A friend writes:
David [her boyfriend, not his name] learned some of the new languages (Android being one ). He says that any programming involving Open Source software requires wading through undocumented code, sloppily written by guys who de facto require one to email them, asking for technical support.
And without the cooperation of these people, one has no chance in hell of figuring out what the next command syntax should be. And a lot of the guys who wrote the code are reluctant to cooperate, because their knowledge of how their own code is supposed to be written and how to run it is their only job security.
Coding for very simple operations, such as connecting an external camera to an Android cell phone, has been proving impossible. He’s been working on it for 10 days now.
David has tried several flavors of Linux kernels and also several brands of smartphone drivers. But it always comes to the same thing. The software won’t run, and there are maybe one or two wrong characters in 20,000 lines of code that made it break, and you don’t know where to start looking. Because the error message doesn’t tell you anything other than it won’t run.
To be fair, I use R (which is open source) many times every day. It has far fewer bugs than the S-plus software it replaced. That it’s free is a huge plus.