Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Daily Archives / Wednesday, March 14, 2012

  • Mar 14 / 2012
  • 0
Uncategorized

First Meeting of Senate Legal and Consitutional Affairs Committee on C-19

Vic Toews was the first witness. He spoke eloquently and raised several good points:

  • the registration of unrestricted firearms does nothing to prevent crime,
  • the registry was an expensive failure,
  • it drove a wedge between citizens and police, and
  • police officers do not rely on information from the registry.

In the discussion, several times it was mentioned that police depend on the registry. The next two witnesses denied that:

  • Randal Kuntz of the Edmonton police was adamant that the whole Firearms Act, not just the registry, should be scrapped. He pointed out that the legislation goes after law-abiding citizens and the criminals ignore it. He gave the example that he could hunt with a .45 Colt rifle but not a .45 Colt handgun just because of the Firearms Act and not anything to do with safety or crime.
  • Roger Granger, a retired police officer from Quebec recounted how the registry was an attempt to punish someone for several high-profile crimes in Quebec and instead of punishing criminals, ordinary citizens were attacked. He pointed out that even though one murderer was a licenced firearms owner, the police discovered his identity by tracing the ammunition that the criminal had bought. The licence and the registry would not have prevented the murders. He mentioned that only once did he investigate a firearms crime involving a long-firearm. It’s usually a sawed-off/prohibited firearm or restricted firearm.

One good bit of news: Vic Toewvs suggested the bill would be enacted in the coming few months. It cannot come soon enough.

see parliamentary coverage

  • Mar 14 / 2012
  • 0
technology

M$ Does a Good Deed and is Punished

Not quite sure what it means but I think it’s cool that M$ does actual work and provides office-suite functionality over the web. Strangely, they introduced a bewildering array of their product versions nine months ago and are now cutting prices… Normally that means business is not going well but we are told:
“Microsoft officials are attributing the cuts to economies of scale and skills among its datacenters, developers and support personnel.”

Yeah, right. M$ thinking it is earning too much? Won’t happen. They are feeling the competition or feel their message is stale. Ordinarily I would say providing such a service over the web is a great plan for a software company but the ham-fisted way they tied it into their office-suite and OS, no way. People want to simplify their lives, not turn the Wintel treadmill into a “jungle gym”.

UPDATE ITworld reports opinions that M$ was not happy with sales and cut prices to compete better with Google Apps.

see ITworld – Analysts: Microsoft didn’t cut Office 365 prices just to be nice

  • Mar 14 / 2012
  • 18
technology

IBM on Licensing OpenOffice.org

Douglas Heintzman of IBM wrote,
” Apache also promotes a licensing regime that lends itself to innovation and participation of well-resourced organizations and has a higher comfort level with many corporate customers.

The question of licensing models is for some a key issue that merits examination. The LibreOffice community works with a copyleft regime. This is partly because, when that community forked the code from the OpenOffice project, it was the only licensing regime available to them, and partly because the core of that community comes from Linux vendors that are very comfortable with, and have had prior success with, copyleft licensing. This does not mean that they have failed with permissive licenses; it just means they have more experience, and a greater comfort level, with copyleft regimes.

Copyleft licenses rely on a viral mechanism to enforce disclosure of code modifications. Basically, if you are benefiting from the code, you contractually must disclosure any modifications or enhancements you make.”

Compare that with an article written earlier (2003) by the same authour:
“There is a general consensus that for the most part these licenses do not represent a barrier to the integration of OSS into business solutions and will likely have little, if any, impact on the success of OSS one way or the other.”

Clearly Heintzman does not get FLOSS. The GPL, for instance is a licence, not a contract, so one it not “contractually obliged to do anything”. One is permitted to copy by a licence from the creators under the conditions laid out by the GPL. OpenOffice.org ships under a mixture of licences for different parts of the code, reflecting its long history and huge number of contributors.

He never does get around to explaining why IBM chose Apache/ASL licensing except to state that IBM chose it. He certainly does not explain why IBM went with the code contributed to Apache instead of the code forked to LibreOffice and the greater numbers of contributors if they were interested in “community”. OpenOffice.org has yet to make an ASL release while LibreOffice is chugging away making release after release and doing well while OpenOffice.org is still under code review years later.

Is IBM too proud to admit that it made a mistake? It’s not too late to undo some things. So far, it looks as if IBM and Oracle’s move has come to nothing. OpenOffice.org is still not a full-fledged Apache project. They are still fiddling away trying to create the website. The latest status report includes:
“Most Important To Address:

1. Completion of the IP-review portions of the incubation checklist
2. A Successful Podling Release
3. Increase size and diversity of the active development community”

They are now doing nightly builds for developers and they have some committers but the whole project seems to have overwhelmed Apache. It seems like a high price to pay for stripping out copyleft code.
” We believe that all category-x copyleft code has been removed.
Development focus has shifted to reparing our initial Polding Release (release 3.4)”

Meanwhile, LibreOffice has made 7 releases, tuned up lots of code, added lovely features and has a huge base of contributors, nearly 400, (and more details on code clean-up)… Judge the licence like a healthy, growing tree, by the fruit of it.

I recommend LibreOffice over OpenOffice.org any day. It was a good ride for OpenOffice.org but SUN really didn’t set it free and Oracle and IBM have wrecked the rails.

UPDATE Here’s another article about progress or lack of it at Apache: Update on Apache OpenOffice

Yes, “Removal of Copyleft” is prominent. Yes, it looks like some version of the Munich Migration… It will get somewhere eventually but there does not seem to be any advantage over the energetic advancement of LibreOffice. Is it a case of cutting off the nose of OpenOffice.org in order to spite the face of it?

  • Mar 14 / 2012
  • 21
technology

The Software Stack

LAMP is one of my favourite things. GNU/Linux under Apache web server with MySQL database and PHP is a neat, flexible and powerful tool. PHP is not my favourite programming language because it is fast in development but slow in execution but it is popular. That might explain why Apache is a very popular web server on that other OS.

According to W3Techs, of the web servers of which they know the OS, 66% run Apache, 18% run M$’s IIS, and 10% run Nginx but 36% run that other OS.

What puzzles me is why anyone would use that other OS to run a web server. There’s no need at all technically. It must have to do with the local culture. Perhaps the licensing for one extra server on the web is already covered by a site agreement. Perhaps the management system in use is M$-only. Perhaps the bosses only know M$. Perhaps people don’t consider web-servery mission-critical. Perhaps…

It’s certainly easier to run a LAMP server. No purchasing required except for hardware. No need to allow audits by M$ and “partners”. No need for so many re-re-reboots. No need to accept malware as a normal part of IT. No need to re-install during the life of the server. Less downtime. Better throughput because the OS is not working for M$. Easier to install. No EULA to “accept”. No authentication code to record for posterity. No licensing fee. Simpler accounting.

On the desktop, the situation is the same. All kinds of people are running FLOSS apps but they have that other OS underneath for unknown reasons. Many people cannot even tell you what OS they run on their PCs. They just run what came with the PC. On many occasions I have had people use GNU/Linux without them knowing. The applications work as expected. The windows work as expected. The mouse and keyboard work as expected. There’s just no need for that other OS for most people with most uses of IT/PCs.

All kinds of people and organizations have switched from that other OS to GNU/Linux with few real problems and many advantages. They just got on with their lives with better IT.

I recommend Debian GNU/Linux. It works for you.