Notes about UNIX/Linux coding pragmatics

I thought that his page was a short and interesting read. Some tips are obvious (use header files), some less obvious (use const, static, and assert), and some are things that I really need to start doing consistently (program and version strings, get_opt_long).

Update: a long list of style guides is available at

Feminism loses out again?

XYZ Computing is carrying a story on how Agetec is making a stand against the objectification of women as “booth babes” at this year’s E3.

I think this is an admirable motion and I’m really looking forward to at least one company at E3 not plastering their booth with half-naked women extolling the virtues of the companies latest sexually-charged… golf game. Oh wait, quite a few companies don’t use booth “babes”. In fact, I think Nintendo make a point of dressing their staff in fairly conservative clothes (knee-length shorts and polo shirts) pretty much every year.

The problem seems to be that merely passively not objectifying women doesn’t make headlines. No, you need to hire “unattractive women” and hand out “granny’s panties” with your logo on them. At least that’s the impression I got from the slashdot post before I read the actual article it refers to which no mention of looking for particular unattractive women, just “real people who enjoy video games.”

Now I’m a little confused. Should I be mad at AgeTec because of the “granny’s panties” thing (or is that just bad taste)? Should I be mad at the Slashdot poster who translates “real people” to “unattractive women” (talk about setting high standards!)? Or should I be happy that there is at least some form of backlash against half-naked women selling me golf games?

The transformation of J Allard

This is an interesting article on the transformation of J Allard. He certainly looks different and gives hope to geeks everywhere. I think that the tone of the article was a bit harsh. I don’t see anything wrong with someone wanting to change their “look” if it makes them happy or helps their career. (Not that they should have to!)

For more high-resolution, back-lit J Allard goodness download the .tiff file from his homepage. It’ looks perfect for framing.

Commercial use of blogs

I was watching Media Watch yesterday and saw a blurb with Rupert Murdoch talking about how Fox may consider using blogs to supplement their news coverage. I don’t know if he was talking about using blog feeds or actually hiring bloggers to post specifically for Fox.

However, this got me thinking about blogs: who owns the information and who can reproduce it? I hate the idea of large media companies charging subscriptions for their content and then supplementing their coverage with other people’s blogs. Is it possible to have an content license in which commercial use of your blog requires payment? Talking a page out of “their” book, it could just be an unnoticable micropayment. 🙂

I think that it’s a good idea to have a license declaration on this website. I would personally lean toward the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 license. What about everyone else?

VSU ramblings

I don’t seem to be able to go 50 metres anywhere on campus without seeing some anti-VSU (Voluntary Student Unionism) propaganda. The thing I don’t understand is how the union hopes to convince students that they should be required by law to pay whatever fees the union sets. This is a far bigger ask than simply championing the value of being a union member. They are asking for a blank cheque from all current and future students. It’s a notion that I can only positively describe as “ballsy” and pessimistically describe as “condescending”.

If there is an ethical argument for CSU (Compulsory Student Unionism) I would really like to hear it. This website has a number of links to both sides of the argument. The most important link is probably the one to the who can you trust page that details the interests of the groups involved. The major arguments against VSU have nothing to do with the concept and everything to do with practicality: where will the funding come from? Well, that’s an entirely different issue.

In the end, I admit that my personal view on the union’s campaign is right on the line. I’m just not sure if I sit on the “you can’t blame them for trying” or the “they should really know better” side of things. My view on “where the funding should come from” is more cut and dry. I strongly feel that any required services should be funded by government. Student fees are a barrier to university entry and undermine a basic right to education.

XBOX 360: boiled frog?

I have a few mixed feelings about the XBOX 360. I don’t care that they decided to launch it on MTV, or that it’s breaking the “traditional 5 year console life cycle”, and I am impressed with the hardware specifications. However, what concerns me is the increased dependency on Microsoft as a sole service provider and the long-term plans for the XBOX platform.

XBOX 360 is a means of getting people onto XBOX Live. Microsoft gives you a single gamer tag for all your online games. This gamer tag is stored on a Microsoft server somewhere where I assume they monitor your browsing, music, and gameplay preferences to build a profile to sell you (and people like you) more things. Aside from the “big brother” aspect that may put off Linux geeks and conspiracy theorists, there is another big negative implication.

How much is your gamer tag worth? Let’s say it stores your ranking and everything you own in every online game you play. That’s the whole world to a hardcore gamer and probably many hours to a casual gamer. Who owns your gamer tag? It’s held by Microsoft. It’s in a proprietary format. You can’t take it with you to other platforms. If game progress and reputation are the only currency in the online gaming world, Microsoft is the central bank and the only way to access your account is through the XBOX platform.

Microsoft isn’t the only player in online gaming, but they clearly hope to be, with all games required to store their information in a Microsoft format on a Microsoft server. This is exactly why EA supported the PS2’s online model and took so long to finally offer support for XBOX Live. XBOX may aim to change the world, but some things won’t change: Sony makes hardware, Nintendo makes games, and Microsoft makes monopolies.

Note: I completely understand if you can’t make sense of the title. I heard the term “boiled frog” for the first time on a slashdot thread a week or so ago. There’s a good explaination here.

Pics from my house to work

I had the work camera, so I took a bunch of pics on the way to work. Just things I found interesting including: an OpenGL logo ripoff (you be the judge!), construction work *just outside my window!*, the “phantom arsehole” grafitti (ask Jim about it), cool trees, massive spiders, old-school buildings, and my kickass workspace.

Check out the index for thumbnails. Does anyone know a good “thumbnailed gallery” generator for GNU/Linux?