Monday, June 18, 2012

Linux and Open Source Open source software users voluntarily pay more

 By Chad Perrin | May 23, 2011, 12:00 PM PDT
If you search the Web for flame wars between open source and proprietary software advocates, you will surely find more examples than you can use. Even just searching TechRepublic for such fights is likely to provide a glut of examples.
Among such flame wars, it is dismayingly common to find a case of someone on the pro-Microsoft side of the divide blaming draconian licensing on people“stealing” software (never mind that theft and copyright infringement are not just distinct areas of law, but distinct concepts), and blaming the piracy on open source software advocates. This unfairly characterizes anyone who uses Linux— the most visible target amongst open source software advocates— as someone who just wants something for nothing, regardless of the consequences. 
All open source software users and advocates, then, must be cheapskates who just want free software, and do not care about supporting the software developer. Right? Never mind the fact that a far greater percentage of open source software users are also software developers themselves than the percentage of MS Windows users who are software developers. The truth of the matter is not so simple as such accusatory statements from some of those who hold Microsoft in the highest esteem would have us believe, of course. 
Open source software users are, in fact, often quite generous, and many do their best to support the developers whose efforts they appreciate. Consider the massive sums of donations received every year by the FreeBSD Foundation, for instance. It is true that Microsoft gets more money each year, but it not only enjoys a larger installed base from which to get that money— it also gets a lot of its revenue indirectly, from the point of view of the end user.
Every time you buy a computer from a major vendor such as Dell or HP with MS Windows already installed, some of your money is going to Microsoft, even if you are only really trying to pay for the hardware and plan to install some other OS on the system once you get the machine home. Many call this somewhat hidden expense the“Microsoft tax”.
Open source software users are generally quite aware of these facts. They are probably no surprise to readers of this article, even if people who claim all open source software users are freeloaders, cheapskates, and thieves at heart refuse to believe these statements when presented to them. There is other evidence, more difficult to refute or ignore, that open source software users are generally the most generous, least freeloading software users on average. 
recent example is presented in Aaron Hastings’ discussion of the subject of Humble Frozenbyte Bundle purchase patterns, “Linux users pay more for software.” When someone pays for the software, that person gets to name a price— a “pay what you want” scheme. After the transaction, some statistics are presented showing overall buying patterns for all customers so far. As Aaron Hastings reports, the pattern looks something like this:

Slightly more than 50% of customers are MS Windows users, and they pay an average of $6.38 each. 
Mac users make up slightly less than 25% of customers, and they pay an average of $8.51 each.
Linux users also make up slightly less than 25% of customers, and they pay an average of $13.72 each.
The end result is that MS Windows users are apparently the real cheapskates, while open source software users are easily the most generous, paying more than 200% what MS Windows users are willing to pay on average.

There are two very interesting conclusions that are easy to draw from these statistics, apart from the obvious fact that MS Windows users appear more numerous than open source software and Mac users:
1. Any corporation that refuses to serve open source software markets because there’s no money in it, when there is a measurable desire for that company’s software on open source platforms, is probably run by morons.
2. Microsoft’s business model may well encourage people to behave like thieving, freeloading, antisocial cheapskates. Before objecting to that second point, consider a few simple notions that may change your mind:

Microsoft treats its customers like criminals. There is no“innocent until proven guilty” with Microsoft and other corporations that use similar business tactics; we are all guilty until we prove ourselves innocent by allowing spyware such as Windows Genuine Advantage to report back on our license compliance. Compliance enforcement often misidentifies a user as violating license terms just by replacing a failed component in a computer. Microsoft charges incredible amounts of money for software whose only benefit over software the user already owns is, all too often, the simple fact that Microsoft is still supporting the new stuff.

Many users who had no interest in MS Windows Vista were essentially“forced” to upgrade simply to get a newer version of DirectX required for certain games, for instance. Relative to many other operating systems, MS Windows’ security support from the vendor leaves something to be desired — to put it mildly.

After spending hundreds of dollars for a new MS Windows license, users can look forward to spending hundreds more on security software that consumes system resources, does not work nearly as often as we would like, and at times even behaves like malware itself. Even when using free versions of security applications, the hours spent maintaining it properly to minimize the likelihood of a security compromise are not trivial. Insult is added to injury, because much of this software is of a class not even needed on many other operating systems.
 Even as Microsoft claims its software is getting more secure, it backs its claims with such user- hostile features as User Account Control, which is so annoying that finding articles about how to turn it off to get back some lost convenience provides examples orders of magnitude more numerous than the articles one might find about how UAC protects the user. Such features tend to try to duplicate security capabilities that have existed in open source operating systems for decades, but do so in a much more intrusive, less convenient manner. In the end they still fall short as security measures because the new features are just that; features, rather than architectural laws of the operating system. All too often, getting a new version of MS Windows requires buying new hardware, adding to the cost burden of an MS Windows upgrade. 
Following an “upgrade”, it is often the case that a lot of applications the customer wants to use will no longer work. Even when getting an expensive, brand new computer to run the new MS Windows version, it is often the case that everything still runs more slowly than it did before. At the very least, using the older version would generally mean much better performance on the new hardware. Many other operating systems do not suffer that problem.
The changes in the user interface and capabilities for a new version of MS Windows imposes a learning curve very similar to that of switching to a user-friendly version of other OSes such as Mac OS X, Ubuntu Linux, and PC-BSD— two out of three of which are available for free. If someone gets a free copy of FreeBSD or Debian, uses it for a while, and decides he or she likes it, he or she can then send money to
support those organizations with monetary contributions. If the same person gets a free copy of MS Windows, it was almost certainly acquired illegally, and there is no way to choose to support the developer by paying for it after the fact without admitting criminal activity and being punished— by the complexity of the process of getting on the “right side” of the law, at minimum, if not by actual litigation or criminal prosecution.

The usage restrictions imposed by the MS Windows End User License Agreement seem tailor-made to trick people into violating its terms. In many cases, in fact, the EULA actually prohibits the user from re-installing the OS that came with a computer on a different computer, even if the original computer gets wiped clean and sold second-hand.
The possibility that Microsoft’s business model encourages people to behave that way does not in any respect mean that users of Microsoft’s software are all cheapskates. Those of us with integrity are fully capable of resisting the temptation to behave badly, even when Microsoft sweetens the deal for pirates by making non-pirates feel like criminals.
Considering these conditions of use imposed on users by strictly enforced, draconian software licensing, it should be no surprise at all that many people who use MS Windows feel encouraged to infringe copyright by pirating the operating system. The software corporation often abuses its customers, making them feel persecuted when they try to abide by the rules imposed on them. Piracy, it seems, might feel like a very liberating experience by comparison; the simple act of giving up on adherence to arbitrary and unpleasant rules might provide a rush of relief to the harried customer. Microsoft and other corporations using such business models effectively encourage people to behave like cheapskates, thieves, and freeloaders.
It should really come as no surprise that open source software users, on average, pay more than twice as much for software when given the option to pay whatever they feel like paying, given that their software choices treat them as equal partners; mi casa es su casa. In fact, if the people offering the Humble Frozenbyte Bundle had access to such information, I would bet you $50 right now that the lowest-paying Linux users were— on average — the people who had most recently made the switch from MS Windows to open source operating systems. Given time to get acclimated to their new software choices, their generosity would grow.

IT Leadership - Is it the software or the software provider that makes the difference?

I just had to share this.

A paintbrush is just that, a paintbrush. But in the right hands, it can wield art that is priceless. So goes the way of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems. They are a tool (albeit a very expensive, sophisticated one) like any other tool, but in the hands of a skilled craftsman, tremendous positive impact on an organization can be achieved.

Why is this an important point? Because time and time again, I see prospective customers looking into the depths of an ERP system demo for a capability to meet a“requirement,” but don’t use the same scrutiny when looking for the partner to implement and support the system. A reference check may be completed, but a serious discussion around ideas to IMPROVE their business does not take place. An ERP implementation team can be likened to a group of painters with brushes. They can all paint, but those with significant experience in a particular industry can leverage far more expertise wielding the same tool as another.

So my advice is this: stop paying so much attention to the system being implemented and start paying more attention to the partner being chosen. Talk to them about real-life experiences and how they have driven  significant improvements in organizations similar to yours. How have they used the capabilities in the system that they’re selling to dramatically change a business? What do their clients say about delivering business benefit? After all, you may have to upgrade or purchase a new paintbrush, but switching implementation partners can be far more painful.

By Andrew King

Of a day in a developer's life (or not!)

So, In the beginning of may I embarked on a new journey in my programming life. It was time to start learning Qt.
The journey began with a two week crash course of getting to know the Qt IDE and some of the APIs it offers. My previous C++ knowledge served as a great boost in steepening my learning curve. Last semester I had delved in to understanding the OMNET++ simulation environment and it kinda helped me understand Qt better.
As a requirement for the programme we have to develop a Qt based app and deploy it within a period of one month (read Rapid Application Development). It's been a long month I tell you.
I happened to change my application's UI a record 5 times (who does that?) and to add on that, am behind a proxy, which means no traffic can go through the simulator

All in all, It's been an enlightening journey and am not yet done. Qt is pretty amazing (that is, apart from the proxy issue thing). Am still tempted to explore animations in Qt Quick (the tutorials are amazing).

But it has come at price. Haven.t watched a movie for a while now. Heard MIB3 and Avenger's out :-D. I'll catch up at the right time. For now, I think this obligation is enough for now. One more week.... one more week... one... more..... wee......k.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Well, here goes something.... It's been a long time since I wrote on my own blog. It's approximately 1:27 in the AM, cant sleep and no, there's no caffeine in my bloodstream. totally natural me :-) Am sitting in front of this computer thinking, 'how did it come to this?' Don't be mistaken, I really love my life, totally enjoy it. But it's that season when every day, at about 1 PM the migraines kick in. Now you know what this means, if you don't, well.... just google it! You know you can type nonsense on your keyboard an still google will answer it for you ha? No? Sorry there's no GOOGLE 101, sorry. The migraines means I have to slow down on my habits of churning code and climbing that hill known as a learning curve. God!! I hate it when that happens. But you know what the rainy season is almost here and my spectacles will be replaced soon so, hurray! Another shot at my life infront of a computer for as long as I can stay awake! I'll assume that's it for tonight coz I'll go on till morning. On other news, am an information junkie - Back to business!!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The *iHub_ Robot Initiative.

Since its founding over a year ago, *iHub_ has
changed the Nairobi IT scene completely. The
place is full of developers, creatives and VC’s
looking to form partnerships and transform the
local IT scene. Partnerships have been formed,
deals have been struck, and the place is abuzz
with new ideas all the time.
Since its inception, *iHub_ has been focused on
software development (Specifically on mobile and
apps) and this has been a huge success. *iHub_ is
now looking to replicate this success to the
computer hardware sphere, and more specifically
in robotics.
You may ask, why robots? Well, it depends how
you look at robots. Most people think about
robots as the ones seen in the Transformer
movie. But no, robots are actually more simple
that that. Any device that uses a computer chip to
perform a task is considered a robot. Just to give
some examples, traffic lights are a form of robots
(Actually in South Africa, traffic lights are called
ROBOTS). Another example is a digital power
meter. It may not look like a computer, but the
chip in the meter qualifies it as a robot. A personal
computer is also a type of robot, albeit one that
needs human interaction to function. More
familiar examples may be the extra-terrestrial
vehicles on Mars or satellites in space.
Where does *iHub_ come in, and why is *iHub_
getting into robots? This question is best
answered by looking where the
telecommunication industry is headed. M-PESA is
widely recognized as having a trans-formative
impact in Kenya. It solved a need many people
had and it solved it in a very simple and efficient
One of the key things about M-PESA is that it is a
software solution that runs on a mobile platform.
By combining hardware and mobile, we take the
mobile revolution to the next phase. Also, due to
the fact that the backbone of the Kenyan
economy is agriculture, farmers interact with
farm machines and equipment on a daily basis.
By combining these two together, we approach
exciting possibilities.
A few examples could be ‘smart farms’ that alert
rice farmers when their water reaches a certain
level, to prevent over irrigation, or a device that
milks cows daily and sends farmers text
messages about how many litres their cows
have collected. These solutions will result from an
interaction of hardware with the mobile platform.
This is what the *iHub_ robot initiative hopes to
achieve. By fostering programmers with a
hardware and mobile background, we can come
up with solutions that could have a
transformative impact in Kenya and beyond.
Over the next few months, *iHub_ hopes to
increase and develop hardware programming
talent to come up with solutions that will
hopefully have as big an impact as M-PESA.
Caine K. Wanjau for *iHub_ Nairobi.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The unexpected.

I really didn't expect it to be this soon but serious and demanding responsibilities have come my way. Am kinda loving it. My schedule is real tight and I hope it won't jeopardize my relationship with friends and family. It is exiting and am doing what i love most - programming and teamwork. 

About Me

Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya
A techie who loves realism and life's simplicity