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Academic stagnation

I was greatly saddened yesterday. We are working on a research project that is similar in some ways to a well-publicized project from a different university. One of my students recently contacted the researchers of that other project, asking to see their code so that we could learn from it. The head researcher replied saying, "please have your professor contact us, and detail how you will be using our code." So I replied telling them that we explicitly would not be copying their code (although I didn't mention it, the reason we don't do that is because we have a traceable copyright history and are therefore extremely cautious about what code we accept into our tree) -- we only wanted to see the underlying vendor-provided API's in action as some examples of their use so that we can learn from it (the vendor has told us that documentation is "lacking", at best). The head researcher did not reply to me until I pinged him again (almost a week later) essentially saying "no, we're not going to give our code to you." He mainly cited copyright concerns (apparently they have been burned before). This saddens me on a fundamental level. We both work for universities (pretty big ones). The core values of a university are information sharing and distribution of knowledge. Yet we were explicitly denied in this exact kind of information sharing -- sharing that would have fundamentally contributed to the general state of knowledge and advancement of research technologies. How exactly can this be reconciled -- when I explicitly stated that we would not be copying any of their code? Making it more general -- their code would have been a teaching tool for us. Indeed -- if the lack of sharing of research could somehow be justified, how can a university justify themselves in not teaching a fellow academic? This is incomprehensible to me. We'll proceed without their code. We'll write our own code, and it will be entirely unrelated to theirs. It'll be darn good code, too. I'm just fundamentally saddened that a group of fellow researchers snubbed us so directly, seemingly flying in the spirit of open collaboration. To use a phrase that Rich loves: that's intellectually bankrupt. (yes, if you noticed, this was somewhat vague in exactly what the project was, who I contacted/was denied by, etc. That's intentional to protect the guilty)

I ordered a cradle for my Clie today. The cable that came with it works fine, but a cradle is just so much more convenient. I had to order it directly from Sony, and they're back-ordered. [sigh]

WOPR finally resolves in DNS! We had some problems with that -- we chose a new domain name to be the "admin" domain for the machine and registered it well over a week ago. Unfortunately, we all forgot that .org is the only TLD that still enforces a two-DNS-server rule (we only had one listed), so it refused to resolve anything. But that's all fixed now, and e-mail to and from that domain finally works. This allows us to keep moving forward to get WOPR ready for production...

Yahoo! has been announcing for the past several weeks that they were going to break compatability on 25 Sep in order to fix some security problems with older clients. And as advertised, yesterday they did. gaim released a new version in the morning that supported the newest Yahoo! protocol. And it worked just fine. For a while. Last night, I got kicked off Yahoo! when I had a connectivity blip and found that I could not get back on Y!'s IM service (the exact error message from Y! varies). Doing a little web surfing, apparently everyone is having this problem (including other 3rd party IM clients: Trillian, Fire, etc.). Looks like Yahoo! did something a little more substantial after-the-fact. We'll have to see gaim can continue to interoperate. :-\


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 26, 2003 12:48 PM.

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