Older blog entries for Alphax (starting at number 12)

I find you lack of free content disturbing

Advogato is "the free software developer's advocate". I'm not a free software developer, but I'm a free content producer. Are these two things compatible? I'd really like to know why "free software" people aren't always "free content" people too! Why is it that most of the photos on Flickr or personal websites that are linked from Advogato are not under free licenses? Am I missing something here? Please, help me out. Free software and free content are supposed to be about the same thing, aren't they?

boto : Google does fun things with cookies and algorithms.

  1. Person types "mandrake linux"
  2. Person remembers the name change and types "mandriva linux"
  3. Google's algorithms go through all your search results (yes, that's what the cookie is for - lets them associate searches with "the same person") and decides that "mandrake", "mandriva" and "linux" are connected (but it knows enough about "linux" to know they're not the same)
  4. Down the track, someone will type "mandrake linux" and be asked "perhaps you want 'mandriva' instead"
  5. Person clicks "mandriva", Google associates "mandrake linux" with "mandriva"

Same way a person learns, really. However, it's still a good idea to delete your Google cookie(s) every once in a while...


I got a job for the summer, working on a DLX simulator and toolset written in Java. Should be fun...

Wikimedia Foundation fundraising drive

Yes, it's happening again. If you're a fan of Wikipedia (the big fat instant-reference to everything), or Wikimedia Commons (1 million Free media and counting), or any of the other projects, you can donate to help pay for hardware, hosting costs and bandwidth - depending on where you live, your donation may also be tax deductable. Here's how much money they've raised so far:

You can give the gift of knowledge today! Or if you're strapped for cash, you can just hop over and contribute...


In response to hypatia's recent post: Unlike other lists/groups ("Apache Women...This list is open to anyone", "Debian Women...We welcome the involvement of all people", GNOME Women's position is slightly verbose, Fedora Women don't say), WikiChix is female-only. Of course, suggestions on how to improve the ratio of female contributors on Wikipedia are welcome from anyone, but posting them to a closed list with limited membership probably isn't the most constructive way of going about things.


With any luck, I'll have a shiny (burnt? does that make it still shiny?) new 6.10 LiveCD or two kicking around the place in the next 24 hours; maybe I'll also be able to sort out my partitioning mess. I somehow (stupid SUSE 10.1) managed to put about 2MB of "free" space between hda1 (Redmond) and hda2 (swap or something); possibly there's some Thinkpad stuff in it. Why in the next 24 hours and not, say, 15 minutes? Because my fat pipe is about 20km away, and they don't open for another 9 hours.

GPG troubles

So, after upgrading to the "official" build of GPG 1.4.6 for Redmond (instead of my own, old, homebrewed version), I go to see if I can get the keyserver handlers to work with my proxy, which uses bog-standard Basic authentication (well, I think it does; telnet wouldn't lie to me, would it?); and behold, I can't make the stupid thing work. Help in the form of an email pointing me to some sort of lightweight non-caching transparent proxy (I know that GPG works with non-authenticating Squid, I've done it, but Squid is too troublesome) or other fix would be appreciated; contact details are in my profile.

Projects vanished???

According to just about every project page I've checked, they don't exist, even though they're listed on the projects page. Weird...

I don't have time for much an entry now, but:

  • lkcl, interesting that you used barcodes over RFID.
  • Burgundavia, Australia has used paper voting forever and manages to get the election results finalised within a day.

Hopefully I'll post again shortly. Meanwhile, I'll leave you with the question: am I just completely thick, or is there no halfway option when installing Ubuntu between the graphical LiveCD which gives you no choices, and the text-based alternate install CD which gives you complete freedom? Can't I have freedom AND a graphical install? Email me, preferrably encrypted, if I'm missing something...

28 Oct 2006 (updated 30 Oct 2006 at 10:07 UTC) »
Installing SUSE 10.1 - or not
Having failed to complete installation for the third, fourth, fifth (honestly, I've lost count) time, I snapped and went into #suse on Freenode. The SNR is #suse is reasonably tolerable - not as good as #freenode-social, not as bad as #ubuntu - so I went off to play games for a while with the thought of reading the scrollback to see if anything interesting had happened.

So about an hour later, I read through everything that's been happening, and I see all this stuff about using smart instead of YaST and comments that "package management is horribly broken". And then I see that the in-channel bot's advice on 10.1 is the following:

For information regarding the issues most users experience with SuSE 10.1 and how you can fix them, Please read the conversation posted here: http://spinink.net/conversation-with-new-suse-user/

The summary is quite bleak:

Novell has done what may be irreparable damage to SuSE Linux by releasing 10.1 WAY before it was ready for public consumption. I understand the need to get 10.1 out so that they could work out issues with the new package management libraries before the release of SLED 10, but this does not excuse their actions. Novell was extremely slow to respond to these issues after the 10.1 release. In fact, I would argue that they were completely ignoring the giant pink elephant in the room. The motto for 10.1 should be 'Novell SuSE Linux 10.1, We Bring You In With XGL and Send You Packing with Our Package Management.'
In their defence, SUSE people like Marcus have replied to the effect of "well, we either release it with bugs, or don't release it at all". OK, I've studied project management. I understand where he's coming from. The problem is fixable, and openSUSE 10.2 will come out in December. Still sucks though...

Anyway, I think I might have solved the installation problem: not enough RAM. The install should work if I enable /swap during installation; if it doesn't, I'll install Kubuntu...

(Thanks to aka_druid and sPiN for identifying that and suggesting the fix, and thanks to sPiN for the article; now all I need to do is file the relevant bug against YaST to "enable swap during install if present" bang my head against a brick wall...)

Edit: Turns out swap was enabled. Maybe I just need more of it. Oh well, I'll get myself a Kubunutu ISO...

26 Oct 2006 (updated 26 Oct 2006 at 14:13 UTC) »

How to find a spammer

  1. Go to the user list, http://www.advogato.org/person/index.html?start= (past about 2800 should get you to uncertified people).
  2. Open every account page.
  3. Check for spam URLs and spammer certifications. Tag those you find.
  4. Go back to step 1 and hit "next page"; continue from step 2.

Spammers found so far: Waylon, vikrantambadey, s14joe16.

Update: Wow, that was fast. I'll throw in a few more: nbzhonglin, wanglf83, technoinfosys, s0651, lisssangel, ... I'm tired!

21 Oct 2006 (updated 26 Oct 2006 at 02:51 UTC) »

Advogato stripping URLs from my notes?

Well, that's odd. On my account page, the URLs in my "notes" section appear to have been stripped. They're still in the database, but they're not being rendered. Is it because I'm not certified, or what?

Edit: I'm now certified and links are working again. Hooray on both counts.

Wikimedia news

Wikibooks, Wiktionary and Wikiversity are all getting new logos; Wikiversity is a (relatively) new project which originated on Wikibooks and currently has a stylised mortarboard as its logo. You can read more at http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Logo.

Meanwhile, I've been given another 3 jobs in various places: CheckUser on Wikimedia commons, CheckUser list admin, and English Wikipedia list admin. And I'm now a chanop on so many Wikimedia IRC channels that I can't remember them all. "The reward for a job well done is another three jobs" -- David Gerard.

Updating SUSE not recommended?

According to http://en.opensuse.org/Updating_SUSE_Linux, "Updating from one version to another is unsupported and may result in system inconsistencies. Performing distribution upgrades in the running system increases the risk of causing damage."

Does that mean that upgrading from 10.0 to 10.1 (a few packages at a time over dialup using YOU) is going to break my system?

Will I be able to resolve all of the dependency conflicts that YAST says will occur every time I think about updating a core package?

I just did some "translation" work over at lanchpad.net; translating English into Australian English. It would be nice if there was an option to copy the translations verbatim from another language...

In other news, I've decided that I'm not going to try to update to SUSE 10.1 until after exams, which is probably a good idea; finding the NVidia drivers and instructions on what to do with them was hard enough.

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