Operating System Convergence and the Palm Linux Announcement

Details are still a bit light, but Palm announced that they would be building a mobile computing platform based on Linux and open source.

The platform is described as a “new foundation for Palm.” … The Analyst presentation concluded without any technical or developer details revealed about the new Linux based platform. Many questions remain to be answered as to what the official name will be, what Linux technologies are included, how Palm OS Garnet compatibility will be handled and what the development environment will be composed of. Colligan ended the Q&A session stating that the Linux based platform will be a integral “core technology” for Palm for the foreseeable future. (Quote from Ryan Kairer on Palm Infocenter)

I suspect that this is actually part of a larger trend toward operating system convergence with Linux at the center of this trend as the primary open source operating system. Companies building set top boxes, mobile products, and other devices realize that there is not much value in maintaining an entire operating system when the value is higher up the stack. By using the Linux kernel and other Linux operating system components, companies like Palm can focus on the software above the kernel that adds real value to the product. We’ll know more when they release the details, but my guess is that they will eventually replace low level PalmOS components with the Linux kernel and other parts of the operating system while focusing more on developing the user facing software.

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Wireless Power Moves from Science Fiction to Reality

It sounds like something out of Star Trek. Power broadcast through thin air to charge electronic devices like computer peripherals, MP3 players, cell phones, medical devices, and more. Darren Murph at Engadget sums up the idea pretty well, “energy without wires has always seemed like one of those novel concepts that sounds terrific in theory, but remains a tad difficult to imagine hitting the commercial scene for some time to come. Apparently, all that is about to become nonsense, as a Pennsylvania-based startup is set to capture the wireless-loving hearts of, um, everyone when it tackles contactless power products.”

An article in Business 2.0 Magazine has a few more details about the company and their upcoming products:

A startup called Powercast, along with the more than 100 companies that have inked agreements with it, is about to start finding out. Powercast and its first major partner, electronics giant Philips, are set to launch their first device powered by electricity broadcast through the air.

It may sound futuristic, but Powercast’s platform uses nothing more complex than a radio–and is cheap enough for just about any company to incorporate into a product. A transmitter plugs into the wall, and a dime-size receiver (the real innovation, costing about $5 to make) can be embedded into any low-voltage device. The receiver turns radio waves into DC electricity, recharging the device’s battery at a distance of up to 3 feet.

Picture your cell phone charging up the second you sit down at your desk, and you start to get a sense of the opportunity. How big can it get? “The sky’s the limit,” says John Shearer, Powercast’s founder and CEO. He estimates shipping “many millions of units” by the end of 2008. (Quote from Business 2.0)

The technology is not quite ready to charge large consumer devices like laptops, which currently require more power than what can be effectively generated by this technology; however, as manufactures continue to develop laptops with increasingly lower power consumption, this might become feasible in a few years.

Personally, I am pretty excited about this. I tend to charge my electronic devices in the living room, and I am constantly tripping over cell phone chargers, laptop cords, iPod connectors, etc. Being able to plug a charger into an out of the way location to charge a cell phone sitting on a table without any wires is really cool!

GPL v3: Yet Another Draft

The FSF has released yet another draft of the GPL v3 today. Needless to say, people are getting pretty frustrated by the lack of progress and difficulty in completing this update to the GPL. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols on Linux-Watch considers how much longer it could possibly take: “Mid-2007? At least. Late 2007? Quite likely. 2008? Could be. 2010!? I wouldn’t be surprised. I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

Allison Randal at O’Reilly is pretty skeptical, and I have to admit that I have heard similar skepticism from others, including many who have been strong supporters of the FSF for years:

“I will say this much: I’m a believer in free software, and in the importance of free software in advancing the freedoms of individuals. But I’m beginning to lose confidence in the FSF as the primary defender of free software principles. The image they’re projecting right now is more of an ineffectual nanny slapping the wrists of naughty children than it is of the bold community leader confidently striding on to the visionary future of the free software movement. It’s unfortunate. Maybe we’ll see change in this draft and the next. Maybe. (Quote from Allison Randal on the O’Reilly Radar)

At one point, I was following the changes and keeping up with the progress toward GPL v3, but I have to admit that toward the end of last year I gave up. I’ll read the final version if they ever manage to complete it.

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News: Online or Print Format?

InfoWorld announced today that it is folding the print magazine to focus on events and online content. I think this is a good move for InfoWorld, and it made me think about how I personally use online and print content.

I still subscribe to several magazines, and it is a great format for anything that is not time sensitive – cooking, business analysis, etc.; however, I gave up my print copies of technology trade magazines and other news sources long ago in favor of online access facilitated by RSS feeds (official news sources, blogs, and podcasts). Technology moves way too quickly to be suited to longer lead time print format publications. Even articles in daily newspapers are usually out of date by the time the print version arrives on your doorstep.

Most of my daily news comes from podcasts, which I listen to during any downtime activities (getting ready for work in the morning, doing dishes / laundry, grocery shopping, driving, and much more). Podcasts are an ideal news format for me, since I can get quick snippets of news from NPR, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNET, InfoWorld, … If I need more details on any story, I can always check my RSS feeds or Google News to find a few in depth articles with more information.

Over time, I think that we will start to see news moving away from print sources in the direction of online content. Like with the InfoWorld example, this will happen first for technology publications. Although most newspapers have embraced online content, Newspapers will be one of the last to move their news to an online-only format. They are still the best source of news in rural areas and other places where access to the Internet is more difficult and for older readers who may never be comfortable using the Internet as a primary source of news. I could even see newspapers gradually shifting more of the news content onto the Internet while focusing the print version on news analysis, lifestyle (fashion, cooking, travel, etc.) and other features (comics, crossword puzzles, etc.) I still think that magazines have their place, but not as a primary source of news.

OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) at the BarCamp Portland Meetup

I was lucky enough to get to play with a real OLPC last night at the BarCamp Portland Meetup. I was surprised by how durable it looked. The keyboard looked like you could dump an entire drink on it without any adverse consequences; however, we refrained from testing it!

A few people commented that these would be great for kids … regardless of whether they are located in an emerging economy. In places like the US, Europe and other areas, we might be willing to pay a little more to have a durable laptop for the under 8 years old crowd. This might help subsidize the costs and make it easier to provide an OLPC to more children around the world. In addition to providing a stable revenue stream among customers willing to pay a little more knowing that profits were going to a good cause, opening these up for sale to others would increase the volume enough to help reduce the production costs. I’ve heard that they are having a hard time making these for less than $100, and additional volume might help.

Thanks again to Alex for bringing it and generously letting us play with his toys!

Web 2.0: What CIOs Want vs. What CIOs Have

I was just reading Richard MacManus’ coverage of Forrester’s recent reports about web 2.0 in the enterprise:

“Forrester Research has just released two reports concerning ‘web 2.0′ in the enterprise. Forrester recently surveyed 119 CIOs on the topic and their answers illustrate what IT honchos want – and don’t want – from social software technologies such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, RSS, social networking, and content tagging.

According to the report entitled ‘CIOs Want Suites For Web 2.0′, the enterprise Web 2.0 market “is beginning to consolidate”. Apparently CIOs have a strong desire to purchase web 2.0 products “as a suite, as well as an equally strong desire to purchase these technologies from large, incumbent software vendors.” 61% of respondents indicated that they would prefer both a suite solution and a large, incumbent vendor. According to the report, “integration issues, longevity concerns, and the occasional lack of polish” are counting against small vendors.” (Quote from Richard MacManus on Read/WriteWeb)

The data is interesting, but I am not sure that Forrester was asking the right questions or the right people. My experience with web 2.0, and other innovative technologies (open source, etc.) is that there is a big gap between what many CIOs want / think they have and what is really happening within their organization. Those of us who are passionate about web 2.0 technologies just tend to use them. This often means that we bring things like IM, wikis, and more into our corporate life as productivity tools regardless of whether or not the technology is officially sanctioned. For example, Intelpedia, an internal Intel wiki, was started as a grass roots effort on a test server without “official” buy in because Josh Bancroft and other Intel employees thought that Intel needed an internal wiki to help manage information. A better study might have been to ask people a few levels below the CIO about the web 2.0 technologies currently being used in their organization.

CIOs may want web 2.0 suites from larger, incumbent software providers, but I suspect that the reality of what is actually used within enterprises over the next few years will differ significantly from this CIO vision.

Web2.Open

A few people are organizing a BarCamp style event dubbed Web2.Open to coincide with the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco on April 17th and 18th.

“This open event blends some pre-scheduled content with an open grid where the attendees fill in the sessions they either want to discuss or present themselves. It is the perfect space to provide the community at large with a place to connect with other attendees, learn more about elements of Web 2.0, and share one’s knowledge and experiences.” (Quote From the Web2.Open Site).

I found this thanks to Tara’s Twitter feed.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to attend or not. It’s pretty hard for me to justify a purely web 2.0 conference with my open source job, unless I get invited to speak on an open source or community panel (hint, hint).

Save the date! BarCamp Portland Tech Unconference, May 11-12

I am pleased to announce that BarCamp is coming to Portland on May 11-12! We will also be kicking off the regular DemoCamp event series during BarCamp to highlight tech startup activity in the Portland area.

Tech + Geek + Culture. The event for the Portland tech community, produced BY the Portland tech community.

What is BarCamp? It is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from participants.

BarCamp is a FREE event and the content is determined by the attendees. The event will be hosted at CubeSpace, which has a number of conference rooms for breakout sessions, a large main meeting area, wireless access, easy access to public transportation, bike storage, and ample parking. Thanks to Eva and David at CubeSpace for signing up as space sponsors for the event (and to Ray at AboutUs for sponsoring the additional space costs).

We need your help to make BarCamp Portland a fantastic event for the tech community in Portland. Here’s what you can do…

1) Forward this information on to people in the Portland area that may have an interest in attending. As we have done little marketing of the event (so far), assume that your local tech social network doesn’t know about it yet.

2) If you have not already added yourself to the BarCamp Portland wiki page as an attendee, please do so. This will help us get a more accurate attendance count and plan accordingly (you want food, right?):

http://barcamp.org/BarCampPortland

3) Add a session idea for the event. This could be a talk, a demo, a roundtable discussions – whatever! Please add it to the Proposed Sessions section on the wiki page:

http://barcamp.org/BarCampPortland

4) Attend the BarCamp Portland Meetup this Thursday (03/22) evening 5:30-8pm at Jive Software downtown. Free beer on tap (thanks, Jive!), the opportunity to network with the tech community in Portland, and help plan for BarCamp Portland. More details:

http://barcamp.org/BarCampPortlandMeetups

5) Help identify sponsors. CubeSpace and AboutUs are already onboard as sponsors for the space and related costs (and Jive Software has been our ongoing meetup and planning sponsor). We are looking for sponsors to cover food, drinks, and t-shirts.

I hope to see you this Thursday evening at Jive Software for our monthly tech meetup and BarCamp Portland planning meeting!