* Posts by Lewis Collard

4 publicly visible posts • joined 17 Jul 2009

Microsoft: China stole secret key that unlocked US govt email from crash debug dump

Lewis Collard

Re: "another issue it said has now been corrected"

I agree with the bulk of what you said, but...

> it needed a number of unlikely things to all happen before it became a problem

Describing them as "unlikely" seems strange to me, because they actually happened. I am reminded of Feynman examining NASA's safety estimates for the Space Shuttle; their "1 in 100,000" probability of a mission loss were immediately suspect from the moment there was a mission loss.

Maybe this particular set of circumstances was unlikely - but in a massive system with many moving parts written by probably thousands of different people faced with adversaries actively looking to exploit any unusual interactions between components, a compromise like this was an inevitability - and to repeat myself somewhat, we know it was an inevitability because it happened.

I would recommend the book "Normal Accidents".

Kindle Store awash with auto-generated crap 'books'

Lewis Collard


Oh man, feeding from the bottom there. Wat.

I noticed something like that a while ago with Google Books, searching for the kind of obscure topics for which the Web has become rather useless thanks to Wikipedia scraper sites. I came across book after book filled with....Wikipedia scraper books. I think they shut that "publisher" out from Google Books, though.

Hooray for "free content", liberating us from the shackles of having to read the same fucking thing in just one place.

Microsoft GPL violation hits memory hole

Lewis Collard

"Creative Commons"?

"Hey continued to list Microsoft Office and SQL Server projects it has released under a Creative Commons license - a workflow system called Trident, a context and semantic tool for SQL Server called Zentity, and software for data visualization in Excel, a project called Node XL."


The MSPL (under which at least one of the projects mentioned is licensed) is not a Creative Commons license. Neither is the GPL, and neither is any other license that is not authored by the organisation called Creative Commons. Please stop giving them credit which they don't deserve.

Wikipedia's Gallery guy hung up to dry?

Lewis Collard

Wikimedia Commons drama

A clarification: This drama happened on the Wikimedia Commons, not Wikipedia. I also think it's an unfair characterisation to say that the contributor was "hung up to dry". The reasoning for de-admining him was simple:

"As a result it looks like the legal threat is demanding that he violate our rules and trust or face stiffer consequences. I think this is an unconscionable conflict which is unfair to all parties." (Gmaxwell, 00:21, 12 July 2009)

In fact, Dcoetzee completely agreed with this: "no insult is taken and I understand the need for the project to take this action under the circumstances".

A little context for those unfamiliar with the drama that led up to this. These images are, unquestionably, out of copyright in the United States (cf. Bridgeman v. Corel). However, it *was* a long-standing policy on the Wikimedia Commons to respect both copyright law in the United States (non-negotiable, and we *do* deeply care about that) and copyright law in the country of origin (in this case, the UK).

This policy was, basically, overturned by a unilateral declaration from the Wikimedia board, who unilaterally declared that "faithful reproductions of two-dimensional public domain works of art are public domain, and that claims to the contrary represent an assault on the very concept of a public domain" (translated: "they're PD because we fucking say so now shut up and eat your dinner son"), and Commons policy was changed in the wake of this. I always opposed this change, because it 1) exposed Commons contributors to unnecessary legal risk 2) showed disrespect towards the law and especially towards the authors, and consequently 3) was a monstrous clusterfuck of a dramafest waiting to happen and 4) damned if a long-standing Wikimedia Commons tradition was going to be overturned by Erik Moeller declaring "they're PD because they're PD you fuck".

Were it not for the fact that a person with whom I'm somewhat familiar is getting fucked, I could see myself patting myself on the back hard enough to break my spine on counts 1), 2) and 3). As it is, this whole affair never needed to happen, and wouldn't have done if it were not for the WMF board.