Monday, February 23, 2009

Sigh... Time for a Good Rant!,139023769,339294810,00.htm

Okay, anyone bothering to read this, listen up. Windows 7 is a real threat, KDE 4 is making real inroads for GUI usability issues, and ZDnet is a bunch of idiots for not passing that knowledge along. Here's another one: hardcore Windows gamers, shut the hell up. I get that you HAVE to have the latest and greatest titles running at optimal efficiency, and that even a two-day wait (take a gander at the WINE AppDB times on major titles some time) would make you commit seppuku. The world doesn't begin and end at a damn EXE. Don't get me wrong here, I think the average computer user wouldn't know Linux from a hole in the wall, but the simple fact of the matter is that you guys are in the minority. The average user just wants to email, type, and maybe watch a few DVDs or kick back to some tunes. Anyone that thinks Linux can't do this - and do this easily - obviously has ignored distributions like Ubuntu and Mint, as well as the progress on Firefox, Evolution, OpenOffice, mplayer, VLC, amarok, gtkpod, and a whole host of others. The ignorance of those who not only desire, but demand the latest gaming titles should not be used to justify the dismissal of throngs of technological neophytes.

Where is Linux failing? Gamer fanboys who honestly have nothing better to do than criticize anything that isn't Microsoft's latest pandering to their interests. Incidentally, Gabe Newell - that name should be familiar to anyone playing ANYTHING based on DirectX right now - blasted Microsoft for locking DX10 to Vista. You remember Vista, right? The bloated turd that took another few hundred megs worth of a six-month patching effort to be considered reasonably usable?

Where is Linux succeeding? The server room, and the desktop is next. To hell with your pissant laptop (mine worked after some futzing around with ndiswrapper for wireless, which really ISN'T as big a deal as some might say, and certainly less strenous than trying to get the drivers for that cheap, junky MP3 watch you just scavenged off Lian-Li to do their job), the future of Linux is on professional workstations, a realm which is held by Microsoft in homes, and Apple in any serious A/V studio.

The simple fact of the matter is that change is around the next bend, and that scares the fanboys, who have to keep moving the goalposts for adoption farther and farther back. Should Blackcomb/Vienna live up to publicised DRM shortcomings, will they then still back Microsoft over a simple majority, rather than a complex one that discards several other players?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Spotlight: Taurus (Ubuntu Forums)

In light of my last post, I'm considering making this a monthly "feature" of sorts. Each month, I intend to highlight the parts of the Linux community that seem to be working (to some extent), and exactly what they're doing right. This month, I've selected Taurus of Ubuntu Forums to receive this honor. Okay okay, he's just another Linux nerd, right? Well, I think you should see for yourself - he's not condescending, he knows the subject matter, and he's genuinely helpful. This is the perfect example of what Linux support should be; were I to nominate him for specific support teams (see my previous post), he'd be up for General Implementation (Thorough) with potential inclusion in a Java Implementation Team and Drive Configuration Team.

Taurus, we salute you!

Profile | Contributions

Monday, February 2, 2009

What's wrong with Ubuntuforums?

Well, in short, nothing's wrong with Ubuntuforums; on the other hand, everything's wrong with Ubuntuforums.

Say what?

There's nothing wrong with a large community of people attempting to help one another out with an alien technology. Absolutely nothing wrong whatsoever. However, the problem exists where each member is considered as credible as the next in all given subjects, since there are multiple ways of getting things done in Linux and a number of ways to find out the solution to any given problem. There is a fundamental flaw that needs to be addressed here. Every human being is physically capable of discovering some way of making brain surgery work, regardless of what impediments they might otherwise have in life. Does that mean all people are well-suited to being brain surgeons? Absolutely not. Some are better suited to mechanical work, and still others are more adept at handling social issues. This is why we have Presidents, technicians, and grocery baggers. So what happens when everyone tries to solve the problems of others with no central authority for the relative validity of those "solutions"? In short, Ubuntuforums.

That being said, there are a few basic steps that can be addressed to improve the overall workflow on Ubuntuforums, some of which Canonical has already addressed in the formation of certain core teams. Here is my proposal: take this to its logical end, with teams that have greater experience with certain parts of the system being differed to first. Here's an example to see my point:

Current situation: Sally is having issues with her BlueTooth connection between her cellular phone and PC. She enters Ubuntuforums and posts a question regarding the issue. A number of replies are issued, with everything from a really technical answer to a simple "change your distribution". The actual answer that she needs is eventually lost in the flurry of frustrated replies, where insults get levelled. The answer may be elsewhere on the forums, but she never sees it. Sally leaves the Ubuntu community, frustrated and confused at the complete lack of help even though somebody posted the "right" answer.

Proposed situation: Sally is having issues with her BlueTooth connection between her cellular phones and PC. She enters Ubuntuforums and posts a question regarding the issue. A number of replies are issued, with everything from a really technical answer to a simple "change your distribution". A member of the BlueTooth stack team notices the issue, fixes it, and top-posts a solution to her issue and the thread is closed; failing that, a conversation begins between Sally and the BlueTooth stack team with appropriate information being provided to fix her issue; failing even that, the issue is handed to the BlueTooth implementation team, who works with Sally to attempt to solve her issue. When all else fails, the continuing dialog between Sally, the teams, and the general public attempts to find a solution to Sally's issue. That way, everyone can contribute, but people will be looking to people with experience in a particular field first. Once an acceptable answer to the issue is discovered, it is top-posted and the thread is closed.

The basic concept here is that discussions that are vital to development can take place, but the solutions are made obvious as soon as they're available. Perhaps that can make Ubuntuforums a nicer, more informative place to visit for all.