Thursday, 31-Mar-05 22:53
Dan misses, Aditya saves!

Aditya Dev Sood will be speaking at an Aula klubi event in Helsinki entitled 'Used in India' on April 12th, 2005 at 6.00 pm at Korjaamo. Aditya is director of the Center for Knowledge Societies, a research and design practice based in Bangalore and New Delhi. The event is free and open to the public.

Aditya replaces the original appearance by Dan Gillmor. He may not be as famous, but he certainly knows a lot about mobile technology, culture, and people in an environment you have not probably previously experienced. Plus that he's a really cool guy.

(Via Marko. Read his entry for a more thorough explanation.)

Thursday, 31-Mar-05 14:12
Use your Mac as a game controller

New Powerbooks have an acceleration sensor to park the hard drive in case you drop the laptop. Amit Singh has figured out a way to use this as an interface device. Check out the cool videos of him playing games with it!

I would love to be able to switch a song in iTunes just by tapping my laptop...

Thursday, 31-Mar-05 13:50
Finnish bloggers awarded

From Yle 24:

Prestigious state awards for disseminating information went this year to eight persons or groups. Among the recipients was an diving instructors' Internet site. After the tsunami hit in December, they published badly-needed information about Finns caught up in the disaster.

The award went to sukellus.fi, with Alex Nieminen, Petri Ahoniemi, Janne Miikkulainen, Matti Anttila, Sami Köykkä, Mimmu Pekkanen, and Kalle Valkama for "fast and professional internet information dissemination during a crisis".

(A timeline of the events in English can be found here.)

Congrats to all! Good work, and rightfully awarded!

Tuesday, 29-Mar-05 09:50
Well, if you don't like my beliefs, I can sue you

Florida is set out to squash "leftist totalitarianism" by introducing a bill that allows students to sue professors in universities for "not respecting the beliefs of the students".

To quote:

According to a legislative staff analysis of the bill, the law would give students who think their beliefs are not being respected legal standing to sue professors and universities.

Students who believe their professor is singling them out for “public ridicule” – for instance, when professors use the Socratic method to force students to explain their theories in class – would also be given the right to sue.

"Some professors say, 'Evolution is a fact. I don’t want to hear about Intelligent Design (a creationist theory), and if you don’t like it, there's the door,'" Baxley said, citing one example when he thought a student should sue.

Rep. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, warned of lawsuits from students enrolled in Holocaust history courses who believe the Holocaust never happened.

Similar suits could be filed by students who don’t believe astronauts landed on the moon, who believe teaching birth control is a sin or even by Shands medical students who refuse to perform blood transfusions and believe prayer is the only way to heal the body, Gelber added.

Hooray. We know all what happened in Russia when ideology became more important than facts... And what will happen when lawyers start running the universities? Not that they do already, but at the moment they've not been messing with curriculums.

Here's a direct link to the bill text. The bill is quite interesting, as it really does not sound very bad. In fact, principles and ideas embodied in it do sound very grand and liberal! However, what it really says is that students have a right to hear what they want, and should someone infringe on that, they could be sued. Since the bill does not define what is "controversial material", or "serious scholarly viewpoints", it becomes very difficult to determine what has to be included in the curriculum and what not - simply because seriousness and controversy are based on personal opinions.

Monday, 28-Mar-05 22:13
Finnish blog awards nominees published

Blogger is throwing a tantrum, so I'll have to announce this here: The nominees for the Finnish weblog awards for 2004 are up. Congrats to everyone, the jury will now commence work. The date and location for the gala will be announced once I have recovered from my two weeks of incessant traveling...

(224 voters, 2301 votes cast.)

Friday, 25-Mar-05 23:47
foreach $i in $swearwords; do echo $i; done

I wrote a lengthy entry about India and how some things are more uncomfortable than others, but this stinking camel turd of a computer that I wouldn't give to a donkey to masturbate on, decided to fall asleep on its own, crash, and take my entire composition to bit heaven. Yeah, it's running Windows. No, I don't maintain it myself. Yes, it's corporate stuff. No, I didn't bring my Mac.

*sigh*

What I was about to say, was that the strangest things about India are not the beggars, nor the poverty, nor the cows standing in the middle of expressways, nor the camel turds, nor rickshaw-racing (which is cool but scary), nor the touts, nor the constant bargaining, but the simple questions like "When you would like to have tea in the bed tomorrow?"

I am not used to being served. I find it really strange, if someone else carries my bag; I find it difficult not to help clean the table after a meal, and I find it almost offensive when someone exists for the purpose of pushing the elevator button for me. (Then again, living in Finland, I'm used to waiters being smug, if not downright insulting.)

We managed to spend a night at a British villa outside Delhi (Flash & giggling Finns warning). You know the drill: come in, someone brings you soda and lime, you kick off your shoes, go for a swim, a stroll in the countryside, someone brings you five o'clock tea, you chat nonchalantly over deep issues over a gin&tonic, then the supper is served, you retire and someone asks you the question: "Would you like to have tea in the bed in the morning, sir?"

You know. Everyday stuff.

The really, really scary thing is that how easy it is to get used to this colonial era high-class/low-class attitude. I feel... Ashamed? Guilty? Dirty? It's as if I was enjoying a forbidden fruit; that I was not allowed to be in this superior position. People were giving me attention that was completely unwarranted, not on the account of who I was, but what I was perceived to be representing.

But it felt damned good. Very, very easy to slip into. Probably very, very hard to get out of.

Like a mousetrap.

Holi festival tomorrow. Will be interesting.

Monday, 21-Mar-05 22:46
Want an air-powered bicycle?

Matt mentioned this to me, and I thought he was kidding, but yes, iFabricate does exist.

Heh.

I see at least one lawsuit coming up, with people who injured themselves with the instructions. But still, this has potential to become a good resource. As long as it sticks to even remotely useful stuff...

Peer-based creation cool.

Sunday, 20-Mar-05 20:58
Delhi

Returned home, spent the evening putting together a sofa and a small shelf, and woke up at 5.30 am to catch the early flight to Delhi, India to attend the Doors 8 conference.

Egh.

India is... overwhelming. And I haven't been to anywhere yet. From the touts at the airport who say anything ("no sir, only one person is allowed in a taxi!") to the rickshaws to the girl that tried to run under a taxi to the empt vastness that is New Delhi to the overkill service at the hotel... Well, ever heard of a Finn say "service was too good"? Now you have. It just passes my comfortness level - the amount attention feels like someone knocked you out with a soft pillow and did a manicure to you while you were still dazed.

Obviously, I'm just seeing one part of Delhi, the one that's from the time of the British colonialism. The rest is out there, just beyond the horizon. I'll get there, eventually.

The conference is pretty interesting. The people here seem to be a relaxed, interesting mix of individuals with life experiences from almost all corners of life. For example: I talked to someone who actually used to be in the "selling women's used knickers to men" -business. (A rather profitable, yet dull industry. No growth opportunities.) I also see now why India is a good place for holding a conference such as this: the problems that people of a country this size and wealth face are quite different from the Western lifestyle, but yet there is infrastructure and stability and will to make things better. There's a whole range of problems, ranging from education of basic hygiene to revving up an entire IT industry - and they're trying to do it all at the same time.

(Heard an interesting statistic: local women don't live to be much older than men on the average. That's because they are allowed to starve. Even when breastfeeding.

Ya. Sense kicked into me. Probably good.)

Saturday, 19-Mar-05 01:05
Kuukkelikisaa...

Niin, siis jos joku ei vielä jo huomannut, Kultainen Kuukkeli -kisa on jälleen täällä. Kultaiset kuukkelit jaetaan joka vuosi monelle suomalaisille ansioituneille bloggaajille ja/tai blogeille. Kuten viimekin vuonna, suuri yleisö äänestää viisi ehdokasta jokaiseen kategoriaan, joista raati sitten valitsee kermat päältä. Äänestysaikaa on vielä reilu viikko, joten kilvan ehdottamaan omia ehdokkaita!

Kuukkeleilla on tänä vuonna myös ihan oikea kuukkeliblogi, jota voi seurata blogilista.fi:n kautta tai vaikkapa suoraan viimeistä teknologiaa käyttäen bloglines.com:in kautta.

(In English: The Finnish blog awards are on again.)

Wednesday, 16-Mar-05 14:41
Up and "running"

New York is one of the few places of the world, where you can glance out of your 17th floor window, and see, well, pretty much nothing. People say Tokyo is crowded, but due to earthquakes they don't build the high-rise towers as close to each other as over here, and therefore it feels more spacious. "Urban canyon", indeed.

Had a massive cramp during the night in my right thigh (made me wake up and scream) and now I hobble around like I had a wooden leg. It tends to happen when I get dehydrated or cold (or both), and is one of the reasons I don't dare to dive, even if I really wanted to: using flippers for more than a minute is a sure way to get the cramp going.

Wednesday, 16-Mar-05 05:58
New York, New York

Jetlag, jetlag.

Taxis, taxis.

Free Wifi, free Wifi.

Here until Thursday, then back, and then to India, where, to quote Matt, "I hopefully get some sense kicked back into me".

Monday, 14-Mar-05 20:31
Forensic analysis

Well, most of the stuff is up and running (apart from all mailing lists). The Finnish blog awards are now back up and running, and even my normal email works now!

Here's a quick rundown on what happened:

  • On Saturday, at about 23:25 person A using a machine from Brazil executed a series of commands using an awstats vulnerability (yes, we had it patched to the latest stable; no, apparently it was not enough).
  • He was quiet for about 20 minutes, but at about 23:35 two other attackers B and C (or the same) from Italy and UK almost simultaneously launched a similar attack on the server.
  • Person B was able to run "adduser" at 23:45 and add himself an account, logging in and promply downloading a rootkit which allowed him to have root privileges
  • Person B then attempted to deface the site, but failed (thanks to the pretty hairy configuration we have over here)
  • Person A returned at this point, and tried to execute a new attack, suggesting that he was not able to gain access before
  • Person B ran "rm -rf /" on the server, starting to delete everything at about 23:55, presumably to cover his traces. Our logs end at 0:06, when the final daemons failed.
  • I received first warning at 0:15. Luckily memory-resident processes kept running for some time, so I was able to inspect the situation and the machine was physically disconnected at about 1 am.

Sunday was mostly used to reinstall a completely new system and do a forensics analysis on the deleted partitions. Sleuthkit turned to be invaluable in reconstructing the deleted local log files (so yes, we have the exact times, methods, and IP addresses). Yes, it works on ext3 as well.

I have backed up most of the necessary stuff daily, so there is little that was lost permanently. Unfortunately I had not stored all the necessary config files, which is why system recovery took longer than expected. Also, due to an oversight none of the mailing lists were backed up, so once we have them established again, ya'll have to resubscribe. Very sorry about that :-/

Sunday, 13-Mar-05 23:40
Nightmare

Last night, right before midnight some smartass broke into my computer and decided to remove all traces of his visit by deleting everything. And I mean everything.

We decided to upgrade the hardware from a 266 MHz PII to a dual-Athlon-1.3 GHz while we were at it, changed the server operating system and are trying to restore the data. Unfortunately, some key config files seem to be missing, so it'll take a while. Apache+Tomcat is a very nasty combination at times.

It's not yet known how the guy got into the system.

If you need to email me, please use my GMail address jalkanen@gmail.com, as I cannot yet rely on my regular email system. Thank you.

(Kuukkelikisa on toistaiseksi jäissä. Tämänvuotiset kategoriat ovat alla, jotta voitte miettiä omia ehdokkaitanne:

  • Paras blogi
  • Paras uusi blogi
  • Paras päiväkirja
  • Paras erikoisalablogi
  • Paras kolumni
  • Paras viilaus
  • Paras vähän tunnettu blogi
  • Paras tagline
  • Paras merkintä
  • Humoristisin blogi)

Thursday, 10-Mar-05 15:49
Global Voices Infrastructure of Democracy

I've written about these guys before, but I haven't made my mind up yet: are these people just self-absorbed do-gooders who speak beautiful words and nod their heads in unison, or are they actually going to make a serious impact. At least they have a bunch of good people there. I just hope governments are listening.

Anyway, there's now a conference going on (with David Weinberger providing blog coverage) in Madrid (titled "Madrid conference on democracy, security and terrorism"), and they are drafting the first "Infrastructures of Democracy" -paper on the Global Voices Wiki.

Thursday, 10-Mar-05 09:26
Dan Gillmor in Finland

For anyone who's been following the late journalism-debate, the Man Himself, i.e. Dan Gillmor is coming to Finland. Please join him in an open session at Korjaamo, Helsinki, Tuesday, 12 April at 18:00. I'll certainly try to be there.

Ja sama suomeksi: Dan Gillmor, toimittaja-bloggaaja, joka on puhunut pitkään kansalaisjournalismin puolesta, on tulossa puhumaan avoimeen keskustelutilaisuuteen Helsingissä, Korjaamolla, tiistaina 12. huhtikuuta kello 18.00. Tervetuloa!

(Via Jyri.)

[Dan Gillmor on peruttu, mutta hänen paikallaan esiintyy Aditya dev Sood. Kannattaa kuunnella myös tätä miestä...]

Wednesday, 09-Mar-05 14:21
EU Software Patent Bribe Pledge Drive
Why are software patents a bad thing? Imagine if you were a musician, composing a symphony. If there were "music patents" in the same way there are software patents, you might get sued for using a trombone to play a solo in the middle of your symphony, because some corporation has patented the method of using trombones in solos. This is, of course, absurd.

Implementations (i.e. a particular arrangement of notes or a piece of software code) are already protected by copyright. Software patents have the same impact on software as the ability to patent using a trombone to play a solo would have on music.

The particular problem with software patents as opposed to patents on machines is that computer software is always an abstract notion, an idea, if you will. While the patent law states that ideas as such are unpatentable, the SW patent law in practice allows this.

After last week's events, where the European Council caused a major blow to the democracy in the EU, and just walked over the European Parliament and its own judicial processes by accepting the Directive for Software patents, some enterprising individuals have set up an European Anti-Software Patent Bribe Pledge Drive. It consists of a group of individuals who are tired at the lobbying of the big corporations, and attempts to collect money to simply bribe the European Council Presidency (held by Luxembourg) to rejecting the Directive Proposal.

I guess the idea is fair - after all, the big companies are pouring money into the lobbying as well - but bribing a politician is not exactly legal, nor is encouraging someone to bribe one. Blatantly stating that one is collecting money to bribe a country is a good example of "attention journalism", but I doubt that it is really going to change anything. The proper use of that money would be to hire lawyers and individuals with a slick tongue and a soft touch to go into the halls of the EU to lobby really hard. Which can be achieved by supporting organizations such as FFII and EFFi.

However, should the directive pass, not all is lost for Open Source. While big corporations will hastily go and patent everything under the Sun to protect themselves, small companies that do not have the money or the skills to patent their innovation will have to turn elsewhere for protection: A patent needs to be, above all, three things: it has to be 1) non-obvious (though the USPTO has pretty much thrown this one away), 2) innovative, 3) and new (i.e. non-published). Publishing your innovation as Open Source essentially makes it impossible for anyone else to patent the same invention - therefore protecting your corporation.

Unfortunately, this does not prevent anyone from suing your company. However, participating in an Open Source project means that other corporations are likely to be using that innovation as well, therefore increasing the number of people who have a vested interest in participating in the battle - on your side.

It has to be understood that most of the SW patents in the USA are defensive in nature, much like nuclear weapons during the Cold War. There would be little incentive to attack an Open Source Project, as OSS in general is very benign and not likely to attack anyone. In fact, the corporations who should fear the impact of SW patents on OSS are the same big corporations that are using or planning to use OSS components: they are regularly subjected to big law suits where no ammunition is spared - including SW patent breaches.

This Directive seems very much like a Microsoft-directive: after all, it is one of the few companies in the world that are not using OSS components anywhere, but building everything in-house or subcontracting. Even Nokia has some Linux-based systems on the market. Should Microsoft (or someone else, much like the ill-fated SCO) attempt to attack Linux on the IPR front, many, many corporations would be unhappy.

Regardless of the potential good effects, the EU Software Patents directive will undermine European competitiveness in the software market, by simply increasing the required spending on IPR. This is detrimental to smaller companies, but naturally it's something that suits the bigger players - which are mostly American - just fine.

(Tämä keskustelu net.nytin keskustelupalstalla antaa ymmärtää, että suomalaiset eurokansanedustajat Seppänen ja Stubb ovat sitä mieltä, että asia ei mene läpi parlamentissa.)

Update: "The European Parliament (EP) and the Danish parliament are investigating whether the EU Council broke procedural rules by adopting the draft directive on software patents in the face of opposition from ministers." Good.

Tuesday, 08-Mar-05 11:23
Finnish police admits mistake

Jani of Marginaali has received a response from the Finnish Deputy National Police Commissioner (i.e. the Chief of Police Force) via Enterblogi. The police admits that a single officer had no right to order a web page to be censored, even if a possible crime had occurred, and that "the law regarding the freedom of speech and mass media is not known well enough among the police."

While it is worrying that the police do not seem to know the law, it's very positive that mistakes are acknowledged and hopefully learned from. A memo has been sent to the Oulu Provincial Police Command, and it's likely that the state provincial office will also need to address the issue due to an official complaint from Jani.

This is not the first case, nor will it be the last. In fact, my guess is that we'll see at least another attack like this against online personal publishing. Granted, there are some blogs which probably deserve it, but as this is arguably a new domain of publishing, the legislation will have to be tested in the blogosphere as well. And as such, I welcome it, as it clears the rules and the playing field. I just hope nobody would need to suffer for it...

Jani has been called in for questioning by the local police on the matter for next Friday. This will be interesting...

(Read the previous part of the story.)

Monday, 07-Mar-05 13:50
Only professionals can speak?

In a series of bizarre events, Apple has sued a bunch of bloggers for releasing information about their upcoming products. The thing is, a journalist is protected by the law, so that they don't have to reveal their sources, but Apple has managed to convince a judge that a blogger is not a journalist, and therefore must reveal their sources.

Dan Gillmor writes about this in depth, being a blogger and a professional journalist. He has some quite excellent points, I recommend that you read it. An interesting piece of information is also this article from CNET that suggests that in the future, blogging and other form of citizenship journalism might be subject to FCE regulation in the U.S., due to the fact that linking to a political campaign might be considered official support, and therefore subject to the same regulations as all monetary support.

I think this discussion will happen also in Finland in the near future. An unregulated internet where anyone can say anything they like is a horror to anyone in power. It's quite likely that also over here there will eventually be attempts to limit freedom of speech online - our very own Minister of Culture, Ms. Karpela, is already trying to circumvent the relevant laws to make sure that "filth" (as defined by your average geek writing a crappy program, owned by a corporation with commercial interests, and supervised by your average alarmist Christian) would be censored from the Internet.

All this talk about censorship and regulation makes my head ache. It won't work - get over it already. Embrace the change: the winners will be found in the crowd that accepts this first.

The alternate is that only professional, accredited writers have a freedom to speak.

Update: The FEC article has been shot down by representatives of FEC. And a good thing, too. I guess it shows that politicians will have to be even more careful about what they say, lest the blogger horde misinterpret them. However, I think in general it's good to have public review of important decisions - blogs have a way of turning legalese into something human-readable. Perhaps it is not always right yet, but it's getting more so.

Update2: Blogger Garrett M. Graff has been admitted into a White House news briefing, says CNN. Just as an interesting data point...

Update3: Kari Haakana has asked the Finnish Journalist Union, and got a response confirming that in Finland the right not to reveal your sources extends to any kind of online publishing, including bloggers.

Thursday, 03-Mar-05 00:54
The Ten Year Meme

Ten years ago I was mostly not studying very hard at the Helsinki University of Technology. On a whim I decided to apply for a scholarship to CERN, and got granted one! So I spent a warm summer in Geneva, learning once and for all that education does not a smart person make, nor do brains make them nice. My mother turned 50, and I spent the party glued to a coin telephone in the empty main hall of CERN.

Five years ago I snuffed my academic career, having gotten tired of the university world, and switched my career plans from PhD to Java Consultant. This job took me later that year to Melbourne, Australia - a place which I still remember fondly as one of the great times of my life. The industry was in a slump, so I didn't have that many paying jobs, and ended up hanging around in the office most of the time. But it still was great.

Three years ago I had returned from Australia, switched jobs again (to my present position), separated from my girlfriend, and bought a new apartment. My career seemed to be going up, and I was really developing at go. But I had heard of this cool stuff called Wikis and weblogs, and I had started publishing with my own wiki engine...

One year ago I was busily arranging the Finnish Blog Awards, bringing me questionable fame, and dating someone who taught me a lot. I've not regretted it since, and I'm still proud to call her a friend. Also I had not released JSPWiki 2.2, despite many promises. My go career also went to a slump I haven't been able to recover from.

This year I have been working hard, as usual. I've lost a friend, but gained a room mate (and about ten cubic metres of stuff).

Yesterday I got commended for my work. It was satisfying to see others liking our work so much, they wanted to present it onwards. In the evening, I fully demonstrated that I don't know Jack Schitt in a pub quiz.

Today I stroke gently the forehead of the cooling body of my grandmother, as she passed away literally five minutes before I got to the hospital.

Tomorrow I will wake up tired, and spend the day in meetings, traveling back and forth, and feeling even more tired.

(From D/k.)

Tuesday, 01-Mar-05 01:02
I speek gud Engleesh -test

English Genius

You scored 93% Beginner, 86% Intermediate, 93% Advanced, and 83% Expert!

You did so extremely well, even I can't find a word to describe your excellence! You have the uncommon intelligence necessary to understand things that most people don't. You have an extensive vocabulary, and you're not afraid to use it properly! Way to go!

The Commonly Confused Words Test.

Not bad, considering I only did four years of English in school... Must be all the sci-fi literature consumed at an early age. Yeah, that's gotta be it. Um. Pancakes, anyone? Gonna have a bunch of shots the first thing tomorrow morning (at least tetanus&polio), then have five meetings in eight-and-a-half hours, including one in which I'm supposed to present something I completely forgot until today. All I now need is a good hangover, and the day would be pretty much perfect.

(Via Jani.)


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



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