Defective in the Head

As someone said on IRC this morning: “the FSF appear to have come up with the perfect plan for how to look like a bunch of annoying, smart-arse tossers“. Has the Free Software Foundation gone nuts?

Update 13:30: I don’t seem to be alone on this: popey, mgdm, ZDNet, Slashdot.

I’ve been saying for a while that the more zealous methods used by proponents of Free software have been somewhat over-the-top, and do more to detract from the FOSS public image than to build upon it in a constructive way. Now they’ve taken a sip from the poisoned Kool-Aid. The FSF, via it’s Defective by Design campaign, is advocating that people block-book sessions at an Apple Store‘s Genius Bar, a sort of drop-in and bookable repair and support centre. “Having lots of slots booked will get Apple’s attention and ensure that the Geniuses have done their homework”, says the ‘Apple Challenge’ page, posted by FSF employee Matt Lee. The rationale apparently is that Apple is now the enemy, since Vista is doing more damage to itself than anyone else can from outside Microsoft, and the first target are the Apple Store’s Genius Bars.

Update 13:35: Just noticed this on IRC …
[13:33]<mgdm> popey: you mean mattl actually uses a Mac?
[13:33] <popey> he does
[13:33] <mgdm> IRONY OVERLOAD *head asplodes*

My employer purchased both AppleCare and ProCare for my MBP, which has come in extremely handy when the ‘O’ key snapped off (keyboard replaced overnight), my battery failed to hold a charge (replaced immediately upon attending pre-booked Genius Bar session) and my motherboard GPU failed (motherboard replaced in 90 minutes). Now imagine any of the following scenarios: you’re unsure how to use your newly purchased Macbook; you’re trying to connect a camera to your Mac to transfer photos to iPhoto and print them to send to relatives in a frame; your machine has failed in some way and urgently needs repaired, as you use it for your business. You try to book a session at the Genius Bar to resolve any of these issues, and … it’s fully booked. For days. Wow, they must be busy.

Well, no, it’s actually a bunch of uber-asshole Free software zealots thinking they’re “special”, attempting to monopolise a consumer resource in an attempt to “educate” or “catch out” Apple Store employees, some of whom may have used Macs for years, others may have had a crash course in Apple products so that they know as much as they can about the stuff they sell, but little else. Why harass these people? It’s like having a constant stream of people going up to the counter at McDonald’s and espousing the benefits of a low-carb, high-fibre diet to the person who can do the least about it. Genius Bar employees may know all about FOSS, but critically it’s not their job to promote it. It’s not a “product” to be “sold”, but a philosophy to be shared.

A plea to the FSF: stop harassing Apple staff, and stop alienating the very people you’re trying to “save”. There are better, more ethical, more agreeable methods to promote FOSS. What you’re doing is none of those things. In the meantime, you’ve virtually guaranteed I will never promote, condone, contribute or donate to any FSF body, project or campaign. I’ve had a “Warning, DRM” defectivebydesign.org sticker on my Macbook Pro for a while now, mainly for comedic value. It’s gone now. I no longer want to be seen to be promoting these idiots in any way. As much as I love the thought of Free and Open Source Software being used everywhere and anywhere, this is just not the way to be going about it.

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