Summary of recent comments from our readers, 9/28/2006 – 11/18/2006

In response to my 9/28 post I learn by writing, in which I quoted Eudora Welty, Steve O’Grady responded:

love the quote, but have to note that Welty’s regrettably right to say that. her prose is thick enough that you have to read it repeatedly 😉

I defer to Steve’s judgment since all I know of Ms. Welty’s writing is the comment I quoted.

In response to my 9/29 post How do we communicate? We need a protocol. Yes, the open-TWIT protocol, Chris Abbey wrote:

Why impose such a rigid, linear, format to otherwise open and free wheeling form of communication? We alredy have two way communications in blogs, you’ve even used it. James posted an entry (I think in his blog), you read it, you replied in your blog, he read it, commented in your blog. There you go, a nice simple conversation, with out any overt protocols.

And this already happens elsewhere, outside this circle of bloggers… see for example the obvious back and forths between Daring Fireball and Kieren McCarthy. (it was the first example outside that came to hand.)

But this isn’t even a modern development. Think back to pre-computer days… some researcher publishes a paper on some topic, say a wild theory about how you can explain the motion of some of the planets in the sky. Later, another researcher publishes another paper, either building on that work, or deconstructing it. Maybe several papers are published in response… some of them under aliases because the authors live in a repressive society that won’t accept their radical thoughts. Out of those papers, maybe a few are so good they in turn generate new ideas and papers. Over time, a sort of dialog ensues… and what do you know, a centry later… whamo… we have newtonian physics and can explain the orbits of the planets, the moons, and even the stars in the galaxy. (In this case the 400 year old “bloggers of their era” I’m thinking of are Brahe, Galilei and Kepler.)

I sometimes wish Watson had said “Think and KISS” instead… we all need that reminder just as often to “keep it simple, silly.”

I see his point. The notion of TWIT protocol was fun while it lasted, but since no one has picked it up, I’ll let it silently go away.

There were two comments received in response to my 10/1 post e-mail take 2: You get to e-mail; I don’t. My thesis was that ill-advised use of e-mail would allow discussions to continue in a way that was not in “full public view” and so I vowed to try to avoid use of e-mail. This was of course unrealistic, though I do have some more thoughts on this I will try to express in some upcoming posts shortly.

My 10/3 post It is better to light just one little LAMP … Please, please, help Sahana, in which I asked for help with the Sahana project, elicited the following comment from Paul Currion, a key member of the Sahana effort:

hanks for the appeal, Dave, and for all your work on Sahana so far. It can be a frustrating process – I’m in Indonesia right now, reviewing the recent Sahana deployment for the Jogjakarta earthquake, and it’s clear that we need to take a look at how support is provided during implementation as much as during development.

However the developers are the lifeblood of the project, and we really hope that Sahana can be a way for people who used to feel that their skills are useless in an emergency to make a real contribution. Sahana has built a solid product and a strong reputation, and I think that we’ll start to see much more real-world impact in the next year.

By the way, in that post I mentioned the song “Light One Little Candle” and every few days I get a hit from folks searching on the title of that song.

I mentioned Ted Williams in my 10/5 post On Baseball: Steve O’Grady, David Brooks, A. Bartlett Giamatti, Red Smith, Lou Gehrig, et. al. Steve O’Grady, an ardent Red Sox fan, replied by saying:

if you haven’t had the chance yet, Halberstam’s biography of Ted Williams is fascinating stuff. such an amazing ballplayer, such a poor father, and he knew it. it’s also worth noting that while everyone knows about his charitable effort, the gulf between him and some others (e.g. DiMaggio) is wide indeed.

I haven’t yet read Halberstam’s book, though he is one of my favorite writers. I have heard several interviews with Williams; he was a remarkable individual, a true man’s man. We can only wonder what further records he might have set had he not served in the military in WW II and the Korean war.

The constrast between Williams and DiMaggio is striking. See in particular Joe DiMaggio : The Hero’s Life by Richard Ben Kramer, which paints a portrait of a man who was world-famous and as equally lonely.

Richard Ben Cramer is one of our best writers, and I strongly recommend What It Takes: The Way to the White House, his book about the Presidential election of 1988. The opening segment about President Bush the senior attending a baseball game inside the Presidential “bubble” is a tour-de-force. His portrait of Senator Joe Biden is quite endearing.

My 10/15 post The Emergency Capacity Building Project IT Requirements Publications drew comments from Lois Krull providing links to additional resources. Thanks, Lois.

My 10/15 post Where did copyrights and patents come from? pointed out that U.S. Law on copyrights and patents derives from a single sentence in the U.S. Constitution that authorizes Congress to pass legislation in this area.

Stuart Yeates responded by by saying:

Copyrights began significantly earlier than the American Constitution. Wikipedia has an excellent article on the history of copyrights.

Lois Krull responsed by saying:

Richard Stallman correctly makes the key point that the patent, trademark and copyright systems are all very different and have nearly nothing in common. There’s nothing to be gained by lumping them all together into one category that is useful to “progress”, only to “property” ideas that tend to support all claims to make these “rights” as permanent as a deed in land. That’s not what they’re intended to be.

Patents are instructions, as are some copyrighted materials like textbooks. Trademarks are not – they signal instead the source of the material or product or service. Copyrights protect creative works also and are to ensure authors get paid for making popular works.

One can stand for strong patent protections on genuine instructions to do genuinely useful and novel things, and for strong trademark protections to prevent people lying about the origins of products, while absolutely opposing patents on scientific or mathematical principle (like software which is nothing but), and also opposing the use of trademark “dilution” laws to silence critics who are not “passing off” products but only telling others what they think about the actual trademarked product and company behind it.

Recognizing that instructions, social trusts and creative works are three wholly different kinds of benefit to society is the starting point to an actual analysis of the current system.

Failing to recognize that leads only to stupidity.

I emphasized the U.S. law because that has become the default basis for many open-source licenses. For example, while at a conference recently I had a conversation about this with someone from the U.K. He pointed out that many governments and groups outside the U.S. have passed recommendations and such suggesting the use of “open-source” even though the language used in many open-source licenses contains language that only makes sense within the U.S. legal system.

The post On child’s play on the Internet: Tag, you’re it! Don’t hide, so others can seek. on “tagging” elicited the following comment from Redmonk’s Cote':

That’s some nice tag gardening think. I think you’ll like the for: feature in if you’re not already using it.

I did read his note and found it very informative. Indeed it’s on my list of topics to mention if I ever get around to discussing tagging in more detail.

The 10/22 post Gentlemen, start my engine? about my visit to the Indianapolis Speedway resulted in the following note from Brad Dill:

Go to the race. There is no other race like it. The start is fantastic. Three wide as they take the green, going 200 mph into turn 1. There are tickets still available, give it a shot. Last year Sam Hornish, beat Marco Andretti with a last lap pass at the start-finish line. Won by half a car length.

I also received a private note from an IBM colleague who is a Hoosier that said:

And a trip to the Indy 500 – cool – there is nothing like it – I went with my father each year from my teen years until I graduated from Purdue – I enjoy watching it every year on TV – back then they didn’t show it live, just tape-delayed that evening. I want to bring my 14-yr old son to a race in the next few years.

My 10/26 tongue-in-cheek post The Speedway-based track to non-obscurity on the large number of bloggers drew the following response from Chris Abbey:

Of course the expectation is that everyone who blogs, also reads at least N other blogs… therefore should we someday reach the point that there is only one non-blogger left, their power will be rather diminished.

Afterall, the blogosphere (dear lord we need a better name than that.) is a multi-way conversation… it’s not just you speaking here on your soapbox. You stop and listen to (well, read) others’ blogs, or comments, and react to them.

Really, it’s the folks who blog that have the power, they get to set a topic for discusion. They may find that no one wants to talk about it, or they may find they’ve hit a nerve and started a conversation for the ages. The rest of us (non-bloggers) can participate to a limited sense in the conversation via comments, but can’t really start a new thread of conversation from scratch… that needs a blog. (just like wordpress needs a preview button on comments.)

The 10/27 NYC post TTWP Puzzler #1: Solution drew two responses.

Steve O’Grady wrote:

The garage was on West 57th St, near the West Side Highway. It has seen been torn down.”

what a coincidence – i used to live on 60th and Amsterdam and walk by that place all the time.

Chris Abbey wrote:

I shoulda known that… I spent regular weekends selling tickets at the local theatre and had the same indoctrination into cash handling that you did. I too still sort cash on a regular basis for folks, usually also sorted by denomination. 🙂

“I’m left-handed. Do right-handed folks arrange the same way?”

I do, but my wife, a southpaw does the opposite, top of head closest to he left hand.

My 10/27 post To Protect and Serve: Iraq, flashing red lights, seat belts asked if some states required that drivers move to the left when the say a police vehicle with it’s lights flashing parked on the right side of the rode. Chris Abbey responded:

“I read recently — and at the time thought it might now even be the law — that when you are driving on an expressway and see the flashing red lights that tell you that a State Trooper has pulled someone over, then if your car is in the rightmost lane you should move leftward if it is safe to do so.”

It is the law in many states. Minnesota and Nevada both come to mind… and I think I saw the signs on the way into Utah too… all states I’ve driven in in the last month. For most of these it’s actually more broad than that… any multi-lane or wider road, and any emergency services vehicle… state trooper, tow tuck, etc. Personally, I do it for any stopped vehicle.

The 10/29 post Unbreakable Linux: a hat-trick for open-source drew the following comment from Kevin Closson:

I invite you to read my insights into Unbreakable Linux 2.0 at my blog.

Mr. Closson’s blog is about Oracle so those with interest in this topic may want to heed his advice.

The 11/02 post IBM Bloggers, in which I mentioned a list of IBM bloggers put together by Elias Torres, drew the following response from Mr. Torres.

Welcome to IBM Planet Nice meeting you Dave and you don’t have to worry about sending me good ol’ mail: pingbacks, trackbacks and referers will do. I’ve added you and Josh to the list. BTW, as with everything else in IBM, we have another list, so you might want to add yourself to that one.

By the way, I followed up on some of the links in his post and tried to register myself as an IBM blogger but as yet have not seen my name added as I requested. That’s ok with me, as this blog is done on my personal time as part of my volunteer efforts.

From the lists I saw it appears that fewer that 200 or so IBMers blog outside the firewall. Since IBM has over 300,000 employees, only about 0.1 per cent blog, even though this activity has been encouraged by IBM management.

The 11/05 post A WordPress Magical Moment drew a comment from Matt Mullenweig, the founding developer of WordPress. He said he found the post to be “pretty funny.”

This is as good a place as any to answer the puzzler posed on 11/05 in in The word-press project puzzler #1 in which I expressed my puzzlement at seeing that WordPress introducted a new feature to display day-by-day view totals for each individual posts. This was a good thing when it first came out as each post had an additional entry called “Stats.” Things went downhill the next day when a mysterious blue-square-with-jagged-lines-inside-it replaced “Stats.”

I don’t know about you, but I think WordPress is all about words. It is not IconPress. Let’s leave the heiroglyphics, icons and such to the folks at Microsoft and Apple. Since this is open-source we should need only words to command the reader’s attention. See for example Neal Stephenson’s In the Beginning was
the Command Line

Thanks Steve O’Grady. Thanks Redmonk. posted on 11/05, replying to a request for thanks from redmonk, drew two thanks-back comments from redmonk-land.

My 11/07 post Election Day Celebration: Christian, Jew, and Muslim, prompted by a chance encounter when I went to vote, yielded two comments.

Daughter Jen, who was featured in the post, agreed with my sentiment.

James Governor thought I spend too much time patting myself on the back and claiming the U.S. has special qualities when in fact other countries have many of these qualities as well. James also wrote, “One nation under gods perhaps, but certainly not under God.” I’m old enough that I remember when I had to learn the phrase “under God” when it was added to our pledge of allegiance. I preferred the previous version. To paraphrase the Declaration of Independence:

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments — open-source licenses and oaths of allegiance — long established should not be changed for light and transient causes.

James also responded to the 11/09 post An unholy alliance of Christian, Jew, Muslim.

The 11/10 post Open-Source: Music to my ears covered several topics, including music and open-source. It drew two comments. They are hard to summarize, so please see their full text as part of the article.

My 11/13 post Announcing Open-source Java: What if? on the joint Sun/FSF announcement, drew three comments:


German G wrote

“BSD license”:
* ASF will be able to reclicense the code under the Apache license;
* Eclipse will be able to relicense the code under the Eclipse Public License (EPL), and will also be able to incorporate code from ASF that has been relicensed under the Apache license;
* FSF will be able to relicense the code under GPL or LGPL.
* Independent developers will be able to relicense the code under their own license. For example, the Jikes project will be able to relicense the code under licensed under the IBM Public License (IPL).

* Anyone can fork it and don’t give back the code….

I think Mr G’s objection is that BSD allows “forking,” by which G seems to mean making changes and not having the release them in source form. This is not “forking” as I understand it, but this misconception seems to be common. I will address it in a separate post soon.
Nov 13, 1:23 PM — [ Edit | Delete | Unapprove | Approve | Spam ]

Andy Tai wrote

Funny things is that, for software that has “high proprietary” values, like Java, the software is open-sourced/freed under the GPL license. For software that is low in such value, the software is often donated to the ASF under the Apache license…

For example, see all IBM’s donations to the ASF. How many of them are still valuable as proprietary software? Will IBM open-source DB2 or Websphere under the Apache license? If IBM does open source them, today, then the GPL may be a more likely license than the Apache license or the BSD license. However, if IBM does so in ten years, then the latter licenses will be more likely…

Which speaks for itself. It is also typical of the posts that suggest that to write software to assume an obligation to release it under the GPL.

rehte wrote

I now understand why IBM joined Harmony. It was waiting for Java to be opensourced. It believed Sun would inevitably to open source java. It will be the time that it can grab the control from Sun by forcing it to merge into Harmony or APL compliant License project.
Johnathan’s criticsm against GPL must have let IBM grin. It must be thinking Sun is not intended to opensource Java under GPL. APL compatible License should be the choice.
At last, Sun is more clever, kicking IBM’s ass by the 180 degree change.

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