posted by Thom Holwerda on Sun 19th Mar 2006 18:54 UTC
IconAs I sit back, here on March 19th 2019, to review the past 13 years, I cannot help but feel slightly melancholic. I felt it was time to summarize the period in the tech industry between 2006 and 2019. Where did we leave off, where did we go, and where are we going to end up? Note: Yes, the Sunday Eve Column.

Apple Computer

In 2013 Apple launched a new feature in the iTunes Music Store. From that point onwards, one could buy groceries from the Music Store. The first available grocery product was the banana, but soon more products followed. In 2014, Apple got sued by a group of customers who complained their bananas weren't yellow enough. A judge decided Apple had to pay $96.7 million to this group of customers, besides replacing all bananas under warranty.

On April 1st 2016, Apple celebrated its 40th anniversary by introducing an all-new iPod, the Ipod Invisible. The iPod Invisible cannot play music, cannot play videos, and cannot make use of the in 2013 introduced feature of buying groceries in the iTunes Music Store. Apple's CEO Steve Jobs held the iPod Invisible up in his hand during a special press event (one of the 371 events that year), and said: "The iPod Invisible. 50 Cent has one in his latest video. Starting at just $699, available today." Mac zealots went to the Apple Stores en masse to buy the new iPod Invisible, making it a huge success for Apple. Complaints soon emerged about battery life being too short, but to everyone's surprise no one sued Apple this time.

And they also released some new computers and some new operating systems and such.

The Stallman Paradox

In 2010, Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation and writer of the GPL, created a major uproar in the industry by announcing he would no longer use computers. His reasoning was well understood by many of his followers: he refused to use computers because BIOS writers refused to release their BIOS code under the GPL. Some die-hard Free software zealots followed Stallman in resorting to use stone tablets and iron chisels.

No one knows who told Stallman that the code to stone and iron wasn't GPL, but in 2012 Stallman is said to have talked to Mother Nature about opening up the code to rock and iron under the GPL. Mother Nature later in an interview said that she simply could not, even if she wanted to: "I may have written stone and iron, and I may own the source code to stone and iron, but I did not create i.e. concrete or all the iron alloys. I would have had to come to an agreement with all the writers of derivative works of stone and iron in order to license them under the GPL. This turned out to be impossible." In any case, Stallman then took off to live in the Scottish Highlands, working on GPL-licensed clones of stone and iron. This turned out to be a greater problem than he anticipated, because he had no GPL tools to actually write on and with.

This is what philosophers now call "The Stallman Paradox". Despite many attempts it has not yet been solved.


On 19th December 2006, the KDE team proudly announced they have reached their life-long goal of having each single pixel on a screen dedicated to a widget of one type or another. It took them years and years of heavy, hard, and though work. KDE achieved the stunning milestone by simply lowering the bar for widget placement. Usefulness? Unimportant. Looks? Who cares. Usability? Not in the dictionary. After two weeks of well-earned rest, the KDE team went to work again on the much-anticipated KDE 4. The main goal of KDE 4 is to remove all the widgets off of the screen again, and thus free some pixels for actual content. KDE's Aaron Seigo (Siego... Seigo... Whatever) was quoted saying: "Well, you gotta do something to keep 'm busy and off the streets." KDE4 is slated for a 2020 release.

On a related note, Seigo also complained about the initial development of KDE 4's volume applet. When he found out nobody videotaped the developer writing the code, he complained about how the development had happened 'behind closed doors'.

Table of contents
  1. "Iron Chisels, Invisible iPods, Stick Castles, 1/2"
  2. "Iron Chisels, Invisible iPods, Stick Castles, 2/2"
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