Eric Raymond does Dallas

I heard Eric Raymond speak at a joint meeting of the DFW UNIX User’s Group and North Texas Linux User’s Group last night. Having heard Richard Stallman speak last year at a similar event, I was able to compare the two.

As far as first impressions go, my first thought upon seeing Stalman was “caveman”. He looks like a Neanderthal. Raymond, on the other hand, looks like he stepped right out of the wild west. Pin a star on him and he’d look perfectly at home as the local sheriff in a western movie.

Both are fairly interesting speakers but Raymond seems to have the better communication skills of the two. He can actually converse and debate things whereas Stallman seems to pronounce truth and then expects you to accept it. There was a great deal more humor in Raymond’s presentation than Stallman’s. But Stallman wins out on the eccentricity scale – he has lots of weird behavioral quirks that can be quite entertaining to watch whereas Raymond seems more less like a regular guy.

The content of Raymond’s presentation was primarily about making money with Open Source and Open Source advocacy. He queries his audience before each presentation and offers five optional “modules”. In our case, time allowed for two. The content of both was pretty much what you’d expect from his writing. He spent a small amount of time on the history of Open Source and here was the only point where I had any problem with what he said. From his point of view, the Free Software Movement and Open Source Movement are two different historical parts of the same thing. He describes it as a single movement that started out with a dumb name (Free Software) and bad marketing (based on Logic and Morals). Then he came along, renamed it Open Source and replaced Logic and Morals with traditional Sales and Marketing. So, apparently, Stallman and Free Software are just left-over historical debris of the Open Source Movement. He also made a number of less than complimentary remarks about Stallman and his philosophy.

By contrast, Stallman described Free Software and Open Source as two distinct movements which share some (but not all) goals. In his view the Open Source movement and the Free Software movement are the “two political parties within our community” and was careful to make it clear that they are not enemies of each other. Of the two, I found Stallman’s view more accurate.

Raymond is undeniably right in his view of business though. In his view, the inability of typical business executives to “make moral judgments based on strings of logical arguments” makes it impossible for them to accept Stallman’s arguments for Free Software. His solution is to use things that business executives do understand such as fear and greed – fear of their business being at the mercy of software controlled by a monopoly and greed for the benefits that Open Source can provide.

They’re both interesting folks and worth hearing if they speak in your area.

Sousa, Meat Paddles, and Clones

I’d better catch up on news before I start falling too far behind. For the 4th this year, Susan and I went to a an event up in Frisco. It was held at the Hall Office Park near the Texas Sculpture Garden. We saw the best fireworks we’ve seen in quite a few years. Prior to the fireworks we wandered around and marvelled at the size of the event – 20,000 people or something like that. And we listened to a short set of music played by Three Dog Night, an old 70’s era rock band hired for the event. A couple of the tunes sounded vaguely familiar but it wasn’t exactly Sousa-quality 4th of July music. Based on the last few years experience, the best music is to be heard at the Irving event held in Williams Square – where an actual orchestra plays Sousa marches the way God intended.

Meanwhile, mod_virgule development has started up again now that Gary is back on the job. My patch to make Raph’s new diary rating stuff configurable and fix a segfault caused by the new locking code made it into the latest release. More importantly, Gary has completed enough of the merges to completely eliminate one of the mod_virgule forks. Advogato and Badvogato can run off the same code now. We’ve still got some work to do before I’ll be able to get running on the main code base but hopefully that’s not too far away.

We also saw a couple of movies over the weekend. The Bourne Identity was fairly interesting. The only weird thing was the sound effect used during the fights. Rather than using traditional meat-paddles to get a realist fist into flesh sound, they came up with what sound like someone whacking a piece of plywood with a hammer. So every time there’s a fist-fight, it sounds like the characters are hollow and made of wood. I guess somebody thought it sounded cool. Probably the same people who add those totally unrealistic gunfire noises to movies.

Men in Black II was next on the list. The reviews are pretty much dead on. It’s fairly entertaining but not nearly as good as the first one. They only had about a 30 minute story and somehow managed to pad it out to 90 minutes. And annoyingly, almost all the good stuff was shown in the trailers and ads so there are really no surprises when you see the movie. The Peter Graves cameo was inventive though.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it previously but we’ve now seen Attack of the Clones at both a traditional film theater and one of the new digital theaters. Bits of it looked better all-digital but other bits, like close-ups of the few live actors, looked better after film transfer. I’d like to see a real film at both to get a better comparison. ATOC is 99% computer animation so it’s kind of hard to judge how badly the lower resolution of the digital theaters is going to affect the quality of movies that are shot on film. As for ATOC itself, I wrote a lengthy review and then deleted it. Too many reviews and nobody really cares anyway I think. Basically it’s another Star Wars sequel. Like the rest of them, they don’t live up to the original and like episode 1 most of it has that animated look that makes you feel like you’re watching a cartoon rather than a real movie.