Evil Firewall Policy

I couldn't blog this week. This was because one of the sysadmins at the university computer science department blocked the server which hosts my home page. This server hosts thousands of other sites too which are full of warez and some students here regulary download all those shit which causes massive bandwidth consumption which costs a lot of money to the university. I came up with various alternative solutions:

1) Monitor user traffic. If the traffic exceeds a well-chosen limit per user, fall back to a lower bandwidth. The problem is that there are huge pages on the web with full of fancy shit. If someone surfs the web for some hours on these sites, (s)he can easily generate hundreds of megabytes of traffic. There are other downloading activities also which don't incorporate any warez. Moreover there are a bunch of technical difficulties implementing this idea. For example the LDAP server and the firewall don't communicate well with each other.

2) Scan FTP and HTTP URIs for multimedia file suffixes and track them per user. This would require a few dedicated hosts because of the 1 gigabit bandwidth. It's a pretty computationally and I/O intensive task. The other problem is that most warez is compressed in various different formats so the file suffix tells nothing about the content this way.

3) Kick the asses of all the warez folks. This would be the most easier and gratifying job to do. Unfortunately this option depends either on 2) or 3).

I don't know what to do in a situation like this, but this evil policy makes me mad. If nothing's gonna change I'll probably only blog on the weekends which is not that huge tragedy after all.

Homework

I've made a Mono advertisement postscript graphics for my computer graphics course of this semester. Here is how it looks like:

mono-graphics

News

A few developers were talking in the past about reducing the boot time by using parallelized process execution. This is on my current wishlist so it sounds like a beautiful project.

Surfing on Half Megabit

I happily see that the situation is getting better day by day in Hungary regarding internet access. Every provider has raised the bandwith of their customers. I've had 384 kbits/s, now I happily surfing on 512 kbit/s for no additional payment. Every customers' bandwith above 384 kbit/s has been doubled, so the others had even more luck than me. The undesirable side effect of the this change was some hours downtime at my ISP so I couldn't get online last night.

News

If everything is going well, we'll be given a new filesharing protocol. Exeem sounds like a beautiful idea. The lack of centralization and the possibility of unlimited growing sounds like the death of RIAA and all those bastards. I hope the suprnova guys will make something big happen. By the way slyck.com seems to be a good place on file sharing news.

Some good stuff I found from OSNews:

  • Regarding High Level Computing mentions that computing today is a usability disaster. Users think high level while computers force everybody to think low level. Companies care with their own interests rather than serving their customers and really solving their problems. I can only agree.
  • Learning The Basics is yet another interesting article about how lazy we are. In my experience also most people don't or hardly want to learn any new things in their lifes if it's not necessary. This article also mentions that by adding policies that would make computers easier to use, we would loose the control of the finer grained mechanisms by these rigid policies. I was thinking about this subject for a while and I think by defining several layers of abstraction, a set of policy layers, we could make our computers adapt to us. I really think it's a possible thing to do.
  • Usable GUI Design: A Quick Guide for F/OSS Developers is a really, really good article on UI design. It mentions some very basic and powerful guidelines. The links are also great.
  • Smart Package Manager sounds like a long-awaited really intelligent and general solution. My personal wish would be a package manager that could store multiple versions of the same package locally in a way that I could select the version I currently want to use and it would rearrange the relations in the filesystem and its registry in a correct way.
  • Sergey Dmitriev has written an article on language oriented programming. It is a fascinating idea to me. I got some questions answered by this article. I have been asking myself whether there is a better way to develop programs and was thinking about how could it be possible to preserve the sequence of the trasformations when developing programs instead of transforming our thoughts into the final code and finally unable or hardly explain how we got there despite of every comment in the souce. This paradigm can easily be the future, I think.

Nooface looks like an interesting HCI news site.

Karl fisher has written yet another nice GNOME 2.8 article.

Music

I was listening to Digitally Imported. The Vocal Trance and Hard Core channels play some good music sometimes.

Twisted Reality

Sometimes I feel that I live in a strange kind of world. Today I had two such moments.

When I arrived to Szeged to the flat I ate some food and went down to the school. As I stepped out of the building I noticed our neighbour. She is a middle-aged woman. She seems quite sick to me because of her looks. Her voice also sounds pathetic and the way she breaths. It's maybe asthma, I'm not sure. In the moment she went out, she took a cigarette and began smoking. I noticed her red painted nails too. I was thinking about this scene for a while. She's sick, that's apparent to me, yet she doesn't care with her health, she damages herself with this toxin. She even has time to paint his fingers which doesn't make her look any nicer, maybe only in her reality. She can also think that this is the expectation of our culture. Hell knows.

The other time was when I was sitting in the English class an hour ago. There was this girl. She always makes me laugh with her very colorful, crazy clothes. It's hard to me to describe the way she looks but imagine a childish girl in all kinds of very vivid wearings. Orange, Green, Pink, whatever. I almost cracked up in smiling when I saw her star-shaped earrings. Their diameter could be around 5 centimeters and 1 cm thick. They were semi-trasparent. She could even built in them some kind of light source or some radioactive fluid which would make them even more funky.

WordPress

WordPress almost made me mad this time also. I couldn't login because I didn't change that unmemorizable password that I've given during the registration process I suppose, so I almost reinstalled the whole thing. Fortunately I successfully found the cure for my problem just in time.

Blogging Troubles

I couldn't blog in the past few weeks since the sysadmins of this public server were busy with architectural changes which resulted in URL semantic changes and other undesirable kind of changes as well. I couldn't login into WordPress anymore. I didn't investigate the reason behind it cause I hadn't that much time. I've just finished reinstalling and partly reconfiguring WordPress and importing all the blog entries I've made. It's not funny at all, believe me. Next time I'll probably kill them.

Interestingly one can still see the effect of the above mentioned URL changes. The blog URL is pretty messed up. The server replaced the ~laci part with %7Elaci. It's ugly like hell.

I've just visited Alex King's site because of this pretty, clean Simple Blue WordPress theme I'm currently using. This site is a very nice piece of work.

Minimalistic Geeks

There are several types of people in the Free Software Community. One significiant type is the minimalistic geek. The minimalistic geek is... minimalistic. You can easily recoginize him. He lives in a strange kind of world. His universe complies to certain minor rules that he deems to important. Several examples:

"My home page needs to be written in a way that anyone could see it using lynx." Actually one can browse his homepage in lynx, but the HTML is so messed up that with IE, it is not browsable. He doesn't care. Everyone should use a non-IE browser. Well, I neither love MS or its products but 90% of the world still use it. And his homepage is exposed to them (it is not a technical site).

Or here is another one: "C# and Java is evil. I'd use C for everything. It's fast unlike those languages." I argued that C# is garbage collected and he can serialize an obect instantly without writing any code. I want to be more productive so I won't use such lower level tools. He told me that it's not such a big business writing some serialization code for every class, it really isn't. I asked him why should I waste my time writing any bits of code if it's not essentially required. But C# and Java are extremely slow and resource hungry he answered. Well, computers getting faster and VMs getting more optimized every day so why should I suffer using ancient tools? Maybe because my software should run on his Pentium 200.

Summarizing in a few words, these folks live in the past when computing resources were very scarce. They are intimitated by new tools/languages/whatever, especially if those are resource hungry. Most of these people will never make any big things happen because they are so attached to their limiting attitude.

Plone

Plone. This thing is *too* easy to use. Seriously, I installed it in some minutes and I haven't slept enough yesterday so it's hard to me to concentrate. I've already installed Zope some months ago, but that was pretty easy too. When it comes to archiving a Plone site, you can export your folder into a .zexp file and that's it. Damn, I almost couldn't believe how simple it is.

Cool Mono Applications

Two artices about cool Mono applications:

Real Life

Eszter (my sister) and me were running to Szelid. To be honest we were walking most of the time, but who cares? We had a good time. By the way did you know that running decreases the probability of depression three times. I read that some time ago.

(Re)start

Let me write a short introduction for my blog. I started blogging several months ago. I saw as blogging spread over the Net and I thought I have some thoughts to share and it's also a fun activity so I started on Blogger because that was pretty popular. Later I realized how inconvinient was using it, and I've changed to something more usable so here I am.

I'll write about the topics that interest me the most, that are computing, especially free software, the desktop. You can visit my home page for more info about me.

I had a previous post on Firefox which I won't import here. I'll write about it later.

Using WordPress

WordPress seems to be pretty enough to use it. The admin interface is overstyled but the frontend part is now clean enough as I applied the Simple Blue theme. It's a shame that this baby doesn't have any wikiish markup, its parser almost only autoparagraphs HTML.

About Blogger

Blogger was a nightmare. In case somebody doesn't know (I didn't) it's basically a generator. It runs on blogger.com. The user logs in and makes some posts. The posts are stored in blogger.com's database and the users can publish them. In the user preferences one can set his/her (S)FTP account so blogger will be able to write the generated code to that location. Once you wanna publish your post you'll have to wait up to some minutes which is a real pain in the ass. Unfortunately that's the better case. The worse is that you get some inscrutable error messages which truly mean that the server is so messed up that you should wait some days until the problem gets fixed. Blogger has a simple template language too. The only thing that was apparent to me that its UI is very mature and usable which is probably the result of years of development. That's probably why it's so popular.

Home Page Moved to Objectis

I moved my home page from Rustic (pretty hardly usable at this point and completely undocumented) to Plone 2 hosted by objectis.net. Objectis hosts noncommercial Zope, Plone, Plone 2 accounts freely. I almost couldn't believe this can happen. Plone 2 is pretty resource hungry so I was really suprised to see there is some free hosting when I googled for it. This service is great. The admins are very helpful and the servers are *fast*. I hope it'll last forever. I love Plone, especially its wiki-style markup (MediaWiki has better), its OO paradigm and architecture (Python and Zope rocks). Authoring is a magic this way.

Browsing in the Desktop World

I was browsing around the most recent developments in the free desktop world. There are some very exciting things going on. The most remarkable is the Dashboard project and the infrastructure it is based on, most notably Beagle. There is so large space to innovate. Computers throw away so much valuable metadata. I'm really excited about all this stuff. I wanna work on this and use it, but unfortunately I've got some other things to do until that.

Planet Universe

I didn't knew about the Planet universe until this time. This nifty feed aggregator, PlanetPlanet drives dozens of (for the present mostly technical) sites. It's amazing to see me how a single application can change the way information is distributed. I've tried it out myself. The summarized page looks poorer than the posts, because the original subtle formatting gets lost, but it's still very usable anyway. Good stuff.