« April 2004 | Main | June 2004 »

May 20, 2004

An amazing expose...

...on the latest Alexis de Tocqueville Institution report. It purports that Linux inappropriately copied from Minix, and references an interview with the author of Minix.

But the author of Minix, Andy Tanenbaum , begs to differ. He says that the guy from AdTI (Ken Brown, President of aforesaid "Institute") claimed that he was writing a book about Unix, but in the course of the interview it became clear that the guy knew absolutely nothing about Unix.

Tanenbaum says he asked Brown directly whether AdTI was funded by SCO or Microsoft, and could only get the answer "We have multiple funding sources". (It is in fact funded by MS.)

And Tanenbaum does not think Linux was inappropriately copied from Minux.

This is truly disgusting. Read the article by Tanenbaum for a description of non-sexual whoredom at its most explicit and corrupt.

May 20, 2004 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1)

May 19, 2004

Alexis de Tocqueville Institution for harlotry

The Alexis de Tocqueville Institution is a perfect example of legalized prostitution, except there's no sex involved (well, as far as we can tell). [Ars Techica]
Funny, I was thinking exactly the same thing yesterday after reading about their most recent attacks on Linux, paid for by Microsoft. This latest attack has the distinction of being the most moronically stupid they've ever made, at least as far as I know.

For starters, their press release has the headline:

Torvalds claim to "invent" Linux® probably false, says new study. [Quoted in LinuxWorld]

Luckily, Linus is now reformed, and in response to the AdTI study, has explained the true origins of Linux with remarkable candor:
Ok, I admit it. I was just a front-man for the real fathers of Linux, the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus.

They (for obvious reasons) couldn't step forward to admit that they had gotten bitten by the computer bug, and had been developing a series of operating systems on their own during the off season. But when they started with Linux (which they originally called Freax - they do feel like outsiders, you know, and that's a whole sad story in itself), they felt that they could no longer just let it languish in obscurity. [Linux Torvalds, writing in LinuxWorld]

Update: Just to be clear, the point is that Torvalds has always been completely open about the origins of Linux and its debt to Minix and Unix. It's a joke to try to make an issue by implying otherwise.

May 19, 2004 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (3)

May 18, 2004

The New UserLand

UserLand has undergone a corporate transformation whereby the Frontier scripting environment code base is open-sourced and spun off into a different corporate entity than their weblog tools.

I'll bet that one of the motivators was so that the new UserLand would not be tied to stressing Frontier as its scripting environment any more than necessary. There is no business reason why their bogging software should have that restriction; it has to hurt more than it helps because there are a large number of great tools out there such as PHP, Python, and Ruby, a number of which are better than Frontier. Frontier does have some very nice features such as its object database. (Unfortunately, at least when I used the product, the object database was not really an object database in the technical sense referred to be real object-oriented programmers; still it is handy.)

As long as UserLand also had a business interest in the Frontier environment, it would look bad to take advantage of those other technologies. So that has arguably crippled UserLand competitively.

Hence it made business sense for UserLand's new CEO to make the split.

Update: Ah! I see that Dave Winer agrees, even if he won't say exactly why it "may have been" a liability:

But experience in the market said that, to succeed, UserLand didn't need to own its kernel. In fact, that it was the only developer using this kernel may well have been a liability for UserLand. [Dave Winer]

May 18, 2004 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cicadas kill. Save yourself.

"Our scientists have worked tirelessly in the laboratories of Cicadaville.com uncovering the secret dangers of the cicada.  We have gathered data from thousands of the world's leading Cicada experts such as Dr. Gene Kritsky of the University of Mt. Saint Joseph.  Then we compiled our body of research in one place....Cicadaville.com."

May 18, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 17, 2004

Bono speaks

I've never cared one way or the other about U2, but Bono spoke the truth while receiving his honorary Doctor of Laws from U Penn today:

The failure of rich nations to help solve Africa's problems has historical parallels with slavery and racial segregation, Bono said on the 50th anniversary of the U.S. court case that officially ended segregation in schools.

Those conventions were accepted norms until overthrown by those with the courage to challenge them, he said.

"If you want to save the age, betray it," he said, quoting the Irish poet Brendan Keneally. "Expose its conceits, foibles and phony moral certitudes."

"For the first time in history we have the cash and the technological know-how" to solve Africa's problems, he said. "But do we have the will?"[CNN]

That's not just rhetoric. It's the literal truth and it's good to have some so visible say it. And as a practical matter for Americans:
"It's cheaper than fighting wave after wave of the terrorists' new recruits," he said."It's cheaper than fighting wave after wave of the terrorists' new recruits," he said. [same source]

May 17, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 15, 2004

Why you should never put your photo on the Internet

Hilarious photoshop work. [Via Critical Section.]

May 15, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 12, 2004

Back-to-Iraq goes back to Iraq

Christopher Allbritton is a reporter who is leaving for Iraq today on $11,000 in funding supplied by readers of his blog (including myself). He's a bit nervous, for obvious reasons.

I almost always disagree with his politics, but he's the best on-the-scene reporter I can recall reading in recent years. His readers also funded his earlier trip to Iraq, and the writing was excellent.

I wish him a safe journey, and look forward to his reporting from Iraq.

May 12, 2004 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 10, 2004

Abu Ghraib

Since I have no background in politics or the military I try to confine my commenting on such matters to cases where illogic is commonly being presented as the truth. I feel qualified to comment on that subject because as a software guy, logic is my profession. It is possible to make errors in reasoning, so I may be wrong, of course. Yet I think that a logical perspective, whoever presents it, is adding something that is sorely lacking in much of the media.

In a country where there is a police force, no one claims that no crimes will ever be committed. The fact that a crime is committed doesn't mean that having a police force is useless. Rather, having a police force is superior to not having one because with a police force, the overall amount of crime can be kept under control. No one with any sense doubts that this is true.

So I think it is grossly irrational that so few in the media are picking up on the following point: Abu Ghraib doesn't mean the Western-style democracies as represented by the American system, are comparable to the alternatives, any more than the existence of crime means that having a police force is the same as not having one.

No democracy (and no system, period) can automatically and perfectly prevent all possible bad things from happening. Rather, in a Western-style democracy, the truth has a decent chance of coming out, and then whatever was bad will be likely to change if the people agree that it was bad. And if the people don't like the way that the government immediately deals with the bad thing, the people can vote in a new government in a few years to do it better.

Such a system a huge leap forward over any dictatorship, whether Saddam's or anyone else's. A dictatorship seeks to keep things as they are, whether good or bad, as long as the dictator thinks it keeps him a power. A democracy seeks to make things better. Those are very different goals.

In fact, one of the outcomes of the Abu Ghraib debacle is a concrete demonstration of this process in action. If it were stressed in the media, it could be the most important outcome.

But this obvious and extremely fundamental and important fact is being almost totally neglected. If the media was doing it's job, it would be educating people to understand it. Then Abu Ghraib, while certainly exposing the corruption and incompetence of many individuals (possibly including an incompetence charge against the President himself) would also expose the incredible value of our system compared to that which most Arabs have been living under for many many years.

Under our system, the practices exposed by the Abu Ghraib scandal will almost certainly be changed. Under a dictatorship, they wouldn't be. That difference is far, far, too important to ignore. Hopefully there are many Iraqis smart enough to pick up on it despite the single-minded focus of the media on pure scandal-peddling.

May 10, 2004 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

May 06, 2004

What Mars may have looked like when it had bodies of water

Great photo-realistic renderings. Check them out. [Thanks to Critical Section.]

May 6, 2004 in Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 05, 2004

Should there be an iPod IPO?

For Apple, the best move right now is to spin out iPod and pocket the cash, because Wall Street's current euphoria marks the market's peak. Although Apple would be loath to admit it, digital music players are on the verge of commoditization. [BW Online, thanks to MacInTouch]
I don't know if he's right or not, but it's an interesting article either way.

May 5, 2004 in Music, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)