February 27, 2008

Find me at Drupalcon next week, and a short note on the MySQL Acquisition

I just totally nailed my talk at Drupalcon next week to blather on and on about the open sourciness thing to the Drupalians. Drupalites? Drupies? Yes....that's it, Drupies! Anyhow...assuming I'm not totally killed by the crowd for calling them Drupies, I'll be lead off a 1 .5 hour session which will culminate with Leslie Hawthorn detailing the great work that Drupal did in GHOP, amongst other topics.

I'm really happy in that I'll be able to intersect with my old friends Brian 'Krow' Aker of MySQL (now sun....so... MySunQL? SunSQL? I kid...) and Miguel, if he is in town. Anyhow, we're planning on a nice dinner one of the nights of the show, in which I will pump him for information on optimizing MySQL on Linux, and what might need to be done there ongoing.

I think it is an interesting study of the Ebb and Flow of open source business to see MySQL ebb into an aquisition by Sun while companies like Drupal dip their toe into the commercial world as Acquia. It'd be easy to sound smug and superior by saying something like "Everything old is new again" but I'm not going to do that, because the road to profitability and/or success in open source is a deeply challenging one and very different for every company. No more or less challenging than the proprietary world mind you, but still..

Anyhow. Enough rambling. Congrats to my pals at MySQL for closing the deal with Sun and all that. Hope is works out great for all involved. Strong thought and project leadership in MySQL is really important, and it is my hope that Sun can bring some of its significantly smart engineering knowledge to bear on the brilliance that Brian, Monty and so many smart developers have brought to MySQL.

February 26, 2008

Kindle vs Iliad: Future! The Future I tell you.

So I'm sitting in Washington, DC's Union Station waiting on a train to take me north to Boston when I glance over at the dude sitting a few seats away. He's reading the Wall Street Journal and there is an article on the cover that I'd like to read.

I whip out the Kindle, download that days copy, and seventy-five cents later, I'm reading it.

It was pretty cool, actually, I read my article and the rest of the paper there on the Kindle, and it was really neat. The only real problem with the Kindle is the size of the screen, having used the Iliad e-book reader with it's significantly larger screen, reading a book on the Kindle feels claustrophobic, and the inter-screen flash that is endemic on screen readers right now (both the Iliad and the Kindle do this and it is part of the nature of the technology) seems worse on a smaller screen due to the fact that there is less information gained during any one page turn.

Anyhow, so I've been experimenting with the Kindle, and here's some thoughts I have on it and how it rates next to the Iliad. I've used both of them to read multiple purchased books, including the Diamond Age (Iliad) and Snow Crash (Kindle), blogs, and personal documents, when possible.

Also, the Kindle screen actually broke on me, but I'm not sure whose fault it was, as there was no precipitating event, but amazon was -really- great about replacing this, and I felt as if this was the norm, not an exceptional, event.

Kindle:

Pros:
  • Really amazing software, seriously.
  • Bitchin' little scroll wheel display thingy.
  • EVDO whispernet is from the future.
  • Great battery life and sleep management.
Cons:
  • Buttons everywhere. I challenge newcomers to the platform to pick up the device without hitting a button.
  • Absurdly silly keyboard. Angled keys seem strange and hard to press interesting combos like alt-p one handed or in low light.
  • No usb port for mounting a usb light, which is super handy to do for reading in low light situations on the iliad.
  • Weird importing rules. In fact, I'd say damn stupid importing functionality. Great on things you buy, shitty on things you don't/shouldn't have to like blogs /technical docs and pdfs.
  • Hacker hostile
  • No charging from usb (trickle-charging is a lie).
  • Stupid non-standard power.
Iliad:

Pros:
  • Awesome, amazing, screen size
  • Decent battery life.
  • Just barely okay device software.
  • More hacker friendly, SDK is available as are some 3rd party programs.
  • Fantastic memory support.
  • USB port for handy use of a usb-light, external edvo/cell connection or memory stick (it's intended purpose)
  • Amazing device for on-screen editing (All hail the wacom stylus pad built into the device)
Cons:
  • Shit sleep support, you basically need to do a full shut off/turn on the device to use it. It's fast at this, but still.
  • Shit fonts in the mobipocket viewer. Ever heard of serif fonts, iRex and Mobi? They make people happy when reading smaller fonts as it gives the eyes hints.
  • No bitching amazing whispernet.
  • Software is shit if you leave the stylus behind.
  • No charging from the usb.
  • USB/Power dongle makes me want to smash with hammer.
  • Deeply shitty/baffling client software (thank goodness for mobipocket desktop)
  • Bug on first power-on means the first or second rendered mobipocket page should be rerendered by doing a forward/back page.
Commonalities:
  • Both are lighter than the Deathly Hollows.
  • Both hold tons of books.
  • Both are super readable during the day, in full sun.
  • Both have less albedo so night reading is trickier than a regular book.
  • Both have the same/extremely similar inter-page flash.
  • Both should have better client/pdf support.
  • Both should have better support for RSS feeds. Whether through Amazon or Mobipocket, they both suck. This isn't a coincidence, as Amazon uses and owns Mobipocket.
  • Both need a way wider selection of books (again, both are mobipocket consumers) or they will both fail. There simply isn't the selection to support the market. So I still carry books.
Final thoughts:

Domestically, the Kindle will win for the EVDO bitchenness. But I'll actually carry around the
Iliad. Both are too expensive and need more books to be made available before they'll be popular.

February 14, 2008

New Zealand, Webstock and Backgammon, oh my..

Yep, I'm on a plane again. This time on a flight from Sydney Kingsford to Aukland (and later to Wellington for webstock). Air New Zealand is plying me with red wine, which is nice, and lamb, which is nicer and it strikes me that a little over 16 hours ago, I was in SFO boarding a similar flight to Sydney.

Why it strikes me is that I was worried, having not flown internationally for about three months, was that I might have lost the knack for long flights. There was a little bit of dread going on in my head when considering the 15 hour flight, then a 3 hour flight to NZ.

But it was cake. I even managed to sleep for 6 or 7 hours (in one hour chunks, mind you), I caught up on the new terminator show, which is just barely okay enough to watch, and some other TV, copied from the Tivo, and managed to get nothing else done. It was mostly about consuming media. I didn't even play any games, modulo a few games of backgammon against the computer.

I find backgammon against a computer to be a very deterministic thing. Depending on the rolls, I can tell within the first turn or two how likely it is that I will be able to defeat the computer. Hoyle Backgammon is a pretty crappy program, too, but it is good enough to beat you if it rolls well. You can definitely beat it points-wise, though, as its risk algorithm that decides whether or not to accept a doubling is flawed and it tends to accept it when only a flop-sweaty drunk would do so. But it keeps my 'gammon skills sharp for that inevitable day when I must play to save the world against an unseen alien enemy from beyond.

Okay, so maybe that won't happen. But it's nice to not be terrible at it. I want to be not terrible at chess too, so I've been noodling with chessmaster when on planes. The latest patch to the 10th edition is a no-cd patch, thank you very much, and so I don't need to whip out the portable dvd-rom drive to start with the chess learning.

Here comes breakfast. More later...

Later....

I'm now in Wellington , approaching day 2 of webstock. Webstock is just about the best show I've been to in a long time. They treat speakers very well and the speakers are almost universally interesting and compelling. Totally worth the trip, time, and sponsorship dollars from mother company. For you New Zealanders, you should make time for this next year.

Wellington continues to charm, too. It is a very small city, incredibly walkable and sweet. It reminds one of a smaller version of San Francisco, but with a more European/British flair to it.

More later :)

February 3, 2008

Pride goeth....

No, this is not a post about the whole Microsoft/Yahoo thing, which, by the way, seems to be a plot by those two companies to double the kilobytes coming into my email box. This is instead a glorified link to a terrific article about the recent problems at Société Générale. This writeup in the wall street journal is full of terrific and quite personal details and gets right to the root of the problem, that this was a trader who was insufficiently observed and was given a remarkable amount of power, little oversight and was driven by insecurity and pride.

That said, I'm not sure that I buy that he did anything illegal... maybe the faked emails and hedges looks like fraud, but it might just be a violation of corporate policy, and you know, one that failed to respond to its compliance desks concerns about the trader anyhow.

If he had made money, he'd have been celebrated as a hero, frankly, and that's probably why the bank ignored their compliance desk's many warnings. Anyhow, read that and then read this great book about the unravelling of long term capital management.