September 30, 2003
OSCON article out
If you're in Germany then grab a copy of the new PHPMagazin. An article by yours truly on the state of Open Source software as witnessed at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention is the highlight. (haha).
Hurricane Steve and the coke bong
Our man in the eye of the storm is having..umm..problems. He also points to this article. The most frightening thing is the use of the word "just" in the following: `Usually it's just a bit of dope _ they've probably nicked it from their mum's purse and brought it along to show off.'
Welcome back Stefan
"Just doin my bit...
... to keep the dream alive folks". I've mentioned this before but I'm a Robbie Williams (post TakeThat) fan. Today I went out and bought the new live album. Yes - bought. The complete concert is out on DVD in 2 months: "What We Did Last Summer" - umm..nothing much really. Ah well.
Doesn't make you want to ...
So there I was, standing third in line this evening with some last minute shopping. Waiting for my turn with the stressed out cashiers - when a packet of soup from the guy at the front of the queue fell off the belt onto the floor right next to the couple who were second in line. So of course they quickly picked it up for him - did they hell! They just looked down at the packet, shrugged - and proceeded to put their stuff on the belt. So I waited for a moment thinking they would surely pick it up for him - but no. So in the end I made a point of going forward, picking up the packet and giving it back to the guy in front. I could have killed. But really it made me more sad than angry.
Mac OS X 10.3 pending
Looks like the release of Mac OS X 10.3 is not that far off. Note the change to the shiny logo.
September 29, 2003
Hitting a century (nearly)
As I write this, the number of Cocoon GetTogether participants is at 98 (from 14 different countries). Wow! Only 2 to go befrore we reach triple digits.
Update: Now at 99...oh the suspense.....
Later: Damn :), Steven had it before I checked. 100 !!!
September 28, 2003
During the past couple of weeks I've travelled in cars equipped with mobile navigation systems and I'm hooked. I'm not that fond of driving - especially when I have to find my way to a place I've never been before. And of course that's where navigation systems come in handy. So, because I already have a Loox PDA I decided to go with the mobile navigation solution of TomTom Navigator 2 and a Holux 270 CF GPS. The bundle arrived yesterday complete with external antenna and car fittings. My Loox is now equipped with a 256 MB SD card so that it can hold the complete map of Germany. A quick trip round town yesterday proved quite successful although I'm still working out how best to mount the PDA in the car.
September 26, 2003
We've all been suffering from Autumn colds for the last couple of days and today I had to go down to Bonn for a meeting related to hopefully raising Cocoon and Open Source on the EU radar. We'll see. Anyway, I feel terrible this evening - so send sympathy. Thanks!
September 25, 2003
Autumn is here
Cool misty mornings with sunny chestnut coloured days.
Come back Stefan!
The two months are up!
ActiveState goes viral
ActiveState has been acquired by Sophos, a provider of anti-virus software. What does this mean when it comes to ActiveStates role in the Open Source world and/or O'Reilly universe? And what were the reasons for the move in the first place? Hmmm....
Empowering the vendor!
Some late night pondering leads to this:
The Internet has empowered the consumer to a level never before known. With the click of the mouse we can visit product specific forums, written by the consumers for the consumers. These product forums, where every aspect of the product is discussed to a level where even the product manager would probably need to research the answers, have become the hunting ground for those consumers about to make a purchase.
Armed with all the information garnered from the forums, the consumers approach the vendor and fire all the missiles they've gathered: "I want a discount - your product costs 30 Euros less in Outer Mongolia", "Does the product have the newest firmware xx version", "I want the version that doesn't have the bug in the ultra wash program" and so on and so on.
The Internet is inverting the relationship between customer and vendor. The consumer is becoming fully informed about the vendor and the product in question. Good for us - right?
Perhaps, but then again - perhaps not (in the long run).
Isn't the Internet enabling the consumers to form monopolies, buying monopolies? And aren't monopolies bad in the long run? Just as vendor monopolies are considered bad for a free market, so - probably - are buying monopolies. Just the other way around.
Will we get to a point where the vendors need empowering? Look at the way the music and film vendors failed to grasp what was happening to the "value" of their products and the way the Internet changed the method of distribution. And they still don't get it.
In the same way vendors of products such as my new Touran still probably don't realize that I can get better product information from the independent Touran forum than from the VW homepage. Before and after I buy. Why don't VW employees hang out there like bees near a honey pot?
In the long run we will need vendors that are just as Internet savvy as their consumers. And we as the empowered consumers need to help them to "get it".
September 24, 2003
Later: Oh the shame, Armin makes a comment and points here. I'm now subscribed to your weblog Armin :)
Toll Collect - the disaster continues
A few days ago I wrote about the problems Toll Collect is having rolling out their toll solution for trucks on German highways. Well today, the next episode of the saga unfolds, with Toll Collect recalling defective on-board units. In a letter sent out to the trucking companies, Toll Collect lists all the defects that have so far been reported: "Toll free is displayed - although this is not the case", "Device does not respond to input", "Different toll amounts for the same part of the highway", "Device cannot be turned off". Of course the defective devices will be replaced free of charge.
Russ vs. Scoble - or: The fame you didn't want
Read all about it. Notice how someone like Russ, who was pretty much unknown to the world this time last year, is now at the center of stuff like this. Again this shows the power the Web gives to us little people. Use it wisely. Peace.
September 23, 2003
The best opening film sequence ever
My wife is out this evening, so it's time to fire up the DVD player and watch the best opening film sequence ever - Top Gun. "Up there with the best of the best". Ah well, you have my age I suppose.
Quotes: "You don't own that plane - the taxpayer does!". "No points for second place". More here.
Back from a busy weekend. We went down to the christening of Frank's daughter Fiona. Unfortunately the trip down took 6 hours instead of the 3 1/2 it took us to get back yesterday. That left little time to sample the new wine which grows around the area. A pity. Yesterday I took a day off to pick up our new VW Touran in the Volkswagen Autostadt in Wolfsburg.
September 19, 2003
Lazy Pirate - me
September 18, 2003
Cocoon is everywhere
I was just using my new T610 to surf the T-Mobile homepage and I got an error - a Cocoon error! Up until now I wasn't aware that T-Mobile were using Cocoon there. And I think they need help :-).
Steven's getting married - or is he?
Look who's coming to dinner
3 of these were washed up on the Spanish coast recently. The largest was 11 meters long and 140 kilos in weight.
The East Cost of the US is now beginning to feel the effects of Isabel.
The Bubblet cometh
Over on VentureBlog, Andrew Anker predicts a Bubblet (nice word) in the space of Social Networking.
September 17, 2003
Cocoon GetTogether Update
Well, we've reached 55 registrations from 12 countries - which is already a great number considering most people register a couple of weeks beforehand. Also we've got some media sponsoring from Javamagazin. Thanks Sebastian! I also know of at least one large company who is still working out how many people to send. This is an event I'm really really looking forward to. Even though much of my work nowadays is more on the business development of Open Source projects like Cocoon, it's still so great to see the community come together like this.
Cocoon in a nutshell
September 16, 2003
New from Apple
Just announced in Paris: New 15" Powerbook, upgraded 12" and 17" models, Wireless mouse and keyboard.
September 15, 2003
For whom the toll tolls
Take a look at the state of the current German toll collecting project and you may wonder just what has happened to a country that used to be so on the cutting edge of innovations. But first things first.
Toll is not that widespread in the European union. Some countries have toll booths on certain autobahns and some countries make you buy a sticker to show you've paid the toll for say a year.
Germany has only recently begun to think about toll collecting. The decision was first made to collect toll from trucks and based on the distance they drive on German motorways. So far so good.
A consortium of companies, including Daimler Chrysler and Deutsche Telekom founded TollCollect the company that is now responsible for implementing the project. "So they are building the toll-booths?" you might ask...
Well no. You see the plan was bigger and umm.....better. The idea was to use automatic "toll-bridges" built over the autobahns and satellite based GPS systems to track the trucks. Each truck was to be equipped with a device (the German term is "On-Board-Unit" - really) that registered which autobahn the truck was currently driving on and the amount of toll. The toll amount varies according to the type of truck and the autobahn the truck is driving on.
Apart from the automatic registration using the on-board-unit, the brave truck driver can also register at toll-terminals that have been set up in various gas stations. And it's possible to register the route using an Internet based application.
The concept was applauded and supported by the German government and was turned into a very prestigious project capable of showing how far ahead Germany is technologically. A first date was set and everything was groovy.
Sounds good doesn't it? Only one small problem - it doesn't work.
The first date - the 31st of August - came and went. No toll. The next date was set - the 2nd of November. Now it doesn't look as though that date will be met either. The reasons? Oh, various ones - for example: not enough trucks equipped with the devices (only 80 000 of the necessary 450 000 trucks equipped - and only half those installed actually work), the on-board-units that do work don't register the correct toll (the same route registers with different prices on different days), route-registration via the Internet application takes a quick 40 .... umm.. minutes and there are various other problems.
One of the consequences of the delay is that the sum of around 990 million Euros will be lost. Money that the German government has already spent.
Currently the chances of the toll-collecting starting on the 1st of November is given at a very optimistic 50:50. Chances are we won't see toll-collection on German autobahns until somewhere in the first quarter of 2004.
And probably a few folk looking for new jobs - real soon now.
By the way .. does this sound like any project you know?
English language Open Source magazines
Someone asked me for information on good English language (either US or UK) magazines on Open Source and Java themes. Something like the German iX in English. Any suggestions?
Spam mail business model
I get so much spam mail now that I wonder if anyone is actually making money by sending spam? What's the business model behind it. I assume enough people actually click on those stupid links and then buy the product or pay indirectly through the dialers. How much do the spam mailers earn through sending spam?
Update :. Check the comments - Frank "has been told" (yeah right :-)) stuff.
Google Frequent Searchers
Fear and Loathing in Norwich
Cocoon GetTogether Venue pictures
Music for the others
Now, having 3 growing kids sort of influences the music you listen to. As with any generation I feel that most of the music being produced now is pretty awful. Quick sugar pop like Maltesers. Every now and again though, I come across stuff I actually like and then listen to a lot. Today (on a long bicycle ride from the dentist to work) I listened to the Evanescence album "Fallen" on my iPod. I caught them on MTV recently and their single is pretty high in the charts here. And Wow. It's really good stuff - but forget "Bring Me to Life". Wait for a rainy, cold Autumn (Fall) day and then listen to "My Immortal". Don't jump.
September 14, 2003
Who needs ordered letters?
Joi Ito has this interesting post on the importance (or non-importance) of letter ordering.
Düsseldorf Airport is currently closed due to several bomb threats. Today is the last day of Summer vacation here and 60.000 people were expected to pass through that airport today. The Airport received several bomb threats yesterday and this morning. The airport has been closed and police are searching for any explosive devices.
Update:The 3rd largest German airport went back to full operations at 6:10 pm this evening. A total of 7 threats had been received via telephone. No bombs were found. The local government lifted the night-flight ban for tonight to clear the backlog of flights in and out of Düsseldorf.
Christopher is into "experiments", which normally means mixing whatever he can find into some semi-fluid state and spreading it through the house. So today I remembered one of the first "experiments" I did as a kid - growing sugar crystals. Of course the Internet came in handy in finding out how much sugar you need. Now we wait.
September 13, 2003
New Mobile (hopefully)
So in the end I went for the T 610, which I was thinking about when I bought the 3650. Just managed to get one on EBay pretty cheap. Let's hope I don't just get an empty box :).
September 12, 2003
RSS at Seybold
Sam has put his RSS slides up.
I noticed a new Google feature today. It's counting how many times I search. How long until you get 10 free searches a day and then the next 10 cost $0.01 each? Business model.
Update Hmm...it's gone again. Thanks Steve. That's strange - and I didn't take a screenshot. Boo. Anyway, there was a sort of meter thing below the search box and an arrow indicating how many searches I had previously done (counted using a cookie).
More advice for Russ
I'm sure I read this somewhere - but I can't remember where. Anyway, next time you go for a job interview, make sure you have this question on your list: "Does your company have a weblog policy?": Then watch the reaction. If the interviewer asks what a weblog is then leave immediately.
September 11, 2003
9.11 + 2
As this day ends in Europe - remember. Although it's now 2 years ago, I think the 11th of September 2001 is a day that will be remembered the world over for many years to come. Everything changed.
Germany used to have very strict laws about discounts, rebates etc. A while ago the law was changed and now every shop is basically free to provide whatever form of discount or bonus they like. One common form is the bazar model - meaning you haggle with the kind (yeah right) salesperson about the price you are willing to pay. "Yeah I know it says 500 € - I'll give you 475 €". Another model (now used commonly in supermarkets) is the bonus model. They hand out a "customer card" which you have to present when buying in that particular shop. If you buy stuff from them with a total value of say 5000 € - they'll give you a voucher for 2.50 € (ok, that's a bit exaggerated). Anyway, the supermarket I shop at is currently trying to "force" their bonus card on every customer that passes through the shop. Which is especially fun when the shop is packed with shoppers. "Do you know about our bonus program?" This would be fine if it wasn't the cashier asking. So, there I stood, in this 4 mile long queue of people waiting to pay for their evening shopping. Each customer being lectured on the great bonus program. Can we move this line QUICKER please? No I don't want your f**ing bonus card. Leave me alone. Not to mention the fact that you now need to carry about 2000 bonus cards around to make sure you have the right one with you when shopping.
First off, apologies to my friends on #mobitopia. I just haven't had the time lately to join in with the mobile gang. However I hope to at least get in on a little more of the action by getting a new mobile phone. Yes - another one. I like my 3650 - but it's just to big to carry around comfortably. So I'm looking for suggestions. Interested in a swap? I have a 3650 and T68i - both in good condition. I like the T610 and Frank suggested the Motorola V600. Here's what I'm looking for: Small enough for pockets; bluetooth; tri-band; color screen; camera; java; web/email; coolness.... :)
Anna Lindh dies
The Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh dies from knife-wounds she received in an attack yesterday. In a few days, Sweden is set to vote on whether to join the Euro. Anna Lindh was a strong campaigner for the Euro.
A couple of weeks ago we were in Gothenburg and the Yes/No campaigners were everywhere.
September 10, 2003
Blogger pro hoodie
I have a Blogger pro weblog account. Hopefully I'll get my hoodie soon :).
Germany beats Scotland
2:1. But for anyone outside Germany that probably doesn't mean anything. Fact is that the German trainer lashed out at the German media after the last game (Germany played 0:0 against Island). In a "landmark" live interview on German TV after that game (and using extremely "strong" language) he criticized the German TV reporters and "so-called" experts for being overly negative about the German team. After the interview the press gave the German trainer Rudi Völler the nickname "Rambo Rudi". His sermon seems to have worked though, as the match tonight was quite good.
Cool weblog application
Scrabblog. Now waiting for TimesCrosswordBlog and ChessPuzzleBlog.
I didn't realize you could do this until listening to the Google interview on NPR. Go to Google and type in "3kg + 4lbs" into the search box. Hit search. Ooooh. That's so cool. It's all explained here. But of course you knew that already.
September 09, 2003
Eyes on this
An Apple a day
Pre-order your Replica 1 now. It doesn't come with a keyboard, power-supply or monitor - but for $199 you can own a replica of the original Apple I.
ApacheCon 2003 icons
September 08, 2003
On the subject of new products
Anyone who was at last year's Cocoon GetTogether and saw us demo a very preview release of the Cocoon sitemap debugger may want to make sure he (or she) grabs a CD with the new sunBow version on it. The first Cocoon real-time sitemap debugger is now included with sunBow (along with a few other enhancements).
40 GB iPod
Apple is now offering a 40GB iPod. Makes my 10GB version seem very small in comparison. At the moment the new one is only listed on the German Apple Store site and not on the US one (as far as I can see).
Update: The US shop now reflects the new iPods. Good morning.
September 05, 2003
Google as an employer
Russell is checking out the job scene in the US and comments on an ad from Google. When I visited Google in July, I chatted to Ovidiu about the number of applications they get. And be assured - they get masses. Basically due to the fact that there are so many people out of work in that area and few companies left that are still hiring. Any applicant will need to make sure that their CV stands out. Interesting company to work for, I'm sure.
Angel investors in da (European) house?
Reading about how Friendster got a $1M investment by angel investors and I wonder whether this sort of thing happens in Europe too? You never seem to read about the ex CEO of a leading European new economy company (hmm..were there any?) investing his pocket-money into the startups that are presumably still starting up. Or are they?
September 04, 2003
Sounds like T-Mobile
A court in Hamburg, Germany today ruled that a site called "be-mobile.de" sounds too much like "t-mobile.de" and therefore must remove itself from the Net. (via Heise). Ho hum.
Registration now open!
The Cocoon GetTogether is now open for registration. Lots of updated information on the page.
September 03, 2003
Kids back again
Our 2 eldest just arrived back from their week long visit with Mum in the UK. Now the family is complete again and peace will reign over Norfolk once more :-).
September 02, 2003
Possible impact: 21. March 2014
Read this and plan your vacation carefully.
We get 24
The American series "24" starts in Germany today. I've seen a few episodes of the first season, and it looks very good.
September 01, 2003
Back to work today after 3 weeks vacation. Although I started checking my work email last week I still have around 1500 in my Inbox. Ho hum...