Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Getting re-booted in the behind
Microsoft Windows has automatically installed a critical update to your computer and has rebooted your system. This update was so important that whatever work you were doing on your machine had to be stopped. We were nice enough to ask you whether you wanted to reboot at 3AM. You were in front of your computer, weren't you? We even gave you a full ten minutes to answer. You should thank us. We own you.
OK, so, the message didn't say precisely that. But, it gets the basic idea right. Apparently, there are a lot of web pages dedicated to turning off this “feature” and its associated nag screen. Is that an idiotic default setting or what?
By the way, for a number of years, Debian and its derived GNU/Linux distributions have been able to update application programs, libraries, servers, etc. on a system (with the exception of the kernel) in-place, with no reboot required. Why is it that I have to reboot a Windows machine once a week?
Monday, November 13, 2006
Geek out! Java GPL'd!
This announcement will have a few consequences for the free software desktop:
- Sun's Java code can now be included in the main branches of Debian and other distributions that will only distribute software for which source code is freely available.
- Such distributions will no longer be required to disable features or rewrite crude hacks in OpenOffice.org and similar programs that required features of Java to be available that were not present in the free software versions.
- The GNU Compiler for Java and GNU Classpath projects won't have to spend time duplicating Sun's efforts. Instead, they can work to integrate the two programs and improve on what both already developed. Sun's version of Java will benefit from increased scrutiny and bug-fixing.
Note: Immediately, only the compiler, virtual machine, and the cross-platform help system are available. Most of the class library will not be released until March. 2007. According to the new OpenJDK front page:
The remainder of the open-source JDK will be available in the first half of 2007. At that time this project will host the source code for the complete JDK except for a few components that Sun does not have the right to publish in source form under the GPL; pre-built binaries will be provided for those components.
Of course, we must hope that the system will compile and run without those “few” components. Whatever they are, they might be targets for GNU Classpath to replace.
Now, if only Adobe would follow their lead and release an open-source Flash... (yes, I know about GNash. It's a promising project, but, it doesn't work with most of the Flash that's on the web today.)
Friday, November 10, 2006
The really important things...
One thing I found interesting is the definition of the sandwich given in the affidavit of Judith A. Quick, former deputy director of the Standards and Labeling Division of the USDA to the court (as quoted in the print edition of the Nov. 10 Globe, but not the online edition):
According to the USDA definition, an ordinary closed sandwich consists of two distinct pieces of bread (or the top and bottom sections of a sliced roll or bun) with some kind of filling that contains meat or poultry. (emph. added)
In that case, what do you call peanut butter and jam? or a Fluffernutter? The USDA labeling policy book is online. It's primarily concerned with which types of meat and poultry are subject to which inspection regulations, so, perhaps the USDA is not the best source of an all-encompassing definition of a "sandwich."
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