Expotecnología Talks: I faced proprietary software

The talks at Expotecnología par II were all very appealing to students. the guys from the Microsoft Professional Community kicked off the event and they had a nice show off of their latest and greatest in the programing and now design suits for “Rapid Application Development”. Having used microsoft products before, I sat through the talk and even asked questions like “Is it compatible with the previous version?”. Nobody seemed familiar with the last 3 versions off Microsft’s proprietary development suite. Truth be told, None of the students seemed to have been using the Programing Suite that the guy was promoting and that is and indication that this particular is piece of software is not reaching students. The Speaker would have had an even better time if the students had been familiar with the products. I am impressed at the speed these speakers can say the names of all the product (and believe me they are a handful).

The Solaris talk was definitely more interesting to me. Antonio Amendoli, iForce Business Developer for Sun Microsystems de Venezuela, gave a very interesting talk on Solaris and the different benefit of running it on servers. Students were appealed by the simple fact that it was different. they got a real idea of why to run Solaris on servers and finding out that various *well known* companies in Venezuela were already in the Solaris train.

Then it was me with the MAGNIFICENT, EYE POPPING, HEART THUMPING, SUPER DUPPER, “Free Technologies” TALK. It was a delight to come and talk to these people because when I asked “Have you tried ubuntu before?” Half the audience raised hands. That shows that we are accessible most definetely. People ended up talking along side me which generated a great ambiance in the room. Students were actually asking real questions and I was happy to follow the MS guys so that I could enlighten a bit on the use of free tecnologies for development, the reasons why we should use transparent, Sustainable, Technologies we can trust. Unfortunatelly the Microsoft guys couldn’t stay. they had traffic to fight on their way back home.

The last stop was the FOSS vs Propietary Software. I can only say each side stood their grounds, Gustavo Vilchez Doctor in the software Engineering field, I (FOSS/Ubuntu advocate at heart) and a professor from the Jose Gregorio Hernandez University who was ready to bash on whatever we said .

First, one of the most *well known* figures in the FOSS community and University Professor Gustavo Vilchez started off by pointing out the roots of Free Software and the Open Source movement and mainly focusing on the endurance of the movement despite the various inconveniences on the way.

Then it was turn for the University Professor representing Propietary software. I really want to believe this guys was not speaking for all proprietary software vendors. He was taking this talk as if he was Boxing Champion, to my view wrong perspective. He had a very opinionated and proud view on software patents. He even bragged about it

The translation to what the slide in the picture reads:

“One of the universal indicators taken into account when measuring the scientific developments of a country or nation is the number of patents registered. It is therefore necessary to to take into consideration a article from the Digital Era: “Innovation is expensive to produce and easy to reproduce.

It seems fair to think that the author of works (fine art?) …. (covered by hand) … benefit according to his of her effort. all under…. (covered by hand)

Propietary Software that uses Copyright.

I think he mixed apples and oranges… one thing is Fine Art, which is oriented towards entretainment, amusement (Music, Scultures, Paintings) and another thing is Applied Arts (things such as containers, supports and shelter) to name a few. that these must be developed for the greater good of humanity. Is software not a necesity? In my country , You *need* software to get a passport (online service), You *need* software to access foreign currencies. You *need* software to vote. tell me, is it right to consider software fine art and patent it as such?

you can read about the usage of free technologies in Pia Waugh’s presidential message for Software Freedom International , the Importance of Free and Open Source Software in education in Mark Shuttleworth’s post , and a very interesting keynote talk from Jeff Waugh in Ubuntu live (video)

The professor later went on to state that Universities should embrace more propietary products as tools for generating knowledge because it simply makes life easier for students. In this University professor’s opinion, these technologies are more attached to the needs of the world.

I gave the audience a very good reason why we shouldn’t. In a Database class at my university, we were instructed to design a database using a propietary app called Power Builder by Sybase. the version installed in the Lab at the Uni was version 7. We could not take the software home to work on it we had to be subject the availability of the Lab. The trial versionswe could find on the internet were version 9. Incompatibility was the issue, we designed our databases in version 9 and once we wanted to show the teacher. the databases wouldn’t work. Problem? University needs to upgrade the Lab, but they have other priorities in budget and it is not in the inmediate plans to replace the version. the affected party… the students.

Sure, agreements with universities, proprietary software accessible to students… but What happens when students become professionals? they will not be able to generate new technology… only use what is provided? How much of these technologies can be used for any purpose? Can they take it home?, Can they really make it their own? If this had happened in Helsinki, Where would linux be? Must we not learn how to create our own Filesystems, Frameworks and OS’s just because there isn’t a need for it? Must we learn PRODUCTS at a University Level?
In Venezuela, we need to work harder to bring FREE SUSTAINABLE TECHNOLOGIES to Schools and Universities. I shall work harder on that this year… make no bones about it… first step taken http://edu.softwarelibre.org.ve and I am willing to work together supporting projects like this one in Argentina. GLEDUCAR.

“… moral y luces son nuestras primeras necesidades…”
-Simón Bolívar

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