At O’Reilly we’ve been keeping a close eye on the paradigm shift that’s occurring in the computer industry and the (positive) impact its having on open source programming languages such as Python. The computing landscape has been transformed over the course of the last decade from one focused on the PC to a new web-based model where many of the new killer applications run on the LAMP (Linux-Apache-MySQL-Perl/PHP/Python) platform. In the new paradigm applications are continually updated as new data becomes available and dynamic languages like Python are an essential key to this shift.
But even non-programmers like me know Python is good for a whole heck of a lot more than web programming. It’s a highly adaptable (and scalable), full-featured, object-oriented programming language that’s suitable for a wide variety of jobs. Its stable and mature, has large and powerful standard libraries, and integrates extremely well with C, C++, or Java code, and COM objects. The future looks bright for Python and its with great delight that I’m finally posting this booklet of Python Success Stories. In the coming weeks we’ll be featuring each story from this booklet to put the spotlight on these companies that are using Python, and to further illustrate the power of Python. When you consider the wide range and scope of these projects, it’s easy to see why Python is so much more than just a scripting language.
Special thanks for this collection must go to Stephan Deibel, the man behind Pythonology. Stephan collected, housed, and beautifully edited all of the stories included in this booklet, and he continues to post new success stories as they’re submitted. Stephan also worked to secure the bonus introduction material from Alex Martelli and Guido van Rossum. All we had to do was print and publish the stories. Which is a pleasure!
In the land of the DMCA, a “good faith belief” of infringement makes
it possible to hijack a Web site without investigation.
This decision seems to have thrown a large chunk of the Internet into
a virtual Guantanamo Bay.
What they’re referring to is the thuggish behavior of the U.S.
government in arresting people on flimsy pretexts and holding them
without trial. While the copyright holders do not yet have the same right to act for indefinite periods of time with no chance of appeal, this ruling would let them take down
sites on a whim–backed up by criminal penalties.
The article does not explain, however, that victims have legal
recourse. The organization claiming copyright infringement
has to follow up with proof that there really is infringement within a
couple weeks, as I explained four years ago in my article
explaining the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA.
While innocent Web sites are sure to experience more abuses if this
ruling stands, I feel even sorrier for the ISPs and other
organizations that manage web sites, including colleges. They’re stuck
in the middle, forced by law to follow unreasonable demands from
content holders, but legally liable for false reports.
In a much-publicised decision, the city of Munich Germany decided yesterday to use Linux on 14.000 PCs instead of Windows. The value of the lost contract for Microsoft is around 30 million Euros. Peanuts to them. However the decision by the city not to go for Windows may also be a turning point for Linux here. Microsoft’s German headquarters is in Munich and Steve Ballmer interrupted his Swiss vacation to personally try to convince the city to stick with Windows.
In related news this week, the city of Frankfurt decided to stick with Windows and not go for Linux.
While companies like IBM and SuSE are celebrating the victory in Munich, it seems interesting that there seems to be little talk (actually I haven’t read anything on this) of just which applications all the city employees are actually going to use. Apart from the normal office-type programs there are also specific ones that will have to be ported or rewritten. Will these be open source too?
As we were working with Karim Yaghmour at O’Reilly on his book Building Embedded Linux Systems,
I noted with some anxiety that companies selling embedded Linux tools
and distributions were dropping like flies. I pointed out in a weblog
on last January’s LinuxWorld that the organizers who planned a special
embedded Linux pavilion and then dropped it, apparently because there
weren’t enough companies to set up booths.
Karim assured me that embedded Linux is indeed growing, taking root,
and increasingly becoming the developer’s choice for 32-bit systems.
The key to understanding the phenomemon, he said, was that people are
downloading Linux and the tools on their own, and building their own
systems. They don’t feel they need specialized vendors.
And now a survey by LinuxDevices.com backs Karim’s analysis. What they
call “home-grown” embedded Linux systems are already a large
percentage of all embedded Linux solutions, and are soon to overtake
any single commercial distribution. If you add in downloadable,
generic commercial distributions (Red Hat, Debian, etc.) the
percentage is enormous.
The survey suggests to me that the way for companies to make a buck in
the embedded Linux space is to offer support (yes, I know that idea
has been argued back and forth in the free software community for
years) rather than software.
It is also interesting that Linux is popular among embedded developers
less for its technical features as for the amenities that accompany
it: good tools (hurray GNU), device drivers, and documentation. This
question on the survey did not mention cost or license issues, but
Linux’s advantages there seem valuable too. I base this conclusion
another question about what developers are willing to pay for (they
want to avoid per-unit royalties).
Before air conditioning, as the sun set in the summer, you would sit on your
porch and wait for the house to cool. Everybody would be outside and you would
automatically have more interactions with your neighbors than today. With the
advent of cheap air conditioning and television that habit changed.
similar change is happening as a result of ubiquitous internet access. Breakfast
at conferences is often a place for surprise encounters with fellow participants.
Casual talk about previous and upcoming sessions is common (except of course
for those who, not yet in the mood for conversation, hide behind a newspaper).
At the O’Reilly Emerging
Technology Conference a few weeks ago wireless internet access was available
everywhere. That completely changed the breakfast scenery. Circles of laptops
formed on every table and people were united by the need for power from extension
cords. Across the table were colleagues wolfing down bagels and coffee while
weeding through their email and newsreader. For most people the electronic space
was a bigger attention grabber than a casual encounter at the breakfast table.
This is, of course, only the beginning. Through some strange coincidence I
was sitting at the lunch table with Jeff Bezos. (This sounds, unintentionally,
like name dropping; sorry.) Here is my point: someone to his right pitched an
idea to him and at least twice during the conversation he checked his Blackberry
and quickly answered some emails. This was probably to ensure his new space
Origin is on track :-)
I admit that I love to call people and chat while folding my freshly washed
clothes. What concerns me is that this semi-attention affects more and more
of our daily interactions. We get so many emails that we barely have time to
scan them. If you want to announce something under the radar screen, put it
in the third paragraph of your email and it will sail through unnoticed. Later
you can write: "But I told you that I am going to be on vacation that week.
Here is the email to prove it."
When was the last time that someone really zoomed into you? Was listening not
only to what you where saying, but also was tuned into your current mood and
all the things that remained unspoken? These people develop a deeper undestanding,
live a richer life. Troy Gardner, a friend of mine, writes in his email signature: How you live your seconds, is how you live your days, is how you live your
life… How true.
If you want to get really good at recoginizing peoples emotions check out Paul Ekman’s new book: Emotions Revealed:
Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life. For over 40 years he has done extensive crossculturual studies of facial
expressions. Malcolm Gladwell of The
Tipping Point fame wrote an execelent article for the
New Yorker about him and his work.
Attention is one of the greatest gifts that you can give to another person.
Give it fully and freely.
P.S. And remind me of my words if I don’t :-)
Something interesting happened today. Actually it almost had to happen, but I digress.
A couple of weeks ago I gave a talk at Jax in Frankfurt titled “Penguins are human too”, based in part on this and this. In the talk I focus on explaining what open source is - and is not. In addition, I describe things like open source communities and go into detail on the mistakes you can make when you get involved in open source as a commercial entity (we made them :-)). The talk was well received and there were some interesting discussions at the end.
It’s hard to explain, but there is an open source “buzz” happening here in central Europe - and the buzz is starting to become noticeable.
Until around the end of last year, open source was not really mainstream when it came to things like building say middleware applications out of open source components. But - around the beginning of this year, things started to change. Open source based solutions are becoming more and more popular and it is the small, open source involved companies that are profiting.
And now things get interesting.
Today I received a phone call from a rather large European “systems integrator” who had stumbled across our open source “expertise” while visiting with one of his major customers.
Now it seems that several customers have been asking for open source competence and so, because this large systems integrator now realizes that maybe the tables are turning, they want to get up to speed on open source.
An interesting development when I think back to say last year when our open source efforts often just laughed at by the “big ones”.
This also leads me to point to the BOF, Steve Mallet and I are doing at OSCON. I will be focussing on some points from “Penguins” and Steve will be giving the open source low-down. With lots of discussions - hopefully.
Eric is trying to drum up evidence related to SCO’s claims against Linux. He won’t say exactly what he’s up to, but if you read his insightful analysis of SCO -v- IBM, then you can likely get an idea of what he’s working on.
Do you part to make sure that Linux remains free of intellectual property claims. Check out the details of what he’s looking for here.
How do industries typically resolve a situation where multiple vendors are dealing with multiple suppliers? How does the industry facilitate new entrants and provide satisfactory flexibility? By telling everybody to settle on proven standards, if possible. And it is indeed possible in the ebook industry, where an enormous range of publishers want to provide online documents that operate on any device chosen by the user.
Right now, the ebook industry is notoriously mired in a swamp of unappealing and incompatible solutions. A continuation of this trend will at best mean that publishers and users alike are trapped in questionable technologies that unnecessarily restrict them through a mixture of technological incompetence and paranoid content protection. At worst (actually, this result might be better) ebookos may not get off the ground at all.
Jon Noring, a central figure in ebook technology, has written a readable and persuasive article on the solution: an open standard based on nonproprietary technologies that are currently in use and have developer bases already in place. The
Open eBook Publication Structure (OEBPS)
is simple and so comprehensive it could legitimately be called a multimedia specification (although it probably is adequate only for small bits of audio and video in books rather than full movies). It does not arrogantly create entirely new standards (as proprietary vendors do). According to the
“The goal of OEBPS is to provide this comprehensive support not by developing yet another standard, but by specifying subsets of well-established standards, most importantly: XML, XHTML, CSS, MIME, Dublin Core, MARC, and Unicode.”
Also worth reading is David Rothman’s blog
“Proprietary approach is LESS secure”
that shows we need to fight some of the same old fights over again to educate publishers about the value of an open approach.
Opposition by vendors to an open approach can be expected on the basis that it will force their premium-cost devices to compete with cut-rate solutions, including displays on general-purpose commodity computer systems. But vendors and publishers may well fight the open solution for another reason: standards and specifications require them to put down what they’re doing in clear writing. And they have good reason to be embarrassed about advertising some of the Digital Rights Management policies they’re adopting.
As pointed out by several articles in the April 2003 Communications of the ACM (vol. 46, no. 4), Digital Rights Management schemes are currently and perhaps inevitably in conflict with the rights of users, reflected in U.S. law by such terms as “fair use” and “right of first sale.” If publishers and ebook vendors have to enter into a public debate over what they want from DRM, opposition would have a clear target. That fear by in itself be enough to prevent the publishers and vendors from pursuing the one solution that can make this beneficial technology an everyday reality.
21 May 2003 was an important day for the Polish BSD community. That was the day that BSDay 2003, the first BSD conference in Poland, was held in Warsaw. If I’m not mistaken, it was also the first ever conference in Poland sponsored by O’Reilly.
The conference was split into two tracks: business and technical:
The conference opened with my presentation of a short history of BSD systems, which quickly turned into a presentation of the history of Apple’s own Unix efforts and their Mac OS X system. Next, after a short session of Q & A, we were treated to a very interesting presentation of a difficult task of migrating the Polish Ministry of Health’s systems from Linux to FreeBSD. It was no mean task, with hundreds of users, dozens of networks and a lot of detective work done when trying to discover various server’s functions. Marcin Swietochowski gave the audience a lot of good reasons for switching from Linux to FreeBSD and other BSDs, and I’m sure many of the conference participants will use his tactic to convince their clients and managers to migrate to BSD systems. Although not all of the things that weren’t working well were Linux’s faults as such, it was hard not to agree with Marcin’s comments about that system’s shortcomings.
The next item on the agenda was a long and extensive presentation of VoIP implementation done on FreeBSD. I admit that I learned more about VoIP that I ever wanted to learn, and if anyone wants to know how to do it, I say should ask Jakub. My second presentation was about the latest changes in pf, the famous packet filter covered in this series here at ONLamp. The number of questions that I was asked about pf convinced me that the number of pf users is growing, which is a good thing.
Przemek Frasunek’s talk on FreeBSD security was very interesting, as always. Przemek is one of the authors of the rexec module for FreeBSD and knows a lot about security and secure programming. You can always learn something new from his presentations. (Among the participans was also one of the authors of the FreeBSD Cerber security module, Pawel Jakub Dawidek.)
Pawel Pisarczyk’s presentation of the history and the innards of the BSD kernel was entertaining and gave everyone a refresher on context switches, virtual memory, and other bits and pieces of the basic kernel functionality. Pawel wrote the Phoenix operating systems and knows a lot about operating system design (he ought to as he’s an academic teacher). He has plans to continue his work, and who knows, maybe Phoenix will make some waves worldwide?
Dawid Szymanski (with help from Tomasz Luchowski) bravely endured the barrage of questions about NetBSD code, the glue layer, portability and the project’s business models. (Personally, I think that NetBSD is an ideal system for new hardware platforms, because of the high portability of the code. That’s where I see it’s future, but I could be wrong, of course.)
Aleksander Czarnowski teased the audience asking if OpenBSD was a truly secure operating system and if it could be used as auditing tool. His presentation was provocative, entertaining, and informative. Alek uses OpenBSD in his company for auditing IT systems and has many interesting things to say about the system’s security, reliability, and usefulness for many security applications.
The last presentation was Tomasz Luchowski’s talk about software packaging tools for Unix systems, with the main focus on NetBSD. Tomasz is one of the NetBSD developers with well over three years of experience with the system (Tomasz joined the project as a developer in 2001). I was particularly interested in future plans for the NetBSD packages, in particular the design that helps take care of component version mismatch.
I enjoyed BSD 2003 a lot and I truly hope that the conference will grow and that I’ll be able to write about the 2nd edition next year! I hope that next year we will be joined by BSD users from abroad.
Last but not least, I would like to thank the following people:
Tim O’Reilly and Josette Garcia of O’Reilly & Associates for sponsorship; Alek Czarnowski, Przemek Galczewski, Dorota Pietkiewicz, and the rest of the gang from AVET for coming up with the idea for the conference, taking care of the communications with the speakers, managing and organizing the conference; Marek Ryszka of Edu-Tel for taking care of the logistics and other mundane, non-IT organizational matters.
PS. Pictures of some participants, including yours truly can be found here.
UPDATE: 2003/05/26:2:28pm GMT+1 (1) Jakub Klausa sent me a link to his set of photos from the conference. Thanks, Jakub! (2) Pawel Jakub Dawidek wrote to clarify that Przemek Frasunek is not one of the authors of the cerber module. Przemek wrote rexec, while cerber is the work of Slawomir Zak and Pawel Jakub Dawidek. Both projects reside in the same repository on SourceForge, hence the confusion. Thanks Pawel!
In the latest twist in the SCO/IBM Linux battle, thousands of Linux users are signing an on-line petition literally inviting SCO to sue them for using Linux.
The petition, entitled “Hey SCO, sue me!” already has thousands of signatures. The text of the petition is:
I am a Linux user. I feel that SCO’s tactics toward an operating system of my choice are unjust, ill founded and bizarre. I am willing to be sued because I am confident that SCO’s tactics toward Linux will fail. If I have published my email address as part of this petition it is so SCO representatives can email me and begin the process of serving me a court order
When you sign it, you get an opportunity to leave a comment and identify which distribution you’re using.
(Consumers have found fewer reasons in recent years for upgrading
their hardware or software. Grand new initiatives don’t seem to be
making it into marketable products. So sales may be driven by other
Hello? Is that another ad or a sentient being? Good, I’ve been waiting
on the line for thirty minutes. Look, I bought a statistical database
I need for my research, and when I load the CD your product gives me
the message “.JSX 2.1 not recognized.” I’ve opened .JSX files
before; do you know what’s wrong?
Product Customer Service:
I’ll try to help you. Do you see anything at all on your screen?
Yes, yes, I just told you I see a dialog box saying “.JSX 2.1 not
Product Customer Service:
Is the filename you entered exactly the same as the name of the file
as shown in the folder?
Look, I’ve got a tight deadline and I need your software to work the
way it has hundreds of times before; don’t treat me as a newbie.
Product Customer Service:
But I have a list of 38 questions I’m supposed to ask in order.
Can you just ask me number 38?
Product Customer Service:
OK, did you recently upgrade your operating system to patch A96?
Yes, I had to, it was part of the license.
Product Customer Service:
Well, that disabled .JSX support, but we can work around it with an
upcoming version that costs just $19.95.
Thank goodness! How soon will it be released?
Product Customer Service:
As soon as you send us the $19.95.
Hello? I upgraded your operating system to patch A96 and it disabled
.JSX formats. I bought an upgrade for my application and it doesn’t
do any good, but they swear there isn’t anything else they can do.
Operating System Customer Service:
OK. Do you see anything at all on your screen?
Can you just ask me question number 38?
Operating System Customer Service:
That one asks about whether you use your device while doing
Well look, just tell me what can go wrong after I’ve done everything
I’ve supposed to.
Operating System Customer Service:
Are you booting with ROM version 4.3?
Oh gee, I have to check–yes, it’s 4.3.
Operating System Customer Service:
You need an upgrade to 4.4 for your software to work with patch A96.
(Two days later.)
Hello? In the past few days I installed patch A96 on my operating
system, upgraded my application, installed ROM version 4.4, replaced
my motherboard, and bought a new driver for my printer. I still can’t
get .JSX 2.1 format to work, and I’m losing customers daily–
Product Customer Service:
.JSX 2.1 support has been disabled for security reasons.
Not my job security! Can I restore my system to the way it was four
days ago? You can’t just leave me in the lurch. Are you there? Hello?
We are sorry. Your call has been disconnected with error message 2057,
“Device not supported by call-routing software version 1.2.”
I’m working on a on-line bookstore project, which I’d like to automate as much as possible. Things like book insertion and deletion ought to happen automatically, with only occasional need to mess with code or HTML. My choice of language for this project is Python, with a touch of urllib and re. Since one of the sources of book titles and ISBN numbers I use is the O’Reilly book catalogue, I thought I’d share this little script with other ORA fans.
DARPA is the agency responsible for the Total Information Awareness kerfuffle a few months ago. On May 6, Tony Tether, DARPA’s director testified before the Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental
Relations and the Census of the US House of Representatives
Committee on Government Reform. He talked about a few of their approaches to data mining, searching, auditability, and maintaining confidentiality.
There aren’t many technical specifics in the testimony, but what jumps out at me is how much the “advisory” role of the systems is emphasized. Director Tether envisions the vast searching and pattern-matching engines that DARPA is building as helpful tools for wise humans that consider the information provided as just one input they weigh.
This is an encouraging vision. However, as Director Tether mentions in his testimony, DARPA is just a tool maker. The tools they build are used by Congressional offices, or the FBI, or the CIA, or other government agencies. Given how the TSA is currently hassling anybody named David Nelson, I’m not too hopeful that DARPA’s powerful systems will be used responsibly.
In addition to the PDF linked to above, you can read Director Tether’s testimony as plain text here
Can investigators be trusted with powerful databases?
There are butterflies in my stomach writing this. Was it the right decision to accept the O’Reilly invitation to post my observations on their site?
After all I haven’t programmed for a while. Other than some HTML code, the last time I did a larger project was in ABAP/4. Today I had to think a bit about how to write ‘Hello World’ in it, but why think when you can search? Here it is:
REPORT ZHB00001. *Hello world in ABAP/4 * WRITE: ‘Hello world’.
Also being from Germany (where I grew up, studied and have worked), English is not my native language. So please excuse any incronicities. (You are right; I made this word up :-)
But there are some things that I bring to the table, besides a fork and a knife and lots of hunger: an SAP perspective. The stress is on an rather than the SAP perspective. I work for SAP, but neither in Marketing nor in Public Relations. As Evan and others in similar situations have commented, I am struggling a bit with managing the balance between private and official blogging. So here is the disclaimer: Views expressed on this blog are my own. Period.
If you search for SAP in the weblog area of O’Reilly you come back with 17 hits, the first one being a story called “Apple Terminates Safari Seed Program” with the following quote: “…choose to take pity on the poor sap …” Talking about a poor choice for naming a company. The post is not even referring to the third largest independent software provider.
Given that SAP has more than 60,100 installations in 120 countries I think it will only benefit this community to learn more about what SAP is doing. These installations are not something that is done in a little department somewhere in a corner. In most cases it is the centerpiece of the corporate IT infrastructure. Companies are looking towards SAP to be their trusted partner/innovator to lead them in the right direction. It makes sense to check where this train is going or even to hop on it.
In addition I look forward to sharing what I learn from hosting the Bay Area Futurist Salon every month. This leads me to events like the Persuasive Computing presentation from B.J. Fogg. He said that in computers we went from technology (making it work) to usability (making it easier) and now the next step is persuasion (influencing the people using them). This might be for good causes like Quitnet.com, which helps you quit smoking, or more questionable things like America’s Army, a first-person shooting game created by, surprise, the Army. Over a million people are playing it right now. It is a huge success for their recruiting efforts.
This is already more then I wanted to write. Let the dialogue begin.
Paul Graham’s essay Hackers and Painters is thoughtful and Tim O’Reilly’s commentary on it is exuberant, but to what effect?
The people who need to be swayed by Graham’s arguments are already swayed.
Hacking is fun, hacking is creative, hacking is not just implementing a spec.
This was made quite clear to me in fifth grade when I read Steven Levy’s
fabulous book “Hackers”. Software connoisseurs appreciate the fine art of design. They are different than the journeymen with their lunchpails that stuff the code inside the virtual methods handed down from on high.
Most people in the world are not software connoisseurs. They just want it to work. I am not an electrical engineering connoisseur. I don’t care if the circuit board inside my computer is laid out in a particularly beautiful or elegant pattern. I just want it to work. I don’t care if the elevator in my apartment building is based on a design by a noted elevator designer. I just want to go up and down.
I have, perhaps, now offended aficionados of fine elevators. How can I be so blind to the beauty above my head and below my feet in the elevator shaft? Without elevators there’d be no Empire State Building, no Petronas Towers! Designing a good elevator isn’t just rote engineering, it’s creative, it’s art, it’s beautiful!
All of this may be true. I’m just not into elevators.
Web Application development is a very young field. This has lots of exciting and positive implications — it’s bursting with unbridled creativity. Many people are building lots of neat things. But even more people are building lots of shoddy things. Much of this is natural — boundaries are being sorted out, everyone’s figuring out the rules of the game. To those outside this community of developers and connoisseurs, however, the implications are less thrilling.
When my mom* rides the elevator of a web application, she doesn’t care about the creativity of the programmer/designer behind the scenes. She wants her airline ticket, or book, or search results, or Happy Flag Day e-card. Maybe there’s a really cool macro language on the e-card site** that lets e-card designers whip up cards with embedded video games especially easily, but that’s not even on my mom’s radar.
Web application development can learn plenty from “software engineering” which in turn can learn a lot from regular old bridge/skyscraper/canal/tunnel engineering. Maybe when the pace of development slows down a little there won’t be so much wheel re-inventing. How many thousands (tens of thousands?) internal web content management systems were built in the last ten years? (My personal contribution to this embarrassment: three) People who build bridges have had a few thousand years to develop some standards so perhaps my complaints come a little early. But the thinkers (artists, hackers, makers, whatever you want to call them) and the doers (engineers, builders, ditch-diggers, etc.) both need to realize that their common medium (computer programs) link them inextricably in the minds, hearts, and wallets of the 99.999% of the world that “just wants it to work”.
* My own personal mom is actually somewhat computer savvy and is kind of interested in what happens behind the scenes. But the general abstract “mom” is such a universally beloved icon of naive computer usage that I don’t want to rock the boat.
** Paul Graham has written about how Lisp was the Secret Weapon to make Viaweb/Yahoo! stores comparatively great. I’ve never maintained a Yahoo! store or written any RTML, but I’ve bought plenty of things from Yahoo! stores and elsewhere and haven’t felt (as an end-user) a difference.
Are you an artist or a ditch-digger? Both? Neither?
Is there a big storm brewing on Linux’s horizon? Or is this a tempest in a teapot? From my point of view, it’s likely both.
But before we rush to judgement, let’s look at what’s happening.
SCO owns the rights to the Unix operating system. Back in the beginning, Unix was developed by AT&T at Bell Labs.
But AT&T sold the rights to Unix to Novell. Novell then sold them to SCO. SCO was then purhcased by Caldera which then changed their name to SCO. And now the ‘new’ SCO owns the rights to the Unix operating system.
SCO makes money by licensing the rights to Unix to a bunch of companies that make their own versions of Unix (AIX from IBM, for example). But with the given rise of Linux, the value of SCO’s Unix is dropping.
Some are saying that SCO believes it might be worth more to its investors if it could legally claim to ‘own’ parts of Linux and force companies to pay them for using it - or at least if it could sue IBM for a billion dollars. They may be right. SCO is betting the farm that they are.
What SCO alleges is that IBM made the source code for AIX available to Linux developers who either copied major parts of it directly into Linux or else copied parts of it while making a few changes to hide the fact that the code came from AIX.
So what should you do? It depends on who you ask. According to this note from the Gartner Group, it’s unclear whether or not SCO can make a case. But they also say that this will take time to play out and may have an impact on Linux adoption rates. According this article posted in ZDNet UK News, the Meta Group is saying not to worry about using Linux for now. After all, they reason, SCO’s arguments haven’t been proven yet and it may take a year or longer to get things sorted out and determine what’s really going to happen.
What’s my opinion? Of course, I’m no lawyer, but here goes.
I think that it’s extremely unlikely that SCO is going to take legal action against individual companies that are using Linux. And it shouldn’t take long for the Linux community to rewrite the code that SCO is contesting once it’s identified. To me this means that there are really only three likely outcomes if SCO’s claims are upheld:
SCO will arrive at a settlement and drop their claims.
SCO will be acquired by some company with a strong interest in the growth of Linux and the claims will be dropped
SCO will be acquired by some company with deep pockets that thinks they can take on IBM and actaully win the $1 billion dollars.
There are a couple other things that seem very likely as well. First, that other companies all over the world right now are looking at the Linux code base to see if it contains any of their code. Depending on what happens with SCO, other’s may follow suit if their code has also been misappropriated. Second, SCO will likely lose a great deal of whatever goodwill they had from their customer base.
But, whatever happens, this is something that will likely play out among a few big players in the Linux and Software businesses. Commercial users of the software should be largely unaffected.
So - there it is. A big storm on the horizon for a few big companies fighting over intellectual property rights with billions of dollars at stake. But I don’t think Linux users need to worry too much - the real money for SCO will come from taking on IBM, not Linux users themselves.
PS. Added thanks to the link below to Eric Raymond’s brilliant work outlining the facts behind “Who Owns Unix”.
I forgot to promote the ONLamp survey in last week’s Linux newsletter, so only a few people saw it. Out of 300 responses, here’s what we’ve learned.
52% of the respondents are from Africa
39% are DBA’s
90% do not have a Linux cluster
20% work in the insurance industry
0% work in technology
The cluster numbers look accurate, but the rest seem either too high or too low. Oops! Oh, and I’m just informed that only 4% of our readers are from the USA. Hmm.
If you have a few minutes free, it would be a great favor to fill out the survey and let us know what’s on your mind. I’m especially interested in hearing what subjects you’d like us to cover more. I’ll write a followup in a couple of weeks with hopefully more accurate results!
I’ve been to Africa, but I didn’t meet many DBAs. Where are the open source hotspots there?
Amyzing puts it down. Many of us have long argued on XML-DEV that XML has only one real data type: string. Higher-level views and models can add whatever types they like, preferably in a pluggable fashion, but core XML specs should stay out of such quagmires. Amyzing has a go, in her own inimitable way, at getting this message across. The divagation trails off at the end, unfortunately, so I look forward to future installments.
I recently interviewed Scott Handy, IBM’s Worldwide Director for Linux Solutions, for an upcoming article I’m working on. According to Scott, Linux is literally exploding across the corporate landscape. Here are a few of the highlights from the interview:
Linux is ’safe’ now
When IBM purchased Lotus Notes in 1995, Notes had about 3 million installed seats. Notes now has well over 100 million installed seats worldwide. A good deal of that growth was due to the fact that Notes now has “IBM” stamped on it. Corporate customers knew it wouldn’t be going away and that Notes now had deep pockets behind its development. According to Scott, that’s a good analogy for what they’re seeing with Linux. He says, IBM is “seeing a similar mainstream acceptance of Linux. But I think IBM adds more than just credibility. It certainly adds credibility but also adds solutions around Linux.”
Customers are seeing IBM’s commmitment to Linux and are adopting it in droves. According to Scott, his customers believe that IBM brings ‘credibility’ to Linux that it didn’t have before.
Linux is now on the CIO’s radar
According to Scott, “Almost all senior managers either have a Linux plan or are being asked for one because of the fact that it’s so well known that Linux is being adopted by major corporations around the world”.
Of course, many CIO’s have had Linux installed in their organizations for years. The problem was, until recently most of them didn’t know about it! According to Scott, Linux first took off because the alpha geeks in the company, “could install Linux without a purchase order and without approval”.
In the door because it’s cheap, growing because it’s good.
Getting Linux in the door because it’s cheap is one thing. But you don’t replace production systems with Linux just because it’s cheap. It has to be good as well. In fact, it really had to be better than the alternatives in order to overcome the fear that many managers had about using open source. According to Scott, once IBM’s customers tried Linux, “they were extremely happy with the reliability and performance” and pretty soon they wanted to “get those same reliability and total cost of ownership benefits for their business applications.”
The GPL is like “Glue Provided to Linux”
According to Scott, the GPL (Gnu General Public License) will ensure that Linux doesn’t splinter into different (and incompatible) factions.
You might remembed in the 80’s that the Unix operating system splintered into a bunch of different vendor-specific versions. Because of this, Unix never really got its act together. None of its different versions ever became dominant. I asked Scott if he felt that this might happen to Linux. I wondered if he thought we would see different distributions going their own way and then becoming incompatible with each other. His answer was interesting.
According to Scott, “The unique thing about Linux is the GPL license which forces all derivatives of Linux to have their source code published. That’s *very* unlike Unix. Because of that the industry is all sharing the same Linux kernel and for ten years running has kept to a single code base.”
All this is pretty amazing when you think about where Linux was just a few years ago. But things change. Linux is now moving from the back of the server room up to the front. And if IBM’s deep pockets have anything to say about it - that’s where it will be staying for a long time.
Wrapping up my look back at the great experience that
was last week. I’ll end up with some thoughts about
Eric Drexler’s talk (sort of personal hero of mine,
ever since I read “Engines of Creation” some 10 years ago) - Any feedback
Tom Coates - UpMyStreet Conversations: Mapping Cyber To Space
(my recollections from jotted notes, laptop did
not make it to this session. Still, I wanted to mention
it, as it is an indicator of future services that
are relevant to very specific Locations and Times: bloggers
within 5 miles of me, local news within the last week,
local merchants, and so on — dls)
UpMyStreet.com is a UK web service
that allows a wide range of location-specific functions. Among them:
Can map unbounded/nearest places to a Post Code
Can search for who is the local mayor, council officials, schools, local politicians
Can conduct conversations local to your neighborhood
There are 1.7 million Post Codes in the UK. Each Post Code
covers an average of 14 houses. By comparison, the USA
has only 33,000 Zip Codes, with an average of 8,600 people
The message boards are designed to help you meet neighbors.
They’re used to organize real world events (Mother & Baby
groups), gather local info, and for debating local politics.
Participants in a conversation never have their location shown to be
closer than 200 yards. This helps to address privacy concerns.
Conversation searches can cover varying amounts of time. Searches
on recent posts tend to cover a larger area. If you want to find
posts clustered closer to where you are, you would search over
a larger time range.
It’s unfortunate that UpMyStreet is in the UK equivalent of Chapter 11
(administration) proceedings. It seems to be a very worthwhile, useful
Meg Hourihan - From the Margins of the Writable Web
Meg did some research on where she thought the edges of were
in the current weblog world. The first conclusion was: it’s
hard to research the edges. It changes too fast.
On the writing side, we have 2nd generation tools such
as Moveable Type.
It has gotten much easier to publish. (this somehow
reminds me of Clay’s Lament: we could have been doing this
8 years ago, but all we got was GeoCities!)
On the Reading side, it is hard to keep up with the blogs you know
about, much less find new ones. There’s a 100,000 of them out there,
and more every day.
There is more than one Blogosphere. A few regions with lots
of activity are Dallas-Fort Worth, New York City, and Paris.
Meg spoke of one fellow in Chicago who doesn’t bother
following some of the well-known writers. He is happy
to follow local blogs of his friends. (this is another
piece in the puzzle I’m starting to think about, the theme
of real world Location and Time mapped into what we do
online. There will be those that are not going to follow
specific blogs/other online material on a global scale, but rather, will
follow a variety of offerings that map more directly into
their physical area. — dls)
A few things Meg mentioned about RSS Readers, what
she calls “anti-social software”:
They can poll too much / greedy
There is a loss of personality. The text that you see is out of context, in that it is not being presented on the web page/blog it was written for.
Syndication is inconsistent. Sometimes you see only headlines, other times, full posts. Sometimes you see an excerpt.
Meg’s take on this is that “it’s good enough for now”
My take on it is that on the reading side, I love being able to see
what’s new on 30 different sites. I drag links from
href="http://ranchero.com/netnewswire/">NetNewsWire to Safari,
always reading things in the context that the author intended. When I
write on my personal blog, I will usually take a moment to write an
excerpt. It’s something that builds on the title.
I just scratched the surface here, so please check out the notes I’ve
linked to for more info.
Clay Shirky - Lazyweb As Sport (Birds of a Feather)
This was a fun session! In a nutshell, it was a large group
of people sitting in a circle, going around and voicing
their Emerging Tech “I want” ideas in 60 seconds.
Ideas I tossed out:
I miss the fact that years ago on Usenet, you
could zero in on what you were looking for by checking
a newsgroup or two. Now, there’s a lot of what I call
“Islands of Information”. I might have to look on 4
or 5 PHP message boards to find what I am after. I don’t
like these islands. I want to see Virtual Newsgroups
that have a web front end, but which gateway into
Hammersley said “clouds”. I think that’s a code
word that leads down the path into
the Semantic Web, which I haven’t wrapped my mind around yet.
Another want: A Private Email ISP. You pay a small fee each month,
and your outgoing email gets a time-limited, unique return address for
each address you send to. You use this to correspond with companies
you don’t want to give your real email address to, and anyone else
where you want to ensure a temporary exchange. You would have control
over who/which domains could respond, could extend the lifetime, or
could cut it off at any point. Someone in the room thought this
was already being done (remind me who is, please)
Eric gave his talk on the 50th anniversary of the identification of
the double helical structure of DNA. Very apropos.
He started with the observation that the largest amount of
storage space tucked away on our laptop computers is in bacteria.
There are terabytes of data there!
As an overview, Eric made some comments on “What Nanotech can be”,
from the perspectives of different fields. The sweeping, general
overview is this:
“If something exists, then things like that are possible”
Molecular machine systems take sunlight, CO2 to make complex structures. This illustrates that it can be done cleanly, cheaply, and with molecular precision.
Nanotech should use the principles that biology demonstrates.
The range of things that can be made is wider than that of biology.
It can be extended to a wider range of materials than what we use today.
The full range of arrangement & structures that can be supported is bounded by physical constraints.
With nanotech, we can make components in nanometer scale
gears/levers/pulleys can be made of small clumps of atoms
The systems made will be comparable in size to living cells
small elements in the system will be the bits that need a threshold of 1 or 0.
can have systems that are general purpose, and much faster
Eric then went on to say that the body is made of molecular machines,
and that nanotech will provide a means of Surgical Repair at a molecular level.
A big source of interest in NanoTech is coming from the military.
There is a so-called “Grey Goo Problem”, in which molecular machines
will reproduce, uncontrolled, taking over the Biosphere in short
order. Eric thinks it would take a lot of research and effort
to produce something like that. One way to approach the problem
is to specify the types of things that can be made, as opposed
to trying blacklist the things that can’t be made.
I have no formal education in this area, but my gut feeling (or fear) is that
some equivalent of a NanoCracker will try to do the sorts of things
with NanoTech that we see happening with worms and viruses. I recall
the Morris Worm,
which in 1988 brought down large portions of the much smaller Internet
we had back then. It was something written as an experiment, which
quickly spiraled out of control for half a day. In Neal Stephenson’s sci-fi book “The Diamond Age”, clouds of molecular guards surround the equivalent of
gated communities, keeping all of the unwanted nano-materials out.
(see pages 49-52, hardcover edition) What sounds like sci-fi now
may become a necessity of sorts - there may be a need to deploy
nano-machines which can disable others that are not on some
sort of Nano WhiteList.
Back To Computing…
Eric has been watching
Law for a long time. He thinks that a mechanical computer in a
cubic micron, with 1 ghz per processor, could yield 10^18th ops/sec.
Analogy To Space
When one thinks of the history of space flight, Eric believes that we are before point of first satellite launch. He makes the analogy that we
are in the stage where we think Space Tech is cool. He also thinks
that some of the people working on NanoTech are in a sort of denial:
they don’t want to admit that their work can lead to the space age
equivalent of war missiles, or the ability to fly to the moon. It’s
akin to how people were thinking about space in the 30’s and 40’s.
There are people in the scientific leadership community that are
misrepresenting NanoTech, by saying it won’t work, because
mechanical fingers that will manipulate atoms won’t have enough space
to carry out their operations. Eric strongly disagrees with the
Three Boxes Story
Eric illustrated some advances that have previously been made
in 1, 2, and 3 dimensional space:
1 dimension: It used to be that if you wanted to hear a flute, you needed a flute, and a flute player. Now we have universal sound in the form of CDs and CD Players
2 dimensions: If you wanted to print the letter ‘A’, you needed a typesetter with a big metal press. This was very expensive at first. Now we have all manner of systems that can control printers with high precision, at an affordable price
3 dimensions: If you wanted to sculpt metal, you needed a lathe, a drill press, and some other tools. To some extent, we now have computer controlled machines that can work with metal.
Some points about this:
A universal sound player (such as a CD Player) can produce any sound, but cannot produce another universal sound player
Printers cannot produce other printers
A Molecular Desktop Machine could produce other MDM’s, perfectly. You could ask a MDM to produce a device that has billions of CPUs, that could download a pill to cure a given disease, or to make another desktop box that can make desktop boxes
Finishing up, Eric states that it is hard to wrap the mind around the
implications of NanoTech. He thinks it is clear that the future of
digital systems is molecular, and that the future of the material
world is digital. He thinks that the main surprise in the
last 5 years has been cultural (akin to old feelings about
the coming Space Age).
For me, this was a completely fascinating talk. NanoTech is
a seemingly sci-fi topic. It’s one I am not comfortable trying to explain to folks that don’t understand technology
and its implications. I think it will bring about larger changes
in our everyday lives than all of the other topics of the Emerging
Technology Conference put together.
What are the themes from last week’s conference that still have you buzzing?
Ken Barber, original author of Oregon HB 2892 writes this Oregonian editorial wondering why, in a state that needs to spend less without raising taxes, the Speaker of the House would silently and procedurally kill a bill to recognize Open Source software as a viable option for procurement.
When pressed, the AEA representative admitted that he had no idea how many of the member companies supported or objected to HB 2892. The AEA hadn’t polled their members. Of course, browsing their member directory reveals companies that do support and produce Open Source software, such Sun, SGI, Agilent, and Axian (home of Coop, one of my favorite Linux authors).
I can’t prove one way or another whether the AEA acted as all of its members would wish it to act — or even if the AEA did anything to convince Speaker Minnis to kill the bill. Still, I’m a little disheartened that the bill wasn’t even brought for a vote before a committee.
Now that IOUG Live! 2003 has come to an end, the opportunity to summarize
and wrap up the week’s events presents itself. I was originally planning to post daily updates,
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> but since Stephen Andert
has done such a great job of that with his postings here, I thought something
somewhat different might be in order. So, I’m not going to get into the details of individual sessions and
content, but rather try to key on what makes IOUG Live!a unique event.
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>A LITTLE HISTORY
In order to understand
style='mso-bidi-font-style:normal'>IOUG Live!, it is helpful to have an
overview of what came before.Since I
have been attending Oracle conferences since 1985, I think I am prepared to
give you that, so here goes.
The first user conference probably
took place in 1985 in San Diego.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> I say probably, because some Oracle users
were getting together informally to discuss the product (version 4 back then),
but San Diego was the first time
Oracle actually sanctioned a meeting. There were probably 50 users present.
In 1986, Oracle had just moved
world headquarters in Belmont, CA,
and hosted an event called International
Oracle Users Week in San Francisco.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> All involved were thrilled with the
attendance, which was almost 500!
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> It was held in the Hyatt Regency in San
Francisco, and the exhibit hall was on meeting room
with two vendors (Sequent Computer and Israel Stern with a little product
called SQR).One of the more notable
events at this conference was a general user meeting where attendees divided up
by region and selected representatives to organize a new users group, which
took the name International Oracle Users Group, or simply IOUG.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> The new group got organized during the year,
and provided some limited assistance to Oracle with the planning of the 1987
User Week event in Washington.
The 1987 meeting was another
success, with about 1000 attendees. Oracle was 10 years old and growing rapidly.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> They recognized the value of a user-oriented
conference, and encouraged IOUG to become a full partner.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> I was selected as Conference Chair that year,
and held that position through 1996 (but more about that later).
International Oracle User Week or IOUW, as it was now know, became
increasingly successful, and after several hotel-based conferences (1988 in
Orlando, 1989 in Dallas, and 1990 in Anaheim – do you see a Disney theme
here?), 1991 saw IOUW expand to a convention center event in Miami
years that followed, attendance grew to over 10,000 users in San
Francisco in 1995. As attendance grew, so did the quality of the presentations.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> A group of IOUG volunteers reviewed session
submissions and, using objective criteria, carefully prepared a program that
would have value to every attendee.At the
same time, the Planning Committee came under increasing pressure for Oracle
Corporation to add more and more “marketing” sessions to drive their
ever-increasing growth.In 1996 IOUW was
held in Philadelphia, and Oracle
made a surprise announcement that beginning in 1997, they would take control of
the user conference, call it Oracle
class=SpellE>OpenWorld, and base it permanently in California.
Needless to say, this was a blow
to the IOUG, which by then had evolved into the IOUG-A (International Oracle
Users Group – Americas)
in deference to the European and Asia-Pacific user groups.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> After some tense negotiations, Oracle decided
to give IOUG a significant role in paper selection, but they retained overall
control of the conference.What
class=GramE>hadbeen a focused
technical conference had now become, in the opinion of some, “International
Oracle Marketing Week”, and in the process lost its technical edge.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> In response, IOUG decided to risk its
reputation and limited financial resources to run a Spring
conference called IOUG-A Live!Get
it?IOUG-Alive – IOUG-A is still
alive!OK, enough of that.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> By the way, it seems that they are again just
IOUG – I’m not sure what happened to the –A.
What occurred in Orlando
this year is a continuation of the tradition of technically oriented user
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> In my opinion, it is neither.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> Rather, it is a substantially different
event.IOUG Live! and
style='mso-bidi-font-style:normal'>OracleWorld are actually quite
complimentary, and work well together. For the audience who want to know what’s coming up, where the technical
horizons are being expanded, and in general where Oracle Corporation is going,
style='mso-bidi-font-style:normal'> is the place.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> For the “techies”
who actually make the products work, IOUG
Live!can’t be beat.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> I go to both!
As I said earlier, I am not going
to do a ‘blow by blow” description of the conference; rather, I’ll try to give
you the flavor of the event.Remember
that the opinions expressed here are mine alone, and don’t represent those of
anyone else.So, having said that, let’s
get on with it.
I think everyone involved would
say that if there is one overriding theme to the IOUG Live!conference, it is
Education.This theme seemed to be
carried out though the entire week, and fairly successfully IMHO.
For those interested in an
in-depth treatment of a particular subject, there were all-day IOUG_A
University sessions on Sunday, and half-day sessions on Thursday.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> True, they cost extra, but the fees seem
reasonable for the knowledge to be gained.
Most of week consisted of standard
one hour technical presentations, but the planners clearly understand that not
every topic fits into a neat one hour, and so they also scheduled half-hour
sessions as well as longer 1-1/2 hour sessions. Sessions covered a wide range of topics, with heavy emphasis on DBA and
Developer topics, as you might expect. As I mentioned at the top, see Stephen’s daily Weblogs
for detailed information about these sessions.
class=GramE>ROUND PEG IN A SQUARE HOLE?
A unique feature of this
conference is the Roundtable Discussion Forums. These are loosely moderated events, sometimes with an announced topic
and sometimes on a topic decided by those attending.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> The round table is usually square, but that’s
OK.What is not OK is that fact they
class=SpellE>they are not well publicized, and so a lot of folks miss
out on a great opportunity to participate in some practical and technical discussions.
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>RUMBLINGS AND GRUMBLINGS
It seems like no matter what you
do, somebody doesn’t like it.Food is
always a hot topic, and this year was no exception.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> There was no breakfast provided, which was OK
in and of itself, but there was also almost
class=SpellE>noplace to buy a donut or fruit or whatever.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> Yeah, sure you could go to the hotel
restaurant and pay $20 for a bagel, but come on.
Lunch was advertised as “Birds of
a Feather” lunch.It was a box lunch
distributed in the Exhibit Hall, and in my opinion the lunches were
significantly better than anyone had a right to expect.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> Don’t forget, the organizers are at the mercy
of the venue (in this case, the Dolphin hotel), and conference food is not know
for its quantity or quality (and you wouldn’t believe how much each one costs).
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> But these lunches were quite good, with more
than enough food and a wide selection of drinks.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> As for the Birds of a Feather – I never did
figure that part out.At
class=SpellE>OracleWorld they have tables with signs like “DBA” and
“Left-handed Forms Development” (OK, I’m kidding about that one), but if such
tables existed at IOUG Live, I didn’t
find them.The lunches did get folks
into the Exhibit Hall (more about that later), and I didn’t hear any complaints
about Pepsi in the keyboards.
Another cause for complaint was
the fact that another conference (a Phamaceutical
Company) taking place at the some time and in overlapping space.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> It was quite strange to have dueling signs
and hoards of “other” people walking though “our” area.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> It would have been nice if the two
conferences could have been geographically separated in the hotel.
weather.Can’t those Disney
people do something about the rain storms? Tuesday was particularly bad – the Big Bash party was scheduled to begin
at on the beach outside the
hotel.So of course at
Hour="18" Minute="0">6:00 the skies opened up and didn’t stop for
hours.The party finally started in a
ballroom at about , but by then
the spirit of the evening had been thoroughly doused!
Warren Capps and his Illuminations
ran the bookstore this year.Warren
displayed and sold a wide variety of Oracle-related books, including the
O’Reilly books that everyone comes to depend on.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> My personal favorite was “
style='mso-bidi-font-style:normal'>Web Pages that Suck” (or something close
to that; I can’t remember the exact title) which was a book to teach web design
by showing less-than-successful web pages. Cool!
The best selling
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> book, at least by raw numbers, was…. (
class=GramE>shameful self-promotion) my newly released
style='mso-bidi-font-style:normal'>Oracle Data Dictionary Pocket Reference,
which was just released on the first day of the conference.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> According to Warren,
DBA books and O’Reilly Pocket References were the
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> best sellers, while JAVA and
developer-oriented books just sat on the tables and took up space.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> One theory is that the majority of conference
attendees are DBAs, and the developers in attendance
were at a level beyond the books.In any
case, the bookstore was a popular feature with people constantly around.
Speaking of the attendees at this
year’s event, I had trouble finding out how many folks were actually
there.When pressed, IOUG staff
responded that “the numbers met out expectations” and “were on a par with last
year”.It seemed like they didn’t want
to give out a number, probably thinking that it would reflect badly when
compared with the 15,000 or more that attend
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> Well, as near as I could tell, there were
about 1,600 paid attendees, and 2,200 total.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> If each person counts as one point, the
wins.But, if you have been paying
attention to the description of Live!
(I’m getting tire of typing the whole thing), you will realize that smaller is
most definitely better.Included in that
1600 people were most of the significant Oracle authors (for example, Kevin
class=SpellE>Loney, Steven Feurerstein, Don
Burleson, Cary Milsap, Michael Abbey, Michael
Rachael Carmichael, and a host of others. And, there were literally hundreds of other Oracle experts in
attendance, and they were easy to find and have a discussion with.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> Try that at
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> If it was up to me (it’s not), I would limit
the number of registrations for Live! to preserve this
kind of focused intimacy.
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>NOT JUST FOR EXHIBITIONISTS
I don’t know about you, but I
always find the Exhibit Hall to be one of the most useful features of any
Oracle conference, and this was no different. There is no point comparing the exhibit hall here with the one at
they are as different as the two conferences are.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> Suffice it to say that it takes all week to
walk past all the booths at OracleWorld, while at Live! you can find what is interesting and useful and
quickly get to the point.
Apparently the exhibitors weren’t
concerned about the attendance numbers – every one I spoke with was very
pleased with the quantity and, more importantly, the quality of the leads they
obtained (they are there to sell, after all). I found it interesting that many of the booths were staffed by technical
people, rather than the usual sales types most often found at the larger shows.
I thought it might be interesting
to give out some “awards” to the hard-working exhibitors, so here goes:
Best Giveaway:HP gave out s
little gizmo called the “Survival Card” that does everything except catch
Best T-Shirt:Tough one, but
Network Appliance gave out a t-shirt compressed in the shape of a beer bottle.
Most Practical: Another tough one, and I ended up with a tie between XIO who
displayed their packaged RAC implementation using LINUX, and Expand Beyond who’s Pocket DBA may be the most practical use I’ve seen for a wireless PDA.
Most Annoying Booth:Also
XIO for their annoying robot (which also ran into my foot in the middle of a
Hidden Jewel: Tucked away in a small booth in the corner was HOTSOS,
which offers a novel and technologically advanced approach to tuning.
Personally, I found it quite
useful to be able to walk the exhibit floor and actually get a good idea about what
each company had available and how it might help me and my projects.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> I learned about more than one product that,
although I may not be buying today, might just save the day in the not to
distant future.The Exhibits were
class=GramE>another valuable aspects of the week.
One always present feature of any
user conference is the Keynote Session. Way back when, there was only one on the first day, but then somebody
got the idea that you could have one (read that as “get a big company to pay to
present one”) every day.Well,
style='mso-bidi-font-style:normal'>IOUG Live! is
no exception, so we had the HP Keynote on Monday and the Legato Keynote on
Tuesday.Monday also included words of
wisdom from Oracle Corporation.These
sessions are marginally interesting, but we are not going to get any great tech
tips (other than buy HP or buy Legato) from these folks, and Oracle saves all
their big announcements for their own conference.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> So, in my opinion, these Keynotes are not
primary, and I noticed that quite a few of my fellow attendees agreed, judging
from the number of bodies in the hotel but not in the General Session room.
The final general session of the
week, “The Oracles of Oracle”, has the potential to be a really good
session.But, it suffers from two flaws:
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> First, it is the very last session, and a lot
of folks have either left or are brain dead by then.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> Second, it seems to have become a bit of a
political exercise to see who will be on the panel, though I think this year
they did a better job this year with only one IOUG Board member
participating.The third problem (I
know, I said there were only two) is that this format is sort of contrary to
the intimate, “up close and personal” nature of IOUG Live!,
and so it runs against the grain of the rest of the conference, where a more
personal form of interaction can take place. IOUW used to include a series of sessions called “Ask Oracle” where an Oracle Corporation expert would answer
questions on a particular topic.I think
that basic concept could be revived, with several sessions scheduled with a
small expert panel taking questions from a smaller, more focused group.
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> Or is that a Roundtable?
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> Oh, well – let’s see what happens next year.
FINISHING ON AN ENDING NOTE
Yogi said "it’s not over
until it’s over", so I guess it is - both the IOUG Live!conference and this
case you’re not sure about my opinion:I
think the week is an incredible opportunity to learn, share experiences, and
interact with your fellow Oracle professionals. If you haven’t attended before, I hope I have influenced you to give
this conference a try.If you attended
style='mso-bidi-font-style:normal'>IOUG Live! 2003, I hope you’ll come back
- I know I will!
Last week, PHPCon came to New York City for three days of PHP mingling. Luckily, I live in New York, so transportation was just the $1.50 for the subway down from 112th Street to midtown. Also, since I signed up to give a talk with Dave on Taming Large Scale PHP Projects, I got to go for free. That’s a nice combination.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to attend as many sessions as I wanted, there was just too much going on. However, the ones I did go to were top-notch. George Schlossnagle’s talk on unit testing was a big hit — much to George’s pleasant surprise. This was the first time he’d given this talk and George wasn’t quite sure how it’d turn out. (Somehow, I’m sure his nerves weren’t helped when Rasmus walked in seconds before he was about to start and grabbed a seat in the front row.) George demoed PHPUnit, a unit testing framework based on Java’s JUnit. If you’re interested in more, his PowerPoint slides are available online.
Rasmus did his usual Tips & Tricks talk. However, it was scheduled at the same time as our presentation, so I didn’t get to watch it. Later that day, Zeev gave a nice ending keynote where he looked back at all the progress PHP’s made from PHP/FI (aka PHP 2) until today and where PHP5 is going to take us in the upcoming months.
As a real wrap up, later that night, a bunch of us went down to New York Noodletown for some superlative Chinese food and then wandered over from Chinatown to Little Italy for some tourist-priced fancy coffees and dessert. It’s a little strange when dinner for six costs the same as dessert.
BTW, word on the street is that the next PHPCon will be this October in San Francisco. Specific dates and location TBA.
Did you go to PHPCon? What did you think of the conference?