Re: Sharing Models, was: Intestinal Fortitude

From: Michael Lorrey (
Date: Mon Mar 19 2001 - 07:17:57 MST

Spike Jones wrote:
> > > But all this would be a waste of effort if those who want to
> > > play this game dont have matlab. For all its disadvantages,
> > > Microsloth excel is a package that is already owned by
> > > pretty much everyone who cares about that sorta thing. spike
> >
> > [Eugene Leitl thinks] the disadvantage (that Redmond owns the source) pretty
> > much
> > nukes all the advantages. You need NumPy? Just download it.
> > It's not just propaganda. OpenSource software is better, at least for most
> > values of users on the long run.
> 'Gene is absolutely right. I was going off in the wrong direction by
> pi radians. If we want to put up software that anyone can use for
> calculating orbit mechanics, it should be in open source. Matlab
> has some truly wicked toolboxes, but for what we want to do here,
> we dont need those.

How is one to obtain Matlab for free if one is not a student or
professor? Last I knew it was a pretty hefty license fee, which I have
no intention of paying for (and wasting the time to learn) just to work
on this one project. I frankly disagree with the yapping about 'open
source'. There is a difference between true open source and practical
open source. Something that can generally be run on a majority of
people's PCs because of the ubiquity of a given sort of software is
'practical open source'. Excel spreadsheets are of this category.

Something that is only operable/editable via a complex and hard to learn
application that has a poor interface may be true open source, but for
practical purposes pose a significant barrier to entry due to its lack
of utility to most people.

This is why ANY GUI will always be more practically open source than the
freest of the free true open source command line operating systems. I
don't give a crap about the true open source status of the Excel source
code. Is Spike's spreadsheet editable by myself and everyone who cares
to participate? Yup, sure is, and MS can't own that.

That being said, I understand there are limitations (hell, I hate having
to due calculations in PI radians in Excel, you always have problems
when adding and subtracting at the point the sign changes) to Excel. If
Matlab is truly freely downloadable and easy to use, please let me know,
but I'm not really interested in learning a whole new programming
language just to run a spreadsheet.

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