lunatechian (lunatech-ian)

one relating to, belonging to, or resembling lunatech

Open source or Free software

In his essay describing why people should use the term "open source" instead of "free software", ESR says that the term "free software" is ambiguous. Specifically, the term Free Software can be interpreted as "Software you can get for zero price". Unluckily, this is a bug in the English language itself. In Hindi, we have the words "Mukt" or "azad" which accurately describes the spirit of the Free Software.

At first glance, "Open Source" seems to have overcome this problem. However, this term too is open to being misinterpreted. Most people believe that "Open source" means that you have access to the source code. For example, Sun has made the source code Java available for download. Does it make it Open Source ? No, it does not. To be identified as Free or Open source, a software should grant its users the freedom to can read, redistribute, and modify the source code without any discrimination against persons or groups. The type of license that Sun provides is "look but don't touch".

Robert Scoble shows another mis-interpretation of the term "open source". In his blog post he says:

Open source has become a metaphor for things done in public view with public input. Actually, [Microsoft is] a leader here. Check out Channel 9. It's the first step along the road to open source marketing.

What he describes will make the project transparent, but not open source.

Though the term "Free Software" is ambiguous, it is still better than Open Source. At least

I can say "free software", and by free I mean Mukt
I prefer the term Free Software over Open source

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strange coding practises

Fair warning to all, heavy geek joke ahead. While reading the comp.lang.php Usenet group, I came across this exchange

ctrl+alt+delete writes: I am interested in learning PHP programming and am wondering what IDE people use to work on their projects.

Chung Leong replies to ctrl+alt+delete: I don't use an IDE at all. For my PHP projects, I get assistance from my teacher, Ms Anne Sullivan. All my coding is done by rubbing her palm and touching her elbow.

R. Rajesh Jeba Anbiah clarifies Chung Leong's answer : Chung's doctrines are sometimes too global and sometimes too local to grasp.

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Small courtesies

Small courtesies shown to others do add to to make big positive karma for you. And by small courtesies, I really mean the small things - like a thank you note sent to the developer who worked till midnight on debugging your site to make the Java script work on the fucked up Internet Explorer on Mac. Note to self - send thank you notes to people whose articles I find useful.
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Presentation for developers

Yesterday, I had to give an introduction to the LAMP stack to a group of trainees. My energy was mostly focused on the MySQL and PHP part. I had gone to the workshop with some source code examples and no slides. I am convinced that this is the best way to present talks to a group of developers i.e. using a white board and source code. Though I will not say that the trainees were hanging on to my every word, they asked question and I did not see anyone fall off to sleep :-) . I introduced them to DBDesigener, phpmyadmin, and Adodb.

It also helped that I used these tools in most of the work I do and knew them quite well. I was able to show them how they will be using them in Real Life.

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Advanced PHP Programming impressions

Got myself "Advanced PHP Programming" by Schlossnagle. I started reading it last night, (currently on chapter 3 - "Error Handling"). Excellent book, with clear and good examples. The examples are culled from real life. In chapter 2 (Object Oriented Programming through Design Patterns), he explains how Design Patterns can be applied when making websites. It was one of those "aha!" moments. This is a book I have been looking forward to lay my hands on for a long time.

One complaint though (with the Pearsons's Low Price Edition of this book) is the pathetic quality of figures. It looks like the pages have been photocopied from their original color print.

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Fighting Comment spam

Wordpress has a nifty feature for fighting comment spam. It allows you to blacklist certain words (like Viagra, casinos). Any comment which has those words (either in the URL, comment body or email) is held for moderation.

However, this method is not perfect. For example, the default word list does not contain the words "poker" or "anti-wrinkle cream". I use a combination of Bloglines (my feed reader) and my "Comments RSS" feed. I have subscribed to my "Comments RSS" using Bloglines. This enables me to keep an eye on what comments have been posted on the site.

An aside: Interestingly, I have seen that the spammers target the articles which are older rather than the ones that are fresh. (i.e. my posts of November receive more spam comments as compared to the December ones). I guess, the idea is that once the articles have been moved off from the front page, not many users bother going back to the archives.
Whenever a new comment appears on the blog, I can either respond to it (if it is legitimate comment) or in a quick glance check out what new words the spammers are linking to. Add the new words to the Wordpress's blacklist, rerun the comments through the new blacklist, remove the comments that have been trapped and you are back in business with a spam-comment free blog.

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