“Satan is angry at what has been done here tonight, and the devil will seek to attack you, personally and corporately, to sow seeds of doubt and sin.” [in an exhortation to newly-illumined faithful at St. John the Forerunner, Indianapolis]
Archbishop Job of Chicago and the Midwest

«— How To Become A Hacker
—» Poverty of Soul

Feed Reader Help Wanted

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Mac users and free software folks: I need a Free (as in speech) news and feed aggregator for Mac OS X. I’ve been using NetNewsWire 2.0b25 for what seems like forever; I’d forgotten it was a beta. So, when a couple of feeds stopped working — related, it appears, to being valid Atom feeds — I went to their website to get an update. I was shocked to find that it wasn’t Free or Open or anything even similar. I mean, I downloaded the beta without charge! Doesn’t that mean it’s Free?

Stop. I know the answer, and I already feel like enough of a dweeb.


Filed under: — Basil @ 10:20 am

«— The Stone of the Choir Director
—» The Forty-day Farewell to Roast Beast

A Bit of Lightness

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This old usenet joke got dredged up on Mean Dean’s “Heal Your Church Website” website. Ol’ Deano has yet to review St. Athanasius’ site.


Filed under: — Basil @ 2:47 am

«— Graceful, Indeed
—» Back a Brother Up, Please

Once More, Ladies and Gentlemen… mpt!

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More mpt adulation from your favorite mpt groupie. Is it possible to have a business model that incorporates free software and eschews proprietary software? Absolutely. There are many such models, and they are profitable, too. mpt explains.


Filed under: — Basil @ 6:55 am

«— In More Moderation, All Things
—» On Second Thought…

“…But They Can Never Take Away Our Freedom!”

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Doc Searls and Jonathan Peterson both have links to Robert Cringely’s latest Pulpit — “Steal This Column: Criticism won’t change the DMCA, but breaking the law will.” So, to increase the Googlerank, I’m linking to them and him!

My addition to this discussion is to remind people of the medieval notions of natural law and positive law. St. Thomas Aquinas, following St. Augustine, believed that there are two kinds of law: that made by men, the positive law, and that written indelibly by God in human hearts and in the natures of things, the natural law. The two must be in harmony with one another. If the positive law violates the natural law, it is no law at all — it is null and void — and it has no power. It is not being broken, because it is not a law. Ignore it as you would any childish silliness and go on.

A law that violates the natural law is not a law, and it should be ignored. This of course applies to a great many things. But it currently applies very well to the infringement of user rights in the realm of software we call “digital media.” The issue is justice — it is a great injustice both to the users and to the true producers of digital content. The law is unjust; therefore, there is no law.

Period. Full stop.


Filed under: — Basil @ 2:53 pm

«— Well, I Swear!
—» Magic Wand Links

What a Massive Hole Your Foot Has, There!

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It’s called a Clue. And some people don’t seem to be able to tell the difference between a Clue and a hole in their head. Take, for example, the software vendor selling a PHP script which denies http access for users of pop-up blocking software, including browsers like Mozilla and Opera, proxies like JunkBuster, and even users who simply turn off JavaScript! Instead of content, users see a message spanking them for not wanting to be annoyed by flashing text and graphics and commercials masquerading as content.

Perhaps we could paraphrase Princess Leia Organa, “The tighter you close your fist, the more you will find markets slipping through your fingers.”

Ironically, this vendor is writing scripts in PHP. PHP is free software, meaning that users are guaranteed certain freedoms by the PHP License. In fact, you can download the latest version for free without being assaulted by advertising. And the Apache Software Foundation does not complain. Imagine that.


Filed under: — Basil @ 3:03 pm

«— Don’t Feed the Technicians
—» Oh. Nevermind.

If a Tree Falls….

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Gene Kan has died, and no one noticed. As happens quite often, I am chagrinned to note that I did not even know who he was before I heard the news of his death. Gene Kan was one of the primary developers behind Gnutella and the emerging file-sharing pheonomenon. Tim O’Reilly noted, “Gene was one of the first people to make hay with the idea that peer-to-peer file sharing wasn’t just about music, but about a powerful approach to problems in computer networking.” He also remarked that “it was Gnutella and Freenet, more than Napster, that got the attention of the technical elite and made us think more deeply about the way the Internet was evolving.”

So, here is a small, unworthy tribute to a pioneer. Memory eternal.


Filed under: — Basil @ 10:30 am

«— Sun-damaged Designers
—» Top of the Charts

A Better Kind of XP

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Tim recently wrote about Jon Udell’s blog on Alan Cooper. This led me to a Google search on extreme design and extreme programing, which led to this debate.

Now, I’m a software freedom advocate. I also happen to like open source software, though not as much. Both free software and OSS typically tend toward the “release early, release often” model. Cooper’s model, however, tends to violate this idea.

Rich Bowen, the founder and CTO of Cooper-McGregor, has intimated that it actually seems beneficial to free and open projects to have an initial period of closed developement, while the projects gets its legs. Subsequently, the project should continue with strong leadership that knows how to tactfully reject inappropriate code patches. If neither of these happens, projects seem to lose focus and dissipate very quickly.

That sounds like free and open projects should look more closely at Alan Cooper’s ideas.


Filed under: — Basil @ 12:19 pm

«— Blinded by the Sun
—» Sun-damaged Designers

A Patch for Apache Server

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It has been reported all over that Apache web server has a vulnerability. The ASF suggests updating to versions 1.3.26 or 2.0.39. It should be noted, however, that users of Red Hat 7.2 are being advised to update to 1.3.22-6, which is a patched version of the latest Red Hat RPM.


Filed under: — Basil @ 7:21 am

«— Send in the Clones!
—» What Are You Smoking, Anyway?

Free Software in Chains

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Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC) has introduced legislation that could make software liberty illegal. Business Week has done a piece on it, the first I’ve seen in mainstream media. The free software community has already been excercised about it for quite some time. The best information on it comes from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

This kind of thing really burns me. There are only two possibilities:

  1. Fritz Hollings does not understand how his proposed legislation undercuts genuine, legitimate freedoms, and no one is explaining it in terms he can understand.
  2. He does realize the problem, and he only cares about the money Disney and other corporations can give him.

It would appear that the second option is the only believable scenario, which makes the honorable senator the worst kind of American: one who does not believe in freedom and justice for all.

If you believe that software freedom is a good thing, make your voice heard.


Filed under: — Basil @ 5:26 pm