Older blog entries for cinamod (starting at number 87)

Thanksgiving

Was my nephew's 2nd birthday yesterday, but unfortunately, I couldn't make the trip down to Phildadelphia. Ruth and I started the day off spending 2.5 hours at a nearby homeless shelter in Cambridge, MA. We cooked some stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, baby carrots, gravy, and other things for the expected ~100 guests

Gnome Foundation Elections

If things go as planned, elections start tomorrow, November 25th, and run until December 9th. I'll kiss your baby if you'd like, but if you'd probably be more interested in reading my reponses to the questions. What follows are threads with all the candidates' responses:

[1] [2] [3]

If you're a member of the Foundation - no matter who you vote for, be sure to vote :)

Christian, while your poll hypothesis is likely true, turn the situation around. If a 25 year-old male teacher was in a position of authority over a 14 year old female student and had sex with her, his ass would be going to jail for a long time, even if that teacher was People's 2005 "sexiest man alive," Matthew McConaughey. And rightly so.

Regardless of the boy's wishes, he was not legally capable of providing consent. The teacher was in a position of power, knew what she did was wrong, and did it anyway. Her sentence of house arrest and probabation is a mockery of our legal system. Attractive 25 year-old blonde women can date a lot better men than 14 year-olds. Something is clearly wrong with this woman.

Oh no, Marc! You just accidentally voted for Pat Buchanan!

Gnome Foundation Candidacy Announcement

(mostly for readers of planet.gnome.org)

I am a long-term member of the GNOME community and employed by the Teragram Corporation (who are neither affiliated with nor interested in GNOME). I maintain several largish GNOME and non-GNOME modules such as librsvg and AbiWord.

As Dave Neary so recently pointed out, I can be pedantic sometimes. I promise to be a helpfully pedantic board member, ensuring that things get done on time and that they get done right. I subscribe to the Python mindset. I believe in forming rough consensus and acting by convention whenever appropriate. My presence within the board will hopefully be one of mediating the board's many goals, injecting a healthy dose of realism into them, building a roadmap to those goals, and then making sure that we succeed. To do so, the board will need increased transparency and greater accountability. I feel that these traits will become increasingly important with the transition from 11 to 7 board members and that I can deliver on my goals.

75 Word Summary:

I promise to be a helpfully pedantic board member, ensuring that things get done on time and that they get done right. I believe in forming rough consensus and acting by convention. My contribution will be one of mediating the board's many goals, injecting realism, building a roadmap to those goals, making sure that we succeed, and making our successes/failures transparent. These traits will become increasingly important with the transition from 11 to 7 board members.

17 Nov 2005 (updated 17 Nov 2005 at 23:38 UTC) »
Gnome Foundation Elections

I'm looking forward to voting in the upcoming elections. I've emailed maybe a little too much about it lately. I know that I'm being a pedant, but in a democracy, elections must be "above board" and beyond reproach. It's absolutely necessary to be a pedant, especially with the new foundation's power being concentrated in 4 fewer people's control. I'd like to thank David Neary, Vincent Untz and others for their hard work and for helping to clear up some issues that I and others had.

Currently, only 8 members' nominations have gone through to the foundation-announce list (as required), while 12 have gone to foundation-list (which is not mentioned in the election rules). At least one (Luis') seems to have been caught by a mailing-list admin bot.

The recent foundation referendum was a non-binding "advisory" referendum to reduce the number of board members from 11 to 7. Even though I disagree with the outcome and voted against it, I must and will abide by it. However, I don't think that enough mention was made that the board had voted to accept the referendum's outcome, considering that their decision to abide by it was apparently held in a private meeting before the vote. It is not completely illogical to think that a non-binding advisory vote will necessarily be honored or carry any real weight. See also: US Congress' countless non-binding resolutions to the President.

Given the above confusion and Tim Ney's recent departure from the Foundation, I didn't readily know how many board members there would be in the upcoming term. It appears that there will be 7, and thank Dave for clearing that up. I apologize for not investigating this further before emailing the list. I acted perhaps a bit too rashly to emails by Jeff Waugh and Dave. The results were finalized and mentioned in a few places, though because the "GNOME Foundation Membership & Elections Committee" and not "the board" said that there will be 7 seats instead of 11, I was confused as to the official-ness of the advisory referendum.

Finally, the recent referendum and upcoming election was/will be conducted by Vincent, a staunch supporter of the referendum and first-time board candidate. Vincent is a great guy, I congratulate him for running, and he will probably be getting my vote. He appears to be doing everything within his power to train others how to run the election before the polls close on December 9. I have 100% confidence in him and don't allege that he'll do (or has done) anything to effect the outcome of these votes, other than be the best candidate he can be :) But in an election, one must avoid even the spectre of impropriety. Our geek community doesn't tolerate Diebold making traditional voting machines, in large part because of their partisan donations/interests. We shouldn't hold ourselves to a lower standard just because Vincent is our friend and a top-notch guy.

I know that I'm being a pedant. But the question is, why aren't you? If you care enough to vote, care a little more to make sure that your vote really counts. Cheers and good luck to all the candidates. Let's have a great election!

13 Nov 2005 (updated 13 Nov 2005 at 23:36 UTC) »

True enough, Havoc, but I don't see any of these alternative players advertizing in the Superbowl, on busses, inking deals with U2 for exclusive roll-outs, etc. Apple's advertizing strategy and budget clearly count for something. To put this in perspective, I haven't seen a Cowon ad outside of Planet Gnome :)

I don't think that in the US, you can compete with the iPod on "it just works" because people will say "there's already a product that 'just works' out there, and it's called an iPod." They'll just buy the real thing instead. Apple's huge pre-existing marketshare and public perception is an enormous hurdle to overcome. The "dazzle them with features" approach might be the best way to wrestle back some of Apple's marketshare.

I can tell you that the iAudio's and iRiver's UI "just work", regardless of whether that's mentioned prominently on their sites or not. Also, remember that this is an Asian company. In say, Tokyo, people will buy gadgets like these because it can play videos while cooking your dinner. It's all about understanding your target audience and marketing your goods appropriately. And I give Apple ample props for their mad marketing skills, but not for their inferior player.

13 Nov 2005 (updated 13 Nov 2005 at 20:22 UTC) »
Yep, HP, that play button on my iAudio X5 is sure hard to find. I have a hard time listening to all of my music.

The iPod is a killer app because of herd mentality at least as much as because it's a well-designed device. To be part of the in-crowd you must own an iPod and not an iPod-alike. Couple that with a multi-million dollar advertizing budget, a more "exclusive" price (cf. Luis Vuitton bags), and Apple's public preconception as a "cool" company, and you'll end up with umpteen million iPods sold. Apple's biggest "innovation" was making the iPod synonymous with "portable music player".

If iRiver, Creative, iAudio, or anyone else had half the pre-existing clout or marketing budget that Apple has today, the iPod wouldn't be so lonely at the top. Apple's marketing folks did a great job peddling a relatively expensive, feature-poor product with a "good enough" interface. They knew their market well and siezed the opportunity. Credit where credit is due.

Taking the plunge...

I decided last weekend at Luis' that I really wanted to take the LSAT. I've been waivering for quite some time. But no guts, no glory. So today I signed up for the December 3rd examination which gives me exactly 1 month to prepare. I hope that I'm not shortchanging myself too badly - I've taken a sample test and I did pretty well. The question is, will I do well enough a month from now to get into my school of choice? Wish me luck.

Luis, that's why I (tried to) framed the bulk of argument around RTF and not DOC :)

I don't buy your "more competition around open standards" argument as presented. To use your examples, there aren't more viable Web Browsers vying for my HTML-viewing marketshare than there are office suites capable of consuming RTF. There aren't loads of Gimps and Photoshops competing for my JPEG editing needs. There is competition around JPEG with digital cameras, but that is just an interchange format for the internal, proprietary RAW representation, just like RTF is in the Word Processing arena.

There's roughly the same order of magnitude of competition around all of these aforementioned standards, be they open standards or de-facto ones. Open Standards are good. But when they reinvent the wheel, they're somewhat less-good.

28 Oct 2005 (updated 28 Oct 2005 at 03:14 UTC) »
Luis, the problem with that is that we already have at least 2 "standards" for Word Processing formats already - DOC and RTF. I don't see what supporting another standard buys us. The great thing about standards is that everyone has one...

Microsoft and Apple already support RTF in the core OS (and have for a while. Apple's Cocoa framework supports DOC too). All the existing WPs support one if not both of those formats. We already have our interchange formats. DOC may be hard to emit and consume, but RTF is no better or worse than ODF. RTF already is the Esperanto (or lingua-franca, depending on your viewpoint) of the Word Processing world. If we all started speaking ODF instead of RTF tomorrow, pragmatically, nothing really changes.

That's because there already is a standard around which all the WPs measure themselves. And for better or worse, that standard is Microsoft Word. And that standard's file format is RTF/DOC. The WPs of the world are largely competing on quality and not feature creep, built around those standards. In this mindset, all ODF amounts to is a few thousand more lines of code that you'll need to write and support. But having your potential innovations constrained by a large, unresponsive standards body sounds less-than-ideal. As someone who voted "YES" on the recent referendum, I think that you'd show a little sympathy there :) I don't think that we've reached the be-all and end-all of WPs, and any such standard would have to be aware of that.

That said, file formats are boring, just like TCP is. You'll eventually reach some "good enough" state, like RTF or ODF. Like TCP, the cool things are the apps built on top of the formats. Any app that can emit ODF can emit RTF just as easily. Why more don't, I honestly don't know. As more people start using it, I'll continue consume it as happily as I consume DOC and RTF today - they're not going away anytime soon. But I do know that I'd be touting OOo's near feature-parity with Word a lot louder and ODF's importance as a format a lot less if I were Sun. But that's just me.

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