Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rockin' the Earthquake -- The Lockdown at OEM Level -- And Za in NZ Reason #4

If the previous reasons weren't bizarre enough for you, here's one that may throw you for a loop: One of the reasons we chose NZ as the next country for ZaReason is because of NZ's persistent earthquakes.

Background: When I was a little girl, Mount St. Helens in Washington state, US erupted. One of the boys in my class, a sweet red-headed kid with an ear-to-ear grin, was killed when his dad took him and his brother hunting the weekend the volcano blew. (photo: public domain, US Geological Survey)

See, for weeks the news had been warning that "an earthquake is imminent". The roads to St. Helens all had barriers in place to keep people from going up the mountain. The mountain had been evacuated but after a few too many warnings, people stopped believing it would blow. People simply went around the barriers. None of the forest rangers were stupid enough to go up the mountain to save people who were earning Darwin Awards (awards given to people who remove themselves from the gene pool in unusual ways).

The day St. Helens blew I stood on the back porch of my home watching the big fluffy plume, dancing in the warm light gray flakes as they fell. I didn't understand what was happening, but revelled in Mother Nature's power.

My school friend wasn't in school on Monday. The teacher announced, "Andy's dead..." then fell into a listless depression.

My brother told me that Andy's body had been burned alive in the volcano's heat, "Some of the ashes you've been stepping in are probably bits of his body." Imagine my little-girl-freak-out when I imagined that the warm light gray snow I had danced in was burned up parts of my friend's body.

I learned something from that volcano.

Don't get lazy with predictions.

People have been predicting the potential loss of end user rights and endangered FLOSS freedoms for ages, predicting the lockdown of computers at an OEM level and guess what? We all have been lazy, wiping computers and installing a favorite distro -- going around the barriers -- instead of finding a way to build hardware specifically for GNU/Linux.

It's a tough situation, I know.


This post has been sitting in my Drafts, complete but not Published for months. It was only when Cory Doctorow used the words, "This is a tremor before an earthquake..."


that I realized that it's worth the risk of offending people who prefer their wiped-and-loaded machines to GNU/Linux-specific machines. Though I disagree with Doctorow on several points, we do agree on the earthquake bit. I'm finally ok with doing a very unladylike thing, shouting, "It's 'sploding!" I am asking people to take a closer look at their computers, even the small details such as that Start key / Home key. Take a closer look at the machine that runs the code you helped write.

"It's 'sploading" means "Please recognize how important it is that we build and support GNU/Linux-specific hardware, the physical, tangible safehouse for FLOSS."

I've been saying it quietly for years: Sooner or later (when the volcano blows) people may recognize that we needed to build GNU/Linux hardware support much sooner. Maybe we will find out we needed to be able to build our own components, our own motherboards even. It's fully possible to do so, but it needs muscle. And time.

This post is me putting up a single little barrier on the mountain, a simple warning that it might not be a good idea to go for the thrill of wiping & loading, er, hunting this upcoming weekend, er, next few years.

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