Older blog entries for roozbeh (starting at number 76)

Possible scam: A few days ago, the office phone rang and it was somebody who worked "for a human resources company". He was talking in English, which was a little weird. Most non-Iranians who wish to talk to me usually either have my cellphone number and call it first, or they just send me an email if it's not urgent.

This guy, told me that he has seen my CV and is considering to offer me a job. He said he has three or four cases in mind, but did not provide any more explanation of what the job responsiblities are or what the companies are (or any other information about them, for the matter). He said he is calling from Luxembourg, and wants me to go there (or to Istanbul if it's hard for me to get to Luxembourg, which predictably is) in an all-expenses-paid visit for two or three days to give interviews.

It seemed like a scam to me. Not that I had been ever been a victim of such scams, but it somehow looked somehow like the Nigerian scams, which even some Iranian movie directors have fallen for.

That was specially because the guy failed to provide any kind of details about what kind of job he wants to offer me, or any information about the companies he is considering me for. He only mentioned that they are interested in skilled "mathematicians and computer scientists", and that the jobs are in Europe. When I insisted, he mentioned that I may need to sign NDAs (he asked me if I knew what it is), that he won't be able to provide details otherwise. When I mentioned that it's fine, I can do that, and the time for a courier from Western Europe to reach Iran and get back is usually less than ten days, he said that ten days is too much: they usually connect the employees and the employers in three or four days!

Basically, I mentioned that it's not very easy for me to get out of the country for such an ambiguous matter, unless I have more details. I gave him my personal email address and asked him to email me with all the details he can provide. I told him that I will consider the offers then, based on reserch I would do based on the information he provided. He has not contacted me by email yet, and I consider it already late if this is usually a quick thing for him.

He probably found me over the Internet, and used a previous entry on this blog to get my office's new phone number. There is a change he may read this. There is a chance that this has been a legitimate call. If that is the case, no time is lost: he can still contact me. But I am very sceptical...

The only worry I have in posting this, is educating scammers. But I don't think they would need much more education than they currently have. There will always be easy targets, until the level of awareness of the people of the world reaches the level of awareness that the practice of law enforcement assumes of them to have.

Behdad, you quoting lyrics of a song you are listening to in your blog is very probably fair use (or fair dealing in your case).

I am not interested in random copyrighted text someone mentions in a blog. I am concerned about copyright and license violations in copyleft software, which you have not been careful with. Please be careful with those, instead of joking about my concerns.

When I release (or contribute to) free software, following the license is the minimum I ask for. I understand that you don't care about copyleft for your software and have mentioned a few times that we can consider your free software contributions public domain, but that is no reason for you not following the copyleft license of other people's works.

27 Aug 2005 (updated 27 Aug 2005 at 14:59 UTC) »
The new Iran: Iran is starting to become more and more different.

The WSIS regional civil society meeting for West Asia and Middle East, supposed to take place in Kish, for which I was invited to talk about access to information in one's native language, was banned for not enough reasons. We were only about fifty people, forty Iranians and ten foreigners (from Tajikistan and Ukraine to Sweden and South Africa), mostly without any involvement in politics. There were two former politicians and a formerly jailed journalist involved, but only as participants representing their civil organizations: they were not even speakers.

The story was like this: the night before the conference, at around midnight when all participants were already in Kish, the organizers were told that the local provincial security council has met urgently and decided that the meeting may not take place, unless some restrictions in the agenda are guaranteed (as signed) by the organizers:

  • No issue about Iran should be discussed. [Update: most of the agenda was directly or indirectly about Iran, it being the one of the largest countries in the region, making this request totally unacceptable.]
  • Complete written logs of all communications taking place in the meeting are submitted to the authorities after the meeting.
  • The organizers must accept all the responsibilities for any possible implications of the meeting, including everything discussed in the meeting, the opinions expressed, and the possible news coverage.
The organizers tried to reach higher authorities and ask for help, but did not receive any help from higher authorities either.

I can't find much about this online yet, but there is a report in Persian in Rooz and some statement in English by some of the foreign participants.

I have not signed anything about the meeting yet, not wanting to get involved in the unknown politics of the matter. I was only planning to talk about Unicode and the Wikipedia.

18 Aug 2005 (updated 18 Aug 2005 at 09:38 UTC) »
GNOME: There is some article titled “GNOME and the way forward” in today’s LWN. If you have a subscription or know someone who does, go read it. But I guess I can quote a little: “the GNOME hackers Know Too Much to listen to those cries as they follow the One True Course.” I guess it will raise some reactions in the GNOME camp.

BTW, it also mentions Jeff’s suggestion of a resignation from being GNOME’s release manager…

i18n and l10n: We now have a wiki page for the locale project.
17 Aug 2005 (updated 17 Aug 2005 at 11:21 UTC) »
Behdad, it's not that the font designers "opted" for overlapping fonts. They are simply following the Microsoft recommentation about cursive scripts, including cursive Latin. FarsiWeb fonts, for example, have a tail of exactly 70/2048 em, the exact value recommended by Microsoft.

So, no, the fonts are not broken. They are intentionally meeting the "Microsoft Typography criteria for hinting and quality in TrueType and OpenType fonts." Cutting the tails would be against the recommendations.

i18n and L10n: Apparently, this diary reaches places that email can’t. So I am reposting my and Danilo’s recent announcement here:

We have created a list for discussing of locale-related functionality in
GNOME, and creating a library, mostly using the Unicode CLDR
information, which is not available in glibc locale files. The CLDR data
is currently used in Sun's OpenOffice.Org, IBM's ICU, and Apple's Mac
OS X.
This was needed because most of these things were happening in translations instead of proper locales, mostly for two things:
1) The glibc locale data and functionality is limited to what it is, and does not include some features users would require in some locales, including genitive dates for Slavic languages and alternative calendars for middle eastern countries.
Also, glibc data doesn't include what many applications could use for better functionality, like locale-specific exemplar characters, quotation marks, country, language, locale, and timezone names, extended currency info, text direction, holiday info, and general data about which script a language is written in, in which countries there are a commercially important number of speakers, and how countries should be divided to avoid a flat list.
2) Getting any patch into glibc locale data files or subsystem would require spending a lot of time, most of in waiting. (While we understand some of the reasons behind that, we can't usually wait that much.)
The basic plan is to create a nice and clean API, and then providing easy access to commonly desired functionality such as date and time formatting, per-user customisation and broader support for locale data. We also hope that library resulting from this effort will find its use beyond Gnome, so we invite everybody else to help us define and develop it.
The list is at:
http://mail.gnome.org/mailman/listinfo/locale-list
You can find about the CLDR project at:
http://www.cldr.info/
For the discussion that led to the creation of the list, see:
http://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=307121
Looking forward to your feedback and help,
Roozbeh Pournader, Danilo Šegan
9 Aug 2005 (updated 9 Aug 2005 at 14:14 UTC) »
GNOME: Did something more than pushing translations in the CVS after a long while, updating Pango to Unicode 4.1.

i18n: Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 today, which would require to change daylight saving time in the United States:

      (a) Amendment- Section 3(a) of the Uniform Time Act of 1966 (15 U.S.C. 260a(a)) is amended--

            (1) by striking `first Sunday of April' and inserting `second Sunday of March'; and

            (2) by striking `last Sunday of October' and inserting `first Sunday of November'.

      (b) Effective Date- Subsection (a) shall take effect 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act or March 1, 2007, whichever is later.

      (c) Report to Congress- Not later than 9 months after the effective date stated in subsection (b), the Secretary shall report to Congress on the impact of this section on energy consumption in the United States.

      (d) Right to Revert- Congress retains the right to revert the Daylight Saving Time back to the 2005 time schedules once the Department study is complete.

In short, from March 1, 2007, those parts of the US observing daylight saving time, will have two more months of daylight saving.

Since US timezone is becoming complex (if you wish your software/meetings/etc. to be right during both 2006 and 2007 in the United States, you will need a complex year-dependant rule), I believe it's a good time (after GNOME 2.12 release, of course) to make sure Evolution handles the more complex timezones properly, including the Iranian one (which is based on our own calendar, which may change a day or two each year, based on the spring equinox). Some old info about the matter is here.

6 Aug 2005 (updated 4 Oct 2005 at 14:00 UTC) »

Long time, no post...

Iranian politics: We are still in a waiting mode. Not much is happening but ceremonies. Ahmadinejad became full president finally, after taking the vow in Majlis. Apparently he has a nice voice, but not really a nice face. He has been joking that "It's hard to sign it", refering to the vow. He also received a big hug from someone (I guess a parliament representative), after he stepped down from the podium.

Moving the offices: We are completing our leave from the university campus. Most of us are now established in the new office, which is about 150 square meters. It's very much near the campus, only a minute or two walking from one of the university gates.

I also updated my curriculum vitae today. It's still incomplete in some ways (not much about out non-"free software" work). I guess I should take care to update it from now on, every time something important happens: it took a long time to find some of the dates, and some of them may be very inaccurate.

16 Jul 2005 (updated 16 Jul 2005 at 13:40 UTC) »
Zaheer, while there is copyright protection in Iran, for art, literature, music, and software, it does not include any work "first published outside Iran", since Iran has not signed any of those international copyright conventions. Also, since EULAs are not binding in Iran (only signatures are), they can't restrict any copying either.

In other words, one is legally allowed to freely copy software of non-Iranian origin in Iran. As for software of Iranian origin, we even have a special software copyright law, which in practice includes changes made to software "first published outside Iran". In other words, software first published outside Iran is like public domain.

The situation has led to some companies offering Linux solutions to their customers without the source code: the GPL won't hold if the copyright doesn't.

In answer, we have taken to make sure we have patches here and there, under our own copyright, first giving a copy of the patch to someone in Iran. So, when someone sells a product including some of our code (like GNOME or Mozilla), we can theoretically claim copyright infringement and ask for following the license.

I am open for questions about the legal situation in Iran, but let me assure you that your friend will be doing a very legal thing copying non-Iranian software in Iran. But as for importing that into another country, you should check the laws of that country.

Behdad, you rock! BTW, I love a corpus where the first thing after پروژه (project) is فارسی‌وب (FarsiWeb)...

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