Ideas & Commentary

20 Years Ago

February 1986. I was in Oakland, CA, and Lou Katz, founding president of USENIX, asked me whether I was interested in becoming Executive Director of the organisation. He showed me the ad and the job description. I applied. I was interviewed by Debbie Scherrer, Steve Johnson, and Tom Ferrin. I got the job.

The next three years were the most fun I can imagine anyone having while getting paid for it. We were running 4.2BSD and then 4.3BSD on a VAX 780. Early in 1987 we got a SUN and a 3/60 and two 3/50s.

In 1987, I sponsored the first LISA; the first POSIX workshop; the first C++ workshop. We began the publication of Computing Systems. We sponsored the founding of UUNET by Rick Adams and Mike O'Dell.

Interview: Dru Lavigne, BSD Certification Group

Interview: Dru Lavigne, BSD Certification Group - The BSD Certification Group (BSDCG) is a non-profit organization established to create and maintain a global certification standard for system administration on BSD-based operating systems. After a year of work, the group behind the BSD Certification project plans to complete the process for the first certification (BSD Associate) in the first half of this year, with the first exam to be available by the second quarter. We interviewed Dru Lavigne, BSD advocate and creator of the initiative. [Newsforge]

Globe and Mail: Liberal MP's fundraiser causes controversy

Globe and Mail: Liberal MP's fundraiser causes controversy - This Globe and Mail article by Roma Luciw about Bulte's fundraiser tonight contains this gem:
"I will not be silenced by zealots like Michael Geist and political opportunists like Peggy Nash who are making something out of nothing," she said, adding that she believes Mr. Geist's comments are nearing the point of being defamatory.
"I am not going to sue him before the election but dammit, watch me after the election."

A Web pioneer lays out the drawbacks of American-style copyright laws

A Web pioneer lays out the drawbacks of American-style copyright laws - Canadian science fiction author Cory Doctorow wrote an article in the Toronto Star which includes:
As well as being a writer, I'm a partner in a copyright-based business whose server is located in Toronto, not far from Bulte's riding. Boing Boing is the daily blog I co-edit; it gets about 1.7 million readers a day. We rely on copyright to protect our income, but we also need copyright to get out of the way when we quote, excerpt and include stills from other websites in the course of reporting on them.

Sony Hit With Canadian Class Action Suits

Sony Hit With Canadian Class Action Suits - With Sony slated to appear in a New York courtroom on Friday to seek approval for its class action settlement for the rootkit fiasco, its Canadian arm is now facing several Canadian class action suits.  The Merchant Law Firm, based in Calgary, launched class action suits in both the Ontario and B.C. courts yesterday (Ontario brief, B.C. brief).  This follows a less-publicized class action launched in Quebec against Sony last November.  All of these cases arise from the rootkit issue. The briefs make for interesting reading as the Canadian cases raise a long list of legal issues including the violation of Canadian privacy law, breach of contract, violation of the Competition Act, and a host of tort claims.

Open Source and the Canadian Election

Open Source and the Canadian Election - As most Canadians know at this time, we're in the middle of an election campaign, the vote is January 23.

I don't know whether you consider open source to important enough of a public policy matter to make it an election issue, but consider this: The Green Party actually has as specific policy the goal to:

Require federal departments and agencies to transition to open source or free software for general applications, and provide free tech support to Canadian companies who also use this software.

Cleaning Up Copyright

Cleaning Up Copyright - With both prospective Canadian Heritage Ministers accepting copyright
lobby cash (see The Sad Reality of Copyright Policy In Canada, Campaign Contributions, Tipping Point, That's What Friends Are For) and the funders making it clear that they are in the market for more (see Business As Usual), it is time to clean up copyright in Canada.  The election campaign provides the perfect time to do so.  The short term solution
is obvious - Bulte should cancel the January 19th fundraiser and apologize to her constituents and the Canadian public.

Why UserFriendly went private again

Why UserFriendly went private again - For many in the computer industry, the UserFriendly comic strip is the first Web page they open in the morning. However, only its most loyal readers are aware that, over the past five years, the company behind the cartoon has wandered into the public equity market, only to return to the status of a private company. Recently, I talked about this journey with JD Frazer, the creator of the strip, and David Barton, vice president of Their account is a practical lesson in the difficulties involved in such business maneuvers -- to say nothing of a testimony to their collective ability to keep their business, ethics, and audience intact. [Newsforge]

Who's in charge of these user groups anyway?

Who's in charge of these user groups anyway? - They may be powered by passion and a love for technology, but it's often the vendors that keep these organizations alive. We talk to leaders about how they deal with the conflict of interest issues. Also: Are LUGs immune? []