Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Using Windows is just like Leopard

by alec on November 6, 2007

Dave Winer doesn't like Leopard, the new Mac OS.  He, and some of his friends think it's too much like Windows.  

Talking with a friend a few days ago, he asked what I thought of Leopard. He had installed the new version, like me, the first day it came out. "I'm not liking it," I said. He said something that was simple, profound and revealing: "It's like Windows." It is. It's that unpleasant to use. It disappears for long periods of time. Systems that didn't used to crash now crash regularly. On one system three hard disks were rendered unusable, and I lost a couple of full days restoring them (luckily I had good backups). The user interface is quirky. The new networking interface is a big step backward. The firewall moved and lost features! That's simply never done, you don't charge customers to remove features, esp security features. I think Apple doesn't understand how many people depend seriously on their Macs. 

It was a while ago, but I used a Mac for a few days once.  You know what?  I agreed with Dave.  Using a Mac was just like Windows… but different enough to be frustrating.  There didn't seem to me to be a huge advantage for what I needed to do, so I decided to invest my time and energy into something productive instead.

Leopard is just like Windows… or is that the other way around?  Is anyone surprised? 

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Getting all warm and Googley over open source

by alec on November 6, 2007

Alright… what's with Google getting all warm and fuzzy and open source-y on us all in the last week?  First it was Open Social, the open source social networking initiative, and now it's the Open Handset Alliance and the new Android platform for mobile phones.  Eric Schmidt is beginning to sound a whole bunch like Scott McNealy or Linus Torvalds, doncha think?

There are two kinds of open source companies, kids. 

There are companies that see open source as an article of faith.  Think of Red Hat, or Digium, to use two very well known examples.  Each of these companies are strong proponents of the open source model, and open source everything they do.  They're religious about open source. 

At the other end of the spectrum are companies that are strategic open sourcers.  For them, open source is a tool.  They use it in their own products to reduce their costs.  They open source bits of their own code in order to cultivate a developer community. 

Strategic open sourcers are always the second and third place players — the also-rans.  Fundamentally they believe in the value of their IP, and wouldn't willing give it away unless forced to. But they don't have the momentum to take out the incumbent. So they open source when it's clear that price or control are an issue in the industry.

Google is a strategic open sourcer.  The Open Handset Alliance is a play to take on Microsoft, RIM and Symbian.  Open Social is about trying to rally the industry to slow down Facebook's momentum and the inevitable loss of ad revenue to Microsoft.  Throw a little chum in the water, goes the reasoning, and perhaps we'll get some sharks to bite.

From where I sit, Open Social looks still born — a functionally light widget interface that all the players will drop as soon as it becomes clear it's not adding value.  The Open Handset Alliance, on the other hand, might have some depth.  It's too early to tell.

And if anyone at Google tries to tell you they've got the open source religion, ask them when we're going to be able to get our hands on the source to the search engine itself.  Oh yeah… forget it, it contains the search engine equivalent of the Colonel's 11 herbs and spices, page rank — and a deeply guarded trade secret. 

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