Arrived safely in Brandon, Manitoba. Great drive, went through the geographic center of North America, in Rugby, ND; then turned due north. So east-west-wise I'm roughly equidistant from NY and Seattle. Tomorrow I turn west and head for Saskatchewan. At the end of my drive today, bored with Gore Vidal's book about Adams, Washington and Jefferson, I bit the bullet and started getting caught up on Adam Curry's Source Code radio program. I knew it would be trouble because I immediately wanted to do my own audio show in response. What was even weirder is that Adam included a clip of The Gillmor Gang, which I had also been avoiding, because I want to get away from all that michegas for a bit, but no such luck. I'm already back in the thick of it. I'll probably do an audio blog post before the night is out. Damn.
Movie #1: Adam Curry talking about Steve Gillmor while I'm driving in Manitoba. Does geography matter at all any more? Or time? Adam recorded his talk in Belgium a week ago. Steve recorded his before that, presumably in California.
Movie #2: Singing along with the Beatles while driving in Manitoba.
Movie #3: A windmill on US-2 in North Dakota.
Photos: Grand Forks to Brandon, Manitoba.
I missed the debate about the accuracy of Wikipedia, but let me get my two cents in anyway. The librarian was right to raise the question. However, I find that on some subjects that I have expertise on, it does a remarkably good job, better than most professional journalists. But on other subjects, it only represents one point of view. When others try to balance it, their notes are deleted. This is the inherent weakness in the Wiki model, the consensus isn't always correct, esp when some people want to have their point of view prevail above all others.
Remind me to tell you about the bizarre ways hotels make you connect to the Internet. There are only two correct ways to do it. 1. Support WiFi (easiest by far). 2. Have an Ethernet jack on the wall behind the desk. For a bonus point, include a cable. The room I'm in tonight actually has a PC in it, as if anyone who cares about the Internet travels without a laptop. I had to get a support person to come up and reconfigure it so I could connect with my laptop. I asked how often she has to do this. Basically for every customer, she said. Why not give in and just let us plug directly in. She was absolutely sure there was some magic reason the hotel wanted you to use their computer. I told her I was sure the computer would be gone in no more than a year. She looked at me like I was a clueless old coot (which of course I am).
Progress report on the Frontier open source release.
Good morning from Grand Forks, North Dakota. Lots of pictures filed in the last few days, from Wisconsin and Minnesota, green pictures, lots of water, a little farming here and there. I took these pictures knowing that soon, in my drive west, the dominant color would change from green to brown. Out here the states stack, north-south-wise. North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas. They're all green in the east and brown in the west. Same thing in Canada, or so I hear. I've never been to this part of Canada. I'll have brown pictures, possibly by the end of the day. So enjoy the green, it ain't gonna last.
I wonder if you noticed how much closer the sky seems "out here" than it seems on the coasts. It's weird because we're not at a very high elevation, but yet somehow it feels as if the sky is closer.
Pleasure Boat Captains for Truth: "The man couldn't hold his liquor."
USA Today on Republican convention bloggers. "'Bloggers' corner' is situated next to 'radio row,' where stations conduct live broadcasts around the clock."
We're getting close to the open source release of Frontier. I believe it will happen before the end of September.
Technically, the software is ready to go. Andre Radke, who was the last full-time maintainer of the code at UserLand, up until four years ago, when he returned to be a full-time physics grad student, did the work to get the code ready. Steve Zellers at Apple has also been participating. I see Andre and Steve as the two leaders of the project once the release has taken place. I trust both of them, I can't imagine two better people to entrust this project to. I see myself as playing an advisory role, writing scripts to test new versions, and representing Frontier as a legal entity.
The one remaining issue to decide is the license agreement. I guess this has always been so, but now it's the crucial decision, once it's made, the release can proceed. Here's my current thinking, after having talked with several lawyers with experience in open source software, and having read up on various approaches, this is what I've come up with. (Note I am not a lawyer, I am posting this so that lawyers can comment publicly.)
1. No breakage. I want old scripts continue to run in new environments. A lot has been invested in code that runs in the Frontier environment, one of the reasons to release the kernel as source is so that those apps will run better, in more operating systems. I want to limit incentives for people to fork based on compatibility. I don't want to create a dozen semi-clones of Frontier, rather I want to incentivize people to add to the culture, add new features, fix user interface bugs, but not to break apps.
2. I want it to be possible to create a commercial business from the code base. However, I want the general rule to be that if you make an improvement to the code, you must share it on equal terms.
I think these two goals clearly imply a base license that's GPL-like, with an option for a more liberal license, for either a cash fee, or an agreement to remain compatible, or a combination of fee and agreement. This is a derivative of the MySQL license system.
I'm looking for feedback from lawyers who have experience with open source licenses, and developers who have released code under open source licenses, and people who have used code under open source licenses. The best form of feedback is in public, on a weblog, so you can send a URL and I can point to it. I'm not opening a comment thread on this becuase it's sure to only attract unconstructive comments.
Note that we are not trying to shake up the world, or change what anyone does, or kill anything, or necessarily even create anything. So comments that say things like "This will never kill Apache" or "Python already has too much of a lead" while quite common, always miss the point.
For an idea of why I'm releasing Frontier as open source, please refer to this article I wrote in May.
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