Answers to Questions You Didn’t Ask, But Someone Else Did

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The good news is that my Friday meeting has been cancelled. Not good because I didn’t want to go, but rather because Boston hasn’t done much better with the snow removal than Denver and I really wasn’t looking forward to driving out to Burlington this morning. Normally, I’d have been on the first plane home, but I’d made plans to stay through the weekend anyhow so I’m just camped out at the Marlowe for the day. The bad news? There doesn’t appear to be any at the moment.

Anyway, rather than my sort-of-traditional Friday grab bag, I’ve decided to bring you a new feature instead: answers to questions you didn’t ask, but that someone else has recently. Enjoy.

Q: Is Linux really harder to update than OS X or Windows?
A: (Emphatically) No. With all due respect to Matt Asay, who’s a brilliant guy generally, this statement – “Upgrade a Linux machine? Not so easy for the average person” – is just plain incorrect. Keeping a Linux system up-to-date is dead simple (despite some of the presentation to the user) if you’re running one of the newer distributions, and they’ll do something for you that neither Apple nor Microsoft will: they’ll keep everything running on your system up-to-date as well. I don’t know why it’s so difficult to explain this to people, but it is for some reason. But trust me – apt, Portage, et al are like magic. They’re that good.

Q: Doesn’t the Creative Commons just mean you give everything away?
A: Again no. The Creative Commons, despite the unfortunately popular belief to the contrary, is not about giving everything away. It is rather about helping authors, developers and so on to make sensible choices about licensing. Can someone distribute your work, or not? Can it be used for commercial purposes, or not? Does it need to be attributed to you, or not? It’s very simple, but quite powerful when you use it.

Q: Do I like traveling?
A: To certain places, yes. Otherwise, no. Don’t enjoy it.

Q: Why am I still running Linux on the desktop?
A: Lots of reasons, which I’ll detail in its own post, but the short answer is that Linux gives me the ability to mold the operating system and front end into something that I want. That, and more of the applications I need to run and test for work are Linux oriented than not. Are there frustrations? Yes, suspend being the biggest one. But overall, I remain very happy with my choice.

Q: What are the “must attend” conferences at this point?
A: Depends entirely on what you’re looking for. With my focus being primarily on developers, the two most important shows for me are Mashup Camp and OSCON. Those, I’ll plan my schedule around. The rest I’ll attend if I either can or am compelled to for client reasons.

Q: What’s the coolest startup you’ve seen recently?
A: That’s easy, and you can guess it if you follow the del.icio.us links around here. The Hype Machine wins going away. As I wrote to Anthony, the man behind it the other day, it’s been the single most transformative tool for my music habits since Napster launched. And that’s no mean feat. Used in conjunction with WOXY and emusic.com, it’s an amazing tool.

Q: Are Dark ‘N Stormy‘s really that good?
A: Yes. Yes they are.

Q: Why would you consider shifting email and calendaring back to Google from Zimbra if they introduce a for pay, supported service?
A: Couple of reasons, but the biggest one for me is the SMS access to my calendar. I not only don’t have, but actively don’t want, a Blackberry-like device. I just want a phone. But being able to check for upcoming appointments while abroad, at conferences, or otherwise away from my computer would be great. Google’s delivered that, with very simple SMS based access to its Calendar product which allows you to check your schedule from even the simplest of mobile devices.

Q: Why wouldn’t you switch to Google?
A: The lack of IMAP and folders would be a problem for me. I subscribe to better than a dozen high traffic message lists for work reasons, and within Zimbra everything’s nicely shunted off to the appropriate folder for later consumption. With Gmail, I wouldn’t have that, and that’d be a problem.

Q: Are you sticking with AWN?
A: Yup, it’s a terrific tool, with a lot of polish for such an early project.

Q: How do you like Twitter so far?
A: I’m up and down with it. As my Twitter readers will note, I’m not religious about keeping it updated, which diminishes its utility. Like many of the social networking-ish services, you get out only what you put into it. But I haven’t written it off yet; it may be one of those things I just need to devote more time to.

Q: And how about MyBlogLog?
A: It’s interesting, and I do like putting faces to the visits to the webpage. But I am concerned about the time it takes to load the widget; it’s a couple of additional seconds, usually. And I haven’t decided as to whether or not that’s worth it, or whether I should simply remove it.

That’s it for today. Couple more work items, and then I’m off to enjoy the afternoon in Boston.


  1. You can use Gmail labels for “shunting things off”: just set a rule to apply the label and remove the “inbox” label. I’m sure that anything lots of Googlers do will have great support in Gmail.

    The one problem I have with Gmail is multiple accounts: I have a personal & work @gmail one and two more on apps for your domains. There’s no way to effectively merge them. And you can have a separate “Google Account” and the “Apps for your domain” account for the same email…

  2. I’m not sure if it’s the dark, or the stormy… but somebody is doing something right

  3. On Creative Commons (obviously dependent on which license you choose) – I use an NC variant, but the way I see it is if someone wants to use my stuff commercially, then they ask – nothing about CC prevents commercial use after appropriate negotiation – just means that they can’t do it as part of what is “given away”.

  4. Oh – Dark’n’Stormies are great (best enjoyed while listening to Flogging Molly perhaps?) – it was my mother who introduced me to them …

  5. Andrew: does that keep them out of the Inbox, though? i’d have to see how this worked in practice. ditto on the account bit, although they are rolling out support for other POP accounts (my Gmail account now has it, while my Apps for Your Domain doesn’t).

    brady: amen, brother, amen.

    Ric: that’s precisely how i use it. generally speaking, if someone wants to license my stuff for commercial usage, i’m fine with it – i just want to know about it in advance.

    haven’t tried the Flogging Molly / Dark ‘N Stormy pairing yet, but it’s got a lot of promise.

  6. […] agree that desktop Linux is “utter crap” compared to Mac or Windows, and I’ve disagreed with his statements on desktop Linux for years, particularly in the area of application […]

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