Daily Archives: 2008/01/31

European view on US elections

I have been watching the primaries and debates that are ongoing right now before the elections. And as a european some things look weird to me – The things I found strange are:

  • No candidate on the republican site really states that creationism may not be tought in schools – the most radical postions I heard was that everybody should be allowed to teach what he likes. Come on? Whats next? The earth is flat? The Evolutions is one of the best proven facts – if science is not hnored why teach pupils anything at all?
  • Its funny or not really, but how many people talk against illegal immigration. AFAIK about 98% of the population of the USA are immigrants. You say “but they are legal”? Ok, but thats because it WAS legal back then. This legal immigrants vs illegal immigrants debate does not make sense. Each year there are several hundred immigrant deaths along the U.S.-Mexico border. Why doeseverybody care about the deaths of 9-11 and nobody care about the deaths at this border alone? In Europe we have a similar issue at the Mediterranean Sea at the south border of Spain where many africans drown because of increased border security. The strange thing is that Spain has indeed more legal immigrants from Mexico as from Africa (I dont have the exact numbers but maybe 5-6 times). So border security in many senses is another word for racism.
  • The “pro-live” debates. I think that the word alone is a provocation – to suggest that people who are noit against abortion are against live. In the book “Freakonomics” you can see the prove that the legalisation of abortions has decreased crimes and homicide rates. So one could also say that “pro-live” activists are “pro-murder”. Sure every live should be protected, but still humans have to make judgements. And how can somebody who is pro increased border security be also against abortions. You are pro killing of illegal immigrants why you care more about unborn children? Because of race?
  • The issue of the Iraq war – another topic where mostly conservatives are “pro-war” (again often those who say they are “pro-live”. The Iraq body count tells us that only on civilian deaths Iraq had around 80.000 deaths. And 4000 US soldiers. And this all because of 3000 deaths in 9-11 which was NOT caused by the Iraq. So why sacrifice 4000 of your own people and 80.000 innocents – just to make sure that there “wont be new casualties because of terrorism”? Fact is – we dont need to fear terrorism if we have the US military – it can produce a multitude of deathswith much better weapons thanany terrorist ever could! Even if there are terrorists that one could consider evil – they can not really harm a nation- the real harm is done by those who claim to protect us from terrorism. Just look at the numbers above! 80.000 civilians – even if some of them might be terrorists – there arent that many real terrorists. In Iraq the war is now also about freeing Iraq from an occupation from the view of many Iraquis – but it seems many US citizens seem to think that their military is by definition a positive force and so maybe an Iraqui should be happy to be killed by an US soldier instead as by a road side bomb. One word to the US soldiers: I believe you might do your duty in your best believes that what you do makes sense – and in fact nobody likes to risk his live if we would think that it is not for a good cause. I would love to see that all that violence decreases and you can go home. But I still think it was wrong to send you there in the first place. Even if peace can be accomplished. the death toll is just too high. If all in all there would be some dizens or hundreds of deaths one could talk about an acceptable relation – but 80.000 is just off any relation that is discusable.

There are some more topics I find weird but thats it for now.

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Creative MuVo V100 with Linux

I am currently testing a Creative MuVo 100 under Linux. I am planning to use this to record some sound snipplets or interviews. Main reason for this blog entry is to say: yes it works! If you are interested in buying such a device. the sound quality is not really good – and recording works a little difficult at first. first you best erase the existing intro file on this device. Then
you needto press the scroll wheel to get into the upper menu. What the manual doesnt tell you is how to record:

  • Go to the microphone men entry and select it with pressing the wheel.
  • You now get a display of how much time is left to record.
  • You start recording by pressing the play/pause button once.
  • I had trouble recognizing that it is recording. But it did it.

My version has 2 GB of memory and it shows me I have recording time of about 138 minutes. Thats more than 2 hours. Mplayer can play it and it shows this on Foresight Linux 2 Alpha 3:

$ mplayer voc002.wav
MPlayer dev-SVN-rUNKNOWN-4.1.1 (C) 2000-2007 MPlayer Team
CPU: Mobile Intel(R) Pentium(R) III CPU - M 1200MHz (Family: 6, Model: 11, Stepping: 4)
CPUflags: MMX: 1 MMX2: 1 3DNow: 0 3DNow2: 0 SSE: 1 SSE2: 0
Compiled with runtime CPU detection.
116 audio & 237 video codecs
Can't open joystick device /dev/input/js0: No such file or directory
Can't init input joystick

Playing voc002.wav.
Audio file file format detected.
Opening audio decoder: [imaadpcm] IMA ADPCM audio decoder
AUDIO: 8000 Hz, 1 ch, s16le, 32.2 kbit/25.19% (ratio: 4031->16000)
Selected audio codec: [imaadpcm] afm: imaadpcm (IMA ADPCM)
[AO OSS] audio_setup: Can’t open audio device /dev/dsp: No such file or directory
AO: [alsa] 8000Hz 1ch s16le (2 bytes per sample)
Video: no video
Starting playback…

I am not an audio expert, but what i did find out is that this is not a normal WAV but seems to be called ADPCM, which is a speech codec thats “quantizes the difference between the speech signal and a prediction that has been made of the speech signal”. Uhm, ok 😉 if that works… A file that is about a bit more than 36 minutes long has the size of: 8,3M of ADPCM or 33MB WAV -a dn recoded to OGG 6 MB, although recoding should rather not be considered because I highly suggest that switching compression algorithms is very costly? Again I am not an audio expert.

So with MPlayer you can read that format. As far as i understood This: (ratio: 4031->16000) means that this generates a 16 kbit audio from a 4031 compressed file? See also G.726. What is interesting is that it seems in U.S. there is no 2GB version of this device. Strangely though the german page tells me I can record 4 minutes only while the american page of Creative says 125 hours! same device – I think both is false. even the 512 MB version should be able to record more than 4 minutes. And OTOH 125 hours that would be five days! LOL, Creative seems to be creative when it comes to numbers. my estimate is that 2.3 hours is right for 2 GB version and maybe 1 hour for the 1 GB version.

Thre recordings you make are put in a folder “Recorded Tracks”. The first one is named “voc001.wav.” and the next are the same. Unfortunately WordPress forbis to upload WAV files (no matter what size). So I decided to rename it to voc001.ppt. So to check it out you should rename it back to voc001.wav.

If you want to know more or YOU know more you can comment on this article.

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Flip Flopping

I have now decided to go away from Foresight Linux. Why that? Well first of all after my FreeBSD experiences I got back to Foresight Linux Alpha 2. I knew that it worked mostly and also I had to have something that worked for a presentation. And that it did ok. To more detail please read the link above.

I dont really have statistics about OpenBSD – I would be interested in those – but from my very subjective impression if I do “man xy” OpenBSD mostly gives me doc that I understand – and I like that. Foresight for example is worst when it comes to manuals – which is also due to the fact that it only installs what is needed. Which is or can be a plus – But like with “man mplayer” I like my system to just have that.

I also think maybe its because I am getting older that I am seeking different things. My Linux history started with SuSE Linux, which was really ugly with all that Yast stuff – but also due to Linux being much more in an early stage. back then 1998 – you had to build your own kernel to include the sound drivers. Sound was a real issue. I then had to execute isapnp. I cant say I loved to build kernels but I did it often.

Today on Linux mainstream kernels are mostly accepted. I still see people hacking on kernels on new releases activating this and that. I can see that it can be fun and also we need people testing stuff. But I havent built a new kernel since about 10 years – and never had the need. I am also never too excited about new kernel releases.

I have also followed GNOME for a long while, because I wanted to have the one desktop the felt the best – and as an old Mac user GNOME felt very much GNOME like. The nautilus file manager later was also developed by some old Mac folks at Ximian.

After SuSE I used Debian and that was much nicer than SuSE. But there was this Debian dilemma: Stable was often very outdated – so people told me: use testing – but this wasnt so stable – and I even followed the advice of some people to use unstable – but this was really bad. I also used Debian on a web server. It had Apache 1.3 but I wanted Apache 2 – so there was something called backports. I installed that and erased all my site configs. Also the dpkg database got trashed often. I could count endless issues about “stable” Debian.

After Debian I took a wuick look at Red Hat 8 – but updates where a pain (you only got updates if you subscribed to channels) –  so I gave Gentoo a try. What was wrong with that? Well, all in all it was too complicated to look at all the USE flags and things. So I switched to Fedora 1.0 as this came out. And Fedora really was great as it resolved all that made using Red Hat a pain. So I was a loyal Fedora user for some years.

But then they made some evil hacks on the community – and also it crashed on my notebook all the time without anybody seeming to care. The rest of the story can be read in “It’s final: Good bye Fedora!”

And now yet another switch. Foresight had MANY good ideas – but I think they made too much wrong choices. On too many cross-ways they walked in the wrong direction. Which is kind of sad, because it had very good starting conditions and also had Conary as the only desktop distro on its side. But conditions where not always best and for the past months it wasnt so much about being creative with new ideas but struggling with all kinds of dependencies. Developers really invested a lot. But as I always said – a distribution is for me never more than the best compromise. I am open if its more to me – but I really dont like all that common distro marketing thing. There is this blog about passionate users that tries to bring in some fresh ideas. But I think the whole idea to “create” passionate users is false. You cant do that unless you lie. Otherwise – if they suggest that software should suck less I would agree – and also I would agree on the message that software only needs to be good enough. The thing about blogs like the one I just mentioned is that it all sounds good and looks good – but I can not connect to it from my user perspective.

Currently I look more forward in a nice base system which does its job good enough and which doesnt do toomuch flip flopping and breaking. I like to be able to boot my machine every day wihtout the fear that it wont boot. This means less updates is better. On Linux updates have become some kind of mysticism – even when it comes to security one can assume that for 99% of the users the bugs and issue are irrelevant. What is more relevant is that an update works and doesnt break anything. What also matters tome is that fixes are available but I am not forced to apply them . I also like distros to stick to some basic promises like deliver a new stable version each so and so month. I also like new features – not to the cost of stability – bu generally I think its nice if my desktop can do new things – especially if they are useful. I also like it when things get fixed without me noticing it – so I do like fixes under the hood.

What about statistics? Well some people like to play with them and maybe could show me that openBSD is not the fastest or whatever. I dont really care – first I cant really check that data without a lot of investigations and secondly often the conclusions are false. So I think for many cases it doesnt matter if you use Postgres or Mysql – or what file system you use, etc. – But many techies tend to look at the latest trends and propagate one technology over the other. There may be issues in some technologies but you really need somebody with a lot of experience to really tell the difference, because statistics alone seem to suggest soemthing to be true although its irrelevant in practice .

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