April 29, 2008

Apple ships Java6

Filed under: Uncategorized — numist @ 11:34 pm
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as of 1pm today, PDT.

now you people can’t bug me about it anymore. unless they have a x86 or PPC mac.

congrats to the Java team for getting it out the door, and with a bunch of neat extra features. it was a lot of fun to work with them, they’re a good bunch


April 27, 2008

Free as in Speech.

Filed under: Uncategorized — numist @ 1:17 am
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In my music class, we recently watched Good Copy Bad Copy. It’s a decent documentary. One thing I really like about it is that it brings up some important concerns about the state of what I’ll refer to as the culture industry and copyright laws. I firmly believe that good solutions to problems can cross domains. The documentary, if you listen to what the recording industry people say when interviewed, sounds like it applies a lot to software, especially in the way that the products are so heavily controlled (it’s actually stifling to innovation, because you can never leverage your own solutions with someone else’s unless you have money or power), and American products are so widely pirated worldwide. It’s also similar in the way that small culture industries work in other countries. The artists don’t make money from records or movies, they make money for performances. While no one is going to pay to watch a programmer create an application, I believe there is a parallel solution for “indie” software.

Anyway, the part of the documentary that really got me was this

(13:05) In the US constitution … there is only one substantive area of law that was included in the constitution and that was protecting creators rights because the founding fathers of the US said that would be more determinative of about anything else as to how successful a country you have is if you have … people who would want to build things, make things and the theory was they wouldn’t do it unless you somehow protected that right.

(53:09) Clearly, people will not do things for free. It just defies human nature to believe that somebody will come up and they’ll paint a picture or do a statue and they’ll just give it away, I mean, yeah there might be a few people like that, but they probably don’t eat very well.

» Dan Glickman, Chairman and CEO of the MPAA

Do you believe that? Because I don’t, and a lot of other people don’t as well. Including a bunch of companies. It’s so impressive to me that someone can actually be so closed-minded to the possibility of sustainable alternatives to a model, that it’s no surprise that the industry is dying. And they have no one to blame but themselves.

Peter Jenner, from Sincere Management has a pretty good handle on the situation. Look him up, or watch GCBC. Same with Lawrence Lessig, of Creative Commons.

April 18, 2008

things I never thought I’d take for granted: part 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — numist @ 4:52 pm

my check engine light turns off 2 seconds after I turn my key.

back when my car was first fixed, this amazed me. now, more often than not I fail to notice.

when I do notice though, I smile.

April 17, 2008

Profiling at its best

Filed under: Uncategorized — numist @ 11:18 pm

Saabs are the most beautifully driven cars on the road. … I’m fascinated to find out what happens when you climb into a Saab where suddenly you become… [trails off]
~Jeremy Clarkson (Top Gear)

I think he’s right, and I can take it a step further. Mustangs and Audis are the most aggressively and angrily driven cars on the road. I’ve rarely seen any that weren’t overtaking someone on the right with the middle finger extended.

April 9, 2008

Epic LEGOs

Filed under: Uncategorized — numist @ 6:39 am

I can not believe my eyes. This may be the most fantastic custom-built LEGO creation I have ever seen.

Yes, ever.

April 5, 2008

Whoever has the gold makes the rules.

Filed under: Uncategorized — numist @ 8:51 pm
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On the topic of standards, Microsoft has been trying to fast-track OOXML (the new office format) as an international standard. It looks like it passed (on April 1, no less). However, there are a lot of problems. PJ at Groklaw has been following this every step of the way, and while being able to read what’s going on has been great, the world continues to disappoint. Since Groklaw doesn’t have a section with all the OOXML stuff, here’s the latest bunch of articles:

New Rules for Changing Your Vote on OOXML
India Has Voted NO to OOXML – Updated – On Error Rates in Draft Standards
Poland Fails to Approve OOXML; Chairman Decides Members Can Vote by Email 10 More Days – huh? – Updated
Cuba Votes No to OOXML – Says It Did So in September, Too – Updated 2Xs
More OOXML BRM Messiness: A Delegate from Brazil Challenges “Law of Silence”
Brazil Votes NO to OOXML – Updated
Microsoft Files Complaint About India’s No Vote on OOXML – Updated 2Xs
Another Reason Microsoft’s OSP Isn’t Good Enough
Kenya Changes From Yes to Abstain! Denmark Says No; EU Commission Investigating Poland – Updated 6Xs – Mexico
President of EU Academy for Standardisation criticizes OOXML, says duplicative standards conflict with WTO rules
Updegrove: Germany Told “Impossible” to Vote No. So, They Vote Yes – Updated 2Xs: Finland Yes
What Really Happened at the BRM for OOXML and Who Attended – Updates on Results
OOXML Vote: Irregularities in Germany and Croatia and a Call for an Investigation of Norway
New Zealand Votes No; Malaysia Tech Recommends No but It Abstains Anyway: Australia Abstains; India Suggests
Formal Protest Filed Asking that Norway’s Vote Be Annulled and KEI Statement
The France Shift From No to Abstain — HP helped Microsoft France do it – Updated
Expect a 2nd Official Complaint — Against UK’s OOXML Vote
How the Philippines Changed Its OOXML Vote from No to Yes – Updated 2Xs: ISO Press Release and Letters
And now the appeals and reactions while OOXML sits on hold
Ubersoft on ISO, “voting irregularities”, and Groklaw
Canada Tells Why It Voted No on OOXML and How ISO Must Improve – Updated: Others See Need to Fix ISO
OOXML: Wasn’t There Supposed to be a Final Text Within a Month?

If you want to be really outraged, read the articles, too. This standard was bought and bullied. It never should have been fast-tracked, and still has grave issues.

Latest Links

Filed under: Uncategorized — numist @ 8:45 pm
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This is a collection of blog entries I’ve intended on posting, but haven’t had the time to do. Sorry for the size.

I’ve started following User Friendly again (both articles and comics). It’s reasonably clever, and even though most of the topics are very “last month”, the useful signal to noise ratio is very high. Yesterday this little gem was posted, which starts with Illiad overhearing a drama-viper advise a friend, which turns into a quick psychoanalysis of women, and how lucky we are to have geek women. We really are. Anyway, it’s worth a read. Makes me feel very lucky.

Since I’m prone to posting regrets over corporate America, these next two are about two big companies that I feel like complaining about.

First up is Motorola who, in this Engadget article, is lambasted by the former personal advisor to (the late) Geoffrey Frost. If you don’t recognize the name, he’s the fellow who created the RAZR and allowed Motorola to continue to survive in the consumer cell phone market. Faraz blames the upper management of Motorola for not only standing in the way of progress and being totally inept, but also for killing Geoffrey. Have a gander. I’ve never particularly liked Motorola; their software stinks and their hardware, while decent, is not really useful for a power user.

Next up is Garmin, my favourite of GPS companies (not kidding!). Unfortunately, their business needs some work (not news). Jeff Bonwick (from Sun) has a few (pointed) things to say about staying up to date with your Garmin GPS and, unfortunately, it’s all true. I may still be bitter at the decision to discontinue the iQue (which was a fantastic piece of kit), but staying up to date with your maps is still one place where Garmin fails to please.

Now, students at universities have to put up with all sorts of policies and procedures that make no sense and feel like three steps backwards for every two forwards (you know, just like Real Life). One of the annoyances that more and more universities are embracing is The Patry Copyright Blog (by Sr Copyright Counsel for Google, William Patry) has a good article on the topic.

Since I’m never done complaining about companies, but I am tired about complaining about “evil” companies, I want to take a look at Sun. Sun, in recent years, is a great place. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that they’re a good business, but if you were to look at them as a research lab (which is how they got their start), they excel. In fact, I’d really like to work there some day. The moves in recent years to make source to new technologies (not just limited to software!) has done a lot for computing at large, and we’re seeing the effects in every operating system that isn’t Windows.

With the patronizing out of the way, Sun has a few problems: it’s not a great business, and it’s really disorganized. In previous jobs where my team had to work closely with Sun, we were frequently roadblocked not because Sun itself was evil or unhappy with us, but because individual teams at Sun were not communicating, so whenever we got a message from them, it was like meeting someone entirely new at a party. Someone with very strong preconceived notions about you.

This problem is not something they don’t know about, Bryan Cantrill (from Sun) says, as part of this post:

I have always said that a major advantage of working for or doing business with Sun is that we’re too disorganized to be evil. Being disorganized causes lots of problems, but actively doing evil isn’t among them

And he’s right. Unfortunately, while it keeps Sun from being evil on purpose, it still kills them in other ways.

Bryan Cantrill seems like he’s pretty in-touch with things in general. He also has a good explanation of why companies have such problems with providing OSS as a business, which uses the release of DTrace on Leopard as it’s working example. If you’re in business at all, you should have a gander, the ideas he has are applicable to more than just software companies. Consider it a paper on business philosophy; it really does explain a different way of doing business.

Credit where it’s due, Bryan Cantrill and Jeff Bonwick’s blogs were brought to my attention by Joe.

On a lighter note, Eric linked me to an episode of BMW’s made-for-the-internet shorts, a series call “The Hire”. What they’ve done is hired Clive Owen as The Driver (and a few well-known co-starts which vary per short), and ask popular directors to create one nine minute short each. The only real restriction is that Clive Owen has to pilot a BMW through an action-packed plot against meanies that want to ruin someone’s day.

The results are incredible. All the episodes have incredibly high production value, good plots, and still manage to serve as advertisements, without being overtly so. They’re shorts that you want to watch, even though you know they were paid for by BMW.

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