Archive for the ‘People’ Category

January

31

by Kaj Kandler

Solveig Haugland, one of the best known trainers and consultants for OpenOffice.org offers free presentations about migrating to Open Office, to organizations that are interested in such a task.

Solveig is the author of many books, teaching Open Office software. Her latest book is “OpenOffice.org 2.0 Guidebook“, which you can also order from Amazon.

November

24

by Kaj Kandler

I never cared for Hotmail, the Microsoft online mail account. I always found it not very user friendly. Hotmail was bought by Miscrosoft in 1997 to compete with the then dominant online mail provider Yahoo! Now, Sabeer Bhatia one of Hotmails founders, has launched an new venture in Online Office document software, called Live-Documents.

Mr. Bhatia is Chairman of Bangalore based, InstaColl and wants to compete with Google, Microsoft, Adobe and many others with a browser based application to create, edit and manage office documents. Documents can be shared with anyone who has an e-mail for notification of changes and edited online in a Adobe Flex based application. Live documents also supports off line work on documents through a plugin for MS Office 2003. The company also plans support for Open Office as well as a Flash based local client program from the company itself. Offline documents are synced back to the central service ASAP. The storage server allows light document management services such as permissions to edit or print a document as well as attaching workflow tasks like review and approval.

The new service is available on an invitation only preview basis. The company plans to offer free service for personal use and business use for a fee.

November

21

by Kaj Kandler

Today I had to read a proud account of Plaxo that its new Plaxo Pulse Web 2.0 networking platform has seen a traffic surge since it announced to offer the OpenSocial API.

My personal experience with Plaxo Stream is rather negative. For several weeks now Thomas Power, Chairman at Ecademy and Owner, Ecademy.com sends to my Plaxo account and my Inbox messages reading:

Thomas Power shared something with the Jon… Network group.

You can view it here: http://pulse.plaxo.com/pulse/events/…/

Thanks!
The Plaxo team

I don’t find this funny in any way. It is plain and simple spam. I don’t know the guy and as a spammer I will certainly not network with him.

Plaxo, fix your spamming issue and while you are at it fix your broken plugin for Thunderbird, which produces duplicates, if you want to do some good for your services.

October

26

by Kaj Kandler

Can 900,000+ users a week be wrong? It appears that nearly a million people download OpenOffice.org since the release of 2.3. Mark Herring, Senior Director, Marketing, StarOffice/OpenOffice.org at Sun Microsystems Inc. reports in details about the uptick in weekly download triggered by the latest release and the publicity of the OOoCon 2007 in Barcelona.

While the numbers are impressive, I think Mark’s speculation of cost for a regular markerting campaign to reach the same results is excessive. I think it is safe to assume that the majority of extra downloads are upgrades by existing users. If this would be a commercial product, one would not need to buy millions of e-mail addresses to reach the existing users. In a traditional proprietary software model, users register their software and with that allow the company to inform them of new releases. So there is no cost of 10c per e-mail to reach the existing user base. And some proprietary products get their users to even download automatically what ever they throw at them. I see this comparison as a bit shaky.

October

23

by Kaj Kandler

While OpenOffice.org Release 2.3 is just out the door, Developers like Carsten Driesner, Liang Weike and the OpenOffice team from RedFlag 2000, prepare new features for Open Office Release 2.4

One feature is the ability to create and store your permanant image list, which can be used to change the icons of the appliction w/o going through the build process. In combination with the OOo extensions I expect this to become the facility for different skins for Open Office.

The other feature mentioned is an enhanced help tip text for the print button in the standard toolbar. The new feature shows the name of the printer in the help tip text, just to remind you where your document will be printed. Sounds rather useful in an office environment, where multiple printers are available.

Liang Weike works for RedFlag 2000 the project that adapts OpenOffice for the Chineese market and helps develop new features as well.

October

12

by Kaj Kandler

… unless they can get it for free.

A marketing study at the Univeristy of Arizona asks the question what makes students pay for office suite software and are free open source alternatives like Open Office an alternative to pirated copies of the market leading MS Office?

The research looked at how much students would be willing to pay for a legal copy if the consequences woudl be the two choices. It turns out that $98 is the media price students were willing to pay to own a legal license. And that registration was a wee more effective than the publication that the software is not registered with every document that is produced and shared with others.

Interestingly, a group of students that was educated of the free open source alternative Open Office did not show less incline to pay for the MS Office suite. The researchers conclude that stability of the product and logevity of the maker are more important than the price to pay. Also an important factor is the convenience of using an application that is already familiar and does not come with the pain of re-training.

* The article cited mentions in the introduction: “Microsoft Office suite claims an impressive 95 percent market share.” Benjamin Horst an Open Office dvocate from NY, pointed out in a discussion about this article that market share numbers are often misleading in the context of free software. Because, market sizes are measured in annual revenue spend for a particular product. However, free products do not generate any revenue, so the basis for comparison is off. By Horst’s estimation, Microsoft claims 400 Million Office installations, and OpenOffibe.org claims 100 Million. Ignoring the rest of the competition, he estimates a 20% market share for Open Office.

October

02

by Kaj Kandler

While it emerges slowly that Lotus Symphony, a distribution of OpenOffice is meant to be a beta software and based on three+ year old code, Mathew Newton at PCWorld finds hope in the fact that the IBM engineers did manage to overhaul successfully the user interface and make OpenOffice a copy of Office 2003 rather than Office 97.

I’m not sure if this is the kind of achievemnt I’m looking for? I’d rather have serious functional improvements, stability and performance, than just a nother copy of some proprietary user interface. Not that I wouldn’t welcome a better user interface for OpenOffice.org or even one that is less riddled with bugs. But coming out with an unstable beta of an outdated application with an user interface copied from a program that is about to be replaced with a new version is not the kind of thing I’d celebrate. Especially if the more modern user interface is the main selling point and the version update of the product that has been copied is mostly about the user interface.

September

19

by Kaj Kandler

Matt Asay asks the question “What to do when open source is not good enough?” in his CNET blog.

He argues that he sometimes encounters cases where his choice of open source software does not fulfill his desired feature set and so he resorts to proprietary, closed source, binary only applications. For example, Asay switches from Adium to iChat when he needs video chat capability and from OpenOffice.org Impress to MS PowerPoint, when he needs video embedding. He concludes it is o.k. to use binary only applications in these cases and I would not disagree.

However, I’m not quite sure if Asay asks the right question or answers the question he asks.

Open Source is there so you can improve on the software you got, as opposed to a binary license that does prevent you from even pin pointing (debugging) a problem. The core freedom of open source is being able to add/modify/fix what is “your itch”. That the software is it also “free as in beer” is more of a side effect.

The better answer to Asay’s question is “If open source is not good enough, then improve it.” Sure not everybody is a programmer, but everybody can hire someone to do the job.

That is where it becomes clear that the “free as in beer” is only for making a copy of the software. If you really want to get the best out of it and solve your specific issue, then you have to invest like in anything else. You don’t even have to share (publish) the fruits of your investment. Only when you want to give it to someone else (for money or for free) you have to give that person the same rights you got (under the GPL at least).

So now it is your decision if you want to invest your money/talent/time into proprietary software that does not give you these freedoms or in open source that does. I’m not saying OSS is the only solution, but I’m saying it is equivalent to closed source and even better in some cases.

Ask yourself how would you answer the question “What to do when closed source software is not good enough?” I’ll think you’ll come to the same answer, use a competing application that does do what you want. Now in case of proprietary binary only software, you are at the mercy of “the market.” If you can’t find the app with the features you need, you are out of options and have to start from scratch to build the software you need. In case of open source you can take the package that comes the closest to your needs and add/modify/fix.

It’s all about options, you choose yours.

September

14

by Kaj Kandler

Really, what would Dan Heintzman, the director of strategy at Lotus, say about IBM joining the OpenOffice.org community? Andy Undergrove wondered too and interviewed Dan Heintzman from Lotus. Dan makes some interesting points, including:

  • IBM hopes to signal its commitment to ODF and the OpenOffice.org to IT managers that are not sure how long this technology will last. he mentions the $1 Billion invetment tha tIBM announced for Linux way back. However, I must have missed an announcement that impressive or any direct number at all.
  • He acknowledges that there have been tensions between Sun Microsystems and IBM over community governance and that IBM’s announcement means IBM will help to make change in the governance structure of the OpenOffice community happen.
  • Dan’s vision of a document is a container that brings elements toghether, but retains their source. It is more a collage of text, graphics, data then the coherent print form we often think of. He thinks ODF is a viable platform to start this transformation.
  • Dan dodges the speculation if IBM would add an e-mail/calendar program to the Open Office suite.

September

11

by Kaj Kandler

Today I visited the Sun Tech Days Boston for day number one. Sun Microsystems put on a big program at the downtown Sheraton hotel with three major tracks:

  • NetBeans and various Java related technologies
  • OpenSolaris and its community
  • University a cross section for students, introductions to almost every Sun developer technology

I peaked in to the introductions for OpenSolaris. What I and a moderate crowd listened too was core developers who focused on the developing community of OpenSolaris and how it becomes more than Sun employees developing with everybody else watching. In many ways OpenSolaris does catch up with many other *nix like OS distribution. The word “modernize” was used often in describing the efforts to create new installers,
updated shells, new packaging system, more drivers, etc. OpenSolaris really seams to be a train picking up steam.

I was surprised, how undecided the road map was for the various projects and initiatives. It often was unclear when a certain feature would arrive in which release of OpenSolaris or Solaris the commercial distribution of Sun Microsystems. As an engineer I like things to be finished and done right, instead of rushed to meet a deadline. But from the business perspective, it is not a good thing, that many processes, and I mean decision processes, are not yet decided on. I’m well familiar with such mixed messages from the OpenOffice/StarOffice project, I’m more involved with. If I would meet Jonathan Schwartz, the CEO of Sun Microsystems, I’d let him know that Sun’s positioning of the commercial Sun products versus the open source products is not clear and that it is hurting Sun.

Back to the Java track, where I peaked into sessions about Ajax frameworks and upcoming Swing technologies. It appears Sun does not take sides with the various Ajax frameworks, other than trying to support them all in NetBeans. NetBeans 6.0 impressed me with its ability to not just syntax color and code assist but also to have many wizards that generate code for your from a few questions. This was especially apparent in the session about Swing Application Framework and Java Beans Binding. NetBeans supports these brand new frameworks with code generation that can rival Ruby on Rails scaffolding, although for pure Java apps.

Speaking of Ruby on Rails, or better Jruby on Rails. This session was rather disappointing, as the speaker was jsut a few days into Ruby and Rails and basically did talk about her own excitement about a dynamic language and the impressive meta programming Rails style. I would have hoped for more hard facts on how JRuby does vs native Ruby and what the challenges are and how they are overcome.

As you can see it was a busy day, and the program only started in the afternoon. I look forward to tomorrow.