July 19, 2014

The Two Speeds of Cycling in Britain

I’m increasingly finding that many people who want to cycle in Britain, have two options for their style of cycling. Note this doesn’t apply everywhere, however is particularly prevalent in Ipswich, Suffolk and other places that I’ve cycled.

If you are in the mood for cycling slower at a pootling pace, or have kids learning to cycle, you can use some pavements where cycling has been legalised. However when there are higher pedestrian flows, you’ll often have to travel slowly at walking pace, thus negating the advantage of cycling for those sections of the journey. This means the journey time is extended, and made more tedious and less enjoyable.

The alternative used by faster cyclists is to keep up with the speed of motor traffic and to take the lane. This would mean cycling at 20, 30 or more mph. I can manage the odd sprint at 20mph on the level, or 30mph on a downhill stretch, however it’s not something I can manage for longer sprints or whole journeys.

I have had occasions in the past where I’ve kept a fairly constant distance of a couple of bicycle lengths from the vehicle in front, and had the driver behind either honk their horn at me for being in the way, or dangerously overtake to squeeze in between me and the vehicle in front. Thus keeping your wits about you, taking the lane, and travelling at a similar speed to the vehicle in front doesn’t appear to be a valid option either, even so I’ve regularly been told to do this by experienced fast cyclists.

Being able to cycle at a speed between walking pace and motor vehicle pace is the ideal solution, however the current road environment in Ipswich and many other parts of Britain doesn’t make it easy to travel at a comfortable pace. For example being able to cycle somewhere without breaking into a big sweat, at a speed faster than walking pace.

Ipswich has a lot of pavements where cycling has been legalised, however you are generally having to negotiate pedestrians. I’m told that if you don’t like that, then you should be on the road, however I find that to be a horrible experience too, and it’s also dangerous due to the big metal boxes on wheels, that could kill me.

Quiet residential and service roads do allow for the middle pace of cycling, however they are often riddled with pinch points, traffic calming, rat runs, on-street car parking, or busy periods(or just lots of traffic). Thus these roads are often not perceived to be safe for cycling on by many would be cyclists, or parents wanting to let their kids to cycle.

Ipswich does have a few great bits of cycle infrastructure, such as a section of Rope Walk, which has been closed to through motor traffic, and pedestrians respect it due to the wide pavements, and the road like feel of it. There is a downside in that just to the north there is a rat run, which is on National Cycle Network Route 1, as drivers in the morning peak try to avoid a set of traffic lights. In the other direction, there’s a junction which has made it to the Warrington Cycling Facility of the Month.

Ravenswood and Kesgrave/Grange Farm are more recent housing estates in the Ipswich area, which have high quality cycle paths through the areas, limited through motor vehicle access, and some of the highest cycle to school rates in the country. However many of those people don’t venture out of the area by bike. The bike paths are just a 3 metre wide bit of tarmac with a white line down the middle, which simply isn’t wide enough for catering for both fast cyclists, and people wanting to cycle side by side talking to each other.

The new Ipswich Northern Fringe or Ipswich Garden Suburb, as it’s now called, is due to have high quality cycle paths throughout. A high quality cycle route is also needed from the new development in the north to the town centre, however it’s hard to find the best possible route that will be used, as any route that is chosen will need the through motor traffic removed due to the narrow streets and park (which is closed at night) in the way. My fear is that the compromise will produce a route which won’t entice the new residents on to their bikes or buses.

Finally, how do we get some of the current older cyclists, and campaigners who are happy with the current road conditions for cycling and are holding back campaigning for cycling facilities that will encourage more people to cycle, to accept that the current two tier system is inadequate?

July 14, 2014

“To whom much has been given, much is expected in return” – Free Software economics

To quote the gospel of Luke (12:48) before discussing Free Software is rare, yet not unseen, and this blog will not shy away from creating new rarities every month. Let’s start right away. What do projects such as OpenSSL, LibreSSL & LibreOffice have in common? They are Free Software projects of course; why do I ask the question? Probably because it deserves a better answer… Let’s try to dig deeper.

It is  fashionable these days to show surprise, and then a sorry look, when discussing Free and Open Source Software. Yes, some projects are everywhere, in your browser, embedded into appliances and in places you don’t even imagine they could be. Is it written anywhere? Do appliances, ATMs, cars, airplanes, some proprietary software solutions, phones, televisions, ovens come with a full list of components? They usually don’t. But  if they would, people would realize how prevalent Free and Open Source Software is. The other thing they would be surprised with would also be that most of the time, nobody pays projects or developers for this. I know, you’ve been taught that Free Software costs zero, and that’s good news because it’s better than warez, and on top of this you get to tell their idiotic developers that their software stink -heck, you’re even entitled to do that!

The problem with that, however, is that it is not sustainable. I don’t mean to say that the Free Software model is not sustainable, only that, just like any other working system, it does not  work like a perpetual movement: people’s motivation is important, and sometimes even developers need a roof, some food, a shower, perhaps a car…Some of them might be entrepreneurs. Discovering the sorry state of OpenSSL does not equate to demonstrate that Free and Open Source Software does not work as intended, it only means that there are a whole lot of people benefiting from it -the users- and a few people probably abusing it, while the core  contributors do not get anything in the end. And while no  one suggests there is an obligation to pay core contributors in one way or another, certainly no one actually paid attention to the OpenSSL developers.

Let’s come back to LibreOffice. We often get messages, public and private, in the form of: “this or that feature does not work. How can it not work? You should be ashamed to offer this software. I expect software to work, and if it does,’t, well, I’ll take my business elsewhere!”. Of course we have not received this complaint but we did receive similar emails of what can qualified as digruntled customers. At first they were irritating to me, even though some of them were pointing to actual bugs. Now, they make me smile. Not having my livelihood depend on bug fixing helps too, but it would still make me smile. At the risk of offending a few people, these complaints make me think of people who browse large malls, have no money, will not spend anything of course, but who will call the better business bureau and the shops managers to complain about how the racks are aligned or the weak A/C. Could they be right? Probably yes, why not.
Will it be fixed because they communicated their frustration? Probably yes. Or perhaps no. It will really depends if their complaint is justified and if the mall has enough money to fix these issues.

When it comes to Free Software projects, there’s a profound, deep misunderstanding about who does what and how it’s being done. Using the now overused quote, developers write a code “because they have an itch to scratch”, means that there can be twenty different motivations to contribute to Free Software. No one needs to explain or justify his or her contribution. In the real world, one of the most common motivation is money, be it in the form of a salary, a fee, or a transaction involving the developers to fix whatever bug or develop a new feature. Most of the FOSS projects I know -excluding Firefox- do not pay developers directly for fixing bugs except in very specific circumstances and by definition not on a regular basis. The LibreOffice project is no different. The Document Foundation serves the LibreOffice project by financing its infrastructure, protecting its assets and improving LibreOffice in almost every way except paying for development on a regular basis. What this means, in other terms, is that the Document Foundation does not provide support; nor does it provide service to customers. In this sense, it is not a software vendor like Microsoft or Adobe. This is also one of the reasons why there is no “LTS” version of LibreOffice; because the Document Foundation will not provide a more or less mythical “bug-free version” of LibreOffice without ensuring the developers get paid for this. The healthiest way to do this is to grow an ecosystem of developers and service providers who are certified by the Document Foundation and are able to provide professionals with support, development, training and assistance.

To expect software that’s both Free as in beer and as in speech, without bugs and meeting most of your needs is a dream. Free Software delivers software freedom, digital rights; it greatly improves the collaborative development of software and the nurturing of software commons. It does not deliver you free lunch, and it never will. Or rather, if there is free lunch, it will be somebody’s lunch you share with him or her.

How can you help? There are many ways to contribute: joining the community by actively participating to its workflows, its teams and offering time, manpower, expertise; or with money, if you’re a professional user or donating to the project. You can do all this with LibreOffice (donate here; see how you can join us there). Ultimately, Free Software projects do not sell products, they grow communities. Stop being a consumer, become a contributor!

July 10, 2014

Eyes & Ears – July Edition

Welcome to the July installment of Eyes & Ears. This month we have quite a long mix by Chicane. I love most of the tracks released by what was at first a collective and is now one DJ. It seems there were a few years of inactivity in between their three main releases (Far from the maddening crowds, their best one I think, Behind the Sun and the Somersault); now Chicane is back, most notably with its Sun:Sets sessions.

Here’s the volume 1, but you can directly access to the other 7 volumes on SoundCloud:

Another great release of this month is the latest album of the Russian wonder DJ Moko, Future Hope. I’ve got the full album below:

An Eyes & Ears session would not be complete without at least one book suggestion. This month I’m reading the White Dominican by Gustav Meyrink. It’s an intensely spiritual story about an orphan boy with a deep sense of spirituality and mystery in Germany who meets a Dominican monk, and how he will come to travel along a few paths less travelled.

Enjoy the beginning of the Summer Season!

July 06, 2014

What’s up with Open Standards?

It has been a while since I have discussed open standards here, even though I have alluded to them in passing. There are currently a number of initiatives and policies ongoing at the European level that are bringing this topic back on the table, especially with regard to public procurement practices. Why does it matter? Because it shows that beyond any kind of advantage, convenience, or the mere ability to have a real choice of IT solutions suppliers, open standards are considered by much of the private and public sectors as some sort of nuisance.

Depending on how you see it, the “battle” for open standards is either won, or it is  still ongoing at the normative level (think about the DRM injection in HTML5 that happened at the W3C). Open Standards, more than ever before, rule the IT industry and the Internet. Cloud technologies rely on open standards to a large extent; purchasing music tracks online lets you increasingly download open file formats that, while they may not be exactly standardized themselves, have open specifications and are unencumbered wiith digital restrictions management (yes, that’s how DRM should really be called).ODF-logo

On the other hand, desktop technologies are still a major issue. One could assume it is because of the stranghold of an entrenched  monopoly, and perhaps it is, to some extent. We are in 2014 however, and both open standards and FOSS desktop offerings (LibreOffice, Firefox, Linux  distributions for the desktop) are legion. These have a real uptake among what is  often referred to as the consumers’ market and that’s great news, but when it comes to what’s going on in the workplace, there seems to be little choice aside the MS Office + Outlook + SharePoint on Windows stack. Why  is that the case? Why is the European Commission still trying to tackle the problem in 2014?

The Desktop is traumatizing

And more exactly, change is traumatizing. Technology changes very quickly, but the more structured the workplace you have, the less adaptative it will be for IT  solutions. If you add the specific culture of the organization that can sometimes be more or less rigid and centered on one vertical industry, you will find long cycles of deployment for any kind of IT technologies and a reluctance to “switch” to a new brand or a new kind of software. This could not be more true on the desktop. I’ve been writing this for years here, but there are reasons for that: the desktop is used by pretty much everyone in the organization. While it  is  somewhat changing with the arrival of tablets and smartphones, desktops are here to stay. The problem is that desktops are very complex systems -offering a graphical interface and tools for pretty much every kind of uses and situations one can imagine- and as such come with more quirks than other devices and other software platforms. These quirks end up being noticed by the users, who most of the time are not computer-savy and will be reluctant to change. Worse,  their  skills will directly or indirectly be challenged by the change. This fear of change ends up being passed on to the CIO level, who has to make the purchase decision, and does not want to be hold liable for having chosen that “weird, so called innovative solution no one gets”.

Just like with any fear, we are not talking about rationality. In 2014, people who use Twitter on a daily basis will shout if their desktop has changed overnight. It is not a good practice to do that kind of brutal change anyway, but the very concept of microblogging was unknown to them 5 years ago. They embraced it with no trouble at all. Their desktop, however, is a holy land, the solitaire game and their office suite their hallowed relics.

Open Standards can sometimes be hard to understand

It is hard enough for people to understand what protocols such as TCP/IP do. These open standards however are invisible to most of them, even if they’re using them on a daily basis. Other open standards, such as OpenDocument Format, are probably not conceivable by some people, who think that an office document is “an extension of Microsoft Office”. I have even heard of teachers, here in France, who refused to even mention ODF because such a thing “could not possibly exist”. The conceptual distinction between a file and an application has not permeated much, even in the twenty first century.

Yet, open standards are the way to go. They may not always be the superior technology, but they offer a level playing field for the industry to build on and innovate with. The Internet has been built on this, so does cloud computing. Desktop solutions are no different. Using open standards brings you back in control of your suppliers and IT infrastructure; it ultimately helps reducing costs and keep your data safe, reusable and sustainable  for dozens of year to come. You can read more about it in the excellent article by Bjorn Lundell published here. Ultimately, the lock-in of the desktop solutions will stop being meaningful as the state of the art will change so much the solutions that are seen as essential today will stop being that important. But the documents, the images, the data, all your content will still be locked in undocumented file formats that need to be reverse-engineered in order to edit them. No one should build such a silo for the future and then throw away the key. That’s what has been happening for more than a decade on the desktop, unfortunately. Where does that lead  us? I think we can already see where: vendor lock-in is here to stay on a more or less large extent; but so are open standards. There will then be people who are stuck with their vendors and constantly handle the legacy; there will be the others, who actually enable information technologies to help them innovate. For them, the story has only started.

June 29, 2014

Hacking LibreOffice in Paris

800px-ParisHackfest2014Friday and Saturday were great days of excitement: The LibreOffice Hackfest in Montreuil, organized by the Document Foundation and Simplon.co, a “startup factory” born in a large struggling -yet charming- urban neighbourhood next to Paris, gathered active developers of the project and members of Simplon Co.  The hackfest was a success and a great opportunity to work together on various tasks.

Developers were able to work on OOXML filters, performance improvements, hacking on the integration of the Firebird as the database behind the Base module…

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…. as well as interacting with members of the french community and students from Simplon Co.

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Less technical particpants (such as yours truly) had the opportunity to work on the Bern Conference planning, the messaging of the upcoming LibreOffice releases, and explain how the LibreOffice project works to our guests. And of course, food and drinks were not forgotten during the Friday evening…

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Thank you everyone who participated, to Simplon Co. for their hospitality, to our dev team, to Collabora, and to the volunteers who made this event possible. Santé!

June 25, 2014

Deeper, Better, Farther: Growing the Community & Improving LibreOffice

There is something truly comforting in observing vibrant communities such as the one of LibreOffice. The project is growing, not just in developers but in adoption as well: more users as well as more localizations are a visible sign inside the project. All this is not only thanks to our good name and reputation; it is because as we are well into our fourth year of existence, it is important to realize that communities scale as much as their production and communication infrastructure is able to grow and perform its duties. Two words are of peculiar importance here: Production & Communication. In a Free and Open Source Software project, these two functions are tightly connected. The project enables the software production at the same time it enables communications between its members. Conversely, you cannot have a developers, users, or QA mailing list for instance, without relying on an existing code repository of some sort, otherwise you’re only doing vapourware (and vapourware only needs a database of press contacts, but no real mailing list).

Scaling up the production and communication infrastructure ultimately amounts to improve the software quality, featureset or both, and making the project contributors communicate more effectively, in between themselves and outside of the project as well. We have entered a period of fast growth inside LibreOffice; growth in terms of quality improvement, in terms of features, but in terms of what the Document Foundation can do, thanks to broader resources than when it first started. What this does not mean however is that our infrastructure team has free time available; but it means it can do more and accomodate more needs than previously. Here are a few concrete actions the project has been deciding recently and/or committing itself to in a systematic way since a few months:

  • Hackfests: Of course these are not new, but looking on this list you will notice that they do now happen on regular and close intervals. These are actually very inclusive events and are open to anyone who wish to learn development on LibreOffice as well as joining the QA team and even how to contribute designs to the project. The next step being to go “transcontinental”, with hackfest taking place in the Americas, Europe, and Asia for instance. And for what it’s worth, we are having our hackfest in Paris this Friday…
  • More localizations: more and more teams of localizers apply to have LibreOffice localized in their own language. It does not stop there though, as we also see an increase in new openings for native-language projects, meaning that these teams will go beyond localization to serve users in their native language, promote LibreOffice locally, etc.
  • RedMine. Everywhere. All the time. With various teams come various needs, many different habits. Some will use wikis extensively, some others won’t. But many of them, when they’re not developers, have trouble actually coordinating and keeping track of their own project. After extensive tests the answer is RedMine. The Infra team has a dedicated RedMine instance for anything such as events planning to website management. As a side note, our Bugzilla is now used only for LibreOffice development and not anymore for the website, infrastructure or project management. RedMine tends to be easier to use, more adapted to a range of uses broader than software development, and bundles several tools such as wikis, gantt chart, issues tracking, etc.
  • Sane files repository with OwnCloud. We now have our own. Enough with files lost on the wiki….
  • A project-wide newsletter, gathering the quality throughout the project, dubbed LOWN (LibreOffice Weekly Newsletter) has been started and will now become a collaborative, online effort that will help circulate information around the community.
  • Soon, we will have a multilingual blog planet derived from the one used by OpenSuse.

In terms of processes, two specific improvements must be listed:

  • Regular QA bughunting sessions, allowing not just to tackle quality issues but to attract newcomers to the project -thanks Robinson!
  • Regular release coordination and readiness for localizers and native-language projects – thanks Sophie!

All this ultimately leads to a breadth of improvement, in the community and in the final stages of the 4.3 release, a major one to date. Check out the first draft of the release notes here. 

Ultimately however, all this would not work without the team of LibreOffice contributors who help make LibreOffice what it is today: a fun project, fantastic people, and a free office suite that is the best productivity tool you can find around.

June 15, 2014

Linux email clients – the road less traveled

One area on the Linux desktop that remains surprisingly conservative is email – email clients and webmail alike. While most if not all of the formats and protocols used are true open standards, you would think there could be a broad range of clients and webmails for Linux out there. Let me correct that: webmails are in a league of their own and I will not enter the webmail vs. email clients discussion. Many things are changing in that field, but one must differentiate between the actual email service, like GMail, your corporate mail, the webmail software (Roundcube, Horde, Citadel, Squirrel, etc.), the groupware platform (Kolab, Blue Mind, OBM, eGroupWare, and many others) and what lands and gets edited, if you’ve chosen so, in your email client, meaning the actual software program running distinctly from your web browser and handling anything from emails to calendars and contacts. Today I will focus on the email clients on the Linux desktop. I do not pretend that my list is exhaustive; it is but a personal selection; I have also excluded email client such as Mutt, mu4e, VM, RMail, Ner, Wanderlust, etc. as I will only be speaking of graphical email clients on Linux, at least the ones I’ve tried.

Mozilla Thunderbird

Let’s face it: Mozilla Thunderbird is unavoidable. The reason it is so  popular is that the choice of an actual email client other than Outlook or perhaps Lotus SameTime on Windows is actually quite reduced, aside the blue bird and perhaps the Pegasus mail. Anyway, Thunderbird occupies a strategic segment, so to speak, in that it is really multi-platform and caters to most peoples’ needs. I did  use Thunderbird and in many ways I really like it. I do have two real issues with Thunderbird though. The first  one has nothing to do with the software itself: It is that we -and by we I mean almost everyone I turn to- don’t know anything about the future of Thunderbird. What Mozilla plans to do with it, how the project works, where it goes is unclear. Thunderbird is being maintained, and before you ask, no, the Document Foundation will not develop Thunderbird in the future.image-of-mozilla-thunderbird-logo5141-580x358
The second issue I have is that because of some subtle combination of factors mostly related to the mbox implementation in Thunderbird and the general application performance, the email client can be an absolutely awful resources hog. In fact, for anyone relying on email client with large or even huge email boxes, I would argue that Thunderbird is not the best option, even if its extensibility seems to keep some portion of its user base happy. Basically, Thunderbird will do the job but if you’re down to three different emails and a few gigabytes of inboxes your computer will turn into an oven, and a slow one at that. Be it as it may, Thunderbird’s value, I think, lies in its ability to address almost everybody’s needs without being “feature complete” in any way.

Gnome Evolution

At this stage you may be thinking that if I call Thunderbird a resources hog then Evolution must feel like crushing an ipad under a truck. Well, I have used Evolution intermittently since 2003(!) and I have seen it, er, evolve. Yes, Evolution was terrible for years in terms of resources and stability, although the features it offered and still offers are unique on Linux. After Gnome switched to its 3.x.x branch however, Evolution started a major rewrite and things improved considerably.evolution I have been using Evolution for over a year in 2013. I know that Red Hat invested more resources in it after a few other hackers left. Surprisingly enough Evolution is faster and lighter than Thunderbird for large inboxes and multiple accounts. It also handles all sorts of mailbox formats and relies on the maildir format as a default, which does make a difference with large inboxes compared to mbox. One misconception I have also seen is that Evolution only handles one inbox. It is not true, you do have one global inbox for POP and local email accounts and inbox folders but if you use IMAP on several of your emails you will use several inboxes and of course several accounts. Feature-wise, Evolution offers what you expect for  a corporate environment, meaning not just mail, but an actual working calendar, contacts management, tasks, memo, meeting planning, etc. If you do not have specific needs for calendaring and do not handle a lot of emails, then Thunderbird might become a more compelling option, although that is not really a really clearcut choice.

Claws Mail

Readers of this blog will remember that Claws64px-ClawsMailLogo is my main email client, so don’t expect me to criticize it… or wait. I love Claws. It handles my gigabytes of email graciously, has built-in search that’s faster than anything I’ve witnessed (Thunderbird does not come close to that), handles the MH and the mbox formats like a charm… what’s not to like? Indeed, not much. True, the interface is not the most modern although a careful choice of iconsets can definitely improve the looks of Claws. On the other hand the interface is not antique and is very clear. Where I see limits is not in Claws’s mail handling but on pretty much everything around it. For email clients, this means at least contacts management and calendar. On these two fronts, Claws Mail is not on par with Evolution or Thunderbird. Let me explain.
When it comes to contacts and addressbooks, claws is doing relatively fine, especially on fields completion and contacts search; but the actual interface of the addressbook and the management of contacts is rather poor, so poor in fact that the Claws Mail project has started a rewrite (the first one since their fork off Sylpheed) of the contacts management module. The other area is the calendar. There is no calendar in Claws officially but there’s the vcalendar plugin. Help is very welcome in improving it feature-wise, but in making it actually usable. There’s a bug with recurring appointments that’s been driving me crazy for something like 3 years now. What can you do with this calendar? Receive invitations, send them, getting notifications. All this works if they’re not set as recurring events and if you like austere interfaces. Do not expect more from vcalendar though.

Kontact/Kmail

It is not entirely clear what is Kontact and what is Kmail beca70px-Kontact_Oxygen.svguse these two are very well integrated. I do not use Kontact on a regular basis: I’ve tried it and tested it several times. It has a very broad range of features which sets this KDE email client somewhere on par with Evolution but I have not tested its performance entirely. My problem with it? I don’t have a problem per se, I have seen Kontact working in conjunction with the Kolab plugin and the data sync is impressive. But I don’t use KDE regularly, and don’t intend to use it in the forseeable future.

Other clients

I have either given a few of them a try, or not at all, but it does not mean I am not interested or that they’re not good. Here are three of them with cursory notes:

  • Geary: I  like its slick look but as far as I can see, the scope of features is just not what I’m looking for. It must be stressed, however, that Geary is currently undergoing heavy development, so who knows what will be the outcome in, say, one or two years.
  • Balsa: a very old email client, a bit like Claws. I’ve never tried it though, but I’m interested in opinions on the subject.
  • Trojita: I’ve heard really good things about this Qt email client; I’ve never used it though but I’ll give it a  try soon.

What’s your take on email clients on Linux? I love the diversity and range of choices available, but feel a bit disappointed by the lack of awareness coming from Linux users about these projects. I hope this post can help improve things a bit!

June 10, 2014

Ever wondered how much your local authority would get per year if the Get Britain Cycling report was implemented?

Have you wondered how much your local authority would have to spend on cycling if the Get Britain Cycling report was implemented? Particularly the point about £10 to £20 per head of population per year.

Well wonder no longer as I’ve created a spreadsheet with the population for each local authority in Britain based on the last census.

Take a look at this Google doc that I’ve created: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1LFoIdkcaxCmN2__mxu_jwb41l4jBnHrVi4kQD_as70I/edit?usp=sharing

You can search for your Local Authority in the Google Doc. How much infrastructure could be built in your area if this level of sustained  funding was implemented?

 

June 04, 2014

Yes saltire

Yes saltireOn a visit to Scotland, it’s impossible to avoid the issue of the referendum on Scottish Independence, due to take place in September. The media explore endlessly every possible ramification of a ‘Yes’ vote. It all feels very odd – is this really what the birth pangs of a new nation should feel like?

When my grandparents’ generation set up the Irish Free State, they didn’t debate endlessly whether cross-border issues might work for or against their advantage. For them, it was simply a matter of “It’s our country. Give it back”.

I’m sure the same is true when the people of India gained their independence – they didn’t agonise over the pros and cons to their economy of membership of the British Empire. No, they simply said “It’s our country. Give it back”.

If the people of Scotland truly wish to join the independent nations of the world, then on September 18th, all it needs is for enough people to put their hands on their hearts and say: “It’s our country. Give it back”. Everything else can be worked out afterwards. In fact, for Scotland to earn its place as an independent nation, nothing else should matter.

Eyes & Ears – the June session

Welcome to the June installment of Eyes and Ears. Today is mostly about music videos, and not all the tracks are new. But I do like them so… To start with we have a rather old track by John Beltram perfomed in Tokyo with an interesting ending, I don’t think I had ever heard it before.

John Beltran in Tokyo from John Beltran on Vimeo.

The next two are novelties for me, discovered per chance by browsing the net. The short flicks match the tracks very well I think. We have a band called Message to the Bears, an ambient pop collective from United Kingdom, with their “Moonlight” track

Message to Bears – Moonlight from Benjamin Dowie on Vimeo.

Last but not least a beautiful animation with a classic-sounding house track by Max Cooper, “Supine”. Enjoy!

Max Cooper – Supine from Tom Geraedts on Vimeo.

May 31, 2014

Join us at the Paris – Montreuil LibreOffice Hackfest!

800px-ParisHackfest2014I usually don’t dedicate a full post to these events, but this one is special to me for obvious reasons. On the 27th and the 28th of June, in Montreuil (right next to Paris) The Document Foundation and Simplon.co will organize a LibreOffic hackfest, joining both LibreOffice hackers, Simplon.co students, partners and guests inside the Simplon rooms. static.squarespace.com

Simplon.co is a unique concept that manages to be at the same time a software development school, a cooperative software development team and a meeting place for innovators in Montreuil. This group helps many people on a local basis who may either not have enough funds or even the proper academic credentials by providing a full software development curriculum.

Three years after the first LibreOffice Conference and just before the LiboCon in Bern in September, it will be a good opportunity to kickstart the summer season with LibreOffice. During the course of the event a press conference will also take place, highlighting the state of the project.  More information as well as registration is available on this page which is the current preparation page. We hope to see many of you in Montreuil!

May 24, 2014

Mozilla, a tale of gentrification

This post has a high trolling potential, I am aware of it. So let’s start with a few points meant as a caveat emptor. The views expressed here are mine , solely mine and do not represent the views of the Document Foundation nor my current employer. As a consequence I shall take all the blame, yes, I will, “Quoniam iniquitatem meam ego cognosco et peccatum meum contra me est semper “.

By now I’m sure you’ve read the announcement about Mozilla allowing DRM in Firefox. It stirred up quite a controversy and looking at the news, blogposts and tweets these days it is not really going away. I cannot help but wondering where all those protesters are today, the LGBT cause supporters, who discovered Mozilla was infringing a newly found human right by appointing an opponent of same sex marriage as its CEO, Brendan Eich. You who were so loud and outspoken, where are you today folks? Still as concerned with Mozilla than you were a month ago? Hmm? No? You must not be paying attention. firefox-logo

Contrary to Glyn Moody in his excellent article, I do not judge Mozilla’s decision in the same harsh way. At least not the decision itself: if we were to stick to Glyn’s arguments, then Mozilla should never have allowed Adobe/Macromedia Flash in the first place (that’s the very short argument). However, I believe that Mozilla’s decision must be assessed in a broader context. We are in 2014 and things are quite different from what they were in, say, 2004. From a very practical point of view (read: market share) it could make sense to include what has been outrageously approved by the W3C inside the html5 standard as EME, or in other words, DRM for specific videos. Obviously these only represent  a small fraction of all videos found on the internet, and even a smaller fraction of the most popular ones. But as with all DRM this kind of content is doomed to fail and to be soon forgotten in the cemetary of the stupid and proprietary web technologies that suppress digital freedoms. I am not really worried about that in the long term, but a strong stance against DRM by Mozilla would probably have created quite an impression and helped spread the message and raise the awareness on these  matters.

The problem I see, however, is something I’ve witnessed for some time now, and while I’m aware that I will probably look like I’m howling with the pack (something I do not like at all) I believe I should come clean about it. This problem is about Mozilla itself, what it does, how it operates, its own standing within the Free and Open Source Software community and its revenue model. In fact, I believe all these points are tightly connected and discretely conspired to bring Mozilla where it is today. This is not to say that I don’t like what Mozilla does and has done. This is not to say that there isn’t a whole bunch of great people inside Mozilla: there are, I know several of them. This is not to say that Mozilla is not an exciting set of projects and ventures: I think it will continue to be exciting in the years to come. And many of us know what technology does to any project or company in just a few years: kill it or make it blossom.

What I believe is going on with Mozilla is a quest to be a very respectable player in the IT industry. It is a continued, yet subtle, refusal to be part of the wider Free and Open Source Software community (which is not necessarily wrong in itself), a certain posture that is about words, slogans, nice web sites, but not about a radical course for software and Internet freedom. I am convinced that Mozilla does a lot of good, even after this announcement on DRM, but I also feel a certain gentrification taking place inside Mozilla. And it would probably not be very easy to avoid it if you were in their shoes. I mean, hundreds of millions in the bank, Firefox OS, big telcos all around you, smacking down Internet Explorer, working with charities, what comes next? Barack Obama offers all of you a trip on board of Air Force One? Maybe. Except that from gentrification one can develop a sense of entitlement. You are the project that matters. The browser. 4167751227_d924d393fb_m

You keep the Internet open, no matter what the FCC makes of it. While I trust the leadership of Mozilla to handle all these challenges and successes in the best way possible, I also expect that some of these things will start to turn their heads away from a certain state of things and change the perception not so much of the “reality”, but of what they can, should, and are entitled to do. In their case, it would not be hubris or anything like that; but it would work like a creepy and increasing feeling of isolation matched with a constant care about the survival of the structure; and on top of that, something which is both a blessing and a curse: Mozilla’s revenue model.

One peculiar aspect of the Mozilla project, be it the foundation, Firefox or Firefox OS that seems to have eluded most of the pundits and other commentators is the way it actually functions. Obviously, all this is Free and Open Source Software. You have the code, all the tools you need, you can even contribute bug reports and patches. But projects like Firefox are the kind of projects that rely on developers paid directly by the Mozilla Foundation / Corporation. It is not a bad thing, software freedom does not mandate you to accept anybody else’s contribution. But it does frame the development model and the community governance in a very specific way. Today, Mozilla has several hundreds of employees. You read that well, several hundreds. Not everyone is a software developer, but many are. It  is a very different place compared to LibreOffice or the Linux kernel for instance. Just like with everything else, there are benefits and downsides. Among the latter, not paying attention to contributors and the outside world in general, while developing a sense of “Not Invented Here” while thinking inside the box framed by how the structure work is one of them. I’m not saying this is a major issue for Mozilla, because every structure that is strong ultimately develops this kind of patterns. What I’m trying to do here is to paint a picture of a project heading towards a certain direction and developing a mindset that will ultimately prove detrimental to its own relevance. Survival of the structure is another issue. Every  single structure that is strong enough to survive a few years will develop, though its aggregated teams and individuals an urge to survive. Sociology and anthropology have demonstrated that. In our contemporary world, this usually translates into long brainstorming sessions and internal team meetings that end up amounting to this question: “How do we stay relevant?” Now don’t get me wrong: this may actually be a really good question. But the point here is that the structure wants to survive, not because it’s right, not because it should, only because it ends up working for that purpose, instead of being a tool or an entity established for a purpose different and distinct from itself. As a result, you have people who lose focus on what they  came to do at first but as a paradox acquire a very sharp focus on how their organization is unique and must prevail. There’s now the “we” and then there’s the “them”.

Last but not least, the revenue model. There was yet another set of heated discussion after Mozilla ended up withdrawing their idea of inserting ads in their tabs. I believe it was a right decision after all, but I am not the only one thinking that this issue is one of revenue model. Mozilla famously got rich after they worked out this search engine bar revenue scheme with Google several years ago. And it  ended up becoming insanely rich for an Open Source project. Perhaps too rich, some might say. willy-wonka-and-the-chocolate-factory-willy-wonka-and-the-chocolate-factory-17594222-640-480Well, I don’t believe that’s the case. I  think they chose a revenue model that made sense at that  time, they were successful with it and drove some exciting projects with these resources. Some were a success, some failed. That’s part of what everybody does. But the revenue model puts demands and limits on what Mozilla is able to do. They also have to think in terms of safeguarding the sheer budget volume, and given the size of Google’s contribution (the agreement with Microsoft is of no trivial size as well) this cannot be an easy task. Therein lies the rub: At some point in time, which seems to have already been reached, Mozilla will have to increase the revenue generated by the online ads, which in turn will end up increasing their prevalence inside Mozilla software in general. Yet Mozilla knows users reject these, and no amount of “creative semantics” will convince them. An ad-based business model is fundamentally one relying on the pricing of campaigns and the acceptation by consumers of these ads themselves. The latter part seems somewhat compromised. If the advertising market goes south, and not by a lot, it will hurt Mozilla rather quickly. Mozilla must come up with other sources of revenues, keeping in mind that these might have to mechanically  diminish (advertising market bubble anyone?). When that day arrives, it will not be pretty for the lizards.

This is where I think Mozilla surprizingly failed so far. The revenues generated by their agreement with Google could have set them free to do a lot of things and to help them build services and technologies. Online services requires skills Mozilla already has or can acquire. I am an avid user of Mozilla Sync. Why there hasn’t been any Mozilla challenger to DropBox is a mystery to me. And they could even charge for it beyond a certain storage threshold. I would not mind. Why isn’t there a nifty or shiny online office suite by Mozilla? I do not think it is out of respect for the Document Foundation. Why is Thunderbird left as a second class citizen, with no roadmap, and no clear venue to contribute to its development?

Granted, Mozilla did a lot of other things. They opened up a series of collaborative spaces all around the world, even in places that had already plenty, sometimes barely a block away from such venues(case in point: Paris). Why Mozilla felt they could do this without the local community of hackers, free software supporters, IT entrepreneurs and IT students is beyond me. They have also partnered in the field of web technologies education and free journalism support. And of course, there’s Firefox OS which in my view has great potential.  It is a lot, and somehow it feels too little. If it sounds subjective, it is because it is, in part. My experience within the Document Foundation helps me get a vantage point on what can be done with a certain volume of (limited) resources, and what it means to be lean and mean.

In a nutshell, Mozilla could do a lot better, but the real issue seems to be that they do not intend to take that route. We have talked about Brendan Eich, we have heard interesting terms, trying to call online ads by any other name. We have heard very little about digital freedoms, even though Firefox is instrumental in ensuring these; and what’s with this weird “Open Web” meme that sounds like something halfway between an ISP advertising its latest plan and a new, fashionable yet odd hiking contraption? We are lacking some sense and purpose, some well defined goal – I’m all for memes when they are shared by everyone even if they don’t render the whole  message accurately- but the Open Web? Why not talk about software freedom and digital rights? Is Mozilla that much scared of the bearded Free Software mob that they have to distance themselves from it by competing with the dubious help  of convoluted slogans? Benjamin_Franklin_-_Join_or_Die

I know, some of you must think that I’m jealous. I know some would be. But oddly enough, I do not wish the Document Foundation to ever become as big as Mozilla. Surprising? It shouldn’t be. In our industry, smaller means more agile, better, faster. It also means more personal. Somewhere down these lines, a certain part of Mozilla has been lost. Can we get it back?

I’m almost done, and I don’t want to troll Mozilla to death anyway, at some point I will offend someone there, so let me finish by offering a personal view on what could be done next at Mozilla in terms of strategy and revenue model:

  • As stated above: work on your mission and on your message. I’ll get more people fighting for microbreweries in my own district in Paris  than for something as fantomatic as the Open Web that no one understands anyway.
  • Progressively switch to a donation based model. It actually works with the point above, in that by getting a strong sense of purpose you can mobilize and work with volunteers, who in turn increase by their own networking and by your own communication the individual donations coming from everywhere. Mind you, people will donate 10 bucks, so you need a lot of them to get even somewhere close to a budget based on Google and Microsoft donations. You may of course blend the two models, but the switch will also mean that you will have to work with, by and through your community of volunteers. Which could well bring about the most critical change in the Mozilla project.
  • The good thing with Mozilla is that it has both a foundation and corporation (read: a charity and a business) which means you can also think in terms of business model. I know that it  is already the case otherwise you would have closed the corporation years ago; but here you can monetize on two fronts: OEM/Phone and tablets manufacturers, and service/consultancy for large organizations. I am not too sure the latter would be your bread and butter, but  keep in mind that Mozilla can become or is already a cloud technology provider. This is an interesting path to think about.
  • Attract revenue from the platform. This one is longer term, as it requires that  Firefox OS be at least an installed player; once this would happen Mozilla would benefit from an actual platform, and could derive revenue -no, the App Store is not the only model out there- from the various relations the platform would have enabled an created. It could be anything from specific deals, services, to apps monetization.

The world is a dangerous place, not so much because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.   – Einstein

Rock on Mozilla.

May 19, 2014

Eyes and Ears – May Edition

After a few weeks of a rainy Spring season the sun seems to have arrived over Paris. At least for now. This means another installment of the Eyes and Ears series is due! Let’s start right away with our books section.

Today I’d like to tell you about a funny and very interesting book. It’s called Cockpit Confidential and it is pretty much a book on everything you’ve ever wondered about airliners and air travel. You can find it pretty much anywhere but, interestingly enough, its author maintains a blog that is apparently famous, “Ask the Pilot“.

Moving on to our mixes and music section this great summer house mix from Tania Moon in Madrid will set you right up for the season:

TANIA MOON – OPEN HOUSE MADRID – 11 MAYO 2014 by Ibiza Sonica on Mixcloud

Now, this mix from Café del Mar is a not a traditional one, as it is performed by Michael E. Love it or hate it, it has some great tracks on it yet you do feel the romantic and classical influence of this quite remarkable composer.

Namasté (3 November 2012) by Luc Forlorn on Mixcloud

Last but not least one small yet precious pearl from Italy that has gone largely unnoticed. It was released by the Falerna (aka Laverna) netlabel and the artists comes out as “Fedepiano”, delivering exquisite ambient and electronica tunes. It also proves once more that there is a great and somewhat unknown electronica scene in Italy.

Full Of Lights by Falerna

Have a great week!

May 12, 2014

switch

For over a year now, most UK banks and building societies have offered to take the hassle out of moving current accounts from one provider to another. On an agreed date, they agree to swap everything over. One day you’re with your old provider; on the next, you’re with the new one. According to the glossy publicity, painless.

I look after finances for some elderly relatives, continuing to use whatever current accounts they used themselves. However, one of these banks has recently changed its terms and conditions so that its current account is no longer attractive, so I thought it was time to switch. I’ve had excellent service from my local building society, so I thought I’d give them the business.

switchSetting up the new account was easy. Although I do virtually all banking over the internet, opening an account online for another person under a power of attorney is a real pain. Using a local branch was brilliant. It took half an hour or so one lunchtime, and the account was up and operational.

The big switch is now set for next week (at a time when there’s not much happening in the account). Now, I can believe that the banks can easily swap over the balance and all the outgoing payments (standing orders, direct debits). They have all the necessary information under their control.

But the headline statements about the switch say the banks will also swap over all the incoming payments too. This is much more challenging – getting pension payments, interest payments, etc all swapped over by the people making the payments.

Reading the small print very carefully, what the banks actually say they will do is: every time they they receive a payment into the old account, they will immediately forward it to the new account – for thirteen months. They will also tell the organisation responsible, and ask them to make the change. So it isn’t quite as seamless – or as guaranteed – as it appears at first sight.

And there perhaps is the flaw in this whole process. Will notoriously bureaucratic and inefficient organisations like the Department for Work and Pensions play ball? Time will tell.

In the mean time, let’s see how the switch goes next week. And if you are tired of banking with a company whose values are at odds with your own, have a look at Move Your Money to motivate you to switch!

May 08, 2014

LibreOffice Calc – Reintroducing Spreadsheets

Today I would like to discuss a boring subject: Spreadsheets. Actually it’s not that boring when you come to think of it. At least I’m going to try not to make it boring. Let me set something straight first: Spreadsheets are not just about numbers; they are about data. You may have already read Michael Meeks’ article on LibreOffice’s major rewrite of its spreadsheet engine (the much famed Ixion engine that was alluded to first in 2010) and indeed this is a major development for LibreOffice and ultimately for office suites in general – I’ll come back to that later- but this post is not an appreciation article for Michael and Kohei, it’s about how we think of spreadsheets, why we tend to think of them in a very limited way, and how we could redefine the uses of LibreOffice Calc256px-LibreOffice_4.0_Calc_Icon.svg

There is something wrong with spreadsheets. We tend to think of them as tools to calculate and handle numbers and measures of various kinds. For many people, spreadsheets equal accounting and budget. Of course, these are tasks spreadsheets are perfectly meant for. Ultimately however, the key to spreadsheets is not their ability to perform two basic roles, display numbers and manipulate them. It is to extract meaning and data from these numbers and to manipulate this data to make other patterns emerge. This crucial point tends to be somewhat forgotten, yet it is something users do on a daily basis, although pretty often in a limited way.

There are two reasons for this. We often think of office suites as a set of predefined scenarios: the word processor is used for a letter. The spreadsheet is for accounting. Presentation software is for shiny slides where people write countless points and sentences all over the place so that no one understands anything. RIP Steve Jobs. But I digress. The point here is that we tend to copy usage, but hardly think of the software we use as a tool. The second reason may well lie in the inherent limitations of the tool itself and the information system in which the tool – the spreadsheet – operates.

The latter point is fortunately about to change. LibreOffice ships a rewritten Calc engine that is able to churn data faster, better, partly thanks to a brand new design and partly by relying on GPUs instead of the good old CPU power. What does it mean to us? It means that we are going to be able to interact with much bigger volumes of data and do more with it than with any other spreadsheet software out there. I’m not about to blow the horn by claiming that LibreOffice Calc is now more powerful than Excel – it is true in a certain sense but the assertion is too bold if it’s not a detailed claim- but what I’m trying to say is that we should stop thinking of LibreOffice Calc as a nice me-too spreadsheet module inside LibreOffice and that we ougt to realize that spreadsheet software is fundamentaly about data and its representation.

A false, yet commonly admitted notion is that a spreadsheet is just some sort of table, or group of tables, called sheets. It is not. In fact, you can have tables inside a document opened by a word processor, but it will be different from a spreadsheet. Tables inside a document, inside Writer or elsewhere (emacs, MS Word, etc.) have no “intelligence”. They are just tables, with rows and columns. Spreadsheets have rows and colums too, but they also have cells that can be identified as resources, objects, and specific data sets. The same goes with rows and columns. It is possible to perform all sorts of  actions based on the data that has been entered in cells, and this data can be processed elsewhere on the spreadsheets, such as in a different cells. It is possible to create representations of this data directly inside the spreadsheet, be it with specific markings, with operations on the data set (performing calculations with mathematical formulas for instance) or draw a fully  visual chart of the data available on the spreadsheet. One thing which is now possible with LibreOffice Calc is the ability to stream and update the data existing inside the spreadsheet from and to different places such as the Internet. Where LibreOffice Calc shines though is in its ability to manage this data and perform complex operations on it. At the end of the day, LibreOffice Calc lets you achieve an unprecedented ability to manipulate data and to represent it in a clear and compelling way. By doing so, Calc is getting a bit closer to some types of databases but still retains its fundamental uses and purposes.

While this may not appeal to you if all you’re looking for is to define your monthly budget based on your income and expenses, this increased power and capacity appeals to several different kinds of users, such as universities, mathematicians, financial research, etc. But let’s move away from these number-intensive scenarios for a short while. Did you know you could use LibreOffice Calc to perform task management ? To-do lists? Track the progress of a project? In these cases, numbers may be involved, but so are words, concepts and ideas.  Calc can be configured to  manage projects and teams and will do that very well, by  representing the project and team’s data, tasks and deadlines in a compelling and synthetic way. I was about to finish  but talking about time tracking, did you know you could use LibreOffice Calc as a perpetual calendar? No? And what about the Football world cup in Brazil this year? We could not forget that, so Klaibson Ribeiro of the Brazilian project came up with the definitive team and matches chart for the world cup. And he did this with LibreOffice Calc!

May 05, 2014

Hidden costs of British cycle funding

One of the big problems with the funding of cycle infrastructure in Britain, is that unlike other things it is rare for there to be a dedicated revenue budget for the cycle infrastructure. The City of Edinburgh Council is one of the notable exceptions who have allocated 5% of the transport budget and are increasing it over the next few years.

On the other hand in many other parts of Britain, such as Suffolk, cycle infrastructure is generally funded either through Section 106 money from new developments, or through bidding for specific projects with certain pots of money that get announced from central government from time to time. There is generally relatively little money in the main transport budget allocated to cycling beyond repairs.

With the Section 106 agreements the money from a single development is often so little that it won’t give a single improvement scheme, and the money if often banked until there are several developments that provide Section 106 money before a scheme is implemented. Also recent changes mean that it’s much easier for developers to not pay up, or argue that the demands are too onerous.

With the bidding process for the special pots of money that get announced from time to time, there are various problems with the system. It’s unknown when the next pot of money will be announced nor how much it will be. Often it will be short notice, so there won’t be enough time to draw up the bid in time for the bidding process or spending the money, such as when it’s got to be spent in the same financial year. I have heard of cases where the council officers ask local cycle campaigners a few days before the bid is due, which often isn’t enough time to respond. However councils and cycle campaigners can be organised and ready for this situation to occur.

Matt Turner has a blog post listing all the announcements from central government highlighting investment in cycling, which he keeps up to date. However a lot of the funding is mixed with other sustainable transport funding, which means that that councils don’t have to spend the money on improving cycle infrastructure, thus it’s harder to come up with a figure of how much has been spent on cycling. It is also extremely complicated as to which pot of money can be used by each authority and for which purpose.

There is a hidden cost to the bidding process as council officers have to spend time speculatively writing up potential projects which will often just be rejected due to too many bids or poor quality rushed bids. It would be much better if they were spending their time on projects which were more likely to succeed.

In the past there have been network based plans of improvements, such as the LCN+ in London, however it wasn’t backed up with the regular funding needed to see through the completion of the network and often left out the hard bits, such as junctions. However if there is a single point on someone’s journey where they can’t cycle safely, the transport planners have failed them, as the bicycle user may just give up and revert back to the car as they don’t feel safe enough to ride a bike.

Of course this wouldn’t be a problem if cycling would have a significant revenue budget. This means that longer term plans could be much easier planned in over the longer term, as the transport planners and cycle campaigners know that there will be money available each year for cycling related improvements. It then becomes a problem of ensuring that the improvements are of a high quality, which is a much easier problem to solve than there being not enough money on a regular basis for ambitious improvements. Of course there could still be some form of bidding process for bigger pots of money for bigger projects, however that should be an exception rather than a rule.

Ideally councils would have £10 to £20 per head of population per year, to spend solely on cycle infrastructure so that Britain can catchup with The Netherlands and Denmark. These figures have been mentioned in the Get Britain Cycling report, and by a Lothians MSP. For Suffolk County Council with a population of 668553 at the last census, that would mean £6,685,530 (£6.6 million) to 13,371,060 (£13.3 million) per year available for cycling. Unfortunately Suffolk County Council don’t make it easy to find the transport budget, I can only presume that it sits in the “Economy, Skills & Environment” part, which stood at £77 million in the 2013-2014 financial year, thus hard to say how much of the transport budget it would engulf.

April 27, 2014

Eyes and Ears

Welcome to this April’s edition of Eyes and Ears. Today we have a pretty unique selection of tracks and one very nice book. Let me first start by the book, that I’m currently reading in its french translation. It’s written by the brilliant and famous scholar Elif Shafak and the title (in English) is the Forty Rules of Love. Don’t get distracted by the title or think I’m into romantic and frilly novels. This book is about love in many ways, but also about a major tradition in Islam called Sufism. It is a fascinating read.

Let’s now move on to the Ears part of the post, and kick it of with the latest mix of a rather discrete artist, John Beltram.

  • Toni Simonen has brought up this very nice Spring mix of the Café del Mar; he’s been releasing two official Café del Mar albums now and the level of these compilations he is definitely bringing up the famous label release quality. Listen to this new mix, it’s definitely worth it.

Café del Mar Spring 2014 Mix by Toni Simonen by Café Del Mar Music (Official) on Mixcloud

  • Some recently discovered artist, Collioure, is producing a rather diverse set of tracks. I’ve picked this one today as this is a rather fine one, although he tends to be more known for his deep house mixes.

  • Last but not least, a free album download by Transient, “Waveform” e.p. I recommend the netlabel Laverna for its continuing support of free software, open content and the great quality of the artists’s works it publishes regularly since several years now.

That’s all for today folks, may your eyes and your ears enjoy words and sounds the same way mine have this past week. Until then… have a great first week of May!

April 20, 2014

LibreOffice, the distraction-free way

There is a growing momentum towards specialized “text editors” these days, and these tools are not meant for “geeks” or “hackers”, far from that: there are targeted at people who write long chunks of texts, and only text. You may have already guessed who they might be: fiction writers, journalists, etc. There is now a nice ecosystem of tools, most of them non free software, like Scrivener, that is in full expansion. If I’d tell you office suites can offer just the same benefits, you would call me biased. And indeed I might be. Just a tad…. But it’s true. On the other hand, people having specific needs in the way they write and edit texts are very real, from developers to fiction writers. The question is: should an office suite like LibreOffice accomodate everyone – and does it already?

I will first show how to turn LibreOffice into a distraction-free text editor -yes you can do that quite easily- and then I will try to answer the question above: should an office suite like LibreOffice accomodate everyone? in an attempt at defining what LibreOffice, and especially Writer, is and does as a tool.

LibreOffice Writer as a distraction-free text editor in a few simple steps:

The whole point of the following suggestions is to take away elements from LibreOffice’s writer interface.

  1. Get rid of the ruler: Go to the View top menu then unselect the Ruler
  2. Take away any unwanted toolbar from the same View menu (then use the Toolbar submenu), such as Drawing or WordArt bars. Don’t get me wrong: you could make every bar disappear but it’s not helpful: just get rid of what you think is clutter.
  3. In the Options menu go to Writer, Appearance, then change the Application background to a shade of dark grey (70 up to 90%). Do not mistake this with the document background, there’s a specific entry for the Writer background.
  4. The last step is  optional: get rid of the Stylist vertical integration. Many people do not have this as a default, I do because it makes me save time when I have to select styles as I’m typing a document. To me, it’s not clutter so I left it that way. Below is a screenshot of LibreOffice in distraction-free mode with the stylist nested on the right, while the second screenshot is the same configuration of LibreOffice without the nested stylist. LibreOffice_distractionfree_stylist

Why do I mention the stylist? Because using styles is pretty much the single most important tool you need to be familiar with when using an office suite. Any office suite, that’s to say, otherwise you will end up wondering why office suites are so complex when you just have to type a letter to your insurance company… although there’s certainly a huge userbase for that.

LibreOffice_distractionfree_enneagon

What do styles do? They structure your document visually and logically. They make the difference between a simple text with bold, underlined and italic words appearing from time to time, and an ordered document with chapters, sections, paragraphs that stands both the test of time (and format conversion) and multiple revisions or updates. They also help you create great looking documents and create templates. In a nutshell, using LibreOffice without styles is like driving a car in first gear or using Emacs only through the scratch buffer (that one’s for the geeks). By the way, the same is true for MS Office styles, but LibreOffice and its predecessor OpenOffice.org are known to handle styles in a consistently more powerful way.

But styles cannot  do everything. They cannot magically turn an office suite into a full development environment or code editor for instance. That would be pushing the enveloppe a bit too far. Which prompts the question of what an office suite like LibreOffice can, could and should do.

It is clear to anyone who used an office suite and code editors or IDEs such as Emacs, Cloud9 (code editor in the cloud) , NetBeans or Eclipse, that LibreOffice serves different needs. There is no will, and no point for anyone to turn LibreOffice into a code editor (aside the macro and dialog editor that’s already embedded in the suite, as shown on the right), because an office suite is not and will never be a development environment. LibreOffice_macroeditor

It is not rare to hear that word processors are a thing of a past, but that’s  an ill-informed opinion. It is not that the cloud is supposedly overthrowing everything, but rather it comes, I think, from several misconceptions and prejudices about office suites. Let me first hint at what word processors are not:

  • code editors: Seriously, some people need to drop that ball. I’m the first one to wish for a full blown html editor that works inside LibreOffice, but certainly not for a full suite with compilers and debuggers. These are specific tools, aimed at a specific range of uses.
  • LaTeX editors: I have good friends who use these – in short, these are powerful tools allowing you to focus on text and then frame and format the text the way you want in a programmatic way. These editors require a lot of practice and learning before you can use them. LaTex editors are used mostly in academic fields. They are not word processors, and to be honest, the notion that you must spend years of training to design a document in LaTex even in 2014 strikes me as nonsensical.
  • wordpads, simple text editors: a word processor can definitely do that, but you could of course use  something less complex, if all you need is a simple text editor such as TextEdit or WordPad.
  • online pads; if you were to implement a collaborative stack in an office suite, it could actually be turned into an etherpad/framapad type of tool, although the value of a word processor may lie elsewhere.

At this stage then, it becomes useful to try to define what a word processor does and why it matters.

A word processor edits and handles documents . Not code, not notes (although it could), only actual documents. Faced with this shockingly simple yet – in my humble opnion powerful – assertion, what do we do with it?

Word processors help you read, edit, save, open documents in a very fast and relatively easy way compared to everything else. Documents are not only made up of words and sentences. They come with a structural logic, specific formating, styles, layouts and graphical elements. While it may appeal to one of the broadest audience on the earth (people who have access to a computer and would like to write a document, such as a letter or a book or a shopping list) it does not mean that word processors or office suites are made for everyone else except developers, engineers and fiction writers. It means word processors excel at editing documents in a powerful way without much of training (compared to a full fledged academic or technical cursus in learning vi, emacs, LaTex editors…) and this uncanny ability  does not really exist among any other tool out there. Sure, if you spend four years editing a document in LaTex, you will likely learn enough to make your PhD. thesis look good. Sure, there’s a customized major mode in Emacs enabling some proper visual document to be edited, but you need to know and learn about it beforehand, customize it some more, get acquainted with the custom shortcuts, etc.

I’m not berating these tools: I’m a regular and devout Emacs user myself. But I do love the comfort and smoothness of firing up LibreOffice Writer and write that nice memo or strategic overview for the Document Foundation just by pointing on the stylist, clicking, expressing my thoughts through the text I’m wirting, changing the fonts, run the spell checker, saving the document, closing it. Tomorrow, when I’ll open it, it will look just as good, and I might even make it look crisper for the benefits of my readers. How long will it take me? A couple of minutes. Ten, if I’m in the mood of changing everything. It cannot get any easier than that. Office suites, and especially word processors are powerful tools. They help create and develop one’s intelligence, and by sharing documents enhance the collective intelligence of groups and crowds. They are meant to be what the LibreOffice project strives to provide: engines of creation, tools for intelligence.

April 13, 2014

Brendan Eich, the bigots, and Software Freedom

Last week we learnt the news of the resignation of Brendan Eich from his position as CEO of the Mozilla Foundation/ Corporation. The controversy on Brendan Eich’s donations to opponents and campaigns against same-sex marriage ultimately prompted the inventor of Javascript to resign from the position he had just been appointed to and leave Mozilla. I followed the reactions online and decided to wait for at least a week before writing my opinion in full. Am I reopening a can of worms? Perhaps, but I think what’s at stake here is people missing an important aspect of software freedom. In this sense, this post won’t be about marriage equality or civil rights in general, it will be about the freedoms conveyed by free software and what they can ultimately mean.

For starters, let me remind you of several things:

No system is perfect…. And while Free Software is made of a set of legal norms, a philosophy, a political movement, and a way to produce and expand digital commons, Free Software in itself is something that constantly evolves. Sometimes people make mistakes. Technology changes. Licence evolve. Etc. A perfect system is a fantasy and does not exist in reality.

I have gay friends… And they’re not of the alibi-type of friends. They’re actual friends, buddies, people I have drinks with, people I meet and engage in discussions, people who tell me about their relationships, their work, their lives.

I have heterosexual and socially conservative friends… And they’re not of the alibi-type of friends. They’re actual friends, buddies, people I have drinks with, people I meet and engage in discussions, people who tell me about their relationships, their work, their lives.

When the controversy about Brendan Eich’s views and activism against gay marriage spread in the news, I thought that certainly this would not go much further than people shouting on blogs. I was wrong. While I do support gay marriage, I did not think for a moment that being a CEO of Mozilla meant that your personal views on politics and society would be judged. Everyone has political views and it is, after all, customary everywhere not to voice these opinions, nor to value them, at the workplace. Of course, I have written here and elsewhere that software freedom is political; surely then the board and the CEO of Mozilla must have some political commitment about digital rights and software freedom deeply rooted in their hearts and minds. I am pretty sure Brendan Eich is no different; but aside this, people are different. They have different stories, different ideas, different political views and different sexual orientations.  Free and Open Source Software projects gather and welcome all kinds of people. In fact, the four freedoms at the core of Free Software licenses are explicit on the notion that Free Software is made available for anyone to use, study, modify and distribute as long as the software license is respected. I’m not making that up, the statement is on the Free Software Philosophy page of the FSF web site:

The freedom to run the program means the freedom for any kind of person or organization to use it on any kind of computer system, for any kind of overall job and purpose, without being required to communicate about it with the developer or any other specific entity. In this freedom, it is the user’s purpose that matters, not the developer’s purpose; you as a user are free to run the program for your purposes, and if you distribute it to someone else, she is then free to run it for her purposes, but you are not entitled to impose your purposes on her.

By now you may be wondering where I’m going with this. The point I feel very few people made in the controversy surrouding Brendan Eich is that Free Software does not care who you are voting for as an individual or even as an organization. What matters is respecting the license the software you are studying, using, modifyng and distributing, and to a broader extent, that the development community you are contributing to -if that is the case- is not deprived from its freedom. Now let’s take a few real, yet general cases of Free Software usage around the globe.

  • Free Software such as Linux or Firefox, or LibreOffice (or BIND, or TCP/IP, etc.) is used by corporations actively engaging into child slavery
  • Free Software (again, same example) is used by the U.S. Government for various needs, some of them being of the military and data collection kind. This statement is public knowledge of course. There are some parts of this world where the U.S. Government is not hold in high regard by some peoples and / or their government
  •  Some people from extremist parties around the world use Firefox and LibreOffice
  • Some opponents of same-sex marriage, in the US  and elsewhere, are using Firefox, Thunderbird, LibreOffice, Evolution, Linux, etc.
  • Some proponents of same-sex marriage use the same software.

Where does that take us? For one thing it is abundantly clear that anyone can use and uses Free Software on a daily basis. Even people who you may not agree with on political or social  ideas. Even people you think should be publicly blamed for their ideas or their actions. Back to Brendan Eich. It is easy to point out that he is or was not just a mere user, but was appointed CEO of Mozilla. Before that, for the record, Brendan Eich was the CTO of Mozilla and the inventor of Javascript. Some people demanded his resignation on the basis of his political ideas and asserted that such ideas ought to be banned from Mozilla. Somehow the moral demand made to Mozilla is more important than the one made to other entities. I do not buy that, at least not when it does not concern software freedom and digital rights. Besides that, Brendan Eich as a CEO would not be Mozilla himself. Mozilla is fortunately much bigger than Brendan. The fact that someone denies equal rights to others may make some people uncomfortable. Some others would find such a position outrageous. But Mozilla is not changing because of the political colours of its CEO. Heck, it’s not even voting.

In this regard, I’m afraid I have bad news for all the people who thought Brendan Eich was unfit to be CEO of Mozilla: I know for a fact that there is one contributor of a major Free Software project who is an extreme right activist. He was seen by a friend per chance in an extreme right demonstration, as this friend was crossing a street in Paris. I know for a fact that projects such as LibreOffice have people who have, let’s put it that way, a rather traditional vision of marriage. I know for a fact that there are people who are actively campaigning in favour of gay marriage all around the world and who are active contributors to LibreOffice as well. And I could go on and on.

If you want to deny leadership positions to people who may have completely different views on marriage, gender and race equality inside Free Software projects or foundations, be ready for a witch-hunt. And then ask yourself the question of whether the same people should be expelled from the project. Then the next thing you should consider would be to only accept people who have been individually cleared from any dubious ideas into your project. You may not want to stop there: get new software licenses prohibiting Free Software to be used by certain kind of people. Someone tried this before and the FSF rejected it, by the way, as it was a blatant denial of software freedom. On top of this, you may want to impose a worldwide censorship and surveillance of the network just to make sure people who may have unacceptable ideas never get around to contact your project. What a fine world this would be, wouldn’t it?

Yes, even people who are outrageous bigots and blatant racists have a right to join, participate and use Free Software. We may not love everyone, but we do work with everyone and serve all of them. Free Software is not a party, it is a much bigger and broader movement encompassing technology, society, law, software and hardware, and ultimately some of our most human qualities: empathy, communication, cooperation, and sharing.  The day this will change, software freedom will die – and the true freedom haters, the censors, the real bigots, the extremists will have won.

Caveat Emptor: This post reflects my personal opinion only and not the views of the Document Foundation nor my employers, past and present.

April 04, 2014

Keeping a promise made a long time ago

Some time around 2009 or 2010, the OpenDocument community realized that while it had won the moral battle over Microsoft and its dubious OOXML standard, it had lost the adoption and ecosystems war.
Microsoft Office had been released and with it an undocument format called OOXML which, as far as experts were concerned, had little to do with the ISO 29500 (aka OOXML) standard. While Europe and Brazil were struggling to migrate their public sector’s documents to ODF, any company or government, let alone any individual acquiring Microsoft Office 2010 migrated to the new and shiny OOXML, officially without remorse or complaint. The ODF advocacy groups here and there were launching all sorts of events and meetings to guide and assist migrations to ODF. Results were mixed. We had victories. We had defeats. At the end of the day what was at stake was fear of failure and change from CIOs and IT services. That’s still the case today. But while these are mostly human factors, there is one thing we hadn’t tried yet, or at least hadn’t been tried enough: turning the hundreds of thousands of files that are out there and locked up in various proprietary file formats to ODF documents.Docliberation

This week the Document Foundation announced its second major project, the Document Liberation. Its aims is to pool and collect every file format filters we have and that people are willing to contribute and develop them so that they not only keep improving but are distributed in the largest number of applications. The aim of the Document Liberation is thus simple: to enable everyone to own its content and to bring a solution to vendor lock-in and undocumented file formats. In doing so, the project is keeping a promise made a long time ago, specifially by ODF. But ODF is a format itself, and while it is enjoying a pretty widespread adoption, it has not done what Microsoft did with OOXML: propose a smooth transition through a change people can accept. In the case of OOXML, as lousy as it seems, people accepted the change because they didn’t know better: Microsoft does this for a reason, so things will pan out all right in the end. They’re taking care of my documents. The industry will follow.

In the case of ODF, no one was in such a position, except perhaps Microsoft. The approach we’re taking today is to offer a solution to a very real problem millions of people have: they don’t know what to do with their files if they haven’t migrated them to a more modern, but not necessarily more standard or more open file format. To these users, we offer a range of choices depending on their “predicament”. We will add more filters as time goes by and the community grows. To developers we offer an exciting place to contribute code by improving existing format filters and proposing new ones. To everyone we offer code that will ensure the continuity of access to content locked in countless files scattered across the Internet, personal computers, corporate, academic and governmental archives. In doing so we not only help ODF keep its promise to liberate documents once and for all, we help make the world a better place by empowering everyone to access and create more digital knowledge and unleash creativity. This promise lies at the core of the Document Foundation’s mission.

March 30, 2014

Eyes and Ears

Welcome to this month’s Eyes and Ears issue on the Moved by Freedom Powered by Standards blog!  Today we have a set of electronic tracks that are issued mostly by one artist, “Dreamium”, aka Sam Z. from the US. I’ve discovered this artist and also found out he does not just mix and compose electronic tracks, as he’s a guitarist and a pretty good one too.

The last track is from Laurent Garnier and is called the Man with the Red Face. This is almost a classic but  at the same time it does not sound as minimalistic as his other productions. Enjoy!

 

March 28, 2014

我的老娘(八):我佛慈悲 普度众生

八、我佛慈悲普度众生

 

  天台县很不发达,所以也透着淳朴。入山的门票是10元,另外国清寺的门票由庙里的和尚自己收取,每人5元。据说,县里为了抓经济,曾经要把入山的门票提高到50元,国清寺的方丈不干了,说:寺庙是普度众生的场所,不是挣钱的地方。如果入山门票提高,他就关闭国清寺,并且说到做到。后来,政府官员们拗不过方丈,只好一直维持现状。听这么一说,我对国清寺的方丈充满了敬意:原来还是有真正的佛家子弟的。

  国清寺的朴素更是让人动容。天台山入口处的一大片田地就是寺田,由和尚们自耕自种,当然也雇了些农民。这时正值水稻收获季节,寺里的空地上就正晒着谷子。寺里装修是最典型的低调、奢华有内涵,寺里的方丈、和尚都守着清规,不像五台山到处都是宰客的和尚和庙宇。老娘慢慢的逛,多多娘则是在细细阅读这个隋代名刹的历史。在这个寺庙里,真正的让人体会到了佛家的庄重。

  老娘有自己拜佛的规矩,我们静静地跟在她的后边。从三贤殿出来后,老娘带着点忧伤,幽幽地看着远方:“我给你爸念了那么多的超生经,按理他应该早就投生了,我就是到了那边,还是见不到他。”

  我的鼻子一酸,知道老娘十三年来对老爸的挂念,却也无法真正体会个中的深情和无奈。更何况我早已被唯物主义洗脑,既不知有前世,也无法去信有来生,一时无法接话。内心中只是强烈的感受到,原来我们这一辈子所遇到的所有人和事,都只是一辈子的事……

  我突然间对自己过去被所谓的唯物主义的洗脑教育充满了痛恨:我们真能那么强大吗?可以藐视天、藐视地、藐视世间的一切神佛?藐视世间的因果福报和轮回?我们没有前世、我们没有来生,我们从虚无中来,最后又到虚无中去?

  我以为我自己比老娘懂得多,我以为自己比老娘更加强大。我在这半年中所做的一切,都想把自己的老娘给挽留住。在这一刻,让我放下孤傲,让我知道,这世上有许多我所不知道的事,有许多我根本做不到的事。我应该没有能力挽留住老娘,但我可以护送好自己的老娘,让她在这一世里了无牵挂,让她可以去她自己想去的地方。也许她能找到我的老爸,也许她能在另一个世界里看护着我们,也许来生我还可以是她的儿子……

  多多有点嘻嘻哈哈,并且不合时宜的说了句不敬的话。爸爸急了,严肃地对多多说:“多多,哪怕你有再高的能耐,再好的主义,都不要和佛法争高低,更不要试图和佛祖比肩!”多多有悟性,听爸爸一说,翻身就到三贤殿里恭恭敬敬的跪下来,磕了三个响头。爸爸心里充满了欣慰:我不会要求多多去信仰什么,但一定要多多学会敬畏。

 


  我以前虽然不会明着嘲笑老娘,但有时却真的会对老娘的许多想法有所不屑。记得十几年前,我第一次坐过飞机后,老娘就小心翼翼地向我打听,问我在飞机上有没有看到神仙以及空中亭台楼阁。老娘第一次坐飞机时,自己不停地四处张望,然后失望的看着我。我不忍心看她失望,就告诉她,也许神仙住在比这还高得多的地方,我们人类还不能到达。在爸爸去世后,老娘总是不死心,总希望还能和老爸再聚首。还好,我还保留一点对无知领域的敬畏之心,总是会给老娘保留一点遐想的空间。如今,我也需要了。看着自己深深眷恋着的老娘就在一步一步离我而去,让我如何忍心啊。所谓的科学,又在清楚地告诉我,我对老娘的病根本上是无能为力,我又怎么心甘啊!

  天台山国清寺一游,了却了老娘隐藏在心中多年的奢望,老娘的满足感溢于言表。老娘所不知道的是,她所寄望的来世也让她的儿子从苦苦强求的备受煎熬的痛楚中解脱了出来。也许我们真有来世,也许真的没有,但无论如何我从这一天开始,护送好自己的老娘。




  未完待续~~


 青春就应该这样绽放  游戏测试:三国时期谁是你最好的兄弟!!  你不得不信的星座秘密

March 27, 2014

我的老娘(七):清澈的溪水,洗去一身的疲累

七、清澈的溪水,洗去一身的疲累

 

  自从老娘生病后,我晚上的应酬就开始降了下来,一下班总是想早点回家多陪老娘聊聊。

  陪老娘瞎聊是我们母子俩非常愉快的一件事。我从小爱黏着娘,小时爱听她给我讲故事。在我们小时,还没有电视。老娘虽然不识字,但她会讲许多评书里的故事,比如杨家将、薛家将、岳母刺字等故事,她一气可以讲很多。我现在的价值观基本上就是老娘通过这些故事传给我们这些孩子的。小时候,我、妹妹还有几个小伙伴经常会围着她,老娘便会边织着篾席边给我们讲故事。甚至在我上大学暑假回家时,我也会躺在她正织着的篾席里,和她一起研究评书里的故事;只是那时候,我已经具备帮她丰富评书故事的能力了。当然,更多的时候就是瞎聊。

  老娘在北京的十年,真是让我体会到了家有一老,胜过一宝的含义。十年里老娘包揽了家务活,把多多喂养的高大健壮。于我老娘而言,那也是幸福的十年。让她遗憾的事,自然也有一些,比如,这十年,她原来的村里的老伙伴已渐渐地去了不少。所以,有时,她也会跟我提起那些我也认识的老人。一天,她提起了经发阿婆的一个壮举,一个目不识丁只会东阳话的女人,口袋里就揣着几毛钱,就自个儿去了天台山一次。一开始大家都以为出事了,五天后她回家了大家才知道她去天台山拜佛回来了。话语间,颇有艳羡的意思。我突然间想起来了,在江浙一带,到天台山、到普陀山拜佛是我老娘那一辈人最大的心愿。

于是我就问,我们国庆节到天台山去玩行不行。老娘眼睛一亮,神色一下子振作了起来,但瞬即又被怕自个给子女添麻烦的想法给压抑住了,马上又说算了。我看准了老娘想去,就告诉她我们正在为国庆节到哪去发愁呢,只要她愿意,我们就一起去。

  我赶紧上网了解情况,并跟妹妹联系,多多娘全力支持。大家设计了一条路线,我们从北京飞到宁波,租个车,先游天台,然后游普陀。老娘听说还有普陀山,可以拜观音,这下真的高兴了`,直说真没想过这辈子还能游天台山和普陀山。她儿子这下牛了,拍着胸脯说:这有啥,我马上订机票!

  错过10月1日的高峰,我们订了2日一大早的飞机到宁波,和妹妹约好了到奉化溪口老蒋故居会合。现在的交通方便,等我们到溪口时,也只有中午十一点半左右。只是如今,大家的生活水平高了,到了节假日,只要是有名堂的风景区都是人山人海。老娘看老蒋的故居,自然也是新鲜,只是最难得的是门前的九曲剡溪,溪水清澈见底。老娘见了,心里痒痒的,又见到有人就在水中的石板上浆洗衣服,就脱了鞋,轻轻地踩进了水里。多多爸爸开始鼓捣多多和开开,想让她们也一起到水里去感受一下大自然的恩宠。

  多多却不舒服了起来,觉得不环保(爸爸感觉应该是多多自己不愿意),大声嚷嚷起来:“不行了,奶奶,你一踩进去,这个溪水就变成了洗脚水了!”

  多多的这个理由,让大家觉得匪夷所思,至少是思维过于独特。老娘坐到了水中的青石板上,悠悠的掬水洗脸,直说有十几年没有见过这么清澈的溪水了;脸上写满了惬意。


 

  开开受到鼓舞,也脱了鞋,踩进了水里。多多娘怕水太凉,怕老太太着凉,就催促我叫老娘上来。我见状就赶紧自己踩进水里去试,感觉水温正合适,虽不温暖,但也不凉。就开始和老娘、开开一道继续想说服多多下水。谁知多多嘟囔着嘴,蹦出了一句石破天惊的话:“哼,我可是大城市里来的姑娘!”

  这话太伤人了,在场的一家子其余的六个人都被气笑了。多多爸嘻笑着帮多多分析:“多多,你说的对,咱这一大家子就你一个是大城市的姑娘。咱奶奶一辈子都是农民,你爸、你妈、小姑、小姑父虽然现在算是城里人,但也都是农民出身。就一个开开是个城里人吧,她也只是东阳这个小城市里的姑娘!看来,您这个大城市的姑娘是无法消受这个清澈的溪水了。”

  老娘乐呵呵的,更是戏起了水,开始挑逗多多。我看着老娘的享受,一瞬间明白了过来:我一直会被自己的朋友们誉为疯疯癫癫,原来我的浪漫主义色彩都是我娘遗传给我的。

  约莫过了近半小时,老娘才依依不舍的离开了溪水。多多依然嘟着嘴,一幅爱生气的模样。

  从溪口出来后,一家子两辆车就直奔天台县去了。到了预订的酒店,觉得不太理想。店主很通情达理,说反正也不愁客人,若我们不愿意,可以退。只是来时经过天台城区,感觉比我们东阳落后二十年,想想也就认了。只是需要我和老娘睡同一张床,多多娘逗趣说我又可以喝老娘的奶了。

  国庆节出游的第一天,那九曲剡溪的溪水洗去了老娘的疲累,也让我们情绪都高涨了起来。

    未完待续~~
 青春就应该这样绽放  游戏测试:三国时期谁是你最好的兄弟!!  你不得不信的星座秘密

March 26, 2014

我的老娘(六):化疗之苦

六、化疗之苦

 

  老娘最急迫的两个病灶都已得到了处理,现在摆在我们面前的就是要不要给老娘做化疗。支大夫的建议可以做,刘大夫的建议也是可以做并且应该做。我还是犹豫不决。正好7月6日我在杭州有一个会议,就决定回老家咨询一个同学大夫的意见,我的要求就是要她以我同学的身份带着专业知识给我建议,而不是大夫身份。她的建议比较明确,化疗对病人的生存期并没有明显的延长作用,而且我老娘年纪也大了,建议不做。

  我和哥哥、妹妹、妹夫商量了,大家基本认可不做化疗,采取保守的方式来做后续治疗。哥哥陪着我一起到了舅舅家里,大舅三舅和小舅都在,他们都很当心老娘的身体状况。听我介绍老娘的治疗情况后都觉得还行,对我们兄弟姐妹四个的孝心也表示很满意。

  老娘的胃口开始有所好转。只是姐姐刚做奶奶不久,家里的孩子也需要人照顾。等到妹妹放假后,妹妹带着开开来北京伺候老娘。

  在给老娘做了复检后,老娘的癌胚抗原指标还在升。刘大夫再次建议尝试一次化疗,说如果老人无法耐受,可以随时终止。原本坚决不做化疗的我,还是产生了动摇,和妹妹面面相觑,犹疑着问:“要不先试一次?”生怕错过了哪怕是万分之一的机会啊!在最后时刻,我还是决定采用刘大夫的方案进行化疗。

  我用自己的切身经历去说服老娘。当年我得结肠癌时,老娘是全程伺候,包括手术和六个疗程的化疗。我的化疗中间跨一个春节,持续了半年,所以这样的切身说法还是有点效果。老娘勉勉强强接受了。

  现在看来,也是我自己贪心,一次性采取了较强的周期,尤其是加了恩度药,一个疗程变成了输液十五天。头两天,老娘的反应并不强烈,渐渐的她的胃口越来越坏,老娘也开始有了怨言。渐渐地老娘的手上的静脉也越来越脆弱,护士扎针也越来越难找地方。我只好拿出我自己红润的手跟老娘比划:当年我的手也被化疗摧残的青紫脆弱,如今不是也恢复的完好如初了。老娘能记起十几年前我化疗的惨样,所以也能咬着牙坚持。只是到了第十二天,护士无法下手扎针了。大夫来找我商量,看看能否在静脉里埋个软针。

  我理解错了,以为就是向我当年在医院那样,在我肩膀静脉处埋个软管,也就同意了。后来据妹妹说,我走后,医生把家属支开,在胳膊肘弯下方处割了小口,那软管一直埋到肩膀附近,所以也流了很多血。这次事件对老娘有点刺激,老娘坚决反对再输液,在勉强把这个疗程输完后,就宣称坚决不再进医院了。医生埋的这个软管,本来可以使用一年的,后来在出院时,顺着老娘的意思,还是给拆了。

  从效果看,这次化疗不仅让老娘身体更虚弱了,而且让她对进一步的治疗有了很强的抗拒心理。

  化疗不能再做了,妹妹在我家里每天商量着给老娘做饭,身体元气也开始恢复。老娘除了人参皂苷和灵芝孢子粉外,再也没有用药,这样也实在不行。我就开始给她找中医。在老娘查出问题不久,我就找东直门中医院看过,并且给她开了半个月的中药,因老娘觉得药太苦,吃着没效果就停了。这次就找了广安门中医院的专家帮开了半个月的药,开始自己煎着吃。

  学校要开学了,妹妹只好回东阳。从4月开始,一直有哥嫂、姐姐和妹妹轮流着来照顾老娘,我和多多娘间或也能支应一下,老娘的身体也逐渐恢复了,她又要开始干活了。多多娘就催着我找了个保姆。但这保姆只能来下午不到半天的时间,一时也只能凑合。

  老娘渐渐地对中药也开始反感了,总觉得吃了中药占了她的胃,让她吃不下饭。我无奈也只好随她。断了中药后,老娘吃的果然多了些,脸色开始红润了起来,头发也开始长了出来。老娘的心情也渐渐地好了起来。

  只是连中药也不吃,就等于束手无策。无法可想,最是受煎熬。有时看着老娘开始有说有笑,自己却清楚病情并没有缓解,总感觉到自己是那么的无助,内心深处充满了挫败感。按月去航空医院给老娘开防骨转移的针时,刘大夫感觉到了我的挫败感,正色对我说:“胡先生,你千万不要觉得你做错了什么。事实上,在给你老娘治病的过程,你的每步决策都是对的。你看看,你给她脑部放疗了,解决了她最大的危险;你给她做了射频消融技术,摘了肿瘤的司令部;你给她试了下化疗,你娘不能耐受,你就给她终止了。你是典型的工程师,按部就班的给你娘治病。在我看来,你每步都选择了最正确的方法。我们在给病人治病时,最怕的就是家属或病人觉得自己每步都错了。你千万不要有任何自责的心理。”她顿了顿,继续说:“我刚刚在内部刊物里写了篇姑息疗法的文章,说的就是像你娘这样的病人,哪出问题治哪,也是一种积极的疗法;否则你随她的意也是一种方法。”

   未完待续~~

 


 青春就应该这样绽放  游戏测试:三国时期谁是你最好的兄弟!!  你不得不信的星座秘密

March 22, 2014

Freshly Stable

With the release of our new LibreOffice 4.2 version and the new website, people have noticed a small yet quite visual change in the way we label the versions of LibreOffice. You now have the choice between downloading LibreOffice “Fresh” or “Stable”. Of course the version numbers do not go away, however it is expected that the first  information anyone might receive about downloding LibreOffice would be these two tags, Capture du 2014-03-22 12:43:51and not numbers. Let me explain a little bit what we are trying to achieve here, as this is at this stage somewhat of an experiment.

LibreOffice release model works according to a time-based scheme and relies on two distinct production branches. This means that we do release versions that are stable and ready for use by anyone based on a pace and a set of dates that have been agreed upon and planned beforehand. By looking at the diagram on the release plan, one will also notice that these two production branches are both stable, but stand at a different stage of their lifecycle. One of these branches has seen her first stable release (4.x.0) some time ago and has seen several updates and patches. This version is now, say, in its fifth iteration (4.0.4) and is thus very stable, very patched and will see almost no changes anymore. In a Microsoft world we would call this “Service Packs”. Around the same time, a new branch has been open, but it is not a development branch, an unstable branch for development: each of the two branches has its daily testing versions, its pre-releases such as betas and release candidates. These two branches are stable no matter what. But let’s go back to the new branch. It will be released roughly around the same time that the older branch reaches its fourth or fifth iteration, and the first version of its new branch will have a .0 at its third decimal. It will then take one the same lifecycle that the older branch, until it reaches its sixth or seventh iteration at the latest. Then this branch will be entirely discontinued in favour of its successor, and so on.

Confused by the version numbers? We thought so too. This is how the idea of introducing names that would label the two distinct branches came up. Mind you: this is not about the newest release as some people thought at first. It is about drawing the line between the two current branches of the LibreOffice production. We thus  picked “Fresh” and “Stable”. it is not entirely clear whether these are the best terms, but we feel they’re working well so far in that they’re conveying complex concepts with simple terms. These also help us avoid rather long and difficult discussions with people who tend to think that we need to release one stable version when it’s ready (what used to happen and not work too well with OpenOffice.org) and people who think that the new branch was a “dangerous” “development” branch only made for people living precariously on the edge. Nothing of that was and is  true; if one wants to try really unstable versions our development builds, and to a lesser extent the betas are here for that. But it is  true that the new branch introduces the new features, while the older one receives rather corrective bugfixes.

In the end, we hope this new naming scheme will bring clarity while combining freshness and stability for the benefit of all. Let me know what you think!

March 21, 2014

我的老娘(五):第一次住院

五、第一次住院

 

  到宣武医院住院是真正的一个大坎。6月14日周五去医院前,先在我单位附近的宏状元里吃午饭,点的皮蛋瘦肉粥很和老娘胃口,一次吃了两小碗,老娘直说是近来吃到的最好吃的东西。我和哥看着老娘吃的高兴,自然心里高兴。只是到宣武医院办理住院手术却遇到了麻烦,我原本答应老娘晚上还是带她回家住的。但宣武医院管理严格,服务也周到,他们专门为每个病人派了一个护工(几个病人共用),不允许病人晚上回家住。这下没辙了,老娘人生第一次住在医院里,而且没有家人陪护。我和哥两个陪老娘陪到下午六点,医院就不让家属陪着了。这一晚,我实在是放心不下。

  第二天上午过去,老娘过的还行才略微放心一点。医院的饭菜自然不合老娘的胃口,想着昨天老娘喜欢宏状元的皮蛋瘦肉粥,我就去附近的宏状元点买了一份带过来。老娘尝了一口就放下了:太咸了!我尝了尝,果然有点咸,就赶回店里要求退换。店里经理自己尝了一下,也觉得咸。就给我重新做了一份。这次我小心了,自己先尝,还是咸。值班经理态度还行,就跟我商量,用一份白粥来兑一下。我同意了,带回来给老娘。老娘尝了一口,把勺子放下了:味道不对,没昨天的好吃。

  在我的印象中,这是老娘人生中第一次对吃的这么挑剔,知道她正受治疗之苦。就跟她商量,我是不是再回去换。这下老娘觉得太麻烦了,就坚决不同意,端起饭盒勉强吃了几口说自己也就吃这几口。

  看老娘勉强吃着,自己也是没办法。就打开手机地图查找附近的美食,看到宣武门地铁旁有面爱面。晚上就早早带老娘过去吃了,这次老娘对面爱面的招牌面非常喜欢,加上饿,吃了不少,那感觉就像是饿了几顿终于吃到好吃的样子。

  周日带着多多一起到医院看奶奶。多多在病房里看着奶奶穿着病服,眼圈开始发红,我怕多多哭,就赶紧把iPad给多多递过去。我不信邪,想再试试老娘的口味,看是不是因为别的原因。中午就又带老娘到宏状元店吃,老娘依然对上次皮蛋瘦肉粥赞不绝口,对新煮的吃了一口就咬定味道不对。看来,真的是治疗过程把老娘的胃口毁了。下午,怕老娘无聊,就带着一家子陪老娘逛陶然亭公园。正逛着,护士急了,给我打电话催我们回去。而我只想给老娘营造一种轻松的氛围。

  周一,我忙就没过去。哥哥一大早到医院陪,侄女两口子中午过去陪。老娘依然没有找到合胃口的饭菜。下午多多娘过去,就又带老娘到面爱面去,结果老娘对上次觉得好吃的面一点胃口都没了。多多娘就绞尽脑汁地给老娘点了红豆沙,这个符合老娘口味,老娘吃着高兴。

  18日周二,胡牧大夫给老娘做射频消融手术。从结果看应该很成功,老娘也没受什么苦,因为只是背部的微创,所以行动上都不受限。我就按多多娘的经验,给老娘买回了她昨天爱吃的红豆沙,结果这次老娘又是只尝了一口就放下了。

  这次手术很顺利,观察了一晚,医院就通知出院了。哥和嫂子服侍老娘一个多月后,姐姐来京替班。

  未完待续~~

 


 青春就应该这样绽放  游戏测试:三国时期谁是你最好的兄弟!!  你不得不信的星座秘密

March 20, 2014

我的老娘(四):端午节 雨中游北戴河

四、端午节  雨中游北戴河

 

  这期间,老娘肺部的活检结果出来了,不适合靶向药物治疗。这对我的打击很大,真的开始怨恨老天的不公。就在我对老娘的下一步治疗方案束手无措的时候,同学李晖帮我联系到了宣武医院的支修益大夫。支大夫看了老娘的病历后,说可以采用射频消融技术来处理老娘的肺部肿瘤,好的情况下病人可以存活两三年。支大夫的话重新燃起了我的希望。

  老娘放疗结束后,就想安排老娘歇息几天,眼看着端午节要到了,就和支大夫约好了端午节后去宣武医院住院。

  胡老妈粽子在圈里已小有名气,老娘歇了几天,觉着自己力气还行,就又开始惦记是否要给我公司的同事们裹粽子。我跟周顺民一说,他坚决不同意,怕老人累着,后来想了一个主意,说反正我们端午节要出去搞团体培训,可以在培训那天举办裹粽子比赛,让老娘去教大家裹粽子。这样的安排让老娘也有点高兴,只是比赛过程让老娘颇为遗憾:认真裹粽子的没几个,关键是浪费了粮食让老人很心疼。只是总是大家的一番好意,高兴还是高兴。

  老娘的情绪好点,觉得哥嫂在北京干陪着有点过意不去。我就逗娘,要不要带哥嫂到北戴河去玩?老娘身体上自我感觉还行,觉着哥嫂没去过海边,就着兴致答应了。多多娘嘱咐我要注意老娘的身体也同意放行了。6月11日我带着老娘、多多和哥嫂就开着红车去北戴河游玩。

  天空依然不作美,北戴河下着毛毛细雨。多多就是喜欢大海,虽然雨中天冷无法下海,只是能在海边转转也是高兴。




  第二天天晴了,到北戴河我都会去滑沙场,为的是可以滑沙也可以下海。对老娘而言,这是第四次到北戴河,第一次来时,多多正在多多娘的肚子里;第二次是多多娘带着多多、慧慧和老娘一起的;第三次是2010年,我带着一车子九个人的自驾游。那次老娘圆了一个八年的心愿:老娘第一次到北戴河时,人家嫌她年老,不让滑沙。老娘甚是不服,觉着自己身体很好,凭啥不让她滑。第三次那次,老娘在儿子、女婿以及孙子孙女的保证下,说服工作人员放行,自己滑了一次,甚是满意。这次,我不敢让老娘去滑沙了,老娘虽不服也同意了。于是我带着多多和哥嫂去滑沙,结果嫂子连吊车都不敢坐,让老娘很是不屑,觉得还不如让她再去滑一次。我自然不敢。

  海水虽然还是比较凉,但到了海边不下海,那不是多多的风格,可多多下了海,爸爸只在岸上喊也不是爸爸的风格。多多爸只好打起精神强入海,老娘吹着海风,看着多多玩得高兴,她也自然高兴。



  北戴河游至少在很大程度上冲淡了老娘作为病人的压抑心情,为老娘的下一步治疗提升了情绪。

 

     未完待续~~


 青春就应该这样绽放  游戏测试:三国时期谁是你最好的兄弟!!  你不得不信的星座秘密

March 19, 2014

我的老娘(三):五一团聚 脑部放疗

三、五一团聚  脑部放疗

 

  4月25日,我挂了航空医院刘寅主任大夫的号。我还是抱着一线希望,又重新回顾起老娘的病情。刘大夫也是强调必须先做放疗,说脑部的瘤是个炸弹,必须先排除。我还是忍不住问,到底有多严重,到底有多快。刘大夫看着我:“你应该是学理科的吧,肿瘤的发展就是N次幂方的速度,你应该能够理解。”这一瞬间,我再也忍不住了,多日压抑在心中的痛楚爆发了出来;我哇地一声就放肆地大哭了起来,眼泪也是哗地留个不止。哭出一声后,自己也觉得不是很好,就用手紧紧捂住嘴巴,只任眼泪继续流。在那一瞬间,我恨死了所谓的科学,心里也是不停地怪刘大夫:“你为什么要说的那么科学理性,我可是学物理的,你就不能让我保留一点点哪怕是非常渺茫的希冀吗?”

  刘大夫看着我,任我哭了一会,给我找了纸巾,让我擦眼泪:“胡先生,我只能给你说实话。你妈的情况确实需要先处理脑部肿瘤的事,放疗方案你可以多问几家。我也帮你推荐一下北京肿瘤医院的石博士,让他帮你确认一下放疗方案。”

  从医院出来,我就给哥、姐、妹都打了电话,姐就催着哥嫂赶紧到北京来。回家和多多娘商量了一下,又给老娘准备了一个完整的五一团聚计划:打电话要侄儿瑶尧在五一期间过北京玩,哥嫂借口到北京找工作;然后再给多多拍艺术照给老娘留下合影。

  哥哥周六就到了,我跟哥商量后决定等过了五一再去做脑部放疗。那五一节自然就先带着老娘和哥嫂一家子去享受北京的春天。29日先带着老娘到照相馆拍艺术照。

 


















 

  在多多的艺术照里,刻意地多安排了几组多多和老娘的合影,只是希望多多将来意识到今天的时间意义后,能少些缺憾。

  突然接到小姨的电话,虽然她说的有点拐弯抹角,但听得出她已经知道老娘的病了。在哥来北京以前,一直在纠结,要不要告诉四个舅舅和两个阿姨;后来觉得这么重大的事一定得让他们知道,只是要求他们不要直接给老娘打电话。老娘有四个弟弟,两个妹妹。这段时间几个舅舅都给我打过电话了,小姨肯定是舅舅们通知的。小姨比我哥还小一岁,小时也是喝过老娘的奶;现正在天津打工,也要过来看看老娘。小姨过来,就赖着要和老娘一起睡,私下里也是很难受,一直跟我和哥哥说:她出生的头一个月就是靠喝着老姐的奶才活下来的(那是外婆年纪太大,没奶水了),长姐就是娘啊。这样,这个五一一开始是一家子陪着老娘玩和拍艺术照。最好的照片还是多多娘给老娘拍的。





  五一节过后,说服老娘到航空医院住院治疗。只是看过其他病友,我和哥哥答应老娘不让她在医院过夜,每天输液或治疗后就回家住。刘主任也同意了。

  得益于老娘是个文盲,除了自家人的名字外,基本就不认识其他文字的含义;老娘并不清楚自己得的病,更不清楚自己病情的严重性。我们也是尽量往轻了说。只是老娘需要迈过的心理坎也是一个个来了。

  首先,要放疗必须要剃光头发,要不脑部局部放疗就无法精准定位;因此只好带老娘去剃光头发。理发的小伙太聪明,也是见多了,就随意的问了是不是癌症。我只好赶紧用别的语言岔过去,敷衍了事。

  然后,就是病友之间的打听。头几次我自己在场,有人问我就应付,大部分的病人很有善心,能从我的话中知道我们在瞒着老太太的病情,会很配合的从问话中别出去。但有一天早上我因开会让哥陪着老娘在医院排队等放疗,有病友不管不顾直愣愣告诉老娘的病很严重。那天,老娘一下子就有了很大的心事,家里人费了很大的劲才让老娘高兴了起来。

  老娘的光头给她带来很大的压力,多多娘怕老娘害羞,早早就给老娘买了头套和帽子。老娘试了试,头套有点热,出门也就基本上带了帽子。

  在小区里,老娘也有几个老伙伴,老娘怕人问就会自己主动跟人家说自己的病。多多娘事先和楼下阿姨说好了,让她也简单对待,帮老娘宽解。

  脑部放疗总疗程是十五天。在脑部放疗前,给老娘做了个肺部穿刺,主要是要活检一下,看看怎么处理老娘肺部的肿瘤。从老娘的态度,我们无法采取传统手术方式来开刀,就寄希望于能采用靶向药物来处理。

  头十几天,老娘的头发又开始长出,没有掉发现象出现;这让我一直心存侥幸,以为可以挨过去。结果在最后两天,老娘的短发开始大把大把的掉了下来,基本上是老娘自己手抓一把掉一把,只留下中间的一长条没掉,有点像贝克汉姆的某个发型。有时我看着都会忍不住苦笑。

  放疗的最后两天,老娘的胃口也被毁了,见了肉就烦。在老娘朴素的知识里,人只要吃得了饭那就没病,吃不了饭才是麻烦事。所以胃口不香,让老娘感觉很不好,我们也只能宽慰。老娘开始警惕,是不是她的病有点严重?

  未完待续~~


 青春就应该这样绽放  游戏测试:三国时期谁是你最好的兄弟!!  你不得不信的星座秘密

March 18, 2014

我的老娘(二):雨中的欢乐  西湖游

二、雨中的欢乐  西湖游


    4月19日,我和多多娘带着多多和老娘坐动车往杭州赶,参加我的学生毕业二十周年聚会。妹妹一家带着哥哥嫂嫂从东阳往杭州赶(妹妹的车小,带不上姐姐了)。动车还是比较快的,五个半小时到杭州,只是到了杭州后出车站实在忒麻烦,排队排了一个多小时才打到出租车。到了西湖边的海军疗养院时,已近晚上九点。安排老娘和多多、开开一个房间睡。我们六个大人(哥哥嫂嫂、妹妹妹夫和我与多多娘)在一起商量老娘的事。按大夫的建议,脑部肿瘤是必须立即处理的,至于肺部以及化疗就看以后的进展情况。大家心情压抑,大哥了解情况后也比较实在,说哥几个可以轮流到北京来伺候老娘,具体的治疗方案由我拿主意。
    20日,西湖下着蒙蒙细雨,大家簇拥着老娘逛西湖,虽是早春的寒意袭人,一家子还是喜气洋洋。多多爸为了增添大家的兴致,诗兴大发:“远看好像有个湖\近看好像确实是个湖\走近一看\哇塞,果然好大一个湖。”这样的诗自然受到了多多和开开的合理嘲笑与打击,老娘就是在这样的欢快气氛中游西湖。
 


    今年年初,多多的个子已经超过奶奶,在雷峰塔里,多多要展示自己的实力,说要背着奶奶游玩。有开开,有多多,有儿女陪着,老娘真是很兴奋。儿女们知道内情,也是可着劲要让老娘高兴,开开应该知道一些,多多懵懂无知跟着爸爸耍宝,也是变着法让老娘开怀大笑。
 





    雨中的西湖,多一些凉意,也多一些悲伤的理由。在一家子欢聚的同时,偶尔的悲伤总会涌到心头,看着老娘欢笑的脸,真希望时间能就这样持续下去。
 
    中午时分,学生们派车接我到聚会酒店,老娘他们去灵隐寺拜佛。二十年了,我唯一的一批学生还记着我,还把我当成他们之间的重要一员。相识时他们十五六岁,如今已三十五六,这之间差着千里万里啊。我对这次聚会非常期待,因为我很想借此机会向他们表达我深藏在心里的谢意:当年我是在对人生几乎绝望的情境下偶遇他们,是他们对我的期待和欢迎让我重整旗鼓,再次整装出发的。要没有老娘这事,那今天就是我意气风发的时刻。在我发言环节,我真诚地向我的学生们致谢了,也向大家道了遗憾;如今也只能在晚餐吃到一半时刻匆匆赶回酒店。
    回到酒店时,老娘和两个孩子已在房间里,几个大人还没打到出租车。老娘一天内逛了西湖的主要风景,兴致正高。尤其是到灵隐寺的烧香拜佛让她很是兴奋,我也摘重点给她说了我的学生聚会情形,看着老娘高兴,大家也是自然高兴。
    第二天上午先是沿着西湖赏玩,午饭后觉得还是可以去看看钱塘江边的六和塔。我们已经累了,就让大哥大嫂陪着老娘和多多一起去爬六和塔。在入口处,老娘和多多带着墨镜的合影非常有型。
 










 





    从六和塔下来后,两拨人就此分手,哥嫂妹妹她们就从钱塘江桥起步开车回东阳了,事先跟哥商量好了,他们一回家就安排好家里的事,准备到北京来陪老娘。我们因为时间还早,就先去了虎跑泉,老娘依然走的快,多多娘怕老娘累着,所以半真半假喊累。虎跑泉里有许多专门来打水的人,排队老长,但看到老娘也想喝口泉水,马上就让老太太插队接了瓶泉水。那泉水清冽甘甜,老娘说喝了这样的水,病肯定就没了。
    这趟西湖游让老娘情绪高涨,很是满足。回到北京后,我再找了趟梁大夫,梁大夫实话实说,建议我别等301医院的病床,一是等不到,二是我老娘应该先做脑部放疗,而现在北京的成熟医院放疗技术都差不多,可以找一个离家近一点的就行,治疗方案可以多找几个专家来确认。我听着有理,就决定找航空医院。

    未完待续~~

    
 青春就应该这样绽放  游戏测试:三国时期谁是你最好的兄弟!!  你不得不信的星座秘密

March 17, 2014

我的老娘(一):灾难总是在你不经意的时候降临

一辈子 真的只是一辈子

 

    老娘站在天台山国清寺三贤殿前的平台上,带着点忧伤,幽幽地看着远方:“我给你爸念了那么多的超生经,按理他应该早就投生了,我就是到了那边,还是见不到他。”

    我的鼻子一酸,知道老娘十三年来对老爸的挂念,却也无法真正体会个中的深情和无奈。更何况我早已被唯物主义洗脑,既不知有前世,也无法去信有来生,一时无法接话。内心中只是强烈的感受到,原来我们这一辈子所遇到的所有人和事,都只是一辈子的事……

 

一、灾难总是在你不经意的时候降临

 

  4月2日,带着老娘一起去爱康国宾进行年度体检。期间,检查大夫针对老娘的颈部动脉和肺部的一个模糊印象找我沟通了一下,建议仔细检查。我同意了。

  4月3日,爱康国宾的郭大夫大打电话给我,说我老娘的癌胚抗原指标很高,必须进一步检查。因马上是清明节,而爱康国宾的休息日是周一,所以建议4月9日周二早上过去。

  无论如何,还是要过好清明节。期间约了冯伟、金国顺两家人去京东大峡谷了,想在外面住一天。因太冷,桃花也没开,最后都各自回家了。

  4月9日一大早到了爱康国宾,爱康国宾的大夫非常仔细的帮老娘重新检查了腹部彩超和肺部。一个老主任非常严肃地说:“你娘的癌胚抗原指标已900多,肯定有问题,一定要认真检查。”郭大夫说下午她要到301医院,可以帮我联系大夫。下午,带着老娘去了301医院,虽然也看到了大夫,但人家也只是提出要进一步体检,让我先做胸部CT。一到了CT室,人太多,就决定回到王府中西医医院进行检查。

  4月10日上午,王府医院的CT结果表明老娘左肺下叶有大小3.1*3.7*4.7的肿块。问题相当严重了。自己抹着泪,给哥、妹妹都打电话说了基本情况。

  我开始找人帮忙。左小卫一听说是我老娘的事,马上给我联系了301医院的田大夫,让我明天一大早去找他。11日早7点30,我赶到301医院,田大夫帮介绍了胸外科的主任大夫梁先生。梁大夫看了后,比较肯定的说应该基本是肺癌晚期了,若要在301就诊,必须做进一步的检查。他当即给我开好各种检查单子。要我明天一大早过去检查。

  4月12日恰巧又是海淀金融创投基金的答辩会。我只能一大早带着老娘去做各种体检,中间趁着老娘在排队等候的时间去答辩,时间把握的比较巧,两头都没耽误事。

  带着老娘在跑体检时,我脚步冲冲,老娘有点赶不上,只好时不时回头顾看,不时停下来等。突然间发现老娘真的开始变老了,就在前几年,我们一块出去玩时总是老娘在等我,现在需要我停下来等她了。老娘感动了,说:“阿勇,你一会就停下来,一会就停下来,是怕我走丢吗?这么在乎我,我都不好意思了。”我看着老娘,差点哭出声来,嘴里憋着无法出声,冲着老娘点点头,心里想:“像您这么珍贵的老太虽然比比皆是,但属于我的也就只有您一个啊,而我还没把您看住!”

  已经预感结果不是很好,又不想惊动老娘,就在排队的时间里和老娘瞎聊。我因为预定了4月20日要到杭州参加我的学生毕业二十年聚会,事先和老妹策划了一下,想不动声色的带老娘去杭州大家见面商量。就有意识地跟老娘提起去杭州开会的事,老娘突然冒出一句话:“我西湖都没玩过呢。”这话有点让我挠头,老娘在北京十年,进出杭州机场大致也有十来次,细想一下还真没在杭州玩过。每次回家总是急匆匆赶回东阳,每次回北京总是在老家呆到最后一刻直接去机场。我也正好找到话茬:“那我就带你一起到杭州,让兰仙他们一家子也到杭州玩。”这样的安排让老娘很是高兴。妹妹又跟大哥商量好了,让大哥给老娘打电话时,装作首次听娘说要到杭州玩就凑趣要跟着妹妹也一起去,这让老娘很是高兴。这样,一家子就在老娘不察觉的情况下,一起约在了杭州见面。(妹妹车小,捎不了姐姐了)

  4月18日是公司董事会召开的日子,一大早我赶到301医院取得最终的化验结果,梁大夫很明确的告诉我最坏的结果:肺癌晚期,已经脑部肿瘤转移加全身骨转移。我抖抖索索问治疗方案,梁大夫说必须尽快进行脑部放疗,这是要命的地方,同时打防止骨转移恶化的针;至于肺部,若不动手术,就只能维持了。他同时略微婉转的告诉我,这样的病情快的三个月,慢一点六个月,最好最好是一年……

  董事会我是绝对的主角,等晚上回家时,老娘已睡了。我带着这个结果和多多娘说了,躺在床上,自责不已,总是觉得老娘在我身边,我自己居然没有看好,是自己把老娘看丢了。多多娘搂住我,不断劝慰:“你是一个真正的孝子,你对你老娘的孝是发自内心,出乎自然;在我的身边,见过许多孝子,但我没见过一个像你这样的孝子。”多多娘顿了顿,继续说:“你是个伟大的儿子,也是一个伟大的父亲,也是一个好丈夫,但你不能把不是你能承担的责任都往自己身上扛。”老婆这样的评价让我振作了一点,以前多多娘认为我是个好儿子、好父亲,但是不是好丈夫一直成疑,就问:“我也是好丈夫了?”“是的,你不但是好丈夫,你还是好弟弟,好哥哥,好叔叔,好舅舅,好姑父,好姨夫,还是好姐夫,好女婿。我爸妈就一直要我弟弟记住你的好处,要懂得感恩。”其他的好,我都敢自认,但唯有好女婿,我有点愧疚:“我还和你娘吵架呢。说实在的,头些年,我还觉得跟你娘吵架那事我自己占着理,但这几年一想起来就后悔,后悔自己不该跟你娘吵架,有啥事应该好好说的。我就是张不开口跟你爸你妈道歉。”

  第二天天还没亮,我又坐到了床沿上长吁短叹。多多娘也没睡好,伸过手从后面搂住我的腰:“其实,我最担心的还不是你,我担心多多知道会怎么反应呢,真怕她接受不了。”我握住多多娘的手,充满感激:最了解我的还是自家老婆,她一句话已经彻底让我的注意力从深深的自责和悲痛中转移了出来:“是啊,多多怎么办?”

  第二天,老岳父和岳母打电话来宽慰我,顺便又一个劲地夸我,多多娘为了转移我的悲痛和自责,还是费了很大的心。

  未完待续~~


 青春就应该这样绽放  游戏测试:三国时期谁是你最好的兄弟!!  你不得不信的星座秘密