Month: February 2007

Sunday @ Fosdem

This Sunday, I attended only two talks. These talks were in the embedded track since I was with my brother who is interested in this. The first talk, “SH-2A Linux kernel” by Yoshinori Sato, was very difficult to follow since Yoshinori did not tell us what is the SH-2A microprocessor (it is apparently used in cars, a.o.) and his English was very bad. In the second talk, Vitaly Wool introduced XIP, a way to directly run portions of software from where it’s stored in a type of Flash memory (instead of being copied to RAM first). With XIP, you can reduce boot time (or at least the “time to splashscreen”, especially interesting in handheld devices where you want to quickly be “productive”). But you can have other occasions where speed of execution is more important than price (because the type of Flash memory used is more expensive than standard RAM). Yesterday, Jim Gettys said the OLPC laptop can boot very quickly but it was thanks to the use of LinuxBIOS (and maybe XIP?). I also liked when he took a pen to show us something on a slide and said that it’s “because my wife is here and she said it’s bad manners when I point at things with my finger”. 😉

During the afternoon, I was moderator for the Lightning Talks where people has 15 minutes to introduce their projects. This afternoon, it was about SIP Communicator (an open source VoIP and Instant Messaging client), OSSIE (a free radio software project), the OpenOffice.org port for Mac OS X, Mapyrus (a software for creating vector elements – mainly for cartography – and output them in various formats), PSPP (a free replacement for the commercial statistical package SPSS), OpenEmbedded (about how to make their porting task easier) and Mozart-Oz (a “multi-paradigm programming language”). It was nice to see all that life around free software (moreover, nearly all the speakers respected the time limit).

If you want to see how it was, you can have a look at photos on Flickr with the fosdem2007 tag (or simply fosdem). I guess slides and videos will be on the Fosdem website soon.

First trace for OpenStreetMap

OpenStreetMap is a “project aimed squarely at creating and providing free geographic data such as street maps to anyone who wants them. The project was started because most maps you think of as free actually have legal or technical restrictions on their use, holding back people from using them in creative, productive or unexpected ways.” I thought it was worth participating and more documented than the UPCT project. So I got a Locosys NaviGPS GT-11 and used it for the first time on the way to FOSDEM (and back). I did a small mistake by taking an interval between points of 30s: on a highway, at 120km/h, 30s means 1km and the road direction can change a lot. When I’ll have more time, the next step will be to do some edition and mark roads, highways, interesting landmarks, etc. Stay tuned …

The GT-11 is only a GPS data logger. It has no built-in maps, road finder, etc. That’s why I got lost a little bit while trying to exit Bruxelles 😦 But, at least, you can see your errors later.

Saturday @ Fosdem

I spent this Saturday at FOSDEM, listening to some interesting talks.

Pieter Hintjens spoke about the Status of Software Patents in Europe. As the FFII president, he should clearly be against software patents. But, although his speech went in this direction, the 3 new FFII initiatives are diluting his/its position as well as the threat (the 3 initiatives are European patent conferences, the creation of the European Software Market Association to lobby the EU and a Campaign for Ethical Patents). Let’s talk seriously: software patents are not a solution and shouldn’t be allowed ; no trade-off.

Jim Gettys talking about the One Laptop Per Child project was good and exciting. I thought that the project was just about reducing the cost of a laptop with the 100 US$ goal in mind. But, technically, no one can just give regular laptop (as we have in developed countries): they are not designed to save enough power, to resist water and dust, to be readable under the sun, … The OLPC team came with bright ideas like a CPU that can be turned off (saving power) with display still on (allowing children to read) and wireless still on too (allowing the reception and transmission of network packets). They are using Open Source software because transparency is empowering (but it also really helps reducing costs and is the only thing you can use if you want to modify and fine-tune software).

Simon Phipps‘keynote about the “liberation” of Java was disappointing. It was rather a Sun/Java commercial show than a real developers talk. Of course, they are working on the next release of Java and Sun became a corporate patron of the FSF. But nor the JDK nor the JRE are free for the moment.

During the afternoon, I saw a very nice introduction (à la Lessig) of Jabber by Peter Saint-Andre, a hypnotic introduction to Fedora by Chitlesh Goorah and Max Spevack, a clear talk about the Belgian eID on CentOS by Fabian Arrotin (although nothing was said on concerns about privacy) and finally Wim Dumon’s talk on Wt (bof).

In general, I noticed 3 general trends: more women are interested in free/open source software/movement (even more than last year), more Mac PCs are shamelessly turned on 😉 and more SLR cameras are used.

Google -vs- CopiePress, II

The Belgian Justice confirmed its original judgement by condemning Google News service to remove all articles citations from some French-speaking newspapers. The Google cache is also considered illegal in Belgium (see beginning of the story here).

In an interview with the “Echo” (Belgian) newspaper, Alain Strowel, lawyer specialised in authors’rights, said the judgement is correct but also raised several questions:

  • What is exactly behind the word “cache”? If a cached document is still formatted as the original document, I understand it could be forbidden by the law. But I guess all the search engines are using indexes where they put all the words from any webpage (regular webpage or newspaper article: it’s just HTML). What about these indexes? If they are considered as a cache, then any webpages from these newspapers shouldn’t be indexed and they’ll then be unavailable. Since they also sued Yahoo! and MSN (with much less buzz), this will mean they won’t be visible on the internet, except if you directly type their URL. Is that what they want?
  • Alain Strowel said this judgement can bring back the debate about the exceptions to authors’rights. Currently, the exceptions are those ones (in French). With all the so-called “laws against terrorism”, I fear this will mean a reduction of the number of exceptions.
  • It’s difficult to obtain web statistics on these newspapers websites. A lot of people guessed the number of visits will go down but it’s the first time a journalist (the interviewer) said this number actually decreased (and the lawyer agreed).

Finally, this whole thing won’t make me change my opinion:

  1. If you want to play and publish on the internet, get to know its rules (robots.txt, no-cache HTML tag, …) and then you can complain if something is still wrong (they even don’t know how to correctly use the simple robots.txt file)
  2. Internet is open by nature: if you really don’t want something to be read, cited, copied, etc. don’t put it on the internet.

You can read an interesting point of view on ArsTechnica: “Google defeated in Belgian copyright case; everyone but Google loses“. And one of the newspapers’news editor is inviting people to discuss about on-line newspapers; it could be interesting 🙂

PhD photo tour

When I began my Ph.D., I don’t know if Flickr existed but, at least, I didn’t know it existed. So I didn’t know about this PhD vs Girlfriend comparison nor these work/motivation/courbature vs time charts. I didn’t get a canned Ph.D. where all the techniques are already used since a long time in the lab but then it would have been too easy! Finally, after my defense, if I have the opportunity to go to the USA, I’ll get this smart car (or the plate, at least).

Btw, I discovered PhDcomics.com 😉

Tagged

I was surprised being tagged by Chris. One day, it could be interesting to study how and why people are making (web) links to each other (see the blogroll on the left, for example), what are the motivations, etc. Here, I posted a comment about recyclable bags on his blog.

Apparently, Jeff Pulver started this “blog-tag” game “in which bloggers are sharing five things about themselves that relatively few people know, and then tagging five other bloggers to be it”. I like the way he calls it a “Virtual Cocktail Party”. Is it useful? I don’t think so 😀

So here are 5 things you (probably) didn’t know about me:

  1. I am half Vietnamese, I knew a little bit of Vietnamese when I was a kid but, unfortunately, I never went there (yet)
  2. The other half of me is Belgian but I really dislike beer
  3. I bite a girl at the day care center (crèche in French) when I was around 3 because I didn’t want to give her the doll I was playing with. So the nurse bite me to show me how it hurts. I still have the mark of her teeth (and I’m sure the girl doesn’t remember this incident)
  4. I spent the last 4 years with more than 100 rats, in an office at < 16°C in winter and where two parasite frequencies (8 and 17Hz) prevented me from setting up a fully working sleep-recording system for rodents
  5. The first time I saw my brother-in-law, he began shouting at my girlfriend (and future wife at that time) so loudly she began to cry. Nice introduction! For some unknown reason, we kept this “habit” of shouting at each other from time to time.

So, now I’m tagging Ananda Falisse (what about the business side of Web 2.0?), Alexandre Dulaunoy (what about privacy in blog-tag?), Laurent Richard, Jason Dunsmore and Nicolas Nova (what about this user interaction/experience?). 😉