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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Life’s simple pleasures

Some of the best things in life are free. In addition to my music and my book, don’t forget my database. The best way to learn http://www.thetraverser.com/ might be to just start clicking on buttons. You can’t do any damage. You can even click your browser’s "Back" button, though you’ll have better results clicking the "<=" button instead. Some features were lost when the web host moved the site to a new server, but "Browse by Subject" still works. So does the Help system.

Computers were supposed to make our lives easier, but instead of a shorter work week we ended up with fewer jobs and more money in the hands of those who could afford to pay the programmers (aka consultants, contractors, software developers, whatever). Team leaders, paid by the hour, soon learned how to "milk" projects by making the technical aspects sufficiently complicated to confuse the confusers (capitalists). Account managers who had "people skills" but who were technically incompetent would then over-promise and under-deliver to win bids and get business. Semi-competent system designers would then throw application specifications "over the wall" to the hapless honest technoids. These programmers would be trapped in seemingly endless projects, public sector ones taking even longer than those for private sector clients. Tools like The Traverser were shelved, or ruled out as too efficient. Both pressured and mistrusted at times, it was impossible for some programmers to retain a positive, idealistic attitude.

In the technical world, my hero was Bill Atkinson, the author of MacPaint and HyperCard, who insisted that his products be provided free with new Apple computers. Later I became a fan of open source software and free software. The Traverser is available free at Sourceforge. Corporate profiteering pits people against each other, when really we accomplish so much more when we can share information. We need to devise social systems where people are encouraged to share and share alike, and are rewarded fairly for doing so.

I guess that’s all I have for now. If you have read this far, bless you, and praise be to Athena.

4 Comments:

At Mon Feb 25, 12:17:00 AM CST, Blogger Renegade Eye said...

See this.

 
At Mon Feb 25, 08:37:00 PM CST, Blogger Tom Cleland said...

Thanks Renegade. While Greens don't go quite as far as Marxists, we definitely want to curb corporate excesses, like the obscene pay of over a billion dollars to William McGuire of UnitedHealth Group. Another reason for Single Payer Health Care which Obama opposes. Like with computers, HMO’s complicate things to wrestle money away from people. Socialism works just fine for police and fire, and we can do it for health care, too.

 
At Sat Mar 08, 08:31:00 PM CST, Blogger Ted Wong said...

So what is Traverser used for?

 
At Sat Mar 08, 09:58:00 PM CST, Blogger Tom Cleland said...

Storing interrelated lists of information.

 

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