20 Mar 2006 Ankh   » (Master)

Back from travel to France (W3C Tech Plenary) and California (Unicode conference). The Unicode conference reminds me (it doesn't take much to remind me) of some of the work that is still needed to tame fonts on Linux.

Afterwards, spent some time putting up more scans from old books on the Web. I did some reasonably high resolution scans of some 16th century type (2400dpi I think, I forget) but the files tend to be too large for comfortable Web viewing or downloading. I'm willing to digitise more type samples if they are of use to anyone, and also of course to host them, together with metadata and a search interface. I'm more likely to get requests for pretty initials (drop caps) or for castle plans, though, most of the time.

I wanted to play with the Google map interface to try and provide another interface to locations depicted in the images, but I haven't yet found the time.

titus mentioned John Udell's blog entry quoting R0ml as saying that open source means you don't need standards, because you take away the concept of ownership of a core technology. This is a bogus argument in oh-so-many ways. First, being open doesn't always mean that the core technology is not owned by some group or individual. A fork isn't always feasible. But that minor quibble aside, standards do not address the issue of who owns technology. They are about having multiple implementations that work together.

Standards are the reasons I can list over 100 open source IRC clients that work together, or that there can be so many different clients for the World Wide Web on so many different sorts of hardware and for so many environments.

We need both open implementations and open specifications, and we need specifications to be freely available (as in beer) so that people can afford to implement to the spec directly.

zanee asked about how to go about improving an open source project where the design may be questionable but the maintainers and developers don't admit a problem.

The act of wondering how to act is a necessary first step, and you've taken it :-) (I sound like a horrorscope from a cheap paper).

It's often a case of having to be very tactful, and also having to get the developers to want to make the changes, and being confrontational is unlikely to do that. Supplying a patch may help, as might convincing your company that they need faster time-to-market/turnaround, or whatever their jargon happens to be, and that it's unreasonable for the software to take 14 hours to run. The first approach gets you working with the developers, and the second gets pressure applied on them to improve the product.

I should note, by the way, that there is nothing about writing object-oriented code in Perl that prevents you fron use strict, and also that Devel::DProf should certainly work, although there are problems with thread-enabled Perl on some platforms that might conceivably interfere, and also native (xs) method calls might be a problem. You may find use strict; no strict vars; of use; see perldoc page for strict.

Your rant about how "people off the street" should be able to compile some complex Linux package is not I think well spoken. If software is too difficult to configure by the people who intend to use it, it's the software's problem. Every time.

vab, welcome to MIT; it's a fun place to work.

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