BT et C

Saturday, July 30, 2005


Quick note ... go down a little further for meaty articles.

Been using UDAgent to soak up my laptop's unused cycles, but always wanted them to develop a Linux client. Instead there were directions on how to make it fly in WINE ... I haven't got time for WINE right now.

But I just found Stanford's incarnation, which has a Linux console client. Get crunching.


Was hoping to see something about this at my favorite blog, but I guess I'll have to strike the match.

Might as well fisk...(Source)
"Amazon, in its latest filing, is seeking to patent its idea for creating a marketplace where third-party Web services providers can link up with consumers."
-ideas are not supposed to be patentable
-creating a marketplace where providers of X can link up with consumers is not AMZN's idea. It was invented by Wal Mart in 1962. Before that, there were no marketplaces anywhere. (I'm just kidding)

"In the marketplace, consumers can search for Web services and read comments and reviews from others who have used the service."
-looking for products and reading about them does not strike me as very new.

"Amazon can also provide the suppliers of these services with assurances that only authorized consumers can access their offerings."
-Providing assurances to your vendors that only authorized consumers can buy their products does not strike me as new.
-What's an authorized consumer?
-I think it means that AMZN won't be activating webservices until they know the identity of the purchaser.
-Identifying people before you hand over the things they have purchased does not strike me as new.

"its marketplace technology seeks to address the lack of easy-to-use methods for collecting consumers' Web services payments, as well as to provide Web services companies with ways to manage and monitor their offerings"
-Easy-to-use methods for collecting payments does not strike me as new.
-Providing vendors with editable information about what they are vending does not strike me as new.

This is getting tiresome, but one last point: AMZN has not heard of google, or UDDI, or I guess anything WS-related.
"Current Web services implementations do not typically provide effective means for potential consumers to discover or locate Web services"

This, of course, is not the first time AMZN has gone beyond the pale, so hopefully we're agreed that there's a Problem. Big one. Solutions?

Obvious and Immediate:
1. Cease using AMZN for anything.
Plausibility: piece o' cake. Impact: little
2. Build an interface for convenient consumption/purchasing of registered webservices, and pray to Heaven that AMZN sues you and makes you famous.
Plausibility: not tough (a few days of coding). Impact: could be zero, or huge, depending on AMZN's response.

3. I liked the idea of making it a crime (fraud) to attempt to patent something that meets a certain standard of obviousness and frivolousness. Right now there's little to lose (except the $10K application fee) in AMZN's approach of just scatter-shooting patent applications and see what sticks.
Plausibility: dunno. Impact: meh. Might just foment a whole new batch of lawsuits over the standard of frivolousness.
4. Immediate and complete revocation of the USPTO's ability to grant patents on computer-implemented inventions.
Plausibility: slim. Impact: Huge
5. Move to Europe/Asia/????, where this debate is still a going concern.
Plausibility: wavers. Impact: on me, personally, pretty substantial. The American software industry could care less, but is marching steadily toward irrelevance.
6. Go into some other line of work, not related to the Internet, or software, or pretty much computers at all.
Plausibility: wavers. Impact: vis-a-vis software patents, a great deal. But vis-a-vis annoying abuses of power, it'd be six of one half dozen of the other in pretty much any industry.

Monday, July 25, 2005

KDE et C

I'm now on my first KDE desktop since ... well, I guess since a brief stint with MEPIS on my laptop, but before that it had been since Mandrake 7.3 -- my very first Linux box.

My, how times have changed. I remember KDE being very ugly; it's not. Also it's responsive as hell -- maybe that's the Gentoo behind it, but I also have fluxbox on here and I don't notice a big difference. Will do some tougher crunching and report more later.

Y'know what would probably go over big with hackers looking into PHP5 migration? A simple little set of scripts that could move you from your standard LAMP setup in /var/www/ to a XAMPP one in /opt/lampp. Just a thought. Three times I've done this procedure, moving the databases, the phpmyadmin, getting the permissions right. Kinda tedious. Who wants to help? I think it could be a quick, semi-interactive shell script.

Last: congrats to Maypole, Linux Journal's library-of-the-year, which I am still determined to refactor in P5. Got the code and took the first few baby steps poking around in it. Looks tight. Anyone who knows more about architecture want to help?

You basically send a URL like and Maypole does the rest, providing a form to edit company with primary key #41. There is in fact no "company" directory or any of that other stuff, just a URL to be parsed. That is not exactly how I thought it worked, and that is not how Xaypole works ... should it?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Quote of the Month

"I have begged critics of the system, such as The Register's Andrew Orlowski, to explain to me how Creative Commons works or what it's supposed to do that current copyright law doesn't do. He says, 'It does nothing.'"
John C. Dvorak,1895,1838244,00.asp

Note to self: if someone's assessment of X is based on statements made by critics of X, raise red flag slightly.

"I have begged critics of formalized religion, such as, to explain how the Catholic Church works, and they say "It's a sham".

Dvorak goes on: "Okay, then why are bloggers and do-gooders and various supporters making a point of tagging their material as being covered by Creative Commons? Is it just because it's cool and trendy—a code for being hip amongst a certain elite? There is no other answer."

Um. ...

"then why are do-gooders and [whatev] making a point of getting up every Sunday and praying, etc. Is it just because they have a crush on Richard Roberts? There is no other answer." you're probably picking up on the fact that I'm not real impressed with Dvorak's analysis. He's not done.

"...others have certain rights to reuse the material under a variety of provisos, mostly as long as the reuse is not for commercial purposes. Why not commercial purposes? What difference does it make, if everyone is free and easy about this?"
AH, there it is."CC licensors are anticapitalist, blah blah blah". Never mind that many of the CC licenses allow commercial uses if that's your taste.

"There's another thing that bugs me about Creative Commons. When you see its licenses the wording will say something like 'Creative Commons License: Public domain.' This means that the item is not covered by copyright but is in the public domain"

hm... well, i tried, but the word "public domain" doesn't appear on

and at this point i got tired and assumed Dvorak was just making stuff up. If he encountered the line "Creative Commons License: Public doman" somewhere, I'd love to see a reference. Also I can go ahead and guess that what it means is that the $%@^ing license -- not the work -- is in the public domain. i.e. Dvorak and anyone else can copy the license and try to make a living off of it.

Um, but hey ... ALL those licenses contain a sentence like this:

UPDATE: I figured out, I think, that he means that if you go to creative commons and choose "public domain" as the license you want to use, you get this little icon with the creative commons logo in it, and the words "public domain". This is Definitely Something to Get Your Jockstrap in a Gordian Knot About.

Big wrapup coming:
"Apparently simplicity was more than some people could handle, so they invented Creative Commons to add some artificial paperwork and complexity to the mechanism. And it seems to actually weaken the copyrights you have coming to you without Creative Commons. Oh, brother!"

OMG pcmag needs their money back ... every cent they've ever paid this guy. Mr. D, that is the whole and entire point of the whole thing. That -- as opposed to "nothing" -- is what it does. So you didn't need to ask those critics anyway, did you? You found the answer all by your lonesome: CC licenses are a way to give people (and tell them they have) certain rights to use, distribute, and modify your work, while you retain others.

It's not that hard, man. I'm going to explain it to my 3-year-old, and I'm putting even odds that he'll get the idea.


oh dear oh dear this is dangerous. I don't picture myself ever darkening the door of a Blockbuster again. I am a netflix junkie.

Sounds annoying at first: when you want a movie, you want it now, don't you? You don't want to wait for it to arrive in the mail. In actual practice, you don't really notice the wait. Kudos to:
-whoever came up with the idea of the queue ... I put twentysomething DVDs in mine after about 15 minutes of searching
-whoever designed the peel-and-fold-and-stick return envelopes. It seems like such a little point, but it matters. If returning the disc were even the slightest bit unwieldy, the whole business could collapse. I'm not joking.

Like just about EVERY "recommendation system" on the net, this one is dumb as a post. This is because computers are dumb as posts (except for the ones that run Gentoo). Example:

I tell Netflix that I liked the movie "Hero". A lot. This does not mean that I want to watch every Jet Li (or Bruce Lee ?!?!?) movie ever made. What's missing is some communication about why I like "Hero". If I could get that across, even the posts could figure out that I'd like "Raise the Red Lantern" more than "Fists of Fury 3".

Well, this is an example (like REST) where you gotta make do I guess. Improving the intelligence of the algorithm probably requires a serious increase in how much your users have to contribute*, and (like the peel-and-fold-and-stick envelopes) users don't contribute %^##% unless you make it staggeringly easy.

*e.g.: you'd need an Allocation-style assessment of the film/music/whatev instead of a 1-to-5 star rating system.
Acting:          200 ------------- 1000
Writing:        200 ------------- 1000
Production   200 ------------- 1000
Genre           200 ------------- 1000

Maybe the (relatively few) users who are opinionated enough to do this would be sufficient...

Friday, July 01, 2005


Well, it comes and it goes, doesn't it:

Limit (mostly 2/4 and 3/6) at Pokerchamps: -$121
No-Limit, also at Pokerchamps: -$267

HOWEVER, the pain is alleviated by one thing: I have not mentioned the rolling weekly pokerchamps rakeback program, which they offer in addition to the $500 bonus that I will clear ... someday ... if I don't keep losing like that. Here are the weekly payouts:
June 3: 39
June 10: 47
June 17: 37
June 24: 28
July 1: 41

Total: 192

Doesn't quite put me in the black, but that's poker
Net: -$196