LJ Archive



Issue #90, October 2001

Stop the Presses, LJ Index and more.

Postscript to This Month's Geek Law Column

Shortly after I wrote this month's article I went to the O'Reilly Open Source Convention in San Diego. There, on a display table in the exhibit hall, I found cans of a beverage containing carbonated water, corn syrup, caramel color and caffeine, proudly bearing the trademark “Open Cola”. Five cents from every can of Open Cola will be donated to the Free Software Foundation. So it does matter which brand of cola you drink! By the way, the recipe for Open Cola is available under the GPL; see opencola.com.

LJ Index—October 2001

  1. Total compensation in billions of dollars for the top executives at the top 807 companies in Silicon Valley in the last fiscal year: 4.8

  2. Above number as a multiple of the prior year: 2

  3. Percentage of decline in stock prices of the MN 150 Index, which tracks the largest Silicon Valley companies over the same period: 24

  4. Number of times the word “shit” appears in the first “South Park” program of the latest season on Comedy Central, according to an odometer that displayed a running count on the screen: 142

  5. Number of e-mails received by Comedy Central in response to the same “South Park” episode: 4

  6. Percentage of received e-mails supportive of profanity in the episode: 100

  7. Number of patents issued in the year 2000 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office: 158,118

  8. Position of IBM among companies receiving US patents in 2000: 1

  9. Number of US patents issued to IBM: 2,886

  10. Number of US companies in the top ten recipients of US patents in 2000: 4

  11. Number of Japanese companies in the same top ten: 6

  12. Losses in millions of dollars by Webvan when it went Chapter 11 in July 2001: 860

  13. Number of pages crawled by Google: 1,346,966,000

  14. Number of Google-searched pages in which “sun” appears: 25,500,000

  15. Number of Google-searched pages in which “microsoft” appears: 20,200,000

  16. Number of Google-searched pages in which “dell” appears: 14,700,000

  17. Number of Google-searched pages in which “solution” appears: 13,300,000

  18. Number of Google-searched pages in which “ibm” appears: 11,200,000

  19. Number of Google-searched pages in which “unix” appears: 10,900,000

  20. Number of Google-searched pages in which “perl” appears: 7,650,000

  21. Number of Google-searched pages in which “python” appears: 2,070,000

  22. Number of Google-searched pages in which “linux” appears: 31,600,000

  23. Linux-referenced pages per thousand Google finds on the Web: 2.35


  • 1-3: San Jose Mercury News

  • 4-6: The New Yorker

  • 7-11: United States Patent and Trademark Office

  • 12: The Wall Street Journal

  • 13-23: Google, July 12, 2001

Windows Server Gains Appear to Be at Sun's Expense

Netcraft's July Web Server Survey (netcraft.com/survey) showed a huge jump in Microsoft IIS' share of web server software usage on 31,299,592 surveyed net-connected computers. After reaching a plateau of around 20% in 1998, IIS suddenly jumped nearly 5% to 25.88%. Apache reciprocally declined by 4.29% to 58.73%. Microsoft's gain represented about 2% of all active sites on the Web.

Netcraft attributed the gain to a single event: the conversion of domain registrar Namezero's servers from Solaris to Windows 2000 and from Apache to IIS, along with a related move by part of Network Solutions' domain registration system. Network Solutions also moved physically from Digex to Interland (where Microsoft has held a minority interest). “These large installations had previously been masking a general decline in Solaris share on the Web, which is now down four percentage points over the last year”, Netcraft reported. “Additionally, the Network Solutions site was by far the largest Netscape-Enterprise installation in terms of numbers of hostnames, and one would expect that Netscape-Enterprise overall share will drop toward the 2-2.5% it has in the active sites analysis over the next few months.”

The previous month's survey also showed a shift in Windows' direction, again at Solaris' expense. In that survey, which attempted to count computers rather than hosts, Netcraft found that 49% of the surveyed computers were running Windows. Linux accounts for about 28%. And, all UNIX-related computers accounted for 45%. The remaining 6% were non-UNIX or unknown. “As some of the 3.6% of computers not identified by Netcraft operating system detector will in reality be Windows systems”, Netcraft reported, “it would be fair to say about half of public web servers world-wide are run on Microsoft operating systems.”

Netcraft also reported that Linux “has been consistently gaining share since this survey started but, interestingly, not significantly to Windows' detriment. Operating systems that have lost share have been Solaris and other proprietary operating systems, and to a small degree BSD.”

The significant interpretation of the data, Netcraft suggests, is that Solaris is “being continually chased further and further up market by Intel-based operating systems, with Sun in turn progressively eliminating the other proprietary UNIX operating systems.”

—Doc Searls

OpenPGP Signatures: the New Baseball Cards?

How well-connected are you? Drew Streib can tell you to four decimal places. Drew, who now runs an OpenPGP keyserver in addition to his other thankless tasks, is currently publishing monthly reports on how closely OpenPGP users are connected to the Web of Trust. His math, based on earlier calculations by Neal McBurnett, is complicated, but the result is a current map of the community's Web of Trust.

Closest to the center of the Web are crypto luminaries and organizers of keys-signing events, including Peter N. Wan, Ingmar Camphausen and Theodore Ts'o. Philip R. Zimmermann, who wrote the original PGP, is only number 24.

Drew's report comes at an exciting time for encrypted mail. GNU Privacy Guard, a free OpenPGP implementation, is available in common distributions, support in popular mailers such as mutt makes encryption convenient to use and the FBI's much-publicized Carnivore snooping system certainly hasn't hurt.

Signing people's keys to do better in Drew's rankings might seem like a pointless game, but it really does expand the Web of Trust. You can never lose juice by exchanging signatures with someone else, and it helps everyone's ability to send trusted, encrypted mail. Even if you sign the key of some “lamer” at the bottom of the list, you'll both move up next month. (As for me, I got a Theodore Ts'o! Look out next month.)

Get started with PGP using the free implementation, GNU Privacy Guard, from gnupg.org. Then read Drew's report at dtype.org/keyanalyze.

—Don Marti

Stop the Presses: Something to CARP about

On Monday, July 30, 2001 the US Copyright Office convened the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (yes, CARP, loc.gov/copyright/carp) to make a decision shortly on conditions under which webcasters will be required to make royalty payments. The results could be highly inconvenient for webcasters of all kinds. Howard Greenstein, a webcasting pioneer, puts it this way in his weblog:

Webcasters, many of whom have been accounting for what they have estimated they would have to pay under a negotiated compulsory license (and putting aside revenue for years) are about to find out (within 60 days) what it will cost them. Unless, of course, they are an “interactive” station. If you're a standard station under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, you play music in a certain way. You don't give people much choice about what they hear.

Yet the number of streaming sources on the Net runs into uncounted thousands (or perhaps millions). What's more, many of these are far more interactive than traditional broadcasting has ever been or can even comprehend. What's the news for them? Easy: work outside the system.

That's what KPIG has been doing since it became the first commercial radio station ever to broadcast on the Web. KPIG broadcasts from (no kidding) Freedom, California on 107-oink-5 on the FM band. On the Web, however, KPIG is a virtual Idaho. Its 128KB MP3 stream is one of the Web's hi-fi music beacons. So are the half-dozen or so other streams the station puts out at various speeds for various clients and bandwidths (and with content other than KPIG alone). Naturally (their site reports) they digitize that content on a Linux PC with an open-source LAME MP3 encoder (mp3dev.org/mp3).

KPIG, which once described its format as “mutant cowboy rock and roll”, is one of the few remaining commercial stations where the disc jockeys still choose the music, and community ties are so close it's hard to tell where the station ends and its constituency begins. As a successful business (it has always done pretty well in the ratings and sells plenty of advertising), KPIG also has managed to remain both artist- and industry-friendly. Every song the station plays is listed live on the Web, along with links that make it easy to buy the CD, research the artist or follow a tour schedule. Without a doubt, KPIG owns the high-mud mark for combining commercial success, community involvement, resourceful use of free and open-source software and adaptiveness to a surreally perverse environment.

The hacker in chief at KPIG is “Wild Bill” Goldsmith, one of KPIG's Founding Farmers and the proprietor of RadioParadise.com. Unencumbered by the need to participate in the fully regulated environment of commercial broadcasting, Radio Paradise is beating a path through the uncharted wilderness where artists and technically smart connoisseurs will rebuild their own industry from the outside in. Asked for the technical angle on Radio Paradise, Bill writes:

[Radio Paradise is] based on a set of software tools—for picking and scheduling music and doing voice tracks from anywhere over the Net, and for accepting and organizing listener feedback on my playlist. Everything I'm doing software-wise is 100% open source: Linux, PHP, Perl, Postgres, and Icecast.

I am convinced that what you see at radioparadise.com represents the future of radio, or of quality radio, anyway: very interactive, tightly controlled artistically (no random segues, everything happens for a reason)--completely free from the influences of the radio/music industry hype machine (to the best of my ability, anyway)--and supported primarily by voluntary contributions from listeners.

This isn't a game plan that's going to make anyone rich. But it can make it possible for anyone with talent to make a very comfortable living without compromizing their integrity in any way—and that's all I for one have ever wanted.

I'm an old radio freak and have been a fan of KPIG and its ancestors going back to the Sixties. Living, breathing radio stations like KPIG, run by people who love the business more for the good it does than for the money it makes, have gone out like candles in the rain—first one by one, then by the dozens and finally by the thousands.

It's not surprising to find a hacker starting a bonfire with the last candle that stands.

—Doc Searls

They Said It

Sober nations have all at once become desperate gamblers and risked almost their existence upon the turn of a piece of paper. To trace the history of the most prominent of these delusions is the object of the present pages. Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.

—Charles MacKay, 1841

You can't wake a person who is pretending to be asleep.

—Navajo Proverb

The artistic temperament is a disease that affects amateurs.

—G. K. Chesterton

Jetlag is evil. But not as evil as Flash.

—Deborah Branscum

Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies.

—polar bear on Slashdot

One night I was layin' down, I heard mama 'n papa talkin', I heard papa tell mama, let that boy boogie-woogie, it's in him, and it got to come out. And I felt so good, went on boogie'n just the same.

—John Lee Hooker

To suggest that the author knows best how to write effectively to each individual reader is silly, yet that's what I understand of your position.

—John Wilcox, Microsoft employee, defending Smart Tags

Even if Smart Tags don't violate copyright or deceptive trade laws, they still violate the integrity of the Web. Part of the appeal of the Web is that it allows anyone to publish anything, to take their thoughts, feelings and opinions and put them before the world with no censors or marketroids in the way. By adding Smart Tags to web pages, Microsoft is interposing itself between authors and their audience. Microsoft told Walter Mossberg, “The feature will spare users from under-linked sites.” Microsoft is in effect deciding how authors should write, and how developers should build, web sites.

—Chris Kaminski

Intellectual property (IP) has been driving the species for some five million years. In the past 100 or so years, it's increasingly been saddled with the chore of lining the pockets of middlemen and parasites who, sans this lining, would lack sufficient intellect to open a can of beer.

—Tom Matrullo

The genius of you Americans is that you never make clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated stupid moves that make us wonder at the possibility that there may be something to them that we are missing.

—Gamel Abdul Nasser

If the business notion of best practices had been applied from the dawn of human civilization, human beings never would have achieved civilization. Art history would focus on things like ancient Roman bas-reliefs of the current Tide and Cheer equivalents, the Sistine Chapel ceiling would say “Bank With Medici!” and instead of a torch, the Statue of Liberty would be brandishing a tube of Preparation H.

—Christopher Locke

We are natural villagers. For most of mankind's history we have lived in very small communities in which we knew everybody and everybody knew us. But gradually there grew to be far too many of us, and our communities became too large and disparate for us to be able to feel a part of them, and our technologies were unequal to the task of drawing us together. But that is changing.

—Douglas Adams

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