March 31, 2004
How many licenses do I need?
Yesterday I was invited to speak about Open Source to some senior managers of a large corporation. We already work for them building enterprise applications based on Open Source frameworks such as Apache Cocoon. However this time I was to talk about Open Source to the boss of the boss of the people we normally work with. The main subject of the presentation was to be "What is Open Source anyway" or thereabouts.
Now even though this particular corporation is already using Open Source to build things like global enterprise portals, the boss-boss hadn't really shown that much interest in the subject. Until yesterday.
The presentation began well and I launched in to a brief overview of Open Source licenses - when he stopped me. "Just a moment", he said, "how many of these licenses do I need?" I paused, unsure what to reply, when he continued "I mean, if I install this framework stuff on say 50 servers in our company, do I then need 50 licenses?" And then it clicked and I explained that an Open Source license is - well - not exactly the same as say a license to use a commercial product. "An Open Source license is more like a book of rules on how to use the software", I explained.
And so for the rest of the presentation, which went pretty well, I remembered to think like someone who has been using commercial software for decades and provide some additional remarks that helped him understand the differences between Open Source and the world as he knew it.
Open Source is coming, says Microsoft
The Register points to this Google cached article on how Microsoft is planning to release "non core" code to the "community". The main fuel for moves like this lies in the wish of Microsoft to apply the success of Open Source communities to their own offerings. Something that they are already successfully doing in the world of weblogs.
Free Cocoon Book chapters
I have been in contact with SAMS, the publisher of our Cocoon book. They have allowed us to provide a free download of Chapter 6 (A User's look at the Cocoon Architecture) and Chapter 1 (An Introduction to Internet Applications). Chapter 1 basically details the history of building Internet/Web applications and outlines why Cocoon is the best choice when considering a platform for multi-channel applications today. It also reveals how long I've been doing this stuff.
March 29, 2004
Strange popping sounds
My Powerbook has started making strange popping sounds every now and again. A cracking/popping sound as though the loudspeaker is having a fit - quite loud. But it goes away too and things are silent again. I haven't been able to find out what could be causing it. It started a week or so ago. Very strange.
March 28, 2004
Bertrand talks about the (Google) Henzingers moving back to Europe to raise their children and take on positions at EFPL. Google also plans on opening an engineering center in Switzerland - so surely that's no coincidence.
Yesterday was my last long run in preparation for the Easter half-marathon. I managed 20 KMs in just under 2 1/2 hours. No speed medal for that but I'm quite amazed that I can now actually run for that length of time without collapsing. It hurt though.
March 26, 2004
EAI with Apache Cocoon
Free Culture - for free
Lawrence Lessig provides his new book "Free Culture" for free.
Then shut it down!
Still catching up but this episode is my favorite so far. Josh tells the President to do just the things I would have told him to do. Yeah right. I was able to buy the complete season 1 on DVD from eBay for just 20 € - so I'm now looking forward to watching West Wing legally (note: the show is not aired in Germany).
March 25, 2004
Move over CeBIT
I really think CeBIT has outlived its main purpose as fair for business IT and should be replaced by a more consumer oriented event (which it already is really). In the end, traditional IT companies will just stop coming and move to smaller, more focussed fairs and conferences. This year, many of the more business oriented halls and booths were often void of customers and the sales people talked amongst themselves most of the time. Everyone was in the consumer area of CeBIT.
Steve has started training to join me in Berlin in September. I just think he got the year mixed up :-). When I first started running, a few years ago, I managed to jog 700 meters and then collapsed. Steve, there are plenty of training plans around you should follow. Don't overdo it at the start - otherwise you'll quickly give up - I did several times.
iPod mini on pause
March 24, 2004
Spreading the word
These early weeks of Spring see me spreading the "Open Source word" to corporate Germany (again). We have constructed an Open Source Briefing aimed at giving an overview of Open Source middleware - things such as "What is Open Source and why should you care", Projects such as Cocoon, Slide etc. and of course what types of applications you can build with the available components (portals, cms, mobile-publishing applications etc.). Hopefully we will be leaving some seeds behind.
Six barriers to Open Source adoption
An article by Dan Farber on CNET outlining six possible barriers to Open Source adoption. While he focusses more on Open Source products such as MySQL and JBoss as opposed to Open Source frameworks like Apache Cocoon many of the points are certainly things we often discuss when going in to sell Open Source solutions to enterprise customers. "Lack of formal support" is probably the main point for a commercial entity wanting to deploy a mission critical application based on Open Source components. Luckily, that's one we or we can solve.
March 23, 2004
CeBIT and back
An upset stomach and feeling slightly "under the weather" lead to my briefest CeBIT visit ever. In, held presentation, out. The presentation went well even though attendance was poor. I didn't see anything else there - which is definitely a first for me. Not that I missed it really - CeBIT seems so out of date when we can use the Internet to obtain better and more current information than is available from bored marketing people hanging out in the halls. Of course it's still a good place to actually meet people - which leads to my suggestion for all booths next year: several comfortable chairs and a coffee machine. Then maybe I'll go again.
March 22, 2004
The Australian Connection
Torsten joins our favorite Aussies Michael and Marcus over at ManageSoft. Congratulations!
Why Open Source is hot
Off to CeBIT tomorrow for just a short visit - enough time to do a Cocoon portal presentation and perhaps take a quick look round.
Getting to know you
David Weinberger has written an article on how the Web has changed his name. An interesting observation that also holds true in Open Source communities. Because of the way members of Open Source communities interact in a (mostly) friendly and personal fashion this also holds over to email exchanges and personal meetings that take place outside the community but with people you "know" from inside.
Matters become even more interesting if the language switches into say German. German allows you to use the "formal" Sie (you) or the familiar "Du" (you) when addressing someone. In business relationships most customer/vendor conversations take place using the Sie form - together with surnames. But what happens if you were previously talking to that person in the context of the Open Source community you both participate in? To my surprise (after years of painstakingly learning when to use the formal form for "you") - people have little problem retaining the familiar form outside the community. Now there are definitely advantages in being able to select between a formal and informal "you" - but on the whole I think relationships in general profit more from the informal.
March 18, 2004
Legal music downloads in Germany
Gerhard Schroeder opened the legal music download platform Phonoline at CeBIT. Phonoline doesn't offer the downloads directly but uses outlets such as Eventtim-Music. Single tracks start off at 0.99€. The main format seems to be WMA and every piece of music comes with a license that allow you to export the tune a certain number of times.
While the online-experience seems well thought-out (caveat: I haven't signed-up) - the prices for single tunes still strike me as being too high (in fact I noticed track prices varying between 0.99€ and 1.49€ between the Phonoline outlets). Remember the Apple store charges 0.99$ (which works out at around 0.81€) - so prices here are somewhat higher. I wonder what will happen when Apple brings the iTunes store to Europe?
I'm happy! Yesterday I started watching the first episodes of the current West Wing season. Still so good.
March 17, 2004
Before I went on my weekend sabbatical I mused over the idea of a Blogger conference in German(y). Meaning something like BloggerCon but in German for German speaking people interested in the Blogosphere with presentations for both blogging newbies and industry people interested in blogging. What's the interest like "out there"? Anything like that already being planned and I don't know about it? Could be.
At the moment my idea was to hold BlogGER Con here so that people can also visit the world's largest computer museum at the same time. I was thinking 2 days in early Autumn, as I guess it will take a while to set the whole thing up.
Drop me some feedback (especially if you want to help me organize - or know someone who is already planning something like this).
March 16, 2004
Give me what I need!
Tom has posted an article over on Mobitopia arguing the case against specialized mobile domains (i.e. a .mob domain). And while I can see why mobile operators would want this - I think one of Tom's arguments is especially true:
Saying a service is "mobile" doesn't tell you anything about which "version" of mobile it is: WAP? XHTML? cHTML? If you plan to automatically determine which version you're going to deliver, that's great: but in this case you don't need a separate domain name. Just hand out "futureplatforms.com" and redirect as necessary.
Using a framework like Cocoon to build your mobile application even removes the need to redirect. You can use Cocoon components to recognize the device and return whatever content is needed. So the user just types in the same URI (like: http://www.mydomain.com/hello) and receives whatever format his particular browser requires at that time. No need to remember different URIs depending on whether you happen to be mobile or not. What could be easier.
We are having some problems in a Web application with certain browsers (MS Internet Explorer) who send "Feat Ext 13" as part of their User-Agent String. Does anyone know what this addition means?
March 15, 2004
Back from my brief "do nothing" vacation and "Moin" is the greeting that you hear all the time in that part of Germany. It takes getting used to, as it does not just mean "good morning" (other parts of Germany use a similar greeting in the mornings). And of course they aren't telling you about a new "write the web" software. Anyway I had a great relaxing time, enjoying the food (fresh fish!) and watching the East Friesians in their local pastime. Lots of small fishing towns that harbor small fleets of shrimp trawlers - where you can buy shrimp fresh from the sea. What more can you wish for?
March 12, 2004
Cocoon vs JSP
Just before I leave, something nice to start the weekend off: A thread has started on the Cocoon user mailing-list about the differences between JSP and Cocoon. Derek Hohls has something to say about our book - which really made my day.
Finally - the *best* treatment I have seen on this topic is in one of the first Cooon books by Carsten Ziegeler and Matthew Langham - Chpt 1 deals with the 'history of internet apps' and if the advantages of Cocoon are not very obvious after reading that, then best to stick with your "simple", but limited, JSP
I am off to this part of Germany for a weekend of - nothing.
March 11, 2004
A sort of homecoming
And you know it's time to go
Through the sleet and driving snow
Across the fields of mourning
Light in the distance
Fitting today I think.
Thanks Diego for bringing back the memories.
Share and share alike
Moving commercial developers to Open Source
An increasing number of companies are now adopting Open Source as part of their development strategy. A subject that is often overlooked is how corporate software developers see the move towards using software developed in a community project instead of what they may have written themselves......Read more
There are no words...
Log your life
Nokia is developing software that will allow you to become a "life blogger" using your mobile (via Russ). Actually there is no blog at the moment. Just some PC software that ingests your images from your mobile and will allow you to organize them into a timeline.
March 10, 2004
RSS or Atom - I don't care
Dave Winer sparked a new round of bitching in the RSS-Atom "which aggregation format should rule the world" dispute by suggesting a merger between both formats. As a user and sometimes deployer of aggregation tools and software - I just don't care whether RSS or Atom or RSS/Atom wins the battle. But the ongoing mud-slinging is doing both formats (and the adoption of said formats) more harm than good. That's for certain.
An article on Spiegel-Online takes be down memory lane. Only in German - unfortunately - but take a look at the pictures anyway. Those were the days........
March 09, 2004
If you write a weblog entry and link to information that is hidden behind a required subscription - could you somehow include that in the comment to the link? Please? It is so frustrating to click on a link that links to something I would really like to read and then get hit with the "please subscribe or login to read this article".
Brand follows user experience
Something to remember. I think that brands also follow user satisfaction. Meaning that if you can create an offering where the user feels satisfied then you can build a brand around that. It also means that you will dilute your brand if the user starts to loose that satisfaction. Something I think currently reflects my feelings for Google. The user experience hasn't changed but my satisfaction with the results certainly has.
Computerwoche with RSS feed
I just noticed that the German IT weekly has an RSS feed.
March 07, 2004
I've been having increasing problems with comment spam to this weblog (as everyone I suppose). This afternoon I found the time to set up Jay Allen's MT-Blacklist. Hopefully it will help.
Playing piano for CIOs
(At last) I got David to write-up his recent experiences on conversing with CIOs.
Posted by Matthew at 03:45 PM
March 05, 2004
The 2-email pattern
Old, but still very valid advice from Stefano on how to write emails. It's been mentioned often enough on various Open Source mailing-lists - but this paragraph applies to any email communication you may be planning. Stefano writes:
Over the years, I came up with a design pattern for this: 'when you feel personally attacked, write a nasty mail back and then delete it without sending it, then start over again, you'll see all the negative energy dissipated and you see what the other says'.
Isn't it sad we can't do the same when actually speaking to people :).
March 04, 2004
Preaching to the choir
This has been a busy week with several meetings with customers and potential customers. We are currently "touring the land" and talking about how Open Source middleware (projects like Apache Cocoon) can be used to build enterprise solutions. When I think back a couple of years, it's amazing how things have changed with large corporations inviting us in to talk about Open Source. I can remember back to say 1999/2000 when it was difficult to actually find anyone in corporate Germany who was willing to talk to us about Open Source.
On the #mobitopia irc channel we have a bot running that can do lots of funky stuff. One feature that I particularly like is the ability to leave messages for people not currently in the channel (or in the channel but not currently active). The bot notes the message and the next time the addressed person is active, the bot sends the message. Very handy. Now can someone implement that for AIM/iChat please! Or is something like that available?
March 03, 2004
Are we done yet?
RoboWife is back so all is well - no? Alas the dreaded stomach bug has taken a deep and sickening grip on the household and so at the moment I'm the only one still functioning. I write to you dear readers in-between feeding the washing machine with new loads of ... you don't want to know. Enough!
March 02, 2004
A few people have asked about the plan I'm using to get ready for my planned marathon. Actually I'm currently on a plan for the half-marathon (scheduled for Easter). I've joined the plan (for novices) in the current printed issue of Runners's World (German edition). It basically schedules a long slow run for the weekend and 2 shorter faster runs during the week. A typical schedule (i.e. this week) looks like this:
Sunday - 80 minutes slow run (70-75% of your max pulse); Tuesday - 35 minutes mid-paced run (80% max pulse); Thursday - 45 minutes run with varying pace; Sunday - 90 minutes slow run (70-75% max pulse).
The main emphasis is on the slow long run at the weekend. This increases from 80 minutes (last Sunday) to 120 minutes (a week Sunday) and so on. If all goes well then I should finish the run between 2:15 h and 2:30 h. Now that isn't fast - but I don't really care about the time.
I would really urge anyone thinking about doing something as silly as this to find a plan that suits him/her and stick to it. At first I tried without a plan and that didn't work because if I felt good then I run too much and spend the following week recovering. Of course I'll only know if running according to plan works once Easter rolls round.
Cocoon Portal at CeBIT
Anyone going to CeBIT on March 23rd may like to drop by the Convention Center to hear me talk about the Cocoon portal. I'm on at 13:45 and will be speaking for 45 minutes. The presentation will be in German - but the slides in English :-).
SAP executives blog - perhaps
March 01, 2004
I'm currently using IRC and SubEthaEdit to collaboratively work on a document in real-time. My colleagues are working on the same document from Italy and the UK. Amazing!