Wednesday Dec 16, 2009

☞ Settled but not cured

Tuesday Aug 04, 2009

☞ Approaches to Open Source

Tuesday Jul 14, 2009

☞ Marketing and Exploitation

  • More scientific research which tells us what we would already know if we weren't so busy anthropomorphising.
  • "Taken individually, these dubious actions might be dismissed...taken together they suggest a consistent philosophy" -- Yes, yes, I've seen MiniMicrosoft saying they have "turned the corner" but this episode suggests the underdog self-image is alive and well. Microsoft's military assault on the standards world deserves a written history; this is a good start.
  • I'm a Zipcar member and they have a scheme where anyone who joins up via a member referral can get $25 or £25 free usage of the service (as well as the member getting the same). If you ever need a car for a few hours in a major US city or in London, Zipcar may well interest you.
    (tags: Zipcar Travel Eco)
  • This is a brilliant video - great, catchy song, amusing video, restrained yet direct message. It deserves to be a chart hit. I want to buy a copy so I can listen to it while I'm flying United...

Monday Jul 13, 2009

☞ Growing Pains

Monday May 11, 2009

☞ Results of Extreme Capitalism

  • Excellent and encouraging analysis from Robin here. Scott McNealy has been saying for years that net-connected devices are the new world after Microsoft and the PC, and the time has come. Scott may have preferred other technologies to be involved, but the new world is a race between two systems based on Free software (one closed, one open).
  • Far too close to the bone for comfort. [Dilbert cartoon; link will corrode in a few weeks as they have no respect for the web]
  • Correct title; largely wrong-headed article. There's no doubt that some reform is needed of trademark law, and I've been raising the issue in conference addresses for several years, but this guy's suggestion that Mozilla, Canonical and Red Hat are doing something wrong doesn't bear much examination if you've spent any time understanding the minefield created by the various takes on trademark law around the world. The most common error: only considering the law for a single country.
  • "Did you wake up this morning and say "I wish someone would figure out a way to let me do less with my computer"? You've come to the right place! "

Wednesday May 21, 2008

Microsoft Embraces ODF, At Last

Slipstreaming Gull

I was tidying in my office recently and found my attendee badge for the Open Source Convention held in Monterey in 2000. The big news that year (apart from the fact that the world didn't end) was that Sun, which had just bought a German company called Star Division, was releasing their flagship product StarOffice under an open source license and sponsoring a new open source community called The t-shirts we all received just said "Freedom". We all had high hopes that simple but bold move, as well as giving all of us a great document suite, would begin to lubricate the market for document tools and get its corroded competitive gears turning again.

I'm now completely convinced that it worked. The widespread adoption of both on Windows (for which millions of copies of OO.o are downloaded each year) and on GNU/Linux (where it is distributed with almost every copy) was an early sign. The growth of OpenDocument format from a seed planted by to an independent plant nurtured by OASIS to a spreading young tree at ISO was another.

But today there are many senses in which we all in the community could be delighted at our influence on the world of software. The steady pressure has paid off. Not just because is better than ever at version 3.0 (now available in a native Mac version among others). But because we were accused of being derivative, yet it's now our innovation that is setting the pace.

Change of Heart?

I'm referring to the announcement Microsoft just made that they will be issuing a service pack for Office that adds native support for ODF. I've been repeatedly calling on them to support ODF like they do many other formats, and to do so in a way that makes it just another format that can be made the default. They've said they will as of SP2, and I warmly congratulate them on finally overcoming the NIH and FUD instincts. Way to go!

More than that, they also announced they will join the OASIS ODF TC and work to develop ODF. I've also been calling on them to do this, pretty much since the TC was formed right in front of them (they are board members at OASIS) in 2002. I'm not a member personally, but if I were I would want to warmly welcome them to the team as it enters the final straights towards completion of ODF 1.2 and submission to ISO.

Of course, I might also reflect on the fact they are finally doing exactly what Stephe Walli said they ought to do to kill ODF. But for now, it's huge, warm congratulations on giving your customers the freedom to leave and the confidence to stay - and a small British mutter of "about bloody time".

Monday Jan 21, 2008

Strategically Ignoring Customers

Interesting to see the Microsoft folks making a big deal out of the fact that companies are implementing OOXML features in their software products. I'd hesitate to join them being thrilled at IBM's new-found support for their strategy. Truth is, when there's a monopolist in the market it's impossible to ignore the consequences of even their worst ideas, let alone their good ones. Responding to the needs of locked-in customers who will find themselves using OOXML is a different deal to strategic support.

A much more crucial question, though, is why the folks at Microsoft are so surprised. If you know your customers have a requirement, surely you respond to it? The real question this situation brings to my mind is not "why are IBM implementing OOXML features". It's "why won't Microsoft implement support for ODF at least to the same level as RTF built-in to Office?" Given they have a number of very significant and visible customers demanding that support, it seems to me they are the ones with the explaining to do, not IBM, Google, or anyone else.

Monday Mar 05, 2007

LiveMink: Miguel de Icaza

At FOSDEM in Brussels a short while ago I spent some quality time sharing a few beers with Novell VP Miguel de Icaza, the driving force behind both GNOME and the Mono project. Miguel is unfailingly upbeat, even after getting heckled in his keynote, and I think you can get a feeling for his energy and passion in this discussion we recorded at the end of the event in the hallway at FOSDEM.

Miguel talks about why he's not worried about Mono providing a pathway to Microsoft (I'm afraid the juiciest bits got lost when the plug fell out of the recorder), and how he welcomes Sun starting OpenJDK. Listen on!

[MP3]—[ Ogg]—[ iTunes]

Monday Feb 19, 2007

LiveMink: Michael Goulde, Forrester Research

At the Sun Analyst Conference recently I sat next to veteran computer industry analyst Michael Goulde of Forrester Research on the coach home from dinner. While his beat now covers open source, Michael speaks candidly about his time working at Microsoft before joining Forrester, explains how the experience turned him on to the power of FOSS and holds out some hope for Microsoft to finally get it right with the departure of Jim Allchin. Again, the audio quality is not what I would want but the content is fascinating.


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Monday Nov 20, 2006

Software Never Has Bugs

Golden Orb

Have you ever watched one of those sci-fi or war films where there's an alien/enemy take-over of the ship/base and the captain heroically manages to get to the box on the wall, open the cover and hit the big red switch which blows the whole thing to kingdom come just in the nick of time? (Bond, anyone?) Have you had the same thought as me? That building that sort of capability in to your infrastructure is just an invitation for some system defect to accidentally blow the whole place sky high accidentally?

Well, it really happened - just down the road from us in Portsmouth there was huge disruption recently as second world war bombs were removed from a naval base. The benefits of having planted the bombs in the first place were undoubtedly huge in the minds of the military men who planted them, but the unexpected side effects were very disruptive.

This was brought to mind reading MJF's piece on the kill-switch in the new MS Office product, and then Tim's reaction to how it might be subverted. I'm sure it makes sense in someone's mind somewhere, but this customer-hating paranoia at Microsoft is eventually going to really hurt someone (unless, of course, their software never has bugs).

What with the "Windows Genuine Adware" stuff waiting to turn off your system at the slightest whim, the question of why anyone would knowingly install software that includes an intentional self-destruct like this is high in my mind - especially as viable alternatives become more and more common, as this BBC story almost gets round to saying explicitly. ZDNet newbie Larry Dignan may be able to stay neutral-voiced, but I just have to shout that it's a calculated abuse of a dominant market position.

Putting a "kill switch" that can be locally and remotely triggered depends on the fact that Software Never Has Bugs. Yeah, right.


Thoughts and pointers on digital freedoms and technology markets. With a few photos too.


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