Nicholas Petreley's blog

The Ruby Way

I've wanted to tackle Ruby for quite some time. Luckily, Addison-Wesley just sent me a copy of The Ruby Way, Second Edition by Hal Fulton. This is one of those books that makes me think publishers feel the need to sell books by the pound. The sad part about that is that, in many cases, books printed by the pound contain tons of fluff and useless information. Not so with The Ruby Way. Every page contains gems valuable for anyone who wants to program with Ruby.

But this isn't a book review, per se. If it were, I'd recommend The Ruby Way without reservation. Anyone even remotely interested in Ruby should get this book, now. It's worth every penny of $39.99 US.

But here's what really inspired me to write about this book. There are pages upon pages devoted to the unintuitive twists in the Ruby language. There are so many quirks that I'm almost afraid to tackle my first Ruby program. more>>

A Novellization clause for the next GPL

Forget about Tivoization. How about adding a clause to the next version of the GPL that counters Novellization? The clause would say (in proper legalese), that if any code infringes on intellectual property or patents held by third parties, and the third parties take legal action, the contributors of the offending code assume 100% liability. In short, if Novell injects Microsoft IP into open source and Microsoft wants to sue, it must sue Novell and nobody else, because Novell assumes liability under this new license. This would render any "promise not to sue the end customer" agreement with Novell meaningless. more>>

Novell is loading Microsoft's gun

It is with regret that I urge all FOSS developers to treat anything Novell has contributed to the community as suspect, scrutinize any Novell contributions and purge them as deemed appropriate.

This threat is real, and it is not necessarily contingent upon whether or not Microsoft would actually sue customers for patent infringements. This is a classic case of posturing. Novell is leveraging its agreement with Microsoft in a way that harms all other Linux distributions and other FOSS projects. It is actively exploiting its unique position in ways that seem beneficial, but will pose risks to anyone but its own customers (and even their own customers are only protected for the next five years). more>>

A five year deal with Microsoft to dump Novell/SUSE

Wake up little SUSE, Wake up. No, that's not good enough. Wake up SUSE customers, wake up. Novell is jeopardizing the future of Linux for its own short-term rewards. If you want to see Linux flourish, let alone survive after Novell's five year deal with Microsoft expires, I suggest we make an alternative five year deal with Microsoft. In this case, our part of the deal is to spend the next five minutes, months, or years migrating away from every shred of Novell/SUSE software in our home, office, or enterprise. more>>

The Pet Peevo with TiVo

I'm sorry to see that my blog entry on recent controversies over freedom turned into a thread about TiVo. But since TiVo seems to be such a hot button, I would like to address that issue directly. I made the point in the discussion that TiVo did not license its hardware under the GPL (duh, GPL is a software license, after all), or even a GPL-like license. So all the fuss about what rights you have with respect to TiVo hardware is nonsense. Sure, you have the right to modify the hardware because you bought it. But you will void your warranty, and TiVo is under no obligation to provide you with the schematic, BIOS, or anything else to make it easy to modify the hardware. Having said that, let's cut through all the posturing about what rights we have, and get to the real issue here, which is what motivated TiVo to use a digital signature, and what would motivate people to modify the TiVo software and run the modified version on a TiVo box. more>>

A fight against evil or a fight for attention?

Two hot issues are making the rounds. First, Debian and Firefox are having a spat, and the end result may be that Debian will distribute Firefox under a different name. Second, the war betwen Linus Torvalds and other Kernel developers and the Free Software Foundation over GPLv3 is continuing, with Torvalds saying he's fed up with the FSF. Here is my take on both, and related issues. more>>

Arrh. Shiver me links, and haul me URLs.

Okay, totally off-topic, I know. Well, the keyboard is computer-related. But when I came across these links on my site, VarLinux.org, I couldn't resist sharing them. more>>

Removing a major Compiz annoyance

As much as I love the 3D Compiz/Cgwd, there is one thing I can do without: Wobbly menus. When you pull down or pop-up a wobbly menu, hitting the right menu selection is like target practice. It's even worse if you have to drill down to a sub-sub-sub menu selection because each sub-menu wobbles, too. Here's how to turn off this behavior in the most recent installation of Compiz. more>>

A fifteenth chance for GNOME

Okay, I don't really know how many chances I've given GNOME, but I've tried to switch to GNOME as my default desktop many times. I always ended up switching back to KDE (to be fair, I use other window managers, too, such as Fluxbox, which is one of my favorites). Thanks to the rumors that Xgl/Compiz/cgwd worked best on GNOME, I gave GNOME another shot. As it turns out, the rumors are false. These 3D desktop enhancements work fine under KDE. But I've really been enjoying my GNOME experience despite the fact that there are still things about GNOME that I dislike. Granted, I can credit Ubuntu's default settings for GNOME as some reasons why I'm enjoying it more. But it's still a better desktop than I recall from the last time I used it. more>>

The ongoing MythTV saga continues

I have good news, bad news, and worse news. The good news is that I managed to get MythTV working well enough that it now plays standard definition channels better than the cable box alone, even though it's getting its signal from the cable output of the cable box. I get this benefit because MythTV allows me to tweak various parameters that you can't change on the cable box.

The bad news is that high definition channels still look worse through MythTV than they do if I watch then directly from the cable box. I don't expect to solve this problem. The cable box may be able to handle HDTV itself, but it outputs a digital signal in 480p, which is basically standard definition. The fact that I have two HDTV-capable tuner cards does me little good.

Here's the worse news. I had to learn way too much to get this far. more>>

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