Archive for March 7th, 2007

More on Ubuntu Feisty 7.04

I played more with Ubuntu’s new version yesterday and the better part of today too. This is the first time in my 8-9 year experience with Linux that I had to do little manual work to get the system to a state that I feel comfortable using as a desktop. I had some application crashes but nothing serious, and when Automatix2 for Feisty is out it will take care the rest of my concerns. There is a lot of polish on Ubuntu, even if as I said the other day, it does not have all the helpful configuration dialogs that Yast and Fedora have. This is also the first time that I felt that I didn’t really need the -dev packages installed. There were only 2-3 applications that I needed and the repositories either did not have them available, or they featured older versions.

One peculiarity is how much RAM Ubuntu really consumes. The updated System Monitor uses a different algorithm to measure RAM usage and gives some pretty low numbers. In reality though, you need at least 256 MBs to comfortably load the default desktop of Ubuntu and 512 MBs to actually do some real work with it.

Regardless, if Bluetooth OBEX actually works well (can’t be tested via VMWare) and if suspend-to-RAM also works, I might switch to Ubuntu full time for my new laptop that comes over around March 20th.

Oh, no! Captain America is dead!

Marvel has just killed Captain America, one of the better heroes in the Marvel Universe. And I think that there is a real allegory in the action itself. You see, the Captain America comics started in 1941, at a time where USA needed a virtual hero against the Nazi Germany. It was a propaganda machine. As time went by, his “American soldier” identity got blurred with the rest of the Marvel heroes although he remained a real patriot. But his death can only be seen as an allegory too. Are the Marvel writers think that the America as their forefathers envisioned it is dead? That Captain America is dead because the ideals he stood for are dead? Dead ideals because of the route the US government took to combat terrorism ?

Captain America will be missed. He was a hero that always stood for what is morally right.

The problem with the Greek civil servants

The Greek education system went to the dogs for the past year. I am not sure that students attended enough class. The majority are in the streets protesting or they are have camped inside the schools and don’t allow any class to be made. Most of the teachers have joined the students.

Basically, they want the “free education” to continue. Let me say something here. Greece, as in some other European countries, is pretty good offering completely free or very low cost education and healthcare. Here in US most people owe an average of $11,000 to creditors simply because they needed the money to pay college. This kind of situation does not exist in Greece. Education is free if you pass the right exams and low-cost if you didn’t pass the exams and you must go to a private college.

Now, all this sounds good to the average person. Free education sounds like a dream country to live in, right? Well, not really. Education in Greece is deeply flawed and of pretty low quality (I was never happy with the all-Greek history we get in high school with only 1 year dedicated to world’s history or the “math worker” mathematics teaching philosophy compared to the “math scientist” one). The teachers are civil servants and the people who are organizing the studying material are civil servants too. And civil servants can not be fired in Greece. This means that they can do a mediocre job and still have their job security in tact.

In fact, all this boils down again to the civil servant situation in Greece. This is what it must change. Employees must be able to get fired if they don’t do a good job. There should be NO job-for-life anymore. In fact, civil servants in Greece get the better salaries compared to the private sector, something that is not true for any other country (a civil servant in a tax office is pretty much regarded as a “low skilled” worker for example in other countries, and their salary reflects that). But in Greece, if you get a job in a tax office or as a hospital worker (even as a janitor) you are GOD.

But you see, no Greek ruling party wants to remove this job-security law because this will mean their end of their reign. The political cost of removing this mindless and high-paid job security is what’s causing Greece to be so behind the times today in technology. No scientist fresh out of the university cares about CREATING something new in Greece. Physicists or mathematicians or biologists prefer to become high-school teachers instead of researchers because of the job security of being a civil servant. No one wants to take a risk and create a startup to research something (not even something that would find good business in Greece like “how to make a better feta cheese”, or “make oranges keep longer”).

The whole thing makes me wanna puke. I am so sad about all this because I love my country. And while I endorse free education (although I believe that the private sector must step in more) and I am happy of the low-cost healthcare (although not as modern, there are extremely very few MRI machines for example), that civil servant situation was always pissing me off. It has created a virtual cast of people who are paid more and usually do less and that’s literally killing Greece. Thank God for the feta cheese. At least we can still export that.