African but only in name

There is a new (for me) CMS system called Joomla. Joomla is a phonetic spelling for a Swahili word.

I thought, how cool, at last a world class Free Software project by Swahili speaking Africans.

However, I checked the biographies of the project participants. Turns out that all of them come from developed countries. Africa’s contribution is limited, in this case, to a relatively unfamiliar language, which provides cool names for projects.

Bluetooth Blues

Does anyone know what happened to Philips Semiconductors, which used to operate in Herzliya, Israel, and which represented the international Philips Semiconductors in Israel?

I looked for information on Philips’ Bluetooth chips and development kits. Philips’ Web site directed me to the aforementioned company, listing phone and FAX numbers for them (no E-mail). The FAX number did not work. Today the relay service (operated by Cellcom as a public service project for the deaf in Israel) informed me that the phone number connects you to a recorded reply saying that the number was disconnected.

Philips’ Web site provides a Web form for E-mailing them messages and requests for information, and I used it. The automated response arrived quickly, but it was only an acknowledgement. For human response I am still waiting.

It is amazing that an international company’s rep goes out of business and the company in question did not modify promptly its Web site.

Municipal E-mail addresses – bonanza for spammers?

According to today’s Ma’ariv, the municipality of Tel Aviv plans to give all residents of Tel Aviv an E-mail address, in the domain
The E-mailbox will be used for sending various messages to the residents.

It is claimed that a similar service already operates successfully in Berlin.

I hope that residents can elect to receive legal notices (like municipal tax payment notices) via a different E-mail address, instead of the one issued to them. Otherwise, spammers will have helluva of feast spamming those E-mail addresses, which the residents MUST follow lest they be stuck with scandalous late payment penalties.

Hafuch al hafuch (literal translation from Hebrew: reverse on reverse) (ATMs in peril from computer worms)

Instead of using MS-Windows XP and adding anti-worm, anti-virus and anti-anti-anti-missile missiles, why don’t the banks insist that the ATM vendors use a secure OS? Or at least hold them contractually liable to any damage due to insecurity holes of the OS being used?

PyGTK Hell

I am prototyping a keyword search based application.

For easy programming, I use Python.
For easy GUI design, I chose glade.
So I have to use PyGTK.
The application is not demanding in terms of innovative technology or software versions, so I use a PC with RedHat 8.0.

However, I ran into a snag:
I wanted to use the gtk.TreeRowReference binding to refer to rows of a listbox, which I want to delete.
However, it turns out that the Python bindings of GTK didn’t cover 100% of the GTK’s API. One of the missing APIs is… gtk.TreeRowReference, which was added only to PyGTK 2.4.
The PyGTK version which came with RedHat 8.0 is 1.99.12.

I worked around the problem by using paths. Since paths (unlike references) become invalid if rows are inserted/deleted into the listbox before the row referred to, I had to delete the rows in reverse order – from the end to the beginning.

I promise to myself that next time I install Linux from fresh, I’ll use Debian. Then I’ll be able to solve the problem by upgrading packages until I get PyGTK 2.4 and the appropriate versions of packages upon which it depends.

But what kind of bacteria are they?

There is a recent article in Slashdot about the bacteria in shower curtains (

It reminds me of past stories about the horrible germs in phone headsets, computer keyboards and even in the kitchen. Those stories end with the conclusion that one should pay money to companies specializing in cleaning this stuff and/or buy new goods to replace the infected(?) stuff.

I wish those stories were accompanied by the percentage of bacteria which they share with human intestines, those bacteria which are really problematic.

Yet another instance of misguided make-work economics?