March 25th, 2009


Giving Software Patents A Kick To The Groin!

One of the main concerns of us free software advocates was the threatened spread of software patents from the US to Europe.  The European Union has been considering software patents for a while.  Last time it came up, it was defeated by one vote, courtesy of my ancestral homeland of Poland.  The movement started again.  Big companies from the obvious (M$) and the not so obvious (IBM) were lobbying for software patents to be allowed in Europe.  Richard Stallman and the FSFE were representing the Common Good, arguing that software patents are evil, and if you want proof, just look at America.

(Side note:  some people don't understand the opposition to software patents, so let me explain.  Software is math.  Plain old math.  You are describing things to the computer mathematically.  You cannot patent math.  Also, the old test is, "If you can kick it, you can patent it."  Software is protected by copyrights.  Ideas are copyrights, identifiers are trademarks, and physical objects are patents.  Everyone has their protection, but software is the only one that gets more than its allotted protections.)

The vote came down.  EU voted 648 to 14 against software patents.

Six hundred forty fuckin' eight.

To fourteen.

And the number wouldn't have been such a blowout, but a lot of voters were annoyed by the lobbyists representing those that wanted software patents, and voted against them out of spite.

They say Europe is different from the US.  I'll say.  No software patents, lobbyists are a liability, and the beer is better.

File This Under, "Well, You Asked For It"

We professional pranksters usually avoid doing things on April Fools' Day.  Just like how professional drinkers sit out New Years and St. Paddy's Day, there are too many amateurs out there mucking things up.  AFD is a favorite of virus writers, and a new one is coming out, Conficker.  Now in its third variant (collect 'em all, and redeem for valuable prizes!), no one knows what it is going to do when D-Day hits on April 1, only that all infected machines will go zombie and connect to a remote computer on the 'net to receive instructions.  The first version had a list of 250 possible sites, which got snapped up or shut down by ICANN and security folks.  Conficker C, however, has 50K sites it will search when it goes active.  M$ has offered a quarter-million dollar bounty for the writer of the virus.  So far, no leads.

You all know what I'm about to say next.

This wouldn't happen if they ran Linux.