Saturday, March 29, 2008

hear, hear

"Twenty years later I find computer security, frankly, to be kind of boring. It's tedious. The first time you do something - it's science. The second time it's engineering. The third time it's just being a technician. I'm a scientist. Once I do something, I want to do something else."


Microsoft takes on the free world (Roger Parloff, Fortune)

[N]ow there's a shadow hanging over Linux and other free software, and it's being cast by Microsoft. The Redmond behemoth asserts that one reason free software is of such high quality is that it violates more than 200 of Microsoft's patents. And as a mature company facing unfavorable market trends and fearsome competitors like Google, Microsoft is pulling no punches: It wants royalties. If the company gets its way, free software won't be free anymore. (...) Revealing the precise figure for the first time, they state that FOSS infringes on no fewer than 235 Microsoft patents. It's a breathtaking number. (...)

The free world appears to be uncowed by Microsoft's claims. Its master legal strategist is Eben Moglen, longtime counsel to the Free Software Foundation and the head of the Software Freedom Law Center, which counsels FOSS projects on how to protect themselves from patent aggression. Moglen contends that software is a mathematical algorithm and, as such, not patentable. (The Supreme Court has never expressly ruled on the question.) In any case, the fact that Microsoft might possess many relevant patents doesn't impress him. "Numbers aren't where the action is," he says. "The action is in very tight qualitative analysis of individual situations." Patents can be invalidated in court on numerous grounds, he observes. Others can easily be "invented around." Still others might be valid, yet not infringed under the particular circumstances. (...)

Furthermore, FOSS has powerful corporate patrons and allies. In 2005, six of them - IBM, Sony, Philips, Novell, Red Hat and NEC - set up the Open Invention Network to acquire a portfolio of patents that might pose problems for companies like Microsoft, which are known to pose a patent threat to Linux. So if Microsoft ever sued Linux distributor Red Hat for patent infringement, for instance, OIN might sue Microsoft in retaliation, trying to enjoin distribution of Windows. It's a cold war, and what keeps the peace is the threat of mutually assured destruction: patent Armageddon - an unending series of suits and countersuits that would hobble the industry and its customers.

"It's a tinderbox," Moglen says. "As the commercial confrontation between [free software] and software-that's-a-product becomes more fierce, patent law's going to be the terrain on which a big piece of the war's going to be fought. Waterloo is here somewhere."
Leitura complementar: The Total Growth of Open Source

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

for any excuse

Milton Friedman:
I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it's possible. The reason I am is because I believe the big problem is not taxes, the big problem is spending. The question is, "How do you hold down government spending?" Government spending now amounts to close to 40% of national income not counting indirect spending through regulation and the like. If you include that, you get up to roughly half. The real danger we face is that number will creep up and up and up. The only effective way I think to hold it down, is to hold down the amount of income the government has. The way to do that is to cut taxes.

'Tis but a scratch

Parece que o exército da República Popular da China andou por aí a matar dezenas de tibetanos. Jerónimo de Sousa, grande defensor do direito de soberania dos iraquianos face ao imperialismo norte-americano, assim como dos direitos humanos dos prisioneiros de Guantánamo e Abu Ghraib, está preocupado com a possibilidade de que esta insurreição (tibetanos maus! sentem! rebolem!) no território ocupado pela RPC em 1950 tenha como objectivo comprometer a realização dos jogos olímpicos em Pequim. Comovente.

Adenda: PCP vota sozinho contra condenação da violência no Tibete

A brief history of violence

A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, artigo baseado na apresentação:

Once again, Steven Pinker returns to debunking the doctrine of the noble savage in the following piece based on his lecture at the recent TED Conference in Monterey, California.

This doctrine, "the idea that humans are peaceable by nature and corrupted by modern institutions—pops up frequently in the writing of public intellectuals like José Ortega y Gasset ("War is not an instinct but an invention"), Stephen Jay Gould ("Homo sapiens is not an evil or destructive species"), and Ashley Montagu ("Biological studies lend support to the ethic of universal brotherhood")," he writes. "But, now that social scientists have started to count bodies in different historical periods, they have discovered that the romantic theory gets it backward: Far from causing us to become more violent, something in modernity and its cultural institutions has made us nobler."

Pinker's notable talk, along with his essay, is one more example of how ideas forthcoming from the empirical and biological study of human beings is gaining sway over those of the scientists and others in disciplines that rely on studying social actions and human cultures independent from their biological foundation.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

It's a trap!

Jornal publica opiniões sobre reformas do governo

O presidente cubano decidiu abrir o jornal oficial Granma à opinião dos cidadãos do país seja ela contra ou a favor das reformas que estão a ser promovidas pelo governo cubano.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pringao Howto (o Windows-es-fácil-Howto)

É sempre apropriado recordar os clássicos:
En este documento veremos qué es un pringao, es decir, alguien que le compra, instala o arregla un ordenador a un familiar, conocido o amigo sin cobrar, y que a partir de ese momento se convierte en un esclavo dedicado a mantener de por vida el equipo de aquel a quien ayudó (en teoría de forma puntual) desinteresadamente. Además este equipo lleva Windows (casi siempre) y es una cuna de problemas, dolores de cabeza y pérdidas de tiempo.

Con este Pringao-Howto espero que los pringaos se autoreconozcan y se ayuden a sí mismos, así como evitar que se generen futuros pringaos. Léelo. Si crees que se parece en algo a la historia de tu vida, ya lo sabes, eres un pringao. No debemos sentir vergüenza de haber sido pringaos, ya que esta condición aparece precisamente por ser buenas personas y estar dispuestos a ayudar. Este documento es un ejemplo real de cómo una persona se convierte en pringao, desde sus orígenes hasta que se harta, con las conclusiones de cómo debemos actuar para evitar tal atropello.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Escolas na Idade Média

Medieval Business Schools, no Organization and Markets:

Contrary to popular belief, formal education in medieval times was not restricted to the clergy and the very wealthy. Nor was theology the most popular subject. Independent schools, unaffiliated with any particular religious body or royal institution and staffed by lay people, were common, and even taught business administration (writing letters, drafting contracts, keeping the books).

So says Nicholas Orme in Medieval Schools: From Roman Britain to Renaissance England (...) In Britain, grammar schools were often supported by wealthy patrons and were open to students of modest means.

Richard Dawkins contra Papai Noel

De Pedro Sette Câmara, n'O Indivíduo:

O problema do livro de Dawkins é que ele não é, pelas poucas páginas que li, um capítulo de um diálogo sério entre ateus e religiosos. É, como sempre, um ataque àquilo que a religião não é, àquilo que a religião não diz; é o professor de Cambridge contra a interpretação da tia velha, não o professor de Cambridge contra o catedrático de Teologia da Universidade de Paris do século XIII. E por isso mesmo é banal, repetindo a velha impressão de que muitos ateus são apenas crianças malvadas que se comprazem em destruir nas outras, mais inocentes, a crença em Papai Noel. Como crianças, fazem isso também por achar que a descoberta de que Papai Noel não existe é o verdadeiro e último salto para a maturidade.

Then the rain came down

Mark Brown - The Journey Continues ft Sarah Cracknell

Friday, March 14, 2008

la cara oculta de la luna

Haveria coisas mais astutas e menos boçais que comentar sobre estes 33 minutos de excelente material para sátira que o nosso querido líder (salvo seja) proporcionou aos portugueses ontem à noite, mas dada a falta de tempo para mais, fico-me por afirmar que a minha parte preferida da entrevista é mesmo pouco antes dos 12:00, quando o Zé de cá telefona ao Zé de lá, numa demonstração extraordinária de portuñol técnico. Pues, muy bien.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Novos resultados do WMAP

WMAP gives thumbs-up to cosmological model

With the analysis of two further years of WMAP data announced last week, that view of the early universe has just got even more detailed. As well as placing tighter constraints on parameters such as the age and content of the universe, the five-year WMAP data provide new, independent evidence for a cosmic neutrino background. (...)

“The discovery of the neutrino background tells us that our models are pretty much right,” says cosmologist Pedro Ferreira of the University of Oxford. “Stuff from particle physics that you’re not putting in by hand just drops out of them — that’s pretty cool if you ask me.” (...)

Among the tens of other cosmological parameters that have been tightened by the new WMAP results are the age of the universe (13.73 ± 0.12 Gyr) and its content, reinforcing the unsettling fact that 95% of the universe is made of stuff that science cannot explain. According to WMAP, neutrinos made up 10% of the universe at the time of recombination, atoms 12%, dark matter 63%, and photons 15%, while dark energy was negligible. Today, by contrast, 4.6% of the universe is made of atoms, 23% dark matter, 72% dark energy and less than 1% neutrinos.

“The WMAP5 data don’t change anything we thought, they change what we know,” says Hinshaw. “Despite the enigmas of dark matter and dark energy, the more different threads we can weave together [such as determining the number of neutrinos based on different mechanisms that occur at separate cosmic epochs], the more confident we become in the basic picture.”

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Pequena nota v3.0

It's a cookbook. Parece que lancei os foguetes antes da festa. Há poucos meses, o meu monitor estragou-se e por isso estava a usar um CRT da IBM que já tinha mais de 10 anos e dava choques eléctricos quando se zangava. Na quarta-feira, à semelhança da placa gráfica, da fonte de alimentação e do LCD que o dito monitor estava a substituir, também este último adormeceu, tal como o Norwegian blue, e não houve despertador que o voltasse a acordar. Depois de umas engenharias às três pancadas, este vosso escriba lá conseguiu ligar o computador à também já velhinha televisão da sala, usando-a para ser um consumidor racional e tentar maximizar a sua função utilidade, sujeito à limitação imposta pelo respectivo orçamento (tradução pt-pt: sondar o mercado de monitores). Nos dois dias posteriores à compra, o feliz (bem, depende da perspectiva) monitor contemplado recusou-se obstinadamente a trabalhar à resolução nativa de 1440x990, que é widescreen (16:10). Os meus poderes de Uri Geller foram absolutamente inúteis para conseguir vergar o magnífico e esplendoroso controlador da ATI e pô-lo a dar pontapés. A coisa só foi lá com o ainda em desenvolvimento radeonHD. sax2 -r -m 0=vesa deve ter sido a coisa que mais escrevi nos últimos dias. Pesadelo recorrente da semana: Hard disk failure

Anteriores: pequena nota v1.0; pequena v2.0