Corante

About this Author
Dana Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist for over 25 years and has covered the online world professionally since 1985. He founded the "Interactive Age Daily" for CMP Media, and has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age, and dozens of other publications over the years.
About this Site
Moore’s Law defines the history of technology. It held that the number of circuits etched on a given piece of silicon could double every 18 months as far as its author, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, could see. Moore’s Law has spawned constant revolutions since then, not just in computing but in communications, in science, in a host of areas. Moore’s Law applies to radios, and to optical fiber, but there are some areas where it doesn’t apply. In this blog we’ll take a daily look at new implications of Moore’s Law in real time, as it rolls forward to create our future.
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January 15, 2006

It's the Process, Stupid

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

matt-cutts.jpgThe Windows Metafile Format (.WMF) dates from 1990.

Personally, I'd hate to have to take responsibility for what I did back in 1990, but I haven't made $50 billion in the last 15 years so I don't have to.

The WMF format was designed to move graphics among Windows programs, and one of its features was to allow the execution of code within images. I'm calling this a feature because, at the time it was written that's what it was. What we now know is it was also a flaw.

It means that exploit code can be hidden in any Internet graphic, not just those with the .wmf extension. And it will run. It can turn into a keylogger, or a virus, or any other type of malware. And since the relevant code has now gone online, malware authors are hard at work creating exploits, all of which will continue to steal from innocent people until Microsoft finishes testing and distributing its own fix.

This has a lot of people, like the folks at Softprose, very mad at Microsoft. But it's not the code, or the vulnerability, which troubles me. It's the process.

I understand the need to be certain before pushing out a cure that may be worse than the disease. But we're not talking about a flu vaccine here. We're talking about code and a computer feature.

The easy thing to do, as Google software engineer Matt Cutts notes, is to turn off the vulnerable code. "You’ll lose some thumbnail previews and such, but if you want to be safe until a patch is available, click Start->Run and then type “regsvr32 /u shimgvw.dll” to disable the vulnerable DLL."

Of course, this can cause other problems, Cutts admits, but there's a way around those

...continue reading.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | Internet | Linux | Security

December 23, 2005

This Week's Clue: The Spring of Consensus

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Robert_Prechter_small.jpgThis week's issue of A-Clue.Com is my annual Year in Preview essay.

You're invited to join the A-Clue.Com community by clicking this link. Always free.


One problem I have with Robert Prechter's work is its apocalyptic nature. It's the deep breath before the long plunge. The forest is about to burn, the world as we know it about to come to an end.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consulting | Economics | Futurism | History | Linux | Politics | war

October 14, 2005

This Week's Clue: The Open Source Business Model

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

We're back on task at A-Clue.Com , discussing our original charter -- electronic commerce.

Of course, if you had (subscribed already these thoughts would be in your inbox right now.

Still, better a few hours late than never, right?


bingobangosoftlogo.jpgThe recent agreement between Google and Sun highlighted a fact that has struck the tech industry in the gut, the effectiveness of the open source business model.

Marc Andreesssen, Bingo Bango Software in Atlanta, and even I (watch this space next week) are all working along the same path. Ad sales and e-commerce, when properly scaled, can pay for a lot of development. Those development costs can be spread so thinly that people can use powerful tools for literally nothing.

There are strict limits to this, I believe. A lot of entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists, look at the success of Google AdSense, they read about big companies ramping up their online ad spending, and they figure the same stuff they've been doing before will now start making big bucks.

Not really.

There are some key variables I believe will make the difference between success and failure in this space. One of the most important is the value you can derive from each page view.

Raising that value does not mean throwing ever-more-intrusive ads in front of people, or demanding personally identifiable information from each reader you then will share with advertisers.

What it means is making the offers on each page so relevant to the reader's interests that they will proceed down a sales funnel. How far will they go? That's where I part company with the "experts" in terms of strategy.

I'm proposing we think of three key elements in raising the per-page value of content::

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consulting | Economics | Futurism | Investment | Linux | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

September 29, 2005

You Know, For Kids

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Nicholas0Negroponte.jpgNicholas Negroponte of MIT Media Lab fame, still trying to remain relevant, has announced a program called One Laptop Per Child, which wants to mass produce fully-loaded Linux laptops for schoolchildren in the dveloping world.

Given what happened here in Atlanta when Apple tried to sell Macs for all the local schoolchildren (the plan was rejected and the superintendent pushed out) it will be interesting to see where this goes.

Negroponte's plan is to build low-powered units, 1 GHz chips with cheap LCD screens used in DVD players , and minimal storage (use the Internet instead) but the underlying problem, even if he can get things rolling, will remain.

That is:

...continue reading.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consumer Electronics | Digital Divide | Futurism | Linux | Moore's Lore | Semiconductors

May 14, 2005

A Publisher's Ethics

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

fuat kircaali.jpgBy and large publishers do not share journalism's ethical sense.

Instead they apply business ethics.

While a journalist's ethics, like that of any other claimed profession, may hold them well short of what's illegal, businessmen must go right up to the legal line, even risk crossing it, to stay ahead of the competition. Businessmen who don't think that way are easily crushed by those who do.

In journalism, business ethics often push journalists over lines they should not cross. Robert Novak practices business ethics. The National Enquirer practices business ethics. Those who choose to believe Novak or the Enquirer accept it.

And Fuat Kircaali (right), CEO of Sys-Con Media, has apparently chosen to apply business ethics in the Maureen O'Gara scandal. (He has hinted at this before.)

This weekend this blog was told that Kircaali accepted the resignations of three senior LinuxWorld editors -- James Turner, Dee-Ann LeBlanc, and Steve Suehring, rather than personally release and renounce O'Gara.

UPDATE: "We were unpaid editors but we devoted a lot of time and energy to it," according to Suehring's blog. This makes sense given Kircaali's business model, as we will discuss later on.

Apparently, Kircaali even approved O'Gara's assault on Pamela Jones of Groklaw in advance. Here's what he told Free Software Magazine.

"The language of the story is in the typical style of Ms. O’Gara, generally entertaining and easy to read, and sometimes it could be regarded as offensive, depending on how you look at it. I decided to publish the article. It was published because it was an accurate news story."

More after the break.

...continue reading.

Comments (37) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Journalism | Linux | e-commerce | ethics | law | marketing | personal

May 12, 2005

Tragic End to Jones-O'Gara Feud

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

The feud between Maureen O'Gara of Linux Business Week (left) and Pamela Jones of Groklaw has ended with O'Gara's professional destruction.

Days after SCO CEO Darl McBride claimed "Jones is not who she claims she is," O'Gara weighed in with a long, highly-researched piece filled with intimate personal details of Jones' life. It did not, however, substantiate McBride's charge. Pamela Jones is precisely who she claims to be, a paralegal turned journalist, a meticulous researcher, and an ethical human being. (No link to the story -- the reason will soon become clear.)

Jones responded with a Groklaw post accusing O'Gara of stalking her and trying to intimidate her into silence. Jones' supporters in the open source community responded to that with a letter-writing campaign and, one editor claimed, a denial-of-service attack against the company that posted O'Gara's work, Sys-Con Media.

james turner.JPGSys-Con then responded with what might be called a Blankenhorn manuever. Senior editor James Turner (right) described it on his blog:

First off, you all should know that the entire Sys-Con set of sites has been under multiple Denial of Service Attacks since the beginning of the week, basically making the place unusuable. So if the editorial staff (and especially Sys-Con management) seems a little distracted, there's a good reason.

There's been a bit more clarification on exactly what the future will look like here. From this day forward, there will be no more new material published by Maureen O'Gara. All links from the LinuxWorld site to Maureen O'Gara's work have been eliminated. All of Maureen's SCO coverage has been removed (in fact, except to the degree that we as the editorial staff choose to cover it, all SCO coverage period has been removed.)

So you'll continue to see the MoG byline showing up, especially on Linux Business Week, for a while. It will slowly dillute out as no new material is added, until it disappears entirely. This should make those of you who objected to her deletion en masse happy.

As far as apologies go, there's only so much that can be done from this end. The editorial staff of the magazine is certainly sorry that it happened, but we're not sorry for any action on our part. Other parties (most notably Ms O'Gara, who has a lot of 'splaining to do) must search their own souls and make their own decisions in this matter. I would say this though: actions speak louder than words.

Not only did they sever ties with O'Gara, they tried to erase all her stories. (That doesn't work kids. Take my word for it.)

...continue reading.

Comments (52) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Journalism | Linux

April 19, 2005

Open Source Transparency

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

The key benefit of open source is transparency. (That's a transparent Mozambique garnet, from CLDJewelry in Tucson, Arizona. Transparency doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.)

The key benefit is not that the software is free. It's not that you can edit it. It has nothing to do with the obligations of the General Public License. It's inherent in every open source license out there.

The key advantage of open source is you can see the code. You can see how it works. You can take it apart. You can fix it. You can improve it. Most people do none of these things, but all benefit from this transparency.

The benefit became clear when I got responses to a ZDNet post called Is Linux Becoming Windows? The news hook was a Peter Galli story about how some folks were getting upset over the feature bloat now taking place in the Linux 2.6 kernel.

Those who responded said simply that the complainents, and I, had lost our minds. Kernel features aren't mandatory. Just because something is supported doesn't mean you have to do it. You can pick and choose among features, because you can see the whole code base -- it's transparent. You can look at the various builds out there and, if there's something you don't like, something you can do better, you can fork it, and maintain your own enhanced code base.

When Microsoft changes its software it makes things incompatible. When Linux software changes this doesn't happen, because the change is transparent. New builds are transparent, and if you come to a fork in your operating system road you can take it.

Transparency is the key term. And it doesn't just apply to software:

...continue reading.

Comments (19) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Consulting | Economics | History | Investment | Linux | Politics | law

April 14, 2005

With Friends Like These

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

linux penguin key chain.jpgSun's plan to release Solaris under its CDDL open source license got a boost yesterday with an endorsement by...The SCO Group? (This cute Linux penguin keychain from Promotion Potion doubles as a stress ball.)

"We have seen what Sun plans to do with OpenSolaris and we have no problem with it," is the way eWeek's Steven Vaughan-Nichols quoted SCO's Darl McBride in a conference call yesterday.

The question is, with friends like these, does Sun need enemies?

...continue reading.

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Linux | Software | law | marketing

April 04, 2005

Will SCO Case Make The Finish Line?

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

It's beginning to look like the SCO-IBM case won't make it to the finish line, an end to discovery and summary judgement.

SCO's sponsors are blowing up. Literally.

Maureen O'Gara (left), whose name is like fingers rubbing a balloon to most in the open source community, and is regularly accused by them of being an SCO shill, reported last month that both Ray Noorda's daughter and another executive with Canopy Group, SCO's largest owner, committed suicide.

More telling, perhaps, was her reference to SCO itself, a company she has regularly defended on teleconferences. She called it "the infamous SCO Group."

When your shark-jumper jumps ship, who's left?

The real news from last month is that Canopy's position in SCO has transferred to former Canopy CEO Ralph Yarro, who chairs the SCO board. When the former VC leaves his firm and becomes your CEO, you've got no net below you and (most likely) no new money coming in the door.

SCO could use new money, because when it finally delivered its financial results for fiscal 2004 (on April Fool's Day no less) it had a net loss of $23.3 million on revenue of $42.8 million, against profits of $5.4 million and $79.2 million in revenue. Why? Because sales of licenses to Linux users totaled just $809,000, down from $25.8 million in 2003.

How can this be bad news for open source?

Simple. If SCO fails to make it to the end of discovery, the judge in the case can't set a precedent that will keep others from trying the same con.

Comments (13) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Copyright | Linux | Software | law

March 13, 2005

Novell Supports Son of DeCSS

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Remember a week or so ago when I wrote about how someone had cracked their iPod's DRM to stick Linux in there?

Well, Novell has released a version of Linux that loves that environment.

Silicon.Com reports that SuSE Linux Professional 9.3 (SUSE is now owned by Novell) includes automatic recognition and support for the Apple iPod.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consumer Electronics | Linux | Software | fun stuff

March 10, 2005

One More Step for Always On

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Wind River is continuing its slow march toward the computing mainstream. (The illustration, from the Wind River site, shows the engagement model the company follows with its customers in producing products. It's careful and complicated.)

It's easy for someone to criticize Wind River's strategy as an attempt to maintain proprietary control in a world of open source, but the fact is there are opportunities here for the Always On world that need to be explained, and then seized.

Fact is Wind River's VxWorks is the leading RTOS out there. RTOS stands for Real Time Operating System, folks. An RTOS is used to make a device, not a system. You find RTOS's in things like your stereo, and your TV remote. What the device can do is strictly defined, and strictly limited. Your interaction with the device is also defined and limited.

An RTOS is not a robust, scalable, modular operating system like, say, Linux. And over the last few years, Wind River has been creeping into your world. VxWorks is used in most of your common WiFi gateways. This limits what they can do. They become "point" solutions. You can't run applications directly off a gateway, only off one of the PCs it's attached to.

Now, slowly, this is changing.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | B2B | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Internet | Linux | Security | Software | computer interfaces

March 07, 2005

Google's Biggest Achievement

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

ZDNet has revealed Google's biggest technical achievement.

PCs crash, and Google deals with it.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Always On | Internet | Linux | e-commerce

March 01, 2005

The PHP-Mainframe Revolution

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

I'll admit that when I read yesterday IBM is putting its corporate might behind PHP, creating a product that combines its Cloudscape database with Zend's PHP tools, my first thought was what's PHP?

(By the way, that PHP pinup girl comes from a Lithuanian PHP tool maker.)

Then I took a look at the recent output of this blog. All recent stories here carry the .php extension. They're no longer HTML. The output is still readable by any browser as an HTML file, they're just not written with a pure HTML tool.

The real news, however, is much bigger.

We're seeing nothing less than a mainframe revolution.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Linux | Software

February 22, 2005

The Jones-O'Gara Feud

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

There's nothing journalists like better than a good old fashioned catfight. (The animated gif catfight is from Supah.Com. I guess you can send it to friends as a postcard.)

And in tech journalism today it doesn't get any better than Pamela Jones vs. Maureen O'Gara.

Jones edits Groklaw, the free community blog which has covered the open source revolution's legal defense so expertly. Her stuff is so good that SCO talked about putting together a rival site, called Prosco.Net, last year. (As of this writing that site is still empty.) Jones is so ethical she actually quit a really good job to stay on the beat, writing "money is nice, but integrity is everything." (I think I'm in love.)

O'Gara edits the $195/year LinuxGram newsletter. She writes fast, tight, "insider-type" stuff, with tabloid headlines like "Ray Noorda's Competence in Question." She learned her trade at CMP, and calls her company G2 Computer Intelligence.

Conflict was natural because of their differing styles. Jones is careful and shy to the point of near-invisibility. She writes like a lawyer. O'Gara is brassy and bold and uses the rest of the press as her PR machine. She writes like a journalist.

What got the feud rolling was a stunt O'Gara pulled before the court in the case of SCO vs. IBM. She filed her own motion to unseal the records, then did a story on her heroic act.

Newspaper companies do this all the time. They fight to unseal records of criminal trials or government decisions, writing a series of stories on the filings and the reaction. But Jones didn't like O'Gara's headline, nor the attitude in her story which was (to say the least) self-congratulatory.

Jones let O'Gara have it.

No hostility there. Maybe a little around the edges, oozing out? Leapin' Lizards, Batman, the heroine action figure who apparently wishes to Take the Open Source Movement Down singlehandedly is none other than Maureen O'Gara, who is asking the Utah court to unseal all the sealed records:

...continue reading.

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Copyright | Journalism | Linux | Software | blogging | law

February 10, 2005

A Special Chip-on-the-Shoulder Attitude

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

I love the Brits. (But I love everyone.)

As executives, Brits have developed this wonderful, pugnacious, straight-talking chip-on-the-shoulder attitude in our time. It's a kind of "oh yeah, sez you" that owes more to soccer yobs than fox hunting.

And for a journalist it's great fun.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: B2B | Business Strategy | Economics | Linux | Software | fun stuff

February 01, 2005

Don't Believe The IP Scaremongers

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Over at The Scotsman, lawyer Alison Bryce is featured in one of those stories that doubtless led to Shakespeare having Dick the Butcher say "First thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."

Her headline is "Don't believe the software scaremongers" but in fact the article is a classic bit of scaremongering.

She's repeating the Microsoft line that Linux is scary. She calls the GPL "the most restrictive license" and states quite baldly that having the source code published is dangerous. No evidence is offered.

There are also some outright howlers, like this one. "Software released under the GPL, such as the popular Linux operating system," never apparently realizing that not all Linux distros are GPL. Fine misunderstanding for an amateur, but this lady claims to be a highly-paid professional, and an expert on software law to boot.

This bit of garbage could easily have been written by Microsoft itself (and he probably cribbed off their stuff), but here's where I get angry:

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Copyright | Linux | law

January 27, 2005

Oh No, Mr. Bill

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Gary Wolf has a piece at Wired which had me shaking my head for some time.

Several folks have pointed me to it. It's an imagined memo, dated three years into the future, after Linus Torvalds has supposedly gone to work for Mr. Bill Gates.

The idea behind the imagined memo, something I've written about extensively recently over at ZDNet's Open Source, is based upon building a Linux desktop suite. Wolf's point, apparently, is that Microsoft moving to Windows isn't that far-fetched, that Steve Ballmer doesn't get it, and that Gates has the imagination to listen to the market rather than the yes-men in Redmond.

Well, yeah. But so what? Ain't gonna happen.

...continue reading.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Economics | Investment | Linux | Software | fun stuff

January 25, 2005

Jeff vs. Merkey

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

I happened upon a sad case recently, a man named Jeff V. Merkey. (The image is from ScienceaGoGo, a great site for science lovers of all ages. The article is about how stress can be good for you.)

Merkey was once chief scientist at Novell, so he’s not dumb. But he’s also, well, a bit unusual.

From what I have seen I'd say he’s paranoid (but I'm not a psychiatrist, and I didn't sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night). He sees enemies everywhere (including on this blog), and always shoots his mouth off before asking questions.

He also has a rather cramped, and to my mind paranoid, view of copyright. (This is something I have real experience writing about.) He allegedly tried to hide his own work from his employer, Novell, leading to a 1997 lawsuit and a 1998 settlement. (That's public record.)

He hasn’t changed. My story was his claim that all of Linux is “dirty,” filled with copyrighted material, and that the only way to protect it is with a “clean” version (that he writes) and a new license (that he’s having written). To make everything crystal clear (to his mind) he wants the Cherokee Nation to oversee the licensing scheme. (He says he's a Cherokee.)

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Linux

January 20, 2005

Gates' New Career

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

If Bill Gates succeeds in his latest mission, to convince Brazil's President (right) that Windows is better than Linux, he should be ready for a mid-career job change.

To the State Department.

Brazil isn't going to open source because they hate Windows, or Gates. They're going toward open source for rational, even reasonable reasons. With open source, Brazilians control their own code base. With Windows, Gates does.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Economics | Linux | Software

December 27, 2004

What Open Source Outlook Could Mean

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Over the weekend C|Net ran a story indicating the Mozilla Foundation hopes to add calendaring functions to its Thunderbird e-mail client (right), turning an open source Outlook Express clone into something more like Microsoft Outlook.

What follows is pure speculation, but this could make Firefox the big story of 2005, and beyond.

...continue reading.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Copyright | Internet | Linux | Software | computer interfaces

December 09, 2004

Another Linux Advantage: Localization

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Open source has a lot of well-publicized advantages over proprietary systems, but one of the biggest is not well understood by Americans.

That is localization.

If you want Microsoft Office in, say, Swahili, you have to wait for Microsoft to decide the effort is worth it, then you have to wait for Microsoft to hire some programmers who understand Swahili, or hire Swahili-speakers who can talk to its programmers, and eventually you get something.

For OpenOffice, Kilinux simply put together a team of volunteers and got to work. The result is a suite for 70 million people in eastern and southern Africa, voila!

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Linux

October 28, 2004

Oh, FUD -- Vote Penguin

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

It's smelling like a political campaign.

Linux this week is undergoing a full-on FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) attack.


  • Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer leads things off with an e-mail to customers testing new arguments on why Linux is no-good. For anyone who takes this as gospel I've got a slightly-used curse from Boston to sell you.
  • Ballmer's newest spin is on the issue of "indemnification," the idea that lawyers should make your decision because other lawyers will get you. This is put most clearly by Edmund Walsch of Wolf, Greenfield, & Sack (no Web site found). Every other word from this gentleman seems to be "intellectual property," a term founding fathers like Thomas Jefferson considered akin to blasphemy.
  • Finally we have a pro-Linux report from the UK that was apparently "sexed down," that is, toned down so as to minimize Linux' strenths and make its weaknesses seem more glaring.

When they're spinning like this, when they lie like this, when they mislead like this, they're scared. You know what to do. Every dollar is a vote in the marketplace. Protect your IT dollars. Vote Penguin.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Linux

October 27, 2004

The Key To Linux' Future

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn


Applications.

When my wife first got her current job, as a programmer at a local transaction processor, she said she enjoyed it because her computer "actually does something."

Fact is that operating systems, by themselves, do nothing. They are a platform on which you build programs that actually do things.

This remains the biggest challenge faced by open source.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Linux

October 26, 2004

Linus Calls Hurd "Dead"

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Following publication of an interview with Linux Times, much attention is being paid to Linus Torvald's description of "Desktop Linux" as being alive and well.

But he said something else, something much more important.

Hurd, the GNU attempt to completely replace the Unix kernel, is Dead On Arrival.

As usual, Linus didn't play the Microsoft game and just assert it. He explained what he meant by that provocative statement:

...continue reading.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Linux

Linux 2.6 Kernel Flaw

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Yesterday I described how Linux users were getting some of the "love" from hackers and malware enthusiasts Windows users have grown accustomed to. (And we're increasingly seeing real exploits of Linux flaws.)

Well, as Al Franken might say, "Oy." (This is not the Linux kernel, by the way. It's a corn kernel, from the Iowa Corncam. But since Franken is a comedian we make the little joke...)

In news that, as you can see, has spread from India to here in a great big hurry, we learn that Version 2.6 of the Linux kernel has a flaw that could be exploited to create a Denial of Service (DOS) attack against your system.

Oy.

Now that I have your attention, we have some good news and some bad news:

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Linux

October 25, 2004

Linux Malware

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

I'm going to begin working soon on a new blog about open source (a formal announcement will come in the fullness of time) but meanwhile here's an important point.

As Linux grows in popularity it is becoming heir to all the ills that plague Microsoft.

Exhibit A is a so-called e-mail from security@redhat.com, which claims to be an important update but is in fact a phishing scam. (Real Red Hat alerts come from secalert@redhat.com and carry digital security.)

Be careful out there. At minimum more careful than the average Windows user.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Linux

September 30, 2004

Is Desktop Linux A Fraud?

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Cut through the verbiage, and that's the charge made against Linux by the Gartner Group.

Desktop Linux is really just a dodge to get a stripped-down PC that will actually run a pirated copy of Windows, the research group said. (Image from the CPFC.)

It really puts all those stories about Microsoft creating cheap, stripped versions of Windows for foreign markets in a different light. Better we get something and give them a chance to advance something for us in their local language than we get nothing.

What about all those governments that talk about running Linux, and all those politicians praising the penguin?

Gartner has an answer:

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Linux

September 14, 2004

One Linux To Rule Them All

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn


The problem with Unix has always been that there were many different versions of it. As a result you couldn't shrink-wrap applications, as you can with Windows, because no one package could reach the whole Unix market. (The illustration is from the site of Barcelona programmer Michael Wolf.)

Linux is changing that. The new Linux Standard Base 2.0 will unify Red Hat, SuSE Linux, MandrakeSoft, Conectiva, ThizLinux Laboratory, Sun Wah Linux, Turbolinux and Progeny. It has the backing of IBM, H-P, and Dell in this effort, along with chip-makers AMD and Intel.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Linux

September 13, 2004

IBM's Great Donation

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

IBM has decided to make some of its key speech technology open source. (That's an old Kurzweil AI poster found at Ethicon, a Johnson & Johnson company that could be important in what follows after the jump.)

This is great news, and they're doing it for all the right reasons. The following quote, from a New York Times story on the decision, could have been written by Linus Torvalds himself:

"We're trying to spur the industry around open standards to get more and more speech application development," said Steven A. Mills, the senior vice president in charge of I.B.M.'s software business. "Our code contribution is about getting that ecosystem going. If that happens, we think it will bring more business opportunities to I.B.M."

Exactly.

...continue reading.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Always On | Business Strategy | Linux | Software | computer interfaces

September 06, 2004

Apache to Microsoft: Drop Dead

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Apache has told Microsoft to stick its Sender ID proposal where the sun don't shine.

Microsoft's plan to force its license paperwork on Internet servers through the standards-setting process was thus dealt a real blow.

Apache (the name has nothing to do with the native American tribe -- it means "a patch-ee") on Linux is the leading Web server, and their refusal to play ball here is important. (But I happen to be a Burt Lancaster fan -- hence the illustration, a DVD release of his 1954 film "Apache.")

...continue reading.

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September 01, 2004

Ha-Ha!

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

I don't know what else to say about this. (That's Nelson Muntz, from Luds.Net.)

Unix vendor SCO Group (Quote, Chart), in the midst of copyright infringement lawsuits over parts of Linux, reported a net loss of $7.4 million for its fiscal third quarter on lowered revenues and higher legal fees. The results more than reversed its profit of $3.1 million during the same, year-ago quarter.

...continue reading.

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August 04, 2004

When Will IBM Get Its Props?

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

You almost never hear from IBM anymore, except once a quarter when they announce record earnings.

It's time they got some proper respect. It's time they got their props. (Image from the BBC.)

This year IBM will bring in $4.66 in profit for each share of common stock, currently worth about $85. It has sales of almost $93 BILLION per year now, and brings $8 billion of that to the bottom line. (By contrast Microsoft, which claims it has run out of ideas, has one-third the sales, albeit nearly the same level of profit.)

Ah, yes, you say, but what has IBM done for me lately?

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Investment | Linux | Semiconductors | Software

August 02, 2004

Elmer FUD

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

I don't know what else to call this, a story that claims Linux "violates" 283 patents, none of which has yet held up in court. (Buy this image and more, at Cartoonfreak.nl.)

Fact is there are many types of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD). There is Microsoft FUD, there is Political FUD, there is Security FUD. Then there is the kind of FUD that is so transparent, so ridiculous, and (at bottom) so howlingly funny you can only call it (with apologies to the good people at Warner Brothers and in tribute to the late, great Chuck Jones) Elmer FUD.

That's what we got here.

...continue reading.

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July 28, 2004

With A Whimper

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but with a whimper.

In English class, "back in the day," I was taught that T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland" (the ending is quoted from memory above) was the greatest poem of the 20th century. (With apologies to Langston Hughes, Alan Ginsburg, and anyone who wrote after 1970.)

What's so great about the poem is that, in journalism, it's so often true. Especially in technology journalism.

Heard from SCO lately?

...continue reading.

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July 15, 2004

Splitting Open Source

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

A well-meaning French bid to protect open source may in fact lead to its splitting.

A new license called CeCILL is designed to make the GNU compatible with French law, which tends to make software authors liable for user problems unless there is specific language to the contrary. (Parents, get your kids a book set in France to wile away the summertime from the list this image illustrates.)

Well and good. But what happens when you try to marry something written under CeCILL with something written under the U.S. version of GNU? What is the license agreement on the new software?

The question seems esoteric, but it matters when you're trying to get a software system used by big companies and governments. A Microsoft user license is the same everywhere. You may not like it but at least you understand it, if you're a lawyer.

Linux licenses must be the same. The Free Software Foundation, Europe is asking the French to talk, and hopefully they will (once they get over yesterday's Bastille Day parties).

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July 06, 2004

Tim O'Reilly's Clue

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Tim O'Reilly could have been a lot of things on the Internet. (The image is from the HollandSentinel.Com.)

He could have dominated it. A decade ago his Global Network Navigator was THE place to start every Internet session. Launched in 1993 it was the Web's first real home.

Of course, the Web outgrew it very quickly, and Tim had to decide where he wanted to fit into what would quickly become a whole new World. So he sold GNN to AOL, in 1995, and remained true to himself, as publisher of esoteric technology books with woodcuts of animals on their covers.

Since then, of course, O'Reilly & Associates has become an important brand for technical types who need a deep, honest understanding of a language, a protocol, or an Internet technology.

And O'Reilly himself has continued to speak out on things that interest him.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consulting | Futurism | History | Internet | Journalism | Linux | Software | Telecommunications | ethics

June 17, 2004

Another Linux Distro

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

John Derrickson of Freeveda.org has released LadyLinux, a new (that is, a GNU) Linux distribution he claims works and plays well with the Windows software you're presently using. (The illustration is the cover of a translated book on The Vedas I hope John doesn't mind me mentioning.)

From Windows® to Linux®
Easier Than You Think

Handles all your old stuff:
Word, Excel, PowerPoint
Internet Explorer or Netscape®
Outlook or Eudora® mail
Money or Quicken®

There is a caveat, however.

...continue reading.

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June 07, 2004

Perens' Call To Arms

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Should customers band together and co-fund Linux' legal protection?

Bruce Perens says that if they don't they will lose the dynamic potential of open source. And he's right. (The illustration is from his commentary.)

But IBM and Red Hat, which are profitable in the space, are just as threatened, even if they don't admit it.

Because operating systems are meaningless. Only applications mean anything.

...continue reading.

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June 04, 2004

Microsoft Gets Partisan (In Brazil)

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

In the U.S. Microsoft's political work is rigorously bi-partisan. It invests in both sides. Company executives give to both parties, and Microsoft lobbyists advise both parties' candidates.

In Brazil, apparently, no such bipartisanship is apparently possible. (That's the Brazilian national soccer shirt to the left -- available for sale here.)

Thus, Microsoft has tied Linux to the leftist government of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and hopes to benefit financially from its fall.

Emilio Umeoka, Microsoft's man in Brazil, was as subtle as a heart attack in attacking that country's embrace of open source. He is quoted as telling Reuters, "If the country closes itself off again--as it did when it protected its information technology, 10 years from now we will wake up and be dominant in something insignificant."

...continue reading.

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May 26, 2004

Stupid Times Headline Trick

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Given The New York Times' poor record with stories like the Iraq story (which they have acknowledged) maybe I shouldn't be upset over a single snarky headline. (Although one good snark deserves another -- I found this illustration at the Long Hair Care Group.)

I will also stipulate that journalist Steve Lohr isn't responsible for this: R.I.P.: The Counterculture Aura of Linux. And the rest of the story is fairly responsible.

But since thousands of top executives won't get past the headline, and are bound to conclude from this that Linux is about 35-year old hippie stereotypes, it burns me up nonetheless.

...continue reading.

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