Kommandeering Developers Everywhere

Monday, November 28, 2005

Should I hope for console success?

(1) My blogs failing at humor and (2) the current U.S. administration fumbling yet another issue. Few other things in life are simple and black and white. Oh, and the tee-shirt that reads, "There's only 10 types of people in this world: those that understand binary and those that don't."

For those that have had the pleasure of taking statistics courses, or philosophy, or hell, if you've even watched "The People's Court", you start looking at everything in terms of strata and continuums. After a while, everything seems to be a bell-curve. Or Chi-square for those twisted individuals.

In this instance, I'm thinking about people who play video games on computers. Some like old school emulator games through MAME clones, some like the latest and greatest (oof..greatest is opinion here) FPS games or eye-candy games. And some simply like to play MS Solitaire or Tux games. And of course, the majority of people may play all of the above to varying degrees or none at all.

Now, I'm not interested in discussing which games are better for PCs (needing keyboards) and which for consoles now. And assuming that the nirvana of all new games being created totally cross-platform and in OpenGL and immediately available for Mac/BSD/Linux is a couple of months away. And people buying such games in droves and proving the value to the vendors is a couple of months away.

Just the simple observation that a sizeable group of people may not try Linux on their main machine due to the inability to play games. But the better and more prevalent the consoles, the more some of those people may try KDE (no, not discussing dual-booting or WINE/CodeWeavers stuff here).

So, will I do calculations and determine that I'll root 19.4% for Nintendo, 12.3% for Sony and -6.2% for MS? No. But I'll recognize that other tech events can still somehow benefit desktop adoption. Not a perfect world, but if it gets me closer to running Plasma on a Cell processor system, I'll take little victories where I can get them.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Juxtaposing the Ming and Mogol Yuan Dynasties

Give me any topic, as my friends will agree, and I can rant on it until any and all listeners within earshot vacate the area. And then usually another 10 minutes. Topical knowledge in no way hinders me from forming opinions and taking an easily-assailed authoritative stance.

So, I go to this page. Do I know the background of this project? No. Do I know if the developers of KCall are in the least bit interested in outside advice? No. Have I rigorously gone through the associated mailing lists to learn more about any discussion? No. Do I know any of the people involved or have I even read through all of the documentation provided? Oh come on, this is all rhetorical.

Nonetheless, I will still brand it "Good stuff." Whether this individual case proves to be beneficial to anyone remains to be seen (and probably not me, since I'll be most likely discussing how tectonic plate shifting has impacted the American Sitcom).

But uni students getting applicable exposure to software development, getting in contact with Open Source (and hey, KDE) communities and processes, and professors using group activities to do more than just have students work on some fictitious Acme widget-building company? This begs for a repeatable process of comp sci programs that want to help, and projects that want help.

No, I don't care whether it's a French Club in Ohio doing translations for extra credit or an MBA program in Brazil doing a competitive analysis or an graphic design school in Tokyo making Konqi Anime or a C++ class refactoring code semester after semester with each incoming class. Finding sensible, autonomous projects and pairing groups up is super-hyper-gigacool vas-y vas-y! (stolen from a French play I read once)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Please think twice

Now, I'm all for innovation. And the KDE community has loads of creativity and talent.

But from a marketing and public relations perspective, if any one is planning on creating an open source rootkit that secretly installs itself, misuses licensed encoders, silently manipulates system files, calls out to specific external servers and allows itself to be a broker for trojan attacks by virus writers...I'd ask you to reconsider. There are better uses of time. Thanks in advance!

As a note: I have contracted out to Sony in the past, under their CRT division. Just like any large corporation, the big silos know little about each others' day-to-day activities. I found the Sony folks in that division to be awesome, although we weren't allowed the same office freedoms as the Evercrack/quest office about 4 miles away (Seigo and Staikos stayed about 5 blocks from their offices while in San Diego).

I'm sure the PS3 team is less than pleased about these developments in light of the pending 360 release and Microsoft's new involvement in controlling this rootkit. Good times.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Send in the Clowns

Like an anxious NASA engineer fixated on a monitor during a shuttle launch, I was refreshing the Dot enough the other day to throw off the visitor metrics. I had just posted about the new Marketing Working Group and was curious about the initial reaction.

Having been in the software development idustry for over a decade, I know from personal experience how frustrating sales and marketing departments can be. "You said our product can calculate the last digit of pi?" "You told them we'd have this release done 5 weeks early?" "No, I can't do a full client installation over lunch." "You agreed to let them run JBoss on a potato clock?"

Further, I'm sure that some use KDE as an escape, and the last thing that they want is the same type of structure or frustration that they have during their work day. So, I was prepared for the worst.

But in the end I was almost disappointed. Apart from the horse head in my bed and the threat of cement overshoes from Matt Broadstone, the response has been quite positive to the new Marketing Working Group. Both in public postings and private emails, the KDE community has been very welcoming and receptive; so the folks that discussed this endeavor at aKademy were certainly on to a good idea.

Better yet, I've found that not only are Martijn and Sebas up to the task of this group, but I've really enjoyed working with them as well. We're not at the point of sharing baby pictures yet, but that's probably not far off.

So, I'd like to thank everyone for the initial support - and our work will only increase the trust over time. Impressing people with the foundation, the desktop, the community and the applications? We might have the easiest jobs at KDE - make us earn our keep!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Usability Day Results?

A recent blog here discussed World...Usability...Day. As a note, I picture someone with a megaphone and an echo shouting that out. Adds impact.

There were 3 posted events here in Minneapolis, but my work schedule did not permit me to attend. I'm curious, as I haven't seen anything posted in the
kde-usability archive: did anyone attend events? Any stories to share?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Check out my 24" rims!

In Anywhere, USA on a weekend night, the scene is probably the same. One main street, and people cruising back in forth. Seeing and being seen. In big cities, the bar districts are still similar. Gridlock caused by those going to bars and those with no plans going into bars. Massive stereos, massive rims and wheels, massive LCD panels, massive neon lights.

Also known as: peacock feathers for the naked ape. We don't have fur or feathers, so we have to make due with expensive clothes, jewelry, make-up and signs of wealth like cars in the mating game. A recent story in CNN lists a polling result (if you dare trust CNN numbers) that 85% of men and 95% of women consider a man's car an important factor in dating. Ah, how the automakers have us seduced.

So, while being irritated by hearing various craptastic rap music songs overlapping each other in a duel for airwave supremecy, my friends and I might very well discuss: what is this all for? From the men's side of the attraction game, what part is to show off to other men, and what part is to show off to women? I'd like to think that the fairer sex is bright enough to avoid choosing a mate by the amount of bright green light bathing the underside of his vehicle; and that such fads would fade over time. But alas, the men get positive feedback and the cycle continues. Both genders: guilty as charged.

Which brings me to Jess Hall's post. Now I don't know her, and I don't need to defend her. But I do ask myself: Is there any documented evidence in the history of online communities where a male asked "you're a chick? OMG MARRY ME" and the female responded "Yes, I've been dying to accept the proposal of an unknown person! Let's do this!"

I'd hope that most of such rude comments are done by bored preteens or those outside the community. But like my speculation and hypotheses above, I might well be disappointed. Now, social graces may not be a strong suit for men in technical fields. However, speaking to those suave and debonaire casanovas:

If you pride yourself on having any logic or ability to reason, try some introspection and ask: Why am I saying this? Do I really think a female with find this flattering? Do I really think it's original? Do I expect a positive response? Do other people do this in KDE, or will I ultimately be perceived as a jackass?

If you've ever met someone named Richard Hurtz and narrowly avoided the obvious quip because you know that person's has undoubtedly head the same comment thousands of times, apply a little inductive reasoning and expand your ability to filter the obvious. If you've asked "You're a girl? Pics pls" and every one of them was uncomfortable, do what every mammal is capable of, and learn from the experience.

Of course, if that line has worked in the past for you, my sympathies to the female. Most likely, you had another bored preteen just like yourself send you photos of a supermodel. You fell for it yet again. If someone has better luck with the ladies from putting shiny wheels on their car, it's time to rethink things in your life.

So, if you want to keep females away and hinder KDE community growth, you're doing a great job. This topic has been covered in the past, and I'd hope it's not repeated in the future. Jess Hall is obviously someone with talent and integrity. And here's the bonus: She decides to help KDE. The fact that she has to publicly post on this topic (again) is absurd and depressing.

The Marketing Working Group is going to have one fun time pitching KDE as a force to be reckoned with when any potential client/alliance/partner has any access to the such juvenile behavior. From a business perspective, IRC channels and blog sites are KDE's conference rooms and office bulletin boards. You'd be fired for harrassment and/or losing client accounts, take your pick. Personally it's wrong, and professionally it's wrong. My time is limited, but I'll start an AKWG (@$$ Kicking Working Group) if there's the interest and need. Maybe the public humiliation route is the next step: calling out the worst offenders.

Monday, November 07, 2005

I think I'll go jump from a bridge now

This weekend, I went with my girlfriend to see an exhibit of Pulitzer prize winning photography at the Minnesota Historical Society. For those not familiar, Pulitzer prizes are journalism awards in the U.S.

Now, I'd highly recommend going to such an exhibit if you have the opportunity, but I'd also recommend going when you're in a stable state of mind.

When Not to See This Exhibit:
* It's a sunny day out and you'd like to relax
* You've just won an argument about the Greater Good (tm) and the intrinsic goodness of humanity
* You're suicidal and want something to take your mind off of heavy issues
* You're on a first date with a cheerleader/supermodel and you want to "set the mood"
* You're trying to think of ideas or themes for a children's birthday party

As I'm sure it is everywhere on this planet, good news doesn't sell. If you want light-hearted photos of puppies and sunrises and rose petals, steer clear.

These photographs are powerful. The imagery alone is substantial, but of course these are chosen because of what they represent: Racism, genocide, war, famine. From Kosovo to Vietnam to El Salvador to Somalia. You name the country, and I'll find you a photo of someone who has an issue with someone else.

These photograps are a call to action. But they are also sensationalistic. When does education turn to emotional manipulation? A very consistent theme is that the photographer was an observer to an event, and was more concerned with the photo than participating. Is the message and archival of the event more important than the helping hand?

What is the global role of the U.S.? What is the motive of the press and media? What impacts the human spirit? For those politically minded, I promise that regardless of your viewpoint, you can walk away with plenty of ammunition for your beliefs, and plenty of ammunition to make you question those same beliefs. Conclusion: there's no easy answers.

Ok everyone, back to work. I promise my next post will be about kitty cats or rainbows or the smile on a child.