Free Software, Jonathan, Project Mayhem No Comments »

These days, you can hardly get any service without having to sign some kind of service contract. I make a point of reading every single one of them. I hate signing them, because they often have clauses in them that I consider unreasonable. Yet, I put up with it and sign it, since it would just be too big a deal to argue against those clauses, especially when I need to have the service right now.

These corporations also bend and twist and mangle the laws to such an extent that the laws are essentially defeated, and as consumers our rights are compromised.

I was happy to read on Slashdot today that the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that AT&T’s service agreement may not waiver a client’s right to file a lawsuit against the company.

“AT&T’s Consumer Services Agreement is substantively unconscionable and therefore unenforceable to the extent that it purports to waive the right to class actions, require confidentiality, shorten the Washington Consumer Protection Act statute of limitations, and limit availability of attorney fees. … Courts will not be easily deceived by attempts to unilaterally strip away consumer protections and remedies by efforts to cloak the waiver of important rights under an arbitration clause.”

The full ruling is available in PDF format.

I think that the big corporates who attempt to downplay our rights are scumbags, and the people who take the time to deal with them and bring them to justice are my heroes.

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SARS Communication Suckiness

Free Software, Jonathan, Politics, Project Mayhem 5 Comments »


I’m so frustrated with SARS (South African Revenue Service). They sent me an e-mail to notify me that I’ve received communication from them that require my attention. I click on the link which takes me to their website, enter my username and password, and it takes me to a page where I have to download the contents of the documentation in a PDF file. So, I do so.

When I opened the file with my PDF viewer, and it displayed that I require the latest version of Adobe Reader. This was already a bit frustrating, having to do so much work and still not being able to read my message. At least Adobe reader is packaged in Medibuntu, so I add the repositories and install it. 20 minutes worth of downloads later, I open the PDF. Yet again, it displayed “You need the latest version of Adobe reader to open this file”. Grrr.

I head over to Adobe.com, saw a link that says “Adobe Reader download”, where it also said “Latest Version”, and downloaded it. Turns out it is also Version 8.1.2, the same version available from Medibuntu, and it also doesn’t want to open the document.

After trying all different kinds of things, I’m still unable to open the PDF. Thanks Adobe, for implementing such horrible technologies in our government, and thank you SARS, for absolutely not caring about free software users, even when our government has a mandate to move over to free software itself.

Then again, it’s not like any government ever had a good reputation for keeping its promises. I don’t know how I expected ours to be any different.

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Cool stuff today

Free Software, Politics 7 Comments »


By the time I write this, Akismet will have caught a quarter of a million of spam entries on my blog. Thanks again, Akismet!

Michelle Obama

This morning while driving to work, I heard excerpts from Michelle Obama‘s speech that she delivered in Denver yesterday. I haven’t cried in nearly 13 years, but every now and again something happens that brings me close, that speech got brought me one of those moments. I think Michelle Obama will make an awesome first lady.

Monopoly World Edition

Hasbro (the company behind the popular game, Monopoly), will be releasing a new version of the game that contains popular cities around the world. The cities were chosen by votes on their website, and they have made the results public. My home town, Cape Town, got in at number 3. Awesome.

Monopoly site image

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Default packages

Free Software, Jonathan 8 Comments »

The Mother

My mother have been using Ubuntu on her desktop PC since just after Ubuntu 7.04 has been released. My mother doesn’t do much on her PC, she manages photos, browses the web, reads e-mail, keeps in touch with Pidgin and plays the occasional game. About 3 months ago, she bought a new laptop with Vista. I thought she’d get along with it fine, and with me being so far away from home so much these days, I thought she’d be fine. Well, she wasn’t. In fact, the laptop has been lying in a cupboard because she just couldn’t get things to work on it. She’s been visiting over the weekend, so I installed Ubuntu 8.04 on it, and she’s very happy with it. She’s been telling everyone how nicely her laptop is working now since I’ve “upgraded” it :)

I did a Google search to find what people install on their mother’s machines, but couldn’t find anything really helpful. These are the packages I installed on my mother’s laptop:

  • thunderbird
  • gnome-ppp
  • some games from universe

I then just added some bookmarks to Firefox for the sites she often visits, configured Pidgin and Thunderbird, added a photo to her session info and imported all her music into Rhythmbox. So far everything is working very nicely.

The Server

These are packages I usually install on servers. Not all of these packages usually gets installed on all servers though. These are just a few favourites.

  • screen
  • mc
  • htop
  • debmirror
  • irssi
  • debootstrap
  • vim
  • toilet
  • figlet
  • openssh-server
  • ethstatus
  • ddclient
  • apache2
  • nmap
  • rkhunter
  • postfix
  • traceroute
  • links2
  • sshfs
  • strace
  • gpw
  • ccze

The Desktop

At least, my desktop, plus the packages on the server list.

  • wireshark
  • thunderbird
  • network-manager-openvpn
  • quanta
  • agave
  • build-essential
  • k3b
  • nautilus-open-terminal
  • fakeroot
  • freemind
  • debhelper
  • devscripts
  • strace
  • liferea
  • vlc
  • virtualbox

If there’s something else I should install by default and don’t know about, please leave a comment :)

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Not blogging enough?

Free Software, Humour, Jonathan, Music, Project Mayhem 3 Comments »

I’ve had 3 people from the Real Life (which is a very weird and disturbing place) telling me that I’m not updating my blog often enough in the last week. I’m not sure how much is supposed to be enough. I usually blog when I have some time and have something I’d really like to say. I’m completely fine with about 2 blog entries a month and perhaps more now and again when things get interesting. However, sometimes I like to cave a bit under pressure, so here’s a random blog entry for the bored:

  • I heard the I-can-ride-my-bike-with-no-handlebars song for the first time on Friday. Listened to it 20 times over the weekend so far. Aparently everyone else knows it already. It’s an awesome little song about how power can corrupt (or at least, that’s my interpretation ;) ).
  • I played with Mac OSX again yesterday. It’s annoying. Recently Mark Shuttleworth said that Ubuntu will be more attractive than a Mac in two years. I think he seriously needs to take a look at a Mac again. I’ve installed plenty of add-ons and stuff to my Mac, and I just can’t make it match the usability and productivity of my Gnome desktop with Compiz on Ubuntu. In order to make Ubuntu really more attractive to the current Mac market, it will need to run the software that’s available for a Mac. I bought my Mac because I want to use the real nice video editing software that’s available for it.
  • Still stuck in Jo’burg for work purposes. Tried to fix that but it failed. I’ll just have to try to get back home a bit harder. I guess I’ll be here for another 6 months max. At least my mother is visiting next weekend.
  • Everything else is pretty much ok.

Some pictures from the real world (not sure where they’re originally from though):

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