Friday, 31-Oct-08 19:36
Putting the life on a single piece of paper

Just spent a good hour rewriting my CV. No, I didn't get fired or leave the company - it's just something I was asked to do for a project I undertook recently, and of which you will hear in due time (next spring-ish, is my guess).

Anyhoo, it's always been difficult for me to write a CV. On the other hand, I would very much like to write a small essay of each of the things that I've done, but that is obviously not possible for both size and confidentiality limitations. On the other hand, when you squeeze your CV down to a few lines, it sort of trivializes it all - how do you capture all the trials and challenges onto three lines? How do you explain how pivotal something has been to you, or what are the wonderful things and people you have learned during that time? How do you accurately describe your knowledge and assets?

It's even more difficult because different cultures treat CVs differently. Finns like a short, to the point-style with little ornaments. In some countries, you are supposed to exaggerate your accomplishments, which can sometimes lead to odd situations, when these people take a Finnish CV, and subtract the bullshit they would normally expect from a CV. Essentially, they'll end up with a document which says "Janne knows how to hold a spoon and no longer poops indoors."

But really the most difficult thing is the fact that once you've written it, and it all fit in a single A4, you look at it and remember all the jobs and the people, and you realize that that is all there is.

A single A4.

All your life's accomplishments. All the things you have been. And you can see whether you are going forward or backward, up or down, frying pan to a boiling kettle. It's unavoidably clear.

I don't know what makes me sad about it - the "that's it" -part, or the part that I care.

Which is probably why so many people take such a proud look at their children. You see, they don't fit on a piece of paper. They will write their own, in due time, and, I suppose, that gets added to your own.

(If you're interested, here's my A4(info). I'm not looking for work, but if you've got something really amazing going on, I am willing to listen. And hold a spoon for you.)

Wednesday, 29-Oct-08 16:39
A small plea

... to anyone who develops web applications. Install YSlow. It's the easiest way to figure out why watching mollusks dash a hundred yards is more pleasant than watching your web site load. Every ten minutes with Firebug and YSlow will save a thousand hours of time.

It sometimes seems to me that only a few companies really do care about the performance of their sites, trying to optimize execution speed rather than experience speed - but you can't really keep throwing more hardware at these problems. That is simply not a sustainable solution. But, if you pay someone to optimize your system you save on electricity, hardware, maintenance, and you are giving someone a job.

Thursday, 23-Oct-08 00:02
And I was so smug...

...about not watching a lot of TV. You know, what all self-righteous intellectuals should do: go about dissing TV and being proud of doing something meaningful as opposed to approaching a vegetative state on the couch.

Then three things happened:

  1. I installed the UK Auto Scheduler to my Topfield. And suddenly I could tape whatever I wanted without worrying about it changing air times.
  2. I ordered MTV3 Scifi, and realized that it's airing all episodes of Dr Who, Deep Space Nine and Voyager, the first one I had never seen and the rest I had mostly missed when they were first aired (Yes, the sad truth that I missed the last three seasons of DS9 completely. And people thought I was a Star Trek geek...)
  3. I got hooked to TVKaista, an online PVR system which records everything. Then you just go back and watch whatever you missed. A simply brilliant service, which unfortunately wastes quite a lot of resources (According to the copyright law, these guys must buy a separate box for every subscriber. Which is just dumb waste, environmentally and otherwise, especially since the money goes to hard drive vendors; not the authors of the content. I hope they get this one resolved soon so that they can use less resources and pay some of the saved money to the content authors.)

So now you know why I haven't been blogging. I'm totally immersed in passive media consumption - just simply because it is content that I want, whenever I want it. The freedom of not being tied to air schedules has completely changed my habits, and while I don't know how long this will last, it's just... pretty overwhelming.

Frankly, I don't even feel the urge to go and download anything off the internets anymore either. There's only so much time I can dedicate to watching television, and for my "yo box, entertain me for I am too tired to think!" -needs this all is more than enough.

There's a lot of power in traditional broadcasting still. They just need to adapt to the Internet distribution and content consuming models, and they'll be just fine.

Monday, 20-Oct-08 23:17
JSPWiki 2.8.0 released!

I am happy to be able to announce the first release of an Apache-licensed version of JSPWiki (though it is not yet an official Apache release; not even a podling release. That work starts now.)

It is available from the usual location at http://www.jspwiki.org/wiki/JSPWikiDownload

The cool new stuff is described here:

http://www.jspwiki.org/wiki/NewIn2.8

Personally, I'm pretty happy about getting this release out. There's been a lot of good work done by all contributors. It's probably the best release yet. If you want to test it out, try http://sandbox.jspwiki.org for a live installation which gets wiped out every day.

I have to admit that I'm pretty much on the same track as Linus on cutting releases: It's pretty much anti-climactic. Every release is preceded by a long lull during which everybody holds their breath as if not to accidentally break everything. And a new release appears as if out of boredom of nothing really happening, so therefore the thing must be stable.

This is a bit different from commercial software entities, which run around in great big loops and have lots of handwaving right before the software ships. I guess that's the difference between shipping "when it's ready" and "when we promised".

Friday, 17-Oct-08 11:31
It's the difference, stupid!

There have been recently some complaints about companies like Canonical (who make Ubuntu) or ~CentOS not contributing back to the upstream projects (like the Linux kernel, etc). I don't think it matters at all, simply because of two reasons:

It's probably fine as it is

Ubuntu mostly seems to concentrate on the user layer. Perhaps they are happy with the Linux core components as they are, and just simply don't need tweak the kernel at every occasion. And this goes with every single use of the OSS project - if you're happy with it, don't feel obligated to contribute back.

But if you do tweak the project, then there's a very important thing you must remember:

Deviation From The Trunk Is Expensive.

The further you deviate from the upstream trunk, the more it's going to cost you. You can maintain a small set of patches, but every single new revision of the underlying trunk is going to create you more headaches. There is a strong financial incentive to contribute back to the upstream, unless the changes you made are your own, critical business differentiators, in which case it is worth for you to pay the money, because that is why the customers are choosing your system.

Also, from my own personal experience as an OSS project lead, I have to admit that companies who do contribute back to the development have a whole lot more say as to where the project goes. We've had a few companies who've branched off our system, and then come back with suggestions how we could serve their particular problem. Typically, we tell them to make the changes and then contribute them as patches, and we'll happily take them in the trunk. They almost never do this, though some people do and it's really great. The end result is that these companies are then stuck with same age-old version of the system, and are unable to get the latest advances (including really useful stuff like security fixes), driven by some other companies, because it would be too cost-prohibitive for them to switch to the latest trunk.

The fun thing is that if you don't contribute in a quick manner, it's possible that the trunk has already changed so much that any contributions you send back are essentially worthless. So it is in your best interest to keep very close to the trunk, if you do build your version of the code.

I think this is just plain common sense, and one of the reasons why open source works: over the years, people have expressed concerns that someone could just take your code and make loads of money with it, if you give your source code for free. But because that won't stop the original development, you either need to choose to play ball with the trunk maintainers, or be prepared to use the money to essentially maintain your own version of the project. Which can be about as expensive as writing the whole thing on your own in the first place. So many companies choose to contribute back, because then the maintenance won't be their responsibility.

Open Source has these interesting built-in financial incentives, which transcend philosophical arguments about sharing and freedom and openness. Which is why open source makes so much sense as a perfectly viable model for any incremental development.

Monday, 13-Oct-08 17:17
Scandic is sustainable through... bottled water?

As you all know, bottled water is in the Nordic countries one of the worst offenders when it comes to environmental sustainability - and it ain't too far from the top from most other countries either. Our tap water is better than the bottled stuff.

Therefore it makes only sense that Scandic Hotels should start supporting sustainability by... getting an Olympic swimmer to create special water bottles? Well, at least they say that they will be filling them locally - and if they can recycle the bottles too, then it's way better than the current situation.

But still, this is quite an odd way to fight the climate change. I can only imagine how much damage to the environment the manufacture and disposal of a single bottle will be...

"10 euro cent per water bottle. This will be the foundation for Scandic Sustainability Fund, a newly established fund aimed at supporting initiatives which in various ways actively contribute to a more sustainable society. Scandic has earlier taken the decision to reduce fossil carbon dioxide emissions by removing all bottled mineral water from its hotels. Up to now, the hotel chain has sold a couple of million 33 cl bottles of mineral water a year. Instead, from this autumn Scandic will be filling and selling its own specially designed bottles of filtered and chilled water, still and sparkling."

(How about just letting people run their own water from the hotel tap? That's what I usually do if I travel - I fill up my bottles and let them cool during the night. Bottles get reused, though unfortunately they don't survive security checks these days. I probably need to buy myself a proper canteen for traveling; something that can travel in the checked luggage. Here's a business idea: someone start selling eco-themed canteens, please? You could ride on the anti-bottled water wave, and I would buy one right away. It needs to look cool, and be durable and easily portable. And expensive enough so that you don't just throw it away.)

Friday, 03-Oct-08 10:32
Oh please

My foreign readers might not have heard about this, but a Lappish newspaper, Lapin Kansa, fired their editor-in-chief for being gay. Needless to say, this has created an uproar, including Facebook groups calling for boycott on the Alma Media group, owner of the newspaper, who allegedly offered 100,000 euros to the person in question to keep their mouth shut and just resign. Alma Media is a large media corporation in Finland, with a number of local newspapers and internet services. By the way, if you have your blog on Vuodatus.net, you are using Alma Media's blogging platform.

Anyhoo, normally this is one person's word against someone else's - but frankly, all the discussion around this is really clearly showing that not all is well in the State of Lapland. To quote the vicar of Simo (translation mine):

Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) does not get praise from the Laestadians. It claimed that Lapland is in the "heart of darkness", since gay and lesbian relationships are not approved.

"This was an outrageous attack against the majority. There are not many gays and lesbians, and now they control the entire media. YLE is harnessed to run the lesbo agenda", Lohi fumes.

"Not many"? Lohi himself says that there are about 5000 old-skool Laestadians (a local fundamentalist Christian branch) in Lapland, and maybe 5000 more. Lapland has about 180,000 inhabitants, so that's approximately 5% of population. If you scale this up to entire country, you find maybe 100,000 Laestadians total, for a measly 2% of the population.

Now, it is hard to say exactly how much of the population is homosexual, but different estimates give it between 2-7%. I have even heard the number 10% being thrown around. At any rate, the gay population is actually as large as the Laestadians - probably even bigger. And based on my grantedly limited sample of both, I will much rather carry the flag of the lesbian agenda than these narrow-minded fundamentalist Christian bigots.

Personally I believe this was all about money. These fundamentalists might've stopped ordering the newspaper, if the editor had been gay. Alma Media blundered, and didn't realize that before they hired here. The company did not want to face that potential loss, so they hashed out a "cunning plan", which boiled over when their opponent chose not to play ball. They probably also calculated that any boycott on the gay-agenda-toting-people is less damage than damage from the fundamentalists' boycott, and that the publicity is always good anyway.

Our society is in a phase where money trumps ethic issues. This isn't necessarily bad, mind you, even though it sounds horrible. Because of that, consumers do have power to choose which ethics they want the society turn to, and vote with their wallets - both positively (like Carrot Mobs) and negatively (boycotts). The bad thing obviously is that those who have the money, get to choose the ethics, too, which makes this an unstable system: there are few corrective mechanisms to keep the situation balanced.

Wednesday, 01-Oct-08 18:12
Ombudsman calls for chat room censorship

From Helsingin Sanomat: "Ombudsman Johanna Suurpää says that if administrators and chat room moderators don't voluntarily step in to curb inappropriate discussions, then the law should be changed to require them to do so ... "Even though the Internet could never be fully controlled, this is not enough of a reason to do nothing," she days."

...right. Where do these people come from?

Don't they realize that what is already illegal in the regular public place is illegal on the internet as well? Certain kinds of verbal abuse (like libel) should just simply be reported to the police and let them deal with it. The law is there, and it is same for everyone. Heck, we pay an inordinate amount of taxes so that we don't even have to pay the police to do their job!

However, when private corporations are forced to decide what is "acceptable speech", we're going down the slippery slope and fast. Freedom means that every single site must have the ability to decide on their own what kind of discussions they tolerate. If you don't like their policy, you can go elsewhere. If someone goes over the line, you talk first to the admins, and if they don't do anything, you can always go to the police.

Now, I don't mind the law saying that "complaints from the users must be taken seriously". That highlights the responsibility of the maintainers, and should probably make them think a bit. But if the law says that all the maintainers need to proactively start censoring discussion based on their interpretation of the law - then we're no longer in a free country. Especially since there is no longer a clear line between public and private on the internet: if something is visible to only your friends, is it a public discussion? Can the moderators step in and censor things then? What if you have a hundred friends? Ten? One?

The only way a moderator can be sure that nothing illegal is going on in his system is to read all the private messages as well. This includes person-to-person messages; personal emails; everything. There would be no more online privacy, but your innermost thoughts would be read and evaluated for "appropriateness" by a stranger with no or little training, and small pay.

And that is simply too high a price to pay for a bit of temporary peace of mind.

In a free country, punishment follows crime. Let's keep it that way.


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



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