Seems that the theme of the week is dropping support for "minority" software that is still widely used.
First Microsoft announces the end of mainstream support for VB6, then
Mozilla announces that it will drop support for the venerable
"Seamonkey" suite, then Debian drops support for a bunch of uncommon
Each of these, predictably, has led to flamewars and lots of noise.
I'm not negatively affected by any of these decisions: I saw the
writing on the wall for Seamonkey more than a year ago and switched to
Firefox; all my boxes are x86 (and most of them, sadly, are Windows for
work reasons); and I wouldn't be caught dead programming in any
variation of Visual Basic (with the exception that VBScript is still inexplicably
the best-supported scripting language for Windows and so sometimes
there's no choice).
It's interesting to compare and contrast the situations, though.
In the case of Seamonkey, after a lot of noise, some of the users
stepped up to organize a community effort to keep the project alive.
This appears to have gained considerable momentum in a very short time
and could lead to a revitalization of the suite. If not, at least the
suite will continue to be supported by someone, giving the affected
users more time to make a gradual transition.
In the case of Debian, despite what almost seems to be a deliberate
choice of flame-inducing nomenclature (of course nobody wants to be
an officially designated "second-class citizen"), some productive
discussions are beginning to spring up among the flames. It seems
highly likely that the minority architectures will continue to be
supported in some form.
In the case of VB, the affected developers can do nothing except humbly
beg for Microsoft's assistance. After all, they can't support the
language themselves - the code to it is only held by Microsoft.
Microsoft is standing firm on its position that VB.NET is the future
and VB6 will be unsupported.
What's really interesting about this situation is that in my humble
opinion, in all of these cases the decision to drop support was the
right thing to do. The Mozilla project has painfully limited resources
for a project that's used by millions of people worldwide and it makes
no sense to divert those resources to a product that (a) does exactly
the same thing as their more widely used stuff, and (b) has a userbase
in, what, the tens of thousands? Debian's oft-complained-about long
release cycles and delays in getting new software into even unstable
are caused in large part by trying to support software on three to
eleven times as many architectures as the original upstream authors do.
And in the case of Microsoft, VB6 was an abomination - the software
equivalent of Vogons whose brains were originally diseased and
mis-developed livers - and Microsoft's gutsy decision to finally
attempt to rid the world of this plague can only make the world a
Regardless, this situation is instructive for all those who hesitate to
embrace open source software because "how do you know it's going to
continue to be supported?" Which groups are better supported now, the
ones who picked the Microsoft solution or the ones who picked open
You know you're a geek when...
Last week i saw someone on the train carrying a magazine called, for
some reason, "Alter Hall". Decided that must be an SQL DDL command, you
know - ALTER HALL ADD DOORWAY, ALTER HALL MODIFY CARPET, that kind of