all bits considered data to information to knowledge

1Oct/090

Between Scylla and Charybdis (software version)

Now it can be considered an established fact: cell phones cannot survive water immersion. Not that I went out of my way to prove it but things happen. It’s time for a new cell phone. First comes the sticker price shock – the cheapest phone that your current provider is willing to sell you would be around $300; and I am  taking about stripped down, no frills, no gimmicks phone. I could buy plasma TV for this money! Well, almost. After poking around some time, the rep comes up with a solution – you can get this phone FREE if only you sign additional two years contract. What a deal! And I did not even have to give up my firstborn son…

 

What does it have to do with software? Plenty. Consider a free open source software package. It’s free, right? The online manual (in Greek) says that it can do everything you need, and is incredibly easy to install and deploy – just install it, tweak umpteen plus configuration files  - and you’re in business! All you’d need to make sure that you have all the libraries and drivers, but that’s it, honest. Oh, and build it, too. You do not know what Maven2 is?! What’s wrong with you? RTFM, man!  Now you are looking around to hire someone who can speak the language, and can make this darn thing to work…or not.

Meanwhile, you have a business to run, so you go out and buy a packaged solution from a well established pira… I mean, vendor. First comes the sticker price shock, then - adding insult to injury, a maintenance contract. You will get all the updates, and help, and exclusive access to knowledge base where all bugs…features, that is… are discussed.  All for just 25% of the purchase price. Into perpetuity, as long as you use the software. And just to make sure that you won’t wander off, your data will be stored in a format that only vendor’s software could make sense of. But it will run 6.5% faster because of it, and we’ll give you 5% discount... But you'll need to upgrade your hardware to make best use of it…  

I believe the Ancient Greeks knew a thing or two about software...