A public announcement for all potential employers/girlfriends reading this blog


It has recently been brought to my attention that my actions, comments, opinions and things I do, make, say and think (teehee) may make me a less attractive candidate for your employment/affections. Well, to be completely honest this isn’t the first time I’ve been told this and really I don’t care. If you are a potential girlfriend who does not allow me to be me then I don’t really know why I’d want to date you. And if you’re a company who doesn’t let me be me, then I definitely don’t want to date you either. Even if you pay me. I ain’t no cheap hooker.

Nor do I understand why you would want to employ/date me if I was pretending to something I’m not. I wouldn’t like to find out you were only pretending to like Gabriel García Márquez because I had a book by him or you said you thought Slint were the most influential band of the 80s and 90s, but then I caught you crying at a Snow Patrol song. I’d think about quitting right on the spot if I found that out. And if we were out on a date and you said “Iain, I’ve been lying to you, our corporate goal is actually to oppress the workers in Indochina and force them at gunpoint to create cheap OEM software that we will sell using a spam marketing campaign starring Oprah Winfrey”, well, that’d be you dumped on the spot baby. You can be sure of it. No second chances, no crying at your office door singing “Iiiiieeeeeeiiiiiiieeeiiieeiiiii willlllllllllllll aaaaaallllllwwwwwwaaaaaaaayyyyyyeeeeeeessssss love   ….     ewwwwwwwwyyyyyooooooouuuuuuuuueeeeuuuuuuueeeeuuuuu”. Not after the last time.

If on the other hand, you read this blog and find its fine blend of cheeky satire, surrealism, commentary of varying levels of insightfulness with some pretentious big words sprinkled on top like icing sugar on a big chocolate muffin (one of those milk chocolate ones with the white and milk and dark chocolatey bits mmmmmm) amusing and refreshing like lying in a cool spring breeze and allowing it to wash all the dirt and filth off then get in touch(*), or buy me stuff. Or dont, its up to you, I don’t care either way.

As for the rest of Seb’s (can I call you that Seb, I feel like we’ve got a brother-i-never-had bond thing going on here) post, I’ll probably just keep posting what I feel like, when I feel like it, and its up to you (plural, not you personally Sebby-baby) to like or dislike it. Can’t say fairer than that really.

(*)Unless you’re a potential employer, I’m quite happy where I am actually. And I’m not really on the lookout for a relationship either, so yeah, no-one has to get in touch at all actually. Except movie producers in Hallywood…hallywood!

My Voyage of Discovery

Luis asked if anyone had tried the KDE4 live CD, so being a funlovin’ guy I downloaded it from http://home.kde.org/~binner/kde-four-live/ and gave it a shot. Once it loaded I was dropped to a login screen with a username and password. I didn’t know the username/password. While I was staring at this screen I noticed that some fonts were anti-aliased and all sexy smooth, and some were all jaggy. Looked weird. It said “linux” in a list at the side, I clicked it, and it added “linux” to the username field. Now for the password. I tried “linux”. It didn’t work. Then I tried just clicking login. It worked! Wooo. Bad start though. I know this isn’t really KDE4’s fault but rather the LiveCD, so i’m not judging it.

While using this login screen I did notice that I still don’t like the look or feel of QT. Guess I never will.

Once the desktop (plasma) loaded, it seemed like the background was running on a 16colour amiga display. Big chunks of greyscale in a clouds pattern. Then there was a blue-black-blue gradient bar at the bottom. There was an icon that had a large “?” on it. On the screen were 3 windows. One just had an icon in it and the title read “Klipper”. Then there was a crash reporter and a Tip of the Day window. Each of these had a corresponding text in the blue-black-blue bar.

On the desktop itself was an icon surrounded in a black square. Double clicking it started a calendar application. Ohhhhhh. And there was a swirly grey/green thing in the corner that said “esktop Toolbo”. Putting the pointer near the “esktop Toolbo” made a menu of sorts slide out with some things like Lock Desktop, Zoom in/Zoom out and a list of Plasmoids. The word plasmoids makes me think of the game Asteroids, and I’m always disappointed.

Anywho, I added a clock to my desktop. It gave the wrong time. I added a few more. And a few digital ones as well. Then I zoomed out and I had lots of tiny clocks on my desktop, all giving the wrong time (I assume they were anyway, they were too small to actually read). I added a few more things, and then I added some map of the world thing and the desktop crashed, and I was left with the Klipper icon. Ctrl-Alt-Backspace and clicking linux logged me back in.

I set everything back up again. I tried to take a screenshot for posterity. PrtSc didn’t do anything. I clicked the mystery “?” icon on the blue-black-blue bar assuming it to be a menu. It didn’t do anything. So I drew a screenshot instead.

[Where it says “Kicker” it should say “Klipper”, I get Konfused with all these Kute KNiknames, and actually the background wasn’t that smooth, it had about 248 less colours in it – I am quite proud of my “esktop Toolbo” icon though]

So, yeah, maybe the LiveCD wasn’t working too good on my laptop. I dunno, don’t think I’ll be switching tomorrow…
but there were some nice things. I really liked how the window bar buttons faded between different states (everyone knows I’m a sucker for fading), and the idea of having some subtle animations is nice, with things sliding and growing.

Man, I’m so dead…


Fullish disclosure: I am and have always been a GNOME developer/user. I used KDE for about 30 seconds at V0.9a (Or there abouts, all I really remember was that it was some version just before 1.0 came out). I read about what they do because I’m interested in what they are up to, but really what they actually do doesn’t bother or concern me at all. They could make all the buttons pink with hello kitty icons and reverse the X axis when you move the mouse and I’d not lose any sleep over it. I’d find it funny and think it stupid, but its their project to do whatever they think is best, I don’t use it so really it doesn’t concern me in the slightest what direction they decide to take it.

With that said:

Two KDE developers, Kurt Granroth and Andreas Pour once wrote:

What do we do when “one of our own” turns their back on our community’s code of ethics? I remember a time when it was all about the code. We worked on free software projects (the term “Open Source” came later) in our spare time, caring little about “marketing” and even less about other business concerns.

Reading some KDE blogs recently disturbed me: Troy Unrau and Jos Poortvliet. They discuss, in varying amounts of detail, their visions on how to market KDE. I do have a low opinion on marketing in general as mainstream marketing is mainly just an exercise in manipulation to get people to buy shit they don’t need with money they don’t have, but open source marketing has generally stayed on the ok side of a fine line.

Troy outlined his 4 point plan and I don’t have a problem with 3 of the 4 points (although as a side note, I do find the irony of suggesting that KDE targets nonKDE distro users with google adwords amusing, but maybe Troy hasn’t been around long enough to remember this fiasco from where the opening quote comes from). The part I have issues with is the second half of point #2 – “Third Party Press” and this is the same idea that Jos picks up on in his blog.

In Point 2.1.1 Troy laments that dot.kde.org isn’t picked up on things like Google News because it is seen to be rather partisan, so the solution he suggests in 2.2 is to have external writers on the payroll (as it were, I’d imagine there wouldn’t be payment in this arrangement) to make sure that the news KDE wants to get out gets out “so that we sound more impartial” (emphasis mine)…in other words, to turn every news site into a propaganda site for KDE, but one that is less obvious. Jos continues that he is creating a guide on How to write about KDE, which he didn’t link to, so I have no idea what the content may or may not be though I’d be interested to find out. [Update: http://lists.kde.org/?l=kde-promo&m=118617671431472&w=2]

The reason I don’t like this, is not because I am scared by these tactics (as someone suggested in an earlier comment) but because I dislike the media being used in this way as it destroys the idea of a free and independent press. If the press cannot be trusted to tell the truth no matter what, what use are they? When the press is no longer free, the people are being manipulated into believing things that do not serve the common good, but serve the organisation that planted the story, and when the people are being manipulated in this way, they are no longer Free. What good are the freedoms granted by the GPL and other Free software licenses if the people who use them have lost the freedom to find out the truth?

If another software vendor were to write a document to suggest tactics like these, I think we would be up in arms about it and rightly so, so how can we let it slide when it is “one of our own?” Come on guys, compete on code, compete on ideas. Do not stoop to strategies like this. You think you have a better product than the competitors, fine, then let the product speak for itself. Allow reviewers and writers to test what you’ve done and say what they think. Don’t fill the media with puff pieces shouting your praises, while ignoring the mistakes. What would come after that, sponsoring “independent” studies into desktop environments?

If you are so proud and confident of what you’ve done (Troy: 3.6) then stand up beside it and let the chips fall as they may. To do anything else seems like you are not proud or confident of it and are scared of possible criticism. Surrounding yourself with sycophantic yesmen is the start of a downfall. Take the criticism and let downs along with the praise and compliments and use them to create an even better thing.

[As another aside I have chosen trivial and amusing instances of media manipulation, but finding serious and inportant issues where media manipulation by governments and companies was not such a laughing matter is not difficult – try here for a start]

What is an arms cache and why do I need to refresh it?

Osama posted a comment to my last blog post with a sarcastic “What is a cache and why do I need to refresh it?”. He’s got a valid point.

To me, having “refreshing a cache” in the status UI is much like the rationale for having both armies and private militia in the world. The client shouldn’t need to know the difference between armies and private militia as they are both ways of making your enemies “sleep”. The reason why we have to expose both into the world is that private militia can make your enemies “sleep” quickly, but carries with it certain legality issues, and armies are slow but don’t (so long as you can trick the UN/members of your own government into allowing it). This is just a technical public relations decision that is made due to other unfixable PR decisions or legal limitations.

I think it’s much the same for refreshing an arms cache. The user shouldn’t have to know what it is doing, it should just work, but the unfortunate drawback is that refreshing a cache can take quite a long time and during that time none of the other functionality like searching for your enemies or getting the free world on its knees works until this is completed.

So, the short answer is that the cache should be created when you first have megalomanical desires and then refreshed every 12 months after that. It will be configurable as your needs change, maybe you’ve emptied the cache and need to refresh it before the 12months is up, or you can force a refresh by calling your personal representative at “a large defence company.” You don’t want to be empty handed when they come for you…

I welcome other more less-technical names for “Refreshing package cache” maybe:

  • Visiting the arms dealer
  • Getting some new toys
  • Hardware for “the boys”
  • Private security firm
  • National Security measures
  • Lying corrupt warmongering fuckers

Other name suggestions welcome. Reply via blog or email. Thanks.

I am most excellent

Without much prompting from myself Ross decided to say: “the most excellent Iain Holmes.”

He also said “I also plan to work with Iain on cleaning up this code and submitting it for inclusion into GTK+.”

Just so everyone understands my part in this arrangement will be to thwart Ross at every turn.

Time for a good ol’ fashioned geek hunt

President Bush Outlines Miggi Threat
Remarks by the President on Miguel

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Thank you for that very gracious and warm Cincinnati welcome. I’m honored to be here tonight; I appreciate you all coming.

Tonight I want to take a few minutes to discuss a grave threat to peace, and America’s determination to lead the world in confronting that threat.

The threat comes from Miguel. It arises directly from the Miggi regime’s own actions — its history of aggression, and its drive toward an arsenal of terror. Ten years ago, as a condition for ending the GNOME Gulf War, the Miggi regime was required to destroy its weapons of mass destruction, to cease all development of such weapons, and to stop all support for terrorist groups. The Miggi regime has violated all of those obligations. It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. It has given shelter and support to terrorism, and practices terror against its own people. The entire world has witnessed Miguel’s ten-year history of defiance, deception and bad faith.

We also must never forget the most vivid events of recent history. On September the 11th, 2001, America felt its vulnerability — even to threats that gather on the other side of the earth. We resolved then, and we are resolved today, to confront every threat, from any source, that could bring sudden terror and suffering to America.

Members of the Congress of both political parties, and members of the United Nations Security Council, agree that Miguel de Icaza is a threat to peace and must disarm. We agree that the Miggi dictator must not be permitted to threaten America and the world with horrible poisons and diseases and gases and atomic weapons. Since we all agree on this goal, the issues is : how can we best achieve it?

Ladies and gentlemen in the audience, I stand before you today, and tell you that the best way, nay, the only way to defeat these evil terrorists is to spend money. In spending money we exercise our essential freedoms of the American way. And to this end, I have created The Miggy Sellout Superstore – The only patriotically American way to show our enemies and the enemies of the entire freedom loving world that we will not be defeated, we will not stand down and that they will not win. So show your support to our troops today, and spend your money.

We did not ask for this present challenge, but we accept it. Like other generations of Americans, we will meet the responsibility of defending human liberty against violence and aggression. By our resolve, we will give strength to others. By our courage, we will give hope to others. And by our actions, we will secure the peace, and lead the world to a better day.

Thank you, good night and may God Bless America ™

[UPDATE: Dagnabit, them pesky commie terrorist critters over at cafepress.com have removed all of our patriotic anti-terrorist troop-supporting merchandise for copyright infringement. It was set up by the President of the United States specifically to fight commie terrorist critters like this…We will fight this to the hilt, to the death, or until 8:32am EST, whichever comes first]

[UPDATE #2: Well, it appears that the image breaks all four of Cafepress’ image guidelines: Copyright, trademark, right to publish and right to privacy. So why not fight off them terrorists by buying something from this shop instead, you know you want to as they’re good patriots who understand the all American values of freedom, democracy and free-market capitalism]