Archive for the ‘Free Software’ Category

New Forbes List – Billy is donating money

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

It is already some days ago, but I was too busy to blog about it: The new list of The World’s Billionaires (created by the Forbes magazine) is out. Our good friend Bill Gates, the well-known Microsoft-founder, reached the second place, he is not active in “operational business” any longer, but he is still very rich, and he is donating a lot of money for social projects with his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. And he and Warren Buffet started an initiative called The Giving Pledge inviting billionaires to spend most of their money. Well, that should be a good thing, and I think we should believe him that he wants to do some good things for the world. So what is my problem?

1. It is a problem that billionaires exist. Some inequality is good for our economy, people will try to work harder, because they want to be able to afford a life as “good” as that one of their neighbour. But there are also down-sides: The more money you have, the less effective additional money will be, it will have less impact on your quality of life. That is why equality would maximize the average quality of life – a fixed GNP given. You have to choose a compromise, but a single person whose income could be used to feed millions of people, while it does not have significant impact on the happiness and the quality of life of the person, is definitely not adequate, and of course it is not an objective for most people to become that rich. Such enormous fortune should be prevented by enormous taxes, which could be used for social settlement, but primarily enormous foreign aid and enormous investions in ecological technologies, education and Free Software – that would make the world much better in the long-term (of course states should also rethink the armour budget). Social settlement is also good, because more money would not only be invested, but circulate in “normal business” and more effectively support “normal people”. The normal people would not support social projects? Well, some more taxes for them, too, and it would work.

2. Donating 50% of dozens of billion/milliard dollars is actually not a sacrifice. Well, it will hurt a little bit, because Bill Gates, Warren Buffet etc. are used to think in a capitalistic way: “Let us maximize our income” But I am sure, they realized that giving away that money does not really affect their quality of life, it is like donating two dollars for typical inhabitants of western countries, or like a crumb of bread in really poor countries, the effect is really insignificant. And donating the money after your death (like Warren Buffet) is even easier, you do not think the money would be useful for your children? Well, you can donate it, but you can keep it, as long as the world exists for you.

3. It appears like buying products by Microsoft will make the world a better place. Most fractions of the money will go to investors, some will be used to pay the employees, and there are some other efforts Microsoft has to pay for. Some money will go to Gates’ foundation, there it will be invested, and most of the interests will be used to support social projects. In the meantime the other components of this aggregate will do a lot of harm: The foundation itself will invest in dubious companies, they will donate the interests arbitrarily – without any democratic legitimation and in favour of arbitrary projects – the investors will use the money for whatever they want to, the general public will probably not benefit, Microsoft will fight for copyright- and patent-enforcement, preventing concurrence, preventing the “third world” (and the rest of the world) from using Free Software, preventing the development of cheap medicaments needed to fight against diseases the foundation tries to fight against. Better donate the money directly, or try to support fair business.

I hope I could point out, why my point of view about those big donations is very critical. Feel free to allude to grammatical or orthographic mistakes. ;)

Nokia’s risks

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Hi!

In a recent report to the US Securities and Exchange Commission Nokia is talking about the risks of their new strategy. First of all, they, seem to forget about Qt and Free Software Communities, only few words about Qt:

We have also endeavored to offer a better experience to developers through the unified Qt development environment. By using Qt’s programming interface, both our own and third party developers are able to build an application once and simultaneously make it available for our Symbian and future MeeGo-based products as well as many products supported by other mobile and desktop operating systems without having to rewrite the source code.

Yes, thet was a really nice idea, but they forgot to mentioned that that is over now, at least for them, Android and Necessitas will now become the mobile platfor suitable for simple cross-platform development.

For developers, we believe that we can create new and highly attractive monetization opportunities. By leveraging Microsoft’s proven developer tools and support, based on Silverlight, with our operator billing, merchandising and global application store, we intend to offer new monetization mechanisms for developers while providing access to Nokia’s global scale. We will continue to promote Qt as the sole application development framework for our Symbian smartphone platform on which we expect to sell approximately 150 million more devices in the years to come. For our Series 40-based feature phones, we will continue to support a Java-based development environment.

Is that a joke? It should be “attrictive” for developers, if they are changing their programming languages and APIs all the time, completely? And they forgot that not every developer wants to have “monetization opportunities”, but there are vibrant Free Software/Open Source communities, and for them this great platform – part of this great “strategy” – is certainly not very nice: No GPL, but Microsoft’s own semi-free, copyleft license? One word: immoral! Silverlight? Yes, we want to port all the existing C++-code to an entirely different proprietary platform, of course. Really surprising that they have forgotten us in that short time.

Interesting:

Today, industry participants are creating competing ecosystems of mutually beneficial partnerships to combine the hardware, software, services and application environment to create high-quality differentiated winning smartphones.

Well, and they will simply stop to innovate with software.

Well, they have pointed out some risks we all knew about, too:

  • It may be a good deal for Microsoft, but they may damage Nokia directly for various reasons (the brand, privacy)
  • Microsoft does not guarantees anything
  • Windows Phone may be just bad
  • It takes long time to switch to that platform (two years)
  • Bad support for low-end phones
  • Symbian will not be attractive for anybody in the meantime
  • They will fail to make MeeGo a nice system for mobile-phones
  • They will not be able to innovate, all innovation will have gone
  • Nobody will want to work for Nokia, because it is just uninnovative
  • The developers get discouraged, of course, because a lot of them will be fired (reducing R&D costs), and their work of years will be screwed
  • Reducing costs might fail, because they will still need a lot of support for Symbian and Microsoft will recieve a lot of money
  • Target-platforms are very limited (they are not talking about the desktop, but about missing tablets)
  • Nokia-phones will not have any distinguishing features
  • Integration of their services might fail because of Microsoft’s interests

Few more things they are not talking about:
  • The “next generation user devices”-story is a farce, after that bad, bad Microsoft-deal, years later all the FLOSS-people will come back to use MeeGo, which will be awesome because of Nokia’s research? Seriously…
  • They are now totally noncredible not anly for business-partners, banks and investors, but also for all developers
  • With less research and development (“R&D”) they want to release more innovative products, that is strange
  • Nokia will die. This short and simple statement has been forgotten

It is horrible…