Saturday, December 31, 2011

Indian call for affirmative action on Free Software

Erosion of privacy and personal freedom on online media drew worried mention at the just-concluded Fourth International FOSS (free and open source software) Conference-Kerala (FOSSK4). [...]

It demanded affirmative action by Governments around the world - especially in the Global South - to promote the use of FOSS as a cost-effective, customisable and robust technology option.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Linux package dependencies show predator/prey relationship

Computer people often talk about a "software ecosystem" on various computer platforms, but it's rare to see someone take the terminology seriously. Evolutionary biologists Miguel A. Fortuna, Juan A. Bonachela, and Simon A. Levin of Princeton University have used the tools of ecosystem analysis to look at the evolution of Debian releases, examining things like package dependencies and software incompatibility.

"Overall, the key feature of the modularity the team identified seems to be that the decreasing number of conflicts across modules means that more of the software available for the operating system can install, since it's rare that a conflict will completely block an entire module from installing and running. The authors suggest that we might learn something about biology by studying software, but they don't actually provide examples of how this might work; at this stage, then, it's not an especially compelling argument. "

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Facebook engineer talks about how they made FB mobile run everwhere

Facebook has the most downloaded smartphone application ever and over 350 million users accessing their website from both smart and dumb phones.

This is a talk by Dave Fetterman of Facebook on how they evolved their smart phone interface from fairly thick client to a progressively thinner one with more Html 5 features in the mix.

How Facebook Mobile Was Designed to Write Once, Run Everywhere:

Zurker A New Social Network

Over recent days Zurker a new social network has gone into alpha test.

For the benefit of anyone who has been trapped in a windowless room for the last 7 years, social networking is a web phenomenon where individuals interact with other individuals through sharing information. Usually there is a way for businesses to spread their message as well.

Today the 800 kg gorilla of social networking is Facebook who took the mantle from Myspace and Bebo in 2008. They are being challenged by Google, but look to be weathering that storm. They are also challenged to an extent by special purpose social networks like linked-in for business connections.

Previous social networks have had privacy issues as people didn't really trust the corporations to whom they gave all that personal information. Zurker has turned that on its head by allocating a portion of their ownership to be owned by their members. Currently these are "Virtual shares" but they say that when they launch their corporation they will be turned into real shares.

Zurker is being rolled out on a country by country basis and today it's New Zealand's turn! A couple of days ago I was approached by one of the founders I've had previous dealings with and asked to help with the Kiwi operation, which I agreed to. Just after midnight I registered the .nz domain name and today it's live.

Technically it's invite only at the moment but they make it pretty clear that they welcome invites via blog posts, so here's yours ... Click here ... send me a "Convo" when you sign-up. Yes, like all the others, they have their own jargon, but it translates fairly easily to the terms you are used to.

As alpha quality software you can expect a few glitches, and so far I've found a couple of fairly minor ones, but the quality seems pretty good.

Disclaimer, I'm not an executive but subject to negotiations, I intend having a personal stake in Zurker.

13 Ways To Think About And Crush Your Competition

I've been thinking about Internet start-ups a bit recently and was impressed when I stumbled across this article
13 Ways To Think About And Crush Your Competition by Jason L. Baptiste who is the co-founder and CEO of a growing venture backed startup.

He's got thirteen points and they are all different, but if I had to produce a summary it would be under two headings:
  • Be your own business - leave the competition to make their own mistakes and don't copy them.
  • Make sure you have sufficient funding in place to survive.
There's a lot more and I have no qualms recommending reading and thinking about this article.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Clement Family Christmas

Today was Christmas day and as we have done for the last several years we gathered at my sister Diana's house for the day.

To save an early start, my mother went over the night before and stayed. Tessa, my wife, Tessa's mother and I arrived around 8:30 AM. Although she runs her own baking business these days, Tessa is a fully qualified and experienced professional chef and she she insists she prepares and cooks the turkey. She soon had it stuffed and in the oven.

Then it was outside to enjoy a breakfast of Diana's home made bagels on the porch. In New Zealand, December is summer and we are having one of the first really hot days of this year's summer. Sitting on the porch was great. It was a small gathering this year, just Diana, her two children, our mother, me, Tessa, Tessa's mum and our cousin's adult daughter.

After breakfast the children wanted to see their gifts (and I suspect some of the adults did too) so it was inside for the presents to be passed out. The kids loved their presents .. mostly games for their playstation and a couple of Harry Potter DVDs. The adults gifts were more mundane, but were appreciated, Tessa got given a couple of cookbooks (I think she has them all now) and a food dehydrator which she went into raptures about ... she's been dropping hints about wanting one for a few months.

I have two brothers, one in Sydney and the other in England. The both usually phone during the day, the one in England did, but got a really bad phone line so he's going to phone Mum tonight. No word from the one in Sydney, but he'll probably phone in the evening.

Then on to the Christmas dinner. Traditional roast turkey with potato, kumera (a local sweet potato), onion, broccoli, asparagus and salad. The meal was tasty and enjoyed by all. After lunch Tessa made a devastating discovery. Her mother is an insulin dependent diabetic and while the rest home had sent her insulin with her, they had forgotten to pack the needles! Fortunately we were able to obtain one and didn't have to return to the rest home on the other side of Auckland (about an hour round trip) to get it. I can tell you we were really panicking

Next on the agena was dessert. Tessa had made a diabetic trifle which was delicious and my mother had provided a traditional Christmas pudding. A small amount of brandy was poured over the pudding and my niece tried to light it using my childproof cigarette lighter. For the first time I can remember the childproofing worked and I had to light it then try to pass it to her already lit ... it only took three goes.

Finally the kids got to play with their presents and the adults could relax over coffee. Diana and I fixed her son's bicycle, somehow the chain had come off the front derallier and wedged between the gear assembly and the frame but with a lot of jiggling and a modicum of force we freed it so he can enjoy the bike during the summer holidays.

Then finally with farewells like we would never see each other again we left to take our mothers home.

It's good to have these get togethers and it always seems a shame that we do them so seldom. It's also a little sad that two brothers are so far away, but we always think about them and often talk on the day. Family is the most important thing there is.

Originally published on Qondio