Older blog entries for mrd (starting at number 52)

Interesting article about whether Looking Glass will go open-source. A big test for Sun to see if they grok open-source, or whether they're just trying to skim the profits.

Could this influence the Thoughts on the future of open source desktop development (aka Java vs C#) discussion by some cool dudes in the GNOME world? Is this body of code cool enough to make a difference? What if Sun open sourced Java and made Looking Glass technologies patent free to [L]GPL projects? Can this be done legally? Is this an NPL situation? Is the eye candy good enough to influence what we hack on? Is GNOME destined to not make a decision on these technologies going forward? Will Xim^WNovell continue down the C# path anyway? Will Sun stay stubborn on Java staying closed source?

It shall be an interesting time to see how all this pans out :-)

15 Mar 2004 (updated 15 Mar 2004 at 02:04 UTC) »
Linux Australia : We issued a press release about the USA-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA), along with some summary position papers (on anti-circumvention laws and software patents) about how all this could be very bad news for the Australian software industry in general, and the Open Source community in particular.

As part of all this, we've updated OpenSource.Org.Au, your portal to Open Source in Australia. This is long overdue - end-users, business, government, education, and the press all want to know about how Open Source is a good thing right now. Our time in the spot light is now!

[OT]: One of my birthday presents was a CLA-4 adaptor for my Olympus C750UZ.   Woohoo!

9 Mar 2004 (updated 9 Mar 2004 at 03:19 UTC) »
Java, Glow, Open-Source and Sun Microsystems.:

"Of course this is why no interesting part of the Java Desktop System today uses Java, because there's no GPL-compatible Java implementation and thus no wide usage of Java in the open source desktop community. " -- hp #

Wow. Havoc just hit the nail on the head.

Please Sun, open-source Java!

C#: So I needed a reference to a string object, so that some XML could call the String.Concat() method to concatenate 2 strings in XML.

This will be trivial I think - inside my XML parsing engine we create a new keyword, making available a string object:

case "STRING":
    currObj = new String();
    break;

Ahh, but there's no constructor that takes zero arguments. Looking through the API docs, there's a version that takes a char *, a char[], a string etc for a total of 8 variants - but no default zero param constructor! None of these are really suitable for this particular purpose (this is managed code, no pointers for you!). Why no standard default constructor of String()? Java has always had that available - another trap for people writing in both C# and Java.

The simple work around was:

case "STRING":
    String foo = "";
    currObj = foo;
    break;

so I could then do something like this in XML:

<ACTION NAME="CallMethod" UID="202" REFERENCE="{SetProp Application, SomeLabel, {STRING.Concat(XMLVAR1, XMLVAR2)})}"/>

Not a big deal, but another of those simple differences between these two languages (really their supplied library APIs) that just needn't be there. The level of compatibility at a source code level could be better.

3 Mar 2004 (updated 3 Mar 2004 at 05:34 UTC) »
Java and open-source: Interesting article over at The Register, continuing the discussion on whether Sun should open-source Java. The thing that amazes me is that Sun appears to be choosing to be the big fish in an ever-diminishing pond, rather than have a bigger pond where everyone, including themselves, would grow beyond their current size. It looks like the fear of not being the biggest player in the Java market is more important than possibly growing bigger than they currently are, but relinquishing the market leader spot. Amazing. Did we learn nothing from the Unix wars in the 80's?

How long before Java3^WdotNet overtakes the market everywhere? How long has Java got before it becomes totally irrelevant?

I hope it doesn't happen. I like Java. I don't envy its future though.

Helium: My simple python photo management application might just have been superceeded by f-spot. My python might just end up being just more junkcode...

1 Mar 2004 (updated 1 Mar 2004 at 00:06 UTC) »
Linux Australia f2f Meeting:

Friday: Flight to Melbourne via Virgin Blue, ok except for the very bumpy landing. Met Pia at the airport and drank the first of my 8 coffees for the weekend. Caught up with all the SLUG and LA gossip in the cab on the way to the hotel - passed a protest on the freeway which prevented Stewart coming and getting us.

Met a bunch of LUV guys at the James Squire, and then onto a little SouthBank restaurant called BonBons for food. Talked with Mike, a RedHat contractor, on the likelihood of Fedora succeeding, about yum vs up2date vs apt, and why I should use his sources.list file. Also had a good chat with Andrew Chalmers - one of the other people who ran for committee membership this year. Got his take on a few issues which was pretty valuable.

Saturday: Up early, breakfast was more coffee and ham and cheese croissants. 1/2 hour walk uphill to Trinity College, next door to Melbourne Uni and met up with Daniel Stone who was our doorman / sysadmin for the day. Thanks DanielS for providing the great facility!

Talked all day with the committee, minutes soon to be available, achieved big things. Very positive atmosphere.

Met conz for lunch somewhere in North Carlton. Nice food, and a nice day to sit around and drink (yet more) coffee.

Back to Trinity College, and covered lots more. Everyone asymptotically approaching stuffed state. Did the committee keysigning and orkut thing :-) and then finished up 6-6:30pm. Took everyone back to the hotel, shower, and off to the pub. This time the Metropolitan. Pia foolishly stated she'd do the 7 pint thing, so I dutifully reminded her of this all night :-) She didn't like that :-)

Talked for ages, on everything from Linux to .Net to religious issues to OSS adoption to LUV/MLUG politics. Good night.

Back to bed late, needed the wake up call early on Sunday.

Sunday: Out the door before 8am, looking for shops that are open to do some shopping for my wonderfully supportive family back home. Nothing was open until 9am, and most shops didn't open until 10 or 11am. So much for a city that claims it never sleeps.

Did the touristy thing. Walked bits of the yarra river, the shopping district and around Crown casino. Afterall, what do you do when the shops aren't open, you've done the technology thing to death, and you have 2 hours to spare?

Introduced Pia to Haigh's chocolates - best in the world. It's always nice buying a great SA product interstate.

Cab back to the airport, just in time for my last coffee of the weekend. Hudson's Marble Mocha is pretty good. Completed Essential Python and the chocolate bullets I bought at Haigh's on the flight home. Really glad to see the family. I hate travelling without them. Once home, crashed on the sofa.

23 Feb 2004 (updated 24 Feb 2004 at 01:42 UTC) »
Linux.Conf.Au 2004 : Last night we had our postmortem - we considered what went well, what fell in a heap, and suggestions for next year. We did really well, 8 of 9 core organisers came, and we generally avoided blame-storming (well, everyone except one avoided getting personal :-)

We looked at the outstanding actions for the conference - heh, it's a bit strange to have a dozen actions of things to do for a conference that finished 38 days ago :) So we threw them away, paid a couple more bills, left me with the job of writing the last few cheques, and I delegated the responsibility of booking the final shebang organisers dinner to Lindy. One less thing I have to do - now there's just the budget balancing left.

Linux Australia : What I haven't mentioned here is that I got myself elected as a committee member to LA at the AGM at LCA2004. So far so good, we've got a great team of people with sufficient mix of last year's committee, fresh blood and enthusiasm. We live in exciting times in the OSS world, so it's a great opportunity to be involved at this level right now.

This weekend we've got the one-day Linux Australia think-tank happening, should be a productive but very busy time. Hoping to achieve big things.

The FTA : There are some issues that I'm pretty passionate about. One is the Australian Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the USA. While the free trade side of things is good, it appears there is anti-circumvention and patent baggage that will follow. Looks like Australia won't be following the European stance of disallowing software patents for trivial things, but rather adopting the US model of allowing "first come first serve" when it comes to patents. I should be quick and register for loops as my invention. I always liked for loops - why shouldn't I be able to charge others? :-( Also means that I might not be able to use my computer to view DVDs legally - unless of course I abandon free software and adopt Windows instead.

Must do something to at least tell people of these problems before this becomes law.

Microsoft has a patent pending in NZ for a Word-processing document stored in a single XML file that may be manipulated by applications that understand XML.

They've said "If we don't patent something that we've invented or developed someone else would". They invented? Huh? Storing a document in XML isn't a new invention - given that XML derives from HTML you could easily argue that storing a structured document was the first intended use of XML! The use of XML for data interchange between software components (I think) was a secondary use. This patent (pending) is a good example of the flaws of Intellectual Property assignment - there is no invention here, there is prior use, it is a trivial application of technology, and the only "benefit" of this sort of assignment is to increase the defensive patent portfolio of large companies (to be used to squash small companies).

I readilly accept IP if there is real invention, but that's not happening here. But I strongly dislike IP assignments for trivial things because it stiffles innovation industry-wide - imagine if IP was assigned for mathematical discoveries? We'd be living in single story buildings, using candles and riding horses.

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