May 05, 2008

eBuyer Order

I’m going to do an eBuyer order tomorrow evening at some point. If you want in, to share shipping, ping me in IRC.


March 17, 2008

Hear From Your MP

So I just ran across HearFromYourMP, a website which regularly informs MPs that there are people who want to be told what they are up to in Parliament. I’ve signed up for both constituencies in which I could vote, and suggest that you do the same if you’re interested.


March 02, 2008

Bazaar Sprint

Canonical and the Bazaar guys have been kind enough to invite me to the Bazaar sprint happening in London this week. So I head off tomorrow morning, and should be getting back Saturday afternoon.

I should still be contactable by phone, email and/or IRC if I’m needed especially urgently for anything.


February 28, 2008

Lazyweb: mplayer's OGG support is not good

So I’ve been watching some of the talks from Linux.Conf.Au (to tide me over until the FOSDEM talks become available), which are all in the Ogg/Theora format.

My video player of choice is mplayer. However, it’s Ogg/Theora support seems to be awful0 (skipping backward often breaks, skipping forward occasionally does). Lazyweb, my question is this: Is there some way to fix this, or is it a problem upstream?

[Footnote 0: Not good, Meg, not good.]


Free Software vs. Open Hardware

Writing about web page http://rowetel.com/ucasterisk/

I watched the video of a talk from Linux.Conf.Au yesterday, “How To Build An Embedded Asterisk IP-PBX”.

Within this, David Rowe talks about how he got interested in starting such a project, how it was realised, and what future plans are (all of which was very interesting). The IP04 is the primary product produced thus far, which is based entirely on open hardware (much of it designed by Rowe himself). What was most interesting, for me, was the motivation for the project that David talked about when mentioning open hardware, that he wanted to drive the market price of VoIP hardware down.

Coming from someone who was talking a lot about liking FOSS (though using the O more than the F), this seems like an unusually capitalist argument. The economic argument for it is obvious: if I can design my hardware for free (by using the open hardware designs) then I can still make a decent profit while massively undercutting any of my competitors.

From the limited results that have been seen so far (production of the open hardware is still being ramped up), this model works for hardware. So, why is it that we don’t see the same results with Free Software? Is it because the economic model for open hardware is massively different from that for Free Software? I don’t believe so.

I believe it is because the markets in which the vast majority of Free Software competes are much broader than the market in which the IP04 and it’s forthcoming friends compete. The open hardware, in this case, has a very specific purpose, it is meant to connect phone calls (and, in fact, Asterisk, on which it is based, is one of the more successful Free Software projects in commercial terms). Free Software, however, rarely strives merely to replace proprietary software but instead tries to improve it.

Improvement obviously requires change. Once the Free Software has changed from what it was originally intended to replace, it is no longer a direct competitor. It may fulfil all of the functions that are really important to certain applications of it (normally those that the developers, be they paid or otherwise, are most interested in) but inevitably supports some use cases of the original in a worse manner0.

And, of course, a lot of Free Software was never written to replace proprietary software (i.e. Rhythmbox was intended to be a media player, not necessarily a direct replacement for Windows Media Centre), which means it has even less common ground to compete on. In fact, projects that started like this often require a complete paradigm shift, which means that differing parties are arguing at complete cross-purposes.

I’m not sure how to conclude this post, other than to suggest that Free Software projects that aim to replace a proprietary project tend to do better, within traditionally proprietary markets, than those that attempt to truly innovate. How does this reflect on what projects individuals choose to start and what projects companies who are competing in those markets choose to contribute to?

[Footnote 0: This, naturally, leads to the problems with benchmarking competing software products, each camp chooses the 10% of their project which is unique and better than the other, and spends time trying to convince people that that’s what’s really important.]


February 27, 2008

Doing Deborah

In an attempt to reduce the level of off-topic conversation, I decided to take notes at this week’s meeting of Ærick The Cell (known publically as The Chaplaincy Cell). I thought that a further incentive to taking decent notes would be the publication of them on my blog (though, as with previous blog-related efforts, I have no idea how long this will last). I’ve amended the notes slightly in places to reflect my intent more accurately. Without any more ado:

Doing Deborah (hot)
  • Means `bee’, or `word’
  • What happens:
    • Deborah commands Barak, at the behest of God, to attack an oppresor, Sisera
    • He refuses to do so unless accompanied by Deborah
    • The honour wil not be Barak’s (it will be a woman’s)
    • They go
    • They attack
    • Sisera’s men panic
    • A rout
    • Sisera escapes on foot
    • Helped by Jael, who later betrays and kills him
    • Sisera delivered into the hands of a foreign woman with no real motivation for killing him
How does God subvert expectations?

Examples: Jesus, the hobbits in The Lord Of The Rings, Jews in concentration camps, Paul, Peter, the Focus satanist (Ravi Holy)


January 06, 2008

Films, Films, Films

Since I last blogged, I’ve watched quite a few more films. Rather than try and write a poor review of each one, I’ll list them along with a rating out of 5 stars. The star ratings mean, roughly, the following:
– I couldn’t stand this film. There are no circumstances under which you could force me to watch it again (I have poison in a capped tooth in the eventuality that you try).
– I didn’t like this film, but might watch it again if other people were.
– I quite liked this film. I’d be happy to watch this film again, but I might not go out of my way to do so.
– I enjoyed this film. I’d choose this film over one I hadn’t seen, if given the choice.
– I loved this film. I’d go out of my way to watch this film if available.

There are also a few films I’ve marked as wanting to watch again. These are films that I’m not convinced I ‘got’ on the first watching, and so want to give them another chance.

Anyhow, enough of this gay banter. On with the films!

January 1st 2008

January 2nd 2008

January 3rd 2008

January 4th 2008

January 5th 2008


December 31, 2007

My Day In Review

Today I have mostly been… watching films.

Kiki’s Delivery Service

Kiki’s Delivery Service is the fifth anime film to come out of the Studio Ghibli studio. This was the dubbed version, as opposed to the original Japanese audio, but as it was showing on FilmFour at 1pm this is not wildly surprising0.

Speaking of surprising, this film was certainly that. Having watched some anime previously, I thought I knew what to expect. This was a children’s story with a happy ending, which put it into yet another pigeon hole. Despite my presuppositions, it never strayed into over-sentimentality and there weren’t any vomit-inducingly sweet moments.

I should add the disclaimer that this is the first Miyazaki film1 I’ve (knowingly) watched. If that were not the case, perhaps I would have expected better things of it.

This is a touching film that I wholly recommend to everyone.

Easter Parade

Easter Parade starts with Fred Astaire and Ann Miller’s Broadway stars (Don Hewes and Nadine Hale respectively) breaking a long standing partnership. To prove that he doesn’t need Miller to be successful, Astaire claims he can make a star out of the next dancer he meets. The next dancer he meets is, rather conveniently, Judy Garland’s Hannah Brown.

The plot of the film is a little sparse (though I still found there was enough to keep me going). This is more than made up for, however, by there being 12 numbers (one of them a montage of several numbers) in the 107 minutes of the film.

This was the first of Fred Astaire’s many post-’retirement’ roles. It fell to him as Gene Kelly was injured shortly before filming was to begin. Astaire is, needless to say, incredible in this film. I especially enjoyed his solo dance performance, the very first dance number of the film, “Drum Crazy”.

I also enjoyed Garland’s performance, which was something of a revelation to me, this being the first of her roles I have seen in which she has not been called Dorothy.

I would recommend this film wholeheartedly for musical lovers and, because I love Fred Astaire, probably everyone else as well.

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

There’s not really much to be said about this film that hasn’t been said before. I didn’t love this film as much as other people seem to, nor consider it to be as much of a masterpiece though I certainly enjoyed it. However, this suggests to me that I need to give it another chance to sink in when I’m less tired, rather than reflecting negatively on the film.

0 The Wikipedia article on the film suggests that the subbed version is based on the dub script as opposed to the original, so this is perhaps unavoidable without more Japanese lessons than I’m willing to commit to.

1 The second Miyazaki film I intend to see is Princess Mononoke, which is showing at 12:35pm on Channel 4 tomorrow/later today.


October 15, 2007

Sleepless Doctor Who Trivia

I’m currently lying in bed, sleepless. So, what better to while away the time than with a largely irrelevant piece of Doctor Who trivia.

In Episode 11 of Season 2, ‘Fear Her’, a scribble that is created by ‘Her’ (her first creation IIRC). The Doctor claims that this:

breaks the ice at parties

This is, of course, the immortal line from Eric Idle’s Monty Python sketch.

Now this is not entirely irrelevant, as this line was what made me fall in love with the new series (although I haven’t seen the old series). I’ll leave you with another Monty Python quote, which is a reasonable description of how I felt watching this episode:

It really makes you want to shout out, this is good! This is real!


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