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Microsoft Brands WebGL a 'Harmful' Technology

Stephen Samuel Re:Microsoft should know... (503 comments)

It really works well. Given all of the security problems with MS-Windows, if Microsoft calls something 'insecure', it will cause all sorts of CxOs to quake in their boots at the thought.

Just like the way that MS complaints about RPM compatibilities would trigger flashbacks to DLL hell,
or warnings about 'hardware (driver) hell' for Linux would cause panic attacks for specialists who sometimes spent days getting a proper mix of Windows drivers for machines they were building for customers.

etc., etc., etc....

more than 3 years ago

Nokia Issues Profit Warning

Stephen Samuel Re:Kicking themselves yet? (158 comments)

If you're an MS hater, you're not going to be buying Nokia phones because they're moving to MS Windows. If you're an MS lover, you're not going to buy Nokia phones (yet) because they don't yet have Windows on them. If you're MS agnostic, you're not going to buy Nokia phones because the current crop is going to be orphaned a year down the road (actually -- they've already been effectively orphaned).

No matter how you slice it, Nokia comes up a loser until at least the end of the year.

more than 3 years ago

Senior Citizens Lining Up to Tackle Fukushima

Stephen Samuel Re:Inspiring and selfless (242 comments)

The same nobility that inspired these geezers (and i use that term with respect) to volunteer will prevent anyone in government or management from allowing them to go through with it.

Japan is the country which gave us the word "Kamikaze". Nobel self-sacrifice in the name of the greater good is a long honoured tradition there -- much more so than here.

more than 2 years ago

Doctors To Patients: First, Do No Yelp Harm

Stephen Samuel charge the dentist? (581 comments)

You might be able to charge (and sue) the dentist for your time. You booked the appointment, took time off of work traveled to the dentist (if (s)he's not nearby), and the -- all of a sudden -- you're told "Sign away your free speech rights, or all of this preparation is for naught!" It's a complete hardball tactic. It's designed to pressure you into signing something you'd probably have walked away from if you knew before you made the appointment.

more than 3 years ago

Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Persistent Bacteria Go Down

Stephen Samuel Re:Discovered? (166 comments)

Well, it may now turn out that, beyond the direct antibiotic effect of sugar an honey, the sugars in both have the added effect of intensifying the effectiveness of the hospital antibiotics in the patient's system. It could make for an interesting research project for a graduate student somewhere.

more than 3 years ago

NASA Gravity Probe Confirms Two Einstein Predictions

Stephen Samuel Re:Perhaps a compromise? (139 comments)

Natalie Portman immersed in honey would get my attention, well enough. .. and as she moved through the world, you would see the guys dragging along behind her.

more than 3 years ago

NASA Gravity Probe Confirms Two Einstein Predictions

Stephen Samuel Re:I'm tired of Matt Welsh (139 comments)

Are Linux users lemmings collectively jumping off of the cliff of reliable, well-engineered commercial software?

Protip: Say that quote while walking the halls. You will immediately know who your fellow /.ers are by the snickers. If your boss laughs, then you're in trouble.

Well, I'd laugh at that quote -- specifically, the presumptions it implies.

more than 3 years ago

YouTube Founders Acquire Delicious

Stephen Samuel Gotta scan more carefully... (66 comments)

I could have sworn, the first time I read it that they'd been bought by the founders of Facebook, and my first reaction was 'There goes the neighborhood.' I'm much happier now that I've read it properly.

more than 3 years ago

Google's Search Copying Accusation Called 'Silly'

Stephen Samuel click-through or user surveillance? (380 comments)

Normally, when one speaks of tracking click-through, one would expect to have a modified link on a page that, essentially, notifies the source server of the page that they're clicking on a link and then getting redirected to the final destination page (normally an ad, but not necessarily).

What Microsoft is claiming that they're doing here, however is having IE phone home with what a user is doing on a completely unaffiliated page. This, then, raises the question of where else are they tracking what I'm doing? Are they tracking what stories I'm reading on slashdot? are they telling the CIA/MOSAD/KGB when I use a proxy to read Al Jezera? This raises a huge slew of privacy questions about what parts of my browsing history are being tracked in one central place, if I were to use IE as my browser.

Even secure links and proxies become irrelevant if the surveillance is being done from within the browser.

more than 3 years ago

Google's Search Copying Accusation Called 'Silly'

Stephen Samuel Re:Clearly an unbiased voice in this discussion (380 comments)

It's not actually clear, from the discussion, whether or not a user had to follow any of the links from the Google search result, or if Microsoft was simply scraping the top Google search result off of the page and making it their own top 'search' result.

Another thing to note is that, apparently, most search users won't go past the first link, so -- if bing is quietly presenting Google's top result as bing's own top result (as opposed to second, third or last on the page), then they are -- for the most part -- really stealing Google's results because the non-Google results will be irrelevant to most searchers. ... just window dressing.

more than 3 years ago

Google's Search Copying Accusation Called 'Silly'

Stephen Samuel I think that the word is "Plaiarism" (380 comments)

Plagiarism is defined in dictionaries as "the wrongful appropriation, close imitation, or purloining and publication, of another author's language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions, and the representation of them as one's own original work." (wikipedia)

I think that the wikipedia definition pretty much says it. If Bing had put their purloined searches up as "Google top result", with a convenient link back to the Google page they scraped the result from -- then there'd be not be much to snark about. The problem with what they've done is they make it look as if they've independently come to the same conclusion as Google -- and, by implication, that the rest of 'their' results are equally relevant).

more than 3 years ago

New Legislation Would Crack Down On Online Piracy

Stephen Samuel Shades of Russia (350 comments)

That is so incredibly WRONG. Shutting down a site is a form of censorship and should only be allowed with the moderation of the courts. Allowing the courts the ability to lift a ban could easily result in a case like we saw recently in Russia where a site is taken down without just cause and, because of various legal shenanigans it takes months (or even years) before a court order reversing the shutdown is issued.

If prosecutors have a clear case of violation, then let them get a court order (preferably with knowledge of the victim so that they can respond). That way overzealous prosecutors don't cause a chilling effect.

more than 4 years ago

Texting On the Rise In the US

Stephen Samuel Re:Cost (468 comments)

And the nasty thing is that -- despite the fact that txt messages are almost free for cell providers, they recently went to parliament to try and justify raisng the prices because it was 'so costly to provide'. Almost makes me sick.

more than 4 years ago

Texting On the Rise In the US

Stephen Samuel explains twitter & vice versa (468 comments)

This, on one hand, explains why twitter is so popular -- it makes it easier to text to more of your friends.

Twitter, on the other hand, amplifies the number of texts you receive, and gives you more impetus to send to your friends.

more than 4 years ago

Promised Microsoft Tablet 'No Thicker Than Sheet of Glass'

Stephen Samuel Re:great scanner! (352 comments)

Well, given that the display doesn't actually exist, I expect that the object will actually fall through, after which it will be very easy to see where the display is (supposed to be).

Besides which, a 19inch 2400pixel display with one sensor per pixel would only give you a 126dpi scan ... that's not enough for much of anything, these days.

more than 4 years ago

Microsoft To Issue Blanket License To NGOs

Stephen Samuel Re:What about here? (255 comments)

The whole point of this blanket license is so that, if govt tries that trick again in the future, MS can say that all software in question is legally used, without even having to look at it. Hence there would be no grounds for a lawsuit.

Though something tells me that they'll just start looking for pirated Photoshop etc from now on.

Actually, What it seems like they did was that they went to the local MS lawyer and said "There's illegal software on this computer ... RIGHT?

at which point the MS lawyer either blindly says that it's illegal or (at best) prevaricates. 4-8 months later, if the organization manages to prove that everything is legal, they will hopefully get their machines back.

This was easy to do in the past because "everybody knows" that everybody runs windows, and few people in Russia have legal licenses. Now, even if they claim that it's an illegal copy of photoshop, they now have to actually look at the machine first -- or plant the software, which is even more work....

And some people, by now, hopefully know to download GIMP, if they want to stay one step ahead of (corrupt) law enforcement.

more than 4 years ago

Canadian Government Muzzling Scientists

Stephen Samuel Re:Eh? (352 comments)

Scientists have been prevented from considering certain possibilities, and researching in various directions. Given that speaking out on something as trivial as a 13,000 year old flood took days, I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that papers that didn't support the Government's position on more contentious issues have been suppressed.

Actually, if you listen to the comments of some DFO (Department of Fisheries and Oceans) scientists when asked about their thoughts on the (many years) raging 'controversy' over whether or not sea lice and other contaminants have been (drastically) affecting salmon runs their answers (or lack thereof) seem to make it pretty clear that they're not allowed to even think about the answers to those questions.

A few weeks ago, the Canadian Government decided that filling out 'long form' census questions would no longer be mandatory. They declared that Stats Canada scientists had assured them that this would not affect the quality of the data collected. The head scientist of Statistics Canada had to quit his job in order to counter the lies spoken by the Prime minister and his Cabinet.

Given the kind of control that they've taken over what government scientists can say, I have little question that some political hack is going to declare that submitting a paper to a scientific journal about a contentious issue is going to fall under this new policy.

Personally, I think that this is a flagrant violation of scientists' rights to free speech, but that's a matter for the courts to decide.

more than 4 years ago

Steam Prompts OS X Graphics Update

Stephen Samuel Re:Valve... (313 comments)

The GP Post sounds like it's made by a Microsoft astroturfer.

Perhaps the reason why DLL hell isn't a problem that Linux people can solve is that it's a problem unique to Windows..... and Linux people aren't inclined (or even legally allowed to solve problems in Microsoft's Windows code base.

more than 4 years ago



Chinese City Tops Malicious Email List

Stephen Samuel Stephen Samuel writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Stephen Samuel writes "The Chinese city of Shaoxing has earned the dubious honour of being the source of more malicious email (21.3%) than any country, other than, of course, China(28.2%) itself — although Romania came a close second at 21.1%. With the study finding that key targets of the email were 'experts in Asian defence policy and human rights activists,' it may be hard for the Chinese government to plausibly deny involvement. The study was done by Semantic while helping Google investigate suspected hacking attacks."
Link to Original Source

US Activist Faces Felony Charges over Twitter use

Stephen Samuel Stephen Samuel writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Stephen Samuel writes "SteamPunk Magazine author (and, honestly, the inspiration for SteamPunk Magazine) Professor Calamity (Elliot Madison) is facing two felonies for allegedly running a twitter account. To add insult to felony charges, they raided his house in NYC for 16 hours while helicopters flew overhead. Items seized included computers, hammers, fridge magnets, copies of SteamPunk Magazine, "Curious George" plush kids toys, an embroidered picture of Lenin, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs ('martial arts training materials'???:-).

The arrest and search warrants were sealed, but press have had access to some of the details of the incident because Madison has sued the police over the legality of the search and search warrants. Their lawyer has already convinced a judge to put a stop on the police searching of their siezed personal possessions, 'because the raid is absolutely insane'."

Pentagon Bans Google

Stephen Samuel Stephen Samuel writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Stephen Samuel writes "CBC is reporting that The Pentagon has decided to ban google from their sites — but Google isn't getting tied in a knot about it — Mostly because it's physical military sites that Google is being banned from, and Google understands the security implications.

The minor bump occurred after a Google street mapping team asked for (and was given) permission to map one base. When military officials found the pictures, they decided that too much sensitive information could be gleaned from the and decided to have a friendly talk with officials from the website. According to one military spokesperson, "Google was very appreciative of us letting them know that we had a concern.""

Link to Original Source

MS Manufacturing Consent to OOXML fast-track

Stephen Samuel Stephen Samuel writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Stephen Samuel writes "In Spain, Microsoft appears to be fighting desperately to make it look like they have wide-ranging support for the OOXML fast-track. The story surprised Groklaw's PJ enough that she asked for translators to make sure that she correctly understood what had happened. Apparently, technicians for the Spanish region of Andalusia had written a letter which espoused a preference for ODF, but expressed a willingness to provide technical support in the examination of document standards generally — including Microsoft's OOXML documentation.

Shortly before a meeting to vote on Microsoft's proposal, Microsoft sent off a letter with carefully chosen tidbits of Andalusia's letter designed to make Andalusia's support of ODF look like support for OOXML. Andalusia's technical team was apparently so miffed by this willful misrepresentation of their stance that they wrote an official complaint to the president of the national technical committee denouncing the misrepresentation, and re-iterating (emphasizing, even) their lack of support for OOXML."

Skype Guilty of GPL Violation.

Stephen Samuel Stephen Samuel writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Stephen Samuel writes "According to an article on wordpress.com, Skype was recently found guilty of violating the GPL in Germany. The court in the case ruled that Skype violated the GPL because they didn't provide users with a copy of the GPL (only a paper with links). They were also found in violation because the source code was only made available on The Internet, while the phone cannot be delivered on the 'net(!). SMC networks is the company that manufactured the phone, but Skype was sued because they were actually distributing it.

Given that Germany was once considered the soft underbelly of the GPL, this bodes ill for those who think that the GPL can't be enforced. Quite to the contrary, this case makes Germany the soft underbelly of GPL providers because Skype is the first non-german company to be sued in Germany (where lawsuits are faster and cheaper than the US) for GPL violations."

Linspire/MS Agreement Useless to Users - Groklaw

Stephen Samuel Stephen Samuel writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Stephen Samuel writes "Groklaw host PJ has disected the 'patent peace' agreement between Linspire and Microsoft, and has determined that What Linspire Agreed To is next to useless for many users.

"You can't share the software with others, pass it on with the patent promise, modify your own copy, or even use it for an "unauthorized" purpose, whatever that means in a software context. You must pay Linspire for the software, but then the "covenant" says to use Linux, you must also pay Microsoft. That payment doesn't cover upgrades. Linspire said it was absorbing the initial fees, but I don't know about upgrades. New functionality means you lose your coverage or presumably must pay again."
The agreement also doesn't cover various games, 'business software', GPL V3 software, server software and various other types of software (from Linspire or elsewhere), including, "other excluded products". It also allows Microsoft to interrogate you a la their normal Window EULA. ... Oh, and Microsoft can change or drop the agreement any time they want to, so you're really only safe until Microsoft decides that they really want to sue you (at which point you will be unable to get upgrades or new software without exposing yourself to their patent claims).

See the article for full details. I'm going back to my Ubuntu system."

Stephen Samuel Stephen Samuel writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Stephen Samuel writes "The CBC is reporting that Star Trek actor James Doohan ("Scotty") achieved his hopes of having his ashes launched into space when a package containing some of his ashes, ashes of Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper and about 200 other people were carried into sub-orbital space by a 6 metre (20') rocket. The rocket was launched by UP Aerospace from "Spaceport America", a commercial spaceport being developed in the southern New Mexico desert."



MS Expat: Linux is 50 man-years away from world domination.

Stephen Samuel Stephen Samuel writes  |  more than 8 years ago After 10 years at Microsoft with less than "10 minutes with any Open Source code till I left Microsoft-which is actually very typical for MS employees.", this expat left Microsoft and spent a year using Linux (mostly Umbutu). It was a bit of a shock. To be precise, he "had an epiphany that Linux on the desktop is 99.999% ready to go. Linux is lean, stable, polished and extremely rich. All of the pieces needed for world domination on the desktop are there."

His back of the envelope calculation is that Linux is about 10,000 bugs away from being fully world-domination ready -- or about 50 man-years -- and some of those bugs are due to lack of support from device manufacturers.


Is Sony a beachhead?

Stephen Samuel Stephen Samuel writes  |  more than 9 years ago The head of the RIAA has mentioned that Sony isn't the only company putting malware onto their CDs. The question, then, is: Should we be using Sony as a beachhead to get the public up in arms about what the media companies are doing, and planning to do with our privacy, viewing rights and purchaser rights?


FOX FUD's Massachusetts decision

Stephen Samuel Stephen Samuel writes  |  more than 9 years ago Groklaw has a nice deconstruction of the recent FOX FUD about The Commonwealth of Massachusetts' decision to move to an OpenDoc standard. The fud takes the form of an editorial by James Prendergast, executive director of Americans for Technology Leadership, the organization that was responsible for sending microsoft-friendly 'grassroots' letters to Utah's then Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.

The letter spouts the usual Microsoft-campaign FUD about the decision purportedly locking out 'market forces' (read: Microsoft, who is threatening to not support the format), costing the Commonwealth more money (ignoring the cost of updating to Office-Vista) and various other pieces of half-truth and misdirection.

For those who are interested, I also have my own rant on evaluating Microsoft Office by Microsoft's own criterion.


Stephen Samuel Stephen Samuel writes  |  more than 10 years ago In comments about the SCO/IBM lawsuit, some people keep bringing up that IBM's history as a 'good corporate' citizen is (at best) spotty, and that we may not be well off to depend on them as the front man for the Open Source/GNU community. This is far from being a trivial point.

Back in the '70s, when IBM ruled the mainfraim computer world like Microsoft now rules the PC Computer world, they pretty much invented the idea of using FUD to keep customers in place. Richard Stallman's principles on closed source as a weapon to use against your customers arose in the context of (and probably in response to) IBM's treatment of customers and rivals... A treatment that is echoed in Microsoft's activities today.

Is IBM a paragon of the Open/Free Source movements? no. On the other hand to the extent to which they take on, accept, and promote the principles of the Open/Free Source communities, they should be encouraged to continue doing so. The should also be discouraged from activities at odds with our principles.

The thing here is to not depend on IBM to carry the Open Source community. Just about any corporation is the the equivalent of a meta-psychopath. It's the nature of the legal entity. We can be thankfull that SCO has decided to fire the first big volley of the Open Source war at IBM -- a company quite capable of absorbing and returning that kind of fire. We can also use that situation to our advantage, but that shouldn't stop us from holding IBM to account if (and when) they violate Open and Free Source principles

This is where the US fell down with the US and Osamma. The USA allowed, supported and even trained these people to do things that were against the (overt) principles of the country. The CIA trained Osamma in the terrorist tactics that he's now using against the west -- they knew that he was a psychopath when they did it. It could be said that that's why they traind him. They also provided much of Iraq's WMD technology. During that same period, the US gave only the most tepid support to Nobel Laurates and other advocates of peacefull tactics and human rights. Then, the US ignored international law and widespread disagreement in chosing the timetable and terms of an invasion of Iraq. Given that history, it's no surprise that the US is now mired in a nasty and violent uprising against them. Few people in Iraq trust the US's motives and tactics, and rightly so.

You very much reap what you sow. To that end, I agree with SUN questioning RedHat on the "openness" if their most recent corporate tactics. I may com to a different conclusion, but I agree with asking the quesiton. It's important that we don't lose sight of our principles in promoting our goals. The fact that one corporation or another is the current darling of the Open Source / Free Source communities shouldn't stop us from questioning them about things that they are doing that go against our principles.

"What good does it do to gain the whole world if you lose your soul" applies as much much in the social and political world as it does in the personal/religious world. The "souls" being spoken of may be very different in the two contexts, but the principle remains sound.


particle/wave duality explanation

Stephen Samuel Stephen Samuel writes  |  more than 10 years ago The home parallel universe test article got me thinking..

It's a fun explanation, but I think that the anti-particle thing is a bit odd. It doesn't pass Ocam'z razor test.

On the other hand it got me thinking: Perhaps an explanation for the quantum problem really is a parallel universe, but what's hsppening is that the photons are essentially 'phansing' in and out of the parallel universe. It's the phasing of the particles which determine their interaction. The Photons that 'arrive' at the dark bands are simply consistently in a 'dark' phase (i.e. in the alternate universe and, thus, non-interacting).

This would allow photons to keep their particulate state, and simultaneously explains their wave features.

For further explanation "Parallel universe" ~= extra dimensions.


Post seperation Command Module Maneuvering

Stephen Samuel Stephen Samuel writes  |  more than 11 years ago In response to The Return of Apollo? :

The article says that the Crew Return Vehicle would have to land near the west coast because the Service (Propulsion) Module would need to splash down to the west of the Command Module.

I sugges that this is completely unnecessary. I see no reason why you couldn't supply the Service Module with enough internal smarts to be able to separate, maneuver, and then re-boost itself so that it can come down anywhere that you want it to.

The thought that the SM becomes a dumb rock after separation forgets the fact that you can now fit far more computer intelligence onto something the size and weight of a large wristwatch than Mission control had available on the ground during the Apollo missions. It would now be very easy to put the needed smarts into a Service Module to allow it to drop itself wherever you wanted it to.


Is the SCO code even copyrightable?

Stephen Samuel Stephen Samuel writes  |  more than 11 years ago Looking at that chunk of malloc code, it is extremely functional. It is a very straightforward and minimal implemetation of first-fit memory allocation from a free pool.

static struct ( size_t m_size, char *m_addr } *chunk;
While(there are more chunks){

  • if the current chunk is at least as big as we need,{
    • take what we need out of the chunk
      point the pool pointer to the rest of the chunk
      adjust the size indicator.
      if we're using the entire chunk,{
      • move this node to the end of the list.
        # (so it doesn't block the search) #

      } #endif
      return the pointer


# couldn't find a big enough chunk
return(NULL) # error

It would be pretty difficult to produce a tight version of this algorithm without a high degree of duplication. I'd say you might as well cut and paste, because about the only changes that I can see making in a tight implementation would be to change the variable names. You'd be lucky to find 4 meaningful permutations of this algorithim, once you tighten up the code for the kernel.

Try to implement the pseudo code above, and see just how far away you end up.

BTW, this is not part of a block of duplicate code.. This is pretty much the entire thing. If that's the best that they can find, then they're SOL.

If you're not on somebody's shit list, you're not doing anything worthwhile.


abuse.net via DNS

Stephen Samuel Stephen Samuel writes  |  more than 11 years ago Abuse.net is a nice idea.... sending an email to some.domain@abuse.net will cause abuse.net to look up thee email address for the appropriate domain (some.domain) and forward the email there. (postmaster-abuse@some.domain)

A slightly diferent way to accomplish this would be to make the abuse.net data available via DNS...

some.domain.mailbase.abuse.net could return a TXT record saying 'postmaster-abuse@some.domain'. A mailer built to support this method would then send the email directly to postmaster-abuse@some.domain These lookups could be cached at various DNS servers, thus distributing the load on abuse.net for oft-(ab)used domains.

This does require specially crafted mailers, but -- as the method becomes more widespread, it could noticably reduce the load for abuse.net. This can be more generically viewed as a way to store a distributed per-domain database of relatively arbitrary data.


OS authors need to register their copyrights.

Stephen Samuel Stephen Samuel writes  |  more than 11 years ago This article from lawyers.com indicates the necessity of Open Source authors registering their copyrights if they wish to have maximal rights to enforce their GPL copyrigts. Apparently, collective copyrights (i.e. on a magazine, or Linux) would not constitute a proper registration of the constituant parts (e.g. A single magazine article or Kernel module).

If people want to hang SCO by the balls, then we'll need to register the copyrights on our many versions of software -- and this would include deriviative copies as separate entities.


SCO -- the score so far.

Stephen Samuel Stephen Samuel writes  |  more than 11 years ago

  • SCO says it's their code in the Linux Kernel
  • They say it's IBM's fault.
  • Not only that, but it's code written by IBM.
  • SCO says they have the right to control release because it was once attached to an SYSV system
  • They have also assured their (other) licensees that they stil own their code that they inserted into their versions of UNIX, it's just that SCO can stop them from distributing it.
  • They say that the GNU license on the code is invalid because the GPL states that it can only be placed by the copyright owner
  • But if IBM Still owns the code, and they're the ones who placed it, then the GPL is valid (It's just that SCO gets to sue IBM for releasing it withiout their say-so .. but subsequent users are still OK).
  • SCO is still distributing Caldera Linux -- including kernel source.
  • This means that they're distributing it under the GPL, with a GPL license on it and IBM (the owner of the code) has also explicitly released it... Seems like everybody in this loop has given their permission -- either explicit or implict.
  • If their license is really this nasty (and they're ambushing customers with things like this), I expect that a lot of other businesses are going to abandon their Unix license as soon as they can.
  • It's pretty unlikely that their long stretch claim to owing everything ever put into AIX is going to win.
  • Some people now think that they're going to try and (essentially) blackmail people into paying them for any copies of Linux that didn't come direct from Caldera/SCO (even if it came indirectly from them).
  • This whole mess places them in violation of the GPL and opens them up to some nasty copyright suits.
  • Until this started, SCO looked like it was just going to fade into nonexistence.
  • If this fails, not only will their old UNIX funding sources dry up, but nobody is going to want to buy Caldera, either. They could also end up with millions (billions) in legal bills.

My reading of this is that they've started with a weak case, shot themselves in the foot, and are still claiming that they own the world. it really reminds me of Monty Python's infamous Black Night.

If I knew when (not if) SCO's stock is going to tank, I'd issue a shell-sort order today.


And you thought the GPL was viral?

Stephen Samuel Stephen Samuel writes  |  more than 11 years ago From the latest developments in the SCO/IBM battle, it now appears to be the case that SCO is claiming that it's UNIX licenses are virulently viral. It's claiming that the SYSV code that have been illegally transferred to Linux include Non-Uniform Memory Architecture (NUMA) and Read-Copy-Update (RCU) technology. Thing is, that that code doesn't currently exist in their own versions of Unix, so how do they claim ownership?

Their claim, it would seem, comes from license terms in the old AT&T Unix licenses under which the licensees deeded back to AT&T licenses which deeded all derivative works back to AT&T. Although I haven't seen a copy of these precise license terms, I can see a few ways in which such language might be read.

The most reasonable would be that AT&T was to get back the rights to patches to their own code. I.E. If I were to fix a problem with the cat command, they would have the right to distribute those bug fixes and updates to other licensees. This would not, however, include the rights to new code developed whole, cloth by licensees. Under this reading, SCO would clearly not have any rights to thing like RCU and NUMA code that, as I understand it, are still not in SCO's own version of Linux.

A second reading is that the language does extend to included code but is, in fact, a non-exclusive license. In other words, AT&T might have been gained the right to include customer improvements of all sorts in it's own code, but the customers who developed such code would still have general ownership and control. This would actually be along the lines of what the GPL requires, except for the face that the code would only be available to the UNIX code owner and not the public generally -- although AT&T (and now SCO) would have the right to make that code available to the general public or just to specific parties.

The nastiest reading (and the only reading in line with SCO's current legal maneuvering) would be that SCO has both rights to and control over anything that is included in a licensee's 'derivative' version of Unix. SCO, for all intents and purposes, is claiming to own anything that has ever touched licensed code.

Although SCO is apparently currently claiming that licensees still own the copyright the only reading of SCO's claims to RCU is that they can prevent such code from being used anywhere other than in UNIX -- and even that might be subject to keeping the author's UNIX license up to date. In my world, this is effectively ownership of the code. Let me put it another way: SCO is claiming that they own AIX -- pretty much lock, stock and barrel.

Now some people might claim that this is the same problem as exists in the GPL, but that's not quite true. Although the GPL requires someone who distributes GPL'ed software to license any additions or modifications to the GPL'ed code, the author of the new code still owns it. They are free to relicense it, reuse it and do pretty much whatever they want with it, as long as they don't limit the GPL rights of anybody who receives it under the GPL. SCO, on the other hand is suing IBM for re-purposing their own code.

By the way, this isn't just IBM's problem. If SCO succeeds at this argument, they won't just own AIX. They could also own IRIX (SGI), HPUX(HP), Ultrix(HP, nee DEC) Solaris (SUN) and pretty much any other version of Unix created by a company that signed a similar license. In fact, they could soon end up owning Windows, as well (Depending on the terms of their recently inked license)..

SCO hasn't just picked a fight with IBM and the Linux community. Although it may not be clear yet, they've declared war against the entire UNIX universe. They've grabbed a tiger by the tail and I expect that they're hanging on for dear life.


SCO source still available

Stephen Samuel Stephen Samuel writes  |  more than 11 years ago Although SCO has discontinued selling Linux, they still have updates available From theif FTP site. From a quick look, they don't seem to have any binaries available.. They're only distributing source. At the moment I see, among other things, 4 versions of the kernel source. I only downloaded kernel-source-2.4.19.SuSE-133.nosrc.rpm.

Now, IANAL, but if the source code contains any of the code that they claim to be suing IBM for, then they could have a problem on their hands. This really seems to puts a hole in the claim that this stuff is being distributed against their will.

A second problem for them is that -- given their letters to various companies, threatening to sue them for using Linux -- it would be pretty easy to argue that they're attempting to limit the distribution and use Linux, generally. This would mean that they're in violation of the GPL (as aptly pointed out by at least one "uppity" kernel author).

Given that they've already been warned about this, I'd say that they're setting themselves up for quite some bitchslap. If other US-based Linux developers want get in on the legal monkeypile (a.k.a. class-action lawsuit), they might be well off to register their copyrights with the Library of Congress to maximize the impact.

If it makes any difference to IBM's lawyers, my GPG signature of the SCO kernel I downloaded is:
Version: GnuPG v1.2.1 (GNU/Linux)

(Check my info page for my public key)


Stephen Samuel Stephen Samuel writes  |  more than 11 years ago In the mozillaquest article on the SCO/Linux lawsuit, http://mozillaquest.com/Linux03/ScoSource-02_Story03.html

They mention that cloning and copying are two different things. In the sidebar:

"In biology, clone usually means an exact copy."
"A copy is not a clone. I guess programmers misused biological terminology.

In biology, a clone is NOT an exact copy. This is a misperception which is mostly in the public press, but not in the technical.

The copying in a clone is only in the DNA (this presumes that the cloning process is exact -- something not yet achieved with any advanced creatures). Although built from the same DNA, creatures can still come out quite different. One obvious example that I can think of is two cloned cats -- same DNA, but their markings came ut remarkably different.

The premise of 'Twins': that two cloned creatures could (mainly as a result of environmental differences) grow up to be entirely disparate creatures (played respectively by Arnold Schwartzeneger and Danny DeVito) may seem far-fetched, but it's not entirely out to lunch. Identical DNA is necessary for an exact duplicate creature, but it is *not* sufficient.

Once you understand that a creature's DNA indicates their basic plan and even functionaly but does not dictate entirely who they are, then I would say that the computer universe's use of the word 'clone' is actually much closer to the technical reality than many people might think.


Buffy a drama ?? That's a laugh!

Stephen Samuel Stephen Samuel writes  |  more than 12 years ago In noting that Buffy the Vampire slayer was, once again denied an Emmy nomination, I notice one thing: Buffy -- The Musical was supposedly nominated for something like "best writing in a dramatic series". I find this rather strange, because I've always seen Buffy as a comedy, not a drama. I think that some brain-sucked bureaucrat from another dimension has concluded that, because the show has no laugh-track, it can't possibly be a comedy.

Now, granted: There are fight scenes, conflict, serious plot lines and arcs and heart-wrenching dramatic moments (like when Buffy comes home to find her mother motionless and cold on the couch). But the truth of the matter is that comedy is wrapped tightly into most plots; Comedic moments are often either the first or second scene in any show; and the dialogue regularly cracks me up.

background For those of you who don't know the series, it's set in Sunnydale -- A quiet University town of, at most, 100,000 people where the nightlife is dead (or, rather undead); magic spells usually work (work, here, includes backfires); safe sex means 'anything but hickies'; people mysteriously die or go missing at about half the national average rate (as in: Sunnydale is responsible for the other half); and nobody seems to consider it strange that -- despite the town's (necessarily) young population -- the Sunnydale Times has three sections: News, Sports and obituaries.

OK, I'll help -- but if the world doesn't end, I'll need a note for class.
-- Cordelia

Well-- nobody, that is, except for Buffy, her compatriots, and a top secret military task force that spends a season trying to take advantage of the area's unique ,uhm, wildlife.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that the show has it's plot twists and dramatic moments -- chases, fight scenes, battles and the occasional permanent death of a reasonably major character (Buffy, herself is getting rather tired of dieing). The action will, however, be sacrificed to a higher (comedic) purpose -- such as when Buffy was working for a fast food chain. An attacking vampire -- repelled by the smell of 'Ode de Hamburger' -- stopped the fight mid-swing, held his nose and scampered off, leaving Buffy entirely distraught.

Like most good comedies, Buffy can brilliantly combine social commentary and comedy. For those who missed the social double entendre of Zander and Cordelia having sex physically "in the closet", the relationship between Willow and Tara was a bit harder to ignore as an opportunity for social statement. Most brilliantly was when the Watchers' Council was inquisiting them:

Examiner: So tell me a bit about your relationship..
Willow/Tara: Oh, we're just friends. Real good friends. Extremely close friends... Girlfriends, actually. As in Lesbian girlfriends. Lesbian lover girlfriends. Yeah! Lovers!. We're very much in love.
(as they tag-team this answer, they slowly go from sitting close to each other for protection/comfort, to holding hands and being clearly affectionate. In the space of less than 30 seconds they managed to run the full gamut from in the closet to boldly affectionate.)
Examiner:Your relationship to Buffy?
Willow:Oh! We're just... friends.

Even Buffy's seasonal relationships turn out to be opportunites for comedy.

Buffy:Dammit Spike! You're a vampire! I should be putting a stake through your heart, not breaking it!
SpikePretty much the same thing, if you ask me...(1)

After Spike and Buffy have a secret Tryst under a tree, Willow meets Buffy and comments that "it must have been a pretty rough fight", noting the grass stains on Buffy's back. (insert lame coverup response here).

(yes, Buffy and her friends seem to be a highly sexualized group -- but that's actually realatively realistic for both their age and their situation. People in a war zone seem to have a reputation for being more sexually active than usual. This makes much sense from a dariwnistic point of view ("use it before you loose it"). Buffy's group isn't just in a war zone, they're on the front. )

Similar things could be said for the humorous comments that sometimes pass between the characters. Sunnydale nominally exists in the normal world. The characters know that the rest of the world exists and that it is them and their situation that's abnormal.

Buffy: I was really hoping that I'd finally fallen in love with a normal boy from small town Minnesota.
Ryan: I am a normal boy.
Buffy: Well, maybe for this town you are, but I'm not grading on a curve.

Now, for those of you who think that I'm arguing to have Buffy go more to the Drama side of the scale or more to the blatent Comedy side -- I'm not. I'm simply arguing that, given it's rather unique status, the people who promote Buffy for awards need to be responsible for the fact that, when a show has one foot firmly planted in the comedy genre, it's rather hard for some people to also take it seriously as a drama.

I think that Buffy would have a much better chance at awards like the Emmy if producers put it forward in the comedy stream. Yes, I realize that it should also win in the drama stream as well but, until people can take it seriously as a comedy (excuse the oxymoron), they're not going to be able to take it seriously as a drama, either.

(1) A (probably) fictional quote that gives a sense of the relationship. (back)

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