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Journal Journal: is back 13

Some of you may remember my technology policy / technology news site The site is reactivated. It's intended to be a more mature, and hopefully more relevant, forum than Slashdot. No ACs, a special focus on technology policy and high technology outside of the conventional corporate model, but conventional tech news as well.

I'd really appreciate it if you'd create a login on the site and submit articles. Especially original work, which hasn't always been well recieved on Slashdot - they seem to prefer linking to other people's coverage. RDF and RSS are available at and, so you can keep track of articles from elsewhere.


User Journal

Journal Journal: My Employer is hiring developers

Considering how many posts I have seen about the bad prospects for employment in software development, and the fact that my employer is not receiving any response to its job postings, I thought I should post the job here. I have checked with HR and they approve of this posting. Contact person is Joellen Brennan (email:

Sun Nuclear Corporation Job Posting

Full Time Position Salary: Competitive with Market

This position requires at least an AS in Computer Science or equivalent (BS degree preferred) and a minimum of 2 years work experience in C++ Windows programming

Available Position: Software Developer


Sun Nuclear Corporation seeks a C++ software developer to create and maintain Windows applications for new and existing products. This is a full-time position with competitive salary and full benefits.

Successful applicant will
        Develop Windows object-oriented application software that communicates with embedded software via serial, USB, and Ethernet links.
        Design, document, debug, and test new product software as well as support existing software.
        Work closely with product managers, physicists, and hardware engineers and will provide occasional customer telephone support.
        Good written and oral communication skills are necessary, and good math skills are a plus.
The ability to complete individual projects with minimal supervision as well as an ability to work well with a team are essential.

The following additional experience is desired:
        Borland C++ Builder
        Programming semi real time Windows PC applications
        Windows PC interfacing to embedded systems
        Serial, USB, and Ethernet hardware communications experience
        Small database applications
        Use of defect tracking tools
        Use of Configuration Management Tools
        Unit testing
        Knowledge or experience with ionizing radiation

Sun Nuclear Corporation, located in Melbourne Florida, designs and manufactures radiation measurement equipment used for quality assurance in oncology and nuclear medicine. Sun Nuclear designs, manufactures, and markets a wide range of embedded, PDA, and PC applications to support its products, as well as manufacturing and testing applications. For more information, see our web site at Sun Nuclear Corporation is an equal opportunity employer.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Signature limits

Today I tried posting with a signature. I tried using a signature which was under 120 characters, as stipulated, but containing about 55 carriage returns. The carriage returns did not appear, which was half what I expected, but what surprised me was that the sig on posts which had already been posted would change when I updated my sig in my preferences. In other words, unlike USENET, I can change my sig after the fact.

Not that I ever use a sig. I just wanted to see what would happen. I mainly wanted to see how hard the McQuary-like limit on /. sigs actually was. If you haven't heard of the McQuary Limit, see Of course, that is a 320 character limit, but hey, Taco's house, Taco's rules.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Have you passed through the nerd filter? 4

There is a "nerd filter" that people like me tend to pass through without realizing. On the other side of this filter, we are very likely to meet people we know, and in general people like us.

My most recent episode was at the 9000 foot visitor station on Mauna Kea. The folks there said that I shouldn't attempt to drive up to the telescopes without a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. So, I went in the parking lot and accosted occupants of the first 4-wheel-drive vehicle that came by. The driver of said vehicle had seen me lecture in San Francisco. I got my ride.

Just by standing at that 9000 foot visitor station, I'd passed through the nerd filter.

Then, a few weeks ago, I happened to come upon a local radio club's ham radio field day operation while hiking in the woods with my wife. An co-worker from 10 years ago walked up. It turned out he'd just gotten his ham license.

This stuff happens all of the time. Of course it helps that I am somewhat recognizable in tech circles, so people who know of me tend to walk up, but on the other hand I am not that well known.

What are your experiences beyond the nerd filter?


User Journal

Journal Journal: No one liked my neutron story.

I posted a story about my old days working on FUZZY I on a thread about the Sandia Z machine. I thought the story was good, and on subject (at least as much as some other posts), yet I received no moderation. Did the moderators not believe the story, or did no one actually notice it? Maybe I'm just a poor writer.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Bruce Perens on NPR's Talk of The Nation: Science Friday 4

On Friday January 17, Bruce Perens will be interviewed on National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation: Science Friday", with host Ira Flatow. The subject will be the philosophy and business of Open Source software. The interview will take place between 2:20 P.M. and 3:00 EST, that's 11:20 to 12:00 PST. Find your local radio station here . For general information on the program, see the Science Friday site .
User Journal

Journal Journal: How Slashdot Made Me Famous :-) 8

I don't mean "famous" seriously, but I seem to have become somewhat well-known outside of traditional hacker circles. I try to use that to get our issues heard.

It came to me today that some of what drove me to become well-known outside of our little circle was frustration with Slashdot.

I used to post here a lot, and Slashdot was where I sent most of my bulletins first. Then I started to be frustrated with the editorial policies, submissions being nuked in favor of less important stuff, the AC and troll situation, etc. So, I consciously looked around for other venues in which to publish. First, I started, which was good (and which I intend to make work again) but didn't pick up more than about 5000 readers. Then I started sending stuff to ZDnet. Surprisingly, ZDnet was much more willing to publish my stuff than Slashdot had been, especially since I didn't want to get paid. After a while, I shifted to their sister publication CNET . I also sent some things to The Register and other publications. All were very willing to publish my stuff. It turned out that Slashdot was much more willing to link to stuff that I'd written on CNET than it was to accept my postings directly, not that it mattered as much once that content was on CNET. I guess that fits the format - I guess Slashdot doesn't want to be a producer of original material - they want to be an aggregator of stuff published elsewhere.

During this time, I was also doing a lot of things that drew attention. Forming a VC firm, working for HP, doing my gig with the W3C patent policy board, etc. Being widely read helped me get to do these things, and doing these things made me more widely read. The press started calling me, and I developed good relationships with a lot of reporters. When I left HP, I got a half-page in the New York Times print business section, with a big photo.

I probably wouldn't be getting all of this press were it not for Slashdot "pushing me out of the cradle". I'm not sure, however, that this was good for Slashdot.


User Journal

Journal Journal: NY Times Publishes an Article About Perens Book Series 2

Please see this article in the NY Times. Woo Hoo! This is the end of the publicity except for a few magazines with long lead times. We got a good deal of coverage, and IMO it's always a good idea to put the successes of the Free Software movement in front of the people. Hopefully the coverage will inspire others to do free books. I have gotten a lot of writing proposals, but can use more. Please hit my book series page if you would like to write.



User Journal

Journal Journal: I Hit The Slashdot Comment Limit! 13

I posted 30 replies to the story about my Open Source book series with Prentice Hall PTR. The slashcode stopped me at that point. It says you can only post to Slashdot 30 times in 4 hours. It won't even let me do it as an AC. So, the software has cut off comments from the "Horse's Mouth" in favor of ones from the other end of the horse :-) It doesn't seem productive of information. Moderation of the previous comments in the article should be counted in this limit - I haven't checked, but I could probably have made it a good deal of the way from 0 to the 50 karma cap with those 30 comments.


User Journal

Journal Journal: Answers to your questions about the W3C patent policy

From: Pierre Machard
> Do you have any reason to think that the position you defend will
> satisfy Patent holders ?

Some of them have threatened to walk off of W3C in response to even so
mild a position as the draft policy. Nobody thinks they'll really do it.
But your question shows the problem: we can't control their behavior
through the standards organization. We need their cooperation to make
this work. Thus, we can't take a draconian position. The only way around
this is to get legislation, which is a worthy but uphill battle.

From: Nick Phillips
> I presume you've seen Rik van Riel's suggestion as posted
> to one of the SPI lists earlier. In fact it wouldn't surprise me if the same
> things triggered his message as yours, either directly or indirectly.

A number of people have suggested defensive patent pools. I think
I remember doing so in a 1997 article in . The three
problems are:

        1. Getting inventions.
        2. Getting money to file for patents. This is both legal fees to
              format the patent claim (which has to be right if you want to
              be enforcible), and filing fees.
        3. Getting money to file lawsuits. If you can't sue, nobody's going
              to be very interested in your claims.

I think that #1 could be handled by the community, #2 could at least be
started with pro-bono assistance from legal and engineering students, etc.
#3 doesn't have to come until later. If you want to run with the project,
please do so.

From: Wouter Verhelst
> It may not be a bad idea to have patent holders turn to a different
> standards body than people that object to software patents. If there are
> expensive 'standards' from one standards body and free standards from
> another, I feel that people would use the free standards, so that the
> patent holders would lose. Even if they have their own standard.

Well, there are about 100 existing organizations they could turn to,
including IETF (which has a joke of a patent policy IMO) and OASIS. It
would be very easy to do. I don't think making them do that would win
us anything.

From: James Antill
From Bruce:
> > The code that makes use of
> > the patented principle must be under the MIT license, which allows a
> > scope-limited patent license. That may be linked into GPL code and
> > distributed.
> How does this work?
> Say I have "xmms", which is GPL code that I didn't write ... and I
> want to implement some w3c std. that contains one of these patents. So
> I do the code as an MIT license, but I'm going to have to link it to
> the GPL'd code ... it's going to be a _derivative work_ ... so the
> code is basically GPL, no matter what I put at the top of the file.

The GPL terms on linking are that all parts of the derivative work must be
under a license with _no_additional_restrictions_ on top of those in the
GPL. The GPL does not prevent you from _removing_restrictions_, as long
as you are the copyright holder on the portion of the code in question.

From: Andre Lehovich
> I've been trying to comment on the draft patent policy.
> The link below -- to approve inclusion of my comments in the
> official archive -- doesn't work for me, returing a 404.

It's breaking for everyone, I think. I notified Danny Weitzner, the Patent
Policy Working Group chair.

Attention anyone whose message doesn't appear here: thanks for writing!
As usual, I am buried in mail and stuff to do, so although I read them
all, I can't answer every message individually.


        Bruce Perens

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"Experience has proved that some people indeed know everything." -- Russell Baker