Older blog entries for louie (starting at number 269)


I’ve never thought of myself as a horse person, exactly, but the week before work started I went into the mountains and ended up doing a fair amount of horseback riding, and really enjoyed it. Most of my pictures aren’t up yet, but I really like this one, so I thought I’d throw it out there. The gentleman in the picture is the guy who talked me into the riding, with his wife behind him. Thanks so much, Joan and Ershal!

Syndicated 2007-06-02 15:48:20 from Luis Villa's Blog

they keep talking about building bridges, but forget that toll booths are optional

The only way that[ customer-benefiting interoperability is] possible is for companies to really be open to licensing arrangements and building these bridges that people thought were impossible before, among different providers and among different software development models.” –Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft’s vice president of intellectual property and licensing

Or, you know, you could agree not to assert the IP against your customers, open source, or standards-based projects, and actually benefit your customers like you claim to want to. Wouldn’t that be a wild idea. I think everyone is in favor of bridges, but some of us don’t assume that all bridges have toll booths.

(And I’m still waiting for someone in the mainstream tech media to challenge MS’s assumption here instead of just letting them get away with it. But I probably shouldn’t hold my breath.)

Syndicated 2007-06-01 00:05:38 from Luis Villa's Blog

presentation styles

I love this slide deck, and (mostly) this one too. Need to figure out if I can pull something like that off next time I need to do a powerpoint presentation. I doubt it, but I can give it a shot.

Syndicated 2007-05-31 03:58:28 from Luis Villa's Blog

social producers are going to get lawyers whether we like them or not

One of the comments to Matt Asay’s post about me over the winter asked what I think was a pretty good question, and one that has been asked in a couple variations this summer:

…I am usually saddened to see that law becomes a necessarily evil in science (programming in this case). Why can’t we just be?

For better or for worse, social producers (not just software, but wikipedia, etc.) are becoming so successful that we often have to interface with the real world. We’ve got two options. First, we can either stay small and under the radar, allowing us to keep operating on a handshake basis. This will work for some products and some producers, but I think many of us want to have a broader impact than that. For those of us who do think that social production is going to have a serious and broad impact on the world, we can use the tools the rest of the world has developed to relate to that real world- laws and legal experts, aka lawyers. I’m pretty sure there is no third option to ‘be big but somehow still avoid lawyers.’ (Feel free to convince me otherwise; I’ll save at least $90K in school bills if you do. :) At best, we might be able to avoid some of the regulation which has affected every other pervasive industry, but even without regulation by government, when you’re big you have to relate to other private parties- corporations, less trusting individuals, etc. The bigger you get, the more those relationships are mediated by lawyers, in order to make sure that all sides can eventually trust each other once the lawyers are gone. The need to defend and define our success, in part by using the law and legal experts, is a virtually inevitable byproduct of our success- the rest of the world is not just going to let us be if we have the impact we hope we can have.

The types of issues lawyers can and will help social production navigate aren’t just going to be defensive issues, thankfully. If more of our relationships are going to lean away from the purely economic/industrial and begin to include more aspects of the social/cooperative, we’re going to need creative new ways to structure and define those relationships. The GPL is the canonical example of this, of course, but there are other examples too, like the Red Hat sales model. We got lucky in many senses with GPL- while originally intended for a cathedral-like model of production, it happened to provide the reciprocity which turned out to be critical for success in the bazaar. We aren’t likely to be so lucky again- we may never again have the time to allow such relationships to grow slowly and organically. Red Hat’s current sales model couldn’t evolve; it had to be sculpted with the aid of lawyers from day one. Again, then, if we want to have such relationships, we’re going to need to choose the ways we structure them more deliberately and proactively- and lawyers will likely be involved, whether we feel comfortable with that or not.

This isn’t necessarily to say that social producers should give up and let the lawyers have their way with us; they should be viewed with some suspicion, and we should demand that the same principles which tend to govern social production now - values like openness, transparency, simplicity, robustness - should continue to govern social production in the future, even after the lawyers get involved. (Mike Dillon, Sun GC, has a great blog post on the clarity/simplicity thing; and another on aligning provision of services with the needs of customers instead of the needs of providers; great social production lawyers will take both of those to heart and great social producers will demand it of their lawyers.) But denying that law (and with it the lawyers) is coming doesn’t serve anyone well.

So… perhaps unfortunately, our own needs and the needs of the outside world are going to push social producers into the arms of lawyers, whether we like it or not. Fortunately, more lawyers are going to get it as social production becomes more pervasive; the team here at Red Hat certainly seems to, and hopefully I’ll add myself to the pool of such lawyers in another couple years.

Syndicated 2007-05-31 03:32:28 from Luis Villa's Blog

my nose is incompatible with my face, I think I’ll cut it off.

It is incredible how so few people can get so many things wrong in so few emails, especially when there are actually people saying the right thing right there in the thread.

(for those whose instinctive response is ‘well duh, it is debian-legal’,  I unsubscribed… jeez, most of a decade ago now, and may have forgotten how maddening it is. Apologies for restating the obvious.)

Syndicated 2007-05-30 12:24:35 from Luis Villa's Blog

discuss amongst yourselves

Can truly great things be created without arrogance?

(You can spit on me or suggest a missing link in the comments.)

Syndicated 2007-05-30 01:25:04 from Luis Villa's Blog

im in your RDU, eatin ur foodz

As I’ve now had several RDU-based people approach me about meals in recent days, and ask if I’d be interested in lunch, let me be clear: the answer is definitely ‘yes, I’m interested!’ The only question is about my availability; I’ll be traveling many weekends and know lots of folks down here who want to munch at various times. But if you’ve ever exchanged more than a handful of lines with me over email or IRC, feel free to poke.

Syndicated 2007-05-29 16:58:02 from Luis Villa's Blog

great Buckminster Fuller quote

Hadn’t seen this one before:

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

R. Buckminster Fuller

Kudos to those who are doing that. (I was going to make a list, but it was longer than I expected- which is great.)

Syndicated 2007-05-29 01:07:36 from Luis Villa's Blog

choice usually sucks; documenting choice sucks more, though.

Yast thumbnailThis is the most depressing thing I’ve read all morning. (Granted I’ve only been up for 15 minutes.) Remember, kids, choice is usually just another way of saying “the engineers and PMs don’t have the balls to make the hard decisions, so instead we’re going to give the users a ‘choice’ they can’t possibly make with any more reliability than a coin flip.” But hey! After that post is successful, Fedora users will be able to waste time reading documentation which can’t possibly explain anything useful before they make the coin flip! Yay progress!

(It of course could explain something in a way that would be useful to users, but then it would offend one camp or the other, and that would require the aforementioned balls, so it won’t actually be useful.)

(Not that Fedora will be unique in this problem; this may be the most maddeningly stupid screen in all of YaST, and I seem to recall that older Fedora installers had something similar. But at least SuSE has basically admitted there is no way to provide useful information on this choice without pissing someone off and didn’t bother to waste time documenting it.)

(Wow, took me all of one week to have to say ‘this post is purely my personal opinion and does not represent the opinions or policies of Red Hat, Inc., particularly the legal department, who would surely think I’m off my rocker for even knowing what this particularly controversy means.’ :)

(ed. after a shower and some head-clearing: it is of course possible that KDE apps may be best of breed (though I can’t think of any and the first person who says k3b gets their posting privileges revoked), and those should be documented. But if your example is konqueror, you have already lost the game for many reasons.)

Syndicated 2007-05-25 11:18:00 from Luis Villa's Blog

deep, deep breath

I’m exhausted. And I’ve only barely started. This is great… I’d almost forgotten what it is like to do something because you’re really interested in it, rather than running in fear :) [Edit: I realize that could be misconstrued to be a comparison to past jobs; it was supposed to be to the last year of law school, not any past jobs.]

A couple one-line observations as life flies by at high speed:

  • paraphrasing one of the other lawyers: ‘keeping your data locally may be like keeping your money in your mattress- makes you feel better, but possibly going to be obsoleted by banks real soon now.’
  • I’m very impressed with RH’s focus on culture so far- they seem to be deadly serious about being not just a company that sells open source but an open source company. I’m utterly sure that is far from perfect, but even the attempt is impressive to me.
  • It is embarassing that sending someone else an ics file doesn’t Just Work, still.
  • That said, I still have a lot of pride in saying that evo is My Product, and now that I’m using it again day-to-day… it holds up pretty well. The new maintainers have done some really nice work.
  • Hello planet fedora! Still not actually running fedora, but hopefully I’ll fix that next week- I’ve been pretty impressed by RHE5 on my work box, so I have to imagine that F7 should look good.
  • Red Hat really, really likes to get their interns heavily involved, and quickly. I wish I could talk more about what I’m doing- so far just about everything I’ve touched has been almost Shockingly Serious and Very Not For Public Consumption Yet. Incredibly awesome to be that involved, that quickly. This job is not going to be good for my workaholic habits.
  • NCSU housing is…. not so organized. But everyone I’ve screamed at has been very nice. :) And my final/permanent summer housing, while definitely a dorm, is pretty darn nice. And my roommate improved it a great deal by bringing a lot of stuff. :)

Syndicated 2007-05-25 03:30:36 from Luis Villa's Blog

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