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Re: Open source vs Microsoft vs public domain

 
 
Malcolm McLean
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      01-02-2011
On Jan 2, 5:40*pm, Ben Bacarisse <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
> Surely you'd agree there is not much skill involved with this idea?
> Librarians have been doing this for centuries. *In fact, functions to do
> this are often called "natural sort" functions because it is the natural
> thing to do.
>

Sure. But the Microsoft millions on usability labs and the like didn't
produce the idea, until now. As I say, I don't know if they got it
from me or thought of it independently.
>
> > ... Had I patented
> > compnumeric I'd get a slice of Windows royalties

>
> IANAL, but surely something as natural as this would fail some sort of
> "obviousness" test?
>

A friend at Rolls Royce told me how they'd patented a hole. A rival
aero-engine company had invented a super new alloy and casting process
that threatened to put them ahead. However impurities tend to float to
the top. When the alloy was poured, you got impurities in the cast. So
they patented a hole in the bottom of the melting vessel. This
invention was apparently enough to give them equal rights in the
process and keep them in business.

Cleverness and rewards don't always match. Money is like that.
Programming is also like that, but in a different way. The seemingly
trivial is often important.
 
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Malcolm McLean
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      01-02-2011
On Jan 2, 3:06*pm, Nick Keighley <(E-Mail Removed)>
wrote:
> On Dec 22 2010, 6:06*pm, Seebs <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
> > On 2010-12-22, Malcolm McLean <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

>
> > > Now if you have to pay for it, or even get formal permission to use
> > > it, it's often more hassle than it's worth. That's the reality of an
> > > averagely managed company. You either pirate it or find some other
> > > solution.

>
> > Which is why open source is more useful to you. *I don't see how any of
> > this has any bearing on your assertion that open source licenses prevent
> > commercial use.

>
> now I'm confused. If a package is GPL'ed how can I include it in a
> closed source distribution without breaching the terms of the
> licence?
>

Closed source isn't equivalent to commercial use. However many
commericial uses require closed source.

 
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Ben Bacarisse
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      01-02-2011
Malcolm McLean <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:

> On Jan 2, 5:40*pm, Ben Bacarisse <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>>
>> Surely you'd agree there is not much skill involved with this idea?
>> Librarians have been doing this for centuries. *In fact, functions to do
>> this are often called "natural sort" functions because it is the natural
>> thing to do.
>>

> Sure. But the Microsoft millions on usability labs and the like didn't
> produce the idea, until now. As I say, I don't know if they got it
> from me or thought of it independently.


You may have missed my point. What I am saying is that you did not get
it from you. Did not know how libraries sorted titles with numbers in
them? When I though of this (as I am pretty sure almost every
programmer has at some time) I did not think it was "my" idea but simply
how things like this should be sorted.

Maybe some librarian in Alexandria, putting the 13 books of Euclid into
order may be credited with the idea but it seems, now, to be too obvious
to be an "invention".

>> > ... Had I patented
>> > compnumeric I'd get a slice of Windows royalties

>>
>> IANAL, but surely something as natural as this would fail some sort of
>> "obviousness" test?


> A friend at Rolls Royce told me how they'd patented a hole. A rival
> aero-engine company had invented a super new alloy and casting process
> that threatened to put them ahead. However impurities tend to float to
> the top. When the alloy was poured, you got impurities in the cast. So
> they patented a hole in the bottom of the melting vessel. This
> invention was apparently enough to give them equal rights in the
> process and keep them in business.


Interesting anecdote, but it's not relevant as this use of a hole is far
from obvious (at least I assume it isn't).

> Cleverness and rewards don't always match. Money is like that.
> Programming is also like that, but in a different way. The seemingly
> trivial is often important.


I said "obvious" not "seemingly trivial". The problem is with patents
on things that are obvious. There are fewer problems with patents on
clever uses of seemingly trivial ideas.

--
Ben.
 
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Seebs
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      01-02-2011
On 2011-01-02, Malcolm McLean <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> The skill is in thinking of the idea. Any competent programmer ought
> to be able to implement it.


This sounds suspiciously like the common claim that having "the idea"
for a movie is worth a lot, but actually writing a screenplay is trivial.
In fact, it is nearly always the other way around; ideas for movies,
plays, books, etcetera abound, what's hard to find is people who can write
them well enough to make them appealing.

Similarly, it's easy to think of ideas for a utility function, it's hard
to write one well enough that it's of use to anyone else.

I'd have to see a clearer description of the "idea". Obviously, numerical
sorts of various types are widespread. One common variant is sorting that's
aware of major/minor/sub version numbers, so it knows that 3.10.5 is a later
version than 3.6.23. I've seen those done repeatedly, since it's so
obviously useful. That gets coupled with sorting by name, too.

-s
--
Copyright 2010, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach / http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed)
http://www.seebs.net/log/ <-- lawsuits, religion, and funny pictures
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Game_(Scientology) <-- get educated!
I am not speaking for my employer, although they do rent some of my opinions.
 
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Seebs
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      01-02-2011
On 2011-01-02, Nick Keighley <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> On Dec 22 2010, 6:06?pm, Seebs <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>> On 2010-12-22, Malcolm McLean <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>> > Now if you have to pay for it, or even get formal permission to use
>> > it, it's often more hassle than it's worth. That's the reality of an
>> > averagely managed company. You either pirate it or find some other
>> > solution.


>> Which is why open source is more useful to you. ?I don't see how any of
>> this has any bearing on your assertion that open source licenses prevent
>> commercial use.


> now I'm confused. If a package is GPL'ed how can I include it in a
> closed source distribution without breaching the terms of the
> licence?


Possibly you can't.

1. Not all Open Source is GPL. Many Open Source products allow you to
use them in closed source products if you wish.
2. Not all commercial use is closed source.
3. You can have closed source packages and open source packages in the same
system, provide the source to the open source packages, and not provide source
to the closed source packages.

Consider that a large number of televisions these days run Linux. That
is unambiguously commercial use. They don't mind the source code
requirements; releasing the source code doesn't hurt them. They're selling
televisions, not software.

The claim made was that open source software couldn't be used commercially,
and it's just not so. There is no requirement that you "get formal
permission", all you have to do is understand the license and comply with it,
and this is often trivial for open source.

-s
--
Copyright 2010, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach / (E-Mail Removed)
http://www.seebs.net/log/ <-- lawsuits, religion, and funny pictures
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Game_(Scientology) <-- get educated!
I am not speaking for my employer, although they do rent some of my opinions.
 
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Ben Pfaff
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      01-02-2011
Malcolm McLean <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:

> (But I do wonder if Microsoft nicked my compnumeric function which
> sorts strings with embedded numbers. Did they generate the idea
> independently? I'd really like to know.)


Unless you think that GNU also "nicked" it from you, there's the
strverscmp function as a third independent invention:

-- Function: int strverscmp (const char *S1, const char *S2)
The `strverscmp' function compares the string S1 against S2,
considering them as holding indices/version numbers. Return value
follows the same conventions as found in the `strverscmp'
function. In fact, if S1 and S2 contain no digits, `strverscmp'
behaves like `strcmp'.

Basically, we compare strings normally (character by character),
until we find a digit in each string - then we enter a special
comparison mode, where each sequence of digits is taken as a
whole. If we reach the end of these two parts without noticing a
difference, we return to the standard comparison mode. There are
two types of numeric parts: "integral" and "fractional" (those
begin with a '0'). The types of the numeric parts affect the way
we sort them:

* integral/integral: we compare values as you would expect.

* fractional/integral: the fractional part is less than the
integral one. Again, no surprise.

* fractional/fractional: the things become a bit more complex.
If the common prefix contains only leading zeroes, the
longest part is less than the other one; else the comparison
behaves normally.

strverscmp ("no digit", "no digit")
=> 0 /* same behavior as strcmp. */
strverscmp ("item#99", "item#100")
=> <0 /* same prefix, but 99 < 100. */
strverscmp ("alpha1", "alpha001")
=> >0 /* fractional part inferior to integral one. */
strverscmp ("part1_f012", "part1_f01")
=> >0 /* two fractional parts. */
strverscmp ("foo.009", "foo.0")
=> <0 /* idem, but with leading zeroes only. */

This function is especially useful when dealing with filename
sorting, because filenames frequently hold indices/version numbers.

`strverscmp' is a GNU extension.

--
char a[]="\n .CJacehknorstu";int putchar(int);int main(void){unsigned long b[]
={0x67dffdff,0x9aa9aa6a,0xa77ffda9,0x7da6aa6a,0xa6 7f6aaa,0xaa9aa9f6,0x11f6},*p
=b,i=24;for(;p+=!*p;*p/=4)switch(0[p]&3)case 0:{return 0;for(p--;i--;i--)case+
2:{i++;if(i)break;else default:continue;if(0)case 1utchar(a[i&15]);break;}}}
 
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Malcolm McLean
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      01-03-2011
On Jan 2, 8:47*pm, (E-Mail Removed) (Ben Pfaff) wrote:
> Malcolm McLean <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:
> > (But I do wonder if Microsoft nicked my compnumeric function which
> > sorts strings with embedded numbers. Did they generate the idea
> > independently? I'd really like to know.)

>
> Unless you think that GNU also "nicked" it from you, there's the
> strverscmp function as a third independent invention:
>

I think GNU antedates me. And it's likely that Microsoft nicked it
from them. (My version is at Programmer's Heaven, which is popular but
not so likely a source).

So that answers my question.


 
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Malcolm McLean
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      01-03-2011
On Jan 2, 7:59*pm, Seebs <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> On 2011-01-02, Malcolm McLean <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
> > The skill is in thinking of the idea. Any competent programmer ought
> > to be able to implement it.

>
> This sounds suspiciously like the common claim that having "the idea"
> for a movie is worth a lot, but actually writing a screenplay is trivial.
>

But I'm both generator of the idea (albeit only one of many
independents) and provider of an implementation. If Speilberg said
"producing ET was donkeywork, what was really hard was coming up with
the premise" you'd be inclined to believe him, same as if he said vice
versa.

 
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Seebs
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      01-03-2011
On 2011-01-03, Malcolm McLean <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> But I'm both generator of the idea (albeit only one of many
> independents) and provider of an implementation. If Speilberg said
> "producing ET was donkeywork, what was really hard was coming up with
> the premise" you'd be inclined to believe him, same as if he said vice
> versa.


Not if I knew that many other people had come up with the idea in
many contexts; at that point, I'd say the idea must in fact be obvious.

-s
--
Copyright 2010, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach / (E-Mail Removed)
http://www.seebs.net/log/ <-- lawsuits, religion, and funny pictures
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Game_(Scientology) <-- get educated!
I am not speaking for my employer, although they do rent some of my opinions.
 
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Nick Keighley
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      01-03-2011
On Jan 2, 6:32*pm, Seebs <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> On 2011-01-02, Nick Keighley <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
> > On Dec 22 2010, 6:06?pm, Seebs <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> >> On 2010-12-22, Malcolm McLean <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> >> > Now if you have to pay for it, or even get formal permission to use
> >> > it, it's often more hassle than it's worth. That's the reality of an
> >> > averagely managed company. You either pirate it or find some other
> >> > solution.
> >> Which is why open source is more useful to you. ?I don't see how any of
> >> this has any bearing on your assertion that open source licenses prevent
> >> commercial use.

> > now I'm confused. If a package is GPL'ed how can I include it in a
> > closed source distribution without breaching the terms of the
> > licence?

>
> Possibly you can't.
>
> 1. *Not all Open Source is GPL. *Many Open Source products allow you to
> use them in closed source products if you wish.


ah, sorry I was really speaking of GPL. I was aware there were things
like BSD.


> 2. *Not all commercial use is closed source.


I was addressing the ones that were

> 3. *You can have closed source packages and open source packages in the same
> system, provide the source to the open source packages, and not provide source
> to the closed source packages.


I thought even that was difficult with some libraries.

> Consider that a large number of televisions these days run Linux. *That
> is unambiguously commercial use. *They don't mind the source code
> requirements; releasing the source code doesn't hurt them. *They're selling
> televisions, not software.


I've worked on commercial (closed source) systems that used Linux.

> The claim made was that open source software couldn't be used commercially,
> and it's just not so. *There is no requirement that you "get formal
> permission", all you have to do is understand the license and comply with it,
> and this is often trivial for open source.

 
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