Sunday 30 November 2008

Prior Art

One thing the 'blogosphere' provides is a place for ideas to be voiced early.

In doing so, presumably this establishes 'prior art' when the idea is widely adopted.

In the spirit of this... I make the following prediction.
Ubuntu 9.10 will be "Killer Kangaroo", "Kinky Koala", "Kissable Kitten" or "Kinetic Kestrel" (or some combination thereof).

Personally I like Kinetic Kestrel the best - "I'm running Kenetic" has a certain ring to it.

Friday 28 November 2008

Bring on the IT lawyers

I have just written to a law firm specialising in IT.


My name is xxxx xxxxx, and I am a dentist. My practice is in xxxxxxxx,
I am also a hobby programmer and linux advocate.

I write to you because I am in a hole with my dental software provider. After 12 years with them, we have just taken delivery of a £13,000+ 'upgrade'.
It is a disaster.

At this early stage, I have written to the business owner expressing my concerns, and asking to meet with him. They are based in xxxx-xxxxx.
I suspect that I will be breaking allegiance with this company in the short to medium term, and would value the advice of a lawyer who is familiar with software licensing. Your firm was mentioned to me by a fellow member of the open rights group.

My ideal outcome would be to get this company to agree to a license which opens up the software to me so that I can help them improve the software, and in doing so, secure my data.
I can understand why they will probably be wary of such a license. However, I would be willing to consider clauses which commit me to continue with them for a period of say 5 years (and continue paying maintenance/support fees for that time - some £2500 per annum)

Obviously, what I would get from this is future freedom, and a system which is not a 'brick' as is currently the case.

If you feel you can help PLEASE contact me.

Kind regards

Database Security.

My database provider has asked me to send them a backup drive by post.

I'm not going to comply. I've sighted this as my reason.

I accept that they need to check the integrity of the data. However, I feel that a request such as this should be in writing so as to create a paper chain showing that a disk in the post was
  1. absolutely necessary given the risk to my business of the possible bad publicity if it goes astray
  2. done with adequate encryption

These issues are on-going.
I need to find myself a good IT aware lawyer, as soon as possible, to help me get these guys on the right track.

Thursday 27 November 2008

Asking the right question about software licensing.

I have mentioned here before how dissatisfied I am with the software I use the most at work.
I guess lots of people can understand that feeling.

We are having to change the way we work to fit around this software. That is NOT acceptable to me.
Again.. I hear that a lot, nothing unusual there.

However, my situation is perhaps unusual in that I personally made the decision to purchase this software and paid for it myself. (We are talking several thousand pounds).

Also unusual, is that it would be trivial for me to improve the software myself if I had the source code. In fact, I have already written several plug-ins to give me the functionality I desperately need to keep my business running smoothly (functionality destroyed by the recent 'upgrade'). In doing so, I may already have broken my side of the 'license' (not that I've seen one.)

This software is central to my livelyhood.My 'support' contract is due for renewal on 22nd March 2009. I need to clarify my position before then.

Ideally, I want to continue with this software, albeit heavily modified. My staff are trained to use it, and I have 12 years of invaluable data which no other software could lever correctly.

I am writing to the company expressing my dissatisfaction, but after listening to the freedom law centre podcast this morning... I think I need to accept that what I need to do is re-write my contract with this company. I need them to agree to an open-source license of some description.

I would love to hear from anyone who has been in a similar situation.

Sorry for the verbosity of this posting... my thoughts are unclear due to 2 weeks with disturbed sleep. This issue is one I need to get 'closure' on.

Monday 24 November 2008

Far away friends.

I'll never need to ask Peter64 what time it is with him again.

Now - how to get 'Peter64 timezone' to the repositories?

Saturday 22 November 2008

the ipython shell

I thought ipython == iron python.

what a pillock I am.
ipython is going to change my life.

thanks to the guys on #lottalinuxlinks for pointing out my stupidity, and for not laughing too much.

Tuesday 18 November 2008

MySQL - exploring a database with python and MySQLdb

Here's a script wrote to explore a MySQL database, and report information on all the tables therein.
note - you need python (surely everyone has the python?)
and MySQLdb - which on ubuntu is simply ~apt-get install python-mysqldb

#! /usr/bin/env python
import MySQLdb
#change the following line as neccesary,
db = MySQLdb.connect(host="localhost",user="YOUR_USER",
cursor = db.cursor()
cursor.execute("SHOW TABLES")
for record in result:
print "TABLE '%s'"%record[0]
cursor.execute("DESCRIBE %s"%record[0])
descriptions = cursor.fetchall()
for description in descriptions:
for field in description:
print field,"\t",
print "_"*50

Friday 14 November 2008

Goodbye Hotmail

I got myself a hotmail account on the 18th September 2001.

Yesterday I deleted it for 2 reasons.

Firstly, I haven't used it to send mail for over 2 years, because M$ append ad links, and they look like I am recommended said links.

Secondly, the thunderbird plugins which enable webmail/hotmail have (for me) become erratic of late.

So.. good riddance hotmail.

Virtual Jam Sessions.

I had an idea earlier... and put it to some musicians out in IRC land.

rowinggolfer.. imagine a world where musicians can simply join into an online jam session.
various categories of music.
kajarii rowinggolfer: that'd actually be pretty cool.
rowinggolfer You are the man to set up this audio server. 'JamServer' ?
rowinggolfer Kajarii: I had the idea earlier when listening to guitarman4's music
kajarii Nice.
rowinggolfer I believe there is a business here, so I am thinking some more over this idea.
guitarman4 rowinggolfer - there is a tool that allows for collaboration... open source, they beggin for someone to port linux, so far only mac and linux clients
* rowinggolfer checks out
rowinggolfer guitarman4: I am thinking... irc type jam server... anyone can start a jam... and the initiator retains "op status", so that if a clueless player joins in... he/she can boot 'em off. then maybe some paid services? where you buy a room, but can charge people to listen?
something like that... dunno
kajarii> yeah, that's a better idea Especially since irc is low bandwidth so you have more room for music.
rowinggolfer It would be cool to lay down a beat then wait for folks to join in.
kajarii How you'd do that in real time with low latency would be an odd thing though.
even sip is very latent.
rowinggolfer Kajarii: good point. UDP?
kajarii yeah, SIP uses UDP.
rowinggolfer lots of dropped packets... but real time.
guitarman4 interstin...
kajarii I wonder if we ran a pulseaudio server on the irc machine which could then do the mixing and send it out to the other machines.
guitarman4 ooooooo.
rowinggolfer Kajarii: I knew you were the man to speak to.
guitarman4 i like that. u know its worth trying out - worst case scenario is it doesnt fly.. wouldnt we need some way of syncing stuff...
i wonder if midi makes more sense.
kajarii yeah, but pulseaudio should take care of that. or jack.
guitarman4 really? k
kajarii jack is designed for low latency pro audio work.
guitarman4 yeah. so how would we connect to the jack server remotely
kajarii I wonder if we had everybody run a jack instance on their machine then hook them all together somehow. I'm not sure.

Friday 7 November 2008

Digital Dental Records

Last week I was a free software/open standards advocate.
Today, due to my work IT upgrade this week I am a free software/open standards fanatic.

I am a dentist BTW, and we have upgraded our old clinical database to a new version.

This upgrade is to another proprietary, closed source "solution".
That's bad for me and fellow dental practice owners who want high quality, bug free, modifiable, secure software.

However, I realised something that affects a much wider audience... patients.

Dental Records.
We need a minimum standard for a digital dental record that any dental practice in the UK with a clinical database must be able to export to ooxml for dental records if you like.
Note - this is not for my benefit, but for my patients past, current and future they have a right to their data... and it must be in an import/exportable form IMHO.

moving to another practice/country?
want to build a case against me for poor treatment?
want to find out which anaesthetic you had a bad reaction to in 1998?
Need to see your x-ray or intra-oral image data?

no problem. (or at least.. it shouldn't be.. under present legislation you may get a crappy print out if you're lucky)

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Intrepid - cruft remover


I found the "cruft remover app" today which is new to Ubuntu with the intrepid release.

A neat app if used properly, but will need to gather more information about the packages on a system and the frequency of use etc.. to give the user more info before prompting for removal of a package.

I think the default for most check boxes until that point is reached should be False.

anyway.. this blog sums up the app much better than I could

By the way "cruft"? I bet that wasn't the original name of this app.