[PLUG] [OT] Re: Government Sponsored Vendor lock

Shridhar Daithankar ghodechhap at ghodechhap.net
Wed Jul 28 11:42:34 IST 2010

On Wednesday 28 July 2010 10:49:00 Mayuresh wrote:
> On Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 10:21:11AM +0530, Shridhar Daithankar wrote:
> > Thats a long winded way..
> > 
> > I think some bad publicity and public pressure would help it better.
> > 
> > Some thing like MKCL does not test their sites under alternate browser
> > and force IE out of assumption when the site actually works fine with
> > user-agent spoofing, so there really isn't anything IE specific(yet!)
> That's true. However the issue is not only with browsers but also with
> products like Office.

I think its about perception, ease-of-use and general sheep mentality coupled 
with lack of training. People do not understand computer. That it works, is a 
miracle to them and want to protect the status-quo at all the levels.

This phenomenon is far more widespread than it is apparent. I know of 
commercial web developers who treat html files like binary. They cannot read 
it if opened in notepad, they need dreamweaver to edit htmls. Neither they can 
detect what is changed since last time.

I have collected fees for "cleaning" malware infected html files using sed but 
I would rather not have to do it.

> It can be seen as a more general issue. I think, no policy makers or
> vendors or public at large realize price implications of proprietary
> platforms. Guess a significant proportion of the users may be using
> pirated installations. (Think of it, how many would file IT returns by
> buying MS Excel just for it?) Indirectly it is also promoting piracy.

Most people will pay a CA to do accounts and file the returns.  Thing is 
people do not understand IT and technology nor do they want to.(thats not 
limited to software/computers alone. how many people maintain air pressure in 
their vehicle tyres regularly or follow a servicing schedule?) 

Its a eternal problem of geek v/s non-geek thats just reflected in the policy 
by popular demand.

> While everything that helps should be tried, the real ownership of the
> apps is not with the software vendor but with their customer - Govt.
> Besides PIL (which I agree is long drawn), don't know whether other means
> such as RTI, media coverage, making such questions reach political parties
> that can pursue it in the parliament (Sounds too much? But that's
> officially supposed to be the way in democracy!) are feasible or not.

I am skeptical on relying on the government. I guess that sums up what I feel 
about it.  :(
> Besides Govt processes, there are schools mandating students to do their
> assignments in certain office software. May be that's even harder to
> change till the awareness at large increases.

FOSS did make inroads in that syllabus. Sudhanwa was instrumental in 
participating the efforts to replace software required in curriculum with FOSS 
alternatives such as gcc, postgresql etc. Lots of curriculum(at least in pune 
uni.) need foss alternative.

However that has not resulted in any net value to students and educators IMO. 
Colleges have linux installations, many a times only one machine which 
somebody has setup long time ago and teachers are afraid to touch(I have seen 
redhat 6.2 running 3-4 years ago). Nobody knows how to install a linux distro. 
and do not think thats a problem to start with.

There could be exceptions but by-and-large they are exceptions.

it keeps coming back to geek v/s geek-curious debate. Curiosity is what 
separates geeks from others. rest are just consequences. 


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