Archive for category Uncategorized

A certain number

Warning and disclaimer: vitriolic rant ahead; I am not a lawyer, just angry.

Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of a certain number on the internet. Specifically, the processing key for most of the HD-DVD movies published so far. And I’m getting really sick of it.

Most of the people copying this key did so under some delusional notion of “free speech” or “numbers not being copyrightable”. Under current US law (regardless of what you think of it), this number is part of an “circumvention device”, and as such is not under copyright, but is it also not protected speech. This number has no artistic merit or value beyond its purpose towards breaking the DRM on HD-DVD products. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just garbage that I’ve had shoved in my face constantly for the last few days.

By posting this number on your blog/web site/google notebook/tattoo-on-your-chest (I’m not making that up), you are not making a valuable contribution to the world. You are not even inconveniencing the AACS-LA or their lawyers. If you want to make a difference, you have several productive options:

  • Contact your legislative representatives and lobby for copyright/DMCA reform.
  • Put economic and social pressure on the various backers of DRM technology by writing letters and talking to people on the street. Teach people why these technologies are bad. Maybe you’ll even get them to help campaign for open formats.
  • Get out there and produce a competing technology for distribution of digital media that’s so better that everyone will want to adopt it.

I suspect these will be unpopular options, since they actually require some effort. The sort of “civil disobedience” exhibited by plastering this number all over the internet is idiotic. Picketing is effective. Boycotts are effective. Political action is sometimes effective. Whining on the internet is not. Especially when that whining is in violation of existing law. What happens when, in court, useful arguments are thrown out because the person making them was shown to have willfully disregarded existing statutes?

Please, stop polluting my internet with this garbage. Most of you doing this are bright, talented human beings. Go use that talent to create something wonderful.


Dear Lazyweb,

I am considering the purchase of one of these beauties. Unfortunately, I can’t exactly walk to the local music store and try one out. There are two Zeta dealers close-by, and neither of them carries it (one of them is looking into getting one, but I’m not hopeful). Given the price, I’m not comfortable ordering one on the interwebs without playing it first.

I’m in a bit of a quandary; because this isn’t a common instrument, it’s not something that most stores are willing to order and have it using up valuable retail space if I decide not to buy it. As far as I can tell, the only physical store which actually deliberately stocks electric cellos is in NC.

I’m located in Mountain View, CA. Does anyone know of a person or place with a zeta cello (or really, any electric) within, say, an hour’s drive who would let me audition it?



Kids say the darndest things

“When you program a computer, there is a little piece of your mind and now it’s a little piece of the computer’s mind. And now you can see it. I mean, the computer can be just like you if you program it to be, your thoughts, your pictures, your feelings, your ideas, not everything, but a lot of things. And you can see the things you think and change them around”

–Deborah, 13 years old. The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit

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Announcing libcontrast

A while back, I devised a method of providing named colors which could be adapted to any given background color, with a reasonable guarantee of readability. Anyone interested in the details can check out my previous two entries about it:

There’s been some interest in this approach from a variety of people for different projects. I even went so far as to create a patch to put this inside GTK+. Unsurprisingly, this patch hasn’t even been looked at due to the maintainer shortage.

So, I’m trying a different approach. I’ve cleaned up the code, slapped the MIT/X11 license on it, and put it in a separate directory to make it easy to cherry-pick. This is kind of libegg-ish right now, though I’d like to make it easier to have an “upstream”. If anyone has any ideas about making this more friendly for svn:externals (viz., I’d love to hear them!

Get it now from SVN at

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X windows has nearly defeated me.

I’m about at my wits end, and don’t know where else to turn. My dear lazyweb, please come to my aid before I start crying.

I have a toplevel window. I wish to remove decorations, place it at a specific point on the screen, and give it a specific size. This arrangement is so I can have a single window covering multiple monitors in a xinerama configuration. This doesn’t seem like it should be so hard.
Doing this over a single monitor seems to work just fine, at least with metacity. My window happily goes “fullscreen”, covering the panel at the top, on the monitor I expect it to. Then, when trying to move_resize it to cover both of my heads, things get bad. Attempting to set it to 3200×1200+0+0 gives me a window which is 2721×1200+1600+0 (the minimum width as per gtk size request, correct height, bad X and correct Y). Note that this is transitioning from one screen to both.
Kwin does a little better. Depending on which head I attempt, it may go “fullscreen” on the wrong one initially, but it seems to work after that.

Setting this window as override-redirect causes all sorts of more-bogus behavior, so I’ve pretty much given up on that. Getting a new hint into EWMH for multi-head-fullscreen-windows is the correct thing to do, but I don’t have nearly enough time for that right now, and this has to work with current (and older…) window manager releases.


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Dear Web 2.0,

There aint enough room for both of us in this town.


Love, David.

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Nokia N800

Like many others on planet GNOME, I received a discount code for the N800. It took me a while to get over my (ex) college-student instincts, but I finally ordered it and it arrived today. Thanks, Nokia!

It really is a lot smaller than the photos on the web made it look. I humbly suggest to the Nokia marketing folks to take a page from Apple’s book and show it next to a hand instead of standing by itself.

I haven’t yet done much with it. So far, I’ve discovered that the slimserver web UI is usable on it, which is totally sweet. As an aside, anyone out there who has a stereo or home-theater setup who doesn’t own a squeezebox should go buy one right now — it’s an awesome piece of hardware with slick, open-source software.

I’m currently downloading the maemo virtual appliance. Any suggestions on what my first hack for this sexy little device should be? With all of the talk about mono, I’m tempted to try my hand at a Tomboy port.


VMware Workstation 6.0 public beta

Although it was completely overshadowed in the press by the release of the VMware Fusion (the Mac product) public beta, we released our first public beta of Workstation 6.0 for Linux and Windows today, too.

There are a lot of exciting features in the beta already, with more lined up before we hit the final release. I won’t duplicate the release notes, but a few particularly neat ones are:

  • The ability to leave VMs running “headless” without a copy of the Workstation UI running, and then reattach to them the next time you start vmware.
  • Multi-head guests — we’ve had a bazillion requests for this one, and it’s finally here.
  • Solid USB 2.0 support, for just about any device you own.
  • Drag-and-drop files and copy/paste between your host and a VM.
  • Up to 8GB RAM per VM!

There’s a lot more that can be found in the Release Notes.

And one more thing — Workstation 6.0 on linux sports a brand-new, super clean-looking, slick, icon-themeable Tango face:

WS6 Screenshot

We’ve still got a ways to go before the final release. I invite you all to go grab the free beta, try it out, and let us know if there’s anything we can do to make it better.

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Fyre 1.0.1 released!

After a really long time without a release, here’s version 1.0.1 of everyone’s FPU-abusive computational artwork tool!

This release includes a few bug fixes for odd corner cases, some performance increases, better oversampling, and a beautiful new icon by everyone’s favorite Swedish artist, Andreas Nilsson.


Get it now at

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So, as most have probably read, GNOME is at SIGGRAPH.


The open-source pavilion from above



GNOME and GIMP, but also Blender, Inkscape, Verse, Jahshaka…



The graphics community has some of the highest standards for software, and open-source is fulfilling them



AIGLX and Compiz: Turning virtual desktops and heads



Jon Phillips teaching the world that vector graphics editing doesn’t have to be hard

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