Struggling with alien artefacts

Do you know the movies where some people discover an alien artefact or space ship and try to find out what it does or get it to work? The scientists carefully examine the alien language, trying to understand strange symbols and getting very unexpected results when fiddling with some switches.

Why am I writing this?

Because in the past weeks I have felt very much like these scientists in trying to work with others to get this Plone site up and running properly.

Plone — like alien spaceships — is of bedazzling complexity and redundant systems of which it is sometimes impossible to tell which is active and which is not. Things seem to work or fail magically, which reminds me of Asimovs quote about magic and technology.

Example: While the user names are stored in a PostgreSQL database and show up properly, their properties table exists, but remains empty. The properties can be set and read, so they are stored somewhere. But it seems impossible to find out where.

Also, Plone — like the obelisk from 2001 — essentially comes without documentation. Some pages exist, but it appears that they are usually outdated or related to a different problem. And the introductions are apparently often written for people who already know the system.

So we often very much felt like cosmonauts making the first trip into space when trying to find the one permission setting among the 200 permission switches that caused folders to be unreadable or blogging to break.

What irked me most was something else, though.

When saying that we would hire someone to get this done properly and finally end the odyssey, it turned out that people who earn their professional living setting up Plone sites told us they did not know those modules and also did not know anyone else who did.

Maybe Plone IS an alien artefact, after all.

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About Georg Greve

Georg Greve is a technologist and entrepreneur. Background as a software developer and physicist. Head of product development and Chairman at Vereign AG. Founding president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE). Previously president and CEO at Kolab Systems AG, a Swiss Open Source ISV. In 2009 Georg was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon by the Federal Republic of Germany for his contributions to Open Source and Open Standards.
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3 Responses to Struggling with alien artefacts

  1. maffulli says:

    in the movies there is always one hero

    who is going to be called hero in this case? :)

  2. mike_abel says:

    Good idea

    I think to use the term hacking is a good way to involve people to talk about “hacking”, and in this discussion we can use this discussion to talk about freedom and other points of our work. Nice idea!

  3. You need not to go anywhere for playing free online papas games and these games are of cooking games. In these games you have to prepare new dishes with in the fixed period of time by which you time management skills will improve.

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