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Unsung, Unpaid Coders Behind Federal IT Dashboard

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the where-credit-is-due dept.

Government 99

theodp writes "The Federal CIO got a standing ovation for the new Federal IT Dashboard. Federal contractors got the cash. But sneak a peek at the 'customcode' directory behind the Dashboard, and you'll see that some individuals also helped bring it to life with their free software. For starters, there's Timothy Groves' Auto Suggest (Creative Commons License), Alf Magne Kalleland's Ajax Tooltip and Dynamic List (GNU Lesser General Public License), and Gregory Wild-Smith's Simple AJAX Code-Kit (SACK) (modified X11 License)."

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99 comments

And isn't this the point? (5, Insightful)

hattig (47930) | more than 4 years ago | (#28666917)

A good example of how free, open source, software benefits everyone.

The submission reads like it's different, and that other people have garnered the ovations for these people's work, but the work is in enabling technology, frameworks. Much like Sun doesn't get an ovation or money when a successful Java project is deployed, I fail to see how this is different.

Nice for the coders to get some recognition however.

Re:And isn't this the point? (1, Insightful)

rockmuelle (575982) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667155)

"Much like Sun doesn't get an ovation or money when a successful Java project is deployed, I fail to see how this is different."

Sun's engineers were paid for their work on Java. That's the difference.

Recognition is great and all, but it doesn't put food on the table or pay for the computers used to develop the software.

-Chris

Re:And isn't this the point? (5, Insightful)

hattig (47930) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667225)

It was their choice to release their code under an open source license.

I presume that like most good coders, they'll have a decently paying job that is already putting food on the table.

If they wanted to make money from this work, they could have chosen a different license that was more restrictive. They could be offering support or other services for it.

Re:And isn't this the point? (3, Insightful)

SausageOfDoom (930370) | more than 4 years ago | (#28668211)

Exactly.

Besides, it's not like the contractors downloaded "Bob's IT Dashboard" and changed the logo - by the sounds of things, they just used open source libraries to reduce the development time.

Better than the BBC, for example, who insist on rolling their own libraries for everything, while on the taxpayer's time.

Re:And isn't this the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28669365)

Recognition is great and all, but it doesn't put food on the table or pay for the computers used to develop the software.

-Chris

That's such a novel approach. I've never heard that before. I hope you get modded +5 interesting.

Re:And isn't this the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28678505)

Never do something you're good at for free. It was their choice.

Re:And isn't this the point? (4, Insightful)

Old97 (1341297) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667183)

Precisely and the Fed CIO and other leaders who were wise enough to support/allow the sensible decisions to use FOSS deserve some kudos if for no other reason than to encourage more of the same. The Federal bureaucracy tends to be risk adverse and in many areas have shied away from open source and free software. Their system integrators (I used to work for one) did as well. All that is changing and that's a good thing. Now that I work for a private sector company I can point to the Fed's use of FOSS as evidence that we can trust it and rely on it. Our executives still want to give sacks of cash to vendors like IBM and Microsoft, but in the current economy they've become more receptive.

Re:And isn't this the point? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#28671091)

I agree with your point, but a better term would be "blame averse", they don't actually care about risk so long as there's a vendor to take the blame when it all goes wrong. Otherwise, FOSS would be the natural choice since it can be audited, and so the risks can be correctly analyzed.

!stealing (5, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667309)

Whoever tagged this story as "stealing" doesn't understand Free Software. The Federal CIO deserves extra credit for properly understanding and using it. Which, in turn, promotes it in the most powerful way.

Remember that the Feds have given away more software and other tech than any other single source. Including the Internet itself, and indeed jumpstarting computers, microprocessors, and even universal telephone service. Your tax dollars at work - in a way that private industry cannot claim. Events that have changed the world into a much freer place, both for software and for everything else.

Re:!stealing (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28667447)

Thank you. The whining from some individuals in this thread about Open Source / Free Software being used in EXACTLY THE FUCKING WAY IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE is one of the most shameful and pitiful things I've seen on Slashdot.

Re:!stealing (2, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#28672779)

    Some people get bent out of shape when they realize that their "free" license is being used by people other than their low paid peers. Oh my gosh, it's a big money rich group using it. They should pay! {sigh} If I give something away (which I do occasionally), it's free to reproduce at will. I do ask that I'm told if/when it's used in something.

    I have a little proof of concept encryption thing online. I look through the Apache logs once in a while to see who's visiting. Quite a few research labs and somewhat secret gov't organizations have viewed it and downloaded the package. I'd like to know that it's being used in something practical, but I know they can't tell me. My best hope is that someday I'll have something interesting enough out there where they'll not only want to use my little bits of code that I make available, but be hired on to work with them. A little "hmmm, this guy seems to know a little something" would hopefully go a long way. :)

    Am I going to cry if I find out that it's being used in the latest-greatest government initiative, or even as the new secure messing platform that Microsoft puts out with Windows 13? Nope. But if they do snag it and use it, I'll be more than happy to brag that up. Since mine is so simple, I seriously doubt anything beyond someone seeing it, thinking "that's a good idea", and writing their own code for it. But hey, if my functions show up in something big eventually, I'll be impressed. :)

Re:And isn't this the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28668127)

It is stupid to work unpaid and let others profit from it. Plain and simple.

Re:And isn't this the point? (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 4 years ago | (#28668387)

I think it is a good idea if you are out of work or a student, because then you get some CV points and hopefully give yourself an edge over other job applicants in the future. Unless you aren't very good - then it could be a bad idea! Or if you are unfortunate and get a popular platform that ends up with lots of security holes. Still, all good experience.

Re:And isn't this the point? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28669071)

"It is stupid to work unpaid and let others profit from it. Plain and simple."

Don't do it, then.

On the other hand, Slashdot's owners do profit from you posting here for free, so go figure what does mean for you.

Re:And isn't this the point? (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#28669265)

I suspect that the developers of this code were not only paid for their work, but paid well, and will continue to be paid for future work.

If they had refused to let others profit from it, it is likely their employer that would have profited, not them, since they would not have retained the rights to use it themselves.

Re:And isn't this the point? (1)

taucross (1330311) | more than 4 years ago | (#28670487)

ITT: People who will always be poor.

There is a time for everything in nature, young anon.

Re:And isn't this the point? (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 4 years ago | (#28679667)

If I had written the VM86 code for Minix, I'd be in a powerful position to argue why I should work for IBM right now. Operating system programming know-how and all.

When people create innovation and make it common (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#28669281)

When people create innovation and make it common and then other people build upon that platform to drive ever higher advancements by also making them commonly available, that's called progress. It's the advantage that free software has over the commercial variety.

Re:And isn't this the point? (1)

CrashNBrn (1143981) | more than 4 years ago | (#28671739)

What example, the summary looked like one big disjointed collection of links. Why not make the whole summary a link and be done with it.

Re:And isn't this the point? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#28672465)

Federal contractors got the cash. But sneak a peek [...] behind the Dashboard, and you'll see that some individuals also helped bring it to life with their free software.

The contractors got paid for their labor. They took these components and put them together. This is exactly what free software is about, making the information technology free (since it's infinitely copyable) and charging people for the labor, which is never free or infinite.

This is great! (4, Insightful)

mrjb (547783) | more than 4 years ago | (#28666921)

Less tax payers money being wasted. Also, part of releasing your code under a liberal license is that you permit others to use it free of charge under certain conditions. This happened, and those conditions were fulfilled. Quite a nice win for open source- What more do you want?

Re:This is great! (0, Troll)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667179)

"Less tax payers money being wasted."

If you think that that means you'll pay less tax, then you're obviously not living on the same planet as the rest of us.

Re:This is great! (1)

c0d3g33k (102699) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667343)

You misunderstood. The OP was applauding the fact that of the tax money collected, less of it was lost to unnecessary or needless costs. More of the tax money was spent wisely. As someone who understands the necessity of taxes and pays them willingly, seeing the money better spent pleases me greatly.

Re:This is great! (1)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667915)

"More of the tax money was spent wisely."

If you think that, then you're obviously not living on the same planet as the rest of us.

Re:This is great! (1)

xedd (75960) | more than 4 years ago | (#28668287)

"If you think that, then you're obviously not living on the same planet as the rest of us."

Please MrNaz, refrain from such liberal usage of the term "us".

Re:This is great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28675417)

Bravo!

Re:This is great! (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 4 years ago | (#28668395)

You only speak for yourself. You certainly don't speak for me. In fact by trying to take authority for your point of view from your presumption that everyone else agrees with you, you're guaranteed to be wrong, and lose the point.

Re:This is great! (1)

ohnobinki (1310917) | more than 4 years ago | (#28670891)

You only speak for yourself. You certainly don't speak for me. In fact by trying to take authority for your point of view from your presumption that everyone else agrees with you, you're guaranteed to be wrong, and lose the point.

This is the whole point. Many tax dollars spent do not benefit each and every citizen. Just because the government wants to fund a certain religious (e.g., secularist) school does not mean that every citizen will support that school.

In fact, the government should not be involved in education at all. The post you replied to is recognizing that the government is taking too much money—and power—into its own hands. Most of the taxes and powers belong to the citizens. This is the reason the American Colonies of England separated from England—because the government tried to become too involved in the lives of a self-governing and self-disciplined people.

The most obvious reason that government shouldn't be too involved in the daily affairs of law-abiding citizens is that noone should be forced to accept the (many times) biased points of view of governing agencies.

Re:This is great! (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 4 years ago | (#28671857)

Your post has nothing to do with the post I was responding too. It's certainly not the"whole point". Not even a related point.

Re:This is great! (2, Insightful)

ivucica (1001089) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667185)

FLOSS coders at least want recognition. Not everyone, but many do. Who has said "thanks" to them, who has said "this would not be possible without works of so-and-so"? That's what coders want, at the very least. Apple acknowledges FreeBSD's work. Did the US Government?

Re:This is great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28667235)

A point that I feel is missing is that a federal **contractor** got paid. The US Government doesn't need to acknowledge the work of FLOSS coders, the commercial organization that was paid does. They are the ones who made use of the libraries.

Re:This is great! (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667279)

If they require recognition, they can put it in their license.

Re:This is great! (1)

ivucica (1001089) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667505)

So, you say people have to force you in order for you to acknowledge their free contribution?

Re:This is great! (3, Insightful)

trg83 (555416) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667687)

I'm just now joining the thread. I would say force is too strong a word as it brings to mind lawsuits and court orders. However, for commercial projects that I work on that use open source software (non-GPL), I would certainly not go out of my way to list all the software I was using without being compelled to by a license. The simple reason is that there is creativity in aggregating software just as there is in writing code. If a competitor had in their hands a complete list of technologies used to implement an enterprise product, it would certainly not be equivalent to having access to our source code, but it could certainly provide insight into how some of our sexiest features were composed. On the surface, the competition argument in this case doesn't seem that compelling because it's a governement site, but in reality the government contractors are competing in the marketplace like any other software consulting company. Of course I could start another thread here about how people who use open source should open source their software. I think the reality of that is that most businesses are not open to this. Although none of the applications that I have worked on professionally are open source, I have contributed several patches and bug fixes to help improve the underlying libraries the software depends on. I still sleep fine at night.

Re:This is great! (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 4 years ago | (#28669095)

"So, you say people have to force you in order for you to acknowledge their free contribution?"

No, he didn't say so. But what he said is that if you forcibly want something, you'd better put it on write in a binding way or else you'll get it... or not. Not rocket science, anyway.

Re:This is great! (2, Interesting)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667379)

FLOSS coders at least want recognition. Not everyone, but many do. Who has said "thanks" to them, who has said "this would not be possible without works of so-and-so"? That's what coders want, at the very least. Apple acknowledges FreeBSD's work. Did the US Government?

Do the license terms require someone to say "thanks" to them beyond the usual copyright notice and attribution statement? No? Then nobody cares that you didn't get the recognition that you didn't ask for, emo kid.

Re:This is great! (3, Insightful)

ivucica (1001089) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667457)

Then nobody cares that you didn't get the recognition that you didn't ask for, emo kid.

First, that was uncalled for.

Second, ever heard of good manners? Just because license doesn't order to do it, it doesn't mean the user shouldn't be nice by saying Thanks. Just like it might be nice to click on the "Donate" buttons or seek for alternative way to donate to authors; almost nobody would complain if you did, y'know.

If an expensive US federal project can't even afford to put at least the names of unpaid contributors and honor them in that way... Well, the world is really doomed. I almost always have a "About site" page where I say what tools I used. Because I apparently have some manners.

Re:This is great! (0, Flamebait)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667875)

Then nobody cares that you didn't get the recognition that you didn't ask for, emo kid.

First, that was uncalled for.

I cannot disagree strongly enough.

Second, ever heard of good manners?

Yes. Not whining because the things you think should have happened that the developers obviously do not care about (lest they would have used a different license) is poor manners. No one wants to see you whine.

Just like it might be nice to click on the "Donate" buttons or seek for alternative way to donate to authors; almost nobody would complain if you did, y'know.

That's not called good manners, that's called being nice. They're the federal government, they don't do that sort of thing.

If an expensive US federal project can't even afford to put at least the names of unpaid contributors and honor them in that way... Well, the world is really doomed.

No, just the US of A.

Re:This is great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28668193)

The contractor failed to thank the programmers. The federal government only bought that software so it isn't their responsibility to populate an about box with the names of used technologies.

Re:This is great! (1)

Weedhopper (168515) | more than 4 years ago | (#28668907)

Just like it might be nice to click on the "Donate" buttons or seek for alternative way to donate to authors; almost nobody would complain if you did, y'know.

That's not called good manners, that's called being nice. They're the federal government, they don't do that sort of thing.

I want a Winnebago!

Re:This is great! (1)

ivucica (1001089) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667493)

And I guess that in the future I should read what I reply to better.

So, now that I did, I have an additional question: where are the "usual copyright and attribution statements"? Where are they on the site? I can't see them. Please help this emo kid.

Re:This is great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28668999)

emo

Re:This is great! (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#28673865)

So, now that I did, I have an additional question: where are the "usual copyright and attribution statements"? Where are they on the site? I can't see them. Please help this emo kid.

If the terms of the license aren't being adhered to, then that's legitimate reason to complain. And yes, it is nice to give credit even when it's not required. What's not legitimate is complaining that someone's not pandering to an emotional need for recognition.

Re:This is great! (1)

ivucica (1001089) | more than 4 years ago | (#28674315)

And yes, it is nice to give credit even when it's not required. What's not legitimate is complaining that someone's not pandering to an emotional need for recognition.

Then we're actually having the same thoughts, since I was not talking about a need for recognition, I was just trying to say that people feel good and better when recognized.

Don't you feel that way when recognized and credited for your contributions?

Re:This is great! (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#28684819)

Then we're actually having the same thoughts, since I was not talking about a need for recognition, I was just trying to say that people feel good and better when recognized.

In my more argumentative days of years past I would have launched into a post about the fundamental lack of difference, psychologically, between wants and needs. However, I'd just end up boring myself to death so let's agree that it's good to recognize others for their hard work.

Re:This is great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28676659)

That's what the government did, and what the licenses require: leaving attribution in comments.

Re:This is great! (1)

Cillian (1003268) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667417)

You assume by the first part that everybody on earth who codes Free software is from the USA... Not everybody might think it an advantage that the USA saves money from their work. (Although, I agree that by releasing it as Free software they forfeit their right to give a damn)

Re:This is great! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28668779)

Why does everyone assume that because you are using open source software you automatically save money? I have seen MANY instances where buying a $1000 piece of commerical software over a OSS solution saved us the cost of the package over extra development time to integrate the OSS software. Every situation is different and we should never assume OSS is always the best choice. A good developer will always weigh their choices and make the best decsion for that particular case.

Re:This is great! (2, Informative)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#28672901)

    Budgets are a wonderful thing. If you've ever known anyone who works with the government, you'll have heard of it in action. Say a department is budgeted $1,000,000 USD (a low number by gov't standards). Now say that they've spent $750,000 USD by the end of the month, quarter, or fiscal year depending on the period of that budget. They have two choices. Either they can say "Oh, our job only really requires $750,000", and that's what will be budgeted for the next period, or they can spend the money on something (within guidelines, of course). They'll have "the following 20 people will be off at training for the next 3 weeks", which of course not only covers the outrageously priced training, but air fare, and per diem. They may have a new round of desktop and network upgrades. They may find it is time to retire several vehicles from the motor pool. Maybe they came in under budget because they are actually behind on the projects. Time to hire 20 new people.

    I thought it was a joke when I heard about contracts for road construction. Over the years, it has become abundantly obvious that it is no joke. The way many road construction contracts go is like this. The companies bid at a rather high rate, to get it done in at least 2x the time required. The companies don't undercut each other by much. They all want the lucrative contract. Of course, there's enough included to help out with kickbacks and other assorted favors. Oh, did I say that last part? No, that never happens in the gov't at any level. So, back to the story. The job will read that it must start by Jan 1 of 2010, and be completed by Jan 1 of 2015. They get paid $15,385 for every day during the construction period, and get a $100,000 incentive if they complete it by Jan 1 2014.

  The company who won the contract looks at it and realized:

  $15,385 * 1300 days = $20,000,500
  ($15,385 * 1040 days) + $100,000 = 16,100,400
  or
  $15,385 * (1300 days + 260 days overrun) = $24,000,600

  They already know this is only a 6 month job. On Jan 1 2010 and dig up a section of road, to indicate that they are actually working. They park equipment on it (which necessitates the fees, since that equipment cannot be used elsewhere), place cones, etc, etc. They spend a few weeks accomplishing this. Traffic backs up. People get mad. Stuff doesn't happen. Every few months, you'll see a little bit of work being done, but you never see any notable progress. Then comes April 30, 2015. An amazing flurry of construction begins. If they're lucky, they don't have any unexpected problems (weather, increases in costs, etc), and by Dec 20, 2015 they've completed the job. Everyone goes home and has a nice holiday with their families.

    What really came of that? A contracted paid on a day basis should have run for approx 150 days of continued work. Still, that was a $2,307,750 job. Yet, the taxpayers still paid the $20,000,000 for the work to be accomplished.

    That, my son, is where your tax dollars go. It's not a mistake, or any sort of laziness by anyone in the system. It's simply the way it works.

    And why didn't they go for the $24,000,600 goal? There may be something in the contract which would limit them from participating in future contracts if x% of previous contracts were overruns. It's a short term gain, but a long term loss. Sure, an extra $4 million in my company sounds good, but why not take another $20 million contract that only really costs about $2.3 million. That $17.7 million profit sounds really nice.

    I serious oversimplified this. There are some factors like surveying; procurement of materials; re-engineering various aspects; finding Indian burial grounds along the proposed route; special interest groups tying things up with lawsuits and petitions (oh god, who gives a heck about the spotted red-headed cocksucker?); or a billion other things that can go wrong. Maybe the company who got the contract couldn't accomplish it in time because they had all their employees at another site which was really running behind. Maybe another job came in and said "We want this done in 6 months", which is actually a 3 week job, but hey, they're paying for 6 months.

    I am far from knocking how companies work, or the work they do. I sure as hell wouldn't want to be out in the heat in the Southern US, building a road with cars on the now narrowed lanes zipping around me all summer. More power to you guys. It's just the companies that take advantage of the way the contracts are written to ensure they get the most profit, rather than just doing the job and doing it right in the shortest time required.

    I see this in the IT world too, which may be more familiar to more of you. You hear rumblings about a project that may happen, but don't hear anything else for 6 months. You and your team (hopefully) are then told "We have to have this project completed in the next 90 days", and you find out it's a 9 month project that none of you had ever heard of, and the customer already assumes you're 60% complete with. Hurry up, get it done, oh my gosh we need more time, and woosh, a barely running project is delivered to the customer. Oh my, aren't they happy? They'll be back in 6 months for the next version, that you won't know anything about until 90 days before it's due.

beep (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28666923)

i'm an unpaid, unsung, uncoded coder.

Not impressed (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28666933)

Looking at the Dashboard [usaspending.gov], I just see pretty charts and graphs with vague things like "Normal", "Needs Attention", and "Significant Concerns" with percentages.

I would like to see dollar figures and who is actually getting the money. For example, I want to be able to click on the red "Significant Concerns" and see exactly why that's the case.

My second point: if you F/OSS folks don't like your creations being used by folks and not getting credit or money, then you should put explicit terms in your license that state what exactly you demand. People are not mind readers and just throwing it out on the net with some sort of GPL license and expect folks to just give you money or credit isn't going to happen: you have to demand it. Whining about it on Slashdot doesn't count.

P.S. To whoever wrote this edit box script: you suck!

Re:Not impressed (3, Interesting)

billcopc (196330) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667063)

As I have also recently learned, a dashboard is just that: a bunch of charts, graphs and maybe a few summary tables. To literate folks like you and I, it is a huge waste of time and space, but to the average bean counter with half a brain, it is supposedly a tangible vulgarisation of otherwise indigestible data.

The good thing about this gov't dashboard is it seems to have good drill-downs, I was able to click through 3-4 levels deep to find out more and more details. They show you how they calculate a project's rating, and while it is a very simple and potentially misleading metric, at least they lay it out for you (how many deadlines were missed, how often did it go overbudget, etc). They even show a picture of the asshole in charge of each project, too bad you can't click the asshole and have it sort and rate HIS "specific concerns", but they're probably afraid of all the little McVeigh wannabes out there who would love to thin the herd...

Dashboards suck, but this is one of the better ones I've seen. I wouldn't call it worthy of an standing ovation, but I'm just a prick that way. Why don't we ask the old Harvard Graphics folks if they ever got a standing ovation for drawing pie charts, hmm ?

Re:Not impressed (3, Insightful)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667173)

Dashboards can be very helpful if you intimately understand the business in question. Giving execs and top level management access to dashboards can truly enhance efficiency and problem recognition.

However, making those very same dashboards public-facing is an exercise in futility. A dashboard, by its nature, leverages knowledge that people are expected to already have.

Re:Not impressed (1)

whoop (194) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667329)

... If only we had a good car analogy to describe what a dashboard is.

Re:Not impressed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28667979)

Your request was filled in about 1.5 hours. i wonder if Slashdot can dashboard this? Maybe "Car Apologies Per Request". Or maybe something for idiot posts that start with Fail or use kthxbye.

Re:Not impressed (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667919)

However, making those very same dashboards public-facing is an exercise in futility. A dashboard, by its nature, leverages knowledge that people are expected to already have.

Fail. Just like your car's dash [slashdot.org] tells you things you could figure out from other factors if only you had time, so does a dashboard of financial information. Sure, I could find out how fast I was going by watching my clock and the mile markers, but I need to know sooner than that. A site like this one does the same thing. It's easy to sit back and say "That's useless" when you're contributing nothing, or don't care about the subject matter... Also, just like giving a "dashboard" to an exec, this makes the information readily available to people who aren't accountants.

Re:Not impressed (0)

adolf (21054) | more than 4 years ago | (#28669451)

Fail. My car's dashboard doesn't give me anything I need that I can't get from other sources.

Speed? Aftermarket GPS. Distance? Aftermarket GPS. Fuel tank level? On-board computer. I don't get a tachometer without using the instrument cluster, but my ears work well enough for that.

Careful with them there absolute statements, drinkypoo. ;)

Re:Not impressed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28675539)

drinkypoo: Just like your car's dash tells you things you could figure out from other factors if only you had time

adolf: Fail. My car's dashboard doesn't give me anything I need that I can't get from other sources.

So... your car's dashboard tells you things you could figure out from other factors?

Re:Not impressed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28668007)

Dammit, I tried to mod parent "Insightful" and accidentally hit "Redundant". Now if I post to undo it, I also lose the three mod points I spent elsewhere in the thread. Why can't I have an undo?

So? (3, Insightful)

quetwo (1203948) | more than 4 years ago | (#28666971)

Really? You are concerned about that? Go browse the web for 10 minutes, and show me which websites DON'T use pre-packaged AJAX/JavaScript libraries. EXT, YUI, etc., are all over the place, and used every day. The fact these contractors used these OSS libraries shouldn't concern anybody -- really. Nothing to see here, go on with your Microsoft basing.

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28667143)

Every time I "base" my Microsoft products my hair catches fire.....

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28668739)

Every time I "base" my Microsoft products my hair catches fire.....

If you'd only listened to RMS when he warned you of the dangers of non-free basing you might still have your full, shaggy head of hair and neck-beard.

I'm sorry Slashdot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28667011)

You confused me for someone who cares..

Re:I'm sorry Slashdot (1, Troll)

Ragzouken (943900) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667023)

I'm sorry, but you must have confused me for someone who wanted to read your comment.

why is this fodder on my homepage? (0, Offtopic)

MeatBag PussRocket (1475317) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667035)

pardon my ignorance, but this is newsworthy- why? last i checked FOSS in some form or another exists just about everywhere. CC and GNU is used daily by individuals, companies and governments worldwide. or am i missing something here? is the author suggesting is a problem because they are _unpaid?_ thats the inherent problem with FOSS because just like crime, volunteering doesn't pay.

Re:why is this fodder on my homepage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28670803)

I suspect from the context that you may want to consult a dictionary on the meaning of "fodder".

More money for an entirely corrupt office!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28667039)

FBI Raids Office of Vivek Kundra, DC CTO [sepiamutiny.com]

No, Kundra wasn't found to be corrupt. But everyone else in his office was.

Imagine that.

CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN!!!

Re:More money for an entirely corrupt office!!! (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667217)

The FBI arrested two procurers [wired.com] in his office for taking a bribe from a contractor (you'd think, him being the boss and everything, if he knew about it it would be HIM getting the bribe, but I digress). He was not implicated. But if you want to go around accusing people of felonies because it suits your politics, get ready for it to be thrown back at you someday.

Re:More money for an entirely corrupt office!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28667385)

The FBI arrested two procurers [wired.com] in his office for taking a bribe from a contractor (you'd think, him being the boss and everything, if he knew about it it would be HIM getting the bribe, but I digress). He was not implicated. But if you want to go around accusing people of felonies because it suits your politics, get ready for it to be thrown back at you someday.

Umm, go poke around the archives of Daily Kos and Democratic Underground if you want to see people trying to criminalize policy differences...

Or better yet, ask Barack Obama's Attorney General [newsweek.com]

I wonder if he'll prosecute Nancy Pelosi [nytimes.com]?

I see you don't like getting criminilization of policy differences "thrown back at you".

So STFU.

403 Forbidden (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28667057)

So sayeth http://it.usaspending.gov/customcode/.

Thanks for a great article, slashdot

What do you want!? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28667059)

Speaking as someone who deals with this almost daily, just trying to get the Fed to use OSS is like pulling teeth. When they do, you certainly don't shout if from the rooftops, or someone will surely swoop down and make you remove it. Additionally, it is Open Source. Sorry that they didn't stroke your ego's and make you feel good about yourselves. Perhaps folks should reconsider the real purpose of open source; is it benefit for the community, or is it an outlet for you to earn praise?

Not News by any stretch... (2, Interesting)

sjs132 (631745) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667101)

I looked for an F'n article to read, but couldn't find one. It looks more like one person putting together an opinion to post on Slashdot, not '"News" for nerds' in any sense.

Best I could tell from this headline: "Unsung, Unpaid Coders Behind Federal IT Dashboard", is that someone is pissed they didn't get part of the bailouts or federal stimulus. Guess what, whats how socialism works, they should get used to it, we'll see much more. It only really works on paper, eventually you have no motivation to work/create if you end up being "Unsung, Unpaid" and it will eventually collapse.

If someone truly want to contribute to "society" with their code, license it on a per-case basis. Someone you like, license for a few dollars to feed your belly lunch. Someone you don't really like (Microsoft assumed usually in this case), then increase the license fee to where both parties are comfortable with the trade.

(The trade = use of your code for cash. All of society is based on labor trades. Trade for food, clothing, shelter or something that can be later traded for those things, such as gold, guns, political power, etc. Society eventually breaks down when those that produce no labored product expect to be compensated on the same scale as those that do produce a labored product.)

Re:Not News by any stretch... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28667137)

Gee, another right-wing wanker who doesn't know what socialism is, making up their own definition. And on Slashdot none-the-less!

Re:Not News by any stretch... (1)

Oswald (235719) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667153)

I looked for an F'n article to read, but couldn't find one. It looks more like one person putting together an opinion to post on Slashdot....

Exactly. Just some clown with an AOL email (are they suddenly retro chic?) trolling. How it got to the front page I cannot imagine.

Re:Not News by any stretch... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28667165)

Actually, it seems to have been posted by someone who (like you) doesn't understand how Free Software works. It has nothing to do with socialism. Its still 'trade'. It just doesn't involve cash.

People who release code as Free Software are trading *their* code, for *your* improvements to it (if you make any), as well as helping to ensure that proprietary software 'vendors' don't lock it up and prevent anyone else from using it, or even writing code that can interoperate with it.

People who write and release Free Software do *not* expect monetary compensation, they are happy that people use it for any purpose.

Feel free to read: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html for a more thorough explanation.

Re:Not News by any stretch... (2, Insightful)

oberondarksoul (723118) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667177)

eventually you have no motivation to work/create if you end up being "Unsung, Unpaid"

But this code has already been created. None of the authors had any financial incentive to release it for free, but they have done! Trying to claim that they wouldn't flies against the fact that many projects are and have been created for no other purpose than because their authors wanted to, thought it would be fun, wanted a hobby, or so on. Money is not the only reward.

Re:Not News by any stretch... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28667827)

Society eventually breaks down when those that produce no labored product expect to be compensated on the same scale as those that do produce a labored product

Remind me - exactly what does America produce these days? Also, who said America's lifestyle was not up for negotiation?

Re:Not News by any stretch... (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 4 years ago | (#28672107)

Best I could tell from this headline: "Unsung, Unpaid Coders Behind Federal IT Dashboard", is that someone is pissed they didn't get part of the bailouts or federal stimulus. Guess what, whats how socialism works, they should get used to it, we'll see much more. It only really works on paper, eventually you have no motivation to work/create if you end up being "Unsung, Unpaid" and it will eventually collapse.

Wrong on 2 counts:

  1. The fact that the coder was not paid for this particular use of the software doesn't mean the coder wasn't paid. There are other kinds of remuneration than license fees. In my lifetime I've made $100s of thousands of dollars getting paid to write software that was released under similar terms.
  2. Experience demonstrates that FOSS does not 'eventually collapse'. Most of the Internet - and many of its biggest commercial entities - are running on FOSS. Apparently, there is a... wait for it... sustainable market for FOSS.

I don't know why the 'FOSS == hobbyist/amateur' myth is getting so much traction these days. It's been demonstrated time and again that most FOSS developers (but not general participants) are paid to do that work by someone. The contributions from true hobbyists tend to be more in skinning, testing, documentation and other meta-level work.

But even though that's true, the thing that most sustains the FOSS system is fundamentally socialist: We don't assume that the code belongs to anyone in particular once it's done. That precept is difficult to implement in the world of atoms, but in a world of limitless replicability, socialism works just fine, thank you very much. In fact, I'd venture to say it's going to survive the next decade in better shape than so-called 'Intellectual Property'.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to put on my beret and join the other penguinistas as we storm the storm the Fed. 8^)

This is as it should be (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28667231)

Dear theodp at aol dot com,
    Yes, people get paid for delivering solutions built on Free software. Perhaps you should read
http://www.fsf.org/licensing/essays/pragmatic.html
and
http://www.fsf.org/licensing/essays/selling.html

    And there's not an obligation for them to divvy up their earnings and send them upstream.

    The solution you're thinking of, where everyone has to get paid, is called proprietary software. Like the Bad Old Days, where you had to go license libraries for everything you didn't write from scratch, and you had to go buy your compiler for hundreds of dollars.

    Funny your name is 'theo', you sound like the whining BSD users who bitch that GPL "won't allow them to make money", then howl when someone takes their code, uses it, and doesn't release source. (BAWWWWW nobody paid us for openssh but Sun ships it!)

Good to see OSS get some attention (1)

htdrifter (1392761) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667371)

Three OSS projects were used to build an application for the Gov that everyone can use and evaluate. The White House is using OSS. That is a step forward. The creators of the packages can put this on there resumes. Business see this and OSS becomes more acceptable. I read this and find three packages used in a working app that can be evaluated on-line. I will definitely look into how I can use these packages.

permission denied (1)

NynexNinja (379583) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667521)

Looks like the evidence wasn't up for long. http://it.usaspending.gov/customcode/ [usaspending.gov] now reports: You don't have permission to access /customcode/ on this server.

Alternatives to licensing fees? (1)

Redfeather (1033680) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667571)

Even if the software is free, it would be reassuring to see the government encourage further development by offering the coders behind these libraries some sort of honorarium - a public recognition that their work is being used for big things. Even if it's the slap-in-the-face One Dollar honorarium, public acknowledgement is big.

Re:Alternatives to licensing fees? (1)

jea6 (117959) | more than 4 years ago | (#28668505)

Except this wasn't developed by "The Government." It was developed by a federal contractor, namely "GSA awarded REI Systems a 5-year, $10 million contract in March 2008 to work on USASpending.gov and other OMB systems."

Re:Alternatives to licensing fees? (1)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 4 years ago | (#28670995)

Even if the software is free, it would be reassuring to see the government encourage further development by offering the coders behind these libraries some sort of honorarium - a public recognition that their work is being used for big things. Even if it's the slap-in-the-face One Dollar honorarium, public acknowledgement is big.

Open source is used in many places throughout the government. This is just one website for one department of the government. It is good that OSS works for them in this case but why publicly recognize the coders or the contractors who put all the components together to make the website what it is? This was a job just like any other contract job. Why recognize the contractors in this case but no others throughout the other departments of the government that hire contractors who end up using OSS in their designs? I don't expect public recognition for any OSS that I deploy as a contractor for the DOJ so what is so special about these contractors?

Re:Alternatives to licensing fees? (1)

Redfeather (1033680) | more than 4 years ago | (#28671089)

Ok, perhaps I was over-specific, or the article was. I believe people should be given credit for their work. Monetarily or otherwise. I don't mean just in this case. I'm aware that tracking and crediting is a massive job, and I don't blame anyone for failing to embark on it, nor for not making themselves the examples by being the first to do so, but still. I just think it's a good idea.

This is a Good Thing (1)

Orbital Sander (237340) | more than 4 years ago | (#28667969)

The site is running Apache [apache.org] on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 [redhat.com], and it looks like Drupal [drupal.org] running on PHP [php.net]. What more do you want?

It isn't paying for the code. (1)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | more than 4 years ago | (#28668625)

These contractors don't get paid 18 million dollars for a web site for nothing. It's called sales and marketing. It is something free coders never have, and it can get very dirty. But it is highly rewarding, as can be seen by all these contractors being awarded absurd amounts of money for code they didn't write, and shit that's worthless. That is why the government shouldn't decide what the people want. They should never be allowed to go shopping, because they do not have a budget, in the normal sense.

Case in point, if any of this came out of their own pockets, none of these purchases would be made.

Re:It isn't paying for the code. (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 4 years ago | (#28672169)

It's called sales and marketing. It is something free coders never have, and it can get very dirty. But it is highly rewarding....

I find developing Free software very rewarding, too, but I think we have different definitions for the word. In my definition, I get to keep my soul.

I get paid good money to do work with FOSS, too, but the 'keep your soul' part really sealed the deal for me.

How do I set to ignore submitters and editors? (3, Insightful)

Weedhopper (168515) | more than 4 years ago | (#28668931)

Because this entire submission is just absolute drivel from FOSS cheerleaders who simply don't understand the fucking point of FOSS.

This is EXACTLY how FOSS is supposed to be used.

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