We don’t want u to have a stinking internet kill-switch

As we can see in Iran, Tunisia, Egypt, and what is being debated in the US now…internet kill switches! The communications infrastructure should not be controlled by anyone! It should be allowed to function no matter what. We have to trust in people…that is the basic premise around a democracy…that the voice of the people is going to be the message we can most agree with. We cannot leave the control of the infrastructure to corporations, they just fold and wilt when any power entity tells them to pull the plug.

So I ask, how can we protect and own the internet and communications infrastructure that we rely on?

One of the stories I loved reading about was the gang who setup their own cell tower base stations at burning man.  Do we need government to routinely shaft us in the name of security?  Surely, we only want peaceful demonstrations, and no looting, vandalism.  However, we need to stop listening to their cries of security and terrorism, because the tools that they unleash on the terrorist, come home to be unleashed on us.  Ditch your fear of your neighbour, try to understand their grievances, if they are legitimate, your own innate sense of morality will want to correct injustices.  Shams, such as US/Israel negotiations with Palestine, can only occur when there is information blackout.

People give credit to Facebook for helping to topple the Tunisian autocratic regime, but it’s not just Facebook, it’s the whole technical landscape that is allowing people to talk to people and organize.  Cell phone towers beget SMS, fiber trunks beget ISP’s, and Open Source Software begets Facebook.  Therefore look at the links in the chain of keeping channels open between you and I and don’t let a small power elite have control over it.  Lets work towards taking these things back…and so preserve humanity in our world.

I know there are technologies like Tor, but is it possible to setup these networks in a pinch, make them all pervasive, with no central points of control.  What about mesh networks?  Lets let consumerism and commercialism drive technology that ultimately feeds human struggle for freedom.  And vice-versa.

Lets resolve to have peace and freedom in the world.  Lets aim to devolve power, not concentrate it.  Lets learn to have faith in the democratic process.

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Java released with contradictory licenses. GPL v2 contradicts the TCK.

The GPL v2, is all about giving the person who receives that license the permission to modify the original software and make derivative works, in exchange for that person being obligated to pass along that freedom to whoever uses the new work.    This is EXACTLY the opposite of what the TCK requires:

“…a Licensee Implementation that

(i) fully implements the Java Specification, including all its required interfaces and functionality;

(ii) does not modify, subset, superset or otherwise extend the Licensor Name Space, or include any public or protected packages, classes, Java interfaces, fields, methods or constructors within the Licensor Name Space other than those required/authorized by the Specification…”

If I receive a program licensed under the GPL v2, I never in a million years would think that I can’t modify it so that I must preserve every interface and functionality!!!  That’s basically saying you can’t modify the program!

What more black and white contradiction could you possibly have?  So which license should be the one that people are required to follow?  The GPL v2 or the OpenJDK Community TCK License Agreement?

If Sun (and now Oracle) licensed Java under the GPL v2 which indemnifies Google from any patent lawsuits related to the licensed code explicitly:

Clause (7) of the license clearly says:

“If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.”

Which means, if you are going to go after anyone with patent (or copyright) claims that pertain to the software licensed by the GPL v2, then you cannot release the software under GPL v2.  However, Sun clearly licensed Java under the GPL v2, so they indemnified everyone from any patent lawsuits that are derived from the licensed software.

The purpose of the TCK was to avoid the tactic that Microsoft tried to use against java to “embrace, extend, extinguish”.  Not even the most clinically insane person would ever argue that Google, and it’s Android platform are trying to extinguish Java.  In fact the opposite is true.  They breathed new life into mobile Java, that was otherwise pretty dull when you look at Java Micro Edition.

So the wording and intent of the licenses offered by SUN indemnify Google from the action that Oracle is taking.

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You can’t use Java on the coolest platform…mobile!

Two statements:

  • I love programming in Java.
  • The mobile platform is the coolest platform to code for.

Oracle is standing between me and 6 million other Java developers from working on the coolest platform… mobile.  As you all know, Oracle has launched a multi-pronged attack on Java on the mobile platform by first suing Google over Android, and now doing a back-room deal with IBM to get IBM to ditch Harmony…which the Android virtual machine uses.

The first qualifier for free (FOSS) software according to the FSF (Free Software Foundation) is: The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0). This is exactly the freedom that is destroyed by Sun’s and now Oracle’s insistence on a ‘Field of Use’ restriction…which means…don’t even think about using Java on mobile.  How can anyone call Java free?

I wonder how much Steve Jobs is paying Larry Ellison to inject all this hatred into the mobile Java world…which Google brought back from Java Micro Edition oblivion?  What’s the collateral damage of this?  Moving Java out of the data center onto client platforms, mobile, desktop, is a dream many of us have had for years…but throwing a stake into the heart of mobile java…just sets the hope of being able to leverage Java skills in other places, years backwards! Unfortunately, it’s the 6 million Java developers…and the 6 billion potential users who are getting shafted over Oracle’s attempt to use us to cash in on mobile royalties.  Pretend Java is free…but limit that freedom with a Field of Use restriction, so that any momentum built up in server side usage, can be used to extract ransom from anyone who wants to use it in on any form factor that can’t support the entire Open JDK implementation!

I guess even Richard Stallman was hoodwinked when he proclaimed “Thus, the Java language as such is no longer a trap.”

Do I have to revert to C++ to get any sense of freedom?  Its a real sham(e).

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The corporate attack on freedom

Microsoft has joined the assault on Google and Android.  The reason Oracle, Apple, Microsoft and other are attacking Google and Android, is because Android is a run away success, and it threatens the lock-in revenue that incumbents like Oracle, Apple, Microsoft and others have been enjoying.  Make no mistake, this is going to be the biggest battle, and most important battle for the next 5 years.

To understand the context, Android represents freedom.  It is based on Linux, which is the pre-eminent free OS.  Google, as they do, is giving the their addition to Linux, their Dalvik VM away without license to handset makers and network operators.  The OS and the apps on it arguably rival, if not well surpass what is offered by Apple and it’s runaway success with the iPhone.

With iPhone Apple makes and controls almost all aspects of your mobile experience.  They make the hardware, the OS, and they are the gatekeepers of the Application Market.  The only part of it they don’t control is the network…and even here they make exclusive agreements so you initially could only get the phone if you subscribed to the AT&T network.  AT&T would have paid handsomely for this exclusivity…and passed the cost of that on to you the consumer.

Google is on the other end of the spectrum…they make their money on Ads, so they can do the following:

  • Anyone and everyone is making hardware for Android…this is good for you as a consumer, as the price for the hardware becomes a commodity and the price is driven down.  So you can get an incredible smart phone, for dirt cheap.
  • Open sourcing all the software on the phone.  Linux is already open source, but they also open source the Dalvik VM which is the key piece of software besides the OS on the phone.  Open source is ALWAYS good for the consumer.  Of course Apple has done the opposite, taken BSD and closed sourced it into iOS.  The BSD license isn’t a viral license like the GPL so they can do that.
  • There is no license to use Android, so the network operators and handset manufacturers don’t need to bundle that cost into their products…so again, this gets cheaper for you and I.
  • They have a free, open market that they don’t control like Apple does in it’s North Korean tyrannical way.  Anyone can write any application and submit it to the Android Market…even if that software threatens another piece of software by being cheaper and better.  Again excellent for the consumer.

So why should you care about the following things:

  • Oracle sues Google over alleged Java patent infringement in the Android Dalvik VM.
  • Microsoft sues Motorola, alleging several of the cell phone maker’s Android devices infringe on Redmond’s patents.
  • Apple sued HTC for Android phone-related IP infringement.

Starting to see a pattern?  Doesn’t this look like Microsofts use of SCO to target Linux. Did you know that Steve Jobs is good friends with Bill Gates and Larry Ellison.  Any doubt that this sucks for you and me and freedom.  Look at this, I run Ubuntu, a free Linux based OS, and I wanted to copy a PDF document onto my iPhone so I could read it on the plane.  I want to plug my iPhone in and drag and drop the PDF into a folder that I can open on the phone and read the PDF document.  Even this simplest of scenarios cannot be done…not because the technology isn’t capable of it…no, simply because the Recording Industry caused my phone to be hobbled to avoid copying MP3’s.  The supreme court has ruled that this is legal in the Betamax case.  In short, if a device has shown that it can be used for non-copyright infringement purposes, the manufacturer cannot be held liable if a consumer does engage in copyright infringement… thus the device can be allowed to live and be produced.  So Sony won against the Medias attempt to squash VHS’s.  Of course the VHS video rental market turned into a huge bonanza for the Motion Picture industry…but that never stopped them from resisting changes that benefited them before.

We get lazy, it’s human nature, things are pretty good.  But don’t fall asleep, wake up, we all need to continue to fight for our freedom or others will gradually and progressively rob it from us.  We have inherited a democracy, but our laziness is a slap in the face of our founding fathers, who shucked off the tyranny of oppressive incumbents.

Vote with your wallet.  Don’t buy any Apple products…I’ve been through the whole bad nightmare of it myself.  First I wanted to program in Ruby on Rails as it seemed a nice alternative to J2EE…well Textmate seemed to be the best tool for development of it and it only ran on Mac so I bought a MacBook.  I wanted to listen to my music in my living room so I bought an AirPort…but for some reason it was quite intermittent, so I ended up buying an AirPort extreme to see if that would help…it didn’t.  All it was, was an over priced router…like think 3X what it should cost.  This is the kind of lock in companies like Apple strive for.  An iMac, or several later (sorry family I know it seemed cool, but I repent as the family techno leader, I failed you too).  Between myself and family members, I’m sure we spent upwards of $20,000.00 to participate in the Apple family.  MobileMe, etc…

I should join or start AA…Apple Anonymous!  Anyway, please don’t be suckered in like I was.  They are great freer alternatives.  Ubuntu is excellent, Android is excellent.  Both underpinned by a rock-solid free(dom) OS, Linux.  You can sync your contacts through Google (see you later MobileMe, you suck hard!).  Here are some things I want you to try to do:

  • Try to rescue your Address Book from Apple land…its freaking hard!  Easy to put in, hard to get out.  Forget about syncing with google or something else.  My contacts are mine, it should be easy to move them around etc…
  • Try to free your email from Apple Mail…it may be impossible…I haven’t even tried.  It should be simple and free and obvious.

All these things should be free simple and obvious…but they are not because none of the evil corporations (Apple, Microsoft, Oracle) want it that way.  But there are freedom fighters out there.  Google seems pretty darn good at the moment.  Ubuntu, is a pretty good distribution of Linux.  Of course these guys are based off the grand-daddy of Open Source GNU/Linux.

Freedom is a long road, and we need people who understand what is at work in the world.  Otherwise, we’ll pay for it, in spiraling debt and higher taxes.  We need our privacy and freedom.

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