My fascination with writing systems gave me the idea to create a poster containing every Unicode character. Unicode is a method for encoding characters, like Ascii, but it can represent virtually every writing system in the world, not just English. I estimated I could print the whole thing on about a 36″x36″ poster. Well, my estimates were off. It turned out to be about 6 feet by 12 feet. Likewise, the process of creating the poster turned out to be much more involved than I imagined.
To make a long story short, I downloaded all the character chart PDFs from the Unicode web site. I then made screen captures of every single page, assembling them into code charts in Photoshop, and saving them as PNG images. All together, there were 93 PDFs resulting in 468 grayscale PNGs (102 MBs).
I then wrote software in Java to load in these PNG images, dice them up, and assemble them into the final poster image. The math worked out nicely so that 256 characters would be almost exactly 6 feet wide if printed at 300 dpi. A width of 256 was chosen because most character subsets begin and end at multiples of that value. The software would elliminate unallocated rows to keep things relatively compact.
The image only took about 10 minutes to generate, and its final size is 22,017 x 42,807 pixels.
Als freelancer ben je ook een beetje ondernemer, dus nu – 2005 – moet ik wel elektronisch aangeven. Al maanden krijg ik er regelmatig post over van de Belastingdienst: blauwe enveloppen – ik schrik er elke keer van, maar dan blijkt het weer om een inlognaam, voorlichting of een password te gaan, niet om een aanslag. Voor mijn btw-aangifte laatste kwartaal 2004 waagde ik het erop. Na inloggen moest ik een nieuw password kiezen en een geheime vraag en antwoord kiezen, zodat ik mijn nieuwe password weer kon opvragen. Jarenlang wordt het je ingepeperd om nooit – hoor je: nooit! – aan iemand, wie dan ook, nooit nooit nooit, je pincode te geven. En wie stelt je de geheime vraag: wat is je pincode? De Belastingdienst! De moedersnaam van mijn moeder? Oké. Mijn geboortestad? Oké. Maar mijn pincode, zijn ze nu echt helemaal gek geworden bij de belastingen?
In last year’s European Commission antitrust ruling against Microsoft, the software giant agreed to create a server interoperability licence that would allow rival makers of server software to write applications that can “achieve full interoperability” with Windows client and server operating systems on “reasonable and non-discriminatory terms”.
On Friday the EC rejected Microsoft’s proposed server interoperability licence, saying it had concerns that the licence excluded open-source vendors and charged unjustifiably high royalty fees.
If you’re happy to pay for your iTunes Music Store song downloads, but could live without that pesky DRM stuff the recording companies insist Apple inserts into each file, you’ll be pleased to know that notorious hacker Jon Lech Johansen, he of DVD Content Scrambling System de-coding fame, has figured out how to do just that.
‘DVD Jon’ has posted PyMusique a Python-based utility that offers a “fair interface to the iTunes Music Store”, co-written with Travis Watkins and Cody Brocious. The app provides the usual ITMS features – access to song previews and the ability to set up a payment account and to use it to buy songs – but there are two crucial differences.
First, PyMusique allows you to re-download songs you’ve purchased. So if your hard drive goes up the Suwannee and you haven’t backed it up for a while, you can re-acquire your ITMS-sourced song library.
Second, none of the tracks you download will be encumbered with DRM.
In an effort to increase pressure on North Korea, the Bush administration told its Asian allies in briefings earlier this year that Pyongyang had exported nuclear material to Libya. That was a significant new charge, the first allegation that North Korea was helping to create a new nuclear weapons state.
But that is not what U.S. intelligence reported, according to two officials with detailed knowledge of the transaction. North Korea, according to the intelligence, had supplied uranium hexafluoride — which can be enriched to weapons-grade uranium — to Pakistan. It was Pakistan, a key U.S. ally with its own nuclear arsenal, that sold the material to Libya. The U.S. government had no evidence, the officials said, that North Korea knew of the second transaction.
The Bush administration’s approach, intended to isolate North Korea, instead left allies increasingly doubtful as they began to learn that the briefings omitted essential details about the transaction, U.S. officials and foreign diplomats said in interviews. North Korea responded to public reports last month about the briefings by withdrawing from talks with its neighbors and the United States.
In an effort to repair the damage, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is traveling through East Asia this weekend trying to get the six-nation talks back on track.
The Bush administration lying about WMD’s? I’m shocked! Shocked, I say!
Tom DeLay of Texas says:
“Mrs. Schiavo’s life is not slipping away – it is being violently wrenched from her body in an act of medical terrorism,” DeLay said. “Mr. Schiavo’s attorney’s characterization of the premeditated starvation and dehydration of a helpless woman as ‘her dying process’ is as disturbing as it is unacceptable. What is happening to her is not compassion – it is homicide. She doesn’t need to die, and as long as Terri Schiavo can breathe and her supporters can pray, we will not rest.”
By now most people who read liberal blogs are aware that George W. Bush signed a law in Texas that expressly gave hospitals the right to remove life support if the patient could not pay and there was no hope of revival, regardless of the patient’s family’s wishes. It is called the Texas Futile Care Law. Under this law, a baby was removed from life support against his mother’s wishes in Texas just this week. A 68 year old man was given a temporary reprieve by the Texas courts just yesterday.
Those of us who read liberal blogs are also aware that Republicans have voted en masse to pull the plug (no pun intended) on medicaid funding that pays for the kind of care that someone like Terry Schiavo and many others who are not so severely brain damaged need all across this country.
Those of us who read liberal blogs also understand that that the tort reform that is being contemplated by the Republican congress would preclude malpractice claims like that which has paid for Terry Schiavo’s care thus far.
Those of us who read liberal blogs are aware that the bankruptcy bill will make it even more difficult for families who suffer a catastrophic illness like Terry Schiavo’s because they will not be able to declare chapter 7 bankruptcy and get a fresh start when the gargantuan medical bills become overwhelming.
And those of us who read liberal blogs also know that this grandstanding by the congress is a purely political move designed to appease the religious right and that the legal maneuverings being employed would be anathema to any true small government conservative.
Those who don’t read liberal blogs, on the other hand, are seeing a spectacle on television in which the news anchors repeatedly say that the congress is “stepping in to save Terry Schiavo” mimicking the unctuous words of Tom Delay as they grovel and leer at the family and nod sympathetically at the sanctimonious phonies who are using this issue for their political gain.
Heidi Brown was told she could park her new scooter outside the vehicle registration office while she waited to get license plates.
To her horror, it was blown up by the army after someone reported that it might be a bomb.
Police in Ipswich, eastern England, confirmed on Thursday that a moped had been blown up in a controlled explosion after local business people “raised concerns” that it could be a bomb.
“The moped was chained to the perimeter fence outside the building. We weren’t able to identify whose vehicle it was because there were no license plates on it,” said a spokeswoman for Suffolk police.
Today, Attorney-General Verkade delivered his opinion regarding the Scientology case to the Dutch Supreme Court. In this case the Church of Scientology accuses Karin Spaink of copyright infringement for making parts of their course material available on her website. By publishing this material, Spaink wants to inspire a public debate about the nature of the cult.
According to his 82 page opinion, Verkade is of the opinion that under certain circumstances freedom of speech, as protected by art. 10 EDHR, prevails over copyright. To quote Verkade: “Although copyright resides under Article 1 of the First Protocol of EDHR and can therefore be regarded as a human right, this does not exempt copyright from being balanced against the right to freedom of information.”
The opinion also contains essential remarks about the right to quote, especially with regard to the question of whether a work that is quoted from has been legally published.
According to the Attorney-General it is not necessary for the author of the work to have given his consent to publication. In this particular case, making a work available to the public by a court library, as happened with
the Fishman Affidavit, is sufficient for the work to have been legally published. Hence it may be quoted from by third parties.
If Supreme Court follows the advice of its Attorney-General, the ruling in appeal will stand. The Supreme Court will rule on July 8, 2005.
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), one of the entertainment industry’s most powerful congressional allies, will remain at the forefront of the national debate over copyright and illegal downloading after being named to head a new subcommittee on intellectual property.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) today officially christened the panel, which will have jurisdiction over copyright, trademark and patent law, as well as treaties intended to protect American intellectual property overseas.
The mounting dangers that piracy poses to the U.S. economy helped spur the move, Specter said after the announcement. “It’s a big, tough subject. We lose billions each year. We have a national treasure named Orrin Hatch who is happy to take over the subcommittee, and I was happy to establish it,” Specter said.
The Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman said “we lose billions each year”. Amazing how open and honest he is about being paid by the RIAA.
Paul Schaefer – a former Nazi medic, Baptist preacher and alleged cult leader – has finally been captured in Argentina after eight years on the run.
His arrest means he may face trial on outstanding charges of the sexual abuse of young boys in Chile.
Mr Schaefer, who is in his 80s, has also been denounced by former followers and by human rights campaigners.
For them, his capture signals the end to decades of impunity for what they allege are his strange and terrible crimes.
Paul Schaefer was a medic in Hitler’s army during World War II. After the war, he set up an evangelical ministry and a youth home, purportedly to care for war orphans.
But he was charged with sexually abusing two boys – and in 1961 he fled to Chile, reportedly accompanied by some 70 followers.
There, in a lush valley in the Andean foothills, he set up Colonia Dignidad – now renamed Villa Baviera.
The colony near the city of Parral, some 350km (220 miles) south of Santiago, grew to about 300 members – mostly German immigrants, or their descendants, but including some Chilean followers.
The 137-sq-km (53-sq-mile) Colonia Dignidad boasted a school, a hospital, two airstrips, a restaurant, and a power station, and reportedly made millions of dollars through a diversified range of businesses, including agriculture, mining and real estate.
It won over local people by offering jobs and free schooling and hospital care.
Details of life in the colony are hard to verify. Some visitors have described a scene from 1930s Germany, with women wearing aprons, with their hair in pigtails, and men in lederhosen.
Defenders say the members of the colony may be eccentric, but they are harmless, and in fact do good.
“I know them, and I like them,” Otto Dorr Zegers, a prominent Chilean psychiatrist who has worked in the Colonia Dignidad hospital, told the New York Times.
“Their ideology is a little bit old-fashioned, like that of the Mennonites who went to the United States, but nothing justifies the co-ordinated, synchronised lies and distortions that have been invented about them.”
“The question that must be asked is this: How can this be possible?” Georg Dick, the German ambassador to Chile, said in an interview in the capital, Santiago, 250 miles north of this place where the group holds sway. “I have heard a lot of explanations, but I still do not understand how a group living in a closed area, accused of various crimes, can defy a free and sovereign state.”
Chilean investigators say part of the answer lies in the “web of protection” supplied by sympathetic military and police officials nurtured by the group’s leaders during the long dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Though the general’s rule ended nearly 13 years ago, those allies still hold powerful positions.
With this influence, Colonia Dignidad has managed to fight what Jaime Naranjo Ortiz, a senator who led a committee that investigated the group in the mid-1990′s, called “a guerrilla war in the courts” financed largely by its success in transforming a colony founded as a charitable organization into a diversified business group.
“They easily control properties and enterprises worth more than $100 million through their various holding companies,” he said. “They are involved in real estate, mining, commerce and agriculture, just like any of several better-known business conglomerates in this country.”
Other legislators suspect that the Chilean government is reluctant to move against Colonia Dignidad for fear of a collective suicide, like the one in Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978, or a violent confrontation similar to the deadly standoff at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Tex., in 1993. The group has encouraged such concerns by distributing fliers around its compound warning that it is prepared to “take a drastic decision” if pushed too far.
“We are at the beginning of a long ball of yarn that must be unwound,” said Jorge Allende, the head of the victim-protection program in the local prosecutor’s office in the nearby town of Talca, which assisted the four escapees.
Morales told Knight Ridder that many of the colony’s older residents were forced to work 16-hour days, denied money due them and sometimes beaten. That is largely why he left, he said.
One of the colony’s founders, Harmut Hopp, explained its rigors in a December 1987 interview with El Mercurio, a conservative Chilean newspaper. “Work should be the purpose of human life,” he declared. He called leisure time a “malformation in modern man.”
One of South America’s poorest countries, Ecuador, is believed to be sitting on huge untapped reserves of oil and gas.
Much of it, though, lies beneath remote areas of the Amazon rainforest.
Now the indigenous people of the region are starting to organise themselves politically in a bid to keep the oilmen out of their ancestral homes.
In global oil terms, Ecuador is a relatively small player. But revenues from its existing Amazon oil reserves are critical in keeping the country’s economy afloat.
Now, with the country sitting on huge potential new reserves, there is enormous pressure to expand production.
The difficulty is that much of it lies beneath pristine virgin rainforests which are legally designated indigenous tribal territories.
In 1999 the government sold exploration rights in two areas, known as Blocks 23 and 24, which are at the heart of Indian reserves – without consulting the tribes involved.
Six years later and exploration has yet to get under way.
There are three indigenous peoples living within these Blocks: the Achuar, Shuar and Kichwa peoples. Each has set up political organisations to help keep the oilmen out of their territories.
One reason that there is such bitter opposition to the plans is that Ecuador’s original Amazon oilfields have left a legacy of deforestation and environmental damage.
The American company Texaco first discovered oil in Ecuador 40 years ago.
Secoya Indians and environmental activists disrupt a ChevronTexaco news conference in Quito on 2 February
Now, almost 15 years since it pulled out of the country, the company – which has become ChevronTexaco – is facing a multi-billion-dollar lawsuit there.
The company is on trial, accused of using outdated technology which contaminated the soil and water systems, causing widespread health problems.
ChevronTexaco denies the charges, claiming that it carried out an effective clean-up programme before leaving the country.
But whatever the outcome of the case, those in the southern Amazon basin are understandably reluctant to let the oil companies in.
“We know that here in Ecuador the industry has had a significant environmental impact,” said an Achuar leader, Santiago Kawarin.
“It’s had a cultural impact too, creating all sorts of social problems for indigenous communities. That is why from the very beginning we have said No, we won’t work with the oilmen.”