diary at Telent Netowrks

I keep opening up this file to write something related to the#

Tue, 02 Apr 2002 01:17:27 +0000

I keep opening up this file to write something related to the ongoing comp.lang.lisp thread(s) on free^WFree software, then my will deserts me again. I've just got through reading (more accurately, skimming) all the stuff that happened over the weekend, so let's try again.

Free software may destroy the market for proprietary software. It would be unfortunate if that happened insofar as employees and owners of proprietary software companies would have to find something else to do. It's unfortunate that companies leveraging the expressiveness and flexibility of Lisp are adversely affecting the owners and employees of companies trying to do the same thing in 8080 assembler. It's unfortunate that the invention and subsequent production of the spade caused all the people previously employed to dig holes with their bare hands to go out of business.

So it's not just a free software problem, it's a technology problem. The technologies that were supposed to increase our leisure time have actually managed to increase the leisure time of some people to all of the time, and left other people working 80 hour weeks.

What can we do? We can pretend the whole thing will go away if we ignore it. We can decide that some people (e.g. Lisp vendors) are more valuable than others (hot metal press operators) and therefore only some jobs are worth safeguarding. Or what else? Work less? (Suits me, anyway ;-)


Still alive, if anyone was wondering#

Mon, 08 Apr 2002 00:22:42 +0000

Still alive, if anyone was wondering.

FTX13 didn't happen, and I expect will be continuing to not happen in future months (a total of two people commented on its nonappearance). It was dull to write, it was probably dull to read. With any luck the forthcoming Yadda Lambda should be more interesting. Personal opinions (which are, frankly, a good deal more fun to talk about anyway) continue to be opined here as and when.

OxLUG meeting today; Russell Coker talked on the NSA's Security-Enhanced Linux (and here). Interesting stuff. Per-process security domains are neat, but of course mean that you have to split stuff up into many Unix processes to get any advantage from it; a single proicess running Lisp that starts life at boot time is not going to be helped by this. Sigh. Unix is a bad fit for the traditional Common Lisp model. And vice versa. Do we think that eventually Unixheads will figure out some sane way to let a process gain and relinquish privileges withing exec()ing anything (apparently the Hurd can do this. Does anyone use the Hurd?) or do we think that each of the two communities will use this as further evidence that the other has a basically misguided outloook?

So, yes, the separate-memory-space processes-invoked-by-exec() Unix model is limiting: let's face it, (string) is not an adequately rich library of data types to build reliable systems by composing Unix "components". On the other hand, there is a clear need in today's systems for protecting one process from another, and there's presently nothing better than the Unix model for doing this. Anyone who claims that the lisp package system is capable of this is welcome to give me an account on their system and let me try to break it. ssh public key available on request.

Threading: see http://sourceforge.net/mailarchive/forum.php?thread_id=625342&forum_id=4134#

Thu, 11 Apr 2002 19:50:45 +0000

Threading: see http://sourceforge.net/mailarchive/forum.php?thread_id=625342&forum_id=4134. We can run a repl in a thread. We can run threads that read and write from files. We have a working SLEEP function.

Still need lots of process control stuff (run/arrest reasons, killing a running thread, pause/continue, etc). Still need a locking implementation that does more than a NOP. Still need to find the cause of some as-yet unexplained segvs. Would like to find out why we need to zero unused portions of control stack quite as often as we do, given that GC only scavenges the active bit anyway.

In the course of recompiling it yesterday I managed to run my host compiler out of dynamic space. OK, so also need (1) a host compiler with bigger spaces (building now) and slightly more graceful out-of-space behaviour than an unexplained segmentation fault.

In other news, I think I pulled a muscle somewhere in my neck, or something. Falling asleep on the sofa was not such a smart idea, I guess.

Do you ever get angry#

Sun, 28 Apr 2002 18:30:29 +0000

Do you ever get angry?

Do you ever get so angry that sometimes your face reddens, your fists involuntarily clench, your stomach tightens, the vein on your forehead starts throbbing, your pupils narrow, and a small pool of blood wells up in your eye socket and trickles down your cheek?

If so, seek professional help. Especially about the bit with the blood. That's just gross.

The rest of you can take this short test:

  1. Think of an integer between 0 and 100 inclusive
  2. Double it and add 7
  3. Shut your eyes
  4. If you can still read step 4, you're probably cheating

Users of text-to-speech systems, Braille interfaces, and other web interfaces that don't involve the usual photon stuff are exempt from this diagnosis.

On Monday I went to the #

Wed, 01 May 2002 01:39:37 +0000

On Monday I went to the Campaign for Digital Rights Miniconference on the European Copyright Directive. If you live in the UK and ever read books, or listen to records, or use software, you should probably be concerned. A lot of people are reasonably concerned about the effects of digital copying on their industries, but legislating that it's illegal to break the copy protection (even when you have a legitimate use, like needing to transfer software to your new computer, or lending books from a library, or ...) is not the Right Answer. The software industry shelved copy protection a decade ago because users didn't like it; do we have to go through the same thing again?

Before the conference, 5pm tube travel reminded me quite sharply why I moved out of London.

After the conference, beer. After beer, pizza. After pizza, bus back from Islington to central London, and coach back to Oxford, arriving around 3am.

Today, new asdf version. Actually mostly done on the coach down to London yesterday. Also registered for the UKUUG Linux Developers' Conference. If you haven't already done likewise, you just missed the early rate. Update: uh, no you didn't. I was confused with OLS: the UKUUG early rate runs for another month yet.