An editorial reply to "Do you love your H/PC or not?" by Clinton Fitch
originally posted on ClintonFitch.com 23/01/2004

http://www.clintonfitch.com/

 

Motion Seconded

So, was I really that surprised when Clint told me hew was writing an Editorial piece. Yes, actually I was. When he told me what about however, then things changed. Everything expressed by Clinton in his editorial I - as a community leader - agree with hole heartily.

It is a fact known by a few of the observant in the community. Things just don't happen.
For all that doesn't happen, people are all to willing to blame this person, that person or the other person for it. However ask any developer, ask and OEM or ask any of the community webmaster group and they will all tell you where the problem lies - in the community.

Yes, Microsoft hasn't and isn't performing specifically orientated software development for a new "Handheld PC" OS release. Yes the devices are limited because of their expense when weighed up to modern Palm and Pocket PC device. At the end of the day though. If you wanted a Palm or Pocket PC device, you wouldn't be using a H/PC. The fact of the matter is that you all realise the benefits offered by a Clamshell or Sub-Notebook H/PC over that of a Pocket PC or a full blown Laptop. For that, you all deserve a slap on the back.

 

The 'Linux Mentality'

The software industry, and indeed many industries are starting to suffer tremendously from the influence of the Internet. The rise of the P2P (Peer 2 Peer) networks is extremely worrying. I for one cannot and will not endorse the use of P2P networks. I flatly refuse to install such programs and as my personal friends will attest to. Anyone who comes to me looking for a fast & free ride with their laptop over my fast Internet connection will rapidly learn a painful lesson if they try and 'jack-in' with such aims.
However, on the 26th December last year, I happened to be around a friends home, who has DSL and is blasé about the use of such technologies. So I decided as an experiment to take a look to see if I typed in the names of some of the largest, and indeed some of the smallest Handheld PC software developers. What exactly would this P2P application come back with.

Suffice to say I was horrified.

Let me express a view. A personal view granted, and this is not necessarily the view of all of the HPC:Factor staff.

FREEWARE is NOT a right. You DO NOT deserve it.

A developer does not employ a salary based programmer to code an application to then give it away for free just because some users think they should have it for free. A home user working with embedded Visual Tools (eVT) in his bedroom who produces a small and highly useful utility does not owe anybody that utility.
Why should some users have the right to use this program, when the rest of us pay for it?
Why should those who pay for a program feel compelled to give it to you?

Lastly, as Clinton stated in his piece. Why should we, the review teams who provide free and comprehensive publicity for developers (who are often struggling to justify what on earth they are doing spending their time coding) then give you our licenses. We are issued with site licenses for one reason, and one reason alone. We and the developer hope that the publicity we can offer for the software application will be of mutual benefit.
It is equally as important that the team responsible for running sites such as HPC:Factor and ClintonFitch.com be familiar with applications, so they can spread the word of its existence.

In my opinion this situation exists because of a warped modern interpretation of"GNU`s Not Unix! General Public License" (GNU GPL). This isn't the fault of GPL. The idea behind Open Source licensing is to allow developers to share ideas and information and to make better and more relevant programs. However for all the good that Linux and the Linux community are doing (as well as all the other platforms and developers that subscribe to GPL), there is a plague flowing across the Internet which seems to bestow that idea that everything can be obtained with a minimum of fuss, and all completely free.
I call this the 'Linux Mentality'.

I'd like to be clear that I do not hold the principles of GPL or the developers of software under the license in any way responsible for this situation. In what I see each and every day this has simply become a consumer state of mind. There of course have always been people seeking free and pirated software, however it seems to have become somewhat more prevalent in recent times.

Over the past couple of years this idea has become rooted deeper into the Handheld PC community. When I started with Handheld PC webmastering way back in the last Millennium (Sound impressive until you do the maths) requests for Warez were few and far between. For the most part they were from CE 1.0x users who wanted to look at software from developers who no longer existed. These days, the number of requests for free software that I see in my inbox and around the place has greatly increased.
What really niggles me is the language such requests use. It truly does seem as if people think they deserve it.

 

But Chris. There's been an economic downturn and we're all broke!

I will take you on your word at that. However that doesn't explain everything. As Clinton stated. The Handheld PC community is stuck in a rut of apathy. People want things, but can't be bothered to do anything about it.

Well, as far as I'm concerned it's your loss.

But I don't want to hear you complaining because you don't have, or you didn't get or you can't do.

Take two examples.
In the middle of 2003 SoftMaker asked for some user opinions on where they should go next. This was posted across ClintonFitch.com, Handheld Addict and HPC:Factor. As well as I've no doubt a raft of other sites that exist out there.
How many of you replied to that?, spent 2 minutes letting SoftMaker know what you thought of their ideas and products?

I would bet not many.

So will SoftMaker be continuing development on the Handheld PC. The truth is, it's up in the air. So if you want to see TextMaker for the H/PC continue. Or want to see new programs on the H/PC as well as the PPC. You know what you have to do (and no, It doesn't involve waiting for me to e-mail SoftMaker and beg for a HPC2000 port).

Lets take an example a little closer to home.
The HPC:Factor site is full of requests for information. Take the HPC:Factor Generic IrDA Modem Driver.

Now I know for a fact that an awful lot of people have found this extremely useful. We've requested on the download page - as well as on the Front Page news postings we've made about the driver - that we would like to hear about your success and failures. The idea being that we can try and fix any problems and provide information about compatible phones to other users. Is that unreasonable?

Then why out of all the people that have downloaded the Generic Driver, some 800 this year and all the others previously. Why then have only Two people contacted me with success, One with failures and One person with a request for a CE4 port.
I'm very grateful to the people that have contacted me, however either the private joke between Clinton and Myself that I have some sort of E-Mail Syndrome is true, or everyone is apathetic.

 

Conclusion

Well, inevitably actions do speak louder than words. If people want NEC to continue to make the MobilePro and not go by the way of HP. If people really do value SoftMaker, Phatware, MobileCubed, Laridian and all the other excellent developers that we have. Both small and large. The community will need to vote with its feet.

Who knows. With a little positive action things could rapidly turn around. Microsoft could see the light and bring us out of the shade. Technically right now there is NOTHING stopping NEC from deploying a Clamshell based around Windows Mobile 2003. I know I've ranted and raved about this before, however I truly do believe that merging the Pocket PC and Handheld PC operating systems, not just on the OS core, but on the higher level and UI functions will really put the H/PC on an equal footing. Allowing those who need more that a walking Paperwei... er.. Pager (bias) to have that choice. Keeping Microsoft very happy. Keeping the OEM's happy and most importantly keeping us happy (For the first time since 1999).

In the mean time. If we are to survive as a community on the fringes. We need to keep an eye out for those who support, and nurture the community. In general software developers aren't unreasonable folk. They don't ask much for their products. We, the community sites, webmasters, staff and review teams don't ask anything for our services.
At the end of the day, we all want the same thing.

 

Do you love your H/PC or not? (From "Do you love your H/PC or not?" by Clinton Fitch)

1. Do I use my H/PC every day?
Absolutely. Except for the times when I've train wrecked it testing applications, patches updates, hardware and new ideas for you lot.

2. Do I “worry” if I haven’t sync’ed my data that day?
Constantly. I just know I'll have a 'great idea' at some point during any given month. Which will cause me to turn my H/PCs RAM into soup.

3. Have I named my H/PC?
She called Lucie *goes bright red*

4. Do I visit all of the top H/PC sites every day?
You can bet your life on it

Chris Tilley
Editor HPC Factor

Contact Chris by e-mail or via Windows / MSN Messenger.
Alternatively visit the Forums for a discussion thread.

With Special Thanks to Clinton Fitch for his taking the moral ground and approving the release of this article
Read "Do you love you H/PC or not" at ClintonFitch.com