Open source drivers for Kinect

17. December, 2010

There is now an official release for Kinect drivers for Linux (Kinect is a 3D controller for the Xbox).

I wonder when we’ll see a plugin for 3D modeling in Blender. Imagine: Shoving and pulling surfaces with your bare hands, digging ditches with your fingers, punching holes with your fist.


Oracle sells OpenOffice 3.3

17. December, 2010
OpenOffice

Image via Wikipedia

Wanna buy OO? Oracle gets in line with all the rip-offs who sell you open source software and, as a special bonus, it sells you a crippled version: For home users, you get a copy that supports just one language, one OS, no SDK, no MySQL connector. Oh, there is forum based support!

In which way is that better than the download from OpenOffice.org which I get with more features and for free?

Well, there isn’t a release on the project’s official website. I guess Oracle redefined the meaning of open source software: It’s just the source, now. Use your own compiler.

LibreOffice, here I come. They also don’t have a release but at least I feel that they’re honest and show some basic respect.


Little Brother

15. December, 2010
Little Brother (Cory Doctorow novel)

Little Brother (Cory Doctorow novel)

When I Write Like told me, I wrote like Cory Doctorow, I had to get one of his works: Little Brother.

Hm … no, I doubt that this was some clever marketing fad — there aren’t enough writers to make this worthwhile. Plus you can download the book.

Marcus is a teenager, going about his life, when he’s “caught up in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco.” What follows is funny, revolting, unsettling, witted, sometimes too realistic not to worry about. And it explains some of the more obscure and ever more relevant concepts of computer security. In a way even a non-geek can understand. And relate.

So if you want to read a few good arguments why it’s not safe to trust politicians and security experts with your security and safety, go get the book.

Recommendation: Buy.


Initiative gegen Leistungsschutzrecht

13. December, 2010

[Post in German because it’s a German issue]

Eine Gruppe von Leuten hat eine Webseite erstellt, wo man sich über das geforderte Leistungsschutzrecht informieren und nachlesen kann, warum es abzulehnen ist:

IGEL wurde in erster Linie aufgrund der Erkenntnis initiiert, dass es für ein Leistungsschutzrecht für Presseverleger weder eine Notwendigkeit noch eine Rechtfertigung gibt.

Kurzversion: Verleger wollen mehr Geld für sich, alle anderen gehen leer aus — auch wenn die Verleger natürlich behaupten, diese neue Einnahmequelle nur für die armen Autoren und Journalisten zu fordern. Komischerweise sind es die gleichen Verleger, die seit Jahren durch Drücken der Löhne für die Armut der Autoren und Journalisten verantwortlich sind. Ein Weihnachtsmärchen?


What happened to “nothing to hide, nothing to fear”?

9. December, 2010

For years, states try to sell us their new security law “enhancements” with “nothing to hide, nothing to fear.” The argument is always the same: Since you’re a good guy, why should you care for a law that is meant to hurt only the bad guys?

Along came Wikileaks. Suddenly, all the same people suddenly cry out in anger.

Um … Do they have something to hide?

It shows once more that the world isn’t as simple as those politicians try to make us believe. The truth is that if the same politicians didn’t create an atmosphere of suppression and mistrust, we wouldn’t need those laws in the first place.

In a similar way, Wikileaks is just a symptom: It raises our attention to the sore spots of the “perfect” world we live in. Wikileaks didn’t kill people. It just shows without doubt that war is never a solution but rather another problem on top of all those we already had.

But didn’t the publication of the Wikileaks documents kill dissidents?

Did it? I’m not sure how well the Internet works where the Taliban live or whether they would use such a tool — surely they assume the Internet as the work of the devil. So unless you have hard fact that any dissidents were in fact killed, let’s use ‘endanger countless lives’ – as the US government did.

Next, choosing sides in a war is a pretty sure way to get you killed. And who started the war? On which grounds? Wasn’t the whole thing just one big lie? Can you prove to me that this was the sole option for the whole world to get rid of Saddam Hussein?

COSTOFWAR says that the US spent $745 billion so far in Iraq. No matter how corrupt the old Iraq government was, if that money had been spent in bribing them to stand down and enjoy the rest of their lives in some nice place or to treat their people better, I’m sure Wikileaks would have much less to spread.

Q: How do you know for sure a politician is lying to you? A: His lips are moving.


What’s wrong with Starmind

6. December, 2010

Starmind logoI’ve been playing around with Starmind for a while. Okay, I get money for answering questions (like, say, stackoverflow.com). But recently the editor was changed for something that really sucks. edlin didn’t freak me out as much because at that time, it was hard to be better. Today, it’s hard to be so bad. As I always say: “A lot of dedication and effort was necessary to create something so crappy.”

Anyway. That’s just the technical side.

The main problem with Starmind is money. It’s not that you have to pay for an answer or get money for one. Not really. It’s greed. If I post an answer, I sell it. It’s lost. I put a lot of effort into it and it’s gone. Poof. No one can see how brilliant I am but the guy who paid me for the answer. Mankind gets dumb.

On the stackexchange sites, the question and the answers stay open for comments forever. You can build upon them. Starmind puts the knowledge into a vault. “Hey, I paid for that, get lost!”

Things like Wikipedia work because more than two people win. Richard was right. Information wants to be free.


Switzerland == snow

5. December, 2010

In my youth, I was skiing almost every weekend. I fondly remember driving into the mountains, all the snow and the smell of the air, getting in gears and then racing downhill like there was no tomorrow (or so I thought at the time).

A lot has changed since that time. Snow became scarce. Last week, we had a decent amount and it does bring nice childhood memories back.

I love snow.