Iceland : Midnight Sun

Stunningly beautiful…

Midnight Sun: A natural phenomenon occurring in the summer months north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle where the sun never fully sets and remains visible 24 hours a day.

This short time lapse film was shot during the Icelandic Midnight Sun in June of 2011.

Via The Laomedon.

Estimating sunset time with your hand

I came across this handy tip over at Lifehacker website.  I think that’s pretty useful for outdoor photography, when camera people want to some of the best sky colors.

All you need to do is extend the hand full and count the number of finger width distances between the sun and the horizon.  Each finger is approximately 15 minutes, which means each hand is about an hour.  This is of course just an approximation, but it’s always better to have an approximation than nothing at all.  Enjoy.

Open Source Contributors

With the recent news of Sun Microsystems buying MySQL AB for one billion dollars (insert Dr.Evil’s evil laugh here), I hear plenty calling Sun the largest contributor to open source. I beg to differ.

Sun is doing a lot for open source, there is no argument about it, and whatever they do is much appreciated. But calling them the largest contributor to open source, is a little bit too far fetched, I think. First of all, let’s see what we are talking about. Here is the list of open source stuff from Sun (according to their open source initiative page):

  • Solaris Enterprise System / OpenSolaris
  • Linux from Sun
  • StarOffice /
  • NetBeans
  • OpenSPARC
  • Java

That’s something, but doesn’t qualify for the number one contributor. First of all, these are mostly Sun’s own offerings. Secondly, some of these (Java and OpenSolaris) have been opened to be saved. They were open when it was pretty much obvious to everyone that if they are not, they aren’t going to last very long. Or, at least, they won’t prosper as they should. Thirdly, the effort that was put in some of these (StarOffice / by Sun isn’t all that impressive. I mean, yeah, they bought and opened StarOffice. People jumped on it and started to improve it. And it improved a lot. But it’s still huge, bloated, and clunky, after all these years…

As I said, it’s still appreciated. There is plenty of good in Sun’s open source initiative. But I think there are companies that have done more good to open source than Sun did. I think that IBM did a great deal more. And it did it before anyone else, when open source needed help the most. Then, I think Google has done plenty and is still doing a lot. And, I think it’s not fair at all to forget Red Hat. These guys made a lot of money on open source software, but they were more than willing to share and invest those money back into the community.

What does Sun think about Google’s Java on Android?

Well, nobody knows for sure yet, but Slashdot (yes, again Slashdot) links to this article which has a few quotes from Sun officials.  Interestingly enough, it’s hard to say if Sun will support the open source platform

Jonathan Schwartz, president and CEO of Sun, wrote a blog post congratulating Google on the day of Android’s launch.

or if it will insist on keeping mobile market defragmented

Sun also shared statements that Rich Green, executive vice president of software at Sun, made during Oracle Open World this week about Android. “We’re reaching out to Google and are anticipating they will be reaching out to us to ensure the software and APIs will be compatible–so deployment on a wide variety of platforms will be possible,” he said.

Green also said that Sun wants to work with Google to prevent creating a fractured mobile development environment.

Java chapter in Android story

Blogosphere keeps providing more and more insights into the Google Android story.  As I mentioned in my previous post, Android platform has a lot to do with Java.  In fact, many people consider the level to which Java is integrated into the platform to be the “big news”, unique and all.  Here is a quote from Simon Brocklehurst’s post titled “Putting The Android SDK In Perspective” (read the whole piece, it’s very good):

Android has integrated the Java platform deeply into the phone. In other words, it’s a native application platform for Android phones. No-one has done this before, and it will allow new types of application to be developed (Google has set aside $10M to give away to developers to stimulate development of such software – I hope young entrepreneurs use this opportunity, some great little companies could be started by following this path). It should be noted that Sun’s forthcoming mobile OS platform, JavaFX Mobile, is based around almost exactly the same concept.

After I read the last sentence, I realized that the story is even deeper than I thought.  Google is jumping into competition with Sun, using Sun’s own Java technology.  How is that possible?  Sun was never known for its generosity.  Did it suddenly change?  And what about Microsoft, who invest heavily into both Java and mobile industry?  How did they let this happen?  And what about all those licenses, alliances, and competition?

Google Blogoscoped has an insightful post titled “How Google Android Routes Around Java Restrictions” which explains a few things.  Here are a few quotes to get you started:

Sun released their “free java” source code under the GPLv2 to both win the free software crowd and capture peripheral innovation and bug fixing from the community. For the java standard edition (aka “the cat is out of the bag”) there is an exception to the GPLv2 that makes it “reciprocal” only for the Java platform code itself but not for the user code running on it (or most people wouldn’t even dare touching it with a pole).
But such exception to the GPLv2 is not there for the mobile edition (aka “where the money is”).
This brilliant move allows Sun to play “free software paladin” on one hand and still enjoy complete control of the licensing and income creation for the Java ME platform on mobile and embedded devices on the other

Dalvik is a virtual machine, just like Java’s or .NET’s.. but it’s Google’s own and they’re making it open source without having to ask permission to anyone

Android uses the syntax of the Java platform (the Java “language”, if you wish, which is enough to make java programmers feel at home and IDEs to support the editing smoothly) and the java SE class library but not the Java bytecode or the Java virtual machine to execute it on the phone (and, note, Android’s implementation of the Java SE class library is, indeed, Apache Harmony’s!)

So, here we are: Apple makes the iPhone, incredibly sweet, slick and game-changing and yet incredibly locked. Google makes Android and not only unlocks development abilities on the mobile phone but also unlocks millions of potential Java mobile programmers from Sun’s grip on it.

This is fascinating stuff.  Even if a bit technical for non-IT audience, still fun to read through…

Partial solar eclipse

Solar Eclipse

I’m not very much interested in astronomy and movement of spacial bodies, but when something major goes on I jump on the bandwagon and enjoy the show. Today I watched the partial show eclipse that happened around 13:00 and that I would have missed if it wasn’t for the guys in the office who went semi-insane about it.

In compliance with Murphy’s Law I didn’t have my camera with me and couldn’t make that authentic picture that you see above. But talking about solar eclipse without showing a picture is like eating French fries without ketchup, so I had to cheat. I draw the picture in Gimp and in my opinion it represents what I saw fairly good.

Continue reading “Partial solar eclipse”