Monday, 29-Sep-08 11:48
Teh win!

Got electricity bill today, and I'm happy: 20% reduction in total electricity usage from last year. I'm not quite sure what helped, but I think that figuring out how I use my computers was a major factor. We now keep them off (or in hibernation) most of the time when they're not used, and my desktop just wakes up at night to run remote backups, after which it shuts itself off again. You can save a surprising amount of energy by spending an hour or two twiddling the computer power-management setup. Also, using laptops more (now that we have two) probably also contributes quite a lot: a typical laptop takes about what, one fifth of the power of a regular desktop computer (60W vs 350W)?

The in-house sauna also lost some of its novelty value, and we cut down on using it to maybe two-three times a month. This was also probably the other major power-saving.

Now, I know we can do better this year, though the upcoming kid is going to make it difficult. What I would like to do is to have better measurements with immediate feedback. I know there are already companies offering that, but it seems to be quite sluggish to get the equipment installed when you're living in an apartment block...

Thursday, 25-Sep-08 12:27
Artic methane already escaping?

This, if true, could change everything about our global climate catastrophy.

In the past few days, the researchers have seen areas of sea foaming with gas bubbling up through "methane chimneys" rising from the sea floor. They believe that the sub-sea layer of permafrost, which has acted like a "lid" to prevent the gas from escaping, has melted away to allow methane to rise from underground deposits formed before the last ice age.

They have warned that this is likely to be linked with the rapid warming that the region has experienced in recent years.

Methane is about 20 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and many scientists fear that its release could accelerate global warming in a giant positive feedback where more atmospheric methane causes higher temperatures, leading to further permafrost melting and the release of yet more methane.

The amount of methane stored beneath the Arctic is calculated to be greater than the total amount of carbon locked up in global coal reserves so there is intense interest in the stability of these deposits as the region warms at a faster rate than other places on earth.

A feedback loop. That's geek-talk for the same thing which causes the horrendous wailing when you put a mic close to a loudspeaker. You could also call it a chain reaction - just like an avalance or a nuclear bomb: a small problem rapidly grows really big, and there is no stopping it.

This problem cannot be solved anymore by recycling your banana peels. It needs law and legislation, threats and carrots from the highest authorities in every country.

Really, really fast.

(Via BB.)

Wednesday, 24-Sep-08 23:59
PGP sigs anyone?

I'm in need for some signatures for my new PGP key. If you want to trade signatures, and know me personally, call/email me.

If someone happens to know any key signing parties nearby, that would help too.

Sunday, 21-Sep-08 13:14
Small open source & corporations & communities rant

Y'know, there are loads of companies out there who do "get" open source. Even big ones, like IBM, Sun or even Nokia. I don't mean that everything they do is or should be Free or Open Source Software (FOSS), but when they choose to use or support open source for business reasons, they are savvy enough to understand how FOSS works, participate in the community, give back stuff which benefits everyone and in general work together with the project. Doesn't always work, and sometimes they make bad business decisions, but hey, at least the capacity is there.

Then you got the clueless ones.

Some time ago, I was contacted by an unnamed company, who wanted to use JSPWiki as a part of their product. We talked, but in the end, I told them: "It's open source, you can use it - within the license - anyway you want. I can't do any work for you now, but if you do choose to use JSPWiki, do participate in the community so that we can both benefit from each other."

A few days ago I got a letter. In the letter, the company said that they were disappointed in the fact that JSPWiki community didn't show any interest in co-operation, and that they had forked JSPWiki code and made it better, and that they were open sourcing it on their own.

Well... In the months between these two discussions, there were no emails to the community mailing lists, no issues filed by these guys, no patches contributed whatsoever. They apparently made the elementary mistake that you can take the head coder, and assume that this guy speaks for the whole community - just like a program manager would speak for the whole program.

Guess what, buddy? It doesn't work that way. The only way to convince an open source community is by putting money where your mouth is. You start the work, do it with passion, and if there are enough people who like it, you will get a community. There are no shortcuts, no magic. As I said before (in that particular rant/interview), in order to make an open source project to really work, you need two types in the community:

  1. People who do it for the passion. These people provide stability and long-term memory for the project. They may not contribute much code-wise, but they are essential in keeping the community together, keeping the spirit, and providing long-term vision. You can control these people about as much as you can control a herd of cats.
  2. People who do it for the money. These people are hired by corporations to work on a particular piece of the code. They provide the raw thinking power behind a lot of innovations of the system. But they go away, once their thing is done, leaving maintenance to the passionate people.

Sometimes a project is lucky enough to have both types embodied in the same people, which turns its viability up a knob. Many of the infrastructure projects are like this - Linux and Apache being good examples.

But you cannot treat a FOSS project the same way you would treat another company. There is no central person who makes decisions for everyone else, and nobody to make a deal with. You can buy individual developers, and make them take the project in a particular direction, but even then it really comes down to sitting down, rolling up the sleeves and banging out the code and contributing it back to the community.

Because if you don't, and you fork, you are responsible for the maintenance, the bugs, and the everything. And then you lose, because then you pay your own guys for the same stuff as what the project programmers are doing for free. And the further away you drift from the trunk, the more expensive it becomes to follow the community, and the more difficult it will be for you to reverse your decision, because few FOSS projects are interested in taking in patches for an ancient version of the codebase.

And the funny bit is - these guys forked from a version of JSPWiki which was still LGPL. They have no choice but to make it open source, because that is what LGPL says. If they were using the latest version, they could use it under the Apache license, which wouldn't be so restrictive. Though, I have to admit, that the cluelessness which has been shown so far might mean that they haven't even realized that they don't have a choice. I've had earlier problems with them not sticking to the LGPL license terms. I'd hate it if I had to go and bang them with a lawyer-shaped cluestick.

Frankly, while they say that they are going to open source their own fork, I don't give them much hope for success. Their behaviour so far shows that they cannot even talk to an existing community, so how on earth could they create a new community from scratch?

Friday, 19-Sep-08 18:30
New product announcement

In the grand tradition of announcing things before they're ready in the eventual hope of driving the share price up, Team BUNT announces their new project, bringing in exciting new features such as two self-contained propulsion units, two fine-motoric grappling apparatuses, self-aware expert system, automatic waste disposal unit, binaural audio processing, and internal power plant with a wide range of acceptable fuels.

We expect to deliver this product by 1Q2009. While the feature set is complete, we are currently finetuning the product and planning for delivery and maintenance. Thank you for your patience.

(Frankly, I'm half giddy, half scared, half worried, half relieved and half unable to count. Oh well. I am genetically wired to eat, poop and reproduce. Since the two others seem to work okay, I think I can handle this one too.

All already-dads out there are free to snicker in the comment section.)

Thursday, 18-Sep-08 16:36
USA to get unlimited access at personal history of Norwegians

Eh? WTF? Since when did Norway become a protectorate of the US? From Swedish Television News (translation mine):

"After seven years, agreement between USA and Norway is almost complete. Once the agreement is signed, CIA gains access to email addresses, travel histories, mobile numbers and internet logs."

The article is vague about under which conditions the information can be shared - but if Norway, a relatively sane Nordic country succumbs to this, then you can pretty much assume that CIA can read your email, too - with the blessings of your government. The Swedes already have their own FRA-law, which allows the Swedish military to monitor your emails and surfing habits already. Finland will surely fall flat on their faces as well - except that under the administration, this will surely not be told in public. Perhaps this is the reason why our Minister of Information, Suvi Linden is not so keen to condemn the acts of the Swedish authorities - she is perfectly aware that Finns are doing the exact same thing: listening on their own citizens and selling that information to the US. Would make sense and wouldn't surprise me at all.

This makes me very angry.

(Via Piraattiliitto.)

Tuesday, 16-Sep-08 01:20
IP address switch

The IP address of this server is changed. You might see some oddities because of it, but thanks to the magic which is mod_proxy I don't believe that it should be a problem to most people.

Otherwise, I'm pretty much so jetlagged now that I can barely keep my brain straight... I've got things to blog about, but it's just that they need a bit more than what I can give now.

Damn, microblogging really is making blogging more difficult.

Thursday, 11-Sep-08 18:17
O'Reilly Ignite! in Boston tonight

I'll be popping into the Ignite! event tonight. Ping me if you're coming too, or say hi...

Whee, my first Ignite! Maybe some day I'll dare to speak in one of these :-)

Tuesday, 09-Sep-08 23:54
Blue Fun

I usually like to visit theatre shows whenever I travel. Strange, that, because I usually rarely go to any shows in Helsinki.

Anyhoo, I stumbled upon the Blue Man Group while looking for something to see - and boy, was I not disappointed. I was laughing out loud even before the show had started...

Highly recommended - the videos in the referenced site just don't pay any justice to the experience itself.

Sunday, 07-Sep-08 16:04
Ambient Awareness - or what happens when you no longer are disconnected with anyone?

Clive Thompson's piece about ambient awareness. Well put together.

Sunday, 07-Sep-08 13:39
Finnish rocket launch success!

Congrats to the team!. Now that is rocket science! :-)

(Via.)

Saturday, 06-Sep-08 22:05
Kiitokset bloggaajille

Marikoo ja Visukintun jämät.
(English summary: Had a great bloggers gettogether. Thanks all! Beer, 1.5h of sleep, and flight to Boston.)

Olipa taasen mukava tavata bloggaajia, niin tuttuja kuin tuntemattomia. Sun äitis listaa onnistuneesti paikallaolijat (missä välissä nuo kaikki siellä olivat?), joskin ainakin tapaamani Sudet Tulevat puuttuu joukosta. Poissaolijoista ainakin Lord Boredomia kaipailtiin ääneen.

Erityiskiitokset sille tunnistamattomaksi jääneelle naishenkilölle, joka kanssani hetken aikaa keskusteltuani kysyi: "ai sä oot naimisissa"? Myönnettyäni hän katsoi minua hetken ja sanoi "Sääli." Kovasti kohteliasta ja tuli hyvä mieli. Kiitokset myös herra Vitille neuvoista, ja rva Haltia-Holmbergille hyvästä ja antoisasta keskustelusta.

(Ja huhuista huolimatta en edelleenkään aio järjestää miesbloggaajien "paras perse" -kisaa.)

Puolitoista tuntia unta ja nyt Bostonissa, pää täynnä räkää.

Tuesday, 02-Sep-08 15:37
Security and money

Here's a great quote from Bruce Schneier:

Or take another example: airport security. Assume that all the new airport security measures increase the waiting time at airports by -- and I'm making this up -- 30 minutes per passenger. There were 760 million passenger boardings in the United States in 2007. This means that the extra waiting time at airports has cost us a collective 43,000 years of extra waiting time. Assume a 70-year life expectancy, and the increased waiting time has "killed" 620 people per year -- 930 if you calculate the numbers based on 16 hours of awake time per day. So the question is: If we did away with increased airport security, would the result be more people dead from terrorism or fewer?

As he says, it is very difficult to pin a price on security, or to figure out when you're actually wasting money. And that most of these kinds of "security analyses" are bunk.

Monday, 01-Sep-08 15:14
YTV funnies

Looks like the Helsinki area transport authority (YTV) is already busily upgrading their ticket systems: I've now several times managed to not get my card read, because whenever I flash the card wallet, it just shows the text "*MIFARE*". I need to take the card out of the wallet, and show only that to the reader.

The explanation is that as an old RFID geek I have an Oyster card for London metro (which is a Mifare Classic card), a FeliCa card for Tokyo metro (which is sort similar to Mifare, except it's much more versatile and actually has some non-trivial security), and a bunch of other NFC cards. Previously, this has not been a problem, since they usually all live together nicely (and I like to see when they break), but in this case, it looks like the YTV ticket readers just simply cannot fathom that a person might have some other cards other than the YTV cards.

Since Mifare is a pretty common card (there are what, 500 million of them out there, mostly in public transit and access control - several cities in Finland do use Mifare as well), I would imagine that I'm not the only one who is stymied by the text "*MIFARE*" on the reader. Just putting a Tampere transport card in the same wallet with the Helsinki transport card would do the trick. However, I can at least interpret it - because I happen to have several years of training in the area. I just hope that this is just testing, and that the YTV designers are going to build in a nicer error display in reality. Though, they do not exactly have a great track record in desiging usable interfaces, as all the people who live in the capital area know...

(I will need to check whether this happens for all ISO 14443 cards, though.)

In short: if the reader says "*MIFARE*" to you, just make sure you don't have any other cards nearby. Or your keys, as they might contain Mifare too (heck, I have a wrist watch which contains a Mifare tag...)


Private comments? Drop me an email. Or complain in a nearby pub - that'll help.



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