This Year

I look back at the last major post I made on this blog, and think. It has been over a year and a lot has happened online and in the tech community in general. I’ll start with what is powering this very blog.

WordPress has gained an even more massive audience than last time I wrote. The community at large has released a few a versions of this wonderful software. I have attempted to switch over to Movable Type or some other alternate blogging system, but I keep coming back to WordPress. I really don’t know what it is, but whatever it is, I hope they continue on the same path. I look at this from a user’s perspective too. As a programmer, I see a few parts that could use a little overhauling, but most of it is just a matter of taste.

If you go back a few weeks, you will encounter the release of that $200 PC from Wal-Mart. I do have some qualms about gOS, but I’ll save that for another post. The system itself is solid, and it will help people enter the digital age with little impact on their budget. The only problem I foresee with such a system is that the ineptness of the consumer will create a help desk nightmare. Say someone goes out to buy Microsoft Office for their brand-new PC. Guess what, it won’t work since it’s not Windows that’s installed, it’s Linux. I personally know plenty of people who don’t know what an Operating System is, and would be completely pissed off when they realize they can’t install a piece of software that they just paid $400+ for. Seeing how this is a budget PC though (which comes with OpenOffice preinstalled), most people who are buying the PC won’t go out and pay twice as much of the cost of the PC on a single piece of software.

No recap would be complete this year without a mention of Apple, Inc. From new iPods, to the iPhone, to Leopard, Apple has made a major play in the tech market. It’s been covered ad-nausea in the media, so I won’t repeat what they’ve already said. I’ll just say that they all look cool, and if I had the money, I would buy them.

Google has also been doing fairly well this year. With the recent release of its Android mobile platform and breaking $600 a share, it’s looking up at the Googleplex. Google hasn’t been immune to all attacks though. From their attempted buyout of DoubleClick, to take-down notices from the studios against YouTube, and Gmail exploits (partly due to a jar exploit in Firefox, which is supposed to be fixed in 2.0.10), no one can say it’s been easy-going.

On the security side of technology and the web, we have the Storm botnet. The botnet is estimated to be really freakin’ huge (that’s just an estimate) and can DDos sites and take down entire networks, all with a single click. The main problem is that people are curious. They are also inherently stupid. When guys, in particular, see an image that says click the bunny to see what’s behind it, nothing with stop them from clicking that goddamn bunny.

Going to the gaming division, we had a few big announcements this year. The big games were Halo 3 and Bioshock. I’ve played both, and I love them. The console battle has clearly been won by the Wii (still can’t find any in stores), but the Xbox 360 also turned out well. The PS3 has suffered from over-engineering and a lack of good games. I have a feeling the PS3 will do better once MGS4 and Haze get released on the system.

So many big events happened this year. If I could, I would cover them all in this blog post, but that would make for headaches and stiff fingers. So until next time, stay classy Internet.

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The Future of FOSS

With large companies beginning to embrace free software, the future of FOSS looks as bright as ever. Although large software companies like Microsoft, who control most of the market, don’t tend to like their open source brethren.

FOSS encompasses many programs and people. The people that work within the FOSS community are dedicated to what they do. Linux is a prime example of what can happen when people come together for a greater cause. What about the rest of the community though? Is FOSS as a whole really thriving? Or is it just a couple of big names and that’s it?

When someone says something about Open-Source, I instantly think of Firefox and Ubuntu. Most people don’t think of WordPress or Tcl or PHP. I underestimate the power of stupid people though. Advertising is the key here. If you don’t have big company with revenue supporting your project, you are probably not going to gain a large audience in terms of non-technical people.

Advertising basically convinces you to do something. Being convinced by an advertisement means you are stupid because you don’t have the smarts to look it up and check if you actually need it and compare competing products if you do. Ubuntu has been successful because it markets itself as user-friendly and easy to use. People want to buy products that just ‘work’ out of the box and don’t require that much of a learning curve.

If a radical change in mindset doesn’t change within the youth or anybody that uses computers and software, FOSS is going to go down the tubes. Although it’s idea in theory is flawless, the reality of it is the more security people feel from getting software from the professional development teams. The leaders in the free/open source software community need to stand up for the smaller people and themselves to say that FOSS can do on par or better than the big corporate giants.

I’m a liberal, so I am biased toward believing that big business is fundamentally wrong, but we can’t stop it now. It’s up to normal citizens to decide what’s right for them. I always try to point people in the direction of FOSS, but I’m pretty sure people would rather spend $300USD on Microsoft Office Professional than to download OpenOffice.org 2. Something I like to call the Microsoft Effect. More people prefer the term vendor lock-in to the latter though. 😉