Month: March 2006

Goodiff monitors (changes in legal documents of) service providers

GooDiff began its work a week ago and I didn’t see much news/blog posts about it. If I correctly understood, the idea behind GooDiff is to monitor changes in legal documents of (internet) service providers (like Google or Yahoo!). Indeed, service providers are often trying to change on the fly their legal documents, especially in some critical sections like privacy, copyright and alike. With GooDiff, consumers and users are now able to keep track of these changes. Thanks Alexandre!

P.S. Although the name and logo can mislead you (and misled me), the primary origin of the name “GooDiff” is not Google. The “Goo” part comes from the Gray goo (in SF, “goo” means a large mass of replicating nanomachines lacking large-scale structure, which may or may not actually appear like a drippy, shapeless mass). I am learning new words everyday!

International Sleep Day

Intl Sleep Day posterToday (March 21st) is the International Sleep Day. The Belgian Asociation for the Study of Sleep contributes to the Sleep Day by inviting sleepcenters to organise information sessions (list here).

Unfortunately, neither the University of Liege human sleep lab nor my animal sleep lab are participating (we lacked time to organise something good and we are lacking people to welcome the public). ūüė¶ But, if you have time, today, pay these sleep centers a visit.

Very small Bash scripts to retrieve multiple PDF and create a book

The National Academies Press are putting some of their books on-line. I was particularly interested in the Guidelines for the Care and Use of Mammals in Neuroscience and Behavioral Research. The only “trick” is that they provide the book one page at a time (either in HTML or in PDF format). If you want entire chapters or the whole book in one file, you have to purchase it. I think it is a fair deal (how many publishers do that?).

Now, I was sure I can automate the retrieval of PDFs and obtain one file containing the whole book. They give pages 1 up to page 209. So, I wrote this small Bash script to retrieve all the pages (all the PDFs):

# ./ -> retrieve PDFs from


while [ $c -lt 210 ]
        wget -c$c.pdf

In a few minutes, I was able to get all the PDFs. ūüôā Now, I want them all in only 1 PDF. Here, I’ll use pdfjoin (from PDFJam) to … join them. Of course, I can begin to type one big command like “pdfjoin 1.pdf 2.pdf 3.pdf ...” but I was sure there is a better solution. Again, I used a Bash script:

# ./ -> join PDFs from


while [ $c -lt 210 ]
        s="$s $c.pdf"

pdfjoin $s --fitpaper false --paper a4paper --outfile book.pdf

Now, I have a wonderful book.pdf that I can read on my computer or print on a printer. ūüôā

P.S.1: it’s not Perl but I am sure there is more than one way to do it
P.S.2: you can join the two Bash script to to everything in one go. In this case, it would be interesting to create a variable for the maximum number of PDF available (210 in the two scripts above).
P.S.3: as usual, explanations around these scripts are longer than the scripts themselves!

Pr√©sentations "Messagerie instantan√©e" et "OOo Impress" aux Namur Linux Days 2006

Les Namur Linux Days avaient pour objectifs de pr√ɬ©senter les applications libres, sous GNU/Linux et disponibles pour l’utilisateur final, leur degr√ɬ© d’utilisabilit√ɬ©, leur √ɬ©tat d’avancement et leur diversit√ɬ©.

Ma premi√ɬ®re pr√ɬ©sentation √ɬ©tait consacr√ɬ©e √ɬ† la messagerie instantan√ɬ©e sous GNU/Linux (dont Jabber !) et vous pouvez la t√ɬ©l√ɬ©charger ici (page reprenant toute une s√ɬ©rie d’informations dont la pr√ɬ©sentation en PDF).

Première diapositive sur l'IM

Ma seconde pr√ɬ©sentation √ɬ©tait consacr√ɬ©e √ɬ† Impress. Cette page reprend plus d’informations ainsi que la pr√ɬ©sentation √ɬ† t√ɬ©l√ɬ©charger.

Première diapositive sur Impress

Available for GNU/Linux and MacOS but not for Windows

Although a lot of software is available for GNU/Linux and not for Windows, I am always happy to see new ones developed for GNU/Linux but not for Windows (at least not yet). One last example: Zfone. This software “intercepts and filters all the VoIP packets as they go in and out of the machine, and secures the call on the fly”. The public beta version is already available for GNU/Linux and MacOS. Windows version will be available in mid-April (only). It would be great if Philip Zimmermann releases the source code under a free software licence (other comments and ideas in this Slashdot news).

P.S.: At FOSDEM 2005, Richard Stallman used the words “GNU Linux” to insist on the fact that software from both “groups” were associated. At FOSDEM 2006 (videos here), Richard Stallman went a step further and used the words “GNU/Linux” (pronounced “GNU slash Linux”). See also this Wikipedia article on the GNU/Linux naming controversy.

Open Access publication message

scientific ratWe, scientists, create, provide and judge the science presented to journals. While we are not paid by the publishers, we pay to get access to this science.

Publishers who concentrate more and more journals within a few companies use their oligopoly to charge more and more and earn tremendous amounts of money. They use a snobbism about impact factors and the tyranny this exerts on the career of young scientists.

We can dilute this power in a simple way. Open access is the only answer. Whenever I have to choose one reference out of several, I shall from now on choose a reference to a paper that I and my readers can access freely on the Internet PubMed. If we all do that, we shall push the impact factor of those journals (printed or not) which do not grudge us.

If you agree with this message diffuse it.

(message originally from Pr Jacques E. Dumont, IRIBHM, ULB ; links are from myself)

ISAL will celebrate Holi on 11th March

The Indian Students Association of Leuven (ISAL) will celebrate Holi on the 11th of March 2006, in Leuven (more info soon). Holi is an annual Hindu spring festival, aka. festival of colors (article from Wikipedia). Although it has Hindu roots, Holi is now celebrated by people with all religions (even by people without religion). It will be a good occasion to meet other young Indians (students or not) in Belgium, eat good food ūüôā and maybe play with colors. Of course, you are welcome; just drop a line to the Office Bearers to say you’ll come.