Friday, October 18, 2013

Musings on the new Ubuntu 14.04 LTS codename

Words are important, codenames doubly so. So when Mr Shuttleworth announced "Trusty Tahr" the codename for Ubuntu 14.04 in this post I thought I'd go look up the creature in Wikipedia ( and see how it fares.

Remembering that Mr Shuttleworth has been big on the convergence theme, even going so far as to claim Apple were following Canonical's lead in nailing an identical operating system in every device (they aren't but thats a different story) and that 14.04 is pencilled in as the big convergence... Well, picking the Tahr as the mascot has a little ironic issue. Lets go to Wikipedia...

 Until recently the three species were believed to be closely related and were placed in a single genus, Hemitragus. 

Good, thats good... very converged and....

Genetic studies have proved that the three tahrs are not as closely related as thought earlier. Now they are considered as members of three separate monotypic genera; Hemitragus is now reserved for the Himalayan Tahr, Nilgiritragus for the Nilgiri Tahr, and Arabitragus for the Arabian Tahr.

The technical term for this is "a bit of a bugger".

Still, Mr Shuttleworth does recount his exposure to the creature

"A small tourist tahr population lived on my favourite Table Mountain, and while they’ve made way for indigenous animals, for a long time they symbolised hardiness and fearlessness, perched as they were against the cliffs."

That's quite delightful. Tell us more Wikipedia....

There is also a population on Table Mountain in South Africa, descended from a pair of tahrs which escaped from a zoo in the 1930s, but most of these have been culled.

Ah, somewhat unfortunate for them and not really "making way for indigenous species". Still, the other Tahr's are doing fine...

While the Arabian Tahr of Oman and the Nilgiri Tahr of South India both have small ranges and are considered endangered...

Now stop that Wikipedia... How about the Himalayan ones?

 ...the Himalayan Tahr remains relatively widespread in the Himalayas, and has been introduced to the Southern Alps of New Zealand.

Ah, excellent, good to see the populat...

 It is hunted recreationally.

Oh come on! That's unfair, unless its really delicious...

The meat, in New Zealand, is considered to be of an acceptable standard.

Well, thats not setting the bar high. Why the hunting Wikipedia?

Tahr are considered a challenging species to hunt in New Zealand due to the high altitude they live at and the steep, bluffy terrain they frequent

They hide in the mountains and are hard to get to. Still, at least they are energetic beast with all that climbing and... OH WHAT IS IT WIKIPEDIA?

A daily routine of feeding up during the morning followed by a long rest period then feed down again at evening constitutes the tahr's daily routine.

I think I'd better leave it there. Good luck with the 14.04. I'd be getting a team on working out what to do for the letter U well in advance though.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Music time - Zero Zero

Did you know that Mike "Wombles" Batt made a sci-fi musical back in 1982? I remember it... and when I had a search earlier I found someone else had too and put the complete Zero Zero up on YouTube.

"I was born number 17, Romeo Delta 59, System 605, Unit 61... But you can call me Ralph."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

It's a Tubular Miracle

Some weeks back, I went out on the Tube. Somewhere around Tooting Broadway, I lost my Fitbit. To be honest I assumed it was gone and after pondering, ordered a replacement. But for a laugh, I put in a lost property query with London Transport.

Today they got back to me. They found it! They identified it based on the journey I'd given. And its waiting for me to give the £4 restoration fee to them at Baker Street where it will be returned to me.

Thats rather splendid.

If you lose something you'll want to go to the online Lost Property Office where you can put in your query.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

As I went looking for some music...

There's a BBC trailer for "What Remains" with a version of "You're Not Alone". It wasn't Olive so I went looking. It's Arlissa and there's a copy of it up on Soundcloud. Enjoy it here.

Codescaling, behind the scenes

In the background on Codescaling, I've been refining the way I write stories. I've gone for the simple route of writing the core text in Markdown in Sublime Text (and Editorial on the iPad soon) and then converting to HTML and pasting into for topping-and-tailing. It seems to be the easiest way to embed links and formatting without being in's dashboard. I've dropped making links open a new window, an old habit from The H, and gone for in place link opening.

The thing that worries me is there's so few following on social media... six on @codescaling on Twitter and three on the codescaling Google+ page. Maybe I need more cat pictures or a "Cat on the coding keyboard" video... "Make them System.exit(1) coding cat!"

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

A little bit of music....

Still loving this track and wondering how to make a short film using it...

...though Person of Interest may have beaten me to it...

... yet it has to lose a potent line of the song to do it. Did you spot it?

A small revamp...

I've brought all the old codepapacy content onto this blog and from now on, this old mess will continue to be my personal blog. I just couldn't rationalise having two rather similar blogs now that is a go. Apologies for any hassles in advance.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013 kicks off....

And now the new project...

It's news about code at different scales, from embedded to clouds.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Papal Indulgences - PyPy, Timelines, Moto X, HTTPS and Lego

  • PyPy 2.1 ARMs up - The Raspberry Pi Foundation helped support the work in finishing PyPy's ARM support and now, PyPy 2.1 has arrived with official ARM support. The update bring JIT support of ARM6 and ARM7 architectures with hard and soft float. PyPy 2.1 targets Python 2.7.2 but also arriving is a beta of version 2.1 of PyPy3, the version of PyPy that targets Python 3 (3.2.3 to be exact).

  • JavaScript Timelines - Timelines can always help put things in context and TimelineJS looks an interesting way of making them. The developers have a generator which starts with a Google spreadsheet which is generated with their template, you publish it to the web and then tell their application where to find it and it churns out all the assets and bits needed to embed a timeline in a site. And the timeline component (which can read JSON, JSONP and Google Docs) is up on Github under the MPL 2.0.

  • Moto X - So, Motorola... your new phone... Always on phone listening for voice commands... interesting. Only hearing one activation command which includes the company name, "Ok Google"? not interested. Fast activating camera by flipping the phone over twice? The engineers need to get out more. Not available in Europe? Well, that saves us some time... put the Popemobile away chaps, we aren't going not shopping.

  • Compression sucks - In the war on HTTPS, a lot has been made of oracle attacks on the compressed data which exploits compression to help reveal the contents of smaller encrypted chunks of data. Ars Technica takes a look at the latest to use that trick, BREACH, which builds off the older CRIME attack.

  • XKeyShootsAndScores - And while HTTPS is being whittled away at, Wikimedia joins the HTTPS-by-default club though its got lots of work to do.

  • Let me Lego - Now some may be interested in the new $350 Lego Mindstorms EV3 Robot, due in the US and UK in September. But I'm more interested in the Lego Architecture Studio which looks like a wonderfully creative thing to work with... but its only in the US because obviously Lego must think we don't have architecture in Europe

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Swiss Guard - BIND 9 denial of service in the wild

Watch out if you run BIND 9 for domain name services . It appears that if you put together a specially malformed rdata part of a request you can take the DNS server down, and that means a denial of service weapon. It appears to be being used in the wild already.  The news comes via the Internet Storm Center and takes us to an ISC Advisory for CVE-2013-4854. BIND 9 versions are all affected, except for BIND 9.6 and 9.6-ESV, but including BIND 9.7 and later. BIND 10 is unaffected. You should see updates from your repositories soon if you use a distro supplied BIND. If you roll your own, head to the ISC downloads page and get to work.

And if you don't have to worry about it, here's a name related song for you to enjoy.

Cuts off a bit sharpish but you can find the full version on Live Lounge 3.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Papal Indulgences - Tor, Peak+, Async C#, Android 4.3 and FAQs

  • Want to run a Tor exit node - check your terms and conditions first. Tim Janik explains 

  • Thats more like it - the Geeksphone Peak+ puts a little bit of muscle into a Firefox OS phone doubling the memory but not a lot else. It's no Edge, but then it's €149+taxes and you could have one in September. The change here is that this phone is for consumers rather than developers. 

  • Xamarin shipped out their async support for C# 5.0. Asynchronicity is a powerful tool, but you do have to make the mindset jump to use it well or be forced into it by the nature of the language environment.

Music Break

  • Waiting for Android 4.3 to land on your device ... here's the official What's New list. Feature I like? Pseudo Locales which are locals designed for English speakers to test their UIs in non-English fonts without making the content inaccessible and therefore untestable. Lots of other small improvements too, visible GPU profiling, notification listeners for context aware apps... 

  • And finally... The Government Digital Service's Sarah Richards FAQs as an anti-user pattern.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Close to the Edge^H^Hit

The Ubuntu Edge project seems to be a worthy attempt to crowd-source a phone. The "Formula 1" analogy that Shuttleworth uses is broken though; Formula 1 cars are prestige platforms for transporting brands in front of television cameras at carefully regulated speeds. A better analogy would be the production-concepts that car makers put out, in runs of tens at best which contain a lot of new tech and ideas. 

The Edge specs are interesting enough, but not that remarkable - 3GB low power RAM chips are just going into production so 4GBs should be coming on stream early next year. 128GB SSDs are around now, though there'll have to be some squeezing done to get them in and quick; one assumes SSDs being used to move the levelling tech off the CPU and onto hardware but I'm not sure what this buys apart from a device which can run with standard desktop Linux filesystems. 

4 core processor with no other detail, not even architecture; well yes we have quad-cores now... in ARM and in ULV Intel chips (so I wouldn't assume the Edge is ARM yet) thats all possible though no talk of GPU leaves that all vague. 1280x720 display with good colour repro... easy enough. Sapphire glass display - hardly new and in the volumes being talked about, pretty doable, but expensive. 

And then there's the elephant in the room. The battery. The non-removable battery. The non-removable Silicon Anode battery. What is Silicon Anode? Well, your current generation of mobile phone battery uses a graphite anode and thats pretty much what sets how much juice you can squeeze into the battery. Silicon is more juice absorbing, so clever chemists have been working on making anodes of silicon. 

But there's a problem; silicon anode batteries are prone to swell and crack when being recharged. So there are a number of startups working on how to solve this problem and turning out iteratively improved versions of batteries as prototypes in early trials.  Right now, these batteries are only being produced on pilot lines and these are first generation partial silicon batteries. Second generation batteries are scheduled for 2014, but full silicon anode batteries are further out. 

So, the real bet on the Ubuntu Edge is the first generation, new technology battery. I'm not a betting man, but if specifications are subject to change, I'd be putting my money on that specification changing.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A $59 Billion Myth

For a licence compliance company, Black Duck can sure generate some real nonsense. Take for example their latest ... "Black Duck Unlocks $59B Opportunity for Enterprises Using Open Source"

Here we are told of the terrible number of projects out there that have no explicit licence. Fair enough, modern public repositories have the problem that people can put code up on them with no licence. Black Duck go on then to say there are often "embedded licences" though so if you know that they are, you can comply with the licences and thats how you can use the code because you are complying with the embedded licences. And so Black Duck software unlocks this software because it lets you comply.


So not Numberwang. The problem with this position is that it ignores the fact that the entire project did not have a licence on it. There may well be embedded licences but they (a) probably belong to exisiting standalone components and (b) only in some very particular cases would the embedded licence pull unlicensed code into a licensed form. This is like some sort of open source fracking process.

Now, Black Duck's backup position is probably "Ah but we can tell you when that is". To which I say, firstly it won't be very often, and secondly where's the probity in yanking unlicensed code off the net and working out that because component X is under license Y, then all the code is under licence Y.

Thirdly, the process shows a distinct lack of regard to the author of the unlicensed code,  gaming what possibly could have been an error or an accidental inclusion, to grab their code. There's this thing called email, it lets you contact people. Modern repositories also have ways of contacting the author. Hey, clone the project, add a license and send a pull request... the author will soon get the message.

But lets be blunt. The value of unlicensed code of unknown provenance on the net is $0. No magic wand is going to turn it into money. If you see an unlicensed repository, drop the repo owner a line, and point them at or similar so they can get a better feel for licensing.

Coming back like I was never away


Must turn that alarm off.

Yes, it's back, Codepapacy, the old blog which went into disrepair and bitrottage while I was busy with The H. Well, no more – The H that is – and lots more me, me, me. STOP RUNNING AWAY. Come back. Sit down. Yes, I'll be handling this as gracefully as one man handles a Jaeger in Pacific Rim (not seen it? It's great; it takes all the stereotypes of Japanese anime/manga robot/monster movies and reblends them into the best robot/monster movie... sorry where was I)... anyway yes, handling this as gracefully as I can. 

Here I will be a little more opinionated. So if you are looking for a The H replacement, now you can RUN AWAY.

Ok. Ready. Here we go... oh hang on, there'll be some music too...

Ok. Now here we go.