Archive for April, 2009

28 July: Day of Protest against Internet Explorer

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

(originally posted by me at http://stuartsharpe.co.uk — some changes have been made since then.)

It’s time for everyone who appreciates good web design and open standards to come together, just for one day, and say, once and for all: Enough already!

Enough already with IE riding roughshod over open, published standards because they don’t happen to suit Microsoft.

Enough already with IE and its downright bats#!t insane default behaviour of executing unknown content.

Enough already with pandering to Microsoft’s buggy, broken virus-trap just because it’s “there by default”.

If one person decided that they were going to block IE, to warn users politely but firmly that they were not welcome to use that malware-magnet that can’t render properly, then that person might lose some traffic.

But if enough people decided, all on the same day, that they were all going to f**k off Internet Explorer users until they downloaded a proper browser — Firefox, for instance, or even Opera or Safari; you know how much recommending a closed-source product sticks in my craw, but anything‘s got to be better than IE — then suddenly the users would have no choice but to download a proper browser, if they wanted to see the Internet. The long-term benefits of that would massively outweigh the short-term inconvenience. Microsoft might even write a proper, standards-compliant browser!

Come on, people. Let’s have a worldwide day of protest against Internet Explorer, stick to it; and by doing so, just maybe improve the Internet for everyone. And that day might just as well be 28 July.

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.
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Robot Scientist Makes New Discovery!

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

From the BBC news site:

Scientists have created an ideal colleague – a robot that performs hundreds of repetitive experiments.

The robot, called Adam, is the first machine to have independently “discovered new scientific knowledge”.

It has already identified the role of several genes in yeast cells, and is able to plan further experiments to test its own hypotheses.

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