MJR's slef-reflections


Talk with People who want to Discuss

Tue, 15 Apr 2008 14:58:37 +0100

I spend too much of my time trying to talk with people who don't want to discuss, yet somehow I won't stop.

I keep hoping that things like suggesting good advice on meeting scheduling will avoid them repeating old mistakes. The most extreme life-and-death example is probably trying to help with Kewstoke Toll Road, where people still speed and someone crashed off again last night (although I don't know what caused last night's crash - could have been a simple accident).

Of course, it's better to talk with people who have asked questions and want to hear the answer. I'm currently involved in several groups like that and it makes me much happier [4HWW]. I've even made a confidentiality agreement [Network Blogging article] about one group because I really like the organiser and want to help them, but I've yet to see changes happen because of it and that's probably about all I can write here, which does rather suck.

But talking of changes that make me happy, I spotted that Bristol Wireless has now gone further than TTLLP by deciding to change people away from Microsoft Windows when they find it:-

"all Windows stuff must be gone from the premises [...] no longer help do callers favours with broken Windows machines, apart from fixing them properly and permanently by installing Debian"

at their March meeting. Well done, BW!

After a request, I finally put four photos from Social Source South West (which was hosted by BW) online, which reminded me to subscribe to watfordgap's travels. Disappointingly, on my first read, it promotes the Suppliers Directory developed by Lasa. That directory is a big problem because it creates a silly barrier to entry which hinders new social enterprises and cooperatives. At a time where most non-profit software is unsustainable and needs to change, requiring three referees is a way to obstruct change. Also, persuading three people to support their work is no substitute for supplier evaluation.

Any non-profits who want to lead their sector should approach ICT suppliers directly. The article also mentions Experts Online which is even more short-sighted about computing: "both PC and Mac" indeed! What about GNU/Linux, thin clients, and other changes which are already making a big difference to some non-profits...?

But here I go again, talking to a brick wall.

I expressed these concerns when that Directory started and it didn't do any good then, so I doubt they'll change it now, near the end of its life.

So I'm going to move on. There are lots of people emailing who want to hear from me, so it's time to concentrate on talking with people who do want to listen. If you want to discuss this with me, visit my website for the comments form (click the title or look for a "view original post" link, depending what site you're reading).

Tags: cooperatives, debian, life, photos, software, toll road, wsm.

Comments On This Entry

Submitted at 1706 on 15 Apr by Dave Briggs


I know the chaps at ExpertsOnline - will pass this on. They are good guys and I'm sure will rectify things!

Submitted at 1748 on 15 Apr by Paul Henderson

I hope you don't mind the brick wall talking back. I'm one of the Computers & Communications experts on Experts Online (and also the project manager for EOL) so hopefully I can provide some insight into what we do. (NB we are not connected with the Directory or the ICT Hub so I cannot speak for them) In an entirely unscientific recollection of recent questions, I've probably referenced and recommended open source solutions in the majority of answers that I've given (even though the vast majority of questions are people with problems with PCs). We ourselves use open source extensively (EOL itself is built on Drupal using Ubuntu, Apache, PHP, MySQL etc, and the vast majority of our sites are Wordpress based) - You have correctly picked up on the text describing the C&C area which only refers to Mac and PC and perhaps we should change that or discard it to more accurately describe our broader philosophy. However the fact is that the vast majority of our users are Microsoft bound and wouldn't know what a GNU/Linux was if it came up and bit them. I'm glad that this is changing (with the EeePC etc) and I'm all for it, and will continue to recommend open source solutions where appropriate. Apologies for the apparent short-sightedness, without access to the full questions and answers I can understand how this misapprehension might have occurred.

Submitted at 2315 on 15 Apr by MJ Ray

Thanks for the feedback and no, I wasn't calling Experts Online a brick wall necessarily... although it is pretty pleasing when I get feedback from somewhere I didn't anticipate. Thanks to Dave for passing it on - long time, no read by the way. Must update my links.

As you might expect, I don't share the view that non-profit users are necessarily Microsoft-bound - where they are, moving them towards a position where they have freedom of choice over their IT should be a priority. After all, Bristol Wireless is a non-profit if I remember correctly, and they've just gone further than my company on free software support.

Glad to hear that EOL uses a lot of free software (even if it's spelt o-p-e-n s-o-u-r-c-e) and hope you're able to harness the benefits of using Wordpress-MU if you've got lots of blogs. I've recently implemented that for another customer and it seems to work well.

Submitted at 1235 on 17 Apr by MJ Ray

Update on the toll road crash: it was our local fishmonger Justin Rolfe, according to the Weston and Worle News. I was wondering why his shop was closed yesterday. The sign says he hopes to reopen Saturday, but I'll be surprised.

I'm also really puzzled by the whole event, including the location of the crash and the way the van split open, but it sounds like I'm not the only one. Wait and see...

Comments are moderated (damn spammers) but almost anything sensible gets approved (albeit eventually). If you give a web address, I'll link it. I won't publish your email address unless you ask me to, but I'll email you a link when the comment is posted, or the reason why it's not posted.

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