On Sat, 10 Jul 2004 14:18:50 +0900, Randy Lawrence <jm / zzzzzzzzzzzz.com> wrote:
> I love your passion for open source.  I love open source too.

*BOOOP*  *BOOOP*  i think we're passing the buoy horns announcing
we're leaving ruby topic waters...  ;-)

> zuzu wrote:
> [snip]
> >  users have a right to understand the code they are running.  
> [snip]
> 
> What specific code do they have the right to understand?  All code?  I
> want to have that "right to understand" too!  Where can I obtain it?

i hesitate to offer an absolute, but for now i will say all code
running on computing hardware you own.  you can obtain it by
exercising your right in doing so.

> Was that "right to understand" conveyed by law or a private contracts?

rights are supposidly innate, not granted by law.  for example, the
american bill of rights does not grant rights, but defines which
rights the government may not legislate against.

however, in practice, rights are defined by the process of exercising them.

> What if the user is too stupid to understand the code?

the ability for the human mind to learn is defined by biological
hardware (the brain).  in fact the biological purpose of the brain is
to learn to adapt to its environment faster than the dna that composed
it can.  read 'the human use of human beings' by norbert wiener,
'cosmos' by carl sagan, and 'age of spiritual machines' by ray
kurzweil for starters.

> Does the
> developer have to simplify the code until it could be understood by all
> users?

no, but statistically the developer's best interest for the code to
improve, adapt, and extend (aka evolve) by presenting the code "as
simply as possible, but no simpler". 
http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?EinsteinPrinciple

> If the developer refuses to simplify the code, are they
> criminals or merely commiting a breach of contract?

neither, a license is not a contract.
http://lwn.net/Articles/61292/

> [snip]
> >(and ironically, the GPL proves that most
> > people do not, in fact, steal licensed code.)  
> [snip]
> 
> How does GPL prove this?  I'm not disagreeing with you, I'm just trying
> to understand how the GPL proves that fact.

foremost, i mis-stated "steal", as theft denotes denial of use.  i
meant license infringement, as i wrote for the rest of that email.
that said, GPL as an *example* statistically seems to support my
proposed hypothesis.

> I reread the GPL and I couldn't find any statistical data comparing
> number of people who steal vs comply with licensed code. All it contains
> is a bunch of terms and conditions--no quantifiable data on theft.

again, not the GPL itself.  i made a personal observation comparing
the total volume of code under the GPL license available on the
internet compared to number of accusations of GPL infringement as
reported by the slashdot(.org) news aggregator, whose content
specifically covers such matters.  with reasonable certainty, if
anyone with web access has observed a GPL infringement, that
observation will be reported on slashdot.

> Perhaps the GPL is obfuscated so that the statistical data on theft is
> hidden from plain view.  ASCII stenography?  Hmmmm.

i find this statement asinine.

> > obfuscation is a tool of oppression to secure a monopoly on an idea.  (even copyrights are
> > supposed to be TEMPORARY.)
> >
> 
> Well, I don't like oppression and I don't like monopoly (but the game
> "Monopoly" is kinda fun).

"how can a thimble be a landlord?"

> Obfuscation is a tool of oppression?  Like airplanes are a tool for
> terrorism?  

sure.  tools are amoral.  humans choose how they are used and for what purpose.

> Should they both be banned?

of course not.  however, by rule of law, some human activities are
deemed illegal within the boundaries of jurisdiction.

> Hmmm, it could mean fewer
> visits from the mother-in-law...maybe not a bad idea!
> 
> To be fair, we can probably imagine at least one undesirable use for
> every invention known to humankind. 

as i said.

> It doesn't mean it is the only use
> for the inventions--maybe it just means we need to use our imagination
> to think of more positive uses.
> 
> I wouldn't use obfuscation for oppression.  I'd use obfuscation to hide
> passwords when full-blown encryption isn't very practical or necessary.
>   For example, obfuscating a script that contains a database connection
> password that I'm hosting on a shared server just in case an
> unauthorized person gains read access to the script.

obfuscation, or rather, steganography as one form of obfuscation,
serves a different purpose than cryptography.  cryptography relies on
probability and mathematical difficulty.  obfuscation is applied
socially as disguise.

> ps
> 
> Data needs to be overwritten between 9 times (DOD 5220.22-M standard) -
> 27+ times (Guttman) before it is safe from modern HD recovery tools.
> Encrypt (or at a minimum, obfuscate) data you don't want to become
> public (anything useful for id theft or credit card fraud).  Most of us
> don't consider this when selling our computer or changing web hosting
> providers.

http://www.gnupg.org/
(also one example of software which *must* be Free to do its job.)

-z