I was going to write a really neat peace on all the great things
we have to be thankful for. Because you know as well as I do that
even though our public discussions are usually contentious, we're
all aware that we are well off and have a multitude of things to be
My Sacred Eye Pee is Ripped Off
That was my intention. But now I can't, because Brian Proffitt, our
esteemed, nearly-benevolent Linux Today overlord, stole my
idea! That's right, the ratfink thieved my peace and love. We
had a perfectly pleasant conversation before he left on vacation, I
let slip my notion for today's Editor's Note, and then bam! all
gone. I knew I should have protected my incredibly original, unique
eye pee. So now I can't write about all the great things I though
It was some really great stuff, too, like how the GPL is proving
its power over and over. No matter how people try to evade or
distort it, they can't. The rules are so simple even a PHB can
understand them: if you take, you must give back, and you do not
get to control what your customers do with their own stuff. As
Jones reported, it's not that certain businesses don't get the
GPL. They get it fine- they just don't like it.
For the sake of your blood pressure and to keep some
perspective, the next time you read some typical anti-GPL or
anti-FOSS propaganda, or hear about some business that tries to
pull a fast one, remind yourself that there are a sizable number of
businesses who do not rip off Free/Open Source software; who
contribute money, developers, hardware, and other resources to a
large number of FOSS projects, and who contribute to schools,
summer coding camps, non-profit organizations, and other great
projects. These folks don't get the attention because they're not
making anyone mad. They outnumber the wannabe scammers, so when you
read about someone like this, hit the Contribute link so
everyone can know about them.
Late Bloomers Rule
Another thought I was going to share was how awesome it is to be a
late bloomer. I'll wager most of us computer geeks did not have a
good time in high school. We were not jocks or cheerleaders, we
didn't tool around in cool cars purchased by mommy and daddy, our
bodies were developing a couple years behind the cool kids, and we
had to work crap jobs for spending money. My high school years were
the worst. If I could go back and do it over, I'd spend more time
beating up the snooty kids and less time feeling like an outcast.
But then a funny thing happened. I went on to enter into a
number of different careers. I had some lean times, but I did what
I wanted, and it was always challenging and fun. Since I discovered
Linux and FOSS I've had more opportunities than I could ever take
advantage of. There's always something new and interesting, and
more ways to make computers and other devices more useful.
Meanwhile, those high schools stars that I used to wish I could
push into a volcano had already hit their peaks and were on the
downhill side of life. High school was it for them. Pretty pitiful
to have nothing to look forward to after high school. As George
Herbert said, "Living well is the best revenge." Now I'm pushing 50
and I have more things than ever that I want to do, both
professional and personal. The fun is just beginning, and I wish my
ole body would hold out for another century or two so I could make
a serious dent in my to-do list. Robert Browning nailed it:
Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was
Bickering, Flaming, and Trolling, oh my!
It's easy to get the impression that the FOSS community is
dominated by petty, contentious trolls who argue every nit, jot,
and tittle to the death. While we have our share of such, don't
forget that the folks who mouth off the most are not the ones doing
the work. They're not coding, or writing howtos, or helping noobs,
or helping business users migrate from closed, proprietary systems,
or much of anything useful. Thanks to the Internet, a wee handful
of dorks looks like a lot more. Folks like you and me don't have
the luxury of hanging out in our mom's basements all days with
nothing to do but flame as many mailing lists and forums as we can
find. My grandparents used to tell me this poem, which I think sums
it up perfectly:
A horse can't pull while kicking.
This fact I merely mention.
And he can't kick while pulling,
Which is my chief contention.
But most of the public FOSS fighting is more than mere hot air. A
good deal of it is useful and instructive, like on the Linux Kernel
mailing list. A good deal more of it is useful and instructive
without the barbs typical to the LKML- check out the Asterisk
lists, Samba, Apache, *buntus, Red Hat, Fedora, and so on and on.
There is more rampant civility in the FOSS world than you'll find
behind closed corporate doors. It's hard to grasp how different the
two worlds are if you haven't spent time in both. I think it's
because the motivations barely intersect- we're here because we
want to be here, and we want to create cool stuff. Humans love to
create and love to share; two deeply-inherent traits that are like
dog doo to way too many corporate-types who see employees as
generic, interchangeable modules, and customers as necessary
In my own almost-humble opinion, if a business depends on
keeping everything a Big Secret and using questionable ethical
practices in order to stay afloat, it's already on borrowed time.
There are very few truly original ideas, and good stuff that people
want doesn't need to be scammed upon them. The most brilliantly
original concepts are nothing if they are not well-executed.
Anyway, the bread-and-butter of commerce is the everyday stuff, not
the occasional Genius Inspiration That Rocks The World. Restaurants
don't serve up anything we can't figure out how to fix for
ourselves. Both Britney Spears (ick) and Lucinda Williams
(très awesome) start from the same musical notes and words
that anyone can use. Disney has been dipping into the same pool of
classic literature (or "ripping off", if you prefer) that everyone
gets to use since their inception. The giants of business have no
secrets- Toyota, Coca-Cola, Mattel, Sony, Proctor and Gamble,
General Electric, and so on and on. Coca-Cola's "secret" formula is
pure hype- there's nothing there a competent lab can't analyze in
nothing flat. And probably has.
Was I making a point here? I got lost. So that means it's time
to wrap up.
It's Up To You Now
So there you have it, some of the things I was going to write
about. Since I can't do it, perhaps some of you fine LT readers
could discuss some of the things you are thankful for. While you're
doing that, I'm going to nail Brian's desk drawers shut with my new
power nailer. Peace and love that, buster. Bwahaha.
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