Search Results: "jef"

28 August 2022

Dirk Eddelbuettel: littler 0.3.16 on CRAN: Package Updates

max-heap image The seventeenth release of littler as a CRAN package just landed, following in the now sixteen year history (!!) as a package started by Jeff in 2006, and joined by me a few weeks later. littler is the first command-line interface for R as it predates Rscript. It allows for piping as well for shebang scripting via #!, uses command-line arguments more consistently and still starts faster. It also always loaded the methods package which Rscript only started to do in recent years. littler lives on Linux and Unix, has its difficulties on macOS due to yet-another-braindeadedness there (who ever thought case-insensitive filesystems as a default were a good idea?) and simply does not exist on Windows (yet the build system could be extended see RInside for an existence proof, and volunteers are welcome!). See the FAQ vignette on how to add it to your PATH. A few examples are highlighted at the Github repo, as well as in the examples vignette. This release, the first since last December, further extends install2.r accept multiple repos options thanks to Tatsuya Shima, overhauls and substantially extends installBioc.r thanks to Pieter Moris, and includes a number of (generally smaller) changes I added (see below). The full change description follows.

Changes in littler version 0.3.16 (2022-08-28)
  • Changes in package
    • The configure code checks for two more headers
    • The RNG seeding matches the current version in R (Dirk)
  • Changes in examples
    • A cowu.r 'check Window UCRT' helper was added (Dirk)
    • A getPandoc.r downloader has been added (Dirk)
    • The -r option tp install2.r has been generalzed (Tatsuya Shima in #95)
    • The rcc.r code / package checker now has valgrind option (Dirk)
    • install2.r now installs to first element in .libPaths() by default (Dirk)
    • A very simple r2u.r help has been added (Dirk)
    • The installBioc.r has been generalized and extended similar to install2.r (Pieter Moris in #103)

My CRANberries service provides a comparison to the previous release. Full details for the littler release are provided as usual at the ChangeLog page, and also on the package docs website. The code is available via the GitHub repo, from tarballs and now of course also from its CRAN page and via install.packages("littler"). Binary packages are available directly in Debian as well as soon via Ubuntu binaries at CRAN thanks to the tireless Michael Rutter. Comments and suggestions are welcome at the GitHub repo. If you like this or other open-source work I do, you can now sponsor me at GitHub.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

1 June 2022

Daniel Lange: Get Youtube Channel ID from username

Youtube has a really nice RSS feature that is extremely well hidden. If you postfix a Channel ID to
https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=<id goes here>
you get a really nice Atom 1.0 (~RSS) feed for your feedreader. Unfortunately the Channel ID is hard to find while you are navigating Youtube with usernames in the URL. E.g. https://www.youtube.com/c/TED is TED's channel, full of interesting and worth-to-watch content (and some assorted horse toppings, of course). But you have to read a lot of ugly HTML / JSON in that page to find and combine https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=UCAuUUnT6oDeKwE6v1NGQxug which is the related RSS feed. Jeff Keeling wrote a simple Youtube RSS Extractor that does well if you have a ../playlist?... or a .../channel/... URL but it will (currently) fail on user name channels or Youtube landing pages. So how do we get the Channel ID for a Youtube user we are interested to follow? Youtube has a great API but that is gated by API keys even for the most simple calls (that came only with v3 of the API but the previous version is depreciated since 2015)1:
dl@laptop:~$ curl 'https://www.googleapis.com/youtube/v3/channels?part=contentDetails&forUsername=DebConfVideos'

"error":
"code": 403,
"message": "The request is missing a valid API key.",
"errors": [

"message": "The request is missing a valid API key.",
"domain": "global",
"reason": "forbidden"

],
"status": "PERMISSION_DENIED"

Luckily we can throw the same (example) user name DebConfVideos at curl and grep:
dl@laptop:~$ curl -s "https://www.youtube.com/c/DebConfVideos/videos" grep -Po '"channelId":".+?"'
"channelId":"UC7SbfAPZf8SMvAxp8t51qtQ"
So https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=UC7SbfAPZf8SMvAxp8t51qtQ is the RSS feed for DebConfVideos. We can use individual Youtube video URLs as well. With the hack above, it'll work to find us the Chanel ID from a Youtube video URL: Working around the Youtube API restrictions to still make use of their RSS feed Now, some user pages may have multiple valid RSS feeds because they contain multiple channels. Remember the TED page from above? Well run:
dl@laptop:~$ curl -s "https://www.youtube.com/c/TED" grep -Po '"channelId":".+?"' cut -d \" -f 4 while read -r YTID ; do echo -n "Youtube-ID: $YTID " ; curl -s "https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=$YTID" grep -m 1 -P -o "(?<=<title>).+(?=</title>)" ; done
This will iterate through the Channel IDs found and show you the titles. That way you can assess which one you want to add to your feedreader. screenshot of the above You probably want the last Channel ID listed above, the non-selective "TED" one. And that's the one from the example above. Update 02.06.2022: smpl wrote in and has the much better solution for the most frequent use cases:
You can also use get a feed directly with a username:
https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?user=<username>
The one I use most is the one for playlists (if creators remember to
use them).
https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?playlist_id=<playlist id>
For the common case you don't even need the channel ID that way. But it is also conveniently given in a <yt:channelId> tag (or the topmost <id> tag) within the Atom XML document. Thanks, smpl!

  1. Actually it is even more complicated as some channels, like our DebConfVideos example, will only get you an incomplete result, cf. this StackOverflow entry. I.e. the forUsername iterator may not even work and the "best practice" seems to be mucking around with the search call.

11 March 2022

Dirk Eddelbuettel: dtts 0.1.0 on CRAN: New Package

Leonardo and I are thrilled to announce the first CRAN release of dtts. The dtts package builds on top of both our nanotime package and the well-loved and widely-used data.table package by Matt, Arun, Jan, and numerous collaborators. In a very rough nutshell, you can think of dtts as combining both these potent ingredients to produce something not-entirely-unlike the venerable xts package by our friends Jeff and Josh but using highest-precision nanosecond increments rather than not-quite-microseconds or dates. The package is still somewhat rare and bare: it is mostly just alignment operators. But because of the power and genius of data.table not all that much more is needed because data.table gets us fifteen years of highly refined, tuned and tested code for data slicing, dicing, and aggregation. To which we now humbly add nanosecond-resolution indexing and alignment. The package had been simmering for some time, and does of course take advantage of (a lot of) earlier work by Leonardo on his ztsdb project. We look forward to user feedback and suggestions at the GitHub repo. If you like this or other open-source work I do, you can now sponsor me at GitHub.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

29 January 2022

Sylvestre Ledru: An update on rust/coreutils

TLDR: we are making progress on the Rust implementation of the GNU coreutils. Well, it is an understatement to say my previous blog post interested many people. Many articles, blog posts and some podcasts talked about it! As we pushed coreutils 0.0.12 a few days ago and getting closer to the 10 000 stars on github, it is now time to give an update! This has brought a lot of new contributors to this project. Instead of 30 to 60 patches per month, we jumped to 400 to 472 patches every month. Similarly, we saw an increase in the number of contributors (20 to 50 per month from 3 to 8). Two new maintainers (Michael Debertol & Terts Diepraam) stepped in and have been doing a much better job than myself as reviewers now! As a silly metric, according to github, we had 5 561 clones of the repository over the last 2 weeks! The new contributors focused on: Closing the gap with GNU As far as I know, we are only missing stty (change and print terminal line settings) as a program. Thanks to some heroes, basenc, pr, chcon and runcon have been implemented. For example, for the two last programs, Koutheir Attouchi wrote new crates to manage SELinux properly. This crate has been used for some other utilities like cp, ls or id. Leveraging the GNU testsuite to test this implementation Because the GNU testsuite is excellent, we now have a proper CI using it to run the tests. It is pretty long on the Github action CI (almost two hours to run it) but it is an amazing improvement to the way we work. It was a joint work from a bunch of folks (James Robson, Roy Ivy III, etc). To achieve this, we also made it easier to run the GNU testsuite locally with the Rust implementation but also to ignore some tests or adjust some error messages (see build-gnu.sh and run-gnu-test.sh). Following a suggestion of Brian G, a colleague at Mozilla (he did the same for some Firefox major change), we are now collecting the history of fail/pass/error into a separate repository and generating a daily graph showing the evolution of regression. Evolution over time At this date, we have, with GNU/Coreutils 9.0:
Total 611 tests
Pass 214
Skip 84
Fail 298
Error 15
We are now automatically identifying new passing tests and regressions in the CI. For example:
Warning: Congrats! The gnu test tests/chmod/c-option is now passing!
<br />Warning: Congrats! The gnu test tests/chmod/silent is now passing!
<br />Warning: Congrats! The gnu test tests/chmod/umask-x is now passing!
<br />Error: GNU test failed: tests/du/long-from-unreadable. tests/du/long-from-unreadable is passing on 'master'. Maybe you have to rebase?
[...]
<br />Warning: Changes from master: PASS +4 / FAIL +0 / ERROR -4 / SKIP +0
This is also beneficial to GNU as, by implementing some options, Michael Debertol noticed some incorrect behaviors (with sort and cat) or an uninitialized variable (with chmod). Documentations Every day, we are generating the user documentation and of the internal coreutils. User documentation: https://uutils.github.io/coreutils-docs/user/ Example: ls or cp The internal documentation can be seen on: https://uutils.github.io/coreutils-docs/dev/uucore/
For example, the backup style is documented here: https://uutils.github.io/coreutils-docs/dev/uucore/backup_control/index.html More? Besides my work on Debian/Ubuntu, I have also noticed that more and more operating systems are starting to look at this: In parallel, https://github.com/uutils/findutils/, a rust dropped-in replacement for find, is getting more attention lately! Here, the graph showing the evolution of the program using the BFS testsuite (much better than GNU's). Evolution over time - BFS testsuite What is next?
  1. stty needs to be implemented
  2. Improve the GNU compatibility on key programs and reduce the gap
  3. Investigate how to reduce the size of the binaries
  4. Allow Debian and Ubuntu to switch by default without tricky manipulation
How to help? I have been maintaining a list of good first bugs for new comers in the repo! Don't hesitate to contribute, it is much easier than it seems and a terrific way to learn Rust!

3 December 2021

Dirk Eddelbuettel: littler 0.3.15 on CRAN: Package Updates

max-heap image The sixteenth release of littler as a CRAN package just landed, following in the now fifteen year history (!!) as a package started by Jeff in 2006, and joined by me a few weeks later. littler is the first command-line interface for R as it predates Rscript. It allows for piping as well for shebang scripting via #!, uses command-line arguments more consistently and still starts faster. It also always loaded the methods package which Rscript only started to do in recent years. littler lives on Linux and Unix, has its difficulties on macOS due to yet-another-braindeadedness there (who ever thought case-insensitive filesystems as a default were a good idea?) and simply does not exist on Windows (yet the build system could be extended see RInside for an existence proof, and volunteers are welcome!). See the FAQ vignette on how to add it to your PATH. A few examples are highlighted at the Github repo, as well as in the examples vignette. This release brings a more robust and featureful install2.r script (thanks to Gergely Dar czi), corrects some documentation typos (thanks to John Kerl), and now compacts pdf vignette better when using the build.r helper. It also one more updates the URLs for the two RStudio downloaders, and adds a simplermarkdown wrapper. Next, we removed the YAML file (and badge) for the disgraced former continuous integration service we shall not name (yet that we all used to use). And, following digest two days ago and drat yesterday, we converted the vignettes from using the minidown package to the (fairly new) simplermarkdown package which is so much more appropriate for our use of the minimal water.css style. The full change description follows.

Changes in littler version 0.3.15 (2021-12-03)
  • Changes in examples
    • The install2 script can select download methods, and cope with errors from parallel download (thanks to Gergely Daroczi)
    • The build.r now uses both as argument to --compact-vignettes
    • The RStudio download helper were once again updated for changed URLs
    • New caller for simplermarkdown::mdweave_to_html
  • Changes in package
    • Several typos were correct (thanks to John Kerl)
    • Travis artifacts and badges have been pruned
    • Vignettes now use simplermarkdown

My CRANberries service provides a comparison to the previous release. Full details for the littler release are provided as usual at the ChangeLog page, and also on the package docs website. The code is available via the GitHub repo, from tarballs and now of course also from its CRAN page and via install.packages("littler"). Binary packages are available directly in Debian as well as soon via Ubuntu binaries at CRAN thanks to the tireless Michael Rutter. Comments and suggestions are welcome at the GitHub repo. If you like this or other open-source work I do, you can now sponsor me at GitHub.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

23 October 2021

Antoine Beaupr : The Neo-Colonial Internet

I grew up with the Internet and its ethics and politics have always been important in my life. But I have also been involved at other levels, against police brutality, for Food, Not Bombs, worker autonomy, software freedom, etc. For a long time, that all seemed coherent. But the more I look at the modern Internet -- and the mega-corporations that control it -- and the less confidence I have in my original political analysis of the liberating potential of technology. I have come to believe that most of our technological development is harmful to the large majority of the population of the planet, and of course the rest of the biosphere. And now I feel this is not a new problem. This is because the Internet is a neo-colonial device, and has been from the start. Let me explain.

What is Neo-Colonialism? The term "neo-colonialism" was coined by Kwame Nkrumah, first president of Ghana. In Neo-Colonialism, the Last Stage of Imperialism (1965), he wrote:
In place of colonialism, as the main instrument of imperialism, we have today neo-colonialism ... [which] like colonialism, is an attempt to export the social conflicts of the capitalist countries. ... The result of neo-colonialism is that foreign capital is used for the exploitation rather than for the development of the less developed parts of the world. Investment, under neo-colonialism, increases, rather than decreases, the gap between the rich and the poor countries of the world.
So basically, if colonialism is Europeans bringing genocide, war, and its religion to the Africa, Asia, and the Americas, neo-colonialism is the Americans (note the "n") bringing capitalism to the world. Before we see how this applies to the Internet, we must therefore make a detour into US history. This matters, because anyone would be hard-pressed to decouple neo-colonialism from the empire under which it evolves, and here we can only name the United States of America.

US Declaration of Independence Let's start with the United States declaration of independence (1776). Many Americans may roll their eyes at this, possibly because that declaration is not actually part of the US constitution and therefore may have questionable legal standing. Still, it was obviously a driving philosophical force in the founding of the nation. As its author, Thomas Jefferson, stated:
it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion
In that aging document, we find the following pearl:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
As a founding document, the Declaration still has an impact in the sense that the above quote has been called an:
"immortal declaration", and "perhaps [the] single phrase" of the American Revolutionary period with the greatest "continuing importance." (Wikipedia)
Let's read that "immortal declaration" again: "all men are created equal". "Men", in that context, is limited to a certain number of people, namely "property-owning or tax-paying white males, or about 6% of the population". Back when this was written, women didn't have the right to vote, and slavery was legal. Jefferson himself owned hundreds of slaves. The declaration was aimed at the King and was a list of grievances. A concern of the colonists was that the King:
has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
This is a clear mark of the frontier myth which paved the way for the US to exterminate and colonize the territory some now call the United States of America. The declaration of independence is obviously a colonial document, having being written by colonists. None of this is particularly surprising, historically, but I figured it serves as a good reminder of where the Internet is coming from, since it was born in the US.

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace Two hundred and twenty years later, in 1996, John Perry Barlow wrote a declaration of independence of cyberspace. At this point, (almost) everyone has a right to vote (including women), slavery was abolished (although some argue it still exists in the form of the prison system); the US has made tremendous progress. Surely this text will have aged better than the previous declaration it is obviously derived from. Let's see how it reads today and how it maps to how the Internet is actually built now.

Borders of Independence One of the key ideas that Barlow brings up is that "cyberspace does not lie within your borders". In that sense, cyberspace is the final frontier: having failed to colonize the moon, Americans turn inwards, deeper into technology, but still in the frontier ideology. And indeed, Barlow is one of the co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (the beloved EFF), founded six years prior. But there are other problems with this idea. As Wikipedia quotes:
The declaration has been criticized for internal inconsistencies.[9] The declaration's assertion that 'cyberspace' is a place removed from the physical world has also been challenged by people who point to the fact that the Internet is always linked to its underlying geography.[10]
And indeed, the Internet is definitely a physical object. First controlled and severely restricted by "telcos" like AT&T, it was somewhat "liberated" from that monopoly in 1982 when an anti-trust lawsuit broke up the monopoly, a key historical event that, one could argue, made the Internet possible. (From there on, "backbone" providers could start competing and emerge, and eventually coalesce into new monopolies: Google has a monopoly on search and advertisement, Facebook on communications for a few generations, Amazon on storage and computing, Microsoft on hardware, etc. Even AT&T is now pretty much as consolidated as it was before.) The point is: all those companies have gigantic data centers and intercontinental cables. And those are definitely prioritizing the western world, the heart of the empire. Take for example Google's latest 3,900 mile undersea cable: it does not connect Argentina to South Africa or New Zealand, it connects the US to UK and Spain. Hardly a revolutionary prospect.

Private Internet But back to the Declaration:
Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows itself through our collective actions.
In Barlow's mind, the "public" is bad, and private is good, natural. Or, in other words, a "public construction project" is unnatural. And indeed, the modern "nature" of development is private: most of the Internet is now privately owned and operated. I must admit that, as an anarchist, I loved that sentence when I read it. I was rooting for "us", the underdogs, the revolutionaries. And, in a way, I still do: I am on the board of Koumbit and work for a non-profit that has pivoted towards censorship and surveillance evasion. Yet I cannot help but think that, as a whole, we have failed to establish that independence and put too much trust in private companies. It is obvious in retrospect, but it was not, 30 years ago. Now, the infrastructure of the Internet has zero accountability to traditional political entities supposedly representing the people, or even its users. The situation is actually worse than when the US was founded (e.g. "6% of the population can vote"), because the owners of the tech giants are only a handful of people who can override any decision. There's only one Amazon CEO, he's called Jeff Bezos, and he has total control. (Update: Bezos actually ceded the CEO role to Andy Jassy, AWS and Amazon music founder, while remaining executive chairman. I would argue that, as the founder and the richest man on earth, he still has strong control over Amazon.)

Social Contract Here's another claim of the Declaration:
We are forming our own Social Contract.
I remember the early days, back when "netiquette" was a word, it did feel we had some sort of a contract. Not written in standards of course -- or barely (see RFC1855) -- but as a tacit agreement. How wrong we were. One just needs to look at Facebook to see how problematic that idea is on a global network. Facebook is the quintessential "hacker" ideology put in practice. Mark Zuckerberg explicitly refused to be "arbiter of truth" which implicitly means he will let lies take over its platforms. He also sees Facebook as place where everyone is equal, something that echoes the Declaration:
We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth.
(We note, in passing, the omission of gender in that list, also mirroring the infamous "All men are created equal" claim of the US declaration.) As the Wall Street Journal's (WSJ) Facebook files later shown, both of those "contracts" have serious limitations inside Facebook. There are VIPs who systematically bypass moderation systems including fascists and rapists. Drug cartels and human traffickers thrive on the platform. Even when Zuckerberg himself tried to tame the platform -- to get people vaccinated or to make it healthier -- he failed: "vaxxer" conspiracies multiplied and Facebook got angrier. This is because the "social contract" behind Facebook and those large companies is a lie: their concern is profit and that means advertising, "engagement" with the platform, which causes increased anxiety and depression in teens, for example. Facebook's response to this is that they are working really hard on moderation. But the truth is that even that system is severely skewed. The WSJ showed that Facebook has translators for only 50 languages. It's a surprisingly hard to count human languages but estimates range the number of distinct languages between 2500 and 7000. So while 50 languages seems big at first, it's actually a tiny fraction of the human population using Facebook. Taking the first 50 of the Wikipedia list of languages by native speakers we omit languages like Dutch (52), Greek (74), and Hungarian (78), and that's just a few random nations picks from Europe. As an example, Facebook has trouble moderating even a major language like Arabic. It censored content from legitimate Arab news sources when they mentioned the word al-Aqsa because Facebook associates it with the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades when they were talking about the Al-Aqsa Mosque... This bias against Arabs also shows how Facebook reproduces the American colonizer politics. The WSJ also pointed out that Facebook spends only 13% of its moderation efforts outside of the US, even if that represents 90% of its users. Facebook spends three more times moderating on "brand safety", which shows its priority is not the safety of its users, but of the advertisers.

Military Internet Sergey Brin and Larry Page are the Lewis and Clark of our generation. Just like the latter were sent by Jefferson (the same) to declare sovereignty over the entire US west coast, Google declared sovereignty over all human knowledge, with its mission statement "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful". (It should be noted that Page somewhat questioned that mission but only because it was not ambitious enough, Google having "outgrown" it.) The Lewis and Clark expedition, just like Google, had a scientific pretext, because that is what you do to colonize a world, presumably. Yet both men were military and had to receive scientific training before they left. The Corps of Discovery was made up of a few dozen enlisted men and a dozen civilians, including York an African American slave owned by Clark and sold after the expedition, with his final fate lost in history. And just like Lewis and Clark, Google has a strong military component. For example, Google Earth was not originally built at Google but is the acquisition of a company called Keyhole which had ties with the CIA. Those ties were brought inside Google during the acquisition. Google's increasing investment inside the military-industrial complex eventually led Google to workers organizing a revolt although it is currently unclear to me how much Google is involved in the military apparatus. Other companies, obviously, do not have such reserve, with Microsoft, Amazon, and plenty of others happily bidding on military contracts all the time.

Spreading the Internet I am obviously not the first to identify colonial structures in the Internet. In an article titled The Internet as an Extension of Colonialism, Heather McDonald correctly identifies fundamental problems with the "development" of new "markets" of Internet "consumers", primarily arguing that it creates a digital divide which creates a "lack of agency and individual freedom":
Many African people have gained access to these technologies but not the freedom to develop content such as web pages or social media platforms in their own way. Digital natives have much more power and therefore use this to create their own space with their own norms, shaping their online world according to their own outlook.
But the digital divide is certainly not the worst problem we have to deal with on the Internet today. Going back to the Declaration, we originally believed we were creating an entirely new world:
This governance will arise according to the conditions of our world, not yours. Our world is different.
How I dearly wished that was true. Unfortunately, the Internet is not that different from the offline world. Or, to be more accurate, the values we have embedded in the Internet, particularly of free speech absolutism, sexism, corporatism, and exploitation, are now exploding outside of the Internet, into the "real" world. The Internet was built with free software which, fundamentally, was based on quasi-volunteer labour of an elite force of white men with obviously too much time on their hands (and also: no children). The mythical writing of GCC and Emacs by Richard Stallman is a good example of this, but the entirety of the Internet now seems to be running on random bits and pieces built by hit-and-run programmers working on their copious free time. Whenever any of those fails, it can compromise or bring down entire systems. (Heck, I wrote this article on my day off...) This model of what is fundamentally "cheap labour" is spreading out from the Internet. Delivery workers are being exploited to the bone by apps like Uber -- although it should be noted that workers organise and fight back. Amazon workers are similarly exploited beyond belief, forbidden to take breaks until they pee in bottles, with ambulances nearby to carry out the bodies. During peak of the pandemic, workers were being dangerously exposed to the virus in warehouses. All this while Amazon is basically taking over the entire economy. The Declaration culminates with this prophecy:
We will spread ourselves across the Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts.
This prediction, which first felt revolutionary, is now chilling.

Colonial Internet The Internet is, if not neo-colonial, plain colonial. The US colonies had cotton fields and slaves, we have disposable cell phones and Foxconn workers. Canada has its cultural genocide, Facebook has his own genocides in Ethiopia, Myanmar, and mob violence in India. Apple is at least implicitly accepting the Uyghur genocide. And just like the slaves of the colony, those atrocities are what makes the empire run. The Declaration actually ends like this, a quote which I have in my fortune cookies file:
We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before.
That is still inspiring to me. But if we want to make "cyberspace" more humane, we need to decolonize it. Work on cyberpeace instead of cyberwar. Establish clear code of conduct, discuss ethics, and question your own privileges, biases, and culture. For me the first step in decolonizing my own mind is writing this article. Breaking up tech monopolies might be an important step, but it won't be enough: we have to do a culture shift as well, and that's the hard part.

Appendix: an apology to Barlow I kind of feel bad going through Barlow's declaration like this, point by point. It is somewhat unfair, especially since Barlow passed away a few years ago and cannot mount a response (even humbly assuming that he might read this). But then again, he himself recognized he was a bit too "optimistic" in 2009, saying: "we all get older and smarter":
I'm an optimist. In order to be libertarian, you have to be an optimist. You have to have a benign view of human nature, to believe that human beings left to their own devices are basically good. But I'm not so sure about human institutions, and I think the real point of argument here is whether or not large corporations are human institutions or some other entity we need to be thinking about curtailing. Most libertarians are worried about government but not worried about business. I think we need to be worrying about business in exactly the same way we are worrying about government.
And, in a sense, it was a little naive to expect Barlow to not be a colonist. Barlow is, among many things, a cattle rancher who grew up on a colonial ranch in Wyoming. The ranch was founded in 1907 by his great uncle, 17 years after the state joined the Union, and only a generation or two after the Powder River War (1866-1868) and Black Hills War (1876-1877) during which the US took over lands occupied by Lakota, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and other native American nations, in some of the last major First Nations Wars.

Appendix: further reading There is another article that almost has the same title as this one: Facebook and the New Colonialism. (Interestingly, the <title> tag on the article is actually "Facebook the Colonial Empire" which I also find appropriate.) The article is worth reading in full, but I loved this quote so much that I couldn't resist reproducing it here:
Representations of colonialism have long been present in digital landscapes. ( Even Super Mario Brothers, the video game designer Steven Fox told me last year. You run through the landscape, stomp on everything, and raise your flag at the end. ) But web-based colonialism is not an abstraction. The online forces that shape a new kind of imperialism go beyond Facebook.
It goes on:
Consider, for example, digitization projects that focus primarily on English-language literature. If the web is meant to be humanity s new Library of Alexandria, a living repository for all of humanity s knowledge, this is a problem. So is the fact that the vast majority of Wikipedia pages are about a relatively tiny square of the planet. For instance, 14 percent of the world s population lives in Africa, but less than 3 percent of the world s geotagged Wikipedia articles originate there, according to a 2014 Oxford Internet Institute report.
And they introduce another definition of Neo-colonialism, while warning about abusing the word like I am sort of doing here:
I m loath to toss around words like colonialism but it s hard to ignore the family resemblances and recognizable DNA, to wit, said Deepika Bahri, an English professor at Emory University who focuses on postcolonial studies. In an email, Bahri summed up those similarities in list form:
  1. ride in like the savior
  2. bandy about words like equality, democracy, basic rights
  3. mask the long-term profit motive (see 2 above)
  4. justify the logic of partial dissemination as better than nothing
  5. partner with local elites and vested interests
  6. accuse the critics of ingratitude
In the end, she told me, if it isn t a duck, it shouldn t quack like a duck.
Another good read is the classic Code and other laws of cyberspace (1999, free PDF) which is also critical of Barlow's Declaration. In "Code is law", Lawrence Lessig argues that:
computer code (or "West Coast Code", referring to Silicon Valley) regulates conduct in much the same way that legal code (or "East Coast Code", referring to Washington, D.C.) does (Wikipedia)
And now it feels like the west coast has won over the east coast, or maybe it recolonized it. In any case, Internet now christens emperors.

Arthur Diniz: Dropdown for GitHub workflows input parameters

Dropdown for GitHub workflows input parameters Sometimes when we look at CI/CD tools embedded within git-based software repository manager like GitHub, GitLab or Bitbucket, we ran into a lack of some features. This time me and my DevOps/SRE team were facing a pain of not being able to have the option to create drop-downs within GitHub workflows using input parameters. Although this functionality is already available on other platforms such as Bitbucket, the specific client we were working on stored the code inside GitHub. At first I thought that someone has already solved this problem somehow, but doing an extensive search on the internet I found several angry GitHub users opening requests within the Support Community and even in the stack overflow. comment-1 comment-2 comment-3 comment-5 comment-4 So I decided to create a solution for this, always thinking about simplicity and in a way that makes it easy to get this missing functionality. I started by creating an input array pattern using commas and using a tag (the selector) e.g brackets as the default value marker. Here is an example of what an input string would look like:
name: gh-action-dropdown-list-input
on:
  workflow_dispatch:
    inputs:
      environment:
        description: 'Environment'
        required: true
        default: 'dev,staging,[uat],prod'
Now the final question that would turn out to be the most complicated to deal with. How can I change the GitHub Actions interface to replace the input pattern we created earlier to a dropdown? The simplest answer I thought was to create a chrome and firefox extension that would do all this logic behind the scenes and replace the HTML input element with the selected tag containing the array values and leaving the tag value (selector) always as the default. All code was developed in pure JavaScript, open-source licensed under Apache 2.0 and available at https://github.com/arthurbdiniz/gh-action-dropdown-list-input.

Install extension Once installed, the extension is ready to use and the final result we see is the Actions interface with drop-downs. :) showcase-1 showcase-2

Configuring selectors Go to the top right corner of the browser you are using and click on the extension logo. A screen will popup with tag options. Choose the right tags for you and save it.
This action might require reloading the GitHub workflow tab. config

Have fun using drop-downs inside GitHub. If you liked this project please share this post and if possible star within the repository. Also feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/arthurbdiniz

References
  • https://github.community/t/can-workflow-dispatch-input-be-option-list/127338
  • https://stackoverflow.com/questions/69296314/dropdown-for-github-workflows-input-parameters

6 October 2021

Dirk Eddelbuettel: littler 0.3.14: Updates

max-heap image The fifteenth release of littler as a CRAN package just landed, following in the now fifteen year history (!!) as a package started by Jeff in 2006, and joined by me a few weeks later. littler is the first command-line interface for R as it predates Rscript. It allows for piping as well for shebang scripting via #!, uses command-line arguments more consistently and still starts faster. It also always loaded the methods package which Rscript only started to do in recent years. littler lives on Linux and Unix, has its difficulties on macOS due to yet-another-braindeadedness there (who ever thought case-insensitive filesystems as a default were a good idea?) and simply does not exist on Windows (yet the build system could be extended see RInside for an existence proof, and volunteers are welcome!). See the FAQ vignette on how to add it to your PATH. A few examples are highlighted at the Github repo, as well as in the examples vignette. This release updates the helper scripts to download nighlies of RStudio Server and Desktop to their new naming scheme, adds a downloader for Quarto, extends the roxy.r wrapper with a new option, and updates the configure setting as requestion by CRAN and more. See the NEWS file entry below for more.

Changes in littler version 0.3.14 (2021-10-05)
  • Changes in examples
    • Updated RStudio download helper to changed file names
    • Added a new option to roxy.r wrapper
    • Added a downloader for Quarto command-line tool
  • Changes in package
    • The configure files were updated to the standard of autoconf version 2.69 following a CRAN request

My CRANberries provides a comparison to the previous release. Full details for the littler release are provided as usual at the ChangeLog page, and now also on the new package docs website. The code is available via the GitHub repo, from tarballs and now of course also from its CRAN page and via install.packages("littler"). Binary packages are available directly in Debian as well as soon via Ubuntu binaries at CRAN thanks to the tireless Michael Rutter. Comments and suggestions are welcome at the GitHub repo. If you like this or other open-source work I do, you can now sponsor me at GitHub.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

31 August 2021

Russ Allbery: kstart 4.3

kstart provides the programs k5start and krenew, which are similar to the Kerberos kinit program with some extra support for running programs with separate credentials and running as a daemon. This is the first full release in nearly six years. The major change is new support for the Linux kafs module, which is a native Linux implementation of the AFS protocol that David Howells and others have been working on for years. It has an entirely different way of thinking about tokens and credential isolation built on Linux keyrings rather than the AFS token concept (which sometimes uses keyrings, but in a different way, and sometimes uses other hacks). k5start and krenew, when run with the -t option to get AFS tokens, would fail if AFS was not available. That meant -t would fail with kafs even if the AKLOG environment variable were set properly to aklog-kafs. This release fixes that. The programs also optionally link with libkeyutils and use it when used to run a command to isolate the AFS credentials from the calling process. This is done by creating a new session keyring and linking it to the user keyring before running the aklog program. Thanks to Bill MacAllister, David Howells, and Jeffrey Altman for the help with this feature. I'm not sure that I have it right, so please let me know if it doesn't work for you. Also in this release is a fix from Aasif Versi to use a smarter exit status if k5start or krenew is running another program and that program is killed with a signal. Previously, that would cause k5start or krenew to exit with a status of 0, which was not helpful. Now it exits with a status formed by adding 128 to the signal number, which matches the behavior of bash. Since this is the first release in a while, it also contains some other minor fixes and portability updates. You can get the latest release from the kstart distribution page.

24 July 2021

Dirk Eddelbuettel: littler 0.3.13: Moar Goodies

max-heap image The fourteenth release of littler as a CRAN package just landed, following in the now fifteen year history (!!) as a package started by Jeff in 2006, and joined by me a few weeks later. littler is the first command-line interface for R as it predates Rscript. It allows for piping as well for shebang scripting via #!, uses command-line arguments more consistently and still starts faster. It also always loaded the methods package which Rscript only started to do in recent years. littler lives on Linux and Unix, has its difficulties on macOS due to yet-another-braindeadedness there (who ever thought case-insensitive filesystems as a default were a good idea?) and simply does not exist on Windows (yet the build system could be extended see RInside for an existence proof, and volunteers are welcome!). See the FAQ vignette on how to add it to your PATH. A few examples are highlighted at the Github repo, as well as in the examples vignette. This release brings two new example scripts and command wrappers (compiledDeps.r, silenceTwitterAccount.r), along with extensions, corrections, or polish for a number a of other examples as detailed in the NEWS file entry below.

Changes in littler version 0.3.13 (2021-07-24)
  • Changes in examples
    • New script compiledDeps.r to show which dependencies are compiled
    • New script silenceTwitterAccount.r wrapping rtweet
    • The -c or --code option for installRSPM.r was corrected
    • The kitten.r script now passes options bunny and puppy on to the pkgKitten::kitten() call; new options to call the Arma and Eigen variants were added
    • The getRStudioDesktop.r and getRStudioServer.r scripts were updated for a change in rvest
    • Two typos in the tt.r help message were correct (Aaron Wolen in #86)
    • The message in cranIncoming.r was corrected.
  • Changes in package
    • Added Continuous Integration runner via run.sh from r-ci.
    • Two vignettes got two extra vignette attributes.
    • The mkdocs-material documentation input was moved.
    • The basic unit tests were slightly refactored and updated.

My CRANberries provides a comparison to the previous release. Full details for the littler release are provided as usual at the ChangeLog page, and now also on the new package docs website. The code is available via the GitHub repo, from tarballs and now of course also from its CRAN page and via install.packages("littler"). Binary packages are available directly in Debian as well as soon via Ubuntu binaries at CRAN thanks to the tireless Michael Rutter. Comments and suggestions are welcome at the GitHub repo. If you like this or other open-source work I do, you can now sponsor me at GitHub.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

16 June 2021

Julien Danjou: Python Tools to Try in 2021

Python Tools to Try in 2021The Python programming language is one of the most popular and in huge demand. It is free, has a large community, is intended for the development of projects of varying complexity, is easy to learn, and opens up great opportunities for programmers. To work comfortably with it, you need special Python tools, which are able to simplify your work. We have selected the best Python tools that will be relevant in 2021.

MailtrapAs you may probably know, in order to send an email, you need SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol). This is because you can't just send a letter to the recipient. It needs to be sent to the server from which the recipient will download this letter using IMAP and POP3.Mailtrap provides an opportunity to send emails in python. Moreover, Mailtrap provides #rest #api to access current emails. It can be used to automate email testing, which will improve your email marketing campaigns. For example, you can check the password recovery form in the Selenium Test and immediately see if an email was sent to the correct address. Then take a new password from the email and try to enter the site with it. Cool, isn't it?

Pros
  • All emails are in one place.
  • Mailtrap provides multiple inboxes.
  • Shared access is present.
  • It is easy to set up.
  • RESTful API

ConsNo visible disadvantages were found.

Django
Python Tools to Try in 2021
Django is a free and open-source full-stack framework. It is one of the most important and popular among Python developers. It helps you move from a prototype to a ready-made working solution in a short time since its main task is to automate processes and speed up work through associations and libraries. It s a great choice for a product launch.You can use Django if at least a few of the following points interest you:
  • There is a need to develop the server-side of the API.
  • You need to develop a web application.
  • In the course of work, many changes are made, you have to constantly deploy the application and make edits.
  • There are many complex tasks that are difficult to solve on your own, and you will need the help of the community.
  • ORM support is needed to avoid accessing the database directly.
  • There is a need to integrate new technologies such as machine learning.
Django is a great Python Web Framework that does its job. It is not for nothing that it is one of the most popular, and is actively used by millions of developers.

ProsDjango has quite a few advantages. It contains a large number of ready-made solutions, which greatly simplifies development. Admin panel, database migration, various forms, user authentication tools are extremely helpful. The structure is very clear and simple.A large community helps to solve almost any problem. Thanks to ORM, there is a high level of security and it is comfortable to work with databases.

ConsDespite its powerful capabilities, Django's Python Web Framework has drawbacks. It is very massive, monolithic, therefore it develops slowly. Despite the many generic modules, the development speed of Django itself is reduced.

CherryPy
Python Tools to Try in 2021
CherryPy is a micro-framework. It is designed to solve specific problems, capable of running the program on any operating system. CherryPy is used in the following cases:
  • To create an application with small code size.
  • There is a need to manage several servers at the same time.
  • You need to monitor the performance of applications.
CherryPy refers to Python Frameworks, which are designed for specific tasks. It's clear, user-friendly, and ideal for Android development.

ProsCherryPy Python tool has a friendly and understandable development environment. This is a functional and complete framework, which can be used to build good applications. The source code is open, so the platform is completely free for developers, and the community, although not too large, is very responsive, and always helps to solve problems.

ConsThere are not so many cons to this Python tool. It is not capable of performing complex tasks and functions, it is intended more for specific solutions, for example, for the development of certain plugins or modules.

Pyramid
Python Tools to Try in 2021
Python Pyramid tool is designed for programming complex objects and solving multifunctional problems. It is used by professional programmers and is traditionally used for identification and routing. It is aimed at a wide audience and is capable of developing API prototypes.It is used in the following cases:
  • You need problem indicator tools to make timely adjustments and edits.
  • You use several programming languages at once;
  • You work with reporting and financial calculations, forecasting;
  • You need to quickly create a simple application.
At the same time, the Python Web Framework Pyramid allows you to create complex applications with great functionality like a translation software.

ProsPyramid does an excellent job of developing basic applications quickly. It is quite flexible and easy to learn. In fact, the key to the success of this framework is that it is completely based on fundamental principles, using simple and basic programming techniques. It is minimalistic, but at the same time offers users a lot of freedom of action. It is able to work with both small applications and powerful multifunctional programs.

ConsIt is difficult to deviate from the basic principles. This Python tool makes the decision for you. Simple programs are very easy to implement. But to do something complex and large-scale, you have to completely immerse yourself in the study of the environment and obey it.

Grok
Python Tools to Try in 2021
Grok is a Python tool that works with templates. Its main task is to eliminate repetitions in the code. If the element is repeated, then the template that was already created earlier is simply applied. This greatly simplifies and speeds up the work.Grok suits developers in the following cases:
  • If a programmer has little experience and is not yet ready to develop his modules.
  • There is a need to quickly develop a simple application.
  • The functionality of the application is simple, straightforward, and the interface does not play a key role.

ProsThe Grok framework is a child of Zope3, which was released earlier. It has a simplified structure of work, easy installation of modules, more capabilities, and better flexibility. It is designed to develop small applications. Yes, it is not intended for complex work, but due to its functionality, it allows you to quickly implement a project.

ConsThe Grok community is not very large, as this Python tool has not gained widespread popularity. Nevertheless, it is used by Python adepts for comfortable development. It is impossible to implement complex tasks on it since the possibilities are quite limited.Grok is one of the best Python Web Frameworks. It is understandable and has enough features for comfortable development.

Web2Py
Python Tools to Try in 2021
Web2Py is a Python tool that has its own IDEwhich, which includes a code editor, debugger, and deployment. It works great without the need for configuration or installation, provides a high level of data security, and is suitable for work on various platforms.Web2Py is great in the following cases:
  • When there is a need to develop something on different operating systems.
  • If there is no way to install and configure the framework.
  • When a high level of data security is required, for example, when developing financial applications or sales performance management tools.
  • If you need to carefully track bugs right during development, and not during the testing phase.

ProsWeb2Py is capable of working with different protocols, has a built-in error tracker, and has a backward compatibility feature that helps to work on the basis of previous versions of the framework. This means that code maintenance becomes much easier and cheaper. It's free, open-source, and very flexible.

ConsAmong the many Python tools, there are not many that require the latest version of the language. Web2Py is one of those and won't work on Python 3 and below. Therefore, you need to constantly monitor the updates.Web2Py does an excellent job of its tasks. It is quite simple and accessible to everyone.

BlueBream
Python Tools to Try in 2021
BlueBream used to be called Zope3 before. It copes well with tasks of the medium and high level of complexity and is suitable for working on serious projects.

ProsThe BlueBream build system is quite powerful and suitable for complex tasks. You can create functional applications on it, and the principle of reuse of components makes the code easier. At the same time, the speed of development increases. The software can be scaled, and a transactional object database provides an easy path to store it. This means that queries are processed quickly and database management is simple.

ConsThis is not a very flexible framework, it is better to know clearly in advance what is required of it. In addition, it cannot withstand heavy loads. When working with 1000 users at the same time, it can crash and give errors. Therefore, it should be used to solve narrow problems.Python frameworks are often designed for specific tasks. BlueBream is one of these and is suitable for applications where database management plays a key role.

ConclusionPython tools come in different forms and have vastly different capabilities. There are quite a few of them, but in 2021 these will be the most popular and in demand. Experienced programmers always choose several development tools for their comfortable work.

29 March 2021

Jamie McClelland: The problem with Richard Stallman is not about free speech

Free speech and censorship are critically important issues. And, using them to defend Richard Stallman's return to the Free Software Foundation (FSF) board is just plain wrong. Richard Stallman resigned from the Board in 2019 after he sent an email in defense of Marvin Minsky (Minsky is accused of raping one of Jeffreys Epstein's victims). Stallman's fateful email, however, is just one piece of the reason for why he should not be on the board. The full story is about his history of abuse toward women and is extensive. On March 21st, 2021, Stallman announced he is back on the board. There are profound reasons why any movement interested in equitable and open participation would want to publicly distance themselves from Stallman. However, the long form defenses of Stallman, including a note from Nadine Strossen, the former executive director of the ACLU, quoted in this defense, persist. Many of the arguments defending Richard Stallman (including the one from Strossen) are grounded in a belief that Stallman is being punished for his unpopular political views, which deserve to be defended on the grounds of freedom of expression. That's wrong. Stallman should be kicked off the board because he has a long history of abusing his position to hit on women, which, when combined with his public opinions on under-age sex and his defense of Minsky, send a strong signal that the FSF does not care about the participation of women. Being on a board of directors is a privilege, not a right. Being removed from a board is not a punnishment. And being criticized and removed from a board because your behavior and public statements are an obstacle to building an inclusive and equitable movement is what every board should strive to do. If we are going to make this an issue about free expression, it should be about all the political expression lost to the free software movement because Stallman's unequal behavior toward women excluded an enormous number of talented individuals.

28 March 2021

Norbert Preining: RMS, Debian, and the world

Too much has been written, a war of support letters is going on, Debian is heading head first like Lemmings into the same war. And then, there is this by the first female President of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): Civil Rights Activist Nadine Strossen s Response To #CancelStallman:
I find it so odd that the strong zeal for revenge and punishment if someone says anything that is perceived to be sexist or racist or discriminatory comes from liberals and progressives. There are so many violations [in cases like Stallman s] of such fundamental principles to which progressives and liberals cling in general as to what is justice, what is fairness, what is due process.
One is proportionality: that the punishment should be proportional to the offense. Another one is restorative justice: that rather than retribution and punishment, we should seek to have the person constructively come to understand, repent, and make amends for an infraction. Liberals generally believe society to be too punitive, too harsh, not forgiving enough. They are certainly against the death penalty and other harsh punishments even for the most violent, the mass murderers. Progressives are right now advocating for the release of criminals, even murderers. To then have exactly the opposite attitude towards something that certainly is not committing physical violence against somebody, I don t understand the double standard!
Another cardinal principle is we shouldn t have any guilt by association. [To hold culpable] these board members who were affiliated with him and ostensibly didn t do enough to punish him for things that he said which by the way were completely separate from the Free Software Foundation is multiplying the problems of unwarranted punishment. It extends the punishment where the argument for responsibility and culpability becomes thinner and thinner to the vanishing point. That is also going to have an enormous adverse impact on the freedom of association, which is an important right protected in the U.S. by the First Amendment.
The Supreme Court has upheld freedom of association in cases involving organizations that were at the time highly controversial. It started with NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) during the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s, but we have a case that s going to the Supreme Court right now regarding Black Lives Matter. The Supreme Court says even if one member of the group does commit a crime in both of those cases physical violence and assault that is not a justification for punishing other members of the group unless they specifically intended to participate in the particular punishable conduct.
Now, let s assume for the sake of argument, Stallman had an attitude that was objectively described as discriminatory on the basis on race and gender (and by the way I have seen nothing to indicate that), that he s an unrepentant misogynist, who really believes women are inferior. We are not going to correct those ideas, to enlighten him towards rejecting them and deciding to treat women as equals through a punitive approach! The only approach that could possibly work is an educational one! Engaging in speech, dialogue, discussion and leading him to re-examine his own ideas.
Even if I strongly disagree with a position or an idea, an expression of an idea, advocacy of an idea, and even if the vast majority of the public disagrees with the idea and finds it offensive, that is not a justification for suppressing the idea. And it s not a justification for taking away the equal rights of the person who espouses that idea including the right to continue holding a tenured position or other prominent position for which that person is qualified.
But a number of the ideas for which Richard Stallman has been attacked and punished are ideas that I as a feminist advocate of human rights find completely correct and positive from the perspective of women s equality and dignity! So for example, when he talks about the misuse and over use and flawed use of the term sexual assault, I completely agree with that critique! People are indiscriminantly using that term or synonyms to describe everything from the most appaulling violent abuse of helpless vulnerable victims (such as a rape of a minor) to any conduct or expression in the realm of gender or sexuality that they find unpleasant or disagreeable.
So we see the term sexual assault and sexual harrassment used for example, when a guy asks a woman out on a date and she doesn t find that an appealing invitation. Maybe he used poor judgement in asking her out, maybe he didn t, but in any case that is NOT sexual assault or harassment. To call it that is to really demean the huge horror and violence and predation that does exist when you are talking about violent sexual assault. People use the term sexual assault/ sexual harassment to refer to any comment about gender or sexuality issues that they disagree with or a joke that might not be in the best taste, again is that to be commended? No! But to condemn it and equate it with a violent sexual assault again is really denying and demeaning the actual suffering that people who are victims of sexual assault endure. It trivializes the serious infractions that are committed by people like Jeffrey Epstein and Harvey Weinstein. So that is one point that he made that I think is very important that I strongly agree with.
Secondly and relatedly, [Richard Stallman] never said that he endorse child pornography, which by definition the United States Supreme Court has defined it multiple times is the sexual exploitation of an actual minor. Coerced, forced, sexual activity by that minor, with that minor that happens to be filmed or photographed. That is the definition of child pornography. He never defends that! What the point he makes, a very important one, which the U.S. Supreme Court has also made, is mainly that we overuse and distort the term child pornography to refer to any depiction of any minor in any context that is even vaguely sexual.
So some people have not only denounced as child pornography but prosecuted and jailed loving devoted parents who committed the crime of taking a nude or semi-nude picture of their own child in a bathtub or their own child in a bathing suit. Again it is the hysteria that has totally refused to draw an absolutely critical distinction between actual violence and abuse, which is criminal and should be criminal, to any potentially sexual depiction of a minor. And I say potentially because I think if you look at a picture a parent has taken of a child in a bathtub and you see that as sexual, then I d say there s something in your perspective that might be questioned or challenged! But don t foist that upon the parent who is lovingly documenting their beloved child s life and activities without seeing anything sexual in that image.
This is a decision that involves line drawing. We tend to have this hysteria where once we hear terms like pedophilia of course you are going to condemn anything that could possibly have that label. Of course you would. But societies around the world throughout history various cultures and various religions and moral positions have disagreed about at what age do you respect the autonomy and individuality and freedom of choice of a young person around sexuality. And the U.S. Supreme Court held that in a case involving minors right to choose to have an abortion.
By the way, [contraception and abortion] is a realm of sexuality where liberals and progressives and feminists have been saying, Yes! If you re old enough to have sex. You should have the right to contraception and access to it. You should have the right to have an abortion. You shouldn t have to consult with your parents and have their permission or a judge s permission because you re sufficiently mature. And the Supreme Court sided in accord of that position. The U.S. Supreme Court said constitutional rights do not magically mature and spring into being only when someone happens to attain the state defined age of majority.
In other words the constitution doesn t prevent anyone from exercising rights, including Rights and sexual freedoms, freedom of choice and autonomy at a certain age! And so you can t have it both ways. You can t say well we re strongly in favor of minors having the right to decide what to do with their own bodies, to have an abortion what is in some people s minds murder but we re not going to trust them to decide to have sex with somewhat older than they are.
And I say somewhat older than they are because that s something where the law has also been subject to change. On all issues of when you obtain the age of majority, states differ on that widely and they choose different ages for different activities. When you re old enough to drive, to have sex with someone around your age, to have sex with someone much older than you. There is no magic objective answer to these questions. I think people need to take seriously the importance of sexual freedom and autonomy and that certainly includes women, feminists. They have to take seriously the question of respecting a young person s autonomy in that area.
There have been famous cases of 18 year olds who have gone to prison because they had consensual sex with their girlfriends who were a couple of years younger. A lot of people would not consider that pedophilia and yet under some strict laws and some absolute definitions it is. Romeo and Juliet laws make an exception to pedophilia laws when there is only a relatively small age difference. But what is relatively small? So to me, especially when he says he is re-examining his position, Stallman is just thinking through the very serious debate of how to be protective and respectful of young people. He is not being disrespectful, much less wishing harm upon young people, which seems to be what his detractors think he s doing.
Unfortunately, I don t think the Anti-Harassment Team of Debian and others of the usual group of warriors will ever read less understand what is written there. So sad.

7 January 2021

Russell Coker: Monopoly the Game

The Smithsonian Mag has an informative article about the history of the game Monopoly [1]. The main point about Monopoly teaching about the problems of inequality is one I was already aware of, but there are some aspects of the history that I learned from the article. Here s an article about using modified version of Monopoly to teach Sociology [2]. Maria Paino and Jeffrey Chin wrote an interesting paper about using Monopoly with revised rules to teach Sociology [3]. They publish the rules which are interesting and seem good for a class. I think it would be good to have some new games which can teach about class differences. Maybe have an Escape From Poverty game where you have choices that include drug dealing to try and improve your situation or a cooperative game where people try to create a small business. While Monopoly can be instructive it s based on the economic circumstances of the past. The vast majority of rich people aren t rich from land ownership.

8 December 2020

Russell Coker: Links December 2020

Business Insider has an informative article about the way that Google users can get locked out with no apparent reason and no recourse [1]. Something to share with clients when they consider putting everything in the cloud . Vice has an interestoing article about people jailbreaking used Teslas after Tesla has stolen software licenses that were bought with the car [2]. The Atlantic has an interesting article titled This Article Won t Change Your Mind [3]. It s one of many on the topic of echo chambers but has some interesting points that others don t seem to cover, such as regarding the benefits of groups when not everyone agrees. Inequality.org has lots of useful information about global inequality [4]. Jeffrey Goldberg has an insightful interview with Barack Obama for the Atlantic about the future course of American politics and a retrospective on his term in office [5]. A Game Designer s Analysis Of QAnon is an insightful Medium article comparing QAnon to an augmented reality game [6]. This is one of the best analysis of QAnon operations that I ve seen. Decrypting Rita is one of the most interesting web comics I ve read [7]. It makes good use of side scrolling and different layers to tell multiple stories at once. PC Mag has an article about the new features in Chrome 87 to reduce CPU use [8]. On my laptop I have 1/3 of all CPU time being used when it is idle, the majority of which is from Chrome. As the CPU has 2 cores this means the equivalent of 1 core running about 66% of the time just for background tabs. I have over 100 tabs open which I admit is a lot. But it means that the active tabs (as opposed to the plain HTML or PDF ones) are averaging more than 1% CPU time on an i7 which seems obviously unreasonable. So Chrome 87 doesn t seem to live up to Google s claims. The movie Bad President starring Stormy Daniels as herself is out [9]. Poe s Law is passe. Interesting summary of Parler, seems that it was designed by the Russians [10]. Wired has an interesting article about Indistinguishability Obfuscation, how to encrypt the operation of a program [11]. Joerg Jaspert wrote an interesting blog post about the difficulties packagine Rust and Go for Debian [12]. I think that the problem is many modern languages aren t designed well for library updates. This isn t just a problem for Debian, it s a problem for any long term support of software that doesn t involve transferring a complete archive of everything and it s a problem for any disconnected development (remote sites and sites dealing with serious security. Having an automatic system for downloading libraries is fine. But there should be an easy way of getting the same source via an archive format (zip will do as any archive can be converted to any other easily enough) and with version numbers.

8 October 2020

Dirk Eddelbuettel: littler 0.3.12: Exciting updates

max-heap image The thirteenth release of littler as a CRAN package became available today (after a three day rest at CRAN for no real reason), following in the fourteen-ish year history as a package started by Jeff in 2006, and joined by me a few weeks later. littler is the first command-line interface for R as it predates Rscript. It allows for piping as well for shebang scripting via #!, uses command-line arguments more consistently and still starts faster. It also always loaded the methods package which Rscript only started to do in recent years. littler lives on Linux and Unix, has its difficulties on macOS due to yet-another-braindeadedness there (who ever thought case-insensitive filesystems as a default where a good idea?) and simply does not exist on Windows (yet the build system could be extended see RInside for an existence proof, and volunteers are welcome!). See the FAQ vignette on how to add it to your PATH. A few examples are highlighted at the Github repo, as well as in the examples vignette. This release brings five new example scripts and command wrappers: A number of commands were also extended or updated (see below for more). We have a new and very slick documentation website once again utilising Material for MkDocs. Last but not least the two included vignettes now use minidown and the fabulous water css theme which reduced the file sizes of the two vignettes from, respectively, 884kb and 873kb to 47kb and 15kb. Yes, that is correct. That alone brought the package file size down from 641kb to 116kb. Incredible. The NEWS file entry is below.

Changes in littler version 0.3.12 (2020-10-04)
  • Changes in examples
    • Updates to scripts tt.r, cos.r, cow.r, c4r.r, com.r
    • New script installDeps.r to install dependencies
    • Several updates tp script check.r
    • New script installBSPM.r and installRSPM.r for binary package installation (Dirk and I aki in #81)
    • New script cranIncoming.r to check in Incoming
    • New script urlUpdate.r validates URLs as R does
  • Changes in package
    • Travis CI now uses BSPM
    • A package documentation website was added
    • Vignettes now use minidown resulting in much reduced filesizes: from over 800kb to under 50kb (Dirk in #83)

My CRANberries provides a comparison to the previous release. Full details for the littler release are provided as usual at the ChangeLog page, and now also on the new package docs website. The code is available via the GitHub repo, from tarballs and now of course also from its CRAN page and via install.packages("littler"). Binary packages are available directly in Debian as well as soon via Ubuntu binaries at CRAN thanks to the tireless Michael Rutter. Comments and suggestions are welcome at the GitHub repo. If you like this or other open-source work I do, you can now sponsor me at GitHub. For the first year, GitHub will match your contributions.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

30 September 2020

Antoine Beaupr : Presentation tools

I keep forgetting how to make presentations. I had a list of tools in a wiki from a previous job, but that's now private and I don't see why I shouldn't share this (even if for myself!). So here it is. What's your favorite presentation tool?

Tips
  • if you have some text to present, outline keywords so that you can present your subject without reading every word
  • ideally, don't read from your slides - they are there to help people follow, not for people to read
  • even better: make your slides pretty with only a few words, or don't make slides at all
Further advice: I'm currently using Pandoc with PDF input (with a trip through LaTeX) for most slides, because PDFs are more reliable and portable than web pages. I've also used Libreoffice, Pinpoint, and S5 (through RST) in the past. I miss Pinpoint, too bad that it died. Some of my presentations are available in my GitLab.com account: See also my list of talks and presentations which I can't seem to keep up to date.

Tools

Beamer (LaTeX)
  • LaTeX class
  • Do not use directly unless you are a LaTeX expert or masochist, see Pandoc below
  • see also powerdot
  • Home page

Darkslide
  • HTML, Javascript
  • presenter notes, table of contents, Markdown, RST, Textile, themes, code samples, auto-reload
  • Home page, demo

Impress.js

Impressive
  • simply displays PDFs or images
  • page transitions, overview screen, highlighting
  • Home page

Libreoffice Impress
  • Powerpoint clone
  • Makes my life miserable
  • PDF export, presenter notes, outline view, etc
  • Home page, screenshots

Magicpoint
  • ancestor of everyone else (1997!)
  • text input format, image support, talk timer, slide guides, HTML/Postscript export, draw on slides, X11 output
  • no release since 2008
  • Home page

mdp and lookatme (commandline)

Pandoc
  • Allows converting from basically whatever into slides, including Beamer, DZSlides, reveal.js, slideous, slidy, Powerpoint
  • PDF, HTML, Powerpoint export, presentation notes, full screen background images
  • nice plain text or markdown input format
  • Home page, documentation

PDF Presenter
  • PDF presentation tool, shows presentation notes
  • basically "Keynote for Linux"
  • Home page, pdf-presenter-console in Debian

Pinpoint
  • Native GNOME app
  • Full screen slides, PDF export, live change, presenter notes, pango markup, video, image backgrounds
  • Home page
  • Abandoned since at least 2019

Reveal.js
  • HTML, Javascript
  • PDF export, Markdown, LaTeX support, syntax-highlighting, nested slides, speaker notes
  • Source code, demo

S5
  • HTML, CSS
  • incremental, bookmarks, keyboard controls
  • can be transformed from ReStructuredText (RST) with rst2s5 with python-docutils
  • Home page, demo

sent
  • X11 only
  • plain text, black on white, image support, and that's it
  • from the suckless.org elitists
  • Home page

Sozi
  • Entire presentation is one poster, zooming and jumping around
  • SVG + Javascript
  • Home page, demo

Other options Another option I have seriously considered is just generate a series of images with good resolution, hopefully matching the resolution (or at least aspect ratio) of the output device. Then you flip through a series of images one by one. In that case, any of those image viewers (not an exhaustive list) would work: Update: it turns out I already wrote a somewhat similar thing when I did a recent presentation. If you're into rants, you might enjoy the README file accompanying the Kubecon rant presentation. TL;DR: "makes me want to scream" and "yet another unsolved problem space, sigh" (refering to "display images full-screen" specifically).

6 September 2020

Russ Allbery: September haul

So many good books, so little reading time. Jairus Banaji A Brief History of Commercial Capitalism (nonfiction)
Steven Brust The Baron of Magister Valley (sff)
Micaiah Johnson The Space Between Worlds (sff)
Ian McDonald Luna: New Moon (sff)
Elizabeth Moon Trading in Danger (sff)
Tamsyn Muir Harrow the Ninth (sff)
Suzanne Palmer Finder (sff)
Kit Rocha Beyond Shame (sff)
Kit Rocha Beyond Control (sff)
Kit Rocha Beyond Pain (sff)
Arundhati Roy Azadi (nonfiction)
Jeff VanderMeer Authority (sff)
Jeff VanderMeer Acceptance (sff)
K.B. Wagers Behind the Throne (sff)
Jarrett Walker Human Transit (nonfiction) I took advantage of a few sales to get books I know I'm going to want to read eventually for a buck or two.

26 June 2020

Dirk Eddelbuettel: littler 0.3.11: docopt updates

max-heap image The twelveth release of littler as a CRAN package is now available, following in the fourteen-ish year history as a package started by Jeff in 2006, and joined by me a few weeks later. littler is the first command-line interface for R as it predates Rscript. It allows for piping as well for shebang scripting via #!, uses command-line arguments more consistently and still starts faster. It also always loaded the methods package which Rscript only started to do in recent years. littler lives on Linux and Unix, has its difficulties on macOS due to yet-another-braindeadedness there (who ever thought case-insensitive filesystems as a default where a good idea?) and simply does not exist on Windows (yet the build system could be extended see RInside for an existence proof, and volunteers are welcome!). See the FAQ vignette on how to add it to your PATH. A few examples are highlighted at the Github repo, as well as in the examples vignette. This release mostly responds to the recent docopt release 0.7.0 which brought a breaking change for quoted arguments. In short, it is for the better because an option --as-cran is now available parsed as opt$as_cran which is easier than the earlier form where we needed to back-tick protect as-cran containing an underscore. We also added a new portmanteau-ish option to roxy.r. The NEWS file entry is below.

Changes in littler version 0.3.11 (2020-06-26)
  • Changes in examples
    • Scripts check.r and rcc.r updated to reflect updated docopt 0.7.0 behaviour of quoted arguments
    • The roxy.r script has a new ease-of-use option -f --full regrouping two other options.

CRANberries provides a comparison to the previous release. Full details for the littler release are provided as usual at the ChangeLog page. The code is available via the GitHub repo, from tarballs and now of course also from its CRAN page and via install.packages("littler"). Binary packages are available directly in Debian as well as soon via Ubuntu binaries at CRAN thanks to the tireless Michael Rutter. Comments and suggestions are welcome at the GitHub repo. If you like this or other open-source work I do, you can now sponsor me at GitHub. For the first year, GitHub will match your contributions.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

3 June 2020

Dirk Eddelbuettel: littler 0.3.10: Some more updates

max-heap image The eleventh release of littler as a CRAN package is now available, following in the fourteen-ish year history as a package started by Jeff in 2006, and joined by me a few weeks later. littler is the first command-line interface for R as it predates Rscript. It allows for piping as well for shebang scripting via #!, uses command-line arguments more consistently and still starts faster. It also always loaded the methods package which Rscript only started to do in recent years. littler lives on Linux and Unix, has its difficulties on macOS due to yet-another-braindeadedness there (who ever thought case-insensitive filesystems as a default where a good idea?) and simply does not exist on Windows (yet the build system could be extended see RInside for an existence proof, and volunteers are welcome!). See the FAQ vignette on how to add it to your PATH. A few examples are highlighted at the Github repo, as well as in the examples vignette. This release adds a new helper / example script installBioc.r for BioConductor package installation, generalizes the roxygenize() wrapper roxy.r a little, and polished a couple of other corners. The NEWS file entry is below.

Changes in littler version 0.3.10 (2020-06-02)
  • Changes in examples
    • The update.r script only considers writeable directories.
    • The rcc.r script tries to report full logs by setting _R_CHECK_TESTS_NLINES_=0.
    • The tt.r script has an improved ncpu fallback.
    • Several installation and updating scripts set _R_SHLIB_STRIP_ to TRUE.
    • A new script installBioc.r was added.
    • The --error option to install2.r was generalized (Sergio Oller in #78).
    • The roxy.r script was extended a little.
  • Changes in package
    • Travis CI now uses R 4.0.0 and the bionic distro

CRANberries provides a comparison to the previous release. Full details for the littler release are provided as usual at the ChangeLog page. The code is available via the GitHub repo, from tarballs and now of course also from its CRAN page and via install.packages("littler"). Binary packages are available directly in Debian as well as soon via Ubuntu binaries at CRAN thanks to the tireless Michael Rutter. Comments and suggestions are welcome at the GitHub repo. If you like this or other open-source work I do, you can now sponsor me at GitHub. For the first year, GitHub will match your contributions.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

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