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Comment Well these people are what are missing! (Score 1) 769

The open source community is essentially a huge collaborative composition of people with various skills and interests that drive the results in a direction that is essentially a function of all those participants.

So, if you are some clever blogger who points out that the documentation is lacking for a certain group of people then the reason for it is obvious. None of the active participating components are people who care about the type of documentation.

The fundamental problem with this style of production is that only the manufacturers will be consistently pleased with the results. Today many people are interested in the software but unable or just unwilling to participate in its creation. That includes documentation of course. So until they are able to participate somehow, their interests will rarely, if ever, be represented.

In a way this is where commercial entities could really benefit this system. A commercial entity has interests beyond their own. In fact, in most cases their interests for the production are entirely outside their personal interests. A commercial entity that wants to rely on, say, KMail for their mail client in some one-off OS based on Linux may have a customer-base that is largely non-technical. Perhaps they are selling network kiosks to elderly or something. They will be particularly interested in proper documentation or help systems that appeal to those highly uninitiated.

But what happens with those actual real commercial entities with real needs for these types of missing components? It seems that they have a tendency to branch and the work they do that would benefit the average consumer of this software never ends up back in the main lines. Maybe because the mainline maintainers don't care, don't like it, or maybe because of licensing issues or perhaps... perhaps nobody gave it any thought yet.

At any rate, it still boils down to the same thing. The a classic "OSS" community developed project will generally only have features that are desired by the contributors. If you're lucky you'll have some contributors that seek to look out for others' interests but that seems to be incredibly rare in this subculture.

If maintainers of software cited for lacking this kind of documentation care about this issue, they should be proactive about it. There is an entire class of concerns that will rarely be raised by the sort of person able and willing to contribute to an OSS project. These concerns include aspects of UI design that benefit less technically savvy individuals and, of course, user friendly documentation. If the maintainers want to excel in the production of their software they need to reach out for these types of features. Find people who can provide the materials but don't know or want to know the processes involved in making the contributions themselves. Find commercial entities that have already done the work and try to integrate what they produce, or ask them to do it.

Comment Re:What do you think the government is? (Score 1) 249

"The key difference between government and corporate power: governments are ultimately answerable to their citizens, whereas corporations are ultimately answerable to their shareholders. That means among other things that corporations can and will ruin the lives of their employees or residents of the surrounding area (via pollution mostly) if it increases their profits, can and will bilk their customers if they can get away with it, and don't really mind a large population of unemployed, broke, desperate people."

Sure, corporations need to increase profits, but that gives customers power. If a corporation is doing something you don't agree with, you can go to another one. This is the great thing about the free market.

It seems people are against monopolies, but have no problems when the government, a large monopoly that can play by different rules and has virtually no regulation does the exact same thing.

When a government controls something, they have the ultimate power because if you don't do what they say, you are subject to fines or possibly jail time. No corporation has this power. In addition to this, governments have no incentive to innovate. They are going to get your tax dollars either way.

They don't mind unemployed, broke, and desperate people? Now I know you are nuts. Corporations aren't drug dealers. They want people with money to be able to buy their products.

Some corporations "bilk their customers". However, if this happens enough, they get a bad reputation and people stop buying from them.

Government regulation caused our mortgage meltdown., not the lack of. Take a look at the community reinvestment act, the predictions made in 1995, and what happened to our economy.

Comment Re:Other Applications (Score 1) 112

Thanks Metamechanical - I skipped the last couple of paragraphs of the interview. As a UI designer, I still think folks are getting a little tunnel visioned on this. To me, it's almost like saying the mouse can only be used for menu opening or something. I think there are a lot of possibilities here that we will soon discover.

Comment Re:It's all just posturing. (Score 1) 583

The problem with systems (such as Windows) that do not have a good central repository is that users will immediately start searching the Internet at random for their software. Once installed, most of that software (assuming it's not malware) either bogs down the system with its own updater or gets hopelessly out of date and never gets patches to fix any security holes in it.

Actually, the problem with systems (such as Windows) is that when they try to do such things, they get charged with antitrust, get accused of 'bundelling' and 'stifling competition' and all sorts of crap like that.

Comment Re:Must be deployed only with court orders. (Score 2, Insightful) 179

This is exactly what Liberty will say.
The response will be "You would say that. You probably have explosives / children / real butter in your house.If you have nothing to hide, you've nothing to fear."

I think I might start buying up old microwave ovens and putting the mesh from the windows under my wallpaper.

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.