Sunday, August 31, 2003
The recent organizational and financial maneuvers, the Microsoft executives say, are the preparations of an ambitious company on the cusp of a new cycle of opportunity and growth. The changes in how people work, play and communicate using digital devices of all kinds, they say, are really just beginning, and software — especially Microsoft software — will make them happen."
Saturday, August 30, 2003
Microsoft declined to say when the launch would be."
Friday, August 29, 2003
I think the folks at Sun need to spend a bit more time keeping up with industry news.
1. I think it’s good to use different platforms. Gives you perspective.
2. Lots and lots of fun, interesting new software on the Mac.
3. I’m tired of Windows.
4. Hoping some of the elegance of the Mac and the iApps rubs off on this old software designer when he works on chandler."
"From Times Online, via Matt:
Microsoft's plan is to introduce a special "safe" environment as part of a wider effort to develop what it calls "next generation secure computing base". Mr Eckert added: "We aim to create an environment in which you can run unknown code securely, and so preventing problems for users who, in a moment of weakness, have clicked on the wrong button."Amazing! Why hasn't anyone thought of this before???"
Includes a link to an overview of Lotus Notes execution control lists, which IBM should be doing a lot more to broadly publicize these days.
The consortium, which counts Microsoft as a member, said the company will make changes 'very soon' to its Internet Explorer program that 'may affect a large number of existing Web pages.' The group made the claims in a statement on its Web site, citing conversations with unidentified Microsoft officials.
Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler said the company 'may take precautionary steps in response to the ruling.' He declined to say what those steps are and confirmed that Microsoft has talked to the consortium about the ruling."
"I just saw Sun's new Linux desktop, called Mad Hatter, which is "designed to be familiar to business desktop application users;" read "a complete ripoff of the Windows XP user interface," right down to the branding on the side of the Start menu.
When I worked on Lotus 1-2-3(tm) years ago, we spent untold amounts of time designing its user interface, coding it, testing its usability, refining it, and documenting it. A user interface represents an enormous amount of intellectual and capital investment for a software company; when the 1-2-3 clones arrived I certainly felt that they were taking advantage of our work.
The more important question is, why not innovate? Sun certainly has the capital and the developers. Innovation and competition make all of us developers better."
I had a similar reaction -- Sun appears to be betting on "good enough" in most of its software endeavors these days, while Microsoft, with its 2003 product releases (and beyond), is innovating a lot.
Ever since the April launch of Windows Server 2003, every major benchmark run by Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition and SQL Server 2000 64-bit set a new record for raw performance.
Still, Microsoft's run at the top has been far from a waste. In the past, Microsoft's best efforts for non-clustered scalability petered out with Microsoft somewhere in the range of 25 percent to 50 percent of the top-end scalability of the highest-end systems. No longer. This time SQL Server and Windows Datacenter appear to have topped out at 95 percent of the raw-performance capacity of the top systems -- way beyond the real-world requirements of even the most demanding systems."
Thursday, August 28, 2003
A poll released by the Entertainment Software Association and conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates found that 26 percent of game players are women 18 or older, while 21 percent are boys 6 to 17.
Video gaming traditionally has been seen as the province of teen boys locked in dark rooms, twitching away at game consoles. In recent years, however, the industry has worked to publish games catering to kids, women and older gamers.
In line with that trend, adults over 50 now make up 17 percent of the gaming population, the ESA said, compared with 13 percent three years ago.
The largest group of gamers, at 38 percent, is comprised of men 18 and up, while girls 6 to 17 account for 12 percent of game players, the poll found."
Taking a cue from Brad Cox (inventor of the Objective C language), Box, XML architect with Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft, likened objects to software-based integrated circuits and said programmers would do better to focus on services. Box spoke at the XML Web Services One conference here.
'Very few people work in a chip plant, and they all wear hairnets,' Box quipped. 'There are so many more people who are needed to take the chips and put them onto boards.' "
Seems reasonable to me, but see ensuing controversy. I think the main point is that the ratio of object/component architects to application assemblers is shifting, and I see that as a signal that object/component-oriented development is succeeding by making app dev much more accessible to a larger group of developers (using scripting/SOA/etc. tools).
Via Ed Brill and others -- an interesting enterprise email reality check.
This is a real milestone. It was only two summers ago that name-brand Windows laptops dropped below the $1,000 barrier. But now, you can pick up a pretty fair laptop for just $799, though reaching that price sometimes involves a mail-in rebate.
These $799 laptops aren't the ultrathin, lightweight models you envy on airplanes. Nor are they screaming, do-everything behemoths with huge, wide-screen displays.
Instead, they are boxy, 6- to 8-pound computers with 14- or 15-inch screens that are perfectly suited for use by college or high-school students, or as the second or third PC in a household."
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
To fuel its drive into modeling, Microsoft has been amassing a core of top-level UML and modeling talent, just as the company has done in XML and Web services, sources said. Over the past year, Microsoft has hired a series of UML experts, including four who previously worked for Rational: Jochen Seemann, Wojtek Kozaczynski, Jack Greenfield and Ed Eykholt."
I hope they fix their data modeling tools as well; the current data modeling templates in Visio leave much to be desired.
Monday, August 25, 2003
Sunday, August 24, 2003
"The evolution of open source has been remarkable since Richard Stallman proposed the concept. Today, many open source projects are recognized as high-quality undertakings, often exceeding the quality of commercial offerings while providing greater performance and more features. This comes naturally from the open nature of the source code, where many developers can study the code, find and fix flaws, and validate the security and proper operation of the code for production use.
Open source has been beneficial to TiVo and will continue to be in the foreseeable future. Careful management of our sources to abide by the terms of the GNU General Public License while protecting our proprietary developments is a small price to pay for this benefit."
Net Losses (washingtonpost.com): 'Stealing Time: Steve Case, Jerry Levin, and the Collapse of AOL Time Warner' by Alec Klein
Friday, August 22, 2003
See post for some speculative details.
Healthcare Industry Starts Building and Deploying Solutions Based on New Microsoft Office System Platform
'I think the company has gone through an identity crisis,' Mr. Waitt said in an interview at company headquarters in Poway, a San Diego suburb. 'We are fundamentally changing the business. Our PC is still an important part, but it's a PC and other integrated product lines, rather than a PC with a bunch of stuff sold around it.'"
On Thursday, the Provo, Utah-based company said it lost 3 cents per share during the third fiscal quarter on revenue of $283 million, which was up slightly from the $282 million posted during the same quarter in 2002.
As a result of its continuing economic downturn, Novell said it decided to cut nearly 10 percent of its workforce this quarter, or 600 positions. The reduction in operating expenses will save Novell $75 million, the bulk of which will benefit the company's bottom line in the first fiscal quarter of 2004, executives said.
Despite the CEO's comments, sources close to the company said Messman's right-hand man, Chris Stone, vice chairman of the Office of the CEO, has been known to say often that the company's NetWare franchise is over and that Linux and Web services are the future.
The messaging is somewhat dangerous, considering that 70 percent of the company's revenue comes from NetWare products, training, technical support and maintenance, sources said."
"Well, our clan has now transferred its flag to the opposite coast. We arrived in Seattle on Sunday, are living in a corporate apartment for the moment (waiting for our house back East to sell), and are stuck with a 56k line!
We're having gorgeous, spectacular (I'm told highly unusual) weather, we've been doing a bit of sightseeing before I go to work on Monday; but we miss all our friends and family."
Thursday, August 21, 2003
The software and services offering is designed to simplify the administration of in-store processes and reduce training time by improving access to information and collaboration and communication among store employees.
The new offering integrates the IBM Lotus LMS e-learning application and IBM WebSphere Portal for a combined employee training and information sharing environment. Store managers can also use the portal to monitor and respond to changing business conditions. The product includes reporting and information delivery technology from Crystal Decisions Inc.
IBM shipped the first Workplace product, Workplace Messaging, in May. The mail server, built on IBM's WebSphere application server, is designed to bring e-mail to deskless workers. Retail is a key vertical that IBM is targeting for the product, along with manufacturing and transportation."
... Corel is most widely known for its graphics applications, including the long-running CorelDraw line, and for WordPerfect, the word processing and related office software the company acquired from Novell in 1996. CorelDraw's market share has slowly eroded in recent years, a result of increasingly tough competition from Adobe Systems and other rivals. In addition, WordPerfect has yet to make a significant dent in the dominance of Microsoft's Office despite recent deals with PC makers that put Corel's software on many low-end PCs."
$98M buyout for a company reportedly holding ~$75M in cash and no debt.
Around 2.68 million handsets based on Symbian technology shipped during the first half of the year, up more than 1000 per cent from the 230,000 that shipped in the first half of 2002."
Analysts say Dell's move is an aggressive effort by the world's largest PC maker to grab more market share from H-P, which said earlier this week that its personal-computer unit slipped into the red in its fiscal third quarter ended July 31 because of overly aggressive price-cutting.
Trying to take advantage of a competitor that has stumbled is becoming a common tactic in this downturn, especially among low-cost companies that can use their efficiency as leverage to gain new customers. Low-cost, low-fare airlines such as JetBlue Airways have drawn passengers that used to fly the large network carriers, while low-cost retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. push down prices to lure shoppers from traditional grocery and department stores."
Example of latest Dell pricing: $499 desktop with 15" flat panel display.
In the wake of increasingly widespread corporate adoption of instant messaging, technology companies are taking the concept of real-time communication and collaboration one step further. They are finding that "presence" information -- a worker's location, availability and connectivity, which appears on the desktop as a window or icon -- can be integrated into a variety of other business-software applications."
File under "mixed blessings" ... at least until more HailStorm-like models get real.
"A while ago, I decided to base the book-tour readings from my pseudoreligious tract The New Sins on sales presentations. I was going for a fair dose of irony and satire, and what could be better than using PowerPoint and a projector, the same tools that every sales and marketing person relies on?
Having never used the program before, I found it limiting, inflexible, and biased, like most software. On top of that, PowerPoint makes hilariously bad-looking visuals. But that's a small price to pay for ease and utility. We live in a world where convenience beats quality every time. It was, for my purposes, perfect.
I began to see PowerPoint as a metaprogram, one that organizes and presents stuff created in other applications. Initially, I made presentations about presentations; they were almost completely without content. The content, I learned, was in the medium itself. I discovered that I could attach my photographs, short videos, scanned images, and music. What's more, the application can be made to run by itself -no one even needs to be at the podium. How fantastic!"
Every other feed I've read in the last 24 hours has referenced the companion "PowerPoint is Evil" article by Edward Tufte...
"Apparently cbrumme was backed up after two weeks fighting the blaster virus internally, because he lets loose with a tour de force of details about managed and unmanaged startup and shutdown as well as a trailer on writing secure code in general. Fun to read if you like this level of detail (and the part about secure code at the end should be read by everyone)."
Wednesday, August 20, 2003
"There are major changes currently underway in the collaboration software market and a company named Casahl Technology is uniquely well-positioned to help enterprises address the challenges that come with the changes. Several of my previous SmartSolutionsNOW columns covered elements of Microsoft's communication and collaboration strategy, including PlaceWare, SharePoint, the Microsoft/Groove relationship, and Microsoft's real-time strategy. But there are some bigger-picture themes and challenges for enterprises using collaboration software products from Microsoft, IBM, and other vendors."
The article goes on to outline the challenges and Casahl's solution.
See my publications index for links to the other referenced articles.
"A group of Corel shareholders will ask an Ontario court this week to block a $120-million US takeover by Vector Capital, claiming Corel's management and board were in a conflict of interest when they agreed to the deal. The shareholders group, which calls itself Corel Rescue, argues Vector's offer of $1.05 US per share is too low and that, with $75 million US in cash and no debt, the Ottawa software company has enough resources to remain independent. The group also claims Corel's board of directors and its senior management hasn't acted in the best interest of most of the company's shareholders who are comprised largely of individuals with relatively small holdings. The deal needs approval from the Ontario Superior Court in addition to shareholder approval. Vector, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm which includes Microsoft co-founder Paul Allan among its backers, became Corel's largest shareholder when it bought nearly 23 million class A shares from Microsoft in March."
If so, consider yourself right. Thanks to the expertise of sociologist Marc Smith, Microsoft is keeping a close eye on newsgroups and other public e-mail lists, which it has identified as the Internet's undervalued 'knowledge management application.'
In Microsoft's research and development labs, Smith has spent the past several years slicing and dicing data about messages and message authors in an ambitious effort to help people make sense of the newsgroup manifold--the hordes of know-it-alls, flame warriors, spammers and neophytes who, by Smith's estimate, last year numbered more than 100 million in the Usenet network of e-mail threads, or newsgroups."
Not everyone in the RSS community is as bullish as Gillmor.
"I can see the headline now, 'Death of E-mail. News at 11,'" said Kevin Burton, who created the aggregator NewsMonster. "I don't think so." [Wired via Scripting News]'
Me neither. It'll show up in RSS at 11."
I agree there will be consolidation toward fewer clients focused on channels and items, and that email, for many people, will be just another channel (along with RSS news feeds, IM, and others). On a related note, see Pito Salas on "Can your mother use RSS?"
After a number of comments to my previous post, some a bit acid-etched, questioning why I was using Exchange at all instead of a Lotus/IBM product for calendaring, I checked and realized I had never posted an explanation about my product choice, though it's been a staple of my informal talks and speeches for a long time.
One of the top requirements in a PIM for me is to have a shared calendar. My assistant Esther Sun schedules appointments and keeps my calendar, so we both need access to it. My wife Freada and I co-ordinate our professional and personal lives, so we need to see and update each other's calendars. Freada has an office staff for her consulting work and her non-profit activities and they need access. And so on.
Lotus Notes with a Domino server does a good job with calendars, but because of the high administrative overhead it doesn't make sense in a small office. In fact, Ray Ozzie, the product's creator freely acknowledges it's not a sensible option for an installation under 500 seats. It's not a lack of loyalty to my old company but pure pragmatism which steered me away. (The Groove calendar, by the way, is unfortunately underpowered for our needs.) Outlook/Exchange was the least bad of all the existing alternatives.
The constraints of the Exchange-based solution have been, of course, a major motivation, for the development of Chandler."
I wish this type of conventional wisdom were challenged more often. I've been using hosted Notes/Domino from eApps for several months at $40/month, for example -- for up to 10 users/Notes ids, 5 gigabytes of Web traffic, multiple FTP accounts (i.e., the same $40/month covers my Web site), etc. I also think a lot of the admin overhead will persist even if the software part of the equation is made "as simple as possible" and free.
Users have to upgrade to the latest versions of MSN or Windows Messenger by Oct. 15 or they will no longer be able to log on, Microsoft spokesman Sean Sundwall said. The upgrade is required because of 'security issues' with the older versions of the Messenger clients, he said, declining to specify those issues.
Besides those older Messenger clients, the move also affects IM software such as Trillian, Imici and Odigo that allow users to consolidate multiple IM accounts in one client, Sundwall said. "
Sinofsky: When you think about the Microsoft Office System, picture it as an ecosystem that represents a combination of familiar and easy-to-use programs, servers and services that are intended to help information workers address a broader array of business challenges. It encompasses the core Microsoft Office client applications, as well as FrontPage 2003, Visio 2003, Project 2003 and Publisher 2003, as well as our two new desktop applications, InfoPath 2003 and OneNote 2003. With the addition of servers, such as SharePoint Portal Server 2003, Project Server 2003 and the Live Communications Server 2003, users will be able to take advantage of deeper collaboration capabilities and communication tools like live chats within familiar productivity applications right from their PCs.
The Microsoft Office System represents a fundamental shift in the way we think about desktop productivity. Although the individual components of the Microsoft Office System provide a great value to customers, the key to maximizing value lies in using the components as an integrated business solution. For example, Microsoft Office System-based solutions systematically couple client-based and server-based applications to deliver better communication and collaboration efficiency, as well as access to relevant business data.
Before we began building the Microsoft Office System, we talked to customers about what's working and not working for them in our products. We identified the key business challenges faced by information workers in order to institute the critical changes needed to deliver greater value to customers. What we found is our customers wanted to be more agile. They want to manage their information better and be able to act on that information quickly. The Microsoft Office System provides the ability to efficiently manage and process information, it gives customers the ability to distribute that information to the people who need it -- when they need it --and it enables our customers to act on that information with a speed that gives their business a sustained competitive advantage."
Monday, August 18, 2003
The Seattle Times: Business & Technology: Fuzzy reception: Microsoft's rocky ventures in cable TV may pay off
The company has spent years wooing the cable industry with billions of dollars and the promise of high-tech innovation that would revolutionize the way people watch television. But after all this time, the closest it has come to getting into most televisions is through its own commercials.
That hasn't stopped Microsoft from doggedly pursuing the cable business, however, and its persistence may finally be starting to pay off. The company now offers new digital cable tools and an interactive program guide, and cable's big players are paying serious attention. "
Thursday, August 14, 2003
But Microsoft appears to have something larger in mind: a soup-to-nuts computer-security service for Windows desktops. Such a service would pose a major threat to companies like Symantec, the maker of Norton security software, the leader in the consumer market, and Network Associates Inc., which makes the popular McAfee security software."
But the early legal maneuverings in the suit suggest the impact could be far broader. For the first time, the suit promises to test the legal underpinnings that have allowed free software such as Linux to become a potent challenge to programs made by Microsoft Corp. and others. Depending on the outcome, the suit could strengthen or drastically weaken the free-software juggernaut.
The reason: In filing its legal response to the suit last week, IBM relied on an obscure software license that undergirds most of the free-software industry. Called the General Public License, or GPL, it requires that the software it covers, and derivative works as well, may be copied by anyone, free of charge. IBM's argument is that SCO, in effect, "signed" this license by distributing Linux for years, and therefore can't now turn around and demand fees. It's somewhat like Coca-Cola Co. selling its secret recipe on the Internet, then suing people who brewed their own cola based on it.
Now, SCO is preparing to wheel out the software-industry equivalent of a nuclear bomb: It will argue that the GPL itself is invalid, says SCO's lead attorney, Mark Heise of Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP. Mr. Heise says the GPL, by allowing unlimited copying and modification, conflicts with federal copyright law, which allows software buyers to make only a single backup copy. The GPL "is pre-empted by copyright law," he says."
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
'[Outlook Express] just sits where it is,' said Dan Leach, lead product manager for Microsoft's information worker product management group. 'The technology doesn't go away, but no new work is being done. It is consumer e-mail in an early iteration, and our investment in the consumer space is now focused around Hotmail and MSN. That's where we're putting the emphasis in terms of new investment and new development work.' "
Via JD on MX
In a lame attempt to be hip, pols are posting soggy, foggy, bloggy musings on the Internet. Inspired by Howard Dean's success in fund-raising and mobilizing on the Web, candidates are crowding into the blogosphere — spewing out canned meanderings in a genre invented by unstructured exhibitionists."
ISight's biggest drawback is you won't be able to do video chatting with most of the world, which uses Windows and slow, dial-up connections. In fact, the system works with such a small percentage of Internet users that there are several Web sites dedicated to matching up iSight users for video conversations.
Still, Apple often sets the trend for other companies. And sometimes, as in the case of the iPod music player, the company even deigns to extend its products to Windows users over time. So Apple's success in video instant messaging holds hope for all of us."
"Think different" -- as in not-for-profit, apparently...
"First Xeni Jardin goes on NPR, and now we're in The Onion.
Things are heating up in the social networking space. Especially the The Tribe.net scene. Migration from Friendster is slow, but picking up steam.
I can't wait till Friendster decides to start charging.
I'm actually having fun on Tribe.net. The next thing you know, they'll start posting publicly stated policies and flip the switch on actual beta iterations - caused by listening to end-users.Tribe.net's Listings service could well end up being the first web services for social software. I really think Mark Pincus is gonna pull it off. But he's got to make sure to balance any web service he offers, with allowing other web services into HIS world (the Tribe.net.)One could imagine a wide range of consumer Internet services - like digital downloading, photo printing, on-line gaming, tournaments, contests, all sorts of stuff - being available - as part of your 'social network'.The digital lifestyle deserves cool things. Automatically.Think Technorati for jukeboxes, Blogrolling.com for restaurant reviews and TypePad for interactive media."
Via Marc's voice
Many thousands of people make a very good living writing, creating and running computer games.
Rather fewer people earn a wage playing games professionally by taking the top cash prizes at tournaments around the world.
But Julian Dibbell is not trying to support himself, wife and daughter by programming or playing.
Instead in April 2004, he will declare to the US Internal Revenue Service that his main source of income is the sale of imaginary goods."
Via Chris Sells
Tuesday, August 12, 2003
The suite, known as IBM Community Tools, is designed to allow users to interact with communities, such as customer and partner communities, in a peer-to-peer network.
Features of ICT include SkillTap, which instantly broadcasts requests for help to the community's online subscribers; FreeJam, for holding just-in-time discussions with community members; PollCast, for polling the community and receiving anonymous survey results; TeamRing, for conducting Web presentations; w3alert, for sending alerts to community members, with optional links to Internet pages; and Question Search, for using natural language to search multiple knowledge bases and receive rated answers before asking the community for help. "
Yesterday, I learned from Beverly DeWitt (WebSphere Studio product manager) that WebSphere Studio Application Developer/Site Developer 5.1, which hit general availability on August 1, has some of the anticipated 'RAD for J2EE' features . For example:
Web Site Designer (a graphical hierarchy/page management interface)
a new tools palette that you drag/drop components
free-layout mode (x-y type of object placement)
enhanced attributes views
Quick Edit view (like Domino Deisgner's programmer's pane)
easier to use project navigator (like Domino Designer)"
(See Ed's post for live links; at the moment, I can only use the FeedDemon + w.bloggar combination to create truncated postings, so I reverted to the BlogThis! tool from IE for this post. I'm otherwise very pleased with FeedDemon, however, and have adopted it as my primary RSS reader. Newzcrawler was also very useful, but it has a few limitations that FeedDemon aptly addresses, and FeedDemon also has an excellent Office 2003-like user interface.)
"How come it takes a teenager to point out the most obvious stuff? Or shall I say "of course, it's a teenager who groks this....."
Atom and RDF.
Aaron Swartz has surprised everyone by pointing out that the Atom format in the recent snapshot is virtually RDF. This has triggered a flurry of activity on the mailing list. Sam Ruby has demos, and a rapidly expanding list of comments.
The proof of RDF is in the graph, and what's claimed to be the first visual diagram of the Atom data model is the result of sending one of the example feeds to the W3C's RDF Validator. [Formerly Echo]
For those of you who aren't nerdy enough to recognize this chart shown above, this is an RDF graph output from the W3C's validator. But what makes THIS particular graph so interesting is that it's of a kosher (n)echo-Atom feed. That's pretty important.
If there could be a formal way of flowing RDF meta-data directly out through an Atom feed - well then all sorts of riga mah-roll can go away. One would just sit there with a schema editor and punch out new micro-content data types and the cows will have plenty of tiem to get home by dinner.
Of course those who wish to keep their heads down in the sand, and focus on simple usage of RSS 2.0 syndication - don't have to worry about all this. RSS 2.0 will still work, and RSS 2.0 extensions will still work. This post is all about graphs, triples, the semantic web and RDF.
But it's all cool - just chill. It's just that over here on this side of the fence, heads are bonking up and down about this revelation."
Via Marc's Voice
Monday, August 11, 2003
"Novell is furiously backpedaling, saying it isn't stopping development of the NetWare OS, which I comment on in yesterday?s post about the Ximian acquisition. In a story posted to eWeek yesterday, Novell executives say that
Ever wonder how Technorati works? Here's an answer from the guy (Dave Sifry) who invented it. Thanks to Lilia Efimova, who asked the question. Read more on Dave Sifry's weblog."
(This is my first post with FeedDemon + w.bloggar; if it works well, I'm switching from NewzCrawler)
InfoWorld: Microsoft says .Net usage passes Java: August 07, 2003: By Paul Krill: Application Development
In a speech at the VSLive conference in New York last week, Eric Rudder, Microsoft senior vice president of server and tools, touted progress versus the rival Java platform as well as future products such as Indigo, a Web services offering. Indigo is to be discussed at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles in late-October. "
Blog functionality is delivered inside Microsoft Office FrontPage 2003. You can use these capabilities inside FrontPage 2003 to customize and provide blogging functionality to Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003. To contribute to a blog created with FrontPage 2003, all you need is a regular browser. But to make design updates to the blog, you do need FrontPage 2003.
As for SharePoint Portal Server 2003, the blog feature is not available in the product. However, you can use FrontPage 2003 and blog Web Parts will also likely be made available via third parties. Finally, please keep in mind that inside SharePoint Portal Server 2003 discussion threads with dates are delivered right out of the box.
This strikes me as no threat to the current and upcoming end-user tools from the vendors we use today, but it could enable a lot of corporate blogging (a good thing, IMO)."
Clay Shirky is the Adlai Stevenson of Team RSS. Maybe Adlai couldn't elect his way out of a paper bag, but when the chips were down he made the case with elegance, intelligence, and iron. No 16 word retractions for him, were there? As Dean of Social Software (uh, Morse Science High) Clay has lent a sense of fractal form and structure to the swirling chaos of intersecting disruptive technologies.
As a B- student with a major in extra-curricular activities, I've always admired your intellect but recoiled a bit from the analytic nature of your work as I told Clay in email recently.
But now, I continued, you're actively engaged at the heart of the conversation, and given the nature of the RSS struggle, your insights couldn't come at a better time. For me, something had changed.
The best evidence was Clay's ETcon keynote, A Group is its Own Worst Enemy. I've been interested in this sort of problem since the early 90s, and have been after it in a serious way for the last couple of years, Clay told me, but I've seen so many people talking shit about community' and the like that I wanted to do the analytic stuff first -- literature review, a better understanding of issues like scale and constitutions, and a couple of other things -- so my early writings were all analytic, as ways of working that stuff out.
Clay continued: I was really conscious, preparing that speech, that it was the first time I was going out in public with qualitative assertions. It's easy to say "The graph of weblogs by rank order of inbound links looks like this." It's a lot harder to say "Slashdot works because of this messy-but-stable isometric mix of social factors," but of course that's the sort of assertion that really matters.
I've looked through the speech, trying to find the core fractal excerpt that would encapsulate its essence. The closest I came is this:
What matters is, a group designed this and then was unable, in the context they'd set up, partly a technical and partly a social context, to save it from this attack from within.
And from Niagara Falls all Over Again by Elizabeth McCracken:
When the straight man hears a certain set of unlikely words, he gets hypnotized and violent. He repeats the phrase in a strangled voice, and then he beats the comic. Then somehow the straight man catches hold of himself and pulls away. But the comic is a comic: if there's something he shouldn't do, he can't help doing it. He says, "I ain't gonna say those words again." Straight man says, "What words?" comic: "Niagara Falls." and the beating starts again, and stops again, and starts.[Daily Epiphany]"
Friday, August 08, 2003
Greg Stein, chairman of the Apache Software Foundation, announced in an open letter this week the formation of the Geronimo project, which will work to create Apache-compatible software for delivering Web applications based on Sun Microsystems' Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) technology."
Similarly, the decoupling of data and presentation in HTML—by using XML for the data and XSLT for the presentation of data—has led to much innovation and flexibility, not least of which is the ability to deliver a document as data in XML and deliver custom styling for that document with different XSLTs.
The next big trend in decoupling appears to be separating the user interface implementation from the user interface definition. There are countless initiatives, both open source and commercial, that will have at their core this very principle. The next big revolution in the desktop Windows operating system from Microsoft, codenamed Longhorn, is perhaps the most notable of these. With this type of decoupling, when a user interface is defined in a document such as XML, users would not have to download and install their GUIs; they can simply browse them as easily as they browse Web pages. A runtime engine would be present on the desktop, and servers would be able to deliver the GUI to the browser with an XML document.
This will be huge for the corporate environment where at present, rich desktops are difficult and expensive to produce and maintain. Corporations are necessarily paranoid about allowing users to download and install binary files, and in general block users from doing this. The only options are to build a rich interface in HTML, or to build Windows applications and install them using a CD. With this type of decoupling, when a user interface is defined in a document such as XML, users would not have to download and install their GUIs; they can simply browse them as easily as they browse Web pages.
Building rich applications in HTML or DHTML is feasible, but suffers from a number of drawbacks. First, an application written in these languages is interpreted by the browser, which isn't optimized for running applications. Browsers are of course designed to render content; having scripted, parsed applications run within their context is an afterthought, and as such is very slow. Second, once the application is designed and coded, should you want to present a similar application to another customer—branded and designed according to their styles and tastes or to coordinate with their existing systems—a rewrite of the application is usually necessary. The world is becoming used to XML driving HTML, with XSLT stylesheets to brand the data differently for different users.
So why should more complex user interfaces be any different? They shouldn't, and that's the philosophy behind these new initiatives, including Longhorn, which will have its user interfaces defined using a language called XAML (XML Application Markup Language). In short, if a user interface is defined using XML as opposed to programmed using something such as C# or Java, then a runtime engine can parse it and render it on screen. Hooks within the XML could link to server-side applications that process information."
The Seattle Times: Business & Technology: Too much technology diminishes work relationships, author says
Sanders, the chief solutions officer at Yahoo!, said his career was thriving in the mid-1990s, yet he began to feel increasingly empty. He noticed colleagues sending him instant messages from 5 feet away. He watched brilliant engineers slowly replace face-to-face relationships with lower-risk contact online.
"I saw a paradox," he said, "a world of community with loneliness."
Sanders came to define the condition as "New Economy Depression Syndrome," a state of work-related stress brought on by information overload, constant interruption by technology (think e-mail, instant messaging and cell phones) and the increasing personal isolation that technology affords us."
Until recently, I was not optimistic about the potential for beach volleyball video games. Last year, for example, I quickly tired of Beach Spikers, which had bikini-clad women but uninspired game play.
Then came Dead or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball, perhaps the oddest game to be released this year in the United States. In Xtreme, a group of bikinied martial arts combatants from the Dead or Alive fighting game series are stranded on an island with nothing to do except shop and play volleyball. Much of the game involved tedious purchases of gifts for the other women so they would like you enough to play with you."
There's some kind of evolutionary thing going on here, but I'm not sure we should be happy about it...
Re "For example, conspiracy theorists out there -- can you tell me which IBM software brands are mentioned and which are not?" I don't think there is any kind of conspiracy; IBM's strategy in this context is very clear. Skim the interview again -- Steve Mills refers to the "Lotus subsidiary" in past-tense and refers only to future-tense IBM Lotus-branded offerings, as do the "Can you see it?" ads that reference Lotus Workplace (and in which words such as "Notes" and "Domino" are not to be found).
Read Ed Yourdon's 1996 Rise & Resurrection of the American Programmer for useful background in this context. I think Yourdon was about a decade ahead of his time, just as he was in his 1993 Decline and Fall of the American Programmer
'Throughout history, successful technologies have been well remembered, but few remember the inevitable bumps in the road that they all have to resolve to become successful,' said IBM e-Business on Demand General Manager Irving Wladawsky-Berger, referring to the lawsuit. "
I think this is an instance of IBM showing its true colors -- hey, we have more patents and lawyers than anyone else, and these SCO guys refused to play by our rules, so we'll continue to refuse to directly address their allegations and will instead will seek to destroy the company by forcing them to burn up all of their resources in court.
Perhaps David Boies has a few surprises up his sleeve. I also hope the govt investigates IBM selectively using its patent portfolio as a defense mechanism; e.g., I'd like to know if Red Hat and other Linux players are also in violation of IBM's patents in this context.
Guess which company probably has the second most software-related patents, and probably also has broad IP licensing agreements with every other major company with software IP (except Sun...). Hint: the vendor that stands to gain the most as IBM, SCO, and others turn Linux into an enterprise-radioactive lawyer full-employment act.
The Swedish open source database vendor will offer MaxDB as a MySQL product beginning in the fourth quarter of 2003, it said earlier this week in a statement. MySQL will jointly develop and support MaxDB with the German business applications vendor, with MySQL taking the product management lead. Both companies will offer the product to their respective customers."
Thursday, August 07, 2003
SCO's defense has been that it must actively and not inadvertently release proprietary code as open-source software. 'It requires them to take the position they didn't know what they were selling, which depending on your point of view is a hard argument to make. You would tend to think you'd know what you're selling,' Osterman said. "
Sean Neville of Macromedia has posted a really excellent comment to the last posting and Kevin Lynch has an excellent white paper which I encourage readers to look at.
One of Seans's key points is that Macromedia focuses more on the richness of data and on the richness of the interaction with the user than of the widgets per se. Kevin Lynch has a great demo of the forthcoming central which makes the same point. When you see it, you are overwhelmed by how gracefully the media fit into the application and appear to be an integral part of it even as they are being dynamically fetched from the server. I'm excited about the work Macromedia is doing here. I think it is great work and can substantially enrich the web experience. I was also impressed with the Lazslo presentations (which at least when I saw them sat on top of Macromedia's Flash engine) and with Altio which had its own Java rendering engine. In short, I'm not against "Rich UI". Why would I be? I got into this field years and years ago when I fell in love with the Xerox Parc work and set out with partners like Eric Michelman and Andrew Layman to build the first project manager with a graphical user interface. Later Eric and I split off and teamed up with Brad Silverberg to build Reflex, one of the worlds first databases with a graphical user interface. None of this work, of course, used media itself as a type with the dazzling richness and aplomb that the new Macromedia Central demos do. But they shared the excitement and vision.
In short, I think there is room for both. I think Macromedia is heading in exactly the right direction and have told Kevin Lynch so. At the same time, I think that there is a need for a plain old browser that can interact with the server at the information level and I think there is also a need for Central. We don't use only one size and type of screwdriver. Why should this world be different?"
[Reflex -- I had fun with that product during the mid-1980s! Have I ever used a Microsoft or Borland product that doesn't have AdamB's fingerprints on it?...]
The companies--which began collaborating as partners earlier this year--said the merger will allow them to sell a full software package that addresses how an enterprises uses and shares documents and other types of content. Both company's products are based on Sun Microsystems' Java and Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) standards."
A couple observations:
1. Collaboration is back, bigger than ever. It never really went away (e.g., ask the 100M+ Lotus Notes users), but it wasn't portrayed as a compelling space often during the last few years.
2. Any content/document management vendor that isn't rapidly expanding into collaboration and portal features is going to have a very unpleasant near-term future...
Garmin has come out with a Palm-compatible PDA, the iQue, with a built-in satellite receiver for mapping and navigation. Research in Motion has announced a color model of its BlackBerry wireless e-mail device, the 7230, with a built-in phone.
Now Sony has weighed in with a wireless PDA that looks like a tiny laptop and has almost as many functions. It's the new Clie UX50, and I've been testing it for a couple of weeks.
Sony isn't new to the PDA business. Its line of Clie hand-helds, based on the Palm operating system, has drawn fans despite high prices. The Clie models were the first PDAs with built-in cameras and the first Palm-based models to have high-resolution screens. But unlike other manufacturers, Sony resisted adding wireless connections to the Internet, instead focusing on multimedia applications.
With the new UX50, all that has changed. It still has a built-in camera and a gorgeous high-res screen, and it still handles multimedia functions such as music, photos and videos with ease. But this model includes built-in, high-speed Wi-Fi wireless networking for e-mail and Web browsing. It also has Bluetooth wireless connectivity for linking up to a wireless phone when it's not near a Wi-Fi transmitter.
The most radical difference between the UX50 and most other PDAs is the overall design. Instead of adopting the traditional vertical format, the new Clie is aligned horizontally, like a laptop. It apes a laptop's clamshell design, in which the top is a lid that contains the screen and the bottom is a keyboard. It's still small and light enough to travel in a pocket or small purse, but it looks and feels like a little laptop."
Looks like a little laptop, priced like a little laptop (reviewed laptop prices lately? Check out this $849 Dell), but runs only Palm OS apps. Not on my Amazon wish list.
Wednesday, August 06, 2003
In other words: We know you've heard about that lawsuit filed by The SCO Group (nasdaq: SCOX - news - people ) out in Utah. But we're not worried--see?--and neither should you be. (In case you've been in a cave for the last few months, back in March SCO filed a $1 billion lawsuit against IBM, alleging that IBM put SCO's UNIX code into Linux. See 'What SCO Wants, SCO Gets.')
But there's one thing IBM (nyse: IBM - news - people ) won't announce this week, and that is a promise to indemnify its Linux customers against possible SCO claims.
"Linux is open-source code. No single company provides it. Users understand that there are no warranties or indemnities that come with Linux," an IBM spokeswoman says."
Entirely. We now assimilate with speed. The Lotus subsidiary lived on for a period of time but ceased to make sense after a while. That was fine in '95, but it doesn't make sense going forward.
What is the future of office-type suites?
The office-system-type approach is where the world was. Where it is going is to collaboration services. The world is going to in-context use, which is where the Lotus portfolio is going."
Via Ed Brill.
I have only two questions:
1. What is the application metamodel for the new Workplace stuff? Show me the schemas...
2. What is the migration path from Notes to Workplace?
"About a year ago, Microsoft started making radical challenges to its MSN product line. After stumbling along a path of ala carte consumer services, Microsoft opted for a back-to-basics approach of focusing on what the company does best: Develop software.
A little history: In March 2001, Microsoft announced an ambitious plan to deliver 14 ala carte Web services under the moniker HailStorm. But by early 2002, that plan--renamed .Net My Services--had run aground. Microsoft rightly concluded that consumers weren?t ready for the planned Web services and the company lacked the institutional expertise to deliver them.
So, Microsoft decided to chuck the HailStorm remnants into MSN 8, which launched in late October 2002. Rather than ala carte Web services purchased from MSN Websites, Microsoft would enhance the value of the MSN online client by dumping the majority of its paid services into that one bucket. For example, enhanced Microsoft Money financial services and the Encarta online research library moved from being paid services on the MSN Website to being part of the MSN 8 client. At the same time, Microsoft?s back-to-basics approach produced some nice MSN 8 enhancements, such as the inclusion of photo-editing software, better parental controls and new spam-filtering features.
The result is a much more appealing online service, more differentiation between the MSN Web properties and the online access site and software development that is more in tune with consumer interests. MSN Messenger 6, for example, is as much a sociological product release as it is an improved instant-messaging client. Microsoft is beginning to understand the community aspect of instant messaging, which is clearly seen in MSN Messenger 6.
Now, the company is prepping the Outlook Connector for MSN. That product will allow people that use Outlook at work to easily retrieve their consumer MSN e-mail, calendars and contacts. Microsoft has said the Connector will be available later this year.
In terms of services, a few ala carte options remain. Microsoft claims outstanding response to its premium Hotmail Extra Storage service, which costs 20 bucks a year. The paid service offers more storage and other enhancements. Microsoft attributes the success of Hotmail premium to the rise in the number of Hotmail users using the Web-based mail service as their primary consumer account: 50 percent, up from 10 percent a few years ago.
Microsoft claims to have exceptional MSN Messenger traction in South Korea, where the company says instant messaging is often referred to as MSNing. There, MSN chat characters known as Avatars are a hot commodity, and custom Avatars represent a services opportunity for MSN. MSN has done about 2 million transactions of the Avatar service in South Korea. But these are one-time transactions.
Microsoft claims about 7.8 million paid MSN subscribers, which include premium Hotmail users but not Avatar buyers.
MSN?s business breaks down into three areas: ISP, which is U.S. only; information services, such as portal and search--a $1 billion business in the last fiscal year; and communication services, which includes messaging and MSN 8.
On the Internet Service Provider side, Microsoft is moving away from MSN-branded ISP services, as seen by last week's launch of the MSN High-Speed Marketplace. This transition is part of Microsoft?s back-to-basics approach of emphasizing software and getting out of the broader services business. Still, Microsoft may take a subscriber hit during the transition and also from the expiration of three-year dial-up contracts made during the great Internet-rebate boom of three summers ago.
While MSN is getting more on track, the Microsoft division faces many challenges, some arising from over-dependence on paid search services for the bulk of revenue. More importantly, the division expects 4 percent to 7 percent revenue declines during fiscal 2004, ending June 30, largely because of subscriber losses due to Internet-rebate contract expirations and MSN's exiting the ISP market."
Note to Oracle: be afraid, be very afraid...
Novell plans to run its NetWare services--such as eDirectory and Secure Identity Management--on the Red Hat and SuSE Linux distributions. Novell currently has products that run on Linux, Unix, Windows and NetWare.
"NetWare will continue to exist with a large customer base, and we will continue to maintain it as long as customers want it," said Chris Stone, vice chairman at Novell. Stone said he thought NetWare support would continue for the foreseeable future, even if development does not. "There are still people using (the) VMS (operating system) and minicomputers. Just because development stops, doesn't mean people stop using it."
Novell also announced on Tuesday that it would be porting its entire GroupWise collaboration software, a product that significantly overlaps with Ximian's Evolution client, to Linux. The applications handle e-mail, scheduling and contact information to keep employees organized. Although Novell intends to support both software packages, the eventual goal is to have only one, said Stone.
The moves indicate a major shift in strategy for Novell, which only a year ago positioned Linux as the enemy and didn't show up at LinuxWorld. Now company executives are saying open-source software is the future for the industry and their company."
$.07 says: suicide... Novell's long-suffering Netware-focused installed base is the only thing that has kept the company on life support over the years, and they're apparently now putting the entire base into play. Must be lots of people smiling in Redmond over this Novell "strategy" shift.
Tuesday, August 05, 2003
The classic UNIX vendor pattern repeats again -- mutually assured destruction in action...
The scientists in government, industry and academia who are engaged in the race to build the world's fastest computing machines are now turning their attention once again to Mr. Cray's elegant approach to building ultra-fast computers.
When Mr. Cray died after a car accident in 1996, the one-of-a-kind machines that embodied his computing philosophy had gone out of fashion, largely replaced by designs based on thousands of connected microprocessors that are inexpensive and mass produced.
Mr. Cray's custom machines are known as vector supercomputers and have special hardware that is intended to handle the long strings of numbers in complex scientific computing problems. The machines are highly regarded for a design that balanced computing speed and the ability to transfer data extremely rapidly within the computer while the calculation is taking place.
This design philosophy is being revitalized by Burton J. Smith, a founder and the chief scientist of the Seattle-based Tera, which bought the original Cray Research in 2000. In the three years since the acquisition, Mr. Smith has been seen in the industry as the most prominent champion of Mr. Cray's approach."
The Supermen : The Story of Seymour Cray and the Technical Wizards Behind the Supercomputer is a must-read in this context.
The company will pay $3 per share to acquire Mercator. That represents a 22-percent premium over the stock's closing price on Friday of $2.45. The combined companies will have 3,000 customers and revenue of about $250 million.
Executives of both companies said the acquisition will create a suite of software tools for managing corporate data, in both transaction-processing systems and applications that analyze business operations.
Westborough, Mass.-based Ascential sells software that pulls information from various data sources, reformats it and transports it between different applications. Ascential's tools are used mainly for building databases that business analysts use to spot trends in historical sales data and other information.
Mercator, which is based in Wilton, Conn., also sells data-integration software, but its tools focus on systems for conducting transactions. The software routes data between businesses making transactions, such as commodities trades between financial services companies. Mercator has built data-integration software for specific industries, including financial services, health care and retail. "
Monday, August 04, 2003
Clever twist. Also check out this US News & World Report perspective by Lou Dobbs on the DARPA PR debacle.
By Rafe Needleman, August 04, 2003
I've written before about novel knowledge-management and groupware startups like Groove Networks, Tacit Knowledge Systems, and Kubi Software. These businesses all take clever approaches to knowledge sharing within the organization. However, they all share one barrier: They require the user to learn a new form of communication.
CEO Greg Lloyd, former program manager at Electronic Book Technologies
HQ Providence, RI
FUNDING More than $1 million from angel investors and VCs, including In-Q-Tel
PROFITABLE? Cash-flow positive now
MARKET Enterprise weblogs
Not surprisingly, these new tools are expensive, mostly because they require businesses to invest in training workers to use them. Meanwhile, new forms of electronic communication -- like blogs, short message service, and instant messaging -- are coming at users from noncorporate directions. Guess which tools are more popular?
So it should not come as a shock that some companies are doing the smart thing: leveraging the buzz around end-user technologies and applying it to the corporation.
Traction Software is a purveyor of corporate blogging tools. Sure, any CEO with a smattering of typing skills can use the Google-owned Blogger, but Blogger (like the other standard blogging tools) doesn't offer the same kind of security features as a corporate blog. For example, Traction lets you assign permissions to individuals or groups. So you could set up the CEO's blog so everybody can read it, or create a research blog that allows a small group of scientists to post to it and a larger (but not all-company) group to read it. One clever feature is that Traction narrows its search results to those areas a user can access.
Traction's system is actually a deep hypertext database. Every entry can easily be linked to any other, and the system tracks those links. You can attach your own personal notes to an entry as well, or create notes for just your group. If this sounds more like an information-processing experiment than a corporate product, consider Traction's roots. As CEO and co-founder Greg Lloyd told me, the whole thing got started because he and co-founder Chris Nuzum were on a "Let's go build a Memex" kick. To refresh your memory, the Memex was the hypothetical hypertext machine constructed in Vannevar Bush's seminal 1945 article "As We May Think."
Back in the practical world, Lloyd and Nuzum were smart enough to realize that blogging works in corporations for two reasons: First, businesses pay for knowledge management software. Second, blogging is perfect for some business solutions, particularly in departments that live or die by logging and sharing time-critical information. Think of police and crisis-management teams. Traction's focus on these customers has landed the company a contract with the Western States Information Network, which runs networking and data services for multijurisdictional law enforcement. In this and other types of public service, a blog of events has the advantage of being secure but easily accessible by any designated user with a Web browser. No fancy logging or knowledge management software is required at user sites, and no IT support is necessary to give users access.
We tend not to think of corporate leaders and FBI officers as natural bloggers, but a large component of these jobs and many others is recording, sharing, and logging information. Judging by blogging's popularity among people with seemingly very little to say, it appears to be a natural human instinct. So it makes sense for simple blogging tools to reach the corporate world, where they can be put to work."
I took the liberty of blogging the full article text because Business 2.0 just went, in their own terms, "behind the curtain" -- you now have to be a magazine subscriber to access articles on their Web site.
So it should come as little surprise that a technology behind blogs--online chronicles of personal, creative and organizational life--has manifested the kind of bitter fight for control that is inevitable in any truly democratic institution.
The conflict centers on something called Really Simple Syndication (RSS), a technology widely used to syndicate blogs and other Web content. The dispute pits Harvard Law School fellow Dave Winer, the blogging pioneer who is the key gatekeeper of RSS, against advocates of a different format. The most notable of these advocates are Blogger owner Google and Sam Ruby, an influential IBM developer who is now shepherding an RSS alternative through its early stages of development."
A good summary of recent RSS etc. history (and more evidence suggesting it's human nature to make a mess of even the noblest of endeavors...)
'Together, Novell and Ximian offer tremendous benefits for customers,' said David Patrick, president and CEO of Ximian, now general manager of what will be called the Novell Ximian Services business unit at Novell. 'Our breakthrough management and desktop products strongly complement Novell applications on Linux and Novell Nterprise Linux Services. The global Novell channel, partnerships with industry leaders and proven customer support will benefit customers. Novell as an enterprise company is the ideal choice for us to drive growth for the Linux market as a whole.' "
I have a hunch IBM should be more concerned about the acquisition than Microsoft should be, at least for the foreseeable future. Maybe this will be the tipping point that finally compels IBM to acquire Novell.