Archive for July, 2006|Monthly archive page

Developers: You’ve Got the Power – Now What?

Developers: You’ve Got the Power – Now What?
Stephen O’Grady 
in the beginning….

There was a CIO who didn’t get open source and controlled money and money was required by developers to get the tools..but then came open source and people could no get the tools they needed without paying a fortune for them.
People say no money in it – but look at Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, Python, Firefox etc

They are all free and easy to get

Why do VC with lots of money who want to make more money insist developers open source software for free

YOU GUYS WON – tipping point is over – OS is credible etc

But – being able to set direction by making the software means responsibility

  1. Work together
  2. Be creative
  3. Lower the barriers to entry
  4. Make open data a priority
  5. Educate, evangelize and market

Don’t play the same game as the guys you are creating an open source alternative for, be new and creative

You can see his slides here but they are in a minimalist (a la Lessig) style and he has an excellent write up on his own thoughts of the conference here


5 A Day

5 A Day
Robert “r0ml” Lefkowitz

This is not a serious session as such as r0ml is famed for being the king of metaphor, he is an engaging speaker and has over thirty years experience in creatig data models and systems, he is now a lively conference circuit speaker.

Fakelore we start with and tales of poisonous tomatoes, the metaphor could be that people are worried about open source but then they realise that they are ok and then lots of people begin to order/buy it but then the tax man comes.

But maybe you argue its not a vegetable but a fruit – this leads to a long history of arguments and decisions, complex but engaging

Book First Fruit – the birth of biotech food written by Belinda Martineau explored the ultimate failure of biotech in creating a tomato that didn’t go bad

Does this lead to Food 2.0 ??

Jokes on final vowel preceding an r in naming FlavrSavr (as in Flickr, Zoomr et al)

XP is open source !?

How much open source do you need? Likening it to RDA for foods , 3, or 5, perhaps 9 if you’re a man!

Or is open source vs closed simply like veggies vs non veggies??

Opening the possibilities APIs & Standards

“Opening” the Possibilities: APIs and Open Source Code
Gary Lang, Vice President of Engineering, Autodesk, Infrastructure Solutions Division

Two models of software dev “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” – read the book

Autodesk is a cathedral? But the strict definition of cathedral doesn’t fit

Successful closed source – (The Cathedral) look at Mac OS X

Successful open source – (The Bazaar) look at which is a collection of excellent open source (map server, geotools, mapbender, ppostGIS, Ossim)

Why does closed source software move to open source, look at the book dealing with Darwin by Geoffrey A. Moore, try to look at where the core value is as opposed to the context

Standards facilitate., drive migration

  • POSIX, unix culture > Linux
  • HTTP > Apache
  • GML, WMS, WFS > MapServer

Nobody really interested in GeoSpacial until Google came along and suddenly people are interested, then Google Earth came along “Mirror Worlds” by David Gelertner 1991

Open APIs but when will the ads appear ?

Open source geospatial software & standards

Why go open source?

  • Users wanted it (and Autodesk were too slow to provide)
  • It makes business sense for mapguide
  • It makes business sense for Map
  • It makes business sense for Topobase

Standard APIs create commodisation opportunities for web mapping

The Zen of Free

Opening Keynote

The Zen of Free
Simon Phipps, Chief Open Source Officer, Sun Microsystems

Main contributor to Gnome, Sun provide a ton of code to many applications without you realising it. But not here to talk about this but rather “The Zen of Free”

Altruism without sacrifice involved in open source community, gathered around an open source commons, the software is the heart of the community. Members use the code to create things in order to achieve a goal, creative wealth of value to you, quite often accomplishing a social goal, the next big thing.

Whilst doing this they innovate as they go along achieving this goal and this innovation creeps into proprietary software, tabbed browsing in IE anyone?

Licensing defines a set of freedoms for software which used to be written by corp lawyers, the problems came when someone wanted to do something different with it, especially as they were all different. So the open source foundation created a new license etc

Open Source is about software without licensing, he disagrees with Tim about them not being required, however as they are so successful they don’t mater so much anymore, but governance is required to make sure that not just anyone can insert code, therefore governance is at the core here in order to allow commit access to the code base.

Easy to see when governance is bad, such as when a community is all from one manufacturer for example

Controlling the community without control, an open governance definition is required

When asked why are there so many desktop and web2.0 apps out there he was recently asked, he’s tried many and some have stuck, which ones stuck, that lock-in is the new lock-out, so in order to stay you better make sure you can import in other formats, like iCal import, but if I cant get it out and move it then I’m not going to stay.

Not interested in inter-operability, substituteability, because I’m a butterfly and like to flit about, you need an open API etc

Freedom promoting formats, protocols and interfaces

Old corp standard he wants to see it smothered in non assert meaning you can be sure you can use it however you like

IETF genius is insisting on multiple implementations, he wants to see them support open source, he wants to see also that there is no preference in implementation

Standard should be created transparently, should be no requirement to just use some standard handed down from the heavens by a big corp and may lock you in to something you don’t realise yet.

The new world is iCal, ODF, RSS, Atom etc, its important that these are at the heat of innovation, we need an open data efinition, the ability to leave etc

  1. Altruism without scarifie
  2. Without lawyers
  3. Communication. Without control
  4. Freedom to leave

Governance required for definition of standards

ATOM publishing protocol

The Atom Publishing Protocol as Universal Web Glue
Tim Bray

Why? People in blogging constantly complain about how it works and that it doesn’t do what you want it to do, therefore there was a requirement to have a general purpose tool that will allow you to post to the web.

The speaker shows a slide having a go at user generated content and what a broken phrase it is

Out of 30 million blogs only about 6 million are regular blogs, still a fair number of active contributions, but if there are so many now why isn’t there 60 million – because the tools suck

Branded cell phones are so wrong as they control where the content can go – blogging tools are bad

The protocol

  1. Start at a publications URI; GET its “service document”, extract URIs for its “collections”
  2. Retrieve those collections, page at a time, see what entries, pictures and so on you already have
  3. POST an Atom entry to a collection. Get back its URI (in an HTTP header)
  4. POST a picture in binary to a collection. Get back a URI for the bits, and another for an Atom Entry with metadata
  5. PUT or DELETE an existing Atom entry
  6. There is no step 6

How APP differs

  • No API abstraction, just message parsing (unlike XML-RPC)
  • Security is decoupled; use whatever you usually use with HTTP, probably TLS (unlike WS*)
  • Client doesn’t need to understand/traverse the server namespace, client says “here’s the data” , the server answers “here’s where I put it” (unlike WebDAV)

Where APP is being used

  • Google ‘GDATA’ interface using it
  • Internal Ning inter-application transfer
  • MS says will use it next version of word
  • Many implementations under construction, you can test with ‘vi’ and ‘curl’

A guy is talking about using APP to post queries to and from a database in the browser to enable offline working, kind of like my offline ideas but not at the same level as I was thinking ( I was thinking at OSI layer level but I think this idea makes more sense for certain tasks) more ‘grokking’ required

We shift to a live demo of Atom in use, not capturing here though.

He is writing an Atom feed validator (in Ruby)

Mentions mobile phones several times and how such a simple publishing protocol can enable easy posting from the millions of phones out there, too big a crowd at the end to catch him for more discussion on that but conceptually it makes sense to me

Ajax Optimisation Techniques

Ajax Optimization Techniques: Working with Large Ajax Applications
Kevin Henrikson, Principal Engineer, Zimbra

Some verbose notes on what they (Zimbra) have found works in order to optimise the slew of Javascript that needs to go to the browser these days:

Compress – quicker download

Combine images , use CSS to grey out rather than double number of images

JSMin – javascript modifier but can mangle your code

ShrinkSafe (mozilla rhino based) works better

mod_qzip or mod_deflate – on the fly compression but pay CPU cost on each request

most other tools suck as not designed for the scale of todays apps

Netvibes as an example – 85% of the total app is Javascript that weighs it down

Combine javascript files

Apply shrinksafe 25% red

Gzip to compress 77% red

Total ~83% reduction

Caching – WHY? Reduce requests for example,

Add headers to HTTP requests like mod_rewrite or use a caching proxy like squid

Caching –

What Else?

DOMcontentloaded (and friends)

Firebug – web debugging eveolved

Hidden <div> image pre-cache

Google summer of code

Open Source, APIs, and the Summer of Code at Google
Chris DiBona, Open Source Programs Manager, Google, Inc. 
Chris uses Google Earth to move through his presentation, missed the first bit as couldn’t find the room.

SFLC helped them understand whether to join ODF foundation

Do you want people to have to pay to use your software and make it less important?

/. Shows a topic 5 different ways but not useful to spider/crawl 5 ways to the same info as the search results get untidy, some would argue that this already happening to the Google results
Google tends to use the Creative Commons no attrib sharelalike license – which is sort of like GPL

Set up a sitemap server under a CC protected protocol

When people say they have an open API but they sort of have a closed one, Google wants to open theirs so their competititors can also use it, but since they want to change something to it they have to go to Google now, which provided an infrastructure for cooperation – helps define a standard?

Next generation of HTML , as in HTML5, talking abut web authoring statistics, breakdown of HTML code tags used, provides some interesting stats such as the typical number of elements web pages have.. 19 apparently.

Next up for the research is javascript code, now that should provide some interesting stats too in this AJAX world.

Crowd asks how liong it takes to crawl a billion docs, “proprietary info” Chris quips with a wry smile
Next up Google talk , they wanted to release a voice stack and didn’t want to go proprietary so they wrote libjingle, under GPL etc

You want jabber because its federated and open – Google Earth flies us to Hamburg to show that two guys are working on open office there for Google.
Back to their big support on Firefox development, crowd asks if there is some overall mission for Google?

Google think of the open source community as their peers and look to get involved to help them make the web more interesting

We move on to a breakdown on the Google Summer of Code

  • 6338 applications
  • 3044 applicants
  • 1260 mentors
  • 630 students
  • 456 schools
  • 102 open source orgs
  • 90 countries

Bunch of graphs to show license types etc, top one is GPL with 41%

Most of the applicants come from … USA ! in the top 10, the next 11 countries tops out with China

Applications Google , KDE , Ubuntu top 3 apps

The crowd asks if Chris had a slide on the number of failed apps, to which he replies he would have to check with the Google dept of Evil as it might be bad

Most schools have only one participant to the programme but one school has 10

Not just computer science, mechanical engineering, english literature, interior design, urban planning, astronomy, cartography, genetics, developmental physchology

T-Shirt distribution – women vastly under represented, mostly X-Large

Most mentors from USA for some unknown reason , then Germany and UK

Mentors like blue

Small number of kids getting kicked out as they haven’t done the work properly, better for the money go to a better cause. He jokes that the $5000 won in Romania is a lot of money, and that the winner there spoke to him some time later and told him he was very grateful as he had started a company and employed 3 people.

We fly through the rest of the stats as time is running out but we finish with Google Earth showing the location of all mentors and students and what they are working on , it’s a very nice visualistation

Interview with Mike Olson: From Sleepycat to Oracle (and closing panel)

Interview with Mike Olson: From Sleepycat to Oracle
Michael Olson Interviewed by Nathan Torkington.

NT: “Are you pulling the devil to open source or open source to the devil?”

MO: “Oracle have done a lot of open source work but have been very bad at talking about it”

Nat: “Are open source companies like MySQL and Postgres taking customer away from Oracle?”

MO: “You have to look at this differently, they offer different solutions to different people, your average customer of MySQL isn’t going to be an Oracle customer unless he gets big…”

It’s a bit of a dry topic after the more lively and interesting presentations we’ve just seen, but then we’re talking about RDBMS ! but the point seems to be different products for different scale.
(As if to highlight this the screens display a message “call us crazy, call us fun, look under your seat to see if you’ve won” which takes the crowd further away from the interview on stage as most people start reaching under chairs to check)

I thought Nat was quiet, which is very unlike him and as if to prove the point a technician comes on stage and swaps his mike, funnily enough it doesn’t appear to make much difference.

MO: The Computer landscape is no longer one size fits all which means there is space for all the different requirements (higlighting the point above)
After this short ‘interview’ we switch to a panel session with the keynoters and a call to subscribe to Make magazine as it’s very cool.

Nat:MySpace just got bought for a ‘metric shit load of money’, do they use any SixApart tools?

Answer is no as they were on MIX06 showing off ASP .net so they use Microsoft.
Crowd:open source license obsolete? Does that mean humans will be obsolete? What did you mean?

Tim explains that the conditions have changed because people don’t have to download and install software because things have changed in the product, new updates are instantly there on the web. The questioner brings up a point about US passports giving rights that you give up at home which gets an ironic clap (from a few) , Tim points out that there is nothing wrong with the old/current licenses but that we need new ones for the new paradigm.

The sound for the presenters on stage is pretty poor so it makes it hard to capture all that is said
Nat asks the panel what is the most convincing argument is to take to your boss in the enterprise to make them switch.

Greenplum answers that for them they make a product that covers a problem that traditional companies can’t do so they don’t use ‘open source’ as an argument, theirs is “Greenplum provides performance”

Oracle makes the point that it’s easier for them to get into sales conversations because of their size rather than three guys and a sand filled camel, he also points out that in the Asymmetric wars don’t forget the money aspect, they have a lot of it and can afford to screw up and recover – Nat points out the take away is its always good to have money….

Suddenly the Oracle guy is animated and is making a lot of sense

Tim is ‘being provocative’ and outlines business models have been around for a while, as in ISP’s selling access to Apache

Open source is not a tactic, it is software points out Nat, the tactic is the business side and not part of the movement

Final question from Nat “a lot of us have won the battle to get open source into the enterprise but what happens next”

Tim “Old Age ……” or “what is the next hack, how do you stay young, how do you use your cleverness” “open source may get boring but the hacker impulse will always be there”

Anil “the battle has been about bad websites”

Grrenplum “its getting beyond the fact that open source is cheaper, the next thing is that it shouldn’t be because its cheaper, but because its better”

Oracle “go forth and work on interoperability as mashup etc still hard to do, if you’re at school go ….. mic cut out”

Trying To Suck Less – Making Web2.0 work

Trying to Suck Less: Making Web 2.0 Mean Something
Anil Dash, Vice President of Professional Products, Six Apart, Ltd. 
Anil starts with what a cool job he has, he gives numerous talks around the world about blogs

Connect with the people you care about – Hooray blogs

Cute Overload – website that encourages people to upload pictures of cats and dogs and then people discuss them, host cat pictures, make a little money!

Influencing mainstream media – NYT classic example of mainstream, Anil famouse for being covered in an article by them and wearing an ‘infamous’ Goatse t-shirt
Niche communities (helping furries get married) (helping anybody get conneted)

Get carried away with the domain name means something meme : www.hat.evr

Blogs and web2.0 don’t suck (mostly) but the things that do suck are:

  • Could be great but there is too much of everything
  • Build something nice and no one uses or you have to shut it down due to lack of funds
  • Doesn’t scale
  • No Profit! ( so you can scale)

It gets worse though…
Open data, feeds, APIs, source are there but they’re not really that open….

The requisite LAMP stack, people think its solved but its not, its just a platform to develop the application on, so what goes on top?, a long list of other stuff is required

He’s selling a free platform, open and free, they all work like crazy (his way of saying best in class)

  • Perlbal – light fast load balancer
  • Memcached – helps cache out requsts from db
  • mogileFS – a HA scalable system (OMG files!)
  • DjabberD – real time jabber messaging, powers LJ talk

Livejournal, Typepad, Vox which are all extracted from working applications which is why they work

Django and Ruby use the same components as above, the best parts of web2.0 applications are built on these, every one of the good ones is using at least one or all of these.

SixApart certainly have a number of solutions that are very popular and the point that they take care of the functions above the actual development makes sense, but there are a number of ways to do this now and I expect many more

The School of Rock

Nat pimps the prizes for filling out your OSCON passport by making sure you visit all the exhibitors.

School of Rock
Scott Yara, President and Co-Founder, Greenplum 
Scott was also in the executive briefing so not sure whether this will be different, so far it is, he explains how cool OSCON is and how its good to have fun, unlike enterprise conferences that rely on locations like Las Vegas to ‘attract the suits’ (CES anyone)
Open Source is like Rock Music

Started because people liked doing it and had fun creating something new without boundaries (licenses)

They share an ideal, but then money came and it changed everything (record labels, A&R etc)
It’s an artificial comparison but it does have merits and creates a few laughs along the way.

We get a clip from the film Singles designed to point out that not everyone will love your open source project but you may be ‘big in Belgium’

When you start an open source company do you want to be Nirvana (cool) or Hanson (uncool) – keep it real and don’t tarnish the image of open source
Recent trends , people looking through sourceforge trying to find active projects and then setting up a seperate company to sell support to users of the free product thereby taking advantage of the contributions made by others to the open source community (as opposed to selling your own support of course)
Would Google be the same if the same amount of queries happened but only made $60M revenue as opposed to the billions they have made?
Closing line “keep it real and keep it dangerous”