Giving Back to the Community

A couple of months back I started attending some meetups here in Melbourne and over a month ago I was able to attend my BarCampMelbourne (my first BarCamp!) and it was a great experience. What struck me most as I look back, is that there aren’t any kind of meetups like this back home in Brunei, at least to my knowledge. Events and meetups such as these rely on people giving back to the community and for regular meet-ups, to be consistent about it.

At one meetup, there was a company saying that they wanted to open source part of their product in order to give back to the community but it would take time for them to do so as it would take time for them to sort out their code and make it nice enough to publish: especially since it would represent the company. Sometimes they also have to separate out what code that they can release as open source, as some code may be libraries used which they may not have rights to distribute. I acknowledge that no company wants to put out bad code or give out something that isn’t theirs to give, but I also acknowledge that it is a point for procrastination: an excuse or crutch to fall back on and also possibly thinking that the code/work isn’t good enough. Or perhaps that is just me.

I pledged to code the SMARTER Android app over 1 and a half years ago and I did deploy a webapp for them to use to internally as well as an Android app what utilized the exported data from the webapp. After that I was caught up in finishing up my work before heading off to Australia and I guess I fell off the wagon in terms of developing that system further and keeping in contact with SMARTER as a whole. So by next week I hope to open source both the webapp and Android app and follow up with them, if there is anything further that can be done. I know the programs aren’t perfect, I know the code isn’t perfect, I know that there is room for improvement and I know that there is work to be done.

Over the next few weeks I’ll try document what I’ve done and also future goals that we hope to achieve. I used the word ‘we‘ as I hope to get other developers / contributors on board. I want this to be a base for contributing back to the community of Brunei and I am open to contributors / suggestions / feedback.

Impartial Law

When I read the article entitled “Setting Priorities Straight” by Ignatius Stephen earlier this month I felt pretty disgusted with the way things got settled.

“Mr. Ambassador, sir, your car is being locked. Hurry, hurry!” cried the head waiter who came running. “Talk to the officers, please. Quick! Mr. Ambassador!”
….
“Sorry, I parked here. But mine is a diplomatic vehicle. Ours is a new mission here and meanwhile I am waiting for a diplomatic car number plate,” the emissary explained to the arms of the law.

Point on contention being that it seems that just because the person is an ambassador they think they can get away with the wrong doing of parking in a place they are not supposed to park. I for one am utterly disgusted with this. Just because the person is of a high social rank, he/she can get away with their actions despite being in the wrong, and in this case breaking the law. Laws are in place to maintain order. If we break it, we deserve punishment. I believe there is room for leniency, but in this situation that does not apply.

On a side note, what use is a law if it is not enforced? I sure many of us remember the raid of the kedai komunis (translated to “communist shop” (if anybody knows the origin of this do leave a comment)), that sold nothing but pirated CDs and VCDs at the time. There was a major operation to rid the country of these pirated materials. It happened once or twice but and after that, it seemed that they did not seem to care about piracy anymore. The kedai komunis is still there, selling the same old pirated goods. More recently last year they raided an IT computer school (I would give links but can’t seem to Google search within brudirect.com) for usage of pirated software and the typical non enforcement after that.

The most recent law in place is the prohibition of smoking in specific places according to the Tobacco Order 2005 and it was finally fully enforced on 1st February 2008. A friend of mine happened to be in a situation where she had to suffer the negligence of smokers smoking in an area where it was prohibited. She gestured towards the non-smoking sign and was given a sour face by the smoker. Who didn’t even stay to finish the meal but got up and left. Also reported in the papers:

One patron said he warned them about the new rules, but they ignored him. (source)

People need to learn to be less selfish and more socially responsible. If you want to smoke and decide to put yourself though the health risk, you may but let it not harm/effect the lives of those around you.

The order also makes it an offence to smoke in certain public places and vehicles and anyone found guilty of violating the order will face a fine not exceeding $1,000.

I for one would love to see the Tobacco Order to be enforced so we can leave in a cleaner Brunei. We as a people of Brunei need to do something. Let us not be innocent bystanders suffering at the hands of others. Let us do something.

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Problems with The GIMP and our answering behaviours

While doing some image editing manipulation with The GIMP (they really need a proper name, especially with the meaning of gimp) (OpenOffice.org needs to do the same: just drop the ‘.org’ in the product name and all is fine).
Anyway I ran into an issue where I couldn’t burn/smudge/blur the current active layer. Create a new image and I could, but I couldn’t on any layer in the image I was currently editing. It was strange and frustrating. Google’d and found this forum post.

At the top-right of the layers dialogue box there is a checkbox. Uncheck it and the problem will be solved.

I did not understand it especially as I didn’t have any checkbox as show below:
where the heck is the checkbox?
Unless I pulled a stupid, I just want to highlight a problem with this ‘help’. It tells you how to solve an issue based on a certain version/situation by telling the person to do something without explaining what or why he/she is doing it. This does not teach the person anything rather than to follow instructions blindly. When answering questions such as this, it is best to educate, especially when giving answers on the Internet, where sharing of knowledge is what it should be about. Please people there is way too much dribble drabble on the net and recently while doing other searches I’ve seen a person ask a question only to be replied by another asking why he/she wants to do that or questioning them on scenario but that would not change the outcome of the proper answer
Example
Question: Why won’t my car start?
Reply: Is you car blue?

Real-life Example
Can you play HD videos on the eee?

s96024 – 18:54 09 Jan 08

Is there a way to play hd videos on the eee. Perhaps with hardware or software updates. I am running XP and have upgraded to 1gb of RAM. It plays normal video fine, but HD will barely play and is unwatchable. Is there anyway to get it to play these videos or is it just not powerful enough. It’s the only thing my eee can’t do that I want it to.

colin987 – 19:02 09 Jan 08

HD?? – please explain – the 800×480 screen isnt high res enough to benefit from HD. Even the video out is VGA?

But anyway have u tried overclocking the chip. The 900mhz chip is only clocked at 630 when u buy it! Theres room to squeeze more out of it? But anyway Im not sure its a power issue more the fact it doesnt have as many pixels as HD?

s96024 – 19:39 09 Jan 08

It’s for outputting onto tv. I used to do it with my desktop via vga and it would play in HD quality.

colin987 – 21:22 09 Jan 08

You must be mistaken, because VGA is 640×480 and HD is higher res than that!
Anyway Yoni says that VLC is a better video player, you could install that on the EEE and try it?

s96024 – 08:39 10 Jan 08

Well when I play the files through my desktop via a vga cable to my hdtv. The picture is as good as hd-dvd’s played on my xbox 360 hd player. VGA cables are capable of transferring hd content. I think the eee just lacks the power to process it quickly enough. I use vlc player but it will play the first few seconds then gives up. Thanks anyway. I’ll just have to accept it can’t do it.

colin987 – 09:01 10 Jan 08

Re ‘VGA output graphics chip & socket can transfer HD content’ – just cant be true can it?

s96024 – 17:12 10 Jan 08

You can use vga, component or hdmi. All can connect HD equipment.

Anyway whether I can connect using vga to play my hd films was not my question. I have been doing it for ages. I wanted to know whether there was a way of getting it to play smoothly.

colin987 – 17:23 10 Jan 08

Sorry but you seem to be missing the point that even though a Screen may also have a VGA input, if you go through the EEE port / graphic chipset you will never get HD resolution anyway!

s96024 – 20:32 10 Jan 08

I played HD films through my xbox 360 HD-DVD player using a vga connection and I definitely got a HD picture. I had my pc connected via a vga cable for a year and have watched loads of HD films through it with a HD picture.

colin987 – 21:32 10 Jan 08

Yes but surely ur ‘VGA’ cable from the Xbox actially went from two AV sockets (on the X360) to a VGA style connector on the monitor?

It was my understanding The ‘VGA socket’ output pins on the EEE cant carry signal out at the definition u want?

I thought the hardware / graphics chip limits it but it would be nice if I was wrong – I will check with Asus and get back to u

colin987 – 20:09 11 Jan 08

Mr S96..,

Please accept my appologies I was partially wrong.

It looks like (in theory) the hardware on the EEE could play HD to an external monitor.

Would require installing capable drivers though to achieve it – this appears to be what the sticking point might be, however u know what those Linux guys are like – any excuse to sit round for weeks a hacking a source code driver! lol

colin987 – 09:06 12 Jan 08

S96,
The linux boys r working on HD drivers
The XP EEE girls however have already done it! Take a look at this 1600×900 video

quite complicated driver install though. But detailed howto on the EEE forum

Now a Linux WanabEEE. I dont even eat Ready Salted Crisps any more, I Salt-&-Shake my own!

Even if something doesn’t make sense but is possible, please just give the answer and your comments (why it is wrong / bad to do that, etc.) following it. It saves people time and frustration. When a question could have been answered in a reply or 2, but instead goes on a tangent without answering the question it annoys me. Heck it annoyed me just reading the thread, I was like “Get to the point!”. Maybe it’s the sickness that been going around and that is currently residing in my cells. That being said tangents are nice if perhaps you are waiting for a reply from somebody and it keeps the conversation going or introduces something else to talk about but I guess I have a problem when the tangent topic becomes the main topic pushing the previous main topic to the side waiting to see the light of day.

Wrapping around an Eclipse

While playing around with Android I found out that Eclipse has no word wrap feature! It’s annoying but there is a plugin extension addon feature for it here. However it does not label the wrapped lines properly: the wrap line is considered as a new line not an extension of the previous one and it has not been updated since it’s first release in July 2006. How much longer do we have to wait for a ‘simple’ word wrap?

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Booted from Starbucks

The headline of this article.

The 70-year-old Lisle woman was kicked out of the Starbucks in downtown Glen Ellyn a few weeks ago. She claims it was because employees mistook her as a homeless person, part of a purge the store waged to mollify customers who complained that the coffee shop was overrun with the homeless.

When Kilborn refused to leave, police officers responded to make sure she left.

By the time it was over, Kilborn recalls standing outside the Starbucks – fuming.

“I had my coffee in my hand,” she said. “It’s still too hot to drink – that’s how little time passed.”

Kilborn says the public needs to learn a little more tolerance.

“People shouldn’t be told to leave after buying a cup of coffee,” she said. “No one should be humiliated like that.”

“Homelessness isn’t just restricted to one county,” said Debbie DeGraw, director of marketing and development for McHenry County PADS.

“It’s an issue for everyone to deal with,” she said. “Yet people are like, ‘not in my backyard.’ Nobody wants it in their communities.”

That’s just human nature.

Legal experts say a public business ordinarily can’t refuse service to anyone. But if a customer is making others uncomfortable, a merchant can ask that person to leave.

However, advocates note, the homeless have rights, too.

When I read the article I just felt compelled to say something about it. Tolerance, our rights and our neighbours. All of us are selfish: we want our space, our rights, our way. It’s human nature. We are taught to share our toys not keep them to ourselves. I’ve heard the phrase “sharing is caring” and in the most part it is true. In a sense optimal benefit is obtained when we share. But our inner most being wants things our way, forgetting that the things or people preventing us from getting our own way are not much different that we are. They are just another human being on this Earth, just like you.

Differences are easy to point out and easy to be used as excuses to not like another person, to ostracize them. Why can’t we all just get along. “Love your neighbour as yourself“: That was what I was reminded as I read the article. Even though you don’t see homeless people in Brunei (which I thank God for, not because that I don’t want to see them, but at least it means there are not that many, if any, suffering with the problem here) the article just reminded me of what am I doing to help out another fellow man. No matter how much you do it can never be enough. Just like the story of a man on a beach full of starfish washed ashore and throwing some back in. It makes a difference to those thrown back in. And in the story, parallels will life can be drawn: some of those starfish will just die out there without anybody to help them. Lost and alone without anybody being there for them.

So as I leave this thought for myself and hopefully anybody else:
Love your neighbour as yourself

Matthew 22:36 – 39
36Master, which is the great commandment in the Law? 37 Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.