Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mr. President - Stand down

Upon reflection, I modified my original post by inserting the following quote from Nietzsche.

"He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you."

Dear Mr. President:

I'm disheartened to hear statements regarding whether your administration will seek to prosecute former Bush administration officials for breaking our laws regarding torture. What happened to our beliefs in law as a process? We have institutions that investigate these matters so why not let them do their jobs? Isn't that why Gonzalez was discredited - following the wishes of the Bush administration? Let's hope our current justice department isn't waiting for you to make the call Mr. President. Please, stand down and let them do their jobs and permit us to believe you aren't calling all the justice department moves.

Respectfully but in doubt,


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Open Source Software vs. Caveat Emptor

One of the common arguments for proprietary software is that there is some kind of permanence in having a corporate entity backing the product you have invested in. To counter this I tell the following story. When Java first appeared in the mid-90's I was very eager to learn it and invested in a Java IDE from Symantec called Visual Cafe. It was a good product and won a best tool of the year award , a CNET Excellence award for Internet tools and many other accolades. Things were good and I was learning Java and paying handsomely to keep up with the Visual Cafe updates. Yes, I was thriving in the throes of capitalism and proprietary software ... and then it was gone.

No, Symantec didn't go out of business. They sold the product line to BEA and BEA did nothing with it but put it away - my investment meant nothing (caveat emptor). What remains of my investment is an unsupported product that is out of date and useless. My graduate research mentor used to say, "Don't descend into the well on a frayed rope." In my mind proprietary software is a frayed rope. Buying a software product should mean paying for access to code not a black box (I am reminded of Scott McNealy's question "Would you buy a car with the hood welded shut?"). Then, if the software company goes out of business, at least you have the code to do with as you please (except take it and sell it again). Better yet, go with an open source solution and use the money you saved to invest in a person who will know and understand how the software works or buy support from the people who wrote the software. Then there will never be a time when your software becomes useless due to bankruptcy or pricing. Beware of proprietary software, it is a short term solution with no future. Go with open source - no one can ever take it away from you.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Prompt Corrective Action Law (PCA): Off With Their Heads

Haven't seen the interview of William Black by Bill Moyers? Don't miss it - it's an eye opener and methinks something is terribly rotten in er ... ah, not Denmark, but dear old USA. Black's claims of fraud and implicit assumptions that we've been taken by the short term strategies of current corporations gone to extremes - ah, that is, crime - are scary. But even more frightening is the discussion of the PCA (Prompt Corrective Action) law and the fact that this law is not being enforced - a law that was intended to protect the taxpayers from failing banks.

Yes, I see reports of angry people in the USA but where is the action in the streets? We have been and are being screwed by the financial bourgeoisie in this country and we should be rioting. What has happened to the indignant riotous rabble that characterized those who founded this country? It appears that even Obama is held captive by the infamy. What is happening? We don't know and that is what Black is saying - it's a cover-up. Please don't tell me we need the executives, who ran us into this ditch, to get us out of it. If it's the law then the law should be enforced - particularly when the intent of the law was to protect us from what is happening right now - the looting of our citizens.