Norwegian Constitution Day, Free Software panoramas and software patents

Today is Norwegian Constitution Day.

In 2007, I spent my honeymoon in Norway. That was a fantastic journey!

As a reminiscence, I wanted to finally create some panoramas I photographed then. Thanks to Hugin this really is fun:

Tromsø panoramic view

Tromsø panoramic view, taken with 11 separate shots from the plateau before the arctic cathedral on 2007-05-18

There is one downer, though:

You need to connect the pictures somehow. You can either do this manually (tedious) or you can use autopano-sift-c. This gives you an ugly warning, though:

The use of this software is restricted by certain conditions.
See the "LICENSE" file distributed with the program for details.

The University of British Columbia has applied for a patent on the SIFT
algorithm in the United States.  Commercial applications of this software may
require a license from the University of British Columbia.

Another story how software patents harm innovation!

Successful advocacy: Linux, the kernel and GNU, the OS.

I spotted one of those “Linux, the operating system” inaccuracies and wrote a friendly mail to Jeff Elkner, the author of Here’s what he replied:

Thanks, Michael!  I've changed "Linux is an operating system" to
"Linux is an operating system kernel" and changed "thousands" to

I decided against the appositive you suggested at the end, since it
would require more explaination (what is the GNU system?) and make the
paragraph more difficult to understand.  I'll be sure to look for
other opportunities (particularly in the new preface) to promote
software freedom.

Thanks again!

jeff elkner

Great to see such prompt and positive resonance!

Now it’s YOUR turn to convince (as an example) to use less confusing terminology! :)

Fellowshiptreffen in Bonn, 2009-09-30

Am Mittwoch den 30. ab 19 Uhr findet auf Anregung von Bonner Fellows
ein Treffen in Bonn-Beuel in der Kneipe der Brotfabrik Bonn, Kreuzstraße 16, 53225 Bonn, statt.

Lage der Brotfabrik in Openstreetmap: lat=50.74090, lon=7.12340

Lage der Brotfabrik in Openstreetmap: lat=50.74090, lon=7.12340

Selbstverständlich dürfen auch alle anderen Fellows teilnehmen! :-)

Viele Grüße

FrOSCon 2009 résumé

Last weekend, FSFE again had a booth at Froscon, St. Augustin, Germany. As all the last years, the event showed a nice atmosphere and the organizers did a good job to keep us happy. We all had some interesting conversations and some new Fellows will join us. :) Incredibly many people volunteered for the booth, here’s just three of them:

Booth of FSFE at Froscon 2009

Booth of FSFE at Froscon 2009

Matthias and I were interviewed by a german radio station and I had the opportunity to fail at finding the reverse gear at Rainer’s “way of life”.

Rainers way of life: Freedom 2CV

Rainer's way of life: Freedom 2CV

So, it were two hard but successful days for Free Software again!

“Open Source”, ein bloßes Werbeetikett

Am 25. Juli wird – durch unsere GEZ-Gebühr gesponsert – von 1live ein “Open Source Festival” veranstaltet. Es handelt sich um ein schnödes Musikfestival, wie ich den Presseinfos entnehmen konnte.

Dies zeigt wieder einmal, wie bedeutungsleer der Begriff “Open Source” ist und wie er als bloßes Werbeetikett missbraucht wird – mal für ein Musikfestival, mal für Software, die dem Benutzer die grundlegenden Freiheiten verwehrt. Deshalb sprechen wir von Freier Sotware und sorgen dafür, daß diese Marke nicht entwertet wird.

FTF licencing workshop in Amsterdam / Borders still exist in Europe

I had the great possibility to do some volunteer work for the FTF licencing workshop taking place from 23rd to 24th in lovely Amsterdam. It was an interesting experience meeting so much lawyers instead of the hackers usually found at conferences, they seem not all to be so scary. ;)
FSFE got really positive feedback from the participants and after closing Friday evening at 17:00, a small international group of people from the US, Taiwan, Denmark, Germany and Ireland teamed up to explore Amsterdam which does not only feature the world famous red light district but also a little China and some other evenly beautiful but much less crowded alleys. The team even visited some coffee shop and – naturally – drank some coffee.
Problems only arose when I wanted to leave the mousetrap of Amsterdam again:
The ticket selling machine at the station wasn’t accepting my Maestro ec card. Maestro really sucks in this aspect as you never know whether a machine accepts international cards or not. OK, so I tried a credit card – but alas, I didn’t have the PIN needed for such transactions, just ever used it online where you only have to enter dates. D’oh!
OK, so I had to pull a number and line up for getting a ticket at a counter. Guess what: I had to wait long enough to miss the train I wanted to take, having to take a more expensive connection and leaving me with half an hour of time to enjoy the view of Amsterdam. Luckily, when I strolled around looking for what to do with my time, I ran directly into the arms of one of last night’s team, giving us the chance to have some coffee together and have a look at some pictures of my daughter.
The next reminder that borders still exist hit me when we approached Venlo.
The train suddenly went very slow and my laptop, which I had only connected via the power plug, went off in the middle of the sentence I typed. D’oh again!
Apparently, due to historical reasons, the electrical conditions for trains differ between the Netherlands and Germany. I hadn’t thought about it anymore, but now I remember! :)
All in all, it was a very nice weekend!