At 02:49 PM 7/31/2002 -0400, Darryl Newberry wrote:
>BTW, anybody going to join Altium's DXP list?

I have.

>  I bet the real reason they are
>creating their own list is so THEY can filter and control the distribution.

I highly doubt it. Gad, what a paranoid view of the world! The yahoogroups 
DXP list is open subscription, though they could change that at any time -- 
and they might, to avoid the autosubscribing spammers, not to prevent 
legitimate users from subscribing.

If Protel used their position as owner of the list to prevent legitimate 
discussion, they would not be able to keep it secret because of this list 
and the other yahoogroups lists, it would be next to suicidal, really 
stupid, and they aren't stupid at all, not to mention *that* stupid.

No, they simply responded to a user suggestion that a separate list be 
formed to deal with a more narrow topic that could otherwise overwhelm this 
list. I've done that kind of thing in the past and also met with some 
hostility, though the consensus has been, I think, supportive.

I've written many times that I'd see this list as improved if it were to 
fracture into many lists, each one more focused, but with the provision 
that, ordinarly, subscribing to a main list automatically subscribed one to 
the subsidiary lists. I.e., opt-in for the main list, then opt-out for 
special topic lists. Those who were generally interested in Protel and 
wanted to read everything would get everything, i.e., it would be, pretty 
much, as things were when there was only the one Techserv Forum. Those who 
needed to cut down their mail intake could unsubscribe from the more 
specialized lists while still being able to get mail on the topics which 
interested them particularly (for most of us this might be a main user 
mutual tech-support list, which is the main function of the Techserv list 
at this time.)

The Protel Users Association has a family of lists on yahoogroups, 
including a list used to make decisions as an association. The Association 
is not likely to start up a special list in competition with an existing 
list unless the existing list is being managed abusively. In other words, 
if enough of us agreed that the Protel-owned DXP list was unjusly censoring 
posts, we'd simply start our own, or we would simply ignore the Protel list 
and discuss DXP here, until or unless Techserv decides to shut that down. 
(Techserv is a private company, a service bureau, and is *not* controlled 
by Protel users, per se. But mostly they keep their hands off the list.)

>I prefer to bitch here in a public forum where the world can read about it.

That strategy works for some people, or, more accurately, it worked once or 
a few times, so the person continues to repeat it, i.e., attempts to get 
better service or products by excoriating the company that provides it or 
them, and does not notice how rarely it works. More often, it is tilting at 
windmills which, by and large, tend to ignore all the shouting and continue 
to turn according to their own ideas.

Complaining about Protel software in a public forum can be useful where a 
consensus develops among users as a result; where such a consensus has been 
developed and, particularly if it is formally expressed, we have seen 
Altium staff to be very, very responsive.

It is not necessary as part of this process to consider them evil 
conspirators or incompetent boobs who are ruining the life of all us 
innocent people by inflicting junk software on us. It is not necessary for 
us to imply that their work product is junk or trash. If it were junk or 
trash, we wouldn't be using it! If someone really thinks that there is a 
better product *for the money*, I, for one, would like to know about it.

However, mere "bitching" rarely results in such an expressed consensus, 
since bitching does little more than relieve some emotional pressure on the 
part of the complainer, thus there is *less* energy available for the work 
of actually facilitating change.

As to Cadence, Cadence definitely monitors this list, though that does not 
mean that they necessarily use addresses here to promote their products. If 
they did, it would be a violation of list rules as they stand, though it 
would *not* be, in my opinion, spam. Spam is by definition, not targeted to 
an audience reasonably likely to have an interest in the product. 
Personally, if Cadence has offers, I'd like to receive them, though I would 
caution Protel users that

(1) Cadence has a tendency to understate the true cost of ownership of the 
software in its promotions. For example, they advertised Allegro Studio at 
$10K at one point, I was seriously considering it. I did not find out until 
later that the price did not include maintenance, *and the purchase of a 
year's maintenance was obligatory, part of the deal, and it was $5K.* 
They've changed, I think, some of the policies, so this is just a head's up.

(2) Cadence is not an open design system, and those of us who are used to 
Protel might find it a tad cumbersome. But, in this case, I'd talk to 
people who are familiar with both systems; I'll only add that I was fairly 
recently considered for a position at a major CAD service bureau that used 
only Cadence Allegro. And the major negative was that they estimated it 
would take me quite a few months to get up to speed.

(3) The DXP router was supposed to be a Specctra killer. I don't know if 
they have accomplished that, I haven't tested the router. But that is the 
direction the Altium wants to take the software and it explains, to some 
extent, the price increases.

Personally, I prefer to see the DXP discussion move to a separate list, and 
I see no reason not to use the one which Mr. Loughhead set up. I find it 
crucial that the main user list be user controlled or at least function for 
the most part as if it were user controlled, with some backup in case the 
owner goes belly-up or goes beyond limits (and this is the situation now). 
For the most part, however, exactly who owns a mailing list is not so 
important.

I'm under non-disclosure regarding DXP Beta (or may be, I forget the exact 
agreement), but I'll take the liberty to say this: the DXP Beta list was a 
very successful experiment, I'd say, in closer communication between users 
and the programming staff.

I'll quote Mr. Loughhead:

>Since this forum worked so well as a method of sharing knowledge about
>the new product, we have decided to create a new public DXP-focused
>forum. Like the beta forum, the new forum is strictly for technical
>DXP--related discussions. It is open to licensed DXP users, as well as
>people evaluating a DXP-based product. Members of Altium's technical
>staff will also monitor and participate in this forum.

For staff to participate, it is essential that the list not be a mere 
bitching session, or that it be allowed to degenerate into flame wars 
between users and staff. Otherwise the burden on staff will be too great 
and Altium would be likely to return to the policy that staff did *not* 
participate in such a forum.

I'd prefer to see, however, that the regulation of this be in user hands, 
and I would think that it would be much more acceptable if, for example, an 
abusive user were to be banned, should it be deemed necessary, by consensus 
of other users than by a decision on the part of Altium. (The Protel Users 
Association could, I think, take on the responsibility of setting list 
rules and the rare task of enforcing them.)

(Technical note: yahoogroups lists have management tools that make it 
unnecessary, for the most part, to ban abusive users unless the abuse 
extends beyond sending flame mails to the list. Instead, such a user can be 
put, individually, on moderation, i.e., a moderator would approve posts 
before passing it on. There can be many moderators who have this ability to 
approve, so it does not need to be a matter easily controlled by personal 
biases and animosities but rather a matter of consensus. But such steps are 
rarely necessary. Most people, given clear and reasonable rules, can and 
will follow them.)

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
LOMAX DESIGN ASSOCIATES
PCB design, consulting, and training
Protel EDA license resales
Easthampton, Massachusetts, USA
(413) 527-3881, efax (419) 730-4777
www.lomaxdesign.com




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