May 21, 2012

The Red Poppies on Monte Cassino

A while ago I 've written a Wikipedia article about one of the most popular Polish World War II-era songs. Working with another Wikipedian (Nihil Novi), we translated the lyrics into English in 2008.

Polish lyrics are by Alfred Schütz (d. 1999). They may still be copyrighted (although they are available on numerous webpages, books, YouTube vidoes, and so on). The translation below is available in few places, and won't be available on Wikipedia due to possible copyright issues. As I felt bad about this work disappearing from our cultural repository, I am sharing it here. It may go down if I ever get a cease-and-desist letter from the Schütz estate... but let's hope it won't happen

(As with most copyrighted works, it is next to impossible to figure out who owns the copyright, and if there is such a thing as"Schütz estate" at all... sigh).

Czerwone maki na Monte Cassino
The Red Poppies on Monte Cassino
In Polish In English
Czy widzisz te gruzy na szczycie? Do you see the rubble at the top?
Tam wróg twój się kryje jak szczur! There, like a rat, lurks your foe!
Musicie, musicie, musicie! You musn't stop, you musn't stop
Za kark wziąć i strącić go z chmur! But from the clouds the enemy throw!
I poszli szaleni, zażarci, And so, onward and upward they went;
I poszli zabijać i mścić, They went to avenge and to kill,
I poszli jak zawsze uparci, On the enemy's destruction, bent;
Jak zawsze za honor się bić. To their honor they harnessed their will.

Czerwone maki na Monte Cassino The red poppies on Monte Cassino
Zamiast rosy piły polską krew... Drank Polish blood instead of dew...
Po tych makach szedł żołnierz i ginął, O'er the poppies the soldiers did go
Lecz od śmierci silniejszy był gniew! 'Mid death, and to their anger stayed true!
Przejdą lata i wieki przeminą, Years will come and ages will go,
Pozostaną ślady dawnych dni!.. Enshrining their strivings and their toil!...
I tylko maki na Monte Cassino And the poppies on Monte Cassino
Czerwieńsze będą, bo z polskiej wzrosną krwi. Will be redder for Poles' blood in their soil.

Runęli przez ogień, straceńcy! The forlorn hope charged through the fire!
Niejeden z nich dostał i padł... More than one was struck and felled...
Jak ci z Samosierry szaleńcy, Yet like the horsemen at Samosierra,
Jak ci spod Rokitny, sprzed lat. They charged with a force unrepelled,
Runęli impetem szalonym Like those at Rokitna years ago.
I doszli. I udał się szturm. And they made it, and carried the day.
I sztandar swój biało-czerwony And they planted their red-and-white flag
Zatknęli na gruzach wśród chmur. In the rubble amid the clouds.

Czerwone maki na Monte Cassino... The red poppies on Monte Cassino...

Czy widzisz ten rząd białych krzyży? Do you see the white crosses in a row?
To Polak z honorem brał ślub. That's where the Poles pledged their all.
Idź naprzód - im dalej, im wyżej, The farther, the higher you go,
Tym więcej ich znajdziesz u stóp. The more you'll find them fall.
Ta ziemia do Polski należy, This soil belongs to Poland,
Choć Polska daleko jest stąd, Though Poland be far from here,
Bo wolność krzyżami się mierzy - For 'tis crosses measure freedom's span —
Historia ten jeden ma błąd. That is history's lesson dear.

Czerwone maki na Monte Cassino... The red poppies on Monte Cassino...

Ćwierc wieku, koledzy, za nami, A quarter-century has passed,
Bitewny ulotnił się pył The dusts of battle no longer rise,
I klasztor białymi murami And the monastery's walls at last
Na nowo do nieba się wzbił... Once again climb, white, to the skies...
Lecz pamięć tych nocy upiornych But memory of those nights terrible
I krwi, co przelała się tu - And of the blood that once flowed here —
Odzywa się w dzwonach klasztornych, Echoes in the monastery bells
Grających poległym do snu...! That toll the fallen to sleep!...

Jan 18, 2012

Titles, good intentions, (unintentional?) censorship, sci-fi, ]oh my.

I initially attempted to post this as a comment to a blog. After two days and numerous attempts, I am giving up. Either the blog owner(s) are censoring my comment, or there is some weird technical snafu.

Response to  World SF 2011 Retrospective Part 1

I appreciate Kaz's and this blog's attempt to cover Polish market, but if you are going to do something, please, do it properly, or don't mislead the reader with a title that suggests a comprehensive overview ("a recap on Poland", "Overview of recent Polish science-fiction"). State your intentions or biases clearly up front in the blog ("this blog entry will cover some recent releases on the Polish market, with the focus on female writers, and with a disclaimer that the author does not read Polish and relies on secondary sources"). Otherwise, one's good intentions may backfire, as shown by the blog comments, where numerous readers comment in similar vain as I. In fact, I came to that blog through a Polish premier sci-fi and fantasy magazine (Nowa Fantastyka), which commented on Facebook about that blogpost, curtly (and roughly translated) as: "a person who knows little of Polish sci-fi and fantasy is writing weird things about it".

As several others have said, if you want to have a good overview of a specific non-English market, get somebody who reads that language. And if you cannot, then pretty please, don't mislead the readers with claims that you'll do something (comprehensive overview) when this is not your intention (and/or ability, due to lack of literacy in a given language).

Overall, I think that it is a great that somebody is trying to provide the English-speakers with some information on the rich happenings in the rest of the world. I hope that the The World SF Blog keeps trying. It is human to err, after all - but those that don't try, at least, will never succeed.

On a sidenote, any overview o Polish 2011 should wait for the results of various 2011 award ceremonies, most notably, the Zajdel Award. Readers interested in the overview of Polish sci-fi and fantasy up to about 2005 may also want to check the Wikipedia article on the subject. This article could use an update for the last few years (hint!).

Jan 30, 2011

Make a backup and restore from it on N900 (Maemo)

Note: this is an instruction for N900 (Maemo) users who are not very familiar with Linux. If you live and breathe Linux, go to Maemo wiki page on Manual backup and restore instead.

Recently, my N900 developed a severe case of USB port failure, which required me to send it in for repairs (luckily, it was still covered by the 1-year producer warranty). Annoyingly enough, Nokia as part of its privacy-protection policy will erase all your data (presumably reformatting/reflashing your phone, or whatever is the correct term for what they do to smartphones there...). And no, you cannot opt out of this :( Kind of makes me curious - what guarantee do I have that Nokia techs will not snoop around my phone all they want anyway before they clean the data? But I digress.

Unfortunately, there is no good guide to making backups (or restoring from them). The manual  has a brief and decent information on creating or restoring from a backup (p.102-103, see also p.111); it however assumes your backup will be on phone's drive or a microSD card, which is not always the case, and forgets some crucial details (such as the importance of the file structure - more on that later). Maemo wiki pages (Manual backup and restore and what I presume is the page about the backup app) are, as usual, written in the higher geek, which may be fine if you know your way around Linux. For non-Linux users like myself, they are (as almost everything on Maemo wiki), pretty useless :( I found only one page online with a partial guide and some screenshots... hence, I decided to write this one.

It took me a while, but I was able to master the N900/Maemo backup/restore, and I even figured out how to do so with a faulty usb cable, no microSD, no wireless or Internet connection. Even in the perfect situation, with no hardware failures, backup/restore is not very userfriendly - I certainly wouldn't expect my parents to be able to do it.

So, to save you all some time, here's my guide to back and restore with N900.

1. How to access the default back-up application (in high geek the app seems to be called osso-backup, not that I can find that name in the application GUI...):

1.1 Access menu (top left, the symbol below - but if you don't recognize it, really, how long did you have the phone?):
1.2.Scroll down to the backup application, open it.

Here are the three applications useful for backup operations.

2. How to make a backup (using the default app mentioned above).

2.1 Click on New backup button in the bottom left, the procedure is fairly simple. On the first screen, you name your backup and select whether the backup's location is your phone's harddrive or a microSD card (if you have one in your phone); on the second you can (de)select stuff to backup (but why would you...?) and once you click select button, the backup will proceed. It should take about a minute or so.

The backups will be saved in the "backups" folder in the whatever passes as the top-level (root) directory (for Maemo's default File Manager and my Windows Total Commander when it accesses Maemo; note that there is some weird Linux hidden structure that you can access with other apps, like Mindnight Commander; I find it confusing as heck...). Whatever you chose as the name of your backup will be the name of the relevant subfolder in the "backups" folder (so, if you named your backup "backup december", you'll find the "backup december" subfolder in the "backups" folder). Simple, right?

 This is the backup app main menu. Pretty self-explanatory, no options are hidden at the top or are "right-clickable" anywhere, as far as I can tell.
Note that based on the screen above, you'd expect to find a "backups" folder in the root directory, and within it, two folders: "Backup test" and "Backup december."

2.1.1 As the backup app itself notes, it will back up Communications and Calendar, Bookmarks, Settings, Application list. What it means is that it will not backup anything else, such as: Application settings, your documents, photos, music files, and such. If you want to back them up, you'll have to manually copy them to wherever you keep your back-ups (and I strongly suggest you keep them somewhere outside your phone, like on your computer harddrive). Now if your USB cable is working, you can transfer the backup folder to your computer. I suggest you transfer the entire "backups" folder, because you'll need it for restoring (it is not created by default after a fresh install...). How to copy that stuff? Assuming you have a working USB cable, I use Total Commander on Windows. Your platform and soft may vary (although for Windows, I do believe TC is "the best" file management tool there is...), but you should be able to access N900 and copy files over just like you'd do with any removable drive

2.2 Note that if your N900 is connected to something (your comp, presumably) by a USB, and that device can access files on your smartphone, the backup application will not work, it will complain about "USB cable connected." If you are just charging, it should still be ok, but if you connected in the mass storage or pc suite mode, it won't.

2.3 If you have a microSD card, after you click the new backup option, the backup app on the screen where you name your backup will have a choice of where you want to save your backup (location: your_device or external_memory_card). You can also copy the "backups" folder between those locations manually. If the proper file structure was preserved - as in "backups/your backup name" is in the card's root directory), the backup app will see them.

Frankly, unless you find  yourself in the unlikely situation with broken USB port, no Internet/wireless and an urgent need to make the backup before your device fails completely, skip the 2.4 and go to 3 (restore) section.

2.4 If you want to use Bluetooth, don't - unless it is your last resort. It is much more painful than using the device drive/copy over the USB method (preferred) or the microSD; I had to do so because I found myself with a device with a broken USB port, no microSD (I should've just bought one...), no wireless or Internet connection. If so do you:

2.4.1 Make the backup on device harddrive as instructed above.

2.4.2 Establish a Bluetooth connection between N900 and the device (your comp) you want to transfer files over. This is the part I find very annoying, I was following the manual / guides on both devices, yet it took ages before they saw one another. I have no desire to waste hours of my life trying to replicate it, plus even if I did, it would only cover Windows XP on one end. If you know any good guides to N900 Bluetooth, post them in the comments.

2.4.3 Once you have a Bluetooth connection between your platforms, use the phone's File Manager to transfer files. Annoyingly, it cannot transfer folders, fortunately, you'll only have to transfer six files. Start the File Manager, click on your N900 (or the microSD if this is where you saved the backup), go to "backups" folder, go to your folder, click on each file, chose share, chose Bluetooth. On your target device, don't forget to copy the files to the "backups/name of the backup" structure properly. Note that File Manager, just like the backup app, will not work if another device can access the smartphone's file structure (which shouldn't be the case if you have restored to using Bluetooth, but keep that in mind for some weird occasions).

To use File Manager Bluetooth transfer, "right click" on the file, chose Share, and this menu will appear. Alternatively, you may be able to use some better file manager on your computer to access N900. I think I was able to use something on XP, but I am not sure (it was a month or so ago). If you cannot, use the File Manager option I discuss above.

2.5 Come to think of it, you could probably use an email to send the files, or share them through a website, FTP or in some other ways. As when I was doing my backup I had no Internet connection or even wireless, those where not an option for me.

3. How to restore (using the default app).

3.1 Select backup to restore (highlight it), click restore. Keep in mind that the backup has to be in the proper file structure ("backups/your backup name") for the backup up to see it. The backup app can find them on N900 harddrive or the microSD. Note that a fresh install will not have a "backups" folder, so if you just copied the "your backup name" folder, you'll have to recreate the "backups" folder in the phone's root directory (or on the microSD card). This caused me some grief as I did not realize the importance of the "backups" folder early on, and I spend a while researching things on the net trying to figure out what to do with those files, before I realized (myself, no help to the net) that I need to recreate the backup folder structure in the phone's root directory... on the bright side, this folder is just a name, nothing special (but keep in mind it is a lowercase "backups", not "Backups").

This will NOT restore your applications, to do so you need to go to Application Manager, and from the top menu, chose Restore applications. This will give you a list of the applications you can restore, based on your backup file, all checked by default. Uncheck those you don't want, proceed to the installation (make sure your device is plugged in, this will drain the battery quickly). This may take a while, check the device periodically to click through some license/warning screens. I ended up redownloading and installing 300mb content in an hour period.

 To restore applications, go to Application Manager, click the Application manager pull down menu at the top, and you'll see the following three options. Chose Restore applications, obviously.

Of course, this will not restore stuff not backed up (documents, music files, etc.). Copy those over manually (if you have backed them up manually before).

If you have some problems, try to ensure you have no more than one backup to restore from (I am not sure how the app handles multiple backups). And it seems to give me grief when I try to restore applications for the second time ("operation failed" trying to generate an app list), so make sure you select what you want properly the first time (or you may have to install them manually one by one later).

I hear there are other backup applications out there. Links to any how-to-use guides and reviews there will be certainly appreciated.

Oh, and for a while now I've been thinking that I should post a review of N900... we will see :)

Nov 6, 2010

Preeliminary survey results of ICT use by social movements worldwide - snippet

So I am in the depths of analysis, but here's a short set of interesting numbers I just compiled. I was looking at member age ranges by sampling frame, here's the percentage of organizations with young membership (18-30 as percentage of total number of organizations in that frame...

ALL    21.84%
GLOBAL   16.34%
POLAND-BASED    26.43%
INNOVATIVE*   37.04%

*INNOVATIVE - my snowballing sampling scheme, based on surveying the movements/organizations whose webpages revealed significant Web 2.0 knowledge.

It appears that innovative organizations have the youngest membership; followed by Polish in the middle, and at the other end, we have the global/Pittsburgh organizations.

Now, here are the same stats for the oldest membership (over 50):

ALL    11.21%
PITT    10.71%
GLOB    16.99%
PL    5.71%
IN    7.41%

Global organizations have the older membership, but Polish ones are again an interesting outlier, having an even smaller number of old-membership organizations than the Innovative group. I wonder if this is because older generation in Poland has no tradition of activism?

So, as expected, we can talk about young members using new tools more often, but the Polish data does make for another interesting and unexpected story

I am now compiling the data, expect more in the coming months. I hope to be able to give you full analysis coming Spring.

Jul 29, 2010

Briding of global digital divide

I was looking at some archival stats on Internet usage.

Compare the Top 10 Internet languages in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and the latest (Dec 2009 for me, your mileage may vary as that link is dynamic).

Look at the 2004 numbers: it is very much the core, developed, First world, China aside.

Still, its pitiful penetration numbers aside... what was (is?) wrong with France, Spain and Portugal? Their penetration numbers are China-like (~10%), whereas the rest of Europea was around 50%.

Now, look at 2010. In addition to China, whose penetration number have improved greatly (from 2004's 8% to 29.7%), note the inclusion of Arabic (17.5%) and Russian (32.3%). 

Oh, don't get confused with langauges and countries. I was for a moment shocked with low penetration numbers for French, Spanish and Portugal, but remember - those languages are spoken in many periphery, developing, Third World countries in Africa and Latin & South America- thus the pitiful results (here are EU stats, and here is a breakdown for Spanish language, for example).

One of the most interesting numbers, for me, is the diminishing percentage of English-speakers as the % of Internet users - from 35.9% in 2004 to 30.1% in 2009.

And how about tripling of Internet users totals in non-Top 10 languages (from 100m to 300m), or nearly doubling of Internet users totals (from 800m to 1,400m) in that period?

Around 2006 the stat site started to report "Internet Growth for Language (since 2000)". For 2006, it was 128% for English, 346% for Chinese, 436% for non-Top 10 languages, and 189% for all languages. In 2007, Arabic enters the chart, with 940% growth (!). For 2009 we have 251.7% for English, 1162% for Chines, 2297% for Arabic, 525% for non-Top-10 languages and 400% for the world.

Global digital divide still exists, no doubt about that.  But it is being bridged, as the rest of the world is catching up. 'bout time...

PS. Here's an interesting take on this from The Economist.

May 11, 2010

Abdication of Jimbo

Well, maybe not a total abdication, but Jimbo has relinquished a substantial portions of his powers. See his announcement and the context.

In an upcoming academic article I discuss why calling Wikipedia a monarchy/dictatorship, while not too off the mark in its very early stages, is no longer true. It's nice not to be contradicted by the current events :)

Apr 22, 2010

Preeliminary survey results of ICT use by social movements worldwide

The first results of my global survey are here. So, what are the numbers? See them on Google Docs.

Those are very early results, and I am hoping to increase the response rate significantly (as in: from ~5% to at least 15-30%). A more international response would be nice, too, although it is inevitable that a Western/English bias will appear (English hegemony of the Internet, etc.).

The results linked above combine results from my local and current global survey, for a net total of 62 responses. For results from the first, local survey (Pittsburgh, PA, USA) only, see here.

Once I get enough responses from the global survey, I will post another update here.

The survey is still ongoing (and likely will be for a few more months). If you would like to take it, and did not receive an @ from me with the invitation to it, you can use this generic link to access the survey.

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