EuroparlTV for everyone? No, only for users of proprietary software!

The European Parliament (EP) has just recently started a new service: EuroparlTV. A web-TV service which should give citizens of the European Union (actually everyone around the world)  a way to inform themselves about how the EP works, what it does, and so on.

After I first read these news over at heise (german) I was impressed, but started to fear that yet again some sort of government has invested in proprietary software and is able to bring its services only to users of such software. Seconds later my fears became reality.

EuroparlTV seems to work only for users of either Adobe's proprietary Flash player (via the proprietary Adobe Flash file format) or users of Microsoft's Windows Media Player (via the proprietary WMV file format).

What this means to an open web, that is usable for everyone, should be clear.

Basically this is a service all citizens of the European Union pay for, but some cannot use. Is this really how governments (and the EP is some sort of government) should treat their citizens? Rather not.

On the one hand the European Commission is fighting vendor lock-in and monopoles, but on the other hand it directly helps these vendors by creating such services. Not a smart move in my opinion, neither is it understandable.

What I am asking myself though is why the EP was unable to create such a service, which itself could be quite interesting, without having all users of that service use proprietary software?
Is it so hard to deliver the service in a free (as in freedom), standardized format?
I will let answering these questions to you, but keep in mind that there are alternatives to this whole proprietary mess, like Ogg, which are completly free.

Personally I am pretty disappointed by this move. However, I hope that I at least informed people that there is a problem with EuroparlTV.
Putting it simple and short this way the EP does a great deal with helping vendor lock-in whilst fighting the freedom of its own citizens. Even though it should be the other way round.


sptest - a Python unittest extension

Even though this is meant to be an introduction to sptest, I want to start off by letting you know why I wrote this extension to the Python unittest module.

I am currently working on a (still private) project that uses Python's unittest module and the underlying framework. Even though unittest is a great utility for creating unit tests I found that the output it generates is unusable for me. I wanted something different though. Maybe a bit more aesthetic than the simple command line output unittest provides.

So I started off writing a class extending unittest.TestResult to fit my needs. I soon realized that interfacing with this part of unittest is not as easy as it could be, but I still continued to write my class.
After two hours of hacking I noticed that this class had become a monster. It was huge and I felt uncomfortable having such a huge class lying around somewhere in a "runtests.py" file for the only reason of having that pretty output.

This was the point when I decided to move all that code into a separate project and try to come up with a more intuitive API. This was the second when sptest was born, about 5 hours ago.

What I did come up with is a small Python module that makes customizing the way unit test results are presented (or stored) easier. It currently includes two output handler classes. One providing fancy CLI output on ANSI terminals and the other one providing XML output.

Additional output handler classes could store the result of the unit tests in a database or send it to a central point on the network, but implementing that is up to someone else, for now.

Running unit tests with sptest is as simple as calling:

By default the FancyCLIOutput handler class will be invoked and you will see why the handler is called the way it is immediatly.

In order to generate an XML file containing the test results one just has to modify the call to sptest to look like this:
sptest.TestMain(TestSuite, output_class=sptest.output.XMLOutput).run()

sptest also provides support for preparation and cleanup functions. The only thing you have to do is define these functions and adjust the arguments passed to TestMain accordingly.

Most of the code is already documented and a doxygen configuration file for generating the html documentation comes with the code. Also, two examples are included that show how to use sptest.


UPDATE: Google Chrome: Good or evil? -- GOOD!

UPDATE: You can find the update to this article at its bottom.

Even though Google's slogan is "don't be evil" I am not entirely sure whether this also applies to their newest development: the Google Chrome browser.

The announcement over at the Official Google Blog tells us that Google is about to release a Free Software-based browser. When I first read the announcement I wasn't too impressed reading that Google has actually built a browser, this was logical and I have been expecting this move for years. Also, reading that they based their browser on Free Software didn't impress me too much either, but then I found the comic.