Please sign the Petition to stop software patents in Europe

Software patents make serious danger to all computer users, software developers and generally anybody who has something to do with computers and computing devices. I’m not going to elaborate on that topic here, you can find information about it e.g. on the web pages of Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure. The important thing is that here in Europe we are in permanent danger of growing the software patent system into the full absurdity of the U.S. patent system. If we as E.U. citizens are not concerned and don’t speak loudly then anything else will hardly stop the process. So please consider signing the Petition to stop software patents in Europe. Thank you.

Bias

There are people, creatures, objects, ideas, etc. we like and there are people, creatures, objects, ideas, etc. we don’t like so much. There is basically nothing wrong with it. Those luckier of us can choose whether they prefer rice or potatoes for dinner today and that’s fine.

The problem appears when we make and present opinions and judgements based on our preferences instead of objective facts. Proposing that rice is good and potatoes are evil or vice versa just because we like or dislike one or the other may look ridiculous. But condemning good or praising evil because we stand on some side is fatal. By making biased views we may hide truth, support lies and cause hurt of various impact. Prejudice is enemy of truth.

Perhaps we all are prone to making quick prejudiced conclusions. Just look around (and don’t miss a mirror). Even intelligent and respectable people can demonstrate this syndrome. It’s everywhere and it doesn’t matter whether we look at matters of everyday life, personal relations, world changing ideas or purely technical things. It’s often accompanied by incompetence, but these are two different things: One can make incompetent decisions while honestly trying to find the true way; biased approach is (less or more intentionally) built on false facts and thus bogus from the beginning.

We are sometimes afraid of truth for various reasons. But we can’t change truth. Trying to do so makes no good and is futile. So let’s try to be more honest and respectful next time.

Two anniversaries

There are two nice anniversaries in the end of this year. The first one was 50 years of Lisp and the second one is going to be 15 years of Linux on my desktop computers.

Lisp was the second (after FORTRAN) real higher level programming language. During the years Lisp has brought many important pioneering concepts to programming languages, some of them remain quite unique even today (e.g. the concept of little distinction between code and data). Lisp is a demonstration of competent (although not always perfect) approach to various problems in the area of programming and programming languages. And interesting things staying out of mainstream popularity gather interesting people. Lisp community is still full of smart and creative ideas. I hope I’ll have opportunity to learn a lot there during the start of the next half of century.

Linux is the most popular free operating system kernel today. But 15 years ago it wasn’t very easy to install and use free operating systems on desktop computers (thanks to Yenya for guiding me!). It required significant effort but it was completely worth of it. The experience of competent and working software under your control was great and unique, this is not something you can easily meet today. Such things combined with pioneering work leave permanent traces in a man. Unlike Lisp, Linux based operating systems achieved wide popularity and that have brought to them a lot of good and a lot of damage. Linux will never be again what it was in its early days. But it’s still an interesting and powerful platform and I believe it survives the next 15 years in healthy state.