Is "free" always a good thing?

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by error404 » Tue May 15, 2012 7:39 pm
I think education (and government) is a perfect venue for open source to succeed and be a huge boon - but it really needs to be embraced by the stakeholders. Schools have specific niche needs, and aren't really driven by business interests. If a sea-change in attitude at educational institutions occurred and all of a sudden half of such places put their software budget into developers and sponsorship for open source projects, I think we'd quickly see how successful the model can be. There are a few problems of course - someone needs to be the steward for the project and manage it, obviously something schools don't have expertise or the desire to do - and someone needs to define the problem to be solved in the first place, but I really think that in education (and in government) our public money would be much better spent furthering 'the greater good' than Microsoft's bank account. There are thousands of schools that all have similar (somewhat niche) needs, and likewise thousands of municipal governments that are spending many millions on proprietary software every year. These institutions all have similar needs & goals and similar setups, and are supposed to serve the public. I really hope that Pi kickstarts interest in this sort of model among institutions, it seems to me an ideal match for open-source, and it's a great place to have it present. With open government becoming a big buzzword, and a similar situation there, also with public money, I'd also really like to see it happen there too.
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by nick.mccloud » Tue May 15, 2012 8:13 pm
Leaving aside the questionable span of the product brief (six to sixteen year olds), the short answer, speaking as a someone who earns his keep by writing software, is to:

1. Come out with a basic proof of concept version to test the market.
2. Develop a free one off the back of it.
3. Develop a paid for version.
4. Provide value added materials that generate an income - training, books, seminars etc.

I try to have one of these sorts of projects on the go - mostly they just tick over but a few have more than earned their keep over the years.

This only works if you can do 1 & 2 whilst running paid for projects - if 1 is so huge that it will take up more than 10% of your fee earning capacity then you need to fund it up front.

Of course, if you're feeling altruistic then share the idea and perhaps the community can help code it with you ....
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by woodinblack » Tue May 15, 2012 8:40 pm
For a living I develop software that runs on linux which is quite a long way from free. Actually the main selling point of the software is the support and expertise involved in the company, rather than the software.

The problem with microsoft is not so much the cost of the software - the cost of software is rarely an issue, it is the control of the data. Microsoft put quite a bit of effort into ensuring that the data is locked in so that your only choice is to use their software.
The free choice should be picking software based on the standards, rather than based on the fact it is the only software you can use.

People complain about the costs of software like photoshop, but the fact is that there is no reason you cannot use any other piece of software to do what it does, a jpeg comes out the same, the choice is the fact that if you have to use it every day, it will save you a lot of money. If you don't, it won't.
I have a lot of software that I use that there are free alternatives, but I chose the paid software if it provides an actual value and yes, I use an iPad as it provides me with value for what I need to do and am old enough to not have to worry about other peoples value of its worth!

If your software is that great then it shouldn't be hard to prove to someone in charge of getting something that it is worth the money - the support costs of most software used in large environments is normally the main cost anyway.
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by jamesh » Tue May 15, 2012 9:28 pm
Stateside wrote:The section heading is :
Education
Talk about educational uses and learning resources.

Not " How can I make some money ?.

Perhaps this discussion should be moved to the "Off Topic" section.


Actually, I think the OP isn';t asking 'how can I make money', he is asking 'how can I make enough money to pay the costs of developing educational software'. So this is in the right section.
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by andyl » Tue May 15, 2012 9:47 pm
Mike Lake wrote:In some of the examples quoted the development was paid for and the product was made Open Source. That's fine - but someone paid - that's the key point. In the case of the hospital, taxpayers paid for it.


I think that in the case of the hospital the decision to make it open source was made before the development had started. It was a core principle of the project.

In other cases there have been speculative development with the aims of finding customers to buy services hanging off the software. However true, someone usually* has to pay somewhere. Some of that can be deferred in a startup, some of it will have to come up front from private investment or maybe from cross-subsidisation. I don't think anyone disputes that.

However there are good business decisions for open source.

I write Java web based software. If I had to write a web application framework, PDF library, excel library, scheduled job library, and all the other bits and bobs that I use I could not deliver a piece of software on time. Of course some, or all, of these might be available as commercial development libraries. However that would probably take the cost outside what a client (most are SMEs without big budgets) would pay for the system. Of course the company could take a risk on buying all those libraries and hope that they can find enough clients to amortise the cost down to something reasonable.

* There have been a number of examples of people writing programs for their own use, sometimes without any recompense, where it has gone on to be very widely used.
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by Mike Lake » Wed May 16, 2012 5:04 pm
Why I think this belongs under education.

I am an ex teacher. I loved teaching and I still get into schools as often as I can. Last year I spoke to over 5,000 pupils in Derbyshire.

Why "ex" teacher? Simple. I loved the job but I did not feel it was stretching me. I know that sounds insulting to teachers but it is not meant to be - it is simply that I loved the job and I could do it without pushing myself to my limits. I found that inventing, developing and selling things, along with managing a company, did stretch me. I can honestly say that in terms of sheer "hard work" teaching was a lot harder than being in business. The kids are always there, you cannot switch them off, you always have to perform - that level of pressure never happens in business. No-one who has not taught Monday to Friday, especially on a wet and windy Friday afternoon, has any right to say anything about what goes on in the classroom - and that goes for Gove downwards.

I have made money (the harder I worked, the luckier I got) and now in semi-retirement I want to invest some of that hard earned money in projects I feel worthwhile for education.

I have a choice: invest in "an offshore training centre" (a yacht moored somewhere in the Med!) or in product development.

I am not a charity and I refuse to be one. I do my social bit and I am the Trustee Director of a local charity (http://www.DerbyOpenCentre.org) which I help ensure that it carries out its task while keeping its financial head above water - hard in these current times.

Like many people considering investing in products for education I look at things from an investment point of view - that's what business is about, that's how you justify paying the wages.

In the non-educational markets we address I can make a pretty good stab at what the likely return on investment will be - and, no false modesty here, I have managed to get it right nine times out of ten (don't even mention the ones that got away!)

That's why I am really interested in the comments on this forum.

Some people think "business", "investment" and "profit" are dirty words - while at the same time they are happy to take their wages every month - they are being paid by someone - frequently the tax payer - who has invested in them.

I happen to be a socialist (certainly not of the New Labour Islington Mafia flavour!) and I have been one since I was old enough to reason properly. So, my attitude to business is rather different from the "greed is good" types I sometimes encounter in business organisations - which is why I don't join such organisations. I am not saying all businessmen are greedy, some are philanthropic with their earnings - no matter how they came by them. However, I am not the normal type.

Some people feel that commercial companies "stifle innovation". My staff laughed out loud at that when I mentioned it to them - we survive by innovation - it's what we do for a living! "Innovate or die" applies as much the the UK as a whole as it does to a single business.

So, please keep commenting - and feel free to give me a hard time if you wish - I reserve the right to shout back <g>
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by DexOS » Wed May 16, 2012 7:15 pm
I have to agree with Mike Lake, free software has only helped big Co like Google.
Its devalued all software other than M$, the person on the street sees free, has in no good, why would they give it away when its worth something ?.
Now they see M$ has good software, has you need to pay top $ for it.
And please, before you say free does not mean free has in know need to pay, it does mean free has in know need to pay, anyone that say anything other than that, is kidding them selfs.

As a hobby, i have coded software in ASM for other 10 years, i have come first in many ASM coding competitions and have coded the hardest thing in the world to coding.
But would not get a job in the UK ( not that i have tried ) because are being devalued by open source hippies.
Just see in the above posts about how they will be buying lots of hardware, but expect software to be free, because its devalued.

How would people like it, you where a plumber and people in there spare time did plumbing for free.

No other occupation has been attacked in this way.
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by morphy_richards » Wed May 16, 2012 8:46 pm
DexOS wrote:As a hobby, i have coded software in ASM for other 10 years, i have come first in many ASM coding competitions and have coded the hardest thing in the world to coding.
But would not get a job in the UK ( not that i have tried ) because are being devalued by open source hippies.
Just see in the above posts about how they will be buyi rdware, but expect software to be free, because its devalued.

How would people like it, you where a plumber and people in there spare time did plumbing for free.

No other occupation has been attacked in this way.


I think you are missing the point about being innovative.
And a bit of a loaded statement about the OS community (who somehow manage to earn a crust despite being "hippies") given that this forum is filled to bursting with them.
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by Mike Lake » Wed May 16, 2012 8:49 pm
Comments such as "proof of concept" and "feasibility" are spot on.

They sound great in theory - and I am a master at hacking together prototype software - usually VB cardboard cutouts that look like the real thing but don't have the heavy stuff behind them.

However, it is a standing joke with us that if you ask certain of my colleagues to do a feasibility study on a project they come back with the whole thing. Their argument goes:

"Well, the only way I could do a decent design was to put one together. The only way I could provide an honest answer on how long it would take was to do it. So, here it is."

You only have to look at government IT projects to see how wrong people can be on time and cost (what do civil servants know about commissioning software?) Software development is notoriously difficult to estimate. I have tried every technique in the book and the one that gets closest to the final cost is "gut feel" and years of experience. I recommend it.

My personal experience about proof of concept is that it cuts both ways.

I have gone to the length of producing complete packages and then presenting them to the target market because I felt that was the best way for them to understand what the thing would do. This has usually worked but when it hasn't a lot of time and money has been wasted.

On the other hand I have done absolutely nothing - just prepared a very careful pitch about the concept. Having "sold the dream" the rest is easy because you know the customer will go for it. My longest delay from pitch to order was two years - then they ordered hundreds of thousands!

Who do you identify in education as the recipient of the pitch?

Education is anarchic, and now even more anarchic with autonomous academies (which I disagree with because they remove schools from community control.)

You end up pitching to some civil servant or academic who has either never set foot in a classroom or who think he knows how things should be taught but certainly doesn't want to dirty his hands by doing so.

I sound like a cynic - but I am far from that as my colleagues will tell you and I am happy with "sceptic." Experience plus feet firmly bolted to the floor makes me cautious in a market where everyone increasingly wants everything for free

Of course, I would be happy to pitch for a nice, fat, taxpayer grant <g> I'll fire up my Powerpoint.
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by Stateside » Wed May 16, 2012 9:28 pm
What motivates someone to pay for software when there are free alternatives?
Present day smartphones offer apps that you can download for free or paid subscription. Some of the paid apps are very successful amidst worldwide competition. What is the distinction?
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by DexOS » Thu May 17, 2012 12:24 am
morphy_richards wrote:
DexOS wrote:As a hobby, i have coded software in ASM for other 10 years, i have come first in many ASM coding competitions and have coded the hardest thing in the world to coding.
But would not get a job in the UK ( not that i have tried ) because are being devalued by open source hippies.
Just see in the above posts about how they will be buying hardware, but expect software to be free, because its devalued.

How would people like it, you where a plumber and people in there spare time did plumbing for free.

No other occupation has been attacked in this way.


I think you are missing the point about being innovative.
And a bit of a loaded statement about the OS community (who somehow manage to earn a crust despite being "hippies") given that this forum is filled to bursting with them.


Innovative, is that like making something that people laugh at, until years later Apple took it up, now M$ with the new win8 ?.
Admittedly they have 1000 of coders and $ to refine it, but the idea is the same.
They even written about me and other OS "Innovators" in mags.

"developing the killer operating system feature of the future"

But not one of us "Innovators" made a penny, stuck in our bedrooms :x
You can read about us "non-hippies" here:
http://www.techradar.com/news/software/ ... ems-934484
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by woodinblack » Thu May 17, 2012 6:52 am
DexOS wrote:As a hobby, i have coded software in ASM for other 10 years, i have come first in many ASM coding competitions and have coded the hardest thing in the world to coding.


What is that? I would love to know what the hardest thing to coding is?

DexOS wrote:But would not get a job in the UK ( not that i have tried ) because are being devalued by open source hippies.


But as you haven't tried, your guess as to whether you could get a job or not is just that, a guess. Admittedly there aren't as many openings for assembler programmers as other languages but there are more programmers than there were, so if you couldn't get a job it would be due to something other than hippies.
As I said, I am a programmer, and I interview others and I tell you it is actually quite hard to find them. Open source is just another line of competition. If you wanted to write a word processor, it would be next to sell one, not due to the open offices, but due to word.

DexOS wrote:No other occupation has been attacked in this way.


I will make sure to tell my author and musician friends how bad we have it these days. I am sure they will be sympathetic. :lol:
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by Mike Lake » Thu May 17, 2012 8:23 am
Stateside

Free Smartphone apps fall into several categories:

Those that are fairly trivial. There are a million and one development platforms for knocking up apps quickly - a bit like Lego - they are almost as fast as I can knock up VB prototypes.

Those where some smart alec wants to show how clever he is. He is either living at home, being paid to be a student, on benefit or being paid by someone else to do a day job., He just wants the glory. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that - but I would not want to run a mission critical app (oops, another cliche) from such a source.

Those that are used as a loss leader to get you to buy bolt-ons, upgrades or additional apps.

Those that directly or indirectly promote a company or brand.

None of them are "systems" - and I am talking about investment in systems - serious money not bedroom money. (Or, as IBM used to say, "lunch money".)

IBM is a good case. Having dumped its manufacturing businesses (last week it agreed to sell off its point of sale stuff) it is making money writing software. Its clients don't expect anything for free but they expect good products, good documentation, good support, good training, a continuous development path and all that good stuff.
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by jamesh » Thu May 17, 2012 9:01 am
DexOS wrote:I have to agree with Mike Lake, free software has only helped big Co like Google.
Its devalued all software other than M$, the person on the street sees free, has in no good, why would they give it away when its worth something ?.
Now they see M$ has good software, has you need to pay top $ for it.
And please, before you say free does not mean free has in know need to pay, it does mean free has in know need to pay, anyone that say anything other than that, is kidding them selfs.

As a hobby, i have coded software in ASM for other 10 years, i have come first in many ASM coding competitions and have coded the hardest thing in the world to coding.
But would not get a job in the UK ( not that i have tried ) because are being devalued by open source hippies.
Just see in the above posts about how they will be buying lots of hardware, but expect software to be free, because its devalued.

How would people like it, you where a plumber and people in there spare time did plumbing for free.

No other occupation has been attacked in this way.


Free software has helped more people that Google. It's helped me for example - I use Ubuntu and LibreOffice and a plethora of software I don't need to pay for.

I'm a software person, I work in the UK, I make a good living. There are still many many jobs, and like a poster above, I interview people, and we are finding it very difficult to get good people. There are still 10 of thousands of well paid software jobs in the UK, because there is still a huge market for paid for software - and here I means the software that people don't know about that runs productions lines, or sits inside your phone, or any number of the devices you use at home. There is also a jobs market for software that runs on your desktop - mostly niche stuff - but stuff where there isn't an open source alternative (or even where there is!) because why would anyone bother writing OSS for a niche market?
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by morphy_richards » Thu May 17, 2012 10:36 am
Mike.
Going back to your original point - which was about a step between Scratch and Python ...

Personally I'm not entirely convinced that it would be pedagogically necessary to create such a language. I think the jump from introductory programming using a kind of flowchart scratch type block to programming in code is not that great.

Perhaps there is already an intermediate language between these two levels (can you describe what you had in mind?) but I'm not sure that another flowchart building block a'la scratch or Lego mind storms approach is needed here.

We are still (management w*nk word approaching alert) brainstorming and testing on some classes in my department how we are going to introduce computer science alongside ICT next year. The approach seems to be falling into this sort of methodology:
* Computer game design and development using Scratch in year 7
* Moving onto a short Logo project (good old Logo, I'm glad it can make a comeback) as an introduction to writing code. Using this little [url = http://www.terrapinlogo.com/roamer-turtle.php] fella [/url]
* From there on we begin to use Python.

While we are on the topic, we haven't really started on planning web application development (which is necessary) yet as a topic. In ICT we have over the years developed good schemes of work for web site design and for databases. The future here could be continuing with these two topics and then introducing a third topic which comes after, and combines previous learning for web dev.

I would like to do this with PHP but there is no skill base with the staff in my department for PHP. On the other hand I am (if I say so myself) pretty adept with asp.net (I also have a startup company for a behavior management, tracking and school information management that is based on this - unfortunately I don't get the time to get this beyond embedded use at my own schools and tests on a couple of partner schools as I have work responsibilities and I recently became a father as well so no time to get this company up and running or even finish the back end of the systems I've made so that they could roll out as a paid for / licensed service without needing to be constantly tweaked by me.. :roll: )

Anyway, what I was saying is I would like to use PHP for all the openness and politically motivated reasons but I don't have the skill in this or the time to transfer my .net knowledge to PHP.

It might be worth considering development of some systems that would be geared towards teaching web development rather than pure programming. What do you think?
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by Mike Lake » Thu May 17, 2012 11:18 am
morphy_richards

Ah, .PHP - just done some PHP scripts to link to Paypal for the PiHouse - http://www.ThePiShop.org/pihouse.htm.

Languages are languages, preferred by some, hated by others. To me, they are just tools to get the job done and it does not take long to adapt to a different one. Of course, you get the Ruby On Rails crowd: "I won't touch X (language that you happen to have selected) with a barge pole these days, Ruby rules OK!" However, debugging with PHP is a PITB unless you are running a local server. Doing it real time, like the Paypal stuff via their Sandbox, provides you with a totally blank screen when you make a single error like forgetting a semi-colon or bracket. So, you quickly learn to do a few lines, test that bit, do a few more lines. Don't forget, I came originally from the 2,000 punched cards in a tray level of programming - so hacking 5 lines at a time with instant feedback, even if it is a blank screen, is paradise <g>

You do Scratch with Year 7 and I have seen it in year 5 or below. We don't want to repeat "we did word processing last year and the year before and ..." which has got ICT a bad name. With schools dropping out of LA control, and advisors being sacked all over the place, this coordination is going to become a nightmare unless secondary/primary clusters do their own thing.

I like the idea of a linking element that is common to all levels from KS1 to KS4. That linking element could be a hardware "thing" (and I have a sexy thing in mind - prototype PCBs arriving this week - I am a great believer in control being a fun introduction to programming - must be the child in me!) or it could be a software system that provides a common core used in different ways and exposed at different levels or both (preferred!)

Personally I would like to see the Python equivalent of a Scratch script visible on demand. That way the system can quickly adjust to the abilities of different pupils in the class. Some will stick to Scratch-type stuff longer and others will immediately leap to the Python code. Even then, the level of Python exposed will vary depending on level - some of it can get very scary, very fast and it is not as intuitive as Pythonites would have us believe.

It is this structured and pupil-controlled exposure of programming functions that I want to do. Something that allows pupils to seamlessly move upwards without losing the stuff done before - in whatever language.

Web-based stuff is simply an extension of this (and included within it) , moving on to session and event based client/server interactive presentation.
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by DexOS » Thu May 17, 2012 11:35 am
woodinblack wrote:
DexOS wrote:As a hobby, i have coded software in ASM for other 10 years, i have come first in many ASM coding competitions and have coded the hardest thing in the world to coding.


What is that? I would love to know what the hardest thing to coding is?

The hardest think to code is a OS, not a simple embedded one, but one where you need to code everything yourself, from tcp/ip and usb stacks, drivers and everything else that goes into to a full independent OS.

I love the R-PI, but i see the problems with why it came about, has going deeper.
The main problem is kids, students etc, have not in 99% of cases, got a idea of how anything works under that HLL.
Take the arduino has a example, great bit of kit and very useful for quick prototyping, but it teaches kids/students nothing, they knock projects up in a day or less, and on the out side it seem cool and look how clever we are.

But what have they learn ?, to use the right library and push this block on that block.

Now the older codes learned when thinks were different, no quick fixes for them, they needed to get to the bare metal.

Its the only way to learn, we need to teach kids to learn ASSEMBLY like this
Example for linux:
Code: Select all
include 'FBasic_L.inc'
CLS
COLOR  11
LOCATE 2,1
PRINT "This app is written in Macro Basic, for Linux "
COLOR  12
LOCATE 2,2
PRINT "With the ease of Basic and the power of ASM "
COLOR  15
LOCATE 2,3
PRINT "It user's the basic commands:"
PRINT " "
PRINT "    CLS"
PRINT "    SCREEN"
PRINT "    COLOR"
PRINT "    LOCATE"
PRINT "    PRINT"
PRINT "    GOSUB"
PRINT "    RETURN"
PRINT "    SLEEP"
PRINT "    END"
PRINT " "
GOSUB TestSub
SLEEP
END

TestSub:
PRINT "  Press any key to quit."
RETURN                                             
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by hippy » Thu May 17, 2012 12:57 pm
DexOS wrote:How would people like it, you where a plumber and people in there spare time did plumbing for free.


I do that all the time. Helping friends with their plumbing, electrics, DIY, car repairs, computer set up, building electronics, gardening, lending tools, moving house, a whole host of things, and I guess even going out for a beer with them could be considered a free 'escort service' and my advice as 'therapeutic counselling'. I do my own cleaning, own laundry, drive myself to work, sometimes entertain myself, and I even wipe my own backside.
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by andyl » Thu May 17, 2012 1:36 pm
morphy_richards wrote:Mike.
Going back to your original point - which was about a step between Scratch and Python ...

Personally I'm not entirely convinced that it would be pedagogically necessary to create such a language. I think the jump from introductory programming using a kind of flowchart scratch type block to programming in code is not that great.


I would agree.

morphy_richards wrote:While we are on the topic, we haven't really started on planning web application development (which is necessary) yet as a topic. In ICT we have over the years developed good schemes of work for web site design and for databases. The future here could be continuing with these two topics and then introducing a third topic which comes after, and combines previous learning for web dev.

I would like to do this with PHP but there is no skill base with the staff in my department for PHP. On the other hand I am (if I say so myself) pretty adept with asp.net


Why choose a different language? Why not do web development with Python? That way you are leveraging something that has already been taught. There are plenty of frameworks from simple templating engines to full stack frameworks for python. Of course teaching more languages is a good thing (if they explore different things) but you have a limited amount of time. In the web development module you would probably have to cover html5 and css and javascript so removing the need to learn PHP or ASP.NET as well must be a boon.
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by jamesh » Thu May 17, 2012 1:41 pm
DexOS wrote:
woodinblack wrote:
DexOS wrote:As a hobby, i have coded software in ASM for other 10 years, i have come first in many ASM coding competitions and have coded the hardest thing in the world to coding.


What is that? I would love to know what the hardest thing to coding is?

The hardest think to code is a OS, not a simple embedded one, but one where you need to code everything yourself, from tcp/ip and usb stacks, drivers and everything else that goes into to a full independent OS.


Gotta disagree there. Nothing really difficult in an OS - are you conflating complexity with quantity? An OS with all those stacks is a LOT of work, but none of it hugely difficult.
If you want real complexity, try a video encoder (h264), or optimising compilers, or computer vision/AI.
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by DexOS » Thu May 17, 2012 2:31 pm
Gotta disagree there. Nothing really difficult in an OS - are you conflating complexity with quantity? An OS with all those stacks is a LOT of work, but none of it hugely difficult.
If you want real complexity, try a video encoder (h264), or optimising compilers, or computer vision/AI.


Well everyone has there opinions, for example did that optimising compiler, use someone else assembler, has its back end ? .
Tomasz Grysztar the coder of fasm, made the best assembler available for the x86.
But he came forth in a optimising coding compo, that i came second, when i had only been coding for 2 years using fasm.
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by Mike Lake » Thu May 17, 2012 3:34 pm
Guys

I think some people have gone somewhat off topic - easy to do I know.

The topic was about whether or not it is worth investing serious development money into products for a market where everyone expects everything for free.

Maybe it would be a good idea to start a new thread about which assembler tools are best for the RPI? Personally I started teaching 360 assembler, then 6502 then Atmel AVR - see, even I go off topic <g>
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by abishur » Thu May 17, 2012 4:12 pm
Mike Lake wrote:Guys

I think some people have gone somewhat off topic - easy to do I know.

The topic was about whether or not it is worth investing serious development money into products for a market where everyone expects everything for free.

Maybe it would be a good idea to start a new thread about which assembler tools are best for the RPI? Personally I started teaching 360 assembler, then 6502 then Atmel AVR - see, even I go off topic <g>


I think what everyone keeps circling around are two points

1) Not everyone expects everything for free in the Linux world. There are certainly some very vocal, die hard open source guys and that's cool that they think like that. A lot of very profitable and successful corporations started out like that. I mean just look at google! Do they make anything for letting phone companies use their OS? It seems like most their revenue is ad generated and buy up packages (that is, you choose to pay for a fancier version of their free stuff). There are lots and lots of different options selling an application.

and

2) Even if you offer the full application for free that doesn't necessarily result in a zero ROI. As previously mentioned Ad generated revenue is highly acceptable now days, as are donation buttons. I've seen lots of software designers support themselves off the generous donation of individuals who like the software so much they choose to donate to the project. On that vain there are also options like kickstarter in which the user base puts forth the initial development fund in order to produce a free piece of software or at the very least get a free copy for having donated a certain amount to the project.
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by Mike Lake » Thu May 17, 2012 4:59 pm
abishur

Good summary and you are quite right about the two schools of thought ... but .. (there is always a "but" <g>)

Google makes a load from advertising schemes in all sorts of ways. "Free" simply means driving you into the hands of the advertisers.

Google used to be a really good company - the only thing really good that remains is the simplicity of the interface - which I use all day. The rest of it is now in the hands of bean counters and they have done some extremely dodgy things. They have become a corporate with all that that implies.

I have a hang up about advertising in schools - academies have already back-tracked on nutritional requirements in schools and are now selling "food" products which are heavily laden with sugar and fats. (See article in the Guardian earlier this week.) Now they are free of local control they can make money out of things Local Authority schools are not permitted to sell - for very sound health reasons. Of course, these vending machines are heavily branded by the usual suspects.

No doubt we will see even more corporate branding in such schools.

I am old fashioned - I think this is a bad thing.

I have a colleague who, on retirement, did some brilliant software relating to flight simulation and went for donations. He is in a very tightly defined niche and his software is second to none. He has done well - but even better when he started charging serious money for it. However, he did not have to invest in initial development because it was already his hobby. His development is like most of us, on-going - it never stops because, as we all know, "software is never finished."

I don't like either the advertising or donations model. I think people should pay a fair price for things that bring them benefits. Gosh, how quaintly old fashioned I am <g>
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by abishur » Thu May 17, 2012 6:28 pm
Mike Lake wrote:abishur

Good summary and you are quite right about the two schools of thought ... but .. (there is always a "but" <g>)

Google makes a load from advertising schemes in all sorts of ways. "Free" simply means driving you into the hands of the advertisers.

Google used to be a really good company - the only thing really good that remains is the simplicity of the interface - which I use all day. The rest of it is now in the hands of bean counters and they have done some extremely dodgy things. They have become a corporate with all that that implies.

I have a hang up about advertising in schools - academies have already back-tracked on nutritional requirements in schools and are now selling "food" products which are heavily laden with sugar and fats. (See article in the Guardian earlier this week.) Now they are free of local control they can make money out of things Local Authority schools are not permitted to sell - for very sound health reasons. Of course, these vending machines are heavily branded by the usual suspects.

No doubt we will see even more corporate branding in such schools.

I am old fashioned - I think this is a bad thing.

I have a colleague who, on retirement, did some brilliant software relating to flight simulation and went for donations. He is in a very tightly defined niche and his software is second to none. He has done well - but even better when he started charging serious money for it. However, he did not have to invest in initial development because it was already his hobby. His development is like most of us, on-going - it never stops because, as we all know, "software is never finished."

I don't like either the advertising or donations model. I think people should pay a fair price for things that bring them benefits. Gosh, how quaintly old fashioned I am <g>


Oh yeah, I forgot your target was the education sector. In which case you really don't need to worry about the "it should be free" crowd. Having worked in IT for the education sector (in USA) saving money isn't high on their list of priorities. Indeed, if you tried to offer them a free product they might just kick you out of the room! That said, there are other issues you'd be facing, such as convincing them to let Linux on their network (which is silly since they let Macs on, but that's another conversation ;-)). Still, I think that a good suite of educational programs focused at the Pi would be a great investment. I know there have been several lengthy discussions trying to explain how the Pi isn't cost effective for schools, but (again using my background as evidence I actually know what I'm talking about ;-)) that's bogus. And people do forget that hardware is only half the issue. School districts budget for hardware and software licensing fees. Maybe in the end all this means is you have to sell the product at a lower rate than you would for a Windows machine to convince them to buy into your product, but it's a calculated risk.
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