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Wednesday, April 25, 2007


So, today I first encountered something... odd. An interesting little bit of culture (or perhaps cultural train wreck) that you really need to see for yourself (descriptions don't do it justice).

What one person has to say about things like this:

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Lord's Prayer - Trique

Here is the version of the Lord's Prayer in Chicahuaxtla Trique, a Mexican indian language only spoken by a couple thousand now (and may be extinct soon, as Spanish is adopted), from a 1966 Trique Bible. I've added a couple annotations indicating what some words are, but I know very little of the language, and everything I do know has come from studying this Trique Bible "studying" for a few hours) and asking my grandpa questions. Those numbers indicate tones (there are five tones in Trique, and syllables can be glides from one tone to another).

Drej3 [father of] nej3 yunj2 [us] huuin2 re'5 [you are] nne2 re'5 [you sit] xata'4a [heaven].
Ni4 [and] ga'mi4 [will speak] nej3 yunj2 [us] sisi4 [if] hua34 sa'5 [be good] nï'5 man'an2 re'5 [your body].
Ni4 [and] ga'na'5 [will arrive] re'5 [you] gui
4nicaj34 re'5 son34 rian34 [on?] nej3 yunj2 [us] ruhua23 nej3 yunj2 [us].
Ni4 [and] gui4'yaj3 [will do] nej3 yunj2 [us] si3 [him?] garan'5 ruhua23 re'5 gui4'yaj3 nej3 yunj2.
Ro'2 'yaj3 nej3 si1 nne3 xata'4a hue2 daj4 gui4'yaj3 [will do] nej3 yunj2 [us] ruhua23 xumigüi5 nanj3.
Ni4 yyaj54 a'yoj3 riqui4 re'5 si3 xa23 nej3 yunj2 nda'43 ngo'ngo4 güi3.
Ni4 nicaj5 re'5 'ngo4 niman23 nico3 nga4 rian34 si-gaquïn'4 nej3 yunj2.
Dadin'34 si3 hue2 daj4 nicaj34 nej3 yunj2 'ngo4 niman23 nico3 nga4 rian34 nej3 si1 'yaj3 gaquïn'4in rian34 nej3 yunj2.
Ni4 si4 ga'ui'2 re'5 permiso si3 gadsïj3 siche3 niman23 nej3 yunj2.
Sani4 nacaj4 re'5 nej3 yunj2 rian34 si1 danj3.
Dadin'34 [because] nicaj34 niganj5 nï'5 re'5 son34.
Ni4 hua34
[there is] nucua1 re'5 [you are strong] nej3 [also].
Ni4 hua34 [there is] hue'e2 [be good] nï'5 re'5 nej3 [also].
Ni4 hue2 [yes] daj4 gahuin2 re'5 [you were] niganj5 nï'5.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Super Shiny!

Well, Q has a new shiny thing to show off, and this one's a whopper (at least if you're a linguist): It's a database of the Lord's Prayer in what looks like a couple hundred different languages. Some interesting samples for those not that interested in linguistics:
Classical Arabic (font required); also Arabic in Roman alphabet
Classical Armenian (font required)
Greek (font required); also Greek in Roman alphabet
Classical Chinese (font required)
Georgian (font required)
Hindi (font required)
Japanese (font required); also Japanese in Roman alphabet
Korean (font required)
Telugu (someone at our company speaks this; font required)
Klingon (different site)
Quenya in Roman alphabet
Sindarin in Roman alphabet
ce1000 AD Old English (not sure about font)
1384 AD Middle English
1559 AD Early Modern English

I don't really see a version of the prayer in Modern English that sounds exactly like how we actually talk. The 1963 version seems the best of the ones on that site. I'd probably write it like this:
Our Father in heaven
May Your name be honored
May Your kingdom be established
May Your will be done
On Earth as in heaven
Give us what we need for now
And forgive our sins as we forgive those who sin against us
Do not test our faith, but protect us from evil
For the kingdom, and the power, and the glory are Yours (this line was actually not present in the original version of the prayer; it was added later on)

I'm working on getting a Trique version from my grandpa, and I should be able to write a Tengwar (elven alphabet) version of the Quenya and Sindarin language versions on the site. Does anyone know Finnish? :P

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Incompetence Weekend Extravaganza!

Well, it was a relatively uneventful weekend. Too little work, too little school, too little World of Warcraft. But there was plenty of incompetence to go around.

It's been a couple weeks since my program at work shipped (I'm a contract worker), and I haven't logged onto the company VPN after that until yesterday. I have a new project to work on, so it's about time I get started on it. I put in my user name and password into the VPN client; several seconds later, my cell phone begins to ring. It's an out of state number, although I recognized the area code as being the same area as my work. I answered it, and got a recording saying something like "please enter your PIN". The fact that my VPN login failed immediately after I hung up (having no idea what PIN they were talking about, or why I was supposed to enter it) made it seem likely that my work had switched to two-factor authentication; that is, after you enter your password, it calls your phone and asks for a second password.

So, I go into the company IRC channel (yes, it is a private, encrypted channel) and start bitching; you know, stuff like "What the **** is this PIN I'm supposed to be entering?" The reply was just as disturbing as the fact that I'd never set, nor been told, my PIN: it was e-mailed to me (in fact, it was the same for everybody)... through the company e-mail system, which is only accessible from the building or through the VPN. Brilliant, Einstein.

The solution ended up being simple and easy, though just as depressing: it appears that everyone in the company had the same default PIN (a trivial number), so it was trivial to find somebody to tell me what theirs is, and get back on the VPN. So, I log on to the VPN, and try to get to work, only to find that the VPN is totally not working, and back to World of Warcraft I went.

So today, I try again. After some more bitching in the IRC channel, Skywing helps me debug the problem. The specific problem was that the routes to the company resources were missing from my computer. Further investigation on my computer and by Skywing on the backend reveal that somebody or something (it actually turned out to be a misbehaving SQL script) had wiped the routes settings for a significant number of people (including all of the development team) on the pre-production server (the one the company uses for testing new versions not yet released to customers), which would have been propagated in turn to the computers of VPN users.

So, Skywing fixed that, and for the first time in a couple weeks I update my CVS checkout and start coding. My latest project relies on a certain third-party library which deals with routers, so I spent quite some time playing with the thing to figure out all the stuff I needed to know that wasn't in the SDK. One of the more puzzling things (when I was first starting out) was that most functions took an "encryption password" parameter. I supposed that that was the key to encrypt the router data it stores in the registry, but at the time it seemed unimportant, as the default value was NULL (suggesting it was optional).

The very first function I called returned an error code indicating invalid key. After some time of tweaking the parameters, trying to fix a variety of things that had the highest probability of being what the error was referring to, I had no luck. Naturally, the next thing I did was get out a debugger and disassembler, and started looking for the cause of the problem in the library. A number of calls to Microsoft CryptoAPI, revolving around that very encryption password, and ultimately resulting in failure, let me to the (correct) conclusion that that value was actually a password to use the library at all. While I haven't spent the time to investigate to certainty, it appears that this password is hard-coded into the library, and the library functions will fail if the proper password is not supplied. As far as I can tell, this password is unique to the copy of the library given to each company that licenses the library. That's pretty much a textbook case of putting a vault door on a straw hut, right there.

I periodically check Slashdot throughout the day, and today was no exception. Much to my continuing dismay, I find Sony doing something so phenomenally stupid that it just blows away any dumb things they've done before (rootkits, anyone?). Of course I'm talking about Sony Strikes Again. In short, Sony has rolled out a new form of DVD DRM that requires old players to receive upgraded firmware to be able to play it; of course, Sony won't have updated firmware for their own players for a few weeks after the new DVDs have already hit stores. I don't know about the real people, but if I were the CEO of Sony, I'd find the person responsible for shipping DVDs that my own players won't be able to play for weeks, fire him, and then call every single media company in Japan to tell them what he had done, ensuring that he would never work in that industry ever again.

My final piece of stupidity, if no further incidents appear while I'm writing this post (it's already happened once today - this very incident occurred while I was telling someone about the Sony incident), involved my further work with the third-party library. To it's credit, however, this wasn't a problem with the library; I merely discovered this while observing it map ports in my router. That is, I discovered that I can view ports mapped with UPnP in the web interface to my router, as well as what programs opened them. This discovery showed me that Windows Live Messenger, for the purpose of direct file sends (of which I've not made any since Messenger was started today), had mapped 39,538 ports to my computer, and was holding them until it was closed. I think that really speaks for itself, so I won't comment additionally on it.

Friday, April 06, 2007


So, for those of you who aren't on the modding community sites I used to frequent (and now visit every so often), I've decided to open-source the legendary MPQDraft (yes, it was an April Fools' prank - that nobody would believe it when they saw the announcement). This will require that I get the whole thing cleaned up and commented, so that I can get it uploaded to SourceForge. After that I really should finish the rather large changes I'm in the middle of making to LibQ, and put it up on SourceForge, as well. Both of these are/will be licensed under the Sun Common Development and Distribution License, so I thought I should explain why I chose this license, as opposed to the more common ones.

There are really only two rules motivating my selection of license. First, as I'm making my code available for public use and reuse, I want to make it available and useful to as many people as possible. Obviously, this means placing as few restrictions on use as possible. I didn't want to limit it to eyes only or noncommercial use only projects. I want people to be able to use the code in open source, closed source, and commercial programs alike.

However, it also implies something else. By open-sourcing my code I can ensure that other people have access to that code. But what if somebody takes my code and improves it? Of course, I'd want others to be able to make use of those improvements as well, or perhaps even merge it back into my original project. This means that, regardless of what programs people use my code in, they have to play by the rules of the code itself. I want a guarantee that any improvements or modifications people make to my open source code are also released as open source. This covers just my code and any additions/modifications that are a functional part of the code I wrote; it doesn't have anything to do with any code developed entirely separately, which just happens to be compiled along with my code in the same program.

Second, I want credit to be given for the use of my code. If not to me, then at least to the project itself. Besides the obvious reason of attribution, this serves to promote the project and increase exposure to it, bringing more potential users. This connects back to wanting as many people as possible to be able to benefit from my code. And, importantly, this is an entirely unrestrictive requirement (can you imagine somebody who would rather not use something that would be useful to them than to put one line in the credits?)

So, those are the basic principles. Next, let me point out why I didn't choose some of the more common licenses. First up is the Do What the Fuck You Want To Public License. It should be obvious why this one fails: it meets neither of my two objectives. There is no guarantee that credit will be given for the use of the code, or that changes will be made available to the public. I actually had never heard of this license (which might as well not be a license at all) before today; I'm just mentioning it because it illustrates why I wanted a license :P

Next is the overly popular General Public License. In my opinion, this is a rather obnoxious license, for the reason that it's as much about politics as it is about legality. While it guarantees that the code will remain free for use, it also guarantees that any programs using the code be free, and publicly available under the GPL itself. This is obnoxious because it means that only free/open source software (FOSS) may make use of GPL code. However, for a rather intimidating majority of the market, FOSS is not a feasible business model, and as such a majority of potential users are promptly excluded. This makes the GPL an extremely restrictive license, and completely at odds with my goals.

Next up is the Lesser General Public License (LGPL). This one came pretty close to meeting my requirements, but not quite close enough. The LGPL lacks the more draconian of restrictions in the GPL, allowing you to link it to code not licensed under the LGPL. While this might leave hope for it being useful to commercial software writers, there were two specific clauses that prompted me to reject it. First, some restrictions on linking to LGPL code make it impractical for closed source programs (and commercial programs even more so) to use LGPL code, if the LGPL code is not completely self-contained (e.g. a DLL that the program links to). This means that the LGPL only could satisfy my requirements if I were releasing a stand-alone library, and not an executable, as I am with MPQDraft.

Second, the LGPL allows modifications to the code to be released not under the LGPL, but under the GPL itself, which would further restrict the use of the code. This means that someone modifying my code would be able prevent people who can use my code from using their modifications to my code. This directly contradicts my ideal of maximum collective benefit from my code.

Finally, there's the BSD license. While this license guarantees attribution (if perhaps to a controversially strong degree) and allows anyone to use my code, it offers no guarantee that modifications or improvements to my code will also be made publicly available. As such, it violates my principle of maximum collective benefit in exactly the opposite way the GPL does; just the same, the BSD license is out.

Lastly, let me give a brief summary of the CDDL, as I intend it:
- You may use the licensed code in whole (the entire program) or in part (individual source files, functions, or methods) in any program you desire, regardless of the license of the program as a whole (or rather, as excluding the code you are borrowing). The program itself may be open or closed source, free or commercial.
- However, in all cases, any modifications, improvements, or additions to the CDDL code (any code that is referenced in direct modifications to the CDDL code is considered an addition to the CDDL code, and so is bound by this requirement; e.g. a modification of a math function to use a fast lookup table makes that table itself an addition to the CDDL code, regardless of whether it's in a source code file of its own) must be made publicly and freely available in source, under the CDDL license itself.
- In any program (source or binary) that uses CDDL code, recognition must be given to the source (either project or author) of the CDDL code. As well, modifications to the CDDL code (which must be distributed as source) may not remove notices indicating the ancestry of the code.

Man that turned out to be a long post.