Subject: Re: help! absolute beginner
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1998/12/09
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* (Georg Bauer)
| The problem I have with commercial products is that you are tied to what
| the company delivers.  And there the money plays and not the end user
| (except where the end user is where the money is - often enough that is
| not the case).

  I think this is your crucial mistake.

| If the user would be so important, there would be a CLIM implementation
| on every commercial common lisp by now.

  and this is an example of where the flaw in your logic becomes visible.
  it _is_ because users are important that there is a CLIM implementation
  on every commercial Common Lisp system by now, yet it only barely pays
  for itself.

| And there won't be a fight between SUN and M$ about what Java should be.
| And there wouldn't be something like the Halloween Documents.

  ahem, it's because they fight over who should get more _users_ that this
  happens.  all this is about market share and mind share.  it doesn't
  matter whether Bill Gates or James Gosling sit in their offices and think
  up evil or good things (respectively) unless they go out there and get
  hoardes of _users_ to agree with them with their checkbooks open.

  since you're a fellow Germanic European, I can perhaps say that our
  cultures are _very_ far from appreciating the customer-orientedness of
  American capitalism.  the typical "Staatskapitalismus" we find in Europe
  is evil because it actively limits the choices of the customers.  (and
  why did I use the German word for this phenomenon?  there is nothing like
  in American English.  that alone should be worth thinking about.)

| Ok, granted, the few Lisp companies left are doing quite good.  But that
| isn't symptomatic for commercial products.

  really?  perhaps I can compare this to the music industry.  most of the
  bands and musicians I like have a pretty limited market.  (many of them
  are German, by the way.)  I buy their CD's because I like their music and
  know that my music pusher is a good guy who doesn't cheat them or their
  labels out of money.  however, there's been a huge increase in music in
  MP3, and the people who don't want to pay the _musicians_ for their work
  are now targeting the increased sensitivity and hostility of the _large_
  music distributors and labels towards MP3 distribution of music.  not
  only do they stand to lose a significant amount of money, they can afford
  to fight, so I'm not worried about the large labels and distributors.
  I'm worried that if MP3 becomes the preferred medium of distribution, it
  will be very much harder for my favorite bands and musicians to buy the
  _fantastically_ expensive equipment they use to create their (electronic)
  music.  it is reasonable to argue that a transition to distribute music
  as MP3 will cause a bad case of _commercialism_ in what is available to
  the listening audience, which means: I don't get to listen to the music I
  like.  I might add that spent twenty years thinking I lacked appreciation
  for music until I found some labels that sell a couple thousand copies of
  each CD _at best_.  the CD medium made the music I like possible.  MP3
  might make it as unavailable as it once was.

  the commercial products you whine about are bad because the _customers_
  don't care.  it's because the f*cking lusers continue to buy shitware
  from Microsoft and put up with their fantastic policy of charging the
  customers for fixing their own mistakes, whereas the users of free
  software differ not in how much they want to pay or what they are
  actually buying, but because free software users _care_ more.

| For example I would never try to build an ISP on commercial systems and
| commercial software.

  well, I was an ISP back in 1987.  (that was when my Y2K drive started and
  I argued to the IETF WG on Host Requirements that RFC 822 be updated to
  use four-digit years -- RFC 1123 is the result.)  back then, if you
  wanted something that worked, you got it from companies that actually
  cared, and it cost a _lot_ of money.  (except the phone company -- the
  phone company cares about as much what happens to you as the IRS does.)
  getting free software is a _fantastic_ luxury.  I _love_ luxuries, of
  course, but I don't pretend they aren't luxuries, and I certainly don't
  take luxuries for granted.  (I do follow the advice of Lazarus Long and
  budget luxuries first, though.)

| No, M$ might try to _sell_ you that there software is interoperable, but
| in reality it isn't.

  I have a new .signature today.  paraphrased, Bill Gates understood early
  on that he should not call people who didn't want to understand computers
  idiots.  he decided to take their money.  so of _course_ you've been had
  if you buy any of the useless piece of shit he peddles to the ignorant
  masses.  likewise, do _you_ participate in the Staatslotterie?  or do
  you, like me, consider lotteries to be an extra tax on stupid people?

  if you believe Microsoft's propaganda and you wind up ripped off and
  naked, do you become an emperor?

| The main problem is, that commercial support is often not up to what
| they try to sell.  That's the case with every _big_ company (big in the
| really big sense) I met.  The smaller companies do much better, but it
| still is a problem when you want to change things the way _you_ want it.

  well, I'm like this one-person software company who does it because it's
  a nice way to avoid real work and still pay all the bills, and my clients
  don't get what they say they want, either.  if I don't agree with them,
  they get to pay somebody else to do it (and come back to me afterwards).
  most of the time, we come to terms on what they really want, and that's
  what they get.  if the client knows much better than me what he wants, he
  doesn't need my services.  I think this attitude scales very well.  as
  long as you're free to go elsewhere, I don't see the problem.

  now, you'll argue that you _aren't_ free to buy software from whichever
  software company you want to, but that's _also_ wrong.  it may cost more,
  but that means you either operate with a smaller margin, charge more, or
  leverage the costs across more volume -- or decide against doing it,
  which is no crime.  using Microsoft products is also much more expensive
  in real terms than using quality software, but it'll take a while before
  the suits who don't want to understand computers get sick and tired of
  having their money taken away.
| Ideologic blindfolding is happening on both sides - those supporting Open
| Source and those refusing it.  And it is bad on both sides.  Open Source
| is not the enemy of commercial products.  It is just another way of doing
| business with different goals.

  I think free software can be the enemy of commercial software the same
  way MP3 can be the enemy of commercial music.  we don't have to worry
  about the high-volume end of the market.  it's the nigh invisible, small
  players that need to be worried about.

| BTW: Open Source is named in this way to avoid the confusion the "Free
| Software" idea had.  It is not important that the software is available
| for free.  It is important what level of freedom in using the available
| source you have, to distinguish Open Source from simple giveaways.

  amusing.  "Free" in Free Software doesn't mean "available for free" the
  same way "Free Nelson Mandela" didn't mean you got a piece of him and a
  balloon at a parade.

  don't call people who don't understand statistics idiots.  take their money.