Monday, September 24, 2012

Why Closed Source Software is EVIL!!!

OK, when I was a kid, there was a software application called Appleworks that you could buy for your Mac. It was an office application, so it did word processing and spreadsheets. It saved to its own proprietary format of .cwk

At some point along the way, Apple stopped making Appleworks. Most people saw that coming and converted all their old .cwk documents to something more generic like .doc or even MORE generic (and more open) like .txt or whatever, before getting rid of their old computers and buying a new one on which Appleworks wouldn't run even if only to open their old .cwk documents.

 So, what would happen if you were a kid and didn't know any better, and didn't think to change your documents from .cwk to something else? or if you were that kid's parents and weren't really very tech savvy, so you didn't know to convert the documents before Apple killed off the program that created them?

Well, it turns out that you're basically screwed.

Because the .cwk format was closed source, so no application knows how to open them.

You'd think a company would at least have the common decency to say "well, at one point in our history, we created the .cwk format, so our new products, at least, will still support opening .cwk documents" but no, that's not how many companies work.

You might also wish (though you'd be foolish to expect it) that a company might go so far as to say "since we created the .cwk format, we should open up at least the information required to READ .cwk files, so other applications could open those files. ESPECIALLY since we're not even supporting .cwk ourselves any more..."

But again, that's not how many companies work.

In other words, a lot of files out there are now digital paper weights that can not be opened by any modern computer. Did you write the great American novel as a .cwk file? too bad, it's gone. Are important family or financial records in .cwk format? too bad, those are gone too. Are files of pure sentimental value in .cwk files? too bad; your memories are worthless.

Closed source software is truly evil. It doesn't respect you, or your data, or your memories, or art, or self-expression. Oh, maybe it does right now...but just wait. It will screw you over in the end.

That's a depressing way to end this post, so, let's hear about...

The Alternatives

 Open source software wants you to be able to get to your data FOREVER. This means that its file formats are OPEN so anyone who wants to open them CAN. That doesn't mean Apple or Microsoft will bother letting you do it, but other open source applications will.

The data formats are also based on well-known standards, so even if (and that's a big if, so far; Free Software has been around since about 1983 or so, and there's yet to be  a format that's been left behind) - but if a format does go out of fashion and everyone stops supporting it (again, a really unlikely scenario), then someone could still write a program JUST to convert that data to something else. It's basic file parsing; it's done all the time when migrating from one database to another or from one email application to another. Not a big deal - as long as you can look inside the data. And with open source formats, you always can.

So, really, future-proof your digital life. Go open source.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tomb Raider

I just picked up the Tomb Raider trilogy for PS3 because it's been years since i tried Tomb Raider. I always liked it, and I love the movies. So call me a latent Tomb Raider fan.

With a new Tomb Raider game coming out next year, I'm actually really excited to get back into the series, and also a little annoyed at the way controversy follows Lara Croft around.

Originally, I think the controversy was basically that her breasts were too big. Why that's a problem I do not know. Pop culture is very extreme about anatomy, they both love and hate the fact that we're all human with different kinds of bodies. So I'm sorry, Feminists and Religious-Right activists, that women have breasts and that men like them, but not really...actually I'm not sorry at all. It's a fact of life and I see nothing wrong with it.

And now the problem seems to be that Lara Croft is getting beat up in a game. Well, I have news for the critics. In video games, people get beat up. And if the character you're playing in the game is a woman, then she's going to get beat up. It's not "violence against women", it's a video game.

I'm lashing out a little over Tomb Raider, but modern feminism basically disgusts me. Feminism probably meant something once, but at this point I don't even think Feminists know what they want. They want women to be able to be women, but also to achieve the same stupid shit men do in the world. Personally if I'm going to join up with a feminist revolution, it's not going to be to overthrow men and then do exactly what they are doing only with women in power. I don't know if it's because of the testosterone or not, but the world as it is is pretty f***ed up, so emulating when the big strong men do is just useless. That's not feminism, that's wanting to pretend like you're a man except when inconvenient.

OK, back to Tomb Raider.

So Tomb Raider should be the modern feminist's dream game. Strong female lead who is exactly the same as any male lead in any other game, hugely popular, attractive, and kicks ass. And we have people complaining about this?

Tomb Raider is a great series, with a great lead character who has been consistently great in each game release, both movies, and it looks like she'll be better than ever in the new game. So quit it with the controversy. Lara Croft is a modern woman and I'd sooner follow her to a female utopian society than any of the real life feminists making noise out there in the real world.