Archive for February, 2010

CUPS Frustration

CUPS Frustration

Following the pouring out of my heart about removal of features for OpenSuSE, I thought, since CUPS has an option for n-up printing maybe I could just add a new printer with n-up always on.

No, that is not possible.  I can specify a thousand different different options that I never use, but not the one that I use every time I print.  There’s not even an open ended “type your option code in here”. So for those <insert expression of annoyance> applications like openoffice which don’t have an n-up print option, I have to go via a pdf export to print.  :-/

for the record, kde4-printer-applet also doesn’t work

nor does

lpoptions -p <dest>  -o number-up=2

as far as I can tell

Hmmm… it seems as if options are determined by the driver/ppd file used….


Thanks O’Reilly

Thanks O’Reilly

Shopping with O’Reilly gives me a nice feeling.  I hadn’t bought anything from them for a year so they offered me 40% off my next purchase.   Just in general I like their attitude.  No DRM on their ebooks – and they’re available in multiple formats.  And who could forget the cute animals they have on the front of their books?  The only dislike is their exorbitant shipping costs to AU.  Ironically, if I ever want an O’Reilly dead tree version I’ll order it from Amazon.

Enemies of the People

Enemies of the People

James Purser has beat me to the punch on a story about copyright ideologues recommending that Indonesia be put on a Special 301 watch list for recommending the use of open source software.  The Guardian is reporting that the following representations were made:

“The Indonesian government’s policy… simply weakens the software industry and undermines its long-term competitiveness by creating an artificial preference for companies offering open source software and related services, even as it denies many legitimate companies access to the government market.

Rather than fostering a system that will allow users to benefit from the best solution available in the market, irrespective of the development model, it encourages a mindset that does not give due consideration to the value to intellectual creations.

As such, it fails to build respect for intellectual property rights and also limits the ability of government or public-sector customers (e.g., State-owned enterprise) to choose the best solutions.

The “special 301” procedure is a mechanism by which (essentially) the US imposes trade sanctions on countries if they think those countries don’t give sufficient monopoly rights to US companies.  In a sense the representation is laughable in that open source licenses are creatures of copyright.  If you don’t have copyright, you don’t have open source.  This is copyright ideology run amok.  Unfortunately, legislative and regulatory frameworks exist in a twilight zone where reality and common sense have no part to play.  Legislators and the executive, need to get the ideology of monopoly out of the heads and return us to the path of free enterprise and democracy – things to which the copyright lobby is implacably opposed.

The obvious observation here is that they clearly don’t respect the copyright owners of open source software, nor how they choose to deal with their rights.

Binary Tie

Binary Tie

While I think of it (as I am putting it on at the moment), the fellow I was sitting next to at OSDC verified that my binary tie does, indeed, code for “Ties Suck”

The Real Story behind Windows 7 Phone Home

The Real Story behind Windows 7 Phone Home

ie: my guesses about it

Lauren Weinstein reports on a new feature of an update to Windows 7 (apparently called KB971033?), which continually checks (once every 90 days) to see whether the installation is authorised/activated/validly licensed.  Some sites have discussed this and made something of the fact that it is voluntary to install, and/or checks to see that the installation is valid even if it has verified the copy as valid and even if the copy has already been authorised.

I tend to think this has not so much to do with piracy per se as solving a couple of Microsoft’s other problems.  The first is the lumpiness of Microsoft’s revenue.  It gets a heap of extra revenue when it releases new versions of whatever.  Microsoft has tried to overcome this by its assurance programs, in which users are asked to sign on to a subscription program.  However, ultimately the subscription programs are dependent upon Microsoft actually releasing new versions from time to time (what a drag!).

The second is the problem of proving losses.  If you make an illegal copy of a Microsoft product and then buy a legitimate copy (or as many legitimate copies as illegal copies you have made), exactly what has Microsoft lost?  Microsoft, for example, gets the same amount of money, it just gets it at a different time.    This is because there is no tying of the license to a particular period of time.   If a person made an illegal copy of Windows98 (say) 10 years ago and buys a legitimate copy today (yes, I know that may not be possible in fact) it is hard to see what Microsoft has actually lost, except the time value of money over the past 10 years (this, unfortunately, might lead to ‘gaming’ of the system, where a person makes illegitimate copies until they are caught, then buys legitimate copies to cover their nefarious activity).   Note: There is nothing specific about Microsoft to this argument, it applies generally to software licenses which are not limited in time.

Both of these problems are solved by tying.  Microsoft began tying a long time ago by tying copies to specific hardware.  This is what the authentication stickers are all about.  Their purpose is not to prevent piracy.  Rather, their purpose is to prevent a legitimate purchaser moving a particular copy from one computer to another.  If they can’t move the copy then, the theory goes, they must buy a new copy.   Moreover, by withdrawing product from the market, Microsoft can force upgrades to new versions of Windows.  If someone could take their legitimate copy of Windows XP from their old computer (and wiping the old computer and loading it with Linux) and load it onto their new computer, would they have bought Vista?

The next form of tying is to time.  The point of having the check being performed once every 90 days is to allow for the prospect of quarterly licensing.  You pay a fee each quarter in order to have continued access to your data.  The 90 day phone home is just the latest piece in the puzzle.  Others are things such as the time limited trial installations of office that OEMs force onto people.   In a year or two you will no doubt see Microsoft offering (initially) optional, low priced time limited licenses, with a view to moving the market over to the new licensing scheme over time.   Time limited licensing may also alleviate (although maybe not solve?) a problem that Microsoft faces with the Netbook form factor – that is, it is too expensive to pay any significant amount for a windows licence on a $300 (or cheaper) machine.  However, if you have a time based license, the first three (or six) months might be given away free or charged at a low amount.  This would allow hardware manufacturers to legitimately sell Windows loaded machines at the same price point as a Linux loaded alternative.

Just follow the bouncing ball…

See also: computerworld article, someone’s blog, someone else’s blog,

CAL Remunerating Itself

CAL Remunerating Itself

Luke Slattery writes in the Australian about CAL Remunerating itself.  See also this analysis of CAL’s 06-07 report.

Jacobsen v Katzer settling?

Jacobsen v Katzer settling?

A birdy tells me this is the case.

Stay tuned.

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