Entries from April 2006 ↓

The Singularity doesn’t depend on trends.

Excerpt from a mail to the SL4 mailing list from Micheal Vassar that I found particularly good:

“Popular conceptions of the “singularity”, grounded on trend extrapolation for either poorly designed metrics like “change” or narrow metrics like “transistors per dollar” are squarely SL3 because they inspire a belief in discontinuous change without any real understanding of the reasons for discontinuous change or it’s likely nature/dynamics. At SL4 people don’t believe in “the singularity” because they have extrapolated the past, but because they see in rough outline how it can be brought about. They don’t believe it will happen in 2037 because that’s when it’s due, they believe that it will happen when someone makes it happen, if anyone ever does. At SL4 “the singularity” isn’t seen as a technological trend, like Moore’s law or more powerful car
engines, it’s seen as a specific class of technology, like “heavier than air flying machines”. We see how the laws of physics and information allow for such things, and how contemporary technology is sufficient to allow credible attempts, and how near future technologies, which are predicted substantially as the outcomes of trend projection (but trend projection stepping forward another decade or at most two decades on trends that have proven themselves for many decades) should make it slightly easier to make credible attempts to bring about singularity.”

Enlightenment e17

e17 is nice, and elegant – oh so elegant. But it’s been in development for along time now and although they say it’ll be very unique when it arrives I think they will have missed their chance to make a spash in the linux desktop market.

You see, compiz and xgl were released earlier in the year. And they look pretty sweet (60 meg video, (pics from video). I think that by the time e17 is released, people will expect support for the snazzy bang of 3d accelerated desktops. Rasterman, the lead developer of e17, seems quite set in avoiding the whole opengl desktop thing – at least for e17’s direction.

I think the stuff in e17 is very nice, the code is efficient, fast, and excellently designed. As are the supporting Enlightenment foundation libraries (EFL). However, I’m staying with KDE for the time being until the interface is more intuitive – there are still annoying little quirks that bug me although they’ll probably be resolved when e17’s fabled release date comes around.

Compiling e17 for ubuntu dapper

Get E


a) Get the latest packages from:


extract with

for i in `ls *.tar.gz`; do tar xfvz $i; done


b) get the latest cvs sources:

cvs -d :pserver:anonymous@anoncvs.enlightenment.org:/var/cvs/e login
cvs -z3 -d :pserver:anonymous@anoncvs.enlightenment.org:/var/cvs/e co e17

Build packages

install some packages:

sudo apt-get install fakeroot cdbs debhelper libpng3-dev libpng3 libjpeg62 libjpeg62-dev html2text libgtk2.0-dev libxine-dev libtagc0-dev libtagc0 libcurl3-dev libcurl3 devscripts giflib3g-dev giflib3g libid3-3.8.3-dev libtiff4-dev libtiff4

There are probably alot more you need, but these were the ones that were not installed when I wanted to install e17 – you can tell you need more packages if a configure script fails. The error message will usually be informative enough to let you do a search for the right packages (just make sure to install the “*-dev” packages as well as the normal libraries/apps). There are optional packages you may want too (such as the gif and tiff ones above) and you can find out about these from keeping a eye on “Configuration Options Summary” at the end of a “configure” run.

The build order we’ll follow is:

Then the apps:

cd libs/imlib
chmod u+x debian/rules
fakeroot debian/rules binary
cd ..

You should now have imlib2-demo, imlib2-test, libimlib2, libimlib2-dev .deb files in the libs directory. You possibly don’t need the ./autogen.sh step if ./configure files already exist.
Install these packages using dpkg, you might get some issues with dependencies but they can be fixed by “apt-get -f install” usually.

Do the same for “eet”:

cd ../libs/eet
chmod u+x debian/rules
fakeroot debian/rules clean
fakeroot debian/rules binary

I found that ‘fakeroot debian/rules binary’ couldn’t find eet-config, this is fixed by running ‘fakeroot debian/rules clean’ first. This happens for most of the libraries, so follow the above order of commands to avoid trouble. Install the eet packages that are created.

Do the same for edb if you like. (EDB is a database convenience library wrapped around the Berkeley DB 2.7.7 by Sleepycat Software. It is intended to make accessing database information portable, easy, fast and efficient). Then do the same for evas to ewl in the list above. Each time installing the .deb afterwards. You need to do this because the later packages depend on the previous ones being installed.

Next go through the applications you want to install using the same process.
1. Entice – an image viewer.
2. Entrance – a login manager. When configuring after autogen.sh it will warn about specifying the xsession path. You don’t have to worry about this when compiling to a .deb file.
3. Elicit – the screen zoomer and colour picker.
4. E – The window manager itself.
5. I also compiled e_utils as it has some themes and other tidbits in it – this requires the lib/engrave package to be built as well.

Now logout and then switch to the console using ctrl-f1. Login as root or a user capable of sudo and then run (replace gdm with kdm if you use kubuntu):

/etc/init.d/gdm stop
/etc/init.d/entrance start

Update: People have reported that Entrance currently can do something strange to your environment. Java won’t work, gcc returns “collect2: can’t locate ld”, and the eaps (the files that represent applications in the enlightenment ibar launcher) are not detected. These are fixed by just using gdm instead of entrance, run the following and select gdm as your display manager:

dpkg-reconfigure gdm


1. For some reason libedje0-dev couldn’t find the libedje0 package even though it was installed.
Fix by editing libs/edje/debian/control and removing the “(= ${Source-Version})” following all entries of libedje on lines beginning “Depends”.


Hope this is of some help to people. I found it quite rejuvenating to get back into compiling and experimenting with new stuff. I’ll post my opinions on E17 soon enough I suspect.


one red eye
Originally uploaded by New York Observer.



I enter the next phase of my evolution (and madness).

Polyphasic sleeping is an alternative to the traditional monophasic sleeping of our culture. In this particular regime I’m planning to attempt, it means you take 6 x 20 minute naps instead of the normal 6-8 hours that most people get. Why? Well if you do the math this equates to only sleeping 2 hours every day. Or another way of saying it is: you get 22 waking hours everyday!

I have so many things I want to do in my life that it is worth attempting something as crazy as this, as the benefit is well worth the risk of being a zombie for several weeks.

My public PGP key

Version: GnuPG v1.4.5 (GNU/Linux)


Project ideas

For my record before they escape me:

Alcohol calculator that takes in bodily alcohol processing and timing of drinks to give charts of blood alcohol level.

Convert windows sleep monitoring program to linux.

Weird and wonderful email extensions

X-face lets you add a 48×48 black and white image to email and usenet posts.

I tried to find some other interesting extensions but was unsuccessful. The only other thing I can think of is OpenPGP.

Any suggestions (or requests for my public PGP key)?


I need to let off steam because I’ve dug myself into a hole using Matlab. If I could start again I would be using R, or Octave or any number of opensource mathematics tools. Matlab is ugly – this wouldn’t usually be a problem, I respect functionality over whizzy interfaces – but it feels clunky and whenever you try and do something it breaks something else you just did. Or maybe you want to align graphs to a grid? Ooops, you can’t save to a fucking matlab figure anymore. Why? Because even though you’ve paid thousands of dollars in licensing fees Mathworks can’t make a decent stable program. I’m not even doing anything tricky. Just basic data manipulation. If it was remotely taxing I’d cut them some slack… but this is meant to be the same piece of software used for huge aeronautical and space systems? I hate to think of the troubles they have.

And when I submit bug reports? They flog them off to HRS in New Zealand which sells the software. They don’t have a thing to do with fixing bugs. This lets Mathworks sit around on their asses pretending there isn’t anything wrong.

Not the mention that the GUI is unintuitive and unresponsive enough to give you a brain haemorrhage.

There, I’m done. I’d like to say I feel better, but I have to go back and keep using it. At least the 2006a release has just arrived – maybe it will fix some bugs although I’m sure it will have introduced equally annoying ones too.

Last point: If you ever make a website do not make links pop-up as a seperate window. If I wanted that to happen I would have done it myself. FU*^#**%@2##CK

Update: I should note that Mathworks got back to me about the saving of a figure bug in less than 2 days and have indeed fixed the bug in the latest version.

Babylon Zoo – The boy with the X-ray eyes.

An obscure one hit wonder band you ask? Why yes. If you were alive around 1994 you no doubt remember the track “Spaceman” which I shall now perform:

“Spaaaace man, I always wanted you to go into Spaaaace man. Intergalatic chri-ist”

…ahem. Anyway, I bought the CD years later on the basis of liking the single, and I actually think it pretty good, although I know that many other people would think it is crap. Basically it is electro-rock with a hint of new-agey influence. Part of the appeal for me was the lyrics – although I’m not sure whether they are great or just medicore, they just resonated with me. Although with a song about caffeine, how could it not?

It was a pity that they were relegated one-hit wonder status. The commericalised Spaceman probably made serious music aficionadoes ignore them, and their album isn’t as easily accessible as a pop group would need to be.