Search Results: "pelle"

3 September 2022

Shirish Agarwal: Fantasy, J.R.R. Tolkein

J.R.R. Tolkein Now unless you have been living under a rock cave, I am sure you know who Mr. Tolkein is. Apparently, the gentleman passed away on 2nd September 1973 at the sprightly age of 80. And this gives fans like me to talk about fantasy, fantasy authors, and the love-hate relationship we have with them. For a matter of record, I am currently reading Babylon Steel by Gaie Sebold. Now while I won t go into many details (I never like to, if I enjoy a book, I would want the book to be mysterious rather than give praise, simply so that the next person enjoys it as much as I did without having any expectations.) Now this book has plenty of sex so wouldn t recommend it for teenagers but more perhaps to mature audiences, although for the life of me couldn t find any rating on the book. I did come across common sense media but unfortunately, it isn t well known beyond perhaps some people who use it. They sadly don t have a google/Android app  And before anybody comments, I know that Android is no longer interested in supporting FOSS, their loss, not ours but that is entirely a blog post/article in itself. so let s leave that aside for now.

Fantasy So before talking about Mr. Tolkien and his creations let s talk and share a bit about fantasy. We know for a fact that the conscious mind functions at less than 5%, while the other bits are made by the subconscious and the unconscious mind (the three mind model.) So any thought or idea first germinates n either the unconscious or the subconscious part of the mind and then comes into the conscious mind. It is the reason we also dream. That s the subconscious and unconscious mind at work. While we say fantasy mostly to books, it is all around us and not just in prose but in song, dance, and all sorts of creativity are fantasy. Even Sci-fi actually comes from fantasy. Unfortunately, for reasons best known to people, they took out sci-fi and even divided fantasy into high fantasy and low fantasy. I am not going to go much into that but here s a helpful link for those who might want to look more into it. Now the question arises, why do people write? I have asked this question many a time to the authors I have met and the answers are as varied as they come. Two of the most common answers are the need to write (an itch they can t control or won t control) and the other is it s extremely healing. In my own case, even writing mere blog posts I found it unburdening & cathartetic. I believe this last part is what drove Mr. Tolkein and the story and arc that LOTR became. Tolkien, LOTR, World War I The casual reader might not know but if you followed or were curious about Mr. Tolkien, you would have found out that Mr. Tolkien served in World War 1 or what is known as the Great War. It was supposed to be the war that ended all wars but sadly didn t. One of the things that set apart Mr. Tolkein from many of his peers was that Mr. Tolkien was very straight about himself and corresponded with people far and wide. There is actually a book called The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien that I hope to get at one of the used book depots. That book spans about 480 pages and gives all the answers as to why Mr. Tolkien made Middle-earth as it was made. I sadly haven t had the opportunity to get it and it is somewhat expensive. But I m sure that if World War 1 wouldn t have happened and Mr. Tolkein hadn t taken part and experienced what he experienced, we wouldn t have LOTR. I can bet losing his friends and comrades, and the pain he felt for those around him propelled him to write about land and a race called Hobbits. I haven t done enough fantasy reading but I do feel that his description of hobbits and the way they were and are is unique. The names and surnames he used were for humor as well as to make a statement about them. Having names such as Harfoots, Padfoot, Took and others just wouldn t be for fun, would it? Also, the responses and the behavior in the four books by Hobbits are almost human-like. It is almost like they are or were our cousins at one point in time but we allowed ourselves to forget. Even the corruption of humans has been shown as well as self-doubt. There is another part that I found and find fascinating, unlike most books where there is a single hero, in LOTR we have many heroes and heroines. This again, I would attribute to Mr. Tolkien and the heroism he saw on the battlefield and beyond it. All the tender emotions he shares with readers like us are because either he himself or others around him were subjected to grace and wonderment. This is all I derive from the books, those who have The letters of J.R.R. Tolkein , feel free to correct me. I was supposed to write this yesterday but real life has its own way. I could go on and on, perhaps at a later date or time I may expand on it, but it isn t a coincidence that Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power is starting broadcast on the same day when Mr. Tolkein died. In the very end, fantasy is something humans got and does not matter how rich or poor you are. If one were to look, both artists like Michaelangelo and many other artists, who often didn t have enough to have two square meals in the day, but still somehow were inspired to sketch models of airplanes, flying machines which are shockingly similar to the real thing. Many may not know that almost all primates, including apes, monkeys, squirrels, and even dolphins dream. And all of them have elaborate, complex dreams just as we do. Sadly, this info. is not known by most people otherwise, we would be so much empathetic towards our cousins in the animal kingdom.

13 June 2022

Edward Betts: Fixing spelling in GitHub repos using codespell

Codespell is a spell checker specifically designed for finding misspellings in source code. I've been using it to correct spelling mistakes in GitHub repos sine 2016. Most spell checkers use a list of valid words and highlighting any word in a document that is not in the word list. This method doesn't work for source code because code contains abbreviations and words joined together without spaces, a spell checker will generate too many false positives. Codespell uses a different approach, instead of a list of valid words it has a dictionary of common misspellings. Currently the codespell dictionary includes 34,466 known misspellings. I've contributed 300 misspellings to the dictionary. Whenever I find an interesting open source project I run codespell to check for spelling mistakes. Most projects have spelling mistakes and I can send a pull request to fix them. In 2019 Microsoft made the Windows calculator open source and uploaded it to GitHub. I used codespell to find some spelling mistakes, sent them a pull request and they accepted it. A great source for GitHub repos to spell check is Hacker News. Let's have a look.
Hacker News has a link to forum software called Flarum. I can use codespell to look for spelling mistakes. When I'm looking for errors in a GitHub repo I don't fork the project until I know there is a spelling mistake to fix.
edward@x1c9 ~/spelling> git clone git@github.com:flarum/flarum.git
Cloning into &aposflarum&apos...
remote: Enumerating objects: 1338, done.
remote: Counting objects: 100% (42/42), done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (23/23), done.
remote: Total 1338 (delta 21), reused 36 (delta 19), pack-reused 1296
Receiving objects: 100% (1338/1338), 725.02 KiB   1.09 MiB/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (720/720), done.
edward@x1c9 ~/spelling> cd flarum/
edward@x1c9 ~/spelling/flarum (master)> codespell -q3
./public/web.config:13: sensitve ==> sensitive
edward@x1c9 ~/spelling/flarum (master)> gh repo fork
  Created fork EdwardBetts/flarum
? Would you like to add a remote for the fork? Yes
  Added remote origin
edward@x1c9 ~/spelling/flarum (master)> git checkout -b spelling
Switched to a new branch &aposspelling&apos
edward@x1c9 ~/spelling/flarum (spelling)> codespell -q3
./public/web.config:13: sensitve ==> sensitive
edward@x1c9 ~/spelling/flarum (spelling)> codespell -q3 -w
FIXED: ./public/web.config
edward@x1c9 ~/spelling/flarum (spelling)> git commit -am "Correct spelling mistakes"
[spelling bbb04c7] Correct spelling mistakes
 1 file changed, 1 insertion(+), 1 deletion(-)
edward@x1c9 ~/spelling/flarum (spelling)> git push -u origin
Enumerating objects: 7, done.
Counting objects: 100% (7/7), done.
Delta compression using up to 8 threads
Compressing objects: 100% (4/4), done.
Writing objects: 100% (4/4), 360 bytes   360.00 KiB/s, done.
Total 4 (delta 3), reused 0 (delta 0), pack-reused 0
remote: Resolving deltas: 100% (3/3), completed with 3 local objects.
remote: 
remote: Create a pull request for &aposspelling&apos on GitHub by visiting:
remote:      https://github.com/EdwardBetts/flarum/pull/new/spelling
remote: 
To github.com:EdwardBetts/flarum.git
 * [new branch]      spelling -> spelling
branch &aposspelling&apos set up to track &aposorigin/spelling&apos.
edward@x1c9 ~/spelling/flarum (spelling)> gh pr create 
Creating pull request for EdwardBetts:spelling into master in flarum/flarum
? Title Correct spelling mistakes
? Choose a template Open a blank pull request
? Body <Received>
? What&aposs next? Submit
https://github.com/flarum/flarum/pull/81
edward@x1c9 ~/spelling/flarum (spelling)> 
That worked. I found one spelling mistake, the word "sensitive" was spelled wrong. I forked the repo, fixed the spelling mistake and submitted the fix as a pull request.
The maintainer of Flarum accepted my pull request. Fixing spelling mistakes in Bootstrap helped me unlocked the Mars 2020 Contributor achievements on GitHub.
Why not try running codespell on your own codebase? You'll probably find some spelling mistakes to fix.

29 April 2022

Russ Allbery: Review: Interesting Times

Review: Interesting Times, by Terry Pratchett
Series: Discworld #17
Publisher: Harper
Copyright: 1994
Printing: February 2014
ISBN: 0-06-227629-8
Format: Mass market
Pages: 399
Interesting Times is the seventeenth Discworld novel and certainly not the place to start. At the least, you will probably want to read The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic before this book, since it's a sequel to those (although Rincewind has had some intervening adventures). Lord Vetinari has received a message from the Counterweight Continent, the first in ten years, cryptically demanding the Great Wizzard be sent immediately. The Agatean Empire is one of the most powerful states on the Disc. Thankfully for everyone else, it normally suits its rulers to believe that the lands outside their walls are inhabited only by ghosts. No one is inclined to try to change their minds or otherwise draw their attention. Accordingly, the Great Wizard must be sent, a task that Vetinari efficiently delegates to the Archchancellor. There is only the small matter of determining who the Great Wizzard is, and why it was spelled with two z's. Discworld readers with a better memory than I will recall Rincewind's hat. Why the Counterweight Continent would demanding a wizard notorious for his near-total inability to perform magic is a puzzle for other people. Rincewind is promptly located by a magical computer, and nearly as promptly transported across the Disc, swapping him for an unnecessarily exciting object of roughly equivalent mass and hurling him into an unexpected rescue of Cohen the Barbarian. Rincewind predictably reacts by running away, although not fast or far enough to keep him from being entangled in a glorious popular uprising. Or, well, something that has aspirations of being glorious, and popular, and an uprising. I hate to say this, because Pratchett is an ethically thoughtful writer to whom I am willing to give the benefit of many doubts, but this book was kind of racist. The Agatean Empire is modeled after China, and the Rincewind books tend to be the broadest and most obvious parodies, so that was already a recipe for some trouble. Some of the social parody is not too objectionable, albeit not my thing. I find ethnic stereotypes and making fun of funny-sounding names in other languages (like a city named Hunghung) to be in poor taste, but Pratchett makes fun of everyone's names and cultures rather equally. (Also, I admit that some of the water buffalo jokes, despite the stereotypes, were pretty good.) If it had stopped there, it would have prompted some eye-rolling but not much comment. Unfortunately, a significant portion of the plot depends on the idea that the population of the Agatean Empire has been so brainwashed into obedience that they have a hard time even imagining resistance, and even their revolutionaries are so polite that the best they can manage for slogans are things like "Timely Demise to All Enemies!" What they need are a bunch of outsiders, such as Rincewind or Cohen and his gang. More details would be spoilers, but there are several deliberate uses of Ankh-Morpork as a revolutionary inspiration and a great deal of narrative hand-wringing over how awful it is to so completely convince people they are slaves that you don't need chains. There is a depressingly tedious tendency of western writers, even otherwise thoughtful and well-meaning ones like Pratchett, to adopt a simplistic ranking of political systems on a crude measure of freedom. That analysis immediately encounters the problem that lots of people who live within systems that rate poorly on this one-dimensional scale seem inadequately upset about circumstances that are "obviously" horrific oppression. This should raise questions about the validity of the assumptions, but those assumptions are so unquestionable that the writer instead decides the people who are insufficiently upset about their lack of freedom must be defective. The more racist writers attribute that defectiveness to racial characteristics. The less racist writers, like Pratchett, attribute that defectiveness to brainwashing and systemic evil, which is not quite as bad as overt racism but still rests on a foundation of smug cultural superiority. Krister Stendahl, a bishop of the Church of Sweden, coined three famous rules for understanding other religions:
  1. When you are trying to understand another religion, you should ask the adherents of that religion and not its enemies.
  2. Don't compare your best to their worst.
  3. Leave room for "holy envy."
This is excellent advice that should also be applied to politics. Most systems exist for some reason. The differences from your preferred system are easy to see, particularly those that strike you as horrible. But often there are countervailing advantages that are less obvious, and those are more psychologically difficult to understand and objectively analyze. You might find they have something that you wish your system had, which causes discomfort if you're convinced you have the best political system in the world, or are making yourself feel better about the abuses of your local politics by assuring yourself that at least you're better than those people. I was particularly irritated to see this sort of simplistic stereotyping in Discworld given that Ankh-Morpork, the setting of most of the Discworld novels, is an authoritarian dictatorship. Vetinari quite capably maintains his hold on power, and yet this is not taken as a sign that the city's inhabitants have been brainwashed into considering themselves slaves. Instead, he's shown as adept at maintaining the stability of a precarious system with a lot of competing forces and a high potential for destructive chaos. Vetinari is an awful person, but he may be better than anyone who would replace him. Hmm. This sort of complexity is permitted in the "local" city, but as soon as we end up in an analog of China, the rulers are evil, the system lacks any justification, and the peasants only don't revolt because they've been trained to believe they can't. Gah. I was muttering about this all the way through Interesting Times, which is a shame because, outside of the ham-handed political plot, it has some great Pratchett moments. Rincewind's approach to any and all danger is a running (sorry) gag that keeps working, and Cohen and his gang of absurdly competent decrepit barbarians are both funnier here than they have been in any previous book and the rare highly-positive portrayal of old people in fantasy adventures who are not wizards or crones. Pretty Butterfly is a great character who deserved to be in a better plot. And I loved the trouble that Rincewind had with the Agatean tonal language, which is an excuse for Pratchett to write dialog full of frustrated non-sequiturs when Rincewind mispronounces a word. I do have to grumble about the Luggage, though. From a world-building perspective its subplot makes sense, but the Luggage was always the best character in the Rincewind stories, and the way it lost all of its specialness here was oddly sad and depressing. Pratchett also failed to convince me of the drastic retcon of The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic that he does here (and which I can't talk about in detail due to spoilers), in part because it's entangled in the orientalism of the plot. I'm not sure Pratchett could write a bad book, and I still enjoyed reading Interesting Times, but I don't think he gave the politics his normal care, attention, and thoughtful humanism. I hope later books in this part of the Disc add more nuance, and are less confident and judgmental. I can't really recommend this one, even though it has some merits. Also, just for the record, "may you live in interesting times" is not a Chinese curse. It's an English saying that likely was attributed to China to make it sound exotic, which is the sort of landmine that good-natured parody of other people's cultures needs to be wary of. Followed in publication order by Maskerade, and in Rincewind's personal timeline by The Last Continent. Rating: 6 out of 10

31 March 2022

Russell Coker: AMT/MEBX on Debian

I ve just been playing with Intel s Active Management Technology (AMT) [1] which is also known as Management Engine Bios Extension (MEBX). Firstly a disclaimer, using this sort of technology gives remote access to your system at a level that allows in some ways overriding the OS. If this gets broken then you have big problems. Also all the code that matters is non-free. Please don t comment on this post saying that AMT is bad, take it as known that it has issues and that people are forced to use it anyway. I tested this out on a HP Z420 workstation. The first thing it to enable AMT via Intel MEBX , the default password is admin . On first use you are compelled to set a new password which must be 8+ characters containing upper and lower case, number, and punctuation characters. The Debian package amtterm (which needs the package libsoap-lite-perl ) has basic utilities for AMT. The amttool program connects to TCP port 16992 and the amtterm program connects to TCP port 16994. Note that these programs seem a little rough, you can get Perl errors (as opposed to deliberate help messages) if you enter bad command-line parameters. They basically work but could do with some improvement. If you use DHCP for the IP address the DHCP hostname will be DESKTOP-$AssetID and you can find the IP address by requesting an alert be sent to the sysadmin. Here are some examples of amttool usage:
# get AMT info
AMT_PASSWORD="$PASS" amttool $IP
# reset the system and redirect BIOS messages to serial over lan
AMT_PASSWORD="$PASS" amttool reset bios
# access serial over lan console
amtterm -p "$PASS" $IP
The following APT configuration enables the Ubuntu package wsmancli which had some features not in any Debian packages last time I checked.
deb http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic-updates universe
deb http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic universe
This Cyberciti article has information on accessing KVM over AMT [2], I haven t tried to do that yet.

3 December 2021

Paul Tagliamonte: Transmitting BPSK symbols (Part 2/5)

This post is part of a series called "PACKRAT". If this is the first post you've found, it'd be worth reading the intro post first and then looking over all posts in the series.
In the last post, we worked through what IQ is, and different formats that it may be sent or received in. Let s take that and move on to Transmitting BPSK using IQ data! When we transmit and receive information through RF using an SDR, data is traditionally encoded into a stream of symbols which are then used by a program to modulate the IQ stream, and sent over the airwaves. PACKRAT uses BPSK to encode Symbols through RF. BPSK is the act of modulating the phase of a sine wave to carry information. The transmitted wave swaps between two states in order to convey a 0 or a 1. Our symbols modulate the transmitted sine wave s phase, so that it moves between in-phase with the SDR s transmitter and 180 degrees (or radians) out of phase with the SDR s transmitter. The difference between a Bit and a Symbol in PACKRAT is not incredibly meaningful, and I ll often find myself slipping up when talking about them. I ve done my best to try and use the right word at the right stage, but it s not as obvious where the line between bit and symbol is at least not as obvious as it would be with QPSK or QAM. The biggest difference is that there are three meaningful states for PACKRAT over BPSK - a 1 (for In phase ), -1 (for 180 degrees out of phase ) and 0 (for no carrier ). For my implementation, a stream of all zeros will not transmit data over the airwaves, a stream of all 1s will transmit all 1 bits over the airwaves, and a stream of all -1s will transmit all 0 bits over the airwaves. We re not going to cover turning a byte (or bit) into a symbol yet I m going to write more about that in a later section. So for now, let s just worry about symbols in, and symbols out.

Transmitting a Sine wave at 0Hz If we go back to thinking about IQ data as a precisely timed measurements of energy over time at some particular specific frequency, we can consider what a sine wave will look like in IQ. Before we dive into antennas and RF, let s go to something a bit more visual. For the first example, you can see an example of a camera who s frame rate (or Sampling Rate!) matches the exact number of rotations per second (or Frequency!) of the propeller and it appears to stand exactly still. Every time the Camera takes a frame, it s catching the propeller in the exact same place in space, even though it s made a complete rotation. The second example is very similar, it s a light strobing (in this case, our sampling rate, since the darkness is ignored by our brains) at the same rate (frequency) as water dropping from a faucet and the video creator is even nice enough to change the sampling frequency to have the droplets move both forward and backward (positive and negative frequency) in comparison to the faucet. IQ works the same way. If we catch something in perfect frequency alignment with our radio, we ll wind up with readings that are the same for the entire stream of data. This means we can transmit a sine wave by setting all of the IQ samples in our buffer to 1+0i, which will transmit a pure sine wave at exactly the center frequency of the radio.
 var sine []complex 
for i := range sine  
sine[i] = complex(1.0, 0.0)
 
Alternatively, we can transmit a Sine wave (but with the opposite phase) by flipping the real value from 1 to -1. The same Sine wave is transmitted on the same Frequency, except when the wave goes high in the example above, the wave will go low in the example below.
 var sine []complex 
for i := range sine  
sine[i] = complex(-1.0, 0.0)
 
In fact, we can make a carrier wave at any phase angle and amplitude by using a bit of trig.
 // angle is in radians - here we have
 // 1.5 Pi (3 Tau) or 270 degrees.
 var angle = pi * 1.5
// amplitude controls the transmitted
 // strength of the carrier wave.
 var amplitude = 1.0
// output buffer as above
 var sine []complex 
for i := range sine  
sine[i] = complex(
amplitude*cos(angle),
amplitude*sin(angle),
)
 
The amplitude of the transmitted wave is the absolute value of the IQ sample (sometimes called magnitude), and the phase can be computed as the angle (or argument). The amplitude remains constant (at 1) in both cases. Remember back to the airplane propeller or water droplets we re controlling where we re observing the sine wave. It looks like a consistent value to us, but in reality it s being transmitted as a pure carrier wave at the provided frequency. Changing the angle of the number we re transmitting will control where in the sine wave cycle we re observing it at.

Generating BPSK modulated IQ data Modulating our carrier wave with our symbols is fairly straightforward to do we can multiply the symbol by 1 to get the real value to be used in the IQ stream. Or, more simply - we can just use the symbol directly in the constructed IQ data.
 var sampleRate = 2,621,440
var baudRate = 1024
// This represents the number of IQ samples
 // required to send a single symbol at the
 // provided baud and sample rate. I picked
 // two numbers in order to avoid half samples.
 // We will transmit each symbol in blocks of
 // this size.
 var samplesPerSymbol = sampleRate / baudRate
var samples = make([]complex, samplesPerSymbol)
// symbol is one of 1, -1 or 0.
 for each symbol in symbols  
for i := range samples  
samples[i] = complex(symbol, 0)
 
// write the samples out to an output file
 // or radio.
 write(samples)
 
If you want to check against a baseline capture, here s 10 example packets at 204800 samples per second.

Next Steps Now that we can transmit data, we ll start working on a receive path in Part 3, in order to check our work when transmitting the packets, as well as being able to hear packets we transmit from afar, coming up next in Part 3!!

7 June 2021

Mike Gabriel: UBports: Packaging of Lomiri Operating Environment for Debian (part 05)

Before and during FOSDEM 2020, I agreed with the people (developers, supporters, managers) of the UBports Foundation to package the Unity8 Operating Environment for Debian. Since 27th Feb 2020, Unity8 has now become Lomiri. Recent Uploads to Debian related to Lomiri (Feb - May 2021) Over the past 4 months I attended 14 of the weekly scheduled UBports development sync sessions and worked on the following bits and pieces regarding Lomiri in Debian: The largest amount of work (and time) went into getting lomiri-ui-toolkit ready for upload. That code component is a absolutely massive beast and dearly intertwined with Qt5 (and unit tests fail with every new warning a new Qt5.x introduces). This bit of work I couldn't do alone (see below in "Credits" section). The next projects / packages ahead are some smaller packages (content-hub, gmenuharness, etc.) before we will finally come to lomiri (i.e. main bit of the Lomiri Operating Environment) itself. Credits Many big thanks go to everyone on the UBports project, but especially to Ratchanan Srirattanamet who lived inside of lomiri-ui-toolkit for more than two weeks, it seemed. Also, thanks to Florian Leeber for being my point of contact for topics regarding my cooperation with the UBports Foundation. Packaging Status The current packaging status of Lomiri related packages in Debian can be viewed at:
https://qa.debian.org/developer.php?login=team%2Bubports%40tracker.debia... light+love
Mike Gabriel (aka sunweaver)

22 August 2020

Jelmer Vernooij: Debian Janitor: > 60,000 Lintian Issues Automatically Fixed

The Debian Janitor is an automated system that commits fixes for (minor) issues in Debian packages that can be fixed by software. It gradually started proposing merges in early December. The first set of changes sent out ran lintian-brush on sid packages maintained in Git. This post is part of a series about the progress of the Janitor.

Scheduling Lintian Fixes To determine which packages to process, the Janitor looks at the import of lintian output across the archive that is available in UDD [1]. It will prioritize those packages with the most and more severe issues that it has fixers for. Once a package is selected, it will clone the packaging repository and run lintian-brush on it. Lintian-brush provides a framework for applying a set of fixers to a package. It will run each of a set of fixers in a pristine version of the repository, and handles most of the heavy lifting.
The Inner Workings of a Fixer Each fixer is just an executable which gets run in a clean checkout of the package, and can make changes there. Most of the fixers are written in Python or shell, but they can be in any language. The contract for fixers is pretty simple:
  • If the fixer exits with non-zero, the changes are reverted and fixer is considered to have failed
  • If it exits with zero and made changes, then it should write a summary of its changes to standard out
If a fixer is uncertain about the changes it has made, it should report so on standard output using a pseudo-header. By default, lintian-brush will discard any changes with uncertainty but if you are running it locally you can still apply them by specifying --uncertain. The summary message on standard out will be used for the commit message and (possibly) the changelog message, if the package doesn t use gbp dch.
Example Fixer Let s look at an example. The package priority extra is deprecated since Debian Policy 4.0.1 (released August 2 017) see Policy 2.5 "Priorities". Instead, most packages should use the optional priority. Lintian will warn when a package uses the deprecated extra value for the Priority - the associated tag is priority-extra-is-replaced-by-priority-optional. Lintian-brush has a fixer script that can automatically replace extra with optional . On systems that have lintian-brush installed, the source for the fixer lives in /usr/share/lintian-brush/fixers/priority-extra-is-replaced-by-priority-optional.py, but here is a copy of it for reference:
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#!/usr/bin/python3
from debmutate.control import ControlEditor
from lintian_brush.fixer import report_result, fixed_lintian_tag
with ControlEditor() as updater:
    for para in updater.paragraphs:
        if para.get("Priority") == "extra":
            para["Priority"] = "optional"
            fixed_lintian_tag(
                para, 'priority-extra-is-replaced-by-priority-optional')
report_result("Change priority extra to priority optional.")
This fixer is written in Python and uses the debmutate library to easily modify control files while preserving formatting or back out if it is not possible to preserve formatting. All the current fixers come with tests, e.g. for this particular fixer the tests can be found here: https://salsa.debian.org/jelmer/lintian-brush/-/tree/master/tests/priority-extra-is-replaced-by-priority-optional. For more details on writing new fixers, see the README for lintian-brush. For more details on debugging them, see the manual page.
Successes by fixer Here is a list of the fixers currently available, with the number of successful merges/pushes per fixer:
Lintian Tag Previously merged/pushed Ready but not yet merged/pushed
uses-debhelper-compat-file 4906 4161
upstream-metadata-file-is-missing 4281 3841
package-uses-old-debhelper-compat-version 4256 3617
upstream-metadata-missing-bug-tracking 2438 2995
out-of-date-standards-version 2062 2936
upstream-metadata-missing-repository 1936 2987
trailing-whitespace 1720 2295
insecure-copyright-format-uri 1791 1093
package-uses-deprecated-debhelper-compat-version 1391 1287
vcs-obsolete-in-debian-infrastructure 872 782
homepage-field-uses-insecure-uri 527 1111
vcs-field-not-canonical 850 655
debian-changelog-has-wrong-day-of-week 224 376
debian-watch-uses-insecure-uri 314 242
useless-autoreconf-build-depends 112 428
priority-extra-is-replaced-by-priority-optional 315 194
debian-rules-contains-unnecessary-get-orig-source-target 35 428
tab-in-license-text 125 320
debian-changelog-line-too-long 186 190
debian-rules-sets-dpkg-architecture-variable 69 166
debian-rules-uses-unnecessary-dh-argument 42 182
package-lacks-versioned-build-depends-on-debhelper 125 95
unversioned-copyright-format-uri 43 136
package-needs-versioned-debhelper-build-depends 127 50
binary-control-field-duplicates-source 34 134
renamed-tag 73 69
vcs-field-uses-insecure-uri 14 109
uses-deprecated-adttmp 13 91
debug-symbol-migration-possibly-complete 12 88
copyright-refers-to-symlink-license 51 48
debian-control-has-unusual-field-spacing 33 66
old-source-override-location 32 62
out-of-date-copyright-format 20 62
public-upstream-key-not-minimal 43 30
older-source-format 17 54
custom-compression-in-debian-source-options 12 57
copyright-refers-to-versionless-license-file 29 39
tab-in-licence-text 33 31
global-files-wildcard-not-first-paragraph-in-dep5-copyright 28 33
out-of-date-copyright-format-uri 9 50
field-name-typo-dep5-copyright 29 29
copyright-does-not-refer-to-common-license-file 13 42
debhelper-but-no-misc-depends 9 45
debian-watch-file-is-missing 11 41
debian-control-has-obsolete-dbg-package 8 40
possible-missing-colon-in-closes 31 13
unnecessary-testsuite-autopkgtest-field 32 9
missing-debian-source-format 7 33
debhelper-tools-from-autotools-dev-are-deprecated 9 29
vcs-field-mismatch 8 29
debian-changelog-file-contains-obsolete-user-emacs-setting 33 0
patch-file-present-but-not-mentioned-in-series 24 9
copyright-refers-to-versionless-license-file 22 9
debian-control-has-empty-field 25 6
missing-build-dependency-for-dh-addon 10 20
obsolete-field-in-dep5-copyright 15 13
xs-testsuite-field-in-debian-control 20 7
ancient-python-version-field 13 12
unnecessary-team-upload 19 5
misspelled-closes-bug 6 16
field-name-typo-in-dep5-copyright 1 20
transitional-package-not-oldlibs-optional 4 17
maintainer-script-without-set-e 9 11
dh-clean-k-is-deprecated 4 14
no-dh-sequencer 14 4
missing-vcs-browser-field 5 12
space-in-std-shortname-in-dep5-copyright 6 10
xc-package-type-in-debian-control 4 11
debian-rules-missing-recommended-target 4 10
desktop-entry-contains-encoding-key 1 13
build-depends-on-obsolete-package 4 9
license-file-listed-in-debian-copyright 1 12
missing-built-using-field-for-golang-package 9 4
unused-license-paragraph-in-dep5-copyright 4 7
missing-build-dependency-for-dh_command 6 4
comma-separated-files-in-dep5-copyright 3 6
systemd-service-file-refers-to-var-run 4 5
copyright-not-using-common-license-for-apache2 3 5
debian-tests-control-autodep8-is-obsolete 2 6
dh-quilt-addon-but-quilt-source-format 2 6
no-homepage-field 3 5
font-packge-not-multi-arch-foreign 1 6
homepage-in-binary-package 1 4
vcs-field-bitrotted 1 3
built-using-field-on-arch-all-package 2 1
copyright-should-refer-to-common-license-file-for-apache-2 1 2
debian-pyversions-is-obsolete 3 0
debian-watch-file-uses-deprecated-githubredir 1 1
executable-desktop-file 1 1
skip-systemd-native-flag-missing-pre-depends 1 1
vcs-field-uses-not-recommended-uri-format 1 1
init.d-script-needs-depends-on-lsb-base 1 0
maintainer-also-in-uploaders 1 0
public-upstream-keys-in-multiple-locations 1 0
wrong-debian-qa-group-name 1 0
Total 29656 32209

Footnotes
[1]temporarily unavailable due to Debian bug #960156 but the Janitor is relying on historical data

For more information about the Janitor's lintian-fixes efforts, see the landing page

8 August 2020

Holger Levsen: 20200808-debconf8

DebConf8 This tshirt is 12 years old and from DebConf8. DebConf8 was my 6th DebConf and took place in Mar de la Plata, Argentina. Also this is my 6th post in this series of posts about DebConfs and for the last two days for the first time I failed my plan to do one post per day. And while two days ago I still planned to catch up on this by doing more than one post in a day, I have now decided to give in to realities, which mostly translates to sudden fantastic weather in Hamburg and other summer related changes in life. So yeah, I still plan to do short posts about all the DebConfs I was lucky to attend, but there might be days without a blog post. Anyhow, Mar de la Plata. When we held DebConf in Argentina it was winter there, meaning locals and other folks would wear jackets, scarfs, probably gloves, while many Debian folks not so much. Andreas Tille freaked out and/or amazed local people by going swimming in the sea every morning. And when I told Stephen Gran that even I would find it a bit cold with just a tshirt he replied "na, the weather is fine, just like british summer", while it was 14 celcius and mildly raining. DebConf8 was the first time I've met Valessio Brito, who I had worked together since at least DebConf6. That meeting was really super nice, Valessio is such a lovely person. Back in 2008 however, there was just one problem: his spoken English was worse than his written one, and that was already hard to parse sometimes. Fast forward eleven years to Curitiba last year and boom, Valessio speaks really nice English now. And, you might wonder why I'm telling this, especially if you were exposed to my Spanish back then and also now. So my point in telling this story about Valessio is to illustrate two things: a.) one can contribute to Debian without speaking/writing much English, Valessio did lots of great artwork since DebConf6 and b.) one can learn English by doing Debian stuff. It worked for me too! During set up of the conference there was one very memorable moment, some time after the openssl maintainer, Kurt Roeckx arrived at the venue: Shortly before DebConf8 Luciano Bello, from Argentina no less, had found CVE-2008-0166 which basically compromised the security of sshd of all Debian and Ubuntu installations done in the last 4 years (IIRC two Debian releases were affected) and which was commented heavily and noticed everywhere. So poor Kurt arrived and wondered whether we would all hate him, how many toilets he would have to clean and what not... And then, someone rather quickly noticed this, approached some people and suddenly a bunch of people at DebConf were group-hugging Kurt and then we were all smiling and continuing doing set up of the conference. That moment is one of my most joyful memories of all DebConfs and partly explains why I remember little about the conference itself, everything else pales in comparison and most things pale over the years anyway. As I remember it, the conference ran very smoothly in the end, despite quite some organisational problems right before the start. But as usual, once the geeks arrive and are happily geeking, things start to run smooth, also because Debian people are kind and smart and give hands and brain were needed. And like other DebConfs, Mar de la Plata also had moments which I want to share but I will only hint about, so it's up to you to imagine the special leaves which were brought to that cheese and wine party! ;-) Update: added another xkcd link, spelled out Kurt's name after talking to him and added a link to a video of the group hug.

5 August 2020

Holger Levsen: 20200805-debconf7

DebConf7 This tshirt is 13 years old and from DebConf7. DebConf7 was my 5th DebConf and took place in Edinburgh, Scotland. And finally I could tell people I was a DD :-D Though as you can guess, that's yet another story to be told. So anyway, Edinburgh. I don't recall exactly whether the video team had to record 6 or 7 talk rooms on 4 floors, but this was probably the most intense set up we ran. And we ran a lot, from floor to floor, and room to room. DebConf7 was also special because it had a very special night venue, which was in an ex-church in a rather normal building, operated as sort of community center or some such, while the old church interior was still very much visible as in everything new was build around the old stuff. And while the night venue was cool, it also ment we (video team) had no access to our machines over night (or for much of the evening), because we had to leave the university over night and the networking situation didn't allow remote access with the bandwidth needed to do anything video. The night venue had some very simple house rules, like don't rearrange stuff, don't break stuff, don't fix stuff and just a few little more and of course we broke them in the best possible way: Toresbe with the help of people I don't remember fixed the organ, which was broken for decades. And so the house sounded in some very nice new old tune and I think everybody was happy we broke that rule. I believe the city is really nice from the little I've seen of it. A very nice old town, a big castle on the hill :) I'm not sure whether I missed the day trip to Glasgow to fix video things or to rest or both... Another thing I missed was getting a kilt, for which Phil Hands made a terrific design (update: the design is called tartan and was made by Phil indeed!), which spelled Debian in morse code. That was pretty cool and the kilts are really nice on DebConf group pictures since then. And if you've been wearing this kilt regularily for the last 13 years it was probably also a sensible investment. ;) It seems I don't have that many more memories of this DebConf, British power plugs and how to hack them comes to my mind and some other stuff here and there, but I remember less than previous years. I'm blaming this on the intense video setup and also on the sheer amount of people, which was the hightest until then and for some years, I believe maybe even until Heidelberg 8 years later. IIRC there were around 470 people there and over my first five years of DebConf I was incredible lucky to make many friends in Debian, so I probably just hung out and had good times.

26 April 2020

Enrico Zini: Some Italian women

Artemisia Gentileschi - Wikipedia
art history people archive.org
Artemisia Lomi or Artemisia Gentileschi (US: / d nt l ski, -ti -/, Italian: [arte mi zja d enti leski]; July 8, 1593 c. 1656) was an Italian Baroque painter, now considered one of the most accomplished seventeenth-century artists working in the dramatic style of Caravaggio. In an era when women had few opportunities to pursue artistic training or work as professional artists, Artemisia was the first woman to become a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence and had an international clientele.
Maria Pellegrina Amoretti (1756 1787), was an Italian lawyer. She is referred to as the first woman to graduate in law in Italy, and the third woman to earn a degree.
Laura Maria Caterina Bassi (October 1711 20 February 1778) was an Italian physicist and academic. She received a doctoral degree in Philosophy from the University of Bologna in May 1732. She was the first woman to earn a professorship in physics at a university. She is recognized as the first woman in the world to be appointed a university chair in a scientific field of studies. Bassi contributed immensely to the field of science while also helping to spread the study of Newtonian mechanics through Italy.
Maria Gaetana Agnesi (UK: / n je zi/ an-YAY-zee,[1] US: / n -/ ahn-,[2][3] Italian: [ma ri a ae ta na a zi, - e z-];[4] 16 May 1718 9 January 1799) was an Italian mathematician, philosopher, theologian, and humanitarian. She was the first woman to write a mathematics handbook and the first woman appointed as a mathematics professor at a university.[5]
Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia (US: /k r n ro p sko pi /,[4] Italian: [ lena lu kr ttsja kor na ro pi sk pja]) or Elena Lucrezia Corner (Italian: [kor n r]; 5 June 1646 26 July 1684), also known in English as Helen Cornaro, was a Venetian philosopher of noble descent who in 1678 became one of the first women to receive an academic degree from a university, and the first to receive a Doctor of Philosophy degree.
Maria Tecla Artemisia Montessori (/ m nt s ri/ MON-tiss-OR-ee, Italian: [ma ri a montes s ri]; August 31, 1870 May 6, 1952) was an Italian physician and educator best known for the philosophy of education that bears her name, and her writing on scientific pedagogy. At an early age, Montessori broke gender barriers and expectations when she enrolled in classes at an all-boys technical school, with hopes of becoming an engineer. She soon had a change of heart and began medical school at the Sapienza University of Rome, where she graduated with honors in 1896. Her educational method is still in use today in many public and private schools throughout the world.
Rita Levi-Montalcini OMRI OMCA (US: / le vi mo nt l t i ni, l v-, li vi m nt l -/, Italian: [ ri ta l vi montal t i ni]; 22 April 1909 30 December 2012) was an Italian Nobel laureate, honored for her work in neurobiology. She was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with colleague Stanley Cohen for the discovery of nerve growth factor (NGF). From 2001 until her death, she also served in the Italian Senate as a Senator for Life. This honor was given due to her significant scientific contributions. On 22 April 2009, she became the first Nobel laureate ever to reach the age of 100, and the event was feted with a party at Rome's City Hall. At the time of her death, she was the oldest living Nobel laureate.
Margherita Hack Knight Grand Cross OMRI (Italian: [mar e ri ta (h)ak]; 12 June 1922 29 June 2013) was an Italian astrophysicist and scientific disseminator. The asteroid 8558 Hack, discovered in 1995, was named in her honour.
Samantha Cristoforetti (Italian pronunciation: [sa manta kristofo retti]; born 26 April 1977, in Milan) is an Italian European Space Agency astronaut, former Italian Air Force pilot and engineer. She holds the record for the longest uninterrupted spaceflight by a European astronaut (199 days, 16 hours), and until June 2017 held the record for the longest single space flight by a woman until this was broken by Peggy Whitson and later by Christina Koch. She is also the first Italian woman in space. Samantha Cristoforetti is also known as the first person who brewed an espresso in space.

1 March 2020

Enrico Zini: Online aggression links

Sealioning - Wikipedia
privilege archive.org
Sealioning (also spelled sea-lioning and sea lioning) is a type of trolling or harassment which consists of pursuing people with persistent requests for evidence or repeated questions, while maintaining a pretense of civility and sincerity.[1][2][3][4] It may take the form of "incessant, bad-faith invitations to engage in debate".[5]
Tone policing (also tone trolling, tone argument, and tone fallacy) is an ad hominem (personal attack) and antidebate tactic based on criticizing a person for expressing emotion. Tone policing detracts from the validity of a statement by attacking the tone in which it was presented rather than the message itself.
"A brawler who tattoos a message onto his knuckles does not throw every punch with the weight of First Amendment protection behind him," the brief stated. "Conduct like this does not constitute speech, nor should it. A deliberate attempt to cause physical injury to someone does not come close to the expression which the First Amendment is designed to protect."
It s no secret that times are changing. It used to be that men were men, jokes were jokes, and all facts came from one white guy in a suit who you trusted because he looked like your dad. Now I know I could get in a lot of trouble for just saying this, but I don t care because someone has to tell the truth: These days, you can t say anything racist at all without being called a racist.
Russia's neighbor has developed a plan for countering misinformation. Can it be exported to the rest of the world?
So, I wrote my BIFF Response but Marvin wrote me another angry email. Actually, he wrote 6 more this week, so what s up with that? Why didn t he stop after my first email?
The BIFF Response Method will teach you how to respond to angry emails, texts, or social media posts while maintaining your dignity and personal power.

9 January 2017

Shirish Agarwal: The Great Indian Digital Tamasha

Indian Railways This is an extension to last month s article/sharing where I had shared the changes that had transpired in the last 2-3 months. Now am in a position to share the kind of issues a user can go through in case he is looking for support from IRCTC to help him/her go cashless. If you a new user to use IRCTC services you wouldn t go through this trouble. For those who might have TL;DR issues it s about how hard it can become to get digital credentials fixed in IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation) a. 2 months back Indian Prime Minister gave a call incentivizing people to use digital means to do any commercial activities. One of the big organizations which took/takes part is IRCTC which handles the responsibility for e-ticketing millions of Rail tickets for common people. In India, a massive percentage moves by train as it s cheaper than going by Air. A typical fare from say Pune Delhi (capital of India) by second class sleeper would be INR 645/- for a distance of roughly 1600 odd kms and these are monopoly rates, there are no private trains and I m not suggesting anything of that sort, just making sure that people know. An economy class ticket by Air for the same distance would be anywhere between INR 2500-3500/- for a 2 hour flight between different airlines. Last I checked there are around 8 mainstream airlines including flag-carrier Air India. About 30% of the population live on less than a dollar and a half a day which would come around INR 100/-. There was a comment some six months back on getting more people out of the poverty line. But as there are lots of manipulations in numbers for who and what denotes above poor and below poor in India and lot of it has to do with politics it s not something which would be easily fixable. There are lots to be said in that arena but this article is not an appropriate blog-post for that. All in all, it s only 3-5% of the population at the most who can travel via Air if situation demands and around 1-2% who might be frequent, business or leisure travellers. Now while I can thankfully afford an Air Ticket if the situation so demands, my mother gets motion sickness so while together we can only travel by train. b. With the above background, I had registered with IRCTC few years ago with another number (dual-SIM) I had purchased and was thinking that I would be using this long-term (seems to my first big mistake, hindsight 50:50) . This was somewhere in 2006/2007. c. Few months later I found that the other service provider wasn t giving good service or was not upto mark. I was using IDEA (the main mobile operator) throughout those times. d. As I didn t need the service that much, didn t think to inform them that I want to change to another service provider at that point in time (possibly the biggest mistake, hindsight 50:50) e. In July 2016 itself IRCTC cut service fees, f. This was shared as a NEW news item/policy decision at November-end 2016 . g. While I have done all that has been asked by irctc-care haven t still got the issues resolved  IRCTC s e-mail id care@irctc.co.in Now in detail This is my first e-mail sent to IRCTC in June 2016
Dear Customer care, I had applied and got username and password sometime back . The
number I had used to register with IRCTC was xxxxxxxxxx (BSNL mobile number not used anymore) . My mobile was lost and along with that the number was also lost. I had filed a complaint with the police and stopped that number as well. Now I have an another mobile number but have forgotten both the password and the security answer that I had given when I had registered . I do have all the conversations I had both with the ticketadmn@irctc.co.in as well as care@irctc.co.in if needed to prove my identity. The new number I want to tie it with is xxxxxxxxxx (IDEA number in-use for last 10 years) I see two options :- a. Tie the other number with my e-mail address b. Take out the e-mail address from the database so that I can fill in
as a new applicant. Looking forward to hear from you.
There was lot of back and forth with various individuals on IRCTC and after a lot of back and forth, this is the final e-mail I got from them somewhere in August 2016, he writes
Dear Customer, We request you to send mobile bill of your mobile number if it is post paid or if it is prepaid then contact to your service provider and they will give you valid proof of your mobile number or they will give you in written on company head letter so that we may update your mobile number to update so that you may reset your password through mobile OTP.
and Kindly inform you that you can update your profile by yourself also. 1.login on IRCTC website
2.after login successfully move courser on my profile tab.
3.then click on update profile
4.re-enter your password then you can update your profile
5.click on user-profile then email id.
6. click on update. Still you face any problem related to update profile please revert to us with the screen shots of error message which you will get at the time of update profile . Thanks & Regards Parivesh Patel
Executive, Customer Care
care@irctc.co.in
http://www.irctc.co.in
[#3730034]
IRCTC s response seemed responsible, valid and thought it would be a cake-walk as private providers are supposed to be much more efficient than public ones. The experience proved how wrong was I trust them with doing the right thing 1. First I tried the twitter handle to see how IDEA uses their twitter handle. 2. The idea customer care twitter handle was mild in its response. 3. After sometime I realized that the only way out of this quagmire would perhaps be to go to a brick-mortar shop and get it resolved face-to-face. I went twice or thrice but each time something or the other would happen. On the fourth and final time, I was able to get to the big Official shop only to be told they can t do anything about this and I would have to the appellate body to get the reply. The e-mail address which they shared (and I found it later) was wrong. I sent a somewhat longish e-mail sharing all the details and got bounce-backs. The correct e-mail address for the IDEA Maharashtra appellate body is appellette.mh@idea.aditybirla.com I searched online and after a bit of hit and miss finally got the relevant address. Then finally on 30th December, 2016 wrote a short email to the service provider as follows
Dear Sir,
I have been using prepaid mobile connection number xxxxxxx taken from IDEA for last 10 odd years. I want to register myself with IRCTC for online railway booking using
my IDEA mobile number. Earlier, I was having a BSNL connection which I discontinued 4 years back, For re-registering myself with IRCTC, I have to fulfill their latest
requirements as shown in the email below . It is requested that I please be issued a letter confirming my
credentials with your esteemed firm. I contacted your local office at corner of Law College Road and
Bhandarkar Road, Pune (reference number Q1 84786060793) who
refused to provide me any letter and have advised me to contact on the
above e-mail address, hence this request is being forwarded to you. Please do the needful at your earliest.
Few days later I got this short e-mail from them
Dear Customer, Greetings for the day! This is with reference to your email regarding services. Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience caused to you and delay in response. We regret to inform you that we are unable to provide demographic details from our end as provision for same is not available with us. Should you need any further assistance, please call our Customer Service help line number 9822012345 or email us at customercare@idea.adityabirla.com by mentioning ten digit Idea mobile number in subject line. Thanks & Regards, Javed Khan Customer Service Team IDEA Cellular Limited- Maharashtra & Goa Circle.
Now I was at almost my wit s end. Few days before, I had re-affirmed my e-mail address to IDEA . I went to the IDEA care site, registered with my credentials. While the https connection to the page is weak, but let s not dwell on that atm. I logged into the site, I went through all the drop-down menus and came across My Account > Raise a request link which I clicked on . This came to a page where I could raise requests for various things. One of the options given there was Bill Delivery. As I wasn t a postpaid user but a prepaid user didn t know if that would work or not I still clicked on it. It said it would take 4 days for that to happen. I absently filed it away as I was somewhat sure that nothing would happen from my previous experience with IDEA. But this time the IDEA support staff came through and shared a toll-free SMS number and message format that I could use to generate call details from the last 6 months. The toll-free number from IDEA is 12345 and the message format is EBILL MON (short-form for month so if it s January would be jan, so on and so forth). After gathering all the required credentials, sent my last mail to IRCTC about a week, 10 days back
Dear Mr. Parivesh Patel, I was out-of-town and couldn t do the needful so sorry for the delay.
Now that I m back in town, I have been able to put together my prepaid
bills of last 6 months which should make it easy to establish my
identity. As had shared before, I don t remember my old password and the old
mobile number (BSNL number) is no longer accessible so can t go
through that route. Please let me know the next steps in correcting the existing IRCTC
account (which I haven t operated ever) so I can start using it to
book my tickets. Look forward to hearing from you.
Haven t heard anything them from them, apart from a generated token number, each time you send a reply happens. This time it was #4763548 The whole sequence of events throws a lot of troubling questions a. Could IRCTC done a better job of articulating their need to me instead of the run-around I was given ? b. Shouldn t there be a time limit to accounts from which no transactions have been done ? I hadn t done a single transaction since registering. When cell service providers including BSNL takes number out after a year of not using a number, why is that account active for so long ? c. As that account didn t have OTP at registration, dunno if it s being used for illegal activities or something. Update This doesn t seem to be a unique thing at all. Just sampling some of the tweets by people at @IRCTC_LTD https://twitter.com/praveen4al/status/775614978258718721 https://twitter.com/vis_nov25/status/786062572390932480 https://twitter.com/ShubhamDevadiya/status/794241443950948352 https://twitter.com/rajeshhindustan/status/798028633759584256 https://twitter.com/ameetsangita/status/810081624343908352 https://twitter.com/grkisback/status/813733835213078528 https://twitter.com/gbalaji_/status/804230235625394177 https://twitter.com/chandhu_nr/status/800675627384721409 , all of this just goes to show how un-unique the situation really is.
Filed under: Miscellenous Tagged: #customer-service, #demonetization, #IDEA-aditya birla, #IRCTC, #web-services, rant

31 December 2016

Chris Lamb: Free software activities in December 2016

Here is my monthly update covering what I have been doing in the free software world (previous month):
Reproducible builds

Whilst anyone can inspect the source code of free software for malicious flaws, most software is distributed pre-compiled to end users. The motivation behind the Reproducible Builds effort is to permit verification that no flaws have been introduced either maliciously or accidentally during this compilation process by promising identical results are always generated from a given source, thus allowing multiple third-parties to come to a consensus on whether a build was compromised. This month:
I also made the following changes to our tooling:
diffoscope

diffoscope is our in-depth and content-aware diff utility that can locate and diagnose reproducibility issues.

  • Optimisations:
    • Avoid unnecessary string manipulation writing --text output (~20x speedup).
    • Avoid n iterations over archive files (~8x speedup).
    • Don't analyse .deb s twice when comparing .changes files (2x speedup).
    • Avoid shelling out to colordiff by implementing color support directly.
    • Memoize calls to distutils.spawn.find_executable to avoid excessive stat(1) syscalls.
  • Progress bar:
    • Show current file / ELF section under analysis etc. in progress bar.
    • Move the --status-fd output to use JSON and to include the current filename.
  • Code tidying:
    • Split out the try.diffoscope.org client so that it can be released separately on PyPI.
    • Completely rework the diffoscope and diffoscope.comparators modules, grouping similar utilities into their own modules, etc.
  • Miscellaneous:
    • Update dex_expected_diffs test to ensure compatibility with enjarify 1.0.3.
    • Ensure that running from Git will always use that checkout's Python modules.
    • Add a simple profiling framework.

strip-nondeterminism

strip-nondeterminism is our tool to remove specific non-deterministic results from a completed build.

  • Makefile.PL: Change NAME argument to a Perl package name.
  • Ensure our binaries are available in autopkgtest tests.

try.diffoscope.org

trydiffoscope is a web-based version of the diffoscope in-depth and content-aware diff utility. Continued thanks to Bytemark for sponsoring the hardware.

  • Show progress bar and position in queue, etc. (#25 & #26)
  • Promote command-line client with PyPI instructions.
  • Increase comparison time limit to 90 seconds.

buildinfo.debian.net

buildinfo.debian.net is my experiment into how to process, store and distribute .buildinfo files after the Debian archive software has processed them.

  • Added support for version 0.2 .buildinfo files. (#15)

Debian
Debian LTS

This month I have been paid to work 13 hours on Debian Long Term Support (LTS). In that time I did the following:
  • "Frontdesk" duties, triaging CVEs, etc.
  • Issued DLA 733-1 for openafs, fixing an information leak vulnerability. Due to incomplete initialization or clearing of reused memory, directory objects could contain 'dead' directory entry information.
  • Issued DLA 734-1 for mapserver closing an information leakage vulnerability.
  • Issued DLA 737-1 for roundcube preventing arbitrary remote code execution by sending a specially crafted email.
  • Issued DLA 738-1 for spip patching a cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability.
  • Issued DLA 740-1 for libgsf fixing a null pointer deference exploit via a crafted .tar file.

Debian Uploads
  • redis:
    • 3.2.5-5 Add RunTimeDirectory=redis to systemd .service files.
    • 3.2.5-6 Add missing Depends on lsb-base for /lib/lsb/init-functions usage in redis-sentinel's initscript.
    • 3.2.6-1 New upstream release.
    • 4.0-1 & 4.0-rc2-1 New upstream experimental releases.
  • aptfs: 0.9-1 & 0.10-1 New upstream releases.


Debian FTP Team

As a Debian FTP assistant I ACCEPTed 107 packages: android-platform-libcore, compiz, debian-edu, dehydrated, dh-cargo, gnome-shell-extension-pixelsaver, golang-1.8, golang-github-btcsuite-btcd-btcec, golang-github-elithrar-simple-scrypt, golang-github-pelletier-go-toml, golang-github-restic-chunker, golang-github-weaveworks-mesh, golang-google-genproto, igmpproxy, jimfs, kpmcore, libbio-coordinate-perl, libdata-treedumper-oo-perl, libdate-holidays-de-perl, libpgobject-type-bytestring-perl, libspecio-library-path-tiny-perl, libterm-table-perl, libtext-hogan-perl, lighttpd, linux, linux-signed, llmnrd, lua-geoip, lua-sandbox-extensions, lua-systemd, node-cli-cursor, node-command-join, node-death, node-detect-indent, node-domhandler, node-duplexify, node-end-of-stream, node-first-chunk-stream, node-from2, node-glob-stream, node-has-binary, node-inquirer, node-interpret, node-is-negated-glob, node-is-unc-path, node-lazy-debug-legacy, node-lazystream, node-load-grunt-tasks, node-merge-stream, node-object-assign-sorted, node-orchestrator, node-pkg-up, node-resolve-from, node-resolve-pkg, node-rx, node-sorted-object, node-stream-shift, node-streamtest, node-string.prototype.codepointat, node-strip-bom-stream, node-through2-filter, node-to-absolute-glob, node-unc-path-regex, node-vinyl, openzwave, openzwave-controlpanel, pcb-rnd, pd-upp, pg-partman, postgresql-common, pybigwig, python-acora, python-cartopy, python-codegen, python-efilter, python-flask-sockets, python-intervaltree, python-jsbeautifier, python-portpicker, python-pretty-yaml, python-protobix, python-sigmavirus24-urltemplate, python-sqlsoup, python-tinycss, python-watson-developer-cloud, python-zc.customdoctests, python-zeep, r-cran-dbitest, r-cran-dynlm, r-cran-mcmcpack, r-cran-memoise, r-cran-modelmetrics, r-cran-plogr, r-cran-prettyunits, r-cran-progress, r-cran-withr, ruby-clean-test, ruby-gli, ruby-json-pure, ruby-parallel, rustc, sagemath, sbuild, scram, sidedoor, toolz & yabasic. I additionally filed 4 RC bugs against packages that had incomplete debian/copyright files against jimfs, compiz, python-efilter & ruby-json-pure.

30 December 2016

Chris Lamb: My favourite books of 2016

Whilst I managed to read almost sixty books in 2016 here are ten of my favourites in no particular order. Disappointments this year include Stewart Lee's Content Provider (nothing like his stand-up), Christopher Hitchens' And Yet (his best essays are already published) and Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land (great exposition, bizarre conclusion). The worst book I finished, by far, was Mark Edward's Follow You Home.





https://images-eu.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/P/B010EAQLV2.01._PC__.jpg Animal QC Gary Bell, QC Subtitled My Preposterous Life, this rags-to-riches story about a working-class boy turned eminent lawyer would be highly readable as a dry and factual account but I am compelled to include it here for its extremely entertaining style of writing. Full of unsurprising quotes that take one unaware: would you really expect a now-Queen's Counsel to "heartily suggest that if you find yourself suffering from dysentery in foreign climes you do not medicate it with lobster thermidor and a bottle of Ecuadorian red?" A real good yarn.
https://images-eu.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/P/B0196HJ6OS.01._PC__.jpg So You've Been Publically Shamed Jon Ronson The author was initially recommended to me by Brad but I believe I started out with the wrong book. In fact, I even had my doubts about this one, prematurely judging from the title that it was merely cashing-in on a fairly recent internet phenomenon like his more recent shallow take on Trump and the alt-Right but in the end I read Publically Shamed thrice in quick succession. I would particularly endorse the audiobook version: Ronson's deadpan drawl suits his writing perfectly.
https://images-eu.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/P/B00IX49OS4.01._PC__.jpg The Obstacle is the Way Ryan Holiday Whilst everyone else appears to be obligated to include Ryan's recent Ego is the Enemy in their Best of 2016 lists I was actually taken by his earlier "introduction by stealth" to stoic philosophy. Certainly not your typical self-help book, this is "a manual to turn to in troubling times". Returning to this work at least three times over the year even splashing out on the audiobook at some point I feel like I learned a great deal, although it is now difficult to pinpoint exactly what. Perhaps another read in 2017 is thus in order
https://images-eu.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/P/071563335X.01._PC__.jpg Layer Cake J.J. Connolly To judge a book in comparison to the film is to do both a disservice, but reading the book of Layer Cake really underscored just how well the film played to the strengths of that medium. All of the aspects that would not have worked had been carefully excised from the screenplay, ironically leaving more rewarding "layers" for readers attempting the book. A parallel adaption here might be No Country for Old Men - I would love to read (or write) a comparative essay between these two adaptions although McCarthy's novel is certainly the superior source material.
https://images-eu.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/P/B00G1SRB6Q.01._PC__.jpg Lying Sam Harris I've absorbed a lot of Sam Harris's uvre this year in the form of his books but moreover via his compelling podcast. I'm especially fond of Waking Up on spirituality without religion and would rank that as my favourite work of his. Lying is a comparatively short read, more of a long essay in fact, where he argues that we can radically simplify our lives by merely telling the truth in situations where others invariably lie. Whilst it would take a brave soul to adopt his approach his case is superlatively well-argued and a delight to read.
https://images-eu.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/P/0140442103.01._PC__.jpg Letters from a Stoic Seneca

Great pleasure is to be found not only in keeping up an old and established friendship but also in beginning and building up a new one. Reading this in a beautifully svelte hardback, I tackled a randomly-chosen letter per day rather than attempting to read it cover-to-cover. Breaking with a life-long tradition, I even decided to highlight sections in pen so I could return to them at ease. I hope it's not too hackneyed to claim I gained a lot from "building up" a relationship with this book. Alas, it is one of those books that is too easy to recommend given that it might make one appear wise and learned, but if you find yourself in a slump, either in life or in your reading habits, it certainly has my approval.


https://images-eu.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/P/B00BHD3TIE.01._PC__.jpg Solo: A James Bond Novel William Boyd I must have read all of the canonical Fleming novels as a teenager and Solo really rewards anyone who has done so. It would certainly punish anyone expecting a Goldeneye or at least be a little too foreign to be enjoyed. Indeed, its really a pastiche of these originals, both in terms of the time period, general tone (Bond is more somber; more vulnerable) and in various obsessions of Fleming's writing, such as the overly-detailed description of the gambling and dining tables. In this universe, 007's restaurant expenses probably contributed signifcantly to the downfall of the British Empire, let alone his waistline. Bond flicking through a ornithological book at one point was a cute touch
https://images-eu.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/P/B019MMUA8S.01._PC__.jpg The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck Mark Manson Certainly a wildcard to include here and not without its problems, The Subtle Art is a curious manifesto on how to approach life. Whilst Manson expouses an age-old philosophy of grounding yourself and ignoring the accumulation of flatscreen TVs, etc. he manages to do so in a fresh and provocative "21st-centry gonzo" style. Highly entertaining, at one point the author posits an alternative superhero ("Disappointment Panda") that dishes out unsolicited and uncomfortable truths to strangers before simply walking away: "You know, if you make more money, that s not going to make your kids love you," or: "What you consider friendship is really just your constant attempts to impress people." Ouch.
https://images-eu.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/P/B004ZLS5RK.01._PC__.jpg The Fourth Protocol Frederick Forsyth I have a crystal-clear memory from my childhood of watching a single scene from a film in the dead of night: Pierce Brosnan sets a nuclear device to detonate after he can get away but a double-crossing accomplice surreptitiously brings the timetable forward in order that the bomb also disposes of him Anyway, at some point whilst reading The Fourth Protocol it dawned on me that this was that book. I might thus be giving the book more credit due to this highly satisfying connection but I think it stands alone as a superlative political page-turner and is still approachable outside the machinations of the Cold War.
https://images-eu.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/P/B003IDMUSG.01._PC__.jpg The Partner John Grisham After indulging in a bit too much non-fiction and an aborted attempt at The Ministry of Fear, I turned to a few so-called lower-brow writers such as Jeffrey Archer, etc. However, it was The Partner that turned out to be a real page-turner for somewhat undefinable reasons. Alas, it appears the rest of the author's output is unfortunately in the same vein (laywers, etc.) so I am hesitant to immediately begin others but judging from various lists online I am glad I approached this one first.
https://images-eu.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/P/B00D3J2QKC.01._PC__.jpg Shogun: The First Novel of the Asian saga James Clavell Despite its length, I simply couldn't resist returning to Shogun this year although it did fatigue me to the point that I have still yet to commence on its sequel, Tai-Pan. Like any good musical composition, one is always rewarded by returning to a book and I took great delight in uncovering more symbolism throughout (such as noticing that one of the first words Blackthorne learns in Japanese is "truth") but also really savouring the tragic arcs that run throughout the novel, some beautiful phrases ("The day seemed to lose its warmth ") and its wistful themes of inevitability and karma.

22 June 2016

Andrew Cater: How to share collaboratively

Following on:

When contributing to mailing lists and fora:
When contributing bug reports:
When adding to / modifying FLOSS software:
When writing new FLOSS software / "freeing" prior commercial/closed code under a FLOSS licence
If you are required to sign a contributor license agreement [CLA]
Always remember in all of this: just because you understand your code and your working practices doesn't mean that anyone else will.
There is no automatic right to contribution nor any necessary assumption or precondition that collaborators will come forward.
Just because you love your own code doesn't mean that it merits anyone else's interest or that anyone else should value it thereby
"Just because it scratches your itch doesn't mean that it scratches anyone else's - or that it's actually any good / any use to anyone else"

12 May 2016

Matthew Garrett: Convenience, security and freedom - can we pick all three?

Moxie, the lead developer of the Signal secure communication application, recently blogged on the tradeoffs between providing a supportable federated service and providing a compelling application that gains significant adoption. There's a set of perfectly reasonable arguments around that that I don't want to rehash - regardless of feelings on the benefits of federation in general, there's certainly an increase in engineering cost in providing a stable intra-server protocol that still allows for addition of new features, and the person leading a project gets to make the decision about whether that's a valid tradeoff.

One voiced complaint about Signal on Android is the fact that it depends on the Google Play Services. These are a collection of proprietary functions for integrating with Google-provided services, and Signal depends on them to provide a good out of band notification protocol to allow Signal to be notified when new messages arrive, even if the phone is otherwise in a power saving state. At the time this decision was made, there were no terribly good alternatives for Android. Even now, nobody's really demonstrated a free implementation that supports several million clients and has no negative impact on battery life, so if your aim is to write a secure messaging client that will be adopted by as many people is possible, keeping this dependency is entirely rational.

On the other hand, there are users for whom the decision not to install a Google root of trust on their phone is also entirely rational. I have no especially good reason to believe that Google will ever want to do something inappropriate with my phone or data, but it's certainly possible that they'll be compelled to do so against their will. The set of people who will ever actually face this problem is probably small, but it's probably also the set of people who benefit most from Signal in the first place.

(Even ignoring the dependency on Play Services, people may not find the official client sufficient - it's very difficult to write a single piece of software that satisfies all users, whether that be down to accessibility requirements, OS support or whatever. Slack may be great, but there's still people who choose to use Hipchat)

This shouldn't be a problem. Signal is free software and anybody is free to modify it in any way they want to fit their needs, and as long as they don't break the protocol code in the process it'll carry on working with the existing Signal servers and allow communication with people who run the official client. Unfortunately, Moxie has indicated that he is not happy with forked versions of Signal using the official servers. Since Signal doesn't support federation, that means that users of forked versions will be unable to communicate with users of the official client.

This is awkward. Signal is deservedly popular. It provides strong security without being significantly more complicated than a traditional SMS client. In my social circle there's massively more users of Signal than any other security app. If I transition to a fork of Signal, I'm no longer able to securely communicate with them unless they also install the fork. If the aim is to make secure communication ubiquitous, that's kind of a problem.

Right now the choices I have for communicating with people I know are either convenient and secure but require non-free code (Signal), convenient and free but insecure (SMS) or secure and free but horribly inconvenient (gpg). Is there really no way for us to work as a community to develop something that's all three?

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29 February 2016

Dirk Eddelbuettel: New CRAN package gunsales

This is based on joint work with Gregor Aisch and Josh Keller of the New York Times. A new package gunsales is now on the CRAN network for R. It is based the NYTimes/gunsales repository underlying the excellent New York Times visualizations, first published first in December 2015 and updated with more recent data since. The analysis takes public government data on gun sales from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The original data is scraped from the pdf, included in the package, and analysed in a cross-section and time-series manner. The standard US Census tool X-13ARIMA-SEATS is used to deseasonalize the timeseries at the national or state level. (Note that Buzzfeed also published data and (Python) code in another GitHub repo.) As an aside, it was the use of X-13ARIMA-SEATS here -- and its somewhat awkward and manual installation also seen in the initial versions of the code in the NYTimes/gunsales repo -- which lead to the recent work by Christoph Sax and myself. We now provide a new package x13binary on CRAN so that Christoph's excellent seasonal package can simply depend upon it and have a working binary provided and installed ready to use; see the recent blog post for more. The net result is that a package like this new gunsales project can simply depend upon seasonal and also be assurred that x13binary "just works". As Martha would say, "A Good Thing". Back to the gunsales project. Following the initial publication of the repository with the data and R code in a simple script, I felt compelled to reorganize it as a package. Packages for R, as we teach our students, colleagues, or anybody else who wants to listen are really the best way to bundle code, data, documentation (i.e. vignettes) and tests. All that exists now in the gunsales package. The package now has one main function, analysis(), which returns a single dataframe object. This dataframe object can then be fed to two plotting functions. The first, plot_gunsales(), will then recreate all the (base R) plots from the original code base. The second, ggplot_gunsales(), does the same but via ggplot2. This should give anybody the ability to look at the data, study the transformations done, form and maybe test new hypotheses and visualize in manner comparable to the original publication. As an amuse gueule, here are the key plots also shown in the main README.md at GitHub: Total Estimated Gun Sales Total Estimated Gun Sales, Seasonally Adjusted Total Estimated Gun Sales, Population-Growth Adjusted Handguns vs Longguns Six States DC We look forward to more remixes and analysis of this data. The plan of the GitHub repository is to keep the data set updated as new data points are published.

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

13 January 2016

Norbert Preining: Ian Buruma: Wages of Guilt

Since moving to Japan, I got more and more interested in history, especially the recent history of the 20th century. The book I just finished, Ian Buruma (Wiki, home page) Wages of Guilt Memories of War in Germany and Japan (Independent, NYRB), has been a revelation for me. As an Austrian living in Japan, I am experiencing the discrepancy between these two countries with respect to their treatment of war legacy practically daily, and many of my blog entries revolve around the topic of Japanese non-reconciliation.
Willy Brandt went down on his knees in the Warsaw ghetto, after a functioning democracy had been established in the Federal Republic of Germany, not before. But Japan, shielded from the evil world, has grown into an Oskar Matzerath: opportunistic, stunted, and haunted by demons, which it tries to ignore by burying them in the sand, like Oskar s drum.
Ian Buruma, Wages of Guilt, Clearing Up the Ruins
Buruma-Wages_of_Guilt The comparison of Germany and Japan with respect to their recent history as laid out in Buruma s book throws a spotlight on various aspects of the psychology of German and Japanese population, while at the same time not falling into the easy trap of explaining everything with difference in the guilt culture. A book of great depth and broad insights everyone having even the slightest interest in these topics should read.
This difference between (West) German and Japanese textbooks is not just a matter of detail; it shows a gap in perception.
Ian Buruma, Wages of Guilt, Romance of the Ruins
Only thinking about giving a halfway full account of this book is something impossible for me. The sheer amount of information, both on the German and Japanese side, is impressive. His incredible background (studies of Chinese literature and Japanese movie!) and long years as journalist, editor, etc, enriches the book with facets normally not available: In particular his knowledge of both the German and Japanese movie history, and the reflection of history in movies, were complete new aspects for me (see my recent post (in Japanese)). The book is comprised of four parts: The first with the chapters War Against the West and Romance of the Ruins; the second with the chapters Auschwitz, Hiroshima, and Nanking; the third with History on Trial, Textbook Resistance, and Memorials, Museums, and Monuments; and the last part with A Normal Country, Two Normal Towns, and Clearing Up the Ruins. Let us look at the chapters in turn: The boook somehow left me with a bleak impression of Japanese post-war times as well as Japanese future. Having read other books about the political ignorance in Japan (Norma Field s In the realm of a dying emperor, or the Chibana history), Buruma s characterization of Japanese politics is striking. He couldn t foresee the recent changes in legislation pushed through by the Abe government actually breaking the constitution, or the rewriting of history currently going on with respect to comfort women and Nanking. But reading his statement about Article Nine of the constitution and looking at the changes in political attitude, I am scared about where Japan is heading to:
The Nanking Massacre, for leftists and many liberals too, is the main symbol of Japanese militarism, supported by the imperial (and imperialist) cult. Which is why it is a keystone of postwar pacifism. Article Nine of the constitution is necessary to avoid another Nanking Massacre. The nationalist right takes the opposite view. To restore the true identity of Japan, the emperor must be reinstated as a religious head of state, and Article Nine must be revised to make Japan a legitimate military power again. For this reason, the Nanking Massacre, or any other example of extreme Japanese aggression, has to be ignored, softened, or denied.
Ian Buruma, Wages of Guilt, Nanking
While there are signs of resistance in the streets of Japan (Okinawa and the Hanako bay, the demonstrations against secrecy law and reversion of the constitution), we are still to see a change influenced by the people in a country ruled and distributed by oligarchs. I don t think there will be another Nanking Massacre in the near future, but Buruma s books shows that we are heading back to a nationalistic regime similar to pre-war times, just covered with a democratic veil to distract critics.
I close with several other quotes from the book that caught my attention: In the preface and introduction:
[ ] mainstream conservatives made a deliberate attempt to distract people s attention from war and politics by concentrating on economic growth.
The curious thing was that much of what attracted Japanese to Germany before the war Prussian authoritarianism, romantic nationalism, pseudo-scientific racialism had lingered in Japan while becoming distinctly unfashionable in Germany.
In Romance of the Ruins:
The point of all this is that Ikeda s promise of riches was the final stage of what came to be known as the reverse course, the turn away from a leftist, pacifist, neutral Japan a Japan that would never again be involved in any wars, that would resist any form of imperialism, that had, in short, turned its back for good on its bloody past. The Double Your Incomes policy was a deliberate ploy to draw public attention away from constitutional issues.
In Hiroshima:
The citizens of Hiroshima were indeed victims, primarily of their own military rulers. But when a local group of peace activists petitioned the city of Hiroshima in 1987 to incorporate the history of Japanese aggression into the Peace Memorial Museum, the request was turned down. The petition for an Aggressors Corner was prompted by junior high school students from Osaka, who had embarrassed Peace Museum officials by asking for an explanation about Japanese responsibility for the war.
The history of the war, or indeed any history, is indeed not what the Hiroshima spirit is about. This is why Auschwitz is the only comparison that is officially condoned. Anything else is too controversial, too much part of the flow of history .
In Nanking, by the governmental pseudo-historian Tanaka:
Unlike in Europe or China, writes Tanaka, you won t find one instance of planned, systematic murder in the entire history of Japan. This is because the Japanese have a different sense of values from the Chinese or the Westerners.
In History on Trial:
In 1950, Becker wrote that few things have done more to hinder true historical self-knowledge in Germany than the war crimes trials. He stuck to this belief. Becker must be taken seriously, for he is not a right-wing apologist for the Nazi past, but an eminent liberal.
There never were any Japanese war crimes trials, nor is there a Japanese Ludwigsburg. This is partly because there was no exact equivalent of the Holocaust. Even though the behavior of Japanese troops was often barbarous, and the psychological consequences of State Shinto and emperor worship were frequently as hysterical as Nazism, Japanese atrocities were part of a military campaign, not a planned genocide of a people that included the country s own citizens. And besides, those aspects of the war that were most revolting and furthest removed from actual combat, such as the medical experiments on human guinea pigs (known as logs ) carried out by Unit 731 in Manchuria, were passed over during the Tokyo trial. The knowledge compiled by the doctors of Unit 731 of freezing experiments, injection of deadly diseases, vivisections, among other things was considered so valuable by the Americans in 1945 that the doctors responsible were allowed to go free in exchange for their data.
Some Japanese have suggested that they should have conducted their own war crimes trials. The historian Hata Ikuhiko thought the Japanese leaders should have been tried according to existing Japanese laws, either in military or in civil courts. The Japanese judges, he believed, might well have been more severe than the Allied tribunal in Tokyo. And the consequences would have been healthier. If found guilty, the spirits of the defendants would not have ended up being enshrined at Yasukuni. The Tokyo trial, he said, purified the crimes of the accused and turned them into martyrs. If they had been tried in domestic courts, there is a good chance the real criminals would have been flushed out.
After it was over, the Nippon Times pointed out the flaws of the trial, but added that the Japanese people must ponder over why it is that there has been such a discrepancy between what they thought and what the rest of the world accepted almost as common knowledge. This is at the root of the tragedy which Japan brought upon herself.
Emperor Hirohito was not Hitler; Hitler was no mere Shrine. But the lethal consequences of the emperor-worshipping system of irresponsibilities did emerge during the Tokyo trial. The savagery of Japanese troops was legitimized, if not driven, by an ideology that did not include a Final Solution but was as racialist as Hider s National Socialism. The Japanese were the Asian Herrenvolk, descended from the gods.
Emperor Hirohito, the shadowy figure who changed after the war from navy uniforms to gray suits, was not personally comparable to Hitler, but his psychological role was remarkably similar.
In fact, MacArthur behaved like a traditional Japanese strongman (and was admired for doing so by many Japanese), using the imperial symbol to enhance his own power. As a result, he hurt the chances of a working Japanese democracy and seriously distorted history. For to keep the emperor in place (he could at least have been made to resign), Hirohito s past had to be freed from any blemish; the symbol had to be, so to speak, cleansed from what had been done in its name.
In Memorials, Museums, and Monuments:
If one disregards, for a moment, the differences in style between Shinto and Christianity, the Yasukuni Shrine, with its relics, its sacred ground, its bronze paeans to noble sacrifice, is not so very different from many European memorials after World War I. By and large, World War II memorials in Europe and the United States (though not the Soviet Union) no longer glorify the sacrifice of the fallen soldier. The sacrificial cult and the romantic elevation of war to a higher spiritual plane no longer seemed appropriate after Auschwitz. The Christian knight, bearing the cross of king and country, was not resurrected. But in Japan, where the war was still truly a war (not a Holocaust), and the symbolism still redolent of religious exultation, such shrines as Yasukuni still carry the torch of nineteenth-century nationalism. Hence the image of the nation owing its restoration to the sacrifice of fallen soldiers.
In A Normal Country:
The mayor received a letter from a Shinto priest in which the priest pointed out that it was un-Japanese to demand any more moral responsibility from the emperor than he had already taken. Had the emperor not demonstrated his deep sorrow every year, on the anniversary of Japan s surrender? Besides, he wrote, it was wrong to have spoken about the emperor in such a manner, even as the entire nation was deeply worried about his health. Then he came to the main point: It is a common error among Christians and people with Western inclinations, including so-called intellectuals, to fail to grasp that Western societies and Japanese society are based on fundamentally different religious concepts . . . Forgetting this premise, they attempt to place a Western structure on a Japanese foundation. I think this kind of mistake explains the demand for the emperor to bear full responsibility.
In Two Normal Towns:
The bust of the man caught my attention, but not because it was in any way unusual; such busts of prominent local figures can be seen everywhere in Japan. This one, however, was particularly grandiose. Smiling across the yard, with a look of deep satisfaction over his many achievements, was Hatazawa Kyoichi. His various functions and titles were inscribed below his bust. He had been an important provincial bureaucrat, a pillar of the sumo wrestling establishment, a member of various Olympic committees, and the recipient of some of the highest honors in Japan. The song engraved on the smooth stone was composed in praise of his rich life. There was just one small gap in Hatazawa s life story as related on his monument: the years from 1941 to 1945 were missing. Yet he had not been idle then, for he was the man in charge of labor at the Hanaoka mines.
In Clearing Up the Ruins:
But the question in American minds was understandable: could one trust a nation whose official spokesmen still refused to admit that their country had been responsible for starting a war? In these Japanese evasions there was something of the petulant child, stamping its foot, shouting that it had done nothing wrong, because everybody did it.
Japan seems at times not so much a nation of twelve-year-olds, to repeat General MacArthur s phrase, as a nation of people longing to be twelve-year-olds, or even younger, to be at that golden age when everything was secure and responsibility and conformity were not yet required.
For General MacArthur was right: in 1945, the Japanese people were political children. Until then, they had been forced into a position of complete submission to a state run by authoritarian bureaucrats and military men, and to a religious cult whose high priest was also formally chief of the armed forces and supreme monarch of the empire.
I saw Jew S ss that same year, at a screening for students of the film academy in Berlin. This showing, too, was followed by a discussion. The students, mostly from western Germany, but some from the east, were in their early twenties. They were dressed in the international uniform of jeans, anoraks, and work shirts. The professor was a man in his forties, a 68er named Karsten Witte. He began the discussion by saying that he wanted the students to concentrate on the aesthetics of the film more than the story. To describe the propaganda, he said, would simply be banal: We all know the what, so let s talk about the how. I thought of my fellow students at the film school in Tokyo more than fifteen years before. How many of them knew the what of the Japanese war in Asia.

2 January 2016

Daniel Pocock: The great life of Ian Murdock and police brutality in context

Tributes: (You can Follow or Tweet about this blog on Twitter) Over the last week, people have been saying a lot about the wonderful life of Ian Murdock and his contributions to Debian and the world of free software. According to one news site, a San Francisco police officer, Grace Gatpandan, has been doing the opposite, starting a PR spin operation, leaking snippets of information about what may have happened during Ian's final 24 hours. Sadly, these things are now starting to be regurgitated without proper scrutiny by the mainstream press (note the erroneous reference to SFGate with link to SFBay.ca, this is British tabloid media at its best). The report talks about somebody (no suggestion that it was even Ian) "trying to break into a residence". Let's translate that from the spin-doctor-speak back to English: it is the silly season, when many people have a couple of extra drinks and do silly things like losing their keys. "a residence", or just their own home perhaps? Maybe some AirBNB guest arriving late to the irritation of annoyed neighbours? Doesn't the choice of words make the motive sound so much more sinister? Nobody knows the full story and nobody knows if this was Ian, so snippets of information like this are inappropriate, especially when somebody is deceased. Did they really mean to leave people with the impression that one of the greatest visionaries of the Linux world was also a cat burglar? That somebody who spent his life giving selflessly and generously for the benefit of the whole world (his legacy is far greater than Steve Jobs, as Debian comes with no strings attached) spends the Christmas weekend taking things from other people's houses in the dark of the night? The report doesn't mention any evidence of a break-in or any charges for breaking-in. If having a few drinks and losing your keys in December is such a sorry state to be in, many of us could potentially be framed in the same terms at some point in our lives. That is one of the reasons I feel so compelled to write this: somebody else could be going through exactly the same experience at the moment you are reading this. Any of us could end up facing an assault as unpleasant as the tweets imply at some point in the future. At least I can console myself that as a privileged white male, the risk to myself is much lower than for those with mental illness, the homeless, transgender, Muslim or black people but as the tweets suggest, it could be any of us. The story reports that officers didn't actually come across Ian breaking in to anything, they encountered him at a nearby street corner. If he had weapons or drugs or he was known to police that would have almost certainly been emphasized. Is it right to rush in and deprive somebody of their liberties without first giving them an opportunity to identify themselves and possibly confirm if they had a reason to be there? The report goes on, "he was belligerent", "he became violent", "banging his head" all by himself. How often do you see intelligent and successful people like Ian Murdock spontaneously harming themselves in that way? Can you find anything like that in any of the 4,390 Ian Murdock videos on YouTube? How much more frequently do you see reports that somebody "banged their head", all by themselves of course, during some encounter with law enforcement? Do police never make mistakes like other human beings? If any person was genuinely trying to spontaneously inflict a head injury on himself, as the police have suggested, why wouldn't the police leave them in the hospital or other suitable care? Do they really think that when people are displaying signs of self-harm, rounding them up and taking them to jail will be in their best interests? Now, I'm not suggesting this started out with some sort of conspiracy. Police may have been at the end of a long shift (and it is a disgrace that many US police are not paid for their overtime) or just had a rough experience with somebody far more sinister. On the other hand, there may have been a mistake, gaps in police training or an inappropriate use of a procedure that is not always justified, like a strip search, that causes profound suffering for many victims. A select number of US police forces have been shamed around the world for a series of incidents of extreme violence in recent times, including the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, shooting Walter Scott in the back, death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore and the attempts of Chicago's police to run an on-shore version of Guantanamo Bay. Beyond those highly violent incidents, the world has also seen the abuse of Ahmed Mohamed, the Muslim schoolboy arrested for his interest in electronics and in 2013, the suicide of Aaron Swartz which appears to be a direct consequence of the "Justice" department's obsession with him. What have the police learned from all this bad publicity? Are they changing their methods, or just hiring more spin doctors? If that is their response, then doesn't it leave them with a cruel advantage over those people who were deceased? Isn't it standard practice for some police to simply round up anybody who is a bit lost and write up a charge sheet for resisting arrest or assaulting an officer as insurance against questions about their own excessive use of force? When British police executed Jean Charles de Menezes on a crowded tube train and realized they had just done something incredibly outrageous, their PR office went to great lengths to try and protect their image, even photoshopping images of Menezes to make him look more like some other suspect in a wanted poster. To this day, they continue to refer to Menezes as a victim of the terrorists, could they be any more arrogant? While nobody believes the police woke up that morning thinking "let's kill some random guy on the tube", it is clear they made a mistake and like many people (not just police), they immediately prioritized protecting their reputation over protecting the truth. Nobody else knows exactly what Ian was doing and exactly what the police did to him. We may never know. However, any disparaging or irrelevant comments from the police should be viewed with some caution. The horrors of incarceration It would be hard for any of us to understand everything that an innocent person goes through when detained by the police. The recently released movie about The Stanford Prison Experiment may be an interesting place to start, a German version produced in 2001, Das Experiment, is also very highly respected. The United States has the largest prison population in the world and the second-highest per-capita incarceration rate. Many, including some on death row, are actually innocent, in the wrong place at the wrong time, without the funds to hire an attorney. The system, and the police and prison officers who operate it, treat these people as packages on a conveyor belt, without even the most basic human dignity. Whether their encounter lasts for just a few hours or decades, is it any surprise that something dies inside them when they discover this cruel side of American society? Worldwide, there is an increasing trend to make incarceration as degrading as possible. People may be innocent until proven guilty, but this hasn't stopped police in the UK from locking up and strip-searching over 4,500 children in a five year period, would these children go away feeling any different than if they had an encounter with Jimmy Saville or Rolf Harris? One can only wonder what they do to adults. What all this boils down to is that people shouldn't really be incarcerated unless it is clear the danger they pose to society is greater than the danger they may face in a prison. What can people do for Ian and for justice? Now that these unfortunate smears have appeared, it would be great to try and fill the Internet with stories of the great things Ian has done for the world. Write whatever you feel about Ian's work and your own experience of Debian. While the circumstances of the final tweets from his Twitter account are confusing, the tweets appear to be consistent with many other complaints about US law enforcement. Are there positive things that people can do in their community to help reduce the harm? Sending books to prisoners (the UK tried to ban this) can make a difference. Treat them like humans, even if the system doesn't. Recording incidents of police activities can also make a huge difference, such as the video of the shooting of Walter Scott or the UK police making a brutal unprovoked attack on a newspaper vendor. Don't just walk past a situation and assume everything is under control. People making recordings may find themselves in danger, it is recommended to use software that automatically duplicates each recording, preferably to the cloud, so that if the police ask you to delete such evidence, you can let them watch you delete it and still have a copy. Can anybody think of awards that Ian Murdock should be nominated for, either in free software, computing or engineering in general? Some, like the prestigious Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering can't be awarded posthumously but others may be within reach. Come and share your ideas on the debian-project mailing list, there are already some here. Best of all, Ian didn't just build software, he built an organization, Debian. Debian's principles have helped to unite many people from otherwise different backgrounds and carry on those principles even when Ian is no longer among us. Find out more, install it on your computer or even look for ways to participate in the project.

24 December 2015

Clint Adams: Before the Tet Offensive

Kurt has trouble keeping his mouth shut. This became widely apparent when he was expelled from Catholic school for telling a visiting dignitary to go fuck himself. WB used to preach angrily against casual sex. Kurt enlisted in the Army, and due to his high IQ he ended up in the Army Security Agency. After training, he was stationed in Germany where he performed signals intelligence functions like direction finding and passing on information to the CIA and NSA. One day WB shagged a boy with a leather hat. Contrary to what one might assume, Kurt had awareness of consequences. He refused officer training because that would have extended his commitment from 4 to 6 years. He purposefully flunked his French language proficiency exam. He wanted there to be no chance of him getting transferred to Vietnam. The following day, WB found herself confronted and asked to explain why she had had a change of heart about casual sex. Oh, it wasn't casual sex, she explained. He came over and said, I've been dying to make love with you for the past three hours, so it was special, she clarified. Thus the nature of the past communication failure became clear to everyone but WB. Despite all his efforts to avoid Vietnam, Kurt, of course, had trouble keeping his mouth shut. So in 1967 he pissed off the wrong person and found himself having to choose between Leavenworth and Saigon. He chose life of alcoholism over prison.

Next.