Sunday, March 20, 2005

Optimism

I am realistic enough to know not that many people read my Blog, and I know that some of my Blog entries can sound very negative. I write them however in the hope that it will "wake up" some people who never thought about these issues, or that it will show to others who are likeminded, that they are not alone.

While I have no illusions of grandeur, I think English Statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke was correct when he said "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing". And my Blog is writen in part based on this principle. I harbour some hope that what I write will get people to think and act. Because, while I can put things very bleakly, I do believe if "good men" act and don't let themselves be silenced, this world could be a lot better. I guess in the end, I am in this an optimist against better judgement. I am a realist, but keep hope alive that with enough action by "good men" something truly good can exist.

I don't think that "big corporations", "religious fanatic's" and others who bear no good will towards others in general can not be fought. I even believe that bigotry, racism, lack of knowledge and apathy can on a larger scale be conquered. Al though I hold no illusions and think this, or all Blogs combined, would be instrumental in this. It's just a small part of a much bigger thing. And I do think if those "good men" work together, in the end they can be much more successful then "evil". Evil after all, is also only just man-made. Just as is good.

Returning to Plato's cave

Seeing the world around me these days I fear we are more and more regressing back into a dark-age. From the rise of religion and all it's intolerance too how people are more and more viewed as tools for the select few. Or how science is being obstructed too how showing public affection in at least one country is now forbidden, yet violence is never frowned upon. Not to mention the intolerance that is sweeping the planet again, and how those who feed upon intolerance are gaining support. Perhaps it never was any different through history. But one thing is sure, we are not that enlightened and it seems most people actively don't wish to be enlightened. They wish to return to Plato's cave and stare at shadows.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Illusionary tax dreams

Today I read somebody commenting again that "less taxes is a good thing" and that taxes are bad. That they rob people of their money. Most things in the Netherlands are still (be it now barely) paid through taxes however. And as such they are cheaper then they would be if they would have to be paid individually. The collective nature means everything from health insurance and pension plans to childcare is more or less affordable.

The idea that less taxes means you get to keep more of your money is an illusion, unless your filthy rich (as here those who are rich pay more taxes per euro earned). In the end if taxes and as such social securities and institutions go away, we will need to pay for everything individually. Which is more expensive then paying for it collectively. In the end if your middle class, you will end up with LESS money in your pocket, not more. Your costs for healthcare, even your TV licence will simply go up. Much more then taxes could ever go down.

Of course some people believe they will never get sick, never get old, never lose their job, etc. and as such they don't need such insurances. The foolishness of this I doubt I need to point out. They also think why pay for other people's schooling? Failing to realise that if your entire workforce is not well educated the entire counties economy will eventually fall. I actually could go on with examples.

Of course taxes should be put to good use, and that unfortunately almost never happens anymore in The Netherlands. But the illusion of "less taxes equal more money in my pocket" needs to be shattered. Because it simply is not true!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Mysterious reasons at Microsoft

Now this is an odd story I found through slashdot. Apparently Microsoft is going to offer security patches to the US government one month earlier then to the rest of the world. Perhaps it is just me, but I can see only two logical paths that explain this:

The first would be that the patches are not yet ready to be released to the public and the US government gets a beta version of the patch. Meaning they get an unfinished, buggy product. This makes little sense, as of course this probably means the patches make a system less secure, then more secure.

The second would be that the patches are fully finished, but get held back to the world for an extra month. This makes even less sense. Why hold all your customers, all computers running Microsoft software in the world at risk for another extra month? Not just is it unethical, dangerous and a blatant disrespect for Microsoft customers. But with Microsoft battered security track record, one would think they can not afford such a thing.

Perhaps I need to think in much more sinister scenario's. But I myself can not figure out the logic behind either path. Both would place the digital world at greater risk, not less risk.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Threaten those about to die

Warning: I was angry when I wrote this, so this might be a bit of an aggressive blog entry. More so then I normally would write.

While it's pretty common knowledge that asylum seekers must not be human beings anymore in the eyes in the eyes of our minister Verdonk (the minister responsible for asylum seekers), I can not believe the blackness of the hart of this woman anymore. A documentary has been made showcasing many different asylum seekers in 1 minute and 40 seconds per person. A project to give them a chance to tell their story, to give them a human-face. So people stop seeing these people as just numbers, but gain a bit of understanding of their struggle, and then obviously can think of that what they want.

How does our minister Verdonk reply to this? She actually treated these people not to step out into the media! If they do, she wants the department of justice to give full disclosure about all their personal files to anybody who wants them. Trying to bully people in simply speaking out. Apparently because in her eyes these asylum seekers are just "acting sad" and want to gain sympathy.

One of the movies they showed here on TV was of a Muslim woman who has fled Iran. Because her husband abused her both physically and mentally. She is going to be send back. Running away from ones husband is a crime in Iran for which a woman will be stoned to death. So she's being send to one of the most inhumane death's possible by minister Verdonk. She in my eyes personally signed this woman's death. And yes, your right minister Verdonk, she has my sympathy.

And I understand why you want to keep this out of the media. Your not a human being, your a monster. Somebody who either fails to grasp the suffering of others, or takes pleasure from it. It in my eyes is a shame you are in such a position, and it would do you a world of good to have suffered through such a horrible ordeal. Despite not wishing it on anybody. But perhaps then at least you would understand. People like minister Verdonk should be put to trial for crimes against humanity. Oh the horror, somebody might feel sympathetic to people we are sending to their death's. Because "it's full here in the Netherlands" (fact: 70% of the Netherlands is not build upon, and we belong to the richest nations in the world). We can not help everyone, but we sure as hell shelter somebody who is being persecuted for being a woman in essence. One would think a fellow woman, as minister Verdonk, would at least on that level show some compassion. But I guess she is neither a woman, nor a human being anymore.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

There is no demoracy in the Europian Union

"While the EU Parliament has proposed a clear exclusion of software patents, the Commission and Council have ignored the Parliament's proposal and reinstated the most uncompromisingly pro-patent text in May 2004. However this text does not enjoy the support of a qualified majority of member states. Yet the Council has refused to renegotiate and is still trying to push the text through. Meanwhile the European Parliament has asked for a restart of the procedure. The Council and Commission still seem inclined to ignore the Parliament's request and to interpret the EU's rules of procedure in an anti-democratic spirit.

The current situation is also reflected in recent FFII letters to the Parliament, Council of Ministers and Commission."
Source: swpat.ffii.org

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Microsoft DevDays 2005 The Netherlands

Being a lead-developer within my company I spend the last two days at the Microsoft DevDays 2005. Our company is not 100% Microsoft orientated (we in fact often program in non Microsoft programming languages as well), but we also extensively work with the Microsoft platform and .NET. So off I went.

Overall I must say I found it a big disappointment. Not just because of the snow-storm that stranded me in Den Hague (Dutch city), due to public transportation breaking down. Normally I would have gone by car, but as I am hopeless when it comes to directions, unfamiliar with Den Hague (a city notorious for it's endless traffic jams and impossible mazes of roads) and the weather was impossible, I thought "why not give public transportation a try? They go from my door to the congress centre's door directly).

I mostly was disappointed at the very commercial and repetitive nature of the conference. It felt like all lectures where aimed at selling me a new product. Selling it towards developers that is. Showcasing all the new features and how great they where. Don't get me wrong, some features looked exceptionally yummy! I just don't need an over an hour lecture about them, I get it within 5 minutes. And the features that didn't interest me, well then a lecture really becomes quite long. Especially the pre-conference lecture of 4 hours! Then imagine a few sessions in essence covering the same material from a slightly different perspective.

I also must say I had trouble seeing the examples and sheets on most screens. In the smaller conference rooms you just couldn't see most due to people being in front of you, in the big conference hall the letters simply could not be read from large parts of the room. Despite them getting extra enlarged.

Overall it seemed like the presentation of two new products. Microsoft Visual Studio 2005. Which looks quite nice combined with their new team development options. In fact I really liked what I saw there. The other main product was SQL Server 2005. Which looks like it has gotten some nifty new features. The XML native support looks beyond yummy. In fact I wish MySQL would also get something like this for one of our own software products. The Service Broker also looked good (shame the follow up lecture about it was cancelled).

What made me less happy was the ability to fully code applications within SQL Server now, and especially their reporting service. I am sorry Microsoft, but it is giving me flashbacks of ill constructed "applications" in Access forms with Access Reports. I already heard a few people behind me say "oh, that is handy". I fear in the future we will see many ill constructed reports "application" with company critical information.

I must say I was also impressed with Indigo looks to offer. I will admit, the heat in the room at some point got to me and I had some trouble concentrating at some point due to that (also take into account I had been stranded in the cold for hours the day before and was over-excaused). What I caught however looked very promising. I hope it can live up to that promise, and not be the horror that SOAP is.

Overall I did find the entire conference to commercial, it where mostly sales pitches aimed at developers. And the endless amount of goodies you could win or get for free are nice, but I would have preferred more stands with actual INFORMATION. Not just the ability to win something. I guess walking away with a free USB key and all is fun, but I primarily would like some information, to expand my horizon and to gain new knowledge. This mostly was me seeing some new software products and what their new features are.

Side note: I've seen 1 presentation's demo code crash, in another presentation Microsoft's Visual Studio 2005 crashed, and in another presentation it was mentioned he couldn't show some things as it would crash his laptop. I guess it's clear we are dealing with Microsoft here. Al through especially ironic as most of their new features are about "quality code" and "less bugs" :). Mind you, it's also a good lesson: do not demo beta software.

Bring democracy and freedom to the US

I just read this on Steeph's Blog:
"The Department of Homeland Security is experimenting with a controversial new method to keep better track of immigrants who are applying to remain in the United States. It is requiring aliens in eight cities to wear electronic monitors 24 hours a day.
The ankle bracelets are the same monitors that some rapists and other convicted criminals have to wear on parole. But the government's pilot project is putting monitors on aliens who have never been accused of a crime.
So far, the Department of Homeland Security has put electronic monitors on more than 1,700 immigrants."

If this is true, perhaps it is time to invade the US and bring democracy and freedom there? At least in this case we know for sure they have weapons of mass destruction for real. Seriously, this can't be true can it?! Is the world finally openly this mad?