A reminder about the important things

As found on http://www.newsfromme.com/

Sometimes it takes anthropomorphic pictures to remind us what we are supposed to be doing things.

Silly thing.. number of .src.rpm in RHL stable

So in answering a question about growth of the OS over time.. I realized I didn't have any numbers... so time to pull out the table

OS Name Number of .src.rpms
RHL 4.2 367
RHL 5.2 453
RHL 6.2 594
RHL 7.3 819
RHL 8 838
RHL 9 839
Fed 01 875
Fed 02 947
Fed 03 970
Fed 04 965
Fed 05 1158
Fed 06 1155
Fed 07 1098/4228
Fed 08 1283/4835
Fed 09 1316/5548
Fed 10 1377/6407
Fed 11 1395/7448
Fed 12 1477/8519
Fed 13 1540/9153
Fed 14/Raw 1753/9712

Edited to add (2010-08-30): Numbers after the / are from the Fedora Everything repository. Numbers before are on the installer.


Fires of Fedora

In reading through various business literature lately, I have come to the realization that I was mistaken in what I thought Fedora to be. For a long time I was under the impression that Fedora was the replacement for Red Hat Linux.  A place where an RPM-based Linux could be built and slowly changed, with its target audience being small businesses and small cost enterprises that did not fit into the larger mould that Red Hat Enterprise Linux handled.

However, in my readings on technology creation and acceptance, I have found that Fedora is not there and has not been there for quite some time. At some point, probably when Extras and Core merged, Fedora began to morph into a distribution for Innovators by Innovators. Its target audience is innovators who are looking to be on the bleeding edge of technology because that is what drives them day in and day out.

In the 'standard' technology acceptance curve... new shiny neat things are forged on the left hand side by innovators. Things that might work are then adopted by those in the visionary area and tested.. and if enough momentum occurs the basic technology will cross the chasm into mainstream acceptance. In our own myopic picture of Linux technology changes and acceptances.. we see the following chart

On the left we have the Fires of Fedora, where our smiths forge the many new things that are later used in other Linux distributions. As we move right, we go for more and more conservative change sets. Some things the smiths create make it into more conservative distributions, some stay in Fedora... and some get thrown back into the smelter for a later date.

After looking at this, I have realized that many of our cultural problems within Fedora are because we haven't realized how much Fedora has changed. We are trying to put in stability and brakes on a runaway innovation train, and our arguments sound as 'strong' as those of people wanting to return to a Gold standard for currency.

This does not mean that our arguments aren't without merit, for without some visionary intermediary technologies, the Fedora created in the fiery pits will never escape to larger audiences.
So what do we do? We need to look at creating a middle ground, a place were visionaries can pull from Fedora products that meet their longer term goals.

[I want to thank Mizmo for the help with the art. The art represents my views and mine alone. I need to add a CC BY license to the art somewhere.. will figure that out later.]


Quotes for the Day (not sure why)

  1. May you live in interesting times.
  2. May you come to the attention of powerful people.
  3. May you find what you are looking for


Must be going around.

I am guessing it is the summer affecting people's tempers, but it would seem a common question from various people has been "What did I say and why are people so hating?" Someone pointed me to a blog on the Christian Science Monitor that reminded me about the major reasons people start shouting at each other when someone starts trying to change things:

  1. The Illusionary Superiority Effect. This is where individuals in a group will come up with all the reasons that their tribe is superior than some other one
  2. Loss Aversion.The brain has all kinds of circuits to enforce "A bird in the hand is better than 2 in the bush". The idea of losing what one has even for something that might be better is hard.
  3. Staus Quo Bias The 90% of the brain that is the subconscious is happier when things are stable and not changing.
  4. A long list of other circuits in the brain

Now I can see how all of these have strong evolutionary saving abilities in big brained creatures. By throwing ape-cakes and screaming at blighters who are suggesting something that might mean less food and mates, you are probably going to survive longer than the guy who decides that hunting mammoths would be better than living off the berries and bunnies you have had before. What gets me though, is how we ever got to even agriculture, pottery or the wheel. I can only guess that there are other biases which show that young ones who take wild chances and survive are more likely going to attract mates and fans who follow them thus ensuring that some amount of chance taking is done. [I guess that comes under the Red Mustang With No Governor Effect.]

In any case that is far from my original point which is that if you are starting to feel like your blood pressure is going up while reading emails about KDE update mechanisms .. try to figure out what parts of the brain are getting fired off and are they really helpful.

Learning from Others

I found this article via some link or another today, and while I am not in any position to talk about Google or Pixar cultures.. the general tenets seem sound:

...is a culture where the fear of complacency is a strong motivator, where new problems are identified, discussed, and addressed openly and honestly, all of which requires humility.

Fedora can be very good about 'openness' and 'honesty', but I rarely see good cases of humility... but much more of humiliate. There are days where I just want to pull the car over to the side of the road, and say another line my dad and grandfather used a lot: "I don't care which one of you started it.. you are all in for it now." [Well ok I am cleaning up the language a bit.. my father was a sailor and my grandfather a sergeant in the army.]

Having an Old Man Day

It must be getting to release season as all the mailing lists are full of the standard vitriol and closed minded partisanship that has made too many people zone out. It has gotten to the point where I realized that I am sounding like my father talking to my self-absorbed teenage self:

The World Doesn't Revolve Around You!

Then I have to sit down and take my geriatric medicine and wonder.. at what point did I become a Really Cranky Old Man (I remember that I became an Old Man at 19, and a Cranky Old Man at 29, but Really Cranky?)


Listening to Norwegian Radio

So most of the time I listen while I am working at home, I am listening to WCPE Classical Radio. It is a habit I got into when I lived in North Carolina, and I am so glad they have an OGG stream for me to keep up with them. However today I thought I would try some new and been listening to various radios listed as NRK in the Rhythmbox Radio section.

NRK P1 has been where I have been today. Its an interesting mix of old jazz, American country and I think some pop music (though today's American Country isn't that much different from American Pop.). It is funny but I can see why Norwegian is said to be the easiest language for English speakers to learn.. I actually sort of understood the last DJ piece on David and Victoria Beckham.. though I probably got most of it wrong.

NRK P2 seems to be classical music (or at least every time I tuned in). The NRK Alltid Klassick is also nice to listen to. I think NRK Alltid Nyheter is a talk/news radio. Anyway it is a nice change.

[I like Absolute Radio also (used to be Virgin radio), but today I wanted to listen to some stuff where I didn't understand a word of the DJ's.]


Happy Birthday Steve Wozniak

60 years ago today (2010-08-11) Steve Wozniak was born. If it were not for "the Woz", I do not believe I would be doing much with computers but would have gone onto being a textile chemist. It was the Apple ][+ that my neighbour had and the Apple ][e that my dad later bought me that got me really into computers. Between all the programs I could debug from Creative Computing magazine and the various hidden hacks in the integer ROM (the maze game was the coolest)... I learned enough to be dangerous with computers.

While I have never met Steve Wozniak, the stories of what he is like have always inspired me. The reason I got an Apple versus an Altair or some similar home brew was that my Dad's friends were happy with the layout and design of the ones they had rebuilt. One fellow had even sent some improvements to Apple (resulting in I think a cease and desist from Steve Jobs and a "Wow cool thanks" from Steve Wozniak).

I don't think I could say it any better than I did in 1986: "When I grow up I want to be Steve Wozniak".


The Strength of Minority Opinions

A link from Discovery News led me to a very interesting study on the strength of "Minority Opinions". Basically the original study by Dr Richard Petty goes into explaining why people may hold onto dissenting views stronger than expected. It would seem that the brain is more likely to hold onto an opinion if it knows that it is in the minority than if it is in the majority. It will be interesting to see if someone extends this with brain imagery to see if it is a different zone than the partisan filters we all come equipped with.

Mainly I find this interesting because it could explain why some of our long standing Fedora arguments go on and on. The infamous fast innovation/risky updates poll may have made some people more likely to feel they were correct because A) the arguments for/against it were 'weak' to them, and B) they ended up in the minority. Since they had already made a choice before the poll, they felt more vindicated afterwords than before. There are probably many other examples one could find, but what I would like to point as learning lessons is:

A) Make sure that your arguments/reasons are 'strong' before you present them. This can be hard for subjective things but having clear and reasoned examples can help greatly.

B) Make sure that your polling, presentation of results occurs early versus late in the process.

How to learn from Google Wave

One thing I have seen a lot of is projects that start up, do a lot of work, and then disappear.. you never know what is going on, where it is at, why etc. One day the links work and the next it does not. This can cause quite a lot of problems because many times people who signed up to the project also signed up a bit of emotional capital in choosing your potential product X over another's why , and you end up with cranky frustrated people both inside and outside of the project. People inside are frustrated that something did not take off, and people outside are miffed because they have no idea what is going on. In the end, you end up with crankiness and if its your commercial product pissed of customers.

Thus in the open source world there is a lot of talk about "Failing Fast and Open". Make sure that if something isn't panning out for you that you tell your customers whats not working and then leave them something that if they really want to improve they can do so.

About a year ago Google announced its product of Google Wave which was meant to be a next stage collaboration site. It had many interesting and neat ideas of combining everything from Usenet, Email, Editors, Wikis etc into a "new" thing, and from that it sounded all very cool and WoW. However in practice things did not work out as well as hoped and today Google announced a sort of EOD for the product. I am not going analyse why Google Wave didn't become the next big editor.. I am sure there will be plenty of MBA and Master of Sociology/Psychology papers on it in the next couple of years. But instead I wanted to go over how the End of Development was handled as it can be an example of what to do when a project you are working on goes to the great Apple Lisa hunting grounds.

Good things
  1. It is announced openly and in a very public manner what has happened to the product.. basically it didn't take off and overall development will be moved into other areas
  2. The developers are given laurels in public of the hard work they did and the various innovative things they enabled.
  3. The customers are told that Google will work on making sure that the work the customers have put into the product will be 'liberated' back to them.
  4. Source code for important parts are said to be available for people to improve on if they wish to.
  5. Google Wave was not shut off and everything 404'd [been part of that at least once sadly.] Instead the site will be around til the end of the year which gives customers 3-5 months to move on, etc.

My not great things is rather short but no where does it say where that source code is or where customers can get more information on the transition of their parts out of Wave. In the end, I think this is (on the outside) a good lesson for other organizations that need to move off of a 'project' and onto something else.


Good Old Days can never return...

but new ones can occur if you work on them Mr Boyer.  Personally I just have to ignore the rants and one sided talk from various people and just focus on what is fun for me. When I start feeling nostalgic and thinking things were better in the past, I go and read the lists and realize.. no same old arguments/conspiracy talk from some people and other people would still have their own agendas toward other things. That is when I realize I just need to focus on the people now who write the good things and realize that I have to ignore the people who I seemed to have ignored in my memories :).

Anyway, I hope you feel better soon and come up with things to be happy about.