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Comment Re:Licensing (Score 1) 99

There can be no connection between open source and the end of programming as a profession. The open-source hobbyist programmer is substantially in the minority. As far as can be measured, most open-source development is paid. For large projects this is invariably the case.

The necessity for the existence of the software vendor, or the necessity to preserve any rights for such, has not been established. You can talk all you want about how good it is for the customer, but you're not optimizing with their profit in mind, so let's be honest about that. Also, distributing the source and expecting that people will not copy it is wildly optimistic.

It must be a bizarre world you live in. Selling copies of software is almost quaint.

Comment Licensing (Score 1) 99

The business model of selling copies of software is becoming scarce. You're essentially arguing that this is solely due to licensing. I see it more as a market adjustment where we're collectively deciding to treat non-scarce commodities realistically.

SaaS is the same pig (selling copies) in a different blanket, so you should adjust your rant accordingly. The three pillars of the open source model are selling services, donations, and advertising. You might add a fourth in monetizing big data, but that pretty much tends to go hand in hand with advertising anyway.

The idea that people will stop writing software if they can't sell it is ludicrous. Taken to a logical extreme, you're implying that if you could not sell MS Office, people would not need word processors. If there is one concept that needs to be forever laid to rest as an argument, it is that people will stop doing something intrinsic to human nature because of some external phenomenon. People will stop writing code, and needing to have code written, just after we create the last piece of art, and sell it as the last business transaction. Approximately never, in other words.

Now, as far as your proposed licensing goes, since you haven't stipulated terms under which the binaries can change hands, they can't. Simply providing software to someone does not grant them the right to redistribute it. You must explicitly grant someone the right to modify and redistribute copyrighted works, or abrogate these rights by making the work public domain. Whether or not they have source code is pointless if they have no legal right to do anything but read it. So, as stated, your scheme is not compatible with the GPL and doesn't fall into any meaningful category of "free software".

Further, unless you've made something public domain, there's no way for downstream vendors to change the terms under which the code is distributed. If you have made it public domain, your ability to enforce control is null and void.

In summary, your licensing as written is a great way for customers to get sued for copyright infringement. Fixing that flaw either makes it public domain or mostly identical to some sort of copyleft license. To summarize the summary, you may want to read more about copyrights and basic economics. To summarize the summary of the summary, people are a problem.*

*with apologies to D.A.

Comment Work For Hire (Score 2) 99

When I write software for other people, I explicitly retain the rights to anything I write, unless the client pays extra.

As a contractor there's no reason to do work-for-hire. Legally it will not be considered such unless it [a] falls into a protected category, and [b] an agreement is signed saying that the work is "for hire".

And yes, the reason that I retain rights is so that I can open-source anything I please. We can have a separate discussion about the copyrights, but your words had better be writ large on a stack of banknotes.

Between open source products, SaaS, and the Internet in general, the idea of selling copies of software seems to be dying an unlamented death.

Comment Re:Rationalism vs Empiricism (Score 1) 128

Actually in the context of epistemology, it means exactly what I said it means. The wikipedia article you refer to conflates rationalism and empiricism, I refer you to my previous post for an explanation of the differences.

You're also ignoring centuries of christian apologists and philosophers, scores of whom were better logicians than either of us: I may single out Descartes and Kant. Faith is an axiom, not necessarily an irrationality. The axioms of Christianity and those of mathematics may differ, but their applicability to the real world is problematic for the exact same reason.

Comment Rationalism vs Empiricism (Score 1) 128

No, it's not about facts.

It's about epistemologies: How you arrive at those facts. Most scientists follow an empirical empistemology. The rest of the world usually follows a more rational one, or historical (i.e. something is true because a book says so).

A rational epistemology holds that anything that can be proved logically is true. An empiricist holds that anything that can be demonstrated experimentally is true. Some statements can be true in either paradigm, but it can make a big difference as to how you arrive at these conclusions.

And it's not that either is necessarily invalid, or even that they're entirely separable. You have tradeoffs: with rationality, you can prove things that aren't necessarily 'true' in the real world. With empiricism, your truths are only valid to the limits of measurement: there's very little in the way of absolute truth to be had.

The clashes between science and the church were epistemological. Only one of these things can be the ultimate test of knowledge. So far the empiricists are winning if you count the fruits of their works, and the rationalists are winning by sheer numbers.

Comment Re:Interesting post from Red Hat employee at Phoro (Score 1) 380

Adam, that really doesn't cut it as an excuse. Yes, it's a new installer, and this fact is well advertised. But if you have so little faith in the installer that you're cautioning people not to upgrade to F18, why the hell would you even release it?

This is becoming too common in the Linux world, with distros being released with half-implemented pet projects of its developers (Unity, PulseAudio, Fedora's new installer) under the guise of a final release. Rough rough rough, and not something people coming from say OS X or even Windows 7 would expect. Yes it's free, but it's also very off-putting and tends to reinforce the idea that you get what you pay for.

First, you're four years late on the PulseAudio rant, Unity works pretty well even if you don't like it, and you definitely didn't let the existence of Windows 8 get in the way of a good rant.

Nevertheless, this isn't exactly a new thing in the software world. It would be easier to find a project that avoided the practice, and in regards to shipping an operating system? Well, you just let me know when you manage to ship a bug free OS.

Red Hat isn't even the worst offender here. I've singled out Win8 already, but (and I apologize for mentioning it to a non-technical audience) Ruby has managed to release a new version of the language with "experimental features". The justification I got was something along the lines of "It's okay because none of the major libraries will rely on them."

However, I would urge everyone to be charitable. Change is good, even if it's rarely a smooth process. To the programmers reading this: let he who has never shipped a bug (or broken an API) throw the first stone. To the non-programmers: "We apologize for the inconvenience."

Comment Permanent Fund Dividend (Score 1) 586

The State of Alaska's Permanent Fund Dividend, to which you are no doubt referring, pays between $1000 and $2000 dollars per annum to all natural persons who have [a] resided in the state for at least one year, and [b] applied for it. It is *not* meant to be an income guarantee. The point of the Permanent Fund was that future generations will be deprived of the value of that oil, so it would be nice if someone besides the ludicrously rich oil companies had something to show for it afterwards.

I have no idea whether you're arguing for or against a minimum income, but regardless, the Alaska PFD does not in any meaningful sense qualify.

Comment Tennyson - Ulysses (Score 4, Insightful) 133

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

It is not enough to have the ability to change the world. It is a rare combination of chance and circumstance, far more than any particular genius. Archimedes could not have formulated the questions that led to quantum electrodynamics. Nor is it fair to select a particular point of inflection out of a continuum of progress -- which discovery since the invention of the transistor is responsible for the processor in your computer?

You judge beyond your ken, and far above your station. I hope that you are ashamed of your comment, but console myself that it will likely receive all the attention that it deserves.

Comment Bait and Switch (Score 4, Interesting) 238

Why are you surprised?

There are a couple fundamental issues with capitalism that are failing to be addressed here: monopolies, and natural monopolies.

Capitalism really is less about competition and more about accumulation of capital. The competitive behavior is the goal, but it comes with the built-in problem of monopolies. You can't allow people to 'win' this particular game. Taken to an extreme, you might end up with one company that simply owned everything.

Capitalism in this sense is kind of a bait-and-switch. We're sold on the idea of an efficient competitive marketplace, but end up with monopolies and rent-seeking.

The problem of natural monopolies is even worse. Your ability to start a competing business is almost entirely a function of how much initial capital it takes to enter said market. It's far easier to start a restaurant or web company than to start a company that lays undersea fiber optic cable. This is why people talk about 'barriers to entry' as a bad thing: they reduce the efficiency of the market. Further, there are some services where competition would have negative utility -- no one really needs multiple companies laying water, power, or sewage lines to their home.

The answer to both of these problems is government. The government's purpose is to prevent or eliminate these market failures.

With natural monopolies, there is no real purpose behind allowing them to make a profit. It's a form of taxation, and can justly be called a theft from the public. These markets are the natural purview of government.

We have a slightly larger toolbox for dealing with large companies. We can break them up entirely, levy progressive business taxes, or subsidize potential competitors.

We need to start divorcing the idea of competition from the idea of capitalism: they're not synonymous. Yes, I am anti-capitalist -- but very pro-competition. Which side are you on?

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What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite. -- Bertrand Russell, "Skeptical Essays", 1928