Original URL: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/11/22/letters_2211/

Student tasering will save the world from Linux

And prevent global warming

By Lucy Sherriff

Posted in Bootnotes, 22nd November 2006 09:56 GMT

Letters Lots to cover today, so let's get right to it. We start with a dig at Scott "The Green" McNealy, who described this week how he and Sun could stop global warming armed with nothing more than a bic biro, a used washing-up liquid bottle and some sticky-backed plastic (OK, maybe that wasn't quite what he said, but you know what we mean):

Interesting article about Scott McNealy telling people how energy efficient their new chips are - would he like to explain that to the people of Farnborough who have had to endure weeks of roadworks, where more power cables have been laid in to supply even more power to Sun Microsystems who have an HQ near Junction 4a of the M3. Keep up the good work.

Cheers, Matt

Your analysis of Nintendo smashing as a route to fame and fortune follows:

I read with a mixture of amusement and horror the story regarding the two snorkeldicks who purchased a PS3 and then sledgehammered the thing to pieces.

I noted that their financial model included the purchase of a second, bigger, 60GB model that they hope to sell on eBay to cover the cost of the wantonly destroyed 20GB version. However, I would imagine that the team of console crunching show-offs have not factored in the royalty payments or the MPA-initiated, court-extracted compensation for the use of the Franz Ferdinand music that plays almost throughout the currently available video clip.

If you are going to produce a video that you expect or want to be a high-profile news story, then for God's sake don't nick the incidental music off a commercial CD.


Will spammers kill themselves off with their continued fake stock plugs? We hope so...

There's actually a bit more to this story than you write. A couple of months ago I started analyzing the stock scams coming into my mailbox since they're almost impossible to filter out. I noticed the same trends that you did, with one important observation: They keep pumping the SAME stocks!

For example, I know that there have been at least *four* campaigns to push up [a particular stock], as I've gotten at least that many. (I stopped bothering to track it at that point!) I can see a PND working once, but once you see the exact same stock pumped four times, OF COURSE nobody is going to pay attention!

So it's a combination of laziness and stupidity on the part of the spammers; they're killing their *own* scam.


"but investors willing to make a habit of buying spammed stocks and losing money are certainly in short supply. " A fact which the lawyer acting for the third cousin of the ex-wife of the late General Sani Abacha will surely testify to as he turns to earning an honest crust....................


Who wants to do more status reporting? Yeah. Line up those metrics. Yeah.

Yeah, anyone can see the men who thought this up are not the people actually doing the work. It's total panic (including much stress and unpaid overtime) to get the quarterlies out on time as it is. Doing that on a weekly basis would probably more than double the administrative overhead for a listed company, be more prone to error, and then you've got the problem of auditing it.

The auditors would have to be present practically full-time. In a situation like that, people tend to "go native", it's only human (even in auditors). What price independence and objectivity?

Someone's been reading the more excitable Internet gurus with their sense of reality switched off.

Technically it's no doubt possible, but the figures would be worse than useless.


You argue that the police's latest way of dealing with students has its merits:

"As the officers attempted to escort him out, he went limp" The commie bastard! No wonder they tasered him - it's the only language they understand...


A judge handed a conviction over to a pair of information tea-leafs. You wondered if the learned Lord was punishing the right people:

<quote> By phoning organisations and often posing as employees, the couple were able to obtain bank account details, income tax information, and ex-directory telephone numbers of their targets. </quote>

Let me get this straight: some jackass phone a public office pretending to be an employee of same office, and get right away with bank account details and other thing? And _they_ got fined? Not the moron that just piped out the information for Blatant Stupidity? I'm impressed...


Put the boxing gloves on and step into the ring. Ting ting. In the red corner we have Novell and in the blue corner, Microsoft. Let's get it on:

Isn't it high time someone interviewed Ballmer and asked him, point-blank, to state exactly which intellectual property of Microsoft's is used in Linux? If he is able to make such a categorical statement, he must certainly know the exact nature of the infringement. If he chooses not to give a convincing reply, we can draw our own conclusions - probably, that Microsoft has been blustering and bullying again, in a futile effort to create FUD.

If, as I suspect, he would prevaricate and then point out how much KDE (for instance) looks like the Windows GUI, his attention could be drawn to the fact that ideas can neither be patented nor copyrighted. And if a look-and-feel like that of Windows can be patented or copyrighted, Apple still has a great case against Microsoft for Windows 1 (and, of course, Xerox against Apple).

The sad fact is that Microsoft - as often documented - has hardly invented a single feature of its software. Virtually everything has been copied from others, who did the hard work for far less reward. By suggesting that Linux uses Microsoft's IP, Ballmer is demonstrating yet again the psychological cliche that we are most prone to noticing and criticizing in other people those weaknesses from which we ourselves suffer.

In a word, Ballmer has been projecting.


And while we're on the subject of Mr Ballmer, we'll pause to consider his claims that MS holds patents on code that is integral to Linux:

I would estimate (with no expertise, just cynisism) that it is highly unlikely that Microsoft will be successful in demonstrating that they did actually invent something that Linux is using. If they did and users had to pay up or move on I wouldn't be surprised if users moved to Solaris. It has many of the same desirable features, and Microsoft really would have a hard time targetting that in the IP courts.


Quote: Ballmer said in a question and answer session at a technology conference that Microsoft signed the deal because Linux "uses our intellectual property" and it wanted to "get the appropriate economic return for our shareholders from our innovation".

I'm willing to stop using the wheel on my mouse when I'm in Linux... that will mean I'm not using any of Microsoft's innovations, and Ballmer should be happy.


Linux and the OSS do in a sense owe Microsoft. Even aside from patents, there has been such an enormous amount of reverse engineering that has enabled the open source movement to create software without spending billions on R&D.

A good example is Open Office. A rag-tag group of academics and hackers simply could not create software like this on their own, primarily because they simply do not know the requirements. MS Office, its interfaces, formats and functionality were a necessary template for Open Office, which duplicates it almost exactly.

I have some concern about this, because products like MS Office require a staggering investment of money and human resources, and reverse engineered copies of it bleed off the profit that fuels future R&D efforts.


WebRage? Pah, that is soooooo yesterday:

Hi, Unfortunately this is not the first case of Web Rage Attack. However, it is the first that seems to have been taken seriously by police.

I was attacked in a club after an argument with someone on a football message board. This was months after the argument. The police did nothing. They did not charge the culprit who even bragged about the attack on the same message board and is still gloating about the fact that he got away with it.

All this despite the premises having CCTV of the incident and security staff that witnessed the assault. But there you go, seems some people can get away with anything.


And on that cheerful note, we'll call time on this collection of your musings. More later in the week, so don't be shy. Tell us what you really think... ®