Search Results: "mace"

7 April 2020

Shirish Agarwal: GMRT 2020 and lots of stories

First of all, congratulations to all those who got us 2022 Debconf, so we will finally have a debconf in India. There is of course, lot of work to be done between now and then. For those who would be looking forward to visit India and especially Kochi I would suggest you to hear this enriching tale
I am sorry I used youtube link but it is too good a podcast not to be shared. Those who don t want youtube can use the link for the same as shared below. I am sure there are lot more details, questions, answers etc. but would direct them gently to Praveen, Shruti, Balasankar and the rest who are from Kochi to answer if you have any questions about that history.

National Science Day, GMRT 2020 First, as always, we are and were grateful to both NCRA as well as GMRT for taking such good care of us. Even though Akshat was not around, probably getting engaged, a few of us were there. About 6-7 from the Mozilla Nasik while the rest representing the foss community. Here is a small picture which commentrates the event
National Science Day, GMRT 2020
While there is and was a lot to share about the event. For e.g. Akshay had bought RPI- Zero as well as RPI-2 (Raspberry Pi s ) and showed some things. He had also bought up a Debian stable live drive with persistence although the glare from the sun was too much that we couldn t show it to clearly to students. This was also the case with RPI but still we shared what and how much we could. Maybe next year, we either ask them to have double screens or give us dark room so we can showcase things much better. We did try playing with contrast and all but it didn t have much of an effect  . Of course in another stall few students had used RPI s as part of their projects so at times we did tell some of the newbies to go to those stalls and see and ask about those projects so they would have a much wider experience of things. The Mozilla people were pushing VR as well as Mozilla lite the browser for the mobile. We also gossiped quite a bit. I shared about indicatelts , a third-party certificate extension although I dunno if I should file a wnpp about it or not. We didn t have a good experience of when I had put an RFP (Request for Package) which was accepted for an extension which had similar functionality which we later come to know was sharing the sites people were using the extension to call home and share both the URL and the IP Address they were using it from. Sadly, didn t leave a good taste in mouth

Delhi Riots One thing I have been disappointed with is the lack of general awareness about things especially in the youth. We have people who didn t know that for e.g. in the Delhi riots which happened recently the law and order (Police) lies with Home Minister of India, Amit Shah. This is perhaps the only capital in the world which has its own Chief Minister but doesn t have any say on its law and order. And this has been the case for last 70 years i.e. since independance. The closest I know so far is the UK but they too changed their tune in 2012. India and especially Delhi seems to be in a time-capsule which while being dysfunctional somehow is made to work. In many ways, it s three body or a body split into three personalities which often makes governance a messy issue but that probably is a topic for another day. In fact, scroll had written a beautiful editorial that full statehood for Delhi was not only Arvind Kejriwal s call (AAP) but also something that both BJP as well as Congress had asked in the past. In fact, nothing about the policing is in AAP s power. All salaries, postings, transfers of police personnel everything is done by the Home Ministry, so if any blame has to be given it has to be given to the Home Ministry for the same.

American Capitalism and Ventilators America had been having a history of high cost healthcare as can be seen in this edition of USA today from 2017 . The Affordable Care Act was signed as a law by President Obama in 2010 which Mr. Trump curtailed when he came into power couple of years back. An estimated 80,000 people died due to seasonal flu in 2018-19 . Similarly, anywhere between 24-63,000 have supposed to have died from Last October to February-March this year. Now if the richest country can t take care of their population which is 1/3rd of the population of this country while at the same time United States has thrice the area that India has. This I am sharing as seasonal flu also strikes the elderly as well as young children more than adults. So in one senses, the vulnerable groups overlap although from some of the recent stats, for Covid-19 even those who are 20+ are also vulnerable but that s another story altogether. If you see the CDC graph of the seasonal flu it is clear that American health experts knew about it. One another common factor which joins both the seasonal flu and covid is both need ventilators for the most serious cases. So, in 2007 it was decided that the number of ventilators needed to be ramped up, they had approximately 62k ventilators at that point in time all over U.S. The U.S. in 2010, asked for bids and got bid from a small californian company called Newport Medic Instruments. The price of the ventilators was approximately INR 700000 at 2010 prices, while Newport said they would be able to mass-produce at INR 200000 at 2010 prices. The company got the order and they started designing the model which needed to be certified by FDA. By 2011, they got the product ready when a big company called Covidgen bought Newport Medic and shutdown the project. This was shared in a press release in 2012. The whole story was broken by New York Times again, just a few days ago which highlighted how America s capitalism rough shod over public health and put people s life unnecessarily in jeopardy. If those new-age ventilators would have been a reality then not just U.S. but India and many other countries would have bought the ventilators as every county has same/similar needs but are unable to pay the high cost which in many cases would be passed on to their citizens either as price of service, or by raising taxes or a mixture of both with public being none the wiser. Due to dearth of ventilators and specialized people to operate it and space, there is possibility that many countries including India may have to make tough choices like Italian doctors had to make as to who to give ventilator to and have the mental and emotional guilt which would be associated with the choices made.

Some science coverage about diseases in wire and other publications Since Covid coverage broke out, the wire has been bringing various reports of India s handling of various epidemics, mysteries, some solved, some still remaining unsolved due to lack of interest or funding or both. The Nipah virus has been amply discussed in the movie Virus (2019) which I shared in the last blog post and how easily it could have been similar to Italy in Kerala. Thankfully, only 24 people including a nurse succumbed to that outbreak as shared in the movie. I had shared about Kerala nurses professionalism when I was in hospital couple of years back. It s no wonder that their understanding of hygeine and nursing procedures are a cut above the rest hence they are sought after not just in India but world-over including US and UK and the middle-east. Another study on respitory illness was bought to my attention by my friend Pavithran.

Possibility of extended lockdown in India There was talk in the media of extended lockdown or better put an environment is being created so that an extended lockdown can be done. This is probably in part due to a mathematical model and its derivatives shared by two Indian-origin Cambridge scholars who predict that a minimum 49 days lockdown may be necessary to flatten the covid curve about a week back.
Predictions of the outcome of the current 21-day lockdown (Source: Rajesh Singh, R. Adhikari, Cambridge University)
Alternative lockdown strategies suggested by the Cambridge model (Source: Rajesh Singh, R. Adhikari, Cambridge University)
India caving to US pressure on Hydroxychloroquine While there has been lot of speculation in U.S. about Hydroxychloroquine as the wonder cure, last night Mr. Trump threatened India in a response to a reporter that Mr. Modi has to say no for Hydroxychloroquine and there may be retaliations.
As shared before if youtube is not your cup you can see the same on Now while there have been several instances in the past of U.S. trying to bully India, going all the way back to 1954. In fact, in recent memory, there were sanctions on India by US under Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government (BJP) 1998 but he didn t buckle under the pressure and now we see our current PM taking down our own notification from a day ago and not just sharing Hydroxychloroquine but also Paracetemol to other countries so it would look as if India is sharing with other countries. Keep in mind, that India, Brazil haven t seen eye to eye on trade agreements of late and Paracetemol prices have risen in India. The price rise has been because the API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) for the same come from China where the supply chain will take time to be fixed and we would also have to open up, although should we, should we not is another question altogether. I talk about supply chains as lean supply chains were the talk since late 90 s when the Japanese introduced Just-in-time manufacturing which lead to lean supply chains as well as lot of outsourcing as consequence. Of course, the companies saved money but at the cost of flexibility and how this model was perhaps flawed was shared by a series of articles in Economist as early as 2004 when there were lot of shocks to that model and would be exaberated since then. There have been frequent shocks to these fragile ecosystem more since 2008 after the financial meltdown and this would put more companies out of business than ever before. The MSME sector in India had already been severely impacted first by demonetization and then by the horrendous implementation of GST whose cries can be heard from all sectors. Also the frequent changing of GST taxes has made markets jumpy and investors unsure. With judgements such as retrospective taxes, AGR (Adjusted Gross Revenue) etc. it made not only the international investors scared, but also domestic investors. The flight of the capital has been noticeable. This I had shared before when Indian Government shared about LRS report which it hasn t since then. In fact Outlook Business had an interesting article about it where incidentally it talked about localcircles, a community networking platform where you get to know of lot of things and whom I am also a member of. At the very end I apologize for not sharing the blog post before but then I was feeling down but then I m not the only one.

29 March 2020

Paulo Henrique de Lima Santana: My free software activities in February 2020

My free software activities in february 2020 March is ending but I finally wrote my monthly report about activities in Debian and Free Software in general for February. As I already wrote here, I attended to FOSDEM 2020 on February 1st and 2nd in Brussels. It was a amazing experience. After my return to Curitiba, I felt my energies renewed to start new challenges.

MiniDebConf Macei 2020 I continued helping to organize MiniDebConf and I got positive answers from 4Linux and and they are sponsorsing the event.

FLISOL 2020 I started to talk with Maristela from IEP - Instituto de Engenharia do Paran and after some messages and I joined a meeting with her and other members of C mara T cnica de Eletr nica, Computa o e Ci ncias de Dados. I explained about FLISOL in Curitiba to them and they agreed to host the event at IEP. I asked to use three spaces: Auditorium for FLISOL talks, Sal o Nobre for meetups from WordPress and PostgreSQL Communities, and the hall for Install Fest. Besides FLISOL, they would like to host other events and meetups from Communities in Curitiba as Python, PHP, and so on. At least one per month. I helped to schedule a PHP Paran Community meetup on March.

New job Since 17th I started to work at Rentcars as Infrastructure Analyst. I m very happy to work there because we use a lot of FLOSS and with nice people. Ubuntu LTS is the approved OS for desktops but I could install Debian on my laptop :-)

Misc I signed pgp keys from friends I met in Brussels and I had my pgp key signed by them. Finally my MR to the DebConf20 website fixing some texts was accepted. I have watched v deos from FOSDEM
  1. Until now, I saw these great talks:
  • Growing Sustainable Contributions Through Ambassador Networks
  • Building Ethical Software Under Capitalism
  • Cognitive biases, blindspots and inclusion
  • Building a thriving community in company-led open source projects
  • Building Community for your Company s OSS Projects
  • The Ethics of Open Source
  • Be The Leader You Need in Open Source
  • The next generation of contributors is not on IRC
  • Open Source Won, but Software Freedom Hasn t Yet
  • Open Source Under Attack
  • Lessons Learned from Cultivating Open Source Projects and Communities
That s all folks!

21 May 2017

Russ Allbery: Review: Sector General

Review: Sector General, by James White
Series: Sector General #5
Publisher: Orb
Copyright: 1983
Printing: 2002
ISBN: 0-312-87770-6
Format: Trade paperback
Pages: 187
Sector General is the fifth book (or, probably more accurately, collection) in the Sector General series. I blame the original publishers for the confusion. The publication information is for the Alien Emergencies omnibus, which includes the fourth through the sixth books in the series. Looking back on my previous reviews of this series (wow, it's been eight years since I read the last one?), I see I was reviewing them as novels rather than as short story collections. In retrospect, that was a mistake, since they're composed of clearly stand-alone stories with a very loose arc. I'm not going to go back and re-read the earlier collections to give them proper per-story reviews, but may as well do this properly here. Overall, this collection is more of the same, so if that's what you want, there won't be any negative surprises. It's another four engineer-with-a-wrench stories about biological and medical puzzles, with only a tiny bit of characterization and little hint to any personal life for any of the characters outside of the job. Some stories are forgettable, but White does create some memorable aliens. Sadly, the stories don't take us to the point of real communication, so those aliens stop at biological puzzles and guesswork. "Combined Operation" is probably the best, although "Accident" is the most philosophical and an interesting look at the founding principle of Sector General. "Accident": MacEwan and Grawlya-Ki are human and alien brought together by a tragic war, and forever linked by a rather bizarre war monument. (It's a very neat SF concept, although the implications and undiscussed consequences don't bear thinking about too deeply.) The result of that war was a general recognition that such things should not be allowed to happen again, and it brought about a new, deep commitment to inter-species tolerance and politeness. Which is, in a rather fascinating philosophical twist, exactly what MacEwan and Grawlya-Ki are fighting against: not the lack of aggression, which they completely agree with, but with the layers of politeness that result in every species treating all others as if they were eggshells. Their conviction is that this cannot create a lasting peace. This insight is one of the most profound bits I've read in the Sector General novels and supports quite a lot of philosophical debate. (Sadly, there isn't a lot of that in the story itself.) The backdrop against which it plays out is an accidental crash in a spaceport facility, creating a dangerous and potentially deadly environment for a variety of aliens. Given the collection in which this is included and the philosophical bent described above, you can probably guess where this goes, although I'll leave it unspoiled if you can't. It's an idea that could have been presented with more subtlety, but it's a really great piece of setting background that makes the whole series snap into focus. A much better story in context than its surface plot. (7) "Survivor": The hospital ship Rhabwar rescues a sole survivor from the wreck of an alien ship caused by incomplete safeguards on hyperdrive generators. The alien is very badly injured and unconscious and needs the full attention of Sector General, but on the way back, the empath Prilicla also begins suffering from empathic hypersensitivity. Conway, the protagonist of most of this series, devotes most of his attention to that problem, having delivered the rescued alien to competent surgical hands. But it will surprise no regular reader that the problems turn out to be linked (making it a bit improbable that it takes the doctors so long to figure that out). A very typical entry in the series. (6) "Investigation": Another very typical entry, although this time the crashed spaceship is on a planet. The scattered, unconscious bodies of the survivors, plus signs of starvation and recent amputation on all of them, convinces the military (well, police is probably more accurate) escort that this is may be a crime scene. The doctors are unconvinced, but cautious, and local sand storms and mobile vegetation add to the threat. I thought this alien design was a bit less interesting (and a lot creepier). (6) "Combined Operation": The best (and longest) story of this collection. Another crashed alien spacecraft, but this time it's huge, large enough (and, as they quickly realize, of a design) to indicate a space station rather than a ship, except that it's in the middle of nowhere and each segment contains a giant alien worm creature. Here, piecing together the biology and the nature of the vehicle is only the beginning; the conclusion points to an even larger problem, one that requires drawing on rather significant resources to solve. (On a deadline, of course, to add some drama.) This story requires the doctors to go unusually deep into the biology and extrapolated culture of the alien they're attempting to rescue, which made it more intellectually satisfying for me. (7) Followed by Star Healer. Rating: 6 out of 10

20 March 2017

Bits from Debian: DebConf17 welcomes its first eighteen sponsors!

DebConf17 logo DebConf17 will take place in Montreal, Canada in August 2017. We are working hard to provide fuel for hearts and minds, to make this conference once again a fertile soil for the Debian Project flourishing. Please join us and support this landmark in the Free Software calendar. Eighteen companies have already committed to sponsor DebConf17! With a warm welcome, we'd like to introduce them to you. Our first Platinum sponsor is Savoir-faire Linux, a Montreal-based Free/Open-Source Software company which offers Linux and Free Software integration solutions and actively contributes to many free software projects. "We believe that it's an essential piece [Debian], in a social and political way, to the freedom of users using modern technological systems", said Cyrille B raud, president of Savoir-faire Linux. Our first Gold sponsor is Valve, a company developing games, social entertainment platform, and game engine technologies. And our second Gold sponsor is Collabora, which offers a comprehensive range of services to help its clients to navigate the ever-evolving world of Open Source. As Silver sponsors we have credativ (a service-oriented company focusing on open-source software and also a Debian development partner), Mojatatu Networks (a Canadian company developing Software Defined Networking (SDN) solutions), the Bern University of Applied Sciences (with over 6,600 students enrolled, located in the Swiss capital), Microsoft (an American multinational technology company), Evolix (an IT managed services and support company located in Montreal), Ubuntu (the OS supported by Canonical) and Roche (a major international pharmaceutical provider and research company dedicated to personalized healthcare). ISG.EE, IBM, Bluemosh, Univention and Skroutz are our Bronze sponsors so far. And finally, The Linux foundation, R seau Koumbit and are our supporter sponsors. Become a sponsor too! Would you like to become a sponsor? Do you know of or work in a company or organization that may consider sponsorship? Please have a look at our sponsorship brochure (or a summarized flyer), in which we outline all the details and describe the sponsor benefits. For further details, feel free to contact us through, and visit the DebConf17 website at

2 January 2017

Shirish Agarwal: India Tourism, E-Visa and Hong Kong

A Safe and Happy New Year to all. While Debconf India is still a pipe-dream as of now, did see that India has been gradually doing it easier for tourists and casual business visitors to come visit India. This I take as very positive development for India itself. The 1st condition is itself good for anybody visiting India
Eligibility International Travellers whose sole objective of visiting India is recreation , sight-seeing , casual visit to meet friends or relatives, short duration medical treatment or casual business visit. That this facility is being given to 130 odd countries is better still
Albania, Andorra, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Cape Verde, Cayman Island, Chile, China, China- SAR Hong-Kong, China- SAR Macau, Colombia, Comoros, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cote d lvoire, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Laos, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niue Island, Norway, Oman, Palau, Palestine, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos Island, Tuvalu, UAE, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, USA, Vanuatu, Vatican City-Holy See, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
This should make it somewhat easier for any Indian organizer as well as any participants from any of the member countries shared. There is possibility that this list would even get longer, provided we are able to scale our airports and all and any necessary infrastructure that would be needed for International Visitors to have a good experience. What has been particularly interesting is to know which ports of call are being used by International Visitors as well as overall growth rate
The Percentage share of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during November, 2016 among the top 15 source countries was highest from USA (15.53%) followed by UK (11.21%), Bangladesh (10.72%), Canada (4.66%), Russian Fed (4.53%), Australia (4.04%), Malaysia (3.65%), Germany (3.53%), China (3.14%), France (2.88%), Sri Lanka (2.49%), Japan (2.49%), Singapore (2.16%), Nepal (1.46%) and Thailand (1.37%).
And port of call
The Percentage share of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during November 2016 among the top 15 ports was highest at Delhi Airport (32.71%) followed by Mumbai Airport (18.51%), Chennai Airport (6.83%), Bengaluru Airport (5.89%), Haridaspur Land check post (5.87%), Goa Airport (5.63%), Kolkata Airport (3.90%), Cochin Airport (3.29%), Hyderabad Airport (3.14%), Ahmadabad Airport (2.76%), Trivandrum Airport (1.54%), Trichy Airport (1.53%), Gede Rail (1.16%), Amritsar Airport (1.15%), and Ghojadanga land check post (0.82%) .
The Ghojadanga land check post seems to be between West Bengal, India and Bangladesh. Gede Railway Station is also in West Bengal as well. So all and any overlanders could take any of those ways.Even Hardispur Land Check post comes in the Bengal-Bangladesh border only. In the airports, Delhi Airport seems to be attracting lot more business than the Mumbai Airport. Part of the reason I *think* is the direct link of Delhi Airport to NDLS via the Delhi Airport Express Line . The same when it will happen in Mumbai should be a game-changer for city too. Now if you are wondering why I have been suddenly talking about visas and airports in India, it came because Hong Kong is going to Withdraw Visa Free Entry Facility For Indians. Although, as rightly pointed out in the article doesn t make sense from economic POV and seems to be somewhat politically motivated. Not that I or anybody else can do anything about that. Seeing that, I thought it was a good opportunity to see how good/Bad our Government is and it seems to be on the right path. Although the hawks (Intelligence and Counter-Terrorist Agencies) will probably become a bit more paranoid , their work becomes tougher.
Filed under: Miscellenous Tagged: #Airport Metro Line 3, #CSIA, #Incredible India, #India, #International Tourism

3 September 2016

Iustin Pop: Nationalpark Bike Marathon 2016

Nationalpark Bike Marathon 2016 report: gravity rules! "Marathon" is a bit of a misnomer, since I did the short route, not the medium nor the long one. But hey, it's the official name! Setup This race has four possible lengths: "Valader" which is full round-trip Scuol-Scuol (137km/4'026m), "Jauer" (Fuldera-Scuol, 103km/2'934m), "Livignasco" (Livigno-Scuol, 66km/1'871m) and "Put r" (S-chanf to Scuol, 47Km/1'051m). After many debates, I settled on the Livignasco route, as that was what I was reasonably confident to be able to do. The only problem was that this route (and all the longer ones, of course) were going over Pass Chaschauna, which is a quite hard climb. My bike shop person, who did the full length a number of times, just said when hearing the route I was planning: "Chaschauna is a bitch " Bad language, proper characterisation. The route choice also impacts the logistics: except for the full route, the question is where to sleep the night before? One can sleep either at the start place, or sleep in Scuol itself and take the official shuttle to the start place, but this means waking up much earlier. I decided to sleep in Livigno, as with a 7:45 start this would allow me to sleep until ~6:30, have a quick breakfast and be in time for the race. Problem #1 So on Friday (26th) I drove to Scuol, picked up my start number, and then drove over to Livigno and checked in to the hotel. Speaking of picking up the start number, I saw this at the start area: While picking up my start number: the race is so fast that an STI is needed as pacer?? An STI needed as pacer? How fast are these people, I wondered? Day of the race My plan to have a relaxing sleep until relatively late failed. I went to sleep with difficulties: late dinner due to my late arrival in Livigno, and then I was stressed enough about not missing the race that at 05:05 I already woke up, and was checking the clock every five minutes. Finally at 05:30 I gave up and got out of bed, with only about 6 hours of sleep. Problem #2. The other problem was that I na vely thought the hotel will have breakfast from 07:00 or even 07:30. Hah, as if this was Switzerland. The hotel had breakfast from 08:00, no reason to hurry, right? So I had a poor man's breakfast in the room, some energy bars and an ice tea. Problem #3. At least I had time to grab this picture from the hotel room: Good morning Livigno! Not bad. On to the race! But before that, remember to fill my hydration pack with 3L of water, and put it in my not-so-light backpack. Of course I had tools and some spare parts with me, what if something happens? Problem #4, over-planning. The race The setup at the start was pretty easy. Wait near the start until 07:45, then go. For me, not too in front, of course: Ready for the start! Pass Chaschauna About 3 kilometres of easy/flat road, and then it starts. Pass Chaschauna, killing your legs softly Already climbing  on foot! But not everybody. But at least the pictures were nice! The climb is hard, but the view is worth it! Still climbing So high already! Good legs :) Looking back: it's been a loong way up I can see the top!  and the remaining steep meters to climb :( The climb is difficult. It was around 22% for most of the time, and very few people were able to bike up. Not only the absolute meters were the problem, but also the fact that the ground was quite loose, and pushing the bike, or rather climbing up while pushing the bike, was difficult to do in bike shoes with cleats. Proper hiking shoes would have been much more adequate. Maybe this is why despite the effort, some people biked as much as possible? I was careful not to over-exert myself and walked almost all the way up. Hence the pictures But at last, reached the top of the pass, and was very happy to be done with it. The GPX file from my Garmin says it took only 4 minutes (1.2km) after the race start to actually start climbing (it was not obvious we were climbing so early), and then 1h:20m/8Km to get from 1'817m altitude to the highest point at 2'658m. 8Km in 1h:20m, faster than walking pace but quite slower than running pace (on flat terrain, of course). At the top of the pass I was quite happy: Finally at the top! Clipping in and Go! Smilling and happy! And then the descent started: I wonder how steep it will be going down This was an easy section :/ All the way leading to the race I kept thinking only about climbing Chaschauna, and not about going down on it. It was quite an experience, which I won't forget soon. The trail was already well travelled, which means that besides the loose ground in form of large clumps of dried earth, there was a layer of fine, somewhat moist earth, about 3-5 centimetres deep, which made the downhill "interesting". Coupled with what was a much steeper trail than going up I saw most of the time ~33% it's no surprise that many, or even most, of the people were walking their bikes down. The GPX track says that the trail goes 319m down in 1Km (so a 31.9% over one entire kilometre), then another 130m over the next 1.4Km (9.28%), and then (not sure if this is the pass per se or after) another longer segment of ~260m over 3Km (8.56%). The first steep segment needs lots of skill and concentration, the others are normal gradients. But at least things go fast. What took uphill took ~40 minutes for the last 450m up, downhill it took only 15 minutes! Falling I was able, thanks to recent training, to bike down the trail, or at least I thought so. So on the steep segment I was struggling to bike down and keep control of my bike, putting one leg down on some sections but in general being "on the bike", being hit by the dirt I was throwing in the air despite the mud-guards, being careful but at the same time enjoying this difficult section. That is, right up to the point where I got, I think, too comfortable. After the second-to-last curve, the rear wheel slides, I lose balance and fall in the (thankfully soft) dirt a bit more forcefully than I should have, the bike also sliding along in the dirt. No damage to myself, just some trivial scratches; the bike seems a bit shaken (fork was turned 180 , full of dirt, etc.). I get again on the bike and I continue down; however, something seems off: the rear brake level doesn't have a return anymore, I have to push it to go back. Still usable, but strange. So I continue the other two segment of this descent, and over these ~4-5Km I feel the brake issue going worse and worse: it's actually hard to push the brake lever back, and even pressing it doesn't seem to have much effect. And then the realisation dawns on my: I have hydraulic brakes, and the worsening thing leads me to think my brake hose has been punctured (by what? I fell in loose dirt) and I'm losing the brake fluid with every press. Now, on flat road, biking with only the front brake is tricky but doable. On an MTB course, having only one brake is not a smart thing . Not easy, not smart, and definitely dangerous. It also felt very strange to not have both brakes, and then I realised how much I work with the brakes in unison. I knew that there are repair posts in the race, but I didn't know if they can fix such things (and doing a brake fluid refill how complicated is it, how much time does it take?). Anyway, I resolved to try and continue if the terrain allows until I reach the first repair post, and stop if it gets too steep. It would be pretty sad to have to abort the race after only 10Km, right? The terrain did cooperate: up and down, so I was able to bleed speed easily, and even though through forest, the visibility was good enough that I could plan ahead. It was strangely lonely at this time: I was going slowly and thus not reaching from behind anyone, but also not being reached by riders from behind. I did enjoy it a bit, the quietness of the forest, just interrupted by the squeaking of my front brake And then I finally see the sign for "Repair: 1Km". Yaaay! maybe I don't have to quit the race. And then, about 100m further on, another sign: "Danger! Steep descent". Uh-oh tantalisingly close Let's go slow. And yes, here I was overtaken by 3-4 other cyclists. This was the single moment in the race where I did have a moment of real fear: at one point, I was going down with the remaining brake as pressed as I could without compromising stability, and I was still gaining speed. Not smart, and as I was debating how to fall to stop my descent, the terrain started to get less steep, and I finally reached the repair station, at kilometre 21. Difficult repairs There was another person being serviced for a flat rear tire, so I wait in line and discuss with him my problem. Upon hearing I only had the front brake, he said: "Wow, how did you manage to descend this last segment?" "Well, slowly ". My turn came up, I explain my problem and my theory, and the repair guy gives me one look, the bike one look, but doesn't look at the brake hose. Instead, he looks once at the brake lever, sees that another cable guide on my handle bar was bent during the fall and actually was mechanically interfering with the brake lever, unbends that thing, and says "here you go". I was stunned. 15 seconds of looking at the problem without stress, and the problem was solved. I could have done this myself if I took the time to look and think, and not hurry. And I could have enjoyed all the downhill on the pass, with two functioning brakes. Some lessons have to be learned the hard way, and this was one. I got off easy though, as I didn't have a real accident while biking with only one brake. And they say you get wiser as you get older Anyway, brake repaired, I stopped at the Sanit r tent to have my scratches disinfected, and onwards. The following few kilometres until S-chanf I enjoyed very much. S-chanf And then, 2 hours 10 minutes into the race, I exit the forest trail, reach S-chanf, and start climbing and descending and climbing and descending. In the sun, which now (after 10 AM) is not that light anymore. The initial climb at S-chanf, while not much, took away my remaining short-term reserves. The route is 50m ascent, then down and then another 50m ascent, and after a bit of flat another 75m ascent I was getting tired, despite eating energy bars and drinking water (and juice at stops). This goes one for an entire hour, during which I cover about 23Km, so not a bad speed everything considered. But getting more and more tired. There were also some very nice segments, along the river, in the shade of the forest. Some fast downhill, some fast flat. I got overtaken by quite a few real racers, that were going so fast I couldn't keep up with them as in I didn't dare ride that fast even when I had the energy. Clearly they were from the longer segments, and boy were they fast! A number of couples (or pairs?) one woman one man, a number of bigger groups, all going as if they had E-bikes or super-powers, not just biking along tired like me Last climb And then, the last big climb: half an hour of going about 300m up (absolute values, so cumulative number would probably be higher), in the sun, over about 6Km, so only 5% average gradient. But I was tired and even resorted to walking on some portions At least I could take some pictures again: Much later, climbing again. Or have pictures taken: A bit of a smile left. Yes, that's a smile, not a grimace! Nice views: Look, nice castle! Stopping for a picture, and not because I was *dead tired* :) At one point, in a bit of a shade, I stop to catch my breath. Somebody else stopped as well and, seeing as I was checking my GPS, asks: I got overtaken by a lot of cyclists here, although many of them were from S-chanf route (based on the number colour). Sad The thing is, besides the climbing and the sun, this and the previous part was a very nice route: through small towns, high above the valley, beautiful landscapes, etc. Just enjoying it was hard, since I wasn't a) trained well enough and b) prepared well enough. Last segment, last downhill In any case, after that hard half hour, it's flat (or rather said, average gradient zero): Flat route, good pavement. Can catch my breath, and take a another picture. Good road, good views, but I'm on the last virtual bar of my battery, so the remaining 15Km I do in 40 minutes, also "eating" the last ascent meters still about 300 left, I think, but up/down/up/down, so you could reuse kinetic energy to gain potential one. The only question I had now was, the route was at this moment about 400m higher (in absolute altitude) than the finish point, so when do we lose that altitude? The answer was a very very nice answer: in the last 5Km, for an average gradient of 8%, just perfect. I was tired however, so I couldn't really enjoy or go fast here, but it was a good feeling. Finish! And then, entering Scuol, not really believing I'm near the finish, that I will be able to actually stop and relax. My finish picture doesn't do justice to how happy I was at that moment: At the finish, happy happy happy! However, after passing the finish line, it was a bit weird. I just stop now? What next? So weird to just walk, not push pedals, and not go up. Or down. The funny thing here was that I thought I didn't use much of my water (hydration pack) during the race. But soon after finishing, I drank the equivalent of about two glasses (let's say 0.5L) and it was over. So I did manage to drink 2.5L during the race, plus the sport drinks at the stops. Time for stats: my Garmin says 67.07Km, 4h:29m, average speed 15.0kph (hah), 1'615m elevation gain. Official numbers say 66Km, 1'871m elevation, and thus 14.22kph. Ranking-wise: Sigh, could have done better. I was aiming for somewhere around last 33%, not last 25% :-P First classed was ~66% faster than me Going to the train station was hard as in difficult to move my legs. Took one nice picture of Scuol though, so was able to think a bit: After the race: Scuol is not so bad And then the long way back to Livigno. Took me 4 h to bike to Scuol, and about 3 hours to go back via public transport. At least I ate a sandwich in the meantime. Then reached Livigno, which was also looking nice: Took me almost as long by public transport as by bike, but finally back in Livigno. Also nice! Then got on my bike, which at this point was magically light and easy to ride (it seems I was at least partially recovered), rode to the hotel, packed my stuff, and drove home. On the highway I had my first real meal for that day, but I was quite tired so didn't feel like the achievement it should have been Lessons The biggest takeaway from this race was the huge learning experience I got. The race was itself awesome, but the learning even more so. First, for this particular race, it's much better to sleep in Scuol and (if not doing the whole route) take the shuttle to the actual start. Yes, one has to wake up earlier, but you have assured breakfast via the organisers (++++!), and after the race you don't have to get even more tired by taking the train and the bus and Second, I need better logistics: I don't need to carry that heavy load (spare tube, pump, tools, jacket in case it's cold) when the race is well organised. The water in the hydration pack was useful, but carrying it up Chaschauna was a pain. Not sure what I'll do next; it's possible to survive only on water/drinks from the food posts (basically 2.5-2.8L is equivalent to only 4 750ml bottles, and there were I think about 6 stops?), but the hydration pack is so easy to use Keeping one's head cool and not stress about things also would help: had I looked at my brake lever in peace, I could have solved it myself, and not ride ~10Km with only one brake. Also, losing some weight (as in losing fat, not having a lighter bike) would definitely help. I could stand to lose 5Kg easily, probably 10Kg, and that would bring me more in line with other people in the race (at least looking at the pictures). And hey, my Watts/Kg would improve magically! And last but most important, I need better training. Training on how to use my energy, training longer rides so that my body gets used to it and doesn't bonk after 3 hours, training training training. Which I like, but the problem is time to do it Also, in case anybody wonders: yes, I do recommend this race! It was definitely fun, and the route itself is very nice, nicer than the pictures here show. Closing words: gravity rules. Up or down, it's hard and punishing. Still: Ride on!

19 August 2016

Olivier Gr goire: Conclusion Google Summer of Code 2016

SmartInfo project with Debian alt text 1. Me Before getting into the thick of my project, let me present myself:
I am Olivier Gr goire (Gasuleg), and I study IT engineering at cole de Technologie sup rieure in Montreal.
I am an technician in electronics, and I began object-oriented programming just last year.
I applied to GSoC because I loved the concept of the project that I would work on and I really wanted to be part of it. I also wanted to discover the word of the free software. 2. My Project During this GSoC, I worked on the Ring project. Ring is a free software for communication that allows its users to make audio or video calls, in pairs or groups, and to send messages, safely and freely, in confidence. Savoir-faire Linux and a community of contributors worldwide develop Ring. It is available on GNU/Linux, Windows, Mac OSX and Android. It can be associated with a conventional phone service or integrated with any connected object. Under this very easy to use software, there is a combination of technologies and innovations opening all kinds of perspectives to its users and developers. Ring is a free software whose code is open. Therefore, it is not the software that controls you. With Ring, you take control of your communication! Ring is an open source software under the GPL v3 license. Everyone can verify the codes and propose new ones to improve the software s performace. It is a guarantee of transparency and freedom for everyone!
Source: The problem is about the typical user of Ring, the one who don t use the terminal to launch Ring. He has no information about what has happened in the system. My goal is to create a tool that display statistics of Ring. 3. Quick Explanation of What My Program Can Do The Code
Here are the links to the code I was working on all throughout the Google Summer of Code (You can see what I have done after the GSoC by clicking on the newest patchs):
Patch Status
Daemon On Review
Lib Ring Client (LRC) On Review
Gnome client On review
Remove unused code Merged
This is the final list of information I can display and some ideas on what information we could display in the future:
Information Details Done?
Call ID The identification number of the call Yes
Resolution Local and remote Yes
Framerate Local and remote Yes
Codec Audio and video in local and remote Yes
Bandwidth Download and upload No
Performance use CPU, GPU, RAM No
Security level In SIP call No
Connection time No
Packets lost No

To launch it you need to right click on the call and click on Show advanced information .
alt text
To stop it, same thing: right click on the call and click on Hide advanced information .
4. More Details About My Project My program needs to retrieve information from the daemon (LibRing) and then display it in gnome client. So, I needed to create a patch for the daemon, the D-Bus layer (in the daemon patch), LibRingClient and the GNU/Linux (Gnome) client.
This is what the architecture of the project looks like.
alt text
source: And this is how I implemented my project.
alt text
5. Future of the Project 6. Thanks I would like to thank the following:
- The Google Summer of Code organisation, for this wonderful experience.
- Debian, for accepting my project proposal and letting me embark on this fantastic adventure.
- My mentor, Mr Guillaume Roguez, and all his team, for being there to help me.

Olivier Gr goire: Conclusion Google Summer of Code 2016

SmartInfo project with Debian alt text 1. Me Before getting into the thick of my project, let me present myself:
I am Olivier Gr goire (Gasuleg), and I study IT engineering at cole de Technologie sup rieure in Montreal.
I am a technician in electronics, and I began object-oriented programming just last year.
I applied to GSoC because I loved the concept of the project that I would work on and I really wanted to be part of it. I also wanted to discover the word of the free software. 2. My Project During this GSoC, I worked on the Ring project. Ring is a free software for communication that allows its users to make audio or video calls, in pairs or groups, and to send messages, safely and freely, in confidence. Savoir-faire Linux and a community of contributors worldwide develop Ring. It is available on GNU/Linux, Windows, Mac OSX and Android. It can be associated with a conventional phone service or integrated with any connected object. Under this very easy to use software, there is a combination of technologies and innovations opening all kinds of perspectives to its users and developers. Ring is a free software whose code is open. Therefore, it is not the software that controls you. With Ring, you take control of your communication! Ring is an open source software under the GPL v3 license. Everyone can verify the codes and propose new ones to improve the software s performace. It is a guarantee of transparency and freedom for everyone!
Source: The problem is about the typical user of Ring, the one who don t use the terminal to launch Ring. He has no information about what has happened in the system. My goal is to create a tool that display statistics of Ring. 3. Quick Explanation of What My Program Can Do The Code
Here are the links to the code I was working on all throughout the Google Summer of Code (You can see what I have done after the GSoC by clicking on the newest patchs):
Patch Status
Daemon Merged
Lib Ring Client (LRC) On Review
Gnome client On Review
Remove unused code Merged

What Can Be Displayed?
This is the final list of information I can display and some ideas on what information we could display in the future:
Information Details Done?
Call ID The identification number of the call Yes
Resolution Local and remote Yes
Framerate Local and remote Yes
Codec Audio and video in local and remote Yes
Bandwidth Download and upload No
Performance use CPU, GPU, RAM No
Security level In SIP call No
Connection time No
Packets lost No

To launch it you need to right click on the call and click on Show advanced information .
alt text
To stop it, same thing: right click on the call and click on Hide advanced information .
4. More Details About My Project My program needs to retrieve information from the daemon (LibRing) and then display it in gnome client. So, I needed to create a patch for the daemon, the D-Bus layer (in the daemon patch), LibRingClient and the GNU/Linux (Gnome) client.
This is what the architecture of the project looks like.
alt text
source: And this is how I implemented my project.
alt text
5. Future of the Project Weekly report link Thanks I would like to thank the following:
- The Google Summer of Code organisation, for this wonderful experience.
- Debian, for accepting my project proposal and letting me embark on this fantastic adventure.
- My mentor, Mr Guillaume Roguez, and all his team, for being there to help me.

16 February 2016

Norbert Preining: Debian/TeX Live 2015.20160215-1

About one month has passed and here is the usual updated of TeX Live packages for Debian. While I am not really calling for testers at the moment, building of preliminary packages for TeX Live 2016 has begone. The binaries are already uploaded to experimental, and arch=all packages for experimental will follow soon. Debian - TeX Live 2015 As with the last time, here is the list of new and updated pacakges with (auto-generated) links to the package pages on CTAN. New packages adtrees, babel-occitan, crimson, emisa, glossaries-extra, gloss-occitan, libertinus, luatex-def, mynsfc, nihbiosketch, signchart, smartunits, tikz-feynman, uhrzeit, xduthesis. Updated packages achemso, acro, animate, apnum, archaeologie, babel, babel-french, babel-greek, babel-macedonian, bangorcsthesis, biblatex-bookinarticle, biblatex-gost, biblatex-manuscripts-philology, br-lex, caption, chemgreek, chemmacros, chemnum, cmtiup, csplain, csquotes, ctanify, ctex, cweb, datatool, datetime2, datetime2-english, delimseasy, droit-fr, dvips, erewhon, exsheets, fibeamer, fira, fontspec, forest, geschichtsfrkl, glossaries, graphics, greek-fontenc, greektonoi, hyph-utf8, inconsolata, isodoc, l2tabu, l3build, l3experimental, l3kernel, l3packages, latex, latex-bin, latex-make, leadsheets, leaflet, luaotfload, luatexja, mathastext, mcf2graph, mcmthesis, media9, metrix, mhchem, ndsu-thesis, newpx, newtx, ocgx2, pas-tableur, pdftex, pdfx, pict2e, pst-perspective, pstricks, pstricks-add, ptex, quran, ran_toks, realscripts, schemata, showhyphens, siunitx, sr-vorl, sttools, tempora, tetex, tex4ht, texfot, texlive-scripts, thinsp, thuthesis, tkz-orm, tools, uantwerpendocs, ulthese, unicode-data, uptex, xassoccnt, xcjk2uni, xebaposter, xecjk, xetex, xetexko, xltxtra, xpinyin, zhnumber, zhspacing. Enjoy.

17 November 2015

Norbert Preining: Debian/TeX Live 2015.20151116-1

One month has passed since the big multiarch update, and not one bug report concerning it did come in, that are good news. So here is a completely boring update with nothing more than the usual checkout from the TeX Live tlnet distribution as of yesterday. Debian - TeX Live 2015 I cannot recall anything particular to mention here, so this time let me go with the list of updated and new packages only: Updated packages alegreya, algorithm2e, animate, archaeologie, articleingud, attachfile, bankstatement, beebe, biber, biblatex, biblatex-manuscripts-philology, biblatex-opcit-booktitle, bidi, br-lex, bytefield, catcodes, chemfig, chemformula, chemgreek, comprehensive, computational-complexity, ctable, datetime2, dowith, dvipdfmx, dvipdfmx-def, dynamicnumber, e-french, epspdf, etoc, fetamont, findhyph, fix2col, gitinfo2, gradstudentresume, indextools, kotex-oblivoir, kotex-utils, kpathsea, l3build, l3experimental, l3kernel, l3packages, latex, latex2e-help-texinfo, lisp-on-tex, ltxfileinfo, luatexja, makedtx, mathastext, mathtools, mcf2graph, media9, medstarbeamer, morehype, nameauth, nicetext, ocgx2, perltex, preview, prftree, pst-eucl, pstricks, reledmac, resphilosophica, selnolig, substances, tcolorbox, tetex, teubner, tex4ht, texdoc, texinfo, texlive-scripts, toptesi, translations, turabian-formatting, uptex, xepersian, xetex, xetex-def, xint. New packages asciilist, babel-macedonian, bestpapers, bibtexperllibs, fixcmex, iffont, nucleardata, srcredact, texvc, xassoccnt. Enjoy.

25 December 2014

Russ Allbery: Review: Bad Pharma

Review: Bad Pharma, by Ben Goldacre
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Copyright: 2012, 2013
Printing: 2014
ISBN: 0-86547-806-6
Format: Trade paperback
Pages: 397
If you have previously read Bad Science by Ben Goldacre, it's doubtful you need me to do anything other than point out that he has a new book. Oh, and it's subtitled How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients, and it's written with the same indignant determination, clear explanation, and appreciation for real science as Bad Science. If you haven't read Bad Science, I recommend it. You don't have to read it before Bad Pharma, but it's a more approachable start, and a funnier book. Bad Science opens with some obviously horrible examples, and slowly develops the tools required to analyze more advanced and deceptive quackery. Bad Pharma jumps straight into the deep end of statistical biases in data, how and why they're introduced, and why they undermine your health care. This is a more serious book than Bad Science, since it lacks the medical quackery that is so ludicrous it's funny. Everything in Bad Science is successfully sold to someone there are people who believe in candling but most readers of the book can laugh a bit that anyone would believe in such things before getting to the parts of the book where the quackery is widespread and kills people. Bad Pharma focuses on the mainstream pharmaceutical industry and the way that it distorts the scientific process, which leads to serious consequences quite quickly. Goldacre is more pointedly on a mission here than in his previous book. This is not just an expos . It includes detailed recommendations for how to make the drug evaluation process better, and some specific ethical recommendations for doctors to avoid being unduly influenced by drug company marketing. But before that, he provides the best detailed explanation of how the drug research and approval process is supposed to work that I've seen. There's also a lot of good information about how to detect trials and related studies that haven't been done properly, and how to separate marketing language from scientific evidence. Goldacre wisely does not get into all the details of how to do a trial properly, which would be way beyond the scope of this book, but he does provide valuable rules of thumb and red flags that indicate when someone is probably not doing the trial properly. A point that's both frustrating and enlightening, and made very well by this book, is that fixing many of the problems with the drug approval process is not that difficult. Fixing all of them would be exceedingly difficult, of course, since they involve humans, complex financial motivations, the effectiveness of propaganda, and talented people who are paid well to create favorable impressions for new drugs. But we could get quite significant benefits from a few straightforward enhancements of the existing drug approval process, such as requiring that all clinical trials be pre-registered and all trial results published as a prerequisite for any drug approval. Goldacre makes his case for these changes forcefully and persuasively, and with justified anger. The current situation is bad enough for people like me who are only potential patients with no urgent medical issues. For a practicing doctor like Goldacre, it's infuriating to be actively denied the information required to effectively save people's lives. Normally, I find books like this interesting, but depressing and frustratingly limited. It's easy to write books about abuses that currently exist, or the limitations of the current approach. It's much harder to do what Goldacre does here: clearly describe the goals and ideals of drug testing for the lay reader, detail how the current approaches fall short of that goals, and then propose practical and concrete ways to correct the situation. And keep the details interesting and entertaining enough that I enjoyed reading every page of a nearly 400 page book. This is not a book that will fill you with trust or enthusiasm for the medical establishment (anywhere in the world). But it's still oddly comforting: we do know how to do these things properly, and occasionally we even act on that knowledge. These problems are serious, but they should provoke outrage partly because they're correctable and yet aren't being corrected. And there are doctors like Goldacre who are trying to push medicine towards proper use of evidence, research, and knowledge, instead of commercial manipulation. Recommended if you have any interest at all in how medicine or scientific research is actually done, and what its pitfalls look like. Rating: 8 out of 10

26 May 2013

Andrew Pollock: [life] Maker Fair 2013 virtual trip report

The Maker Faire is one of the Bay Area things that I'll really miss. Zoe had a ball last year (for weeks afterwards every outing was "Maker Faire!" regardless of what or where it was) Last year I didn't really get to cover it very well, so I ended up doing a bit of a virtual tour via the exhibitor list on their website, and so this year I thought I'd be there in spirit by doing the same thing again. Here's my picks:

3 December 2012

Joey Hess: hledger

Apologies in advance for writing a long blog post about the dull and specialised subject of double-entry accounting from the Unix tools perspective, that ends up talking about Monads to boot. I can't believe I'm about to write such a thing, but I'm finding it an oddly interesting subject. double-entry accounting I've known of, though probably not really understood double entry accounting for a while, thanks to GnuCash. I think GnuCash did something rather special in making such a subject approachable to the layman, and I've been happy to recommend GnuCash to friends. I was stoked to find a chapter in my sister Anna's new book that happily and plausibly suggests readers use GnuCash. But for my personal use, GnuCash is clunky. I mean, I'm a programmer, but I can't bring any of my abilities to bear on it, without a deep dive into the code. The file format is opaque (and a real pain to keep checked into git with all the log files); the user interface is often confusing, but there's no benefit to its learning curve, it never seems to get better than manually entering data into its ledger, or perhaps importing data from a bank. I've never found the reports very useful. I've got perhaps a year of data in GnuCash, but it's fragmented and incomplete and not something I've been able to motivate myself to keep up with. So I have less financial data than I'd like. I'm hoping ledger will change that. ledger I've known about ledger for a while, at least since This Linux Weekly News article. It's a quintessential Unix tool, that simply processes text files. The genius of it is the simplicity of the file format, that gets the essence and full power of double entry bookeeping down to something that approaches a meme. Once you get the file format stuck in your head, you're done for.
2004/05/27 Book Store
      Expenses:Books                 $20.00
starting to use hledger Now as a Haskell guy, I was immediately drawn to the Haskell clone, hledger. It's nice that there are two (mostly) compatable implementations of ledger too. So from here on, I'll be talking about hledger. I sat down and built a hledger setup for myself the other day. I started by converting the GnuCash books I have been keeping up-to-date, for a small side business (a rental property). It quickly turned into something like programming, in the best way, as I used features like: a modern unix program While I've been diving into hledger, I've been drawing all kinds of parallels between it and other modern Unix-friendly programs I use lately. I think we've gone over a bit of a watershed recently. Unix tools used to be either very simple and crude (though often quite useful), or really baroque and complex with far too many options (often due to 10-30 years of evolution). Or they were a graphical user interface, like GnuCash, and completely divorced from Unix traditions. The new unix programs have some commonalities... importing data After manually converting my GnuCash data, I imported all my PayPal history into hledger. And happily it calculates the same balance Paypal does. It also tells me I've paid PayPal $180 in transaction fees over the years, which is something PayPal certianly doesn't tell you on their website. (However, my current import from PayPal's CSV files is a hackish, and only handles USD currency, so I miss some currency conversion fees.) I also imported my Amazon Payments history, which includes all the Kickstarter transactions. I almost got this to balance, but hledger and Amazon disagree about how many hundreths of a cent remain in my account. Still, pretty good, and I know how much I paid Amazon in fees for my kickstarter, and how much was kicked back to Kickstarter as well. (Look for a cost breakdown in some future blog post.) At this point, hledger stats says I have 3700 transactions on file, which is not bad for what was just a few hours work yesterday. One problem is hledger's gotten a little slow with this many transactions. It takes 5 seconds to get a balance. The ledger program, written in C, is reportedly much faster. hledger recently had a O(n^2) slowdown fixed, which makes me think it's probably only starting to be optimised. With Haskell code, you can get lucky and get near C (language, not speed of light) performace without doing much, or less lucky and get not much better than python performance until you dive into optimising. So there's hope. harnessing haskell If there's one place hledger misses out on being a state of the art modern Unix program, it's in the rules files that are used to drive CSV imports. I found these really hard to use; the manual notes that "rules file parse errors are not the greatest"; and it's just really inflexible. I think the state of the art would be to use a Domain Specific Language here. For both my Amazon and PayPal imports I had CVS data something like:
date, description, amount, fees, gross
I want to take the feeds into account, and make a split transaction, like this:
date description
    assets:accounts:PayPal             $9.90
    expenses:transaction fees:PayPal   $0.10
    income:misc:PayPal                 -$10.00
This does not seem possible with the rules file. I also wanted to combine multiple CVS lines, to do with currency conversions, into a single transaction, and couldn't. The problem is that the rules file is an ad-hoc format, not a fully programmable one. If instead, hledger's rules files were compiled into standalone haskell programs that performed the import, arbitrarily complicated conversions like the above could be done. So, I'm thinking about something like this for a DSL.. I doubt I'll get much further than this, since I have a hacked together multi-pass importer that meets my basic needs. Still, this would be nice, and being able to think about adding thing kind of thing to a program cleanly is one of the reasons I reach for the Haskell version when possible these days. First, here's part of one of my two paypal import rules files (the other one extracts the transaction fees):
amount-field 7
date-field 0
description-field %(3) - %(4) - %(11)
base-account assets:accounts:PayPal
Bank Account
That fills out the basic fields, and makes things with "Bank Account" in their description be categorised as bank transfers. Here's how it'd look as Haskell, carefully written to avoid the $ operator that's more than a little confusing in this context. :)
main :: IO ()
main = convert paypalConveter
paypalConverter :: [CSVLine] -> [Maybe Transaction]
paypalConverter = map convert
    convert = do
        setAmount =<< field 7
        setDate =<< field 0
        setDescription =<< combine " - " [field 3, field 4, field 11]
            "assets:accounts:PayPal" ==> "expenses:misc:PayPal"
        inDescription "Bank Account" ?
            "assets:accounts:PayPal" ==> "assets:accounts:checking"
That seems like something non-haskell people could get their heads around, especially if they didn't need to write the boilerplate function definitions and types at the top. But I may be biased. :) Internally, this seems to be using a combination Reader and Writer monad that can get at fields from a CSV line and build up a Transaction. But I really just made up a simple DSL as I went along and thew in enough syntax to make it seem practical to implement. :) Of course, a Haskell programmer can skip the monads entirely, or use others they prefer. And could do arbitrarily complicated stuff during imports, including building split transactions, and combining together multiple related CVS lines into a single transaction.

16 October 2012

Eddy Petri&#537;or: Zenyth Pharmaceuticals cannot face(book) critics, so they cleanse them

A few days ago I wrote an article about the lawsuit the producers of ColonHelp are trying against Wordpress in the attempt to silence a blogger who wrote some unfavourable and science-based articles on his blog.

Meanwhile Petter Reinholdtsen (who seems to be a fellow skeptic, hi!) sent further this information via his blog, but on another front, I found out the German skeptics tried to contact Zenyth Phamaceuticals on Facebook and asked them why did they use lawyers for threats against critics, instead of using words and thorough scientific studies to talk to the critics.

The people at Zenyth Pharmaceuticals probably wanted to show they do not only use lawyers, but they can be very proficient at using the 'Delete' function of Facebook, so they did just that, it seems.

This really motivates me to go ahead and translate the article Zenyth's money didn't translate, the one that shows their entire case is baseless.

12 October 2012

Petter Reinholdtsen: ColonHelp produser sue WordPress to silence critic

Thanks to a blog post by Eddy Petri or, I became aware of yet another "alternative medicine" company using legal intimidation tactics to scare off critics. According to the originating blog post about the detox "cure" ColonHelp and its producers Zenyth Pharmaceuticals actions, the producer sues Wordpress to get rid of the critical information. To check if the story was for real, I contacted Automattic, the company behind, and they reply was "We can confirm that Zenyth is seeking a court order against WordPress / Automattic. However, we don't believe the Terms of Service have been violated in this matter". The story seem to be simply that a blogger checked the scientific foundation for a popular health product in Rumania, ColonHelp, and reported that there was no reason at all to believe it improved the health of its users. This caused the company behind the product, Zenyth Pharmaceuticals, to use legal intimidation to try to silence the critic, instead of presenting its views and scientific foundation to argue its side. This is the usual story, and the Zenyth Pharmaceuticals company deserve everyone to know how it failed to act properly. Lets hope the Streisand effect can make it rethink its strategy. What is the harm, you might think. I suggest you take a look at a list of victims of detoxification.

11 October 2012

Eddy Petri&#537;or: A shitstorm is comming

It has been brought to my attention that a company selling some so-called colon cleansing product wanted to threat with a law suit a Romanian skeptical blogger because he wrote some articles showing that any such products (the one produced by the said company is the most known/popular in Romania) are pure quackery and there is no scientific basis for the claim they make in order to promote their products.

In his articles he also explained how, in fact, the mucoid plaque, the thing that supposedly proves the efficiency of the product, it is a result of taking the product due to its ingredients, and how no such mucoid plaque was ever observed in any colonoscopy, colon surgery or any other situation where you'd expect it to be seen. He also quoted specialists and lots of other scientific references, showing an honest approach to the issue.

As a response to the initial take-down message from the company doing business with people's crap, the blogger said would like to see scientific proof for the claims made for the product, and when that was to happen, he would take down the articles and publish a correction.

The company decided that the best way to continue this was to try to make a legal threat and ask 100.000 euros (one hundred thousands Euros) as damage in a country where, according to the latest data from the National Statistics Institute, the total average monthly personal income is about 180 Euros.

The blogger, as a reply, decided the threat should be made public and wrote another article which probably made the company very unhappy, because they decided to sue Wordpress so they would take down the blog.

And that's exactly what they did, they sued Wordpress, and sent some documents to Wordpress who sent them to the blogger. Among the documents there were 4 pdf files containing each an original article (in Romanian) from the blog and only 3 pdf containg English translation for only 3 of them. The one missing was the one where the blogger himself showed there wasn't any legal basis for the threats they made initially against him.

Here are the translations (ironically, made on the company's own expense):

Initial article entitled "ColonHelp doesn't help the colon. But it empties your wallet!" (original here)
Initial Article.en<iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="0.701030927835051" data-auto-height="true" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_83859" scrolling="no" src=";view_mode=scroll&amp;access_key=key-19l4sbejfk4l4na4feoe" width="100%"></iframe>

The second article entitled "Again about ColonHelp and intestinal cleansers" (original here)
Follow Up.en<iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="0.70264064293915" data-auto-height="true" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_46722" scrolling="no" src=";view_mode=scroll&amp;access_key=key-1d0z2779liaialmv90r5" width="100%"></iframe>

** Missing translation of the first reply to threats (original Romanian text here)

The second article about the threats entitled "People who clean the colon have filled the fan with shit" (original here)
Threats 2<iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="0.705069124423963" data-auto-height="true" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_72956" scrolling="no" src=";view_mode=scroll&amp;access_key=key-2d3c3eq1d6lo313fogho" width="100%"></iframe>

The Romanian blogger explains himself more of the details on this issue in his latest article on his blog.

The company is called Zenyth Pharmaceuticals and Wordpress will probably lose the lawsuit by not presenting themselves in any way in the Romanian courts, but I think some Streisand effect would really help the asses of this company to get them kicked in their rightful place, at the top of the hall of shame.

The product name is called ColonHelp.

Please spread this information as wide as possible.
Do NOT link to the company's site (it would raise its search engine rank), but link to the blogger' article or the translations.

If any Romanian speaker cares to translate the untranslated article and publish it somewhere on the web, I would be more than glad to update this article and add a link to that translation.

27 September 2012

Gunnar Wolf: Married!

So, yay! Title says it all! On Saturday September 22, Regina and I got married in my parents' house, in Cuernavaca, Morelos. We had a very very nice little party with our family and a small group of friends Of course, due to the nature of our life, we could not forego inviting our family and friends in Argentina, as well as those in other parts of the world, so we set up a simple video stream so that our friends could follow along And they did, with much greater success than what I expected! So, besides those people present with us in Cuernavaca, we had people tuning in (at least to the degree I could get from the log files) from Argentina (Buenos Aires, Paran , Formosa), Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Mexico, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the United States. This next Saturday (September 29) we will have a second party, to which our friends in Mexico are invited, at home. And for the people from far away,, the stream will be available again Expect at least one interesting surprise :) PS- Visit also our wedding page, with some photos, video, and general information (Warning! Part of it is outdated by now)

7 July 2012

Petter Reinholdtsen: Free Timetabling Software - nice free software

Included in Debian Edu / Skolelinux is a large collection of end user and school specific software. It is one of the packages not installed by default but provided in the Debian archive for schools to install if they want to, is a system to automatically plan the school time table using information about available teachers, classes and rooms, combined with the list of required courses and how many hours each topic should receive. The software is named FET, and it provide a graphical user interface to input the required information, save the result in a fairly simple XML format, and generate time tables for both teachers and students. It is available both for Linux, MacOSX and Windows. This is the feature list, liftet from the project web site: I have not used it myself, as I am not involved in time table planning at a school, but it seem to work fine when I test it. If you need to set up your schools time table, and is tired of doing it manually, check it out. A quick summary on how to use it can be found in a blog post from MarvelSoft. If you find FET useful, please provide a recipe for the Debian Edu project in the Debian Edu HowTo section.

5 May 2012

Ritesh Raj Sarraf: Cancer cure drugs now more affordable

Now these are the kind of moves that needs to happen more often. Whether this will cause a negative impact on the overall market, and the further invention of drugs (including patent control), but the affordability of the medicatoin to an average citizen is a great move.The typical Chemotherapy can be on an average of 22 times. When summed up with the dosage (somewhere around 250 mg IIRC), the cost comes to approx: (22/4) * 15000 = 82k, which now, will be affordable at 27k.I guess the price slash is only for India and am not sure what the impact to the global market will look like.Quoting the article:

Cipla cut price of its kidney cancer drug Sorafenib, which is sold under brand name Nexavar by multi-national Bayer to Rs 6,840 for a month's supply, from around Rs 28,000 earlier. Its lung cancer drug Gestinib, which is sold under brand name Iressa by AstraZeneca will cost Rs 4,250, versus Rs 10,200 earlier, and price of Temozolamide used to treat brain tumour, has been reduced by Rs 15,000 to Rs 5,000.

India's Patent Office recently issued a compulsory licence allowing Natco to make a generic copy of Sorafenib, on the payment of a royalty to Bayer, which sells the drug at around Rs 2 lakh.

Domestic sales account for 46-47% of Cipla's total sales and of that the cancer drugs portfolio is a very small portion, so these price cuts are unlikely to have any major impact on its revenue, Hitesh Mahida of Fortune Equity Brokers told

"Cipla's idea seems to be to create disruption in the market, increase its market share..." the analyst says.

Swiss pharma major Roche had earlier this year signed a manufacturing deal with India's Emcure Pharma so that its anti-cancer drugs Herceptin and MabThera could be made in India at affordable prices. Analysts say Cipla's move to slash prices could in future deter some MNCs from launching their drugs in India at all, but some may also look at doing deals like the one struck by Roche.

Meanwhile, shares of pharma major Cipla surged over 3% on Friday after brokerage CLSA upgraded the stock to "outperform" from "underperform," saying, Cipla would be strongest beneficiaries of a weakening rupee.

The rupee has been sliding sharply against the US dollar in recent days and hit over four month low of around Rs 53.78 earlier in trade.

"We expect improving margins over the coming quarters on back of a weak rupee and a low base. We expect strong operating profit growth over coming quarters led by margin expansion and high margin product supplies," CLSA's Hemant Bakhru said.

The US Food and Drugs Administration has approved Meda's drug Dymista for allergic rhinitis and the product is widely expected to reach USD 300-500 million in annual sales over the coming years. The analyst says Cipla being a partner, will benefit through product supplies over a longer term.

"Apart from approval (outside North America) related milestone payment (US$5m), we expect gradual increase in Cipla s sales from product related supplies to Meda. Assuming Cipla supplies product at 10-15% of sales, it could earn US$50-75m at peak sales," Bakhru said.

Additionally, a low base in domestic formulations could result in reasonable India growth, he adds.

Cipla shares were up 2.8% at Rs 326.60 on NSE in noon trade.


23 April 2012

Clint Adams: Work in advertising!

The marketing industry divides itself up into a number of businesses. Some are boutique agencies, but most are owned by one of the world's four major holding companies. These conglomerates pursue an aggressive M&A strategy, snapping up smaller companies all the time. There are other sets of services, as well as variations on the above, particularly in terms of targeting certain age groups or ethnic groups, but also particular industries or sectors (movies, politics). There is direct marketing (spamming) through all the imaginable media. There is also paying people to blog about certain things without disclosing their sponsorship.