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The Code War-- Software By Other Means 165

ParticleGirl writes "Suck has a great commentary today about the back-handed, back-stabbing nature of the software industry. The for-profit software industry, that is, of course... What kind of light does this sort of business ethic (or lack thereof) shine on the open-source community, and Free vs. free software?"
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The Code War-- Software By Other Means

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  • > Back then, the coal mining companies wouldn't stoop to such dangerous acts as dumpster diving.

    Isn't coal mining a form of dumpster diving from the get-go?

    --
  • for example this one: Find Your Star Wars Twin [outofservice.com], another one of those wacko star wars personality quizzes.

    Personally, I prefered the original that was mentioned around here some place over a year ago. But this one also lets you rate your friend or sibling and the say time you do your own.

    funky

  • There probably *should* be three factors, but when the government is a puppet of the corporations, the individual loses out. Corporations do NOT have the consumer's best interest at heart, no matter what they say. A corporation is answerable only to their stockholders. From time to time a corporation might do something that appears good, but more often than not the purpose is to improve their image to the consumer to increase favor to them over their competitor. Unfortunately, however, it seems that companies are going more and more for lobbying the government for corporate welfare (tax breaks) which often do not help the individuals.

    Anyone who believes that a totally free market is blind. A free market is only good if all of the players have an equal chance of succeeding. However, when a monopoly takes hold, it becomes increasingly difficult to compete on a level playing field. Government regulation, especially of monopolies, is required to preserve individual's rights. The recent stories about the utility companies here in California is a good example. Since being deregulated, they have used any means possible to raise rates, knowing that there is no alternative. For example, no matter who I get my electricity or gas from, it must pass over PG&E's lines, and therefore PG&E has total control over distribution, thus shutting out any real competition. As such, the utilities have increased their rates, sometimes significantly (i.e. in San Diego).

    Imagine if there were no corporate regulations for a minute... All the major telcos (ATT, MCI, Sprint, etc.) would merge and be able to charge whatever they wanted for telephone usage, reaping huge profits at the cost of the individual. Other industries would do the same thing. Large companies would merge as they saw fit since the lack of competitors increases their control over their markets allowing for higher profits for their shareholders.

    There are many other examples of the government not regulating industries. The crash of 1929 comes to mind, where insider trading was the norm, and stocks were bought totally on margin without any real money being invested. In other words, without government oversight the stock market became a pyramid scheme that eventually collapsed and took many people's savings with it as the banks failed. Due to regulation, this is much less likely to happen today (i.e. all bank accounts are now insured via the FDIC).

    Other examples are companies like Microsoft. Their early licensing policies eliminated any chance of competition, since computer manufacturers were charged a per-computer fee whether MS DOS and Windows software was installed or not. If the dealer did not agree to the licensing scheme, then the dealer's cost was significantly higher for all computers sold, and since MS held a monopoly and a majority of the customers wanted MS products (because exposure to alternatives was quite limited and most applications ran on MS software), companies like Digital Research failed to penetrate the market.

    MS, after the concent decree, changed their licensing policies, but used their monopoly to prevent computer manufacturers from installing competitor's software products. Again, if the competitor did not follow Microsoft's strict licensing policies, their costs for the operating system of choice was much higher.

    A final good example is Standard Oil at the turn of the century. Standard oil had total control over the oil industry and could dictate where gas stations would be located and how much they would charge. Any small competitor could easily be squashed by undercutting the competitor's cost in their region until the competitor went out of business, after which Standard Oil could charge whatever they wanted.

    The Japanese semiconductor manufacturers used a similar technique in the past to basically eliminate US manufacturers by dumping semiconductors at below cost, and once competition has been destroyed jacking the prices way up (anyone remember when memory prices skyrocketed?)

    A "free" market does not work unless there are checks and balances, much like our government. The U.S. government was designed to minimize the chance that one person or group could take over the country. For example, Congress could write any law they want and the President could sign it into law yet the courts could deem the law to be unconstitutional and throw it out. Likewise, the Congress can overrule a Presidential veto with enough votes.
  • One thing about the software industry is there is a lot of intellectual property compared to other industries.

    If I take the source code from a software company, I've basically got the entire product and the means to produce it.

    If I take one of GM's cars, I might get some good ideas about how to make a car, but I need dies, tools, and a whole assembly line if I want to duplicate it.

    -jlg

    ps. use Debian! www.debian.org

  • Actually, it goes beyond just the price of the CD. There was a time when large franchises were pressured into playing specific material at dance bars, etc. It was my understanding that the public playing of the music violated the lawful use of the music. I know this is true of videos, it is part of the FBI warning that you get to see. The music like the videos are sold for individual use. This is very similiar to libraries paying a hire price for magazine subscriptions. So, just because you own the disc does not mean you can play it anywhere you want to.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I like fdisk.

    And it's quite a powerful utility, if simple.

    It's easy to use it to protect against bootsector viruses. Just add the line:

    fdisk /MBR

    toward the end of your autoexec.bat file and you're protected against many forms of boot sector corruption. To get the added protection of adding it while it isn't even possible for your machine to be already running a boot sector virus, edit your autoexec.bat file to contain the line while you're dual-booted into Linux. Yes, do go do that, Linux hackers.

    1. Use the su command to become root.

    2. Mount your DOS partition if it isn't already mounted.

    3. Use the editor of your choice to add the fdisk line to your autoexec.bat file.

    4. Rest easy, with the assurance that from this point onward your boot sector will be free from virus infected code.

    It only takes a minute to do. Go do it now.

  • i have fdisked a 3 gig drive (with a win98 boot disk) and format insisted that it saw 4 gigs. even from the linux partition it looks like 4 gigs. both linux and win98s fdisk sees only 3 gigs.

    im just glad this things not mine!
  • isn't that a bit of a limited view? Corporations are just a bunch of people with sometimes-intersecting viewpoints and resources...morals and ethics are _aggregate_ properties, and hardly divorced from business. Societies can have moral properties just as humans can have rational properties; we too are governed by laws, but that doesn't keep us from pursuing things other than only programmed "goals" of feeding, sleep and reproduction.
  • Actually their fdisk sucks, it won't remove partitions it doesn't understand, such as ext2 partitions. It claims there is a extended partition with no logical drives defined, then refuses to delete the extended partition because logical drives are defined.

    Linux's fdisk seems to be much more effective...
  • (referencing your MS discussion to trade linux for it)
    Didn't they do this with Netscape CDs when they were trying to get IE3.0 to take off? (in addition to the whole ship with us only thing/ we're on the desktop thing/ and the we're tying the UI in for 4.0)

    You see where that's starting to get them... anti-trust.

    (Referencing your "linux-kidz" discussion)
    If you think it is just Kids (or probably you think people acting childishly) that compain about the cost of software, I'd think that Windows 95/98 would be the simpler platform. Yes, you do pay out the nose, but everyone's got it and burners are a dime a dozen. Does anybody remember what 770-077-07077 (or something like that) is?

    If the young linux crowd (which usually gets a bad rap) were really jsut a bunch of copyright-infinging pirate H4X0RZ I bet you they'd really be running 95 - its a whole lot more "fun" if that's what you really think they think is 3L173(spelling?). Its not a question of "free" in terms of money that pulls in these kids.

    Now as whether or not this younger linux generation picks up the torch and starts to join various open source projects remains to be seen, but wait to find out. I'd bet MOST linux users say they support the FSF, but the second the FSF asks for a handout it looks like somebody just stepped on someone elses' pet turtle.

    Think of these kiddie "free-loaders" as seeds...

    OS is not against feeding your family, its not "pick Open Source or Microsoft"... its more of a statement of I believe "WE" can make a better product together. If that means I have to work on NT Boxes at work too, then Damnit, I'll work on NT boxes...but when I go home its a different story.

    The seeds of revolution have already been planted, all we need is a little catalyst...
  • Most software companies have not been established like those of the older industries, but keep this in mind: These companies may have been born at night, but they weren't born yesterday. They know how the new games are played, and they are fighting to keep their awarded copyrights their own. There was no need for rockefeller's standard Oil to copyright/patent their products/processes. Undoubtedly, times have changed.
  • This commentary (commentary not investigative article) makes it obvious how absurd 1. how low people/corporations/cmdrtaco will sink when money and power are at stake and 2. how seriously we seem to take this issue when it's been around for years. It's making fun of the problem, yes, but it's not denying that there's a problem. Just because people have been doing this for years doesn't make it any less of an issue. It may be making fun of the "political ramifications that will doom us all" attitude, but it's certainly not hiding the fact that the corrupted system exists.

    On a tangent, or parallel, really: just because it's political satire doesn't mean it's not political.
  • corporations can buy ethics with money

    I don't really understand how one can buy ethics, but that aside what you are talking about is not ethics, but pure PR, aka image management, aka spinmeistering, aka controlling how the outside world sees you. This ancient art has been perfected by politicians and corporations, of course, have been using it quite successfully for quite a while.

    What all this has to do with ethics I don't know. I don't even know what ethics are you talking about since even a couple of steps beyound "Thou shall not kill" you would find vigorous (and honest) disagreements about what's ethical and what's not...

    Kaa
  • I think that people found the concepts presented in the article interesting, and they probably found that the pictures were humorous as well.

    As for the snide comment about businesses obviously being competitive... "Competitive" business tactics would involve attempting to manufacture a better product to replace another company's product, such as if I were able to make a better word processing package than Microsoft Word. "Competitive" would not imply, on the other hand, that I should try to bring down a rival through propaganda, libel, rifling through their dumpsters, etc. What a waste of time and resources (which could have been devoted to "competition".
  • I use VIM now but my first PC was a dual disk (360k) 8088. I had a lot of fun making .bat files in edlin. My menu.bat was 270 lines created with edlin. Another favorite: debug. Opening DOS 3.3 in hex and changing the error messages--those were the days.

  • by JabberWokky ( 19442 ) <slashdot.com@timewarp.org> on Friday August 11, 2000 @09:23AM (#862230) Homepage Journal
    Let's not forget that the communities (KDE or Gnome) do not need to bother with spying. Both are open-source, so they just look at the code and have more than they could want, and still legally use it.

    That's what I thought - but apparantly, that's not true.

    Although both projects are GPL'ed, Gnome can use KDE code (their html widget came from KDE 1.1), but KDE can't use Gnome code (the classic example is the threatened lawsuits over kgimp).

    For more (admittedly one-sided and rather frustrated in tone) information, read this thread [kde.org] off of the KDE general mailing list.

    --
    Evan

  • I know one 'regional' band that can't get signed (their sound doesn't seem to be mainstream enough), yet they're popular enough to make regular, albeit small west-coast tours? Who drive to their local gigs in an ugly, blue bus that putters up hills at about 40mph max...What happened to the dedication to your art?

    What's the band's name? This is usually the type of stuff I prefer. Especially if they 'aren't mainstream enough'. I can't think of one 'popular' artist I've bought in about the past 15 years (unless you count Stevie Ray Vaughan, that guy could play).

    And BTW, the dedication to your art got sold down the river along with the idea of integrity in general. Take a look around you. A society produces artists that are just as shitty as the society itself (will that earn a flamebait?). There are a few of us out here trying to create good 'art' without wussing out. But most are quick to 'sell' when they get the (quickly broken) promise of a 'mint'. Hopefully that will change soon. But don't hold your breath.
  • Well, don't we backstab commericial providers from their lawful income when making free software of same kind?. Don't we infact backstab the artists when downloading mp3s? They have to live too. If for-pay mp3s came out - I would _gladly_ sponsor it. FUD can be used in open source too, but its not very ethical. I'm not aware of any examples but I bet there are some out there
  • Oh god, an actual intelligently humorous post? On slashdot (checking URL to make sure I didn't screw up)?

    Now, having said that I realize I just posted another un-intelligently humorous post. (hanging head in shame, like Bud Bundy.)

    Anyway, someone needs to mod up +5 funny for the parent post.
  • The commercial software industry may seem cutthroat compared to the open source industry but notice the average age of commercial computer scientists compared to the age of open source CS people. Let's simplify it even more. Know any succesful politicians under 30?
  • by paTroll ( 207175 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @06:02AM (#862235)
    You should read the article here [osopinion.com] about open source anti-competitive practices. It's quite hillarious. My favorite quote from the article: "What about open standards? No problem: Linux. Its is open and it can be the standard."

    pt

  • Backhanded and backstabbing of non open source software, you mean! Ok, well, maybe that can get nasty too *averts eyes* -icarus
  • to most people. The software industry is benign. There's no slave labor, there's no equivalent to the need for, say, child labor laws or health laws like those that inspired the book The Jungle. There are no assassinations nor control of large numbers of families. Employees are all well-paid. Products are cheap - remember what an Apple ][ cost in 1980?

    So what the hell are we complaining about again? The API is a tool of fascist oppression? gimme a break..

  • sol.exe is (by default) one of the files on the "can't delete this" list for W2K. If you try and dispose of it without fixing this list first, it will come back, just like other critical system utilities.

    By MS's own words and deeds then, Solitaire is a critical part of the operating system {grin}.

    WWJD -- What Would Jimi Do?

  • Back then, the coal mining companies wouldn't stoop to such dangerous acts as dumpster diving.

    No, you'd never hear of a coal mining company hiring private detectives to bust unions, and heads.

    You'd never hear of Rockefeller's Standard Oil doing anything illegal or unsavory to reduce the competition.

    The software companies are still babes in the woods compared to older industries.
  • Here's what I think: Governments should exert much tighter controls on corporations.

    What're you, stupid? Who would you rather have calling the shots, a corporation or a government? Bear in mind that if you don't like a corporation, you are free to exercise the ultimate sanction: buy from their rivals. If you don't like a government (particularly one "strong" enough to control corporation), do you really imagine they give a flying fsck if you vote for another party? In fact, they'd simply outlaw other parties, shoot their leaders and lock you in a concentration camp.

    This is one thing the bleeding hearts never understand: it's the free market. Free as in speech, not as in beer. It's free individuals organising themselves as they see fit, and pursuing their goals, and taking their own risks, and earning their own rewards. How can you encourage competition in a world where the prize for success is punishment?

    The only real supporters of strong government are the wannabe slave drivers.

  • The software industry is showing its newness whenever an article like this appears. In the big world competition happens. Anytime I write code thinking to sell it, I'm aware that somebody else is probably capable of writing the same code (and probably better.) A limited number of dollars are being chased so I try to help get my code sold as much as possible. I don't resort to hiring PIs but if the battle got way more intense, I could see it happening. Do I want to know what the competition is up to? You'd better believe I do. Full Stop.
  • Corporations will always evolve to survive in changing market conditions (of course, those that don't survive are replaced by a better-adapted competitor). This is why governments should have no fear in tightening the leash on corporations, instead of pandering to them (which sickens me to watch).

    I agree with you partially. However, I don't think this applies to multinational corporations. If a government puts too tight of a restriction on a company, they leave and go somewhere else. Governments are national, Companies are multinational. Some governments understand this, some don't. Most people don't really care about this when they buy the products they do. They only care about the price and the quality. If consumers cared more about where stuff came from, companies would care more about where they make it.
  • by Uruk ( 4907 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @06:07AM (#862243)
    This kind of crap doesn't have anything to do with software. It has to do with good old fashioned corporate greed.

    Spying on each other? Screwing each other over? Unethical contracts? Back stabbing? Welcome to corporate america, not just the software industry.

    Software companies may engage in this more than other companies, but if so, it's only because the stakes are higher and larger amounts of money are changing hands. If you made the toilet plunger industry into a multibillion dollar industry that was moving as quickly and savagely as the software industry was, they'd act the same way.

    So it probably makes free software look pretty good. Or maybe it just makes us look more and more like extremist dope smoking hippies because everybody knows that tech companies are our economic saviors.

    They are, aren't they? Aren't they? :)

  • Well this may be obvious, but when something is done as open Source adn it is free, the person or persons doing it are usually doing this because they want to a dn the like what they do. Also they do it cause they find it useful to themselves. I wrote an open source text editor and I did it cause I needed one and I open sourced it cause I wanted to share it. Because it is open source many people like it and I have gotton feedback (LOTS) and also some additions to the code which I integrated in a manner not to break anything and make them and I both happy.

    When companies write code they want to make a profit from it and that is there main concern. Don't be fooled by ANY company that sells software. They are doing it for the money. Yes some may be a little more moral than others but thay ALL are just out to make money! Many people who work at these companies do so cause they like what they do. Now there is nothing wrong with makeing money from software, but when a company screws its users just to make a buck it is immoral.

    What really bothers me is that there has been no real inovation in the software industry in 10 years. Neither proprietary nor open source. We still use the same tech we did 10 years ago it is just with more features and faster hardware. I want speach input that works! I want a system that does not crash (winblows and mac) or 'panic' *nix!!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I don't want a lot, I just want it all ;-)
    Flame away, I have a hose!

  • To be fair to Suck, their piece was humor. Its a shame to see Slashdot report this like everything they said was well-grounded factual reporting. Even Suck didn't pretend that.

    Be fair to Slashdot, too. The post was in the category "It's funny. Laugh," and the commentary you quote comes courtesy of the original story you quote, not any of the /. crew.

  • They are, aren't they? Aren't they? :)
    You dare doubt the "new economy!" You obviously need to be force fed more NPR, CNN and hype about 25 year old tech/marketing/salesmen genius millionaires.
  • To be fair to Suck, their piece was humor. Its a shame to see Slashdot report this like everything they said was well-grounded factual reporting. Even Suck didn't pretend that.

    ...note the "It's Funny" foot icon.

  • by baka_boy ( 171146 ) <{moc.sdlonyer-yad} {ta} {nonnel}> on Friday August 11, 2000 @06:32AM (#862248) Homepage
    I think of it more as a type of tradiitonal warfare: they have a large army, comprised almost entirely of mercenaries and peons, all of whom are well-equipped and well copensated. However, no individual soldier can attack without consulting a huge network of lieutenants and commanders, who spend the entire battle in their tents. These "leaders" are all obsessed with making sure they will be personally recognized for their fighters' sucesses, and want to have a new, bigger, and better-paid army at the end of the battle.

    We, the open-sourcers, may be a ragtag bunch, but we can each make our own strategy, forming temporary alliances, and even sometimes gaining support from another "businessman's army". We have at our disposal an array of powerful armaments, but usually settle on a few favorites. Our "commanders" have their position only because of the respect and experience they have earned in prior battles, and must be among the best fighters we have. We don't ask for the army to feed or house us, and may even leave the battles with some regularity; the ranks are usually swelling, though, and make up for their lack of central organization with cunning and dedication.

    (Okay, okay, so it's beyond cheesy. But hey, everybody like a little cheese now and then, right? Plus, I haven't had my coffee yet...)

  • Linux is a great way to teach basic OS design. Rated in innovative features per share of the OS market, it's the least innovative out there. The userland is not the OS, by the way.

    Perhaps. But there is the slight stumbling block that Windows XX isn't open source. (Wouldn't matter if it was anyway because no sane person would want CS students learning how to write OSes the Microsoft way.)

    =================================
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Marx also opined that corporations would never cooperate with each other, and would sooner compete out of existence than cooperate - things like the RIAA and the MPAA would never exist because corporations (he believed) were incapable of not killing each other long enough to work for their joint benefit. So we can't take him at his word for everything.

    Corporations are very powerful now, but I have yet to see the amassed corporate armies that mark typical Cyberpunk corps, but the time could be coming I guess. DX8 is supporting easy voice-over-net connections, so next we have video over net - then we've got the Matrix ala Gibson.

    Hmmmm. Cyberpunk future eh? Time to brush up on my VRML. Oh yeah, and by some guns.

  • I don't think they were Open Source according to the Open Source definition [opensource.org]... but in the sense that you got the source...

    Or were those programs excluded from the general license terms of MS DOS?!

    --
  • Hehehe. You are rich spoiled kid who never really lacked anything. That's the only conclussion one can draw from your post ? "wretched working conditions" my ass - I bet you forget about your slave-type lifestyle when you get into your BWM after work.
  • If this whole OS thing is not directly related to commercial potential than Raymond and his preaching amounts to pure bullshit and not much more.
  • I believe they orignally stole the technology from Norton Utilities, and the courts made them pay a settlement to continue using it.
  • It's open source, but not free software. People really need to stop using confusing terms. Oh, here's an excerpt from the source:
    '
    ' Q B a s i c N i b b l e s
    '
    ' Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation 1990
    '
    and just for good measure:
    Center 4, "Q B a s i c N i b b l e s"
    COLOR 7
    Center 6, "Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation 1990"
    You can download the source code to nibbles.bas here [kuntrynet.com].

    There are several 1 & 2-player versions of Java Nibbles [google.com] out there, as well.

    Nibbles is great.
  • by goingware ( 85213 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @10:21PM (#862256) Homepage
    Two valuable and pertinent links:

    The Forum on Risks to the Public in Computers and Related Systems [ncl.ac.uk]

    The Software Conspiracy [softwareconspiracy.com]

    While there will always be quality problems in software, current practice in many companies is to not even try to do the basic things that tend towards improving software quality. Until the public wakes up and realizes they're being ripped off, and their safety and corporate information being put at risk, we will always have this problem.

    One solution is to get every programmer in a company a copy of some good quality tools, static analysis tools like PC-Lint [gimpel.com] and dynamic (runtime) analysis tools like Spotlight [onyx-tech.com] (for the MacOS) or BoundsChecker [numega.com] (for Windows) or Purify [rational.com] for Unix (but apparently not Linux) and NT.

    As a Spotlight user and a long-time reader of the Risks forum, I wouldn't dream of shipping a Mac product unless it tested absolutely cleanly under Spotlight and had zero memory leaks.

    But it is amazing to try Spotlight on a mature commercial product for the first time. Think you're program's free of bugs? Guess again. I proposed using Spotlight to my manager, on our program which had been shipping for several years and cost $600 retail. It was a serious product for high-end users. My manager said it would be a waste of time because "Our program has so many bugs, Spotlight would keep finding them and progress would be very slow." And you know, he was right. I persisted anyway, and spent three months ferreting bugs out of that program with Spotlight.

    There's a lot of tools out there (and there's tools like these for Java too, like OptimizeIt [optimizeit.com] - do you know many Java programs have memory leaks?). You don't have to pick the tools I recommend, but look out for what's available there and make sure you have something for every developer seat in the house.

    It will be the best investment you make. The $199 for Spotlight will be paid for in the day it's first used.

    And free software writers, I suggest writing free software versions of these. It would be possible in principle to write a special version of gcc, or an command-like option to it, that when your program is linked to a special library all your memory accesses are boundschecked. Note that Spotlight can validate memory reads as well as memory writes.

  • Yes, yes, troll replies bad, offtopic bad, but I just got a bill from Maximum Linux magazine and I'm peeved. No, I haven't received the six issues you say you've sent me. I don't even remember receiving one issue aside from the free trial copy. Anyone else had bad experiences with MLM?
  • what about BeOS? it's an OS that's fairly dynamic, and it's a fairly new alternative OS (far younger than Mac, windows, or Unix). just a thought.
  • Uhm... the problem with MS fdisk is generally that you can get errors like "You have a bad partition table, so fdisk won't work! Sorry!" (no, that's no exact quote)... I mean that could be a reason why I want to run fdisk... to wipe all partition entries and start over... but no.. not with MS fdisk...
    It also can't handle linux partitions... :/

    --
  • I agree with you that there has been very little strong innovation in the commercial software industry in the last few years. However, Microsoft, Adobe, and IBM are not the be-all, end-all of software development. They all offer safe, predictable products that can be easily categorized and used by businesses and individuals who may not be at all computer-focused.

    Software research, though, is far from dead. Pick a topic -- AI, speech recognition, security, interfaces, whatever -- and I'll bet you can find a grad student somewhere who has the complete source code to something truly interesting and new just sitting there, being ignored. The academic research community still pushes the envelope of software design and implementation on a regular basis, and there are tools in use today that bear little resemblence to their watered down, commercial counterparts. However, you have to remember that just because the result of a period or research is expressed as software, that doesn't mean that the research itself is going to progress as quickly as copycat commercial version updates. Good, solid research takes time, almost anal attention to detail, and a mindset that few people can muster. There's a reason that work with computers in universities is focused around Computer Science, rather than Computer Arts.

    On the other side of the coin, there are freely available tools that are rock-solid and consistent; they, too simply do not often reach the feature and merketing-driven world of commercial products. Try setting up a FreeBSD box with some basic services and reliable GNU tools, and tell me how often it has a kernel panic -- or even a core dump. Mostly, it's going to hum away in the corner until someone tries to screw with it, and breaks something.

  • Btw, it's "Trumpet Winsock" and nothing else... and it's available for download here [trumpet.com]... =)

    And yes, I have to agree.... those memories... =)..
    (of course not only good memories though)

    --
  • Technical decision makers have the obligation to rationally evaluate all potential solutions without personal bias. Our decisions should be solely based upon a product's merits. That's why I don't care what any of the companies do, so long as their products meet my customers' needs. For all I care, Bill Gates can be a racist child-molesting serial killer. It's still a fact that the TPC-C records for performance and value are absolutely DOMINATED by MS SQL Server and Windows 2000. Stop whining and get over it. Oh, and visit http://www.tpc.org ! Mmmmmmkay???
  • firstly, I can only assume you read suck.com daily (as do I, with my morning coffee). So you know that the cyncism typified by Filler sort of pervades the whole site. And while they have much to say on serious subjects (and do so with biting remarks and wit - yesterday's analysis of the GOP convention was killer); on social subjects they often laugh/bitch not at the filth of how we deal with life, the universe, and everything, but with our predictable, often puritanical, sometimes hilarious reactions to such.

    So in this case I think the joke is about how self-important the software industry is, rather than crying wolf about corporate espionage. There are more serious activism journalism sites than suck; that's where I would look to see that kind of interpretation.

    BTW: I see you go to umich. Are you at the Ann Arbor campus? North campus or Central? God I miss that town -- if only it had a tech economy of decent size.

  • by Phrogman ( 80473 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @06:36AM (#862264) Homepage

    Thats an easy question - fdisk. Its fairly well written, fast, and I have never had it fail on me so far. Of course, once you run it, the other MS products don't seem to be available, but then Linux & the BSDs offer a friendly and much more functional alternative. Still, I think we should be magnanimous enough to offer Microsoft a compliment on the effectiveness and general quality of fdisk - I recommend it to all of my friends.

  • fdisk, followed closely by format. The rest of them suffer feature creep, to the point of being unusable for their primary purpose. Before you all flame on, yes, I know fdisk got a new, unneeded switch in 1997. It suffers too, but one switch in six years isn't bad!!
  • I didn't find anything worthwhile in this article. Granted, I couldn't stomach it all the way through to the end, but I doubt it got much better.

    A good commentary, IMHO, presents well-documented facts to support an opinion and is capable of persuading someone of differing opinion, or no opinion, and less facts to change their point of view. This article was nothing but a string of accusations with no substantiation. Sure, the cartoons were amusing, but this type of writing accomplishes nothing but entertaining others of the same viewpoint and giving them a false sense of justification and vindication.

    Let me conclude by saying that I do not necessarily disagree with the viewpoint presented. I simply disagree with the notion that this presentation of that viewpoint represents anything approaching journalism.
  • by Ratteau ( 183242 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @06:41AM (#862267) Homepage

    Backstabbing tactics are not unique to the computer industry and have, in fact been going on for as long as there has been money. They are usually more rampant when the companies involved are not equals, such as in the movie "Tucker". However, even though the small guy usually does lose, that does not mean his ideas die with him. Tucker's cars were the safest being made, and many of his innovations were fairly quickly included in the later models from the big 3 automakers. This is how M$ treats Linux -- only time will tell the rest of this story, of course.

    Within open source software groups of equals, I do think there will be the same sort of attacks, but for different reasons. Instead of just being about money, it may be more about ego, pride, (spite? :) -- for example, who can claim the most improvement to KDE in the next release? In fact, I remember a recent article here about a split in this code because of differences in opinion about the direction in which the code was headed (I may be mistaken about these details, but in either case, this is what I forsee happening). I include money because even though there may be no pay now, one could easily parlay their developments into a nice job.

    Some sort of centralized planning will no doubt be needed to keep code branches from divergeing too much. Maybe the developers who worked on a current version would accept submissions of proposals of what should be in the next version. They would vote and determine what will be done, and then anyone would be able to code, and become part of the voting group for the next release. This would at least ensure the integrity of a project in a version-to-version evolution, however, I think it would be difficult to keep any original grand vision intact. Do any of the more advanced open-source projects work in such a way? How successful have they been?

  • To be fair to Suck, their piece was humor. Its a shame to see Slashdot report this like everything they said was well-grounded factual reporting. Even Suck didn't pretend that.

    Yes, I suppose thats why the humor icon was used to denote the article. Those sneaky slashdot bastards!

    -- iCEBaLM
  • yes, specifically, partition type 0c (or at least what linux fdisk calls 0c which is fat32 LBA)
  • If for-pay mp3s came out - I would _gladly_ sponsor it.

    Then go check out fairtunes.com [fairtunes.com], which slashdot was even kind enough to post a story on today.
  • The obvious solution is of course, communism. Kruschev said he would bury us! It's true! The cuban are invading this christmas! Save the children and move to Sealand!
  • Still, I think we should be magnanimous enough to offer Microsoft a compliment on the effectiveness and general quality of fdisk - I recommend it to all of my friends

    Except, even there, users of MS products get an inferior product: the OS/2 fdisk was significantly more powerful and flexible.
  • Fiddling around with a hobby Operating System based on a 20 year old architecture is NOT appropriate work for tax funded researchers.

    Whether or not Linux is a "hobby" OS is arguable, but even if it is, what's the harm? Do you expect these researchers to spend 24/7 of their lives researching whatever they are researching? Hint: it isn't going to happen; they have lives too. And if it is Linux that they are researching and/or using in the classrom, so what? Being open source, Linux is a great way to teach everything from basic programming concepts to advanced OS design.

    =================================
  • What kind of light does this sort of business ethic (or lack thereof) shine on the open-source community, and Free vs. free software?"

    I think this is just the world in microcosm, and you'll find this sort of behavior in the underbelly of any human institution. When I was in college, I had a number of friends who were pre-med. They told me astounding tales of the underhanded tactics that the pre-med students would employ in order to sabotage their fellows. Things like taking their lab cultures out of the incubator and destroying them. They did this because grades were assigned via a fixed curve, so only so many out of a class would get 'A's. So, I guess I'm not either surprised or particularly alarmed to find out that some within the software industry use gutter tactics in the internecine battles. As far as its implications for Free/free software, I have to think that flipping over the right rocks there would find some interesting crawly things as well. It's just a given that some individuals in any group will use underhanded techniques to achieve their goals.
  • > Is it just me or was this strip not funny?

    It's just you. This was the funniest thing that they've done in weeks.

  • Note that one use of the word 'Free' is capitalised and the other 'free' is not. This indicates that a desire to compare the notion of free software as described by the GPL (i.e. Free speech) in contrast to software which is totally free (i.e. Free beer) and you never have to pay for, nor can you charge for it.

    There are a group of Open source software developers who choose to use the GPL, which allows money to come into the equation. There is another group which develops software which precludes any charge whatsoever. This post is PERHAPS meant to encourage a discussion about whether the GPL group may be better off following the second group, without any financial interest which can corrupt their principles.

    The Commercial software industries, NO DOUBT, began with a hope that money would not corrupt their vision and their products. But look at them now!

    Well, either way, thank God that the GPL ethic has not been corrupted to date. And may it long continue to be so.
  • Before you rain holy fire down upon me, please consider my statement. This article is slanted toward a paranoid, the-commies-are-out-to-get-us attitude. In addition, it calls upon evidence that has little to do with corporate espianoge; it deals more with military and state espianoge. In addition, just by taking a look at the sources used, it is clear that these "sources" are as slanted toward a paranoid view as the suck article. Consider the following: - A majority of the sources were either quoted out of context, or they provide a skewed viewpoint. - No evidence is produced to attempt to refute the evidence presented. Any credible work attempts to do this. - The evidence is used out of context. For example, the case of Harold Nicholson is about a state level espianoge case. What does this have to do with corporate espianoge? - Take a look at who owns the sites. The information is publicly available using the whois database. - Consider where this information comes from. I have no doubt in my mind that corporate espianoge does happen. However, I think that instead of buying into poorly supported media content that an effort should be made to research the activities in question. This includes clearly documented, complete records of said activities, alternative suggestions, and clearly supported resons for disagreeing with those suggestions, and reputable sources of information. - Nathaniel Cosgrove [ I am free because I think for myself, and I choose how I act ]
  • COM, COM+: COM was probably the last thing that Microsoft did that was inovative. (Assuming that they did not get the idea from someone else). COM+ is more of a newer version of COM as was DCOM and all the other crap. .net soap?? what? In reality there have been no inovations since the 80's in the desktop arena. Does your desktop still have icons? Yes it has since Mac release its first Mac and since Win3.1. We still use the mouse.

    I have been using computers since the late 70's and while there may have been 'code' changes it is still the same. Show me something that is truely new!!!!!!!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I don't want a lot, I just want it all ;-)
    Flame away, I have a hose!

  • You forgot VIM/Emacs!! And what let's not forget the true/false controversy...


    --
  • Exactly...corporations (when they get big enough) tend towards keeping down the other companies that might steal a chunk of their market share

    Multinational corporations essentially control governments - Once we had Standard Oil and United Fruit (United Fruit liked to send marines to Latin American republics when they got uppity), now we have Monsanto (destroying the agricultural viability of small farms in africa by trying to westernize their methods and force genetically engineered crops on people) or Shell (who don't flinch when governments exterminate indigenous peoples like the Ogoni of Nigeria to make room for their pipelines).

    There have always been people on the fringes of society outside of easy control, be they the Hobo radicals of the IWW back in the day speading sarcastic activism or haX0rs today making things tough for AT&T or Earth First!ers utterly humiliating the IMF and World Bank when they assume they have everyone's tacit approval in industrialized nations because they're "creating markets".

    Again, things have changed precious little in the past one hundred years - the technology has just changed. Instead of a dull, meanial job in front of a factory machine, we're given a dull, meanial job in a cubicle in a call center.

    And just because today's biggest and most talked-about companies happen to be in the computer industry doesn't mean they're doing anything differently than the companies before them.
  • Solitaire is probably the most useful. Keeps users from poking around in places they shouldn't ;)
  • Judging from the cartoons, I'd say "Just because it's political doesn't mean it's serious".

    The text I can take or leave; it reads at only slightly more comprehensible than a Katz article. (I give it a 0.7 Katz rating, where 0 is comprehensible and 1 is obviously computer-generated)

    However, the cartoons are hilarious! Balmer's codename is Bald Weasel? Double-plus-negative Microsoft speak? And that's just the beginning.

    So, regardless of what your motives are, or what your opinion of the article was, thanks for submitting it! Occasionally, Suck does not suck.
    ---
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [ncsu.edu].
  • It's about time somebody said it.
    Yes, money buys ethics, and it's even more true than you say. Money doesn't just buy the perception of ethics through marketting and advertisement, as you say. Money makes things right.

    Witness the RIAA sponsored 'work for hire' copyright rider on the Satelite communications Law that was recently mentioned here on /.! Money bought a law.

    Now Law is the definition of Ethics for our culture. Individuals define ethics and morality for themselves, but that's just an opinion. When you are in violation of The Law, you are in violation of what society thinks is right.

    If money can buy a law, then money can define what society thinks is right, and furthermore, what wrong actions are penalized. "Oooh! He copied a song on Napster! He broke The Law!"

    But then again, we've always know this to be true. We all know The Golden Rule - He (and it is invariably a He) who has the Gold, makes The Rules.
  • Backstabing goes on all the time in the Opensource world. It happens when you download a set of Debian floppy disk and install it without making a donation to Debian. It happens when you buy magazines like Maximum Linux install those distro's that ship with the magazines, without buying the boxed set. It happens when you turn your nose up at the thought of even buying a boxed distro because it's too much when you can download what you want for free.Thats ok though, because people fuck with people all the time,but correct me if I'm wrong but I thought the Opensource movement was supposed to be based on the idea of a "gift" culture. You know, I give you something and then you give something back? All i see are a bunch of kids complaining about the high cost of software and turning to Linux as a solution. I wonder if the Opensource Movement would be as strong as it is today if Microsoft desided to drasticly lower thier prices,I'd say $25 bucks for windows 2000 would be a real deal,M$ wouldn't lose anything by it, maybe they could have a special promotion, give us your Linux floppies and burned in cd's and we'll give you a free copy of any particular windows distro you want. Sure the commercial software world is dog eat dog tough, but it works. If the Opensource method of development ever fails it will be because it's users don't contribute enough or support the coders of it's projects and ultimatly developers give up on Opensource because they have to eat!
  • I keep waiting for the day Bill Gates gets kidnapped and replaced by an open-source advocating look-alike so we can make M$ Flight Sim opensource and multi-platform. That's the only M$ program I can remember ever being impressed with. When they bought that one they made a good choice. :)
  • Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.

    It's a rule that has been around for OVER 2,000 years, and it holds even more true today.

    [much pointless ramble on how much I agree deleted]
  • Suck. I love the name. It's interesting (and unoriginal?) that Business Week [businessweek.com] did a story [businessweek.com] about this topic on July 17, 2000.

    --

  • by rkent ( 73434 ) <rkent.post@harvard@edu> on Friday August 11, 2000 @07:03AM (#862312)
    ask slashdot? Nah. How about a poll? Then we could b*tch to our hearts' content about our favorite product not being an option. Plus, no mailbombs; no one takes polls seriously.
  • by Omniscient Ferret ( 4208 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @07:48AM (#862315)
    That link to the front page of Suck will point at a new article tomorrow. If you want to see the article Hemos is talking about later, check out the Suck for 11 August 2000 [suck.com].
  • by jabber ( 13196 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @07:11AM (#862322) Homepage
    Yes, the Suck piece was a parody, but every parody - by being a parody - brings attention to some aspect of reality. In every myth there is a kernel of truth.

    Portraying Bill Clinton as a chubby, child-molesting hill-billy red-neck is a parody; but it focuses and exaggerates some aspect of the subject.

    A truly successful parody is one which does not require excessive suspension of disbelief. Like a good Troll, it starts out totally plausible, and gets deeper and deeper - and you fall for it, hook, line and sinker. Only later, do you realize that it is in fact making drastic fun of something more subtle. That realization then makes you consider the subject being parodied - it forces you to think about an issue that you would normally overlook, or dismiss.

    This is why a good parodical troll gets marked as informative, insightful, eventually funny and ultimately overrated and flamebait, without once earning the deserved Troll. :)

    Everyone (almost) realized that the Suck piece was a parody - after all, it's on Suck! Duh! (Doing otherwise is like taking The Onion seriously. If they put big "blink" tag disclaimers on the article, saying "THIS IS A JOKE!", it would have ruined the joke, right?) The subsequent discussions and outbursts are centered on the issue the piece presented; the theme and not the plot, if you will; while continuing the plot. Give /.'ers a little credit, would'ya? We're not all idiots.

    Maybe you're the one who "didn't get it"?
  • by Rocketboy ( 32971 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @07:56AM (#862323)
    So THAT's what you have to do to be successful in the software business! Geeze... I've spent the last 20 years writing software. *sigh* Well, at least that explains why you guys have all the cool geek chics while all I've got is a clapped out Ford Escort - and that's borrowed! :)
  • The free software community has a lot of competition, holy wars, and other such nonsense. The best example, I think, to apply to this would be KDE and Gnome. Both are quality projects (no, I won't start a flame war here :), and both have similar goals.

    There are a lot of community holy wars between the two, but I think what makes the free software community different from most commercial software interests, is that there is acctually intelligence here, because the projects are being managed by the people that understand them, not by the guy the company hired in marketing that just happens to have taken one class in high school in pascal which makes him smarter than you.

    Of course, its possible I'm totally off base considering the caffiene content of my blood right now :)
  • The software *Industry* is just that, an industry. What makes us think they'd be anymore fair and just than any other industry out there? Hell, almost every software company I can think of should have union the working conditions are so wretched. Check out the good dossier on Old Tricks in The New Economy [disinfo.com] for what really happens. Maybe this will knock some sense into all the teens out there reading /., thinking that a life of luxury and leisure awaits them as office drones...

    You are more than the sum of what you consume.
  • by Spudley ( 171066 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @06:09AM (#862328) Homepage Journal
    Everyone has their own agenda. Some people cheer for Windows, others rally for Linux. Some people take their causes further than others, and people with vested interests tend to take their causes the furthest.
    Business in general tends to take the view of "do whatever you can get away with". Industrial espionage is not new. It may be to the computer industry, but that's only because the computer industry itself is fairly new, and with relatively few big players.
  • You're fundamentally misunderstanding what a "gift culture" is. A gift culture is not one in which I am obligated to reciprocate any gift you give me -- that's an exchange culture. A gift culture (at least as Homesteading the Noosphere [tuxedo.org] defines it) is one in which social status is determined by what you give away.

    Your post indicates a misunderstanding of Open Source, as well. The cool thing about it is not its commerical potential -- it's the community which springs up to support and improve it. Because of this, the only way to truely "backstab" the Open Source world would be to refuse to participate in it to the extent your skills allow you to.

    There are also plenty of examples of Open Source authors who have no trouble providing for themselves and their families. Software needs to be written whether it is bought or not, and there will (hopefully) always be people who will pay to have it written.

  • by wishus ( 174405 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @06:12AM (#862332) Journal
    A determined corporation with a little ingenuity can do anything it wants. It spends a little money on its Human Relations and the employees think it's the greatest place in the world to work. You spend a little money on Public Relations, and the general public forgives your sins. You spend a little money on lobbying and the government plays into your hands. If some young hotshot from the government ever decides to oppose you, you spend a little money on lawyers to keep him occupied while you continue on with what you do.

    corporations can buy ethics with money - that is to say, with enough money, distributed in the right places, only the thinking minority will ever think a company unethical.

    wish
    ---
  • Actually, if they are legally people, it's not at all unreasonable to expect them to live up to the same expectations. People who behave like corporations do are socially unacceptable, even sociopathic, and are shunned or locked up for their inability to understand moral or ethical concepts. Since corporations are given the privilege of being legally counted as people, there is every reason to expect them to suffer the same constraints.

    Now, whether you can _make_ them understand this is another matter. Perhaps it is simply impossible to teach corporations morals and ethics. In that case, I'd consider it evidence that perhaps they should _not_ be treated as people under the law...

  • by spankfish ( 167192 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @07:17AM (#862338) Homepage
    This particular frame [suck.com] of the satire I found to be damn funny.

    On another note, it was mentioned previously that the cyberpunk culture has been anticipating in dread a world controlled by ultramegacorporations. A world in which individuals supposedly feel powerless against these behemoths. A world in which governments (and hence military, police and intelligence forces) apparently are merely pawns to be pushed around by these corporate beasts. A world in which the all-important Market, a million-headed Hydra consuming everything in its path, cannot be killed unless every head is squashed simultaneously. A world of exploitation of millions of people for no other reason than they don't have as much of this imaginary money as their exploiters. A world of behaviour modification, excessive social repression, isolation, and bizzarre psychological disorders. A world that does not value the unique characteristics of individual people.

    Since the end of World War I we have been treading the path toward this world, sometimes with joy, sometimes with the horrible knowledge that we are going to fsck everything up (depending on what mood is more "newsworthy"). When the US president after World War II declared that "the purpose of the American economy is to produce more consumer goods", this set the precedent for the rest of the century.

    The twentieth century was strange, as centuries go. Consider the impact of technology here: the automobile, the television, the myriad of household labor saving devices and subsequent proliferation of divertainment devices. All this time freed up so that Consumer Dogma may be absorbed from the various media.

    Of course, the dogma doesn't have to be direct. Most of the time, watching the vast majority of TV shows, it is an assumed fundamental axoim on which TV-Reality is based. Thou shalt consume and shut the fsck up.

    You might beleive that something is fundamentally wrong with the way all this is set up, but you don't know who to complain to, and you doubt anyone would listen, because you're possibly young, and what would you know?

    Here's what I think:
    Governments should exert much tighter controls on corporations. 1. Their size should be limited to a market cap of (say) ten billion dollars, for starters. This will not only encourage competition and help prevent monopolies, but create jobs. Adam Smith would be happier with that. 2. Corporations should not be allowed to hold stock in other corporations. A corporation is not a human being and should have not nearly as many right as a human being. 3. Directors and executives should be made personally responsible for the actions of the corporation, including bankruptcy. 4. Corporations should not be allowed to do in foreign countries what is illegal in their home country, to prevent sweatshop slavery and raping of natural resources.

    Corporations will always evolve to survive in changing market conditions (of course, those that don't survive are replaced by a better-adapted competitor). This is why governments should have no fear in tightening the leash on corporations, instead of pandering to them (which sickens me to watch).

    Therefore, everyone who is pissed off about this kind of stuff should be making lots of noise about it. If everyone told the governments of their respective countries, either at the ballot box or in writing or in protest, what's pissing them off, then that would be something acheived becuase whether the action is successful or not, more people will be made aware of the source of the problem.

    --

  • That is the first site I've visited in weeks where I didn't mind waiting for the graphics to download.
  • All we need now are flying cars. Where are my flying cars?
  • It's always been that way. Remember "friend don't let friends drive chevys"? ford VS chevy is pretty damned stupid because no matter who wins some corporation makes out like a bandit. At least with open source it's a bunch of human beings against a soul-less, immortal corporate entity that can crush them like grapes. It's drama and mythology of the best kind. Why do you think david and goliath is such an enduring story? Something in our conscienceness resonates with that story.

    A Dick and a Bush .. You know somebody's gonna get screwed.

  • by MattLesko ( 155081 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @06:13AM (#862352)
    Isn't this exactly what the cyberpunk genre has been predicting for decades? A world run by gigantic corporations, who wield power as ruthlessly and viciously as any faschist government.

    You are more than the sum of what you consume.
  • Well, don't we backstab commericial providers from their lawful income when making free software of same kind?.

    No, that's akin to walking up to a commericial provider, slapping them in the face and challenging them to a dual. No backstabbing involved.

  • does no one on this fscking web board understand humor? suck.com's article is parody (and mockery), not insightful reporting on some important-undercurrent-in-software-with-political- ramifications-that-will-doom-us-all.
  • Hmmm.. suggesting that by making Linux incompatible with doze, it's going to be more widely used - I don't think so.
    What kind of company would put the non-doze compatible webserver on its machines and consequently lose 90% of its business?!?!?
    Copying your enemies strategies won't necessarily enable you to win.

    Da Warez D00d
    WareZ: The ultimate way to defeat M$
  • > Well, don't we backstab commericial providers from their lawful income when making free software of same kind?

    I hope you're not saying that Linux is cutting in on someone's entitlement.

    --
  • "Suck has a great commentary today about the back-handed, back-stabbing nature of the software industry. The for-profit software industry, that is, of course... What kind of light does this sort of business ethic (or lack thereof) shine on the open-source community, and Free vs. free software?

    Suck has a bunch of allegations so weak even it doesn't try to justify them. Come on, Suck's article said exactly nothing. It claims some industry executives do bad things. It doesn't cite a single example, beyond Ellison's famed dumpster-diving. And interestingly, that was nothing to do with software development, it was related to the Microsoft anti-trust matter. Its not like Ellison was actually stealing source code...

    To be fair to Suck, their piece was humor. Its a shame to see Slashdot report this like everything they said was well-grounded factual reporting. Even Suck didn't pretend that.

    Of course, I've worked in the industry long enough to know that unsavory things happen. Good and noble things also happen. Most of the time what goes on is just plain hard work, neither particularly good nor particularly bad. Welcome to the world of human beings, where people sometimes do good things and sometimes do bad things.

  • What exactly is the point of this story? That software companies should hug each other and sing teletubby songs while playing happy games?

    Of course companies are going to stab each other and fight it out. It's called capitalism.

    In any case, I don't see any relevance to free software or open source, which basically seems the obligatory tag-on to get the story published on /., which succeeded.

    As for back handed back stabbing, here's a newsflash - so long as it's legal, anything goes. That's how it's always been. Welcome to the real world.

    And the cartoons weren't funny either.

    w/m

  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @03:14PM (#862361) Homepage Journal
    Funny how, just recently, another Slashdotter (in a Katz thread) supplied a link to an article in The Atlantic Monthly on how corporations were buying up academia and censoring research that didn't say happy shiny things about new cancer drugs and the like.

    This of course is troubling, since it is the blatant suppression of risk information to the public, but the article and related articles also touched on how, in the new corporately-directed academia, subjects like English, Classics, and yes... Ethics are completely falling by the wayside. Nowhere is this easier to see than in the words of some Slashdot geek posters- technically brilliant, yet ethically illiterate.

    In some cases, it's sarcasm- it's hard to tell whether jabber is being intentionally outrageous as a joke, or to provoke a response. In other cases, it's no joke, and the people honestly know no better.

    It's very much like the moral/ethical equivalent of a VB programmer (better yet, an HTML 'programmer' doing entirely MSHTML) insisting that there is nothing beyond that level- that what programming _IS_, is clicking buttons and operating 'wizards', and anyone claiming differently are full of themselves.

    When viewed in this context, it's easy to see the error- to Slashdot readers like kernel hackers and security gurus and John Carmack, it's obvious that programming does not stop with the operating of Code Wizards, does not stop with Frontpage and HTML. It's glaringly self-evident that there's more to it than that.

    To someone who's read a lot of classics, who's _studied_ ethics and morality with a certain amount of academic rigor (such as you don't get from school these days), the claims of slashdottenlibertarians are equally astonishing, and it's just as self-evident that such claims are not simply wrong, but even Considered Harmful (tm). Morals, ethics are _arranged_, they do not simply arise from the interactions of utterly self-interested individuals. They have a societal value that is more powerful than their individual value. Read some real philosophy- Confucius' "The Analects" on ethics, Plato's works involving Socrates for a taste of just how easily your beliefs can be tied in knots when you haven't thought them through, Thoreau for a taste of what it is like to not worship self-interest as a god, for what it's like to seek more than that out of life.

    The bottom line is that the ruthless pragmatist approach, personified by the corporate 'persons' that surround us, is only one approach, and it is a destructive approach, with no future in it. Survival dictates that those of us who can, _must_ attempt to fall back on ways of thinking which have better societal survival value. This is very well demonstrated by the free software movement- which very directly places societal wellbeing ahead of the rights of individuals to profit from and withhold their works- and in so doing, tangibly gives all those 'oppressed' individuals access to far more than they could ever generate on their own.

    That's the way society has always worked, folks. The future didn't belong to the first guy who made an axe, killed everyone else in his village who made axes, and became the lead hunter. The future went to the villages where everybody was cooperating in making axes, where the social expectations were that people would till the fields, would take care of things that needed doing even if it didn't benefit the individual all that much. Cooperation is a survival trait- a SOCIAL survival trait.

    The people who are espousing the 'morality' of the gunpoint, of the 'I win, that is what morality is', are doomed- because yes Virginia, there is a reality, and your decision to place your own profit ahead of any other consideration does not affect this reality one iota, nor protect you from the consequences that you wish to simply ignore. And when the bill comes due, you can rant all you want about how _immoral_ it is for anyone to limit you or restrain you the slightest bit- you can rave about how unfair it is, don't people understand that you WON?

    But society must survive- and if you place your interests ahead of society's, you'd just better hope that you don't end up getting in the way, or your protests will be ignored as you get steamrollered- because morality and ethics do NOT boil down to 'he who wins, wins'. Nobody is so completely immune from the requirements of interacting with society as that...

  • I think they bought that technology from Norton utilities. At least at one point the two looked almost identical. With the latest NT-based windows they just rely on DiskKeeper (they bought the it to put in the Windows 2000 defrag).
  • Try it in a small town and see how well you get along with people when you're inevitably 'outed'. The difference is, _individuals_ attempting to put up a front behind which they can commit horrors end up, not simply in jail or prison, but in solitary confinement in prison for their own protection. Did you know there are classes of criminals that must be protected in prison or they won't live to trial because OTHER CRIMINALS find their acts too repugnant?

    The fact is, there's no 'veneer of respectability' durable enough to forever protect against exposure of the horrors beneath. With individuals, this leads to prisons and sometimes to the murder of an offender by other prisoners- for instance, the murder of a cannibal or child molester or some other offense considered so intolerable that the offender needs to be just immediately killed, hell with the courts.

    With corporations, this situation cannot occur- even in a case of a Nestle attempting to extort money from mothers by threatening them with the starvation of their infants, or a Monsanto trying to hijack the agricultural production of entire third world countries and replacing self-sustaining crops with sterile genetically engineered poison-emitting crops, people still forget about these things, and there isn't a social context of corporations that would punish such acts, and governments generally find it difficult to do so.

    Simple disseminating of information really isn't enough- it just establishes a public expectation that the world is horrible and cynical and destroys everything- there's little reason to work for a better situation there. What would be more effective is establishing situations that _are_ genuinely ethical and fair- in particular, situations that are socially cooperative and constructive such as the Free Software Movement- to contrast with the many situations that are plainly destructive and unethical.

  • Why anyone is mentioning my favorites?

    Gorilla.bas and nibbles.bas!

    They were a fun and great experience.

    And they definetely were Open Source.

    Fh

  • by Pengo ( 28814 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @06:16AM (#862375) Journal

    Isn't every debate w/Linux a mini holy war of it's own? I can't count how many snide remarks I have heard about BSD/Linux camp .. Gnome/KDE .. VFS/ReiserFS.. GPL/BSD .. etc. etc. etc.

    I would venture to say that because people put their hearts into the projects .. in a profound sense.. are very vindictive against anything else.

    For example, what would you say if there was a 'Ask Slashdot' about which is your favorite Microsoft Product?.. Rob would get a mail-bomb if that went through..

    anyways.... I have never seen a more emotional holy-war driven passionate band of cowboys in my life. I hope it doesn't ever change! :)


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  • by deefer ( 82630 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @06:17AM (#862376) Homepage
    I think that this is the reason why OSS has such a big takeup by the techies.
    Because we can work on stuff without the whole time-to-market panic. I have been forced to release shit code I have written, and as someone whole takes a good deal of pride in the job, that was _hard_.
    Compare and contrast that to OSS; it gets released when it's ready, and then undergoes a lengthy period of peer review - any mistakes I've made get fixed before it is deemed "good".
    And I think if OSS started playing dirty tricks, it would lose it's appeal to the tech community.
    You don't feel like a dirty corporate whore writing OSS stuff.

    Strong data typing is for those with weak minds.

I've looked at the listing, and it's right! -- Joel Halpern

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