Farewell from Rusty Russell (kernel.org)

To my fellow maintainers: stay harsh on code and don’t be afraid to say “No” or “Why?”; there really are more bad ideas than good ones, and complexity is such a bright candle for us hacker-moths. But be gentle, kind and forgiving of your peers: respect from people you respect is really the only reward that sticks.

Farewell all, and I look forward to crossing your paths again!

Rusty.

commit: ed875ea1fcc6c34ea232610c3041d0978e327bbe

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace

by John Perry Barlow, RIP

Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.

We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.

Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. You have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you. You do not know us, nor do you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie within your borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows itself through our collective actions.

You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did you create the wealth of our marketplaces. You do not know our culture, our ethics, or the unwritten codes that already provide our society more order than could be obtained by any of your impositions.

You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use this claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these problems don’t exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we will identify them and address them by our means. We are forming our own Social Contract. This governance will arise according to the conditions of our world, not yours. Our world is different.

Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live.

We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth.

We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.

Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us. They are all based on matter, and there is no matter here.

Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order by physical coercion. We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest, and the commonweal, our governance will emerge. Our identities may be distributed across many of your jurisdictions. The only law that all our constituent cultures would generally recognize is the Golden Rule. We hope we will be able to build our particular solutions on that basis. But we cannot accept the solutions you are attempting to impose.

In the United States, you have today created a law, the Telecommunications Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution and insults the dreams of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison, DeToqueville, and Brandeis. These dreams must now be born anew in us.

You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a world where you will always be immigrants. Because you fear them, you entrust your bureaucracies with the parental responsibilities you are too cowardly to confront yourselves. In our world, all the sentiments and expressions of humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole, the global conversation of bits. We cannot separate the air that chokes from the air upon which wings beat.

In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United States, you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting guard posts at the frontiers of Cyberspace. These may keep out the contagion for a small time, but they will not work in a world that will soon be blanketed in bit-bearing media.

Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to own speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas to be another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron. In our world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no longer requires your factories to accomplish.

These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same position as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination who had to reject the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We must declare our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we continue to consent to your rule over our bodies. We will spread ourselves across the Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts.

We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before.

Davos, Switzerland
February 8, 1996

Zen and the Art of Making

Vor einigen Wochen habe ich einen bemerkenswerten Artikel von Phillip Torrone gelesen, einem der Väter der DIY- und Open-Hardware-Bewegung.

Hier ist der Link.

Um die Wichtigkeit des Artikels zu betonen, sei er hier nochmals in voller Länge abgedruckt:

***

This week for my bi-weekly soapbox column, I thought I’d share some of my notes I’ve jotted down recently about making things, working with and supporting beginners. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how much fun it is when you’re a beginner at something as opposed to being an “expert.”

At some point, we all become experts at something. I really want to avoid being an expert in some things, only so I can continually look forward to learning more without the overhead of being an expert. Being an expert means your journey is somewhat over. I was going to call this column the “expert problem” but I hope you enjoy this semi stream of conscience collected over the last few weeks. Be sure to post up in the comments about your experiences with learning a new skill and how you keep motivated to keep learning more.

I thought I’d start with a favorite quote:

Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop.
— Alice in Wonderland

When you start out making something, you usually don’t end up where you thought you would. It’s usually some place better. A beginner can imagine more than an expert because a beginner doesn’t see constraints yet. Kids are the same way — they approach things with an open mind because they haven’t been told “you can’t do that” yet. Beginners aren’t billing someone for their time — it’s not a job, and time doesn’t matter. Beginners (and kids) usually have more time than money. Beginners aren’t collecting trophies (yet) — they’re exploring. If you don’t know the boundaries of something, for a brief time your ideas are boundless.

Maybe becoming experts in things is just in our destiny — we all specialize, growing old is unavoidable — but retaining things from our childhood is possible; it’s just a struggle sometimes. This is why a lot of us have safe places, like a workshop or an electronics bench, where we can protect them. If you’re a self-proclaimed expert in something, you’ll end up defending your work from other experts. The internet is an amplifier of this phenomenon. I think it’s important to have places where beginners can help each other, and the experts are there to not only share information, but share how they discovered things (sometimes the how is more important than the what). The best experts I know open the door, but you enter yourself.

Experts stay still; beginners are constantly moving. An expert can point out the difficulty in every project, while the beginner can only see possibilities (and later many ways to make mistakes). The reward for beginners is not the stuff they make, it’s the person they become because of the stuff they make and share. Beginners need to practice a lot; experts need to talk more than practice usually. Beginners do very simple things before they understand what they are doing, but they are simplistic. Experts struggle to make things simple because they want to put everything they know in something, to demonstrate their expertise.

Beginners share their mistakes; experts hide them. Knowledge is one of the few things that doesn’t diminish the more you share it. I probably read about 1,000 messages a day across mailing lists, forums, customer support emails, Google+, Twitter, and more. Beginners can celebrate failure while experts rarely admit it. For a beginner, all the obstacles, failures, and challenges are the path ahead. Beginners usually do not have any fear; they just make things — maybe it doesn’t work out, maybe it does — but they don’t have the same risk aversion experts tend to have.

Beginners get the satisfaction of solving many small problems that are wonderful milestones to keep motivated. Experts build bigger and for longer, so when something goes wrong it can really crash hard. The little problems a beginner solves are like weeds in a garden: you find them and use them for mulch — they’re fuel. Eventually you might have a manicured estate, but I think the small garden is more fun and approachable. More people can participate because the fence is lower, or not there at all.

Once you get enough experts together, that’s when the in-fighting usually starts. Even The Beatles fought with each other about who was the best. Experts start to see the tiniest differences between each other and (usually) fork their efforts. It might be over-phrasing or titles of efforts, what licenses they use or don’t use, who is more pure than someone else. Beginners don’t know enough to care about these things yet — it’s the freedom beginners enjoy, even if it’s just for a short while. Beginners tend to see what they have in common with each other; experts can only see the differences. Many experts don’t want to share their knowledge, and beginners don’t have anything to share yet other than encouragement and enthusiasm for other beginners. Experts like to defeat each other, often publicly; beginners conquer themselves and their own challenges, and the experience cannot be taken away by anyone. Beginners don’t have strong opinions — they can’t effectively bother each other yet.

Relating this specifically to electronics, projects with Arduino are now practically ubiquitous. If you are beginning in electronics, when something is always around beginners, like Arduino, interesting things can happen. Beginners bend things, break things, they do things that the experts couldn’t imagine — and that’s a good thing. Some of the most disruptive innovations came from people tinkering, not exactly knowing what they’re doing, and later becoming experts only to be usurped by a new crop of tinkerers. It’s an endless cycle of people doing weird things because “they didn’t know any better.”

Electronics is full of problems, but it’s also full of people overcoming those problems — those are fun people to be around. They’re convinced that if they try, they can figure it out. Over the years I’ve tried to collect all the stories people would write in to me from Hack-a-Day, MAKE, or Adafruit about how, in a short time, they went from not knowing anything about electronics to being able to make something they always wanted, and how they discovered they had the potential all along. All they had to do was listen to their own voice and not someone else telling them they couldn’t do it for one reason or another.

When you’re learning something about electronics, you usually don’t know what’s “enough” until you discover what’s “too much.” Beginners are filled with uncertainty on how things will turn out — that’s the fun part — the surprise, the unexpected, how knowledge is made. Experts have expectations. Beginners can adapt themselves because they’re not set in their ways yet; experts tend to be more rigid and demand the same of others. Experts value what they have; beginners value what they don’t have yet.

Beginners can take more risks than experts — they start with zero, so there’s nothing to lose. Experts worry that if they’re an expert in one thing, they’ll need to be an expert in other things, otherwise their expertise could be questioned. For experts a lot of things are easy because they’ve done it so many times. Experts become impatient (with themselves and with others); beginners are patient and brave, because they don’t yet know it will become easy. Experts have pride; beginners can’t deceive themselves so easily.

Starting out now with making things is fantastic. With 3D printers, laser cutters, Maker Faires, hackerspaces, Techshops, Instructables, open source hardware, it’s never been a better time. I’m sure every generation says that, but I really think it’s true. Starting out now, you get to explore more, faster, cheaper, and with more people. This is all new stuff too — it’s hard for anyone to be an expert yet. This happened with homebrew computers, and it happened with the web. In the maker world, we’re all still figuring a lot of this out. There’s still plenty of time before we’re all experts at one thing or another.

Some of the most talented and prolific people I know have dozens of interests and hobbies. When I ask them about this, the response is usually something like “I love to learn.” I think the new discoveries and joys of learning are the crux of this beginner thing I’ve been thinking about. Sure, when you’ve mastered something it’s valuable, but then part of your journey is over — you’ve arrived, and the trick is to find something you’ll always have a sense of wonder about. I think this is why scientists and artists, who are usually experts, love what they do: there is always something new ahead. It’s possible to be an expert but still retain the mind of a beginner. It’s hard, but the best experts can do it. In making things, in art, in science, in engineering, you can always be a beginner about something you’re doing — the fields are too vast to know it all.

Since I started with Lewis Carroll, I figured I’d end it here too:

Alice came to a fork in the road. “Which road do I take?” she asked.
“Where do you want to go?” responded the Cheshire cat.
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.”
– Alice in Wonderland

Downloading an Entire Web Site with wget

Muss auch mal sein: Kleiner Tech-Tipp aus dem Linux Journal.

If you ever need to download an entire Web site, perhaps for off-line viewing, wget can do the job — for example:

$ wget \
--recursive \
--no-clobber \
--page-requisites \
--html-extension \
--convert-links \
--restrict-file-names=windows \
--domains website.org \
--no-parent \
www.website.org/tutorials/html/

This command downloads the Web site www.website.org/tutorials/html/.

The options are:

  • --recursive: download the entire Web site.
  • --domains website.org: don’t follow links outside website.org.
  • --no-parent: don’t follow links outside the directory tutorials/html/.
  • --page-requisites: get all the elements that compose the page (images, CSS and so on).
  • --html-extension: save files with the .html extension.
  • --convert-links: convert links so that they work locally, off-line.
  • --restrict-file-names=windows: modify filenames so that they will work in Windows as well.
  • --no-clobber: don’t overwrite any existing files (used in case the download is interrupted and
    resumed).

On the Complexity of Protein Folding

Ich habe ein neues schönes grosses Problem gefunden, dessen ich mich den Rest meines Lebens werde erfreuen können. Einige der schillernsten Geistesriesen unserer Zeit zerbrechen sich seit Jahren die Köpfe über diesem Geheimnis, doch von einer Lösung ist man noch weit entfernt.
Die Frage lautet:

Nach welchen Regeln falten sich Proteine?

Proteine sind Sequenzen von Aminosäuren. Gleiche Aminosäurensequenzen falten sich zu gleichen Proteinstrukturen. Welchen Gesetzen folgt der Faltprozess? Man weiss, dass der gefaltete Endzustand ein globales Energieminimum einnimmt, aber ansonsten weiss man nicht viel. Man hat es mit raffinierten mathematischen Modellen versucht und ausufernden Simulationen, doch vermochte man lediglich einige Picosekunden der Proteinfaltung nachzuahmen, zu komplex sind die zugrunde liegenden Mechanismen.
Ich glaube, da muss ein furchtloser Ingenieur ran. Bisschen vereinfachen hie und da, abstrahieren, zurechtstutzen was nicht passt, basteln, nicht verstehen was man tut und doch irgendwo ankommen. Wenn die Theoretiker versagen, müssen die Praktiker in die Bresche springen.
Kleiner Ansporn: wer das Geheimnis lüftet, wird gefeiert bis nach Stockholm.

Hardy Heron

Obwohl es virtuell nicht geklappt hat, habe ich all meinen Mut zusammen genommen und Ubuntus jüngsten Sprössling Hardy Heron physikalisch installiert, nachdem ich (wie vor einiger Zeit beschrieben) seinen Vorvorvorgänger vollständig zerstört habe.
Klappte alles wunderbar, womit ich den gefürchteten Umstieg auf Gentoo abwenden konnte. Vielleicht werde ich die hochgelobte Distribution virtuell zum Leben erwecken, kann nicht schaden, schliesslich wird Reufer nicht müde zu berichten, dass Gentoo die letzte Bastion des wahren Linuxers sei. Das Problem ist nur: ständig dieses emerge und man wird gezwungen zu wissen, was man tut.
Aber neues Ubuntu auch nicht schlecht, sogar der Drucker druckt anstandslos, kaum zu glauben, noch nie erlebt so was. Bleibt nur noch die Webcam, das widerspenstige Biest, aber wird auch irgendwann Bilder speien, früher oder später.