Tag Archives: open source

Chickens, eggs and N900s

In my previous article I alluded to Maemo community outreach as a “chicken and egg scenario”.  The exact point is that it can be hard for a corporation to justify outreach expenditures if there’s no proof of significant interest.  Easy to swallow as reality but still tough for a community evangelist to fully digest.

In this case that outreach translates to developers, particularly those attracted to Linux, Qt and especially the mobile computing ecosystem.

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Maemo rubber hits the road

I just got back from the Maemo Developer event held in Santa Clara, California December 3 and 4.  The tenor was more about developer outreach than training but that was not a bad thing at all– sessions like these are needed to cultivate interest, especially amongst commercial contributors.

The trip was made all the more… well, exciting for me because everything was last minute.  I did not know for sure I would be attending until a week or so before, then received three day notice I would be presenting on behalf of the community.  Halfway there on the plane it became clear to me (thanks to GoGo wifi and Ovi mail) after a couple of exchanges with Maemo folks that the event’s main audience would come from the business side of the software world, which meant more changes to my presentation.  By the time I got done there was so much text on the slides I tripped myself up trying to read it!

Ah, the benefit of time to practice… 😉

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Opening up to Open Source

It’s funny the turns Life takes.

I started programming in the eartly 1980s, on Timex Sinclair, Commodore 64 and TRS-80 computers in short order.  In those wild days when high-level languages were really coming into their own, free and open source software seemed more readily available than retail equivalents.  Hobbyist magazines, online bulletin boards and even the fledgling internet (pre WWW) were stuffed with code just waiting for eager learners like me to take and tweak.  There wasn’t much in the way of formal free and open source protocol at the time– that evolved soon enough though.

But as I evolved myself, from hobbyist to ad hoc developer for various employers, I found myself drawn in deeper and deeper to the closed source world.  I discovered I had a liking and knack for Visual Basic and thus fell into the Microsoft development vortex.

It’s a seductive and powerful sucker, too.  It was all too easy to be “bought off” by events with (ironically) free training, free food and even giveaways of free software.  I ultimately joined a Microsoft program that dumped thousands of dollars of tools in my lap for an embarrassingly small outlay.  Resistance was futile.

Yep, I was assimilated.

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Is 2009 the year for open source?

Companies are shedding jobs like crazy, including strategic ones in IT (which to me IS crazy) and of course my own recentlyNovember 2008 job losses indicate the United States may soon be retesting near-Depression era unemployment rates. President-elect Obama says he has an ambitious infrastructure-oriented plan (which we desperately need) that in part addresses our nationwide broadband capabilities as well as energy-savings potential.  But why not go further in that area?

A surefire way to get operating costs down is to incorporate more and more open source tools into the systems backbone.  This includes Linux on servers and the desktop for starters.  Purchasing Maemo Linux-driven Nokia internet tablets to replace desktop phones (using Voice over IP, or VOIP) is a good next step– especially since the tablets are essentially highly mobile mini laptops with myriad uses.  The N810 WiMAX Edition model would be perfect for the DC area since the service is being deployed there.

The US government is the ideal candidate for this sort of move for many reasons, cost savings to taxpayers just being one.  The fed is said to still employ many antiquated systems and software so there is far less legacy and inertia involved in going open than in a commercial situation.  In addition, taking the open source route could remove at least one layer of potential conflict-of-interest that may lie with vendors who have contributed to political campaigns.  I doubt open source developers and distributors contribute on the same scale!

There is encouragement to be found in analysis showing open source enterprises to be prospering in this economic downturn.  I would view that as common sense, but it’s good to see validation.

If incoming president Barack Obama is serious about putting Americans to work, saving energy and cutting cost, it’s time the fed took open source seriously.  That would be change we geeks can believe in.

Update: the N810 WiMAX Edition tablet has been cancelled by Nokia.