links for 2009-03-31

Cramming unnecessary features is not innovative

I’ve been waiting for many years for a cheap all-in-one desktop computer, something like an iMac that would look good in a home office without carrying the Apple-tax of an operating system I don’t like and the premium price of the Mac cult.

That’s why I’m speechless looking at the Asus Eee Top: touchscreen and only 15″ monitor?  Why? And most of all, who decided that people want to touch their monitors? Sure, we all have computer monitors full of fingerprints but everybody I know hates to notice them. Do Asus designers think that we’ll like to watch our movies and pictures from the distance of an arm and on a monitor full of nasty firngerprints? I’m not going to. In fact, Apple added a remote control to its iMac, not a touchscreen: you can enjoy your multimedia content from the distance, laying back on the chair or from the couch and without stressing your upper shoulder.

ergonomics of a touchscreen monitor
Doesn’t look comfortable, does it?

With these desktops Asus managment is missing another opportunity after failing the netbook disruption. On the Eee series they started well with a very innovative low tech yet effective model, but then they started cramming hardware features in it resulting in higher prices.  HP and Acer had to go on that segment, because it was getting too close to their market and now Asus has a tougher competition. If Asus focused on the software experience (like prof. Fuggetta keeps saying), with GNU/Linux and ‘cloud based’ services they would have done a better job for their investors. They would have also got rid of Microsoft, since Vista is such a failure.

L’onorevole Carlucci non mi preoccupa

Mi è piaciuto molto il trasporto e la passione di Riccardo Luna, caporedattore di Wired Italia, presentando il progetto Amo Internet. È un luogo che

riassume le idee e le posizioni di un gruppo di persone, professionisti, appassionati, cittadini che ritengono che Internet e l’innovazione in generale facciano parte del futuro dell’Italia.

Con l’aria’  che tira nella società  italiana è encomiabile che una testata con tanta credibilità  si spenda a favore di un’interpretazione positiva di Internet, delle nuove tecnologie in particolare.’  In Italia si sta parlando molto nei circoli online delle nuove leggi, emendamenti, proposte dei nostri parlamentari e tutti sembrano molto preoccupati. Io no, non mi preoccupo della proposta dell’onorevole showgirl Carlucci, dell’emendamento D’Alia e di tutte le altre panzane che sparano i piccoli parlamentari italici in cerca dei riflettori di Vespa. Sono stupidaggini inapplicabili. Sono parenti strette del divieto di portare a spasso i cani con guinzagli a molla o l’obbligo di raccoglierne gli escrementi.’  Come sono coperti di merda i marciapiedi d’Italia, così resteranno lettera morta le sciocchezze delle showgirl incompetenti. Dice giustamente Riccardo Luna

Battere la mafia è molto più difficile, forse per questo la politica si accontenta di battere Facebook. O youTube.

Ecco, io sono preoccupato a monte: mi rattrista l’inapplicabilità  delle leggi esistenti in questo paese. Sapere di non poter riscuotere un credito dovuto, se non dopo una causa civile di almeno due anni è davvero triste. I tribunali scoppiano di cose serie, volete che mi preoccupi di una legge italiana che cancella l’anonimato su Internet? Mi viene da ridere.

SCRUM and volunteer developers

SCRUM development process
SCRUM development process

Funambol engineering team uses the SCRUM methodology to develop software. It’s a very interesting method that seems highly compatible with free/libre open source software development habits. It mandates fast release cycles (like the release early/release often mantra), teams that can self-organize. SCRUM also mandates fixed time (2 to 6 weeks) to complete a development cycle (called iteration or sprint). This last part doesn’t seem to be very compatible with contributions by volunteers.

I’ve been looking for other free software projects that use SCRUM internally to understand how they involve external contributors, volunteers, in strictly time constrained release cycles. Pentaho wiki has a very interesting paper on the topic, but I still don’t understand if they have established a process to assign user stories to volunteer contributors.

I wonder if some have tried and failed or nobody has ever tried this at all.

Will Nokia become FLOSS best friend?

Google’s power is making more people concerned that their motto ‘do no evil’ is not reassuring enough. Fabrizio Capobianco’s blog post summarizes the concerns of the Winston Smith Project. Google is scary because it controls the access point to the internet for 90% of users and because it’s expanding its reach to the mobile network. But G is not the only one trying to blend the separation between your desktop computer and your cell phone: it just happen to be a very visible one. Look at the chart on Funambol’s white paper on mobile sync opportunities and strategies: everybody is doing the same.

Mobile sync opportunities

Microsoft is not less scary, because with its monopoly on the desktop computers it controls the users’ applications and data. Extending their power from the desktop to the mobile environment is within their reach: after all, they succeeded expanding from the desktop to the server. They can do it again, if they play it right. Apple controls and has access to data for millions of desktop+mobile users: maybe MobileMe is not yet widely used but nonetheless the closed and proprietary nature of all Apple things and the quantity of iTunes+iPod users makes them scary enough.

Nokia is peculiar: it has a huge market share on mobile phones, but its Ovi services don’t have a strong companion on the desktop. With all the other operating systems controlled by competitors, Nokia could start collaborating more with the free software community to better integrate Ovi with Gnome or KDE for example. I think it would be a wise move since there are many GNU/Linux desktops out there, and more will come during 2009.’  Will Nokia become the next Free Software community Best Friend Forever, now that Google has become scary?

New Maemo UI and new Funambol Code Sniper

funambol-maemoNokia has shown the new UI framework for the next Maemo SDK, codename Freemantle. They finally are getting rid of the stylus keyboard and a lot of very cool new features. Ars published an overview and more up to date details. I’m a fan of the N8xx devices but I’m still waiting for devices with phone capabilities. Speaking of which, I think it’s time for a Funambol client to also run on Maemo. There is already Syncevolution, a powerful syncml client compatible with Funambol, but it’s missing a GUI. Funambol can offer $750 to develop a full graphic user interface for Syncevolution to run on the stable Maemo 4 or on the new Maemo 5. Do you know somebody interested in developing on Maemo? Go to the Funambol Code Sniper community for the details.

It’s (a)live: new Funambol Forge layout

After a lot of effort to develop a new and improved home page, we can finally say:

Thanks to Alessandra for the new graphic layout and Davide for some crucial css workaround, the home page of the Funambol Forge is now more informative and rich. Directly from the home page you can see reach not just the community pages but also the search box and latest Funambol news. In addition, you can see the latest messages posted to the most active mailing lists of the Forge, the latest twits about Funambol and latest messages from Funambol blogs. Enjoy the new site (and the new Funambol version 7.1).