March 31, 2005
OSBC Startup Showcase
Matt Asay announces the lineup of startups that will be showcased at next week's Open Source Business Conference.
March 30, 2005
SourceLabs releases AMP Stack
Today, SourceLabs released the first version of their AMP Stack, a certified bundle of Apache, PHP and MySQL that has been tested on various hardware configurations running Red Hat Enterprise Linux. You can download the stack plus the testing results from the website.
The race is on
SpikeSource and SourceLabs are set to launch their respective support products within the next two weeks. The two companies will be providing various offerings aimed at relieving corporations from the support problems they fear when deploying Open Source solutions within the enterprise. SpikeSource will be providing a distribution of 50 Open Source middleware components and customers can then receive support for the SpikeSource core on various Linux platforms. SourceLabs will be providing a stack of components that has been stress-tested using a testing process they call Cert7.
March 29, 2005
12 years and counting
So we both forgot until someone reminded us on Saturday: my wife Claudia and I celebrated (well acknowledged more like) our 12th wedding anniversary over the weekend. What with Easter eggs to hide from the kids, my brother-in-laws 40th birthday to celebrate and our daughter's communion to prepare (this coming weekend) - we sort of glossed over the moment for now. Oh - and where was I going again next week - I guess I need to start looking for my stuff to pack for that too. Anyway, 12 years with the same person seems slightly "odd" nowadays when I look around our friends and family - but it does happen.
Mobile RSS readers
For various reasons I'm looking into mobile RSS readers (i.e. RSS readers for your mobile). I don't mean mobile-optimized RSS feeds, like those offered by Bloglines. Some of those I found seem to be pretty dormant projects so I'm sort of wondering why there seems to be so little available.
I thought I'd collect the list of those I find here. If you have any to add then please leave a comment (or send me a mail). I haven't tried any of these and am just collecting the links for now.
- Feed Burner Mobile Feed Reader
- RSS Reader MIDlet
- Mobile RSS Reader
- Litefeeds mobile reader
- RSS Orbit
Indeed - it's Lucene
March 28, 2005
The FIFA World Cup ticket odyssey
In case you weren't aware of the fact: next year, the FIFA World Cup will take place in Germany. Since this is probably the only chance I'll have to easily go and see a world cup football (soccer) match, I'm eager to get some tickets for a match or two. Did I say "easily" - ah well, that is something of an overstatement. Let me explain just how easy it is to actually get tickets for the matches. In an effort to curb black-market selling of tickets, the organizers have come up with something that is - well really really interesting. Luckily I have a friend who really understands the ins and outs and has explained to me what I need to do.
So, to start with, the tickets will be "distributed" in 4 batches. The first "distribution" started a couple of months ago and runs until March 31st. This is how it works: You go to the website here, enter your personal details (for yourself and up to 3 "visitor" friends) and the matches you would like to see and that's it. However there are a couple of slight drawbacks - but instead of writing them down here, why don't you just go and check out the FAQ here. And I'll see you back here in - oh a day or so. Just when you've read the rules for the tenth time and still don't understand what they mean when it says:
Which ticket types are available?
For the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany TM tickets will be offered for seats only. Available are single tickets and team specific tickets (TSTs) Single tickets entitle you to attend a particular match. TST series entitle you to attend a certain number of matches of a particular team.
Single tickets are available in four price categories. TST series are available in three price categories. As matters of principle, applications for single tickets exclude applications for TSTs, and vice versa. Therefore you will have to opt either for single tickets, or for TSTs.
Still with me? Now that is only one of the 65 (sixty-five) points on the FAQ - and you should read them all before ordering. You've been warned. Another drawback to ordering any tickets now is the following:
It is possible to order single tickets for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany (TM) already during the qualification period. As neither the teams which will qualify for the tournament, nor the venues will have been determined at that point in time, single tickets, up to the draw for the final round (9th of December 2005), can only be applied for by match number, by letter of world cup group (e.g. "A”), by position in world cup group as allocated in the final draw (e.g. “A1”), by date, and by venue.
So, even though you can enter which match you're interested in - you don't yet actually know who will be playing as the qualification round hasn't yet finished. The number of tickets you can order depends on the price category. If you go for price-categories 1,2 or 3 then you can order up to 4 tickets for seven matches (which have to be on different days). You can only enter the same people for all the chosen matches, so you can't say take your wife to one match and your girlfriend to another match.
Another interesting point and one that has seen some discussion is this little snippet:
Why do I have to provide ID-card/passport numbers on the application form?
These numbers are required to ensure unambiguous identification and to establish an unambiguous link to the personal data of the purchasers.
So, you have to provide not only your name, address, age, bank account information and email-address but also your ID-card/passport number. The tickets you then receive (if any) are personalized - again to prevent black-market selling, and you won't receive the actual tickets until a few weeks before the matches. You can also pay by credit card - but only with Mastercard - as they are the official sponsors of the World Cup.
Anyway, I've ordered my tickets - or rather: entered the draw and I reckon the whole process (with 3 more "distributions" to go) is going to be very interesting.
West Wing on the sixth
I'm still a big fan of West Wing, now on its sixth season. I found the first episodes of the season to be really...bad. I just didn't like them and thought they were missing the depth of previous seasons. But that changed (for me anyway) somewhere in the middle of the season and now the episodes are really good. The funny thing is that I find the story-lines are really telling me more about myself than they are about politics. The main characters have been given more personality and a lot now centers around how it is possible to be successful without "just following the masses".
Stop and smell the roses
While we had a relatively quiet and peaceful Easter, others weren't so lucky. Although the news was good in the end.
March 26, 2005
ApacheCon Europe shaping up
Take a look at the lineup of speakers and topics for the upcoming ApacheCon Europe. Plenty of sessions on Cocoon which I think is a good choice, as the platform is particularly popular over on this side of the pond. The only downside is that ApacheCon will take place during Summer vacation time in Germany - so hopefully people will be delaying their trip into the sun until after the conference.
March 24, 2005
Cocoon 2.1.7 released
Lets get de.lirio.us
Steve launches de.lirio.us - a site that lets you combine tags, social bookmarking and blogs.
March 22, 2005
Sun shines on Paderborn
I live in the beautiful German city of Paderborn. Today, by chance, I see that Sun is featuring Paderborn on it's News site. The short film documents the deployment of Sun Ray thin clients in Paderborn schools.
Ecto 2.2.5 - gotcha
I really like using Ecto on my Mac and today I installed the new version 2.2.5. Imagine my surprise when I opened up a new draft and no icons (save, preview, publish) appeared. I tend to go into panic mode at that type of stuff, thinking I should have kept the older version or not updated so soon etc. But luckily the solution is simple - just go to Window-Customize Toolbar and drag the default set of icons onto the empty space. Voilá - the icons are back again. Phew.
Open Source - you're invited!
I would never dream of inviting my customers into the developer lists of the Open Source products I use in my solutions. Why does the customer want to be in there?
First off, it's important to point out that most Open Source projects have both a developer list and a user list. Ross is right that customers probably don't start off by joining the developer list. But they will jump onto the user list. The general pattern I have seen is:
- Customer looks for an Open Source solution that fits her needs (DIY IT)
- Customer will download and tinker with said solution (Does it really fit her needs)
- Customer decides that the solution is right and then joins the user list to ask questions
In the past five years we have been able to win customers for our Open Source services - not by sending out mass-mailings or by parading glossy brochures, but by being visible in the Open Source communities and responding to those questions.
And whereas Ross "wouldn't dream" of inviting customers into the lists, that is something we actively do. We try to convince the customer that they are far better off becoming part of the community as soon as possible rather than viewing the project as a closed "club". Often enough we've seen customers "fork" the Open Source project inside the firewall because they "hadn't thought" of joining the project and actively participating.
I really think that Open Source projects can only flourish and be successful if both sides join the party, both the developers and the customers.
Update: Ross makes a valid point in the comments. I wasn't being clear enough. I actually did mean inviting customers into the developers list as well as the users list. My reference to customers forking the Open Source project inside the firewall reflects the fact that many of our customers actually do want to "get technical" (to some extent).
Open Source more customer focused?
Following on from what Matt Asay writes here (so read that first):
Instead of sitting in a tranquil DMZ, shielded (and informed) by product marketing, his developers actually hear real-world customer feedback all day long....
This process starts when those developers "meet" the customers inside the Open Source projects. As a project becomes more popular it attracts more and more "customers", i.e. those people actually using the application or framework. The customer feedback starts to flow through the mailing-lists and is important input for the development team.
The interesting thing happens when customers need more than just the occasional answer on the mailing list. If they require more than that, then the first obvious place for them to start looking for support is the project itself. And again the developers are visible there and not shielded behind some corporate firewall. So, the customers will approach those developers they think can help them - regardless of the company they work for. That doesn't matter any more.
David Weinberger is "bunking with the Sifry's" at PCForum. "Tag, you're it!". Very funny.
March 21, 2005
AskJeeves sold for ... a lot
Socialtext expands product offering
Socialtext is now offering three different product versions of its wiki based collaboration product. The 3 different versions are targeted at enterprise customers, small businesses and non-profit organizations.
Don't bother emailing
Something that really gets annoys me (and that's putting it mildly) is when I send an email to the reservations email-address of a hotel and then never get a reply. That's happened to me a couple of times and really makes me wonder why they put an email address up there at all. Latest non-answering hotel is this one. I asked about the different rates they offer.
Weekend link roundup
Away over the weekend and as always I hate wading through Bloglines and trying to "catch up". Here are a few links that caught my eye:
- Danese Cooper leaves Sun for Intel
- Yahoo owns up to buying Flickr
- Sylvain plugs the upcoming version 2.2 of Cocoon
March 18, 2005
Cocoon Springs into action
Misuse of the GPL gets you a letter
13 vendors of commercial software and apppliance products received an open warning letter at CeBIT urging them to comply with the terms of the GPL licensed software they use. The letter was presented to companies such as Motorola, Acer and AOpen by Harald Welte, a free software developer and initiator of the gpl-violations.org project. Harald Welte managed to achieve a widely publicized injunction for a GPL infringement last year.
March 17, 2005
Google has set up a site for some of their internal software they are releasing as Open Source. Good move.
March 16, 2005
Ok. so it now looks as though I will be spending a few days in San Francisco at the beginning of April (5th - 10th). I hope to hook up with at least these guys and go here. Now, if you're in that area and interested in meeting up to talk about anything like Open Source in business, Open Source in Europe, Apache Cocoon, social software, emerging technologies - whatever - just drop me a note and I'm sure we can work something out.
I must admit that until today I didn't really know much about the use of "cell broadcast" in mobile applications. But today I saw some cool stuff being done with RSS feeds, SVG, cell broadcast and some of the newer mobile handsets. Pity I don't think I can post much more here but ... stay tuned.
March 13, 2005
JotSpot for Open Source projects - no charge
March 11, 2005
German Cocoon book announced
This is great to see - Reinhard Pötz just announced that he is co-authoring a German book on Apache Cocoon. This should be a real boost to Cocoon adoption in German speaking countries and will hopefully cover much of the exciting stuff that has been added to Cocoon since Carsten and I wrote our book. Ah the memories.
Articles in SERVER magazin
The good folks at S&S Verlag have just released a new magazine: "SERVER magazin". It contains two of my previously published articles on social software - including the interview with Ross Mayfield. Buy now!
March 10, 2005
T-Online launches weblogs - on TypePad
That's the number on my shiny new press card that just arrived. I am now a member of the German journalist society (DPV).
Microsoft gets Groovy
Just back from a quick day at CeBIT. My first after quite a few years. I used to go regularly back at the end of the eighties and then on-and-off through the 90's. I don't think I've been for a day there this century - but my memory may fail me. Anyway - here is a quick review:
Blah blah blah shiny blah blah UMTS blah blah content management systems blah blah on demand blah blah SAP on Linux blah blah freebie blah MP3 player blah blah customer satisfaction through my brilliant software blah blah ROI blah blah presentation in 10 blah blah blah HDTV Blue Ray blah blah SAP blah blah Blinking orbs blah blah babes (but not as many as I remember) blah blah lanyards blah CRM blah blah coffee price - wow blah blah blah bill the magician how should I know - you need to ask the right person and he's not here today blah blah nearly naked lady painted blue presenting monitor blah blah feet ache blah blah IT magazine publishers blah blah SAP blah blah IBM blah blah my mobile is better than your mobile blah blah blah
I also now know where all the IT sales people from the eighties and nineties went - they lie frozen in the underground caves beneath CeBIT and are defrosted in March.
On a more serious note - the offerings at CeBIT are just to generic and at the end of the day it's hard to remember what exactly you saw that you either didn't know already or really don't care about. And in case you are wondering - the blinking orbs are the freebies on Microsoft's booth in Hall 2 - I think....I can't remember exactly. It's good to go though - if only to realize that I don't need to go again next year..or the year after ... or...
March 08, 2005
It's not Cloud-cuckoo land
Another blogger feels the corporate heat for a post. This time it is a Technorati employee who has to reword a blog entry because his employer complained. Even though I understand why people are in uproar about this type of thing - just why do bloggers think they are somehow exempt from corporate "pressure"? Just because you blog doesn't mean you automatically get to write whatever you like about your employer. It just doesn't work like that - not even for bloggers. In fact it is probably even harder for bloggers because their employers are more likely to actually get wind of debatable comments. It is a lot safer mouthing off about your boss in the pub for example. Does anyone think corporate executives from Six Apart would let an employee write what she wants about the company on a public weblog? I think not.
Bloggers and the companies they work for need to work this out together. On the one hand it is definitely a bad sign if a company forces an employee to take down an offensive post, but on the other hand it is up to the blogger to recognize beforehand that a post may cause trouble and either not write it or word it carefully. Unfortunately not everyone can take Russell's stance and threaten to quit if the employer puts on the pressure. It isn't that easy.
Update: Dave Sifry from Technorati posts his side of the story and read it to get his point of view. Remember - there are always 2 sides to every story - even in blog-land.
Who owns us now?
Update: I rang the company - who were very unfriendly. They told me that I should check who gave Hornbach the photo for publication. Or rather - who gave it to their PR company. I said that I was pretty sure that no-one had given it to them but that they had probably fished it out via a Google search - which he denied ("we don't do that"). Just perform this search and you'll see why I'm positive Hornbach is lying.
Update: Here's a screenshot.
Update: I just had a very pleasant telephone conversation with the PR company who runs Hornbach's campaign. They were very apologetic about the whole thing.
Euro OSCON in October
I guess it's official now - as Nat Torkington, O'Reilly's OSCON conference planner writes about in on his weblog - Euro OSCON is scheduled to be in Amsterdam from October 17-20. Time to revisit this post I made in 2002. The Euro OSCON CfP is coming up "real soon now".
March 07, 2005
Digging into Ruby on Rails
Ben is looking for suggestions on rapid development frameworks. I've played around with Ruby on Rails a bit (note to self: must dig deeper) and found this tutorial helpful (here and here). Also - for a bit of background explanation check this.
A new version of RoR is out today. Looking at the changes reveals that the framework is slowly moving beyond "just" the database world.
This morning, European ministers endorsed a proposed bill to allow software patenting. The draft bill still needs the backing of the European parliament before it becomes law and many members of the parliament have already voiced their opposition. The move to wave through the bill has been called to be "in violation of the procedural rules" by activist groups because the countries opposing the bill (such as Poland, Denmark and Portugal) were not heard.
Press release here. Excerpts
The key features of the common position are as follows:
Member States will be obliged to ensure in their national law that computerimplemented inventions are considered to belong to the field of technology. In order to be patentable, a computer-implemented invention must be new, susceptible to industrial application and must involve an inventive step. In order to involve an inventive step, a computer-implemented invention must make a technical contribution to the state of the art. If the contribution to the state of the art relates solely to unpatentable matter, there can be no patentable invention irrespective of how the matter is presented in claims.
In accordance with the European Patent Convention, a computer program as such cannot constitute a patentable invention. Inventions involving computer programs, whether expressed as source code, as object code or in any other form, which implement business, mathematical or other methods and do not produce any technical effects beyond the normal physical interactions between a program and the computer, network
or other programmable apparatus in which it is run will not be patentable.
The Council has introduced a new provision in order to clarify that in certain circumstances and under strict conditions a patent can cover a claim to a computer program, be it on its own or on a carrier. The Council considers that this would align the Directive on standard current practice both of the European Patent Office and in the Member States.
The Directive should be without prejudice to the application of Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty, in particular where a dominant supplier refuses to allow the use of a patented technique which is needed for the sole purpose of ensuring conversion of the conventions used in two different computer systems or networks so as to allow communication and exchange of data content between them.
The Commission will monitor the impact of computer-implemented inventions on innovation and competition, both within Europe and internationally, on Community businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, on the open-source community and on electronic commerce.
In Europe, there are a lot of arguments that this type of patenting will deeply harm the adoption of Open Source by commercial and public institutions. The US already has these types of patents and the rise of Open Source doesn't seem to have slowed there - or am I wrong in thinking that? Not that I am for patenting software at all - but I would like to see some more concrete evidence that this is the case. I guess there is then always a potential patent sword hanging over the software you use from an Open Source project - but does that stop US companies from using it?
Various people have been discussing the "journalism" side of weblogs lately and spurred on by Frank's post today I decided the time has come for me to officially start my second career - journalist. So, as the first step I've now applied here to become a member of the Deutsche Presse Verband and to get an official press pass. Over the past years I've written over 20 articles (and am currently working on 3 more), written a book on my own and co-written 2 books. And of course this weblog - which I guess doesn't quite count (in the public eye) as a journalistic effort - but still. Even though most of what I've written has been in German, I still find it easier to write in English and hopefully with a shiny press pass I'll be doing a bit more writing over the coming months. Although writing has been and is still a a "side job" for me at the moment, it's fun and who knows....
March 03, 2005
Steve Fossett arrives after flying round the globe nonstop and without refueling. Congratulations!
Berlin bound - and more
Off to Berlin with "the lads" in a few hours. We'll be catching the sites and Blue Man Group on Saturday. Hopefully the cold/flu/sniffles that have been rolling round this part of the world will stay here and not come with us. Meanwhile, you may like to read this Open Source article from CIO Magazine. Or check out where you can catch Carsten and moi in May. Meanwhile, I'm readying my inspirational journey to San Francisco in April. More on that next week.
March 02, 2005
Are you using PHPUnit2?
If so, then Sebastian would like to hear from you.
March 01, 2005
JBoss Inc launches JBoss Open Source Federation
Today, JBoss Inc announced the launch of the JBoss Open Source Federation. In another move that signals the end of JBoss as a one solution company, the JBoss Open Source Federation is aimed at providing a home to Open Source projects that integrate well with the other JBoss offerings.
Open Source lobbying in the EU
The subject of Open Source Lobbying in the EU parliament and other bodies was recently brought up at a meeting we attended.
Can anyone point me to what the situation is on this? I am interested in lobbying for Open Source in general as opposed to just the patenting situation. Microsoft has about 5 accredited lobbyists in Brussels and at the meeting, EU officials were remarking on the absence of Open Source lobbying. This may or may not be the case but I can't seem to find much information.
Rolling over to Apache
Here is the proposal to move the Open Source Java weblog project "Roller" over to Apache. The scope of the project talks about establishing a top-level weblog related project at Apache which I think would be a good idea. Working on portal projects with Cocoon, we see quite a few requests to integrate things like RSS feeds and in addition more companies are becoming interested in also producing RSS from their business data.