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Clarification to "Year of the Linux desktop? Who cares!"

Back in my last blog entry: Year of the Linux desktop? Who cares!

...Some people have interpreted that I suggest everyone be programmers.

NO! That's not what I am saying.

I'm saying its not that hard to get into programming, IF YOU CHOOSE that path. You don't have to. Its YOUR CHOICE. There are other (non-programming) avenues in supporting open-source.

Take for example, my current limited programming skills have got me into writing guides for now.

I have contributed to...

(1) The Arch Linux project's wiki.

Enable XvMC for Nvidia video cards http://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Enable_XvMC_for_Nvidia_video_cards

(2) The DD-WRT project's wiki.
(DD-WRT is third-party firmware for Linux-based routers like the Linksys WRT54g series)

Mitsubishi R100 Gateway and Asus WL500G (Original) entries. http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Installation#Mitsubishi_R100_Gateway http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Installation#Asus_WL500G_.28Original.29

(3) My own little piece...

For the new: How do I give Linux a go? http://forums.techwatch.com.au/viewtopic.php?p=32306 (I need some feedback here).

I've even helped influence two separate projects to combine their efforts (as they were attacking the same goal)

(4) Proposal to the PhoenixLabs team.
http://forums.phoenixlabs.org/t11280-proposal-to-the-phoenixlabs-team.html
(You can see later on that "Morpheus", the developer of MoBlock, joined PhoenixLabs. This was because PeerGuardian for Linux isn't regular maintained like it was).

That's one avenue.

Others could be:

(1) Help test distros and report bugs.
(Be sure to ask what is expected from a bug report. Often, you need to be as detailed as possible for the developer to reproduce the problem).

(2) Donate a few bucks to a worthy open-source project.
(Maybe one of your fav apps?)

(3) Help a beginner.
(But keep your biased opinions out of it! Let them decide.)

(4) Provide feedback to developers.
(They really don't know if something sucks until you tell them! Of course, be polite and constructively explain why something sucks. Maybe even suggest an alternative approach.)

(5) Help promote open-source in general.
(But remember to try not to force it onto people. Again, let THEM decide.)

On a side note, whenever you're writing a guide of some sort. ALWAYS explain why a command is used and what's it for. Beginners have a hard time trying to understand what all that gibberish they're typing actually means. If you explain it as you go, it makes understanding better. (People feel more confident when they understand what's going on...It also helps break down the initial fears when they start using Linux).

You'll also notice I keep saying "Let them decide". The reason being, is that the typical desktop user has always been pressured and cornered into upgrading when they don't need it.

Take for example, my sister's case. A Windows 2000 user. Not only do they NOT get Internet Explorer 7, but Microsoft recommends they upgrade to Windows XP if they want to install Windows Live Messenger...The thing is, there's nothing wrong with Win2k for her needs! It does the job for her.

Open-source represents the first opportunity where the user is in control and dictates when they need to upgrade. Not because some corporation or an industry needs to maintain a regular flow of profits.

So despite all the politics, controversy, FUD, and bickering that is stirred up by others, don't ever forget that open-source is about the "Freedom to Choose".

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You’re talking about very — about specific manifestations, and in some cases in ways that presuppose a weak solution. What is data privacy? The term implies that if a company collects data about you, it should somehow protect that data. But I don’t think that’s the issue. I think the problem is that it collects data about you period. We shouldn’t let them do that. I won’t let them collect data about me. I refuse to use the ones that would know who I am. There are unfortunately some areas where I can’t avoid that. I can’t avoid even for a domestic flight giving the information of who I am. That’s wrong. You shouldn’t have to identify yourself if you’re not crossing a border and having your passport checked. With prescriptions, pharmacies sell the information about who gets what sort of prescription. There are companies that find this out about people. But they don’t get much of a chance to show me ads because I don’t use any sites in a way that lets them know who I am and show ads accordingly. So I think the problem is fundamental. Companies are collecting data about people. We shouldn’t let them do that. The data that is collected will be abused. That’s not an absolute certainty, but it’s a practical, extreme likelihood, which is enough to make collection a problem. A database about people can be misused in four ways. First, the organization that collects the data can misuse the data. Second, rogue employees can misuse the data. Third, unrelated parties can steal the data and misuse it. That happens frequently, too. And fourth, the state can collect the data and do really horrible things with it, like put people in prison camps. Which is what happened famously in World War II in the United States. And the data can also enable, as it did in World War II, Nazis to find Jews to kill. In China, for example, any data can be misused horribly. But in the U.S. also, you’re looking at a CIA torturer being nominated to head the CIA, and we can’t assume that she will be rejected. So when you put this together with the state spying that Snowden told us about, and with the Patriot Act that allows the FBI to take almost any database of personal data without even talking to a court. And what you see is, for companies to have data about you is dangerous. And I’m not interested in discussing the privacy policies that these companies have. First of all, privacy policies are written so that they appear to promise you some sort of respect for privacy, while in fact having such loopholes that the company can do anything at all. But second, the privacy policy of the company doesn’t do anything to stop the FBI from taking all that data every week. Anytime anybody starts collecting some data, if the FBI thinks it’s interesting, it will grab that data. And we also know that the FBI and other such agencies are inclined to label protesters as terrorists. So that way they can use laws that were ostensibly adopted to protect us from terrorists to threaten a much larger number of us than any terrorist could. Read more Also: Numerical Analysis Software Global Market Analysis & Forecast: Analytica, Matlab, GNU Octave, Plotly, FlexPro

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