why do you contribute to other’s repositories?

I’m interested to hear from other open-source coders out there. I’d like to know some of your motivations for contributing to another person’s or another team’s open-source repository. Call it a social studies experiment, if you will.

1st-Person Open-source

Here, I’m attempting to answer the question for everyone: “Why do you work on your own project in a public way and sharing your source code, knowing full-well that someone may take your code or fork your project and become rich and famous as a result?”

  1. I believe that my project has some worth for others and sharing it could make the world a better place to live in
  2. Other people might help me with my project
  3. A well-rounded github set of repositories looks good on my résumé
  4. I’m not expecting to make money from doing this
  5. Since I don’t live in America, there aren’t as many opportunities so this is my way of getting some attention from potential companies there

Let me know if I’ve missed any motivations here.

2nd/3rd-Person Open-source

This one’s a little trickier for me since I’ve been a life-time coder. In the not-so-distant past I was well-paid for working on software projects and have watched the coding salaries and the availability of programming gigs all erode.

The next question then for everyone: “Why do you work on someone else’s project in a public way, fixing their bugs and adding features, knowing full-well that some else may become rich and famous as a result?”

Case study – Github: Bloomberg reports that they recently brought in another $100M in venture capital based upon the Enterprise-level private repository revenue they’re currently earning. They’re currently valued at US$2B.

  1. I really like the other project’s code (let’s say, the Atom editor), believe in it and want it to be more awesome than it already is; since I use it myself, I’m getting something from the collaboration
  2. I want to work on a big project but I can’t otherwise get a job in a software development company so this is the next best thing; I’m getting the experience working in a software development team
  3. “Many hands make light work”; it feels good to help others; karma; “what comes around, goes around”…
  4. As a new programmer, I don’t have enough experience to start my own project yet
  5. Since I don’t live in America, there aren’t as many opportunities so this is my way of getting some attention from potential companies there; I might get hired by doing this

If I’ve missed any of your own motivations for coding on other people’s/team’s open-source projects, please add a comment here.

Some Thoughts on the Open-source Subject

What’s strange is when you have an entire team of people spread all over the planet, they’re working together on a project started by one guy (let’s say), time goes by, the project goes viral and then suddenly one day that “one guy” gets $250M in venture capital (like in the case of github). It’s valued at US$2B at the moment, btw. That’s about the same value as the New York Times.

I wonder if the investment companies realize that for the average open-source “company” this means that 1) they’re not necessarily incorporated, 2) they probably don’t have an office nor even a business checking account, 3) and anyone can fork the collection of code and start their own Atom-knockoff project if they wanted to.

And what happens to all the people whose free labor went into making github who they are today? Do they get a share of the money? No, they don’t. Do they get a job? Possibly, I suppose it all depends upon that original guy. But at this point, the power has greatly shifted from what it was before (more of a democratic society) to what it is now (more of a capitalistic corporation).

The siren call of open-source is a world which is free from capitalism. But what seems to happen is that these big projects are becoming exactly that, the thing these coders hated in the first place (or so it would seem). Open-source is supposed to be a culture. So why is it turning into nothing more than a first step to becoming a (funded) software development corporation in the end?

the cost of truth

The Internet is chock full o’ news on any given day and most of that is stark-raving free, which we’re used to of course. Contrast this if you will with Reality News Media and their promise of “dissemination of truth” as juxtoposed with their $20 subscription price to read it.

dis·sem·i·na·tion
noun
  1. the act of spreading something, especially information, widely; circulation.

Um, really…?

If you really wanted to spread the truth then charging for it isn’t in your best interest. If you do so, you’d only be spreading that truth to those who don’t value their money, in other words, the rich.

truth

the story of the us$100m button

Once upon a time…

…in an enchanted forest of Interweb there lived a kindly old oracle by the name of Google. Most days would find him smoking a long pipe and—seated at the end of a very long line—dispensing answers to the person at the head of said line. See, everyone came to Google when they were looking for something they couldn’t find.

One might inquire of Google, “where can a man go to find a good pub around here?” and he’d then magic up a scroll instantly. On the scroll would be a carefully-constructed list of pubs and over in the marginalia would be a bunch of advertisements for pixie dust, faerie potions, &c. As it happened, he paid for his various sundries and such out of the monies which he received from the witches who paid for these advertisements.

Sometimes, though, Google’s hand would cramp up a bit after a long bout of magical writing like that especially on summer days when the sun grew hot and rather than handing the person a scroll he’d just get a twinkle in his eye and ask, “are ye feeling lucky?” and if the person nodded, he’d then just tap his wand on their shoulder and they’d instantly be transported to the top place which would have been on the scroll, if only he’d penned it up as before.

This carried on for some time as things tend to do. But then one day the witches hired a man whose job it was to count all the beans in the King’s silos. They wanted the man to use his advanced forms of math to cypher up the sum total of lost monies that Google was incurring by this practice of not scribing down those advertisements.

So the Royal COB (Counter-of-Beans) then set about to find out how often Google was taking this shortcut (“one soul a’ hundred”) and further, the total loss in pixie dust monies (“I fully a’sure ye it’s nigh less than a hundred-thousand-thousand of the paper scrip they call dollars a month’s sail west o’ here”). Well, the witches were fit to be tied, I’ll tell ye.

“Ye can’ot be doin’ tha’ anymore, Google”, they said. “Ye’re costin’ us out of hovel n home, ye are!”

And so,

…that’s the story of why Google can’ot just send ye on yer way anymore without the fairie dust adverts. The Royal COB and the witches simply won’t let him.

~~~ The End ~~~

a year without air

A little over a year ago I was having frequent Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) light—related alerts on my Kia’s dashboard. Given the rather stupid government-mandated TPMS system I found myself having to replace at least one of the valve stems.  Instead, I opted for a new set of four tires, four new TPMS valve sensors and the vendor’s upgrade to fill each tire with nitrogen rather than the expected air most tires use.

Nitrogen isn’t that exotic of an element. In fact, 78% of air already is composed of it. The remainder of air is oxygen, water vapor, carbon dioxide and smaller concentrations of other gases. Probably the most compelling reason to fill a car tire with Nitrogen alone is that it’s a large molecule and is much less likely to escape through the rubber. Without the water vapor, the tire’s pressure remains constant over a wide range of temperatures. In fact, that’s the topic of this post:  I just drove an entire year all over the southwest U.S. and didn’t need to adjust my tire pressure, not even once.

I drove in weather over the past twelve months which ranged from freezing to above 100° through numerous deserts during the summer. And each tire remained within a pound of the recommended tire pressure all this time.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s website:

“You can improve your gas mileage by 0.6% on average—up to 3% in some cases—by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by about 0.2% for every 1 psi drop in the average pressure of all tires.”

If an average driver goes 12,000 miles per year and assuming $3/gallon for gasoline and my own 26 MPG average, under-inflated tires for that year equates to $88.38 (quite a bit more than what the upgrade cost for the Nitrogen-filled tires).

the economics of junk food

In today’s post I ask the rhetorical question, “How many full or even partial chips are actually inside an average bag of Ruffles® Oven-Baked Cheddar & Sour Cream FLAVORED chips?”

ruffles-oven-baked-cheddar-sour-cream

Apparently—if I only count chips that are larger than a quarter—the answer is 12.  Seriously? Granted, there is a tablespoon amount of smithereens at the bottom of the bag but it’s not enough to keep a family of San Diego cockroaches alive.

Fortunately, the nutritional information indicates that a serving size is indeed an entire bag so I’m glad I didn’t have to share my dozen half-chips with, say, another starving programmer who didn’t bring his lunch either.

At $0.90 per bag that’s 7-1/2 cents per chip. Or in financial-nutritional terms that’s 144 calories per dollar.  My can of Sprite® likewise weighs in at 140 calories per dollar.

Compare that to paying $1 for a McDouble at 390 calories per dollar and you’ll realize how I must feel right now. Google tells me that the New York Post once included a column indicating that the McDouble is the “cheapest, most nutritious and bountiful food that has ever existed in human history”.

I think I would suggest instead that bread itself has always held that spot in human history since—roughly calculating here—six cups of flour is about $2.40, the yeast packet is another $0.80 so bread weighs in at about 592 calories per dollar. Wow, I think I’m onto something. This page indicates that flour tops the list and white bread is then second on that list at 3,333 calories per dollar. Obviously, bakeries can bring economies of scale to my own numbers.

A University of Washington survey found that “junk food costs as little as $1.76 per 1,000 calories (568 calories per dollar) whereas fresh veggies and the like cost more than ten times as much (presumably 57 calories per dollar)”.

Too bad vending machines don’t include real food in them. Given options, I think some of us might just do the right thing and select something more… filling. I guess I should bake some bread this evening.