“Library Gluers” Are Having Fun, Too

In his “Passionate
” post, Justin James makes a point I doubt anyone disagrees
with–hire people who truly enjoy their job.  That’s not an idea exclusive
to scientists or programmers–that’s true in nearly every job, whether it’s
molecular biologist, floral designer, carpenter, doctor–whatever.

Near the middle, and just as I’m agreeing with his post, Justin makes one
statement I have to take exception with:

Programming is increasingly a matter of gluing together libraries
written by a few select people, the ones who are having all of the fun. At
this point, the places where truly interesting codesmithing seems to occur is
in the shops making development tools (Sun, Microsoft, Borland, etc.) and the
small places doing niche work. Some of the FOSS projects are extremely
interesting as well, and they have the advantage of not caring about profits,
so they are free to work on unusual and creative projects regardless of
potential market size. Anyone in between these types of environments is just
gluing together libraries written by a big-time player into a standard, boring
C/R/U/D application.

Boring, as we’ve established, is very subjective.  Just because I don’t
build frameworks or controls doesn’t mean my work is boring, or that I’m a
simpleton.  I really enjoy web design–it has elements of database work
(especially optimization, which can be fun), graphic design, copywriting, server
and network administration, programming, etc.  I get to use both creative
and analytical parts of my mind, more so than writing just “boring old
framework code”.  I think it’s really exciting to launch a new website and
see a business grow, or see an established one enhanced.  It’s fun working
with graphic designers, or even getting to do some yourself.  Saying
“anyone in between is just gluing together libraries” totally misses what all
goes into other types of work.  It’s a little disrespectful, and sells hort
the skills and talent a different type of work takes.

Likewise, integrating multimillion dollar ERP and WMS systems isn’t a real
programming challenge, but they can be intricate puzzles.  The stakes are
high, and success makes businesses and people work better.  That’s my kind
of challenge!

Rant: Bad Linkers

(I apologize in advance for anyone I’m citing below.  Your intentions
were good, but IMHO, your technique leaves soemthing to be desired.)

Almost as annoying as bad-question-askers-in-forums are the click-here
people.  That was bad enough on web pages, but it’s gotten worse with the
explosion of blogging.

First example comes to us from John
Cilli’s Commerce Connect
.  John found an article that he’d like to

Before I “click here”, I’d like to know what the article is about. 
Maybe it’s something I already read this morning.  Maybe it’s something he
thinks is useful, but not necessarily something Id find so.  No
indication.  John’s blog is reputable, but whatif this is a random
blog–could “here” be a trojan waiting to infect my system?  And since my
Internet usage at work is monitored, I can’t just click willy-nilly. 
Chances are I’ll forget when I get home, and any benefit from the article is
lost.  The article title and maybe a snippet or short abstract would be
really great (see me pat myself on the back below for an example).

brings us our next example, but it’s more of a “Where’s Waldo:
Hyperlink Edition” style of linking.  Can you see the download link
below?  It’s that little tiny one labelled “Attachment(s)”, below the
Google ads and Published information.  This isn’t so much John’s fault as
it is the skin designer’s.  Unless John designed the skin.

So who does links well?  Mike
does a good job, with a title and short description.  Scott Hanselman as well.  I think
I do article links prett well; see http://www.rjdudley.com/blog/First+Ultra+Mobile+PC+Comes+To+US.aspx for
an example.

I’m sure both everyone of you reading this article has seen
more than enough examples.  Share some below.  But don’t be a bad
linker; not in the comments, nor in your posts.

<update 2006-05-19>

Ezell adds one to the list
.  Hey Jesse, what is ‘this’?

McAfee Installs Its Own Adware

Last night my McAfee was updated, as it does automatically every day or so.  One of the updates was to teh Security Center itself, which required a reboot.  After the reboot, a toast popped up, looking for all the world just like the ones when McAfee catches a virus in my e-mail.  But this one was an offer for the full security suite for 20% off, one week only.  I don’t think so.  I patch and install updates specifically to keep crap like that from showing up on my machine, and I’m less than happy that McAfee thinks they can use their presence on my machine to interrupt my work with their own ads.  Looks like it’s about time to investigate Panda, Trend Micro or AVG.

Trojan Hides Behind Sony-DRM; Class Action Suit Against Sony-BMG Filed

First, the Trojan:

A computer security firm said on Thursday it had discovered the first virus that uses music publisher Sony BMG’s controversial CD copy-protection software to hide on PCs and wreak havoc.

Full story at http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20051110/tc_nm/sony_hack_dc.

And now, California consumers have filed a class-action suit against Sony-BMG:

Record company Sony BMG Music Entertainment has been targeted in a class-action lawsuit in California by consumers claiming their computers have been harmed by anti-piracy software on some Sony BMG CDs.

The claim states that Sony BMG’s failed to disclose the true nature of the digital rights management system it uses on its CDs and thousands of computer users have unknowingly infected their computers, according to court documents.

More on that at http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20051110/tc_nm/media_sonybmg_dc.

(1) Point Gun At Foot (2) Pull Trigger (3) Stick Foot In Mouth

In the midst of a PR debacle, a Sony spokesman had this response:

Sony spokesman John McKay said the technology has been deployed on just 20 titles so far, but that the company may include it on additional titles in the months ahead. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/02/AR2005110202362.html)

On second thought, maybe Sony shouldn’t blog–they don’t seem to know what not to say.  Maybe the company that developed the DRM solution will do better:

In response to criticisms that intruders could take such advantage, First4Internet Ltd. — the British company that developed the software — will make available on its Web site a software patch that should remove its ability to hide files, chief executive Mathew Gilliat-Smith said.

A patch that will merely unhide the DRM?  Then again, maybe not.  How about a patch to get rid of the thing? Oh wait, here we go:

…users who want to remove the program may not do so directly, but must fill out a form on Sony’s Web site, download additional software, wait for a phone call from a technical support specialist, and then download and install yet another program that removes the files.

Umm..yeah, sign me up.  So, is the DRM really so bad?  As long as we’re not music pirates, we should get along OK, right?

Hypponen agreed that Sony’s software could help hackers circumvent most antivirus products on the market today. He added that installing the Sony program on a machine running Windows Vista — the beta version of the next iteration of Microsoft Windows — “breaks the operating system spectacularly.”

Once again, maybe not.  I haven’t bought a CD in nearly 2 years, and I’m quite glad for that.

PanIP Patent Overturned

This has been dragging on for a couple of years, and I’m glad to see the USPTO has come to its senses somewhat.  I’m no lawyer, but I would think having your patent overturned due to “obviousness” would sort of put a damper on all those IP lawsuits you’ve been filing:

Patent Office issues initial rejection of patent claims in PanIP suit

Following a reexamination, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued an initial rejection of claims in a patent it had earlier granted to technology developer Pangea Intellectual Property on payment processing technology used at e-commerce sites. It is one of two patents held by PanIP whose validity is being challenged by a group of 15 e-retailers PanIP had in a separate action sued, claiming it was due licensing fees. PanIP has since settled with those retailers. A second patent on which the retailer group, the PanIP Group Defense Fund, also is challenging PanIP still is under review by the Patent Office.

PanIP has two months to respond to the Patent Office’s Action document, says Jonathan Hangartner of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, the retailer group’s attorney, who terms the preliminary findings “a critical first step.” However, overcoming the initial findings will be “very difficult for PanIP. The Office Action is very well reasoned and strong,” he says.

Hangartner notes that nine of the 10 individual claims in the patent were rejected on the basis of “anticipation” in “prior art.” That essentially means that the Patent Office examiner determined that every element that the patent holder claimed to originate actually predated the patent and could be found in a single reference, such as an article, according to Hangartner. The remaining claim in the patent was rejected on the basis of “obviousness,” meaning that most elements of the claim existed in prior art and that the remaining elements would have been obvious to someone skilled in the art.

“The Patent Office has rejected the 10 claims that we challenged. That means that if that rejection holds throughout the process, the result will be the patent itself is invalid,” Hangartner says. The attorney representing PanIP, Kathleen Walker, said that while the action is ongoing, PanIP would have no comment. “We have 60 days to respond and we’ll make the appropriate responses,” she said.

The group of e-retailers formed a defense fund at http://www.youmaybenext.com.

Update 2005-08-19: YouMayBeNect.com has not been active for a while, apparently, and the retail group has disbanded after their victory.  No peep from PanIP yet.