Contact Us, Open Source, Intellectual Property,

Posted on 25/9/06 by Felix Geisendörfer

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Ok, this post is going to be pretty loaded, but I didn't want to split it up because your guys RSS readers are already cluttered with enough junk (or not?), so let's keep this one simple ; ).

My latest experience

You've probably all followed my latest post that was purely written to make it to the home, which it did. However, the resulting traffic I got was not as overwelming as I had hoped, and even less then I had my with the first article of mine which made it to's homepage. The stats are still going up a little bit, but I think it'll come down to about 3000 visitors, which is pretty low knowing that last time I had 8000 and expected around 15k this time. Maybe I had a bad timing, used a little too much buzz language, or the article wasn't just that good. But I think it's fairly safe to say that only the news with the most catchy headlines and descriptions got a chance in the game today. Seems like the web isn't too different from traditional media in that respect after all. As far as ad revenue goes, the total will probably range between $20-30, and whatever it ends up being, 100% instead of the original 75% of it will go to the foundation. It's not a lot, but I hope it'll be appriciated anyway.

About the article itself: Some people have pointed out that it actually only contains 3 ways of making money and 2 ways to aid the process. I realized that while typing as well, but hey a list of 5 sounded better for the crowd then a list of 3,- I appoligize for this misleading information ; ). Another group of people called all of the ideas lame and stupid, while some other's expressed that they found them informative. But what really caught my eye were the comments about open source in general, which brings me to the next point:

Open Source

One of the things I found sort of shocking, or maybe I should say said, was the fact that some people seem to believe open source software is totally unsuitable to generate money. Before even discussing this let me clarify one thing: Most people think open source and free software are the same thing, but they are really not. As far as I know, even Microsoft Windows is open source, because there are ways for bigger businesses that involve a good amount of paper work and money to get a copy of window's source code. So if you ask me, it's not really about the source code being accessible in one way or the other, it's about the licenses regarding the code & the software. To me, software licensed under GPL is no free software. It has very clear restrictions on how the intellectual property it's regulating can be used and how not, most notably saying that every piece of source you base on GPL code has to be licensed under the GPL as well. For me the only true free software licenses I know of are the MIT license (used by CakePHP) and the various flavors of BSD style licenses. The only / primary restriction they come with is that you cannot remove the license from items covered by it.

So when people say it's difficult / impossible to make money with open source you never quite know what flavor of open source they are talking about. But I would agree that open source projects developed under the software licenses I consider "free software licenses" (see above) are the ones struggling the most to generate a cash flow.

I admit that I don't have a really amazing concept to solve this problem quite yet. I think the first two ideas of my previous post aren't too bad. But one thing that I know for sure is that I have very strong feelings on this subject, which brings me to the next point:

Intellectual Property / Copyright

I have a problem with the current situation concerning intellectual property and copyright. I don't know about you, but to me the idea of somebody being able to really *own* music, knowledge or other purely virtual goods seems completly wrong. I dislike patents, and to me software patents are the worst kind of patents out there. They are motivating people to innovate - ok, but most of the time they are used to keep the majority of people to benifit from this innovation and fail to serve their original purpose. I could probably write an entire post on this subject, and in fact I already tried to do this twice so far. However, I still lack enough information, thoughts and experience to back up my points of view, so if you are able to read German, I recommend you to read some pages of the recently formed Piratenpartei. Despite their very provoking name (pirates party), they have some excellent thoughts going on about copyright. Again: I'm not ready to face the discussion of those (radical) concepts quite yet, but to me it will be one of man kinds greatest challenges in the 21st century to free knowledge & culture and to make it universially available. Which brings me to my current personal contribution to this effort:

In the last weeks you've seen me putting up more annoying google ads, trying & succeeding at getting an individual ad deal and even trying to monetize my rss feed. In case you are curious, so far I've earned around $80 with this blog, and spent probably 200 hours maintaining it, giving me a whopping wage of $0.40 / hour. Even so my visitors have kept going up, and most people seem fine with the ads, some people have told me that they dislike them and that they eventually don't want to visit this page anymore in future. I'm sad to hear that, and I hope those people don't feel like the work published on here is worth less then 0.40$ per hour ; ). But maybe I can convince them & the rest of you to keep reading by sharing my honest plans for my future and the one of this blog with you.

About 4 weeks ago somebody pointed out Steve Pavlina's blog to me. I have to admit his site had quite an impact on me, especially on my motiviation. As a result I am getting up at 5am 7 days a week, have given up most of my coffee consumption and was able to formulate a purpose for my life. Uhm, that sounds like a scary form of manipulation, I agree, but since I didn't have to pay any money for it, I hope it has been a positive one. I certainly feel a lot better these days and actually get a lot of things done. But back to the topic, after a lot of thinking, brainstorming and journaling I hit the point where I realized what I really wanted to do with my live, the things I was already most fascinated by at the age of 6:

I want to learn and to explore, I want to invent and share the results with others as well as to inspire other people to do these things as well.

This is (the most important part of) my goal in life. But I also don't want to life in poverty, so I have to figure out a way to make this work financially. That said, all the ads and things you will see me doing from now on are an attempt to accomblish this. To make this juicy I set up an imaginary and probably very hard to reach first goal,- to make 1000 euro ($1280) / month with Pretty insane, hm? But I've already accomblished over 5% and am more then motivated to get the missing 95% over the course of the next 6 month. Even if I will fail (most of you will probably assume so), it'll be a fun experience.

So what does this mean exactly? Is this blog going to turn into a swamp of advertisment? Am I gonna beg you guys for clicking the ads? No. I would appriciate it if you would whitelist my page in your adblocker, but other then that, my main quest is to provide the highest kind of quality I possibly can for you as the reader. Right now, I only have my spare time available for this - most of my income is a result of freelancing work. But as this blog will start to generate more revenue in future, you'll see me writing more posts, getting rid of more spelling, grammar, etc. mistakes, and publishing more code for you guys to use.

But alright, I'm already for writing more then 2 hours on this post, and there is just one last announcement left: I'll probably drop the new design and start working on a new one. I liked the old one, but I really want something more like A List Apart or the one Robert Nyman is using which is one of my absolutly favourite designs ever. I am looking for a design where reading is a pleasure, and that is flexible enough to support some of the crazy sub-projects I want to host on here in future, even the ones I haven't come up with so far ; ). Don't get me wrong, I like strong designs like the one Jonathan Snook is using, after the initial 'wow' effect however, I really hate to read longer texts on there. In case anybody wants to give me some suggestions or offer help, feel free to contact me.

Ok, that's it, I need to take a break, work on the CakeTaster testing suite, and then type the promised article about how to learn from the CakePHP source code.

--Felix Geisendörfer aka the_undefined


You can skip to the end and add a comment.

Tom said on Sep 25, 2006:

Heyo Felix,

I've a deal for you, everytime your topic and first lines of your posts lead me from my rss reader to my opera, i'll click some of your ad's :D

But(!!) -- never ever use the buzzy diggthingies again, never ever! ;)

Keep up the good work,


Felix Geisendörfer said on Sep 25, 2006:

Tom: *g*, ok, I'll never do this buzzy thing again, ever. Anyway, please don't click random ads to support me. If you find one interesting, check out what the company / person has to offer, but don't just waste their AdWords budget to help me out. I appriciate your willingness to help a lot, but If I succeed in my goals, I want to enjoy the sweet taste of honest work, rather then having abused a huge ad serving mechanism for my personal benefit ; ).

Felix Geisendörfer said on Sep 25, 2006:

Uff, I just saw a big ad saying "Protect Your Invention - Do it yourself Patent Software" : /

Dieter@be  said on Sep 25, 2006:

Quote:Ok, that’s it, I need to take a break, work on the CakeTaster testing suite, and then type the promised article about how to learn from the CakePHP source code.

There's something else you promised ^^

Btw the main difference between gpl and mit licenses is too me, that mit allows virtually everything, even selling the code for hard cash, that others wrote (for free). That's a little _too_ gentle if you ask me. On the other hand it's only by using this kind of license that any kind of framework can be decently used as a platform for a commercial application. (That said, i don't understand why people release 'standalone' software under mit-like licenses)
Gpl on the other hand allows many things (like mit) but it doesnt allow redistributing the code and asking money for it. That's why it usually isn't a very usefull license for frameworks. The reason why gpl forces it's 'derived' programs to also be released under the gpl is to make sure that the users of the new software have the same freedom as the original (except selling it). I find this good and important. (see the 'copyleft' idea initiated by Richard Stallman, this man started something great)

If i said something wrong about any of the licenses please say so, it has been a while since i really read them ;)


[...] I originally wanted to write a complete guide to studying the CakePHP source code today, but this 2 hours monster of a post got into the way. So therefor I decided to split it up in one (or maybe more) parts. [...]

Felix Geisendörfer said on Sep 25, 2006:

Dieter@be: Well I like the GPL for trying to make people contribute to open source who use open source. However, I don't like the idea of millions of lines of code being lost for re-usage in unrelated projects that need are more flexible license approach. The FreeBSD project for example can't use a lot of GNU stuff because it's GPL licensed even so they would really like to.

Oh and about not being able to charge for the code: While the GPL forbids you to directly sell the code, you can sell your service of compiling it and putting it on a CD. It's like ebay where people sell stuff for $1 and ask for $10 shipping, just that here people sell you Linux for free but ask for $40 to buy the packed distro. Don't get me wrong, I have absolutely no problem with this situation, I jus twanted to point out why this clause of the GPL is a little difficult to enforce.

Oh and about my other promise: It'll happen this week before Saturday. I yet have to get the Cake and find a good day to waste for it, but I will do it ; ).

Mladen Mihajlovic said on Sep 25, 2006:

Hey Felix,

On an unrelated note, please could you remove your appended "Hello RSS subscriber" notice from each post in your RSS? Please write it as a single post (and maybe resend it every month or something), because it's just spam as it is now.

Daniel Hofstetter said on Sep 26, 2006:

Hey Felix,

I like the style of this article much more than the one used in the previous article. I think you will have more success with this style in the longterm than with an approach to attract as many people as possible in a short time period.

Can you elaborate a bit more about how you formulated your purpose in life? I tried the approach on, but I failed after about five sentences ;-)

Felix Geisendörfer said on Sep 26, 2006:

Mladen Mihajlovic: Ok, I removed it and replaced it with a one line comment instead, hope that's ok / more appropiate.

Daniel: Actually the method's suggested by Steve Pavlina didn't work for me either. But his articles really got me motivated to find my purpose, so that's why I give him credit for it.

When I tried the 20-minutes-open-a-word-proccessor-and-start-typing-method, none of the things I came up with really hit me. However, I was able to compile a list with ~60 short statements like "become an inventor" or "excell in the art of programming" and things like that. Some statements where really odd and surprised me. I highlighted the ones that sounded the most interesting and also some of the odd ones. During the next 4-5 days I really noticed that this started a thought process and that I constantly asked myself what the purpose of my life would be. The point were all of it really came together was when I was sitting in the airplane from Atlanta to Germany and we had a 3-4 hours delay and I was left alone with my thoughts. That's when I was able to slowly put all those ideas and thoughts into one statement that I felt (and still feel) really exited about. So again, I think the biggest factor was that I was really motivated to find this out and if you are too, I think you'll find the answer for youself soon as well. Good luck ; ).

[...] As I already mentioned in one of my previous posts, I decided to work on a new design for this blog again. Even so I liked my previous atempt, I found it was to agressive and didn’t focus on the most important thing - content. So since two sites that I really like in terms of providing an elegant design while making the content stand out are A List Apart and Robert’s talk, I decided to steal err take inspiration from both. [...]

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