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Comments

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How a Solar Storm Two Years Ago Nearly Caused a Catastrophe On Earth

Bruce Perens Re:FUD filled.... (212 comments)

Gas lines need nonconductive sections to protect from becoming long ground loops.

about a month ago
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How a Solar Storm Two Years Ago Nearly Caused a Catastrophe On Earth

Bruce Perens Re:FUD filled.... (212 comments)

It sounds like this transformer had its center tap grounded and was the path to ground on one side of a ground loop as the geomagnetic field moved under pressure from a CME, inducing a common-mode current in the long-distance power line. A gas pipeline in an area of poor ground conductivity in Russia was also destroyed, it is said, resulting in 500 deaths.

One can protect against this phenomenon by use of common-mode breakers and perhaps even overheat breakers. The system will not stay up but nor will it be destroyed. This is a high-current rather than high-voltage phenomenon and thus the various methods used to dissipate lightning currents might not be effective.

about a month ago
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How a Solar Storm Two Years Ago Nearly Caused a Catastrophe On Earth

Bruce Perens Re:FUD filled.... (212 comments)

In March 1989 much of Quebec lost power for the same thing.

They lost power because the common-mode breakers tripped, not because their system was actually damaged.

about a month ago
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Letter to Congress: Ending U.S. Dependency on Russia for Access to Space

Bruce Perens Not accepted for publication (1 comments)

This story was not accepted for publication by Slashdot, and I am submitting it to another venue for consideration. - Bruce

about a month ago
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New Treatment Stops Type II Diabetes

Bruce Perens Re:Evolution (253 comments)

I think it's more likely that more people are becoming obese because of exactly one factor: age. They are living artificially prolonged lifetimes due to access to adequate food and to medicine. It's easier to get fat when you are 50 than when you are 30 because of the natural changes in your metabolism.

about a month and a half ago
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New Treatment Stops Type II Diabetes

Bruce Perens Re:Evolution (253 comments)

:-)

You make it sound like starving people are getting fat too.

If they are becoming obese, the particular individual has a surplus of caloric intake, if only for this year or month. This is not to say that they have proper nutrition. So I am not at all clear that the fact that there is obesity in the third world is confounding evidence.

about a month and a half ago
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New Treatment Stops Type II Diabetes

Bruce Perens Evolution (253 comments)

For most of the existence of mankind and indeed all of mankind's progenitors, having too much food was a rare problem and being hungry all of the time was a fact of life. We are not necessarily well-evolved to handle it. So, no surprise that we eat to repletion and are still hungry. You don't really have any reason to look at it as an illness caused by anything other than too much food.

about a month and a half ago
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Open Hardware and Digital Communications Conference On Free Video, If You Help

Bruce Perens Re: If you pay... (15 comments)

Martin,

The last time I had a professional video produced, I paid $5000 for a one-minute commercial, and those were rock-bottom prices from hungry people who wanted it for their own portfolio. I doubt I could get that today. $8000 for the entire conference is really volunteer work on Gary's part.

Someone's got to pay for it. One alternative would be to get a corporate sponsor and give them a keynote, which is what so many conferences do, but that would be abandoning our editorial independence. Having Gary fund his own operation through Kickstarter without burdening the conference is what we're doing. We're really lucky we could get that.

about a month and a half ago
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Open Hardware and Digital Communications Conference On Free Video, If You Help

Bruce Perens Re: If you pay... (15 comments)

We do charge entry to the convention. We get really nice facilities for the people who actually travel there and for the speakers. Last year's location was subperb. But I don't see why they should actually subsidize the folks who do not attend.

about a month and a half ago
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Open Hardware and Digital Communications Conference On Free Video, If You Help

Bruce Perens Re:One hell of a slashvertisement! (15 comments)

I think TAPR's policy is that the presentations be freely redistributable, but I don't know what they and Gary have discussed. I am one of the speakers and have always made sure that my own talk would be freely redistributable. I wouldn't really want it to be modifiable except for translation and quotes, since it's a work of opinion. Nobody should get the right to modify the video in such a way as to make my opinion seem like it's anything other than what it is.

about a month and a half ago
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Open Hardware and Digital Communications Conference On Free Video, If You Help

Bruce Perens Re:If you pay... (15 comments)

If I remember correctly, it was 4 video channels last year: tracking on presenter, proscenium, audience, projector.

about a month and a half ago
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Open Hardware and Digital Communications Conference On Free Video, If You Help

Bruce Perens Re:If you pay... (15 comments)

Yes. I put in $100, and I am asking other people to put in money to sponsor these programs so that everyone, including people who did not put in any money at all, can see them for free. If you look at the 150+ videos, you can see that Gary's pretty good at this (and he brought a really professional-seeming cameraman to Hamvention, too) and the programs are interesting. Even if at least four of them feature yours truly :-) He filmed every one of the talks at the TAPR DCC last year (and has filmed for the past 5 years) and it costs him about $8000 to drive there from North Carolina to Austin, Texas; to bring his equipment and to keep it maintained, to stay in a motel, to run a multi-camera shoot for every talk in the conference, and to get some fair compensation for his time in editing (and he does a really good job at that).

about a month and a half ago
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SpaceX Delays Falcon 9 Launch To Tuesday

Bruce Perens Re:Another another delay? (43 comments)

Remember when we had a Debian system on the biosciences mission? They scrubbed the whole mission after they were already in space due to a fuel-cell issue that I think turned out to be a faulty sensor, and flew the entire mission a second time.

about 2 months ago
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Interviews: Bruce Perens Answers Your Questions

Bruce Perens Re:citation needed (224 comments)

Consider yourself lucky, then, and pray that it lasts. The people around you are not made of such strong stuff, and I can't be sure that you are either.

about 3 months ago
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Interviews: Bruce Perens Answers Your Questions

Bruce Perens Re:Wow (224 comments)

It actually is a bit different for the Republicans, in that they are caught in an internal party schism of a scale we've not seen on either side since desegregation, if even then. It's difficult for the less right to look good to the more right, undirected pushing against the Democrats is one of the few ways they have to do it.

about 3 months ago
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Interviews: Bruce Perens Answers Your Questions

Bruce Perens Re:Wow (224 comments)

Do not forget that ObamaCare was rammed through without a single Republican vote in the House or Senate.

It's the unfortunate case that Republicans don't generally support Democratic bills. Witness the recent student loan bill. There is not much question that a better educated populance means a better economy and a stronger nation. It's a truism that we could just pay for college education in a number of fields and reap economic benefits of many times the spending. Indeed, we used to do more of that and the country was stronger when we did.

about 3 months ago
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Interviews: Bruce Perens Answers Your Questions

Bruce Perens Re:I really dig the Obamacare comments Bruce made (224 comments)

You meant "you wouldn't approve" rather than "you wouldn't understand".

Positioned correctly, it isn't all that socially reprehensible to state the sentiment that you don't believe you should pay for people who drive their motorcycle without helmets, people who self-administer addictive and destructive drugs, people who engage in unprotected sex with prostitutes or unprotected casual sex with strangers, and people who go climbing without using all of the safety equipment they could.

You don't really even need to get into whether you hold human life sacred, etc., to get that argument across. It's mostly just an economic argument, you believe yourself to be sensible and don't want to pay for people who aren't.

The ironic thing about this is that it translates to "I don't want to pay for the self-inflicted downfall of the people who exercise the libertarian rights I deeply believe they should have."

OK, not a bad position as far as it goes. Now, tell me how we should judge each case, once these people present themselves for medical care, and what we should do if they don't meet the standard.

about 3 months ago
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Interviews: Bruce Perens Answers Your Questions

Bruce Perens Re:citation needed (224 comments)

Citation needed.

I just looked for a minute and found This NIMH study. If you look at the percentages per year they are astonishingly high. 9% of people in any particular year just for mood disorders, and that's just the first on the list. Then they go down the list of other disorders. The implication is that everyone suffers some incident of mental illness in their lives. And given the number of psychiatrists, psychologists, and lay practitioners in practice, it seems like much of the population try to get help at times, if only from their priest or school guidance counselor.

You are not a rock. Can you honestly tell me that you haven't ever suffeed a moment of irrationality?

about 3 months ago
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Interviews: Bruce Perens Answers Your Questions

Bruce Perens Re:Guns vs Martial Arts? (224 comments)

I'm curious what his stance is on most martial arts practitioners.

I've never heard of one invading a school and karate-chopping a dozen young kids to death. Have you?

about 3 months ago
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Interviews: Bruce Perens Answers Your Questions

Bruce Perens Re:I really dig the Obamacare comments Bruce made (224 comments)

Yes, seeing a doctor really is a human right.

Does that mean we should bear the burden of your bad lifestyle choices? Well, we do today. Either those folks are in our emergency rooms, or they are lying on our streets. Either way, we all pay a cost.

It's not clear to me what you propose to do with them. Perhaps you should explain that a bit more clearly.

about 3 months ago

Submissions

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Letter to Congress: Ending U.S. Dependency on Russia for Access to Space

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  about a month ago

Bruce Perens (3872) writes "I've sent a letter to my district's senators and member of congress this evening, regarding how we should achieve a swifter end to U.S. dependency on the Russians for access to space. Please read my letter, below. If you like it, please join me and send something similar to your own representatives. Find them here and here. — Bruce

Dear Congressperson Lee,

The U.S. is dependent on the Russians for present and future access to space. Only Soyuz can bring astronauts to and from the Space Station. The space vehicles being built by United Launch Alliance are designed around a Russian engine. NASA's own design for a crewed rocket is in its infancy and will not be useful for a decade, if it ever flies.

Mr. Putin has become much too bold because of other nations dependence. The recent loss of Malaysia Air MH17 and all aboard is one consequence.

Ending our dependency on Russia for access to space, sooner than we previously planned, has become critical. SpaceX has announced the crewed version of their Dragon spaceship. They have had multiple successful flights and returns to Earth of the un-crewed Dragon and their Falcon 9 rocket, which are without unfortunate foreign dependencies. SpaceX is pursuing development using private funds. The U.S. should now support and accelerate that development.

SpaceX has, after only a decade of development, demonstrated many advances over existing and planned paths to space. Recently they have twice successfully brought the first stage of their Falcon 9 rocket back to the ocean surface at a speed that would allow safe landing on ground. They have demonstrated many times the safe takeoff, flight to significant altitude, ground landing and re-flight of two similar test rockets. In October they plan the touchdown of their rocket's first stage on a barge at sea, and its recovery and re-use after a full flight to space. Should their plan for a reusable first-stage, second, and crew vehicle be achieved, it could result in a reduction in the cost of access to space to perhaps 1/100 of the current "astronomical" price. This would open a new frontier to economical access in a way not witnessed by our nation since the transcontinental railroad. The U.S. should now support this effort and reap its tremendous economic rewards.

This plan is not without risk, and like all space research there will be failures, delays, and eventually lost life. However, the many successes of SpaceX argue for our increased support now, and the potential of tremendous benefit to our nation and the world.

Please write back to me.

Many Thanks

Bruce Perens"
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Open Hardware and Digital Communications conference on free video, if you help

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  about a month and a half ago

Bruce Perens (3872) writes "The TAPR Digital Communications Conference has been covered twice here and is a great meeting on leading-edge wireless technology, mostly done as Open Hardware and Open Source software. Free videos of the September 2014 presentations will be made available if you help via Kickstarter. For an idea of what's in them, see the Dayton Hamvention interviews covering Whitebox, our Open Hardware handheld software-defined radio transceiver, and Michael Ossman's HackRF, a programmable Open Hardware transceiver for wireless security exploration and other wireless research. Last year's TAPR DCC presentations are at the Ham Radio Now channel on Youtube."
Link to Original Source
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Three Videos on Codec2 and Open Hardware

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  about 8 months ago

Bruce Perens (3872) writes "Codec2 is the Open Source ultra-low-bandwidth speech codec capable of encoding voice in 1200 Baud. FreeDV (freedv .org) is an HF (global-range radio) implementation that uses half the bandwidth of SSB, and without the noise. Here are three speeches about where it's going:
  • David Rowe: Embedding Codec2: Open Source speech coding on a low-cost microprocessor, at Linux.conf.au 2014. YouTube, downloadable MP4.
  • Bruce Perens: FreeDV, Codec2, and HT of the Future (how we're building a software-defined walkie-talkie that's smarter than a smartphone), at the TAPR/ARRL Digital Communications Conference 2013. Blip.tv, YouTube
  • Chris Testa on the .Whitebox handheld software-defined radio design that is the RF portion of HT of the Future, which was also shown at the TAPR conference.
"
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FCC Considering Proposal for Encrypted Ham Radio

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  about a year ago

Bruce Perens (3872) writes "FCC is currently processing a request for rule-making, RM-11699, that would allow the use of Amateur frequencies in the U.S. for private, digitally-encrypted messages.

Encryption is a potential disaster for ham radio because it defeats its self-policing nature. If hams can't decode messages, they can't identify if the communication even belongs on ham radio. A potentially worse problem is that encryption destroys the harmless nature of Amateur radio.There's no reason for governments to believe that encrypted communications are harmless.

See http://hams.com/encryption/ for more information."

Link to Original Source
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Codec2 Project asks FCC to Modernize Regulations

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Bruce Perens writes "The Codec2 project has developed FreeDV, a program to encode digital voice on two-way radio in only 1.125 KHz of bandwidth. But FCC regulations aren't up-to-speed with the challenges of software-defined radio and Open Source. A 24 page FCC filing created by Bruce Perens proposes that FCC allow all digital modulations and published digital codes on ham radio and switch to bandwidth-based regulation."
Link to Original Source
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The Day I Blundered Into The Nuclear Facility

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  about 2 years ago

Bruce Perens writes "I found myself alone in a room, in front of a deep square or rectangular pool of impressively clear, still water. There was a pile of material at the bottom of the pool, and a blue glow of Cherenkov radiation in the water around it. To this day, I can't explain how an unsupervised kid could ever have gotten in there."
Link to Original Source
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My Formal Abandonment of Race

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  about 2 years ago

Bruce Perens writes "It started with our visit to Manzanar, the camp in California where thousands of U.S. Citizens of Japenese ethnicity were held prisoner in the desert. And it ends with the American Community Survey of 2012."
Link to Original Source
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The Ada Initiative Needs Your Help

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  about 2 years ago

Bruce Perens writes "The Ada Initiative has a vision: a world in which women are equal and welcome participants in open source software, open data, and open culture. They want women writing free software, women editing Wikipedia, women creating the Internet and women shaping the future of global society. They need your help.

At their donation site, you can become a sustaining sponsor, for $16/month or $32/month. I participated as one of 100 seed funders a while back, so I've put my money where my mouth is.

It's really clear, if you walk around any software conference or a ham radio conference, that there just aren't very many women there. I don't consider a one-gender environment to be a socially healthy one. Some of it is just what people like to do. But there is a pretty good case that there are social pressures against women's participation in the technologies, ranging from below-consciousness subtle to egregiously offensive. That's what the Ada Initiative works upon.

What I like about the Ada Initiative is that they have worked real positive change, they're not anti-male, they don't shoot themselves in the foot and they stay on message. Thus, I appreciate their leadership.

The most visible change they've wrought is that they have convinced many technical conferences to enact anti-harassment policies. And the policies they promote are fair, where earlier proposals were so obviously wrong.

It's inexpensive and just takes a minute to get going. Go over there and give them a hand."

Link to Original Source
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Open Hardware Journal

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Bruce Perens writes "Open Hardware Journal is a new technical journal on designs for physical or electronic objects that are shared as if they were Open Source software. It's an open journal under a Creative Commons license. This issue contains articles on Producing Lenses With 3D Printers, Teaching with Open Hardware Submarines, An Open Hardware Platform for USB Firmware Updates and General USB Development, and more."
Link to Original Source
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The Covenant - A New Open Source Strategy

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Bruce Perens writes "Lexis Nexis has Open Sourced HPCC, the parallel software that they use for handling extremely large data. Databases that, for example, hold records for every consumer in the U.S. can be processed with this software and its task-specific language. As Strategic Consultant for the company while they decided to participate in Open Source, Open Source co-founder Bruce Perens designed a new Covenant between Lexis Nexis and the Open Source community that makes dual-licensing more fair to the Open Source developer."
Link to Original Source
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Red Hat's Secret Patent Deal

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Bruce Perens (3872) writes "When patent troll Acacia sued Red Hat in 2007, it ended with a bang: Acacia's patents were invalidated by the court, and all software developers, open-source or not, had one less legal risk to cope with. So, why is the outcome of Red Hat's next tangle with Acacia being kept secret, and how is a Texas court helping to keep it that way? Could the outcome have placed Red Hat in violation of the open-source licenses on its own product?"
Link to Original Source
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Codec2: An Open Source Low-Bandwidth Voice Codec

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Bruce Perens writes "Codec2 is an Open Source digital voice codec for low-bandwidth applications, in its first Alpha release. Currently it can encode 3.75 seconds of clear speech in 1050 bytes, and there are opportunities to code in additional compression that will further reduce its bandwidth. The main developer is David Rowe, who also worked on Speex.

Originally designed for Amateur Radio, both via sound-card software modems on HF radio and as an alternative to the proprietary voice codec presently used in D-STAR, the codec is probably also useful for telephony at a fraction of current bandwidths.

The algorithm is based on papers from the 1980's, and is intended to be unencumbered by valid unexpired patent claims. The license is LGPL2. The project is seeking developers for testing in applications, algorithmic improvement, conversion to fixed-point, and coding to be more suitable for embedded systems."

Link to Original Source
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Oracle Sues Google for Infringing Java Patents

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  about 4 years ago

Bruce Perens writes "Oracle has brought a lawsuit against Google claiming that Google has infringed patents on the Java Language, presumably in Android. We don't have the text of the lawsuit yet. But there's a patent grant that should allow Google to use Java royalty-free. Has Google failed to meet the terms of the grant?"
Link to Original Source
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Mark Hurd is Irrelevant - The Challenge HP Faces

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  about 4 years ago

Bruce Perens writes "Mark Hurd's silly exit has little to do with HP's real problems. As an executive there about a decade ago, I saw a company that was giving up its differentiating value in the name of operational savings, not realizing that a decade later the Golden Goose of creativity would have found greener pastures. But surprisingly, the classic HP tradition of building a great place to do engineering that results in a flood of excellent creative products is being followed..."
Link to Original Source
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LCD "engine" for spacecraft attitude control!

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Bruce Perens writes "Japan's IKAROS satellite, which earlier performed the first successful demonstration of a solar sail, has broken more new territory. Liquid-crystal displays, yes — like in your video monitor — were fabricated into strips on the edges of the solar sail. By energizing some of the LCDs and changing the reflective characteristics of parts of the sail from specular to diffuse, JAXA scientists successfully generated attitude control torque in the sail, changing the spacecraft's orientation."
Link to Original Source
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Geostationary GPS Satellite Out of Control

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Bruce Perens writes "The Galaxy 15 commercial satellite has not responded to commands since solar flares fried its CPU in April, and it won't turn off. Intelsat controllers moved all commercial payloads to other birds except for WAAS, a system that adds accuracy to GPS for landing aircraft and finding wayward geocaches. Since the satellite runs in "bent pipe" mode, amplifying wide bands of RF that are beamed up to it, it is likely to interfere with other satellites as it crosses their orbital slots on its way to an earth-sun Lagrange point, the natural final destination of a geostationary satellite without maneuvering power.

The only payload that is still deliberately active on the satellite is its WAAS repeater. An attempt to overload the satellite and shut it down on May 3 caused a Notice to Airmen regarding the unavailability of WAAS for an hour. Unsaid is what will happen to WAAS, and for how long, when the satellite eventually loses its sun-pointing capability, expected later this year, and stops repeating the GPS correction signal. Other satellites can be moved into Galaxy 15's orbital slot, but it is yet unannounced whether the candidates bear the WAAS payload."

Link to Original Source
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Open Hardware Radio Manufacturer Acquired

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Bruce Perens writes "Ettus Research produces the USRP or Universal Software Radio Peripheral. When used with the GNU Radio software, this device allows the construction of radio receivers and transmitters that are primarily software. It's been used for everything from medical imaging to espionage. USRP is Open Hardware, the design and other data needed to implement it have been published. Matt Ettus today announced that his company has been acquired by National Instruments. Operation will remain separate from NI and Matt says that little will change."
Link to Original Source

Journals

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Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  more than 8 years ago Please read the alert here. The Broadcast Flag is back, this time as a WIPO treaty, and if you don't speak up, it'll be decided by bureaucrats without any democratic input at all.

The alert provides a web form to write to your congress person. Please do that. And please put the alert up elsewhere, so that other people can help too.

I'm in Washington DC working on this today, and your support will help.

Thanks

Bruce

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Thanks, rodgster

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  more than 8 years ago Slashdot user rodgster sent me 1000 slashdot subscription pages because he likes my comments. Thanks, rodgster!

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Technocrat.net is back

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  more than 10 years ago Some of you may remember my technology policy / technology news site Technocrat.net. The site is reactivated. It's intended to be a more mature, and hopefully more relevant, forum than Slashdot. No ACs, a special focus on technology policy and high technology outside of the conventional corporate model, but conventional tech news as well.

I'd really appreciate it if you'd create a login on the site and submit articles. Especially original work, which hasn't always been well recieved on Slashdot - they seem to prefer linking to other people's coverage. RDF and RSS are available at http://technocrat.net/rdf and http://technocrat.net/rss, so you can keep track of articles from elsewhere.

Bruce

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Have you passed through the nerd filter?

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  more than 11 years ago There is a "nerd filter" that people like me tend to pass through without realizing. On the other side of this filter, we are very likely to meet people we know, and in general people like us.

My most recent episode was at the 9000 foot visitor station on Mauna Kea. The folks there said that I shouldn't attempt to drive up to the telescopes without a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. So, I went in the parking lot and accosted occupants of the first 4-wheel-drive vehicle that came by. The driver of said vehicle had seen me lecture in San Francisco. I got my ride.

Just by standing at that 9000 foot visitor station, I'd passed through the nerd filter.

Then, a few weeks ago, I happened to come upon a local radio club's ham radio field day operation while hiking in the woods with my wife. An co-worker from 10 years ago walked up. It turned out he'd just gotten his ham license.

This stuff happens all of the time. Of course it helps that I am somewhat recognizable in tech circles, so people who know of me tend to walk up, but on the other hand I am not that well known.

What are your experiences beyond the nerd filter?

Bruce

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False Open Source Rep. calls for EU Software Patents

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  more than 11 years ago There are some dirty tricks going on around the upcoming EU software patenting vote. See this link.

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Live streams for today's broadcast

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  more than 11 years ago Live streams for today's broadcast can be found here. I think they even have MP3.

Bruce

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Bruce Perens on NPR's Talk of The Nation: Science Friday

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  more than 11 years ago On Friday January 17, Bruce Perens will be interviewed on National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation: Science Friday", with host Ira Flatow. The subject will be the philosophy and business of Open Source software. The interview will take place between 2:20 P.M. and 3:00 EST, that's 11:20 to 12:00 PST. Find your local radio station here . For general information on the program, see the Science Friday site .

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How Slashdot Made Me Famous :-)

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  more than 11 years ago I don't mean "famous" seriously, but I seem to have become somewhat well-known outside of traditional hacker circles. I try to use that to get our issues heard.

It came to me today that some of what drove me to become well-known outside of our little circle was frustration with Slashdot.

I used to post here a lot, and Slashdot was where I sent most of my bulletins first. Then I started to be frustrated with the editorial policies, submissions being nuked in favor of less important stuff, the AC and troll situation, etc. So, I consciously looked around for other venues in which to publish. First, I started Technocrat.net, which was good (and which I intend to make work again) but didn't pick up more than about 5000 readers. Then I started sending stuff to ZDnet. Surprisingly, ZDnet was much more willing to publish my stuff than Slashdot had been, especially since I didn't want to get paid. After a while, I shifted to their sister publication CNET News.com . I also sent some things to The Register and other publications. All were very willing to publish my stuff. It turned out that Slashdot was much more willing to link to stuff that I'd written on CNET than it was to accept my postings directly, not that it mattered as much once that content was on CNET. I guess that fits the format - I guess Slashdot doesn't want to be a producer of original material - they want to be an aggregator of stuff published elsewhere.

During this time, I was also doing a lot of things that drew attention. Forming a VC firm, working for HP, doing my gig with the W3C patent policy board, etc. Being widely read helped me get to do these things, and doing these things made me more widely read. The press started calling me, and I developed good relationships with a lot of reporters. When I left HP, I got a half-page in the New York Times print business section, with a big photo.

I probably wouldn't be getting all of this press were it not for Slashdot "pushing me out of the cradle". I'm not sure, however, that this was good for Slashdot.

Bruce

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NY Times Publishes an Article About Perens Book Series

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  more than 11 years ago Please see this article in the NY Times. Woo Hoo! This is the end of the publicity except for a few magazines with long lead times. We got a good deal of coverage, and IMO it's always a good idea to put the successes of the Free Software movement in front of the people. Hopefully the coverage will inspire others to do free books. I have gotten a lot of writing proposals, but can use more. Please hit my book series page if you would like to write.

Thanks

Bruce

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I Hit The Slashdot Comment Limit!

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  more than 11 years ago I posted 30 replies to the story about my Open Source book series with Prentice Hall PTR. The slashcode stopped me at that point. It says you can only post to Slashdot 30 times in 4 hours. It won't even let me do it as an AC. So, the software has cut off comments from the "Horse's Mouth" in favor of ones from the other end of the horse :-) It doesn't seem productive of information. Moderation of the previous comments in the article should be counted in this limit - I haven't checked, but I could probably have made it a good deal of the way from 0 to the 50 karma cap with those 30 comments.

Bruce

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Answers to your questions about the W3C patent policy

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  more than 11 years ago

From: Pierre Machard
> Do you have any reason to think that the position you defend will
> satisfy Patent holders ?

Some of them have threatened to walk off of W3C in response to even so
mild a position as the draft policy. Nobody thinks they'll really do it.
But your question shows the problem: we can't control their behavior
through the standards organization. We need their cooperation to make
this work. Thus, we can't take a draconian position. The only way around
this is to get legislation, which is a worthy but uphill battle.

From: Nick Phillips
> I presume you've seen Rik van Riel's suggestion as posted
> to one of the SPI lists earlier. In fact it wouldn't surprise me if the same
> things triggered his message as yours, either directly or indirectly.

A number of people have suggested defensive patent pools. I think
I remember doing so in a 1997 article in LinuxWorld.com . The three
problems are:

        1. Getting inventions.
        2. Getting money to file for patents. This is both legal fees to
              format the patent claim (which has to be right if you want to
              be enforcible), and filing fees.
        3. Getting money to file lawsuits. If you can't sue, nobody's going
              to be very interested in your claims.

I think that #1 could be handled by the community, #2 could at least be
started with pro-bono assistance from legal and engineering students, etc.
#3 doesn't have to come until later. If you want to run with the project,
please do so.

From: Wouter Verhelst
> It may not be a bad idea to have patent holders turn to a different
> standards body than people that object to software patents. If there are
> expensive 'standards' from one standards body and free standards from
> another, I feel that people would use the free standards, so that the
> patent holders would lose. Even if they have their own standard.

Well, there are about 100 existing organizations they could turn to,
including IETF (which has a joke of a patent policy IMO) and OASIS. It
would be very easy to do. I don't think making them do that would win
us anything.

From: James Antill
From Bruce:
> > The code that makes use of
> > the patented principle must be under the MIT license, which allows a
> > scope-limited patent license. That may be linked into GPL code and
> > distributed.
>
> How does this work?
> Say I have "xmms", which is GPL code that I didn't write ... and I
> want to implement some w3c std. that contains one of these patents. So
> I do the code as an MIT license, but I'm going to have to link it to
> the GPL'd code ... it's going to be a _derivative work_ ... so the
> code is basically GPL, no matter what I put at the top of the file.

The GPL terms on linking are that all parts of the derivative work must be
under a license with _no_additional_restrictions_ on top of those in the
GPL. The GPL does not prevent you from _removing_restrictions_, as long
as you are the copyright holder on the portion of the code in question.

From: Andre Lehovich
> I've been trying to comment on the draft patent policy.
> The link below -- to approve inclusion of my comments in the
> official archive -- doesn't work for me, returing a 404.

It's breaking for everyone, I think. I notified Danny Weitzner, the Patent
Policy Working Group chair.

Attention anyone whose message doesn't appear here: thanks for writing!
As usual, I am buried in mail and stuff to do, so although I read them
all, I can't answer every message individually.

        Thanks

        Bruce Perens

top

Please Support the W3C Patent Policy Draft

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens writes  |  more than 11 years ago

To All Members of the Free Software and Open Source Community,

For the past two years, I've been working on the W3C patent policy on
your behalf, to make it safe for Free Software to implement W3C standards.
Now, I'm worried that we could lose that fight, not because of the patent
holders, but because of our own community.

There's a long discussion below. I'm asking you to do something once you
read that discussion: Please write to
and tell them something like this (please elaborate - everyone discounts
rubber-stamp comments):

        To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
        Subject: Approve of draft policy - disapprove of software patenting.

        I request that W3C approve the draft patent policy, because it's a
        compromise that protects the right of Open Source / Free Software
        programmers to implement W3C standards.

And you may want to add this:

        I object to software patents, and support efforts to eliminate them
        at the legislative level.

Now, to the discussion.

Three representatives of the Free Software / Open Source community:
myself, Larry Rosen of the Open Source Initiative, and Eben Moglen of
the Free Software Foundation, worked on the W3C patent policy for two
years. We spent between 1/8 and 1/4 of our time on the project for all
of that time, participating in many face-to-face meetings and conference
calls. Across the table were some companies that, I feel, wanted to
"farm" their own patents in W3C standards and would have erected
lucrative "toll-booths" to collect royalties from every implementor of
web standards. If they had their way, we would have been locked
out.

We got you the best deal we could get. It's not everything we want,
and it can't be. The draft policy is at
http://www.w3.org/TR/2002/WD-patent-policy-20021114/ .

The proposed W3C patent policy grants a royalty-free right for everyone
to practice patents that are embedded in the standard by W3C members who
own those patents. It prevents "patent farming", the biggest problem
that faced us. The problem is that the patent grant is limited - it only
applies to code that actually implements the standard. This is called a
"field-of-use" limitation. The problem this creates for the Free Software
community is that other uses of the same patent in our code, for anything
but implementing the standard, could be covered by royalties.

I object to software patents entirely, and many of you do as well. Why,
then, did I (on your behalf) approve of a policy containing that
limitation, and why am I asking you to support it?

The answer is simple. Patent holders won't continue their membership
in W3C if that membership forces them to give up their patent rights
for non-standards-related applications. They will instead move their
standards-making activities to other organizations that allow them to
charge patent royalties on the standards. And we will have lost.

It comes down to what we can compel people to do, and what they won't
stand for. The patent holders want the W3C brand on their standards,
and will give up something for that. If we ask them to give up more,
they'll do without the W3C brand, and we have no way to control what
standards organization they move to. If we wish to fight software patents
outside of standards, I think our only choice is to do so at the legislative
level.

The field-of-use limitation presents special problems regarding the GPL,
because the GPL disallows a field-of-use-limited patent license. There is a
work-around for this. The code that makes use of the patented principle
must be under the MIT license, which allows a scope-limited patent
license. That may be linked into GPL code and distributed. I'm less than
comfortable with this, but my discomfort arises from the basic injustice
of software patents. A work-around is the best we can do in this case.

FSF, by its tenets, was bound to protest the field-of-use-limitation.
I respect that protest, as it is rooted an a belief that I share - that
software patents are fundamentally wrong. However, if the Free Software /
Open Source community comes out against the W3C patent policy, and the
patent holders who want unlimited rights to charge royalties come out
against it, just who will speak for it? The result will be that W3C
will fail to give final approval to the policy, and we will not even have
the limited protection from software patents that we've won. Thus, I
have to ask you _not_ to do what FSF asks this time. Of course, this
disagreement does not diminish my respect of FSF, and I will continue
to work with them as I have on many projects for years.

Thus, I'd like you to write that email now. It's very important that W3C
see support for the draft policy, or we'll be back to the old, bad policy
again. Thanks!

As always, please feel free to call me to discuss this at 510-526-1165
(California time) or write me at bruce@perens.com .

        Thanks

        Bruce Perens

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