31.3.08

Links


To make a change to my latest blog articles, here's a post of "links".

First of all, congratulations Prt.Sc. Prt.Sc is a Portuguese blogs aggregator and I'm happy to be one of the screenies that are aggregated there. Prt.Sc is, for me, with no doubt the best information source for Portuguese geeks (since there's a big ratio of Portuguese content, I don't think it is quite suitable for non-Portuguese readers). It is now making 3 years, and I'm quite confident that this next one is going to be exciting.

Then, Merankorii. For those who still don't know, Merankorii is my own musical project. There are quite some news about it: tomorrow is the official release date of Merankorii's fifth album "A Viagem", that is going to be released both in MP3 format and as a 30-copies extremely limited CD edition with a packaging that doesn't let anyone be indiferent about it. Also, and following what happens with the third CD "Melencolia III", now "Sanguine", the fourth Merankorii album, is also available in MP3 in a "Name Your Own Price" regime: from $1 USD to $20 USD, you can choose how much you want to pay to have my music.

As some of you noticed, my recent blog post about the Document Freedom Day is generating a lot of comments, mainly from me and Microsoft's Marcos Santos, where it is being somewhat debated wether OOXML is or not suitable of being an ISO standard. It's not a surprise that the theme is being so much debated all over the internet this last few days: yesterday the vote submissions ended, and now everyone is just waiting for ISO to announce what are the results (is OOXML is aprooved as an ISO standard or not). ISO already said that the anouncement is going to happen wednesday (I wonder if they did it just to avoid having a press release mistaken as an April's Fool joke). There are some blogs doing an excelent job of tracking down all the announcements and rumors about the vote of each country, and predicting the result. By now, we all already expect OOXML to be aproved by ISO, since the chances of the result being another are dimming almost every hour.

I've already linked to my friendfeed, but I'll do it again. I'm using it more regularly, and I really like the way I use it and how I quickly get track of what my "friends" are doing. I'm also using it to post quick comments or links, so if you're fond of this posts where I give you a collection of links, you might want to follow me on friendfeed.

Some time ago I wrote about OpenCoffee and how it was (not) working in Portugal. VD decided to take a slightly different approach and ended creating "OpenPub", here in Lisbon. I really prefer this concept: people get together to have a drink (to socialize), but since you're gathering informally people with somewhat simmilar interests (or at least with interests in the same field), the socialization ends fruitous. I didn't manage to be present in any of the gatherings that happened until now, but I really hope that this starts happening even more spontaneously (with more people yelling "let's have a drink!", and doing it more frequently), and, of course, that I manage to be in one of those gatherings. The most similar thing I had recently was the dinner from the Document Freedom Day celebration here in Lisbon, and I suppose I'll have fun this weekend, at...

...Tecnonov 2008. Tecnonov 2008 is going to happen at the 5th (this saturday), whole day, in Coimbra. The entry is free, and the talks good. We'll also have free swag (t-shirts included), a Debian key-signing party, and the promise of an event that - like last year - is surely extend itself all night long. I hope to see you there!

27.3.08

Open Letter To NVIDIA

I'm all for Openess. In my last blog post I talked a little about Open Documents, this time I'm going to talk about something different: hardware. While it doesn't shock me that hardware plans are kept close and secret, I think that hardware specs should be allways open. Hardware specs is what will enable anyone to interact with the hardware you make and using all its features. A great example of why this is needed is NVIDIA: their graphics hardware don't have their specs open, and so the experience of using their hardware in systems like GNU/Linux are far from perfect. To convince NVIDIA to change their policy, there's an Open Letter to NVIDIA, saying:

We the GNU/Linux community and the undersigned, kindly request that you, NVIDIA Corporation, increase your efforts in better enabling the open-source community to develop free software drivers for your graphics hardware. Your major competitors in this market, AMD/ATI and Intel, have not only supported the community in open-source driver development efforts but they are now openly releasing hardware programming documentation.

While we are grateful that your company provides one of the best closed-source graphics drivers for Linux, it is not without its problems and prevents many users from having a truly free software platform. You have shown an open-source passion in the past when dropping the nforce-net binary blob in favor of the community-spawned forcedeth driver for Ethernet support on your motherboard chipsets. There has been a rumor that you may be developing an open-source strategy for your graphics products, so if that is the case please let us know your true intentions. Even if you were only able to open a subset of your Linux driver, this still would show a sign of solidarity to the free software world.

We stand united under the name OpenTheBlob.com, but realize that legally it may be next to impossible to open-source the binary portion of your graphics driver due to patents and preserving some intellectual property in this competitive market. What we are, however, asking you for is to support the open-source community to the fullest extent possible. The open-source "nv" driver that you provide for X is an abhorrent disaster that is limited to 2D acceleration and doesn't come without its share of limitations and shrouded code. We look to NVIDIA for providing concise programming documentation to willing open-source developers that is not encumbered by Non-Disclosure Agreements or other legal restrictions.

There is an interested group of developers at hand that are willing to contribute towards an open 3D NVIDIA driver. The Nouveau developers are committed to these free software ideals to the extent that they have spent years reverse engineering your hardware without ever receiving any funds for this immense work, but rely upon community donations. An official open-source driver could complement your binary driver, in order to provide a better "out of the box" experience on many Linux distributions and satisfying the customers -- including corporate clients -- who mandate open-source software.

In a steadfast manner, we request knowing your true commitment to the GNU/Linux and open-source communities. For everyday that you stand by idle, your competitors are continuing to refine their open-source drivers and pushing out more documentation that is better enabling the open-source community. Please let us know what is going on and join the open-source community in this effort.

If you agree with this text, please consider signing this open letter.

25.3.08

Document Freedom Day


This one is going to be short, I promise.

Tomorrow is going to the the "Document Freedom Day". I intend to celebrate it in Lisbon. If you want to celebrate it in Portugal you might be interested in checking about the events in Lisbon and Oporto. If you want to know about other countries, there's a list aggregating the events happening all over the world.

Document Freedom is an important matter. I've been a fan and user of LaTeX for more than 10 years. The main reason I liked it in the first place was the easyness of creating, writting an maintaining a document. I remember having a really old 386 laptop which only use was a LaTeX compiler, the vim editor and a DVI viewer. What starting as being "wow, this is a cool new way of doing stuff, without that boring formating crap and I'm really more produtive with it!", quickly started being a lot more things, as I stumbled upon more advantadges. See, LaTeX is an Open Format. Besides being available in any Operating System I stumbled upon, the fact that it is distributed under the terms of the LPPL, thus being free software, made it suitable for a lot of uses. Heck, I earned some real money doing translators and interpreters of, or using, LaTeX. The beauty of it was that, since it was open, anybody could read, alter, interpret or otherwise manipulate a TeX document. I was happy, but the format never was really adopted but in some specific cases or scenarios, and in the academic world (specially Mathmatics, since LaTeX has the most powerful - in my oppinion at least - way of representing math formulas). On one hand, LaTeX is only suitable to produce word processing documents, formulas or presentations. Office suites give you that, and also spreadsheets and charts. On the other hand, even if fully documented, LaTeX (and TeX) aren't standards.

I heard for the first time about ODF in 2002. Of course I knew that there were concurrent formats to those of Microsoft Office, but as soon as I heard about ODF I became more happy. No, I wasn't intending to be a ODF user. I still do my documents in LaTeX, even today. But this was - finaly - a document format, open as (La)TeX, but an "office suite format", meaning that it would also cover spreadsheets and charts. The cherry on the top of the cake, those making ODF happen wanted it to be an Open Standard. Great! I was not the only one - of course - understanding the power and importance of an Open Standard for documents. Documents in an open format - specially if regulated by a standards body, warrants you long-term access to data without legal or technical barriers. In 2004 the European Union understood its importance, and demanded from the existing vendors the existence of a document standard. The ODF work was already being done, and in 2005 ODF became an OASIS standard, a step into 2006 where it became an ISO standard. In that same year I attended to XTech '06, where I met Donna that spoke about ODF, Our Document Future. It was a great presentation in many ways: The talked about the importance of digital preservation, how can we do it, and why ODF was the best choice. She then talked about the massive adoption that ODF was already having in Australia, with the Digital Preservation front efforts. That was just the beggining: Italy adopted ODF in 2007, the same year that saw ODF 1.1 as an ISO standard (1.2 should be ready in summer 2009), and nowadays ODF is being considered and already adopted, in some cames more massively than in others, in countries like Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, France, Norway, Japan, Germany and Malaysia.

But Donna also told in her 2006's presentation that the future would bring us dark clouds in our sunshining scenario: Microsoft and OOXML. She was right. See, Microsoft has no commercial interest of adopting ODF (or any standard, for the matter). Yet, with all political pressure, it is mandatory that they support a standard... So they decided to create their own, which was aprooved as an ECMA standard in December 2006 and is now in the process of trying its aprooval as an ISO standard. Microsoft doesn't really support ODF (despite their trolls saying "but we pay for the development of converters!"): if they wanted to support the ODF standard, even if not their format of choice, ODF would be integrated in a stock instalation of their Office Suite. Also, if you considered that they were never interested in contributing into making ODF a better standard (which would be the natural action of a party interested in the field) that would serve for their technical purposes, you can't really think nor expect people to believe that Microsoft was really interested in a standard. But OOXML is worse than that: it isn't open (thus, even if it turns into a standard it will never be an open standard), is encumbered with software patents, while supposedly being a XML format (like ODF) has in its specs examples that show invalid XML, and has an incomplete specification.

I could go on and on about all the process and steps that Microsoft made this last couple of years to make OOXML a standard, refering to the way they admitedly bought votes and comitees, how issues were handled and so far, but I don't think that's useful. Last October I was invited to be the chair to a debate about ODF and OOXML. Not even one of the dozens of entities that supposedly support OOXML in Portugal were available to attend. The excuse of Microsoft, for instance, was that "during the aproval process there were made personal acusations to Microsoft workers in newspapers and blogs, so we don't have conditions in participating". This same Microsoft employee writes frequently in several blogs whenever the issue arises. But what really made me stop writting much about the issue was the fact that... it's a war I can't win, and that pisses me off. Everytime someone talks about the issue, dozens of Microsoft-payed people (they admited it) go to the blogs and flood them with lies, circular references, and anti-IBM or anti-SUN messages. They have the means and the money to do that, I don't. But I still have the truth with me, and tomorrow I'll show it. Because the world doesn't need to be controled by some corporation. The world needs Document Freedom.

22.3.08

Personal Log

After going to work on monday, I took the rest of the week as vacations. I had lot's of thoughs of what to do in this days, and despite not having done lot's of things on the mental list (like finaly visiting "Livraria Trama" or "Discoselecção", two Lisbon stores I'm planing paying a visit to for a while now, or Cascais' lighthouses), it was a fulfilling time in many ways. I also took the time to do some things I constantly want to do but lack the time for it, like watching some movies (I count eight for the vacations, until now) and series, doing some research on various topics, reading some papers, reading an awsome design magazine (this month's issue was about "music packaging design", and there wasn't a single uninteresting article in it!), buying a couple of books and reading some others.

Lately I've been having some job purposals - some more formal than others - and while lots of them were to get me involved in some thrilling projects, I'm writing this to state a curious thing: most people seem not to understand my thrill in working at Sonaecom. There's this weird idea people have that big companies only have boring jobs: in the tecnological field people seem to assume that the only jobs there are is those of "code monkeys" (in the concept that describe those as "don't think, write" kind of coding jobs). Well, I'm not even working as a coder at Sonaecom, but most of all, I don't agree with the assumption that there are no cool/"mind thrilling" jobs at big companies. If these same people think (I assume, but I might be wrong here) that there are thrilling jobs at big companies like Google or Yahoo!, why shouldn't they assume that are cool jobs in - in this case - big Portuguese companies? Besides, there's a factor that for some isn't a plus but for me it is: the scale factor. In Sonaecom I'm not liding with a couple of costumers, I'm working with lot's and lot's of them. If you factor the number of affected clients buy the enhancement you just did... Even a small thing can cause great impact. And that's thrilling - for me. All in all, it's great to have doors open, and it's great to see that, if I wanted to, I could jump from my job and get a thrilling (perheaps even better) one more or less easily. But I'm very pleased with the job I have now, and I have no intentions of changing jobs soon.

As you might have noticed (perheaps because I think I've mentioned this in my last blog posts), I've been blogging a lot less. This doesn't mean nothing - really - I'm just spending my time doing other things. I still consider myself as a blogger and I don't think that will change. But my perception about blogs or blogging might have been changing in the last few months. I've been, for instance, reflecting on the "blogs as wiki's" idea for a while. Also, since I found myself involved with "new" concepts like microblogging or lifestream, I started to realize various uses and ways to use these tools (both the "new" ones and the "old" blog). For instance, I believe that if I were to track each visitor on this blog and profile him, I would reach the conclusion that the person that uses this blog the most, in most various ways and for several different purposes, is me. And that made me, once again, reinforce my position of "blogging to myself". To give you an example, this blog entry will help me remember that I want to pay a visit to Trama or Discoselecção, the same way I just used my cellphone and this blog to see the list of cellphones I'm considering buying earlier today, or the way I used the search tool of this blog to remember the link to a Web 2.0 service I wrote about, and that I wanted to use yesterday.

Finaly, there are some things I should have done and I didn't this vacations. I still have to finish my work on the release of Merankorii's latest album "A Viagem" (from which, I'm happy to say, the packaging was a success, making me sell a couple of CD's just because of it), dedicate once again some time to the organization of "Tecnonov 2008", a Technology and Innovation conference I'm organizing and that will happen in April, and some Noori Records work (which will bring you some news). Yet, I don't think I'll dedicate the rest of my vacations to this issues, and instead will enjoy the time reading - basicly.

13.3.08

Choosing a cellphone 2008

It's time again: two years ago I choose which computer I would carry all the time would be, and now it's time to choose a cellphone again.

This time, and after a really quick grep, I came out with this possibilities:


Motorola E1000 - UMTS 2100, Bluetooth v1.1
Motorola E1070 - UMTS 2100, Bluetooth v1.2 with A2DP
Motorola V3XX - HSDPA 850 / 1900
Motorola K3 - HSDPA 2100


If you have any experience or thoughts about any of this cellphones, please leave me a comment. I'm particulary interested in knowing

  • how does it behaves while being used as a modem, via bluetooth
  • how does it's embeded browsers behaves,
  • how does Opera Mini behaves there
Thanks!

How can I get the telnet client on Windows Vista?

Windows Vista comes by default with no telnet client. To turn it on, go to:



Control Panel
> Programs and Features
> > Turn Windows features on or off
> > > Telnet Client



Why it isn't there in the first place... well, that beats the shit out of me.

11.3.08

Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing

The Vienna University of Economics and Business administration is making a study on Crowdsourcing (see my first post on the issue here). The study, to which I contributed, still isn't available, but you can read a summary of the research in this PDF. Eight crowdsourcing communities were analyzed, including SellABand (my thoughts on SellABand here). This summary doesn't give much juice about the matter, specially if you're into the concept of Crowdsouring, but yet it seems a good resource, specially for those thinking about being in the crowdsourcing market. Most of all, the summary promises that the research, when available, is a must read.

Seven Deadly Sins

sevend deadly sins

Is all over the news by now, the "Seven Deadly Sins" are supposedly going to change. Let me remind you that Pope Gregory I was the first to name the "seven deadly sins": Superbia, Avaritia, Luxuria, Invidia, Gula, Ira, Acedia. 15 centuries after, it seems that the Vatican now wants to change from this seven sins for others. These are "human sins": people will allways have the tendency to these things.

Now, despite a lot of newspapers and websites telling that Vatican wants to change the deadly sins, that is far from truth. If you read them all and cross-reference stories, you'll see that the only thing that happened is that the Vatican considers "new stuff" of sins: but the "list of sins" is infinite, we're not talking about "deadly sins" here.

News should be that the Vatican consider "polluting, genetic engeneering, being obscenely rich, taking drugs, carrying out experiments on humans, abortion, causing social injustice and pedophilia" sins, not that they're ditching the old "deadly sins" list.

7.3.08

Metaplace Stress Test

Want a sneak preview of one space-shooter games made with Metaplace? This one is entitled Uberspace, and you can see it in another stress test of the Metaplace platform to test scalability, bandwidth, and instancing within a multiplayer space.

Stop by their website at http://www.metaplace.com on Saturday, March 8 at 12:00pm (noon) PST to challenge other players in a space shooting game and help them out!

3.3.08

Quickies


One awsome year has passed. The next one will be even better.

Some people are doing one of two things: asking me if I don't have a twitter account or why am I blogging less. For those, here's my friendfeed, where you can keep track of some of my online activities.

OpenSim has now its 0.5.1 version. There's a great post about OpenSim's evolution here.

Lately I've been spending a lot of time preparing Merankorii's fifth album "A Viagem". It will be released this month (no release date set yet) in a really limited edition of 30 CD's. If you want to pre-order it, hurry up because it will sell-out pretty fast. The price is 5€ (shipment included). Also, Merankorii's third album "Melencolia III" can now be aquired in mp3 format for the price you choose, between $1 and $20.


Merankorii - A Viagem - pre-order sending an e-mail to marado@isp.novis.pt