Just Shelley

Happy New Year

She carefully raises her head above the hole of her shelter, ready to pull it in at a moment’s danger. Not sensing any immediate threat, she looks carefully to the left. No wasps. Relieved, and again, moving cautiously so as not to attract predators, she looks carefully to the right. Oh thank goodness! No ducks! She knows that now is the time when she can safely make a move.

Creeping out of the shelter, she puts her hands to her mouth and calls quietly to her faithful weblog readers:

Happy New Year!

Then runs like hell and dives back into her shelter, vowing to return only when the new year is safely underway.

Technology Weblogging

Winer joins Robb non-debate on open source

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Nothing like Dave Winer from Userland cashing in on the open source non-debate by twisting the whole thing back to how we shouldn’t pick on Manila, we shouldn’t pick on him, we can’t pick on “his” XML-RPC, and then goes on to talk about how open source developers never listen to the users. WTF!?!

I suppose that’s why Mozilla cared so little for getting comments from users that they created an entire open source bug reporting system (Bugzilla) just to manage user responses. I suppose that’s why the Apache organization wrote the following:

Not a software developer? Don’t worry, there are plenty of other ways you can contribute. Our customers, the users of our free software products, are part of the Apache community as well. Organizing local user groups, volunteering to work on user conferences, and helping less experienced users on the various on-line forums are all ways in which you can contribute to the ASF projects. Likewise, the Foundation project can often benefit from people with administrative experience or access to specialized communication facilities.

Not listen to users? Bullpuckey!

FYI — I’m not an open source groupie. Most of my work has been for companies that hide their code behind lock and key (though that is changing a bit now). However, I do believe in giving credit where credit’s due, and the open source community deserves more credit than they sure have been getting lately. A lot more credit, and a hell of a lot more respect.

As far as I’m concerned, there is no competition between closed or proprietary software organizations and the open source community. If anything, there’s a symbiotic relationship between the two. The proprietary software companies provide the salaries of the people who donate their time building much of the open source code. In turn, the proprietary software companies benefit from the innovation and creativity freely available as open source. Based on the benefits proprietary software companies have gained from the open source products, the concept of “open source” is a huge success.

I would even go so far as to say if there were no open source, you wouldn’t be reading this today. And if there were no closed, proprietary software companies, chances are you wouldn’t be reading this today, either.


Why am I getting into this BS? Arguing with the Userland Deus Ex Machina is like being nibbled to death by ducks — slow death by constant attacks by small, blunt toothless beaks. Chomp. heh Chomp. heh.

There’s this “tag, you’re it” type of thing that goes on — when one tires, another takes up the weblogging baton and it’s just you running against this big, bad remorseless Weblogging machine.

Anyone want to take the baton from me? I’m getting tired. All that “flailing” about open source, most likely.

Technology Weblogging

The John Robb non-debate

I received an email about my weblog postings related to the non-debate about open source with John Robb. The person thought I was “silly” for calling John Robb a Suit, among other things. I thought I would repeat his email here, sans his name. Note to folks — you want to slam my weblog postings, do so within the comments, not via an email:

Far be it from me to defend John Robb, he can defend himself if he feels he needs to. I find him rather hard to take more often than not. But I followed a link to your site from his and I read the following:

I wonder what ever happened to debate? Or disagreement? Or even getting pissed at another person and coming out swinging — in writing that is…

…(rest cut as you can read this in yesterday’s weblog)

And further down the page:

However, I also realize that John is basically a Suit. He reads about
trends, and he reads about approaches, and he writes about them, and he makes recommendations, and he manages — but John doesn’t get his hands dirty. He doesn’t get into the technology. He might be called a “technology expert”, but he’s not a techie. So he’s not going to look at Open Source, or even P2P from the ground level. He’ll look at it from a bottom line, or from a spreadsheet, or from the viewpoint of counted lines in publications, or from conversations with techies, but he’ll never have a techie perspective. So, I’m tempted to cut him some
slack — he doesn’t really understand the technology. The industry, yes.
The business, yes. But not the technology.

And I wonder if you see the problem here?

Frankly, I find the earlier paragraph about John being a “suit” sort of
silly. Obviously, open source is some kind of sacred ox of yours that is
being gored by Robb. So after putting up something of a legitimate
refutation of his argument, you then close with this sort of adolescent
put-down. Why would John Robb choose to engage you in debate? You’ve already disqualified him from being able to intelligently debate you on the topic because he’s not a “techie.”

I find this even more amusing given your most recent entry regarding
your introduction to computers. One of the big advantages of
micro-computers was that it brought the power of computing to regular people and not just the “priesthood” of MIS.

It would appear now that there is a new priesthood of open-source
“techies” who are the only people qualified to comment on the technology because they are the only ones who get their hands dirty (as if!) with it and thus understand it.

Seems kind of arrogant (you deigned to “cut him some slack”) and closed minded (“he’ll never have a techie perspective”) to me. Which might go some ways toward explaining why you may not have got the online fight you were looking for. Why bother?

Happy New Year!

You know I could care less that John Robb doesn’t “know” anything about computer technology other than the running a tech business. If he does a good job of it, great — we need good management within software companies, and believe it or not, I respect good business management. And it’s true — “Suit” is about the worst put down you can apply to a person within the technology business (well, most businesses really). Bluntly, I wouldn’t have used this term except for Robb’s incredibly arrogant one line putdown of open source. “You get what you pay for”.


Anyone that can dismiss all of the incredible software that exists thanks to people and organizations who have freely provided this software via “open source”, with a trite, banal one line statement such as “You get what you pay for” deserves a resounding put down in return. When I read Robb’s background and applied this to his “reputation” as being a technology expert, my first reaction was “What a typical Suit”. Hence the weblog posting.

As for my weblog entry about my introduction to computers: I wrote this as a way of explaining why I love technology so much, why I spend so much time with it, and especially why I argue about it so passionately. I was actually trying to share a bit of myself with my weblog readers. And all the person who sent me the email can respond to is that Thank God the micro-computers have come along and brought the power of computing to the little people rather than priesthood of MIS.

Is my writing so obscure and poor that the whole point of what I was writing was that lost?

Why do I bother writing to this weblog? Especially about technology? Technology’s never been anything but a good ole boy network. Yeah, you can comment on standards — as long as you follow WSP’s party line. Yeah, you can go after an obvious putdown of technology, but only if you follow some form of “gentlemen’s rules”. Something along the lines of:

Well hey buddy boy, John. I’m sure you didn’t mean that nasty putdown of open source, now did you buddy boy? I’m sure you meant something more on the lines of “Open source isn’t living up to it’s hype”. Hey, don’t take offense *wink* *giggle*. And I bet you want to take back that sentence: I am beginning to think there isn’t any real intellectual rigor behind the open source movement. *wink* *wink* *giggle* LOL!

Gag me.


Word for the day

At least there’s some gold in the weblogging dross — Sharon I bet that word for the day today is hearken, but you kind of gave us that one. And holler if you need help with your comments.

Dross: My word for the day.

Just Shelley

Me and computers

When I was a child living in a town about as far away from any city as you could get in the United States, a friend of my Mom’s who shared an interest in science with me used to give me his Popular Science magazines to read. I loved those magazines, particularly reading about the kits for the build it yourself planes, or how to make your own radio, or how to build your own computing device — just like them big computers the gov’ment has. Damn, but that was cool.

However, we weren’t rich and the closest I came to a computer in my youth was through those pictures in the magazine — the same computers that Bill Gates eventually helped write software for when he was a kid (I have a clue for you, Bill and I are very close to the same age).

Fast forward: My first true exposure to computers came when I was 19 years old and working for an insurance company. I was a workmen’s compensation underwriting assistant the year the company decided to automate its systems. We were given these paper forms to fill out whenever we added a new policy or made a change in an existing one. On the forms, each letter of each field in the form was carefully delimited with a box to ensure that we didn’t exceed the number of allowable characters and that we provided all the required information. Once completed, the forms then went to the data entry folks who would enter them into “the system”.

Every day, our boss would get an error report listing the mistakes we had made in filling out the forms; he would then, kindly, share these mistakes with us. Every single day, without fail. And he never got sick. And he never took a vacation.

I really hated computers at that point.

Fast forward: I’m in college, a pre-law major taking a required logic class. My teacher suggests I try a computer class. I think back to the computers in the insurance company, and I’m more than reluctant. Then I remember back to when I was a little girl, dreaming over the “computing devices” in the Popular Science magazines. Okay, what the hey. I’ll try a class.

Fast forward: I’m sitting in front of this ugly beigy/gray terminal with this small black screen with green letters. I’m writing my first computer application. It will be in Basic, on a VAX/VMS, and I write a program that adds one and one together. That’s it, nothing else. 1 + 1. A simple little task. However, all of a sudden, I had the power of the universe at my fingertips. The little fishy was hooked and reeled in, all by some sexy lines of code that did the incredible feat of adding 1 and 1 together.

Fast forward: I’m standing on the podium, getting my computer science degree — the first one for software programming and language compiler design for the college.

Every time I start to look at technology as a matter of dollars and cents, every time I start to see it as nothing more than market share, or lines of code, or number of bugs, or website hits, or the number of failed dot coms, or open source versus closed, or standards-based or not, I remember back to a time when I was sitting in front of a terminal, teaching a machine how to add 1 + 1 together. And I have all the power in the universe in my fingertips…once again. And to me, that’s really all that matters.