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Getting beyond Brad's Paradox

The always provocative Brad Templeton, who hung out with a large cadre of geeks at the Internet Identity Workshop (IIW, or ) last week, has some cautions about new identity systems, even if they are all "user-centric". These cautions lie in a paradox: "The easier it is to give somebody ID information, the more often it will be done. And the easier it is to give ID information, the more palatable it is to ask for, or demand it." The italics are his.

Here he hits on the problem of market power asymmetries (vendors strong, customers weak) that have been with us for the whole Industrial Age, and are with us still. I think we have a way to overcome those, and that Brad's Paradox may provide exactly the conceptual hurdle we need to see before we can make progress.

So let's start with Brad's explanation: more>>

Will we see any more Linux System Administration books in the future?

A reliable source says the days of Linux sysadmin books have ended. If you can barely sell 5,000 copies, then why bother? Programming books continue to sell at a fast pace, so you can guess where job demand in IT has gone. more>>

Hey Microsoft, Sue Me First

I bought the domain name HeyMicrosoftSueMe.org at the suggestion of Marcel Gagné after posting a blog entry on the topic. The idea was to ask Linux users to join me in calling Microsoft's bluff. Let's get the patent infringement claims tried in court and get this over with. Several people talked me out of it. Fortunately, a lawyer named Christian Einfeldt had the same idea and followed through. Here's a copy of Marcel's entry on the topic from his own blog, with a link to the "Sue me first Microsoft list" in case you want to add your own name. Christof, if you're reading this, you're welcome to the domain name HeyMicrosoftSueMe.org. more>>

Drivers, patents and other threats, yawn.

Let's see how long have I used Linux as a desktop? Hmmm. Over 10 years? That's right. And the first issue I had at that time was finding an easy way to get to my ISP. The second issue at the time was the lack of a graphical web browser. Then Netscape produced an unsupported one that worked fine. more>>

Remembering Stormix

Reminiscing about my days at Progeny has me thinking back even further to Stormix Technologies. As a commercial venture, Stormix was a disaster, with an especially virulent strain of dot-com fever infecting everyone. Still, I'll always remember it as my first professional introduction both to free software and general management practices, as well as a snapshot of a surreal time in technology history. more>>

Ruby in May 2007

May has been a busy month in the Ruby world, and while I’ve been busy with work, Erlang, and other commitments I’ve tried hard not to lose track of things. Here are some of the things that have caught my eye. more>>

Ardour 2.0 : A Brief Practical Introduction

The eagerly-awaited Ubuntu Studio has been released, adding another entry into the expanding list of multimedia-optimized Linux distributions. I haven't had a chance to try it yet, but interested readers can peruse some installation screenshots or check out the latest news and information on the Ubuntu Studio Wiki. I plan to review the distro in a future column, along with an update on the latest version of the venerable PlanetCCRMA, but in this entry I'm focused on another very exciting new release.

Ardour 2.0 is now available for download. This version is a significant improvement over the 0.99 series (1.0 was never released), with many new features and enhancements to performance and stability. The following article profiles the new Ardour as I employed it for three projects, all involving the program in the processes of composition and arranging as well as the more typical tasks of recording and editing. I've described each project in some detail, and each description includes a link to the final audio output.

more>>

Remembering Progeny

Two weeks ago, I heard that Progeny Linux Systems of Indianapolis had closed its doors for the last time. The end was a long time coming – in fact, six years longer than I predicted. All the same, I paused last week for a bit of nostalgia. Working for the company in 2000-01 gave me my first sense of my potential and gave me a sense of self-worth at a time when I badly needed it. more>>

The Microsoft FUD Campaign vs. the Customer

Almost everything that can be said has been said about the latest moves by Microsoft to create Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) about Linux. Countless pundits and analysts have pointed out that Microsoft threats are toothless. Some have noted that Microsoft has singled out Linux and OpenOffice, the biggest threats to its monopoly on operating systems and office suites. Surely Microsoft could claim that the *BSDs infringe on similar patents if not the same ones. But the *BSDs do not pose as great a threat to the company. Others have pointed out that Microsoft would be insane to pull an SCO and sue its own customers. Still others have noted that IBM and/or OIN could respond to a patent war with a massive retaliation in patent infringement claims. I have no doubt that Microsoft has lifted a lot of GPL code (more likely algorithms) for Windows, which would prevent Microsoft from following through with its threats. To do so would require that Microsoft open its own code to scrutiny. The list goes on, and others have covered the angles very well. There is one perspective I haven't yet seen, at least not the way I propose to deal with it. This perspective follows below. more>>

Meeting Microsoft's Patent Threat

So, the shape of the Great Battle begins to emerge. As reported by Fortune magazine, Microsoft's general counsel, Brad Smith, reckons free software infringes on no less than 235 of the company's patents: more>>

Where is Phil Hughes?

Well, that's easy to answer but, more important what is he doing? And why? Well, here is a not so quick update. more>>

The Rise of Functional Languages

Functional Languages seem to be pushing for the title of the next cool thing. Talks and tutorials about them are starting to show up in conferences and conventions, books about them are hitting the shelves, people are even asking about talking about them in blogs and mailing lists devoted to some of the current hot languages. more>>

Something's Happening Here

It's a relaxed entry this time, an update on some recent happenings in the Linux audio world. Without further preamble, let's take a look at some of the good things going on there.

more>>

LDAP -Time to Leave Home, Young Man

If you have followed my articles on LDAP, you know we began looking at objectClasses in the last installment back in March. Since that time, I haven't written much more about directory servers. I began contemplating whether or not to continue the LDAP series because things have changed. Let me explain: more>>

OpenOffice.org Calc function tools

Once you are comfortable with inputting functions and formulas, the next step is to learn how to automate the processes. Calc includes over half a dozen tools to help you manipulate functions and formulas, ranging from features for copying and reusing data to creating subtotals automatically to ones for varying information to help you find the answers that you need. These tools are divided between the Tools and Data menus, according to no apparent logic. more>>

Show Us the Code

As I've noted before, I am something of a connoisseur of Microsoft's FUD against open source, in part because I believe each successive FUD-flavour of the month gives important hints about the evolution of the thinking and strategy within the company. The latest development in this area, which revolves around patents, is no exception – not least because I think people are drawing the wrong conclusions from it. more>>

Mike and Tux, sitting in a tree...

Michael Dell Runs Ubuntu, Jim Thompson reports. Sure 'nuff:

The key excerpt... more>>

OpenOffice.org Calc functions, part 2: Working with formulas

A formula is a spreadsheet function entered in a cell, complete with its arguments. They're one of the two or three major applications that first spearheaded the acceptance of the personal computer in the 1980s, and the main tools of advanced spreadsheet use. more>>

Thinking Past Platforms: the Next Challenge for Linux

In my first SuitWatch Newsletter, on September 5, 2002, I wrote this: "A funny thing happened to Linux on the way to World Domination: it succeeded. That's the good news; the bad news is its success has hit a few hitches, and it's unclear how long those hitches will last."

The biggest hitch — dominating PCs the way Linux has dominated servers and embedded devices — is still around, almost five years later. And it will remain a hitch as long as hardware OEMs continue to follow Microsoft rather than lead the marketplace.

That's the gauntlet I threw down last Wednesday, in my last SuitWatch. And now I'm throwing it down here. I want to challenge the big hardware OEMs — Dell, HP, Lenovo, Sony and the rest of them — to break free of the only form factors Microsoft will let them make, and start leading the marketplace by making make cool, interesting, fun and useful stuff that isn't limited by any one company's catalog of possibilities. Stop making generic stuff. Grow greener grass beyond the Windows fences. Stop thinking of Linux as "generic" and "a commodity". Start looking at how building only Windows PCs forces you to make generic, commodity products. more>>

Programmer Deathmatch II

Last fall, Berkeley Data Systems ran a "Programmer Deathmatch", offering a $10,000 prize to the one programmer who successfully navigated 3 timed rounds of programming competition. (You can read my write up of the event here and here.) more>>

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