Monday, December 6, 2010

Wikileaks? What Wikileaks?

Napolen would know how to deal with Wikileaks:

In politics... never retreat, never retract... never admit a mistake.

Its simple. Pretend they do not exist. Here's how the Prime Minister of Slovenia Borut Pahor handled his personal dealings with the Charge d'Affairs at the US Embassy in Ljubljana to get 20 minutes in the White House with Obama:

Here is the relevant part of the cable:
"In a one-on-one pull-aside with CDA ((Charge d'Affairs)), Pahor linked acceptance of detainees to "a 20-minute meeting" with POTUS ((President of the US)) ... 
"Pahor reiterated that he would be willing to make the case,  but in a one-on-one pull-aside with CDA, the PM gently - but unambiguously - linked success on detainee resettlement to a meeting with President Obama. He said that "a 20-minute meeting" with POTUS would allow him to frame the detainee question as an act of support for Slovenia's most important ally and evidence of a newly-reinvigorated bilateral relationship. 

And this is the relevant part of the transcript from Borut Pahor's press conference a few days after the leak:
"It would be below my dignity, below my dignity, I would be ashamed, if me or my coworkers would say to anyone that we would accept one of the Guantanamo detainees if we would be received at the White House with President Obama".

And finally a comment from the new US Ambassador to Slovenia H.E. Mussomeli:
"Pahor is an honorable man".

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Linking in Open Access Publications

The recent move by LinkedIn - that lets me enter my bibliography - could mark a beginning of a new chapter of Open Access Scientific Publishing and more. It is a small step. Today they do not even allow full texts to be attached. But if they develop the idea further, add commenting, reviewing, favoring, grouping etc. it could bring all the benefits of social networks to the exchange and evaluation of scientific ideas. It is in fact absurd, that collaboration and networking tools are much better when it comes to collaborating on your hobbies (which is not col-labor-ating ... labor as in work) then collaborating on the frontiers of science and innovation.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I Like Ike

Here are a few paragraphs from Eisenhower's farewell radio address of 1961 (via Relevant to the general debate on the European Innovation Union and the debate in Slovenia on the Higher Education Program and The Innovation Strategy.
Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.
The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Perls from Spain

I'm in Seville, Spain, at a final review of an EU project. The only other meeting I was at was the kick off. Some three years ago. Also in Spain. In between I did many things. Among others I was Secretary General of the Wise Men Group chaired by Felipe Gonzalez. From Spain.

And while I sit here in a bar without internet connection, in Spain, I am reading an old talk by Larry Page. Brilliant talk. Larry invented Perl. The last language I programmed in before I took a sabbatical in politics.

I miss programming. By programming you create. You don't just talk about creation. And ...

... there is more than one way to do things in Perl.

I was a liberal when computer programming. Not a progressive. A liberal. And Larry Page Wall is a liberal:

The very fact that it’s possible to write messy programs in Perl is also what makes it possible to write programs that are cleaner in Perl than they could ever be in a language that attempts to enforce cleanliness.

True greatness is measured by how much freedom you give to others, not by how much you can coerce others to do what you want.

Personally, I think the Perl slogan, There’s More Than One Way To Do It, applies outside of Perl as well as inside. I explicitly give people the freedom not to use Perl, just as God gives people the freedom to go to the devil if they so choose.

He demonstrates that computer programming is applied philosophy ...

A universal truth only has to be true about our particular universe. It doesn’t much matter whether the universe itself is true or false, just as long as it makes a good story. And I think our universe does make a good story. I happen to like the Author.

... and psychology:

Imagine, open source is merely a byproduct of our need for family.

I will conclude with a quote for my spiritual friends:

How is duct tape like the Force? It has a light side, and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.

This is deeper than most of the Dawkinsian arguments about the non-existence of God.

-- Written on my iPad with BlogPress.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Two for the price of one

This post is about two issues that are troubling me on the iPad. None would be worth the trouble writing about in the first place, but together ...

First, this is a test if one can blog using Blogpres. Obviously it is not impossible, but this is no major achievement. In fact it is another reminder of how brain damaged the Safari for iPad is. Blogger has a very good browser editing interface which includes spell checking, insertion of images, links etc. Blogpress is little more than a text editor. Lucky that I remember how to code HTML directly. But I am not going to. Blogpress is not worth to be a commercial app. Period.

Secondly, I am really unhappy with the Twitter clients on iPad.

Twitterrific would be my favorite. It treats lists quite similarly as any other feed. But has a poor update algorithm and does not report what feed has new items to read. Also, at $5 for the multiaccount version, it is quite expensive.

Osfoora has perhaps the most powerfull management options. The only thing I was unable to do was create a new list. But it is a pain to read lists which is a show stopper for me. Allows to copy text inside the built-in browser which I like.

Heltweetica has too small icons for replies etc., seems slow at times and it is not very nice visually.

Tweet Time is buggy when it comes to rendering on screen. Very powerful management options. Lacks a light theme. A client with a lot of potential.

Twitter's official client has an immature GUI. One struggles with that most of the time. Again, lists are treated very differently than replies, direct messages etc.

TweetDeck was full of bugs the last time I tried.

The wait for a perfect twitter client continues. And for a blog editing tool as well.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Eckhart Tolle on iPad

What is your relationship with the world of objects, the countless things that surround you and that you handle ever day? The chair you sit on, the pen, the car, the cup? Are they to you merely a means to an end, or do you occasionally acknowledge their existence, their being, no matter how briefly, by noticing them and giving them your attention?

When you get attached to objects, when you are using them to enhance your worth in your own eyes and in the eyes of others, concern about things can easily take over your whole life.

Not really. Tolle wrote this before iPad was invented. But I guess iPad, for some, is the extreme case of what he writes about. Agree?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I Want a NetPad

We've seen the iPad. The best thing about it is that it will start a trend of cheap, affordable, useful tablet devices. Here is the tablet I am in the market for:
  1. Tablet format. It is a good idea, but hasn't been done right yet. It does not create a "laptop wall" at meetings. Draws less attention, makes you less pretentious than if you put a laptop on your restaurant table or open it up on a train. You can hold a tablet while doing a talk, discussion, lecture ... but not a laptop.
  2. A4 size exact, like all the paper I carry around. Reason: so that it does not draw attention if I put it with a stack of paper on the desk.
  3. 15 hours declared, 10 hours real battery life. I want to make one day trips to Brussels without a power supply.
  4. Would sacrifice color for longer battery life greyscale screen, usable in bright sunshine, 720p resolution minimum, 1080p optimum. Pixel density is everything if you want to read books or newspapers. I will watch movies and play games on a big screen TV or something that does not require me to hold the device up in my hands.In the cinema, I don't have to hold the screen.
  5. USB host and client. Host, so that I can give and take files from people on USB stick, connect devices such as wireless keyboard, camera, MP3 player, phone ... Client for easy upload of files and syncing with desktop.
  6. WiFi in 3G with standard SIM. You can bet 3G will be available at the boring meeting.
  7. VGA out. If I need to show a couple of slides or drawings to the audience with a beamer. HDMI optional.
  8. Mic and headphone jacks, built in mic and speakers.
  9. SD card reader. To expand storage and allow me to carry additional files with me.
  10. 80 GB of internal storage so that "omnia mea mecum porto". 
  11. Full featured terminal for the cloud, running Firefox and Dropbox.
  12. Runs full Microsoft or Open Office. If I read something, I want to be able to annotate it, make comments etc. Just like on the big machine. Why learn two environments.
  13. Runs Evernote, so that even if I read a book or newspaper, I can take notes.
A netbook with a touchscreen instead of a keyboard comes pretty close. I guess they could offer something like this for $299 by Christmas.

PS. I would also be interested in a smaller device, some 125x210mm, that would fit into a jacket pocket. Willing to compromise on Office at that size, but a decent viewer with annotations desired.