The other day a friend and I were discussing which was better to own: a toaster or a toaster oven. Toasters, being specialized appliances, tend to do a really good job at making toast. Toaster ovens however, sometimes fall short. But when it comes to practicality, the toaster oven is perfect for a multitude of tasks. In the end there is really no debate, as the only answer is simply to have one of each. While that may seem a bit overkill to some, it certainly isn't if the appliance you choose is more oven than toaster.
Over the past few months, Sony Japan has been marketing its Walkman brand of MP3 players with short, online videos showcasing experimental Japanese musicians. Personally, as someone who loves weird music, I think these video shorts are amazing. I'm not sure if they do anything to make me want to buy a Walkman, but I'm certainly convinced that the Japanese experimental music scene is alive and well.
A few years ago, this wouldn't have happened. It would have been unthinkable, too terrible even to imagine. No, a few years ago, I never would have missed the season premiere of Lost.
So imagine my surprise when my boyfriend and I were minding our own business, watching our previously recorded Top Chef two nights ago, when, during a commercial break we were barreling through in fast forward, I happened to catch the words "Lost returns tonight." Stop. Rewind. What?
We backed up to the beginning of the ad, and sure enough, Bravo HD was proclaiming that Lost had returned a few hours before!
Had we set it to record? No. Had we even known it was coming back this week? No! We don't watch ads anymore. Ever. But without them, we are apparently living in a dark age so backwards it's as though TV Guide hasn't been invented yet. Now my grandpa is more informed than I am about television culture.
If we didn't have a DVR, we surely would have known, because I bet Lost ads have dominated the airwaves for the past few months. Lost isn't a show to announce itself softly: it usually has weeks of setup, marathons of previous seasons, call-in shows, etc. If we didn't have the ability to fast forward through that dreck, we would have known to be home, in front of the TV, at 8 p.m. on Wednesday. Sure, we would also have been brain-washed by a desire for a Snuggie and Wendy's new chicken sandwich, but information comes at a cost. As Tina Fey would say, "a doy." … Read more
The fact that the Los Angeles Raiders humiliated the Washington Redskins in a 38-to-9 victory is a mere afterthought. Super Bowl XVIII's lasting legacy has been a single advertisement sandwiched somewhere in the third quarter: Apple Computer's iconic "1984" commercial.
It began, in a clear nod to George Orwell's novel of the same name, with tense strains of music, the image of figures marching through a tube across a dank industrial complex, and the start of a bizarre monologue: "Today we celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives."
Directed by … Read more
BusinessWeek is asking an important question of open-source companies: despite the rapid growth of some open-source businesses (e.g., Red Hat, Novell Suse, Alfresco, SugarCRM, and others), it's still very much an open question as to whether open source can deliver outsized returns for investors."A pure service business is not particularly defensible," says [Red Hat CEO Jim] Whitehurst. "Some open-source companies have not truly figured that out." If the open-source movement, now in its second decade, is to realize its promise for vendors and investors, more of its purveyors will need to get the message soon.
Savio Rodrigues of IBM has been beating this drum for some time, suggesting that pure open-source business models have a built-in glass ceiling. While I think this is a bit overstated, I 100 percent concur that any business must figure out a "proprietary" differentiator that tells a customer, "This is why you buy from me rather than my competitor, and rather than taking it from me for free."
Support, as Jim Whitehurst suggests, is not a compelling enough argument for most would-be buyers.
This is why I've argued for a phased approach to open source. It's inefficient to try to "reap" every prospective customer in the early stages of a business: making the code open source lets a company sow a wide field of prospective buyers.
But it's also inefficient to rely on faith and goodwill to reap customers later in a company's growth and revenue trajectory. There must be a compelling reason to buy. This is where many in the open-source world lose their way. But what should that reason be? That is the nettlesome question.… Read more
The WhiteKnightTwo high-altitude aircraft carrier that will be used to launch a spaceship of Virgin Galactic passengers was unveiled Monday in Mojave, Calif.
The new spaceship carrier and launcher has been named Virgin Mothership Eve, after Richard Branson's own mother, Eve Branson.
The aircraft will be used to carry the SpaceShipTwo passenger plane to Earth's upper atmosphere. It's capable of climbing up to 50,000 feet.
In January the public was shown a small model and CGI images of what the WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo might look like, but this is the first time the actual carrier itself … Read more
When I was growing up, the closest thing we had to artificial intelligence was something called 2-XL (if you're younger than 30, you probably have no idea what I'm talking about). We've always had trivia games--what made this one interesting, especially to a generation that's just seen Star Wars, was that these trivia questions were asked by a plastic robot.
In 1978, when I got my hands on 2-XL, I was ecstatic. It was the it toy back then. 2-XL was a trivia robot created by Michael J. Freeman, an inventor with an interest to educate … Read more
As I'm occasionally reminded, MySQL didn't start out as open source. In fact, MySQL's original license was very similar to what it is trying to achieve today: Free for noncommercial use, but not-so-free for commercial use. It didn't decide to go open source (GPL) until 1999.
So for those of us that get caught up in MySQL's decision to keep some extensions closed to paid subscribers, perhaps a refresher course in MySQL history will make it seem a bit less shocking. (Also be sure to check out the early 2001 brouhaha over trademark violations surrounding MySQL.org. Fascinating stuff.)
With that said, there's an ongoing tension between commercialization and adoption that MySQL (and all commercial open-source projects) have to manage. As a friend noted in an email to me yesterday:Remember that Monty [co-founder of MySQL] chose to go open source only after the world totally ignored his work. There is a real value that goes along with being open source that lends itself well to adoption. If you have to pay, then that will deter adoption of immature products in ways that it won't with free products.
His take on Monty's reasoning is a bit strong, and I don't agree that MySQL had been ignored, but still he has a point: Open sourcing one's code can lead to far greater adoption in a short period of time than proprietary source.
The question, however, remains for all open-source projects: Is it fair or productive to close off the code after open source has made it popular?… Read more
Is proprietary software really that bad? Or is it a fair contract between consulting corporations? The answer is "It depends" and "Not really." Both depend on the strictures a vendor puts in place to inhibit its ability to lock a customer into its software. In MySQL's case, MySQL has no intention to lock customers in, as far as I can tell. It just wants to convince customers to pay so that it can prove its worth.
MySQL is contemplating introducing extensions to its core database that are only available to paid subscribers, for compelling reasons. This is not, as has been suggested, in and of itself proprietary. Red Hat does the same by providing an initial gate to its RHEL code which only a paid subscriber can access unless they get it from an existing customer of Red Hat's.
The question is not the open-source legitimacy of an otherwise open-source binary wrapped in a closed contract. This is simply a way of preventing services (like the Red Hat-provided compilation of that binary from source code) from free redistribution.
The question is one of redistribution of binaries.
There are actually ways to do this that let MySQL balance open source with closed permissions. I've drafted language for a license grant below that I think does this. It's not open source, but might be a way to balance its need for more cash growth with continued emphasis on community growth.… Read more