Ubuntu-Studio-users Digest, Vol 32, Issue 7

Lindsay Haisley fmouse at fmp.com
Mon Dec 7 16:57:35 GMT 2009


On Sun, 2009-12-06 at 23:57 -0500, Karlheinz Noise wrote:

> > Also I read that we should look at the MACintosh to see how it
> > works, because everyone in the industry use it for years, and it is
> solid
> > etc...
> 
> 
> If you're making an A/V distro, it makes sense that you should know
> what most A/V users use, and why they use them. Simple, really. And
> why they use those tools really boils down to two things: ease of use,
> and stability... which are intimately related.
> 
> 
> > Well This is a little bit disturbing indeed, because, normally there are
> > very few inputs to the DEV team. very few ideas and test cases etc. But i
> > see a lot of people complaining. And this nobody can deny. Peple come and
> > just complain, instead of describing the error or the feature etc.
>
> If a user is complaining, it means that you're not doing your job as a
> programmer - simple as that. To everyone's credit, the usual response
> is not "shut up," but "give me more details."

Some people, and even one of my educated and computer-literate IT
colleagues, don't get the difference between a bug report (or beta test
report) and a complaint.  Getting these people past the point of just
saying "such-and-such doesn't work" and leaving it at that is often a
matter of education, and sometimes it ain't easy :-)

> - A/V is unfortunately not very open source at the moment, so should
> allow for easy installation of stuff that is not open.

I heard someone once describe working with multimedia programming as a
patent-infringement minefield.  Every step has to be made very
carefully!

> > The bottom line is that, by its very nature, F/OSS developers
> > have _no_ responsibility to the end-user community, whatever that may
> > be. None! Zarro! Zilch!! Open Source is developed in the context of
> > a gift economy.
>
> This statement really surprises me, as it would also surprise
> businesses like Sun or IBM (or even Microsoft, who are trying to get
> into the open source game).

Yes, it may well be in the interest of the likes of IBM and Sun to get
into Open Source.  Enlightened self interest is an effective motivator,
and these companies seem to get it with regard to the advantages of
F/OSS software and how a thriving F/OSS community is important to the
rest of their business.  The bottom line is still that the GPL and other
legal trappings of F/OSS software don't imply a responsibility to the
end user, and in fact just about all F/OSS packages contain a legal
clause, quoted below, stating this fact in clear legalese.

This in no way negates what I said.  If there is no contractual
relationship between maker and consumer, express or implied by the
exchange of consideration for purchase, then there is no obligation
other than to do no harm.  

I recommend, if you haven't read it, Eric Raymond's "The Cathedral and
the Bazaar" - the full book, not just the essay of the same name.

> Leaving that aside, if you're not writing software for the end-user
> community, why are you even writing software in the first place? Who's
> supposed to use it, our future Martian overlords or something?

Actually, some F/OSS software seems to be written for the benefit of
other developers.  The community of people around a F/OSS project can
get very in-grown.  The result is that the people involved are more in
touch with what's clever and goes over well with their colleagues than
with the end-user experience.  Their work may be more along the lines of
proof-of-concept, or some such.

There are a lot of programmers who aren't particularly socially skilled,
and making the conceptual leap to look at and evaluate their work from
the perspective of someone who knows absolutely nothing about the
underlying software technology isn't always easy.

This doesn't mean that they're not developing valid F/OSS software, nor
that their work is inherently of no value.  Very often such work is akin
to what's called "pure research" in the natural sciences - science with
no, or very little practical application.

Commercial software development is driven by market dynamics.  If you
make it and it's not good, or not as good as the competition, or not
properly marketed, it's a dead duck.  F/OSS software developers _may_
look at end-user satisfaction as a goal, but there are no guarantees,
and no requirement that they do.  Just about every F/OSS package out
there contains the words:

"THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS AND/OR OTHER PARTIES PROVIDE THE PROGRAM "AS IS"
WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING,
BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND
FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.  THE ENTIRE RISK AS TO THE QUALITY AND
PERFORMANCE OF THE PROGRAM IS WITH YOU.  SHOULD THE PROGRAM PROVE
DEFECTIVE, YOU ASSUME THE COST OF ALL NECESSARY SERVICING, REPAIR OR
CORRECTION."

> > Often F/OSS software is
> > written by geeks, for geeks, which is why some packages seem to be
> > perpetually in a state of flux, or poorly documented.
>
> That's true in some cases, but it ignores something that should be
> obvious: Idiot-proofing your software makes a programmer's life
> easier, not harder.

This is logical, and indeed should be obvious.  Writing good
documentation should do the same thing.  Somehow, however, there seems
often to be an inverse relationship between the ability to do good,
creative programming and the ability to write decent documentation for
it.  The same can be said about designing an intuitive user interface,
or even intuitive APIs.

> - It's pretty hard to tell people to RTFM if there's no F-ing manual
> to read.

Yep!

> ...Okay, sorry for the long rant. Obviously I think too much about
> these things. Have a good day, everyone.

No apologies necessary, at least from my perspective :-)

-- 
Lindsay Haisley       |"Fighting against human |     PGP public key
FMP Computer Services |   creativity is like   |      available at
512-259-1190          |   trying to eradicate  |<http://pubkeys.fmp.com>
http://www.fmp.com    |       dandelions"      |
                      |     (Pamela Jones)     |





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