21 Sep 2000 thull   » (Journeyer)

Deep breath. Had a fairly long entry underway when X bit the dust. This doesn't do much for my faith in the legendary robustness of Linux systems.

Thrashing a lot today, as various things popped into view. I saw a notice that on contex.com that the color prepress products that I had worked eight years on have been discontinued, that support contracts will not be renewed, and that the only support contact going forward will be an ex-employee with no access to the source code.

I find myself with very strong feelings about this, partly I'm sure because it was a critical and formative period in my life which left me with very strong emotional ties to the product, my colleagues, and our customers, but largely because I always identified with those customers -- who today are being told by Barco (a competitor who bought Contex two years ago) to abandon their SGI-based CEPS systems in favor of Barco's NT-based ones.

The lessons here are the obvious ones: that engineers who write software property lose it to the whims of the property owners; and that customers who rent that property in fact own nothing and have no rights. This is, of course, something I learned painfully over many years of doing just that, both as engineer and as customer.

Other items that popped up:

  • I read with interest raph's proposal to use the trust metric to help consumers sift through a vast distributed archive of MP3 music. One issue here is that music taste varies wildly; consequently one's view of who to trust is equally personal, and that is ultimately the only criteria that matters. I'm unusual in that I make almost all of my music buying decisions based on printed reviews. I've done this for a long time, and I buy a lot, so I've accumulated a lot of data which guides me in whose recommendations I do or do not trust, and one thing that I've learned is that no one reviewer is equally good in all fields. Still, my experience is with named writers, necessarily a small set; I wonder whether larger reviewer sets might start to become more reliable?
  • Got mail today saying that sourceforge will be using the trust metric to allow everyone to rate anyone. This strikes me as a pointless game -- although I'm sure that anyone who gets identified will be quite deserving. I suspect that one problem is that what the metric may turn out to measure is the topography of the developer community -- basically how closely groups of people work together, because the larger the population the less we really know about each other. The same dynamic may be present at Advogato, but the relative crudeness of the rating scale should make it less pronounced.
  • I understand that Sun has some scheme that allows one to compile Linux drivers and load them into Solaris. Fwiw, I urged SCO to do this same thing. My proposal was rejected, because the powers-that-be felt that allowing Linux drivers to be used in UnixWare would diminish the message that UDI is really the way to go.

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