Archive for the ‘economics’ Category

With End of Sun Comes End of Schwartz’ Reign (Thank Goodness)

February 5, 2010

I’d written a few posts on my non-tech blog about Sun’s demise from a finance rather than tech standpoint. Without a doubt Sun had some of the sharpest minds in the industry as far as their technology was concerned; too bad the company lacked the same acumen and expertise when it came to the business side of the equation. Now Sun employees are Oracle employees, at least for a while. It’s only a matter of time before Ellison and company pare their hefty investment down to make it a profitable enterprise. I suspect that paring will be done with an axe rather than scalpel.

Jonathan Schwartz has been rumored to have no place at Oracle –and why should he have a place there after running Sun straight into the ground and overseeing stupid purchases (e. g., MySQL) that Sun was never able to monetize? Larry Ellison doesn’t run that kind of company. Schwartz posted of his departure on his Twitter account yesterday. It’s not too surprising he’d take the demise of the company as seriously as he took running it. He leaves with haiku.

It’s also not surprising that Schwartz views Sun’s demise as tied to the financial collapse, as if that’s the only thing that doomed Sun. In fact, though, Sun’s fortunes fell with the dot-com bubble a decade ago and with executives — like Schwartz — who were in way over their heads. I’ll go further and say that Sun’s management was utterly incompetent and too ideological and caught up with buzz words to ever come up with a coherent business model which could monetize Sun’s vast assets (technology, people, etc.). That’s what led Sun from being “the dot in dot com” and a share price over $200 a few years ago to crack-whoring itself over the last year in a desperate attempt to find a buyer. Maybe I should tone down that analogy since it might give crack whores a bad name.

I have my own tortured haiku to offer to give a clearer perspective of Sun’s demise.

Once the dot in dot   
Com, now put a fork in Sun.
Ponytail failure.

Goodbye, Jonathan. I hope for the sake of hard-working employees and shareholders everywhere that you never run another company as long as you live. I know I’ll never work for or invest another cent in anything you touch.

Just a Plug for My Non-Tech Blog

January 29, 2010

I only have a link to my non-tech blog in my blogroll. I normally don’t advertise it anywhere, but I’d like to see more traffic so from time to time I may add links here. I realize many will be offended by things on that blog since I look at religion, politics, social issues, etc. Well, oops. At least I’m consistent since I seem to alienate people here, too.

Just posted an entry there about the surge in GDP. Worth considering even if you disagree.

Boycott Stupid Linux “Advocacy”

July 28, 2009

I saw this morning I’m getting a little (I mean little) stream of traffic from an anti-Microsoft site. I decided to look at the referring page and saw that someone had posted a link and kindly called the linked page “a great blog posting.” Thanks for the props. And thanks to other sites and places I’ve seen that particular entry posted.

Normally I wouldn’t respond to hysterical types who frequent sites like the referring site, but I want to take exception to two who left comments. First, someone said my arguments that there’s not a “Microsoft tax” were hollow and not serious. In fact, I pointed out that the only people to whom it can even be considered a tax are those who want a different operating system than most people; I added that after explaining that most people  — the masses — who buy computers demand they come with Microsoft Windows. Those mainstream users, who make up over 90% of the computer market, aren’t paying a “tax” to Microsoft or anyone else. They’re getting a value-added feature at a lower price than they would get if computers came without any operating system and, accordingly, no savings from a bulk OEM license agreement.

In my blog article in question, I pointed out that those who don’t want to buy a computer with Windows pre-installed have several options. Among those options is either building a computer yourself or having one custom built either by a small custom shop or by one of the OEMs (which they will do for you but sometimes at a higher price because such a computer is “custom”). So the argument that it’s impossible to buy a computer without Windows is bullshit. You can. The question is whether you’re willing to practice what you preach. I’ve suggested before that the people who call it a “Microsoft tax” are too lazy to do that. I am correct about that. Not only are they too lazy to practice what they preach, their thinking is so slovenly that all their arguments are intractably bound to their shitty little jingos. Linux advocacy has, unfortunately, become the domain of the intellectually lazy and the brazenly dishonest.

The second commenter at that particular site makes a similar, common error among those who consider bulk OEM license agreements some kind of tax — that a lack of computers with Linux or any other operating system is proof of some kind of monopolistic “tax” on buyers of OEM hardware. I think that’s a non sequitur.

The reason OEMs install Windows by default is because of the more than 90% of buyers expect a computer to come with an operating system, and the demand of the mainstream buyers that the installed operating system be Microsoft Windows.

It’s about supply and demand. That’s all. Little or no demand for Linux, very few models are offered with Linux. Great and nearly 100% demand for Windows, guess what gets installed.

I’ve covered related issues previously, such as when data about netbook sales and returns showed displeasure with Linux-based models. The fact that Windows XP continues to gain marketshare against Linux on netbooks is prima facie evidence that demand for Linux is not only waning but it’s never really been there. When the earliest models were 100% Linux-based, the first major hack was installing XP (or, for more daring souls, Vista or OSX). Return rates were very high. Then the OEMs started selling XP-based models. Before long, the Windows netbooks were outselling Linux models at rates similar to other laptops and desktops — 9:1 or better. And the return rates for Windows models were much lower, more comparable to return rates of general computers.

It should come as no surprise when companies like HP, Asus, and Acer curtail or even eliminate availability of Linux-based models when sales demonstrate next to zero demand for Linux and nearly unanimous demand for Windows models. When Linux has been offered in the past, sales rates have never been high enough to show that it’s profitable to continue. There just isn’t the demand. At least in most Western markets.

Accordingly, it would be extremely impractical for them to put Linux on n% of computers, where n is either the rate of current Linux use or much higher (using the whiny demands of the fucktards who insist OEMs install Linux on more computers headed for store shelves). Their distribution models are for a generalized market, not for serving a niche. If n is the 1-2% (conservative) of desktop Linux users, a line up like Dell’s Ubuntu-based offerings is more sensible. But there’s simply no way OEMs are going to put greater than that amount on store shelves even if they want to: the stores won’t stock what they can’t sell and they’ve already learned they cannot sell Linux models at a rate which makes sense for them. The “if we install Linux they’ll buy it” business model doesn’t work (except in the isolated markets where demand for Linux is already high), and OEMs and retailers would rather deal with a tiny group of clueless, whiny Linux advocates zealots than throngs of dissatisfied customers who expect Windows on their computers.

Worse, in a sense these kinds of Linux advocates zealots would restrict mainstream users’ choices when they buy computers. Think about what they’re really advocating. Either OEMs and retailers comply with their demands and put Linux models on the shelves or they only stock no-OS computers and either install for customers or force them to install it themselves. No OEM or retailer is going to like the last option which will most likely drive down sales and/or increase calls to tech support. The current model is to cater to the most significant demand. Just like when you order a Big Mac it comes with the meat, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, etc., on a sesame fucking seed bun. If you want your Big Mac customized, you have to wait for them to make it for you. They’re not going to make a bunch of fucking sandwiches only one or two people are going to order, and it’s not a “McD’s special sauce tax” just because you’d rather have yours with mustard instead. Fucktards.

Geez. It must be nice to have such a simplistic, jingo-filled view of the world that lets you see supply and demand as a “tax,” or which views any deviation from the pro-Linux side as “angry” or “hollow.” I think it’s ironic the number of Bush-haters I saw using Linux and on one hand mocking the previous administrations’ “them versus us” view of the world while doing the same with the other hand with respect to software. Don’t blame me for calling out your hypocrisy or muddled thinking.

As for the suggestion that I spend my time on a platform I actually like, I think I already do that — I make my own choices without tying myself down to brain-dead “this good, that bad” thought processes. I use Linux and BSD when I want, I use Windows when I want. Big fucking deal. I’m not threatened when someone chooses to buy a computer with whatever operating system on it, I really don’t care what they choose to run — I don’t see it any different from what brands of cars they drive, what color houses they live in, which god they worship (so long as they don’t sacrifice or harm other humans), or any other personal decisions they make.

For many people, Windows is ideal and Linux just won’t cut it. Really. Get over it.

Open Source Is Driven By Profit, Not by Egalitarianism or Selflessness

July 21, 2009

Some fellow commenters at distrowatch operate under the childish delusion that open source is some kind of equalizer against corporate interests. Nothing could be further from the truth. As I pointed out earlier this morning, most of the changes to the Linux 2.6 kernel have come directly from corporations or people who work for them.

Corporations don’t do this with any other intention but to further their own self interests. Whether they do it to make Linux work or work better with their hardware or to make more general improvements in some area, they’re doing it because it affects their bottom line. IBM, Oracle, HP, Intel, and so many other companies have become big players in open source because they can monetize it. If there were no profit potential, they wouldn’t be as involved as they are.

Sun Microsystems were very candid and upfront about their reasons for licensing their software under various open source licenses. They did it to sell support and hardware. They didn’t have the best possible business model for monetizing their open source software (hence the sale to Oracle) but they were very clear that open source had everything to do with trying to expand their business and much less to do with some sort of selflessness or egalitarianism (though some of their people tried to suggest otherwise).

I think where some people really miss the boat in trying to distinguish between open source and proprietary software as it relates to corporations is that these are two separate coins rather than two sides of the same one. Companies exist to make profits whether they participate in open source or keep their own code closed up. Neither side is really about “control” or oppression, but about maximizing revenue streams and keeping costs low. In that sense, there’s zero difference between closed and open source shops except the part about whether their code is obtainable or not.

Companies are no different from the individuals who work in them. Everyone gets up and goes to work because there’s something in it for them. Everyone. That includes “selfless” types like monks and nuns because they, too, are working for some kind of reward whether it’s financial or spiritual, in this world or in the next. A nun gets up in the morning for the same reason a tycoon does. There’s no difference. Take away profit or spiritual rewards and both will find something else that will provide them with more than their respective starting points. People always do what’s in their own self interest, and only sacrifice their own interests when that’s actually in their interests to do so.

Open source is only egalitarian in the sense that anyone can participate and (usually) the best ideas end up rising to the top. That doesn’t change what I wrote above about self-interests. Lone wolf programmers who contribute do so to fill their own needs or for back-patting that accompanies doing things which benefit others. Those are rewards. Without them, few sane people would bother.

While there are many open and closed projects driven by lone wolves, companies involved in open source or closed source drive most of the innovation in the software world and are the leaders in the direction things go. Not because they’re inherently evil or controlling, particularly in relation to “ambitionless” or “selfless” (ha) individual programmers, but because they have the resources to drive innovation and are driven to do things the market — their customers — desire. Nothing at all to do with controlling customers, but filling others’ needs and trying to create more demand.

It’s time for the proponents of open source who use these vapid arguments against “corporate interests” to stop making fools of themselves. Open source would be a joke were it not for corporate interests and the resources they’ve poured into making open source better.

It’s also time for me to shake the dust off my feet at distrowatch. Those who want to worship RMS can do so if they choose. I appreciate the contributions he’s made to free/open source — I’m posting this from within emacs running Linux with all the usual GNU-age accompanying my current distro (despite my attempts to replace as much of it as possible with BSD/MIT-licensed alternatives). But, as I wrote yesterday and asked again this morning, he can’t be the father of something that already existed before you people say he fathered it.

screenshot-20090721124353

Think about it.