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Web Engineering Group Lectures

Yesterday I presented two lectures to The University of Sydney Web Engineering Group. Thank you to Rafael Calvo for the invitation.

The first lecture covered business workflow modelling using Finite State Machines and Petri Nets. The second introduced the OpenACS Workflow package and discussed how to use it to implement workflows in web applications.

For those who are interested, the slide sets and reference materials can be found on my business website by following this link.

Thanks also go to Lars Pind who gave me the great pleasure of working with himself and Peter Marklund at Collaboraid earlier this year. I'd love to say that I helped develop the workflow package, but i think my name can go against a handful of Oracle specific queries - and I helped keep them amused with colourful Australian words like strewth and crikey!

11:29 PM, 28 Aug 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Microsoft tackling the important stability issues

The Microsoft stability team got right onto the RPC vulnerability ... as soon as they had nailed this nasty problem.

Q826081 : Resuming the Computer After Suspend Mode Distorts the Video in Full-Screen Mode for the Pinball.exe Program

Thank's to Matt for this stupidbase article.

07:25 AM, 26 Aug 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)


As SCO continues to hit the media with press releases and other FUD, more evidence of their own foolishness is appearing. Here is another analysis of some of the alleged infringing code by Greg Lehey (warning: this link includes photo of bearded unix hacker! This is a fun site to explore if you are a true geek - Greg uses Makefiles to render some of his pages..., and he is from Adelade no less).

This analysis seems less one eyed than those by other pro-linux writers, and it shows an understanding of some deeper nuances in the code (such as 32 v 64 bit numbers). Greg's summary points commenting on SCO's presentation are:

  • Neither example shows any current infringement of SCO intellectual property in the Linux kernel
  • The first example appears to indicate that SCO, far from being an industry leader in UNIX technology, still uses the original, primitive version of malloc(), a central kernel function, a version which everybody else gave up years ago
  • The second example says nothing about Linux, since it's obviously not SCO code. It does, however, suggest that SCO is abusing the BSD license
  • Presumably SCO thinks these are some of the best examples. If this is the best they have to offer, they don't have a leg to stand on
  • Article : external link (parental advisory: geeky code excerpts in this article)

    And you know that you are pushing all the wrong buttons when you spawn an entirely new family of spoof internet websites. For your enjoyment (courtesy of We Love the SCO Information Minister), my favourite SCO spoof is A VERY FUNNY SPOOF A LA THE NIGERIAN BANK CONS.

    Other interesting links from the same site:

11:59 PM, 25 Aug 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Why, this clock is exactly two days slow!

Everyone's favourite proprietory Unix vendor is going to have their very own Linux distribution, oficially called the Mad Hatter project.

Sun has posted screenshots and a brief discussion of Mad Hatter on their website: external link.

Initially it seems a bit late to be entering the now consolidating distro market, but Sun's strategy options have a few major strengths, and only one of them is lot's of money.

Firstly, the product will integrate StarOffice, Sun's cheap answer to Microsoft Office. StarOffice is the wealthy parent of the open source project, and is now a reasonalby mature and effective alternative to MS Office.

Secondly, the bundled Ximian Evolution email/pim client will include a connector for Sun's Sun ONE messaging and calendar server, so Sun is offering a one stop office productivity solution. The only real options in this market (for linux clients) are Microsoft Exchange (with Ximian connector), Samsung Contact and now Sun ONE. Group calendar services are currently a stumbling block for many small businesses switching to Linux.

Thirdly, they have the name and reputation that promises stability and support. Or at least it has that appearence, and it is the appearence that matters when you are presenting to a board or CIO.

Their commitment is questionable though. For instance, the aforementioned PR release talks about how Mad Hatter fits into Sun's overall software strategy, and then links to a pdf to read more about that. I am struggling to see where the linked article refers to the stages referred to, or even where a desktop distibution fits in the strategy at all... Possibly in project Orion, but I'm not sure. You can read it here and tell me if youcan make any more sense of it!

But all in all I think it is good news. Certainly another big name in the arena should help squash the silly SCO induced fear in some management staff.

06:11 AM, 25 Aug 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Matrix ping pong

I just had this link emailed to me by my friend Macca - it's very cool. It appears to be an entry in a crazy Japanese talent show, and they must have rehearsed it for AGES.

The first link I posted doesn't work any more, but the original link appears to be:

For those of you without Windows media player, you can view a slightly poor quality flash version at:

Speaking of the Matrix, an old favourite of mine:

If "The Matrix: Reloaded" were a gangsta rap video

10:09 PM, 24 Aug 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (1)

SCO vs. The World

Ok, I a getting a bit bored reading about the various SCO related legal action, so i have decided it is time to add my own 2c worth...

For those of you who have been living on another planet for the past few months, SCO is suing IBM for alegedly submitting some code (and therefore intellectual property) from commercial UNIX code (that is now owned by SCO) into the open source Linux kernel project. Apart from IBM breaching their license to use the alleged code, the other implication is that every linux user is running software that requires license fees to be paid to SCO.

Now I'm no lawyer, and i don't know what the implications are for the period of time that we have been running SCO code (if the allegations are true), but the press reports of a massive problem for the future of Linux are surely overstated because the pieces of code are supposedly not large, and so replacing them with freshly developed code will be simple - even if it is maybe not quite as efficient - thus turning the latest kernel releases back into fully legal GPL code.

So that said, the evolving arguments are actually quite interesting. SCO has finally shown their code chinks they alledge were stolen by IBM, albeit to people signing a non disclosure agreement. Various commentators who have seen the code have commented that at least some fo it is previously published code covered by public use licenses (the BSD license in one case) and also that some of the code has already been superceded by new code in current kernel versions.

An excellent analysis of the pieces of code is witten by Bruce Perens in this article: external link.

As you would expect from IBM, they have counter sued with various suits, including claims that SCO has violated the GPL opensource license in a number of cases as well as violating four IBM patents. A discussion of these issues can be found in this article: external link.

Initially this looks like a corporate IT and geek advocate saga - but the mainsteram media is weighing in with articles in major dailys on a regular basis. Not since the Microsoft antitrust trials has an IT story prompted such strong and sustained media debate. And it's a passionate debate, with phrases such as Of course, Heise's statement is nothing but moonshine that's based on an intentional misreading of the U.S. Copyright Act that would fail on any law school copyright examination. and for SCO to continue to use Open Source/Free Software while attacking others for using it is the epitome of hypocrisy.

In the end, I suspect the whole thing will fizzle into an expensive bad idea hatched by some genius inside SCO who just didn't think the whole thing through very carefully. As Fran Foo of ZDNet Australia says in this article, perhaps it is time to just ignore SCO...

01:10 AM, 24 Aug 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Geek version of tidying your room instead of studying

It's time to launch my new website - and in the true fashion of tidying your bedroom because you have far too much study to do - I am possibly the busiest I have ever been, and I am launching my new personal website.

Crazy! It has been waiting in the wings for too long, so I have finally given it the last burst of effort it needed to be finished and here it is. I hope you like it - more photos and writings will come in the near future. In the mean time make yourself comfortable, post me a message in the forum, read the book reviews, and let me know if you find any springs showing through the upholstery.

11:36 PM, 19 Aug 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Frequent flyer status mourning

It has finally happened - after 4 glorious years holding the top status level of Qantas frequent flyer, I have been demoted to Gold.

The very sad news came to me when I was trying to book a last minute (as always) frequent flyer seat to the Gold Coast for a meeting and the friendly Qantas booking agent politely told me "I'm sorry Mr Aufflick, I am not able to open up additional frequent flyer seats for gold frequent flyers"...

I think gold frequent flyers still get called sir though...

(Yes, I am a tosser!)

12:30 AM, 13 Aug 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

My First Blog Entry


Well here it is - Mark Aufflick's Blog #2. I aim that this one will last longer (the last one was really more of a travel log than anything else) and have more interesting content (well I can try).

This site is currently rated beta quality - over the coming days photo's and more will be added before it is widely released.


05:29 AM, 01 Aug 2003 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)


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