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Re: gEDA-user: Free Dog meetings at MIT starting this September!

On Sat, Aug 21, 2004 at 09:05:07AM -0700, Samuel A. Falvo II wrote:
> On Saturday 21 August 2004 08:42 am, Karel Kulhavý wrote:
> > I don't consider it a threat, but consider it to suck. Opinions
> > of others?
> Closed hardware is itself as much a threat as closed software is.  The 
> industrial revolution took off with the introduction of standardized 
> parts.  Prior to that point, all components for machines were custom 
> made, every single time, and you could get them only through ONE vendor, 
> who was free to charge whatever they liked for them.  If I remember 
> rightly, this was actually a rather significant problem for the American 
> Civil War, where components for one soldier's gun would not fit on 
> another soldier's gun (if it wasn't the Civil War, then it most 
> definitely was the case for the Independence War).  This was true for 
> both sides.
> Back in the hey-day of computers, each component from a vendor actually 
> came with full schematics.  Indeed, everywhere you look in computer 
> history, you find people taking their PDP-8s or IBM 7054s or whatever, 
> and implementing some new feature that was officially unsupported by the 
> original vendors.  Case in point: Unix was originally developed on a 
> PDP-7.  But this was not an unadorned PDP-7.  To support more efficient 
> swapping of processes to and from core, they bolted on a KS-10 (which 
> was never intended for the PDP-7, and certainly not officially supported 
> by the folks at DEC).  For the longest time, it wouldn't work.  
> Thankfully, due to the existance of full schematics, they tracked the 
> problem down to a missing inverter chip.
> I challenge anyone to do something like this with currently available 
> computer technology.

Take a high school full of adolescents and persuade them that reverse
engineering hardware is more cool than free sex, drugs, booze and pot together.
(This is impossible, of course). Then you'll probably end up with a PC

However much easier would be to persuade them into hardware hacking instead
(also impossible ;-) ) because designing a computer from scratch is IMHO less
pain that reverse engineering the crap that is on today's markets.

Sometimes I wonder when I see that Ronja is built be people I would dismiss as
evil on a first sight meeting them on a street. Lastly I got a feeling that
much evil that is induced in young minds is not generated by themselves, but by
the stupid system held by the structures behind commercialization,
globalization and these stuffs.

When they are growing up they don't have any other option than passively
consume what is being served to them. They are told on every corner that
creation is some kind of communism and they just need to rake, rake, rake money
otherwise they'll die down in the dirt of "modern" (actually obsolete ;-) )

This is however bad. I have read random parts of some christian book
(I am not a christian myself and am not considering becoming one) and
got a feeling they want to say that the evil resides in the idleness and
passivity. So that, the program is simple:

 #include <sys/types.h>
 #include <sys/stat.h>
 #include <fcntl.h>


And you'll probably won't do much of it walking down TESCO stores and deciding
which item of the displayed goods is the least crap from your needs' point of

I don't see any point in creating something what is already banned from
distribution at the time of it's birth by some huge company that just wants
to rake, rake, rake money. It's like not creating anything actually because
is of a very limitted utility for the society.

You'll be probably have a feeling that your attempts are void and be called
communists, your trying economically inefficient etc. however I think this is
just an illusion. A common sense says to me that it can't be true. If there
is something inefficient out there, then it's today's society.

So that, what logically remains, is free hardware, free software, free
everything. Or are my deductions flawed somewhere?

It seems to me that evil has some inherent property that it's design is
basically flawed so that it has lots of security holes and one of them is free
software, hardware etc. ;-)

Trying to imagine being born into a world where no free programs existed at the
time I was at high school or the beginning of university, I would probably die
from boredom ;-)

I don't have any blue pills at home, but am having a whole bottle of red ones.
They are labeled "Vitamin E 200mg" ;-)


> The distribution model for open hardware need not be the same as that for 
> open source software.  Nobody, I think, is asking that to happen.  
> Hardware requires tangibles to manufacture, and labor to assemble and 
> ship.  These resources must be paid for.  But that doesn't mean that the 
> guts of the product should be wrapped up so tightly that even God can't 
> see what's inside.
> Remember the old 8-bit computer magazines?  It seems like a month didn't 
> go by when someone didn't have some kind of new and exciting 
> hardware-level hack for their computer, that made it work better, run 
> faster, address more memory, or display more colors, etc.  They could do 
> these things because schematics were generally available for their 
> computers, and hardware-level information for any of their custom chips 
> were easily available as well.
> Today, homebrew hacking has been reduced to a hobby so marginalized that 
> most computer users don't even know it's happening, and indeed, MOST 
> hobbiests don't even know who else is participating as well!  In the ham 
> radio community, for example, most computer-interfaced projects I've 
> seen work via the parallel port, or via the serial port -- that is it.  
> These are ports that have a very limited lifespan in modern PC 
> architectures.  USB is the next "entry-level" port that is available to 
> use, and the barrier to entry in using that is immense.  I cannot think 
> of a single ham radio, home-brew project I've seen documented in any ham 
> radio publication that even once employs the USB interface.  I do not 
> believe this to be a coincidence -- while the availability of 8051s and 
> other (relatively) inexpensive microcontrollers exist that can interface 
> directly to the USB hardware layer, the *software* must be insanely 
> complex (if not inside the microcontroller, then certainly on the host 
> computer OS side of things!).
> I believe that open hardware can firmly mitigate every one of the 
> aforementioned problems.  While it won't solve everything, it will at 
> least let people make more informed choices, and choose technology based 
> on a solid analysis of needs-vs-wants, instead of whatever is the latest 
> fad in interfacing.  For example: why is there a need for USB at all?  
> Why not just take IEEE-488, serialize it (which most definitely has been 
> done before, by both HP and Commodore, to name just two.  And HP's 
> solution was fully auto-configuring too!), and make the PHY layer faster 
> to accomodate more devices?  Why go through the whole process of 
> designing a WHOLE new wire-level protocol?  That's a LOT of money 
> wasted, JUST to somehow "be different."  Such a difference allows them 
> to more easily control who has access to the SIG, and how much they PAY 
> to be a member, to get unique device IDs and such.  Give me a break.  
> The computer industry lasted 30+ years before such things were needed.  
> Criminey, Amiga's Zorro bus was also fully auto-config (in fact, that's 
> what distinguished it from its competitors at the time; even Macintoshes 
> didn't have expansion buses then!), and Commodore just gave away company 
> IDs (and device IDs were freely chosen by the company within the context 
> of a company ID).  The only thing they did was maintain a registry.  No 
> need for SIGs here.
> Anyway, I'm going to get off my soap-box now.  These are my opinions, as 
> requested.
> --
> Samuel A. Falvo II