The idea behind open source

Karl Fogel has it pretty much clear in Chapter 1 of his book: "Open Source Development with CVS - 2ND EDITION":

Imagine a science-fiction device that allows any sort of food or physical object to be infinitely duplicated. If somebody then tried to sell you a tire for your car, why in the world would you buy it? You could just throw your friend’s tire into the duplicator! However, you might want to pay somebody to design a new tire for you or perhaps to install the tire on your car. Or to help you when some other part of your car breaks, you might want to buy a warranty for future support. Or maybe just hire a personal mechanic.

Similarly, in a world where all software is in the public domain and infinitely reproducible, programmers and software companies are able to make a good living not by restricting the flow of software, but by providing a service. Users pay the programmers and companies to design and write new public domain software, as well as install, maintain, customize, troubleshoot, and teach others about it. A programmer or company sells labor, not products — much like a mechanic, plumber, or electrician.

When the browser wars began...

Eric Sink has this very interesting piece about how he witnessed the beggining of the browser wars, working at Spyglass (the company that licensed the original IE rendering engine to Miscrosoft).

About Spyglass:

"We considered ourselves to be the arms dealer for the browser wars."


IT independant innovation... dead?

Two quotes from PHPeverywhere:

"Perhaps the problem is that the computer industry is maturing, so all the cool corners where you could do your own thing in peace are disappearing slowly..."

-John Lim: "Gamma Radiation from Microsoft turns open source advocates into Sulks"

"[We] are caught between a rock and a cheap place, where your software cannot get enough market share in a world dominated by Microsoft (and other BigCos), and at the same time your niche is being commoditized by free software.

The only way to make money in the IT industry nowadays unless you have colossal market share (which you use to eat up niches such as anti-virus software) or are creative enough to compete in the PC-gaming industry, is by combining your products with services. And make sure your services is the main component, otherwise you risk going out of business when your product is commoditized. The whole industry is moving this way, from minnows like my company to giants like IBM (which is the furthest in this transition, buying up Rational and PWC). Sun is learning it the hard way."

-John Lim: Tim O'Reilly: "The Open Source Paradigm Shift"

And make sure you don't miss Eric Kidd's "The Missing Future". Excellent!

Firebird, bleh [en]

[Version française]

Almost everyday, I read someone saying "why would someone still use [a suposedly abandoned] IE when he could indeed use a [supposedly better] Firebird ?".

Hold on guys... you know brainwashing may not be the best way to evangelize, right? ... and could we at least try to sound a little less naïve?

I'll tell you why: because, as of today, Firebird is just a prototype, far from offering the usage comfort IE does! :(

Firebird may be good at respecting web standards... nevertheless pretty poor at respecting windows standards. And the sad thing is, the average user reacts to that! Even unconsciously!

For example: while Windows menus look "outset" by default, Firebirds menus look "inset"; toolbars cannot be moved (I'd like to have those links in that wide empty space right to the menu); the windows resizing handle is invisible; etc... globally Firebird really doesn't fit into the OS it tries to conquer...

Add all those annoying details like the ALT texts not being displayed (even when no TITLE is specified) or the insertion point not being blinking whenever there happens to be an animated GIF on the page... and you'll probably understand why Firebird just doesn't feel natural to plain Windows users. (Not mentionning incompatible javascripts...)

Don't get me wrong, I am *not* saying that IE is the best browser. As a developer, I favor Mozilla... but as an end user, I definitely favor IE! By the way, as an end-user, I really don't need to open 30 pages simultaneously that often... thus, not even needing tabbed browsing that much... ;D

(Once again, don't get me wrong: I think Firebird has a great future and can't wait to see if the next versions get better on these flaws... but it just isn't ready to seduce the Windows world yet!)

Unsubscribring from spam *STILL NOT* ;)

Following up on wether or not to unsubscribe from spam, Cédric [site gone] adds some clarifications:

I am talking about the particular case of a spam email that defeated my filters and ended up in my Inbox. This is the one I want to get rid of. I don't care if more spammers end up getting my email address this way because their spams will most likely join all the others in my Spam folder (I suspect the success rate of my various filters is about 99% these days).

Very interesting point! Unsubscribing from those particular spams that pass the filters makes total sense and may succeed in getting less visible spam... but still, I'm not sure: what if they resell your qualified address to 50 spammers and 10% of them use clever spam filter defeating techniques? You run the risk of replacing one known spammer by 5 new spammers.

But I must admit: I'm far from conviced myself that 10% can really make it through the filters! :.

What puzzles me more is this:

[...] we are fighting a different war on spam these days. The goal is no longer to eradicate spam (this will never happen) but simply to acknowledge that spam is a reality and therefore, do your best so that its nuisance is limited to a minimum. In other words: design excellent spam filters.

=> I think that filtering is only the worst solution we have found so far: all the extra spam we allow to generate but don't see in our inboxes still harms network and mailserver fluidity... sometimes a lot! So replacing 1 unfiltered spam with 50 filtered ones just doesn't feel right to me...

...and I'm so glad I'm not administering mail servers any more :>>

Actually, we're all bearing the costs generated by all that spam on our networks! So we really may want to think twice before we promote any behaviour potentially allowing for (even slow) exponential growth! |-|