CLUE blogs

FLOSS is to software what patents were to historical tangible inventions

I wrote the following as a reply to an article written by Shane Schick titled Truth, justice and the open source way which discussed FLOSS and the patent system.

I believe that FLOSS is to software what the patent system was for tangible inventions of physical things in the past.

Historically we had limited communications technologies and mobility slowing down collaboration. Inventions of tangible things took a lot of time and energy to move from design to prototype to distributable product. Within this context patents solved important problems. Without governments granting a temporary monopoly to the first inventor there would be too much risk to trying to develop ideas, and too much of an incentive to keep the ideas secret. Far too many inventions were kept secret and lost with the death of the inventor. A patent filing required a full disclosure of the invention such that someone skilled in the art could study, replicate and improve upon it, with the 20 year monopoly representing the slower realities of the day.

Foreign Policy Magazine article on open source

While it's provocatively titled, "Beyond the Open-Source Hype", this article is reasonably balanced. While it does give Miscoroft a little too much benefit of the doubt, it does come to a conclusion I agree with: open source is certainly worth using, but in some cases the expectations from it are a bit overstated.

To me, just the appearance of this issue in a magazine that usually has little to do with IT, offering commentary that "Governments may be wise to choose open source", is one more small victory by itself.

More on Phishing epidemic

As a followup to yesterday's thought on phishing, I thought a quick review of how to check if a message is phishing or not might be useful.

  1. What is "phishing"? The best answer I found was this google link
  2. What to look for? Well links that ask for updates to personal information, accounts or memberships et cetera.
  3. Check any links offered to see if they actually belong to the company perportedly asking for the information. In yesterday's email example the link to turned out to be in other IP space.

Phishing epidemic?

For the second time in two days I have received a phishing email. It is puportedly from but a little research shows that it is really out of the IP space of a Montreal based company that develops and sells business intelligence solutions. Most annoying especially after reporting to yesterday and getting no response.

So what to do? I found no Canadian sites collecting data on phihing exercises but I did find a couple elsewhere: and
I reported to both.

So be warned, the attempts are getting more and more sohistcated. By way of example, here's an excerpt from the messages I received:

John Dvorak attacks DRM, a few years too late

There's not much that longtime tech columnist John Dvorak has to has that I find agreeable. He's been wrong on so many issues related to open source it's been hard to keep track.

This week, however, there's finally something on which we can agree, as he implores his readership to Screw the Digital-Rights Bugaboo. Of course, in the US such a plea at this time is somewhat pathetic, as the DMCA is already in place. Where was this opinion when the DRM debate was actually going on south of the border? I guess I shouldn't expect more from Dvorak, but I guess it's (maginally) better late than never.

Taking Backups Using tar command in Linux and unix

The tar backup program is an archiving program designed to store and extract files from an archive file known as a tarfile. A tarfile may be made on a tape drive; however, it is also common to write a tarfile to a normal file.

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Introduction: Russell McOrmond, CLUE policy coordinator

I have been invited by the executive to be a policy coordinator, working for CLUE in Ottawa. My focus will be on the federal government and federal policy, but will also be collaborating with other CLUE members on other levels of government as well.

Political and Policy Advocacy

I thought that this being my first foray into the blog world that I would like to address something that is important not only to CLUE but also to other FOSS projects. I am most familiar with and its deployment via the Ontario Ministry of Education. This is a significant change for the government to go to Open Source after initially choosing StarOffice.

Okay now to get to the point which is that the Ontario government itself is not considering using but is sticking with MSO. To me this is a waste of your and my tax dollars and should be remedied. How? By each of us who use and work with Open Source to lobby our government representives. I started with my MPP, David Caplan, some time ago and will meet again with him, even though I moved from the constituency, to give him charts and spreadsheets that demonstrate that the cost of moving in this direction would cost about half of what it costs annually with the present choice.

An Introduction

Let me introduce myself to the CLUE community. My name is Jim Elliott and I am the advocate for Open Computing (including Linux and Open Source) at IBM Canada Ltd. (which covers Canada and the Caribbean). I have been working pretty much full-time on Linux since mid-1998. First as the launch manager for Linux on IBM mainframes for the Americas and then since January of 2002 in my current role.

My web site is at where you will find copies of presentations I have made at public events recently on Linux and Open Source.

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