Ben Sturmfels

Ballarat, Australia

Free software activist who loves riding bikes and flying kites. Lead developer at

  • 2019-03-25T22:57:25Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    OMG, I didn't realise that Emacs has state of the art encryption built into message-mode. Just type your email and hit C-c c-r

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  • 2019-02-21T23:29:21Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Spent a fun morning playing with robots with the Caledonian Primary School grade 1-2s

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  • 2019-01-25T00:52:39Z via Pumpa To: Public, joeyh CC: Followers

    @joeyh is this like what you do?

  • 2019-01-21T06:45:50Z via Pumpa To: Public, Karl Fogel CC: Followers

    @Karl Fogel: What words would you use for the opposite of "free of charge" when specifically talking about price and not about software freedom? Eg. I installed the "pay to download" plugin for WordPress.

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    Hey, Ben.  Are you talking about situations where the bits are freely licensed but a particular distributor is charging you a fee to copy from them as a source?  If so, I try to do what you do above: attach the fee to the verb (the act of copying) not to the thing being copied -- as long as the fee really is imposed only by that source, and is not part of the licensing terms for the bits themselves (because in the latter case, obviously it is not free software and so there is by definition a software freedom non-freeness going on too).  So, assuming the former: "convenience fee for copying", or "trusted-source copying charge", or something like that -- the best phrase will depend on the context in which it's being used.  I think there can't easily be one set phrase that works in all circumstances, precisely because the fee is specific to the verb -- to the particulars of *this* copying situation as opposed to some other way of obtaining the bits -- and not specific to the bits themselves, which would be more or less the same whatever source they're obtained from.

    Er, is that useful?

    Karl Fogel at 2019-01-21T22:44:53Z

    Thanks Karl, that is useful. Yes, the situation is freely licensed software, but there's a fee to copy. May also include access to a private updates channel and support eg. WooCommerce for WordPress.

    Ben Sturmfels at 2019-01-22T21:13:09Z

  • 2019-01-21T06:38:12Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I'd totally misjudged WooCommerce, the e-commerce module for Wordpress, assuming that it was proprietary. Turns out that the free of charge base shop and all the pay to download plugins are GPL v3 licensed free software. I'm seriously impressed.

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  • What are your favourite piano songs?

    2019-01-10T23:27:36Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I'm starting up piano lessons again as an adult and really enjoying it! I'm looking for ideas for some new favourite songs, so if you played/play, what songs do you always go back to? My top 3 are probably Wedgewood Blues, Chariots of Fire and Brick by Ben Folds Five.

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    Show all 6 replies
    I haven't played this, but I've sung it! (with the Washington Metropolitan Gamer Symphony Orchestra):

    Sarah Elkins at 2019-01-13T02:47:49Z

    Hmm, it doesn't show a preview.  It's not a rickroll; it's a piano rendition of the Dummy! song from Undertales, a little ragtime fun, showing the keys to hit as it plays.

    Sarah Elkins at 2019-01-13T02:49:16Z

    I'll have to give it a go, thanks!

    Ben Sturmfels at 2019-01-13T13:08:13Z

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    Yes, that's it.  A *lot* of fun to sing, looks fun to play (I had one year of piano lessons in my teens).  Enjoy!

    Sarah Elkins at 2019-01-13T16:28:53Z

  • 2018-11-05T00:53:34Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Why doesn't #Python use significant whitespace in it's data structure literals?

  • ClojureScript loves

    2018-10-26T01:10:35Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I've spent the last three weeks or so on my first work related project in ClojureScript (ie. JavaScript in Lisp). Overall I'm very enthusiastic about the platform, but it's been gruelling to get all the tooling working, learn the new idioms and to wrap my mind around But let's start with the good. I love hyphens in variable names (eg. purchase-order). ❌ likes this.

  • Whoa, YouTube is giving me gold today

    2018-09-26T03:55:11Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Just got this hilarious YouTube advertisement written by the Museum of Modern Art in Tasmania (Australia) for a local fish and chip shop. At least I hope it's still a little bit funny if you're not Australian. I've also eaten there and concur the the food is flipping excellent.

  • Pop factories

    2018-09-26T03:27:11Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Whoa, apparently the majority of modern pop music is written by just two men: Max Martin and Lucasz Gottwald. I had no idea. (about 8 mins in, but the whole video is amazing). I've tried to convey the "intentional stripping of diversity and flavour" in relation to YouTube when writing talks on MediaGoblin, but I'd never done any investigation to back it up like this person has.

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    I listened to Clipping's Splendor and Misery about 4 times over the last 4 weeks, partly because it's not like so much of the stuff out there.

    Sarah Elkins at 2018-09-27T01:18:49Z

    I really liked that, thanks @Sarah Elkins. Great off-beat rhythm.

    Ben Sturmfels at 2018-09-27T09:39:38Z

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  • GovHack 2018: Right to the Night

    2018-09-11T06:46:27Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Spent the weekend at GovHack, an event to make things with government data. Neroli, Tamara and I focused on the Right to the Night public safety survey run here my home town of Ballarat. Here's our project:

    I enjoyed getting to know new folks and learnt a lot about QGIS. Thanks to the volunteers for a great event.

    Sarah Elkins likes this.

  • 2018-07-28T00:19:43Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Baking bread and updating my GNU Guix/SD operating system ❌ likes this.

  • 2018-07-20T11:05:31Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Haven't posted to for a bit, but still enjoying checking in every day or so to see what's happening!

    Sarah Elkins, Stephen Michael Kellat, McClane, Stephen Sekula and 1 others likes this.

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  • tmate - Instant terminal sharing

    2018-06-15T06:49:50Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    tmate just showed up in Guix. Looks like a really convenient way to do pair programming. It was always possible with tmux, but certainly not trivial to set up.

    My only concern is that you're basically giving the owner of the tmate server access to your computer. So this could be an ideal use of Guix's built in ability to run a program within a container. Something like:

    $ guix environment --container --ad-hoc tmate -- tmate
    [env]# tmate
    tmate: need UTF-8 locale (LC_CTYPE) but have ANSI_X3.4-1968

    This would in theory run tmate with only the current working directory available, but there's a locale issue I haven't been able to solve yet.

    And it all comes full circle. The Incompatible Timesharing System had this 50 years ago...

    Jason Self at 2018-06-15T13:35:08Z

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  • 2018-06-15T05:47:20Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Sigh. Just spent two hours troubleshooting a uwsgi configuration to discover that "-v" doesn't mean "verbose" like everywhere else in the world, it means something else obscure that breaks the server.

  • helm-find-files

    2018-06-01T05:56:29Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I'm trying to love helm-find-files for #Emacs but I don't think I want to give up my <TAB> muscle memory since it's used in the terminal too. How are others dealing with this?

  • 2018-05-25T02:02:43Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Upgrading my desktop to Trisquel 8.0 today! Exciting!

    Now that you've had Triquel for a while, how do you like it? Are you able to do as much in general as with other systems?

    hammerron at 2018-07-15T19:38:15Z

    @hammerron I've spent something like the last 8 years using Trisquel for all of my personal and work computing. I've been a paying subscriber for much of that time. Trisquel has been my rock - combining a strong emphasis on free software with a well maintained distribution. Since it's based on Ubuntu LTS minus the non-free bits, it's extremely stable the security updates are very prompt.

    Prior to that I ran Debian Testing, so I did initially miss the continuous flow of new software coming in. In the last couple of years though I've started running GNU GuixSD on a second machine which gives me much newer software, but breaks from time to time.

    In recent years Trisquel has struggled to get enough people power to make timely releases, but the recent release of Trisquel 8 is a great achievement.

    I should probably write up something longer about all this.

    Ben Sturmfels at 2018-07-23T00:52:08Z

  • Yikes, EFF warning of PGP vulnerability - action required

    2018-05-14T06:38:17Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Just repeating this warning from EFF. They're suggesting temporarily disabling auto-decryption of PGP-encrypted mail pending the full vulnerability announcement.

    "A group of European security researchers have released a warning about a set of vulnerabilities affecting users of PGP and S/MIME. EFF has been in communication with the research team, and can confirm that these vulnerabilities pose an immediate risk to those using these tools for email communication, including the potential exposure of the contents of past messages."

    unsigned_nerd, unsigned_nerd shared this.

    Show all 159 replies
    I'm still not sure what to do with the way this vulnerability was presented/hyped.

    Tobias Diekershoff at 2018-05-16T05:59:42Z

    I was never keen on email clients executing javascript that turns up in email by default

    that always looked dangerous

    Michael at 2018-05-16T16:14:31Z

    This press release from gpg has relevant informations

    (sorry if it has already been posted and was lost in the client-glitch repeated comments)

    Elena ``of Valhalla'' at 2018-05-18T15:01:22Z

    Thanks Elena, I hadn't had a chance to look into the the reality of issue. This is a helpful article.

    Ben Sturmfels at 2018-05-19T02:20:58Z

  • Translation strings in Handlebars templates are killing me

    2018-04-18T09:03:22Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    {{#if place.type_tarts_with_vowel }}{{#_}}an{{\_}}{{else}}{{#_}}a{{/_}}{{/if }}

    Give me regular expressions any day over these horrors. My eyes hurt.

    McClane likes this.

    No wonder your eyes hurt xDD

    JanKusanagi at 2018-04-18T12:01:14Z

  • Mapping danger spots for women

    2018-04-18T01:15:24Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    We just launched the Free to Be project in Sydney, Delhi, Lima, Madrid and Kampala, collecting data on how safe young women feel in their city, in conjuction with Plan International and CrowdSpot

    jsae, nukem, Sarah Elkins, McClane and 2 others likes this.

    nukem, nukem, McClane, EVAnaRkISTO and 4 others shared this.

    Sounds like an awesome project.


    JanKusanagi at 2018-04-18T01:32:51Z