Posts Tagged ‘Internet’

Response to the Skype rants on Planet GNOME

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

I recently read some ranting regarding Skype via Planet GNOME. In the blog post, it is detailed what Skype does wrong — however, those shortcomings do not stop people from using Skype.

Why do people use Skype, despite all of the issues? It’s the combination of a few simple factors.

  • No need to worry about firewalls or other crazy configuration. It just works. Firewalls, today, are a reality. Nearly everyone on the Internet now is behind a firewall. It wasn’t always this way. Software needs to stop pretending that we live in a world where firewalls are the exception.
  • It is free (or cheap) to use. Compared to a traditional telephone network (or even most VOIP), Skype is cheap, and even free if you’re talking Skype to Skype.
  • It works on nearly everyone’s computer. Mac? Windows? Linux? N800? Yeah, it’s there. One person’s Skype install works with any of the other ports, without fuss.
  • People using Skype can talk to others who don’t even use (or have heard of) the software. Of course, this is by way of the standard phone lines. But still — the software does it, and it’s cheap.
  • Skype is a catchy, simple name (and people can easily convert it into a verb, too).

Yes, Skype is proprietary and the UI isn’t great… but it’s good enough for most people, as it gives people what they want (free/cheap communication to their friends and family). The alternatives are either to use a clunky alternative with lots of set-up and jargon (while worrying about things like firewalls, IP addresses, SIP configuration, etc.) or to use something like the phone networks where calls are expensive (charged by the minute on cell phones, or a bundle per month for land lines) which are all being routed through proprietary networks using mainly proprietary hardware and software anyway.

Despite Skype’s shortcomings (and being closed source), you should understand why normal people — the ones who just want to chat to their friends — use it. It’s all about the computer, as a whole, being a tool that people use instead of a person being a tool the computer controls. This applies to all software and all electronics, proprietary or open source. (It’s really the difference between good and bad software when it comes to the experience.)

Build something better, easier, nicer, and more compelling than Skype and make it available to everyone… and people will use it. (It worked for Firefox.) You can even pitch in to help an already existing, very promising project with these goals; I’m sure the developers (and eventually all the people using the software) would love the help.

harvesting planets

Saturday, June 9th, 2007

If you like to read a lot of open source based planets, then check out my aggregation (and uniqification) RSS feed that I cobbled together in Yahoo! Pipes.

Open Source Planets RSS

Currently, it grabs from the following:

  • Planet GNOME
  • Planet KDE
  • Planet SUSE
  • Graphics Planet
  • Gimp Layers
  • Planet Inkscape

Any other good suggestions? (:

If you’re interested, you can also check out the pipe’s page too.

Update: I added the feeds suggested in the comments as pipe sources.

Updated my flickr page with pics from recent travels, including LGM

Sunday, May 13th, 2007

LGM was great. I pretty much echo Jakub’s sentiments on the topic.

I’ve uploaded several pictures to my flickr page, so check ’em out!

(Sorry this post is so short: Verizon cut DSL for hundreds of their customers and do not have an ETA of when it’ll be back up, so I’ve had to rely on finding bits of community wi-fi for the past five or so days.)

Straw poll: Javascript and your browser…

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

Recently, I have been wondering about people’s stances with regards to the dependence of Javascript on the Internet at large — and for web apps in particular.

  1. Do you have Javascript enabled by default in your browser?
  2. If not, why?
  3. Also, if you do not, do you selectively enable it for particular sites?
  4. Has the “ajaxification” of the ‘Net changed your opinion on Javascript?
  5. Do you consider yourself a power-user of computers? (Rank yourself on a scale of 10, with 10 being expert)
  6. Do you consider yourself a Web power user/viewer?
  7. What browser do you use?

This is a totally unscientific questionnaire, but it still should have interesting results (provided people leave comments)…

Mario Kart DS

Friday, November 25th, 2005

Since everyone on the Cambridge side of the Hula team recently picked up Mario Kart DS, I decided to buy it (and a Nintendo DS) during my last trip to Utah. It sure has made plane trips a lot more more enjoyable.

Mario Kart is itself a lot of fun, and the WFC (Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection) is entertaining. I think I’ve been getting my butt kicked by a bunch of middle schoolers over the Internet, though.

KSpyware: open source spyware

Wednesday, April 20th, 2005

Oh great; just what the world needs: more spyware. This time it’s open source, too. Despite the KSpyware name, however, it’s for Windows, not KDE.

It does use perl, but it relies heavily upon win32 heavily.

Also, for those who need it: The Free (and 99.9% foolproof) way of ridding your computer of spyware, adware, malware in general, and viruses. It’s a must read for any Windows user (and a very good link to pass around to your Windows-using friends and family…)

Firefox’s styleswitcher returns!

Friday, September 10th, 2004

Well, it seems that Firefox’s styleswitcher is set to make a comeback after being recently yanked. Hooray!