I don’t know if it is a good or bad sign that the most satisfactory thing I’ve done in, dunno, ages, is finish reading a day early so that I can have a relaxing evening with a friend from out of town. Good sign: I actually accomplished something! Bad sign: to most of the world, reading 50 or so pages is not really counted as a major accomplishment.
I’ve participated in an irregular dinner club over the past year, and it was great, and I’ll miss it. While I generally hate structure in things like that, Ben Franklin’s regular secret dinner club, The Junto, sounds like it had an interesting structure, and it is hard to argue with the results.
Jono: totally agreed that Ubuntu’s process is generally quite transparent and an example for others. That said, the profit- what you note as ‘cheap labo[u]r’- is and must be important. Corporations get involved and stay involved because of profit. Corporations that are making money off free software are predictable and reliable (just like corporations that are locked down by licenses); corporations that are doing free software out of the goodness of their heart are not necessarily either predictable nor reliable.
Havoc: (1) make it possible to find permalinks in log.ometer.com :) (2) The stopbadware thing is… very complex. The dialogware situation is a real problem, and clearly people read dialogs only a little more than they read EULAs, but some of the other options are unpalatable as well. In particular, ‘As long as the app uninstalls completely and easily from the normal add/remove programs screen, if people think the app sucks they can always get rid of it’ just isn’t sufficient, primarily for two reasons: (1) precious few of the people most impacted by this actually know how to uninstall software, and (2) this presumes that uninstallation undoes all bad things the software has done, which often isn’t the case (for example, it doesn’t take your personal information off remote servers, and it would be impractical to require that.)