There are more rumors about a Google drive (GDrive) coming out this year:
Gdrive is basically a cloud-based storage that should have two faces: A desktop client that keeps local and online files and folders in two-directional sync via a web interface for accessing your desktop files anywhere and anytime, using any network-enabled computer. In addition, it will come tightly integrated with other Google services to enable editing of supported document types, like spreadsheets and presentations via Google Docs, email via Gmail, images via Picasa Web Albums, etc.
I tried using S3 as a backup solution 3 years ago, but it was way, way too slow. Now that I have FIOS, maybe things are different. The thing I'll be watching for? What the pricing model for this service will be. I understand Amazon's model; how is Google going to do it?
Technorati Tags: cloud computing
After years of being told how cool it is, I finally registered for Pandora this morning, and I'm giving it a try. While iTunes is very cool, I would like to find new music that I'm not already listening to. We'll see how well that works out.
Update: Ok, I like Pandora. After giving it a sample artist, it's created a playlist that includes a lot of stuff I like - some of it I have, some of it I don't. The only downside? I suspect that Pandora is going to cost me money (i.e., extra trips to the iTunes/Amazon store).
Don't tell the RIAA though - they're convinced that Pandora costs them money. Idiots.
The Obama administration will be using Google Mail accounts in the first few hours of the new administration because it will take time to set up their new official email accounts.
I don't think Google could have paid for better PR than that.
By all accounts, Microsoft has stepped up to the plate with Windows 7 - here's PC World on it:
There's no question about it: Microsoft has a hit on its hands with Windows 7. Even in beta form, the company's new desktop OS is garnering accolades from all corners of the blogosphere. By most accounts, the product seems faster and more stable than even Vista with Service Pack 1. And veteran Windows users everywhere are singing the praises of "new" features like the more refined User Account Control (UAC) mechanism and funky, Mac OS X Dock-like Task Bar.
I've heard from friends (and podcasts that I listen to as well) that the beta runs fine in things like VMWare and Parallels, and that it uses existing Vista drivers just fine. That's good news for MS - it means that 7 will hit the ground running. The only thing left is the branding exercise, which they muffed for Vista. I don't really expect a repeat of that - say what you will about Microsoft, but they rarely make the same mistake repeatedly.
There's a good news for Smalltalkers in this, too: We'll have to go through the process again, but our Vista Certified Smalltalk - ObjectStudio - should run smoothly under Windows 7. We've done some basic testing, and not noticed any issues. Which is not to say it's supported on Windows 7 - the OS is only in beta, after all. What it does mean is that we don't expect any real hurdles to supporting it quickly once MS goes to release.
I guess it's time to start really scrutinizing the old credit card statements - from PC World:
A payment processor responsible for handling about 100 million credit card transactions every month disclosed today that thieves had used malicious software in its network in 2008 to steal an unknown number of credit card numbers.
It's not that theft is more common with electronic transactions than it is with old fashioned physical ones; it's that any electronic theft has the potential to be much, much larger.
I've been looking for a solid way to have a full backup of any podcast recording I do, and SkypeCap might be just the thing:
SkypeCap records audio conversations you have using the Skype Voice over IP (VoIP) service to MP4 audio file. You can save sessions for later use and playback
It's OS X software, which is what I need. Right now, I record my end of the call, and Michael records his - and then I mix it all together at the end. If Audacity crashes though, I have a mess (and that happened to me a few weeks back). I might have to give this a look.
You can follow this blog on Twitter - every post gets linked over there. Just follow me, and you'll get all the updates. There's also a FriendFeed room - lots of stuff gets aggregated there. There's more than one Facebook group, but the "Smalltalkers" group seems to be the primary - you can also just friend me there. Finally, there's a Ning group, a Vimeo Video group, and a YouTube playlist.
Arden Thomas will be in NYC tonight, at the local Smalltalk User's Group:
"Leveraging Multicore CPU's with Cincom Smalltalk"
This presentation will discuss potential ways to leverage cpu's with multiple cores for concurrency, and some of Cincom's research, experiments and results.
This follows on from a series of posts over on Arden's blog. If you're in the area, check it out.
Travis explains a cool extension to the "Clone" capability in the browser:
There's also a new special form of Clone that shows up in the class menu only when you have a class and its superclass selected. It's called Blend. What it will do is create a clone of the two classes, collapsed into a single class. I spent some time playing with this at OOPSLA, and came to the conclusion (with agreement for the Master Refactorers, Don Roberts and John Brant), that you can't do this as a strict in place refactoring. So it's done as a clone.
See Travis' post for an explanation - it's a nifty way to clean up deep hierarchies that you no longer need.
Now Listening to: Born In The U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen from: Live 1975-85 [Disc 2]
It's useful to recall that social media sites - things like Facebook and Twitter - exist to enable user defined interaction between people. In a business context, that probably means trying to get out useful information that your community would be interested in. What it doesn't mean is an echo chamber consisting of self proclaimed "social media experts" patting each other on the back all day. Michael Pinto:
The zombies then seek each other: You'll always notice that of the 5,000 followers that a social media expert has that all 5,000 of them are also social media "experts". Their only form of conversation is to quote each other and live tweet conferences where they gather. Like any good Ponzi scheme the lead zombies can make a good living feeding the hopes and aspirations of the worker level drones who parrot their every blog entry.
You see a lot of this kind of thing on Twitter - there are tons of people who chatter all day long amongst themselves about their own brilliance in this new arena. It's one thing for consultants selling that sort of expertise to do this; it's something else again to watch their fawning acolytes from product oriented companies engaging in it - what's the point?
I make use of Twitter (the vast majority of my tweets are auto-posts from this blog). I'm also on Facebook, where I cross-post the "Smalltalk Daily" videos. I like to think that broadens the potential reach of those videos. The thing is, I'm trying to use social media sites in support of my basic mission: spread Smalltalk knowledge generally, and Cincom Smalltalk knowledge specifically.
So what's the bottom line here? Social Media is a means, not an end. If you're going to jump in, you need to have a goal in mind. That goal could be personal, like "find old friends from high school". It could be a corporate goal, like "make it easier to find information about our product(s)". If it's instead something like "broadcast my brilliance in the social media environment", then there's a new catchphrase that defines what you're doing:
I'm not sure this is the ideal way to go about it, but this contest (not being run by Twitter, I should add) is certainly interesting:
Following the rousing success of our Fix Digg's Miserable Business contest, we are hereby officially announcing the Create A Twitter Revenue Model contest.
After we decide on a winner, we'll post their plan and resume on Alley Insider as well as email both to Twitter cofounder Evan Williams. We'll post some finalist entries on Alley Insider, too.
That should be fun to watch :)
Now Listening to: Wild Child by Heart from: Rock The House Live
Eliot presented his Cog VM work at ESUG 2008 -- Cog is a new, JIT'd VM for Squeak. It's still under development - watch the video for details, both on the VM work, and on how to get involved. You can follow Eliot's work on his blog; click on the image below to watch the video:
You can also watch it on Vimeo:
You could have the same guy for introductory computer science that this poor guy has.
Honestly, this would be a hard transition to make:
The team members, accustomed to working on Macintoshes, found computers outfitted with six-year-old versions of Microsoft software.
Sounds like the White House is one of the places that decided not to make the switch to Vista - which hearkens back to MS' failure to win the branding war for the new OS.
Now Listening to: Long Distance by The Kinks from: Come Dancing With The Kinks - The Best Of The Kinks [UK]
Time Machine is normally reliable, but if it gets into trouble your off in the weeds pretty quickly. Over on my iMac this morning, I noticed that backups were failing. Sure enough, my old friend, an "inProgress" directory was there. This one isn't doing a network backup though; I'm not really sure what caused the hiccup.
Either way, the stupid directory wouldn't delete - not with sudo in a shell, not via the Finder, nothing. Looking around the internet, I found a suggestion: you not only have to turn Time Machine off, you might need to reboot to get the system to believe that no one is using the file. Sigh. Reboot the Mac.
When it came back up (blissfully quickly), I selected the file in Finder, and it immediately prompted me for permission (which it wasn't doing before I rebooted). That tossed it in the trash, and from there I was able to empty the trash without any problem. That's a bug, and something that I'm sure drives people who run into it nuts.
Oh, and per the thought I had last time something like this happened, I tried renaming the directory. No dice there either, at least not before a reboot.
Now Listening to: Wonder by Natalie Merchant from: Live In Concert
Technorati Tags: backups
I have to admit, I never really thought that client side Linux would go anywhere. And, in the traditional PC/laptop market, it hasn't. However, it is being used extensively in the growing NetBook segment, and it's starting to do damage to Microsoft's bottom line:
Client revenue declined 8 percent as a result of PC market weakness and a continued shift to lower priced netbooks.
That's an astonishing admission. It means that people are forgoing higher-priced laptops, and instead buying netbooks -- and many of those netbooks are powered by Linux. So Microsoft loses out not only on sales of Windows, but also sales of Microsoft Office as well. Estimates are that 30 percent of all netbooks ship with Linux.
The two big cash cows for MS are Windows and Office. On the luxury end, Apple is doing some damage with the MacBook and MacBook Pro. The surprising part (to me, at least) - is how much damage is being done at the other end of the segment by the low end offerings. I'm not sure whether Windows 7 will really make much of a difference here - while all reports are that it's a stable, solid OS, it's not really targeted down at that end. Microsoft suddenly has a two front war to fight - Apple on one end, and the low cost vendors who are making a go of it with Linux on the other.
On an anecdotal note, when I go out and give talks (like the one I recently gave in Dallas), I'm seeing lots of Macs, but also a rising number of netbooks - some with very small footprints. I'm seeing fewer and fewer Windows boxes amongst the audiences I speak to.
If you have a slow net connection, and have been deterred from trying out Cincom Smalltalk because of that - keep German Arduino in mind:
Some days ago, when I downloaded the NC version of VisualWorks, I found also this page, with the possibility of request a CD of VWNC to Cincom. Then, I completed the form and forgot the question.
Today, very very few days after such request, I received on my home, on Sunchales, Argentina a box containing a software box, coming from Cincinnati!.
All you need to do is head on over here, fill out the form, and check the box requesting a CD. We'll do the rest.
Technorati Tags: cincom smalltalk
The best form of advertising today? Make it easy to get access to what you offer, and people will buy it if you make that possible. The two are related - you not only have to make your product accessible, you really have to make it buyable, too. Witness the Monty Python experience:
And you know what? Despite the entertainment industry's constant cries about how bad they're doing, it works. As we wrote yesterday, Monty Python's DVDs climbed to No. 2 on Amazon's Movies & TV bestsellers list, with increased sales of 23,000 percent.
Your product is the advertising. "Clever" writing, social media - those are all things you use to make people aware of your product. In the end, either it can sell itself or it can't.
I've just made it easier to get your question answered. Over on the left sidebar there's a "Chat" widget, which is linked to my GoogleTalk account - it shows my live status, and - if I'm here at my Mac, I'll answer when you ping. You don't need a Google account yourself; it will run a client out of your browser for you.
I've brought up the iTunes links for the three shows we syndicate recently, but I forgot to make a simple request: please add a review on iTunes. It helps raise the visibility of the shows, and that visibility is good for Smalltalk in general. Here are the links again - thanks!
- Industry Misinterpretations - the weekly Smalltalk podcast (audio)
- Smalltalk Daily - the daily Smalltalk screencast
- Smalltalk on the Tubes - Smalltalk videos, primarily from conferences and events
Now Listening to: After The Gold Rush by Natalie Merchant from: Live In Concert
Microsoft's newly-announced layoffs and declining profits aren't the only bad news in Redmond -- according to the company's quarterly statements, Zune platform revenue decreased $100 million, or 54 percent compared to the same quarter last year, due to falling device sales.
It's too early for this to be due to the year end lockup issue; I guess it's just not picking up any traction at all. Not a huge surprise; the iPod continues to be a great combo with iTunes, and the iPhone and Touch have sucked all the oxygen out of the space. I'm sure they'll stick with the device, but it looks like they have their work cut out for them.
I'll be in Cincinnati during part of the week of February 2nd; in particular, I'll be speaking at the Agile Roundtable on Feb. 3rd. I'll be presenting Seaside and Web Velocity, and we'll have non-commercial CDs on hand. There are details at this Facebook event page.
Go ahead and RSVP for the event on Facebook; I'll see you there!
I'm no fan of network throttling behavior by an ISP, but I have to chuckle at this FCC request to Comcast. They've implemented a new bandwidth throttling scheme that simply limits the pull by anyone on their network who sustains a 70% level of usage for "too long". Letting such usage pass will impact other users on that network segment - you don't really want to see your streaming Netflix video come to a halt because Bob next door is sucking down all the bandwidth, for instance. Here's where it gets tricky - the FCC is interested in VOIP calls:
If Comcast is affecting the performance of Internet-based VoIP providers, why isn''t its own service -- Comcast Digital Voice -- being affected as well? Specifically, the FCC asked Comcast to "provide a detailed justification for Comcast's treatment of its own VoIP service as compared to that offered by other VoIP providers on its network, [including] whether, and if so, how, Comcast Digital Voice affects network congestion in a different manner than other VoIP services."
That suddenly stops being simple. The net effect of that could be for Comcast (or any ISP) to treat their own VOIP service (which customers pay for) equally with, say, Skype (which is free). If this were like the old telephone system, and it was simply a matter of treating all vendors equally, it would be one thing - subscribers were paying for each service. On the net though? I can see why Comcast would favor their own VOIP, given that most of the competing VOIP systems are free. I don't know what the answer to this is, but it's sure not simple.
I just bought (and finished) two books from Amazon: "Crusade" by Stuart Slade, and "Britannia's Fist", by Peter Tsouras. I only just noticed that the latter is a trilogy (the final two books not being written yet) - the former is part of an ongoing alternate history series.
"Crusade" is set in a world where Britain yielded in 1941 (under Halifax instead of Churchill). It's the 60's now, and the entire world is very different - Europe is a backwater, India is a world power, China and Japan are a merged empire, and Russia is an American ally. WWII ended with the nuclear annihilation of Germany in 1947; the middle east is a growing Caliphate (thus the book's name). Like Slade's earlier books, it's an interesting idea, but needs polish (and spell checking). It was clear from the way it ended that Slade intends to write more about this world.
The Tsouras book makes one major shift - an 1863 diplomatic crisis between the US and UK goes hot instead of being ended quietly, and the UK goes to war. Most of this book is setup; the action begins as the book is ending, leaving me waiting for the next book.
While I'm not sure I'll look for Slade's next book with that much enthusiasm, I will be keeping my eyes peeled for Tsouras' followup.
Technorati Tags: alternate history
Rumor is Twitter hit up more than a few venture firms to pitch the $250 million valuation, and got more than one "no". But someone's bit, perhaps encouraged by Twitter's breakneck growth and the interest from Facebook. That means Twitter gets a new cash injection and time to figure out its business model at an even more leisurely pace.
I know everyone gushes over the number of people using Twitter, but that still doesn't add up to a revenue model. How many of the people using Twitter visit the website itself regularly? Even if they start tossing ads in the update stream, will that matter? I have yet to click on any of the ads Twitterific tosses at me.
The IPO market for startups is just about dead, between the high costs added by Sarbanes/Oxley and the general bad market we're in right now, and the bad market we're in has made a buyout from an existing firm less likely. I'd love to know what the people who tossed this money at Twitter think they'll get in return...
Dare Obasanjo gives some personal insight into how the economic news affects individuals:
As each week passes I've been less sure of our plans to "help the local economy" and last week's announcement by my employer to eliminate 5,000 jobs within the next 18 months began to make the plans seem downright irresponsible. At this point we've decided to hold off on the purchases and are debating the safest way to hold on the money and still retain value.
This is pretty widespread, based on what I'm seeing and reading. Cincom has been doing pretty well, and the Smalltalk business in particular has been doing well - but Cincom isn't magically immune from the economy, so I get the same kinds of nervous jitters that Dare does. I've been putting off things like new TVs, even though there are pretty good deals available on flat screens. I've been putting off a new car, even though mine is 20 years old and burns oil - and worse, my wife's knees can't really take the layout of that car anymore.
Broadcast this kind of "hmmmm..." thinking across enough people, and you start to see sustained levels of "wait and see".
Now Listening to: Go Your Own Way by Wilson Phillips from: California
Technorati Tags: economy
Down at the bottom of this speculative pieceabout the future of the Zune is this:
The thing about the global financial crisis is that itâ€™s forcing companies to undergo reality checks. Microsoft, by now, should be realizing that it's never going to be as "coo'" as Apple, so why waste its time with the Zune where it has no competitive advantage?
Let's put the Zune aside though, and consider the larger point: reality checks. Lots of companies have "sacred cow" projects - things that "everyone" knows are failures, but that the politically well connected at the company manage to keep alive - usually it's self delusion, not ill will, that is the driving force.
Now enter the financial problems, with the difficulties in getting loans at reasonable rates - suddenly, these sacred cow projects are going to be way, way more noticeable. I suspect one of two things will happen in places that have dangerous (meaning expensive) projects of this sort:
- The delusion will be maintained, and it will drag the entire company down
- The veil will be lifted, and the sacred cow will be led to the abattoir
Lest you think this is some kind of general animus on my part towards MS, it's not - the Zune is just an example. The only thing holding us back from buying an XBox 360 is the economic uncertainty I mentioned earlier today. Everyone I know who has an XBox loves it, and the streaming HD from NetFlix seems to work very well.
Now Listening to: Long Long Journeyby Enyafrom: Amarantine
Technorati Tags: economy
I'm just full of good news this morning - my wife sent me this link about a new strain of drug resistant staph that's been spotted in the US for the first time:
A strain of drug-resistant staph identified in pigs in the Netherlands five years ago, which accounts for nearly one third of all staph in humans there, has been found in the U.S. for the first time, according to a new study.
This brought to mind a truly terrifying thing I read about hospital scrubs (and doctor's lab coats) recently - it made the point that many of the nasty bacteria that hang around hospitals get on scrubs - which doctors and other staff are increasingly wearing outside of work. It also pointed out that fewer hospitals were laundering these things for the staff (as part of cost savings measures - and this was true both in the US and elsewhere), and you set up some really ugly possibilities.
The good news is that there's a fairly simple fix: have hospitals launder the uniforms and lab coats, and make it policy that staff can't wear them outside of the hospital. That simple policy seems to yield very good results:
Until about 20 years ago, nearly all hospitals laundered scrubs for their staff. A few hospitals are returning to that policy. St. Mary's Health Center in St. Louis, Mo., reduced infections after cesarean births by more than 50% by giving all caregivers hospital-laundered scrubs, as well as requiring them to wear two layers of gloves. Monroe Hospital in Bloomington, Ind., which has a near-zero rate of hospital-acquired infections, provides laundered scrubs for all staff and prohibits them from wearing scrubs outside the building. Stamford Hospital in Connecticut recently banned wearing scrubs outside the hospital.
This makes me wonder whether the decision to stop laundering was done by a accountants - I'm sure it looked brilliant on a spreadsheet.
It seems that John Wilkes Booth wasn't the only one in the family with Presidential murder on his mind:
Dismissed for 175 years as a fake, a letter threatening the assassination of President Andrew Jackson has been found to be authentic. And, says the director of the Andrew Jackson Papers Project at the University of Tennessee, the writer was none other than Junius Brutus Booth, father of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth.
The Wilkes household must have been a fairly toxic place to grow up...
This week we talked to Steve Kelly about Domain Specific Modeling and Languages - which he's an expert on, given his work at MetaCase on the MetaEdit+ tool. You can give their free evaluation a try yourself - Steve also sent me a bunch of resource links:
- Examples of Domain Specific Languages
- A Webcast on DSM and Visual Debugging
- Steve's book (with J.P. Tolnanen) on DSM
- Steve's blog and various articles
- The MetaPHOR University project, which is the origin of MetaEdit
Here's an example model, which is explained in context here:
It was a great podcast, we hope you enjoy it - click here to download it.
At some point in the Parallels update process (I think when I moved to the latest major release), I stopped seeing the Windows file system on the Mac. I could still see the Mac file system under Windows, but on the Mac, the VM stopped showing up in Finder.
I had forgotten that MacFUSE needed an update as well. I just ran that update, and now the VM is cheerfully mounted again.
Buried in the cheesiness of the 70's "Galactica" was a decent concept - which has been nicely re-imagined with today's BSG. However, I see little chance that the truly bogus "V" will give us anything good. The base concept was pretty stupid - unless they reuse the name and pitch everything else, what is there to hope for?
ABC has given a pilot order to V, a reimagining of the 1980s miniseries about an alien invasion, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Technorati Tags: stupdity
Dare Obasanjo notes that worries about the security of the cloud are kind of misplaced, given the more prosaic security problems that abound:
Secondly, people are often notoriously bad at assessing riskand often fail to consider that it is more likely that data loss will occur when their personal hardware fails given that the average computer user doesn't have a data backup strategy than it is likely to occur if their information is stored on some Web company's servers. For example, I still have emails from the last decade available to me in my Hotmailand Yahoo! Mailaccounts. On the other hand, my personal archive of mail from the early 2000s which had survived being moved across three different desktop PCs was finally lost when the hard drive failed on my home computer a few months ago.
I never really had a backup strategy before Leopard and Time Machine - I'd do manual backups to CD every so often (and I had one fairly major data loss as a result). On the other hand, every email I've sent or received via gmail is archived for me, and I haven't had to so much as think about it.
It's not that cloud computing poses no risks at all; it's that we already ignore far more likely ones in our day to day computing.
We have a bathroom being remodeled, so of course today is when the job started:
It's not terrible weather, but not an auspicious start to a remodeling project, IMHO
Update: The snow is picking up steam:
And the walls are coming down for the bathroom...
Now Listening to: Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band from: Live 1975-85 [Disc 3]
Patents long ago stopped being about innovation, and started being about legal rent seeking. Take Apple's latest patent on multi-touch:
The US Patent Office has signed, sealed, and delivered a late Christmas present to Apple. On January 20th, the powers that be awarded patent #7,479,949, titled Touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics, to Apple. Essentially, Apple wins the war on their multi-touch technology and other copycats should be shaking in their boots.
Microsoft demonstrated "Surface" awhile ago, and I doubt that Palm's new interface is anything more than inspired by the Apple work. And yet - the way the system works, Apple will have (if this holds) an effective monopoly on this. How this helps an end customer like me is unclear at best.
Now Listening to: Drive by The Cars from: The Cars Greatest Hits
Technorati Tags: patents
Looks like Ambrai Smalltalk is back - Dave Buck reports in comp.lang.smalltalk:
I spoke to Dorin from Ambrai. He said that they have picked up development of Ambrai Smalltalk after a hiatus and are planning a future release. He's agreed to give a presentation on Ambrai Smalltalk in the spring at the Ottawa Carleton Smalltalk Users Group. I'll record a video of that presentation and post it on the web for everyone to see.
I'll have to see about getting Dorin on the podcast.
One thing I should point out - the videos that go to YouTube end up fuzzy. This seems to be an inescapable artifact of their conversion process. However, there is something you can do about that. On the lower right hand side of the view window is a "play quality" link. If you select "watch in high quality", it looks better. You can change your personal YouTube viewing preferences to always watch things that way as well in your account settings (assuming you have one).
I understand why RIM wanted the Storm out before Christmas, but it clearly wasn't ready - and now it's going to hold onto the bad impressions for awhile:
Only half million Blackberry Storm devices were sold in the U.S. since November, according to the Wall Street Journal . During the same holiday period, Apple sold more than two million iPhones, totaling over a quarter of the North American smartphone market. RIM's shares have also dropped more than 5 percent since news broke that Storm users are still unhappy with their experience on the device.
I think they would have been better off had they held it until it could really wow people. The clear lesson? Don't trade time to market for quality. The old adage still holds: You only get one chance to make a first impression.
This should be interesting: Amazon is set to release their second generation Kindle next month. I wonder what they'll have changed/improved. There are rumors about better buttons and improved page updates - my wife has said she would like to see backlighting so she could use it in bed without a book light. Sounds like that's not in the cards though.
If I traveled more, I'd take a serious look at this device - carrying physical books on a long trip (Europe, Asia) is a pain. As it is, it's not (yet) high on my list.