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FW: Re: speeding up Octave development (fwd)

From: Ted Harding
Subject: FW: Re: speeding up Octave development (fwd)
Date: Sat, 06 Mar 1999 22:06:44 -0000 (GMT)

(Wee OOPS here: I fumbled my own advice about replyng to list and managed
 to send it to John Eaton & John Logsdon only. To the list, this time!)

On 06-Mar-99 John Logsdon wrote:
> There are a number of ways forward but I am posting this to you
> personally and copying to Ted (who lives up the road anyway).


I'm following up on John Logsdon's posting. He and I have been muttering
about these things to each other for a while, and we share a deeply held
view that it would be seemly for octave users to contribute modestly
towards keeping it, and its creator, in business. However, John (L) is
more astute than I am about how this sort of thing should be one.

I think John L's (and others') suggestion, of a VISA account which one
could simply transfer money to is essential. This would enable volunteer
contributions from whoever felt like it.

In the case of corporate contributions, I dare say the "invoice" device
is required.

> I suggest adding a signature file to the octave-help list which
> contains a URL for the prsent Octave web and another page to do with
> financial contributions.

This cannot hurt. It could also help people who are looking for the
precise address of the ftp site and the locations of contributed
"toolboxes" etc.

> Does your ftp/web server have a list of those people who have
> downloaded Octave directly?  If not, require the email address to
> enter the download page so that people have to sign up.  A mail shot
> to advertise the help list would have the indirect effect of expanding
> the octave-help list but also (because you will have included the
> signature file) of raising the financial issue.

I'm uncomfortable about anything that gives even a vague impression that
"registration", or making a financial contribution, is required before
users can access an octave "service". This should remain as open as it
ever was, and continue to be clearly seen to be so.

Let me state one thing clearly: As does John Logsdon, I value the use I
make of octave so highly, and I am so grateful for its existence, that I
would very willingly make a modest contribution to its upkeep provided a
proper facilitating mechanism was in place which would enable me to do
this straightforwardly from the UK. I don't need any inducement, still
less a requirement, to feel like this. We believe there must be many
octave users who also feel the same way and would enthusiastically
volunteer their support.

> Identify from those users of whom you are aware the people who may be 
> able to take charge of the areas and *invite* them directly so to do. 

I think it is time for some of us to stand up and let ourselves be
counted. I, as a working statistician, am willing to go onto a list
of people willing to work in this area for octave, though I'm much
more an "m-file" person than a C++ octave-coder. John Logsdon is another
statistician; Kurt Hornik has contributed famously in the past; there are
undoubtedly others which I could identify by going back through archives
etc; but it's up to the individuals, however high their profile has been,
to indicate their own willingness -- who knows what their other
commitments are? Can I appeal to people who know they can be useful to
make themselves known?

> Octave will only develop if users realise that it is not your
> responsibility to provide fixes to every problem and answer every silly 
> enquiry (and some of them are really a case of RTFM) on the help list. 
> Please leave it to others.

Seconded. Again, an appeal to people who know they can help in this way
to become more active in responding to the list.

> This is rather like the Linux organisation where Torvalds himself is 
> keeper but there are many others working on it and Linus freely admits 
> to not understanding everyting under the bonnet (hood in the US). R is 
> more committee-like but both of these work and the originators of R
> only rarely respond to the r-help list.  Neither of them lose the
> benefits of the bazaar but both have some structure, which makes them
> perhaps more like a department store, certainly not a cathedral. 

Or, in the case of m-files and toolboxes, perhaps a cathedral with
gargoyles (the mediaeval stone-masons left their individual mark in the
shape of personalised gargoyles).

May I also add my voice to John Logsdon's to say how much I admire and
respect the work that has gone into developing octave to what it is.

I've been using it since pre-1.0, sometime in 1993. It was good even
then, and it's excellent now. I would like to express deep thanks and
respect to John Eaton for all he has done.

It is good that this discussion has broken out. We have the opportunity
to create a self-conscious octave community. I know we have all in the
past felt, individually, that we belonged to a happy ensemble of octave
users, but only coincidentally were we in touch with each other, and
we have perhaps been rather passive in this role.

Maybe the hint of crisis in the message from John Eaton which started
this discussion off is also the hint that this passive situation has gone
on for a little too long, and we should now set about assembling together
to collaborate in constructive work.

Best wishes to all,

E-Mail: (Ted Harding) <address@hidden>
Date: 06-Mar-99                                       Time: 22:06:44
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