iPod Transpod

Kim gave me one of
these transpod iPod FM/charger combos for Christmas, and I’ve been loving it. I’ve been struggling with an older Griffen iTrip for a year or so: tuning it was sucky, and it’d drain the battery quickly. So, you can imagine that I’m loving the transpod: it’s easy to switch around to different frequencies and it powers/charges the ipod while you drive around.

The JC has one and says it doesn’t work as well as he’d like in the Austin area, but so far it’s worked good enough for me. Sure, it’s not as perfect a sound as a CD or even a high-powered FM station: there’s a subtle staticy sound from time-to-time. But, I have low standards: dancing bears delight me to no end.

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Retail Fantasies

They had by now, according to their sign, sold the same burger fifty billion times. He wondered if it was to the same person. Life in Anaheim, California, was commercial for itself, endlessly replayed. Nothing changed; it just spread out farther and farther in the form of neon ooze. What there was always more of had been congealed into permanence long ago, as if the automatic factory that cranked out these objects had jammed in the on position. How the land had become plastic, he thought, remembering the fairy tale “How the Sea Became Salt.” Someday, he thought, it’ll be mandatory that we all sell the McDonald’s hamburger as well as buy it; we’ll sell it back ad forth to each other forever from our living rooms. That way we won’t even have to go outside.
A Scanner Darkly

Is it Time for Disruption in Systems Management?

When will the time come when someone will offer systems management for $30-100 a month? There’ll be a website you go to, sign up for an account, enter your credit card number, and download a simple agent to install on your network. Then, you’ll just log into the site to check up on things. As needed, you’ll download more pieces of software — e.g., for receiving SNMP traps and other things that won’t fly over the Internet unencrypted.

That is, instead of being huge, “enterprise software” platforms, systems management will be as easy as downloading my favorite SaaS thick-app/website combo, the flickr uploadr and drag-and-dropping stuff on it with a few key-strokes and clickity-clicks. You’ll have to go to the central website, and you won’t control all the precious data. It’ll go down sometimes, and you’ll be totally lost for a day or two.

But you know what? Even $100 x 12 months is just $1,200. Compare that to the thousands, hundreds of thousands, and even millions you’d spend on traditional systems management software.

The last hurdle for systems management SaaS is a collective shift in the domain’s mind-set, for both the customers and the vendors: customer fear loosing control, and while vendors have the technology to deliver the systems management as a service, they need to go ahead from their customers before they’ll make such a dramatic switch, taking an equally big risk.

Of course, this is the nut of Christensen disruption, which, by definition, bodes ill for the incumbents.

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[DrunkAndRetired.com Podcast] Episode 33c – What Sucks about Ruby on Rails, part 3

In this episode, we respond to a recent comment in regards
to episode 09
, where we proclaimed that Ruby on Rails wasn’t
the holy grail of programming (but sure is nice).

The first part of the discussion is in episode 33b.

Since we’ve been gone for a few weeks, this week we’re brining you
three diferent episodes, so look for 33a and 33b!

This episode edited by Charles.

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[DrunkAndRetired.com Podcast] Episode 33b – What Sucks about Ruby on Rails, part 2

In this episode, we respond to a recent comment in regards
to episode 09
, where we proclaimed that Ruby on Rails wasn’t
the holy grail of programming (but sure is nice).

The discussion continuies in part episode 33c.

Since we’ve been gone for a few weeks, this week we’re brining you
three diferent episodes, so look for 33a and 33c!

This episode edited by Charles.

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Put the Outlook Killer in Eclipse

Steve O’Grady pointed out that the importance of Outlook as the center of most info-workers day-life gives Outlook a strong position in the “messaging” market. (“Messaging” always seemed liked a silly term. “Email” would be more clear and concise. But, who am I to pull the abstractionist buzz-word crafters down from the ceiling?)

Or, put another way: there’s little chance that Workplace/Notes (I’m not too clear on the distinction between the two at this level of discussion) is going to beat Outlook for email eyeballs and dollars. Everyone uses the Outlook.

Closed Protocols Are a Dead-End

One of the great suggestions he makes is that Workplace/Notes should be a normal email client: one that can pull email from POP and IMAP, instead of requiring the Workplace back-end as an email server. Furthermore, this POP/IMAP enabled client could be given away for (near) free as a standalone email client.

And thus, you’d have a go at the viral spread of a new email client: given that (a.) it’s s better than (in usability, price, maintenance, or all 3) Outlook, and, (b.) as I’ve mentioned before, works well with Exchange/Outlook, you’d get, (c.) despite the slow turn-over of corporate IT, the actual end-users may decide that it’s time to dump Microsoft for IBM by voting with their email clients.

Getting the Vanguard

Now, as Steve points out, email clients aren’t quite sexy enough to rely on your bread-and-butter white-collar to get all excited about switching: Outlook is just fine for them, they’re not going to get all into the feature differentiation of clients like folks will over IM (though, that’s another segment of the “messaging” market that’s easily disrupted if you can figure out the best whiz for your bang; so far, no whiz’ers).

With all that lay-up, here’s the punch-line: my idea for getting that early majority is to make Workplace/Notes into an Eclipse “plugin” that the legions of Eclipse Java developers can install and start using:

  • Many, many, many Java developers use Eclipse: Forrester put the number around 75% of all Java developers. So, Eclipse has a huge install base.
  • Most Java developers (the legions of coders left over after the Ruby Exodus) work in shops that use Exchange/Outlook.
  • Java coders don’t have much brand-loyalty to Microsoft. They have even less care about Outlook. That is, they’re easy targets for switching.
  • Given all this, if there was an Eclipse plugin for reading Email that worked just as well as Outlook for email and calendaring, IBM would seem to have a pretty good contender for an Outlook killer. Us programmers love “living in” our IDE’s, so we’re already down with the idea of jamming more functionality and screen time into our tools.

That is, while there’s certainly power in using the Eclipse platform to build an email client, I think there’s a better chance for rapid success by putting an email client into Eclipse.

Of course, once you win over the Java folks, you have to move through the rest of the curve…see vital, penultimate step in the list below.

Putting More Blood Into the Stone

And once Outlook is taken over, it’s a case of kill the head and the body will die: the Exchange servers that is. Just imagine how many millions there are in Exchange and Outlook licenses. If IBM got just 5-10% of that, they’d get themselves some good revenue; compare Firefox’s rapid, but still small share of the browser market and how much everyone freaks out (in a good way) about that small amount vs. IE.

Even better with all that room to grow, they’d have some easy growth points on their hands to pump into their quarterly numbers. That is, once you’ve saturated the market for a given product, it’s hard to grow it, and if you can’t grow it, you can’t feed your shareholder’s insatiable hunger for growth, and that lot starts looking for something different, dumping the growth-stymied party at the curb. It’s the more blood from the stone problem.

Of course, at a place as big as IBM, it may just be a blip, but it’d be a high-profile blip.

The Plan

So, here’s the plan:

  • Make Workplace/Notes work with POP/IMAP…if it doesn’t already.
  • Make Workplace/Notes work perfectly (90-95% so) with Exchange, esp. with calendaring, i.e., scheduling and accepting invites to meetings…if it doesn’t already.
  • Create a Eclipse plugin that wraps up all of the above.
  • Give the plugin to the Eclipse Java Community.
  • ???
  • Profit!

I, for one, would welcome my new messaging overlord.

Update: for some reason, this post gets a shit-load of SPAM comments. So, I’ve closed down comments. Feel free to email me if you want to talk about it.

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Eclipse Usage

I was curious what the numbers are for Eclipse usage. Here’s some stuff I found:

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