Older blog entries for rachel (starting at number 12)


Free software, free market, free association, freebasing:

"We will be using VA Linux hardware, and your choice of OS includes FreeBSD 4.0, Debian, OpenBSD and RedHat initially."

You can't make this stuff up. HavenCo is the new government of Sealand, an abandoned concrete fortress a few miles off Scunthorpe. Eccentric English person Roy Bates remains the constitutional monarch. (Roy Bates, Roy Batty: coincidence?)

Since declaring sovereignty in 1967, Prince Roy and his subjects have worked every imaginable angle. Roy ran a pirate radio station. Crown Prince Michael once sold air fern, a kind of coral, for use in tchotchkes. A renegade citizen sold more than 150,000 Sealand passports over the Net, most of them to Hong Kong refugees before the handover. Philately, numismatics, arms smuggling, you name it, Sealanders have had a crack.

Now Sealand is a data haven.



Speaking of the Zen of traffic flow:

The Tibetan Book of Thoroughbred Training
From Horse Heaven, by Jane Smiley

1. Do not pay attention or investigate; leave the mind in its own sphere
2. Do not see any fault anywhere
3. Do not take anything to heart
4. Do not hanker after signs of progress
5. Do not fall prey to laziness
6. Be in a state of constant inspection

Oddly enough, this is all far harder than it sounds.

Does anyone know where the name "Napster" came from?

Warning! Don Marti's web page is set up to crash your machine if you hit it with W98/IE. I respect his right to disapprove of the OS I'm forced to use at work, but it was a story about his protest that got eaten.

Not that I believe in poetic justice or anything. I'm just saying.

Ha! Ha-HA!

My copy of True Names arrived in the mail. (Yes, it's out of print. Have you people never heard of Bibliofind?) Half-way through, I'm completely gobsmacked. There are chat-rooms, there are magickal-faeryish online handles, there are attempts to crack the NSA. So frickin' what, I hear the skeptics cry in unison? Well, there's this: it was written in 1980.

The prescience thing is kind of a party trick, though, compared with the real reason I devour Vinge's books: he gives peerless character. Genre schmenre: A Deepness in the Sky was one of the best novels of any kind that I read last year, and Pham and Esr and Sherkaner are three of the best-written geeks I've come across. Sherkaner reminds me of my own Dad; quite an achievement for an giant arachnoid alien. He's up there with Stephen Maturin, Smilla Jasperson and Ged in my private gallery of Best Fictional Characters Ever.

Lynx Real-Time Systems just changed its name to LynuxWorks. Hunh. The marketroids had better have a very, very good explanation for this.

To the amusement of many around me, I think Linux in the embedded market is going to be Rather Interesting. The field is now quite crowded. Let's see: there's the shiny new LynuxWorks; Lineo, which now owns Zentropix; Red Hat, which acquired eCos when it bought Cygnus; and Wind River, which is dipping its toe. Who have I missed? Talk to me.

As for all you people who gave Jeremy advice on his photo database, I darn you to heck. Now I'm a photo database widow, as well as being a Linux, autofs4, reiserfs and Quake widow.

I'm going to go and read Telsa's diary.

The next marketroid to tell me that the software is "written in CGI" will be publicly and unmercifully mocked.

Witty Linux guy of the day: I called Jim Gleason on the steps of the Library of Congress, where he was protesting the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. He asked how I'd found his number, and I told him I'd seen Don Marti's post to Linux Elitists. "Cool, you're an elitist!" he said. "No, no," I said, "I just lurk."

"Lurking is even MORE elite," said Jim.

Long time no diarize. I've been thinking a lot about trust, although not in Advogato contexts. There was an article in The Economist a few years ago that made a huge impression on me. It talked about what Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton had in common: 18th century liberalism - belief in democracy, the rule of law and the free market. Anyway, I was poking around that argument between Lawrence Lessig and ESR the other day, and an article that Lessig refers to makes roughly the same argument in the context of modern Russia.

Russia fascinates me for various reasons, not least because my best friend and soulmate from Sydney University ended up there while I ended up in the USA. I've read a bunch of things, from Jack Womack's Let's Leave the Future Behind Us to an article about Russian mobsters in Miami in the New Yorker, which try to convey the sheer futility of attempting to do business in at atmosphere where everyone routinely lies and cheats - not because they're liars and cheats, I hasten to add, but because everyone else is lying and cheating and that's how you get through the day, and whatever else happens, your family needs to be fed. Where do you even begin to reform a system like that?

Frankly, this is what worries me about the WTO protestors. Five years ago, believe me, I would have been down there with them in a sea-turtle costume of my own. These days I worry about Taiwan and I worry about Timor and Afghanistan and the best hope I can see for world peace is trade. The kinds of protectionism some of the WTO protestors are calling for scares me witless. If we can't be one big happy family I'll settle for one big, moderately orderly flea market.

I want my global economy interconnected, because it gives Pakistan an excellent reason not to bomb India. I'm all for marketplaces, as long as I get the democracy and rule of law you need to make them work. Give me equitable access to education and health care for all, give me greater accountability for the directors of corporations and I'll just get on with being a productive little member of society. Yes! The fire in my belly is gone! Ireland completely cured me of romanticism about armed revolution. These days I get inflamed about SEC accounting rules. I'm a completely stereotypical mild-mannered reformist geek policy wonk. Which is why, much as I like and respect Eric, I'm giving this round to Lessig.

Most of the people I've met - and they include former IRA bombers and Microsoft employees - are basically decent and well-intentioned. All they want is a good life for themselves and the people they love. I don't know whether everyone is like that. I tend to doubt it. But I suspect the great merit of Western civilization is the freedom it gives me to behave as if they were.

Anyway, thanks, Simon and Jason, for the certs.


I'm now legal in oh, so many ways. I spent last month in London getting a new US visa, then I spent yesterday morning in Daly City getting a California drivers' license. After two years, I may finally have become a competent Dealer With American Bureaucracy.

This amazes me, as I've long been famous for unleashing my native aggression on more-or-less innocent tools of the State. Jeremy has been known to wheel me out when people seem to need shouting at.

I even managed to spend half an hour on the phone with a stonewalling PR guy without losing my temper. Much.


The PR for my own company (all hail the company) wants to sign me up as a speaker for the Linux Business Expo in Las Vegas. Same time as Comdex, which kind of blows - I quite like Vegas when Comdex isn't going on. The abstract's due by May 1, so I'd better come up with something soon.

The mere thought of it makes my stomach ache. What could I possibly say that wouldn't make the entire assembly collapse with scorn? It's the same any time I have to do any public speaking: This Time They'll Find Me Out, For Sure.

I admit it, I'm not technical at all, I just like hanging out with engineers.

Speaking of spending time with entertaining people, I had a long chat with Bruce about Linux Capital Group, then another long chat with Lyle Ball about Lineo. Bruce is incredibly insightful on big-picture stuff: he talked about the coming war over intellectual property, and the fact that hackers are likely to lose the DVD DeCSS trial in New York. Lyle's now the president of marketing and communications at Lineo, a promotion I imagine he won after doing a fantastic job of spinning the Caldera-Microsoft trial. Not a bad way to spend the morning, and so to lunch.

3 older entries...

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!