Category Archives: Computer

Wrong Superhero – Why Apple doesn’t Deserve the Praise it’s Receiving

The “FBI–Apple encryption dispute” has come to an – preliminary, at least – end with the FBI announcing yesterday that they have no interest any more in Apple assisting them to recover user data from a seized iPhone that once was used by a terrorist. The FBI says that they have been able to recover the data without Apple’s help. Apple has received much public support for their opposition to provide software to recover the data from the phone. I believe that Apple doesn’t deserve this sympathy and is the wrong superhero to adore. Contrary to what they say in their press releases, Apple is not protecting their user’s freedom. Even though they might have put security measures into place that are distinguishing compared to those of other competitors, Apple’s products are mistreating their users just as any other product based on proprietary software. Sadly, there is no smart phone available today that runs exclusively on free software and gives control to the user instead of the vendor, which is why I don’t use or even have a smart phone.

The whole talk about the “FBI–Apple encryption dispute” is highly disturbing. Continue reading


Update: Installing Molden on 64bit Debian based GNU/Linux Systems

Quite some time ago, I have posted a script that attempts to install Molden. This has become a very popular post but when I read the script again recently, I felt a strong obligation to post a much cleaner way to do things. The following instructions should work for any Debian based GNU/Linux distribution. This includes Ubuntu, but – while in the past, I have been using Ubuntu myself – I cannot recommend it any longer because it does a poor job in respecting your freedom. If you like Ubuntu‘s look & feel but value your freedom, you might want to give Trisquel a try. Anyway, this is about getting Molden to work. Continue reading

SCC Supports OpenVPN

After having had lots and lots of troubles with the proprietary Juniper VPN client (On some GNU/Linux versions including the distro used by the computational chemistry group it refused working at all!) formerly exclusively recommended by our university’s IT management, the Steinbuch Centre for Computing (SCC), I was very happy to see that now (since when?) they also support OpenVPN.

On my Ubuntu 10.04 + GNOME 2 system, running

sudo apt-get install network-manager-openvpn-gnome
sudo -r shutdown now

(yes, it needs to reboot…) was sufficient to allow me importing the configuration file provided by the SCC into the GNOME NetworkManager. (VPN Connections → Configure VPN… → Import Then enter your user name and password and confirm.) The configuration file along with some additional information is available from the SCC’s website.

It should be installed by default but if not, first install OpenVPN via

sudo apt-get install openvpn

I hope many students and employees will now use OpenVPN so they switch from trial to regular operation. Kicking out the Juniper client was an important step for me towards a fully free desktop.

Safe Directory Hopping “with” Python

Some applications need hopping around a lot between different current working directories (CWD). If you are writing such one, you might get worried that at some point control is lost and the CWD might differ from what you expected. This could certainly lead to potentially harmful consequences.

Since Python 2.5 there is a really cool feature: the with statement. There is a nice article by Fredrik Lundh [1] explaining how it works. Here I present a way to keep control over your application’s CWD making use of it.

Continue reading

Easier Quotations in LaTeX with dirtytalk

I found it annoying that in LaTeX one has to type

``hello world''

or even

\glqq{}Hallo Welt\grqq{}

when writing German. I also thought that the computer could do the task of deciding whether double or single quotes shall be used. And—most important—I would like to be able to change the behavior at a later time.

This is why I wrote a package to do that. Here it is: dirtytalk

You can use it to write

Alice said: \say{I found a horrible mistake in \say{your} thesis, Bob!}

and get

Alice said: “I found a horrible mistake in ‘your’ thesis, Bob!”

You can specify any other symbol to be used for opening or closing quotes and for nested ones.

To produce the .sty file, run latex on dirtytalk.ins. After that, you can create the documentation file by running latex or—if you prefer—pdflatex on dirtytalk.dtx

This is the first time I wrote a package so I hope it won’t be too \say{dirty} and would be glad if someone finds it useful. Any comments and suggestions will be appreciated.