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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Emacs GPL violation and a mature response

Actually it should read as non compliance but I'll go with what I see on the interwebs.   Anyways, it appears that some grammar files are not included in the distribution and Dr. Stallman rightly acknowledgement the error and suggested a remediation.

What I don't understand is, why people are worked up over this.  It appears to be a mistake and the developers are trying to fix it.  It's not like they bundled it and made a few millions of it and then got pantsed.  I always thought that it'd be a kinder version of 'cease and desist' or else....they themselves stop distribution of their own code.

Anyways, here's another take on the same, mirroring my own views in a more mature fashion.

Friday, July 22, 2011

TeX Live 2011 release available

Looks like the TeXLive 2011 binaries are now available along with a recommendation to do a network install instead of  a iso download and then installing.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Visual Guide to Narrowing in Emacs

 Every once in a while, you'd hear someone talk about narrowing in Emacs and you'd wonder what they're talking about.  The idea behind narrowing is that, you might be interested in only a certain portion of the file/buffer you're working on and you'd like to work on that portion alone and nothing else.  Narrowing allows you to do that by simply eliminates from your viewing, any other extraneous lines other than the highlighted ones.  Here's an example

In the screenshot above, let's say I want to work on the rows only upto to 10-Jan-2006 in a file containing 1000s of rows.  Mark the region and hit C-x n n.

 The rest of the lines are gone and only the marked region is left.  Now, you can work on the narrowed region as usual; the normal editing editing commands apply. Once you've completed the changes, you can get your complete buffer back by using C-x n w which widens the buffer or cancels narrowing.  For example, I've changed ABB to XXX in the narrowed region and reverted to the normal buffer by C-x n w.

 That's it. A couple of points are in order. It is disabled by default, so you'd want to enable it by adding the following to your .emacs
;;;enable narrowing
(put 'narrow-to-region 'disabled nil)
If you're confused whether narrowing is in effect or not, the modeline should have the word Narrow in it as a visual indication.  Lastly, the hidden text and lines are not gone even if you save with narrowing in effect, so you really don't need to panic that you've accidently overwritten the entire file or any other pant turding fear!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Gnus Tip: Viewing old messages of the thread

What follows depends on the server's retention policy for messages or articles. On high volume newsgroups, it might not get all the articles.  And it may not be that reliable as the  servers may not thread the articles properly.

The simplest method is to use A T to retrieve the entire thread when the cursor is on a article.  The second option is to use A R which fetches articles that are mentioned in the references header.  And lastly, if you want to find out to which post was the current article you're looking at references, use ^ that fetches the parent article.

 These options are available on the Article menu option as you can see in the above screenshot.
 Backup & Recovery: Inexpensive Backup Solutions for Open SystemsPro Data Backup and RecoveryThe Tyranny of E-mail: The Four-Thousand-Year Journey to Your Inbox

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A new release of PuTTY....after 4 years

From the Putty mailing list, here's the announcement and the list of changes.   For those using cygwin, minTTY is the supposedly the cygwin implementation using some of the same codebase.   MinTTY is part of the cygwin core package, so the new changes may propagate after some time into MinTTY and come through the cygwin update routine.
UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook (4th Edition)Unix in a Nutshell, Fourth EditionAutomating Linux and Unix System Administration (Expert's Voice in Linux)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Open Source Firms: Pawns in Corporate Warfare?

This story on HP support for Enterprise DB is a few days old.  While the article goes into a lot of details on the technical and pricing proposed, the last paragraph caught my eye.

Rather than messing around, HP should buy out IBM's stake in EnterpriseDB and just finally get itself a database of its own to sell. Apotheker has software aspirations, and while he is at it, he should get serious and buy Red Hat, too. That would give HP the operating system, middleware, and database options to counter both Oracle and IBM. While EnterpriseDB has grown decently, from 75 customers in 2006 to nearly 800 by the end of last year, it could grow a lot faster with the HP R&D and sales channel behind it. Buying Red Hat is just obvious.

What does this mean for Open Source firms?  Mostly, the product is being supported probably not on the merits of the technology but possibly on a scorched earth, no prisoners taken battle between big firms.  Sure, they get investments and buyouts but it appears it will be mostly towards warding off competition or a bargaining chip against a short term threat. In hindsight, MySQL and OpenOffice come to my mind though I have no numbers to back up how well they're doing post their purchase in terms of development support or sales.  MySQL I believe was purchased by Sun over disputes with Oracle over Database licenses on multicore chips?

And I wouldn't be surprised if they were let adrift by the firms once their perceived threats have receded.  Since these are open source firms that are acquired with possible community feedback and patches, wonder how the free contributors/ developers would feel about this?

It does remind one of the African saying "When Elephants fight, it's the grass that suffers"
Understanding Open Source and Free Software LicensingThe Innovator's Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do Business (Collins Business Essentials)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Converting Inkscape Svg layers into Beamer overlays

This might be useful for those using Inkscape and know something about Beamer.  If you don't know anything about LaTeX, then this is not going to be useful.  From the project page

takes an Inkscape .svg as input, and generates pdf files corresponding to each of the layers and a LaTeX file that uses the LaTeX Beamer commands to incrementally overlay them. 

If you use Beamer to make your presentations and Inkscape to draw, then this might be potentially useful though I daresay people would tend to use PGF with BeamerPGF examples can be found here.
Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and DeliveryThe Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any AudienceTypesetting Tables with LaTeX

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Gnus Tip: Deleting Incoming mail files automatically

When Gnus reads in incoming mail, it stores a copy of the slurped file as Incomingxxxx in the ~/Mail folder as a backup.  These files get deleted by default after 10 days.  If you need to change it to something else or delete it immediately upon reading into Gnus, add the following to your .gnus or gnus.el file.

;;if retrieving from spool, delete temp file after 1 day(s)
(setq mail-source-delete-incoming 1) ;; change 1 to t to immediately delete or any number
(setq mail-source-delete-old-incoming-confirm nil)

More information on these and other options can be found in the Mail Source Customization in the Gnus Manual.

qmailPGP & GPG: Email for the Practical ParanoidThe Book of IMAP: Building a Mail Server with Courier and Cyrus

Friday, July 8, 2011

Gnus Tip: Show unread articles in Summary Buffer

The simplest way to show a mix of read and unread messages in your Summary Buffer is to add the following to the Group Parameters.

((display . 100))

You can change that number which tells Gnus to display the last 100 articles to any number that you want.  And while you're at it, you might as well read the other customisation options to Group Parameters.

The Exim SMTP Mail Server: Official Guide for Release 4sendmail, 4th EditionPro Open Source Mail: Building an Enterprise Mail Solution (Expert's Voice in Open Source)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Org-mode 7.6 released

From the org-mode mailing lists, a new release of org-mode can be downloaded here or here.

Key new features include OpenDocument support, new keybindings, babel and lilypond support apart from bug fixes.

If you use git, you may have to do a git pull to get the latest.

 Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free ProductivityLeave the Office Earlier: The Productivity Pro Shows You How to Do More in Less Time...and Feel Great About ItYour Creative Brain: Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination, Productivity, and Innovation in Your Life (Harvard Health Publications)

The End of Patents?

In a article titled In a Bill, Wall Street Shows Its Clout, the NYT outlined a bill which is winding its way through the US Congress for approval that outlines a fantastic opt-out-if-i-don't-feel-like-paying by Financial firms.

Now, the issue is not the about the firms themselves but the language in the bill.

Some quotes

The provision even allows “retroactive reviews of approved business method patents, allowing the financial services industry to challenge patents that have already been found valid both at the U.S. Patent and Trade Office and in Federal Court,”
It covers patents for “a financial product or service” as well as “corresponding apparatus for performing data processing or other operations used in the practice, administration, or management of a financial product or service.”

Basically, it allows firms to challenge and invalidate patents and processes that were already approved by Courts and the Patent Office. 

How and why on earth would anyone file for patents then, if this gets through?  Imagine, slogging on a very clever solution and that gets usurped by a version of the Greater Common Good theory (albeit for some vested interest).  That a patent allows an inventor a limited monopoly to make money is one key incentive...take away that, what's in it for him?

Please don't say, let them go the trade secret route where it can be reverse engineered in a matter of months.

And of course, there is the massive damage to Patent Firms, companies that have amassed portfolios of patents; their business model is in tatters.  Lots of companies make money by simply licensing patents and they'd no longer have a revenue stream from their patents.

It really would be the end of patents.
Patents and How to Get One: A Practical HandbookIntellectual Property: The Law of Trademarks, Copyrights, Patents, and Trade Secrets for the ParalegalThe Entrepreneur's Guide to Patents, Copyrights, Trademarks, Trade Secrets & Licensing

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Calfw - A calendar framework for Emacs

From the org-mode mailing lists, here's an interesting view of the same agenda/calendar of org-mode similar to what you see in Google Calendar developed by SAKURAI Masashi.

This is not part of the org-mode development tree and you'd have to download the package from the github repository.   It might be a good idea to try it and give your feedback on the thread here.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free ProductivityGTD® System GuidesReady for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Getting Things Done

Monday, July 4, 2011

A better London Underground Map?

From the Economist Daily Chart (Which I strongly suggest, you subscribe to the RSS feed), it appears someone has gone to the trouble of designing a geographically accurate map of the London Underground.

If you've been to London and used the Tube, the standard map is itself a nice informative chart, worthy of a Tufte mention, I'd say.  Anything that goes to improve on that, gets my vote.  While I don't claim to have any special knowledge of London Tube stations, the fact that some stations are closer to each other above ground than what is on the standard map would save you that bit of aggravation exactly when you need to rush or are late to some meeting. 

Of course, if you're used to the standard map, this might take some getting used to but if you've never been there and it's your first time, might as well try the new one.   Obviously, you're getting to miss the long running track and repair changes information that is published along with the standard map.   But as the designer suggests, take both with you.

Underground London: Travels Beneath the City StreetsLondon's Underground (11th edition)The Visual Display of Quantitative InformationEnvisioning Information

Friday, July 1, 2011

2011 CWE/SANS Top 25 Most Dangerous Software Errors

Through, the top 25 dangerous software Errors can be found here.  Makes for some nice or frightening reading depending upon your point of view. It is a bit weird that

Buffer Copy without Checking Size of Input ('Classic Buffer Overflow')

is still there and at an astounding 3rd place.  I was under the impression that the new C/C++ standards would have done and fixed that at the compiler level or something of that sort. Again, assuming the bulk of these errors were in C/C++.

Makes me think that the OpenBSD folks were in the right to fix things by changing the insecure libraries so that this kind of error cannot be triggered at all.

And oh, I do like this one too

Use of Hard-coded Credentials

even mentioning espionage implications and Stuxnet.

Go on, read the full list here.

Beautiful Security: Leading Security Experts Explain How They ThinkIntroduction to Security, Eighth EditionSecure Architectures with OpenBSD