Hacker Public Radio had a pop at Aq and I, we went on to discuss it

pokey on HPR said that I bullied Aq into submission to not care about Free Software. We heard it and went on to confront those views - check it out at http://hackerpublicradio.org/eps.php?id=1441

Kudos to HPR and pokey for affording us the opportunity to come on - much respect!

It was interesting, I enjoyed the part where you explained why you recorded on a mac but yet still Pro-open source, yet get razzed because of the mac.

I consider my self Pro-open source but still use things like mp3 cause that’s how some of my older stuff was set up, when I didn’t know better or care. Yet I still use other closed source codec’s like mp4 / h264 / mkv etc because of a need. The stuff I create, rip for back up etc is ogg, OGA / OGV and FLAC even xvid. However friends who haven’t stepped across the threshold into open source have many difficulties playing the files thusly I still need to use some element of closed source, proprietary software to get a task completed. Plus when they bring their movies etc over to watch together, more often then not I have to convert it to the formats my DVD player will play, often adding subtitles to a movie or a TV show (mostly foreign language stuff)

Such as a lot of creative commons music are shared in an mp3 format (Jamendo), when I get it, I convert it to oga (Ogg format) to break it out of the closed source format for example…

Lets say I have ‘8-bit lagerfeuer’ an album by ‘pornophonique (http://www.jamendo.com/en/list/a7505/8-bit-lagerfeuer) my son who’s starting college likes the music. Unfortunately his computer skills are enough to run programs etc, and no more than that. The album is CC-BY-NC-SA, thus I’m legally allowed to give him a copy.
Unfortunately, windows doesn’t like oga or ogg, not with out a third party plugin, and even then doesn’t support ID3 tags, and the file had to be re-converted back to mp3 to play on his smart phone.

So either finding once again 3rd party software closed source on his end to covert it back to mp3, we did it on mine.

Sure it wasn’t an open source solution cause mp3’s are closed source, and I still remind him that the MS Office, he spent $300 for he could do the same thing with libreoffice for free. And the teachers ask for docx files, but Libreoffice can do that as well. (As the short comings of the docx parts where it hoses, he wont be using anyways) But theres nothing you can do to change his mind on what he runs, he doesn’t care as long as it works and he has already paid for the software anyways.

As such, I consider my self still extremely Pro Open source, and understand that there are other view points, and some people flat out just don’t care as long as it works for them.

So even with them, they like to point out how hypocritical I am for still having to need things like closed source codec’s in order to play their stuff, cause it just works for them in their closed source world and cant see a need or reason to change it.

I also thought you both explained your positions very well and covered quite a few interesting topics.

Indeed; respect to pokey for being prepared to have the discussion. I don’t think we were too horrible to him about it. We disagree about rather a lot, though. :smile:

Interesting. You have to say that HPR sort of unwittingly proved a point about the open source ethos. In that it afforded un edited right of reply and promoted a very useful discussion of some important topics.

I enjoyed that HPR show, and props to pokey for correcting himself publicly. That takes stones to do.

I’m going to retell a little story that I was reminded of while listening to that show (and incidentally, Jono’s blog post on accountability).

A few years ago, I was driving home from work. At the time, due to being shit at money, I was driving a £450 Ford Escort 1.6 (which I bought of a dead transvestite, and was worth more after I got in the middle of a motorway pile up, but that’s two much longer stories). I was on the M5 Southbound and the traffic was much lighter than normal. In fact, when I pulled into the middle lane to overtake a car travelling at a mile an hour, driven by relics from a bygone age, the only other vehicle I could see was an HGV quite some distance back. In the UK, HGVs (trucks in other words) cannot legally use the outside lane, so technically I was in his way. But given that trucks are electronically limited to 56mph, I was doing 60 mph, gave me cause to believe I’d be moving away from the truck. What I didn’t count on is that, some drivers can over-ride the governor, and some-times the governors don’t work travelling downhill (which we were). As I got alongside the slow moving relic, I was suddenly shocked to find the only thing I could see in my rear view mirror, was the truck’s grille and lights flashing, the only thing I could hear was the truck’s horn blaring, and I’ll leave it to your imagination what the only thing I could smell was.

On getting home, about half an hour later, I was still shaken enough to email a far from flattering complaint to the company that operated the truck. As it happens, my best friend in the world drives a very similar vehicle for a living, and contrary to popular belief, they take a very great pride how in they behave and how their profession is perceived. And amongst other points, I did propose that scaring the lunch out of other road users with 20 tonnes of Volvo, didn’t do their company or professional image any good at all.

The email caused an avalanche of sweet fa to happen. So a few weeks after the incident, I wrote a blog post about the incident. The blog post named the company, and I emailed the company again offering them right of reply. Again, no response. Or at least no response for a few months. My blog is a self-hosted Wordpress installation. Thanks to this I’ve been able to install a couple of plug-ins which cross post to social media and optimise SEO. Nothing technically remarkable at all. The thing is, pretty quickly, my blog post became the #2 Google result if you searched for this company’s name, mainly because the company didn’t have or need a sophisticated web presence or SEO. This changed the game somewhat. The Director of the firm was less than pleased with me, and emailed me. The interesting bit was his email. He didn’t apologise for the incident, but he did bleat on about how he was just a little guy in the industry competing against bigger players etc. He also wanted me to delete the link on Google. At which point, I realised I’d got as close to winning as I was ever going to get. The guy wasn’t interested in how Google or the internet worked, despite the fact that it could ruin his business, and me telling him would either help him when he didn’t care about me, or be in vain anyway. I pulled the blog post for two reasons. First, it had eventually done it’s job and got a small, if quite craven amount retribution. Secondly, I got the feeling that the Director was a bit of knob, and could go legal if provoked any more, and make things worse, not better for me.

But that incident did give me an interesting perspective. Firstly, that bullies often don’t know they’re being bullies. For instance, I’m quite sure neither the driver nor the Director of the company thought they were bullying me. By the same token, I didn’t think I was bullying the company with my superior ability to understand page rank and SEO. And maybe Bully is the wrong term to use in either or of these circumstances. But I definitely find it helpful to question whether I am the bully or not. And discussions like this are also helpful as well.

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Free Software = good
Free Software Fundamentalism = bad


I certainly agree with that. Not everyone does. :slight_smile:

My worry is that I really didn’t /get/ Free software until I started listening to Aq on Lugradio. It was either him or RMS, & AQ is prettier.
Now, someone coming to community afresh is going to listen to you guys talk about smart scales & not realise the privacy implications because NO ONE mentioned them, not even the one person I rely on to know better.

Unfortunately, from my perspective, that’s what happens when the free software community doesn’t work to moderate zealots within their own ranks. It drives people away. I dislike that, but I do not know how to fix it.

You are assuming we are a Free Software public service announcement podcast. We are not; we are a technology show that dips into various topics, of which Free Software is one part.

Right; I think I may have been a little unclear, and I’m sorry if I suggested the word “zealot”. Back on Lugradio, Aq would often argue passionately about the importance of free software. This wasn’t off-putting but it was educational, especially a newcomer like me who really did not understand why Free software was important. Here was someone who not only had a point of view, but cared deeply about it. My thought process kinda went “Hey, that Aq guy is kinda funny, kinda clever and cares about this. I should actually find out what the capital F means”.

Jono did not inspire me to find out about FOSS. Community, on the other hand…

Nah, I promise I’m not, Jono. You guys do have expertise in particular areas though. It’s not a community podcast either, but I have a reasonable expectation that you are going to mention it now and again, because that is your speciality, and it seems you’re pretty damn good at it.

Aq used to be the voice of FOSS principle amoungst a group of pragmatists, and that voice seems to have disappeared in an effort to dodge the “zelot” label. I’m pretty sad about that, because Aq was vocally passionate about the importance of Free Software, but also erudite, funny and approachable. The ideal spokesperson for a group overshadowed by actual zealots.

Time passes, people change and mellow, but I can still be sad about a voice being lost, especially when they had a pretty big impact on me at the time.

Pretty much hit the nail on the head there, yeah.

The question I’d ask is this: is having your software be fsf-approved at every step more important to you than introducing more people to the wider benefits of free software? There’s no right answer here; some fall on one side of that debate, some on the other. But it’s an important question and one which deserves your keenest thought. Once you’ve decided what you think is the best way for the world to work, seek out those who feel as you do. I’ve probably changed sides in that debate, partially through feeling pushed away from one side and partially by my views becoming more nuanced, which inherently draws to the other.

I have recently introduced a couple of friends to Ubuntu and Linux Mint. It’s fair to say that they find the intricacies of the line between free and proprietary software baffling and very off-putting (particularly with video card drivers I find).

The fact of the matter is quite simple. The more an operating system “just works” out of the box, the more likely people will be to adopt and use it. Pretty much no other factor (even cost, amazingly), holds any thing like as much sway on the infrequent occasions anybody consciously makes a choice.

When it comes to RMS, I don’t find him annoying, I can even see his point and agree with much of what he says. My only beef with him would be that I don’t think he’s getting anywhere or helping the wider movement get anywhere.

Please respect our code of conduct which is simple: don't be a dick.