Categories
Computers Family Feelings

GNUThink

I sometimes get to a point where I question a lot of what I do and what matters to me. Sometimes it’s because of simple things, like a broken tool, or a frustrating problem. Sometimes it’s more of a philosophy problem, where I question how I feel about something and if I should change my ideas or mannerisms behind some action.

Lately, it’s been a little of both. I use an iPhone, Apple Music, iCloud (storage, etc), Office 365, and probably other tools and services that would be considered “non-free” in the “libre” sense. This has lead to me thinking about what I actually want out of computing. It’s such a thorny question, because there are so many comfortable choices that I’m in, that upending them would probably throw my life (and my family’s) into temporary turmoil.

For instance: Office 365. I pay for just the Exchange Online component, because I don’t need the actual Office suite as we (my family) get it free from my school and other organizations that we’re associated with. Exchange Online has been fine from a end-user perspective. Very rarely do I have any real issues to speak of, other than paying for it. My real problem here is that it’s a very proprietary platform, and because of that, it’s moderately difficult to get out of and to connect to with free-software tools. The IMAP support is… functional, but the contacts and calendars are tied down.

Similarly, I have lots of Apple devices and services. Like Office 365, I don’t have any complaints, per se, it’s just that they’re extremely proprietary and that means getting out of the ecosystem is difficult, and like above, connecting using free-software tools is straight up impossible.

The reason I have these things in the first place is that my family, who don’t hold my free-software ideals, want/need access to reliable tools they can use from multiple places. This is not an unreasonable request, and is one that can be solved with enough time, free-software, capital and expertise. Unfortunately, I’m not willing or able to host all of that, or even administer it. I don’t have the time, and I certainly don’t have the specific expertise to do all of it. Hence the current implementation.

Balance between freedom, convenience and cost is a tricky one. While I’d personally like to model myself more in line with the FSF’s computing ideals. The problem is that I have family members that I have to support as well. I’d also like to move them toward more free-software systems. While I recognize their choice in platforms is their own, I also get to say what I will and will not support (kind of, family is so complicated).

I don’t have any kind of resolution for this, I’m still trying to figure out what kind of path I want to take. Is pragmatism the smarter choice? Idealism feels right, but is massively more difficult to implement. There is probably a good middle of the road, but I don’t know if I’m on it. Maybe it doesn’t matter?

What should I do?

Featured Image

“Ugh, a Mac”, by Joe Wilcox – License: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Categories
Computers Misc

Free Software

No big exposition on free software, or anything like that. I just wanted to write about how I re-enrolled as a Associate (Student) Member to the Free Software Foundation. I encourage anyone who believes in Open Source to do so as well.

I also wanted to upload this.

Categories
Feelings News Politics

RMS and Abuse

Content Warning: The following article contains reports of sexual abuse, including rape. If you’re not comfortable with that, then I’d suggest just finding a summary, which I hope to do some of here. Also, it’s on Medium, which does not respect your privacy, so… take it how you will.


There is a rather angry article making the rounds in the Open Source world, today. It centers around the MIT/Epstein clusterfuck and the GNU/FSF director Richard Stallman, usually known as “RMS”. He has strong ties to MIT, where he worked in the Artificial Intelligence Lab back in the 1970’s and likely knew or worked with Marvin Minsky who, allegedly, had sex with one of Epstein’s sex slaves. RMS also started the Free Software Foundation and the GNU Program based on some of the work he did while at the MIT AI Lab.

In the article, RMS replied to a question from a student, and basically danced around the idea by questioning terms and generally acting like someone who doesn’t know how to read the room. That doesn’t really surprise me. The guy is odd, as a person. He’s publicly stated some pretty wild stuff about the age of consent and pedophilia, all centering around picking at the technical reasons or laws surrounding it. I’d really like to see him apologize for his statement or clarify. I imagine he won’t. He’s probably too close to the subject to have an objective viewpoint. His Alma Matter is being attacked and a man who was probably one of his (deceased) colleagues is being run through the mill. His only defense is probably one of picking apart the argument itself.

The whole dumpster fire around Epstein needed to happen. As painful as it is, we need to get it out in the open and deal with it. It’s going to hurt the reputation of Open Source, GNU and the FSF, but there are ways of mitigating it. I hold no allegiance to RMS. He is a man and has made mistakes and should apologize. I disagree with some of the things he says, but agree with many others. He’s done great work and I’ll continue to use and contribute to that work in what ways I can.

The author then goes on to state:

I am ready, now, to join others in calling for burning everything to the ground.

Selam G. – Remove Richard Stallman

So, is this how we deal with problems now? Tear it all down and try and start over again? I think this is an overreaction. If we take this problem solving method further, we’d never accomplish anything. The author should have reached out to RMS directly. Talked with him like a rational human being and see if there is something she’s missing or point out the same to him. Now she’s plastered all over the F/OSS world, with some rather pointed questions levied at her, especially regarding her jab at her and RMS’ former school. I don’t envy her.