Times Online Articles

In 2005 and 2006 I wrote a column in The Times Online called "Our Man From Mozilla", after the Graham Greene book. It was focussed on writing about technology issues and events in a way which is accessible and interesting to the public. I stopped when I worked out they weren't paying me anything like the going rate. If this seems like a lot to read, I was particularly happy with "Breaching the 'Dam" and "Free software? You can't just give it away".


  • 19th December: "When music gets out of control" is a comment on the music industry's response to the Gowers Report.
  • 30th October: "Open secret: how Firefox 2 was born" gives a peek into some of the issues which face an open source project trying to make a splash.
  • 2nd October: "Shortcuts to success" laments people's unwillingness to learn keyboard shortcuts to acquire greater speed and avoid RSI.
  • 18th September: "Free data - a valuable commodity" explains how natural justice and economics both demand that government-collected data be free to access.
  • 5th September: "Searching for good usability" discusses Firefox's "Find As You Type" function as an example of usability innovation in free software.
  • 29th August: "Free software that's trouble-free" talks about the state of usability engineering in the free software community.
  • 15th June: "The late '98" is about the imminent support end-of-life of Windows 98, and its implications.
  • 30th May: "Why software can't bridge the gaps" discusses why we don't build software in the same way that we build bridges.
  • 17th May: "Software is special" shows the uniqueness of software and therefore why it should not be patentable.
  • 3rd May: "Free the Beatles' walrus" argues against an extension of the copyright monopoly on recorded music.
  • 18th April: "Remixing the web" highlights recent advances which allow users to customise sites to their own preferences, whether the owners like it or not.
  • 6th April: "All a matter of trust" discusses how browser makers can adapt their products, and users their habits, to help users defend themselves against phishing.
  • 22nd March: "Getting the world's poor logged on" is about the One Laptop Per Child initiative, and how the communication it enables is the most important thing.
  • 8th March: "Splitting the root" is about the seriously unfortunate consequences that would result if any government or jurisdiction decided to break away from the unified ICANN DNS root.
  • 21st February: "Free software? You can't just give it away" is an account of an amusing email exchange I had with a Trading Standards officer on the subject of free software.
  • 7th February: "The end of the (free) pipe dream?" is about the importance of the principle of "network neutrality" - that ISPs do not discriminate between different providers of a service.
  • 26th January: "COMMENT: Microsoft grandstanding" comments on the real-world relevance, or otherwise, of the ongoing Microsoft/EU Commission legal case.
  • 26th January: "XSSively Dangerous" discusses the risks of Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks on websites.
  • 10th January: "Is free software's foundation stone cracking?" discusses the imminent GPL version 3 process, and the possibilities for discord that it entails.


  • 27th December: "Microsoft fine could be a price worth paying" suggests that the €2 million per day fine Microsoft may end up paying could be a bargain.
  • 13th December: "The Battle for Bangalore" contrasts two recent events in the city in terms of the battle for the hearts and minds of legions of Indian software developers.
  • 17th November: "Phishing with Screwtape, part II" is a second email I found between the two phishers.
  • 17th November: "Phishing with Screwtape" is an email I came upon from an old hand at phishing to a new apprentice.
  • 1st November: "Breaching the 'Dam" is about my trip to EuroOSCON and other events in Amsterdam.
  • 18th October: "Open formats make history - and maintain it" is about how the decision of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to use OpenDocument is the start of a move towards people reclaiming control of their data.
  • 4th October: "Cry Freedom" is about the difference between Free Software and Open Source, and why it's important to the average user as well as programmers.

Original URL: http://www.gerv.net/writings/times/