Lest everyone think I'm a total Google Fanboy, I'd like to suggest a really, really simple tactic folks like Cyanogen can take to continue Android innovations while complying 100% with the licensing of Google's "experience" apps.
The crux of the issue is that, without the proper license, it is illegal for Android ROM developers to distribute these apps as part of their ROMs. It'd also be illegal for someone like me to host them myself so that people can simply install them after installing a custom ROM. "Ok," you might say. "Then how am I supposed to get these applications if it's not legal for anyone to give them to me?"
Ah, but there's the catch. There are organizations that are licensed to distribute them. T-Mobile, for instance, is probably the most widely-known, as all our phones will download updates containing the apps whenever a new Android release comes out. Usually there's a bit of detective work involved, though, in determining the URL for these updates. But you know who else is licensed to distribute them, and makes them extremely easy to find/download? HTC.
What would need to happen is that the user could themselves download the relevant firmware update file from HTC's website and save it on their SD card -- which is perfectly legal. The user could then update to a Google-free firmware from someone like Cyanogen. If this Google-free firmware update happened to check for the existence of the official Google-app-including firmware image as part of its setup procedure, and extracted the Google bits out of it, everyone could have the best of both worlds.
The ROM developer would not be distributing the apps. The organization that is distributing the apps is licensed to do so. Everyone wins.
While in Australia, D and I got invited over to one of her coworkers's place for Christmas. In addition to being awesome, this was a much better option than the Hooters plan I had earlier declared. There was much good food, much Mario Kart and Rock Band on their Wii, and lots of good hanging out with other North Americans.
While there, I was re-acquainted with the open source Xbox Media Center, which, since I last was aware of it, is now just 'XBMC' because it now runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, and AppleTV. In the years since it left my awareness, it's also become FREAKIN' AWESOME. One of the really cool things it does now is fetch artwork and information about your television and movie files you watch with it from community-maintained sites, while looking really pretty:
Needless to say, the 5+ year-old MythTV setup we were using to play all the things we downloaded got replaced.
While watching programs, I've found that some of our more obscure programs are missing pretty artwork, so I've been dusting off my GIMP skills here and there making some. I've also been fulfilling requests from other less-artistic users, which is pretty good for the old sense of satisfaction of a job well done. It's no secret that I enjoy making things in GIMP, so I figured I'd make some stuff other people will find valuable instead of just silly fake movie posters to amuse myself. If you want to follow along at home, the stuff I've been making is viewable via the following links: banners , posters, backgrounds. The site is pretty klunky, but their API is pretty nice, allowing for anyone to use the artwork/descriptions in their tv-related applications.
The fun part is that theTVdb requires artwork to be of resolutions high enough to be problematic for those who just want to download some off google and upload them. In many cases, you have to 'make something out of nothing,' or, more accurately, out of many different nothings. Other than new serieses that provide lots of high-res wallpapers and stuff to work with, you end up crafting entire posters out of tiny little elements -- and, in many cases, filling in all the rest of it with nothing but your imagination.
It is hard enough for me to convince people that GIMP is quite capable of doing pretty much everything the average user of Photoshop would require from it without you guys up and moving shit around all the time, and/or releasing "stable" versions that don't function properly. Had I not had 10 years of wonderful experience working with GIMP before running the version that Ubuntu installed for me, I would have not only been pulling my hair out, but I'd be advocating that no one ever waste their time with it in the first place as well. Stuff just doesn't work. Weirdnesses to which I had finally adjusted are now either gone or weirder. My active layer keeps getting into a state where neither I nor plugins can change it. Selections are behaving strangely. I'd hate to have my income be dependent upon using GIMP, because I'm having serious troubles getting anything done with it right now.
Granted, Ubuntu is giving me a somewhat outdated version, but I would think that however old the version is, coming from the "stable" tree would ensure that it, you know, would WORK properly? I suppose it's possible that the Ubuntu folk may have broken something after you were through with it, but I can't help but wonder whether most of the Internet ravings from Photoshop users about how GIMP is worse than MS Paint might be as a result of crap like I'm running across now. I know that GIMP is a top-notch application that, aside from some annoying quirks from time to time, is perfectly capable of replacing what 95% of Photoshop users use it for (despite that not being the intent of GIMP in the first place), but trying to get anything done with this release (2.4.2) is proving impossible for this 10-year veteran self-proclaimed GIMP 'expert.' I'm pulling my hair out trying to get anything done; I'd suspect new users, however, would just tell their friends how much it sucks and be done with it.
In the decade or so that I've been using GIMP I've gone from the bleeding-edge compile-it-myself-the-minute-it's-released type of user to kind that just uses whichever release his package manager presents him with; I'm pretty sure the latter is the group that most of your user-base falls into. You need to make sure that those people don't come across crap like this, because they're the ones who aren't going to put up with it and end up saying bad things about you. Isn't that why you have the unstable tree in the first place?
checking for NSS... yes
checking for tclConfig.sh... no
checking for snprintf... yes
checking for connect... (cached) yes
checking for me pot o' gold... no
checking for gethostid... yes
checking for lrand48... yes
The first step to compiling an application from source on linux is generally to run a configuration script that determines whether you have all the libraries said application requires. Nestled somewhere in the thousand-or-so lines of rapidly-scrolling status lines was the bolded line above.
I'm pretty sure this is a silly little joke, as I've never heard of a library called "me pot o' gold."