Playing Catch Up on a Friday

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Today’s been a bit of a catchup day here at the home office, given that I’ve been out of the office for two days and spent most of today on the phone. Complicating matters slightly was the series of delays yesterday – one mechanically challenged plane, one torn up highway (incidentally, is there a time when I-70 is not under construction at night?) – that got me in close to midnight after an early (for me) wakeup.

Anyhow, there are a couple of matters to attend yet today, but wanted to check in on a few things:

  1. Debian v Mozilla:
    I’ve had multiple inquiries about the Debian v Mozilla scuffle, but frankly I don’t have much to say on the topic. They’re both right, technically, but practically speaking, they’re both wrong. The only thing I’m sure of in the whole thing is that they both stand to lose from the arrangement. Maybe Ian’s right, and this is the most pragmatic solution to the problem, but I’m of the opinion that that’s a suboptimal solution for both Debian and Mozilla. It’s a shame that red tape on both sides of the divide will end up negatively impacting users, but c’est la vie.

  2. Project Portland:
    And while I’m being mildly critical, let me say that I think the way Project Portland is being messaged is problematic. Going back to SuSE’s decision to ship and support both GTK/GNOME and Qt/KDE, I’ve been skeptical of approaches that try to hedge their user interface bets. I do happen to believe that Project Portland is important, but like Jeff, Ian, and Murray Cumming I’m concerned that some of the claims being made about Portland are setting up unrealistic – and probably unmeetable – expectations. Portland, for example, wouldn’t seem to solve these problems.

  3. Google v the DOJ:
    Nick Carr along with my colleague, are speculating on the future possibility that Google might eventually run afoul of the DOJ. While that’s certainly possible, I’m with David Berlind: I’m far less worried about Google’s power as a consumer than I am, say, Apple. Everything Google gives me right now, I can get elsewhere. Easily. Google gives me – to their credit – the Freedom to Leave. Apple does not. Is Google a massive critical mass? Undoubtedly. But I do not perceive the same barriers to entry to the markets they dominate that Carr et al do. Or are we really going to conclude that a business built more or less solely on the basis of online advertising is unassailable?

  4. One Step Forward, Two Steps Back:
    As mentioned earlier this week, the update to Firefox via the Edgy repositories fixed the bug that prevented the rendering of Zimbra. Unfortunately, the same update introduced some significant instability into the product. Firefox is now freezing up on me once an hour, and I can’t pin down a single behavior that’s triggering it.

  5. Mono:
    One of the more interesting trivia items from the Office 2.0 show was the fact that at least three different providers are using Mono. I’ve been a believer in Mono for a while now – despite the fact that I now am not likely to make it to the Mono Summit later this month – and technologists from the Office 2.0 crowd to Second Life continue to validate that opinion.

  6. Defining Office 2.0:
    Speaking of Office 2.0, Dare apparently did not appreciate my lack of granularity with respect to Office 2.0 trends.

  7. Database News:
    I’m under NDA on the topic, but stay tuned for some interesting database news in the next week or so.

  8. Package Management News:
    Conversations continue to percolate regarding the package management challenge. Yesterday I talked with one Office 2.0 provider who said that package management was one of the most significant drawbacks within the Solaris offering, even as they admitted that many of the folks they talk to are increasingly bypassing such solutions because they need specific and unique patches (might make sense for more folks to look at approaches like Gentoo’s Overlays). Then today Ian was kind enough to extend an invitation to this event; I’m very happy to see the FSG taking a leadership role here, seeing as everyone else I’ve tried to entice into that spot has punted. Now all I need to do is find a cheaper flight to Berlin; $1700 seems really excessive.

  9. Alternative Office Options:
    It’s no secret that I’m an advocate of non-traditional office approaches. Since arriving in Denver, I’ve returned to working out of the house, and gorgeous fall days like today remind you that it’s actually nice to get out and mingle. While I’m hoping that ultimately I might prod a friend of mine into opening a work-friendly bar here, I’d be equally pleased to see one of these spring up in Denver. I know a fair amount of folks here – from multiple disciplines – that I’d like to work around/with, if I could.

  10. KCFR.org:
    The Simpsons fans in the audience might recall the episode where Homer “donated” $10,000 to PBS to get them to stop interrupting Do Shut Up, a show about hard drinking soccer hooligans, with fund raising promos. I’m tempted to employ that strategy (minus the stint as a missionary in Micronesia) at the moment because Denver’s NPR affiliate KCFR is in full fund raising mode and it’s driving me crazy.

    While my newfound affection for NPR may be the latest proof that I’m getting old (as if I needed another reminder), it’s without question the highest value news source for me these days so I don’t mind ponying up a bit of cash. I just wish there was a mechanism by which paying subscribers could bypass all the fund raising babble. In that respect, it’s like the more aggressive anti-smoking ads on TV; I don’t feel like I should have to watch those since I don’t smoke. Anyhow, if you’re in Denver, please join me in paying them so – to paraphrase Homer – they’ll shut up.

Anyway, hope you all have enjoyable weekends, and as a reminder I’ll be out in CA Monday/Tuesday. Cheers.


  1. Stephen, carrying on the discussion from Dare’s comments…
    What I took issue with in your posting was this,

    “As some of you know having spoken with me on the subject, I have little patience for philosophical discussions of what Web 2.0 really means. When pressed on the subject, I usually just point to properties like del.icio.us and say, “That is Web 2.0.” Likewise, I’m not terribly concerned with creating strict textual definitions of what Office 2.0 is, as long as I can credibly cite examples that exhibit the tendencies of a “next generation” office platform.”

    The problem is that it shouldn’t be a philosophical discussion! If it is, it’s because you’re not defining your terms, so all you’re left with is something that sounds like philosophy. Dare pointed out that there are very concrete aspects to something like delicious that characterize it as a service. These aspects are what will both make and break future services built on the same ideas and technologies, and should therefore be seriously considered.

    Now, there is another alternative: you could perhaps use terms like Web 2.0 as a handle for a movement that is defined by the most notable usages of a set of technologies. That usage of the term implies a more-closed set (i.e. I can’t use lots of JavaScript and call myself Web 2.0 if all I’m doing is cloning someone else’s service … some other authority has to label me as part of the Web 2.0 clique), and is perhaps more suited to philosophical discussions.

    I guess if you’re analyzing the history of Web 2.0, then you could do just that: identify the key players who first made popular certain techniques and label those services as the Web 2.0 movement. If, however, you’re analyzing a current trend with a mind to implementation and the future, then an actual definition can be very helpful (maybe required?).

    Maybe it’s a tension between a historical analyst’s definition and an engineer’s definition? You usually blur that line, so I was let down with what you wrote on this topic.

  2. Anthony: i think we’ll just have to agree to disagree here.

    your statement here, “The problem is that it shouldn’t be a philosophical discussion!” is more aspirational than realistic, i fear. since coining the term, the folks from O’Reilly have spent endless hours debating the meaning of Web 2.0, and in fact have trademarked the phrase itself.

    point being, Web 2.0 in my opinion is not – and will not be – universally definable. we can argue over whether that should be the case, and certainly i understand if people (particularly engineers) don’t care for that, but to me it’s a fact. if you get three people in a room and ask them to define Web 2.0, odds are pretty good you’ll get three different definitions. same with SOA, Office 2.0, and so on.

    they’re fated to be philosophical debates, IMO, and i’m not particularly interested in participating in them as a result.

    maybe the best way to think of it is as a metaphor; Web 2.0 and Office 2.0 are useful conversational shortcuts for defining the next stages of evolution in their respective fields.

    taking the discussion further than that, i fear, will lead only to endless and probably pointless debates. IMO.

    sorry to let you down, but given that they are not my terms i’m not going to be the one to provide the definitions you’re looking for.

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