March 17, 2003

Bulk view

tala’s open source interview

Not one of my most coherent responses, but it must be done.

How do you/does your organization support and advocate Open Source
Software? What activities have you spearheaded or joined in?

I maintain or contribute source code and time to a few open source
projects like the Emacs Planner module. I’ve given several talks at
local Linux events such as the UP Open Source Day held on February 20,
2003, and the Ateneo I.T. Forum held on March 7, 2003. I am also the
current vice president of the Philippine Linux Users Group and I am
active in a couple of mailing lists like plug and ph-linux-newbie.

Why do you support the use of Open Source Software?

Because it’s fun. Because it helps me practice my skills. Because it
gives me bucketloads of free software that I can use, customize, debug
and develop. Because it helps me make a difference.

What are the advantages of using Open Source Software over

Proprietary Software generally and specifically for the Philippines?
From a techie’s point of view? From a layman’s point of view (such
as a student or an office secretary or clerk)?

Speaking as a techie, I find open source to be absolutely wonderful. I
can learn as much as I want from whatever software program I choose. I
can tweak, experiment, and rewrite to my heart’s content. For me, free
and open source software is about freedom – the freedom to learn, the
freedom to improve.

You might also be interested in an essay of mine.

What is the current state of Open Source Software in the Philippines?

You might want to check out the openminds_ph archives for a lot of
discussion on that.

In your opinion, will the use of Open Source Software spread and
gain more popularity? What factors will help the spread of use?

I don’t see why not. Open source software just makes a lot of sense to
me. There are a lot of companies and schools looking into open
source, and even our government is slowly exploring open source.

What factors will hinder the spread of the use of Open Source
Software in the Philippines?

Many businesses are locked into proprietary solutions because they’d
come to rely on a single vendor, and big software companies try to
make sure that people don’t know they have alternatives. For example,
if you didn’t know that you could save files in other formats simply
by using the File -> Save As command in Microsoft Word, you’d end up
saving in the closed Microsoft Word format. If you’re using something
like Microsoft Word 2002 and your friends only have Microsoft Word 98,
they’ll have to buy new software just to open your file. People buy
Microsoft Office because “everyone else uses it.”

There’s also the impression that open source is intimidating and that
it’s only for geeks. A lot of work is being done to improve it on the desktop,
and companies are springing up to provide Linux support.

In your opinion, does Open Source Software have a future in the
Philippine IT industry?



From an emacs-devel message

John Wiegley has a tool called initsplit.el on his web-site for
breaking customizations into multiple files. The issue (I believe) is
why load all the customization information for a package into Emacs if
you’re not going to load the package (at least during this particular
session)? Also, it would allow you to keep the customizations for a
package close to (in the sense of your .emacs files) everything else
associated with the package. Different people (I guess) have
different levels of what they consider to be a “tidy” .emacs file.

I love Emacs.

open source questionnaire

A student doing a research paper on open source asked me if I could be interviewed. I said yes, of course, since I love doing whatever I can to advocate Linux. She sent me a questionnaire by e-mail.

A Word document attachment.

I politely wrote her back and suggested the use of non-proprietary
formats in the future, especially when sending out an open source
questionnaire – I was nice, though, and told her I’d extracted the
text already. To this, she replied that she didn’t have any
non-proprietary software on her system, but that she was working on

Ah, such is the insidious power of Microsoft! It causes people to
forget that plain text and HTML files are eminently more open than the
native Microsoft Word document, and much smaller too. Pffft. Not only
that, people have gotten far too used to saving plain, unformatted
text files as a Microsoft Word document, unaware of the other document
types and the fact that they can produce such…

on why I do not judge poetry

Despite all the efforts of my English literature teachers (and a
number of friends), I refuse to profess any ability to distinguish
good poetry from bad poetry, and indeed good art from bad art.
Because those crazy cubists can draw weird stuff and still be called
masters, I conclude that it is next to impossible for me to
distinguish between an intentionally bad poem (a brilliant satire of
the affectations of lesser writers! a shining example of subtle wit
and humor!) and a simply horrible piece of junk. I suspect that most
art critics make it up, anyway.

You can probably see how this kind of attitude got me two Ds in
freshman English. I have neither patience nor desire to sit around in
a circle discussing the irony in the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.
Give me a program instead.