Bradley M. Kuhn bkuhn@identi.ca

originally from Baltimore, MD, USA.

President and Distinguished Technologist at Software Freedom Conservancy. On the Board of Directors of the Free Software Foundation. Generally, a Software Freedom advocate, GPL Enforcer, and Occasional developer..

  • Of Code I used to Write

    2014-04-17T22:12:09Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I was updating my rather pathetic code page to include a link a to the fact that my Mercurial patch finally went upstream.

    It caused me to fix the link to Pokersource, as Loic let pokersource.info go as a domain long ago and it's a link bait site now. But, that caused me click on the bug list of pokersource, and even though I know the project is dead and no one in the world (I think) is even using that code anywhere, it just plain bothered me that some of those bugs that I know how to close are still open.

    I see now that PokerTH calls itself the Number 1 Open Source Poker Application, which really must be true these days, but they're only HE and I think pokersource had a better design. That, in turn, makes me want to do the obvious thing: hook up Pokersource's server side with their client.

    I don't have time for this, of course.

    Mike Linksvayer likes this.

  • Gossip

    2014-04-17T19:27:05Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    The more I hang around the "Open Source" and Free Software community, the more juvenile it seems to be. I'm not saying I'm a perfect actor in all this, but I think a lot would be helped if people stopped trying to "play" each other all the time and just were straight about their beliefs and motivations and what they think about each other. I'm trying my best to set an example in that.

    It seems the broader software industry has this problem too — at least based on what I read in the press about it.

    Is this a function of how young the whole field is?

    I do realize that there is some research that much of human communication is gossip and this had a valid reason in natural selection (mostly attributed Robin Dunbar, AFAICT). We seem to have more than our share though.

    Richard Fontana , aether , Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) , Evan Prodromou and 1 others like this.

    Show all 10 replies

    @aether, the problem is that I see a lot of other people getting treated in pretty painful ways. I agree with your assessment but the problem is, who's in power? The people in power make the (arbitrary) rules.

    Bradley M. Kuhn at 2014-04-17T22:13:49Z

    I don't think expecting people to be honest about their beliefs and motivations has been a realistic kind of thing anywhere at any point in history. Some people don't know, and other people don't want to say.

    People will be people, after all.

    Douglas Perkins at 2014-04-17T22:14:51Z

    @Bradley M. Kuhn Yeah, I get that, I once had someone tell me they wanted to make a human centipede out of me, RMS, and another pro-Free software commenter in a thread. I think a large part of jerks chilling effect power comes from people taking them seriously though. I can see how this note itself is somewhat protective against that and thanks for making it :)

    aether at 2014-04-17T23:00:37Z

    @aether: I think unfortunately the outlook you describe isn't what some of us actually experience. I know what @bkuhn is talking about here. I think he is thinking in part of me when he speaks of "people getting treated in pretty painful ways" (I hope that is not wishful thinking, or the opposite of wishful thinking, on my part). I would love to be able to say "you know, who cares about them, I can be friends with all the outsiders" but life, for me, just hasn't been that easy.

    @bkuhn: I think there is a problem of juvenilism in much of what I see in the worlds I inhabit (which intersect with the worlds you inhabit). I don't quite understand it nor do I really know what can be done about it.
     
    I think you may be describing two different things, though. There's a culture of juvenilism which I certainly see permeating FLOSS culture in many of its aspects, and a culture of gossipping (whihc I see permeating FLOSS in some of its peripheral aspects, at least).

    Richard Fontana at 2014-04-18T02:52:11Z

  • I wanna see you be brave?

    2014-04-17T01:27:26Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I've been meaning to mention that I find it insidious the idea that Microsoft uses "Honestly, I wanna see you be brave" (from Bareilles' song Brave). It is reminiscent of the Apple/Microsoft wars of old.

    Of course, the brave thing in software choices is standing up and saying you're going to avoid all proprietary software. I've been ridiculed not only by Apple users, but even by "Open Source" types for that. :)

    Hey, I'm brave because I bought a product from Company A instead of Company B? Great marketing, but impossible that it's true.

    Evan Prodromou , mray , Charles Roth , Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) and 1 others like this.

    There is only one dimension of software on which one can be brave, *the* brave thing?

    It is *impossible* for the choice of proprietary software A to be brave vs choice of proprietary software B?

    If software has any dimensions other than free vs. proprietary, surely there must be some in which some situations calls for making a brave choice, in which A is better than B, but say the one higher ups take B for granted. (For the same reason, there must be situations calling for brave choices among free software which have nothing to do with freedom nor licenses.)

    I have no idea what Microsoft is advertising nor do I think I know that song, probably don't want to know either. It is the categorical statements in your 2nd and 3rd paragraphs I find troubling.

    Mike Linksvayer at 2014-04-17T02:15:02Z

    Owen Shepherd likes this.

    Categorical statements aside, it's take a hell of a lot to make a Team Microsoft vs Team Apple vs Team Google type pissing match have anything to do with bravery. Sure, I could imagine several situations in which company A could be a brave choice over company B, but that kind of choice is prima facie not a matter of bravery -- there's a big onus of proof that such a choice would have anything to do with bravery...

    Blaise Alleyne at 2014-04-17T02:21:40Z

    lol

    of course they never mention that other option that sometimes exists.. write something to do it myself!

    michaelmd at 2014-04-17T02:25:45Z

    Awoke with a more productive reaction, maybe: what is the most "great [emotive] marketing" from a FLOSS project or organization, accurate or not, insidious or not, etc? How could there be more?

    Mike Linksvayer at 2014-04-17T14:52:37Z

  • Chasing Text Files

    2014-04-12T19:17:05Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    The film The Paper Chase is on Turner Classic Movies right now.

    I'd somewhat forgotten how accurate the depiction of law professors is. :)

    It's good background noise while I pour over code diffs for licensing information.

    Dan Scott likes this.

  • The Death Panel Industrial Complex

    2014-04-12T14:51:59Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Conservancy got one of those letters that the Tea Party has interpreted to mean that Obama lied about "if you like your plan, you can keep it". I had suspect for some time that the health insurance companies were manipulating the situation, and now I have some proof in my own life.

    The letter is worded with lots of double speak, but the health insurance company gives the distinct impression that because of the ACA, they will be required to remove the plans that have any "out of network" benefits.

    I really really doubt the ACA requires health insurance companies to stop covering "out of network" doctors. The letter, of course, avoids outright lying by putting this part of the point in a footnote, so it's not directly tied to the statement about the ACA. Here's what the letter says on the topic:

    To make sure your policy includes these new [ACA] requirements, your existing policy will end and be replaced with a new policy and new premium rates upon renewal in 2014 [1].

    And that footnote says:

    [1] Our POS Product underwritten by Oxford Health Plans (NY), Inc. and Oxford Health Insurance, Inc. (OHI) will no longer be available.

    So, the footnote being placed there gives the impression that removing "POS" products (which are the ones that offer out-of-network coverage) has something to do with ACA, but it doesn't come right out and say it.

    Of course, lots of health insurance companies have been doing this: manipulatively using ACA to drop types of plans and coverage that the ACA still allows, but that are less profitable for the company. They use double-speak to give a false impression that somehow ACA is to blame.

    Instead of "if you like your plan, you can keep it", Obama should have given a more complex statement (that I'm sure he couldn't for political reasons, even if he agreed with it):

    The ACA improves the overall minimum coverage that companies must offer. Since like all for-profit companies, they don't want any regulation that might eat into their ridiculous profit margins, we fully expect the health insurance industry — a predatory industry designed to profit by preying financially on the sickest among us — will lie, cheat, and cajole to the fullest extent permissible by law to convince you the ACA is to blame for their newest evil practices. If this situation bothers you, I remind you that the original proposed bill had the "public option", which would have put the USA on par with the rest of the industrialized world. We lost that battle because the health insurance industry lobbyists bought off enough of the USA Congress to stop it. If you don't like this situation, your best recourse is to vote for no one who takes lobbying dollars in the future. My party will therefore agree to not take any lobbying dollars in the next mid-term election. Please vote for my party, even though you won't see tons of ads on TV or the usual onslaught of campaign materials from us.

    Can you imagine if a POTUS would actually say that? I like to pretend I live in that fantasy world, at least for a few minutes. Now, I'll go back to the despair of figuring out I'm going to afford health care when this change takes effect. As a USA citizen of the middle class, I've lived most of my life in constant fear that if I get any kind of serious illness, it would financially ruin my family. That fear lives at a background level at all times, and at times like this when you see scary letters from the Health Insurance Powers-That-Be, it is enough to give a person a panic attack.

    BTW, this definitely isn't Conservancy's fault. As you might guess, I know Conservancy's budget well, and Conservancy is already spending ridiculous amounts on health care plans. (I've posted before about how Conservancy does its very best to find the best plans it can find in NY and pay for them. However, knowing the budget as I do, I have no idea what Conservancy will do when the premiums go up. This letter clearly says the premiums will go up and benefits will be reduced at the same time.

    It's of course bullshit that your employer should have to worry about this. The only reason that's true is because our government refuses to care about us enough, and the only entities with enough power and resources to do anything about it are well-meaning employers, like Conservancy. I'm very thankful to Conservancy's Board of Directors for how much time they've spent on the issue of health care benefits (it's been a lot), and I guess this is a rather public way to warn them they might have to "waste" more time on this again. ☹

    The "community rating" part of the ACA still bothers me. Since I am in a county that can be best described alternatively as Heaven's Waiting Room and as a hot house of meth & other drug activity...the cheapest plan possible has a $10,000 deductible with a monthly premium that at year's end costs more than the deductible. Sadly the cheapest plans was also the only plan on offer through the exchange for residents of my county. I am also Medicaid ineligible.

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2014-04-12T21:50:26Z

    since you mentioned death panels in your title, I've long said that we already have death panels, they are called insurance companies. I used to have a plan with a million dollar lifetime cap. meaning if my bills got more than that I'd be on my own, regardless of anything else.

    judahsshadow at 2014-04-14T17:52:32Z

    also, the letters people got that the tea party is using are the ones where people had plans that basically were for catastrophic issues with high deductibles that were told their plan wasn't allowed because it didn't meet the minimum requirements under the ACA

    judahsshadow at 2014-04-14T20:24:45Z

  • Weirdness.

    2014-04-12T01:55:02Z via Pumpa To: Public , Richard Fontana CC: Followers

    I can't really figure out why @Fontana keeps send me cryptic SMS's from Europe at 04:00 in that time zone, but I think I'll have to turn my sms notifcation off and go to sleep soon.:)

    Richard Fontana , Evan Prodromou like this.

    >> Bradley M. Kuhn:

    “cryptic SMS's from Europe”


    Well, if security is penetrated and the walls have ears... :-)

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2014-04-12T02:47:46Z

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  • Quick!: Go Tell Your Bosses That My Dog Has Bad Skin

    2014-04-11T18:11:04Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I've just received a second confirmation, which means I've got the proverbial "two sources", so I'm ready to say this publicly.

    But, before I do, I should tell you about Alfie's skin. Alfie is one of my two beloved dogs; he's pictured here in this post. Alfie has had various skin problems. My wife and I changed his food a lot, since we suspected a food allergy. Now he's eating Merrick's grain-Free real duck wet food and Nutrisca Salmon and Chickpea dry food. This has worked well and we're pretty sure foods with other grains and potato, and possibly chicken, are bad for his skin.

    Meanwhile, back on the other topic, I'm quite sure now that my political opponents have indeed switched over from the old StatusNet identi.ca to pump.io, so they read what I'm here saying and go complain about it to their bosses (in some attempt to use it against me politically). More specifically, I suspect the bosses [0] have "their people" handle the mundane task of "reading things on the Intertubes and the MyTwitFace" and report back the juicy bits of what I say.

    BTW, I think this is wonderful news for pump.io: it's potentially as important (or well on it's way to being as important) — at last in the Free Software world — as Twitter. :) @evan, be proud (and, also, BTW, help me write that pump.io IMAP-based client ;).

    The weird part, though, is after these two "game of telephone" complaints about what I've said here found their way back to me, both reports referenced "something read on Bradley's blog". Please, those who read this for your Bosses: at least get the darned facts right! Make it clear to them this is not my blog. For your reference, My blog can be found here: http://ebb.org/bkuhn/blog/. In fact, I've use pump.io specifically and (more or less) exclusively for my non-professional, off-the-cuff, mostly unedited (have you seen how many misspellings and grammar errors I have in these pump.io posts?) public remarks.

    Of course, some of you might argue to me that: "A good politician doesn't make those kind of remarks, ever" and that I make a political mistake by putting them all here on pump.io — a convenient but truly distributed and decentralized place to find such remarks.

    But, frankly, I just hate focus-grouped politics and refuse to participate in it. People just aren't people anymore when you do that; they're wooden Al-Gore- and John-Kerry-like stick figures. I would easily agree that if your job is USA Secretary of State, maybe you have to subject yourself (and your family) to focus-group-style perception shaping, where even trips to the grocery store are scripted to make a political point. One part about Free Software being (at best) on the "B list" of social justice causes (i.e., it's just not on the "A list" of urgent and grave problems like poverty, global climate change, war, etc.) is that I don't have to worry about life-and-death if I happen to get the politics wrong. (I know Karen Sandler feels differently about this because for her, proprietary software is a life and death issue due to her implanted medical device.) I fortunately have the luxury of still getting to be myself [1] in public.

    BTW, Fab Scherschel is the first person who really pointed this out to me: I remember because he said (my paraphrase) he really liked that while I was a muckity-muck in Free Software (well, Fab probably said Open Source ;), he liked that I said what was on my mind even if it wasn't politically perfect and carefully scripted.

    Context matters, of course; I don't say "whatever's on my mind" in public talks at conferences like I do here on pump.io. Related to that, I actually regretted for a while when my personal blog started getting linked to heavily in news articles, etc, because for a while when I want to post a funny picture of my dogs or something like that, I had no place to do it since my blog was my (but of course, never my employer's) official professional opinions. As you know, due to my moral beliefs, I won't use Facebook, Twitter, GooglePlus, etc., so my options are limited. The one major upside for me of pump.io going beyond the 140 character limit is I got back a place just to be myself, which my actual blog used to be and now isn't for political reasons.

    Indeed, to be clear and honest: I admit that I politically script many things I write. My actual blog (which this isn't, again: please tell your Bosses that when you report this post to them) is admittedly so-scripted, but, my pump.io stream isn't.

    I'm amused now, though, to realize that I can actually waste the time of my political opponents. Indeed, I am starting to wonder if I should start burying political comments in my pump.io posts about my dogs, or something like that (in a more subtle way, not the obvious way I did it here). Indeed, I really kinda like the idea of my political opponents having to skim through a paragraph about Alfie's skin problems just so they can find where the choice quote to take to their bosses to complain about is. :)


    [0] I suspect the people in question aren't reading my pump.io feed themselves since the people involved are so-called "Big People" (— that's the phrase my old boss used to describe the wealthy and powerful with reverence — I of course use that phrase as a joke; in fact I used to ask my old boss when he said that if he was referring to some mythical giants he'd discovered). In fact, for years, many people have tried to convince me that I shouldn't be myself because "people that matter" might read it and use it against me. That meme of self-censorship is bad for a Free society, IMO. Plus, it just makes everything so damned boring.

    [1] Some people I know have just never grokked that being myself in the online community was something I valued in life. As much of an old fart Net.luddite I am these days, I grew up on Usenet speaking my mind on every topic imaginable in public fora with my community. Discovering Usenet and the fact that I could discuss things with other people without feeling afraid all the time changed my life. Indeed, if you search hard, you can even find archived some goofy old Usenet posts I made in the early 1990s. Verbose public discussion on the Internet has been part of my personality since I was 18 years old; I'm not going to suddenly excise it from who I am now that I'm 40 — even if such is a political imperfection and because the wealthy and powerful don't like it.

    qubit , Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) , Jason Self , Charles Stanhope and 3 others like this.

    Awwww:) Best. Cuteness. Attack. Ev-ar!!!!

    Also, Alfie might enjoy a coconut oil massage (here's a vet showing how to do it)

    aether at 2014-04-11T18:55:30Z

    In fact, for years, many people have tried to convince me that I shouldn't be myself because "people that matter" might read it and use it against me.

    I think you've said something similar to that to me once or twice.

    That meme of self-censorship is bad for a Free society, IMO. Plus, it just makes everything so damned boring.


    Agreed!

    Richard Fontana at 2014-04-16T03:33:00Z

  • The Pain of GPL Enforcement

    2014-04-11T14:13:23Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    The most pain in GPL enforcement is paying attention to it. By that, I mean this: every time I go to do some work on GPL enforcement, I'm quickly bombarded by the fact that there are so many violators, many of which I brought into compliance once upon a time and are now out of compliance again because I left them alone for a few years because they agreed (seemingly nicely) to agree to come into compliance fully. They do it while I'm watching, but as soon as I stop watching, they immediately start violating again.

    I'm reminded of that bumper sticker:

    It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.

    My version is something like:

    It will be a great day when copylefted software gets all the money it needs to stay copylefted, and proprietary software companies have to hold a bake sale to pay their law firm lawyers to defend their GPL violating business tactics.

    On a related note (per image included in this post):

    Keep your lawyers off my computer.

    That goes for you, the Usual Suspects of GPL-violator-defending lawyers. [0]

    [0] BTW, I had a list of names here in the original version of this post, but took them out. Although, I have to admit that we really should be calling out these GPL violator defenders publicly. They present themselves as "Open Source friendly" lawyers but in the backroom negotiations, their real job is to help their clients avoid complying with the GPL. But, people give me a hard time when I mention the names of specific lawyers who are working against copyleft (which I don't fully get — the other side hesitates not when they vilify me).

    Yutaka Niibe , George Standish , Charles Roth , Nathan Smith and 2 others like this.

  • 2014-04-10T17:14:47Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    It's been legitimately brought to my attention that I am probably complaining to much here about conferences that I'm not going to for various reasons. :)

    On a better note, I will be giving a talk on GPL enforcement at Embedded Linux Conference at the end of April, and my talks at LibrePlanet and FOSDEM earlier this year should be available online somewhere if folks are interested.

    I hope pointing that out balances my previous complaining posts.

    (BTW, in case you all haven't noticed, I mainly use pump.io to publicly complain about stuff, because I try not to do it on my main blog too much. :)

    sazius , aether like this.

    I haven't complained about your complaining, I think, but now I will: IMO your complaining about being excluded/not accepted while at the same time complaining about quality, pertinence, etc of same conferences seems a bit sad. If I ever want to corrupt you I will run a conference and invite you, accept all your talks, and upgrade them to keynote. I'm sure you'll think your keynote will expose the emperor as naked, but in fact it'll be very conservative and everyone already knows anyway. If they didn't already know, why would they be excluding you? ;-)

    Mike Linksvayer at 2014-04-10T17:52:44Z

    @mlinksva, I see your point. To be clear, I think a lot of these conferences are pertinent. The point I was making is that perhaps I just shouldn't care what they're doing at a conference that I know is designed to help people learn how to work against the goals I'm working toward.

    I'm not invited to the Business Software Alliance's conferences either. I'm sure those events are pertinent to the BSA's goals, but they aren't my goals. Meanwhile, I have pretty strong evidence (as best one can get from the CHR wall), for example, that the conference Fontana and Karen are at now (which Fontana has dubbed by the name "SECRET") is primarily populated by attendees who want to help their client/company get away with violating GPL.

    As such, just like a BSA conference, I'd be delighted if folks who support software freedom like Fontana and Karen want to go and tell them why they're wrong, but I definitely think my life is less stressful if I don't have to do that.

    Meanwhile, your claim about potential corruption through invites is a good point. @Fontana has often claimed that I'm corrupted by my desire to attend conferences. I don't really subscribe to his argument. An easy counter-example is how publicly critical I've been of OSCON and ORA for more than a decade. I thus think that I'm not corrupted on that point — especially when you factor in that ORA gave me an award twice (Best Paper Award in 2000, then the Open Source Award 12 years later).

    What I do think I do (which Karen Sandler suggested to me earlier) is that I value these few conferences that have excluded more than their actual value. When she pointed that out, I then got worried that I created an "exclusion bubble" by hyping conferences that reject more than ones that welcome me. My more recent posts have been an attempt to "pull back" on this perceived high value I've been giving the hat-trick group I mentioned early. I did not accomplish that goal perfectly, I suspect.

    As for OSCON, it was somewhat a different matter and I only realized later in context it looked related. I was trying to be clear (perhaps unsuccessfully) that I don't blame OSCON for rejecting my talks: I worked through a public CFP process and lost its lottery. OSCON gets a lot of submissions, so any submitter is a droplet in a firehose. And, from what I hear, one basically has to lobby organizers to get talks accepted there, and I frankly don't think that's worth lobbying for it.

    My main worry about OSCON was this: it's tougher to justify going if I don't have a talk accepted, and I'm trying to figure out what (if anything) I need to go for, and delineate properly between needing and wanting to go. OSCON is admittedly an important meeting place for this field, but I'm not objective on that point now that my proposals were rejected.

    But, anyway, my obsession with being excluded is absolutely more about my own prior life experience more than about the facts of the matter. But, I don't know how anyone could go through one's entire formative years as "oh, I guess we get $Person" [0] and not have that deep fear of rejection as a partially insurmountable component of one's psychological make-up.

    This kind of stuff just sticks with you no matter how much psychotherapy you get. The best politicians in the geek world know that many geeks have had this life experience, and they thus use exclusionary practices to get under the skin of people who have predilections exclusion-fear. The most sly part of this political tactic is that it's one of those tactics that works even when the victim of the tactic is fully aware enough to — say — write a long comment on pump.io explaining that's what's going on. ;)


    [0] When I was a teenager in high school, my uncle — also a geek picked on in high school — taught me the "true test" of how badly gym class was. It goes like this: a lot of people say: "Oh, I was last picked in gym class". But it clearly wasn't that bad if they say “last pick”. I (and my uncle too) were never "last pick".

    See, there's that moment when you're down to two people and the jock says: "I pick $foo", and the other jock says: "then, I guess we have $bar". Being "I guess we have" is an order of magnitude worse than being last picked; if you're last picked, you're more desirable than someone on the planet, at least. If you don't know that difference, gym class just wasn't that bad for you. ☺

    Bradley M. Kuhn at 2014-04-10T21:27:51Z

    Mike Linksvayer likes this.

  • OSCON Rejection.

    2014-04-10T12:22:03Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Unfortunately, none of my seven OSCON proposals were accepted, including one that I thought would surely be: a co-presentation with me and Karen Sandler about basics of legal issues for Free Software developers.

    I have my complaints about OSCON and ORA for sure, but at least they make a fully public CFP. They used to even publish the Program Committee names, which they don't seem to do anymore, but it's hard to blame them: I bet they get lobbied by people who want talks accepted.

    Still, this means it's unlikely I'll go to OSCON this year. It will be odd not to be there (IIRC, I've missed only two OSCONs in its 16 year history, including being present at the 1998 Open Source Developers' Day).

    Someone from Conservancy will need to be there to take meetings, etc., but at this point I wonder if it'll just be Karen. I'll have to convene with her when she gets back to the USA about whether any of her other submissions were accepted.

    I'm also left wondering if it's finally time for us to do a Conservancy booth. I've got some trepidation about doing booths again (I calculated once I did 1,500 booth duty hours for FSF over the years), but it'd be a reason to go.

    But, I am then left wondering if I'm trying to "find a reason" to go because the rejection hurts.

    I don't apply any more.

    Evan Prodromou at 2014-04-10T12:31:32Z

    Why not go to DebConf instead? Same city, following month.

    I guarantee your talk won't be rejected, because DebConf either accepts a talk or lets it be ad-hoc unconference scheduled. ;)

    joeyh at 2014-04-10T15:24:45Z

    Richard Fontana , Charles Roth , Mike Linksvayer , Christopher Allan Webber like this.

  • Wanna Quote Evan, but where?

    2014-04-09T21:28:03Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    @evan said at one point "I don't think all of us paying each other on kickstarter is going to scale" or something like that. I can't remember if it was on the old identi.ca or since the pump.io switchover. Can someone find me a link? I want to quote him in a talk.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) , Stephen Sekula , Andrew Engelbrecht like this.

  • Have fun in your little secret treehouse

    2014-04-09T15:37:01Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Interesting take on what goes on at the secretive invite-only Free Software legal issues conference. I don't use marijuana. I wonder if that's the real reason they refuse to invite me to this conference and perpetual CHR-covered meeting?

    When I was in college, someone told me that there was an entire subculture of marijuana users overlayed on the student population I already knew. I went to a small college, and while the people who regularly got drunk were obvious, it's not so obvious who the Marijuana users are. It made me realize at the time that it was likely that people I knew had a lot of secrets that they shared with other people around me and that I just didn't care about.

    Indeed, I suspect that this secretive legal conference and unending permanent CHR-covered meeting is like that. They keep the group secretive and exclude people arbitrarily like the bullies of the high school lunch table merely just to give the perception of mystique — to make it appear valuable when it really isn't.

    In fact, I'm starting to believe that the European Legal Network is an absolute waste of time. Prove me wrong. Oh wait, you can't without violating CHR! I win the argument by default because of your secretiveness.

    But, I have to admit that it's cute that they all have a little treehouse to go to where the adults won't bother them. Meanwhile, I'm busy working on real legal issues in Free Software instead. Have fun at in your little treehouse the next few days! I'll catch you up to what's happening in the public world of Free Software when you climb down.

    Scorpio20 , Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) like this.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) , Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) shared this.

    So, I have organized both open-admission and invite-only conferences. I think both have their place.

    Open-admission is great for including everyone, getting new and newly interested people involved, and for getting a high profile. It's usually good if you have a spectacle-oriented event (talks, keynotes, etc.).

    Invite-only works well when you have a small set of practitioners who are going to benefit from direct conversations. It raises the stakes for the participants. "YOU were chosen to come spend time with <list of people you respect>. This happened because you're respected in this group. You have to bring your full attention and best contributions."

    I've seen "talks" given at invite-only events, but really they're more like themed conversations.

    My friend Kaliya says the best invite-only events are the ones where "It's OK to knock." Like, you send out invites to certain people, and they recommend it to friends and colleagues, who then request an invite. People who "got in" because they requested an invite are going to be the most diligent contributors, of course.

    I think getting people together can be tough, but I love doing it.

    Evan Prodromou at 2014-04-09T16:10:15Z

    Christopher Allan Webber likes this.

    @evan,

    My friend Kaliya says the best invite-only events are the ones where "It's OK to knock." Like, you send out invites to certain people, and they recommend it to friends and colleagues,

    So, in this case, I personally was recommended by dozens of people for this conference and "everlasting meeting". The organizers said to them that "we make the rules, they are arbitrary, and that's final".

    My little jokes in the main post aside, I'm being kept out because I am the most prolific GPL enforcer in the world, and most people who meet are learning from each other how to avoid complying with the GPL.

    At least, that's what I can glean from standing under the treehouse and hearing what I can hear. (I.e., CHR isn't strict and anyone can share redacted emails as long as no individual names are mentioned). I've thus seen every discussion of consequence.

    There isn't much of consequence.

    The problem is, when you try to make a private, exclusive club, you have to start bouncing people who are willing to say the emperor has no clothes. I'm pretty famous for telling the emperor he's naked.

    Bradley M. Kuhn at 2014-04-09T17:42:22Z

    Scorpio20 , Nathan Smith , aether , Christopher Allan Webber and 1 others like this.

  • PDF not so P

    2014-04-09T14:42:47Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    On a Conservancy bookkeeping matter, someone who uses an Apple laptop with proprietary OSX (presumably) is trying to send me a filled-in PDF form. I get these errors from poppler/evince:

     ** (evince:9370): WARNING **: Unimplemented annotation: POPPLER_ANNOT_FREE_TEXT, please post a bug report in Evince bugzilla (http://bugzilla.gnome.org) with a testcase.
    
     ** (evince:9370): WARNING **: Unimplemented annotation: POPPLER_ANNOT_FREE_TEXT, please post a bug report in Evince bugzilla (http://bugzilla.gnome.org) with a testcase.
     Error: Unknown font in field's DA string
     [repeats]
    

    If I highlight the box to fill it myself, I see that he's typed in text, but I can't even replace the text myself.

    The fillable PDF works fine if you start from evince to start.

    I'm trying to figure out who to blame here. I suspect this is an issue with embedded fonts vs. non-embedded fonts, but I even tried loading it in inkscape asking it to replace any unknown fonts with system defaults, and that didn't help.

    I ran out of time. The guy is printing and sending me a paper copy.

    When this happens, it's hard not to feel like my software is to blame, because it's not the dominate one. It's just not fair to Free Software that we should have to feel it's our fault that our software doesn't DTRT. I think this feeds into our tendency to be captious about proprietary software: to prove we weren't wrong in the first place.

    Dylan , sazius , Charles Roth , aether and 1 others like this.

    The state of filling in forms with free software is sadly far behind proprietary alternatives. I usually run a freeware PDF software in Wine to fill in government forms. Evince works more often than it used to, but still not every time.

    It would be great if my government would produce and verify their PDFs with free software, but awareness is going to take time.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) at 2014-04-09T15:39:15Z

    I know there are a lot of features implemented by proprietary PDF programs which are not in the PDF spec. Maybe an instance of that?

    Nathan Smith at 2014-04-09T16:24:54Z

    I would say it is probably missing the fonts. I worked in print for awhile and we always had trouble unless everything was rendered as outlines -and PDFs rarely are (especially the form-filling variety). Chances are it is referencing an MS font... I installed the MS fonts recently and it made so many sites look terrible. Never realized how attached to DejaVu Sans I have become!

    Ryan Weal at 2014-04-09T17:24:02Z

    ddevine@identi.ca , Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) like this.

    Eh, era of filing bugs (and unfortunately not tax forms) like https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=502664 fortunately ended with the Czech Ministry of Finance started using HTML forms :)

    mcepl at 2014-04-10T07:07:42Z

  • Emacs Core Dump

    2014-04-03T22:06:27Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I know something hardware-related is probably going on with my RAM when Emacs dumps core randomly on me. It just happened. Every other time it has, there was a major hardware problem within months, usually weeks.

    Seems like an annoying early warning system.

    Jason Self at 2014-04-04T00:13:05Z

    memtest86+ is available at boot on most popular distributions, and normally in the repositories. It's a very thorough RAM tester, however, it's a very slow process that takes forever!

    Jacob Barkdull at 2014-04-04T07:26:00Z

  • Open Source As Last Resort

    2014-04-03T21:43:22Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Open Source as last resort appears to be popular this week.

    David Thompson , mray , Yutaka Niibe , jrobb and 2 others like this.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) , Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) , Yutaka Niibe , Benjamin Cook and 5 others shared this.

    Are you really suggesting that .NET is a has-failed/likely-to-fail project?

    ciarang at 2014-04-04T06:36:15Z

    Owen Shepherd likes this.

    Bug report and suggested fix: possible --> possibly, paragraph 6, sentence 6.

    Doug Whitfield at 2014-04-04T12:42:05Z

  • DCO

    2014-04-03T18:55:48Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    If you were wondering about my views on the DCO, I posted this comment about my support of the DCO and its derivative uses on the LWN story about James Bottomley's DCO talk.

    It links to my old blog post about these issues which often still seems relevant given the many CLA-pushers frequenting the Free Software Community.

    Mike Linksvayer , Charles Stanhope like this.

  • A Philosophical Thought

    2014-04-03T17:34:07Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I had this thought in an IRC conversation just now, and thought I'd put it here to see if folks think it's a useful point:

    Free Software developers are powerful in aggregate, not individually, which is a major reason why the software freedom community is a just subculture.

    An obvious corollary to that is:

    CLAs that aren't inbound=outbound consolidates that power inappropriately.

    Evan Prodromou likes this.

    Show all 5 replies
    You're not going to convince anyone from other side with that. To contrary, looks like evidence for their side: to realize power of aggregate, must be consolidated.

    Mike Linksvayer at 2014-04-03T17:48:05Z

    Why does power in aggregate mean just a subculture? Isn't that true (power in aggregate, not individually) of say, any social reform movement? Yet some movements are subcultures and others go mainstream.

    Blaise Alleyne at 2014-04-03T17:48:25Z

    Mike Linksvayer likes this.

    "Free Software developers are powerful in aggregate, not individually," So far I am with you. "which is a major reason why the software freedom community is a just subculture." Now you have lost me. This might be true, but it doesn't seem to follow.

    "CLAs that aren't inbound=outbound consolidates that power inappropriately." I'm assuming CLA="Collective Labor Agreement," but I still can't make too much sense of it.

    I sense that there is an important nugget of truth in there, but it seems not to have fully gelled.

    Susan Pinochet at 2014-04-03T17:54:12Z

    Mike Linksvayer likes this.

    Okay, that's probably Contributor License Agreement. Then I can agree with the last point.

    You might want to consider using fewer abbreviations now that we don't have that tiny character limit. It would make your posts easier to understand.

    Susan Pinochet at 2014-04-03T19:14:23Z

  • The Change in My Role at Conservancy

    2014-03-31T22:51:01Z via Pumpa To: Public , Software Freedom Conservancy CC: Followers

    aether , Freemor , Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) , mray and 8 others like this.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) , Stefano Zacchiroli , Mike Linksvayer , Christopher Allan Webber shared this.

    you have now averted the hit by a bus issue :) congrats!

    marxistvegan at 2014-03-31T23:24:04Z

    lnxwalt@microca.st likes this.

    You are very right to be proud, including for recruiting your perfect ED successor. Now, will you please liberate nonprofits from proprietary financial software, enforce the people's right to software freedom to the maximum extent achievable with copyright-holder enforced copyleft, and put out some new episodes of FaiF? And get your inbox statistics to a level indicative of a good life/work balance? :) But seriously, congratulations, and good luck on all of those things. Hopefully I can help in some tiny way.

    Mike Linksvayer at 2014-04-01T00:08:47Z

    Richard Fontana , Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) , mray , Christopher Allan Webber like this.

    That is a great blog post. I admire you for not littering with any false modesty. You have done, and will do, important and great work, and you have the right to be proud of it. As a loyal FaiF listener, my impression of you guys is that you function real well together, and I'm really happy that you can be working together full time. It's going to be great for you and for the community.

    On a more narrow and selfish note, I'm really happy about what this means to the free accounting project. I need that.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) at 2014-04-01T08:53:00Z

    James Dearing likes this.

  • NYS Proprietary e-file

    2014-03-30T15:24:48Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    NYS seems better than the IRS. At least NYS has its own software to do e-file of your annual IT-201.

    However, it too requires proprietary Javascript. However, it's not fully obfuscated/minified, and therefore I was able to determine that Craig Patik and Manolo Farfan appear to be the primary authors of this software. So I emailed them to ask if they can work with me to liberate it. I'll keep folks posted on how it goes.

    netgeek , Evan Prodromou , David Thompson like this.

    This is cute: if you go to the NYS online landing page and chose create account, and have Javascript forbidden, and then enter the security code, you get this page:>

    Individual Account Creation

    You must first login to access your Online Service Application. The application that you are requesting can only be accessed after a successful login.

    If you have any further issues please contact us for assistance.

    In other words, the error message say “if you want to create an account to log in, then you have to log in first before you can create an account to log in”.

    I assume this is because I have Javascript off, but shouldn't it give me a better error message?

    Bradley M. Kuhn at 2014-03-30T15:44:23Z

    Before you e-file with NYS make sure they have fixed the technical feature that existed in 2008 whereby '5's got transformed into '6's.

    Richard Fontana at 2014-03-31T04:55:39Z