Technically speaking, proprietary software is not Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). Practically speaking however, proprietary software is required to implement DRM as intended. That is, without proprietary software, the circumvention of DRM becomes trivial because the effective ingredient (i.e. obfuscation) is absent. Designing DRM for free software systems is like designing Jell-O handcuffs.
Archive for the ‘education’ Category
On a whim, we took the High Speed Rail to Tainan and spent the night. We visited Chihkan Tower. On the site is a statue of Kui-Xing, believed by some to be a servant deity of a “God of Literature” named Wen-Chang.
By the statue were many of what appeared to be student identity cards hanging near a sign that explained the motivation of those who worship (click to enlarge and read).
While we observed the surroundings, a young gentleman walked in and faced the statue. With his hands together and head prostrated, he muttered with intensity. He then gazed at the sculpture with a hint of desperate hope and left. Elsewhere on site, a shoal competed for food human visitors paid 10NT for to toss into the human-made pool.
Any parent who has watched a child spontaneously learn to read must question mechanistic theories of human development that oversimplify complex issues.
Thinking of my own child, I couldn’t agree more. Stager offers colorful commentary on the results of the NCLB Act’s Reading First program while cutting through the spin here.
The central purpose of schooling is to help each and every child find something worthwhile they love to do [...]
The best reason to give a child a good school…is so that a child will have a happy childhood, [...]
Is the source code going to be released?
I’m planning on it, yes, but I haven’t decided on a license or set a date yet.
Of course, releasing source code is only part of what makes software Free or Open Source. Restricting the commercial use of software is an enormous practical impediment. Commercial restrictions can turn an otherwise free program into a semi-free but proprietary program. Unfortunately, for now the author wants to restrict commercial activity around his software:
Phun is free for non-commercial use. This means you can download it, copy it etc, just don’t make money using it
Hopefully, the author will reconsider the commercial restriction and make Phun FOSS when he releases the source.
[The safety hysteria is] a ridiculous barrier to great learning and opportunity.
I know teachers who believe that the general practice of removing photographs of students from school websites “protects” them. Apparently, there’s now research indicating that the Grade Whatever class on http://www.whateverschool.edu will very likely be OK. <sarc>I’m so shocked.</sarc>
Recently, my Technology in a Global Society class watched Revolution OS as we began exploring Free Software and Open Source. It’s a film I’ve used to introduce this unit several times over the past few years. Though it claims to be targeted toward “the techno-illiterate” crowd, I find doing a little research in advance beneficial. Here are the links we skimmed over before viewing the film:
Linux kernel Eric Raymond Microsoft Corporation Microsoft Windows Free Software movement GNU Project Open Source Software Bruce Perens Richard Stallman Proprietary Software Free Software Foundation Linus Torvalds Bill Gates An Open Letter to Hobbyists The Cathedral and the Bazaar non-disclosure agreement Unix BSD compiler source code debugger text editor Michael Tiemann Cygnus Solutions Emacs Larry Augustin Sun Microsystems Free Software definition public domain copyleft GPL Apache Brian Behlendorf GNU Hurd Netscape Mozilla FreeBSD Red Hat Internet Explorer Jim Barksdale Open Source definition Debian GNU/Linux Steve Ballmer GNU/Linux User Groups Microsoft anti-trust lawsuits end-user license agreement IPO (Initial Public Offering)
Other great things about this DVD is that it’s Region Free, CSS-Encryption Free, comes with a 2nd DVD containing extra interview footage, and an easter egg allowing you to watch Moore’s civil war film “Shooting Creek” (my son found this by chance when playing with the remote control as a 2-year-old). About the only thing keeping it from perfection is a CC license. I’ve bought and worn out several copies over the years and highly recommend seeing it. I believe it’s available on torrent sites if you’re unable to offer the authors any monetary appreciation.
I still hear this on occasion:
Free/Open Source software is a nice idea but students need to be taught Microsoft products. If you don’t, you won’t be preparing them for the real world.
Typically, Microsoft software is proprietary so learning the inner workings of such software is verboten unless you sign an agreement not to share and cooperate with others (which is antithetical to my philosophy of education). With proprietary programs, students are forced to act only as users of software if they wish not to agree to break a social bond of goodwill. Schools that adopt free software not only teach platform/application-independent, transferable user skill sets through conceptual understanding, but also offer the opportunity for students to explore programming through the very software their institution implements and peers use. And it just so happens that the “real world” is more than ready to embrace them.
Guido van Robot is a minimalistic programming language providing just enough syntax to help students learn the concepts of sequencing, conditional branching, looping and procedural abstraction.
We’ll move on to Python in a few weeks.
I stood in front of the 150 or so secondary students and gave my lil’ ditty on our proposed AUP. When the following point came up in the slideshow, students who had been in my 1st semester tech ethics class chuckled:
Students must not transmit unauthorized, copyrighted works (such as movies, music, games, etc.) over the school network.
“Yeah, I know what you’re thinking”, I said. “But let me be clear on one thing. Regardless of what you or I think of the ethics, the legality is something else. Many of you may now have a solid argument as to why it should be OK to share copyrighted works but the fact for now is, it’s illegal. Doing so is irresponsible in that it puts the school at risk.”
Sorry to let the extremists down. This school won’t be used as a site for civil disobedience (though I freely admit to fantasizing it as such). However, I hope the extremists can take some comfort in knowing that few students leaving my class will mindlessly perpetuate fiction like “stealing” and “piracy”.