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Posts Tagged ‘rant’

The Skinny on Usage-Based Billing


You may have heard much clamouring around the Canadian Internet about a recent CRTC decision to mandate usage-based billing. What does this mean?

Smaller ISPs buy network resources wholesale from the big players (Bell/Rogers/Shaw) to resell to us. This arrangement was put into place because, as I understand it, those resources were subsidized by our tax dollars and because the massive telecom companies needed some competition. Previously, a decision was made to allow the big ISPs to impose throttling (based on the type of traffic) on the resellers, which was met with a great deal of disapproval from consumers. The big telecoms seemingly backed off of this, or at least they don’t explicitly state that they practice it. As a Rogers customer I’ve seen no evidence of throttling of specific types of traffic on my cable internet connection. But that was apparently not enough. Read the rest of this entry »

JRPGs: The Diminishing Genre

(Video Games)

I was having a conversation with a co-worker today about how it seems that dominance in video game development has shifted from Japan to the West. This is not a particularly new idea. But it does leave me with a somewhat unsatisfied appetite for one of my favourite genres which is very well-represented in the PS2’s library: Japanese RPGs.

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Communication Shutdown? Get Real!


The “I Like It” meme to promote breast cancer awareness, in which women posted cryptic updates stating where they liked to set their purse — and this without actually mentioning the word “purse” so that for all the world it looked like a whole bunch of women posting about places they like to have sex (e.g. “I like it on the counter”) — was patently stupid. It managed to be even more backwards than the campaign that preceded it in which women posted updates stating only the colour of their bras. At the very least, that one managed to somehow involve breasts.

Today, a global fundraiser for Autism called “Communication Shutdown” kicked off. The idea? Encourage people to pay for and download a “chapp” (charity app) and shut off Twitter and Facebook for the entire day. Read the rest of this entry »

Why I curse the TTC


It’s a quarter past 9 in the evening. I’ve just arrived from my office, which I departed from at not too bad a time: 6 PM. My commute on the TTC subway and bus from work to home, which typically takes an hour and a half, has taken me three hours. For that amount of transit time, I probably could’ve paid my good friend maplealmond a visit in Kitchener. But I don’t live in Kitchener. I live near Finch and Islington.

My subway ride was smooth as usual. Having left the office later, the subway cars were not as crowded and almost halfway through the trip I managed to snag a seat and sit comfortably for the rest of the stops leading up to the north end of the Yonge line, Finch station.

This is where the fun begins.

A large crowd waits for 36 buses at Finch Station on the Yonge line

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The True Spirit of Open Source


Very rarely does something completely disconnected from my day-to-day existence annoy me so much that I feel the need to say something, but this is something I feel very strongly about.

Robert Fischer wrote a post titled “Dear User of My Open Source Project” and many of the proggit comments were quite vicious. I noticed that some of these commentators seemed to have the same understanding of “open source”: that an open source project is a product, like any other product, that is simply distributed with its source code. Therefore, Robert is clearly creating and releasing “inferior” products and this behaviour should be punished. Being open source is not an excuse.

If this is your understanding of open source, you have missed the point. Entirely.

Yes, there are open source projects out there that are very well-documented, quite reliable, and have attracted large communities of contributors that tirelessly work to improve every aspect of the software. But by my count, that seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Most open source projects out there are maintained by just one person who scratched an itch and thought the solution might be useful to others. Some of these projects might be lucky enough to have a few passionate contributors. These projects may have some rough edges in their code or their documentation, and perhaps the contributors might be too busy to put on the appropriate polish.

You might think that irresponsible, or even reprehensible. How dare this person release this garbage and pollute the open source community!

News flash: it is these people who drive open source software. Those large, reliable open source projects with all of the sparkle and polish? They became that way because large groups of people found them useful enough that they decided to invest their time in making the project even better. But in all cases, for open source software to progress, people have to be willing to give up their time and energy for free and with no expectation of reward. Open source is driven by pure altruism.

And yes, as a programmer using open source software, you may sometimes have to roll up your sleeves, get into the code, and make the changes that you need. Or perhaps you can find other ways to contribute. But complaining like a petulant child that it doesn’t serve your particular purpose is, frankly, incredibly rude considering that you were given this software entirely for free and given the power to inspect its source code and change it to suit your needs. If that is the way that you’re going to approach these projects, go use something else.

Like Christmas, the true spirit of open source is giving.

Edit: Some one on proggit rightly pointed out that I’ve made a common mistake of grouping “open source” software with “free” software, a subtle distinction that this pagefrom the FSF makes very clear. However, I believe that Robert Fischer’s post and his complaints also referred more to “free” software than “open source” software. Consider, for example, that he prefers to use the WTFPL for his projects, the spirit of which is “I’ve decided to put this out here, and you guys can do whatever you’d like with it.”

This is not to say that all “open source” software doesn’t adhere to the values of “free” software or that all “open source” software necessarily follows the values of “free” software.

On “Magical” Ruby and Rails


Giles Bowkett wrote a post which, at the surface, seems to be a harsh criticism of the way that Pythonistas and, in particular, Django developers view Ruby and Rails but is actually much more general — he simply wanted to point out that the entire notion of calling language/framework features “magic” is silly for programmers, who should prefer to be rational than superstitious.

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