Kommandeering Developers Everywhere

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

New Tux Magazine issue

While I try to maintain my sanity without the addictive repository insight of either Jes Hall or Derek Kite, I've turned to Tux Magazine as a crutch.

Among the noteworthy items in the newest issue:
* Page 4: Linux adoption in developing countries (where have I heard this before?)
* Page 6: Project Portland and the OSDL
* Page 11: Flattery from some sycophant named Wade
* Page 15: Putting your money where your mouth is
* Page 25: Hydrogen
* Page 38: Kopete (by the aforementioned Jes Hall)
* Page 53: OpenOffice.org Math 2.0

Another solid issue. Can they keep up this pace?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ok ok ok, I'll switch, so now what?

Unfortunately, few users are introduced to KDE through hardware preinstallation. And while that percentage grows over time, let's think about [cue ominous music]: The Switcher (tm).

Now, we are already thinking about "Who" the Switcher is (user profile / demographic / market segmentation) or "Why" the Switcher switches (motivation). But do we consider "How" the Switches switches enough?

Desktop settings, playlists, account names, home directories, browser bookmarks, files littered about "My Documents", the C drive and under application folders. What do these users hold on their PC, and what's the easiest transition? Checking out KDE with a VNC server, FreeNX account or a LiveCD is so simple and devoid of risk. But the next step. When few people change passwords or defrag their disks, are we surprised that people can be KDE commitment-phobic? (Cue the chorus of: But does OSS want those users anyway? Short answer: Yes).

Researching KDE, housecleaning their Windows filesystem, and learning about application replacements. Where does "user education and intiative" end and "barrier to entry" begin?

The good news, is that people are thinking about such questions and giving initial options. Minimize fear of the unknown, minimize pain, minimize risk.

With information overload and the need for desktop searches due to the inability to sort and file GBs of data, can we expect people to have a handle on which files will be fine with KDE-centric distros and which file type are lost?

Is your application sufficiently clear on supported file types and feature sets? On making "the Jump (tm)?" Can KDE do better to help the Switcher than to send a bottle of tequila and an email template that starts out, "Hey everyone, I'm going to try out linux finally. I might lose my address book and my emails, so IM me in a week or two when I get my pc back up and running" ?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

And now for something completely different: The Larch.

1) NFL: I grew up playing that addiction called American football. Oh, so you've mastered signals and slots? Well screw you, I won a local punt, pass and kick competition.

I could write for days and days about the NFL and reasons for its dominance; it's quite a savvy organization. But I'll leave it at this:
* Parity breeds hope. Every year, every fan base can consistently cross their fingers that "next year is the year." This year the Steelers and Seahawks got their wishes.
* The player speed and complexity of the rule book help send the NFL into the territory of debate like beauty contests and ribbon gymnastics. Even dwarf bowling has more scoring precision.

You'll never hear an argument about who won the 100-meter dash; there's no human intervention. But throw in an ever-changing set of regulations, and have middle-aged men trying to make game-time decisions about a "Tuck Rule" with Tom Brady in near white-out conditions live in front of 100 million people - you get a recipe for disaster/success.

Could a billion dollar industry pay to have an RFID chip in the nose of the ball to determine whether Big Ben crossed the line before being down? Sure, but you wouldn't have debate/controversy leaking all the way to our tiny Planet.

I plan a similar campaign to heighten KDE awareness. "Did Sebas just use java garbage collection techniques and the Singleton pattern in his PyQt code? That's unheard of, illegal, and it's frankly got to be stopped! Can we get a review? Are sanctions necessary?"

2) Off-site storage: For those of you planning to take out my house with a Stinger missile or a partially operational battle station: Don't bother. You may destroy my house, but you won't destroy my data or my dignity.

Until recently, I've been computing as many would expect. Recklessly and idiotically. All of my personal data, an accumulation of several years, was held on striped drives (RAID 0.0.1beta). One goes down, both go down. I had a back-up of a year of two old on another machine, but nothing remotely recent.

No longer. Data back-up to external USB drive: Check. Data validation: Check. Held off-site in safe, dry location: Check.

So, I can remove my "Back-ups are for Sissies." tee-shirt and temporarily rejoin the land of the Logical. You want to keep me from Bananarama or Frogger or the All Your Base swf? Bring it.