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vendredi 12 octobre 2007

"Basically, the Macintosh is mine"

My English, non-French readers are not familiar with the Pontonews articles, so I'll quickly explain. I have been publishing on this weblog my (mostly computer-related) articles written for my high school's newspaper (you can read the previous one if you understand French). I never took the time to translate them, but since this one is an interview which was conducted in English, I thought it didn't take much effort to make an English version.

The interviewee here is Mr Tom "Macintosh Doctor" Johnson, from Purdue University (Indiana, USA), who (as indicated by his nickname) is a Macintosh system administrator. The transcript was typed back from a recording and edited to rephrase what I thought to be incorrect in written English. The interview is published under the Creative Commons BY-SA 2.5 license (with Mr Johnson's permission). He also asked me to warn my readers of possible errors in factual data, which was given from memory and may not be accurate. (This disclaimer was originally included in the introduction to the article, which was written in French and scrapped from this English version.)

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mercredi 4 juillet 2007

"Some of you are intelligent - and therefore won't be teachers!"

The French Baccalaureate is now over, and I have decided to publish here my archive of teacher and student howlers from the past two years. I didn't go into the pain of translating all of them (besides, some would not be as funny) and decided instead to give my English readers only those from English teachers (I followed the OIB, so I spent eight hours per week studying literature and history in English). My comments (if any) follow in italics. They are given in no particular order.

I would like to make it clear that I do not feel that the lessons I got in these two years were of poor quality; quite the contrary. Everybody makes mistakes, and I am sure that the teachers who said those would be (will be?) the first to laugh about them. This being said, here they are.

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mercredi 23 mai 2007

Towel Day Poster - 1.0 « One at a time »

Ugly, quick, dirty, and almost too late, here's a poster for Towel Day.

Document under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. The images in XCF format must be converted in PNG for the ODT document to display them.

Have a nice Towel Day !

mercredi 9 mai 2007

Remember, in September 2006, I wrote a post about jugglers and free software...

... but left as automated translation software fodder, it's immediately funnier. Thanks to many automated translation services online, using GNOME Translate, I proudly present the following disaster. (It's probably better if you already read the original post.)

For those interested in the technical process involved in the creation of the monster, here is the sequence followed:
English => French => German => English => Italian => English => Spanish => English => Chinese => English => Japanese => English

Mayhem starts now.

But for designing the can of this wood of me AM which is brought my because of balance approximately not to lie I observe the extension rearrangement of Polish Krakau of school exchange program period of week (but it does not have). The stop excess differs from the desire of the mine completely; As for those in R of the point to of our principles Strasburgo the fact that it owns 5 o'clock morning 30 hours certainly it goes you understand the fact that when the empty it comes in external one very directly, order of this similar afternoon of the ethyl alcoholic quantity of the profound beverage of of strange in the beverage which is and impression of her cause is done to entusiastico effectiveness I with entirely. Being to observe, becoming tired, in order to use constant as for those those, this extension (when... you read this, mine colleague very being directly good Gregor profit which is indicated) - and as for me in order to explain then this thought, it is this small resemblance free I where me who try disperatamente which it has my lucentezza transaction colleague it possesses those which were negotiated (as for white in you to that kind of thought completely to movement because it is, it is denied, is, it had directly mainly). As for that it is introduced can to give obligation desire the fact that, to that being, in order fairer not to lie to try the fact that possibly you describe, him and this which is extended is I. The work free plan where how is detailed to the software...

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jeudi 12 avril 2007


Now, some music. I don't have much time to waffle. Piano improvisation, around 13 minutes, no title. Recorded "as is", I didn't edit the files in any way.

  • impro.flac, lossless codec FLAC (35,1 Mo)
  • impro.ogg, lossy codec OGG Vorbis (8,5 Mo)
  • impro.mp3, lossy codec MP3 (non-free, less efficient than OGG Vorbis) (11,9 Mo)

OGG Vorbis and FLAC can be read by VLC (free software), download address:

Music is under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

vendredi 10 novembre 2006

EMI's "DRM Circumventing HOWTO"

Unbelievable... I got the info from corsario through StopDRM!: the document it is all about is there. The whole thing is in French, so here's a quick explanation of what's going on: the EMI label maintains a website which explains how to circumvent their own DRM. (quick summary: DRM are more or less anti-copying systems, EMI (cf Wikipedia) is a record label which sells music with DRM, circumventing is forbidden by the newly-adopted DADVSI law in France and by the DMCA in the USA).

Here's a quick translation of the beginning of the front page :

Copy Control has been created as a measure against digital cloning and the uploading of our artists' music on illegal file-sharing networks, while allowing you a complete and free personal use of the music as stated by the law about private copying [translator's note: this is a reference to French law. French citizens pay a tax on storage peripherals (USB drives, DAPs, etc.) and media (blank CDs, etc.) which goes to an organism (the SACEM) whose role is to pay the artists back, and in counterpart they are allowed to make private copies of what they buy, for personal use. However, circumventing a DRM, even for private copying purposes, is forbidden...].

It is indeed possible and simple to make a personal copy of a Copy Control disc, or even to copy the tracks on a computer's hard drive in order, for example, to transfer them to a digital audio player. The principle is that of analog copying: we are going to copy the sound signal emitted by the CD player on another CD or on a computer. This tutorial explains how.

... and of a chosen excerpt from this page :

1. Installing the required software

The first thing to do is to install a recording software on your computer. Most computers have a software coming with the sound card in order to do that; however, for this tutorial, we are going to use the Audiotools software which is available on line for free by clicking here (all info about this software on the website Once the software is downloaded and installed, we are going to connect the hardware.

2. Connection of the hardware

It is required to link the "out" or "line out" plug of the source (CD player, small music player, personal stereo) to the "in" or "line in" plug of the computer's soundcard (usually in blue, at the back of the computer).


It is therefore usually sufficient to plug in a RCA wire on one side (on the player's output) and mini-jack on the other one (on the computer) but this may vary according to your hardware.


Once this is done, we will proceed with the recording of the tracks.

Some thoughts about this:

  • DRM are not yet a consensus, even within their advocates, and the nightmare of a grand unified control system is not for today (as shown by the question of interoperability; it is still war, and there are neither consortia nor monopole for now).
  • DADVSI's revolting dispositions are probably caused as much by incompetence than by lobbying.
  • The fact that DRM are fundamentally inefficient is not the main problem, their aim is to require people to jump through hoops to stop illegal downloading as a social practice (no technical skills are required anymore to do this). Problem: it only complicates the upload, but those who to this have the knowledge, and once it's online, downloading (and serving as a peer) is not more complex.
  • The worse thing about DRM is the lack of info about them being there when you buy something. I could even accept the private copying right to be removed (and the tax along with it, of course) if the protected works were labelled so that I may avoid them. Sadly, DRMised CDs aren't really labelled in a clear way, and the presence of the CSS DRM on DVDs isn't indicated anywhere.

vendredi 3 novembre 2006

The FSF France vs. Free affair, or: lose-lose is better than win-win

Here is a post written hastily in order to be somewhat up to date with the news (and avoid to report them with a few months' delay). It is about the Freebox controversy, about the respect of the GNU General Public License. Although the debate was about quite specialised issues, it was widely reported on French IT information websites:

A quick search on Google did not report any English news article about the topic, so I may be one of the first to report it to the English-speaking world. (Although that, given to Free's national nature, this is in fact local news, and it could well be that nobody's interested after all.)

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dimanche 1 octobre 2006

Juggling and free software - the unexpected link

The parallel I am about to draw in this post occurred to me as I watched a real show, in Poland, Krakow, during a one-week school exchange program (but you don't really need to know). The stay was quite different from my expectations ; I was indeed quite surprised when I understood that, despite our early departure from Strasbourg at 5h30 a.m., everybody was enthusiastic about going out, chatting and drinking impressive quantities of alcoholic beverages this same evening. Therefore I was tired, and, well, impressed, as I watched this show, in which one of my comrades was acting (Gregor, if you're reading this...) - and then I had this idea, this unclear analogy that I desperately tried to explain to my Polish trade partner (yes, I know, you have to be quite mad to have such strange ideas). I would like to stress that this show really took place, and that I tried to depict it in the most accurate way possible. However, I am not thinking about any free software project in particular...

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lundi 17 juillet 2006

L'esthétique du choc

The title of this post (meaning: "the aesthetics of the shock") is the real name of a synthesis done in a French lesson concerning Les Fleurs du mal by Baudelaire.

Did you feel, the 13th of June, in the deepest recesses of your soul, the mute call of the students suffering while writing their papers for the EAF (part of the French Baccalauréat, passed one year before the effective session, in order to reduce the number of papers (and therefore revision work) passed the year after)?

Did you hear, at the end of this month of June, the silent sigh and whisper of the wind, lamenting the hapless students hesitating, stammering, stuttering in front of the sinister face of the examiner while passing their orals?

If not, that's not much of a surprise, because, a mute call and a silent sigh, it's kind of hard to feel or hear them (nevertheless, this kind of waffle is more or less an illustration of what is expected)... But, seriously, I was there, as I was one of the aforementioned students.

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propulsé par DotClear