Letters to the Editor

Readers sound off.
Portable MP3 Players

I read with interest the article in the June issue (#63), “MP3 Linux Players” by Craig Knudsen. It seemed to imply the Empeg product was the only solution for MP3 players in cars. I would like to suggest braver readers take a look at http://www.mp3car.com/. The site has great examples and links on how to build one yourself. Thanks.

—Alistair Hedge ahedge@skylink.net

Neural Networks

Great article! Thanks for printing “Stuttgart Neural Network Simulator” by Ed Petron, July 1999. I have been working with neural networks for two years now in my high school science fair projects. This article provided a good introduction that I would have loved to have had handy when I first started working with neural networks. I really enjoy seeing Linux being used not only as an alternative OS, but as an OS with scientific and educational purposes.

—Michael Katz-Hymanm katzhym@nhgs.tec.va.us

Free Beer

The first thing I did after reading the Guest Editorial entitled “The Point Really is Free Beer” was to check the cover date on the magazine to see if it was an April Fool's joke—sadly, the issue date was July 1999.

People like Eric Hughes lead the Open Source movement in the same way that the front bumper on my truck leads me down the highway: it's along for the ride, but it really has nothing to do with who's driving the machine or how we get where we are going.

He states that “To be generous, maybe one-quarter of the total value of software comes from the product.” To see what a lie that statement is—it is only necessary to imagine his proposed institution without the software. What value does it have? The answer is zero. All of the well-dressed staff, administrators and planners are of no value whatsoever without the people who produce the product.

The converse is not true; programmers like Linus and the other open-source developers have great value to all of humanity without the participation of institutionalized parasites in the process.

Mr. Hughes points out that most of the work so far has gone into building software tools. Well, duh—first you build tools—then you use those tools to build applications. You can't do it any other way.

Mr. Hughes has the audacity to accuse those of us who write open-source code of having selfish ends. Wow! What about Mr. Hughes' goals? Assume that two-thirds of the 25 million dollar grant he wants to get the ball rolling would go to “the talent”. That leaves about 8.3 million. Building construction and furnishing will eat up most of that: can't look chintsy—have to look solid to impress the idiots.

That will leave about one million for staff salaries. Since I assume Mr. Hughes will be willing to lead us, I guess his take will be about five hundred thousand a year, with the rest to be split up among the other drones at the institution. Bah.

Instead of giving grants to useless institutions or to groups of programmers, why not give the whole thing to the individuals who do the work? I can promise you my needs are awfully small compared to some institutionalized thief. Fifteen hundred a month would keep me writing open source pretty much full-time. It is about time the worker bees realize they are the ones with the sting—not the drones.

One hundred per cent of the value of software comes from the product. Period—end of discussion.

—Bob Canup rcanup@hal-pc.org

Linux Resources

I was chatting with someone and mentioned that Linux Journal was just full of advertisers with affordable Alpha systems, and sent him to you. He couldn't find a list of your advertisers. Sounds like a business opportunity to me. List hardware vendors and software vendors. Let me search for vendors by name and by product. Then I could choose to buy from your advertisers, or I could find one that sells what I am about to buy and patronize them.

Thanks for doing everything else right. The guy I was talking to will probably be subscribing now. I gave him four links to Alpha vendors on the Web right out of the handiest issue. (Then I quoted the rates, and he replied, “cheap”.)

—Duane Smecker telmer@ptw.com

A list of advertisers in each issue can be found on the web site Table of Contents page for each. This list includes links to the advertisers' web sites —Editor