I'm finding that the SCO case is a far more compelling drama than any
of the law TV shows I've indulged in watching over the years. It
doesn't hurt, of course, that I find the outcome important.
And what better way to watch this drama than by reading newspapers and
articles in the technology press? I'm very impressed by their probing
investigative reporting, and very reassured that their professional
objectivity is giving me a clear, unbiased view of the story.
If you want to really follow the SCO case, the only game in town is Groklaw. Investigative journalism may
well be dead in the corporate media, but it is alive and well, nay
thriving, at Groklaw. Over there, they actually do the "shoe-leather
journalism" that the traditional press claims as their domain but
has largely forsaken. When a document is filed at the courthouse in
Utah or Delaware, somebody (for example, Frank Sorenson in Utah) goes
and scans it. A deep analysis, with plenty of links and citations, is
posted by the next day. Any flaws or weak spots in the analysis are
pointed out by thorough readers. Pamela Jones, the editor of Groklaw,
picks through these reader comments, and includes the best of them in
the next posting. I don't know if judges are supposed to read outside
sources, but if so they'll certainly find Groklaw to be a treasure
By contrast, coverage in respected newspapers is quite lame. John
Markoff ran a piece in the
NYT a couple of weeks ago, in which he makes numerous important (as
well as trivial) errors. And the scoop he got, while real (a company
formerly affiliated with SCO settled a GPL infringement lawsuit,
claiming that they shouldn't pay damages because the infringement was
unintentional), is thin gruel compared with the hearty meals served up
almost daily at Groklaw.
And the so-called "trade press" is barely worthy of our derision.
They're just as likely to cite a scumbag shill such as Rob Enderle
as an authoritative source such as Groklaw, and they invariably get
their facts wrong, sometimes painfully so. But I need hardly bad-mouth
the trade press in this community. We get our news from good outlets
such as LWN.
Groklaw shows off what a distributed, open-source news gathering and
reporting community, with a strong editor, can do. There are many,
many more such news stories, possibly too many for an amateur
community to be able to handle. SCO is surely a special case. They
have provoked the collective anger of the free software community; a
unique accomplishment, with a unique result. Whether that result can
generalize up to news-gathering on a wider scale, I have no idea, but
if it can, that would be hugely exciting.
I've been writing a high quality inkjet driver for Ghostscript, and
I've been doing my testing on an Epson Stylus Photo 2200. I'm
passionate about printing, but this is the first time I've really
fallen in love with a device in a long time. As far as I'm concerned,
this device has solved essentially all of the problems of making high
quality digital prints except for the cost of the materials.
First, the photo quality is stunning, truly comparable to real
photographic prints. It accomplishes this by using ridiculously tiny
(4 picoliter) dots, real 1440x720 resolution, and 7 colors: the usual
CMYK plus light cyan, magenta, and black. I find the light black ink
to be an especially significant improvement - on 6-color devices,
whenever the black starts phasing in, you really see those big, ugly
black dots against the colored-dot background. The light black ink
makes a nice gray, blending beautifully with the other colors. You
simply cannot see the dither patterns with your naked eye. Under a
magnifier, you do see them, but they look more like film grain than
the kind of halftoning usually associated with inkjets.
The second problem they've solved is the colorfastness of the inks.
The 2200 is pigment-based, while the consumer devices (such as the
870) use dyes. Dye-based prints are simply not suitable if you plan on
keeping them around for any period of time. Further, if you expose
them to any kind of sunlight, the fading and color shifts become
noticeable within days.
The specs say that the new pigment inks are a lot more stable than the
dyes, but there were a few reasons to be skeptical. The previous
generation printer, the 2000, also had pigment inks, but they were far
from archival, exhibiting a serious orange
shift. Also, they sell an "Archival Matte" paper that, as far as I
can tell, has the equivalent of sunscreen on its surface, so that the
paper will absorb as much of the UV as possible before it gets to the
inks. Are they engaging in heroic measures to make up for weak
longevity of the inks themselves?
I'm never really satisfied with such questions until I do an
experiment myself. So, I printed a test pattern on a piece of plain
paper, and taped it to the outside of my south-facing window, so
it would be subject to the full measure of California sun and the
elements. A month later, the test pattern is still there. In
particular, the cyan+magenta+yellow patches show no sign of color
shift. Believe me, neither commercial offset printing nor ordinary
color prints wouldn hold up nearly so well under these conditions. In
fact, the paper is starting to show some signs of degrading, including
a slight yellowing and a more brittle-feeling texture.
So, it's not exactly a scientific test, but I think you can make
prints on the 2200 with confidence that your grandchildren will still
be able to enjoy them. Highly recommended.
[Full disclosure: Epson generously donated the 2200 I used, but has
not provided any additional funding. Hey, I'm a programmer and
blogger, not a journalist, and I love getting toys! Let this be a
notice that sending me toys can result in excellent publicity. I could
ues, hmmm, let's see: a high-res handheld with WiFi, a mini-ITX box
for media playback at the house, and of course a digital camera.]
GE optical mini-mouse
Another piece of gear is the $15 GE HO98094 USB optical mini-mouse I
bought at Target lsat week. It tracks well, works flawlessly under RH
9, and feels good in my hand (the full size Mitsumi on my desktop,
which I've always been happy with, now feels clunky). Recommended, and
kudos to the people responsible for making the multiplexing between
built-in and USB mouse so seamless.
By the way, about a year ago I made the transition from
focus-follows-mouse to click-to-focus, based on what appeared to me to
be a consensus that the latter was becoming the default. It's ok, but
I do miss being able to change focus just by moving the mouse. On the
other hand, I wasn't using Alt-Tab much, and obviously that's a huge
convenience with click-to-focus. So I was somewhat pleasantly
surprised to find that the scroll wheel has (mostly)
focus-follows-mouse semantics even when the window manager is set to
click-to-focus. The one annoying exception seems to be emacs, which
always scrolls the buffer with the keyboard focus.
I'm still not totally happy with the way focus works overall. By far
my biggest annoyance is the way that Mozilla tends to arbitrarily grab
focus when I'm in the middle of typing, based on
I'm having a number of fascinating correspondences in email now. For
one, I decided to follow up by email to Berend De Boer's recommendation
of a piece criticizing a recent op-ed by Krugman, and I'm glad of it.
I think there's a good chance we'll both learn something from the
discourse -- something that seems to be happening more rarely as the
public debate between "liberals" and "conservatives" seems to be
getting more polarized.
Also, I'm corresponding with both Freek Wiedijk and Norman Megill
(of Metamath fame) about proof
systems, in particular my nutty idea to design a proof format much
like Metamath, but with sound definitions and good support for
modular, portable proofs. Freek is urging me to take a closer look at
Mizar. I don't care for their
closed-source approach (including the centralization of the theorem
library), and there doesn't seem to be much good documentation for
beginners, but I agree; it seems to have a lot going for it. With
luck, I can rip off, uhm, I mean adapt their best ideas. :)