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Re: [libreplanet-discuss] libreplanet-discuss Digest, Vol 34, Issue 11

From: luke.leighton
Subject: Re: [libreplanet-discuss] libreplanet-discuss Digest, Vol 34, Issue 11
Date: Fri, 5 Oct 2012 12:28:28 +0100

On Fri, Oct 5, 2012 at 4:23 AM, Patrick <> wrote:
> Hi Luke
> Thanks for your suggestions on this.
> Yep, this piece sums up the situation nicely:
> "seeking to achieve this via a free software license is asking for trouble,
> not least because you are wandering off of the beaten track of "OSI-approved
> licenses", and are adding a considerably onerous task (writing a license) on
> top of what is already a considerable task (writing some software)."
> Unfortunately, there isn't anything special code-wise about both the
> scientific instrument control program or the program to assist with special
> needs kids.

 ey, that's ok.  do you have a rough spec for each?  a brief outline
online somewhere, even 2-4 sentences?  the reason i ask is two-fold.
first is that as this is to be a free software project, you need a web
site somewhere so that people can find it, so you might as well start
one sooner rather than later; second is that it'll make things much
clearer for you and give you something to focus on _apart_ from
license issues :)

 whilst i can definitely see that the scientific instrument part can
be independent and that adding in "chat facilities" or any other
communications infrastructure would be wildly inappropriate, i don't
know enough about the assisting-application to be able to say if i
would agree with your assessment or not.  not that it matters what i
think :)

> I don't think I have the skills or time to out pace the people I
> don't want to cause trouble.

 the way i see what you're saying here is that you're operating from a
position of distrust. i.e. much of your energy is going into worrying
about what people *might* do.

 i've run into this situation before, with someone else who wanted to
put a license on some software - an implementation of IEEE 802.11
whitespace broadband (using GNURadio transceivers).  they wanted to
put a "non-military, non-commercial" license on the work.  when i
spoke to dr stallman about this, he said that there was no way to get
support from the FSF for that project because it was restricting
peoples' freedom.

 ...and you know what?  i think he's absolutely right.  this is...
very strange to grasp, but it's illustrated in novels like "Good
Omens" by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, where Adam tries to "make"
his friends be "good", just because he has the power to control. you
can't *force* freedom onto people.

> Here is a little more details:
> Parents with special needs kids end up talking to all sorts of people
> assuming they live in the first world and don't have access to the people
> they need if they are not. The application will be help a lot with the first
> case and will do it's best to help with the second.

 spelling mistake of the word "its", here - more on that in a bit...

> So take for instance the communication between parent and speech therapist.
> [..snip..]

> So lets take the word "ship". It's not 4 sounds it's 3. SH is not a
> combination of the sounds of S and H, it's it's own.

 ok. side-point.  you're talking about phonetics, spelling and
language, but are mis-spelling the word "its".  "it is not 4 sounds it
is 3.  SH is not a combination of the sounds of S and H, it is it is
own."  you mean "it is its own".

 gandhi says "be the change you want to see in the world".  thus,
before helping people with language, you must first have a good
command of language yourself.

>  Parents will be able to
> gather data on which words and more specifically which parts of words the
> child is capable of producing. So ship will have 3 widgets to allow a parent
> to rank each syllable. This will all go into a database and then the speech
> therapist will see a graph that shows the child is weak in the trailing D
> sounds and is missing Z etc. There will be facilities for grammar as well
> and other topics like motor planning, self care, social communication, self
> injurious behaviours/aggression etc to talk with all the other
> professionals. Fast data passage between professionals and parents will mean
> more time to talk about solutions.
> For the many left without any support, it will try to provide tips and I am
> hoping to set up a website to collect these wiki fashion as well.

 right.  ok.  so you *do* need inter-parent and specialist-to-parent
real-time group communications.  if you built the capabilities of the
wiki directly into the program itself, you would have the means to
present your wishes at the top of each page.

 in fact, thinking about it, the availability of the data is the
critical thing, here; thus the web site is a key important part of the
project; without that data or more specifically without the *latest*
ongoing improved data (think "") the application is
in fact pretty useless.

 thus, right there, you have the opportunity to present your *wishes*
at the top of each page of that critical resource (the web site /
wiki).  if in fact that turns out to be appropriate.

> At the end of the day, it's really a data collection tool. In effect, so is
> the scientific instrument control application. Send commands, collect data,
> crunch data.


> I repair spectrometers for a living. I was outraged with how companies were
> treating my clients and 8 years ago I started to teach myself how to
> program. I had always planed


> on releasing the code as FLOSS software but a
> couple of years ago i started to see the subtle issues with free licences
> and now I am trying to kill the enemy without becoming the thing I hate.

 ok.  there's some discrepancies here between the way that i would
approach any free software project, and the words you're using, which
are mentally causing me some... friction, or eye-brow raising, call it
what you will.  please allow me to try to highlight some of those
discrepancies, so that you can choose to see if whether your *current*
choice of approach serves you best, ok?  does that make any sense?  if
not please do say so.

 to illustrate: in 1996 i too was outraged by a similar situation:
microsoft's domination of the world of file sharing, login services
and so on.  i saw that the gap was so wide between windows and
GNU/Linux that it was just never going to be crossed without someone
taking action.  you either had to go "all windows" - all windows
clients and all windows servers and all windows applications - or you
had to go "all GNU/Linux".  at the time, if you wanted a windows NFS
client you had to pay a hell of a lot of money per client for
"Hummingbird Exceed".

so whilst linus torvalds was dealing with the actual OS side, and
everyone else was dealing with apps like openoffice, there was this
really really big gap - file sharing and login services - which made
all that work by linus and the thousands of others completely
irrelevant, as it was just too different - too alien - to the dominant
OS: windows.

 what did i do? i immediately got into reverse-engineering of the
protocols and began releasing source code, immediately.  dramatic
improvements to samba's source code that within 3 years had increased
the codebase size by a whopping 30 to 40%.

 did i concern myself with licensing? no.  did i concern myself with
people "ripping off" the code? no.  did i concern myself when finding
that some of the early code which i had written turned up in a
proprietary product, because someone else whom i had worked with
closely at the very early reverse-engineering phases had assumed that
that was ok? no.  did i concern myself when other companies started
producing alternative commercial products based on reading the
documentation, or my book, or the source code? no.

 did i concern myself at the beginning that my weight went down to
63kg (i'm 6ft 1 or so - you do the BMI calculations) and that i got
RSI so badly that i had to turn the key of the lock of my house with 2
hands, and had to ask neighbours to open jars for me? a little - but
the situation improved when the significance of the work i was doing,
especially the security implications, began to sink in and i started
to get contracts and job offers.  but that's another story.

 the point is this: i saw a problem, i knew that i had the confidence
and the curiosity to solve the problem, and GOT ON WITH IT.  people
were then attracted to the project, by its very nature.  they were
either curious, technically, or... yeah, just whatever: it became
high-profile enough for people who needed it to just start

 yes, sure, in 1997-8 there was a company that tried to take the
source code, strip out all Copyright messages and authorship, write
perl files that obfuscated all the function names and then try to sell
it to Sun Microsystems and other companies for $USD 50,000 but the
SFLC or its early incarnation helped deal with that - i wasn't privy
to the exact details.

 my second concern that i have is about the money aspect.  this will
take quite a bit of explaining, and the above is already quite long -
i'd prefer therefore to ask you if you'd be interested to hear more,
as if not i would prefer to be doing other things :)   let me know ok?

 but - does the above make any sense?  do you see what i'm getting at?
 it boils down to this: you have a beautiful goal to help people, yet
you're... not... actually.... getting down to it :)



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