Debian’s navel gazing

Debian is my favourite distribution of GNU/Linux. It’s a well respected and well known brand, although I was almost stunned while on business in London last Friday to meet someone who knew about Suse, and Red Hat but wasn’t even aware of the existence of Debian. I like Debian’s astonishing infrastructure, and its community led approach. It has been on the verge of releasing its next stable version, Lenny, for some time. I’ve been waiting for that freeze to end to have my debian packages of OPUS uploaded, since there is currently no real rush and I wanted to do more “upstream” work on them. At that point I wanted to start the long path to DD status (via maintainer).

Noodles, who is a DD, has recently commented on his frustration that Debian procrastinates at the end of every release cycle. This seems to be true, and internecine war always seems to erupt over issues that should have been solved long before (or alternatively after) the release. I’m also sympathetic to his suggestion that Debian’s voting procedures could be improved.

Reading through Planet Debian today, I am more depressed than ever. Debian’s secretary has resigned over voting issues and the vitriol unleashed by them. I’m not making any comment on that. There is already a constitutional pathway for an interim secretary, but now, the project can begin to rip new wounds in itself over the resignation, rumours of expulsion procedures and what to do next. What to do next is damn important, but so is the release.

I was in Plymouth in September with Lenny installer beta 2 CDs with Lenny images that wouldn’t even install on the new hardware in a problem frustrating similar to one I found months before (Ubuntu, derived from Debian, embarrassingly did so without problems). I dare say that issue has been fixed (I can no longer test it), but it’s a horrible reminder of how a prolonged freeze can lead to an OS that can be born obsolete in the sense that it can’t install on newer hardware.

Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah

Ok. I dislike the X-Factor. I think Ben Elton’s book Chart Throb pretty much says it all.

I managed to watch very little of it this year (harder than it sounds given the exposure you get from other people) but did manage to be totally oblivious to the outcome. I remain so, with pride. However, I did hear that the song they are torturing this year to get the Christmas Number 1 is another cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.

Well, I suspected that the facebook group was right on the matter, that it would be a soulless piece of merchandising, I just heard it, it is. Standard over produced tosh.

Well, I whole heartedly agree, Jeff Buckley’s version is not only better, it is one of the most beautiful performances of any song I have ever heard and has long been a favourite of mine. I already own two copies of it on genuine real physical media, but I’ll be downloading too. Probably futile, but I’ll feel better for having tried. If you want to join the rebellion the link above has the details.

Oh, and you kids, get off my lawn!

Crashing Cars

Consider two identical cars, each travelling at a constant velocity v towards each other. Suppose that they crash, and to simplify things, let’s not consider any rebound. Then the energy of each is kinetic in nature and so the energy of the crash is given by

\frac{1}{2}mv^2 + \frac{1}{2}mv^2 = mv^2

Ok. That’s a nice way to show the energy of the collision goes up with the square of velocity.

Now, according to the principle of relativity this should be an identical situation if you consider it from the reference frame of one of the cars. In that case, the car you are looking at has a velocity of 0, while the other car has a velocity of 2v. Now the total energy of the crash looks like

\frac{1}{2} m (2v)^2 + 0 = \frac{1}{2} m \times 4v^2 = 2mv^2

So. Why the discrepancy?