The idea of patents, as I understand it, is that an inventor gets protection
for his idea at the expense of revealing exactly how it works. He can then exploit
it for a while and reap the benefits. This system is being abused by companies to
stifle competition by patenting anything they can think of. It seems that a lot of
software patents are totally insufficient for anyone to replicate the process, but
can be used to milk licencing fees from others. In some cases companies buy a patent
just so they can do that. without producing anything themselves.
I'm no great expert on the subject, but I am convinced that software patents are a
bad idea. Lots more reading at
Wikipedia (check other references
if you need to).
Those writing free software cannot afford to patent their ideas or fight legal
battles over them. If an idea can be shown to have been in use by others before then it
cannot be patented. If I have anything wrong here then I am prepared to be corrected.
This post was inspired by Jono Bacon reporting
on a petition on the PM's site.
When I signed this morning there were 200 signatories. Now it's nearly 500. That still pales
next to the one saying that the PM should stand on his head and juggle ice cream with over 2000!
Anyone who cares about the future of software, especially
Free Software should sign this, provided they are a British
I've just been reading an interesting
article on The Inquirer
about the current state of the Amiga. It seems there is a new version of the OS, but the hardware
to run it is no longer in production. Looks like another in a long line of fiascos.
Many years ago I bought a second-hand A500 Plus and had a lot of fun with it. Working from
floppies became a bit limiting so I moved to the A1200 when it came out with a mighty 200MB
hard drive. That machine went through a series of upgrades culminating in a 68040 processor with
128MB of memory. The drive was swapped for a 1.7GB 3.5" that sat outside the case and I had a
x2 SCSI CD, all powered by an old PC PSU. I could even run a Mac emulator for things like
Compuserve and some games. And then Doom got ported! It was all fun, but the Amiga was suffering
from lack of development and I eventually gave it up for a Windows PC (PII/350 with 128MB memory and
8GB HD). I managed to sell all the Amiga stuff for a fraction of what it cost.
My home computing history goes back a lot further to my BBC Micro, but that's a different story.
Now I'm happily running Kubuntu Linux. There's something of the
feel of the old Amiga community, but with much better prospects for a decent future. The main problems
are likely to be things like getting drivers for new hardware and support for new media formats or
web services. Recently I've been thinking about getting a cordless phone that can also link to the PC
for use with Skype or some other VOIP, but there seems to be a lack
of support for that. I still don't intend to resort to using Windows, of any sort. I do have a PC
running Windows 98, but that's only to run some old games for the kids.