Software tip: How to save yourself at least $250

Yesterday I had a request from a client for a network diagram for a system I’m designing, and normally I create such drawings as a PNG file. But this client said “no, I need it in Visio, or similar style so we can edit it”. I have avoided Microsoft Visio in the past, mainly because of its price tag: $249.99 for the basic version, and a whopping $999.99 for the premium version!

That’s a lot of moolah for a simple drawing program. But I figured it was time to bite the bullet and just buy it. So I drove to my local Staples and was going to pick up a copy. I actually had it in hand…and then some serendipity happened.

I was passing the table where they have all the laptops, and this fellow was lifting up and looking over a familiar laptop, one that I had gotten for my lovely wife on her birthday and I commented as I was walking by him “That’s a good buy, I bought one for my wife.”. To which he responded. “That’s good to hear, but do you know if it has wireless 3G?”. I started to explain that such options are usually with add-ons, such as special USB wireless dongles sold by cellular companies, but it seemed to baffle him.

So, I explained the differences between WiFi and 3G/4G services and said, “that laptop is probably already connected to WiFi right here in the store, see that Starbucks next door? They have free WiFi”. He was amazed to discover this, even more amazed when I pointed out to him that every McDonald’s in the USA has free WiFi now also, as do most hotels, and some airports.

To which he replied “Well, I suppose I don’t need to pay for 3G then do I?” That struck me, because at that moment, I realized I might not have to pay for Visio either; not because I planned on shoplifting it from the store, but because I hadn’t checked for alternatives yet.

I said, here, let me show you. And I showed him how to connect to WiFi on the laptop, then proceeded to Google “Visio replacement”.

Some hits came up. Most were dead-ends…but one wasn’t, and that’s what I want to share with you today.

Since many WUWT readers are scientists, engineers and business people, they need something like Visio on occasion to map networks, processes, flowcharts, structure trees, etc.

So I want to share “Dia”, short for “Diagram”. Its detailed, open source, and most importantly, free. It also has a community springing up that is adding shape sets for various specialty designs.

From the Dia web page:

http://www.gnome.org/projects/dia/images/dialogo.jpg

Dia is a GTK+ based diagram creation program for GNU/Linux, Unix and Windows released under the GPL license.

Dia is roughly inspired by the commercial Windows program ‘Visio’, though more geared towards informal diagrams for casual use. It can be used to draw many different kinds of diagrams. It currently has special objects to help draw entity relationship diagrams, UML diagrams, flowcharts, network diagrams, and many other diagrams. It is also possible to add support for new shapes by writing simple XML files, using a subset of SVG to draw the shape.

It can load and save diagrams to a custom XML format (gzipped by default, to save space), can export diagrams to a number of formats, including EPS, SVG, XFIG, WMF and PNG, and can print diagrams (including ones that span multiple pages).

We feel Dia is in a state where it can be actively used. Many features are implemented and the code is quite solid and mature. Try downloading Dia and tell us what you think of it. If you find any bugs, please report them with Gnome Bugzilla.

It seems pretty snazzy, and intuitive. I was able to doodle this up within seconds of opening the program:

So, for what I need to do, a networking flow diagram, it’s perfect, and free.

Some other examples for other venues are here.

My advice, get it. You’ve nothing to lose, everything to gain. While you are at it, if you want a simple and easy to use graphing program, may I suggest Dplot, which I also use. It’s a trial, and registration is cheap, and it has paid for itself many times over.

No this isn’t a commercial or paid plug, just stuff I thought I’d share this holiday season with thanks to the guy who needed some help understanding WiFi and 3G. It just goes to show that sometimes, good deeds are repaid.

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134 Responses to Software tip: How to save yourself at least $250

  1. wsbriggs says:

    Well picked Anthony!

    You might also find FreeMind useful, when brainstorming, or when you need to capture thoughts and want to rearrange the order later.

    There are a large number of open source, or freeware applications, some of which are abysmal, maybe even more than half, but the others make the whole idea of open source worth the pain.

  2. R. Gates says:

    Excellent post…thanks for the tip. I can think of several applications for this both on the job and at home.

  3. Ha, there’s even a FreeBSD port under graphics/dia. Man, what’ll they think of next? Webservers?

  4. DesertYote says:

    I hadn’t played with dia in a while. It seemed to have been stuck on .93 for years. I thought the project was dead. I guess it has been resuscitated. I’ll have to give it a spin. BTW, I only have used Visio at work and hated it. I was not all that impressed with dia either. I like QCAD which is a QT based 2D CAD program, though it is a bit like using a semi to bring home the groceries.

  5. Eddi Salm says:

    And a tip for everyone who is looking for a picture/foto editing software like photoshop:

    Download the free program GIMP!

  6. sped says:

    Tgif is what I use for vector drawings.

    Free, easy, makes nice eps for latex.

    Can also use lyx from tgif to edit latex equations easily, wysiwyg.

    Lyx is also a great latex frontend.

  7. Quinn says:

    Another great free, open source application is GIMP graphics editor. It can open and save as just about any format you can think of. It can convert raster/bitmap to vector graphics as well. Worth every penny, and then some.

  8. DirkH says:

    Thanks Anthony! I often have to resort to Powerpoint when preparing presentations in Visio-less environments, and something like Dia would come in handy. I’ll give it a try.

  9. Nice post. Open source software is great. It is amazing how many goodies there are around, in almost every category, including the Linux operating system. I have Linux on a couple of laptops, and the wife does not notice the difference from Windows. Just as easy and no crashes.

    Another good package people should support is OpenOffice. Ok, slightly less featured than “the alternative”, but far better value for money. And it runs on every OS, unlike “the alternative”.

  10. Orkneygal says:

    Some readers might not be familiar with OpenOffice, the free alternative to the Windows Office Suite of Excel, Word, PowerPoint, etc.

    It is excellent.

  11. björn says:

    You are on the right track!
    Not only is “dia” free, if you install Linux on your computer, everything is free!
    http://distrowatch.com/
    Why pay for a OS when there are free alternatives?
    I have used Linux exclusively for two years now.
    Ubuntu is my choice, it is brilliant.
    And you even can run many windows programs in wine (a windows emulator), not that I really have needed to, just some games.
    http://www.ubuntu.com/
    You can run it on the fly from dvd If you just want to try it out first.

  12. dbleader61 says:

    Thanks Anthony,

    We have Visio at work but limited number of licences because they are so expensive. A great tip.

  13. DR says:

    Thanks Anthony. I use Vizio at work and had no way to take it home. This may be the ticket.

    Having used Excel extensively at work I had the same problem so began using Open Office. It worked “ok”, but there were certain things that just didn’t cut it or weren’t compatible, so I ended up buying MS Office.

    In 1997 I bought a SCSI printer and it came with a full version of v4 Photoshop. Shortly after v5 came out which was quite a leap, but of course I had to pay $400 for the upgrade; no thanks. I ended up using hand-me-downs, but that stopped. A few years ago I tried GIMP and although it may not be up to PS standards, GIMP is still pretty darn good, and not being a professional graphics artist, it does everything I need.

  14. John F. Hultquist says:

    Nifty stuff. Thanks!

    But where have all the plastic templates gone that we used to do these things with? I still have one or two along with a couple of slide rules I’ve saved.

  15. Ian H says:

    I still use Xfig. It is old and the interface is outdated, but it is still the best tool for whipping up high quality scientific diagrams for inclusion in LaTeX documents.

    What is mentioned here actually applies fundamentally. There are very few proprietary programs around that don’t have a free alternative. Including and especially windows. Dia is just one instance of a general principle.

    Get rid of windows and install something decent like ubuntu and you have access to all of this software via free download from the repositaries right at your fingertips. Furthermore the package manager will keep the software you install up to date. And getting away from windows means no more worries about viruses and antiviruses and other assorted slimeware. I don’t know why people want to pay for software. The free stuff does everything you want and is usually better.

  16. Llanfar says:

    Just a note that LibreOffice is a fork from OpenOffice “…created by leading members of the OpenOffice.org Community” (their words.)

  17. Curiousgeorge says:

    I’m not a software geek, but occasionally will find a need for a specific application, and will spend some considerable time hunting down freeware before I pop a few bills for a pay program. I’m retired, so have far more time than money; which is also why I’m a slowpoke on the road. ;)

    Of course if Google has it’s way, you’ll have to rent everything from them in a few years. ! Isn’t their motto “Don’t be Evil”? Right.

  18. bob says:

    That’s a great idea! I was having a problem figuring out what to get my wife for Christmas.

  19. petereit says:

    I use gliffy.com. It’s free and there’s nothing to install. It’s web-based so you can access it from any internet-connected device.

  20. BS Footprint says:

    When it comes to office productivity software, I’ve stopped forking over $$$ to M$oft. I use OpenOffice for all my business needs. If a client requires that we do things using MS Office or Visio, then they usually pay for the license.

    I used to be a big M$oft supporter, but their application suites are too big and bloated (and expensive) for me.

    I’m slowly moving away from MS operating systems as well… after all, if I’m using cross-platform open-source applications, why do I need Windows? Two reasons: I’m a software developer on that platform so I can’t divorce myself completely, and, I really, really like Corel Draw and Visio.

    Up till now, Visio was one of the applications that couldn’t replace, so thanks for the Dia recommendation! I still love Corel Draw, though, and do lots of work using it. I suppose I’ll find a usable cross-platform/open source replacement for that once I start looking…

    Dittos on the FreeMind recommendation above. It’s a great tool for brainstorming.

  21. John Kehr says:

    I will have it installed on Ubuntu Linux tonight. Will let everyone knows how it goes. This could be very useful for me.

  22. Robert says:

    Yup al the usual suspects, Open Office and Gimp (although its a shame it does not support CMYK).

    But there is far more, Open Project, CutePDF (a simple but effective PDF-Distiller), PaintNet (not the [snip] from M$), Artrage (fun), Inkscape and loads moar.

    And now i am up to it, Sauerbraten (Cube 2) FPS, a free shoot em up for wich i made 5 maps :) http://sauerbraten.org/

    And a true gem, Orbiter, this is what M$ Space Simulator could have become, but they did not. http://orbit.medphys.ucl.ac.uk/home.php

    And they are all free :)

  23. gg says:

    Not sure if you know about TechNet ? Microsoft have a membership service that costs around $400 to join (about $600 + you can easily find discount coupons on the web). It gives 5 x licences for each type of Windows (XP, 7 etc), 5 licences for the Office suites and 5 for all the Visio suits. You get 5 licences for each and every bit of MS software for $400.

    They are genuin licences. The only catch, if that they are not mean for “commercial” use. They are meant to be personal copies that you use to study and learn with.

  24. jeef says:

    Kiss goodbye to internet explorer by downloading and using firefox from mozilla. Excellent alternative. They also have a mail client – thunderbird.

  25. JB Williamson says:

    Transferring bitmap images between platforms is well developed, but vector files, sadly, is not so easy. Not all vector packages support SVG in the same way, although I have found saving as a pdf and then loading that into another app will transfer the vector files quite successfully.

    As for graphing, if you are on a Mac, there is a hidden gem in the utility folder called ‘Grapher’, which is excellent for most tasks. Every Mac has a copy!

  26. Capn Jack Walker says:

    For non scientist type stuff may I recommend,

    Serif.com,

    there is some free stuff shareware for desktop publishing, to try before buy.

    The goodwife (Goody Heather), got a programm for the Christmas book at her the Childcare place she works, cheap and excellent, she was up and running in minutes.

    We searched for a while. I was back from Mermink hunting and as a sailor boy she made me surf for awhile. She done personal 18 books in just about no time, just images and stuff.

    Very clicky and pointy.

  27. JB Williamson says:

    Ohh and I should have mentioned Xara. An excellent and affordable vector drawing package, with a good pedigree. Worth a trial I would suggest – and no I’m not connected to the company:-)

  28. Warren in Minnesota says:

    I don’t have a current need for a Visio like program, but I will keep Diagram in mind. Thank you for the information.

    I also do not like the versions of Microsoft Office that came after its 2003 version; nor did I want to unlearn the 2003 version and learn a new one. I then tried OpenOffice on a new laptop, but found its menu system and short cut keys just too different from Microsoft’s Office 2003 that I purchased the 2003 version in 2009 for my new laptop. New each of my two computers has Office 2003.

    However, I needed an application to work with pictures. I tried GIMP and found it to be very useful and inexpensive.

  29. The Iconoclast says:

    I like the free stuff from http://www.graphviz.org/ — you can give it the relationships and it will do the drawing for you.

  30. Joe Horner says:

    Great to see Open Source getting so many thumbs up!

    I’ve loved the idea of Linux for years and installed it to “play” with a few times. The big problem I’ve always had is that I rely on 3G for internet (yes, 3G not WiFi ;) ) and, while it’s been possible to get it working, it was never exactly plug & play. Last week I installed a recent Ubuntu (10.something) and what a change! It really has matured in every conceivable way – including better plug & play support for my 3G dongle than Windows provides. My phone company doesn’t support Linux but it seems Linux supports them!

    The only thing stopping me dumping Windoze now is that I’m part way through a Visual Basic course with the OU so I need to use, err, VB (including specifically the Express IDE) and I can’t see MS porting that any time soon :P

    Seriously, if you haven’t tried it yet, get a “Live” Linux CD, boot up, and see what you’re missing!

  31. CodeTech says:

    Ah open source… the best and worst, simultaneously.

    Advantages:
    lots of hands on a project means details get rapidly fixed
    for corporate use, it’s good to KNOW what the code is doing
    low purchase price (usually zero)
    desperately need a feature? Don’t wait for next year’s update: add it yourself
    trying to decode a data format? just read the code

    Disadvantages:
    Usually, lack of cohesive project and design management. Many open source projects are hopelessly confused and a mish-mash of programmers’ ideas.
    It ships when it ships.
    QC is based on user feedback which is based on people who use the product. Learning curve for new users is often insurmountably steep.

    We use open source at work here whenever possible, by my own directive. The webservers are linux, the newest fileservers are linux using Samba (accessible to windows machines). We’re porting the MSSQL database to MySQL (a significant speed and functionality increase).
    I’ve dumped OpenOffice because it’s so nastily inconsistent between apps, still crashes in a lot of areas, and a few other reasons. I built a multi-thousand page document with it, so I can assure you I know where it’s strengths and weaknesses are. Maybe someday it will be “good” instead of just “free”.
    I’ve used Dia, but am not a fan. If gimp vanished tomorrow I wouldn’t miss it.

    In fact, the takeaway is: purchase price can be zero, but cost of ownership (in a corporate environment) can overwhelm that advantage over time. Often a shockingly brief time.

  32. sherlock says:

    Something to consider is programmability. Sometimes an actual model, not just a picture, is what you need. I can’t apply the argument to network design, but I have used PowerPoint to build automated process-design and analysis tools that work very well. When you look under the covers, there isn’t much that Visio can do that PowerPoint can’t in this respect, given the VBA language built into MS Office tools. As for other suites and programs, you’ll have to check on the availability of an API or scripting capability yourself. An unexpected benefit of using PowerPoint is that since so many non-technical users are familiar with it, they seem to instinctively find tools built around it less intimidating.

  33. Mike McMillan says:

    Inkscape for vector graphics and .svg files.

  34. DesertYote says:

    #
    JB Williamson
    December 15, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    For SVG, use Inkscape. Its goal is to become the ultimate SVG complaint authoring system. I found that svgs I create with it import to other apps better then anything else I have used.

    Reply: Humorous typo. ~ ctm

  35. peterhodges says:

    awesome anthony.

    for help finding open source alternatives to common programs go here:

    http://www.osalt.com/

    http://sourceforge.net/

    firefox and openoffice own the corporate alternatives. with openoffice you can open new ms document formats that even other ms products won’t open, and import and export pdf as well.

    for the adventurous pclinuxos is a pretty idiot proof linux distribution. i spent hours getting windows on a machine, then loaded PCLOS in about 20 minutes…all the drivers and such loaded right in on install. so it in fact may be easier to use than windows!

    http://www.pclinuxos.com/

  36. TimM says:

    Welcome to the dark side A! We’ll make a sysadmin out of you yet :)

    For a meteorologist you are very tech savvy I must say. Kudos.

  37. psi says:

    Thanks for the hot tip, Anthony. For those who are not aware, you can also get great open source tools for just about everything these days — gimp for image manipulation and Kompozer for NvU for html editing, not to mention, of course Open Office, which does just about everything which Microsoft Office does, for free — and sometimes more and better.

    Support Open Source and it will support you. Help us all get off the Microsoft junkie routine. If you want to get really rad, try Ubuntu for your operating system.

  38. Johan says:

    Great! Like you I was on the brink of buying Visio, and now you just saved me 319 EUR. :)

  39. MDR says:

    I have found the http://www.osalt.com website immensely useful for finding open-source alternatives to commercial software packages.

  40. Richard Sharpe says:

    I have used Dia off and on for something like 10 years, I believe.

  41. Kate says:

    A much better program for flowcharts is Diagram Designer
    http://logicnet.dk/meesoft/DiagramDesigner/

    Also take a look at CADE
    http://www.404techsupport.com/2008/09/26/cade-another-visio-alternative/

    And let’s not forget Network Notepad
    http://www.networknotepad.com/

    Give yED a look as well
    http://www.yworks.com/en/products_yed_about.html

    and while we’re about it ArgoUML
    http://argouml.tigris.org/

  42. Eric says:

    jfig (http://tams-www.informatik.uni-hamburg.de/applets/jfig/) is a Java version of xfig; it runs on any platform that supports Java. It’s also available as a webstart app: http://tams-www.informatik.uni-hamburg.de/applets/jfig/webstart.html.

  43. Thanks Anthony: it works on the Mac too and looks easier then some of the other diagram programs I am using.

  44. 1DandyTroll says:

    There’s plenty free, as in free beer, scientific applications that can be had.

    https://help.ubuntu.com/community/UbuntuScience

    Just go virtual and then try what ever application. Sun Microsystems virtualbox is free for personal use and Ubuntu is is free beer.

  45. juanslayton says:

    This won’t be news to most of your commenters here, but just in case you’re new to free software, here’s a place to start:
    http://directory.fsf.org/

  46. JER0ME says:

    Many thanks.

    Coincidentally I have been looking for a simple tool do create a few UML diagrams. The only free one required Java, which I always find a pain in my Windows world. This one seems not to require this extra layer.

    Saved me a $100 I was going to pay for another tool. If this works, some of that will go to your tip jar, and some to the writers of the software!

  47. FredK says:

    OpenOffice /LibreOffice Draw has all the flowchart and connection lines ready to use. (Fedora Linux user)
    But good tip still the same AW,

  48. R. Shearer says:

    Any guess on whether Michael Mann would contemplate shoplifting?

  49. Dr. Dave says:

    Quite a fun comment thread. I’ve been an Office Suite user for many, many years and I use ALL of it…word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, database, etc. I’ve used OpenOffice for several years as well. OO will do all the basics but it I find it just a bit clumsy. A few years ago I had to perform a frequency distribution with a dataset of about 10,000 numbers. The built in help and even online help for Microsoft Excel was woefully inadequate but eventually I figured it out (it’s the little things they DON’T tell you that screw you up). I loaded the very same data into OpenOffice and had no problem replicating my work. It’s the “little” differences between Office and OO that are so incredibly annoying. The built-in PDF converter in OO may tip the balance.

    I may just have to build a Linux box just to play with. I have built the last 9 computers I have owned and used to enjoy doing so. Now I have something of an aversion to it. I probably just got burnt out. I can’t possibly keep up with the rapidly changing, evolving world of PCs along with what I do for a living. But there were several great comments here. A lot of stuff for me to experiment with. Thanks to everyone.

  50. Dr A Burns says:

    Of the thousands of pieces of free software, nothing compares with Blender 3D. Equivalent commercial software costs thousands of dollars. The old UI was its major source of criticism but it has been totally rebuilt in V2.5x.

    Blender does everything from fluid simulation, smoke, video editing, 3d or 2d drawing. It is amazing!

  51. AdderW says:

    Orkneygal mentioned OpenOffice, the free alternative to the Windows Office Suite of Excel, Word, PowerPoint, etc.

    NeoOffice is the option for us Mac users

  52. Elise says:

    As a technical writer I use a lot of screen captures. I stumbled across Hypersnap about 9 years ago and forked out 25$ because it was well worth it. have used it on a daily basis ever since with only once having to pay for an upgrade (12$) about three years ago even though there have been about 100 upgrades during that time.

    It is by far the best screen capture software I’ve ever seen (and definitely the best software purchase I’ve ever made) and I would recommend it to anyone.

    Free download here if you want to try it out (I think it leaves a watermark until you buy it)
    http://www.hyperionics.com/hsdx/downloads.asp

    Try out the window capture with auto-scroll on the WUWT forum. You can capture it as a very long image and save in almost any image format or you can even capture it as rich text and then paste it into a word or excel file.

  53. sensorman says:

    I’d just like to confirm that DPlot is excellent – extremely powerful, and handles large data files with ease. Used the trial version for a day or two but it’s such good value that you’d be crazy not to buy the thing – now couldn’t work without it!

  54. Neil McEvoy says:

    OmniGraffle is a good drawing package for the Mac that can output files in visio format.

  55. ZT says:

    Yup – graphviz is great – feed in the text file and it outputs a drawing that would take hours by any other method. (Graphviz is open source too).

    Anthony, I think that you may have hit upon the reason that Bill Gates et Al (no pun intended) are so keen on Global Warming – they make more money when the people are kept ignorant.

  56. crosspatch says:

    I live in Visio. I had looked at Dia a long time ago and it wasn’t at all ready for prime-time then. I wonder if it is at all useful now.

    “Dia is roughly inspired by the commercial Windows program ‘Visio’, though more geared towards informal diagrams for casual use”

    Right. I make formal diagrams for professional use and must share them with people who have Visio and do not have Dia. So it is still a non-alternative for me. Practically every network engineer in the world has Visio. All equipment vendors produce Visio stencils for their gear. Its nice for someone who might need it for some hobby project, but there really isn’t an alternative for professional use … until Dia learns how to import Visio stencils and export drawings in Visio formation so they can be shared.

  57. Colin from Mission B.C. says:

    I’ve recently begun to use OpenOffice.org for my spreadsheet and document needs. My needs are minimal, home and small business use primarily, but I’ve always been a Microsoft user over the years. My most recent edition of MS Office is — believe it or not — Office 2000, and over the last several months have been meaning to upgrade to a more current version.

    Anyways, I think I was prompted after a recent Adobe update, to try OpenOffice. So far, I’ve been fairly happy with it. And, of course, it’s totally free. As a previous user of MS Office, OpenOffice is built intuitively. Not much of a learning curve at all.

    I actually marvel at the level to which Microsoft still has such a captive paying customer base. I have no beef with MS (heh, I personally avoided Vista, going from XP straight to Win7, otherwise perhaps I’d have a beef or two), I’m just strictly making an observation.

  58. Jean Parisot says:

    I use Ubuntu and Windows – if I could replace Visio, Project, and sync my Blackberry on the Linux box (I’ve built and tried the various tools) – the world would warm a little less as the Windows box would go. I wish I could do my part.

  59. Ric Werme says:

    Ian H says:
    December 15, 2010 at 11:49 am

    > I still use Xfig. It is old and the interface is outdated

    A long time ago I went looking for some free Unix package that used ASCII files for the draw objects and came across xfig. It only did black & white, but that was fine for the task at hand. (That was to take low level OS timing data and display things graphically via a filter that converted the timing data into boxes and tick marks.) A couple years later it had color support and I was looking for some much more complicated displays showing multiple threads, the cpu they ran on, when they were sleeping, waiting for a cpu, or actually running; whether the thread was in file system, network, or device driver code, etc. The results were instrumental in discovering a significant performance problem I never knew we had. Some of the results are in http://www.connectathon.org/talks02/werme.pdf but E.M Smith may be one of the few people here who would appreciate it.

    I need to make a little graphic for new post here, it’ll be an xfig task. It’ll also be junky enough that Anthony might want to redo it.

  60. Dave Marney says:

    Can’t believe no one has mentioned alternativeto.net — this is the one-stop shop for finding all apps that are an “alternative to” Product X. alternativeto.net lists 20 alternatives to Visio: http://alternativeto.net/software/microsoft-visio/

    Speaking of Visio, I recommend that people who do any sort of modeling (such as network diagramming) spend a few bucks and get a real modeling tool. My favorite is Enterprise Architect from Sparx Systems (www.sparksystems.com). A modeling tool lets you build a database of elements and relationships to describe any system from multiple points of view. A diagramming tool such as Visio just lets you draw pretty pictures.

  61. pyromancer76 says:

    Wish I had the background, training, and knowledge to use any or all of these suggestions. How many good people there are and how many good minds who want to share their insights and techniques. Gives one hope and enables one to say Merry Christmas with happiness and gratitude.

  62. INGSOC says:

    Ubuntu is worth the switch for more than just the free stuff! It will take a bit of getting used too, but you wont regret it. I especially like the fact that it wont do anything unless I allow it first. Windows spends more than half it’s time doing sneaky things without permission, and even insists you wait until it is finished before giving you a little control back.
    A handy hint if you decide to switch, go to Ubuntu Forums (http://ubuntuforums.org) for help with any issues you may encounter. The folks there actually like to help new users!

  63. Richard Steckis says:

    The cheaper version of Visio will fulfill your diagramming needs. The ultimate version is essentially for Database design and development. In other words, you can design your database in Visio and then connect to a SQL database management system and create a new database from the Visio design. The ultimate version also allows the reverse engineering of databases and has full integration with Visual Studio.

    You get what you pay for but don’t pay for more than you need.

  64. Brett_McS says:

    I use Python with the numpy/scipy/pylab modules for numerical analysis and plotting. All free and open source. Fantastic quality software. Python is the best computer language evah!

    Thanks for the note on Dia. Should come in handy. Also put in a vote for Freemind, noted above.

  65. Madman2001 says:

    Let me also put a good word in for Gimp (does what Adobe Photoshop does) and Inkscape (a fabulous drawing system). Being using both for some time now and I love them.

  66. Smokey says:

    My minuscule contribution:

    http://mediaconverter.org

  67. I’ll also confirm that Dplot is good value. I have used it to make a plot of a time series with almost two million data points, no problem.

  68. Albert Kallal says:

    Golly listening to all the stuff about free, not having to pay for anything, and what a great ride, I thought I was accidentally on the Cancun site for the IPCC.

    Or perhaps I was reading a site dedicated to Karl Marx?

    People should keep in mind the whole concept of royal or royalty is something that western society has adopted in granting to individuals what we call intellectual property rights. This concept of intellectual property rights is very much which made North America and the western societies great. The open source movement is a movement which seeks to remove the concept of granting individual property rights for work done.

    The farther down the road you go and the more you seek to remove things like intellectual property rights results then that you can manufacture and build things anywhere in the world and import them here.

    I can guarantee you that if China and in fact even European countries of the world did not have to pay for an Intel processor, they would not do so. In fact there’s a movement among government and nations to push forward an open source processor design. In other words just set up a fab plant and start stamping out your own processors. And in fact a lot of countries of the world want to do exactly that with drugs also.

    In Europe they recently fined Microsoft ½ billion dollars for trying to include a windows media player. One that has been part of windows since windows 3.0, and was out long before the likes of RealAudio and those other companies that were complaining to the socialist EU (so it was included in 1990).

    I’m pretty sure most readers here will gather that there’s not a heck of a lot of difference between the UN and the EU.

    Furthermore most of the Governments of the EU are now demanding that any software contractor use open source software. This simply means in a fact that we have to sign away all of our IP rights to that government if we want any work. Gee perhaps what’s next, any coffee or pop that a government office purchases has to manufactured and grown on socialized public funded land and none that owned by private individuals anymore? Wow!

    I hope readers here realize about 17 years ago Al Gore was making the rounds pushing free trade and fighting the likes of Ross Perot for this very issue of trade and intellectual property rights. It always seems the same gang of the elite crooks brew up these things to destroy the west. This simply means once again the west is to give away the things that we’ve earned and worked so hard to provide and obtain a great standard of living that we have in the west.

    This is a whole thing again like the use of energy and fossil fuels that is in a way of victim of its own success since the use of energy provides such a great and comfortable standard a living for us.

    I also found it confusing and so hard to believe that in the latest rounds of elections in California, the people voted back in so many socialists and even voted for the dirty carbon tax. On the other hand once a society reaches a little over 50% of the people in that their voting means they receive more for voting in government services then it cost them, then you PASSED a tipping point and down that spiral you go.

    On the other hand looking at the comments here, and everybody talking about free and not having to pay for these things, I realize that Karl Marx and socialism is alive and well among the readers here.

    At the end of the day one of the great things of our western society is that we build great products, we pay good money for them, and this creates value in our economy.

    The fact the matter is at the end of the day the new version of word is an astoundingly well engineered product. It loads at least 4 times faster then open office, is far more stable and has some really amazing features like inserting of formulas.

    Furthermore on a dell laptop, I seen word included for an additional $30.00 (so it’s not really expensive depending on the kind of bundling you get).

    Now I am not going to stand here and tell everybody that they should run out and purchase Visio, but I do want them to keep in mind that for the most part the open source movement is being funded by large government projects and large companies pumping in money that seek to destroy the western concept of granting rights of ownership to people’s intellectual work.

    Companies like IBM are into selling and leasing equipment, to run your business. And IBM is just like Las Vegas that loves cheap airline flights to keep people coming, we see major portions of corporate industry that don’t like having to pay for software. These companies thus support things like free trade or actively fund software projects that reduce the ability to attach intellectual property rights and ownership to that software.

    So while I don’t mind some people making a choice to deciding to use open source software, if it seems like too good of the deal to be true, it probably is, and also means it just represents another nail in the coffin of destroying a bunch of great American Industries. I mean for years in California, all these government organizations on the socialist Dole seemed to have an true paradise of the socialist dream. However now the party is over, and eventually will have to be new Capital Investment in California for that economy to create jobs, and the same thing will happen in the open source movement. However with continued pumping money into the open source movement, especially by the European nations that are now specifying open source must be part of their purchasing, then it’s no different than supporting certain companies that will only purchase goods and services from unionized or non privately owned farms for example.

    We see the same thing around the world today with some of these drug companies that have made some marvelous incredible drugs, yet charge a high price for those drugs. Those third world countries are arguing they should not have to pay for these prices yet reap the benefits of the investments and toil and work that was done in the west to create those drugs. And now we see the same thing with the open source software movement, they want the benefits of the software, yet no granting of intellectual property rights for use of that software. It is oh so great when things are free! Just ask the folks having a great big free party in Cancun.

    And a course in Cancun, because we built all our great western economies using fossil fuels, were supposed to be penalized and transfer wealth and money to these nations for the simple FACT of our success.

    So I think it is important to point out that the great western economies were built around the concept of granting intellectual property rights, be it the great companies like Hewlett Packard, Eastman Kodak, Dr. Land at Polaroid, or companies like Microsoft that built the incredible office suite. These are good things, and not something to be hated or bashed or put down in the name of socialism and getting everything for free as the people here are so happy to point out.

    We all need to realize there’s a good use for these products and people are wiling purchase billions of dollars of Coca-Cola, or billions of dollars of software because they see the incredible value that these products represents .

    Do keep in mind it is at the end of the day this idea of not having to pay for these products is an anti west and anti intellectual property rights movement, and it seeks to remove rights of ownership of people’s work which is really a pillar and foundation of what our western society was built on.

    Albert D. Kallal
    Edmonton, Alberta Canada

  69. earthdog says:

    Don’t forget gnuplot! Unless someone else already brought it up…

    And since the Gimp has already been brought up, Paint.net is very nice.

  70. Pat Heuvel says:

    I saw a comment on desktop publishing – but nobody has mentioned Scribus!

    Find it here: http://www.scribus.net/

    [ Fixed link, was not in display part. -MOD ]

  71. Pat Heuvel says:

    Hmmm… address didn’t post (try again): http://www.scribus.net/

  72. Thanks Anthony.

    Merry Christmas!

  73. jorgekafkazar says:

    Great thread. When I was IT guy for a smallish branch of a large corporation, I was one of the few that took licensing seriously. One day, the Federales descended on the parent company with search warrants and found hundreds of pirate copies of major software. The company was fined thousands of dollars.

    On the other hand, Micro-Bloat-o-soft has put dozens of innovation companies out of business and prevented further investment in hundreds of others, So I have no qualms about using competing software, especially if it’s free. This is part of the capitalistic process.

  74. Brett_McS says:

    Albert Kallal, you don’t understand the concept of Open Source Software. Check out Eric S Raymond “The Cathedral and the Bazaar”. Also, plenty of people make money from “free” software on the downstream side. Python is a good example of that.

  75. Squidly says:

    This is a good display of what I believe is wrong in the software industry. At least in my humble opinion. I believe companies like Micro$oft and Adobe tend to price themselves way out of the market. For example, M$ sells the home version of Office for $279.99. I can buy an entry level notebook computer for that. In my house, we have 5 notebook computers and a couple of desktops. It would cost me $1395+ to load just the notebooks with M$-Office. In short, not going to do it. However, if M$ were to provide that “home” version for something more reasonable, say $79 or even $59, I would be more inclined to load’em up, and spend the $375 to do it. So, because M$ has priced their products so high, they are missing out and instead of me sending them 375 of my hard earned clams, I send them zero and either make do, or download something like OpenOffice for free. Doesn’t sound like a good marketing strategy to me, but then hey, I’m no marketing analyst either, just a software engineer.

    There are a whole host of GREAT free software projects out there. I recommend you ALWAYS do a little research before purchasing ANYTHING. Also, please, for those open source/freeware projects that accept tips/donations, please give and help these people along, after all, they are doing you a service by donating their time and expertise to bring you these products for FREE! They are patriots! Show them you care!

  76. Squidly says:

    Sorta on topic.. Just saw an ad on TV for Dragon (speech software). I was appalled by the commercial touting “Climate Change” and how humans are destroying the earth (paraphrasing). What the heck is a nazi-environmentalism plug doing in a software commercial? .. That does it for me, I most certainly will never buy THEIR product.

  77. MartinGAtkins says:

    earthdog says:
    December 15, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    Don’t forget gnuplot! Unless someone else already brought it up…

    All my graphs are written using gnuplot.

    Gnuplot is a command-line driven interactive function plotting utility for Linux, OSX, MSWin, VMS, and many other platforms. The software is copyrighted but freely distributed (i.e., you don’t have to pay for it).

    If linux users have a problem with the lack of interface functionality then try installing the Windows version on your linux partition and run the program using “wine”.

    http://www.gnuplot.info/

  78. I had a similar experience when I discovered Inkscape — a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator.

    Check out: http://inkscape.org/

    I used this program to create an elaborate astronomy poster.

    Happy Holidays,

  79. Albert Kallal says:

    @wrote:
    Brett_McS says: December 15, 2010 at 8:56 pmAlbert Kallal, you don’t understand the concept of Open Source Software. Check out Eric S Raymond “The Cathedral and the Bazaar”.

    I have a copy of Eric S. Raymond’s book. I understand the whole process very well. The question here sure you can make money by working in the food industry. However not all of us want to sell our services to the food industry and not all of us want to make our money in the software industry by selling our services. Some of want to OWN our restaurants or OWN the rights to our software. Just recent the Indian wanted Coke Cola to disclose their formula under some new food act Why give away all these things we create in the west?

    I might want to keep and own how we grow those great big juicy tomatoes that our competitors don’t know how to make. Some of us want to publish our books or software.

    Helping out and doing great things for your community is fine, but when governments mandate and make it an requirement that I sign away how I grow those great tomatoes or how I build those great desks or how one builds that great software then I have a big problem here. In other words, it becomes a forced decree that those people are NOT going to purchase anything from people who own things.

    No ownership = socialism.

    So where the problem here is governments are now stating they will not purchase things with IP rights. I mean, sure, lets not purchase our paper from anyone who owns the land, but ONLY from a socialized cabal?

    Giving away your IP rights as the open source community asks means you never own your intellectual work anymore. That is really the same difference as between working in the food industry as opposed to owning an restaurant. I am MOST aware that you can make money in open source by doing work as an service as opposed to publishing or selling ones intellectual abilities. Not all of us want to work as an service, but some of us want to sell books or software. The OS community is asking us to give up our IP rights to other people and this is clear as day what they are asking.

    I suppose if you don’t have any money then you will most freely advocate taking that money away from people like the folks in Cancun are doing. How great it is that people with no money ask for those who have money to give it away!

    And I suppose if your don’t have any intellectual ability or something that you value in terms of intellectual property then again I am sure you advocate an system that takes way that property right from those that have this ability.

    This taking away of that right is EXACTLY what the open source community is advocating. Did you ever wonder why that community seems anti west and anti business at the same time?

    It is a form of socialism in that it denies the right of ownership. For those that freely give their time to society in the community is a great thing that we should all do. However there is a grand canyon of an difference when this giving becomes a demand of governments and society, then I have a HUGE problem.

    It means we have less ability to reap the rewards of creative hard work. This is exactly what the folks in Cancun want in terms of taking away our money because we made the efforts to build up a society of wealth in the west. We have a system that rewards hard work and creative people and these people want to take that away.

    So sure I understand for those that don’t invent or make things they will most certainly advocate a system in which those do create or invent things do not benefit from that ability. I fail to see much difference here between those that advocate taking money away from the people who have and those who advocate taking away IP rights from people and giving it to those who do not.

    Albert D. Kallal
    Edmonton, Alberta Canada

  80. Dan says:

    Don’t forget DraftSight if you are contemplating a 2D Cad program:

    http://www.3ds.com/products/draftsight/download-draftsight/

    Totally free from Dassault Systems (CATIA). Puts out .dwg files.

  81. JB Williamson says:

    DesertYote says:

    For SVG, use Inkscape. Its goal is to become the ultimate SVG complaint authoring system.

    Thanks for the tip. A Mac version is available, so will try it out.

  82. Ian H says:

    @Albert Kalal: You have very strange ideas. Free software is all about freedom. How you can equate it with communism is beyond me.

    I don’t want to write a long rebuttal ( http://xkcd.com/386/ ). But note that free software thrives in the complete absence of any kind of state coercion. Free software and freedom go naturally together. Whereas commercial software needs the power of the state to exist – special laws like the DMCA; courts, lawyers, and heavy fines; police actions by homeland security; arrests and prosecutions and people sent to prison – in short the ideal environment for proprietary software is a police state.

  83. Thanks for the link to DPlot, Anthony. I’ve been looking for a replacement for CricketGraph for the Mac which is still the best plotting program I’ve ever used. I’ve been creating graphs running my 1988 version of CricketGraph under BasiliskII and exporting the results from Mac emulation as rtf files; a rather tedious process. Was just about to start writing my own ActiveX control to do my data plotting in my VB programs when this post appeared about DPlot.

    It is impressive! Easily and quickly plots scatter graphs of 32000 points and can be called from VB using a far simpler API than M$Graph (the worst control they’ve ever written). Also, unlike M$Graph, what comes out on the printer is the same thing that is displayed on the screen. DPlot price is a bit steep but I really like what I’ve seen thus far. Timing couldn’t have been better and fortunately I’d only spent a couple of hours on my general purpose graph control thus far.

  84. Robert says:

    @Albert

    I do not recall being anti-west and anti-capitalist for working on a Opensource Game called Sauerbraten. It has more to do with being fun to work on, intresting to learn from it and it looks good on your resume.

    But that is just a small project compared to Open Office or Blender.

  85. Ian H says:

    @Robert: Thanks for Sauerbraten. Cool game.

  86. Albert Kallal says:

    @Ian H wrote:
    . Free software and freedom go naturally together. Whereas commercial software needs the power of the state to exist

    The same goes for land owners and business too?

    Of course it is the State and Society that grants your rights to own a car. That state (Hopefully ) also respects the right of you and your family to own a house. Or own a business, or the right of you to own your own farm and land.

    Now of course the AGW folks might want to tax the gas that comes out of YOUR cow for THEIR benefit at the expense of YOUR family. And I’m sure if you resist the government they will very well try to take your farm away. (Australia anyone?)

    So course the state grants the ownership of things, it’s called the concept of private property and it took society a long time to figure this out. Now course you could Fall for the Socialist preaching that if you allow people to own land, then they can exploit their workers. Or if you grant intellectual property rights, you get the exact same false argument about a police state .

    However at the end of day, it is ONLY when the state grants ownership of things to people is the ONLY means of which people can have TRUE freedom from the VERY state that grants that ownership. If you have true ownership of your own resources and property, then the government cannot tell you what to do, nor do you have to go to the government for a handout Or listen to their garbage propaganda about AGW and how they want to take away what you have and give it to somebody else by taxing your cow gas coming out of its rear.

    So you’re preaching about a police state exactly applies and is the same manifested garbage that was used to teach people how land and private property is a Evil thing. Yes if you could just get rid of those big bad business owners and those big greedy landowners, and redistribute the wealth then the world would be such a wonderful place. Without that land we would not need any contract laws and perhaps even could get rid of the court system! Sorry to say, you’re preaching Karl Marx here.

    Now this doesn’t mean that everybody who does community works and has a concept of sharing and caring is Communist or socialist. So I am no more stating that just because someone supports open source, it does not mean they are pushing a brand of socialism . However when the government starts to mandate that you MUST do this, then they are in in fact pushing a brand of socialism and seeking to remove the concept of private property and private rights.

    It is an issue of the people vs. the state, and are you going to grant individual strong state supported Private rights. So it is without question that you want the BEST legal system and a very STRONG support of individual private rights. Without Support of private individual rights, you’re asking citizens of the society to give up their individual rights and turn them over to the state. This turning over of rights is quite much what the UN is attempting to do on a global scale. So the whole Socialist movement is much using AGW to push this type of agenda. (they want nations to give up their Sovereign rights, and that’s not much different than individuals giving up ther private property rights to their state)

    Any society that does not grant strong state supported individual property rights is a society that’s going down the road toward socialism . Ownership of private property rights is probably one of the MOST important things that any society can support and endorse.

    So yes, it DOES take strong State supported laws to enforce individual rights. In fact we see this philosophy realized in the Magna Carta, and also that of the constitution of the United States. The very idealism here is such that the great western societies actually recognize that you need SUCH strong laws to protect citizens from the VERY government which almost always grows as a big cancer on society and continually attempts to take away private rights .

    Great societies are the ones that value and protect private rights EVEN above that of the state rights.

    We are MOST Indebted and privileged to have Anthony as a host to promote and do the great works that he is done for the community in this fight Against CAGW. I can assure you in a non free society, this site would be shut down in a matter of minutes.

    It is only because we have a strong state and legal system that the thuggery of the governments of the world cannot shut us down. However if we don’t fight for things like intellectual property rights, we will see a day when a site WUWT will not be legal at all.

    Albert D. Kallal
    Edmonton, Alberta Canada

  87. FreeMind is okay, but the cat’s meow for flow-chart and mind-map making is Comapping (found at Comapping.com).

    A month free trial, then 50 bucks a year. Just a wonderful program compared to FreeMind, MindManger, or any of them, really. You have to work with it for just a day to see how slick, easy, fast, stable, etc., it is.

  88. Michael D Smith says:

    You got me looking for graphing programs… This one is pretty amazing as a graphing calculator. I don’t think you can import coordinates for 3D maps, but for what it does, the free version is extremely cool to play with…

    http://download.cnet.com/Graphing-Calculator-3D/3000-2053_4-10725117.html?tag=mncol;9

  89. Mike Haseler says:

    OK, downloaded, looks OK – but there’s no way to draw a circle with its centre on the grid!!!!

    Also, it has some quirky ideas like e.g. “snap to grid” is part of the view menu. Snapping to the grid is no more part of the “view” than is a circle!!

    Any way, I’ll give it a go as I used to use Visio all the time until it became part of the micro$oft empire!

  90. johanna says:

    Albert D. Kallal said:

    However if we don’t fight for things like intellectual property rights, we will see a day when a site WUWT will not be legal at all.

    —————————————————————————–
    Huh? Bit of a non sequitur there, methinks.

    Look, the reason copyright and IP is under attack everywhere is because the owners got greedy. When CDs that cost a couple of dollars to manufacture were being retailed for $30, when book copyright owners managed to con the US government into extending their rights till 70 years after the death of the author, when M$ charges hundreds of dollars for a product that isn’t worth it – you get the idea.

    As a PP said, if he could buy M$ products for his family’s computers at a reasonable price, he would do so. In an age where multiple computers in a household or business are the norm, the pricing model is extortion and people know it.

    The recorded music industry is on its knees because punters know they are being ripped off. Many years ago, vinyl records were enthusiastically ‘pirated’ onto cassette tapes – but people kept buying records because the product was superior in terms of sound quality, packaging etc and the price was considered reasonable. The Great CD Ripoff laid the groundwork for the industry’s demise.

    The mass market will always exist for good products – most people are not nerds and can’t or won’t go digging around on the internet for obscure (albeit free) computer products if there is a cheap and satisfactory alternative in their local store.

    Similarly, the owners of copyrights for print, audio and visual products are shooting themselves in the foot. It is cheaper and easier to create new product than to deal with the complex and expensive copyright and licensing arrangements that they have wrung from legislators.

    In Australia we have just had a case where the local music copyright association tried to hit gyms with music royalty increases that would have increased costs sixty-fold. Fortunately, the courts threw it out. But, it is symptomatic of the problem. And I’m guessing that if it had been upheld, there is no way that gyms would have copped the extra costs. They would have found a solution which did not involve using the music in question.

  91. Albert Kallal says:

    @johanna
    Huh? Bit of a non sequitur there, methinks.
    ==

    I respectively see this different.

    Actually, this is about freedom. Did you not wonder why OVER 150 heads of state ALL flew to Copenhagen last year?

    Here is a short video by Lord Monckton explain near what the WHOLE CAGW fight is all about.

    The Stoke of the Pen:

    (above video of Lord M is oh so very Inspirational).

    Here you stand telling me that someone should not pull oil out of the ground for $3 dollars a barrel and sell it for $80 because YOU suppose it is highway robbery and it should be stopped. Why are you now deciding what is hiway robbery for everyone? Gee, I guess you better catch the next plane and join the folks in Cancun to join the demonstrators fighting against the big bad greedy oil companies that sell their product for more than 20 times the cost? Perhaps next week you be demonstrating against the software companies?

    People tend to find what they purchase WELL worth it and that is why they buy billions of dollars of that stuff. Be it Coke Cola or Word. And stating production cost is only 20 cents for a disk is really not honest on your part at all.

    BTW you can purchase a home edition 3 license family pack of office 2010 with word + execl + PowerPoint for $124.

    In fact, even when not at sale, that above package goes for $150, and that is for 3 legal activations of word + excel + power point etc.

    People find this stuff afforable and thus thus WILLING purchase billions of it.

    Anyway, I am not here to debate that you think a BMW or some software or someone’s favorite wine is too expensive. I happen to think that $10 worth of gas that lets me run around town for few days is WELL worth the cost and price I pay. If people find something too expensive, they just have to find some alternatives then.

    I not here to tell you what to purchase or justify throwing out property rights because you think someone is charging too much for their steak so you thus justify the view that farm ownership should be abolished.

    However, I am MOST certainly telling you the connection of the open source movement and that concept of eroding property rights is a real issue.

    Anyway, do please view the above video of Lord Monckton.

    And yes, I was serious that in MANY counties around the world do not have the rights granted to them to enjoy something like WUWT.

    The whole CAGW fight was all about freedom as Lord Monckton points out.

    Freedom is worth fighting for.

    Albert D. Kallal
    Edmonton, Alberta Canada

  92. I must say that I find Albert D. Kallal’s viewpoint rather bizarre. One of the most retrogressive moves that has occurred in recent memory is to allow software to be patented. This stifles innovation and creates monopolies on trivial algorithms which can very easily be independently arrived at by a competent programmer given a particular program. I don’t use commercial software as I usually can’t agree to the license terms and so stick to open source. My longstanding belief is that when I buy something, it is mine and I can take it apart or use it in a novel way that wasn’t intended by its maker. Commercial software licenses prohibit this so I don’t use the software. When I do use such software, someone else has agreed to the license terms which is why every computer I’ve bought has been a demo model where windoze has been pre-activated or machines I’ve built and installed Linux on.

    For me software is a tool to create better software and there is a very large community of programmers who freely make the results of their work available. The authors of the programs get recognition for putting them into the public domain and I make sure to credit the author for every bit of code that I borrow in my programs. Anyone who has worked in scientific research is aware of how productive the process of publishing ones results is (except in the area of climatology where the individuals involved seem to use Micro$oft as their model).

    Having source code available is essential as software companies disappear and then one is left with data files that one has to reverse engineer to extract data. In the area of electronic medical records (EMR) I would never use a closed source program as companies that provide EMR’s have a distressing habit of disappearing leaving physicians with data in a format that is non-trivial to transfer to a new EMR program. Also, I like the freedom to change a program to operate as I think it should rather than how it was originally created. This requires source code although disassemblers are quite advanced now creating flowcharts from compiled code but I no longer have the time to play with software at this level.

    The worst offender in the area of proprietary code is Micro$oft who seems to make major changes purely for the sake of change so they can sell new versions of their products. I used to use M$ word for the Mac in 1988 but there is no support for those document formats in more recent versions of word. The 1988 version of word was completely adequate for the word processing that I do and the software bloat that has occurred since then is unbelievable. I’ve given up on the M$ platform once they dropped support for visual basic which is totally incompatible with VB.NET. If I’m going to program in an interpreted language, I might as well use Java.

    The idea that one can charge a huge amount of money for common software is anachronistic. The cost of the hardware has dropped dramatically over the last 20 years and to get the computational capacity I have on the machine I’m writing this on would have cost over $1 million 20 years ago. Paying several hundred dollars for a word processor to run on the current run of the mill supercomputer is simply ludicrous. What sells now is custom software or novel applications. I’ll be buying the DPlot program as it’s exactly what I need now and the cost of my time to duplicate it would be far more than the purchase price. For word processing I use Open Office as I know that my documents will still be readable in 20 years time unlike old word documents which can only be opened now with Word Perfect.

  93. johanna says:

    Mr Kallal

    I never said CDs cost 20c to manufacture, it was $2.00 (only a tenfold error on your part, no probs!)

    I never tried to justify seizure of private property because things are expensive, nor would I. My comments actually illustrate what happens when markets are artificially distorted.

    Let’s just say we are, er, in parallel rather than meeting in this discussion.

  94. John Kehr says:

    Dia installed fine from the Synaptic package manager. Nice software. Thanks for the tip about this. My artistic skills being what they are…. I need all the help I can get. :-)

  95. Jockdownsouth says:

    Bjorn Dec 15th 11:44 -
    “I have used Linux exclusively for two years now.
    Ubuntu is my choice, it is brilliant.”

    I asked my techie son what he thought of Ubuntu and was so proud when I read his response that I’m copying it here -
    “It’s a Linux distribution which is based upon Debian (which is the main Linux distribution which I use and contribute to). As a result, a very small percentage of Ubuntu is my work. It aims to build upon Debian by being more beginner-friendly – which it succeeds at doing – but at the same time it doesn’t have such tight quality control as Debian does.”

    Looks like I’ll be trying Ubuntu then!

  96. Magnus says:

    Nice post! I hadn’t heard of this software before. But I do make it a rule to always do a websearch for free software, i.e. open source alternatives, when I need something, and almost always find something that will do the job. Sure, a professional working with it every day will often want the best commercial solution and then it makes sense to invest some cash in order to be optimaly efficient and save time, but if it’s just occational use the free alternative is often good enough.

  97. Paul Rafter says:

    Albert, I am sorry I really have to disagree with you. Everyone has the choice of whether they use opensource or not and yes many of the paid software products are superior but I think you miss the point. You see open source technology is the backbone of the world, from running websites or allowing you to process your credit card at the gas/petrol station. I feel your angle that it’s “anti-west” and “anti-business” is totally flawed. Please look into successful projects like Magento, Drupal and WordPress, explain why IP rights are being jeopardised here? Also something as menial as Apache on linux, which to my knowledge is free and powers no doubt a lot of servers for business purposes; how is this “anti-business” when it powers a business? Open source tech is successful because a lot of it is very good, good enough to power the likes of things like Facebook.

  98. Loodt Pretorius says:

    Hi Anthony,

    I am surprised that you did not mention Google SketchUp.

    I used to do some work in Cadd programmes, Microstation and AutoCadd, but found the learning curve to become a really good user just too steep. However, Google SketchUp is just fantastic for those that need some drafting, flowsheet modelling, and general CADD capabilities.

    I found Visio just too limited for general engineering illustrations. It may suit the software and IT departments, but try and model a big plant, process flowsheet or anything remotely complicated, and you will soon realise the limitations of the programme.

  99. Loodt Pretorius says:

    Albert D. Kallal,

    I find your comments on the protection of property rights very funny.

    Have you ever read about the trouble Charles Dickens had in any getting money from the USA market? Copyright and protection of his work in the USA was a running battle throughout his working career.

    Do you think that the letters of the alphabet should be subject to copyright protection? So every time somebody types an ‘a’ a few dollars should drop in the pockets of the mediaeval monk that scripted the first shape of the lower case a?

    Do you think that the use of upper case and lower case, an English invention by the way, should be subject to copyright?

    Do you think that driving on the right hand side of the road, which is wrong and dangerous and practised by those who had the misfortune of being beaten into submission by the Sardinian Napoleon Bonaparte, and perpetuated by Henry Ford, should be protected by copyright and that every American should cough into the coffers of Henry Ford’s descendants?

    All I can say is that thank goodness we had the alphabet in use before the USA, and Microsoft, could lay claim and copyright to it!

  100. Ian H says:

    @Albert

    You seem to have freedom confused with the capacity to get money out of other people by controlling things.

  101. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From Albert Kallal on December 16, 2010 at 3:01 am:

    BTW you can purchase a home edition 3 license family pack of office 2010 with word + execl + PowerPoint for $124.

    In fact, even when not at sale, that above package goes for $150, and that is for 3 legal activations of word + excel + power point etc.

    Ha. As seen in the graphic accompanying the illustration:

    Not for use in any commercial, nonprofit, or revenue generating activities, or by any government organization.

    Thus under the terms of the licensing agreement, this “Home and Student” version cannot be used for school fundraising.

    So before there can be bake sales and similar events to raise funds to help the needy, or even just collect donations, someone has to cough up the dough for the Home and Business version, $279.99 list, on sale $199.99, good for just two installations, a primary and a portable PC. Likewise if a school club wants to sell candy for a field trip. And Heaven help a single parent who tries to use “Home and Student” while selling some things on eBay to afford some good things for their kid(s). Off to the stockade!

    Or they could just get Open Office…

  102. Mark Thomas says:

    Brilliant! Thanks for the tip, I was about to buy Visio too.

  103. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    Re: previous post

    “…graphic accompanying the listing…”
    “…wording accompanying the illustration…”

    It’s “Pick your preferred correction” day!

  104. Mike Haseler says:

    kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    Or they could just get Open Office…

    There are two types of PC people … those with more money than sense (at least in the short term because people like that either get more sense or loose all their money) … and those with open office.

    But seriously, I used micro$oft for years and whilst I would not say Open office is not a pain to work with some times, it is no less of a pain than micro$oft but at least you are not paying through the nose for all the hassle you get from software like micro$oft.

    About the biggest problem I had on openoffice writer was trying to format a page … I spent ages looking for it where micro$oft had it … and then I remembered that I had spent ages trying to find it on micro$oft because for some odd reason it was under edit, and not format (like openoffice) where it ought to be.

    Once you unlearn the bad habits picked up from micro$oft, it is a breeze to use!

  105. DesertYote says:

    Albert Kallal
    December 15, 2010 at 7:17 pm
    #

    You don’t know what you are talking about. Right wing socialism is still socialism and evil to the core. Software as a business model generally requires Power of State to be valid. Once Power of State has been gained, monopolization follows. MS puts out crappy software because it is in there interest to do so. That is why they are finally releasing a product that was state of the are in the 80s, and is still crappy.

    Just because some OSS advocates spew Marxist non-sense, does not make OSS anti-capitalist. Most of these noisemakers are kids who have been brainwashed by their Marxist college profs, or over the hill hasbeens. MS also has their agent-provocateurs, on the blogs, that work to make the OSS community look loony in order to scare off businesses who might want to take advantage of OSS. Most of the real drivers of OSS have no problem with capitalism. Take a look at Eclipse if you need a real working example.

    Just because an organization exist to make money, does not make it capitalistic. MS is as socialist as it gets. If we had a real free-market for software, Adobe would be marketing and making money off of “Photoshop” for Linux, but they aren’t and the excuses they give for not doing so are lame. Since when does a free business decide to not make money? BTW, I love the GIMP, but I would be willing to pay for Adobe. Adobe markets some of the few products that actually work as a business.

    Just t’ let you know, as some readers of WUWT might attest, I am a obnoxiously rabid anti-socialist, and a radical free-market zelot. I have also been writing software since 1975.

  106. DesertYote says:

    Albert Kallal
    December 15, 2010 at 7:17 pm
    ###

    Hmmm, thought I recognized your name. I ran across it yesterday morning on Stackoverflow while researching the best way to identify the animation of a notify Icon in C#. Talk about synchronicity!

    I really and truly hate to admit it, but I rather enjoy programming in C#, but considering the people who were hired by MS to create it, I should not be surprised.

  107. Mike McMillan says:

    Great thread. Let me jump in on Albert Kallal’s side, sort of.

    I can see some of his argument. Under communism, private property is forbidden, so there are no intellectual property rights. The government owns everything (for the benefit of the proletariat, of course). Fascism is similar, but ownership is left in private hands. The fascist government just controls what you do with your private property. Not that I’m making any comparison with the current administration.

    When you do a job for our government, it tries (if you let it) to assert ownership of not only the results, but also the source code, your development software suite, your computer, and your first born. Take a look at the license that Microsoft makes the government agree to. Bill Gates has learned from experience.

    When a bunch of nerds put together a piece of software, they can either market it for money or go freebie for glory. It’s their intellectual property, it’s their choice. It shouldn’t be anyone else’s choice, not yours, not mine, not the government’s.

    When someone calls the music industry “greedy” for charging more than cost for a cd, that’s trying to tell someone else what to do with their property. Americans have died to protect our right to do that, and to protect our right to ignore such calls. They didn’t die to protect the government’s right to enforce such calls.

    No company likes competition, and freeware is competition for Microsoft, but that’s the environment it chooses to price it’s products in. If we don’t like the price or license restrictions, we can go somewhere else. If we don’t like elsewhere’s software, we can go back to Microsoft. What we should not do is violate the license we agreed to.

  108. Ric Werme says:

    Brett_McS says:
    December 15, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    I use Python with the numpy/scipy/pylab modules for numerical analysis and plotting. All free and open source. Fantastic quality software. Python is the best computer language evah!

    There is a fellow in the New Hampshire Python SIG who does automotive radar processing with that combination, and I’ve seen other references to it too. Really a very good combination. Number crunching in an interpretive language – who’da thunk it?

    As for Python in general, http://www.xkcd.com/353/ is the best summary.

    NASA GISS uses Python too, so they aren’t all bad.

    BTW, the WUWT summaries at http://home.comcast.net/~ewerme/wuwt/index.html are generated nightly via Python (hooked into MySQL).

  109. SJWhiteley says:

    While not getting into the ‘Check out this cool thing I like!’ commentary, I’m a Visio user (just upgraded for $230), and don’t deny there is a lot of reasonable share/free/open source stuff out there, unfortunately there’s far too much dross to wade through to find it. Direct dollar cost isn’t the only measure of cost.

    The old adage, ‘you get what you pay for’ still applies. I’ve used Dia, and while it’s an OK application, it doesn’t fit my requirements and demands of a drawing package. I find it frustrating to use – a cost I’m not prepared to pay.

    Everybody has a ‘good enough’ scale for any given application.

  110. juanslayton says:

    Kallal et al:
    One test of good law is that most people comply with it. If a particular law is ignored by just about everybody, then there is something wrong with the law. So what are we to make of the fact that the current state of affairs is making liars out of all of us. I refer to end user agreements that are introduced by such things as this (from downloading instructions for Adobe Flash 10.1…):

    By clicking the Download Now button, you acknowledge you have read and agree to the Software Licensing Agreement

    The ‘agreement’ consists of 8 pages of legal mumbo-jumbo. I think it will be no great exaggeration to say that nobodyactually reads these things. We generally just lie.

    Law that encourages such behavior is bad law, whatever political philosophy you advocate.

  111. Tom in South Jersey says:

    Pretty cool. At first I thought you were going to find Visio bundled on the laptop with a cost less than the program alone.

  112. Ian H says:

    @Mike McMillan

    I was with you until you said

    When someone calls the music industry “greedy” for charging more than cost for a cd, that’s trying to tell someone else what to do with their property.

    I could almost agree with that, with the proviso of course that freedom means that I have a perfect right to say when other people are being greedy. However your use of that word`property’ completely spoiled it for me.

    Calling copyright `property’ attempts to force the conclusion that it should be treated entirely equivalently to ownership of material things. But copyright isn’t like a material thing. Calling it `property’ doesn’t make it so and really is just an attempt to foreclose and hide an entire argument about how your rights and my rights should be balanced against each other.

    Copyright is a monopoly backed by the power of the state which gives the power to force other people NOT to do something. It supposedly lets you reach through the walls of my house and tell me what I can and cannot do with my computer. While you as copyright owner might enjoy having the state give you this power to control what I do, granting you this power negatively impacts on MY freedom.

    Copyright and other so called intellectual property rights involve trading off my freedom to do what I want in my own house with my own stuff against your supposed right to make a buck with your state imposed monopoly. Simply calling copyright `property’ lets you avoid even discussing where the balance between my freedom and your desire to make a buck should be drawn.

  113. Brian H says:

    Sort of pro-Albert comment: if you assume that the government is the source of rights (property being a crucial one), and/or that it can demand sweeping surrender of your IP as a condition for doing business with it, you are on a greased, not just slippery, slope.

    It should not only be possible to survive writing software (e.g.) but to get wealthy from it, IF you have something people want to buy. Here’s von Mises:

    “If one rejects laissez faire on account of man’s fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action.”
    “Manufacturing and commercial monopolies owe their origin not to a tendency imminent in a capitalist economy but to governmental interventionist policy directed against free trade and laissez faire.” Ludwig von Mises – Austrian Economist 1881 – 1973

    I.e., IMO, governments are the primo tools for control and exploitation, and only by government playing favorites do monopolies arise and survive.

    Anyhoooo… here’s a sample of the right way to make money from software: the $35 ClipMate (clipmate.com) package. It “grabs” every ctrl-C copy you make, and allows detailed control of it afterwards, saving in temp or perm collections, editing, searching. I have archives going back years, which are vastly more convenient than trying to retro-search something I vaguely recall seeing and copying once upon a time, etc. You’ll wonder how you ever lived without it!

  114. johanna says:

    When someone calls the music industry “greedy” for charging more than cost for a cd, that’s trying to tell someone else what to do with their property. Americans have died to protect our right to do that, and to protect our right to ignore such calls. They didn’t die to protect the government’s right to enforce such calls.

    ——————————————————————————

    I made the comment that the recorded music industry is in trouble because it got greedy when CDs were introduced. I have never disputed their right to do so, just their right to criminalise people who did what consumers have always done, ie refuse to pay monopolistic rip off prices, and find other ways to obtain their music.

    What my friends and I did was to buy one CD and copy it privately multiple times among friends. This was illegal, but would not have happened on that scale if we did not all know we were being robbed to purchase an inferior product. As I said earlier, in the days of vinyl people taped records but still bought the original quite happily because it was a superior product at a reasonable price.

    Copyright has been debased into monopoly rights which are sanctioned for decades.

    In the case of software, I agree with PP who says that once he has bought it, it is his and he can modify it if he wishes. It is perfectly legal to modify a car, or cross things out in a book, so what’s so different about software?

    As for the PP who commented on the inability (legally) of a school to use the domestic version of software for fundraising, it’s Catch 22 – they would need to fundraise to pay for the commercial version!

  115. Bernd Felsche says:

    A couple of notes:
    1. Not all of Microsoft Excel’s bugs are supported in Star-/Open-/Libre-Office.

    2. If you’re not quite ready to stop using Windows on your computer but would like to graze on the other side of the fence, you can install the KDE desktop environment on Windows, along with a range of applications.

  116. Albert Kallal says:

    First of all you can do what you want with that software once you purchased it and that includes even modifying it. However, that still may be breaking part of the agreement you supposed agreed to when you purchased the software. You can purchase a Ford, but the alternator from GM will not work on that car.

    And you are free to take apart and modify that car, but once you do so, you likely to void the warranty if you break the terms of the agreement that you purchased the car under.

    It really comes down to the agreement and terms you accept. You can modify the car, but you STILL DO NOT own the IP and patients and technology systems in the car.

    I mean, Poor James Watts inventor of the steam engine REALLY needed a simple crankshaft to convert reciprocating motion into circular motion. Unfortunately some bloke had the patient on the simple crankshaft, so either he pay, or simply came up with his own design. He chose his own design:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_and_planet_gear

    No one here is stating that we want a rotten system but because you don’t like that fact that 7-11 charges 1$ for a can of pop where the same can be had at Wal Mart (china mart) for 30 cents., This is not some big crime. As I pointed out people WILLING purchase billions of Coke Cola each year.

    In fact, when you purchase a PC, you paying about $40 for the os, and that will last you a good 5+ years. I mean, I cannot even make a service call for the photo copier for $40. Software is a great deal and that is why people so willing purchase billions of dollars of the stuff. This is not some big crime. People want this stuff and purchase billions of it every year.

    As I pointed out, the 3 pack office at $124 is rather great bargain. Just counting ONLY 3 programs out of that office pack over the 3 legal computers you get means you are paying $13 for word, and another $13 for excel. That is an amazing amount of technology for such a cheap price (it in the price range of going to a movie). That is just oh so cheap and people years ago paid $600 for word perfect and the spell checker was a add in!

    The consumer is free to make this choice. And the same goes for pulling out some gunk of the ground at $3 per barrel and selling it at $80 as is done with oil. However, because some one has done something they don’t like about the system does not mean we throw out the whole system of ownership and become an advocate for wealth redistribution or loss or property rights. One bad cop does not mean we get right of the legal system!

    And, let’s not even start about how galactic stupid it was to allow banks to invest saving into speculative markets (they need to be highly regulated and what we have now pretty much represents institutionalized foxes living in the chicken coop )

    There is no question that physical things are different then intellectual property rights, it would be unfair to say they are exactly the same thing and that’s not being claimed here. However the whole issue of patent rights and giving those rights to individuals is in fact a great privilege that are society has long fought for.

    In regards to a book, sure you can cross out pages, and mark it anyway you want with a pen. You are also free to sell that book to someone else if you please. However, what you cannot do is reproduce the book and reap the benefits of IP that the author original created. So, there is big difference here between marking the book with a pen, or marking up your CD with a felt pen that you purchased with software on it.

    You can even for the most part open up ANY computer program with a HEX editor and modify the code. You can much do that (despite what the agreements might say or breaking some seals on the new car you just purchased). However, what you CAN NOT do is then sell that change as YOUR IP right since it based on previous works that may not have been granted to you.

    So, no you cannot do what you want with the IP content of the book. You are most free to toss the book into your fireplace. (assuming the fireplace has not been banned by the local co2 police). However without you being granted IP rights, you cannot sell that IP content as your own.

    So, while there is an issue of semantics in terms of physical vs that of non physical and they are different, at a very fundamental level they are the same. And the ramifications for world trade and a whole bunch of issues will result as nations give up these kinds of rights.

    This western concept of rewarding people and allowing them to retain IP rights is a great thing of the west, and is simply one of the great pillars of western society. This is a good thing, and it much the same as granting the ownership of private property to people. In any society where these rights are taken away (or like parts of Europe where they simply signed away so many rights to the EU), then the society suffers for this choice.

    As pointed out by Lord Monckton, darn near the WHOLE CAGW fight was about rights of nations and these scammers attempting to take those rights away from YOU.

    So, I just pointing out that while community work is not necessary socialism, nor is open source software bad, the issue is much that the Open source community IS IN FACT asking you to forego and give up your IP rights. I have no problem with people freely doing this, but WHEN it becomes a demand of governments or people, then it has become the SAME kind of demand that wealth and rights are to be forbidden, and those wealth and rights are to be redistributed to the rest of society without the owner being reimbursed.

    This is really no difference than taking your hard earned wealth which is your property, and giving it to someone else. We might agree that some taxation is good, at the end of the day it’s forced taking a way of your resources and giving it to someone else.

    Without ownership of things, you can never have true freedom and control of your own destiny. It what the founding fathers of the US fought for when they created that great nation.

    And by the way speaking of some really great software, I’m using the windows 7 built in voice dictation system to write this amazing long post. Thus I am sitting here dictating this post, while sipping on a coffee, and barely for the most part using the keyboard.

    Albert D. Kallal
    Edmonton, Alberta Canada

  117. Paddy says:

    A good replacement for MS Office and OpenOffice is IBM’s Lotus Symphony. It is closer to MS Office in most respects (such as menus) and is getting better with each release.

    Worth a shot: http://symphony.lotus.com/software/lotus/symphony/home.nsf/home

    Great thread for thrifty types, Anthony, thanks!

  118. xyzlatin says:

    Albert D. Kallal,
    I agree with the basic premise of what you say on ownership. However, muddying the water is the problem of companies growing so big they have the capacity to knock out or buy out competitors. I believe that the US Govt did try to curb Micros*ft using the monopoly rules but MS beat the rap as it were. The problem is the same with the licencing of the genes and growing foodstuffs etc with large companies saying that they own produce which has their gene in it. I think there is a problem of growing your own pigs (the real ones) in the EU on this.
    So what you say re ownership does and should apply, until companies get really big and then society needs to rein them in.
    Rules of society need to be flexible, and we need to see the grey as well as the black and white.
    The EU has got big and it is creating its own monopoly. I believe that the AGW is being pushed by the EU as part of this.
    With regards to free software, it puzzles me as to why anything is free, if people have to make a living. Are the developers on some sort of grant? Are they moonlighting from well paid University jobs? How come all this stuff is free?
    And if it is freely offered to everyone as free, then I dont think people should be lectured who choose to avail themselves of the free offers.

  119. Albert Kallal says:

    @xyzlatin wrote/ask:
    Are the developers on some sort of grant? Are they moonlighting from well paid University jobs? How come all this stuff is free?
    And if it is freely offered to everyone as free, then I dont think people should be lectured who choose to avail themselves of the free offers.
    =====

    Well, actually as I mentioned, there are some companies that benefit from supporting free trade (so they can import cheap goods from other places – corporate profits are at RECORD levels last qtr, yet no jobs are appearing and the middle class sector and manufacturing been all but destroyed here as a result. Imagine that, record profits and no jobs here!).

    As I noted, Las Vegas loves cheap air line flights because it helps their core business of gambling. In the IT industry companies like IBM and SUN don’t make money from software and in fact seek to make software as cheap as possible for their own goals. This makes software cheaper and also the labor and cost cheaper. And this system allows them to sell hardware systems like servers and point of sale systems that they make great money with by leasing that equipment. Even the smart phone companies that are making buckets of money are now often using open source to save a few dollars on the phone that they don’t have to give to any developer anymore. I mean why give a million to a software company when the CEO can have it for a bonus?

    So if your in the Las Vegas hotel business, you going to promote and support discount air lines and do everything you can to keep the cost of air fares down. In the case of IBM and other vendors in the software industry, they pump lots of money into open source because it lowers the cost of software and means they don’t have to pay royalties to use that software. And more important is also reduces the revenues and ability of their competitors like Microsoft to make money on their core business model that does require IP rights.

    So you do things that help the core bottom line but seek to reduce that value to others. (it quite much called business these days!).

    Open office was never a free product until sun purchased the product, and then made it free with the intention of destroying Microsoft and Word Perfects source of revenue (I not sure this move should have been even legal by sun and what they did).

    And as noted in Europe many governments are mandating open source so they don’t have to purchase software from the evil USA (so it both a policy of reducing trade and also that of a general anti USA policy).

    So just like hotels in Vegas benefit from cheap air fairs, many companies like IBM or governments benefit greatly by supporting open source. And thus that where a lot of this money and support comes from.

    @wrote:
    1.@>And if it is freely offered to everyone as free, then I dont think people should be lectured who choose to avail themselves of the free offers.

    I am not lecturing those that give freely to the salvation army or support their local food bank. Nor am I lecturing those that use their local food bank to feed their family or those that benefit from open source software.

    However, I am MOST certainly lecturing against the idea that IP rights should not exist and those in the open source movement that advocate abolishment of those IP rights is an serious problem and threat to the software industry. So just like poor countries want to take your our money with AGW and carbon sin taxes, it much the same with wanting to get drugs for free or not having to pay for inventions or software.

    You think China would pay for the Intel processor out the goodness of their hearts if they did not have to? Lets not be silly here.

    And as I noted, when governments start mandating that their only choice is to be open source software then it not only cuts out the part of the industry that lives on IP rights (mostly from the USA), but it is in effect stating that they will only purchase things from those who have no ownership.

    As I noted this is not really any different mandates of purchasing paper and desks and phones from those vendors who are social communities or only using government run institutions or only using some kind of co op without any private ownership.

    The issue here is thus the difference between charity and that of attempting to remove rights of ownership.

    And, my sorry for the red underline text, I messed up the HTML tag for the link to James Watts. (and I still think poor James Watt NOT being able to use a simple crank shaft is a great example of IP rights in action). Now yes, there also some bad examples of IP rights also, but a bad cop does not mean we throw out the legal system.

    Albert D. Kallal
    Edmonton, Alberta Canada

  120. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From Albert Kallal on December 16, 2010 at 7:31 pm (pieces not necessarily taken in order of appearance):

    First of all you can do what you want with that software once you purchased it and that includes even modifying it. However, that still may be breaking part of the agreement you supposed agreed to when you purchased the software. (…)

    You can even for the most part open up ANY computer program with a HEX editor and modify the code. You can much do that (despite what the agreements might say or breaking some seals on the new car you just purchased).

    Normally, nope. Note the standard boilerplate term of proprietary EULA’s, as I found in the MS XP Home one:

    4. LIMITATIONS ON REVERSE ENGINEERING, DECOMPILATION, AND DISASSEMBLY. You may not reverse engineer, decompile, or disassemble the Software, except and only to the extent that such activity is expressly permitted by applicable law notwithstanding this limitation.

    You are not allowed to know what is in the program, thus you are not allowed the knowledge to modify it. It’s a black box, you can use it and that’s all. By your car analogy, this is like looking under the hood and finding a completely sealed off compartment, with some openings for adding fluids and that’s it. All over the vehicle, you find nothing identifiable as part of the powertrain, it’s all sealed away. You can drive the vehicle, add fuel and fluids, anything else gets done at the dealership under direction of the manufacturer.

    Plus, there’s that “no reverse engineering” clause. You are not allowed to examine the car as a black box. To note that it takes in fuel and air, yields heat and exhaust gases, and provides motive power as the controls are manipulated a certain way, may be enough to violate the agreement. What really clinches it is if you design a vehicle that takes in fuel and air, yields heat and exhaust gases, and provides motive power as the controls are manipulated in a similar way (brake and accelerator pedals, forward/reverse control, etc). Can’t do that.

    As far as “breaking part of the agreement,” you agreed to the terms. The EULA specifies how you, the user, will respect the intellectual property rights of the owner of the software, who has agreed to license the use of the software by you by the terms that you have agreed to. For someone making such loud noises about respecting intellectual property rights, you have expressed a somewhat cavalier attitude about disrespecting them for certain purposes.

    And you are free to take apart and modify that car, but once you do so, you likely to void the warranty if you break the terms of the agreement that you purchased the car under.

    Which brings up this from the EULA:

    14. TERMINATION. Without prejudice to any other rights, Microsoft may terminate this EULA if you fail to comply with the terms and conditions of this EULA. In such event, you must destroy all copies of the Software and all of its component parts.

    You’re not just breaking the warranty. If the manufacturer finds out you have not agreed to the terms of the agreement, you must promptly absolutely destroy the vehicle, in a manner that leaves nothing of value for you or anyone else. Basically, if the manufacturer tells you so, you have to go forth and completely incinerate the car. Whatever damages result, from EPA complaints to criminal charges for arson, are your responsibility. And you ain’t getting any money back from the dealership either.

    Your car-to-software analogy… is not that great. The terms for use of proprietary software are far more restrictive than that of cars, even more than that for leased cars.

    I mean, Poor James Watts inventor of the steam engine REALLY needed a simple crankshaft to convert reciprocating motion into circular motion. Unfortunately some bloke had the patient on the simple crankshaft, so either he pay, or simply came up with his own design. He chose his own design:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_and_planet_gear

    And at that link, it is quickly revealed it was really the design of William Murdoch, an employee of Boulton and Watt. From the link I supplied:

    It is almost certain that Murdoch’s contract of employment, in common with those for other employees of Boulton and Watt, specified that anything he invented would be the intellectual property of his employers, and frequently it was they who filed, and benefited from, patents on these inventions.

    This is still a common problem with intellectual property rights. Even when not explicitly stated in the employment agreement, creative work of an employee can still be claimed as the intellectual property of the employer. It can be very difficult for a creator to document how all work was done when not on company time to the satisfaction of a court, and it would be normal human behavior to think about what was being created while on the job.

    Free software can be a creative release for software developers. The creation is done, others can enjoy it, and because the developer is getting no financial benefit their employer has less to complain about.

    You can purchase a Ford, but the alternator from GM will not work on that car.

    Actually that could technically be done, just takes some metal fabrication and electrical skills. Indeed, by the models I’ve owned, the Fords have external voltage regulators while the GM alternators have internal regulators, thus the wiring would be simpler with a GM alternator.

    Then there were the AMC vehicles, infamous among rebuilders for AMC’s tendency to use whatever parts they could get from the “Big Three” for the cheapest price, even switching suppliers midway through a model year…

    Without ownership of things, you can never have true freedom and control of your own destiny. It what the founding fathers of the US fought for when they created that great nation.

    “Ownership” is becoming a nebulous thing, a definition rather than a reality. It is a privilege granted by the state, not a right, as the state can specify what they will allow to be owned. The state may force one to give up ownership without compensation, as they have done with firearms, with vehicles that they have considered to be abandoned, as would-be airplane passengers have discovered when going through screening. Home ownership is a myth, as the state can demand how much in property taxes must be paid for the “owner” to retain possession. That’s not ownership, that’s leasing.

    Does that still sound like what the Founding Fathers fought for?

  121. SJWhiteley says:

    Good Grief!

    The ‘Software Should Be free’ argument pops up on the innernet. Never seen that before.

  122. Albert Kallal says:

    @ kadaka

    Well as noted in the EUlA the limitations and statements are simply to make clear that they own and protect their IP rights as far as the law will permit them.

    And, there is no law that says you can’t look at that code. And since that code is not encrypted there no intent of you not being able to see the code. They are simply stating they are going to protect their IP rights as far as the law will permit them. It really a moot statement on their part.

    In the case of the car, it is a physical object. So, you are free to look at the car or book or software as you please. The dissemble is a red herring since you only going to be doing that in you fact wish to copy and use the IP rights for some other purpose as to which you not been granted rights.

    In fact to use the software you MUST load the software into YOUR computer in a format that the machine CAN READ AND USE. So to use the software it is implied that the code will be loaded into a format useable by you on your computer! You can look at the software or the car as you please (and in fact you have to load and run and use the software to use it).

    However, you cannot reproduce or use the IP rights and technologies in that car without permission of the people that own the IP rights on that car. It is a statement of protection of IP rights. Those software IP rights are NOT really different then the IP rights of the car. You can freely tear up the software CD or mutilate it just like the car. And running of the software is you observing that software anyway.

    We taking about PROTECTING IP rights here. Those non physical IP rights for your car are also retained by the manufacture but they don’t need to protect the IP rights in the same way because TO USE THOSE rights you HAVE to build a car so they DO NOT ASK FOR THE SAME restrictions that a software company will BECAUSE THEY DO NOT NEED TO do so to protect their IP rights

    To stand here and tell me that the intellectual property rights of book publishing or software industry asks for more restrictions to protect their intellectual property rights then physical manufactured objects is about the Intellectual equivalent of you telling me that you just discovered and realized that the sky is blue.

    Of course the restrictions have to be greater, because if they’re not greater than it amounts to no protection at all. In other words you’re standing here complaining and telling me they are asking for far greater restrictions with software than the car, but then you’re completely ignoring that with technology you can circumvent and take advantage of those property rights with great ease without reimbursing the owners of that technology.

    You basically stating to me, the fact that you can steal something with great ease, means that you should be able to do so or in fact we should apply the same laws in automobiles to that of software . In fact they are not the same thing, and therefore that’s exactly why we don’t apply the same concepts and laws here.

    Next are you going to tell me that the safety regulations applied to an aircraft engines should also be applied to your weed eater motor? We don’t have to apply the same safety standards and regulations that the aircraft industry applies to aircraft engines as compared to your weed eater motor because the consequences of such are NOT EQUIVALENT.

    It is without question you have to ask for more restrictions in the terms of software or book publishing then you have to then with your car because if you don’t have those ADDITIONAL restrictions then you are NOT protecting the property rights at all. These additional restrictions are required EXACTLY like additional regulations are required for aircraft engines compared to your weed eater motor because they are different.

    These additional restrictions are due to the nature the products. To stand here and complain and tell me that they are different products and have different restrictions, but then ignore one as a physical product and the other is not a physical product is simply patently unfair (pun intended).

    So if you’re telling me the restrictions in software for more draconian, then yes you’re absolutely correct. However without those far more draconian restrictions, you don’t have any protection of the property rights at all if you don’t do this!

    As I stated, if those intellectual property rights in an automobile could be utilized by consumers with simple stroke of their pen, then I guarantee there would be protections in that regards also.

    So the reason why the restrictions to what you’re being asked as a consumer are different between the two different products, because in one case the auto industry doesn’t need the same restrictions to protect their intellectual property rights, and you can’t utilize them with great ease. I did not think this observation needed to be pointed out, but I am now realizing that this is an issue that few have realized.

    Albert D. Kallal
    Edmonton, Alberta Canada

  123. Mike McMillan says:

    Albert Kallal says: December 16, 2010 at 7:31 pm
    . . . And by the way speaking of some really great software, I’m using the windows 7 built in voice dictation system to write this amazing long post. Thus I am sitting here dictating this post, while sipping on a coffee, and barely for the most part using the keyboard.

    Yeah, and I see the really great software forgot to insert the close-link html tag. ;-)
    (glad I’ve never done that)

    Intellectual property rights in America were decided by the founding fathers when they gave Congress the power to establish patents and copyrights in Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. They thought it was important, and I can’t argue.

  124. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From Albert Kallal on December 16, 2010 at 7:31 pm:

    And by the way speaking of some really great software, I’m using the windows 7 built in voice dictation system to write this amazing long post. Thus I am sitting here dictating this post, while sipping on a coffee, and barely for the most part using the keyboard.

    As amply demonstrated with your December 17, 2010 at 7:11 am post, using such software may lead to long-winded rambling diatribes of little notable substance. Amazingly long posts, indeed. As previous writers preferred pen and paper over typewriters for they yielded more thoughtful and concise prose, so shall I stay with the keyboard rather than use such voice diction software. Yields less mistakes as well, apparently.

    Your car-to-software analogy is bad. Get over it.

    From your December 17, 2010 at 7:11 am post:

    And, there is no law that says you can’t look at that code. And since that code is not encrypted there no intent of you not being able to see the code. (…)

    In fact to use the software you MUST load the software into YOUR computer in a format that the machine CAN READ AND USE. So to use the software it is implied that the code will be loaded into a format useable by you on your computer! You can look at the software or the car as you please (and in fact you have to load and run and use the software to use it).

    Heh. You use Windoze and similar proprietary software in a non-human-readable form, like compiled binaries which could be machine code or perhaps bytecode. Sure, the machine can use that. You can look at that code with an editor, admire the pretty hexadecimal characters. But as it is not human-readable, it is, for all intents and purposes, encrypted.

    If you attempt to make sense of the code, by decompiling or even just disassembilng, you have violated the EULA.

    And yes, there is intent of keeping you from seeing the code. Not only do they keep you from seeing it in a human-understandable form by not allowing access to the source code, they work to prevent you from being able to convert it into one. This is done by the use of obfuscated code. Then there is what the latest versions of Windoze are notorious for, keeping their code hid away. There are hidden directories, hidden files, data hidden on the hard drive in a way that Windoze itself will refuse to alter or remove it, will prevent other programs from removing it, when you can get it to tell you the data is there at all… Getting at the code may require booting from another operating system. Those files may also be encrypted, contrary to what you said.

    And with Windoze 7, it gets even worse. As mentioned here and elsewhere, Win 7 creates a “special” partition by default, in a non-standard fashion that makes it practically impossible to remove. If you would like to use that hard drive for something else, you may find that it is now permanently screwed up, a complete reformatting might not save it. How many people installing Win 7 realize the may be irrevocably sacrificing a hard drive for the OS?

    Which brings us to another reason why people like open source. They can examine the source code and know what the software does. Windoze has already become infamous for “phoning home” and informing M$ about the machine it’s installed on, which can include information about other programs you’re using, and wonderful “tricks” like automatically installing “upgrades,” which have previously royally screwed up some systems, even when the users were certain they had automatic updates turned off.

    Then there is a major issue that basically doomed Vista. The “grand upgrade” to XP turned out to be largely concerned with Digital Rights Management, always inspecting whatever media is accessed on the computer “just in case” it might be pirated, no matter how much system resources it had to hog to do so, checking with M$ to see what had been banned… A notable feature of the “not supported” hardware list was how many devices might be used for unauthorized copying, for which no other rational reason existed for not allowing their use.

    We taking about PROTECTING IP rights here.

    Are we? I’ve been mentioning the benefits of open source and free software, and pointing out the fallacies and other problems with your arguments. I have no problem with respecting intellectual property rights, however I do note how software publishers can go too far in protecting them, even to the detriment of the user.

    If you really are concerned about IP rights, then let’s see what think about the following. Open source also is licensed under certain terms, a major one being that derivative works are also open source. Companies like M$ regularly examine open source code to see if their IP rights are violated. But as M$ and other proprietary software vendors do not release their source code, open source developers cannot examine if their IP rights have been violated by having their code be incorporated into the proprietary product. That puts open source developers at a disadvantage that doesn’t exist with books, cars, anything else.

    How can that be fair? Where’s the level playing field?

  125. PRice says:

    Please reference Stephan Kinsella’s work at
    http://blog.mises.org/author/stephan_kinsella/ to understand that IP is NOT a type of property. It’s just a state-granted monopoly. Governments call it “property” to propagandize it, like so many other subjects.

    Post your pro-IP arguments on any of his blog posts if you want to hash it out with someone who may cause you to think.

    Here’s a sample of Stephan Kinsella’s work found at http://blog.mises.org/9499/there-are-no-good-arguments-for-intellectual-property/

    There are No Good Arguments for Intellectual Property

    There are some decent arguments out there that argue in favor of a state, welfare rights, war, democracy, drug laws, and so on. They are all flawed, since libertarianism is right, but there are coherent, honest arguments that we libertarians have to grapple with.

    But it is striking that there are no decent arguments for IP–as Manuel Lora remarked to me, “You know, I haven’t seen a good pro IP article ever.” This is true. One sees the same incoherent or insincere claims made over and over, such as:

    1. It’s in the constitution (argument from authority; legal positivism)
    2. Intellectual property is called property! (argument by definition?)
    3. No movies would be made and kids would die without medicine (artworks and medicine have been produced for ages without IP law; and where’s the evidence?)
    4. If you “create” something you own it (despite all the exceptions, and despite the fact that creation is neither necessary nor sufficient for ownership; despite the fact that you either limit these rights in scope or time arbitrarily, or you extent them to infinity, choking off rights in real things and forcing life and commerce to a screeching halt)
    5. It generates net wealth–more value than its cost (no evidence, ever, for this contention–just assumptions; not to mention the problem of utilitarian summing of values)
    6. IP infringement is “theft” (even though the owner still has his property and ideas, and even though IP infringement is just learning and emulating)
    7. People “could” create variants of IP via private contracts… therefore artifical patent granting bureaucracies legislated by a criminal state are … justified?)

    There are other arguments, I suppose, but they are so incoherent as to defy description. They often involve crankish initial caps, like Property and Rights, the Internet equivalent of crayons.

    I have truly never seen a coherent, good argument for IP. The advocates are either utilitarian, with all the problems that accompany that (not to mention they never have any evidence for their claims); or the advocate a more “principled”, rights-based type of IP that, if taken seriously, would completely undermine all real property rights and make life on earth impossible, so they retreat from this and impose arbitrary, senseless limits on it. What a kluge.

    In a recent discussion, What’s Wrong With Theft?, one of the IP advocates, when pushed into a corner, ended up arguing that rights to own property include the right to control all “access to” and “interactions with” one’s property–and that “interactions” include observing or knowing about or learning facts about the things owned by someone, and that when you use this knowledge you are “interacting with” the property, and thus “stealing” it (even though the owner still has it). So here we have it: IP means “interaction rights.” Wow. This is how kooky all IP arguments ultimately are.

  126. Albert Kallal says:

    It’s quite interesting to see the arguments of people talking about the abolishment of property rights. There seems to be this big grasping at straws that somehow in our society were going to treat intellectual property rights differently.

    Or land titles or legal agreements. In fact most legal agreements are in a fact an intellectual property right or agreement. (it call law!).

    The fact that we talking about intellectual property rights is really a moot point here.

    It is rather laughable to hear people talk about some state run monopoly, and there’s no good reason for private property rights. The socialists and Karl marx’s around the world were making EXACTLY the same arguments as those people here proposing abolishment of intellectual property rights! Yes sir, there is no good reason to have private property, because it just allows the rich get richer and allows those big land owners to buy even more land.

    In terms of intellectual property rights with respect to book publishing, the concept in the granting of this kind of copyright as a personal work has been around for a considerable amount of time. In the 1960s a machine called Xerox came along and allowed you to press a button to copy those works. This did result in a whole bunch of challenges to intellectual property rights, and even things such as fair use were the result of some of these issues. Prior to that time, you likely needed a big factory, perhaps a big steam power printing press.

    There seems to be an amazing confusion here over the concept of the ease of which you can take something away from somebody, as opposed to that of granting the right.

    You can spend several $1,000,000 designing a new crankshaft for car, or several $1,000,000 designing some new software. In BOTH cases you could have designed and built the product and in both cases you NOT YET built a physical product. At this point in time, even without having built the physical product, you can get a patent for that new type of crankshaft you designed. It is purely an intellectual process up to this point and could be 100% designed on a CAD system. The fact that this IP is going result in something to be manufactured in a physical sense, or reproduced electronic as a book or instruction to other manufactures does not matter and DOES NOT change the fundamental concept in our society that we grant intellectual property rights. That is how our system works.

    And we grant intellectual property rights because we want to build a better society just like we figured out that private ownership of land and businesses and other entities such as IP are to be granted to individuals. It is how one builds a great nation.

    Because of the above, if you’re going to protect some intellectual property rights then when the ability occurs to copy those rights with greater ease, then you’ll have to have some greater restrictions. I mean we have trespassing laws for people’s property, but people doing the trespassing can be perfectly honest without intention to steal something or do any damage or ANY thing wrong.

    However without such laws it becomes difficult if not impossible for people to assert the use of their own property rights, be they your business, your farm, or protecting your family.

    It is rather laughable for the people the stand here and tell me there’s no intellectual reason for private property rights. And that includes that of IP rights! Our whole western society has been built on this for the last 1000+ years. It is only VERY recent we tossed these concepts of private rights and have given them over to our governments .

    The socialists will gladly take away your rights and this ALLOWS them to redistribute wealth or property or your intellectual rights. You don’t think carbon taxing was a means to suck more money from you? And you have to sign away rights to allow this to occur!

    I mean if you don’t assert your family rights, your rights for your city or your state or even your nation, then somebody else going to come along and take advantage of you.

    I had kind of assumed with the whole global warming debate and this connection of the likes of Al Gore promoting socialism here would click. You don’t think Gore at his old game on this issue? Here is a video of Al Gore pushing Free Trade 17 years ago:

    It was the same old garbage back then, the only thing that nipped and stopped this whole global warming fiasco was the great people like our host Watts here and the fact that the Internet came along at exactly the right time. Without the Internet, your bunch of people and sheep, or is my term I like to say sheeple.

    By the way folks, how are those rounds of government stimulus package is going? All they result in is a boat load of money going out to China. We seen stimulus package after package for about the last two administrations. We are seeing RECORD profits and yet virtually NO jobs being created. You think these people are gonna create jobs out of the goodness of your heart unless you don’t force the issue by restricting trade in making deals that they must manufacture here ?

    If a nation does NOT exercise their sovereign rights, and wiling signs away their rights with free trade agreements, then the result is EXACTLY the case we have now. And the same goes for IP rights.

    Large companies are free to move goods, jobs and money out, but not have to build any factories or jobs here! You have to have people over a barrel ELSE THEY WILL NOT play ball.

    In Canada we used to have a provincial law that said if you’re going to sell beer here, you have to build me a brewery., I actually think that was a great law. All of the tax revenues, the accounts, people sweeping the floors, people buying the wheat and barley locally, it was really fantastic. Right now, the way North America is headed, not only are hair Care Products coming from China, we’re probably pretty close to seeing things like beer coming from China.

    Even more tragic and sad, if you look at the thousands of people sleeping in the streets of California without jobs or work, I read an article that the government handout food packages actually included tins of fruit from China! Imagine that, even government handouts of fruit in California is sending money to China! It is a tragedy of galactic proportions. So i was joking about beer from china, but if your hair Care Products and tins of fruit are coming from China, what’s next?

    Do you not have any pride and self worth any more, to control the destiny of your own nation?

    As I stated, you think China would pay for the Intel chip if they did not have to? You give away the rights, they not be purchasing from us anymore. We done that with free trade and we tried this failed experiment for 20 years, and it’s been an absolute disaster .

    Even a change in Government does not (and likely can not) recind so many of these open trade agreements that they have signed. And once again just like intellectual property rights, these are sovereign rights of a nation that you people are signing away. For those of did not look, do view the video of Lord Monckton and how he talks about sovereignty and the nation signing away its rights here:

    There seems to be this idea that it’s something is easier to take away from someone, then it justifies the taking away. I mentioned the trespassing laws, and there’s also things such as people possessing devices to pick locks. They are restricted not because the person is necessarily consider to be a criminal, but if we allow this then we CAN NOT preserve and assert and grant people the means to protect their property rights,. And as I noted this also includes concepts of intellectual property rights.

    In fact what no one has accomplished here is given ANY intellectual reason for removal of private property rights, or that of intellectual property rights (they not made the case for distinguishing these concepts on an intellectual level.

    The only arguments given to remove intellectual property rights also applies equally well to physical property rights, and they’re the same arguments that it been rehashed over and over again.

    I mean, you can feel free to leave the keys in your car and see how long it lasts. On the other hand if everybody’s was given an vehicle that was owned and run and maintained by the government, then I guess we would not need those locks anymore would we? We could even get rid of the car theft laws!

    If we invented a small great lightweight powerful personal helicopter, it might allow you to fly out to any farmers field and steal a cow. As a result, we might have to make some laws that don’t allow people to do low flying over people’s property. It not a great solution, but the end of the day we have to protect those people’s rights .

    As I pointed out, you can disassemble a car, but why? The answer been given here is that because then you want to see how it works. The problem is you still can’t use the intellectual property rights and designs that you witness! You can NOT go and build another car or USE ANY of the designs you witness that had intellectual property rights on them without reimbursing and paying the owers of those rights.

    In the case of software and you disassembling that software, then what is the purpose of doing that? You can’t utilize that design in other works NO MORE then you can take someone else’s book and reproduce that creative work, and thus it not allowed as per agreements.

    At the end of day any society with strong property rights, including intellectual rights, is a society that has more freedoms and is a society that fights socialism .

    Albert D. Kallal
    Edmonton, Alberta Canada

  127. Brian H says:

    It is interesting that composers in the Classical Period, and even later, had no right to the music they wrote, no copyright. They could charge only for attendance at concerts they conducted personally. They had to resort to VERY tight control of all copies of their scores, collecting them from the musicians after each rehearsal and performance, else they would be swiftly duplicated and performed by others. That is why so many depended on noble or royal patronage for their livelihoods; they were salaried employees, or perhaps court pets and ornaments.

    It led to strange results; it is told that after his death JS Bach had so many works stored in his residence that the family used them for wrapping trees etc. Musicologists and music lovers almost cry when they think of all that was lost.

  128. Brian H says:

    P.S. Yes, I know that Bach was late Baroque; I meant to write “up till the Classical Period and even later”. Actually, Beethoven was in the same situation. It wasn’t until the late 19th C that anything much like copyright for music was established.

  129. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From Albert Kallal on December 21, 2010 at 11:44 am :

    As I pointed out, you can disassemble a car, but why? The answer been given here is that because then you want to see how it works. The problem is you still can’t use the intellectual property rights and designs that you witness! You can NOT go and build another car or USE ANY of the designs you witness that had intellectual property rights on them without reimbursing and paying the owers of those rights.

    In the case of software and you disassembling that software, then what is the purpose of doing that? You can’t utilize that design in other works NO MORE then you can take someone else’s book and reproduce that creative work, and thus it not allowed as per agreements.

    Why do car manufacturers take apart competitors’ vehicles? To see if their own intellectual property rights have been violated! If Nissan was caught infringing on a Ford patent, that’d make some noise in the car industry.

    Likewise in the publishing industry, books and other print media are dissected. Music industry, similar.

    But the software industry enjoys a benefit not found elsewhere. While books and cars can be freely dissected and examined, because source code need not be revealed then it is not open for examination of IP rights violations. By allowing software to remain closed source, other publishers and developers are denied the ability to determine if their IP rights are violated.

    And that’s denied, period, absolute. If you had read the linked info in my previous post, you should have noticed how decompiling and disassembling does not reveal the actual source code, just a possible version, with the use of obfuscated code further complicating things. M$ Windoze could be violating the IP rights of hundreds of non-M$ programmers and publishers, yet without a release of their source code such theft remains undetected.

    For equal protection under the law of IP rights, all software should be open source. This does not require the giving up of any IP rights, publishers are still free to use whatever terms they want in their licensing, provided the source code is released so others may determine if their rights have been violated.

    BTW, people still take apart cars to see how they work, for legitimate reasons. It’s part of the learning process in learning how to repair cars. There’s also lots of ideas and designs present that are not under any sort of IP protection that may be used in developing other vehicles. Also, in keeping with the original concept behind patents and their protection, that such designs and concepts are publicly revealed to spur innovation for the public good, knowing what is in use is a primary step in designing something new and better.

    This is not promoting socialism. It is promoting competition, capitalism, by the conferring of IP rights. Of which a main component is the knowing of what is being protected by those IP rights. Without the release of source code, protection is a one-sided affair. Giants like M$ are free to bury potential competition and crush them financially with lawsuits claiming patent infringement, eliminating them before the crucial “put up or shut up” phase where they’d have to reveal the code that they are claiming is being infringed on. Potential competitors do not know what is in closed source code, thus they do not know if software they are developing could be infringing on those IP rights, so all their work could be for naught. Thus many don’t even try.

    Thus allowing closed source stifles innovation and competition, does not allow for equal protection of IP rights under the law, and is ultimately anti-capitalism. All software should be open source.

  130. Brian H says:

    KD;
    persuasive. Administered as you suggest, I’d agree with your conclusion.

  131. Albert Kallal says:

    @ kadaka (KD Knoebel) wrote:

    >For equal protection under the law of IP rights, all software should be open source. This does not require the giving up of any IP rights, publishers are still free to use whatever terms they want in their licensing, provided the source code is released so others may determine if their rights have been violated.

    Oh yes it does!

    That’s the same kind of argument as saying that I can’t put a lock and key and my door to protect by property because you need the right to look to see if I’m a crook and I stole something and I’m harboring stolen property?

    This is the same thing that the government and National Security is proposing on the people of the country. They want the right to walk into your house based on the idea that you might be a terrorist or supposedly your are dishonest person. In other words to see if I’m being dishonest, you’re proposing to take away all my rights.

    So the solution and suggestion you are proposing is to take away all rights of me to have any personal privacy in society. In other words I can’t hide anything in my computer and prevent you from looking at it because you need the right to check if I took something of yours? That pretty much sounds like the communist and socialist society that I been speaking about.

    In fact the whole issue of searches and seizures of individual property rights and you being searched and your personal information being looked at WITHOUT protection is EXACTLY what you’re proposing in terms of you being in to look at my property rights because you want to know if I stole something.

    There’s absolutely no question that you’ll have to live with the fact that I have private property and I might have some stolen goods on the private property, and you don’t have the right to come on to the property until you have good justified reason. And I also have the right to put up fences and walls and locks and keys to prevent you from going on to my property or looking at information that is my property in my computer.

    The solution is not to remove all my rights because you want a look at what I have and assume that I’m a criminal or that I’m using some intellectual properties that I don’t have a right to. Private property HAS NEVER worked this way.

    Only in a totalitarian society WOULD WE ASSUME that everybody needs the right to look at my private property or into my private affairs to see if I’ve done something dishonest or am using someone else’s intellectual rights.

    The reason why we do at the above way, is the need to grant and protect my property rights without you having the right to look at am is a greater need than the downsides of not being able to do so.

    >>But the software industry enjoys a benefit not found elsewhere.

    That’s not so, when you purchase music on your iPod, it’s digitally encrypted and there’s digital rights management on it. That is ridiculous to stand here and tell me that such kind of privacy is only granted to the software industry. This right of general privacy of people’s intellectual property rights such as my personal affairs or accounting is MY intellectual information of mine. You DO NOT have this right to go into my private affairs.

    You can purchase an automobile, but you do not have a right to all of the private information used to create the mobile, be it certain designs of the camshaft, how it was made or even the accounting practices used to create that car, and a whole bunch of other intellectual property rights are not yours for the taking or your right to view and see these things. And there’s a huge good deal of things in that car that you cannot discover by disassembling.

    As noted, the reason why we do things as above, because the reverse means that is not practical nor possible to grant anybody any kind of privacy or intellectual rights to their property. If you have the right to come into my property to look at anything because you think I’m a criminal, then you not granting me any real rights worth keeping and you ALSO making the assumption that I’m dishonest without due process.

    If I have to provide a source code to my software, I have no reasonable means of exercising my intellectual property rights and thus you’re not granting me any rights real rights of ownership worth keeping.

    Albert D. Kallal
    Edmonton, Alberta Canada

  132. David says:

    Maybe mxgraph.com? No login/registration/even any web site. Just straight on the site, draw, export your PNG, save it locally or to your Google Docs account/Dropbox, etc. Done

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