MJR's slef-reflection

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To contact me, email mjr AT dsl dot pipex dot com.

Sarge release (or lack thereof) not debian-legal's fault

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

...or at least, not any d-l contributor's fault any more than anyone who reports RC bugs. If an RC bug holds up release, it is arguably whoever created the bug that "fucks up" debian's release, not the reporter. That's true whether it's non-free, some other policy violation or some other grave data loss bug. Don't shoot the messenger. Fix the bug.

We're not "RMS groupies" (in fact, that's so wrong for me as to be almost funny). It's not a bloody crusade, either. It is depressing that some developers have so much contempt for those who usually knew a bit about copyright beforehand (from journalism, in my case) and tried to learn enough about the special issues involved with software to offer what I suspect is probably the biggest public-archived copyright consultation service. If some of the contributors are starting to feel under siege, why not walk through the gates to help reduce the divide? (Were you going to say "because I've no time and other important work"? Big news: neither has anyone else, yet there is still time and priority to fire unhelpful flames towards us?)

If done wrong, licence trouble can be deadly for debian. Why don't debian-legal people just shut up shop, sod off home and wait for the next "agressive enough" rights-holder to kill debian? Because we care about it too, you know. We want there to be debian releases for a long time to come.

Why don't Fedora and Gentoo have this trouble? Well, Fedora doesn't make any promise about free software (AFAIK) and I think Gentoo's promise is inadequate because it only covers a very small part of the distribution and they reckon including ebuilds for non-free is fine. It's very hard to avoid getting non-free software automatically installed on Gentoo without checking every licence yourself. Not fun.

The MPL hiccough isn't really a surprise and I'll not be completely surprised to find that either d-l or Mozilla have something a bit wrong. The MPL seems a pretty old licence and seems to have avoided much public scrutiny until now, as I said. It's going to take some more thinking about. For Mozilla itself, they've already started dual-licensing, so it probably won't result in removing that from the distribution, but there are other MPL-covered works. Really, I think it's a shame that such a poster-child for OSI has such a convoluted licence and that it is used by some people when simpler licences would be better.

The whole sarge release vs social contract deathmatch farce took me a bit by surprise. It's the largest single reason why I am quieter in debian than before. I probably did more work for/with/towards debian in the year before starting NM (which took nearly a year IIRC) than since. The FDL crap and the non-free logo are the next two largest, so I guess you can tell I've been on debian-legal...

I'm amazed by the sheer amount of politicking that goes on and quite depressed by that. I am amazed that there are debian developers who claim they don't know what the word software means, didn't understand or don't agree with what they agreed to follow (yes, I know some joined pre-SC, but still there are others) and feel that debian should change to fit their views. For now, I'll vote when asked, and likely flame people who screw up stuff I'm trying to work on (some of which is involved with the MPL posts here), but generally try to avoid the politicking.

The whole kernel source firmware thing is puzzling and ripping firmware out of debian sources is one solution, but definitely not the best. I don't know whether any better is possible, as I'm not really part of that work. Blaming "debian-legal" and trying to stop people regarding it as a bug doesn't seem a solution, though. If it's not a bug, explain why and close it properly. Enough people seem to think it is a bug to need some sort of explanation to avoid getting it rereported and escalated a long way. If someone has been moving it, presumably a package maintainer, maybe they think there is a problem too?

2004-06-21T01:14:34

Constitutions without Countries

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

To link-quote Martin-Eric: "You cannot have a Constitution for something that is not a country." Nuff said?

2004-06-21T01:14:34

Part-way through Part 1 of European Constitution

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Jordi, I realise that people don't know about the constitution enough. I wanted to find it and link it so that we could all read it and make our own minds up. Our politicians and mainstream media are not good enough to publicise it and do this discussion themselves. Read it, discuss it and link interesting bits (because it's not a wonderful html copy, so a bit awkward to search). Don't just dismiss it because you didn't hear about it before. Don't just berate it without reading it. That's FUD and no-one will thank you for it.

The language list has already been mentioned twice. I don't worry for myself, as my native language is included, but I wondered: is it worse than what is already there? At the moment, the EU has 11 languages, according to EUROPA's FAQ. The constitution lists 22, including adding Irish from the pre-accession states. So, it appears to increase the range. Maybe not ideal, but an improvement. Why so hostile?

There seems to be another draft online. I'll use the other for now, because it's easier to link. I just hope it's kept up-to-date.

2004-06-20T15:36:57

MPL discussions do continue

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Marco d'Itri feels he has not misrepresented debian-legal. He represented an ongoing discussion as a decision. If that is not misrepresentation, I don't know what is. Marco, the reason you can't see the discussion now is that a lot of it (and definitely my parts) are happening off-list for a bit, because of idiots like you that won't participate and start claiming a decision has happened while we're still trying to talk about it. The only way to progress seems to develop it in private for a short while and then take it back to the list. Rest assured, I will still object to a new draft summary before the discussion ends as premature.

You don't want to help debian-legal, so get the hell out of my face and don't hinder it. Absurdly, you are doing more than anyone to make things you criticise happen!

And firmware in non-free is not my preferred position. There are concessions involved. That even passes as a compromise in the definition from the non-English dictionary you linked.

2004-06-20T15:36:57

What to replace MSA FormMail with?

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

I request help from the blogoscenti! I want to replace the infamous formmail.pl from someone's site. Should I:

  1. replace it with mailto;
  2. replace it with nms-formmail, although that seems to need copying for each instance;
  3. replace it with something I write (I've been writing CGI for 7 years, but I can't believe I need to create and maintain a formmail... surely there's one out there?); or
  4. replace it with something else?

Send answer in a blog on a planet I'm on, email to mjr at dsl.pipex.com, jabber to slef at jabber.at or IRC to slef on oftc (via memoserv if needed), please. I'll credit replies unless told otherwise.

2004-06-18T19:23:21

The Walks

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>
The over-250-years-old tree-lined promenades near the centre of the town where I live are getting a lot of work done to refurbish them. Even in their current crumbling state, they are quite good, but this plan looks sympathetic. I hope the new planting, the new paths and the cafe don't spoil the greenness of the place. Follow the permalink to view the plans.
2004-06-18T18:33:13

Oddments

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>
Where is the EU Constitution text as text?
Been all over the current presidency site and can't find anything. Saw some SQL Server timeout errors, though. Surely the constitution should be online as good cross-referenced html somewhere? I want to read it for myself, not just cooked and extracted by reporters. Update: An html copy is on EUROPA, although it has no background colour set and dark foreground, which is a pretty basic accessability goof. Thanks to Sam Morris for the link and thanks to eml for his comments.
Microsoft to launch in Kiswahili
Will they ever catch up with those already releasing free software for Kiswahili? Doubt it.
Rumsfeld admits ordering secret detention
Admit breaching the Geneva Convention and expect to be OKd? Have the US government been watching too much TV fiction?
German Minister Vows Fight against Child Obesity
I can't remember the UK figures, but I think they're worse than this. Here, the press would rather discuss the style of announcements than help attack the problem. (Actually, the BBC has useful sites too... I'm not linking to the poor press, though.) Of course, junk food makers spend big on media campaigns.
A Week Of Resistance to BP And Big Oil
Another backlash against corporate arts sponsorship. I heard about do summat a few days ago. Is this becoming more common in England?
TdF on big screen in US for charity
That rocks. I wonder if similar happens in Europe. Maybe not, as it's on TV anyway.
ASA bites Wanadoo
You should mark adverts in search results, it seems. Dur.
2004-06-18T12:19:39

iTunes quiz

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Here are the answers of the questions I asked to mark Apple's iTunes launch in France, Germany and the UK.

[Country price differences] Who is being ripped off?
Everyone.
[...] iTuners should buy from the US. Can they?
No. Apple says "You agree not to use or attempt to use the service from outside of the available territory. Apple may use technologies to verify such compliance."
[...] Can UK iTuners buy from France or Germany?
No. I'm told there's a similar term to the above, but the terms aren't published on their site, as far as I can tell. How does this fit with the free movement of goods in the European single market? I don't know...
60 million iTunes [...] 2.9 million iPods shipped. How many tunes are on an average iPod?
Loads. Most people seem to be illegally copying music onto iPods. It would be better to get legally copiable music, but most people don't think of that yet.
Who gets the smallest cut of an iTunes fee [...] ?
The artist gets less than the label or Apple, of course. See downhill battle's nice illustration.
2004-06-18T11:51:22

Is your position so weak you bitch in a blog instead of engage?

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

I apologise in advance for this rant, but I think it needs writing here, else people will keep making the same mistakes about debian-legal:

In unrelated news, Marco d'Itri apparently decided that people on debian-legal apparently declared the Mozilla Public License non-free!

That's very misleading. I suspect he's trying the "CD=CD" trick: describe current discussions as completed decisions.

As you can see from the thread length, this discussion still continues and there are many questions, both about the MPL and about people's views of the DFSG. He has previously whined about "armchair lawyers of debian-legal" (but he doesn't link to the opinions of the other lawyers he refers to: do we know those opinions exist in fixed form?). He complains there is a problem, but does not help to fix it. Instead, he tries to FUD debian-legal through his blog.

Don't worry, folks! debian-legal appears relatively sane just now. What actually happened is Jim Marhaus posted a draft summary. I'm not sure why or who asked for it, but I think the number of replies shows that it's not finished yet.

Even so, the MPL does seem to have serious flaws and I don't understand how they sit with the DFSG. The usual tricks of looking it up at FSF and searching for the lawyer-written analysis sent with the OSI approval request doesn't work. MPL isn't explained in detail by FSF. MPL doesn't seem to have had an analysis submitted to OSI. The annotated licence doesn't address the questions raised at all.

Yes, we are well aware that this will affect Firebird and AOLserver, as well as BrickOS, OpenH323, Bugzilla, MPEG4IP and possibly even Mozilla. That's all been posted to debian-legal. I think it's misleading to point it out in a blog post as if it's some new info you're just publishing. We know it and, personally, my view of the MPL will not be formed lightly. My view of the FDL wasn't.

If you think "that there is something very wrong in what has been happening recently on debian-legal" then please, come enclue us. Start with explaining why the MPL is a DFSG-free software licence *and* distributable by debian, despite:

  • Patent licence only for code used in the Original Software without combination with other software (= any addition?);
  • Source code must be kept on the same "Electronic Distribution Mechanism" for at least 6 months;
  • Required notification of legal claims to those you distribute to; and
  • Choice of venue clause.

Personally, I'm not sure whether all of these are DFSG problems yet, but they seem reasonable questions to ask. I fear that debian-legal list has recently achieved a critical mass of copyright old hands and is spotting real problems that developers previously missed. Painful as it might be, that's good: copyright will not ignore debian even if debian ignores copyright.

(Please do not just come on and flame everyone who disagrees with you, as seems to happen periodically over FDL or the kernel. Explaining to the majority is a good thing here, to get consensus whether this is free, which should be an MPL-advocate's aim. Please keep an open mind too, as it might be that you get something wrong one day.)

And finally: non-free firmware in non-free is a compromise. Non-free firmware in debian is breaking a promise. (I'm not saying there is or isn't such firmware in debian... I've not checked just now.)

2004-06-18T02:01:57

Compare Microsoft to drug pushers and be sued!

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Apparently, the President of Brazil's IT Institute, Sergio Amadeu, stated in an interview that the Microsoft "the first shot is free" licensing policy resembled a drug dealer sales plan. Now Microsoft are suing him over it.

I don't know all the details. Read more in Portuguese on the CIPSGA site. I'd appreciate links to translations into Eo, En, Fr or De, as my Pt is terrible.

2004-06-16T16:36:46

Oddments

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Welcome to Wednesday's Oddments. Spotted this morning:

Day of Rage
Lancaster Uni SU is broken and the Uni is marching on to introduce higher fees for students and close their art department. I won't be at all surprised if they do stage a sit-in.
Mobile Phone Worm
It was only a matter of time before someone wrote one. This attacks Symbian-based phones. Do we think "anti-virus firms" helped?
BTYahoo -2Gb of Email Storage
Well, Yahoo have certainly responded to GMail's 1Gb storage space. BTYahoo says you can have 2Gb. Well, minus 2Gb actually.
UK firm patents downloads
BTG, who seem to be a pure patent-holding company (called a patent troll by some) has decided to go after people with its patent on downloading software. Both this and BromCom really should convince people that software patents are bad news.
No indies on iTunes
If you want to hear real creativity, you won't get it from itunes and you won't find it on your local GWR commercial radio either. Try listening to something else (Update: link corrected). If you get source out of them (svn required afaict), please repost it.
2004-06-16T11:10:11

iTunes quiz

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

To mark Apple's iTunes launch in France, Germany and the UK, here are some questions. Answers later, or email/blog your guesses.

  1. In the US, each track costs USD 0.99 In France and Germany, each track costs EUR 0.99 = USD 1.25 In the UK, each track costs GBP 0.79 = EUR 1.20 = USD 1.45 Who is being ripped off?
  2. The above suggests that all iTuners should buy from the US. Can they?
  3. There is free movement of goods inside the EU. Can UK iTuners buy from France or Germany?
  4. 60 million iTunes had been downloaded and there were 2.9 million iPods shipped. How many tunes are on an average iPod?
  5. Who gets the smallest cut of an iTunes fee: Apple, the recording label or the artist?
2004-06-16T01:54:57

Getting it backwards...

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>
Just heard on TV a Brussels-based worker saying that the voters hadn't engaged with the European Parliament. Surely it's the case that the EP and voters haven't engaged with each other? It's not fair to blame the voters. Even people I know who work with other European countries, or study them, have not known that the EP has an office in the UK!
2004-06-14T14:05:51

Compromises

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>
  1. Thanks to Richard Allan for responding to comments about LD MEPs on swpat, compared to Green/EFA members. Here's hoping LD get clue this parliament. Maybe there will be more next time then.
  2. UKIP third, ahead of LD, in MEP elections. Green hold steady. Con and Lab lose ground heavily. (Recall: Con, Lab, LD voted for swpat and IP "enforcement") Surprised Greens didn't gain. LD didn't advance as far as they must have expected, especially given talk of high 50s % approval rate for their leader. Wonder if LD attribute failure to anything in particular... Not comfortable with UKIP gains, but they serve a purpose. It's a compromise. Need to decide what, if anything, to do about all this.
  3. BBC lied or misled me. After only a week of reading DVB stuff in spare time, I'm pretty sure about that. Wonder whether we can fix them.
  4. Yes, non-free firmware for debian in non-free is a compromise. Having non-free around at all is a compromise. Putting non-free in main is breaking a promise, not a compromise.
  5. Attending Microsoft Linux debates just to hear how badly they fluff it must be a compromise.
  6. Junking unreasonable customers instead of forcing the issues over payment is a compromise, especially when they're causing trouble for deadlines of good customers.
  7. Blogging while asleep is a compromise.
2004-06-14T11:37:07

Liverpool LUG

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>
Richard Smedley is looking for people interested in starting a new LUG for Liverpool. Email richard.smedley03 at ntlworld.com
2004-06-11T01:06:35

Ask for BBC digital satellite to support standards

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

A BBC reply told me that all UK digital satellite viewers for whom these services are intended have access to the proprietary OpenTV/Sky digital text system.

Meanwhile, the BBC's own dsat FAQ says "you can choose from many types of satellite equipment from different retailers and manufacturers. Only the Sky "digiboxes" can access the "digital text" or the full EPG. This reduces competition for dsat systems and limits the usefulness of standards-based GNU/Linux Personal Video Recorders (PVRs).

Please do this: If you live in the UK, please let the DCMS consultation know that you think BBC should

  1. run a full DVB-TXT CEEFAX service on at least one of the national BBC services broadcast by Astra 2. This would support the teletext standard that they helped to develop. There are limited services on Astra BBC1 London, BBC2 England and Hotbird BBC World, so full service could probably start very soon.
  2. run a full DVB-SI electronic programme guide. They already run a partial now/next one, but this would help non-Sky satellite receivers (including PVRs) work better.

You must do this by Friday 11 June. Thanks if you do. I'm quite tired now, after this and the MEP elections. I'm going to sleep for a few weeks now. Bye!

2004-06-10T22:16:30

Liberal? Not on copyright infringement!

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

I was wondering about the Liberal Democrats, if you read my previous post. I've been looking in more detail. The "Copyright Etc. and Trade Marks (Offences and Enforcement) Bill " was proposed by the Lib Dems and it became law in November 2002.

This beauty increased copyright enforcement measures to the level of trademark ones. Yet again, harmonisation in one direction: towards harsher penalties!

I guess I got my answer about them. Good on swpat for now, but scary on copyright.

2004-06-10T02:24:50

MEP voting tomorrow, UK

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Another day, another load of data to post about the MEP elections. I'll do one more edit today, then I think that's it, unless I get a lot of data or some time early tomorrow morning. It's over to the rest of you in the UK. Read this, understand it, add other data, explain it to everyone you can, then go vote.

Editorialising: if you are opposed to software patents or further copyright enforcement laws, it looks like this:

Labour and Conservative
Their MEPs vote the other way and their candidates disagree or repost the party line (apart from the one who just thanked me and ignored it). Can't vote for them on this, honestly.
Liberal Democrat
Their policy says they will "resist wider application of patents" and their MP Richard Allan definitely seems one of the good guys against them, but their MEPs voted against definitions, limits and controls last September. All but one also voted for more copyright enforcement laws. Also big fans of reposting party policy. Whether you can vote for them depends whether you trust them to do what they say on patents, not what they did, and agree with them on this year's copyright enforcement law.
Green, Plaid Cymru, SNP, UKIP, Respect
These seem to be the "good guys" on software patents and copyright enforcement laws, although they are across the political spectrum and have very different motives for their opposition.
Other partys, campaigns and independents
I've not yet heard of policy from them, so you need to look at each case on its own. ProLife and English Democrats look like giving a free vote.
2004-06-09T15:46:37

Oddments

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>
Are Cross-Site Scripting attacks really browser bugs?
bugtraq made me think: isn't it a bug in a browser that doesn't say "Running a javascript from this page? [OK] [Cancel] [Details...]" like they mostly can for cookies now? I don't care: I browse without javascript, as much as possible.
Hardware is free: we screw you on software
I don't read UF any more (or many comics), but I got this Sunday's cartoon via Martyn.
Why bury into the left margin?
socialtwister goes off the left of my browser window (beyond where I can scroll) unless I maximise it. My browser window is not very small, so whose bug is this? The site or mozilla?
Group action is a bug?
We have too much respect for groups. It seems that almost any group can be taken by organised groups, whether from the left or right wings. People are suggesting that some Free Palestine groups have far right involvement. How do we work without longer-term groups? Is this a time for translating usual free software project models into the outside world?
Can we trust others to fight spam?
The EC called for a united front against spam. While more co-operation from ISPs would be good, unless it becomes easier for consumers to switch ISPs and pick those who act against spammers, users will have to keep their own spamguards. And by the way, challenge-response is spamming too.
2004-06-09T14:05:03

Lossy networking

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>
Lost net 3 times today so far. Router seems to crash each time. Either I'm exceeding some unwritten bandwidth limit, there's unidentified network problems, or (most likely IMO), the router is overheating in this sauna. I hate summer. The nearby DXer's weather station (14km south) is reporting 33C. South-South-Easterly winds just bake (or poach?) this town.
2004-06-07T16:44:01

Appeal: Dapuhiné Libéré FTA Sat

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

If anyone knows where to find the Critérium 2004 race on free-to-air satellite TV or radio, please let me know.

2004-06-07T14:06:44

Oddments

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>
Turing plaque (inaccesible site fails to set background)
Alan Turing, one of the Bletchley Park codebreakers who helped to win the war, is honoured today with a plaque in Manchester. It is 50 years since he killed himself, partly thanks to English inflexibility.
Gender Similarities and Differences in Online Identity and Language Use among Teenage Bloggers
The BBC finally picked up this article, carried on socialtwister over 2 weeks ago. You can tell they're running behind, as they affiliate the author to Georgetown. He left Georgetown and is now at Northwestern. This was foreshadowed by Spinning Yarns Around the Digital Fire. No news like old news.
James Heald SWPat Talk
FFII-UK's most active member speaking in Cambridge, audio via Indymedia, also reported via Indymedia.
LDYS against SWPAT
The LibDems youth section have noticed their MEPs voting against policy and are acting on it.
2004-06-07T12:54:09

Consensus breakdown continues...

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

OK, I know debian-legal has been thorny for a long time, but today I had my first taste of the traditional usenet tactics of "invent words to argue with" and "the discussion is over" from someone who seems to have decided their view before asking the list. It wouldn't be so bad, but I am almost certain that their view is bananas.

Firstly, they think the original copyright holder noting it "also retains copyright to derivative works of the Source Code, whether created by [holder] or by a third party" is trying to deny copyright interests of other authors of a derived work. It's not: both original and deriving authors could have copyright to the work. (Generally, it has to be a cross some threshold to be worth copyright. There are different views on what the threshold is...)

Secondly, their only intended act seems to be to repeat on debian-legal until someone else gets the licence author to clarify it. Two people telling them it doesn't deny copyright of others and two (different IIRC) people telling them it isn't a copyright assignment isn't enough, it seems.

How can you reach consensus if some participants have dug into a really unacceptable position before the start? Carpet-bombing them out of it seems the only way, but I don't think I've the stomach. I'll probably just wait now and laugh extremely hard at them later. Hopefully people will start thinking a bit more and actually go read a copyright primer. Many governments put them online now, so there's little excuse for fundamental errors.

2004-06-07T03:28:05

I am so angry!

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

I wasn't going to write an item today, but then I read this message from Martyn. I don't get angry easily since about 15 years ago, but that makes me want to go attack some people. Fortunately, I'm well over 100 miles away from Kingston.

There are some things you just don't send out automated mailshots for. Maternity care has got to be one of them. There's just too much that can go wrong quickly and it's quite traumatic enough, without getting junk mail that assumes all is well. What idiot computer programmer sold them that system?

2004-06-05T20:14:04

Fun film: Tombe du Ciel

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Watched Tombes du Ciel on TV5europe yesterday. Thoroughly recommended.

2004-06-04T18:36:05

Denying the problems

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Marco d'Itri seems a good example of what Manoj wrote about. In one entry, he seems to write that refusing to distribute proprietary software in main is somehow bad for debian, rather than what debian is. Then, later he writes that those who agree with the debian Social Contract clauses 1, 3, 4 and 5, so think non-free should be put in non-free, are ones who "screw our users". WTF? Surely it would be worse to decieve our users by labelling non-free things as free?

Really, it seems obvious what the compromise is. If he wants non-free binaries distributed, then put them into non-free. It's quite an established compromise, even if irritating. That's still a compromise, because it means that an installer which sometimes writes non-free source lines would have to return. That's something I won't be happy about, but it seems necessary in order to kill this problem. It also entrenches non-free further.

So why not do that? What is the problem here? It seems to me the problem is that Marco and friends like the flames. :-( Maybe I'm just stood too far away.

2004-06-04T18:36:05

Notcon, London, Sunday

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

People nearer London, England, than I am might like to visit NotCon because there are some cool free software supporters going, but it is a bit too much NTK for me.

2004-06-04T18:36:05

koha 2.0.1-beta0

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Released a first beta of koha-2.0.1, which I've not even tested myself yet. This will be the first arch'd release. I've appealed for mirrors, as I'm just using my ISP web space for downloads now and that isn't infinite capacity, I'm sure.

Uploaded a first draft of a koha English homepage. I think I've killed the worst of the MSIE-bugs in it, but I don't use that browser myself, so I'm interested to hear about problems if you use it or something else. The validators are happy with my page, so at least it should be visible still.

2004-06-04T03:55:32

AFFSAC presentations online

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

The presentations from the AFFS Annual Conference have been linked from the schedule (table part way down page), as far as I have them. The fileshare has been deactivated. The mailing list has been removed. The project to organise it has been removed from the AFFS task list.

I can't remember the last time a free software project I worked on ended, instead of just peter out and die. Am I unusual? It's a lovely feeling and a time for reflection.

But not too much. Other projects like eurovote need more help.

2004-06-03T01:47:18

Can't you do a simple thing like get my name right, Debian and SPI?

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

My name just appeared incorrectly on the minutes of an SPI meeting. Apprently, my preferred name was deemed not an "official name" despite it being on my credit cards and even obvious from my passport.

So, instead of asking/warning me, SPI just replaced it with my name from db.debian.org and for some reason, that is corrupt. How? I surely never told debian that corruption of my name. My name is correct on my AM report. My name is correct on my NM entry. My name is wrong on my DD account. So, who broke my name? Worse, it seems that I am not trusted to edit my DD account's name and have to politely request debian corrects it! I hope they fix it soon.

I wonder if anyone will apologise for this? I am always so careful to use people's names as they give them. I find it quite offensive when people break my name. At the moment, all this feels like "we don't care about people," a little for debian (who seem to accept the form I give in most things, like package uploads) and a lot for SPI.

2004-06-01T23:59:24

Yes, CC 2.0 is non-free

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Someone emailed me questioning the non-freeness of the CC licences. Here's the example I sent them back:

An autobiography is published. Parts of this are then combined by someone else into a larger work about the history some project or other. Do you agree that those parts taken from the autobiography are still covered by the CC licence?

If so, if the author of the autobiography requests it, you would have to remove references to them from the project history, even if the project history was totally accurate and removing references to them makes it inaccurate, because that is a term of the CC licence. Do you agree that a licence which requires you to "break" on demand a later work based on it is not a free software licence?

It's a similar problem to the termination clause problems, I believe.

Remember, one example doesn't make the whole proof, but I think this is a useful example.

2004-06-01T16:02:08

Interview with RMS

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

There's a transcript and ogg of an RMS interview in Edinburgh on 27 May 2004 available. Verbatim copying only, of course. *sigh*

Update: There also seems to be factually-dubious anti-commercial crap in the questions too. *double-sigh*

2004-06-01T16:01:35

Email, Zimbabwe and the BBC

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

The BBC reports that Zimbabwe may introduce email controls. Does the BBC reporter really not know that the UK already has an email snoopers' charter? Please clue them

2004-06-01T16:01:35

Creative Commons 2.0 - still non-free.

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

The Creative Commons 2.0 licences are out there, but still look non-free.

At the end of 4a (Restrictions), even the "by" licence requires you to "remove from the Collective Work any reference to such Licensor or the Original Author" if requested. As described on debian-legal, that far exceeds anything moral rights permits and makes the licence non-free.

What else changed?

  1. Some optional small invariant text (a hyperlink) was added;
  2. Music-specific language was added;
  3. YET ANOTHER SHOUTY WARRANTY DISCLAIMER;
  4. Share-alike no longer requires exact same licence;

The last of these is an improvement. I think the others are questionable.

Until they make it DFSG-free, don't use CC!

2004-05-27T09:02:48

euroVote and reporters

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Had interesting email exchange about swpat with a reporter, mainly because of eurovote I think. Sadly, it seems that the reporters are believing McCarthy's line that opponents of this directive are habitual naysayers and that the directive is just harmonising the current situation.

"Harmonisation" is a fancy name for changing some national laws to be sure they match. Unfortunately, the proposed patent "harmonisation" is to the practice of some patent offices, rather than to the law of any nation. English law explicitly excludes mathematical methods from patenting. Programs are instructions to an electronic computer, so are mathematical methods. Don't let anyone tell you that the proposed directive can't change that. More importantly, don't let them change that. Vote accordingly on 10-13 June. Watch eurovote for information to help you decide.

2004-05-26T09:41:45

Cleanliness is next to godlyness

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

I find that I'm more productive when in a tidy environment, like hippygeek. Sadly, I move from one task to the next fairly fast and leave material for interrupted tasks lying around my work space. Is there a fix for this? I don't know.

I can't spell godlyness(?) yet this morning. Oh well, it's a blog not a spelling lesson.

2004-05-26T09:41:45

Blogs, comments, spam and diversity

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

So, the mt spam arms race continues, says Andrew. Some people think I am nuts to write my own blogging code, but at least it means that I'm unlikely to have this problem. Well, that and not having any comments forms. Wonder if I'll start getting trackback spam when I enable that?

By the way, it so should have been won by the football boot, but then I would say that. I really like people who change careers successfully. Even Gordon Ramsey, although that ITV1 show is horrible horrible evil bad and wrong.

2004-05-26T09:41:45

Insurances

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

If you're looking for car or house insurance, I've found insuredonline/brokersure and Frizzell to be OK. Co-operative (CIS) were good in the past, but I've not checked recently.

Posted in response to Steve looking for car insurance.

I have had trackback ping-sending working for a while. Must enable the receipt.

2004-05-25T17:23:47

Fix don't fork

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Martyn writes "It makes you wish that the NHS was simply abolished and everybody had to pay". While I can understand his rage in this case, stupid statements like that really upset me. We already all pay for the health service, nominally through NI, but really through NI and tax in general. If everybody had to pay at the point of delivery, I may well be dead by now.

As the old software statement goes, fix don't fork. Complain and keep chasing it in a useful way, further and further up the chain, until they look at this and explain it. Ideally, until they fix it. Martyn is one of the most effective complainers about IT things that I've seen. Why not use that skill to improve the NHS? I'll buy him a drink if he does...

2004-05-25T17:15:35

New service: tv guides

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

No idea how long it will last, but you can have my European Satellite TV Picks if you want. Email me if you want me to add RSS. I'm off to watch cycling and get a drink.

2004-05-24T15:30:52

Atom and Mono and ...

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Matthew Garrett's Mono accusations would be funny if they weren't so worrying.

I need to add Atom support to Mabloss because the 2rss converter someone is using keeps adding adverts to schcyroll planets.

I've had some data sent in for euroVote to use, but no time yet to even unpack it. Urgh. Hopefully, I have two talks to give about this in the next week, so I hope they'll bring more help.

I'm leaning towards keeping using the towers domain now, because it fits in better with my work (turo) and where I live (which has many towers rising out of the flat landscape) than otherwayup.

Busy day at work yesterday. Need to do some overdue preventative sysadmin work to stop it happening again. A customer suddenly started eating disk at 30Mb per hour, which was too fast for the monitors and quota manager to catch, so the partition filled and then the fs corrupted when trying to resize. Thank the fates I took a backup before trying the resize...

2004-05-23T12:05:03

Too quick, Conference, Domains

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Something seems wrong today. Email took less than 10 minutes this morning. Reading web sites took less than 10. Has everyone died or something?

Well, AFFSAC and the AGM came and went. I think the conference went well and we've already had some praise. I'm less convinced that the AGM went well. My memory is hazy, as I think I was sat in the sun for too long, but I think I have some explaining to do. I'll do that on fsfe-uk soon. Other things (accounts, memberships, projects) should come first.

I published some email tips because Sven Guckes's site keeps vanishing. I still need to decide what I should do about my domains and web sites. I just renewed otherwayup, but towers fits in better with my other uses. It needs tidying up, though. What to do, what to do?

2004-05-18T09:56:43

AquaPlus-- and button-up

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Just discovered that AquaPlus water filter jugs do not take universal filter cartridges, although they claim their cartridges work in other universal filter jugs, which they do, but they're crap and drop bits everywhere. I'm not being limited to only AquaPlus filters, so that's getting junked and replaced.

Did this today. Let's see if it works on syndicated sites: PLANET DEBIAN I won't be at all surprised if that doesn't come out. You can see them in the bottom left of the page holding this blog on my site. I made them to reduce the download size of a page, among many other tricks.

2004-05-11T19:26:34

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