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Slashback: Franklin, Head-Mounting, Timing 202

Slashback tonight with more on clockless computing; Benjamin Franklin on patents (!); and early notice to evacuate Zurich in advance of the ISWC Borg. (Read more below.)

I've broken two Timexes this month, this is just old hat now. Pete Brubaker writes: "A few days ago this story was posted to /. pointing to a NYTimes article about Sun's new asynchronous processor. The article, though informative, lacked detail. EE Times comes through and discusses this technology in quite a bit more detail."

If it won't fit in your overhead bin, it probably isn't wearable. If you were intrigued by the wearable computers mentioned in October, you can thankjoeboy4h for pointing out that "the 5th International Symposium on Wearable Computers will be in Zurich this October. Aside from being an excellent academic conference this is also the ultimate hack fest; lots of cool people all interested in hacking both hardware and software, most wearing their wearables, and some really incredible presentations. The call for papers is out now; it would be an excellent place for slashdoters to strut their stuff."

I hope they can webcast a stroll in the Alps with a well-outfitted wearables party ... now that would be a Linuxbierwanderung.

But for the record, would you say you're a "real American," Mr. Franklin? Ovidius writes "Need a historical precedent to argue in favor of open source and against the rash of insane technology patents? Tell people how Ben Franklin valued innovation over profits--in 1742 he not only published the details of his newly conceived Franklin Stove, but refused a patent on it on the principle that "as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously."

Even when a London entrepreneur took out a patent on a poorly modified version of his stove, Franklin still did not pursue the matter, though maybe he would have if he had known where the use of patents in business would be headed 250 or so years later. The account is from chapter 10 of his Autobiography (which is available at the esteemed Project Gutenberg) :

In order of time, I should have mentioned before, that having, in 1742, invented an open stove for the better warming of rooms, and at the same time saving fuel, as the fresh air admitted was warmed in entering, I made a present of the model to Mr. Robert Grace, one of my early friends, who, having an iron-furnace, found the casting of the plates for these stoves a profitable thing, as they were growing in demand.
To promote that demand, I wrote and published a pamphlet, entitled "An Account of the new-invented Pennsylvania Fireplaces; wherein their Construction and Manner of Operation is particularly explained; their Advantages above every other Method of warming Rooms demonstrated; and all Objections that have been raised against the Use of them answered and obviated," etc.
This pamphlet had a good effect. Gov'r. Thomas was so pleas'd with the construction of this stove, as described in it, that he offered to give me a patent for the sole vending of them for a term of years; but I declin'd it from a principle which has ever weighed with me on such occasions, viz., That, as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.
An ironmonger in London however, assuming a good deal of my pamphlet, and working it up into his own, and making some small changes in the machine, which rather hurt its operation, got a patent for it there, and made, as I was told, a little fortune by it. And this is not the only instance of patents taken out for my inventions by others, tho' not always with the same success, which I never contested, as having no desire of profiting by patents myself, and hating disputes. The use of these fireplaces in very many houses, both of this and the neighbouring colonies, has been, and is, a great saving of wood to the inhabitants.

So who is more American, Ben Franklin or Bill Gates?"

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Slashback: Winnings

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Clockless computing... im falling behind already. I thought it was getting in-depth when they brought out the atom sized transistor or the plastic semi-conductor. The next on the list is ESP Computing(TM), where all components know exactly whats happening all the time. Ill trademark it now just in case!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    He didn't own them in any large scale, but he did printed slave ads in his papers and he apparently did engage in the slave trade himself.

    When he was older, his attitude changed a bit, but he didn't really mind the sale of humans that much. His main complaint was that the use of slaves encourages laziness by the slaveholders, and discourages large families.

    The reason why he never had the chance to be nominated for President is that he was old, and died a few years after the Constitution was ratified, at the age of 90.

    Source: The First American T. W. Brand

    a bio of Franklin that's pretty darn good.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 19, 2001 @03:26PM (#353039)
    I beleive a similar thing happened with Tesla who had pioneered the use of AC (alternating current). Basically he licensed it to Westinghouse. Westinghouse would pay Tesla an amount per person connected to the system.

    At one point Nikola Tesla could have put Westinghouse out of business by insisting they paid him what he was owed. Instead he ripped the contract up with some suitably chosen words to the effect "it is better that the world has AC than I become a rich man"...

    I think he died peniless :-)

  • kphonecenter [] is all this minus the multiple voice mail options (I believe).
    It claims to be based on Rapidcom Voice for Windows.

    While it's no Nautilus plugin, it is a KDE application that is usable now.
    I personally think that's two pluses instead of just one.

  • Oh, c'mon, he _stated_ his motives. You calling him a liar? :)
  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @07:09PM (#353042) Homepage Journal
    First of all, the guy _stated_ his motives and reasons, so this second-guessing is very much applying early-21st-century amorality to a situation that was about as far from it as could be imagined.

    Secondly, it is fascinating to see the way every suggestion of this nature seems to be moderated up to 5. I think this is revealing more about the Slashdot readership's confused but striking agenda than we really need to know... what is it that produces this compelling need to view Ben Franklin in a more cynical, post-20th-century light? Is it so unthinkable to accept his words and concede the guy seemed to consider social benefit a greatly important thing, worth more than personal gain?

    Honestly, it's a little shocking to me. I wouldn't bat an eyelash to see lots of slashdotters mocking Franklin for being a dumbass who'd never amount to anything, but it's very disconcerting to see what appears to be a broadly supported grassroots slashdotter _desire_ to rewrite the motivations of history...

  • Posted by replicataur:

    Since I can't code, but I have a good app idea, I'll toss it out here.

    Linux needs a GUI frontend to control everything that modern voice/fax/modems can do.

    This frontend should allow the user to configure all aspects of the voice/fax/modem from one interface. This means configuring the ability to:

    - Send/Recieve Faxes
    - Dial out/Dial in
    - Configure an Answering machine

    And if made properly modular, this program could become a boom. Imagine the capabilities of this frontend if when you configured your answering machine, it could do the following:

    - multiple voice-mail boxes
    - send you an email/page noting the time of the call and any Caller ID information
    - encode the message using either mp3 or ogg format (low mono bitrate - perfect for this) and email the message

    The more modular this program is made, the more flexible this could be, allowing other implementations to be included.

    For all the focus on the whiz-bang of video and audio, Linux is severely lacking in easy control of thhe modern voice/fax/modem in a GUI environment.

    Any other ideas to flesh this out?
    Microsoft and McDonalds are alike. They don't make the best, but they make the most.
  • Posted by Mybrid:

    Hi! One particular other notable relevant to Slashdot was that he ran a profitable paper without publishing sensational/tabloid articles. He got slammed quite about for censorship and denying freedom of speech when he refused to publish paid for sensational advertisements. This is something 200 years later where Newspapers say one can't run a profitable newspaper without the draw of the OJ Simpson headlines? I like Slashdot because its not about generating a bottom line but about publishing relevant material. In my opinion I think Franklin would appreciate for its open source as well. Nobody is hiding behind a veneer of authoritative respectability that more, eh hem, established media outlets try to assume. Cheers! -Mybrid
  • Posted by Russell-White:

    If I am not mistaken, Tesla's last breath was spent on giving the bellboy at the hotel $500 and telling him to give it to Mark Twain, his long dead friend (30yrs dead), who borrowed money from him a lot to fund his investments.Tesla has been portrayed as a bad business man.The Westinghouse deal tends to support the oppisite when looked at in more detail.The deal he got in this first place was huge ($2.50 for each kilowatt of AC electricity sold, my current bill ,if I'm reading it correctly, says $0.0092000 per KWH)! The cost to Westinghouse was very high and that was just paying off Tesla, not mention operating costs or room for much of a profit margin. This would have have made several things likely to happen.One, electrity would only be availible to the very rich (like it already was)and would mean a very small market place with smaller amounts of rotalties paid to Tesla. It also meant Tesla would spend the rest of his life selling AC (which he had already been doing for most of it) to keep the company from going under.When the royalties owed to Tesla started to exceed $1 million, Westinghouse ran into financial trouble. Tesla realized that if his contract remained in effect, Westinghouse would be out of business and he had no desire to deal with the creditors. His dream was to have cheap AC electric available to all people. Tesla once said this of George Westinghouse ``George Westinghouse was, in my opinion, the only man on this globe who could take my alternating-current system under the circumstances then existing and win the battle against prejudice and money power. He was a pioneer of imposing stature, one of the world's true nobleman of whom America may well be proud and to whom humanity owes an immense debt of gratitude.'' Tesla ripped up the contract and sold his patents, leaving Westinghouse holding all the assets, as well as all the debt.This pretty much says it all. This guy had a hand in almost everything we call technology today (radio,X-rays,vacuum tube amplifier,fluorescent bulb,neon lights,speedometer,the automobile ignition system,the basics behind radar,electron microscope,microwave ovens) and claimed he could crack the Earth in half if he wasn't careful. Where would you be without him? He raised the quality of life for most of the world in his own lifetime and beyond!He didn't need money, he needed people to listen to his ideas.What he could do was way better than anything he could buy.Thankfully, He wasn't in it for the money.Without him very few people would even have a chance to be in it for the money.They'd be in it for the food,shelter,and ocassional hot shower.
  • Uh, what in the world do you mean by that? *we* got what we claimed we were at war over--an end to impressment of American sailors by the Royal Navy. The northern border was also drawn in a way so that it could be found. . .

    The *only* sense in that the war can be seen as a british victory is in that they managed to negotiate the Treaty of Paris a week or two before their last military force was demolished, avoiding the cession of Canada . . . (which is what we *wanted* from the war, in addition to our declared purpose--or were our troops that went that way just lost ? :)

    I'll leave the other errors about Franklin to othe posters, save that as a 10th child, he was hardly part of the landed gentry, and instead made his own fortune.


  • by nerdin ( 1330 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @04:18PM (#353047)
    Have you Americans ever been aware that if Franklin, Jefferson or any other of your founding fathers were alive today, they would be under continuous surveilance from NSA, FBI and who knows who else? And worst: for a good reason.

    Those guys were, you guess it, revolutionaires. With clear ideas about freedom, call it freedom of speech, to innovate or from tyrans.

    Do you imagine George Washington being lobbied by RIAA, Microsoft or any other company? Can you imagine his response to those guys?

    Do you imagine Jackson taking bribes^H^H^H^H^H^H donations from interest groups?

    Wake up!
    If they were alive, they'd die again of sadness, just looking what America is now.
  • by jafac ( 1449 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @03:54PM (#353048) Homepage
    Franklin wrote that the reason why he didn't want to patent the idea was to encourage demand for the iron parts his buddy was making.

    We have a different situation here in the 21st century; manufacturing is no longer profitable, competition cuts margins, unless you have a monopoly. It's information that's in demand - and the patent system as it stands today, gives companies a monopoly on the information. RAM manufacturers are fucked as it is, competing for razon thin margins. Then RAMBUS comes along, and decides to strap on the extra LARGE toy. . . What's more valuable? A $3 billion fab? or a patent on SDRAM?
  • Maybe you could post it to [], but then 10 people would rip it apart for being too short, and if you left that last line on, a couple of people would rip you apart for asking them to do your research for them, maybe a couple of people could rip you apart for seeing your idea as an attempt to tell them what they should want on Linux, one or two could rip you apart for being a mindless Linux cheerleader, some could point out the extra "h" in one of your "the"s, someone could rip it apart for the "voice/fax/modems" bit, and of course one or two people could have possibly seen your comment here, and flame you because kuro5hin is "not Slashdot".

  • Well, you could always post a summary to kuro5hin [], but of course 5 people would shoot it down for being negative about Open Source companies, two for it being a possible troll, and the rest out of some odd, xenophobic fear, a paranoid need for kuro5hin to be Not Slashdot [] (which, btw, is held by Sig11 himself.)
  • (you ain't lived til you tried some real New York Pizza)

    And after that, when you're ready for some real food you can come to Chicago.(heh, heh)

  • Trust me, if you've seen Bangor, Maine, and anywhere outside the US (except canada), anything in the US is going to look nine times more like Bangor than that anywhere.

    In a word, "duh." Name any nation where the local culture varies more than between, say, the fishing towns of Maine and the plantation towns of Mississippi. Nuernberg looked a lot like Muenich to me, which looked a lot like Schwangau, but you don't hear me making sweeping statements about the homogeneity of German culture. I just figure that I probably missed something, because it was all so different to me. I do know that growing up in Arkansas was different from living in Chicago -- much more different than these German cities seemed during my brief visit there.

  • preferably one which doesn't require winelib dll hacks, since dad doesn't want to know about that sort of thing.

    Yeah, it sucks when my dad has to hex edit a binary dll. The DivX player should also not be written in C/C++ either, since my mom doesn't know how to use a compiler.
  • Franklin may have printed slave ads in his papers (I have not read that, but it could be true -- despite his idealism he certainly managed to make quite a lot of money in his life), but he most certainly did not own slaves. Even if you claim his attitude towards slavery changed over the years, Franklin was a Yankee businessman not a Southern planter -- what exactly would he do with slaves, which were in any case illegal in many places where he lived? Any concrete citations on this?

    Also, the idea that slaves encourages laziness is an old *Puritan* idea, not likely to be held by a deist like Ben.

    BTW, Franklin died at the age of 84, not 90. However, he was about 20-30 years older than the rest of the founding fathers, so you do have a point there.
  • by Jonathan ( 5011 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @03:28PM (#353055) Homepage
    The vast majority of his ideas can be put down to him being a memeber of the landed gentry in america, with considerable assets (many slaves) and the time and ability to be scholarly.

    I think you are confusing Franklin with Thomas Jefferson. Franklin never owned any slaves, and in fact was the president of the Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery. It is widely believed that this cost him the chance to ever be nominated for the President of the United States as it of course made him extremely unpopular in the South
  • Or else they wouldn't be right.


  • You're a tactless prick, go piss off.
  • Try again. The longest lasting republic is San Marino, a tiny landlocked country entirely surrounded by Italy, which has been chugging along happily since the 4th century AD.

    Whatever it is, America only does more of it, never first or best.


  • I believe the reason is that Americans have no reason to depend on other countries in the world (unlike even the first world countries, much less the third world). American politics does not depend as much on, say, the Middle East as the Middle East does on America.

    I think people lining up for gas in the 70s would have thought something different. OPEC ring any bells? I don't recall reading in the news anywhere that the US has totally lost its dependence on Middle East oil. Now, however, the US has a proven track record in "mess with our oil and we'll mess with you". (Personally, I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing - economic warfare is still warfare, IMO, and should be treated as such. Reply with the weapons you have, not with the weapons the enemy wishes you to use.) This is getting OT, but...
    I find a lot of people like to bash yanks just cos you all are an easy target, particularly Commonwealth-types. It's accepted in our culture to bash an American because of his or her birthplace. (Any baseball fans remember a few years ago when the Phillies were playing the Jays and a Philadelphia radio announcer said something about Rita MacNeil that a lot of Canadians also say, ie, made a reference to her size? Wow.)

    Um, welcome to the world we live in, I guess...

    Welcome to the global village, where it doesn't matter if you like to have sexual relations with sheep, but $DEITY help you if you're an outnumbered American.
  • Actually it was October 1945, in Wireless World, a trade publication. Facsimile copy of the original article here s.html
  • Hey! Stop all that Bangor! I sleeping here!

  • by PD ( 9577 )
    He must have thought the line went "keeps on plucking".

  • by Phexro ( 9814 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @03:06PM (#353063)
    how about an easy-for-dad divx player first? preferably one which doesn't require winelib dll hacks, since dad doesn't want to know about that sort of thing.
  • by VValdo ( 10446 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @08:27PM (#353064)
    From an online biography on Jonas Salk []:

    "Salk saw an opportunity to develop a vaccine against polio, and devoted himself to this work for the next eight years....When news of the discovery was made public on April 12, 1955, Salk was hailed as a miracle worker. He further endeared himself to the public by refusing to patent the vaccine. He had no desire to profit personally from the discovery, but merely wished to see the vaccine disseminated as widely as possible. "

    How many thousands of lives were saved as a result of this decision?


  • "Shinier shells and musical horns, but it's still propulsion via exploding dead reptiles." -- AC, on Slashdot

    Wish I'd been in on that discussion. Petroleum doesn't come from dinosaurs. It comes from decayed algae and one-celled organisms.

  • E - CowboyNeal smells


  • "I mean yeah, I fell into my rock tumbler once and ruined my Timex and my glasses, but don't tell me you did it twice in one month!!!

    Are you a mouse?

    Falling into a rock tumbler?

  • I thought they already had one:
    1. It's only free if you do exactly as we say

  • Actually, in his farewell speech after his second term as President, it was Washington who urged a policy of isolationism, IIRC.

  • Incentive? You a republican? Things will be invented and created, wether or not there is some sort of incentive. I think being alive in itself is an incentive. That little dribble in the constitution is just big money speaking (and no, big money hasnt changed much since the late 1700s, its just managed to come up with new ways that hurt We The People).

  • Only in 1942 did America's foriegn policy at last become outward directed, but unfortunately its culture is still very inward looking.

    Actually, that's not entirely true. The U.S. was heavily involved in World War I, in the early part of the 20th century. After WWI, there was a big movement to once again turn a blind eye to the world and again look inward...this was heavily motivated by the Great Depression.

    You have to realize that the U.S.A. is a relatively young country...still only a little over 200 years old, so prior to the 20th Century, it was a necessary thing to concentrate inward because as a nation our government, our economic system, and our infrastructure were still developing. It wasn't until industrialization hit in th 20th Century that it became necessary to pay attention to what was going on in the rest of the world. Ben Franklin (to keep this on topic :-) was waaaayy ahead of his time, and that is one of the main reasons his legacy is so revered in this country.

    As far as American culture goes: as my friend from India would ask, WHAT American culture? :-)

  • > Do you imagine Jackson taking bribes^H^H^H^H^H^H donations from interest groups?

    Maybe from the NRA...

  • I guess learning about American History is important, but you also must learn more about current America itself. If you believe that what you see in Bangor, Maine is a complete representation of American culture, then I'm sorry but you don't have the whole picture.

    I don't want to sound defesinve, but you should take ride down to NYC or maybe further south to where I live, Miami. You would see that America culture is more outward looking and global than you think.

  • Do we have a precedent here....OpenStove? Gotta name a buch of code after this..
  • You mean, like the PDP6? :-)
  • Bangor is no milestone by which to judge America, not by any means. Part of the beauty of America's melting pot is that wherever you go in America, the people are as different as the scenery. Here in Texas, where it's just as hot as Maine is dreary, the nightlife and culture is as thick as the humidity. Over in Miami, it's another scene altogether, with fiery Cuban clubs being a real night out. And over in LA, the Asian scene is amazing.

    In Bangor, frankly, it's a bunch of white retirees. You're looking at the original immigrants there, and they haven't gotten any livelier in the last two hundred years.
  • Yeah, well, Franklin is also credited with saying that "A penny saved is a penny earned," and it isn't like companies have been paying attention to that one either. Somehow I doubt the fact that one of the founding fathers liked Open Source is going to jump-start any patent debates. My boss is more likely to say, "Well, the guy also flew kites during thunderstorms."
  • Ok, I just gotta comment on the whole "Maine is a backwater" comment series. I was born in Maine and have spent most of my life here.

    Sure, when I was growing up, I desperately wanted to leave the state as soon as possible, as there were _no_ good jobs for technically minded bright people to be had. This has changed a lot in the last 10 years.

    Portland, Maine is becoming a bit of a technology center, with many software companies and web designers, a semiconductor fab facility, and telecomm carriers running fiber rings around the city. As a state, Maine was one of the first to mandate high speed Internet access for all schools and libraries, starting in 1995. Most high schools in the state are now busy installing ATM DS3s for video conferencing and data, thanks to a bond issue passed a few years ago. And our progressive Governor King is trying to setup a program to kick-start wireless networking and thin-client computing in education by giving every 7th grader a "web pad" kind of device.

    Technology jobs are still not plentiful, and the salaries are certainly 20-60% less than what you can make in a major metro area. But so are some of the expenses (you can rent an entire 3 bedroom house on several acres of land for less than $600/month)

    Bangor was recently rated as #1 in the Places Rated Almanac for towns under 100,000 people, and is recognized as one of the top 20 places in the US to raise a family. With the University of Maine's flagship campus in nearby Orono (around 10,000 students), there are more cultural opporunties than you would expect for a town of its size.

    No, it doesn't offer anything like the cultural experiences of Boston, New York City, or LA. But it also lacks a lot of the negatives of those places, too. Violent crime is rare enough here that it is big news when it happens at all, and you don't have to worry about your car getting stolen, even if you leave the keys in it and the engine running while you duck into the corner store on the way home.

    There is the issue of the winter season being too frigging cold most of the time, and getting a lot of snow. But the skiing and snow mobiling is really good, if you are into that sort of thing (I'm not).

    As another person commented, come up here during July or August and spend a week along the coast or hiking the AT. You'll change your mind.
  • "If that's the only thing in your life that raises your ire then life can't be that damn bad"

    When your job requires that you spend a minimum of 8 hours a day for years on end constantly using some crappy software, then it sure as hell is "that bad". If I only did some e-mail and web browsing every day and maybe a bit of word processing now and again, I'm sure I wouldn't be nearly as bothered by how crap MS sofware is. But when you have to do full-time software development on Windows 98 it can make literally turn what *could* be a relatively fun job into a miserable hell. If you don't know what protected mode is or what the Win16Mutex is, then don't even bother trying to argue back, because you obviously don't know enough to make an informed argument about it.

    BTW, you appear to imply that people may not complain about something unless it is at least as bad as a tumor or being blind/deaf/dumb. This is probably the most ridiculous viewpoint I've heard in a long time. As ridiculous as the argument made on some /. threads some time ago that you may only complain about bad teachers if you yourself are a good teacher.

  • The main factor preventing headsets from becoming mainstream is probably that those tiny screen cost a LOT. So do the lenses required to get a decent Field of View (which also make the things fairly heavy). The trackers (to track movement of the head) are also very expensive. The weight of the helmets usually make it quite tiring for people to wear the stuff for more than a couple of hours also.

    The argument that they make people "throw up" used to have more validity, but not so much now. What makes people seasick is usually the latency, i.e. the delay between moving your head and seeing the results. To eliminate this, you need two things, fast frame rate (at least 30, preferably 60), and a low-latency tracker. Fast frame rates have only become possible recently with mainstream 3d cards like the GeForce series, so this has become less of a problem. But trackers are still a problem - even the relatively cheaper ones (e.g. in the $1000 range) still have relatively high latency. -

  • Strange, I was talking about Win9X. I didn't say a thing about Linux. You then posted a long rant about Linux. Where did Linux come into it? I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you mistakenly replied to the incorrect post.

    Despite my personal feelings about your obviously abrasive personality, I do happen to agree with some of your very valid points, e.g. the "50 half-assed graphical user environments", and various other usability and, uh, 'complexity' issues that Linux developers should probably address. Seriously, I can find my way around Linux no problem simply because I've been playing around with it for over 5 years now, but I feel sorry for anybody who wants to try learn it from scratch.

    Visual C++ on Win2K is my development environment "of choice" (i.e. the one I enjoy working in the most). Win98 has severe stability issues (see my abovementioned points regarding protected mode and Win16Mutex), and Linux doesn't have Visual C++ (or anything that even comes close, not even kdevelop). Win2K (with Visual C++) has, for my purposes, the strong points of both. It seems you just made a whole bunch of incorrect assumptions about me when you replied to my post.

    1. If programmers deserve to be rewarded for creating innovative programs, by the same token they deserve to be punished if they restrict the use of these programs.
    (quoted from the GNU manifesto, as are the following quotes)

    Or perhaps:

    1. The desire to be rewarded for one's creativity does not justify depriving the world in general of all or part of that creativity.
    IOW, withholding some benefit you could give is stealing. You owe the world everything you can make, and whether you are rewarded isn't relevant.
    1. Low-paying organizations do poorly in competition with high-paying ones, but they do not have to do badly if the high-paying ones are banned.
    Go go Stallman! Protect us from those high-paying jobs!

    I'm sure MS believes this is their motto:

    1. you will not like GNU, but that's tough on you.

  • despite his idealism he certainly managed to make quite a lot of money in his life

    Some of his ideals were industry, prudence, and thrift. I'd say his ideals contributed very strongly to his wealth.

    Have you read his parable of the whistle? Or the story of buying his own food as a child?

    His ideals always lead him to seek the greatest profit for the least expense, certainly in matters of money, but also in those of public benefit, knowledge, morality, and happiness.

    He was a great man, and not the sort of vapid egalitarian we are now expected to pretend to be. He certainly believed in gaining profit for humanity by giving all men equal opportunity to better themselves, but not in redistributing the benefits of talent and hard work to those less able and less willing. He gave when he was moved to do so, freely shared his intangible thoughts at little cost to himself, and otherwise kept the fruits of his labor. His wealth is a mark of his ability, and of the benefit he conferred on those with whom he had commerce, not a mark of shame or immorality, as if he had acquired it by trickery or theft.

    I say because of his idealism he managed to make quite a lot of money.
  • by spectecjr ( 31235 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @03:52PM (#353084) Homepage
    My only real annoyance at this article is that they make it out as if Sun invented the goddamn thing.

    Wanna see who did? Go to:
    The Amulet Group [].

    It's an offshoot of the ARM team.

  • Interesting -- where did you get the information on Franklin being a slave holder? He spent his adult life (when he wasn't travelling) in Pennsylvania.

    As for his being part of the idle landed gentry, he came from shrewd, city dwelling, landless petit bourgeousie stock. He was apprenticed as boy to his older brother as a printer. Subsequently he illegally fled his apprenticeship to move to Philadelphia with several years in London where he completed his printing training. On his return to Philadelphia he started his brilliant career in business, which in turn lead to politics.

    I think perhaps in this regard you are confusing Franklin with Thomas Jefferson.

    I don't know if he was "globalist" in his views. He was a person of great distinction in business, science and cultural affairs, self trained in all these disciplines (including languages). It would be only natural for him to feel a greater affinity for his small circle of intellectual peers.

    As far as the cultural diversity of Bangor is concerned, I can only say -- get thee to New York. Or at least Boston. Maine is to New York as the Orkney Islands are to London. Personally, I love Maine for its outdoor life, but if you are lookig for diversity of culture you aren't in the right place.

  • Research the history of bleach - common household bleach.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    No shit.
  • "I am Randroid. Altruism bad. Greed GOOD. Ayn Rand greater author than Joyce & Shakespeare combined. All your economic philosophies are belong to us. Freud was a dink. There is only Ayn. Ayn. Ayn. Ayn."

  • Eli Whitney didn't die penniless by far. He next big invention was something that started the Age of Mass Production: Interchangable Parts. At the time, gunsmiths hand crafted guns. Each gun was unique, and if your gun broke, you'd have to usually go to the gunsmith who made it to fix it.

    Eli Whitney realized that guns were composed of components that could be manufactured as exact duplicates. Assemble the components and you have a finished product. This reduced the time required to repair a broken firearm.

    The idea took off, and Eli Whitney profited greatly. Not because he patented it, but because the firearms produced by this method were superior to the competition.
  • the us is a big country. maine is a backwater..maybe you should try living in a real city instead ? texans for example are quite different from people living in boston or new york... its true that most american cities are becoming pretty much like one another but american "culture" still varies from state to state.
  • Whew! I was afraid he was talking about Chris Rock's 'Tossed Salad Man'... <shudder>

  • <Mayor Quimby Voice>
    Having, ah, spent quite a numbah of years in the, ah, New York City area, and having eating in some of, ah, Chicago's finest restaurants, I can say this: Pizzaria Uno is just as good on, ah, the East Coast as it is in the Midwest.

    of course, I wouldn't qualify Uno as real pizza (being a good New Yawker), but heck, it's good eatin' 8^)
  • Heck, the only background you need for a credit card is to be a college student who either does or doesn't have any other credit cards... not too tough a background to have (yes even community college and junior college work, too).

    The only places I use cash are the exceedingly few places that don't take credit (stupid hair-cutting place) or places where it is advantageous to pay cash (no extra tax at the bar if you pay cash).

    Almost everyone has heard of a $100 bill referred to as a "Franklin" (mostly due to such great cultural innovations as illegal drug use and associated "music" groups), but how many people know who Salmon P. Chase was, or what denomination he is on? (of course, I'll almost definitely never hold any of those, but hey... that's life)
  • The AC might have intended that as a troll, but I gotta agree with him. Why? Franklin was a printer as well ;-)

  • He'd want InDesign on a Mac. TeX is too similar to settying lead or wood type in a chase by hand. ;-)

  • I think that basically, most people are stupid.

    As Tommy Lee Jones said (or, rather, the guy who wrote the script said through Tommy Lee Jones :-)) in Men In Black:
    "A person is smart, people are stupid."

    Or something close to that, I haven't seen the movie in a long time. :-)

    I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells.
  • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @05:49PM (#353097) Homepage
    America isn't a dynasty. It's a democratic republic. That is, it's a government 'for the people, by the people' with a head of state which is generally a president. (Or at least, that's how it is conceptually. Sadly, that's not what it has become, is it?)

    Contrast that to the succession of rulers from one generation to the next of the same family, which is what a dynasty is.

    However, IIRC, America is the longest lasting republic, as it stands now.


  • His views on slavery may be understood better by knowing that he worked as an indentured servant during his youth; this experience no doubt colored his attitudes toward involuntary servitude of any kind.

    Franklin was certainly not born rich: He worked himself up from very little, and is one of the models of the "American Dream."
  • If you'd all stop blabin' about franklin for 5 minutes, you might want to read about the Async work by Sun directly from the source:
    here []. God I hate articles that are written offline and then just cut and pasted online. It should be a rule, unless you have a link in your story, it's not a news item suitable to be linked to on Slashdot.
  • by ostiguy ( 63618 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @03:37PM (#353107)
    How many days until ThinkGeek has a t-shirt with the aforementioned Franklin quote?

    A - 1
    B - 2
    C - 7
    D - .0625

  • I believe the title was "The Exploration of Space". I used to own it, years ago, but it got lost in a move. Highly prescient book.
  • The simple fact is that America rules the world's culture, economics, politics, communications, and education. There are many countries out there that hate this, with good reason. It's the reason America is seen as a great evil among most of the Middle East, instead of "just another powerful country" like England or Germany. America acts like it owns the world, and to a large extent, it does. America might not have complete dictatorial control over each and every country in the world, but even the President doesn't control the American State governments, and so on. So despite the civil unrest all around the world, it is undoubtably America who's calling the shots. When a ruler starts abusing the country's subjects, who settles the dispute? Witness American troops in Bosnia.

    Again... I didn't create the world. This is just the way things are. I wonder how long the American empire will last? No Dynasty has lasted longer than 500 years, to my knowledge. America seems to be in its prime.

  • by Ted V ( 67691 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @03:13PM (#353112) Homepage
    But the cynic says that patents were much more difficult to enforce in those days. Witness the number of patent infringements on the Cotton Gin-- its owner died penniless, despite inventing a machine that made cotton harvesting far, far more efficient. Perhaps Franklin, ever charismatic, realized he would look nobler without a patent, and realized that a patent wouldn't be worth much to him anyway.

  • by Ted V ( 67691 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @03:23PM (#353113) Homepage
    Much of rural America is inward looking, much like rural China/Russia/France/Britain/Wherever. Bangor has perhaps 35,000 people living in it. Sizable for a local culture, but certainly not the million people needed for a true global culture.

    Culture is a reflection of the population. It's only natural that a smaller population is more inward looking-- there are fewer people from other cultures to provide new views on life. If you'd enjoy a more cosmopolitan life, visit Boston or New York.

    That said, I agree that most Americans are "Americentric", even those in larger cities. But that doesn't mean they eschew other cultures. Americans merely claim other cultural phenomenons and absorb them into American Culture.

    I believe the reason is that Americans have no reason to depend on other countries in the world (unlike even the first world countries, much less the third world). American politics does not depend as much on, say, the Middle East as the Middle East does on America.

    Um, welcome to the world we live in, I guess...

  • Yeah, it sucks when my dad has to hex edit a binary dll. The DivX player should also not be written in C/C++ either, since my mom doesn't
    know how to use a compiler.

    This is a troll, but to spell it out: developers aren't end users. The post roystgnr replies to wants his parents to be able to play films, rather than hack the source code.
  • by dougmc ( 70836 ) <> on Monday March 19, 2001 @03:06PM (#353116) Homepage
    People will accept your ideas much more readily if you tell them that Benjamin Franklin said it first.
    Not sure who said that, but they're certainly right ...
  • Franklin was a great man, gentleman and scholar. He started the first newspaper and the first fire department in the US. Nice to see that he was also quite the humanitarian. I have admired him all of my life.

    Of course, he did all of those things because he was helping to start a country run by a bunch of guys that didn't like their taxes. They only let white men vote or own land. Slavery was allowed for blacks, and most of their wives were treated like slaves.

    So just remember, as great a guy as Franklin was, do not forget to take what he said in the context of his own time.
  • Its OK, RMS and the Slashbots are on their way over to detain the bastard; we won't having any of that subversive nonsense here! If he dares to defend the Antichrist(TM), we will cast him into eternal damnation with a few commands entered into a Collective-approved, properly licensed CLI.

  • by curunir ( 98273 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @04:30PM (#353131) Homepage Journal
    So who is more American, Ben Franklin or Bill Gates?

    1) Bill Gates was born in the US, Franklin was not...Franklin was born a British Citizen.
    2) The present tense of the verb to be is used, so Franklin technically *isn't* any more
    3) Bill Gates represents what it is to be American pretty darn well. He is capitalistic and greedy. Franklin represents what it *was* to be American, idealistic and capable of creative thought.

    So...maybe the question should have been phrased, "Who is more what we'd like to believe an American is?"
  • Not really. He had published the idea before it occured to anyone it was patentable, thus invalidating any attempt to patent it. Furthermore, had he patented it when he published the idea (around 1948 I think) the patent would have expired I think 17 years latter (1965) before it was a major business.

    Incidentally, in the semi-recent spate of documentary series about the early space program, they made a big deal about how one rogue engineer at NASA pushed the revolutionary lunar orbit rendezvous idea. While not taking away from that engineer's determination and rightness, this was also thought of by Clarke in around 1948. I have a book by him from this time about the science and engineering of spaceflight. (I can't remember if this is where the geostationary satellite idea was published.)

  • Hi, I'm not sure where you got that. What history books did you read? The ones I had put Ben Franklin on fairly even ground with Eli Whitney; both were dead white guys who invented stuff and neither was made out to be good or bad in the history books, as I recall.

    My point had something to do with the futility of patents. Both had successful inventions, one patented, one didn't, and they ended up the same stature in the "neutral" gaze of the historians.
    However, now that we have this free software movement, we look up to Ben Franklin as having a superior character.

    There. I've fleshed out my argument a little more for you, though its probably no more eloquent.

  • since they laid off those developers

    They did lay off developers. They laid off marketing driods and the like.

    Please read more than titles of news events...

  • I'd say the Spanish-American war was pretty outwardly directed foreign policy. ;-) Not that I'm saying it was right, but it was outward...

    Sweetie, you're living in a city that is in no way cosmopolitan. Not even close. Live in LA or NYC or Houston before you decide all of america is comprised of close-minded, mom-and-apple-pie hicks. There are places in Houston where the street signs are in 3 languages, and english is last on the list...

    As far as american culture as a whole, well I agree most of it is pretty homogenized. Why most people here like that pap (*NSUCK, BACKDOOR BOYS, McFuckingDonalds, or any of the 1,001 romantic comedies (all of which are as funny as a root canal and about as romantic as a sandpaper dildo), etc. ad nauseum) is beyond me. Why the rest of the world is so enamored of that crap is even further beyond me. I think that basically, most people are stupid. The genius of american mainstream culture is that they learned how to sell stuff to idiots, cretins, and slack-jawed droolers of all stripes as efficiently as possible, and this works as well with Scottish retards as it does American or Japanese or ($COUNTRY) ones... Why bother being creative when you can capture 90% of the global market with cheap, tawdry, talentless crap?

    Oh well, at least for every ten (thousand) boy bands we have a Hemingway or Poe.

    News for geeks in Austin: []
  • If programmers deserve to be rewarded for creating innovative programs, by the same token they deserve to be punished if they restrict the use of these programs.

    This is one of his sayings that got me starting to see the FSF for what it really is. In RMS's perfect world, the government will come knocking on your door "Open up!" they will say. "We're here to free your source for the glorious people's revolution". Then you will do time in jail just for trying to profit on your work as journalists, novelists, and other IP workers have been doing for hundreds of years.

  • Bush vs Gore []

    I quote from the fifth paragraph:

    Internet magazine Slate quoted the man behind voteauction, James Baumgartner, as saying that vote buying had a proud history in the US, dating back to 1757 when George Washington bought alcohol for voters in his district.

    Here's some more:

    Vote Auction History of Voting []

    I'd have to quote the whole page from there... Point is, they wouldn't die from sadness. Franklin would probably go on objecting and not getting elected, while Washington would still be boozing up buisnessmen for campaign cash.

    The important thing to remember is that politicians have nothing interesting to say and no insight to give. To become a successful politician, you have to reformat your brain and then reload off of a braindead, christian, centric viewpoint. A few drunk driving arrests (AKA Bush) could help, and cocaine use is obviously a plus.

    A politician couldn't lead a drunken college student to the toilet to puke. This is the *nature* of a politician. The only thing you can do is form a group that represents your opinion, convince them that you have a hundred thousand voters backing your group, then start writing the letters and checks.

  • Interesting point. I don't know. Then again, there were probably locally elected officials even while a part of the British empire. Someone's got to lie to the public, and why sail across the ocean when you can hire a local?

  • 20 places in the US to raise a family.

    Yeah, I could see raising a family there, but even as teenagers they'd want to get away.

    Even staying there for a week I felt like I was living out The Shining. Cabin fever sets in real quick, even if you're staying in a hotel and working during the day.

  • Well of course Washington wouldn't be being lobbied by the RIAA or any other company.

    Why would they lobby a convicted drug felon?

  • Christ Almighty, as it were. A good Jewish boy, but does he write his mother?

    Thank you for that post, and me out of moderator points. It should be +5.

  • They accept them even more readily if you slip a few Benjamin Franklins into their pocket.
  • Longer-lasting republics include Switzerland and San Marino, both by several centuries.
    Furthermore, the USofA is actual run by elites, and is not strictly democratic, by any standards. Common folk are prohibited from contributing in any meaningful way in the political process.
  • by proxima ( 165692 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @04:22PM (#353179)
    Benjamin Franklin was a well-known Deist of his time. Basically, the Deists believed that human nature and the universe was inherently good, which differed greatly from the concurrently-popular Puritan view.

    Through this belief that the universe was inherently good, the Deists believed that the best way to worship God was to do good and service others. Franklin demonstrated his wish to help others through the establishment of the University of Pennsylvania and the first American library (excellent way to promote free knowledge). He also improved the quality of living in his favored city of Philadelphia by improving street lighting and sewage systems.

    Therefore, it makes perfect sense that Franklin would not want to patent his useful stove invention - doing so would only hamper competition to provide cheap availability of his useful stove. Benjamin Franklin helped early American society in so many ways that he easily became the classic American hero we know today.

  • The Educational-Industrial complex doesn't want anyone to know about these clearly dangerous notions from Mr. Franklin. They represent a danger to the status quo, bottom line, and, worse, might give people the idea that it isn't all about making them money.

    Talk like this could start a Revolution. :)

  • it has been one hell of a week, it has... things are blurry before the weekend
  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @04:10PM (#353186) Journal
    Let's see:

    First, Eazel launched Nautilus []; Later the same day they laid off / slashed [] a bunch of folks, now they have "Contest Ware" to promote and generate development since they laid off those developers.

    I suppose, but I wish there was a better way to do business.

  • promote and generate development since they laid off those developers.

    If you read the articles related to Eazal's layoffs you'll see they canned the markatroids - no developers were sacked. Your offbase Cpt.Fud-O-Tron.
  • by jdb8167 ( 204116 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @03:47PM (#353200)
    I'm sure that Ben Franklin just didn't understand that he would stop innovating if he couldn't have a 17 year monopoly. </irony>

    That's what patent proponents keep saying anyway.

  • Damn right man, I'm Italian :)

    "The most fortunate of persons is he who has the most means to satisfy his vagaries."
  • Million people are not needed for culture. There are many small (<200k) cities in New England with a great cultural and historic potential: think Worcester, MA, Newport, RI, Hartford, CT.

    If you don't like living in Bhangor, do something instead of moaning on Slashdot.

  • So who is more American, Ben Franklin or Bill Gates?"

    Or Abraham Lincoln, who was awarded patent 6469 for a device to lift boats over shoals?

    "[patent laws have] secured to the inventor, for a limited time, the exclusive use of his invention; and thereby added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius, in the discovery and production of new and useful things." ucation/patent.htm []

  • by byronbussey ( 238252 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @04:17PM (#353214) Homepage
    I've broken two Timexes this month, this is just old hat now

    How the hell do you break two watches that 'take a licking and keep on ticking' in 1 month? What could you possibly be doing in your spare time that creates such a watch dangerous enviroment?? I mean yeah, I fell into my rock tumbler once and ruined my Timex and my glasses, but don't tell me you did it twice in one month!!!

  • Where would we be without intellectual property?
    I mean, to a point, we need a some incentive to do one's own work.

    Think of the freeloader concept from your high school Economics class.
    Anyway, I'm not gonna say anything not already hashed and rehashed here on /., so I'm just gonna say this:
    Balance in all things.

    But: I wonder who's gonna bitch about DivX-- MPAA has begun to embrace it. Don't we need somebody to create controversy and give the /. community something to complain about? :-) Anyway, just a half- serious comment.. no flames, please.

  • He had published the idea before it occured to anyone it was patentable, thus invalidating any attempt to patent it.

    Exactly -- he had the opportunity to publish it as a patent rather than as a science-fiction short story. Despite your other point...

    had he patented it when he published the idea (around 1948 I think) the patent would have expired I think 17 years latter (1965) before it was a major business

    ...I think he would have made rather more money from the patent than from the short story. I'm also not sure your timing is right; I seem to recall the story being from the 50's. In any case while I'm not familiar with the details this is an oft-cited example of the Patent That Might Have Been.

    Oh, and for the other poster: The idea most certainly was patentable, even if it was in 1948. There is nothing "abstract" about it at all, it can be perfectly described within the confines of a patent application. Get a copy of Patent It Yourself and learn how these things really work.

  • by localroger ( 258128 ) on Monday March 19, 2001 @04:01PM (#353221) Homepage
    ...could have patented the geosynchronous satellite, but apparently didn't think it worth bothering. He wasn't exactly impoverished by this oversight, but he would have made Bill Gates look like the poor boy from across the tracks by comparison if he'd done it.

    Incidentally, Clarke introduced the modern communication satellite to his readers by postulating a Soviet plan to put one above Middle America and bombard us with an endless and unjammable stream of propaganda and morals-degenerating quasi-porn ... kinda like what the American broadcast companies actually did :-)

  • That, as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.

    I think Richard Stallman should consider using this as the motto of the Free Software Foundation. Heck, any open source endeavor!

  • It is funny, but when I applied for my green card here in america I was told that it might be a good idea if I study some american history. One of the things I have been reading about is Ben Franklin, which has been made easy for me by some books my ex-boyfriend left lying around my house when he left.

    It turns out that Ben Franklin was a great believer in globalisdation and Information exchange across the world. The vast majority of his ideas can be put down to him being a memeber of the landed gentry in america, with considerable assets (many slaves) and the time and ability to be scholarly.

    Most of all, it is thanks to him being able to travel to London and partake in the enlightenment occurring in Europe at the time. Being from a backwater at the time, it was fortunate for america that there were such people with a global outlook.

    Now, the funny thing is that soon after, motivated by the 1812 war with Britain and britain's victory in said war, america became isolationist and inward looking, even unto the highest levels of government.

    Only in 1942 did America's foriegn policy at last become outward directed, but unfortunately its culture is still very inward looking.

    As a Scottish girl used to the pleasures of my native Glasgow, I was very dissappointed in the variety of cuisine, nightlife and people here in Bangor, Maine when I first arrived. It seems that the melting pot is producing a terrible monoculture here in America!

    Well, I think it is about time that American *culture*, and not just its government, became outward looking. This wouyld increase creativity and receptiveness to new ideas, and create a new renaissance of learning. The world is such a big place, and so varied! It seems a shame to ignore it. As an article earlier today was moaning about creativity in America, I feel justified in this.

    Just think of Franklin. The Founding Fathers, who's ideals and lives I have been studying as an immigrant, would have been for it. I think we should do as they would.

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."