September 2008 Archives

Well, I haven't posted something about Fedora's fifth anninversary yet. I'm being assaulted with media about Google turning ten. Let me share my thoughts on this after more than a few beers, a couple Long Island Iced Tea's, and a nice coffee at the local Starbucks in Hoboken (where I'm writing this)

So Google's tenth anniversary - good for them. I think they have long departed from their moto of "do no evil" however. They have filed for patents on various things (which I should have better commented on at the time of publication) about things like a datacenter on an island (for which their is previous evidence of prior art, be it public or private) , a fee-free system of mobile communications, which the wireless providers here in the states have already implemented, or a variety of other things which are either not "novel", or other companies have already implemented.

I personally don't feel that any of this represnets patentable ideas. Maybe I'll take this space, that being said, to tell you of what I think of patents in general.

Software patents are evil. End all, be all, that's all I have to say on the topic - there's nothing unique about what they have developed.

Instead, where patents should be applied is hardware and pharmaceuticals. I firmly believe that companies like Pfzier have invested millions or billions into the drugs that they market. Intel has invested millions into R&D of the products that they produce. So has AMD. I don't believe that those investments should be rendered useless. Instead, I think that those investments should be rewarded, as does probably any reasonable person.

However, 2+2=4. No human could deny that. However, that's exactly what the people and firms that attempt to acquire software patents represent as original, creative thinking. A whole bunch of hogwash if you me.

While not exactly the concept of 2+2, obvious concepts have certaintly been patented. This MUST st0p.

Yesterday was Software Freedom Day, and I attended the celebration hosted by the Lime Group here in NYC. Also sponsoring the event was the Software Freedom Law Center. Thanks!

I went wearing my lovely new Fedora Ambassador shirt, and got lots of comments that folks loved the shirt, talked a little about Fedora with them, and I think did a fairly good job representing Fedora there.

One of the most interesting conversations that I had was with a gentleman from the New York City Office of Emergency Management, talking about an open source application within the city government, called Sahana. This application was initially developed after the Asian tsunami of 2004 to aid in disaster relief and coordination.

The city has modified the software to aid not in post-disaster relief, but rather pre-disaster preparedness. NYC is the city that is third-most at risk in the country for a catastrophic hurricane (after New Orleans and Miami). In the event of a hurricane, the city has 500 shelters designated, where 68,000 trained city workers would have to go in order to handle about 605,000 evacuees, and attend to their basic needs. This system helps to make sure that occurs, track the evacuees from the time that they enter the shelter to when they leave, and related functions. Upstream Sahana has a demo instance at demo.sahana.lk
The conversation also brought up the point of interoperability. Other agencies use proprietary software, sometimes multitudes of different packages, all of which have incompatible data formats. NYC is responsible for operating the shelters for 7 days - 2 days before a storm and 5 days after. After that, another agency comes in and takes over. The records for the evacuees, which already exist in an open electronic format in Sahana, cannot be consumed by the other agency. The records must be transferred ON PAPER.

This is an excellent example of where interoperability is key, and propietary systems have hindered it. It's really a sad state of affairs.

Then there were the speeches that came from the sponsors, Eben Moglen of SLFC made a very interesting comment that I have to quote here:

"In the words of Gandhi, first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. Insert a step between then they fight you and then you win - you get a holiday" :)

Happy belated Software Freedom Day everybody!

Well, the New York Linux Meetup got really tired of the infrastructure provided by Meetup for their mailing list, so we've started our own, and since I'm hosting it via Mailman, I can set up however many lists that I want, obviously.

So I decided that it would be good to have a local Fedora list. What's the advantage of a local list rather than say fedora-list? Simple - you can go out and have a coffee, beer, or whatever with the folks on this list, and build real-life relationships with folks.

The list page is here, if you're local to the NYC metro (and even if you're not), feel free to sign up for the list and introduce yourself!

Quiet here too

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I was reading Planet Fedora tonight, saw Josh's post, and realized that I hadn't blogged about anything Fedora-related for quite awhile. Not that there has been nothing going on, just that I haven't been inclined to blog about it since I, as Josh, have either said everything that I wanted to on the lists or IRC.

I do really want to apologize for not being as involved day-to-day as I'd like to be, some of you know that $DAYJOB has been particularly demanding of me, the good news is that those demands are beginning to lighten as I transition some of my responsibilities in the project to other folks.

This weekend is the first time in awhile that I've had to concentrate on Fedora, and it just so happens to coincide with beta freeze! This is good from a QA perspective, it means that I get to pound on frozen bits for a bit. I've already filed several bugs this weekend on stuff.

Right now, I'm attempting an install of the entire distribution. I'll provide some interesting (to me) stats after that finishes, probably in a few hours. There are 3 packages that I've had to exclude due to file conflicts, not bad!

I really wish that anaconda would have a 'Select All' box in the optional package selection dialog, my thumb is sore! For example, there are 222 packages in the 'Games' comps group, only 5 of which are marked default. That's a lot of clicking!

Windows == massive fail.

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As if we didn't already know this, Windows is the biggest example of fail known to man. Let me elaborate a little bit.

$DAYJOB requires that I use Windows on my work-issued laptop (and the VPN software doesn't work so hot on current Linux distros), so I'm kind of stuck with using it. I have rebooted this machine 3 times TODAY.

Two times, I ran into the dreaded 'Interface not ready' errors in the Nortel Contivity client - in the client stats, transmit and receive bytes don't increment, but this counter does - no idea what it means, but I've found the only recourse is to reboot the machine - no idea why that happens. Sometimes it doesn't happen for days, sometimes it occurs multiple times per day with no rhyme or reason.

The other time, I installed Project 2003 SP3. Since I don't have Project 2007 and received a file created by it, it helpfully directed me to a webpage that told me that I need to install SP3 in order to view the file. Did that, and it prompted me to reboot. Why do I have to reboot for a simple application patch installation????

I feel that I've spent more time today rebooting (and writing this post complaining about it) than doing actual, productive work.

Thus, I conclude that Windows is epic fail.

Awww, not Premier Black

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Apparently the last post was, as I suspected, an email marketing campaign that was supposed to be targeted to the suckers^Wpeople that spend a large amount of their income at Worst^WBest Buy. Best Buy can't even get their e-mail lists straight, they're so incompetent.

Don't expect any higher level of competence if you actually venture into one of their stores. You better know exactly what you're looking for.

With all this said, I still think they should do something for the inconvenience that we all experienced by receiving that mail, free shipping sounds good!

I'm not sure what it means, but I got a e-mail from Best Buy today saying that I was one of their "most elite" customers, so I get more stuff from the Reward Zones program.

I supposedly get stuff like 'Point Banking', free shipping on bestbuy.com, some weird concierge service that I'm not sure what it is.

I unfortunately can't see what this means, since going to myrewardzone.com, it gives me a 'SERVER TOO BUSY' error. Geez, sounds like a marketing campaign that got out of control to me....