Welcome to the Machine

I can sit down in front of my washing machine and meditate while it is operating in a very very confident fashion :) Maybe I am compensating the deprivation, caused by the chaotic and non-managable equations of life, with the comfort provided by my reliable and simple machine.
Machine has always been a powerful symbol for the ones who think of life. It is beyond time. The concept of machine affected lots of influencers of different epochs: I can consider  René Descartes, Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, Roger Waters, Alan Mathison Turing and Nazım Hikmet Ran as the ones who had songs, books, ideas and poems on the machine. Descartes was saying that human body is a sort of machine that works according to the deterministic rules of the nature. Although Deleuze and Guattari were proposing the concept of rhizome and "body without organs", they were talking about the desiring machine for explaining the social system. Alan Turing devised a simple and beautiful abstract machine, which is capable of implementing any possible algorithm in the universe of mathematics, and the whole computer industry has been growing up under the shadow of Turing machines. Roger Waters of Pink Floyd was positioning individuals as passive and highly controlled units against the machine that is able to rule the entire world: The Big Brother, The System:

Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.
Where have you been?
It's alright we know where you've been.
You've been in the pipeline, filling in time,
Provided with toys and 'Scouting for Boys'.
You bought a guitar to punish your ma,
And you didn't like school, and you
know you're nobody's fool,
So welcome to the machine.

Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.
What did you dream?
It's alright we told you what to dream.
You dreamed of a big star,
He played a mean guitar,
He always ate in the Steak Bar.
He loved to drive in his Jaguar.
So welcome to the Machine.
                                                    Roger Waters, 1975

And finally, Nazım Hikmet was desiring to become a flawless machine:
     trak tiki tak!
Beynimden, etimden, iskeletimden
geliyor bu!
Her dinamoyu
     altıma almak için
Tükürüklü dilim bakır telleri yalıyor,
     damarlarımda kovalıyor
          otodirezinler lokomotifleri!
     trak tiki tak!
Mutlak buna bir çare bulacağım
     ve ben ancak bahtiyar olacağım
                    karnıma bir türbin oturtup
          kuyruğuma çift uskuru taktığım gün!
     trak tiki tak!
                                       Nâzım Hikmet RAN (Kaplan, 2005: 329)

I am living on machines. I am automating, developing, integrating machines in order to compose reliable and cost effective systems. No matter what your occupation is, your interaction with the machines may make you feel satisfied and happy or make you anxious and tired at the end of the day.
When I am dealing with the machines, such as my washing machine above, I am full of warm feelings :)
Am I odd?

We Know Each Other

We wake up at 03:00 AM
                and search for the facts.
We are curious.
We get bored easily.
We want to learn much.
We have a wide range of interests.
We cannot get satisfied easily.
We think.
We conceive.
We manage.
We handle.
We solve.
We provide.
We feel lonely most of the times.
We've got shining eyes.
We can see each other.
We sense each other.
We can talk to each other.
We know each other.
We like each other.
We are students of the life.

Others can never observe our limits,
                  we easily see how their hearts beat.
They know nothing
                   about anything
                        but the hum of their voices deafens.

They are crowded.
They feel offended.
They envy us.
They criticize us,
                 roar us.
They've got gods
             to burn all of us.

Thoughts and Action

For a long long time I've been reading rather than writing. Recharging my batteries. Restructing my mental background... Simply developing :)
I want to share a very impressive passage from Michel Foucault's last interview, conducted by Paul Rabinow in May 1984:
"...What distinguishes thought is that it is something quite different from the set of representations that underlies a certain behavior; it is also quite different from the domain of attitudes that can determine this behavior. Thought is not what inhabits a certain conduct and gives it its meaning; rather, it is what allows one to step back from this way of acting or reacting, to present it to oneself as an object of thought and to question it as to its meaning, its conditions, and its goals. Thought is freedom in relation to what one does, the motion by which one detaches from it, establishes it as an object, and reflects on it as a problem..."
The Turkish translation that is given in the book named Sıradışı Filozoflar (Philosophers Behaving Badly) by Nigel Rodgers & Mel Thompson is below:
"...Düşünce belirli bir davranış içinde yerleşmiş olup ona anlamını veren şey değildir; kişinin bu eylem ya da tespkisinden öncesine gidip onu kendisine bir düşünce nesnesi olarak sunmasına ve anlamı, koşulları ve hedefleri açısından sorgulamasına olanak tanıyan şeydir. Düşünce, kişinin yaptığı şey ile ilgili özgürlüğüdür, kişinin kendini ediminden ayırıp onu bir nesne haline getirmesini ve bir sorun olarak üzerine düşünmesini sağlayan devinimdir..."
 Don't you think it is a huge cognitive insight?

Aqua Vītae

Uisce beatha, uisge beatha, usquebaugh, usquebea, iskie bae, whiskey, whisky… I'm lovin' it :)

Danger of Software Patents

Richard Matthew Stallman (RMS) was in İstanbul on February 26th, 2011 and he delivered an impressive speech on the danger of software patents in Yeditepe University. You can access the videos of this event via several web sources.

The event was an annual gathering for Turkish computer engineering students so there were hundreds of undergraduate computer engineering stundents in the conference hall. Since I had my bachelor's degree more than 10 years ago, breathing the same athmosphere with the young students was a refreshing experience for me. I liked that.

Most of the guys around me was not aware of who RMS is or what the free software movement is. However, this lack of general knowledge was not a major obstacle for them because it was a Wi-Fi enabled room and most students were having their computers with themselves. They just Googled RMS and had the brief information about him, in a couple of minutes. This is a notable sign of transformation of the education and culture, I think. In the era of high performance information access, what is the meaning of remembering things? Is it still valuable? Should we memorize the sonnets by Shakespeare for a good reputation as an intellectual being in the future?

I really did not think deep enough to find the answers but my quick response is that it won't be so important to know or memorize lots of things in the future. On the other hand, we should know about the metadata which provide us the knowledge about where the information needed resides. Furthermore, we should be smart enough to ask the right questions. Education must give our kids the ability to ask the powerful questions and to access the answers of those questions fast. As a result, availability of reliable and free information sources will be a vital issue for the system. It really is a deep topic to dig now...
My other exploration of the RMS's speech was about the questions and answers part of the session. As usual, lots of the questions to Stallman were out of the context :) Kids were asking about, so called, contradiction between free software and earning the money, software realiability, software security etc... They were prejudice about human nature and dynamics of the society. Therefore, they constructed their questions on fallacies most of the times. As a result, RMS responded them with sharp and short sentences. He frequently interrupted the students, who had just started their questions,  after listening their first few words:

Student A: Dear RMS, as we all agree, people are jealous....
RMS: Hey my friend. Please stop. People are not jealous....

I don't blame them. It might be natural to think like that for the guys whose ages are ranging from 17 to 20-21. However, the consequence of those empty questions is the boredom, which kills minority of the audience having much more stronger intellectual background than the ones, asking questions in an unstoppable fashion, have. If you are above the average of your society and cannot isolate yourself in an appropriate way, you will suffer. The excerpt below from the great book, Shibumi, by Trevanian tells much about that suffering:

(Otake-san gives advice to Nikko about average men)
"Your scorn for mediocrity blinds you to its vast primitive power. You stand in the glare of your own brilliance, unable to see into the dim comers of he room, to dilate your eyes  and see the potential dangers of the mass, the wad of humanity. Even as I tell you this, dear student, you cannot quite believe that lesser men, in whatever numbers, can really defeat you. But we are in the age of the mediocre man. He is dull, colorless, boring but inevitably victorious. The amoeba outlives the tiger because it divides and continues in its immortal monotony. The masses are the final tyrants. See how, in the arts, Kabuki wanes and Nowithers while popular novels of violence and mindless action swamp the mind of the mass reader. And even in that timid genre, no author dares to produce a genuinely superior man as his hero, for in his rage of shame the mass man will send his yojimbo, the critic, to defend him. The roar of the plodders is inarticulate, but deafening. They have no brain, but they have a thousand arms to grasp and clutch at you, drag you down.
Shibumi, page 64
by Trevanian

Türkan 2

The last book which reveals the Türkan SAYLAN's final words defending herself against the heartless accusations, that were targeting herself in her last days, published several days ago. The name of the book is sharp and impressive: Son nefeste son savunma (The last defence in the last breath).

The author is Hüseyin Karataş. He was SAYLAN's attorney. And he states that completing this book was her last request to him. 

To conclude, I just want to share Karataş's words about Türkan SAYLAN below: 

Hocamın iki çığlığı vardı unutamadığım. ÇYDD yöneticisi Prof. Ayşe Yüksel tutuklandığında, Saylan hastanedeydi, son günlerini yaşıyordu. Yanındakilere “Fişimi çekin” demiş. O gün Yüksel’in tahliye edildiğini haber vermek için aradım. “Sizi ziyarete geleceğim. Ayşe Hanım’ı da yanımda getireceğim” dedim. Türkan Hocam’ın dakikalarca süren sevinç çığlığını unutamıyorum. Nasıl birden o enerjiye kavuştu, nasıl mutluluktu öyle... Yatağından doğrulmuş hemen. Yanından eksik etmediği kırmızı rujunu sürmüş. O günkü sevincini unutamayacağım. Ergenekon aramalarının sadece kendisiyle ilgili olduğunu sanıyordu. Haberlerden diğer ÇYDD yöneticilerine de aynı şeyin yapıldığını öğrendiğinde attığı çığlığı da unutamıyorum. Ama hüzün doluydu bu çığlık. Türkan Saylan benim için yaşama çığlık katan kadındır.
Av. Hüseyin Karataş
Hürriyet, 20 Mart 2011

My translation is:
There are two screams came out of professor that I can never forget. When ÇYDD executive Prof. Ayşe Yüksel had been arrested, Saylan was living her last days plugged to the life supporting machines in the hospital. When she heard the news about the Yüksel's arrest, she asked her physicians to unplug herself from the machines. At the end of the day, I had called Saylan and said that "Ayşe Yüksel was released by the court and I would take Ayşe with me to the hospital to see her". After that call, she screamed for minutes with a great happiness. She recharged her batteries by the this good news, straightened herself up in the bed, wore her famous red lipstick... I cannot forget her felicity that day. 
She was supposing that she was the only person, whose house was searched by the police for Ergenekon investigation. When she watched the news and saw that the other top ÇYDD executives were conducted in the same manner by the prosecutor and the police, she screamed so sadly that I couldn't forget.
To me, Türkan SAYLAN is the lady who brings the scream to the life.
Atty. Hüseyin Karataş
Hürriyet, March 20th, 2011


Restricted Web Access

We, two engineers working as IT professionals for more than 10 years, were trying to read the most popular newspaper of our country by using our computers at the office. I was sitting just beside his desk and watching his actions...

He tried to check the headlines of the paper. Corporate web access filter denied his attempts due to the category of the pages he wanted to open. Some of the forbidden categories were  "Provocative Attire", "Entertainment" and "Media Sharing"... Too dangerous!

The paper was Hürriyet. The year was 2011. He was 38 and I was 33 years old. Our arrogant and nitwit web proxy controller application was very persistent about disciplining us.

My friend strived to open 10 headline links on the newspaper. The system allowed only 3 or 4 of them. And the things we saw on the pages, we succeeded to reach, were ugly guys and their boring words and some depressing news like that.

My friend's witty statement was outstanding:

"Hey Bora, what sort of a security concept is it? It blocks all the pages with joy and cheer but shows every possible disgusting men and their stories! Do we really pay for this system? It is a psycho! It must be broken. Look at that thumbnail: If it is a smiling lady, proxy stops that link; if it is a fat serial killer proxy lets me visit the page! "

After a simple black box test, his conclusion was correct: "It must be broken."

I know that it is a common story.
I discussed the problematic perspectives of this prevalent protective approach with my colleagues who are responsible for network security of the company several times. Unfortunately, we were not talking the same language :) So nothing got better.

We demand free communication everywhere! School, home, office, street...

What is the solution?

Blogger is Banned in Turkey

Digiturk, the digital telecaster, sued Google for infringing the Turkish Soccer Games' broadcasting license, held by itself. As a result, the responsible court found Digiturk rightful and decided to block access to Blogger web site from Turkey.
The scenario is that some guys are recording the soccer matches broadcasted by Digiturk and putting the streaming video in the web pages, provided by Blogger, in a nearly real-time fashion. At first sight, Digiturk might be recognized as the victim of the bandits and we can support the verdict of the court. However, when it comes to the technological perception of the case, things are starting to get different. In this era, a high technology provider such as Digiturk must be aware of the abilities of the Internet, Internet users as "living creatures", their rights, contemporary tendencies in the context of communication over Internet and their effects to the old fashioned business. Internet is transforming the human behaviour including the aspects of how they consume things, how they receive services, how they trade, in an unstoppable way and the laws which are to regulate the commerce have to be adapted to the current way of life immediately. Otherwise, applying the ancient laws to our "post-modern" lives will be resulting in odd situations. Banning the Blogger in Turkey is a good example of those weird situations.
As we all know, Blogger is an open platform and every blogger user must sign the "terms of service" before creating their blogs. Some users may violate the terms and Google may suspend or purge their accounts. It seems like a solution but those guys can immediately create new accounts and continue violating the terms they signed. It is not so difficult to see the truth that the material contained in a user's page is in his/her responsibility, not Google's. So shutting down the access paths to a huge platform like Blogger, in which millions of free human beings are expressing theirselves, running business, communicate, collaborate, just living there, due to the misbehaviour of its small number of users is not a decent way of regulating the commerce by law. If you could, please find the "real" persons who are broadcasting the Digiturk's content by violating the licenses and judge them in a fair way but DO NOT block the whole Blogger platform. Because this rough way make all innocent Blogger users suffer. Personally, I do not care about soccer or Digiturk or the licenses of Digiturk. I just want to follow the blogs and share my opinions in my blog. Why do you stop me? What is your point of view? Can you explain your attitude by regarding the rules of public welfare or any other story?
My last words are for Digiturk: Why did you pay for the license of telecasting the content that you cannot protect from pirates? What was your business plan? Broadening the subscriber base of yours or making judges block several parts of the Internet domain by domain? Isn't it your problem to save your property from illegal access by using criptology or any other way you can benefit? To me, you are very very unsuccessful and do not have the fundemantal perception of the concepts of human rights, IP based communication, world wide web, and even basic business :) Besides, in my opinion, your vision is too narrow for a technology provider. It is a surprise that you receive financial support from TÜBİTAK (The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) for your research and development projects. Don't you think that you have to be much more innovative and smarter about finding the methods for protecting your core asset? If I were the CFO of TÜBİTAK, I would cut off your financial support, just after I got informed about your lawsuit against Google. Yes, you seem you are the winner of the lawsuit but I consider you as the loser party in the long run.
I have to admit that I will never be a Digiturk subscriber just because of your odd claim against Google! You add no value to my life. You don't seem to be capable of making things smarter in your business. You better sell eggs in bazaar and sue the ones who try to steal your eggs :) But with your current mindset, I have no doubt that you would ask judge to collapse the streets to the bazaar, where possible thieves are wandering, instead of catching the thieves :))