of étendue. This law says that if you have light coming into a system from a bunch of different angles and over a large "input" area, then the input area times the input angle[6]Note to nitpickers: In 3D systems, this is technically the solid angle, the 2D equivalent of the regular angle, but whatever. equals the output area times the output angle. If your light is concentrated to a smaller output area, then it must be "spread out" over a larger output angle.

In other words, you can't smoosh light beams together without also making them less parallel, which means you can't aim them at a faraway spot.

There's another way to think about this property of lenses: They only make light sources take up more of the sky; they can't make the light from any single spot brighter,[7]A popular demonstration of this: Try holding up a magnifying glass to a wall. The magnifying glass collects light from many parts of the wall and sends them to your eye, but it doesn't make the wall look brighter. because it can be shown[8]This is left as an exercise for the reader. that making the light from a given direction brighter would violate the rules of étendue.[9]My résumé says étendue is my forté. In other words, all a lens system can do is make every line of sight end on the surface of a light source, which is equivalent to making the light source surround the target.

If you're "surrounded" by the Sun's surface material, then you're effectively floating within the Sun, and will quickly reach the temperature of your surroundings.[10](Very hot)

If you're surrounded by the bright surface of the Moon, what temperature will you reach? Well, rocks on the Moon's surface are nearly surrounded by the surface of the Moon, and they reach the temperature of the surface of the Moon (since they are the surface of the Moon.) So a lens system focusing moonlight can't really make something hotter than a well-placed rock sitting on the Moon's surface.

Which gives us one last way to prove that you can't start a fire with moonlight: Buzz Aldrin is still alive.

02 Feb 05:00


I searched my .bash_history for the line with the highest ratio of special characters to regular alphanumeric characters, and the winner was: cat out.txt | grep -o "[[(].*[])][^)]]*$" ... I have no memory of this and no idea what I was trying to do, but I sure hope it worked.
28 Jan 12:34

Japanese 2015 sales report: Olympus makes an impressive +12% in market share!

by 43rumors



There are some really unexpected news coming from the Bcnranking 2015 Japanese markets share report:

  1. Olympus gained 12% of market share in the mirrorless segment!
  2. Panasonic lost the third place to Canon

I want to remind you that in Japan the mirrorless market is as big as the “classic” DSLR segment. This makes the Olympus +12% jump even more impressive! The big looser is Sony that didn’t release any major sub $1,000 camera in 2015. It’s really a good news for Olympus who has been often written as “dead” in the past. Now let’s hope the PEN-F and E-M1II (Photokina) will help to keep the momentum.

On the other side Panasonic gave up the third place to Canon. And this is also a surprise if you take int account that Canon EOS-M system is quite a joke in terms of lens offerings. So I wonder what “went wrong” at Panasonic. They certainly had some nice cameras released in 2015. So maybe there is a marketing issue and not a problem in the product range?

found via Mirrorlessrumors.



26 Jan 17:08

AMD: It's time to open up the GPU

by corbet
AMD has launched "" to support open graphics development (on AMD GPUs, naturally). "The second is a commitment to open source software. The game and graphics development community is an active hub of enthusiastic individuals who believe in the value of sharing knowledge. Full and flexible access to the source of tools, libraries and effects is a key pillar of the GPUOpen philosophy. Only through open source access are developers able to modify, optimize, fix, port and learn from software. The goal? Encouraging innovation and the development of amazing graphics techniques and optimizations in PC games."
22 Jan 05:00

Possible Undiscovered Planets

Superman lies near the bird/plane boundary over a range of distances, which explains the confusion.
21 Jan 09:12

(FT5) First real world images of the new PEN-F !!!

by 43rumors



Here you have the very first real world images of the new Olympus PEN-F! And those are the camera specs known so far:

Those are the specs we got from our sources:

PEN-f announce date: 27.01
Sensor: 20mpix
50 megapixel High Res mode
Made in “honor” of the PEN-F film camera
Two kit lens: 14-42ez and 17mm 1,8
Price of kits 1497-1797Euro

The camera will be announced next week on January 27. Follow the live blogging of the event here on 43rumors on January 27 at 5-6am London time!

To get notified on all upcoming news and rumors be sure to subscribe on 43rumors here:
RSS feed:

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Thanks to the source who shared this!

For sources: Sources can send me anonymous info at (create a fake gmail account) or via contact form you see on the right sidebar. Thanks!

Rumors classification explained (FT= FourThirds):
FT1=1-20% chance the rumor is correct
FT2=21-40% chance the rumor is correct
FT3=41-60% chance the rumor is correct
FT4=61-80% chance the rumor is correct
FT5=81-99% chance the rumor is correct


19 Jan 18:01

300mm with EE-1 red dot sight review by Mirrorlessons (and new test by Wasabi, Dobas, Lazagabaster)

by 43rumors


Image courtesy: Mirrorlessons

Mirrorlessons posted the 300mm with EE-1 red dot sight review:

The most difficult thing when using a long telephoto lens is to quickly compose your frame after spotting your flying subject. The first few times I couldn’t track anything because as soon as I looked through the viewfinder, I couldn’t find my subject anymore. All my reference points were lost. One solution is to keep your camera very close to your eye with the lens aimed at the same thing you are looking at. If you see a bird flying, you start following it before moving your eye to the viewfinder. Practice and experience also help.
With the EE-1 you can take pictures while putting some distance between yourself and the camera and keeping an eye on what’s happening around your frame, something an EVF won’t allow you to do. This is also important because you can observe how the birds behave in the air, how they change direction and where they go. Once you know how to use it, it can either help you enhance your tracking abilities (meaning one day you won’t need the EE-1 anymore) or become an inseparable companion for your wildlife photography.

Marcin Dobas also reviewed the new lens and writes:

Once again I was pleased with image stabilization (it’s not easy to keep the camera steady when you are winded after constant running).I definitely appreciated the fact that a lens, with focal length equivalent of 600mm even with the converter 840mmm, can be quite comfortably held in your hands while cross-country running. That’s a big plus. It won’t come as a surprise to many readers that I don’t particularly enjoy running after deer with a full frame 600 f4. Whatever you’re into I guess. Yet again I appreciated small size of the equipment, especially compared to a SLR. However, comparing it to 400mm f / 4  APSC, while it is smaller and lighter the advantage would not be as pronounced as in the case of FF.

First sample images of a M.Zuiko 300mm F4 taken by Photographer Ángel Lazagabaster at NamenColor.
Wasabi Bob has posted some full size photos taken with the prototype Panasonic 100-400mm lens on Flickr.

Preorder links to the two new MFT lenses:
Panasonic-Leica 100-400mm lens at Amazon, Adorama, BHphoto and Panasonic. In EU at WexUK. ParkCameras.
Olympus 300mm f/4.0 PRO lens at Amazon, Adorama, BHphoto, GetOlympus. In EU at Amazon DE. WexUK. ParkCameras.


19 Jan 14:38

Nota Pública sobre debates entre calvinistas e arminianos

by Norma

Que ironia, um Zuínglio neoarminiano!

Diante da recorrência de discussões e ataques pessoais realizados no âmbito eclesiástico, na internet e nas redes sociais, especialmente entre calvinistas e arminianos para a defesa de posições teológicas, NÓS, abaixo subscritos, vimos a público emitir a presente nota:

Reconhecemos a importância e a historicidade do debate teológico dentro da tradição cristã como meio de defesa e salvaguarda da verdade e, consequentemente, da ortodoxia bíblica. 

Apoiamos a produção e a reflexão teológica realizada no ambiente da internet, em virtude de seu caráter democrático e do livre curso de ideias, como corolário da Reforma Protestante.

Repudiamos, todavia, que para a defesa de posições teológicas haja discussões e ataques pessoais realizados em nome da fé, que promovem dissensões, inimizades e escândalo ao nome de Cristo. Rejeitamos, assim, todo e qualquer conteúdo difamatório, ofensivo e jocoso, ainda que a pretexto do humor, produzido contra irmão de vertente religiosa diversa, que atente contra sua honra e imagem.

Entendemos incompatíveis com os preceitos que devem reger a conduta dos discípulos do Mestre posturas antiéticas que estimulam a zombaria, o desrespeito e o escárnio, baseado em dolo, distorções e mentiras. 

Discordamos das publicações anônimas, especialmente quando realizadas com o objetivo de provocar animosidade e discórdia entre os cristãos. Além de ser proibido constitucionalmente (Art. 5o, IV), o anonimato atenta contra os princípios bíblicos da transparência (2Co 3.18), sinceridade (Tt 2.7) e honestidade (1Tm 2.2).

Relembramos que a calúnia, a injúria e a difamação são crimes contra a honra, de acordo com o Código Penal Brasileiro, os quais não se coadunam com o caráter do verdadeiro cristão, que deve expressar o fruto do Espírito (amor, gozo, paz, longanimidade, benignidade, bondade, fé, mansidão, temperança), conforme Gálatas 5.22.

Aconselhamos os cristãos piedosos a não dar audiência a páginas e grupos que promovam tais ofensas.

Defendemos e incentivamos a exposição de convicções cristãs, bem como o debate teológico na internet e nas redes sociais, de modo irênico, ou seja, de espírito pacífico (Rm 12.18), com cordialidade e respeito. A discordância e a confrontação das ideias alheias, quando for o caso, devem ser conduzidas com ética, honestidade intelectual e de maneira objetiva, sem denegrir e atacar o oponente.

Asseveramos que a produção teológica é, sobretudo, um ato de glorificação a Deus. Discussões, pois, que se desenvolvem com o único propósito de vencer desavenças intelectuais, baseadas em disputas do ego, estão longe de honrar o nome de Cristo. A determinação bíblica de “falar o que convém à sã doutrina” (Tt 2.1) exige coragem, mas também responsabilidade, para os cristãos em geral e os pastores em particular, os quais devem ser, dentre outras coisas, “irrepreensíveis, honestos, moderados, aptos a ensinar, não contenciosos...” (1 Tm 3.2,3).

Citamos, a propósito, as palavras de J.I. Packer: “Se a nossa teologia não nos reaviva a consciência nem amolece o coração, na verdade endurece a ambos; se não encoraja o compromisso da fé, reforça o desinteresse que é próprio da incredulidade; se deixa de promover a humildade, inevitavelmente nutre o orgulho. Assim, aquele que expõe teologia em público, seja formalmente, no púlpito ou pela imprensa, ou informalmente, em sua poltrona, deve pensar muito sobre o efeito que seus pensamentos terão sobre o povo de Deus e outras pessoas".

Recomendamos, assim, a importância da constante elevação bíblica e espiritual do nível dos debates teológicos. E caso nos deparemos com um irmão em Cristo com postura inadequada e não condizente com a ética e pratica cristãs, que ele seja repreendido, mas que em tal ato não falte educação e principalmente amor.

Reconhecemos as diferenças marcantes historicamente existentes entre as tradições calvinistas e arminianas, notadamente em referência à doutrina da salvação. Todavia, tais divergências teológicas não suplantam a comunhão cristã que deve haver entre os irmãos dessas duas vertentes da cristandade. Em uníssono, à luz das Escrituras Sagradas, enfatizamos que a salvação somente se alcança em Cristo somente, mediante a graça somente, pela fé somente (Rm 3.24; Ef 2.8; Tt 2.11).

Finalizamos com a menção ao episódio em que o calvinista George Whitefield foi perguntado se esperava ver o arminiano John Wesley nos céus. Sua resposta foi: “Não. John Wesley estará tão perto do Trono da Glória, e eu tão longe, que dificilmente conseguirei dar uma olhadela nele”. Assim se tratam verdadeiros cristãos que discordam em questões de soteriologia, mas que não fazem nada por contenda ou vanglória, e consideram os outros superiores a si mesmos (Fp 2.3). E, sobretudo, estes sabem o preço custoso com que foram comprados por Cristo Jesus.

18 de janeiro de 2016.

Augustus Nicodemus Lopes, pastor da Primeira Igreja Presbiteriana de Goiânia-GO.

Altair Germano, pastor da Assembleia de Deus - Itália, escritor.

Carlos Kleber Maia, pastor da Assembleia de Deus - RN, escritor de obra arminiana.

César Moisés de Carvalho, pastor da Assembleia de Deus, teólogo, escritor.

Ciro Sanches Zibordi, pastor da Assembleia de Deus na Ilha da Conceição em Niterói - RJ, escritor e articulista.

Clóvis José Gonçalves, membro da igreja O Brasil para Cristo e editor do blog Cinco Solas.

Davi Charles Gomes, Chanceler da Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie-SP.

Euder Faber Guedes Ferreira, pastor, presidente da VINACC (Visão Nacional para a Consciência Cristã).

F. Solano Portela Neto, presbítero da Igreja Presbiteriana do Brasil, conferencista e autor reformado.

Franklin Ferreira, pastor batista, diretor geral do Seminário Martin Bucer-SP.

Geremias do Couto, pastor da Assembleia de Deus, escritor.

Glauco Barreira Magalhães Filho, pastor batista – CE, professor universitário, escritor.

Gutierres Fernandes Siqueira, membro da Assembleia de Deus – SP, editor do blog Teologia Pentecostal.

Helder Cardin, pastor batista, reitor do Seminário Palavra da Vida-SP.

Jamierson Oliveira, pastor batista, teólogo, escritor.

Jonas Madureira, pastor batista, editor de Edições Vida Nova e professor do Seminário Martin Bucer.

José Gonçalves, pastor da Assembleia de Deus - PI, teólogo, escritor.

Magno Paganelli, pastor da Assembleia de Deus – SP, teólogo, escritor.

Marcos Antônio Moreira Guimarães, professor de teologia, obreiro da Assembleia de Deus - MT.

Mauro Fernando Meister, diretor do Centro Presbiteriano de Pós-Graduação Andrew Jumper-SP.

Norma Cristina Braga Venâncio, escritora, membro da Igreja Presbiteriana do Pirangi, Natal-RN.

Paulo Romeiro, pastor, teólogo, escritor.

Renato Vargens, pastor da Igreja Cristã da Aliança de Niterói-RJ.

Solon Diniz Cavalcanti, pastor, teólogo, presidente do CEAB Transcultural.

Thiago Titillo, pastor batista, professor, escritor.

Tiago José dos Santos Filho, pastor batista, editor-chefe da Editora Fiel, diretor pastoral do Seminário Martin Bucer-SP.

Uziel Santana, presidente da Anajure (Associação Nacional de Juristas Evangélicos).

Valdeci do Carmo, obreiro da Assembleia de Deus, teólogo, coordenador do curso de Teologia das Faculdades Feics, Cuiabá/MT.

Valmir Nascimento Milomem Santos, teólogo da Assembleia de Deus, professor universitário, editor da revista Enfoque Teológico.

Wallace Sousa, evangelista da Assembleia de Deus, DF, escritor, pós-graduado em teologia, coordenador da União de Blogueiros Evangélicos.

Wellington Mariano, pastor da Assembleia de Deus, escritor e tradutor de obras arminianas.

Wilson Porte Junior, pastor batista e professor do Seminário Martin Bucer.

Zwinglio Rodrigues, pastor batista, escritor de obra arminiana.
© 2016 - Norma Braga. Todos os Direitos Reservados.
13 Jan 16:20

FSF Blogs: From TPP to saving WiFi, the FSF fights for you

Free software is built by a community of hackers and activists who care about freedom. But forces outside that community affect the work done within it, for good or ill. While we at the FSF regularly deal with GNU General Public License (GPL) violators (who we always hope are just community members waiting for a proper introduction), there is another force that can have a substantial effect on user freedom: governmental policy.

Laws, regulations, and government actions can have a lasting impact on users. The GNU GPL is based in copyright but uses its power in a "copyleft" way to actually protect users from the negative impacts of copyright, patents, and proprietary license agreements. While we can sometimes turn a law on its head to make it work for users like this, other times we are forced to push back in order to guarantee their rights. In order to achieve our global mission of promoting computer user freedom and defending the rights of software users everywhere, we must often take action to petition and protest governing bodies and their regulations. For the Licensing and Compliance Lab this is particularly relevant to our work, as these rules can affect how the licenses published by the FSF protect users. 2015 was a year filled with such actions, and 2016 will see much of the same. While our work this past year often involved issues with the US government, the scope of our work is global. As our worldwide actions on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other international agreements demonstrate, bad laws in the US have a tendency to spread around the globe. We work to educate the US public about problematic laws and regulations here, and we also work with supporters and partner organizations in countries around the world to achieve the same goals in their countries.

We want to take a moment to look back on the work we've done on the licensing team pushing for policies that protect users, and fighting to stop laws and regulations that would harm them.

TPP and the threat of international "trade" agreements

As we explain on our international trade issue page "The FSF has been warning users of the dangers of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) for many years now. The TPP is an agreement negotiated in secret nominally for the promotion of trade, yet entire chapters of it are dedicated to implementing restrictions and regulations on computing and the Internet."

But the TPP is not the only threat looming. In October, FSF's Donald Robertson gave a talk at SeaGL outlining the threats from the alphabet soup of international "trade" agreements. A widening web of negotiations is criss-crossing the globe seeking to implement many of the same terrible restrictions found in TPP.

During the past year we warned of the dangers of these international agreements and pushed activists to try and stop the fast-tracking of TPP in the US.

But we are of course not alone in our opposition to TPP. We worked together with dozens of other groups during the year. In November, we supported a rally and hackathon put on by our friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They currently have another action helping people to contact Congress in the US, telling them to stop TPP. This year, we will have much more to do in order to stop TPP and many TPP clones in the future.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act's (DMCA) anti-circumvention provisions

One of the biggest actions we took in 2015 involved fighting back against the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions. We explained the issue back in April of 2015:

Every three years, supporters of user rights are forced to go through a Kafkaesque process fighting for exemptions from the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA... In short, under the DMCA's rules, everything not permitted is forbidden. Unless we expend time and resources to protect and expand exemptions, users could be threatened with legal consequences for circumventing the digital restrictions management (DRM) on their own devices and software and could face criminal penalties for sharing tools that allow others to do the same. Exemptions don't fix the harm brought about by the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions, but they're the only crumbs Congress deigned to throw us when they tossed out our rights as users.

In the year's round of exemption proposals, we called for the repeal of these provisions and supported every proposed exemption. We called out the companies, organizations and government agencies that tried to lock users down by opposing these exemptions. When the Copyright Office failed to grant all proposed exemptions, we explained how the process was broken and called again for the repeal of the onerous law.

On this front, we had some success, as Congress and the Copyright Office are starting to listen. 2015 ended with the Copyright Office asking for public comments about the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions and the exemptions process, noting many of the criticisms we levied throughout the year. In 2016, the fight continues. We'll need your help to end the nightmare of these restrictions and their broken exemption process, rather than simply patch over the problems they create.

Saving WiFi

Unfortunately, the DMCA isn't the only government policy seeking to lock down devices and restrict the ability of users to control their own computing. In 2015, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the proposal of new rules requiring manufacturers to implement locks on all wireless devices. The FCC is charged with divvying up wireless spectrum in the US, and works to enforce regulations ensuring that devices do not exceed their mandated spectrum. But in trying to achieve that goal, they proposed rules that would in practice encourage device manufacturers to cripple their wireless-enabled hardware so that users could no longer install free software on those devices.

So the FSF and our allies fought back, starting a campaign to Save WiFi. The coalition came together and filed over 3,000 public comments in opposition to the rules. FSF licensing and compliance manager Joshua Gay and executive director John Sullivan even met with the FCC to make free software concerns heard. The work to protect WiFi continues in 2016.

Education needs freedom

Not every issue we confront in this arena is a threat to user freedom. Government policy can also work to help support free software, as we are seeing with the US Department of Education's recent push to upgrade the rules around grant-funded educational works. In October of 2015, the Department of Education called for comments on its proposed regulations, which were intended to create greater access and sharing by requiring grant-funded works to be under a free license. There was just one hitch — the regulations as proposed didn't quite get the job done, because they didn't explicitly require the freedom for downstream users to redistribute modified copies of the works. So we rallied users and free software activists to provide feedback to the Department of Education on the new rules. While no decision has yet been announced, we're excited about this new policy and our ability to help shape it to ensure that user freedom is enjoyed by all.

Working together for free software

Fighting to protect free software and user freedom is not something that we can do alone. In our actions we always seek to collaborate with activists and organizations working towards a common cause. We also want to help other groups petitioning their governments to do so in ways that respect the rights of users. Even where we are not involved in a particular action, we help organizations offer petitions or tools to users that can be utilized on a fully free system. One particular issue in this space is offering petitions or methods of writing to government representatives that do not require the use of proprietary JavaScript. We explain the issue to other organizations and, whenever possible, offer assistance in crafting online petitions that are compatible with free software ideals. Along similar lines, when it comes to submitting public comments to the US government, many agencies also require the use of proprietary JavaScript in order to submit comments online. While we push for the government to change this situation, we also offer to submit comments on behalf of the community via the post. We did this with our action on the Department of Education proposal, and we will be doing the same for our upcoming push on the DMCA.

A look ahead

While 2015 was a big year in working to improve government policy, much still needs to be done in the year ahead. The fight to stop TPP still goes on, and other "trade" agreements loom on the horizon. For the DMCA, our voice was heard in 2015, but now we need to actually bring about the necessary changes. The FCC-instigated lockdown of wireless devices still hangs over our head. We will continue to fight for the rights of users on these issues, and any new ones that spring up.

But as our work in 2015 shows, we can't do it alone. We need the help of other organizations and activists to keep up the fight. And we need you as well. Our actions would mean nothing without your voice joining in to amplify and spread the message.

In addition to supporting our actions and making your voice heard, you can help fund the work we do to amplify your concerns. Can you support this important work by making a donation to the Free Software Foundation? You can make a long-term commitment to help the FSF sustain and grow the program for years to come by becoming an associate member for as little as $10/month (student memberships are further discounted). Membership offers many great benefits, too. Other ways you can help:

  • Support the EFF's action to stop TPP.
  • Make sure to join the Defective by Design mailing list to help end the DMCA anti-circumvention madness.
  • Share this article with your friends and colleagues to help them understand the threats to user freedom posed by government policy.
09 Jan 00:00


by xkcd


What if all of the sun's output of visible light were bundled up into a laser-like beam that had a diameter of around 1m once it reaches Earth?

—Max Schäfer

Here's the situation Max is describing:

If you were standing in the path of the beam, you would obviously die pretty quickly. You wouldn't really die of anything, in the traditional sense. You would just stop being biology and start being physics.

When the beam of light hit the atmosphere, it would heat a pocket of air to millions of degrees[1]Fahrenheit, Celsius, Rankine, or Kelvin—it doesn't really matter. in a fraction of a second. That air would turn to plasma and start dumping its heat as a flood of x-rays in all directions. Those x-rays would heat up the air around them, which would turn to plasma itself and start emitting infrared light. It would be like a hydrogen bomb going off, only much more violent.

This radiation would vaporize everything in sight, turn the surrounding atmosphere to plasma, and start stripping away the Earth's surface.

But let's imagine you were standing on the far side of the Earth. You're still definitely not going to make it—things don't turn out well for the Earth in this scenario—but what, exactly, would you die from?

The Earth is big enough to protect people on the other side—at least for a little bit—from Max's sunbeam, and the seismic waves from the destruction would take a while to propogate through the planet. But the Earth isn't a perfect shield. Those wouldn't be what killed you.

Instead, you would die from twilight.

The sky is dark at night[citation needed] because the Sun is on the other side of the Earth.[citation needed] But the night sky isn't always completely dark. There's a glow in the sky before sunrise and after sunset because, even with the Sun hidden, some of the light is bent around the surface by the atmosphere.

If the sunbeam hit the Earth, x-rays, thermal radiation, and everything in between would flood into the atmosphere, so we need to learn a little about how different kinds of light interact with air.

Normal light interacts with the atmosphere through Rayleigh scattering. You may have heard of Rayleigh scattering as the answer to "why is the sky blue." This is sort of true, but honestly, a better answer to this question might be "because air is blue." Sure, it appears blue for a bunch of physics reasons, but everything appears the color it is for a bunch of physics reasons.[2]When you ask, "Why is the statue of liberty green?" the answer is something like, "The outside of the statue is copper, so it used to be copper-colored. Over time, a layer of copper carbonate formed (through oxidation), and copper carbonate is green." You don't say "The statue is green because of frequency-specific absorption and scattering by surface molecules."

When air heats up, the electrons are stripped away from their atoms, turning it to plasma. The ongoing flood of radiation from the beam has to pass through this plasma, so we need to know how transparent plasma is to different kinds of light. At this point, I'd like to mention the 1964 paper Opacity Calculations: Past and Future, by Harris L. Mayer, which contains the single best opening paragraph to a physics paper I've ever seen:

Initial steps for this symposium began a few billion years ago. As soon as the stars were formed, opacities became one of the basic subjects determining the structure of the physical world in which we live. And more recently with the development of nuclear weapons operating at temperatures of stellar interiors, opacities become as well one of the basic subjects determining the processes by which we may all die.

Compared to air, the plasma is relatively transparent to x-rays. The x-rays would pass through the plasma, heating it through effects called Compton scattering and pair production, but would be stopped quickly when they reached the non-plasma air outside the bubble. However, the steady flow of x-rays from the growing pocket of superhot air closer to the beam would turn a steadily-growing bubble of air to plasma. The fresh plasma at the edge of the bubble would give off infrared radiation, which would head out toward the horizon (along with the infrared already on the way), heating whatever it finds there.

This bubble of heat and light would wrap around the Earth, heating the air and land as it went. As the air heated up, the scattering and emission from the plasma would cause the effects to propogate farther and farther around the horizon. Furthermore, the atmosphere around the beam's contact point would be blasted into space, where it would reflect the light back down around the horizon.

Exactly how quickly the radiation makes it around the Earth depends on many details of atmospheric scattering, but if the Moon happened to be half-full at the time, it might not even matter.

When Max's device kicked in, the Moon would go out, since the sunlight illuminating it would be captured and funneled into a beam. Slightly after the beam made contact with the atmosphere, the quarter moon would blink out.

When the beam from Max's device hit the Earth's atmosphere, the light from the contact point would illuminate the Moon. Depending on the Moon's position and where you were on the Earth, this reflected moonlight alone could be enough to burn you to death ...

... just as the twilight wrapped around the planet, bringing on one final sunrise.[3]Here's an image which is great for annoying a few specific groups of people:

There's one thing that might prevent the Earth's total destruction. Can Max's mechanism actually track a target? If not, the Earth could be saved by its own orbital motion. If the beam was restricted to aiming at a fixed point in the sky, it would only take the Earth about three minutes to move out of the way. Everyone on the surface would still be cooked, and much of the atmosphere and surface would be lost, but the bulk of the Earth's mass would probably remain as a charred husk.

The Sun's death ray would continue out into space. Years later, if it reached another planetary system, it would be too spread out to vaporize anything outright, but it would likely be bright enough to heat up the surfaces of the planets.

Max's scenario may have doomed Earth, but if it's any consolation, we wouldn't necessarily die alone.

12 Jan 17:33

Down a Tolkien rabbit trail

by Sørina Higgins
Down a Tolkien rabbit trail; or, Why you shouldn’t trust Wikipedia; or, Why you should sign up for classes at Signum University right now. I am happy that I live in the 21st century–and I am delighted to be a … Continue reading →
12 Jan 00:09

Nikhil Sontakke: Multi Tenant SaaS With PostgreSQL



So you have a multi-tenant SaaS application that is using PostgreSQL as a Database of choice. As you are serving multiple customers, how do you protect each customer’s data? How do you provide full data isolation (logical and physical) between different customers? How do you minimize impact of attack vectors such as SQL Injection? How do you retain the flexibility to potentially move the customer to a higher hosting tier or higher SLAs?


1. One DB per customer

Instead of putting every customer’s data in one database, simply create one database per customer. This allows for physical isolation of data within your Postgres cluster. So, for every new customer that registers, do this as part of the workflow:

CREATE DATABASE customer_A WITH TEMPLATE customer_template_v1;

In the example above customer_template_v1 is a custom database template with all the tables, schemas, procedures pre-created.


Note: You can use Schema or Row Level Security (v9.5) to effect isolation. However, Schema and Row Level Security would only allow for logical isolation. You could go the other extreme and use a DB cluster (as opposed to a database) per customer to effect complete data isolation. But the management overhead makes it a less than ideal option in most cases.


2. Separate DB user(s) per customer

After the Database is created as mentioned above, create a unique Database user as well. This user only would have permission to one (and only one) database: customer_A.

GRANT CONNECT ON DATABASE customer_A TO customer_A_user;

Now, in your middleware code, make sure to connect to customer_A database only using customer_A_user. In other words, when a user from customer_A organization logs into your SaaS application, use appropriate database and database user name.

If you wish, you can even create separate READ and WRITE users. So, to create a read user for database: customer_A

GRANT USAGE ON SCHEMA public TO customer_A_read_user;
GRANT CONNECT, TEMPORARY ON DATABASE customer_A TO customer_A_read_user;
GRANT SELECT ON ALL TABLES IN SCHEMA public TO customer_A_read_user;

With the above you have fine grained control in terms of database access privileges and every activity from the middleware needs to decide carefully as to which role (read or read/write) needs to be used for access.

So, what DB User/Role do you use to create the new customer database in the first place? Create a special DB User (say create_db_user) just for this purpose. Audit and monitor this user’s activity closely. Don’t use this DB User for anything else. Or you can create a new user for each new database and simply specify that at database creation time. Whatever happens, don’t use the Postgres root user for your web connections!

CREATE DATABASE customer_B WITH TEMPLATE customer_template_v1 OWNER=customer_B_user;


As you may have noticed, a number of SaaS applications give vanity URLs (example: to their customers. Some other SaaS applications have a concept of ‘customerId’ which is a required field for authentication into SaaS application. The benefit is two fold:

  1. As the user logs into the SaaS application, the middleware code knows exactly which database to connect to.
  2. This also helps to keep the URL space isolated, allowing the SaaS application to start isolation at the web server level itself.


3. Separate crypto keys per customer

If you are doing any encryption within the database (say with pgcrypto), make sure to use separate encryption keys for each customer. This adds cryptographic isolation between your customer data. Finally, when it comes to encryption and key management, avoid these common encryption errors developers keep making.

Comment and do let us know what other best practices make sense for multi-tenant SaaS access with PostgreSQL.

The post Multi Tenant SaaS With PostgreSQL appeared first on SecureDB.

11 Jan 13:11

Morre David Bowie

by Norma


Antes de me tornar cristã, eu depositava minha confiança em uma divindade que oscilava entre o Deus cristão e o “deus interior” (ou força impessoal), um híbrido mal-ajambrado dominante no meio em que circulava (espírita e esotérico) — alguém a quem eu orava vez ou outra enquanto conservava a certeza de que eu mesma era meu próprio Deus.

Isso começou a ser quebrado através de uma música de David Bowie chamada Quicksand (“areia movediça”). O refrão era anunciado pelas palavras “Não tenho mais o poder”, para arrematar: “Não acredite em si mesmo”. A cada vez em que ouvia essa música belíssima (e um tanto depressiva), sentia um tiro no coração que espatifava o tal deus interior. Mostrei-a para minha melhor amiga na época — que partilhava resolutamente de meus conceitos religiosos — e observei: “Mas não é um orgulho imenso esse negócio de acreditar em si mesmo?” Era o prenúncio de que em breve eu conheceria o verdadeiro Deus.
© 2016 - Norma Braga. Todos os Direitos Reservados.
08 Jan 16:52

O filme cristão Quarto de Guerra

by Norma

Semana passada, eu e André fomos ver um "filme cristão" - categoria que vem ganhando os espaços do cinema. Eis aqui minhas impressões. War Room (em português, Quarto de Guerra) não é um mau filme. Não é uma obra-prima artística, mas também não é perda de tempo. De forma geral, o Evangelho está presente, bem como a centralidade em Jesus. A história é interessante, os atores não fazem feio, as tiradas de humor - peculiarmente focadas em maus cheiros corporais - são eficazes e se integram bem ao todo. Há algumas pentequices, mas, como não sou uma reformada antipenteca, isso não me incomodou. No entanto, saí do cinema um tanto fustigada, como se a experiência tivesse sido negativa em algum nível que não consegui imediatamente compreender.

Esse artigo (em inglês) me ajudou a entender um pouco o porquê. Richard Brody aplica ao filme o termo "sanitizado" para referir-se à ausência total de balizas culturais na história. É algo que sempre me chateou, por exemplo, na série Friends, em que os personagens vivem em um vácuo inexplicável de leituras e arte. O mesmo ocorre em Quarto de Guerra. No contexto protestante, essa falta adquire um tom mais macabro, por causa do fenômeno descrito por Francis Schaeffer em O grande desastre evangélico e que eu costumo chamar, em minhas palestras, de "alienação": o cristianismo que se pensa ortodoxo (em contraposição ao sintético) meteu-se em um gueto cultural autodefensivo cuja crítica está apenas esboçada. No Brasil, muitas denominações ainda mantêm seus membros afastados de músicas, filmes, livros etc. considerados "do mundo". Quarto de Guerra não defende essa postura, mas também não desafia as fronteiras do gueto - e uma das consequências desse alheamento é apontada pelo autor do artigo muito acertadamente: a descrição pobre do mal, com seus atrativos e suas profundidades. Sim, Jesus salva - mas do quê? No que consiste a luta cristã? Quarto de Guerra faz parecer tudo muito simples e rápido, e a isso reagi mal emocionalmente, pois nada foi simples e rápido na minha vida cristã; muito pelo contrário. Assim, saí da sala sentindo o desconforto de um filme que representa pouco minha vivência e a de incontáveis outros cristãos.

Daí minha ênfase na descrição mais acurada do mal - no caso, da idolatria -, que em breve espero começar a trazer de modo consistente para o blog.
© 2016 - Norma Braga. Todos os Direitos Reservados.
11 Jan 13:11

Morre David Bowie

by Norma


Antes de me tornar cristã, eu depositava minha confiança em uma divindade que oscilava entre o Deus cristão e o “deus interior” (ou força impessoal), um híbrido mal-ajambrado dominante no meio em que circulava (espírita e esotérico) — alguém a quem eu orava vez ou outra enquanto conservava a certeza de que eu mesma era meu próprio Deus.

Isso começou a ser quebrado através de uma música de David Bowie chamada Quicksand (“areia movediça”). O refrão era anunciado pelas palavras “Não tenho mais o poder”, para arrematar: “Não acredite em si mesmo”. A cada vez em que ouvia essa música belíssima (e um tanto depressiva), sentia um tiro no coração que espatifava o tal deus interior. Mostrei-a para minha melhor amiga na época — que partilhava resolutamente de meus conceitos religiosos — e observei: “Mas não é um orgulho imenso esse negócio de acreditar em si mesmo?” Era o prenúncio de que em breve eu conheceria o verdadeiro Deus.
© 2016 - Norma Braga. Todos os Direitos Reservados.
29 Dec 01:14

Dmitry Dolgov: Compare incomparable: PostgreSQL vs Mysql vs Mongodb

As such, there’s really no “standard” benchmark that will inform you about the best technology to use for your application. Only your requirements, your data, and your infrastructure can tell you what you need to know.

NoSql is everywhere and we can't escape from it (although I can't say we want to escape). Let's leave the question about reasons outside this text, and just note one thing - this trend isn't related only to new or existing NoSql solutions. It has another side, namely the schema-less data support in traditional relational databases. It's amazing how many possibilities hiding at the edge of the relational model and everything else. But of course there is a balance that you should find for your specific data. It can't be easy, first of all because it's required to compare incomparable things, e.g. performance of a NoSql solution and traditional database. Here in this post I'll make such attempt and show the comparison of jsonb in PostgreSQL, json in Mysql and bson in Mongodb.

What the hell is going on here?

Breaking news:

  • PostgreSQL 9.4 - a new data type jsonb with slightly extended support in the upcoming release PostgreSQL 9.5
  • Mysql 5.7.7 - a new data type json

and several other examples (I'll talk about them later). Of course these data types supposed to be binary, which means great performance. Base functionality is equal across the implementations because it's just obvious CRUD. And what is the oldest and almost cave desire in this situation? Right, performance benchmarks! PostgreSQL and Mysql were choosen because they have quite similar implementation of json support, Mongodb - as a veteran of NoSql. An EnterpriseDB research is slightly outdated, but we can use it as a first step for the road of a thousand li. A final goal is not to display the performance in artificial environment, but to give a neutral evaluation and to get a feedback.

Some details and configurations

The pg_nosql_benchmark from EnterpriseDB suggests an obvious approach - first of all the required amount of records must be generated using different kinds of data and some random fluctuations. This amount of data will be saved into the database, and we will perform several kinds of queries over it. pg_nosql_benchmark doesn't have any functional to work with Mysql, so I had to implement it similar to PostgreSQL. There is only one tricky thing with Mysql - it doesn't support json indexing directly, it's required to create virtual columns and create index on them.

Speaking of details, there was one strange thing in pg_nosql_benchmark. I figured out that few types of generated records were beyond the 4096 bytes limit for mongo shell, which means these records were just dropped out. As a dirty hack for that we can perform the inserts from a js file (and btw, that file must be splitted into the series of chunks less than 2GB). Besides, there are some unnecessary time expenses, related to shell client, authentication and so on. To estimate and exclude them I have to perform corresponding amount of "no-op" queries for all databases (but they're actually pretty small).

After all modifications above I've performed measurements for the following cases:

  • PostgreSQL 9.5 beta1, gin
  • PostgreSQL 9.5 beta1, jsonb_path_ops
  • PostgreSQL 9.5 beta1, jsquery
  • Mysql 5.7.9
  • Mongodb 3.2.0 storage engine WiredTiger
  • Mongodb 3.2.0 storage engie MMAPv1

Each of them was tested on a separate m4.xlarge amazon instance with the ubuntu 14.04 x64 and default configurations, all tests were performed for 1000000 records. And you shouldn't forget about the instructions for the jsquery - bison, flex, libpq-dev and postgresql-server-dev-9.5 must be installed. All results were saved in json file, we can visualize them easily using matplotlib (see here).

Besides that there was a concern about durability. To take this into account I made few specific configurations (imho some of them are real, but some of them are quite theoretical, because I don't think someone will use them for production systems):

  • Mongodb 3.2.0 journaled (writeConcern j: true)
  • Mongodb 3.2.0 fsync (transaction_sync=(enabled=true,method=fsync))
  • PostgreSQL 9.5 beta 1, no fsync (fsync=off)
  • Mysql 5.7.9, no fsync (innodb_flush_method=nosync)


All charts presented in seconds (if they related to the time of query execution) or mb (if they related to the size of relation/index). Thus, for all charts the smaller value is better.



Insert with configurations


Update is another difference between my benchmarks and pg_nosql_benchmark. It can bee seen, that Mongodb is an obvious leader here - mostly because of PostgreSQL and Mysql restrictions, I guess, when to update one value you must override an entire field.

Update with configurations

As you can guess from documentation and this answer, writeConcern j:true is the highest possible transaction durability level (on a single server), that should be equal to configuration with fsync. I'm not sure about durability, but fsync is definitely slower for update operations here.

Table/index size

I have a bad feeling about this

Performance measurement is a dangerous field especially in this case. Everything described above can't be a completed benchmark, it's just a first step to understand current situation. We're working now on ycsb tests to make more finished measurements, and if we'll get lucky we'll compare the performance of cluster configurations.

PgConf.Russia 2016

It looks like I'll participate in the PgConf.Russia this year, so if you're interested in this subject - welcome.