Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

If you’re an ugly duckling
Who grew into a swan
Be grateful it was you who got the breaks.
There are many ugly ducklings
And for every single one
There are fifty handsome cygnets
Who grow up into drakes.

Subtle Irony

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Does anybody else think this was a badly-chosen name for the product?

Time to Reform Copyright?

Monday, April 6th, 2009

The original intention behind copyright was to encourage people to share their creative works with Society At Large by offering a short-term monopoly over their distribution in return for a promise that those works would eventually pass into the Public Domain and be able to be shared freely by everyone. At the time, this was seen as, if not the best solution, then the least unfair compromise: better for the Public Domain to be enriched eventually than not at all. Copyright enabled authors to be sure that the publishers of their works — who had access to the means of reproducing them — were not ripping them off.

Over time, natural erosion has shifted the goalposts. Ownership of printing presses and record-cutting apparatus — or, at any rate, their modern equivalents in the form of general-purpose computers — has expanded to include members of the general public, and publishers — while by no means utterly redundant — are generally less necessary than has been the case in the past. The duration of copyright, meanwhile, has repeatedly become extended and copyright (by the way, even this is a complete misnomer: it is a privilege, not a right) itself has been subverted into a way of repeatedly making money year upon year after doing something only once. (I’d love to see the look on Sir Cliff Richard’s face if his plumber knocked on his door demanding a royalty fee every time the tortoise-necked old fart flushed his toilet.)

And the Public Domain is not being enriched in the way that was envisaged at the time copyright was originally conceived.

I believe that it is time to reconsider altogether whether, in the 21st Century where almost everyone has access to the wherewithal for reproducing information, the grant of a temporary monopoly to the original creator of a work is still the least unfair way to ensure that the Public Domain continues to be enriched by the creation of new works which can be freely shared by everyone.

Spammers Revisit Old Techniques

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

I’ve noticed a sudden upsurge in e-mail spammers using the old “font-size:0px” trick.

Get some imagination, will you? It didn’t work last time, and it won’t work this time. Oh, and if you’re trying to sell something (I mean, presumably these idiots are in it for the money), it kind of helps if you include a way to buy it.

No More -dev packages

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

It’s time for the maintainers of a Linux distribution to give serious thought to dropping “developers’” packages once and for all.

Back In The Days, when processor speeds were a few tens of megahertz, hard disk sizes were a few hundred megabytes and Internet connections were by dial-up, there was a genuine need to conserve CPU cycles and disk space. So the fledgling Linux distributions provided pre-compiled binary packages containing only files essential for day-to-day running. If you wanted to compile another package yourself from Source Code to work with an existing package, you had to download a separate developer’s package. If you were playing about with Linux at all, you generally knew what you were doing.

That made perfect sense in that environment.


Sir Arthur C. Clarke dies

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke has died aged 90 at his home in Sri Lanka. BBC Story

He wrote the best kind of science fiction: the kind that is based on good science. I am sure he will be sadly missed.

An honest question about other cultures and languages (I)

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

Please forgive me my ignorance here. I just want to know something …..

Is there any culture in the world which lacks the notion of “boys’ names” and “girls’ names”?