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The record and movie industry has expressed a lot of concern about copyright infringement lately. In the ideal world, these organizations would argue, anything ever made by any of their members would be forever copyrighted. Since they own this information, or ‘intellectual property’, nobody should be allowed to reproduce it without their explicit permission.

I have to say I agree absolutely. Without this form of protection, there would be no culture at all. Copyright is an essential part of society. What does distress me though is the laissez-faire attitude even these organizations have when it comes to enforcing this fundamental right of artists and creators in the world. While RIAA and MPAA have a lot of opinions they do not seem to walk the walk. In particular, there is a special copyright infringement technique through which perpetrators are virtually unhindered to reproduce materials without paying for this privilege. To any reasonable person it must be obvious that this is an unmaintainable situation. If I write a book, a blog entry, create a piece of music, or design a game, I should be allowed to reap the benefits of the hard work I put into these pursuits. If anyone coming into contact with this information product would be allowed to copy, retain and spread my product, they would be depriving me of a basic right to my own work. They would in fact be stealing my work.

In many cases these organizations do protect us artists. They will prosecute thieves of physical goods; they will sue criminals engaging in blatant copyright infringement online and elsewhere. But for some reason which I cannot fathom, they let one of the most commonly used techniques for copyright infringement today go unpunished.

What I am referring to is of course the theft of intellectual property by people with eyesight.

Without any enforcement whatsoever of applicable laws, these individuals are unhindered to make unlimited copies of any material they come across by using the technology of ‘bio copying’ – also known as ‘remembering things’ in layman terms. Even now as you read this, there are less scrupulous people also reading this very blog entry. And as opposed to you, dear reader, these users are at the same time storing the data for later reproduction using extremely sophisticated neural networking technology. At a later time these ‘pirates’, as they are known, will be able to freely reproduce important concepts, ideas or industrial secrets expressed in this entry.

And to my amazement nobody goes after them. “But it’s too hard to suppress this behavior,” it is argued. This statement holds no water with me. We can lock down computers with Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). We can shut down whole companies for producing software or hardware which enable copyright infringement. We can spend millions of tax payer dollars on hunting down illegal information trading. We can even impose economical sanctions on countries with too liberal copyright laws.

Surely this one problem should then be easy to resolve. A small modification of today’s neural networking systems should suffice; perhaps a little chip in the bio copying devices. The chip would prevent access to Stored Intellectual Property – also sloppily referred to as ‘memories’ – without proper authorization and correct dues paid. If that doesn’t work, we can just go after the producers (colloquially called ‘pregnant women’) of this technology. Strict laws, lawsuits and legal enforcement will stem this crime wave at the root.

Support culture – don’t remember illegally.

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Ryan Paul over at Ars Technica wrote a very interesting article today regarding the rumors about whether or not Dell will put Linux on their desktop machines.

We would gladly see more diversification, and less dominance on the PC desktop market, but do we have to sacrifice something from our beloved Linux in order for it to hit the big market? As we all know, the power in Linux lays in the its ability to customize for our needs. But how will this affect the support? In order for a vendor such as Dell to sell a computer, they need to fully be able to support it, both the hardware and the software. Mr. Paul writes that “[f]or Dell to provide cost-effective Linux support for desktop users on a large scale, the company would have to limit its Linux pre-installation to very specific components, limiting user flexibility and ultimately defeating one of the biggest advantages of Linux, which is freedom of choice.”

Mr. Paul points out something very interesting here, that most of us forget since we’re tech-savvy power-users. For us support is most often solved through various online forums (see our article “Support is for old people“). However, for the majority of the PC users, the vendor’s support is where they turn for help.

Gnome, KDE, XFCE, Afterstep…the list of window managers can go on forever, which makes commercial support very expensive. All of these window managers uses their own way to configure things. Even if we just narrow things down to KDE and Gnome, which are the biggest ones, it can still be expensive. Both KDE and Gnome tend to evolve quite rapidly, and different versions behave differently and settings are not necessary located at the same place.

Linux means less support, right? Well, you might argue that “Linux is rock solid” and “things just work.” To some extent this is actually true, once a Linux machine is properly installed (and no new updates are installed), the machine tend to be rock solid. If you take that into the equation, it might actually not be more expensive to support Linux machines, once the initial competence is acquired.

I’d strongly recommend you to read Mr. Paul’s article over at Ars Technica. He brings up some very interesting points that many of us simply never thought of.

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Continuing our series “Building the Base-camp,” we continue with a CRM-system. In a modern corporation a CRM-system is a crucial element to optimizing your business.

There are a couple of Open Source CRM systems available, but we decided to use a software called SugarCRM, which filled our needs just fine. The user-interface of SugarCRM is really appealing, which certainly is a benefit if you’re working with it several hours per day.

SugarCRM offers a variety of features, including an e-mail client, a bug-tracker and of course, a customer database. It’s also available in 40 different languages.

Installing SugarCRM was really easy. On FreeBSD using the ports, the entire installation probably took less then 15 minutes, where most of the time was spent customizing the installation for our needs.

SugarCRM screenshot

Instead of changing memory_limit in php.ini as the installation document states, we made this change to the local .htaccess file in the sugarcrm directory. By doing so, we didn’t need to raise the memory_limit for the entire server to 32Mb, instead we only applied this to SugarCRM.


php_value memory_limit 32M
php_value session.save_path /tmp

/usr/local/etc/apache/httpd.conf or ssl.conf

Alias /sugarcrm /usr/local/www/sugarcrm
<directory /usr/local/www/sugarcrm>
AllowOverride All
Order allow,deny
Allow from all

After changing these files to include the data above, you just surf to http://yourserver/sugarcrm and follow the steps.

For the installation you will need a mysql-account with a database that SugarCRM will be using.

When you’ve finished the installation and try to access SugarCRM, you might receive an error. At least we did. This was caused by the fact that the installation assumed that .htaccess-file was empty, and therefore corrupted the changes we did above. Just go in and edit it by hand, and make sure it all looks proper.

For more screenshots, visit the screen gallery at

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A new startup blog has opened its doors with two smash hits in a row. First they secured interviews with several well known founders of web startups, and then they got Slashdotted on their second blog post. The blog is called Startupping, created by Mark Fletcher.

Since we’re a startup, it’s always good to see new resource collections pop up like this. There is a lot to learn and figure out when starting up a company. After you have checked out all the essential Playing With Wire articles like, Notes about Filing for an LLC, Getting a Business Name and Filing for an EIN, you might as well head on over to Startupping and check out the coolest thing on their site: a startup wiki.

By the way, one of the people they interview is actually Paul Graham who wrote the great 18 mistakes that kills a startup article which we have mentioned before.

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Category: Business

If you haven’t heard about PortableApps yet, you’ve missed out on something cool. PortableApps focuses on modifying popular (mainly open source) softwares to run on USB flash-drives. The benefit of this is that you have all your bookmarks and settings right there, and you don’t have to install the softwares you need on each and every computer you use.

Among the products available, these might be used in business:

I’m not seriously suggesting that everyone run around with a flash-drive with all their data, but rather use their home directory on the server as the installation target for these applications. I’d imagine that this would be very useful in an organization that do not use individual computers, but have many computers that are shared by the people in the organization. By doing so, everyone gets their set of individual applications with settings, cached e-mails and everything accessible without having to spend time configuring the applications for every computer.

Of course there are other approaches to solve this problem, such as roaming profiles with samba or a windows server, and locally installed softwares with profile support. I’m not suggesting that one solution is better than the other, because they both have their benefits and drawbacks.

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