When rushing to adopt new proprietary technology in an emergency like now, be VERY cautious of future liabilities, post crisis.

The danger of treating acute pain with morphine is a long term, destructive, expensive addiction...

Many tech solutions are entirely analogous - by design. Their proprietors are delighted this crisis provides an opportunity to sneak past sensible procurement processes.


@lightweight Yes. But sometimes you *will* need to use morphine or some other proven painkiller - especially when the alternative is a crowd of people trying to "sell" you various strangely-looking ingredients and insist that you just get out of the comfort zone, overcome your laziness and roll your own painkiller just like everyone should do to ensure their independence... 😐

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@z428 yup. The point is that each person has a duty to those affected by their decisions to be informed, and aware of their liabilities and other options. Most people don't bother raising the shroud of ignorance. And, remember: marketing (like a casino) never works in your best interest. See davelane.nz/marketing

@lightweight Agreed. Yet there are situations in which falling back to "household names" seems the only viable solution, and the *core* (only?) problem being that alternatives are far from being "household names" or even viable products that are available and reliable. Experiencing this with Microsoft Teams at the moment: Introduced responding to the crisis and the need to get close to 40 people to work from home all of a sudden. There were no real "easy-on" alternatives, there wasn't ...

@z428 the real problem is that this was such a shock for so many people. It's not like no one could've anticipated this sort of situation and developed a contingency. Like global heating, we all knew this would happen eventually. It just shows how useless most of our strategic planning and liability management practices are.

@lightweight I think it depends. We're actually (maybe also because of the overal level of digital / remote work in our particular domain) pretty much behind in this field of technology, so until earlier last week, remote work for the vast majority of the staff (except developers, sales and tech support) was *supposed* to be on-site, no one from the actual business team even *wanted* to work remotely for particular reasons, so planning was to consider such options merely for load-balancing ...

@lightweight ... aspects or one or two people working from home then and now in a mid-term future, which is somewhat different than having *all* the staff working from home by tomorrow. πŸ˜‰

@z428 any business that didn't have a contingency plan for this has poor leadership. Seriously.

@lightweight No. A business that has no contingency plan has a poor leadership. And, assuming a small and "grown" organization, change needs time. You fix your most important issues first and those that are less likely later - but "less likely" doesn't mean "unlikely" as we learn. 😐

@z428 living in Christchurch, NZ (quakes, fires, floods, and mass shootings in the past few years), I know a bit about "less likely" disasters. I also ran an IT company that provided disaster recovery for our customers. We were one of the only ones that kept all our systems up through all of it. (We also built the IT systems for the gov't's earthquake recovery organisation).

@z428 the organisations who were most badly affected by the quakes, in particular, were the ones totally dependent on proprietary software, followed by those employing proprietary cloud services. They were typically out of action for weeks, even after all the local infrastructure was back up and running... Their problems were non-technical, e.g. trying to find access keys, trying to migrate configs ot new machines. The companies with locally-managed open source tech were running immediately.

@z428 the "household names" don't have that status because of the quality of their software. They have it because they have hundreds of billions of $ extracted from exploited customers, some of which is spent on marketing at an unprecedented scale. Sadly, marketing works... because people are oblivious to how ruthlessly they're being exploited. It's a vicious circle... which I'm keen to break.

@lightweight Partially agree. Of course, you're right, marketing and marketing budget matters. But: A lot of wannabe-alternatives are in a rather bad shape, brought up by communities that not necessarily care about requirements such as "usability", "accessibility" or "integration" and spend much more time discussing technical issues, at worst re-implementing complex protocols just because they prefer a different programming language. Marketing *definitely* is a problem, but we're an easy target.

@lightweight ... really much time to compare and evaluate alternatives. The bad thing: Once the crisis has been managed, there *will* eventually be an evaluation of alternatives, and we will much likely notice that there aren't really many if you look at the full feature set - no matter where you move, it always will most likely be about making yourself free from that very addiction and paying for that with more effort for less quality. That really bugs me, and I see no solution for that. 😟

@z428 well, luckily you're quite mistaken with your assertion about about the "more effort for less quality". In fact, I've always found the opposite to be true. Details: davelane.nz/marketing

@lightweight Well. Again, depends. I've been into that for a while. And I've been using FLOSS and self-hosted communication and groupware solutions for a while now. If you can recommend something that is on par with O365 and Microsoft Teams in example in terms of integration (video, chat, calendar, office/documents, ...), availability (desktop, web, all relevant mobile platforms) and feature set (including on-demand recording of video calls, in example), I'm happy to dive into ...

@lightweight ... that. Unfortunately, everything I played with for the last decade (no matter whether XMPP, Matrix/Riot, MatterMost, RocketChat, NextCloud or the Confluence tool chain) was even remotely there. I'm not happy about that. But at this point I don't really need marketing to be honest, I just need a handful of non-technical users (who are pretty pragmatic about the things they work with) in front of a tool for a couple of hours to get a clear idea. 😟

@z428 As I posted last night... Gov't Canada have just decided (by staff feedback) to ramp up their use of Rocket.Chat *over* MS Teams (which they've already paid for with their ridiculously anti-competitive all-of-gov't Microsoft deal)... So that's a fairly compelling data point to the contrary.

@lightweight That's a good thing to start with. Any experiences or insights into what kind of feature set they use there? Especially when it comes to collaborative document editing / sharing, video conferencing, conference recording or written chat notes? We've learnt that Teams does a fairly poor job as a text-based chat system (because in that aspect it looks and feels confusing even compared to Matrix or Slack) but what people actually use is completely different.

@z428 Funny you should ask :) - we use BigBlueButton & Jitsi Meet, Rocket.Chat, NextCloud + OnlyOffice, and Mailcow - I just wrote this up for people's reference : ) - tech.oeru.org/working-home

@z428 And we're currently offering this (like bbb.nzoss.nz) to people here in NZ pro bono - we (the NZOSS - nzoss.nz) is fortunate to have substantial cloud hosting resource sponsored by Catalyst Cloud here in NZ.

@lightweight Ah, of course, *that* is possible, but something quite different. 😟 Yes, I *know* there are open tools for each of the feature aspects provided by Teams. Teams doesn't really provide *new* features, nor does it really do extremely well at any particular feature. What it *does* well however is something the FLOSS community has been struggling with / failed to achieve for quite a while: Link and integrate a plethora of different tools and functions to provide users with an ...

@lightweight ... easily accessible, seamlessly working environment where things go together without users having to bother about things such as different logins for different systems, different usability for different environments, and modes of collaboration impossible due to technical boundaries betweeen applications. I have some hopes for NextCloud here to improve these things, but so far, even "trivial" things such as calendaring are extremely painful if you want to make sure all ...

@z428 You mean a "seamless experience" like Sharepoint? :) Microsoft could build a seamlessly integrated system if their lives depended on it. Thankfully for them, the market is so dominated by clueless suckers making decisions based on who offers the best long lunches and golf trips, they don't need to...

@lightweight Sharepoint never ceases to disgust me for sure. But: Looking at in example "desktop" and "cloud" variants of O365, being signed into this and collaboratively editing a document together with others in "desktop Word" is something our business people have been dreaming of ever since the early 2000s. Libre/OpenOffice? No way. OnlyOffice? Slowly getting there at least. Blaming marketing for this situation is not completely wrong but a dangerous oversimplification from my point of view.

@lightweight ... the guys on Android, iOS, Linux, Windows are able to set up appointments and invite co-workers and knowing they will not cause any conflicts because they expect the calendaring solution to know these individuals calenders and warns them if people aren't available. We've gone a similar route for ages (ownCloud, custom XMPP server, custom mail server, roundcube webmail), and there still were that last 10..15% of integration that just seemed either technically or ...

@lightweight ... economically impossible. We're, at the moment, little more than 1.5FTE for maintaining infrastructure for apprx. 40 employees, most of them non-technical. If someone offered me a solution that is an *appliance* or a boxed application, open-source, feature- and integration-wise at least somehow close to Teams (and ideally supported by *one* team or vendor that also feels responsible for making things play together well), I'd immediately go for that. 😐

@z428 I'm 1FTE running a university's worth of 100% FOSS services. Last year, we had 30k-ish learners using our services. No one could've achieved that (and we have an IT budget of < $4000/year) with MSFT software.

@lightweight I always wondered whether universities are a special case here, but I'm unsure why, lacking first-hand knowledge. Some of my pals work for university IT departments however, and the things they tend to report would much likely *never* work out even in our small organization. You do have $4k/year for *all* IT including hardware, storage, network connectivity, workstations, ... for 30k learners??

@lightweight @z428 do you use BigBlueButton as a videoconferencing tool or more as an online lecture tool?

@z428 I've never used MS Teams, because I don't use Microsoft software on principle, but according to those who've had to use it, and have also had experience with Rocket.Chat, they all seem to prefer the latter.

@z428 here's why *all* the proprietary chat apps are a trap to be avoided: davelane.nz/notslack

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