Douwe Osinga's Blog: October 2005

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Somebody registered the domain and put a bunch of spammy looking ads on them. It's a great compliment and honour to join the ranks of the sites that are targeted by typo squatters. And so unexpected.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

European trips

When people think about the life of a Googler engineer they tend to think of the glamorous activities; the espresso powered late night debugging sessions, the blue lcd light reflected on a engineer drowned in a last minute coding spurt. Or the quiet Tuesday mornings spend on writing documentation for a system almost ready to be abandoned. Of course reality isn’t always up to the legend.

This week for example was one fighting on the PR front. First there was the SES Stockholm, a gathering of people interested in how to build search engine friendly websites and the vultures circling around the desperate, the guys with promises of high Google rankings for a low price. One session of this SES was called Meet the Crawlers and as luck would have it, one of those crawlers was me. Of course before this seminar-in-an-hour could take place I had to get to Stockholm. This involved catching an early plane, which in turn involved for me getting up at the normal only theoretically time of 5:30. Since I didn’t want my wife to wake up, I decided not to use our alarm clock, which has the enthusiasm of a overly excited cock about getting up early, but rather trust my new cellphone. Of course that didn’t work; I missed a ‘are you sure’ dialog and come 5:30 it was all quiet at the Seilergraben. Weirdly enough my biological clock kicked in, be it 15 minutes to late, and at 5:45 I found my self sitting in my bed wondering what the hell was going on. Only for two minutes of course, when I realized that I had to run fast to make the train that would let me make the plain that would bring me to Stockholm. So I got up, put some clothes on, grabbed some stuff that looked useful for a trip to Sweden including whatever my for the time surprisingly awake looking wife had to offer and sped out of the door in order to catch said train. The six months that I haven’t been to gym turned out to have been not in vain; by the time I got to track I was fully out of breath and it was with only 45 seconds on the clock that I jumped in the train; unfortunately it was what the Germans call the ‘Gegenueberliggende gleis’. Good thing there are taxis to get you to airports when you really want to.

I probably didn’t learn my lesson very well, since fate decided to throw me the same kind of ball a couple of days later; last Saturday I went to Munich for the SEO Stammtisch. These things tend to get last into the night and I saw that there was a train at 03:15 back to Zurich. I might have had a couple of drinks so sleeping in the train wasn’t much of a problem either; waking up on time in Stuttgart seemed more like an issue where I had to change trains. It turned out it wasn’t. I woke up fine, but my train had a delay and I had to wait for 2 hours in Stuttgart around 5:00 in the morning. The station was reasonably well made homeless safe, i.e. no space to sleep, except for two benches with a small table in between. I can still feel the table in my neck muscles.

The next time I woke up I heard the guy on the speakers say Zurich just as the doors of the train closed. I ran, frantically pressing the door open button. Low and behold; it opened. Of course the train had left when I found out I was standing on platform 3 in Winterthur.

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Government Granted Monopolies

One of the fundamentals of old school capitalism is assumption that property is absolute. Property is not something that is defined by the laws of the country, the laws of the countries are there to protect your property. In the context of of so called Intellectual Property, I think this is the source of much confusion.

Obviously one of the most important things in politics in being in control of the discourse. How can be for the Death Tax is the already classic example. The Intellectual Property People have played this very well, by calling the ideas, songs and what have you Intellectual Property. The Free Market people here Property and think, needs to be protected. Anybody against it is obviously a communist and we don't like those.

At the same time it should be quite clear that it is not really property, not in the capitalist sense. For one thing, patents and copyrights expire. Now, the Intellectual Property People would like to change that of course, but there is a reason for it. These are temporary monopolies granted by the government to promote the enhancement of science, technology and the arts. See, government granted monopolies is a bit longer than intellectual property, but it would surely make the Free Market people think.

Who can be against property in this capitalistic world? Who can be for monopolies, especially if they are created by governments? It is all a matter of branding. Of course it doesn't stop here. Property can be stolen, so that makes you a thief or a pirate if you copy a song, or write a program that uses an algorithm that has been patented. Monopoly breaker sounds a lot better. It is all a matter of branding.