Here is a great summary of the reasons that open source software and generic hardware work (and might not work too) in a business environment. Great summary read describing the tangible and intangible benefits of the free and open source model. I can say now that I’ve been using open source software for so long that I never even notice that I don’t use Microsoft or Apple products. And it’s even easier and most cost-effective than ever to make the switch.
Archive for the ‘Culture and Community’ Category
I recently ran across this 3D artist’s perceptions about moving from commercial to free, open source software. I appreciated what I believe to be an objective analysis of the costs and benefits of commercial and open source software. Sure, the commercial software has some nice features that you’ll have to live without…but do those really affect your artistic expression? Probably not. How much do you gain by moving to free, open source alternatives like the time you gain for artistic work when you don’t have to analyze the financial costs of upgrades, plugins and other up-sells that keep subtracting from your personal or professional budget? I’m guessing most non-profits and churches identify closely with the author’s tension caused by “[wishing] to conduct business in a legal, sustainable fashion amidst a struggling economy”.
There are many very full-featured free, open source alternatives to all of the mainstream art and production software. Give them a try…you just might find that free is freeing in more ways than just in your pocketbook…
Ran across this article from Collide magazine. The author asks a lot of good introspective questions about church services and what that means about priorities. Of course, why limit that to only your church services? Why not ask that about other parts of the church including your IT strategy? About the type of computers and software you use? What do you elevate? And what does that say about your church? Does it say exclusion or inclusion? Does it say selfishness or sharing? Once you know what it does say about your church, it then follows on to ask the original authors question: what should we be elevating? When you ask and answer those questions, my guess would be that more Christians and churches would be using (and creating too) more open source software and sharing more of their content with Creative Commons licensing. But that’s just a guess.
I read The Pirate’s Dilemma by Matt Mason sometime last year and really enjoyed it. He just posted a presentation he did recently at Incubate 2010 that summarizes a lot of the book on his blog and I wanted to pass it around for discussion. I think he does a great job at balancing the fact that we do need intellectual property laws, but that laws aren’t going to stop piracy. Things like open source and Creative Commons licenses are just market reactions to bad IP laws in some sense. People are looking for better and easier ways to share, collaborate, remix and join in a conversation with you and your organization. Take advantage of that as we move into a new era of communication by using and contributing to open source and Creative Commons projects.
Just posting to let everyone know that changes are afoot for those that use OpenOffice. I guess the transition to Oracle hasn’t been smooth, so they are declaring independence. I guess we’ll see how this unfolds.
Just saw this come through the Blender channels, looks like a new Korean production house, Dave Interactive, is developing a new TV series with Blender, my favorite 3D-animation-video-editing-special-effects-and-just-about-anything-multimedia-software. The visuals and animation look great on the preview. I look forward to hopefully being able to see the final product.
Just a quick post to show off a new professional studio in Brazil that’s making a TV series in all open source multimedia software! Awesome!
OK, most things I post are serious, but I thought I’d have a little fun today (it’s been a hard week). I saw this plea for people to help BP learn how to “photoshop” images better. I thought it would be even better to show them how to use Gimp instead since I’m sure everyone can do just as good with Gimp as with Photoshop and because Gimp is free, it would help save BP some dollars to put toward the cleanup instead. Then, post your photos on the Wired blog and make sure Gimp is credited instead of Photoshop! Let’s start making “photoshop-ing” obsolete. Instead, just “gimp” your photos! Post back here if you end up entering a photo, so we can take a look.
Today I was reading a summary of Matt Ebb’s recent development work for the Blender Foundation. I was caught with this excerpt:
Part of my responsibility was also managing the bug tracker and the reports coming in – nagging people for reproducible test files, testing reports to confirm them, diagnosing issues with the reporters, assigning, rejecting, closing and moving reports. I’d like to give a big “thank you” here to some of the familiar user names I’ve seen on the tracker, non-coders who have helped enormously by clarifying and verifying reports on their own systems. It’s not a glamorous job, but it’s incredibly important and helpful, and one that all users can easily get involved with. Thanks also to people who have submitted clearly written, reproducible reports with test files. The best way to get your reports fixed promptly is to follow the reporting guidelines when you post it – it’s only fair for users to put in a minimal amount of effort to help the coders who may well be spending hours tracking a problem down.
This just underscores the importance of non-technical users investing in open source projects. It really isn’t hard to log a bug in the bug tracker. Ask for help if you have problems! After you do it a few times it won’t be a big deal at all.
Remember to also try to follow the guidelines. I know many times we are tired and frustrated when we figure out our software isn’t working as expected, but do a little extra to help whoever ends up working to fix your problem. The easier you make it, the more likely the problem will be fixed expeditiously.
YOU, as the user, really are the most important people in an open source project. Without feedback and investment by users, projects languish and are ineffective and are relegated to the “science project” category of software. Consider using open source software and when you do and the software doesn’t work, consider also logging a bug and being available to help the developers reproduce the problem. A little bit of time investment by you can help thousands and even millions of other users of the project.
Over the last month, I’ve slowly been wading through the presentations from the Libre Graphics Meeting. Some of them are great, others are OK, and some of them are science projects, but I found this presentation about how Marcus Holland-Moritz made a picture book from his vacation in New Zealand completely fascinating. The thing that struck me was that it was a complete microcosm of how the open source model should work.
First, Marcus probably could have invested money and saved himself a lot of time by buying proprietary software. Instead, he figured out how to get around the restrictions and problems he encountered while creating the book. He obviously is invested in open source culture and sticks to it no matter what happens.
Next, he was able to do something about it. Now, not all people are the one stop shop that Marcus seems to be. While he was able to fix his problems and invest in the open source projects himself, as organizations and churches we have a much larger pool of people to pull from. Find someone in your organization that can help rather than just giving up when something doesn’t work for you. If you do, then not just you but everyone wins. On the other hand, do what you can too. Not everyone can code, but using early releases, logging bugs and adding documentation is much less technical and still just as vital to the success of open source projects. Also, Marcus was able to recognize when a current project worked and just needed tweaking and when the open source community didn’t have anything that was viable for him and he needed to start from scratch.
Lastly, he donated his work back to the appropriate projects. Scribus now has a great caching mechanism in it that speeds it up and makes it more workable for large projects. If Marcus releases the image viewer as promised, then that will be available as well.
I love that he stuck with his principles not just to use open source, but to also invest back into the open source community. He obviously likes the open source koolaid. Because of his one project, the rest of us just get to benefit from all his hard work. And he is only just one person too! His example is so inspiring!