[clug] AGIMO seeks comments (again) on productivity software file formats

Stephen Walsh steve at nerdvana.org.au
Fri Feb 17 05:00:45 MST 2012

On 02/17/2012 10:11 PM, Paul Wayper wrote:
> Ah, Steve, once again you call me to account on that crucial piece of 
> detail
> whose failure collapses my whole argument.  Your dedication to this cause is
> wonderful to behold :-)
> I don't know why, Steve, you seem to have taken this as some kind of personal
> attack on you, the government, AGIMO, or whoever.  I'm not sure how you get
> from my fairly simple observations about vendor lock-in to some kind of
> suggestion that user groups will need to answer all their questions,
> especially from top secret agencies.

Similar to the old axiom "no one ever got fired for buying IBM", no one 
ever got fired for buying a Microsoft product (unless they work for 
Canonical, in which case Mark can easily take them on safari next time 
he nips home for the weekend and solve that little HR problem).

Microsoft comes with support in the form of Microsoft Valued Partners, 
integrators and a veritable army of (questionably) certifiable 
engineers. You can pick up a phone and ring the company that has been 
contracted to assist your department do what they do, and not have to 
worry about how much you can or can't show them, generally as their 
access to the system is governed by their clearance. Kids come of year 
10 with MCSE's, and can get a job as a junior admin or helpdesk drone 
with minimal experience (this has the side effort of devaluing the MCSE 
to being an entry level qualification. As a RHCE, I'm not sure I want 
the same to happen to something that broke my brain for a week to get.).

Yes, companies like Unisys, etc, provide similar services, but is unisys 
geared towards engineering systems support, not desktop floor walkers to 
show people how to do a mail merge in Libreoffice. You can't just take a 
dozen year 12 graduates and have them floor walk to help people with 
FOSS software, they need to be taught and trained, which is 3-6 months 
they aren't earning a full wage.

You're trying to make the point that AGIMO Isn't interested in listening 
to someone about why open formats and information freedom is better in 
the long term.
I'm trying to make the point that open formats and information freedom 
are not "free as in beer", but have a cost that a lot of people don't 
seem to think about.

You need to acknowledge the second part and find a way to present it as 
a positive before you can do the first. The 800lb gorilla isn't going to 
go away, but I really don't think it's the community's role to  say 
"Shoo! Shoo!" in an effort to make the government see the error of their 
way. Yes, the community can facilitate meetings and workshops and "open 
source in government" miniconfs at LCA2013, but it doesn't have the 
ability to take the head of agimo out for lunch to explain why open 
source is inherently better. That needs to be the Red Hat and Canonicals 
of the world

>    I'm really confounded as to how you got
> "Open source is totally free! you don't have to pay a cent!" out of my post
> which didn't mention cost at all.

see above.

> P.S. my offer to meet up in person so you can explain exactly how I have
> offended you and to offer in some way to apologise and explain my actions
> still stands and I place myself at your convenience.

Nothing has changed since you last made this offer, when I have the time 
to meet with you, I will let you know, but dragging it onto the clug 
list does no one any favours.

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