Older blog entries for cinamod (starting at number 37)

Marc makes a good point in his most recent blog entry.

Simply put, too many "squeaky wheels" like Eugenia have forgotten that, whenever they ask that a bug be fixed or a new feature be added, they're asking a developer for a favor. My mother taught me that when you ask for a favor:

  • You ask politely, which may mean that you have to ask that person in a special manner (i.e. via bugzilla)
  • You can't be overly-demanding, otherwise you'll be ignored (or worse...)
  • If the favor gets done at all, it gets done on the favor-giver's timeframe
  • If that person is unwilling to fulfill your request, say "thank you" and either go ask someone else, do it yourself, or forget about it entirely
  • If/when the favor is fulfilled, express some modicum of gratitude to its giver.

I guess that it all boils down to the adage that "you'll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."

I guess my problem is that, while I know Eugenia is a troll, she's brought her own soapbox and megaphone and she's pontificating from on top of it. And people are listening and even agreeing with her. And that really irks me.

The sheer reality of the situation is that your license to use our software doesn't include support. It doesn't include bugfixes. It doesn't entitle you to enhancements. You didn't pay for these things. And you get what you pay for.

By and large, it's not the developers who are screaming from the rooftops that "OSS is a better development model!" or "OSS helps the users out so much more than proprietary software." Those are the words of fanboys, "moguls" and latchers-on. They don't speak for me.

By and large, we developers are here doing our thing because we like doing it. We really do like when others find our stuff to be useful - so much so that we might start paying a good deal of attention to what they're saying. But that doesn't mean that users get to decide how I spend my hour between getting home from work and passing out.

Remember that being a prat makes us like doing our thing less. And that means that not only is whining not getting you anywhere, it's doing both you and the community a disservice. And that won't work out well for anyone involved.

That's not to say that a non-developer can't complain from time to time, file bugs, or request enhancements. In fact, these things are encouraged, provided he/she follows my mother's protocol. It's heart-warming when I see how a bugfix or enhancement helps a user.

But you must remember that when you ask for help, you must tread lightly. You must criticize constructively rather than destructively. All told, you'd do well to heed my mother's advice. Keep a sense of perspective. Read the Expectations document that Jesper Skov and I wrote four years ago. Take a deep breath, and move on. Life's too short.

Luis makes a good point, not much unlike one I made 2 weeks ago on the AbiWord list.

From what I've seen of Pages' UI, it's awful. But Apple gets (at least) one thing right - its users deserve a streamlined, task-oriented interface.

This is a niche that I believe Abi, Gnumeric, and company can thrive in. I believe that we can provide a more streamlined, refined experience than the competition. Word and Excel are clunky behemoths, and OOo is orders of magnitude worse. We can do better.

Pages strives for minimalism, and that's not bad in and of itself. In fact, I think that - more often than not - minimalism is a virtue. I just think that Apple got it wrong. My intuition is that they chose the wrong tasks to orient their application around. But hey, Apple has millions to spend on usability studies, and all I have is a girfriend that yells at me when something breaks :)

It took a bit of time and effort on the part of myself and Martin Sevior, but AbiWord now features a working grammar-checking plugin for English, based on an adapation I did on CMU's link grammar project. The plugin should be considered alpha-quality at the moment. We're contemplating building some sort of plugin loader compatible with OOo's lingucomponent, if they've managed to build a grammar checker yet (this page suggests that they haven't yet, but it's likely outdated).

As always, screenshots speak louder than words, so here's AbiWord 2.3 doing grammar-checking ala MSWord (i.e. ugly green squiggles):

here

2 Feb 2005 (updated 3 Feb 2005 at 04:40 UTC) »

Very happy to be in school again, even though I'm still largely burnt-out from last semester's 1st Amendment bedlam. I really enjoyed taking The Technologies and Politics of Control with Luis last night. (FYI - my profs are from the same Berkman Center @ Harvard that Larry Lessig hails from).

In some ways the course parallels my GOVT S-1130 class, albeit with a much more upbeat spin. In GOVT S-1130, I was the only person in a 70 person class with trademark or copyright claims. In a 70 person class, I was the only content-producer. I was the outsider. And it felt quite odd. Oddly enough, I was also by far the most left-libertarian person in the room when it came to IP law, even though I theoretically had the most to "lose" due to loose IP laws. Quite a conundrum.

Even though we've only has one class so far, LSTU E-120 is shaping up to be quite a different experience. The teachers appear to have a strong libertarian POV when it comes to IP law, which is refreshing (Unlike Luis, I purposefully avoided the use of "utopian", because while their views appear to coincide with my vision of IP utopia, I'm positive that they don't coincide with Jack Valenti's or Hillary Rosen's).

Unlike the majority of my fine elected representatives, these guys seem to have a good grasp on things. They're not the stereotypical lawyers-turned-politicians who pass laws like CAN-SPAM as THE solution to SPAM on the internet. One of the largest gripes I have with legislature is their reliance on law to solve the world's problems - the "if you give a man a hammer, every problem becomes a nail" mentality. My professors seem to think that some combination of law, code, societal norms, and market influence are a better and more comprehensive solution to today's IP "problems". It's certainly not a popular view in the marketplace, legislature, or law circles. But my profs seem like they're working to change things for the better, and I have to say that I admire them for it.

Ruth's witty comment of the day: Can Denny's cooks really call themselves chefs?

Jakub:

Librsvg has some support for the <switch> SVG attribute and I plan on fully supporting it in the future. It may be possible to create a few SVG switch extensions based on the target icon's size or resolution to accomplish the effect that you desire.

Christian:

Win those unappreciative voters back! Organize a fact-finding mission! Vote Quimby!

Bryan:

The monkey referred to in the UK Mirror article is George W. Bush. As is evident from the second paragraph, Ms. Rice is the monkey's trainer.

I personally read the Doonesbury comic with the President saying "Careful, Brown Sugar." If so, it serves to demean the President and not Ms. Rice. Even though the speech bubble is on the right - where Ms. Rice's voice was in the previous 3 strips - I cannot fathom why she'd call the President "Brown Sugar." The comic only makes sense if that's the President's line.

One Oliphant comic shows Ms. Rice effectively being the monkey's trainer yet again (Bush: "aye aye, cap'n"). She's telling the President to go "further right." The following comic shows her parroting the President, which Ms. Rice could rightfully be accused of doing. Mr. Powell strayed far from the inner sanctum at times. Ms. Rice has yet to do so. Ms. Rice as a parrot is not Jim Crow chanting "Yes, Massa! Whatever you say, Massa!"

As for Danziger, it is arguably racist. It strongly plays off of African American stereotypes and is demeaning toward Ms. Rice. But there was a lot of double-speak from the administration leading up to and following the war in Iraq. Ms. Rice was guilty of her fair share. The cartoon undeniably is harsh. I'd much rather talk about its content (that is, the double-speak) than be distracted by the manner in which that content is presented. I'd argue that Danziger should have chosen a different picture to convey his message. I'd also argue that Limbaugh is doing some hand waving to pull a rabbit out of his hat.

I'm not trying to forgive racism. It's abhorrent. But, in my opinion, only one of those 5 pieces uses race to demean Ms. Rice. It is not racist to criticize someone of a different race. It is racist when you use race as the means to the end. Only Danziger's piece accomplishes that.

18 Nov 2004 (updated 18 Nov 2004 at 01:38 UTC) »

For the past few years, I've been on the fence about running for a position on the Gnome Foundation. This year, I got off my butt and decided to do something about it. For those of you who are interested in that sort of thing, here is a link to the original 10 questions, and a link to my answers and a well thought-out opinion of why you should vote for me.

Tonight I'm tasked with writing a US Supreme Court opinion on the case of Oregon vs. Smith - a case that pits free exercise of religion vs. the government's interest in "the war on drugs" (specifically, sacramental uses of peyote by Native Americans). I'm having a tough time saying much, though. I wish to dissent with Justice Scalia's opinion. The dissents offered by Justices O'Connor, Blackmun, and Souter are nothing short of brilliant. The case spawned a national movement and ultimately President Clinton and Congress passed the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" in November, 1993. It's hard to say something new or original when so many brilliant, articulate people have made your case for you already. Must... resist urge... to photocopy... Souter's dissent....

Also, if Jeff would be so kind as to update my hacker head on planet.gnome.org. Thanks.

Colin:

That'll teach me to have external dependencies... Reverting my previous change. I'm going to file a bug against Pango, unless you'd rather just poke Owen. Bad Owen. No cookie :)

Colin:

That's not quite right. librsvg is entirely threadsafe. The GDK_PIXBUF_FORMAT_THREADSAFE flag that was introduced in the GTK 2.5 development series isn't set. That's fixed now.

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