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Freedom-free Week: A Viking Reports from the Front Lines


AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, November 19 (RT)Hein-Pieter Van Braam, self described as “an arrogant viking,” has engaged in a David Blaine-style self-imposed total isolation experiment. The task: to survive a week using all proprietary Software. Van Braam has dubbed it, “The Freedom-Free Week.”

For seven days, or until he chickens out, Van Braam will use the proprietary operating system Windows Vista for all of his daily computing needs. In an early, exclusive interview Van Braam stated: “Well, I hate to admit it, but after you’ve looked at it for a while it looks kinda slick.” Adding, “But I haven’t gotten much further than the desktop, Internet Explorer, and the screenshooter app.”

Best knownfor his blogroll link on the prominent open source blog Open Source Advocacy with Reverend Ted, and minorly for his participation in the LugRadio community, Van Braam is well known for his extremist Free Software viewpoint. Said Ubuntu community manager and LugRadio host Jono Bacon, “Oh, yeah, he’s a real nutter, that one. Seems like he gets on one of his barely articulate Free Software rants just by telling him hello. Makes me quite uncomfortable, actually.”

As Van Braam slogs his way through this seven-day trial, he reports his findings on his blog. In our exclusive interview, Van Braam shared that, “The small [Aeroglass] 3d effects are executed quite nicely, in my humble opinion. I can’t really compare it to compiz as I don’t run it.” Concluding, “Although…user interface consistency is an entirely alien concept to Microsoft. It feels like I’m running WxWidgets, Qt, GTK+ and Tk apps.”

To learn more about Van Braam’s “Freedom-Free Week” experiment and findings, visit http://blog.tmm.cx.

____

Addenda and Errata:

  • If I have mischaracterized Mr. Van Braam in any way–especially in a libelious way–it was entirely unintentional.
  • The genesis of this fake news report was a simple request from Hein-Pieter to me, asking me to simply mention and link to his project.
  • Jono Bacon’s quote is not so much a quote as a paraphrasing of Mr. Bacon’s general sentiment about Mr. Van Braam, albeit with far fewer expletives, colorful gesticulating, and complete-loss-for-words halting pauses. Check comments below, frequently, to confirm whether Mr. Bacon refutes, endorses, or embellishes upon the quote.
  • The link to David Blaine implies that Mr. Blaine is an idiot. I do not support this position, as it could be proven libelious. However, I do support the position that Mr. Blaine is a self-absorbed, batshit fucktard.
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Identi.ca: What’s the Point?


Note: Contrary to the title’s implication, this is not an anti-microblogging post. Originally a skeptic, I’m converted to the value of microblogging.

Addendum: Please be sure to read some of the very thoughtful comments made by Bob Jonkman, Hein-Pieter Van Braam, Craig, and Odin Omdal Hørthe. They managed to sway my opinion about Identi.ca.

A listener of the Linux Action Show left a comment about a statement I made on the show, something to the effect of, “I’m not on Identi.ca, because…what’s the point?”

I knew right after saying it that would rub a few people the wrong way. I don’t really have anything against Identi.ca. The glib tone of that comment is rooted in something I have asserted many times in my advocacy of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). I’ll state it again, this time in the context of web applications and services.

Let’s first lay out a couple definitions:

  • Identi.ca is a microblogging service that is very similar to Twitter
  • Laconica is the FOSS offering that powers Identi.ca

Onward we go…

Is Laconica Cloneware?

Long, long ago, I posted some thoughts on “cloneware”: free software that simply knocks off the functionality of a proprietary offering mainly for the sake of replicating the proprietary offering. Typically, what results is a cheaper, crappier version of the original. There are notable exceptions, and I hardly mean to suggest that its wrong to replicate just for the sake of doing it. But if the only goal is to replicate–meaning there is no other driving reason such as new innovation–then I don’t expect a very inspiring offering. (SourceForge is littered with many such dead-end projects.)

So is Laconica cloneware? No, I don’t think it is. Laconica is useful. For example, with Laconica organizations can freely implement their own microblogging hosts for whatever need they may have, such as hosting a confidential microblog. Laconica also demonstrates innovation. As an example, it allows you to federate your Laconica host with other Laconica hosts. So, if Laconica perhaps started off as mere cloneware, it then demonstrates that cloneware can beget innovation.

So, my “What’s the point?” comment was not at all aimed at Laconica. It was about Identi.ca. Why would I use Identi.ca?

Religiosity & FOSS: Why I Use Twitter instead of Identi.ca

I disagree with those who feel that we should all use FOSS for the principle of it. That sentiment is arrogant B.S. promoted by those who spend too much time enagaged in technological omphaloskepsis. Sure, you can make a case for how we all need to support OSS at every opportunity, but to me, it starts to sound a lot like religious dogma after a certain point.

I love innovations that provide me with a new and useful tool that just works. So while I advocate Free Software as a great delivery mechanism of new innovations, I have no issue with using a proprietary service that gets a job done. Twitter is a great example of such a service.

Twitter costs me nothing. Usually, it just works. For the price, I’m okay with when it doesn’t. It has an API that gives sufficient freedom for my data. Twitter also has a user base that dwarfs any other Microblogging service, which is very important. Much like Facebook, I can find almost every wired person in one place. The originators of Twitter were responsible for the advent of microblogging, and consequently they have a massive user base. I see nothing inherently evil with Twitter. In my opinion, they earned their success, and I’m comfortable to be one of their millions of users.

So, when I asked “what’s the point?” about Identi.ca, I was being deliberately provocative because I don’t see any advantage to using Identi.ca. Identi.ca cannot lure me away from Twitter merely by virtue of its use of a FOSS offering instead of a proprietary system. As I see it, Identi.ca is simply a knock off of a well-established service. Unlike Laconica, I don’t see its purpose.

Google Chrome Bluescreened My Windows XP VM!


Google Chrome

…and in a sick way, it was really kind of cool.

I’ve been playing with Google Chrome for a couple days.

But because Chrome is only available (natively) for Windows right now, I have to run a Windows XP virtual machine on my Linux machine (which still runs openSUSE).

And since I hardly ever need to use Windows anymore, the VM needed several updates, see?

So, I’m a-browsin’ and a-updatin’, and really enjoying how well the browser performs–especially with AJAX–while wondering how much the snappiness will decrease when Chrome is laden with more full set of browser features…

…and then Windows Update completes its work and tells me to reboot.

So, I click the “Close” option and skip the “Restart” so that I can do a Shutdown-and-Apply-Updates instead, because that’s how I want to do it, see?

But Chrome doesn’t want to close down. In fact, it stops responding altogether. Now Google Chrome is in a stare down with Windows shutdown.

Well, you know what Windows does to programs that don’t stop. That’s right, it puts up dialog messages. This one essentially says, “He don’t wanna go, boss. Can I kill’im?”

But before I can even respond, Chrome frickin’ blue screens Windows. As the kids say these days, >Snap!<

Next thing I know, I’m watching the VMware POST process emulation, and hoping that my VM is not hopelessly corrupted.

Good old nostalgia…I haven’t seen a Blue Screen of Death on my own machine in ages.

Now Seeking My Next Gig


As a short update on my status, I’m now beginning to seek my next exciting role in technology.

As of Monday morning, I no longer work for Bungee Labs. My departure is part of Bungee Labs’ continuing restructuring that started with a larger layoff in late August.

I gained a lot from working with the Bungee team. I come away with a solid basis in object-oriented programming, its major design patterns, and an innovative re-take on the Model-View-Controller architectural pattern.  I learned how to work with RESTful, SOAP and other XML web APIs. And I gained an enormous amount of experience in relating to developers and building a developer program. All in all, I leave with new experience and skills that are particularly well suited for today’s technology market.

I’m still in the process of assembling my go-to-market-myself plan, but if you know of an organization seeking an innovative evangelist/community manager/developer-marketer or other tech generalist-specialist, please point them to my LinkedIn Profile.

Thanks,

Ted

Heading to FOSScamp!


FOSSCamp is coming up on December 5 & 6 at the GooglePlex, and I just got cleared to attend.

FOSSCamp is an un-conference designed to get different Open Source projects together to discuss how to work together in different ways.

Several of my friends and fellow followers of Free Software will be attending the event. I hope to have a lot of discussions regarding some ideas I have been working on around choices for Free Software licenses.

If you’re planning to attend FOSScamp, too, please leave a comment.

FOSScamp Facebook Event

Google Chrome’s Evil User License Agreement


Google’s first EULA for Chrome:

Then, they back off:

Perhaps heard in the hallowed halls of the Googleplex:

  • “You mean, somebody actually reads those things? Dang.”

Most interesting will be Chris DiBona‘s response. I suspect that it was a dumbshit in Google’s legal department rather than actual evil intent, but as I write this, I’m suspect that a million paranoid trolls are pecking out the complete works of Shakespeare in blogcomment pentameter.

Salesforce.com: A New Microsoft?


Salesforce.comSalesforce.com’s rapid rise to success has been the subject of much debate and speculation. Is Salesforce.com a complete anomaly, a lone black swan in a software market that remains steadfast in its traditional delivery model? In what other market category than Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has Software-as-a-Service been so wildly successful?

CRM seems an obvious choice for business success in Software as a Service (SaaS). Salesforce.com solidly meets a market need that is crisply defined, enabling companies to eschew the need to host their own CRM applications. I suspect that there is little need for me to explain why the “No Software” value proposition appeals to so many small and mid-sized businesses.

While watching CEO Marc Benioff’s keynote at Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce conference at San Francisco’s Moscone center last fall, I looked back over my shoulder at a vast crowd of thousands who seemed to hang on Benioff’s every word. Salesforce.com has developed what so all technology marketers should covet: a cult following. They have won the SaaS lottery in a huge way.

Salesforce.com’s success does more than merely demonstrate that the SaaS model works for CRM. With their first major success in SaaS already well established, they are well poised to control a significant portion of the growing SaaS market, which goes well beyond CRM. Benioff’s speech was accordingly bullish about this proposition.

A while back, I discussed how the ability to increment features will continually be one of the ways that SaaS asserts its power against both the purchase-and-install model of traditional software, or the download-and-use model of free/open source software. Big companies now have the SaaS/CRM space in their sites: Microsoft with Dynamics, Oracle with Orace CRM On Demand. Will these giants be able to carve into Salesforce’s dominance enough to unseat its leadership? If Salesforce.com keeps its market focus, perhaps they can outpace the new entrants by applying the feature crank-up that their SaaS leadership provides them.

At the same time, Salesforce may be seeking to become to SaaS what its two major assailants are to their own market spaces. Now firmly established as the in-the-cloud CRM platform—and supported by an increasingly sophisticated set of web APIs—is it possible that Salesforce.com has achieved the market power to stifle aspiring SaaS startups from attaining similar success in other markets beside CRM? That is, could they become (or are they already becoming) the Microsoft of SaaS?

Indeed, Benioff declared from the Dreamforce main stage that Salseforce.com now looks to enter into many new SaaS market spaces as to lay the groundwork for the new Force.com to eclipse Salesforce.com itself. The name implies a lot: it sets them up to break free from the CRM cocoon, and emerge something much broader.

As I listened, it occurred to me that any company wanting to win big in a potential SaaS market space would now be required to outmaneuver the emerging Force.com (as well as the entrepreneurs using force.com as a platform). Whether by leveraging it or by out-innovating it, aspiring SaaS entrepreneurs must now consider how Force.com factors into their business plans.

Here is where the rapid pace of innovation through collective collaboration touted by Free Software meets firm competition. The time-to-market advantage gained by using a cloud-based platform is considerable: while roll-your-own start-ups stitch together their data centers, LAMP stacks, etc., those companies that choose to launch from a cloud-based platforms will be delivering actual products. A reasonably priced, readily available platform offers much to the entrepreneur.

By introducing Force.com, Salesforce.com reveals aspirations that some readers might find unsettling. How much will force.com affect and influence innovation in SaaS? What constraints might force.com put upon Freedom—both software freedom and market freedom? To date, Salesforce.com things to get right in their development and pricing models, and they have yet to break out from the “mainly for CRM” association that most people make. Nevertheless, the potential of Salesforce.com becoming an industry monolith raises concern about openness in hosted platforms.

Notes
As I have noted in several earlier posts,
the platform in which I am involved, Bungee Connect, is still a proprietary offering using its own language. I believe Bungee Connect must move toward more openness to become a broadly accepted technology, free from the threat of monopolizing the SaaS platform market.

Nevertheless, even as a proprietary offering, I would assert that Bungee Connect is well-suited as an alternative to force.com for delivering SaaS applications. Yes, the pricing model beats out force.com, But more importantly to the goal of openness, the development model allows developers to create applications that are independent from the company providing it (for example, you own your own user registration, completely independent from that of Bungee Labs).

Updates
June 27, 2008: Salesforce Times picked up this post, somehow gleaning a positive from my comment about outmaneuvering Force.com.