Search Results: "eugen"

2 April 2017

Eugene V. Lyubimkin: experiment: optionalising shared libraries without dl_open via generating stub libraries

Reading the discussion on debian-devel about shared library dependencies in C/C++, I wondered if it's possible to link with a shared library without having an absolute dependency on it.

The issue comes often when one has a piece of software which could use extra functionality the shared library (let's call it biglib) provides, but the developer/maintainer doesn't want to force all users to install it. The common solution seems to be either:

- defining a plugin interface and a bridge library (better detailed at here);

- dlopen/dlsym to load each library symbol by hand (good luck doing that for high-level C++ libraries).

Both solutions involve dlopen at one stage or another to avoid linking with a biglib, since if you do that, the application loader will refuse to load the application unless biglib and all of its dependencies are present. But what if application is prepared to fallback at run time, and just needs a way to be able to start without biglib?

I went ahead to check what if there was a stub library to provide all symbols which the application uses (directly or indirectly) out of biglib. Turns out that yes, at least for simple cases it seems to work. I've published my experimental stub generator at .

For practical use, we'd also need a way to tell the loader that a stub library has to be loaded if the real library is not found. While there is many ways to instruct the loader to load something instead of system libraries (LD_PRELOAD, LD_LIBRARY_PATH, runpath, rpath), I found no way to load something if a system library was not found. In other words, I'd like to say "dear linker/loader, when you're loading myapp: if you didn't find in any of system directories configured, try also at /usr/lib/myapp/stubs/ (which'd contain stubbed". Apparently, nothing like "rpath-fallback" exists right now. I'm considering creating a feature request for such a "rpath-fallback" if the "optional libraries via stubs" idea gets wider support.

28 December 2016

Clint Adams: Sigil Loma Saturnina Reed-Stuewe

Are they from Gresham? I asked. Nope, he said, Sigil is Portland proper, Fritz is Eugene, Elfbreath is somewhere in a trailer on the coast.
Posted on 2016-12-28
Tags: umismu

28 October 2016

Alessio Treglia: The logical contradictions of the Universe



Is Erwin Schr dinger s wave function which did in the atomic and subatomic world an operation altogether similar to the one performed by Newton in the macroscopic world an objective reality or just a subjective knowledge? Physicists, philosophers and epistemologist have debated at length on this matter. In 1960, theoretical physicist Eugene Wigner has proposed that the observer s consciousness is the dividing line that triggers the collapse of the wave function[1], and this theory was later taken up and developed in recent years. The rules of quantum mechanics are correct but there is only one system which may be treated with quantum mechanics, namely the entire material world. There exist external observers which cannot be treated within quantum mechanics, namely human (and perhaps animal) minds, which perform measurements on the brain causing wave function collapse [2]. The English mathematical physicist and philosopher of science Roger Penrose developed the hypothesis called Orch-OR (Orchestrated objective reduction) according to which consciousness originates from processes within neurons, rather than from the connections between neurons (the conventional view). The mechanism is believed to be a quantum physical process called objective reduction which is orchestrated by the molecular structures of the microtubules of brain cells (which constitute the cytoskeleton of the cells themselves). Together with the physician Stuart Hameroff, Penrose has suggested a direct relationship between the quantum vibrations of microtubules and the formation of consciousness.

<Read More [by Fabio Marzocca]>

17 January 2016

Lunar: Reproducible builds: week 38 in Stretch cycle

What happened in the reproducible builds effort between January 10th and January 16th:

Toolchain fixes Benjamin Drung uploaded mozilla-devscripts/0.43 which sorts the file list in preferences files. Original patch by Reiner Herrmann. Lunar submitted an updated patch series to make timestamps in packages created by dpkg deterministic. To ensure that the mtimes in data.tar are reproducible, with the patches, dpkg-deb uses the --clamp-mtime option added in tar/1.28-1 when available. An updated package has been uploaded to the experimental repository. This removed the need for a modified debhelper as all required changes for reproducibility have been merged or are now covered by dpkg.

Packages fixed The following packages have become reproducible due to changes in their build dependencies: angband-doc, bible-kjv, cgoban, gnugo, pachi, wmpuzzle, wmweather, wmwork, xfaces, xnecview, xscavenger, xtrlock, virt-top. The following packages became reproducible after getting fixed: Some uploads fixed some reproducibility issues, but not all of them: Untested changes: Once again, Vagrant Cascadian is providing another armhf build system, allowing to run 6 more armhf builder jobs, right there. (h01ger) Stop requiring a modified debhelper and adapt to the latest dpkg experimental version by providing a predetermined identifier for the .buildinfo filename. (Mattia Rizzolo, h01ger) New X.509 certificates were set up for and using Let's Encrypt!. Thanks to GlobalSign for providing certificates for the last year free of charge. (h01ger)

Package reviews 131 reviews have been removed, 85 added and 32 updated in the previous week. FTBFS issues filled: 29. Thanks to Chris Lamb, Mattia Rizzolo, and Niko Tyni. New issue identified: timestamps_in_manpages_added_by_golang_cobra.

Misc. Most of the minutes from the meetings held in Athens in December 2015 are now available to the public.

11 November 2015

Bits from Debian: New Debian Developers and Maintainers (September and October 2015)

The following contributors got their Debian Developer accounts in the last two months: The following contributors were added as Debian Maintainers in the last two months: Congratulations!

27 October 2015

Lunar: Reproducible builds: week 26 in Stretch cycle

What happened in the reproducible builds effort this week: Toolchain fixes Mattia Rizzolo created a bug report to continue the discussion on storing cryptographic checksums of the installed .deb in dpkg database. This follows the discussion that happened in June and is a pre-requisite to add checksums to .buildinfo files. Niko Tyni identified why the Vala compiler would generate code in varying order. A better patch than his initial attempt still needs to be written. Packages fixed The following 15 packages became reproducible due to changes in their build dependencies: alt-ergo, approx, bin-prot, caml2html, coinst, dokujclient, libapreq2, mwparserfromhell, ocsigenserver, python-cryptography, python-watchdog, slurm-llnl, tyxml, unison2.40.102, yojson. The following packages became reproducible after getting fixed: Some uploads fixed some reproducibility issues but not all of them: pbuilder has been updated to version 0.219~bpo8+1 on all eight build nodes. (Mattia Rizzolo, h01ger) Packages that FTBFS but for which no open bugs have been recorded are now tested again after 3 days. Likewise for depwait packages. (h01ger) Out of disk situations will not cause IRC notifications anymore. (h01ger) Documentation update Lunar continued to work on writing documentation for the future website. Package reviews 44 reviews have been removed, 81 added and 48 updated this week. Chris West and Chris Lamb identified 70 fail to build from source issues. Misc. h01ger presented the project in Mexico City at the 3er Congreso de Seguridad de la Informaci n where it became clear that we lack academic papers related to reproducible builds. Bryan has been doing hard work to improve reproducibility for OpenWrt. He wrote a report linking to the patches and test results he published.

20 June 2015

Lunar: Reproducible builds: week 4 in Stretch cycle

What happened about the reproducible builds effort for this week: Toolchain fixes Lunar rebased our custom dpkg on the new release, removing a now unneeded patch identified by Guillem Jover. An extra sort in the buildinfo generator prevented a stable order and was quickly fixed once identified. Mattia Rizzolo also rebased our custom debhelper on the latest release. Packages fixed The following 30 packages became reproducible due to changes in their build dependencies: animal-sniffer, asciidoctor, autodock-vina, camping, cookie-monster, downthemall, flashblock, gamera, httpcomponents-core, https-finder, icedove-l10n, istack-commons, jdeb, libmodule-build-perl, libur-perl, livehttpheaders, maven-dependency-plugin, maven-ejb-plugin, mozilla-noscript, nosquint, requestpolicy, ruby-benchmark-ips, ruby-benchmark-suite, ruby-expression-parser, ruby-github-markup, ruby-http-connection, ruby-settingslogic, ruby-uuidtools, webkit2gtk, wot. The following packages became reproducible after getting fixed: Some uploads fixed some reproducibility issues but not all of them: Patches submitted which did not make their way to the archive yet: Also, the following bugs have been reported: Holger Levsen made several small bug fixes and a few more visible changes: strip-nondeterminism Version 0.007-1 of strip-nondeterminism the tool to post-process various file formats to normalize them has been uploaded by Holger Levsen. Version 0.006-1 was already in the reproducible repository, the new version mainly improve the detection of Maven's files. debbindiff development At the request of Emmanuel Bourg, Reiner Herrmann added a comparator for Java .class files. Documentation update Christoph Berg created a new page for the timestamps in manpages created by Doxygen. Package reviews 93 obsolete reviews have been removed, 76 added and 43 updated this week. New identified issues: timestamps in manpages generated by Doxygen, modification time differences in files extracted by unzip, tstamp task used in Ant build.xml, timestamps in documentation generated by ASDocGen. The description for build id related issues has been clarified. Meetings Holger Levsen announced a first meeting on Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015, 19:00 UTC. The agenda is amendable on the wiki. Misc. Lunar worked on a proof-of-concept script to import the build environment found in .buildinfo files to UDD. Lucas Nussbaum has positively reviewed the proposed schema. Holger Levsen cleaned up various experimental toolchain repositories, marking merged brances as such.

8 June 2015

Lunar: Reproducible builds: week 6 in Stretch cycle

What happened about the reproducible builds effort for this week: Presentations On May 26th,Holger Levsen presented reproducible builds in Debian at CCC Berlin for the Datengarten 52. The presentation was in German and the slides in English. Audio and video recordings are available. Toolchain fixes Niels Thykier fixed the experimental support for the automatic creation of debug packages in debhelper that being tested as part of the reproducible toolchain. Lunar added to the reproducible build version of dpkg the normalization of permissions for files in control.tar. The patch has also been submitted based on the main branch. Daniel Kahn Gillmor proposed a patch to add support for externally-supplying build date to help2man. This sparkled a discussion about agreeing on a common name for an environment variable to hold the date that should be used. It seems opinions are converging on using SOURCE_DATE_UTC which would hold a ISO-8601 formatted date in UTC) (e.g. 2015-06-05T01:08:20Z). Kudos to Daniel, Brendan O'Dea, Ximin Luo for pushing this forward. Lunar proposed a patch to Tar upstream adding a --clamp-mtime option as a generic solution for timestamp variations in tarballs which might also be useful for dpkg. The option changes the behavior of --mtime to only use the time specified if the file mtime is newer than the given time. So far, upstream is not convinced that it would make a worthwhile addition to Tar, though. Daniel Kahn Gillmor reached out to the libburnia project to ask for help on how to make ISO created with xorriso reproducible. We should reward Thomas Schmitt with a model upstream trophy as he went through a thorough analysis of possible sources of variations and ways to improve the situation. Most of what is missing with the current version in Debian is available in the latest upstream version, but libisoburn in Debian needs help. Daniel backported the missing option for version 1.3.2-1.1. akira submitted a new issue to Doxygen upstream regarding the timestamps added to the generated manpages. Packages fixed The following 49 packages became reproducible due to changes in their build dependencies: activemq-protobuf, bnfc, bridge-method-injector, commons-exec, console-data, djinn, github-backup, haskell-authenticate-oauth, haskell-authenticate, haskell-blaze-builder, haskell-blaze-textual, haskell-bloomfilter, haskell-brainfuck, haskell-hspec-discover, haskell-pretty-show, haskell-unlambda, haskell-x509-util, haskelldb-hdbc-odbc, haskelldb-hdbc-postgresql, haskelldb-hdbc-sqlite3, hasktags, hedgewars, hscolour, https-everywhere, java-comment-preprocessor, jffi, jgit, jnr-ffi, jnr-netdb, jsoup, lhs2tex, libcolor-calc-perl, libfile-changenotify-perl, libpdl-io-hdf5-perl, libsvn-notify-mirror-perl, localizer, maven-enforcer, pyotherside, python-xlrd, python-xstatic-angular-bootstrap, rt-extension-calendar, ruby-builder, ruby-em-hiredis, ruby-redcloth, shellcheck, sisu-plexus, tomcat-maven-plugin, v4l2loopback, vim-latexsuite. The following packages became reproducible after getting fixed: Some uploads fixed some reproducibility issues but not all of them: Patches submitted which did not make their way to the archive yet: Daniel Kahn Gilmor also started discussions for emacs24 and the unsorted lists in generated .el files, the recording of a PID number in lush, and the reproducibility of ISO images in grub2. Notifications are now sent when the build environment for a package has changed between two builds. This is a first step before automatically building the package once more. (Holger Levsen) was upgraded to Debian Jessie. (Holger Levsen) A new variation is now being tested: $PATH. The second build will be done with a /i/capture/the/path added. (Holger Levsen) Holger Levsen with the help of Alexander Couzens wrote extra job to test the reproducibility of coreboot. Thanks James McCoy for helping with certificate issues. Mattia Rizollo made some more internal improvements. strip-nondeterminism development Andrew Ayer released strip-nondeterminism/0.008-1. This new version fixes the gzip handler so that it now skip adding a predetermined timestamp when there was none. Holger Levsen sponsored the upload. Documentation update The pages about timestamps in manpages generated by Doxygen, GHC .hi files, and Jar files have been updated to reflect their status in upstream. Markus Koschany documented an easy way to prevent Doxygen to write timestamps in HTML output. Package reviews 83 obsolete reviews have been removed, 71 added and 48 updated this week. Meetings A meeting was held on 2015-06-03. Minutes and full logs are available. It was agreed to hold such a meeting every two weeks for the time being. The time of the next meeting should be announced soon.

6 July 2014

Eugene V. Lyubimkin: (Finland) FUUG foundation gives money for FLOSS development

You live in Finland? You work on a FLOSS project or a project helping FLOSS in a way or another? Apply for FUUG's limited sponshorship program! Rules and details (in Finnish): .

29 June 2014

Russ Allbery: Review: The Wilding

Review: The Wilding, by C.S. Friedman
Series: In Conquest Born #2
Publisher: DAW
Copyright: 2004
Printing: July 2005
ISBN: 0-7564-0202-6
Format: Mass market
Pages: 551
In Conquest Born is a rather odd space opera, featuring an interstellar war between two great empires that culminates in an intensely personal struggle between leaders of the two sides. It has one of the most intensely misogynistic societies in science fiction (the villains, yes, but weirdly ambiguous villains), genetic breeding programs for telepaths, and a host of unlikable but oddly fascinating characters. I thought it was weaker on re-read than I remembered it being originally, but it's still singular enough in memory that I wanted to read the sequel. The Wilding picks up in the same universe a century and a half later. I expected more of a direct connection to the plot of In Conquest Born, but I think this book could be read on its own. (This is good, given how the plot of In Conquest Born tends to slip out of my memory, despite how unique the book is.) The Azeans and the Braxins are, of course, still at war, an on-again, off-again affair that neither side seems likely to ever win. But the Azeans have forbidden psychic powers and driven all psychics underground, if they still exist at all. They are supposedly too unstable to be allowed in the carefully constructed Azean society. Tathas is Braxin, but not from the ruling Braxan tribe. He is caught practicing old rituals of his native tribe and escapes sentence of death by going on the Wilding, an ancient practice of leaving Braxin culture to find new genetic material and bring it back to strengthen their species. Or, put in less euphemistic terms, to find and rape a woman and bring back the resulting child, although apparently retrieving a genetic sample would also work. Did I mention the misogynistic society part? Still there. Zara, the other primary protagonist, is an Azean mediator who, as the book is opening, starts developing psychic powers. This is a rather serious problem that gets her suspended from her job. Her check of her own genetic records (the old-school SF obsession with eugenics is also still there) leads to the discovery that she's an identical twin, whose sister was kidnapped as an infant under mysterious circumstances and apparently by underground psychics. Zara decides to go in search of her. As with In Conquest Born, this book is full of deeply unpleasant societies and world views. Also as with In Conquest Born, I don't think Friedman intends any of them to be held up as examples of correct politics or behavior. What makes both of these books unusual is that neither she nor the characters seem to be making any attempt to construct a third alternative that would be better. The secret society of psychics has a different appeal, but it's not clear the characters would want to be part of it either, and it's quite possible that they're still responsible for a lot of the crap that's going on in the galaxy. The book feels like it ought to be political, as these societies are clearly broken and deeply abusive (the Braxins more obviously than the Azeans, but they're both creepy), but it mostly isn't. Instead, The Wilding is focused on individual people trying to make their way in this world. Those people come from varying strata of these societies. Zara and Tathas are there throughout; other characters crop up briefly with their own viewpoints and then often go away again or are killed. I think Friedman is going for a story of raw emotion and a tight focus on individual actions, with little in the way of clean morality or broader morals. And yet... the final act of the protagonists in the book is a political act that seems aimed at making the universe a better place. In a way, this is a very cynical book: there is a tremendous amount of manipulation and political maneuvering, and it's hard to see any cause here that one can fully support. This is all rather similar to In Conquest Born, but what held the previous book together was its backbone of obsessive vengeance and the spectacle of two intelligent people from utterly different societies locked in all-out emotional and physical combat. The Wilding doesn't have that. It has characters with strong motives and strong emotions, but none of them are the sort of epic, transcendent emotions that propel mythic heroes at each other. This is a more prosaic and personal book, which means the drama isn't strong and sweeping enough to make the reader forget the deep unpleasantness that's going on around them. The Wilding feels less like a clash of titans and more like personal quests for identity against a universe full of awful people and worse systems. It also retains, in the Braxin, aggressive male-dominant sexuality just this side of a Gor novel, but here that feels seedier and even more squirm-inducing than it did in In Conquest Born. The Wilding is even more ambiguous about the ethics of that sexual and misogynistic abusiveness; Tathas partly gives it up, but this is presented more as an accommodation to another culture than as a real engagement with the inherent abusiveness of Braxin society. I still have no idea whether and to whom I would recommend In Conquest Born. I'm less torn about The Wilding: don't bother. It's a lesser work in all respects, it shares some of the problems with too many characters and an occasionally incoherent plot, and I had even more trouble with the horrible societies Friedman creates than I did in the previous book. And it doesn't have the same counterbalance of epic, uncontrolled emotions and characters who seem to transcend the story they're in. Instead, it feels more like a story of damaged people in an awful universe who are meddling through as best they can while being manipulated by the people with real power. It got more depressing the more I thought about it, and the ending doesn't salvage the story. Rating: 4 out of 10

19 June 2014

Joachim Breitner: Another instance of Haskell Bytes

When I gave my Haskell Bytes talk on the runtime representation of Haskell values the first time, I wrote here It is in German, so [..] if you want me to translate it, then (convince your professor or employer to) invite me to hold the talk again . This has just happened: I got to hold the talk as a Tech Talk at Galois in Portland, so now you can fetch the text also in English. Thanks to Jason for inviting me!
This was on my way to the Oregon Summer School on Programming Languages in Eugene, where I m right now enjoying the shade of a tree next to the campus. We ve got a relatively packed program with lectures on dependent types, categorical logic and other stuff, and more student talks in the evening (which unfortunately always collide with the open board game evenings at the local board game store). So at least we started to have a round of diplomacy, where I am about to be crushed from four sides at once. (And no, I don t think that this has triggered the illegal download warning that the University of Oregon received about our internet use and threatens our internet connectivity.)

14 October 2013

Eugene V. Lyubimkin: Cupt 2.6

Cupt 2.6 is released to Debian unstable. Some prominent changes, citing from NEWS-file:

8 October 2013

Gergely Nagy: Onto the margin of a summer of code

Just as last year, BalaBit applied to become a mentoring organisation for this year's Google Summer of Code, but like the year before, were not accepted. Instead, the openSUSE project was kind enough to give us two slots of their own, similarly to the year before - we are very thankful for this, and this year, both of the projects we took were closed successfully! So much so, that one of them was already merged into syslog-ng 3.5.0beta2, and the other one is being prepared for getting merged into the Incubator. I also helped out a little with Clojure & Leiningen packaging, although my contributions there were minimal at best.On the whole, I really liked this year's programme, our students accomplished a lot, and the whole summer was a great experience in itself, I learned a lot about mentoring, and about working with other people, people who are very new to the codebase they're working on. I would like to summarise what I learned and observed this year, in the hopes that others may find them useful too.This year, we set fairly ambitious goals for our students: they had to write a Redis and a MySQL destination, both of which presented interesting challenges to the students. None of them had prior experience with the syslog-ng source code, and their programming knowledge was mostly in C#, not plain old C which syslog-ng is written in. They also had to dabble a bit in the bowels of our overly complex and a few Makefiles. Wasn't an easy task.In the beginning, we tasked the students to write proof of concept code, to get familiar with the libraries they will need to use - no syslog-ng involved at this point. This sounded like a good idea on paper, but without clear goals and milestones, a lot of time was spent on this task, and the students ran into a few dead-ends which could have been avoided, if we, the mentors, were more careful. This resulted in a reasonably poor first term, frustration and caused many a sleepless nights. We had to change our approach if we wanted to see the projects succeed.So we sat down with the students, and took one big leap: in person, we explained some of the internals of syslog-ng, did code reviews with them, and so on. But the best thing we did was what my colleague (and the main mentor), Viktor Tusa, came up with: we wrote a test script, that started syslog-ng, configured it, and ran tests against it. Students had to make their code pass the test by the next in-person meeting. This helped tremendously, and increased the speed they worked at by an order of magnitude at least. We kept developing the test script further, and so did the projects improve.ConclusionsThere are a couple of conclusions I arrived at as the programme concluded, things we (or other mentors, as I plan to participate as a student next year) will need to improve upon in the coming years.

14 July 2013

Dirk Eddelbuettel: Slides from Rcpp talk in Sydney

The Sydney Users of R Forum (SURF) were kind enough to host me two days (well, three with the traveling ...) ago for an hour-long talk on Rcpp. Apparently, it set a new attendance record for this R user group. My thanks to Louise and Eugene for hosting a terrific meeting, and taking me out for a bite and drink afterwards. I have now put up my slides on my talks / presentations page for anyone else to peruse.

21 June 2013

Dirk Eddelbuettel: Upcoming Rcpp talk in Sydney

The Sydney Users of R Forum (SURF) will be hosting me for a talk on July 10. The focus will be Rcpp for R and C++ integration, and the intent is to have this be really applied with lots of motivating examples. Organizers Louise and Eugene were able to move this to a slightly larger room as the initial capacity of 50 was filled almost immediately. As of right now, the talk page shows a few available slots. If you're in the Sydney are in early July, why not register and swing by? If you're not in the area, the Rcpp Events page lists other upcoming talks too.

27 May 2013

Bits from Debian: Debian welcomes its 2013 crop of GSoC students!

We are proud to announce that 16 students have been accepted to work on improving Debian this summer through the Google Summer of Code! This is great news, following our 15 accepted students in 2012, and 9 accepted students in 2011. Here is the list of accepted students and projects: If you're interested in one of the projects, please follow the links and talk directly to the students or the mentors, or come hang out with us on IRC. Welcome everyone, and let's make sure we all have an amazing summer!

19 April 2013

Eugene V. Lyubimkin: Cupt: reason chains, functional selectors and crowdfunding experiment via

While release of Debian wheezy getting is closer and closer, Cupt's development version also moves forward bit by bit.

A couple of particularly interesting features -- showing full reason chains and functional selectors -- may be summarized by this screenshot.

And, as a fresh experiment, I placed a feature to widen functional selecting capabilities to Catincan, a (new?) crowdfunding platform for open source projects. Let's see how it goes.

21 February 2013

Eugene V. Lyubimkin: DPL game

Inspired by The order is chosen by a fair dice roll.

Wouter Verhelst
Russ Allbery
Bill Allombert
Paul Wise

15 September 2012

Eddy Petri&#537;or: Why a lack of skepticism is dangerous...

Some of my Romanian readers might know that for the last two years I've got involved in the skeptical movement to such a degree that I am a co-producer of a bi-weekly podcast on science and skepticism (in Romanian) called Skeptics in Romania . Some might even be regular listeners of the show.

(There isn't much to see now visually on the site, but me and the other people behind the project have some ongoing plans to change that.)

In spite of our modest site, up until now we had some successes, one of them being the publication of an article on us in a known Romanian printed publication and another being the invitation to a live show face to face with Oreste Teodorescu, a well known Romanian mysticist and woo promoter.

During that live show we managed to show a demonstration (video below, in Romanian) of how astrology gives the impression of working, without actually working, and, taking into account we had no prior TV camera experience and that it was a live show, I think we managed an honourable presence.

<iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="420"></iframe>

We also have a series of interviews in English with some really interesting people: Dr. Eugenie Scott, Prof. Christopher French, Prof. Edzard Ernst, Samantha Stein and others. We did these interviews at Denkfest 2011, in Zurich, and we integrated the translated (voice over) interviews in our podcast. The conlusion is that most of our activities revolve around the podcast, so let me tell you more about that.

The podcast has a somewhat fixed structure, it starts with a conversation between ourselves, then we have a segment on the history of science, technology, skepticism and woo, and then we have a segment called The dangers of not being skeptical . In this segment we present cases of people who lost their lives, their health, their money or any combination of the former because they were duped into some scam, science-y sounding non-science, unfounded claim or some other woo.

Having lost recently my brother-in-law to a form of cancer known as Hodgkin lymphoma, I became especially sensitive about miracle-cure claims for cancer, and this section of the show has lately seen its fair share of such cases. Honestly, if there could be a way to prosecute the irresponsible, ignorant and/or cynical people promoting all sorts of quack "therapies", especially for cancer*, I would really like to see it happen. But there isn't, and we're trying the best accessible approach, informing the public.

During my brother-in-law's last two years of his life, he went through lots of chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions, repeated periods of hospitalisation, and lots of drugs. This is the best of what we currently have for treating and curing most forms of cancer, and too many times this isn't enough. I can't even imagine how stressful and discouraging it must feel when the best of what we have doesn't help.

Here is where the desperation and hopes of patients and their families meet the purely irresponsible cynical or ignorant promoters of woo and quack therapies. Because it takes either an ignorant or a really cynical (I really feel this word isn't enough) person to prey on the suffering of other people to make easy money under the false pretence of offering a cure.

It almost happened to my brother-in-law and his family, because they almost went for some herbal concoction promoted as a cancer cure on some forum, blog or page of a seller of this fake therapy. It was really hard for me to make them understand why using such a product it not advisable, not even in parallel with the medical treatment due its possible counter effect or interactions with the real medical treatment, without them getting the wrong idea that I wasn't trying to help. While trying to be brief and informative not to lose their attention, I told them how "natural" doesn't necessarily mean "good" (uranium, lead and Irukandji's venom are all natural), and how plants are drugs because they all contain chemical substances (and no, "chemical" does not mean "human made" or "artificial") which could interact with the medical treatment.

But most people don't even have the chance of having close by a person with a more science-leaning thought process and a skeptical mind. Those unfortunate people are the most vulnerable people and constitute the biggest chunk of the victims of baseless pseudo-cures or pseudo-treatments.

On our last show, I presented the case of Yvonne Main, a cancer suffering patient who mistook an invasive carcinoma for a cyst, and irdologist Ruth Nelson for a real healthcare giver.

Yvonne Main, died from an invasive carcinoma
after seeking help from a iridologist,
and delaying real medical treament for 18 months

Yvonne, after seeking medical advice from a person that essentially promotes the dead idea of guessing diseases by looking at the eyes**, used natural treatments for about 18 months and, after all this time, her carcinoma grew to a size of 10 to 11 cm, eating through her skull and causing damage which was later attempted to be countered through bone transplant from her ribs.

Ruth Nelson wasn't prosecuted in any way and continues her practice of quackery unharmed.

This is not the only case, nor even one case from a select few where woo and quackery lead to grave consequences for patients. There are many, many more; they're so many that even after splitting them in categories they seem too many per category, especially when you realise these are only the findings of, essentially, a single man:

This is part of what I have been doing in the last few years, instead of working on Debian. Is it a good thing? Is it a bad thing? Maybe it's good. I want to know what do you think?

* you will, most likely, never hear such a promoter of non-therapies say that there isn't just one cancer, and that, in fact, cancer is a name for a certain family of diseases which are all called cancer - that's a first sign that you might be dealing with quack
** probably in the line of thought that the eyes are the gates to the soul so they must tell something significant about health

22 August 2012

Eugene V. Lyubimkin: Cupt package manager in Debian: from Squeeze to Wheezy

A status update for what changed since Squeeze release and what is the state of Cupt in Wheezy. No new things for those few who follow small blog posts or the changelog, but an overview for, maybe, softly or newly interested.

Cupt, the high-level package manager for Debian with a console interface and therefore APT's competitor, continued its development since the first stable series. In the second major version it's rewritten in C++(11), got many new features such as numerous improvements in the depedency resolver and the dpkg action scheduler, the support of index diffs, the tutorial, wget-based download method, position action override options, logging, colored action preview prompt, treeish detailed error messages if no solutions were found, to name most important. That said, if you want multiarch, CDROM repository support or, say, some exotic download method, -- Cupt won't suit, at least for now. Project-wide support is also still almost completely missing as many developers accept no more than two package managers.

The "bug-freeness" aim still holds, at the moment of writing there is no unfixed runtime bugs of priority normal+. Here I thank again those people who reported bugs, you all definitely made Cupt better. I am sure there are bugs still which wait their time to show up, but that's hardly avoidable.

All in all, 2.x is a big step forward from 1.x. Not a last step -- development continues.