Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Bill and Melinda Gates

You've probably noticed I have a general leaning towards open source software for a number of reasons. I often find it serves my needs quite well, it's often lighter-weight and faster (although you can't accuse GNU Emacs, my favorite editor for about two decades, of being a small application, and the current OpenOffice.org seems slower than previous versions), and it often is more interoperable with a broad variety of tools. I think it often fosters faster innovation. Some proprietary software has a reputation for being buggy or weak on security, too (as is some open source software).

Talk like that can turn into Microsoft-bashing. I've probably gotten angry at Microsoft on more than one occasion when I've perceived one of their tools (Windows, Internet Explorer, and Office being the most likely candidates) causing me to spend time I didn't want to spend. In all honesty, I've had to get mad at open source software or (even!) myself on occasion, as those have both wasted my time, too.

As a result, I think it's very important to acknowledge the good that Bill and Melinda Gates are doing through their foundation. Sure, they're spending much money on education in my part of the world, and, sure, some of that involves getting more of their product into students' hands, a technique used by many companies that has the side effect of creating more future consumers of their products, but they're also doing much to improve the health of people in parts of the world that lack resources in ways we can only imagine. Thanks!

Those of us without the Gates' financial resources can still make a difference. While reading up on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, I found this page suggesting how one can get involved as a volunteer with any of a number of groups around the world.

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