Monthly Archive for December, 2006

Off the Grid

I will be off the grid visiting family through Wednesday, December 27 in rural Ohio … land of dial-up internet where the closest broadband is more than a 20 minute drive away at a Starbucks in a truck stop! I do have my Samsung Blackjack for email and web surfing “emergencies” ;-)

Happy Holidays!

Techies Working from Home in Portland

There are many techies working from home offices here in Portland. In my case, I work for Compiere, a bay area open source company, and there are many others like me along with technology consultants, entrepreneurs, analysts, and others who wouldn’t mind working at a “real office” occasionally. While I love my home office, it might be nice to have something other than a coffee shop where I could squat when I have company in town or every other Tuesday morning when my housekeeper is here. Shared office space would also provide a place where we can meet with other local technology workers to network, share thoughts, get feedback on crazy ideas, etc. by the “water cooler”.

The co-working idea could be popular here in Portland where we have so many independent technology workers. If you are interested, Raven started a co-working in Portland wiki where you can sign up or get more information about the idea.

The Distro of the Beast


If you’ve ever wanted a Linux distro of the evil variety or a distro for Iron Maiden fans, you might be interested in this version of Ubuntu:

“Let him who hath understanding reckon the distro of the beast,
for it is a Linux distro,
its distro is Ubuntu Satanic Edition.” (Quote from Ubuntu Satanic Edition)

Thanks to Todd for pointing this out!

How Many Cartoonists Does It Take to Change a Lightbulb?

Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, is awesome. Here is a link to his most recent blog entry detailing his failings as a “handy person”:

Beneath the cabinets in my kitchen is a row of fluorescent lights that illuminate the countertops. One of those lights has decided to go all Baghdad on me. It crackles and pops and blinks for the entire time it is on. You might be thinking this is no big problem. All I have to do is change the fluorescent bulb, right?

I have a confession.

I am not. . . mechanical.

Or to put it another way:

Q. How many cartoonists does it take to change a light bulb?

A. More than the number living in my house.

My problem is that the light bulb is encased in some sort of impenetrable container with no indication of how it opens … (Quote from Scott Adams on Dilbert.Blog)

Enjoy!

O’Reilly’s New Compact Definition of Web 2.0

Web 2.0 has always been one of those nebulous concepts that has been difficult to concisely define. Each person seems to have a slightly different idea about what is and is not web 2.0. Tim O’Reilly’s original essay, What is Web 2.0, was quite lengthy, and he is now trying to define web 2.0 using a short, easy to remember definition:


Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is this: Build applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them. (This is what I’ve elsewhere called “harnessing collective intelligence.”) (Quote from Tim O’Reilly on O’Reilly Radar).

I am not sure that this is a business revolution as much as it is a consumer revolution that businesses can take advantage of by building “ applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them.” I think the key to web 2.0 is how the expectations of the users are changing. Only a few years ago, most consumers saw the Internet as a passive medium, like radio and television, to be watched and enjoyed without any direct involvement. Many consumers now expect to be able to participate in the online environment by commenting, uploading, or participating in the content in a number of ways. I think that the key to web 2.0 is consumer driven participation and interactivity. Businesses need to understand this fundamental change and focus on building online participation into their business models.

I do think that O’Reilly has a great start toward a more concise definition of web 2.0.

Portland Free Wireless is Live!

I have not been close enough to downtown to try it out firsthand, but several areas in Portland now have free wireless access from MetroFi. Click the image below to get a high resolution image (with zoom).

Clearspace Collaboration Environment from Jive Software

I was lucky enough to get an early preview of Clearspace from the Jive Software team, a local Portland, Oregon company. They have just starting talking about Clearspace on the Jive Talks blog with a recent post from Sam Lawrence. They have not yet released details, and portions of the product were in varying stages of completion when I played with it, so I will not go into any specific details here.

What I will say is that this product is cool. It is intuitive to use and has a “web 2.0” feel to it with modern collaboration functionality built into the system from the beginning. None of the retrofit feel that older applications have when someone tries to cram a bunch of new technology into an ancient product. This will be a product to test drive when Jive launches it in early 2007:

“The idea for Clearspace actually came from our customers, who through their conversations with our sales, marketing, professional services and customer support teams had been asking for many different collaborative feature additions to Jive Forums and Knowledge Base. Some of these were very specific, others borrowed from a lot of the collaborative elements of completely different point solutions. At the beginning of last year we took a big step back and realized that the sum of what was being requested was a completely new, much more comprehensive product.

So, a year ago we faced very tough decisions. Up to that point we had planned to address our customer requests through a combination of improvements to our existing products and/or building a couple of totally new products. Our big decision was was whether to build three products or one. The more we talked about it the more we recognized the massive benefit that could be realized by a single, unified, flexible architecture– sort of like that quote from Lord of the Rings–”one ring to unite them all.” (ok, it was really “rule them all” but that’s too harsh.)” (Quote from Sam Lawrence on Jive Talks)

Compiere Press Release

For anyone interesting in learning more about what I am doing at Compiere, you can read the press release issued today. Way cool … I’ve never been the subject of a press release before!

OSDL Shake-up: Reduces Staff by 1/3 and Stuart Cohen Leaves

The Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) in Beaverton, OR has just eliminated 9 technical and administrative positions at the labs. A staff of 19 people remain at OSDL including Tom Hanrahan in engineering, Diane Peters for legal work, Linus Torvalds, and Andrew Morton.

ZDnet writes that “CEO Stuart Cohen resigned to pursue opportunities with higher-level open-source software,” and that “Cohen’s resignation as CEO was coincidental and independent of the other changes at OSDL”. According to ComputerWorld, Cohen will be working with Portland and Seattle based venture capital firm OVP Venture Partners. Mike Temple will be moving the COO position into the CEO role.

The now smaller OSDL will focus on the following:

“The lab’s board concluded that a modified mission was appropriate because Linux is now mainstream, and companies have become adept on their own at some of the collaborative work OSDL was founded to oversee, Temple said Monday. The group is funded by IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Novell, Intel and several other computing companies.

OSDL’s middleman role–connecting customer requirements, computing-company resources and developers–remains unchanged, Temple said. “We will be a catalyst among those three, to bring them together, solve problems and create the code,” Temple said.

Funding freed up through the layoffs is set to go toward legal work, which the group’s members have found valuable, Temple added. The group either will contract with legal professionals or hire a staff attorney, he said.

In technical matters, the organization will stop focusing on projects defining broad categories of Linux–earlier examples including efforts for high-end servers, telecommunications gear, mobile phones and desktop computers. Instead, engineering work will emphasize narrower efforts to find areas where new software needs to be written.” (Quote from Zdnet)


“The OSDL is shifting its resources to focus on four key areas: continuing to provide a safe haven for key developers, sponsoring the work of Torvalds and others; providing increased legal support for Linux and open source to account for licensing and patent issues that are increasing in complexity (this expansion will complement current OSDL initiatives such as the Patent Commons, Osapa.org and the Linux Legal Defense Fund); supporting ongoing regional activities such as the Japanese Linux Symposium; and fostering closer collaboration among community developers, OSDL members and users to produce more code to advance open-source projects, OSDL officials said in a statement.” (Quote from eWeek)

Here is my take on the situation. I do not buy the “coincidence” argument. I find it very hard to believe that the CEO of any organization would just decide, completely of his own accord, to leave during a change of this magnitude. With a staff reduction of this relative size combined with a new strategic direction, Cohen’s leaving OSDL would not have been a coincidence. There are a few possibilities (caveat: this is pure speculation):

  • First, the board of directors may have “suggested” that Cohen leave due to any number of potential issues: dissatisfaction with his performance, lack of confidence in his ability to lead the organization under the new mission, …

  • Second, Cohen may not have wanted to stay under the new mission for any number of reasons: lack of agreement with the strategic change and new mission, expecting the job to be less exciting under the new mission and wanting to find greener pastures, …

Despite my skepticism about Cohen’s “coincidental” leaving, I do think that the new mission will be good for OSDL and for Linux. When OSDL was first formed, Linux as an open source project was less mature, and fewer contributors to the Linux kernel were sponsored by large companies who paid their salaries. As a result, the contributions tended to be made in areas of personal interest, which may or may not have been the areas needed to make Linux successful in large deployments of mission critical systems. OSDL helped to coordinate efforts and provide testing labs where Linux could be tested on large clustered systems not generally available to most people. Now, with companies like IBM and Intel doing more work toward sponsoring developers and helping with testing, OSDL’s original mission has become less important.

The focus on legal matters makes sense. With the proliferation of lawsuits, concerns over software patents, licensing concerns and other legal matters becoming top of mind, having an organization to focus on open source legal issues could be a great benefit. 2007 could be an interesting year for open source legal matters: the GPL is undergoing a revision, and the Microsoft / Novell agreements related to patents could be clarified. Many open source projects are run by small groups of individuals or small companies, and it would be great to have OSDL as a legal resource.

Web 2.0 Poster

A web 2.0 poster with all of the “cool” company logos just in time for the holidays.

Here is a little more about it on TechCrunch.