Unlike previous blog posts, I’m going to start this one with two exciting tables to get you thinking. In the first table, I increased freedom and in the second table, I decreased it so that we could look at the effect, if any, on other items. Sorry, they are just image screenshots:
Someone sent me over this article written by Mark Shuttleworth, chief of Canonical – the company behind Ubuntu.
Usually, Mr. Shuttleworth writes with excitement, hope, positivity and other such forward-moving adjectives. Unlike pretty much anything else I have read written by him, this article sounded more like a dad who was forced by his disobedient kids to lay down the hard law. Just the tone alone being so different from his usual, caught my attention.
It appears that some unnamed European corporation has taken the Ubuntu code (written for free by many coders and volunteers around the world and maintained by the for-profit company Canonical at their heavy cost of time and money), done a few ‘things’ to it, and published it as ‘their own’. For full disclosure, I haven’t done any of my own research like looking at the notice of claims against them. However, what I’m picking up from the article is that the soon-to-be defendantscontributed little or nothing to the base code that made ubuntu what it is today
- invested little or no money to the ubuntu project
- decreased the quality of the user experience
- harmed the Ubuntu name
- harmed Canonical by means of all of the above
If this is true, it should not be difficult to prove monetary damages for Canonical plus I’m guessing there will be a lot of angry programmers out there who would rally beside Mr. Shuttleworth for screwing up all their volunteer work.
From a bird’s eye view it seems like a suitable analogy for this behaviour would be something like this:
Imagine a grade 5 teacher creating a cool project where the students build a gizmo that’s valuable to the world – let’s say it creates clean drinking water out of thin air. Next thing you know, all the parents and grandparents are excited about the project and start volunteering their time to help build it and make it better. Next thing you know, a company (let’s call them Company A) picks up on the project and realizes that they can help improve the project by funding certain parts plus they can make some money as well because some industries will want an industrial version of these water-makers which is out of the scope of these volunteers time/money to build or support. So Company A starts investing time and money and builds a business around it while continuing to support the kids’ gizmo proliferation around the world. Out of nowhere, Company B, which has not participated in the project at all, shows up, takes the plans that all these volunteers made and improved on over the years at the cost of their time (and at Company A’s expense, too), and starts making their own industrial water-makers. They slap their own brand on it, change one or two small things and start making money. Then problems start happening. They don’t have a volunteer base of countless thousands who can jump in to improve or fix things when they go wrong, so this makes sense. Company B then routes all the problems of their customers to Company A saying “they have support over there, I think…”
I’m guessing that there would be lots of angry kids and grandparents and most people would agree to take action to stop Company B.
The question of this soon-to-be lawsuit will probably hinge entirely on the licensing of the software. Has this European company violated any software license agreements including the free software licenses of Ubuntu? What exactly did they change? Are they guilty of changing the code or are they guilty of not supporting the code? It will be interesting to read the claim, for sure (if you like reading litigation documents)
This also got me thinking about correlation between freedom and regulation. I know that one of the main reasons why myself and others moved to Ubuntu was for the freedom. We didn’t want to be told by bullies like Apple or Microsoft how we are going to be using our hardware and who will be accessing our private information. I started thinking about un-related industries and correlations between different things when you increase or decrease freedom. I thought it would be timely to share the quick charts that I built.
(review charts above again)
As you can see from the charts, it was an interesting exercise. It seems that in most cases clear changes occur in most columns – except one. I could not determine in any instance that quality increased or decreased with the increase *or decrease* of freedom. At a glance you might quickly disagree with my conclusions, but allow me to explain them.
Drinking water: Although you may increase regulation and decrease freedom to do what you want with your drinking water, it is debatable that the government controlled waters with chlorine, fluoride, and who knows what, is better for you that this or that in a free stream of water. The long term jury is still out on this one.
Voting: To clarify I am referring simply to the freedom to vote and having a regulatory system to govern the actual elections and voting procedure. By regulating or not, does it really help improve the final product (the person you are voting for)? Point proven in recent elections in big North American country…
Guns: Perhaps you could say the quality of the actual physical gun might improve with regulation…. I don’t know enough on the topic, but it would seem to me that a nice old man building a gun in his shop could do just as well as a heavily-regulated gun factory.
Religions beliefs: the ‘negative event’ here would be something like a mass suicide with a cult. The Catholic church is heavily regulated, but is the quality of faith and the fruit of believers higher?
Marriage: I was thinking here free-love marriages versus arranged marriages. Although one might think that by choosing your spouse, instead of your parents choosing him/her might yield a higher-quality spouse/match, I believe the jury is still out on this. Look at the divorces in ‘love marriages’, for example.
So when it’s all said and done the only category where I felt freedom had a measurable impact on quality was in the realm of computer code. No one will deny that the fruity computer company typically has typically stable software which works on stable hardware. But on the other hand, very few of its users, when asked, deny that they feel stifled, controlled and possibly even spied on – if not totally ‘stuck’.
And so there seems to be a much more pronounced correlation between freedom and quality in the world of code.
And that also is why this will be a very interesting legal case to follow. Will Shuttleworth be tempted to pull in some of the freedoms of the Ubuntu code base in order to maintain the quality that Ubuntu deserves? Will a task force of lawyers be commissioned to seek and attack low quality Ubuntu publishers much like how a big proprietary corporation might do?
Until now Ubuntu has wowed the world with its ability to stay both free and yet maintain an incredibly high quality final product which I can boldly say is the same and better than competing proprietary systems in every category. The proof of this quality has been in the pudding with fast world-wide growth with more and more everyday users converting 100% to ubuntu and also in the realm of innovation (look it all up yourself because I don’t even know where to begin!).
On the one hand I’m completely in agreement that selfish individuals and corporations should be stopped in their tracks and made to pay for damaging others. On the other hand, I’m also keenly aware that the freedom of the Ubuntu code must remain of higher importance overall.
I find myself favouring the ‘whatever-it-takes-to-make-sure-ubuntu-comes-out-the-winner’ side but I will remain full open to all sides of this story.
Fido is not only incompetent, but they are violators of Canada’s Competition Act.
Here is the recording of the filing of my divorce with Fido.
Good thing they have the ‘this call may be recorded for coaching and development purposes’ message, eh?
Here are the bullet points of the most horrendous display of corporate incompetence in my telecom history:
- started service (this part was very good! I even complimented the customer service rep’s manager)
- failure to promise to be able to successfully unlock our phone
- was going to cancel and stick with incumbent (Mobilicity)
- Was convinced by in store rep and fido.ca corporate rep that I could get a free samsung S4 and sign up on a 24 month tab on a great ‘black friday’ deal.
- we agreed to their suggestion and signed up for their advertised black friday program
- i was told the phone would take 7-10 days to arrive
- it never came on the 10th day
- I called to ask where it is. Fido didn’t know.
- Fido said they had to ‘open a case’ to find out where the phone is. This would take up to 4 days more
- meanwhile my wife is using my old phone and was very unhappy. This is not what I promised her.
- after four days I get a call on my voice mail that ‘there is no phone ordered’. No phone ordered? Sorry? This is a joke right? No.
- So I decide to cancel and move to Virgin mobile who was going to offer the same program. However, I foolishly decided to give them one more chance.
- I called a guy named James who said that he was an experienced rep. A manager of sorts. I thought that Fido had finally got my case where it needed to go. He said he found a way to get into their system and override some kind of system that prevented me from getting the phone I agreed to. He said the phone was on the way. He said that I would get a tracking number by Friday.
- The tracking number never came.
- They told me to wait until Monday for the tracking number.
- Monday the tracking number never came.
- On Monday I called and a girl told me that today I could end this all by simply going to any store of my choice and picking up the phone. She initiated a ‘process’ and provided me a reference number.
- Excited, I agreed to the plan, jumped in my car, burned a lot of gas, went to a store, waited in a line up for 30 minutes (yes, 30). The rep then told me after calling Fido that he could not release the phone to me. That it couldn’t be done through him. That it had to be done through ‘customer service’.
- I then called customer service to speak to someone about why my life was insane and painful because of Fido. I asked them to make it so that their promise was fulfilled and that the store would release the phone.
- I was told ‘there is nothing I can do. “
- I was then given two ‘options’ they called it. Option #1 was to lose my wife’s phone number. Sorry? That’s an option? FAKE LOL!!! The second option was to wait until January. Sorry? What? That was your second ‘option’??? Excuse me while I rip the eyeballs out of my head!
- Then I explained that the relationship between Wayne and Fido was over. Done. Divorce was filed.
- I walked 30 steps towards Target (no I didn’t even know they sold mobiles but a lotto booth guy told me), walked in, asked if he had a plan on good network that would match or beat this Black Friday Hell Deal from Fido, and he said yes. I signed up under Virgin. Not only did I walk away with the phone but he was also super helpful and gave me some benefits. And the plan turned out to have a few extra minutes of talk time and a few extra MB of data.
- I then sped home to record this phone call with Jessica, while I filed my divorce with Fido.
I am now planning to take them to task on the Competition Act in Part VII.1 74.01 1a) for ‘making a representation to the public that is false and misleading in a material respect’. They falsely advertised that I would get a phone with a plan and the phone was denied me. This is wrong. I will fight.
Over the last few years it has been interesting to learn just how little we all know about law, and more specifically, freedom of speech. 2013 and 2014, if I could summarize, would be for me ‘The Legal Years’. My circumstances forced me to get out of the boat, shun my fear of law and lawyers and start to learn some of this stuff for myself.
One of the most interesting topics is the fear of being sued for slander versus the boldness to say what you feel living in a free country. Just so we are all on the same page, here is a scenario to ponder:
Corporation X is doing business in a way that is borderline criminal (except you don’t know what constitutes the word ‘criminal’ since you aren’t a lawyer…you just know it’s ‘very wrong’). They use contracts and expensive lawyers to oppress and dominate innocent and sorely unprepared victims. You are just one of many victims under their regime. Finally, they go too far. Inside of you the ‘enough is enough’ voice cries out for justice followed by the ‘it’s time to expose this dung’ shout. You look up the local media and get ready to dial. You call up your friends and family to let them know you will be the one to save the victims and shut down the killing machine. Then, your friend says to you “Won’t they sue you for going to the media?” Your heart sinks. You don’t know. You don’t have the answers. You’ve heard stories of ‘libel’ and ‘slander’ and you know they have a much bigger bank account than you do to fund their cold, cruel lawyers’ single malt Scotch addiction.
In short, there is no simple answer but I’d like to present the following questions to ask yourself which may generate answers that may influence your direction:
- Do you have anything left to lose financially?
- Is this an issue of finances or principles? For example, if these people offered you a nice payout, would you sign an agreement to close your mouth about everything and not sue them in the future or do your principles supersede this?
- Is this an issue rooted in the desire for personal vengeance or or the desire to expose wickedness to protect others?
- Do you plan to sue these people?
Of course you should work with your lawyer to decide the answers to the above questions and the appropriate action. Your lawyer will likely not want you opening your yap at all but here are some guidelines I have learned over the years and would like to summarize for you:
- Stick to the truth – the cold hard facts.
- Don’t blow things out of proportion.
- Only talk about things you know about from first hand experience, not what third parties have told you or heresay
- If asked questions tell the truth but don’t volunteer information unnecessarily – don’t go out of your way to cause trouble for the other party and make it look like you are trying to hurt them
- Everything you say can be used against you in court of law (sounds like that line the police say in American movies when they are getting arrested). So be careful, especially with the press.
There are two potential dangers:
- You can be sued for slander if you say untrue things that are published and that hurt the company/individual’s reputation.
- Anything you say can be used against you in a lawsuit.
Lastly, court documents such as the notice of civil claim are public documents. There is no problem with repeating what is said in them, just keep in mind that the notice of civil claim contains allegations, not proven facts.
Last words of advice, be careful but don’t be afraid to tell the truth and to tell your story of injustice.