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Interclue and What Going Proprietary Can Do

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the don't-get-greedy dept.

Software 149

Linux.com (which shares a corporate overlord with Slashdot) has an interesting look at what going proprietary can mean for your overall effectiveness. Using Firefox extension "Interclue" as the object lesson, the piece looks at both the engineering and social difficulties surrounding the project. "Even more significantly, the efforts to commercialize only detract from the software itself. The basic idea behind Interclue would make for a handy Web utility, but seems too slight to build a business around. The effort to do so only leads to complications that do nothing to enhance the basic utility, and to pleas for donations that can only annoy. The result is that, if your position on free software doesn't lead you to avoid Interclue, the efforts to monetize it almost certainly will."

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Proprietary solutions (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26259973)

are doubleplusbad.

Re:Proprietary solutions (5, Funny)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260069)

Your Newspeak is ungood. "bad" is ungroupthink. Use "doubleplusungood".

Re:Proprietary solutions (-1, Flamebait)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260693)

It seems a new dialect of Idiotish is born every time the high school system vomits out another generation.

Can we stop it with the language mutilation please? Yes, I know languages evolve, but what's going on now is not evolution, but more akin to what happened to the wildlife around Chernobyl.

Whoosh (4, Insightful)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260715)

If you think Newspeak is next generation then you must be at least 90. I'll get off your lawn now.

Um. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26260729)

If you're going to criticize somebody's education the first step is to get one yourself [wikipedia.org] .

Clue Stick (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26260743)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineteen_Eighty-Four

If you don't know what newspeak is you have a lot of fucking catching up to do before you can pretend to be smarter than anyone.

Re:Clue Stick (1)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260803)

I was referring to the tendency to use it in everyday speech and the interpolation of its words into people's vocabularies.

The fact that it was created for 1984 doesn't make me cringe less when I hear the word "ungood" used in a regular spoken conversation.

Re:Clue Stick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26260945)

"Ungood" does not only mean "bad". It is also a political comment against being politically correct. Look at the signature of the first person you replied to and maybe you'll understand why people tell you that you're not very smart.

Re:Clue Stick (0, Flamebait)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260951)

Your brain is unsmart.

Re:Clue Stick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26262253)

Using big words doesn't make you smarter than anyone either

Re:Clue Stick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26262525)

That is unless you're a hippopotamus pontificating the value of fresh water algae to a group of kids pointing at it while it's taking a dump.

I'm bringing this flamewar to a whole new level!!!

and yes... MrNaz. We have already won this battle. I would suggest you cease your efforts to humiliate yourself even further. Now... where did I place my orgy?

Re:Proprietary solutions (1)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260989)

What makes you think I'm a recent high school graduate?

I graduated in 1980, I received my CS degree in 1984, and have been a professional developer for 24 years.
Hell, my *DAUGHTER* is out of high school.

Re:Proprietary solutions (2, Insightful)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 5 years ago | (#26261037)

Oh, and I'll give you 1/2 point because my syntax is incorrect. The correct phrasing should have been:

Your Newspeak is ungood. "bad" is ungroupthinkful. Use "doubleplusungood".

Chernobyl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26261201)

Chernobyl? What Chernobyl? Ther ish nno Chernoby. Alll iz gud.

(In Soviet Russia, newspapers read you!)

Re:Proprietary solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26262461)

I doubleplusbreakwind in your direction

Re:Proprietary solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26260313)

fail.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26263109)

Anonymous Coward

Re:Proprietary solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26260787)

Frankenstein no like closed source.

Close source bad!

Close source BAD!!!!

Re:Proprietary solutions (0)

yezu (1409877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26261701)

Close source bad!
...
Beer GOOD!!

Beer GOOD!!! Argghh!

Wasn't it in 2001?

Re:Proprietary solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26260875)

As I have commented on here before - the situation Open Source leads to is that it gradually, as features are develop, create a hurdle cost for a proprietary solution to compete. Once X amount of features have been developed in the OS version, Y amount of dollars would need to be invested in a proprietary product to compete. Once the dollar amount becomes big enough, uncertainty regarding returns means that no competing proprietary software will be developed, ever again.

This is the plan behind Stallman's Open Source movement - masterfully inspired by the Gandhi line "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". A very narrowly applicable and niche quote which for some reason seems to live well in that community.

What is the problem about that? Look at OpenOffice - 24 developers left, as written about here on Slashdot earlier. Even if development of the Open Source product completely stops, the existing feature set still presents a hurdle cost. Thus, stagnated software.

Would the number of developers be higher of MS Office didn't exist? Quite likely - but how much higher? At the moment companies that spend money on software can gain a competitive advantage from doing so - they field the cost, and they get the benefit. If the benefit is shared across all companies, then no additional return should be expected. This is not fully the case, because the first developer naturally can tailor the software to their systems, and be the "first implementer", but to a large extent.

What should therefore happen is governmental action to declare Open Source free for incorporation into proprietary products. This keeps many benefits of Open Source, while also preserving the incentive to spend money on it.

Please show me clearly how I am wrong, if so. I would like to know.

Re:Proprietary solutions (2, Insightful)

andymadigan (792996) | more than 5 years ago | (#26261061)

Your idea would make Embrace, Extend, Extinguish easy. Open source projects need users in order to be able to function. These users can report bugs and request features, this is required for a project to advance. Once a company makes a proprietary version of the project and begins adding features, most users will use that instead.

It's true, requiring the software and its derivatives to remain open reduces commercial involvement, but its the only way to prevent companies from simply taking the community's work, adding features (without sharing them) and distributing the program without source.

Besides, open source developers don't usually want to see another company selling a version of their program without contributing to the community.

Re:Proprietary solutions (1)

bberens (965711) | more than 5 years ago | (#26262225)

Once X amount of features have been developed in the OS version, Y amount of dollars would need to be invested in a proprietary product to compete. Once the dollar amount becomes big enough, uncertainty regarding returns means that no competing proprietary software will be developed, ever again.

See, you cite that as a downfall of open source and I cite it as a benefit. I've always felt that what open source does BEST is commoditize the software that people use the most: e-mail, browser, instant messaging, basic text editing, etc. I, as a consumer, don't want to pay for re-implementations of the same old stuff. If you want to make money, do something differently (Google Docs?) or do something NEW. Read: innovate.

Now there's going to be plenty of people who are religious about open source who will argue my point... but note I said *I* have always felt that's what open source did best. Other people like it for different reasons and that's fine. I think for most consumers/businesses who aren't interested in editing the software they use daily, the 'best' benefit of OSS is the commoditization of the most common stuff.

That is why I stopped posting to Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26260065)

With all those attempts to monitize with all those ads and giving subscribers first dibs on the high-quality Slashdot editorial output.

I know it is tough to give up all the quality worldview and technical analysis, but I feel I have to.

I'm off to a windows desktop near me.

Re:That is why I stopped posting to Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26260429)

That is why I stopped posting to Slashdot

You failed.

Isn't this cherry picking? (5, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260075)

After all, OS_X is the merging of proprietary and open source as well.

I think this current example presented the way it has is a bit propagandistic.

Both OSS and Proprietary have their virtues and vices, and it's a question of the project manager's competence whether or not a project brings out more of the former or the latter.

Re:Isn't this cherry picking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26260479)

You fail.

I also agree (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26260483)

Slashdot does have a tendency to spin everything into a "TEH FOSS IZ TEH ONLE SULUZION!!!11!!" direction, and to either distort stories, or select cherry picked stories.

The truth is, to which I agree with the OP on this, that every single idea isn't something to build a business around. Kind of like web browsers- it's perfectly acceptable to me, and millions of other computer users throughout the world, that anyone making an OS would view that as a feature to be bundled. And yet... teh FOSSies still can't forgive MS for competing with their beloved Netscape, no matter how horrible that browser (and company) was in reality.

However... there actually ARE ideas which are not only economically viable, but will thrive as a commercial enterprise. Would you REALLY trust a FOSS tax program? I wouldn't. Would you trust a FOSS app which converts documents to PDF? Sure!

Both software models have their place. The sad fact is, there are zealots on both sides who are more interested in commercial vs. free than in using the right tool for the right job. It's always seemed to me that the FOSSie outcry over commerical software was really just their justification for MS hatred, rather than opposition to commerical software- that's why Slashdot grants Apple their "most favored monopoly" status, despite the fact that Apple is not just a commerical product company... but is so with brutally impunity.

Re:I also agree (4, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260723)

Would you REALLY trust a FOSS tax program?

The question should really be, would you *really* trust a program that nobody could audit?

Re:I also agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26261129)

WTF mods, why is this modded troll?

Re:I also agree (4, Insightful)

Daravon (848487) | more than 5 years ago | (#26261177)

I don't know if "trust" is the right word. Both programs can contain errors. The product with a guarantee to cover your ass if the error lands you in trouble with the IRS is the one that I'd be most likely to go with.

Which sounds better:
A) Saving a fifty dollars on a piece of tax software, and an audit from the IRS lands you a hefty fine plus interest on the amount that was really owed
OR
B) Spending fifty dollars on a piece of tax software, and an audit from the IRS lands you a hefty fine plus interest on the amount that was really owed that is paid for by the company that made the tax software?

While FOSS has its place, there are times when going with the proprietary solution has more inherit value. The best solution in the above situation is a FOSS product that will cover any expense incurred due to an error in the software, but in the real world a project like that would die after the first bug.

Re:I also agree (3, Insightful)

chromatic (9471) | more than 5 years ago | (#26261405)

While FOSS has its place, there are times when going with the proprietary solution has more inherit value.

What does this have to do with tax software? A business could certainly offer paid indemnification even while giving away the software under a F/OSS license. I won't guarantee that it's a successful business model -- I haven't tried it -- but there's nothing inherent to the business or the software which prevents this approach.

Re:I also agree (1)

simcop2387 (703011) | more than 5 years ago | (#26261415)

well the real solution to this would be a FOSS project, but the ability to buy a guarantee from some company like that still.

Re:I also agree (2, Insightful)

remmelt (837671) | more than 5 years ago | (#26261435)

The software and the insurance are two separate things. The fact that your tax software was closed source has nothing to do with the guarantee that it doesn't contain known errors.

This is an opportunity for OSS vendors: they could offer guaranteed patches, an SLA even. For a small fee, they could compensate you for when things go wrong. Come to think of it, this is what vendors are already doing, along with insurance companies.

The inherent value is not in that it's closed source, but in the company backing up its claims.

Re:I also agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26262439)

Selling open source warranties. That sounds like a great business.

Re:I also agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26261465)

that is paid for by the company that made the tax software?

HA! Somebody hasn't read the EULAs on all that proprietary software.

Re:I also agree (2, Interesting)

bberens (965711) | more than 5 years ago | (#26262341)

A few years ago there was a bug in Turbo Tax. It was prolific enough that the IRS fudged the rule which Turbo Tax had incorrectly calculated that tax year. Another year Intuit had a server overload and the IRS gave extensions to all Turbo Tax filers to compensate. I couldn't find an article on either incident within 10 seconds of Googling, so I apoligize for not having a citation. Also, Turbo Tax guarantees any fees/interest you pay due to a Turbo Tax calculation error. The consumer protection is pretty good on the proprietary stuff at least afaik. If some OSS software was as prolific as Turbo Tax, I bet you could get similar protections.

Re:I also agree (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 5 years ago | (#26262093)

my experience with tax software is that it's fairly conservative, so rather than getting fined, you're more likely to claim less stuff because you don't know what can be claimed and get less money back. You'd still be out the money, but with less stress.

Re:I also agree (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 5 years ago | (#26262383)

The question should really be, would you *really* trust a program that nobody could audit?

This is a false dichotomy. There is nothing preventing a closed-source program from being audited.

Re:I also agree (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 5 years ago | (#26262537)

Who would audit it though, and would the actual results be ever published if negative?

With OSS, anybody can audit and post a list of problems with references to the source code on their blog.

With closed source, the company would pay another company to perform the audit. The result would most likely be one or two:

A report like "this is completely safe" with no proof, because the auditing company wants to make the one paying them happy.

Or, no report at all, because the result was negative and the company decided not to publish it.

Re:I also agree (2, Informative)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 5 years ago | (#26263043)

Tell that to Diebold.

Re:I also agree (3, Interesting)

cromar (1103585) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260771)

Overall I agree, but for a few points.

teh FOSSies still can't forgive MS for competing with their beloved Netscape

The problem was that MS used anti-competitive measures to hurt Netscape's market share and promote I.E.

Would you REALLY trust a FOSS tax program?

Yes, we would trust it if, say, a company such as H&R Block had the code analyzed and was able to certify its accuracy.

that's why Slashdot grants Apple their "most favored monopoly" status

The editors? Maybe. The commentators? ... I generally see about a ratio of 4 anti-fanboi posts to 1 Apple fanboi post when Apple comes up in discussion. In fact, I am noticing that there are more people complaining about Slashdot nowadays, but the posters they complain about seem to be harder to find...

Re:I also agree (2, Interesting)

quanticle (843097) | more than 5 years ago | (#26261087)

Yes, we would trust it if, say, a company such as the IRS had the code analyzed and was able to certify its accuracy.

There, fixed that for you. Frankly, given H&R's reputation as an audit-magnet (due to their aggressive deductions), I'd be more wary of something that they endorsed, not less.

Re:I also agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26261357)

I generally see about a ratio of 4 anti-fanboi posts to 1 Apple fanboi post when Apple comes up in discussion.

That kind of statistic is better used as a metric of how much or how little you're an Apple fanboi, rather than any measure of the nature of Apple-related /. posts.

Re:I also agree (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26261411)

You do know netscape was more anti-competitive than microsoft right?

They were so arrogant they were trying to remake the entire industry around themselves.

Re:I also agree (3, Insightful)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 5 years ago | (#26261585)

Whereas Microsoft already had: that's the point. In this context anti-competitive doesn't mean "aiming for lock-in" but "exploiting overwhelming market dominance in one field to unfairly gain overwhelming market dominance in another". In a world where nearly everyone bought Windows, bundling a browser with it for "free" (i.e. not allowing the consumer to choose not to pay that portion) meant that even if the competitor's product were completely free it would still have to be considerably better and well marketed to gain mindshare. That's as competitive as putting me up against Usain Bolt in the 100m: no matter how arrogant I am, my best hope is for him to be struck by lightning.

Re:I also agree (1)

Pulzar (81031) | more than 5 years ago | (#26262073)

The problem was that MS used anti-competitive measures to hurt Netscape's market share and promote I.E.

Yes, but they also made a better product. Netscape stopped improving their product (and in fact kept making it slower and buggier), while MS made something that worked fairly fast and didn't crash as much.

Who knows what would've happened if "Netscape Firefox" came out when IE3 was out -- it would've been a lot harder to displace its user base.

Re:I also agree (3, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26262395)

The problem was that MS used anti-competitive measures to hurt Netscape's market share and promote I.E.

That rationale came after the BSOD-fueled MS hatred.

I generally see about a ratio of 4 anti-fanboi posts to 1 Apple fanboi post when Apple comes up in discussion.

It has definitely changed quite a bit this year. Go back a couple of years and any negative remark about Apple would earn you a lesson. From what I've observed, this goes in cycles. Early on Slashdot was very anti-Microsoft. Stories would be twisted (misleading headlines, for example...) to get the pitchforks a'wavin against MS. It was all fun for a while, but Windows 2000 came out and over time people started to adopt it. With the BSOD virtually extinct and the main stability issues addressed, the tired jokes were getting... old. Eventually these people earned mod-points and general opinions on Slashdot started to balance a bit. The main difference? Back then you could say that Windows didn't support color graphics and get modded as informative for it. After the backlash you had to be a lot more careful about what claims you made.

So what does this have to do with Apple? Right about the time the iPod came out, Apple was pretty highly regarded around here. I might have my timing wrong. Maybe it was OSX running on BSD. Eh, I dunno, I didn't pay that much attention to the Apple stories. Any criticism would land you in trouble. I remember a story where a dude stuffed a PC into an iMac case. I made a joke like "It'll be the first time a Mac ever saw GTA!" and.. blammo, troll. (As I recall, the moderation went back up after I explained it was a joke.) Apple was riding high up until the iPhone came out. I'm not sure what precisely happened here. I remember the iPhone was actually well receieved, but maybe it was a case of too many silly iPhone stories soured people. (I wouldn't rule out a bit of envy, too. I was guilty of this. I was stuck in a contract, couldn't get one, so I'd crack jokes at its expense.) I dunno, I think the real turning point was the people waiting in line at that store for no apparent reason close to the launch of the iPhone 3G. Turns out they had a reason for being there, but by the time that was discovered a good time had already been had at their expense. So more anti-iPhone stuff. Anti-iPhone leads to anti-Mac, and so on. (Not that the Air was an underrated machine...) Well that's died down and we're starting to see s'more balance.

A couple of years ago I predicted that 2007 would be the year Google became Slashdot's villain. Well, that hasn't happened yet, but I'm starting to see signs of it. Then after the hate comes out, people will step up and even things out, then on to the next big bad guy.

I personally would like to see what effect removing Slashdot's moderation system would have on fanboyism.

Re:I also agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26262845)

The problem was that MS used anti-competitive measures to hurt Netscape's market share and promote I.E.

That was *a* problem, not *the* problem. Netscape was failing on it's own, without any help from MS. Companies were LITERALLY FLEEING from Netscape to IE, because IE was a zillion times more stable. If Netscape went five minutes without crashing and taking all your windows with it (a problem which still plagues Firefox), count yourself amazingly blessed.

IMO, the tragedy in the entire situation was that while MS did engage in underhanded dealings... there was no need to. They were winning anyway, and all those activities did was harm them.

Would you REALLY trust a FOSS tax program?

Yes, we would trust it if, say, a company such as H&R Block had the code analyzed and was able to certify its accuracy.

And for what reason would H&RB ever do that? Also... isn't the result itself proof enough of what the application is or isn't doing right?

The problem is, nobody is stupid enough to spend all that time and energy programming the tax code into an application in exchange for... nothing? Good will? Karma? Nah, that's not only NOT going to happen, even if someone were stupid enough to do it, they would eventually stop once they got tired of living on crackers and jelly.

that's why Slashdot grants Apple their "most favored monopoly" status

The editors? Maybe. The commentators? ... I generally see about a ratio of 4 anti-fanboi posts to 1 Apple fanboi post when Apple comes up in discussion. In fact, I am noticing that there are more people complaining about Slashdot nowadays, but the posters they complain about seem to be harder to find...

Slashdot is still stocked with zealots. I suspect they are just maintaining a lower cover. Also, many have no doubt been assimilated into Apple's rising market share, and their perspectives are changing as they pass beyond their teen years. Apple's growth in share has come at Linux's expense, not MS's.

Re:I also agree (1)

DMalic (1118167) | more than 5 years ago | (#26261291)

.. what? Yes, I would very much want FOSS tax software. I would also want to pay a supplier for whatever the standard anti-IRS indemnity is.

Re:I also agree (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#26261373)

Slashdot grants Apple their "most favored monopoly" status

'Cause they aren't a monopoly? The closest they come to monopoly status would be in music/media players - a field with very healthy competition and hundreds of choices.

Re:I also agree (4, Insightful)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 5 years ago | (#26262063)

Odd that Slashdot (or Linux.com I guess) needed to look at Interclue to see what going proprietary does for you.

Why not give us detailed report on the history of VA Linux->VA Software->Sourceforge? No third party needed. You start a company to build servers that run Linux and do well. Then you buy up Andover to get various FOSS scene web sites to generate buzz. Change your company name a few times just in case anyone is following you.

Decide to IPO at $30/share. None other than the great economist Eric S. Raymond tells us it is a can't miss proposition winner, he being hired to act as the company's Open Source mouthpiece and keep them comitted to the principals or openness and sharing and the like. Everybody cheers your big IPO and sees it as proof that money can be made while staying Open. Stock price like $300+.

Before the cheers die down you find out can no longer make go of it in the server market so you try to sell proprietary software. Release a proprietary version of the previously OSS Sourceforge, form the OSDN then promtly kick out K5 and, again, throw in a name change to OSTG.

Again find out that your business model doesn't work, sell your flagship product, Sourceforge, to CollabNet.

Best I can tell the company is now "leader in IT community-driven media and e-commerce", which I think means it sells ads and trinkets. Stock price last I checked was in the $0.85 range.

So anyway, I don't see why they needed to go study Interclue.

Re:Isn't this cherry picking? (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260891)

After all, OS_X is the merging of proprietary and open source as well.

True, but i tend not to have any proprietary extensions on my default profile because i don't trust them to not sell my data to 3rd parties, in fact I'm fairly sure that's what they do do to make money. Also with interclue specifically it just didn't seam worth the effort running when i can just open the tab then close it if its not what i want without any potential privacy risk.

Both OSS and Proprietary have their virtues and vices

What exactly are the virtues of proprietary software? It seams to me that it has to be your forced to do something you may not want to.
want to use an ipod? Got to use itunes!
want to use OS X? Got to use expensive mac hardware!
want to work with people using the latest version of office? Got to use the latest version of office!

If proprietary software has virtues why bother with lock-in, surely it could compete by itself on a level playing field?

Re:Isn't this cherry picking? (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 5 years ago | (#26261205)

What exactly are the virtues of proprietary software? It seams to me that it has to be your forced to do something you may not want to. want to use an ipod? Got to use itunes! want to use OS X? Got to use expensive mac hardware! want to work with people using the latest version of office? Got to use the latest version of office! If proprietary software has virtues why bother with lock-in, surely it could compete by itself on a level playing field?

Proprietary software can compete on a level playing field. Just look at SubEthaEdit [codingmonkeys.de] . Where's the lock-in there? Its a text editor - no proprietary formats at all. Yet, it manages to compete by making things like collaborative editing significantly easier than its competitors, both free and proprietary.

Same thing with all the software you've listed. No one's forcing you to use an iPod, a Mac or even the latest version of Office. There are competing MP3 players, competing computer systems, and OpenOffice has handled all of the docx I've thrown at it, once I've run it through ODF Converter/Integrator [oooninja.com] .

If you don't like proprietary software, don't complain - vote with your wallet and buy hardware that does support the standards and formats you want.

Re:Isn't this cherry picking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26261209)

Want to view a photo edited with Adobe Photoshop? Have to use....oh wait...

Re:Isn't this cherry picking? (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26261469)

What exactly are the virtues of proprietary software?

they have managers who are interested in interface design, and thus are more "casual friendly".
I also note that, despite there being numerous nations where software patents don't apply, several proprietary formats are underdeveloped in the FOSS community as a "matter of principle", when people out there still have to deal with those formats.
Small-time proprietary/shareware projects (see visualhub) don't suffer from this.

Re:Isn't this cherry picking? (1)

murdocj (543661) | more than 5 years ago | (#26262459)

Unless you are building something simple software development going to take a group of people and a chunk of time. If it's interesting to a group of developers who are willing to work on it for free, that's great, but otherwise you have to raise capital, and the folks supplying capital would like to see a return on investment. Selling the software is one way to get that return.

Proprietary isn't evil / nasty / only practiced by necrophiles. It exists because it's a reasonable business model. Without proprietary software, a lot of software that people need wouldn't be available.

Re:Isn't this cherry picking? (1)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260993)

It's not even cherry picking. The article doesn't go into any more depth than the summary does, Now word of what the complications causd by it being commercial are. As far as I can tell, they're just pissy they don't have source code for it.

OSX might be a bad counter example to use though, since OSX has a fee associated with it, and giving a program away for free and selling it for cash are two entirely different business models, open source works for one much better than the other.

Re:Isn't this cherry picking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26261045)

OS_X is a new misspelling I haven't seen before. The correct spelling is OS X.

OSX and OS/X are also incorrect.

Definition time. (3, Informative)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260079)

From WikiPedia:

Angel capital is money invested in a business to provide equity capital, not debt which must be repaid regardless of the success of the business. More often than not angel investments are combination of funds and the business expertise of the investor(s). Angel investment transactions are made with the expectation of a very large financial return to the investor per dollar invested if the business succeeds. Angel investments are also made with the expectation of psychological rewards for the investors. These are obtained from their personal contributions to the growth of the business, time and business expertise. The investment decision is thus both financial and personal. Risk and reward take a more complex form than in almost any other financial transaction. It is risk and rewards.

Re:Definition time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26260777)

fail.

what the fuck is this? (5, Insightful)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260083)

What's with the incoherent summary? Nowhere in the summary did this even mention what "Interclue" was supposed to do, and why we should care about attempts to "monetize" it (lame corporate speak when applied outside the finance world).

Editors must be sleepwalking through the end of '08.

Re:what the fuck is this? (3, Funny)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260163)

Editors must be sleepwalking through the end of '08.

Only the end? :)

Re:what the fuck is this? (4, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260245)

Clearly the editors were all replaced by small perl scripts at the beginning of '08. Possibly earlier.

Re:what the fuck is this? (3, Funny)

MikeDirnt69 (1105185) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260561)

Do you think humans runs the self-called corporate overlord? Silly.

Re:what the fuck is this? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260607)

Rereading the summary, I believe it can be translated into human as follows:

Merry Christmas, Slashdot-reading humans! We are enjoying our holidays and have decided to let twitter pose as an editor during this period. Normal service will be resumed when we have sobered up.

Re:what the fuck is this? (1)

Citizen Gold (540740) | more than 5 years ago | (#26261629)

I'm amazed noone has responded with RTFA.

Re:what the fuck is this? (2, Funny)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260621)

I guess you were supposed to move the cursor over the link and pause, waiting for a preview of the linked article to appear, and read it. Maybe the /. editor is subtly promoting the usage of a proprietary Firefox expansion!! [/conspiracy theory]

It's Byfield (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26260683)

His latest MO is to promote a piece of proprietary software in a piece mistitled to sound critical.

But despite the title, this piece appears to be nothing more than an Interclue press release. Note that while it does casually mention that it's proprietaryness carries some vague baggage, most of the article just describes all the add-in's features in a positive light, and re-emphasizes it's usefulness.

The only thing I can't find is where he promotes Mono.

Re:what the fuck is this? (4, Insightful)

medelliadegray (705137) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260995)

It's a great marketing strategy, really. Post some blurb about some product no one has heard of--and make it's dilemma known to an audience with a broad interest around such problems, and a potential interest in said products.

sheepishly, the intrigued masses walk into the clutches of the marketers to find out more about this company, and what it does.

I hate marketing.

Re:what the fuck is this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26261131)

failure

forked review (2, Insightful)

revery (456516) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260089)

If the a lack of a Creative Commons license for linux.com content doesn't lead you to avoid the website, their efforts to indoctrinate you certainly will...

Re:forked review (2, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260469)

Fuck CC. They need to use the GFDL license. They can monetize by selling tshirts and coffee cups at their concerts.

Re:forked review (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26261063)

GFDL is ridiculously overburdening to use.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gfdl#Criticism_of_the_GFDL

CC is better in comparison.

history repeating itself (5, Insightful)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260109)

Software history tends to repeat itself. I remember back in the 1980s, when software distributed on floppy disks often had copy protection. Legitimate users voted with their feet, because it was too much of a nuisance -- e.g., you couldn't back up your software. Software houses eventually got the message and stopped doing it. Now, a generation later, we seem to be going through the same silliness again, except that now they call it DRM.

Similar deal with these little proprietary pieces of crapware. Back in the 90s, there was a period when the internet had gained quite a bit of mindshare, but OSS hadn't. During that time, you'd get people posting lots of trivial little pieces of software on the web, with various schemes intended to extract some small amount of money from the customer: nagware, adware, shareware, crippleware, ... That whole scene was a total dead end. In most cases, programmers found that the amount of revenue they got was essentially zero; this was the users indicating that although the software was somewhat useful to them, it wasn't useful enough to pay money for. Then OSS started getting popular, and most clueful users started to realize that it was a better way to go. Now we have some new software platforms -- firefox+xul, browser+ajax, and the iPhone -- and everyone seems to need to learn the same lesson all over again. At some point, the users who didn't go through this in the 90s are going to realize some of the same things. They're going to realize that spending $5 or $10 on lots of little pieces of software will eventually add up to real money. They're going to realize that it's a hassle to have to keep track of all the software, registration numbers, etc. They're going to realize that it's no fun to have to go back and reproduce this whole set of proprietary apps every time they buy new hardware.

firefox+xul? (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260283)

Does anybody really write applications using XUL?

Re:firefox+xul? (3, Informative)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260329)

Does anybody really write applications using XUL?

Miro [getmiro.com] is one.

Re:firefox+xul? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26260533)

...and songbird is the other.

Re:firefox+xul? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26260801)

...and songbird is the other.

And CeltX [celtx.com] and chatzilla [hacksrus.com] and NVU [net2.com] and Cyclone3 [cyclone3.org] ...

If you are going to sell it cheap, make it free. (4, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260499)

This is actually true. I have a Linux site and a Windows site and the Windows site is filled with a couple of cheap apps that I wrote and the Linux site is all GPL free stuff. I've found that the Linux site actually makes me more money off of advertising revenues and I can leverage that as some experience on my resume for more work. Now in between contracts, what I'm going to do is refocus my Linux site and my Windows site into a single site that gives out a bunch of free stuff, and then, if I do want to charge for something, it won't be some crappy utility that noone registers anyway. Small utilities are advertising, in their own right.

Re:history repeating itself (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260799)

Are you sure it really happened that way, or is this just remembering things like you wanted them to happen? I seem to remember shareware houses doing quite well, and commercial apps were far far superior to any free alternative.

Simtel / Walnut Creek (1)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 5 years ago | (#26261381)

I seem to remember shareware houses doing quite well...

Ohhh, you've reminded me of Walnut Creek Simtel CDROM! I had one from 1993. It was nicely packaged. What nostalgia!

That reminds me of a joke from another CDROM in 1993.

Q: How do you teach a girl mathematics? [yahoo.com]
A: Add her to the bed, subtract her clothes, divide her legs, and start multiplying.

Re:history repeating itself (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26261533)

Yeah, they did very well in a brief period. Basically the latter days of the BBS era -- once the internet began to be widely available, the bottom rapidly dropped out of the shareware market.

  It was a problem of supply, really. BBS systems tended to pass stuff around smaller, local markets, and acted as a kind of portal. This restricted the amount of options you had, and there was social pressure to avoid posting serials and keys and full versions. Once the internet came along, you'd know the instant some guy in Pakistan released a free equivalent of a shareware tool, and the shareware tools were drowned.
  GPLed software has been drinking the shareware houses' milkshakes, too, though. I don't know if you've noticed the popularity of Pidgin vs. various shareware chat programs, but not having to fsck around with shady "s3r1alz" websites and registration whatsits is a strong motivator for a gradual shift to free-as-in-beer, and the best free-as-in-beer is usually free-as-in-speech too.

Re:history repeating itself (2, Interesting)

innocent_white_lamb (151825) | more than 5 years ago | (#26262285)

Back in the dim mists of time, when fax machines were the latest thing, I wrote a DOS program that created fax cover sheets and kept a little address book of fax numbers. I initially wrote it because the office where I worked had just got a fax machine. I then gave it away on BBS's with a little "Send me $20 if you decide to use this regularly" message that came up once, when you did the initial program setup (enter your company name, fax number, etc).
 
That little program was included in a lot of "shareware software" disk sets, and it ultimately went through many revisions and foreign language translations and a surprising number of companies (mostly law offices and machine tool factories -- don't ask me why) paid me $20 for that program.
 
So shareware worked. For me, anyway. And it wasn't even that much of a program...

nowt but 'perfect predictive hindsight' (4, Insightful)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260117)

You know what makes a good proprietary conversion of an open source or free product? Succeeding.

There is no certain way to succeed in *anything*.

There are always going to be thousands of failures for every success in the software world, and thousands of moderate or short term successes for every 'killer app' class of success.

I don't want to hear about also rans being analysed to prove a point that was arrived at before the article was even begun.

Re:nowt but 'perfect predictive hindsight' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26262083)

I am *guaranteed* to succeed in at least one thing in my life -- Death

Considering the source. (4, Insightful)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260145)

Does it really surprise anyone that Linux.com would be against any project going closed source? That would be kind of like being surprised the Westboro Baptist Church put out a statement denouncing homosexuality.

Re:Considering the source. (2, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260311)

It also seems that they deliberately took a project that was doomed to fail.

"The basic idea behind Interclue would make for a handy Web utility, but seems too slight to build a business around."

Yeah, so, they took a project that couldn't be commercialized effectively, tried to commercialize it, and failed.

This isn't a lesson in going from OS to Commercial, it's a lesson in predictable failure.

Re:Considering the source. (1)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260523)

You'll note that Linux.com content isn't released under the GFDL...

Article? (1)

DarksideDaveOR (557444) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260159)

Would it be overly mean of me to say I've read slashdot comments a quarter the size of TFA that communicate both more information and a more coherent analysis of a similarly complex issue?

Because, ouch.

The key sentence in the article (5, Insightful)

SlashDotDotDot (1356809) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260219)

The key sentence in the article is:

The basic idea behind Interclue would make for a handy Web utility, but seems too slight to build a business around.

To rephrase: If your product isn't valuable enough for people to spend money on, it will be hard to make money selling it. The rest of the article is a fairly well-written review of an obscure add-on, with very little insight about open vs. proprietary software.

Re:The key sentence in the article (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260301)

There are, of course, a few exceptions. Windows, for example.

Yeah but Windows has a lot of value (2, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260619)

Windows isn't a cheap utility. It's an operating system that has any number of components that a developer could leverage and use. Yeah, Windows isn't free as in beer or in open, but, the developer generally doesn't pay the cost of the libraries that get bundled with it, consumers do.

So, in essence, Windows is a tax on consumers for developers to get nearly free stuff to write for. This model makes it impossible for third party library providers to actually succeed unless they deliver some niche that Windows won't do. Like, GUI kits for Windows are stagnant largely because there's no way developers will pay for a library when MS will tax Windows users for the same library for free, and consumers already being taxed, won't want to eat the tax of a competing library.

This is good and bad. It means that Windows has a single set of widgets to write for, in USER and COMMON. But, it also means that end users do not have the benefits of multiple GUI toolkits that you get in Linux, which manages to stay in the game because really, Microsoft doesn't want to spend too much money making widgets when that only collects the tax... only enough to stay ahead of Linux, and so, GUIs stagnate overall.

Therefor, Windows does have a lot of value. You pay a modest tax to make it possible for shareware developers and corporate customers to use a lot of fancy controls that are just a step ahead enough of Linux and Mac to make it difficult for users to switch, but never really far enough ahead to make you really stand up and cheer at the edge of your seat, saying, "wow, Windows is really great."

I mean, come now, would it really be that difficult for Microsoft to go crazy and add a bunch of cool widgets to Windows that were easy to program in C?

Re:The key sentence in the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26260345)

There is no insight left to be had in the arguments of open vs. proprietary. All the ground has been covered, and the issues are mainly philosophical and therefore of interest only to vanishingly small groups of people with hard-set opinions.

I mean really - software with little value is difficult to sell, and people who refuse to pay for software on "religious" ground refuse to pay for software. Brilliant. Between this and the masturbation article about Microsoft going under I'm glad I bothered reading Slashdot today.

Re:The key sentence in the article (3, Insightful)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260521)

Also, if your proprietary firefox extension/add-on already has a dozen competing free open source firefox add-ons that already do the same thing (previewing links), then you're probably fooling yourself and you're probably defrauding/scamming/lying to your clueless angel investor as well.

Re:The key sentence in the article (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26262897)

Not only that, this developer somehow managed to get angel investment for a Firefox plug-in? I've not heard of something like that happening, especially with an idea of such little value and I think the concept is available in other forms for free and without nags. Given that most FF plug-ins are free, even the really good and useful ones, I think it would have to really sell itself as a commercial product.

The reality is that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26260321)

If all Linux distributions were to cost the same amount as Vista all of a sudden, the desktop marketshare they have would disappear almost instantly.

There are a few interesting facts about free software's largest competitive advantage (namely, it's zero price):

(1) It's not important to FOSS advocates at all.
(2) The definition of free software actually demands the availability of an option to charge for the software.
(3) But on the other hand, if you have a compiler which can quickly compile all the different programming languages that free software is written in, all free software is free (or almost free).
(4) If someone were to take all free commercial software and compile it, producing binaries identical to those that the companies distribute, and that person intends to distribute the binaries for free, you had best hope the companies trying to sell the software will be able to survive on support (and their other services) alone.

Dual licensing. (3, Insightful)

john.picard (1440397) | more than 5 years ago | (#26260647)

Many businesses are accustomed to signing site-wide or per-seat licensing fees for software. Many of the PHBs in these businesses are somewhat put off by free software because they feel kind of weird about simply downloading and using software. For this reason, free software that wants to "go proprietary" should instead do this: keep the free license but add a second license that can, at a user's option, apply simultaneously to the same software. This second license would be the most prohibitive thing you've ever heard of and would require licensing fees in the stratosphere. In return, the customer gets the right to use the software throughout their site and would have also have the right to receive setup assistance, training, and other technical support. Essentially, the price would cover this support, since the software is essentially free, but it would make these PHBs feel warm and fuzzy inside from having to sign an expensive and very official looking licensing contract. They (or anybody else for that matter) could always simply download the same exact software from the Internet and use it free of charge, though it would not come with the warm fuzzy feeling or with the technical support.

Fear, Uncertainty, Deception (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26260751)

This isn't a "study" or "evaluation", neither a general one, nor of the specific Interclue program.

The first part of the article is a detailed description of the functionality of the Interclue program, the second one is various speculation about difficulties and problems they and their users may experience if they go proprietary. Effectively, it says "Avoid Interclue for this reason, because of the problems likely to appear".

It is in that way similar to Microsoft writing about some software, "They have a stated intent to go open source, which is likely to lead to a series of potential problem scenarios, so avoid them".

I scanned TFA... (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 5 years ago | (#26261453)

...and it looks like Interclue pops up an icon that tries to add information about a link as you hover over it. Kinda like those active links on crappy websites that pop up a little window either offering to transport you to a site to get the best price on 'SQL injection attacks', a reference site explaining 't-shirts', or offering to let you fill out a survey because YOUR opinion is 'important'.

Yeah. I need more spam in my life. Won't be paying for this add-on. I get enough crap on websites already.

Comment spam more interesting than the article (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26263097)

Did anyone else notice the last comment attached to the article, which mentioned Mitt Romney in the title and contained gibberish that tried to mimic proper sentence structure? Sadly you won't find it now, because I blinked and refreshed the page and it disappeared before I could copy it. Normally such gibberish posts include a URL linking to a site hawking pharma, sex aids, or malware; this one, however, was JUST text. What could be the point? Are they trying to poison Bayesian filters, in preparation for a later spam attack that does contain URLs?

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