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Hello, I'm Ian Allen, Ian D. Allen, and often Ian! Allen or Ian! D. Allen too. (All those combinations are for the search engines.) I was born in Ottawa [Canada] and have lived in Deep River [Ontario], Pointe Claire [Quebec], St.Lucia [West Indies], Toronto [Ontario], Hillsburgh (Everdale Place) [Ontario], and Waterloo [Ontario]. I now live in Ottawa [Ontario] since 1992.
I also maintain backup copies of my teaching web site. Don't use the backup site. Use the above links instead.
Dance and Movement
USENET Postings (back to 1981)
I've posted to Usenet News Groups since they first appeared at the University of Waterloo in the early 1980's. My userid idallen was unique on USENET up until 1995. The two links below show you all my USENET postings. The Google archives go back to 1981 and are sorted with newest articles first:
Discover and practice the science and playground that is Contact Improvisation. Strengthen your body, open your mind and awaken your instincts. Explore sensory and physical experiments of shared touch, weight, gravity and momentum and expand into three-dimensional space, spontaneous composition, trust and risk. Engage in scores and open dancing and experience serious play - matching wits and methods, sharing common ground and sudden miracles - by surrendering to and shaping the dance in the moment. Be ready for joint creations with formal and open structures and games, scores and scenarios ranging from the whimsical to poetic, cooperative to aggressive, simple to complex. (Knee pads are recommended.)
I'm a Unix/Linux system administrator ("sysadmin").
I'm a big fan of xkcd.com
Principles only mean something if you stick by them when they are inconvenient. -- "Laine Hanson" (played by Joan Allen) from the movie "The Contender"
Why I use Linux, and some of my Linux background .
"How can I tell you what I think until I've heard what I say?"
The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails. - William Arthur Ward
The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him... The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself... All progress depends on the unreasonable man. - George Bernard Shaw
For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. -- H.L. Mencken
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" - Upton Sinclair (1935)
"It takes two people to make a relationship difficult, but it takes only one person to make a relationship better." - Harville Hendrix - http://www.harvillehendrix.com/watch.html
The situation is quite likely urgent. We may be near a tipping point.
In a complex system, the only way to identify a tipping point is from
the other side. The only thing we know for certain is that the longer
we wait the more likely we are to pass one. If we continue operating
according to our sabre-tooth-tiger reflex, where we need to see the
danger big, violent, and immediate, before we react, we may be doomed,
because at that point in a complex system when the danger is big,
violent, and immediate, probably no action would be sufficient.
-- Greg Craven (wonderingmind42)
[On dismantling the national child care programme:] Giving a family money (tax credits) isn't the same as building social infrastructure. We improve roads; we don't give people tax credits to allow them to buy thicker and thicker tires. -IAN!
What Charles Darwin taught us about human origins is fully accepted in the conveniently compartmentalised science of biology; but, the implications for human history, modern society, economics, etc. we are not facing up to: the fact that they are all deeply rooted in our primitive, animal nature, which is incapable of understanding or adapting to the need for limits, so vital for achieving sustainability on our finite and vulnerable planet. -- http://www.spaceship-earth.org/PoS/Plundering_of_a_planet.htm
In the modern world it is perfectly normal for lots of people to make extensive use of a car and fly off on holiday once or twice a year. Our biological programming and social conditioning thus respond by telling us that it must be okay for us to do so as well. On the other hand, our recently acquired, more enlightened, human nature (e.g. our intellect, in its literal sense) tells us that what may be of little consequence for our planet when just a few (million) people do it, is likely to have catastrophic consequences if 100's or 1000's of millions of people do the same thing. In the past, playing safe for the best chances of survival, meant following the norm and doing what most other people did. But that has now changed. In the modern world, such behaviour has become a threat to our survival. -- http://www.spaceship-earth.org/PoS/Uncommon_sense.htm
It is in the nature of living things to overrun their habitats unless checked, possession of a forebrain and opposable thumbs does not exempt humans from this. If anything it means that the "check" will come very late and harshly, and that our collective response will come too late when alternatives are few. -- Paul Vixie, http://fm.vix.com/terra/climate/iberian-drought-2005.html
Technical workers are problem solvers; so, don't become a problem. If management policies or rules are perceived by technical workers as a hurdle to getting work done, they will come up with creative ways to work around the "management problem". -- Advice from eWeek to managers of technical staff in early 2006.
It is less useful to think of the child is an immature adult than it is to think of the adult is an atrophied child - Keith Johnstone
Being chronologically challenged, I have been in this game for too long, written too many briefs, and been on too many delegations to Ottawa to address various Commons committees to be sanguine about saying, "The poor dears need some more knowledge. If they only knew what I know, the world would be a better place to live." One begins most of these civic journeys with the idea that those in power are well-intentioned but ill-informed, and I am sorry to say that many of us ended up by saying that those in power are very well-informed but ill-intentioned. They (the politicians) have no intention of doing what I might consider the right and appropriate thing. -- Professor Emeritus Ursula Franklin, University of Toronto, quoted in CCPA Monitor, March 1997. http://wsp.bctf.ca/bctfnews/archive/1996-97/1997-06-18.html
The skillful ability to move is at the very core of what it is to be a
conscious perceiving agent. [...] The capacity to move and the capacity
to see are interwoven. [...] The world comes into focus as a kind of
dynamic of trying to make sense of it. [...] The way I think about
what human consciousness is, in a way, it's dance.
-- Alva Noë
From my ongoing inquiry into what's needed in order to cultivate clear boundaries, I've developed a workshop called "101 Ways to Say No to Contact Improvisation." The premise of the workshop is that until a person has the confidence and ability to say no to something, he or she won't have the trust and capacity to fully say yes to it. In the workshop, we explore physical and verbal skills to say no to dances, to touch, to being lifted, to weight exchange, to momentum, to manipulation. -- Martin Keogh, http://www.martinkeogh.com/resources/101WaystoSayNotoContactImprovisation.html
[2m30s] "I wrote an internal appreciation about that computer [the Apple Lisa] in which I said this is a catastrophe. This is the end of language in relation to computers. This is the implementation of the "cave man" interface: you point, and you grunt. And if we reduce the interaction between human beings and computers to pointing and grunting, then we miss the role of language in the evolution of human mind and human consciousness. Language is what makes our brains bigger. If we don't use languages to relate to computers, neither their brains nor our brains will grow in the way that they are supposed to grow." -- Eben Moglen, Free Software Foundation: www.fsf.org, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKxzK9xtSXM
Our future ability to communicate freely depends on keeping our words in public and open standard formats that are not controlled by who can afford to buy the licenses to read them. Do not send me any Microsoft Word documents; they are too expensive to read. -IAN!
People think that stealing Microsoft software only hurts Microsoft; they're wrong. Alas, people aren't going to realize the proprietary bind they've gotten themselves into and switch to using free and open-source software until they stop stealing all that Microsoft software. -IAN!
The difference between free and freedom:
Whenever I hear people discussing GNU/Linux's prospects for becoming more popular, I'm reminded of a comment by Tommy Douglas, the social democrat who became a hero for introducing universal health care into Canada. If he could press a button and gain a million voters who did not understand his policies, he said, then he would not press that button. He meant that he was not in politics simply to be elected, but to gain supporters for his ideals -- and that he was determined not to lose sight of his long term goals while pursing short term ones.
The comment resonates for me because, increasingly, in the rush for market share, many people seem to lose sight of the fact that the goal of GNU/Linux and free software is not popularity in itself, but the wide acceptance of a set of ideals.
At its most basic, free software is about helping users gain control of their computers so that they can participate unhindered in the digital conversations of the networks and the Internet. It's about installing software freely, rather than being dictated to by the manufacturer. It's about using your computer the way that you want, instead of ceding control to lock-down devices installed by software vendors without permission on your machine. -- Bruce Byfield, http://itmanagement.earthweb.com/osrc/article.php/3733286
Free and Open Source Software [FOSS] is about making good quality software, software that can *DO* things. If you want to use it, you're expected to invest time in learning how to use it. It was created and given to you, free of charge, by people who invested a lot of their own time in it for no personal gain. The least you could do to repay their contribution is invest a little time of your own before you complain that it doesn't work like the parallel Windows software. -- Dominic Humphries, http://linux.oneandoneis2.org/LNW.htm
That's actually what's most exciting to me--that, because of the nature of these open-source projects, other people can learn from all of the things that we're learning here. In a commercial environment, you usually have proprietary software, it is closed source. People see the output, but they don't get to see the process. At Mozilla--let's say, Firefox--you can see both the output and all the steps that went into it. -- Window Snyder, http://news.com.com/2008-7355_3-6117896.html
I think it's important to always carry enough technology to restart civilization, should it be necessary. -- Mark W. Tilden, http://www.you-review.net/features/interviews/mark-tilden/1/
One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the oval office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a world view despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. -- Bill Moyers, http://www.tompaine.com/articles/the_delusional_is_no_longer_marginal.php
The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic State itself. That in its essence, is Fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt, Message proposing the "Standard Oil" Monopoly Investigation, 1938
One of the things I routinely tell people is that if it's in the news, don't worry about it. By definition, "news" means that it hardly ever happens. If a risk is in the news, then it's probably not worth worrying about. When something is no longer reported -- automobile deaths, domestic violence -- when it's so common that it's not news, then you should start worrying. [...] (More people are killed every year by pigs than by sharks, which shows you how good we are at evaluating risk.) -- Bruce Schneier, http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-0505.html
The hacker ethic that played such a large part in advancing computer science, building gcc, building Linux, indeed building the world's computer systems and engineering the biggest peaceful economic boom in history, is more than just a thirst for knowledge about computers. It's the obsessive belief that knowledge exists to be shared, that helping someone by making their computer run better (or their air conditioner) is one of life's joys, and that the rules that prevent sharing and helping exist to be broken. [...] The hero is the one who knows how to fix things, and fixes them -- despite not being "authorized." The evil is the paperwork we construct around ourselves, the forms and regulations that take the place of people freely helping each other. -- Jamie (of "Jamie and Emmett"), http://slashdot.org/features/00/04/22/0940241.shtml
The basic difference is this: hackers build things, crackers break them. -- http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/hacker-howto.html
The greater good of our society and our need to educate our populous for the benefit of all outweighs the narrow rights of the author to get paid in the short term. Our society and culture is the infrastructure that facilitates the creation of artistic works and therefore we reinvest a small portion of these works in the education of our authors so that we may have even more and better artistic works in the future. -- John Lange
Overprotecting intellectual property is as harmful as underprotecting it. Culture is impossible without a rich public domain. Nothing today, likely nothing since we tamed fire, is genuinely new: Culture, like science and technology, grows by accretion, each new creator building on the works of those who came before. Overprotection stifles the very creative forces it's supposed to nurture. -- http://wikiquote.org/wiki/Alex_Kozinski
The proper balance [in copyright] lies not only in recognizing the creator's rights but in giving due weight to their limited nature... excessive control by holders of copyrights and other forms of intellectual property may unduly limit the ability of the public domain to incorporate and embellish creative innovation in the long-term interests of society as a whole... -- Supreme Court of Canada, Théberge v Galerie d'Art du PetitChamplain inc (2002) 210 DLR (4th) 385 (SCC) at para 30.
If you own a house, it's yours until you sell it. But if you have a neat idea, or write a fine book, it's yours for only a limited period, after which it enters the public domain, where everyone can have free and equal access to it. Theoretically, a copyright should last just long enough to give people an incentive to create and innovate. -- James Surowiecki, http://www.newyorker.com/talk/content/?020121ta_talk_surowiecki
There's no intrinsic reason why someone should continue to get paid for something long, long after the labor they expended on it is complete. Architects don't get paid every time someone steps into one of their buildings. They're paid to design the building, and that's that. The ostensible reason we have patent and copyright law is, as the US Constitution says, "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts." But travesties like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act don't promote the progress of science; they actively discourage it. So do software and biotechnology patents. The patent system was intended to allow inventors to profit for a limited time on particular inventions, not to allow huge technology companies to put a stranglehold on innovation by patenting every tiny advance they make. -- "The End Of Copyright", Ernest Adams, http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20051128/adams_01.shtml
Viewing creative works as property, however, leads to the presumption that they can and should be owned and controlled forever. But as we have seen, this is not what the Copyright Clause of the Constitution envisions, nor is it consistent with a free society. -- "The progress of science and useful arts: why copyright today threatens intellectual freedom", The Free Expression Policy Project, http://www.fepproject.org/policyreports/copyright2dintro.html
The primary rationale for Intellectual Property protection is, first and foremost, to promote societal development by encouraging technological innovation. The legal monopoly granted to IP owners is an exceptional departure from the general principle of competitive markets as the best guarantee for securing the interest of society. The rationale for the exception is not that extraction of monopoly profits by the innovator is, of and in itself, good for society and so needs to be promoted. Rather, that properly controlled, such a monopoly, by providing an incentive for innovation, might produce sufficient benefits for society to compensate for the immediate loss to consumers as a result of the existence of a monopoly market instead of a competitive market. Monopoly rights, then, granted to IP holders is a special incentive that needs to be carefully calibrated by each country, in the light of its own circumstances, taking into account the overall costs and benefits of such protection. -- Statement by India at the Inter-Sessional Intergovernmental Meeting on a Development Agenda For WIPO, April 11-13, 2005, http://www.digital-copyright.ca/discuss/4756
Creativity and Innovation always builds on the past. The past always tries to control the creativity that builds upon it. Free societies enable the future by limiting this power of the past. Ours is less and less a free society. -- Lawrence Lessig, http://www.oreillynet.com/lpt/a/2641
The U.S. is rapidly on the path to becoming the world's leading privacy rogue nation. - Joel Reidenberg (http://news.com.com/2100-1023-253826.html)
The problem with privacy is that nobody cares about their privacy until after it's been violated. Only when Bill Gates discovered that his e-mail could be searched for a message about cutting off "Netscape's Air Supply" did he realize the danger in logging it. Many people only realize the danger in their records when they enter a lawsuit, or a custody battle. They all thought it would never happen to them. -- Brad Templeton, http://www.templetons.com/brad/gmail.html
But, it is no less true that individuals are not free and are robbed of dignity if they must go through life knowing that third parties, and particularly agents of the state, may at any given time be looking over their shoulders monitoring, recording, cross-referencing, analyzing and possibly misconstruing everywhere they go, everything they do, every human contact, every transaction, every communication. That is why the fundamental human right of privacy is enshrined right alongside the right to be free from racial discrimination in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Privacy is, in the resounding words of that distinguished resident of New Brunswick, retired Supreme Court Justice Gérard Laforest, "at the heart of liberty in the modern state". -- Privacy Commissioner of Canada
In May 2004, a parliamentary committee recommended changes to Canadian copyright law modeled in part on controversial features of an American law known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The committee characterized these changes as "responsive to the needs of all Canadians". The truth is that these proposed changes would drain millions of dollars from Canada's provincial education systems, threaten national security research and personal privacy, harm Canadian culture by enlarging the billion dollar Canadian culture deficit, and put Canadian business at a competitive disadvantage. http://www.cippic.ca/en/projects-cases/copyright-law-reform/truth.html
A few years back Harold Evans of the London Sunday Times, observed that the challenge facing American newspapers "is not to stay in business -- it is to stay in journalism." As corporations' authoritarian, profit-driven consciousness comes to dominate both media and governance, you can expect a lot more serial celebrity scandals and even less news on the way things work or anything that really counts. -- W. David Kubiak, http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0312/S00040.htm
We have grave concerns about the potential use of DRMs by rightholders to override existing copyright exceptions," its statement said. In the long term, the restrictions would not expire when a work went out of copyright, it said, and it may be impossible to trace the rights holders by that time. "It is probable that no key would still exist to unlock the DRMs," Laca said. "For libraries this is serious." "This will fundamentally threaten the longstanding and accepted concepts of fair dealing and library privilege and undermine, or even prevent, legitimate public good access." -- http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4675280.stm
The difference between protecting your Privacy and Digital Rights Management (DRM):
Privacy: In privacy scenarios there are three types of people: (1) a sender, (2) a receiver, and (3) an attacker. For example: you want to send your credit-card to an online store; an attacker wants to capture the number. Your personal security here concerns itself with protecting the integrity and secrecy of a message (your number) in transit. That act of personal privacy and security makes no attempt to restrict the disposition of your credit-card number after it is safely received by the store; it merely wants to secure the number in transit to the store by protecting it from attackers.
Use-restriction (DRM): In DRM use-restriction scenarios, there are only two types of people: (1) a sender and (2) a receiver/attacker. Remarkably, the receiver is also presumed to be an attacker who is trying to misuse the message. In effect, in DRM scenarios, there are only senders and attackers; the concept of a friendly "receiver" does not exist. I transmit a song to you so that you can listen to it, but I must stop you from copying the song, or perhaps stop you from listening to it more than you've paid for, or perhaps I must tell your computer to delete the song after your license expires. To be effective, this kind of DRM use-restriction requires that the equipment used to send, carry, and receive the song be totally under the sender's control so that the sender can fully control what you can do with the senders's song. Your computer that receives the sender's DRM content is no longer your computer, since for DRM to be effective the computer has to obey the sender's commands, not your commands. (If you could make your computer ignore the sender's commands, the DRM would not be effective.)
Understood this way, DRM use-restriction and your personal privacy are completely antithetical. A computer that is capable of being remotely controlled by a third party who is adversarial to its owner is a computer that is capable of betraying its owner's personal privacy in numerous ways without the owner's consent or knowledge. The only way you can protect your privacy is if you control your own computer. If you control your computer, DRM can't work.
A computer that can never be used to override its owner's wishes is by definition a computer that is better at protecting its owner's privacy. DRM requires you to give up control of your computer. As is often the case in security, increasing the security on one axis weakens the security on another.
-- original idea by Cory Doctorow (modified from original by Ian!)
[...] religions are owned; thoughts are owned. If everything can be tracked, someone will want to find a way to bill for it. -- Karl Schroeder speaking about his novel "Permanence"
Should the government be suing Microsoft for violating antitrust laws? Perhaps. But doesn't it seem kind of odd for government lawyers to be typing Microsoft Word documents about how bad Microsoft is? If the federales were serious about increasing competition in the world of software it would be much more effective simply to convert government operations to open-source software. -- http://philip.greenspun.com/humor/bill-gates.html
Here's what Bill Gates told Microsoft employees in 1991:
"If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today...A future start-up with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose."
Mr. Gates' secret is out now--he too was a "communist;" he, too, recognized that software patents were harmful--until Microsoft became one of these giants. Now Microsoft aims to use software patents to impose whatever price it chooses on you and me. And if we object, Mr. Gates will call us "communists." -- Richard Stallman, http://news.com.com/2010-1071-5576230.html
[E]ven if we pretended that Technical Protection Measures could work, we would have to acknowledge that they would be designed to enforce the wishes of the privilege holders, not the law. -- Matthew Skala, http://ansuz.sooke.bc.ca/lawpoli/copyright/consultations/otcpymtg.php
One of the criteria of beauty is brevity. Bugs increase more than linearly with the size of a program. So, a shorter program will also have the very practical benefit of having fewer bugs. -- Paul Graham, http://www.onlamp.com/pub/a/onlamp/2004/05/27/paul_graham_interview.html
Having software be Open Source or not is not a technology choice, but a methodology choice around the creation of policy. An analogy would be to requiring that construction workers [abandon] building and safety codes, or suggesting that Government Access to Information laws are costly and thus should be abolished. Rational people do not suggest that it would be a good decision to save money and ignore these codes and critical governance accountability measures, but that is the essence what Steve Ballmer is asking people to do with software/policy decisions. -- Russell McOrmond http://lists.canopener.ca/pipermail/discuss/2004-February/001389.html
The old Internet had one level, that of human beings, and they
posted what interested them. Contemporary Internet users may find
this hard to believe; but, most of the content was free, and
everyone had something to offer (there were no pure consumers).
-- Paul Lutus http://www.arachnoid.com/freeware/index.html
Also, I have dumped Windows and now use Linux exclusively. I got tired
of being inexorably drawn toward the police-state mentality that Bill
Gates seems to prefer. Imagine buying a pizza, taking it home, and then
discovering you have to to call the pizza parlor for permission to eat it.
Then imagine having to call the pizza place again, the next day, in
order to be allowed to give the leftovers to your cat. You may object
to this comparison - after all, Windows isn't a pizza. I agree. A
pizza is worth more and lasts longer without collapsing.
-- Paul Lutus http://www.arachnoid.com/generalfaq/
The likely path of the Internet is one which finds it more stable but
less interesting. Its financial transactions will be more trustworthy
while its range of users' business models will narrow. Its attached
consumer hardware will be easier to understand and use for purposes
preconceived by its manufacturers, while being newly off-limits to
amateur tinkering. Had such a state of affairs evolved by the Internet's
twenty-fifth anniversary in 1994, it is plausible that many of its
central uses of today would never have developed, because the software
that underlies those uses would have been deprived of a platform through
which to be readily distributed to and accepted by a mass market.
What is being built as a gated community -- offering safety and stability to its residents, and a predictable landlord to whom to complain when something goes wrong -- is in fact a prison, one whose confinement is less than obvious, since what it blocks is generativity -- the ability to have a shot at affecting the future without a regulating party's permission or consultation. It blocks the potential for transformative uses yet to be invented, a potential that is likely not in the minds of consumers when they buy their PCs -- but that they can cherish nonetheless should they have a chance to experience it as it unfolds. The network engineers will still be able to enjoy generative computing on platforms that do not run these operating systems. But the rest of the public will no longer automatically be brought along for the ride.
Such systemic barriers are deeply offensive to the values of Internet designers, and they represent a drastic transformation of today's Net from an engine of innovation to little more than interactive cable television.
-- Jonathan L. Zittrain, The Future of the Internet - and How to Stop It
There will come a time when there is nobody left who will sign up for the proposition that yes, indeed, I wanted people not to be able to understand, learn, fix, improve or share the technology that manned their lives because it was making me rich to keep them unfree. Soon, and I do mean soon, the number of people willing to admit "Yes, I sold the privilege of human communications to people by the sip rather than acknolwedging their right to be in touch with one another, and it made me money, and I will grew rich," will go down. -- Eben Moglen, Free Software Foundation: www.fsf.org
We believe we can build better products collaborating with our customers than we can hoarding technology from our customers. Imagine buying a car where the hood was locked shut and you allowed the dealer that you bought it from to retain the only key to the hood of the car. Every other industry in a free market democracy works the way open source does. It's only the software industry that has this really weird, binary-only proprietary model. If you don't have source code, and you don't have a license that allows you to make changes to it, you have handed control of your technological infrastructure either for your organization or for your society to the developer of that software. - Bob Young, co-founder of Red Hat Linux
Christian Einfeldt recounts, "One of the most moving interviews among the hundred or so interviews that we have done so far for the Digital Tipping Point film came from Brazilian Culture Minister Gilberto Gil. He was describing what open source software meant to him. He paused for a moment, spread his arms wide, and said with a big smile on his face, "It's walking toward freedom, freedom of use, freedom of speech, freedom of relationship... I think that's what it's about." - http://www.openoffice.org/editorial/year_four.html
As a proponent of open-source software, I am 100 percent and more in favour of commercial software vendors clamping down on software pirates with the full rigour of the law. Why should honest open-source developers face cut-price competition because Microsoft is too lazy to pursue pirates? In particular, I think it is complely disgraceful and unethical than Microsoft turns a blind eye to software piracy throughout the third world. This only encourages people to become addicted to software they can never afford to buy, and discourages them from using open-source software which is completely and permanently affordable. - http://www.mealldubh.org/
"Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it." - Brian W. Kernighan
A year or two after emigrating, she happened to be in Paris on the anniversary of the Russian invasion of her country (Czechoslovakia). A protest march had been scheduled, and she felt driven to take part. Fists raised high, the young Frenchmen shouted out slogans condemning Soviet imperialism. She liked the slogans, but to her surprise she found herself unable to shout along with them. She lasted only a few minutes in the parade.
When she told her French friends about it, they were amazed. ``You mean you don't want to fight the occupation of your country?'' She would have liked to tell them that behind Communism, Fascism, behind all occupations and invasions lurks a more basic, pervasive evil and that the image of that evil was a parade of people marching with raised fists and shouting identical syllables in unison. But she knew she would never be able to make them understand. Embarrassed, she changed the subject. -- Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being - http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/show/146529
Quotation from a commentator on CNN: "The United Nations peacekeeping force could hamper the war effort."
It isn't always obvious what the final destination is. If we send a message to a light to turn on, is the operation complete when the switch is thrown, when the light itself glows or when (and if) the room is sufficiently bright. There is no one right answer, and a network that imposes one will only frustrate innovation. -Bob Frankston http://www.frankston.com/public/essays/IPAnIntroduction.asp
On the flight to Las Vegas I saw a TechTV show in which a lucky winner's house got a digital makeover that consisted of putting flat panel TVs everywhere. The technology may be digital but it is not empowering -- the TV broadcasters are still in total control of what is available to watch and the consumer is just that -- a consumer. [...] There is no sharp distinction between components and "solutions" -- it depends on how I use it though some are easier to build on than others. The key is having an interface that allows me to write my own software. [...] Companies steeped in a tradition of providing complete solutions find it hard to even grasp the concept of innovation at the edges. Digital systems have changed the rules because it is becoming increasingly feasible for people to do things themselves. -Bob Frankston http://www.frankston.com/public/writing.asp?name=attheedge
All of these stories are about attempts to prevent users (that is, all of us) from getting access to connectivity and from being able to add value. That's a very big story but as long as the reporting is so clueless and focused on consequences rather than what is really going on it will be hard for us to make informed decisions. -Bob Frankston http://www.satn.org/archive/2004_02_22_archive.html#107756804659206421
Richard told a wonderful story to Allision the other day, one about how we live. I have an apartment. Tracey does. Peter has our house with various creatures living with him. Richard has an apartment. Various other friends live in various other places. But we all have email accounts in shared places. When I wake up, I flip on the computer system, grab a cup of instant and a shower, and when I arrive back at the terminal, there are some telnet sessions running, Eudora kicked in, and email pouring onto the screen. I instantly say morning to whoever is awake already, although Peter and Tracey keep different hours. Richard wakes up an hour or two after me, and logs on. We chat a bit, ask about the other's welfare and breakfast state. Richard's story was that we all live in a virtually shared huge old house, with many bedrooms all over the place, and a central kitchen and living room. Each bedroom is an apartment, the central areas connected by Internet tech. We each sit with our own cats, our own loved ones, our own furniture, and our own thoughts, and share them every morning and throughout the day. - Carolyn Burke - http://web.archive.org/web/20011020073622/carolyn.org/Page23.html
[...] in that 30 years, we saw a 40% decrease in the length of Time Magazine cover stories and a 25% decrease in the New York Times opinion pieces. So here we have a world that is more complex, requiring the management of more information, more subtle decision-making, and yet we are providing less opportunities for people to express complex ideas about those problems. - Thomas Homer-Dixon
As a cryptography and computer security expert, I have never understood the current fuss about the open source software movement. In the cryptography world, we consider open source necessary for good security; we have for decades. Public security is always more secure than proprietary security. It's true for cryptographic algorithms, security protocols, and security source code. For us, open source isn't just a business model; it's smart engineering practice. -Bruce Schneier http://www.counterpane.com/crypto-gram-9909.html
Commercial success isn't measured by whether you *like* the product; it's measured by whether you *buy* the product. It's difficult for users of commercial software to click on anything that isn't there to make the parent company more money. Things are in Linux because people *like* them there. -IAN!
Next time your boss comes to you and asks "Can't you just...?" Stop. Think about what he just asked. Your boss is managing complexity and he doesn't even know it, and he's just described the interface he wants. Before you dismiss him as asking for the impossible, at least consider whether or not you could arrange things so that it looks like you're doing the really simple thing he's asking for, rather than making it obvious to all your users that you're doing the really complex thing that you have to do to achieve what he asked for. You know that's what you're doing, but you don't have to share your pain with people who don't know or care about the underlying complexity. - Piers Cawley http://pc1.bofhadsl.ftech.co.uk:8080/archives/000009.html
Do the DMCA et. al. really retard the 'bad guys'? After all, the DMCA is just a law, and the bad guys, by definition, are not law followers. They could care less. But it does impact the 'good guys', particularly those doing security research [...] "Rain Forest Puppy" http://www.wiretrip.net/rfp/txt/evolution.txt
A popular response is: "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear." [...] The truth is that we all do have something to hide, not because it's criminal or even shameful, but simply because it's private. - Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
I've always been a believer in antitrust. It's the concentration of power that bothers me, not whether it's "for profit" or "for government." [...] And I just knew that if I lived in California I would stay there and not travel and not see the rest of the world; whereas in New York I was always flying to California, but I was still taking the subway in the morning, encountering homeless people on the street, dealing with just much more of reality than you have in California. You live a really privileged life out here. You created all of this without the government and there's very much a sense of "Well gee, why can't everybody just be like us?" - Esther Dyson
On risque de pleurer un peu si l'on s'est laisse' apprivoiser. - A.deS.E.
The better you do your job, the less people will notice you. - Tom Reingold
The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was. - anon
Most people, if they counted how many people swam across the river, would never think about building bridges. - Ronald Altman
Why should we limit computers to the lies people tell them through keyboards? - Bill Gosper, MIT AI Lab
Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgement, and he betrays, instead of serves you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion. -- Edmund Burke, Speech to the electors of Bristol. 3 Nov. 1774
There is simply no way that a bunch of people in Redmond or anybody in Silicon Valley here can anticipate the needs of anybody who is remotely interesting, and that includes most children and some adults. - Alan Kay
Community is enhanced by a common listening experience. When listening to the live Hober stream, you are sharing a global experience, rather than being shunted into single-faceted canned programs. -- http://hober.com/
[...] When people are firmly rooted in their community, they must pay attention to what the community thinks of them; but when they can easily pull up stakes, they only need to look out for themselves. [...] there is something wrong with making the survival of the fittest the guiding principle of a civilized society. [...] success is an inadequate basis for holding a belief because being successful is not identical with being right. [...] Conflicting views and interests will produce an open society only if there are institutions dedicated to the common good, allowing people with different views and interests to live together in peace. [...] - George Soros www.soros.org/personal.html
This is a crucial slip. In referring to the service economy, Cox violates the Wired principle that everyone in the Information Age will be a Web jock. Instead, most of us will work in Wal Mart (which now employs a population as large as South Dakota's), or at Starbuck's, pouring coffee for the Information Elite. There, the defining skill will be sucking up. - Jedediah S. Purdy, Harvard Perspective
Lars Osberg, an economist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, has come up with a graphic way to illustrate the size of this army of unemployed Canadians and the enormous waste of its idleness. Let's suppose that the army was put to work building something highly labour-intensive - something like, say, the great pyramids of ancient Egypt - using the exact same primitive technology that was available back in the 26th century B.C. Osberg calculates unemployed Canadians could have built no fewer than seven pyramids since 1990 and be well on their way to completing their eighth. -- Linda McQuaig, "The Cult of Impotence: Selling the Myth of Powerlessness in the Global Economy"
The idea that the poor - and the rich - will always be with us is not new. But never before has the split been so unambiguous, so unequivocal. The reason is simple. The rich - who happen also to be the most politically powerful - no longer need the poor. They do not need the poor for the salvation of their souls - which they do not believe they have and which at any rate they would not consider worthy of care. Nor do the rich need the poor for staying rich or getting richer - in fact they reckon they would be better off if the poor weren't there at all, making claims on their riches. The poor are not a reserve army of labour which needs to be groomed back into wealth-production. Neither are they consumers who must be tempted and cajoled into "giving the lead to economic recovery". Whichever way you look at it, the poor are of no use. This is a real novelty in a world undergoing perhaps the deepest transformation in the long history of humankind. -- Zygmunt Bauman, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Leeds University
When I tried to smile at the deformed man near the beach, my stomach churned uncomfortably. It made me remember the time when I was a 9 years old, visiting family in New York, and being overcome with sadness by streets overflowing with homeless people (before Rudy Giuliani shipped them all upstate.) I tried to put on a kind face for the badly deformed man but, it still brought into sharp focus the thin line between vacationing in the third world and taking part in what Sierra's father calls the "pornography of poverty." -- Doug Karr, http://www.livingroomwar.blogspot.com/
The US government, and no doubt governments all over the world, will use the climate of war as an excuse to curtail civil liberties, deny free speech, lay off workers, harass ethnic and religious minorities, cut back on public spending and divert huge amounts of money to the defence industry. To what purpose? President Bush can no more "rid the world of evil-doers" than he can stock it with saints. It's absurd for the US government to even toy with the notion that it can stamp out terrorism with more violence and oppression. Terrorism is the symptom, not the disease. Terrorism has no country. It's transnational, as global an enterprise as Coke or Pepsi or Nike. At the first sign of trouble, terrorists can pull up stakes and move their "factories" from country to country in search of a better deal. Just like the multi-nationals. - © Arundhati Roy 2001 - http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4266289,00.html
Terror is in the human heart. We must remove this terror from the heart. Destroying the human heart, both physically and psychologically, is what we must absolutely avoid. The root of terrorism should be identified, so that it can be removed. The root of terrorism is misunderstanding, intolerance, hatred, revenge and hopelessness. This root cannot be located by the military. Bombs and missiles cannot reach it, let alone destroy it. Only with the practice of looking deeply can our insight reveal and identify this root. Only with the practice of deep listening and compassion can it be transformed and removed. - Thich Nhat Hanh, November 2002 - http://www.wagingpeace.org/articles/2002/11/00_hanh_strike.htm
"The secret of life," declared sculptor Henry Moore to poet Donald Hall, "is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is -- it must be something you cannot possibly do."
What we wanted to preserve was just not a good environment in which to do programming, but a system around which a fellowship could form. - Dennis Ritchie (co-originator of the Unix operating system)
Laws are the spider's webs which, if anything small falls into them they ensnare it, but large things break through and escape. --Solon, statesman (c.638-c558 BCE)
Think of the Linux community as a niche economy isolated by its beliefs. Kind of like the Amish, except that our religion requires us to use _higher_ technology than everyone else. -- Donald B. Marti Jr.
In 1954, when Jonas Salk developed a polio vaccine, he never for a moment considered the idea of pursuing individual ownership rights to the discovery. Nor did Salk imagine the idea of licensing the vaccine in an effort to personally control the direction of future research in the field. In fact, Salk's funder, the March of Dimes, prohibited patenting or the receipt of royalties on the results of its research projects. When Edward R. Murrow, the renowned television commentator of the day, asked, "Who will control the new pharmaceutical?" Salk replied that, naturally, the discovery belonged to the public. "There is no patent," he said. "Could you patent the sun?" -- "Trouble on the Endless Frontier" by Seth Shulman http://www.publicknowledge.org/
People understand instinctively that the best way for computer programs to communicate with each other is for each of the them to be strict in what they emit, and liberal in what they accept. The odd thing is that people themselves are not willing to be strict in how they speak and liberal in how they listen. -- Larry Wall, http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/opensources/book/larry.html
In short, I was trying real hard not to look like a complete idiot and I probably spent a few hours penning that first tentative question. As luck would have it, the responses I got back were polite and helpful. I was even more surprised when one of my early questions was answered by one of the developers. Here's me, an absolute nobody, who has probably asked a very basic question and someone famous (in this project anyways) took the time to point me in the right direction. Looking back, I'm sure that's the moment where a part of my brain said "this is where you belong". -- Dru Lavigne, http://blogs.ittoolbox.com/unix/bsd/archives/006968.asp
When people pay $70 to a company for cable TV, everyone says the users are paying for "content". When people pay $70 to a company for Internet, everyone says the users are getting Internet content "for free" and aren't willing to pay for content. The company has to pay for TV programming that it offers to its customers, but it doesn't pay anything for the Internet content it offers. Perhaps the ISPs should be sending some of that $70 to all the "free" Internet content producers! - paraphrased from Tim O'Reilly "The Clothesline Paradox and the Sharing Economy" at OSCON 2012 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kbcgmf6eDKU
The Internet *is* diverse; unless, you're exclusively a Microsoft user. Windows users are locked into a Microsoft view of the world where everyone clicks on the same menus, and the menus contain only the things that Microsoft puts there. It's hard for Windows users to click on things whose purpose isn't to make Microsoft more money. -IAN!
Home is a place where you are without having to justify why you're there. -IAN!
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