pensées aléatoires

Monday 2 March 2009

Censorship on the internet

Filed under: politics — skolem @ 2:27 pm
Tags: , , ,

We all know about this, or at least most of the netizens, the censorship of the internet is big on the agenda of european governements. Be it the french idea of whitelists for free wifi acces[fr] by Christine Albanel or the germans various attempts at filtering internet traffic[de] pushed by Von der Leyen…

Those attemps have been well discussed, on other blogs[de] as well as by scientist. It’s very well known (by the politics as well[de]) that it won’t help the acknowledged goal of fighting child pornography. Not only are these not effective, but they have a high social cost, directly threatening freedom of speech and privacy rights as “collateral damage”.

If they didn’t know how to make us aware of that, they just managed to do it today:

There are various countries who are testing out such filtering software, one of them being Denmark. Obviously for the list of address to be effective, it has to be hidden. Something that doesn’t add to the transparency of the project. Such a listed leaked earlier in Sweden, with less that 1% of the sites having illegal content[en]. I can’t find the link again, but here is an amusing example of what is being filtered[en].

But the story that made me write this blog post is a different entirely. What Germany is now trying to censor is the actual reporting about those problems. I got the story from the law blog,[de] via twitter. I think the study of leaked filtering lists are very important, since they all tend to show how poor the selection is, making the argument for politics even more difficult. Well now one person linking to the list on wikileaks[de] has been searched by the german authorities and his material seized[de].

EDIT: i understood the story badly, it’s not for linking the list, it’s for linking a blog that links the list! Completement UBUÈSQUE!!

I can only cite the original blog post:

Bitte sehr: Gegen Sie zu,_Feb_2008 , und klicken Sie mal 30 bis 40 Links aus der Liste an. Sie müssen ja nichts kaufen.

Wie bitte, Sie trauen sich nicht? Sie haben Angst, sich strafbar zu machen? Haben sie denn das Grundgesetz nicht gelesen? Artikel 5 “Jeder hat das Recht, seine Meinung in Wort, Schrift und Bild frei zu äußern und zu verbreiten und sich aus allgemein zugänglichen Quellen ungehindert zu unterrichten.

In this sense: La liberté d’expression ne s’use que si on ne s’en sert pas

Today once again, i am an angry citizen. I’m wondering when the politics who gouvern me will cease to fail me…

Monday 5 January 2009

Back in germany

Filed under: news,Voyage — skolem @ 10:09 am
Tags: , , ,

So I’m in the thalys. Going back to Münster for a few Days. I spend all my holidays in Paris, mostly with my parents and my sister.

Seeing for a long time gave us the opportunity to talk a bit about politics which was really interresting. I met my cousin Jeanne yesterday and had a great discussion with her too. She is working a lot for a burkenese(is that right?) association, and it was really great to get more of the African perspective. Everytime I talk to her I realize I should spend some time there. It is also funny to see how her studies -philosophy, anthropology and sociology- shapes the way she talks but also how she considers things.

Discussing with all of them, as well as recent books I started to read and the events that are taking places since September have made me realize, in a much stronger and clearer way then ever before that the actual avatar of capitalism, the so called “financial capitalism” is really our main enemy in tge pursuit of better life and just society. Somehow we need to get rid of it if we want the situation to get any better, be it in africa, china or at home in France or Germany.

I will close with a citation by Rawls which I find a very interresting thought:

If the responsability of keeping care of an object is not given to an agent, the object tend to deteriorate.

The citation is approximate. It is introduced as moral justification of property. Somehow it would be interesting to see what would happen if stock holder (and CEO’s to a lesser extend) were accountable to society (or/and there employee’s) for the well being of the company they possess (or are in charge of). That would be the price to pay to take profits out of it.

Friday 12 December 2008

Stöckchen, Backlinks und T-shirts

Filed under: personnel — skolem @ 8:50 am
Tags: , , , , ,

So mein T-shirt habe ich jetzt auch, danke an den Jungs und Mädels bei 3Dsupply. Dann will ich auch das stöckchen von gedankenponie annehmen und weiter leiten:

Feed me!

ich, im letzten blogger “trend”

Irgendwie will ich nicht noch mal die ganze liste der teilnehmer hier posten, haben das schon genügend leute gemacht… Auf jedenfall haben wohl noch ein paar leute jenseits des T-Shirts von der aktion profitiert ;)
Teilnehmer und status der T-Shirt sendung kann man hier nachlesen.

Saturday 6 December 2008

online tools to learn japanese

Filed under: 日本 — skolem @ 3:19 pm
Tags: , , ,

the gateway

Originally uploaded by Dan65

Last Thursday i was asked by my Japanese class in Bielefeld if i could give them some links for a few online services i used to help me learn japanese. After some though i decided i could just transform it in a blog post.

My first acknowledgement should be that it is mostly based on a review from tofugu, i first saw there youtube video, but they also have it written down here. One thing one should say is that they address people of all kinds of level, some of the tools aren’t that great for bloody beginners like me… Anyway i would advise people to follow there blog since they always have nice information about everything surrounding the japanese language, sometimes even free classes!

When you are a beginner like me, there is only a few key things you should focus on i believe:

  • Vocabulary, you can’t learn enough of it, you have a whole language to learn at the start the learning curve is really steep. The absolute winner in that category is it’s absolutely great, completely free. Since Dafi (san?) was asking me about it, here’s how you can change it so that everything is in hiragana (no Kanji):

The iknow interfacefirst open the iknow interface, click on setting (top right corner)

options for the exercise

then go in the Quiz tab and choose Kana mode

Feel free to add me on iknow, i also created lists for the lessons we had. So if you prefer to focus on what we learned at class, thats not a problem either.

  • The second thing one needs is grammar, hands down best for that is Tae Kim’s Guide to japanese Grammar it’s really clear and good. Probably works best for my style of study since i favor theoritical approach and generally abstract rules a lot (I’m a mathematician what else could you expect…).
  • Now in order to understand how to use the vocabulary you just learn, you need a lot of good examples (at least i need), thankfully iknow is taking care of that in a really great way, having an audio file for each sentence by a native speaker is also a gift from heaven.

Those 2 services are by far the one i use the most for active learning. There are two other things i’d like to mention in that part:

  • The Yamasa Kanji online Dictionary is also very usefull when you study Kanji, they have three different fonts when displaying a Kanji, one of them being dynamic so that you can see how to write it. Onyomi, Kunyomi readings are also there which is convenient.
  • The second thing i will try to use, as a heard a lot of good about it, will be “Learning the Kanji”, but it’s a book and neither free nor online, so not so much in the scope of this post. They have a website though, where you can track your progress if i understood it correctly.

One thing i’d like to mention here is Lang-8, even though i have the impression it’s a little bit too early for me to write there (i hope to write an entry this weekend if i have time). This site is definitively worth a try, i think it will cost a lot of time to be active there, but that’s also where you will make the most progress, since you have to actively write in japanese i see it as a kind of ultimate test, you are only able to write what you truly know. It looks like a formidable site, i’m just a little bit scared of using it (and i haven’t foung the time till now).

Last but not least, if you happen to stumble on a site with some japanese text, or want to translate a few things, there are 2 option who are really great:

  • Rikaichan an absolutely great firefox add-on that translate on the flight the stuff your mouse is hovering on, defiitively a must have (firefox as well ;) )
  • WWWJDIC even though it has a slightly nerdy and ugly interface, it has a lot for it. It’s probably the most exact tool you can get for translation having a lot of usefull dictionary entrie (type of verb/adjective and so on), there is always a few sentences as example which is nice.

That’s it! I use frequently each of the service mentioned here, they’re all really good at what they do. At the end, I’d like to point out something Koichi mentionned in his video, these tools are not meant to replace a japanese class, there are here to support and help you improve your learning process, keep that in mind!

P.S. I completely forgot, you always can follow gefrierpunkt [de], to test how much of the old stuff you know, it’s a really nice read.

Friday 5 December 2008

ich will auch ein T-Shirt!


Vor Berghain/Panorama Bar mit einem xkcd T-shirt.

Leute die mich regelmässig sehen, wissen das ich ein großer Fan nerdiger T-shirt bin. Bis dato habe ich bei und questionabelcontent eigekauft, um die zeichner für die coolen comics zu unterstützen und natürlich auch weil ich die T-shirts super fand. Bei Thinkgeek auch viele geile sachen gefunden und auch ein paar T-shirts gekauft. Die neueste entdeckung dank gedankensolo ist 3Dsupply, bei denen habe ich zwar noch nichts gekauft, aber falls die aktion die sie gerade machen gut klappt werde ich mich in zukunft auch mal bei denen blicken lassen :)

Hier die aktion die das ganze ausgelösst hat:

Veröffentlichst du einen Beitrag in deinem Blog, in dem der Link auf unsere Seite enthalten ist, schicken wir dir das Shirt kostenlos in deiner Wunschgröße zu. Dabei muss nicht mal unsere unglaubliche Großzügikeit, das gute Karma beim Tragen unserer Shirts, die unzähligen weiteren Nerd-Artikel in unserem Shop, oder was auch immer erwähnt werden.

Hier der link zur anmeldung für die ganze Aktion: feed me!

P.S. beim schreiben (ziemlich sofort) habe ich gemerkt das der wordpress editor erneuert wurde, wirklich gut ist er jetzt :)

Tuesday 2 December 2008

truth, classical media and “new media”

Filed under: politics — skolem @ 9:39 am
Tags: , ,

Duty calls

comic courtesy of[en], thank you for the comic, for publishing in CC[en], and for existing in general (you make my day 3 times a week).

Yesterday i stumbled on a post on friendfeed[de] (thanks to franz for pointing it out), linking to an article of the Südeutsche Zeitung[de] warning people about risk of false information when getting news through so called “new” or “social media (friendfeed, twitter, blogs and the like). The funny part being that they made a mistake themselves (that they now have corrected).

There is a classical stance by the newspaper, that try to say that only their information can be trusted, everybody else failing to have that “journalist ethic” badly needed to give acurate information. This seems to fail more and more, or maybe, it is just pointed out more and more, and in a clearer way. Another example being a Times online article[en] published recently that was completely wrong. As far as i know it was debunked by Michael Arrington on Techcrunch[en].

What’s the lesson to be learned? Well every source of information can at times (some more often than others) give false information, you have to stay critical before everything you read.

I learned my hard lesson in a similar way recently, i was reading a really good article about the mistreatment of a french journalist by the police on Maitre Eolas’s blog[fr] as he announced, he described by the very detailed how the journalist was treated and then commented on how it was or not the procedure, of what was legal and what was common etc. Very good read, you learned a lot on how everyday justice works in france (it’s not beautiful to say the least). Only a few days later a read the related article in[fr], and it’s only then that i realised what was hidden behind the whole story: one more try of the gouvernement to scare journalist, to warn them to behave “well” (you know France is a democracy…). What’s the moral, i failed to see the big picture while reading Maitre Eolas’s blog, is he at fault? not at all, he even warned in the begining what he wanted to do. Actually the Le Monde article is much more partial and oppiniated then the blog, but sometimes that’s what ones need in order to get the big picture.

The good thing about blog’s and the likes is that you tend to be much more carefull when you read, i think it may be a blessing for the press, but eventually there claim to give but the truth and all the truth is bound to fail. Sometimes i wish that they simply assume being partial and stop publishing 3 lines article retelling an dpa, afp or reuters news. I don’t want to know what happened, i want to understand what happened.

Sunday 30 November 2008

Copyright and the state


Originally uploaded by stephen_downes

Ok here i go with the second post on copyright…

I want to talk about copyrighted material created by stated funded or state owned institutions.
The first occurrence of that happened to me last April, i wanted to visit the computer science class on databases. Now i was pretty busy, so i couldn’t really attend to the lecture more than once or twice… “Not a problem!” i thought, usually people leave extensive material on the internet, especially in cs classes. well that was kind of true, but to access it you needed to be a student of the university (i wasn’t at that time) and go through a fairly complicated registration process using the “Matrikelnummer” and other official data… That was the end of my effort to learn more about databases, at least in Münster.

Why am I saying this, well in a sense this effort to “hide” knowledge, to block access from the public, is basically what every university do when they publish copyrighted material. Why are expensive state funded research published on elsevier? It is so expensive that we couldn’t afford to have it at our institute… (it’s not that relevant for us either, explaining why we prefer not spending the money on them). That might be ok for private university, but for state funded research, the product belongs to the citizen and should be made accessible. I fail to see why university, whose purpose is to preserve, spread and create knowledge should make the teaching content it creates inaccessible to the people they serve (they are civil servants after all). The refreshing and novel approach of (private university Stanford) that gives their classes out for free on itunes and youtube, they aren’t the only one. For more university sharing content for free over the internet see open culture. On the subject of scientific publication i’d like to point to this great article by ars technica, who depicts the current struggle and surprises of the american congress while they where trying to open up acces to state funded medical research.

But that’s not the end, another hilarious story (via crunchgear) was about a student getting sued in germany for creating an iPhone app that was able to provided train schedules for public transport in Berlin, because there is a freaking copyright on the train schedule ! How dumb is that? Who does the train schedule belong to? I would probably in my lack of legal n´knowledge say to no one, or if anyone then the citizen of Berlin… Here you see the devastating effect of copyright on creativity…

I’d like to point out the last 2 posts i want to make on the subject (yeah it’s also for me to not forgett…):

  • “The copyright war” – on the disproportionity of the “two” adversary be it in courts or in lobying work.
  • Copyright in Europe, a menace for democracy? this is what motivated me in the first place to talk about copyright, i’d like to question if what we see at work in the law making process on the subject of copyright point out potential risk for democratie at european level.

Wednesday 26 November 2008

Intellectual property

Filed under: politics — skolem @ 5:59 am
Tags: , , , ,

it’s 4:46 in the morning and i can’t sleep… So i decided i could as well write a post i was postponing since at least mid October…

fuzzy copyright

Originally uploaded by PugnoM

The ones of you with which i regularly discuss politics – sometimes i feel there aren’t enough of those – knows that it’s a theme that interest me for a long time. Usually when i talk about it everybody suppose i want to talk about p2p, music and related problem. Actually i believe more and more that this is only a tiny little problem in a much bigger picture.

Traditionally intellectual property only applies to so called non-rival goods that is, goods that can be used/enjoyed by multiple people simultaneously. Intellectual property is then divided in different sections that don’t have much in common:

  • copyright, which affects intellectual work such as books, movies, music, pictures, art in general, but also software;
  • patent, which covers machine, goods ( composition of matter, article of manufacture), production processes;
  • trademark: logos, names;
  • industrial design and
  • trade secret.

Buy Some Intellectual Property

Originally uploaded by Majiscup – Drink for Design

I want to talk mostly about the two first. While not entirely similar there is an important difference that is easily noticeable: in the U.S. and Europe, the duration of a patent is typically of 10 to 20 years. As for copyright, in th U.S. it’s 70 years after the death of the author or if the work was a work for hire 120 year after creation or 95 years after publication, whichever is shorter, according to wikipedia. In Europe it is uniformely 70 years after death of the author, also according to wikipedia. Related to all of this is the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works which sets the minimal duration of copyright to be 50 years after the death of the author. Nobody can fail to see the humongus gap between the duration of copyright and patents…

I have no strong opinion with respect to patent, but for one thing: looking at this article from Techcrunch, where a company’s business model is to get money for not suing other companies for patent infrigement, seems totally wrong. And yes it looks llike it’s not only legal but also profitable… There seem to be a huge business around paterns that neither promote creativity nor is usefull to the general public in any way shape or form. It would be interesting to find ways to cut this business down as it costs real companies a lot, a price that is in the end taken care of by the customers.

As i am trying to shorten my posts, i will talk about copyright in a second voley of this (maybe longer) serie.

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Ideas for a political blog

Filed under: politics — skolem @ 12:10 am
Tags: , , ,

Parlement Europeen (Strasbourg)

Originally uploaded by PizzaDeBarr

I’m more and more concerned about the evolution of our democracy. It’s not like I believe there will be something awful that will happen anytime soon. It’s just that I am wondering how I, or any other citizen here, could use new media and possibilities to somehow make it better, one small step at a time.

thanks to 96dpi i stumbled upon this site and i was wondering if one could not push the idea further:

Create a blog (possibly with multiple authors).

For every measure that is taken either in your national parliament, or in the European parliament, that you feel you have a strong opinion on, write the delegate that is representing you an open letter that you post on that blog. In that open letter, explain the problem, if he took a stance on the problem (that is the one you also have) remind him of it. Ask him to vote in your sense for that motion/law/decision or to motivate why he will not. Ask him if you can publish that motivation, if he agrees publish it.

Then make a blog post about how the decision passed, and if the information is available, how your delegates did vote.

At the next election where he is presenting himself again, draw a balance of how much he respected his election promises. Ask him and any other candidate to take a clear stance on the matters.

The idea is to make elected persons more accountable for the decision they are taking. Do you think it would help? If yes anybody who would like to join me on such a project?

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Like a Hamster

Filed under: math — skolem @ 11:38 pm
Tags: , , ,

Recently as i was going to my office, i saw that the neighboring office was open. Since i had not seen Guntram for a while i decided to stop by and say hallo. This ended up being a fatal error. This evil guy,


Guntram explaining some complicated stuff (or is he just taking a pose?)

had brought some equipment with him. Unsuspecting, i started to toy around with it, quickly forgetting the time flying by… Somehow, we mathematicians are, i believe, strongly attracted to problems that look quite simple on first glance, but are actually very deep. This one was one of those and is to the mathematician what a wheel is to a hamster…


The culprit and a pretty good book

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