Monday Mar 31, 2008

Aloha Air Says Aloha to all Flights

Alas, Aloha Airlines - that venerable symbol of Hawaii filed for bankruptcy recently and today announced they are no longer flying.  March 31 (today) is that last day they will fly!  Of course I bought tix on Aloha for a trip later this summer so I am now seeing if United (their partner) will honor the tix or if my credit card company can help.   Although bad for me (any my vacation), this is an even worse blow to those who work for Aloha who have jobs no more.  The airline business is a very competitive, cut-throat affair and you have to be nimble to survive.  I would guess that that Aloha's problems have been around for some time and were exacerbated by their failure to expand their mainland-to-island flights to ensure some cash generating long haul flights.  When a competitor came in to the inter-island business Aloha did not have the financial ability to react!  Add this to the steep increased in fuel costs and Aloha seems to have been trapped by low fare competitors and the high cost of gas.  Check and mate!

Wednesday Feb 20, 2008

Dell's Great in-home service

Well, my mom's hard drive died on her - puking out the blue-screen-of-vista-death.  After spending an hour on the phone w/ Dell support in India she learned that her computer didn't work!  However,  they did not propose to fix it or help out.  The box comes with a 1 year in-home warranty so they should have fixed it right?  So she called me and I phone Dell, outraged! As it turns out they did file a report about a hard drive crash, but the passive tech support guy did nothing more (kind of like going to Kaiser to see your doctor - you have to be assertive or they won't fix you either).  So I managed to get them to admit that a hard drive crash after 6 months IS a warranty item and they agreed to replace it. Not only that, they sent someone out w/ an imaged disk to replace it at my mom's home. And, if you can believe this, they even showed up on time. On the promised day!  Now my mom's computer is back up and running, but with all that ad-ware that Dell so conveniently provides.  Well maybe there is hope for Dell yet!

My next step is to remove the adware and install CrossLoop an opensource  VNC application that allows me to take control of her desktop remotely so I can help her w/ email and Firefox.  So far it works really, really well and does exactly what I need it to do - saving me a trip to her house to show her how to print documents!

Wednesday Feb 13, 2008

Upgraded to Leopard without a hitch!

I bought the family pack for Leopard to upgrade all my machines back in November.  I was waiting, however, for the first big patch to be released before I did the upgrade (I am an earlyish adopter of tech, not a bleeding-edge adopter) because I just didn't want to deal w/ glitches on my work laptop. Well Apple just released 10.5 update  BEAST (all 347 MB of it !!)

The standard upgrade went well (I did back up my data to and external drive) and took about 1 1/2 hours. Then I went into work to download the BEAST and with Sun's big pipes that took just a few minutes (less than 5, I think).  I ran the installer (another 5 minutes or so) and it worked great.

 Now, After 24 hours, everything is stable and I've noticed no problems.  Nor have I noticed my Mac running any slower or faster - its just about the same.  All programs work, all data is there, none of my documents or pictures were lost.  I had 2 very minor issues 1) I had to reinstall my printers and 2) I had to reinstall PocketMac to sync my BlackBerry. 

Tuesday Jan 29, 2008

The "A" in LAMP gets Acquired

Today Covalent Technologies (the guys who provide commercial support for all things Apache) was acquired by SpringSource.  So after Sun acquires the "M" in LAMP Spring buys the "A".  Since the "L" is distributed among many companies and the "P" is not really something you can buy, it looks like the LAMP stack is now all locked up.  This is a maturing step for Open Source.  As more and more people use open source, the inevitable questions are "how can I get support" and "where do I go to download a fully integrated stack from a trusted source".  As the components of LAMP move into commercial companies that can provide the level of support that enterprises are looking for, open source becomes a more viable alternative to closed source.  Sun already provides support for the SAMP stack and with the acquisition of MySQL look for those support offerings to be even more robust.

Thursday Dec 13, 2007

GlassFish is in Debian

If you search thru Linux Debian packages you will find that GlassFish has now been included!  This was not something done by Sun engineers to "push" GlassFish into Debian (although we were working on that), but rather a "pull" from some engineers to package GlassFish for Debian.  I am certain that the work done to package GlassFish for Ubuntu had something to do with the packaging work for Debian,  however, I don't discount the amount of work that was done to make it happen.  They (I don't know who did it) removed the Maven build dependency and substituted Ant.  This just continues to show the momentum that GlassFish is getting.    Add to this our monthly average download numbers, which are higher than any other open source app server and the positive feedback we get from the software analysts on GlassFish and I think we are starting to turn the corner on awareness.  Thanks to the folks working on the Debian project!

Wednesday Nov 28, 2007

Verizon Opens up, a little!

Verizon announced today that they are opening their network to all compatible phones and services.  For years, Verizon has had the "walled garden" business model where they control everything.  This means that all services have had to go thru Verizon so you could not acquire applications or ringtones unless you paid Verizon.  As a result, it cost more to download a stupid 15 second ringtone than it cost to download the entire song (in high quality).  Remember when Verizon offered a service to backup your contacts OTA for...$3 / month?  That kind of price gouging didn't work, no one bought it and eventually, they offered it for free because it caused them less work when someone had to replace a phone.  The walled garden model spilled over to what Vzn let consumers do with their phones.  My phone has bluetooth, but it only works with a headset - I cannot sync data wirelessly with it!  Why? Well Verizon wants me to sync my data with their servers for a fee and then resync it w/ my phone. It will be a cold day in hell before I do that and I take great pleasure in syncing my device with a cable knowing that eveytime I do I am sticking it to the man!  It is this kind of perversion of the market that Verizon lived on and I and everyone else hated it. 

This latest move, of course, is clearly a reaction to the market in which Apple opened their iPhone and Google is going to offer SAAS via the Web.  The only way for Verizon to stay relevant in this market where people have access to free services, is to open their network. This move parallels the open source movement - make it open and they will come and innovate.  By opening the network, Verizon will encourage development of new and innovative services that will provide me something I want at a reasonable price.  For Verizon, this means an erosion of their business model (think large holes in the walled garden) as they have to rely more on revenue from moving bits and less on revenue from overpriced applications and services. Tearing the wall down will ultimately be good for everyone.  The really useful services from Verizon will continue to sell, new services and phones will bring more people to their network and drive volume on their towers thus lowering their costs (which will ultimately be passed onto us thru lower prices or more minutes).

Wednesday Nov 14, 2007

The Power of Linux comes to...Wal Mart

The $199 Everex computer running Linux is "sold out" at Wal Mart online.    After Dell led the market by offering Ubuntu on its systems, who would have figured that Wal Mart would emerge as a leader in moving Linux boxes?  I doubt the buyers care that much about Linux.  What they care about is getting a low cost computer that is easy to use (read none of those annoying "an application is about to launch" windows warnings popping up every time you want to do something) and lets computer novices access the internet.  This is the back-to-the-future version of the Web TV that my mother used to use to get email.  Once she graduated from just email the next step was crossing the river Styx to an over developed Windows Vista box which confuses her to no end.  If this simple preconfigured Linux box (with support) was available 6 months ago I would have bought it for her.  Maybe this is the start of the OCPG (one computer per grandparent)?

This is FOSS doing what it is supposed to do - providing "just enough" features / utility for an underserved market.  FOSS doesn't do everything, but what it does, it does well and the market seems to like that.


Wednesday Oct 17, 2007

Jonathan's Simple Explanation of Volume.

I was at the Sun internal open source conference for the past 2 days. Our keynote speaker was Jonathan Schwartz and it was interesting to hear him talk about his strategy and, this is the key bit to me, his frustration with the inability of employees, customers and partners of understanding our open source message. He, like me, constantly gets a question that goes like this: “Now that our sw is free why do we need a sales force and how do we expect to make money?”  Jonathan answered this in a very simple way by pointing to a download map that shows all the ISPs from which our sw was downloaded.  He points out that our software (in this case lets use GlassFish)  is being downloaded in more regions than we sales people (Sun has no sales people, for instance, in Madagascar).   By reaching these people we now have much broader distribution than we could have ever gotten by having to ship out sw CDs upon request or by having expensive sales people call on these developers.

Next he points out that Sun's main customers, those large enterprises that see sw as a competitive advantage, they embrace  the idea of free sw, but will always buy a subscription or service contract because they cannot afford to ever have down time. The cost of downtime to a bank, a financial exchange or a shipping company is so large that the cost of a subscription to Sun's commercial sw packages is a very minor expense.  

To summarize, the free people will never pay for support, but eventually they might get a job with the enterprises that do and Sun will benefit because these developers are familiar with Sun's products and that's good for us. Enterprises will always buy support and it is them that we target with our commercial distributions of open source.   I think the ultimate answer is in the revenue and profitability of our sw division and at some point our financial people might disclose that information separately and we will have data on which to judge this revenue model.

Friday Oct 12, 2007

Oracle Buys BEA


Oracle Burys Buys BEA for the diabolical sum of $6.66 Billion!  What deal is the Darth Vadar of sw companies getting into now?  Certainly alot of people will make money on this, not the least of which is Carl Icahn who's 13.2 % stake in BEA just jumped 20% making him a $200 Million profit!  But what does this mean to the App server community?  If this merger goes like many of the other Oracle assimilation projects, I would expect the BEA app server to slowly disappear like the cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland.  BEA will stay around in name but their competing app server will slowly starve to death. This is a shame because BEA has a pretty good product.  They have specialized in targeting vertical markets, namely telco, while Oracle has focussed their app server on whatever advantages their database.  I feel for BEA's employees who are about to undergo the assimilation process and who see their years of work on the app server in jeopardy.

However, we have an alternative for you.  Where Oracle focuses on data base and tools the GlassFish community focuses on Open Source and community.  If you want to have input as to what features you need in an app server, come to GlassFish - as an open source community you get not only a voice in the direction of the product, you can make any changes / improvements you want AND get one of the fastest app servers around - and definitely FASTER than BEA.  As for those of you who fear that your investment in BEA is now devalued, we have a FREE tool to migrate you from BEA to GlassFish that you can download here.  To my BEA friends, come join us @ GlassFish, the water's just fine!


Thursday Oct 04, 2007

Open Source and Mac OS X - a Nurturing Relationship

 Mac Logo                   

Open Source implementations need to be available to run on the OSs that developers prefer and this fact is not
lost on Sun. In addition to our efforts to get our open source implementations distributed with Linux we also ensure they work on Windows and Mac OS X.  The latest version of GlassFish is now available for download from the Apple Developer site.  GlassFish for Mac OS X.    

Also, OpenDS is available from the same site.  OpenDS for MaxOS X


Wednesday Oct 03, 2007

Ubuntu 7.10 is coming!

Monday Sep 17, 2007

GlassFish Set Free with Record Performance

GlassFish V2 is released today!  It includes a whole list of features that are useful to enterprise deployments like clustering, administration, failover protection, Web Services interoperability AND record breaking performance to boot! You can read about the details here.  What is really interesting, is that this underscores the ability of the free and open software community to create great software.  Not just good, but great.  Many people think of open source sw as poor cousins of "real" or commercial sw and that is just not the case here.  GlassFish beat BEA's app server by 10% in the latest SpecjAppServer 2004 tests to show that the open source community can not only deliver sw on schedule but do so with high performance.  Browse here to download the latest bits.

Friday Aug 31, 2007

I didn't know Duct Tape could do that!

So the wife cuts her foot just as we go to spend a week on the beach. The thought of salty sandy stuff rubbing into a cut on her foot and shoe is just not a nice thing.  So in search of a waterproof barrier solution she starts thinking "What can I use to cover my cut that is water proof?"  The answer, of course, is Duct Tape - you know that stuff they make into wallet shapes and sell at hardware stores?  So in searching for Duct Tape to apply over her bandage what does she find but....."Duct Tape Bandages"!  Rats, we were beaten to a great design idea by someone else.  The photo is not faked or photoshopped but the actual  product we bought off the shelf at a drug store.  The bandages worked ok, sea water and sand are a difficult combination for any adhesive, but the concept is brilliant!

Monday Aug 27, 2007

Marketing Thoughts on Java vs. Sunw

Ok so now Sunw is Java what does this really mean or do?  In my mind (and I am not an official spokesperson for Sun) I think it is a way for Sun to capitalize on our consumer touch point and connect with those folks who are already our customers and those who we want to be our customers.  All tech companies want and need a consumer touch point because they have all the money!  We all remember the "Intel Inside" campaign which made microprocessors cool by depicting guys dancing in clean room suits - even I have one of their dolls (I used to have to work in those things and, trust me, you no be wantin' to dance in them!).  Since then we've seen Adobe and .pdf (although I don't think anyone makes that association well) and many other examples.  For each of these very expensive marketing campaigns, the companies have benefited from increased consumer awareness, better brand recognition and ultimately more sales.  Why? I won't go into details, but basically people buy what they are familiar with and these branding campaigns are designed to make people (remember engineers and purchasing agents are people too!) familiar, comfortable, aware of products and technologies.

For Sun, our consumer touch point is Java - Java ME specifically, Java on phones but it is our technology and corporate felt (IMHO) a need to remind consumers (and the stock analysts) that Java = Sun.  Now there are 2 ways to do this.  One way is the Intel way and spend upwards of $100 million on branding, dancing bunnies/cleanroom suits etc and Sun just doesn't have the money to do that (remember we've just made it out of the "nonprofit"category of companies).  The much less expensive way is to change the ticker symbol - this costs much less than $100 million and is a creative way to remind people that Sun does make things that are familiar and relevant to them and their lives.  The more people associate Sun with Java and Java with things they do everyday (mobile phones, settop boxes, BMWs) the more likely they are to "buy" things that are Java branded which means more revenue to Sun.  So I am positive to neutral on this move, but do think it is not a bad idea.  Let's hope that other companies like BEA don't follow our lead as the Fake Steve Jobs suggests here.

Thursday Aug 16, 2007

My Dog is a Skunk Magnet!

Stupid dog! Those are the words that Eustice (from the "Courage the Cowardly Dog" TV show) used to scream at his dog everytime "Courage" did something silly - like save him from a man eating plant.  I got to use that same phrase last night when, while reading, my dog barked and suddenly a stinging, eye-burning, gagging skunk oder entered the house thru the open sliding glass door.  My dog had found and disturbed a skunk in our back yard.  Now this would not have been so bad had the same dog not been skunked last week on a walk in the nearby canyon. So that's 2 skunkings in a week!  Not good for the dog and not good for the master either.   So at 11 last night we washed the dog in the magic skunk remover and sent him to the garage to sleep - and aired out the house until midnight.

Mom's De-Skunker for Dogs

We learned (thanks to the Internet) that tomato juice does not work on skunked dogs - that's just an old wives tale. What DOES work is a mix of Hydrogen Peroxide, soap and baking soda.  Basically the soap washes off the oil, the hydrogen peroxide helps break it down and the baking soda absorbs the oil.  Mix 1 quart of 3-percent hydrogen peroxide with 1/4 cup of baking
soda and 1 teaspoon of mild dishwashing detergent (make sure it doesn't
contain bleach or ammonia). Rub this over your stupid dog, rinse and repeat.   We've use this 2x time and I can attest that this does work very, very well and makes the dog much happier.





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