Re: Future of IT in Lebanon

"BM" <m-e-d-a-w-a-r@xxxxxxxxx> wrote in message
> There is no distinction between between Linux-for-desktop and
> Linux-for-server. It's the same Linux code base. If there is any
> difference, it is how linux is configured and packaged with third party
> apps.

Yes, the Linux kernel is one and the same, so if you write an application
targeting the core, it runs on an system running Linux. Guess what? the same
goes for any application targeting the Windows *kernel*, so if I install
Microsoft Office on a Windows server, it will install and run fine, the main
difference here is in the *applications* that come pacakged with a
particular package (for instance, XP comes with a wimpy IIS, while the
server comes with a full featured version, etc.). The point though that
you're missing here is that the number of people using Linux as a
productivity workstation (and yes, productivity is a loaded term, but in the
industry, it generally refers to a personal workstation, not a platform
running a web server or database server, etc.).

>> How do I define an experiment? very easy. Everthing that's still under
>> development,
> Everything starts under development.. At some point a product crosses the
> beta or UAT threshold and goes in production. Development for new
> releases typically continues.
>> has negligible market share,
> Many *mature* products have negligible market share.. Market share is more
> often than not driven by marketting prowess and not by technical merit.
>> has not really broken out of the realm of academia,
> That may be true for a lot of academic exercises (proofs of concept). But
> there are also applications that benefit academia primarily. Take
> TeX/LaTeX for example.

I noticed that you took the liberty of breaking my statement down. That
takes it completely out of context and invalidates your response. It is
meant as a series of AND operators, not OR operators. All these conditions
must be true (although only one can be true, if it's the only criteria).
It's a no-brainer that something can be under development and not be an
experiment (if it has firm orders, if it's following an established trend,
etc.), it may have negligible market share, but demand for it is on the rise
(example: XBOX 360, it has negligible market share, but it's flying off the
shelves as units become available and on eBay it can fetch $3,000 for a $400
unit), it may still be in academia, but it's a sure commercial prosepct
(certain bio-technologies sectors). When *all* these conditions are met, it
*is* very likely an experiment.

>> is an experiment, in this case, Linux for the desktop fits the bill.
>> Linux in the server space, is not an experiment, but perhaps you can tell
>> me how you can make money programming for the Apache Web Server (and for
>> that matter the Microsoft IIS).
> But it's the same core product (linux server/ Linux desktop) :-)

As I mentioned earlier, the same applies to Windows. I can run Microsoft
office on Windows Server 2003, but why would I? I can also write a database
server and target the Windows XP crowd. How many copies will I sell there?
If I bank on a gaming application for Linux, and spend $10M marketing it, my
head should probably be examined.

>>>You left out anything that is open source.. :-)
>> Really, where?
> Where something was left out? :-)

Exclusion by omission when out of context :-)

>> Great, I already said that if the target is the Web, then Java is the way
>> to go. Are you re-phrasing what I'm saying in here?
> Java has application outside the web domain.

*Everything* can have an application inside the web and outside the web. I'm
talking about most common use.

>> Only in the sense that you're not reporting what I said accurately.
>> There's nothing experimental about Open Source. Open Source can be for
>> Windows, Linux, etc. The issue is about maximixing return on programming
>> resources, and at this point, there's no proof that Open Source does
>> that. You want proof? look at the commercial operations out there, and
>> see who's making more money.
> You're mixing too many concepts.

In response to the many conceps thrown my way :-)

> - Open source can be experimental (as it often starts)
> - "Maximizing return on programming resource" is an economic measure it
> usually includes many factors other than technical merit.

This is the crux of what I've been saying. In fact, I would also say it's
purely economical. This is the heart of the issue for Lebanon.

> - As to "no proof that Open Source" .. maximizes "return on programming
> resources" is perhaps a subject for a PhD thesis. I accept that whatever
> I say will not convince you. Considering that my argumentation skills are
> limited anyway and that I have already tried in good faith.. well, I punt.

You may also want to consider that you cannot convince me because it's not a
case that can be made. This would be like me saying that I cannot convince
you in good faith that Christianity is better than Islam. If we meet in the
afterlife, we can have that discussion :-)

> - I don't want proof..

OK, my aim is not to convince you, but to say that in the case of something
that cannot be proven, it's not possible to say that this would be the best
course of action for Lebanon.

> - Commerce is but one domain..

I don't know what you mean by commerce. If you mean developing financial
applications, etc. then this is not what I mean. By commercial operations, I
mean software development companies. For the purposes of the IT in Lebanon
discussion, I care very little about the monopolistic aspects, etc. I only
care about the return to Lebanon.

>> Not even close to being related to something I said. It's not about how
>> much a tool costs, it's about doing it as a job for hire, versus
>> retaining your rights to it. Again, it's about maximizing return on
>> programming resources. Priority levels are sa follows: Own it, do it for
>> hire.
> You appear to be arguing that someone (say in Lebanon) is going to hire
> tens of programmers to develop code and then make money trying to
> distribute the code freely. If that's your argument then you're really
> missing the point of the whole discussion.

If this is how you're interpreting my post, then you're missing the point of
the whole discussion. This is not about hiring a bunch of programmers to
develop something that can be distributed freely. This is about i) ACME
Corp. hiring a group of programmers in Lebanon to write code or an entire
product for ACME Corp. The Leb programmers are hired hands. The name of the
Leb company will not appear on the product. The Leb programmers are paid a
one-time fee. Once they're done, they're no longer making money off the
product; versus, ii) Cedar Corp develops a concept for a product, it
develops it independently or in conjunction with ACME Corp. ACME markets the
product, Cedar's name appears on it as the developer and ACME Corp. retains
the Intellectual Property rights to the product, with royalties and
recurring revenue everytime the product is sold, and residual Intellectual
Rights for future development. Outsourcers to India go for scenario (i), and
the Indian companies accept it. An example would be on the hottest products
this season, a box you can attach to your coax cable and record and play
programs to any TV in the house (strictly NTSC). If you look up the company,
it's a marketing operation run by a couple of money bags, all the
development and design was farmed out to India and the Indian company is
getting paid a one-time fee. A counter example would be the networking
world, where the Israeli companies will *not* do work for hire, and instead
license their code and designs out. Who's making out better?
> Translating resource bundles is one aspect.. Since you mention the
> Windows world, I have tens of application installed on an XP box. Tell me
> how I can make them all display Arabic menus, everything right to left.
> :-)

Buy the Arabic version of Windows and the Arabic version of Word :-) this is
not a technical issue, it's marketing issue :-) If you're asking if it's
possible for a developer to ship out an application with *all* languages
included, then the answer is yes. You may notice that some device driver
vendors do it (but then again, they sell their devices and cannot sell their
drivers, so they're not leaving any money on the table). My point was that
localization at the micro level, is already taken care of by the system, the
macro level is the actual characters, and localization (if you did your job
right as a programmer), consists of nothing more than translating the
strings offered graphically by the tools (so you can move lines around,
increase a box size to fit a sentence, etc.). To get back to point:
localization does not an industry make.

>> See, I mentioned Open Source above (at least twice in this reply) :-) I
>> am not talking about a Microsoft-size company, but now that you mention
>> it, are you saying that Open Source is not going to be as profitable as
>> Microsoft-style? :-)
> Open source what? Creation, use, integration, ..?
> You're obviously not going to make a fortune distributing free software,
> so let's dispense with this wild goose chase.

Good, we're back on track: what's best for Lebanon :-)

> Can you make money building your business around open source use and
> integration? You bet. Can you make lots of money? Probably not as much
> as a monopoly.

See above. With limited resources, and being forced to go for highest return
on investment, I would go with the flow (unless of course I can see the end
of the line for a platform). In any case, Open Source or not is not the main
issue, the main issue is targeting the right platform, and the right
specialization (networking, word processing, etc.).

> Since I disagree with your definition of "experiment", it's no surprise
> that I disagree with your conclusion based on what-I-believe-to-be a
> faulty definition :-)

It looks like we're in agreement on this :-)

>> 2) experiment is not a condesending term, it indicates where in the
>> pipeline something might be. Within the context of this thread, it refers
>> to what can be proven to be a moneymaker,
> Money making is not an end.. it's a means. So for example a responsible
> government typically breaks even (well not in Lebanon and the US but
> that's another story :)

Government is not a valid example, as it's supposed to be nearly a zero-sum
game. It's a non-profit if you will, taking in only as much as it needs to
conduct its business. Corporations are not supposed to be zero-sum games.

> A successful corporation pays its employees, which feeds their families,
> pays its shareholders, and at the end of the year balances the books.

You're describing a co-op (perhaps not as a co-op is defined in New York). A
successful corporation, respected as measured by return on investors money,
or the positive performance of its stock, rarely pays its shareholders
(where's the Google dividend?), pays its employees, which feeds their
families, and at the end of the *quarter* and the *year* has a massive
positive balance on its books. Sorry, but this is the way markets operate,
even if you live in so-called socialist/communist (in the case of China)

> If in the context the company uses or develops open source as but one cog
> in a complex machinary, would you really condemn the company in good
> conscience?

Where did I say that I condemn a company if it develops Open Source? Kudos
to them, but like I said, and you're confirming, it seems as if these
companies are using Open Source to enter a market that may be dominated by
proprietary companies, monopolies, etc. To these companies, this may be *as
good as it's going to get* given the market conditions. Frankly, I am going
that direction, but I'm doing it in good consience, and with open eyes, as I
have no way to counter a duopoly other than working as one cog in a complex
machinery. It's too early for Lebanon's IT industry to go that direction.

>> and given the need for Lebanon to place its development sources where it
>> makes the biggest impact, Lebanese companies should not at this point
>> *experiment*. At this point, I would also call developing for .net as an
>> experiment, versus Java.
> Deja vu all over again :-) I give up.

OK :-)

>> Why would I call the presentation a laptop?
> Exactly my point why you wouldn't call a Novel Linux commercial
> distribution "Linux" :-)

Maybe because they call it Suse Linux. Isn't this the same kernel, no matter
who distributes it? If I'm targeting the Kernel as a developer, does it
matter who distributes it, and what's bundled with it? Am I missing
something here? isn't the Kernel the one piece that does not change?

> I use Suse, I call it Suse, not linux. I know that the engine inside is
> Linux but I don't confuse Suse (the distribution) with Linux (the OS) or
> with posix (the standard that linux meets).

This is too confusing for me as an end-user :-) to re-use your terminology,
isn't it all the same thing? Linux server, Linux desktop? why is it valid in
one of your examples and not another? What if I'm a developer who looks only
at the Kernel? How are you defining the OS? Microsoft defines the OS as
*everything*, are you re-defining the Linux OS to be *everything*? This BTW,
has nothing to do with IT in Lebanon :-)
>>>- localization leading to local markets (Lebanon, Gulf, etc. )
>>>customizations => complete packages
>>>- Gives the Lebanese IT industry a channel to distribute its wares
>>>- Made-in-Lebanon distributions developes a local technical skill pool
>>>that can be used in other contexts (outsourcing for example)
>> This may make Lebanese developers money, but it will only turn them into
>> employees of International companies.
> You seem to have missed the second bullet. The second bullet could be
> anything the company developes, which could well be closed-source. In
> this case the CD distribution is the vehicule, the made-in-Lebanon (open-
> or closed-source) application is the payload.

So, you're saying that a niche for Lebanon would be to turn out DVDss, with
a Linux ditrbution on them (self-booting), and on that same DVD, you'd have
some application developed by the Leb company? I'm assuming that you mean
Linux here, because a self-booting Windows DVD with an application, while
tecchnically possible, is not legally possible (lcensing terms). If my
understanding is correct, what's the particular skill? the application? or
the ability to create these self-booting DVDs? How do they make money?

> > Web-based services are no longer an experiment.
> You're tripping over your definition :-)

No, I'm well aware of my definition of experiment and this does not fit the
definition of experiment. Can you convince me that Google is an experiment?
I can covince you it's not (check out their income numbers and their stock
pricing), and Google has *never* released a product, Open Source or
otherwise, and *everything* its does is a web-based service. The same
applies for Yahoo and MSN. To trip over my definition, you'd have to take it
all into context, and not arbitrarily chop it into pieces.

> Let's see, measure web services that substitute for an OS by your
> definition of an experiment, recall:

You're misquoting me. Web-based services (what I said), and web services
that substitute for an OS (what you said) are two different things. So, if
you don't mind, let's build a case based on what I said, not what you said:

> > How do I define an experiment? very easy. Everthing that's still under
> > development,
> Check - Web services in lieu of OS are still sience fiction

Let's substitute with what I said: Check - Web-based services are still
science fiction:
Google is science fiction? If so, then the private jet Larry Page will be
flying in is a piece of sci-fi, built in a holodeck (I just used Google to
look up holodeck and I did not have to buy a product or download a piece of
open source or shareware).

> > has negligible market share,
> Check - Who's making money selling web services as OS?

Let's substitute with what I said: Check - Who's making money selling
web-based services?

Google, Yahoo, Vonage (to name but a few).

>> You think condesending because you have an ax to grind.
> Hm.. I never attempted to sell a product on the market that competes with
> Microsoft, I've been using MS products since 80's, so where is my ax?

Not too long ago, you were blaming Bill Gates for SPAM you were receiving
from Real Networks. When Microsoft was initially convicted, you immediately
posted on SCL with additional comments, you refering to it as the evil
empire, to name but a few examples. You're entitled to your opinion of the
company, but it also shows that when this shows up on SCL (not on some
relevant technology group), it's a proof that you have an ax to grind (no
offense intended), regardless of what platform you develop for.

> Thanks for posting the public portion. So MS is the client for whom the
> study was prepared.

Yes, MSFT is the client, I believe I said that in the previous post. That
does not condemn the study though, especially if it comes from source as
reputable as IDC.
> By the same token, consider companies that use Apache for example and
> measure how many folds these companies make for every dime of revenue that
> goes to the apache organization. Fair?

I don't know how to measure it. I have not seen any studies to that effect.
If you know of any, please post.

>> And use it for what?
> Cheap network terminals.. in the old days I used to run seti :-)
> I am using one Linux PC that as an "old media" box (5 1/4" drive, 1/4"
> tape drive, DOS, Windows 3, dual boot, etc.)
> I have an oldish 21" screen in one (computer) room connected to KVM box
> that is connected to several Linux boxes. I rarely sit in front of this
> screen. I run apps on these machines as Xwindows clients with a XP
> wireless laptop, in the comfort of my living room, as the Xwindows server.
> I ssh into these boxes remotely to access the shell.
>> anchoring your boat while fishing? :-) Not too many people are in the
>> business of running their own web servers.
> I have two Netfinity servers that have never ran MS Windows.. although
> they could.

Remember what I mentioned prejudices earlier? prejudice is not necessarily a
deragatory term (not in this context anyway). In this case, it refers to
personal preferences, applied to a wide audience. Sorry Bassem, but you are
not a typical end user and I don't see too many people with *several*
servres, terminals and other concotions :-)

>> If you mean what's referred to as PocketPC, then the answer is maybe,
> I wasn't refering to PocketPC. Speaking of which I buy for myself Palm
> Pilot but I gift others PocketPC. How about that :-)

It all depends on what you use for an email system. PocketPC works better
for me, as it integrates automatically with my Exchange server.

>> Are you redefining what an environment is?
> Since I gave the example, I am entitled to define the environment for my
> example. In the example I use the application (Lotus 123, Qattro) as the
> environment.

OK, let's say that I accept the definition, how does being inside the
environment (as you define it) versus outside the environment (as you
define) make a difference one way or the other?

>> The environment is Windows and any application, from a programming
>> perspective, whether it's VB, or anything else, is a separate Window. The
>> point is that you do not have to leave the environment and the original
>> application is still there, the whole time. The whole point of your
>> argument is that you did not have to leave the environment, and I'm
>> countering that you never leave the environment in Excel either. The rest
>> can be filed under you saying tomato and me saying tomatoe.
> In your answer you stretched the environment from the application in
> question to other application. You sweep the stretch under the rug by
> calling it another window. :-)

I'll tell you what, let's say I may have my own prejudices in relation to
Windows, after all, as a program manager, I took Microsoft Windows from
version 1.0 to version 2.0, so I have some history there. Let's use another
measure: ask five people around you in the office what constitutes an
environment: Windows or Word or Excel or Lotus 1-2-3 for Windows, and I'll
accept the majority opinion :-)

> Have you seen the Lotus 123 macros? They typically go like this
> {UP}
> {LEFT}
> Etc..
> So, when you record a macro, it simply records the keystrokes. You can
> reuse as is, or you can edit to augment the macro. The macro is saved in
> another spreadsheet cell range (example of a self contained environment).
> I used to record repetitive tasks as macros, save them, and invoke them
> with shortcuts. It didn't require training to figure out how to change
> the macros.

In Excel, you record macros automatically, without writing a single line of
code, and you assign a key to them (or shortcut) without writing a single
line of code. For simple macros, you don't need to learn anything, it's all
laid out in front of you, and the code is part of the template, or part of
the spreadsheer, you access it by selecting Macro.Edit (yes, a local macro
is included in your spreadsheet, it's just not visible). In the code example
listed below, you did not include a similar code fragment from 1-2-3 showing
you do a SUM, so I'm afraid it's not the same.

> Since the advent of Excel, I still record macros but I don't edit them
> since I don't have time or inclination to learn VB.

You may be surprised to learn that you don't need to learn VB. For the
simple macros you mention, you're editing cell numbers, etc. not programing.

> Moving from Lotus123/quattro to Excel meant that I lost the ability to
> edit macros.

You're applying your personal experience to others. I prefer the current
environment over the other (Multiplan and Word used to have macros similar
to 1-2-3 and they were pretty limiting).

> Here is a simpler test. I opened a spreadsheet, started a macro, pointed
> to a cell and entered the following:

What's below is not equivalent to the 1-2-3 example you gave above, although
the macro for moving the cursor around is still a lot more than 1-2-3 (or
the original Microsoft Multiplan and Word), to each their preferences, mine
is for more features. Also, if you wanted to do anything more than a simple
moving the cursor around, you're back to the same issue: having to learn a
macro programming language. Pick your poison, but the selection criteria is
often not very objective.

> - 1 <TAB>
> - 2 <CR>
> - 3 <TAB>
> - 4 <CR>
> - selected a 2x3 range anchored by the 1 cell
> - clicked on Sum
> - ckicked elsewhere
> - stopped recording
> Here is what excel recorded (stripped the comments):
> Sub Macro1()
> ActiveCell.FormulaR1C1 = "1"
> Range("E9").Select
> ActiveCell.FormulaR1C1 = "2"
> Range("D10").Select
> ActiveCell.FormulaR1C1 = "3"
> Range("E10").Select
> ActiveCell.FormulaR1C1 = "4"
> Range("D9:E11").Select
> Range("D11").Activate
> ActiveCell.FormulaR1C1 = "=SUM(R[-2]C:R[-1]C)"
> Range("D9:E11").Select
> Range("E11").Activate
> ActiveCell.FormulaR1C1 = "=SUM(R[-2]C:R[-1]C)"
> Range("D13").Select
> End Sub
> Now tell me that this gobbledygook is intuitive :-)

Only within the context of the simplest of Macros.

> According to press accounts I read, the government is planning to deport
> him rather than retry him on deadlocked charges. If the government
> re-tries him it risks losing.

Yes, I understand that he will be deported on immigration violations. The
government will lose the criminal case if it retries him, an *intent* to
engage in criminal activities, no matter why it was not carried out (in this
case, it appears as if the masterminds back in Gaza did not take him
seriously), is not the same as having carried it out.

>> As long as you concede that they all followed the AT&T base design, you
>> have no argument from me.
> "Base design" is not a software engineering term :-) I use architecture,
> loosely. More specifically I refer to posix standard. Coding to a
> standard is not the same as stealing code.

Interesting, because the case is not really about the code, it's about an
architecture. The non-BSD code (memory management stuff) was removed from
the kernel a while back. SCO claims that there are other pieces of source
code that have not been removed (but you need an NDA to see those), but for
the most part, they're arguing design *and* architecture. I used the term
design explicitly, because it's the base of most patents, while architecture
is too general and patents awarded to architectures take years (I have one
that's been in review for nearly seven years). SCO is arguing patented
designs. In any case, you asking me to concede something is illogical, as
I'm not privvy to SCO's patent portfolio, and I have no idea how Trevolds or
the others will respond. In any case, this is going to come to a head soon,
with the judge in the case likely to be asking SCO to put up or shut up
within the next few months.

>> It makes very little difference when computing the resources.
> It makes a difference to somebody's pocket (*volunteer* resources vs
> *hired* resources), recall your maximizing returns argument.

Hmmm. You have 50 volunteers who could have been making $100 per hour
programming for ACME Corp. They donate their time to some Linux effort for a
year, at 40 hours per week, they contributed $10M worth of programming to
the Linux effort. You don't believe me? try telling this to the IRS when
they send you a bill for services received from your plumber who did not
bill you for the 20 hours he spent working on your house, in return for you
having set up his computer system (assuming the IRS finds out about it

> To recap:
> - I'd like all computing environments and development paradigms to be
> available to Lebanese IT companies so that they can chose the best tools
> that best serve their customers

I don't disagree with this. Our discussion is theoretical. My research shows
me that some areas are going to be more profitable than others, and that's
the feedback I provided to the Lebanese IT delegation.

> - I am a firm believer in market economies

Same with me.

> - If competition is fair, the better product (relative to user perception)
> prevails

This is incompatible with free market economics. You can't have your cake
and eat it too.

> - I agree that the end user experience is gravitating towards web
> services, but I don't think we're there yet

Tell that to Google, Yahoo, Vonage, and thousands of other web services

> - I agree that once the users adopt web services, the OS becomes
> irrelevent

Yes, but that it quite different from web-based services (although to a
degree, you can call the browser abstraction, for the existing web
services -- google, yahoo, VoIP, etc. -- the same thing as making the OS

I will add that the best use of Lebanon's IT resources is to develop
products and services that can generate recurring revenue, as opposed to
one-off jobs.

> bassem


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