circle.ch weblog by Urs Gehrig

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A weblog about libre software, law, technology, politics and the like.
2014-03-28T21:33:33
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24. July 2003

RSS Reader Plugin for jEdit
@ 09:07:37

This plugin [1] allows you to view the content of any RSS or RDF XML data feed on the net within jEdit. A list on many other aggregators is hosted at hebig.org [2].

[1] http://flagrantdisregard.com/headline/
[2] http://www.hebig.org/blogs/archives/main/000877.php

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23. July 2003

GPRS upload transmission performance
@ 14:31:00

Roger and myself were discussing differences in the transmission rate using General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) [1]. While my Ericsson T68 takes about one minute to upload an image of the size 320x240 - approx. 15kB to 20kB - Roger only had a bit more than a minute with an image sized 640x480 at about 50kB to 60kB [2]. Roger uses a Nokia 3650. So based on those values I reflected on the reasons for tha latency of my phone. An image at the size of 50kB lasts about four minutes to upload with my current setup. So, what are the reasons for such enormous differencies?

a) The Phones (Ericsson, Nokia, Motorola etc. )
b) The Transmission Standard (GPRS, HSCSD etc. )
c) The Telcos (Swisscom, Sunrise, Orange et.al. )

Roger does not have the same Telco as I have; so my first thought was, that it is simply a question of the provider. Your experiences, facts and comments on that topic are kindly welcome.

[1] http://www.cs.hut.fi/~hhk/GPRS/gprs_index.html
[2] http://blog.bitflux.ch/p1182.html

Update:
Chregu pointed me to a posting [3] where it is stated, that the down- and upload performance actually depends on the phone. That is still not satisfactory since the weak upload rate is at about 12 kbps (about 1.5kB/s ) which is still five times higher than the rate the T68 reaches (20kB/60s is approx. 0.33kB/s). Maybe it is too hot for maths these days.

Furthermore attached images will be usually encoded by base64 and therefore increase the size by about 30%; this of course for both the phones.

[3] http: //groups.google.ch/groups?q=max+kb/s+gprs

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21. July 2003

Learning Salsa
@ 23:31:22

Coming back from the first lesson of the Salsa Course [1]. Will definite attend the next lessons too. I had some lessons about three years ago but did not have practice it inbetween, so hopefully this restart will change that.

[1] http://www.bernhardseefeld.ch/archives/000031.html

QR Code for your mobile phone.
Related post(s):
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18. July 2003

Parsing for trusted FOAFs
@ 13:10:41

Having set up a new category "Crosspost", I will - after having come back from the Gurten Festival [1] - try to implement a parser to let chregu [2] crosspost to my blog.

[1] http://www.gurtenfestival.ch
[2] http://xml.mfd-consult.dk/foaf/explorer/?foaf=http://circle.ch/blog/foaf.rdf

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Online Social Software Methodology
@ 11:23:05

Lee Bryant [1] has written an introduction to online social software methodology. It was absolutely worth reading and supported myself in many of my ideas. His votes for smaller, modular software with common methods and properties; keeping it simple so that people use it.

Jennifer Golbeck [2] et. al. [3] have written a paper on "Trust networks on the Semantic Web" which affiliates seamingless to the above thoughts. Eric Vitiello Jr. [4,5] describes "A module for defining trust relationships in FOAF":
<rdf:RDF
xmlns:rdf="http://www.w3.org/1999/02/22-rdf-syntax-ns#"
xmlns:rdfs="http://www.w3.org/2000/01/rdf-schema#"
xmlns:foaf="http://xmlns.com/foaf/0.1/"
xmlns:trust="http://www.perceive.net/schemas/20020725/trust#">

<foaf:Person>
<foaf:nick>pixel</foaf:nick>

<trust:trustsHighly>
<foaf:Person rdf:about="#John">

<rdfs:subject rdf:resource="http://dmoz.org/Computers/Programming/Languages/Perl/" />
</foaf:Person>
</trust:trustsHighly>

</foaf:Person>
</rdf:RDF>
[1] http://www.headshift.com/moments/archives/sss2.html
[2] http://www.mindswap.org/papers/Trust.pdf
[3] http://www.mindswap.org/~golbeck/web/trust.shtml
[4] http://www.perceive.net/schemas/20021119/trust/#trustsImplicitly
[5] http://rdfweb.org/pipermail/rdfweb-dev/2002-December/010679.html

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17. July 2003

Merging weblog and wiki
@ 13:23:21

What is a weblog, what a wiki? What sense does it make to have just another took to administrate? What is the gain, what the pain?

Weblogs are said to be "A web site organized by time", a diary with reports, news summaries, random thoughts, interesting songs, pictures etc [0]. The time factor is mostly part of the URL of a specific blog entry, also there are variations [see Joi' URL, 1]. Entries are furthermore organized by one or multiple categories [2]. Even providing an archive does not prevent from searching for a certain entry, which leads to a search engine to be implemented. Weblog entries often can be commented via a comment field or or ping- or trackbacks. I would rather like to have a weblog with a forum attached [3] than a simple guestbook-style comments collection.

A Wiki [4] is a web-based writing space and is typically collaborative, but does not have to be. While weblogs basically store events, Wikis categorize data [5]. Furthermore a Wiki has revisions of pages [6].

Combinations are already fact [7]; Joi does it, others too - see site of Andrew, Keith, 0xDECAFBAD et. al. I also makes sense to crosspost links or contents to existing Wiki titles. Andrew has a hack:
I now also have a hack to B2 that automatically inserts links to wiki pages (with wiki names) that exist, but only if not in between angle brackets - I don't want to have links inside of links as nested anchors haven't been allowed for a long time in HTML land.
There is currently a discussion over a package called "Text_Wiki" to handle Wiki-like markup [8] that could make such an integration less painful.

[0] http://ourpla.net/cgi/pikie?WebLog
[1] http://joi.ito.com/archives/2003/07/16/im_not_joi_ito_thats_just_my_name.html
[2] http://www.whump.com/moreLikeThis
[3] http://mozillazine.org/talkback.html?article=3422
[4] http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?WikiWikiClones
[5] http://www.andrewsw.com/wiki/moin.cgi/WikiBlogIntegration
[6] http://www.keithdevens.com/wiki/WikiBlogIntegration
[7] http://joi.ito.com/joiwiki/PrivacyGuards
[8] http://news.php.net/article.php?group=php.pear.dev&article=18319

Update:
Some more thoughts and discussions in this direction, leading to klogs:
[a] http://iawiki.net/IAwikiBlog/Discussion
[b] http://groups.yahoo.com/group/klogs/

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Java for SonyEricsson T68i
@ 12:03:11

There is running a petition for an upgrade of the SonyEricsson T68i upgrade to enable Java [1]; the T610 has it [2].

[1] http://www.petitiononline.com/8520/petition.html
[2] http://www.sonyericsson.com/ch/spg.jsp?template=PS1&R=1&B=ie&PID=10055&LM=PSM_V

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16. July 2003

Location based API
@ 16:47:20

As recently [1] arguing for a way to get geo information out of the mobile phone based on standard technologies like WAP and boradcasting services, Gregor [2] just pointed me to a Nokia article [3] on JavaOne technologies at present and in future to be implemented in mobile devices.
The main element of this package is a location provider that delivers the device's current location to the application. [..] This API not only will enable "what's near me" restaurant services, but also could be the basis of some cool games.
[1] http://www.circle.ch/blog/p970.html
[2] http://greg.abstrakt.ch/archives/000278.html
[3] http://www.forum.nokia.com/mobile_java_technology

Update:
Just found that site [4] via the "Related Links" engine:
The Alternis Location Mediation System (LMS) allows mobile network operators to develop and offer personalised, private, billable applications and services with no adverse effect on network performance or quality.
[4] http://www.alternis.com/overview.php

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XFce - The Cholesterol Free Desktop Environment
@ 10:27:53

XFce [1] - the first release candidate of XFce 4.0 has just been announced - previously known as XForms cool environment, is a desktop environment reminiscent of CDE that uses the GTK+ library, and isn't resource-hungry. XFce includes a window manager, tool bar, file manager, backdrop manager, sound subsystem, clock and calendar, mouse configuration and pager module. It is also available for Debian [2].

[1] http://www.xfce.org
[2] http://packages.debian.org/unstable/x11/xfce.html

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Linux in Munich
@ 10:12:38

USA TODAY [1] reports what most European knows regarding the deal that the city of Munich will switch to Linux. But if you imagine the general addressees of USA TODAY this is kind of astonishing. Furthermore one gets a closer look on the deal that Microsoft was ready to take:
USA TODAY obtained government and corporate documents that provide a rare insider's look at Microsoft's efforts to keep from losing a key customer. Among other things, it:

- Agreed to let Munich go as long as six years, instead of the more normal three or four, without another expensive upgrade, a concession that runs against its bread-and-butter software upgrade strategy.

- Offered to let the city buy only Microsoft Word for some PCs and strip off other applications. Such unbundling cuts against Microsoft's practice of selling PCs loaded with software.

- Offered millions of dollars worth of training and support services free.
[1] usatoday.com/money/industries/technology/

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15. July 2003

About neohippie token ring mechanism
@ 01:35:43

This is funny reading: Ken Coars' [1] journey to the LinuxTag 2003. I was also exited how difficult and bewildering it must be for English speaking folks to talk about the "Swiss International Air Lines AG" [2]; Swiss, Swiss Air, Swiss Air Lines in its shortform? Time Swiss gets merged into Lufthansa [3].

[1] http://ken.coar.org/burrow/index?entry=501
[2] http://www.hrabs.ch/cgi-bin/fnrGet.cgi?fnr=2703001037&amt=270
[3] http://www.cnn.com/2003/BUSINESS/07/14/lufthansa.reut/index.html

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14. July 2003

Retrieving Geo information from a Mobile Phone
@ 23:54:09

While skimming through Bernhards [1] entry I got stuck at the second part of the post, where he notes:
The whole thing is very GPS oriented, which kind of puzzles me [..] So I will have to ask someone for a GPS device to try it myself [..]

As far as I understood that background, it is about getting localized information from mobile gadgets as on tokyotidbits.com [location info, 2]. As I have no GPS around here and do not at all intend to carry one around with me - at least as a seperate tool - I thought that there might be a way to get some localized information out of the mobile phone.

At least on my mobile phone and with the telephone company's help there is a way to get the "Zelleninfo" (Cell Broadcast, CB ) [3] - an information about the place of the most closest antenna, or at least the one with the best signal. You can most probably enable that bit of information to be displayed on the phone via a subcategory of the SMS menu.

So, what we get there, is something like "BERN WEST" - far from being as precise as a GPS. But imagine to combine such information with moblogged images; that would result in an interesting track along your image gallery.

But how can we get that info out of the phone and back to a webservice. CB is a monolog. It works from the emitter to the receiver (mobile phone). As long as there is no way to attach that localized info directly to an SMS or something, your hands are tied. Ok, there might be a way to hack the mobile software or writing a java application maybe. Is there a workaround?

Maybe, if we have a look at the WAP protocol [4]. What about this way?
  1. Send a message from the phone X to a server; e.g. blog a picture
  2. Handle the request on the server
  3. Sending a request back to the phone X, asking for the CB info
  4. Handling that info and adding it to the image as localized info
Well, that won't work. The connection gets probably lost after having sent the picture. We would need something like a session and being able to backadress the phone. Why not keeping that fist connection?

[1] http://www.bernhardseefeld.ch/archives/000030.html
[2] http://www.tokyotidbits.com/archives/000341.shtml
[3] http://www.ascii-logos.de/facts%2Binfos/sms%2Bcb/cb-info.php
[4] http://www.wapforum.org/what/technical.htm

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10. July 2003

ascii video live streaming
@ 21:25:14

HasciiCam [1] makes it possible to have live ascii video on the web. It captures video from a tv card and renders it into ascii [2], formatting the output into an html page with a refresh tag or in a live ascii window or in a simple text file as well, giving the possiblity to anybody that has a bttv card, a linux box and a cheap modem line to show a live asciivideo feed that can be browsable without any need for plugin, java etc.

[1] http://ascii.dyne.org
[2] http://ascii.dyne.org/live-screenz.html

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Europäische Verfassung
@ 15:43:18

[via swissinfo.org, 1] Die Europäische Union soll eine eigene Verfassung [2,3] erhalten. Dieses ehrgeizige Projekt scheint nun Wirklichkeit zu werden [4]. Der endgültige Textentwurf liegt nun vor [5].

[1] http://swissinfo.org/sde/Swissinfo.html?siteSect=143&sid=4023654
[2] http://www.nzz.ch/dossiers/2003/eukonvent/EU_V_Teil_1.pdf
[3] http://www.nzz.ch/dossiers/2003/eukonvent/EU_V_Teil_2.pdf
[4] europa.eu.int/
[5] http://european-convention.eu.int/bienvenue.asp?lang=DE

QR Code for your mobile phone.
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Caching weblog pings
@ 15:09:41

To prevent users from sitting and waiting while writing weblog entries, reinvented labs [1] has written a cacher for XML-RPC pings. It is available for download at their site.

[1] http://www.reinvented.net/labs/article/1379

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Electronic Product Code (EPC)
@ 14:12:33

The Electronic Product Code (EPC) [1] is the next generation Universal Product Code (UPC), which one might know as Barcode. Recently confidential papers [2] have been made public that originally came from the EPC lobbyist Auto-ID [3]. Today I found yet another thread at ./ [4] on privacy concerns related to supply chains mostly realized with RFID [5].

This technology needs to be discussed. RFID offers lots of advantages compared to a simple barcode. Starting from here, RFID transponders can basically cover the same functionality as barcodes but depending on the integrated features or algorithm within such a chip there is more to come. RFID chips e.g. can not only carry a serial number but also memory like ROM or EEPROM to read or read/write data to the chip.

Since most of these chips are passive and have no internal power supply they do nothing unless they are asked for. So you need to have a reader or a basestation that emits energy via radio waves and simultaneously communicates with a single or multiple transponder chips. Common frequencies are 125kHz and 13,56MHz. There are trends to other, mostly higher frequencies though.

Having that technical information in the back of one's mind it is kind of obvious, that if such systems want to be successfull in a global spectrum, it cries for standardization. Communication protocols and chip specification need to be based on common sense. If an Italian teacher talks to German pupils, they will not understand each other unless they find a compromise.

So privacy concerns are legitimate if such a uniformed techonlogy will spread globally. And to come back to the barcode, it is hardly to see why this should not happen.

[1] http://common.ziffdavisinternet.com/download/0/1653/p106.pdf
[2] http://quintessenz.org/cgi-bin/index?funktion=view&id=000100002644
[3] http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=70503&cid=6402887
[4] http://www.autoidcenter.org
[5] http://transpondernews.com

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Miyazaki Seagaia Ocean Dome in Japan
@ 12:39:41

Got an email today from a friend with an enormous indoor beach on a picture. I have never heard of such a "pool" and finally found that "Seagaia Ocean Dome" [1] which belongs to a Sheraton Resort [2]:
Among the amusement facilities is Ocean Dome, one of the largest indoor water parks in the world that can accommodate 10,000 people. A sliding mechanism allows the roof to be opened or closed. The dome is 38 m high (41.8 yd.), and encloses the area 300 m (330 yd.) wide and 100 m (110 yd.) deep. Inside, there is a man-made ocean with waves and beach, and a mid-summer environment is maintained with the air temperature at 30ºC (86ºF) and the water temperature at 28 ºC (82.4ºF) all year round.
[1] http://www.jinjapan.org/atlas/architecture/arc27.html
[2] http://pc4.seagaia-miyazaki-b3-unet.ocn.ne.jp/index_e.htm

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Installing PostgreSQL on Windows
@ 12:11:33

There is a pretty fresh "proof of concept" PostgreSQL package that allows the installation of the server without having Cygwin setup [1]. Locally it worked within ten minutes. You will need also an ODBC [2] driver and the admin tool [3].

[1] http://techdocs.postgresql.org/guides/Windows
[2] ftp://ftp.postgresql.org/pub/odbc/versions/msi/
[3] http://pgadmin.postgresql.org/pgadmin2/downloads/

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09. July 2003

IP to country conversion
@ 23:07:52

Today I found that IP Address Locator, which returns localized information based on the client's IP address [1]. A non-commersial version based on PHP is written by Mika Tuupola [2] and is easy installable via PEAR:
pear install http://www.appelsiini.net/~tuupola/php/download/I18N_IP2Country-0.2.0.tgz
The relation between the IP and the country is constructed via information [3] put into a database:
CREATE TABLE ip2country (
ipfrom INTEGER UNSIGNED,
ipto INTEGER UNSIGNED,
code CHAR(2),
country VARCHAR(64)
);


[1] http://www.geobytes.com/IpLocator.htm?GetLocation
[2] http://www.appelsiini.net/~tuupola/php/I18N_IP2Country/docs/
[3] http://www.ip-to-country.directi.com/latest/ip-to-country.csv.zip

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Safari for Windows soon?
@ 22:42:53

Just come from eating a tandoori sandwich at tibits and while skimming through the FTD [1] I passed the lines where they are talking about porting Safari [2] to Windows. FTD argues that Apple probably won't do that for not risking a new broswer-war; but someone else already is at work. The thread at least dates back to January 2003 [3]. Since Apple has freed KHTML from the Qt non-commerical license [4], it was just a reason more for Alan Gutierrez [5] to move a step forward.

[1] http://www.ftd.de
[2] http://www.apple.com/safari
[3] http://lists.kde.org/?l=kfm-devel&m=104205219114244&w=2
[4] http://developer.kde.org/documentation/licensing/licenses_summary.html
[5] http://khtml-win32.sourceforge.net

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