Category Archives: Oddball entries

Being sick and watching movies

So having a cold I spent most of the weekend watching movies. Most of the movies I seen before, but I keep reseeing them again and again in order to try to learn Castilliano (using spanish dubbing and subtitles). Anyway one movie I ended up seeing which I hadn’t seen before was Ninette. It a spanish movie I picked up at the FNAC some time ago figuring that I should get some spanish movies too for my learning and it was cheap.
Anyway, what an incomprehensible movie. The storyline seems patched together and the characters are completely unaccessible. When the movie was over I was wondering what the goal of the movie was, was it an attempt to restore self-confidence in the middle-aged Spanish man?
Or was the reason I didn’t get it that I am not intimate with the Spanish historical ideas about France and the french? Anyway the only thing I liked about the movie was Elsa Pataky, the lead accress, she was as hot as they come.

Tonight is X-Men 3 time :)

Google and Iran

Roozbeh, while I can understand your frustration I don’t think its fair to pin this one on Google. I am sure Google’s lawyers are quite good and if they feel that allowing Iranian citizens into the Google SoC program is running afoul with US law then they probably think so with good reason. For Chris DiBona to be able to go to the Google laywers with an opposing view he would need much stronger ammunition than iranian foreign exchange students being unhappy about it and non-laywer reading of the documents in question.

Also in the current US political climate I am not sure Google want to have to fight a potential PR war about wether they are trying to subvert US export regulations or not.

On a related note, was I frustrated when Google didn’t make GStreamer a Summer of Code project? Sure I was. But at the same time I realized of course that its Google’s money and they have the right to spend it exactly how they see fit and give it to whoever they want. Including not giving them to citizens on the US export ban list countries.

In the end Roozbeh you have to face that the US and Iran is not on very good terms. That is neither your or Chris DiBona’s fault, but you both have to deal with it. That might not be ‘fair’, but it is how the world works. Citizens get ‘punished’ and ‘rewarded’ based on the actual or percieved actions of their nation no matter if the citizen in question has any kind of responsibility or influence on the situation or act. Sanctions probably has to work that way or they will be very ineffective.

So while I sympatize with your plight, and I am sure Chris DiBona does too, these blog entries about how evil Google is feels misplaced to me.

Live action Warcraft Movie

So as anyone who don’t live under a rock is aware of by now, there is a live-action Warcraft movie planned based on the gaming world created in the Warcraft series and now giving millions of people an unhealthy addiction through World of Warcraft. As a former partially recovered World of Warcraft junkie I can’t help but to be curios to see what they come up with. Fantasy movies have tended to be of low quality and movies based on computer games hasn’t been known for their quality either. The Lord of the Rings movies have proven however that technology has reached a level know where making visually believeable fantasy movies are possible at this point. Hopefully they will be able to put together a budget and team to make this movie fun to see.

The last Norwegian invasion?

Was an article in a Norwegian newspaper today about what I believe is the last Norwegian king to attempt a foreign invasion, namely the invasion of Harald Hardrada of England in 1066. (Hardrada means ‘hard ruler’) as his rule was supposed to have been very harsh.

The story of Haralad Hardrada has always facinated my as he played a part on my important events in Norwegian history, like participating in the battle of Stiklestad in 1030. This battle is famous in Norwegian history as it was the battle which basically turned Norway into a Christian country, even though the army fighting to keep the faith in the Norse gods won the battle and managed to kill the king later known as Olav the Holy.

In 1034 Harald Hardrada had travelled to Constantinopel and took service for the Byzantin emperor, which was where he gained his battle experience and wealth. In 1045 he returned to Norway and became co-ruler for a year, before gaining sole kingship. Harald Hardrade is also known as the founder of Oslo, which is today the capital of Norway, which is why a
statue of him decorate the city hall
.

Anyway the story in today’s paper was about the Battle of Fulford which I had to admit I didn’t know about. The battle of Fulford preceded the more famous (and for Harald Hardrade final battle of Stamford bridge. The battle of Stamford bridge preceding of course the even more famous battle at Hastings in which Harald Godwinson (the then king of England) was beaten by William the Conqueror.

It seems the battleside of the battle of Fulford is actually preserved today in a condition almost identical to the one of 1066, with an english society working to have it preserved as there is a recent effort to build a road and housing over the site.

So if you are in that area lend your support to the Battle of Fullford group :)

Active weekend

Decided recently that I need to be more active during my weekends as I was feeling that I was letting them slip away to easily. So I set myself a goal of at least doing two things every day of the weekend. Started doing this weekend by goin to Montserrat which is a old church/convent in the mountains north of Barcelona. It was a very nice area and I walked around in the mountains for many hours enjoying the feeling of being outdoors and the beautiful scenery. Definetly going to go back there to explore further. In the evening I went to a stand up-comedy show in Gracia. They had pulled in some stand-up comedians from London and it great fun. Mike joined me there and I learned that Mike has an uncanny likeness to David Hasselhoff from our friends on the stage.

Sunday I went to see V for Vendetta at the local cinema. Loved the movie and combined with my recent viewing of Closer it increased my appreciation of Natalie Portman as an actress a lot. In the evening I went over to Matthieu’s place where he hosted a barbeque on his roof terrasse as a delayed house warming party. Mattheiu’s appartment is pretty nice even being very rustic. Nice view of the town from the terrace and short walk to the beach.

Elisa update

So Phillipe and Loic are working hard on getting a first version of Elisa ready to be announced/presented at GUADEC. One of the things they are currently working on is making sure it integrates with ViiV systems. Managed to take this screenshot today showing Elisa browsing the directories of the ViiV server. Lots of polish needed though :). Lionel has already made an agreement with David Vignoni for doing graphics for Elisa (the current temporary graphics used are taken from various existing icon sets, mostly Crystal afaik). David has done work for us before, doing a set of icons for Flumotion (which we haven’t fully included yet due to letting it block on a more generic ‘cleaning up the Flumotion GUI’ task’)

Standards and standarisation

Been dealing a little lately with the issue of standards. On one hand I recognize some standards as important and their existence has problably been a critical success factor for free and open source software. POSIX, PNG, Window Manager specification, UTF8, SVG, XML and various hardware standards come to mind as some examples.

The problem with standards is that the standarisation process often brings with it stagnation or that the standard advocates horrible solutions (the horrible solution was the compromise between two good solutions for instance). I think Solaris is an example of how letting yourself get locked down into a gigantic pile of standards and ABI promises in the end becomes more of a problem than a help. Sure if you ask people if ABI stability is important to them they will say yes, but in the end developers tend to value feature additions and improvements in the library they are depending on even more than ABI stability. And the same is true for standards, while everyone would say that being standards compliant is good, they would still choose to use something else if it provides a better experience.

Of course the worst kind of standards is when you create technical workarounds for the lack of standards and then ask people to standarize on those. Been a couple of examples of such I seen recently.

I don’t know how to do good and needed standards while not creating a standards bog, all I know is that I think standards isn’t the solution to all of the worlds problems.

Dangerous times for the Wheel of Time

Was sad to read today that Robert Jordan the author of the popular fantasy saga Wheel of Time have been diagnosed with a disease called amyloidosis, which according to Jordan has a median of 1 year until fatality from diagnosis if untreated. If treated the median jumped to 4 years which isn’t that much more. It made me think about my uncle who died two years ago after having been diagnosed with cancer about one year before that again, which again made me realize I tend to accept the occurence death quite quickly. I guess it comes as a byproduct of having a lot of doctors, nurses, vetrinerians and biologists in the family, all who comes in close contact with the cycle of life through their jobs almost on a daily basis, which in turn I guess have made them very ‘comfortable’ with such events, something which has rubbed of on me I guess. Combined with a complete lack of religiosity in the familty which has removed words such as ‘unfair or unjust’ in relation to death and instead quiet acceptance that death is direct result of being alive. So while there are of course the sadness and sorrow which comes when someone close dies, no energy or anger is spent looking to the heavens asking ‘why’.

The embarrassment in Afghanistan

The recent debacle surrounding the arrest and threat of death penalty for
the man in Afganistan who converted from Islam to Christianity
is nothing less than an embarrassment for the nations involved in the deposing of the Taliban government. While this embarrassment is more easily explainable in terms of the Afghan invasion being a more direct response to 9/11 and thus there was less time for planning a post-war Afghanistan, it does raise some questions on how such things are handled. George Bush wanted to set up Afghanistan and Iraq as shining democratic examples, but seemed to forget that a democracy is more than just allowing elections. And its not that there was a lack of experience with how to establish a democracy in a conquered nation, as it was done in both West-Germany and Japan after World War 2.

I googled a bit and I found this section from the Potsdam declaration, which was the document setting the terms for Japanse surrender.

We do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners. The Japanese Government shall remove all obstacles to the revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among the Japanese people. Freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established.

After the war the allied forces put clear directions of the writing of the new constitution. In Afghanistan it seems that apart from demanding a system based on elections there wasn’t any such guidance given. And it seems just as little guidance has been given in Iraq.

I am not sure how its been possible to screw up so completely twice in a row, but I guess part of the problem was ‘selling’ the wars as freeing the peoples of said nations. I guess that when you come in as a liberator as opposed to a conquerer its harder to impose your rules on the freed. Nontheless I am sure that the US government had a lot of negotiation options with the northern alliance before the Afghan invasion and maybe that would have been a good time to demand that a post-war constitution that was based on the same values and principles as was demanded of Japan, as shown above. Instead we got Taliban-light .

A long weekend in Norway

So I went back to Norway for the weekend. My main reason for going was to cheer up my mother who had been sick and undergone as lot of testing lately as the doctors feared for a while that she had gotten cancer. While back I also used to the chance to connect with some of my friends in Norway again.

I re-discovered is that doing stuff in Norway do cost a shitload of money. One night I went out with Kjartan Maraas and Owen Frasier-Green. We ate pizza, had a few beers and played snooker for a few hours. In the end the evening cost me almost 200 Euro, and that was for just me alone. Considering that my airplane ticket to Norway cost me almost 200 Euro sort of sets things in perspective :)

Anyway I think the trip back to Norway worked out well. That I felt like I returned after a two month vacation when stepping into the Fluendo office today probably means I had an eventful four days in Norway :)

Battlestar Galactica

So Edward managed to get me hooked onto Battlestar Galactica. I have seen the whole series and for season two I even checked out a couple of the podcasts done by the writer behind the show, Ron Moore.

Listening to those podcasts was kinda interesting as it gave me a impression of a person who cares about his show in ways very similar to how we care about our projects like GNOME and GStreamer. The similarities in feelings towards ones labour of love is of course one of those things which are in many ways obvious when you think about it, but having it confirmed by listening to such a podcast does make it more ‘real’. Another interesting parallel is the often difficult to manage relation with the community of strong feeling users. ‘Battlestar Galactica was great until you did X’ or ‘Battlestar Galactica would be great if only you did Y’, has a great similarity to ‘GNOME was great until you did X’ or ‘GNOME would be great if only you did Y’.

Anyway to make some specific comments on the Battlestar Galactica. I think one of the reason I like it is because they do fairly clever storylines and characters. Ron Moore and the others behind the show are smart people and it shows. That said, even if I think Season 2 is better than most other current television made it do feel a little less good than the first season. The reasons for this is probably complicated, but Ron has pointed out in his commentaries that some of the episodes turned out less well due to time contraints. As they increased the number of episodes per season the time pressure increased leading to more glitches in the storytelling. For instance one thing they did better in season one than in season two (especially second half of season two) is keep some final truths from you. For instance take the ghostly ‘number 6′ that follows Gaius around. For a long time they held us from being able to conclude on wether she is ‘real’ or a figment of Gaius’s imagination. As long as she was only telling him about the past or about things a genius might have been able to deduce himself you where kept guessing. Some of the things that has happened during this season doesn’t rhyme very easily with that uncertainty but has instead ‘cemented’ her a bit as an actual entity. The same with Laura’s religious prophercy fulfillment where I feel they wanted it to be unclear for the viewer if there really is a supernatural prophercy at work or if it is just a person that belivies in the prophercies making them true by acting them out. There was items in this season pulling strongly towards the first option. Of course Laura being cured from her terminal disease did make things a bit murky again to the show makers defence.

Of course it is possible to ‘correct’ these items by adding things to story patching over the glitches in the storytelling making the ‘other’ option in both cases seem much less likely, but my general feeling is that the ‘stress’ of the higher episode count has simply given them to little time to think out each scene well enough to keep the option for multiple interpretations there. So while the Ron and Co. are smart, even smart people need time to think to come up with clever stuff.

Anyway, I still think its a fun show and will be tuning in for Season 3 in the fall.