So Nie

28. February, 2011

“So Nie” (pronounced like “Sony”) is German and means “never like that.” On February, 23rd, Sony ordered a raid on Alexander ‘graf_chokolo‘ Egorenkov. Alex found the master keys used in the PS3‘s broken encryption system. Epic fail for the guys who wrote the code.

Instead of simply fixing their mistake with a patch (like the other console vendors did), Sony now tries to bully the world into submission. By setting the value of the court case to 1 Million Euros, they make it deliberately impossible for Alex to defend himself in court – just to hire a lawyer would cost € 30’000.

If he could get a good one. Otherwise, it’s just wasted money because a good (expensive) lawyer can get you in jail for damaging the fists of the plaintiff with your face. Repeatedly.

Alex’ response? “If you want me to stop then you should just kill me[...]

So what’s in it for you? For starters, stop buying anything from Sony, the company which really likes to abuse their customers.

If you can’t live without your games, stop buying new games, only second hand ones. They are cheaper, as good as the new ones, you don’t need to be online to play them. And it’s an easy and efficient way to tell Sony how you feel about their behavior.

Unplug your PS3 and play only offline. If a game stops working, return it. That costs them more than you.

Spread the word. Nothing is as expensive as a bad reputation.

Read geohot’s new blog; he’ll announce donation requests there to pay for his lawyers.

The world is the place we make it or the place Sony makes it.

[Update] You might want to read this, too: What’s Happening in the Class Action Against Sony About Removing OtherOS? I really like this quote: “And the plaintiffs have been following the SCEA v. Hotz case, and they noticed what they believe are contradictions between what Sony says in that case and what it says in this one.” Oops.


Fixing Screen Refresh Problems with KDE 4.6

23. February, 2011

If you have problems with your screen in KDE 4.6 (application windows don’t get restored correctly after minimizing them; windows won’t update after a change; when overwriting selected text, part of the selected text stays on the screen; popup windows leave black boxes), try this: Switch the “Compositing Type” from “OpenGL” to “XRender” (in “System Settings” -> “Desktop Effects” -> “Advanced” tab).

As a nice side effect, this reduced the CPU usage of KWin from 10-30% to 0%.

Some desktop effects don’t work with this setting but in return, the UI feels more snappy.


Hunting The Innocent

21. February, 2011
child abuse

Image by Southworth Sailor via Flickr

How would you like if the government told thousands of people that you’re a pedophile?

Not much? Well, the “war” against child abuse just caused a little bit of collateral damage: Visitors of 84’000 domains got a warning that they tried to visit a site which is “… affiliated with creating, distributing, and/or storing child pornography.”

Oops. Imagine you spent years to create a reputation and it’s destroyed like that. That’s the reason why the law starts with the presumption of innocence. If you start from the viewpoint of “guilty,” too many innocent bystanders get harmed.

Which is what’s wrong with the current situation, no matter if it’s child abuse or war. The thought “no one is truly innocent” directly leads to the conclusion: “It doesn’t matter how many people we hurt, as long as at least one of them is guilty of something.” It’s an excuse for excessive abuse of power.

Justice means to find a balance between the abstract, idealistic demands of a law on paper and the actual, real-life situations. Bypassing justice is always unjust.


Dilbert’s Boss is Right Once

21. February, 2011

For the first time, Dilbert’s Boss gets something right: http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2011-02-20/


Persona Management

21. February, 2011

I’ve just found this disturbing blog: UPDATED: The HB Gary Email That Should Concern Us All

It’s about “persona management“, basically an “army of sockpuppets[sic]” that help to control some opinion online. It would allow a small group to appear as a large audience, contaminating the way in which we create trust and socialize.

I wonder what the counter strategy is for something like that.


TNBT: Persistence

19. February, 2011

In this issue of “The Next Big Thing”, I’ll talk about something that every software uses and which is always developed again from scratch for every application: Persistence.

Every application needs to load data from “somewhere” (user preferences, config settings, data to process) and after processing the data, it needs to save the results. Persistence is the most important feature of any software. Without it, the code would be useless.

Oddly, the most important area of the software isn’t a shiny skyscraper but a swamp: Muddy, boggy, suffocating.

Therefore, the next big thing in software development must make loading and saving data a bliss. Some features it needs to have:

  • Transaction contexts to define which data needs to be rolled back in case of an error. Changes to the data model must be atomic by default. Even if I add 5,000 elements at once, either all or none of them must be added when an error happens.
  • Persistence must be transparent. The language should support rules how to transform data for a specific storage (file, database) but these should be generic. I don’t want to poison my data model with thousands of annotations.
  • All types must support persistence by default; not being able to be persisted must be the exception.
  • Creating a binary file format must be as simple as defining the XML format.
  • It must have optimizers (which run in the background like garbage collection runs today) that determine how much of the model graph needs to be loaded from a storage.

Related Articles:

  • The Next Best Thing – Series in my blog where I dream about the future of software development

What You Don’t Know About Copyright

18. February, 2011

Rick Falkvinge has a good overview over the history of copyright in his blog:

  1. The Black Death decimates scribecraft
  2. A Vengeful Daughter Creates Censorship
  3. The Monopoly Dies – And Rises
  4. The United States and Libraries
  5. Moral rights on the Continent
  6. Hijacked By Record Industry

Odd File Names

18. February, 2011

A colleague of mine had a problem with test cases in Eclipse. When we checked, the current directory looked pretty … odd.

After closer inspection, we found this directory on his hard disk:

odd filename in a directoryAs an old Unix buff, I know that there are only two characters which are not allowed in a file: The null byte and “/”. Obviously, the rule has been broken here.

Solution: The slash you see is not the normal slash but the Unicode fraction slash.

So with the Unicode support in your file system, you can finally create files with “absolute” names. :)


So Nokia’s Dead, Too

16. February, 2011

Nokia finally submitted to the dark side. My guess is that the managers at Nokia and Microsoft fail to understand two things:

  1. People don’t get paid to use smartphones.
  2. A phone should “just work.”

At work, I get paid (a lot) to use the stuff that Microsoft shells out. That helps to ease the pain. This isn’t true for my own mobile phone. The iPhone blew all the “competition” away is because of a single fact: It’s mind-bogglingly easy to use. A lot of time and effort went into making it a pleasurable experience. When did you feel pleasure last time using something from Microsoft (the software company, not the sex shop)? Or from Nokia?

On the run, I don’t want to think how I can beat my phone into submission. I just want it to do what I have in mind without me having to tell it. Nokia didn’t care, so they have a problem. Microsoft doesn’t care; who cares for such petty details when you rake in one buck for every two you spend?

Being able to install Windows 7 on hundreds of millions of mobile devices doesn’t solve any of the inherited problems. There is a reason why Microsoft failed with their mobile OSs for years. Nokia knows how to build great hardware; only the user experience was always just the top of the reeking pile. When Apple suddenly started with something that didn’t stink, no one wanted to suffer the old crap anymore.

Especially not in two years when the first new phones will come out.


Building Eclipse from Git

16. February, 2011

Andrew Niefer blogs about Building Eclipse from Git. Unfortunately, he doesn’t explain how to do that if you’re not a committer (i.e. have a user on eclipse.org).

I’m still hoping that one day, it will be possible for people outside the Eclipse team, to be able to build Eclipse projects.


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