February 27, 2005
What's your story?
What do these companies have in common: Bridge53, SourceTap, FiveRuns, Open Country, AntiGrain and Blue Sunrise? They are all Open Source startups that will be "appearing" at the upcoming OSBC conference (via Matt Asay - I added some links). Looking at the web sites I find myself thinking - interesting but what's your story? Tell it. As the number of Open Source centric companies increases it will become increasingly important to talk about how you stand out from your competition:
- Start a corporate weblog (I couldn't find a single one)
- Talk about how you came from Open Source involvement to a commercial startup (you did didn't you?)
- Describe how your team is involved in driving the Open Source forward you're using (they are - aren't they?)
- Link to your articles and presentations you've used to put the Open Source message accross
Those are the points (and these) I'll be bringing up when I come to see you at OSBC. There is still time.
February 26, 2005
Where's the buzz?
I was going to post something on the lack of "buzz" in the air in this part of the world, when I see TJ pointing to this article in Forbes on "Germany's Dismal Future". I've lived here for most of my life, so I guess I probably show the same traits the article points out. Resistance to change is definitely something that I find to be the most obvious. Even the very mention of necessary reforms in things like healthcare, working hours, employee benefits etc. brings a massive wave of indignation and anger from the public voice. Any ambitious charge for a reform ends up becoming some small unimportant alteration that does no good whatsoever but that is celebrated as though a revolution took place. The political parties are all the same and there is no room for differentiation because the problems are on a national scale. In general Germany still thinks it is the striving country from 20 years ago and pretty much blind to the changes that need to be made. Personally, I hope the youth will see that they need to move on this as things will be even harder when todays 18 or 20 year olds reach my age.
February 25, 2005
Evan launches Odeo
Evan Williams writes about his new baby - Odeo. Odeo seems to be a way of finding and downloading audio content to your iPod (or other MP3 player). More news should be appearing during the day, like this NYTimes article.
Big fish will eat little fish - reloaded
February 24, 2005
What's the real advantage of Open Source?
Matt Asay, Open Source strategist for Novell, writes in this article that distribution, not low cost, is the real advantage of Open Source. He argues that the distribution model for Open Source allows people interested to just "try it out" without fear of locking themselves into a vendor or product.
The ability to just try the Open Source out without worrying "what the managers think" is something that mirrors my own experience. A couple of years ago we consulted for a large company who were building a major solution on Cocoon. We wanted to get them to write an article about how they were using the Open Source XML platform in a major corporation (there weren't that many, 2 years ago). However they wouldn't. Mainly because, as they told us over coffee - quietly, their managers didn't really know that they were using Open Source - yet. They were "scared" that the whole thing wouldn't work, and so wanted to wait until the whole solution was live without problems ("for a few months") before telling anyone - even internally. So, being able to just try it out was what they saw as their main advantage - circumventing the official (drawn-out) buying channels in the company.
A company I visited last week told me that the ability to change the software to meet their needs was actually the greatest advantage they saw in using Open Source. By changing and adapting the Open Source framework they were able to get it to do "what they needed" quickly.
Another reason I heard lately was the fact that the Open Source project in question supported specific standards that the company "rule-makers" required.
What I mean to imply with this list is the fact that I don't think there is really one real advantage to Open Source. There are many - and understanding where the advantage for your particular customer lies - is key to success.
Hotel in San Francisco - suggestions?
It looks as though I will be spending a few days in San Francisco in early April (more on that later). For the moment I'm interested in suggestions for hotels in this part of the city (near Union Square). Not too expensive, pleasant and Wifi would be great.
February 23, 2005
Update: The store is back up now and here are the new iPod details. The iPod mini drops in price to 4 GB for 199$. 6 GB will set you back 249$. The gold colored iPod mini is gone. There are now iPod photo models at 30 GB (349$) and 60 GB (449$).
Building the new newspaper?
Ben Hammersley has built "The Observer Blog." with loads of hip functionality. Whereas blogs are to date more hidden assets of online media (you have to really search to find some of them - if at all), this approach would suggest that the blog of a newspaper may eventually become the online version of the same. Which makes you think about how a reader is then supposed to tell the difference...
February 22, 2005
Mining data - Weightwatchers
In the past there has been plenty of talk about how many of the new Web based applications rely on the users to fill the system with data and basically then own that data. Many of the systems in question also provide some form of API that allows you to integrate the data you entered into your own application or weblog.
I haven't seen the Weightwatchers Online application (here is the German version) talked about anywhere - so as I started on their online program at the beginning of the year I felt it worth a mention. The actual application with its Web GUI is pretty good really. Some quirks but in general it is pretty simple to find what you ate and keep your points tallied in the online diary.
But the only way to get at your data is through the Web interface. No API. I mean wouldn't it be cool if you could see a chart of my weight-loss (5 Kilos since beginning of January) on my blog? Ok, perhaps not. But what about a "foodroll" of what I ate today (with points) in the sidebar? No?
On a more serious note - I wonder what else happens with the data you enter there? I mean the program is available in several countries and I can just imagine various parties being very interested in near real-time information on what you are eating....
February 20, 2005
Congratulations Diego! I've attended a few of these ceremonies in the past (always as a spectator) and I'm sure the feeling of completing the years of work on the one hand and the outlook to a new beginning on the other is unrivaled.
February 18, 2005
O'Reilly Euroscon in 2005!
I'm not sure this is correct - but the Fosdem home page is presenting a chance to win 2 passes to O'Reillys Euroscon 2005. Could OSCON be coming to Europe in 2005? I doubt it as there is no additional word over on the O'Reilly page. So I guess something is wrong.
Update: In fact it's true. My sources inside O'Reilly tell me that there will be a EUROSCON in October 2005. This year really seems to be turning into a very interesting one.
Open Source has crossed the chasm
For the past three years we've been actively building customer applications on top of Open Source components such as Cocoon. During that time we've seen Open Source in the enterprise go from being sniggered at to being the first choice when it comes to building even mission critical applications (I'll leave out the remarks we got during the first two years). And now, everyone else seems to be getting this too. Funny how it takes things like VC funding to leaverage this into the public eye. Conferences such as OSBC with talks like "The Next Wave of Open Source: Applications" will do their part to raise the visibility even higher.
It is extremely satisfying to see it all come together after five years. And this is only the beginning.
February 17, 2005
Infecting the business
I hope we were able to infect a couple of people a few days ago. And I don't mean with the flu virus that's currently going around here. On Tuesday we visited a customer of ours to see what they have been doing (with our help) with Cocoon and in particular the portal. They have really taken to Open Source for building a portal based solution and it's great to see how they have been able to integrate their legacy systems easily using the pipeline concept and additional components. While we were talking I asked whether they had thought about giving the components back to the Cocoon project as they are pretty generic.
Even though they have been using Cocoon for a while and popping in an out of the mailing-lists, the look on their faces showed that this thought had never crossed their mind. But slowly, as I was explaining the advantages of giving back to the community I could see how the various brains in the room started churning. From an initial "oh, we'd need to talk to our legal department" to a "that's a good idea - then everyone will profit" took only a few minutes. Hopefully the legal department doesn't throw any stones down.
This brief encounter shows that even as the spread of Open Source continues in the enterprise, there are still various walls that remain to be torn down. And far from ridiculing people from being inside those walls, it is our job to show how to climb them.
Google introduces AutoLink
A few days ago I wrote about how Google should introduce the "google:" protocol that you could use to automatically link words in your post to a Google search. Well, what do you know - just take a look at the AutoLink functionality they just introduced in their new toolbar version. Now, what shall I predict next...
February 16, 2005
MySQL Network launched
MySQL have launched "MySQL Network" a subscription based package that comes with various software and service offerings around MySQL. The offering seems to mostly consist of "advisors" that keep you informed of updates and alerts that you may need to act on.
Hula starts jumping the hoops
February 15, 2005
Kids are a gift
"Most mothers will tell you their children are a gift from God - most mothers will also tell you that there are some days when you wish you could return them". Fathers too. Classic. (Heard on the newest episode of Desperate Housewives)
State of the butterfly
Stefano posts a thought-provoking email to the Cocoon developer list and I agree with much of his wake-up call. I'm not so involved in the actual development nowadays, so I'll refrain from commenting on what needs to be done technically. However I also see another "threat" on the horizon. Apart from scripting languages gaining traction, notice also how frameworks such as Ruby On Rails or Trails are becoming increasingly popular for everyday types of applications. Granted, Cocoon provides a lot more in the way of functionality and flexibility, but do we need it all? Or rather - do our users need it all? A "Cocoon on tracks" approach whereby I can download a small Cocoon distribution, configure my database, call an Ant script and I have a typical CRUD application - but using Cocoon core + CForms - would be cool as a starting point. Wouldn't it?
February 14, 2005
Daisy 1.2 announced
Daisy 1.2 has just been announced. Daisy is an Open Source content management system, composed of a standalone, ReST-accessible repository server, and a powerful, Cocoon-based Wiki-on-steroids editing and publishing application.
February 13, 2005
Yesterday I made some bread - and it's Jamie Oliver's fault. We have a gadget for that sort of thing actually, but yesterday I decided to make some from scratch. For years I've tried to ignore the Jamie Oliver phenomenon but lately I've been watching some of his shows and in particular "Jamies Kitchen". I thought the series was very well done and - unless it was all a big show (which to some extent it probably was) - it seemed pretty "honest". So, I dug out my Jamie Oliver cookbook, watched a couple of "Oliver Twist's" and yesterday hit the flour. The bread went pretty well actually and I used half for pizza - which the family loved - and the other half to make a loaf.
My comments on his weblog still stand though,
Entering a parallel world
There is a parallel world around us and for the most - you and I don't recognize it's actually there. In fact if you are reading this then you most certainly don't appreciate its value. This strange sounding notion hit me yesterday when I was driving through town with my youngest son, Nicolas (5). During our trip he would stare out of the window and make "funny" sounds. You see, he has just started to read and so tries his new found skills on all the signs, number-plates or other written evidence of this parallel world he can find. A world, that until something clicked in his brain, he didn't know was there. Soon, he'll start to pick up books and by reading them discover how large this new world actually is.
February 11, 2005
Lessig on WestWing
I first heard Lawrence Lessig speak at OSCON in 2002. His talk on "Free Culture" was a fascinating new topic for me and I've since read several of his books. Although many of the topics are quite US centric and my knowledge of European laws in this area is pretty limited. But still. And now the professor appears on WestWing. The actor (Christopher Lloyd)) even looks like Lessig - albeit an older version. Wow. How neat is that. I mean seeing your own book in a bookstore is a cool experience, but seeing yourself portrayed on TV must be amazing. Lessig tells the story of how this came to be. An interesting fact seems to be that this is one of the few (only?) times someone appearing on WestWing is actually referred to under his/her real name and was not given a fantasy name. The only other times I can remember are when people actually do play themselves - such as Yo-Yo Ma in an early episode.
What's next for Apple after U2?
Frank has a great idea for the next "branded" iPod - the "Beatles iPod". That would be amazing. But I guess the contractual discussions would take years.
February 10, 2005
Fish filets on hot mango-tomato salsa
A little dish I created this evening.
- 2 fish filets - floured
- 1 Mango - diced
- 1 Tomato - diced
- 2 tbs hot salsa
- balsamic vinegar
- olive oil
- salt & pepper
- 2 tsps oil
Fry the fish filets in the oil. While they are frying, peel and dice the mango and tomato (large pieces). Heap the mango and tomato on a plate. Sprinkle olive oil, vinegar and tabasco over the mango-tomato salsa. Place the fried filets on the salsa and top with the hot salsa. Salt & pepper to taste.
I would have taken a picture, but unfortunately I've already eaten everything.
43 Things - Amazon on Rails
Wolfgnang points to 43 Things, a website where you can enter the 43 things you (still) want to do in life. The site collects the different goals from the various lists and presents them in a style similar to the tagging on Flickr. A couple of interesting things about 43 Things: The site is built on Ruby on Rails and Amazon is an investor. There is more planned for what looks set to become a(nother) social network - such as the ability to find people who share the same dreams and form communities around that goal.
On a side-note: Ruby on Rails sure is becoming popular for this type of thing.
I'm having some problems with a SquirrelMail installation - maybe someone out there can help. I installed the current version a couple of weeks ago and everything seemed to work fine. Now I am having problems in that SquirrelMail either refuses to let me log in "Unknown user or password incorrect" (even though my log-in is correct) or I can log in but then SM throws me out if I try to reply to a mail or switch folders. But again, sometimes it works ok. I have cookies turned on but these problems occur in various browsers and from various locations (i.e. behind a firewall / not behind a firewall). I should check the logs but can't until later - so maybe the Net knows the answer. Thanks.
Boston Cocoon and Lenya User Group meetup
February 09, 2005
A blog post for CEOs
A mini test for your friendly CEO. Feel free to pass along.
Please answer the following:
- How many of your employees are writing a blog?
- How many of them do you read?
You should be reading them all.
Note: If you couldn't answer the first question then you may soon have a problem.
Blogging from the inside
Jeremy Zawodny has an insight into corporate blogging at Yahoo. Well worth a read. In the end it boils down to companies needing to make it clear from the start to their employees what they can blog about and what they can't. Now this isn't really a new problem in itself. It's just the media that has changed. Everyone can recite incidents when they talk about work to friends or family in places like restaurants or bars. If you happen to live in a small city that can get you into plenty of trouble if someone happens to hear your conversation. I also know of a case where someone from a large German company got into real trouble for a message in a public and widely read Usenet message-board (long before blogging was hip). But blogs receive wide attention and many more eyeballs than previous forms, so companies need to be up-front and open by providing a clear blogging-policy.
A book for the john
Hugh Macleod is pitching a planned book. A must-read post. It is so me - today.
Here are some personal additions to 1. The Sleeper Has Awaken.
- We are turning on the Net and communicating with people all over the world and exchanging ideas and visions.
- We are breaking down walls by talking to people and ignoring the corporation.
- Meaning scales. The more you see the more you find.
February 08, 2005
Socialtext moves closer to the enterprise
Yesterday, Socialtext released version 1.5 of their Workspace and Appliance offerings. The new version offers some interesting new functionality such as integration with LDAP directories (a must have in companies I talk to) and the possibility to integrate Web services such as Google. One addition I found intriguing is this:
Beyond leveraging web services such as RSS and Technorati, Socialtext 1.5 supports tag links, a new, web-wide mechanism to aggregate tags from weblogs and social software services like Socialtext, Flickr and del.icio.us. Tag links build emergent value out of millions of independent acts of categorization. Tagging, or Folksonomy represents an alternative and complement to traditional enterprise rigid ontology. When designed to support social incentives for classification, the relative cost and speed benefits are substantial for projects where user adoption and participation is critical.
So, from this description (I haven't tried this out) it would seem that you can use Socialtext to aggregate information from the given sources based on how it is tagged. However, I think that in order to get corporations to be interested in and use this type of function you would need to access tagged data inside the enterprise itself. Which means version 2.0 will surely be able to do this. Right guys :-)?
ApacheCon Europe Call for Papers
ApacheCon Europe 2005 will take place in Stuttgart from 18-22 July 2005. Get your submissions in now. (Internet Explorer seems to have problems displaying that page.)
Google on the map
Google launches GoogleMaps. In Beta and only for the US currently.
It's official - Ask Jeeves acquires Bloglines
Mark Fletcher has blogged the deal. The integration of Ask Jeeves search technology into Bloglines is on the roadmap. Here's the press release. "Financial terms were not disclosed". John Batelle has an analysis.
February 07, 2005
The picture challenge
Armin thinks I can probably tell what the strange building on the photo in this blog post is. I can. So, Armin, shall I give it away or just offer some addtional hints. How about: "The great point of this tower is that it will be entirely useless". This one was opened on Guy Fawkes Day in 1935 - about 30 years before I was born within a stone's throw (a long one - but still) of the tower. Actually, Armin gives a hint with the file name for the image.
February 06, 2005
Ask Jeeves buys Bloglines
So I was wrong and I was right. Bloglines has been bought by a Search/Blog service. But not by Google as I predicted. Ask Jeeves seems to be company of choice. Russell has a heartfelt comment I am sure many of us Bloglines junkies agree with.
And now I'm wondering about the Bloglines-type service Google will be announcing. Soon. If one Google employee can create Orkut in his "spare time", I'm sure there has to be at least one employee working on "Googlelines". They would need to provide some killer features to attract people away from Bloglines. Stuff like integrating the search capabilities of Google with your personal Googlelines subscriptions.
We're REM and this is what we do
Just back from the REM concert in Hannover. It was really really good. REM were the last entry on my list of acts to go and see live at least once and tonight was the night. Even though the guys aren't youngsters any more (Michael Stipe is 4 years older than I am) the energy on stage was amazing. They played all the songs I wanted to hear and in all it was far better than this concert.
February 05, 2005
Sun testing Open Source DB idea
Sun tests the water by floating the idea of an Open Source database offering.
February 04, 2005
The reputation dream
For some strange reason I woke up in the middle of the night with the following thought echoing around my head: "We need a centralized reputation server". I have no idea what lead to this and I can't remember anything that would have triggered this thought - especially not at 4am in the morning.
I guess the idea of a centralized reputation server isn't new - but I certainly found it intriguing to imagine a product that could be installed say inside a large corporate network and where reputation data of individuals could be collected and also published as an RSS feed (for example). Combining your reputation information from eBay, Amazon and other places into a centralized collection that others can query (or you could include in your blog) also seems interesting to think about. Is there anything like this available or planned?
Introducing the "google:" protocol
Is it just me or have you also noticed how people are increasingly inclined to tell you to "just Google it" rather that giving you the URL? I can remember when I used to sit in front of the TV and see the first URLs pop up in ads and shows. Now of course some URL is nearly constantly being shown. However, trying to remember the URL is not always easy and so it would seem that telling people to Google something instead of getting them to remember the URL is a lot easier. And it is far "stickier" than some long string.
So, wouldn't it make sense for companies to just put "google: iPod" or "google: tivo" in their ads instead of getting the customer to remember the URL? Obviously they would need to make sure that Google also returns their site as one of the top links - but the company would want that to be the case anyway.
And in fact, how about browsers respecting a href in a URL that looks like this: "google:tivo". Then you could use that tag in your text to point people to additional information on a particular subject. The browser would automatically take the search term and bring back related links. Contextual search. Much like Yahoo is doing with Y!Q. But simpler.
Of course the problem with that is the fact that Google isn't the only search engine around, so Yahoo would want a "yahoo:tivo" protocol as well. But there is a way around this one as well - especially for Google. They just need to bring out their own browser...oh wait a moment...that sounds familiar.
February 01, 2005
Keeping in touch
If you're around my age then think back to when you were around 11 years old. How did you keep in touch with say your father if he was off on a business trip? Maybe the odd phone call in the evening I guess. Well, sitting here in the hotel lobby in Frankfurt and chatting with my son Christopher (10) on AIM is just so .. wierd. But fun. And of course we talked on the phone too - but chatting is way cooler - Christopher thinks. Times sure are different now.