Friday, May 25, 2001

A company called Vidomi is in a bit of trouble over stealing GPL'd code from Avery Lee's Virtualdub.

If you're into simple Win9x video capture and editing, VirtualDub is about the only piece of software you need, and it's all free and open. Avery Lee is a programmer hero. He represents the original spirit of Free Software: Skilled hackers taking the matter in their own hands, solving problems and doing things better, because they can and because they want to, and because they're nice people.

Vidomi's response has been to hide behind legal inconsistencies in the GPL, which is a mistake, even if they get away with it, as this is a moral issue. If you take something from the huge pool of free code, you're obligated and expected to give something back, and that is exactly what Vidomi has failed to do. Nerds have little respect for legal technicalities, but violate their code of honour and you're in for a lot of trouble.

Free Software really is an odd movement, almost like a religion. It combines good ideals and good deeds with fanatical crusaders, obedient disciples, and theological schisms. It has given nerds a Cause to believe in, optimism in the future, and a worldview with Good and Evil in it - ideas society discourages.

It has also given theory-babbling idealists who has never given away a decent line of code in their lives, an excuse to feel morally superior, and these often seem to outnumber Real Programmers like Avery Lee a 100 to 1, but the achievements of the few outweigh the stupidity of the mobs by plenty.

And you know, there are many worse things to Believe in than Free Software.

(As usual, Gnuhead as GIF for satirical reasons.)

Thursday, May 24, 2001

The World Bank has decided to cancel its meeting in Barcelona next month, for fear of the usual protests.

This is seen as some kind of victory by radical activists. Perhaps they should start measure success in actual political change, and not in how many fat corporate bastards they can scare on the way from the limousine to the hotel door.

Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Flashback News Agency #141 is out - and the website is up again too, apparently through Port 80 in Stockholm.

The wonders of broadband: Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (1954) can now be watched at LikeTelevision.

Unhealthy interest in the forgettable pre-Adam Sandler era of moviemaking necessary to enjoy the movie, I'm afraid.

A short biography of Robert Crumb, one of my favourite cartoonists.

You can find some of his work here, but the quality of online Crumb-scans is bad and the quantity even worse, so I'm currently in the process of buying my way through the Complete Crumb series.

At my current rate I'll be done in 2003 - where is a lucrative dot com IPO when you one, eh?

Tuesday, May 22, 2001

From chapter 1 of Apocamon by Patrick Farley, based on the Book of Revelations. (3mb Flash 5.)

Monday, May 21, 2001

Of course, the first thing to download from Freenet is a copy of the Scientology NOT texts, practically impossible to find on the web, thanks to the lethal legal department of one of the more scary brainwashing cults out there.

[1 2 3 4 5 6]

It's worth installing Freenet just to ensure that these texts are propagated all over it. Keep them in a safe place, you never know how long they'll be available online - even on Freenet.

Finally, a sustainable Internet business model: Build a community, encourage public participation, develop a valuable resource, then lock it up and start charging. Cackling "Ha, ha! Suckers!" is optional but encouraged.

Suck on Gracenote's journey from a voluntary project with a nerdishly practical acronym, to a soulless lawyer-collective with a dot-com name so rusty that it may have been chosen deliberately to provoke an iron-nails-on-chalkboard reaction from the nerds that built their database.

As Gracenote's monopolistic lawsuit demonstrates, there is now absolutely no reason to use their product. (Try FreeDB instead.)