handyfloss

Because FLOSS is handy, isn’t it?

Archive for the ‘This evil world’ Category

A vueltas con el incremento de ancho de banda de Euskaltel

Posted by isilanes on February 21, 2008

Como el lector quizá sabrá, Euskaltel ha duplicado (y triplicado) la anchura de banda de todas o casi todas sus ofertas de conexión a Internet. Y lo ha hecho manteniendo los precios, lo cual es de agradecer (aunque no del todo soprendente, dado que llevaban más de 2 años sin cambiar su oferta).

Pues bien, la línea de 300 kb que tienen mis padres contratada, supuestamente ahora la ofrecen a 1Mb. ¡Genial, el triple de velocidad por el mismo precio! Bueno, la realidad es que no es del todo cierto. Parece ser que cambiar la página web para ofrecer mayores velocidades es más fácil que realmente servir mayores velocidades, con lo cual hay una pequeña discrepancia entre lo ofertado y lo servido: mis padres siguen con 300 kb.

Decidí esperar hasta febrero para que tuvieran un tiempo “de gracia” para adecuar el servicio a la oferta, pero como ya estamos a finales, he decidido quejarme a través de su área de cliente.

Como admiro y respeto a Euskatel por su buen trato al cliente y eficiencia en el servicio, he querido homenajearlos publicando en el blog la conversación electrónica que estoy teniendo con ellos. De esta manera, mis lectores verán lo buenos que son en Euskaltel (o lo malos que son: en su mano está). Mi experiencia es una gota en el océano, pero con que un solo lector decida contratar Euskaltel por leer esto ya sentiré que he hecho algo por una compañia que se desvive por darme el mejor servicio posible.

Más posts sobre Euskaltel:

Mi queja original (18-02-2008):

Veo en su página (euskaltel.es), que el contrato Despega 300 se ha convertido en Despega 1M, manteniendo la tarifa. Mis padres tienen contratado dicho servicio, pero la velocidad de conexión sigue siendo de 300 kb. Quisiera saber qué tipo de error han cometido uds., bien sea por publicidad engañosa (si el error está en la página web), o deficiencia de servicio (si nos están dando un ancho de banda menor del contratado). Por supuesto, también me gustaría que dicho error sea subsanado cuanto antes.

Gracias de antemano.

Respuesta de Euskaltel (20-02-2008):

Estimado cliente:

En respuesta a la consulta que nos remite a traves de su correo, efectivamente el servicio de Internet Despega 300 Kbps a dejado de comercializarse para pasar a ser Despega 1 Mb por la misma cuota mensual.

En el caso de los clientes que tiene contratado el Despega 300 Kpbs, se les va a subir la velocidad a 1 Mg sin coste adicional, estas subidas de velocidad se estan realizando paulatinamente y esta previsto que para verano ya esten todos nuestros clientes con las velocidades actualizadas. No obstante, cuando se vaya a producir el aumento de velocidad, recibiran noticias por parte nuestras informandoles de dicho cambio.

Esperando haber aclarado sus dudas,

Reciba un cordial saludo,

Euskaltel, S.A.

Mi respuesta (21-02-2008):

Estimada Euskaltel,

Comprendo y respeto los motivos (aunque no se me expliquen) de Euskaltel para hacer una subida paulatina de velocidades a los clientes actuales (aunque esto suponga un agravio comparativo frente a los nuevos clientes, que lo obtienen inmediamente).

Como entiendo que Euskaltel es igual de compresiva o más que yo, supongo que no le importará que yo, a cambio, pague un tercio de mi cuota mensual habitual, ya que se me da un tercio de la velocidad contratada (me dan el ancho de banda del momento que firmé, pero no el ACTUAL del servicio que contraté). Por supuesto, y al igual que Euskaltel conmigo, iré aumentando “paulatinamente” mi aporte mensual a Euskaltel, y espero (salvo imprevistos) pagar el 100% de mi cuota “para verano”, cuando previsiblemente uds. me darán el 100% del servicio contratado.

Iñaki

P.D.: pueden uds. seguir esta conversación, al igual que todos mis lectores, en mi blog: http://handyfloss.wordpress.com/2008/02/21/a-vueltas-con-el-incremento-de-ancho-de-banda-de-euskaltel/

Respuesta Euskaltel (22-02-2008)

Estimado cliente:

En respuesta a la consulta que nos remite a traves de su mensaje, le informamos de que Euskaltel cuando comunico el aumento de velocidad que aplicaria sobre los servicios ya contratados por los clientes sin modificar las cuotas, tambien comunico que el cambio se aplicaria de forma escalonada durante los proximos meses. Le informamos tambien que para este tipo de cambios, la ley tiene un plazo estipulado de 6 meses.

Asi mismo, Euskaltel tambien comunico que a partir de ese momento la velocidad minima que ofreceria seria 1M.

A los clientes que tengan contratado el servicio despega 300kb, Euskaltel les aumentara la velocidad de conexion sin que por ello se incremente la cuota mensual, lo cual no perjudica al cliente en ningun momento. Ni reducira la cuota a un tercio, puesto que Euskaltel en ningun momento comunico que modificaria la cuota mensual sobre los servicios de banda ancha contratados manteniendo la velocidad que en breve quedara obsoleta, sino que aumentaria la velocidad manteniendo la cuota mensual.

Tambien le recordamos que a los clientes se les esta ofreciendo el ancho de banda que contrataron, como Vd. bien dice, asta(sic) que Euskaltel les aplique el aumento de velocidad cuando llegue el momento; y se les notificara dicho cambio.

Reciba un cordial saludo,

Euskaltel, S.A.

Mi respuesta (22-02-2008):

Estimada Euskaltel,

En ningún momento he dudado de que tuvieran uds. la ley de su parte. Es más, estaba totalmente seguro de que si la ley les permitía retrasar el aumento de velocidad prometido 6 meses, se tomarían uds. los 6 meses, como admiten que harán. Si les hubiera permitido tomarse 12 meses, se habríán tomado 12, obviamente. Todo ello por dar el mejor servicio posible a sus clientes, ¡faltaría más!

Soy reticente a tomarme mi aumento de velocidad “manteniendo la cuota” (como tanto repiten), como un regalo que Euskaltel me hace en su infinita bondad. Más bien me lo tomo como obligación legal de no discriminación de unos clientes frente a otros, ya que (por motivos de negocio) han actualizado sus obsoletas tarifas (llevaban más de 2 años congeladas) para los nuevos clientes, y (mal que les pese) no pueden tener doble tarificación para clientes nuevos y viejos. Por tanto, se ven obligados a aumentarme el ancho de banda, y lo van a hacer lo más tarde que les permite la ley. Así que excúsenme que no les dé las gracias.

La única duda que me queda es la justificación moral (ya que legal parece haber) para ofrecer un servicio mejor a los nuevos clientes, con el consiguiente agravio comparativo para los clientes actuales. Parece que en vez de premiar la fidelidad prefieren insultarla.

Dada su política, lo más sabio por mi parte sería darme de baja, e inmediatamente darme de alta, para poder beneficiarme de su actual tarifa. Claro que no dudo de que uds. contarán con innumerables salvaguardas legales para obstaculizarme dicha operación lo más posible, retrasando la baja tanto como la ley les permita, de manera que no me saliese ventajoso hacer eso.

¿Leyendo mis argumentos les parece a uds. que están trabajando por tener contentos a los clientes?

Mi humilde consejo, para la próxima vez, es que si van a hacer un cambio de tarifas o servicios, lo hagan para TODOS los clientes simultáneamente (si no pueden, esperen hasta poder), y hagan el anuncio del cambio 1 minuto DESPUÉS de efectuarlo. Créanme, nadie les denunciará por haber duplicado el ancho de banda sin avisar. Avisar sin duplicar, por el contrario, sí puede ser constitutivo de delito (o al menos grave falta a los ojos de los clientes).

Atentamente,

Iñaki

Posted in This evil world | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

German government caught buying malware to intercept Skype calls

Posted by isilanes on January 26, 2008

I’ll parrot here the news shaking the blogosphere today: apparently the German government intended to obtain software to spy on Skype users. What’s next?

Links:

Posted in This evil world | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Free magenta!

Posted by isilanes on January 21, 2008

I have just read at Barrapunto (Spanish version of Slashdot), that T-Mobile registered the magenta color (#FF0090) in 2000. Read more in Spanish at Tecnoaldea.NET, and in English at COLOURlovers. As Servicemarks comments, Red Bull also sort of owns a color.

Now, I ask myself how can a company register something like a color? I don’t know if registering is related to patenting, but for the latter you can not patent something if it is covered by prior art. And a color has certainly history: all colors existed before they were “discovered” or “invented”!


Blue panther from freemagenta.nl

No more Pink Panther, because magenta belongs to T-Mobile
(taken from freemagenta.nl)

Given this stupid situation, there even is a platform of people asking to “free” the magenta color: freemagenta.nl. That is the place I took the above picture from.

Posted in This evil world | Leave a Comment »

El Gobierno Vasco dice NO al software libre

Posted by isilanes on January 19, 2008

Quería hacerme eco de la noticia, aunque no es nueva (creo que es una decisión de principios del pasado diciembre). Tal y como se puede leer, y bien comentado, en softwarelibre.deusto.es y en cybereuskadi.com, el Gobierno Vasco se ha sacado de la manga un informe (por ahora, secreto) por el que han concluido que el software libre no es una alternativa viable al actual sistema de software privativo (básicamente, Windows con Office) para los ordenadores oficiales.

La declaración oficial (PDF) de la Vicepresidenta del GV, Idoia Zenarruzabeitia, es una respuesta a una petición realizada por la diputada del grupo socialista Idoia Mendia.

El detonante de este post es otro en la página de ELSE (Asociación de Empresas de Software Libre de Euskadi), donde comentan una reunión mantenida hace 4 días con el GV, de la que ESLE salió (aparentemente) con bastante buena impresión. Yo no comparto tal impresión. Más bien creo que el supuesto informe es una excusa barata. Dice ESLE en su blog:

También hemos solicitado acceso al informe realizado a lo que Gobierno nos ha trasladado la imposibilidad de sacarlo al exterior, ya que se trata de un documento de uso interno [...]

Y yo me pregunto: ¿es que un informe así no debería hacerse público? ¿No tiene la ciudadanía el derecho a saber? ¿No debe el gobierno dar explicaciones a sus ciudadanos?

Ocultar el informe convierte lo dicho por el gobierno en un simple argumento de autoridad. Como lo dice Zenarruzabeitia, o cierta consultora, o cierto informe, o el gobierno, o _____ (introduzca la autoridad que desee), debe de ser verdad.

A mí a lo que me suena es a que tienen otras razones, más inconfesables que las dadas, para rechazar el SL, y se escudan tras el informe para justificarse. En otro foro propuse que quizá (¡qué mal pensado soy!) en caso de dejar de malgastar dinero público comprando software de mala calidad a una empresa privada extranjera, quizá ciertas personas (las que decidían si hacer dicha compra o no) dejarían de recibir misteriosos maletines por Navidad (negros por fuera, y llenos de verde por dentro, creo que se me entiende).

Pues bien, parece que hay más gente defendiendo estas “conspiranoias”. Por ejemplo, hay gente que dice que difícilmente el GV se pasará al SL después de saber que MS lleva un tiempo “negociando” con el GV instalar una sede en Arrasate. Dicha sede, supongo, traería mucho dinero para el gobierno Euskadi, con lo cual pasarse al SL y enfadar a tito Gates podría ser muuuuy malito para los políticos la ciudadanía.

Posted in This evil world | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Blackout summary IX

Posted by isilanes on December 11, 2007

Yesterday morning, a new failure from Iberdrola turned the power supply of the whole campus off. So, here goes the updated list of blackouts I have been able to compile, with comments if any:

  1. 2007-Dec-10 (I used the reboot of my computer to install kernel 2.6.22-3)
  2. 2007-Oct-16
  3. 2007-Aug-27 (at least three short power failures, 5-10 minutes apart)
  4. 2007-May-19
  5. 2006-Oct-21 (they warned beforehand)
  6. 2006-Sep-14 (Orpheus fell, the DNSs fell, the DHCP servers fell)
  7. 2006-Jul-04 (Orpheus didn’t fall)
  8. 2006-Jun-16
  9. 2006-Jun-13
  10. 2006-Jun-08
  11. 2006-Jun-04
  12. 2006-May-26 (The card-based automated access to the Faculty broke down)
  13. 2005-Dec-21
  14. 2005-Dec-13

Summary: 14 blackouts in 728 days, or 52 dpb (days per blackout). 56 days since last blackout. Average dpb went up by 0.3.

First post in the series: here

Posted in This evil world | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Vendor lock-in for dummies

Posted by isilanes on December 4, 2007

Intro

Any GNU/Linux user ends up hearing, sooner or later, the Ultimate Argument(tm) from a Windows fanboy:

If Linux is so good, and is given away for free, how can Windows still be so prominent?

Ironically, many Windows users answer the question themselves, when explaining why they can’t make the switch to Linux:

  • There are no games for Linux
  • Photoshop or AutoCAD are vital for me, and they only work under Windows
  • I fear some pieces of hardware won’t work under Linux
  • The web page of my bank only displays correctly under IE
  • My friends/colleagues/business partners share documents in MS Office formats, and I need to be compatible

The concept than embraces all the preceding points, and answers the rhetorical question above, is vendor lock-in. I will try to explain the concept with a humble tale I have used twice so far in comments to entries in Enrique Dans’s blog.

Tales of bicycles and cars

Imagine a country with no bicycles.

One day a guy comes up with the idea of making them, and starts to produce, and sell, bicycles that we shall call of type A. Being an empty market, the A-type bicycles quickly triumph, and the maker makes a lot of money.

But some time later, a second guy devises a better bike design (type B), and decides to produce and sell it. The price and the quality are better, so when people buy a new bike or replace an old one, they tend to buy bikes of type B. Soon enough, the market is dominated by the new, better, bicycle.

Now imagine a country with no cars.

One day a guy comes up with the idea of making cars, and starts to produce and sell cars of type A. As cars need petrol to run, A-type gas stations develop in parallel to car sales. Building gas stations is expensive, but sales are guaranteed, as everyone has or will have A-type cars, and they need A-type petrol: their growth is synergistic.

But some time later, a second guy devises a better car design (type B) and decides to produce and sell it. The price and the quality are better, BUT drivers can not buy B-type cars, because there is no B-type gas station. The problem is that, since noone has a B-type car, making B-type gas stations is doomed to bankrupt. So, no B-type cars are sold, because there are no B-type gas stations, and B-type gas stations will not be made until B-type cars are popular!

The result is a vendor lock-in.

Consequences

When a market (such as the one in the tale above) is dominated by vendor lock-ins, the producers benefited by the lock-in have little, if any, incentive to make better products. Their sales are guaranteed by the lock-in situation, not by their superior product in a fair market.

On the other hand, other producers will have an extremely hard time for competing, as their products will be almost unusable for the buyers.

The moral is that the lock-in situation is bad for either the potential users of the product locked-out (the B-type car above) and the locked-in one (the A-type car). Even if a consumer would never choose the locked-out product, the lack of competition will adversely affect the evolution of the product they do choose. The lock-in is bad for everyone: all consumers and all producers but the locker ones.

And this relates to Windows vs. Linux in what way?

In a really straightforward way. Microsoft, cunning as they are, have tried their best to get as many lock-ins on the software market as they can. Ironically, instead of abhorring this practice, most Windows users happily continue not only using, but even defending the product. I shudder at the simpleton comment that “freedom is not using Linux, but using Windows and Linux whenever you feel like it”. Literally taken, it is a very wise argument. But unfortunately the reality is not so simple: using Windows helps enforce a lock-in that keeps Linux out (while in this case the contrary is not true). You can not use Windows/Linux 50/50, because Windows asks you for monogamy.

The many lock-ins that MS has forced down the throats of the users, while the latter still claim them to be benefits of Windows include (as mentioned at the beginning):

  • Proprietary communication protocols that will not work with any other OS. This includes modifications on the IE web browser, so that web pages had to be done for it, and then be incompatible with other browsers. Or the MSN protocol, that is kept as closed as possible, to make free clones of the MSN client as little compatible as possible.
  • Proprietary file formats that will not be possible to modify with tools other than the “official” MS ones: WMV for video, DOC, XLS, PPT for office documents.
  • As much “Windows-only” software as possible, including games. Making games for platforms other than Windows ensues the wrath of MS, something that game makers can not take lightly, since their sales depend on the game actually running under Windows.
  • As much “Windows-only” hardware as possible. The first idea that someone gets about an OS is that it is the piece of software that interacts with the hardware. If so, it is astonishing why it is not MS the one incorporating the drivers in the OS, instead of the hardware makers (hardware != software) providing them. We have all grown accustomed to buying printers, mice, external CD/DVD/HDs… with a CD with the “Drivers for Windows 98″ or some such. Why? Windows can not make the drivers out of the blue, true. But the hardware makers can just make the necessary data public, so anyone will be able to make drivers. If the maker keeps these specifications secret, they will simply not sell anything.

Posted in This evil world | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

NSA backdoor in public crytographic system?

Posted by isilanes on November 17, 2007

The following shows why crytograpy methods shoud be public. There is some common misconception, that assumes that the most secure crypto methods are “proprietary” or “secret” ones. This is a terrible error, since only knowing the “recipe” (the algorithms) behind a given method can assure us that it is actually robust.

The question can rise: how can a publicly known crytographic method be secure? By definition, everyone will know how it works! Not quite. The operation method can be known to all, and an eavesdroper could know what method we are using, but if the method is secure, the eavesdroper will not be able to decipher a given message. It might be tempting to think that if an eavesdroper doesn’t even know what encryption we are using, or she knows the “name”, but the method behind is secret, then the security of the message is increased. This is called security through obscurity, and is actually a very dangerous error, because it might lead us to be less exigent in the robustness of the encryption algorithm. A communication can only be considered secure if even knowing the encryption algorithm, an eavesdropper could not decrypt it.

To achieve this, it is vital that the encryption algorithm be publicly known, and rigorous tests applied. This is the case of the crypto standards of the North-American NIST. All the standards “accepted” by them have to be subject to open scrutiny, which happens to be a Good Thing(tm). You’ll see it if you read the following articles in The Register and Wired.

In summary: one of the components of cryptographic methods is random number generation. One of the ones approved this year by the NIST (called Dual_EC_DRBG), relied on a set of initial numbers to generate the “random” result (I’ll call this set P, public). This is normal, and correct. The problem comes from the fact that this set of numbers is apparently related to another (unknown) set of numbers (that I’ll call B, backdoor), knowledge of which could empower someone to break the resulting encryption. The way I understand it, is like having the known set of numbers P = (6,12,18,24,30), but then realizing that they are all built from the set B = (2,3). In the Dual_EC_DRBG method, some experts have realized that the set P is related to another set, but they still haven’t found what are the elements of B.

Now, the scary part is that (life’s full of casualities) the Dual_EC_DRBG was introduced in the standard proposed, and pushed, by the NSA of the USA, aka “the eavesdroppers of the world”. So I’ll invent a little fiction, with no relationship with the reality: imagine that a given government agency N of nation U takes a set of numbers B, and comes up with an encryption method M that produces the apparently innocent set P from it, and then M uses P to perform encryption. If the encryption method M becomes a standard, and people all around the world use it for anything from private e-mail to secure government or militar communications… guess who has a the key to read all these messages? (a backdoor).

Thanks $GOD, this is science fiction, is it not?

Posted in This evil world | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

My opinion on Mandriva vs. Microsoft

Posted by isilanes on November 6, 2007

Blog moved to: handyfloss.net

Entry available at: http://handyfloss.net/2007.11/my-opinion-on-mandriva-vs-microsoft/

I have posted about an open letter François Bancilhon, CEO of Mandriva, wrote to Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft.

Here I intend to give proper answer to some comments in the Mandriva blog page, mostly covering ethical and legal issues.

For a complete immersion on the subject, please read the whole letter. For a summary: the government of Nigeria decided to buy 17k computers. Mandriva and Microsoft made offers, and Mandriva won. After the computers being sent to Nigeria, the government of Nigeria contacted Mandriva and informed them that they’d pay the bill, but that they had changed their mind and would install Windows instead.

Now some comments in the Mandriva blog page, and my responses:

Charles said

November 1, 2007 at 3:03 pm

Would you entrust your country’s educational computer future to a company whose CEO writes whiny unprofessional conspiracy theories on his blog? I sure as hell wouldn’t.

Even if bribes were made (and I’m just saying hypothetically ‘if’), the reality is that for this to have happened somebody must have seen value in a Microsoft solution over your ware. It’s your fault for not being able to convince the customer otherwise, not Microsoft’s for behaving like a business.

Grow up.

1) The whole point is that with Mandriva the Nigerian government wouldn’t be “entrusting their country’s educational computer future” to anyone. It’s the other way around! No matter how stupid/lame/immoral/illegal Mandriva and its CEO are, once you make the Linux bet, you are free. You don’t depend on any single vendor for anything. I know it’s a complex concept for a slave-minded Windows user, but Linux is about Freedom. On the other hand, going for Windows implies entrusting yourself to a single company: Microsoft. Would you pledge obedience to an unethical, monopolistic, soulless, predatory and often illegal company? You are doing so by surrendering to MS. Besides, the CEO of Mandriva is not “whining”. He is caring. After all, they got the money, so, if money was his only concern, he’d be happy. But he is concerned about more things, which you seem to be impervious to: the fairness of the deal, the fulfillment of closed agreements, the access of Nigerian youth to Free Software, the respect of MS to anti-monopoly and fair market rules… The wise is pointing the sky, and you look at the finger instead.

2) It is not Mandriva’s “fault”, and MS did not “behave like a business”. If MS somehow bribed the Nigerian government, they’d be seriously breaking international law, violating the rules you rely on to believe you live in a democracy. Not “everything” is permitted in business. A monopolistic holding can not sell products below price (dumping) to eliminate the competitors. It is against law, and, if permitted, it totally damages the consumer in the long run. In the short run, the lower prices are a plus for the consumer, but once the competition is hampered, the company in the monopolistic position can continue abusing the market (raising the prices, lowering the quality, applying arbitrary limitations…).

sarek said,

November 5, 2007 at 3:46 pm

François,

What are you whining about. You have sold your PC you already have your money. If the Nigerians would say, we don’t want to pay for the software because we install Microsoft Windows i could understand your complaining. But you have deliverd your goods, and got payed. What is your problem, if the Nigerians want to convert the machines to a Sony Playstation, that is not you problem, it is their right because they have bought and payed for the goods. I can’t understand all those whining of Linux community against Microsoft, I use Linux myself and the company uses Windows. Linux is not heaven and Microsoft is not Hell. If you look at companies as Suse/Novell and Red Hat, it is no open source anymore (they are copieing the Microsoft marketing strategie).

François, stop whining and use a better sales team

3) Again, François is not complaining for money! He is speaking of fairness, justice, and even the good of the Nigerians themselves. Don’t you get it? Mandriva won the contract, because their offer was better. Any act whatsoever afterwards is a dirty trick (possibly illegal) to impose a worse product that had lost in fair competition. François is worried about Nigerians getting the worse product.

4) About Mandriva getting a better sales team… why should they? They freakin’ won the contract!! Their product is better, and their sales team did convince the Nigerian government. Where did Mandriva fail? They should have bribed the Nigerian government, I infer?

Steve said,

November 5, 2007 at 2:41 pm

Come on guys! Seriously, you wonder why the mass market isn’t taking on Linux in numbers? There’s a number of reasons, but comments like:

“I am proud to be a linux user and i’ll die as a linux user.”

“MS is like a drug dealer”

And then moaning about ethics. Come on – this is business.

5) No. François is not talking only about ethics. Bribing someone to dump the option that won in a public competition and choose the loser option is illegal and unfair. Besides, it is also unethic, and your lame ad hominem attack on Linux users doesn’t “prove” otherwise. What you accuse Linux users of is not unethic, and even if it were, it doesn’t disprove our arguments (read what an ad hominem is, please).

Maybe, just maybe Microsoft presented a really good business case, stating the TCO on a volume licence agreement compared to the Mandrivia option. The cost would be reduced due to the volume licence agreement anyway, and that also includes free technical support to MS.

6) This line of argumentation is irrelevant. Obviously MS might have a better offer than Mandriva. But the public competition was made just for that! Both Mandriva and MS made the offers they considered fit, and Mandriva won. How many times does this need to be said? Mandriva won the competition and MS lost it. If the Nigerian government changed their mind afterwards, it has nothing to do with MS’s merits, because such merits were judged in the public competition that Mandriva won.

Whilst Linux is a great platform, it’s still nowhere near Vista or XP level yet. Whilst Linux is free or very cheap this is OK – but if you compare Vista against Linux and remove the cost out of the equasion then the worlds most popular OS is probably going to win it.

7) You have obviously not used Linux much. The technical competition was lost for Windows long time ago. The only advantage of Windows is that it is more widely used and that more commercial software is made for it, and this generates a vendor lock-in effect. Both effects are external to Windows. Intrinsically, and leaving the price aside, Linux is miles ahead of MS Windows.

That’s just business, we’ve had the same thing happen to us (our company is a web development company. Got Phase 1 done, but support went as they got their system redone by a competitor before we even finished development) Get over it, stop whining like children and start working as a commerical entity rather than hobbyists.

8 ) This is not “business”, this is breaking the law (see point 2 above).

chineme said,

November 4, 2007 at 8:28 pm

I don’t understand what all this fuss is about,Someone buys a laptop or PC that comes pre-installed with windows (also paying for the software) then remove windows and install mandriva no one complains.

Then he do the opposite and everyone takes up arms.

9) You are wrong. If I buy a laptop privately, I can do with it whatever I see fit. But the Nigerian government bought 17k computers with public money. Whenever you do something like that, you have to make (if you live in a democracy) a public competition, to see which provider makes the best offer (to guarantee that public money is spent correctly). This competition was made, and Mandriva won. If, afterwards, and with no further public competition, the government decides otherwise, they are misusing the public funds.

Lets face it the Nigerian government wanted a good cheap hardware deal and they got it and they probably also got a good deal on OS from Microsft as well. So they went for it. What is this Francois complaining about? Wasnt he paid or did they violate a contract that he can sue them for? If they did he can go ahead ad sue and stop whinning.

10) See point 9 above.

Did he ever go to Nigeria to protect his investment? Or did he just read up all the drivel and nonsense about Nigeria being a corrupt country full of spammers like the rest of you and decide to stay away as far as possible.

11) No. What François did was to win the public competition with his better offer. Period. Mandriva’s offer was better, it won, and any other use of the Nigerian money is a misuse on the government’s side, and illegal actions from MS’s side depending on what they did to get the deal.

On spam: I recieve more spam on people trying to sell me viagra or sell me a home ownership loan or even winning a lottery than Nigerians trying to get me to move millions out of the country and I treat them all the same way: I trash them.

Lets concentrate on the real issue being poor marketing and follow up and leave Nigeria’s ethics or lack of it out of the issue

12) The “real issue” is not poor marketing. It is improper assignation of public funds. Read points 9 and 11 above.

Alex said,

November 3, 2007 at 5:46 pm

Dear François,
Your letter show ignorance on your part about black people in general and Nigerians in partucular. Nigerians may be poor now- but they are certainly not stupid!
Your assuption- even though you have dealt with nigerians is that they are ignorant about both business issue and they do not have they technical savvy to make their own decisions- it’s nothing but pure racism. Not racisim out of malice- you seem to demonstarte a sincere ignorance about the abilities of africans.

Incidentlly, only French young people spend more time in education than Nigerians in the whole world- you can check that out
Do you seriously Think Nigerians- some of the best educated people in in African , if not in the world are not clever enough to change from your OS to microsoft’s.

13) You are using a laughable straw man argument. François is not implying that Nigerians are stupid. He (if I understand correctly) is implying that a) MS behaved illegally, bribing the Nigerian government to make it choose an option that had lost in a fair and public competition, over the one that had won, and b) it might be a case of corruption in the Nigerian government side, by knowingly choosing the loser in the aforementioned competition, and hence misusing the public money assigned to buy computers. To “change their mind”, the Nigerian government would have had to repeat the public competition, so that MS could win in a second round.

As a person of Nigerian parentage, when i first read about your deal I was alamed about you supplying your OS to nigerian schools. From what I know about Nigerians everybody used microsoft anyway- Every Nigerian I know- including the teachers who would be using this machnines use microsoft.

The delivery of machine s that are rugged by your company is just the perfect thing for nigeria and her schools.
To me it sounds like the best business outcome- from the point of view of the customer.
They get rugged machines good for their situation, and an os they are used to

I think for once Nigerians have let common sence rather than money to prevail.
Maybe you should press our advantage that they loved your machines to keep your relationship with the Nigerian govermenmt going, so that you get more contracts from the country- Nigerian is a huge country with millions of young people eager to learn. A well considered stategy and long term view by your country in a frican may in the end popularise your OS there as well- believe me there are ways to beat microsoft in a country like nigeria- I mean software design wise

14) Getting computers with Windows is about the worst possible outcome for Nigeria. You say that Nigerians are eager to learn, but on the other hand you say that getting Windows is better, because they are used to it! Staying with the known “bad” thing, not to have to learn the new “good” thing is very bad politics for a developing country.

GvS said,

November 2, 2007 at 4:55 pm

Maybe because Mandriva is just one of 10.000 linux distro’s, and Windows is the defacto industry standard.

15) Windows being the de facto standard is really really bad for the computer users. What this means is that instead of software makers following the standards agreed upon by all agents (makers, users, governments…), it’s the other way around: users, governments and other companies have to follow the decisions of MS. Decisions that are taken to benefit only MS, regardless of how negative they might be for the users. Do you really think this situation is good for you?

If you are running a government, and you have to choose between:
a. A linux distro that my students have a 1% (a very very high estimate) of using in real life (that is working for a company)
b. A M$ solution, they will use in at least 50% (a very very low estimate) of the companies they will ever work for.
Now what do you choose to best prepare your students?

16) Your argument is that people shouldn’t use Linux because people don’t use Linux. Reread it, an realize what a nonsense it is! The correct reasoning is the following:

a) Windows binds you to a vendor (MS) / Linux doesn’t
b) Windows restricts your rights to use, modify and redistribute it / Linux doesn’t
c) Windows artificially restricts (DRM) what kind of media you can play on it / Linux doesn’t
d) Windows encourages you not to learn how the computer works / Linux does the opposite
e) Windows makes you dependent on proprietary formats / Linux doesn’t
f) Windows is bug ridden, unstable and subject to malware / The incidence of these is infinitely smaller in Linux
g) Windows encourages following the beaten path / Linux encourages finding your own way
h) Windows makes you fall in a dependency loop that is hard to get out of / Linux gives you freedom
i) Windows means more money to the already rich / Linux means more power to the user

Now, as a teacher in a developing country, eager to break the chains with the First World domination, to give the most freedom and power to your students, to educate them to learn, and not just repeat what others do without real knowledge… what would you choose to provide your students?

Anonymous said,

November 1, 2007 at 4:02 am

François,

Why are you assuming that Microsoft did something underhanded? It could very well be the case that a deal with Microsoft is more viable for the Nigerian goverment in the longer run -
– Their products are tried and trusted. Yours is still an unknown quantity.
– Their customer support is supposedly very good. How about yours?
– Maybe the TCO for Microsoft’s solution is lower than your solution.

I’m in no way taking sides. But you must be willing to accept the possibility that Microsoft could have presented a better long term deal for them.
-Anonymous

17) Did you actually read François’s post? MS lost the public competition. Mandriva won it. MS’s offer could have been better, but it actually wasn’t. Read point 6 above.

djbon2112 said,

November 2, 2007 at 11:37 am

Wow, more bitching from a Linux distro because Microsoft won a deal? Unheard-of!

18) Again the same nonsense! Microsoft LOST the deal. There was a public competition, and Mandriva won. Mandriva and MS had the opportunity to make their best offers, both did, and the government chose Madriva. MS didn’t win the deal: they bribed their way into it. Read points 2, 6 and 9 above, please.

Sorry, but Microsoft makes a better product. You know why? It doesn’t abuse my time.

I’ve tried to use Linux. I’ve tried Ubuntu, and Debian, and Fedora, and countless other distros (yours included) throughout the years. And every time, I’ve run into problems which are so simple to fix in Windows, but take HOURS of my time to attempt to fix in Linux. And I say “attempt”, because 90% of the time, the “solutions” don’t work, and I’ve wasted another hour of my life trying to make something simple (like, a Flash plug-in for Firefox in x64?, to name one of MANY!) work.

A friend of mine said, “Linux is only free if your time is worthless”. Microsoft products work easily, the first time, and don’t waste my life with trivial issues and setup. I can get a Windows Vista box up and surfing the internet, playing games, watching movies, doing ANYTHING you want, in under 2 hours. I’ll take a little “insecurity” (and Windows is only insecure if you’re an idiot) for that!

19) This rant is more tech-related than about the Mandriva vs. MS issue at hand. Anyway, I will comment something: your experience is anecdotal. Windows is easier than Linux if you are an expert in the former, and an ignorant in the latter. I have a long experience in both, and for me Linux is easier. When I an forced to use that pile of crap called Windows I keep finding that I don’t know how to do the simplest things. Maybe it’s because I am more used to Linux… so this proves my point. And there are a lot of things that are really simple in Linux, and are really annoying, or impossible to do in Windows.

You say that “Linux is only free if your time is worthless”. It’s a good point, but rather false. You are assuming that you already know how to use Windows, and that you have to learn how to use Linux. But if you know neither, learning Linux does not necessarily require more of your valuable time. Moreover, all the time I have spent figuring out how to do things in Linux was not wasted time for me. I learned a lot, not about Linux, but about how to do stuff, and how computers work, and how the Internet works, and about security, and about programming, and about an awful lot of things. Linux gave me the marvelous opportunity to learn a lot!

Update: Nigerian government moves back to Mandriva

Posted in This evil world | Tagged: , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Open letter from Mandriva to Steve Ballmer

Posted by isilanes on November 1, 2007

The letter says it all.

Posted in This evil world | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Euskaltel y sus tarifas

Posted by isilanes on October 7, 2007

Da gusto ver anuncios de empresas que te cuentan que se preocupan por tí. Que mejoran contínuamente por tí. Que avanzan por tí.

Euskaltel es una de esas empresas. Una empresa que ofrece cosas nuevas constantemente, y que no para de mejorar el servicio y abaratar las facturas. Como muestra un botón. He encontrado un papel con las tarifas de Euskaltel a fecha de 11 de octubre de 2005, cuando acudía a un distribuidor oficial para contratar banda ancha en casa. Pues bien, me ha entrado curiosidad por compararla con las tarifas actuales, y los resultados los resumo en la tabla que sigue. Todos los precios están en euros (mensuales, excepto “Recarga”, que son por 4h), y sin IVA.

Servicio Tarifa a 11/10/2005 Tarifa a 07/10/2007
Tarifa plana 56kbps 15.03 17.54
Despega 300 23 23
Despega 3M 39 39
Despega 6M 75 -
Despega 8M 120 -
Despega 12M - 75
Despega 24M - 120
Por Volumen 1M 19.5 19.5
Recarga 300 5 5
Recarga 1M - 7.5
Recarga 3M 7.5 -
Recarga 4M - 14.5
Recarga 6M 14.5 -

Los servicios “Despega” son tarifas planas (desde 300kbps hasta 24Mbps). Los servicios “Recarga” se cobran por bonos de 4, 8 o 12 horas (que cuestan x, 2x o 3x. No hay ningún beneficio por adquirir bonos de mayor duración. La tabla muestra el valor de “x”). El servicio “Por Volumen” implica un tráfico total (download+upload) de menos de 4GB/més. Mencionar también (aunque la tabla no lo incluye) que Euskaltel ofrece ahora (y hace dos años no), un servicio de “Contrato”, en el que el consumo de banda ancha se paga por horas (¡menudo avance!).

Un análisis crítico de la tabla nos muestra lo siguiente: en “Despega”, los servicios de menor ancho de banda cuestan lo mismo que hace dos años. Los servicios más caros han mantenido el precio, pero aumentando la velocidad de la conexión. Esto es, en principio, positivo. Pero me gustaría saber cuántos particulares (estas tarifas son para particulares. Las empresas tienen otras tarifas), contratan una banda ancha de 24Mbps, pagando ciento veinte eurazos al mes (más IVA). El cliente medio (por ejemplo, yo), quiere una banda ancha digna (300kbps apenas puede llamarse digno en el año 2007), lo más barata posible. Por ejemplo, 1M a 20 euros/més. Pero esto no lo ofrecerán nunca; no porque nadie lo quiera, sino precisamente porque todo el mundo lo quiere, y por tanto dejarían de pagar más por otras opciones que no quieren, pero son “lo que hay”. Ahora mismo, Euskaltel ofrece unos lamentables 300kbps por 23 euros (más IVA). Si uno quiere más de 0.3Mbps, tiene que irse a 3Mbps y pagar 39 euros más IVA. Yo me conformaría con la mitad de velocidad (1.5Mbps) y la mitad de precio… pero no lo hay!

Más kafkiano aún es el análisis del servicio “Recarga”. Los precios siguen siendo los mismos que hace 2 años, también. Pero lo brutalmente irónico es que ahora te cobran por 1Mbps/4Mbps lo que hace 2 años te cobraban por 3Mbps/6Mbps. Han tenido el morro de bajar la velocidad del servicio, manteniendo el precio.

El que dijo que el capitalismo y el mercado libre hacen que las empresas mejoren sus productos y bajen sus precios que venga y me explique esto, porque yo no lo entiendo.

Posted in This evil world | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.