Affidavits and Open Source

Steve Lohr of the NYTimes wrote today that “Linus Torvalds, creator of free operating system Linux, announces that software developers making contributions to operating system will have to sign their work and vouch for its origin”.

What a grand idea – courtesy of Intel of course. Process is a good thing, as William discussed in his talk Open Software Development in the Real World (June 17, 2003 at the Internet Developers Group meeting in San Jose, CA). One question begs – “Will Linus Torvalds sign the Developer’s Certificate of Origin for all his work on Linux, past and current, as well?”.

After all, what’s fair is fair, isn’t it?

Reporting from the Green Zone

Well, my friend and Berkeley physics alum Rick Bentley is off to Iraq to consult on some infrastructure repair and fund his security startup Connexed. He’s taking a digital camera and laptop (he’s got Internet connectivity), to do a little reporting from the Green Zone that I’m going to produce. Oh, and he’s growing a beard.

Bon Voyage Rick! Send me an email when you get there, and a few test clips (plus description) to see how much work it will take to send few clips as attachments (make sure they arrive OK). I’ll put them in myself and set things up. If there’s an issue with automation, we’ll just work through me and I’ll send them through. Hey, not bad – you get the personal attention of the CTO!

Keep your head down. And keep growing that beard.

Coffee with Larry Lessig

Last month I wandered over to Stanford to have a cup of coffee and a chat with “Mr. Creative Commons” himself, Dr. Larry Lessig. My primary reason was to get some background for a book review and for an In the DataCenter piece.

Of course, I also wanted to meet the guy behind the Creative Commons license, as I’ve also had much to do with licensing and structure with BSD and Unix over the years – it’s “in the family” so speak.

Prime Time for Open Source?

Griff Palmer of the Merc in his article Linux nears the tipping point speculates on whether it is really ready for primetime with consumers. The problem is that everyone who works with this stuff is already used to all of its oddities, so how can we tell a consumer can use it?

Well, I’m going to presume to speak a bit about it. First because I beat him (and probably most everyone else) in his serious qualification of “longevity” – I’ve been running Unix on the PC since 1989 – 386BSD that is. That’s 15 years. Predates the invention of Linux by 2 years. And second because I’m a mom with kids and they use what I use. Period.

Fire in the Hole

Well, it seems that Ken Brown’s latest paper is causing a bit of a brohaha. What I find most annoying is that people want to censor outright a sponsored (yes, by Microsoft and others) paper instead of allowing sensible people of good judgement to read it and form their own opinions. The Internet is supposed to allow a variety of opinions – not just a mob suppressing opinions they find inexpedient (and that means corporate-sponsored mobs too).

But since I’m not interviewed and I have nothing to do with Linux, I think I’ll let Andy T and others wrangle that part of it out. Ken Brown’s a DC guy, and clearly knows his politics. And since this is a tech blog, I think I’ll stay in technical considerations.

Capturing Conference Moments in Abstract Videos

It seems that time for speakers / posters is always too limited at conferences. Personally, it always seems I end up in some other room talking about my stuff and I miss a lot of the other presenters. Or sometimes I get major last minute work, and I miss a talk completely. And it’s really annoying.

Wouldn’t it be keen if anyone who is a speaker or poster presenter also had a 2 minute video synopsis of their work like an abstract produced and hosted on the Internet available for viewing? Of course, the first thing I’d hear back is “We don’t have the time at a conference – it’s rush, rush, rush.” Yah, we all know that.

All You Need is TCP: EtherSAN and Storage Networks

It’s always fun trying to get feedback on a paper due to be talked up few days later, but that’s always seems to be the way it is, at least for the UMN DISC Intelligent Storage Workshop coming up next week.

Anyway, what’s the paper about? The idea is think of the big Internet as being your storage channel. Getting the world to work like, say, fibrechannel, but you don’t use fibrechannel or some specialized separate network. Nope, we just use a really really low-latency layer1-4 dataflow processing mechanism but like Billy Joel would say “it’s still TCP to me”.

Hierarchical State Machines

Dropped by Miro Samek’s talk “Hierarchical State Machines: a Fundamentally Important Way of Software Design” at PARC last week, and still thinking about it. While the title is a bit over-the-top, some of the ideas such as a “quantum language” fit quite nicely in an RTOS. Of course, it’s architecture, architecture, architecture.

Mr. Samek himself sees the “framework” as applicable to many areas, such as real-time embedded systems, GUIs, or networking servers. He also is working on a realtime preemptive kernel which he says he will release soon. Why? As he put it himself “Obviously, what I’m doing is cottage-industry, but that’s all I can do alone.” Sounds like a good enough reason – just to try and see if it flies. That’s what exploration is all about.

Trials and Tribulations

Well, I’m beginning to make preparations for Singapore to talk to people about my paper Lessons Learned in Massive Video Production (MVP) for University Alumni Outreach on the yearlong trials of using Massive Video Production we created at ExecProducer to encourage alumni participation through produced video by students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the department.

Working with the Physics Department of the University of California at Berkeley, ExecProducer created an entirely new mechanism to subscribe, process, and approve up to 2,500 video productions viewable via the web internationally on a custom website, with links to news and information on endowments and donations. The trials were launched as part of former Chancellor Berndahl’s rejuvenation of the department after an official report critical of the future of the department was released.

Tommy, Can You Hear Me?

Norimitsu Onishi’s article in the New York Times entitled “Japanese Find a Forum to Vent Most-Secret Feelings” is fascinating. According to Mr. Onishi, “In a society in which subtlety is prized above all, face-to-face confrontation is avoided, insults can be leveled with verbal nuances and hidden meanings are found everywhere, there is one place where the Japanese go to bare their souls and engage in verbal combat: Channel 2.”

What is “Channel 2”? Simply an anonymous Internet BBS where secrets can be unburdened and read by others without retribution. Unlike American “talk radio”, where people actually want to be known, Channel 2 is a way to reveal oneself and others with no concern for social or business status.