20 Mar 2005: Microsoft opening up File/Print and Directory Services

ZDNet have a very readable discussion of Microsoft's proposed license for this... Not terribly generous of them, by the sounds of it.

18 Mar 2005: The Scene: Honour amongst Thieves

Mentioned on slashdot, a "TV Programme" about the ripping scene. 5 episodes available to date; one assumes that it's MPAA propaganda, but it's quite interesting in the way it's presented. The main screen is a Windows desktop, with a fixed camera shot of the user in the upper-left corner, and the dialogue is in the form of IRC and a few emails, with voiceovers when absolutely necessary to explain some details.
Torrents, etc are available from http://www.welcometothescene.com/download.shtml. Thanks to the /. effect, the torrents are fast.
I'll be interested to see how this ends... Some /.'ers have looked into this, and find that Sony are behind it, along with various sponsors.
Whatever the motive behind the programme, it's an interesting new format.

7 Mar 2005: The Schumacher Rules?

With 15 laps to go in the Australian Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher pushed Nick Heidfeld off the road, causing a collision which knocked them both off the track and into the gravel at the end of the high-speed third corner of the Melbourne circuit.
If your race is over, it's over. Heidfeld's race was over because Schumacher had forced him off the track; apparently Ferrari and Michael Schumacher had different ideas. As Schumacher stayed in his car and beckoned some stewards over, the ITV commentator Martin Brundle commented

That one worked back in the Nurburgring, mate, but, er, you could consider yourself in a dangerous position there. He's got his thinking cap on already, hasn't he, but switch it off, like everybody else.
As the TV coverage now has some access to team radio communications, we could hear the Ferrari team bosses telling Schumacher:
Get a push, get a push, get them to push you.
Shortly afterwards, the TV coverage picks up Schumacher's Ferrari continuing down the track. Brundle said:
Oh - Michael's got away, look! He's got himself out of the gravel trap. That's amazing. I just don't think he should be allowed to beckon the marshalls across the firing line. That's the famous turn three. It just should not be allowed. And that's Michael's fault. He tried to squeeze Heidfeld, and forced him into an inveitable incident.
Schumacher's rightful place The stewards are not there to push a driver back onto the circuit after he has screwed up his race.
Heidfeld's race had been destroyed, and his car was pulled away. In the name of safety, pulling stewards out to the end of a fast corner to push Schumacher back to the track, is an unnecessary risk, not to mention against the rules. We should have seen Schumacher and Heidfeld's cars towed away under a red flag. Instead, Schumacher got back onto the track, just to retire by the end of the lap due to the damage to his car.
This placed the stewards, and - potentially, depending on the damage to Schumacher's car - other drivers, simply to give the Ferrari driver the opportunity to try to finish the race.
I'm no expert on F1 regulations, but I've always understood that it was clear that once you are off the circuit and unable to get yourself back onto the track, then your race is over. Getting stewards to push your car around the circuit is not the way to complete a race.

6 Mar 2005: Giving Stuff Away

For a few years now, I've run the SpeedTouchConf project on SourceForge.NET. I get a fair few emails per month about it - with each correspondant, I tend to swap a few emails, but I'd guess that I hear from about 3 people each month, on average.
It's not a particularly significant project - it helps users to configure a particularly awkward ADSL modem under GNU/Linux operating systems. Even if you happen to have that particular piece of hardware, it is likely to be supported by your new GNU/Linux system anyway - and if not, then the speedtouch project will probably get it configured for you.
I've just found a new page on SourceForge.NET, though - the Statistics page. Apparently my script gets downloaded about 100 times a day (by comparison, the speedtouch project, which my code is based upon, gets about 350 downloads per day - I expected to find a bigger difference, since those guys actually know what they're talking about).
Of course, some of this number will be mirror sites, robots, etc - but if we assume that 5% are genuine downloads (that seems conservative enough), that means that 5 people per day are downloading my script.
If 2 of those 5 find it useless and give up, another 2 find it helpful, and the fifth finds it useless and emails me about their problem, then I'd be hearing from 30 people each month (not ~3 people per month). So the actual numbers favour those who use it and don't email me - maybe most of them give up; however, certain emails I've received imply that most people who download it use it and it works.
I find that kind of freaky, because it implies that the other 60 people have used my script, connected to the internet, and not thought about it any further.
Of course, that's the intent (well, it wasn't), but it's the general idea.
I do this in my 'free' time (once the work's done, the wife's happy with the state of the house, the kids are in bed, etc).
I'm not sure what all of this means (certainly not that my code is great - it's been hacked around with so much, that it's remarkable that it works at all!) - it probably indicates the significance of the SourceForge.NET website for GNU/Linux users. Simply being listed as one of their projects means that people will look at the code.
That's my guess, anyway.

Random blog - March 2005
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