The Player of Games

All reality is a game. Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance; the same description may be applied to the best, most elefant and both intellectually and aesthetically satisfying games. By being unknowable, by resulting from events which, at the sub-atomic level, cannot be fully predicted, the future remains makkeable, and retains the possibility of change, the hope of coming to prevail; victory, to use an unfashionable word. In this, the future is a game; time is one of the rules. Generally, all the best mechanistic games - those which can be played in any sense "perfectly", such as a grid, Prallian scope, 'nkraytle, chess, Farnic dimensions - can be traced to civilisations lacking a realistic view of the universe (let alone the reality). They are also, I might add, invariably pre-machine-sentience societies.

The very first-rank games acknowledge the element of chance, even if they rightly restrict raw luck. To attempt to construct a game on any other lines, no matter how complicated and subtle the rules are, and regardless of the scale and differentiation of the playing volume and the variety of the powers and attibutes of the pieces, is inevitably to schackle oneself to a conspectus which is not merely socially but techno-philosophically lagging several ages behind our own. As a historical exercise it might have some value, As a work of the intellect, it's just a waste of time. If you want to make something old-fashioned, why not build a wooden sailing boat, or a steam engine? They're just as complicated and demanding as a mechanistic game, and you'll keep fit at the same time.

--- in "The Player of Games", Iain M. Banks

Great way of saying it. This is a book I recommend, not only for those that like SciFi, but also for those curious about gaming, game theory, or "different" social/cultural/political scenarios.

Talking about "games like life", I've been playing for quite a while an interesting web-based game called "eRepublik", and Ihave some invites, so if you want one just drop me a line. I hope I'll manage to write an extensive article about this game, but for now I'll just sum it up: A new world, with social issues, political issues, and virtually complete freedom to evolve. Here, you can be a polititian, owner of your company or employee, you have to take care of your wellness, don't forget to have food to eat, and - if you want - try to make the world a better place. Things evolve quite fast there, we're in the verge of "living" the first World War, Portugal is a fascist, almost dictatorial country, Pakistan aims to be the "worldwide country" and subject everyone to their religion, one USA state wants to be independent, India was conquered... Why don't you try out and see for yourself?


The SSH/SSL vulnerability: what you should know

I wasn't going to post about this, but it seems that, for my own sanity, I must. As you might know by now, a Debian Security Advisory came out, talking about a problem that affected the OpenSSL package, not only for Debian but for its derivatives too, like Ubuntu.

My first two remarks, and probably the most important ones for my thoughts about this issue:
  • If what you know about this issue is what you read on Slashdot, YOU'RE WRONG. Even the news itself is wrong, and the comments are clueless, written by people that don't know shit about what are they talking about. Worse than useless, that story on /. is disinformative.
  • If you think that this issue only affects users of Debian and Debian-derivatives, think twice. Any Linux/Unix/*BSD system is vulnerable that grants access to a key that was generated on an affected Debian or Ubuntu system. Erich has a simple yet good explanation on why.

Now, my stand on the issue: if you really feel the need to mock, criticize or otherwise comment about this issue, make yourself and me a favour, and avoid making a fool of yourself. In other words, find out what really happened, what is this all about and make your own oppinion based on facts, instead of just falling into the absurdity that spreaded over, saying silly stuff like "Debian does not contribute to upstream" (what a joke, did you ever read the Debian Social Contract?), or "Debian shouldn't make security fixes". As a matter of fact, John Goerzen wrote an interesting article about some of those things and why they are wrong.

So, to help you a little, here's a small list of articles you might want to read about the issue:

Yes, it was an unfortunate thing to happen. So, go fix your stuff and leave me alone.



Whom rights?

If you're an interested in the developments of the music industry like I am, you'll bump into the sentence "rights of content owners" countless times. 10,200 is the number given by Google if you search for that term. Which doesn't cease to scare me, because people are really serious about talking about it. Shouldn't they be talking about authors rights instead?

Merankorii's new CD

Talking about music, I just announced in Merankorii's blog that Merankorii's 6th release is getting out tomorrow. This is going to be a limited edition CD split with two other bands: Ancestral and Njiqahdda. A new track from the album can already be downloaded from <Merankorii's MySpace, following Merankorii's one free track per month inniciative.

NIN, Radiohead, ColdPlay...

And this leads me to another thing I was planning to blog about for quite a long time. Some people ask me, knowing my thoughts about music 2.0, the fact that I have a musical project and a micro-label, why don't I "go free". Well, going free is great. I'm a heavy supporter of free music. I have lots of music freely available, all my tracks are licensed with Creative Commons but one - that is in Public Domain. Yet, there are things you can do and things you can't. See, some people sometimes tell me that "it's hard to have a band" or that "it's hard to have a label". No - I think that they're wrong. Having one of those has never been easier. But when you say that "my band drains all my money" I have to argue that, well, probably you aren't managing it the right way. See, NIN (above all, Radiohead and ColdPlay experiments can't measure against Nine Inch Nails in terms of concept exploration and free music money making) have the means (number of "true fans", number of listeners, awareness, carreer, investment budget,...) to do what they do, the way they do. I don't take Trent Reznor any credit for being so: I'm convinced that if he hadn't those means he would manage to do what he wanted to anyway. But doing things "the NIN way" works if you're NIN, won't probably work if you're not. So, each Noori Records release works its own way, and the same thing applies to Merankorii. Surely: I could give all Merankorii music for free, earn from ads and tips. But then I couldn't manage to have profit (which gives me increasing financing budget for both the band and the label) while making physical releases, and both me and some of Merankorii's fans wouldn't be happy without those. For those that think that music must be free, that want Merankorii's tracks but not pay for them, well, they'll have'em anyway, but one track per month. Also, when you have "pay as you want" albums and you can buy the music for a price from $1 to $20 USD, you'll only have to spend a couple of dollars if you're really in a hurry.

Free Software

To end this blog post, and keeping the talk on "Free", I'll end leaving you with a great letter that I'll resume as "Free Software - making the world a better place".


Debian Barcamp-style event to happen in Portugal


At the 16th of August 2008, in Aveiro (Portugal), an event called DebianDayPT 2008 will happen, in comemoration of the 15th Aniversaty of the Debian Distribution.

This meeting aims to gather all those interested in Debian GNU/Linux distribution or in the Debian Project. Yet, it is a meeting open to all, including those not familiar with Debian or Linux.

It aims to:
  • create awareness of Linux, and Debian in particular
  • Celebrate Debian's 15th Anniversary
  • exchanging knowledge, thoughts and ideas about Debian GNU/Linux
They're going to be Presentations, Workshops and networking opportunities. It will start at 10am and end by 17:45.

Know more about this event at http://www.debianpt.org/debiandaypt.