Tugger the SLUGger!SLUG Mailing List Archives

Re: [chat] Re: [SLUG] Windoze XP "registration" procedure

On Wed, Oct 31, 2001 at 11:21:53AM +1100, invisible ink wrote:
> begin Jobst Schmalenbach quotation:
> > If every company in the world would spend some time writing, enhancing or
> > bug-reporting we would not need ANY BROAD RANGE software companies
> > (meaning office suits, OS's etc stuff that everyone needs) AT ALL.
> In my own little world of Free Software, this may be true. In the real
> world? Probably slightly short of bloody ridiculous.
> Discuss.
> ;)


In "THE REAL WORLD" everything Jobst said is doubly true and more over.

You may *think* you need only generic tools, but it's a LIE. It's a lie
propagated by those who sell them, who hold onto proprietary standards.

Let's look at calendaring, everyone's favourite beef.

Calendaring, lately, often comes up as the main reason people are not
migrating away from Outlook. The fact that people already have entrenched
outlook-based systems that it is hard to migrate away from is worrying
enough, but lets ignore that. The reason they cannot move away from
Outlook calendaring is that the calendaring protocol is proprietary.
Because it is proprietary, people must use Microsoft tools to access
the calendaring -- they must use Microsoft servers, they must use
the client software that Microsoft provide, and when you do that, "oh
it all works seamlessly, hooray".

Well, it may work seamlessly, but does it work optimally? What are we
missing out on?

If calendaring used an open protocol, there could be a calendaring
industry. It would be viable for third parties to build calendaring
tools. You could set up a third party calendaring helper site. You
could -- with no financial barrier -- build standard calendaring into
the new handheld device you are manufacturing. You could integrate
calendaring into your online reminder service, into your online
retail service (eg. "send flowers to this person on her birthday")
and customers could access that from whatever damn device you chose.
Community groups could schedule meetings using the open calendaring
protocol and members would be able to synchronise to those dates
seamlessly. Sports teams could advertise their game times and locations
in a manner that fans could merge with their personal calendars.


By holding on to and promoting this proprietary standard, Microsoft are
keeping an entire point of integration under their control and forcing
people to only use their generic calendaring tools -- which are well
good enough for booking an appointment with your boss, but little else.

Word Processors?

Jeff, how much easier would office automation and "corporate memory" type
systems be with customised, structured documents? Free software people
are really getting into structured document formats: SGML, XML, using
various special purpose DTDs. We could well have had this world, that we
are now starting to see, ten years ago if the big app manufacturers hadn't
painted us into thinking we need generic, proprietary word processors.
Next time you're looking at a directory full of .doc files and you'd
like to extract everything Jim wrote about the MegaWidget product, be sure
to thank Microsoft for defending such a fricking useless proprietary

Anyway, the point is that we shouldn't just sit around ranting and
complaining, we should be writing apps and protocols and making the world a
damn better place. Don't be afraid to turn your back on the crap that's out
there because we can do better. Take Jobst's advice, fix bugs, send patches,
write code, write docs, do whatever you can, your efforts will be rewarded
over and over in the long run.

 -> A bugfix a day keeps the daemons away.