Archive for September, 2007

a weekend out of the city

September 29, 2007

A recent venture into the mountains of Wutai, southern Taiwan brought several pleasurable experiences. This waterfall with its nearby bridge was a favorite.

Wutai Waterfall 3


Wutai Waterfall 2

GNUosphere copyright

September 27, 2007

I finally chose a reasonable and fair (as opposed to an All Rights Reserved default) copyright license for this blog. It happily sits at the bottom of the sidebar. Though I’ll approach enforcement like the late U.G.

You are free to reproduce, distribute, interpret, misinterpret, distort, garble, do what you like, even claim authorship, without my consent or the permission of anybody.

… I just had to put a minimal CC license on there ‘cuz it’s just so damn cute, no?

Woz the philosopher…not

September 25, 2007

Steve Wozniak:

“There’s always a group of [free/open source activists] that wants to undo the forces of industry that have given us so much in terms of wealth”


“and there’s always people who want things to be free […] But [open source] still has such good points […]”

That’s free as in liberated, Woz. There’s no “But still” about it.

Via Glyn.

worst album covers

September 25, 2007

I just received an email with a link sure to provide a few laughs. Unless it has already appeared there, this is Boing Boing material.

Thanks Flaurez!


September 25, 2007

Wafi B., a former student of mine back in Cameroon, Africa, sent me an email last night linking to this article on the BBC. My household is in for four so far. One for me, one for my son, and two for children somewhere unknown at this time. I’m currently in negotiation with my wife to push this to six. She’s all for the project but keeps bringing up a fact I can’t dispute. “We don’t need three.”

Damn her sensibility!

(The news straight from the horse’s mouth.)

response to John Carroll

September 21, 2007

John Carroll of Microsoft posted an article critical of free software called “Richard Stallman the creationist” here. I left a comment:

John identifies ethical principles with religion. To disparage ethical principles (in this case, the principles of the free software movement) by identifying them with religion is not only inaccurate but tantamount to a blanket rejection of all ethics, deduced from a blanket rejection of all religion. One premise of his article is total amorality.

John implies that free software means business must be forsaken, despite evidence proving otherwise. True, if it were a choice between doing business and ethics, we would choose ethics. But fortunately, software freedom and business is a match. The only obstacle to a global and flourishing free software economy is proprietary software itself.

We are against proprietary software because it contravenes community. Surely John understands the difference between concern for users’ freedom and hatred toward them. Unfortunately, he fails to apply that understanding when stating that we “hate” Mac users.

And finally, John reveals his disregard for social solidarity, concerns of freedom, and ethical principles by stating, “Computer software is a TOOL, not an issue of human rights.” Yes, software is a tool but unlike say, a hammer, it dictates what you can and can’t do with your computer. To lose control of your computer is to lose control of that which extends one’s own identity and voice. Unlike a hammer, software manipulates one’s data and communicates both privately and publicly with others. Unlike a hammer, software is a constructed set of logical instructions that when free, can be applied to other socially useful software. The qualitative difference between software and typical tools is significant enough to make software freedom an imperative goal.

“We can’t be bought”

September 20, 2007

An insightful and entertaining interview offering a glimpse into the free software movement’s mindset. Thanks Volker, Georg, Carlo, Jeremy, and Andrew (absent from the interview). Mainstream media is missing the real story as it focuses in on the pocket-change fine Microsoft has been ordered to pay. Follow the audio with text here.

Moglen and Microsoft’s Strategy

September 19, 2007

Eben Moglen, as usual, sharply articulates what is actually happening in the world of software patents.

Take Moglen’s explanation of the Microsoft/Novell patent deal, add some of this, that, and a pinch of future lock-in, and key parts of the monopolist’s strategy become clear.

If Microsoft fully succeeds, “open source” itself will have been embraced, extended, and extinguished corporately appropriated. I don’t know what will happen. Much may depend upon how many vocal “open source” supporters actually have this in their heart.

To be honest, I’m pretty pessimistic.

a win for freedom in european court

September 17, 2007

This is huge.

As a monopoly, Microsoft correctly views interoperability as a threat. Interoperability means viable software choices for computer users and a level playing field for software developers. The Samba team will surely be smiling from ear-to-ear over this ruling. Samba helps make the transition of computer networks to free software easier by providing a layer of interoperability.

As for the 497 million euro fine, we’d gladly trade that in for a similar ruling on Microsoft’s OOXML shenanigans.

which two go?

September 17, 2007

A teacher at my school asked colleagues for one-paragraph responses to writing prompts. These will be used as examples for students. Accepting the dogma of “five” senses, here is my response to the following question…

If you had to lose two of your five senses, which two would you lose?

If I suddenly lost my ability to see, it would prove rather inconvenient to go about day-to-day living. Simple movement from point A to point B would slow considerably and for quite some time I would be considerably dependent upon others for help. After some time, an environment could be learned and dependency lessened, but travel to unfamiliar territory would be incredibly hampered and require assistance from others. Therefore, I would choose to keep my sense of sight. My sense of touch would be invaluable as well. Pain, though not enjoyable, is an essential warning when one’s body is experiencing harm. To be without the sense of touch means being without a vital safety net. Therefore, I would keep my sense of touch. Sensing sound makes communication easier. To hear makes conversation with others less complicated and allows one to experience other sounds that may contain useful information. Though hearing would not be as vital a sense as touch or sight, I would keep it. This means I would choose to lose the ability to taste and to smell. Relatively speaking, both senses offer little in terms of pragmatic needs (though I’d have to be careful not to accidentally consume rotten food or drink sour liquids!) and my loss would not inconvenience others too much. However, I would be saddened to suddenly realize that I could no longer experience the smell of a flower or taste of a well-prepared meal. Part of life is to experience pleasure. To be denied this would be unfortunate, but is what I would choose “if I had to”.

Granting this unrealistic scenario, which two would you choose and why?