Maybe they're right when they tell me I'm wrong…

Much as I dislike the song itself, there’s a reasonable chance I’m an asshole.

Some links follow, relevant to the above. No commentary, and don’t expect many posts about this sort of thing. You’ll notice there’s no relevant category. ^_^

People who read this and actually know me offline, you are requested to call me out if you observe me doing any of the shit that may appear in the links that follow. Or at least the bad stuff. There’s good stuff mixed in there, I hope it’s obvious which is which.

On a positive note, I’m down to around 140kg. Four and a half months to lose another 20kg. That looks unrealistic, but it’s actually 20 weeks so it’s only on the high side of healthy, as I understand it, not in the danger zone, especially given where I’m coming from.

Almost but not quite completely unlike twenty questions

Via Krefey, I’m not part of one of those weird pass-it-on things that shows up in the blogoblong on occasion.

Rules of the game:

  1. Leave me a comment saying anything random, like your favorite lyric to your current favorite song. Or your favorite kind of sandwich. Something random. Whatever you like.
  2. I respond by asking you five questions so I can get to know you better.
  3. You update your LJ with the answers to the questions.
  4. Include this explanation and offer to ask someone else in the post.
  5. When others comment asking to be asked, ask them five questions.

And the questions I was asked:

  1. If you had the chocie to remove either Star Wars or Star Trek form existence, which would you choose to discard to the eether? 😛
  2. If you could have any single (ie just one, not single as in not taken) woman be with you for life, who would you choose and why?
  3. Dumb but attractive, or intelligent but plain?
  4. If you could be anyone that has ever existed who would you be?
  5. If you could alter the principle laws of physiscs as we know them, what would you change?

OK, here goes:

  1. Tough call. I’m gonna go with Star Wars, much as I personally prefer it, because I think Star Trek has done more for us in terms of introducing and exploring new concepts, while Star Wars was kind of a samurai VS Nazis funfest. Of course, if this subsequently removed Indiana Jones from existence, I’d have to change my mind. And whichever one lets Red Dwarf stay, stays. Erk. This is why I’ve abstained from time travel.
  2. Suzie Marie Toller. Spoiler for Wild Things… She’s wealthy, attractive, intelligent, doesn’t let the rules and mores of society hamstring her ambitions, without being amoral.
  3. I’m definately intelligent but plain. Then again, given free reign I can also be dumb, and attractive in a gravitational sense. If you doubt that, lie next to me on a waterbed. ^_^
  4. I’m tempted to say Andrew Tridgell, but I’m not sure I’d do as good a job of being him as he does, and that’s not something I’d wish on the world. This also applies to most of the other names of existent or formerly existent that come to mind. The more I think about it, the more I realise that not only am I prolly the best at being me, I’m also currently the me I’m happiest with, or all the mes that have existed. Sure, there are mes I’d rather be (ie. exactly now, but ~50kgs lighter) but they haven’t existed, so they don’t count. Yes, it’s a cop-out. If you insist I pick someone, go with Tridge. He seems to have been doing (and still is doing) the sort of thing I love doing, for a long time now. Although, right now I’m at the start of that process (I hope) so I don’t think I’d gain much.
  5. I’d remove entropy, or at least make it some kind of controllable particle. The impending heat-death of the universe worries me.

Why I no longer don't read weblogs

Firstly, a vast majority of people who read this, won’t actually know the context of “Why I don’t read weblogs”. This is deliberate. I still know people involved in that incident, so no details will be released. If you’re one of the lucky ones to know the story, don’t pass the link around. ^_^ (It’s embarrassing to me, just to be clear, so don’t let the paranoia get you down.)

Anyway, LiveJournal slipped me back into weblogs by stealth, so I guess it’s time to face it. I started out just looking at my housemate’s LJ. Then one bored Saturday afternoon, I had a look at his friends list and realised I knew some of the people on it (through him) and so, having already managed to get OpenID working between LiveJournal and my WordPress site (Using OpenID Comments For WordPress, which despite the name is also an OpenID Server) I added them to my ‘friends’ page.

And then from a comment on a blog there, I recognised a long-unseen friend’s nick, and then from that person’s friends list, I recognised a whole bunch of other friends.

I accidentally connected my little island of long-winded to the blogosphere. O_O (I wish they’d called it the blogoblong. It’s so much more fun to say…)

Anyway, as much as anything else, this post is also to explain if anyone doesn’t recognise the username at the end of the befriending, well, now you know how I found you.

This is also to prevent me starting another disk of Babylon 5, given when I started this it was too early to go to bed, but three hours more watching Babylon 5 would have left me going to bed too late instead. This way it’s, in the words of Goldilocks, “Holy shit, talking bears!”

On MPEG-4 patents, Google and VLC

Bored at ActewAGL, I dropped in to slashdot to see that apaprently Google has released a video service and DVD Jon (the DeCSS guy) has cracked the player. Since the player is based on the GPL’d VLC, and is distributed to the browser as an ActiveX control and therefore comes with source, the crack itself is trivial (No offence, Jon. I can’t believe you knocked up a binary patch in .NET!)

But a more interesting discussion about the patent impllications branched off instead.

The idea that using the google version of VLC means you are now licensed to use the MPEG-4 Visual and AVC patent suites depends entirely on the license that google has received from MPEG LA.

MPEG-4 Visual. Looking at: http://www.mpegla.com/m4v/m4vweb.ppt I suspect Google is not considered an encoder/decoder manufacturer but do fall under the category of “Free Internet Broadcast”, which covers the category of making money from the patent by means other than selling the video (eg. advertising). This happily has no patent fees until 2008 and after that will be no greater than “Free Television” which is currently US$2.5k per transmission encoder. (Not server. Encoder. I presume they mean that a machine encoding two channels at once is actually two encoders, although if not, there’s a nice use for a four-way super-machine. One $2.5k payment and you’ve got four channels encoding at a time, while if you buy an off-the-shelf MPEG-4 encoding box you pay $2.5k for the patent license _each_). Upshot: Google pays nothing for this license until 2008..

MPEG-4 AVC. Looking at http://www.mpegla.com/avc/AVC_TermsSummary.pdf the bottom of page 3 and top of page 4 shows that the same rules apply, but the free period is until end of 2010. Again, after that it’s capped at the television rates, which are this time defined per broadcast market (“geographic area within which an End User could use an AVC Decoder to view Free Television AVC Video sent by a single transmitter or transmitters simultaneously with repeaters by a single Legal Entity.”), annually at US$2.5k for 100k to <500k households, US$5k for 500k to <1000k, and US$10k for one million upwards. Easily Google is a single legal entity able to reach anyone over the world-wide web from the one server or set of repeaters, so after 2010 they’re looking at 10k per year for the AVC license. Upshot: Google pays nothing for this license until 2010.

In short, I don’t actually think Google’s _paying_ for anything, If they do have to pretend to be a manufacturer, then they’re paying less than US$0.50 per unit for both patents, but I doubt they are doing that. No company would willingly put a up a link that costs them US$0.50 per hit. If they could, the Internet Ad Banner bubble wouldn’t have burst. ^_^

Edit: Yes, I’m an idiot. I forgot to address the original point of the linked blog post. Anyway, the licenses I think Google are signed up to only affect Google’s ability to stream out the video, and turn out to be completely distinct from the player used to stream it. I didn’t see anything in the MPEG LA pages about free software encoders/decoders, since they all seem to talk about ‘sale’ and ‘manufacture’, neither of which is actually done for a software encoder/decoder. Mind you, I didn’t actually read the license text itself, since you have to ask for it. And this article about Nero Digital implies that there’s no fee for the codec itself now, but there might be soon. At which point, assuming Google pays the codec fee, then a google-branded player will come with a license for use which you wouldn’t get directly from VLC. And things get sticky.

I have a printer!

I bought a second-hand HP LaserJet 1200 series for $80 from an Internet cafe which was going out of business. An evening spent with cups, and I can print from windows, have driver auto-download going (for Win2K+ at least) and also got a PDF-output print which writes to /home/tbble/cups-pdf for output. ^_^

The hardest bit was the driver-upload. I had root disabled in samba (sensibly) but the samba drivers directory /var/lib/samba/printers/ is only writable by root, as you’d expect. I ended up enabling root for samba for the moment.

rpcclient -U root -c ‘adddriver “Windows NT x86” “CUPS-pdf:pscript5.dll:PostscriptColor.ppd:ps5ui.dll:pscript.hlp:NULL:RAW:pscript.ntf” 3’ 192.168.0.1

rpcclient -U root -c ‘setdriver Keitarou CUPS-pdf’ 192.168.0.1

And in a reversal, jobs are spooled in /tmp, since everyone can write there.

I’ll look forward to samba4 for slightly more sensibility. ^_^

I got the flat!

I got the flat! Yay! ^_^

I started looking on Tuesday on allhomes.com after I talked to Salu on Monday afternoon and we decided that our aims were too different to be able to easily find a flat that would suit us both. I inspected the place on Wednesday afternoon, decided I liked it, and put in an offer. The landlord only settled on the place today, and this afternoon the real estate agent called me and said I’ve got it. ^_^

$120 per week, $480 bond, two weeks in advance and $15 fee. I’m laughing. ^_^

And it also gave me a good chance to SMS all my friends, and see who I hadn’t heard from in a long time, but still had their number. ^_^

Linuxconf Day 1 Morning

Wow. Linux.conf.au. Today and tomorrow are mini-confs, and I’m attending the Debian Miniconf4. So far the two speakers have been about the state of Debian according to Bdale Garbee, former DPL, and a presentation on rockets running Debian.

Currently it’s lunchtime, and I’ve found a powerpoint so I can laptop again. Wireless signal is good in MCC foyer, unusable for me in Sullivan’s Cafe, and untested in MCC T2. Of course, others aren’t having this problem, so it’s still either my card, or the prism54 driver in Linux. I’ve now established that booting my laptop with the card in does bad bad things to IRQ routing, meaning I have to boot into windows (or at least try, the local Win98 is unbootable just now) to get things going again. Even a cold boot doesn’t fix it. >_<

Oh, and my laptop’s battery life is about 12 minutes, with a charging time of about 100 minutes. Luckily, that 12 minutes appears to be the first 5% and last 5% of the battery, so I get some warning when it’s about to go down. ^_^

Anyway, I was lucky the guy at the registration desk didn’t look too hard at my student card, which expired at the end of March, and got some neat swag in the showbag, including a little pliars/knife/screwdriver thing, and a network cable-in-a-box type doodad. Actually, that plus the Ubuntu PPC CD (which I’ll prolly use to empty and back up Obiwan, which is why I chose it over i386) is the neat swag. The rest was various brochues and pamphlets for other conferences I can’t afford to attend.

This afternoon we get some very interesting-looking presentations, and I’ll finally be able to put a face to Horms, who’s been sponsoring FreeRADIUS into Debian for me. Which reminds me I have to get those threading fixes uploaded ASAP, and see if there’s anything left for FreeRADIUS 1.1.0’s release to take care of.