Emacs: Saving buffer in different encoding

So once again I had a file that I nee­ded to save in UTF8, because the ori­gi­nal for­mat it came in was dif­fe­rent. And time and again, I had to chase down the appro­priate thing in the Emacs docu­men­ta­tion. So here is how to do it:
CODING is the coding for­mat; com­ple­tion is avail­able.
And you find the docu­men­ta­tion in the Text Coding Node of the Emacs documentation.

re:publica Widget

As you can see from the side­bar, I’m going to re:publica 2011. As a con­ve­ni­ence to other Word­Press blog­gers, I’ve made a small wid­get to include the re:publica Ban­ner on your blog. You can down­load it from my blog.
To install:

  1. Down­load re:publica XI Wid­get.
  2. Unzip and upload the con­t­ents to the direc­tory wp-content/plugins/ inside your Word­Press instal­la­tion. You have to upload the direc­tory ‚republica-widget‘ to the plugins direc­tory, not just the file.
  3. Log in to the Word­Press backend and activate the plugin
  4. Move the Wid­get to your side­bar in the Appearance > Wid­gets menu
  5. Select the ban­ner you want to use, and you’re all set!

Have fun and see you there!

European Software

Rea­ding that the Ger­man For­eign Minis­try is about to change their com­pu­ting desk­tops back from a GNU/Linux-based sys­tem to Micro­soft Win­dows and their Office offe­rings, a thing that has been on my mind for a while comes back again.
I think it would be very worthwhile to start an initia­tive to fos­ter euro­pean soft­ware; I think that whe­re­ver soft­ware pro­du­ced in europe is avail­able, it should be favored over other pro­ducts. There are euro­pean ope­ra­ting sys­tem ven­dors – espe­cially in the GNU/Linux arena. Why are they not get­ting the money, but rather the big ven­dor from Red­mont?
There also is the point that I think par­ti­cu­larly for sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion, an ope­ra­ting sys­tem where the code can be audi­ted and tra­ced is a good idea. I am not sure that you should be trus­ting the ope­ra­ti­ons of a highly sen­si­tive net­work to a com­pany that is not all trans­pa­rent about it moti­ves, or its poten­tial con­nec­tions to the intel­li­gence com­mu­nity in its home coun­try.
I think that stra­te­gic invest­ments would also do won­ders to sti­mu­late activity in the soft­ware mar­ket. Working towards the goal of ero­ding Microsoft’s domi­nance would be a good thing in my book. Con­side­ring that there have been many pus­hes towards fos­te­ring some­thing like a euro­pean (or ger­man, or bri­tish or …) Sili­con Val­ley, this could just be the way to get the euro­pean soft­ware indus­try to focus on pro­vi­ding com­pe­ti­tive offe­rings for basic func­tio­na­lity like office and desk­top ope­ra­ting systems.

Nokia/Microsoft vs. …

I get the very dis­tinct impres­sion that Micro­No­kia are not set­ting them­sel­ves up to com­pete against Apple, but much rather pri­ma­rily against Google’s Android. Lar­gely, this is because again we’re see­ing a split bet­ween hard­ware and soft­ware com­pa­nies. In split­ting apart those kinds of deve­lop­ment, they are at a disad­van­tage to bring about the same qua­lity of user expe­ri­ence as Apple shows the world as attainable. That’s also why the Play­Book and the new HP Touch­Pad are, to me, more likely to work well – because they are enab­ling them­sel­ves to just focus on what the ent­ire package deli­vers to the user and do not have to com­pro­mise for their tech­no­logy part­ner that they have deci­ded their fate to be lin­ked with.

And, whilst we are at it, I’m idly curious as to whe­ther the fol­ding of the talks bet­ween Google and Nokia was in any way rele­vant to Eric Schmidt giving up the CEO role at Google. Of course, one can envi­sion that the talks bet­ween Google and Nokia were much more one-sided: Google can nego­tiate from a posi­tion of strength in the smart­phone mar­ket; they see no neces­sity to bring on board a ven­dor who has good device know­ledge. After being publi­cly ridi­cu­led for the Kin and never really being suc­cess­ful in the smart­phone mar­ket, was pro­bably more ega­li­ta­rian in the rela­ti­onship. Much as I can under­stand that posi­tion, it also shows the fate the two com­pa­nies do share in the smart­phone arena and it holds little pro­mise to how they might move for­ward toge­ther. That Elop was a Micro­sof­tie and knows the cul­ture of the com­pany well is also some­thing not to be for­got­ten. And I think that after the lack of suc­cess in deli­ve­r­ing a Linux deli­ver­a­ble even though they had been at it for a while (any­body remem­ber the Nokia N700?) might also have been a fac­tor. If you can’t trust your inhouse Linux people to get some­thing relia­ble out the door, why should they be able to do based on some­body else’s Linux-based smart­phone stack?

What I am curious about, now, will be the third-party deve­l­oper stra­tegy – and that’s the very point where the inte­rests of the two tech­no­logy part­ners are not well-aligned. Nokia will want the deve­l­o­pers to have their pro­ducts run exclu­si­vely on Nokia devices, and will pro­bably work hard to have a com­pe­ti­tive advan­tage over other WP7 pro­ducts in User Inter­face and pro­bably other APIs. (They need to – they’ve alre­ady sold out Search, Maps and other key com­ponents to be the same as with the other WP7 ven­dors.) Micro­soft, on the other hand, should have in mind to not let the plat­form frag­ment too much, or else they will also draw bad blood from their deve­lop­ment base. The people who have stuff in the Ovi store these days are burnt any­way, because they need to com­ple­tely write off those invest­ments and, in the worst case, get their eyes set on an ent­i­rely new eco­sys­tem. (Of course, Nokia could be pro­vi­ding tran­si­tio­ning tools, or a HAL that allows for Sym­bian apps to run on WP7, but I’m not sure that the pho­nes will be up to that kind of tasks.) And as Sun lear­ned in the tran­si­tion from SunOS 4 to Sola­ris: Deve­l­o­pers having their apps bro­ken do not respond kindly.

So these will be inte­res­ting times ahead indeed. But I’m scep­tic that the new Nokia Win­dows pho­nes will really get that kind of mar­ket trac­tion that other plat­forms enjoy.

Why IMAP is a good model for cloud services

I do admit it: I like the IMAP pro­to­col. I regu­larly use mul­ti­ple com­pu­ters and my iPhone, and I read and write email on all of them. IMAP makes that con­ve­ni­ent: I have the same view of my fol­ders and my inbox on every com­pu­ter. We also use a Web­mail cli­ent that uses IMAP as its under­ly­ing tech­no­logy, so even via web­mail, ever­y­thing looks the same. And apart from the fact that I quite enjoy the way that I can look for all stuff that was sent my way, I much more like the fact that I have just one fol­der of email that I sent out. It doesn’t mat­ter where I am when I send some­thing off: it all ends up in my sent box on our mail server.

IMAP is a well-specified pro­to­col. One can argue whe­ther it’s a well-desgined pro­to­col, or whe­ther parts of it are a total night­mare to under­stand and imple­ment. But is is that, well-documented. Given enough pro­gramming talent, you can sit down and write eit­her a cli­ent or a ser­ver for it. (And given the track record of various IMAP cli­ents in the wild, it does take a cer­tain kind of dedi­ca­tion and a good load of skill to really get it right.) But it’s not a tech­no­logy that lets you guess what a cer­tain field on all requests might mean or why the ans­wers look so dif­fe­rent on every second fri­day of a month star­ting with J.

The fact that it’s docu­men­ted means mul­ti­ple imple­men­ta­ti­ons exist. That means if you want, you can set up an IMAP ser­ver and just use that; or pay some­body to do just that. Per­so­nally, I’m not so fond of the idea of giving all of my email away to some­body who I don’t really know all so well, so my IMAP store is on a ser­ver that we run our­sel­ves. But if your pre­fe­ren­ces are dif­fe­rent, there are ple­nty of ser­vices that allow you to use their IMAP ser­ver, and be happy with that.

This is where I believe cloud ser­vices should be hea­ding. Like so many, I’m a fan of Ever­note (I’ve writ­ten about that). I’m impres­sed by what Google Docu­ments can do inside the brow­ser. But for eit­her com­pany: do I know who else has access to my data? What laws are even app­lica­ble for stuff that I put up? I’m sure that both Google and Ever­note are sub­ject to US sub­po­e­nas, but what about ger­man legal demands to hand over data? Or, say, those ori­gi­na­ting in India? What hap­pens to all the data should Ever­note or Google fold? I’d love Ever­note even more if there were a way to run a ser­ver of my own – because then I know for sure who has access to my data. Or the pro­to­col they use were well-specified so that others could also con­tri­bute to a public ser­ver my Ever­note cli­ent con­nects to.

Ah, if it only were so easy as with IMAP.


Aus­ge­hend von einer Twitter-Konversation, an der auch ich mich betei­ligt habe, ist bei Maxxo­lu­tion ein Blog-Artikel ent­stan­den: die Kaffee-Frage, Mei­nung erwünscht. Auch AIX­hi­bit betei­ligt sich auf deren Blog: Kaf­fee Frage. Aus­ge­gan­gen war die Dis­kus­sion ja davon, dass ich kein gros­ser Freund von Nes­presso bin; nicht zuletzt, weil das Kaf­fee­pul­ver pro Tasse in einem der ener­gie­in­ten­sivs­ten Ver­pa­ckungs­ma­te­ria­lien über­haupt gelie­fert wird – und zwar egal, ob die Home oder Professional-Serie.

Auch die Ver­pa­ckung von Pads ist ja, wenn man es genau betrach­tet, nicht so das Gelbe vom Ei, wenn es um die öko­lo­gi­sche Ver­ant­wor­tung geht: Papier­er­zeu­gung ist jetzt auch nicht gerade resour­cen­scho­nend. Das gilt für Fil­ter­pa­pier genauso wie für Schreib­pa­pier. (Warum muss das Papier für Pads eigent­lich Hoch­weiss sein? Warum tut es nicht ein Öko-Braun, das weni­ger Blei­chen bedeutet.)

Bei uns in der Firma gibt es den klas­si­schen Voll­au­to­ma­ten: Boh­nen in einem Con­tai­ner, es wird tas­sen­weise gemah­len und dann weg­ge­wor­fen. Das Pul­ver kann pro­blem­los in die braune Tonne. Man kann dann den Kun­den zwar nicht aus einer Viel­falt von unter­schied­li­chen Sor­ten wäh­len las­sen, aber genau genom­men fragt da ja auch kei­ner danach.

Tee machen wir tas­sen­weise mit Beu­teln. Und andere Getränke (wie z.B. Spru­del) gibt es bei uns aus grös­se­ren Fla­schen. Alleine schon, weil ich nicht die klei­nen Fläsch­chen trans­por­tie­ren möchte. Aber oft ist es bei unse­ren Besu­chern so, dass die ent­we­der Kaf­fee oder Was­ser trin­ken – andere Sachen sind nur sel­ten rele­vant, auch wenn wir sie anbieten.