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Don't just sit there on your thoughts; let the world know how you feel!
A collection of opinions, rants and writings by a grouchy old cynic. Any facts contained within are accidental. Feedback should be addressed to grouch at edge-op dot org. (Spam bots should have trouble with that, you shouldn't). Except where noted, all writings are my own. Commercial use is expressly prohibited without prior written approval. This includes, but is not limited to, copying to any personal website for which you receive any monetary compensation for click-throughs, counters, referrals or any other means. Duplication for distribution in Adobe PDF format is explicitly prohibited. (PDF does not belong on the web; it's a proprietary format. It's also owned by the company responsible for the arrest of Dmitry Sklyarov under the DMCA. See The Electronic Frontier Foundation .)
As for personal use, hey, go for it, I hope it helps somehow.
Just to start this off right . . .
I will not order goods or services from any website which presents any Microsoft software to the Internet. There is ample evidence in the news that such software is insecure, untrustworthy and easy prey to vandals of all skill levels. There are even commercial websites out there still running MS Windows 98, fer chrissakes! What kind of lame-brain leaves their customers' data that exposed?
So far, I have managed to get by with only 3 exceptions to this rule. Alternatives have been found for 2 of those. I'm still searching for an alternative, online or brick-and-mortar, for the 3rd.
The Debian Developers dedicate Debian 2.2 to Joel 'Espy' Klecker
Tips ( see also: [links] )
"As I always say, people who know Windows *don't* know about computers and operating systems - what they've learned is an arbitrary set of Microsoft abstractions that are subject to change by fiat and have little to do with what the computer is really doing." -- Les Bell
Microsoft's security chief uses Firefox
Some scripts and things I've written to satisfy my laziness. Maybe some of them will help you, too.
I hesitated about letting anybody see these things, but it was pointed out to me that (a) someone with a problem one of these scripts will solve doesn't care about the "elegance" or lack thereof, (b) someone looking for examples probably wants simple ones, and (c) those wanting more elegant solutions can write their own.
There is NO WARRANTY of any kind, either expressed or implied. Use these at your own risk. If you don't edit them, they will most likely damage something.
If the Patriot Act is patriotic, then war is peace,
slavery is freedom, ignorance is strength,
and George Orwell was off by 20 years.
Vanity (some of my stuff scattered on the web):
MS Windows is a pedal car
>"If Windows is a family sedan and basic Linux is an armored car, then Red Hat Linux Desktop is a mainline battle tank."
I just can't see MS Windows as reliable as a family sedan. I've had family sedans go well over 100,000 miles with no unexpected problems and just routine maintenance. This comparison is too kind and forgiving.
MS Windows is more like a cheap toy pedal car in quality; it's just far from cheap. The little plastic and stamped steel models usually last as long as the toddler's interest. A toddler's attention span is about the survival time of MS Windows before someone has to resuscitate it. The pedal car doesn't cost consumers a billion a month, though.
UNIX is the main line battle tank. OpenBSD and the hardened Linux distributions would be armored personnel carriers. Then we have most Linux distributions out-of-the-box being armored cars (there was a time not too many years ago when some distributions came with no doors on the armored car and the keys left in the ignition).
Far back in the midst of a very expensive platoon of rearward facing anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-adware sleazy mercenaries, marching backwards so they can spring into action sometime after an attack occurs, there's the Microsoft pedal car with the Outhouse duct-taped to the back and the big "I'm Exploited!" banner flapping in the breeze from its broken-over radio antenna.
While the renter pedals furiously to try to have some kind of forward progress, throwing money in all directions to keep the mercenaries and the landlord happy, the usual swarm of people with the Mo-money Can Solve Everything tee shirts frantically tries to keep at least 3 wheels at a time attached and sweeps the path desperately to make certain no terrifying pebbles overturn the rickety craft. A mob of hucksters, bell-ringers, pushers and propagandists dances in frenzied, noisy circles of hokum and snake oil all around the entourage to divert the public's attention from the pathetic plight of the fragile hodgepodge of pieces, parts, glue and duct tape masquerading as a vehicle.
Why are so many businesses still duct-taping, gluing, pedalling and tossing money at this pitiful, dangerous, inadequate little demonstration of incompetency?
A business which recognizes the accelerating expansion of free software, and adjusts accordingly, will find more opportunities for profits. A business which recognizes the value of having their source available to developers and testers world-wide can devote less of their resources to rental of basic software, auditing licenses, and fending off license litigation. Those freed resources usually get put into expanding the business, which means more people being paid.
Sorry, I don't have a Microsoft Secret Decoder Ring for your garbled message. Perhaps you neglected to buy their latest one or install the latest service pack or maybe you have a virus or maybe your license has simply expired. In any case, if you want me to be able to read it, try using the "Save As..." option to put it in plain text.
We who use Linux sometimes forget what it is like to face a computer for the first time. Linux gives the newbie the freedom to explore and tinker without the fear of destroying the system with an inadvertent click.
If someone gave you a new toy, but told you if you twist the wrong knob, or push the buttons in the wrong sequence, it would completely fall apart, you might be reluctant to play with that toy. Newbies should be allowed to play with the pretty knobs and buttons without fear of breaking their new toy.
"Where that is not possible, the new policy will provide a framework to assure maximum possible openness based on reasonable, non-discriminatory (RAND) licensing terms."
This negates the rest of the document's relevance to the world wide web, and if implemented, negates the relevance of the W3C as a standards body for the world wide web. There is no such thing as "reasonable, non-discriminatory (RAND) licensing terms." Standards are the framework, the boundary, within which all may play. Open standards are required for open communications. Closed, proprietary, patented methods are useful only for closed communications, which, of necessity, discriminate against all who choose open communications. The world wide web is open and public. Therefore, any method which requires royalty fees and licensing terms cannot become a web standard, regardless of how wide-spread the owner of the method manages to get the method implemented. Either the W3C is a standards body for an open world wide web, or it is an arbitrator of disputes among corporations over their competing closed methods.
We have barred religious favoritism in our government (in our Constitution, at least, if not in practice). Therefore, our government must not consider religion when deciding how to treat marriages. The government's interest in marriage is limited to the impact of marriage on the duties and responsibilities with which we have charged government. Those who favor using government to bar marriages that do not fit their religious beliefs are in actuality opposing our Constitution. They are promoting a theocracy and, unwittingly perhaps, being subversive.
Any marriage which does not serve the interests of government, which are the interests of society, or which does not threaten society, is outside the province of government. Our government must not intrude on such unions based on religious beliefs nor based merely on majority opinion of such unions. It must not promote nor discourage without due cause.
I am still bitter about the "Proposed Final Judgment". Looking back over the intervening time, can you see any signs that it has had any effect at all on "the relevant market"?
The "Final Judgment" was entered on November 12, 2002. It is due to terminate on November 12, 2007. At the time of this writing, 2005, I can see no change in the monopoly due to the "Final Judgment".
The only changes apparent are those brought about by the combination of the susceptibility of Microsoft's software to malicious exploits, the increased tightening of control and invasion of privacy by Microsoft through their End User License Agreements, and the advance of GNU/Linux. The latter provides the software that some people are escaping to, while the former two items provide the incentives for people to escape from Microsoft's software monopoly.
Neither the incentives to seek an operating system outside of the monopoly, nor the relief for people seeking such an operating system outside of the monopoly, are the result of the "Final Judgment". The DoJ, once again, is shown to be completely ineffective in providing relief to the people from the predatory monopoly.
The GNU/Linux operating system is able to provide such relief only because of the determined work of millions of individuals who program, document, test and write about the system, and share their work with the world. That last point is crucial.
No business may dare oppose the Microsoft monopoly for fear of being bankrupted through the use of the monopoly powers. This was what the anti-trust lawsuit was all about. The case was proven. There was and is sufficient evidence showing illegal leveraging of monopoly power to prevent competition rather than engage in competition. The logical outcome of winning the court case should have been some form of punishment for the illegal activity and some form of relief to the market to allow competition to return so that businesses could compete on the value they offer to customers.
Instead, we continue to have an unrepentant, unrelenting monopoly which still has the power to prevent the entry of any business into "the relevant market". It still leverages that monopoly power to expand into other markest, for example, streaming media. The only meaningful competition to the monopoly comes from outside the market. GNU/Linux cannot be ran out of business by Microsoft only because it is not a business. There are businesses which are based upon providing support for users of GNU/Linux, but, if the software itself were not already freely available, no business would dare to try to sell the operating system in competition with the monopoly.
This is as clear an indication that the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Court system has failed as you can get. Over 2 years into the "Final Judgement", nearly 5 years after the "Conclusions of Law" were entered, the Court has yet to "effectively pry open to competition a market that has been closed by [a] defendant['s] illegal restraints." (See Executive Summary filed 11/01/02 [sic] [PDF] ).
A few things to remember:
My 'Tunney' comment, reproduced in full:
Date: 1/26/02 12:30am
Subject: Microsoft Settlement
The "Proposed Final Judgement" in the case of "Civil Action No. 98-1232 (CKK)" appears to be another recipe for failure in a long line of such failures by the Department of Justice with regards to Microsoft. It appears to have no strength with which to interrupt the predatory practices of which Microsoft has been found guilty. It appears to have no ability to restore competition in a market which has been devastated by the illegal leveraging of monopoly power for which Microsoft has been found guilty. It appears completely inadequate to anticipate the future moves Microsoft may make to continue illegally leveraging their existing and expanding monopoly powers.
The provisions of the Proposed Final Judgement appear on the surface to be adequate. However, there are so many exceptions and phrases of "nothing ... shall prohibit" that the settlement is rendered little more than a catalog of past behaviors that the Department of Justice meekly requests that Microsoft not repeat, if it's not too inconvenient for Microsoft. One provision goes so far as to give Microsoft an easy way to circumvent all of the provisions regarding APIs; they only have to tie those APIs somehow to security measures and claim revealing those APIs would compromise security. It should be remembered how Microsoft claimed their browser was a necessary and integral part of the operating system.
Even the definitions are inadequate for they allow much leeway for Microsoft to continue expanding their monopoly into other marketing areas.
The Proposed Final Judgement does little to address the applications barrier to entry. Every provision that prohibits retaliation by Microsoft against OEMs, ISVs, or IHVs, includes loopholes concerning security or intellectual property rights which allow Microsoft an easy side-stepping of the prohibitions. Additionally, nothing is done about the network effects of Microsoft products in creating the barriers to competitors. The data formats of all Microsoft software will continue to be a fearsome weapon preventing the use of any competing product. So long as Microsoft is allowed to hold data hostage to its file formats, the monopoly power is assured and can be leveraged to extend that monopoly in other areas. No competitor may make inroads on a network on which Microsoft has established its lock on the customers data.
Once again, while the Department of Justice picks nits with the past, Microsoft has moved on to other ways of ensuring monopolistic power over computer users. The findings of fact showed how Microsoft effectively eliminated the threat to its monopoly from middleware products. The proposed final judgement does nothing to remedy this, and in fact section III.H. has two exceptions that handily provide the means for Microsoft to extend its monopoly into the server market with ActiveX ties between Microsoft middleware and Microsoft servers. As for Sun's Java, Microsoft is well underway to using its current monopoly powers to supplant Java with .NET and C#, again outpacing the Department of Justice as it has repeatedly in the past.
I do not pretend to know the protocols and fine points of the legal profession, but it looks like the criminal in this case gets off without paying for the crime and gets to define much of the contraints, or lack thereof, placed on the criminal's future actions. I see no punishment, no restitution, no barrier to Microsoft continuing to harm customers, competitors, and the computing industry in general in this proposed final judgement.
<tomas> Toddler Property Rules: <tomas> * If I like it, it's mine. <tomas> * If it's in my hand, it's mine. <tomas> * If I can take it from you, it's mine. <tomas> * If I used it a while ago, it's mine. <tomas> * If it's mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way. <tomas> * If I was thinking about using it in the future, it's mine <tomas> * If I am doing or building something, all the pieces are mine. <tomas> * If it looks like mine, it's mine. <tomas> * If I think it's mine, it's mine <tomas> * If I ... Sorry, wrong file. I got Darl McBrides business plan.
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