Archive for February 16th, 2007

Why open standards are more important than open source

I met Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun Microsystems, a few years ago at a Sun-sponsored press party (their skewers were delicious). He talked about open standards that evening and sure enough a few months later he blogged about open standards being more important than open code. Many GPL junkies attacked him for that beliefs, but over and over again I, the consumer, I pay the price of products not following standards rather than ever needing the source code of any driver or firmware.

You see, last week we were sent at OSNews a 17″ Dell PAL/NTSC HDTV for a review. We decided to send it to Thom in the Netherlands to write the review, as all of us here had big TVs already. Thom received the TV earlier today only to find out that his PAL system was not supported by the TV. Sure, when you plugin a DVD player or a game console, it works fine in PAL. But region-specific RF cable/over-the-air PAL does not work (it works without sound and in B&W only). Thom believes that if he could flash the monitor’s firmware to the european version of the TV he would be able to access the PAL menu (currently disabled) in the TV. But my JBQ believes that it’s much more than a software issue. To support all kinds of North African and European versions of PAL you need more chips inside the monitor.

In my opinion, the problem is not with the monitor. Dell did what any company would have done to save that extra $2 by not including non-essential hardware in it. If all countries instead had followed the same PAL system (or NTSC, or SECAM) there would not have been such problems in the first place. Sure, some countries had to modify their PAL version in order to get compatibility with their older, B&W PAL signal from the ’60s (so people would not had to buy new TVs), but man, sometimes someone has to take a hard decisions sometimes in order to ensure future compatibility with other countries, a measure that would eventually create cheaper products.

Regarding ‘Free Everything’

In the beginning, it was the FSF, fighting for Free/Open software. Then, others would fight for Free data. Now, some others are asking for Free/Open hardware.

I like free and Free. It is in the best interest of my wallet and my personal freedom as a citizen. But would an economical system where everything is “Free” work in real life? Or is it like communism: great on paper, but impractical, because humans are greedy by nature? Will our civilization mature just enough to produce sheep-humans that could make such a system work, or the human nature of greed can not change because it’s in our genes? What do you think? I am personally perplexed. I like a sort of utopia, but I am not sure it’s achievable. Maybe the current system (some companies being Open and others being Proprietary) is the best system, so citizens can actually choose.

…and a dead rooster

When my mother arrived to France for my wedding in 2001 she made sure she brought with her a number of Greek delicacies. Including a skinned dead rooster from my grand mother’s flock. While she heard it from me, we cooked and ate it next day as “soup avgolemono”. It was delicious. ;-)