Monday, August 31, 2009

Progress in Social Sciences?

I was interested in politics and economy when I was 20; I read the “Limits to Growth” and economic texts on development by Binswanger and Myrdal. Recently I asked myself what is changed in our understanding of politics and economy since then. The question is not what is different in politics and eocnomy today compared to the 1970 and 80s, but to identify the methodological changes, the changes in our thinking between then and now. How are the tools for analysis advanced? Is there an advance in the way we understand society or do we only have more data and different situations?
The question is about the models underlying our analysis. Economy is, primarily, based on dynamic models and typically interested in equilibrium states; markets tend to an equilibrium between supply and demand - at least in theory as presented by Samuelson. These models typically had 2 actors (or two groups of actors); the suppliers and the consumers, the industrialized and the less industrialized world etc.
In the last years, I see increasingly models with 4 (and sometimes more) actors. The Club of Rome and Simcity made the idea of simulation models by Forrester popular. Models with 4 actors – i. e. multi-agent models – were used to analyze international monetary issues; I have used it to understand why the dollarization in the 1990s in South America did not work (despite the standard static theory and the IMF predicting success) and found a wonderful 3 agent model for corruption.
These multi-agent models seem to me very helpful to explain the situations I could not understand in 1990– e.g. the politics and economy of Africa. The simple “Europe exploited its colonies” model is not correct, as is demonstrated since decolonization. A model with four actors: the elite in the industrialized world, the elite in the third world country and the population in the industrialized and third world country shows the common interest in the economic elites and explains the investments and debts, together with the political pressures observed today..... Similar models can be used to analyze the situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan, or the Iraq. John Perkins wrote “The economic hit man”; very depressing reading about U.S.A. politics in the 1980s, confirming a the model.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Fujitsu Lifebook P1630 Network

I will collect on this blog page hints for others with a P1630:

The network connection on the P1630 was sort of flaky. It improved after installing linux-backports-modules-jaunty.

sudo apt-get install linux-backports-modules-jaunty

Now I have a decent signal level and it connects quickly.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fujitsu Lifebook P1630 Touchscreen

I have a new ultraportable (1 kg) Lifebook P1630 with a touchscreen. I hope to use it for presentations in the same manner I use currently the Fujitsu Stylistic 5010 tablet.
The P1630 comes with Vista installed - but this is unusable slow on a Core 2 Duo processor and I do not tolerate the waiting updates of MS software forces on me. I want to run Linux, meaning Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty!
Installation was a breeze (much faster than just the update with MS) and everything worked out of the box, except for the touchscreen.

With help from the web, I got it working. This is to report what I did, to help others with P1630 (and probably P1620). The P1630 (and 1620) connect the touchscreen via usb, not serial - thus the advice for P1510 etc. does not work (e.g. this script). The method proposed by Sam Engstrom propagated here does also not work, because it connects the touchscreen using a setserial and /dev/ttyS0. It seems that this could be solved by connecting the touchscreen to an eventN (with a hal/policy?) and then use wacdump /dev/input/eventN (N a number 1..9). I did not explore this further.

I got the touchscreen of the P1630 working with these tools. This worked immediately, with the BIOS set to "tablet" (not "touch screen") except for some confusion with the calibration. The calibration routine acted strangely on my system: after calibration any touch on the screen would open the trash folder (anybody has an explanation? I had observed this before I installed any touchscreen software already). The calibration routine did leave the max_x and max_y values set to the initial -1 values. I fixed in the code by adding two additional tests to read:

if (calibrate) {
calib_minx = ..
calib_miny = ..
calib_maxx = (calib_maxx==-1)?x:((x>calib_maxx)?x:calib_maxx);
calib_maxy = (calib_maxy==-1)?y:((y>calib_maxy)?y:calib_maxy);

make! sudo make install! and it works.

The sampling of the stylus is unfortunately not very rapid and handwriting looks wiggly. Does anybody have a hint how this could be improved?

Addition: I learned that there are new (corrected) versions available, the change has the same effect, but I have not tried it yet.