Off the Top: Open Source Entries

May 25, 2006

Developing the Web for Whom?

Google Web Developer Toolkit for the Closed Web

Andrew in his post "Reading user interface libraries" brings in elements of yesterday's discussion on The Battle to Build the Personal InfoCloud. Andrew brings up something in his post regarding Google and their Google Web Developer Toolkit (GWT. He points out it is in Java and most of the personal web (or new web) is built in PHP, Ruby [(including Ruby on Rails), Python, and even Perl].

When GWT was launched I was at XTech in Amsterdam and much of the response was confusion as to why it was in Java and not something more widely used. It seems that by choosing Java for developing GWT it is aiming at those behind the firewall. There is still much development on the Intranet done in Java (as well as .Net). This environment needs help integrating rich interaction into their applications. The odd part is many Intranets are also user-experience challenged as well, which is not one of Google's public fortés.

Two Tribes: Inter and Intra

This whole process made me come back to the two differing worlds of Internet and Intranet. On the Internet the web is built largely with Open Source tools for many of the big services (Yahoo, Google, EBay, etc.) and nearly all of the smaller services are Open Source (the cost for hosting is much much lower). The Open Source community is also iterating their solutions insanely fast to build frameworks (Ruby on Rails, etc.) to meet ease of development needs. These sites also build for all operating systems and aim to work in all modern browsers.

On the Intranet the solutions are many times more likely to be Java or .Net as their is "corporate" support for these tools and training is easy to find and there is a phone number to get help from. The development is often for a narrower set of operating systems and browsers, which can be relatively easy to define in a closed environment. The Google solution seems to work well for this environment, but it seems that early reaction to its release in the personal web it fell very flat.

13 Reasons

A posting about Top 13 reasons to CONSIDER the Microsoft platform for Web 2.0 development and its response, "Top 13 reasons NOT to consider the Microsoft platform for Web 2.0 development" [which is on a .Net created site] had me thinking about these institutional solutions (Java and .Net) in an openly developed personal web. The institutional solutions seem like they MUST embrace the open solutions or work seamlessly with them. Take any one of the technical solutions brought up in the Microsoft list (not including Ray Ozzie or Robert Scoble as technical solutions) and think about how it would fit into personal site development or a Web 2.0 developed site. I am not so sure that in the current state of the MS tools they could easily drop in with out converting to the whole suite. Would the Visual .Net include a Python, PHP, Ruby, Ruby On Rails, or Perl plug-in?The Atlas solution is one option in now hundreds of Ajax frameworks. To get use the tools must had more value (not more cost or effort) and embrace what is known (frogs are happy in warm water, but will not enter hot water). Does Atlas work on all browsers? Do I or any Internet facing website developer want to fail for some part of their audience that are using modern browsers?

The Web is Open

The web is about being browser agnostic and OS agnostic. The web makes the OS on the machine irrelevant. The web is about information, media, data, content, and digital objects. The tools that allow us to do things with these elements are increasingly open and web-based and/or personal machine-based.

Build Upon Open Data and Open Access

The web is moving to making the content elements (including the microconent elements) open for use beyond the site. Look at the Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the open APIs in the Yahoo Developer Network. Both of these companies openly ease community access and use of their content and services. This draws people into Amazon and Yahoo media and properties. What programming and scripting languages are required to use these services? Any that the developer wants.. That is right, unlike Google pushing Java to use their solution, Amazon and Yahoo get it, it is up to the developer to use what is best for them. What browsers do the Amazon and Yahoo solutions work in? All browsers.

I have been watching Microsoft Live since I went to Search Champs as they were making sounds that they got it too. The Live Clipboard [TechCrunch review] that Ray Ozzie gave at O'Reilly ETech is being developed in an open community (including Microsoft) for the whole of the web to use. This is being done for use in all browsers, on all operating systems, for all applications, etc. It is open. This seems to show some understanding of the web that Microsoft has not exhibited before. For Microsoft to become relevant, get in the open web game, and stay in the game they must embrace this approach. I am never sure that Google gets this and there are times where I am not sure Yahoo fully gets it either (a "media company" that does not support Mac, which the Mac is comprised of a heavily media-centric community and use and consume media at a much higher rate than the supported community and the Mac community is where many of the trend setters are in the blogging community - just take a look around at SXSW Interactive or most any other web conference these days (even XTech had one third of the users on Mac).

Still an Open Playing Field

There is an open playing field for the company that truly gets it and focusses on the person and their needs. This playing field is behind firewalls on Intranet and out in the open Internet. It is increasingly all one space and it continues to be increasingly open.

August 31, 2004

Microsoft Security Program Manger Uses Firefox

You know that when the Microsoft Security Program Manager has to run Firefox things are not good for IE on the security front.

Browse Happy highlights stories of real people who have chosen browsers other than Microsoft IE and are quite happy with the change.

July 1, 2004

One Less Browser Option?

The talk on Metro this evening between a few folks was whether they would be able to use Internet Explorer the following day at work. The security hole in the browsers have been very problematic over the years, with this past year being particularly bad. This newest security hole permits your keystrokes to be copied by another party with out the user ever knowing. The warnings have been for banks, but it has spread to any log on, password, credit card number, or any information imaginable secure or wide-open, it does not matter.

Molly's WaSP Buzz entry outlining mainstream publications advising user to stop using the browser and Slate's "Are the Browser Wars Back? How Mozilla's Firefox trumps Internet Explorer" article frame the problems and options well.

My personal favorite browser on Windows is Firefox, which is one of the Mozilla browsers (it is the makers of the guts of the newest Netscape browser. On Mac I am a fan of Safari and Firefox and have both running at all times. You have options for browsing. Hopefully your bank and other purveyors of information were not foolish enough to build to just one browser.

June 18, 2004

Mozilla to Go Mobile

Nokia funding Mozilla mobile browser. This is a great step forward for mobile browsing, not to knock Opera or Openwave, but another great mobile browser can only be a good thing.

November 17, 2003

This one goes to 80

Dave Weinberger points out gross errors Information Week made when graphically comparing perceived problems with Windows and Linux. The error is that the Windows graphic uses a scale of 80 percent, while Linux uses a scale of 40 percent. When you realize this the differences in perception become huge.

Microsoft shows nearly 80 of those surveyed had concerns about their software quality and vulnerabilities, while Linux had less than 25 percent. More than 60 percent felt the cost of ownership is too high with Microsoft, while far less than 5 percent had the same concern with Linux. The Linux perceived problems revolve around a lack of complete and fully integrated software environment (40 percent), accountability if problems arise (above 35 percent), and lack of clear product road map (35 percent). Each of the Linux perceived problems, once you spend time looking into them, is not really a problem, but more of a lack of a company with a large marketing budget. I am hoping that Novel and IBM can really start making headway in this area. The quality of Linux products is far higher than Microsoft's and for nearly every product that Microsoft pushes there is at least an equal product in the Linux community.

Then again there is Apple too.

November 9, 2003

Apple Mac OS X as a great application development platform

Steve Neiderhauser has written an overview of what makes Apple a great application development platform. I cringe each time I hear somebody that has never understood application development or design state that Apple is a only a designer's platform. I bought an Apple laptop because of OS X, so that I could have a mobile UNIX platform for developing Web Applications and continuing my UNIX and OpenSource application development skills. I quickly found that the OS X platform was great for anytime of development, but I have not had the time to stay on top of my own development projects, as much I would like. I also found out that much of the Palm OS was built and maintained on Macs and UUNet has been largely a Mac-based company for its business practices.

November 1, 2003

iPIM and Chandler have a chair at the Personal Info Cloud

There are two articles that are direct hits on managing information for the individual and allowing the individual to use the information when they needed it and share it as needed. Yes, this is in line with the Personal Information Cloud.

The first article, The inter-personal information manager (iPim) by Mark Sigal about the problem with users finding information and how the can or should be able to then manage that information. There are many problems with applications (as well as the information format itself) that inhibit users reuse of information. In the comments of the article there is a link to products that are moving forward with information clients, which also fit into the Personal Information Cloud or iPIM concept. (The Personal Information Cloud tools should be easily portable or mobile device enabled or have the ability to be retrieved from anywhere sent to any device.

The second article is from the MIT Technology Review (registration required) titled Trash Your Desktop about Mitch Kapor (of founding Lotus Development fame) and his Open Source project to build Chandler. Chandler is not only a personal information manager (PIM), but the tool is a general information manager that is contextually aware. The article not only focusses on Mitch and the product (due late 2004), but the open and honest development practices of those that are building Chandler at the Open Source Application Foundation for Windows, Mac, Linux, etc. distribution.

October 3, 2003

Raskin's Zooming Interface

Jef Raskin opens up a public demo of THE Zooming Interface. This interface is done with Flash for this demo of the concept. I find the tool very cool, but a wee bit buggy.

Read through the THE information to find out more about this open source project.

August 25, 2003

May 26, 2003

Views of the future of software

Every now and then I run across something that really gets me thinking and twisting every way I look at the idea. Dave Winer's Who will pay for software, Pt. I and who will pay, Pt. II along with Tim Bray's Business Ignorance and Try then Buy. These four articles look at the state of the software industry. The consensus, go figure, is not too bright unless one is Microsoft.

As Joshua noted the other day I tend to view Microsoft's products dimmly. This is partly because the Microsoft products are rarely the best in their field, and they rarely have ever been the best. Marketing is Microsoft's strength and they have made a bundle and gained prominance not out of having the best product, but through their business skills.

A few years ago I started on a project that put me back in the UNIX environment, which I dreaded at first as much of my work for the two previous years had been on Windows based systems. I relearned to love UNIX and Linux as my develoment skilss had grown greatly. I found UNIX and Linux gave the developer and SysAdmin far better control and I could control security problems far better than I ever could in the Windows world. I left the UNIX-based project to head back into a Windows world about two or three years ago. In doing so I really wanted to have a UNIX based machine to keep up my skills, I was also in need of a laptop as my old laptop was tied to my project.

I made a decision to buy a Mac TiBook and run Mac OS X. This gave me the laptop, the UNIX underpinnings, and a solid interface. I had not used a Mac since 1990 for work after using friends Macs and loving them. I used Mac's as test environments over the past few years, but the instability of the pre-OS X operating systems and the vast difference in interfaces from Windows and no command line kept me away. From the first month I had my Mac I was in love with it, well it was a frustrating love in the way that you find that perfect mate and they just don't suck and never seem to iritate you. I hated to say the Mac was a computer as it did not cause headaches and did not cause problems. Everything I needed to do for side-projects and even work for a Windows environment was dirt simple and just worked.

This love of simplicity and an aim for perfection at Apple has a new mark for me to evaluate everything that Microsoft does. Granted the Windows software on Mac seems to be far better than the Windows OS versions, sometimes seeming to be an order of magnitude better. The Mac OS X seems to offer a very rare balance, in its simiplicity, beauty, ease of use, and control. While not all of Apple's applications are perfect, they are far better than many other offerings out there.

Apple has a flirting love affair with Open Source applications and has been making it very easy to add Linux-based apps and have them take advantage of the OS X interface, with its X11 (still in beta and it just rocks).

After reading the four articles above I have been somewhat worried that the attempts at great software that bubble up may have a tough road ahead, which is a true shame. A behemoth company that creates mediocre software (MS) may be ruining the opportunities for great software to exist, unless we can find solid methods for funding these great things. Mediocre software leads me to fits of swearing and having another human generation on its way into our home in the next few months I do not want these fits of swearing or the limited view of the world that is nothing like those of us that dream of a better world with computing want to see. I want my child to know that they can have beauty, control, and perfectly built software and operating systems that will help them through life and not provide a means of frustration.

April 19, 2003

Interview with Fink Project Lead Max Horn

OSNews has a very good interview with Fink project leader Max Horn offering insight into Fink (Mac OS X application that allows incorporating Linux/open source applications into the Mac native graphics framework) and Fink Commander development.

April 16, 2003

Macworld monster May disk

Those of you who are Mac users will like to know the MacWorld May issue of the magazine does not have a CD with it on store shelves, it has a DVD with it. I let my subscription lapse because the subscription did not come with a disk. The may disk has 500 product reviews and demos on it and 350 shareware apps, plus the usual reviews, demos, and Breen movie. This is the mother of all extra disks.

March 16, 2003

MySQL becoming a viable choice for corporations

Fortune's David Kirkpatrick discusses MySQL Database being very popular on the Web and it is free. This is not a suprise to many of us as I thought I was the last to use MySQL in 2000 for a professional project. I quickly found that the combination of MySQL with PHP on a Sun Solaris U10 could provide 70k to 90k page builds per hour. That was nearly static rates when compared to a Windows box. One of the nice things we found was MySQL was not only lightening fast, but very well suited for Web development and driving content dynamically. MySQL is the type of database the MS Access could have been. MySQL is what is behind this site and works wonderfully. The database does not currently have transactions, which is not needed for most of the work where it is used.

I was very happy to learn MySQL is profitable. It was very odd that somebody in the article brought up all the money that is being left on the table for MySQL. The CEO of MySQL gave a fitting responce in asking what the other companies were doing with the money they charged. I was pleased as punch that MySQL is at home on every Mac running OS X.

March 3, 2003

Veen crankin' with OS X

Jeffrey Veen offers his views on Web development on Mac OS X. He discusses using PHP, MySQL, Perl 5.8, CVS, and BBEdit, which in my opinion are excellent choices and some of the reasons I moved over. Jeffrey offers some great links also... (the version control with Mac OS X is a new favorite as is the blog Forwarding Address: OS X

January 14, 2003

Understanding Open Source Development to help Public Policy and Management

In First Monday The Institutional Design of Open Source Programming: Implications for Addressing Complex Public Policy and Management Problems by Charles M. Schweik and Andrei Semenov. More simply put, what lessons can be derived from understanding the Open Source distributed methods that will help collaboration on intellectual issues, such as public policy, and understaning collaboration to better solve management issues. The physically distributed model is getting a test in many smaller organizations, including on information architecture non-profit that has recently opened its virtual doors.

January 11, 2003

August 25, 2002

MySQL for Jaguar

MySQL for Jaguar loaded wonderfully and easily.

Apache 2.0 builds for OS X

Hmmm... Yesterday I was looking at Apache and the other two pieces of the triumvirate PHP and MySQL. Today I ran across what could be an improved option, Server Logistics' Apache 2.0 along with Perl, PHP, MySQL, and Postgres. Apache 2.0 provides multithreading and other improvements to the incredibly stable and supreme Web server All of this is set to build and run on Mac OX 10.

July 24, 2002

Microsoft embraces Apache Web server

CNet News discusses Microsoft's .Net set to link to Apache, which is a great step as the Microsoft IIS web server is increasingly being dropped as a viable option because of never ending security problems. This would literally doom Microsoft's .Net initiative as it would not be usable on the Internet without their Microsoft Internet server. By moving the ability to run the .Net framework on an Apache server Microsoft not only extends their ability to run their services on a superior Web server with far fewer security problems, but Apache is now recognized as a viable Web server by Microsoft. Apache owns the majority share of the Web server business and those of use that have had the ability to use it prefer it hands down to Microsoft's IIS.

New Chimera rocks

Chimera version 0.4.0 was released today for Mac OS X and it flat out rocks. It is fast and is seemingly more usable than the previous version. If you are a Mac OS X users it is work the download.

June 7, 2002

OS X with Moz and Silk

I agree with Damien that Mozilla 1.0 for OS X and Silk (thanks to Brad for his tip in the comments on Moz 1 regarding Silk) is a great browser combination. Silk also helps reading in other on the TiBook when I have the screen turned low to save battery. Silk is similar to Microsofts Clear Type, but with out the fuzz factor, at least on a laptop.

June 5, 2002

Mozilla 1.0

If you were unaware or travelling in other social circles, Mozilla 1.0 is released.

May 29, 2002

Chimera browsing

Like a lemming I downloaded Chimera, a browser that speeds along on Mac OS X. I am really loving the speed and the easy readability of Chimera.

May 26, 2002

OS X Open Source packages

Looking to add some of the great open source Web applications to Mac OS X? The first stop should be Marc Liyanage's OS X packages.

May 23, 2002

MS looses to Open Source on security

Microsoft's sales pitch to the Pentagon back-fires as they pitch security of Microsoft as a point to use against Open Sourse solutions. Microsoft only wins that game in their marketing material.

May 10, 2002

PHP and MySQL for managing images on the Web

Managing Images With a Web Database Application with PHP and MySQL and nothing up the sleeves. The folks from O'Reilly Net offer this one, which is not in the Web Database Applications with PHP and MySQL. The book is one of my favorite information application development books at the moment for a variety of reasons: ease of coding principles, explaining application development, explaination, then using what is learned and implementing it.

April 22, 2002

Expat help for Mac

An overview of expat will help tie the loose ends together. For those Mac heads reading you may also want to take in Life with CPAN by Jeremy Mates which puts together the missing pieces for Mac.

Need to get your hands on OS X packages. I have found this page many times and now mabye I can find it on a regular basis.

April 18, 2002

Mozilla release candidate 1 is out finally. I have downloaded it on my XP machine and it works wonderfully. After a nap or a good night sleep I will load it on the Mac.

March 14, 2002

While I was enjoying myself in Austin Mozilla released 0.9.9, which means the next release is 1.0. You bet I am happy about that news. I am wondering how long it will be before Netscape will make their build on 1.0? What will Netscape call it?

March 1, 2002

The Visual Display of Quantitative XML on O'Reilly Net really rocks for me. I am really impressed with the presentation, but not nearly as impressed as I was with the ease of downloading and running the SVG plug-in in IE 6 on Windows and IE 5.1 on Mac OS X. Overal this is a great article as it not only walks through the how-to portion, but also offers insights into things that will make similar development go more easily.

February 23, 2002

Can't get enough about Mozilla? Blogzilla may be our answer. This is a weblog devoted to the Moz. (By the way Mozilla is extremely fast on OS X and is becoming my favorite browser on that platform.) [hat tip Scott]

February 17, 2002

Ah, an even newer update to MySQL on Mac OS X. My last build was a little buggy, which was to versions back. It is seeming that it is contiually a good thing to follow the setup info on Marc Liyanage site.

February 5, 2002

Wahoo, the Mozilla build, 0.9.8, is out. Mozilla on OS X is great. I had a build problem two releases ago on XP, so this may be the time to give it a go again.

January 24, 2002

I now have MySQL running on my OS X Powerbook. I largely followed the directions from The Business Mac MySQL instructions. I used the install package from and found it a rather easy build. I did have to make one minor adjustment. When trying to start MySQL for the first time it is good to place an empty mysql.sock file in the /tmp/ directory. The other item to add is create a directory (sudo mkdir) libexec in the mysql directory then go into the libexec directory and create a softline to ../bin/mysld (sudo ln -s ../bin/mysqld mysqld). You should be good to go.

January 13, 2002

There are two Slashdot reviews of the recent MacWorld conference. CmdrTaco points out where Linux has power Apple has desire and chrisd looks at the Apple community. Chrisd noted the exhibition's, "focus on sheer functionality, capability and commerce."

A large part of my desire to get an Apple computer that would run OS X, was my work with Unix and Linux over the last couple years. I have loved working in that environment that is stable, lacking confounding DLLs, and easy to manage from the command line. To this end Linux Jounal reviews the recent MacWorld. The article notes many familiar faces between the Linux and Apple conferences, also held in the same building.

January 2, 2002

I really would like XP Home to have Samba (SMB) as the Apple documentation on using SMB to network machines and share drives is very solid. XP Home does not have SMB capability. If anybody knows a way to build it in plese e-mail me (comments being turned on this month or next month).

SMB is an open source networking tool that is supported on most operating systems. Windows 2000 and XP Professional support SMB. I should have learned my lesson and never by consumer grade software or hardware as I am always wanting to do more.

December 4, 2001

After reading Nick Finck's notes from the Web Design World 2001 in New Orleans and reading the Web Design World 2001 Agenda I think I may have to make the trip next year. I am very intrigued with the Open Source elements of the conference combined with the Web design/development aspects. Open Source tools have treated me far better than any proprietary tool ever has in the past. I am not interested in the cost as much as how solid the tools are, which leads me to Open Source.

November 13, 2001

The great Microsoft and Linux debate is on... Slashdot discusses MS inside memo on Linux threat. The Slashdot folks are by-in-large technically inclined, if to hard core techies and are also leaning Linux. It is good to see technical understandings when comparing Windows server solutions to Linux, both running on Intel.

The sales approach for Microsoft is ahead of the Linux folks. MS is giving the hard sell to the boardroom inhabitants and Linux is winning the technical folks who are in the trenches. This is a great view of the dicotomy of corporate environment and the disconnects between business and technology (not directly in this example but in the stories underlying the example). Microsoft has always sold the future and what is coming, while the UNIX and Linux people solve your problems today. MS is just delivering on their promisses of years ago, but they are still selling the future and are still behind the xNIX platform. Heck, Apple even got religion for their stable and fast new OS.

November 12, 2001

It seem September 11, 2001 was the day Bill Gates claims "he" invented Open Source. Sometimes I think he is going to start naming operating systems Zeus, Hydra, etc as he may think he invented the Greek gods.

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