Things are heating up here at Cincom as far as corporate blogging goes. We are going to launch a blog that will bring the message from our senior management out. The cool thing is that this will all be done in Cincom Smalltalk, using the Silt server and the Bottom Line posting client. Stay tuned - we'll have more on this soon.
Cincom's long serving (in fact, the longest serving CEO in the software business) has been honored as an outstanding corporate leader:
We have been asked for additional information on the International "Stevie" Business Awards Cincom and CEO Tom Nies recently won.
On May 19, 2005, at a gala awards dinner at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers, Cincom CEO Tom Nies and Cincom will be honored and presented 2 separate awards.
Cincom CEO Tom Nies and Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen will be honored with the International "Best Executive" award.
Cincom will also be recognized as a company for a finalist in the "Best Multi-National Company" category.
So I made my way here, to the MS building at 51st and Avenue of the Americas - the MS executive center, it seems to be called. Note to self: if I walk 17 blocks for one of these again, wear sneakers. Apparently, this thing is being webcast live. Sadly, the WiFi in here is secured, so I won't be posting this until well after the seminar ends. I met Scoble in person, which was nice - he comes off as a truly nice guy.
Lots of PR folks in the room, as well as lots of bloggers (no shock there; it's why I came). Lots of marketing folks too (gosh, that includes me!) - likely trying to get their heads around the idea of unmediated market communications. Good sized group of people just getting their toes wet in this areas, as well - I met Dave Platter of Publitas, who's just getting started introducing blogs to his clients. All in all, a diverse crowd.
Interesting introduction here - Scoble was asked about his political complaint against Steve Ballmer (for those living under a rock: the CEO of MS). See here for one of the various posts on this over at Scoble's blog. See, here's my problem with that theory of interaction. Forget that this is about politics - the bottom line on this is about publically airing dirty laundry. I have some experience with that - I used to rant all the time about the management at ParcPlace-Digitalk, both in public and in internal email. It never had any positive impact. Why is that? Because even if management ends up agreeing with you, you've put their backs to a wall and forced them onto the defensive. People almost never react positively to that. That's not to say that you should never take that tack - but, IMHO, you should never take that tack as a first approach. Even if you win the argument in question, you've created a bunch of enemies (not all of whom will go into public opposition against you). Over time, you'll find that your internal political influence drop as people start treating you as a bomb thrower.
Fascinating segue into the famous blog firings (like Mark Jen and the Delta flight attendant). Scoble's point is that you have to feel your way into the corporate culture before you "go wild". What he did was gather a personal network of supporters within MS before he started to push the envelope. He was just asked "wouldn't the price be too high to fire you (as opposed to the examples given)"? Good answer - Delta is still taking damage from that firing. What Scoble says he's doing (and I agree with this) is giving MS a human face, both with his blog and with Channel 9.
Now onto the Corporate Blogging Manifesto. The most important one is the first on the list: Tell the truth. Almost as important - get out in front of a story, whether it's good or bad. The point is, any big story will be written anyway, with you or without you. if you get your own words out there, you'll have a shot at having them be part of the conversation. One of the other points certainly resonates with me - have a thick skin. Anytime I post on dynamic typing, I get the same group of people bringing up the same set of complaints. If I didn't have a thick skin, I'd have given up by now :) Just as important - if you mess up, admit it and move on. People will spot mistakes and call you on it. The most dicey one - of you think you might be on delicate legal ground (such as: financials in a public company), talk to a lawyer before you post. Another area to be wary of is anything that might fall into patent law. Finally - if you are going to be blogging about your company/service/product - you better know the answers, or know how to get them fast.
Is there really that much blogging? Technorati says there are 8 million blogs, and Pew Internet says that 27% of the public (US) reads blogs daily. The Blogosphere is doubling about once every 5 months. The critical piece: consumer behavior is changing. There's a ton of internet based research happening before a purchase takes place, and that has changed a lot of the sales dynamics (think car sales).
What blogs provide is a set of opinions about every conceivable product and service out there. If a consumer wants to know what the "buzz" on a product is, they'll be able to find it quickly. That flips the relationship around for this market segment (the plugged in part).
So what's in a blog for a market researcher? Lots of demographic and consumer generated content that marketers can use for real time message correction. What do bloggers write about? Pick an industry where consumers directly interact with identifiable brands, and there's a set of commentary.
How can a marketer use blogs? It's one of the areas you can get product/market research from. Provides a way to have customers feel like their opinion matters, and that they are being listened to. One of the challenges advertisers face is that - even though most of the ads are on tv, the eyeballs have fled:
- Technology (ReplayTV/TiVO
- Multi-tasking (using the net as they watch tv, ignoring the ads)
- The old fashioned thing - refrigerator break :)
Next up - a panel discussion chaired by Steve Rubel. On the panel:
- Bonita Stewart (Daimler Chrysler)
- Andrew Bernstein (Cymfony)
- Dan Forbush (PR NewsWire)
- Lloyd Trufelman (Trylon Communications)
Steve only started MicroPersuasion a year ago, and he now has ~5000 regular readers. He's big on having people just give blogging a shot. One question to each of the panelists from Steve, starting with Lloyd - What's the value of a blog "placement" (i.e., a mention on a major blog). Answer: It depends on what it's about - and it's also the case that the hype on blogs is huge (think 1996 and websites). His take - a lot of blogs won't survive the march of time (inertia, cost, time, etc). His take is that this is another medium, but let's not go bats.
To Dan - if Lloyd is correct (it's a bigger media space, blogs are just a piece of it) - what does that mean for PR? What it means is that PR pros can be disintermediated much, much more easily now, and that means that PR folks have to work harder. Andrew is more interested in RSS as a query mechanism more than he's interested in blogging itself - it's the ease of syndication that matters, not blogs.
To Bonita - how did you sell blogging at Daimler-Chrysler? They set up a department, using the existing web analytics group. They didn't rush in to build a blog - they started by listening to what consumers have been saying about their products. The example she gives is kind of amusing - talking about the consumer buzz about the introduction of the Dodge Charger. Amusing, because I drove a 2 door Charger hatchback back in the 80's. Makes me wonder how many new ideas the car companies are really having... and worse, for this marketer, it totally distracted me from the brand point she wanted to make. Hmmm.
What they do is circulate a weekly buzz report that talks about both consumer and media reactions to their messaging over time. This gives them a level of feedback that they simply weren't getting (at least, not that fast) before.
To Andrew, what can marketers do with this information? Cymfony builds analytic information above the consumer information available. What they do, apparently, is create virtual focus groups out of the sea of consumer generated information.
Question from the audience - is blog reading bigger than we realize, simply because consumers, when asked, aren't always aware of what they are reading (blogs, stock website, etc). There's some of that I'm sure, but I find this very offputting - it's a matter of the "pros" (in this case, PR people) treating the "unwashed masses" as morons. This is exactly the reason that mainstream media and reporters have earned so much disdain - the clear assertion of arrogant superiority.
Good point from the audience here - blogging is not a broadcast mechanism, and treating it as one is a huge mistake. Lloyd would have us believe that this is no different than letters to the editor and pamphlets, only faster. That's profoundly wrong, because the MSM never paid attention to letters. They've been forced to listen to blogs.
Interesting question - is this mostly a US based thing, or is it really international? It's spreading worldwide, but a lot of it depends on the level of speech rights that are allowed in a given area. That makes it harder or easier, depending on where you look.
Heh - good questions - do corporations actually engage in conversations based on this, or do they just pay lip service? Bonita makes the point that corporations will find out quickly that they can't treat this strictly as classic marketing push, and you'll pay a price for doing so. I'd agree with this - going back to what Scoble said earlier, you'll get a conversation either way - it all depends on whether you want to engage or not.
The pubsub guys point out that they are seeing more and more blogs popping up internationally - as well as commentary on anything you say.
Next up pubsub with a demo - I subscribe to a bunch of PubSub searches, so this should be of interest. A year ago - they were tracking 100,000 blogs. It's leaped to 10 million now, and it's still growing.
How do you monitor the content you care about? There's the "subscribe to it all" Scoble approach (1300 blogs), and there's the watch/search based pubsub approach. Most of us do a little of both - I read specific people, and I search for specific keywords. PubSub is leveraging the publish/subscribe nature of the blogosphere. So in timeline terms, we had email in the 80s, browsers in the 90s, and blogs/aggregators now.
To compare, he's pointing out that searching (i.e., Google, MSN, etc) you have retrospective search. You get whatever the crawler found last time it looked. What you have with PubSub is a prospective engine, where they get new information sent to them. That allows them (within the publish/subscribe universe) to have much more current information. Essentially, they store the queries, not the results - when a query is made, they match and discard. This means that you don't want to use PubSub for archival information - you want to use it for current information.
When do you need something like this? Brand commentary searches, "ego searches", etc. When you want to find new mentions of a specific piece of information. It's a way to track whenever something is mentioned - for instance, whenever a positive/negative mention is made of your brand/service.
Next up is a panel discussion on "true voice" in blogging. Moderated by Stowe Boyd, President of Corante. On the panel:
- Steve Hall, Adrants
- Larry Bodine, PM Forum
- Robert Scoble, MS
- Steve Rubel, CooperKatz
Stowe wants to address two things - the possibility of over-hype, and the trend ([ed] - is there one?) - towards conforming - i.e., not doing/saying anything that would reflect badly on your company. Stowe confuses this as a free speech issue, which it's not. You've never been able - without repercussions - to say "anything" about your company. It's simply far more likely that negative comments will get noticed.
First up - the anti-hype. Scoble points out that blogging was seen as a "fad" back in 2000, and that the hype isn't new (he was seeing it at Userland back then). Steve Hall: "everyone likes to crap on things they aren't part of". Heh - there's a point. The backlash against the hype is natural, and expected. Steve Rubel - "I think it's fear". To his mind, there are transparent companies, and "USSR style" silo companies. The journalists in particular are afraid (and well they should be, IMHO - they aren't the experts they make themselves out to be). Larry Bodine - it's also standard resistance to change/inertia thing. If it's new, you'll always, always get pushback.
Stowe - there's a lot of fear, and resistance to change. This is getting into his second point, where he wants to talk about stifling. He's also on about the "power law" of linking, whereby the early a-listers implicitly control the commons. What he really wants to get into is the job losses over things people get fired over (talking out of turn over some blog post). Scoble points out that bloggers get hired specifically because of their blogs and communication skills.
What Stowe is worried about publically speaking (in a personal blog, even) that might reflect badly on their employer. The fact is, we (at least in most of the US) are "at will" employees. You have no right to employment, so if you say something that reflects badly on your employer, there will be repercussions. The divide - as Larry points out - is that you're fine so long as you don't claim to be representing your employer. That's why I don't discuss politics here - this is a corporate server. Steve Rubel points out that fired employers make great press, but there's just not that much of it happening. Steve Hall points out that we moderate our speech in almost all settings - parties, social gatherings, etc.
Larry points out that technology helps you in your relations with your employer - it allows you to be much more prominent (and better known amongst your customers) than you otherwise would be. What do I think about this? Larry is right, and Stowe is reading too much into a few isolated incidents. All you have here (in the US, that is) is a right not to be censored by the government. Or as Scoble put it - as a blogger, you're a gold miner carrying dynamite. You have to be aware of who (and what) you are trying to blow up with the dynamite...
In response to a question about advertising, Steve Rubel pointed out that he'd be scared witless if he were in advertising right now. Traditional advertising isn't going to map directoy to syndication. Instead, as Scoble points out, the information in the feed itself will be a long term ad for a product, service, or company. Larry points out the nature of reality to Stowe - that taking ads will, in fact, modify your editorial policy - because the money you get will have an impact. Unless you are independently wealthy, you can't help but be affected. The lame response from Stowe - "their competitor will advertise there" is truly lame.You may well be willing to make negative comments about an advertiser, but you can't pretend that it won't have an impact.
Well there was a negatively received statement - Larry stated that a blog is one-way, and all about push. Comments and trackbacks (even with spam) are one example, and simple referrals are another. Scoble points out that he posts his cell phone number, and gets a few calls a week as a result.
The funny thing is, I like these older trains that Amtrak runs as regionals better than the newer (and out of service at the moment) Acela trains. Why? They aren't that much slower, and they have much nicer Cafe cars. The not so well kept secret of the old MetroLiners was that the cafe cars were always in high demand. They have nice, large tables that seat four, and you can set up a PC and a mouse easily and comfortably. No hassling with a wobbly tray table - you can work on your laptop during the entire ride.
Not the case on the new Acelas, or even the updated regionals. There, the Cafe cars are mostly standing room only, no electric outlets, and tiny little tables with narrow (i.e., not enough for a laptop) spaces. They are built to rush you in and out of the car - which seems like a mistake to me, given the way the old cafe cars have been used on the MetroLiners. Makes me wonder whether the people who designed the new Cafe cars ever actually rode Amtrak in the NE corridor, and watched the business travelers rush the old Cafe cars...
This is kind of neat. The Regional Amtrak trains pause at stops long enough that I can have my laptop acquire a network signal if there's open WiFi nearby. As it happens, there was an open network at the Metro Park stop (but alas, not in Trenton). So I was able to grab a bunch of mail in the minute or so of connectivity. Maybe I'll find a connection further down the line - but there was no joy in Philly. Wilmington, perhaps? Nope had to get home :)
Brian Cashman is getting desperate - he's trying out lineup changes with Torre:
The Yankees have a losing record -- and that won't fly when the payroll runs over $200 million. So after the Yankees' 6-2 win ove the Devil Rays, General Manager Brian Cashman announced some significant changes.
Here's a tip: It's not the lineup. See that 11-4 loss? That's a sign that your pitching sucks. Juggle the lineup all you want, and it won't matter. It's going to be a loooong season...
The Register has a fun story about an IE specific finance site in the UK - you have to love this quote in the comments:
The resource broker isn't going to get much usage by anyone who isn't a Microsoft user as the site only supports IE5.5 and above. About as useful as a chocolate teapot!!!
James Governor points to an interesting development at a Silicon Valley startup:
And back to my original point - Mark started the blog before Palimida sent out a release announcing his hire. Blog first, do "corporate PR" later... Of course its a little more complex that that, but the world of corporate communications is changing fast.
It would have been interesting to bring that up at the conference I attended yesterday. I wonder what the PR folks would have thought about that level of disintermediation - where C level staff routes right around them from the very start?
If you are interested in the notes I took at yesterday's conference, then follow this link - I organized all of those posts into a common category.
Recently, I pushed out BottomLine as a standalone blog poster. In doing this, I reused some of the systems originally built for BottomFeeder - such as the online updating code. That's where I ran into the issue of unplanned reuse.
I had modified the library in question so that it would work generically (or so I thought :) ) - but this was the acid test, and it failed. As it happens, there were still some assumptions in there to remove, and a few setup things to deal with. That didn't take long to address, but I ran across another issue - proxy servers.
In BottomFeeder, the post tool doesn't need its own proxy settings - it's using whatever BottomFeeder uses. In standalone mode, that's not the case though - and I had completely forgotten about that until Troy pinged me on it. That ate up a fair bit of my time - not because it was hard, but because I shorted myself on sleep last night, and I kept forgetting steps in my build process.
Anyhow, I'm uploading the updated BottomLine now - should be ready to go in about an hour.
Lots of people have read Doc's analysis and expansion on Friedman's "flat" world theory. I only just got around to reading it this morning - it seems that the frequent short outages that Comcast is providing me (at no extra cost!) have some purpose after all. What struck me was a combination of Doc's post and a few conversations I've had at trade shows over the last few years.
It's worth reading the entire essay, but let me expand on a small piece of it:
Of course, the average and the dumb are still plentiful, no doubt about it. But try this concept on for size: most of them were made that way. They were shaped in large measure by school systems that have had, from the dawn of the industrial age, a main purpose: to produce employees for boxed positions in corporate org charts that take the shape of pyramids, wide at the bottom and narrow at the top. The many supporting the few. We may have needed a caste system that made each of us a ranked product--and we still call ourselves that--of an education. There were few alternatives in the industrial age, aside from farming and other relatively solitary occupations. But there are plenty of alternatives now, as many as there are individuals with access to broadband.
What struck me about that? Well, a conversation I had at Ot2004 with Joshua Bloch, first off. I attended a talk he gave on designing good API's. I had a few issues with what he said at the time - I happen to think that things like "final" declarations on a class are not only limiting, but downright harmful. The fascinating thing was how he responded - he didn't disagree with me outright. What he did was state that developers exist in a pyramid, where the Lisp and Smalltalk guys (and Ruby and Python, et. al.) are at the top - developers using truly dynamic languages are, in his opinion, smart enough to deal with unlimited inheritance and polymorphism. The rest of the crowd? Java was designed with the lower two tiers of the pyramid in mind - the wide band of average and below average developers.
Got that? Read Doc's take on the whole pyramid scheme again, and then realize that Sun's decisions on what to do with Java are premised on the idea that most developers using it are idiots who are incapable of dealing with freedom, and simply have to be protected from themselves. At OOPSLA a couple of years ago I got the same explanation from Hjelsberg when I asked him about "final" in C# - again, his take is that most of you just aren't bright enough to handle Smalltalk, or Lisp, or Python, or Ruby (etc) - you need to be protected from yourself.
Reminds me of a line from "A Few Good Men" -
The truth? You can't handle the truth!
That's what Sun and Microsoft are telling you with Java and the CLR based languages. You can't handle power or responsibility - it all has to be bottled up and granted to you in small doses, because you just aren't smart enough to deal with the whole thing. From their standpoint, you live at the bottom of the pyramid, and they've provided tools that are guaranteed to keep you there. They know what power looks like - they just don't think you can handle it.
James Governor has some cogent thoughts and links on where the music business might be headed - and I think he's right. Just go read it.
BeyondVC has an interesting post up on the Sarbanes/Oxley business - this left me flabbergasted:
I had lunch with a friend of mine yesterday who is an officer with a public technology company. As we started discussing his business, one of the topics of conversation was Sarbanes Oxley. His company just went through an expensive Sarbox audit to get into compliance and while his company passed with flying colors on most of the important issues, his company failed the audit. Why? Here is the short story. One of his sales reps was hosting a client meeting and bought $15 worth of donuts. The rep got a signature and approval from the CFO on the purchase. Why did they fail? The accountants said that the rep needed to get 2 signatures, one from the VP Sales and one from the CFO. If the rep could buy $15 worth of donuts with only one signature, then think about what else he could buy. That too me is quite inane and ridiculous. There has to be some threshold, for example, on when 2 signatures are necessary for an expense report. This is a perfect example of why Sarbox is expensive for public companies. While I believe that Sarbox is a good thing and better and more stringent accounting is necessary, I also think that there is alot of waste inherent in the regulations and that it needs to be reexamined.
I thought that the law was over-reaching, but it was just a vague sense. If this is the kind behavior that's being driven, then there's a huge problem. If I were starting a company under this sort of legal regime, I'd think twice before going public...
Here's your chance to give us feedback on our platform support in Cincom Smalltalk - take the new survey!
Friedman: "IQ distributions are a bell curve: there are very few people at the low (retarded) end of intelligence, and there are very few at the high (genius) end of intelligence. Most of us are bunched in the middle. The distribution is much the same as a distribution of humans' heights: Tom Cruise is below average in height and Yao Ming is above average. (But Tom Cruise is closer to the average than Ming.)"
Doc: "Wrong. I've been 5'9 the whole time my IQ has been measured everywhere from very smart to very dumb. Intelligence is complicated, conditional and hard to measure. The belief that people have "an IQ," however, comes easy. Too easy. "
I'm not so sure that the disagreement is as violent as it sounds. It would surprise me to find that intelligence isn't distributed on a bell curve - it wouldn't surprise me at all to find that measuring it is difficult, and that our current methods miss-classify people. To take a simple case - my Dad is mildly dyslexic, and never really liked to read because of that. I would guess that many IQ tests would rank him low because of that. A failure of methodology doesn't imply that a thing doesn't exist.
Doc wants to believe this:
The unwelcome point I've been making here, and that John Taylor Gatto has been making for much longer, is that most people are born smart and that we use theh likes of IQ tests to pound populations of uniquely gifted individuals into bell curves.
And sure, there's plenty of round pegging going on in the schools. The inability of the schools to deliver mass customization is a completely different problem though, and doesn't really speak to the distribution of intelligence. I'd agree with Doc that most current IQ tests are worse than useless. I do think there's something that could be measured, if we had any idea how. Ironically, his closing anecdote makes my point:
By the way, back when I got out of college, I was spared boring jobs at two insurance companies by flunking IQ tests. One was Aetna. That was administered right at the employment agency. No waiting. Impressive. I forget the name fo the other one, but I remember the setting vividly. It was in Newark. Nice offices, friendly people. The guy who interviewed me told the employment agency something like, "I was so impressed by the interview. He seemed real smart, and knew an awful lot of stuff. But then when we got the IQ test back we found out he was really dumb."
Placing the interviewer right down there towards the lower end of the bell curve, I think...
The summer release of Cincom Smalltalk is just about ready to go. We've wrapped up the engineering work, and it's now a matter of production steps - CD production, internal order entry system updates, etc. We should have things ready to go from a customer point of view by the end of this month, and CD's should start arriving in customer hands in late May or early June.
This is a maintenance release - we are on a twice yearly release schedule now:
- Summer: Bug fix/maintenance release. No major changes, it's possible for beta code to move into production
- Winter: Major release. new features/functions (etc) will be released
Blogging Roller isn't happy with the new Google accelerator:
Beware the Google Web Accelerator. It willl wreak havoc on the web applications that you use (Roller incuded). Problem is, in most webapps HTTP GET changes things (even though it shouldn't). Read all about it on O'Reilly Radar. I don't understand this. Google employs a hell of a lot of very smart people. How did they let this one slip by?
GET is supposed to be side effect free. The trouble is, many of the existing web apps don't work that way. Standards are great, but when practice varies as much as it has, that tells you something. I'm not sure how this will play out - will the 800 lb Google force change, or will the accelerator fail in the face of current web reality? It will be interesting to watch it play out.
I just finished reading "The Congress of Vienna: A Study in Allied Unity 1812 - 1822". It was interesting to me in more ways than one - the author, Harold Nicholson, was one of the British diplomats at the Paris conference of 1919. He wrote this book about the post Napoleanic era in 1945, at the close of World War II - he notes at the beginning of the book that much archival material was unavailable to him due to the war.
The striking thing about this book is just how different Europe was then. Reading about the negotiations, for instance - one of the Italian Kings (there were several Italian states then) was nearly removed from his throne, and they conference cast about looking for another principality to give him as a feifdom. Very different indeed. One thing remains the same though - the kind of horse trading that happened in 1919 happened in 1815, and again in Dayton in 1995. The only thing that changes are the public justifications.
The principal players at the Vienna Congress are well known and very famous - Tallyrand of France, Metternich of Austria, Alexander of Russia. I hadn't known much about Castlereagh of England before reading this book, but Nicholson painted a very sympathetic portrait - he was a complex man living in a difficult age. Tallyrand isn't described much in this book - it was written very much from a UK perspective. Still, it was fascinating to see how he brought France from the position as loser of the war to near equal at the negotiation table - the man was brilliant.
After reading this book, I went to my shelf in search of another tome on that era - "The Birth of the Modern: World Society, 1815-1830". It's a very different book, looking at the forces that drove the creation of the modern world, according to the author, Paul Johnson. I bought it years ago, but I guess it wasn't time for me to read it. Now it is. It's massive - 1000 pages. I suspect I'll be reading it for awhile. I'm not done with WWI yet, either - I've got Tuchman's "The Guns of August" as my bedtime book.
The end of Nicholson's book has me interested in Europe through the revolutions of 1848 - Metternich spent a lot of time trying to tamp that down, and I'd like to read about that era. Anyone have any suggested reading?
This post on Http GET and side effects - in light of Google's Web Accelerator - made me think about something. I only just posted on this, but now I've read a bit more and thought about it. Here's what BitWorking has to say:
Let's start talking about you. And by you I mean all the web application developers out there that have been mis-using HTTP. Now I've been telling you over and over how to use HTTP correctly, how to build you web applications in a RESTful manner, and the consequences you could face if you didn't. Well, you didn't listen to me, did you 37Signals? Did you? Now Google releases their Web Accelerator and your application is broken. Apparently you used GET to delete items from Backpack and when Googles Web Accelerator pre-fetches that URI in you web app, items get deleted. Let's make this clear, Google didn't break your application, your application was broken, Google was just the first person to point it out to you. Do you feel the pain? Do you feel it?
Well, let's not get too self righteous or too far ahead of ourselves, hmm? Let's talk about something that's been an off and on topic in the syndication world for awhile - RFC 3229. That spec defines how a web server can answer incremental changes from a client. In the context of a news aggregator, that means only items that are new/changed since the last such request. In order to implement that on the server side, you'll need a dynamic feed, using header information in a GET request.
Well. The GET request effects a state change in the server with respect to the client in question. This is arguably a good thing for any conforming clients, since it reduces the amount of traffic that needs to be served. It's also something that Google's accelerator could render completely useless. I emphasize could - it's unclear to me whether the request sent by Google would include the requisite header info.
The point though, is this - not all client requests that result in a server state change are bad things. Heck, if they are we better get rid of 304, right now. The purists shouting from the rooftops about state free GET requests haven't thought this one all the way through.
I was watching the latest "Medium" on the Replay, when I had a thought - a lot of recent shows with a paranormal bent have gone with a "good" psychic in opposition with a "bad" psychic - The ill fated "Point Pleasant" operated like that, as did "Tru Calling". Obviously, "Revelation" is doing that, and even "Buffy" went that way when Faith went bad. None of this is surprising, of course - good vs. evil is a very old theme.
So anyway, I was watching "Medium", and jokingly asked my wife when they would add an evil medium to oppose the heroine. She gave a scoffing look, but then the preview for next week came on - and sure enough, there it was. Within Hollywood, there's definitely conservation of story lines...
All the excitement around Google's accelerator psuhed the updates out of my head for a few days - here's today's reminder:
VisualAge & GemStone/S application development utilities
Tuesday 8:30 am to 9:15 am
VisualAge & GemStone/S application development utilities Our financial application is written in VisualAge and GemStone/S. Over the years we've developed a set of utilities to help with our application development. We will show our GemStone code synchronization and instance migration tools, GemStone object archiving, ENVY change reports, icon management tool, runtime error notification, method trace tools, and a number of miscellaneous features. Our experience with utility development has reinforced our opinion that the ability to extend the development environment is a fundamental strength of Smalltalk.
Don't forget to register! See you in Orlando.
Someone claimed I deleted some comments. I did not. I don't delete comments. Even very distasteful ones. Even ones who call me an idiot. Even ones that say discriminatory things.
Why not? Because I believe strongly in freedom of speech. Even speech I might hate. It takes a thick skin. Yes, I have provided a soap box for people to say some distasteful things. Yes, most corporate types don't agree that I should give people such a soap box (I know most other corporate webloggers delete comments).
But, I think it's important to hear from everyone, not just those I like
There's something to that, sure. On the other hand, deleting distasteful, obnoxious comments is also a matter of cleaning up the commons. To a large extent, allowing a completely open forum for things like swearing, porn, racism, (what have you) is tacit acceptance of such commentary. Ask yourself this question - would you be happy with having that kind of commentary in the presence of your kids? I know I'm not.
It's not censorship to impose standards and express disapproval. Social disapproval is a very strong force, and it's how things like racism, sexism, and other ism's get fixed. You can wave at government enforced tolerance all you want, but in a free society, you don't get law without a fairly strong social consensus. You need social disapproval before you'll ever see a legal framework backing you. Which takes me back to disapproval of nastiness - it's a matter of not allowing the commons to be taken over by the forces of ugliness.
Allowing open debate does not mean that you have to put up with rude, obnoxious behavior. Cleaning that up helps make for a better society that is less likely to clamor for censorship. Tolerating all manner of rudeness in public only sets you up for a backlash later - and the same people who initially supported the supposed tolerance are always stunned to see the backlash develop. They shouldn't be.
I can’t imagine why he was disorderly when you’ve just made him hang up on his mother, who could be killed at any point. That’s just irrational behavior on his part. Oh wait, no, these shmucks, who pass for “principals,” need to lose their job for not giving one iota about the child, and only about the rules. This is why our school system sucks. It’s become nothing but an amalgam of rules and regulations, punishment and retribution, testing over learning, and what we are creating are proto-drones for the workforce, not vibrant individuals.
Arrested? For talking on the cell phone? And you think you’re being “nice” by just suspending him? Asshats. So what would have been the “right response?” That’s hard to say, but likely it would have been a warning, or something similar.
All they care about at the schools now are rules. There's absolutely no room for judgment at all - which has to make you wonder about the tacit lessons that kids are learning. At my daughter's school, kids can be suspended for bringing cough drops or aspirin without a doctor's note - one from the parents won't suffice. She was terrified that the school was going to kick her out when my wife gave her a pseudofed in the car, since the car was in the school parking lot.
The origins of this are an extreme aversion to risk, and - most especially - an aversion to potential legal liability. The perceived risk of suits is apparently so high that we've ended up with absurd regulatory regimes in the schools. Note I said the perceived risks - I have no idea what the actual risks are. While there's a lot of reporting about stupid lawsuits, it's dangerous to assume a lot based on that kind of anecdotal evidence. Either way though, it's a very bad thing.
Misbehaving mistakes common word usage for sexism. Here's a useful tip before rushing off the deep end and crying sexism (or racism, etc, etc) - it's not always about you.
In the last build of BottomFeeder, I accidentally broke support for Atom 0.3 feeds. I was adding support for the putative Atom 1.0 standard, and factored my code badly - thus breaking Atom 0.3 feeds in Bf. I've got an update available - grab the latest BottomFeeder.pcl if you haven't been seeing updates to feeds that you should have been. I'm also replacing the full builds on the download site, since they had this flaw baked in.
Rakaz illustrates a number of issues that confront authors of aggregators - this resonates well with me, since I just fixed a mistake in Bf that broke the app's ability to read Atom 0.3 feeds. The sheer number of feed varieties, as well as the volume of interpretations of same, has led to chaos. At the moment, the latest rev of BottomFeeder reads all of them. Who knows what will happen tomorrow :)
For more evidence of the power of inertia in the development space, have a look at this post (read the comments) from the BaseCamp developers. They use Ruby, and ran smack into the "why didn't you use (insert other language here)" argument. In this example, it's PHP. I like this response to that argument, and it's what I think about the "but what about all the Java developers" arguments I get on a regular basis:
When you say "I really can't see how it would be slower to code something in PHP than in another language" then you've already closed all ears to argument. If you think PHP—or any language—is the be all, end all of development in any domain, I can only wish you the best of luck in your future endevours. Perhaps you could be so kind as to reveal your name, so future clients could know that this is your opinion and choose their engagement so advised?
The bizarro world is the one where inertia rules the land and any tool but the one in your hand must be feared or distrusted. If you're interested in stepping back into the world of informed opinion and facts with specific questions instead of meaningless slander, let me know. I'm happy to answer based on my experiences with developing both PHP and Ruby and with the data we have on finding Ruby programmers.
Update: Link added after the commenters pointed out that I forgot it.
Scoble is wondering about the knowledge divide in the computer/software sector:
I'm finding this too. When I talk with audiences I either find people who are very familiar with the blog world (if you know what Technorati is, for instance, you are probably one of those people), while most people just don't know much about our little world at all.
I've talked about this divide before, and I think it's a simple one. The people who don't follow things that closely are mostly put off by the fact that the PC (and the Mac, for that matter - never mind Linux) are not consumer grade devices. Consider a TV, or a stereo, or an iPod or a TiVO. For the most part, you plug them in, hook them up, and go. There are steps to get at the more advanced features, but consider what you never have to worry about:
- Applying software updates (if they happen at all, they happen without user intervention)
- Viruses, spam, malware of any kind
- General twiddling of settings that seem irrelevant to you, the end consumer
Computers just aren't like that yet. If you want to be safe, you always need to be on the lookout for the latest updates from your OS vendor and from the vendors of the various tools you use (Firefox, etc.). It's way more babysitting than most people want to do for something they purchased - especially since they don't need to for the rest of the stuff they buy.
Where is this going? A plethora of single purpose devices, I think - like the iPod, the TiVo, et. al. General purpose computers will likely go back to being hobbyist tools, with simpler, easier to deal with, consumer grade devices taking over the common chores.
Register for StS 2005 now - so you can hear about interesting community work like this:
Monteiro, Charles: OCIT
Tuesday 9:15 am to 10 am
Abstract: OpentalkMatrix is a p2p application in some respects similar to LimeWire. It will be used as the context for discussion of Opentalk ST-ST distributed object messaging protocol. The discussion will include issues related to secured communications in particular integrating with Stunnel, gnutella-like query propagation, among other things. The discussion will not assume any prior knowledge of Opentalk ST-ST and therefore it will also include a brief introduction to the related concepts. There will be a demonstration of OpentalkMatrix which will consist of searching for components on a network and downloading the components to the query issuer's node. Currently, a component can be any file type. However, special treatment is provided for parcels. A query for a parcel will find said parcel and not only download the parcel but all pre-requisite parcels as well as other non-parcel files that have been registered as pre-requisites i.e. typically configuration and data files, possibly images etc. Once loaded the parcel can then be engaged i.e. launched.
There is a security mechanism in place to secure unauthorized download of components. Currently, it is password based but the basic framework is in place to do more sophisticated enforcement. OpentalkMatrix, also illustrates the notion of an SRE (Smalltalk Runtime Environment). It is also somewhat similar to what Java Web Start does i.e. it accomplishes the same thing. Note that the plan is to provide support for another type of component namely a "service". A service is something that does something for you on the p2p network. Once a service is found then said service can be engaged.
Finally the demo hopefully will include audience participation i.e. attendees should be able to logon onto the wireless p2p network and find something i.e. such as they would were they using LimeWire.
Bio: Charles A. Monteiro has been the chair of NYC Smalltalk for the last 4 years and been a member since 1996. He has been actively using Smalltalk since 1994 and has delivered enterprise applications to Fortune 500 companies such as Florida Power & Light, Keyspan Enery and ADP. His professional application experience has involved diverse technical areas such as custom pen graphics, geographical information systems, object database systems, multimedia consumer apps, web enablement of AS400 systems and peer to peer systems. The business domains include gas and electric utlities, finance, music education, EAI and database tools.
Charles is currently the technical architect and project lead for an established small NYC metro based financial software firm where Opentalk is actively being used. The company's clients include one of the largest banks in the world. Other Smalltalk related activities include working on a open source Traits implementation for VisualWorks. Most of his leisure time however is spent playing and studying the guitar.
See you in Orlando!
I'm off to Raleigh-Durham this morning, up at the glorious hour of 4:30 am so that I could make it to DCA in time fr a 6:37 AM flight. Joy. So here I am at DCA, waiting for my flight to board - and the powers that be here at this airport haven't heard of WiFi. It's kind of amazing, really - with all the Congressmen, lobbyists, and aides that pass through here, you would figure that connectivity would be a no brainer. Then again, maybe "no brain" is the appropriate thought here in DC...
One of the interesting things about flying is looking at the landscape from above. I've read a fair bit of American history at this point, and one of the things I know is that the east coast was nearly deforested by the end of the 19th century. That's no longer true - even in a heavily populated corridor like the east coast, the forests are back in a big way. A quick look out the window shows that - as we left the DC area, the towns and suburbs all look like they are nestled into the forest. It's not primeval forest by any stretch of the imagination, but it's not a denuded wasteland either. It's really quite remarkable, all things considered.
One of the things I've noticed is that the number of RSS/Atom enabled searches is proliferating - and my current approach of adding direct supprt simply isn't going to scale. So, I'm going to add support for user-definable search feeds before the next release. It's an easy modification, and ne I've been considering for awhile.
I had a great meeting this afternoon - I can't really talk about it yet, but you can expect to hear some news from us before Smalltalk Solutions. Now I'm back at the RDU airport, with a good connection - nothing like the slow link this morning. I didn't even have to pay again - I had purchased a 24 hour pass earlier, and I'm actually getting to use it again.
With any luck, I'll be home this evening - my ticket wouldn't normally allow standby today (I'm scheduled out tomorrow - we wrapped up early) - but the ticket agent for American was very nice and very helpful - all they asked was a ticket change fee, and if I don't get on tonight, I can get that refunded. Since the change fee is the same as a hotel night, I break even on the deal. Fingers crossed :)
Register for StS 2005, so you can attend talks like this one:
Smalltalk in an Autonomous Ground Vehicle -- A New Direction
Tuesday 10:30 am to 11:15 am
Abstract: Autonomous vehicles are an emerging technology that are ideally suited for exploration, reconnaissance, inspection, and monitoring. The software required to successfully pilot an autonomous vehicle must be very robust, capable of complex behaviors, and also be easy to maintain and extend. Smalltalk fits the bill on all of these requirements.
This demo will show Orion, a simple hobby-level autonomous ground vehicle built by the presenter's brother, with the high-level "brain" of the system running in Squeak Smalltalk on an embedded Linux single-board computer. The autonomous controller for this vehicle can also control many other autonomous vehicles, including MicroSeeker, the presenter's autonomous underwater vehicle. Orion is being built to compete in the RoboMagellan compeition held by the Seattle Robotics Society in September.
Bio: Jon Hylands has been doing Smalltalk programming since 1987. Jon's main interests include hobby robotics and autonomous submersibles, and making Smalltalk work on embedded devices.
See you in Orlando!
One of the things that's buzzing around the blogosphere is the whole related content thing. There's attention.xml, an effort from Technorati to give you feedback on how often stuff you care about is updated; there's the venerable trackback, which attempts (when not being spammed out of existence) to cross link posts. And of course there's comments.
All this got me thinking - I already have filtering in BottomFeeder - you can create keywords which, if they show up in a post, will suppress that item. What about the other end of that though - content which, if it shows up, should be elevated? And keyword based isn't enough - you want to be able to flag content that, according to you, is related. So, I opened up a workspace in BottomFeeder (one of the cooler things about having a full environment available in the app) and wrote this:
| relations items results | relations := Dictionary new. relations at: 'aggregator' put: #('rssbandit' 'rss bandit' 'bottomfeeder' 'newsgator' 'feeddemon' 'feed demon'). items := RSSFeedManager default getAllItems. results := Dictionary new. results at: 'aggregator' put: OrderedCollection new. items do: [:each | relations keysAndValuesDo: [:key :values | | matchOrNil toMatch | toMatch := each description. toMatch notNil ifTrue: [matchOrNil := values detect: [:eachValue | ('*', eachValue, '*') match: toMatch] ifNone: [nil]. matchOrNil notNil ifTrue: [(results at: key) add: each]]]]. ^results
So what does that do? First, I defined a dictionary that pointed to related terms (the names of a few aggregators). Then I ran through all the items, looking for matches, and slapping them into a results dictionary. This isn't that fast; doing it incrementally as items arrived would be a lot more optimal. Still - the nice thing is that I could experiment on live data in a running application. Here's a screenshot of the resulting inspector:
That's an interesting "first cut" at thinking about this problem. Clearly, there are things to consider here - for instance, say I wanted to find things related to RSS, Atom, (etc). I want items that mention those, but I don't want to include items that just include links to feeds that end in .rss (etc). So - it's a simple sounding problem with a lot of complexity behind it.
I know, I know - any second now, the RDF crew is going to explain how RDF triples solve this entire problem. Which might be true, IF all feeds out there were in RDF. Since they aren't, we have to look elsewhere for answers...
The coding contest for StS 2005 is coming up quickly:
The Smalltalk Industry Council is pleased to announce the first annual 2005 Smalltalk Solutions Smalltalk Coding Contest. The Smalltalk Solutions Technical Conference will be held in Orlando June 27-29, 2005 and will serve as the home for the coding competition finale. Smalltalk Solutions is the premier forum for bringing together Smalltalk users, developers, vendors, and enthusiasts.
Coding contest prizes include:
1st round of the competition
The top 3 ranked in no particular order will receive a free conference registration and a free membership to STIC
2nd Round of the Competition
- 1st Place - $1,000 USD to be used towards a future Camp Smalltalk attendance
- 2nd Place - iPod
- 3rd Place- iPod shuffle
Each of the finalists of the first portion of the contest will receive a Smalltalk Solutions 2005 conference registration valued at $670 USD as well as a complimentary individual membership to the STIC. This does not include travel, lodging meals, tutorials, or any other fees associated with the conference attendance. Please note, in order to compete in the second round of the contest, finalists must be able to attend the conference. The second round of the contest will consist of the three highest ranking contestants who are able to attend the 2005 Smalltalk Solutions conference.
The Smalltalk Solutions Coding Competition is broken into two phases of competition. The first phase begins on Monday, May 16 at 9 a.m. EST and ends on Wednesday, May 18 at 9 a.m. EST running for 48 consecutive hours. Registration will begin March 1 and participants must register for the competition online at www.stic.org by May 13 at 6 p.m. EST. Confirmed registrants will receive the requirements for the first phase online. All coding must be done in Smalltalk. The problem will require a web application. Client GUIs will not be acceptable solutions.Conference registration is not required to participate in the first phase of the competition. Please note, in order to compete in the second round of the contest, finalists must be able to attend the conference. The second round of the contest will consist of the three highest ranking contestants who are able to attend the 2005 Smalltalk Solutions conference.
One representative from each of the four board member companies consisting of Cincom Systems, GemStone, IBM, and Knowledge Systems Corporation will judge the first phase of the competition. Each submission will be submitted to the judges as blind submissions and a total of three (3) winners will be selected to compete onsite at Smalltalk Solutions 2005 in Orlando, Florida. The winners of the first phase will be announced on June 1, 2005 on the Smalltalk Industry Council web site.
The second and final phase of the competition will take place on Sunday, June 26, 2005 from 6 p.m. to10 p.m. onsite at the Wyndham Orlando during Smalltalk Solutions pre-registration. The details of the second phase of the competition will not be released to the finalists until the competition begins.
Prize winners will be announced during the keynote general session on Wednesday, June 29, 2005.
In particular, the convention has been established that the GET and HEAD methods SHOULD NOT have the significance of taking an action other than retrieval. These methods ought to be considered "safe".
As Don points out, SHOULD NOT is not at all the same as MUST NOT. There is this, also quoted by Don:
Naturally, it is not possible to ensure that the server does not generate side-effects as a result of performing a GET request; in fact, some dynamic resources consider that a feature.
The important distinction here is that the user did not request the side-effects, so therefore cannot be held accountable for them.
I'm with Don on this one though - the user in this case is a bot, not the person in front of the screen. Most people who are using applications with unsafe GETs are not, in fact, internet spec experts, and have no idea that the bot they installed - the one promising faster page loads - is busy hitting all sorts of page links that may have side effects.
An interesting question at this point would be - how many internet banking sites have unsafe GETs embedded in them? If there are any, I rather expect that the first GWA interaction with one of those will be interesting, to say the least...
I know that this has been commented on by other people, but it's an interesting piece of "police action" on the internet - Google was irritatated enough by the pagerank scamming that syndic8 was up to that they've removed them from their index. Go ahead - Google for Syndic8. Notice how they don't come up? Bill Kearny, one of the guys behind the site, has managed to get them to appear on page one (down a few links) by redirecting from his domain, but wow - that's a penalty. The take-away from this? Don't go wild with your SEO tricks if you want to be found.
Sci Fi Wire reports that Carnivale is gone:
HBO confirmed that it is canceling Carnivale, its Depression-era supernatural drama, after two seasons, Variety reported. HBO had produced a total of 24 episodes in the show's run.
It was a pretty decent show - I liked it well enough, my wife loved it. I wish they had just ended it instead of giving it the ambiguous send off they did. Compare the ending of the show (where the Preacher was being brought back by Sofie) with the way "Buffy" always wrapped a season, or with the way "Veronica Mars" ended last night. In both cases, a season wrap could stand as a series wrap if the show bit the dust.
Looks like I'll be storing up posts for later again - I'm attending a seminar on Open Source (from a legal/licensing standpoint) in Tyson's Corner, VA. The seminar is being put on by LSI (Law Seminars International). Why am I attending this, you ask? Well, we (the Cincom Smalltalk team) get asked about open source with respect to our product quite frequently. We don't have any plans to go that way at present - but I'm always on the lookout for more and better information. First up - Rick Statile of RedHat, on the GPL and the LGPL. Looks like Rick is a General Counsel for RedHat - his background is in M&A, where OSS license issues can crop up in interesting ways
- Cover the GPL and the LGPL
- History of the GPL
- GPL Themes and Issues
- Discussion of the text of the GPL
- LGPL differences
This is looking at the GPL (and LGPL) from the legal side - and from that standpoint, the GPL is short - only 3000 words (as opposed to many commercial licenses - which are often much longer). Interesting stats here - of the (at the time the stats were gathered) projects on SourceForge:
- 63,094 projects
- 43,578 under the GPL
- 7095 under the LGPL
So roughly 80% of the SF projects are under the GPL or the LGPL. His take - the license reads more like a manifesto or political document than like a license. First written in 1989, version 2 in 1991 - never challenged in court. Inspired by Stallman's experience with EMACS authorship.
GPL Themes and Issues:
- "Free"- gratis vs. libre
- "Viral" nature of the GPL - what does this mean?
- Is it a contract or a naked copyright license?
- What about software patents and the GPL?
- Revising/future versions
- Compat with other OSS licenses
- Warranties/Limitations of Liability
The preamble is like a manifesto, although it's not "formally" part of the license itself. It's not at all clear whether a court would take it into account when interpreting the license. Rick believes that the preamble would be taken into account, since a court may not find the actual contents clear enough. There's also Stallman's public comments and the FSF website FAQs on it.
The outline of the GPL - Rick states that it's clear here that the license was not written by a lawyer. It's also not necessarily congruent with copyright law (especially with respect to derivative works) - but this license was written before a lot of current jurisprudence was determined. Trademarks are completely left out of the license (example - redistribution of RedHat Linux involves stripping the trademarks out).
Section 1: covers redistribution rights. You have to include the GPL, note the absence of a warranty.
Section 2: covers modification/derivative work. This is where the "viral" nature comes in. Defines derivative works very broadly - any inclusion of any GPL code potentially makes the entire thing fall under the GPL. Rick: "Uses Copyright law against itself" - forces an author to keep their programs open. It's explicitly not a public domain thing - copyright is still in force.
Section 3: Specifies that you have to either include source, or make it available on request at nominal (i.e., only shipping) costs. Clearly written pre-internet (no cost of distro).
Here's the kicker - the viral nature of the license can open software that you would like to keep proprietary. Running a proprietary application on a GPL OS (i.e., Linux) is ok. Shipping on the same CD is fine as well, and does not open it. On the other hand, including GPL software with yours can open it. Question: "What do you mean by including?" So loading GPL code into an application may well infect it - another speaker is going to cover this later.
Rick's take - he thinks that it's unlikely that a court would force proprietary code to be opened (even if distributed) - he instead thinks that there might be copyright infringement, and damages might be assessed - and an injunction would forbid further distribution. This is clearly a point that much of the audience isn't in agreement with. In fact, one of the audience members pointed out that in Germany, the GPL has been enforced such that shipping software has been pushed under the GPL (under mutual agreement though - so still not clear).
The key reason that Rick believes this is that the GPL is a license, not a contract. There's no contract to specify specific damages, which is why the theory is that you would get an injunction preventing further shipment without a contract or removal. Big question here to define the difference between "shipping" and "distributing" - of concern to government agencies (if agency 1 gives code including GPL to agency 2, is that shipping of distributing?). The theory is, certainly within an agency it's not shipping (i.e., does not trigger the viral nature). People differ when you cross agency lines. Which raises the same question in my mind about distribution between business units of a firm, depending on the legal structure of the firm. Hmmm.
My take here - a court is going to have a lot of fun with this when it finally gets tested :)
The Acceptance clause (Section 5) - modifying or distributing implies acceptance (which is why Rick says it's a license and not a contract). The really tricky thing is patents - when the license was first written, Microsoft had no software patents. Now, they've exploded. There are firms (insurance firms wanting to make money) claiming that Linux infringes 283 patents, including 27 held by MS (but a lot are held by Linux friendly companies like IBM) - so Rick's thought is that we have what amounts to MAD protection here - MS won't launch because it would result in a large IBM response. Joy :)
How does it differ from the LGPL? The LGPL attempts to address the "viral" nature of the license in the face of link libraries. The consensus seems to be that static links trigger, while dynamic links don't. However, Rick says: Consult a lawyer.
This talk looks at a variety of Open Source licenses - given by David Teske, a lawyer who works in this area. Heh - he starts out by welcoming us to the "Less Stressful" part of the program. He calls the GPL the "800 lb Gorilla" rather than the "grandaddy" of Open Source licenses. It absorbs almost all discussion of OSS.
The basic problem behind this morning's earlier conversations - the mismatch between standard copyright law and software. We simply haven't resolved this issue. This talk will cover 4 licenses - Mozilla, (same as Sun's, generally), BSD, Sleepycat, and Apache.
- Non-restrictive - BSD, SleepyCat, and Apache
- Restrictive - MPL
The BSD license was the first one of these on the ground (including the GPL). It's purpose was to enhance collaboration while protecting the University (Berkely). The BSD is purely defensive - it doesn't "stick" to the code. What the BSD impacts are source and binary redistribution under a few conditions.
The BSD grants use "as-is" (i.e., like you found/developed it yourself). No express or implied warranties, no liabilities for damages under any theory of use. There are a few obligations - when you redistribute the source/binary, you must include the original copyright notice, and you can't use the contributor's name for advertising.
The SleepyCat license is a tweaked BSD license. It's nearly identical to the BSD - in the disclaimer, it specifically lists non-infringement as a warranty not provided. Section 3 adds some uncertainty:
- Some unclear language on how you must include source.
- The source must be freely redistributable under "reasonable conditions" (meaning what?)
This is an example of how a forked license often creates a less useful dead end. Next - the MPL, which was derived out of a desire to move between the openess of the BSD and the restrictions of the GPL. The main thing - covered code has to go under the MPL, so unlike the BSD, code under the MPL stays under the MPL. What rights does it grant?
- Perform (not really applicable to software, but included anyway).
- Use and sub-license
The MPL tries to define a modification more cleanly than the GPL. It's any "addition or deletion from the substance or structure". It's any new file that includes any part of the covered code. [ed] - again, very biased towards the world Smalltalk doesn't live in - I'd be interested to see how a new parcel in VW with an override of an existing method/class in the system gets defined here...
The original authors and each later contributor grants a broad patent license to each licensee in any patent rights it can license that would otherwise be infringed by that code inserted by the licensor. The business needs of Netscape (original developer of MPL) show through here. The MPL also includes explicit terms for the removal of license rights. It's a pretty broad attempt to prevent patent suits by licensees.The MPL also - like the GPL - prevents the licensor from changing the license terms in an additional document. On the other hand, release under different terms entirely is allowed.
Finally, the Apache License (1.0/1.1) - like the BSD. The ASL 2.0 combines aspects of the BSD, MPL, and GPL. The ASL 2.0 grants copyright license as per the MPL, in the same order. It then defines derivative works, more like the GPL. Patent license is like the MPL, somewhat less expansive. The ASL allows derived works to be distributed under a different license - provided that you are not breaching the ASl in your own use. It also explicitly allows warranties and liability, as well as charging for support (etc).
Peter Moldave (lawyer) is going to cover a few more licenses - Artistic, intel, MIT, NASA, PHP. These cover 4% of the licenses used on SourceForge (as opposed to 80% for the GPL/LGPL).
MIT, Intel, PHP - like BSD
Artistic, NASA - unique, some MPL like properties
All of these are OSI compliant (Artistic 2.0 is not listed). The NASA one merely adds language about export law (US). The MIT, Intel, and Artistic 2.0 are "GPL compatible". PHP is "free" but not "GPL compatible". Compatible here means that code under a GPL compatible license may be used in a GPL licensed project.
MIT, Intel, PHP - all simple. The Artistic and NASA licenses are complicated. MIT, Intel, PHP - no substantial restrictions imposed. Artistic - modified source need not be distributed if standard source is available. NASA - restrictive, modified source must be distributed. With all of these licenses, larger works are allowable - no restrictions.
MIT, Intel, PHP - no pricing constraints. Artistic:
- Can't charge for the code
- Can only charge a reasonable copying fee
- Can charge for support
- Can charge for larger work
NASA - source code must be freely available, not clear beyond that. Then there's patent treatments - other than NASA license, all of these are silent. NASA license has a specific grant of patent rights. The treatment of combination patents and modifications specified. Peter's take here - he's yet to see an OSS license that goes over patent rights in a helpful way. Only the NASA license requires any kind of warranty - the rest simply disclaim. What about output use (i.e., is the output of a compiler a "derivative work? What about a parser?). The Artistic and NASA licenses attempt to address, but get to technically specific (Artistic speaks explicitly about C and Perl routines - go figure).
All of these provide specifics on internal/external use, and opening of derived works. What about utility (i.e., do we actually need them?) - MIT, PHP, Intel - no real difference from the BSD. Artistic: 1.0 Unclear, and the V2.0 gets a lot closer to the GPL or perhaps the MPL. NASA - long and complex.
Larry is going to talk about the Academic Free Licenses and the Open Software License:
- AFL: not reciprocal (like the BSD)
- OSL: reciprocal (like the GPL)
The idea behind these two is to create two licenses that cover the ground between the GPL on the one hand, and the BSD on the other. The OSL lists all the provisions in section 106 of (US) copyright. The OSL contains the reciprocal (viral) clause. The AFL does not include that clause. The idea here is to provide two licenses that are mostly the same, but allow for that difference.
These licenses don't define "Derivative Work", leaving that as an exercise to the courts and lawyers. These licenses try to spell out that you get patent rights based on those that are embodied in the original work, and that they carry through to derivative works. The OSL license also try to mail down the concept of "distribution" by defining an "External Deployment" as any use by someone other than you. The AFL doesn't deal with this, as it doesn't care about reciprocity. Note that this definition calls ASP usage a "distribution".
So I asked - what if you offered a virtual Linux box as part of a grid service? that counts as a distribution in this sense, according to Larry. The basic issue is that the Copyright Act doesn't define distribution (not surprisingly - the world was different then).
What about disclaimer of warranty? The OSL and AFL warrants that the licensor has the right to grant you a license. This eliminates the "where did it come from?" problem that people worry about with OSS. This puts the risk back on the licensor, as they are warranting that they have the right to distribute. The license also states that any bringing of a patent claim (against the original work) by the licensee against the licensor or any other licensee will terminate the license (and thus the granted rights).
Heather J. Meeker on the CPL. It was approved in 2001 by the OSI, is a lot like the MPL. It was written to generalize the terms so that any OS originator (i.e., non-IBM) could use it.It came from the earlier IPL. Like the MPL, these licenses were intended to be accessible to lawyers and corporations. It is a viral license - version 0.5 was developed for Eclipse, the current version is 1.0.
The CPL distinguishes between original contributors and subsequent contributors. It also defines recipients. What you end up with is a stream of licensors (down the chain of contributors) - it's basically another way of saying sub-licensor, more or less (question from Larry Rosen). The CPL is explicit about copyright and patent licenses. The language I'm looking at on the screen was definitely written by a corporate lawyer - I nearly fell asleep just reading the first sentence.
Interesting isclaimer on infringement - the CPl puts the onus on the person wishing to redistribute to get patent rights if they are required. Definitely corporate friendly :) Another thing - subject to indemnification of contributors, distributors may offer different business terms to licensees. So, you can offer the software commercially for money. And another hint that this is a corporate license - the license explicitly states that each party waives its rights to a jury trial in any resulting litigation.
Interesting kicker on this last bit - the federal government has issues with automatic license termination and decisions about default litigation terms. Commercial firms probably have specific contracts for federal agencies for those cases - but that makes open source terms really interesting.
This is an exploration of the various OSS licenses by Dov Scherzer (a lawyer in this field). The main thing - virtually no jurisprudence yet. Only one US case, some evolving ones in Germany. The US case (Progress Software vs. MySQL AB) was settled. To be clear, he explains that OSS is not:
- Proprietary software
- Public domain
Boy, there are a lot of interesting questions from the government people, and a bunch of assumptions based on regulations I'm not familiar with :) Apparently, some section of US code has something to do with public domain and government code, or people here think it does.
So what's the reason for the LGPL? It's intended to allow libraries that don't "infect" applications. The idea is that an LGPL library can be used with a proprietary program, and not "infect" it. Again, the whole issue revolves around the concept of linking, and the notions used in the LGPL and GPL make a lot of C/C++ assumptions. Gosh knows what this means in the world of languages like Smalltalk, Lisp, or even Java.
Is the GPL a binding contract? It's "clickwrap", not an actual contract. It's included with the sources, possibly as a separate file. On many sites, there's no explicit mention of the GPL other than in the source listings. So is it binding? Current jurisprudence states that Clickwrap, Shrinkwrap, and Browsewrap licenses are valid only if the user has made some kind of affirmative act to agree to the terms.
So what do the license terms that claim to push any derived work under the GPL mean?
- GPL vs. the Copyright act
- Hypo - what if I take 2 GPL lines and stuff them into a huge app?
- The GPL says boom - derivative work Ii.e., it's been opened)
- The copyright act differs (does not call it a derivative work).
A question here - what does copyright's "fair use" mean here? 2 lines? 100 lines? What? Under copyright law, it's not a derivative work unless it has substantially copied from a prior work. What this means in terms of source code is not clear (at least to me :) ). Current case work is pretty much on artistic work (art, text, music). Is using a small module different? What makes two pieces of code combined? Same storage media, but separated? Not combined. Same executable? Combined. [ed] - but even there, it's not clear - what about a Java JAR file or a Smalltalk parcel? The "same executable" standard seems to imply a problem here. Here's an interesting example - he addresses plugins, and states that it depends on how the plugin is used/invoked.
Again, I'd say that some court is going to have a ball with this some day. Another example from the slide deck: Load a GPL library into a non-GPL code base. Derive a subclass of one of the loaded classes - according to the FSF FAQ, that opens the entire application. The bottom line according to Dov: at present, you need both a lawyer and a technical expert to decipher the GPL FAQs. At present, none of this has been tested in court. We just don't know.
Here's the post lunch slump, but to keep us awake we have Douglas E. Phillips on the GPL and enforcement. Interestingly, there's been a recent filing challenging the GPL on anti-trust grounds in Indiana - so there should be a lot to talk about here. Douglas says he's going to focus specifically on the "viral" aspects of the license.
Eben Moglen of the FSF calls any questioning of the GPL's enforceability as FUD, and blames Microsoft. [ed] - given the "easy target" nature of MS in the OSS space, that seems mighty convenient. Moglen claims that it's enforceable because he's been enforcing it in private settlements (which says nothing about how it would be taken in court). Asking in a public forum tends to attract immediate attacks on a personal level (seen in various USENET forums).
In 2003, the FSF has pursued 20-30 enforcement actions in private (as reported in Forbes). The FSF has been engaged by companies wanting enforcement (MySQL) to help. There haven't been many decisions yet - and Douglas says that this is a lot like the way the BSA has taken to challenging alleged violations.
A year ago, there was a CA vs. Quest Software suit that seemed to assume the GPL was enforceable. in July 2004, there was a decision in Munich Germany, which enjoined distribution w/o conformance with the license. That's still not a US based decision though, so it's not resolved in the US.
In the US, there's the infamous SCO case, and more recently - 2005 - there's a suit alleging that the GPL is a price fixing scheme hurting programmers. So what grounds are there to challenge?
- Constitutional violation
- Pre-empted by copyright law
- Violates export control laws
- Never been tested in court
- Fails under the UCC
- Fails under common law
- Violates anti-trust law
- Selectively enforced by FSF
- Fails as a copyright license
- Too vague
- Not effective as shrink/click wrap
License vs. Contracts: Moglen states that a license is permission to use property, while a contract is an exchange of obligations. Moglen states that the licensor has no obligations, so it's a pure copyright license (i.e., no contract necessary). Thus, shrinkwrap license enforcement are avoided. [ed] This seems shaky to me...
What about the courts? We can reach back to General talking Pictures Corp. vs. Western Electric Co. (1938), which allows the patentee to grant a license. There's a 1995 case (McCoy vs. Mitsubishi Cutlery, Inc) stating that a license is in fact a contract. Muddies the waters, that's for sure.
What about revocation? Copyright law states that non-exclusive licenses are revocable. The FSF argues with that in its FAQs: "The public already has the right to use the program under the GPL, and this right cannot be withdrawn". Seems to be a conflict there.
Is it enforceable as a contract? Need assent from both parties first. The GPL itself does not purport to be a contract, and the FSF states that it's not. So - how can a contract be formed? The question is, does copyright pre-empt this? In 1996, the court rejected preemption in ProCD vs. Zeidenberg, stating that "rights created by contract are not equivalent to any exclusive rights within the general scope of copyright". Also - "Contracts, by contrast, generally affect only their parties; strangers may do as they please, so contracts to do not create exclusive rights".
Then there's Alcatel USA vs. DGI Technologies (1999), where we learned that copyright law cannot be used to indirectly gain commercial control over products it does not have copyrighted. Hmm - what does that say about the derivative/viral part of the GPL? The way the GPL is worded, a one line inclusion triggers derivation, and that goes well beyond current jurisprudence on copyrights.
Now we get to the part that the corporate members of the audience are interested in - how to make money off this stuff :) This is coming from Mark Webbink, Deputy General Counsel at RedHat.
As to "can you make money"? At this point, Mark popped up a slide showing RedHat revenue growth, which is now over $100M annually. Interestingly, their revenues started to trend up again in 2003 when they went to subscription licensing. In fact, 70% of the revenue is from subscriptions, 30% from services. Most of the subscription revenue is Enterprise based.
How you build a business model depends on which license (style) you choose - GPL or BSD. taking GPL first:
- Must include source
- All redistributed code must be GPL
- No restrictions on copy, modify (etc)
- No binary only (proprietary) code
- No per user (etc) fees
And the BSD:
- Does not requires source
- No need to push everything under BSD
- May impose other conditions
- May be embedded in proprietary systems
- May charge license (etc) fees
Retail model - not used extensively anymore, Redhat, Suse, (etc) have moved off. Did not provide scalable revenue, did not appeal to enterprise buyers.
The Loss Leader model: Early RedHat distro model to get mindshare, and now used by IBM (Eclipse) and other large vendors. Mostly used by OEMs. What about Dual Licensing? That's how MySQL used to do business (GPL or binary only). The license varies at licensee's choice. Allows a proprietary license for binary only uses. Experience? Creates market confusion (which license do I want/need? Why do I need to pay?) SleepCat software is seeing this now.
Where is it at now? The bundling model (i.e., services and subscriptions). Have to be creative about what you are charging for based on the license. You can charge for warranties, or "other" services so long as you don't interfere with downstream rights. So you create a bundle and charge a subscription license for the convenience of bundling. You can bundle technology instead of a service: TiVo, for instance. Typically in embedded apps.
Bundling with patents? Not really likely with respect to the GPL. With BSD, possible. The GPL, with its downstream obligations, makes it unlikely. What about a membership model? Mandrake used this model when retail wasn't working for them - somewhat similar to public radio funding.
What about the "Free Riders"? This is inevitable with Open Source models. You get non-developing distributors, non-contributing consultants - and not all enhancements go back to the community.
Now we have Ed Walsh on patents an Open Source. He's an IP lawyer in Boston. This is the "what's the catch" talk of the day. He defines the FSF folks as in the ideologue camp. Then you have the people creating OSS, the developers. Finally, you have the people distributing OSS software (bundlers, like RedHat). You might also classify them as integrators. Finally, there are the users (and the employers of the users). So to answer a patent question about OSS, you have to figure out where people sit (to find out where they stand).
A separate group are patent "trolls" (i.e., the fine folks at Eolas - or, given this absurd filing, Jeff Bezos. So - Ideologues, developers, distributors - all things being equal, they might prefer that they not be patents at all.
Integrators: Building products on base of hardware/software. Wants "base" products to be free of restrictions. May want to distribute a product with restrictions. Does not want costs, wants freedom to operate.
Users: Want freedom to operate. Want to keep using software, don't want costs - direct or indirect.
Freedom to operate - is OSS more risky? The main risk is infringement of IP (or at least the perceived risk of that). Many of the proprietary vendors hold lots of patents (IBM, MS, Sun, etc). There haven't been many infringement cases yet - the SCO case is a bad example of what could come about. [ed] - I'll note in passing that Jonathan Schwartz of Sun has said "I like IP" - which means that even the supposed friends of open systems could easily jump ship.
First rule of litigation: Sue someone solvent (i.e., follow the money). Many of the larger vendors are using patents as "trading cards" - the rest of the field has to "pay to play" (settlements). With widespread distribution of source, (alleged) infringement is easy to spot.
What about community countermeasures? There's a public patent foundation that challenges egregious patents. There's also the Open Source law Center and the OSDL's legal defense fund. There's also infringment insurance and indemnities offered by vendors. As well, some of the OSS vendors (RedHat, for instance) are getting patents - potentially as a defensive measure (the MAD theory of patent acquisition). Many patents are bad simply because the PTO primarily looks for duplicative patents, not for prior art. This is a problem in a new field (like software). What about the "Patent Pledges" of some of the big vendors (IBM, Sun, MS)? They are claiming that they won't assert their patents against the OSS community - there are potential anti-trust limits on large scale agreements this way. Bearing in mind that a patent assertion typically costs $2M, and most OSS projects are (financially) poor, this can easily be taken as grandstanding.
The GPL has an implied patent license
- Uncertainty about what is licensed and to whom
- Your contributions, anything in the code, or anything in the code or later added to it?
- Your chain of title or the entire open source community?
What risks surround IP really depend on which OSS license you use. For instance - how do you manage patent cross-licenses and obligations under the GPL? How can you know who you aren't supposed to sue?
Ideologues don't like patents, never will. Distributors don't like patents, but are pragmatic. Integrators want it both ways, need a rational plan for their patents and those of others. users don't want to deal with patents, but need a rational plan.
This presentation comes down from theory into practice - what issues are there in using OSS licensed software? Alfred Kellog is an IP lawyer who specializes in software technology issues at UBS.
First off, there's a compelling value proposition (free!) On the legal side, it's an untested frontier:
- no judicial opinion validating the concept
- virtually no judicial opinion interpreting the provisions of the various OSS licenses
- no warranties or proof of non-IP infringement
- Reciprocal (viral) aspect of some licenses creates risk of unintended IP loss
So how do you utilize OSS without exposing yourself to excessive risk? What about risks you don't know about? (i.e., employee downloads that you are unaware of). Some of the risks you have to mitigate:
- Support - will you need it? Where will you get it?
- Lack of Warranties - What's the liklihood of a problem?
- Infringement claims - What is the risk, how do you figure it out? What are the consequences of a bad event?
- Non-compiance with license restrictions - are these easily satisfied?
- Loss of owed IP due to reciprocal features - How does your use impact? What is the uncertainty?
- License invalidity - hard to tell
- Unauthorized downloads - is there a policy in place explaining rules? Are there technical blocks? Can there be? What about open source that piggybacks with commercial products?
- Unauthorized open sourcing of your proprietary code by developers within your organization - need well known policies so that open source releases are planned
A presentation from Karen faulds CopenHaver of Black Duck Software. Interesting - she brought up Friedman's "Flat Earth" book and chapter 3 (on Open source) straight off. I guess I need to buy the book.
Anecdote - story of a developer that a colleague had to fire, because he wasn't producing software, he was downloading various bits from the web and integrating them - thus increasing the risk of unintentional opening of code based on various OSS (and proprietary) licenses that may have walked in. To be fair, she points out that lawyers copy boilerplate all the time, so it's not an odd thing at all.
Heh - the idea is that our IP laws and licenses should transfer to China (after they translate the various licenses out there). ironically, in "The Birth of the Modern", a book I'm reading now - one of the huge complaints that the UK publishing industry had against the US in the early 19th century was our (then) lack of concern for copyright law. The more things change...
So anyway, she's flogging compliance software that supposedly fingerprints open source software so that you can look up what you have versus what's "out there". I'd like to know how that works, and what assumptions it makes about the software methodology that the code comes from :)
Virtually all companies now work in a "mixed IP" environment. Software is being built evr higher on older layers of previous work. What are the compliance concerns?
- Absence of control over code available for download w/o charge
- Questions regarding code pedigree
- Assumption that licenses are unenforceable
She claims that "everyone" will start shipping source with everything. I think I'll introduce her to Apple and MS sometime :) In any event - the notion she's flogging is that you need to know what you can and can't do with the code combinations you have, which is a valid concern. As to whether this is a real concern? At least for public firms, you have the whole Sarbanes-Oxley madness, so it'll get attention. So - step one is assessing what you have, and then remediating based on what you found.
She's advocating starting small, with a pilot project - and carrying it through from start to finish. Avoid disrupting development, and anticipate employee concerns. For public companies - the ones with SarbOx issues - you need to worry about whistleblower implications. I'd add that this will be a bigger problem if - for whatever reason - you have a demoralized set of employees. For any remediation plan, you need to involve all the players (including developers), or it will get rejected out of hand.
The goal of all this? To understand what it is you are building/shipping, and making sure that any issues are identified early.
Ahh, everyone's favorite - the SCO suit. This talk is coming from David Bender, a well known attorney in this area of law. A short digression to set the table: Unix was born in 1969 at Bell Labs. It was widely licensed on nominal terms.
So onto SCO vs. IBM. Filed in 2003. Three complaints, and three sets of counter-claims. There's a motion pending for another complaint. very heavily litigated - as of April 2005, 437 docket entries. Five week trial is set for November 2005. Plaintiff: SCO, who markets Unix software. Defendent: IBM - markets a version of Unix called AIX. There are third party products - Linux in particular - that are Unix-like. The Linux claim is that this software was developed without relying on Unix code.
SCO alleges that IBM contributed a great deal of code derived from Unix software. The slide states that Linux is making inroads against MS, but the bigger issue, IMHO, is that it's making inroads against the various commercial Unix vendors, with SCO, at the low end, taking large scale damage. The most interesting thing to me, at this point - in my reading of the technical blogosphere, the SCO suit gets no respect (I certainly give it none, see above) - and is given no chance of success. The feel in this room is different. David points out that the biggest problem is that copyright law was written without software in mind, and it's fitting badly.
So how did Unix assets convey? From AT&T to Novell to Sabta Cruz Operation to the SCO Group (note: there's dispute on what went where on some of those steps). SCO claims that IBM breached its Unix license agreement with SCO's predecessor, AT&T by contributing derivative work to Linux. Their claim is that without these contributions, Linux would not be a viable competitor to SCO's Unix software (cue the loud guffaws from the tech blogosphere right there). They also claim copyright infringement, and claim that under the original AT&T agreement, they had the right to terminate IBM's license (which they did in 2003). Finally, they claimed unfair competition. SCO claims that IBM was well aware of these contracts and their meaning. SCO additionally claims that IBM intentionally harmed their business relationships by badmouting them with shared partners.
What does SCO want? $1B in restitution, and an injunction. Clearly, IBM doesn't agree :) The crux, it seems to me, is that SCO accepted the GPL by modifying and distributing Linux products for years. So, it's a "sour grapes" argument is what IBM says. IBM states that SCO acquired the rights to Unix software in an attempt to unify Unix and Linux - and that when that failed, they turned to a strategy of litigation.
Originally, SCO tried to claim a trade secrets infringement. When they couldn't identify any, they dropped that and started claiming that you need a SCO license to run Linux. IBM states that Linux developers will remove infringing code, if only SCO will identify it. SCO will not identify said infringement. So, IBM counter-claims that the AT&T/IBM agreement is breached by the attempted termination. They also make other claims under the lanham act, and claim that SCO has breached the GPL.
The original AT&T license looks confusing to me - it seems to state that IBM only had the right to use Unix and/or derivative works on internal systems and defined CPUs. If that's the cae, how do they ship any derived work? What am I missing here? This whole thing gets into what does or doesn't constitute a "derived work". It's at this point that I can state that I'm glad I'm not a lawyer - this is making my head spin. There's more - the people who signed the original IBM/AT&T contract could be called to testify, and they could be asked to explain what they understood the term "derivative work" to mean at the time. On another note, in Discovery, how does SCO identify supposedly infringing work?
SCO asserts that the added source is a derived work. Therefor, any of this code contributed to Linux constitutes a breach of the AT&T agreement. That's because derived work, according to the original license, it could only be used for internal purposes on designated machines. Then there's the GPL definition of the GPL:
either the program or ant derivative work under comyright law, that is to say, a work containing the Program or a portion of it...
Now David goes back to the Unix conveyances. There's no dispute that AT&T sold all rights to Novell. There's a huge dispute over what did or didn't go the Santa Cruz Operation in 1995. So Novell sold everything in 1.1(a) to SCO, except for schedule b:
- A "All rights and ownership of Unix"
- B "All Copyrights"
Ok, that's confusing :) There was a 1996 amendment - revised (b) to exclude all copyrights except those owned by Novell and required by SCO. Gah! The original agreement between IBm and AT&T doesn't seem to grant irrevocable rights, but an amendment executed by IBM, Novell, and SCO states that on payment of considerations, they would get irrevocable rights.
SCO then moved on to sue Novell in 2004 for "slander of title to the Unix copyrights" - more or less, that Novell's claims about who owns what were damaging and made "with malice". Novell claims that the documents SCO relies on for transfer of copyright are not clear enough. There was a ruling last year that went Novell's way, but no ruling on whether a further amendment cures that. No decision yet - not clear whether it will impact the IBM suit.
Then, Red Hat sued SCO for creating FUD around Linux (and thus their business). That was filed in fall 2003. Court has stayed the case pending resolution of the IBM case. They wanted declaratory judgment that they did not infringe or violate copyright.
Then, SCO started suing end users. AutoZone was using SCO Unix, switched to Linux after SCO dropped support. SCO alleges that Linux is a derived work, and that AutoZone is infringing SCO's copyright. AutoZone tried to move it, failed, and this has been stayed pending IBM.
Then SCO sued Daimler Chrysler for breach of contract, because they switched from SCO Unix to Linux, which they claim is a derived work. Most of this one has been dismissed.
So - when the dust settles, what will the outcome be? Who wins? SCO? IBM? Linux backers? The proprietary Unix vendors? Who? David won't make a prediction at this point. He does think it's possible that SCO could lose on copyright but win on contract grounds.
It's definite - people who commute from where I live - Columbia MD - to Northern VA, where the seminar I was attending was - are nuts. There's no way I could handle that drive every day :) Anyway, if you are curious about the Open Source/legal issues that the LSI seminar covered, follow this link - I pushed them all into a single category.
It's time that the people stopped pandering to Dave Winer's ego. The first thing to remember about Dave is that he's always reasonable, and it's the other guy who's wrong. Always. I mean, just look at his post, and compare it to Glenn's - which one sounds like a flaming egotist? The next thing to realize about Dave is his notions about rules - they're for other people - not important, syndication inventing, always right guys like Dave. Nope, never. Follow the self centered rambling here, here, and again, here.
For an example of his vast technical acumen, go have a look at the MetaWebLog API. Go ahead, try to implement just from that page - I dare you. It's far past time to stop pandering to this self centered, egotistical, obnoxious buffoon. He likes to play at being "the reasonable guy" - but if, like me, you've ever had the misfortune to exchange email with him, that veneer comes off very quickly and is replaced with venom and disdain.
If you don't agree with him - technically, politically, whatever - you aren't just wrong, you're evil. That's fine in 7th grade, but in an adult, it's just pathetic.