August 31, 2005
The Open Source choice - less may be more
As Open Source moves up the enterprise stack and we see more and more Open Source projects appear in the marketplace, it is becoming increasingly clear that there are several areas where it may be better to have less choice, rather than more.
IT purchasers in large corporations don't really like choice. In fact it makes them nervous. Because there is that chance that deciding to buy (or use) a particular vendor's product may - in the end - turn out to be wrong. This is the reason so much time is wasted in compiling feature comparison lists for products. Time that would be better invested in actually trying out the product to see if it fits the need and not just relying on a vendor to answer the questions in a particularly truthful fashion.
So, for Open Source to be successful in the corporate market we need to be looking at combining Open Source solutions that address similar problems (license issues need to be taken into consideration).
Enterprise integration is maybe the first area where this need is already being felt - as projects like Synapse, ServiceMix and Celtix seem set to cooperate more closely moving forward. This is a good thing - especially in the relatively young domain of ESB solutions. If the different projects are able to provide some form of unified offering then this will make the life of that IT purchaser just so much easier.
The Jump - the movie
See the Silent Penguin fly - uh - fall - well, you know what I mean. Quicktime movie - converted and edited down to a 5 MB download (but still good enough to get an impression). I'm the one in the sexy red jumpsuit. Enjoy.
(The link is correct but I notice it sometimes doesn't work in Safari. Just hit reload)
August 30, 2005
Cocoon portal supports WSRP
August 29, 2005
European Open Source conference roundup
As we swing past Summer into early Autumn, it's time for a couple of updates to two upcoming European Open Source events.
First off, the legendary Cocoon GetTogether takes place in Amsterdam on October 7th. That's the day you can grab the latest and greatest information by listening to interesting presentations and mingling with the crowd. The call for papers closes at the end of this week, so the program should be up soon.
O'Reilly's EuroOSCON takes place in Amsterdam from the 17th-20th of October (so you can just stay in the beautiful city after the GetTogether). Nat Torkington is busy putting the finishing touches to the program.
I'll only be able to make EuroOSCON this year - so see you there hopefully!
German TV featuring hurricane blogs
Just watching the German ARD TV special on hurricane Katrina and a sizable portion of the program is showing how bloggers are covering the storm. I think it's the first time I've seen blogs used so prominently to enhance traditional reporting here. They also used Google Maps to show the geographic situation.
The Jump - more pictures
Yeah, I realize you're getting bored with this. However I got some really good pictures from one of my "fans" on Saturday. Here's one and there are more here.
August 28, 2005
Wow. Figuring out how to describe my impressions from the jump is really hard. We arrived at the dropzone at about 13:30 but due to the good weather, a different plane being used and some other organizational problems I didn't get on a lift until about 17:30. This gave us plenty of time to see lots of other jumps.
After some instructions and being handed to my "tandem-master" we boarded the plane. It was a small plane and only about 10 people fit on board for each lift. After takeoff, the plane climbed to 4000 meters and during that, I was attached to the guy who was to become the most important person in my life for the next 10 minutes. We were the first pair out of the plane and this meant we had to slide forward to the door, then I was hanging outside the plane while my companion was still sitting on the ledge (interesting feeling). Then it was remember the instructions - legs under the plane, head back and off we fell. About 40 seconds of free-fall (loud, windy and remembering to look really cool into the camera of the guy filming me) and then the parachute opened. And a completely different sensation. You just hang there and it's really quiet. Excellent view and chatting with my best friend (for a few minutes more, anyway). And then the landing (remember to pull your legs up). And back I was. Landed.
I wasn't really scared at any time during the whole thing but at the same time so many different sensations surge through you that you feel quite exhausted and exhilarated. And boy do you feel cool once you are on mother earth again. Yeah - been there, done that. Hah.
I'm the one in red hanging on in front. More pictures here.
August 27, 2005
Day of the Jump
Weather is pretty good today so it looks as though I'm all set to jump. Word from the dropzone is also positive, so off I go!!!
Later: Landed. More when I get my senses back.
August 25, 2005
Can penguins fly?
On Saturday, The Silent Penguin will be taking to the skies to see if in fact it is true that penguins can't fly. The experiment will be conducted by moi being taken up to a height of 4 Kilometers (doesn't that sound higher than 4000 Meters?) and then leaping out of a plane. I will then attempt to flap my arms to see what happens.
To be on the safe side I hope to be attached to someone carrying some pieces of silk.
Deutsche Bank Research on Blogs
Deutsche Bank Research have published a (German) paper on corporate weblogs. In the paper the research group takes on a somewhat differentiated opinion. On the one hand they write that the deployment and use of corporate weblogs is "limited" - but on the other hand list several areas where corporate weblogs make sense. In all, the paper gives a good overview of the subject and at last it would seem that corporate Germany is slowly beginning to come to terms with this new - and for them revolutionary - form of communication (both internally and externally).
It may be difficult for US companies and employees to understand, but the corporate relevance of communicating with your customers and with your employees is very different over here. German companies still have a long way to go before they realize that the best form of PR is actually letting the employees have their own channel to the outside world. At the same time the companies need to learn that the internal communication has to be just as open. There are no secrets.
August 24, 2005
Bring back the mailing list
Wouldn't it be great to have a way of writing something in a blog and being able to configure who may read that particular entry (or who may not). Sort of a subscription model for individual entries. So as a default all entries are visible but I could (for example) write an entry on a particular theme and then be able to configure the allowed (or prevented) readers. If you happen to be a "prevented" reader then you just wouldn't see the entry.
That would be really handy sometimes. Or maybe just start a subscription based mailing-list. "No, YOU may not subscribe". Hehe.
Optaros expanding in Europe
Waiting to Talk
Google Talk is no longer a rumor. Here my brief early morning review.
Google Talk only provides a Windows client at the moment but you can connect to the service using other Jabber/XMPP capable IM clients on operating systems such as Mac and Linux. Google is planning on bringing the client out on other operating systems in the future. Installing and setting up the client (Windows) was as easy as expected. After entering my Google account details, the Google client automatically detected my proxy and connected up to the service. The client also acts as an email-checker and notifies you of any email in your Gmail account. A click on the "inbox" link automatically opens the browser and takes you to your email. The settings dialog reveals the abitility to monitor connections and settings for audio (input and output). Unfortunately I don't have a microphone connected, so I won't be able to use that bit at the moment.
Voice calling would seem to be limited to those people on Google Talk at the moment - but Google has more planned - as noted in the developer document.
We do not have details at this time on when federation will be enabled. But we are working closely with Earthlink and Sipphone to federate EarthLink's Vling service and Sipphone's Gizmo Project with the Google Talk service as quickly as possible, while offering the best possible user experience.
We are using the federation opportunity with EarthLink and Sipphone to develop a set of guidelines by which all members of the federated network can work together to ensure that we protect our users while maximizing the reach of the network.
Now I need someone to talk to :-) - I'm "mlangham" in case you're online.
August 23, 2005
Increase code coverage - win money
SpikeSource is offering a total of $20,000 in prize money to Open Source projects that enter their Open Testing Contest and manage to fulfill the "winning" criteria of increasing code coverage. Those projects that manage the highest increase can win one of the various prizes. Open Source projects can register to enter by August 31st. Also make sure you read the FAQ.
August 20, 2005
Impressions from Rickopolis
Before my wife gave me the present of a cooking class at Rick Stein's Seafood School, I didn't know who Rick Stein was. TV chefs from the UK are - apart from Jamie Oliver - not present in Germany at all (the Germans are currently breeding their own). Anyway, I read up a bit on Rick Stein and once we arrived in Padstow it became clear that he has left an impression on that little fishing village - "Rick Stein's Cafe", "Stein's Fish and Chips", "The Seafood Restaurant", "St. Petroc's Bistro and Hotel" and in addition a Deli, Patisserie and Gift Shop. Not to forget the "Padstow Seafood School", where I attended a day course in "Fish Cookery of Southern India".
Now, Padsow is a really nice Cornish fishing village, but tourism has somewhat taken over and this is especially true during the July-August holiday season. The town gets so full, you can't move. Really. We had booked a room above Rick Stein's Cafe (we got to eat breakfast in the Cafe) and so were right in the centre of the village. However, we had no luck getting a dinner booking in either the Cafe or Restaurant. We resorted to getting some fish and chips from Stein's Fish and Chips instead of eating the (expensive) real thing. So if you're going - make sure to ring well in advance to book a table!
The cookery course was really interesting and well conceived. I was in a group of 16 people (only 3 woman) and was pleasantly surprised by the lack of cooking "I can do that, easy" colleagues. In the morning we cooked (and ate) a total of three dishes (Mackerel Recheado with Kachumber Salad, Monkfish Caldine and Tumeric Fish with Masala Dhal and Cumin Puris) after watching our Chef Mark prepare the dishes in front of us. Then in teams of 2 (I partnered with Tony from Edinburgh) we tried to repeat what we had just observed and tasted. This included gutting and filleting the fish and then preparing the seasoning etc. In the afternoon we watched three other dishes being prepared (Stuffed Crab with Chili and Coriander, Goan Lobster with Cucumber and Lime and Shark Vindaloo). During the day the two Chefs gave tips and insight into cooking with and for Rick Stein.
I now also know what is supposed to be the most humane way to kill a crab. But I'll leave describing that technique for now. And you don't throw them in boiling water - that's for the lobster.
August 16, 2005
Well, not quite. In a couple of hours, my wife and I leave for Cornwall for a few days relaxation (without the kids) and on Friday I will be attending Rick Stein's Seafood School in Padstow for a one day course on "Southern Indian Fish Cookery". We get back on Saturday and then 2 of our children enter new schools on Monday and Tuesday, so a hectic few days ahead before our vacation season ends and things swing round to normal again.
Oh, and just to keep you in suspense, in a week or so, I plan on jumping out of an airplane from around 4000 meters.
August 14, 2005
August 13, 2005
Windows on the PSP
Even though the Sony PSP still isn't available here in Europe, ever since I saw one in San Francisco in the Spring, I've silently been drooling. I just can't quite figure out how to convince my wife that I need one. And meanwhile, other people are doing some really wicked stuff with the - games - device. I mean the browser hack was neat, but running Windows and Linux on one - madness. But way cool.
August 12, 2005
Ruby On Rails on Mac OS X
I have just spent some "interesting" hours trying to get Ruby On Rails running on my Mac OS X Tiger version. After a seemingly painless install I couldn't get Rails to connect up to the database and just kept getting the "No Database selected" error. The answer seems to be the one described here in the last comment.
Tried all the above advice without success. However, got it running by getting mysql-ruby-2.6.3 from tmtm.org GCC must be set to 4.0 and you must use ‘extconf.rb—with-mysql-dir=/whereever/mysql/lives’
So after downloading the 2.6.3 version of mysql-ruby it was:
sudo gcc_select 4.0 (I had to install XCode 2 for that)
sudo ruby extconf.rb --with-mysql-dir=/usr/local/mysql
sudo make install
After which RoR was happy. And so am I!
August 11, 2005
Podcasting attracts Venture Capital
August 10, 2005
Vodafone launches Vodafone-live cast
Rather quietly, Vodafone Germany have launched an interesting new feature: Vodafone-live cast. Using the cell-broadcast functionality of their network, Vodafone broadcasts information (currently news) to your mobile that is then displayed as a ticker. Click on the headline in the ticker then opens a larger window where a more detailed news headline can be viewed. Another click on an included link and you can read the complete article in the Vodafone-live portal. Vodafone-live cast currently only runs on specific devices that have the client installed. Using the cell-broadcast functionality of the network also enables the broadcast of location aware information. This means that for example you can receive the correct weather information for your particular location automatically based on which cell your mobile is logged into.
Your stack or my stack?
The Open Source stack market, currently dominated by SpikeSource, looks set to heat up soon. Novell are going to announce tested stacks, similar to those offered by SpikeSource. I also heard some rumblings from other Open Source vendors planning similar offerings at LinuxTag.
I'm sure the stacks will differ in some ways, but it is going to mean that customers looking for a tested "collection" of Open Source components are going to get really confused as to which stack they should be using (and which vendor they want to lock themselves into). Companies providing these stacks will need to show that they offer more value than just bundling together some Open Source components and sticking a "tested by us" label on the resulting package.
August 09, 2005
Today seems to be the day of the Open Source conferences. Sebastian announces FrOSCon, a conference on free and Open Source software. The conference takes place next April in Sankt Augustin and is organized by the computer science students from the university there.
Cocoon Portal guru heads east
Today, a Japanese magazine broke the news that Carsten is moving there to head up the newly founded amusement park research lab. Or is it just a report on his Apache Con Europe talk on the Cocoon portal? You decide.
Brian Behlendorf on OSS in the enterprise
Another Open Source conference
August 06, 2005
I've uploaded some pictures from our trip to my Flickr account. Click on the olives.
August 05, 2005
SMS (on a normal phone) sucks
Ok, something I have to get off my chest. I just can't understand how SMS has become so popular. I mean typing a real meaningful message on a phone (without a thumb-keyboard) sucks big time. While in Greece, I had to use my mobile to send a couple of SMS messages that went beyond just "GR8 Holiday" and it took me forever - even using T9. Surely there's room for improvement and innovation there. I hope the person who received them realizes the pain I went through :-).
The all-inclusive business model
I did some thinking about the way an "all-inclusive" vacation works and how this is in many ways similar to parts of the software industry.
The all-inclusive vacation means you pay a fixed sum upfront and don't have anything to pay for while on vacation (food, drink, snacks etc. are all included along with flights and accommodation). So, what does this mean once you've paid and arrived at your holiday destination (bought your software-product)?
First, you get a little armband (license) that you have to wear at all times so the hotel bar-keeper knows you as a legitimate drinker (user). Anyone discovered without that tell-tale armband (i.e. a pirate) is likely to be treated very unkindly.
Because the hotel you stay at provides everything you need (and after all you've already paid for it all), you rarely venture outside the grounds (vendor lock-in). After a few days you begin to realize that maybe the restaurants on the "outside" have tastier looking meals than what your hotel is now providing (open source alternatives?).
All-inclusive hotels must also be hindering some economic growth in their regions - because the tourists invest little (if anything) into the regional restaurants etc.
An interesting problem (to me anyway) is how the hotels motivate their employees. After all, the traditional method of receiving tips (gratuities) doesn't work, as the tourists in the hotel don't carry money around with them (they don't need any). This seems somewhat similar to the gratification that working on Open Source projects brings (through feedback etc.) compared to working in a closed-source environment.
All-inclusive vacations also appear to be cheaper than the "roll-your-own" self-catering vacations. But for us at least it works out to be pretty much the same price for both (even with 3 kids). The only advantage being that by the time you get to your holiday hotel, you've nearly forgotten the large sum you paid out a few months before. So, when you go for that third drink - you feel as though it's "for free", when of course it's not.
Starting the startups
A while back, I blogged about how only 26 German startups received seed-funding in 2004 and how it seems that Europe is seriously lagging behind when it comes to new entrepreneurs making the news. This trend seems to be continuing. Tom Coates from the BBC has this post that then led to Nat's thread on the subject. One of the comments analyzes the problems behind this pretty well in my opinion.
Even though getting funding (especially seed-funding) may not be as easy in the US as everyone will have you believe, this initial round of money (somewhere in the region of $600.000) may be crucial to boot-strapping an entrepreneurial economy.
In general, experienced European employees will be sitting in a company that provides them with a regular good wage, pension plan, plenty of vacation (6 weeks in Germany), healthcare, a contract that basically means the company can't fire you unless you do something criminal (in Germany that is) and other benefits. So, moving from that to "starting something on a shoestring" probably doesn't exactly light up any entrepreneurial sparks in those employees (or their families - a factor that may be even more important and is often overlooked).
I have a very good friend who has been running his own company (several of them actually) since school - and even though he has been very successful as an entrepreneur - he still makes sure he spends several weeks a year over in the US "in the Valley". He says that soaking up the culture there - gives him the strength to overcome some of the problems and lackluster he encounters over here.
Unfortunately we don't seem to be any closer to solving these (and other) problems and meanwhile the US based startups - sure, 80% will fail but that still leaves 20% - are at the gates.
August 04, 2005
Open Source vacation link roundup
Here's a roundup of things that happened while I was away. I'm sure there were many more.
Optaros announces a European presence. Smart move and one I'm sure the other Open Source business startups will soon follow.
SpikeSource, Carnegie Mellon West Center for Open Source Investigation, O'Reilly and Intel launch "Business Readiness Rating" (BRR) as a "standard model of rating Open Source software".
Nat Torkington from O'Reilly starts a thread about the lack of Open Source related startups in Europe.
ApacheCon Europe ends (and seems to have been a success) and OSCON is underway. I miss both because of my vacation.
Apache gets a new company - well sort of. Dims and Sanjiva start WSO2. Congratulations! They are "creating an uncompromising middleware platform for Web services which treats Web services as first class components instead of as a facade to some existing platform like J2EE". All the software will be Open Source.
So, we've just arrived back from our first ever "all-inclusive" hotel-vacation on Rhodes. I'm sure I'll need a bit to "get back to normal" but we had a great time even if I do have a small gripe. The weather :-) - I mean 14 days of waking up to clear blue skies, bright sunshine and a temperature of around 35 degrees C can get somewhat .. um.. boring. I mean a cloud or two would have been - well - an event. But still, I suppose that's why you go there in the first place. Anyway, we spent most of the time by the pool but we also took a look round the island on a couple of hot and sweaty day-trips. I'll get some pictures up later. Anyway, the kids loved it and prefer this sort of holiday to the self-catering holiday-home in Denmark/Holland vacations we've been doing for the past 12 years or so. So I guess...
Meanwhile, let's see what else has been happening while I've been away.