Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Daily Archives / Friday, August 5, 2011

  • Aug 05 / 2011
  • 2

USA and Budgets

Commentators here often tell me that I spend to little on IT and recommend spending too little on IT. Many of them come from the USA where the government spends $80billion annually on IT and has managed to cut only a few $billion from that total. I know Canada’s government has huge bloat in IT and they manage to spend 16 times less, with a population only 10 times less. The USA is changing CIO this month and the new guy, a former M$ employee has made a difference in previous work in government.

$80billion is peanuts from the thousands of billions the USA spends annually in government but the system is out of control, spending eight years in Afghanistan and Iraq when one would have done a lot and cost so much less. There is a tendency to spend far beyond any reasonable expectation of return on investment. It’s the same for IT. The USA loves to spend $billions for permission from M$ to use the computers the USA buys when software to run those PCs is available for $0 in some cases or the cost of development in others, much less than licensing millions of copies. The USA, like the world, is much larger than M$ and can make its own software. Farmers grow products. They don’t buy what they can produce for less. Why should big government?

S&P has downgraded the credit rating of the USA from AAA to AA which will make continued living on credit more expensive. Will the government and the taxpayers notice? Let’s hope so. I am constantly hearing that taxes are “too high” in the USA. Where is the complaining about the high cost of buying permission from M$. Perhaps they can migrate to GNU/Linux and save a few $billion or so on licensing. It’s a start.

  • Aug 05 / 2011
  • 0

Using Patents to Stifle Competition

With all the recent litigation against many players in IT, large and small, it is clear that rather than stimulating innovation, patents are being used to stifle competition. Google makes the point that a smart phone might touch on many thousands of patents and the litigation essentially makes innovation by new folks in the market impossible. That’s wrong. That’s not what the constitution of the USA says patents are about and it’s illegal to stifle competition.

“That revelation tells us the most fundamental fact about patent law in the US today — namely that even if you have as much money as Google, you can’t freely innovate and provide fabulous products because the patent thicket is so dense already and the Proprietary Patent Club is joining hands to keep any newcomer out of the competition. And that’s exactly why articles about Google “whining” or viewing this as just a verbal war are missing the point Google was making, namely pointing out that it can be *illegal* to use patents for an anticompetitive purpose. There’s a line, and Google is indicating that it thinks that line has been crossed.”

see GROKLAW - A Brief Explanation of Microsoft’s Anti-Google Patent FUD ~ by pj 

“United States patent law was established “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries”

see Wikipedia - United States patent law 

Patents may have had some use for inventors of devices like machines with a few moving parts but the concept of a patent on hundreds of thousands or millions of lines of code in the software of a smart phone is absurd. It does not scale. It does not scale for the complexity of the device nor for the billions of copies one presumably can sell. After the first million or so,  the return on investment is huge and the purpose of patents has been met. The rest is abuse.


  • Aug 05 / 2011
  • 1

Fun and Games

Games are a niche where that other OS seems to hold sway. There is news that idSoftware will open the sourcecode of Doom 3. Depending on the licence, this could result in cloning to GNU/Linux. That would be fun for some.

see some specs

The graphics depends on DirectX and works with particular graphics cards only. Open the source could allow more diversity. “Carmack intimated that he had the blessing of id Software’s parent company ZeniMax and called on other developers to to follow suit, saying that releasing source code could be of benefit to the entire industry as it allowed new developers to learn their chops.”

I imagine the energy of developers who love FLOSS and gaming could be very useful in the gaming industry. It will be interesting to see whether or not a FLOSS community of sorts can develop from this move. Doom was released under the GPL in 1999. see more FLOSS games.

  • Aug 05 / 2011
  • 0

BEA Interim Report on AF447 Crash Grim

20 seconds before impact:

  • Captain: “Watch out you’re pitching up there”
  • Co-pilot: “I’m pitching up?”
  • Other Co-pilot: “Well we need to we are at four thousand feet”

This was after the plane stalled at high altitude in the dark in a storm with great turbulence and with the captain in his resting room. In the confusion of turbulence, stall buffeting, instrument readings coming and going and no angle of attack readout, the flight crew did not realize the plane was stalled and in a serious nose-up attitude for three minutes of rapid descent. By the time the captain realized what was happening it was too late and the men in both seats pushed the controls in opposite directions. Essentially the plane and crew were out of control.

Thus it appears that the crash was one of those events where a number of things went wrong simultaneously. I am not a pilot but it seems clear that a minute or so before the crash if the nose had been put down and full power applied, the plane should have resumed normal flight. The plane was so badly stalled that the stall warning cut out and the controls were sluggish. Presumably, if the pilots had an angle of attack reading they would have realized the solution early enough.

I expect the recommendations of the BEA that stalls at high altitude be included in training pilots and a readout of angle of attack be made will prevent a recurrence. This is still an interim report. It describes what happened in great detail but has not made final conclusions.

see Interim Report n°3