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i3connect.net is an ambitious, just-beginning project to create a next-generation Internet directory. The hope is to build it in a truly open and distributed manner, without central servers or central ownership of the data.
Python hackers may want to have a look at the Vaults of Parnassus, a comprehensive, hierarchical collection of available Python modules.
Section Editor: Jon Corbet
April 27, 2000
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Date: Mon, 24 Apr 2000 13:26:57 -0400 From: "John F. Gibson" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: DOJ vs MS, law vs libertarianism Eric Raymond writes "Economic competition is ... a robust and ubiquitous phenomenon that flourishes whenever human beings need to solve scarcity problems and are not forcibly prevented from trading with each other to do it." This is quite likely true for emerging markets among individuals with comparable economic clout. However, the situation is more complex in developed economies, with economies of scale and large disparities between the players. In such an environment, a player with sufficient resources can effectively prevent trade among others, through threats, coercion, dumping, buying and squelching potential competitors, etc. Monopolies are especially capable of such tactics. This is why we have anti-trust law. Over the last ten years, Microsoft has effectively prevented trade in operating systems by secret pricing structures and threats of exclusion to manufacturers, in productivity software by closed, rapidly changing file formats and coerced bundling of Office, in browsers by dumping Internet Explorer and corrupting Internet protocols. These actions have manifestly harmed consumers, the software industry, and ultimately the U.S. economy. Mr. Raymond writes, "There are any number of counterexamples to the ... claim that government-made law is essential to economic competition. Customary law maintained by the self-interest of economic actors is quite sufficient." Perhaps examples prove that law is not necessary in every case, but they don't prove it's unnecessary in all. If so, how does one explain away the harm Microsoft has already done? We're talking about billions of dollars, warped evolution in the software industry, the paths of thousands of people's lives, and ninety percent of the country subjected, for the past twenty years, to an operating system that crashes daily! You can't claim that Adam Smith's invisible hand will ultimately prevail and right these wrongs retroactively. Clearly what is needed is more effective law and better, more timely enforcement. Lastly, the First Amendment is in fact a regulation on the behavior of Congress. It prevents Congress from making laws that restrict certain freedoms of individuals, the press, etc. The founders recognized the disparity of power between the majority, acting through Congress, and minorities. They enacted the First Amendment to ensure fair competition between unequal bodies. Kind of like antitrust law for speech. John -- John F. Gibson firstname.lastname@example.org Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Computational Fluid Dynamics Lab 288 Upson Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, 14853-7501 Tel: (607) 255 0360 Fax: (607) 255 1222
From: email@example.com Date: Thu, 20 Apr 2000 09:29:44 -0600 (MDT) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Printing and Re: WordPerfect "review" Hi! I haven't run WordPerfect (or any other word processor), but where are people getting this misconception that printing is screwed up on Linux/*BSD/...??? Printing is simple on any UNIX or UNIX-like machine, you send the print job to the lpr (or lp) program, which sends it to the print spooler (lpd), which .... The program requesting the printing doesn't have to know a darn thing about whether the printer is directly connected to "this" computer, is directly connected to some other computer, is a network printer, or is something acting like a printer. Word processors like to know what kind of device they are printing to, but this isn't a problem. They only have to look in the printcap file to find what devices are available. Maybe the information in the printcap needs to be extended a bit for word processing applications, or augmented, by another config file. But this certainly doesn't require the word processor people to run around writing drivers or any such nonsense. LPRng is actively in development. Of late, we have someone looking for a little tuning advice on having a bank of modems attached to the system (somehow) to be used for outgoing faxes, with each modem getting its own customized cover sheet (phone number of the modem). A little while ago we had someone write in about using LPRng as the spooler for a system where some kind of "ink" was placed on cookies prior to baking. Just my $0.02. Gord Matter Realisations http://www.materialisations.com/ Gordon Haverland, B.Sc. M.Eng. President 101 9504 182 St. NW Edmonton, AB, CA T5T 3A7 780/481-8019 ghaverla @ freenet.edmonton.ab.ca
Date: Sun, 23 Apr 2000 06:38:02 -0700 From: Steve Powell <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: WP Office Works Great for Me I just installed WordPerfect's office suite, and while it still isn't doing everything I want, it isn't nearly as fouled up on my system as it seems to be on yours. My menus work fine -- everything works fine. The only problem I have is I can't save to a .pdf yet. I haven't done exhaustive tests but I've opened Paradox and looked around a bit in the help system and what not, and it looks good. QuattroPro opens and can perform routine tasks. I've used WordPerfect the most, and it was able to create a document, run spell and grammar checks, etc. Again, I haven't performed an exhaustive test of anything, but it certainly isn't as goofed up as your experience suggests. Sounds like something else is wrong. I installed to Corel Linux, and maybe that makes a difference. Not that that's any excuse, but in any case I don't think the package is nearly as far from functional as you found. -- ******************************************************************** Steve Powell StevenRPowell@SprintMail.com 921 Coast Blvd South Apt 1 La Jolla, CA 92037-4150 Home: (858) 551-2021 Work: (858) 505-3460 ********************************************************************
From: "Allan Stokes" <email@example.com> To: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: soft tissue Date: Fri, 21 Apr 2000 04:19:29 -0700 Hi Liz, Story in /. tonight: << "According to this AP story, the remains of a 66 million-year-old dinosaur suggest that the extinct creatures were warmblooded - not coldblooded as once believed - and capable of the swift and sustained motion typical of modern birds and mammals. A whole site dedicated to the discovery of this specimen is here." >> Your comments about encryption: << Evidently the QNX folks decided to roll their own, closed-source, unreviewed encryption, with the usual results. >> Do you see the parallel between your logic and the logic which decided that dinosaurs were cold blooded? It's the looking under the street lamp because the light is better fallacy. Starting out with only the bones they concluded that dinosaurs were cold blooded because nothing was telling them otherwise. It's only what you don't have that is capable of arguing against you. It's exactly the same when look at the bone yard of proprietary encryption algorithms broken and ignore the "soft tissue" of proprietary encryption which hasn't been broken. Or as most people assume "hasn't been broken yet". Which is exactly what the dinosaur people assumed about the kinds of fossil fragments they had not yet found. Perhaps someday the mathematics of "provable security" will be invented and they will look back at some of the proprietary work done today and discover that some of it was actually warm blooded after all. I see this over and over again. Things which can be measured compared against things which can't be measured. The light is always better under the street lamp. Even the experts fall into this trap. Data directed encryption primitives (which Ron Rivest plays around with) are often rejected because the analytic tools available are not capable of finding defects. Yes, it's true. We reject this approach because we have not yet invented the appropriate mathematical tools for demonstrating that it doesn't work. If we can't even shoot at it we trust it even less. Encryption has become a bravado culture. You are told to wander out into the mine field of techniques which mostly fail, and you are only respected if you emerge safe after being shot at by a hundred different people. This really says a lot more about the inadequacy of our mathematical framework than it does about whether a warm blooded individual who wanders away from the mine field is capable (or not) of getting lucky with a proprietary method. Of course, anyone dumb enough to trust someone who spends too much time alone in a dark room deserves what they get. But that doesn't mean they were wrong. People spend too much time forming opinions about what is technically possible (we don't know) and then end up misplacing the emphasis which belongs entirely on the social issue of what kind of development processes we choose to trust. Allan