Three Monkeys, Three Typewriters, Two Days

February 15, 2003

Legal conundra

I've been wrestling with an interesting problem. On the one hand, I'd sorta like to take a look at the new inline box model that hyatt's implementing in Safari. On the other hand, if I were to do so, I run the risk of liking some of the ideas.... and maybe not being able to use them in Mozilla's code (worse yet, I may see things that I have or would have thought of myself, and then I really have no idea what would happen). I'd love some clarification of the exact legal issues here.

Summary of what I do know: KHTML is GPL, while Mozilla is MPL/LGPL/GPL tri-licensed; this means that I can't copy code from KHTML to Mozilla (while copying in reverse is perfectly fine). But the question is what the GPL covers. Is it the ideas (algorithms, approaches, etc)? Or the specific presentation of those ideas in source code form? The latter would mean that recoding the same algorithms in a different language is not a GPL violation, for example....

If anyone who actually knows what they're talking about could let me know what the state of things is, that would be much appreciated.

Update: KHTML is LGPL, not GPL, I've been told. Does that affect the answer to my question?

Posted by bzbarsky at 12:23 AM

February 13, 2003

Krull what?

Can someone explain the dimension theory of commutative rings to me in a clear fashion, please?

Posted by bzbarsky at 2:17 AM

February 12, 2003

roc is my hero

I wish more people documented their code like this.

Posted by bzbarsky at 12:08 AM

February 10, 2003

Whence come all the entitled whiners?

I can't tell whether this is a failing of open source software users, people who file Mozilla bugs, or American society in general, but I'm running into more and more people who think that everyone owes them someting:

Scenario 1: Someone files a feature request on an area of code that has so many issues that it needs a total rewrite or close to it instead of new features (helper apps come to mind, as do some parts of layout and anything dealing with view-source). The bug gets five votes from people who think this is the best feature idea since the <img> tag. This is interpreted as a mandate from "The People" that someone should drop everything and fix that bug right now.

Scenario 2: Someone files a bug. 36 hours later they complain about the bug not having gotten looked at. Nevermind that during those 36 hours there were 250 bugs reported (most of them duplicates, just like the bug in question). Clearly the bug should be looked at yesterday.

Scenario 3: Someone files yet another duplicate of a "bug" that has been marked INVALID. This is seen as indication that the bug should obviously be reopened and fixed right this instant.

These examples demonstrate what is, in my mind, the biggest danger to the Mozilla project—the explosion of abusive and bratty bug reporters. This is the major contributor to my current attempts to reduce the amount of time I spend on Mozilla. It's just not worth my time to be threatened and cursed at every time I read my mail.

I haven't had to deal with such continuous displays of childishness since my brothers passed the age of 2 and it became possible to actually explain something to them and for them to understand that they are not the only people in the world who matter.

Posted by bzbarsky at 5:01 PM

February 7, 2003

I suppose I may as well

OK, I guess I may as well take this live. I've decided to leave comments on for now on the off chance that Blake will grace them with links to a crayon drawing or two of his.

I'm still working on convincing MovableType to not send things as "XHTML". I'm also still working on making the stylesheets not suck quite so much, and eliminating random <div>s that serve no purpose, so expect some rearrangement as that happens.

Of course what I should be doing instead of working on said stylesheets is reading algebra (I have to wonder—does Amazon seriously think that this is a book one would get someone for Valentine's Day?). Or worst-case improving Mozilla's image loading.

Posted by bzbarsky at 2:59 AM