A hollow Texas drawl says "Plugh"

I predict that every tech blog written by someone over the age of 30 will have a link to defective yeti: Xyzzy within the next few days. Depending on how much older than 30, you may see references to Zork, Adventure or Colossal Cave as this wonderful political satire is discussed.

Speaking of which, the image for this post is a promotional brochure from 1981, for one of Microsoft's first products for the IBM-PC. Nowhere in the brochure does it mention that they copied this program almost verbatim from the original minicomputer game Colossal Cave.

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Now burning feeds

I've just added a FeedBurner subscription feed to the site, so if you're one of the handful of folks who actually used my Atom feed (Hi, son!), you might have better luck with the new feed.

Of course, the switch was spurred by the fact that BlogLines couldn't read the original feed, so the only people who won't see this message are the feed subscribers. Maybe I'll just call them on the phone one by one. My subscriber list is like the fan base of the hero of "Mr. Richland's Favorite Song". (This reference will be totally lost on you unless you have already taken my advice and gotten the Nilsson anthology.)

Oh, and the switch also caused me to edit the link over on the left side of the web page, so some of what I said in the post about icons isn't quite true anymore. Oh, using .ICO files in an IMG tag still works, I just don't do it now.

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Remembering Harry

I'm taking a short break from Linux-geek postings today.

What's on my mind right now is that it was twelve years ago today that Harry Nilsson died. Harry was an extraordinary singer and songwriter, and I'm spending most of the day listening to his records.

If you're not familiar with Harry, or know him only from "Without you" or "Everybody's talkin'", you owe it to yourself to take a closer listen. I recommend Personal Best: The Harry Nilsson Anthology as a good introduction to a wildly eclectic artist.

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My first Slashdotting

They say you always remember your first time.

Slashdot posted a link to my previous post, GP2X needs a GPL lesson. This, of course, unleashed the beast known as The Slashdot Effect, which has been known to bring many a web server to its knees. I must say, though, that Blogger held up wonderfully. I know a lot of people knock this place, but I've got no complaints. My biggest problem during the peak was that I have the Bjimblog configured for moderated comments, which means I have to manually approve each comment for publication. This is unfortunately necessary to avoid comment-spam, but I published everything I got that even remotely approached the topic.

Mind you, I purposely brought the Slashdot Effect upon myself. I was the one who submitted the topic to Slashdot. The intended purpose of this was to raise awareness among people who don't own a GP2X that those of us who do are in need of some assistance getting the source code. I think that in those terms, the post was a success. The slew of comments, both here and on Slashdot, were also quite useful. If you get enough geeks shooting off their mouths, someone will say the right thing. (I believe this is a corollary of Linus' Law.)

So, I've got some leads on where to take this next. Thanks to everyone who participated in the free-for-all.

Oh, and I'll say this one more time, in case anyone missed it. I know about the early December source code release. It is an early pre-release version. I mentioned it in the initial post. But it's not the droid we're looking for. The code we're looking for is something that can be compiled to create the released binary. We don't have that yet.

Update: There are quite a few posts suggesting that the situation is close to being resolved by some good folks taking a more diplomatic approach than mine. I appreciate their efforts and hope they are successful. The site to watch now is http://source.gp2x.de/, with expectations for a code release some time this week.

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GP2X needs a GPL lesson

I mentioned some time back that I was going to get myself a GP2X for Christmas. And so I did. Well, actually, under the Rules of Christmas at our house, my wife officially "got" it for me, just like I "got" her present for her. After seventeen years of marriage, shortcuts are allowed.

First impressions: I love this little unit. Runs a Linux 2.4 kernel, plays movies with mplayer, already has MAME ported to it... Really, it has everything in a handheld game/media machine that a hacker-in-the-old-meaning could want. Except for one thing. The kernel source code.

How could this be? This is Linux we're talking about! The open source poster child! (It most likely is GNU/Linux at that. I haven't poked around enough to see what other components surround the kernel. At the very least, bash is present.)

Well, it seems that the company that created the GP2X, Gamepark Holdings, is a couple of guys in some office space in Seoul. Perhaps some of you who follow the popular blogs remember Cory Doctorow's posts on BoingBoing.net when the GP2X was announced. He noticed the dreaded acronym DRM on their website, and raised alarms. Later, it was explained by the only person at Gamepark Holdings who speaks English that they didn't really understand what they were saying.

Apparently, they don't seem to understand the GPL, either. They (and their subcontractor Dignsys, who actually did the Linux port for the GP2X) have been approached repeatedly for release of their modified version of the Linux kernel. Reluctantly, they finally did so, releasing an early, out-of-date prerelease version of the source, which is useless to the developer community who would like to hunt down some of the current bugs. There are active discussions on the GP2X developer boards on the topic, as people try to find the best way to get Gamepark Holdings and Dignsys to comply with the GPL by releasing source concurrently with each new release of the GP2X kernel. Of course, as these sorts of threads tend to do, accusations have flown about all parties involved, most of it totally speculative.

So, herein lies the problem. This handful of early adopters, mostly in Europe and the Americas, is searching for a way to convince Gamepark Holdings and Dignsys to do what the GPL requires of them, without taking down the companies. This is a niche product, and they could complain until the cows come home and never get timely releases of the source. Someone with a bit of PR clout must be brought into the picture. But who? Linus? RMS? Cory? Larry? CmdrTaco?

After puzzling for a while (and yes, my puzzler was sore afterwards), I figured it was time to test the blogosphere. I decided to write a post about the situation as I saw it. This post. Now, I'll submit it to the tastemakers and see if anyone is interested.

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No one wants crippled CDs

Back in this post, I made a pledge not to buy any more Sony CDs because of their apparent hatred of their own customers. Well, the meme is spreading, and a lot more people are making the decision that crippled CDs are not worth buying.

In fact, there's a pledge drive going on now at PledgeBank. I've signed it. It's not really a petition, just a statement of fact. I won't buy crippled CDs. Apparently, neither will a few thousand other people.

There are plenty of other ways I can legally buy music. Like Magnatune, which is a much better deal for the musicians than they will ever get with a major label.

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