Friday, May 20, 2005

It's a Good Thing

Lately I've noticed the expression Good Thing (as opposed to good thing) appearing more and more in emails and blog entries. I wrongly assumed these referenced Martha Stewart's notorious catch phrase; she used to close every segment on her TV show with, "it's a Good Thing." Thanks to the Wikipedia, I now know Sellar and Yeatman coined the term in 1066 and All That way back in 1930.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

James Gosling on Harmony

DevX interviewed James Gosling on the recent Harmony open source JVM announcement. I'm far from being an open source zealot, but even with my passing understanding of software licensing, I nearly choked on the morass of FUD spewed during the interview. Either DevX misquoted, or James Gosling sacrificed his own credibility to toe the company line. James starts off by asking how Java could be any more open:
It's often difficult to get a good picture from the open source community of what they actually object to in what we're doing... Since day zero, 10 years ago, all of our sources have been open and available.
What good is looking at the source code if you can't actually do anything with it? To his credit, Sun did just recently add an additional license that allows you to run your changes internally (up until a month or so ago you couldn't even do that). To my understanding, unlike an open source project, you still need Sun's permission to redistribute their JVM with your operating system, office suite, etc. One of the key benefits of open source technologies is users' ability to innovate without permission or approval from a central authority. Next, James alludes to responses from, "the enterprise development community." In this context, he could mean vendors, corporate developers, or both. The degree of naivete in his feedback points to a subset of corporate developers with a lack of understanding of open source: "we hear very strongly that if this thing turned into an open source project—where just any old person could check in stuff—they'd all freak." Anyone who knows anything about open source knows not just anyone can commit changes; to indicate otherwise would be disingenuous. James adds, "They'd all go screaming into the hills." Many developers already have, and many of those did so without even trying Java. One word: Mono. Gosling continues, "for most users, we're actually pretty close to the Apache license. You can do an awful lot of stuff with our system before you run into license restrictions." I'm dumbfounded by the audacity of this statement. Comparing Sun's Java license to the Apache license? If your license covers 90% of users, wonderful, but what are the remaining 10% of users supposed to do? Create an open source alternative, obviously. James concludes the first part of the interview with a comment on the state of open source licensing:
In the open source community, if you actually care about being legally clean, it's a nightmare. Most people don't actually read the licenses. Every day or two there's something about someone getting hammered for GPL violations, and most of the people who are doing it don't even know it.
First off, what does the GPL have to do with anything? Second, could these be the same uninformed developers that objected to open sourcing the JVM? By comparison, the Apache license is completely free, no confusion, no strings attached. In regard to staying, "legally clean," I've found the Apache license much easier to grok and adhere to than any one of the many Sun licenses.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

I'm back.

After I moved to San Francisco, I continued to host on an old PC connected to DSL in my friend's basement back in St. Louis. Busy with my new job, I kept procrastinating migration. Big mistake. A month or so ago the DSL provider went out of business without notice, and dropped off the face of the Earth. I figure now is as good a time as any to try something new. This time around I plan on leaving the responsibility of hosting in someone else's hands, and with the help of Godaddy and Google, I might even manage to save some money. I've been using Gmail for my email. Godaddy forwards emails for directly to my Gmail account, and I configured Gmail to set the "Reply-To" header to my email address. Emails still appear to be from my Gmail account, but it's a lot better than maintaining my own IMAP server. The transition to Gmail from was a little rocky at first, but I seriously dig how Gmail handles conversations. I'm using Blogger to publish my blog to my server at Godaddy. I settled on Blogger because I found that some of the more dynamic blog tools tend to require a lot more RAM which seems to mean disproportionately higher hosting fees. I like how Blogger publishes static files. It's the ideal caching implementation. I'm looking forward to posting to my blog directly from Gmail. I chose to host the blog myself rather than on Blogger's web site so that I could upload custom files and PHP scripts and use my domain name directly. I also finally tried Flickr after a friend sent me a Pro account. I'm addicted. It was just the inspiration I needed to organize my photos from the past year. I even cleared off my camera phone. I can't wait to start blogging photos (apparently Flickr can even post directly to Blogger). I'm not completely sold in the long term (I still might end up uploading to my site directly from iPhoto), but I thought it was really cool when I tagged a picture of me in a "Vote for Pedro," t-shirt, and I was able to see everyone else in their shirts. Now that I have the administration headaches behind me (knock on wood) and things are settling down with the move, I'll have more time for blogging and working on Dynaop. Stay tuned! P.S. No frames this time either. ;)