Monthly Archives: August, 2005

Tell me the old, old story…

Where Google leads, Microsoft follows.

Actually, both of these projects must have been in the pipeline for some time, and I bet MS was furious that Google stole their thunder.

And your word for the day…

…is frolicsome. I suggest you try to be a bit more frolicsome than usual today.

What Business Can Learn from Open Source

Paul Graham comes up with very good essays in an annoyingly consistent way. His recent one entitled What Business Can Learn from Open Source is particularly interesting because it isn’t about software.

Print it out, find a comfy chair and a good cup of coffee, and enjoy…

Productivity

Well, it’s so quiet in the office today that I guess it must be a Bank Holiday. Somehow I only tend to discover these things when I turn up at work and find the car park empty! It should be a productive day, though!

Pop

Chris DiBona uploaded this rather nice picture of Ward Cunningham (creator of the original Wiki) holding a half-exploded balloon.

The high-speed photography session was a fun one at Foo Camp, but I got there at the end and didn’t get anything as good as those in Chris’s collection.


A different kind of Bluetooth security flaw

A Cambridge Evening News article. Do laptops really respond to Bluetooth queries when they’re asleep?

(I never imagined I would ever post a link to the Cambridge Evening News here!)

Just enough piracy

An interesting post on Chris Anderson’s blog. An extract to whet your appetite:

I was chatting with a former Microsoft manager the other day and he revealed that after much analysis Microsoft had realized that some piracy is not only inevitable, but could actually be economically optimal. The reason is counterintuitive, but intriguing.

‘Tis true, ’tis pity…

And pity ’tis, ’tis true…

…that the most interesting periods of my life are the ones when I have the least time to post blog entries. So here’s a quick summary of the recent past.

Less than a week ago, I jumped on a plane to San Francisco and then drove to the O’Reilly campus in Sebastopol, CA for Tim O’Reilly’s FOO Camp.

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Of that, much has been written elsewhere, but suffice it to say that I had many interesting conversations with, and listened to fascinating talks by, a remarkable group of people. I also rode several varieties of Segway and other scooter-like devices, perhaps the most impressive being one of Trevor Blackwell’s home-made ones.

On Monday, I headed for the Apple HQ in Cupertino, to visit my old University friend Stuart Cheshire, the chief motive force behind the technology formerly known as Rendezvous, now ‘Bonjour‘. I hadn’t seen him for nearly twenty years, and I remembered him as a Mac enthusiast from college. He was driven to create Bonjour, he said, partly through frustration that TCP/IP was so much harder to use than Appletalk had been, and partly because people seemed to invent a new transport protocol whenever a new connection type came along. Why wasn’t IP used for Bluetooth? And USB? And DECT? And… well, you get the idea. It wasn’t suitable mostly because it needed too much other infrastructure and configuration. And so his Zero Configuration Networking initiative was born. Most networked printers support it now, as do some Linux distributions. And, yes, Windows users can download it too.

On Tuesday, Hap & CD & I went cycling in the wine country around Healdsburg. The weather, the wine, the company and the views were all wonderful, and I have a new-found respect for Zinfandel.

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Yesterday morning I was in San Francisco, where I visited Brewster Kahle at the Internet Archive, which lives in a wonderful little building in the Presidio.

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The archive is a most inspiring project, aiming, in a nutshell, to make all of human knowledge accessible to everybody. The first conversation I’ve had which used the word ‘petabyte’ while talking in the present tense. A quick trip over the Oakland hills to another winery for a picnic lunch, before heading for the airport.

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And now I’m on a train heading out from London to Cambridge. The sky has small patches of blue between big grey rainclouds. But it’s good to be back.

Matias Tactile Pro Keyboard

I loved some of the older PC keyboards – I remember the IBMs with their wonderful clacky sound and proper switches (rather than conductive rubber bouncing off a PCB). They cost about £100 but they lasted indefinitely. Apple and Olivetti were the same in the early days. But everybody has economised now, which is why I’m rather tempted by the Matias Tactile Pro Keyboard, which deliberately tries to recreate the golden days.

Ancient and modern

I’m staying with friends at a wonderful house in Piedmont, CA, at present. CD took this photo of me this morning:

And then I drove down to Cupertino to visit a friend at Apple. Very nice campus they have there.

Apple HQ

What’s important about IP telephony?

I suppose that, having worked on and off with VoIP for a little while, I really should have cottoned on to this earlier, but it’s only having it at home that has made me realise what will really be different for ordinary users in a VoIP world.

It’s not the lower cost, though that will be nice. It’s not that you’ll need fewer wires around your house, or that you’ll be able to make phone calls from your laptop, or that you’ll only need to buy one link to the outside world because your internet connection and your phone connection will have merged. No, I think the big changes will be that:

  • You’ll be able to have as many extensions as you like for no extra cost. This means that the concept of one or two lines coming into the house may go away. Yes, your daughter will have her own extension, and she’ll be able to call her friend’s bedroom without blocking the line for everybody else. You’ll be able to call the kitchen from the basement, or call the basement from the shopping mall, if you so desire.
  • Phone lines will be more like email addresses. And many of the things you can do with email addresses will apply to phone lines. So, for example, you can redirect them to point at other addresses. Or you can make one address ring several phones, which may be in different parts of the house or in different parts of the world.

All of this has been possible in the past, but it won’t be long before this is a standard facility that everybody will have at home if they choose to make use of it.

MacFoo

Here at Foo Camp, I’m intrigued (and encouraged) by the high proportion of Mac users amongst the attendees. It must be at least 50% and probably rather more. Compare that with the single-figure digits in the population as a whole.

This seems to be happening at most techie conferences these days. Some Apple guys yesterday were talking about the challenges of having a user community which is increasingly made up of geeks as well as grandmas, and how they often want opposite things from the same platform. So far, Apple seem to be succeeding in both camps.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser