Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Open Source: consumer vs creator

Talk of "we do open source" or "we need to embrace open source" and lots of other comments at an open source awareness day at work yesterday made me think. What makes an individual, or company "open source" friendly?

I think I may have been guilty of some naivety around consumers of open source. I've heard some people be openly proud of the consumptive use of open source, but is it good enough to only be a consumer?

JP Rangaswami's blog post on 'Build vs Buy vs Opensource' springs to mind. Let's take in a few examples, and yes, they will be simple, as I'm simple minded ;)

Company A has a business problem that needs solving and they download a bunch of open source tools and applications (web servers and the like) and write a bit of custom code and make a custom application that solves that problem. Cool, well done.

Company B has a similar problem, but this time they sell that application as a vendor . OK, that's all well and good they've got costs to cover and if there's a market that's willing to pay then their analysts have done their job.

Now, what if both products from company A and B become common problems in themselves. Do they have a responsibility to open those products up? Perhaps responsibility is the wrong word, there may be circumstances (not red take circumstances that is) that makes this not the case, but do they at least have a moral obligation as a consumer to at least consider opening up?

Perhaps later, company A build a new product completely from scratch. If that becomes a common problem later, do they have any more reason to open source?

I suppose what I'm trying to ask is, is it enough as a creator to be a consumer of open source software to say "I'm open source friendly"?


Oh, and if you didn't attend, the take away was definitely PSDs poster.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Show me the feeds

Why is it when I subscribe to certain feeds that people choose to only show a snippet of their post/article. I want to read that in my RSS reader, I don't want to have to go to your site. Especially when I'm offline and I've downloaded the feeds through Google Gears, I get no value from those sites and it bugs me. Stop it. If you want metrics, then use Feedburner or something. Show me the feeds!!!

Keeping it Simple

I love this quote from

In short, Apple's used the best productivity trick in the world: to make the right thing to do the easy thing to do. Leopard's release will no doubt bring on an uptick of Mac users who diligently back up their system and data without even thinking about it.

I love that some companies are driving simplicity as product differentials. Apple are a great example, but I love the stuff 37Signals are churning out as well.

Keep us honest!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Posting updates to Twitter with Ruby

Step one in my new Premiership updater: post status to Twitter. It's pretty easy, so I'll just dive straight into code:

require 'net/http'
require 'uri'

url = URI.parse('')
url.user = "your username"
url.password = "your password"

res = Net::HTTP.post_form(url, {'status' => "hello world"})

puts res.body

Just two requires are needed before getting your hands dirty. Next is setting up Basic Authentication on the URI and posting with a single parameter of 'status'. Job done. View the result in XML or JSON through the update extension in the URI.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Twitter for group messaging

As what usually happens, I'm sitting somewhere or doing something completely unconsiderate for writing ideas down when something strikes me. I'm sitting in the car this time, driving home from a co-location day in Milton Keynes. I start thinking about Jay Fresh being stuck on a train, in the nicest possible way of course, and how Twitter could be used for more purposes then one to one or one to many communications. Perhaps an application could use Twitter to update those who are interested in certain information.

My thougths evolved into different kinds of application uses for Twitter and so far I've come up with two. Firstly, an account for an application to use for the specific use of microblogging. After this thought I went and set up an account for Mojo, a project I have been involved in at work, so those interested could hear what Mojo had to say.

The second use is more detailed to an application than say, a group of developers such as the Mojo example. As a football fan, I'm always interested in the latest Arsenal score, but I don't follow them extensively and am often out and about when they play choosing instead to watch highlights. I had thought about building an application that could slurp feeds from relevant sporting sites and post those to Twitter using their API. Then using features such as follow, I could get those feed updates straight to my mobile.

Cool eh? Now I have to go write it =)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Imifed blogging and other coolness

I'm entering this blog post through a GTalk chat with which is a reminder/notes/other service for use through your favorite chat client. It's sure to be a favourite with those who like their command line tools. It's like running something through the command, but it's a chat. It's pretty sweet, especially with cool modules like reminding whereby you can set a note and add the command "in 15 mins" to get that reminder to your IM window.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Left field anwsers

Ever seen an answer for a completely different problem that you thought "hold on, that could work for me".

Project Darkstar from Sun in an Open Source online game server with massive scalability that may help answer some questions for me. Interesting.

Technorati Profile

Saturday, October 20, 2007

OpenID and the Friend of a Friend social network problem

I've been reading some of the Google Groups about social network portability, and this was an interesting side from David Recordon.

Surely there's got to be a lot of leg room for OpenID as the data carrier of some kind of FOAF micro-format? OpenID can be extended, and if everyone moves towards OpenID as the authentication method of choice, surely that can be represented as a node in the social graph.

Something work thinking about methinks...

Friday, October 19, 2007

More finger pointing in the music biz

Apparently Apple and Tesco are more to 'blame' then the P2P file sharing sites for the 'crisis' facing the music industry. There has been a flurry of activity around 'the biz' recently with Radiohead's freebie album. At least Universal have taken some steps to move forward by selling USB sticks with singles on them with additional value add features such videos and the like. I can't say that I'd buy one, but at least they're trying something.

Once again I'll repeat my message. Stop moaning and change your business models to survive, or you will fall.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

apps of the day

There seem to be so many cool little apps appearing on the web. I found Xpenser through an article on ( . It's real simple tool where you can post your current expenses to keep track of them via SMS, IM or email. You can then get some simple reports from those to help with your personal finances.


Jott looks like another interesting place, doing voice transcripts from voice mails and putting those as feeds on their site. Only available to US residents at the moment, which is a shame as I'd really like to try it out.

The secret of Radiohead's "In Rainbows" business model.

I wrote a while ago about the differences between the Telco and Musix "biz" ( and I think Radiohead have taken a brave step. I hope they drag the music industry along with them. Change is constant, adjust your business models to feed the needs of modern society or risk being left behind.The Times have run some uncharacteristic headlines "The Day the Music Indsustry Died" (, although they had a more Times like headline today ( They asked some interesting questions about the price people are willing to pay and had some interesting comments from artists in the industry. It'll certainly be interesting to see reaction from bands like Oasis (current unsigned and looking for a distributor) and Charlatans (who have said signing a deal is like joining the army). Although it seems the record companies have the money behind them to market their clients, these bigger bands can get away without this through marketing online, through radio or live sessions and festivals.There's so much we get for free on the web, I can't really see consumers paying for music at all within a few years apart from those collectors editions.Sit back, watch the industry and listen to the music.BTW, I bought my Radiohead download for £5 and I'm very happy with that.

read more | digg story

Google patents datacenter-in-a-shipping-container, ignores Sun's BlackBox

Amazing how some companies can execute on some many different technologies and infrastructor plays. Their target market could be anything from SMBs to large enterprises. I'm sure the bigger enterprises may have difficultly giving up their infrastrure, but surely the more that non-core business related activities are outsourced the more the business can focus on key deliverables.If that were true!

read more | digg story

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Perfect Desktop?

If OpenSUSE can handle my football (soccer) streams, I'll be a happy bunny. What do you think? Should I give it a go and bump Ubutnu?

read more | digg story

Sunday, October 07, 2007

laptop batteries

I've been running my lightweight Fujitsu Seimens S7010 for about 2 years now, although there was a period of non use whilst using my massively oversized HP NW9440. A few months ago when I started playing with Ubuntu on the Fijitsu I've noticed the massive improvement in battery life compared with the HP. I've just noticed a warning on here, the battery logo gone red but it's still got an hour battery life left. I'd be lukcy to get an hour at 100% on the HP.

After speaking with JT at work, I'm seriously considering running Ubuntu on the HP with VMWare to try to improve performance.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Facebook Feed Shock!

After logging into Facebook this evening, I noticed a RSS logo, could it be?

Check it out for yourself...

It seems that this is the only place, for now.

No backward capability for new PS3s

This kind of talk makes me think - wait, I've spent a lot of money buying stuff for the PS2 and was holding out for the PS3 to drop in price so I could still play my PS2 games. But now I might as well sod the PS3 and just get the 360 as buying a PS3 is the same as starting again!

Facebook vs Your Favourite RSS Reader

In the last week or so my web life has changed. I thought I was using RSS properly on iGoogle, but considered the change to Google Reader. Now with email like behaviour rather than static like content, I'm getting much more from the web then before.

This all makes me think about the Facebook debate about walled gardens. To be honest, I do have a Facebook account, but find it generally quite annoying. What it is great at is something close to online personal CRM app with lots of people contributing to. I've already used it a few times to get contact information from when I've not had someones number and needed to get in touch with them.

I think for me, although the friend of a friend (FOAF) issues remain, I'd much rather sign up for various web apps (Twitter,, Dopplr, Flickr and blogs) feeds and watch those through my RSS reader than watch those through Facebook.

It frankly amazes me that they're considered worth £10bn or something. It must be through potential advertising channels and otherwise.

In an effort to attempt to circumnavigate Facebook, I've set up a Yahoo! Pipe to grab all my feeds from across the web and suck then all in one place. For now, you can see that here:

Thoughts on Scrapblog and Ficlets

We live in a world of ever increasing ease and the wonderful world of technology can really help to make your life easier/lazier and it's such a shame when new applications don't take those few steps to help their users.

I've tried two newish web apps today, and Scrapblog looks like a place where you can create a presentation and share it on the web, but try not to think about Power Point, think funky young play things. It's pretty easy to use, but lacks some ease of use features like OpenID, nice URIs and RSS everywhere (it does have RSS, but you have to lunch some javascript to get to it, yuck).

You can see my first effort, my recent holiday to Nice, France here: is a short story site where you're restricted to 1024 characters, but the community can write prequals and sequals, pretty neat. I dug out a few stories I wrote whilst at university and posted there ( This site is all web2.0ed up, brilliant. I'm loving the adopotion of OpenID and this site is easily navigatable with pretty URIs and lots of RSS everywhere.

There's lots to learn from Ficlets, let's carry on making it easier for users so we can all be lazy =)

Monday, October 01, 2007

Blogs/Articles of the day

Payments via SMS looks hot at the moment

More cheap virtual/cell phone companies starting up

Finally, after a great idea here about searching blogs for compaints and responding, At&T are taking it the other way...