Sean O'Donnells Weblog
The Python Talks in Trinity and the new Dublin Python Users Group enjoyed a great reception in Trinity College Dublin on the 2nd , and I think its fair to say the Talks where a great success. I met a lot of new faces and had a great time. Full of fresh enthusiasm I decided to put a decent front page up for python.ie. Slides, MP3s and oggs of some of the talks are up there for those who are interested.
Jermey Zawodny believes that Google protesting Microsoft's decision to make MSN Search the default search engine for IE7 is a bit two faced. Judging from the mood of the comments on his post, Jeremy does not seem to be in the minority on this one either.
He is wrong and he is completely missing the point.
On the surface it certainly looks that way. Google is the default search engine on Firefox, Google have paid dell to make Google the default search engine on the computers they ship, Google is the default search engine on Safari and Google is the default search engine on opera. So it looks like MSN being the default on Internet Explorer 7 is no big deal, right? Wrong.
Google has an effective monopoly on web search; it does not have a monopoly on web browsers, PC's, or desktop operating systems. It is not leveraging any such monopoly to achieve its default status on many browsers. It is aggressively pursuing such deals in the best spirit of capitalism. If Microsoft has failed to pursue the same deals, that is Microsoft's fault. There was nothing to stop them approaching the Mozilla Foundation, Dell, Apple or Opera and striking exactly the same deal. With Microsoft pushing its own MSN Search service, Google does not enjoy the same level playing field when it comes to deciding the default search engine for Internet Explorer
We have Antitrust laws, and we have them for a reason. Remember the early browser wars? Microsoft suddenly realized that the Internet was not a passing fad, and even worse, horror of horrors they realized that the web browser was in fact a potential platform for application development. A platform that had the potential to make their treasured desktop operating system monopoly irrelevant. Microsoft performed an abrupt u-turn and decided that if this new platform was going to emerge they where damn well going to control it.
They bought IE from Spyglass and proceeded to bundle it with Windows. The problem here is not that they entered the market, but rather that they dumped a free product on the market, and used their monopoly on desktop operating systems to shut Netscape down. They did not do it by making a better browser; they did not do it by more effective marketing. They won because they controlled the desktop. They abused their monopoly position in one area to crush a competitor in a separate area.
If companies like Microsoft where allowed to do this, it would be very bad news for all of us. Not all big companies and monopolies are evil. Antitrust laws only apply to those that damage the economic environment of their competitors. If Microsoft is allowed to bundle whatever they like with their desktop, they can effectively eliminate any competitor in just about any type of desktop software development. After a while no one will bother to write desktop software because the environment does not allow effective competition. If Microsoft uses their monopoly in browser software to push people at specific web services (as they are now about to try and do in ie7), competitors like Google are not on a level playing field.
Microsoft is not the only monopoly which has been required to operate under these kinds of restrictions. The tie-in provisions in anti-trust law have been used to prevent IBM from forcing users of its machines to only use IBM punch cards back in the early days of computing. Kodak where prevented from tying the sale of replacement parts for its photocopiers to the sale of its repair services. This is all for the good of the consumer. IBM had to price its punch cards competitively, Kodak had to make sure its service engineers where as good as the independents, and that their prices stood up to competition. It forces Microsoft to build a better search engine than Google in order to win market share, not to simply leverage its existing monopoly to snatch that market share.
We all remember how the browser wars ended, Netscape died, and the IE development team where scattered to the four winds. Only now, with the increasing numbers of Firefox users, has Microsoft even bothered to reform a dedicated Internet Explorer Development Team. Unless you would like to see web search stagnate in the same manner, this is an issue you should be backing Google on.
This article at ITWire shows that thankfully some people have the right idea. Im also glad to see that Google is complaining to the EU and US now rather than waiting until its too late
I've been hit by a wave of really strange blog Spam in the last few days. Normally spam contains a link to a page hawking one dubious product or another. But this spam does not appear to have such a purpose. Its filled with small snippets of quotes, gibberish, and links to large reputable web sites (and never the same ones twice). So if this Spam is not trying to get you to buy something, and not trying to increase the traffic of a dodgy online casino, what on earth is it for? Its the first time I have been hit with Spam with no commercial (or other obvious motive). I am puzzled, and somewhere in the back of my head very worried.....
The new Thinkpad arrived and I have been using it for over a month now.
The spec looks like this
This machine runs like a dream. Nothing slows it down. I installed half life 2 before removing the windows partition and it run with full detail on 1024*768 without a hitch. I have yet to find anything on Ubuntu which seems to strain in the slightest. The large display makes it a fantastic coding machine (along with the famous Thinkpad keyboard and trackpoint).
After installing Ubuntu breezy almost everything worked straight away. I cannot get network-manager to work, but I think that is down to the wifi drivers. Suspend resume takes a bit of tinkering to get working, and does not function with the proprietary ATI drivers only the GPL drivers (although I hear this problem is soon to be fixed).The fingerprint scanner takes a bit of installing , but being a very non standard piece of hardware I am willing to forgive that. It integrates into PAM and so far I have GDM, XScreensaver and sudo all functioning from it. The only catch is that gtksudo (used by Ubuntu to request a password when you launch any administrative tools) does work with it, but does not present a GUI, so when you launch something nothing happens at all on screen until you swipe your finger.
The Hard drive active protection system only has an early beta driver, and I am simply not willing to have potentially buggy software manically parking my hard drive on a whim, so I have not tried it yet. I will wait until its a touch more mature.
The machine has a few small shortcoming. First off, only 2 usb2 ports, and no firewire at all. I have a pcmcia firewire card so that didn't bother me too much. The second is that the built in modem requires a proprietary driver to function. Yet again this does not bother me, I have not needed to dial up by modem in years, and there is a free as in beer version of the driver that allows you to connect at up to 14.4kbps which will do me fine if I ever hit such an emergency.
If you are looking for a linux friendly laptop, I have to recommend the T43p highly.
Being a gnome user, the last few releases on Ubuntu have driven me batty by omitting the nautilus bluetooth integration. This very handy functionality allows you to right click on a few and send it via bluetooth.
For some odd reason it has yet to make it into any version of Ubuntu and using gnome-obex-send from the command line is more than a touch annoying.
However thanks to a fabulous Nautilus extension I have found a way to replicate the functionality
Now the official gnome-bluetooth extension should look like this
And here is what my replacement looks like
1. Selecting the file to send
2. Selecting the device to send to
3. Watching the progress of the file as it is sent
So if I am not using the nautilus-bluetooth extension what am I using? I found a fantastic Nautilus extension called Nautilus Actions. This allows you to quickly and easily define your own context menu items for everything in nautilus. Once you have it installed simply run nautilus-actions-config and create as many actions as you like. The configuration I used for the Bluetooth send option is shown below. Once you have installed it and added a rule, restart nautilus with nautilus -q and you are done. Why this is not a standard part of every gnome based distribution is beyond me.
(By the way, the resumption of posts does mean that my new T43p has arrived. Im still finishing up configuring ubuntu on it, but expect a full write up as soon as I am done)