Happy Birthday, LibreOffice
A few days ago, the LibreOffice project turned 5!

Slightly more than 5 years ago, Oracle bought Sun Microsystems, acquiring ownership of a number of valuable Sun technologies, including the SPARC family of processors, Java and MySQL. It also got a bunch of other things into the bargian that it didn't really seem to know what to do with, including Slowaris and OpenOffice.org (formerly StarOffice).

OpenOffice.org (OOo) was, at the time, the number one office suite for GNU/Linux systems, far ahead (in terms of market/mind-share) of Calligra, with Microsoft Office not having been ported at all (yet) (*ahem*). However, even Sun had been dicking about with its stewardship of the project for quite some time, and the maintainers of the Linux OOo packages for most of the large distributions had amassed a fair number of improvements over the course of a few years in a mostly-unofficial fork nicknamed Go-oo. Even so, Sun had at least committed plenty of their own developers and marketing resources to OOo, and was making regular releases to the project, which made the Linux devs reluctant to strike out completely on their own.

This changed with the take-over by Oracle. Over the course of some months, Oracle pulled most of the resources away from OOo development, and were even less willing to work well with the Free Software developers from Linux-land. Things simply could not go on as they were.

So, on 28 September 2010, LibreOffice was officially born with the release of version 3.3 beta, based on the most recent OOo 3.3 beta release and the Go-oo patchset. This also made the Go-oo code widely available for Windows and Mac for the first time. It was followed on 25 January 2011 with the first "stable" release, version 3.3.0. Then, at pretty reliable 6-monthly intervals ever since, they've released another 9 main feature updates (plus umpteen minor bugfix releases). This has culminated (so far) in version 5.0 being released a couple of months ago, and 5.0.2 a couple of weeks ago.

Meanwhile, the official OpenOffice.org codebase, along with associated trademarks and copyright ownership, was transferred to the Apache Foundation and became Apache OpenOffice. Since then, AOO has made 3 releases, in total, including bugfix updates. The most recent of these was over a year ago, and since then remote-execution bug CVE-2015-1774 has gone 6 months without being fixed - even though to do so would only require the removal of a single file from the installer. Apparently a new release fixing this is due "soon", but in the interim they've been knowingly distributing vulnerable software for 6 freaking months. It would be an exaggeration to say that AOO is a dead project, but only just.

Anyway, if you're on an old and busted branch of StarOffice/OpenOffice.org/Apache OpenOffice, it's probably worth downloading LibreOffice and giving it a spin.

Relaxing in fields
This weekend just gone, edy_ , chairman_mat , caerban , caerban's S.O. "C" WINOLJ, gourou and I all went for a relaxing weekend, in tents, in the not-too-distant countryside.

Friday was good...Collapse )

Sometime around noon, everyone else showed up! Not just my ride, but everyone. And we all had ice-cream. And it was good. And then we said our goodbyes, and headed back to "civilisation".

Hell's Club
Because not enough people read JWZ, and by all accounts this hasn't hit FB yet.

There is a place where all fictional characters meet. Outside of time, Outside of all logic, This place is known as HELL'S CLUB, But this club is not safe.

Like the man says, "this is pretty amazing, and it just keeps going and going..."

How (any Why) SpaceX Will Colonize Mars
I was going to wait until SpaceX managed to land one of their first stages on a bargeAutonomous Spaceport Drone Ship[0] to post another update for those that might be interested, and then this happened to CRS-7 which meant they won't get to to try again until at least September.

However, Wait But Why has just posted an absolutely excellent[1] piece on the history, present, and future of SpaceX, it's goal to put 1,000,000 people on Mars, complete with quick primers on a bunch of related background subjects:

How (and Why) SpaceX Will Colonize Mars.

It covers a bunch of stuff I was going to, but better, clearer, in more detail, with more diagrams and videos, and a bunch of insight from talking to Elon himself.

And yes, it's a crazy goal, but Elon has a step-by-step plan for getting there, which has worked out pretty well so far. Admittedly, the CRS-7 failure wasn't part of the plan, but I don't think anyone realistically thought that SpaceX would never lose a payload, so coping with that near-inevitability would have been factored in somehow. And according to a whole of other really-fricking-smart, actual rocket scientist people he's worked with, he's one of the smartest people they've ever worked with.

The next 20 years are going to be interesting.

(via /r/spacex)

[0] Definitely not a barge. Because barges are unpowered. And Jeff "Patent Dickwad" Bezos (off of Amazon, and Blue Origin) apparently has a patent on landing a spacecraft on a barge. Because apparently that's a novel and non-obvious invention that no-one else would have thought of!

[1] But loooooong. But worth it.

Broken shoulder, 6 months later...
...is not so broken anymore.

Previously I discussed the first month or so of my recovery which involved the start of physio and a fair amount of pain.

The pain continued in a most displeasurable vein for about another 6 or 8 weeks, interrupting my sleep, as I started to get my shoulder back to having a range of motion for performing normal everyday tasks like driving, making a cup of tea, and getting dressed. Fortunately, after that, I'd got back enough movement and ability to take weight, that I could roll onto it while lieing down, and it wouldn't hurt any more than it did the rest of the time. Proper sleep finally came back, and life suddenly got a lot less miserable.

During this time, I was meeting with my physiosadisttherapist for about half an hour once every three weeks or so. They'd measure my range of movement with a cool-looking (to a geek like me) hinged protrator thingy, ask me how the exercises they'd given me last time were going, and tell me which ones to stop doing, and explain what new exercises would be useful for increasing my range of movement further, for me to do twice per day until the next meeting.

That was good, and I mostly did the exercises, so my movement improved. Also, the background ache in my shoulder continued to recede, only surfacing notably while I was actually doing my exercises. Sometimes if I pushed myself, I'd ache a bit for the rest of the day, but it was almost like a post-exercise been-worked-hard pain than an injury pain, and that was somehow more bearable.

Then about 8 weeks ago, my physio declared that I'd progressed enough, that they no longer needed to see me. My range of movement, which was about 80% (my estimate) of the way back to normal, was enough for me to do nearly all common tasks with virtually no impairment. If I continued with the exercises I had, I'd get back as much extra movement as I was willing to put in the effort for.

However, my shoulder and right arm were, as expected at this stage of recovery, quite weak, so I was referred to the "late stage upper limb clinic". This sounds a heck of a lot more ominous than it actually is, which is a gym area in the physio department of the hospital. They have a rowing machine, an arm bike, and some weights machines, and a bunch of less conventional exercises to do which I'm about 70% sure aren't only there to make you look silly. :-)

It was also around that time that I finally managed to get back on my bicycle again. It's a drop-handlebar road bike, so I've got a fair amount of weight on my arms/shoulders. With no suspension on the roads round here, it's tough, jarring work. But it's nice to be out again, when I can.

Anyway, I'm doing the upper limb clinic for an hour once per week. Going there has also persuaded me to join the local leisure centre, and get a resistance/weights program sorted out to do in their gym, which should help me progress faster. Recovering from an injury feels like a nice shield to have. Yes, I'm out of shape, and the weights I'm using are tiny, but I have a reason for that now! I may not feel like I belong in the gym, but at least I don't feel like I oughtn't to be there.

There are still some movements which are awkward or painful, but I feel like I'm getting really close to being able to bring one hand up behind my back, and reach the other down behind my head, and touch my fingers together again. I also think I might finally be up to going back down to the climbing wall this weekend. I chickened out last weekend, but I'm going to try and get out there and do a bunch of really easy, minimal-arm-strength-needed problems. Honestly!

I'm going to ask you to hedge.
A couple of weeks ago, Open Rights Group co-founder Cory Doctorow gave a talk at the Personal Democracy Forum - An Internet of Things That Do as They're Told. At only 21 minutes in length, it's worth watching if you're at all concerned about the computing devices that you "own" which do not always work for in your interest - by preventing you from doing some perfectly legal things which the device could technically do, or by collecting data about you and passing it to the manufacturer or other 3rd parties[0] - but don't have a clear idea of how those concerns might manifest as concrete problems that affect you.

One thing I particularly want to highlight though, are his closing remarks about one relatively simple thing anyone can do to offset the fact that we all fund these very companies that work against our interests:

None of us are pure. None of us make great decisions all the time about our technology. We all of us get up every morning and we give money to phone companies that are destroying net neutrality. We give money to technology companies that are petitioning to put programmers in jail for disclosing vulnerabilities. We all make decisions that end up redounding on us and our future.

I'm not going to ask you to be pure. Not going to ask you to only use Free Software, and only surf through Tor, and turn on NoScript all the time even if it breaks all your favourite websites.

Instead, I'm going to ask you to hedge.

To figure out how much money you spend every month on companies whose mandate is to destroy the future that we want to build, and figure out what percentage of that you're going to give to EFF and groups like EFF to keep the internet free and open.
Food for thought.

[0] Which you "consented" to in the "Terms and Conditions" that you agreed to without reading when you first turned it on.

Dear Fellow Cyclists...
Lately, because this behaviour has become more common and nearly had a (literally) significant impact on me quite a few times, I had been wondering if the Highway Code had changed sometime in the last 20 years.

But, as it turns out, it is still the case that: 64. You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement. Laws HA 1835 sect 72 & R(S)A 1984, sect 129.

Not only is it against the gorram law, but it's also really unfair. If you go cycling, you put people at risk. If you cycle on the road you primarily put yourself at risk, whereas if you cycle on the pavement you put other pedestrians at risk. The reasonable thing about cycling on the road, is that the person who is put at risk is the same person who makes the decision about whether to put that person at risk - you, the cyclist. It's an informed decision by the person most directly affected by the consequences.

On the other hand, if you cycle on the pavement, you turn the risk into an externality. You put other pedestrians at risk without even consulting them about it, let alone their consent. Putting other people at risk, without their consent, simply for your own convenience, is - in my book - pretty much the defintion of being an asshole.

So, please, knock that shit off and ride on the road or other designated cycle routes/tracks/lanes, you asshole.

If I can do it, so can you. If you're not willing to do it, find a mode of transport other than cycling. Oh, and though it's not very relevent right now, wear something visible and get some lights if you're going to ride at night, you idiot.

Happy summer solstice! + BBQ news
I hope you make better use of your longest day than I'm probably going to!

Anyway, axial tilt may be the reason for the season, but the elliptical eccentricity of our orbit as as good a reasonexcuse as any for a barbecue.

So, to celebrate this year's aphelion, or my anti-birthday, or the British Grand Prix (which I'll have on the telly), or just the nice weather, barbecue at mine on Sunday July 5th. Feel free to drop by from noonish. I'll light the coals for lunch around 1pm, and keep enough on hand that if people want to stick around into the evening that we can do that.

So, there's a thing.

I don't really care about football that much, and from what I've heard over the years the people involved in the mess probably have a few things to answer for, so on one hand I'm a bit "meh" about the whole thing.


Part of me worries a bit about the US/FBI acting as the international/world police here, having non-US citizens arrested on non-US soil, in a field of endeavour the US generally doesn't give a rat's ass about, for crimes that seem to have been committed generally outside of US territories, apart from the fact that the people those arrested did business with were US citizens using US banks. Especially alongside rumours that part of the reason for the action might be due to the US 2022 bid committee chairman Bill Clinton not being happy about losing out in the final shootout to Qatar. If someone with no actual political authority can get the freaking FBI to investigate you and come up with a pretext to get your local police to arrest you and renderextradite you to the US for enhancedinterrogation, then that's, well, about as scary as the rest of US foreign policy, I guess.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for doing more to prosecute white-collar crime. Especially where the sums involved are in the hundreds of millions and up. But it's interesting that the US will take on this high-profile case; while their determination to criminally prosecute predatory mortgage lenders, securitised debt traders, and other shady architects of the 2007-08 financial crisis - which has caused far more harm worldwide - is much less visible, or even existent.

On the other hand, one of the countries that actually cares about football probably should have stepped up to the plate and started this themselves a long time ago, so they've probably only got themselves to blame here.

The other thing though, is that the idea that money might have changed hands wrongfully is enough to get people talking about possibly revoking Qatar's win and re-running the vote, whereas having thousands of migrant workers die, and tens of thousands more become economic slaves, in order to build the stadia to host the games, was somehow acceptable. Oh, sure, FIFA probably weren't happy about the fact that their choice to award the tournament to a country without any worker safety considerations, caused the death of thousands of people. But it's all for the glory of football, right?

But corruption, that's somehow much more serious? More serious than thousands of people's freaking lives? WTF? Really, what is wrong with these people?

The Programming Talent Myth
This is an excellent keynote talk from PyCon 2015 about the image the programming industry projects about how people either "have talent" or do not, and how that discourages newcomers or amateurs - especially those who don't "look like" programmers - from taking their first steps into the field.

If you're thinking about taking some more steps, or possibly your first steps, into tech and programming, I highly recommend it.

The Programming Talent Myth

(via LWN.net)

Somewhat related to last year's retraction of "The Camel Has Two Humps"


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