Monthly Archive for January, 2007

Microsoft Tries to Doctor Wikipedia

The short history of this story is this: Microsoft does not like the Wikipedia entry on Open XML. Since Wikipedia logs changes with information that can identify the source of the change, Microsoft decides that it would be a better idea to pay someone else to make their changes. Classy.

Doug Mahugh, a technical expert for the Microsoft format, Office Open XML, has identified himself as the Microsoft employee who contacted Jelliffe requesting his services.

In a comment posted on the popular Slashdot technology website, Mahugh published what he said was an excerpt from an email to Jelliffe, detailing “what I asked Rick to do”.

“Wikipedia has an entry on Open XML that has a lot of slanted language, and we’d like for them to make it more objective but we feel that it would be best if a non-Microsoft person were the source of any corrections,” reads the email Mahugh apparently wrote to Jelliffe.

“Would you have any interest or availability to do some of this kind of work? Your reputation as a leading voice in the XML community would carry a lot of credibility, so your name came up in a discussion of the Wikipedia situation today.”

Wales said the proper course would have been for Microsoft to write or commission a “white paper” on the subject with its interpretation of the facts, post it to an outside website and then link to it in the Wikipedia articles’ discussion forums.

“It seems like a much better, transparent, straightforward way,” Wales said. (Quotes from The Age)

Maybe this post is a wee bit snarky, but this is what happens when I blog from the airport prior to 6am without enough green tea :-)

Portland BarCamp Meetup on January 25

Our next informal Portland BarCamp Meetup has been scheduled! We have also settled on the fourth Thursday of every month as a regular date for the event. Any local techies are welcome to attend.

When: Thursday, January 25th
Time: 6:00pm – 9:00 pm
Where: Jive Software Office (317 SW Alder St Ste 500)
Sponsored by: Jive Software

Jive Software

Jive Software is located on Alder near 3rd. Parking is available in a nearby parking garage, and it is short walk from the Max (directions to Jive Software).

If you plan to attend, please RSVP on the Portland BarCamp Meetup wiki (RSVP required):

The meetup will be very informal and similar in format to previous meetings. We’ll do a few introductions, talk for a few minutes about organizing the BarCamp, and then see where the discussion goes.

If you would like to receive notifications about any last minute changes, future meetups, and other PortlandBarCamp communications, please join our Google Group to receive email announcements.

Google Groups
Subscribe to BarCampPortland

Email:

Browse Archives at groups.google.com

We have also created a BarCamp Portland Google Calendar for upcoming events and posted the event to Upcoming.org.

We are also trying to gain support for a real BarCamp event in Portland. We will start the planning process when we get enough people signed up on the Wiki, so please add yourself to the wiki if you want to attend a Portland BarCamp event!

Open Source as a Marketing Strategy and a Compiere Blog

Lately, I have been thinking about the different ways that an open source business model can benefit the companies that base their businesses on an open source product. Although there are many benefits, one of these benefits is that open source can be used as a marketing strategy. I blogged about this idea in some detail on the new Compiere Blog, and here is an excerpt:

Since Compiere is freely available for download, anyone can install the software, try it, and see if they want to use it in their environment. Many of these people will never generate any revenue for Compiere, but maybe they tell a few other people about Compiere, and maybe those people tell a few more people … This viral marketing helps to promote and market open source products with little involvement from companies like Compiere. Having an open source business model can generate a level of awareness that might otherwise cost a substantial amount of money to achieve through trade shows, advertising, etc.

Using open source as a marketing strategy requires a shift in thinking for anyone coming from a proprietary background. As open source companies, we need to encourage people to download our software for free – the more, the better! It does not matter to me that someone gets our software for free without paying Compiere a dime. Yes, they are benefiting from our hard work without giving anything in return, but all I need is for them to tell someone who will eventually want to attend training or purchase some type of support or other services from Compiere.

Open source companies also need to be a bit careful not to be too heavy handed with pushing people into revenue generation. We cannot (and do not want to) force people into purchasing support agreements or other services, because this would severely limit our ability to benefit from open source as a marketing strategy. Instead, we need to provide compelling services (support and others) that benefit our customers. Those customers who need and want our help will pay for it. (Quote from the Compiere Blog)

World (Portland) Explorer Tag Maps Courtesy of Flickr Data

I read about the new World Explorer from Yahoo today on O’Reilly Radar, and I decided to take a quick look at the map for Portland. A few interesting things turned up when I moused over some of the main tags to see the related tags.

  • The “Zoo” tag was fairly predictable: giraffe, animals, bear, etc.

  • “Edgefield” was related to McMenamins (not surprising since the Edgefield McMenamins is a very popular destination.)

  • OSCON was on the Portland map as a tag.

  • Beaverton, a sleepy and not always very nice suburb of Portland, relates to sunset, clouds, and sky – I can’t even hazard a guess on that one.

  • The most interesting: Mt. Tabor was only associated with cat. Apparently “cat people” gravitate toward Mt. Tabor.

I also noticed that going back to the map after closing my browser yielded slightly different results. I encourage you to have a look. It provided me with a few minutes of amusement anyway.

Chaos

Expect fewer and erratic posts from me in the next couple of months. I am selling my house in Hillsboro and moving to the east side of Portland. Moving is always a chaotic process. In other words, I will be kicked out of my house at random times of the day so that strange people can wander through, then I get to put everything I own into little boxes only to take them back out inevitably losing certain items for an indefinite period of time.

Despite the less than fun moving process, I am excited about moving to the east side of Portland. We are looking forward to living within walking distance of coffee shops, vegetarian restaurants, grocery stores, and more. It will also be nice to live closer to downtown.

If anyone is looking for a great house with good schools, a quiet neighborhood and suburban living, I have a great house in Hillsboro! Information about my Realtor and the house can be found here and you can visit my Flickr account to see way too many pictures of the house.

iPhone Envy

I just bought a Samsung BlackJack in November. It is WAY better than my previous device, the BlackBerry. It looks great, is small and light, has a bigger screen, has better Internet access, and has a camera. Honestly, it’s the first cell phone that I’ve really loved to use. The only drawback is that it runs Windows … it occasionally gets a bit tweaky, which like most Windows devices can only be fixed by a reboot (not a very convenient solution).

Today, I saw the news about the iPhone and developed a serious case of gadget envy. A device with Internet, email, wifi, iPod, even thinner than my BlackJack, easy synchronization with iTunes, and very cool looking. I already have Cingular … now I just need to find an excuse to buy a new device.

Compiere’s New Partner Program

Today we announced our new Authorized Partner Program at Compiere. As many of you know, designing a partner program within an open source company has a unique set of challenges. The program must be designed to provide Compiere and our partners with enough revenue to sustain our businesses while creating product offerings at appropriate price points for customers. This is not unique to open source companies; however, most open source companies have to find creative ways to achieve this balance without relying on revenue from product license sales. The new partner program is designed to provide the resources partners need to build their businesses by providing consulting services, training, and support, since Compiere partners tend to have business models similar to value-added resellers, system integrators, and service consulting firms.

When I started working at Compiere at the end of November, they had a pretty good idea about what they wanted from a new Partner Program, but they needed someone to pull everything together to define the exact specifications for the program, write brochures and other promotional materials, and draft a completely new legal agreement between Compiere and our partners. My skills are a bit diverse (I’ve done everything from UNIX sys admin to market research on roller bearing usage in steel mills), and at a small company, the “just get it done” attitude means that I can get my hands into all sorts of fun things and do something a little bit different every day. I really love working for a company where I can jump in headfirst and quickly have a real impact on the company. Prior to Compiere, I had always been at very large companies, most recently Intel, where as one of tens of thousands of employees, it can become very difficult to see how your work impacts the profitability of the company. Additionally, the bureaucracy inherent in large corporations can result in much slower reaction time, and it can take many months to launch even the smallest program. I started working on the partner program at Compiere during the last week of November and the program launched just over a month later, which is amazing when you take into consideration the holiday downtime and the effort involved in getting a new employee (me) up to speed!

I love my job!

Second Life Moves to Open Source

Second Life has just announced that the Second Life client has been released under an open source license, and they described their move to open source as “inevitable”:

“At Linden, we have always been strong advocates of the use of open standards and the advantages of using open source products. Though Second Life makes abundant use of non-standard technologies, our basic UDP protocol message system for example, we rely on open standards and open source implementations when appropriate and available. Since many of the components that will make up this network are not yet done, we are not publishing long white papers or RFCs at this time — instead, we are giving everyone what we have along with a goal of producing those open standards with the input and assistance of the community that has brought Second Life to where it is now.

Releasing the source now is our next invitation to the world to help build this global space for communication, business, and entertainment. We are eager to work with the community and businesses to further our vision of our space.” (Quote from the Second Life Blog)

I also found it interesting that Linden Lab specified the GNU GPL version 2, rather than releasing it under the GPL and future versions … another company hedging its bets on the still under development GPL v3.

I think this is a great move for Linden Lab, and an astute business decision. By releasing the client software under open source, residents can modify their client experience, while Linden Lab continues to provide the server side code, which is where they make their revenue. Linden Lab is providing a more flexible environment for users, which should translate to additional users, and at the same time, they continue to have the revenue stream required to keep Second Life in business.

Portland BarCamp Meetup on January 25

Our next informal Portland BarCamp Meetup has been scheduled! We have also settled on the fourth Thursday of every month as a regular date for the event. Any local techies are welcome to attend.

When: Thursday, January 25th
Time: 6:00pm – 9:00 pm
Where: Jive Software Office (317 SW Alder St Ste 500)
Sponsored by: Jive Software

Jive Software

Jive Software is located on Alder near 3rd. Parking is available in a nearby parking garage, and it is short walk from the Max (directions to Jive Software).

If you plan to attend, please RSVP on the Portland BarCamp Meetup wiki (RSVP required):

The meetup will be very informal and similar in format to previous meetings. We’ll do a few introductions, talk for a few minutes about organizing the BarCamp, and then see where the discussion goes.

If you would like to receive notifications about any last minute changes, future meetups, and other PortlandBarCamp communications, please join our Google Group to receive email announcements.

Google Groups
Subscribe to BarCampPortland

Email:

Browse Archives at groups.google.com

We have also created a BarCamp Portland Google Calendar for upcoming events and posted the event to Upcoming.org.

We are also trying to gain support for a real BarCamp event in Portland. We will start the planning process when we get enough people signed up on the Wiki, so please add yourself to the wiki if you want to attend a Portland BarCamp event!

MySQL Hedges Bets on GPL

MySQL “kind of sort of (not really) changes its license model”. Until recently, MySQL was licensed under GPLv2 or later, but they have changed their license to be GPLv2 only. This may sound like a small change, but it is a significant (and smart change). Anyone licensed under GPLv2 or later will automatically convert to the GPLv3 when it is released. This gives MySQL the option to decide whether (or not) to move to the GPLv3, instead of automatically converting upon release of GPLv3. MySQL will have the opportunity to review the final version of the GPLv3 license and make an informed decision about which license makes the most sense for MySQL’s business needs.

Not every company (or project / organization) can change their license at will:

MySQL owns the copyright to its database code so can change the license any time it likes (and indeed offer the software under dual licenses). While the company is not ruling out a change to GPL v3 once it is completed, it is hedging its bets in case it does not like the results.” (Quote from Matthew Aslett on Computer Business Review Online)