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Slashback: Brainwaves, MPnothin', Telescopy 244

Slashback tonight with a few words on forcing Open software, NASA mind-reading tricks, a reminder of one nice way not to pay for an MP3 decoder, and more. Read on for the details. Update: 08/28 00:36 GMT by T : Oops -- No DoubleClick news tonight, as the original headline implied. Regrets.

They felt your unvoiced contempt. perl-guy writes "According to a recent NASA press release, reports such as those in this Slashdot story stating that NASA is planning to develop mind-reading equipment for airports in efforts against terrorism are exaggerated and ignore the facts and science behind current research. 'NASA does not have the capability to read minds, nor are we suggesting that would be done,' said Robert Pearce, Director, NASA's Strategy and Analysis Division in the Office of Aerospace Technology in Washington. 'Our scientists were asked to think outside the box with regards to ideas that could aid the nation in the war on terrorism and that's what they are doing. We have not approved any research in this area and because of the sensitivity of such research, we will seek independent review before we do.'"

Let's put that Schneier fellow on the "body-search" list. Quixotic1 writes "Four articles are highlighted over at The Atlantic Online arguing that to protect ourselves against terrorism we must rely on people, not simply on technology. The outline touches on the recent article about Bruce Schneier, the national ID card proposal, and the Clipper Chip."

Star systems, slip through fingers, etc. Since Thomson Multimedia / the Frauenhofer Institute has decided to press the $0.75-per-decoder charge for MP3 decoders mentioned earlier today, there are probably a lot of people suddenly more interested in other formats. I favor the Xiph Foundation's Ogg Vorbis; Xiph CEO Emmett Plant has written his thank-you note to Thomson Multimedia.

Depends what you consider "great." morhoj writes "ZDNet is running a great commentary that talks about the recent debate involving the Digital Software Security Act (the California law the would force governments to use open source software). ''Open source is supposed to be about freedom. Unfortunately, certain advocates have lost sight of that goal.'' I couldn't have summed it up better myself. Forcing anyone to use Open Source software is no better than ludicrous Microsoft licensing agreements." I think Carroll is dead-wrong when he focuses on cost-benefit analyses (and ignores the question of whose money is being spent by whom, for what), but YMMV.

I bet they'd have to edit Super Troopers, too. David_Bloom writes: "Following up on an earlier article, according to a page (link is a direct link to a frame - context sold separately) on the IMAX website, the first movie to use 35mm to 70mm IMAX DMR technology will be the hit 1995 flick Apollo 13. It is interesting to note that, according to a lookup, the film has been edited for content for its IMAX release (which is bad news for people hoping to see The Matrix or similar movies on IMAX)."

No, I said I'm meet you by the other telescope! Reader Dan Yocum points out that the skyward-gazing Yalies who captured asteroid 2002 NY40 digitally did so with a different telescope than the one reported. He writes: "They weren't even using WIYN. They were using the 0.9M that's next to it (about 50yd away)." Thanks for the correction!

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Slashback: Brainwaves, MPnothin', Telescopy

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  • Why NASA? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @08:06PM (#4153127)
    Why would NASA be developing mind reading technology? They should stick to the task at hand, i.e. converting metric measurments to American.

    Anyways, shouldn't the FBI, CIA or NSA develop this?
    • Because, it sounds a whole lot less threatning when a government agency with more than three letters in it's name does it. Think about it, do you ever feel threatened by NORAD?
      • At least some people may have felt a bit nervous that they'd be shot out of the air by their unexpected military escort today: rt ed-Landing.html

    • by monadicIO ( 602882 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @08:19PM (#4153190)
      Maybe NASA had a read error and thinks that CIA, FBI and NSA think that NASA should do it. On a related note, can mind-R and mind-RW technology be far behind mind reading?
      • Just watch that you don't have cheap media and end up throwing a few burnt copies away.
      • by Kowh ( 61371 )
        Hmm... NSA, CIA, NASA. If we mix these around we get NASA = NSA + CIA - CI.

        I guess this means NASA's just a blind front for the NSA and the CIA (blind front, get it? Can't "CI". ;)).
      • by konijn ( 247004 )
        Not to forget mind+R and mind+RW and all the other mind reading standards.
      • mind-RW works well on male subjects, but not so well for females as attested to by anyone who's tried to change a woman's mind.
    • by Jonny Ringo ( 444580 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @08:45PM (#4153319)
      What are you talking about? Its just a little different. They are now exploring the space inside our heads.
    • Why would NASA be developing mind reading technology? They should stick to the task at hand, i.e. converting metric measurments to American.

      It's technology they got from certain "visitors" who use it to communicate and play their little pratical jokes on back woods Arkansas fishermen. Why else would NASA have the technology?

    • Because they have no clue what they are doing and felt that this would be a good tactic to establish an agenda ?? :)
    • Re:Why NASA? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pete-classic ( 75983 )
      I don't work for NASA, but I would assume that it is because they are the top of the heap in physiological monitoring technology out of necessity (physical and mental stress combined with an absolute need to detect even the most mundane of problems as early as possible).


      PS: I'm ignoring the "funny" part of your post.

  • Editing movies? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by SaraSmith ( 602197 )
    Bleh. What's the point? Especially with Apollo 13? I guess they think they need to try to cater to EVERYONE which as we all know, means making everything suck. Just look at network tv.
    • by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @08:28PM (#4153242) Homepage Journal
      Well, I for one am glad they are editing it! There was some very offensive material in that filthy movie! I hope they are getting rid of that do know what its shaped like? Don't you?
      And all that dirty talk about inserting hoses in air filters, using duct tape no less! The movie will be much better without it.
      Think of the children!

      • There was some very offensive material in that filthy movie!

        I counted twenty-seven obscene or profane words in Apollo 13 when I saw it in the theater.

        I have no life.

        • > I counted twenty-seven obscene or profane words in Apollo 13 when I saw it in the theater.

          Well, shit, that's just terrible!
  • thompson (Score:2, Informative)

    by nexex ( 256614 )
    I guess they saw the money being raked in err, extorted for mpeg-4 and couldnt resist
    • Now here's a question, what if you develop sourcecode for an MP3 player (decoder) and anonymously post it on web boards all over. Who pays the license fee then?
      • Re:thompson (Score:2, Informative)

        by fini ( 571717 )
        Anyone who uses this code in its product.

        It's not the Frauenhofer code which requires a license, it's the format itself. If your product can use, play, encode in MP3, you gotta pay.

        Sigs, what for ?
      • Nothing's stopping you. The problem isn't indivdual users being unable to make MP3s.

        The problem is developers can't make available indefinite numbers of free downloads, and businesses can't distribute (for instance) free ISOs of Linux distros containing MP3 decoders.

        People who use whatever MP3 software comes with Windows or Mac won't notice the difference -- -- it's only $0.75 out of a product costing hundreds of $$.

  • 'NASA does not have the capability to read minds, nor are we suggesting that would be done'

    I KNEW they were going to say that.

    In all seriousness, this would violate so many human rights that it wouldn't have a snow balls chance in hell of getting government approval(paranoid "Dale" clones, form a line to the left, please). Because pretty soon they'd want to start checking peoples' minds for non-terrorist related crime thought processes, then they want to put them in other places besides airports, and then you'd have WAY too many false arrests. If you threw a guy in jail everytime he thought "If that bitch doesn't take the trash out so help me God I'll kill her! My god, shit takes 3 minutes..lazy ho gonna die tonight!" then our prisons would be the size of small planets.
    • Can we say "1984" anyone? Sounds like stopcrime (can't remember if that's the correct word) isn't too far away. Especially with all this homeland defense stuff.
    • First of all, airports are the same as a border crossing, they're the exception to the constitutional rule. that's why for instance an airport can screen passangers the way they do now.
      Second of all, the constitution only applies to the government. Anything the government allows private buisness to do isn't protected by anything.
      The mall of america has 137 'police officers' they don't enforce any of america's laws thought. They enforce the facist rule of the mall owners. They kick anyone out who's causing a disturbance, and detain people until they can be turned over to the police if they're caught in a crime.
      Imagine what a place like that would pay for a way to read the minds of everyone through the doors (assuming there wasn't public backlash..)
  • That forcing Governments to use the cheapest possible contractor, vendor, seller, etc, causes a similar issue. However, most people still support that policy.

    I'd much rather have MY government "buying" free software and supporting open-source development than supporting the rich fat-cats who own all that microsoft stock.

  • by PeteyG ( 203921 )
    Please be sure to threaten those who challenge your license fees with lawsuits and draconian collections efforts. We officially support any action you take to drive home the 'mp3 costs money' message. Thanks again, and best of luck!

    Certainly, there is part of me that wants Ogg to get a lift from this bad business... so I can certainly seeing him wanting them to press with litigation... On the other tentacle, is it wrong to wish such evil behaviour (on the part of the Thompson Multimedia) upon innocent and unsuspecting people?

    Or maybe his overall message was: 'You guys just made a real dumbass business move, and now we're gonna getcha!!'
  • Would there be this uproar if it was a board of directors forcing the use of Open Source software within a company? I'd guess not, because I know of a few who do.

    If a law is in place, put there either by referendum or legislative action, then its the same basic thing. In addition, businesses generally exist on a make-profit-now approach, whereas public money as spent by the gov't should be handed by a whats-the-best-long-term approach.
    • I've got nothing against encouraging the use of Open Source solutions. I have some quams about forcing it.
      Open source is about freedom. Enforced freedom is an oxymoron.
    • It is very rare for governments to think long term. They are just like companies. They need to make themselves look good so you re-elect them. They do this by reducing expenditure, reducing taxes, and making populist decisions etc. Open Source is a good way to make the books look good on a short timeframe (reduced licence costs). I would be pleasantly surprised if they are even considering the long term implications of such a decision. Don't get me wrong, the long term implications might be good, but then again, they might not be.
  • Of course the real reason NASA is developing such a device is so that they can detect people who believe that the entire apollo moon landing was a hoax. These people will then be "removed". ;-)

  • Thompson letter (Score:2, Interesting)

    It would be interesting to see a reply to that letter. :)
  • 2001 at IMAX (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kufat ( 563166 )
    Is there anyone else who thinks 2001: A Space Odyssey would make an excellent choice for an IMAX release? It was beautifully filmed, it's already in 70mm, it's G-rated, and has a multichannel soundtrack. It's a great movie, too.

    The only problem might be its length, 150 minutes or so. Still, it's nice to dream, isn't it?
    • 70mm wide, yes. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Bingo Foo ( 179380 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @08:31PM (#4153256)
      2001: A Space Odyssey [...] it's already in 70mm

      It's already 70mm wide. IMAX rolls the film "sideways," so the short dimension of the visible frame is the width of the film, and the long dimension of the frame is along the direction of the roll. Any standard 70mm film would have to be retransferred to the IMAX 70mm sideways format.

      • Re:70mm wide, yes. (Score:5, Informative)

        by foobar104 ( 206452 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @09:40PM (#4153502) Journal
        Actually, it's a little different even from that. 2001: A Space Odyssey was filmed on 65 mm film negative using the Super Panavision 70 process. Super Panavision 70, like CinemaScope and other formats, used an anamorphic lens to distort the image on the negative. If you look at a frame of the original camera negative-- good luck getting FotoKem to get it out of their vault for you-- you'll see a picture that seems too tall. You correct for that distortion by using a complementary lens, either when you project a print of the film, or when you transfer the negative to make a print. 2001 was printed in 35mm anamorphic (which used a cylindrical lens to restore the image during projection), 70mm anamorphic, and 70mm flat. Depending on which print you look at, the images are going to be pretty significantly different.

        So it's not completely true to say that 2001 was 70mm wide. The dimensions of the actual film image and the dimensions at which it's projected have a complicated relationship.
  • by Rimbo ( 139781 ) <> on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @08:24PM (#4153224) Homepage Journal
    The reasoning has nothing to do with Freedom. You and I are meant to be free; governments, as the executors of the will of the people, are not. We do have the right to force our government to choose Open Source.

    The real question is, is this a good idea? And as the Peruvian Congressman stated so eloquently in his own letter, yes it is. The reason it is a good idea is because anything used by the government is public property, and public property must be subject to public review.

    I highly recommend looking up and reading what Congressman Villanueva [] had to say on the topic, because he says it much more eloquently, and covers the important details and facts for why this is a necessary step for the preservation of democracy in the digital age.

    Again, the government is the executor of the policy of freedom -- not free in itself. This is what freedom is about: The government is bound to the people's will, as opposed to the other way around. There are exceptions to protect certain things from the tyranny of the majority -- which are listed in the Bill of Rights. But these restrict which laws can govern the people, not which laws govern the government.

    Anyhow, go read Villanueva's letter. It is as important a statement on the meaning of liberty as any ever written.
    • You and I are meant to be free; governments, as the executors of the will of the people, are not.

      The troubling thing is how often this needs to be said. There are regular postings here which imply that government agencies have the same rights as, for instance, an ordinary business.

      Is the idea that government is deliberately straightjacketed, is held to an artificially high standard, not taught in public schools anymore? Isn't this covered in high school civics classes, for instance?

      • "Is the idea that government is deliberately straightjacketed, is held to an artificially high standard, not taught in public schools anymore? Isn't this covered in high school civics classes, for instance?"

        Yes. As you and I both know -- you can send the kids to class, but you can't make them learn. Even if we repeat "government with consent of the governed" from memory, that doesn't mean the concept takes root and affects how we think. I took my education seriously in High School, and this idea took root in my brain, but I frequently miss the connection between this high-minded ideal and reality.

        This is a big reason why I appreciate Villanueva's letter so much. He shows how the ideal of "free" and reality of governments needing to accomplish things are related.
      • There are regular postings here which imply that government agencies have the same rights as, for instance, an ordinary business.

        Even more sad is that many people believe that businesses should have the same rights as individuals. Unfortunately, this is becoming more and more true.

    • No! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Pseudonym ( 62607 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @10:02PM (#4153633)

      Governments do not have to use open source unless the people say they must. Our governments are indeed executors of the will of the people, however they are also the stewards of taxpayers' money. If open source does not win in the cost-benefit analysis (particularly the "benefit" part of the equation), then open source should not be used.

      IMO, the more important issue, and one I think which came out in the Peruvian letter, is this: Governments must not force citizens to use proprietary software to interact with their government. This means that, for example, a government department may use Microsoft Word to store its internal documents, but published documents must be in an open format (e.g. PDF). Similarly, your taxation officials may use IIS to run their web site, but must not require you to use IE in order to file your tax returns electronically.

      • by kesuki ( 321456 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @02:08AM (#4154648) Journal
        I would like to point out that pdf files are not 'open' formats. As a matter of fact, you can't get any more closed or proprietary than the Patented 'Portable' Document Format, which has almost 102 related patents. []
        Yes, PDF is 'free as in beer' but in no way is it an 'open' model, nor is it a 'standard' but rather a 'de facto standard' like 'flash.' Because it's patented, because it's owned Adobe can say "anyone who want's to sell or give away a program that can read or convert PDFs has to pay us $.75 cents per copy of software..."
        There is an industry standard, it's called PostScript, but unfortunately, that too is entangled with patents, and the main issue with PostScript is that the fonts needed to render PS files correctly are mostly owned (by adobe no less), although you can use free fonts to replace them, this can cause any munber of formatting issues. Adobe maimed postscript through insane fees on their fonts (to complement a laser printer with a full set of PostScript fonts may cost easily $600 or more), to force people into using pdf, which comes with all those owned adobe fonts supported 'free'.
        PDF isn't free, and adobe may well decide they need to crack down on programs that allow people to open pdfs or convert them to other formats. Especially if they believe there is money to be made from it.
      • "Governments do not have to use open source unless the people say they must."

        I don't expect my parents to understand or at least be able to make any informed decision on the nature of open-source versus proprietary software, except in an extension of the way he has to use M$loth-ware at work...
        So the question arises, how are you going to define "the people" in this case? Is it just going to be bulk count(bums_on_seats) like with most "democracy" or is there any bias towards what might be termed expert opinion?

        "Governments must not force citizens to use proprietary software to interact with their government."

        That is a side issue compared to what the government itself uses.

        In the commercial world, organizations are seen as potential customers. In the open-source or Free world, they're another potential convert.
        • I don't expect my parents to understand or at least be able to make any informed decision on the nature of open-source versus proprietary software [...]

          No, and nor should they. I don't expect my parents to understand the details of Australia's extradition treaty with Latvia, either. Hell, I don't expect myself to understand them. That's what representational democracy and a competent public sector is supposed to be about. I elect experts and people who hire experts so that I don't have to be an expert myself.

          Mind you, having worked in the Australian public service, I don't expect public sector IT managers to make informed decisions either, but that's a slightly different issue. This is not necessarily because IT managers are incompetent, though some are. It's because they're under so many artificial constraints as it is, both legal and political, that they often can't even try to find the most appropriate solution for some problem. The situation would be no better were they forced to use open source internally, because that would just be another artificial constraint.

    • The diffrence is Peru was pushing for "Free Software"(read open standards), whereas CA is pushing for "Free Software"(read RMS). The first is the correct action, the second is just as shady as mandating that MS be the only software used by gvt.
    • You and I are meant to be free; governments, as the executors of the will of the people, are not.

      No problem there. I agree.

      We do have the right to force our government to choose Open Source.

      But who do you mean by "we"? Just you and I? If so, then I must seriously disagree. If you mean those fifty odd people that marched in San Fransisco two weeks ago, then I must also disagree.

      I do not believe in the tyranny of the majority. I believe even less in the tryanny of the minority. Before we force the government to our will, be must have sufficient cause. While I believe that there is sufficient cause for the government to cease using products from a convicted monopolist, I don't think there is sufficient cause to bar proprietary software completely.

      On the other hand, we do have sufficient cause to force the government to adhere to free and open software standards in its dealings with the public. And we do have sufficient cause to force the government to use proper competitive bidding based on total cost of ownership. So let's start with that.
    • The reason it is a good idea is because anything used by the government is public property, and public property must be subject to public review.

      Ah. Ok. So I suppose that the blueprints to every vehicle the government buys also need to be available? And I suppose that whatever computers are purchased had better have the transistor-level designs available too.

      Sorry, no they're not. Public review does not mean what you seem to think it means. Public review means that the public can review the discussion and decisions of the government. It doesn't mean we get to micromanage every little thing.

      Now pursuant to the actual definition of public review we may want to mandate that public documents be stored in a documented format -- preferably one that is free to create and use, but at the very least one that has a publicly available interface format.

      No, "free" isn't going to happen either. If it was then you couldn't store audio data in CD or WAV format -- because they are patent encumbered. The fact that they are is irrelevant - both standards are documented and will be recoverable in the future because of that.
  • But there's nothing in this Slashback about DoubleClick (as one might infer from the title). WTF? Is the write-up embedded inside a banner ad that only appears once in every ten pageloads? Is this some new approach to /. traffic generation?

  • What was in there that could possibly offend the sensibilities of the average public? If they can't handle that movie.. argh.
  • Ogg comparison page (Score:2, Informative)

    by ivan256 ( 17499 )
    I've never seriously listened to the difference between Ogg Vorbis and the other codecs. I followed the link in that letter to the Ogg comparison page, and down at the bottom there were samples made by Microsoft for Media Player 8, and Real, and an Ogg version of the same piece. If you play the 64kbit ogg file, and the 64kbit wma file, you hear a *major* difference. The harpsichord is completely missing from the windows media version! Usually when there is a comparison like that the difference is subtile, and you really can't tell with crappy equipment. I certainly wasn't expecting such a vast difference in quality.

    I'm impressed.
    • I agree. I just compared them myself, and even on a relatively poor playback system, the difference is quite remarkable.

      I'm sending a check to Xiph tonight, to support the fight (and quality software).
  • My 0.02 on MP3s (Score:2, Insightful)

    by grimsweep ( 578372 )
    This is probably some of the worst possible timing for the rigorous enforcement of the MP3 royalty fees. Consider: -The decline of Napster-clones -The legislation surrounding Internet radio -The 'already-there' Microsoft WMA (for windows users) -The presence of the OGG Vorbis format and it's superior quality (not to mention established support in popular free music players) -The expense of portable non-CD MP3 players and their associated memory cards/sticks (the more costly portion of the product, IMHO) seems to me some of the more popular uses of the MP3 format are in a state of flux, while alternatives that may not have presented a definate threat to it's popularity are now in the lime-light. Personally, it sounds like an underhanded scheme originating from the RIAA. :)
    • by xixax ( 44677 )
      OK, again and again, the RIAA say MP3s are responsibe for killing their industry. Then a company starts taxing MP3 installs.

      A) If there's no connection, how long before RIAA decides they should the compensated out of these royalties for a product that is (apparently) only used for pirating music?

      B)If there is a connection, wouldn't this be a most excellent stick for the RIAA? "No one can possibly be using MP3 unless they are using it in an un-approved manner, therefore we can sue anyone not implementing MP3 in an approved manner".

      C) Yes, aquiring an interest in this would be a great way to force a shift to another format. What use is an MP3 file if writing or distributing a player for it will send you to jail? (similar to point B except for the goal)

      This is the Unisys GIF thing, but with more interested parties on the top end.

  • I just read the Xiph letter, and while I have to applaud, I'm a little concerned that the MP3 people might decide to try and claim some sort of "Music compression" patent, then go after Xiph. Being snide about the fact the MP3 people are such jerks won't help Xiph.
  • by ymgve ( 457563 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @08:53PM (#4153347) Homepage
    or so it seems like, according to IMDB []. Also, the movie had, and will still have a PG rating, so I guess nothing has been cut out. They're probably just adding extra footage at the sides/top/bottom or stretching the movie so it fits the size of IMAX.

    And Matrix on IMAX would rock! Hope they decide to transfer that one too.
  • freedom to choose (Score:4, Insightful)

    by The Pim ( 140414 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @09:02PM (#4153378)
    The ZDNet article voices the common "insight" that,
    Open source is supposed to be about freedom.
    where "freedom" is interpreted as choice. The same cry--sometimes with "free software" in place of "open source" appears in countless slashdot comments, and even in articles [] by the normally sane Jonathan Corbet.

    But in either form ("open source" or "free software"), it's revisionist bullshit.

    Free software, according to Stallman and the FSF, is about the essential freedom to share and modify software. They explictly reject [] the choice to produce and use proprietary software as a freedom. That makes as much sense, they say [], as the "freedom to choose slavery". Free software is about as far away from "freedom to choose" as you can get.

    How about open source, that much more convenient doctrine? According to its founders,

    The basic idea behind open source is very simple: When programmers can read, redistribute, and modify the source code for a piece of software, the software evolves.

    So while ESR may support the freedom to choose in general (he does), that is not at all what open source is about. Open source is about convincing the world that it is a better development methodology. Most of its adherents would be perfectly happy it it killed off proprietary software, thus eliminating "choice".

    So, the "freedom to choose" may be your philosophy, or Tim O'Reilly's philosophy [], but it is not that of free software or open source.

    • I counter with the fact that there are BSD licenses. In fact I run an "Open Source" machine on one of my servers, and not one single line of it's origional code came from a GPL license.

      To claim that RMS is the definition of OSS implies you either are new to this argument, or are a troll. RMS does believe that all software should be free, he is one pillar of OSS. I on the other hand feel that OSS software should exist for comodity items (OS/Webserver..) and commercial software should provide "custom" or "exotic" functions, if there is a market for those solutions. OSS software should be usable in comercial products, and I feel that a company ought (moral obligation) to provide some kickback or recognition when they do.

      To say that RMS is more important because he's writen Emacs and Hurd, where as I've only spit out a few drivers, is absurd. Both of us have opinions of what OSS is.

      In this particular case the definition of "Free Software" should fall under the category of software that dosen't give a private company absolute control of your data. In no situation should a goverment be exchanging documents in a format that rely upon a certain non-open standard format for information exchange. This is comparable to a law being passed that contained parts of an IEEE spec, which would require people to buy the right to the spec in order to even read thier own law. Both of these are inapropriate for goverments to do, and should be avoided if possible.

      MS is capable of creating "Free Software", and even selling it with thier current UELA if they so choose. They have currently shown a vested interest in not doing so, but that is MS's choice, not the goverments. The fact that alternatives to said software that does not perform for the goverment means the goverment ought to use the alternatives unless non-free software is the only way to perfom a certain task. (runon, but valid?)

      • To claim that RMS is the definition of OSS implies you either are new to this argument, or are a troll.

        To me, you seem new to this. ;-)

        RMS does believe that all software should be free, he is one pillar of OSS.

        RMS has nothing to do with OSS, and says so [] all the time.

        I on the other hand feel that OSS software ... [snip]

        You can feel whatever you want, but you can't just make up your own meaning for the term "open source". "Open source" should mean what its coiners said it means, and they are very clear about it. They say "open source" is a better development methodology.

        In this particular case the definition of "Free Software" should fall under the category of software that dosen't give a private company absolute control of your data.

        You can't just make up your own meaning for "free software", either. If everyone uses the terms to mean what they want, how will we ever communicate? Your definition has nothing to do with that which has been in common usage for 15 years.

        MS is capable of creating "Free Software", and even selling it with thier current UELA if they so choose.

        Utter nonsense.


        RMS is more important because he's writen Emacs and Hurd, where as I've only spit out a few drivers, is absurd.

        No offense to you, but RMS is more important (in the context of this debate) than you (and me and the rest of slashdot) because he's a bona fide genius who's thought about this issue more than any of use ever will.

    • But in either form ("open source" or "free software"), it's revisionist bullshit.

      Where do you guys get the New Revised FSF Dictionary of the English Language? I can't find it in bookstores anywhere!

      Main Entry:
      1 : the quality or state of being free: as a : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action

      A constraint of choice is not freedom.

      Please note that this is the FIRST definition of freedom in the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary [].
    • So, the "freedom to choose" may be your philosophy, or Tim O'Reilly's philosophy [], but it is not that of free software or open source.

      As soon as an idea is kicked out into the public domain the people at large can modify and adapt it as they so please - and come up with a new version.

      No one owns the concepts of open source or free software, or free speach or such. They are out there and open for interpretation.

      Freedom is in the mind of the individual. I don't feel 'free' because I have taxes to pay. A guy working on a sugar plantation in mozambique doesn't feel free because he earns a dollar 50 a day and has a family of 9 to feed because his brothers were all shot. You don't feel free because propreitary software exists.

      Free software and open source do not have a philosophy - every individual has one!
  • 'NASA does not have the capability to read minds, nor are we suggesting that would be done'

    Now all keep repeating:

    NASA does not have the capability to read minds, nor is suggesting that it would be done.
    NASA does not have the capability to read minds, nor is suggesting that it would be done.
    NASA does not have the capability to read minds, nor is suggesting that it would be done.
    NASA does not have the capability to read minds, nor is suggesting that it would be done.
    NASA does not have the capability to read minds, nor is suggesting that it would be done.
    [ad infinitum]
  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @09:33PM (#4153484)
    NASA engineers have thought outside the box in order to come up with a device "to detect passengers who potentially might pose a threat"... and on to the Q/A:

    Q: How does it work?
    A: We ask people to think inside this box.

    Q: What if they think outside the box?
    A: Then we can't detect anything.

    Q: How do you make sure there are no "back doors" in the system?
    A: We asked our engineers to think outside the box inside the box.

    -- Terry
  • by panZ ( 67763 ) <> on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @10:11PM (#4153681)
    Its not like you can't project 35mm on an IMAX screen right now. The Irvine Spectrum in southern cali does it all the time. I've seen spiderman, star wars and minority report on their huge IMAX screen that they show their 3D IMAX films on during the day. On nights and weekends though, they can pack huge opening weekend audience in to the big screen auditorium and make a lot of cash. The picture is obviously not as sharp as an IMAX film up close but if you don't sit too close (adjust for the relative screen size), it doesn't look bad at all! They project it to utilize the entire width of the screen and the speaker system in there... damn. =)
    Can somemone explain to me how much is gained by doing this expensive process on 35mm film? Is it really worth it when existing 35mm movies don't look half bad on IMAX screens already?
    • that was probably 70mm too. that's seems to be the standard size in US film houses these days. Film distributors usually make 35mm's available to colleges and such.

      Imax also has a 70mm width, but is signicantly taller.

      good comparison here: []

      Scroll down a bit to see the size comparison.
  • WIYN 0.9m (Score:4, Informative)

    by Betelgeuse ( 35904 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @10:12PM (#4153686) Homepage
    No, I said I'm meet you by the other telescope! Reader Dan Yocum points out that the skyward-gazing Yalies who captured asteroid 2002 NY40 digitally did so with a different telescope than the one reported. He writes: "They weren't even using WIYN. They were using the 0.9M that's next to it (about 50yd away)." Thanks for the correction!

    Nope. The story was right the first time. It refered to the "WIYN 0.9m". The WIYN consortium (of which Yale is a member) recently took over the 0.9m (which had previously been operated by NOAO). As a result, one now needs to differentiate between the WIYN 3.5m and the WIYN 0.9m.

    To be fair, when one says just "WIYN", one is usually refering to the 3.5m, but the original story clearly states "WIYN 0.9m."

  • by ealar dlanvuli ( 523604 ) <> on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @12:45AM (#4154374) Homepage
    COMMENTARY--No other market is quite like software. General Motors isn't forced to contend with a "free car" movement, which has a goal of undermining sales-based automakers...
    Of course, software is unique as its production relies purely on the mind.

    I can think of several offhand, the first being the literature industry. The second being the music industry. There are numerable industies in our world that exist soley to produce IP and nothing else. All of these industries have "Open Source" movements of thier own, but none of them benifit from the internet nearly as much as OSS does. What makes OSS so important is the fact it was developed in a time when worldwide data communication suddenly became free and instant, coming from 7 day snail mail for 32c thats a huge improvment.

    The thing that really differentiates the software industry from other IP products, is that software can be developed in a team. I would hate to read a novel writen by a rag tag team of developers, or a song with the music and voice tracks writen by two random contributors who had never met eachother before. It dosen't work nearly as well as software for obvious reasons.

    Free software, however, is only a problem if you hope to sell software.

    Replace software with comodity software, as he explains later on. And as I will explain later "free software" for the goverment is perfectly possible using existing "proprietary" software.

    Free certainly doesn't cause complaints among consumers, although it might lead to fewer choices due to fewer competitors entering the market (profits attract competition).

    It might also lead to world peace (sharing data is a form of altrusim). Absurd arguments don't get you very far here...

    Retailers such as Wal-Mart can benefit if consumers flock to products made cheaper through the use of open source software.

    Yes they can, and if it gets the job done for the consumer then all is good. It seems he agrees with me here.

    Even developers can benefit, as there is ample room for custom software, which fills the gap between general-purpose open source product and tailored software designed for a particular business (often of the proprietary sort which generates revenue as long as it doesn't grow big enough to attract the attention of free software developers).

    Where exactly are the software developers helped by being forced to work in a non-mainstream field? I'm sorry but this paragraph flatly contradicted itself in it's hypothesis and argument.

    These good things, however, in no way justify forcing people to use open source products.

    Are we positive that this is an exaustive list? In fact I don't believe the reason for this bill has even been brought up yet.. While the reasons cited so far might not be enough reason, I am almost positive there is just cause for a "Free Software" (a la Peru) bill. I will admit though, I am no more the political scientist of economist than the next guy, and I cannot reliably predict all the effects of such a bill.

    I have no problem with companies that choose to use open-source software. I also have no problem with governments that choose it.

    Good, because it would be ineffective and absurd to claim you have a problem with the use of public IP. As if the existance of public IP that was just as good as commercial IP should flatly be ignored just because it public.

    I have a very big problem with groups that try to force governments to favor open source software exclusively.

    If you define OSS software as software that follows the pillars stated below:
    • Reveals source to check for backdoors to the goverment
    • Promises to never force the goverment to buy another product from them with no alternatives. Would it be acceptable if a road contractor set up a road that could only be worked on by themselves, without completly removing it and re-engineering everything from the ground up if they switched contractors?
    • Adheres to open standards, so that the goverment can easily write an interface to the data created from your product should they ever need to.

    What exacly could the agument against OSS sofware if you define it so. This is what I would expect from any tax funded agency when there is such an alternative. In the select few situations where there is no OSS solution, it would make sense to grant a special case and allow the purchase of said software. Other than those two cases, what argument is there? I cannot see one, and I would love to be enlightened.

    Mandating that governments only procure open source software would be a form of government protection, allowing open source to avoid competition from proprietary alternatives.

    When proprietary alternatives don't fit the pillars of OSS I laid out previously, it is inapropriate for the goverment to use it. I am willing to debate this point further, but I believe it is obvious that a goverments responsibility is to have open reliable data formats. Proprietary software is capable of fulfilling my OSS pillars above, in fact microsoft is capable of changing very little in thier UELA, and giving the gvt a NDA to sign, and windows would fit inside the OSS pillars stated above.

    When the Anti-OSS example, Windows, is capable to fit under the goverment mandated pillars of OSS, is it really the goverments fault to require that microsoft provide them with the features they require? I would love to be able to walk into consulting interviews and say "I know these were your requirments, but honestly I don't like them, I want to keep all IP I develop for you, sorry". That dosen't seem like a very good way to win a contract to me.

    The irony is rich indeed when proponents of open source decry on one hand a "monopoly" whose dominance is built entirely on consumer choice, and on the other promote a government-protected one of the sort Adam Smith explicitly warned against.

    The goverment is required to set fair limitations on who it will give money to. In order to maintain state security, and provide the required open and reliable data formats to the public, the OSS pillars I have dictated earlier are apropriate limitations in the field of software. I'm not sure exacly which Adam Smith argument you are pushing, but I would love to counter if if you would be so bold as to extend it fully. It is perhaps true that some OSS proponents wish a state mandated OSS monopoly, but that is far from the standard case. This is really a straw man though, because OSS is a philosophy, and I'm sure I can find a contradiction between two believers of any philosophy. Incase someone took down that you pushed that this state contract OSS initiative was in any way a effort to counter certain monopolies, it's not. The state should require the pillars of OSS stated above in order to perform it's basic functions to the citizen body.

    I think Tim O'Reilly put it best when he said, in a recent weblog: "...any victory for open source achieved through deprivation of the user's right to choose would indeed be a betrayal of the principles that free software and open source have stood for."

    This is clearly out of scope. Tim O'Reilly is refering to the users right to choose between several products. This debate is over the goverment mandating the pillars of OSS in the name of security, data reliablity, and open data formats; What this argument is not about is the pillars of OSS as they apply to consumers and buisnesses. Quoting Adam Smith, I'm sure your well aware that the state and private insititutions must uphold entirely diffrent values.

    Some say that the "Digital Software Security Act," as the California proposal is disingenuously called, isn't true protection. Proprietary companies just have to open their source code in order to compete for government contracts.[irony implied]

    As I have stated many times, the goverment is setting standards over what it should require from software. It's the software providers responsibility to apease the goverment, not the other way around. You really make no counter argument here, you just claim this is not so. To counter I say that it is so.

    Well, America just has to stop growing GM (Genetically Modified) food to gain access to European markets, even though all scientific evidence indicates that GM food is not harmful.

    This is true, they do. Whats your point? I can cite the reasons to disalow GM food, but that is completly and totally beyond the scope of this dicussions.

    E-Commerce sites in the US just have to adhere to European VAT rules to be allowed to sell to Europeans.

    Yes they do. Again, this is totally offbase and provides nothing to the dicussion. It is not a support to the above point, because your above point was not a point.

    Europeans just have to buy struggling American steel companies to avoid getting hit by George W's recent steel tariffs.

    I'm not seeing how a european owned steel company exporting goods to europe is going to have any less tarrifs, but I have not followed this. Again straw man.

    In other words, the fact that companies can alter their business structure in order to get around a "non-trade" barrier doesn't make it any less of a trade barrier.

    No you have argued that tarrifs and trade regulations effect free trade. You have not shown in any way that regulations on goverment awarded contracts are a harm to free trade. Again straw man, and out of scope.

    There are a number of important reasons why proprietary software companies might not want to open their source code, chief among them that revenue models based around the sale of an open source product aren't exactly known for their profits.

    Is this support for your point with the [irony] in it? If so it is not the goverments responsibility to allow all bidders to bid, it is the goverments responsibility to uphold the ideas of security (no back doors), reliability of data, and open data formats for citizen audits. The goverment has no other responsibility in this situation that we have discussed so far, and I would love to see you try and counter this.

    The trade barrier, in this case, operates through the fact that most companies currently making proprietary software would sooner replace their executive team with orangutans than discard a revenue model with a proven track record.

    They don't have to discard that revenue model, they just have to provide the goverment full source under NDA. This argument is leaning towards absurditiy, but is still valid. Unfortunatly there is no trade barier. The goverment has no responsibility to break from its requirments simply to stimulate trade under a particular philosophy. It is unforunate that people have come to associate OSS always with FSF, because OSS in this situation is simply the following of the three pillars I laied out earlier.

    Of course, who says anyone should care about the plight of proprietary software companies? Open source code is free, and that's a good thing as stated at the beginning of this article. Why shouldn't government get the most bang for its buck from our tax dollars?

    The cost of a product in tax dollars pales in comparison to the requirment of the goverment to avoid backdoors and provide it's citizens with open formated data. The goverment should be worried about functionality and responsibility before cost when the cost increase is not absurd.

    If you accept that argument, however, you are trapped in a logical conundrum. If you truly believe that government should get the most bang for its buck, then you must reject a policy that would prevent the government from doing a proper cost-benefit analysis to determine what, truly, provides the most bang for the buck.

    Your mythical "Bang for the Buck" is again of no consequence in this discussion. The goverment has a responsibility to the voting public to uphold the three pillars of OSS stated above, and cost is secondary to them by far.

    As I mentioned in a past article, good ideas aren't the exclusive domain of open source programmers. What if a particular government agency would benefit the most from standardizing on Oracle databases? Perhaps its personnel are trained on Oracle, or Oracle developers are easier to find than MySQL developers. Perhaps Oracle works better with existing systems, or other products in the marketplace. Perhaps there are more development tools available, or more add-on software that the agency finds useful. Perhaps, horror of horrors, Oracle is just BETTER than the open source alternative, at least with respect to the features that matter to the agency in question.

    Then if they can provide the citizens with open formated data, and the system is proven not to have a back door, it is apropriate for special situations to get grants to non OSS software. In almost no situation is it not worth investigating the alternatives though. Also since oracle can simply provide the code to a single agency under NDA, it is absurd that oracle would fail to fall under the pillars of OSS stated above if they really want the contract.

    All that MIGHT just add up to making Oracle worth the money some government agency spends on it.

    It very well might, again that is of no consequence to the fact they are giving up the ability to protect themselves from rogue corperations, or meer employees of said corperations. And if they fail at all three pillars of OSS, they also would not provide a reliable data solution to the taxpayers, nor would they allow the citizens to keep the goverment in check. This raises the bar on goverment data from literacy to reverse engineering training, a huge jump for any organization to take lightly.

    A policy that mandates that government not be allowed to make that calculation is a policy that will result in less efficient usage of tax dollars, as government is forced to favor an open source option even if, in the aggregate, a proprietary solution was more cost effective.

    Again, as I have countered above, being cost effective is not the end all when it comes to goverment. Goverements are required to adhere to the values stated many times by me now, not just save cash getting the quickest solution.

    Over time, things can only get worse. Protectionism impoverishes a country, which is why nations around the world are busy opening their markets to foreign competition. What applies at the macroeconomic level applies at the microeconomic level. Protectionism won't help the progress of open source any more than it boosts the efficiency of protected industries in Chile (or steel companies in the United States).

    I believe we have concluded that the goverment setting requirments on software, that it buys, which are in the interest of the democratic public, is not protectionism any more than requiring certain specs when getting roads done is.

    Open source is supposed to be about freedom.

    Said who, what, where, why, when, how.

    Unfortunately, certain advocates have lost sight of that goal.

    This has nothing to do with RMS vs. Bill gates, it has everything to do with code auditability, data reliablity, and open formats for data.

    People should be free to use software which best fits their needs, whether or not it adheres to a particular programming philosophy.

    Key word there is people, isn't it? It tires me how you mix and match peoples interestes and the goverment interest. The goverment has completly diffrent responsibilites than a free citizen, this should be obvious to a Adam Smith scholar of all people.

    I suggest that open source proponents spend their time crafting interoperability guidelines rather than creating a protected environment, which artificially boosts open-source adoption while hiding it from the full rigors of competition.

    I would state again it's not a protected envirment, but my tounge might fall out. Instead I'll just move on.

    The goverment clearly has diffrent responibilities than a citizen, and thus has diffrent requirments. Some of those responsibilities require them to use OSS products, but that does not mean they need to back RMS. Even a product that releases its source under strict NDA is acceptable to the goverment, and it is perfectly valid that the goverment require this. A goverment must use open standards whenever possible, thusly they must audit the code to assure adherence to open standards. The goverment must also assure the ability to read its data in 10 years, the only way to promise this is open standards and non-expiring software, both of which are concepts of the "Goverment OSS" philosphy.

    I think it's evident that the goverment upholding its responsibilities to citizens is in no way a protectionist envirment. If the goverment set absurd tarrifs, or required

    I would love to hear a reply to this, as I'm sure I missed several points, and probably left myself wide open to some attacks. My email is

  • by Kevinv ( 21462 ) <kevin AT vanhaaren DOT net> on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @07:01AM (#4155163) Homepage
    According to the Way Back Machine:

    Feburary 8, 2001: []

    mp3 Software Decoders/Players distributed free-of-charge via the Internet for personal use of end-users

    No license fee is expected for desktop software mp3 decoders/players that are distributed free-of-charge via the Internet for personal use of end-users.

    Then in August 2001 no mention is made of the no mention of exemption for freely distributed players (and the rate is only 50 cents per player): []

    Looks like the rate was increased to $.75 in November 2001.
  • . Forcing anyone to use Open Source software

    Why is this? Citizens and Legislators see the benefit (cost, Freedom, security) in Freedom Software. We absolutely should mandate Government use it. Our favourite Free Software legislator, JAG (a must read article here []), has it to a tee, this isnt SIMPLY about cost its about long term liberation.

    People who frequent slashdot aren't all NeoLibertarians, I see more value in collectivism than individualism. "Personal Freedoms", the paper-mache-sacred-cow of the American Right (very often) goes way to far and makes all Gommint action Baaaahhhd. You and I are our Government, this government makes DECISIONS for us. California's law would simply codify the principles of Freedom Software as being determining factors in Software Purchase. This abstract construct about Licensing and Proprietary -- even the idea of Freedom w/r/t software -- is not a self-evident natural thing. We decide what it is. We created it. Now, California would like to amend the way that government bodies conceive-of this thing (licensing/intellectual property(copyright)).

    We are not talking about Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms. So basically, what Im saying is, Conservatives: Please tone down the reactionary propaganda. Free thinking reasonable people use the Government as a body to make decisions, Legislation is the embodiment of the will of the citizenry. Free Software reflects the desire of The People, why *SHOULDNT* they mandate the government us it?

  • CINCINNATI--Lawyers for Dr. Henry Heimlich, inventor of the Heimlich maneuver, warned Monday that the doctor will sue anyone who performs his patented procedure without paying royalties. "The Heimlich maneuver is a registered trademark of my client," attorney Steve Greene said. "We are prepared to protect Mr. Heimlich's proprietary rights, even if it means filing a legal injunction against any non-royalty-paying choking victims."

    (From this week's The Onion [])

  • As I've mentioned previously when this subject has come up, the cost of purchasing software is a pittance compared to the cost of deploying, maintaining, and supporting the software (I'll include training in the support category). What he says in the Oracle example is right on the money: there are aspects of buying/installing/deploying/USING the software that supercede any cost benefit of paying less (or nothing) for a CD of open source software. I still am amazed that so many people on /. don't get this (those are YOUR tax dollars that are paying for all that work). I can only assume that most of these folks have not worked for a company that has to deal with new software deployments across thousands of machines.

An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.