Archive for February, 2006

Computerworld – Computer-Nobel til dansk it-ikon

Sunday, February 26th, 2006

Computerworld – Computer-Nobel til dansk it-ikon

Det Danske ComputerWorld skriver at professor emeritus Peter Naur tildeles prisen “Turing Award”, der uddeles af Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). Det må siges at være fortjent. Professor Naur har ydet en stor indsats for at udvikle datalogien som en videnskabelig disciplin. I det praktiske har jeg ofte anvendt metoder som professor Naur har været med til at udvikle, specielt Backus-Naur (BNF og EBNF) notationen.

Nedenfor er et citat fra computerworld.dks artikel:

Det danske it-ikon Peter Naur, der i 1966 opfandt ordet “datalogi” som en dansk version af “computer science”, er ifølge Københavns Universitet blevet tildelt den internationalt anerkendte hæderpris Turing Award.

Eksterne henvisninger:

Kim Bach’s Google Home Page

Saturday, February 25th, 2006

Kim Bach’s Google Home Page

I’m usually not promoting new Google services – since they promote themself – but Google has just launched a promissing new service, called Google Page Creator. Using Google Page Creator you can quickly create and maintain your own, simple, web-site.

All you need to get started, is a Gmail account, and a modern browser, and you’re ready to log in and start creating your home page, and with 100MB of storage you have a lot of freedom. Google Page Creator has the look and feel of all the other Google services, so you should feel at home if you’re familiar with, for instance, Gmail.
(more…)

DMCA axes sites discussing Mac OS for PCs | CNET News.com

Tuesday, February 21st, 2006

DMCA axes sites discussing Mac OS for PCs | CNET News.com

As it might have caught the senses of Apple watchers, a number of sites have been discussing, and recently posting detailed information on, how to circumvent the security protocols built into OS X, making it possible to install and boot OS X on non-Apple, Intel based, hardware.

Well, Apple has taken legal action against these sites, claiming that they’re violating the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), by even publishing links to circumvention techniques.

So why is Apple so protective, wouldn’t it be better if Apple started to offer OS X to everyone?
(more…)

BBC NEWS | Technology | Malicious worm aims to bite Apple

Saturday, February 18th, 2006

BBC NEWS | Technology | Malicious worm aims to bite Apple

A Worm, or rather a Trojan, called Leap-A, has reared it’s ugly head on OS X.

Apple has labelled as malicious software rather than a worm or virus, and this is correct, since it doesn’t propagate by itself.

But…This was bound to happen. I too often hear Mac users talk about the immunity of the Apple platform, and I agree 100% with the comments made by BBC commentator Bill Thompson in January. Bill Thompson is a long-time Mac user, and he points out that Apple users have been ‘too smug’ over security .

I’ve repeatedly pointed in Internet forums, out that writing malicious software for Mac OS X, should be at least as easy as it is on Windows, due to the high level of ‘programmability’ that is possible with Mac OS X.

This should be a wake-up call, but I’ve noticed that the people that always argue that Mac OS X is invulnerable, are extremely quiet these days.

So do you need to install anti-virus software on Mac OS X? I’d strongly advise that you do that, a good reason is that it will stop you from unknowingly forward infected files, that are targeting Windows, to your friends.

So far I’ve had the ClamXav recommended. ClamXav is based on the Open Source anti-virus progam ClamAV.

Turn any iPod into an iPod Shuffle in 3 easy steps! on Flickr – Photo Sharing!

Wednesday, February 15th, 2006

Turn any iPod into an iPod Shuffle in 3 easy steps! on Flickr – Photo Sharing!

This sent me LOL…Guess I was seduced by the Apple marketing hype as well, with my “ODE to the shuffle” from last week.

Now…I don’t think that I’d cry if Apple should decide to drop the shuffle, or even fit it with a screen. What I’d miss is the auto-fill feature and the 5 button user interface, which I love.

Wired News: NeXT Fans Give Up the Ghost

Wednesday, February 15th, 2006

Wired News: NeXT Fans Give Up the Ghost

Guess what…More on the NeXT. The Bay Area NeXT Group (BANG) finally disappeared in 2005.

The NeXT computer was a groundbreaking pc design, pioneering things like optical drives, large displays.

One amazing aspect was the system came bundled with a huge amount of software, including software development tools and a soft library that included the complete works of William Shakespeare.

NeXT computer struggled selling less than 50,000 units, and they stopped producing hardware in the early 90-ies. The operating system NeXTSTEP lived on, and was ported to the Intel platform. Finally NeXT was acquired by Apple, and NeXTSTEP became the foundation of OS X.

NeXTSTEP also lives on in the Open Source project, GNUSTEP. A very interesting project, and there’s no doubt that the NeXTSTEP frameworks and development tools are very good and productive, but the GUI is definitely showing it’s age.

Saffo: essays: Why the Next Computer Is Like the DeLorean Automobile

Wednesday, February 15th, 2006

Saffo: essays: Why the Next Computer Is Like the DeLorean Automobile

Just stumbled upon this interesting essay, written in 1990 at the time NeXT launched their 2nd generation Workstations. The article compares the NeXT computer with the DeLorian. Good, almost prophetic points, are being made. The design concepts of the DeLorian was adopted by Detroit, and NeXT was eventually acquired by Apple, and the NeXT legacy lives on in the core of the Apple.

What hasn’t happened is that the computer industry, still largely in it’s infancy, hasn’t really seen a consolidation into a “big three”. Today we’re seeing an increasing amount of garage start-ups, thanks to the DIY software tools that are being made. Who could have predicted that an Open Source operating system offered for Free, made practical by a Finish student, could become a serious contender for a “big three” spot.

I’d rather compare the computer industry today, with the time following the rediscovery of mechanised printing by Guttenberg. Thanks to the Internet, projects – many of them with highly questionable business models – are made possible through a global, largely volunteer, work force, willing to invest time to make the projects happen.

At the time when the article was written, the computer industry was largely hardware driven, today it is software driven. The “big three” today are all software companies, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP.

Computer hardware has been commoditised, and only Apple and SUN remains as suppliers of complete solutions, with branded hardware and software. SUN has already changed their strategy towards Open Sourcing their software, and offering Linux as the operating system. At some point Apple will have to follow suit, as the commoditised hardware and software bundles, catches up with the pure aesthetics of OS X. It will, in many ways, be a sad day, because what makes the Mac such a compelling platform, is the fact, that the hardware and software fits so well together.

Finally I return to the topic…It is true that there’s a lack of innovation in the hardware market, and the last real innovation we saw, might have been the NeXT cube, the clamshell configuration of the ordinary laptop, made popular by Toshiba.

Hitchhickers Guide to the Globe. Denmark? MOSTLY Harmless!

Friday, February 10th, 2006

I’d sworn that I wouldn’t comment on the prophet Muhammad “Salla Allahu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam” cartoon controversy since “Blogsphere” is overflowing with it. But just check the Tehnorati stats, as of this writing 50+ blog posts that are tagged with Denmark are posted daily, up from close to noting two weeks ago. Denmark is currently the top 5 or so Technorati tag. Denmark is definitely caught in the buzz and the flow these days.

What prompted my to start writing this article, which might be revised over the next couple of days, was the BBC article below:

BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Danish Muslims split over cartoons

And especially this quote made me think of one of my all time favourite books “The Hitchhickers Guide to the Galaxy (THHGTTG)” By Douglas Adams (r.i.p.):

For many Danes the past two weeks have been surreal.

Since the time when many Danes helped thousands of Jews to safety from German-occupied Denmark in World War II, the Scandinavian country has had a reputation for being peace-loving and harmless.

Why was I triggered by this, well for those who aren’t familiar with the novel “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”, the “HHGTTG” is an electronic encyclopaedia, that contains all the information you need, if you’re going to travel through the Galaxy on a shoestring budget, but, more important, it has the words “DON’T PANIC” printed in large friendly letter on the back-cover. Another thing, one of the main characters in the novel is actually a writer for the real “HHGTTG”, visiting Earth to elaborate on the entry about Earth. So after 10 years stranded on Earth he has to hitch a ride, you’ll have to read the novel to find out why, and before doing so he managed to submitted his new edited entry after 10 years of research…
What did it read before the edit:
“Earth: Harmless”
What does it read after the edit:
“Earth: MOSTLY Harmless”

This is EXACTLY how it feels like being a Danish national these days, let’s hope Denmark doesn’t suffer the same fate that Earth did in “HHGTTG”.

Denmark has been hitching a ride on the rocky road of Internationalism and Globalisation, blind to the fact that it could have dire consequences if you don’t tread carefully.

To add to the controversy H.R.H. Queen Margrethe has been gravely misquoted in an article that was featured in the Daily Telegraph last year (quoted without permission):

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark has called on the country “to show our opposition to Islam”, regardless of the opprobrium such a stance provokes abroad.

What she said was: “det er afgørende, at vi giver Islam et modspil.”, the problem is the translation of the word ‘modspil’ doesn’t translate into “opposition” but rather “dialogue”, so the translation of the sentence could be (beware I’m not a scholar, and it’s not a literal translation) “it is important that we engage in a dialogue with Islam”.

H.R.H Queen Margrethe has earlier, actually in the mid 80’ies, been quite outspoken against racism, and what she refereed to as the “stupid remarks/jokes” (Danish: dum-smarte bemærkninger) that Danes are so fond of when it comes to everything, including the influx of immigrants and refugees from Islamic countries, that we began to receive in numbers in the 80’ies. She does however label her 1984 remarks as being “naive”, today.

So why do we Danes always joke around like that? Well my theory is (keep in mind that I’ve lived as a Dane since my birth, so I might know something about the subject):
At the bottom of their soul the Danish people, are very insecure and doubtful of their own abilities, a concept refereed to as the Jantelov, e.g. The Commandments or Law of Jante, “you’re useless – du skal ikke tro du er noget”. To cover over this general feeling of being worthless and useless we hide behind often self-depreciating or “if you make fun of me I’ll make fun of you child-like behaviour” resulting in jokes of a highly questionable quality.

So we thought we were harmless? No we’re MOSTLY harmless! “Wake up and smell the coffee” (Danish: “hold op med at vade rundt i spinatbedet”), in a Global village you can’t assume that everybody (anybody?) understand that we’re actually harmless when we hide behind childish jokes.

I’ve done my share of mistakes. I’ll let you in on my number one blooper:
In the mid 90’ies I was attending a conference in Cannes, France where I was sitting at a lunch table with the founder and CEO of an American software company. The company developed database software, and I joked that we might be “able to write curse words in SQL (SQL is a standardised mathematical programming language that is a cornerstone of all databases) and have them execute since SQL is a universal language!” He looked at me like I was crazy (bingo!), and I didn’t even suggest any four letter words! Boy did I learn a lesson in when to avoid “dum-smarte bemærkninger”, I wanted to disappear into the nearest hole in the ground.

And finally, let’s try to put to the myth that Denmark was such a saint during WWII, into perspective. Since the beginning of the occupation on April-9th 1940, the Danish government adopted a so called “policy of co-operation” towards the German Wehrmacht, effectively collaborating with the Germans, even to the extend of persecuting Danish nationals and turning them over to the Germans. Finally in august 1943, a general strike broke out, martial law was decreed and the “policy of co-operation” was finally replaced with a true reign of terror, with a lot of crimes being committed by the Germans assisted by Danish nationals, that had been hired into the Hilfspolizei (HIPO).

Due to the “policy of co-operation”, Denmark was often refereed to as “Hitler’s Canary”, this was later modified to the “Savage Canary”, after the breakdown of the policy of co-operation in 1943. that was a result of the growing popular resistance towards the German occupation forces. It’s true that many Jews were rescued by escaping to netural Sweden crossing the narrow waters of Øresund, and that there were many acts of heroism, but remember that it was also a lucrative business for some of the people that were organising this human trafficking, but this has to be seen in the context that these people they ran a high personal risk. The main, unfortunate, fallout of the policy of co-operation was that Denmark actually supplied Germany with up to 25% of their food supplies, actually helping in prolonging the war. The true heroes of the time were the Danish resistance that defied their own government, a government that had the audacity to refer to the freedom fighters as saboteurs, that should be reported to the proper authorities. The resistance wasn’t unfailable however, and they did perform summary executions, and there were several cases of injustice, especially in the days following the liberation, where everybody, overnight, were part of the resistance.

In the defence of the policy of co-operation, one must, of course, take into consideration, that it would have been very difficult for the Danish government to react differently. It was impossible to negotiate with the Germans, just see what happened to the Dutch, when they resisted the occupation, and finally had to negotiate a conditional surrender to avoid having Rotterdam bombed…Well, the Germans went ahead with the bombing anyway. The same could have happened in Denmark, and you have to question to what use that would have been.

If I was a writer for “The Hitchhickers Guide to the Galaxy”, I’d consider updating the article on Denmark from “harmless” to “MOSTLY harmless”. Ok so the Wikipedia article is a bit more elaborate, and doesn’t include the word “harmless” – too POV I suspect ;-).
(editor: POV (Point Of View) – as opposed to the traditional of NPOV (Neutral Point Of View) approach of Wikipedia).

Returning to my reluctance of engaging in the nightmare of “Blogsphere”…”Blogsphere” these days reminds me of “Vogsphere”: “You wouldn’t know a good idea if it came up and slapped you in the face”. Maybe unlimited freedom of expression isn’t that great afterall…People please BOTHER to do some investigation of the matter before you post anything, it’s called research. And please show cultural sensitivity.

To quote Rodney King: “Can we get along here? Can we all get along?”

Sources:

BBC NEWS | Technology | Apple unveils cut-price iPod nano and MY ode to the shuffle

Wednesday, February 8th, 2006

BBC NEWS | Technology | Apple unveils cut-price iPod nano

Well…In keeping with tradition, commenting all the new product launches made by Apple, rather than spending my time speculating (too much) about the mysterious ways in which the infinite loop moves…Apple has, as expected, just announced a 1GIG iPod nano, and that they’re lowering the price of the iPod shuffle.

The biggest news is that the shuffle hasn’t been sent to the scrapheap – wow an Apple iPod product without any updates for more than a year, except a price cut – a first?

I’m happy that the little fellow is still with us. The shuffle really offers a completely different approach to portable digital music, I’d go as far as to call it a philosophy, than any other player on the market (besides the ill fated Motorola ROKR phone).
(more…)