The problems with Ubuntu's Amazon results legal notice
Oct 16, 2012 GMT
Every Ubuntu release seems to have its own controversy. For Ubuntu 12.10, codenamed Quantal Quetzal, that controversy is the inclusion of results from Amazon when you use the dash for searching. Thanks to the controversy, this feature has been heavily modified. However the legal notice that has been add as one of those modifications is as much cause for concern as the feature itself.
To be fair, Ubuntu has shown many signs of listening to the complaints. Amazon search results can now be toggled off in the Privacy settings, and the feature now uses... more »
Ada Lovelace, Technical Writer
Oct 11, 2012 GMT
Ada Lovelace is often credited with being the first computer programmer. However, a few dissenters gleefully debunk this claim, insisting that she merely organized Charles Babbage's notes. Trying to evaluate these conflicting claims, I realized suddenly that, even if the debunkers are right, Lovelace should still be called the first technical writer -- a role that deserves equal credit, and no less so for being frequently under-valued.
The controversy about Lovelace's status as a programmer centers on her more »
Features vs. Benefits
Sep 30, 2012 GMT
The other day, I received an announcement about a new distribution. That's not unusual; I receive announcements about new software each week. But what struck me about this one was that, while the announcement mentioned a few new features, it gave no reason why I should care about them as either a reviewer or a user. As a result, it failed to interest me in the distribution, and the sender of the announcement might have saved his efforts.
Or, to put the situation into marketing terms, the announcement mentioned features when it should have been talking about... more »
Ubuntu, Function and Fee
Sep 23, 2012 GMT
Ubuntu has a history of trying to profit from the desktop. But its latest announcement that shopping suggestions would be integrated into the next version of the Unity desktop is proving too much for many users -- and I'm leaning that way myself.
Ubuntu's efforts at making the desktop pay began several years ago with the addition of a commercial repository to its package management system. Later, it added direct connections to Ubuntu One, its cloud storage, which offers both free and paid accounts. It considered making Yahoo! its more »
The limits of crowdfunding
Sep 19, 2012 GMT
Suddenly, everyone has discovered crowdfunding. The idea of user-funding is far from new, but in the last six months, every free culture and software project seems to be attempting it. In theory, I'm all for the experiment, but in practice I'm starting to worry about how long requests for funding can be made before indifference sets in.
I understand why crowdfunding sounds promising. If you haven't a corporate sponsor, then your ability to earn a living while doing what you love is limited. A few projects can fund themselves by offering services; for instance, the ebook... more »
The Results of the Survey That GNOME Would Rather Ignore
Sep 11, 2012 GMT
In October 2011, I wrote about Felipe Contreras' attempt to poll GNOME users, and the resistance he met. Ten months later, Conteras has only crunched about 20% of the replies, but has seen enough of the rest to suggest that they would not greatly change the results. And guess what? The... more »
The FOSS Elite
Aug 24, 2012 GMT
Earlier this week, I found myself being attacked because of an article I had written about GNOME 3. I was called a troll, a liar, and several other unpleasant things, and I spent some time on my personal blog cataloging the comments and my responses to them. But what I didn't mention was a fact I observed years ago: Nearly all the flames I've received in my writing career... more »