Michael Tiemann's blog

Reducing the risks of vendor lock-in

Peter Hansteen of Bergen Norway reports that the Norwegian Police Force has disclosed two large-scale information security incidents. He explains that:

Apparently large parts of the bureaucracy that is responsible for the confidential and correct processing of criminal matters and all sorts of sensitive personal information associated with the crimes runs essential services on Microsoft Windows NT 4.0.

That version of the Microsoft product is so old it is officially abandonware, and early reports of the police network problems included the oldish news that even the antiware vendors have stopped supporting the system. Later reports had police IT department officials claim that the worm infections were not that much of a security problem, since at this point all the worm actually did was spread.

The emphases above are, understandably, in the original report.

A New Software Manifesto for India

A new voice is rising from the great democracy of India, and that voice is proclaiming that the only responsible choice for public sector software is software that is first and foremost available to the public-to read and understand, to modify and improve, and to share and redistribute. The campaign Public Software for Public Sector has published a Manifesto expressing their belief that free and open source software is a natural fit for the vibrant traditions of Indian democracy and its emphasis on sharing knowledge, and that the liberal licensing policies of such software are necessary to ensure that India can build a stronger economic base for the 21st century.

From the End of the Beginning to the Beginning of the End

When Eric Raymond posted the first of the Halloween Documents in 1998, it marked the end of the beginning for open source. That is to say those documents demonstrated that the logical superiority of the open source development model had penetrated the most headstrong corporate skull in the proprietary software universe: Microsoft. The fact that Microsoft could judge major open source projects to be equal or possibly superior to their own efforts more than 10 years ago, and the fact that they recognized

The ability of the OSS process to collect and harness the collective IQ of thousands of individuals across the Internet is simply amazing. More importantly, OSS evangelization scales with the size of the Internet much faster than our own evangelization efforts appear to scale.

- Halloween I

that open source was getting better faster than they could ever hope to accomplish working by themselves. Yet instead of adopting these superior methods for the benefit of their customers, they formulated a strategy to lock-in customers, fence out competition, and essentially use the patent system in the opposite way it was intended, namely to frustrate progress in science and the useful arts, rather than promote it. Brian Kahin writes an article that tells us that Microsoft has signaled it has now reached the beginning of the end. But for whom?

One Laptop Per Child in Afghanistan

CNN reports Laptops bring lessons, maybe even peace. It's good to see the One Laptop Per Child project back on track.

To me, the most exciting thing about the One Laptop Per Child project is that it dared to challenge educational and capitalistic orthodoxy, offering an authentic platform for true experiential learning. The concept of open source was absolutely essential to the vision, not because kids cannot hack binary code--they do it all the time. But because virtually all proprietary software licenses make real learning--learning through experimentation and discussion--illegal. It makes absolutely no sense to put into a child's hands software that cannot be read, modified, and shared at the very same time when we are trying to teach children how to read, how to manipulate things, and how to share.

UK Government Getting Real About Open Source

In December of 2008 it was discovered that Bernie Madoff may have perpetrated a scheme that defrauded investors of as much as $50B USD. With a fraud so large, the scandal cut across a wide range of social classes, from the financial aristocracy to the merely comfortable. One of the many questions asked was "how could such a large fraud have escaped detection for so long?" It turns out that people had been trying to blow the whistle on Bernie Madoff for 10 years, but such whistle-blowing fell on deaf ears, perhaps because the regulators were simply too impressed with Madoff's self-described success to do their jobs effectively.

In the wake of that embarrassment, regulators decided they might as well follow up on tips of another fraud that had been reported since at least 1999.

Are we really wasting $1T USD annually?

Last week I was quoted by the BBC saying that taken as a whole, the world wastes $1 trillion (with a 'T') dollars on information and communications technology. And judging by the various blog postings that have been generated in reaction to that, I estimate that fewer than 20% have any quibbles at all with that number, meaning that more than 80% are ready to see a change in how we do software and technology in the 21st century.

Tom Callaway rants about licensing...justifiably so!

Tom Callaway is the Fedora Engineering Manager, at Red Hat, and he's one of the key people keeping watch over the many and sundry licensing issues that crop up when thousands of software packages come together to make a Linux distribution. Love them or hate them, Tom was and is one of the key architects of Fedora's legal policies.

And now he's mad.


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