Archives for category: Internet

IBM i (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been to just one of Trevor’s presentations, and he is an entertaining speaker. Users and developers that use the IBM i generally know who he is.

Some in the audience actually did have a real “AS/400“, at that time, and had not yet moved to the current offering from IBM, the “IBM i on Power”, from before, and he said, “Well, yeah, you do have an AS/400″.

I can understand how he might be considered “caustic” in his conversations, and call it my opinion if you want, but he is right.

It’s not the same machine it used to be. People have the green screen idea when they think of our succession of machines. Maybe they’ll be calling it “IBM Next” after 7.0 but we’ll see.

They called it “Mac”, “Windows“, but when they do, the brand is not held back by those names. People regard it as a general brand. None of us has any problem at all calling an automobile by the name the manufacturer gives it. But the Rambler is dead. The Edsel is not coming back.

One well-known creator of a very much-used language, whose name slips my mind, gave a talk about branding at a conference, and gave a few examples.

Once upon a time, there was a phone company that accumulated one of the worst reputations for quality, overhauled it to get one of the best, but the consumer brand was irreparably damaged. So, they changed their name to Verizon.

Has anybody here ever used IBM Visual Age for Java? Or ever hear of it? How about Eclipse?

That’s branding.

The other day I went to a Java Users Group. Despite the fact that the IBM i can run all the java you ever want, PHP, Python, web servers, XML, and almost anything you can run on Unix, about half a dozen good GUI‘s, you can run just about any popular file system, including the one for Unix, the one for Windows, for the i.

I’ve heard there are knockout applications running web sites, few viruses can do it damage, there’s nothing ancient about the latest offerings for IBM i on Power.

They had never heard of the IBM i. So I explained that it was the modern replacement for the old AS/400. They immediately stopped listening and did the same thing when they heard “RPG“, and didn’t even seem to hear that RPG can do all this great stuff and is getting updated faster than any other standard language.

From now on I’m not even going to mention the AS/400, I’ll just talk about the IBM i.

RPG needs a re-branding too. IPG or i2100, or something.



Judge rules that the warrants issued against Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom (yep, legal name) were invalid because they were too vague, after most everything seized has already been returned in previous rulings. Also, therefore, the evidence collected was invalid and was improperly released to be sent out of the country. Nothing on their hard drives can be used, which is pretty much the only thing they’ve got.

Looks like Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder may get his wish that Kim Dotcom wins his case.

The U.S. piracy case against MegaUpload founder Kim DotCom appears to have run aground, with a New Zealand court ruling that the search warrants issued in January were invalid.

New Zealand High Court Judge Helen Winkelmann ruled Thursday that the warrants did not adequately describe the offenses alleged, according to a report in the New Zealand Herald. “Indeed they fell well short of that,” she said. “They were general warrants, and as such, are invalid.”

She also ruled that it was unlawful for the data confiscated in the raid to have been sent offshore, saying “the release of the cloned hard drives to the FBI for shipping to the United States was contrary to the 16 February direction” [given by the court] “that the items seized were to remain in the custody and control of the Commissioner of Police.”

MegaUpload is a cloud-storage locker that DotCom claims was completely legitimate and protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. U.S. officials, who are trying to extradite Dotcom and six associates to face piracy and wire fraud charges, say he encouraged users to store pirated videos, music, software, and other media and then share them with others. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Remember when the FBI shut down MegaUpload?Boy, that was sure a win for the federal government!

Except, uh, not. Ever since the raid, the US government has consistently been losing in New Zealand courts, where MegaUpload is based. They’ve had to free Kim Dotcom, had to return some of his assets, and, most embarrassingly, had to actually fork over the evidence they have that he was breaking the law. It’s rapidly become clear that the FBI and the Department of Justice did not do any research into where American and New Zealand laws intersect and where there might be issues.

And now the case is essentially dead

New Zealand High Court Judge Helen Winkelmann ruled Thursday that the warrants did not adequately describe the offenses alleged… “Indeed they fell well short of that,” she said. “They were general warrants, and as such, are invalid.” She also ruled that it was unlawful for the data confiscated in the raid to have been sent offshore.”

Roughly translated, this means the United States can’t use anything it found on those hard drives, if it did happen to find anything, because it’s illegally confiscated. This is a wee bit of a problem because their entire case is likely built on what they found in those drives.

In short, the entire case has collapsed. The US government walks away with a black eye, the labels walk away with an object lesson that you can’t game the system, and hopefully MegaUpload users get their data back.

Read more:
Well, I’m not so sure that the labels will get such an “object lesson” that you “can’t game the system”. It’s hard for me to judge where that all goes next. Of course in the United States a Fourth Amendment right to be left alone without worrying about your free speech or free exercise of your religion might result in such a fishing expedition –like the non-specific “general warrant” they used–, and apparently in New Zealand there are some comparable rules.

Very very good article, and I wrote a response from a similar perspective in my own blog at, in reaction to the editor’s letter for the latest ACM Communications edition.

I would only amend this one by “svpow” with this.

Corporate profit-making (disdainfully called “greed”) has driven science and technology into new heights for centuries now with accelerating results. There are many of us who would pursue our own ideas if we had support for them, and open source software is an example of this, and a fantastic good for all of us.

I would call profit-making as “greed” when it passes the line of respecting other people’s own rights to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

The profitability model that pits publishers against the rest of us is crumbling from the onslaught of the Internet, and even from the new realization that the “gatekeepers” are actually choking out new ideas, new combinations of old ideas, and holding us back.

It worked once because academic publishers had a limited audience and needed a bottleneck. No more.

Throw it open to everybody in the world. Put the profit motive to work for us by letting anybody in on it that wants to. If it’s funded by taxes it sure should be open, but the actions of government agencies and the diversion of research funds to politically decided causes means taking your money to fund their own interests whether you like it or not. Politically selected “independent experts” are not independent at all.

For example, if you listen to government-funded peer-reviewed climate scientists, you might not even know that one of the hottest summers in decades comes timed together with one of the hottest, most active solar cycle maximum in decades.

In the editor’s note in the print edition of ACM Communications, Moshe Vardi comments on the direction that scientific publishing is going.

Most businesses have sellers and buyers, but academic fields have authors, publishers, and libraries. The print media and the peer review process, has kept the quality from dropping, in his view. The last word of what gets published is no longer the say-so of editors in the field, or the peer review process, but the publisher. The publishers also have opened up the “vanity press” to authors. In turn, the “publish or perish” paradigm has led the authors to take advantage of the entry of “vanity press” ideas, albeit under different names.

The profit motive came up again as a negative in all this. Ho-hum. Again? Will we never learn?

One commenter, Andrew Adams, pointed out, the reader was left out of this discussion.

But we all know that real breakthroughs in science meet resistance as they are mistaken as low quality or quack ideas. But with the barrier to on-line publishing so low now that even a caveman can do it, those breakthroughs along with quack ideas have access to all the audience that can find it or that cares to read it.

But never fear. Bach and Beethoven still have an audience that appreciates that kind of quality and then there is easy-come easy-go entertainment for the masses.

The editor’s letter is titled “Predatory Scholarly Publishing“. He contrasts a “typical business”, that has sellers and buyers, with the “scholarly publishing business”, in which you have publishers and libraries as sellers and buyers, but also (1) authors, and (2) editors and reviewers. The editors and reviewers have been gatekeepers, who are paid or earn civic duty or scholarly prestige.

The thrust of the essay is to lament that vanity publishing and publishers themselves are making more decisions on what to publish. Anyone who wants to find an audience that is willing to read his stuff will find it.

There’s that “evil profit motive” again, bringing down quality. But it is also bringing down cookie-cutter conformity. Quality stuff is still “out there” along with bad stuff.

Take a paper that would gone into the trash before. The author pays his “registration fee” to get it published. Now, this paper has a better chance of getting published. Say, a good chance. But then, anybody who reads it or sees it has a chance to pick it apart.

The P versus NP episode was a turning point in my opinion in this whole discussion.  The “proof” was “published” via Internet, and it took a lightning-fast less than 24 hours to fall hard. So quality and lack of it get exposed more quickly than ever now. What’s the problem?

The problem seems to be that those who had the role of gatekeepers up to now, are afraid that the reader is now going to get lower-quality product. Their position as gatekeepers had a purpose, but now the terrain is shifting.

Quality will not lose its respect. Like one comment pointed out the readers and the audience is pretty much the same thing. The readership and the authorship that respects quality in its field will find each other.

In my opinion, this will widen the field for non-conformist advances, and new ideas are almost by definition non-conformist. The paradigm of how to publish science is shifting, and with it there may be a few, or many, other paradigm shifts.

Better to let knowledge grow like wildfire. Truly bad stuff will get hooted down. The theory that the moon is made of green cheese does not stand a chance.

And never fear, ACM publications, periodicals, will be kept in high esteem for its readership.

But why should people who pay for the end product, the consumer of the product, not have any say in the product? The world will go on.

In my opinion, it is a torture of history and common sense to see the profit motive as a net negative in the computing world anyway.

The profit motive has driven great advances in computing. The main reason computing academics gets funding is because it has proven itself as a fertile field of study that has yielded a great many fruits in terms of practical applications. The vacuum tube, the transistor, the microchip, programming languages, airliners, and all the rest paid for many of the research directly, and often indirectly. McDonnel-Douglass was one of the major sponsors of engineering studies at Washington University, for example.

What we do need in the United States and everywhere else is a better educated populace. The only way to get that is to have an independently educated populace. By independent I mean absolutely free of any political meddling, and any government funding is political meddling.

As you’re finding out with publishers in the academic field, the guy that pays the bills calls the shots. In Austrian economics, they express it as the concept that demand drives the market. This is the way it should be. Until now, the bottleneck of print resources created demand for those with a reputation for selecting what goes into it. Now it opens up.

For politically driven media like Time Magazine and the New York Times, this means that much of the readership that had the choices limited to them by a few dozen media companies, now have a much broader selection on-line, and the body politic is making good use of it. Editorial offerings that were not before available are now accessible over the Internet.

We the readers are making good use of it. Bypassing gatekeepers is coming in vogue.

Wait! Not bypassing gatekeepers, but the fact is, the readership is morphing into its own gatekeeper. New structures of respect and prestige are forming.

But we do need a more enlightened and educated body politic.  For that you need to move toward a demographic that recovers the intellectual acumen of the generation that had high school entrance exams from 1910 that would stump the Harvard grad of today and flunk more than a few MIT grads to boot.

With alternate publishing outlets, new sciences and technologies that have huge, very huge potential, getting more eager audience and more play.

For example, all the traditional publishing structure in all probability would have prevented Fleishman and Pons from publishing anything in 1989. They bypassed that and told the world about it instead, bypassing all the bottlenecks and informing the entire world, including physics labs and physics students everywhere that there was a new energy kid on the block worth checking out:

Not being able to censor the news, the gatekeepers of publications and research money who did not want to see their careers and their expensive educations devalued, used the same means to debunk it. Unsuccessfully it turns out.

MIT has a billionaire hot-fusion program going, funded largely by government money. When they announced that they had failed to get the results that Fleishman and Pons got, one of their own faculty bolted, became a whistle-blower, said they did get promising results, and went off and founded the “New Energy Foundation”, to fund further research into this promising technology.

It is now getting more attention around the world, in fact, and Arthur C. Clarke has added his name to those calling on the US president and institutions around the world to invest more into this new, clean, potentially very cheap and very abundant energy source.

And what traditional academic publishing gatekeeper would have been able to give the time of day to Luis Cruz, the Honduran teen that invented “Eyeboard”, an inexpensive eye-tracking device that will help people with disabilities greatly.

Command and control don’t work in economic domains, why should it work in science or academics?

Suppression of the first advocate of the germ theory of disease resulted in a great many unnecessary deaths from infectious diseases because the medical profession refused to believe that invisible little animals were getting people sick. It also drove them to punish him for telling them the truth (“You’re killing people!”) and to have him put away in an asylum.

that got its first advocate sentenced by the quality-minded establishment to an insane asylum, blaming him for their deafness to the lives they were killing with their dirty hands, calling him crazy for saying so.

“We can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth”.


Google guilty of infringement in Oracle trial; future legal headaches loom:

In what could be a major blow to Android, Google’s mobile operating system, a San Francisco jury issued a verdict today that the company broke copyright laws when it used Java APIs to design the system. The ruling is a partial victory for Oracle, which accused Google of violating copyright law.

But the jury couldn’t reach agreement on a second issue—whether Google had a valid “fair use” defense when it used the APIs. Google has asked for a mistrial based on the incomplete verdict, and that issue will be briefed later this week.

So there you go, it’s official now. Oracle has every intention of putting its Java toothpaste back in the tube, and it has a big lawyer staff to help do it. They are famous for taking open source territory and staking a claim in it and digging in with its proprietary claws, and making money every way it can, tooth and nail.

They just took Java out of the running. Sun released it to the open source world.

And by the way, software algorithms are “patentable”? This is as preposterous as any mathematical solution to any math problem, the maps to get to there from here on paper, or in your mind, or a thought experiment.

So these two giants have proven arrogant, and they’re going after each other, and they’re acting like the pie is limited.

Larry Ellison has said “Privacy is dead, get over it”. And Google’s guys has said anonymity is dead. Easy for them to say, darlings of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and other entrenched establishment types. Anonymity is the defense of the poor guy against such power houses, and dictators.


Skype replaces P2P supernodes with Linux boxes hosted by Microsoft (updated):

Microsoft has drastically overhauled the network running its Skype voice-over-IP service, replacing peer-to-peer client machines with thousands of Linux boxes that have been hardened against the most common types of hack attacks, a security researcher said.

The change, which Immunity Security’s Kostya Kortchinsky said occurred about two months ago, represents a major departure from the design that has powered Skype for the past decade. Since its introduction in 2003, the network has consisted of “supernodes” made up of regular users who had sufficient bandwidth, processing power, and other system requirements to qualify. These supernodes then transferred data with other supernodes in a peer-to-peer fashion. At any given time, there were typically a little more than 48,000 clients that operated this way.

Kortchinsky’s analysis, which has not yet been confirmed by Microsoft, shows that Skype is now being powered by a little more than 10,000 supernodes that are all hosted by the company. It’s currently not possible for regular users to be promoted to supernode status. What’s more, the boxes are running a version of Linux using grsecurity, a collection of patches and configurations designed to make servers more resistant to attacks. In addition to hardening them to hacks, the Microsoft-hosted boxes are able to accommodate significantly more users. Supernodes under the old system typically handled about 800 end users, Kortchinsky said, whereas the newer ones host about 4,100 users and have a theoretical limit of as many as 100,000 users.

“It’s pretty good for security reasons because then you don’t rely on random people running random stuff on their machine,” Kortchinsky told Ars. “You just have something that’s centralized and secure.”

Kortchinsky discovered the Linux supernodes using a Skype probing technique he and colleague Fabrice Desclaux first demonstrated in 2006. (PDF versions of conference presentation slides are here and here.)

Kortchinsky’s discovery comes as Microsoft said it’s investigating recent demonstrations of an exploit that exposes the local and remote IP addresses of users who are logged in to the service. The attack reportedly relies on the open-source SkypeKit package.


It’s too bad in my opinion that academia and research has come to depend on government grants. The government monopoly especially on K-12 education is precisely the biggest block to giving brighter kids a chance to break free from constraints of ignorance.

As seen here, it creates a dependency that becomes a circular trap, subjects innovation to the political winds (whether via republic or dictatorship), and dissident research is suppressed through this mechanism along with peer review.

Thinking outside the box, the biggest innovations of most impact have been driven by industry and competition. Cell phone technology, transportation technology, Internet search technology, communications, and in almost all sectors of our lives. Even the awesome Israeli security technology makes use of private sector technology.

But yes, tell parents to take over their children’s education and drive them to better standards.