Everybody loves forums… or do they really?

I often find web-based forums difficult to participate to. Most of the times the graphic interfaces are too rich, clogged with unnecessary information, visually tirening and distracting. Usually they have too many categories to chose from the start page, threads are difficult to follow, most of the time you can’t really tell who’s answering to what. And they force to stay online to interact with others, there is no ‘offline’ support.

Method of Ubuntu Community Support
Method of Ubuntu Community Support

Compared to a local email archive from mailing lists I think that web forums are suboptimal for collaboration. That’s one of the reasons why I like Collabnet’s discussion services (as in Funambol Forge), that integrate a mailing list with a simple web forum UI: you can have the best of the worlds.

Reading Canonical’s Survey Results I was surprised to notice that their community prefers to use web-based forums to mailing list for community support. Is that because Google indexes forum archives better than mailing list archives? The’  Ubunty forums entry page doesn’t look too inviting, so I imagine that the most common entry point is a search. From there on the user is engaged and starts posting. My feeling is that web forums have a lower barrier to entry and mailing lists have a higher retention rate of contributors. Does anybody have pointer to scientific studies about this topic?

New MacBooks are Defective by Design

The new MacBook not only have reflective screens and miss a FireWire prot, but they also hide a stupid DRM locks in the video signal called HDCP. CrunchGear reports:

What is HDCP? It’s essentially a digital standard that tells your OS what you can display content on. If you connect your device to a project, as one high school teacher discovered while trying to play an iTunes video, the HDCP system will stop video from streaming to that device. If you connect it to an HDCP-compliant monitor then you’re in luck.

This means that even if you buy legitimate content but your TV is not HDMI capable you won’t be able to play the movie on it. The solution? I wish I could say simply ‘buy a GNU system’ that is cool and well designed, but I still haven’t found something I would tell my friends to put in their living rooms (I have my own custom made set-top-box, but it’s ugly).’  I cannot see why Dell or HP don’t bet on VLC+Elisa, which are 100times better than iTunes+FrontRow or the MS Media crap. So for now I’ll repeat what Crunchgear said:

Do a quick search on ThePirateBay. I’m sure you’ll find it in non-HDCP encrypted format.

Support Defective By Design campaign, donate to FSF

CrunchGear » Archive » MacBooks enter a golden new age of anti-piracy cruft: HDCP for all.

Free Software Foundation year end fundraising campaign

I had the feeling that 2008 was an important year for FSF. We’ve seen new campaigns take off, like End Software Patents and Support Open Document Format; the established campaigns Defective By Design, Play OGG, Expert Witness Fund have received good responses (if Google page rank is an indicator).’  We’ve seen also the first FSF Associate Members Meetings outside of Boston and I was lucky enough to participate to the first on in Portland this summer. And the best thing of it all was the FREE BEER! Look at the pictures, the free beer is visible there 🙂

This year marks a change, it shows clearly that’  FSF is reaching out to the wider community. The new structure is very community oriented and outreaching.’  FSF hired two campaign managers (Joshua Gay and Matt Lee), a membership coordinator (Deborah Nicholson). The organization has evolved into a campaign oriented organization and the results are visible. Charity Navigator has published its annual review of FSF fiscal reports assigning 3 stars (Exceeds or meets industry standards and performs as well as or better than most charities in its Cause.)’  Revenues increased 9.5% since last year (previous growth was 5.25%) and program expenses raised accordingly. Administrative expenses remained stable, showing that donations go’  to the operations, to support the FSF goals.

I will renew my membership this year and I think you should do that too. Click the image below, do it now!

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