Sunday, July 26, 2009
Slow down cowboy, even if copyright ended tomorrow, all that needs happen is for a software developer to say, OK -- I will only release a binary to people who sign a contract with me that says I can sue them for breach if they distribute the software, and perhaps includes a liquidated damages provision (*). Just because copyright ends, doesn't mean you have the right to have someone else's work on your own terms. The only thing it would do would be to make it impossible to sue a user who did _not_ contract with the developer -- although a startup screen offering you the ability to agree to certain terms and use the program, or close it and not use the program, would be a way around even that.
Secondly, the end of copyright does not say anything about whether a company will give you the source code, and you'll face some stiff criminal penalties if you try to break in and steal it.
All the end of copyright would do is make the world full of different individual contracts -- reducing the standardization would mean a huge amount additional lawsuits and appeals over definitions and such, and would be very costly to companies and consumers who will ultimately eat those costs in the purchase price.
(*) liquidated damages provisions can be hard to enforce, but are used where it is difficult to calculate actual damages. The thing is, if you end up getting sued, you lose even if you win because winning is costly.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I've been using AVG Free as my anti-virus software for well over a year now. Having had nothing but problems with Norton products, and not liking the myriad processes and services invoked by McAfee, the more configurable AVG has proven a natural fit for my behave-wisely-and only-scan-when-something-seems-amiss philosophy. And, as you might've guessed from the name, it doesn't cost a dime.
My first impression of version 8 was that the company had finally got its GUI act together. Gone were the separate control, test, and vault applets and multiple settings dialogs. All the functions are now under one roof and settings melded into an expandable tree/tab control that makes adjusting the program far more intuitive and far less time consuming. Also, the new look introduced by version 8 is far more attractive than the old one, which often reminded me of Windows 98.
At first blush, version 8 also seemed quite a bit more effective than version 7, though updates to the version 7 virus database helped with that older utility quite a bit when I tested both side by side, as well as versus online scanners such as Trend Micro's House Call and Bit Defender. Unfortunately, as with most AV programs, AVG's false positive rate seems to have gone up as well. That said, AVG8 seemed about on par with the rest of the pack in that regard.
AVG 8 Free doesn't offer the rootkit or full spyware protection that the pay version has, and support is limited to the documentation found on the site and in user forums. However, the free version does offer a new toolbar for your browser to help fight off attacks from that quarter.
For those who share my minimalist philosophy, AVG is still configurable to the point where you can disable it and run it only when you think you've been invaded or have downloaded something suspect. And even when it is running in full auto mode, there are only two services and a system tray applet draining minimal CPU cycles. Alongside the equally low-profile NOD32 (which isn't free) and Antivira, AVG is my favorite AV software
Tip: When things are really a mess, boot to Windows Safe Mode (press F8 when booting) and run AVG 8. As do other AV programs, it will then scan using the command line interface with no nasty services running that might interfere.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
I'm pleased to present you with my first ever, terribly non-scientific spam survey. I reviewed 1010 spam messages collected over the course of a month from two domains that I manage. I reviewed each message and categorized it based on the text-only content. I did not open attachments, and I certainly did not follow URLs.
The reason this is non-scientific is because:
1. I failed to collect several key points of data including the actual time range the messages are from.
2. There's an excellent chance that many messages were zapped by my server-based spam filtering thus reducing the range of categories seen here
3. Virus spam isn't represented at all: virus-laden mail never hits my inbox because the server-based filter catches some and my anti-virus software (Trend Micro Internet Security) catches the rest
4. The email client I used for these domains (Mozilla Thunderbird) doesn't always categorize spam properly and I regularly just delete it from my inbox rather than take the time to recategorize the messages as spam so the filter improves. This ensures that spam messages were lost rather than included in the survey.
5. The email addresses are on commercial domains so there aren't any "drive by" spam messages that you'd see on Yahoo, Hotmail or even Gmail now. These would be messages that spammers send by automatically generating (geek-speak for "guessing" using a program) email addresses.
Enough nonsense, on to the results:
Free in Free Software is referring to freedom, not price. Having been used in this meaning since the 80s, the first documented complete definition appears to be the GNU's Bulletin, vol. 1 no. 1 , published February 1986. In particular, four freedoms define  Free Software:
GPT is a web program that helps coordinating a grassroot volunteer campaign based on the act of contacting political candidates before an election. Its aim is to act as a contact directory and to gather all information regarding the work of a decentralized volunteer campaign (who is in charge of which candidate or constituency, etc.). GPT also helps maintaining a numbering of candidates supports.
=: Newsletter Subscribers Who Use HotMail :=
The Microsoft "service" that is blocking our legitmate mail says:
- Windows Live Hotmail also enables each user the ability to set filter levels to further improve the delivery of e-mail to their account. Users can easily add a sender or domain name to the Allowed Sender List so that the e-mail from that sender or domain is never treated as junk regardless of the content of the message. Users can configure the settings to accept only messages from the Contacts and Safe Senders List, giving total control over which messages are received.
With a larger selection of software and new arrivals every week, we look forward to serving you at Planet CD-ROM. To show our appreciation for your support, we're offering a SPECIAL LIMITED TIME offer:
Movie downloads are still a flop
Skipping the video store sounds good, but don’t count on it anytime soon
Given ALL THE recent hullabaloo about digital movie downloads, you’d think
Online services such as Amazon’s Unbox, apple’s iTunes, cinema now, and Movielink promise instant access to movies without your having to schlep to blockbuster or wait for Netflix.you can watch a movie shortly after it starts to download, carry movies on a portable player, and with cinema now, burn them to disc to watch in your living room.So what’s wrong with this picture? A lot.Some downloadable films are more expensive than their DVD counterparts and offer fewer features. Downloading the movies can be tiresome. And watching films on something other then your pc or portable device can be a pain