12.8.09

Where are we heading to?

Some interesting stuff lately:

The "Portuguese version of Google Summer of Code" is "Sapo Summerbits", with its 2009 version already going on with 10 approved projects. From those, two are quite interesting to me:

  • "Erro de Sistema" (translated to "System Error") is going to be an Open Source 3D Animation Short Movie ("open content film"), made entirely with Open Source and about Open Source. The script is already published, and the team is getting more contributors. Work on the storyboard and concept art has already started. The project will use Open Source tools like Celtx, Blender, Pencil, Debian, Ubuntu, Ardour, Audacity, LMMS, Transverso DAW, Gimp, Inkscape, Cinelerra, Kdenlive and Farmerjoe. The student behind this project is João Alberto, which you might recall as being one of the two guys who made the 3D Animation Short Movie "Playground", which I've talked about here in the past since its soundtrack was made using Merankorii tracks.
  • "Portucale" is going to be a Real Time Strategy Game about the History of Portuguese Conquests. It will be written in "C/C++" (maybe a mixture of the two?) and Javascript for user interaction with the game's interface. It will use NASM, SDL, Boost, zlib, libpng, libxml2, OpenGL, OpenAL, libogg, libvorbis, cryptopp, wxWidgets, gamin, BFD, enet and DevIL. I think it will be a fork of 0 A.D..

Facebook bought Friendfeed, supposedly to get its staff into their R&D. This is a huge blow to Friendfeed users, which - it's easy to see - aren't happy with the decision. The biggest question is wether (or, in fact, when) Friendfeed will just be shutted down. Facebook isn't a replacement for almost every Friendfeed user: there are the few of us that simply refuse to have a Facebook account (I'm in this group, as you already know if you're a regular reader of this blog), but for the others there's still the simple fact that they are two really distinct web apps with really distinct communities. Not only Friendfeed isn't replaceable by Facebook in terms of features - something that Facebook people might want to change - but specially the two services have different purposes. So, people are already planning "the future", their jump. From people asking for good methods to backup all their Friendfeed data (including their social graph), to people asking Facebook to just make Friendfeed's code Open Source, or people actually looking into alternatives. I've been looking into those alternatives myself, and the most convincing one for me was Identoo.com, because it lets you do almost everything that Friendfeed does (until now I only missed the "Hide" functionality), adaptation and migration is more or less quick, and it is mobile-friendly (heck, here it is better than Friendfeed: instead of using a fftogo-like mobile portal, I can use Identoo's website in the mobile without problems). I didn't considered in my tests one fact that makes Identoo even better: Identoo is nothing more than an installation of the Open Source platform NoseRub (similar to what Identi.ca is to Laconi.ca), which means that the development of NoseRub (thus Identoo) is transparent, and we can actually affect where is it heading to (even if not with code, just by making bug reports, suggestions, feature requests and such). Is it as good as Friendfeed? No, but it can turn out to be as good or even better, and it is good enough for when Friendfeed dies (if you, like me, won't believe that Facebook would open source Friendfeed's code). When I heard about FB buying FF I was worried, now I'm relaxed about it.

The WTF moment: Microsoft was told it can't sell "Microsoft Word" on the United Stated while it still has the ability to open XML, DOCX or DOCM files that have "custom XML" (and also pay a fine), thanks to a patent infringement. Ridiculous, like every other patent case... Of course, this being Microsoft, and them having the money they have, they'll appeal and try to rule the patent as invalid. And they'll do it again and again until they manage to win. The bad news is that they still don't see patents as bad (how could they, when they use their own patents to try to scare their competition?), just invalid (like every other patent against them would be, and neither of those patents owned by Microsoft are, for sure).

The RealDVD case is finally over, the making DVD copies program is now illegal in the United States. Yes, people can make copies of their DVDs, but they can't invent a way of doing that copy, nor use a tool to make that exact copy. Am I the only one seeing this as obviously stupid?

And the final rant of the day: two guys were convicted in UK of refusing to decrypt data. These are, as far as I know, the first two victims of 2007's law that gives authorities the power to force people to unscramble their data. "Privacy? Rights? Pfft, we can't have those if we want to take down the terrorists!"

2.8.09

SciFi

I'm an avid reader of Science Fiction since I was a kid (the great collection of SciFi books from my elder brother and specially from my elder sister were a great help for such). Many don't understand what I see on SciFi, when the response is quite obvious: SciFi is a futurology practice of telling you the possibilities of our future, an help for us to understand the choices we have today to help us shape the future. So when I read some news of today about some practices that shock someone, I usually aren't shocked: it was something already predicted by someone, and that means something. Fahrenheit 451 talks about a society where books are taken out from their owners, a couple of weeks ago Amazon decided to take out some books they sold from their "owners". 1984 is a book that talks about a society where people's houses are watched ("Big Brother is Watching You" is an expression that comes from that book). Yesterday came the news that United Kingdom are making a program to keep an watch on more than 20.000 families using CCTV cameras. Now, the question really is: do people understand what's at stake? Do they know the choices? What are they doing to make the world turn into the direction they want? For instance, it still puzzles me how can people vote the way they do...

Proud

I'm proud. Proud of doing what I do, proud of having the friends I have, proud of being the one who did what I did, or make someone do what they do. Pride isn't an ugly thing, is something fulfilling. I am proud - and feel real joy - each time I see the fruits of my doings, specially when they are things that have value by themselves, even if I don't interfere any more, not even as an observer. Does this make sense? I don't know, I only had to share this with you: lately I've been proud, because finally I'm seeing the results of my doings, the results of the fact of me being, and being the way I am.