Great discussion on incentives and open source software

Stephanie Zvan at Almost Diamonds wrote a wonderfully insightful article that cuts through the BS about technical support being better if, and only if, the support comes from a paid drone, as opposed to an unpaid, unclean basement dwelling OSS geek. The topic even spilled over into a flame war at Greg Laden’s house, in which I, sadly, figure rather heavily. Definitely worth a read if you’re of the mind that money is the only incentive that motivates people to action.

Tangentally, a texture mod for Fallout 3 that I installed recently, turns all the valuable Pre-War Books into Atlas Shrugged. When I saw that, I died a little inside.

I want My SQL

Oracle just bought out Sun, and geeks like me fear for the fate of Sun’s open source offerings such as MySQL. Marten Mickos believes they won’t kill it, because they bid so highly on it when MySQL originally went up for sale.

Being that I use MySQL almost exclusively, both at work and at home (not to mention it’s my, and most, hosting providers’ database of choice). I’m cautiously optimistic, knowing that Oracle has been a generally good company and a close ally of Sun for quite a while.

Reader links roundup

Another quick link roundup.  What do you guys think of the really-short, nearly-content-free postings I’ve been doing over the past several days?  They’re easier to slap together quickly, which is what I need given that my free time has been so tight.  I promise I won’t abandon longer posts altogether, either way.

Courtesy of Jason Pickles: this video must have some provenance given the douchenozzle Rob’s reaction to having someone ask three questions — “are you a volunteer?  are you paid?  what do you do?” to the “paid walkers” of the Florida Republican GOTV effort.

From Bob: this might be a way to get off of oil dependency — or it might be snake oil, yet another bit of bad science.  I don’t know enough about the technology behind this yet, but I’ll revisit it as soon as I do.  I have a feeling it would take more energy to run the engine than the engine would generate.  Also — how the hell are these “gold nanoparticles” attracted to cancer cells?  This guy sounds like a quack through and through, frankly.

Also from Bob: what if the whole world could vote on the 2008 US election?  So far the only country John McCain is carrying is Macedonia, but feel free to vote for whomever you’d like to see as the next “leader of the free world” (if you can call the president that any more).  Hilariously enough, evidently this link has only gotten around to the Democrats in the States, because this poll has Obama winning there 80.8-19.2%.

From Groklaw‘s NewsPicks: why exactly is it that Microsoft is trying to muddy the “free software” waters lately?  Why do they want us all confused?  The obvious answer is that they can’t compete on merits, because an open source project will achieve a level of stability and features to rival their own products in extremely short order, due to the meritocratous nature of the open source programming model, and all without any monetary input.  The long answer is in the article.

And finally, courtesy of Huffington Post: apparently Palin’s $150,000 shopping spree for designer clothes pales in comparison to the graft that Obama is guilty of, for having used a 767 to visit his grandmother on her deathbed.  This asshat should be punched in the teeth.

Open source really and truly rocks.

If you didn’t believe me before, check this out.  This was done with Blender, which was a commercial app until 2002 when the company who created it went under.  They then offered anyone to buy the source code, and the open source community ponied up — to the tune of $147,000 US.  Six years later, the code is improved to the point where it can create stuff like this.  And I dare you to tell me this is any less than Pixar quality.

Big Buck Bunny from Blender Foundation on Vimeo.

Firefox 3 is out

For those of you that are using Linux, you already know how to update Firefox — just use Update Manager and install any Firefox update that’s available.  For you poor souls on Windows, good luck — the download site has been a very slow site all day long.  And it’s no wonder — there have been (last time I checked) roughly 800,000 downloads today alone.  The counter seems to be broken now, though, so I don’t know if that’s still incrementing.

Hooray for open source!

PHP safe mode shenanigans

I’m on my lunch break, and I’m a bit annoyed right now.  This morning I tried to install the pre-packaged Gallery installer that’s available in my website’s Plesk, and last week I tried to manually install Gallery2, both without success.  Apparently PHP Safe Mode is enabled on my server, meaning I can’t install either, since they were programmed to be able to allow an admin to directly upload pictures and thus the administrator has to be able to mess with the server’s directory structure.

The reason I’m annoyed is, PHP Safe Mode is basically just a way of protecting poorly configured servers from “black hats”.  If the server is configured with a chroot environment (as in, the user of the web site has his own “root” filestructure — and therefore can’t break out of it to mess with other peoples’ sites), then PHP Safe Mode is utterly useless; all it does is serve to break applications and frustrate PHP programmers.  Honestly, the fact that PHP Safe Mode exists at all is kind of silly (even the developers of PHP say so!), considering that anything you can do in PHP, you can also do in CGI, and there’s no such thing as a CGI safe mode.  The only reason I’m upset about this, and not simply switching to CGI, is that CGI is a vastly older web programming protocol, and while useful now and then (especially to black hats!), it is not the programming language of choice for today’s programmer.  No, that honor goes to ASP, the demon-spawn of Microsoft.  It’s only us open source geeks who prefer PHP.

I can see that Safe Mode is turned off for the Unix Pro packages on this server.  I don’t know if it’s really worth paying more a month just so that I can put up a pretty picture gallery.  I guess I might confront the web service about this, and see what they have to say.  Maybe it’s just turned on by default on these cheaper packages, but can be turned off if you ask.  Or maybe they really are holding me hostage, so to speak, to get more money for the “full featured” PHP.

But I’m not going to call them today.  Today, I’m a bit busy at work, and I intend to get in touch with a mortgage broker during my spare time this afternoon… if I even get any.